Stepping out of Victim Mentality by Understanding What It Is


EFB Carla SunsetVictim mentality is the wish, hope and belief that by accepting nasty behavior and even covering up or excusing nasty behavior, that love will be the end result. I can’t think of one time that compliance led to love. Not even once.

As a Victim I believed that my love could heal others.

I believed that if I could prove to them that they were lovable, that they would love me back. And I put a lot of effort into proving that they were worthy of love. I cooked, I cleaned and I complied. I was quiet and polite or I was funny and bright; I kept the secret, I didn’t ‘bring shame on them’, I turned a blind eye. I accepted what they dished out as it was the normal that they taught me. I thought that was love. I thought that my love was ‘unconditional’.

I tried to ‘earn’ love.

I tried to prove my worth so that I would BE loved.

I didn’t really understand love.

As a victim I believed that if I was compliant, and if I did what they seemed to require from me that I would be appreciated. But the rules always changed. Instead of realizing that their rules always changed, I thought I was stupid.

I believed that if I jumped through their hoops and proved that I was ‘trying’ to be who they wanted me to be, that they would SEE me as worthy. Nobody ever saw me…

they only pointed out what was lacking in me so I tried harder. My trying harder is what made them feel worthy. They had love mixed up with worth and therefore so did I.

But I thought it was me; they told me it was me. Victim mentality believes that when WE are who they want, then we will be loved. Victim mentality believes that it is always up to us to make the changes.

I thought that unconditional love meant that I should put up with the ways that I was regarded and disregarded. I thought that would “prove” that I loved them. (and then I would be loved.)

I didn’t really understand what love was. I only knew what I had been taught about love. I had been taught that love was compliance, obedience, and a false understanding of ‘respect’.

And one day I realized that the way I had been taught love was wrong and that ‘they’ didn’t love me the way they taught me what love was.

Love was all about them. I was the only one working to prove love. I was trying so hard to prove my worth to them (so that I would BE loved) that I didn’t realize that they didn’t follow the very rules that they taught me about love.

Victim Mentality believes that compliance and obedience will result in love.

I can’t think of one time when it worked that way. The harder I tried, the more they asked me to try harder. Because it was my jumping and my trying that made them feel worthy. They have power mixed up with worth. And because this is not how anyone is defined as worthy, they had to make me jump higher and higher. They are afraid that if they ever tell me that I am good enough, I might stop looking at my defects and then see theirs.

I stepped away from victim mentality in order to look at the truth about love and I saw myself for the first time. I saw myself down on my knees, groveling on the floor, begging for any scrap they would throw my way, begging for a love that didn’t exist. I saw myself as a woman who had given her life, and disregarded her own feelings and needs (as I had been taught to do) in order to be loved by people who treated her badly. I saw that as long as they kept me looking at me as the one who was lacking, I wouldn’t notice them and all that they were lacking.

I began to realize that love doesn’t do what they did to me. Love doesn’t define the one ‘loved’ as a servant. Love does not reject the one loved if they have thoughts, feelings or desires that don’t match the ideas, feelings or desires of the “lover”. Love doesn’t shut one person down. Love does not build one person up at the expense of another.

And love doesn’t accept that kind of treatment because it isn’t related to love. Love doesn’t accept unacceptable treatment because acceptance empowers the abusive controlling person.

And as I realized my own victim mentality, I saw my fear of their rejection. As I began to see the truth about the fear of rejection 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.

And I exchanged my victim mentality for the truth.

I stepped out of the darkness and embraced the light.

I traded my shackles for life giving freedom.

I am not on the floor begging for scraps anymore from people who don’t want to know what love is;

I am dancing in the sunlight, laughing in the rain with my arms spread wide giving and receiving real love.

Please share your thoughts about victim mentality or how you learned (or are learning) that love doesn’t hurt, own, dictate or objectify.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

The inspiration for this post comes from my book “Emerging from Broken ~ The beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” available on the upper right side bar here in the website.

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



Darlene I am sitting here totally gobsmacked! You have just written my life as a ‘victim’ and some of the things you mentioned such as ”compliance and obedience will result in love”, resonates so much with me because I truly believed that if i did what i was told that i would be loved, I did not realize that this was victim behavior ,
”they only pointed out what was lacking in me so I tried harder. My trying harder is what made them feel worthy. They had love mixed up with worth and therefore so did I.” wow my life in a nutshell, every relationship, friendship, had me under the microscope pointing out my faults or mocking me and i truly believed they were right, i always felt everyone was better than me and i was not important because that is what i was taught in a ‘children are seen and not heard home’. Thank you for this blog you always bring me such comfort that i am not alone. xxx


These words are so empowering to me Darlene for they put my life into perspective. I was disregarded in this way from a very young child. As a matter of fact, Obedience and Compliance were taught like a school subject by my father. He was obedient to his parents til their death when he was age 54.
Many aspects of our life were scripted by them. (And they hated my mother & had no love for us)
My mother was a scapegoated child who married a physically and mentally abusive PTSD narcissist quite young.
She is the poster child for victim mentality and domestic violence, bad coping and denial.
This is a generational problem in my family.
I grew up knowing nothing else. I was taught this and it was modeled daily. I married someone from the same upbringing.
This is a powerful message that needs to be spread far and wide. It was life changing for me. Finding and reading the many articles on this site set me on a path of healing. Of learning why I have struggled with self esteem and the acceptance of a great deal of abusive treatment in many aspects of my life. Thank you so much for enlightening so many with the truth. -Karen


I forgot to mention: the last time I visited my mother 3 years ago, I Was literally “on my knees” in front of her helping her with her shoes and I looked up and she was smurking at me and ding ding ding an alarm bell went of in my head and I thought she enjoys seeing me be subservient to her. I too. had tried to model love to her after a 9 yr no contact. Dad died and I thought well things can be normal now but it was her all along being the critical, abusive one and because I was so trained to accept it I just slid into quiet compliance again each time I was corrected, put down, belittled or criticised. I was so use to it. Non compliance is “crazy behavior”. Any back talk or acting out is “craziness”. It was always very black and white- accept any and all bad treatment quietly or be loudly and abusively labeled bad, no good and crazy. Sorry for the soapbox! I am very offended by the “crazy” label.


Karen R – don’t be sorry for the soapbox! I feel very much the same way. I’ve been labeled crazy my whole life. There isn’t a sane way to respond to the insanity I’ve had to live with, except what I’ve finally done. I walked away.

Of course THEY think I ran away; that I’m a weak and silly girl who thinks everyone is out to get me. I just kept asking myself WHY should I try to be strong enough to ignore the crap that my family was throwing at me with consistency over 50 years!

There was no negotiating, discussion, no way that anyone was willing to consider trying to understand what was wrong or how to change it for anything to improve for anyone. I’m 58 years old. I’ve tried everything that I could think of and as much as I understood of what I’ve read and heard and nothing made any difference. I didn’t really exist to my mother and siblings, and they convinced my kids that I don’t really exist.

They don’t like me and they don’t really want me in their lives except to be an example of what a screw up is so they can tell themselves that at least they’re better than me.

It is pretty fresh and still hurts sometimes, but I know now that I’m a lot better off outside of a system that is dependent on keeping me looking and feeling like a failure. Success only exists outside the system. That’s where I’m going to be from now on!



Begging for scraps, being compliant and constantly changing to dance to ever changing new expectations and demands. That was my way of life with my mother, with my peers, at work. Always molding myself I to what I thought someone else wanted me to be, and thinking that if I found the right formula I would be accepted. And…..it didn’t happen as long as I danced the people pleaser/ sacrifice my own needs and wants dance. The people I felt comfortable around throughout my life have accepted me without me having to comply with what they want. I didn’t have to give myself up in order to have their love or friendship. Those were and are the people that really care about me. And the others; no matter how hard or fast I did their dance it was never enough and the love and acceptance never came. And these are the people I am better off without. As time goes by I have been doing less people pleasing, and gravitate towards more respectful and loving people. I am far less likely to get taken advantage of or to chase after someone who doesn’t want me in their lives. I am still working on things with a few people, some of which I have limited contact with.
This article is a great description of what a lot of us go through in an attempt to be loved and accepted. I needed to have the fig lifted to see what those people were really up to! As always, thank you Darlene for lighting the way down the path to self live and freedom.


Hi Marie
When I realized this truth deep in my heart, the shell around me cracked and there was a new beginning. You are certainly NOT alone!
Thank you so much for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Karen
Yes, I see the cycle over and over again. I call it “living in the system” and if it isn’t exposed everybody is caged. Realizing this truth is like having the key to open the door of the cage. And once we see it- it is so easy to see!
Thank you for sharing, and for always being a part of this effort.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Hobie
I could write a whole new article in response to your comment. 🙂 (maybe I will!) When I go on the other side of this and began to see myself as worthy and nothing like the ways that they had defined me, I realized how freeking pathetic that THEY are. And then it hit me; that is why the can’t validate us. If they validate us, and if we begin to fly as individual lovable healthy adults, then maybe we will see their imperfections. If they tell us that we are Okay, we will see that they are not. And they get their worth from making sure we are jumping.
I love my life today living in the sunlight and laughter of freedom to be me!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Amber
When someone wants us to give ‘ourselves’ up, it isn’t love. It is never love. The definition of love never changes. There is no entitlement, there is no inequality of value between people when there is love. And love is like sunshine and water.. when there is love, people flourish, they don’t diminish.
(I am feeling flowery and mushy with my comments today! lol)
hugs, Darlene


Thanks for this one Darlene. I don’t think I understand ‘Victim mentality’ very well. It’s more like “Don’t be a victim’ when I’m telling someone about something shitty someone else has done or said. So that’s just invalidating.

Or “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ so I have to wonder how come it worked so well on me then? If they actually “can’t”, why is that even a saying?

Because I certainly felt subordinate to, inferior to and lesser than my parents (then transcribed onto other authorities or authority-figures, much to their benefit, but not always. And not always to mine either).

And all that was the exact reflection of my family’s beliefs about children. That’s the way they wanted it (except when they didn’t) My mother would group ‘children and animals’ together as an example of someone (something?) that didn’t get to say anything.

And I didn’t consent to it, in fact I often fought, I often tried to assert myself and I was punished as a result. So on the one hand you have a mother who wants to subordinate you and punishes you for insubordination and then later you’re told that you aren’t subordinate unless you’ve consented to it?? Catch 22 was one of those novels I gulped down like water because it reminded me exactly of my family and the consequences for me.

A couple of years ago I discovered that there is a family ‘thing’ (is it a practice, a philosophy?) around children or young people being ‘too willful’ and so the older relatives (in both cases old women) discussed the idea that such and such a young person’s will should be “broken” to solve this ‘problem’. I’ve heard it on both maternal and paternal sides. Once when my maternal grandmother was talking about me and once when a cousin on my father’s side was talking about her grand-daughter. Decades apart. I thought that fully fucked up.


Hi Alice
Yes great comments. I read some stuff from the 1700’s when that thinking started; the belief that a child’s will must be broken. There was a belief that children are born evil and it is up to the parent to ‘beat it out of them’ or whatever. AND furthermore they also believed that children under 6 (I think it was somewhere between 5 and 8) had NO memory so it didn’t really matter what the parents did to them.
When I think about this thinking it makes me sick but it also occurs to me that this ‘teaching’ suits anyone that wants to abuse or mistreat. Once again, children are not people. In my early speaking and writing I often talked about the idea of “when do children GET to BE people then?” And the answer is usually stuff like “when YOU have YOUR own house you can do what you like” and When YOU have kids you will see what it’s like or you can raise them the way YOU want.
And the way that I see that is right back to the dysfunction and as far as dysfunctional families go, they NEVER see their children as individual OR valid in their own rights. (because that would result in the loss of control that defines THEM)
Back to your point ~ so they ‘break them’ and then what???? Well that is why this blog is so popular I guess!
hugs, Darlene


It’s really hard to let go of the fantasy that someday I’ll be able to come up with just the right words and they will ALL see what they’ve been doing to me. But I know it won’t happen. It’s really like they live with a whole matrix of rules that don’t make any sense to me, so I don’t make any sense to them.

I really do miss my kids and grandkids, but at this point, I don’t see them as the people that they used to be, or that I thought they were.

What I know now is that my only chance to actually be myself is to stay away. Fortunately, there are friends who seem to know who I am now and like me and I feel like a real human being in their eyes.



Hi Darlene! I believe my family had reserved ‘personhood’ for me for whenever I was accomplishing whatever they had decided the appropriate thing was. For a daughter it would be either marriage and kids or eldercare (or both).


Thanks Darlene, It is so helpful to be able to explore the various dysfunctions of our families and to be able to have discussion about them.
My mom could never accept that I would not totally bend to her will. I wanted her love so badly and I would have loved to please her, but the only way that I could please her would have been to cease to have any mind or spirit at all. She needed me to be what she wanted me to be or I was not good enough and I was undeserving of being loved for who I am. She needed me to be totally compliant and live up to what she wanted me to be, which I believe was the image of her mother.
She wanted me to be like the good wholesome farm girl from Arkansas. The trouble was that I was raised in dysfunctional abusive homes and had no idea how to become like my grandmother. I wasn’t raised on the farm.
I don’t mean to say that I stood strong against her because I would have loved to comply, but the boat load of what she expected me to accept was more than I could endure. I just couldn’t accept the subservience that was required, and not just to her; subservience to my step-father, step-sister, and etc. It was just too confusing for me and more than my heart and mind could deal with.
I am not sad that I could deal with all of that nonsense. I just wish that the demand had not been so high that there was no possibility for me to meet it. Basically, it comes down to the expectation that I had to have ‘no personhood’ as Alice stated. I had to be a moldable empty shell in order to be acceptable.
“I thought that unconditional love meant that I should put up with the ways that I was regarded and disregarded. I thought that would “prove” that I loved them. (and then I would be loved.)” This is the way that I lived when I was a child, but after being away for 21 years, I could not fall back into that same way of being, no matter how much I wanted to prove that I loved my mom.
If she and my stepfather hadn’t driven me away when I was 18 years old, I may have never been able to get out of the program!


I was never abused. I was disregarded. My sense of humor comes from always trying to make them laugh to be accepted. Just recently I was having doubts about the boundaries I have established. As in, if I were a better person I would be the model, I would let them back in. This perfectly timed post reminded me why that is a delusion and validated the decisions I have made up to this point. Thank you.


Darlene, I LOVE what you wrote…and especially the part about rejection. I was rejected but had to come to terms with the gripping FEAR of being rejected….not realizing that the door had been slammed in my face and locked from the time I was a very small child. I had no understanding about rejection, dysfunction, abuses etc so I was exactly how you described in this article. Trying for the fantasy. It was a fantasy for me because my parents had already made the choice to reject me from the time I was very young. Their words and actions proved it. I always believed there was something extremely wrong and freakish about me…never realizing that my parents were the odd, creepy, abusive ones. My rejection was so severe on different levels that when I discovered the truth and became free, it has been a total relief and feels like I have been let out of a prison emotionally! I am free and happy like I never dreamed…and no matter what others try to throw at me to try to bring me down, I now have a security in KNOWING that I am equal to everyone around me. I have had some truly negative experiences in the last few years, but now it is so different…and I am still learning! It is amazing how grounded and whole and balanced I feel because of understanding the truth about my self and life now that the lies have been exposed. It has been exciting and everything feels like a new learning experience instead of me automatically feeling down and rejected and hurt. My parents may have been abusive and neglectful and rejecting of me, but today I am not a victim, which still feels like a miracle.

I have been dealing with my husband’s friend who is extremely passive aggressive with me and there have been very difficult days since he is living with us for awhile. The old me would have caved in and not understood and taken the abuse. Not now. I have set up boundaries to protect myself and my husband now respects me equally and is in total agreement with me. If this man breaks our agreements he will be kicked out. What I have come to understand is that I have equal value in my home with my husband and what we have worked very hard to create in our family. HIS friend wont be allowed to come between us or destroy or create chaos. I never used to feel comfortable thinking that way because I didnt believe it for myself. Now I do stick up for myself and my emotional happiness and well being and it feels great. I think this guy will probably end up kicked out , but that will be HIS choice and I wont feel a bit guilty. Learning to treat myself with respect feels great! Rejection is a thing of the past for real now. No more fantasy about love and people and family.


I also wanted to comment about the difference between my victim mentality and being free from it…..I used to think I was being “mean” or too hard on someone by setting up boundaries to protect myself. I didnt believe I had the right to do that. I honestly believed there were others who were truly more deserving than I was so they should be allowed to do or get away with anything with me. That LIE ensured that I was consistently being used/abused/ignored/passed over and REJECTED. It isnt mean or harsh to set up and uphold boundaries to protect ourselves at all…in fact, it is very loving to do so. I have only learned to love myself by realizing that truth..that I am equal to every person. Not better than or less than, but equal. That has been the secret to loving myself and liking myself. Family doesnt have to be biological. Family can be those who love us in healthy ways and treat us as equals in our relationships. Biological parents or siblings or grandparents or other relatives who wont treat us as equals are stealing and wasting our time on this earth if they wont change. In my opinion.


This essay perfectly describes the trajectory of my emotional life. I was the middle child who tried, tried, tried to make things work with my mom, dad, sister and brother, niece and nephews but was blamed for all that wasn’t right. A few years ago my mother said to me “it’s your fault the family’s not close–you should have figured out a way to make the family close”.

I moved 3,000 miles away the moment I finished high school to get away, but over the next 30 years spent around $70,000 and my free time visiting, giving gifts and doing favors such as spending my yearly 2-week vacation painting mom’s house. I figured that if I just kept trying my mother would finally think well of me.

I increased my calling, visiting, letter writing, gifting, talking, listening. When those didn’t work, I decreased them. I tried yelling and threats. I read books, blogs and articles on psychology and family problems; I talked to psychiatrists, counselors, friends and even strangers on planes for insight.

I strained my brain to try everything possible on this earth, but I could not measure up to my crazy sister and alcoholic brother in my mother’s eyes.

I hit a breaking point in my 40’s. No more calls, visits, letters, presents, favors, or trying–I left. Through the grapevine I hear that my mother says I left because “Davina never liked her family” and “Davina’s just like her father” (who was a sociopath and hated everyone.)

Honestly, I never felt at home in that family from my earliest memories. I felt out of place and wished I’d been born into a supportive, understanding, loving family. But I was determined to make it better if I could.

I never hear of my mother saying “I made a lot of mistakes and wish Davina would give me a chance to make up for it” or “I was never nice to Davina” (shockingly, she has admitted this to me privately). Instead, I hear how it’s all my fault–not even a small percentage her doing.

Thus I know that trying again would just waste my resources and cause me a devastating emotional backslide. It’s painful that I poured so many years and resources into a black hole, and that this pattern carried over into the way I conduct my friendships and the men I choose. I wasted decades that I should have spent developing a happy life of my own.

And every member of the family lost out in this sick pattern–my brother and sister aren’t close to each other or me, and their kids don’t know their aunts and uncle. Everyone was kept split apart so that mommy could be the powerful one in the center, manipulating.


Hi Alice,
OF course it would be both depending on the child. (esp. girls and ‘god help you’ if you didn’t fit in their box)
But I did the marriage and kids thing and was shocked to find out that it didn’t make ANY difference… in fact the writing was on the wall that they were going to go for the kids next. (and grandparents usually use a different tactic with grandkids so it isn’t so obvious what is going on!)
I am so glad that I broke the cycle!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Hobie,
I had that fantasy too, and there were (still are) many times I admitted to myself how shocking it is that they didn’t see it. And how ‘unbelievable’ it is that they didn’t care, didn’t want to make any effort for me and today of course they all believe that it is MY fault this happened. But that is the system. That is the system we broke away from. It is heartbreaking when I hear of people losing their own children in this system. I am really glad that you are here Hobie, and that you are willing to share.
Hugs, Darlene


YES because ‘bending to her will’ in her eyes means that you “love her” and it just isn’t LOVE! Something I discovered was that no matter what I did, it wasn’t enough and I have seen that same thing a million times! I was a really good victim and it never mattered to ANY of the people that walked on me. Not one of them ever appreciated my effort and finally I realized that I deserved more.
Yay for being “out of the program”. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


Hi Becky,
Being disregarded is neglect and neglect is part of abuse because it isn’t love. I am SO glad that this post validated the decisions you have made so far!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Finally Free
YES I love what you said about coming to terms with the ‘fear of rejection!” I totally get that.
The key is that I don’t REJECT myself anymore!!
woot! hugs, Darlene


Hi Davina
Yes, the tactic you speak of in your last paragraph is called “divide and conquer” and you are very correct about the purpose of it being to make sure that the one doing it remains the powerful one in center.
Which kind of proves the fear they have of losing that power and is a truth leak about how insecure they are if they have to go to those lengths to feel worth!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Darlene: What an excellent post!! Puts a whole new spin on what exactly victim mentality is. Not the usual “woe is me” and “cry me a river” mentality that my sick parents told me I was pulling on them whenever I wasn’t able to live up to their impossible expectations but when it came down to them feeling like they weren’t up to snuff …well then that was a totally different story… in their minds anyway!!! That’s not what we are talking about here.

