The Deception of an Emotionally Unavailable Father


passive abusive fatherI 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 my daughter made a comment to my father on facebook about him not seeing his family in Western Canada (where we live) and my sister decided that my daughter must not know why he isn’t visiting us.  She decided (falsely concluded) that I had not told anyone that I told my father I didn’t want him here. She waited three months to ask Katie about her comment on facebook and she attached a screen shot of the conversation on facebook to refresh everyone’s memory. Here are the relevant parts of the letter she wrote to Katie and I; (I only took out the first part which was specifically to Katie)

“Hi Katie and Darlene,

I thought it would be better to go straight to the source, so here we go. The discussion was on March 22. It’s in the attached photo so everyone’s memory can be refreshed.

Katie: I think you should ask your mother why your grandfather hasn’t visited you, because it’s not what you think. You should specifically ask what happened on the most recent attempt when he called her and said he wanted to come for your graduation. I don’t think you got the message. And I think you’re old enough to be allowed to know what’s happening, perhaps it’s time you make your own decisions.

Katie, you should also know that the last time I visited you guys – which I know was a long time ago but hey I barely have money for groceries, let alone travel that isn’t being paid for by work – your Mom told me that our father was the Mom she never had and how lucky we were to have such a caring Dad. Darlene you talked to me until 2am one night about all the things he did for you through the years. What happened?

Darlene, you don’t owe me anything. But if you are willing, please explain what happened and why you are poisoning your family against the man who stood up for you when you had a teacher who was bullying you at school. Who changed your diapers and your kids’ diapers. Who like every other human is not perfect but who loves his family as much as any person ever could.

Aunty ….”          

And my response;

“I no longer have that rogers email address but Katie forwarded this to me today

You seem to think that Katie doesn’t know the truth about this. (and I will never know if YOU know the truth about this because Dad is a master of twisting things or leaving enough out to make himself look better) I am very honest and respectful with all my kids. After years of asking Dad to listen to me and stop changing the subject constantly to be about him, I told him that I didn’t want him to visit anymore. It was a constant reminder of how absent he was throughout my life.  Dad doesn’t know me and he never bothered to. You mention that I told you the he was the mother I never had. I did say that but it was only for the short period of time when Katie was born. Just for that time he helped me so much but that does not make up for the constant pain he caused by his passive abuse and lack of interest in me or my kids. I told all of my kids that they could make their own decisions about relationship with grandpa but for me I was done. I guess the final straw was when he was last here and he started picking on Amy and all three kids were very effected by the way he cuts them off and never wants to hear what they want to tell him.

It sounds like the only story you know about me is also one of the only ones he ever tells. (the abusive teacher story) but you don’t know the truth about that one either because I could never face it in order to repeat it. It was Dr. Quenelle who threatened mom and dad that it they didn’t get me out of her class that he would get a court order to get me out of it. (Dad didn’t want to confront the principal and make those waves) Dad told that story as the hero, but he wasn’t the hero.  The Dr. advocated for me.

 You asked me what happened? Well I woke up and faced the truth and stopped telling myself what a great dad I had. The truth is that I never really had a dad. He didn’t even keep in touch with me after my parents got divorced. Barely a phone call and no answers to my letters.  And the phone calls were all about you and (my other sister) anyway. (And there is a LOT more than just this truth). Who changed my diapers?? You say that as though that gives someone “rights” ~ I doubt that you know any of the truth about my childhood. (except his three favorite stories; the zoo and the monkey, the chocolate bar sales and the dr. story)  You only know what Dad has told you. (and I can tell from your email that he has told you very little even about the last few years) Think about it.

Relationship takes two and the burden of it should never rest on just one person. Dad has reaped what he has sown. Don’t blame this on me.” Darlene

I never received any response to this email I sent my sister and Katie who also replied to her making it very clear that she knew all along what was going on (and more importantly Katie addressed her own issues with her grandfather which had nothing to do with this event), didn’t get a response either. I would guess that my sister was shocked to realize that Katie knew the truth all along but I would not be surprised to find out that my sister would only use that knowledge as “proof” that I had brainwashed and “poisoned my family” very efficiently.

Key Points: My sister says; “Katie; I think you should ask your mother why your grandfather hasn’t visited you, because it’s not what you think. You should specifically ask what happened on the most recent attempt when he called her and said he wanted to come for your graduation. I don’t think you got the message. And I think you’re old enough to be allowed to know what’s happening, perhaps it’s time you make your own decisions.”

My sister is SURE that Katie does not know anything about why my father didn’t come to her graduation. The fact that she thinks Katie “didn’t get the message” refers to the phone call where I told my father that I didn’t want him staying in our home. My sister assumes that Katie was not told about that phone call and that Katie is “old enough” to be told what is going on so that she can make her own decisions regarding having a relationship with my father. My sisters shows how she doesn’t even consider that this could be anything to do with our father doing anything wrong? My sister is very sure that I am the bad guy here. My father obviously left out all my REASONS for saying I didn’t want him to stay in our house. I was very clear in my communication with him in that phone call. My father left out any of the details that could cause him to be held accountable. My sister only has one side of the story but she is sure that she knows the whole story because that is how the dysfunctional system works. We don’t question everyone or even consider that there may be another side to the story but instead automatically believe the one who has the most power in the relationship.

Then my sister goes on to “prove” to Katie that I have always said my Dad is the greatest and that I can’t just change my mind now by telling her about a late night conversation that took place years ago when I was still living under the dysfunctional family RULES. Under those dysfunctional family rules I didn’t think that I had a right to change my mind when it came to things I had once said were “wonderful”.

And then my favorite paragraph of all; “Darlene, you don’t owe me anything. But if you are willing, please explain what happened and why you are poisoning your family against the man who stood up for you when you had a teacher who was bullying you at school. Who changed your diapers and your kids’ diapers. Who like every other human is not perfect but who loves his family as much as any person ever could.” 

She says that I am poisoning my family against the man who stood up for me when I had a teacher who was bullying me… a huge lie of a story that I use frequently in this website because it is such a great example of how this whole dysfunctional family system thing goes.  And then the diaper thing! (I changed her diapers too.. if she wants to live by those rules.) This is the best that she could come up with to prove that my father loved me? This example bursts with “obligation” and that I own him something, but what I see from her example is the proof  or the “truth leak” that my father doesn’t love me because those are the only examples that she has that show my fathers love for me. She thinks those things prove he loves me and that he is a good father to me! Her definition of love is messed up. I don’t live by that definition of love and I feel sorry for her that she does.

I never told my sisters about my childhood because I thought it would be unfair TO THEM. I didn’t tell them the truth about my father because I lived in the false belief that it was BETTER for them if I went along with the lies just like for so long I believed it was better for me too. They believe that I am the problem and I never stuck up for myself to prove anything different. I kept all my fathers dirty secrets and now I am the bad guy… AGAIN, but I know it would not have mattered if I had not kept those secrets. I would have been the bad guy anyway.

I used to think that my 2 half sisters had a much different experience of my father then I had. I thought that he was better able to be a parent when they were born. I even told them that he was different with them because we had different mothers! I also thought and believed that I should have or could have been a better daughter so that he would have loved me. Today I don’t think any of that is true. My sister is a victim of this dysfunction just as I am; she prefers to live in the false comfort of the fog.

She says that my father loved me the best he could?? How the hell does she know that? The best he could according to who?

And I am so much happier now that I don’t live in that horrible fog anymore. They can have all that dysfunction but as for me I escaped it.

The cycle is obviously not going to end yet, in the rest of my family.

Please share your thoughts. Please remember that this is not about my sister but about the lies my passive abusive father has convinced her of. She is a victim of the whole thing too and I have no doubt she lives in a lovely thick fog storm. After all, she thinks the fog master is a wonderful father.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

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Categories : Father Daughter



I really like that name, ‘the fog master’ for a manipulative, emotionally abusive parent. To NOT change your child’s diapers, NOT feed and clothe them is criminal neglect, so certainly following the law doesn’t constitute a debt of gratitude owed to anyone. I remember being shamed for cutting my abusive sister out of my life “after all she has done for you.” The fact that she let me sleep on her couch for a few weeks while looking for an apartment and once drove me five hours into another state was supposed to not only make up for years of emotional abuse without actually working through the pain and problems, but destroy any right I had to stand up for myself in the present, whether about current problems or those ones in the past.

But when I cut my sister off, I never brought up material things like this–I didn’t even mention the fact that she had once promised me to cosign on an apartment and then strung me along for three months without just saying she didn’t want or plan to actually complete the forms and do it. My letter was centered on her emotional abuse, things she had said, the way she refused to recognize or respect me. Naturally when she spoke to other people about this, she didn’t bring up any of my actual concerns, but just changed the subject to ‘I did all these things, how dare he say this to me?’ I was always defined securely as being ‘beneath her’ and I always would, so I certainly didn’t want that relationship anymore.

This post has reminded me of the fact that I also was never allowed to change my mind in my abusive family. Everything that I said was taken as if immediately in stone. I can remember countless times when my mother screamed at me, “Why didn’t you do ___ in the first place???” She was incredibly inconsistent herself, but I was held to a much higher standard. I’ve felt my inner critic bothering me lately, saying that because I changed my mind about something, I must thus be ‘lying’ but that certainly isn’t the case. Thanks for displaying your confidence in this response Darlene, it helps as I contemplate my future confrontations and the denial-based accusations likely to come back.

August 8th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Notice the fact that they always communicate in a text message or email because if they really wanted to know the truth of it and know your side of it, they would call you and discuss your thoughts and feelings. But they don’t care about you. They just blindly follow the abuser, and help the abuser by abusing you more.

My sister is this way. She wrote me, “How can you treat MY mother this way?!?” She also said, “I don’t know if it’s your goal to kill mom but it’s working.”. I wrote her that OUR mom is not a victim and she is accountable for her own actions.

Their purpose is to guilt us and reprimand us and repeat lies they’ve been told by the abuser.

I am NC with my unhealthy and unloving family, but I’m afraid at what my mom will do in the future about contacting my kids (who are toddlers right now) in the future. Yesterday she sent them cards pretending as though she cares about them. I threw them away, and later I cried, the first time in awhile. Why didn’t my parents just give me away when I was born? Maybe then I would have had a chance to be loved.


Darlene…this article is such a great way of explaining “step by step” how a real life situation in a dysfunctional family is handled between the members of the family. The father (in this case, yours..) is older and now reaches out in a kindly manner over the phone to ask permission in a way that SEEMS entirely reasonable and even loving in nature.And it is about a very important event. This is such a great example because it clearly shows where so much confusion and false hopes and also continuation of family “patterns” comes in! The parents are now hoping to gain pity and understanding and sympathy for the way they are now treated and spoken to and cut off ….from anyone else in the family who can still be fooled. Nothing STILL is ever about what happened to YOU and what could be done to help YOU or changed so that there is a healthier way to relate for YOU….it is still all about HIM or THEM. My father was the same way. Emotionally detatched and unavailable. He would reach out in HIS way, HIS time, and we would go round and round, year after year.IF HE wanted to. Like yours, there were times that were considered in the moment to be times that we shared a laugh….shared what I thought could eventually LEAD to a real breakthrough between us. He could never change enough to allow me to just be ME, and that was always the real issue. Not even the abuse, or neglect. He didnt really like me and want me and that was made abundantly clear every year of my life by his disinterest. My older brother was by the same mother as myself, and the two younger were by Dad and his second wife…”mom”. The younger half brothers are exactly like your sister who wrote to you. Your sister doesnt have a clue, was brought up in the same family dynamic and believes in it right now very strongly. She sounds like she is a mirror copy of what they have wanted her to be towards you. My brothers are that way towards me. It is a sad thing and I feel for you because I know how it feels. I feel sorry for your sister and for my brothers because they are stuck in the same crappy dysfunction that seems to pass along from one generation to the next. To a point. At a certain point I stop myself from being TOO sorry for them because they are also responsible for how they handle what has been told to them. My brothers could have chosen to listen to me and believed me and to find out about me and ask me questions to find out my answers, and they could have chosen to behave differently towards me…..but they didnt. I tried as hard with them as I did with my parents,but they wouldnt change either. There came a point when my husband and I adopted the saying “going fishing”…that was when I realized that I was being placated for a time…the bait being thrown my way…and if I bought into the false “listening” and “believing in me” and took the bait and swallowed it…then I would be “reeled” right back in to where we all started. The family pattern! The way it always was. Them in control and me having to submit to being treated and allowed to be devalued . Not anymore for me! I quit that family dysfunction forever. YAY! Your sister sounds exactly like my brothers …and she doesnt even know what she is talking about or who she is talking to… and how inappropriate she is on so many levels with boundary issues…Another thing I noticed is that your sister wrote that you are “poisoning the family”. It seems that telling truths and breaking apart lies and dysfunctions seems to bring that out in family members …they dont see it as healthy , but rather as poison. If it shakes up the patterns then it strikes them as a very bad, threatening, almost harmful thing? You singlehandedly are able to poison the entire family? That struck me as something very obvious in showing how unhealthy that dynamic is between family members. I could go on and on about this very interesting subject! I really appreciate that you shared it Darlene. I think what you wrote to your sister …and the fact that you chose purposefully to not tell her some very bad things in hopes of NOT poisoning her , shows how caring and sensitive and mature you are. It shows that you wanted the best for all of them and you hoped they could have it even if you did werent given the same. Not many ppl could write back as honestly and kindly as you did to your sister, especially after going behind your back to your daughter and saying what she did. You are amazing! It touched me deeply to read the way you responded to her and how you are still trying to remain loving. Thank you for all that you do and for this site and for sharing such a very personal situation in your own life. Hugs and peace and joy to you!!


Hi Darlene,
Wow! What a great example of the false loyalty & cover-ups that run rampant in these dysfunctional families. When you said, “My sister has only one side of the story but she is sure she knows the whole story.” This IS what they do! My sister did the same thing to me recently, by telling me what my s-i-l told her, concerning an incident that happened between me, my s-i-l & husband. She was not there & believed what my s-i-l said. My sister & my mom both believed what she said, without checking with me to get my side of the story. I tried talking to my sister right after it happened & she cut me off & said, “I’m staying Neutral”, which isn’t true, since she believed my s-i-l. Now years go by & she tells me my s-i-l said that I wasn’t even there. Lie! I was there & have perfect recall of where I was, when the incident happened, which I pointed out to her. It’s so infuriating, when I’m not believed because I’m honest and I usually check out both sides of the story. I had a chance to look at both sides of a family feud, recently by speaking to certain family members separately, then I made my own decision without taking sides. My mom & sister know this, since I told them I spoke with my cousin. They tried damn hard to convince me otherwise, that my cousin is the bad guy. I have also, tried telling my mom my feelings & thoughts about my s-i-l & she gets mad at me for bringing it up! I’ve said more than once, nothing has been worked out or resolved from that incident and because my s-i-l doesn’t bring it up anymore, my mom believes it is resolved & we just need to let it go! My mom is a master at cover-up & doesn’t hold up a mirror to herself… My sister believes all the lies too. As a child, I’ve kept many family secrets out of fear, and because of that I’m not believed either, when I bring things up. I was damned if I did & damned if I didn’t tell. That is messed up! I’ve had NC with family recently & I’m feeling clearer every day on their dysfunction.
Great Post & I continue connecting the dots!


Sonia, I can appreciate what you went through! It is what I call a no win situation. A lie is told, then everyone thinks poorly of you, judges you, etc. It comes to light that what was said is false, then well, it doesnt matter any more, let by gones be bygones, why cant YOU let it go, why make a mountain out of a molehill, etc, etc.
When I was reading your post, I was feeling so grateful that I am no contact with either of my sicko sisters, and low contact with Nmom. I was so happy to read that you are no contact and feeling clearer every day. Good for you! I pray your life is filled with goodness and blessings, which you surely deserve!



