Self-Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief By Carrie H.

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efb grief watersPlease join me in welcoming Carrie H. and her debut article on Emerging from Broken.  Carrie writes in a brilliant style filled with emotional honesty and compassion both for herself and for others who understand the grief we feel when we find it necessary to draw a boundary with our own families of origin. I am honored to have Carrie as a guest writer on Emerging from Broken.  ~ Darlene

 Self-Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief  by Carrie H.

 When my husband found out that his father was dying I asked him how he would make it through.  How would his sister make it?  How would his mother make it?  “Our love will hold us together”, he answered.  Wow, I thought. I watched as he and mom and sister held each other that day.  The day they knew one of their family members was dying.  In that moment I realized that love was absent from my own family of origin.  In my family, love did not tie us together, which was why getting through a dark time seemed so difficult from where I was standing.    

 When I pointed out the Truth to my parents and sister, that there had been verbal and emotional abuse, I was abandoned.  I had visions of us healing together as a family – that’s what loving families do – but I’ve had to let those dreams go over the past few months. 

 Their reaction to me revealing the dysfunction merely proved the dysfunction.  Instead of looking at their own behaviors and their role in our family dynamic, they chose to point their fingers at me and to blame me for their pain.  You see, once I stepped out of “The Matrix” – which is what I call their faulty belief system regarding love – they became very uncomfortable.  I told them that there was an elephant in the room that needed to be addressed.   I held up a mirror and they ran screaming.  In regards to the elephant in the room, my sister wants to pretend it’s not there.  If we don’t look at it, it can’t be there, right??  My father, always the spiritual bypasser, admits it’s there but says life is “just an illusion” so we are “one” with the elephant.  My mother says I’M the elephant. 

 I realized that the only way my family would accept me was as their scapegoat, as the one who caused them pain.  There is no other definition that they CAN accept because if I am okay, then why would THEY be in pain?   So one by one, I’ve had to say goodbye to my family members.  (Or more accurately, THEY have said goodbye to me). 

 First it was my mom, who sent me an email titled “The Elephant” in which she told me she had to let me go. Then there was my father, who is still in my life to some extent, but will continue to defend my mom’s actions and talk about how “sad” it is that I’m not talking to her anymore.  My father, a man who justifies his imprisonment by hiding behind spiritual quotes that were spoken by those who were, ironically, free and finally, my sister, with whom I still have a relationship albeit an inauthentic one.  “I would never do what you’re doing to mom,” she said.  You see, asking for kindness in a family of dysfunction is always met with an insane reaction.  What I’m DOING to them is asking them for respect.  

 So as my husband grieves his recently deceased father, I grieve my family as well.  I grieve the mother I never had, I grieve the father who I once actually thought of as a hero, knowing that he will never come to my defense and will live out his days in the lie that my mom is somehow the victim in all of this.  And I grieve for my sister, who remains entangled in the web of manipulation and guilt that defines the love I grew up with.  But here’s the thing – for those of us who grieve the living – we grieve alone.   My family looks lovely from the outside, a perfect picture with years worth of photographs to prove that we are “okay.”   Only those who have gotten very close know that those pictures are just a bunch of tangled lines.  Only those who have looked closely at the eyes in each photo see the sadness hidden beneath fake smiles. 

 My husband knows his father loved him, in the true definition of love.  He carries that love in his heart.  It binds them together in life and in death.  Alive or dead, his father has always been with him.  For those of us grieving those who have never loved us – truly loved us – how do we make it through?  It’s like love is the boat that my husband is on and it carries him through the waters of grief.  Sometimes the waves are intense but he is always in a boat.  I’m in those same waters but without a boat. Sometimes I get pulled under and come up gasping for air.  I have my husband and my son’s love, of course, but I don’t have the love of those I’m grieving. 

 I grieve the childhood I didn’t get, the childhood I THOUGHT I had, the actions I thought were love, the person I thought my dad was, the relationship I thought I had with my sister, the hope I had of my mother changing, the dream I had of my family healing, the future I thought we could share together, and the love I’ve never received from my family.  For those of us who grieve in hiding, we must build our own boats.  We must learn to love ourselves in the way our parents never did.  It will take work and strength to construct that boat but by the time it is built, by the time we are loving ourselves unconditionally in a way that was not modeled to us in our families, we will have a boat so strong, so sturdy, that the waves it will carry us over will be merely ripples lapping at our sides.  And we will ride in these self-constructed boats across the seas into freedom.  Freedom from the lies we were taught about ourselves, freedom from the faulty love we grew up with, freedom from the sadness and pain that came from our realizations. 

And once we reach that shore, the shore of freedom, we will be the lighthouses that can give hope and direction to others who are boatless in the stormy seas. 

 Carrie H.

Please share your comments with Carrie and I. We would love to hear from you and please consider sharing this post on social media sites too. So many will find comfort in the way that Carrie shares with such deep emotional honesty. Hugs!! Darlene

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, 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. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing 

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206 response to "Self-Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief By Carrie H."

