Shifting My Thinking on the Journey to Overcoming Emotional Damage


psychological abuseI had to learn to shift my thinking in this process of overcoming the damage caused by emotional abuse. There were a few rather large shifts that I had to make in order to make progress and there was a process to shifting my thinking! It didn’t just happen overnight. 

Instead of trying to understand why ‘they’ didn’t like me or why ‘they’ didn’t love me and why I didn’t fit in and why ‘they’ treated me so badly and what was wrong with me, I started to try to understand why I kept trying.

 I started to ask myself new questions;

Although I had some suspicions that most of my relationships were not fair to me, deep down why did I believe I was the one that was wrong about everything ~ which kept me trying to fix me?  

Although I has some suspicions that there were some things my family was doing wrong, why was I so easily convinced that I was the problem in the relationship which also kept me trying to fix me?  

Why didn’t I expect to be treated the way they insisted that I treat them? 

Why did I accept such a one sided definition of love that so obviously had two very different sets of rules; a set for them and a set for me?

And as I started to ask myself different questions, I started to find different answers.

There were some levels to this process of healing from emotional damage. These levels are important to consider because each new discovery has a realization and a reaction. Very often it was the reaction to the realization that sent me backwards to the comfortable and familiar coping methods of compliance and obedience that no longer served me.

~As I began to realize that maybe I was not the biggest problem in the relationship and that perhaps there was something valid about my suspicions (labeled by others as feelings that were probably wrong) that I was always being ignored, shut up, discounted invalidated and disrespected  ~

~THEN I started to consider that perhaps I was spending too much time on thinking about how I could change me (believing that changing me would change the way they treated me) instead of thinking a bit more about the lack of equal value towards me and I started looking a little more closely at why I didn’t stand up to the ways that I was treated in a more proactive way. ~

~But as soon as I had that thought, the fear reaction came in. As soon as I seriously considered drawing a boundary, my ultimate fear of being cast away from my family without further consideration became what made me reject the thought about drawing that boundary. For years I was willing to go back to ‘trying to understand them’ and ‘trying to change me’ rather than face that fear of rejection. I was extremely afraid of the probability of their rejection as though my very life was at stake; so afraid that I was unwilling to look at truth and consider that continuing to put up with the way I was disregarded may have been worse than being rejected. When I look back on that today, that thought alone was telling. It revealed my own suspicions (what if they didn’t actually care if I was in their lives or not?) and in my still present childhood coping method I was doing everything I could not to face those suspicions.

The truth is that I was putting a ton of work into relationships with people that I knew deep down would dump me if I stood up to them and that was a horrifying realization. I had all those red flags and those warning signals telling me to comply and obey were overriding the belief that I deserved better than that. My fear of rejection was stronger than my desire to have mutually respectful relationships.

It all started in childhood when I believed that rejection is death ~ fear of rejection becomes a survival instinct.  Through that grid of understanding, it is understandable that we carry that fear of rejection from family forward with us. It is how we survived and how we coped with any kind of mistreatment as children.

My biggest fear was that if I refused to comply with their wishes and if I drew a boundary and stood up to them ~ then they would reject me. I was in that place for a while, sort of just hanging out between the longing for freedom and claiming my equal value by enforcing it in my relationships and the fear of being rejected if I did insist on being valued and respected.

But as I began to see the truth about that fear a deeper truth emerged; the deeper truth is that I was afraid of something that had already happened. Being disregarded as an equally valuable human being IS rejection.  It was through finally understanding that truth, that I was able to see things more clearly and draw self-supporting and self-valuing boundaries.

Please share your thoughts about shifting your thinking, reactions to realizations or any other thoughts you have about love and self-love, equal value, coping methods that no longer serve or coming out of the fog. I look forward to hearing from you. Remember that you may use any name you wish in the comment form and your email will not be shared. If you subscribe to comments, you must return to the blog if you wish to post an additional reply. (Replying in email will not go back to the blog post itself.)  

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

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Categories : Survival



Hi Darlene, Today I read in a novel I’m reading, that trust is formed from knowing that you are loved. As I child, I was told I was loved and I believed it even if I was treated as a less-than because I had no other definition of love. Then when men told me they loved me and treated me abusively, I accepted that abuse as love too. I trusted the people I believed loved me. Accepting abuse from those men as love was so embarrassing to my family, that they threw me away. I easily, could have died but they threw me away anyway, all the while, saying they loved me.The men who said they loved me eventually, tired of me and threw me away too. I didn’t question the love that was professed because it fit what I knew to be love. I trusted anyone who said they loved me because I was a child starved for love. I loved myself in the same way that I was loved and I threw myself away too. I was tired of me. I wasn’t what I wanted to be. I decided love was just an illusion. Something people chased but never really found because as much as people talked about it, no one really seemed to give love that lasted. It was a word people used to take what they wanted from me and when they were done, throw me away. I would sacrifice everything I was and give it all away, if I thought there was a chance that someone would really love me and never throw me away. I still have that basic, underlying fear of being thrown away and it is a real fear based on real-life experiences. I don’t try and change myself for people, I don’t allow myself to get close enough to them to be in danger of them throwing me away. I have the handful of people I trust because they have proven themselves to me and they are the only ones that I allow myself to need. Even then, I know things could change and they might throw me away too because that’s what people do. I don’t throw myself away, anymore though because I’m the only person I can trust to stick with me if things go really wrong. Even I can get sick or be unable to meet my own needs for some other reason and let myself down. Human love and the trust that develops from it are as limited as human beings. I look to God for what I can’t get from others or myself, unlimited love and that is also, where my trust lies. I know I can’t depend on other people to give me value. There is no pleasing another so perfectly, that they will never grow tired of you, or be embarrassed by you, and throw you away. Being physcially, thrown away is a child’s worst fear of rejection, come true. It’s an experience that changes things forever and even when the wounds heal, if they ever completely, heal, it has left me with a permenent, emotional limp that is obvious to others. I’m different because of it and it seems there’s really nothing I can do about it but accept it.



Very well written Darlene.
It is that fear of being rejected but like you say we already have been!!!!!LOL so simple we have been. Brilliant Dralene at my age I have never thought of it like that.So simple we already have been.You are making me smile.No matter how hard you try its a no win situation.When I have tried and tried to please family and so called friends and still not been wanted I have felt like it is death.Hours of wondering what I can do to change me.Sometimes my brain feels like it will burst with trying.Thank you Darlene xx


I am in the process of shifting my thinking now. I have been stuck in limbo (as you described “between longing for freedom and claiming my equal value”) for a long, long time. Decades. I have made so many attempts to be validated and approved of and supported and to have a connection.

My siblings and parents would/will do nice things along with the hurtful actions. It’s a mixed bag. They might say/do something helpful in my life, or there is an apology in the mix, but it can be taken back or something hurtful happens again. There is almost always a “net hurt” after these family gatherings and I need days for recovery.

Today I realized that through my longstanding depression and coping, I am in a form of denial. Because to really believe and know that most of my immediate family doesn’t particularly support me with the sexual abuse, and they don’t particularly value having me around at these family gatherings, that my reactions to abuse/neglect were seen as “wrong” and viewed as beating up on my parents or not forgiving them (with my outbursts or silence) — to really know that is actually quite enraging and frightening.

I’ve been very angry when I think about it lately rather than just stuck in depression. It is frightening because it means that I have to take a stand in order to save myself and my dignity; it is so scary to think about being alone, possibly moving away, no family to rely upon, being different from others who have families, what happens when I get even older, etc.


Hello Light ,
You are not alone you have friends us.Even though we are invisable EFB will help you.
Your family do not sound very nice so stop thinking about them.Put yourself first for a change and perhaps start trying to make friends.
You will get support from this site from Darlene and no doubt Karen and Andria who are very supportive and have helped me.We all get older but you will make some new friends it is part of life.The other day I was on the Supermarket carpark and struck up a conversation about 9/11 with a man.Now you tell me how the heck do you strick up a chat about a subject like that on the SUPERMARKET CARPARK!! Unfortunately I am married. We even discussed his bowelcancer.So it is easy to get talking to people.Pleasedo not worry about when you are older it just creeps up on you. Take care xxx


Getting over the solitary focus on trying to change me is also something I’ve had to face. In my eating disorder, I was always so sure that unless I radically changed myself, no one would ever like me. And that is because that is the message I received from my family, who always said I was fat (even when I was a quite-slim child) and accompanied that by a long list of other things that were essentially ‘wrong’ with me and why I didn’t deserve kind treatment. If only I could be a different person, it seemed then they would be happy.

But I know if someone doesn’t like me, they can just move along and choose someone else. I can’t change enough for them, and anyway, I get to be myself! But it’s a process to try to really believe that in all of my present relationships. I often imagine that everyone in the world is judging me based on my appearance/weight, through the same impossible, no-win standards that my family had.

I was also gripped with that fear for much of the last year of my relationship with my sister–knowing that if I stood up for myself, it was the end, and so basically burying my real feelings about our past and present in order to maintain the relationship. Of course I turned out to be right, she became malicious after I drew my boundary. But in fact our real bond had ended a long, long time before that, so I was glad to bury that ghost forever.


Thanks for this, Darlene. I can really connect to it right now—the fact that I’d been rejected all along. I was rejected at 3 years old when I began to assert my own personality. It’s amazing how the body holds memory, how I can feel that exact rejection now so many years later, no matter all the time between when I was the good daughter and then the broken daughter—on my knees, at once begging forgiveness and trying desperately to crawl away…. But here I am now, standing, being who I am…

I’m in grief mode right now. The loss of family—-it’s primordial. It’s biological. We are born to love. It preexists our actual knowing our family. It is supposed to be that way for the parents, too, that they love the baby before the baby is known, whoever he or she will become, eager to know who he/she will be, to see him/her grow, to help him/him become who he/she IS.

The hardest part is probably losing my one-year old nephew. (I haven’t actually heard back from my brother yet but I have no reason to hold any hope.) I will never get to know him. I will never get to be in his life. I will never be able to give him the love I have in my heart. I’ll never get to enjoy anymore times together. I know they are planning to have another child and that chance will be lost too. I guess at least I did get to share some time with the little guy this past year and I’m happy that I did get that opportunity. I do know that you never know, that things may change one day, (so never say never) but if things ever do change, I don’t expect it anytime soon and I can’t hold onto that hope anyway.

I’m sad, but I’m okay… I will have my life. I will live the life I was meant to live. And that is good. I will be a whole, fully functioning adult, capable of feeling the full scope of human emotion. I will be happy. After all these years of depression, I will have true happiness. I know because I have already experienced it now and with every move forward that I make, it becomes more and more solid. You strike a match and hold close the warmth and the light of the flame. You do what you have to do to keep it alight.

My family is broken. I hope they heal. I don’t want them to break my nephew.

I can’t do anything now but live my life, put my heart out into the world, be who I am, write my books, and carry on.

Thank you, Darlene.
Much love, Alaina


Thank you for your welcoming and kind words, Wendy. Take care too xoxo


It started when I was a little girl. I would see small, very small little crevices around town and think them as possible places to escape to. Really though, with the exception of a few isolated incidents, I really had no concrete idea that I would pushed out to die. But as I got older, my subconscious childhood fears came true. When they could not find someone to adopt me at 14, just simply told me that they did not want me to come home one night (at 10 on a school night in the burbs from a mall where I had been eating pizza with friends). I don’t remember where I stayed that night. I moved back home at some point but my teenage years are in pieces in my mind and I can’t really put it all together it’s in pieces, but I remember the second time was around 16(?) and my father informed me of his generosity in giving me two weeks to get out. He would relish in telling me in a very serious tone “Don’t forget, you have to be out by (2 weeks). I am trying to make a point so bear with me, but please don’t read further if you don’t want to hear any examples of child abuse.
So one of those times as a kid when it was really bad (I was 6 or 7), I guess I did something(wrong) and my father started glaring at me in disgust. Days went by, and I would get all animated like a child seeking the attention of her parent would. I would speak, and he would look at me in disgust..for days or maybe weeks. Then one day at the dinner table with a half dozen other people I tried talking to him and he ignored me. Someone said “Victor, didnt you hear her she is talking to you?! He glared at me in disgust, paused, and then said “when she starts acting like a human being I will talk to her”. I remember the look of horror on people’s faces.
Fast forward to my early teens, and people would ask my parents how they slept at night not knowing where I was, and the responded with “we pretend she is dead”. I don’t think I have to say it but I will…I was a good kid.

So here I am, 42 years old, putting trying to make sense of this…but there is no sense in it. They were selfish, immature people who have never accepted responsibility for their family. What has changed, is that I had a little baby. When I did, there whole lie of what they made me out to be started to unravel. I knew I could never treat my child this way, and I without a doubt, was abused and abandoned. Funny how they tried for so many years to stop me from having a child…I guess deep down they knew they would be found out. I no longer take responsibility for their unhappiness, or truly what was not my responsibility as a child.

I know why I kept trying. It was a big Italian family, and if the parents rejected me, I woul be rejected by everyone. have been NC for about a year now, and I wish I had stopped talking to them sooner in life. It was inevitable–they would reject me. I have lost almost ever connection to my FOO and extended family. It was terrifying then, but it got to the point that being in contact with them was worse. What has changed, is that I know now that it is not my duty to keep going back.


Darlene, I read my original comment and it doesn’t sound right. It’s been a painful week, with a triggering, personal loss. I get a little confused with this, not because of what you’ve written, it’s my own confusion. Healing is basically, about changing me. I sure can’t do anything to change abusive people and I can’t change what was done to me, as a child. I know I had to change the way I thought of myself and others if I was ever going to stop allowing others to treat me abusively. However, it seems that there are some things about myself that it is okay to just accept. There are some things that I don’t think I can change. Being kept in bed so much as a kid, isolated from others, and often ‘medicated’ with alchohol, made me different from others. I didn’t learn important social cues and I’ve always had problems with how people read me. Being prayed upon sexually, as a teenager, and having my parents not only abandon me but literally, throw me to the wolves, is another major, shaping force that I don’t think I can fully, undo. I feel like I’m at this point where I can struggle forever, trying to be more like others, or I can accept myself. As long as I’m no longer being abused or abusing someone else, I think accepting my “emotonal limp” is okay. I’ll never be a social butterfly. I’ll never be a popular person or a great leader but that’s okay with me. I crave friendship and I’m at a lonely stage in my life where I’ve ended friendships where I wasn’t treated as equal but I haven’t formed new relationships but I don’t crave mass approval. I don’t know if this makes better sense than my first comment. I have a lot of really black anger about being abandoned by my parents and also, at the men who raped and exploited me. I have anger at the society that blames teenaged girls for the kind of things that happened to me. I’m angry about being kept silent for so long because of those stupid attitudes and how hard it is, even now, to talk about it and have anyone want to listen. That all got brought up to the surface this week and overwhelmed me. I don’t want to change myself for anyone, ever again. I tried so hard to change myself so, that my family would accept me after I survived the wolves they fed me to and then when I finally, understood what had really happened way back there and tried to talk about it, they just threw me away again. It’s dangerous to live to please others. I won’t do it ever again, on any level. Even if it means being a hermit.

I’m sorry for the dark sounding comment. I know these black feelings will pass but I also, know my resolve to not live trying to please others, won’t.



I hope you allow me back. If you don’t I understand. I am currently working with a life coach. My anger on here towards you and other’s was very unfair. I still come here and read the articles they have been so inspiring. I realized through working with my life coach that I’ve been in pain for much of my life and didn’t want to admit it. Denial is a bad place and thing’s in my life kept going from bad to worse, when finally, I had an argument with my father that was so vile I ended up in the ER with chest pains. I’ve known only how to cope with this abuse and disrespectful behavior, I thought it was always up to me to fix anything and everything with my family.


Hello Everyone,

I have been slowly coming out of the fog for several months now and in the process my Mother (whom I live with) and my sisters have done everything in their power to belittle, devalue, negate, control, and humiliate me. Not to mention the fact that I know they talk incessantly behind my back (I know the cycle so well….if they ain’t calling you, then you’re the one they’re stabbing in the back).

However, this time there is something different. This time there will be no going back for me. This time 2 or 3 weeks of no contact isn’t going to make me magically forget the things that were said to me. I went through a very awkward situation today and I think I did the right thing….but it was not easy.

Like I have said in previous posts, my sisters and Mother have been really using me as their whipping boy over the last few months, but at the same time, I’ve been sticking with reading on family dysfunction, keeping a journal and trying to change my belief that I am the problem.

Well, my Mother told me last night that my sisters were having a party today and inviting some of our cousins and aunts. I asked my Mom where they were having it and she said here (meaning where I live with my Mother). Now I know it took longer than 6 hours to plan this party, so they have known about it for a week or maybe longer than that. This is the typical behavior of my family. When they really know they crossed the line, they try and put the victim in a position where they have no choice but to hang out with them and act like nothing is wrong and all is forgotten.

Well I agonized about what I was going to do, because I damn sure was not playing that game again. So when the first person showed up for the party, which was the sister with whom I have the biggest issue….she was right away trying to be all nice with small talk and such. I barely acknowledged her and went down into the basement, which is my living area.

Everyone came and went from the party which lasted about 3 hours, but I did not go upstairs and participate, because I was not about to fall in their trap of acting like everything is ok, because it’s not o.k. I’ve been abused for these people for years and I will not take it any longer.

I did not go up stairs and not one person that was here even tried to approach me or even say hello to me. It kinda hurt, but it also kinda felt good, because I know I didin’t feed into their trap.

After everyone had left I went upstairs and made myself something to eat, and my Mother was small talking to me, again like nothing is wrong…She would never think to ask, “Why didn’t you come up to the party?” But no, again…act like it isn’t so and it isn’t.

It hurt to know that not one of my many sisters didn’t let me know about the party which of course made me feel like they didn’t want me there….but then I have to remind myself that is exactly how they wanted me to feel so I would come up and try and make amends with them. They all knew I was down in the basement. Not one hello, not one goodbye.

I felt extremely uncomfortable knowing they were probably talking badly about me only a few feet away from me, but I stuck it out. And I will continue to stick it out. I’m really starting to grasp the reality that more than likely I will have to cut all contact with my family, because they will never admit that they have done anything to harm me or that they need to apologize for anything.

So onward and upward…I don’t know when I’ll be able to leave my Mother’s house, but hopefully within a year….in the meantime….if they come around….they don’t have to see me. I have no problem with it.

Thanks Darlene. This article came on the perfect day for me.

Love and Blessings to All


Hi Anna

I also have Italian parents and grew up in a very Italian community. I knew exactly what you mean about being rejected by everyone. The Italians are big on taking sides, as to do otherwise would be disrespectful. Ain’t that twisted logic. 🙂

I have two nephews that I have not had an opportunity to bond it….however, I also recognise that in truth, I never would have had an opportunity anyway even if I was speaking to my brother. I was not part of his life. Never have been. I have always been used to do him favours, but never the other way round.

I know how much it hurts…..but knowing the truth really truly takes out the sting. Once I recognised the catch 22 situation I was in….it didn’t hurt as much.

That is: they did what they did because they didn’t care. There was nothing I could have done better to change the situation. It is what it is. I know it was not through trying or fault on my part. As I like to say to myself these days, the shame is their’s, not mine.


I remember when I was a teen, someone asked me what my greatest fear was. I replied that my greatest fear was that people I loved would stop loving me. I really didn’t know why I said that because at the time I wasn’t really aware of the magnitude of the dyfunctions in my family. I think that at some subconscious level I must have seen things that made me fear that losing love was a possibility.

When my Mom began trying to exert control over my marriage, turning other family members against me, and placing me into a position where I was forced to choose between my husband and them, I refuse to let it happen. I learned that I can survive my greatest fear.

However, I spent years longing for a Hallmark sort of family togetherness. I refused to let my family control my life, but I still felt like a cold, homeless, hungry waif, gazing longingly through a window at a loving family laughing together. This is why I emotionally embraced friends who became “parental substitutes,” who then turned out to be manipulators as well. Gradually I learned to accept that I will not ever have the loving family (or family substitutes) that is depicted in Hallmark cards. In accepting this a few years ago, the awful empty ache left me.

Another fear that I have struggled with is that if I shut the door against my maniputive family/friends, I was being exactly what they (and so many counseling friends) said I was: A petty, unforgiving, unloving, monstrous daughter (sister, friend) from Hell who was the worst Christian they had ever encountered, a betrayer who had rejected and abandoned them. When I logically considered my actions, I KNEW that this isn’t who I was or am, but emotionally I have struggled with it. If I refused to have anything to do with them, wasn’t I just like them? Only in continuing to accept this behavior, trying to “love” them unconditionally, could I prove to myself that I wasn’t like them. Only in 2010-2011 did I finally get so tired of the turmoil, pain, anger, condemnation, guilt, shame…they brought in to my life that I said “ENOUGH!” and refuse to endure more. I finally understood that it’s not that I wasn’t loving and forgiving and reconciling ENOUGH, but that they refused to accept it. If I could possibly be perfect, they still wouldn’t think it was enough. It’s all about power/control, not love and relationship. I am still in the process of emotionally accepting that I am not like them, I have not rejected them, but they rejected me, and that it’s impossible to have any sort of relationship with anyone who wants control rather than relationship.

So, yes, fear of rejection has definitely been there, but also fear of being what they accuse me of being.


It was my anger 3 years ago that led me on my journey out of abuse. I was told “you are
angry all the time”. And I was. Anger was always my defense and reaction to abuse and discounting. In many ways, my anger always made me feel strong and in control. In reality
it was a way to beat up on myself because it was not directed at those that were hurting me but at myself. My thinking is truely changing to not “whats wrong with me” to “what happened to me?”.
That surely is my biggest truth and discovery. THEY kept me thinking it was me. That I was bad,
defective, too emotional, crazy etc. I couldn’t break out of that because I always blamed myself for being bad, defective etc, never looking at the cause. There was a cause! If I look at Darlene’s statement : “Being disregarded as an equally valuable human being IS rejection,” I was rejected completely by my mother the day my brother was born. As a 6 year old I realized it. But I have lived my life (Im 58) trying to disprove their rejection and labels. Any speaking up on my part was seen as further proof of my craziness in wanting equal treatment. Talk about brainwashing.
My thinking has shifted to whats best for me and my own family.


When I drew a boundary with my brother, he also got mean and shamed and blamed me when
I have always been a loving and supportive sister. He always saw my devotion as his due. When
I spoke up and called him to account for his treatment, I became the evil one in the family abusing poor Mom. Ha! I see that I have only been useful and not loved for myself. I don’t need that kind of
relationship with my only sibling. I would rather have no relationship than to demean myself any longer. Sorry for the rant.


Hi Pam
I read both your comments. It is okay to be in those dark difficult places sometimes,that is just part of it. I had some of this kind of anger too, and for me it came later in the healing process. But I found that it was like another stepping stone to freedom ~ I had a right to be angry! Finally validating that anger was so important!
I would never suggest or advocate for anyone to change to please someone else. (Even abusers, when it sounds as if we are asking them to change to please us, if they are going to change, it can’t be to please us, it has to be because they realize they are abusive)
I send you love and hugs. I hate those dark weeks or days but they always lead me somewhere better. I hope this will be true for you too!
More hugs.. Darlene


Hi Wendy
Thank you for your comments! It is so simple, and yet one of the hardest truths that I have accepted on this entire journey. I guess that is what the expression “simple but not easy” means. 🙂
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Light
Anger is a good thing when we realize the injustice of how we have been regarded. And clarity IS frightening because it suggests that we need to make a decision if there is to be forward movement. And then the thought of the consequences of those decisions brings the fear back. It was so helpful for me when I thought things through about the fears. Were they real? were they true? Would I “die” if my family didn’t want to work things out with me? Examining those things brought more clarity.
Thanks for shairing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Caden
Yes. The belief that WE have to be the one to change is the result of the messages that we always got. Your post reminded me of a thought that popped into my mind when I realized that I feared the end with my family… I thought.. HEY, what’s to miss? And that was the reality of it too. I don’t miss the put downs, the stress, the ways that I was consantly reminded that I was insignignificant. ( this is the content of the blog post I am currently working on)
Thanks for sharing Caden!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Alaina
Gosh I can relate to the pain in your comments. I have been there too and there is no escaping it at those intense times and as you say, being capable of feeling the full range of human emotion is actually amazing, positive, awesome. I spent way too many years avoiding pain in my coping methods.
I still hope my family will heal. There is nothing wrong with having that hope. It has its roots in love. I want this healing and wholeness for my family, but I can’t give it to them. They have to want it too. Meanwhile, I am free and living a full and amazing life. I am happy for me! I love your comments Alaina. They are very deep and very true. They express what this is all about and the depth of difficulty. AND that having YOU and honouring yourslef, is worth so very much.
Love , Darlene


Hi Anna
I didn’t have a conscious idea either that rejection meant death, but I think we have a survival instinct that kicks in even as children. So as children we believe that only we can change. To think parents could change would not occour to a child.
Telling a child to ‘get out’ at the age of 14 is illegal. They could have been charged where I live. All the things that happened to you are really horrible. It is great to read that you don’t take any responsibility for their feelings anymore!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Cathy
I am glad that you are getting some help. Part of this whole problem that we are talking about on here is how at the root of everything we mistakenly were convinced that it was up to US to fix everything.

I will allow you back and thank you for acknowledging your past behaviour here was unfair. I look forward to your sharing in a respectful way. If you send abusive comments again they will be blocked.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Connie
Oh I understand this ‘manipulation’ so well. One thing I really noticed in my own life when I first drew the boundaries is that the people I drew them with would change tactics. It is great to hear that you didn’t engage in any of that.
Hugs, Darlene

YES ~ the shame is theirs, not yours/mine! Awesome!
hugs, Darlene


That fear of being exactly like them is a biggie and for me it came up a lot. I found that examining the motives helped me out of it every time. I looked at what was my motive, what was their motive. Was my motive for control, to ‘get back at them” or was it for love? Was my motive for bettering the relationships, for equal value, respect, even if it was that I wanted them to respect me. I looked at the definition of respect. Is it one sided? (No) and when I looked at their motives, I didn’t see the way that they regarded me as coming from love. It was all about control. SO… that is how I deal with the question, “am I just like them if…. ”
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


As a child I was ignored by teachers and neighbors, even though I was neglected in so many ways. The thought of being ignored and pushed outside the circle frightens and as an adult I do a lot to stay safely within circles of acceptance. I want to feel safe on my own terms. How can I make that shift?


Hi Karen
Really great comments to Caden and Light. Some great highlights in those! That your brother sees your devotion as his “due” that is a biggie in these dysfunctional family situations with MANY family members.
And any kind of sticking up for you was used as proof that you were “crazy” ~ exactly! Another very common tactic used against.
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kate
I made that shift be seeing the ‘truth’ about the relationships that I was in. There is TONS of info in this site about “how” I did that.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene, I already feel somewhat better just by having been able to express it. It amazes me how my mind has bent all around my parent’s abandonment, without really facing it head-on. I found myself engulfed by that reality this week. Sometimes, I get mad at myself for not seeing things sooner but in this case, there was no way I could have handled the complete knowledge of that total rejection, disregard, and evil heartlessness, on the part of my parents, until now. That is more damaging than the actual sexual abuse. For a child, that kind of severing is like being cut off from the life source. It is an ultimate betrayal.

Thank you for your support, Darlene. I don’t know where you find the strength to do all that you do.



tj, I accepted all those wrong definitions of myself too. I lived trying to be what my family and other people who had the same type of personality, seemed to want me to be. What they really wanted though, was someone they could caste shame and blame on, so they didn’t have to face themselves.

I’m reading a book called, “The Shack”. It’s about what human relationships mostly are and what they should be like. It depicts healthy relationships as being about mutual submission, in a bond of love and equality. I know I’m at the place where I need and want to develop new relationships and I will look for people who treat me as equal, give as well as take, don’t expect me to take care of all their needs, don’t require some sort of hierarchy in the relationship, and see me and love me for who I am and not because of what role I might serve them in. I know finding such relationships won’t be easy but the process and the waiting will make them even more valuable and worthwhile. I’m so done with people who want to rule my life or such the life out of me.



I am totally transformed and believe that my strength comes from God. But remember I went through the major part of my process over 4 years ago now. And I started it about 8 years ago. This work is my passion, my calling, my purpose. I want the whole world to know that healing and wholeness is possible! The more I take care of me, learn to value me, validate me and love me, the more energy that I have for my family and then for this work. It is amazing how much I can do because I am free of the burdens that were placed on me since I was a very young child.
Hugs, Darlene


The book “the shack” had a profound effect on my life! I LOVE that book.
Hugs, Darlene


Connie, My family is all tactics and no substance, too. Everything is about maintaining denial and silence about their true nature and hurtful behavior. The good thing about those tactics is that when I stopped trying to reach through them, in an effort to have real dialog and a real relationship, I knew exactly, how to turn their tactics around and use them to protect myself. By doing that, I also, learned how little they really do care about me and how shallow and selfish they are. I too, came to a point where I couldn’t participate, I could no longer be an actor in their play. It’s good not to be under that deception anymore even though, there are still times when their lack of regard for me as their child and sister, overwhelms and angers me. At least now, I’m at a safe distance and I’m only, temporarily, overwhelmed by a memory and the loss and not suffering more damage.



I have gone through this exact same thing, and I’m still going through it now. I cut my mother out of my life completely once I realized a year ago how much she hates me and does not in any way love me. It hurt so badly but once I accepted it I was also able to accept the fact that I had already been rejected by her since I was born. My father left when I was very young, we reunited 10 years later, only for me to be rejected by him again in a very passive aggressive way that left me rejecting him, and I’ve felt guilty over it ever since until recently when I started to see the truth and how my guilt was from constantly blaming myself for my parents actions and feelings. The last thing I told my brother was to not contact me when he’s drunk, I knew deep down that any sort of real boundary I drew with anyone in my family was certain death of a (toxic) relationship, and of course I never heard from him again. Since then it has been easier for me to accept just how absolutely abusive my brother was to me my entire life. I never wanted to see that my own brother could be so horrible to me, I always wanted to have a brother that would understand me and be there for me, especially since he experienced a lot of the abuse and neglect along with me. My mother always favored him though, so I know that it is a lot easier for him to stick with her – and they are alcoholics together.

Another struggle for me is trying to discern the relationships I have outside of my family and how I have the tendency to choose friends who are similar to them. I have noticed that I seem to choose friends who do not respect me or look down on me. I am stuck between thinking that they are actually disrespectful or if I am just projecting my insecurities onto them. There have certainly been a few friends who I was able to trust myself in knowing that they were not good for me in my life, and there are still others that I just can’t discern. I don’t know how that relates to this topic but it feels like it does.


Karen Ranes and Darlene,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me. For me, I DID direct my anger toward my father and mother, in the form of long estrangements mixed in with verbal outbursts. When I lived with them just ten years ago (after a surgery – for two years – terrible recovery and in so much physical pain)the outbursts were pretty frequent even though I was very grateful they let me stay there. My siblings and their spouses were mad at me, and I definitely ranged from feeling angry to guilty about my blowups. There were so many triggers: my father was up to his shenanigans, my mother was mad at me because I confronted my father, there was the standard not-being-able-to-emotionally-connect to my mother due to distancing and alcohol, and triggers just by being in the home – the rooms, the memories.

I am having a hard time not taking the blame, because I WAS disrespectful and yelling. And other family members are golden, because they ignore or are in denial, don’t yell, keep a calm voice while saying cutting things to me, and some use PA behaviors to let me know they don’t like me or support me.


Light, I was always the “angry” one my entire life because I for some reason always stood up and declared the abuse as a child and adult. I didn’t fully understand the abuse the way I do now, so I got very angry and had outbursts that they would constantly use against me. As I got older and calmer, I noticed that no matter how even-tempered I was, they still labeled me “angry”, and they would try to elicit anger out of me by deliberately attacking me in very passive-aggressive ways. It’s maddening, both literally and figuratively. Fortunately as I got older and continued to work on my own self-awareness (mainly because I blamed myself for everything so I was always trying to change my behavior), the more I could see that I really wasn’t the problem. My family tried to use the same mind-fuck tactics that worked on me when I was younger but they didn’t work anymore. I was able to see how utterly ignorant and backwards and illogical some of the shit they tried to pull on me was, and that further helped me understand and realize that I really wasn’t the “angry since birth” person they wanted me to be, but I was damn pissed and I had every right to be. Ever since I started to validate my own anger (and in therapy), the less angry I have become, or at least my anger feels healthy now instead of hating myself for it, and I am able to place the anger where it belongs. I am still very angry and I still have a lot of work to do on it, but at least I can see that I have a really good reason to be angry instead of being caught up in a twisted cycle self-blame and self-loathing.


Everyone, My anger was the main way my family made me responsible for all of our problems. In any confrontation, my buttons were pushed, to make me blow up and therefore, the obvious culprit. When I learned to use my anger to benefit me and not them, things changed in my life.