You really made me think when you posted: “ Because it was my jumping and my trying that made them feel worthy. “ I never thought about it this way before probably because the whole thing makes me sick …but it is true. THEY WERE THE PUPPET MASTERS. They held the strings. I just wanted to be loved by them. They were always raising the bar. Nothing that I ever did was good enough to please them. We didn’t celebrate things in our home and now I know the reason why. It wasn’t for a lack of me not having anything to celebrate. It was because they couldn’t handle celebrating any of my successes without THEM feeling like THEY weren’t good enough. You really opened up my eyes.

I think about what all of this “jumping higher” cost me throughout my life. How my mother’s expectations of perfectionism robbed me from ever having fun. Anything that I loved to do turned into a J-O-B. My father, on the other hand, was drunk every single day of my life. He came along with his own set of rules that no one could possibly live up to and with those rules came the constant criticizing and ridiculing that led me down the path to self condemnation. Between the two of them there wasn’t anything left of me other then a boat load of addictions, DID and depression as a way to cope with all of their sick crap throughout the years.

My parents weren’t happy unless they were raining on my parade. They fed off of me like some sick parasite looking for love but they never were going to find that love inside of me because they killed any chances of that with all of their denial, control and manipulation. They got a sick pleasure out of making me feel like a worthless piece of garbage. That is what made them feel good. That is what made them feel safe. That is what they called love but it was all rooted in their own fears of being rejected and abandoned. It didn’t have anything to do with real love and the worst thing about it is they planted that sick seed inside of me. I too am afraid of being rejected. There are parts of me that still think at some point everyone out there will eventually leave me. That sick way of thinking is embedded in my head. It will take years to get it out of there!!!

It took me such a long time to get to this place of finally being able to understand what true love is and what it is “supposed” to feel like and what it does and does not contain. I still am not at the point of fully allowing myself to feel genuine love due to the plethora of other lies that my parents taught me about myself through their abuse. Love is not safe to me because look at what their love did to me.

Victim mentality was a way of life for me for 48 years. I half killed myself trying to please them and for what?? There is no way to please someone in this sick cycle of mass destruction. It is an endless loop of do more, try harder that never results in love. Love is not part of the formula.

SO HARD to overcome the devastating affects of being abused and all the sick ways of thinking that go right along with it. I no longer look for love from my parents anymore because now I know that they just don’t know how to do it. They only know how to offer a “sick” kind of love and I am no longer interested in that. I no longer have to think about “did my parents ever really love me” because now I know the truth. They did …but it was sick and it robbed me from the life that God intended for me to have. I won’t miss their love any time soon!!!!

Thnx Darlene for this wonderful site. I have learned so much from you and everyone else here.

Hugs right back at ya!!!


Finally Free #16- Everything you wrote here resonated with me. When you said ” I honestly believed there were others who were truly more deserving than I was so they should be allowed to do or get away with anything with me. That LIE ensured that I was consistently being used/abused/ignored/passed over and REJECTED” that is exactly what I used to believe and it opened up the door for being abused over and over again. Thnx for sharing this great piece of information. Setting up boundaries is a scary thing to do when you never were taught how to stand up on your own two feet. You seem to be mastering it very well. You give me hope that one day I will be able to do the same thing.



Kris – reading your comment #22, I started to wonder if they actually get anything from all the crap they put us through. I wonder if they try this stuff thinking that they WILL feel more worthy or maybe powerful or something if they keep us jumping to their demands, but they NEVER seem happy.

It doesn’t really make any difference in how we are affected by their behavior, and whether they actually get anything positive out of the hell they put us through or not, they don’t seem likely to stop.

I’m actually thinking how foolish it is that they seem determined to keep doing the same thing in spite of the fact that it keeps them miserable. We’re the ones who have the chance to be truly happy, recognizing the futility of trying to please them.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. At least, I’ve heard that a lot recently and it does make sense! I’ve decided to do something different and I’m getting better results in myself, which is where it really counts because I’m the one I can’t get away from!

It is really SO HARD to overcome the affects the whole package. It’s easier to shut down the crazy making loop of comments the abuser used to keep us “in line”, when they are far enough away that they can’t have access to our ears!

For what it’s worth, I feel that much freer knowing that they are so determined to cling to their dysfunction that they are very unlikely to ever really be happy, and they never really were happy anyway. it is so much clearer to me that their misery was never my fault to begin with and I’m not responsible for them now.

It just keeps getting better!



Kris, when you wrote about your parents and how they fed off of you like some sick parasite, it made me remember what I used to say to my husband about my family. With me out of the picture for good once I cut them off, I used to say “Let them all feed on each other now” …..because that is how I used to feel too! Like I gave them something they loved to feed off of….by rejecting me and being hot and cold and playing little head games with me, it somehow seemed to feed them. Also, I used to feel exactly like you about believing that at some point everyone would eventually leave me too! I hid that fear from everyone, all the time. You hit on what used to be my biggest fear of all! I hope it will encourage you to know that finding boldness to begin believing that I am as important as anyone else…not more, not less, but equal is what really gave me even more boldness to begin to stand my ground and set into place new, healthy boundaries for myself. It has been a total process, and I have been shaking in my boots in the newness of doing all of this, but so gratifying as I see how it really works for me. That is a huge reason why I am happy in ways I never dreamed I could be. It is absolutely scary to begin to set boundaries and yet it is such a satisfying feeling….one of well being…when you set one you need. I just worked on setting up new, needed ones…with my husband …in the beginning…and I was shaking, heart pounding…but I stood firm and didn’t cave in. I think for me that was the key. Thank you for your encouragement and kind words! They mean a great deal to me.


Hobie …I think you summed it all up pretty well!!! You have such good insight. At this point I am just happy that I am not them!!! My parents will die never knowing what it feels like to be genuinely loved because they never learned how to love themselves. How sad is that. I don’t even care what they think about me anymore and for me to say that it is huge. Lots of hard work and tears shed over that one!!!

I like how you said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. At least, I’ve heard that a lot recently and it does make sense! I’ve decided to do something different and I’m getting better results in myself, which is where it really counts because I’m the one I can’t get away from”

THAT IS SO TRUE. Changing how WE look at things is what makes the difference. Our abusers aren’t going to change one darn thing about the way they handle anything. You took back all your power from your abusers by changing the way that you did things. You made the choice to put yourself first over them. At that point it no longer mattered what they had to say. All that mattered is what you thought about yourself…. AWESOME!!!!

When I learned how to start respecting myself that is when things began to change for me. Doors began to open. No easy task when you were taught a bunch of lies about yourself but once you can get to that point there is such freedom waiting there for you. I found that learning how to love myself was key to that freedom. Everything revolves around that. You can’t have close relationships with people if you hate yourself. It will never happen.

So much to learn!! Thnx for all of your good input. I really enjoyed reading what you wrote.



Darlene, yes I guess that it’s probable that nothing I could have done would have changed anything. But the belief was there.

Finally Free “I used to think I was being “mean” or too hard on someone by setting up boundaries to protect myself. I didnt believe I had the right to do that.”

I also feared and sometimes still do that if I set up boundaries and make respect a requisite that people will dislike me and leave. And that’s not actually wrong. Some people do in fact dislike it and leave and it’s very hard to say ‘well, they weren’t worth it in the first place’ What does ‘worth it’ even mean?

I’ve had to get used to the pain of ‘losing people’ due to it. It’s still hard to say “well they didn’t respect you in the first place, they didn’t like you in the first place”. Or when I stop or cut back on doing things for people. The ‘friendship’ drops off. I think people that like you just do.

My family certainly didn’t respect me because they don’t believe that children (and for some of them ‘women’) deserve respect.

Certain family-members ‘like’ of me was definitely conditional on whether I was doing something for them or not or behaving in ways that were consistent with their wishes. I keep going back to ‘selfishness’ which was an arch crime but wasn’t what they expected from me selfish on their part?


I used to live like that, in the victim mentality. I made it my primary goal in life to have a relationship with my Mother!

I am NC now and I still feel like a victim. I feel like they all have each other as family and influence over extended family. I feel scapegoated and an outsider looking in.

The counsellor that I see continues with the ‘nobodies perfect’ are you perfect…..

Extended family ignore me.
I have shared the truth with some close friends and some professionals.
Do I share my truth with extended family and get shunned further?


Wow. This goes right along with what the lady who writes the BaggageReclaim.com blog (a blog about relationships) says. She says that you act out in relationships what your family dynamic was. Mine was, “be what they want you to be and you will be loved.” So, most of my romantic relationships were about “pretending to be what they wanted me to be.” For my mom, I felt that she didn’t love me, she loved the person I had to pretend to be. And I carried this into romantic relationships.

My mom never says what she means, or means what she says. The three big LIES were:

1. “Do what you want to do.” (translation: As long as Mom and Dad approve.)

2. “When you grow up you can make your OWN decisions.” (Translation: As long as those decisions are what Mom and Dad would have done.)

3. “To thine own self be true.” (Translation: As long as you are true to what Dad and Mom want you to be.)

I brought this up to Mom and although she didn’t reply, she made no effort to DENY it, either.

Because of all this, I don’t connect to my feelings very well. It takes me 48 hours to a week to process what I “feel” about something. This makes other people angry because of “why didn’t you say something back then?” Well, I couldn’t. No one understands this.

I’ve been spending a lot of time alone and trying to reach deep into myself and see what I “react” to. With the help of this blog, I feel I’m making progress.


Darlene, just when I get to a point where I don’t think I need to read your blog any more, you come up with another article, and I say, “OH THAT’S ME!” I’m still learning about ME!


I was never abused. I was disregarded.

Becky, I love this. Because I don’t feel I was “abused” so much as what other people write, what you said describes it more. DIS-RE-GARDED!

I love that word!

Children should be seen and n


Dang laptop! I hadn’t finished my sentence. Children should be seen and not heard. Well, I felt I had good stuff to say and nobody wanted to hear it.


spending my yearly 2-week vacation painting mom’s house.

I did the same thing, moved 3,000 miles away. And, if I took two weeks off at Christmas, well, my mom assumed the entire two weeks would be spent with the family! Like, I’m not allowed any time to myself! I would spend only 48 hours at Christmas, using the excuse that, “Hey, I had to get around blackout dates for cheap fares.” However, when I moved back to the state I grew up in, I had to make up different excuses for only staying 48 hours. Anything having to do with “work” would get Mom’s blessing. Thus, I pretended to be studying for “certifications” (that I really didn’t need or want).


Finally Free—Thnx for your encouraging words. When I first started setting up my own boundaries with my husband it was like war in this house. He wasn’t used to me standing up for myself and neither was I!!!! You are right when you say this whole thing is a process!! So many of the elements of being abused are mixed in all throughout it. To overcome the fear of rejection and abandonment, risk taking, and change is hard to do but necessary if you want to move forward. Things are getting better between my husband and I and I am thankful for that. You really do teach other people how to treat you. Who knew!! Dr. Phil said that forever but I never really got what the heck he was saying but now I get it. Overcoming the lie that everyone else was worth more then me was a huge step in being able to set up my own boundaries. There are parts of me that still believe that lie but a lot more parts that don’t. I am making a lot of progress and it is because of people like you who take the time to share what helped you throughout your journey. All it takes is one thing… that someone says… that finally clicks inside of your head… that can change how you view things about yourself for the rest of your life …for the better. One thing. That is what happens on this site and I am beyond grateful to have found it.


P.S. I shake in my boots too!!!!


YEAH! What they all said!


I am still learning about me too. I hope that I always am! I still need to read some of my past work, and I wrote it!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Poz
Welcome to Emerging from Broken! I think that saying “nobody’s perfect” in this situation is pointless. What does it mean? Does it mean that they are excused? Does it mean that the action we are speaking of is ‘okay’? I think people sometimes say those things because they don’t have anything helpful to say.
It was NOT by sharing the truth with the wrong people that helped it was being heard by the right people especially hearing myself and validating my RIGHT to have been treated differently and validating to myself that there was infact damage done!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


You really do teach other people how to treat you. Who knew!!

I agree with what you are saying, but here is my issue.

If I stand up for myself, then the other person just escalates to a point where I am fearful of something. Am I supposed to NOT allow that fear feeling? Kind of hard.

Also, I get told, “say it nicely.” Yeah right. If I do say it nicely, no one takes me seriously. So, if I say it in a bitchy voice, I get taken seriously, but I’m called a bitch! Can’t win!

I think it’s a combination of:

You teach others how to treat you
Others teach you what they want you to be.


Hi Kris
It was by opening my eyes that I found the answers. It was through looking at things differently that I realized everything that I write about today! AND yay!
Thanks for the comments!
hugs, Darlene


I LOVE LOVE LOVE this article and needed it so badly right now. In my case it is not only my ex but my mother that this applies to. Thank you for your excellent timing, Darlene!


Hi DXS— I know what you are saying when you feel like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t but my guess is the people who feel the need to escalate the conversation are the very same one’s who aren’t respecting your opinion to begin with because if they did there would be no need to escalate the conversation to begin with. You would both agree to disagree and move on your merry way!!!

What I think it all comes down to is learning how to respect ourselves because if we respect ourselves then we won’t care so much about what other people are saying and doing and when they want to escalate the conversation we won’t feel the need to bow down to their manipulative controlling ways anymore. Let them make the fool out of themselves and let them sit in their own stupidity and don’t take on their poor behavior and make it our own!!

What gets us into trouble is when we don’t stick up for ourselves and what we believe in trying to be everybody’s best friend , sacrificing how we truly feel in order to do it. That’s what I think causes all the fear and the anxiety and the self condemnation to set in because now we just disrespected ourselves by not having the guts to stand up on our own two feet and tell people how we really feel about something instead of what we “think” they want us to say.

Setting boundaries is very difficult. I struggle all the time with it but I try to be more forgiving of myself now instead of beating myself up with more self condemnation. I just thought about that recently. That is exactly how my abusive father treated me and that’s where I learned it from but it is up to me to learn a new way of handling things now because now I know what he taught me was all wrong. Now I try to talk to MYSELF “nicely” and it sure beats the verbal assaults that I inflicted upon myself before. Give it a whirl!!!

Hope that helps.



Thank you for this article Darlene. It is quite timely for me. I hate to think that I’ve had victim mentality all my life, but I have. My main difficulty with others remains that I keep trying to “fix” things. Even after I feel violated and confused, I keep trying to reach out and fix it, because I want peace so much. And when people are unresponsive I easily feel like it’s all my fault, I must have said the wrong thing, I must have done something so wrong and I can’t see it. I want to fix it, I want to build a bridge to people, and usually they’re just not having it, and then I’m left believing again that I’m such a screw-up with relationships.

I know that I’m usually dealing with people who are emotionally unavailable in the first place, but I find myself time and again trying to write or say the magic words that will bring resolution.
And I get disappointed again, and then I get angry at myself, again, for taking that extra step that went nowhere. I keep going to empty wells expecting to draw water. But if I kick myself over this, it compounds my low sense of self. I believe a huge dose of self-compassion is in order so that I can safely examine my patterns of interaction and come to the point of saying, “I come first now”.


Darlene…YAY back to you. I just had another break through and it is all because of this site. I kept on reading the different posts and the same theme kept on popping up. It is about ME changing how I look at things. That’s where my freedom lies. Your comment just topped it off. This might sound stupid but I am thinking if I just do the opposite of everything that my abusive parents taught me I will be a heck of a lot better off!!!! Lol That thought never crossed my mind before…until now. No way to describe how this feels. I could be writing this very same thing to someone else in a post but it never clicks with inside of myself. I guess that’s what my parent’s brainwashing did to me. When it clicks it clicks and it just clicked!!!!

God led me to your site to give me hope. To surround myself with people who care and who won’t judge and ridicule me for having my own opinion. It is a place where I can test the waters and learn how to communicate on a different level; one filled with love and not hate. A place where I feel safe and I can tell you those places are few and far between!!! The day I got the courage to post my first response on this website is the day I got my voice back. Before I never said boo about anything to anybody because I was so afraid of being rejected and abandoned I didn’t dare say a thing. Now you can’t shut me up!!!! Lol …all because you were nice enough to respond to my email when I was having a problem downloading your information. Believe me you caught me off guard…wasn’t expecting it to be the real you!!!!…. but it was enough to show me that you were a safe place to fall.

You are a blessing in my life and I want you to know that. Now I will shut up!!!!



Thank you! At 46 it has finally occured to me that how I was made to feel about myself as a child (ugly, hateful, unloveable, deceitful, secretive, disgraceful, stupid) which has caused me to detest myself – the pain, insecurity, people pleasing, depression, anxiety, lack of self esteem and no inner peace – I have finally realised I was just a little girl caught up in a disfunctional abusive family. Surely they KNEW what they were doing? Maybe they will never get it. It was wrong to treat a child like that. that was the mentality those days. But today I am ok, I quite like the person I am. I am not who they told me I was. I forgive them. Sometimes people do the “best” they can do at the time – knowing, or choosing not to know how they are damaging little people. I made a choice to treat my children as individuals deserving of love and encouragement – because, lets face it, the world’s damaged people will continue to wreak havoc on vunerable people


Thank you Hobie. That is also how I lived to age 58 when I went no contact. I dont think I have ever been loved in the true definition except perhaps by my childhood friend. Sad really. All that compliance and self denial, bad coping to deal with my disallowed feelings, all of it a denial of self, all to please people who couldnt care less about me. Darlene is so right. I WAS rejected years ago and never saw it. It was my failure I thought. I had failed to be good enough. But it was all a self serving lie perpitrated by my mother to keep me serving her all my life. What a sick thing to do to your child who looks up at you with shining love in her eyes. No contact has really helped. Now I am educating myself, learning all the positive things about me that were always discounted.


Hi Darlene, I grew up in a family that defined love as admiration. They expected my admiration and also, full compliance with their wishes. I was a small, sickly child and not able to earn the admiration of others for them that they desired. So they used my ‘condition’ to earn sympathy from others. My mother in particular, wanted to be admired as the long-suffering mother. Being sick became a major part of my identity and the only way open to me to gain any attention from my mom in that it seemed to please her when others saw how dedicated she was to me and admired her for it. The only ‘good’ thing my mother taught me about myself was that I was pretty. There was no effort made to help me develop any interests of my own. I was an object to be used to gain what my parents defined as love, admiration. If they had no use for me then I would have no one. It set a pattern in me to be useful to others so that I wouldn’t be left all alone. It is still a struggle for me to relate to others outside of the context of ‘being useful’ to them. However, I’m no longer afraid of being left all alone because I now realize that I’m not a child but an adult and even if I’m all alone, I can take care of myself. I no longer give myself away thinking that I can earn the approval from others that I so badly needed from my parents, as a child. Neither admiration or approval are unconditional love because they are earned and also, fleeting. Now, I get the unconditional and unfailing love I need from my faith and I give it to myself first and then others. Then I am able to serve others from a position of power and not need. I now understand that love is an emotional bond but it is also, a choice in how to treat others, in a way that is for their good and not my gain. My groveling for approval was no more and act of love than my parents striving for admiration. I think they are both a form of the victim mentality because each type of individual is searching for something in others that we can only find in ourselves.