  1. By: Beth Posted: 1st April

    I realize that my childhood and the rest of my life has been in a state of mourning, which continued until after my father, stepfather, and my mother died. My entire childhood was dwelt in sadness and isolation from anyone who would care. Because my mom lived away from her family and I had no contact with my biological father and paternal family, my entire family consisted of my older brother who had nothing to do with me, my Narcissistic mother who was negligent and abusive, and my abusive stepfather. There was really nothing but loneliness.
    Somehow, in my sadness, I managed to ferret away the central core of my being, preserving it until such time as it could be free. My central core remained trapped until my mother died. She suppressed me in every way, even stating to me, ‘that I could not live in the truth until after she died’. And, it was true, I didn’t really begin to embrace the truth fully until after she died. She had so much power over me, that she was capable of separating me from myself and my life.
    This is the comment that stood out the most to me. Grieving my missing family as a child kept me in a chronic state of grieving and depression. Now, that my mother died, I am free and the final grieving is over!
    “ … I grieve the childhood I didn’t get… the actions I thought were love… the hope I had of my mother changing, the dream I had of my family healing, the future I thought we could share together, and the love I’ve never received from my family.”

  2. By: UniqueCyn Posted: 30th May

    “I realized that the only way my family would accept me was as their scapegoat, as the one who caused them pain. There is no other definition that they CAN accept because if I am okay, then why would THEY be in pain?”

    This is wonderful. It explains why my mother never liked me.

    She got knocked up at 18 disappointing her critical judgmental parents, and married my unenthusiastic father who later became an alkie. There was no money for many years and she had this baby who seldom slept and who cried alot and actually had NEEDS. She’s never been one who could cope with problems (altho she thinks she’s very deep, wise and competent and is quite a know-it-all).

    So she was in pain, and she couldn’t blame herself (she’s perfect, dontcha know), and couldn’t blame my father upon whom she was financially and socially dependent, and couldn’t for some reason be angry at her punitive, judgmental parents–so she blamed her pain on the baby who was more trouble than she expected. Her pain was because of me, therefore, it could only follow I caused her pain and I had to be controlled, squashed and manipulated. She was just trying to manage her pain.

    Poor mom, right? No. Selfish, immature, cruel, damaging, dysfunctional mom.

    She’s had 50 years to work it through, and never did. Denial, squashing, blameshifting, invalidating, stonewalling, demeaning, and manipulation has always worked–and she’s not giving it up. Even though she knows how she hurts me, even though I’ve cut off all contact with her. She chooses her dysfunction–and in fact has escalated it (because my noncompliance and cut-off has increased her pain/humiliation).

    She’s been told that there’s a better way, one we can find together in therapy–but she chooses her dysfunction over her only daughter and 2 of her 3 grandchildren. She’s lost half her family (we are a small family) but she will not budge.

    The only person who will be with her in her old age will be my brother–and he was raised the same I was. He’ll do the conventional thing: call once a month, show up for a couple hours on or near the holidays, provide superficial social support–and NO emotional support.

    She’s going to be very lonely.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st May

      Hi Uniquecyn
      Welcome to EFB!! Sounds like you have found the right blog! Glad you are here,
      hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Kathy Posted: 29th May

    my brother and I have been nc with my mother for the past 11 months. This site has helped me to navigate the different emotions I have been feeling along the way. Those first few days I felt as tho I was barely able to put one foot in front of the other. Today I have a very different view of things. From the age of 5 I was told by my” loving” mother that I wasnt smart, I was over weight, I would never amount to much and there were people out there who were indeed better than me and I would never be on par with. This as a child!
    its no surprise my brothers and I grew up with no self esteem and a poor view of ourselves. I spent the past 40 years at least, believing that I wasnt as good as others, that people did look down on me and yes my mother was right. What a bunch of hog wash and brain washing that was. To control children by constantly putting them down. Beating them and telling them how embarrassed we make our mother is just disgusting. I have thought in recent days about confronting her but then I realize it will not produce the results I am looking for. She will just deny it and try to turn the tables on how terrible my brother and I are for sticking up for and with each other and walking away together from a lifetime of hurtful jabs, barbs and snarky comments that she delivers with a sense of entitlement to do so. My mother has displayed many emotions but love is not one of them. Now in her final years she is finding herself with only my one totally messed up youngest brother and without her other children, grandchildren and great grandchildren do to the choices she has made. My mother has always said “I will make my own mistakes and live with the consequences so just leave me alone” She is doing that now….I am not the person she tried to make me into, nor is my brother. This has her in a tizzy and she has said good bye to both of us and her grand children and great grandchildren. She has gone as far as to change her will. So its official now we are out of the family. On an interesting note once the will was changed she decided to start commenting on things her grand children are posting on face book…. out of the blue just like that….I was furious but then I realized thats who she is
    and she is indeed living with the consequences of her behavior.
    thanks for letting me vent

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st May

      Hi Kathy
      Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so glad that you have your brother; it really makes a difference to have just one person that stands by you and validates the truth. (for the other readers, this works fine even if this website is the only place you find that validation!) Thank you for sharing the clarity you have found about your mom.
      hugs, Darlene

  4. By: L Posted: 28th May

    I feel that I’m close to plunging into the waters of grief. I don’t want to, but I have to in order to make it safely away from them. I’m getting off this desert island and getting myself to shore, to join civilization. It’s becoming clearer and clearer what’s really going on and what I never really had.

