Repairing Self-Trust ~ Breaking the Pattern of Letting Myself Down



learning to trust yourself

beauty on the other side..

I grew up receiving the message that I was not that important. My feelings were invalidated and my emotional needs were discounted. And ‘that’ causes some life-long belief systems to develop when it comes to self-care and self-love. Learning that I was not important led me to discounting myself. This led to putting myself and my needs last and to breaking agreements that I made with myself. Breaking agreements with myself leads to not trusting myself in the same way that I don’t trust other people who break agreements with me.

The start of a new year always reminds me of this issue. I love the beginning of a new year. I relate a new year to a new page, a new blank slate that I can fill up in any way that I want. A new year brings new choices, new opportunities and new adventures. I often think in terms of “this year I am going to…..” and when I don’t do what I promise myself I will do, I damage the relationship I am building with myself. I damage my self-trust.

When I first noticed that I was doing this and that I didn’t actually trust myself because of it, my solution was to stop making agreements with myself. That didn’t pan out to be the best answer because the message that I was giving myself was this: If I can’t keep agreements with myself I won’t agree to anything at all. And that thought is related to many of the abuse tactics that I lived with for so long.  For example in the past when I got upset with my husband for always being late, his solution was to stop agreeing to any specific time. (he admits today that he thought this was a genius idea and also admits that it was abusive) So he would call and ask if I wanted to go with him somewhere, but he would not tell me when to be ready. I would try to guess and get the kid ready, (so I didn’t hold him up) and sometimes I would wait hours for him to come pick us up. Even when we went shopping, he refused to give me a time or place to meet him somewhere in case he was late and got in ‘trouble’ from me if he was ‘late’, but his refusal to agree to any time or place at all made me even more anxious. I would be sitting somewhere in the mall with the kids worrying about whether or not he would find me, or if he might be mad at me because he couldn’t find me or that I was the one taking too long. It solved HIS problem; if he didn’t give me a meeting place or time, he couldn’t get in trouble but it made my problem worse and I didn’t know how to communicate to him that it made things worse so I just went along with it. He did the same thing about what time we would leave the house to go somewhere. When we had plans with other people I was crazy with anxiety about what time he would be ready to go. (It was a huge learning curve for him to see that he did this and for him to change it, but he did and he admits today that he loved the control he had over me in all those situations.)

A huge problem that I had before I went through the process of emotional healing, taking my life and power back and validating myself as equally valuable to all other people, was that I didn’t SEE that I deserved to be treated the same way that “they” wanted me to treat them. I didn’t realize that I deserved to have the same respect, love and consideration that I gave to them. I didn’t realize that I was just as worthy as everyone else. I treated everyone the way I HOPED they would treat me and I believed that if I was compliant and obedient to what made them feel comfortable that eventually they would see my value and consider my needs. This way of thinking is related to victim mentality and survival mode and the expected result for mutual respect and equal value didn’t happen. After understanding that my thinking was dysfunctional and rooted in victim mentality, it was very important for me to see how I treated myself in order to see that the message that I communicated to everyone by example both in the way that I accepted devaluing treatment and in the way that I treated myself.

So the solution when it came to my relationship with me was not to avoid making agreements with myself. That is a dysfunctional and abusive relationship style; the solution was to learn to make and KEEP agreements with myself. This was how I started to learn self-trust with myself again.

To use a time worn example I will talk about setting physical health goals. Due to the grooming process inflicted on me as a child, my identity was in my body and in my physical appearance. I believed that my body and looks were my only value. When I went through the healing process, I realized that belief was a huge false belief and was one of the biggest root problems in my belief system. Believing that child sexual abuse was somehow my fault was rooted in that belief, the lack of self-esteem when it came to the way I behaved with men was rooted in that belief and many more false beliefs were attached to that huge false belief that my body, looks and physical appearance in general, was all I had.

When I found out that this deep rooted belief was a huge lie ~ that belief no longer served me. When I let go of that belief, I started to let my priority of physical health slide. I no longer felt that it was necessary to do a few miles on the treadmill 6 days a week. I stopped being so careful about what I ate. I decided that food could be a celebration and a reward after all. My identity was no longer in my appearance, body and looks! This was a wonderful freedom and represented real growth for me, but at the same time it wasn’t exactly healthy for me to neglect my physical heath.  As you may have guessed, I started to gain weight! I am in my 50’s. Once I started to throw out all my health and fitness regimes not only did I start to gain weight, I started to have symptoms of poor physical health. Aches and pains and inflammation in my joints became a daily problem. I could see that I was heading for trouble if I didn’t take some sort of healthy action.

And then I started to make and break agreements with myself. I promised myself that I would ‘start tomorrow’ but something would always come up and I would put my plans for health off till the next day. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Every time I started, I struggled with the fear of returning to the dysfunctional reasons that I was so fit and healthy in the first place. I related getting back to physical health, with being fit and healthy as a way that defined me and an unhealthy identity that made other people proud of me. (round and round this went)

I got an accountability partner. I found myself motivated by not wanting to let HER down. I realized that type of thinking is the same dysfunctional relationship system that I had been groomed to accept all my life. The belief (in a nutshell is) that if I do what someone else wants, (more for them than for me) I will be rewarded! (Victim Mentality)

Suddenly it hit me; what if I stick to the plan that I made and agreed to, so that I don’t let ME down. What if I stick to my physical health goals because I value my relationship with me? Perhaps I would have better results and get a deeper insight into the relationship that I have with myself at the same time! This is how I re-established (continue to re-establish) self-trust. I make myself a “promise” and I keep it for myself. I do this for ME. In this way I value myself the way that I wanted other people to value me. I listen to my self-talk and I pay attention to the voice that reprimands me, lovingly correcting it to the way that I want to be spoken to.

So much of my healing started with my relationship with me. I can only teach what I have learned and people (including my kids) only learn from what they witness; I strive each day to model self-love, self-respect and equal value. Although I would love to tell you that learning self-trust is easy, or that I started there, that would be a lie but I can tell you this; Self-trust is one of the big keys on the journey to wholeness.

Please share your thoughts about self-trust or about any of the examples I use in this article. Please feel free to use any name you wish in the comment form. Your privacy is very important to me. Although Emerging from Broken has a facebook page, your comments will not appear anywhere on facebook.

There is beauty on the other side of broken;

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware of the The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

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So right on as usual. I struggle with self-trust constantly, having always been undermined and questioned as well as devalued throughout childhood. For me it comes out as having extreme trouble making decisions and procrastination. I think this is because there were always consequences for making the wrong choice, and any choice I ever made was ‘wrong’ according to the parents.


Hi Cheryl
That is an excellent point! Thank you for highlighting it. That is a very big part of this issue!
Hugs Darlene


Hi, Cheryl…… I very much relate to what you said about having difficulty making choices because you don’t want to make the “wrong” choice. I was punished and belittled by my parents no matter what I did, so I often feel as if I’m “damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”

With that kind of grooming and belief system, it is easy to slip into a “What’s the use?” kind of mentality. I struggle a LOT with the “What’s the use?” type of thinking.

Hi, Darlene…..this is a fantastic topic. I have very little trust in myself because I haven’t been able, due to PTSD and dissociative issues, to always follow through on promises to myself.

Whenever I let myself down, I feel quite defeated…..as well as disappointed and very sad.

Somehow, I’d like to start small and think of a few ways to start being there for myself.

All of this is such a struggle, isn’t it?



Healing is not an easy task but oh it is so worth it. I had to change everything from the way that I HEARD things to the way that I thought and it was like re-wireing a circut board in the dark! But I did it so it is doable. When ever I find a new layer I have confidence that I can re-wire that too! Little steps, always with awareness. I listen to myself now, not only to the things I want from myself but I watch for the voice of sabotage that had become habitual in the past. That is really important.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you Darlene for a great post. I just had a therapy session today about the same issue(s)…procrastination, lack of follow through on self-care, self-sabotage. I successfully completed a year of swim classes in October & felt so good and proud of myself…and then got side-tracked and stopped – and came up with the same excuses not to start again. I’ve been feeling so bad about letting myself down!

I so relate to the victim mentality you describe. I realized over the holidays that in a very codependent way I invested heavily in work, people, holidays – always expecting that the same investment would be made in ME!

This re-wiring you mention seems daunting sometimes…I am grateful for this site and it’s insights.


I’ve also had to see that treating others the way I want to be treated doesn’t work with abusive people; they will never think ‘oh, he’s so kind and considerate, he’s a great listener, he doesn’t talk down to me, I should do all of that too,’ but they think it’s just great that they can get very good treatment without giving it back or having me stand up for myself.