Hi Alice
Yes, everything you share in your comment relates to this topic! I also noticed a huge pattern of being more comfortalbe with people who were ‘like my family’ and only had a few friends over my lifetime (before) who treated me with the same value that I treated them with. That too straightened out and I became more confident in my evaulations of my friendships in the process of healing.
Hugs, Darlene


It was helpful for me to realize where my frustrations came from in the first place. Not that I am advising non accountabliity but the root cause helped me so much in seeing the whole truth. (and I am not saying that my mothers frustrations from her own childhood were an excuse for her venting on me, perhaps she could have reacted to HER mother and took it out on her, the real source of her pain, but that when it came to my parents, I was the child and my outbursts were out of frustration of knowing that for whatever reason I was and never would be “good enough” for them to accept. This is a huge subject that it hard to deal with in a paragraph but there is a ton of info about this throughout this site.
Hugs, Darlene

Yes Pam,
There is a name for that. It’s called entrapment. Some people call it ‘being framed’. It is so common to set one person up to ‘prove’ that they are the problem and have been all along. (and just because they use their proof, doens’t make it true; that was something that really helped me to reject their ways of defining me.)
Hugs, Darlene


Hello Pam,
I get angry about my family and the treatment.It is two weeks since I blew my top and walked out of my mothers care home after being told by her that father was ill(just a cold)and had the doctor who he told that I wouldnt do anything to help and not to contact me.Such a dam lie.Yet she has always told people that I am a liar and not to be trusted.I have been angry for years thinking everybody doubts my word really believing that I am no good yet trying to win approval.Today to take my mind off things I got the lawn mower out and spent 2 hours cutting grass.Activity does some good towards releasing the stress!!! Of course easier said than done.
That sentence of Darlenes BEING DISREGARDED IS REJECTION should be put on bill boards so simple so true.xx


This community is really wonderful. Thank you all! I see stories and effects of abuse that are so similar to mine that I can verify that the abuse is real and it’s not just me. In seeing your abuse, I see my own. I am not alone.

One thing that I have also been afraid of is passing dysfunction on to my son. I have fought hard to overcome the abuse/dysfunction of my family, to never manipulate, to never twist the truth, to say I’m sorry when I know I was wrong. However, I recognize that the abuse has affected me, that I there were lies I believed until I didn’t, boundaries I struggled to learn how to set, and so on.

My son is in his late teens now, and understands the situation with my family. I have told him how hard I have fought to overcome abuse, that we have been successful in overcoming a lot of it. However, there is undoubtably dysfunctions that I (and my husband) was not successful in overcoming yet, and have passed on to him. We tell him we are healthier than our parents, and it is our hope and prayer that he will fight to become healthier than we are. I am proud of him and relieved when I see him firmly and calmly setting healthy boundaries, etc.


You just totally validated my feelings. Thank you!


Darlene, That is such a good word. Thank you for that. I think I felt confused by their behavior for so long, that even though I have a lot of words, I have trouble labeling the behavior. Really, I’m not sure why I have so much trouble with that but it is amazing when I have a word to cover it all. Entrapment works on so many levels…



My nine year old son is better able teach me lessons about healthy relationships than any of siblings, parents and in-laws. Last year, my son struggled dealing with a class bully. I spoke to his teacher at the time, and I also spent time chatting with Jack on how to deal with the situation as well as checking in to see how he was doing.

A new school year has just recently resumed here in Australia and I was doing my usual of checking in with Jack to see how he was settling in. Jack told me that last year’s class bully was trying to be his friend. Jack told me he wasn’t buying in because he no longer trusted him. I asked Jack if he was willing to give him a chance. Jack responded “No. He does not act respectful in class and so I do not believe him”.

Jack could see through the antics of the class bully and he wasn’t afraid of him anymore. The bully had lost his power by Jack setting his boundaries and refusing to accept anything less.


Ginger, that is so awesome!


No family is perfect.
We can choose only our own behaviour and not the behaviour of others.
The bible says to ‘love others as you love yourself.’ I think this means to treat others as you want to be treated but also not to allow people to treat you as you wouldn’t want them to treat your sister or mother or anyone dear to you. I was in a relationship once and it was only when I thought about how I would feel if this guy was treating my future daughter this way that I realized what a jerk he was being.


Ginger, And his mom didn’t tell him that he should be ‘nice’ and give the bully another chance anyway. Good job, keeping up with your child’s problem and validating his wise decision.:0)



Thank you for this website and the stories. They have inspired me and given me hope. I am estranged from my mother, sister and extended family. I discovered this when my aunt called to say my father had died of a heart attack in his sleep. My mother blamed me, and told everyone my father didn’t want me to know. We were supposed to have been visiting them, but I had a very bad conversation with my father a few months before. Lots of complicated dynamics and dysfunction, as we had gone back and forth speaking/ not speaking for decades. My Dad was the only one I kept trying with- for the sake of my son. I am grieving not only the loss of my father, but the jealousy and hatred that was finally exposed with his death.
Your words here give me perspective, and it helps as I heal. Thank you.


Yes, thank you Darlene for this website, and to everyone for your heartfelt stories and comments. Darlene, you are doing so much good, and you have a gift of being able to so easily articulate difficult feelings and dynamics.

A lot of what is described (from everyone) are dynamics that I was vaguely aware of in my own FOO, but couldn’t quite put my finger on what was happening. I’m glad that I am finally posting here.


“But as I began to see the truth about that fear a deeper truth emerged; the deeper truth is that I was afraid of something that had already happened. Being disregarded as an equally valuable human being IS rejection. It was through finally understanding that truth, that I was able to see things more clearly and draw self-supporting and self-valuing boundaries.”

Darlene – wow, you really understand. This is the truth for me. But I’m still terrified. Both my parents reject the ‘real me’ but refuse to respect my boundaries. They call, they visit, they give gifts. It’s so painful. We all pretend that everything’s okay. Everyone outside the family thinks my parents are perfect. It’s so humiliating and isolating when people come up and say, “Your mother is just the best mother. She’s so perfect. You must be so thrilled to have a mother like that.”

I just smile and nod. What can I do? My Mom is a charming, popular, sweet lady to the faces of others. I see the manipulation, but most people are blind to her cruel underhanded ways. They take her at face value.

Very few people understand the trauma. Only two people believe me… My husband and my counsellor.

I’m so sad. And still so scared of her and my dad. They’ve already rejected me. True. But it could get worse. They could attack more, spread lies, start a war. I don’t want to fight. I just want to hide. I just want the freedom to be myself without being ashamed. Sad, sad, sadness is heavy tonight.

Thank you for this blog!!! Thank you so much!!!


Hello, We all believe you. You will get so much help from these readings. Of course it wont just wipe out all the sadness and your memories will stay forever but by reading and replying to comments it will help. It took me ages to pluck up courage to reply on this site when I first joined at Christmas because most people explain things better than me using better words. But I think I am understood. So hey ho get replying it will lift those sad feelings . xxx


Thank you Darlene for this helpful post.

This also applies to marriages. I have been in a shock to find out my husband has been cheating me in most horrible ways. My first reaction was: this can’t be true, it can’t be him, maybe it is a mistake?

I was trying to defend him in my thoughts, out of fear of losing him and our marriage, losing his love. But realizing that if all those things were true (and they were), he has actually never loved me because he was capable of such betrayal. Why should I hang in between, hoping for him to change and trying to change myself to please him, when he does not consider me having equal value, but more like a floor rug to swipe his feet. I feared his rejection so badly.

But all this while he had already rejected me through those other women. I now have to set my own boundaries, respect myself, and walk out. I cannot stay in a relationship based on disrespect, emotional abuse and unequal value.


Oh boy was I a raging screamer with horrible emotional outbursts. Rage. Anger. I smashed and
broke all my things for years. Not things belonging to anyone else, just mine. I feel horrible for
that behavior. Now however I see what caused it. It did not spring from my disrespect. It did not come from wanting to hurt someone else. It was my way to cope and vent my terrible feelings of hurt. Hurt caused by never being allowed to express myself in a healthy way, never being told I was loved, the exact opposite. It was NOT because I was a Bad person as I was always told and believed for how could I not believe it as it seemed a reasonable explanation. All that screaming rage was
because of abuse. I was taught to NEVER speak up to abuse or bullying and all that anger could not be held within so out it came. Now I see that it was my spirit fighting to express but I did not know how because I was never taught anything but that I was a bad person. Maybe your anger was your spirit trying to express and fight for itself.
Wow. Maybe I had to be of an age to heal too. Maybe I was not ready or in the right place in my life for healing to come to me. Maybe I wasn’t stupid not to see the abuse sooner. Look at me
saying I wasn’t stupid..ha that’s a definate change for the better.


Ginger you did great! Your son sounds awesome!! When I was bullied in school my mother wrung her hands and said I’m sorry.
She taught me to hunker down when bullied because if you speak up it only gets worse. Never
confront, never protest, just accept. Literally bow your head and hunker into yourself. She modeled victimhood and also taught it verbally to me.
I affected that behavior all my life when inside I was angry and screaming.


I think that right now my greatest struggles and pain are with my son. I hesitate to write about it because no matter how hard I try, I think I will describe it wrong.

My son is almost 18 years old. I had a very difficult pregnancy with him. We both almost died when he was born. My husband and I prayed for him and love him deeply. My son is very intelligent, very witty, and has a very compassionate heart. I have seen him act with patience and compassion toward younger children and those with disabilities. I am so glad that he is able to calmly set healthy boundaries with others. There are many, many good things about him.

However, he has always been very, very strong-willed. He wants to be in charge, and he resists anything he doesn’t agree with or isn’t interested in. The first time he was to take over the chore of mowing the lawn when he was about 9 years old, I took him outside and told him, “I will teach you how to mow the lawn.” He replied, “No, I will tell (((you))) how (((I))) will mow the lawn” and we have battled with the lawn for years. Sometimes he treats me like an idiot. The other day I asked him to write down our wireless router login information for me because sometimes it blocks my internet access and I need to change the setting. He refused, saying I would just mess it up, as if I was too stupid to figure it out. He wants me to come to him each time I had a problem “with technology.” I insisted because I refuse to become an old woman who needs help programming the simplest things, and I am not stupid. I graduated with honors from high school and college. I homeschooled our son; he wrote utterly awful sentences despite my best attempts to teach him to write. I love writing and could have taught him. I tried everything: giving him a topic to writing about, letting him choose the topic that interested him, letting him choose from a list of topics I knew interested him…everything. It didn’t matter. Then one day he declared “I am going to write a book.” And sat down and began writing with wonderful insight and depth. He then contacted our local newspaper and wrote a weekly column for awhile. I have always told him that he needs to be ready for school by 9 a.m. Otherwise, time gets away from us, and school doesn’t get done. This year, my son’s senior year, he stays up very late, sleeps very late, and school isn’t getting done. I do not care if he works independently as long as he proves to me that he is doing the work. I have told him that I will not give him a diploma if he isn’t doing his schoolwork. He must either do the schoolwork or pursue a diploma or GED on his own. It’s his choice. I’ve told him that if he isn’t pursuing his education after this year, he must find a job.

The greatest problem is that when he gets mad, my son gets insulting. I have always told him that I will listen to him if he needs to talk, I will support and help him all I can, I will comfort him if he needs comfort, I will give him advice if he needs it, but I will not tolerate being insulted or treated with contempt. If he gets insulting, I first tell him to stop or back off, and if he doesn’t stop, he gets sent to his room until he can cool off, and only then will we sit down talk the problem out. Usually he does cool off in his room, we talk, and we hug. However, there are times, especially now when he is an older teen, that he refuses to separate, and he follows me around insulting me until I order him to either go to his room or go for a walk until he can talk without insults. The one time I left the situation so we could cool down, he tried to order me to go to my room the next time we had a conflict. This feels like, once again in my life, a battle for power and control.

At this age, and in many areas of his life, if my son wants my advice, I will give it, and he can choose to take it or not. But I struggle when he asks for my advice but gets angry if I give it, or doesn’t want my advice but gets angry if I am silent. I find that if I let him make choices without interference, he accuses me of being uncaring and negligent, but if I try to help him, he says I am controlling and treating him like a child. In his opinion, I am either over-reacting or not responding enough. I give him too much freedom or not enough. If I let him make a decision and it doesn’t turn out the way he wants, it’s because I didn’t guide him. He thinks I am overly critical if I correct him and I nag him if I remind him to get a task done. However, if he forgets to get something done, it’s because I didn’t remind him. If we tell him not to do something and he does it anyway and gets hurt, then we didn’t protect him well enough. If I try to set boundaries, I am “randomly punishing him without warning” even I have always told him of the consequences beforehand. If I remind him of consequences, it’s “Yeah, yeah, you already told me.” Everything is always my (our) fault. I have told him that at this point, if he can’t stop insulting us when he gets angry then his choices are to find a job and get out on his own where he can make his own decisions and be responsible for himself. Then he accuses me of not loving him and of wanting to throw him out. I have asked him, “What, exactly, do you want? Do you want more independence or less?” He says, “I don’t know, Mom. I don’t know.” If he doesn’t know, how am I to know? I just know that I can’t do or be two opposite things at the same time.

I do not think I am an unreasonable Mom. I try to set reasonable boundaries. I expect his few chores to be done well every day without complaint. I do not manipulate or lie to him. I am willing to acknowledge when I am wrong and to apologize. I explain to him why I do what I do. I compliment him for his efforts or improvement. But my son makes me feel as if everything I do is wrong. I am controlling or I am negligent. I am over-reacting or not responding enough. I give him too much freedom or not enough. If I let him make a decision and it doesn’t turn out the way he wants, it’s because I didn’t guide him. It’s all my fault.

At this point, I am so confused and worn and broken down. I feel in an intolerable situation of either allowing myself to be insulted and treated as stupid and worthless, standing up to my son and having exhausting battles, or telling him he must leave if he can’t treat us with respect and consideration. All choices are intolerable to me and break my heart. I find myself feeling incredibly indecisive and uncertain. I no longer know if I a good parent or bad one, too permissive or too controlling, too involved or not involved enough, too critical or just trying to set boundaries. I feel like an utter failure. I have fought so long and hard to overcome the abusive in my life and to live as if I have value. To struggle with my son in such a way is more than I can bear. Honestly, I feel as if I am disintegrating. I feel depressed and tired and sad. I wake up in the morning asking God to help me get out of bed. I hate myself for not being enough, for not knowing what to do, for accepting abuse, for confrontations with the son I love.

I hesitate to even write of this, because I do need more blame, or accusations. When I’ve tried to talk to friends about my struggles with my son, again I am blamed. They have all the magical answers and it’s all my fault.

My fear? That I will never escape abuse. That I will lose my identity again. That I will be like my Mom. That my son will despise me. I worry he will grow up to be like my family. I worry that maybe I really am the monster my abusers accuse me of being.

I am so tired.


“But as I began to see the truth about that fear a deeper truth emerged; the deeper truth is that I was afraid of something that had already happened. Being disregarded as an equally valuable human being IS rejection. It was through finally understanding that truth, that I was able to see things more ”

I agree with Healing Slowly that this quote is a helpful one.

I want to apologize in advance, this is very long. However, it is really affecting my health, and I want to take care of myself by addressing it. I am just starting to respect myself to deal with what is bothering me. Obviously, I still feel a bit bad about it, but I realize I matter! Yay!

Right now as i look back on my life, I realize that I am dealing with an ARMFUL of abusers and the damages they’ve left on my psyche. Currently I am trying to figure out how to ‘confront’ a therapist who rejected me literally before I walked through the door. She was so like my father in so many ways, that the entire session retraumatized me in such a severe way that I almost died of an overdose/hospitalization/variety of self harm/avoiding the town she practiced in, as a result of simply seeing her in passing after the session, and just last week had a couple nightmares about her. The nightmares were an indication, something needed to be done.
What is so crazy is that I met with this woman for a total of two hours, over a year ago!
When I first met with her, I told her I was almost late and almost missed the train so I didn’t have time to eat breakfast or take my medication.
She said, “Well, obviously someone who doesn’t eat breakfast doesn’t want to work on their anxiety, and I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work on their anxiety.” She didn’t even look at me as she said this. It was so cruel. And not true. I skipped breakfast once, because of the time, and what does that have to do with motivation for anxiety. Doesn’t medication have more to do with that? Don’t a lot of people skip breakfast anyways? I thought she wasn’t listening, but after reading a certain article last week about having to ‘jump through hoops’ I realize how intentional it was, how much about power it was.
The session continued as I jumped through a series of hoops to ‘prove my worth’ by admitting to things she accussed me of that weren’t true, accepting that she denied what I had actually experienced/the truth wasn’t true, accepting her standing up and yelling at me, “I’m a doctor!”, bragging, laughing at me when I got angry back (yes, just sitting there laughing from pleasure- sick). She bombarded me with personal questions that I found offensive, but I answered every one. When I asked a few she said it was “Disrespectful to ask so many questions” though she was the one who wouldn’t let me talk! And then I apologized- for her abuse! She ‘accepted’ my apology with a sneer- ugh! So I had to apologize for her abuse. It was ok for her to ask questions, but when I did it was ‘disrespectful’? I remember wondering for months afterward if I could ask someone a question or feel guilty- then I realized ALL dialogue involves questions. What a nightmare.
I have lost so many nights of sleep and had so many panic attacks due to this woman- but when the nightmares started I thought- now she’s even bothering me in my sleep!
I called her recently to sort it out, and realized after the call, I was conceding to her treatment again! It felt like re abuse, “This isn’t about who is right or wrong, I just want to understand…” Hah! She was wrong! And I do understand!
Now I have to stand up for myself- I just don’t know how to do so in a way that is satisfying, confidence building, and doesn’t dig me in a deeper hole, or allow me to sink to her level.
I realized I was done apologizing and that at times, abuse is abuse, there aren’t two sides to that.
So I called back and told her at the advice of my therapist, “I want to express how I felt about our session. I’m not really interested in figuring you out.” She called back, and did not leave a message this time. My guess is she wants to make me wait- or get me to get angry again. It’s turning into a game, and I sense that she feels angry that I am not interested in kissing up.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this?
I have tried getting out my physical anger, I have tried writing a letter that said, “I felt disrespected” with a check (oh yeah, she said I didn’t have to pay, then billed me- then when I sent the check, refused to cash it). I have tried talking it out, and I agree with much of what is said here- ‘trying to understand’ only makes it worse- personally I find it weakens me.
I have tried calling.

I emailed a friend last night about this and was told this: “I possibly personally think there would be little point in talking to your old therapist beyond leaving a nice scathing voicemail, ending with “and never contact me again!” Get closure on your terms and dont let her say anything back — why would you care what this abusive individual would say back anyway? — youre not there for resolution, just to get closure for yourself.

I think that might work- but am terrified it won’t . I recently wrote a letter to a family member who sided with my abusive parents, and an angry email to one of the providers who seemingly had ‘no opinion’ despite the fact that as my friend say, “You almost died”. These things made me feel better. But in the case of actual abusers, I had to talk to my parents to feel better- I had to actually confront them, then go NC. If they had no idea how I felt, I would have felt powerless.

It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Igby Goes Down, where the main character says about his abusive mother, “Knowing that she’s going to die without me ever having told her to @#$! off is pretty #$@!ing infuriating!” That is how I feel.

Everyone says not to meet- but I need closure, and avoiding makes it worse. I’ve been doing it over a year now. I guess I keep fearing maybe she’ll pick up the phone mid-message, maybe I won’t feel like I’ve stood up enough (like she’s still laughing at me), like after I wrote the letter, and want to do more, maybe she’ll write me a letter or call back- like with the billing. This woman knows every trick.

The woman has no boundaries and seems to thrive on this kind of victimization.
If anyone has had any experiences like this, and found a solution, I’d be so grateful to hear!



TJ, I had struggles with my kids too and their were things I had to work on, understand, and take responsibility for. My kids have had to do the same. It helped me to avoid blame period especially, since my accepting so much blame was the root of much of the dysfunction I created with my kids. None of it is about blame because it’s easy to get stuck in blame and not move forward. What was important for me was finding the truth and then applying it. Often, it is simply changing the way I related and responded to my children. It started with healing me and the rest flows from there. I didn’t create a perfect family and I didn’t raise perfect children but we have a lot of love and we seek truth. It does make a difference.



GDW – I totally get what you’re saying. It’s terrifying trying to escape someone who’s in your own nightmares. She’s taken over your mind, your body, your life! The same thing happens with my Mom. It’s more than talking to the ACTUAL person that triggers me. I hear her VOICE in my mind repeating hurtful things over and over. Yes, it can go on for days, months, years. Sad. So how can we escape our own thoughts???

I agree with your friend… “Get closure on your terms and don;t let her say anything back — why would you care what this abusive individual would say back anyway? — youre not there for resolution, just to get closure for yourself.”

However, this is easier said than done. In my opinion, the most important fact is that… you need support. You will NEVER get support from an abuser. NEVER! So where can you get support?

1. Only talk to trustworthy people about these issues (Be wary!)

2. Support your own thoughts and feelings! (Abusers are so powerful because they make us mistrust ourselves. We must be wrong.)

3. Remind yourself that you’re an adult now! (We often feel like helpless children because we go back to that yucky place when were were small. We have POWER as adults. We can GET AWAY from hurtful people. We can ESCAPE! We can stand up for ourselves!)

4. The biggest part (that I struggle with) is fear of AUTHORITY figures. This counsellor is an authority, so you are mistrusting your own instincts. (She must know more than me because she’s trained to help people. Clients PAY her to help, so she must be right. I must be wrong). Just because someone’s in charge, it doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

Hope that helps. We’ve been brainwashed to look at things from everyone else’s perspective. While this is a valuable skill at times, it is destructive when trying to “think from the abuser’s perspective.” There’s no point. They make no sense. It’s not about us. It’s not logical. There’s nothing we can learn from their comments. We must STOP looking for truth where truth doesn’t exist.

Healing Slowly


Pam, re: comment 28. I recommend reading “Bo’s Cafe” when you’re done with the Shack…it’s sort of a companion book exploring similar concepts of a community of grace.



Wow this this so on topic. Thanks for great article! I was triggered in a good way by one of the older articles about reasons we do not leave abusers. What stood out is that they brainwash us that we can not live withou them and need them.
I realized this is why I maintain my toxic relationships with men. And pronto broke up with my now xbf. I finally realized I do not need them in my life.
I then went into exploring the toxic threads of the relationships and have been instensly exploring the rejection setup abusers do. We cant live without them, but look out cuz u will be dead on the street over some small thing. I maybe became so sensitized to possibility of rejection I can’t think straight when such threat arizes now.
It certainly was constant stress of being told to go away, which felt awful, felt like I was worthless, that rejection made me into a nothing. Then there was the rejection of.. if u dont like it, leave.. oh I guess u r too stupid at 11 to have a job so good luck out there. It is literally death.
I have no established my sense of safety yet. I am still in their rejection setup. I am all alone and surviving without a family is very hard.
But back to dumping my boyfriend. I cried so deeply on saturday.. because I realized I couldnt break it off with him because I couldnt stomach how he will just walk away from me like nothing ever happened, he will do exatly what my father has done to me, u dont wanna talk and be kissing my butt then c ya.. i aint calling you. Its so incomprehensably painful to know my father will just walk away like our relationship is nothing, while telling me i love you, while being my dad, its too painful to face. And I repeat this this men over and over now.
And the thing is, its like what you say, I am already rejected. I am already rejected.. Its sad, i dont want to be the rejected victim. On the other hand sitting here feeling rejected is ok because I know I am still aliive while rejected. Its not some unafathomable future rejection monster my parents love to give ot me.
I think my mind has warped this rejection into a future circumstance to avoid this very truth that I am already rejected. It has already happened and it is happening now.


GDW: I have met with a few therapists and my general view is that there are a few good ones, many mediocre ones, and many bad ones too. I have learned more and more to trust my own instincts. When I looked for one recently, I put a lot more emphasis on the initial 10-15 min phone call to see what I think. I listened to every single word/comment/sound/tone/warmth, and if something seems off – even the tiniest thing – I don’t pursue it. Recently during one of these calls a therapist actually criticized me for being indecisive about what I wanted to do re: an appt., then said she’d have someone call me, then they never did. She was obviously ticked off about something, and she was recommended to me! Another therapist sounded OK, but when I responded to one question I could hear her very quietly scoff. Gone!

In the past I learned the hard way when I overrode these interactions and went anyway, the sessions didn’t work out and the problem came up again.

I’ve had good therapists too, and I with them I felt comfortable right away, even during the phone call before I ever met them. I do think it can take some searching, and definitely it isn’t you if the fit doesn’t work out.

Your situation sounds like more than “fit” though. She sounds awful and very hurtful. It’s not your fault. I hope that you can forgive yourself for initially accepting her abuse. Many of us have been trained to take it in and not have a voice – I know I have. Can you think of it as her problem – her awful behavior – and unfortunately you didn’t respond as you had hoped but oh well, you’re human! You’re learning. She has to live with herself. She’s the abusive one here. You can let yourself off the hook.

If it helps to leave a scathing voice mail, or send a scathing letter, or have that phone call, perhaps that would do it? I’m not sure what you mean about she returned your call but didn’t leave a message?

I would not pay her, since she said you did not have to. Perhaps document what she says and when re: what she says about billing if a dispute ever comes up.

I liked Healing Slowly’s suggestions. Also, I suppose you could file a complaint to her boss, or to the state office who oversees her field?

It sounds like you have a therapist helping you with this, that’s good.


Karen Ranes and others: Thanks to all of you who relayed your stories of anger. It has helped me very much to be talking about this and think about how anger and rage fits into the healing process. Somehow I need to learn how to forgive myself and to strive to be a better person with more constructive ways of coping.


Hi Natalie
Great to have you here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Ginger!
Great story about your son! I have a daughter very much like that too! Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Jellybean
Amazing how when we look at things in that way, or in any new way, we see it differently!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Shawn
I can relate to realizing the many things to grieve over. I am sorry for your loss and that you got blamed for it. WOW. That is horrible. I am glad that you are here,
Hugs Darlene

Hi Healing Slowly
It is scary, but when I showed that I was not going to sit and take it anymore, they didn’t do worse. I think they either got scared of me, or they couldn’t be bothered me, (which used to hurt but doesn’t anymore) I know they spread lies, but that is about them. They have to cover their butts. That is more important than having a relationship with me.
Hang in there!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Maria!
YES, this applies to ALL relationships where one person feels and expresses disrespect or places themself ‘above’ or more entitled than the other. As you say, the truth speaks volumes about the way people really feel about us. OUCH.
Thanks for sharing! Hang in there, I know this is very difficult!
Hugs, Darlene


My husband, son, and I talked this morning. I was able to describe to my son the abuse I’ve endured and the effects of it. He knows the family history, and some of the affects, but doesn’t comprehend what it has done to me. I told him that I refuse to be a victim, I refuse to use the abuse as an excuse for wrong behavior, but it HAS damaged me. I am fighting toward becoming a survivor, an overcomer. I have fought hard, and I have learned, and grown, and strengthened. However, I am in a time of emotional exhaustion right now, and dealing with a sort of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I recognize that I am sometimes over-reacting, and I am sorry for it. Right now I need everyone’s help, and the best way to help is to understand that although we won’t always agree with each other, and although we will have bad days, we must not tolerate any sort of disrespect or insulting of each other.

I told my son his many strengths, and the ways in which we are proud of him. I’m glad he can set boundaries and defend himself. I’m glad he is strong rather than compliant like I was. He just needs to use his strengths carefully. I told him that whenever there are two people, there will be conflicting needs and desires. Healthy people will engage in mutual give and take and compromise. They may sometimes fail and cross boundaries, but it’s temporary. Most generally they will know to enforce their own boundaries and respect other’s boundaries. Abusers will take what they want no matter how it damages others, and not acknowledge or respect others’ boundaries. People who have been abused will struggle to set boundaries, thinking they have to do all the giving and sacrificing.

I told my son that while his father and I will give him our opinions and advice, we don’t expect him to live his life to please us. He doesn’t have to always like what we do, or agree with us, and we don’t have to always agree with what he does. However, he must help out while he lives at home—we all have chores and tasks we must do. And we must always respect each other, and respect each other’s boundaries, and not insult each other…and to repent and forgive when we fail. Our goal is to help him become an independent adult, and we will do what we can to help him. We hugged.

I think the difference between my mother and others is that although we sometimes fail, struggle, get stressed, cry…we can talk things out like this, we can struggle to grow and overcome, we can work out our boundaries, we can acknowledge when we are wrong, and we can repent and forgive each other. My abusers never did this.

I just wanted you all to know the rest of the story of this day.


TJ, the way you talked about your son here really triggered me; it reminded me of my own emotionally abusive mother. I hope one day you’d be willing to listen to your son talk about his childhood with the same length and patience that you’ve spoken with him about yours. He sounds like someone who has been the recipient of hypercritcal, hyper-controlling, and verbally abusive behavior, who has had his boundaries trespassed upon over and over again. Someone who has been judged, condescended to, nagged, preached at, invalidated and harassed over a long period of time, and has the right to be angry.

I remember when my own sister used that line, that since I had asked her for advice, I had no right to be upset when she trespassed my boundaries to respond with condescending, preachy, and downright cruel advice; when she told me that everything was my fault and wasn’t the least bit impartial.

It really sounds to me like you projected your “battles for control” from your own childhood onto him by not setting an atmosphere of cooperation, but by believing that you have an inherent right to control everything that he does. You order him to do something, and then you want to stand over his shoulder and specify how, when, and in what precise way he will do it. That is not an equal or respectful relationship, and if something doesn’t work out over time, it is really up to you to seek some other arrangements, not constantly initiate conflict so as to get your own way. If you deeply disrespected your son when he was a young child, you do not get to simply say when he is 18 “we will all respect each other now” without actually making any amends whatsoever for what you did to him.


JMarie, Thanks, I will look for that book. I saw an interview with WM. Paul Young. He was taling about being an abused child. He said that we all build a house inside of us to live in and abused children, live in a shack. That comment made me look for the book. I was surprised that it didn’t focus solely, on child abuse. However, it is a wonderful insight into relationship. I really needed it right now. I finished it today but I know I’m going to turn around and read it all over again.:0)



TJ, All good families struggle and to me it sounds like you’re doing a good job. My youngest rebelled and it was so painful but I’m thankful for that now because it opened up all of the problems and forced us all to face them. It was bad but we stuck with each other and worked through it and we are all better for it. Hang tough.



Caden…here is all I can say in response to what you wrote to TJ…WOW! I have been reading all of the supportive comments here today to catch up, and was amazed that you wrote something like #66 when you dont really know all the facts and TJ is looking for a safe and healing site to be vulnerable…and has opened up about the struggles she has had. WOW.


Pam, you are such an amazing person! I was reading your comments and with all you have been through…you have come so far!!! 🙂 You reach out from a place of understanding and healing and wisdom…while at the same time you are seeking more and more truth and freedom inside of yourself. I am very touched by your journey.


That is not what I was attempting to do here, Caden. Instead, I was trying to help him understand what healthy is relationships are like–give and take, repentance and forgiveness when we fail. I’m trying to not excuse trespassing of boundaries, no matter who trespasses. I was trying to insist that we ALL respect each other and our differences, not put it on him. I never knew what a healthy relationship was. I want him to know.

After enduring years of emotional abuse, after finally setting boundaries against it, I feel in a time of depression, pain, weakness. Stuff is coming up now that I’ve shut the abusers out of my life. I feel as if I am suffering from PTSD. I am aware of this.

Thank you so very much, Caden, for being another person who kicks me when I’m down, who can’t give me mercy when I fail. Thanks for giving me the message that no matter how hard I try, it’s never enough. Thanks for reminding me that it is not safe to be honest, to admit my failures and struggles.


The only time that there is ever a problem on this website is when a commenter calls thier child “abusive” and as Caden has expressed, it triggers people who have had the same things said to them by thier own families/parents. I just finished dealing with one of these problems on another post. This is such a difficult issue to deal with because everyone is entitled to their feelings. Diane, you are judging Caden who began his comment with “TJ, the way you talked about your son here really triggered me;” which really is about him and I am not sure what the difference is between what you said to him and what HE said to TJ. And as I said, this is the only problem that I ever had on this blog. And I am trying to have a day off with my family.
I would like to suggest that we stick to sharing our feelings, our personal feelings and don’t make this about hurting each other.
TJ, I see that you are trying with your son and that you are trying to do this differently with him, but I also see that what Caden is saying valid. Those things were said to him by his parents. Some of them were said to me by mine. And I write every day in this website about the subject of parents who say that their children are the problem but don’t see how they as parents have actually been the root of that problem and how MY parents still to this day maintain that I am still the problem. Do you see how this is so confusing?
Hugs, Darlene


Diane, What a wonderfully, sweet thing to say.:0)Just the right words of encouragment at just the righ time. You are a blessing to me too, Diane.



Respectfully, I dont believe I am judging as much as feeling like I was hit with the words Caden went on to write in the first paragraph. If anything was triggered…I was triggered by those words. Those were judging and critical words and I was triggered by them here at EFB.


TJ and all;
Thank you for your explaination here; I think that Caden was reacting to your first comment about your son more that the second one (or both) and I again I see both your posts as valid.
About your comments at the end to Caden; Everywhere we go in life there will be people and we will have choices and our feelings might get hurt or we will be triggered. This blog is no different but nothing is perfect or perfectly safe. I would love to see everyone try to understand both points of view here. I see both sides of this as I said in my last comment. I also see that what you said caused Caden to feel unsafe here too, and all I am asking is for everyone to consider how that happens because of the nature of this website.
Thank you,


Yes, that is exactly what Caden was expressing too. He was triggered by the comments from TJ about her son.