    Regarding this quote: My family looks lovely from the outside, a perfect picture with years worth of photographs to prove that we are “okay.” – See more at: https://emergingfrombroken.com/self-love-and-navigating-the-waters-of-grief-by-carrie-h/#more-4987

    Last week when I spent a few nights away from my “family,” I came back to find that my “mom” had put a few photo albums outside my door. She was trying to prove that I was “loved” and always will be. It was just a punch in the stomach. Just another lie.

  5. By: marquis (female) Posted: 27th May

    Love it! I pointed out the abuse to my lousy parents and was told my sister brainwashed us, always gotta be my sister never their fault! Called every name in the book and it was my fault for “ruining the family,” yet my dad uses that shit all the time about “destroying the family.” It was already destroyed when they were kids and when they got married on day one!

    I’ve seen real love in other families it will never be my family which I’ve told people this all of my life abuse is not love and by spewing that dogma to other people is the reason why you see people out there still going after abusive relationships or staying in abusive family relationships. OMG, nobody wanted to hear that the amount of people spitting fire at me cutting me off about that, however; they did agree about women staying/finding abusive relationships with men but never works that way in family relationships – wow, we really do live in a dome in this world especially in America!

    Let’s see, almost 30 yrs old, does it look like I or siblings will see real love? Never, only if it “pertains to my parents’ strings attached and narc negotiation games.” That is something people never understood and told them ‘you don’t know professional liars like how I know them. You think a person who told you a white lie is bad? A narc makes them look decent like they told you the truth; a compulsive and professional liar is a whole another story!’

    ” Their reaction to me revealing the dysfunction merely proved the dysfunction. Instead of looking at their own behaviors and their role in our family dynamic, they chose to point their fingers at me and to blame me for their pain.”

    Agreed. Actions speak louder than words and saw nothing that was remotely loving from my parents and people have told to “look deeper behind the mistreatment,” and I did it still proves they don’t give a shit. Has anything changed? Was there a sincere apology about the truth as to why they did what they did and what went wrong in their childhoods? Nope, that explains everything to me. Yep, my parents chose to point their fingers at us, causing blame towards us, and how they are “innocent victims.” I see absolutely zero responsibility/accountability on their end, even people and ex-therapist agreed with that (most) yet still said it’s not about them taking responsibility – it’s about us survivors taking the responsibility. Of what?!? What did we do to cause this abuse is what I keep asking people and nobody has an answer every time I ask that question!!

    Finger pointing, name calling, blame games, betrayals, their entitlement issues, etc I saw more evil and terrorism than anything else, where’s the unconditional love? Where’s the intimacy (no, not incest talking about closeness and love)? Yea, a lot of people shut up after I said that. A roof over your kids’ head is not something that’s “owed to you as a parent,” that is something you are suppose to do when having children. Seriously, child development needs to be a requirement for everybody whether they wanna be parents or not – any signs of abuse strip their parental rights! May be we can lower the amount of unfit parents/families/caretakers out there. I knew as a kid growing up that they never loved us, I wasn’t an idiot I knew what was going on – all of us and people say that isn’t true, no, it is true. I am very intelligent when it comes to stuff like this, if I lived in denial, wouldn’t I believing what everybody else says that it’s true they loved us regardless the mistreatment?

    My parents seem to be done with their children as I am the last one to be finished with! My sister’s 2 daughters don’t exist at all to my parents, brother doesn’t seem to exist neither does his wife, 1st born half sister doesn’t care yet she is still being used by her real dad’s family and abused, etc. My mom said recently that she feels 1st born daughter (half sister to me) is probably dead because my grandma (mom’s mom) won’t tell her the truth about her but when did she ever go back to the South to help her daughter out? Never did, she put her daughter into my grandma’s lap and made her raise her child she never wanted. What kind of parent does that?! Oh, nobody wanted to hear that! My mom said I was a great mom to her, then why does she/your children hate both of you? Great parents are not hated by their kids.

    Nobody in this lousy-ass family speaks the truth on anything. They have absolutely no remorse yet still don’t get why their own children hate and don’t want anything to do with them – how could you be that clueless? My idiot parents turned into their own parents: mom turned into her mom (not sure about her dad) and dad turned into his mom (not sure about his step-dad but his real dad is a Klansmen that’s all we know), so what more proof do people need?

    “For those of us grieving those who have never loved us – truly loved us – how do we make it through? It’s like love is the boat that my husband is on and it carries him through the waters of grief. Sometimes the waves are intense but he is always in a boat. I’m in those same waters but without a boat. Sometimes I get pulled under and come up gasping for air. I have my husband and my son’s love, of course, but I don’t have the love of those I’m grieving.”

