Archive for spiritual abuse

Emotional abuse, sexual abuse,

Hope in the Darkness of Rejection

All abuse, whether it is emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, is abuse and that these articles that I write on Emerging from Broken apply to ALL kinds of abuse.  I intentionally make a connection between depression, dissociation, multiple personality, eating disorders, addictions and other mental health struggles and abuse. It is my experience that my difficulties and struggles were birthed in how I learned my value or rather my lack of it. The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.

The subject of not wanting the abuser to leave me and wondering why they did is SO complicated! For me, one of the things it has to do with is compliance and how much of my life that I spent trying harder for them. The deeper that I look at the roots of my belief system, the more that I can figure out where things got off the track.  First of all there are the tons and tons of mixed and conflicting messages that we get both from right sources and wrong sources. They all kind of go into the same pot and they mesh with each other. Remember the story of how when my mother declared that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room in the night to sexually assault me because I had a crush on him. Well because my self esteem was already so damaged that I believed her, I added that self blame to everything that ever happened to me before that event. Then there were a few things in my past where I was not such a perfect child, like the time I faked the nightmare for attention, and when a child is a mere child, it doesn’t take much for things to get really mixed up in the memory, the mind and then in the belief system. The grid that we try to process things through, gets damaged.

I had to look at the “foundational foundation” to start with.  That is the belief that we need and depend on whoever our caregivers are for our very lives, protection, security, the things that children need to grow into healthy adults. And when something happens that alters those basic needs, we have a problem.  We get this split belief about love somewhere along the way and we start to believe that love is something that it isn’t. My mother taught me my value, she taught me the version of LOVE that she believed, but it isn’t real love. So I think that what she is doing is love, and I used to say “I know she loves me, I know she is doing her best”.. but today I know differently.  She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself. But it doesn’t work and it isn’t good enough and it hurts me every time.  Where is the love in that? Part of my recovery was realizing what love is and what it is not.  

When I told my mother that I was not willing to have a relationship on her terms, she finally asked me what “my terms” were. I told her that from now on she could no longer say that I had a crush on her boyfriend when I was just a kid and that was why he came in my room in the night. AND I told her that I was sick of having to prove to her husband that I liked him. I guess my terms were too high.

She was silent. She did not respond to any of the “terms” I stated. Then she told ME to think about our talk and get back to her and I said no mom, you can think about it and get back to me. I could write a whole other blog post about how everything was always up to me but that particular time I had given her MY terms, what the heck was I supposed to think about?  That was the last time that we spoke.

And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance. After keeping my mouth shut about her boyfriends ~  I wasn’t worth her effort. I had never stood up to her all those years. I didn’t dump HER. I put up with all of the degrading in front of the whole world. I stood silent when she told men they could sleep with me because I was on the pill even though I was only a teenager! I didn’t even tell the family therapist (we had to go because my brother got arrested) what was really going on in our home or how she treated me. I let her take me to bars as a man magnet when I was 17 and I never said a word; I followed HER one sided definition of love and loyalty and I kept thinking that one day it would pay off ~ AND she dumped ME! It was incomprehensible! This was just the most unbelievable “thing” for me to try and comprehend. I was such a GOOD VICTIM and it was all for NOTHING? Because when it came right down to it, I was not worth her effort.

And it feels like rejection, because IT IS REJECTION.

As the months went by I felt more and more shock and disbelief as these truths sunk in. But something else was happening. I realized that I didn’t miss the abuse. I didn’t miss having to constantly do damage control and make sure SHE was okay. I didn’t miss having the joy sucked out of every single exciting moment in my life.  I didn’t miss the put downs, the insults, the sexual innuendos or the family problems that she caused with her gossip and trouble making. I didn’t miss the anxiety.

And I started to grow. I started to come out of the fog in a much bigger way; I had so much more clarity about the truth and realized how many lies about myself that I had accepted.

This whole story does not just apply to parents; I had a couple of boyfriends who fit this same pattern. Oh and a few friends too. And employers…………. well you get the picture.

Please share your journey, struggles or victories or whatever you need to share for your recovery.

Exposing Truth one snapshot (or two) at a time

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf  ~ Belief system development

Sexual Abuse ~ Devlaued, Discounted, Unprotected

More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationship (and the comments)

                              

Categories : Mother Daughter
Comments (114)

 

Emotional Healing, Abuse Recovery

another year bites the dust

Today is a new day and we are close to beginning a whole New Year! In the past I liked New Years because it always seemed like a new chance for a new beginning, but the past couple of “New Years” my thoughts are different; I thought that 2009 was the best year ever, and now I think 2010 was the best year ever so this year I am celebrating that I had a GREAT YEAR, and celebrating that I know 2011 is going to be the best year ever too. =) I am not thrilled to say good bye to 2010 but yet I’m super excited to welcome 2011.