Hi Caden
Great points as always. And yes, these manipulative people will leave out what ever they need to to make sure the focus is OFF them. And there is a name for that: It is called lying by omission.
~I had to really look at the truth about HOW I was convinced that I couldn’t start talking about what I had covered up FOR THEM before I was empowered to start talking. I too had been brainwashed that if I changed my mind about what really happened OR how I felt about it, then I was lying all along. But that is all part of the grooming process that started when we were too young to recognize anything amiss.
Thank you for your input! I would have caved even 2 years ago if this had happened but today I am very strong in what I know is the real truth. That is why she didn’t write me back!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Giftedwithbrokenness
Thank you for mentioning that! The first thing my oldest son (age 21) said was “don’t even answer, she should have the decency to call about something like that and if she wanted your side of it, she wouldn’t have sent an email”
Good for you in your response to your sister.

Your comments about your kids touched my heart. I have 2 children over 18 now and they are not in the fog at all about grand parents. The proof is in the pudding, and they know it because I taught them to recognize truth and the action of truth and I taught them to recognize LOVE vs. manipulation. My inlaws send cards and money to my kids but they don’t actually TALK to them or try to talk to them. That is a huge truth that speaks volumes to the kids! Hang in there; I know how hard this is!
Hugs, Darlene


Sonia and Diane!
Your comments are profound as well and I will respond to them as soon as I can; I just got called away from home while I was in the middle of catching up, and didn’t want you to think that I didn’t read them! Both of you said things I want to highlight! (as usual!)
Hugs, Darlene


Hey Darlene,
So your saying even after going NC they can still come back at you and say silly untruths? What really angers me is regarding your children who you are trying to protect, they will try to reach out and cause trouble with them! That makes me very angry, but I see the pattern. I also have a couple of step sisters who are now buttering up to my kids since I have put a stop to the abuse. They had no interest in my children before I stopped the Nrents from their abusive ways and called them out. I am being dragged through the mud as being crazy and making things up. No one is ever on the phone or in the room when my NM pulls her worst punches. I completely feel for you and wish the best. I also am sure you have raised your children right and they are a good judge of truth, and manipulation. You have the truth in this site. It is your truth but it helps us all. I guess this is just another example of what I am up against, and what I will continue to face as I go NC with my FOO. Certain people will come in and get involved in matters that are not their affair. Thinking of you Darlene. Peace!


Wow, this is a very informative and deep topic!
Here is my question, though. Since deciding to remain NC with my sisters and low contact with my mother, is it ok just to stop right there? I feel as though I have alot if inner work to do, but I no longer wish a relationship with any of the said people. Should I try and talk to them, or resolve things, when I truly believe it will do no good? Or is it ok to just stay NC? I feel like I cheated, and skipped a step! Since I am pretty new to this site……….



I’m thoroughly enjoying the conversation on this post! I’ve experienced SO much of the same situations! Certain relatives (it feels wrong to say ‘family’) would HANG ON to something I’d said in the past as PROOF that they were right and I was now wrong … (they wouldn’t be open to listening or understanding about how things I said when I was ‘in the fog’ don’t account for how I feel now – so I don’t waste my breath explaining it to them)… case in point:

Months ago I confronted my mother about her saying hateful things about me not being a good enough wife/mother … etc. (Yeah, YOU try feeding 2 kids under the age of 3 withOUT getting any food on the floor. Pretty sure that doesn’t make me a bad mom, since I didn’t vacuum after breakfast. Thanks.) She of course denied all (though I heard it with my own ears) – after standing up for myself on those points, I said – “This kind of thing keeps happening, and I’m really NOT happy with how our relationship is …”
She responded: “You YOURSELF said that I was ‘the PERFECT mom’ and that I ‘ALWAYS knew what to say to make you feel better’ that you ‘wouldn’t know WHAT you’d do without me’ That was what YOU said … I don’t see what HAPPENED to YOU that’s made our relationship so difficult. I don’t know what CHANGED you.”

Her message from these statements: You’re contradicting yourself. Therefore you’re lying about me not being nice, because CLEARLY only the NICE comments about me are the ones that ARE true. If you don’t like our relationship, it must be YOUR fault. Something is wrong with you, I’ve always been the better one in our relationship.

I didn’t deny saying those things, that she’d quoted me as saying. “I’m sure I did say that” I told her. (The problem is, I said those things when I was still in a ‘fog’ – in my early teens, no less – nearly 20 years ago) But, you bet she hung onto those words. Banking ’em for later use – as ‘proof’ of her ‘perfection’ … The incident in which I said those words? I was going through typical early teen drama with friends (feeling left out or something, I can’t even remember) And she kept reassuring me that ‘friends aren’t worth your time. The ONLY thing you NEED is your family. Me. Aren’t I a better friend than _______? …. Or … I guess you just think I’m OLD and NO fun, I guess I’m just not a good enough friend, I’m just a mom. I NEVER know what to say, I guess I just ALWAYS make things worse … I guess since your friends are SO important, you just don’t need ME anymore…” Jeesh chick, after you put a 14 year old through hearing all that crap, what the heck to you EXPECT that little girl to say? And then to use that as ‘evidence’ against any future problems I’d have with her … it’s maddening.

Now, as I work through the events of my past and how they’ve changed my view of myself … I am getting a clearer picture of their distortions thrown upon me in those twisted messages. Lies about me and my worth. I don’t get pushed around as easily as I once did. My not falling in line after a manipulative statement (as I once did so quickly) leaves them confused. And they immediately assume that SOMEone simply MUST have poisoned my mind against them.

It’s laughable, really … in a sad sort of way, their utter denial of any implications of imperfection on their part. (lost one of your puppets, sorry, one less N. supplier for ya) But, I’ve been firmly setting boundaries for my own sanity, and it’s really helping lessen those kind of incidences … and provides clarity in the distance and peaceful space it’s giving me.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, everyone! It really means a lot to me in this whole process of healing, to be able to see others making it through similar struggles!



I really appreciate everything everyone is sharing here. All of you are so amazing and inspiring.

Darlene, what strikes me most about your sister’s letter is how much she is trying to undermine and poke a hole in your relationship with your daughter. I suspect what stopped her from replying was not just the strength and truth of your reply but the clear solidarity, love and respect that you and your daughter share.

For a few years, in my mind I would call my dad a coward and then feel really terrible about it. I no longer feel terrible about it. I love my dad, I feel a connection with him and I know he feels the same, but he lacks courage. He lets my mom run everything. He actually knows The Truth. He knows he found in my mother someone who was like his father. He knows that how my mother treated me was wrong. He was proud of me for standing up to my mom in a letter I had written her a few years ago, telling me that it was like an unwritten letter from himself to his own father…. Except, when I took action, I lost all his encouragement. He started saying the opposite, speaking my mom’s lies, wanting me to listen to her, look at things from her point of view, etc. When I cut off ties and told him specifically that I could not handle his opinions on my relationship with my mom, that they were a trigger for me to want to cut myself, he proceeded to write me a long email all about my relationship with my mom, choosing to believe that I wouldn’t actually cut myself… A week later I wrote him asking for an apology, which he did give and it really was very genuine. He was very clearly torn up and beating himself up to the point where I really felt sorry for him, and yet I knew that if we went through the whole thing over again, chances are he would have done exactly the same thing… I have forgiven him but I need him to change… He was not a father to me. I think in a lot of ways, emotionally, he is still a boy… He was the emcee at my cousin’s wedding and he did a really great job (and I told him so). Everyone in my cousin’s family loves and adores him and it isn’t fake… it isn’t a show he puts on for others. It’s that he is capable of being something with them that because of our family dynamic he was not capable of being with me (or very rarely anyway). It pains me and can be hard especially with my cousins who I know can’t fathom where I’m coming from. For me, all I can say is, “I love Uncle P. Uncle P is awesome. But Uncle P isn’t my dad.”

Now, after reconnecting with the family and getting a “yes” from my parents to go to counselling, I have decided to meet with them for coffee when I am out that way in Sept… I have written them an email, which I have yet to send because I feel that I am perhaps too close and wanted to get my great aunt and uncle’s opinions first (as I have huge respect for them) because I really want to be fair and I’d rather not say things that might be better off not being said. This is the crux of it:

“I want to say that although I hope we are eventually able to forge a good relationship, I can’t make any promises about the future. I hope that you are not holding onto any particular vision of a relationship and can instead find peace/happiness with whatever we may have in the moment. For me, my focus is really about continuing on the path I’m on and trying to cultivate a life for myself. The truth is we may never move beyond an acquaintanceship and I hope that you may be able to find a way to be okay with that. I know, or at least sense, that the two of you are trying to present a united front to me, and I want you to know that I respect that. I have no wish to pit any member of the family against each other or to create any kind of divide. That said, to me you are still two separate individuals, as well as a couple, with whom I’ve also had two separate histories, and I want to be up front that when I am speaking about not knowing if we’ll ever be able to move beyond acquaintanceship, this is particularly true of my relationship with you, Mom. (This doesn’t mean the relationship can’t or won’t be good; I just don’t know if it can ever possibly be a “close” relationship.) I am telling you this not to be mean but so that you know. I do not wish to lead you to believe in more than what is. As I said, I can’t really say anything of the future, but this is where I am at now. In terms of my relationship with you, Dad, I do hope for more than an acquaintanceship but I am not holding onto it. I feel that whether that happens or not has more to do with you and what you are able to do than it does with me and what I am able to do and so if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

Anyway, my thought is that I will go see my therapist once before my trip, so that I feel prepared for this. It’s a pretty huge step, whatever happens (I haven’t had a relationship with them in 2 and 1/2 years). I am nervous but I think I am ready. I really do hope something good can come out of this in terms of a relationship with my dad (though I am not holding onto it; I try to keep my expectations as low as possible, so I can protect myself. I can handle being disappointed but I don’t want to be in a position of being devastated). It really does depend on him taking action, in recognizing me and making changes, in having the courage to love me not just from the sidelines.


Darlene ~ So loved this. Reminds me so much of what I went through with my mother!

You shared: “I didn’t tell them the truth about my father because I lived in the false belief that it was BETTER for them if I went along with the lies just like for so long I believed it was better for me too. They believe that I am the problem and I never stuck up for myself to prove anything different. I kept all my fathers dirty secrets and now I am the bad guy… AGAIN, but I know it would not have mattered if I had not kept those secrets. I would have been the bad guy anyway.” …

“She says that my father loved me the best he could?? How the hell does she know that? The best he could according to who?”

These things you said really resonated with me. I went along with the lies, keeping the truth of her abuse to me quiet for the sake of the family – but it finally got to the point where I thought, ‘Whose it good for? Not me. Not me!’ And like you, even with not telling or coming forth with the full truth, I was still the black sheep – always was because that’s how my mother painted me. And I did stick up for myself – but whenever I did, the abuse came in a much more severe manner.

My mother would use this with me, “I changed your diapers!” As if that somehow translates that she OWNS me?? I don’t think so. It doesn’t obligate me at all to her – she may have changed my diapers. She may have fed me and clothed me … but that’s to make everything look okay to everyone else when in reality she hated me – always did. She loathed me, humiliated, degraded, and shamed me … and many more. She’d tear me down and say things to me that would indicate to me that I was a total ignorant idiot. An aunt of mine who was around a lot when I was little, confided in me in an email, “Your mother never loved you.” I replied with, “Tell me something I didn’t know.”

My mother also used, “I did the best I could – we didn’t have parenting resources like they have now.” And I’m like, “Really?! REALLY?! They didn’t know how to love back then? Really?!” They didn’t stop and think that affection is important or that building a child up (instead of tearing them down) is important?? Give me a break!!!! Furthermore, with what resources they have now, not once did she try to change or reconcile … EVER. What a cop out!

My family too is blinded by her manipulative actions, her surreptitiousness, her slyness, her playing the ‘victim’ … I do hope they’re eyes are opened. Soon!


Thank you for this insight and sharing Darlene.

I had an unemotionally available Stepfather. Well, unavailable to me anyway. I was the “step kid” the proof that my mother had relationships prior to theirs, that she was capable of loving another man, I was in the way of his perfect reality. He would only ever do the bare minimum and any extras (the things I see my husband do everyday for our children) were heavy and burdensome. He was always tutting and sighing at having to spend his money or energies on the bastard child that had leaked into his atmosphere. At the age of eight he towered over me and boomed at me that I could pack my shit and get out. He meant it and at the age of 8 I began to wonder about the appropriate exit plan should I mess up and bicker with my Mom again.

My Mother became much like your half sister, a victim who wore his colours. She is always reinforcing the great fortune I had in her meeting and marrying him, and that he was the reason I am where I am today (oh he’s responsible for that alright, so is she). He stepped up by paying for things like braces, giving me a car, and buying me a wedding dress (that my mom wouldn’t help me choose because they had prior plans).

I have a half sister too and though she says she hates them and wants them out of her life, she still communicates and visits them. She is still very enmeshed. She is also still quite young.

I am not sure what exactly they are – my mom and stepdad (narcissistic, controlling, co-dep)? I do know both care nothing for or about me. As my mom stated on Facebook, I was a file in her life she was ready to close. I suspect I’ve long occupied that space as she explained to me that had she been able to get the money in time, she would have aborted me.


Tangie, your stepfather sounds a lot like my Dad. It didn’t matter that I was his real child, his perfect reality only included my older sister, not me. My mother even told me not even two months ago that my Dad was happier before I was born. In many more words that finally clicked, but that message nonetheless. Then again, it’s probably some grand manipulation on my Mum’s part. My experience with my Dad says that he’s a bit of a dick and my Mum exacerbated the issue to her benefit.

Thank you Darlene and everyone’s wonderful and insightful comments.


Alaina and Darlene, that was also what struck me as well about all of this, how your sister tried to damage your relationship with your daughter, and make you out to be a liar, or with-holder of information. She obvoiusly has no respect for you as a sister or as a mother. She is pushing the old party line of discredit Darlene, she has dared to step out of her assigned role. The attempt to communicate around you was really low. The strength of your healthy relationship with your daughter and her healthy strength, did thwart her plans.
I admire the way you didnt feed into it, get caught up in the game, just stated the facts.
It was pitiful, the scant examples your sister came up with, to prove what a caring father you had!