    I agree, how did we make it through? Mine was destructive before I met my boyfriend. I have his life, but never the love from my parents and that’s the loss that still hurts. I still don’t have a set of real parents or better yet real role models. However, someone I worked with at the bookstore volunteer treats me like a such a real human being that nobody else ever has. He told me how he hates violence, he truly believes in being kind to others, etc the man is 78 years old. He talked about the love he had for his parents and how they loved him.

    I’ve been grieving for years even when I was a kid none of my old friends could understand why I was always depressed or looked depressed in the face daily. One ex-friend told me that’s no excuse to be such a downer, you’re not the only one suffering. I was hot when she said that, true, I wasn’t the only one suffering, but I am only ONE PERSON. It wasn’t like we were talking about a multitude of people, she asked me why do I look like a downer? She also said I need to stop dwelling on the issues coming from someone who never had parents like mine needed to shut her trap! She had no business lecturing me when she needed to take a look at some of the things she was doing having a new man every month, what does that say about her?

    Honestly, I still get teary-eyed when I see loving families and have to turn my head because it makes me irate when I see something I could never have. People never understood why I walk away from that or conversations about their families – it has nothing to do with me not my family I don’t need to participate in those conversations!

    “I grieve the childhood I didn’t get, the childhood I THOUGHT I had, the actions I thought were love, the person I thought my dad was, the relationship I thought I had with my sister, the hope I had of my mother changing, the dream I had of my family healing, the future I thought we could share together, and the love I’ve never received from my family. For those of us who grieve in hiding, we must build our own boats. We must learn to love ourselves in the way our parents never did. It will take work and strength to construct that boat but by the time it is built, by the time we are loving ourselves unconditionally in a way that was not modeled to us in our families, we will have a boat so strong, so sturdy, that the waves it will carry us over will be merely ripples lapping at our sides. And we will ride in these self-constructed boats across the seas into freedom. Freedom from the lies we were taught about ourselves, freedom from the faulty love we grew up with, freedom from the sadness and pain that came from our realizations.”

    The “parents” we have are not parent simply two people who created children, did a shit job in raising us, treated us like slaves/maid servants, such extremely poor role modeling, etc are just simply two lousy idiots who are only “married” by a legal piece of a paper, but there’s no real love at all there just two idiots licking each other’s wounds and both enable each other. God, the amount of people screamed at me, called me names, told me I will understand once I get older, etc but sorry, that’s the cold hard truth about them and that’s reality – not the white picket fence! I thought we could get family counseling when I was in high school and my parents screamed at that the usual we are a great family and mom said stop telling white people our damn biz!!

    They always kiss each other’s asses, one said I never said this and the other does the same thing, then calls each other liars and then one of them says I did say that but and misconstrues it to their own screwed up way of thinking.

    So much for that. I am working hard towards my freedom since I have a job and not enough to move out, but I am striving hard I have a photo collage online of an apartment and being at peace that’s my motivation. My “parents” won’t know what hit them when that day comes and I want to be on my own sooner and hopefully I will have everything lined up and ready. Hmm, I thought people were gonna build me a boat and I can paddle away, I guess that isn’t the case anymore and like my ex-therapist told me you have to be your own hero.

  6. By: Sunshine Posted: 22nd May

    I wonder if I will ever get there. It’s still so new to me. I’ve been allowed to talk about, okay not talk about, but it has been acknowledged that my Mother’s second husband was abusive. That is only because he abused all of us including my Mother. She and her golden will even acknowledge that I got it far worse because I “dug my heels in” or some such nonsense.

    I’ve learned since finally figuring out what has been wrong for my entire life that I was treated worse long before my Mother’s second husband arrived on the scene and am still being treated badly thirty years after their divorce.

    Even when I was allowed to bring up the subject of him, it was not about what happened to me, it was about my Mother and how she wished she could have made her mistakes with men without hurting anyone else. There was probably an entire evening of drama and tears and sobs coming from her.

    Then it quickly went to anything I said was punishing her, she had said her apologies and the discussion was over. She was clear she would not be walking on eggshells around me so….I am still walking on fire.

    I still have this fantasy of leaving the book “Will I Ever be Good Enough” in her door and her reading it and seeing herself. This would be followed by therapy and healing and then I would have a family, a real one this time. It is a bitter sweet dream because I am slowly coming to the realization that this is never going to happen.

  7. By: Carrie H. Posted: 11th May

    Marie – Yes, there is an excellent quote. “How we speak to our children becomes their inner voice.” Catching that voice and re-mothering ourselves is key. I am glad you have your children and their love. Thanks for sharing.

  8. By: Marie Posted: 11th May

    A really well written article and mirrors exactly what i went through in the sense of me naming the elephant in the room and they all ran screaming- i now feel like an outcast – my voice was not heard but silenced by them. How could i upset my mother like that bu confronting her, but she knew the secrets and hid them , she tried to pretend that she did not say the things she said such as ‘it would kill her sister if i told about what my uncle did to me’ or ‘they are our friends’ when i spoke about the neighbour raping me, and of course they focused purely on the old man who abused me from 8-12. that was the main focus , but dont mention the abuse that happened within the family. It makes me sick to the stomach thinking about this- the victim is the person who is made feel bad because when my father told me my mother ‘would never say that’ or ‘my behavior made this happen’ (i was 13) they might as well re-assault me all over again and hold hands with the abusers. I am alone now, but with my 3 wonderful kids, the parents are moving away now (they lived in next town but when i exposed the abuse they knocked on my uncles door to warn him and then put their house up for sale) COWARDS!!! Running away from the truth while i had to live with the pain of this every single day of my life and struggle with failed relationships because I did not know what true love was.