It’s been difficult for me to navigate this issue of self-promises. The way my family treated me was to impose unrealistic expectations on me with no guidance or support as to how I would meet those goals, and then blame when 100% when I didn’t fulfill them. The goals they set ignored who I am, what my abilities, talents, limits and personality are. Eventually I would also do that to myself, ignoring my real needs and wishes in favor of that poisonous cycle.

But it was hard to examine since I dissociated all the time; sometimes I’d think I had fulfilled a big, permanent goal after five days, only to be disappointed when I found that wasn’t the case. Now I try to be kind, gentle, and understanding with myself; if I feel the need to do something but don’t wind up doing it, I stop and work through the issues that are in my way and give myself time to contemplate and move through them.

Today I feel a need to have only short term goals, because I have a history of waiting, of putting everything off until the time when this great thing would happen. I don’t want to do that anymore, I need to live now and not try to predict the future so much. Great post, and picture!


This has me thinking a lot. I am still learning self care so self trust is so very far from where I can even see. Some days I can’t even trust myself to just shave my legs due to some much of me needing to cut. I don’t know how to move past any of this and feel I am very stuck.


This is a great post, well expressed (as usual). I definitely have issues with this. It’s interesting what you said about an accountability partner, as I have often thought of doing this, but you are right, it is then about doing stuff for other people rather than to keep promises for yourself.

I can also relate to what Caden said. I have to be careful about living in the present and making realistic goals, and breaking bigger goals into small manageable steps. I think that itself should be my goal this year—really taking time to figure out how to breakdown bigger goals step by step and working harder to keep on track in that way. I often want to do in months what I know is going to take years, if even possible. I could project myself into the future so much that even if theoretically I knew I had a long way to go, emotionally I would live in that imagined state where all my dreams were just around the corner, if not right there. And then I’d crash of course. I’m not quite as bad with this as I used to be, but certainly it’s still a problem and I have to try to balance myself out, adjusting to reality. Envisioning “my great future” supplies me with hope, motivation, energy and cheerfulness. Some of it, I believe, is possible—longterm—and it’s probably good and important to keep that vision alive and kicking, as long as I’m actually taking those small manageable steps and not just living in fantasy land. Some of it, though, particularly stuff dependent on other people, is more harmful than good and I have to be watchful of that, as I have caused problems for myself and sometimes others as well. Self-trust is something I definitely want to keep working on because I can really see how crucial it is. You need to know that you can depend on yourself. I’m getting there and I’m a long way since where I was even a few years ago, but it’s definitely a work in progress. Thanks for this! xo, A


Hi Melli
Welcome to EFB!
The re-wireing is very hard, but the good news is that much of it takes place after the pain of facing the damage. For me that stage means I am closer to freedom from the victim mentality or unhealthy thought process that has to do with whatever needs to be re-wired, and that is great news! Oh and something else I realized; getting sidetracked does not cancel any forward movement! I can pick up where I left off!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Caden
Abusers seek out people that will comply. That is how they get their “order” restored. That is how they feel good about themselves. The more they can get someone to jump the better they feel. (and usually if you look closely, you can see who they are jumping for too) This is the dysfunctional way that we have been taught, and when I looked at it through the truth about the double standard; that they didn’t treat me or ‘love’ me, in the way that they demanded that I loved them, that was when I knew it wasn’t LOVE. When I saw the way that I had learned to treat me ~ and the true definition of love, it made is a lot easier for me to start see my relationship style with ME easier and with awareness came some changes.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Fragmented History
I had to see where my coping methods originated in order to move past them. (I write more about this in my earlier work, you can use the archive buttons to find it)
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Alaina
That sounds healthy! (and what Caden said about doing this too!) Although sometimes “I struggle with forward motion” I have found that persistence has been my best friend over the past 8 years or so since I began this process!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


I don’t recall making many decisions as a child. My mother was such a control freak, even things like putting linen away in the cupboard had to be done exactly the way she wanted it. And she wanted all the edges to line up and the folds to the front. I remember one occaision where it wasn’t done correctly, and she threw everything out of the cupboard, all four shelves of linen, and we had to put it all back the way she wanted. This is when only one shelf wasn’t done “the right way”. Another time I hung out a basketful of washing and she did the same thing. Ripped it all down and made me rehang it. Until I escaped at 16, I learnt never to make decisions for myself, always asked how she wanted it done, if you didn’t you unleashed the beast and got a beating.


Wow – Cheryl I too procrastinate and avoid decisions, delay, miss deadlines, etc! Darlene – treating others they way I HOPED they would treat me – constantly disappointed and it led to my feeling more worthless and useless. But now things (ME) are changeing….
Having recently disclosed my abuse to the police I have been struggling with Their procrastination and lack of clarity. Their totally awful communication with me has got me really mad – and I have told them so. Not only that, I went to my Member of Parliament to complain – and he has written to the Chief AND the Commissioner on my behalf!!! I was still not done – I called my liason officer – who has been totally insensitive and told him it would be a cold day in hell before I agreed to do an interview with him present…. So NOW – I am scheduled to do my video interview, with a female officer (who has been very responsive to the things I have said) on Monday morning. I can’t say I am looking forward to the process, but I am focussed on the end result. AND I am So proud of me for sticking up for myself and stating very clearly what I needed and wanted to happen. Its a first:))


My mom did that with the dishes, age ten, first time I washed, I did it along, while she did her thing in the garden, came in and inspected. I was told, probably by her yelling, that I did them all wrong, and had to wash them over again. There were SO many times like this. NOT till I got a good eye doctor in my 40’s did I find out why I didn’t have her talent for being perfect. My near vision was not coordinated. It never occurred to her that her daughter couldn’t see well, even though her other daughter wore glasses, and she told me a million times, “Open you eyes and look, you have to look at it…” To this day, my parents will tell me there is nothing wrong with my eyes, after the eye doctor put me in glasses.


The above should have read:

“My mom did that with the dishes, age ten, first time I washed, I did it ALONE, while she did her thing in the garden”


I can relate with nearly everything in this article. The issue of waiting on my husband is very familiar to me and struck a chord because my husband used to never tell me where he was going , or when he would be back, and he would never call to inform me no matter how many times I asked. He is still working on setting definite times with me. His biggest thing has been to tell me a specific time he would be home from work to pick me up so that we could go to whatever it is that we have agreed on, and then be habitually late. This last year …since I have become aware of how devaluing of MY time and feelings it has been…he has made huge efforts to change this pattern. He has admitted that he wanted to be in control. He used needing to work later than our agreed time as his excuse to get away with this. I used to feel helpless and unsure and guilty….I think that must be the victim mentality. I was also raised to believe that my feelings and wants and needs were totally unimportant and worthless, so I have been working this last year also on this area because it definitely has affected me in the area of self-care, and I have been realizing this and working on it more and more. I really related to a lot of what Caden wrote about expectations…but no guidance or support, but always the blame! Self-promises were always broken because I didn’t know at all how to trust myself, and didn’t know how to keep a promise to myself since I really didn’t have a defined sense of self to begin with! For me, not understanding all of those years what I wanted or liked or hated or even if it was okay to get excited about doing something different than my family….and hating myself…and wishing myself to be and look differently than the way I have been created to be and to look….etc etc…kept me from being able to keep promises with myself. Only this last year have I begun to scratch the surface of that truth for myself and try to become and to stay with myself long enough to understand this and to begin to work on this issue in regards to self care. I feel like I am still slipping and sliding in this area of my life, but that is okay with me because I now have the ability to branch out on my own without anyone breathing down my neck , trying to force me into being like they want me to be. It is also okay because I do now have genuine support from my husband…for the first time in our marriage…even if there are still areas we are both working on. For me personally, self trust is not easy and might never be….but hopefully it will get easier as I keep working on it step by step. I feel driven to work on this not only for ME, but also because I still feel disgust and anger of the ways I have realized this last year that I was treated….and the wasted time I have spent in that prison and victim mentality! I want to experience healthy relationships and healthy living! I have to watch out for perfectionist tendencies …that black and white thinking…or I feel discouraged and want to give up some days on self care…so I am beginning to try to remember to focus on all of the changes I have made in keeping promises to myself..and the areas I have been changing….all the good stuff! Even though it isn’t where I want to be and i am not consistent every single week or month. I think the hugest obstacle for me is self image…..Darlene was groomed to believe it was all about a body and a face….I was groomed to believe that mine was hideous. There is still some comfort in being a bit overweight for me, to be honest. I only have negative feelings when I think back to most of my life being thin. I am much older now, but those feelings aren’t! I don’t want anyone looking at me or noticing anything about my physical body, and when I am heavier, and middle aged…no one cares! I feel more accepted this way, but it isn’t the healthiest thing for me, so I have been working on being aware, facing the feelings and healing in this area too.