Hi Jennifer
Welcome to EFB! Most of us here apply this to our mothers. :/ so you are not alone there!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Doren
Keep reading, sharing and thinking about this stuff, it didn’t come for me overnight either. Don’t kick yourself, understand yourself. Try and remember why you try and believe it is up to you for trying and then reassure yourself that you are re-learning how to live. You are letting go of your survival mode and false beliefs that you have had for a very long time and it is okay if it takes time to accomplish this! Resolution doesn’t always look like relationship. :/ Give yourself that HUGE dose of self compassion!
hugs, Darlene


Please don’t ever ‘shut up’!! I love the encouragement and the expressions of feelings about how this impacts others! Thanks for sharing again!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Astrid
Welcome to EFB!! Yay for making a better decision for your own kids. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam
Thanks for your comments too! We can only give away what we have to give so self-love is critical! I love this sentence you wrote: “My groveling for approval was no more and act of love than my parents striving for admiration. I think they are both a form of the victim mentality because each type of individual is searching for something in others that we can only find in ourselves.”
hugs, Darlene


Yes. The feeling in my family was also that children was inherently bad and needed to be broken and the badness punished out of them even if it was just silly “childish” behavior. Not allowed!
Quiet, Obedience, respect, asking permission to speak or use the bathroom, essentially seen but not heard. No spontinaity allowed. This describes my childhood.
They broke me completely by the time I was 18.

What was so insideous was that they then blamed ME for my brokeness.
I could never understand why they stayed in my life if I was such a problem and such a burden. It never made sense to me. I knew they were ashamed of me.

When I was 41 my parents gave me a ride home from a Xmas party where I had a couple of drinks and didnt want to drive. Sitting in the backseat they made me feel like a truant 16 yr old riding home in disgrace, instead of being aresponsible adult.
They ruined christmas with their nasty remarks and entitled behavior for the last time. We then broke contact for 9 yrs. I finally had had enough of their complete disregard for me in my own home.

EFB is an amazingly validating experience. I have always believed I am just a defective damaged crazy person. Learning the truth has been difficult to absorb as it is so opposite to everything I long ago accepted as dogma about myself. But Im walking in the right direction now, thanks to all who post.


Hi Karen
I couldn’t understand why my family and my husbands family as well was so irritated by my standing up for myself either. I thought they should have had a party to celebrate that their problem (me) was leaving! I know that controllers don’t want to lose the object of their control. They don’t want to lose the person they can take their frustrations out on ~ the person who jumps through their hoops and makes them feel better by doing it. ugg.
Yay for the right direction!
hugs, Darlene


Darlene, there’s another insidious thing about this. I didn’t write about it earlier because I felt it showed me in a very bad light. In all of this, there’s a wish for the “purity” of the victim. I fear that if I admit to any wrongdoing then everything that my family did will be justified! And at the same time, it’s what I learned and at the same time I’m ashamed of it.

I want it to be different. I realized that having been taught that ‘love’ was about what I could do for other people, I also ended up in this situation where other people would be doing things for me, and I would be encouraging it, even if I didn’t like them as people. I wouldn’t stop them from doing it because, well, I was getting something, wasn’t I? I don’t think it was love either.

Can you even say to someone, ‘stop doing things for me because I don’t like you as a person?’


I appreciate this post, as I’m getting fed up being a victim. Perhaps the biggest form of control I have felt in life is when that it’s suggested that I don’t love someone because I don’t want to comply, or because I don’t want them to invade or break into my boundaries. Often it was more about my not being allowed to do things, as opposed to my doing things. It was more about keeping me passive and available. So to exercise my rights to my own life and my own boundaries would mean that I didn’t love them, and not loving them meant I was hurting them, abusing them. It’s an extremely childish notion of what love is and left me guilt-ridden my whole life. More than trying to get them to love me (I feel like I almost gave up on that or that it was at least the next step) was my persistence in trying to get them to understand that I don’t not love them. A lot of my feelings that I was a “terrible person” came from this. Was the end goal to get them to love me? I suppose, yes, but by that I mean love me in action, in treating me with loving action. As far as I knew they loved me in feeling (sort of, except for the fact that they couldn’t see me, like not seeing the forest for the trees, just they’re wanting me to provide them with their ideas of what me loving them, or us loving each other, looked like in their minds) and I didn’t really like the way they loved me, or particularly not the way my mom did. There was this undercurrent that if I didn’t “love” my mom, I was responsible for her depression, or if she killed herself, and I’d feel the disappointment of everyone around me, and if I loved them and wanted them to love me, well, I better…. In fact, I think it was more about wanting other people to love me, “love” my mom the way she wanted so others would love me, so I’d have approval at large and be loved by those I actually wanted love from… I’m sure that I also cared and wanted her to love me for ME, after all I carried around the pain of her having hated me as a young child, but that was below the responsibility of having to prove that things I wanted to do for myself for my own life were not evidence that I didn’t love her. I used to have trouble with the term “emotional incest” because I thought it was a bit rude to real incest survivors, but as I get a better grasp on the effects it has had on my life, I’m not sure any other term would fit better. It’s real layer-peeling process, this. My mom is someone who seems very strong and in charge, so it’s sometimes hard to reconcile that with the idea that she was trying to get me to love her in such a need-based way. I can’t conceptualize what it would be like to have her understand me, feel my experience, and express real love and empathy. It’s like she lives on another planet from me. Now it’s like everyone in my family does, but for a while I thought there was a chance with some of them. I think the bottom line is that it is impossible to feel loved if you have had to sacrifice and compromise yourself to prove your love because then even if you’re loved (as I was, once upon a time), it’s not you who is loved—it’s this thing you became for them. So you’re never loved, even if you succeed. That’s why it’s never enough. From both sides, it’s never enough. On some level, the controller must understand that what their obtaining isn’t real, or that what they are measuring as love isn’t real. That is, that they must know that people behaving the way they want them to isn’t some natural phenomenon but something they’ve manipulated and that it’s the other person’s own brokenness and un-wholeness (or simple dependency) at the base of their need to comply. Do they ever wonder if they gave up the reins (all their manipulative, controlling behaviour), would they lose everyone and everything they’ve “worked so hard for”? It’s frustrating when you know there’s another way—it’s so much better and simpler. Real love has absolutely nothing to do with compliance. I just wish that I didn’t still carry fears of anger and rejection/abandonment, and susceptibility to guilt-trips and responsibility for people’s happiness. I wish that understanding brought immediately drawn, solid boundaries, but no, it takes work and practice…. I’m really feeling a bit cranky these days, wanting to be a different person because I don’t feel that I’m myself… I remember in high school at the guidance counsellor’s doing some career planning exercise and answering questions about my character, interests, etc., and after a few questions, she stopped and said to me that I was supposed to answer the questions truthfully for who I actually was and not for who I wished I was. I insisted it was me, but it was true that on no level of my life did I live according to the portrait of the person in answer to those questions.


Wow, this whole article just BLOWS my mind, Darlene.

My whole life–if I have ever confronted my family for treating me as a “less than” they accuse me of having a “victim mentality.” That I see myself as a victim of them…it always shuts me down. It shuts me down because it is a put down. My older sister has mocked me at times, saying, “Eira…you’re such a VICTIM.” Then I either grow silent or I cry. It’s like there is no way I can even have a discussion with them about their behavior. They absolve themselves for how they’re treating me by blaming me.

It’s so interesting…because now, when I have said this is where the rubber meets the road. You are to treat me like an equal, or not at all. Some of them have decided they would rather not talk to me at all unless I am in my place.


Alice, I have to say I love your incredibly uncouth question! I suppose you can say anything you want, but the response might not be what you want. I can relate to wanting to say that sometimes but then I would feel guilty and have to make it up to the person and then manipulate myself into believing that I like the person just because I feel bad, even as they continue to behave in ways that grate me, and then I’d likely resent them more just for all the effort I’m putting in, they like they’re “forcing” me to like them… But, then again, if I never had to see the person again… it’s pretty callow of me. (I’m joking but only slightly because, well, I’ve been in situations like these.) I think there are probably tactful ways to deal with this, social skills that I personally missed out on. I think there’s usually some kind of boundary problem, that the reason you don’t like them as a person is maybe because they are actually behaving in a way that’s uncomfortable, i.e. it’s not that you’re a mean person, etc. And sometimes I don’t think it’s my social skills that are lacking but the other person simply living in another reality, not wanting or able to recognize and respond well to social cues. (I say this with no judgment. I’ve probably more often been on the other end. It feels awful but really both sides are unpleasant.)


p.s. Alice, I would personally prefer it if someone told me “stop doing things for me because I don’t like you as a person” than if they kept taking things and letting me live in my delusional world. At least that’s honest. And if I was able to see myself and my own actions that were causing the other person not to like me, perhaps an understanding could be reached, a way to listen to each other. No doubting it would hurt, though, but sometimes you do reach a point where you have to be blunt. It hurts more to realize that the person never liked you but was just taking whatever you gave them anyway, especially if went on over a long period of time. It hurts more because of the shame in realizing that, in seeing yourself as this pitiful person—like there’s both a lack of self-respect, as well as the other person lacking respect for you enough to be honest. Or also because you’ve actually had a relationship in your head, a fantasy, believing that this person likes you, and it’s all been a lie, and there’s grief. Hopefully there are ways to be nice or diplomatic in your rejection of the person but sometimes in certain circumstances, you might have to be cold.


I recently left my husband because I became aware of the victim mentality. Part of me always knew that I should not have to work so hard for his love and approval. But I was raised that way, seeking my father’s approval to feel loved.

I am not free yet, but I can at least see the path I need to take.

Your words have helped me much the last several months. Thank you.


Darlene, thank you for your post to me. Thank you for taking the time and for your reassurance. It struck me when you said I’m letting go of my survival mode and that that takes time. How easy it is for me to see in black-and-white and to judge myself harshly for not “getting” things quicker. But this way of relating is all I’ve known and you remind me how challenging it is to learn a new way…

I know I’ve kept trying because I’ve believed I’ve hurt my family, and that somehow I’m not “normal” and our lack of communication is mostly my fault. That has always been the presumption, that I am “difficult” and “troubled” and others in the family have everything nicely resolved and I am upsetting things. So really I have internalized the family view of myself. When I told my sister I used to hook up with men from online she got angry and told me, “Do you know how much this hurts me?” When I asked her to send me the document from a doctor explaining Mom’s mental condition she put it off for months telling me it hurt her so much to read it. The presumption is I am always hurting THEM. Inside though, I’m really angry at this treatment, but I’ve taken that out on myself. I don’t know how to trust the part of me that’s angry at her and my parents.

I try because I have a fantasy in my head about having a “sister bond”. Even though everything shows me there is no relationship there and no real caring. I try because I believe their version of me. Can the 3 of them be wrong and I right? My gut tells me, yes, it doesn’t matter about being outnumbered.

I know I read somewhere that the way out is to learn to self-reference. My own voice tells me that I am not who they think I am, that I am who I think I am. That I have been afraid to break free of that definition of me, I’ve been afraid of my power. I’ve been afraid to really see how skewed it all was because then I have to face the damage done. I’ve been dodging the pain. But that voice tells me I am so strong and I am facing what others are too afraid to face. That I am not defective and never was. That I was in fact sensitive and gifted and open, and that openness was a threat.

Karen R, I’ve often related to your posts. I too was blamed for my “brokenness”. My anger and speaking up and seeing psychiatrists and substance use were seen as evidence of how sick I was. There was no winning. I too was broken by about 18, as I remember asking my high school principal if he thought I was human.

It strikes me the incredible amount of energy that goes into protecting parents and the feeling that things were “normal” or “not that bad”. And I’ve wanted that love so badly that I’ve hung around and tried to win my sister over. I didn’t know that was playing into the game of “something’s wrong with me”.


Hi Alaina!
Thanks for your reply to my horrible question! I feel like an awful person for even feeling this way towards people. As if I’m supposed to just like them and like them more if they do something for me. It’s like I’m not allowed to dislike anyone. How weird.
I hadn’t considered whether they might be boundary busting at the same time. They could be doing for me while being very disrespectful at the same time I guess, but if called on it, they say “But look at all I’ve done for you?” I’ve never navigated those situations well.
And what if during the relationship you realize “I actually just don’t like you because of your (way of doing this, attitude about that, whatever the thing is that you’ve come to see over time) if you’ve both done a lot for each other it’s hard to just stop and I feel I want the “good” aspects of the relationship (the “doing”) parts to go on. It’s hard to say whether it’s about pure selfishness of just wanting the stuff done or more about wanting the “good” part of the relationship to continue. I suppose if I’ve equated “doing for” with love it makes sense I’d cling to it, even in the face of am otherwise rotten relationship. It could also be I’m rationalising myself away because the realisation of it just felt so terrible. I kind of sat with this idea that I really didn’t like very many people “just because” or “for no reason other than themselves” And I found that sad as well as terrible.
I doubt I could ever say it to anyone outright. It’s too horrible.


Wow Alice. I finally said stop to my mother because I didnt want anything from her. I chalked it to my B&W thinking. Drawing a boundry was seen as acting out. Punishable.
You also spoke of them being right about you if you werent perfect? I made a bad choice as a teenager and that is forever their ” proof” that they were right about me. It seemed valid to me because I did make the bad choice. It was all such a big tangle of obedience and their directives of what was right. I had absolutely no one else in my life for guidence because of enforced childhood isolation. I was a brainwashed captive. I was trapped by my own mind for years like a dog in a yard with an invisible barrier.


Karen R. I also figured at one point there was nothing my mother could give me or do ‘for’ me that would be ‘worth’ the bullshit of continuing the relationship. But she did continue to try to offer me things and I refused and she took that refusal badly.

Why? I could only imagine it was because it no longer gave her any excuses to mistreat me and that I could finally be free if I stopped accepting things from her. And what essentially was left of our relationship if I no longer accepted certain things from her? Well, nothing much. No enjoyment of each other’s company. No real appreciation of each other. Just what was left which was a strained relationship in which she used me emotionally.

I came to the realization that I don’t like my mother. I guess that means I don’t love her either. And that is also a horrible thing because I want to love her. Like I want to love other people for no reason at all. It makes me think that this ‘unconditional love’ that we hold in such high esteem just doesn’t exist.

Also correct that I held myself to very tight standards so that they wouldn’t have ‘anything against me’. While my mother used the excuse that ‘Nobody’s perfect’, anything ‘bad’ I did would have been one more reason for them to justify their treatment of me. But at the same time I’m a huge hypocrite because I did stupid stuff and made mistakes and experimented with all kinds of things but just didn’t let on.

I mean to pander to the ‘good girl’ (or ‘golden child’) image because that’s the only one that keeps you somewhat ‘safe’ from punishment. Sometimes I think that if they knew just how ‘bad’ I actually am they’d really hit the roof. But all that is kind of kid’s thinking though. Doesn’t mean I’m rid of it:(

And there ought to be guidance, sure, but a real person also finds out about life through experience and making those stupid mistakes. They had no tolerance for it in me and yet would tell me such tall tales about their teenage and early adult years. But they mostly made it sound like good wholesome stuff. You know, ‘good teeth, dances and surfing’.


Alice, I’ve had the same feeling about people doing things for me or giving me gifts and what I’ve come to is that it isn’t the actions that bother me. It isn’t even about whether I love or like the person. I don’t like it when I feel that I’m being bought or that I’m being given something with the intent of locking me into a relationship that is abusive or is lacking in emotional satisfaction. I know this goes back to my parents buying me with gifts or trying to make up for things they did to me with material things. What I wanted from them was honesty and a genuine relationship. It has made me hyper sensitive to any ‘good’ action that isn’t genuine. It has made me very mistrustful of those who are too good to me. I don’t think my mistrust is unwarranted.



Hi Gabi
Welcome to emerging from broken. Seeing the path or even just that there IS a path is an amazing
reason to celebrate!
hugs, Darlene


I totally understand what you are talking about re “the purity of the victim” . I had a PROOF addiction; it came from the belief that I had to prove they were wrong but it was mixed in with some of my survival mode where I took the ‘wrong things I did’ that I used to prove to myself that they were right about me ~ but it was for two reasons! One was so that if it was me, I still had a chance to be lovable. The other was that if I wasn’t perfect then they must need to let go any feelings over anything they did to me because what right did I have to ask something different of them. I had to separate all of it and look at the truth.
When people do things for a motive, that isn’t love. It’s manipulative. My mother could send me a half million tomorrow, but that doesn’t obligate me to do anything! (and I would cash that baby and stick it in the bank too) but if she phoned me I would STILL say, “what has changed?” etc.
Love has no motive. Love doesn’t buy favors, or have expectations that ‘if I do this for you, then you will comply to me’. That is the false love we grew up with but it isn’t love at all. Take a look at the motive. (I had to take a look at my motive too ~ there is a huge difference between being motivated by love, and being motivated by control.
I had to look at all that before I looked at if it was okay to tell someone to stop doing things for me. My husband was really into that system of keeping a tally. (he did this so I owned him) I sorted it all out by looking at the bottom line. If he did the dishes, DID I OWE him anything??? NO. Was he actually doing me a favor? NO.
That may be a simplified answer, but time something I am really short of lately!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Eira
I hear you. The day I asked for equality is the last time I spoke to my mother, but I feel good about the fact
that I was clear and I owned MY value. It took about 2 years after that day, but since then I have been 100% sure that I was not asking too much and that I could not have lived the life I have today if I did not insist on equal value.
hugs, Darlene

Yay for being fed up with being the victim.
Something that I realized deeply which helped me a ton was that just because people say it or think it doesn’t make it true! They can say all they want that you don’t love because of ‘xyz’ but that doesn’t make them right. I kept asking myself “what am I really asking for?” and “is that too much” and the answer was always the same. I am asking to be regarded with equal value and NO that is not asking too much. As for ‘them’ they will say what they say, do what they do, and believe whatever they want to believe! (nothing changed with them, it is ME that has changed but for the better! ~ my family is welcome to this freedom and wholeness! They have rejected it. Today that is not my problem.)
hugs, Darlene
LOVE this conversation everyone!


This letter written to and responded by Amy Dickinson reminds me of a person with a victim mentality trying to distance herself and sort herself out through the fog. What do you all think of her advice?

By Amy Dickinson

October 29, 2014

Dear Amy: I am having trouble communicating with my mom. I moved to California when I was 18 (my parents live in another state), and I started from the bottom and made a name for myself here.

I work and usually attend school, but I decided to take a break this semester. I am working full time and volunteering.When I informed my mom about my plan, she went crazy and told me how everyone knew I would fail and not finish my degree.

She doesn’t support my feelings or thoughts — ever — and always jumps to negative conclusions. I end up ignoring her, and that makes everything worse.

Help! How can I calmly talk with my mom so that she will hear my side of the story?

— Sad

Dear Sad: It’s hard enough to be in charge of your life without being undermined by the voice of doom from home. It is strange how those who think the least of us seem to take up the most space.

Your mother might find it impossible to keep her bleak opinions of you to herself, and so if you want to have a relationship with her, you will have to develop not only a calm demeanor but a thick hide.

Given the situation you describe, you were wise to put a lot of distance between you. The best way for you to be in touch — and ensure that you calmly have your say — is textual. You should email her or send a postal letter.

Carefully compose your communique, wait a day and then read it back to yourself. Keep your statements calm and respectful and focused on how her behavior affects you.

Coping with your feelings, frustrations and disappointment in her will be a long-term challenge for you.


Thanks for your response, Darlene! It’s a long process getting rid of all these dysfunctional ways of thinking. They come back up in context with other and new people in life all the time. It’s like you have to keep going through the same pathways, asking these questions of being reasonable, etc., in new circumstances or else you end up doing a new variation on the same old dysfunctional patterns from childhood. It’s a bit tiresome when you just wish that figuring things out with your family will automatically mean you’ll have it down pat with others.

Hey Alice,
I think if someone says, “But look at all I’ve done for you!” it means that what they did for you was never about you, that it was always about buying something from you (and isn’t that insulting? what makes other people think you’re for sale?). I.e. it was never really a gift. I can relate to all this because my family definitely gave me a lot, and yes, when I said “no,” it wasn’t taken well. If they give you stuff but are perfectly willing to harm you in other ways that suit them, even after you’ve tried to talk about it, then the giving couldn’t possibly be coming from the fact that they love and care about you because they don’t love and care about you. If they did, they’d listen to how they’ve harmed you.