    Carrie – it is lovely how you describe your husbands family and the love they have for each other because even with death love soothes the pain. My family were ‘fake’, my mother would stand rigid with fright if i hugged her, it was cold and unloving- money was no object- just dont make me love you was her motto- she never once had a cup of tea in my house or sat with her grand kids to try and get to know them- just shoved money my way to shut me up!! I hope that you can get love from the husband who knows love , I think that is a huge positive for you- it is my dream to someday get married and meet someone who vibrates love and compassion , I am only learning this now at 43 lol but the biggest challenge i face is loving myself because abusing myself feels more ‘normal’ if you get what i mean.

  9. By: Hobie Posted: 10th May

    Karina

    I read your post and this sentence jumped out at me!
    “I still felt accountable for my choices until typing this sentence, and then asked myself how could be I be if I didn’t know any different, or any better?”

    I don’t know how many thousands of times I asked myself a similar question: How does anyone make a choice that they don’t know that they have?

    It’s true! I got so stuck trying to take responsibility for something that I wasn’t responsible for!

    Good for you! Good for your son!

    Hobie

  10. By: Karina Posted: 9th May

    Wow.
    Open a window or take a red matrix pill. I find myself married to a sex addict at 39, recovering from a hysterectomy I never wanted, wondering where did I stop believing I was worth anything. Only to realize I’ve never felt that. Looking into what kind of personality marries an addict I’ve seen so many parallels to my life. Through marriage counseling I’m owning being emotionally neglected and abused all my life, adopted, abandoned, broken. I still felt accountable for my choices until typing this sentence, and then asked myself how could be I be if I didn’t know any different, or any better?
    I don’t know what future is, one where self esteem is more than a foreign concept, where love feels less like self inflicted torture and more like I don’t know what. My only reason why is despite it all; the lack of love, belief, support, faith, it is my past, and not my child’s future. He deserves better than what I had. He has a right to be happy.

  11. By: Carrie H. Posted: 29th April

    L – So glad you were able to stand up for yourself. The mixed messages you continue to receive are just part of the crazy making process. Keep standing in your truth. DXS – Yes, they love to say “snap out of it” which again places the blame on you. It helps to remember a lot of it is projection so that they won’t have to look in the mirror. Starsalign – You are NOT an entitled whiner. Asking to be treated with love and respect is your RIGHT. Nadia – Thank you for sharing. I think we begin to build the boat by stopping the lies and no longer seeing ourselves from their eyes. I find that my self talk often reflects how I was spoken TO and it isn’t kind. Catching those unloving words directed at ourselves is key. (I’m still working on it every day). Karla Reeves KY – Yes, we must become our own mothers and treat ourselves the way we deserved to be treated as children. Cary – Thank you so much for sharing. Once we realize the truth about our family it is very painful to watch the masks fall off. You already mention that you realize you need to thank yourself for the role you played in your years of legal proceedings. Being kind to yourself (thanking yourself) IS part of the boat building process. There is a great quote that Brene Brown has. She says, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” It sounds to me like you are in that process right now. I am there too. Sometimes you may feel stuck. I have these days as well. Just keep loving yourself and slowly but surely your boat will get built and eventually you will climb in. Thanks for coming to the site and sharing your story.

  12. By: Cary Posted: 24th April

    I also wanted to say that I’m grateful for any observations or other feedback you or Darlene may be inclined to give.

  13. By: Cary Posted: 24th April

    Hi Carrie,
    Wow, your story resembles mine in many ways–from being the “scapegoat” of the family to our sisters and their use of textbook manipulation strategies in attempts to control and make themselves feel better about themselves. A difference in our stories is that you’re more close with your Dad, and I was very attached to my Mom. (I’m male, and my name is also Cary.)

    I almost always felt my Mom had my back. She died first. Then, without being attached to the outcome, my Dad’s and my relationship began to heal. I had watched some Oprah episodes in the past, and decided I didn’t want to wait until after he died to make amends. I silently worked on myself through sleep, meditation, and intent. And although he was as lost as I was from the passing of my Mom, my Dad got to where he was actually telling me he loved me several years later…before I even said it!

    Of course, my sister got jealous after my Dad died…acting as if I was the one who was the evil one who’d manipulated him into liking me and spending time with me. (She lives out of state and didn’t come visit very often.)