Hi Diane
When I say that I feel sorry for my sisters and brothers, I mean because I have such a fantastic life now that I live in the truth, a life that they could have too. I wish that I could wrap this up and give it to people (well I try with this website) but you can only have it if you want it. I understand the fears that people have because I had them too, the fear of actually looking at the truth about all this. But I also know the joy and freedom that came with facing them. My siblings have a choice about the way they want to live.
I sometimes wonder why people seldom wonder about “the other side of the story” but seem so willing to accept what ever they are told about it. Doesn’t my sister wonder why she has only ever heard 3 stories about me? I found it stunning when she broutht up the teacher story! (my father only tells three stories about my childhood) Doesn’t that sound weird?? Oh and on a side note, the stories are really about him. One of them he tells because it is so funny. The other two he tells because he can paint himself to be the hero.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sonia
(I just edited the first comment I wrote that said it was to you, but it was actually to Diane)
I suspect that the reason my sister didn’t answer either of the emails from myself or from Katie is because she was shocked that she DIDN’T actually know the story and she was so sure that Katie didn’t know the story that my sister thought she knew. (See how complicated this gets!) What I saw is that she jumped in, almost 3 months later and spoke from her confident position of beliving she knew what she was talking about.
Another point also, my family has always known me as the one who went along with everyone; I didn’t make waves before. People are really shocked when I stand up for the truth.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Melody
About (NC) “no contact” ~ there was never anything official with my fathers side of the family. I just stopped bothering to try and they stopped calling etc. and so did I. My daughter went to visit my sisters a couple of years ago and she tried to keep in touch with them. (that is a whole other blog post!) So my sister was addressing my daughter but slamming me at the same time. I can picture her feeling really smart that she was going to tell my daughter what a sneaky mother she has… LOL Guess it backfired on her! When a family lives in the truth and there are no secrets, it seems that it is harder for people to make trouble!
Hugs, Darlene

It is okay to do whatever you feel you need to do. Resolving takes willingness on BOTH sides. All I did was stop playing by their dysfunctional rules and stopped being the only one who tried to resolve. Relationship is a two way street.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kera
This is so typical of the way that the controlling person gets you off the subject of them! I call it a rabbit trail; a statement designed to get you off your train of thought and start examining yourself again. Thank you for sharing these examples!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Alaina,
Yes what my sister did was extremely undermining. That is what people do when they can’t face the truth themselves. They garner support for their side in whatever way they can because they think that majority rules. If the majority agrees then that is the proof of the truth. But in reality that is NOT the way the truth works. I am willing to stand alone with my truth because I am happy, healthy and whole! I live in freedom. I have a wonderful life and family. And I don’t miss anything about the dysfunction I came from!
Your plan sounds well thought out Alaina. It IS a huge step! Relationship does take both sides. It is not all on one person and the health of the relationship rests on the willingness of BOTH parties. I too tried to articulate clearly to both my parents what I was no longer willing to put up with. My mother decided to shut the door on me and my father pretended that he was wounded and rejected by me. The message that I got is the same message that I always got. I am not worth it. And I can’t accept that anymore because I am worth it.
I too was very scared of the outcome but I had to stop accepting the insane devaluing treatment that I had been accepting by not drawing any boundary in order to overcome, redefine myself and step into the sunlight of healthy living!
Thank you so much for your thoughts!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Rizae
OH your comments have given me an idea for another blog post; Everyone painted me as the black sheep. I am going to write a post about HOW that happened as I see it today.
You know it’s funny, I had heard that “I changed your diapers” thing from my father many times and he said it in such a joking way that I didn’t realize it was a statement loaded with baggage. It sounds like my sister was using it in a very REAL sense like it meant something or carried some weight. Like Caden said, to NOT change a childs diapers is neglect and would be punishable by law. I really wanted to tell my sister that I changed HER diapers too because if she wants to live by those rules, then she should respect me without question as well! NO wonder kids scream at their parents “I didn’t ask to be born”.
And yes, as you say, this has nothing to do with the availability of parenting resources! uggg.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Tangie
Being told at eight years old that you could “get out” is devastating; very brutal and it is very much what I am talking about in this website. Not all are told it in words but we learn by words and actions that our survival depends on THEM. And that is how we learn to comply. It is a survival thing! The difficulty is in changeing that to what is true for today. I had to learn that I could survive without them and that took a while because I had to undo the flase teachings that they planted in me (belief system) and change it back to the actual truth. It doesn’t matter “what they are” ~ all that matters is that you acknowledge the damage so you can heal from it.
Thank you for sharing such a powerful example.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, It takes a lot of courage to stand up to abusers and most people don’t have it. For me it was the battle to save my child that gave me the courage to stand up to my family and face the truth about my past and how it still ruled my present. It seems we’re on the same wave! I wrote about the courage required to stand up to familial abuse, yesterday. The cycle of abuse can only be broken by one courageous person at a time. Healing can’t be forced on anyone it has to be chosen by each individual. I’m very blessed to have found you to encourage my courage!lol!There’s a lot of power here. It’s amazing what can happen when victims are given a voice.



Hi Pam
Yes it does take courage and it took me validating my equal rights to all other people. I wanted to recover from depression for the sake of my kids, but when I caught the flame of hope for healing this way, I wanted it for me. I never started with facing the truth about my family, that is for sure. when I first looked at the concept of the roots of depression I started to face the truth about abuse outside of my family first. I even recognized my father in law as an abuser before I saw my mother or father. (In fact my father was one of the very last people that I realized this about)
And yes, healing has to be chosen by each individual! It is totally amazing what can happen when “victims” are given a voice! and I love your encouragement too!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
My sister was trying to prove I was wrong about my s-i-l, by pointing out a lie my s-i-l told her about me “not being there.” So basically, I don’t know anything because I wasn’t there. That was the first time I heard that one, since the falling out 5 years ago!..My sister said it with confidence, like it was the whole truth & did not get my side of the story ever. Like I said, I tried to tell her that my s-i-l was wrong afterwards, but she remained “NEUTRAL”..Another Lie! She picked a side by not listening to what I had to say. My family has been so used to me going along too & not standing up. However, I’ve maintained a strong stance with this incident & it shows them I’m not playing by their rules! Sister even told me to come over when my s-i-l was there & proceeded to tell me to “not judge” & let it go”. This message says, I’m the bad person & I have to change. I’m expected to be the bigger/better person, even when lies are being said about me & my husband! That is so Dysfunctional! Like you said to Janie, “Resolution involves BOTH SIDES”. My family does not look at Both Sides, it’s One-sided- Their side- your either in or your out! I choose to remain Out of the Fog!


The part I want to focus on since the rest of the comments have covered so many excellent parts is the purpose of the email – the summary execution of judgment by proxy in a dysfunctional family system. The whole purpose of the email was to execute daughters & granddaughter while exonerating the poor victim of one particularly miscreant daughter. But, what I most object to here that has not been covered enough in the article or discussion is who granted the email-er the right to try to turn Katie against her mother? Who routinely takes screen shots to use later for emotional blackmail? This was obviously not a spur of the moment need to resolve anything but rather a planned & well discussed behind the scenes strategy. Why the offensive wording if this was to enlighten a younger relative?

You get the point, I think. This was a presumptive person who had wanted to hurt both recipients, but esp. the sister, while scoring brownie points for father (the will might reflect the heroism hmm?) & establish hierarchy in the line of dutiful/good daughterhood. Also note this presumptive person must have been informed, egged on, whined to, ranted to, bitched to, manipulated into the contact even though the desire for her own settling of scores is also evident.

Sad. Tragic. Sick. Abusive. Dysfunctional. Heartbreaking. BUT, there is the beautiful of the wounded emerging from broken that is glorious & inspiring. Thank you.


Thanks for your validation! It’s no longer my responsibility to Hold Onto or Fix my Dysfunctional Family! I’ve gone NC!!! My kids are a little older now, & my teenage son sees the dysfunction. He points out the weird things they say & do. Especially, my sister when she is drinking & that’s most of the time. My family are drinkers just another thing we don’t have in common. I’ll have a drink socially at a party or with friends but they drink regularly. It’s more noticeable in the summer season because they sit out by the pool and drink. Just another way they can stay in denial. Anyway, I value the Truth & I’m teaching my kids to see the manipulation & lies. I’m bringing to light bits & pieces of family situations that have been uncomfortable for me & my son does understand & validates what I’m saying. I’m not bad mouthing or lying, I’m just sharing the truth of family behavior!


Darlene, thanks. You’re right, that is lying by omission. My mother was a compulsive liar–she constantly shaped the truth to fit her mood and her ends, and she taught my sister well. They both believed that their feelings were worth more than mine–that they could emotionally abuse me for decades because I was ‘younger’ and thus less-than in their eyes. And then suddenly they were the victims when I stood up for myself and sent them letters denouncing the way they treated me. As if a few pages of writing could dwarf the thousands of times they had put me down without a second thought.

But my sister went on at length to other people about how my letter had made her cry–did anyone care how she had gone out of her way to make me feel worthless, to destroy any self-esteem or confidence I was trying to build up inside myself? No, all that mattered is that she was momentarily inconvenienced by my truth, which she went out of her way to avenge through many malicious and petty acts. I knew she would do that, and one of the reasons I cut her out is because she was such an ugly person deep down inside.

Janie, Personally I wish I had ‘skipped a step’ many years ago and not spent so much time being retraumatized and emotionally abused by my sister while I tried to work things out. But there is no twelve-step program here, so please don’t feel obligated to have a relationship with anyone you don’t want to. It’s perfectly fine to just cut them out without a confrontation or offer of reconciliation.


Welcome to emerging from broken!
I love your comments. You make very good points! I read your comments outloud to Katie and she liked them too and has giving me permission to publish HER response to her aunt.
Thank you for your highlights ~
Hugs, Darlene

P.S. I will be publishing Katies response in a comment all on it’s own.
Hugs, Darlene


Here is the response that Katie sent to her aunt re; the email in this blog post:

Hello Aunty ….., I don’t check my e-mail so sorry I didn’t get this sooner.

I would like to start by saying that I refuse to engage in a fight with a grownwoman who doesn’t even know me and only ever talks to me to give me shit for things I say on my own personal facebook.

I know exactly why my grandfather hasn’t visited me. I know that my mother said she didn’t want him to come, and I know why, do you?? Aside from that, hedidn’t want to come to my graduation; he wanted to coordinate it with his doctor’sappointments so he could make the smallest effort possible at such a celebratory time for me. Added to that, Mom had to remind him T. also graduated.

From that comment you took a screen shot of, I was referring to everyone out east. Except for one time, the only time Grandpa has come here is when Mom paid for it.

I know everything my mom has said about her father, and I have learned from my own personal experience how he acts. Grandpa doesn’t want to have arelationship with anyone in this family, he just wants to tell us all about his knee injury and his golf games and tell the same stories over and over. I don’t need to explain my relationship with my grandparents to someone who doesn’t know me, so sorry he’s your dad but he doesn’t act like the grandpa I deserve to have.

How dare you judge my mothers parenting techniques, like you know what goes on here. I’m not expecting anyone to be perfect, I’m expecting him or her to want an equal relationship with me.

Maybe next time you should not e-mail me 2 months later. Glad to see that you choose to spend your spare time being an asshat to an 18-year old girl.

And on a more personal note, I don’t talk to grandpa anymore because he thought it was, and still continues to think, that it is appropriate to joke about T’s near death accident.

For the sake of clarity “T.” is our eldest son (Katie’s brother) who some of the older members will remember that at this time last year he crashed his motorcycle into a deer and was badly injured. My father did phone, but only after he joked about it. He saw it on FB and before he even checked with anyone he assumed it was not that bad and started making jokes. Our son was laid up for almost 6 weeks after that accident and none of my siblings or other family called or cared about any of it.


I LOVE your comment about saying “And then suddenly they were the victims when I stood up for myself and sent them letters denouncing the way they treated me. As if a few pages of writing could dwarf the thousands of times they had put me down without a second thought.” That is so so true! and the rest is exactly how it goes too.
I really appreciate your voice here.

I wrote a blog post about how this whole thing started with me standing up to my family. This is the story of the final straw and my decision to finally stand my ground.
Here is the link:


To giftedwithbrokeness post 2
I have thought the same thing. Why did they have me. Why did
they keep me if they were so disappointed in me? It was always
about keeping up appearances. I see all of that now and it boggles
the mind. Unfeeling, uncaring and emotionally unavailable. For me
it was my mother. My father was the abusive angry narcissist.
My emotionally unavailable mother has hurt me much more. She
feels justified in this because I was unlovable. When I recently
pushed her into frank conversation she blamed me! Talk about passive
agressive. I didnt deserve affection because I was unlovable?
Bad parents.


The Black Sheep topic would certainly resonate with me!


“Being told at eight years old that you could “get out” is devastating; very brutal and it is very much what I am talking about in this website. Not all are told it in words but we learn by words and actions that our survival depends on THEM. ”

This. My mother used to tell me I should be grateful I have a roof over my head. I always emotionally perceived this as an implicit threat. Even death threat. Like the things I needed to survive where not a given. I could be thrown out.

They continue these threat even today. My brothers son, 4 years old, was told out in a park that if he doesn’t behave, they were going to leave him there. Now he doesn’t understand that that would be illegal and also considered grossly immoral for his parents to do that, to abandon a 4-year old. Suddenly he disappears and we look everywhere for him, and find out he’s all scared and on the parking lot by the car, by himself. He had turned around while playing, couldn’t see his parents and thought that they were leaving him there, so he had ran to the car. Just heartbreaking.


It’s amazing how our family dynamics are so similar. In my family, it’s my brother telling me that I’m “hurting mother”. No love or consideration for me, for what I have had to survive.


Darlene, Your daughter sounds very mature and confident in herself. I’m proud of her and I don’t even know her so, you must be popping the buttons off of your blouse!lol! It makes me really sad that your family and your dad were so uncaring when your son had his accident. I know that kind of disregard well. I’ve decided with my family that if it doesn’t effect them directly then to them, it isn’t even quite real. Their brains are in backwards and they’ve objectified others to the point of losing all empathy.




Your daughter is awesome! And that is no doubt a testament to you and all the work you have done, as well. It is so inspiring to see the cycle broken. I, like many, am of the afraid-to-ever-have-children camp but just reading your daughter’s words and knowing your history that you share here on this website, it is truly, truly profound… the change and how it ripples down and out into the world… unbelievable! Thank you for sharing and thanks to your daughter as well. Amazing!

(Like Pam, I was also proud of her and I don’t even know her… proud and invigorated).

Thank you also for your support and encouragement. My great aunt and uncle were of the opinion that I hold back on my email, that it might be counterproductive to send it at this point, and I’ve come to think that they are probably right. I realized that I’m wanting to try to control too much here, in terms of their reaction to me, their feelings, their wants, etc., and that I can’t really do that, anyway. All I can really control are my own reactions and to know in myself my own boundaries, feelings, wants, needs—to centre myself so I can be as prepared as I can be for whatever happens. At this point, they are right that it isn’t necessary to give any qualifiers… just, I’m hoping for a future relationship with my parents and I want to see them. I realized that I was wanting to say more because I was afraid and I didn’t want to sit with that and just deal with the feeling. I didn’t want to admit it to myself because I don’t like thinking “I’m 30 years old and I’m scared of my mother.” I hate being seen as a wimp (I’m a small person and have had much experience being picked on) so I hate admitting to myself when I’m scared. But then I thought, Of course I’m scared. That’s totally legitimate. My relationship with my mother broke me down; I was a shell of a human being. I really had no identity of my own in the world and no voice. There’s reason to have fear. I’m no wimp. And then I thought about all the things I have accomplished in the last couple years alone and how I am able to spot her/their dysfunction now. Growing up with them was like the frog in the proverbial boiling water—a very gradual process; I didn’t know what was happening, the abuse was not obvious… But I do know that I’m onto it now. I can recognize this stuff. I can protect myself and take care of myself… It’s okay to be scared, but I also know that I can do this. So, yeah, I’m feeling calmer. And I still have a month till I meet with them, so that’s good… Anyway, thank you so much again.


Hi Karen
Your comment reminded me about being told that I was “hard to love”. Being told things like this and what you shared are part of the way that they force us to try harder. My mother went on and on about how much she wanted a daughter and yet still communicated the message that children were a huge burden!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Miralina
Something I realized in working with people and through the comments on this blog is that it is a though there is a script that these controlling parents follow. The similarities are huge! Being told that you should be grateful for having a roof over your head is a loaded statement too. Of course you would precieve it as a threat. THEY decided to bring a baby into the world and they expect the baby to fill a void in them. It just doesn’t work that way!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam
Yes I am a proud mama for many reasons! Katie told me that she didn’t want me to publish her letter originally because she was afraid of the judgement of my readers; that people would say “what a disrespectful kid” talking to her aunt that way. In the end she had one condition if I was going to publish her letter; it was that I had to leave the word “asshat” in it. LOL
When T. (short for T.J.) had his accident last year I was devastated by the lack of response. I was devastated for HIM. He still had a relationship with many of the people who didn’t bother with him which felt like a punishement to me and a “consequence for my boundaries” but they don’t realize that my children are learning what love is not through the actions of these punishing controlling manipulating “family”.
Thank you Pam for your acknowledgement to Katie.
Hugs, Darlene

Thanks for sharing the link! I am going to finish reading it later today.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Alaina
Thank you! I will pass both yours and Pams comments on to Katie!
I love what you have written here about giving yourself permission to feel what you feel. Excellent!! Of course you are scared. I found that resisting the truth held me back in whatever way I resisted it, including resisting the truth about my feelings and putting myself down for them so that I would continue to deny them.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Miralina … #34 – I got that too – that I’m hurting my mother as if how she hurt me is irrelevant. I get it though – they can’t see what she did to me. And its not only that they can’t see – they don’t WANT to see. Because if they acknowledge it they’ll have to make choices and they don’t want to do that for fear of disturbing the illusion that all is well.

And what Darlene wrote to you in #38 – I got that too which communicated to me … ‘I will abuse you and treat you however I want because I give you a house to live in with me.’ My mother always expected me to make her happy, to somehow fill the void in her – no one should ever put that on any human being, especially one’s children. It is not, nor was it ever, my duty to fulfill her.


Hi Darlene,
I agree, What You Resist, will Persist! in response to comment #40… Also, Love the e-mail your daughter sent, it speaks volumes about the loving relationship you two have. She backs you up & is not swayed by your family’s manipulative tactics. Hoping my Son will be able to do that, if & when confronted by my controlling family.