I also wanted to say that part of the reason for me …why self trust and self care is so difficult…is that I grew up going from one trauma to another drama, and from one chaotic situation to another. When I became an adult I was like a magnet and drew those similar type of abusers and unstable ppl and situations to me for many years. I didn’t know or understand differently! So it is almost weird to me to discover that life….and self care and trust….can actually be more simple! Step by step, one healthier choice after another. Slowing down, breathing deeply and staying focused on the moment with myself and allowing myself to feel good about a healthy choice…and a healthy activity or meal or whatever. For me, life was mostly about trying to survive all the chaos and manage the crap.


{{{The way my family treated me was to impose unrealistic expectations on me with no guidance or support as to how I would meet those goals, and then blame when 100% when I didn’t fulfill them. The goals they set ignored who I am, what my abilities, talents, limits and personality are.}}}

Wow Caden! this was my situation exactly..
I have never been able to keep commitments to myself. To others no problem. I would never think of letting someone else down. It is all mixed up with my self worth very strongly. It is changing slowly now.
Yesterday I spoke up strongly to someone that was treating me badly. I stayed on topic and expressed my feelings and then gave the other person a chance to respond. Oh boy did I second guess myself after I got off the phone.
Guess what? After a 12 hour wait, this person contacted me, apologized sincerely for the treatment, and told me exactly how he would solve the problem. It was a fair solution to both of us. It would not have happened if I did not speak up for myself.

Boy I agonized that I was wrong for those 12 hours. I tried so hard to convince myself I was wrong to speak up and now would have a bigger issue. So I still don’t trust myself. But this showed me that it works (for me inside ) to speak up to bad treatment. To trust my feelings when I get the feeling that I am experiencing abuse, and stop right there and say NO.

It also showed me that this highly valued friend took responsibility for his actions and manned up.
When I spoke up to abusive treatment by family they just shamed me and continued the bad treatment.
Two very different responses to speaking up.


Me too, with the husband, always later than he said he would be. Always unaccountable for HIS time. EVERY Sunday am a drama of same lateness. MANY more issues than those, however, and we are no longer married. I read what you wrote in #17 about drawing unstable people to you for many years and I wonder how long my children will have to suffer this fate…I divorce their dad when they were teens, 8 years ago next month, and then had to take same stand against my abusive parents after we all moved in with them after my divorce. With no real healthy examples, except now I have a healthy marriage of going on 5 years, I wonder when they will come around.

My 19-year-old called me last night to tell me that he was offended that I was asking his dad for information that he already gave me. (Yeah, the nerve that parents aren’t allowed to talk about their own offspring–plus this son rarely speaks to me at all!) But in this case, the dad reported it wrongly; I was asking about his brother, not him! And when I made that CLEAR, he retracted everything and said, “You know I love you, right? I got a personal best in my swimming record today! And mentioned again to forget what he said about being offended, and I told him that I was so glad he called!


SO true! TWO different responses from our toxic families and non-family people!!


Hi Karen,
Good for you for standing up for yourself and that it worked out so well—that’s so great!
I’m totally with you about not keeping commitments to myself like I do to others. One day at work we were talking about people who have quit without giving notice or calling—they just don’t show up. I said I could never do that and we were joking about how if I got into an accident on my way to work, I could be dying on the side of the road but trying to crawl my way to get to a phone with my last dying breath to let them know I can’t get into work, I’m so sorry… An exaggeration but kind of true actually. But I certainly don’t extend that same level of loyalty, responsibility and commitment to myself, not at all.

It’s interesting.

Darlene, this post has made me really stop and think. I’ve read other articles of yours on the same or similar subject but I guess right now, where I’m at, this one has really hit me. It makes a lot of sense. Also thinking about it in terms of loyalty and why I haven’t been loyal to myself. Of course I had to be loyal to my parents and that meant caring for their needs and wants, which meant going against my own, which meant being totally disloyal to me. Now I know how wrong it was of them to push aside my needs and expect me to deal with theirs. They were the parents. They were supposed to take care of me, but they didn’t. Even faced with the truth over the years, they chose to brush it aside as if I didn’t really matter at all. So why on earth do they deserve my loyalty? And why am I not being loyal to myself, making and keeping my promises to myself?! (I know the answer to that—I’m just stressing the point to myself). Well, I’m going to make a commitment today to make commitments and keep them with myself from now on because I DESERVE that. I know there will slip-ups (and that’s okay) but I’m really going to work on investing myself in this—to really be loyal to myself so I can trust me. Thank you so much!


believers in the workplace, those who believe and obey the system, i.e., using your last breath to call in late or absent

competitors in the workplace, those who break the rules; we know who they are and they know who “we” are


Oh… Kate, for me with my work, it’s because I really love it there and get along really well with my coworkers. They’re like family (good, healthy family) for me. A small artisan bakery. If I don’t show up, it means they have to take on extra work and I would always want to let them know I couldn’t come in beforehand, so they could adjust to that… the dying breath thing was us joking, an exaggeration of how much I wouldn’t want to leave them scrambling and speaks more to how much I care about the place and what we do there and not at all about “obeying.” Just in my case…. That said, I would never just cut and run from a workplace without notice unless they were complete and utter a**holes who were abusing me and I had enough.


sounds like a good work experience!


Hi Kate

Are you saying that your mother didn’t get your eyes tested when you were a child? Even when it was obvious you couldn’t see some things properly?


Darlene I have problems connecting to my body. I’ve always enjoyed exercising, any type of exercising gets me excited. It’s just so much fun to me. But this is where it gets so challenging, I do have a curvy body. When I started having the flashes of dad, mom, and my grandparents raping me I looked for reasons and my body was the blame. I told myself it was my body that called them in. I blamed my body because of the compliments I would get from having a curvy body. I’ve been told by different men and women that I’m sexy,sexy eyes, sexy body, they said. I don’t like it. After having a flash of dad raping me I blamed my eyes and even wanted to do self harm. I have had hot water burns after showering because of blackouts…Now I’ll be forty-nine in June. I’m not as afraid to live in this body. I do fear compliments still but I’m determined not to allow this fear to paralyze me from enjoying and having fun exercising…It’s hard living in this body but I’m thankful I have it. It’s the body God gave to me. My 23yr.old daughter encouraged me so much just two nights ago when I talked to her about my struggle, about receiving compliments.Thank you Darlene for sharing your story. It encouraged me as did my daughter’s words to me. I pray that you continue to grow with self- respect and trust, experiencing the joy of being whole….Will


Ha. You hit the nail on the head with this one. It feels pretty good to actually begin to recognize these traits in myself, even though I have intellectually understood them for quite a while, but until I actually “saw” it, I was powerless, in a way. Your words are very helpful to me. They help me to “see” correctly. Thank you for being public, and for being in my life. Thanks, Darlene.


Hi Daisy
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
That is what I am talking about when I talk about the message that the child gets about him or herself when this kind of stuff goes on. Besides the fact that it is crazy behaviour on the part of your mother but how would a child ever know what crazy behaviour is?? Thanks for sharing! Great example of how we learn not to make any decisions or to think for ourselves!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Libby
Yay for things changing and yahoo for you sticking up for yourself. That is so important in this process. (to validate ourselves and what happened to us) It really helped me to realize that standing up for myself is necessary to healing, but the results are not. In other words, you spoke for you, you did this for you and if these perps get away with what they did, that does not mean that you are wrong, it means that the system is faulty. The end result is about YOU and your healing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Diane
Excellent comments! I hope everyone reads what you have written here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Karen!
This is awesome!! Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Alaina
Recovery is a cycle of its own! Just like our belief systems form one layer on top of another, (One belief builds on the first dysfunctional belief) recovery is like taking one layer off and then seeing another..
Reaching the point of asking myself why I was not loyal to myself was a whole other level of healing and a very big sign of growth and clarity!
Thanks for sharing! You are inspiring!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi W.
Great comments! The willingness to persist, to keep going forward is what saved me the most and my persistence is what I am most grateful for today! I have so much stuff around this ‘body’ belief stuff and so much of it I have overcome but I still have to keep my awareness in that area.
Love your comments W.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Robert
YES it does feel good to ‘get’ this stuff. I totally relate to what you are saying Robert!
I a gald that you are here too!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone:
Alaina, I was exactly that way in every job. Never late, no sick days, took on others work while other workers showed how little they valued their job. I once had a long conversation with a boss about this topic (back in 1990!) and he said that the
ones who are late etc “train” bosses to expect that behavior from them and so no one notices their lapses because its expected of them. Where as if the hard worker (doormat) is late one time he is called into the office for a chewout
because he has trained everyone
that he is never late, or sick etc. So by being the perfect employee
we set ourselves up. Its so hard
to accept that because it is backward thinking to me but Ive seen it over and over again.