Healing Slowly-

I did it! I left the scathing message (and oooh was it scathing- I got out so many months of frusteration, so much pain!).
I agree with all you said very helpful. I was going to change my phone number afterward anyway, b/c my dad had it, but the phone place wouldn’t let me! So I am a little nervous about getting a call back- bitch is vindictive! It felt gooood. I even said that mid-message how good it felt.
I am still worried though- like what if she calls back before I change it/what if it’s not good enough closure. Somehow, though, I feel better than if I’d done nothing.



I am not able to adequately explain something and failing miserable, so I can understand that it can trigger all sorts of terrible things. Everyone can read my words through the words of their own experience and emotions of abuse.

My Mother never admitted wrong, never apologized for anything. She blamed, shamed, manipulated, lied, and rejected and crushed us. Some of my sisters are emotionally deteriorating. I am heartbroken. I have fought very hard to gain for my son what we did not have. I am honest with him, I do not lie to him, my husband and I have never told him to keep secrets, we have given him a voice and an opinion. We have fought to not guilt, shame, or blame him. We have told him that we are doing our very best to fight and heal from the abuse done to us. We have been successful in overcoming a great deal. Have we overcome it all? NO. We are still in the process of processing, learning, healing. Are we perfect? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Have we sometimes failed him? ABSOLUTELY. When we recognize that we are wrong, we apologize and ask his forgiveness.

My son is very strong, and he is able to set healthy boundaries. We are glad, even when he sets them against us. We applaud his strengths. We let him know that we NEVER want him to live his life to suit us. He has the freedom to make his own choices. We will attempt to give him advice, IF HE WANTS IT, but he MUST make his own choices. We try to give him what we can.

What we discussed today is that he MUST keep his own boundaries intact, which his Dad and I have struggled to do, while also respecting the boundaries of others. It is NOT ok for ANYONE to insult or disrespect the value and boundaries of others. Period. It is not ok for me to do it, it is not ok for his Dad to do it, it is not ok for our son to do it. We all three love each other. We all three have our struggles, we get stressed, we have bad days, sometimes the effects of abuse overcomes us. We are HUMAN Me? Right now, I am going through a time of weakness and tears and intense pain. I am not always this weak. I think that in finally shutting the door against abuse, the affects of it are hitting me, like a soldier holds himself together on the battlefield and comes home and falls apart with PTSD. I explain this to my family NOT to excuse myself, but because I want them to know that I recognize that I am sort of falling apart, and I am SORRY. I am doing the best I can to deal with it honestly, but I need their understanding right now. I am seeking support, not excuses. And my husband and son are WONDERFUL. Holding me when I cry, reminding me that I can get through this, forgiving me when I fail.

Of the three of us, I am the one that understand the damage of abuse the most, although my husband was also abused. I don’t think his family was as bad as mine. So I am doing my best to set the parameters. Respect. No insults. Sometimes boundaries get crossed YES. We have to work on healthy boundaries. My husband and I have to learn to set boundaries. My son is very strong at setting boundaries, and I AM GLAD, but he needs to be careful in how he does it. When a person sets boundaries, that can’t override the boundaries of others. It’s give and take, love and respect.

Understand what I am saying: In all the years of abuse, I allowed abuse to happen to me, I permitted myself to be insulted. I didn’t know how to say NO. Am I now supposed to accept insults from my son? NO! He must learn this is unacceptable. kAm I blaming him for everything that goes wrong. NO! I believe that just as I am not to blame for what my parents have done, neither am I to be blamed for everything that goes wrong in my son’s life. LISTEN TO ME! Neither is HE to be blamed for MY everything wrong in my life. I am accountable and must deal with my own failures and mistakes, and he is accountable for his. We are ALL doing the best we can to learn to set healthy boundaries, we are taking responsibility for our own actions. Some of the struggles we have had with our son is that he doesn’t want to do things that is his responsibility to do. If he doesn’t do those things, there are consequences, just as there are consequences for ourselves. My problem is that I struggle to know how to set them. Usually I give him timeout until we can cool off when we have a conflict, but when we can talk without anger we sit down and talk, BOTH OF US HAVING A VOICE.

Perhaps I was unkind to Caden, and if I was, I am sorry. But I thought this was a place to say, “I don’t have it all together, I am hurting, I am struggling.” When Caden spoke to me as she did, she triggered many memories of abusive attacks on me to such an extent that I began to physically shake and sob and felt like throwing up. I have often been yelled at, screamed at, judged, and condemned with no right to defend myself and no awareness that I could say stop. I have been made to feel as if they had value and I had none. I am trying not to accept it again. Am I clumsy at it? YES. But do I not also have value? Do I not also have a voice? Is this place also safe for me, or only for others?

I do not know. With this site or without it, I will seek to heal. However, I thought this was a safe place to get support.


I don’t want to kick anyone while they are down or make people feel unsafe. Usually I try to avoid reading when people comment about issues with their children here, because that isn’t what I’m dealing with and it’s clear where my sympathies lie. I was triggered because I was once that teenage boy with anger problems, due to the way my passive aggressive and emotionally abusive mother treated me. Yet she painted herself as an innocent victim and made everything about her, and lumped me together indiscriminately with her abusive parents.

Perhaps you are a mother yourself and therefore were triggered by my comments for that reason Diane? We can disagree and have different perspectives. But I was deeply offended by the way someone spoke about (and IMO disregarded) their son and showed big blind spots in their attitude and treatment of him that someone needed to point out. So I responded with my feelings; this is still a safe place, no one has to leave.

Thank you Darlene, for creating and maintaining this place with such a great sensibility.


(note: I posted my above comment before seeing TJ’s latest reply, and now I’m on my way out the door, so please see it as a response to the earlier discussion.)


TJ…I hear what you are saying, and were trying to say! Personally I think you have allowed yourself to open up and to be vulnerable, and that is a wonderful thing to find your voice and have the courage! I think what you wrote was very brave about your relationship with your son. I know as a parent how challenging it is….I have a daughter who is 18. I came from neglect and abuse in my upbringing and know the struggles to overcome and change the old, abusive family patterns….so I feel for you! I didn’t think you were unclear in what you wrote at all.

On that note, I have been told I was wrong ….and I was judging…after reading that someone here who is being understood for what He said and when he used extremely unkind and judging words …. And it isn’t equal and it isn’t fair to me when I also had a slap in the face feeling from reading that reaction and response.

After this I cannot tell if this is safe for you here TJ, …and this could be a one time episode for you here that wont ever happen again….but I hope and wish for you the very best no matter where you decide to go…or stay… ….and total freedom and healing!!! Hugs and comfort to you!


TJ, This is a safe place. I fell apart when my son rebelled and if I could give myself advise from now to use back then, it would be to listen more than I talked and to be careful to discern what my son’s needs were and not focus on trying to prevent my own childhood experience, to the point of being blind to his. I’ve struggled with PTSD too and I know that the past was always in my present and I saw everything my children experienced through my past. It’s hard to cut through that and the only way I was able to was by facing my past and working to heal myself. When I did that, I was able to see how I had hurt my children. They both tell me that my abuse of them was passive, I didn’t do things to hurt them on purpose, but I did hurt them. I had a lot of emotional needs, as a child, that weren’t met but my kids needs were differnt from mine. Their needs are all their own. Some of them are for me to fill and some of them are for them to fill on their own. I hear how you are hurting. I’m sending you a hug from one mom to another and I want to let you know that things can get better. It takes hard work but it is work that is worth it. It won’t be fixed tomorrow but when you look back a few years from now, you will see progress. I think as long as we don’t retreat into denial and keep following the truth,we can be sure we’re moving in the right direction.

Caden has pain too. He’s not a mom or a dad. Getting triggered is part of healing and we all get triggered. We can all learn from conflict when it happens. Conflict brings problems into sharper contrast and if used properly, it can help us see our behavior more clearly.:0)I’ve been married for 35 years and the reason we have such a good marriage isn’t because of all the lovey-dovey stuff only, it’s because we know how to fight. Fair fighting means taking time to hear what the other person is saying, not fighting to dominate the other or prove how right one person is and another wrong, and allowing room for free expression. It’s also, good to try not to take the other persons expression of pain personal. It took us awhile to learn how to do this but it works and I use it in all areas of my life.



Caden, since you personally addressed me and asked me some questions, I will respond back to you. Yes, I am a mother, but no, your words didn’t trigger me because of that. I was triggered because I have still a very sad area in my heart that needs healing and it is about my older brother……who WAS treated as you described by our “mom”. I have suffered greatly because of what I witnessed and because of the type of “mother” she wasn’t to him. He was treated worse than a dog. With that being said, I was triggered also because there are really very few mothers who are seeking to come up out of the fog and to heal and to be transparent….and I felt that TJ was trying so hard to explain that, while admitting that she has areas of improvement to work on. I totally admired that she went to her husband and son and they all spoke so openly together about these issues, and I felt compassion for TJ for what she was going through because I am a mother of a teen who is very close in age to her son.


*my relationship with my daughter wasn’t triggered…but my feelings from one mother to another…from one abused person to another….were definitely triggered.


Diane, Your comment makes me aware of how much our personal experiences influence the way we interpret what another person is saying. Sometimes, I wonder if I ever would have sought healing the way I have if I hadn’t been a mother. I really didn’t think of myself as ‘damaged’ until I had kids and was trying to figure out how to parent. I was angry at my parents before that point but being a parent makes surviving child abuse a double edged sword, in that what hurt me, hurt my kids too but in a different way. It’s complicated and I know that’s why Darlene focuses on personal healing. I also, know now that being a good parent had to start with my own healing. I was blinded by my own pain and I often, couldn’t see what needed to be done for my kids. I did a lot of things really right but I also, did some things really wrong. The good thing is that, unless we’ve damaged the relationship with our children to the point they cut us out of their lives, parenting never ends and it is never too late to get well and learn to be a better parent. Even whith my children being grown, there are many things I can do in a supportive role that help my children to heal and also, make our relationship better.



Did you read both of the comments from TJ? I am under the impression that Caden reacted to the first comments in number 53 ~ not the follow up comments where TJ explained the outcome. The way that I took your comments were that you were sticking up for TJ and not even listening to Caden who ALSO had something valid to say about the comments and the way that they made him feel as a son. Caden has a right to his feelings as well as TJ does and please, consider what the focus of this entire website is about in the first place. This site is not about picking sides, it is a great place to learn /practice mutual respect. We all have triggers and issues. If this is going to be a safe place to express them, we can’t attack each other.

TJ and Everyone
I have a son who is 21 and when I started this whole proecss he as around 13; this subject is very close to my heart too. (in fact his name is TJ and we both almost dies when he was born too!!!) The hardest thing that I have done in this entire process was become the parent that I wanted mine to be for me. TJ I totally understand how hard it is to set boundaries with teenagers and be in the healing process. I am not taking sides here, I understand both sides. Something that I found very helpful for me was in seeing where my kids got thier attitudes, frustrations, struggles etc and how we had (without meaning to) passed down our dysfunctional belief systems. I had to be more patient with my kids than I had to be with my parents becasue with my kids I WAS the parent. I could write a book about this, but I chose to write about my personal process of healing first for this very reason. (because the two subjects don’t mix well)

When I said that the only reason there is ever a problem on this blog was when a parent on here called thier child ‘the problem’ I wasn’t judging you. I was just stating a fact and honestly I was trying to avoid the fall out that usually happens when this come up. I didn’t succeed. I realize and validate that you ARE trying to do things differently with your son. But I also saw in comment 53 how others could be triggered by the way you talked about him and the problems you are having. I know this is exhausting. I have been there. I have two kids younger than my 21 year old son. One 19 and one 15 and parenting in the new system is a delicate balancing act! I know! And I support your efforts. I don’t know what else I can say to mend this damaged fence but I hope you will stay and feel safe here again.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for your comments ~ they are very good, very understanding very level headed and I appreciate your voice in this too.
hugs, Darlene


Darlene, As for picking sides….maybe you see it that way because this is your site and I know you do try to keep it supportive and helpful and healing, but that wasn’t what it was all about for me since I do consider at all times what this website is all about. I am not attacking anyone, but I was pointing out a highly charged, critical choice of words directed at TJ….and Caden went on to explain that he did feel deeply offended in comment #79. It was the way the words were directed and the choice of words that I responded to. I definitely see Cadens feelings and words about his life and past …and feel for him very much….but that isn’t what his focus was about in that comment that I was responding to. I believe that if there is any mistake I have made here, it was for voicing my opinion head on like I did. But not for seeing what I saw, and feeling how I felt, and having that confirmed in comment 79. If you disagree, I will respect that as I always have.


In response to your comment #77
If you have a smartphone, you can get a free app called “Mr.number” and it blocks calls, texts, and voice mails from any number you choose. Its been GREAT for me, since going low/no contact with several abusive individuals in my life! I no longer feel anxious when I get a message or a call! Hopefully that will help in your situation as well!

I just wanted to commend you for the reasonable way you moderate the comments and any conflicts that arise. I hope you and your family had a great day together!




Thanks KR
This stuff is never ‘easy’ ~ I hope you had a great day too.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks KR that is helpful.

I have an iphone and didn’t find it at the app store. Do you think I could find it on an iphone?



A small change in words…A profound impact on how I viewed myself and others…

I realized until recently that I used to tell people that the message I received from my childhood was that I was “not enough”. Saying it this way meant that I bought into the idea that there was something wrong with me, something “missing” and that once I could figure out what that was and acquire it “poof”…I’d be “enough” and I would be loved. That led me on a cycle of trying to mirror what I thought people wanted from me…people who I thought were “enough” or could somehow help me to become “enough”. It started with my parents, then with my crushes and boyfriends and also girls who seemed to have it all together. Rejection from any of these individuals just continued my belief that somehow I was the one with the problem. Recently though, I’ve been telling people that the message I received was I could be loved, if I wasn’t me. Subtle difference but profound impact. If I could be loved if I wasn’t me….meant that I could never do enough, try enough, mirror enough to be loved…because my parents could not accept me for me. There wasn’t something that I was “missing”..I wasn’t “damaged goods”…I was a complete person…and it was my parents who had the issue. I am still learning how not to contort myself to fit what I believe others want from me. I am still comforting my inner child whenever she feels rejected or shamed in any way. But we have to really take a close look at the words we use when we speak to others about ourselves. Do we discredit ourselves and thus continue to buy into faulty information…or do we change the words so that we free ourselves to be who we are meant to be irrespective of how others view us? I have a long way to go…but I wanted to share this.

Today defines a different path….and I am excited about the future.


Also..I didn’t know where to post this…it is a poem I wrote about my mother, her mother etc.

We are like stairs
tumbling after each other.
And I feel the burden
of every step above me.
The need to be accepted,
the abhorrence of other women,
the reverence of men.
Generation to generation,
we build down.
My step is wobbly and uncertain,
timid and unforgiving.

You cannot be a staircase
with steps such as ours.
No, our steps lead no where.
They are fractured, disengaged,
filled with cracks and holes.
I wish to be the step
in a different set,
one that is upright and caring,
loving and supportive.
One that builds upwards instead of down.


Thank you for your kind words Wendy. It feels good to be able to be helpful. I have tried to be helpful telling friends with family problems about EFB, but they are not ready and that is okay. I am not here to fix any one. I just back off and come to EFB to learn more and use it in my life.

Light- I can relate to much of what you write about. It IS a crazy mixed bag of crap they dish out to us. That is how we keep getting drawn in because you think well they kinda really suck, but wait they did this nice thing and that nice thing so I really need to give them a break. But it all ends up the same way. I feel depressed and drained after a visit. I feel anxious and unsteady before a visit. I put all the responsibility on my shoulders for the how and the why I get treated this way. It has been quite painful.

I have not read every post under this heading, but there is just so much pain here. Fortunately, we have found some sanity to this bad craziness by reading and posting on EFB. Thank you Darlene for all your good works. It keeps me strong to continue in the right direction and not worry about if I am doing the right thing. I get validation here that I cannot get anywhere else.



This topic and all the heartfelt comments truely speak to me.
I grew up discounted, abused, belittled, and seen as a crazy
rebel in my teenage years. My mother was emotionally absent and I
was scapegoated. My father was an angry abusive N. I had one son
given up to adoption and one son with my husband. I can relate to
being abused but since this website have realized that I had been
emotionally absent for my own son. I now see how my dysfunction
hurt him. I am very ashamed that although I tried hard to be a
good Mom that I lacked the emotional stability and skills to
be one. I always stood by him and encouraged him. I am
seeing now why he had issues in his life and how my husband and I
were the cause of his dysfunction. Abuse is truely generational.
But for me (us) the buck stops here. I applaud everyone here
for their stand against abuse. In telling our stories we see all
sides – child, parent, brother, sister etc. I was abused yes, but
now I question my own behavior. Was I an abuser? Sorting it
all out really hurts but I need to understand it all. Karen



Sorry, I have an android and the app said ‘smartphones’ so i assumed Iphone would be included. 😛 Apparently iphone doesn’t have an app for that. (weird.) I did do some research on it, and found that you can either go to Youtube and look at tutorials for how to make your iphone block calls and text. Or for another option … at least from what I’ve read, most phone companies will block numbers and messages for you(I think there’s a limit to how many you can have blocked) … You’d have to call them up and see what they can do. Hope you can get it figured out –

Though I’ve taken steps to clear out abusive individuals from having access to me in my own home, it did not stop them from harassing me via phone calls, text messages, and voice mails. It felt like I couldn’t get away. But, now that they have been blocked from my phone … it has been SO freeing! Not having these toxic people be able to contact me throughout the day has helped me have more and more and more great, productive, happy days! I wish the same for you! 🙂




Karen, I know how you feel but it doesn’t sound like you are refusing healing by refusing to face your problems and then blame your children for hurting you, when they act out their pain and confusion. That’s the big difference between me and my parents. I woke up late in the game too. I was always working to try and improve myself and I achieved control of my outward behavior but I had to get to the root of why I behaved the was I did. I was also, blind to many of my behaviors. I sought out hellp but found very little of anyghing to help me deal with the abuse in my past that kept following me into my present. Things changed a lot for me after I started coming here. This is the kind of help I needed all of my life but never found. Now, instead of being sad and angry because I didn’t find the help I needed sooner, I focus on being grateful and on treating and responding to my chldren in healthier ways. It still makes a difference, Karen. I’ve come to realize that shame and guilt is just another expression of my pride. I can’t be perfect, I never will be perfect but when I lay my pride aside and apply truth deep inside, I make progress in becoming more like the woman I would have been if I hadn’t been abused as a child and my life is happier, more free, and I’m more whole. The things Darlene shares here really work when I apply them to my situtaion and work them!:0)I believe it can happen for anyone who does the same.



I once went off on a shrink that triggered me. Feel free to do so! it is her job to contain you. If she cant she is a failure as psychologist.
I had that shrink write me a letter how it wasnt her fault afterwards. How stupid is that, a shrink writing me a letter trying to excuse herself. WTF is wrong with u lady.

Also do report this psycho to some kind of psychology associations. Also collect any crap she might send you to use against her so she loses her licence.
If she leaves you a psycho message forward it on to a Board of Psychology, also to other shrinks in the area to ruin her reputation.


Hi Katie
Thank you so much for sharing your lovely poem!
It is really awesome
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Karen and all
Sorting it all out is really all that matters. There is only movement forward when there is willingness. (and I heard that willingness in TJ’s comments too) We can’t change the past but acknowledgeing it makes a HUGE difference when it comes to the cycle of abuse. I had to question my own behaviour too. In my case how I let my kids down was in standing by when my husband took his moods out on them spekaing his verbal disapointment in them, or putting pressure on my son to ‘do things better in sports, try harder in everything and how he was ‘not good enough’ at chores. There were times that I tried so hard to protect my kids from their fathers anger (which was verbal) that I would yell at them stuff like ~ don’t talk with your mouth full, move your glass you are going to spill your milk… all kinds of yelling because I was more afraid of him yelling at him. None the less, my kids have a right to voice their feelings of the way that I devalued them, didn’t protect them, and all that stuff. And because of all that, there has been major amazing healing in our family. My husband saw his abusive ways, apologized, stopped doing it and we both made/make every effort to live in this new system of equal value for all.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Everyone ~ I have run out of time to answer comments on this post. I am sorry if I missed your comment. If I have time I will catch up tomorrow but if not, please know that I do read all the comments. I appreciate all the sharing
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Pam!! No I never blamed our son in that way or saw him as
“the problem”. I just
could not figure out why I had emotional issues all my life and
tried to be a better parent than mine were. After being here a year I get it. What a
tangled mess when you try to raise kids when you are messed
up yourself from abuse. You remember the hurt from your
childhood and try to never treat your kids that way. Thinking about
the fact that I never thought of him as the problem or having less
value than my husband and I is very uplifting. I never forced him to
be something he was not. I just wish I had been more patient.


Pam…comment #85…..I know you have such a heart for your children, and you have expressed that every time you have written about them here…and I think your children are so blessed to have a mother who has worked as hard as you have to heal! It is so clear how deeply you love them and hard you will always try in your relationships with them! I have been very moved by your journey in all ways…including this one! The only area in my entire life I can be assured of that I tried my hardest, did my best, and was able to have any measure of confidence in has been with my daughter….I only have one child. I had been fighting for healing for a long time when we had her, and because of my upbringing and having lost my own mother, and then having the adopted “mother” from you know where to raise me….I somehow had the understanding that I was going to raise any children of my own totally differently. I have always thought that it was better for me than many women here in some ways since I always knew when I was being badly mistreated that the woman was not my real mother. I think I was able to think differently for raising my own daughter because of it, so I went about it in opposite ways than I was raised….and I found that I just didn’t have it in me to do the type of things that were done to me! I was in love with her from the second I knew I was pregnant, and we are still….thank God!…very close. It has been a total joy and a lot of fun almost daily with her. We all have some harder days than others! So…what I think is this….that when you truly love your children like you do…and are working as hard as you have been….there must be a lot of love between all of you! Are your children demonstrative with you in loving ways? It’s okay if you don’t answer! Hugs to you today!


I have not read many comments beyond my last comment, so I do not know what has been said. Maybe your comments are supportive but I cannot bear it if they are not. I am at a low point in my life, where I feel overwhelmed by a lifetime of emotional abuse. Pain is hitting me all at once, I am physically shaky. I am shattered and beyond endurance. I think PTSD describes this sort of thing. I cannot take much now. I am a mess.

I have spent a life time accepting disrespect, control, insults…because I didn’t want to wound the wounded. In not wanting to wound the wounded, I have been wounded, I been insulted, I have been controlled, I have not defended myself, I have not known that I could set boundaries, and I have been shattered. Gradually, step by step, I am trying to learn that I can care about others, but I can also set boundaries. No one has the right to control, disrespect, or insult another. In the process of learning, I make mistakes. I am further along now than I was a year ago, I have reason to hope I will be further along in a year than I am now.

This website is for those wounded from abuse. Everyone here is wounded, shattered, and trying to heal. Everyone is in different stages of “emerging from broken.” The benefit of this site is that one person’s story can inspire and encourage others in their journey, reassuring them that they are not alone. That is powerful. The problem is that one person’s story can trigger another’s pain, and one’s response can add to the abuse of the other. That, I think, is what happened between Caden and me. She didn’t hear MY story, she heard her own in my words and she reacted. Understandable, it’s what happens, but in the process her response added to the abuse I have experienced. Understandable, it’s what happens. The truth is, we have both (all) been hurt, we have both (all) been shattered, we both (all) need support to heal. A good reminder to me that maybe everyone needs to recognize that a person’s story is that person’s story and not our own and to let people occasionally fall apart and fail.

So, Caden, I want to tell you that I am so deeply sorry for the abuse and pain you have endured in life. You didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t your fault. I weep for your pain, and I am so sorry that my story triggered your pain. I understand why you responded as you did. I also recognize that my pain wasn’t my fault, that I was sharing my brokenness and not yours, and I responded to you out of my pain. Please understand that I am in a very, very shattered place right now, it’s not who I usually am, and I don’t think it will be forever.

Caden, you said something interesting that I have thought about: That you usually don’t read posts about struggles with kids because it brings up the abuse you struggled as a child. My Mom, siblings, friends, and even a pastor, have shattered me. I am depressed right now, weepy, and in pain. I am trying to see through a weary fog. I am recognizing that the abuse was not my fault, and it is ok to set healthy boundaries and not accept abuse. However, I have to also recognize that I am a wounded person, I have believed lies and operated out of them, which means that I have hurt others–which horrifies me. I recognize that there is no way that I could operate out of what I did not know. I am doing my very best to replace lies with truth, to process abuse and damage, to sort through what I have actually done and what I have been wrongly blamed of doing, and to forgive myself for not knowing. I am struggling to heal. This takes time, it’s a process.

I was trying to describe this in my post about my son. I want to honestly recognize that I could not give to my son what I did not understand, which means that there are dysfunctions that will hurt him and pass to him. I have observed that usually people who admit to messing up are seen as more terrible than those who keep silent. But are they? Honestly, I cannot believe that everyone here has been perfect parents to their own children. I do not think there is such a thing as a “perfect” parent. Maybe some cannot acknowledge this yet. Or maybe I am not yet where you are.

My failures have broken my heart. I feel I MUST deal with what I have done as well as what was done to me or, in my opinion, I am no different than those who hurt me and refused to acknowledge it. When I am wrong, I always try to ask whoever I have wronged for forgiveness, including my son. However, I have to know that I also am not always the one who is wrong. I don’t have to accept all the blame, especially for things I did not do. I’ve always tried to respect the boundaries of others, now I am trying to learn to enforce my own boundaries, including with my son. Sometimes I disrespect his boundaries, sometimes he disrespects mine…but not always. Fortunately, we love each other enough to make it through the times when we struggle. When I learn a new truth, I try to teach my son so he can use it in his life, if necessary. I want him to be able to set boundaries, to not accept abuse, but also to be compassionate and respect the boundaries of others. I want him to understand that he can make his own choices. Some of his choices will be good, but some will be mistakes. Just do the best he can, learn from his mistakes, and move on. The best we can do is give him the best tools we can. Maybe we will learn later that some of the tools we have tried to give him are not good. He must seek to rid himself of those. I am not a total failure: If I am to be blamed for the dysfunctions, perhaps I can be credited with some of the strengths. I marvel when I see my son defending himself, calmly and firmly setting boundaries that I could not set. He is further along than I was, maybe because I have won for him ground in my own battles. I hope he can grow stronger still.

Sometimes I feel like a miserable failure, aware more of my failures than my strengths. But I once had a counselor tell me that I am the most real, honest person he has ever encountered. My husband often says the same. He says I courageously confront and fight for the truth more than anyone he has ever met. I am the most loving, gracious person he has ever met. He says I am not who my abusers say I am. He tenderly holds me as I fall apart. My son says that I was a good mother, not the terrible one I sometimes feel I am. He honestly says he has many good memories, some bad ones, some neutral ones. He says he forgives me for my mistakes, even though I struggle to forgive myself. Both say: We know are in a shattered place right now. Rest, and we will help you. What a terrific family they are. I will make it through because of them.


Diane, My sons are wonderful and yes, they are good to me. I’m blessed to have both of them living close and they are part of my daily life. I’m also, blessed to be an important part of my grandchildren’s lives. My kids have never doubted that I loved them but there were behaviors I was blind to. Inviting my parents to move their mobile home on our land was a bad move and it hurt my youngest most of all. We went through a really dark period and I was afraid I might lose my kids but things are good now. We talk about things and they supported me 100% is requiring my family to treat me with respect if they wanted to have relationship with me. In fact, my kids helped me see a lot of things I couldn’t see. So…I made mistakes but at true abuser hurts people because it makes them feel better. Victims of abuse are forced to do things against their conscience but abusers choose to commit acts against their conscience. I never hurt my kids because it made me feel better. I hurt my kids because I was emotionally, handicapped and could do no better until, I learned how to relate in healthier ways. In most things, I went too far in oposition to what my parents had done and my PTSD symptoms were hard on my kids. Still, life is a process of wounding and healing and right now, I’m in a major healing stage and I beginning to really enjoy the fruit of my labor. I am blessed.:0)



Andria, I am glad you could relate, though I am sorry for your pain. It is a good feeling to know that you (and others, I think) understand. I go through those very same feelings both pre- and post-visit. I think about moving several hours away….if other people on this board moved to get away from their FOO I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences.

GDW, Since you didn’t respond to my post, I am thinking that perhaps I offended you somehow. If I did, I didn’t intend to and I apologize. Rereading what I said, I may have come across as a know-it-all or it wasn’t relevant for you. I was trying to be supportive, and I could relate to your situation of having a bad therapist.


Pam, it is so understandable why you struggled! I appreciate that you shared about this…and may I point out that you now have what most women I know wish they had with their children and grandchildren! To have them in your life on a daily basis and to be on good terms with them is more precious than rubies these days! I am so happy that this is a time for you where you are seeing some wonderful fruit in your life for all of your labors! I liked what you wrote about abusers hurting others because they want to feel better. How true that statement is….and I am so happy for you that you are healing from all that was inflicted upon you and for what you suffered….and those PTSD symptoms too….and that it includes your relationships with your children. That is a very happy thought! You have been taking your power back…and finding your voice…and finding courage…and taking risks to be healed, and it shows in your journey and in the things I have read here at EFB! You are so blessed! 🙂


TJ…I know you didnt direct your latest comment towards me, but I read it and wanted to tell you that what you wrote is what I was seeing and believing about you and your family when I read your earlier comments. I am sure that Caden wasnt trying to kick you when you are down…he even said so…and he was reacting to what he had experienced as a boy himself. So…please know that you are validated in what you feel and what you are going through and for your efforts and your words! I hate feeling misunderstood and then feeling like I have to explain my “goodness” to people who dont really know all of my past history and feelings etc. You sound totally to me like a woman who is trying so hard to heal and to have a happy home life and I think you are very brave to reach out and to find your voice! It isnt an easy thing to do…to keep trying to be healed and to keep trying to connect in healthy ways to the people we love the most! hugs and comfort and peace to you!!! Diane


TJ, (please note, I am a he, not a she; everyone here is not female) I tried very hard to make my words as gentle and constructive as possible, though my strong, personal feelings on the subject also needed to be expressed. I can see now that you are not in a state to receive that sort of feedback. I don’t plan on saying any more of that to you and while I don’t see that a different result was possible here, I’m going to respond differently if I’m triggered that way again as I’m not out to create problems or disruption on EFB.

Personally I didn’t (and don’t) see the things that I had a problem with in post 53 being framed as failings or things you regretted. That bothered me, hence my comment. I also see a really big difference between you and your issues with your abusers, and those with your son. If you were only talking about all of those other people (not your children) and what they did to you, I would never have said anything like that. But we don’t have to justify ourselves to each other.

Of course everyone does have their own process, that is in fact what I meant when I said that I usually don’t read from people starting that process with their children because it isn’t what I relate to, and I have a lot of justified anger at my own parents. On the other hand, a big part of my own healing process has been reading about cooperative, non-punitive parenting, where people respect their child’s needs, feelings, and rights; where the parent trusts the child and doesn’t rule with constant threats and demands or claim they can say things that bother their child but the child can’t do the same back.

I’ve also read studies showing how time-out can cause PTSD in young children, and I’m against them. That is what I believe in. I believe in accountability for parents, and I also believe in standing up for children and young people when I read about them being (imo) mistreated. That is my personal focus. We disagree, but it can be left at that. You can take or leave my comments, but I’d like to end my part in this discussion here and now. This is has also been distracting and difficult for me in my own process.


Hi Light:
When I got married, the first thing we did was move 1300 miles away from both our families.
Mostly it was because we had no desire to live in those parts of the country. We did not “need”
to be near both our sets of abusive parents as they were both controlling and abusive. We made
our own family and traditions. The one thing I do regret is not setting boundaries. I still allowed
them to put me down even though I lived far away and had a good life. I should have stood up
for myself much sooner. I still kept trying to prove myself to them even though there was no need.
Physically moving was good but in my mind I never left their control. I needed to separate from them emotionally first, which I did not do until 17 years later. Karen


Katie – regarding post 92 & 93

What you wrote has helped me a lot. I continue to contort myself to please others. However, you’re so right. It isn’t about being good enough. It’s about being me. Me isn’t accepted. I’m always told they know me better than me. If only I could be the me they ‘know’. But that’s ridiculous. It shouldn’t be such hard work.

When I can feel safe, I like me. I have fun with others. I don’t need to change. It’s liberating!

Thanks for your poem too.


The comments that followed since you were here last are not at all against you! I hope you will read them; there is so much support including in the comments from Caden.

Something that I found in my healig is that I was so used to fighting for even one opinion of my own that when I finally found my voice, if anyone disagreed with me or took what I said in the wrong way or reacted to what I said, it was like this trigger back to the days when I never had any voice at all; my “prove my worth” button got pushed. We don’t all have to agree or to be on the same page to be on the healing path.

I felt like a failure as a mother for a long long time but today I know that I do my best. I try my hardest, I love with all my heart. It took a long time for me to get here.

