Self Esteem and Seeking Validation from Others

Low Self Esteem
I am because I am

I needed someone to validate my existence. I wanted someone who could tell me that I was worth the air that I breathed. But because I didn’t believe that I had value, I didn’t believe anyone who attempted to tell me that I did. If I met someone who liked me, I wondered what they wanted from me. I wondered if they were sincere; I was sure that they must have a hidden motive. If a waiter in a restaurant treated me like my business didn’t matter I was hurt and my mind would start spinning about why he was treating me that way. I would examine every single sentence that we exchanged, looking inward for something that I must have done to cause this attitude in him. By the same token if a waiter was really nice and attentive to me, I wondered if he was only doing it for the tip.

If friends invited me over, it wasn’t long before I questioned if it was because they wanted my company, or because they wanted me bring cooking or baking. Did they need an extra girl? Did they want to play a joke on me? I was always second guessing everyone and everything because of my history with abuse, but I also second guessed everyone, because I was always second guessing me. That was the way that my mind operated because that was the way my mind was trained to operate. If my mother told me that I looked nice, I wondered what she wanted; subconsciously I braced myself for what was coming next…. continued  

That was just the way that it was. All through the history of my life, people complimented me when they had a motive. Something bad was surly going to follow. I could not trust anyone because I had never learned that there were people that were trustworthy. To make matters worse, I was comfortable and even attracted to the familiar abusive types who DID have motives, and who were not trustworthy. I was so mixed up that I mistrusted the people that didn’t have wrong motives, MORE than I suspected the ones who did. The foundation for relationship was never built properly in my life. I operated from a faulty and dangerous platform.

This was the never ending spin that existed in my mind; I wanted someone to love me. I didn’t believe anyone could. I didn’t love myself. I couldn’t because I didn’t think I was worthy. I wanted to let live fully and free of the guilt and shame, but I kept thinking someone else could affirm that I was worthy of freedom. I thought someone else could change my low self esteem. I thought someone else could restore me and convince me that “ME” was good enough. But I didn’t believe it in the first place so round and round it goes.

I had shared my story with others several times with seemingly no success, partly because I was not having any impact on myself. I was so disconnected from myself I couldn’t even hear myself. It was in realizing that I didn’t relate what happened to ME, as having happened to me, that I realized why I was always in that emotional spin and always in my head invalidating myself. I also realized that I had to find a way to reconnect to myself and I did that by talking about the events of my past, big events, little events, sexual abuse and emotional abuse and HEARING myself. And then I listened to the feedback from safe people who heard me. I heard me, others heard me and validated me and through all of that I was able to finally really see the value that I have as an individual human being. Not the value that was given to me by someone else. Not the lack of value that I had been defined by others with. I had to hear and accept THE TRUTH about me by taking a look at the lies I believed about me.

The process of re-wiring the belief system is hard because I learned what I believed about myself from such a young age; it was all I knew. But consider this: I was not born all messed up.  I did not get the idea from my own mind that I was not good enough. I was not born with pre judgements about my own value. My self esteem (or rather lack of it) was given to me; it was taught to me. The lack of trust that I had was CAUSED by others. There were reasons for the depressions, the struggles, the nervousness and anxiety. But I wasn’t born that way. 

This understanding has been one of the most effective core truths on my journey to wholeness

Please join in by leaving your feedback, feelings and thoughts about this post and don’t forget to subscribe to the comments, or check back to read them. We always have great discussions here.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

83 response to "Self Esteem and Seeking Validation from Others"

  1. By: SMD Posted: 6th December

    Past memories are coming up for me lately, regarding my sister’s behavior in childhood. My counselor recently said to me, if your dad was coming into your sister’s & I’s room at night, then I would not tell my mom, since she wouldn’t believe me. I was worried about being called a tattle tale, even when problems were serious. It’s one thing to tell on little/petty things about someone else, yet there needs to be a level of trust that when something serious happens, you can go to your parents for guidance & support. I didn’t trIust that they would have my back. Most times I was dismissed for bringing up the truth whether it was my siblings or myself. What a mind screw! I really think that my sister & I were sexualized at a young age. I’m just remembering an incident where we were visiting my sister’s godparents and I walked into her under the sheets with their son. I was shocked & told not to tell. I had to carry that secret out of fear. Keeping secrets is sick, esp when you keep them to yourself & have no outlet. Then another time, our family had two boy cousins visit and I found my sister kissing them on the lips alot. It became a game to them. I was not comfortable with this and I think I did tell, because it got out from my mom that they are “kissing cousins”…like that’s ok. I accepted that as normal & rationalized that kids play & experiment. You can only use that one for so long. My dad used to yell at my sister that she was a “whore” & would shut the door and scream in her face. My mom would say no but my dad did not listen. No wonder yelling & anger is a big trigger for me. Especially rage (uncontrollable anger)!…So much uncovering I’m doing. It’s coming up more frequently & revealing incidents that show a pattern of abuse. I was put down a lot, yet if they yelled at me, I would cry and they viewed me (esp my father) as weak. Actually, crying is a genuine & normal reaction to abuse. I was waking on egg shell all the time. What added to my confusion is that they could be indulging, esp my mom with buying me little things I wanted. I think she did this out of guilt most times. Anyway, I’m feeling sad about all of this. Not normal yet I believed it was normal, since they pretended things were normal. I was the scapegoat for their issues & problems. I would listen to them & carry their guilt & shame, being the sensitive one in the family. Not fair!…Anyway, that was then this is now and I’m free from all of that. I make my own choices & maintain minimal contact with my FOO. That used to bother me so much that they were not there for me, yet I understand they were not capable emotionally & that hurt me. I don’t look to them anymore to get my needs meant and coming to that has been hard. Well I can go on & on but I need to attend to piece this together to form a new filter/grid of Truth. Thanks Darlene for being there for me & others!
    I am so grateful for EFB.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th December