Why would you love someone who not only is indifferent to your feelings and experiences but also harmful to you? You’re not simply talking about the bystander who shrugs his/her shoulders and does nothing. You’re talking about the person who has beaten you up. I can’t imagine loving the bystander, never mind the one actually tearing you down. If you’re talking about loving them unconditionally on some higher spiritual plain, well I think that’s a kind of “zoned out” love, not that it can’t be real but that it is detached. You’re not loving them for the way you’ve experienced them or for the way they present themselves to you/the world. I also think that it’s a kind of mood you’re in, a chemical experience in your brain, that you’re able to see through to their child self that has been broken. I don’t love my mom and I don’t like her, either, though I appreciate certain parts of her. I am capable of feeling for her as someone separate but that’s not love. (It’s funny, when I wrote that sentence about not liking or loving my mom, I can feel her yearning and grabbing at me, and a surge of guilt comes up, but if she really wanted me to like and love me, obviously she’d have a much better chance of that happening if she hadn’t treated me like I only matter in the realm of her own agenda. How can you expect a person to like you when you’re selfish/self-serving at the expense of that person? It’s absurd.)

I think it’s okay not to like people. That’s not the same as being mean/disrespectful/abusive to them. It’s okay to think of people on a spectrum of like and dislike and love and indifference (or hate if that’s the case). If it’s a prejudice, like racism or homophobia, well, that’s a shit reason to not like someone, but if it’s about their attitude or whatever, I mean, maybe you just don’t jive well together or maybe they are hard people to like, maybe they have issues, or maybe it’s your personality where you’re either going to really get along with someone and like them or else not and when you feel that they want you to like them or they are simply too much in your life, it aggravates. It makes you feel guilty and like a bad person but really there’s nothing saying you have to like someone. I think we were in positions where we were told that we had to like our mothers and be grateful, etc., that we were bad people if we didn’t, but we had some pretty good reasons not to. I think this feeling gets superimposed onto new relationships.

I found your question more refreshing than something to feel horrible about. People can be too worried about being “correct” and sacrifice being authentic and honest in the process. It doesn’t have to equate to having no filter or being mean to the person themselves. I just think that if you don’t like someone, you should probably not be doing anything to encourage the relationship. It’s possible to be tactful/cordial. Some people make it difficult…. I also know people I like but not all the time, or that their personality is “big,” so I like limited amount of time with them (but I actually do like them). Or there might be one part of their personality that I really appreciate but another part that I kind of like them despite that part… I think all that is perfectly okay. Sometimes you can say something in the right context to speak up about what is bothering you about them, with respect of course, but it’s also okay just to keep boundaries and your thoughts to yourself. Sometimes it’s about them, but sometimes it’s about you. I think all that is okay. If the relationship, though, is otherwise rotten, I would hope that I’d get myself out of it. It’s not good for me or the other person. Also if there’s no reason for the relationship to exist and you’d rather it not, then well it probably shouldn’t exist.


Alaina, I can really relate to what you just said about why we might like or don’t like other people and that we shouldn’t feel “bad” for it. I think my family taught me from a very young age that I was a child and that it made me somehow lesser and not equal to everybody else who was an adult. I was taught to respect adults, to be polite in all cases no matter what and to obey them as they were the ones who were in power. I adapted in an adult environment by not being seen and not being heard – I became an avid reader and tv zombie. I remember that my mother was very sensitive about how we should behave and be seen by others who might see her as a bad mother who wasn’t able to do teach her children good manners and proper behaviour. She didn’t care how we really felt or what we really needed as long as it looked good on the outside and nobody was crying or “acting out”. I think she did to us what her mother did to her in her childhood – but more on an unconscious level and not so much from bad intent.
I often feel sorry for her and her messed up concepts of love and a happy family but mostly I do feel sorry for my siblings and me who have been affected by this kind of upbringing until today. I don’t know if I will ever be able to have a chance to tell her how I really felt as a child and why it is impossible for me today to behave again as if nothing has ever happened and as if it is me that has it completely wrong and that my childhood was the happy and harmonious together forever and never apart thing she and my siblings want me to believe. I know that they know the truth somehow but they pretend that I am the one who is crazy and exaggerating things to make them feel bad and to put shame onto them. No, I can not go back and I never will since I know the truth and since I see them with different, more realistic eyes (thanks to Darlene and everybody here).



Thank you so much for this article, as it couldn’t have come at a better time. Another “aha” moment released and a new rainbow to explore.



I think the “Purity” issue is huge and a very interesting topic! It is so easy to believe that because we were abused and neglected and used etc that we must be totally pure and innocent in everything we do or say or think. After all, this is about THEM and not us as victims. I struggled with that same thing for awhile. I never wanted to be anything like my parents and family and I have worked a lifetime to change myself so that I didnt react or treat others the way they treated me. However, the TRUTH is that sometimes I DID treat others exactly the same way, and sometimes I did feel and think and react in the same way my parents did with me….and I hated myself even more because of it. I wanted to be the purely perfectly nice lily white person who was incapable of all of that crap. Making peace with myself over all of this was very important to me personally, and also owning the truth about myself and changing the behaviors that I had learned from my family that I hated helped me reconcile it in my mind. I dont worry anymore about being pure in those ways, and I dont worry about the gifts from others either. Like Darlene wrote….if someone gives you something, check the motive and pocket the money! They will soon learn that you cant be bought or manipulated or that you feel obligated and owe them something. Learning how to BE and to be myself has been so freeing for me. How do I want to behave now in my life? I am free to choose! When those old patterns flare up from my family’s “training”, I recognize them and decide to follow them or change them. If I act or speak in a way that reminds me of them negatively, it is a flag for change for me …and I dont beat myself up over it either. If I owe an apology to someone, I give it and if I dont, I dont spend time worrying a bit over it.


Hi Oliver,
I’m glad you know the truth and won’t let them pull the wool over your eyes. It can be easy to get sucked back into appearances. They have a way of making the superficial seem like the solid, real stuff, and the deeper truths the product of your imagination. I agree that they must know the truth (I think everyone deep down has to know the truth about what they are living), not in the same way that you know when you step out of it, but as your ingrained way of life. What bothers me is when things go haywire and everything points to the problem but there’s that absolute refusal to look and the quick cover up of all signs.

I was also an avid reader and TV zombie. I was kept as a child and I definitely still relate to people as though I am younger, or less knowledgeable about life, than them. It’s like this automatic role that I find very hard to cast off. This includes people up to 10 years younger than me. Part of it is that I have lived an isolated life and missed out on experiences. The other part is that’s the role I was playing forever, being my mom’s pet. I could be more intellectual (school smart), in fact that was something that played into the family image, a source of pride, etc., but I had to remain stupid about life and more particularly about her and her behaviour. So often whomever I’m speaking with, I make myself know less and in some way let them dictate what reality is if it’s clear that’s what they want. I can become the pet for people with strong personalities very easily. It’s a bit sick that I seem to get a certain pride in that—like it’s something I’m really good at. I suppose it’s where I got my (very faulty) self-esteem from (I was something of a golden child). It’s automatic. I have to be very conscious to stop myself from pandering to people.

I feel sorry for my mom at the deepest part of herself, her deepest pain, but she has also used scapegoating me now to put gauze around that pain, so that she can continue to live in the world of appearances without setting things straight. I gave her a real chance to change. So I don’t spend much time feeling sorry for her anymore. She talked about the situation as “Alaina’s sad choice” but it’s really her sad choice. She doesn’t know or understand of another way to be other than how she is, but all she had to do was trust that there might be, take a chance, and admit reality even if exposing yourself is extremely difficult and scary. At least it’s real. I’m glad to be here with everyone dedicated to uncovering the truth and living inside the truth. Thanks for writing me, Oliver, and I hope things keep getting better and clearer for both of us.


I had to laugh when I read this from Darlene: “My mother could send me a half million tomorrow, but that doesn’t obligate me to do anything! (and I would cash that baby and stick it in the bank too) but if she phoned me I would STILL say, “what has changed?”

This is exactly what I have been dealing with regarding my own mother. Christmas time is coming and that is when she will reach out to me and say how she wants me to have all of “my” gifts yet in the last 2 years she hasn’t managed to reach out to me one time ever since I told her I have DID and she and my father are the reasons why I got it. She left me sit and rot by myself in pain just like she did when my father was beating me up when I was a child. There is no difference now. She uses Christmas time and buying me gifts as a way to make her own self feel better. It doesn’t have anything to do with wanting to make me happy.

Now I rid myself of all that emotional baggage that was attached to those gifts. Last year I donated them all to charity. I couldn’t stand the sight of them. It hurt me too badly. This year I am with Darlene. I say the more the merrier and I hope that there is something in there that I actually like. This time I hope there is some money mixed in there too so that way I can hand it over to my therapist and chuckle to myself knowing that the very same money that she claims to give me to make me so happy is the very same money that is exposing the truth about just what all of those so-called gifts really represent.

Now she can’t get away with buying my love anymore and I no longer feel the need to buy her approval anymore too by spending all of my time looking for that one “perfect” gift to show her just how much that I love her when I could have been spending it having some FUN. Now I see just how sick it all is and this year she won’t be getting any so-called “gifts” from me.

It seems to be a reoccurring theme when I read many of the posts here. Once you know the truth and once your parents won’t acknowledge it, they are the one’s who made the choice of ending that relationship and not you.I suspect mine will be the same.


Describes everything I went through, jumping for hoops that were placed higher each time to just get a scrap of validation from any one in my immediate family. I am so happy that I found everyone here and that I was not the only one who experienced this up bringing. Thanks to you all especially you Darlene.


but if she phoned me I would STILL say, “what has changed?”

And I had to laugh. My Mom does the attitude of, “oh, now that we are back speaking again, my daughter will start being what I want her to be and start doing the things I want her to do.”

For example, I despise Christmas. Took me years to admit this. I find I’m better off to spend Christmas alone than to deal with the phoniness of it. But in Mom’s mind, she jumps to the conclusion that since we are now on speaking terms again, I will quit this nonsense of hating Christmas and start showing up for it. Um, No…….


Alaina, great post on this. I still can’t figure out why I’d ‘want’ to like everybody so bad. Maybe it was because the alternative was not an option? Oliver’s post shines some good light on this I think.

Ironically, as some of the discussion here is around ‘doing’ and how that is all that is of value to these people, I receive an ‘out of the blue’ email admiring my professional “success” from the person I am NC with. I’d also blocked (I had thought) all the accesses they had to me but apparently it’s fair game to go online and send mail to your workplace. Anyway, I couldn’t give a rats arse if she finds my work “impressive”. Of course no mention of any of the issues that have lead to NC. I’m more than mildly irritated by this new attempt at contact when I have made my requirements for a relationship extremely clear.


Hello DXS # 75 for me it was Thanksgiving, she would invite everybody she knew and even declared it “her” holiday and expect us to be there even non-family members. I only remember up to 30+ people and cold food, and my sisters and I not enjoying it one bit. It was a three ring poorly run circus with her as the star. I finally said I had had enough and refused to attend.


Good for you Kris. When I went no contact with my mother 2 1/2 years ago, I put everything she had ever given me in a box (actually it was a small box LOL) and mailed it back to her. There were family momentos and some small jewelry pieces and a few things that were my Dads that she did want and as they had no $$ value my brother wasn’t interested.
I don’t want anything from her.
She always told me about amazing gifts she bought for my golden child brother (cars, trips, money) and then would send me some off hand thing, making sure I knew it was a had-to-get-you-something purchase. It burned me so much. And I had to be grateful. Being grateful was VERY important even if you were being insulted. Well at least I can’t say she tried to buy me.
It was just another one of the ways that she let me know (deniable) that I was less than nothing to her. I am still angry about it. No contact was the absolute best thing I ever did for me.
DXS: Sorry to say I dislike Christmas too. It was always awful. Dad was violent and my grandparents were hateful. Ive never gotten past it.
Alice..so sorry they hassled you at work. Hugs to all ! Karen


Hi Karen R! The ‘gifts’ thing is a whole other area of discussion. To the point I opted out of them. But then I’d still get random little knicknacks – usually bought to please the person being bought from, rather than reflecting any knowledge of me or my likes or dislikes.

And yes, I’d be informed of much larger ‘gifts’ to my sibling and their significant other. I guess the takeaway was “if you do for me then you get the big stuff”. But it’s her money and finance and all that and she can do what she wants with it. And I wish her well with it all. Very sincerely. When I was a kid, it seemed as if we weren’t well-off at all.

The one avenue I closed down before NC was bribing/controlling me with financial ‘help’ or gifts. Although that used to work great because I was totally willing to receive whatever the thing was. I’m more or less ashamed of doing that Sometimes I’d use the gift to pay rent.

I also thought Xmas was shit.

And thankfully I know the tech at work so I can have the email address put on blacklist!


“How can you expect a person to like you when you’re selfish/self-serving at the expense of that person? It’s absurd.)”

This is an amazing question Alaina and my mother’s answer (I believe) would be “because I’m your mother”.

It’s a question that makes me look at my own reasons for liking anyone. For loving anyone. I’m in this strange place where I can no longer imagine a situation in which the other person is in some way serving me (in all the ways I guess I would have imagined benefiting). Or if they aren’t doing that, then I’m being “of use” to them, but I can’t imagine what use I’d be to anyone. And I wish neither of those but I have no idea what any alternative looks or feels like.


Sorry about the email hounding—all in the name of “caring” no doubt—but glad that you can put her on a blacklist!

I think my mom’s answer to the question would be the same… except the question itself is unthinkable, unless directed toward someone else, not her. She’d appreciate the question as a statement if it was my response to my grandma’s treatment of her. But to think/pose that question of my mom would be to hurt her. How could I even ask that question?!? (shame, guilt, shame, guilt) My dad would have a talk with me. Others would sigh, can’t you work things out? It’s okay to dislike people but can’t you keep it to yourself and behave as if you do like them. Life’s too short. Stop causing trouble by asking perfectly reasonable questions.

I think in a healthy relationship, you are getting something from each other, shared experience, appreciation of one another (appreciation of yourself, too, I think, because when you’re with someone who truly likes you, you have this feeling of being able to “be yourself” and you tend to also like yourself, who you are, with that person). There’s benefit on both sides. I suppose you’re “using” each other to meet your shared need for connection, perhaps belonging, meaning, love, etc., so it isn’t selfless, as such. Relationships aren’t acts of altruism. I think that would be weird. If you’re capable of seeing the other person as a person distinct from you, not just someone who is always going to fill a certain role/need for you, then maybe you don’t have to think so much about it. Sometimes I really start to dissect myself in relation to other people. The part that’s bad is when the usefulness of the relationship is somehow at the expense of the other (it can happen from both angles, codependencies where people are mutually exploiting each other in certain ways, which help neither), or even at the expense of someone else, or at the expense of the truth/reality. But if it’s productive and good for both, then it’s productive and good for both…. Anyway, I like talking to you, so in that way I suppose you can say you are of “use” to me, but it feels weird to say that because that isn’t how I look at the situation and it isn’t how I go around relating to people. I don’t relate to people wondering what they’re going to give me to add to my life. Maybe I should to some extent??? I can know, though, if I feel comfortable around someone, if I enjoy being around them, if I enjoy their perspective on life, and that tends to make me want to have them in my life more, but do people actually go around consciously evaluating and measuring others in terms of their usefulness? When you genuinely like someone, don’t you just like them in a way that’s not dependent on a play-by-play of what’s happening in the relationship? More as a general experience of them and not something that can be screwed up by minutia (which if it was entirely based on “usefulness,” it would be). I don’t think you tally a score card. Well, yes, some people do. And obviously if abuse or disrespect come into play and can’t be resolved, then you start to “calculate” pros vs. cons of continuing and under what circumstances if at all.


Hi Alaina!

“I think, because when you’re with someone who truly likes you, you have this feeling of being able to “be yourself” and you tend to also like yourself, who you are, with that person).” I think this is all of it really. This is all. Sometimes I hear about “friendships” as an ideal of someone who shows you your shortcomings. I don’t know, I feel as if I a hair’s breadth from my shortcomings at all times. And anyway, who is this other fortunate person who is not?

“when you’re with someone who truly likes you, you have this feeling of being able to “be yourself” and you tend to also like yourself, who you are, with that person” This is the part of me that I like:) It was the part of my father that I liked too. And at the same time, it’s something I feel my mother (and other people) have entirely taken advantage of but I am unsure how they managed to. For isn’t it my own responsibility to care for, this thing? My father didn’t defend it in himself either.

It’s not the purity I was referring to earlier. Nothing to do with “looking good” in the eyes of others.


Yes, I also think that’s what friendships are all about. Even though my dad is still alive, I did also have something of that with him before everything went to hell, just a natural connection, but it was within certain bounds, mostly in terms of serving my mom but as things fell more and more apart, I feel that there was more to it than that (his own issues). But anyway, I did have moments with my dad of being able to be myself. As well with some others. My problem was always that there seemed to be a limit, an incapacity, some point when I need to keep going but they can’t. (I suppose the first time was very literal—my uncle’s suicide.)

Yes, I know about those ideas of “friendships” where you point out each other’s faults. I don’t like this idea at all. Is it some kind of replacement for therapy, for working out your issues? I do agree that if your faults come up in the relationship as an actual problem within the relationship, you do want to have the openness to be able to talk about it, to work through it, and know that it’s not some personal thing against you. But to actually consider that as the meaning or goal of the relationship, well, my honest response is F—off, I don’t want that shit, let me at least try to enjoy life, enjoy myself, enjoy others. Why am I alive even? If I’m born a flamingo, I don’t want to spend my life analyzing how I’m not a hummingbird, and I feel like a lot of those “friendships” are more about that—more about how someone doesn’t suit the other person and needs to change, as opposed to real flaws. It strikes me as suffocating, no space to be yourself, and how do you have any fun, any spontaneity? I’m “checking” myself enough in life as it is, prone to self-questioning, that I want relationships with people that actually promote the opposite—to be free to be who I am and not to worry about faults and problems, that it’s not what’s foremost on anyone’s mind or the purpose of the connection, that they won’t define the relationship, that there may be bumps in the road a long the way, but that’s (hopefully) all they will be–bumps in the road.


p.s. Alice, I’m not sure if I entirely understood your 2nd paragraph correctly. I think I know what you’re talking about but I’m not sure. I felt like I had a forced friendship with my mom, like making me be with her who I would be with someone I felt a kinship/connection with, without there actually being that connection with her. And after doing that for a while, especially in the face of being treated unfairly, exploited, abused, discounted, etc., without speaking up or without being heard, it corrupts you, makes you false.


Hi Alaina, I don’t think I explained it very well either. I was trying to suggest that there’s just a thing within that comes from you own liking of yourself and other people and that some people (like my mom) take advantage of it. I can’t explain very well. It’s something that comes from you naturally. I realize this doesn’t explain it further.

My mother never attempted friendship with me. My aunt would switch on and off “Now I’m your friend, now I’m not. I don’t feel like being your friend today”. My father didn’t do any of that. He was just the way he was. The only thing that pissed me off about him was that he didn’t step up for me when it came to momster. No-one did because of the whole “but they’re your parents” thing. When I told my parents about a childhood friend’s difficulties with her parents (to the point of a suicide attempt) all they did was shake their heads and say how awful it was. I do remember asking or saying “What can we do?” Or something like that but they replied “That’s their family” or similar and case was closed. But you know, they’d comment about the father of that family and how strange and strict he was. They put it down to him being kind of stuck in the past. But not so they’d go say or do anything about it. I think they were afraid of him.


Karen R #78…I like how you handled things with your mother. Now that took guts!!! I have tossed out so many things since I started therapy. I just want her out of my house. She bought me so many knick knacks throughout the years that my house was no longer mine!!! Same with the Christmas tree with all of her old ornaments. I didn’t realize it at the time but that was her way of keeping me connected to her. That was her way of reminding me that I couldn’t live without her. That was her way of still controlling me when she wasn’t even around. That is how she brainwashed me into believing the lie that I couldn’t stand up on my own two feet. That is how she crippled me all of my life but not anymore.

I broke that sick connection with her and now I am finally free of her even when she isn’t there. No way to describe how good this feels. I cut that last apron string that contained all the guilt for not doing what she wanted me to do. She can’t touch me with a ten foot pole now and there are no words to describe just how good this feels. It took me a year and ten months to do it. Worth every minute of it!!! Worth all the pain and heartache that went along with it.