I really hope that you will stay TJ. Your voice here is just as important as everyone elses! We all learn from each other. Thank you for your comments.
Hugs, Darlene


I am realizing I live in this fantasy tale of love where I imagine my xbf doing what he would do if he actually loved me. But he doesn’t do those things at all and I somehow excuse it. I fight but then accept it or rationalize somehow because I want to believe so badly that I will have that happy ending after all this crap in my life.
But what is really happening is that I am being rejected the entire time. I am being run from , put walls between, separated, rejected, uncared for, forgotten. That is what is really happening. And while I continue to cry from being hurt like this I still somehow refuse to accept the reality because then I would have to move on. I cant believe that my father cares so little for me. I had hope that he was the good guy. But really he wasnt. i dont know who the better parent is anymore. Its like I wanted to hold onto the fantasy that my father is really just a slave of my mom and he got tricked. But reality is he tricke with the bs so I think he is a good guy. Now I am paranoid about men tricking me. its the 3rd one now!!
Realizing that my father is just as bad or maybe even worse leaves me nothing to cling to. There is no way into the parents.. there is no fantasy to cling to that he loves me but was just tricked and its not his fault. he doesnt actually love me…


Hi Light
If someone doesn’t respond to something you say to them is is usually simply that they didn’t see it. The amount of comments that come in on this blog in a day is astounding! Don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t answer you.
Hugs, Darlene


Something you said reminded me of how I learned to re-parent myself. I had to find out what a good and loving parent would have been like so that I could go back and fill in those blanks for myself in this process. Even though I am a parent, learning to re-parent myself was different!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kathryn
I can relate 100% to what you just shared. That stage was not a quick one for me. Realizing that my own parents didn’t love me in the true action of the word was and sometimes still is painful. It hurts. A lot. But the more that I realized it, the more that I came to accept it, the less I thougth it was about me and knew it was about them and that was ultimately how I found my freedom and wholeness. Hang in there!
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. I was very focused on my mother for a very long time before I realized that my father was just as bad.


Growing up in my family, we, the children weren’t allowed to have feelings. No sadness, no happiness, and gosh, no ANGER. I remember having to go through surgery and spending time recovering at my dear Nan’s home. I remember talking to her about not being afraid of surgeries, but being afraid of not ever looking normal, where, people wouldn’t make horrible faces, or take second looks and stare. Oh, just to have someone take a quick look and then move on. I remember feeling and telling her that I didn’t do this defect to myself, for what ever reason, it was how I was born. I didn’t have the problem, my problem was having to deal with people who had a problem with me, specifically my birth defect, my cleft palate. I learned from my parents that I didn’t count and any problems I had were mine alone. I had no idea how to deal with them. People can be really cruel. I learned that I was nothing, that my pain was nothing. I learned how to make fun of myself more than anyone could ever hurt me. I learned to bend over backwards to appease other people. I learned to put up with what abuse they gave, because I too, did not want to be alone. My parents would threaten me that they would leave me. I remember my mom always saying if I didn’t do as I was told, she would leave me by the side of the road. With my stepdad, I inherently knew that no matter how kind, smart, good I was, I was never his kid, I was never ever going to be treated as he treated his real children. I was a prop for him. I was something instant that proved to the real world what an awesome father he was for adopting such a deformed little baby. Why, adopt me, give me your name and treat with me with such distaste? Why did my mom get married so quickly to such an alcoholic abusive man, who had the means to fix me, but, she did nothing to help heal my soul? And he, after a while got tired of having to do all the things that come with having a child with an ‘issue’. If I had a dollar for all the times he was downright cruel to me, the times he threatened to cut me out of his will…… I’d be rich. This was the beginning of why and finding out how to fix this why. I guess I have always known that I am alone. I have spent so many years alone, alone is what I am not afraid of. It’s the other stuff that comes along with it. I am married, have 2 wonderful children, who I love more than I love myself, and what is sad is the repetition of lonliness. My children were not included in family things. They have no aunts or uncles, no grandparents, no other identity other than my husband and I. Life is so lonely. Someone had mentioned within these posts that they live life as a hermit, I too live this way. (except for my hubby and kids) I find that there aren’t a lot of really truthful, decent people out in this world. I hate having this so called gift of seeing the truth in liars. Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder, maybe I am too sensitive or feel triggers to people who just stomp through life and step on so many of us here, sharing this planet. I don’t see a lot of softness or kindness anymore.
My grandfather used to say he’d rather be alone than put up with crap from others… I think I live by his motto.


The question finally becomes why would I want to be with people who reject me?


Hi Raven
I totally relate to what you are writing here. It’s amazing because other than the disregard and mistreatment issued to me, the rest of the details in your story are not mine.
I have the gift of seeing through people too and it is a good thing! I don’t want to be around mean and phoney people and if that means my circle of friends is small I am good with that!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Kate, exactly…. 🙂


Hi Kate
When I finally got around to really hearing that question, the answer scared me. I really believed that those same people were the only people who could finally validate me. The same people that invalidated me! Because ‘they’ taught me that they were always right. And they were wrong.
Hugs, Darlene


Raven, I didn’t have cleft palat but I was born premature and weighed four pounds. I couldn’t use my arms properly and didn’t walk until I was three because I couldn’t catch myself when I fell. Then my parents neglected to take me to the doctor for a strep-throat and I developed scarlet fever. They say they thought I had the measels so, they still didn’t take me to the doctor until my grandmother came for a visit and insisted they do so. I spent the next year in bed and had to learn to walk all over again at four. I spent most of my early childhood in bed and I was often medicated with alcohol. When I think of myelf as a child, I see myself in my darkened bedroom, alone. Alone is my natural state. It’s where I feel safe and I very much relate to what you’ve written. I also, didn’t develop important social skills and that coupled with the abuse from my parents, made me very vulnerable to abuse from other people. I accepted that as normal, also. At the end of what I call “my shattering” during my teenaged years, I met my husband and convinced him to move me out into the woods of Colorado. I couldn’t feel safe in the city or even a small town. I needed isolation to heal because that was the state that was normal to me.

The comment I wrote about being a hermit, was written on a dark day. I’m much better now but there are still things that well up from the past that swallow me sometimes. Last week was one of those times. I have my family and a few close friends. I do have to have a certain amount of time, alone or I feel ovewhelmed by others but I’m much less a hermit than I was when I convinced my huband to move to CO. I’ve learned how to get along with people better than I could as a teenager. I was extremly gullible back then and I’m still a truth teller that doesn’t really understand why people go to the trouble to lie but I now know that many of them do. I also, accept that aloneness quality about myself that isn’t likely to change. There was a time when I tried desperately, to be liked and wanted the acceptance of others but I know now that my self-acceptance is more valuable. I’m not a defect and neither are you. We are unique and as valuable as any social butterfly. Only you and I can contribute what only we are able to contribute. Even with all the pain my life has held, I wouldn’t trade being me to be anyone else.



I’ve discovered & realized another truth of my very dysfunctional foo,in a recent interaction with my sister (the bully). In a prior post about blaming the victim, I talked about how my sister called me unexpectedly to confront me, about coming out to our mother about my childhood abuse. The perpetrator was our uncle. My sister was so reactive with rage directed towards me, that how could I tell our mom that?!! and actually said, “I’m going to put you down until you stop this bullshit!”…What?!!…I stood up to her and said none of this is BS and my fear of rejection subsided, as she continued to blame & rage. My desire for self respect & the truth took over. I felt so empowered to finally say, “YOU & MOM need to look in the mirror and do your OWN WORK! I’ve done enough of my own work”. She did ask what I wanted and I said, “Equal Respect & a Mutual Relationship”. I’ve stopped trying harder & doing better to fix or comply with Foo’s needs anymore. So, I have been alone in this process with rejection, put downs and discounted. My sister certainly exposed her abusive ways and I believe my uncle could of done the same to her. I would not be surprised with how she is frantically reacting. I know my uncle tried kissing my mom back, when I was a child, so there is more to the story. I’ve discovered my foo is in deep denial about the sexual & psychological abuse that runs rampant for generations. I know they are aware, from my mom revealing her abuse little by little over the years. Abusers stick together & will deny the Truth. It’s a threat to them to realize they are far from their false image of perfection. Anyway, I love my ability for empathy and deep thinking. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not to get acceptance & approval. I’m done with that! Self Respect & Worth is more important to me. I’m content with my close circle of friends and those family members who treat me with respect.


Pam, I can tell that your words come directly from your heart, I really appreciate your candor and kindness. When you stated, “There was a time when I tried desperately, to be liked and wanted the acceptance of others but I know now that my self-acceptance is more valuable.” This rings so true, you hit the nail on the head. Thank you for your insight and kind words. I think I spent half of my life chasing after people, trying to make them see that I’m not defective and I got frustrated so many times when I seemed to fail. I guess the reality is that it wasn’t my failure and what I had done, but failure of recognizing that there are some people who don’t care, aren’t interested, or are run by their own insecurities. And I do know that so much of this is leftovers from my upbringing. Thank you for taking your time and replying. This website, Darlene, and so many others here, it’s such a welcoming, and uplifting place to be.


Darlene, Thanks for 113….trying to not take it personally! 🙂

Kathryn “But what is really happening is that I am being rejected the entire time. I am being run from , put walls between, separated, rejected, uncared for, forgotten. That is what is really happening. And while I continue to cry from being hurt like this I still somehow refuse to accept the reality because then I would have to move on.”

I can really relate to this, though my FOO mixes in some positives too. It don’t think it is worth it or enough though. Moving on frightens me. Not sure why yet.

Darlene #120 Yes, I want the same people who invalidate me to validate me. Other people outside my family validate me, but I don’t believe in it as much because they don’t know the nuances of what happens, or the complete picture, and they haven’t seen me at my worst…. so I guess I don’t believe in myself or forgive myself yet.

Pam, your story 121 of medical neglect moved me (as do many of the stories here). I experienced some medical neglect as well. Yours was so severe; mine easily could have been but I just got lucky with the outcome.


Hello everyone …
I am really enjoying the discussion! The comment: “I don’t want to be around mean and phony people and if that means my circle of friends is small I am good with that!” just reminded me of something my mother used to always say to me … She told me I would NEVER be able to find a good man, so I might as well just get used to staying with her. Then she would say “Besides, wouldn’t you rather want something you DON’T have, than have something you don’t WANT?” …. It’s funny, cause – now that I think about it – this statement actually applies really well to my situation with her! lol

I’d rather wish for a better mom and be without my birth mother(n/c), than go back to being enmeshed within their crazy alternate reality they’ve built for themselves. I’d rather be alone (or, as you put it – with a small group of genuine friends and the family I’ve made for myself) than be surrounded my the many abusive people who used to be in my life. And I strongly feel that I, and my family, are SO much better off for it!

Wishing you all well on your road to recovery,



Hi Light-

I am not offended. 🙂 Thank you for your feedback. I think in Healing Slowly’s case I ended up doing exactly what she said so I felt compelled to respond! Also if you see below, I am new here and trying to figure out how all this works (as its not an in person group, and I don’t have experience with posting).


I am not quite sure about the response etiquette here since I am new; if it’s best to respond to all comments, ok if we don’t respond to all, considered sort of a rule if we respond to one comment to respond to the others? What are your thoughts?


Hi All,

I do feel like the therapist thing is more or less resolved; thanks to all for tips.
I got out my anger, and changed my number. For now, I believe taking any further action- court, etc would likely make matters worse emotionally, if not financially too.
I will post again if I feel still frusterated, but right now the focus is on healing me, not on ‘getting’ her.
I am done with her (I said this on the message too :).

Thanks all,


Hi GDW! Thanks for your comment and I’m so glad that you have more peace re: the therapist. I am new to posting here too and my post to you was my first post where I was trying to help, so I was a bit insecure 🙂



The only ‘rule’ is that I ask people not to give advice or directives but rather to speak from their own experience. Comments are totally your choice. You can read however many or however few you are comfortable with, you can answer some, or none. It is totally up to you.

Hugs, Darlene


This process of self validation, self trust, self love etc. all takes time. You are on the path and that is the most important thing!!

Hi Sonia
Wow that is awesome! Good for you!!
Hugs, Darlene


I feel that way too ~ I am happier and healthier than I have ever been in my entire life!
Hugs, Darlene

Everyone ~ I just published a new guest post by our very own PAM! In this new post, Pam defines sexual abuse and shares a very personal story of her own abuse including how she was taught all sorts of false things that added to her confusion when she was sexually aubsed and how she learned the difference between abuse and love when it comes to sexual relations. Here is the link: “Defining Sexual Abuse and Devine Sex”

Looking forward to the conversation! ~ Darlene


Darlene wrote me not to give up at this site, so I am trying.

I don’t know if I have ever felt quite like this before: So shakey inside, and sometimes physically shaking as well. I feel emotionally exhausted–battered and beyond endurance. I feel as fragile as glass. Usually I am not this way, I can fight lies with truth, I can remind myself of all the truths that I know, I can push to put into place new things I am learning, new boundaries as I understand they can be set. Usually I can understand people and situations, and I know the difference between attack and triggers, and I am not so overly sensitive. I am embarrassed that I feel so messy and emotional. I find myself suddenly crying throughout the day. I feel as if I am emotionally vomiting. I tell myself, “pull yourself together and get a grip!” But I have no strength to do it right now. The attacks against me by the abusive people in my life have been too fierce and too long, especially in the last couple of years, and I am beyond weary. It took a lot of emotional energy to shut the door of relationship against them. They were not kind; they were guilting, blaming, and angry.

Part of the damage of abuse is confusion, fog, uncertainty, not knowing if I am the monster they have accused me of or not. They have caused me to doubt my perceptions, doubt my identify, doubt my decisions. The truth is, I am not an abusive parent–we have love, we have honesty, we have forgiveness when we fail–but right now I FEEL as if I am because I am so self-doubting and uncertain about everything, about whether I am this or that. It’s been a tough year as I (and us all) deal with after-effects of abusive people, my son is stressed about the process of becoming an Eagle Scout as well uncertainty about what he will do in after high school, we are redefining boundaries as he enters adulthood. My son sometimes wants advice, sometimes not, sometimes wants help, sometimes not, sometimes wants independence and sometimes not. If I do one when he wants the other…ai, yi, yi! I could give him one thing or the other, give him advice or not, indepedence or not, space or not, but even he admits that he’s not always sure what he wants at any given time, which makes me feel as if I am doing everything wrong with him. Emotion is not always the truth, and I have to keep reminding myself. A lot going on right now, but we will make it through. I hope.

I’m taking one moment, one step at a time. I’m telling myself that this will not last forever.


I can really relate to the way that you discribe your feelings here; It’s almost like learning to walk again when we leave the old system for a better system. And it takes time to get our land legs! I am so glad that you are going to stay!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi TJ,

When I read your emails describing your son, one of the things that pops into my mind is: Would some of his behavior be normal teenage stuff? e.g. the indecision, wanting things one way then another, wanting the opposite, outbursts, independence vs. dependence, etc?

Not to minimize your pain AT ALL. And I completely understand that you must require respect all the way around. I’m thinking about the other stuff – the backing and forthing, etc. I’m not a parent, and I hope my words can be helpful….perhaps part of this doesn’t mean anything or anyone is “wrong”. Hormones gone wild?


Everyone, This post and conversation inspired my new post at Boomer Back-Beat. The link is http://www.boomerback-beat.com/?p=3065, for those who are interested.

TJ, Please, don’t give up. I know what you need to heal can be found here. I have been in much the same place that you seem to be in now. I worked so hard as a mom and then when things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, I felt like a total failure. I was trying to be the perfect mom but still my kids suffered. I know now that my expectations were unreal and I found my way out of the mess I was in by confronting myself, my past,and applying truth.This is a good place. Here I found my voice, I was listened to, I found I wasn’t alone, and I found validation of my truth in the things Darlene writes and in the stories of others. Healing hurts but it is pain worth enduring.



Hi There,

I totally hope not to be attacked for saying this, but I understand where Caden is coming from. I too felt triggered. I felt like I was listening to my mother (and an entire article was written about my abusive mother on this site! So I don’t think I have to prove that any further). The majority of the posts seem to focus on how bad the kid is, not how the person themselves can change. And that is what abusive parents do- they feel sorry for themselves while they abuse their kids.

Something about the way it is written just doesn’t sound like the other posts on this site- even the ones from mothers. I am of course all for anyone who wants to heal, but I do not think healing is about talking about how bad your child is.
I mean, that hurts a lot. I think whats triggering too, is that there is so much support for her and it feels like if the child were to walk into the room, he’d be punished for being bad, scapegoated- as everyone seems to be supporting someone who obviously is placing a lot of blame on their child. I always become incredibly fearful when I hear people siding with my abusive mother or father because I know that the hatred and scapegoating and punishment and power in numbers is around the corner.

Even the beginning about how much trouble he is, how they both almost died when he was born? As if its his fault they almost died because he dared to be born? This reminds me of my mother blaming me for marriage problems, mental problems, and financial problems…..everything is not a child’s fault.

And I don’t think that Caden is ‘adding to abuse’ in saying he was triggered. It’s not fair to tell someone that they are abusive, when they express their feelings. This was a tactic my mother used to shut me up- its quite effective to call someone abusive while you abuse them- because it confuses and induces guilt- but it’s not nice. I still don’t have much of a voice, and am looking for it.

This whole thing is a huge trigger- I am surprised more people have not been triggered by this?



If you read through the rest of the comments this has all been resolved. I really would hate to see it all start up again. This was really difficult for both TJ and Caden and the thing about this is that TJ is trying with her son where as most of us had parents who were not trying. I understand what you are sharing but I would love it if you would read through the rest of the conversation so that you see how it all worked out. It’s really awesome to see how everyone worked together for the good of all!
This thread is a really good example of how communication can work in healing.
Hugs, Darlene


All, I know I’m not here to straighten anybody out and I feel it is inapropriate to do anything but support the other commentors. If I can’t do that, I stay silent and let Darlene handle the problem. I learn a lot from the comments and I think I learn more from those that trigger me, at times, than those that are less triggering. It is a safe way to analyze my triggers and work through the abuse that caused me the original injury. However I am triggered,it is about the abuse in my past and it isn’t about an indirect comment that stirs up pain, while the commentor was expressing their pain. I’m not claiming to never get crossways with someone who triggers a painful memory from the past but I am learning to work through it and hopefully, not hurt someone who is hurting even more. If people were able to survive chid abuse and remain free of the inappropriate ways of relating to others that are the outcome of abuse, then none of us would be here. Child abuse victims aren’t cute and cuddly, we have difficult problems to work through.




Other people were definitely triggered and angered. Only you and Caden were brave enough to call it out. Others were fearful of being attacked and kept silent.

Darlene, I am absolutely not trying to restart this ‘discussion,’ but I do have a question: if TJ is given a place to speak here (speaking which included directing heavy, uncalled-for sarcasm at Caden) shouldn’t others have a voice as well?


Did you read her apology????


Re your comments #138 ~ I could not have said this better or likely not even as well! Thank you ~ I am going to highlight what you said.

Pam wrote: All, I know I’m not here to straighten anybody out and I feel it is inapropriate to do anything but support the other commentors. If I can’t do that, I stay silent and let Darlene handle the problem. I learn a lot from the comments and I think I learn more from those that trigger me, at times, than those that are less triggering. It is a safe way to analyze my triggers and work through the abuse that caused me the original injury. However I am triggered,it is about the abuse in my past and it isn’t about an indirect comment that stirs up pain, while the commentor was expressing their pain. I’m not claiming to never get crossways with someone who triggers a painful memory from the past but I am learning to work through it and hopefully, not hurt someone who is hurting even more. If people were able to survive chid abuse and remain free of the inappropriate ways of relating to others that are the outcome of abuse, then none of us would be here. Child abuse victims aren’t cute and cuddly, we have difficult problems to work through. Love, Pam

We have all been discounted for way to many years.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, Yes, we have been discournted for too long. I hope I don’t respond to that debasing treatment by discounting others. Everyone is important and has something that only they can contribute. What you teach about equal value, is at the heart of every kind of dysfunctional relationship. Recognizing everyone as having equality has the power to change everything. I don’t want to do anything to dimenish that power for good.



I’d like to add that nothing I’ve said in this conversation was meant to side with one person over another. If TJ’s son commented here, I’d do all I could to support him too. People can be confused about all kinds of things and the abuse I grew up in, made me very confused about how people should relate to one another. That transfered into my parenting and judgement with condemnation did nothing to help me understand better how to relate to my children and parent them. I once thought that if I were a ‘perfect’ mother, I would raise ‘perfect’ children. Now, I know a good mother loves her children and herself, despite their imperfection. I understand TJ’s confusion. I also, see how her son probably, feels discounted. I also, understand why all of that is triggering. What I’ve learned here is to not avoid triggers but learn to face into them, figure out why I respond to them the way I do, and separate what happened in the past from what is happening now. It is the only way for me to heal from PTSD. The world will never adapt to my pain and be free of trigers.



Tomorrow is my birthday and I’ve been crying about mom alot today. Why can’t I just get over this stuff and move on?


Light- I understand your comments about FOO in post 124. It is difficult and scary to distance yourself from your family because so many things in our society tell us over and over that family is sacred and necessary and if you have a family you are so lucky……Truthfully, some people are lucky and have a wonderful FOO, but many of us are not that fortunate. But we can construct our own family from people who really support us and deserve an honored place in our life. I was never in total denial that I was not important to my FOO, but I was in enough denial to keep coming back for more of their crap and blaming myself that I was the one at fault because their was something wrong with me. I hope you get through this maze that is the families we were raised in. I believe you will. Best of luck. Andria


Hi Amy
Happy Birthday 🙂
I know how hard this is. For me ‘moving on’ was a result of the healing and not something that I was able to do first. Moving on came with a deep awareness of the truth about how my relationship with my mother really was. It came when I finally realized that I was not to blame and that the burden of the success of our relationship should never have been placed totally on me. I had to validate the damage done to me, learn to listen to and believe myself (which involved overridding the lifetime of messages about me that were false, but I still believed they must be true)
I hope you have a peaceful day today.
hugs, Darlene



“I finally realized that I was not to blame and the burden of success or our relationship should not have been placed totally on me”. Wow…that was/is me. I realize that in all my relationships I feel inadequate…like being me is lacking and not enough and so I feel compelled to give and give and give. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt the need to buy something or treat someone to dinner because they were a friend. Transactional relationships have defined me and whenever a friendship fails or whenever someone doesn’t like me…I tend to take that a lot more personal than the situation calls for. I realize that this all stems from my mom….I never felt secure and it always seemed like showing love=buying things/stuff for others etc. I’ve decided that I can deal with having less friends…as long as those friends are genuine. As long as those friends love me for who I am. I know that changing from taking total responsibility for the success of any relationship, to seeing relationships as something that both people must work on will take time….but I am glad that I am beginning to unravel this patterns.


Dear Darlene and fellow EFB members;

This has been the “final frontier” for me – fearing the rejection of my FOO if I speak my truth and require them to treat me with dignity and respect. I always knew deep down that if I set limits / boundaries with them and told them how I felt about the things they said / did that I would be permanently exiled from the family and I would be alone. The proverbial “something was better than nothing” held me hostage for years.

Despite moving across the country, years of therapy & education, a professional career, self-help books, spiritual growth & development, marriage & children, etc., I still wouldn’t stand up to my mother & siblings. I had always been terrified of them and their cruelties knew no bounds.

My husband couldn’t understand why I would spend so much time, energy & money trying to get the love & approval from people who were so cruel and abusive. My husband with a business background could see so clearly what a mental health professional couldn’t / wouldn’t see. It is sad that I was so willing to accept abuse versus being rejected and alone. My FOO had that much power & control over me (or so I thought for most of my life). My husband said that my mom and 2 sisters (1 older & 1 younger) were like Cinderella’s step-mom & sisters – they tried to repress her and keep her locked in the basement because they were jealous of her and hated her. They all banded together because there is power in numbers.

I couldn’t believe that they were jealous because they all said I was an embarrassment to them and mentally ill. I believed it for so long. They laughed at me, mocked me, told me I was fat & ugly, told me I was a weirdo and the cause of all the problems in the family; told me I was a “social invalid” and could never fit in anywhere; told me I had a big nose / big feet / big ears / big head / big hands / crooked face / etc etc etc. I was always terrified for any of them to see me naked because they would laugh and point out every flaw / imperfection so I would feel insecure and humiliated.

I am almost 50 years old and it has been a slow & painful process but I am healing. Finding this site a few months back has been a “God-send.” It breaks my heart that you all had to suffer the abuse and injustice but it is so beneficial to hear that I am not an anomoly. Other people know exactly how I feel and they struggle with the same things. This is comforting to me. I am not alone.


Hi Katie
Yes, that was such a huge part of the brainwashing that I had to breakthrough. It was so easy for me to believe it was me and ‘up to me’. It was very hopeless to consider that in order for me to be loved “they” would have to change. Finding out where it has its roots was key for me so that I could see the truth about it all and take my life back.
Love your comments, thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


Hi OnMyWay
I can really relate to your comments! That was me too and my husband didn’t understand it either. (although he was in a very similar situation with his own family! ~ not that I noticed that at the time; to me it was all ‘normal’)
I am really glad that you are rejecting all those horrific messages that your family gave to you!!
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, DArlene


Wow. So happy to have found this site at a time when I am feeling so alone and lost in the world. For 29 years, I thought that my dysfunctional family was just a little off but after uncovering layers for the past 2 years, I realized the closed family system that I had been a part of was so emotionally damaging. I realized this past week that I have disassociated through life. I always knew that I’d have this ability to numb myself and move through the world, but I never quite grasped how much that affected me. I question reality all the time. What’s real? What part of me is the real part of me, and what is the mechanism of survival? Who am I really? That feels really scary and alone, at times. I think the thing that I have the hardest time with is the guilt. While they don’t see what they’ve done wrong, or they’ve spent years denying that any issues were ever present, I feel like am I the one that is wrong? How could I act like I don’t really want anything to do with them? Does that make me a bad person? I’ve never been allowed to care or nurture myself, so I am confused. I am glad to be here and hopefully learn how to do this. I saw an article on here about therapist and unhealthy relationships. I actually experienced a retrauma of my own my first experience in therapy. I have found a loving, supportive therapist now but it’s a struggle because I have been hurt so many times. I’m holding onto hope though, and I appreciate you sharing your journey. Makes me feel less alone.


Hi Findingme
Welcome to EFB ~ You have certainly found the right website. I have written so much about what you are asking. I was so mixed up about ‘the truth’ and what that truth really was. In this site I used examples from my own life and my journey to illustrate how I looked at things through a new grid of understanding; a more truthful grid than the one that I had where I was always wrong, always the problem, etc. I have overcome dissociative identity disorder and have emerged into an understanding of what it is to be present and to face what IS real.
I am gald you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks, GDW. You’re totally right, those posts were out of this world. Personally, I always thought that EFB was a place to go beyond the blanket self-justifying excuses that all abusive parents make, about how “they did the best they could,” and “nobody’s perfect.” Phrases that take no responsibility for the factual effects of their actions and completely invalidate children. It’s unfortunately rare that someone will come out and say that yes, I should have done better by my children because they had an absolute right to better treatment, just like I did when I was a child.

I will never validate abusive parents who are not remorseful and who are in fact continuing to abuse their children as we speak. And that is not because I’m some mental case who is just “triggered” while people who are really healed can see that judgmental, authoritarian parenting is great. The way teenagers are typically treated in our society is extremely abusive, and I find it disgusting that people would blame and shame homeless youth with “personal responsibility” but make blanket excuses for parents. And yes, I do believe in changing the world and the way children and young people are treated.


It is so extremely invalidating to see people defending this sort of behavior. It takes me back to that time when I was a teenager, and people that I tried to tell about what was being done to me would just issue automatic defenses for my mother and try to see things from her side and proclaim that I am the problem. That this stuff is just “normal,” and I’m the wrong one for not tolerating it. People would pretend to be sympathetic to me but stop short at the idea that I had any sort of rights, because I was a teenager, and society collectively rolls their eyes at people that age, shames and blames them for everything they don’t like about the world. Clearly I shouldn’t have come back and read more of this thread, as it’s toxic for me and I’m not going to keep from responding if people leave messages criticizing me for objecting and saying that standing up to your abusive parents is also abuse. I didn’t expect to run into this here, but there it is. Oh well.


Hey, All! great post, again, Darlene! I like the title, especially. It gives hope that we may gain emotional health when we reach the other side! The information in the post itself is quite valuable and affirming!
I just lost a long post had written here, typing from a hotel WiFi (30 minutes from the Canadian border, I am! Loving this cold and snow…)
So, I just wanted to say that I feel I am moving along the right path, as I am no longer considering all the “whys” of why these people treat me poorly, think their status in the pecking order is above me, I am just cutting the cord. They are out. Feed your unhealthy anger addictions and narcissism elsewhere. And have a nice day while doing so. Or not. It doesnt really matter to me. Because the less you are “in my life”, the healthier my good relationships become.
I am with my boyfriend, his kids, their friends at a nice ski resort, having a great time. I am learning to snow board, no matter how stupid i look, or how long it takes me! Actually, I watched other beginner snow boarders on you tube, and it looks like we are all on the same page. So I take that back about me looking stupid. It is just how the unsupportive past associates would judge me.

“It all started in childhood when I believed that rejection is death ~ fear of rejection becomes a survival instinct”. How true, Darlene! Thinking back to being 4 yrs old, and tied up. Hearing the trucks on the newly developed road behind my house. I had never heard or seen trucks–tractor trailors before, and my childish mind thought they were some sort of dinosaur, that could eat me. My abuser was the only one who could save me from them. How I tried to fit into her mold, so this would not happen.
But now I see, that it is all predetermined, that I would never be accepted. So, I guess, dont accept me. But dont expect to see me, or talk to me, or be privy to what is going on in my life. Which is really not so bad, at times!


I have on other websites, support groups, and will now say it here, it’s amazing how although the characters names are different, the stories are the same. No matter the abuse, who did it, who it was done to, It never ceases to amaze and sadden me that Narc’s perpetrate such horrible abuse to their children, spouses, and such. I just read on my way, post 148, and when I read: “…I was always terrified for any of them to see me naked because they would laugh and point out every flaw / imperfection so I would feel insecure and humiliated. ” My gosh, I used to shower in my underwear and bra because of that very same reason. I am sad that anyone of us had to go through this, and sad that there are still kids that are growing up this way. I sure hope that this syndrome/disorder finally becomes as well understood as being raised in an alcoholic home. (I don’t mean that to sound silly, but, I wish…)


Hi Alaina and Caden!
I am just beginning to read through the comments, and so identify with what you are both going through.
I also am realizing that my sister will in no way provide me with equal respect, nor allow me a relationship with her children. But, as Darlene has pointed out, the rejection (as an equal person) has already happened. And I refuse to continue on in an inequal relationship.
It is painful to have to let my niece and nephew go, as well. But, again, they are already gone! I was never included in their lives, except for the perfunctory Christmas gift, but I decided this year to do away with that meaningless gesture. It seems mean, on one hand, but Iam not going to perform and live out hte limtied role I have been assigned.
Once, at a family reunion weekend, my niece gravitated towards me–wanted to sit near me, talk to me, ride in the car with me. My mother was the key person in making sure that nver happened. We were leaving a restaurant, and my niece said “I want to ride in Aunties car, back to the hotel.” Well, my mother RAN across the parking lot, and practically threw herself into my car, so she would not be “unsupervised” with me. She then preceded to keep up a meaningless stream of blather, so I could not converse with my niece.
The whole system is sick.
Someone mentioned about not being informed about a party, until 6 hours before it occured! I can empathize with this. The same sister, has now taken to planning and controlling as many family parties as she can, at her house. The last time or two we have been elsewhere, in a “party” situation, I stood up to her abusive behavior and language, as well as her 14 year old son. She is not allowing any of that again!! So, I choose not to attend. I did inform her, that I would be planning my fathers birthday party in April, as that matters to me, and I would inform her of the details. Whether my mother messes that up, remains to be seen. However, if the choice is to have the party at her sick dysfunctional house, I will not be attending. Sad, of course, but I am no longer playing the part to which I have been assigned.
It is sad, that no one in the family came downstairs to check on you, and that your mother did not even ask you why you had not attended the party. But, it gives you a clearer picture how to handle them in the future! Good luck getting out of your mothers house and on your own. I hope so much that you will get to do that! Continuing to engage in heathy self care will see you through!


I find it is my natural inclination to want to explore about “them” (them being my parents, them now being anyone who I am inclined towards)…I want to understand them….but the fact is in the end, their inability to love me is all that matters. I need to stop getting into their heads. I can’t fix my wound from my Narcissist and Unavailable Father and my Judging and Unsympathetic mother through anyone else. The only thing that knowledge helps me to do is to recognize whenever a “pattern” shows up, why it is there….but I have the great opportunity in front of me to claim my future and change the terms and rules of engagement. I get to define myself for who I am today….and for that I am grateful.


I am glad you spoke up. Your feelings are totally valid. It hurts to be triggered, especially when you feel silenced, because being silenced is what we’ve dealt with all our lives, and it feels like re-abuse.

I want to respect your desire to move on, so I’ll make sure this is my last post re: this topic. I did want to respond to Caden though.

I think it’s a good point you make about looking at the why of triggers, tracing them. I seem to be triggered so often lately, as I become more aware.

Thanks all,



Thank you so much for your words of support. Just knowing that you took the time to write me a message means a lot. Thank you for believing in me!