Emerging from Broken was born out of my life long quest for recovery from depression, abuse,  (sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse) and from mental health struggles and from the resulting dissociative identity disorder and other coping methods that I had been using and trying to overcome my entire life.  I had been told that depression was not curable, only treatable. For some reason, I didn’t believe it. Both my mother and grandmother had suffered chronic depressions and my mother had prepared me for a lifetime of that struggle too, but I kept seeking a solution.  I remember this little flame of hope ~ this tiny voice within me that said “NO” I don’t believe that. I am SURE there is a cure ~ a permanent solution, a way to live in fullness in the way that I was sure we are meant to live ~ like a birthright. I almost gave up before I found it but I am happy to say that I persisted just long enough. (the key was in finding the truth)

To be more accurate, Emerging from Broken was born out of my victory over all those things. When I finally knew that I was free, that I had found a new way to deal with depressions, addictions and coping methods, I wanted to share the message of hope with you all.  I wanted to tell the world that healing and recovery is possible, freedom from depression in all its many forms, is possible, that living in fullness and purpose is really possible because I live there now. (the key was in finding the truth)

Recovery from abuse of any kind is a journey of many levels, twists and turns. There are hills, valleys, scary caves, dark forests, bright clearings, majestic mountains and dark creepy forests. There are rivers to be forged, and oceans to be crossed and there are peaceful ponds to rest by on lovely sunny days, after stormy nights filled with thunder and lightning. 

Today I like it all. I see the beauty in the journey. I see the progression to wholeness takes all of this and sometimes even more.  It takes willingness and courage. It takes determination and decision. It takes resolution, strength and stick-to-itiveness. It takes hope and belief.

I didn’t think I had any of those things! I didn’t think I had courage OR strength; I didn’t even think I had WORTH ~ but I did. I had all of them ~ some were weak and buried deep but they budded, blossomed and grew and they continue to grow and flourish as I keep going forward..  Deep down I had all these qualities and you have them too.  

So it is with excited anticipation that I say good bye to 2010 tonight and welcome 2011. I do things differently today; I live differently. I live in the truth. I like myself and I believe in myself. I am on the journey with myself and no longer dissociated and I am enjoying getting to know the real me. This is my hope for you too.

As I reflect back on the past year, and anticipate this New Year, I am grateful. I didn’t have community in the most difficult part of my journey and wished I had had that so I have created it here in Emerging from Broken for all of us; it helps me stay the path also. I am grateful for each one of the readers, guest post bloggers, commenters and contributors because my life is enriched by each of you. You give me a reason to share. You help me fulfill my purpose. You inspire me and encourage me. I thank you.

Happy New Year.

Wishing you a year filled with Truth ~ then Love will follow

Darlene Ouimet 

Related Posts ~ “Before I faced the pain, I had to face the lies”

                            ~ Getting to the Turth ~ an audio by C.Enevoldsen and myself

                            ~ I held the key to my freedom ~ by Susan Kingsley Smith

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Categories : Depression
Comments (30)

freedom, recovery, self love

I tried to LOVE by the definition of love in the last post “Love is Patient, Love is Kind ~ a bit of a rant” but I was not valued for that because I (whatever I did) was never good enough. How could I have learned to understand the true and lovely meaning of this poetic bible verse “1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” if I never had an example of human love that actually loved this way or presented love in some sort of balance?

People tried to tell me that Christ was this example but this was not my childhood experience. The bible tells adults to be an example of Christ ~ but where WERE those adults? I recall being “preached at” being talked down to so often the people delivering these messages were delivering them in a UN-loving way. As I child I learned that I MUST do this “love thing”~ but I didn’t learn that others must also try to achieve this standard, I only applied it to me. The fact that all people (INCLUDING ME) have equal value, was missing from my learning. What I learned was that I was not going to BE loved, but I HAD to love.

This missing information went with me into adulthood and everything I knew (right or wrong) about love went with me and I processed all relationships through the grid that I learned as a child. Things have to be RE LEARNED properly with the right definitions in place if we are to heal this gaping wound.  People said things like “just put it behind you” or “Just give it to God” but nobody told me HOW to do that. I was not able to put the massive mixed messages about love or about my worth behind me until I really looked closely at how they got there and what the real truth was. And this was not a small mess, it was really huge.

This post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sorting some of this stuff out but one thing I learned on my journey to wholeness is that the key to my understanding the true meaning of love was by realizing what it was not.

If I am supposed to treat others the way that I would also like to be treated, then I had to begin to treat myself with respect and love too. Self love was never taught. I had to learn to regard myself the way that I was being encouraged to regard others. The first step towards self love came from the work of looking at how I arrived at “not loving” myself.

SO……Just what does that mean; what did I do?

