Archive for Relationship
One of the biggest stick points on the journey to emotional healing has to do with the subject of TRUST. Somewhere along the way I came to believe that I had to trust people until they were proven untrustworthy. That is a false understanding of trust. It was through understanding how I learned the meaning of the word ‘trust’ in a manipulative way that really only served the ones teaching me that false definition of the word trust, that I was able to realize the truth; I didn’t have to trust anyone until they proved to be trustworthy. By the same token, I do not expect people to blindly trust me either. Trust in healthy relationship develops over time. Trust in healthy relationship is not mandatory and ‘blind trust’ does not prove acceptance or love. NOT trusting someone does not mean anything ‘bad’ and it is not a judgement against that person. Not trusting someone that you don’t know well enough to decide about trusting or not, is healthy. When I am expected or required to trust someone blindly, I consider that a red flag about the person who has this expectation of me.
From the Free Dictionary.com ~ Here is the definition of trust:
1. Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.
2. Custody; care.
3. Something committed into the care of another; charge.
Noun~ Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something
Verb~ Believe in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of
Based on this definition of Trust, I can see how I had the false understanding of the word and concept in the first place.
Trust is optional. Trust is something that needs to be earned more than it needs to be freely given without any knowledge of the persons ability, strength or reliability. As children, everyone older than us has ‘positional power’ over us. We learn to submit to that positional power because NOT submitting to it is a sure way to bring on a punishment, rejection, physical abuse and a host of other unwanted results. I learned to submit to positional power and I got my learned understanding of submission mixed up with the concept of trust.
As children we are taught to trust through other people; the people in charge of our welfare communicate Read More→
I grew up receiving the message that I was not that important. My feelings were invalidated and my emotional needs were discounted. And ‘that’ causes some life-long belief systems to develop when it comes to self-care and self-love. Learning that I was not important led me to discounting myself. This led to putting myself and my needs last and to breaking agreements that I made with myself. Breaking agreements with myself leads to not trusting myself in the same way that I don’t trust other people who break agreements with me.
The start of a new year always reminds me of this issue. I love the beginning of a new year. I relate a new year to a new page, a new blank slate that I can fill up in any way that I want. A new year brings new choices, new opportunities and new adventures. I often think in terms of “this year I am going to…..” and when I don’t do what I promise myself I will do, I damage the relationship I am building with myself. I damage my self-trust.
When I first noticed that I was doing this and that I didn’t actually trust myself because of it, my solution was to stop making agreements with myself. That didn’t pan out to be the best answer because the message that I was giving myself was this: If I can’t keep agreements with myself I won’t agree to anything at all. And that thought is related to many of the abuse tactics that I lived with for so long. For example in the past when I got upset with my husband for always being late, his solution was to stop agreeing to any specific time. (he admits today that he thought this was a genius idea and also admits that it was abusive) So he would call and ask if I wanted to go with him somewhere, but he would not tell me Read More→
I have been sick for almost 2 weeks which has been very bad timing for the Emerging from Broken website as the holidays are the busiest time of year for comments and private emails. I have been unable to answer them all this year. By the time I began to recover from the illness I had, I only had a couple of days to get ready for Christmas!
So this post is going to be short!
There is this familiar note that I get about Christmas with dysfunctional families: The message that people try to tell me, but really they are only trying to convince themselves, is that we are powerless and that we have no choice when it comes to what we want. I am told that “they” (controlling, manipulative and abusive parents) are ‘alone’ and it would not be fair (to them) if we don’t visit on Christmas day, and what I hear in that message is that our happiness and that of our own children’s happiness should be sacrificed in order to make these abusers happy. I am not sure where the truth about “love” is, in that.
We are “taught” that we get what we deserve, and that we ‘reap what we sow’ but it is amazing how that same teaching is not applied to abusive, disrespectful or unloving parents. How did they get to be exempt from reaping what they sowed, or from getting what they deserved?