Janie, I can relate to the family dynamics you describe. I am so aggravated tonight thinking about my family dynamics and alliances. FOO members talk about me, ask about me rather than directly talking to me, if there is a distance between me and someone because of some crappy exchange they judge me negatively based on one-sided gossip and hearsay. I am the one seen as “the problem”, or “something started again” because of me. So convenient to have a scapegoat.

These are people who say and do crappy things (or it’s neglect – what they don’t say or don’t do), then I respond with anger or distancing or whatever, and then of course I’M THE ONE doing something wrong.

There is a clique, and I am not in it. At Christmas my whole family was laughing and chatting about one of my relatives problems she was having. They recounted the story with hilarity, who she called for help, what she did to solve the problem, how many times she called, etc. etc. It was easy to see everyone was aware and involved except me. I knew nothing about it. This was a relative I used to be close to, but not anymore.

I am fed up and tired of feeling hurt. I wish I could just turn off these torn-up hurt feelings and detach.


Light, I am sorry you are hurting over FOO treatment! I know, it is sad when you were close to someone, and family politics moves them away from you.
The relative your family was all laughing and talking about over Christmas? Was it mean spirited? Whenever someone does something outside of my family’s narrow frame of acceptable, it is ripped apart and dissected, like an unfortunate insect.
Or was it just, that cute/wacky Aunt so and so. It hurts to be left out of the story. It hurts to feel on the outside!
My mother did her best to block me from direct contact with my niece and nephew, then tries to feed me these little stories about them–all of her choosing, like a press release, very controlled. Now I just say, thats nice, and I change the subject. Dont ask any questions.
Just typing these things makes me want to go even lower contact with my NM………….


Hi Caden,
I just wanted to say that though I wasn’t triggered the way you were, I understood why you were and my heart goes out to you. My own impression of the situation (which may or may not be correct) was that of mutual confusion on the parts of both mother and son. Of course, it isn’t a son’s responsibility or obligation TO his mother to know what’s gone wrong in the way she has treated him, in that it was her job to be the parent and as a child you can’t know what a parent should have been—whatever happens is your normal, as Darlene always points out. That said, I believe a child’s healing will only come through his eventual understanding of his/her experience, whether that comes by his/her own investigation into the past or through the parents’ actions to help the child through their own quest. I feel that it was right that you spoke up, to be true to your own feelings and experience, though she was not in a place to hear criticism. Perhaps she will take it with her for future consideration, whatever part of it is, or might be, applicable. I say this with understanding and empathy in that I’ve often thought in the course of this process, “God, I’m glad I don’t have kids,” because I feel like it would be so tough to have to be in the midst of all this work, exhaustion, pain, and have the responsibility of motherhood… it would be impossible to be even a decent mom when caught up in all the drama especially…. but if you have kids, you have kids and you then have as much responsibility to them, to working through your issues so you can BE a mother to your child, as you do to yourself and your own needs. But all this takes time, work, dedication and CHOICE. My own mom got stuck somewhere in her process and stayed there for over 15 years. My hope (perhaps more for her than for myself at this point) is that the words I have finally been able to articulate through my own work to understand will eventually get through her defences—that her love and desire to have her child in her life will force the cracking of her facade/denial, etc… That is the ideal, anyway, what I hope a mother would do. Do I expect it to happen with my own mother? No. I was “wanted” but not loved. Love means a willingness to face the truth, whatever it may be, because the thought of losing your child is too great for it not to break your defences…. And so it is good that you spoke up for your feelings. You were triggered for a reason, though of course only the son knows exactly his own experience in this situation. I didn’t come to the exact conclusion you did in your initial response, but I certainly felt something…. it is between them, though, mother and son, how things move forward. No one but them can figure it out or do the relationship for them. But it is good, though, that you spoke for you because that’s what you needed to do, and I’m sorry if you felt silenced in your experience of this. Each of us has a right to our experience and our pain.

This whole thread made me think about triggers and has allowed me to give time to my own experience here in that regard. What I realized is how I have been bothered by certain kinds of comments. Times when readers are speaking about the difficulties with their families (abusers) and then turn around and talk about their great relationship with their own children, saying that if their abusers were so right about them, why is it that they have this great relationship with their own children, why do their own children love them so much if they’re so unloveable like their abusers claim them to be? I realized that when I read comments like these and was triggered, I had an immediate (half-conscious) suppressing voice telling me I had no right to be triggered, that I was wrong, and then I would disconnect from the comments (and myself). Now, looking back, I can reconnect to myself and see how I felt. I felt like that child locked up in a small room with no windows and no doors, pounding my fists on brick walls, begging to be seen, to be heard. You see, I was the “good daughter”. My mom and I had a “great relationship.” We never fought. We did all kinds of things together. She prided herself on her parenting. I lived locked in a statue that was sculpted by her and her need to assert her story against her mother. I’d get triggered and that child inside me would want to yell: “Stop it! Pay attention! I DO NOT exist to prove to you that your family is wrong about you, that you are in fact loveable. NOR do I exist to prove to yourself that you are not your mother. I am not you. I am ME. I need you to treat ME as ME, not as how YOU wished YOU had been treated when you were little because I am not YOU. I am ME and I have different needs. And first and foremost, I need YOU to PAY ATTENTION. I need you to be here—-right here, right now, SEEING ME.”

Now, sometimes that response is triggered but not necessarily applicable to the situation at hand—-that reading further, deeper, into the comments I sense that in fact the relationship between mother and child is good (e.g. when I first came here, even Darlene speaking about her now healthy relationship with her children would trigger this response in me, and I’d have to read more before I trusted and understood the difference between my own experience and what was being talked about). Sometimes, though, that response is triggered because, I believe, it IS applicable. I’m slowly coming to recognize what is healthy and good and what is not… and that is good. It seems to be all about SEEING. If you can see, if you are seen…. it makes all the difference.

Just my thoughts…

xo, Alaina


Hi Janie,
I’m so sorry for the situation with your family, how you’ve been vilified and shunned, rejected, and that because of that, you have not been able to have the relationship with your niece (and nephew) you wish you could have and that she clearly also wishes she could have with you. It is so sad to have these relationships lost in the crosshairs. My own situation is easier than yours in one sense, in that I’m not being kept from my nephew—my brother wants me to be an aunt and does include me—so that I don’t have to deal with direct action against me. He sided against me in the past and I ended up cutting off from him for a year. He had a son and I really, really wanted to be an aunt. I had grown strong enough to try again to see if I could do a relationship with him so that I could also be an aunt to his son (as well as a sister), which I also think his son deserves, but what that has meant is complete silence on the subject of the past and my own life experience. I couldn’t live in the anxiety/tension of that, and it wasn’t fair to me—I have lived my entire life in that silence—so I had to speak. So in that sense, though, it was harder to decide to speak up—because there wasn’t direct, overt action against me (i.e. no “attacks”); I had to decide I was worth breaking the silence, even though things were more than amicable vis-a-vis being an auntie.

Thank you so much for your comments way at the beginning of this post! It’s amazing to feel seen and heard and know now that this is not some anomaly, that I am very much visible, that what I say, what I’ve experienced is real, tangible, an absolute, solid truth that on a grander scale cannot be denied, regardless of my family’s blindness. Many, many thanks. xo, Alaina


I also wanted to add to my set of comments to Caden about motherhood being a responsibility—I think it’s also a privilege to see a child grow into the world, helping them along the way to become who they are… and a responsibility to get yourself to a place in your life where you are truly able to recognize that privilege and be that mother. I wished that my words to my own mother could have been seen as instigation and inspiration to get on with her work (that she did begin but never finished), because speaking up against someone’s actions is not equal to speaking up against them, their true inner spirit that deserves to live and thrive just the same as their child’s spirit. I have love for my broken family but do not have love for the actions that broke me…. much love to all here… xo, A


Janie, the relative was my niece and she was at the dining table too. They were all happily recounting the story of her maintenance problem and how many phone calls they made to each other, who talked to whom, and how they helped her. It was a positive exchange between all of them, lots of laughs, and something I knew nothing about.

I am so angry about family politics. Smashing plates angry (figuratively). I am furious about being marginalized, left out, and gossiped about so that the gossipers vent and bond and create alliances against me. The main gossiper (sibling) will describe an unpleasant interaction she had with me – in my view some unpleasantness started by her – then she’ll spread this exchange around, filled with half-truths and putting herself in the best possible light of course. I’ll be viewed as “Bad Light” and somehow it’s my fault. These inaccuracies are told, conclusions and judgments are made, and the end result is that people pull back from me. This includes nieces and nephews who follow their parents lead. There are a few positive interactions thrown in which adds to making it so difficult to find my footing and figure out what level of interaction I want with them.

I am furious that I didn’t get the support re: sexual abuse; rather my siblings (and then their children) rallied around my mother (who was at best unpredictable in her support for me – generally not so) and they even rallied around my father the sexual abuser!

All those things that have been discussed here….relatives who literally block conversation by running to the car to intervene…that kind of thing has happened to me.


Thanks for your comments. I agree that it is invalidating when abuse of any kind is defended. I wish that this site was the perfect place but in reality the comments from individuals are a reflection of the beliefs society holds. As I have said before, the only problem I EVER have here is when a commenter says thier child is the problem. As in the real world, people rush to the defense of the wrong people. But I think MORE people in this case saw the truth and that is hopeful. Even the parent in this case truly considered everything that you said to her. And that is the process. As a parent there was a process for me when it came to parenting my kids in the new system and it is okay to be in that process. As for my part in this, I wish I was able to keep up with everything on this site and make it a perfect place but those days are long gone. I do the best that I can.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Janie
Sounds like you are having a fantastic time and you sound great in your resolve to keep going forward!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Raven
That is my hope too ~ it isn’t silly at all. That is why I do this!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Katie
Thanks for sharing that positive bit!! I have a few of those natural inclinations (which I refer to as my ‘default mode’) and awareness of how they work and where they have their origin helps me overcome them and they become less and less powerful in my life!
Hugs, Darlene


My next post talks about the whole ‘family dysfunction’ thing and how it made me feel.
The good thing about being ‘fed up’ is that it motivated me for change. Change in the way that I responded to ‘them!’ and that has been a very very good thing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Alaina
Very good highlights in your comments today! This process is one that although we come together here, (and other places) the healing journey is pretty lonely and each person has an individual process. I have learned to welcome the triggers as clues to something I am ready to hear or face. I could relate to your responses to hearing about people’s great relationships with thier own children too. My mother had both sides of the dysfunction in our relationship and not all of it was ‘bad’ but the good doesn’t cancel or make up for the bad. That was one of the hardest truths for me to comprehend in this journey. I am looking forward to your comments on my next post. I highlight those feelings of insignificance using my father as the example. It has a focus on the passive abuser.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Light,
You have a right to be angry and furious about what happened to you.
Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Thanks, Darlene! I look forward to the post! I definitely know insignificance! I think the thing that gets to me the most these days is how much I gave up myself to care for my family—their needs and wants, to be everything they wanted me to be, to live in the image of their perfect, happy, healthy family—but when I needed them, they would not give up on their ways to do what was necessary to help, even when I had a breakdown and even now all these years later, capable of articulating my truth so that they have every reason to know what happened and have made it clear that recognizing the truth is the only way we can do a relationship. It’s jaw-dropping when I stand aside and look on as if I’m an outsider, but at the same time, from the inside, it’s exactly what happened my whole life, so it isn’t really. I said I love them and that’s true—I have love and compassion for them—but it’s like any unrequited love; when you face the fact that the feelings aren’t reciprocal and probably never will be, and that you are indeed loveable and deserve to be loved, you pull out and take care of your own heart. You’re right that the good doesn’t cancel out the bad. Sometimes I wish that weren’t true as much as I imagine my family wishes that weren’t true. I think there’s a part of me that is still hanging onto the rails—I’m talking about emotional separation. I left on the surface level when I cut ties the first time and really haven’t had any kind of relationship with them since then, but I was still so caught up in guilt and all the “stuff” that I was really not separate at all… I want to give myself full, unencumbered permission to live free of them, to go on my way living the life I was meant to live. I feel like I’m a few breakthroughs short of this… which is amazing in itself but, gosh, I want to get there! I want all the chains to break!


I think the question is why do I continue to love them? I understand why I have loved them. I carried their pain. I know they are victims—I know it intimately, not just in theory. I have felt so personally their own pain. Even when I cut off the first time, I felt to a crippling degree the pain they’d have of losing their daughter (because I was very much “wanted”)—and it wasn’t just me feeling guilty for going against them but in fact very much empathy for their loss. But now everything is spelled out, on the table. I was their victim and I’ve given them a choice. It wasn’t at their expense. In all my communication, love and compassion was continuously present and offered; all I was asking was for the same given in return by recognizing my experience, but they wouldn’t. How can I love people who do that to me? Before, I can understand it but now, it’s like Pam is always talking about—willful ignorance. I don’t think I can love them anymore. I don’t think it’s possible, except in a kind of generalized love you can have for all human beings. An “I wish you well” kind of love. The choice they have made is about them and their issues and their deficits and only they can fix that. I know that I’m worth loving, I know that I’m worth changing for, even if they don’t, and that’s really what counts….

A friend I went to school with (who published a book in the fall and I just wrote to congratulate… a bit late) wrote me this: “Now, let me congratulate YOU. What you have done is such a brave and difficult thing to do. However, all I can say is that you have chosen your own emotional health and wellbeing over that of your family. It’s exactly the right thing to do—to put yourself first, to surround yourself by those who love and appreciate you and to chart your own course. There is absolutely nothing wrong and everything right about you. You are authentic, open, compassionate and talented. You deserve everything good in life.” …it was so sweet, and she is absolutely right and it’s great to know there are people in the world like this—here at EFB but also outside of here as well. (And, as far as I know, she doesn’t have the background of abuse.)


Hi Darlene,

I’m a long time reader and first time commenter. I’ve read over a lot of the comments on this post and want to communicate some things that I hope will be helpful for anyone who sees value in being part of the community here.

I get paid $27.50 an hour to play piano at a ballet studio, work that doesn’t save anyone’s life, much less change it. You do all this incredible work and none of us in this community give you any kind of hourly wage… even though you work so hard and so lovingly to keep the community aspect of EFB as safe and caring as possible. How I see it is like this- even though you give so much to maintain this kind of community, it really isn’t healthy for us to expect that it will be perfect, nor to rely on the perfection of it for the success of our own personal healing. Not only does that put unfair pressure on you, it also puts us in a vulnerable position that could compromise our own journey. It could rob us of the growth that is available to us at all times regardless of the imperfections of other people on the road (which includes me).

You cannot be expected to guarantee that no one will be hurt or triggered by what other’s say here. I think that, if we who find so much help here can try to focus on the amazing gift of the truths at EFB (in the FREE posts alone!), pick and choose who we want to interact with in the comments, and not be too dependent on the nature of the community to impact our growth, it would really be so much healthier for us all. Nothing is perfect in this world, but there is still so much good that we can hold on to and benefit from. And you offer it in spades.

Darlene, I just want to thank you for all of this. It truly is an incredible gift.


Hi Grateful Reader
Welcome to EFB. Thank you for your encouragement and support. I appreciate the way that you express yourself here.
Thank you so much for your comments.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene, Thank you for the supportive comment! i am still a bit angry, as my comments probably show, but I have so much good coming into my life, it makes sense to focus on that! The anger seems to ebb and flow, and that is okay.
Light, I can sympathize with you there, about stories being told, and half truths being passed along, key points and responsibility for self left out! That seems to be how the dysfunctional narcissists operate! I am just backing away, and letting the chips fall where they may. I will not argue their nonsensical points, rehash past issues, etc. I will just see how it shakes out, who still wants a connection with me!

I am now dealing with a narcisistic childhood “chum” that connected with me on Face book, whom I had to block. She had a way of twisting things around as well. She actually planned the high school reunion a few yrs ago, though she changed schools in 8th or 9th grade, moving to a different area of the state.(Guess it didnt go well in the new school?) I had a bad feeling, and didnt go. We were then bombarded with pictures of this woman, and a few other classmates, in different poses, closeups of hind sides, and these women with their arms around just about every guy there. I got a sick feeling and knew something was wrong with her. She also asked me to provide a false reference for a nursing position, as not one supervisor or co-worker would provide her with one where she worked. Sounds more suspicious, eh? She also created two groups on FB, and separated the elite group, which included some of my real childhood friends, but did not include me. She also posted sometimes hourly photos of her teenage daughter, after being in a serious car accident, in traction, hooked up to IVs, looking unwell, I believe, for sympathy. Her son begged her to stop, but I noticed she just deleted his comments!Lastly, I believe she stalked me on posts in groups about dysfunctional family recovery, leaving glib comments like, C’mon, your parents are older now, forgive and forget. and, My parents were much worse!
Boy, that seemed like a dysfunctional, narcissistic person, so I blocked her.
1. Separating and splitting people, so she remained at the center.
2. Amoral, asking me to lie, and, an inability to get along with others, as evidenced by lack of reference
3. Conceit and preoccupation with body image, with all the inappropriate photos at the reunion. How many times did we need to see a closeup of her skinny hiney? Once was too much, actually.
4. Lack of boundaries, following my posts, seeing what I was up to. Insensitive and judgemental.
5. Using her daughter as an object, to get sympathy, pity and attention.

She made a brief reappearance, petitioning a male friend we had in common, alluding to the fact that I may have blocked her, no idea why, and could he please let me know about a girls reunion coming up? She would appreciate it, oh so much! Boy, she sure missed me!He forwarded the message to me, and it was sickeningly sweet towards him, dripping with manipulation. I then thanked Mike for relaying the message, asking him not to concern himself with it, I would let her know if I could make it. i didnt respond, so she tried again, with a female former classmate, whom I thanked for the message, and told her I would let her know if I could make it.
But we see what is happening here. Poor “Elizabeth”,she is so sweet, and Janie is so mean, defriending for no reason, Poor, poor, Elizabeth!
About 8 months of peace, now, she has highjacked
her victimized daughters page to message me, saying she demanded an explanation, she was completely in the dark about what had happened. And also, I had a nerve to block her, not just defriend her (so she could still keep a thumb on me, by watching my comments, me thinks), I was harsh and extreme!!! Then she gave explicit instructions on how I was to contact her, not through the poor daughters page, but at such and such an email address,and thus and thus phone number.
What I believe has happened, is she has surmized that i have formed healthy reconnections with others,and am developing relationships with these people, without any involvement or control on her part. Wow, she doesnt matter! Now, we all know the drill, she will try to split me away from them, as she did with a really close high school friend, whom she delusionaly called her “bestie”, when I do not recall her on the scene, with our little group, ever!
I am not responding in any way. It remains to be seen if she is going to be successful in punishing me for dropping her from my FB life.
But, luckily, through this group, and what Darlene has taught us, I am able to step back, and analyze the situation; not get drawn in, or react from emotion. in fact, reacting or respondng in any way would give her an “in”, and she could argue with me, and more importantly, present her case to my current friends there.
Thanks for letting me vent, and recap what I have thought through! It felt good to sound it out!

Best wishes to All,

P.S. I did not like this girl when I met her briefly in middle school. I was with my sister, and she said, ‘I knew you were sisters, You look alike. You both have small heads, and eyes that are too big for them.” LOL, why did I even reconnect with her in the first place? lol


Just stopping by to apologize for my long rant earlier this morning. I couldn’t sleep,and had nothing to do but type.
I think what was bothering me the most is, why does making friends always seem to come down to this? Even Facebook friends? Why am I always in this situation, being bothered by a narcissistic bully. Why are we all? And knowing that I may lose a few friends that I like to chat with, and are getting to know, is painful. I feel like any human connection I try to make is squelched.



Hi Janie
No need to apologize. We need to get out what needs to get out. 🙂
Controlers/manipulators HATE it when anyone draws a healthy boundry. It’s as though thier ‘life blood’ is seeping away. They seem to ‘feed’ on anyone who doesn’t stand up to them. They get their identity from it. It is just the other side of the lie that we lived in for so long.
Great to read about your boundrys!
Hugs, Darlene



I got a lot out of reading your post. You articulated some of the dynamics that happen in my family, and it helped me to further understand what my situation is. So, I Thank You!


Thanks Darlene.



Reading your post (176) brought up lots of memories for me. I have spent so much time, effort, energy, and money on unhealthy, narcissitic friendships. It is no wonder – they were a spin-off of what I knew so well from my FOO.

My place in my FOO was the bottom of the totem pole and I chose friendships where I had to glom onto them and be grateful they allowed me in the group at all. I knew how to get in a dysfunctional friendship by being a chameleon and indespensable to them. I always worked after school so I could have money to buy birthday gifts. I acted extremely interested in their lives & families (this was not reciprocated). I was so needy for belonging and acceptance in a group of peers. If I stayed home alone with my FOO (which would have been preferable by me) I was heckeled by my sisters / mother about why I didn’t have any friends, what was wrong with me, etc. etc. Never mind that it was not safe to bring friends home because they would humilate me in front of them. Staying at home was worse than being used / abused by a group of dysfunctional high-school kids with no ambition in life.

This pattern progressed throughout the next phases of my adult life. By God’s Grace I escaped out of the house to a college with a student loan and made it a point to immediately attach to the most dysfunctional people so they wouldn’t judge me and my backgraound so harshly. I was programmed that my thoughts, feelings, opinions, interests, etc were of no value. I learned how to be a “good listener” and tell others exactly what I thought they wanted to hear to gain approval / acceptance. I would be the boss’s favorite employee. I would work late; I would do their work so they could leave early; etc. I would be the professors favorate student (knew just the right question to ask so they would feel I was inerested in their area of expertise). In reality I had no interest, but a percentage of the grade was on class participation so I thought I would get a better grade by kissing up to them. If I met someone with a child the same age as mine, I asked all sorts of questions about them & their families (rarely reciprocated). When my children hit school I bought the most expensive teacher’s gifts for Christmas so they would think highly of me. I sent in any donation they asked for. I could have been voted most generous, wonderful mother of the year. Always so complimentary of the teacher so they would like me.

The rejection, ridicule, and critcisms from my FOO made me a sitting duck for narcissistic friendships & relationships. I was certain if people knew the real me they would reject me and my self-esteem was already so fragile. I didn’t think I could survive it.

So here I am today facing the reality of what I have done and unraveling all my old thought patterns and behaviors. The journey has been lonely but well worth it. I do not have my FOO and friends from the past cheering me on along the way. The healthier I get, the meaner they get. It does hurt, but I am finally accepting that it is better to be alone than to be with a friend who makes me feel badly about myself. I didn’t know if I could survive all the rejection before. Now I am convinced that not only can I survive the rejection, betrayal, gossip, etc, but I will be better off in the long run. I have read so many other posts that have concluded with “My only regret is not doing it sooner.” I guess I had to be in enough pain that I was willing to risk the pain of being alone and having to start over.

One Day At a Time


Hi Darlene and Pam-

I don’t know what to say anymore. Obviously a lot came up for everyone over this whole interaction/conflict.
I know I said I would be done talking about it, but now I get the sense that my voice is not something that was/perhaps is wanted, and my voice is something I am working hard to value. I am not sure what to do/say next time I feel triggered/unsafe on a forum. I also do not understand why it was ok for Caden to speak up when triggered, but when I did it, it was not.
Is that because Caden went directly to TJ, and I just made a comment to no one in particular (triangulation)?

If I did say something that greatly hurt/offended either of you (which I believe I did after reading the words inappropriate, discounting and starting up again on the posts), I would like to know
how I can bring these kind of things up in the future where I feel like my voice is heard and respected when I feel unsafe/uncomfortable on a discussion, while at the same time, not causing that hurt/trigger/offending.



I am not sure why you feel that your voice is not wanted here? I thought my response to you was validating. (that I didn’t invalidate you and that I acknowledged that I understood what you were saying.) I just wanted to make sure that you (and others) read all the comments in this thread because I thought through those comments there was a clear picture. I am sorry that you felt silenced. I believed that TJ was trying to sort this out in a responsible way and I validated that too. She did not see my side either and she has left the site. It isn’t that I didn’t agree with Caden or with you G. ~ I did and I totally understand where you are coming from. My first comments to TJ explained how my own mother said those things to me. Then I also saw that TJ was trying to figure her stuff out. I want healing for everyone and it is okay to be IN the process. If the victims who were in the cycle stop the cycle on BOTH sides of the cycle, healing happens much faster.
You didn’t offend me. The week before this problem happened, there was another similar one on another post. Several people left over that one too. This past week I have had so many comments on the blog that I missed welcoming a new person on an older post who then opend a dispute against me in pay pal saying that she didn’t get the service she paid for. (she had given a donation) and I had to sort that out with Paypal. Even though she marked it as a donation, I had to explain to paypal that people don’t pay me to comment back and that this is not a “membership site” and I had to give her a refund. I just have not had time to address everything and answer everyone. I was trying to avoid opening this back up again and maybe that was wrong on my part. I was trying to ward off what I have seen happen here in the past. I am sorry that you felt silenced because of that.

I don’t think that there is a way to ensure that we never offend anyone else. People are people.
Again, I am very sorry to anyone here who felt silenced because I wanted to stop this conversation. My motive was certainly not to harm.


I have published a new post ~ this one is about passive abuse and how the message with this type of abuse is the same as the message we get from any other type of abuse.
Here is the link: http://emergingfrombroken.com/emotionally-unavailable-father-the-message-of-passive-abuse/
Hugs, Darlene


GDW, I wasn’t offended at all, by anyone. In any event, I’m only a commentor here who has contributed articles, occassionally. This is what I contribute in support of Darlene and this website. I have no control over what is allowed or not allowed. I’ve been triggered in the past by comments but the trigger was about the abuse I suffered in the past and not about what the commentor was saying. It got away from me and I wrote some things I shouldn’t have. It can happen to any of us.

I wasn’t trying to defend one person over another either. Not everything TJ said was perfect, it just didn’t push my triggers in the same way it did others. I heard a mother with an abusive past trying to figure out why things were such a mess with her own child. Some of it was obvious but she won’t get any help if I alienate her and she never returns. I don’t want to say anything to alienate you either. I want my commments to be honest but also, support healing in others. This was such a great conversation up to a point and then it just blew up. I used to be blown up for days, or weeks, even months over painful triggers. Now, I try to face into them and try to figure out why what another person, who was never a part of my life, said could have that kind of effect over me. I think that is what is important about triggers. I know I can’t control what other people say. I’m sorry if anything I said caused you or anyone pain.



Thank you, Darlene! Sounds like a very interesting read! Will hop on over to the new post now………


Hello Darlene,

All you have ever done is good.I for one am glad to have found your site and am pleased when I get a reply,but if not it is not a problem.
Thank goodness for another post!!! BIG HUGS TO DARLENE XXXXXXXXXX


Hi Darlene, Thank you for commenting on my posts a couple of days ago. Never expected, and always appreciated. You do fabulous work here – Very Very Appreciated. I know you fund this site from your own funds, along with some donations. I hope it gets to a point where you get enough donations to cover all of the costs – including your time – regularly.

Right now, this site is helping me transition. To what, I’m not sure, but I am so glad you and others are all here.

Big Hugs, Light

P.S. To those who don’t know this, the yellow “Donate” button is on the right side of the screen toward the top.


Hi Darlene,

That makes total sense. I really appreciate the explanation and now I am able to see the bigger picture of how you are trying to get all of us on a path to healing. I think you are right; people are people and these things happen.


I have no idea how to interpret what has been said. Having said that, I do not know how to go forward and speak here without worrying about it being criticized. I do think I have a right to speak up when triggered, but it is clear from your posts that you do not agree with that. I got a lot of judgement so of course I don’t feel like my opinion is valid when I’m judged.

If it was Darlene telling me to not speak up when triggered, well then I would have to weigh in on how and why she was telling me that, re-evaluate what and how I said what I said, and then make a decision on whether or not this is the right site for me.

I hope that you can at least respect me to the point of leaving this kind of conflict resolution to Darlene in the future. I would never tell you when it is not ok or ok to post or speak up, as I do not head this site. I get the sense that Darlene is just trying to do what will get the most people to the healthiest place possible (I did not understand that in the beginning of this conflict- I was too confused and scared to ‘get it’). But from you I got a lot of indirect judgement, especially regarding posting when triggered. A lot of the phrasing sounded controlling and harsh and invalidating- the kind of thing that makes me not want to talk, words like blowing up, being wrong, discounting others. I know you used the first person, but saying things like “I used to..and it was wrong” or “I hope I never” I know that was a response to me, not yourself. Yeah I’m gonna get angry when I find someone abusive and see others people seemingly ok with/supporting it (I now realize that was not what was happening, but I had to SPEAK UP to have it explained to me- that is not something I could have kept quiet about and understood). The thing that was hardest about that was just that- just as when growing up, I get angry and am immeadiately criticised, silenced, invalidated, and ultimately rejected.

Getting triggered and talking about it is a huge part of the healing process and if I really do feel that bringing things up is going to be judged harshly, it is going to be impossible for me to feel safe, speak up and heal. I want to heal!
Bringing up being triggered was an attempt to try to understand what was going on, both with me and the dynamics of the situation/conflict, which Darlene has explained to me, to further my own healing. Again, often this understanding comes from speaking up, and getting a clarification, then healing occurs.



I just went through everything to see where Pam had interfered because Pam has never been a problem on this site and really does everything to supprort the work I am attempting to do here. The only time that Pam directly addressed you was when your addressed her and I together in your recent comment. I think that you may have misunderstood her comments here that were not actually directed AT you. The way I see it, Pam is expressing to everyone how SHE can get triggered and what that means to her. I honestly think you have misunderstood her intentions.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Light
Thanks!! I appreciate your encouragement! And your little hint to others! 🙂
I have some books/workbooks coming out this year which should help a lot with the income part of things! Lots of changes coming to EFB this next year!
Hugs, Darlene


GDW, I didn’t mean any of those things. I was only trying to say that I’ve gotten triggered in the past and I know what it feels like. I’m not on anyone’s side and I’m not trying to control anything. I totally, missed where TJ said her son was the problem in the first place. So, maybe I was guilty of commenting while not having read carefully enough. I don’t know if I can change your mind, but I had no motive to hurt anyone. The term ‘blow up’ wasnt directed at any one person, I mean the conversation. To me, it seemed fine and then all of a sudden it wasn’t. Perhaps that is because I didn’t read every comment or reach each comment carefully enough. I surely, have no ill feelings toward you and I don’t want to hurt you or make you feel uncomfortable here. I don’t operate that way.




In response to Pam and Darlene,

I guess it is just hard to me to understand how its not a criticism of me. I don’t know if that’s my past or what was said. Right now I only know that I really do not see things clearly.

In any event, I would like to continue on this site, and I would like so badly to heal, if everyone is comfortable with that, because I think I could really start to get better, by seeing the truth.

I’m just not sure what to say going forward.



It is okay to be IN the process… not everything is crystal clear all the time. Remember that it took me about 3 years in the process before I even thought about writing this blog. I had a different blog first and I didn’t want anyone to read it. I was speaking in mental health seminars and didn’t even tell the students about my blog! The sorting out process is the biggest process. I know Pam well enough to know what she was saying was not directed at you.

I am so happy that you are going to continue sharing here on this site! There is so much hope for healing when we look through the lens of truth! My deepest passion and motivation is for everyone to know that and to be able to heal.
Hugs, Darlene


G, I’m not upset at you, at all. I want you to stay.:0)



Haven’t been here in a while. Now seeing a therapist. Been sick with the flu for over a week but feeling little better now. As usual Darlene, right on the money.
I see my therapist for the second time tomorrow. I believe I have found someone very good. I told her about this website and how much it has helped me. She said she was going to check it out. I told my therapist that through this website and other materials I have begun to see through the “grid of understanding.” I also told her the thing I really needed her for was to help me deal with, remove, feel, or whatever is necessary to rid myself of the deep, deep, deep sense of trauma, despair and sadness I have within me. Understanding is the first step, but the healing part….yep….that’s what I need her help with.
Sometimes it feels like I need to literally cry a river of tears, but then again that doesn’t seem like it will be quite enough. Sometimes I think healing means crying a river of tears while someone is validating those tears….I’m not really sure. I do know I have alot of tear. So many I have already cried, but 1000 times more that I have not.
Thanks again Darlene. Nice job.


Hi Connie!
Great that you have found some help that you feel comfotable with! Healing for me was many things including being heard and validated. When someone else validated my pain, I was able to validate it too. I finally ‘heard me’ and that helped so much.
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone ~
I just published a new post about how I was convinced that I was the problem and the ways that belief came out. My mother had a way of reminding me about how she saw me too, which of course got in the way of the truth. Lots of examples of how my mom made sure that MY focus was on MY faults in order to deflect and even justify hers hers. Here is the link;
“Toxic mother daughter relationship ~ when mom says the problem is YOU”
Looking forward to the discussion there;
hugs, Darlene


Being disregarded as an equally valuable humanbeing IS rejection. Darlene you hit the nail of the head…
Recently it has been brought to my mom’s attention that my dad has hurt his daughters by someone other then me. Six years ago I tried to share with my mom somethings that my dad had done. She became quite angry with me completely shutting down anything that I had to share furhter to the subject. She even went as far to say that the therapist that I was seeing has put these things in my head. Her then coming to me now made me so angry that because it was someone else sharing with her something about her husband she then decides to investigate things with me. This was a double whammy of insults. First of all not only did she call me a liar before but did not even honor the hurt or even care about me as HER Daughter putting her husband before me. She is in a sense repeating the same pattern putting someone elses opinion as valid now gives her merit to now ask questions not even acknowledging the past hurt of calling me a liar.
I had contemplated spending the time and emotional energy working through this with her. However, she had also made a comment to me stating that my relationship with my dad now was good and in the context of the conversation it became apparent that she was not really looking to see if I had indeed been hurt but to somehow alivate her fears and was again going to challenge anything I had to say. This was about her not me.
Yes rejection by family (at least in my case) has not changed.