I looked at the abusive situations I had been in. I examined them in a new way as though they had been done to me instead of that I had been a participant or somehow responsible for what had happened to me. I began with the first memory of trauma. As I have shared before, my first memory of trauma was of being sexually abused by a female babysitter when I was just over two. When I took this memory apart, revealing to my therapist everything that I remembered about it, I was shocked to realize that I thought I had a choice. Even at the age of two, I thought that I could have done something to stop it. And since I didn’t stop it, I concluded that I must have participated in it. This conclusion did not come from that one event. It came from many other times in my life when I had not been validated and my only conclusion was that it was my own fault. Self blame was how I survived. I could not blame the adults that took care of me, for without them (when we are children) there no hope.   

I looked at the child sexual abuse, psychological abuse and physical abuse spiritual abuse and the trauma that I had experienced. I examined how each situation had affected me emotionally and how I adjusted in order to cope with the reality of how I was actually regarded or not regarded.

Then instead of trying to change ME which was the solution I believed in all of my life,  I stopped trying to change ME and I looked at the root of the abuse and what I believed about myself because of it. I looked at WHY I blamed myself and HOW I came to blame myself. That is where I found the answers. What I changed was the false belief system that I had accepted about myself and my value.

This false belief system was given to me by many others and by many situations.  Not all of them were abusive, but the grid that I viewed them through was discoloured and foggy from a very young age. I already had self esteem problems.

When I was actually able to straighten this false truth out, I was able to realize that the state that I was in emotionally and mentally was never something that I brought on myself. I was able to place the responsibility where it belonged; on those who failed me, abused me, mistreated me and devalued me. The good news is that I didn’t have to stay there forever either. I stayed there long enough to validate myself and to believe that I deserved equal value to everyone else.

Then I had to own that value. I had to embrace my own value deeply inside of me, all the way to the very core of me. I had to take apart the damage, in order to realize that I was indeed lovable and that I could love me. This took time. There were a lot of false beliefs and false definitions about love living as truth in my head. I had to take a look at it and re-wire a lot of it before I began to feel the burden of self hatred lifting. There was a lot of re-parenting involved ~ learning to love and nurture myself ~ to do and be for me what others never were for me. I had to let go of the guilt that went with not being able to “just let God do it”.  

It was like a huge clean up project; I might not have been the one that caused the damage but it was my work to fix it. Love, healing and wholeness were my rewards; I found myself and I embraced the unique self that had been rejected, first by others and then by me, all my life.

Please feel welcome to contribute as much or as little as you wish in the comments.

Freedom calls from the other side of broken,

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Self Esteem
Comments (35)

Abusive love

Inspired by the comments in my last blog post “If love is the answer, what is love?” I had this bright idea to write a blog post about what I was raised to believe “love is” and I kept hearing  that bible verse going through my head… you know the one, “love is patient; love is kind” my kids had to memorize it in grade three I think…….. so I looked it up.

And my brain was flooded by so many abuse memories and SELF abuse memories that I felt breathless and a little sick to my stomach. Originally for this post I was going to write a list of what love is not, but it was nothing like this list at all. This verse is a foundational teaching, not just in Christian circles, but in many circles. This has been recited as poetry. This verse has been a standard guideline in the world and many don’t even realize that it has a biblical foundation. As with many other teachings, I made it MY guideline and used it to beat myself up with. It became the whip of “not good enough; no wonder I am not loved”. I am not angry with the Bible or with God. That was not the source of the deception. I am angry that I was taught this standard that NO ONE of significance in my childhood ever modeled for me and yet somehow I was supposed to grow up and “know this”. I even expected it of myself.

Here is the verse:

“1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I used to love this verse when I was in the fog of compliance and obedience. Did I ever really understand it then? I certainly never thought about it the way that I am thinking about it today.  I didn’t apply it to myself in the way that I suspect it was meant to be applied to me. Here is how I “read it” to myself back then; The translations are how I “FELT” about the definition. How it translated to me. How I used it to keep myself down, right where “they” wanted me to be.

Love is patient, love is kind: Translation: I must be patient, I must be kind. I must accept all mistreatment, disrespect and abuse and I must treat all abusers with love and kindness to prove that I am “good enough and worthy” (to be loved by THEM)

Love does not envy ~ Translation: I should be grateful just for the fact that I am allowed to take up space on this earth and NEVER wish that I had anything good that someone else might have.

Love does not boast, it is not proud~ Translation: How dare I think that I have anything to boast about. Nothing that I have comes from me, I cannot accomplish anything, I cannot have any ideas on my own, I have nothing to contribute in this world. I am hopeless.

Love is not rude~ Translation: NEVER speak up against mistreatment or in defence of myself for that would expose someone else and paint them in a bad light and no one but me is ever wrong

Love is not self seeking~ Translation: Love is not for ME. I should not seek to be loved but only to love. I can make such a great difference in someone else’s life if I love them so always try to love them with no expectations of love in return no matter HOW they treat me.

Love is not easily angered ~ Translation ~ I have no right to be angry. I deserved all the bad things that happened to me. No one is really wrong except me. Anger is a sin. Anger is wrong. Anger is NEVER justified. Something is wrong with me if I am angry and because I don’t want to accept mistreatment.