I could relate to the whole thing with your brother too. In my house woman were regarded as second class citizens. My brother was driving around in a Camaro while I was shoe leather expressing it back then!! He got a trip to Disney and couldn’t even manage to bring her back a chocolate Mickey Mouse to show his appreciation while I sat there with nothing and somehow I was always made to feel like the ungrateful one!!! NUTS!!!!

I wanted to say my heart goes out to everyone who is suffering throughout the holidays. I know how difficult it can be. I pray that everyone can find their own peace and joy in their own way and say the heck with everything else. Last year it was Jesus and me alone. My husband had to work. This year it will probably be the same thing but one thing will be different. I won’t feel guilty about not seeing my mother@!!!! …and if I put up a tree it won’t have any of her ornaments on it!!! That’s my gift to me and it can’t get better then that!!!!



Hi Alice,
Do you mean your self-esteem?

I can’t think of my mom as being my friend. I was hers. But then no, not so either. Everything was a bunch of baloney, built on a lie, so it’s impossible to think of any element of it as being true.

My family is the same about “what can you do?” Secret support was possible but even so, it’s the victim who has to do more of the work of reaching out. I think this is the way much of the world works. The sad truth is that some people die inside “the fog” before they ever have the capacity to reach out. I wish more people on the outside reached in, but yes, it’s dangerous and you feel it when you do it and trying to figure out what’s right and how to go about it is not easy. But looking the other way is a sickness. Thinking, well, hopefully it’ll just sort itself out is convenient ignorance. I heard this often within my family at large talking about other family members—behavioural “symptoms” from actual dysfunction, and how someone has been treated, being blamed on just being the person’s personality and hoping that they will outgrow it through life experience…. Well, okay, that might work out, though I think even if it does, it strikes me as the long rode in comparison to simply trying to address the cause of the actual problem. But, you know, who wants to actually address problems?!?!?!?!?!?!


Hi Alaina,

I hadn’t thought of calling it self-esteem but it does sound like a good word for it. I initially thought ‘self-love’. It’s this capacity to be self-sustaining from within and not by deriving it from without or depending on others estimation or opinion or judgement.

But of course in a controlling family, that’s exactly what the controller wants, for you to have to rely on their view and judgement and say-so, so they have to knock your own self-sustaining love out of you to be able to do it.

And in the process of “getting it back” it becomes clear that it’s a very specific feeling, not a conscious judgement of oneself as such (which is how I understand ‘self-esteem’ as in “Well, really I’m a “good” person after all, or the exercises that suggest we look at our achievements (again!) as a way of bolstering something like it). But it’s something that has no bearing on achievements or anything else. It just is.

I don’t think anyone really wants to address problems. I was sermoned to “Just get over it Alice” with no address of ‘it’ beyond “I could have handled some things a bit differently”. It was so dismissive of the impact. So dismissive of me.

So it’s kind of funny that she thinks that approaching me with praise for my achievements will open any kind of channel of communication. I mean it’s possible in the past that I would have been “Wow, it’s great, finally my mom approves of what I’m doing” but I don’t feel that way. Like I said, I couldn’t care less how she feels about my work.

I found it interesting that you mentioned ‘care’. I don’t think she cares at all, but of course I’m not in her head.


Stepping out of the victim mentality by understanding what it is– the title really caught my eye. Really great article Darlene. I am inspired to read about the ways that people are learning to act on this. I guess we are all revving up for the dreaded holidays, right? The exhausting thing is, if you haven’t gone NC, that each and every interaction requires you to have your defenses fully in place. The more your blinders come off the more you see the nastiness. My mother called me this week to ask if my sons’ team was still in the tournament for his sport. They got knocked out last weekend. All season she called the night before the game with “who are they playing, what time is it, where is it. I hope they win” and on and on. She never actually attended a game, mind you, although she was invited to do so. So in this conversation I told her that they had lost and it was like she was immediately done. (this school has won many state championships in the past and a trip to state is sort of expected at this point) I said that it was alright since my boys have two and three years left and the early loss moves us back to a class where we can actually be competitive. She couldn’t get me on the loss because I clearly wasn’t bothered by it. And I’m sure she knew before calling that they lost because it was on the news and in the paper. Right before we signed off she said “Well I’m so glad neither of them got hurt this year. I was so worried all season that one of them would get hurt.” And for about 5 seconds I was thinking “OMG they could have gotten hurt, I am a terrible mother, she was worried and that is all my fault” and then I gathered myself up and said really firmly “Well they didn’t get hurt, they had good seasons, the seasons are over now so no need to worry. Is there anything else you needed this evening?” She was stunned. She said goodbye and hung up.

I had a situation this year with one of my siblings: I had set her husband up with doctors at my hospital. Without telling me, they decided these doctors were not good enough (typical because they are terrible doctor shoppers and self diagnosers) and they went to another doctor who put my brother in law through a very expensive procedure that he did not really need. He did not do well afterward. My family tried to suck me in and I stood firm, stating “I am no longer responsible in any way for his health care.” I have barely spoken to my sister. We are attending Thanksgiving this year, we didn’t last year due to lots of drama and that is when I found this site. I told my sibling who is hosting Thanksgiving that I would only come if she would give up on her usual assigned seating. She normally forces all of us and our husbands to sit at the main table with our mother. I told her I had no interest in being on the receiving end of my BIL’s health complaints and diatribes about the health care industry. I believe they are suing the other provider and I want no part of it. I told her that if he starts in on me we will be leaving and I’ve warned my husband and sons of the same. I told her it could be extremely awkward so if she’d rather we didn’t come I would understand but that I will tell any and all who ask the reason why we are not coming. The decision rests with her now. If she thinks she can control them the ball is in her court as the hostess. If she can’t control them then it will be an uncomfortable holiday for everyone, not just for me. She has now invited some non family members, guaranteeing that all will be better behaved.

So while I feel like I’m coping better than ever before, and able to see more clearly than ever before, I still wonder what the best avenue is: No contact, low contact? It’s so hard to know. It’s good to know you can handle it but exhausting to have your armor constantly on. At least I know for sure that they are never going to change and that it is not my fault. Progress has been made.



This article describes my life perfectly well. I can’t ever recall having any love for my mother, only fear. I think that our relationship ended (or it never really began?) when I was about three or four years old. That was the time that I can consciously recall her beating me and verbally threatening me. She enjoyed frightening me (a bad sadistic Narc) and I believe that the verbal threats (still exists) were far worse than the physical abuse. One of her favorite lines was, “if you tell anyone then I will break your pretty white teeth out!” She would threaten me that if I told anyone that I would end up like one of those missing children and I quote, “if you tell anyone then you’ll up in the woods buried behind the blackberry bushes”—a very chilling reference to 1970’s Seattle area missing teenage girls in that horrific Ted Bundy serial killer era. I was an only child and I had NO ONE to defend me or even care about me.

I wonder if my father secretly hated me too or was it just my mom? Was he brainwashed by her? Why did my father betray me and he could have stopped it—-he could have divorced her right after marriage. But he chose her over me and that’s what destroyed my life. It was like a secret chess game we were playing and the rules stated that the king and queen would always beat me, a mere pawn. Sadly, through the years I believe that he began to resemble more of her and turn into her.

I tried to play the game to win my father’s attention by being the best student in my class. I would patiently wait for my father to come home from his work, and try to wave my school papers with perfect 100’s in front of him during his TV commercials. Note how considerate I was so as to not disturb him by taking time off from his precious TV shows. I learned that I was only worth about five or ten minutes of my father’s daily schedule. The only worth that I had to my father from an early age was being able to perform academically. I became like an academic robot to my father, and when I was older my only value came from performing at both job and school. I don’t know why my father never cared about my friends or happiness. My teen years were focused on being the house live-in maid, job, and academic robot.

Fast forward into my twenties living in a new state, there has NEVER been what I would call “love” in my life from either parent. I think they became angrier and even more critical in their old age. I’m surprised that they are not dead yet (both parents in their 80’s). I am far from being a sociopath but it will be a blessing to be finally free of both of them. I have been held back in so many ways with social skills, hobbies, and all of my real hopes and dreams. I can write an autobiography of everything said and done to me by these people and maybe if I continue writing here it will be an entire book about me.

As a young adult, I followed my own path with college, jobs, and my real religion (Celtic Paganism). It wasn’t about gaining any love or emotional support from parents (a few nasty past therapists accused me of this). It was more like being able to defend myself and deflect parents away from me. They could NEVER just let me go and part of this is due to being an only child. I don’t know there is so much more I can say on this…

Frankly, I do not trust either parent or love them whatsoever. I cannot love someone who has caused me so much pain and fear. I have no guilt or shame for not loving both parents after they have passed away. I can’t imagine what it feels like to experience such peace, joy, and freedom after my parents’ deaths. Mind you, I have mourned the losses of young friends’ deaths and wondered why do only the good die young? But these selfish old people enjoy terrorizing me until the day they die. I have also been accused of being such a “hateful” person when I tried to confide my past abuse issues privately to former friends. They just did not want to hear any of it. I wanted a closer friendship and they were uncomfortable and brushed me away. Sorry, but this is the only site where I can be truly me. Thanks for the articles Darlene.


I feel like I should continue…I was thinking about an incident all the way back in kindergarten. I have no kids and I’m clueless as to what they teach in a classroom nowadays. Anyway, when I was in kindergarten, the teacher gave a lesson on empathy, “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.” I never forgot that lesson since I noticed that some of the kids seemed bored and unimpressed like they already knew this. (I was always such a sensitive child and needed NO instruction in this department). But there were a few kids who really needed this “instruction” and by their facial expressions they were glued to the teacher’s words. The ones who NEEDED this instruction appeared grateful to finally understand this lesson. Most of all, I kept thinking to myself that how come my mom (and dad) never got this lesson? They’re the ones who belong in the kindergarten classroom with these other kids! It’s sad but true! I don’t know if there is any attention in the modern world in both private and public schools given to young children about learning feelings and manners…maybe there are some schools like this but I don’t know.

Here on this site we have all discussed dealing with self-esteem and assertiveness issues. I have come far with my stuff and I’m proud of myself. I just thought to share an incident. Last year in 2013, I wrote an online negative review for a local metaphysical store. I tend to write very long and detailed online reviews to help people. On both yahoo and yelp (changed my name—-a consistent name and it’s allowed)—I have about a dozen reviews of different small, local businesses. There are a variety of local business reviews such as cafes, stores, and car repair stores written by me. I don’t write any neutral 3 star reviews, only the very good 5 star reviews or low 1 star reviews. In my area, there are three metaphysical/new age stores. For two of the new age stores, I gave them good 5 star reviews and a nice written review. I only gave two stores very bad reviews since they deserved it and it was for that third new age store and a car oil change store. It’s a long story regarding the only negative new age store review. I had to deal with an EXCESSIVELY RUDE store clerk who literally threw my cash back right on my hands. (I can’t repeat here what she did and said to me). I complained to the store owner who was very dumb and should NOT be running a small business. Apparently, her mother was the original store owner and this younger woman inherited the new age store. In the store, the owner kept defending her store clerk and arguing with me. I told her that I would never shop at her store again. She NEVER apologized to me. When I was younger, I worked many PT jobs in customer service, like fast food and cashiering in retail stores. I was so upset that I posted negative online reviews on yahoo and yelp. The purpose of negative reviews is to inform others to avoid this business. This store owner had the nerve to argue online towards me while defending her store clerk! I was just posting a new review today when I read this older review! My first thought was that the public would feel sorry for me since this dumb store owner still doesn’t get it—-the customer is always right! The store owner accused me of being both “angry and childish” but that could easily describe her. If she could have apologized to me right away, then I would never have posted a negative online review. This happens a lot with small businesses. This store owner was so incredibly lacking in any business sense whatsoever and made the entire online incident appear even worse. I actually felt sorry for her and almost emailed her back with an online article regarding small businesses dealing with customers’ complaints. Sorry, but the customer is always right and by not apologizing and offering to help the customer it makes your small business look bad! The point here is that I have come far with being more assertive when appropriate. This store owner seemed very rude and did not have the emotional maturity to treat me well. I learned that she had indeed inherited her business, was married with kids, and never graduated from college or worked in a real career before marriage. Translation: She never had to earn anything in her life or learn how to deal with people well. Most small businesses cannot successfully thrive if they get negative reviews from customers. But I repeat that I am proud of myself for standing up to this store and writing the truth in a negative review.

It makes me wonder just how many people in society were simply not raised right? The first rule of any business is that the customer is always right and your job is to apologize and make amends if there are issues. The business will receive negative reviews if you don’t apologize and possibly go out of business if you can’t deal nicely with customers. But some people have NO common sense or empathy at all. I guess they are emotionally immature with a low IQ level. I am grateful that I have the intuition and common sense to see others clearly, but others do not have my gift! I’m curious if anyone here on this site has had a similar experience? Thanks for reading!


Jane #89…..When I read your post my gut got in a knot just thinking about how I used to have to “gear myself up” to go to my parents for the holidays. I feel for you being in that situation. I can happily say this is my first year where I won’t have to gear myself up for nothing because I refuse to subject myself to their sick ways of living anymore. The way I look at it is I sacrificed 48 years of holidays and birthdays for people who didn’t give one iota about what I wanted. Now I am done. They are on their own. Now they can continue their bickering and arguing all they want to because I won’t be around to hear it anymore. THANK GOODNESS.

I haven’t gone full NC yet but it is getting to that point. I have worked through many issues regarding my sick attachment to them and now I no longer feel guilty for not being around them on the holidays and that is such a huge relief I can’t tell ya. I think everyone has to make their own choice on this. People are at different stages in their recovery process. Last year the guilt was killing me and this year it is gone. People have different levels of tolerance. Some people can tune that crap out but I am not one of them. To me no one should have to feel like they have to “put on their armor” when they are going to something that should be a celebration and not a fight fest on Jesus’ birthday no less!!!!To me that is still feeding into THEIR sick demands.

I think setting good boundaries like you did is a good option but for me I gave them enough chances in the last 48 years to get it right and they still chose to think about themselves instead of respecting me. Now they don’t get another chance to ruin one of my holidays. Why should I have to sit around waiting for the ball of stupidity to drop!!! That’s no fun to me. That’s work!!! Oh wonder we are all exhausted!!! Lol They made it that way, not us.

All I know is since I made the decision to no longer subject myself to their sick ways of living anymore a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders right where guilt and shame used to be. Now that’s what I call progress!!!

You made great progress too. You are aware that nothing is ever going to change with them. To me that is a clue as to what you need to do. I think it was Hobie who wrote before that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I know that I am guilty of that one so I am trying to change my way of thinking. Whatever you decide I hope your holiday is filled with peace and joy. You deserve to have fun at the holidays instead of them being filled with strife.



“Sorry, but this is the only site where I can be truly me.”

Yvonne. No need to be sorry to me. I like that you are expressing yourself. I found great freedom with that on this site too. It’s nice finally being able to find my voice in a safe setting with people like you who are understanding and willing to share what you have gone through.I love reading what you have to say. Keep it coming.



Doren #59 “I know I’ve kept trying because I’ve believed I’ve hurt my family, and that somehow I’m not “normal” and our lack of communication is mostly my fault. That has always been the presumption, that I am “difficult” and “troubled” and others in the family have everything nicely resolved and I am upsetting things”

I could have literally written the exact same thing word for word. I’m still coming to terms with all of this. So much in this article and the comments that resonated with me.


Hi Alice,
I definitely meant “caring” sarcastically but they must care about something in order to bother contacting us. Trying to get things to be the way they are “supposed to be” is what I imagine my family contacts me for. Anyway, I don’t really know what they think and feel. I just know they haven’t recognized what I need them to, so they haven’t felt or cared for me.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking with the word self-esteem—just that feeling of being in yourself and confident and not actually self-conscious at all. But I guess in the self-help realm it’s about affirmations or something—maybe stuff you’d say about yourself if you were bothering to reflect on yourself in that state of being yourself (though I feel like the second you do that, you also pull yourself out of it and what you want is the feeling of it, not whatever qualitative statements can be applied to what you are doing or being in that moment).

I think what you wrote about them having to knock-out your own self-sustaining love is so true, so that they can have control and power and you remain dependent on what they think. And this is what they have supplanted over actual love (at least I’d say so in my family).

I have my moments of feeling sustained in myself, but it still seems a long ways a way… or I’m just having a bad day (not enough sleep, etc).


This is such an excellent, clear, articulate article Darlene!! Thank you! You explain better than I ever could, where I got to with my mother when I started to say ‘no’ to her abuse, and it explains where I am with one sister where I have just now said ‘no’ to her verbal abuse. I honestly thought in my mother’s eleventh hour, (she died of cancer almost two years ago), that she would see the light and finally love me as I had been so nice to her all along, but no!! That was a huge eye opener about the philosophy to “love and expect nothing back and everything will come good at the end”. It doesn’t.
So I finally stood up to my sister (apparently I am toxic, I made caring for my dying Dad 24/7 all about me when I asked for for help, she photographed everything in the house to make sure I didn’t steal…) and now she has gone NC with me!!! I feel huge relief, like a great sticky black mess is slowly evaporating.


Elizabeth, no they don’t see the light ( not our fault though!) my mother passed on two years ago too, and up until the end used her manipulative tactics like guilt, shaming, and dictating what my daughters duty was. Of course my duty was to be of service to her, even though she could not be bothered with her mothers duty, especially her emotional duty towards me. Like you, I was nice too, but she took my niceness and what I did for her as her entitlement and it did not bring me more love or respect. That entitlement was a one way street; the street sign said Mothers Only.
And of course she had lots of excuses why my brothers should be exempt from caring for her or taking care of her paperwork. They’re too busy living their lives, as if I had no life of my own. Wait, that’s right, I am the DAUGHTER so my life has to be put in hold, but not my brothers. That is one thing I did rebel against and got both of them involved in her later life care. My mother had a thing about making my life difficult by throwing burdens on me and she seemed to take perverse enjoyment from sitting back and watching me do the endless dance of servitude. I think knowing that she got this perverse pleasure from burdening me sparked me into rebellion, even before I came to Emerging From Broken, and I actually set some boundaries.
She is gone now and I’ve often wondered how things would have gone with her if I had the knowledge I have today back then. I suspect I would have had even more boundaries and a lot less guilt about enforcing them. I would have less expectations that she would change , and that all I did for her would get her to love and respect me, and I would not blame myself or think that ” it’s me” that caused the problem. And I would not let her actions or attitude towards me define me as worthless. Fortunately, as Darlene often says, my mother doesn’t have to be around, nor would she have to understand my point of view for me to heal. It is was I understand, what I am feeling and how I am defining myself now that is bringing the healing, and I am learning more and healing more every day.


Hi Alaina!

“Trying to get things to be the way they are “supposed to be” – and moreover relying on prior ways to do so.


Thanks Kris. You give me tons to think about!


Jane, I also thought of something else. My mother had it embedded in my head that you only get one family. In other words, you have to “put up” with all of their bullcrap because other people “would kill to have a family like ours.” I am laughing as I type this!! Now I think to myself “you would have to be nuts to believe that one!!!!” lol lol lol Anyway, I used to believe that lie!!! Once I figured out just how sick my so-called wonderful family was I no longer believed that lie anymore and with that I saw just how many things that I missed out on. Yeeaarrrssss of missing out on things that I wanted to do because they planted that “guilt trip” seed inside of my head at a very young age that prevented me from doing ANYTHING that I wanted to do WITHOUT me feeling guilty if I chose to do it. BEYOND SICK!!!

It was all a way to keep me put due to their own fears of being rejected and abandoned. They wanted to avoid that feeling at all costs and they were willing to use me to make that happen. The whole thing is so sick.

My husband and I didn’t even get to spend the holidays together because it always had to be their way. They didn’t care that he had a family too!!! Not once did they ever go to anyone else’s house. They wanted you at THEIR house and they wanted you there ALL DAY LONG and they didn’t have to say one word to me about it because they already brainwashed me into believing that that is how things should be. By the time the day was over I was ready to commit hari-kari!!! I just wanted to get out of that house and I would think to myself “there goes another Christmas shot to hell!!!!”

We all deserve to be loved and respected and my family doesn’t know the definition of either one of those things. They just expect you to “put up” with whatever the heck they feel like dishing out all the time and I am no longer playing that one sided game with them anymore. They just don’t WANT to see it because that way they keep on getting to do what they want to do and that way they can say the heck with you without feeling guilty about doing it in the process. The very same thing that they don’t have a problem with inflicting on you!!!