      Hi Sonia
      It was really major for me to see where/how I got those messages that I was the one who was wrong; that I would be doing something wrong by telling. That I was silenced and shut down. Validating that I WAS confused and why I was confused; how I got confused. That is the process. Feeling sad, angry, abandoned or whatever else you feel at any given time is good and normal. These are the feelings that were shut down before.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Amber Posted: 5th December

    Thank you Darlene! All of the lights bulbs are going off right now as I continue reading!! I now know there is a term for my father.. a judgemental abuser.. wow.. I just started realizing he was something just did not know what it was lol. I guess we are so use to putting abuse to people who are sexually and physically abused.. which are awful in there own right but mental and verbal abuse is equally bad.. you really can ruin a person by the words said and placing blame on children. Something has popped into my mind since reading this.. my mother I always defended and never thought of her as a abuser but she is either and enabler or something.. she remained quiet whenever my dad would verbally or physically attack me. When I was 21 my dad and I were having a difficult time when I was home from college..he attacked me for coming home late and we have a physical altercation.. a few days later he ended up in the hospital for heart problems(he had a heart attack a couple of years earlier) my mother looks right at me and says if he dies I will never forgive you… those words were so sharp.. was it my fault that I was doing what most 21 year olds were doing.. maybe not even most.. I was not on drugs,no babies and I was in school full time.. yes I screw off with money and not making the best grades but to hurt me then stress yourself out and to be blamed for making my dad ill was too much as I think about it now. Forward to now I am a 35 year old mother.. I was engages recently and that ended badly because I was dating my “father” he blamed me for him cheating on me and said that all the wrong I did in the relationship caused him to do what he did and he even told my dad intimate details about our breakup and my dad took his side even saying how he could not date a woman like me… wow! Now 7 months later my dad no longer speaks to me.. he sees my daughter every week but always avoids me and lets my mom handle the drop offs.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th December

      Hi Amber
      Most people don’t think they were ‘abused’ ~ it is shocking how many survivors of phycical and sexual abuse don’t even apply the word ‘abused’ to themselves. All abuse has it’s roots in psychological and emotional abuse, and that is where I find the common bond in healing ~ because all abuse damages the person and the healing comes from discovering the belief system that resulted from that damage and changing it back to the truth.
      It is terrible that you were blamed for the health problems. (and typical) And when our parents take the side of a person that we are having trouble with, it is such a slap! Such a ‘reminder’ that we will never be the one they stick up for.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Amber Posted: 5th December

    Not sure if I am ready to tell my story but I guess I am now at age 35 realizing that it is not me.. I am not the selfish person that my family has said I was since age 5! All blame has been placed on me from not making decisions they approve of to them using money to control me. I think since I have had a child I realize old thoughts are coming back to haunt me.. things I have supressed over the years it is all rushing back to me as I read what you wrote and other comments. I never knew I was verbally/physically abused.. I thought this is what happens when you mess up.. I did not know functional familes support and understand their family members this never happened for me. I will continue to read articles and listen to the 100 of voices on this website and I know it will help me grow past this abuse in order to be the best mother for my child.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th December

      Hi Amber
      Welcome to EFB!! You are not alone in this, thats for sure! How can a child of 5 be selfish!
      I was shocked to find out what ‘abuse’ was too. In dysfunctional families it is ‘normalized’ and we don’t realize that its wrong.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: devastated Posted: 5th December

    Thank u for ur website. Im in a bad place in my life. I am alone and I dont know how to make my life right. What did I do? Why r thibgs the way they r? Why dont I hav true friends? Im questionibg my exsistance. I feel hopeless and sad. Ive wasted my life looking for something that doednt exist. I truly just want peace.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th December

      Hi devastated
      Welcome to EFB ~ You will find tons of articles here that I hope will give you a bit of inspiration and hope. The key for me was in finding out how I got ‘broken’ and how I ended up feeling that way ~ so that I could overcome the damage that the past caused me. This whole site is about taking your life back.
      Thank you for sharing. I am glad you are here.
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Suvi Posted: 22nd September

    I’m really glad I found your blog, Darlene. The courage with which you share your truth is inspiring. I am very foggy headed from going back on antidepressants and anxiety meds, so I have not read the post or comments in their entirety, but I will. I, too, was having “I can’t take this pain anymore” thoughts, Kim. A recurring theme for me when things are stressful. A few weeks ago there was a fire in a building where we own a flat. It is our refuge when we go up and visit family. We had plane tickets to go up that week for a vacation. So while we were trying to figure out what to do, my narcissistic mother (that’s how I found this blog) had to stress me out on top of already being stressed out, so I didn’t go. Gratefully, my husband went and took care of moving everything out since the building is temporarily condemned. I have been so disappointed that my “friends” don’t seem to understand the intense feelings I’ve been having about the fire and such. They just keep telling me how grateful I should be that no one and no pets were hurt, and that our place fared better than many. Feeling so lonely, and quit FB because I realized I had been using it to try and get the validation I never had. Anyway, I think I’m rambling now because of the newness of these meds in my system. Will try to come back and be more coherent when I’m more adjusted to them.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd September