Love keeps no record of wrongs ~Translation:  Forget immediately the harm done to me by everyone else and NEVER bring it up again, never speak of it or reveal it or bring attention to it. If I ever do reveal those secrets, I am no better than the one who did it. Also see the forgiveness rant that I wrote a few weeks ago. 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth ~ Translation: I did not really know the difference between evil and truth.  No one really taught me the truth. Many taught me evil disguised as truth.

Love always protects ~ Translation: Love protects “them”. And I should protect “them” too. Love is one sided and I should not ever expect it (or “them”) to protect me because as I said above, love is not for me.

Love always trusts ~ Translation: Trust should have its own whole blog post. I tried and tried to trust people that didn’t love me by their own definition of love!  I felt guilty because I didn’t trust.

Love always hopes: Translation. Love and hope?  I hoped that one day I would be good enough to deserve to be loved.  I hoped to be saved by prince charming.  To be honest, I am not sure about this one. I hoped for love from people who by their own actions, didn’t care about me.

Love always perseveres: Translation: Keep trying harder to be worthy of love. Keep trying even with the people that treat you like garbage. Just keep trying because then you MIGHT be worthy one day. (and think about this: who did we seek love from? Even romantic love? So often we sought love from someone who (like our abusers) was not capable or emotionally unavailable)

It never occurred to me that by this definition of love NO ONE ever loved ME nor was I ever encouraged to love myself, in fact quite the opposite. (And since today I know that unless there is self love, there is no love then not being taught the true definition of love is a problem.) What did occur to me is that I was not loving THEM and therefore proving to myself and to the world that I was not good enough, I WAS the one to blame, I was BAD.

Everyone is welcome to contribute your feelings and thoughts about this topic.

Stay tuned as I continue in my next post with how I learned to love myself by finding out the truth about how I arrived at NOT loving myself.

Bright blessings wrapped in real TRUTH

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family
Comments (67)

why do sex offenders abuse

Sometimes we get stuck on the “why’s” and the why questions. We can talk endlessly about what happened, we can realize that it was not our fault, we can face the pain of having been devalued, used, unprotected, powerless and disregarded, but the why questions still remain.

~Why did my mother seem to take pleasure in humiliating me?

~Why did my own mother publically tell men they could sleep with me? She even told my cousin that he could sleep with me because I was on the pill.  

~Why would an adult sexually molest a child?

~Why did my mother’s boyfriend come into my room when I was a young teen, and why didn’t my mother believe me? Why did she blame me?

~Why did my mother hit me with a belt and then say that she was going to give me something to cry about?

~Why didn’t my Dad do anything to protect me? Why didn’t he notice?

~Why did my teacher hate me and threaten me every day until I was too sick to go to school? Why didn’t my parents believe me when I told them?

Thanks to the Emerging from Broken facebook page readers for participating in this post. Here are some of the questions that came in from readers on our Facebook Page:

~“Why are churches so closed minded about sexual abuse? Why do they put programs in place to prevent abuse, but not put programs in place to help victims?”

~“Why is it that in churches they tell you that if you read your Bible and pray, all the things from the past sexual abuse will just go away. They think you don’t need counseling or anything; you just need to get over it. Why is that?”

~”Why are the accomplices (those who ignore or allow or even assist in the abuse or hiding the abuser) are not charged or punished in the case of sexual or domestic violence abuse. Maybe more would speak up if a precedent was set. I know a lot of these people were/are victims or survivors too, but that is no excuse not to protect your own child.”

~ “Why is it that you feel as though you have just told someone you were abducted by green aliens when you talk about being sexually abused? They look at you as though you just said something that only a delusional person would say. AND that you have the audacity to put them in a position of having to respond.”

And this last question along with a very personal comment; ~ “Why is it that sexual abuse is one of the most heinous crimes out there, but most of the abusers never serve a maximum sentence? My father got out on good behavior; of course he did! There are no children in prisons to molest so he was on his best behavior! “

These questions are really just a handful of the “why questions” that we all have when it comes to having been abused, hurt or devalued in any way.  Some “why questions” have possible answers but do they make us feel any better? When we hear that some people don’t care about their own children, but only their own selfish desires it only adds to the frustration that we already feel. Some why questions have no answers and sometimes the reason that we keep looking for answers is not just because we want so badly to understand but also because we believe that if we could understand that we would be able to move on. But think about that for a minute.

There is a danger in getting stuck on the WHY questions. Part of my victim mentality was made up of always seeking to understand others, and what that transferred into was that I made excuses for some of my abusers; there are as many excuses as there are abusers but really do any of the excuses help? I whispered in the dark to myself that my mother really did care, she just didn’t understand. I assured myself that my father didn’t know so he couldn’t do anything about it and that deep down he loved me as much as he loved my brother, it was just that he wasn’t interested in me because I was a girl and I assured myself that all fathers are this way. I told myself that some of my abusers were in an “altered state of mind” and really they just had no conscious clue what they were doing. I felt sorry for some of the women abusers that I had and told myself that surely they too had been abused and therefore it was not really their fault. I thought that I needed to try harder to “love” them and do what they wanted so that they would stop hurting me.