    Currently, neither of my siblings speak to me. After my father’s death, I took a stand: I filed a lawsuit and took them to court a year after he passed. During this time, my sister, who is quite vocal, got extended family members to side with her while I forgave (and even silently thanked) everyone for their involvement, practically every day.*

    It initially took two months to decide whether to take a stand and file or not, ultimately discerning with the help of my counselor that if I didn’t, the patterns would show up in my life in other ways with future scenarios. Second to my Mother’s passing, standing up for myself was one of the scariest, gut-wrenching, and physically exhausting things I’ve had to face. I did it with the help of my attorney, the court system, and a spiritual counselor. I wasn’t employed, so money from my parents will was being used to pay expenses.

    I just remembered that my dog who was my best friend died on a Monday. That Friday, we were in court. My attorney cried when she heard the news.

    Like you, I thought I had a great childhood. As each parent died, I saw more and more how the selfishness, controlling nature, and fears of my siblings began to surface.

    Honestly, I’m not sure why I came to this page. I don’t identify myself as a victim, yet I am (and have been) working at loving myself more in attempts to begin seeing my own self worth. I also catch myself falling into fear mode now and then, and as recent as yesterday, I was wondering what’s going to become of me and my life.

    You see, I’m feeling stuck, like I can’t escape. I was feeling this a little bit in my twenties, and again more strongly these past ten years…since the passing of my mother. I’ve been going through the motions, existing, but can’t seem to get past the clutter or state of disrepair of my home, and my own physical energy levels (let alone be able to reach a place where I can thrive). I’m single and went through each parent’s passing while being single, and buried myself away from friend support in the cave of my room.

    *I just realized I haven’t forgiven or thanked myself for the role I played during the 2+ years of legal proceedings. I do like your analogy of the boat, and read it several times with tears in my eyes. Sorry if relaying my story has been a bit disjointed and all over the place. There’s evidently more self-exploration for me do and to heal.

    “For those of us who grieve in hiding, we must build our own boats. We must learn to love ourselves in the way our parents never did. It will take work and strength to construct that boat but by the time it is built, by the time we are loving ourselves unconditionally in a way that was not modeled to us in our families, we will have a boat so strong, so sturdy, that the waves it will carry us over will be merely ripples lapping at our sides. And we will ride in these self-constructed boats across the seas into freedom. Freedom from the lies we were taught about ourselves, freedom from the faulty love we grew up with, freedom from the sadness and pain that came from our realizations.

    And once we reach that shore, the shore of freedom, we will be the lighthouses that can give hope and direction to others who are boatless in the stormy seas.”

    Thank you.

  14. By: Karla Reeves-KY Posted: 23rd April

    Dear Carrie,
    wow I loved all that you wrote ,I saw my family in your words .I am so sorry for the pain your family has caused you .you didn’t deserve any of the mean treatment you got .you written your pain in the words that I could step in your words and feel all of your pain. my mother has been dead now 3 years and I still have the emptiness my mother left me is still here.

  15. By: Nadia Posted: 20th April

    As for the boat…how do we build it? I could have used one today. This was a difficult Easter .
    I grieved my family all day today. Hubby’s parents are elderly and are more comfortable being home. We visited them yesterday. I feel so much love when I am with his parents. They love their children unconditionally. They are not a perfect family, but the love is there no matter what. My hubby has 2 siblings and there are some issues with one of his siblings. My in laws don’t go back and forth, treating their children like “the flavour of the month”. My mother thrived on my brother and I having disagreements or issues. It gave her power over us. All we have left now is hubby’s sister. We spent Good Friday with her and she had Easter with us. It was great but inside I was hurting. I am so thankful for her. She has been there for me and for hubby and our kids.
    As I read your words again, I am reminded that I have to be strong and accept what never was. I have to take care of me first, then family, and my boat will keep me afloat. All the best to you Carrie…thank you so much for sharing.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st April

      Hi Nadia
      Building the boat IS the process. 🙂 and acceptance comes as the fog lifts; the more clarity I got about the actual truth, the more I saw and understood that it wasn’t my fault, the more whole I became.. It takes time and it takes courage but YOU are worth it.
      Thank you for sharing with us here. 🙂
      hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Nadia Posted: 20th April

    Carrie, I am so greatful for your words and to Darlene for recommending that I check her website again for some words of wisdom. I have had many confrontations with my mother over a thirty year period and it nearly ruined my marriage. This Christmas and Easter was spent without my parents and my brother and his family. Your story is very similar to mine. My mothers narcissistic behaviour and her emotional manipulation and abuse was exhausting. It got worse after meetng my hubby, getting married, and having my 3 children. My brother thinks I am a horrible daughter for abandoning my parents, especially my Dad who has dementia. I tried to be a good daughter. I did everything I possibly could to be there for them. It was never enough for her. I couldn’t do it anymore. I am 51. I have lived with depression since I was 14. I live my life, minute to minute, day by day. Good days and bad. She never understood.
    It was always about her. I have a wonderful husband and 3 wonderful children. They are my life. We are not perfect. We love each other anyway. Thanks for your words Carrie.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st April

      Hey Everyone!! I just published a new article on the front page! It’s about when family tries to get info on you even though they don’t seem to care anymore and the conflicting feelings when that happens. Here is the link
      “When people use facebook to spy; Dear Stalkers”
      It was originally published back in February but due to a glitch with the server it was only there for about 6 hours! I have included some of the original comments that also disappeared. Hope you will comment and share that post because it went viral the first time with people relating to it. There is a huge need out there for people to find validation when they are in this situation.
      Thanks, hugs, Darlene

  17. By: L Posted: 20th April

    Starsalign,

    You’re very brave, and not a whiner whatsoever. I wish you the best of luck in building a better boat for yourself. I know you can do it. One day, you will have it!