My kids are all pretty vocal about calling it like it is and seeing through the b.s. that both sides (my husbands side and my side) of our families use. I used to think that I told them too much, but I kept reminding myself that Jim and I never exagarated the truth; we never had a manipulative motive in mind when we decided to let our kids SEE that truth and stopped covering up the family dysfunction as we had been trained and groomed to do. Our adult siblings however are caught in that sticky web our parents created. I used to be really scared that the family members who did so much damage to my husband and I would be able to sway our kids against us. I just kept telling myself that they could make their own decisions BASED on the truth. And now they do and because I didn’t cover up the b.s. my kids have a whole picture of that truth. This has been a huge part of the process for my husband and I and our family.
Hugs, Darlene

P.S. Katie is following along and enjoying the supportive responses to her about her response! It is empowering for her to hear from others besides ME!


My grandmother, who I lived with for eight years and was extremely abusive to me, died this year. Death affects everyone differently. I said everything I needed to say to her years ago and I no longer wanted any contact with her. She devastated my childhood and it still affects me today. When she died though, the rest of the family who barely spoke to her over the years and all live in different states, decided to get together in her memory. The conversations I had with family at the time of her death were so bizarre to me, it was revisionist history at it’s finest. Suddenly they were all sad and mourning a woman who had abused them all and they had chosen not to be apart of her life over the past years because of her toxic behavior. At first it made me angry that people wanted to rewrite history, but I decided to write an email to my uncle instead.
This is that email:
I was thinking about our conversation while I was making dinner this evening and felt that I need to express this to you.
When you first called me about grandma you had commented that you thought I lived with her for a little while and would want to know what was going on. To be clear, I lived with her for 8 years of my childhood. She destroyed my life. She was absolutely horrible to me. When I started counseling as a teen, the counselor said she should be prosecuted for abuse and neglect and should never be allowed around children again for the way that she treated me. I am still at almost 40 years old trying to repair the psychological damage she did to me. I am choosing not to come to the memorial because I have absolutely nothing positive to say or remember about her and it causes me pain to listen to others who miss her and choose to remember her differently. I just can’t do it and won’t be attending mostly out of self preservation but also respect for the rest of you who would like to remember her differently. Thank you for inviting me anyway.

His response(after acting as though he didn’t fully remember me living with her):

Believe me I do remember the time you spent at my parents house. Even though I was just a kid myself I knew that you living there was not a good thing. Nearly every time I visited I witnessed her verbally abusing you. I talked to her several times about how mean and nasty she could be but I could never get her to see it. More than once she told me it was none of my business since I no longer lived there. I am sorry you had to experience all that you did. Your decision to not attend is easy to understand, I appreciate your honesty. Please keep in touch.

I share this because it is a milestone for me. I had been conditioned to continue to participate in family events out of obligation even though I was seething inside with hatred for my abusers and detested the charade. I was conditioned to pretend as if nothing had happened. In this case, I stood my ground even in the face of the expectation to show up out of respect when someone had passed. Here is what is different for me in this situation…I have no guilt, no regret. I took care of me in this situation.
This is huge progress for me.
I’m not sure if you can get anything out of that, but it is what came up for me when reading the email exchange.
Thanks 🙂



Thanks for sharing that! I love your email filled with self validation and truth and it is great to see that he didn’t deny it or reprimand you for stating your truth but he also validated it. I get LOTS out of that! I bet your email changed the dynamic of that family “memorial” too.

Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene. I was happy to see that he validated my experience as well. He is a good person who was also a victim of her violence and is working through it in his own time. Hopefully my absence made a little crack in the denial where a seed of truth could be planted.
Hugs back, JM


Just because they are ” family” doesn’t mean you have to love them or be obligated to them. Reading your article Darlene I reflected that I was an only child of parents who stayed married. I was the only child to be abused as I was the only one they had, which is, of course, a double edged sword…But it also means that I have no one to dispute the facts of my childhood with, no one to validate my experience. I do have living relatives, but no-one close… I am as alone now, in terms of my birth family, as I was as a kid… But now I am married; I have a circle of friends – my family of choice, and I have found good therapists (and the odd more difficult one). I am in a different place now – totally different to the place I have inhabited for the better part of 50yrs.. I do not go to funerals or other family get togethers now. The last one I went to, about 3 yrs ago, was for “long lost cousins” – about 25 of us there, some of whom I had not seen since I was a toddler. I was a fish out of water – only one person “knew” me, although they knew my mother, it counted for nothing. They all avoided my mother, and my mother avoided them…
If anything it confirms my belief that SOMEONE in the family knew what was going on in my home, but chose to avoid confrontation and hope that someone else would take responsibility for my welfare.


“I never told my sisters about my childhood because I thought it would be unfair TO THEM. I didn’t tell them the truth about my father because I lived in the false belief that it was BETTER for them if I went along with the lies just like for so long I believed it was better for me too. They believe that I am the problem and I never stuck up for myself to prove anything different. I kept all my fathers dirty secrets and now I am the bad guy… AGAIN, but I know it would not have mattered if I had not kept those secrets. I would have been the bad guy anyway.”

Isn’t that the “beauty” or the unavoidable truth of the situation? Where lies rule, toxicity reigns, power “wins” someone must be the bad guy. And it won’t be the real bad guy!! Mobbing occurs to the vulnerable.


Yes, I agree with you about not covering up family dysfunction. It’s taken me this long to face the Truth myself & I was long suffering. I just told my son a lie my sister told. He SEES the wackiness & dysfunction and asking more questions. He was surprised to know my parents do not call me regularly & that I went NC with my them for 2 months, when I started seeing the TRUTH in counseling.
Your experiences with your children is very helpful to me to know how to go about teaching my kids the TRUTH. Thanks so Much!
Even though I’ve been struggling with my emotions, I continue to do the work for Myself & my family. My family is core not my FOO.
With Gratitude,


P.s. I like how you said, “They can make their own decisions based on the Truth.”


I just wanted to thank you for posting this story. I still live in the midst of dysfunction. And as much as I’d like to say “I’m clean and free of it all now”, I am not. I take care of my parents. I live with them as do my adult children. Life is awful. I know that this is my decision. I am not happy about it but I do it because I have my reasons for doing it. Immersed in the filth I attempt to puzzle out what happened and why I am not a normal human being by society’s rule.
That said, this blog from time to time really helps me to pinpoint my behaviors current and past that have tripped me up and helped me deal with the past. It helps to identify things I think and feel and helps me question the one parent who I thought was God embodied and the other parent the devil and bring them down to Earth humanize them. The shared burden of neglect, abuse and love withheld along with the other participating members (many of them incased in their own cocoons or denial,) and their support of the fantasy of our “perfect family”. This particular entry enlightened for me the fact that even the people who you would think know better really do not. And that we tell ourselves and others versions of the truth to appease them, appease ourselves and appease the abuser for all sorts of reasons. It is not a perfect road we travel when we seek to extricate ourselves from the lies and heal from the past. And sometimes it loops back on itself and can make us look like we are being duplicitous. The truth is we need to be easy on ourselves and know that others cannot be the ones that mend our psyches.


Hi Libby
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your exp. and your victory on this!
Hugs, Darlene

Kate, yes, and dysfunctional families seem to think that ‘the majority in agreement’ wins… but not in my world! In this world the truth wins and ‘they’ don’t have to believe it.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sonia
I am finding that the older my kids get the more comfortable that I feel to include them in to some of the things I write in my blog. (I never tell a story about them without their permission) It was a huge and difficult decision that my husband and I made when we told them some of the truth about grandparents etc. but when I look back now I wonder why it was so dang hard. For example my sister in law treated me like dirt and I covered for her, but she had done it in front of my KIDS! It was no surprise to them when I said (publically in front of the kids) that I had had enough and I didn’t want to be around her anymore. She hid her nasty ways of talking to me from my husband, yes, but she didn’t hide it from the kids! (not so smart hey??)
Hugs, Darlene


p.s. SMD
yes they CAN make their own decisions based on the truth as long as we let them see it for themselves. 🙂

Hi Bipolar Bear
Well said!
Hugs, Darlene


I have not read every comment yet, but I’ve read the content of the post and jumped to the one by Katie. This is a person who is wise beyond her years and knows the value of GENUINE relationships. Plus she can voice her opinion intelligently. Something good within the family drama and dysfunction.


Hi Darlene,

Oh, goodness, what a topic….and one that so many here can relate to so well. To say that my father was (and still is) “emotionally unavailable” is quite frankly the understatement of my life. I could write chapters and chapters on the man. When I think about what he squandered away in what could have been a wonderful father/son relationship, it just boils my blood to bursting, even now when he is advanced in years and most likely only has a few years left. Here I am, 50+, and when I think about I still rage inside and want to just yell at him saying “What the F was so wrong with me that you couldn’t just love me?!?!?! Tell me!!!!” I know I’ll never have a confrontation with him about it because I do KNOW that I would be shaking to pieces and would likely just pass out from the emotional overload of it all.

But there are times that I want to tell him “I was sexually abused by two creeps as a child and it’s directly your fault. YOUR F’ING FAULT!! I was horrified that you would find out. Because of the void you created between us, I became that weak, compliant child that every predator looks for. IT’S YOUR F’ING FAULT, OLD MAN!! YYYOOOUUU CAUSED THIS!!!!”

Several years of therapy brought me a long ways forward in dealing with some things, but my father is not one of them.

I have children of my own now (late teens, early 20s), and they know what my parents are like. I didn’t have to tell them, they picked it up entirely on their own. But I have told them some as well when I felt that they were old enough to handle it. And they weren’t surprised.

Sorry so much of this is just ranting, but he’s still really a hot button for me. Thanks, Darlene, for giving me the space to upchuck it all.



I so know where you are coming from. I, too, became a “weak compliant child” as a result of my upbringing, and I too, suffered sexual abuse outside the family, because I was raised to act like a victim. My mother was a narcissist and my father was the spineless enabler who “orbited” around her. Even if my mother had comitted cold-blooded murder in front of his very eyes, he would have defended her to the death. But he never, ever defended me. I was raised to believe that I would always come second best, that my hopes and dreams and desires had to be sacrificed to meet the needs of others. That any happiness or good fortune that came my way would hurt or deprive someone else of something. My father was just as much an abuser as my mom, albeit in a different way. He allowed my raving nut-job of a mother to do her worst, and he stood there and championed her, the pathetic bastard. And do you know why? He didnt want to face the fact that he had made a poor choice of partner. So, to make her look good, he had to make everyone else look bad. He lived in a world of denial. He had to. Either that or admit that he had married a lunatic who was emotionally and verbally abusing a child. HIS child! Dad was distant and unapproachable. I could never have gone to him with a problem, never have confided in him. I once went to him, in tears because my beloved hamster had died, (I was about 11 at the time), and was told to “Stop whingeing and be grateful that your mother and I put up with you, even though you have been such a disappointment to us”. On another occasion, he shouted “I dont care about your problems, I just dont want your mother upset”. Fantastic isnt it? He made me feel worthless and invalidated, a nuisance who inconvenienced him. He didnt want a child, he wanted a well behaved animal who sat silently in a corner wating for a biscuit and a pat on the head. Why was I so unimportant to my father? He would become enraged at any sign of me showing emotion or voicing an opinion. Looking back, I can see that I was his scapegoat. He was full of suppressed anger and frustration toward my mother but didnt dare stand up to her. Instead he took it out on me because I couldnt fight back. He has been dead for many years now, but I still feel pain in my heart when I see daughters who are close to their dads. I never experienced that. And of course, I grew up to attract male partners who were at best, severely emotionally unavailable and at worst, narcissists, addicts and pathological liars, although I do realise that this was also linked to my mothers personality disorder. Cheers Papa! Thanks for nothing! Thank God I no longer blame myself for this mans inadequacies. As far as Im concerned, he was the loser, not me.
Love Sylvia x


Hi again!
Can I just add how horrified I am to read Tangies post #14 about the threats to throw her out at 8 yrs old, and also the story of Miralinas 4 yr old nephew? How DARE people do this to little kids? Every childs biggest fear is of being seperated from their parents. Being threatened with that very thing, is one of the reasons why we grow up feeling so insecure. At the age of 50, I have only recently begun dealing with the abandonment fears which have dogged me all my life. Between the ages of 2 and 5 I spent a lot of time in hospital. That was back in the days when parents werent allowed to stay with their kids, and I used to get very distressed when my folks left after visiting hours. For years after I recovered and left hospital , whenever I displeased them,(which didnt take a lot), I was told that they “were going to take me back to that hospital and leave me there”. Being in hospital had been traumatic enough, for Gods sake, without threats of being sent back. What fantastic parenting. Its almost laughable, but not quite.
Love Sylvia x


Wow! What an important post, Darlene. I really needed to read this today. My dad has always been emotionally unavailable. He was emotionally abused by his own dad, which is an explanation, though not really an excuse. He is still completely self centered in his old age, and a real pain to deal with, honestly.

I LOVED Katie’s response to her aunt. We had circumstances that required me to *uninvite* my sister to my daughter’s graduation, so my heart goes out to all of you. Katie, I am so impressed with your intelligence and clarity. You articulated exactly what you saw, and I bet you stunned your aunt. She asked for that. You are a smart and strong young woman, and the world needs a lot more women like you! Your aunt disrespected your mom and you, and I am so happy that you let her have it. No judgement here, girl!! I joing the chorus of commenters who are proud of you.

Darlene, this clarity was so timely, as I have been waffling a bit about my situation with my own dad and my very manipulative, controlling sister. We are not no contact, but it’s very low contact at this point. This was a great reminder not to reopen such a painful mess. Your strength is such a huge help to so many of us. Thank you for sharing so honestly, and thank you, Katie, for sharing your email. Huge hugs to both of you, and to T.J. too. I hope he’s doing a lot better!


Hi Everyone!!

I have enjoyed reading all the posts and taken away such good information. I have been a little confused lately. It could be due to jumping back into a full work schedule at a very stressful job, and quite suddenly. The upside is, I’ve barely had time (if at all) to even think of mother and her a-hole husband.

Katie, If you’re reading this, KUDOS to you!! It warms my heart to read of a family member who sees the truth and defends the oppressed (or once oppressed). Good for you!! And, good for your mama!! :o)

I got an email from my mother’s counselor on thursday just before I was heading out the door for work. It hovered in my mind the whole day like a UFO infected with some disease. I even took a little time out of the busyness of work to go off alone and cry for a little bit. I don’t know why it struck me. I guess because it’s yet another person saying I’m a less than. That it’s okay or somehow justified to speak to me any sort of way because I


Wow…. I did it again… I posted without my permission. 🙂

….. because I am younger or worse yet, because I am vulnerable. BUT, I did respond to her. And, vulnerable wasn’t the name of the game anymore. She did exactly what my mother has done for years. From that came a vein of strength to tell her what was on my mind.

Her email was gushing with fluff; a nice attempt to cover the crux of the message, which was judgmental, and rude. Here are her main points without the sugary disguise…
*I am angry, resentful, prideful, and in unforgiveness.
*It is not my mother’s responsibility to live up to my condition. She only has to live up to Christ’s condition, and that isn’t for me to judge.
*I am under the grasp of satan, and I’m in danger.
*Intentions don’t matter – I am ordered to forgive and there is no wiggle room out of it according to the bible.
*That I’m stuck in a painful youthful place, and haven’t reached the maturity of forgiveness.
*Forgiveness has little, if anything, to do with the offender. It has more to do with the condition of our hearts.
*My last email to my mother was angry, resentful, and dangerous
*I can’t say I love Jesus if I choose not to follow him
*I need to give up my pride that gives lip service to holding my mother accountable
*She is aware my mom asked for forgiveness and she is not responsible to jump through the hoops I have set forth.
*Holding onto pain is a controlling and deceptive behavior dictated by satan
*To forgive we have to truly die to ourselves and live in love rather than our woundedness and belief that stays I’m entitled due to what the offender has done or continues to do.
*I am blaming “others” for my anger, resentment, and unforgiveness.

Some of this is verbatim, some a short version. I did respond after mind boggling rumination over what I needed to say.