I rather be by myself then endure one more moment living in that toxic environment. It is all about them. How lucky can you be to have a family like that!!!



Hello everyone-

This is my first comment here. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s insights. You all give me so much encouragement!

Darlene, your articles are such food for me-you have no idea, well maybe you do. 🙂 I came across your site several months ago while googling the subject: daughters whose mothers have abandoned them. It is beyond wonderful to know that I am NOT crazy and there are people everywhere (not just my family) who are acting in these crazy ways that are NOT my fault- never a child’s fault for a mother to abandon her when she is 11 years old.

Since last year, my hub and I have decided that no contact is the way to proceed with one of his family members for reasons I won’t take the time to write about now. I will say that, for me, NC is both horribly sad (grieving mainly for what could have been had there been honesty, true caring and respect for all parties) and like breathing fresh air for the first time in your life simultaneously!

I am wondering if Darlene had ever written a post on what to do when relatives try to bypass the parents to have a relationship with your kids.

My husband’s relative no longer tries to contact him (or me) since we made our feelings known about the verbal abuse, manipulation and lies that we would no longer tolerate. Out of the blue this relative recently mailed a birthday card with money to our child. The gall it takes to ignore the parents (like nothing has happened and everything is fine) and try to continue a relationship with a minor child is beyond comprehension to me. It is dismissive and insulting. It seems very suspect that this relative is reaching out. I do not trust the motives and want to protect our child but if we say do not do this ever again, it will be twisted by this relative to make us the bad guys for keeping our child from his relative, and we’re so mean, etc.

I would love to know the best way to deal with this (if anyone has had this experience) and stop it, should cards and gifts continue. If there is a post relating to this, Darlene, I would love to read it- or maybe an idea for a post in the future? Thank you very much.


For myself, I believe what’s right beside victim mentality, the other side of the coin, is not accepting what happened. I’ve made progress the last couple of years, but I still haven’t accepted the way I was treated. I fight it and have fought it hard. But it happened. It happened and there’s nothing I can do to get the childhood I wanted. That’s what happened to me. My mother threatened to leave, to deny us toilet paper, she didn’t care. My mother came to us and asked why auntie still cried for her dead son after 3 months. I have to accept both my parents were ill. I am not getting them off the hook, for the damage was deep. But my God I have to accept that it happened.
I am tired of being a victim. These people, my blood relations, didn’t even KNOW me. I know I’ve been waiting for some change in others, a change in others to finally approve of me. NO. I need to come to me. I need to “rescue” me. I want it to not be so. It WAS so. It was so and I need to stop running from myself.



Thanks for your kind support. I spend the holidays alone since I’m single and have NO extended family left—my father’s family with the only few good relatives have all passed away. I used to feel lonely but not anymore since I keep busy. I do have very LC with parents and it’s getting hard for me since they are becoming elderly. With elderly dysfunctional parents, it’s especially confusing to deal with. My parent’s are in their 80’s now and I’m in my 40’s and I know that they don’t have a lot of time left. Both parents are not in good health. I thought it was just me but whenever I tried to visit my father, as an adult, with “let’s do lunch” in a safe public place it was always a disaster. The verbal abuse and accusations never end…I would save up internet stories and jokes so that I would have something to talk about. It was more like being an actress than a daughter. Maybe I’m lucky since I have an annual American secular Christmas with house lights, decorations, minimal shopping, good foods, and other traditions. (Plus I socialize with the Druids for our winter holiday of Yule—winter solstice). I’m not someone who feels depressed and living in the past—not criticizing those with serious holiday blues. I don’t love the holidays but I’m not Scrooge, either, so I take more of a middle path route. I don’t know what I owe to these elderly parents anymore. Normally, I make a phone call and send a Thomas Kinkade card and a Hickory Farms box for Christmas. No, I do not owe them anything and no one is forcing me to do anything. But I feel better about myself for having some social etiquette I guess. I really do not LOVE either parent and sadly, my father was more like a perfect stranger to me growing up. They say that relationships are always two sided, implying that I’m partly to blame, but I’m not. I did the best that I could with my father. He had many opportunities to connect with me growing up but not. I feel no guilt or shame over the family relationship. When my father passes away and I feel like this may happen soon in 2015? and my mom would not last too much longer I can get over it. I do have more mixed emotions with my father and most of all how come he chose my mom over me? But then I remind myself of all the real good that I have in my present life and I can attract more good. Thanks for sharing!


What an insightful and truthful post. Usually if you complain about the abuse, you’re accused of having a victim mentality. This blog entry clearly outlines that while yes, victim mentality is a state of mind, it is the mentality that you are less than your abusers, and that you have to behave in the ways in which they approve to get love. Wow…I feel like bonds are being loosed inside my head as I type this.

I don’t have to be held captive by old behavior patterns anymore, especially since this will NEVER get me the love I want or deserve. i waited and assumed that if I suffered enough…I would be rewarded with love that would never end or disapprove of me. To know that love actually doesn’t have an end, and the ways in which I was treated were NOT a demonstration of love feels foreign, yet so right.

Thanks, Darlene!


Wow – thanks for such a detailed post – my wife of twenty nine years was exhausted from trying to find the real me that had become hidden under so many lies and fears and separated from me a couple of months ago. After having the immensely strong emotional walls smashed down I was able to see for the first time just how bleak and scary my world had become and then by the grace of God alone start to see that I was not only just ok I was actually really good and a really good person who had become very weak in character. My real character is strong, clearly defined, capable and good, I’m not boasting I am simply excited to find the real me who can now enjoy life and again by Gods grace be the husband that my wife has been searching so hard for for so many years but it was her consistent love that gave me the courage to take the step to face myself in the fist place.


Hi Yvonne #103…This year I am still mailing my parents a Xmas card too but no gifts.My mother looks at the gift that you buy her as to how much she is worth to you. I won’t be feeding into that sick dynamic anymore. I think we all have to do what is best for us. As much as I hate WHAT my parents did to me I do not hate them. I am not out to hurt anyone. That isn’t what will make me feel good about myself but neither will letting them continue to control what I do anymore.

Yesterday I went out shopping and I bought a bunch of ornaments to put on our tree. I had mixed emotions as I bought them. It was symbolic of me becoming my own person and finally ridding myself from that sick codependent attachment that I had with my mother and I felt a kind of freedom as I was doing it but I also mourned the loss of the possibility of a close knit mother/daughter relationship that I so badly wanted all of these years in the process. I think that it was good that I could see both ends of the spectrum. I think it shows how far I have come along in my recovery process. I am looking forward to putting up a Christmas tree that reflects who I am instead of the zillion ornaments that were representative of my mother. That tree was no longer mine. It had her written all over it just like my house did with her endless sea of knick knacks that she bought for me throughout the years.

Like you mentioned, I too think about the day when my parents will die. Will I even cry at their funeral??? The thought of stepping into their home is what worries me the most. Can’t stand the thought of having to do that. It’s hard to mourn someone that you never really even knew to begin with. They never knew themselves was the problem. I don’t have all of those “good memories” between us to make me miss them. They made it that way not me. Time will tell but at this moment all I can see is me feeling relieved that I no longer have to deal with them anymore and that is a tragedy in itself but they had a choice to change this sick dynamic around and they chose to deny the truth instead of just saying that “I am sorry I put you through all of this bullcrap… what can I do to make it better.” That’s all it would have took but once again they chose themselves over me and I just don’t know how sorry I can feel for them when they die and that is the sad truth. I don’t feel sorry for them at all anymore. They did it to themselves.


Hi Peter #105

I could relate to everything that you said. I am so happy that you are finding your “true self” and ridding yourself from the “false self” that being abused created with inside of you. God made us ALL good from the get-go. He doesn’t make junk and discovering that truth has led me down the path of freedom as well. My husband never got the wife that he deserved and I never got the husband that I deserved either because we were both abused in our childhoods. God continues to shine His bright light on all the lies that we were brainwashed into believing about ourselves at such a young age and with that comes everlasting freedom from the bondage of our past. God is good!!!! There is nothing wrong with you saying how strong that you are now because the truth is you always were but not for the fact of being abused robbed that truth away from you. Shout it off the rooftops. It is music to my ears!!! Peace be with you and your family. You deserve it.



Hi Di
Welcome to EFB ~ This is such a complicated issue! My in-laws send money to my kids every year, (2 of my kids are no longer minor) and my kids cash it. They don’t talk to their grandparents, the grandparents don’t try to talk to the kids… it’s weird! My two oldest kids are 23 and 21 years old and don’t even live with us anymore, but the cheqs come to our house and our kids don’t mind the money ~ BUT they feel no obligation attached to it either.

When it comes to a minor child however, YOU are the parent and YOU can decide what is best for YOUR child. Always keep that in mind. (and part of healing was realizing that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about me, especially since they thought all this stuff way before I drew a boundary. When I was bending over backwards to please everyone, I was still ‘the problem’… 🙂

There are posts here about everything and although I always use examples of what happens in these relationships it is mostly for the purpose of busting through the fog that we all have lived in.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Peter
Welcome to EFB ~
Thanks for sharing your victory! hugs, Darlene


Back to the “purity” ideas:) I have to say I have never done many of the more heinous things my mother has. Yes I’ve been mean to people but I have not gaslit, not have I bait and switched, nor have I threatened. If I was going to be anything relative to my mother it was “not her”. She didn’t listen? I’d become the absolute best at it, to the point it hurt me. She was dishonest and manipulative? I’d be straight up and direct to the point I guarded nothing. But the idea that I must leave no edges, no faults that could justify any of their mistreatment is still with me. In fact one of the “conditions” got allowing myself to enumerate the things my family did was to leave no stone unturned in terms of my own accountancy of wrongdoing and wrong thinking. It’s as if a “proper” victim has to be snow white, or at least exceptionally honest about their own shortcomings, otherwise justice can’t be served. At least in my interior world.


Alice –

I get what you’re saying and I’ve struggled in a lot of the same ways. I’ve felt for a long time that I needed to be perfect or I couldn’t expect anyone around me to be reasonable. Knowing that no one is ever perfect, I felt really helpless and frustrated.

Now I consider that feeling one of the lies that I had been fed. I’ve decided that it’s fair to expect people to be as reasonable with me as I am willing to be with them or the relationship may have to end.

It doesn’t always FEEL quite right, but I know it is and now I stand my ground on that.



Abusers always feel they are perfect.I love going into town and being surrounded by imperfect,but HUMAN people.I love normal people that make mistakes and then apologize.I love people who cry and openly show their feelings.I love people who say please,without giving orders.I love people who are truly grateful for the good that life sometimes offers,without feeling entitled to it.I see all these things by people watching,meaning total strangers.They are my contact with normality.Without knowing it,anonimous people keep me sane.


Hi Everyone,
I have an exciting announcement on the home page today!
“The Future looks bright on Emerging from Broken” is waiting for your comments! http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-future-looks-bright-for-emerging-from-broken/
Hugs, Darlene


“I kept the secret, I didn’t bring shame on them.” I just wanted to pop in here and say I have been reading “The Wild Truth.” You might remember the book “Into the Wild” or perhaps the movie directed by Sean Penn about a young man, Christopher McCandless, who set out on an adventure into the Alaskan Wilderness where he starved and his body was later found in an abandoned bus.

This book is written by his sister who, as it turns out, has kept the family secrets for many years but now has decided that people need to know what drove her brother to set out on that perilous sojourn to his death.

I just wanted to mention it here because so much of how she describes her childhood and her relationship with her parents, as well as her brothers, runs parallel to the personal stories here. It is a powerful book and a brave one as here parents are still living and have already issued a press release coming out against her memoir of the life of her beloved brother and what they endured together.

When Christopher McCandless’ story first broke there was just a magazine article written about it. I had been out of my childhood home for several years but my step father copied the article and put a note on it that read “Ahhhhh, to be out and on your own at last….” The implications of that note haunted me. At that point in my life I still believed I was as worthless and incompetent as he had taught me I was since the day I was put under his control as a very young child.

It is interesting to me that a predator like my stepfather picked up on something in this story about Christopher, something many others did not even after the author of the book, Jon Krakauer put some hints in his book indicating Christopher might have been driven by forces stemming from his childhood.

Krakauer had promised Christopher’s sister that he would not divulge the family secrets she shared with him when he interviewed her for the book at that time. She felt she had to protect her parents and the family secrets at that time. Still Krakauer was compelled to give readers some hints about Christopher’s upbringing without violating his promise to Carine McCandless.

Now twenty years later, after so many have criticized her brother for being selfish and “doing this to his parents,” she has decided to share his story as well as her own as their lives were intertwined. The book, again is called “The Wild Truth” by Carine McCandless. It is a very insightful read written by a fellow traveler on this path.


Hi Kaycee
Thanks for sharing this! I remember watching that movie and saying to my husband; “I wonder what the REST of that story is!”.
hugs, Darlene


((((((HUGS))))))) Darlene. This work you are doing here is ground breaking and so desperately needed. I couldn’t help but to relate each interval in Carine’s book to a chapter you have written here at Emerging From Broken.

The need to be honest and open about about the harsh reality of child abuse is still an uncharted area. The idea that critical periods in childhood when self worth is defined can just magically dissipate without consequence when a child turns 18 is so prominent in our culture.

We need brave people to stand up and tell the truth so badly right now and it is very hard to do (Carine’s book is a perfect illustration of how much children want to give their parents any benefit of the doubt.)

I think by nature, telling the truth about childhood carries a stigma that that gets misplaced upon the child. Perhaps it comes from a misplaced fear that we know, we ourselves cannot be perfect parents. Yet this is so unreasonable because the mistakes we make as loving parents do not come close to falling into the same category of the abuse we are speaking of.

I don’t know where exactly the resistance comes from, I am just grateful for you and the other few who put themselves out there to pave the path for the rest of us to follow so that we can find a way to survive and flourish after such a horrid legacy.


Right now is a very difficult time for me. My husband suffers from PTSD from childhood and Viet Nam. His mother is evil and I have dealt with her dreadful belittling over the years. Holidays were a nightmare. He can’t stand his mother and her ways but he says we have to go because we don’t know how many years she has left. I sit in the kitchen while they sit in the living room because I am not welcome to join in the conversation.

This has been a battle for the last 2 weeks for us because I do not want to go. it’s about family, he says. So how does that make me fit in? My parents are gone and my family lives far away.

I am dealing with some medical issues (heart) and my dr. said to avoid stress. Gee, here it is 4AM writing this. Please, someone give me a solution. On top of this, I am to find out on the 19th if I have breast cancer. Yes, I do believe in the power of prayer, but I am at my weakest.


Kaycee, I took a look at that book and have it on my reading list. I remember the movie more or less. I haven’t read “Into the Wild”. Do you remember whether the brother ever spoke in either movie or book about his childhood? I guess I am surprised that he didn’t mention talking about it with anyone on his path. Is it perhaps a male tendency to not to wish to disclose these things? Now I wonder if I talk about it too much.

Coral, I am sorry to hear about what you and your husband are going through. I’ve heard the arguments you mention used by other people towards me but I have not felt that way in quite some time. My family also considered “duty” as more important than anything else. I can understand it to some extent but I disagree that it must be the only basis of the relationship. I question what my mother’s duty was to me. I believe the emotional dimension of it was missing/abusive. My sibling seems to have swallowed her ideas about what kind of child he was and he is now locked into a relationship with her as a likely dependent.


Also Coral, you can put your health before this visit.


I just found this web site yesterday evening and have been absoulutely hooked! I was researching my own toxic and contorted relationship with my mother and tears of relief stream down my face as I “meet” more people than I ever realized who suffer what I do… and have for YEARS! 2 years ago, I finally moved 1000’s of miles away from her and she still gets in my head. I’m 43 and never realized how mentally abusive and controlling she is until I had my own children in my early 30’s. It was the first time I felt a mother’s love for her children and I discovered it is not how my mother feels about me. I’m not sure she ever has. Since moving away from her, she has made it her mission to with hold her love from me and hurt me. Upon telling her we were moving, she barely spoke to me for a year! This included May-August before we left and a few months after we moved here. I’m used to her stone walling me. She did it all the time when I was a teen. Sometimes she would see that I was PMSing or just in a bad mood and she would pick and pick at me, teasing with her sarcasm until I exploded at her that she was hurting my feelings. Then the pouting and ignoring me would commence… sometimes for days, until I apologized. I was always the one who had to apologize to end the cold war. She could say to me whatever she wants and I’m never allowed to say anything. one time, in a fight, she turned it around on me and said that I always get to say whatever I want and she doesn’t get to say anything. OMG… that infuriated me and solidified just how sick in the head she is!! I’m so tired of it! A few years ago, before my daughter was born, she stone walled me right through a miscarriage. She barely spoke to me throughout my pregnancy with my daughter, then insisted that I have more than one baby shower since she was only going to invite family, her friends and a few of my closest friends to the one she would host. She then insisited on coming to the other shower that was just for my friends. She had the nerve to bring my unborn daughter into all of this by claiming that she (my daughter) was the hope to bringing us back together. Not a chance! My daughter was actually the final straw in making me realize just how sick and twisted my mother’s thinking is. And… how dare she put that kind of pressure on a child who wasn’t ever here yet. I feel like I’m on the verge of cutting her out completely. All she has to offer me or my husband and kids is money and gifts on occassion. Otherwise she barely speaks to me. She certainly doesn’t reach out to me. She didn’t call me on my birthday this year. She and Dad called me on speaker phone a day late claiming they just got wrapped up in the remodel of their perfectly fine house. Mom and Dad came to visit the last couple of summers. Everything goes fine as long as we keep conversations on the surface. After a few days, she starts getting comfortable, opinionated, mouthy and I’m ready for her to leave. It was great to see Dad, but our relationship is strained because of the pressure Mom puts on him. We are not allowed to have a relatiohship outside of her. If Dad calls, it is always on speaker phone with my mom. She just wants to continue her games, push the boundaries and ultimately win by hurting me. I’ve truly come to realize that she gets some kind of sick pleasure out of hurting me. It’s just so sad… and hurtful. I’m so relieved to have found people who understand what I’m going through!


Hi Nina
Welcome to Emerging from Broken! Sounds like you have found the right website!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

thank you for this really fantastic post. You are inspirational! Thankyou.
( computer failure – just lost comment so i hope this isn’t a double up)

it has helped me understand how entrenched these victim behaviours and thought patterns are. It is wonderful and refreshing to read this straight talk …I have never actually believed I would ever experience love, nor did i deserve it.. I thought (and struggle with this) Love was not to be trusted. That expression of love was not about growth or expansion or mutual RESPECT. For me it was about denial of my own voice, my own needs, my own thoughts – about being invisible..love was danger and uncertainty

The lesson I learnt about “love” from my mother was I was bad, deceitful, worthless, incidental -nothing. I have lived in fear, sadness and shame and as a victim. It does kind of suck you’ve been sold a furffy.It’s a shitty situation realising you’ve been fed such a load of rubbish and believed it. That is not love.

Being a victim has meant I have been blocked to love – and self love. It’s like something that has been so unattainable.

Your work is helping me to stop being a victim – and bloody well get on with living as who I am.

….and I think that 80’s Foreigner song should be playing now!!!


Wow, did I ever sound depressed in my last :cry for help”. Things have not changed much except I have started hanging up on my mother-in-law. She calls and immediately starts in. I have tried to be nice but enough is enough. When she starts, I just hang up. At first, I felt guilty. But what do you do when it starts? The first time I hung up on her, my husband asked me what’s going on and I told him. To my surprise, he said, “Good for you!” I thought I was going to pass out. Too much stuff was going on in my mind.
We are going to our daughter’s house for Thanksgiving. I am very excited. If my daughter decides to invite her grandmother, that is fine.

Alice and Kris, thanks to both of you. Just a small act of kindness can do wonders. I feel ….. happy! Looking forward to Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Will update next week.


Hi Alice, Christopher McCandless did divulge his true feelings and his reasons for his fatal venture in letters to his sister. All I can say is it is an immensely validating book.