    DXS,

    Yes it’s very tough. I woke up this morning in my parents house. I lied there for a little bit, then went to the bathroom because I felt like I had to throw up. I ended up only gagging. I know why I have these reactions now, the same ones I had as a child. It’s not me who has a weak stomach like my mom always said, it’s the environment that I can barely stomach.

    Then I went to work, and something amazing happened. A supervisor, a very loving, bubbly and caring woman, asked me how I was. I said ok. She asked why, and I said I just moved in to my parents house. Apparently she has an abusive history of her own. While she was telling me about it, I broke down crying (at the front of the store where I work!) and she took me outside to talk. I told her what was going on and she completely empathized with me. I actually felt like she was listening. She decided to let me go home (well, to a park or something) early and told me I could vent any time. On my way out of the store, a coworker who had seen me crying gave me her number and told me to call her at 6 when she got off work. Now I have at least two people who are actively reaching out.

    I should add that in the past couple of days I was praying, asking the universe for a helper, a guardian angel, since I had no one. I think these people are them. This is why after months of not being able to get a job, this one practically fell into my lap a month ago.

    Wishing the best to everyone today,
    L

  18. By: DXS Posted: 19th April

    L, I feel for you. Having to live with your Mom after all you went through. Tough. You feel like you have to suck up again, like a little kid.

  19. By: Starsalign Posted: 19th April

    It’s hard to try to build a boat when it’s been drummed into you that you’re lucky to have a fine boat and your lack of a boat is all in your head. You’re not drowning – your parents are the ones who suffered from almost drowning. Look at your nice boat! You always had a nice boat and here we are, your parents, barely hanging onto the side of the boat you have been given and are so ungrateful for.

    So I find they throw rocks at my “boat” trying to tear it down – my mom especially – telling me my feelings aren’t legitimate. She shared horrible memories of unspeakable abuse she says she experienced with myself and all my siblings. My brother was only 7 years old and he was told detailed, graphic stories of rape and brutality. We were the lucky ones who had a childhood. So I do feel guilty because if she did suffer those things it makes sense she’d be messed up and it’s not her fault…. We were told we never loved my mom and didn’t care about her (not at all true)… We were told over and over how we needed to be prepared to leave as soon as we hit 18, as I guess my mother couldn’t stand to look at us (except for my brothers who still live with my parents in their mid to late 20s and suffer guilt for even thinking about leaving my mom (!?!) ) …of course no assistance with determining how to prepare – only that we needed to figure it out. I guess take our beautiful boats we never deserved and get the hell out of there….

    My mom did the whole send me to school dirty and unkempt thing, cut my hair off because she said she didn’t want to mess with having to take care of it….I wet the bed all the time until I was around 12 – I think I wet the bed at times in my teen years as well – and from the time I was little she didn’t want to be bothered. Told me to get a towel and do it myself. I would go to school smelling because we didn’t have a shower so a bath would take too long I guess (?) I dunno. She just told me to clean myself up….yeah I don’t know how that was supposed to that but it didn’t work. So I was the kid who was left alone at school or made fun of, I guess. I was shy, compliant and passive. I really never rocked the boat. I couldn’t because I had to hide my “boat” as it was undeserved.

    I have been in therapy for over a year now and still am embarrassed of my need or want to be there, as though I am undeserving. My instinct is to stay hidden and it’s like I can’t even figure out what one does to come out of hiding. I feel fragmented – like I never know which part of me will show up. I can’t seem to control it and it scares me when I’m watching myself be a way that doesn’t seem like it’s me. I can’t talk about the most mundane things in my past as the words get jumbled and won’t come out right or sometimes not at all. I blank out, shut down, disappear inside myself too. But my life was so much better than my moms life. I should be grateful. That’s what I’ve been told since I can remember anything. My mom recently told me that I can get my son to do what I want by shaming him. I was shocked that she was so blunt! She said, “you know what works? Shame him!” ……..

    I feel guilty posting this here because I’m convinced I’m probably an entitled whiner. I just know feeling like killing myself or self-harming everyday is not good….and I remember the same thoughts when I was as young as 10, maybe younger. The nightmares. If I could just be free of that, I’d be good. But I have a boat and this boat, I’m told, is good enough. I’m trying to see about rebuilding it, if I can allow myself to justify it and then figure out how to get started…

  20. By: L Posted: 18th April

    Good for you DXS, for not backing down. That’s half the battle, and very tempting at times.