My response, in short form, without any fluff was this ~ the bible states that it is TRUTH that sets us free. Nowhere will you find scripture that says forgiveness sets us free, nor will you find a timeline on the command to forgive. I am in the process of healing and I’ve found great freedom in the truth. For you to say I am angry, resentful, prideful and in unforgiveness puts you in the same dangerous place you say I’m in. (because apparently I’m in danger for holding my mom accountable for lying, and satan has a hold on me). Are you saying you can SEE my heart?? Are you saying YOU know my heart better than I do myself?? Labeling says so much more about the person spewing it than it does about the person receiving it. You claim to know my heart better than I do myself, and that is the epitome of pride. With all due respect, you have not helped my mother and you continue to be snowed by her as she cries on your shoulder and you feed her. You are saying I need to forgive based on YOUR timeline, not God’s. That puts you in a dangerous place as you “play” God. I am in a process and I believe God will bring me full circle. I regret that you have it backwards. I believe forgiveness comes as a result of knowing the truth and going through the processing of it. I regret that you are counseling people, yet you oppose processing of any pain or abuse, because this is what has brought me healing and strength.

That’s a short version of the points I made. I didn’t add fluff and I pointed out that because I didn’t does not make me angry.

She replied by saying she didn’t want to get into a battle with me, she was only concerned with me forgiving my mother for ME, not for my mother!! Bahahahaha!! AND, that she would never try to hurt, offend, or worst of all judge. With that I said quote, “Okay, because calling me angry, resentful, prideful, and in unforgiveness really sounded like you were judging”. Hahahaha!! I am so proud of myself…. please forgive my own pat on the back, but, she was my mother in sheeps clothing. I told her my mother had done this to me for years also.

Anyhow, it ended with her saying she didn’t want to battle. I know exactly why too. Because I was right on every point I made and she doesn’t have anything left to pull out of her bag of tricks. She is my mother’s twin!! YUCK!!

Peace and hope,


I was thrilled to read your response! I am so proud of you too!! You are right on with your thoughts and comments; yay for calling her on it.
I was just talking yesterday with a pastor who works in the area of exposing spiritual abuse and preaches about how the bible is twisted to suit the will of people. He is going to write a guest post for EFB about the subject of “forgiveness” and how it is misused. When I read your comments I thought WOW, this is great timing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sylvia M.
Welcome to EFB!
I like how you say “My dad has always been emotionally unavailable. He was emotionally abused by his own dad, which is an explanation, though not really an excuse.” I had to remind myself constantly that trying to understand the ones that caused the damage minamizes the damage. And it is only by facing the damage caused, that I was able to heal from it.
~Katie is loving all the kudos and supportive comments!
~I am happy to say that TJ has made a full recovery over this past year.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Lynn
Katie loved your comment! Thank you for your encouragement!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Eddie
I don’t think that any of what you said was ranting. I think it is what we need to do; tell it like it is, validate the damage and the pain in order to move forward. I had to get angry and I had to get disgusted and realize how pathetic these people are and see the consequences that their neglect and disconnect had on MY LIFE and feel all the feelings in order to be free.
Thank you so much for sharing and for adding your voice here. These kind of comments help everyone on this journey.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sylvia!
YES. Why would a loving parent use something like FEAR to control a child? And so many of them do. It really is that simple ~ It is NOT love to do that to a child. At the bottom of healing for me was understanding how many false definitions of love that I believed and exposing them and your example is one of the biggies. It is not love to control and manipulate with FEAR. (or guilt or shame)
Thank you so much for your comments.
Hugs, Darlene


Wow! The counselor’s e-mail sounds judgmental & definitely pointing the finger at you. Bringing God, Jesus & Satan into this, as a way to guilt & shame you, is just another manipulation. I think they call that spiritual abuse. What counselor does that!…She doesn’t hold your mother accountable for her actions. However, I know these controlling/pathological Types (I can them P’s now), use what tactics they can to gain control. It’s about Ego. Yay for you for Seeing through that! It’s easier for me to make these comments, because I’m outside of the drama. However by sharing this, I’m more determined then ever to keep my boundaries with my family. BTW, no contact with FOO, at this time. Need the time away to heal.
Happy for you, although I know it’s hard to deal with the contact- whether by e-mail or in person.
Peace Mimi,


I meant I call them P’s (for pathological)….it’s not a judgement but it fits. BTW, Controlling & abusive fits too….just sayin


P.S. Great job standing up to the BS! Love your come backs of Truth!
I admire your strength!


In response to comment #54, I just need clarification. When you said, “as long as we let them See it for themselves.” Was this directed at me or in general about them seeing the Truth. I’m starting to feel more comfortable sharing bits & pieces of family drama, with my 13 yr old son soon to be 14. He has pointed out the weird way my family interacts, esp when they are drinking. Still No Contact with Foo at this time. Staying away to heal some more. My kids are good with not seeing them. We are spending time with friends & doing Fun things over the Summer. Also, making plans to go away on vacation.


Mimi, That sounds so much like the stuff my sister used on me. What I wonder is why am I the only one that needs preaching to? My parents have done horrible things to people and they never get a ‘spiritual’ tongue lashing like that. I get it when I try to hold them accountable. It’s all one sided.



Hi all! This is THEE Katie, Darlene’s daughter =)

I just want to say a HUGE thank you to you all, thank you for all of your support and kind words. When I sent the response to my aunt I was really terrified that I had been rude or wrong in saying what I did! I realize, the more I think about it, that it is more wrong and rude to let people disrespect me and more importantly my family , and not bad at all to stand up for myself!!
I am so very proud of my Mommy <3 I love her to bits and pieces and I'm so proud of what she has accomplished here on Emerging from Broken, and reading all of your support, I know why she loves you folks too =)


I meant this to all, to everyone in general not directed at you or your situation at all. I covered up for everyone in my family to my kids never realizing that too was and always would be at my own expense.
Hugs, Darlene

Hey Katie!!
Welcome to EFB!! I feel those buttons on my blouse popping again! I love you so much and I am so proud to call you MY daughter. You are a lovely young woman with a great head on your shoulders and you are very savy at seeing and speaking the truth! I was so proud to have your permission to publish your response to your aunt!There was nothing rude about it!
Love Mom


For whatever it’s worth, I did not think Katie’s response was rude at all. I like the flip-side: that’s it’s rude to let others disrespect you. Yes, why not treat ourselves with the same civility and courtesy that we are supposed to treat others. To everyone here, I’m sorry for the manipulations we experience with our families but so grateful for how Darlene EFB offers enhancement of our knowledge of their behavior and our responses. Love and Light, Lynn


Thanks for the clarification.
Hugs, Sonia


It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with a really messed up family. I wish this on no one but actually take comfort in knowing I am not alone. My counselor recommended your facebook page a couple weeks ago, and I’m very thankful to her for doing that.

I’m sorry for the dysfunction that exists in your family. I can tell by your words that you still carry hurt from it and become defensive with it. I do hope, with time, that it subsides entirely for you. I am still working on it as well. It’s hard to continually stick up for yourself with family. I feel like the crazy one for speaking the truth. Calling the abuse out. Placing blame on my mother, who never struck me or sexually abused me, but was aware of it and never protected me. The mother who flattened me with her words of disgust directed towards me. It was not only my step-father…it was her as well with her words, and for not protecting me as a parent SHOULD do. It took a very long time to understand that – I had always covered for her – tried to protect her through it all. I cut all contact with my mother and siblings about 3.5 years ago because I needed to heal and wanted to break a cycle and raise my children away from all the nonsense. I only spoke to my biological father, who died in May. Since his death, hard truths have come out (in the form of me reading his journals) and to know he was aware of the abuse and remained best friends with my abuser (even quit claimed a house to him AFTER knowing of the severe abuse), all the while acting like he hadn’t known and was my protecter….well, that has plopped me right back into counseling.

I do pray that all of us heal. That we continue to fight the ‘truth’ fight and find strength in others going through this battle. That we end the cycle and start anew / fresh in the upbringing of our own children. My two older children (21 and 14) know why I don’t speak to my family. My 21 year old obviously knows much more as she is able to absorb and process it. I started speaking to my 14 year old about it a couple years ago in very generalized terms and will give more details as she gets older and can process it. My 9 year old – he just understands that Grandma and his aunt and uncle hurt Mommy’s heart in a very bad way. I think it is important to educate our children – to make them aware that it DOES exist and it takes strength to speak the truth, especially standing up to family.

Thank you for your facebook page and your website. I appreciate the time it must take you to put this together and want you to know it is very helpful to me in my continued healing.


In your post if you substituted mother for father, every statement
describes how I was treated. Realizing now that it was not my
fault is tremendous but… discoving this and processing it, although
validating, is extreemly stressful. When I believed all the lies I
had developed a way of coping. Now that doesnt work for me anymore
and I am very distressed by all this new knowledge. Just knowing
does not seem to be enough. I guess its part of the process but
makes me feel victumized all over again. I just feel stupid to have
accepted that treatment for so many years. I live 1300 miles from
them and have for 35 yrs but they were still able to manipulate and
control me because I not only let them but in many ways impowered
them. I was just plain brainwashed. Thank goodness for the internet.
I met a Russian friend in the 90’s who told me that with the open
exchange of truth (on line) many lies could no longer be upheld.
That those in power who controlled others could no longer keep
control when their victims finally have access to the truth and
I can see now that he was right in ways I could not have imagined then.


Darlene and Katie,

Thank you for sharing. It is really moving, and also painful, to see what real love between a mother and daughter feels like. (I’m okay with feeling that pain, though—it’s necessary.) It really, honestly touched me. And yes, Katie, you are totally right that it is more wrong and rude to let someone disrespect you and those you love. It takes real courage to stand up for yourself and be true to what you believe and know to be the truth and risk being judged by others who, for all their reasons, live in ignorance.


I really like what your Russian friend said. Thanks for sharing. I can relate to the kind of distress/pain you are speaking about. I want to believe that now it’s really a matter of just putting one foot in front of the other, to keep walking the path and have faith that we’ll get to the other side, in spite of all the difficult days. I believe, as Mimi, that the truth will set us free… even if it’s not immediate but eventually, yes…. What Darlene does here shows how it is possible. I know that not everyone manages it. I hold onto the pain of a suicide of someone who didn’t manage it. But it is possible. I know that now. It’s possible.


Congratulations Mimi ! You are so right.


Hi Darlene,

I have a question, due to our past, we all struggle with self hate.
Do you think it’s useful to talk to it ? To talk with this part of us who attack us or talk to us with a judgmental tone to see where this voice comes from ?

Thank you.


Yes, it is distressing when you first come out of the fog and see the truth of things. It almost broke my heart. I didnt want to face the reality of my parents dysfunction, but it was either that, or carry on living a second rate life, which I couldnt do any longer. I would rather have been dead than go through any more of the fear and pain that my false beliefs brought into my life. For decades, I had believed that I was a bad rotten person who deserved nothing good, and why? Because they said so. I started to question my parents logic. One of the first questions I had to ask myself was, if my parents were good people, why on earth would they want their child to feel like a piece of rubbish? Why wouldnt they have wanted me to be happy and feel good? Even if I had been the selfish, lazy good-for-nothing monster they reckoned I was, what did that say about them? Wouldnt they have been to some extent responsible for that? What did that say about their parenting skills? Another thing that was thrown in my face every day of my life was how cruel and hardhearted I was. If that was true, then why did I go through years of feeing crucified with guilt? Why did I become severely co-dependant? Why did I take responsibility for the feelings and behaviour of everyone around me? Why didnt I steam-roller my way through life, taking and never giving, getting what I wanted and not caring who I hurt in the process? Ironically enough, thats exactly what my mother did! And SHE sure enough made herself responsible for other peoples feelings – for making them feel as bad and rotten and humiliated as she possibly could. I can now look back at them with a kind of pity, but no love or respect. God, I would hate to think my daughter would ever look at me that way. Karen, where you are now is painful but it gets better. Put it this way, there aint no going back. Not once the bogeyman is out of the closet. I wish you luck
Love Sylvia x


And yes Karen, your Russian friend IS right. Because of the internet, nothing can remain hidden or concealed any more. I certainly have the internet to thank for my recovery. When I started to research Narcissism, I was amazed by the amount of material available. And finding forums like this one has been so validating,(although I did have a bad experience on another forum that claims to assist recovery from narcissistic abuse). But most of my experiences have been so positive. So many things which were covered up have now been exposed. I came across an online article about Narcissism accidentally. I actually felt faint while reading it, because it explained so many things about my mothers behavior and my childhood. It also shed so much light on why I had such low self-esteem, and had attracted so many dysfunctional partners and friends. That article changed my life. Up until that point, I thought I deserved the unhappiness that I had experienced. That it was some sort of karmic retribution. Boy, have I wised up. Yes the truth does set us free, even though it might hurt at first. Can I just add, not all abusers are Narcissists. As I have heard Darlene say, an abuser is an abuser no matter how you label them.
Love Sylvia x


Darlene, I’ve been thinking about this topic of speaking up for oneself and others and it brought me back to the time, as an older teenager (possibly your daughter’s age), when my mother told a group of people (my dad and an aunt and uncle—not the ones I spoke of in above postings but ones who have also been very supportive to me, my mom’s brother and his wife) how she had hated me when I was a kid. At this age (a teen), I was in full compliance mode. The person I was was false—it was not me. Several years ago, when I was searching the net for info on abuse because my great aunt had told me a few years earlier that I had been abused but I didn’t really believe her, I found a list of signs and symptoms of people who were abused as children and I remember that I fit all of them… but then I would read lists of what was abuse and I couldn’t connect the dots. The examples seemed way beyond anything I’d experienced and were especially physical or verbal. But yet I had all the markers of someone who had been abused. Everyone in my life, though, seemed to take those markers as my actual personality… It really wasn’t me, though. Not at all. My great aunt (an in-law who wasn’t around when I was a child) was talking about this to me recently, how my great uncle had told her how he remembered me as a totally different person—this bright-eyed, energetic, spontaneous little girl… not at all the person I became but everyone took to be me…. Anyway, so I was thinking about this time when my mom said how she had hated, which didn’t come as a surprise because of course I had felt her hate/anger. But what I didn’t know was how the others felt. My dad, my aunt and uncle who were sitting there but said nothing. I realize now that how I felt was that if they had really loved me, they would have felt compelled to SAY something, that they would not be able to stand hearing someone say something like that without having to say, “Nah, Alaina, you were wonderful… maybe your mom hated you but I thought you were great and I loved you.” Even if they didn’t say it in front of my mom but just to me in private, but none of them did. I thought that meant that everyone hated me—the person I really was and not the phoney I became to please my mother, or not the emotional cripple, the person who was not really a person at all but a list of signs and symptoms… Even now, I realize I keep thinking that I have to be someone, become someone, good enough to be loved, that I have a block on my heart still. I have every reason to believe that in fact my aunt and uncle, and even my dad, did and do love me and that the reason they didn’t speak up had everything to do with them and with my mom. Recently, at my cousin’s wedding, I noticed something going on in the way my mom was treating my sister-in-law and had actually felt physically uncomfortable for my SIL and I later mentioned it to my great aunt, who also had observed certain behaviour. My brother has no clue and no understanding of what I’ve been going through (I believe it’s partly denial and partly that he simply didn’t get the same treatment as I, that what he got was somehow adequate for him). I thought there might be some hope that my SIL, coming from the outside and who, though I don’t really know her, seems like a very caring person, might come to see the truth, that something might happen there. My great aunt said, “But do you think she’d be able to stand up to your Mom? It takes a lot of strength to stand up to her.” And as we talked more, I realized that my great aunt was not just talking about standing up to my mom to her face, but actually even just standing up to her in the privacy of a conversation with my brother (as in my SIL to my brother, her husband, when by all accounts they seem to have a good, healthy relationship!)… which made me think…

Anyway, I feel like one day I should have a conversation with my aunt (the one who was there, silent, when my mom said she’d hated me). I have every reason to believe that my aunt really loves and cares about me and always has, even when I was that little girl, but I guess not all of me really knows that. I think the child in me needs to hear from my aunt why she didn’t say anything. I need to speak for that little girl who is and always has been ME but has been in hiding for so long, hurting… The only person I really, really FELT had seen me, known me and loved me as a child, as I was and am, was my one uncle who killed himself and when he died, because it was suicide, it felt then like everything had been a lie, too, like it took everything away from me, that there really was nothing in me to love and that my mom was right that I was deserving of hate as a child, as I was, my real self, that everyone did really hate my true self and everyone (anyone) always would. I know in my brain, in theory, that this isn’t true but in my heart the truth hasn’t totally broken in…. It really hurts, maybe because it’s maybe starting to break in…? I’ve certainly been crying a lot through this whole comment and that’s probably good. Anyway, thank you again so much. xo, A


Hi Becca!
Welcome to emerging from broken
Just to clarify, I write this blog as a body of proof that total healing is possible. I am pain free and no longer feel defensive at all. I did all my process work before I started this site. I started this site because I wanted to tell the world that total healing, wholeness and freedom from depression and the manifestations of abusive childhood, CAN be healed.