Karen, I’ve spent most of my life in school but I’ve already noticed exactly what you’re talking about. I left my last job for that reason, among others. I heard the turnover of workers there was usually 6 months. I made it 9. Actually I quit that job and cut off contact with my parents in the same week—I was done, intent on no more being that doormat and finding somewhere healthy where I’d be appreciated instead! I’m so glad I did! I get the impression, though, that places like where I work, where you get along with everyone and are appreciated, might be a rarity, which is sad, considering all the hours of your life you have to spend at work.


Too often I have felt if I helped often enough, understood someone enough despite it being in contrast to what I needed, loved hard enough, sacrificed enough, capitulated enough or put my needs second enough that I could make someone love me enough. You can di all these things and still not have someones love, adoration and respectThis is a victim mentality and I need to break it!!!!! I AM ENOUGH!!! What is it going to take to make my heart truly believe it????



Yes, I am saying that my mother did not get my eyes tested beyond whatever was offered free in the schools! I can not remember an eye exam until I was 14. I went to an opthamologist instead of an optometrist. She did not even come in the room with me. I was completely intimidated by how close he got to my face, and could hardly stand it. He said that I would have to get glasses when I was 16, two years from then. However, I passed the driver’s test, so never did get glasses. But you see, the opthamologist did not check my near vision. Routine eye exams were not his thing.

My sister, however, was wearing glasses during junior high or before.

She also got a pedigreed dog, and my parents never hated that dog the way that they hated my dog. I thought they were becoming more sanctified and were now treating dogs better. NOW I know that they yelled at my dog and treated her badly because they treated me badly, as they still do, and treated my sister well.


found this

“You are no one’s savior. Staying in the narcissist’s life is not going to someday save them. Leaving them will not destroy them (no matter what they tell you). If you decide you must withdraw, do so without apology or shame. If you happen to be wrong, your withdrawal is not going to damage the other person’s life. If you didn’t misjudge, you’ve taken an action that has protected your self without taking retaliatory actions against the other party. Narcissists would like to pretend your withdrawal is retaliatory, but that is a lie. It is the kindest, gentlest way of dealing with their toxicity. It acknowledges that you are not willing to be hurt anymore, and that you’ve abdicated the idea that the narcissist’s salvation somehow is dependent on you. While they characterize “no contact” by you as cruel, the opposite is true. It is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for them. They are deprived of using you and you are not responsible for increasing their evil by letting them hone it on you.”

After Narcissistic Abuse there is Light, Life, and Love


I love what you wrote here Darlene as I do all that you share here… I know I never felt valued .. I remember how awful I felt knowing when I realized I have never really felt warmth or love at home .. that I never had been hugged..never heard I love you.. My only value was when I scrubbed and cleaned and cared for my siblings.. The only contact I had from mom was the terrible beatings and other stuff .. so what did that all teach me.. . that I didn’t deserve much .. that i was only valuable if i was scrubbing, cleaning.. doing something . without all that I was nothing.. at least in my home..

Strangely everyone that come into my life for so long was using me the same way mom and all did and I didnt realize that was not what i deserved.. I came to accept that.. as what was my lot in life.. sad.. isn’t it..

IT took some very very bad thing to occur to make me realize how badly I had been damaged.. and how much help I needed.

Only now am beginning to discover who I am . .the good . the bad.. and what I can do or not do.. I never knew myself.. only knew what i was expected to be or do….

Regarding resolutions.. I kinda don’t do that stuff.. I don’t want to make such a committment when I have enough to make it through one day .. being good to myself and improving etc.. So my resolution if anything is simply to keep on trying..

I don’t know if anything fits in here.. but I know I have a long journey to healing. and coming to know who I am and what I am capable of . I have value because I am ..who I am.. different than others.. and unique as can be.. that’s how God made me;) It’s a challenge to accept just being me and not who everyone wants me to be..

Hugs to you..


Kate, it’s horrible when it’s so blatant. Even when the opthamologist told your mother that you needed glasses at 16, she “forgot”.

I’ve got a dog story as well. I was given a toy poodle puppy when I was around 12. I named her Bella and I loved that dog so much. I didn’t receive love and affection from my parents, in fact I got the opposite, but when I played with Bella I was happy. One day I came home from school to be told that my mother had given Bella away. I was devastated.


The example you share (that the perfect employee is often a doormat) is part of this whole thing; IF the perfect employee is actually operating from a place of victim mentality, then that is actually way they are taken advantage of. When I changed my belief system, I stopped giving off the signal that I was or would be a doormat. I noticed that I was treated differently even by store clerks. It was very interesting. The key (in my view) is to change the core beliefs that we have about ourselves.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Debbie
You can’t ‘make someone’ love you. You are enough, and YOU need to believe it and that is what made my heart truly believe it. The work to get to that point is what I write about in this site. I had to validate the pain and damage that caused my self esteem to crash (or never develop) in the first place.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Joy
It sound like you have come a long way too! My top priority is persistence; to keep going forward and I am grateful ever day that I keep persisting. Being good to me, listening to me, taking care of me ~ those are all the things that make such a huge difference on this journey!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Daisy
Its horrible and very painful when a parent so carelessly and thoughtlessly just ‘gives away a pet’ like that. That is very traumatic. I am so sorry that happened to you.
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene..

Yes..I have come a long way. I look forward to seeing more of your blog.

I am coming off 4 weeks of a bad flu / cold. .Still have the congestion…

I haven’t seen much of the net for so long that I feel some folks think I fell off the map..

I do my daily poem and of course the work i do for a company and that’s it..

I think I need the internet .. it’s part of caring for me. lots of my friends are there..

How have you been Darlene? Hope you don’t mind me asking here..

I am still in all the legal tangles.. will be so glad when I can close the book on it all. Hoping no more visits to that dreaded place.. too..

Happy New year to all.. hope good things come for everyone..;)




Hi Joy
I am doing really great, thanks for asking. Lots of new things coming up this year; I am pretty excited!
I hope your legal tangles are over soon! I am so proud of you for seeing it through! I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Hugs, Darlene


Yes Alaina and Darlene I get it now. I worked in at least 4 jobs where I was the doormat. A
perfect employee doing more than my share and never gave a bit of trouble. I was passed over time and time again. I finally would get fed up when I couldn’t take anymore and quit, I wouldn’t get a reference and would have to start over. I never understood why. A couple of times I stood up for myself and things went well in those jobs. I haven’t worked in 3 years now, finding hard to
get a job in my new location.

I thought exactly like you. Word for word. I could not seem to get anyone to love me. I always kept trying though as I thought I wasn’t trying hard enough. Boy that got me into trouble in my teen years. No boundaries. No good info about anything from my Mom. A terrible desire to please. Emotional instability. Impulsivity and risk taking. I had no fear of anything. (Except lightning) I was going to make someone love me. It didn’t go well. When I failed and got into trouble it was because I
was inherently bad and should have obeyed my parents more. I was being forced into being a non person of complete obediance and compliance. I was at war with myself. Who I really was inside was trying to get out and every time she appeared she was punished into compliance.


Hi Darlene ..again 😉

Since i finished my last class.. i will have more time to peak in.. I was really away from everyone .. and missed my online friends.. I appreciate your support too. This blog has always been a blessing to me since I have found it..

That I stuck to it all (the legal stuff) is really quite an accomplishment since I had suffered so much for choosing to do so.. I know it’s going to prove to be worth it.. Though it has really been quite painful at times..

I am lucky to have found people who stood beside me through all this and didn’t just disappear when the waves began to rock my boat. 😉

One learns quickly who are the real friends and real people in one’s life when tough times come. .

Glad you are doing great and I look forward to all the new things to come. .




I too have a dog story. I had a cocker spaniel named Blackie. Dogs were never allowed in the house
even though we lived in NH. The dog got the unheated cellar in the winter. Unfortunately my dog liked to chase cars and got hit by a snow plow. He was not taken to the vet. Dad put him in his dog house in the unheated garage. It was January. He just stuffed a tarp in the door of the dog house for warmth.
Blackie died that night hurt alone and in the cold. I was 8 at the time and was the one who found him frozen the next morning. It was horrible. Animals were treated no better than children in our house.


#39, Giving the dog away…how devastating, Daisy!!

My kids had a dog that disappeared one night with no evidence. Looking back it makes sense that my ex told someone to come and get it while we were gone and never told us that. He loves the drama of watching people react. He gave my piano away without my involvement and sold another dog we had to his friend. My first kitten I had with him before kids also mysteriously disappeared. A lot of pieces fit together looking back.

So sorry, Karen, about your dog’s tragedy! And worse, the abandonment by your father!


Thanks Darlene, it was traumatic to have my lovely little dog given away. She was really affectionate, and I loved snuggling up with her. I think it was a turning point where I started to feel anger towards my mother and the start of my rebellious stage. I remember that I couldn’t talk to or stand to be around her anymore.