It is so easy at times to default back into that pleasing pattern hoping that at the end of giving EVERYTHING we will find love.

Thanks for that reminder.


Hi Angela
It really hurts to be invalidated over and over again. I know what you are talking about here.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene, and everyone,

I think I’ve just recently turned a small corner regarding my thinking relative to this post. My middle sister, the last person I was hanging onto, has gotten sort of ugly lately. A few days ago I had written her an email trying to explain something that I thought I might have contradicted myself on. After a few exchanges about it, she said, “well, there’s no more clarity than before, and I don’t care about the details”.

This may be a benign statement for someone else. I know everyone here knows the intricacies of reading their family members. It’s like a sixth sense. So, while this might appear benign to others, I knew EXACTLY what it was. She has claimed a couple of times over the past month how much she doesn’t ‘care’, about a variety of things. She’s got it mastered, this healing thing, and I’m still stuck in self pity……that’s what it translates to. She’s also been talking down to me a lot, and being argumentative. After the last claim a few days ago about not caring, I told myself I’m done. I don’t care either then. Why am I biting my tongue and trying not to rub her the wrong way? It doesn’t matter what I say, she disagrees or is indignant about something. So, PFT… be gone!!

It all goes back to exactly what you write about here Darlene. Why did I hold on and let the relationship be sort of ugly?? Fear of rejection. Upon turning this corner with her, I also realized that I’ve still been making everything about “them” rather than me. It’s been okay for them to go no contact to get their heads on straight. I’ve felt guilty about going no contact with my older sister, now my middle one. No MORE GUILT. If I go on a relational hiatus to work on me, and someone has a problem with it, then they’re pretty selfish. So, I am on hiatus….. from everyone almost. Working on me and no longer giving a flip who feels slighted by that. The truth is, I don’t think they have or will miss me. It’s time I joined the ranks….. not caring and not missing them.

Frankly, I feel a little weight lifted. Because both my sisters know the truth and have chosen to ignore it, they’ve become a little toxic to me and my recovery. If there is no contact, no toxicity. I feel freedom with that. Frankly, I hope they leave me alone. The past several exchanges I’ve had with this sister have left me in tears and revisiting that dark place where I don’t even know why I’m here. Afraid to stand up and speak up for myself. From here forward, I am going to try my best to not sugar coat anything, or withhold truth, etc. What do I have to lose right? They’re already gone.

Peace and Love,


You said a mouthful here: “Why am I biting my tongue and trying not to rub her the wrong way? It doesn’t matter what I say, she disagrees or is indignant about something. So, PFT… be gone!!”
That is the thing, there is no reasoning, no being right, (no being heard) and that translated for me into realizing that a one sided relationship is NO relationship.
When I first drew my boundaries, I really believed in my heart that I would be given a chance to be heard because finally I could express myself ~ and when I was still ignored, and still rejected, it was devastating. I had to sort of sit in that ‘devastated’ until I realize the truth about what it actually meant! There is a lot of ‘truth leaking’ in the way that I was treated and it wasn’t about me, it was about them and their character! I was don’t being the scapegoat and the fallguy. And now I am free of the devastated! That truth, the painful awful truth, in the end really did set me free!
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene!! I’ve felt some freedom since the last exchange. My husband, when we spoke about this, says he thinks it is me taking my power back. That was quite a deep thought coming from him, haha!! But, I think he’s right. I’ve sort of been on top of the world the past few days. Freedom feels good. And, freedom not to energize these situations feels amazing. No cowering, no trying to be heard or validated, no worrying about the last impression I made, and was I right or wrong, etc. I’m FREE!!

Peace and Hope,


Hi Mimi
Oh I remember the first time I realized that I was taking my power back! I was stunned… scared and afraid to believe it! It went hand in hand with taking my LIFE back! It is wonderful and it does feel good!
YAY for freedom! Welcome to freedom!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone,
I just published a new post related to the content in this post. The question comes up a lot in this site ~ “what if my parents die”~ its natural to wonder about that when we are having issues with them, but it is a horrible thing when people make that statement against you as an accusation, as though you are such a terrible person for standing up for yourself ~ so I wrote about it. You can read it here: “What if my mother or father dies before we resolve our relationship?”</a
See you there!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi, everyone. I haven’t checked in or responded in a while, but I really am sad and I need to feel connected to people who may understand me. I find so often in the world that I feel as if I don’t fit. I’m sure that all comes from my having been so rejected by both of my parents.

This is such a wonderful topic and has brought up a load of emotion for me.

I just got off the phone with my mother. Damn……she’s 81 years old this year and has the energy of a 40-year-old. In fact, I’m the one who feels old, used up, tired, neglected, and ready to just get it all over with. I cried yesterday. I just sat and cried. How can I be as old as I am and still be carrying the pain of a thousand deaths inside of my heart and soul?

I think sometimes that being such an empath, such an HSP, and such a loving, caring person has done nothing but cause me pain in this life. I am beginning to think that the hyper-empathy is an actual pathology, probably learned behavior from years and years of being parentified, neglected, and abused. But I am SICK OF IT!! I am so sick of having all of this weight of pain inside of me. And it’s not because I haven’t spent money and time in therapy, journaling, reading books, applying what I’ve learned to my life. I have tried and worked and tried and worked, grieved and forgiven, worked some more, grieved some more, hurt some more.

Why hasn’t it all just gone away? I’m still triggered by things. It can be a song, a look on a parent’s face while I’m shopping at the grocery store, an advertisement on TV, a movie, something my husband says, a judgmental look or response, someone forgetting my birthday, a person not responding to a text or voice mail message…….I don’t ask to be triggered, but I get triggered nonetheless.

Pete Walker’s web site is amazing, truly amazing, especially if you’re interested in Complex PTSD and emotional flashbacks. I now understand what emotional flashbacks are. A “normal” flashback usually involves you going right back into a horrible experience, like when a soldier gets swept back into a war incident because he heard a car backfire. He gets taken right back to the event, as if it is happening in the present. It’s a terrifying experience, and to get out of it it, he must use the tools given to him by his therapist, and use grounding techniques, etc.

But an emotional flashback is different. It’s when you have been triggered (often without even knowing you’ve been triggered!)and, as a result, you start to feel the emotions of shame, self-hatred, fear, terror, dread, etc……….but you cannot tie those emotions back to a SPECIFIC incident, nor are you reliving a specific incident of abuse or terror.

You are having an emotional flashback, and Pete Walker talks about healthy ways to help yourself through those. If any of you are interested, you can check out his web site. (I hope it’s okay to say that, Darlene…..:)…….)

In light of what you wrote, Darlene, yes, I do that even to this day. I worry too much about changing myself and “fixing” myself so that my mother and 3 siblings will finally “love” me. Often I’m not aware that I’m attempting to do that, but if I step back, take a moment to reflect, I can see that I am still hung up on not “being good enough.”

I think my having been rejected and abandoned so badly has maybe ruined my ability to ever think straight as if pertains to who I am as a person. I think I will most likely go to my grave never having ever truly connected to who I am, who God intended me to be. I never see the good parts of myself, only the bad. I think I am ugly, useless, unwanted, and unnecessary. I am so, so sorry to say that because I hate that I feel that way. But if I am being honest, I have always felt that way, ever since my earliest memories. I’ve not ever had the experience in life of having anyone really nurture me or mentor me in any way. In fact, I am the one who nurtures and mentors others. That’s all I ever learned. I just can’t seem to do it for myself.

I hurt inside about 90% of the time.

I wish that I could say that what my mother and siblings think doesn’t matter to me. I tell myself that it doesn’t matter, over and over. And yet it still matters. It’s as though I am in a battle with another part of myself. I wonder if that makes sense?

The fear that you talk about, the fear that if you stood up to them that they would drop you like a hot potato, reject and abandon you, is such a deeply rooted fear in me. I battle that belief daily. I see my siblings all accepting our narcissistic mother’s unhealthy behaviors, and they fall all over her, helping her, giving her money and food, taking her places, taking care of her. And it’s as if I don’t even exist. They live close to me, and though they call our mother daily, stop in to see her, take her out to eat, buy her things, give her things, I am ignored.

Until they want something from me.

I know deep down that I don’t matter to them. And because I have always felt unwanted, unimportant, without value, I don’t attempt to go out in the world and make friends or anything, because I don’t expect it to be any different.

Oh, I am so sorry. I just realized how much I’ve written. I am so, so sorry, Darlene. I just needed to pour out my heart.

I think often about writing a letter to my mother, with copies to each sibling. I fantasize about how they would all finally understand the level of pain I’ve lived with all of my life. I fantasize that they will understand how much I’ve loved them and wanted them to love me.

Stupid thoughts. Fantasy is not reality.


Oh, I meant to say that I have often thought about my mother dying. Of course, it would be wonderful to have some “closure,” but I don’t think it’s a very realistic goal for me.

Narcissistic people don’t “get it.” My mother will not ever see what she did to me, how she has been so awful to me in comparison to her other children, how she has triangulated, used, manipulated, ignored, neglected, parentified, abused me. She would never, ever admit to any of it.

And so what would I get from her? Nothing. The same thing I’ve always gotten. No emotional connection whatsoever.

Strange, but she is a complete charmer to other people. They all just love her. She’s extremely talkative (about herself), has no boundaries with others, is overly familiar with people……

I am so unlike her. I’m rather quiet, smart, very open and authentic, very caring, very sensitive to others’ hurts, struggles, and needs. I SEE what she never sees, I NOTICE what she never notices. I never just talk about myself, In fact, I don’t talk about myself much at all. I don’t brag. I don’t blow my own horn. I learned very early in life to only focus upon other people.. My very survival depended upon it. Consequently, not that my children are grown, I haven’t a clue how to take care of myself, or what to do with myself. I am lost. Just lost.

She will, no doubt, live at least into her 90s, she’s that healthy.

I anticipate that I will die within the next ten years or so, that’s how unhealthy I feel physically. I think all of my physical problems can pretty much be tied back into the enormous amount of stress and terror I lived in for the first 18 years of my life.

She’ll be fine. She never suffers. Nothing ever phases her or gets to her. She doesn’t have what I’d call any normal emotional responses to anything in life.

It all seems so unfair to me.

Even if I poured out my heart and soul to her, she would still always love my three siblings more than she loves me.

I guess my knowing that, deep down, is what causes so much of my pain.


Hi Marore,

I’ve had some trying times recently too. I can identify with everything you just said. I wonder if it will ever go away. I am confused. I wonder if my thoughts have actually caused my own pain. Am I responsible for thinking the worst. I know I do that about most people. I know I jump to conclusions, that sometimes don’t play out to be true. I know I cry because it seems there’s no love from my siblings, yet, I wonder if that pain is because I have heaped it on them that they must show love in the same way I show love. I wonder if the pain I suffer from has been manufactured by my own runaway thoughts.

I think I will die young too sometimes. I wonder if I’ll die from suicide. My mother is also pretty healthy, although she did have a colon surgery just yesterday for diverticulitis, and a recent cardiac catheterization. Otherwise, she’s healthy and ideal weight with no cholesterol problems, etc.

My husband and I had a car accident on Sunday. There was a snowstorm where we live. We were stuck there waiting on police officers for three hours. Luckily, his car still ran, and we were warm. I posted pics on facebook. I saw both my sisters on there at different times throughout the day. I assume they saw the pics, because they had commented on other people’s posts. Friends from every direction reached out on FB, and texted me. Both cars were totaled, although, my husband’s still is driveable. The other one was completely smashed. Anyhow, my point….. neither of my sisters did or said anything about the accident, and still haven’t despite having a conversation with one of them since then. I am assuming they saw it on Facebook. I also assume this inaction from them equals no love. They don’t give a damn in my mind. But, it was suggested to me that maybe they just didn’t see it. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. One of my sisters made the trip home to be with my mother yesterday in surgery. Yet, nothing has been mentioned about the car accident. (I just texted her to see if she saw it on Facebook…. only way to know for sure). Anyhow, it doesn’t feel right to me. BUT, am I manufacturing this?? Such confusion lately. I want to run and not look back. My guts tell they both saw it, but, is it in my head? I don’t know. I’ll find out in a few minutes I guess…. if she texts me back.

Anyhow Marore, I’m sorry you’re hurting and in a dark place. I’m familiar with that dark place too. I think we all have been here at some point or another. I’m ready to get out of the hole also. SOOOOOOOOO ready!!

Love to you,


Aw, Mimi, thank you so much. You’ve really had a trying time….I am so sorry about your car accident! Oh my gosh, Mimi……totaled cars! I’m so glad you and your husband weren’t injured. It’s really frightening to be in a car wreck. I can see how you might feel about your sisters not responding to you in love.

I’m glad you have friends who reached out to you on FB…..that’s got to feel pretty good, even if your own family wasn’t there for you. I guess it’s true that maybe they haven’t seen your posts or pictures, yet. But I do understand your feelings.

As for your “manufacturing” it, as you said, I guess I don’t see it that way. I do believe that we can trust our gut feelings, to an extent. If you’ve had enough experience with your family to know that you have felt ignored or overlooked or neglected often enough, then you’re able to recognize it when it’s occurring.

It’s true that we often minimize and discount the hurtful behaviors of others, probably because we don’t want to believe that they really don’t care about what happens to us. Maybe we have narcissistic siblings or parents…….if so, they really don’t care. They care about what happens to THEM, because they are so wrapped up in themselves. Example: my mother will run on and on about anything related to herself, but you could tell her that you were just diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she’d feign slight interest, maybe say, “Aw, that’s bad,” and then she’d go right on talking about the splinter she got in her finger yesterday. Go figure……it’s not normal.

Anyway, whenever you’ve had family members hurt, abandon, reject, ignore, or belittle you often enough, it’s very easy to jump to conclusions or to make assumptions. Whether or not your sisters saw your photos or posts on FB, the fact that you feel hurt tells me that you’ve been hurt before by them. Not once, not twice, but many, many times, I’d wager.

That’s what makes it all the more confusing and painful, I think. We have family members who may occasionally do or say nice things….but who, for the most part, have hurt us. I don’t know about you, but I am wary of people who aren’t consistent. I am wary of people who are hurtful and neglecting. I don’t really want to open up and trust those types of people, even if they are my family members. You may feel the same way, do you?

But the important thing is that you didn’t get injured…..thank goodness!…..and that you are able to talk about your feelings, and that’s a good thing. I guess I needed to talk about how I felt, too. I don’t always feel so down, but I do sometimes. And I think it’s important to acknowledge the truth. I’m all for the truth, in all areas of life.

I hope you get a text back, Mimi. But even if you do, and even if she says she is sorry she didn’t get in touch with you because she was busy (or whatever), you still deserve to feel good inside. Our feelings of well-being shouldn’t be so wrapped up in whether or not our family members treat us well, wouldn’t you agree?

And that’s where I have so much difficulty, at times. I so want them to love me and care about what happens to me! Probably because I love them and care so much about what happens to them…..

I wish that I could move beyond this. I know what you mean about feeling in a dark place. I work very hard to keep on going, to not fall into and stay in the dark place. It’s not always easy….

Again, let me say how sorry I am about your wreck, Mimi. But I am truly glad you got help, that you were able to stay warm in the car until the police came…..(three hours is a long time!)…..and I’m so glad you took time to share with me today. What a blessing for me! I am so appreciative. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.



Thank you for reaching out today too Morare. Sometimes, we just need to be heard and interact with others who understand. And, thank you for your sentiments about the car accident. It was a little trying, but, mostly we sat in the car and thanked God we were all okay. Even the other driver was unscathed.

I do agree that our worth and feelings shouldn’t be so wrapped up in how we’re treated by family, (or anyone really) and on some level, allowing that to define us/me.

She hasn’t texted back yet. I think she’s at the hospital with my mom, so I’m not fretting about not having heard from her yet. I’m supposed to see her tomorrow, so I won’t let that question slide.

I suppose you’re right about our instincts and gut feelings. I have trouble distinguishing between the two at times. I sort of automatically assume my mother is up to “no good”, because she so often has been in life. It’s easier to pin things down with her than with my sisters. I agree also that inconistency is a red flag. And, my sisters are pretty inconsistent.

I read things that say if you’re not getting as much as you’re giving, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the relationship, or walk away altogether. Then, I wrestle with making it all about me and my disappointments in the lack of effort on their part. I don’t want it to be all about me and I have so much trouble deciding if I’m doing that or not.

I woke up this morning with the thought in my head; a memory of my mother having a hysterectomy some 30 years ago. I remember that my oldest sister didn’t take off work for the surgery and my mother had a total meltdown because she wished to emphasize to my sister that it was a really “big” procedure, and she was consumed by the idea that my sister didn’t even come to be with her on that day. I then thought…. hmmmm, I don’t want to be my mother in any sense of the word. I began to think this is what I’m doing with the car accident. I haven’t had a meltdown, or even mentioned it to anyone except my husband and a friend or two, but, WOW….. how mindboggling to realize or to wonder at least….. am I my mother???? YUCK!!! More thoughts to grapple with. UGH!!

Thank you so much for reaching out today too and offering clarity. You have also blessed me much today!!



Hey, Mimi.

What you’ve written makes so much sense. I understand what you’re saying. I don’t want to become like my mother, either.

But I happen to think that being in a car accident, especially one in which the car was totaled, IS a pretty big deal! I mean, if it happened to one of my siblings, I’d be calling them, checking on them, allowing them to talk about it, to get their feelings out of their system……and I’d offer support, perhaps offer to make them a meal or something…..and I’d probably continue to check in with them a while. I don’t know……maybe I’m strange or something. Maybe I have too much empathy.

I don’t think your wanting people in your family to show concern and support is a bad thing at all. I thought (and I could be wrong) that that’s what family is all about……or should I say, what it SHOULD be all about?

I also happen to think that having a hysterectomy is a pretty big deal, too. And I’ve known many people who have had them….but your mom’s expectations do seem pretty unrealistic. I mean, if I was having a hysterectomy, I wouldn’t expect my daughter to take off work and come spend time with me. I would probably just go and have the surgery and be happy if my children contacted me, or sent me a card or a flower or even just called me. I’m not a demanding person, though. I wouldn’t have done what your mom did, and I don’t imagine that you would, either. Yes, I do know what you mean about not wanting to be like your own mom!!

I really appreciate what you said about my being a blessing to you, too, Mimi. Oh my goodness, that really makes my day so much brighter. I’m so glad now that I got my courage up and came here today to post what I did, even though I was worried because I was afraid that I sounded so negative and discouraging. I really don’t want to discourage others from their own healing journeys. But I am only human……and I do still feel a lot of pain from all the childhood abuse. It’s just the truth.

I hope you have a wonderful day, Mimi. I really do.



Hi Marore,
I wanted to say that I agree with what you said about hyper-empathy and actually wonder if it was a survival skill/coping mechanism…? I look back and see how times when I was in a heightened state of pain, my empathy would sometimes skyrocket. If someone was hurting me, I would feel how they were hurt and would feel for them—this substituted for love perhaps? The roots of codependency, for sure. An automatic process that seemed to happen. Perhaps in order for me to feel like I was loved, to convince myself that I was loved, because I couldn’t face the possibility that in fact I was not loved at all, I’d need to find a way to be okay that they were doing this to me and hyper-empathy allowed that maybe…? If you can crawl into their shoes, feel their pain, hurt for them, dull the boundaries and complicate the feelings, lose yourself in empathy for the other, it buffers the very simple, clear and very painful, scary (and, particularly as a child, confusing) message that they do not love you… by their and inactions, they do not love you. (By “you” I mean the general “you,” or “me” as it were)…. For me, pouring out my heart and soul, all my pain, etc., didn’t change them but it helped me a ton, to show myself that I knew my feelings were worth bringing out from under the carpet and validating, even if they didn’t see that. It also helped me spew out a lot of rot….. All that said, I think empathy is a wonderful thing. I think it saves lives and is the crux of our humanity. I think the bad part of it comes from giving empathy to those who will just suck you dry and not reflect the same level of empathy to you—it becomes one-sided and keeping yourself in those relationships becomes degrading to oneself. That is, by continuously putting yourself in such a position, you do not show yourself empathy. It’s empathy at your own expense, which is no good. I’m slowly getting a hang of this—sorting out who deserves my empathy and who does not…. Anyway, I hope it’s okay I wrote all this—I feel a little like I might be butting into your and Mimi’s conversation, but your comment about hyper-empathy made me think, so I thought I’d share.

Mimi, I’m so sorry about the car wreck and of course you deserve attention for that—that’s scary! In my opinion, if it’s okay that I give it, there’s nothing wrong or faulty about wanting and looking for support and love in such a situation. Of course you can’t force people to care if they don’t care (or seem to not care) but that doesn’t make you bad for wishing they cared, and doesn’t mean that you should try to make yourself not wish that they cared…. because that’s impossible and also it just doesn’t take care of you and what you need and since you were the one in the accident….. If someone can’t care, that’s about them, something wrong with them—which doesn’t mean that you have to care for them and their inability to care for you (and whatever reason they have for not caring or being able to care for you like you would for them). That’s for them to sort out. I know this might sound “selfish” but in your life, the most important person is you—you are at the centre. I know that concept is thrown around like an insult—“so and so thinks he/she’s the centre of the universe”—but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s not about actions taken at the expense of other people. It’s about taking care of yourself. Anyway, those are just my thoughts/feelings. Hope it’s okay that I extend them to you. And thank you for your b-day wishes on the other post! …I have a similar issue with my brother as you do with your sisters. I have so much wanted him to be a “big brother” to me, to look out and have my back, care for me, want to listen and know me. I wish he could see how our parents have treated me and say, “God, I’m so sorry they treated you that way—you did not deserve that.” I have expressed this to him and am waiting to hear what he says. I don’t actually believe he has a responsibility to me to do this. He didn’t choose to have a sister. In my opinion, he doesn’t “have” to be a big brother. However, I can’t stop myself from wanting that big brother and can’t stop from feeling the pain in the gap between what I wish for and what the reality is. I don’t think he is capable of denouncing my parents’ behaviour/dysfunction and that behaviour almost killed me. I see him as a victim of the dysfunction but a product of that dysfunction he carries causes me pain and dysfunction in my own life. It’s not “abuse” but it perpetuates the pain and dysfunction, if you see what I mean, which stops me from being able to live and thrive, not just survive, and in fact keeps me in the dysfunction. This is a bit of a tricky area, I think. It’s not about my brother being wrong or abusing or neglecting me but about my own feeling and needs, what’s going to allow me to heal and find my freedom vs. what’s going to keep me shackled and in pain. I can’t force my feelings one way or the other, but I can work with them to some degree. I know my boundary—that I can’t have someone in my life who lives by the dysfunctional system that did so much damage to me, nearly killing me. Even if I love and care about them, even if it’s not their “fault.” It’s hard to abandon the relationship, but the truth is, for me and my brother, there really has never been a relationship and as long as he cannot have true understanding and empathy, as long as he cannot be a big brother, I simply cannot be a sister to him. It is too painful and damaging to me, even if it is not his intent or wish to do me damage. I’d rather cut my losses, grieve, and be able to live my life, than live in a constant state of at least dull pain, never able to fly free just so that I can keep a barely breathing relationship on life-support…. Well, that’s how it is for me, anyway. Everyone’s situation, feelings and needs are different. I do know that it isn’t about “shoulds” but rather looking at what is and how you can work with what is, if you can work with what is. In the case of my parents, I couldn’t work with what is, so there is no more. And I suspect it will be the same with my brother…. Big hugs to you! …My, I have really rambled on here!


Hi, Alaina…..thank you for sharing that with me!

I just ran across a “Psychology Today” article by Sandra Brown, M.A. which speaks about hyper-empathy…….I wish I could remember the title of it…….hmmmm…….something about “The Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis for Hyper-Empathy.” Very interesting about brain scans and how the brains of the hyper-empathic reveal differences from the brains of less empathic people.

But, like you, I often have wondered if my willingness and my ability to feel extreme empathy toward my abusers (and to all people in general) actually does me any good. I seem unable to transfer that huge amounnt of empathy toward myself. I wish I were able to do that, because I think I would have a much happier and a much less stressful life.

And, no, you didn’t hijack a conversation at all! In fact, I’m blessed that you offered to share your own feelings and experiences. I learn a lot from other people, and I am really grateful that you posted such a wonderful response. I really do identify with you.

Oh, as I was reading through your response to Mimi, I saw that you mentioned having a birthday. I don’t know what day your birthday was, Alaina, but let me wish you a Very Happy, Happy Belated Birthday!!!!!

I’m so grateful for your insights.



Hi everyone!
I’m at work now and tying from my phone which is always a challenge. So, I’ll try to follow up more later when I get home. I just wanted to let you know Alaina, that I appreciate your views and Sharing your voice. If not for EFB, at times I’ve wondered what in the heck I would do. So, thank you.

Being at work has brought a great diversion from the whirlwind in my mind. I don’t work that much, and although I dreaded coming in, it’s been an incredible relief from the sort of mental torment of earlier today.

My sister did respond, and it seemed a little shady. I will post her verbatim when I get home, and respond to your insights Alaina, and Morare. Thank you so much for your interest and responses.

Talk to you soon


Hi friends!

Morare and Alaina…. most importantly, I want to thank you for taking time to respond. In our busy days, it’s not always easy to get on here and type and read. Thank you for that, and for your insights. I so appreciate that today.

My sister did text me back. Here is our conversation…

Me: Did you see the wreck we had on facebook?
Sis: When? In your husband’s car? I seen a pic of it but didn’t get to read everything. It was in the snow right?
Me: yes
Sis: I just saw the t-bone pic 2 minutes ago. Didn’t get from the other posts that you were in a wreck. Glad all are well.

This seems like a contradiction to me. First, she saw a pic but didn’t read it all. Next she says she didn’t get from the posts that we were in a wreck. Hmmmm. I smell a rat. But, it doesn’t take much for me to smell a rat these days. I think they’re everywhere!! She also knew it was in the snow, but didn’t get that it was a wreck. I don’t know. Once upon a time, someone told me if you think thoughts long enough, you’ll eventually get bored with those same thoughts. I think I’m approaching boredom. Not caring so much is a welcome relief.

One thing I want to mention in the interest of being fair. I did post on FB with the picture of the t-boned car, that we were all okay. It was the first post.

I understand what you mean Alaina, when you talk about your brother. It isn’t necessarily intentional, and it isn’t classified as abuse. It is just all out lack of love and desire to hold up a relationship. It is painful to feel, when I think they’re holding up a relationship with the abuser (my mother), and kicking me in the gut. I don’t think that’s necessarily intentional either. It just feels like a kick in the gut. For them to uphold a relationship with my mother and actually put EFFORT into it, although they both know what she’s about, and, neglect my relationship with them…. ouch.

I’ve decided that the motto, “you get what you give” will be my future approach. But, wait until morning, and that will probably change. I’m just really mixed up right now. And, it’s getting late so I must go to bed.

Thank you again for your sentiments, kindness, virtual hugs, and just being interested. It means so much to me right now. Hugs and more hugs!!



Good morning, Mimi!

I know what you mean about feeling mixed up. I am there myself. My empathy and my love for my family members…….well, I don’t know if they’re “normal” feelings, or if I’m simply responding to having been trauma bonded. I’ve tried to do a little bit more research about trauma bonding, as it is quite common for abused children to experience it. I think it was a survival technique at one time, when I was younger, but I often wonder how much it is affecting me still.

It’s all hard to figure out, isn’t it? I wish that I could have a once-and-for-all type of closure, and make up my mind whether or not I want to continue trying to have healthy, reciprocal relationships with my family members. But then, I seem to go back and forth. There have been occasions when I seem to have a great deal of clarity about the way I’ve been hurt by them. But then I seem to slip back into a way of thinking in which I spend a lot of time “understanding” them, and “forgiving” them, and “overlooking” their behaviors. I think it’s my vacillating and my confusion that keeps me rather anxious and keeps the pain alive.

Anyway, the text from your sister is interesting. She does seem to contradict herself. I think if I saw a message with photo on FB which a sibling of mine posted, whether or not they posted that they weren’t injured, I’d still be concerned enough to contact them. I’d want to hear about the accident, and I’d want to express my concern and also my great relief that they and their spouse weren’t hurt. I’d also check in with them daily for a while. I was once in a very bad wreck with my two children involving a semi-struck. I felt no pain at the time. Two days later, I was in so much pain I could barely move. So, I’d definitely be checking in with my sibling!

However, I don’t want to judge your sister, either, since I don’t know her life circumstances or anything about her personally. I do want to support you, though. I know how a family member can make you feel unimportant and unloved. Indifference hurts much worse that outright hatred. At least if I am hated by someone, they are investing some energy and they care enough to have some type of a feeling. Indifference means, “I really don’t care about you, about what you feel, about your life, or about what happens to you.” And that hurts very deeply.

I think a lack of concern from a family member is a type of neglect that hurts much more deeply than most of us acknowledge. We tend to think about abuse as being more about overt acts. It took me a very long time in therapy before I understood that the neglect of my mother hurt me even more than the overt and cruel abuse by my father. All of those years, I’d thought my mother “was there” for me. Ha! What a sad joke. Her manipulation, her covert acts, her parentification of me, her neglect, her lack of protection, her triangulation and smear campaigns……..those cut me to the very quick.

Also, I so identified with what you said about how your siblings continue to have relationship with your abuser (mom) and how it feels like being “kicked in the gut.” Yes, I’ve been there and felt the very same. It is painful. It’s probably been one of the things which has actually hurt me the most. The reason is that I would be there in a heartbeat for any one of my siblings, and I would rally against my mother if need be, if a sibling needed support.

Yet, deep in my heart, I know that all three of my siblings would choose our abusive mother over me. That hurts so much, especially since I felt as if I were their surrogate mother during my childhood and adolescence. I was parentified, and I took care of them to a great extent. They almost feel more like my children than my siblings. And, yet, they basically ignore me, but they worship our mother. They all three are in constant contact with her, feel sorry for her, take care of her in many ways, visit her, call her. I very rarely hear from my siblings and I am the one who has tried so hard to keep relationships with them all. I do most of the calling and the trying to connect. It seems pretty fruitless. I wish I could just give it all up………

I used to believe that you would get what you give out. I no longer believe that. It’s often not true. I’ve tried in my life to always treat others with kindness and respect, strangers and family both. Often, I haven’t received kindness and respect in return. I guess that’s just the way the world works……

Take care! So glad you are posting and I’m enjoying what you write! Have a lovely day. Hugs back to you!!!



Hello all.

I can relate to this conversation about siblings who don’t seem to care much, and how to deal with that. But first, I want to say to Marore, I am sorry you are feeling so down. It is a struggle, isn’t it? And to Mimi, I am glad you are OK after your car accident. Scary! And I would be hurt too (and have been hurt) by a sibling who doesn’t show they care.

I am experiencing similar things. Siblings who rally around my mother who neglected me, who don’t show understanding and love towards me re: the neglect and sexual abuse, along lots of phone calls and visits to her (she’s 10 min away) without contacting me, being left out of get-togethers. She also is in her 90s and has energy, activities, projects, etc. My siblings were my “emotional parents” as well, though I am the youngest. She can do no wrong, while I am the one with the problem. This has also rippled down to my nieces and nephews who I’ve also had to try to let go. Over the years I made so many visits, phone calls, tried even harder to show I cared so they would care back. And it’s not all or nothing, sometimes one of them would do something nice toward me.

I’ve cried so many tears for so many years. I go round and round with feeling pain, then a little better, then pain. So far I haven’t been able to break the cycle and be generally happy. I have a new appreciation for women (or men) who are in an abusive marriage and can’t leave. I never did blame her/him, but now I understand a lot more about just how hard it is to leave.

Lately I’ve been distancing myself. I have alternate plans for Easter with friends and will be out of town. I haven’t seen/talked to some family members since Christmas. I may do this for the whole year, and then reassess. I have been more lonely, because there is a certain level of contact that is gone now.

I am in therapy with my mother now. While she is going, she makes it clear she doesn’t want to be there. It is disheartening. We’ve been talking about one instance of blatant medical neglect and my mother goes from blaming me – to sorry – to finding things wrong with how I describe it – to saying things that seem to take back the apology.

My therapist said that she wanted to acknowledge my abuse/neglect, and at the same time she wanted to tell my mother that she did the best she could, and if she knew then what she knew now, she might make different choices. “There are no bad guys here”. I asked her if she thought that sometimes people will deliberately emotionally hurt others? She said yes, but that it’s not personal “some people would argue it’s never personal”. I want to talk with her more about her viewpoint, but from how I understand it now it is not sitting well with me.

Happy Birthday Alaina!

Lots and lots of hugs for all of us, Light


Hello, Light……and thank you so much for your sweet and thoughtful words!