You are certainly not alone in this! Thank you for sharing your story, i can see how reading your fathers journals would have been a blow. The single biggest thing that helped me to heal from the damage was to face the truth about what that damage actually was. It is devastating to realize that a parent actually knew and did nothing and it is a very hard truth to swallow too. I am glad you are here.

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Aurele
I talked to myself about the way I felt about myself as a way of getting deeper to the roots of where the self hate originated. It was very powerful to do this and I found out all kinds of things about where the voice came from and also where it was my voice that had learned to accept the false definitions of me that were placed on me.
Self talk in this way works really well!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Alaina
Great work! I think you are right that perhaps the pain you are feeling is the truth “breaking in”. I went through a lot of that too!
Hugs, Darlene


I cannot wait to read the pastor’s post. Abusers seem to use the forgiveness card so so much. That it’s the victim’s fault because they can’t forgive ~ essentially overlook the muck and lay down like a doormat and patiently wait to be spoonfed more heaps of abuse. I am a little angry lately ~ Because people seem to come out of the woodwork to my mother’s defense… trying to quiet me, persuade me, make me guilty for her problems. It wasn’t ME who created this monster!! Why do a select few want to make it MY problem. My stepdad recently, my mother’s counselor this week!! Yep, I’m getting sick of it. I’m getting sick of people talking to me any kind of way, like I’m beneath them. It almost seems like they are TRYING to make me angry. And, the confusion that follows is mindbending. I need to re-route all their emails to junk. Just to get some peace!!

You said, “I would rather have been dead than go through any more of the fear and pain that my false beliefs brought into my life. For decades, I had believed that I was a bad rotten person who deserved nothing good, and why? Because they said so.”

I would have rather been dead last year about this time when all the truth started to surface. I know exactly what you mean. I don’t get why people, ESPECIALLY parents, would WANT their children to feel this low down, that death seems appealing. I have believed the same things you describe.

My mother’s counselor that I spoke about above… she wants the same thing apparently. Her email was so gushy, but she did come right out and say that I was angry, resentful, prideful, and in unforgiveness. That hit so many buttons. Oh, I’m immature too. All the things my mother has said in the past. Today, I’m still hashing it over in my mind. And, I’m feeling angry. More labels. Because she has a master’s degree…. that makes her all knowing and gives her an excusable pass to label me. NOPE!! And, she said she will be praying for me. Because I’m so screwed up, I need prayer. That’s what that says to me!

To everyone here hurting… my heart goes out to each of you. I just don’t get it. I don’t get why this is necessary. I’m frustrated today!!

Peace, hope, and love to everyone!!


I’m happy for you that you’re taking care of yourself and your kids. It’s so tough to be low contact. For myself, I enjoyed the periods of time where my mother didn’t contact me. When I see her name in my inbox, my stomach turns. That alone is proof I shouldn’t question…. I guess. It seems like you’re doing an amazing job handling truth as it comes. I never dreamed I would be no contact (or at least attempting it) with my mother. Now, I can’t imagine going back to that place of stifled compliance. She continues to try to stir me up in a variety of ways. I might just send her and her allies’ mail to junk from now on. I hate the roller coaster I’m on. Feeling good for a little while, then totally knocked off balance. She reaches further. HER words haven’t swayed me, so she’s called in the troops. UGH!! I’m sick, SICK of it!! I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer. I’m happy that you’re moving along in the process and seeking truth and reprieve for yourself. You’re a strong lady to draw boundaries and stick to them. 🙂
Love to you,


Thanks, Darlene! I think all my recent fear about my mom and starting over, now that she is willing to go to counselling and listen and that she obviously wants a relationship with me is the fact that I have no intention of going back and being the compliant, “baby girl” (ugh, puke!) whom she loved but instead to go back and become more and more the person I was as a child, the person I was meant to be, the one whom she hated. And so there is the chance that she will hate me again… and it probably won’t be right away but in time. It is, in fact, a real possibility and that is what I’ve been scared of—the vulnerability of putting myself in that position. But what I realize, or am slowly coming to realize, is that I really do have people in my life who love me for me and that I don’t need my mom to love me to know that I am loveable. I’m sure it will hurt if things turn out that way, but no, I don’t need her love… and yes, I can still move forward and give her the chance to know me and have a relationship with me (as slowly as I need) and risk it so that I may know that truth. I am strong enough to do this now (but SLOWLY, only ever slowly). If it turns out that she hates me again, I know that I will be able to handle it, to know it’s about her and not me, and to make the right decisions to take care of myself…. I’m not at all religious but I suddenly feel like saying “Bless you” …and now I’m just imagining you sneezing 😉 …But anyway… bless you.

…And, also, I realize with my dad, too, there’s a chance if again we end up in this place where my mother hates me, that again he may sit there in silence because of his passivity, and that I am vulnerable there, too, and perhaps more so because a relationship with him at this point seems to mean more to me than a relationship with my mom… but again, yes, I am willing to go down this road to know the truth, to risk it, and again, I know I don’t need his love either, even if I really want it. I can make it on my own and with the love/support of the people I do have in my life, the caring of people in this world who don’t require me to be anyone other than who I am.



When people who know we are being abused, dont defend us, it is like we are being abused twice over. When my mother embarassed me at family gatherings, which was her favourite “game”, people would look away or giggle nervously. I dont blame them for not openly challenging my mother, but like you say, it would have meant the world to me to just have someone say a kind word to me in private. If I witnessed something like this, I wouldnt do anything that might make things worse for the child, but I would have to try and say something reassuring to them as soon as I got the chance. Even my paternal grandparents, wonderful though they were, would never have dared say anything against my mother. The biggest offender by far, was “enabling father”, but I’ve already said enough about him. He dosent deserve any more of my head space. Good luck x


Yes, why DO people jump out of the woodwork to defend the abuser? My parents have been dead for many years, but I am still experiencing this – even from people WHO NEVER KNEW THEM! When certain friends and aquaintances found out about my journey to recovery, they begged me to stop “speaking ill of the dead”, “let bygones be bygones” and reminded me that “they were your flesh and blood after all”. Yes, my point precisely! Thats what makes it all so incomprehensible! What is it that is triggered in these people that makes them leap to the defence of the abusers rather than support – or even try to understand – the abused? Do they realise how invalidating it is? Is it denial? Do they fear that we will force them to look into their own dark corners? Actually, I dont care!
Love, Sylvia x


Thank you so much, Sylvia! I really appreciate your words. And it is ridiculous, what you were talking about to Mimi, these people who defend abusers… I wonder if they are victims who haven’t faced their wounds or stood up to their abusers, who still live by their abusers’ rules and who also perhaps fear what could be said about them because they have maybe been abusive toward others, too. The stupid thing is real forgiveness is actually possible with acknowledgement and accountability… i.e. you have to talk about it, it has to be made real and validated (by yourself first and foremost)…. That said, I totally understand when you say “Actually, I don’t care!” because it’s their issue, not ours! Anyway, thanks again, and good luck to you, too.


Darlene and Katie,

Your correspondence really proves, again, how living with the truth and in the truth is a fertile ground to grow self esteem, strength, bravery, personal growth, self awareness rather than that which grows in the ground of illusion. I was just talking with my friend about this. Since I began to try and get better I’ve noticed that when I get feelings that I should self harm, or talk to myself negatively living outside the illusion has provided the tools to feel better while living in the maladaptive system was really just putting the blinders over my eyes. In the system EVERYTHING was my fault, so it was like getting whacked in the face every time I saw that it wasn’t actually my fault at all. The fact that I don’t want to hurt myself is PROOF that these changes are good for me. My family has really begun to up their passive aggressive abuse in light of the fact I don’t feel any need to cut anymore. I’d also noticed about this time that seeing my mother was a huge trigger and I almost always ended up cutting before seeing her. I asked why and I got a big ugly answer: she makes you feel so little, so bad about yourself that you only feel okay to see her after you cut yourself up good. It’s proof that it wasn’t me all along, but her abuse, my family’s abuse. The illusion kills things that grow only in the truth. Katie and Darlene, you are both strong people and in the way you are strong is proof that living outside of the illusion is good for the soul. That’s what I’m going to take from this. To be strong in the way you are both strong is a thing that cannot grow in the illusion; same way my feelings of self harm are proof that I was abused and the cessation of them proves just how sick that system, and I, were. The escalation of my family’s abuse also shows how sick it is, to beat someone down who’s getting better is just cruel.

I am very glad that you guys decided to share those letters. Thank you. And thank you everyone who has contributed. /hug


Hello All!
We have taken a few days away to go north and enjoy the weather. It is me, my S.O., his 2 kids and 2 of their friends. It was really nice to get away! I had the boys with me on the way up, and it was so much fun, listening to to 13 yr olds chatter. One of the boys somehow had a speaker he connected to his cell phone, and could play all of his stored music. At first, I was a little miffed, that he didnt ask, but went with it, and soon we all 3 were singing! What a difference, from our familt road trips where my father would pull over if we made any sound that irritated him at all. Going on vacation, pins and needles!

I am so glad he has gotten better. I called to speak to him today, while my Nmom was at church, and he knew where I was! Apparently,NM had “just so happened” to have called the hotel we are at, to “ask for a brochure”, as she would like to know the rates for a room in September! Huh! They have been here before, and she is pretty internet savvy, so she has no reason to “call for a brochure”. It “just so happened” that the clerk knew another group with the same name (unusual last name we have) was expected today! The kids and SO werent the only ones going on a fishing expedition, apparantly!
Darlene is so right! It is all about control! She could not stand that I was taking a trip, and she didnt have her thumb on me, got wind of it somehow, and had to call and nose around! Honestly! Does she think I am stupid? Actually, she really doesnt care. She got track of me. Ugh! It is a sickening feeling, for sure!
We are going to have fun, anyways……….



Thank you Sylvia and Alaina and everyone else sharing themselves.
Its all very upseting. Some days are great, some have too many
what ifs. My search also started with narcissism, then abuse, the effects of
abuse. That took me to BPD which explained my emotional
responses and actions. The more research I did, the more shocked
and angry I became. EFB brought it all together. Working thru it
is much better than heavy doses of bipolar meds. Im not even bipolar.
Boy you need to be your own advocate. Meds are very helpful in many
cases, but not if they are based on a bad diagnosis.
The emotional stuff has always been tough for me as nothing
was ever explained or modeled. But like my mother says…
we didnt know all this stuff back then. ?? Boy that excuse is so
lame to me now. Thank you all for your kind support.
Karen Ranes


Oh your road trip sounds like such fun. We never went on family vacations.
Dad took two weeks off and would take his parents to Fl. not his family.
His vacation was his and he did not share it with us. He was an N.
But if we did go somewhere in the car we were Not allowed to talk.
The one and only vacation we were pulling a small travel trailer and he
didnt hitch it right and it disconnected and rolled away as we were driving
along at 40 mph. My brother and I in the back of the station wagon
saw it go! And we never said a word!! LOL It was pretty funny.
( it didnt hit anything but It still makes me laugh the look on his face!)


Karen, Well, if you werent allowed to speak, how on earth could you say anything! Hahaha, so funny!


I also think Katie’s letter was perfect, and offered just the amount of ‘respect’ that her aunt earned.

Mimi, it’s so terrible that this “counselor” would try to use religion to shame you into an abusive relationship with your mother. It reminds me of how apparently one of her therapists told my mother that she had a “right” to know where I am and what I’m doing, after I cut off contact. I’m glad you were able to give such a good response that she backed off–I’m sure she was very comfortable talking down to you, but when you stood up for yourself, she suddenly ran out of time. I hope your mother and stepfather will finally get the point and end these pathetic machinations that try to intrude upon your life.


Thanks for your kind words of encouragement & support. I really do feel like I’m moving forward in my healing journey, yet I’m stuck at times too. Although, this year has been eye opening to me to SEE the TRUTH that I was abused as a child & when I visit them, I re-visit the past pain & memories afterwards. I’ve made strides this year, even while struggling to deal with many stressors from FOO, my family, financial & my own trauma. Like Karen Ranes, my search started with acknowledging the word Narc & defining my mom as having many of the traits. I know I’ve talked about this in past posts, but it resonated with me & explained her controlling & mean behavior. The next step was acknowledging all the stressors in my life & establishing boundaries & limits with FOO & other difficult people in my life. After that, I was struggling with grief & anger about the realization that my family is not really loving. I can now say my family is good at covering up. Especially my mom, she is a Master at Manipulation. It’s sinking in emotionally in small doses. If I have too many realizations, I become overwhelmed. I can usually stop the spin of anxiety, yet the memory flashes continue off & on. I buried a lot of painful memories & feelings to be a good/compliant girl, which was at my expense. I’m in a better place now in many ways, yet it’s the anxiety & flashes of memories that are hard to piece together. It’s like my mind is protecting me from facing it all at once. The realization of how my mom treated me came to Light, when my cousin visited last month, and I saw how similar she treated my cousin. My mom & sister’s wrath was intense. I don’t believe my cousin is bad, like they want to paint her out to be! They attack like a pack of hyenas!…No wonder I was victimized. And for family to turn around & say I’m blaming them & I’m the one with problems is vicious! That was said directly & indirectly since childhood. Anyway, I’m on a Rant!…I’m angry & don’t want Contact for the rest of the summer. Like I said, small doses. I continue to face & cope with the internal distress & anger. Thanks everyone for listening & support!


Hi Jackie
What an amazing discovery you have shared! Thank you for being willing to share it here. I found that the more I realized that I did not deserve OR bring on the mistreatement and disregard the less I wanted to escape life too. And I had anxiety attacks before even talking to my mother and I discovered the same root to it that you have posted here. I also found that being around my father (as I said in this blog post) was a huge reminder of how little he ever cared for me and that also caused me to feel “less than”. It has been empowering and very healthy/healing to refuse to be around all of that!
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Jackie and Darlene,
Yay! I too have found that since I stopped blaming myself for the behaviour of my ridiculously dysfunctional parents, I have gone out and grabbed life by the balls! I have completed one counselling course and start the next level in September. I have also completed courses in Mental Health and Working with Vulnerable Adults. I have much higher self-esteem than ever, much healthier people in my life, and I eagerly look forward to my next adventure. This is so different from the person I used to be. I didnt think I had any right to any happiness whatsoever. I had been conditioned to think that any success I had in life would hurt or diminish someone else. “Playing small” was my middle name. Boy oh boy has that changed! Bring it on!