      Hi Suvi
      Welcome to emerging from broken!
      This is a great example of what I am talking about. EFB is about learning how to validate ourselves by looking at the roots of where it all started. I am glad you are here, you are not alone in all of this! There is so much hope for healing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Kim Posted: 22nd September

    OMG I am going through THE EXACT SAME THING. down to the waiter/waitress who is less than friendly. OK so you realize, you see it, so what have you done, to , a lack of better word, “fix it”? I don’t want to live like this anymore. I am having suicidal thoughts, no I will not do anything, but I am so unhappy. I don’t know who to talk to or who to trust.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd September

      Hi Kim
      Welcome to emerging from broken
      I am really glad you found my site. There are over 350 articles here, all with discussions that I am invovled in and all about the HOW I overcame this stuff and moved on to living in freedom and wholeness. You can go back and read by dates if you like or you can use the category buttons at the top to read topics of interest. There is hope! You are not alone!
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Julia Fry Posted: 23rd February

    Thank you, Darlene. I just recognised something else. When I was 9 my dad committed suicide. He was a soldier. On one of the days after he died and before we moved house (we couldn’t stay in our army house) I went to play at the house next door with my friend, Lindsey. Her brother raped me. He manipulated me into going into his bedroom and, once naked, I just laid on his bed with my arms by my sides and turned my head away to look at the woodgrain of the chest of drawers next to my head. I did that because I was used to it. I used to lay still in that position when my dad came to my room. It was “normal” for me. I did not struggle. I laid down compliantly, like it was my duty. So, even though a part of me was relieved when he died I realised that it didn’t stop. Someone else steps in. I wanted to tell my mum after it happened and I didn’t know how. It really hit me today on the bus on the way to a counseling session that the reason I feel so triggered going to college in the daytime is because there are so many teenage boys and a teenage boy raped me. Those words repeated over and over again: a teenage boy raped me. That’s why I felt angry towards my son when he was about 14. I wanted to phone my mum and tell her. That’s the 9 year old in me. I want to tell her so she can make it okay and she’ll cherish me and nurture me but actually that probably won’t happen. It’s more likely that she’ll get upset at hearing something she doesn’t want to hear.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th February

      Yes, that is exactly what happnes ~ we learn to freeze, we learn to comply and then WE feel like we consented! but it is never consent. We learn NOT to tell. This was the path that led me to recovery (what you are sharing here and the insights that you are having about this whole thing)
      Thank yuou so much for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: Julia Fry Posted: 23rd February

    hi, everyone,

    I just had a flash of insight that I wanted to tell someone so here goes: when I was 13 I started my periods. we’d just moved house and my mum and grandma were in the garage unpacking boxes. I told my mum and went in the house to get the sanitary towels she’d put in my drawer. Once I’d sorted myself out I approached the front door to rejoin them and something made me stop in the doorway. My mum was crying, sobbing actually, to my grandma. She said “my baby’s grown up.” I think at that point I felt a mix of things: shame that I had “grown up”, a sense that suddenly, because of this blood, I had to behave differently, more grown up, a sense that grown up was bad and not what she wanted for me. It could have been so different. We could have celebrated it. Talked about it. I went back into the house and tried to pretend it was okay and buried it, along with all the other stuff. I feel “naughty” talking about her like this. I realise that because she had been such an authoritarian all my life, I accepted her view of my period without question. And I still do when other people label me; it takes me a while to undo the label I’ve taken on and go to the cause of the crazy feeling I get when I try to accommodate someone else’s view of me. It’s hard to separate out whether it’s happening now or whether it’s the past, although it’s probably a mix: the past conditioning making the present me susceptible to others’ thoughts and actions.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd February

      Hi Julia
      Lots of great insights in this comment! Feeling naughty about talking about your mom ~ that was huge for me! and all the sutff about labels etc. Great stuff to grow on!
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Beverly Berzins Posted: 7th February

    Dear Darlene the line you wrote I could not hear myself rang out to me I know this too. I can not even feel myself, the whole of my mind and body so thoroughly traumatised there seems not a sinew or nerve left unaffected. and like I you say of yourself. I was not born this way, during my recovery is have experienced moments of real peace the natural way I feel and perceptive, all robbed by the cruelty of others who had the control of our young lives. like you also the issue who do we trust after so many horrendous experiences in our lives, so much betrayal so many taking advantage of our vulnerabilities, so few genuine decent people willing to do what is right. Like you I believe we heal ourselves in the end but sharing the terrible experiences we lived through helps. Although some experiences are to disturbing who do you share with? the poem by Shanyn is lovely as she says it is our time to be children we were never allowed to be children, I was not allowed to be myself and was tortured treated inhumanly for all of my childhood and beyond. My mind and body endeavouring now to heal, slowly returning me to me minus the anguish and horrific pains that lay in between. The mental anguish at recovering memory is so painful it becomes the migraine the physical nausea the general aches and pains and nightmares as you release the old stored emotions. And little by little you see the little you, the whole you the true you you were born to be, and it is so far removed from the you the abusers tried to make you believe you were. When I was being beaten until unconscious at times I was told “I will beat the GOOD out of you”
    again another wonderful post that locates truths and helps on this horrendously difficult journey. thankyou

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th February

      Hi Beverly
      Thank you! and thank you for sharing. I am sorry that you had to go through all that horror; it is through facing that that I found real freedom from re living it.
      So glad that you are here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Julia Fry Posted: 7th February

    This is especially relevant to me right now after a nighty spent picking over the details of a conversation to find the bit where I went “wrong”. After a few weeks of feeling okay with myself I find, triggered by a friend’s lateness and two other friends’ lack of replies to texts, that I’m looking, again, for what I did wrong. It feels rubbish to get caught up in that mindset. I don’t know why they haven’t replied. It could be a myriad different reasons but I seem to go for trying to imagine that it must be connected to something I’ve said or done. When I think I’ve found a possible reason I even contact them to apologise for it which also feels rubbish because I know, at some level, that I’m participating in something not real but I’m so caught up in the thoughts that they are compelling. This blog post came at just the right time for me. Thank you.