I know I have been absentee a lot here lately. I am still reading everything, I just have felt an overload, a need to step back and integrate. I am working on a couple of my own behaviors that are roadblocks for me to progress any further and these are big things. I’m in a very stuck place but working hard and going to therapy. Just sometimes feels like two steps forward, three steps back. I so appreciate everyone sharing, sometimes it is a lifeline……


Hi Everyone! I am home from France and I have just posted a new article on the homepage!
This one is called Positional Power; when your therapist doesn’t Get it… You can read it here! http://emergingfrombroken.com/positional-power-when-your-therapist-doesnt-get-it/
Talk to you there!
hugs, Darlene


There is a store at the mall I want to go look around in for Christmas. There is a salesman who stands at the door waiting for customers. I cannot bring myself to walk in. I am uncomfortable around men and even some women. I am tall and thin now, I take care of myself and my appearance, but I feel myself shrinking, I feel like the clumsy ox my stepfather always said I was as a child. I feel like a freak.

Something gets triggered and I feel very much inside myself looking out. I don’t know how to describe it, but it is actually as if some event occurs, my balance in thrown off, my surroundings seem further away, I am hyper conscious of every physical sensation, it becomes hard to swallow. I feel scared. I feel ashamed, ashamed of my body, my face, my breathing, for taking up space. I don’t want to be seen.

I can’t walk into that store and be the only customer with that salesman. I try, but I always end up just walking by. I want to learn how to stop being a victim and I want to learn how to stop avoiding so many things.


I had a major breakthrough in standing my ground and not allowing myself being manipulated. My mother-in-law is a control freak and I can never do anything that is right. (Her Words) I bought an huge turkey and called her to ask if she would like to have some when I baked it. (Well, she is a widow and lives alone and I have always tried to be nice to her) She told me that she could use the turkey for her family Christmas dinner. I told her NO, I had only called to ask if she would like to have some of MY turkey and that I would be using the meat for other dishes throughout the month. She said she guessed she would have to serve pizza for Christmas dinner. I told her that it was up to her on what chose to serve. I got off the phone and did the happy dance and told myself that I was proud of me. This was a major accomplishment for me. This website is helping me find me again and I like that.


Thank you for this! A lot of MHPs would never say this to their clients.

“I thought that unconditional love meant that I should put up with the ways that I was regarded and disregarded. I thought that would “prove” that I loved them. (and then I would be loved.) I didn’t really understand what love was. I only knew what I had been taught about love. I had been taught that love was compliance, obedience, and a false understanding of ‘respect’. And one day I realized that the way I had been taught love was wrong and that ‘they’ didn’t love me the way they taught me what love was. Love was all about them. I was the only one working to prove love. I was trying so hard to prove my worth to them (so that I would BE loved) that I didn’t realize that they didn’t follow the very rules that they taught me about love.”

Agreed. That’s what I was taught about love. This really reminds of how I have seen shows of people (especially women) staying stuck in victim mentality. “this is how he treats me, yea I am being abused but who doesn’t have their good/bad days? This is what my parents showed me/us growing up, this is what boyfriends/husbands/etc taught/showed me.” I remember in the 90s how the MHPs were saying how the victims couldn’t do/learn this because they were abused and left it at that. Fast forward to later, now the victims have to work on their issues.

I’ve been saying for years love was NEVER about my siblings and I it was about my “lousy parents and still is.” When you are self-absorbed, it is selfish yet people agree with that but then say parents are not selfish in the same air we breathe! My ex-therapist and others said I have a victim attitude, think a lot of people do. She said you’re not a mom, you don’t know etc I said look who sounds like a victim!

I shouldn’t keep harping on what happen to me in the past but I still do and just don’t find it fair how others can simply have a life, enjoy life, have a social life, etc while I am still fighting for freedom.


I sit here everyday and have the thoughts you have written about. I can understand intellectually, but it is so hard to change my outlook after so long. Until the last two years I had never really understood the impact that my childhood has had on my adult life. Now I don’t know how to change it. I want to be right, but I don’t know how. I don’t even know what right is anymore. I thought for a long time I had it all figured out, and then two years ago I realized I was numb. When I opened up, I failed. I know I should have seen it but I didn’t. I kept trying to change. I just can’t get it right. I want to live. I want to enjoy life. I want to put it in the past and move forward. I just don’t know how. UGH.


Well, I survived another family holiday. What a nightmare! My mother-in-law verbally attacked my husband, my daughter, my granddaughter and tried it on me. I chose not to respond. My husband left and went home. Her attempt to apologize didn’t work with me. I simply told her that respect goes a long way. She told me that when she sees something she just has to let them know when they are doing wrong. I replied with, “It seems to me that you need to put God back on the throne since your name isn’t mention in the bible as our Lord and Savior was and is doing just fine. What you are doing is ripping your family apart. Shame on you.” I calmly felt even though my knees were shaking. I walked home and told my husband I was very proud of him and we cried together. I then called my daughter and granddaughter and told them I was proud of them. I was amazed at the amount of strength I had. It felt awesome. I knew I was free. Without this web site, that may have never happened. Thanks, Darlene and to everyone who has posted. I love you for being honest. I saw me in so many posts. Coral.


I shouldn’t keep harping on what happen to me in the past but I still do and just don’t find it fair how others can simply have a life, enjoy life, have a social life, etc while I am still fighting for freedom.

“quit living in the past” Marquis, that is what I get. To me, there is a difference between living in the past and unresolved issues. To me, it’s unresolved issues is why I keep harping on it.


When I read the Oct 31st writing on stepping out of victim mentality by understanding what it is, it was exactly how I used to believe and I lived that way for many years. I have been healed of these lies I believed and now I know I am lovable and worthy of being treated with respect. No, being treated as described is not love. I now understand what love is and is not. I go forward into healthy relationships.


Hi Julie
Welcome to EFB ~ YAY for understanding, freedom and going forward in healthy relationships!
So gad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


Wow! This article was right on! I separated from my husband six months ago. And I quote from him “as long as you do things my way, there won’t be any problems”. It became a problem! There was harassment, anger, control. I felt intimidated, dis regarded, taken advantage of. My main feelings of him were not love, but rather, wanted his approval/acceptance. As time went on, I felt worthless, not love able, I was the problem in the relationship. I was the problem because he told me I’m the one with the problems, need to get my head screwed on the right way, I need help. I sought counseling and he decided I wasn’t going anymore, why? I told her he demanded me to touch a sharpened blade. I was scared enough I needed to let her know, she had to report it to family services, a detective did a follow up call and the husband went out of control he said I’m done seeing her, she’s a (called her swear names)..that turned my respect towards him to a minimum. He refers to women as fat beaches. He needs to control every inch of me or he flips out…this whole moving out is difficult due to we have two kids. Why I feel bad about what it’s doing to the kids, I don’t miss him or his ways. He is acting out in hasty measures, he loves money more than me. Too bad for him. Being away from him is better than I thought. While he tries to guilt trip me, I don’t take it that way. Unfortunately the fear is still there along with intimidation but I am working my way through it with a great counselor. I would advise anyone going through abuse, to know it isn’t you that created it, it’s the abuser initiating it to make you feel anything less than important. It’s a cover up for their insecurities and deep unresolved issues.
I felt like he ripped my heart out of my chest like a lion and dangles it in front of me as bait…erase that mentality and open your eyes to the truth. You are love able and there are people out there who are decent respectful and down right good!


“Victim mentality” has become a harmful burden and it isn’t because of the victim, it is because of society. How you describe “victim mentality” is not at all how most people see it. I have heard from psychiatrists, victims, and everyone in between, that “victim mentality” is considered a negative and weak trait of victims. I have constantly heard in the last decade negative comments such as “you/they shouldn’t have victim mentality” or “you/they just have victim mentality”. Society now uses this term as another way to silence victims. Victim Mentality is used in a derogatory and counterproductive way to condemn a victim who is complaining. Society sees “victim mentality” as bad behavior of victims and this causes them to overlook the offense. Society now considers “victim mentality” a problem with victims and they use it to cover up and ignore the crimes. Most people align “victim mentality” with whining and complaining and often times the victim is told to “stop blaming” and change themselves because they have “victim mentality”. I have heard so many people use “victim mentality” in such a derogatory tone that I don’t recommend anyone fueling the use of this damaging label. I wish that “victim mentality” was erased from the minds of everyone because it has become extremely harmful and counterproductive. Victims don’t want to be told that they have “victim mentality” but they are told that every day now. “Victim mentality” has become as overused, abused, and misused as much as “racism”. It has now become and excuse and and a tool.


Hi BeHappy!
When I wrote this post I realized after I published it that the title could have been a little bit more clear in order to get people to read it. I wrote it specifically because of what you are expressing here. The phrase is NOT at all how it is being used against people today. As you point out, it is being used to silence and shame. The phrase is another tool used against the victims themselves so that they dare not move forward into healing. I wrote this post with the hope of expressing the TRUTH about that whole thing. Thank you for sharing. I love your comments here.
hugs, Darlene


I think the hardest part of ” rejection” for me was always believing that it was my fault. The truth is a novel concept for me. Maybe I was/ am being rejected due to some fault in THEM! In all the years I never considered this possibility. I just automatically accepted that if someone didn’t like me, then I was to blame for it. And then the try harder and compliance dance began and went on and on. Thanks once again for Emerging From Broken, Darlene. You cut right to the truth and this has lead me many times to exploring things I never would have. Rejection doesn’t hurt as much when I don’t automatically take the blame. It doesn’t hurt as much when I realize that some people are just plain nasty and that is their problem. It doesn’t hurt as much when I realize Zi can stop doing their compliance/ try harder dance and walk away. I see I have choices now. I see I can be okay without certain people in my life. Best of all, I can see that I am not diminished because someone else decided to reject me.


Yes I noticed that right away Darlene. I was shocked to see “victim mentality” described how you described it and I wish that it wasn’t already ruined by those using it as a tool to shut up victims rather than to help them. The way that you described victim mentality isn’t harmful to victims but the term is already tarnished. Our society loves to ignore, punish, alienate, blame, and further victimize victims. It has almost become habit. I notice that many are using this term now and not in a good way. “Victim mentality” is permanently clouded with derogatory thinking about victims and unfortunately changing an entire society’s perceptions is nearly impossible. While I wish that your words could change society’s perception about victim mentality, I know that once these ideals take off it is difficult to change. Thank you for trying though. You are a gift to this world.


My goal is really only to change the way victims see themselves. That is where the real change in the world will come from. 🙂
When people see themselves as the beautiful and wonderful people we actually are, being defined by others will no longer have the same power. When the ones who are ‘unloved’ realized what love actually is, they will stop being defined as ‘unlovable’ and take their love and their lives back. It will and it is happening, one person at a time!
hugs! Darlene


Amber, I personally feel that this is one of the biggest hurdles for victims…the self blame. Who else are we to blame when our entire society consistently says things like “you are an adult now and you can change” or “put on your big girl panties” or “take charge of your life” or “blaming is unhealthy” or “you have victim mentality?”

What commenced my healing was recognition and acknowledgement that it wasn’t my fault. At first I did blame my parents, because realistically it is their fault. Poor parenting is the number one cause of mental health afflictions, disorders, and dysfunctions and parenting style is almost always passed on to the next generations.

Once I saw through the fog and learned about what I was dealing with I realized that every parent alive makes mistakes to some degree that permanently harms their child’s psyche, hence their future health and happiness. Children’s brains, personalities, and mental health is growing, changing, and learning until they are 27 years old and those responsible for the formation of those precious minds and personalities are their parent(s)/caregivers. The inherent belief that we should “always respect your parents” is extremely harmful and counterproductive, yet that ideal thrives in every one of us. I find it so disconcerting how children are told constantly to respect their parents at the same time being told that “respect must be earned.” How confusing that must be for abused and neglected children.

I refer to this terrible phenomenon as “parental arrogance” because all parents think that they are perfect parents, when realistically none of them are. They are all living in delusion while they are usually ruining their own child’s entire future. Once when I was a teenager my mother took me to a psychiatrist who explained that my behavior issues were her fault and of course she denied it and never took me back. Parents who take their “naughty” child to a therapist will lash back or get angry if they are held responsible in any way, which is why doctors so often drug children. Children are drugged at epidemic levels in this Country simply to pacify the parents, not to help the child. The child is sent back into the harmful environment that caused the behavior issues in the first place but they are simply drugged into accepting it without acting out.

Now abusive and neglectful parents are using “autism” or “aspergers” as excuses for their child having behavioral or even intelligence issues. Many parents have no idea that they are permanently harming their child and that is because society is so afraid to question someone’s parenting. Take notice of how parents react to criticism about their parenting. Their reaction is always automatically and instinctively extremely defensive, illogical, and even scary. It’s nearly impossible for doctors or psychiatrists to do anything about it because the parent will simply not return or they will ruin a psychiatrist’s reputation and career with slander and defamation. Humbleness is completely absent from the mind’s of all parents and when questioned they will scream that they have the right to raise their child how they wish without any interference. A parent can actually kill their own child and legally go on and have another one. Parents convicted of horrific abuse are allowed to have more children. A recent study clearly indicated that people react more harshly to animal abuse than they do to child abuse/neglect.

I see all the time parents who are estranged from their children and they all blame the child and they never look at their own responsibility. They make their child out to be at fault and they actually defame and slander their own child in order to hide their own responsibility for the estrangement. It is extremely rare when a parent admits to failure or mistakes with regards to their parenting. I once tried to talk some sense into a group of estranged parents and they were appalled and infuriated to think that they had any responsibility at all for it. It takes extreme strength and courage to point out and stand up to the dysfunction(s) in your family and the person who does that will almost always be condemned and ostracized by the parents. Those strong individuals are usually considered the “black sheep” because they can’t and won’t go along with the dysfunction in their family that is controlled by the matriarch or patriarch.

Our entire way of thinking about family and parents needs to change dramatically before anything will get better. Mothers and grandmothers are allowed to look away and ignore a pedophile molesting their children so that they can have money, companionship, or security. They are never ever prosecuted for knowingly allowing someone to abuse their children and in fact they aren’t even reprimanded or scolded. Look at Dottie Sandusky who adopted children for her husband to molest. She heard the screams and knew what was going on for decades and she did nothing about. That’s conspiracy yet it is completely ignored and everyone, including the legal system, is too scared to hold her accountable in any way. This “precious mother” syndrome has to stop because mothers are the culprits. They need to be punished for permanently harming their children and until that happens they will continue to commit crimes against their own children.


This hits home, both for myself and my family members who are still enmeshed. I see where I thought this way, until I stepped back and had to process the family dynamic from the perspective of scapegoat. Compliance is not love, being rewarded by a bully for doing their bidding is not being loved. As a victim, you want to keep trying to find a way for the situation to work out, and it never does. The victim can never rest, they remain ever vigilent to keeping the abuser content.


Hi Elise
This is true until the boundary is enforced. I found my rest when I decided that it was either equal value or nothing. They chose nothing… that sucked and it hurt but I found my rest. Life is really great now and I am not exhausted anymore.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I am readjng the Chapter on Coping a methods in your book.
My father didnt give me what I needed emotionally. He gave me instead self doubt and invalidation. He was emotionally and verbally abusive to my mother, sister and I .
He is narcissistic.
I married in to a family whose matriarch, my mother in law, is much like my father.
My experiences with her and her supporters(her whole family including my bro and sister in law) totally re traumatized me. I have not seen or communicated with her or them in 8 years. She doesn’t know her grandsons. She gets 2 cards a year from her son, my husband(which is another problematic issue for me-) My coping methods( including every time I see my parents) have included self deprication, ( it must be me!) , drinking, having an emotional affair because my husband only 1 time stood up to her on my behalf in over 10 years…. (I felt invalidated, dismissed….)…my symptoms bc of all this have been physical illness, depression, anxiety, mood swings, over eating….

I am a highly sensitive person and that trait has been used against me my whole life.
(It must be me!)

I appreciate this chapter an book so much.
It feels gratifying to know Im not alone.

I do not want to be a victim anymore. Im working on it– but each time i see my parents i reopen the pain both physically and mentally. I havent gone no contact – since im already that way with my inlaws.

Im so disappointed in how all.of this has transpired.


Today I am feeling more hopeful. I cried and cried a lot yesterday. Today is a new day. I realized that my coping strategies (thanks to your book) are doing the same thing to me as my father’s emotional unavailability did. Removing me from my core self. Invalidating me. Separating me from myself. Allowing me to get out of touch with me. Enabling me to look outside (to people) for validation.

My focus for today , because I can only focus one day, one hour , or minute at a time, is to return to myself for love.



Hi Tracy!
I am thrilled to read your comments today! And thank you for commenting about the impact my book is having on you!
Hugs, Darlene


It took me along time but I finally set boundries with my Mother. After so many years (I am now 47) of being treated like a child, belittling me, and just not satisfied with me as a whole I can tell her no. Everything I did was wrong from the time I wa a toddler until today. Not good enough grades, not good enough job, not good enough husband, and I was a lousy mother. After a rather large blow up last year where she started the same attitude against my daughter I told her that was enough. I didn’t talk to her for a month, she finally called me to see if we should talk (she didn’t like not being in control) I confronted her about several things in our “talk” that she was not happy about. She told me I was lying about her knowing about the abuse I was subjected to by a relative. She knew the whole time and did nothing to protect me. She let the relative back in the house after police charged them. WHAT MOTHER IN THEIR RIGHT MIND DOES THAT???!!!
Well she moved far away from me. She moved away from all her children. We talk on the phone, she wants me to come see her. And still the control continues. I will not commit to traveling and I here about my other siblings from her, how messed up they are. Then I hear from her “What did I do wrong” and she starts crying. Guilt and control. Guilt and control. Needless to say I don’t call her very often and I have no plans to travel. I definately can relate to the “Victim Mentality” I was there for so many years and I am still somewhat there still today. I have to say I am so much stonger today than I ever have been in my life. Even my husband commented just a few weeks ago how proud he was in me 🙂


A mother who knowingly allows a known child molester/pedophile around their child is seriously mentally ill, and I mean seriously. It is child abuse/neglect to do so and the child should be removed from the mother immediately as she is a serious danger to her child.

And guilt and control is right. Mentally ill parents use guilt and shame to control their children. My husband’s parents did that to him for his entire life but in a somewhat nicer way. They were always telling him what to do and how to do it to the point that he is like their little zombie robot and they hold the remote control even at 43 years old he deathly afraid to disobey them. He cannot even think or behave without their advice. To this day they give him bad advice because they want him to fail so that they look and feel superior. They have always in so many words told him that he was nothing without them and that he was incapable of making any sound decisions unless they told him to. They pounded it into his head for his entire life that he will never be better off with anyone except for them and they made his entire world revolve around them always abusing and ostracizing any girlfriend that he ever had. They even make his birthday about them and if he doesn’t invite them over to his house for his birthday they will not give him anything. It is part of their extreme need to make themselves the center of their children’s lives and to make them feel better at the expense of their children. If they aren’t the center of their grown adult children’s lives they will somehow make sure that they are. It is common for mentally ill adults to utilize their children to fill their own internal emptiness. Narcissists do it every day.

And that “victim mentality” is nothing but a harmful term that some idiot (probably a pedophile) invented to shut up victims. I don’t believe in what they refer to as “victim mentality” because no one has any right whatsoever to tell a victim how they should think or feel. The people who tell a victim that they have “victim mentality” should be punished because when they say that a victim almost automatically blames themselves AGAIN. Self blame and shame is a huge problem for the healing of victims and telling them that their “victim mentality” is their fault is more shaming and blaming the victim. I aim to abolish that harmful and damaging label of “victim mentality”. That is a naughty word in my house.



I’m sorry to hear that about your husband, especially since he’s middle-aged. Going on 27, I struggle somewhat with assertiveness as a result of my punitive, hypocritical upbringing.

I was usually punished or scolded when I expressed anger towards my mother as child, but was expected to stand up to bullies. I was easy prey as a result, and was blamed or chided for not standing up for myself. I was also raised (or indoctrinated) on how there are evil men lurking at every corner and to avoid ending up with one, even though all the physical abuse I suffered was from other females including my mother.

If I didn’t do any soul-searching connecting my past to how it shaped me into the adult I am now, I probably would’ve ended up with an abusive husband anyway if I chose to marry. (I plan to remain single for life, not for this reason, but it seems less of a hassle than being married to me.) In other words, I would have “married my mother”. I wonder how she would react if I were to marry a male version of her. I’m not sure whether she would defend me or be proud that someone would keep a “difficult daughter” like me in line.