Love Sylvia x


Hi Sonia:
Your post explained exactly what I am struggling with
but could not articulate:
“If I have too many realizations, I become overwhelmed. I can usually stop the spin of anxiety, yet the memory flashes continue off & on. I buried a lot of painful memories & feelings to be a good/compliant girl, which was at my expense.”
I am overwhelmed I think but rather than go back to my maladaptive
coping of the past, I am trying to deal with it. Reading all the insightful
posts is like sharing with your caring friends. I moved quite a distance
from everyone I know 2 years ago so left behind my friends and
support system. The edict of silence on any topic of importance in
my life was so strongly enforced in my family that I have been conditioned
to it. When my son, given up at birth contacted me after 33 years, my
friends and co workers, most of whom have known me for over 25 years
we shocked. I was told to forget the “incident” and never speak of it
and I did as I was told. Until recently I never realized how emotionally
damaging all the control and disregard for me as a person was.
The blameing and shameing followed that. FOG is a very good
description. Right now my family is fighting against my exposure
of their behavior. I am awaiting their next move which I predict will come
as a guilt attack from my brother. We’ll see. My mother is playing the poor
victum of my “bad mood”. But I see her game now and refuse to
take the blame and be silent anymore. Again thank you all for
sharing your insights.
Karen Ranes


This is really huge stuff. I think this is why I use the word “disregarded” so often. It is so damaging to be dismissed this way and somehow we are brainwashed from very young to accept everything they suggest as “right”. This is all the stuff that I realized and decided was a huge part of the DAMAGE caused to me so that I could overcome that damage.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone!
The post that I said I was writing about how a child becomes “the black sheep of the family” is now published!
You can read it here:
Hugs! Darlene


I don’t know how I got this, and I read it quickly. All I can say at this, my old age, is none of us had a family as shown in the 50’s on TV. Some overcome the use or abuse, some do not even know what is love. As long as they support you in some way, and love you as they are able, that will do for me. I never knew my father loved me until one day at his nursing home we had a word “fight.” He said I was making fun of another patient, when I was entertaiing the person. I said loudly “you have never approved of anytning I’ve ever done,” and started crying. The nurse had to pull us away. When I returned from the rest room, he was crying, and took my hand and for the first time said “I love you, I just didn’t know what to do with children.” I was his only one, and he wanted a boy. I’ll always have respect for my father, and he supported me, even to college. My mother would be called a neurotic, selfish woman by many, but I adored her, and didn’t realize her faults. She was a sparkler to me, always interesting. She let me do whatever I wanted, and therefore I never wanted to do anything bad. Only recently, at a funeral for my aunt (dad’s sister) did I hear someone answer my statement “dad and I were never close, and barely talked to each other.” A cousin said “your mother wouldn’t allow him to be close to you.” I was shocked. My father never abused me sexually at all…the only thing he ever did wrong was strap my little 5-yr. old legs for squirming in church, and after that mom told him to never lay a hand on me…he was in the military and gone most of my growing up anyway. I’m sorry for people
who never got close somehow to their parents, but I think we have to remember the commandment “Honor thy father and thy other.” No one is perfect.


Hi JoAnne
Welcome to EFB. I am not sure that this is going to be a website that you enjoy. Perhaps I am misunderstand, but your comments sound judgemental and invalidate what we are talking about here. You use the directive “honor they father and mother” ~ which is a directive that has caused far more damage to most victims of abuse than any other directive although it is falsely taught and very misunderstood. We are not talking about expecting perfection ~ we are talking about recovering from the damage caused by abusive parents. We are talking about freedom from depression and about emotional healing by facing the truth about the roots of life long problems.
Please be considerate of what we are doing here and the pain that others are sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


I felt I had to reply to JoAnne as well. As soon as she quoted “honor thy father and mother” my back went up. JoAnne, I have to kindly tell you that I honored my parents very well and yet I was still abused and neglected!!!! My mother was my prime abuser and this commandment was used as a means to abuse, control and manipulate me. It was a VERY toxic relationship. This Bible verse gave her licence to abuse me however she wanted, by humiliation, degradation, making me feel ashamed of who I was, while still expecting me to comply to her every whim. She’d shift blame – blaming me for things she did. She’d tell me I was just like a certain relative she HATED while looking at me with extreme hate in her eyes. She’d give gifts and then take them away again because ‘she paid for them.’ Her actions always reflected hatred, even in my compliance. I had an aunt to validated what I already knew, she said, “Your mother never loved you.” To which I replied, “Tell me something I didn’t know.” I could go on and on, but I am sure you get the gist of the point I’m making.

The only way I can ‘honor’ my mother is by not using her name when I talk about her! I am a Christian and have struggled with her abuse and endured her abuse for a very long time (I even gave her a full decade to change – she didn’t.) All it did was leave me a mere shell of a person with no self worth and no self confidence and no self esteem! I didn’t know what love was until I met my husband and had children of my own. And its when I had kids of my own that I really ‘saw’ the abuse for what it was. I thought that when I had kids of my own that then I would understand how my mother ‘treated’ me – and let me tell you, I cannot tell you how incredibly confused I was!!!! The way I felt about my babies and the things she did to me became severe confusion. I could not understand how she could say, ‘I love you’ and yet turn around and treat me worse than a slave. My kids are a lot older now and those thoughts and opinions have not changed. It confuses me to no end how a parent can hate their own child.

Knowing how to love is still an incredible struggle for me – but I strive every day to do the best I can. It’s awful. And the worst part about is, I still don’t really know what it means to love myself. (” … Love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself.”) I don’t know what that means … ‘to love as I love myself.’

So I will kindly and respectfully say, if you haven’t endured it, you can NEVER understand it. And never presume you have any idea what anyone here has endured, because you can’t. And you don’t.

Darlene … I hope you don’t mind me sharing this … but wanted to kindly share with her the dynamics of what she’s commented on. 🙂


Thank You for validating my post #97. I like what you said in your post #100 about, “Until recently I never realized how damaging all the control & disregard for me as a person was.” Well said! We do agree on that part for sure. I’m sorry that you are in an uncomfortable situation awaiting what your family’s next move will be. It is predictable, since they do repeatedly attack & use different tactics to throw you off. I know, because that is what my Controlling & Manipulative family does. I’m glad to hear you are not slipping back to faulty coping skills but working on dealing with the damage. I’m doing the same & it’s Damn hard work. One situation at a time with FOO. LC is no longer working for me. I’m focusing on My healing & coping at this time.

I also like the way you distinguish between not talking about high expectations “perfection”, but Recovering from the damage. That is a Big Difference. I do See the directive “honor thy father & mother” as blindly honoring them, just because they are our parents. I could say a lot more but I’m not feeling up to a Rant today.
Thanks for listening!


P.S. Just about how I did honor my mother & father, and I was still abused & neglected. Control & manipulation is Not the way to parent!
Love your comments Rizae!


Hi Rizae,

Above, you said “And its when I had kids of my own that I really ‘saw’ the abuse for what it was. … I could not understand how she could say, ‘I love you’ and yet turn around and treat me worse than a slave. … It confuses me to no end how a parent can hate their own child.”

I said a resounding “YES” when I read this in your post. I didn’t tell my wife about how horrid things were when I was child until we had been married almost 20 years. She had suspected long before then that things hadn’t been “right”, but she never pressed me for information, and as for me I was still in denial and simply suppressing things so that I didn’t have to think about it (and we all know how that doesn’t work). When I finally fell apart and told her everything, I remember the part that had me a blubbering mess was telling her that I couldn’t imagine doing to my children what my father had done to me. It just seems so foreign and unconscionable to me that he could have beaten me the way he did, and I could not imagine doing that to my child. Even now, tears well up in my eyes just thinking about it, how could any parent be so brutal to their own child. I just can’t understand that mindset.


Sonia – so true! 🙂

And, Eddie – it doesn’t matter how many stories I hear – they all break my heart! No child should ever be hated or feel hated. I’m not a perfect parent (just ask my kids), but I have never torn them down or berated them – in private or public. I have unknowingly humiliated one or two and when it happens I am quick to apologize – which is something that they’ve ever done!!

And yeah, I know too that stuffing it and trying to ignore what happened doesn’t work and can actually lead to illness. So glad to hear you let it out, confession is the first step to healing. 🙂


Hi Rizae
I am curious; why do you feel that the only way you can “honor” your mother is by not using her name?
Hugs, Darlene


Yes there IS a big difference! A HUGE difference. Parents are responsible to teach us honor in the first place.
Hugs, Darlene

Hugs.. I hear you.


Darlene ~ post #110 … Good question – 🙂 … Its not the only way I can honor her, I’m not even sure that not mentioning her name is honoring to tell you the truth – since you’ve asked. 🙂

Thinking about it, I think I just don’t want to mention her name … when it comes to honouring her, I guess I could say, or maybe what I should have said, is that I ‘honour’ her by living well, by not making the mistakes she made or the unwise decisions she’s made. I can ‘honour’ her by being the parent she wasn’t – I actually love my kids and I honestly say that I have never torn them down or berated them. She taught me what not to do.

I love it that you asked me this question! I love it. It’s dawned on me … ‘Why do I care if her name is mentioned or not? She’s the one who abused me. Why am I protecting her?’ Rewiring one’s brain is not an easy task is it. It’s amazing to me how I can still find myself falling into that ‘thinking’ every once in awhile.

Thank you for that! By the way, you have a reason for asking?? Would love to know your thoughts!


I very much agree with all your comments about the honoring scripture. I am interested also in the dialogue here about honor. I struggle with a heartfelt conviction about it. I’m not sure where I stand, and I’m not sure what God accepts as honor. According to webster dictionary, it is equivalent to respect. I suppose when I look at it, and substitute the word respect for honor, it changes things for me. I feel I have respected my mother by virtue of NOT disrespecting her. In my correspondence with her for the past 5-6 months, I have spoken with conviction and been very very direct. I don’t equate that with disrespect. Also, I did just as you said. I honored her for 43 years. I spoke gently and did whatever it took to not ruffle feathers. I did double duty when it came to honor. I sold my soul to honor her. My question to JoAnn is, where does a person draw the line?? Would it have been wiser or more faithful to God to kill myself?? Because, that’s where I was a year ago. I was ready to end the pain. I can give EFB and Darlene (and of course God…. I firmly believe he brought me here) all the credit for being here at a time when I could take no more. If I didn’t end my own life, I thought I might die anyway. Just from the pain and confusion etc, etc, etc. I remember leaving my home without anything but my purse and a bag of stuff I threw together. I went to a hotel and stayed there a week. I didn’t even tell my husband. I just left while he was at work.

I have some xanax from past incidents with debilitating anxiety. The bottle is full. I laid in my bed crying, staring at the drawer the bottle was in. I started to really think I might be able to do it. So, I left. I needed space and peace and freedom from all responsibility. I needed to be in a separate building from that full bottle of xanax. One more step into darkness that day, and I wouldn’t be alive today.

JoAnn, I agree with Rizae. Unless you’ve battled all out self loathing and confusion beyond what you could ever conjur up in your mind, you can’t have any idea what all that feels like. It’s hell. I wondered around my own house aimlessly, unable to do anything. I couldnt go to the grocery store many days because I was unable to stop crying.

I know who did this to me. My mother did. I gave her all of me. After 43 years of that, and spiraling out of control more with each passing year, I knew I had to do something different. Why would I continue to do the same thing? It never worked anyway, and I just lost my soul in the process. There is nothing dishonorable or disrespectful about reclaiming my soul. Is there?? I sometimes have thought of it in terms of being with an abusive mate. We have a choice ~ to stay with the abuser, live a stifled life of abuse and control, or we can break free, get divorced, move out, whatever. It is really very similar to that in my mind. Because she birthed me does not give her the right to do the things a spouse or any other abuser would do. When I write it out like this, I think to myself, “that’s not even logical”. Every single child of God has a right to love and live and thrive. In my heart, I don’t believe God wants less than that for any of his children. I am no different. I have that right too.

Also JoAnn, it is God who has shown me the truth about my mother’s deceit and lies. Some things have happened supernaturally and led me to the truth about her. In addition to that, I had bad dreams about her for 10-12 years prior to discovering the truth consciously.

I don’t know what your situation is JoAnn. If you have found peace in your soul by the scripture you refer to, I am truly happy for you. It hasn’t happened that way for me. I wish it had, but it hasn’t. I hope you respect that it isn’t that way for everyone. My heart isn’t composed of switches. I don’t have a love switch, a forgiveness switch, a peace switch, etc. I have a need to process and arrive. It’s how I’m wired.

Rizae, I have missed your light. I understand the need to be an observer at times. Just so you know… I’ve thought of you often.

Peace and love to everyone,


Hi Mimi,

I agree with you about God showing us the truth about our parents. I think God wants us to live in the light and be all that we are sent here to be. He dosent want us to hate ourselves, or live out miserable existences. As for JoAnns comment about honouring our parents, when I first started my healing journey, I felt very guilty about thinking badly of my parents. Thanks to God I soon got past that and was able to see, and speak about, the reality of who my parents were. Maybe JoAnn is still in that place of guilt. I have a very close friend who had an abusive childhood, largely due to a violent alcoholic father. He knows he has a lot of deep healing work to do, but he simply cant bring himself to criticise his father or his enabling mother. Whenever he does say anything critical about them, he then retracts it. I persuaded him to see a therapist, but he simply couldnt open up about his family. Whenever she tried to touch on this, he would change the subject. She eventually told him that she didnt think he was ready for therapy. I have done all I can to help him, but “honour thy mother and thy father” is so deeply ingrained that he just cant get past it. Another saying that impedes his progress is “dont speak ill of the dead”.(Both his parents are deceased.) He has sometimes been shocked at how vocal I am about my folks shortcomings, and has actually berated me for it. I told him that when he did this, he was invalidating my painful experiences, and I wanted him to stop. Some people have been so severely indoctrinated that maybe they will never heal. I hope that JoAnn can and will.
Love Sylvia x


Hi again!,

Going back to JoAnns post, she said something which resonated with me. Her dad had told her that he didnt know how to be a father. I honestly think that this was the case with my own dad. I was his only biological child, my four siblings were to my moms first husband. He really didnt seem to have a clue about what children actually were, much less about their needs. He seemed puzzled and confused by me. I think he genuinely thought he was doing his best, but his best wasnt good enough. Being married to a nut like my mom couldnt have been easy, but that was his choice, not mine. As far as Im concerned, if a man dosent know – and cant make the effort to learn – how to be a father, then he shouldnt impregnate women. None of us are taught how to be parents. Saying you “dont know how” is simply not a good enough exuse.
Love Sylvia x


Hi Rizae,
I asked the question because I wanted to know if you knew your answer. (Coaching is all about asking the right questions; I can’t ask certain questions when I am not working in a one on one situation because sometimes it opens a big can of worms and a blog is not really the right place for that, but sometimes on this blog I can ask certain things)
I don’t think honoring my mother is really part of the healing equaqtion here but I honor myself by not submitting to her false definition of love. It does not help her at all to enable her to treat people the way she does by accepting it. I don’t protect her or feel obligated to protect her in any way. As far as scripture goes I think that if people are going to follow it, it is really important to understand what it actually says. Jesus didn’t make special provisions for parents when he taught about love. He didn’t say that parents were exempt from the way he taught love! That scripture is so misused and guess who misuses it???? People who want to control and abuse without consequence.
Hugs, Darlene


Mimi and all,
That “don’t speak ill of the dead” I wonder how that got started! We are taught in so many areas NOT to speak the truth! It is part of the whole fog storm thing!

If God is love, then it makes sense that God would want us to see and live in the truth. How could it be any other way? If the teaching is that the truth will set you free, then it is only logical to embrace the truth. Like I said before, parents are not excluded from the teachings about how to love and how to treat people; they are not excluded from being an example (wittness) of whatever spiritual teachings you follow. There are universal teachings about love, and parents are not exempt. (and remember that we were all taught a false def of love in the first place) Think about all the teachings about the punishments for those who hurt children. “teachers” are warned and are not our parents our teachers? How can abusive parents teach children about love or to follow christ or believe in god when those parents are the very ones that are teaching that whoever is the most powerful can do whatever they like and When the truth is twisted and warped for the purpose of control? I had to think about the spiritual teachings that I had studied through a different grid in order to sort this stuff out.
Huge topic ~ and a huge part of my own process.
Hugs, Darlene


Sylvia and eveyrone again 🙂
About people who don’t know what to do with children etc. It is so easy to just excuse everyone with that “didn’t know how” stuff. That is where I always come back to the fact that it is the damage that it caused to the child that we are dealing with here. I had to acknowledge the damage ~ validate myself in that damage in order to heal from it. Saying stuff like “they didn’t know how or they didn’t know any better or they did the best they could with what they knew at the time” was ALL in my way when it came to healing. I can say that AFTER the damage is faced but doing so before is like throwing a lot of muck in the water. It doesn’t help at all to try and understand or excuse the people that did the damage in the first place. As Sylvia said, saying you don’t know how is simply not good enough.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone,
I have been reading along and appreciating all of your comments. I’m in a work/schoolwork/sleep mode, so I haven’t had much chance to participate!
My experience of “don’t speak ill of the dead”, is a little different. My mother detested my Great Aunt and my grandmother (well, her own mother and my Dad’s mom, actually). She knew that my Grandma and my great aunt loved me, and spent time with me, encouraged me. A few Christmases ago, at the head of the dinner table, she started speaking ill of all three women. I think I might have said, “too bad they are not hear to defend themselves!” You don’t know if auntie had an affair, or what went on in her personal life, it doesnt seem unreasonable to me for Nana (mother of 10) to ask for some of the kids money from work during the 40’s war time and post war. Weren’t those hard times? (she herself always told the story how they passed a tea bag around and around to reuse, and her mother always said “fill up on bread”). But the point was, they werent there to defend themselves, and I resented having to take what felt like a warped view, spewed out of jealousy, of women I viewed as strong and upright, who werent there to defend themselves. She seemed like a bully speaking ill of the dead, and a coward doing it.
Soon after she did this, I got a migraine, which started with visual loss. My vision returned, and I did not have a bad headache. However, this is the only time this happened, I lost my central vision again (!). Back to back scotoma’s. Odd. I know it was because she had made me so angry. I think her soliliquy was her way of saying, “You want to come around on the holidays? You want to be included? I’ll show you how much fun being included can be!”.
My brother took me to the hospital and my vision cleared up in the car………



Hi Janie
I actually think that is how this whole saying started. It was because the dead could not defend themselves and your example of that is a very good one. I support your story fully.