If my mother is alone this year, it is not from anything that I did against her. It was because I finally saw the truth; that I did not deserve to be treated the way that she treated me. I gave her a choice; she could stop treating me that way OR stop having a relationship with me. She chose no relationship.
I got a comment today on an old Christmas post preaching love and forgiveness and using all the ‘guilt and shame’ tactics that I write about all the time here in EFB. The writer reminded me that our children are watching us. This was a comment written to indicate that I am being a bad example to my children because of the way that I live my life today.
My children were watching me when I was being disrespected, disregarded and walked all over for years before I stood up to the abusers in my life. My children watched me accept treatment that I never deserved for one second. They saw me accept Read More→
Earlier this week I received a comment on the post “Thanksgiving and Gratitude ~ When the little voice rebels” and a commenter asked some excellent questions. Since I get questions like these frequently, I decided to answer them in this new post. Here is the paragraph from “Coffee” with her questions;
Coffee79 wrote: One area I struggle with is when that voice comes along I want to call someone, anyone to tell me this isn’t the truth. When I tell myself that truth, why can’t I believe it? Why does it mean more coming from someone else? My self-esteem will not stay consistent, and my therapist says I need to learn how to be my own best friend. I feel like I do work at it more than I used to, but how does someone become these things when they never had it? I do not have a healthy reference. I respond to this voice by telling myself it isn’t true and I tell myself positive affirmations but I am not convinced. Darlene, how did you become your own best friend? How did you build your self-esteem without relying on the words others?”
Anyone who has been reading Emerging from Broken for any length of time knows that I find the answers by looking back to where the damage was caused and the messages I got and accepted about myself. I had to find out where my self-esteem went ‘missing’ in the first place. I know that’s easier said than done and I am not minimizing the actual ‘work’ for one second but that was the first part of the work. Becoming my own best friend came later. I had to clear a new foundation on which to build my relationship with me, before I started working on becoming my own best friend and validating myself.
When I look back on my own life, I realize that I was ‘trained’ or taught (by words and actions, outcomes and circumstances) to believe that without certain people I would not survive. When a child’s efforts are met with impatience there is a clear message communicated to that child. This message does not have to be communicated in words. It was only by finding out what that message WAS that I was able to overcome it. There were a LOT of false messages stuck in my belief system but the bottom line was that in the mind of a child, not being loved, ‘good enough’ or acceptable means being rejected and rejection means death. (I had to think deeply about this concept in my own life in order to relate to it. It isn’t something that I understood just by hearing it).
Through looking closely at these messages that were communicated to me, I came to the conclusion that I associated not being approved of or not being “good enough” with death. MY DEATH. And the survival instinct is very strong and something I realized is that I was Read More→
I have tried to talk to my father about the problems with our relationship since my first child was born over 20 years ago and although he pretends to listen to me, he never listens to me. I know this because he never tries to change anything about it. My father is emotionally unavailable. Not just to me; I believe he is emotionally unavailable to everyone. He sent me a birthday card this year and it said how he had all these fond memories of me. I wondered if he knew who he sent the card to? What memories? But I am tired of asking and last year when my father called to ask “if he was able to arrange it”, could he stay with us and attend our daughters graduation, I told him that I was tired of having the same old discussion with him; seeing him just hurts because it is a big reminder of his disinterested in me and how he delivers that same message to my kids about them. I told my passive abusive father that our relationship was pretty much “no relationship” and I was tired of telling him how much he discounts my kids by cutting them off and never listening to them when they are talking. I told him that I was tired of constantly being reminded that I have never been important in his life by his lack of interest in my life.
I told my daughter about my decision and because of the frustrations that all my kids have with their grandfather, she understood my decision. I told him (and my daughter) that he was welcome to come to the event, but not to stay with us in our home. There is of course way more to this story, and years of dysfunctional history behind this decision but for the purpose of this article, I am going to leave it at that for now.