  11. By: Sheila Posted: 6th February

    Hi Darlene, My mom labeled me as a cold little girl never wanting to be close to anyone and as i got even older she told everyone i was a cold little bitch…I heard the words but somehow for so many years I never realized how painful that was I guess I just accepted it and on some level believed it to be true. How sad. Now I am beginning to realize it wasn’t me at all. Even though it’s a long road to recovery. I’m 55 now and wonder how to fit in and live my life to my fullest potential.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th February

      Hi Sheila,
      Welcome to EFB
      Exactly! My problems were mostly rooted in those kinds of false beliefs about myself ~ the way that I was defined by other people and I believed it! Keep going and you will discovery the answers to those questions ~ I did. Realilzing that you were NOT what your mother said you were, is a huge discovery!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Julia,
      Welcome to EFB
      I had to find out where those types of reactions came from in the first place. I found out “why” I was so willing to see why it was my fault. That was the road to freedom for me!
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Josh Posted: 5th January

    Thank you for being brave enough to express yourself and be candid about your deepest struggles so that others may gain hope and strength in facing their own problems. For the past 5 years I’ve been going from relationship to relationship with different women because I feel like they validate my existence. I recently ended a relationship with my ex fiance and I’ve been working very hard at remaining single and working on my own self esteem issues so that I won’t fall into the same traps of looking toward another to validate me, when I should love and accept myself and make improvements where I can so that I can truly love.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th January

      Hi Josh
      Welcome to EFB. I had huge issues with trying to get my validation from others. This issue came up time and time agian in my recovery process and each time I realized where I was not loving and accepting myself just as you say. I also looked at this through the view of how I felt that others could validate me (looked for specific ways that I “believed” others proved my worth) and that helped me to sort out even more of the issue. Glad you are here.
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Christina Posted: 15th March

    It’s great to see and read the words of others who are facing a battle similar to mine. My beliefs were so buried in my unconscious, that despite suffering nearly 25 years of severe depression and chronic illness, it took 5 years of meditation, hypnotherapy, and finally expert counseling to uncover them (unfortunately I worked with my share of UNexpert counselors over the years who caused more damage, instead of curing). It is said that awareness is a big part of the battle, but the awareness has actually pushed me into a further depression. Reviewing and reliving the abusive scenarios of my childhood has made me even more aware of my woundedness. More aware that I really am not “normal”. I’m trying to face the realities of my early life, forgive and release my mother, and love and embrace my inner child. I do meditations that guide…. “imagine your inner child in front of you and embrace her with love” . I cannot do it, because a voice in the back of my head is screaming “Get out while you can! This place is hell!” What message am I sending myself?!?!?!!?

    Most unsettling, I think, is that I have wounded my own children with my emotional distance, always too caught up in my own suffering to really reach out to them. My nearly adult daughter moved out at 17. She had a load of reasonable excuses, but I know that she just couldn’t deal with my neediness.

    Finally, I am married to a prototype of my abusive mother – a man who is caught up in the blame and shame game, who requires a victim to make himself feel manly and powerful, who is most of the time in a bad mood and took a wife so that he could have an outlet for his anger. My other brother has his own issues from our childhood and somehow relates me with our mother, so our relationship is amicable at best, nothing more than that. I have no friends, because my darkness seems to turn people off and my shame keeps me from forming ties to anyone.

    I feel so alone in the world and it’s true that if I don’t learn to love myself, no one will. But with the messages I get daily in my home life, it’s hard to change my perceptions when they are being verbally confirmed by another.

    I’ve been told to leave – I’ve been told that by not leaving, I being willing to continue the way things are – but I’ve been trying very hard to get a job for 2 years and there is just nothing out there in my area. Without a job – I cannot leave.

    Thanks for letting me vent,


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th March

      Hi Christina,
      I can totally relate to your post. I was in that spin myself. Something that struck me about your first paragraph; awareness for me worked for the purpose of realizing that because I was so defined by others, so mistreated, that I believed their definition of me (as no one) and self love grew out of me realizing that they were very wrong about me. I had to take the pain of all the reviewing and reliving to realize that the things that happened to me were not about me; that I didn’t deserve them. I had to re define myself. Then I was able to stop trying to get someone to save me, to define me as good enough, because I defined myself as good enough. I no longer look to others to agree with me about me, as in looking for proof that I am okay ~ because others say so. There were some important steps for me, BEFORE I could embrace myself. Does that make sense?
      I hope you read the rest of the blog.. there is a lot of information of how I came out of this spin.
      I am so glad you are here, thank you so much for sharing your life on this blog.
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 23rd February

    “Self Esteem and Seeking Validation from Others” ~ for most of my life, I really thought that was how it worked, that I could ONLY have self-esteem if other people validated me and told me I was good and worthy of love.