Kate, I’m so sorry it’s happened to you so many times, your ex sounds quite heartless.

Karen, stories like that make my blood boil. Your father’s treatment of Blackie is truly shocking. Domestic animals are so dependant on humans for their survival, but such cruel and heartless treatment is criminal.

I know you said animals were treated no better than children in your house, but hopefully your father wouldn’t have left you out in the cold like he did Blackie.


In regard to this statement above: “I had to change everything from the way that I HEARD things to the way that I thought and it was like re-wireing a circut board in the dark!”

That’s really good. Change the way you hear things…yes, yes. That is so true. My journey to healing is very new, but I made the connections, I’ve been talking it out to myself when I’m driving….and yes, I’ve been in a couple small family gatherings of late, and I WAS HEARING THINGS differently! I actually felt quite uncomfortable…the dysfunction is like a thick viscus liquid hanging in the air. I know my relationship with my family will never be the same, but I ain’t losing any sleep over it. I actually have a small feeling of freedom….like a very small seed that is way deep down inside of me. I have alot of work to do on my own root causes, belief systems, self-care and self-validation. Fifty years worth of emotional abuse to try and undo…and I do have days where I feel like it’s hopeless….I’m too old now….oh, what’s the use. That’s when I talk it out to myself. Something that really helped me recently was trying to view myself as a child and comparing it to how I feel about my small grandson. When I think of how much I love my grandsons and how I have showered them with love and validation. How when it’s cold outside, I even worry about their little fingers getting too cold while waiting for the school bus. I let them know they are a precious gift and I value them as the jewels that they are. I just put myself into my grandson’s shoes and picture myself at infancy, 2 yrs old, 3 yrs old…as a young child; and I say Connie, you WERE just as precious as those boys are, you were just unfortunate to be born into a family who could not and would not give you any type of validation. When I make these comparisons, little tiny light bulbs go off in my mind and I know I’m in the very early stages of healing. I know this won’t be an easy journey and it’s hard to start caring for yourself, after decades of not caring for yourself at all, but hopefully I can keep the promises I made to myself about wanting to heal, and keep the vision in my mind of my precious inner child, who is in desperate need of care.


A TECHNICAL QUESTION: Does anyone know how to find all comments that I have written on “Emerging from Broken?” I’m so early in my healing process, and it is beginning to dawn on me that every comment I made on this site is part of my healing and I want to compile and continue my efforts to write about and express past trauma. If anyone knows an easy way to do this, could you please let me know. Thank you!


Hi Connie
There is no way for you to do that easily but if you have ever subscribed to comments, would you have email notifications about the new comments after yours? I looked quick and you have commented on the last 5 posts, (at least,) and several on the following posts: Pam’s post “how judgemental people define other people”, as well as my post “smile an example of belief system formation” and “brain washing in dysfunctional family systems”.
Hope that helps.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi .Connie and Darlene..

I happen to be pretty good with ..searches and inquiries and thought this may help Connie..Is it okay I share this Darlene.. if not I wont be offended you erase it..:)

Connie, if you go to google, bing or yahoo search and maybe type .. as keywords.. connie emergingfrombroken and press enter or search. you may find your posts

I am amazed what can be found with the major search engines…

Hope this is okay to post? Have a nice day..



Hi Joy,
Awesome idea!
For anyone else doing this, please remember that there is more than one of most names on this blog. In some cases there are three or four of the more common names!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

Good thing is with the search..even if there is more than one name..the person searching may be able to tell which one is theirs.. I do so much searching and research for company I work for that I have learned many ways to discover and uncover information… I am sure you probably thought of this too, Darlene, as you are super smart…





Hi Karen
Your dog story touched me. What a horrible thing to happen to a pet and to a child.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs and love, Darlene

Hi Connie
I call it “the fog” and coming out of the fog was a fairly lengthy process but it speeds up once you get the hang of it and the clarity comes faster. (for me at least)
I love your comments! About your grand-sons; I had to look at other children to see my own value too. I often suggest to my clients to hear their own story as if it was thier neice, nephew, daughter or friends child telling it to them. It makes such a difference to ‘step out of our own feelings’ for a minute and realize how we would react if someone else told us the same things.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
Just stumbled on your website today, thank you so much! It’s totally awesome and speaks volumes to me.
My current boyfriend has a similar “planning phobia”, and his solution is also that we never plan. But I cannot plan with any of my friends either! Because then I’ll miss on opportunity to see him if he gets inspired to do something. And it’ll upset him too.
Funnily, my previous boyfriend wanted exactly the same arrangement. (Looks like this kind of phobia is quite common)
So far, I’m recognizing when how I’m treated is not how I want to be treated, and getting out, but I still haven’t managed to attract a healthy person into my life. Hope I get there one day…

Lots of love,


Hi Maria,
Welcome to EFB
With my husband I decided that I was going to plan for ME. I stopped communicating that I was waiting around for him. I had to begin to treat myself differently before other people treated me differently. It was all about my relationship with me; I had begin to value my own needs, my time, my life, my plan etc. Relationship with another person is not all up to one person. Equal value to both people is the only healthy way!
Hugs, Darlene


Validation + Rewiring= Healing.


Any relationship is 2 way.


Thank you everyone for your kind words and thoughts for my dog. I haven’t thought about that in many years. The conversation here brought it to mind. Many stories here parallel my experiences.

Daisy my father was thoughtlessly cruel. He was a total Narcissist. He just didn’t value anyone or anything except himself. My mother however is
very deliberate about her cruelty. She was the one who locked me out one winter night. She
would give away my things to punish me then justify herself by saying I didn’t want them any more. She is passive aggressive.
She is elderly now and playing the “I don’t remember card”.
Just talking about her winds me up. But talking helps. Thanks to all for listening and sharing.


Hi Sian
Welcome to EFB!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Everyone
I just published a new post~ This week PAM W. shares about the process of forgiveness (of child abusers) as it was for her. I look forward to the conversation!
Here is the link The Process of forgiving child abusers by Pam Witzemann http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-process-of-forgiving-child-abusers-by-pam-witzemann/
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Maria…Welcome!!
I’m working on my husband too! What I learn I share with him in a “guess what I read about today ” way. After 4 months now he is listening and actually cheered me on the other day when I spoke up to someone who was using me. Wow! That was major for him. He sees that if I am happier, he is happier and men do like to be happy. Lots of good articles here and discussions.


Hi Everyone!
I just published a new post by Pam W.
Here is the link ~ This new post is called “My Reckoning Journey on the path to Forgiving my Parents by Pam Witzemann” and in this one Pam goes deeper into her personal history on her path to finding forgivness.
I look forward to reading the conversation!


Hi, found this page through google search on ‘moving on from emotional neglect’.

I found the post on self trust really useful as I got to thinking that I dont have many people in my life that I trust completely, other than my therapist, who always seems to be spot on, but want to extend my support network.

My parents divorced when I was around two years old and I have since had superficial relationships with both, not really having that much respect from either of them for various reasons, but mainly because I didnt trust them – they told me they loved me but their actions were complete opposite to this! I have since had relationships that have emulated the same kinds of things, and have felt unable to share my true feelings with people I have considered friends, because I dont trust them. I have gotten to the stage where im happy to not have my mother in my life, because the relationship is destructive and negative, and im trying to do the same with my dad, because the relationship is much the same. My issue I suppose is having the right people in my life, ones that I can trust. It is so so easy to fall back to old familiar habits, and have relationships that emulate the ones I have described, because this is all I know – my challenge to myself is to find relationships (both with friends and a partner) that are positive. I tell myself that I dont trust a certain person because of this or that, then question myself, am I being too paranoid/skeptical? I should trust my feelings, but I dont always do this. This is the thing I want to work on. If I cant trust my own gut instinct, how can I trust anyone else??


Hi Rose
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
I had to do a lot of work on trusting myself and I did that by listening to myself and keeping agreements that I make with myself but something that helped me even more that that is giving myself permission NOT to trust before people showed trustworthy-ness. There is nothing wrong with being careful and when you are a survivor of any type of abuse including emotional neglect, it is important to be careful until you have the confidence in yourself that you can protect yourself if someone proves ‘untrustworthy’.
Hope this helps!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I’ ve had this article on my ‘to read’ list for days. I’m finally getting to it WOW! I couldn’t put it into words any better. I wish I could but I digress. I can’t thank you enough. I have struggled with the belief system that my ‘looks’ we’re all important. When I began to face my abuse, I also began to care less and less about what I looked like and what delicate I did for myself. I tried and failed again and again with being accountable to someone else. I tried to tell myself I wanted this for me. Not for anyone else. I know that is the right thing to do for myself but I still find myself breaking promises to myself. What I learned from this is that I need to learn to value myself better and learn to trust myself and learn to keep promises to myself. The big question I ask myself is HOW. How will I do this? Good for my thoughts…
Thanks again….I will keep reading.