And as I have said so many times before I had been groomed and trained to believe that the reason that I was devalued is because I was not as valuable and because I deserved no better. I was convinced over time that I had done something; brought it on myself. I tried to understand my mother and I felt sorry for her, so I excused her behavior for many years and in excusing it, I allowed even more of it. I thought that if I found the reason “why” I could find the proof that really they did love me and then I could excuse them if only I understood. In reality, I was still looking to prove to myself that it really was my own fault or that I was still missing the “key” that would make them stop hurting me and start accepting me.

I had to let go of the why questions for a while. I had to in order to heal.

Today I still have why questions, but I also know that some questions don’t have answers and even more important than that, if there was an answer, it wouldn’t change anything, it would not make it alright, and it would not heal me.

Please feel free to add your own “why questions”,

Darlene

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness
Comments (33)

I’ve been thinking a lot about a one of the last comments made on my post “Groomed to Doubt Through Spiritual Abuse.” The writer said in a nutshell that the people who voiced strong disagreement with my posts were people from my real life who really just cared about me. Words like this can be “catch words”, cause us to stop and second guess… especially in the process of recovering from abuse of all kinds which teaches us to doubt ourselves in the first place. It’s not my desire to pick apart readers’ comments, but it’s the idea behind this particular comment that I want to put under the microscope.

I’ve been writing a lot about spiritual abuse, and it strikes me that so much of spiritual and church abuse happens under this confusing umbrella of “we care about you.” We want you to become a Christian because we care about you. We will confront you about sin and reprimand you with Bible verses because we care about you. We will stand you up in front of the church and tell people about your wayward ways because we care about you. We will talk to so and so and so and so and so and so behind your back and ask them to talk to you or send you an email to correct you because… we care about you.

If the person saying they care about you has known you your whole life, there’s an extra layer of confusion. Somehow, it seems like their opinion should hold more weight, as if they know everything about you.  A statement like that could easily put me into a self-doubt spin. My deeper thoughts flashed through my head:, “Carla, these people say they care about you, that they are confronting you because they care. It’s pretty gutsy of you to doubt them… They’ve known you your whole life, so surely they know the real you better than you know yourself…” These doubts come from that old mentality that didn’t know my own true value and didn’t know how to define myself, myself. When I tune in to my true heart, legitimate questions put holes in their claim of “care”. Do they know me now? Have they bothered to contact me in person and have a real conversation? Do they know my true state of happiness and fulfillment in my life? Have they walked the path with me to see how far I’ve come? No, they haven’t. So when they throw accusations and corrections at my new way of thinking, it strikes me as a flat out lie that they really care about me.

I used to think like them too. I believed that pleasing the “system”, keeping myself and others within its rigid walls, would lead to my ultimate salvation. It felt easier to gauge myself and determine if I was okay or not if I kept following the rules rather than following the adventure of a free willed heart… But the truth was that living in these rigid walls was squashing me. My soul was dying a slow death because as hard as I tried, I could not find my salvation in the rules and constrictions of the system. The system DID NOT care about me. It only cared about numbers and keeping those who were blindly following, blindly following. It only cared about protecting itself.

There have been other people in my life, close friends, who have challenged me. Their challenges have not always felt comfortable. But when I ask myself the same question about them, my answer is very different. I do feel cared for by them, because I know that their aim in challenging me is to help me become all I am meant to become. They have no ulterior motive to keep me thinking the same as them or to keep me in line with their rigid, controlling system. They aren’t trying to keep me boxed in, shut down, small minded, and pliable. They want me to become more myself, stronger, less pliable, more fulfilled and deeply happy. There is a huge difference… and I can feel that difference.  Real caring encourages real life, not slavery. Real caring cares about the individual, not the system that the individual is questioning.

As we grow and change, there will be those who will try to lasso us back to where we have come from. They are afraid. They are still trying to find their salvation in the systems they are trapped in and they are protecting themselves and that system. We don’t have to fall for this claim of “I just care about you!” We can doubt them instead of doubting ourselves. We can trust that our feet are taking us in the right direction, deeper and deeper into the life we were meant to live. No one has the power to stop us from reclaiming life giving freedom and reconnecting with our true hearts. No friend, no parent, no sibling, no pastor, no relative, no organization, no leader, no spouse, no in-law. I want to send big encouragement to all of you as you keep pursuing your wholeness. You are worth it and you have what it takes.