Oh, I really do feel for you. It’s very painful to have our siblings choose relationships with the abusive parent. I do know how that feels, as if you are being rejected and abandoned over and over, again.

So often I’ve decided to go “no contact,” but I haven’t as yet been able to do so. I often hear people speak of the peace and serenity they’ve finally found once they decide to get off the roller coaster of dysfunction and go “no contact” with abusive family members.

And the abuse doesn’t have to be anything blatant. It can be their minimizing us……or engaging in patronizing, condescending behaviors……or controlling behavior……..or verbal put-downs and sarcasm. Anything which makes us feel “less than,” or which makes us go home and cry later, or which makes us “feel crazy” (due to their gaslighting, triangulation, deceit, etc.)is abusive.

You said that you’ve cried a lot in your life. That is definitely something I relate to. I have cried millions of tears, too.

Good for you that you made alternative plans for Easter! I hope you have a lovely time. You deserve to have a blessed and peaceful time.

I have to admit that the things your therapist has said very much concern me, Light. I don’t agree with them. And I am wondering if your therapist has expertise in the areas of trauma, child abuse, trauma bonds, Complex PTSD, etc.

She may be a positively wonderful person and an excellent therapist, but there are some therapists who are not as acquainted with trauma work and child abuse as others. It’s not a criticism of her at all. I think that finding a therapist who is well-trained and who has experience in Complex PTSD and trauma from childhood is not always an easy task.

May I make a suggestion to you? I don’t know if you are familiar with Pete Walker’s work or his web site, but he really has some excellent information concerning what happens to children who grow up in abusive homes. He talks about emotional flashbacks and how to manage them. He talks about how to find a good therapist. I can’t even tell you how much I’ve learned from his excellent site. I really felt understood while reading his articles. If you visit his site, you may find that you identify with some of what he describes. I certainly did.

I hope it’s okay to mention his site here. I always worry about that. But he truly offers us survivors hope and many helpful suggestions about how to help ourselves as we continue on our healing journeys.

Again, I’m not trying to tell you that you have an incompetent therapist. Not at all. She may be the best therapist in the world, but still be unschooled in the particular areas in which you deserve expertise and empathy. But I am supporting you and saying that if some of her ideas and statements don’t “sit well” with you, then you have the right to listen to that inner voice, and to pay attention to any red flags which arise within you.

Thank you for sharing, Light! I so want all of us to move beyond our tears and our pain, and be able to leave behind the trauma, the neglect, the abandonment, the abuse…….and move forward so that we can finally recognize the beauty that lies within us!



What’s puzzling is that she has written an entire book about trauma and how to recover from it. I haven’t read it yet (but skimmed it).

So I may not yet understand what she means, but it sure is puzzling.


Hi Marore, Mimi, and Light!
Thanks for the birthday wishes Marore and Light! I’m glad I wasn’t intruding on the conversation, Marore and Mimi! I’ve realized that I don’t usually have conversations with people unless I’ve been addressed personally first—-definitely a product of my upbringing, this kind of passivity and timidity, but speaking about people who don’t show compassion, I sometimes wonder about the unintentional messages I may have sent to people in my own life because of this tendency. I’m thinking of younger cousins, specifically, who don’t really look for anything from me in a visible way, but my self-esteem has always been too low to be able to initiate anything, to even know if I have anything to give that they would possibly want. It’s a mould that I definitely want to work to break out of—because it’s definitely weird and not good for me to be in position where I am waiting to get approval and acceptance from them so that I know that I can have a relationship with them, to be there for them, etc. It’s backwards, since I’m in the position of being the older cousin. My dad was like this, and it hurt me to not have a father. (Unfortunately after this truth came to light and he seeming to be genuinely sorry for it, instead of taking initiative to learn to be father, to change, he either remained the way he was or sided with my mom, pressuring me to be what she wanted, which wasn’t new either, so I guess it was all just a bunch of crap. His dependency taking precedence over everything, including his responsibilities to his child).

Anyway, I was thinking about empathy some more. It seems to me that there are two kinds of empathy. One is immediate, entirely emotion-based and intimate. It can be negative in the case of trauma-bonding, but it can also be very healthy and a sign of deep connection and love. This is the kind of empathy we are looking for when we bare our souls to our family. If we are in pain, we want them to have immediate concern and love, to feel our pain on a deep level and respond appropriately, because it hurts them to know we’re hurting and hurts them even more to know that their actions/inactions are the source of why we are hurting. We expect this and want this because they are our family—it’s natural. The other kind of empathy I see is more cognitive. You use more of your intellect, imagination and conscientiousness. It’s not so much about deep connection and love, or only in a kind of general sense. It’s more of a skill and exercise of putting yourself in another shoe’s and imagining what you would feel like. For example, If I just met someone I found out lived his life in a war-zone up to this point. I won’t experience an immediate deep feeling of pain for him because a) I don’t know him personally, so there’s no foundation of love for me to experience personal pain for his experience and b) I have not lived in a war-zone and while I can have ideas and imaginings and can feel this second kind of empathy, I can not know or feel his pain, or have any capacity to connect to it through my own life, unless he shares his story with me. The more he shares the more potential there is for me to feel the first kind of empathy because it then becomes personal. If he shared his story but I could not express empathy, or if I expressed empathy for his internal pain but denied that there was ever a war or that he ever experienced the things he did indeed experience, I imagine he’d walk away not wanting a relationship with me any further and for good reason. I think we’d all agree that it’d be insanity if over and over he came to me trying to get my empathy and understanding. I think the reason we go back over and over to our family wanting to get their empathy and understanding is because we can’t get over the shock that they don’t have that first, immediate kind of empathy born of love and deep connection—that they would never have done what they did in the first place. For me, I have now laid my story out making way for them to have the kind of empathy one would have for a stranger who laid out their painful story to you, regardless of whether or not you had a history with them or any experience similar to their own. I think this is the starting point of any new relationship that is healthy and equality-based. I also think it’s the starting point for all morality and ethics. If anybody hears my story but isn’t capable of saying, That’s awful, you surely didn’t deserve that, then I really don’t want them in my life. It’s not just about the past, in that case; it’s about my present and future safety…. That said, when people don’t say “That’s awful…,” I think it’s worth communicating with them. You can’t read their minds. There can be so much slipping around, though. I had to become so incredibly direct, fully expressing all my feelings (not judgments but feelings), saying this is what I need from you, etc., and nothing else will do. (That was the end step, though…. I wouldn’t go into a first conversation like that.)

Light, about your therapist… She could be not the right therapist for you, or it could also be a communication thing. I personally agree that it’s “never personal” because what I understand that statement to mean is that the abuse you endured you didn’t deserve, it wasn’t about YOU, it was about THEM, so it wasn’t personal in that sense. Maybe that’s what she meant? I could also understand the statement “there are no bad guys here,” in my own family to mean that my parents are victims of abuse themselves, not evil monsters through and through, and the goal in life for each of us is healing our person. Their ACTIONS were most definitely BAD but their SOULS/SPIRITS/INNER CHILDS are not by nature bad. That doesn’t mean you put up with their actions and sacrifice yourself for their issues. They can choose to do the work. If they don’t choose to do the work, are they bad guys? I don’t know. Probably they just don’t understand or are too afraid, something. They’re in the fog. They’re messed up. I simply won’t throw myself (or let them throw me) under the bus anymore, that’s all. That said, I’m sure in some cases parents are the bad guy. You could, for example, have a serial killer for a parent. With mine, I know that the damage they did came from the damage that was done to them. I’m not willing to put up with abuse and being treated as less than and that’s why I’ve walked away. Whatever they do or don’t do on their end is up to them. If I was in your shoes, I think it’d be worth a shot to see where exactly your therapist stands and to express to her how her words made me feel—because I totally get how you felt the way you did.

Hugs, Alaina


Light, I wanted to add about this “bad guy thing”—that I’m not letting my parents off the hook that they just didn’t know better. You can’t excuse not doing what you were responsible for just because you didn’t know—-if it was your responsibility it was your responsibility. ALso my major confrontation with my mom was about the level of knowledge she had in what she did, the fact that she did not work to address or correct what she knew was wrong, swept under the carpet some pretty major signs that something was going wrong with me in my life, because she did not want to let go of the benefits she reaped of my compliance and victimhood. In essence, she preferred me that way. She was indeed throwing me under the bus and certainly acting the part of the bad guy. This was all born of her own victimization in her own childhood. That doesn’t make it okay. It was never okay or good that she did what she did to me. If she ever wants a relationship to me, she will have to own up to her actions and the fact that she knew but continued on as if she didn’t. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful, though, to have someone say so-and-so isn’t the bad guy, when what you really want and need is validation for your pain and experience. Whether or not they are a bad guy is sort of beside the point because it isn’t about them, it’s about you. I feel like it can confuse things. The point is hearing YOU, the pain, the trauma, the effects of their actions and inactions. I hope that I’m expressing myself well because I really don’t want to invalidate you or anyone else.


Hello again friends!

Light, I’m also sorry you’re hurting and struggling with this counselor and your mother. One thing that struck me was you said your mom makes it clear she really doesn’t want to be there. That alone is a red flag in my humble opinion. She doesn’t want to put forth the work to repair your relationship?? I’m sorry she’s treating you this way.

I don’t really buy into the very popular statement that she did what she could because she didn’t know better. I feel like people have an internal traffic light for lack of a better word. To a much more detrimental degree, a pedophile knows that they’re doing something wrong. How could they NOT know it’s wrong when there are laws in place to protect others from them. To a lesser degree, in my situation, there wasn’t that type of abuse, but, I do feel like my mother has the same internal traffic light that I do. I feel like when I’ve done something wrong, there is a voice inside me that says it’s wrong. I KNOW somewhere deep inside that it’s wrong, even if I choose not to listen to that voice.

In my mind, I’ve modified the statement sbout my mother not knowing better. I continue to believe she knows/knew better. What I think is true in some instances is, she didn’t necessarily know how detrimental the effects of her behavior would be. She was just flitting around navigating life, hyper focused on herself. I have a memory of her brushing my teeth for me. I would say I was around 7-8 years old. For whatever reason, I didn’t like brushing my teeth. One day, she just had enough and brushed them for me. She gritted her own teeth through the whole thing and it was done with anger and intimidation, and it was painful. Not horribly so, but, it was painful. It’s times like this example, that I think she didn’t necessarily think it would be a lasting memory in my mind, yet, it is. And, it’s not really a painful memory so much, but what I remember about it was how angry she was. I believe it was very selfish to act in this angry way, without giving any thought to what she was imparting to me. While whipping me with a flyswatter for literally nothing, and her anger so seething and obvious, I do think she knew better on some level, but, did it anyway. I don’t know what I did to get that whipping. I think she was just angry at her own life. I became the literal whipping post. I know on some level she knew that was wrong because she immediately said it didn’t happen. Why would she lie about it, if she thought it was okay? Doesn’t make much sense, eh?

Marore, I want to clarify one thing I said. When I mentioned getting what you give, I meant it to mean, my siblings specifically, will from now on get what they give. That equals pretty much nothing. I understand what you’re saying here too. By no means have I gotten in return, what I’ve given. So, I think for my own personal approach, I must give what they give. That should be easy!! 🙂

Alaina, I understand what you said about empathy and being two different kinds. I remember last summer, I fell down while walking and gawking in shop windows. I stepped on a crumbled piece of concrete and just collapsed. Qute funny if I think about how I must have looked. There were I think about 3 people behind me. One kept walking, like he didn’t see me. There were two people together, and one of them asked if I was okay, yet didn’t offer a hand to help me up or anything. I don’t think I have it in my heart to walk by someone who just fell. I only had a scrape on my knee, and I told them I was okay, so I suppose they thought all is well. And, maybe I would have too. I can’t see myself not offering a hand to help someone up though. Just me. I think we live in a world today where people are detached from each other for the most part. It seems empathy is now a sign of weakness. Our world is proud, and staunch, and power hungry, in my opinion. Just strange to me.

I did meet my sister yesterday for lunch. Her demeanor had completely changed from our last several encounters. She did ask about the car accident almost immediately. I think I could tell by her expressions that she honestly didn’t really see that we’d had an accident. I think, unfortunately, with all the crap in my family, I have taken to the side that everyone is out for themselves and deserving of constant speculation. I’ve had a very hard time giving people the benefit of the doubt. However, our last several encounters since around the beginning of this year, have been almost ugly. The condescending way she was treating me, and her words of disapproval, etc. Perhaps that led me to think the worst. This is something I must work out in my own head ~ at least trying to give people the benefit of the doubt.

My niece was with my sister also, so I think that provided a bit of a buffer. We actually had a really good time. That has helped my mood tremendously. Because I don’t seem to be able to stop analyzing, I wonder….. is my mood enhanced because I hang my worth on whether things are good between us or not?

All in all, I think in the past, I have had good breakthroughs after a period of time in the valley. I was deep in the valley a few days last week. I feel so much better having spoken here and very blessed to have friends here to talk me through this. You have all truly blessed me so much.

I hope you get some clarity about your counselor Light. It stinks so bad to be confused, and have our worlds upside down because of other people. I hope days are brighter for you too Morare. I understand what you mean about coming here and putting out negative comments. I would hate to think I’ve discouraged someone else. On the other hand, I think, if I didn’t have this place to share my deepest stuff, I might go crazy. I hope I haven’t ever hindered anyone. 🙁

I hope everyone has a good Easter… those who celebrate. And, I’m so thankful for all your comments. There is hope!!!

Love to everyone,


Hello, Mimi!!

Great insights!

I hope you didn’t take what I said as a criticism, because I really and truly didn’t mean it that way…(really, I didn’t, Mimi……I like you and respect what you say……:)…….about “getting what you give out,” I mean. I think I understand what you meant much better now that you gave that example, and I want to say that I COULDN’T AGREE WITH YOU MORE!!

I so agree with what you’ve said.

Thanks, Mimi, for your sweet words of encouragemen! My sadness seems to have lifted, and I feel pretty blessed and grateful and serene today.

You want to know something that happened yesterday that was just so wonderful?

I hope it’s okay to get a bit spiritual here. I mean no disrespect to anyone who doesn’t have a belief in God, but I would like to share something meaningful that happened to me yesterday. I hope I don’t offend anyone by sharing this experience.

I came here and posted recently about feeling really, really down. I’ve cried a lot, grieved a lot.

Yesterday I was home by myself and I started to cry, again. I just felt so tired, so alone, so miserable…..

I began to talk aloud, expressing my anguish about a variety of things. Not self-pity, but true, deep emotion about some issues going on in my life right now. I always have had a strong faith in God, but I have to admit that these past few years, I just haven’t felt that He’s noticed me or cared about me personally.

I cried, grieved, talked (prayed). Eventually I got up to do some things, run some errands, even though I felt as if I had no energy whatsoever. I felt as if I were slogging through thick mud or molasses. I had to FORCE myself to get ready to go to the grocery store and to run errands. I felt soooooooo tired and low. And, to top it all off, it was so cold and rainy outside; it was actually sleeting.

I felt tears popping up, again, as I drove to the store. I didn’t want them to ruin my makeup, so I was trying to dry them off. The grocery store parking lot was positively packed…..lots of people shopping for Easter, you know!

I dragged myself into the store, and started going down the aisles, shopping by my list, and I just started to internally thank God for being there for me……..for listening to me.

I told Him how I’d always felt that He was the only friend I had when I was a little girl. And how alone I’d always felt, but I knew that He was the only reason that I’d been able to live through so much pain…..from the sexual abuse, the physical abuse, the verbal abuse, the emotional abuse, the stranger rapes (2)……and many, many other difficulties and struggles and heartaches (including my baby daughter almost dying at age 13-months from a rare disease, hospitalized 8 days in Children’s Hospital)……

And as I was walking the aisles, busy with people pushing their overflowing carts, my spirit began to soar, and my gratitude grew. And I could honestly say that I reached a point in which I was just grateful for the gift of life. Even though my life has seemed to have more than its share of heartache, trial, pain, suffering, and sadness……..my life is still beautiful and precious to behold.

As is yours.

And by the time I’d reached the Dairy Section and was waiting patiently behind an elderly woman who looked tired and frail, and who slowly was choosing the best–and unbroken–eggs among the eggs……I felt tears rise up in my eyes, again, but they were tears of gratitude. No, my circumstances had not changed. But I was just so grateful to have a God who had helped me, by grace, through an inordinate amount of adversity in my life.

And so, as I stood in the checkout line, behind two other full buggies, I watched the lady checking people out, and she sighed more than a few times. I looked at how busy the store was, and I knew this lady had been on her feet and may have been tired. Maybe she had a full day ahead of her, and she was already dreading it. I didn’t know her circumstances, but she seemed a bit haggard. All of a sudden, I just wanted to show my gratitude by doing something nice for someone else.

So, I thought about going to the floral section to buy her a flower. But what would she do with a flower? I turned around and immediately behind me I saw a whole end-cap full of gift cards. So, I asked her if she liked Starbucks, and she said, “No.” I said, “Well, do you like a particular restaurant?” And she said, “Chik-Fil-A.” So, I grabbed a gift card and added it to my cart, and after she’d checked out my groceries, I handed her the card and told her that it was for her.

I shared with her that I’d had a very trying couple of days, but that whenever I feel at my worst, I often try to do something kind for someone else, and it makes me feel much better. She seemed really amazed. She told me that she’d had a stress-filled day, told me that often she gets tired of customers being rude or dismissive, and said she was sort of dreading the rest of the day. But then she came over and hugged me and told me I’d made her day!

Wow! I didn’t do that so that she’d be so sweet to me, but what a wonderful, fantastic experience for me! And for her, too, I think.

I often pay someone’s food bill at drive-through windows for the car behind me, hoping that it restores those people’s ideas about society and reminding people that there are still people who do care about others in the world. I feel great, and I hope the people behind me get a big pleasant surprise when they pull up to the window to pay!

So, I know this post is very, very long……..but I hope it is an encouragement to those of you who may be feeling sad, alone, lonely, stressed, and hopeless. I am not a rich person. I can’t do much, but I can do what I can.

It often seems that right after the biggest storm come the brightest rays of light. I can’t even tell you how many times in my life I’ve been at my lowest, my saddest, my loneliest…..and God has somehow provided me with a measure of joy, tenderness, hope, and love.

Yesterday was proof of His love.



Light, I was so very concerned after writing my post the other day. I don’t want to sound critical of your therapist, and I am so afraid that I sounded critical.

If your therapist understands trauma and has written a book about trauma, then she must be well-trained!

I do, however, always support people’s rights to listen and pay attention to their own instincts. Even the best therapists can say something we don’t agree with, and that’s okay, too.

I have so worried about sounding offensive to you. I really would never want to discourage someone in their therapeutic process.

I hope you will forgive me.



First, I want to apologize for misspelling your name. Sheesh!!

Second…. that was beautiful. What you did and shared with us is wonderful. The blessings you felt and love and all the goodness that fills us when we do something nice for a stranger. I LOVE it. I love love love it!!! I’m not rich either, and I try to do what I can in this same way. I try to remain anonymous if possible, but, I always want to witness their reaction. The big smile or seeing them look around to try to see who did it. And, like you said, the HUG!! Sooo awesome! You’re such a sweetie!! I’m so glad you brought this up because it reminds me to do it! It brings to mind all those good feelings. And, it brought me what I call “Godbumps” when I read it. Yay for you and for the lady you obviously deeply blessed, and for sharing that there still is good in the world. It has made me happy!!!

Thank you!!!


I didn’t take your interpretation as criticism at all. I agree with you too. We often don’t get what we give. I guess there are two meanings to this statement. I hope to turn it around and say to my sisters, “you get what you give…. and sometimes, that ain’t much”. I probably will never say this. But, it feels okay to think it sometimes. 🙂

Peace and Hope,


Hi Mimi,
I can’t imagine your words hindering anyone! (speaking for myself). I think, rather, that it’s inspiring when people are also open with the tough times and by just being here are showing how they push through, keep going, despite it all, trying to work through the confusion and pain. No one always has to be on top of things. I think it connects us because we all struggle. I tend to go quiet when I’m in the dark places and these days I fluctuate a lot.

I totally agree that they know. I also think we, as humans, have lots of ways to stop ourselves from knowing what we know. Ways to distract ourselves, to tell ourselves lies, make narratives for ourselves to justify our actions, etc. It is bad. It is especially bad when we sacrifice our children (or anyone!) in the process. I also agree with what you’re saying when you talk about your mom not knowing how detrimental the effects would be. They also don’t want to know how detrimental, so they’re not going to spend too much time thinking about it. (I imagine that’s why my mom has always kept herself very busy.) After all they want they to get their needs met, so to think too much about the effects of their actions is obviously counterproductive to their motivations. It’s also counterproductive for them to stop and think about their motivations because if they ever really stopped and thought about it, they probably couldn’t live with themselves and would have to change and then they wouldn’t be getting their needs met. I think it’s all about what’s at stake. My feeling from all this is that they KNOW but they don’t UNDERSTAND and that’s what’s so frustrating to me. I want to shake these people (my parents), “why can’t you understand?” I’ve spelled it all out very, very clearly to my mom now, how it all worked systematically. The thing I know right now is that they don’t WANT to understand and until they WANT to understand, it’s over. GIven the amount of pain they now recognize I’ve experience in my life because of what they did, it follows that they ought to want to understand what exactly it was that caused that pain and how it all worked, so that they can make sure to never treat me like that again. I think that’s the bottom line for me.

THe toothbrush story makes me cringe and feel physically uncomfortable just hearing about it, so I can imagine how that would stay with you. I feel like there was some very basic boundary violation in that event. I just want to push her away from you!

I don’t understand that kind of behaviour either, when people just walk passed. I think there have been studies done on that kind of jadedness, or whatever it is. I think they are disconnected from their essential human selves. (I’m thinking in general of people who walk passed something happening and not doing anything about it). All I can say is I’m just glad I’m not like that and I’ll live my life according to my values, etc.

Reading your comments about your sister, I got the impression that maybe you are just in the middle of things, taking in information and trying to assess it, figuring where you’re at, where she’s at, processing your feelings, thinking things through, and that’s all good. If we can save our relationships, make them workable for both parties, I think it’s definitely worth it. I’ve tried to jump the gun sometimes, just because it’s so tough being in the middle of things, but I know it’s a process. It’s frustrating, so incredibly frustrating, to work so bloody hard to try to get through to others to try to mend problems that we did not cause in the first place but rather were the result of the dysfunction our parents did not take the responsibility to work through. And yet… well, that’s the process. We can choose to opt out of course. For me personally I have to try. I know my boundaries now and my bottom line but yeah, so much hard work in all this… but worth it, I think, for ourselves, no matter what the outcome. That’s how I feel anyway.

My love to you,


Hi Marore and everyone,

I haven’t felt criticized at all about any of the comments. It’s okay! I’m going to go back and read everything again to absorb it all. I can so relate to these recent posts and the issues that come up. It’s like I found a “home” here and my unique experience really isn’t so unique (which is a good thing).

Easter is one of my favorite holidays, and this year I am putting more effort into sharing it with friends rather than family. I am skipping the family get-together, and soon I am going out of town to visit friends. I also sent cards to friends, which they loved. There is something special about receiving an unexpected Easter/Happy Spring card! Not required, no obligation, and right at a turning point in the weather when people are inspired by the sun again.

Happy Easter and/or Happy Spring everyone…Light


Thank you for your comments. I think you’re right ~ I was in the middle with my sister. My thoughts had time to run wild, and they did. However, not without some basis. I have to give myself a little credit. Although I did jump to a bit of a conclusion that was incorrect, the history of my family lays a great foundation to do so. It’s horrible to be in that place of limbo, wondering what the other is thinking, or about to do. It’s true that after each valley, there seems to be a breakthrough. I’m enjoying the breakthrough right now. Not angry, not worried, not sorting through a pile of thoughts. It’s a welcome relief. Thank you for reaching out, and thanks to everyone here.



Hi Mimi,
I’m grateful for all our conversations here. It is so great to have a community. I really relate to what you wrote to Pam on the other post about the tension of not talking—my family really does not talk at all, is incapable of talking about any of the important issues. Incapable or unwilling (myself, I was of the incapable camp, though I was a chatterbox as a young kid before my voice was trampled on/stolen). I agree, it is extremely difficult to live in that place.

I think when we go through experiences that remind us or somehow put us back emotionally into past experiences, it is very easy to jump to the conclusion that it is exactly what’s happening right now again, when actually it might not be the case, particularly when those past experiences are still unresolved. Sometimes these incidents are emblematic of the bigger problem, so while our judgments might not fit the exact scenario that’s happening, why we came to these judgments in the first place is worth looking at—because it might be true of the over all picture. Like you said, it wasn’t without basis. Sometimes these things happen also where our conclusions are based on the past with someone else—where we’re projecting a past truth about the way someone else treated us onto another person it isn’t applicable to…. I think again it’s all about unresolved issues and the depth of the damage we suffered in the first place. It is nothing to blame/shame ourselves for but to work through.

Sometimes, although it’s our parents who did the damage in the first place, our siblings carry those same patterns of behaviour, so that I think even though our siblings have no intention to do harm to us, they hinder our ability to heal by keeping alive the damage and dysfunction we need to get away from. I’ve been told that it is impossible to heal from the dysfunction and hold a connection to it at the same time, and that makes perfect sense to me. So the only way then would be if the other party is willing to listen and to try to move out of the dysfunction as well—if they are open to the possibility that we might just be right. When they are unwilling to listen, I think it just invalidates our pain and solidifies the damage. When they aren’t willing to listen, it gives the message that they don’t consider us worthy of their consideration…. even if in truth it is actually about their own coping mechanisms, their own inability or unwillingness to work through their own difficulties and they don’t actually intend to hurt or invalidate us. If you asked them if they considered you worthy of their consideration, they’d probably say, “yes of course,” but their actions might say otherwise, even if that has absolutely nothing to do with you. As victims, we need validation in order to heal. We need to believe ourselves worthy of consideration. We need self-validation most of all, but when we have people in our lives who act in a way (for whatever reason) that invalidates our experience, that is inconsiderate to our experience, our pain and our need for healing, it can really act to undo the work we’re trying to do, so that we end up just treading water… I know that you’ve had difficulty with your sisters. I hope that you’ll be able to work together so you can have mutually beneficial relationships. Beyond that, though, I wish you the strength to do whatever is best for you and your healing. It is a hard journey but I’m very glad that you had a break and have come up for air and are feeling better now. I’m still trying to come down and shake off recent intensity. It’s been six months of pretty solid confrontation. I’m done now—more or less, anyway. A few loose ends but the important parties know where I stand and now it’s up to them. I don’t expect anything at all. But I feel like it might take another six months or more to shake it all off before I really start to move forward.

Anyway, I’m grateful to you and all our conversations and everyone here. It helps so much.
xo, Alaina


Excellent post, thank you.


Hi Everyone!
I have put up a new post that expands on this one; I got into more detail about why it was important for me not to concentrate on what was wrong with them and how I had been stuck there for so long.
You can read it here by clicking on the title link.
[…] More Related Posts: Survival Mode and an Alternate View of Narcissism  and Shifting my Thinking On the Journey to Overcoming Emotional Damage […]


As kids growing up we want to be the “sparkle” in everyone’s eye. That kid that parents brag about etc. I was definitely that with my dad, and my grandpa. But here is a tidbit first… this will play an important role although it should not matter– I was adopted as a baby. Okay, now. My dad and my grandpa… I had them wrapped around my finger. I was their shining star. On the other hand, there were some that proved to completely destroy every bit of self love that I had, every bit of hope that they loved me. My grandmother, she never accepted me. I was the oldest of all the grandkids. and when we were out, and two of us were adopted, the rest were not… but I was the only one out of all that she would introduce to people as her “adopted” granddaughter. she never told me she loved me, never hugged me.. nothing. did nothing that a grandma would do with a granddaughter. And my mom, well you would think that a mom who adopts a baby because she can’t have one of her own would love that baby and grow to love that daughter so much. but she never once told me that she loved me. In fact, she was short tempered and “slightly” abusive at times with me. She made me feel like I needed to disappear at times, so I would go an hide, where ever I could. Hoping no one would ever find me. I am middle aged now, and she only now started to say those words.. three words that mean absolutely nothing to me now. because when she says them… they are hollow. They have no feeling in them.. Not like when my husband or my dad or my kids say them. She contributed to all the hell in my life. that led to up to my “crashing” dec 2011. That is when it all came to a free fall and no one even saw it coming for the two years prior. no one paid one bit of attention.. that is how much my family loved me. the same family that said they “loved me”. I recently called them out on it all. They blamed me said I was hard to talk to…. fact of the matter is, they do not understand any of things that I have gone through, and they are the type of people that do not like “bad” things and they tend to sweep things under the rug and pretend that they didn’t happen and go on like life is perfect… and I am not perfect, I am flawed because they know now that their daughter hid an eating disorder from them and let it get to the point where it just about killed her and had to leave her husband and kids for 5 months; they do not understand or I think want to understand what self harm is; and they do not understand what a “psych ward” is either, so they just call it a hospital… I was just in a hospital recently. whatever… again sweep it under the rug, nothing happened…life is perfect. dad can pray until he is blue in the face, it wont change anything right here right now, it wont make my life better right this second, and it wont change the fact of what I have racked up in medical bills lately… which is outstanding!! he has no freaking idea!!! we are talking 6 figures in the last year alone. so he can like it doesn’t exist… but they are the ones who let my past continue when it could have stopped… they are the ones who didn’t believe me when they should have. mom is the one who should have loved me when she didn’t. what mom doesn’t love her own daughter? people keep telling me that there is more to a family than just blood.. really? my mom loves the son that was a “oops baby” the baby she was never supposed to have. that is completely obvious. always was. the other brother I have that was adopted, he left a long time ago and doesn’t ever come around. so I am not sure with her that is true. I have been physically, psychologically and emotionally abused over the years and at times that pain seems like it was just yesterday. Maybe that is because she still does things that causes me upset. maybe because I still feel the need to win her over. Only recently did I finally set a boundary with her and shut her off for a while. I had finally just had enough. I told her about a health issue that was caused by growing up in their second hand smoke.. and she was cold and unfeeling and told me to grow up and stop blaming other people, along with a bunch of other things… that just totally broke my heart and I crumbled into a million pieces that day. They were visiting and I managed to keep it together until we back to the house, and then I went straight to my room and stayed there and cried in my bed until they left. then my husband came up to find me crying so hard I could barely breathe. I told him what all she said. he said he was sorry she was that way and that he loved me and it killed him to see me hurting so bad, and that his mom loved me, at least I have her. He was so sweet. A few days later, my mom facebooked me and asked me to meet her to go shopping, like nothing had happened, like she did nothing wrong…. she is psycho!! I ignored her, and the next day composed a message explaining how I felt about her response and that I wanted nothing to do with her for a while and that she needed to get some counseling of some sort to work on her own issues because she has no compassion what so ever and I didn’t want her to contact me at all. I did it… I stood up to her..regardless of stepping on my dads toes and making me mad, he always defends her. always. And I figured she never told him what she said to me. but if he called, I was prepared to tell him, and I told her that. but in the following weeks, he never called. and neither did she. and I didn’t miss them. I didn’t feel guilty either, like I thought I would. my therapist was proud of me. first time for everything, and on mothers day, I did however call and wish her a happy mothers day, because I have never NOT said that her regardless of where our relationship is.


Hi Karen
Yay for standing up for yourself! Thanks for sharing your story about this here!
Hugs, Darlene


I think its great that you overcame all that, sad that you built your life around it (atleast in your writing). It still bothers you. My situation was worse, not bragging just being honest. That being said I think you delt with yours in a healthier manner. I used extreme hostility. Told them to 1.F off, 2. Im not only no longer a child but I will put a foot in their butts. This was towards abusive aunts,uncles, cousins. My parents and grandparents passed. They left me alone for a long while, got a voicemail. Changed my number and moved. Im better than them in every way imaginable. I cant lie though, it still bothers me. Growing up being beneath some a holes that are total losers.. Well youve been there. I think Ill read your site.
Thanks for having the courage


Hi Conrad,
Welcome to EFB ~ Hugs, Darlene


Hi Conrad..
Sorry that you had to go through what you did. it totally sucks to have a family that doesn’t care, that hurts you and doesn’t do anything to make it better or to help you and leaves to you suffer alone. It leaves you bitter, angry and hurt for a long time, but if you are lucky ( and some are not) you can get passed it with help of a great therapist and also with the help of friends who care. it takes a long time to get to the other side. Believe me, i am not completely there. There is the one issue with my mom… which is on this half of things that i deal with, and then there is another side with other relatives with abuse of another kind that i deal with and abuse from strangers too…. that all combined still haunts me and all of it was decades ago. I never got help when it all happened. But i am getting help now. If you didn’t get help as a kid, do yourself a favor, find a good therapist, talk it out. Don’t be one who thinks that it is a silly thing to do. You will be surprised how much it can help. I hope that you can find peace and happiness. I hope that you can release all the pain and anger that you may still hold inside you from the past. It does you no good now. it only gives them power over you, which they do not deserve, they are gone. Take care, write any time!


[quote=darlene] ~ fear of rejection becomes a survival instinct. [/quote]

Oh yeah! That is me! I learned to “fake it.” Then, when boyfriends showed any sign of disapproval on me, I “faked it” to be what they wanted so they wouldn’t break up with me. For a guy to break up with me was worse than death. I would make sure it NEVER happened.