She hates my father who was abusive to her and my older brother (There is an 18-year gap between us, so I never met my brother when he was a child.) Yet, my brother doesn’t seem much different than our father. (He insults his wife and bullies his sons, and his wife sometimes participates too and makes excuses for him, so I don’t feel sorry for her at all.) Yet, he’s the golden boy of the family. He seems to be the only man she doesn’t hate. Sometimes I wonder if they weren’t mother and son, they would marry.

I hope to become more confident, and not feel guilty when I’m angry or when I say no. It’s kind of difficult to do especially when I’m living in the same dwelling. (I’m hoping to leave soon.) I moved back in after a four-year hiatus and financial hardship, and found myself reverting back into my spineless little girl role. In my head, I know that I can’t be punished for being an adult, yet my heart is still figuring this out. I have a life-long journey of recovery ahead.


Besides not being married, I also plan to remain childless. This is the 100% way to protect my hypothetical progeny. I think that having children would make things worse. My family would assume since he/she is a relative, that they are entitled to see and spend time with the child. I’ve read stories of how toxic grandparents would use shrewd tactics in attempt to see the grandchildren or turn the kids against their parents. That’s way too scary for me to handle! Fortunately, that’s one I would never have to worry about.


There are literally thousands and thousands of cases of grandmothers allowing their second, third, fourth etc. husbands/boyfriends/partners molest their grandchildren. It is not that uncommon. Some types of pedophiles grow more aggressive and desperate for molesting children as they age and finding an older desperate and lonely divorcee or widow with lots of access to grandchildren is a jackpot and quite easy to find. I have seen many cases of it. In fact in Minnesota there was a case of a grandmother who was actually dating a priest who was being held at a special facility for pedophile priests. The priest was forbidden from being around children yet this grandmother was so infatuated with him and she was so lonely that she let him be around all of her grandchildren. The saddest part of all was that even after the facility contacted the grandmother and told her that the priest was not allowed to be around children and could not marry her she still refused to listen to them until the State actually had to step in and place an order on the priest to keep him away from the grandmother and her children. These types of women are everywhere and there are mothers who would do the same thing and allow a known sex offender around her children. Just recently in WI a mother allowed a known sex offender to babysit her 11 month old and he raped and killed the child. Those women should go to prison along with the offender.


Also what I have learned about mothers who are overly close and clingy to their sons is that they are usually in very unhappy marriages/relationships with their partner. The woman turns to the child to fulfill her needs and treats her son as more of a partner than a child. It is an unhealthy relationship that causes permanent dysfunction in the child. Actually many parents will utilize their children to fuel their own mental illness. I noticed that my husband’s mother and father have zero interaction and they appear almost like they can’t stand each other. There is definitely no love there and in fact I feel a lot of resentment between the two of them and I can understand why. They are both just pathetic. I can see how my husband’s mother is almost infatuated with my husband and she cannot let go and must always tell him what to do every day. It’s clear that she has leaned on my husband since he was a young child to be what her husband isn’t.


To: Be Happy
My mother treated me just like your husband’s parents treated him. I read your comments and it blew me away.
My mother hated my husband and made our teen years together so stressful. He is a wonderful man and I can imagine my life without him. We have been together for about 30 years. He has always been supportive.
This morning I thought back to the day I was in the police station, all the turmoil I went thru as a 16 year old girl. And my mother’s reaction. She never consoled me, cried for me, loved me, supported me. Her main concern was getting a lawyer for the a**hole. Really? She never showed any anger or disgust towards him…and why?? Because she new what was going on. And then she insisted on family counseling with the a**hole any professional in their right mind should not have participated but she found one. Her whole focus was keeping him around. Needless to say he divorced her a year later.

When I was 42 I decided to go to therapy. My therapist was wonderful, she cared about me and showed me the little girl that got hurt. I never allowed myself to see ME like that. It changed my perspective so much. I was scared to death to go to therapy but at the time I was having such panic attacks and just crying so much I new I had to do it. I am so glad I did.

I have shocked my mother since my therapy sessions she still tries the guilt and control but I don’t feed into it. I have a great support team with my family. My husband and grown children show me natural, unconditional love.

I hope the best for you and your husband. Stay strong!


Michelle I learned from my research that parents like your mother and my husband’s mother will always try to pull their children back into their dysfunction at every opportunity and the child must always and forever be aware of that and learn to keep a distance. They won’t change, especially at that age.


@Be Happy

Though I can’t confirm it since I didn’t exist when my brother was a kid, I wouldn’t be surprised if my mother used him as a husband substitute (and probably still does even though he lives in a different state.)

I also have an older sister, who I get along with a bit better than my brother, but I’m not very close with since she is like a younger version of our mother. They talk on the phone every night. (Which bothers me sometimes when I’m trying to sleep.) They’re practically best gal pals, which I find a bit disturbing since as far as I know, my mother has been living in the same town for almost 17 years and doesn’t have any close non-relative friends. She has acquaintances at the church she goes to, but doesn’t associate with them outside of church-related events.

I hope to limit contact with my family again, and I wish for your husband to gather the courage to stand up to his parents one day.


Victim mentality consumed me from the inside out. I couldn’t see a way out of it. I grew up believing im dumb, won’t become anything so don’t bother trying. I lived with these thoughts until a year ago. I didn’t know it was okay to stand up for self.. as I was told to go cry in my room mom didn’t want to heart out it. She wasn’t emotionally available. I was effected by her shutting me out. I ended up marrying an abusive, controlling,hasty man. We are separated and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I was manipulated, pressured, was blamed for his errors, used in a pornographic fantasy. No matter what I did to improve me, it wasn’t good enough, I didn’t live to his expectations so I was punished with silent treatment, demands,verbal abuse. So much, he got to me mentally another deliberate act. I’ve been going to counseling and it has opened my eyes and realize I’m not the problem. I shook myself out of victim mentality and accepted the fact that I discovered I’m not a victim anymore! I decided to not allow that way of thinking.


As I read more articles here, I am blown away. At 47, the abuse by my family was out of control AGAIN and I went to see a therapist. A horrible woman. I told her I felt like a victim – my whole life I tried to be a good person, it was never enough. I had to leave home at 15 so my father didn’t kill me, my parents and brothers have continued to treat me like crap from then on, even though where do they all come for holidays, when they need their dog watched, when they need help with something?, now I was dealing with a teenager who was abusive. I had never verbalized or I guess even in my own mind thought of myself as a victim but as I told my story to the therapist that is what I said. I feel like a victim. After 3 sessions with this therapist, who at times, would sit there for 5 minutes saying nothing, or type incessantly into her computer not looking at me. At the 3rd session, she said to me now I want to go back to something you said at the first session, You told me you feel like a victim. I said yes, she said I Don’t think you believe that for one second. You own two businesses, you travel a lot, you have a lot of friend,s you don’t think you’re a victim. I stood up and before I walked out, I told her I Think you need to find a new profession, do you know how hard it was for me to come here? I have wanted to talk to someone and get help for 20 years. You sit there like you are so bored with me, like I am a complainer and now you are telling me my feelings aren’t real?


Hi Tina
Wow that is awesome that you stood up to that therapist!! I loved reading your post! I didn’t begin to heal until I was heard and empowered to validate the damage that I had experienced. Thanks for sharing!!
Hugs Darlene


Thanks, this makes the most sense of anything I’ve ever read on this subject..so much I want to highlight, but will just sit with it all…


i have come to the conclusion that i can no longer associate myself with my family. i am too depressed every time i see them, it angers me when i see them. my mom negates the fact that i and my brother were abused. she says dont bring up the past. well mom, the past ruined my life, the abuse ruined my life, the 24/7 every day, living in fear, knowing that you were going to have to be severely abused just a matter of what time of day ruined my life. the abuse was daily, sick father, just pray it away mother. she left him and left us with him. i cant stand my parents, they annoy me, i hate them for what they did. i have to love them to go to heaven. does this make sense. my brother, who was tortured every day says, get over it. he is so affected by his abuse and he does not even know it, he is so damaged. my heart aches for him. why could i not protect him and myself. i wanted to kill my father when i was little but i would not go to heaven. no one would help us. i tell my family how horrible it was, they laugh and said i had a good life. if it was such a good life then why did my mom have to run to my aunts to hide, she left my brother in the house, just protected herself, they saw the hammer getting thown at her at my brothers 5th birthday, they saw him get beat every day, they saw me get stripped naked on my 12th birthday and beaten naked because my dad did not like the pants my mother bought me, the whole neighborhood knew the abuse, it gets worse but they are all so sick. i cant deal with them. my husband cant get it though his head why i do not want any contact with them. he gets upset if i do not return their calls. when they got divorced, my mom told me i wanted to stay with my father, yes he made us say that at the divorce trial, my brother and i were both in grammar school. he wanted us, not out of love, but needed to hurt my mom more and needed to control and abuse somebody, that is me and my brother. i have to move out of state to get the hell away from my mom. now i have a sister that is mentally ill and she wants me to take care of her, she is a half sister from my mothers 2nd abusive husband. i have 3rd stage liver fibrosis and it is mom and dads fault. i can not be responsible for my sister, my mom would not even take care of my brother and i and yet she wants me to take care of my sister. this will cause me heath problems, due to my liver, and she does not even get it. stress is the worse thing on a liver especially when you already have fibrosis. my liver is functioning normally even though i have 3rd stage liver fibrosis, i am very lucky. it has not spread in over 5 years. i have eczema really bad and all this stress makes it worse also. gosh, why wont everybody just get it and acknowledge that my life has sucked and my brother and i are severely damaged from it. i cant stand being in this state anymore, i want my freedom from this, i am middle aged and i never had a life, not one day of happiness, never content, hating every day because of the abuse. well, i could go on, but i am really having a bad day, as i do every day. i love you all, stay strong, wish i could take my own advice, thanks for listening. xo


Hi Everyone!
I have published a new post today on the home page. This article is about “When People Treat you Like You are Crazy, Stupid or Frustrating” Understanding the concept of this post is key on the healing journey. I am looking forward to the conversation!
Hugs, Darlene


I have a question. My mom (who has extreme narcissist tendencies) recently visited for just over a week…by herself. I moved several states away to get away from her control, her opinions constantly clouding my mind and her in insatiable need to make me feel small and stupid. She drives me crazy…literally! She’s a horrible “know it all” and her opinion is the only opinion that matters. She constantly rips on everyone. It’s embarrassing. She’s constantly trying to prove how awesome she is by bragging about her materialistic things while making fun of the older or “less than” things others have, including me.

Anyway…I always struggle with getting her voice out of my head when she leaves. I have an awful self esteem and an intense fear about my relationship with my own daughter. The terrible thing is (and this is where my question comes in) that we have some good times when she’s here as well. We went out to lunch and laughed and connected. I insisted on paying. She took us out to eat a few times and bought me some clothes (she insisted). She’s not a completely bad person. However, I am always left feeling a recovery process and a complete renewing of my mind when she leaves. I feel so confused. So here is my question, is it possible for a narcissist to kindly do things for someone else? I always wonder what string might be attached later. But I want to believe that there is kindness in my mom’s heart. I think she means well (sometimes) but she is terribly damaged by her own upbringing. Ugh…it’s so frustrating and makes me feel so bipolar and crazy. Moving away I tried to cut her off but she always widdles her way back in. When I let her back in too much I ALWAYS regret it!


Hi Nina, I dealt with similar things with my mother. My mother has passed on but I still get her voice in my head even three years later. My mother belittled me a lot growing up and even into adulthood and this severely damaged my self esteem and ability to handle adult life in a way that considers my best interest. I had to do a lot of climbing out of the hole I was in, and Darlene’s blog has been very helpful. I also had some really fun times with my mother. She did have a great sense of humor at times; that is, when her humor was not directed at tearing someone else down. One thing that Darlene has said that has been really helpful is that the good doesn’t cancel the bad. So just because I had some fun times, it doesn’t cancel out the fact that she demeaned me, hit me, and thought my only purpose in life was to reduce her workload. My mother had some narcissistic traits, but I don’t think she was a full blown narcissist. She did do nice things sometimes. Maybe your Mom is like that too.
I was no contact with my mother for three years a while back. Actually, she dumped me because I wouldn’t give her a big part of our savings that she wanted to borrow. She and her husband do not handle money well and I knew I would never get it back, so I said ” no”! She hung up on me. She initiated contact with a phone call three years later and just started talking as if nothing had happened. But I didn’t let her off easily. I told her I did not like what she did and is never to do that again if she wants a relationship with me. At that time I decided that the relationship was going to be different than before. We would have contact, but it would be limited and on my terms. We were able to continue it for the rest of her life, but I had to put my foot down a few times when she would make a nasty comment, treat me like I am less than, or try to take advantage of me by asking for something I didn’t think was reasonable.
I hope this is helpful to you, Nina. Good luck to you! Amber.


“I am always left feeling a recovery process and a complete renewing of my mind when she leaves.” – YES! That is the hard part. I fully understand this. It happens to me with my dad and especially happened with my mother-in-law.
I really believe this is where the entrapment lies. They do just enough (whether it is conscious or not is the million dollar question)–to keep us “hooked” if you will, doubting ourselves….the key is the feelings you have when they leave. Just as you stated, the confusion….a real , genuine non Narc person wouldn’t leave you feeling this way after you have been in their presence. That is the difference to me.


Nina, those with narcissistic personality disorder are good at brown-nosing, sucking up, and they don’t always behave badly, but beware when they are appearing to be nice because there is usually ulterior motive. My mother-in-law has narcissistic personality disorder and nearly every nice thing that she does is for a sinister and selfish reason. She taught all of her children to be the same way. They all play head games with each other and when they know that they went too far they will do something nice to smoothing things over and they use those nice acts as examples of how good and nice they are. They will be quiet for a while after doing something nice, simply waiting for the person who they originally harmed to “get over it.” They are experts at preying on good and honest people’s conscience and they do it consistently. You must always be cautious and extremely protective of yourself when these types of people do something nice or kind for you. Never let them get into your conscience because that is their goal and they are usually very successful at manipulating using good people’s conscience.


Hi Nina
I wrote an article about this here ~ The good doesn’t cancel the bad. They are two separate things. I realized that I didn’t have to put up with the ‘bad’ because there was ‘some’ good. My mother was terribly damaged too but why does that justify the way she treats me? These are all questions/topics that I have written about here in EFB.
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Thank you Amber, Tracy and Karen. “One thing that Darlene has said that has been really helpful is that the good doesn’t cancel the bad.” This really struck a nerve. My mom is the queen of “making me pay” when I don’t let her control me or just plain being mean to me whenever she feels like it. When she knows she’s pushed it too far she buys me something and acts like she’s some big hero and sweeps her awful actions under the rug and expects me to as well.

She also is really good at being sticky sweet to get back in my good graces…then whammo! She slips in for the attack. I have learned to try to keep her out of my personal life. That was really difficult this past week. When she visits with my dad in the summer, everything is laid back. This time she came right in the full swing of the second week of school and things starting up at church. She had her watchful eye on everything going on in my household all week and it made me so uneasy. I was constantly waiting for her to interject her judgmental opinion.

We don’t see things the same at all! It is detrimental for me to disagree with her. She will repeat her opinion louder! She’ll repeat what she thinks over and over again. She Will take a sarcastic tone and verbally attack me (of course with the notion that she is only joking). I can handle a couple to a few days of it by pushing it away from me but after over a week my resolve gets weak.

Somehow I’m the bad guy. I’m the idiot. My opinions and beliefs are stupid. But she is shining like a star because she bought me a bunch of clothes and took us out to eat a few times. Then I feel guilty standing up to her. It’s sick!

Also, she knows how much my husband and I struggle financially. So yesterday I made the mistake of texting her to keep her up on a situation with my daughter (which I cringed to do. I was holding up my end of obedience since I told her I would ugh!) So, she calls me right as I’m getting ready to head out the door to pick her up. I sounded irritated since I was distacted getting ready (which she had spent all week with me leaving about that time) and she says what’s wrong? I told her I was getting ready to head to the school. (I was also irritated she was calling me instead of just texting back). She spewed all her opinions on the issue with my daughter hardly listening to what I had to say. Then like an idiot I started talking about how we may not get our deposit back from our previous landlords. So she sarts ripping on Christians. I am a Christian and she can’t stand that.

Then she proceeds to brag about how my dad bought her an iPad for her birthday and how spoiled she is that she got a new iPad and a Kindle and a new car all in 6 months! She is so hung up on money and things. That stuff doesn’t matter that much to me. I get tired of her bragging about all that she has all the time.

I’m sorry if I am rambling. I’m just so irritated and am desperate to put some distance between us again. All while feeling guilty that I feel this way. Makes me feel like I’m crazy. What a vicious cycle. Smh.


This post describes exactly what I dealt with in my relationship with my family and my husband’s family. Darlene has it sketched out to a “T”. I could never do enough or be enough or do the correct thing. But in truth I went above and beyond anything that any of them would have done for me. It feels good to know that I am done helping those who do not deserve any of my time or resources.


im still here,

How frustrating it is to not have your pain be acknowledged by the very one’s who caused it to begin with. The good news is when I was able to move further along in my recovery process I started to see that the only person who needed to see my pain was me!!! I found out that part of that penned up anger and resentment I had was actually aimed towards me!! It wasn’t until I finally figured out that none of this mess was my fault that I was able to stop blaming myself for my parent’s poor behavior and with that realization I was able to release all the guilt and shame that went along with it freeing my self even more.

Now I let them think what they want to but this time I get to do the same thing. I no longer choose to tell my self a pack of lies and blame everyone else for what I did wrong like they do. I don’t need them to be accountable for what they did to me anymore because now I know the truth and that very truth that they are so afraid of facing is the exact same truth that is setting me free now.

Hang in there. I feel your pain. Surround yourself with other people who do to and continue to work on your own recovery and the rest will eventually fall into place. I am 49 years old and I spent the last
2 1/2 years discovering this for my self too. Who cares. We are doing it and that’s all that counts. We will be the one’s who are free while our FOO’s are still playing the blame game on us!! Too bad for them!!



My mouth has been wide open & gasping, my eyes are still wide while U process what I just read!!!!

Thank you so, so much!!! My counselor told me “I was playing the victim” and I was livid!

All the other cyber finds defended my honor as a non-victim player… But this… Indisputable.

I thank you for this valuable nugget to fully claim my life!


Hi Chanelle,
Welcome to EFB; glad you found value in what I wrote here! ~ you have landed on an older post. You might find all kinds of validation here in EFB ~ the more active conversations are on the more recent posts (see the home button)
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks bullying is a good word. I am almost 60 and still bullied and verbally abused by my older brothers. I married a very verbally abusive man and I adult child is verbally abusive and the others have self-esteem problems like me. I am working on it. Thanks


Thank you for putting your journey out here so that we can find it 🙂
Love as yeilding compromise and the ability to sacrifice….ha. Although I do think that compromise and sacrifice is sometimes an aspect of loving, in an abusive situation the guantlet of sacrifice is undergone by the victim because merely having to endure the victim is the terrible sacrifice the abuser does as reciprocity. What a concept. When I first read this article I was just coming to realize that I had some fundamental misunderstandings based on the experiences of abuse.
For me, love had a very self negating definition. Love was a matter of what I would do or endure for those that I loved. but…
I find it amazing that love can be applied to more than people. I can love an activity, an experience, a thing. I can even love the sunset. And in those instances of love…what I am experiencing is pleasure!!! and appreciation!!!! and joy!!!! Somehow in my childhood love had never ever been about experiencing pleasure or joy. I did appreciate but I think it was more of relief….it was okay this time, thank goodness this time they are in a good mood, i did not make them angry this time, it was okay i smiled this time, i was caught but not punished this time….or look, food, i can have some food and no one is mad.
My point, I think, is that love should have an aspect of pleasure and joy! For me, the victim mentality was thinking that if i wanted pleasure and joy, I was utterly selfish and wrong and bad….now that is a victim mentality…is it not? Living life with shame and guilt for wanting any pleasure and joy and feeling like I was loving because to could sacrifice and endure! I am getting clearer all the time. It is amazing to me to think about positivity as being the ability and willingness to seek and allow myself to find and experience, cultivate and nourish pleasure and joy in my life.


Hi Mariah,
Great points!
hugs, Darlene

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