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A Special Note from Carla

These past seven months have been an amazing journey, sharing my truth and getting to know and interact with all of you here. I have been feeling a strong need to take some time to focus on myself and get more clarity on a few foundational things about “me”. In the theme of true caring, I have decided to take an indefinite writing break from Emerging From Broken. I will still be working a bit “behind the scenes” and hope to share a post from time to time and stay connected. I want to thank Darlene for her amazing support in the process of me making this decision, as it really has not been easy! I also want to thank every one of you for engaging with my posts to this point, and for sharing your incredible journeys with me and each other. With much love, Carla

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness
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In high school I wrote a worship song with these words: “Cleanse my motives, make them pure. Change my heart to be like your’s. Fill me with your precious love. Dear Father make me holy…” It was really more like a dirge!

By this time, the religious systems I was a part of had me convinced that my heart was very bad. My heart, the thing inside me that feels and is moved, the spirit that holds the essence of what it means to be ME… colourful, pulsing energy that is unpredictable, passionate, unpretentious, desirous, drawn to the truth. The thing inside that feels the most and wants the most… My life force… I had come to believe that this thing inside me was dangerous.

Water Spray by Vince Mig

In my young mind, if my heart was bad and in dire need of correction, then my safest choice was to distance myself from it. Why would I embrace, explore, trust or be lead by something that was bad?? I disconnected myself from its vitality. I put up walls to protect me from its unpredictable, ungaugeable movements, and (though I didn’t realize it then),put up walls to protect it from the outside correction that deep inside I did not understand.

The incessant teachings I learned about knowing “God’s will” for my life compounded this dynamic. We were taught that we might have a certain dream, we might desire to get married or climb Mt. Everest or be successful and rich. BUT that- might- not- be- God’s- will- for- you. Because we couldn’t trust our hearts, our deeper motives for any dream had to be analyzed, questioned, examined. We might just be wanting ourselves to look good, or feel important or pursue a dream only for our own satisfaction. Rather than finding our way by getting to know what was inside, we were taught to find God’s will by the signs in the sky or by what other people told us. I was steered into the confounding pain of feeling desire, but not trusting it. Of trying to find my way, but anguishing that if I did something I enjoyed, I might be doing it for the wrong reason. And if I really found JOY in what I was doing, well then I wouldn’t be finding my joy from God alone and that was an unpardonable sin. Somehow, God had to tell me exactly what I should do with my life so that I would not get it mixed up with my own fulfillment and satisfaction. Somehow, I had to contort my heart to match some altruistic, non “self-serving” aim.

This is an extremely anxious way to live. I’m not trying to say that we should follow every whim we feel or live without contemplation, wisdom and learning. But the core of this anxious state for me was being divided against myself… Not feeling I could trust that anything within me was good. It felt impossible to move forward or chart out a satisfying life for myself.  I couldn’t trust my heart, but trusting in outside “signs” or other people to tell me which direction to go was incredibly uncertain too and made me very vulnerable.

Abusive religious systems want people to remain disconnected from their hearts because that’s how they can keep controlling them, keep them “hanging” in uncertainty with the need to come back again and again for direction. At the heart of the journey of wholeness is becoming free to connect with and value our true hearts, uncovering the lies that scaled over our eyes before and recovering the life we lost long ago. To me, this process is the true “rebirthing” of the heart and spirit.

~ Carla ~

** Special Announcement!!!**

We want to let you know that tomorrow, Friday July 9th, Darlene will be interviewed by Diane Viere (“Setting Boundaries and Finding SANITY”) on LIVE blog talk radio! The interview will air at 11am Mountain Standard Time and 12 noon Central Standard Time. If you’d like to hear Darlene’s incredible message in person, this is a wonderful opportunity! You can visit this link for more details: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/settingboundarieswithyouradultchildren/2010/07/09/challenging-your-belief-system

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness
Comments (7)
Jul
06

Church Lies and Religious Abuse

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spiritual abuse, church abuse,
Layers of Lies on Something Beautiful

I received this letter from one of our readers in response to Carla’s amazing post “Groomed to Doubt through Spiritual Abuse” which generated 60 comments and many emails and I found this one so compelling that I asked her permission to post it. In this email, Jeanette touches on some of the key sore spots that so many of us are dealing with in our frustration with Church and religious abuse.

 This problem isn’t just within the Christian Church and Christianity, but in many fellowships and even non religious organizations. At the heart of this problem is the misuse of power and control. Certain people get to dictate what is right and wrong, what is acceptable or not acceptable and in the Church many have decided what the bible really says and feel justified in judging others with it. It took me a while to get out of my own struggle with this aspect of abuse because I was afraid that if I went against them it was the equivalent to going against God himself. My mind questioned “What if they are right and I am wrong?” and deep down this was a constant fear that I had. But when I took a look deeper into that fear, what I was really afraid of is that if they were right, then I was really not even good enough for God and even though I believed that God would forgive, love and accept the rest of the world, He would never love me. When I started to share this dread with others, whispering in fear of who knows what… I found out that I am not the only one who feels this way.  We have a whole society of people who feel these fears and are afraid to talk about it; afraid to disappoint God. I was afraid of God because that is what controllers wanted me to be. It kept me pliable. It kept me doing the things that they wanted me to do. It kept me quiet.  It kept me in my victim mentality, and there is no freedom, love or grace in that mentality. At the heart of this message, we are discussing our frustration with the way that we have been conditioned; we are exposing the lies that we have been fed by people, not the bible, God, or Christ as a whole.