But you are not being real when you do this. This took a toll on me. Of course, it’s my fault I faked my childhood. Mom had NOTHING to do with it….. (yea right, I learned how to fake it from dealing with HER!)


Hi Darlene, I actually noticed this fear in my body initially last year when FOO were having a screaming fit. I spotted the thought that if I stood up to their shouting, I would have no place to go and even if I did, I would be alone. Also the fear revealed my thought pattern that I would not survive alone. This certainly was true as a baby and a child but not valid as an adult.


I am LC with my Mum and even more so my brother who lives overseas. This article resonates really well with what I have been pondering the last couple of weeks and the reason for that is because once again my brother and mother are ganging up on me, invalidating me and discounting me. On this occasion it is my brother manipulating my mother but who cares! It’s not fair either way!!! Anyway, in a nutshell, I am hoping to move overseas myself in the next few years (this is one of my big goals) and I am toying with the idea of just going and not telling them and leaving them to figure it out for themselves with no forwarding address! This idea makes me feel really good when I think about it and it also sits really well with the thoughts echoed in your article here that I will never be able to understand them, that I have wasted too much of my precious time and energy trying to understand them and that as you suggest, the drawing of the boundary will most likely necessitate my expulsion and literally my exile! Yes! Yes! Yes!

I really understand this point that you make that the fear of rejection by these types of horrible people equates to accepting an unequal relationship where I am diminished. Darlene, you articulate these things that are going on in my head brilliantly … THANK YOU!

In many respects it’ would be a gift to both of them … my mother will make it all about her and how badly she is ALWAYS treated by me … and … my brother can shine as the golden child helping her pick up the pieces whilst simultaneously jumping on the chance to inherit the lot from ‘mommy dearest’!

… I just have to keep on track with my goals now! Hmmm! More work to be done there methinks! 😉

Empowering stuff Darlene, thank you so much 🙂 🙂 🙂


Ok so I definitely can see some fear of rejection in certain circumstances, but is it still the same underlying fear if you’re fearing for your physical safety as well?

I have been physically attacked by both sibs. Sis actually scratched my face up in a rage many years ago. I’ve been afraid to stand up to her since as a result. Brother verbally attacked and invaded my personal space…he didn’t hit me but his loud yelling caused me to fear he might. So I’ve also feared him as a result.

So when something has been said by either one that was abusive in any way, something whereby I would’ve stood up for myself about many years ago to them, but don’t feel safe doing so now…well I guess I’m a little confused as to the whether it’s the same sort of thing or not.

I’ve removed myself by going no contact recently to get away from all of that, but still working on myself and answers to things such as what you’ve brought up here.

Any insight would be welcome. Thank you..


@Annie, Wish I had something good for you other than I guess to stay away from those siblings.


I am also made to feel guilty for calling out on disrespectful behaviour. FOO does that really well. 5 years ago I called out on the disrespectful behaviour of my biological uncle and his wife. Although it was directed towards my birth parents at the time and not me, I stepped into the “rescuer” part of the Karpman’s triangle. Okay now I know better, to stay out of other people’s business and to mind my own but I did not know at the time and thought I was serving justice by putting them on the spot. Of course, I was led by my own ego and anger.

I can see that very clearly now. I have long since moved on and I am in a different space now. I try to mind my own business and be aware of patterns that are no longer useful to me like taking sides but they haven’t. My biological uncle, in particular, holds grudges and takes every opportunity to either mock me or put me down. I had forgotten about all of this long ago and could not understand his behaviour and got hurt quite a few times. It is only now that I am digging deeper.


Oh yes, all the labels, comments my mother made about me over the course of my childhood and into my adulthood when I attempted to stand up for myself, express myself, etc. I have been called the “difficult” child, the “angry” young woman (oh, my mother even took it upon herself to tell my present husband this after I married him). I was told at times (even as an adult), I was acting like a juvenile, oh, and also told by her multiple times to see a counselor when I had problems because she could not be objective, etc. (I always felt that was a cop-put as a parent). I always felt (and still do) she was not accepting of who I was and wishing I was more successful and something she could flaunt in her sister’s face or anyone else for that matter. My brother even told me recently he once overheard my mother say, while in her presence at the beach when she saw some people she knew with their children—“Why couldn’t she have had good-looking kids too?”. Yeah, my brother said here he was right in her presence at the time too, and it was like he wasn’t even there, she did not consider his feelings. Here I am an adult and she still will not discuss certain aspects of my childhood and tells me instead “I am the one responsible for my destiny”. Well, yeah, maybe now, but I WAS NOT always the one controlling my destiny as a child. I/my brothers had to put up with “2” dysfunctional adults in a dysfunctional marriage and the fallout affected us at times.—Robin
THANK YOU soooooooo much for this blog!!!!!


Oh Robin, I feel your pain. I always felt my Mom wanted me to be something REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT so she could say “My daughter is a [fill in the blank with something that sounds REALLY IMPRESSIVE].” I went to college, I kept employed, I had decent jobs, but they weren’t for “brag” companies. So thus I’m a failure because she can’t “brag.” And I got the same “you are in control of your destiny” crap that your mom gave you. She won’t discuss my childhood.


DXS, “thank you” for your response in email 245. It’s good to know someone else can express empathy and “understanding”. I wonder sometimes if a mother’s need for their child to succeed so they have something to ‘brag’ about rather than to just be ‘glad’ for their child and take joy in their success stems more from their own insecurities of not feeling “truly” successful so they have to vicariously live through their children and put unrealistic expectations on them(?). Maybe, they are just as unhappy with themselves as their child.—Robin


I am just going through this realization at 41. It took me this long to figure out no matter what I did growing up, I was going to be rejected my not only my father, who blatantly told me that I was unwanted, but my mom rejecting me. I did everything you mentioned above. I complied, questioned myself, tried to understand and make my mom understand, as well as my step-dad. These are now the only “parental figures” I had left in my life, so I was clinging on by bloody fingers. I have major depression and one night I fled to their house to be in a “safe’ place. Not only did my mom kill my rabbit that night (by mistake), my step-dad did not want me there, and my depression was over the top. Instead of being kind to me, my step-dad just walked around agitated and as usual I was just in the way. He turned to me to say something, which I thought was going to be kind words, such as we are so sorry about your rabbit and that you are severely depressed. After that night, my mom and my step-dad did nothing to mend fences. In fact, my rejected me in order not to hurt her husband. I cut all ties with them. I can’t do this dance anymore. I am extremely anxiety ridden and depressed. I had two parents in my life that were not there for me.


welcome to emerging from broken! I am so glad that you are here ~ from what you have shared, I know you have found the right site!
hugs, Darlene


Dear Darlene,


Dear Darlene,
This whole article applies to me. I am still trying to get my family to accept me by admitting my “sins.” It has only caused deeper depression and a lack of hope that I will be able to do anything positive on my own. I was was raised by a passive father and aggressive and verbally abusive mother. My sister was sexually abused. Three years ago my dad had a severe stroke, and my sister moved him to another State where she lives. I was left with overwhelming expenses, plus trying to earn a PhD so that I can find a job that I am good at and enthusiastic about. My sister thinks I am wasting my time. Until my dad’s stroke, we never knew each other. Now she is trying to manipulate my life through money. I have told her that I have to go to a Food bank once a month, plus pay taxes on my dad’s house. When I ask for help she gets angry. She said I should move near her and be with those “who love” me. Meanwhile she has been getting counseling for three years because of her husband who is narcissistic and manipulative. I don’t want near that situation, plus have to rely on her. I want to get well and have my own life. But I have doubts about getting well. I live alone and everyone looks to me to help them, no matter what I tell them about my situation. Your words sound so other-worldly to me. I pray that I will be helped to emerge from my brokenness to be the person I was meant to be.


Hi Janice
Welcome. There is tons of info here in the pages of this site. I am glad you are here and hope you will keep reading some of my other articles too. There is hope! I found total freedom from the dysfunction and I got my life and original personhood back!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Janice. I related a lot to what you wrote. My father was the aggressive one though while mom was passive. My father has passed and his being gone gave me the op to get away from the rest of my family now.

I was like you willing to take responsibility for stuff but when it came to my feelings and their responsibility they just turned stuff around and played the blame game. You know the pointing fingers and starting every statement with “YOU…” and continuing with examples of how ridiculous horrible I apparently am.

I’d get depressed, feel deflated and defeated. The more I tried the more ammo it gave them to continue putting me in the scapegoat role. I was also very manipulated and taken advantage of when my father was ill and dying by my sibs AND my mother who my sister would triangulate.

I don’t know your situation but I will say this. I was not able to even begin healing until I was able to get out and away.

I remember finding this blog sitting at my dad’s house one night in the beginning of this year and how much it helped me feel some strength. Because it gave me hope. I spent a lot of time reading how so many people out there severed ties and how much happier they are now.

I was afraid. I thought the abuse would continue with continual phone calls and texts and even knocks on the door. But although it may not last forever, I’ve at least had some time to get stronger so I have a better chance at taking care of me if the circumstance should arise.

It’s just nuts that I felt so much loyalty to people (family) that had no consideration for me…and that’s putting it lightly.

Good luck. I empathize and know the feeling of where you’re at. I hope you can find some comfort here.


Hi Laura,
I am new to this website, so I appreciate your sharing with me your experiences, and your empathy. You have given me some comfort, for which I am grateful. It is so nice to read people’s honest reasons for feeling broken, and that we are not alone in our struggles. I appreciate your message, even more so because I live alone (with an aged animal companion whom I dearly love). It can be dangerous sometimes to be alone with one’s thoughts, particularly if you don’t have the strength to redirect them when they start taking you down the slippery slope of past traumas or other negative experiences. So I keep all my feelings bottled up because other people don’t want to hear about my struggles. I know this from experience. Fortunately, being in an online doctoral program keeps me focused on positive goals. But that’s the only communication I’ve had until I found this website.
Thank you so much for writing to me, Laura. Sorry it took me so long to reply.


Hi Darlene,

I am hurting really bad because my only companion, my dog, Hope, is sick. She is all I have. It’s so hard living alone and not having a friend. You mentioned to someone that she is not alone but has EFB to help her. How can I be helped, Darlene, to believe that life, my life, is worth living, when I have fought depression, PTSD, and panic attacks? My moods are so volatile, and intense. I get scared that my impulsivity will over rule my rational thinking. I have searched all my life for a reason to live. When I seemed close to it, people like professors, or my parents, shot me down. I have experienced what Martin Seligman calls, “Learned Helplessness.” I want to cross over to the other side of the box and discover the real me. But after continuos electric shocks while trying, I have concluded that I am too worn out to keep fighting. And no one in my family would care. Their silence has made that clear. How can I go on, Darlene, totally alone?



Hi Janice. I know you directed your comment to Darlene, but I wanted to tell you that I am sorry that Hope is sick. Our animal companions can be our biggest support of love and companionship. I am sorry that you are so down and feel worn out. It is hard to be motivated when we’re sad and tired. I personally have a chronic illness that challenges me daily. I can only tell you that what helps me is this website, the support of a great therapist (a great one can be hard to find) and I try to stay as busy as possible. If you really feel desperate there are phone hotlines to talk with someone. In the U.S. one number is 1-800-273-8255. ((Hugs)) for you and Hope.


P.S. Janice: It is really good that you are reaching out here.


Hi Janice
Thank you for sharing that number Light.
Janice, I know that this is really hard. EFB is a great resource but it isn’t perfect if you are feeling as though you can’t go on. At times like that you really need someone to talk to and the number that Light shared is the same one that I recommend.
1-800-273-TALK (8255). Another option is to call your local health department or hospital and ask for free resources.
This website really helps people to pinpoint where the damage was done so it helps with coming out of the fog and sometimes the feedback from others is validating and healing too, but sometimes we need more.
I hope that your dog recovers.
hugs, Darlene


Hello again Darlene,

After sharing a story about my mother literally rejecting me (The last time I saw my mother was by chance in an art shop in town (we live just 10 minutes away from each other…so confusing)I went up to her with open arms and hugged her. She went stiff in my arms and pulled away, completely ignored me and kept trying on earrings and looking in the mirror.) – See more at: http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-grooming-process-of-discrediting-children-and-the-cycle-of-abuse/#more-4891
Your honest and validating comment about how brutal this encounter was left me with a truth to accept. I cried and shared it with my 21 year old son who hugged me and said, “Mom, you are an orphan, you don’t even have a mom.” I guess I have been blaming myself for this and many other interactions with my mother. Now, with the help of this website I am seeing clearly the consistent rejection that has been the theme of my family of origin. I’m struggling with how to think about my family, they are here but not here. What do you do with that?


Talk about coming out of the fog! This month I realized that a “friend” of 38 years was never a friend and quietly exited her life. In September I realized that the brother I thought was close doesn’t give a rip–he can’t even bother to keep my phone number–and that the cousin I thought cared is just a minion for my abusive mother and family. Two friends that I’d lost for forty years and then found turned out to be not to be friends at all.

The worst has come to pass. I see that I’ve been fooling myself. Everything has turned to dust and I’m at square one at the age of 57, but it didn’t kill me. I have my health, my brain, a comfortable place to live, my cat, car and computer. I’m happy and trust that this is all for the better.

Thank you all for your insightful and comforting comments.


when will i start meeting people who are gentle, kind, honest. who don’t have a need to attack, to be aggressive, whith whom i can have an honest, peaceful relationship, people who can be trusted, who will not be trying to set me up just to see how far they can go or how stupid or naive i am… i am really tired. after an huge set back and an emotional break down i finally stopped for a second, zoomed out and looked at my life from a perspective.
i am very tired and i am starting another chapter, all by myself. i would really like to finally not have to be careful all the time, secretive, or fighting. i would really want to finally start attracting the right people into my life. sometimes i lose hope. it would be so much easier if I were strong, aggresive, etc. but on top of my trauma i have always been a calm, gentle person, suprisingly for what i have been through, trusting, open and happy go lucky.
my “fault” has always been the fact that even though i am smart and i knwo what i want, i always needed some kind of support, especially that i have been like an orphan really, going through life all by myself. and boy was i finding “support” in all the wrong people….mentall ill, possesive, jelous.
i am so tired..sorry i had to vent


i am really not asking for much. i really like people in general, i still believe in human kind, i am an open person.
i feel like i have been attracing all those “predators” really thinking that if i am away from my family, nothing and no one can ever be worse. it is as if they could smell me…sniff me…as if I had the right chip or a sign of my forehead: “HURRY UP, GREAT BARGAIN: easy juicy victim: submissive, naive, open, loving and with a great need to be loved, gentle, delicate, well mannered, honest, dependent, used to taking all the blame ”

maybe that’s it….maybe i finally had to hit the bottom, have a nervous break down to finally stop myself for a second, see the pattern etc….?


oh the sign should always say: “no family. no one to protect her. match made in heaven for anyone with mental issues, a tasty treat for any male with a NPD”



Just saw your latest post on FB.
All my best wishes to you and your daughter!!


I guess I am still in that in – between where it’s becoming clearer that I am my own person, I’m not to blame for my brokenness; and still operating from the place I’ve lived my whole life: that is I’m at fault, I’m wrong, I am so bad that no one can trust, care for or love me.


I can relate to your place in the journey to emotional healing. I find it so easy to blame myself for not having a ” normal” life. My parents and sister never understood my sensitivity to their words and indifference to my needs. My nuclear family never made an effort to help me establish my own life. Instead, they saw my willingness to do things for them to gain their approval. If I didn’t do something “correctly” then came the verbal abuse. But I am beginning to find the courage build a life worth living, for myself and to satisfy my spiritual goals. If I don’t want to help a family member who is indifferent to my needs, then I feel free to choose of my own volition, no matter what they think or say about me. This is definitely new to me, but I am starting to feel good about taking a stand on how I want to live.


Hi Darlene,

Thank you for your courage in writing openly about your situation.I am still terrified of the consequences should I divulge and at this point in time I think it is more important to concentrate on my recovery.

I am deep in the throes of reliving everything that happened to me.I have come to the stage where its dawning on me that the abuse happened to ME and not to THAT little girl, baby etc and it is excruciating but I have to sit with it until I see it thru.Everyday is a miracle for i really can not fathom how the little me survived the pain that I am going thru right now.

Last night after a few nightmares I also dreamt of my ex husband who told me that I have a Personality Disorder.The creepy thing is that when I looked up the signs and symptoms it was spot on. I have the Cluster C avoidant type.The other outcome from the dream is that I finally saw him for what he was to me, an abusive bully!! That is what I knew hence having been attracted to him.All along I had been chastising myself for not having made the marriage work.

Thank you once again for your courage to heal.It helps me carry on especially at this very difficult time when everything has come to the forefront.

Bless you



I have just broken free from my ‘family’ and it felt very scary and uncertain at the beginning but as the weeks go by I don’t miss any of them, the drama, the unspoken truth, I have reported my abuser and the response from my parents was to knock on his door and ‘warn him’ that their shameful exitence of a daughter has finally broken the silence, I am in my 40ss and this happened through my teenage years when i babysat for this horrible human being. The family refused to believe me and my mums response was that ‘it would kill her sister’ if she found out, when i was raped at 19 i got the same response from my ‘mother’ as i knew the person who did it. She said ‘they are our friends you cannot tell about this’. I ended up having to give up my baby and was sent to a mum and baby home shamed and an outcast. Then recently I confronted my parents about the abuse i endured by my uncle and my fathers response was ‘your behavior was apalling at that age!’I was 12 and a runaway as a neighbor had abused me systematically from the age of 8-12, then my uncle took over. How nice to be blamed for all this! I felt like a burden on my family. The relief now of breaking free is amazing! I am a good mum to my 3 kids but it took years of domestic violence and escaping that, to ending up in an emotionally abusive relationship after that, but i broke free from both and will not look at a man after what happened to me. I have the support of an amazing therapist who would see the toxicity of my so called family, and i was ready to face the fact that no matter what i said or did my voice would never be heard. Thanks for this great website I can relate so much to things you say, i thought i was the only one but now i see that is not true, Thank you so much XXXXXX


Wow, just followed a quote from FB and then found this article. I realise it’s pretty old and I admit I haven’t read all the comments but it is soooooooooo on point for me right now.

I won’t bore you with all the details and it would take forever to do so anyway, but suffice to say I have been questioning lately whether I really am some kind of awful monster. Why else would my family treat me so badly?

My friends all tell me I am a kind, caring, lovely person. But I feel that I can’t really be any of those things or my family wouldn’t treat me so badly. If I try to stand up for myself they tell me I am bitter and old and twisted. Surely they know me better than my friends? After all, they’re the people who’ve had to live with me.

And I can’t bear the thought that maybe they just don’t really love me at all. So I stay, and I do whatever it takes to help me keep pretending that they do love me because if they don’t, what else do I have that is worth living for?


I am in a very similar position, Light. Two months ago I had to make the decision to not allow my animal companion suffer and I stayed with her to the end. I didn’t feel so alone having her. Now I am totally alone, unable to work, getting older, and have been abandoned by my family in my time of greatest need. I have been told I need to socialize more to help reduce the severe depression. But it’s hard for me to explain the emotional pain of walking into the house and not seeing my beloved pet anymore. I have lost motivation to interact with others. All I see ahead of me is loneliness. I took a stand with my sister who found new freedom in trying to control and bully me after my dad had a stroke and she moved him to a nursing home near her. She is not hurting for money, to say the least, yet she hollered at me when I asked her for financial help with the house bills–a house that is in my dad’s name and Medicare is allowing me to live in it because I’m on disability. I’m on a waiting list for subsidized housing. All these adversities are affecting me physically. I have a small hemorrhage behind my left retina, most likely from high blood pressure. The other day I went blind in my right eye for two minutes. Another sign of something serious. I am just so tired of suffering. It never seems to let up so that I can stabilize. Now, being totally alone may be what causes me to give up any hope for the present and future. I don’t like to end on a negative note, but I don’t have anything to live for, or purpose in life.


Hi Susan
WElcome to emerging from broken!
When family treats one of their own badly, it is never the fault of the child. There is so much in this site about how I took my life back from all that. I thought it was me as well. I thought “majority rules” and how can they all be wrong but the truth is that they were. Looking at the truth about what love really is played a huge part in setting me free from the dysfunction that defined me.
Glad you are here!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene
p.s. although this is an old post, there are active current discussions on the home page. I hope you will join us there.


Hi Janice,

Sorry to hear you are so down. I know personally how debilitating chronic illness can be, and how it contributes to loneliness and depression. It IS very isolating – that’s a normal response. The loss of a beloved pet sounds so hard too…

Have you tried the phone numbers that Darlene and I mentioned to you? (Posts 255 and 257). There are people you can reach out to in the comfort of your home – a step toward more socializing and getting help. Is your physician someone you can confide in and ask for help? I recently just asked my physician if I could come in once a month to help me get through a rough patch and my dr. knows I have little support and was very agreeable. And/or as Darlene suggested would you consider calling your local social services dept., your local hospital or health department and ask for help. If you reach out just a little, even though it is hard, it may be just enough for you to get a toehold toward feeling better. As much as you miss Hope, would you consider getting another animal companion…”Faith”? It’s so good to hear that you took a stand with your sister – it sounds like you still have some fire energy in you.

Hope you write back 🙂

(((HUGS))) Light


Hi Light,
I am so grateful for your response to my post, and for your empathy. I think you’re right about still having some “fire” inside me. It’s just that all the adversities happening in a short span of time has left me in a daze. After Hope died I had to go to the ER because I was dehydrated and my magnesium levels were so low that I couldn’t stop my whole body from shaking. I did find a good psychologist, and I will be seeing my doctor this week. He has always been compassionate with me. It’s hard for me to make friends outside of the professional community. I’m trying to change from being a people pleaser to one who won’t settle for a one-sided relationship. I’ve let people take advantage of me all my life because I wanted their friendship so desperately. I guess that’s why animals mean so much to me. I wish I had the money to care for another pet. But the expenses of staying in my dad’s house are too much. Maybe I will volunteer at an animal shelter–the one where I found Hope and was able to rescue her from living on the streets. Maybe opening up to hurting and abandoned animals will help me deal with my grief and the unknown future ahead of me. At least I will feel needed and that my life is not a waste of time. I will try to take small steps. Thank you, Light. I am glad I read your post. I know the battle will continue, but I will also take a chance on reaching out to those on this forum.
Many thanks.


Hi Janice!

I’m glad you found my post helpful. I like your idea about volunteering at the shelter – it sounds comforting to be around all of the animals and your care will matter very much to them. And it’s good to hear that you have a good psychologist (not easy to find!) and a compassionate doctor.

I know what you mean about one-sided relationships. They can be so draining and aggravating. My relationships have changed over the past couple of years…I’ve lost a few relationships, even with family members, and it’s going to take time to build a new “family” but I am very happy with my mutual friendships.

I hope you feel better soon.



I am so grateful to have found EmergingFromBroken. I thank you so much. I am an almost 40 year old woman and I have been in a 10 year string of abusive relationships. These relationships have ranged from violently abusive (with my 8 year old daughter’s father) to an extremely covert emotional abuser who managed to convince my entire family and his and all of my friends that I am crazy, to another verbally and emotionally abusive man that I just left on July 4th. I have been struggling for so long with this, and sometimes it feels like I AM crazy.

My family has told me that I am the abusive one. That I am the one who is abusing everyone around me by not admitting to my sickened mental state due to years of abuse and neglect. They believe now that I have formed abusive behaviors, and that I just won’t admit to this fact.

I was sexually abused by my best friend from 1st grade all the way through 8th grade. I was also sexually abused by my natural father. All of this happened right under my mom and step dad’s nose. They never even knew until I told them. When I did tell them, they cut of visits with these people for a while but then sent me right back as though everything would be okay from there. It wasn’t ok and the abuse continued, and my parents continued to ignore it.

I don’t remember my mom or step dad ever really being present. I don’t remember ever being held by my mom, I honestly don’t even think I remember her telling me that she loved me. I remember feeling like I was a child she never wanted.

It wasn’t until recently, that I realized that my mother’s neglect IS in fact, abuse. It wasn’t until recently that I learned how much her treatment of me has effected my self esteem and the choices that I’ve made. I was never even valuable enough to her for her to tell me that no one should touch me like my friend did and like my dad did. I was never even valuable enough for her to peak into my bedroom and see what was happening to me when my friend and I were “playing”. My mother not only didn’t pay attention, but when I brought it to her attention, she never validated my feelings. She sent me to all the psychologists that she was supposed to and sent me to lots of other people to talk to, but SHE never sat down with me and told me how valuable I was to her and that what happened was not ok and was not my fault.

I am a mother now, and I can tell you that I laugh with my daughter every single day. Even with all the Hell we’ve gone through with these men in my life, my daughter and I have a beautiful relationship. I have learned through my own motherhood, exactly what being a mother truly is. I have learned what it is to protect your baby, no matter how overwhelming (financially and otherwise) the odds seem to be, no matter how lonely it may feel, no matter how draining it might be. My daughter deserves my full presence in her life, no matter what. I am trying very hard to be the mother that I didn’t have, and I suppose that I will have to fill the role of the father that neither my daughter or I have had as well.

Now with this last one, I am going to just try to do this on my own. I need some time to heal, and time to really focus on her and I. It’s frightening because I am almost 40, I have not finished my education and have no real job, or help with child care. I would rather step out into the unknown though than to have my daughter grow up with the uncertainty and insanity of abuse.

I’m finding that it is very difficult to trust myself right now. virtually every single person who has ever said the words “I love you” to me, from my parents, to all these men, to almost every single one of my friends, has walked away from me, saying that I’m crazy and that I need mental help. The thing is …. I’m not crazy. I’ve been abused.

I’m finding that to truly honor the commitment that I made to myself that my daughter would not grow up with abuse or neglect is not only easier said than done, but it is an extremely lonely road to walk.

Since July 4th, I have found myself feeling utterly alone. I have absolutely no support system that doesn’t include abusive people for my daughter and I. It’s the most terrifying feeling. Sometimes I find myself wanting to fall into old patterns and just go running home. I tell myself, “At least I know what to expect.” I know now though that my daughter and I would not be welcome, even if we did try to go home. Unless of course, I would admit to my mother that I was crazy, and unjust in my reasoning for keeping myself and my daughter away from them.

I know better than to think that it would be a good choice for us. So here we go… walking this road together, my daughter and I. Lonely as it is, I know that we will find support along our way. True support, not crazy making, conditional support.

I am truly grateful to be able to read your posts here, they are enlightening and they help me stay focused on the real questions that I should be asking myself. I have been so conditioned to accept full responsibility for every awful thing that’s happened to me that sometimes it’s easy for me to do the work of trivializing my experiences for the people who’ve abused me. It’s so easy for me to doubt that my experiences were “really that bad”. I’ve been told so many times that I don’t have it so bad…. that I should just keep my mouth shut….

So thank you for giving voice to some of the questions that I should be asking myself. Thank you for giving voice to some of the feelings that I couldn’t understand. Thank you for your beautiful spirit, and for helping so many to remember that their spirit has value too.



Hi Erin!
Welcome to EFB! Thank you for your wonderful validations!
Thank you for sharing some of your story here too. YES it is possible to break out of all that conditioning! I am glad that my writing is resonating with you!
(Please excuse my late reply, I try really hard to welcome all the new people but it gets increasingly harder.)
I am glad you are here.
hugs, Darlene


I no longer fear rejection, I EXPECT it. Every lousy day. So, I give up.


Hi Lee
This site is all about turning all that around! Glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene


Hello All,
Has anyone noticed on their road to recovery that ALL excuses only sound good to the one making them? I have learned so much here, and am learning daily how to treat my own kids, who are grown, as I should have been treating them ALL ALONG. Thanks for this site Darlene


Hi Kelly
Yes, they sound good to the one who is ‘brainwashed’ by them and to the one making the excuse.
That is awesome that you are applying this stuff in your relationships with your own kids!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
I have never thought of that in comment in the context you pointed out, and it is clear to me what you are saying. Again, I am so very glad that you have made the journey, and are willing to share your experiences. What I am more impressed with is the fact that when you moderate anything, it “sounds” so loving, full of empathy, and true to your heart.
The way that I found your site, I googled why an adult sibling would treat family like gum on their shoe….and here I find ALL this information, and trust me, I need to read these posts, so I can grow as an empathetic human, and never take for granted that everyone had the upbringing I was blessed with.
Keep up the great forward motion that you have achieved and let others benefit from. Respectfully and with a much broader mindset, Kelly


Darlene, I read this particular article almost two years ago when I first came to EFB. I remember feeling sort of a stunned surprise. A question that went through my mind was what does she mean by “why I kept trying” because if course I kept trying. Something was obviously wrong with me because people treated me different from others, disrespected me and had different standards for me than themselves and other people. So, of course, it must be me. Yes, that was my thinking two years ago. I never entertained the possibility that maybe the problem lay somewhere else outside of me.
But it DID get me thinking. Was there something I had missed? Could I really have been taking blame and responsibility for things that were not my fault at all? Could I really be worth as much as these other people who always acted superior? Did I have the same rights and same value as them? Why was I treated as some sort of servant to them? For the first time in my life I realized I could question what I had automatically accepted for so many years.
I too came to realize that a lot of what I did ( compliance, doing everyone’s bidding, not standing up for myself) was because I deeply feared rejection. It came to the point where nothing mattered more than trying to be accepted. My comfort, my rights, my needs – I pushed all of that aside in order to not offend anyone because the fear of rejection was so strong. Nothing was more important to me than being accepted by these people, people who were not nice to me and used me to their advantage. I had attributed their treatment to whatever it was that was wrong with me and thought that because I was different it meant I had to do a lot more than others to be accepted.
I reread this article for the first time in almost two years. And I see it from a completely different angle now. Because I’ve done so much work over the past two years, I realized that I see this differently because I have shifted my thinking over these many months of work. I still get that fear feeling now when I’m about to stand up for myself, but now I know where it is coming from. And I’m starting to be able to talk myself through it. I value my rights and needs now so I realize that, yes, sometimes someone is going to get offended or angry when I take a stand. But it’s not the end of the world. It’s becoming less and less important to have to be liked by everyone. I dumped the idea of trying to change myself to gain acceptance by someone. I also realized that the people who are really worth being friends with are he ones that I don’t need to do a dance for. They accept me for who I am and the relationships are a two way street.
Thanks once again for all you do. Reading this again today made me realize just how far I did come in two years. Your work, your book, and the wonderful people on here have all been a part of my journey. There’s still work to be done and I’m going to keep pushing forward. Xoxo Amber


Excellent! They have already rejected you or they wouldn’t be belittling and devaluing you. So true! And we know it, so we going right into trying to prove our worth. It’s all a trap!


Darlene, how surprising to revisit this page after seeing your FB post today, and then see that the last comment was from me. At that time I was two years into the process and now, almost four. Rereading what I wrote in 2015 I could see I had made progress then, but so much more in the following two years. One thing I still need to address is that though I am standing up for myself much more, there are a few people that I get an intense feeling of fear when I think of confronting them. I tried to break down what these people have in common ( all women) and I realize that they are the ones most similar to my mother. I could not stand up to my mother as a child because she not only had all the power, but she was also physically and emotionally abusive. Any time I did something she considered wrong there were harsh consequences. I remember how hard she would slap me when I was only four. I would crouch by a wall and cover my head as her hands would be flying at my face smacking each side. I didn’t even have to misbehave to get her angry, she could just be in a bad mood and just saying something to her could set her off. I used to look at myself like I had been a coward shrinking away from her. Now I realize this four year old, who was me, had been terrified and used the only resources I had at that age to just try to survive those punishments. I think the fear I feel today with aggressive and volatile women comes straight from that fear as a four year old that 1) I might not survive the physical punishment and 2) that if I said anything or protested in any way, the punishment would get worse and therefore less chance of getting through it. While I know that these people who I feel the fear with now would not do anything physical ( and if they did I have options now) there is still the fear that standing up to them will bring about severe consequences. Actually, I have had to deal with consequences from this type of women such as smear campaigns, social isolation ( being rejected by the group) and character assassination. I feel like I just have to get past this hurdle where I can feel confident that I can get through this kind of backlash if I stand up to these “mother-like” monster women.
Darlene, I haven’t been on here as much lately but my journey has continued. I will never forget my STARTING place almost four years ago. It was the day I first discovered your blog. Once again, thanks for your great work!


Hi Amber!
Great to hear from you! Gosh time flies doesn’t it?
These are such great comments, such a great summary on looking back. Thanks for the update!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Denine,
Welcome to EFB!
Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene


Hi, First time to your website Darlene and wow! Community! Thank you so much for providing a platform to connect with others who can relate. I’m recovering, but am pretty isolated where I live. One thing I’ve read repeatedly so far is to have a good support system, to not try and heal in a vacuum…so this is a great place to find. I’m from a dysfunctional family, and have recently begun to draw boundaries which instantly resulted in me being shut out of the family instantly.The hardest part for me now is forming new SAFE friendships but I realize this is very important. I’m wondering, does anyone know if there’s a place you can connect individually, like a pen pal or something? And curious to know how to find the latest post on this site, other than going to Facebook? Thanks again for listening and God bless you all.

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