    I was an ordinary-looking little girl, not homely, but not pretty either, just average. So it was a huge surprise when I hit my teens and suddenly total strangers, both men and women, were telling me how beautiful I was, and everywhere I went, people stared, and men of all ages, married and not, started coming on to me. I was in a grocery store shopping one day and an older woman came over to me and told me, “I don’t want you to think that I am funny or anything, I’m not, I’m married and not into women at all, but I just have to tell you that you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life.” I was told this several times, in my teens and twenties, by both men and women.

    When I looked in the mirror, I was always astonished. Where had that plain-looking ordinary little girl gone? Who was this beauty? It sounds egostistical to me, even to say this, but it was just so unexpected, the way I blossomed and grew and changed so dramatically, beginning at around age 12….

    Now the downside. JEALOUS MOTHER. JEALOUS STEPMOTHER. JEALOUS GIRLFRIENDS. JEALOUS SISTERS. JEALOUS TOTAL STRANGERS, women I didn’t even know screaming at me, furious because their men couldn’t take their eyes off of me, even though I wasn’t doing anything but just walking down the street. Snubbed by women, chased after by men, who only wanted one thing, another notch on their belt, while I was so desperately seeking, NEEDING, to be LOVED. But none of the men seemed to see past my face, not ever.

    Used, then cast aside, over and over, used for my looks and my body, cast aside when it quickly became obvious that my MIND was broken, my EMOTIONS were too raw, I was TOO N, TOO CLINGY. Going from abusive man to abusive man, looking for one thing only, LOVE AND VALIDATION, and getting the “slut” reputation in the meantiime. Just one more way that I was made to believe in my inherent BADNESS.

    My dad, coming on to me sexually, when I was 12, and 13. I didn’t let him touch my breast when he tried, I didn’t let him do what he was trying to do, so he freaked out, yelled and screamed and knocked a hole right through the door that I had slammed in his face, then went home and told his new wife, a psychiatric nurse, the head of the ward he was on when he had his breakdown after almost killing my mother, he told her something, I don’t know what, but obviously it was to put the blame on me, saying I was flaunting myself sexually or something, I don’t know what he said, but it had to be soemthing like that because she came over to our house then, drunk, screaming that I was ruining her marriage, and telling me to stay away from her husband, my father.

    I was a modest girl, not like the girls I see today, I always had myself covered up… except for those times when my mother wouldn’t let me be covered up, but that is another sick story for another time.

    I will soon be 58, and, while I am no longer the rare beauty I was 30 or 40 years ago, I still turn heads, even the young men look at me like “that.” For most of my life, my LOOKS was all that I had to make me feel good about myself. Women who don’t have that, seem to think that it would be enough, more than enough, to make themselves feel wonderful about themselves.

    But NOT when all you hear is “Beauty is only skin deep.” NOT when most women are too jealous of you to want you anywhere around them. NOT when the only attention you get is from sex-addicts who just want to get into your pants. NOT when you get the reputation of being a slut, even thought that is NOT what I was, I was looking for a life-long-lasting LOVE, and didn’t have a clue to find it.

    My mother threw me out of the house at age 14 because she was afraid my new stepfather would want me sexually, like my father had. But he, my stepdad, was never anything but a perfect gentleman and father-figure toward me. My dad… when I was 12 and just starting to “blossom,” he grabbed my shoulders one day, looked deep into my eyes, said “I don’t care if it’s wrong, I love you anyway,” then kissed me long and hard and deep on my mouth. Then said, “Don’t tell your mother.” I was confused, I didn’t understand what he was talking about. But it wasn’t long after that that my dad came so close to killing my mother, that I thought she was dead… and deep inside, I wondered if it was MY fault, that he wanted to kill her, so that he could have me, instead.

    Today… after all the trauma I have gone through sexually, including being raped, and then blamed for that… I really do not like sex AT ALL. My best-friend-husband has diabetes, plus he is extremely obese, and on meds that inhibit sex drive, so he has no interest or ability in that area… and that is just fine with me. We haven’t been sexually intimate in several years, and I couldn’t be happier. Slut? Me? NO. All I wanted was LOVE, for the person I am on the INSIDE, not for my body, not for my looks. I have that now, and I thank God every day.

    Today, I like me. Today, I love me. As the wrinkles start to appear and deepen on my face, I know that the person I am, is worthy on the inside, not because of how I look on the outside. I AM, and I AM of EQUAL VALUE, just because I AM.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th February

      Lynda, Thanks for sharing ~
      this is really great processing work, really great insights that I know others will learn from too.
      hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Dee Nilsen Posted: 22nd February

    Sorry, if I sound so negative. My life, lets see Deaf due to abusive alcoholic parents, Tried to go to grandparents and grandfather molested me. Tried to go t HS counselors and they didn’t believe me me. Parents charged me $200/month rent. (in 1974 that was high).Didn’t have a job, no drivers licence and raising three little brother and sisters by myself. Had no choice when a gross 65yo needed a mistress(so embarassing and ashame of it). Joined the Navy for 4 years and got kicked out. Got into too much trouble. Was raped 3 times in my life. Lost a baby to SIDS (my fault). Right now in a 31 year emotionally abusive marriage. He wants out but I’m clinging. Sounds weird but his abuse almost serves that need of punishing myself for all thats happened.Drs. and Therapists keep trying to get me to leave him. I hope that within this group that I can learn to love myself. I’m not saying again because I don’t believe I ever have. Afraid of that thing called loving yourself. Don’t know what to expect. Wish I could right a blog. I have more hurt and pain and runs so so deep. So I have put there never to reopen up. I can’t put away my past like alot of people can. Some people say start the new day positive. I wake up to silence every morning. That reminds me of why I’m deaf. And that opens my negative world. Nothing I can do about that. Can’t change or alter it. I sucks. I hate it. I hate myself for it. Right now I’m on meds that are messing me up. All the sudden I hear music loudly 24/7. Can’t sleep because of it. I haven’t heard music in years. Its frustrating, aggravating, and I want to shake it all out. Been going on for 2 months. I can’t eat, sleep or think. Psych is don’t best she can. I can’t handle it. My youngest daughter is pregnant and now says she don’t want me to be around the baby because she wants everything perfect. Punnishment again!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd February