Hi Lisa!
One step at a time is how I did this. One realization of something holding me back and how I could overcome it, and then one more, cementing a new belief for each one and eventually, there was enough change that I started to feel better about me and about my life and my progress. Self love is where my self trust began. I had to get solid in the self love and self care first.
Hang in there!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone!
I just published a new post about “how I believed it was up to me to fix problems in relationships”!
I look forward to the conversation there!
here is the link:http://emergingfrombroken.com/how-i-believed-it-was-up-to-me-to-fix-problems-in-relationships/
Hugs, Darlene


New Post just published ~ is TRUST Mandatory in Healthy Relationships? I was taught a false understanding of trust. This post highlights what trust really is and how we come to believe we have no choice in the trust issue.
I am looking forward to the converstaion ~ http://emergingfrombroken.com/is-trust-mandatory-in-healthy-relationship-the-true-definition-of-trust/
Hugs, Darlene


I have no self-trust left, as everytime I do trust someone they do something to destroy that trust. Happens all the time. Then I read this:

“if I do what someone else wants, (more for them than for me) I will be rewarded! (Victim Mentality)”

Never thought of it this way. OK. Back to the drawing table. How about if I keep a promise to my Self to do what I want, what I need, what is required for my own health and sanity? I can give this a try. Thanks, Darlene! F


I always said “my trust mechanism is broken.” I don’t know who to trust and can’t tell in my personal life (my business life isn’t a problem) because I had to trust untrustworthy people all the time growing up, and then listen to how much they “loved me” and how I “wasn’t seeing things correctly” or it was “my fault” or “I didn’t deserve it” blah blah blah, or any of the endless things we have discussed here.

I always said I was like a car that didn’t have reverse gear. I could drive just fine, and I knew how to park, but I had to go around the block quite a bit to find the right spot since I couldn’t back out. I figured out how to work around this, but in the end it did me no good. When I got older I wasn’t strong enough to push the car out of the parking lot when I had no choice but to have to back out, and couldn’t do it because that gear was broken. Got myself stuck, had to get out and walk a mighty long way (metaphorically speaking).

So now it’s get that broken gear fixed or get a new car somehow! Until I started reading here, I didn’t think learning who and what to trust would be possible. But I’m willing to try anything at this point, so perhaps I could try to “trust myself.” Hmmm. Well, we’ll give it a try. It’s a good new year’s resolution. And it’s about time.

Thanks, Darlene!


Thanks for the search tips Darlene. Yes, it does work if you put your name then emerging from broken. Makes a great start to a journal to get all your posts and replies together! Yeah!

Hugs to everyone,


Hi Everyone
I have been ill with some sort of stomach but but today I am feeling better and I have published a new post!!
This one is about the ‘why’ behind people who refuse to hear what you are trying to explian. It also talks about my marriage and how my husband Jim, at first, refused to hear what I was trying to tell him too.

You can read it here: “The Reason that People don’t Hear what You are Trying to say”

Hugs, Darlene


Wow! So very true. I always think if I treat others with respect and love, they will respect me too. As you mentioned, this is not always the case. It’s a tough lesson for me, but I can’t ever act “good enough” for certain people. Mainly my Mom. But my heart keeps telling me to try, try again. It’s not logical. Many people will treat me kindly, but I don’t even have to earn it. There’s mutual respect because we are humans. I don’t have to bend over backwards.

I always feel like crying tears of joy when strangers treat me with true selfless kindness. Humans can be amazing! I’m shocked at how loving some people are… Expecting nothing in return. I can let my guard down with people who understand true equality. Love is a two-way street. I’m slowly learning that I can’t work hard enough to earn some people’s love. I have to let go of that dream… That if I’m good enough, they’ll respect me. It doesn’t work that way. Like you wrote, that’s victim mentality.


Hi Healing Slowly
Thanks for sharing these thoughts! I love them!
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks so much for this post! It’s explained so much to me, including why my ex would never tell me anything and why it upset me so much (hey, it’s not because I’m too demanding, or a control freak- it’s because it’s an abusive form of control!).

A real revelation for me was the concept of self-trust. I’ve had trouble keeping committments to myself since childhood- from brushing my teeth to finishing important projects or paying bills. I live not only with the consequences of my failures but with a constant worry about why I keep letting myself down; is it because I’m lazy? Sick? Or just bad? And why is it that I can keep committments to other people but not to myself?

Reading this post made me realise that I don’t trust myself and, just as you said, my solution was to make no promises and have no expectations. People are always telling me I should make a to-do list and I couldn’t explain (because I didn’t understand) that I stopped making them because I don’t trust myself and it’s so hurtful to look at lists full of things I promised myself, and failed, to do.

This post has given me hope that by working on the issue of self-trust instead of motivation or discipline (which have gotten me nowhere) I might finally regain control of my life!

Also, Kate, thanks for that quote. I left someone who may or may not have been a narcissist, and I’m still dealing with my guilt over it. What you posted was comforting to me.


I just thought of something.

I’ve been wondering for years why I have such a strong need for approval from others; of course it’s partly because of lack of approval in my childhood, but I’m suddenly wondering if it isn’t also in part because I don’t value my own judgement and therefore self-approval is worthless to me.

A sad thought, but one that also gives me hope for change.


A lot of the reason that I didn’t trust myself or even respect myself was because I believed the messages I got from adults in childhood; that I was ‘the problem’ and so in a way I punished myself and disregarded myself. That was the big learning curve on the path to healing for me. There is lots in this site about that!
Hugs, Darlene


I really needed to hear this today. I can remember that even my fantasies were abusive relationships. I would meet a man and he would hurt me, demean me, then discard me. I now know that those scars are deep and everyday I have to give myself permission to peel back another layer. I have uncovered so many lies and even allowed myself to see it in its entirety. I have to admit that about a week ago, I didn’t even feel like a shell of a person. I literally felt dead, hollow. I was watching a training video and the speaker said something that woke me from my twilight sleep. He said three words BE, DO, HAVE. He said that most people approach those words from right to left and feel that they have to have before they can do, then they can be whoever they are supposed to be. The truth is that you must first BE, in order to DO, then you will HAVE. I understood this more than all the books I’ve read, all the websites I’ve visited, and the counseling I had. The real truth is that I AM, already, simply because I am here. If I were my own mother, and I could go back to that little girl sitting on the steps crying or terrified to tell my mother I was sick or hurt, what would I say to her? The same things I say to my son. You are beautiful, unique, special, valuable, and I love you. I make sure I tell my son, everyday, how much he means to me. He is the best present Mommy ever got in her whole life. I never want him to have to earn my admiration, he deserves it because he is here. I am slowly giving myself permission to see that I do too. So my promise to me, at age 42, is to not look back with regrets. To allow myself to want those things that I should have been allowed when I was 13. I have to realize that even though my mother does not agree, I am not a child and she cannot make me feel like I am. And to all of her accomplices who have kept me in a wounded state, no more. I have allowed this for more than 40 years. It has taken me 9 years to feel this way. But I can honestly say that I am finally here. I still have to remind myself that I am here everyday. The layers are getting lighter as I send these words out into the universe, or at least the world wide web anyway. I smiled yesterday for the first time in a while. I mean a real smile from within, not that fake mask I have been wearing all this time. I honestly think my mother felt it. She began feigning illness again. Even though I was again commissioned to take her to the eye doctor in sit in a hot car, with my son, for 2 and a half hours, she couldn’t break me. We played in the rain and laughed. In closing, THE BEST REVENGE IS TO LIVE WELL!!!!


Hi Sherrie
Welcome to EFB ~ I went back to that little girl that was me and I became ‘my own mother’ and I listened to me, I validated my pain and I realized that I could overcome the damage that was caused to me. I found out how to BE by realizing the whys about how I got broken and exposing the lies that those traumas caused me to accept about me. Yay for freedom! Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


this is such a great article, Darlene. Hits close to come…


I meant home 🙂


This is like my mom’s thing of never saying what she means and never meaning what she says. It’s like she can’t be held accountable. I now just realized she most likely subconsciously does this on purpose. Because I recently found out her biggest issue is “accountability” or refusing to be held to such. the first time I sought the help of a psychologist in my 20’s, the first thing he said was…”You want people to be accountable.” At the time, I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I just now put it all together.


When someone you trust lets you down, you make excuses for THEM because you don’t want to see that they were the bad person, you were the bad person for making the demand.

This is why I learned always to depend on me and never to “need” anyone else.