Last month I got a letter from one of my half sisters. We have our emotionally unavailable father in common but we have different mothers. I think I was 16 or 17 when my sister was born; we have never actually lived in the same home or even in the same city or province and don’t really know each other all that well but like all good victims living in the dysfunctional system of victim mentality, I covered up for my father when it came to my half sisters (and to everyone else for that matter) and even believed all my own lies up until about 7 years ago when I faced the truth about my life and my dysfunctional parents.
There are a few things that I want to point out about her letter that are very common to the dysfunctional family system. Please keep in mind that my half sister is a victim of the family dysfunction and in this case she is just as much our fathers victim as I was.
The following letter was sent to my daughter with a CC to me because Read More→
Eventually, at some point in my childhood, I accepted the fact that I was not heard and not going to be heard. I did not consciously accept it, but it was an effective part of the grooming process and I came to understand that it was “just the way it was”. I think perhaps I believed that when I was “older” or when I was an adult, I would have “my chance” to be a part of the world and finally have a voice.
When I grew up however, nothing changed. I had been taught compliance and subservience and I didn’t step out of that role just because I became an adult.
I wasn’t heard so I stopped expecting to be heard. I was not “allowed” the impact that I saw other people had. I had to listen to what everyone else wanted, but I was not given that same consideration. My opinions rarely had any impact. I sought out friends who were similar to me in their own victim mentality and found fellowship with them but I continued to have bosses, parents, boyfriends who communicated that they were more important than I was. Once again with those types of people in my life, I stopped trying to be heard. I accepted that I was not going to be heard and that my voice didn’t really matter. Not having a voice and not being heard had become Read More→
My parents split up and eventually divorced when I was just turning 13 years old. After my mother went through her suicidal phase she started dating. She had not been separated from my father for very long when she started dating. Men and dating became her priority.
Through her behaviour she communicated to me that attracting men was the way to cope with low self esteem and pain. Looking back on what she taught me and how she impacted my belief system, she herself believed that men and having a man in her life was what she needed more than anything else. She believed that she needed a man in order to survive. She needed a man in order for her to feel complete or even good about herself. Men defined her as worthy and good enough. Her self esteem came from them. Their attraction to her identified her. Having a man meant that my mom was okay.
I had learned from my mother’s actions, words and teachings that men were the most important connection or relationship a woman can have. Because belief systems grow from layers of information, add to that teaching what I learned from the media (movies and books) and from observing Read More→
There have been some interesting discussions here in the comments this week on EFB about whether or not to confront abusers. There are a lot of factors to consider. Confronting an abuser isn’t an easy decision. Many people think that this should be easy but there are dynamics that most people don’t consider. When a family member is the abuser, it may be even harder.
People wonder why survivors of abuse are concerned with “hurting” the abuser. I think that the history of the relationship has to be considered in order to understand that fear. As children we were taught to submit to adults, and to always consider their feelings and never consider our own. We carry this training/grooming with us as we grow up.
My motive for any type of confrontation is for self healing. MINE. But there was a lot of fear. I had to really look at why I was afraid to hurt their feelings and I had to figure out why I was afraid to say anything. Did I feel the need to protect “them”? Why was I so concerned with Read More→
Last week, Pam shared a piece of her story with us in her guest post “To be Objectified is to be Dehumanized” This week Pam shares the next stage of her recovery on the subject of human Objectification. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. ~ Darlene Ouimet
When the Bubble Popped: My Recovery from Abuse by Pam Witzemann
My sister says that it wasn’t rape. She says that statutory rape laws are “controversial” and for that reason, she doesn’t believe that what happened to me at 16 was statutory rape or any kind of sexual abuse. She believes this because many young men become involved with teenage girls. In her opinion, the man who victimized me was merely a victim of the sexual revolution and I was rebellious. I said that since she doesn’t acknowledge the law, that leaves only opinion and my opinion is as good as hers. Actually, I said, I believe the laws were written for a good reason. I told her that when a young girl (me) was given lots of alcohol and drugs by a grown man who then proceeded to have sex with her in front of other grown men without her knowing, it was Read More→