      Hi Dee
      You have a lot going on. Thank you for your courage to share here. I could never “put away my past” either until I went through the process that I talk about in this blog, and realized the truth of what happened and that it wasn’t my fault, nor did I deserve it. Now I can honestly say that my past does not control my present anymore! I am free. Even writing about this everyday does not hinder me from living a full life. I no longer have depressions or other mental health struggles.
      Please feel free to share with us, and keep reading.
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Amira Posted: 16th February

    Darlene—you posted this “There are examples all the way from minor (if you don’t do what I like I will withdraw myself from you) to extreme too ~ where the parents provide the adult child a home or pay the mortgage, but the strings attached to that “assistance” are overwhelmingly disempowering to the adult child.” and thats amazing because my mother has ALWAYS done that for all of us kids. She has “given” us all money for rent/down payments for a house etc. and in my case she bought a house so that I could live there and get Section 8 housing benefits, and subsequently got mad at me and sold it without telling me and just said after the fact “well I sold the house, you have 30 days to move” and the last time I talked to her (my mother) I asked her, after she was telling me how much she had done for me and how much I have hurt her in my life, “ok, well I never intended to hurt you, and if I did Im sorry for it, but how long do I have to suffer and be abused to pay for the help you gave me? Ten years? Twenty? Thirty? I dont have to accept that for one more second” and that was my breaking point with her, but it took having a semi healthy relationship and validation from a number of people, both family and objective outsiders like therapists, and several years, to get to the point where I am able to see clearly her mistreatment for what it was.

    The part of it all that makes me the most angry, is that her “helping” by invalidating me and “taking care of me” is what caused my subsequent dependency on her and others and provided the mindset that allowed me to accept abuse and mistreatment and not feel like I had a choice to do anything about it. I went through decades of hell and mistreatment, not knowing that I deserved better, all because of the things she did/said, all in the guise of “helping”, which makes it so muddled and so confusing, because when the abuse is nice on the outside, but feels bad on the inside, it makes you think that YOU are the problem, and you arent seeing/hearing/feeling what is real, and what you think is bad is imaginary, and that sets you up for a lifetime of mental health issues all on its own. I still second guess every thought and feeling I have, about every single thing that I experience, because I dont know if I am dealing in reality, or if its something that I am exaggerating or is completely made up in my head and not real at all.

    It has wreaked havoc in my marriage, I think my husband has an ulterior motive for EVERYTHING he says/does, even the good things. I dont take anything at face value and assume he is saying what he means in simple terms…and its all because I have been taught all my life that my perceptions are wrong, and I dont trust myself to have valid thoughts and emotions, and its NOT my fault, and that infuriates me!

    Thank you Darlene, for validating my emotions and thoughts as real and not “in my head”, it has made a world of difference to know its not “me”.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th February

      Hi Amira,
      I hesitated to write what I said about parents paying for houses, etc… because it is such a huge hurtful issue, and when there is light shed on it, the victim in the situation (the adult child) feels shame and guilt for having “accepted” the gift. Except that the gift was never a gift, it was more like a “payment towards controlling the child”. (so really who should feel the guilt and shame?) (please remember that I said “In dysfunctional relationships, because I give my children gifts all the time without expectations and that is the key. Is it a gift or is it a so called gift with strings attached? Are there motives with the gift, or is it really a gift? My mother bought me a plane ticket to come and see her once. I was a total hostage the whole time I was there. They didn’t let me even borrow their car. Was that a gift? I don’t think so, my mother treated me like she owned me the whole time I was there. I was lucky in a way; I was so compliant that my mother didn’t give me much in the way of gifts so I didn’t go through as much of that spin about “if I stand up to them, then they will take my car, or my house or whatever.” because they never gave me anything like that. I asked my mother for help once and never heard the end of it, although I paid her back the money exactly when I said I would. I am not saying she should have helped me, or given me money or whatever, I am saying that love does not attach conditions of obligation etc. This is another big topic! I recovery, I learned how to use my power to empower, not to disempower.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Amira.
      Hugs, Darlene

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th February

      Hello Everyone!

      I just published a post related to the discussion we are having on this post. My new post includes the fog busting questions that I asked myself when I began to break out of the fog I was in for so long. These questions shed some light on the way that I regarded myself in relation to others. You can read it here: Rebuilding my Relationship with Me ~ Recovering from Dysfunctional

      looking forward to discussion there! Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Amira Posted: 15th February

    I have so many responses I want to post to everyone, but I dont want to fill the entire wall with my 2 cents. I have waited to comment on this post, to really be able to comment fully and not have to be distracted while I am doing it.