Darlene – I have been a long time subscriber and this article helped me immensely. I face slightly different issues here, I’m afraid to make a commitment to myself because “it won’t matter” and “I will let myself down anyway” and “I won’t stick with it and will have one more piece of evidence that I’m a failure” – I literally feel that I CAN’T stick to any commitment to myself. It’s like my power to stay committed just leaks out. I’m also masochistic and when I can’t get myself to do the things I want then I punish myself with poor self care and neglect – I stop working out completely, let my home fall into disarray and stop brushing my teeth at night, and poor hygiene – it’s like a self-punishment to show myself what a slob I am. Please help me – how can I begin to overcome this? What is the next step after seeing the pattern? I see it but don’t know how to begin changing it.


Hi Mia
I had all those fears too! I realized that because of the false truths that I learned about myself and the way that wrong treatment defined me, I learned to treat myself the same way I was being treated and that is what led to always letting myself down, which led to having NO trust in myself. It IS self punishment but for me it had its roots in the way that I believed it WAS my fault when I was a kid and I was still punishing myself AS that kid. The beginning for me was seeing that it was never my fault back then in the first place.
hugs, Darlene


I’m in the same boat as Mia. I totally understand feeling like you are not worth it, not even enough to try to be happy. Right now I am sitting in a awakened moment. It feels like being in prison, knowing you’re innocent, waiting to be set free. Most self help books (and I have read quite a few) will tell you to remember a time when you were happy and in control of your life. We don’t always have that luxury. As soon as something good happened, the rug was pulled from under me. I was not allowed to be proud of myself. I looked back and realized that I was a good kid, straight A student, received honors for my accomplishements, only to have them ignored at home. They meant nothing. I am going back and celebrating those things as an adult. Throw yourself a tiny party. Do something for yourself, that you would do for someone else. Start pleasing you. We all learned how to do that under the thumb of narcissistic parents. Put all that bad education to practice. That is how you begin to love yourself. I’m starting to do these things. I also go back in my mind and say things to my memories, or imagine if I were there with that little girl. I am becoming my own best friend. That little girl did not deserve to be ignored, or have men act inappropriately with her, or be yelled at, neglected, etc. That little girl was beautiful and brilliant, as all children are. Treat her that way. Give her a chance. New memories will come to light. Look at them, don’t stay angry for long, know that it all made you a better person than those who told you that you were not worthy. Know that you were not an accident. Know that we are all here to teach those who come after us. It is not easy. Take it slow. It takes time. I love me now, even if no one else does. God Bless.


I have been going to therapy for a bit over a year. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so stuck. I am the classic denial/discounter of em all. My gosh, I heard myself speaking as I read. Be true to me? What a concept. I wonder how it would feel. I’m going to go try it now. I have been pounding myself in the head for not doing what I know I should be doing (for me). I am going to change the way I talk to myself too. I think that is extremely important.


Daisy and others: Regarding pets,

My mother gave away my young cat because she was jealous and wanted to hurt me. I was 16, tall, skinny and cute, but I was miserable and the cat was the only good thing in my life. I’d gone away one weekend and when I got back my kitten Gunnar was gone. My mother admitted with an ugly scowl on her face that she’d gotten rid of him though he was well behaved and litter box trained. I went into a rage; she then shamed me for getting mad. This horrible woman, this bitch, presents a charming façade to the world. Most think she’s wonderful.

She also hates all men; I’ve been listening to her complaints about them since I was five years old. She thinks that all women (except me) are wonderful. Woman doctor? Woman dentist? Must be really good. Male doctor, dentist, neighbor, salesman? Must be a bastard. One of the last times I saw her, she said “Don’t you just hate all men?” I said no, that I liked men and would hate to live in a world without them. She said, “Then get out of my house”! I got up to leave, though I’d just flown sitting up all night on a plane from Seattle. She then begged me to stay and I did but could see she was crazy. I terminated all contact about a year later in order to protect my mental health.

By the way, deep in a psychiatric article about narcissism I read that they often have a pet issue like my mother’s hatred of males.
She has every other marker for narcissism except materialism.

Even at my age and after years of NC, I’m more appalled than ever when I look back at my parents’ treatment of their kids. When unstable people run a family it damages every person and relationship in the family.

Now that she’s 88, people ask my mother why her eldest daughter isn’t around. I hear that she tells them that I moved away when I was 17 and never came back because “Davina doesn’t like family”. In truth, Davina wanted to protect herself. But her response makes me the freak and her the rejected mother.

I see now that both of my parents had/have personality disorders and never should have had kids. But they came of age in the 50s when you had to get married and have kids in your early 20s or you were strange, so that’s what they did.

I wish that birth control would be inexpensive and widely available and that society would encourage people to have kids only if they are truly up to the task and emotionally stable. Perhaps then there would be fewer abused kids and the cycle would wind down.


Hi Davina. The more I read here and then apply to my own life, the more patterns I see and understand. I also pick up similarities between my mother and the mothers others describe here. My mother always wanted to hurt me. Although she was very pretty, she may have seen my youth as some sort of competition, so she hurt me and put me down in many different ways. Her biggest thing was telling me I was ugly.
Just like your mother, mine put on quite a charming face to the outside world. Everyone thought she was wonderful. She also was a pro at shaming me and blaming me for whatever was wrong. When I read that your mother says “Davina doesn’t like family” it just hit me how easily and masterfully my own mother could twist a story to her advantage just like yours did. And where does the blame always fall? On us of course. And they become the victims. Ugh!!
By the way, my mother adored males, but hated females. Including her own daughter. 🙁


Hi Amber,

I’m sorry about your mom! How she could call you ugly and live with herself is beyond me.

The crazy thing about my mom is that in theory she hates men and claims to despise sexism, but then knocks her self out waiting on and enabling my nephews, brother and a longtime friend of hers. They could be serial rapist/murderers and she’d wait on them and defend them to the end. Despite her constant talk about women needing to stick together, she’s never backed me up and always takes the other side from me. There was never anyone there when I needed a mother.

Sadly, the patterns are very similar. We’ll never know what it’s like to have a real mom, and that hurts.

I wish you much happiness despite the tough start!


On calling people ugly:

I had an abusive aunt with three daughters, each truly beautiful. However, the youngest was the most “perfect” of the three and the aunt often told her how beautiful she was.

The aunt constantly called the other two daughters ugly and criticized their body parts in detail. Fifty years later, those two daughters have every part of their bodies remodeled by plastic surgery–noses, knees, stomachs, butts, necks, faces, even vaginas and labia. The daughter labeled “beautiful” has had no plastic surgery.

Witnessing his mother’s constant verbal abuse of his sisters also traumatized her son, who seems terrified of women and has been with just one unstable woman (drugs, alcohol, kids taken away, suicide) in his 50 years.

My grandmother was a wonderful woman by all accounts. My grandfather was abusive in the way that my mother and half of her siblings are–he was a charmer in public, and then would go home and beat his wife and kill the family pets. Three of his now-elderly kids seem to have the same disorder he did and each have adult children who haven’t spoken to them in years or are damaged as mentioned above.

I suspect that there is often a genetic link to these mental disorders and that is part of the reason that I chose not to reproduce.


Hi Davina! How could my mother call me ugly and live with herself? She was so dysfunctional that the way she made herself feel good was to squish me down in any way she could. It wasn’t enough for her that she was beautiful. She was aging and I had youth, so her way of evening the score was to make me feel ugly. She called me ugly when I got braces for my teeth and when I had to wear glasses for six weeks to correct an eye condition. She would make me feel like a clunky ox by talking about my BIG hips. She would pick the person she thought was the ugliest in the family and tell me I resemble that person.

My mother hated her mother. She said she was very deprived as a child and her mother would give my mothers stuff away to her sister’s kids ( my mothers two girl cousins) and that she was rarely home. The cousins were given these things because their father left the family and divorce followed at a time when it was still rare. My mother envied her fiends whose mothers came home with new dresses and shoes for them. Okay, so she was deprived, but why then did she turn around and do something similar to me? Her closet, and part of mine were filled with her huge quantities of clothing. And she gave me hand me downs that were atleast 20 years old that she got from an aunt of mine and forced me to wear these ill fitting gross looking clothes at the age of 12 when other kids were at their meanest when you didn’t fit in. If I complained she would guilt trip me that I don’t appreciate being given these things by my aunt.

My mother worked her damnedest to make me feel and look ugly. Nasty comments, hand me downs, even the new things she would buy me were not pretty and probably would have been more appropriate for my grandmothers generation. I wonder if she used me as the kicking board for getting her anger out about her cousins getting her things as a child.

How awful that your aunt treated those girls in an equally horrible way. It really cuts to the core when you are called ugly and parts of your body are criticized. And because my mother bathed me sparingly and my hair was tangle and clothes did not fit in, classmates started calling me ugly too. This reinforced my low self concept. However, through a lot of learning from Darlene’s site, and my own personal journey, I have discovered the lies I was fed by both my mother and classmates. I am so looking forward to next weekend when I walk into my class reunion, now feeling so much stronger and unintimidated by these people now. Not that anyone would dare call me ugly now, but it’s fun to imagine what I would say if it did.