    I just talked to my mom on the phone tonight like nothing happened. I couldn’t sleep well last night thinking about our conversation and worked tonight so I just have no energy to fight with her. The best way to deal with this right now is to just accept what I heard last night, and treat her as a roommate for however long that she is one. Since I need a place to live and do not want to constantly argue, I’m going to lay low, do my thing, keep working on myself, spend a good chunk of my time out of the house while I figure out a way to get some money and geographical distance. I feel this is my best option at this point.

  21. By: DXS Posted: 18th April

    Wow, L, lots to deal with. I visited my Mom after N/C for a year. At first I thought it went well and she tried hard to understand me. But now I’m feeling the same, “now that we talked, my daughter will snap out of it and be like the rest of us.” I always felt this from my Mom. I will NOT “snap out of it.” There is no “it” to snap out of. Mom asked me if I can “put it behind us.” No, I cannot. I was left emotionally damaged, and I have to deal with it and cope with it.

  22. By: L Posted: 18th April

    Oh, and I also keep feeling like maybe if I had been a little calmer during the conversation, or had framed it a little differently, then she would have reacted positively. But hell no, I was calmer than I’d ever been before confronting her, and there was no reasoning her out of this one.

  23. By: L Posted: 18th April

    Well, I did it. I told my mom that I felt disrespected when she was running late and didn’t call (and had plans to be even later) and I would like for her to let me know when she’s running late in the future. This is what I heard back:

    1) She didn’t know that we had an “appointment.” I put appointment in quotes because she said it in a mocking tone. Well, “I’ll be there 9ish” sounds like a set appointment to me, and a shoddy one at that. She was here around 10, and probably would have been later waiting for my dad if I didn’t call.

    2) She doesn’t understand why now, “out of the blue” I’m bringing this up. The family has always been like that, and I shouldn’t expect them to change. It’s not personal and why can’t I just learn forgiveness? (truth leak?!?!? If it’s not personal then why is there a need to forgive?), she says. She gets mad at other family members for being late all the time and it’s all normal. And my dad doesn’t like it either, she says. I even remember a time my mom had words with her brother for being an hour late AGAIN. But when I say hey, I’d like this to change and I think it would benefit everyone, NOPE. You’re crazy.

    3) I told her I often feel unsupported and I feel afraid to tell her my feelings because of how she’ll react. She turned that around to be my fault and made it about her. She said she “loves” (man is it painful to put that in quotes) me but basically implied that she knows the best way to comfort me (making me see the other side of the situation so I’ll stop feeling whatever I’m feeling) and that’s what she does and she’s sorry (not really) if it doesn’t work for me.

    4) “I’m sorry but actually I’m not really sorry at all.”

    5) She’s “worried” for me about how I’m going to keep and make relationships with people if I’m so “strict” with them. This “my way or the highway” approach is not going to work for me, she says.

    6) She tried to throw in my face the passover dinner from earlier this week. Yes, I was half an hour late. The precedent was that everyone in our family is late all the time, so I was acting according to that. But anyway, I called ahead of time to let them know. Surprisingly, I was the last one there. I don’t know how that happened. She also exaggerated the amount of time I was late by like an hour. I even apologized for my half hour of tardiness during our conversation which was SO NOT THE POINT but I did. That silenced her for a couple seconds. So she is allowed to feel disrespected, but I am not.

    7) My dad and brother were in the other room, pretending like nothing was happening. My brother even walked between us while we were talking in a doorway. So weird. I think I have done the same. Now I realize how strange it is.

    8) She wanted to give me a hug after all that, which I declined. Talk about mixed messages.

    And that was just talking to my mom. I haven’t talked to my dad yet.

    I don’t know how I’m going to live with them. I just don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m praying to God, the universe, something out there, that I’ll find a way to find a comfortable living situation soon.

  24. By: L Posted: 17th April

    I’m moving out of my apartment in the next couple days, and into my parents’ house (deep breath). I asked my mom to help me take some boxes over there tonight and she said she and my dad would be here around 9. That was after I invited them to have dinner together first, but she said, no, they have food at home they need to eat. So, food comes before me. My mom is always asking if I want to come over and until recently I did a couple times a week or so, you would assume because she wants to see me, but when I invite them out, nope. Excuses. It’s 9:45 pm now and she’s just now leaving, and without my dad because he just woke up from a nap and needs to eat first, like a cranky child. Again, food comes before me. My mom was going to wait for him to finish eating, too, before they came, but I just told her if my dad doesn’t want to come, that’s fine (then she was being wishy-washy about coming because it was getting late – her fault for not being here when she said she would). My dad already made it clear that he’s not available to help me move on the weekdays (because he has to sleep and eat, apparently). I had forgotten about how much he sleeps. Stays up all night doing nothing because he “can’t sleep” due to his “age,” then takes a nap for most of the evening after work and is nowhere to be seen. Then wakes up and continues doing nothing all night long. Lather rinse repeat.

    I plan to tell my dad and mom how all this makes me feel when I’m over there tonight unloading boxes. I don’t expect any apologies, only more blame and shame, but at least I’ll say my truth.

    This site is my solace right now, and I’ve donated a small amount. I can see myself donating more later. Thanks again, Darlene.

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