    Patricia, your comment about having to rely on others for transportation and all that really resonated with me. I am unable to drive and have always had to rely on other people for transportation and other things I could not do for myself, and that ONE thing, kept me dependent and down trodden and unable to detach from things I knew were bad because I thought I would not be able to “take care of me” which was taught to me from birth, that I needed other people to do for me, because I wasnt able to do for myself…and only after moving to another town away from my entire family and getting approved for a transportation service through the bus system, was I able to go and do anything on my own without needing other people to take me or do for me. I was 32 years old, before I EVER went anywhere alone, and I had NO idea that I was capable of it, and it was scary and horrible and I was panic stricken. The first time I went grocery shopping alone, I was so scared, but the more I did it, the better it got, and now I have almost no anxiety about anymore, and that one thing has done so much for my self esteem…and I really had no idea when I did it that first time, that it would end up this way. Its amazing what seemingly small things have such a huge impact on us.

    You know, I always thought I had a good sense of self esteem, because I had always been validated (or so I made myself believe) by the men in my life, and if they “wanted” me, then I must be good. So I never believed I was good, but I didnt let it affect me (consciously) because other people told me I was good….so I just made myself project that to others, so I didnt “look” weak and needy and whatever, because I didnt want to be that person. Only when I gained weight and my husband didnt give me the approval that I wanted from him, he would tell me that I needed to lose weight, or I would say something about my appearance, and instead of agreeing with me, he would say “well you arent ____ but you could do ___ or ____ to make it better” which, while he was just being honest and giving me his real opinion, and it wasnt malicious or meant to hurt me, it crushed me, but it also gave me the catalyst that I needed to face my extreme lack of self worth and change it. But it took me several years to actually “do” something about it. I had to be hospitalized three times and go through about 9 months of daily therapy in 15 months, before I actually acknowledged that I didnt matter, to myself.

    I remember exactly what happened, it was during an art therapy session and the therapist told me to draw a picture that represented how I saw myself, and I sat there for probably 10 minutes, not drawing anything, and just looking at other people’s drawings, and they had cute stick figures, or more abstract bright pictures, but there was at least some element of happiness or humanity in them….and I kept thinking of what I saw as “me”, and then I drew a tiny “x” in the corner of my paper, and that is truly what I felt about me. I wasnt even human, in my own eyes, and that was it. I cried and cried and cried for at least an hour, like a baby, right there in the group room with about 15 other people sitting around the table..that was the day I started really talking about what was going on with me, and didnt hold back anymore, and I started to heal.

    So I had no idea how to come back from that, or even if I could, but I had to try…my family needed me, and they needed me to be the best me I could be….so I kept trying until something changed. I did the “stupid” affirmations that they said to do, I told myself every day that I had value and was worth loving, for months I did it…and then one day, I did something, I dont remember what, but I felt proud of me for it…and so after that i just kept doing small things that made me feel proud of myself, and made a huge deal about every single one of them. Im talking about, making my bed, brushing my teeth, bathing, wearing a color other than black or gray, any tiny thing I could grab onto, I did.

    The saying that I heard from my husband that has stuck with me for all this time is “repetitive positive action makes things change” so I keep doing “something positive” over and over and over and over and over, every day.

    I still have a LONG way to go towards loving myself, but now, I have at least some sense of self worth, even if its just a tiny bit…but you have to start somewhere.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th February

      Hi Amira,
      I could write several articles about what you have brought up here regarding depending on others for things. In a functional loving family, is that taking care of each other and helping each other is not a licence to mistreat each other. Everything in dysfunctional family systems is about the misuse of power and control. This is a huge topic Amira, and there are hundreds of examples of how it people will take advantage of others by not empowering them to be independent, and then put them down because they are not independent. (never offering any solutions about HOW to be independent!
      This happens with parents, bosses, spouses… you name the relationship, it can happen. There are examples all the way from minor (if you don’t do what I like I will withdraw myself from you) to extreme too ~ where the parents provide the adult child a home or pay the mortgage, but the strings attached to that “assistance” are overwhelmingly disempowering to the adult child. This is about control and it is using obligation to control another, and has nothing to do with love or healthy relationship.

      Thank you so much for sharing your victories!
      Hugs, Darlene

  18. By: Charlotte Antee Posted: 14th February

    Shanyn that poem had me crying like a baby awesome Michelle I remember a therapist telling me that once but I was to afraid to find my little girl she still has lots of secrets I am not ready to know about .Afer being in this place for the last two days reading and absorbing everything you have all written I am overwhelmed to say the least I never realized there where people who feel like me and so many of you have made it to such a better spot.When I found this place I was so distraught I feel a bit calm today and I think I can actually start again to like me, or try to like me I have tried before but somehow I always get knocked down and I allow it .Darlene I would just like to Thank you for making this place this wonderful wonderful place !!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th February

      Hi Charlotte,
      I am so glad that you are here and that you feel comfortable!
      Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: michelle Posted: 13th February

    dear shanyn
    your poem gave me goosebumps.
    i am so happy for you, in that you are able to talk to yourself like that.
    my therapist has said on a number of occasions that i need to ‘get in touch’ with my little girl self.
    i cannot. it is so raw. i hope one day to be able to express myself, as you have. and to feel ‘connected’ to that little girl.

  20. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 13th February

    Darlene,I wrote a comment here yesterday about choices but instead of publishing the comment, I was told the page no longer existed.

    I didn’t know that I had choices for such a very long time. I was 40 years old and had been in 12-Step groups and counseling for several years when I made a choice with awareness that something big had just happened.