 Jeanette highlights a few other points in her letter:

Jeanette says

“Darlene, I’ve been stewing over the spiritual abuse issue and it’s had me going in all kinds of directions because of how it permeated every area of my being, and I know you can relate to this.

 One of the fallacies or lies of the current Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christianity is that there are short cuts to everything, that God has provided them and if we have the faith, they are ours.  There is a short cut to transformation, that ‘born again’ experience; there is a short cut to getting through physical infirmity, faith healing; there is a short cut to emotional healing, the spoken word of forgiveness.  It’s is all bullshit.  There are no short cuts, and as Christians we have been caught up in this false teaching and have been spinning around and around, knowing in our deepest parts that it doesn’t work, but too afraid to confront the entire foundation that we have built our world view upon.

 The road to healing, whether spiritual, emotional, relational, whatever, is never short and easy and a matter of just speaking a word and then moving on.  It is a long process that is filled with twists and turns and pain and triumph and every other thing that we encounter in life, there’s no getting around it.  And it pisses me off that people try to bully those of us who have figured this out into thinking we just lack spiritual insight and faith.  There is so much arrogance going on with this and it really pisses me off.  Many of us wouldn’t have had to endure half the pain we had, if hadn’t this added burden, this added layer of deception to work through.  More than just an added layer, it is a plethora of threads that are woven into every layer of our abuse and pain.

 I don’t know if I will ever be able to rejoin the Christian community frankly, I don’t believe I will ever have the stomach for it.  But one thing I am thankful for, and that is that I have at least gotten to this place, where I see the wrongness of that belief system and am able to walk away from it, shake the dust off my feet, and move on to a better life.  I’m NOT saying I am not going to remain a Christian, I just don’t know if I can rejoin the community, there are too many people who believe all this crap that seem to infiltrate every Christian community out there.  I’ve had enough of it for a thousand lifetimes.

Love, Jeanette”

 As always, we welcome your comments. Again I ask that you please understand that the point of this blog is not to trash the bible, God, Jesus or any religion, we are simply exposing the truth in order to heal from the lies and abuse that have us trapped in a cycle of being controlled by people (not God or Christ) to the extent that we could never feel good enough to deserve the love and acceptance of a higher power. When I recovered from spiritual abuse, I was able to have a relationship with God and to know that He is on my side. I am good enough, I am loveable, and I have purpose and I believe this to be the truth for all.

 Blessings and Love,

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family
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Me in High School

I was a very esteemed member of the small private school I graduated from. Most people might have considered me to have been lucky, been jealous of my “status.” My peers looked up to me. My teachers applauded me. I was valedictorian of my class and won the “Student of the Year” award numerous times. I was told I was very gifted and would do “great things” for God. I was chosen to go to Leadership Retreats. I seemed happy and confident, was attractive and intelligent. I was a “shining example”… But inside, my own light was so dim.

I was heralded as a leader at my school. In reality, I was a teenager who was starving for validation (of my true self, though I didn’t know it then) and acceptance. It is easy to look at teenagers who are “trouble-makers”, who break the rules and rebel, and think “Wow, they have issues.” But my experience was exactly the opposite. I had some serious issues, painful doubts about my value and very little sense of my identity. But I just chose a different way of trying to mend those issues. I chose to mend them by excelling and being the “Golden Girl.” I found myself in a system with rules that I found easy to follow. Because I followed them so well, I was heralded as a leader.

The rules in the religious system of my school were: you have to know the right answers about God and Christianity; you shouldn’t trust your own humanity or desires; you must be well behaved good people who don’t swear, smoke, dress promiscuously, have sex, watch bad movies, or listen to bad music; you must sacrifice your life for God and find his will for you (which, to my young mind, meant I might have to do something I hated for the rest of my life… but God would be pleased); you must be an example to the WORLD of how great God is (by being academically superior, by being good kids, by making a difference). We were under eighteen years old!! Speakers came and told us how the world needed us to be heroic Christians so we could make a difference for God. We were taught about other religions and how they were wrong in what they believed- we were taught how to “defend our faith.” We were taught to be good examples when we played sports with “non-Christians” (don’t lose your temper, be nice, be positive). We were told (in a nutshell), “You are free to pursue any kind of life you want, even outside of Christianity- BUT, wait and see how unhappy you will be if you do…”  We did performances at other churches and schools to show how amazing we were as a school and as students. The more “godly” we were, the more applause we got. I excelled at doing all these things.