Davina, yes, we both had it rough with our Moms. It is good to have this forum to discuss thes things. A lot of my strength has come from doing just that. I wish you healing and happier days ahead!


This is exactly where I am at right now. My path has become so much about working on areas where I am failing myself. I haven’t been interacting with the group here much lately because of this but I feel like I am taking a big step forward.

I am realizing that my relationship with myself has been as dysfunctional as my relationship with my family of origin. I too was raised to believe my value is directly related to how I look. I loved to swim when I was young and even started competing but as I hit puberty, not having full make up and hair done was frowned upon and swimming became equated with me being unkempt so I quit. I felt ashamed of myself for the way I looked and gave up something healthy that I loved to do. I think I had to give up or not participate in so many normal, good things that most people do that it was inevitable that I would end up doing so many self destructive things to fill in the holes in my soul.

I have many destructive habits that I am working intensely with my therapist on this new year to let go of. I have found that I also have to give myself permission to engage in healthy things, taking time for me and learning to talk down that inner voice that badgers me with guilt and unworthiness when I do.

As hard and sometimes frustrating as this process is right now, I feel lighter, I feel some momentum now. It is like taking rocks out of a bag you carry on your back, one by one, day by day. You don’t always notice the progress you are making. Then one day as you are trudging along you realize that the bag is much lighter and there is even a little bounce in your step.


Amber, my mother didn’t call me ugly, but she never supported me, did not protect me, had no ambition for me and would just say “Im sorry” when I came to her with a problem or needed help. Its like she totally rejected me as a child. I was not wanted at all. She did not like me. I was just a problem to be dealt with. I felt ugly and bad and wrong.

I have had 3 years of reading, learning and no contact to figure it out. Of course its all deniable. But its still true. I remember all of it. But I had been taught (by her) to always accept and never question anything. To say no, to question was bad, wrong and dangerous. My father could be in a terrifying screaming rage and I would not have said a word or even cried. He could treat me cruelly but I had to forget and pretend it didn’t happen tomorrow.

So I never grew up. I never became an adult mentally. I have always been that child, standing terrified when people bully or yell or act rude to me. I see it now, so that’s progress. But I need to push my anger at the bully, not at myself. And in that way I still let myself down. Bullys are so good at what they do. They come back harder when you stand up to them. They grill you. Scold you. Shame you. At age 60, that scared 10 year old is still inside me.


Davina..when I moved out my mother had my cat Felaisa put to sleep. I should have taken her with me. Ive never forgotten that. It happened in 1974 but it still brings me to tears. She did it to hurt me. She sold my only possession my bicycle to hurt me. It wasn’t hers to sell. (I didn’t even see that for many years I was so conditioned to accept) So I had to walk a mile and back to work.
Always petty cruelty, always a plausible excuse to hide her intentions. Every act turned around and blamed on my behavior. Heaven forbid I should take offense, get angry and yell at her. Those times she always had a worse punishment waiting for my temper. Her evil was always someone else’s fault.

Theft, embezzlement, bank robbery, adultery, lies and treachery. She did it all.
She is 83 now, in a home and under my brother’s care. She controls the $$ and manipulates him, but he is her golden child, raised to be like her so they abuse each other.
I am so glad to be no contact. Its a blessing.


Glad someone added to this post, as I was looking for a good place to put this.

I find that when I’m N/C with my mom, I’m more positive, and I don’t worry so much about things. Funny thing, mom always told me I was “negative” and “worried too much.” Funny….. without her, I don’t do that. So, I think it’s she that is putting that on me.

A therapist once told me that when you don’t deal with things, they “squeak out the side.” I have always known and felt that, but I never put words to the concept. Now I have words.

I think my mom hasn’t dealt with things from her own childhood. So, her issues “squeaked out the side” as to how she treated me.

Like KarenR, “no” was not allowed. Mom would phrase things as “optional” but you got punished or yelled at for saying “no.” Excuse me, but if I hear “optional” then “no” is an option. I hated this. This means she set up everything to be false love. If we said “yes” it didn’t mean we loved our mom. It meant we didn’t want to be punished for saying no. False love. Everything about my mom was not real. took me years to figure it out.


Reading the article about self trust, after the first paragraph I connected with what you thought and did. I thought that I just wouldn’t make promises to myself or set goals. Then I read the rest. I don’t really trust anyone and don’t trust myself. I don’t know who I really am because I’ve always tried to do what is right in different situations, with different people etc. To be safe, to not get negative attention but to get those positive “strokes”. I couldn’t trust my parents to really say positive things or be encouraging. Good things in front of others but then things like, “no one thinks that way” or “why do you act like that?”. So much was subtle. We had a few pets but my sister had allergies so no more pets. They went to a good home. We had decent clothes and even went to Christian schools. But when it came to having friends….my parents didn’t really have them and we.rarely had anyone over besides family. My sister and I often couldn’t go to class events or youth group events. We would try to earn some money to pay to go. We would ask and sometimes the answer was to come up with the money ourselves, we have plans, I’ll think about it or if we had asked sooner or reminded him sooner we could have….yet we were afraid to bring things up. I still don’t relate well to people. We tend to control things, information etc. Manipulate because we had so little control. Being out front and honest seemed to have gotten me no where. I have to be very conscious of how I put things with people in conversations. I hate being like this.


Hi Darlene
It’s been a year since I last posted, almost. I’ve learnt so much. I owned my own damage, my behavior in contributing towards the abuse I received, what little there was to own. I took back my own power in going no contact for 18 months. It was the time I needed to find my own self respect again. Self trust is one thing all of us here work on every day. Once seeing the disconnect between healthy and unhealthy, the journey of trust really begins. For me, I had to completely lose control to understand that. I dated a man that triggered every last one of my PTSD triggers, he did it consciously and willingly. I stayed out of love until I got pushed to my own breaking point. It’s in losing control that we find our true self. Control over all the ugly, all the horrible things we’ve chosen to believe. In that one moment I saw my ugliest side. And with it came peace. With it came the final knowledge that I am not all the things I’ve chosen to believe about me. I am more than that. Each day now is a discovery. Each day is an opportunity to grow a little bit closer to healthy love. It started with being vulnerable and owning my broken. It carried on with learning the words that match emotions, and choosing op respond from a place of self respect and not fear, even though the fear was there anyway. It grew into speaking up and speaking out as to where my boundaries are. With each day, I am happier in my own skin. I’ve started a new routine, where I nurture myself every day with yoga. I make the time for myself, even if I don’t feel like it. Here’s the thing. Feeling positive and worthwhile is a journey we all take. Only ours had the map damaged, and directions lost. The journey back to self is one we each create too. Self trust is what I’m slowly learning to cherish in every single moment I have. I can see the change in my family too. Little steps lead to great destinations.


This is so useful. I have this same pattern in many relationships. I think it comes from not trusting myself, too, but not only because I’ve let myself down. It’s because I’ve been invalidated, abused, and distrusted by other people, namely my parents for most of my life. My mother has been the worst culprit of this. She’s narcissistic. So, to trust myself often feels like I have to say “No” and ignore people’s opinions when they judge me or disagree with something I say and think. I’m afraid I will become more like my mother, more narcissistic if I do that. It also just scares me, because I feel so isolated and afraid when so many people don’t understand and disagree with me. Reading your work helps a lot, because it helps me not feel so alone, so isolated.


I recently just made a decision to drop a subject at University that I was struggling with, even if I was only two weeks into the course. I realised that the course material and I weren’t the “best of friends” which furthered my decision to drop. Prior to making that decision, so many voices were popping up in my head like: “Your parents are not going to like this” “You are dragging your graduation” or “Suck it up if it’s a hard subject, think about graduation.” In the end, I chose to go with my gut, because

A) I didn’t want to continue committing to something that I don’t really have a passion studying for in a full semester of University and
B) My health was starting to deteriorate (This was only two weeks into the subject, what more if I decided to stick with it in the remaining 11 wks).

So in the end, I have decided to bid Egyptian Hieroglyphs goodbye and instead continue on with another semester of Spanish, before I finally say, Adios!, to my soon to be Alma Mater. Some people in my family may get angry, but these people also happened to be the ones who told me that I am old enough to make my own decisions.

If it is now a sin to finally act upon what I have been told to do, then why bother giving me the advice to look out for myself and make decisions for myself? I am the one studying, not you. My plans are mine, not yours and so are all the things I will eventually do. When I fought for my degree, I was not only firm in my decision to study it, but also to make choices for it, based on what I believe will be beneficial to me and not to “you.”

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