    I didn’t have a driver’s license yet so my husband took me places or a friend drove me to meetings. One night, my husband was out of town working and my friend was sick. I wanted badly to go to a meeting because I was hurting and needed to talk about it. I sat down and looked at my options. How could I get to that meeting? I could call a taxi if it didn’t cost too much. I called and the cost was around $3.00. I had that much money so I asked them to pick me up. I knew if I could get to the meeting I knew I could ask to take me home.

    Calling a taxi to get where I wanted to go had never occurred to me before that night. It sounds like such a small thing but, for me, that choice opened so many doors and it took away so much fear that I didn’t even know that I carried in that area.

    That small choice and that taste of freedom from having to depend upon others for transportation was a big step for me. From that night forward, I knew that I could make choices and no one was going to tell me, “No, that was stupid. You can’t do that.”

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th February

      Hi Patricia
      Sometimes the blog malfunctions and tells people they can’t comment. I am not sure why that happens, but it has even happened to me!

      Thanks for sharing this story! Great example of how such logical things don’t occour to us when we have been raised not to really know that we have choices or options.
      Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  21. By: Jasmine Posted: 12th February

    One thing that frustrates me is that I’ve not just wanted to be special and validated, but MORE THAN special. I thirst for more perfection, more attention, more approval…and it’s often never enough. I believed that I am only “good enough” if others see me a step above the rest. Of course, that strive for perfection was destructive…because at the end of the day I never believed that I was ever worth loving. Whenever someone treated me right, I questioned their motives. I asked myself when will they mistreat me, and how? And as a result, I soon find myself being hostile and built a wall…thus reinforcing my beliefs that I wasn’t worth loving.

    I didn’t even believed that my clinical psychologist will genuinely care for me. For many months, I thought that she id it because it is her job to do so. I was waiting for her to give up on me. In fact, I wrote to her a couple of times saying that I’m just “wasting your time” and “it will do you more good to invest your time, energy, and skills on more worthy clients”. I truly believed that she will call it quits. I believed that I will ruin her reputation. It didn’t help that I wasn’t paying her as I’m a student in the university.

    But she just would not budge. In fact, she kept on telling me that I’ve come this far and she knows that I will make it. She told me to give myself credit for hanging on this long. She also pointed out that what I was trying to do was to push her away like I did with other people.

    But i realized that I can’t recover without at least some bit of self-esteem. I have to believe in myself in order to recover. My therapist used to say that as a therapist she can’t do my 50%. I need to fight, I need to push, and I can only do it if I have at least some BELIEF that I can do it.

    Darlene, you were right to say that we were not born messed up. I believe that a huge part of this stigma surrounding mental illness is because people believe that we chose to be mentally ill. But yet again, while the circumstances that contributed to our pain might have been beyond our control, we still have a choice to make them all work together for good…and not be victimized my them.

    One of the best advice given by my clinical psychologist was,

    “Jasmine, you have a choice, whether you believe it or not.”

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th February

      Hi Jasmine,
      I can relate to the thirst for more of all those things too Jasmine. I think that was learned behaviour for me. I tried harder and harder, believing that I had to earn what I did not deserve.
      I love this comment, as always it brings many thoughts and responses to my mind… I was paying my therapist, and therefore I felt like I was paying him to talk to me, I was sure that I was paying for him to be patient, to like me to put up with me… and the thing that I have learned in working with others is that we all come to the same conclusions no matter what the circumstances are.
      But like you, I learned to fight, and I learned to go forward even when I was sure that my therapist didn’t believe in me, and eventually I began to see improvements and I began to believe in myself. And I was worth the effort! (especially my effort! )
      Thank you so much for being here!
      and YES we have a choice, and you are so right ~ we have a choice whether we believe it or not!
      hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Linda Pittman Posted: 12th February

    What a good topic for some of us who are beginning to heal from the awful things that happened to us. My self-esteem was so low for many years because I was the invisible child. Only through realizing , just as you did, that I was not born that way; was I able to begin to look at where all the self-depreceating thoughts came from. So my deduction was; if others thought I was not important, therefore I was not important. Thankfully I have learned that I am a good and loving person. That I have value and meaning and if others do not value me, it is their problem and not mine. Thanks for your heart-felt sharing. ?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th February

      Hello Beautiful Mess
      Welcome to this growing community ~ we aren’t alone and there is so much power in finding others to relate to!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Linda,
      Yes, the invisible child! I forgot about that part. I like your summary; thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  23. By: Kellie Posted: 11th February


    You are awesome! Thanks for the encouragement…every day.



  24. By: Beautiful Mess Posted: 11th February

    I can relate to so much of this. I thank you for sharing. It’s always a comfort to know that although we can feel so alone, we aren’t.

  25. By: Kellie Posted: 11th February

    Sorry everyone that I was crass before. Its been bothering me since I pressed the comment button and there is no delete. Got bad news from the orthopedic surgeon this morning — what was going to be about two more weeks house and wheelchair-bound suddenly stretched out to about six more weeks today! UGH. I was injured in a car wreck on December 12 and part of me is very upset that the only reason I was out there driving in the ice and snow was to please my mother — who has repaid me with brimstone. Its just been a really crummy day and a very long couple of months.

    I will commit to refrain from comments on especially crummy days.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th February

      I hope that you don’t refrain from commenting! Especially on crummy days. I like to think of this as a place where we can be real. Where we can speak our pain, our truth and about the things that get in our way. It is lovely when we share our victories, but when we have first shared our pain it is even better.
      I am sorry that you had an accident ~ hope you recover quickly and I hope to hear from you again soon!
      Hugs, Darlene

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