I learned to gain my value from “system pleasing” at school. The better I became at “system pleasing,” the more I was applauded as a leader by the bigger leaders and the more I gained my sense of value from THAT as well. PLUS a huge feeling of responsibility that other people’s spiritual growth depended on ME… PLUS the pressure of having to keep up the “perfection” facade so I could keep getting the approval I thirsted for so I could maintain my threadbare, patched together self-esteem. The sad truth was, I was not a leader. I was actually a supreme follower who had found a powerful way to gain approval. A system that is concerned primarily with its own survival more than it is concerned about the people in it easily takes advantage of that kind of a “leader.” I was taken advantage of in being valued more for what I could offer the system than for just being me.

A healthy system would have encouraged me to cut myself some slack; it would have nurtured me to become my own individual beyond exalted, “Christian” achievement; it would have offered their version of the truth, but also welcomed opposing ideas and “outside the box” thinking. It would NOT have applauded me for being a copy cat or a puppet. A healthy system would have helped me learn that how I really felt or thought was GOOD enough and that I was accepted for more than just my accomplishments and good behavior. A healthy system wouldn’t have put so much pressure on kids to be heroes for God (heroes as defined within its own rules). A healthy system would have said, “You can bring God glory by being YOURSELF. Not by squashing your own desires to death under the microscope of ‘is this God’s will’?”  A healthy system wouldn’t have propped a girl up as an example only because she mirrored everything the system was teaching her.

In this religious system I blindly followed the lie that I was valuable for serving a system outside myself, not valuable for being me. I walked a tightrope of good behavior and spiritual achievement which ultimately left me hollow and disconnected, anxious with so much responsibility and the need to be “right and good” to help someone else’s cause rather than for my own benefit.

~Carla~

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness
Comments (13)
self esteem and re-establishing self worth
Emerging from Broken

Being survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, religious abuse or psychological abuse has a lasting effect on us. One of the worst consequences is that our value has been falsely defined by others. We are told who we are and who we should be. Over time we are conditioned to accept that we don’t deserve as much as others; we don’t feel like we are “as good” as others and we don’t know how to grow our own healthy self esteem. The building blocks for self esteem and self worth were taken from us, often when we were children. Abuse robs us of innocence and the ability to progress to maturity in a healthy way and since we are conditioned to somehow accept that the abuse is something we deserved or caused, we don’t look at ourselves with clear vision.

In my case I constantly tried to fix me and when others were having a bad day I thought I should fix that too. In any relationship problem in my life, I took responsibility for the repair of it. I took the blame for the breakdown of it too. This didn’t always look like I agreed that it was my fault, but I was willing to believe that I was too sensitive, too demanding, too controlling, too needy and too unreasonable, and I was willing to adjust my expectations accordingly. Usually that still meant that I was willing to take less than I deserved and take way less than I was willing to contribute to a relationship.  The problem was that I was always the one doing the adjusting. That came from the conditioning and the belief system that I adopted as a result of being devalued. I had grown up believing that I was not as important, not as valuable as others and I was used to it. I was used to trying to make someone else happy and I believed that if I complied that I would be safer. It never occurred to me that the abuse was not something I  caused OR deserved so I still believed that being what someone else wanted was where I would be accepted and loved and the truth is that I was never once loved for being who someone else wanted. It was as though they demanded I be who they wanted me to be and then they resented me for being so compliant and in order to feel good about themselves again, they demanded me to change more.  I was so used to jumping through these hoops that I kept trying to comply and the cycle just continued; the fog got thicker and I had trouble seeing what was really going on. My self esteem got worse all the time, but until I realized the root of the problem, there was no real lasting recovery.

I had to get to the bottom of the truth before I could discover who I really am and find my value for myself. This began with me realizing that I had always been at the bottom of the value barrel in my family of origin, in my husband’s family and then it was even happening in my marriage family, with my husband and kids. I was so used to having less value that I accepted and even expected to have less value. I accepted it as the truth.

 I had to decide that I was worth more, that I was worth saving and that I deserved equal value. And then I had to realize that it was up to me to take my value back; to take back the value and self worth that had been taken from me. I am not suggesting that this was easy, or that all I had to do was decide to do it. I had to go deep into the heart of what I believed about myself, and realize that my beliefs were taught to me by abusers and controllers and that most of my beliefs about myself were not given to me by people who loved me in the true definition of love. I was able to grow up my self esteem when I realized where the damage to it came from and righted those wrong beliefs. I had to realize that no one, not parent, friend, lover or therapist, was going to be able to establish my worth for me. They can help along the way, but no one’s approval is going to make me okay unless I believe I am okay, but it was only because I realized how ripped off I had been by the adults in my life, that I was able to take responsibility for my recovery and begin to emerge from broken!

If you believe you aren’t worth it, nothing will convince you to treat yourself otherwise.  

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Survival
Comments (14)