I also think that speaking truth if it includes the truth about the dead, is just as valid. I don’t cover up for the dead just because they are dead. When people abuse their power they have given up their right to defend themselves. Most of the people here are sharing about personal exp, and not about rumor or a story passed down. I think it is important that we validate that difference esp in a website like this one!

Hugs, Darlene


I dont get what you are saying. That is not a story, it is what happened, and how my body reacted to the only people who supported me when I was young and pretty defenseless, being slandered. My mother is a known and proven liar. I’m really not interested in her opinion of those who cared for me and are gone, especially at the Christmas dinner table. It strikes me as not only inappropriate, but downright mean.
I, too share personal experience here. My mothers point in talking these women down, was to lift herself up, and say, the people who thought so much of you when you were younger? They were bad people. And that must make their opinion invalid or jaded. Therefore, I must be a bad person as well.
Or, I guess that is just how I took it. I could be wrong………but I dont think so!


I should have used the phrase “your example” instead of “your story”. I totally get your example here and I am not saying that you don’t share personal exp. That is what I was validating. Your mother trashed the people that loved you and validated you and you stuck up for them.
I was trying to say that it is also valid that we share truth about the dead if they were in fact abusers, which is what was being talked about earlier here; that we have been told not to speak ill of the dead when they WERE (unlike in your case) abusers.
Does that clarify?
Hugs, Darlene


And I give myself credit. The old me would have responded to her angrily, she could have cried another set of fake tears, made ME out to be the bully to my father, and been accused of ruining Christmas. My father could have given me the “Your mother, she has had such a hard life” speech, and tried to shame me for reacting.
But I didnt. Unfortunately, my body processed that into headache, and loss of vision. Which makes sense to me. I didnt want to be witness to all of the ugliness on what should have been a fun and festive day. And if those women were still with us, it sure would have been.


P.S. It feels odd that I need to defend myself here…………..



You don’t have to defend yourself here. I hope that I clarified myself in comment # 122

Hugs, Darlene


Ok, thanks for clarifying. I am like, sobbing here, and have to pull myself together and go to work. It is not really how I took what you said, but just realizing how much I miss these people who are gone, and how much less fun and special things are with them gone. Things seem to be meaningless. I wanted to emulate them and have a happy family, but God didnt send me children. I know he sent me other things and I am blessed.
I apologize if I offended anyone you or anyone else on the site.
Have a peaceful day, all!



Darlene, I’m coming into this conversation a little late in the day, but this concept of honoring parents is one very important to me. My wife and I (Christina Enevoldsen of Overcoming Sexual Abuse) had to take a stand with her parents, calling them out when they lied. The only response we got was, “You’re not honoring us as parents.” Since they are pastors, and since I am a pastor, I had to take the time to answer that accusation from a biblical perspective. My plan is to write more about it in the near future, but I think what I found is important here. First, the general direction of the comments above are, I believe, correct. You can’t simply allow abusive behavior to go unchallenged and have any real hope of ever getting free of it. The problem is that when people throw scripture into the discussion, there is a feeling that to challenge anything is somehow going against God. However, I believe that there is a prevalent misunderstanding of scripture. “Honor” is not the same thing as “obedience.” In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the words translated “honor” have the root idea of weight. To honor something is to give weight to it. That means that to honor your parents, you have to give weight to their influence on your life. They will influence who you are more than anyone else in your life. To give weight to that means to recognized the level of influence, and if it is good, embrace it as a strength and build on it. If it is abusive and dysfunctional, however, honoring that influence means to recognize that you need to acknowledge it and take steps to change it before it does permanent harm to you. That often means disobeying your parents when you recognize how bad they are to you. That is honoring their influence.


I have wanted to send you hugs all day but my internet went down right after my last comment. I finally got my phone to work in the back end!! I understand your tears!!
Hugs Darlene

Hi Don
Welcome to EFB
This is excellent! Thank you so much for adding your voice and expertise. I will add a proper comment when I get my internet back!
Hugs Darlene


Mimi ~ #113 … It amazes me how this seems to hit so many of us when we’re in our 40’s especially; some earlier, some later – but on average, its the 40’s. I am 46 myself and I was 34 when I chose to not have my mother in my life anymore. It really was debilitating. And just like you, God is the one who showed me the truth about my mother – her toxicity, her deceitfulness, her insidiousness, … you get the gist, I’m sure.

Mimi, I’ve been in that dark place as well. Like you, you look at the meds in the cupboard and you swear they are calling you my name. I will have periods sometimes – that can last for days where I cry uncontrollably. It’s awful because although my dear husband tries to understand, he really cannot get it. But I love that he tries and he is my biggest advocate!

I came across a study some years ago that a Christian did on ‘do we honour abusive parents?’ … the short of it was, ‘No.’ At least not in the way we were taught. What I mean by that is what I shared above – I can ‘honor’ her by not making the mistakes she made. I can choose to be a better mother and wife. And if that means not having her in my life to do it – then, so be it. In this case, there is no way she could be in my life when she continues to make lame excuses for how she treated me, while also saying at the same time that because she’s my mother she can treat me anyway she wants to and I’d still be required to ‘honor’ her, which really meant that I was required to ‘worship’ her; I was required to drop my life whenever she wanted me to and ‘service’ her – while getting abused the whole time.

I haven’t been commenting, but reading, for a bit – just because so much has been going on and last week triggers were set so much that I was a complete wreck. This week has been better – and the result of this hard week is a lesson to me to call people on their sh*t! It’s hard doing that, I grew up not being allowed to confront – to do so was considered, you ready, …. ‘disrespectful.’ Isn’t that friggin’ ridiculous!?

(Oh, crap! My little guy called from his friend’s place, he’s feeling sick … gotta go pick him up … be back later!)


Darlene ~ #116 – thank you! I have to be reminded of this often it seems. I am still reverting back to ‘protecting her reputation’ for some reason – and she’s the one who abused me. The things I do that I said is a way to honour her, is really just me honouring myself.

I love being asked thought provoking questions – it sure helps the rewiring process! Thank you!


Darlene ~ love post #117 – beautifully said … and very much the reminder I needed! I find that when my life gets busy, my healing and ‘rewiring of the brain’ gets put off and some of that old thinking creeps in again. So true about the love stuff.


Sorry – in relation to the above comment … that was #116 – whoops! Darlene – do you mind if I quote you (this post #116 – like on Facebook or on my blog)??


… love #117 too!!


#118 – been there! My mother often used that line – that they ‘didn’t have the resources then.’ I think I shared somewhere else on the forum to a phrase like that, saying, “What?! You mean they didn’t know what love was? Really??!!”

Goes to show – that its all excuses … it’s all excuses.

#125 – Janie – its hard sometimes. There are times I miss my family but in my case, they rejected me which is different. It is hard missing those we loved even when they are living or dead. {hugs} Please know you are not alone … and after reading your posts, you have to know that I wasn’t at all offended. If you can’t let it out here, where can we?? I know for me, if not for this site, … well … let’s just say, I don’t even want to think about it. 🙂

#126 – Don, I sure hope we hear more!! I love what you shared here – it gives a much clearer picture on what scripture means about ‘honouring’ a parent! God bless you!

I LOVE THIS SITE! What would I be … WHERE would I be without you guys!!?? 🙂


One of the most shocking things that I learned in this process is that people lie. Even Leaders lie. The truth is twisted to enable people to get the control over other people that they seek. And the victims of those lies will teach other people those same lies! I had to think about all the bible studies that I had been to and how many lies that I had been taught. Bible verses all twisted to use guilt and shame to make everyone comply. Coming out of that fog was huge and surreal. When I began to see how those twisted teachings worked I was disgusted.
(and this would be another blog post!)

Thank you for chiming in on these comments about the dreaded “honor your mother and father” and the false teaching that goes along with that. I really hope that everyone comes back to your comment #126 ~ to read it.
Hugs, Darlene


I just published a new post;
The new post is called “Understanding What Abuse IS and Recognising Abusers”
This new posts contains links to government accepted and legal definitions of abuse and neglect. Before I knew what abuse was I didn’t know what an abuser really was either. This post is about that huge turning point in my life.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene ~ (#134) … Too much! I was just thinking about this the other day too – how the ‘victims of those lies will teach other people those same lies!’

I don’t know how many lies my mother told me that weren’t true … but she also told them to others who believed her lies without them seeming to know they were lies. There is one lie that comes to mind – it was when my mother set me up, telling people that I was able to speak Indonesian really well (I lived there as a kid) – and I never did. I knew only the bare minimum to get by. But she made me believe it – she was that convincing. All it did was set me up for humiliation! Complete and utter humiliation!

And even in the faith – lies do get told. My husband were very briefly attending a non-denominational ‘Word of Faith’ church … and did we ever get told lies. A lot of manipulation and they used emotion and hype to do it. It was a means of control as well as swindling folk out of a lot of money. Coming out of that was painful – but we buckled down, studied and made sure we knew the truth so as to not be deceived again. I often think now that we’ve gone so much the other way that we seem too nitpicky. But you know, when you’ve been deceived you go to great lengths to protect yourself – and it doesn’t matter the kind of deception either, it could be any deception. Once we come to knowledge of the truth – we always tend to be more on guard, more aware, more keen to the working of deceptive people and their deceptive, insidious ways. And that’s not a bad thing. 🙂


oops … *my husband AND I *


Many Thanks Darlene.

I see my parents through out this article. Especially my mother,she has apologised as she accepts that she caused Me the oldest daughter so much damage. She accepts that she saw herself in me and didn’t want me to be like her. So she beat me mentally,pyshcially and emotionally..Her excuse was that she never received love so didn’t know how to give it. Like that was a proper excuse. In that case you think she would understand what her parents did to her and what my father done to her.

However she refuses to listen to me or what I have to say. She has apologised and that’s the end of that. Lets all pretend to get along now…and that’s supposed to make me feel better. Obviously I cant do this, as it brings up too much rage in me.. Which I am working on.

I think it is hilarious that your half sister thought she could get involved. However its the norm I think in dysfunctional families, everybody is defending the system however they don’t know what or why only that they should.

I feel its time to remove myself from the fog of uncertainty and doubt. And finally facing things as they are not how I wished or how I have been told they are. I can feel it inside, whenever I doubt myself, ignore myself,listen to there lies. I feel a part of me slowly die inside and creep back in to depression, until I finally listen and pay attention than it lifts away.

Im learning slowly but surely, sometimes I slip back to the old ways and a dark cloud hangs over me until I realise and pull myself back.
Love Always


I was so happy to read your comment. It helps clarify so much of the implications that many abusive people use to their advantage (scripturally). Thank you for your insight and wisdom on what Honor really means.

It’s confusing and tough to hear from God on this when a controlling influence is ever present, and using scripture to make demands.

It sickens me really. It makes me sick that my mother would “use” God in this way. I have downloaded a book to my phone called “Twisted Scripture”. I have barely gotten into it, but it seems like it will be informative so far.

Thanks for you comment again. It’s very helpful to get other opinions and insight on this.

Peace and Hope,


You said, “I can feel it inside, whenever I doubt myself, ignore myself,listen to there lies. I feel a part of me slowly die inside and creep back in to depression, until I finally listen and pay attention than it lifts away.”

I needed to hear this today. This reminder that hanging around in that state of limbo and uncertainty is a path to being discontent/depressed. I forget that I have to FIGHT those lies and really pay close attention to the messages I allow into my mind. If I don’t stay on top of it at all times, I will slide right back to the old ways.

I love your strength and wisdom about this and I’m thankful for your comment. It was a great reminder that I slip back if I’m not vigilant in my thoughts.

I have had some contact in the past few weeks also. I’ve come to know that it was affecting me more than it should have. I let it bring me down and halt my progress momentarily. Now that some time has passed since the contact, I’m doing better. This proves to me that, at least for now, and for quite some time to come, I need distance and no contact. Any little shred of contact puts me into confusion and doubt, guilt, etc. And, just as you describe, the cloud comes back. It’s really tough to describe that cloud feeling, but it’s there. It just darkens my days.

Anyhow, I admire your strength and your courage is contagious!! Thank you!
Peace and Hope,


Hi Rizae
Lies get told everywhere by manipulative and controlling people. It is part of how they accomplish what they want. Kids are told that when they were babies “such and such” happened and who is going to argue with that? What about when people tell other people “I was praying and God told me to tell you……..” talk about manipulation! People will use whatever they think will work to cover their butts and achieve their goals. I qualify everything I say that I don’t know first hand with ” well I was told … but I wasn’t there”. Just in case I was lied to. I was lied to so much and within the stories that people told as innocent little twists of the truth or embellishment. but they are NOT truth anymore. We live accepting lies and then we don’t know how to recognize them OR the truth.

I found church one of the worst places for lies being passed on to others or taught to others to be passed on. The cycle of lies. I got in so many arguments in bible studies that I can’t believe I wasn’t kicked out! And it was all because the teacher had been falsely taught and she was teaching in the way she had been taught. The final straw for me was when I went to a ladies bible study and the older women were mentoring the younger women (I was in the middle of the age group) about submissiveness to their husbands. I saw all this CRAP being passed on to these young wives! Crap that MEN had taught in the first place so that they could get away with whatever they wanted to in the marriage. They taught the woman to teach this stuff to other women! And none of it was really in the bible it was all twisted to say whatever gave these guys the most control over their wives. ugg.
Ok, there is my little rant for today! People lie.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sinitta
wow. This is another problem! Some parents think that all they have to do is apologize but the fact that she admitted it, then made an excuse for it, and then SHUT the door on you again is NOT an apology. That to me proves that there is no regret, but more justification for what she did. (that is what I call a “truth leak” )
Thank you for bringing this up! It is a very important part of the healing process. and YAY that you are facing things as they are now. That is where I found my freedom, wholeness and recovery!
Hugs, Darlene


You said that it sickens you that your mom would use God in this way; yes. it sickens me that parents will use whatever they can to justify whatever they do. That is the fog that we are coming out of. That is the truth that sets us free. To see those lies without seeing the excuse behind them. To validate the damage that stuff caused us. That is where the healing is.
Hugs, Darlene



I’m not religious myself and have never read the bible at all but my father was the son of a mennonite preacher–fairly rigid from what I gather and I’ve known my dad to struggle with many issues concerning religion and his father, so the misuse of religion often grates at me as well. I liked what Don said about honouring not meaning obedience. I have obviously no expertise whatsoever but I wonder if it can’t be interpreted as speaking more about honouring the souls of our parents, as opposed to honouring their words, choices, actions, etc. Can you not tie this up also with the idea of loving the sinner but not the sin? For example, calling someone out for their lies would be honouring their souls, would it not? Because lies must corrupt the soul, right? So therefore in protecting the lies, you are not honouring their souls. You honour the God in their heart/soul by bringing light to the truth. Also, I think honouring would mean doing it in a respectful way. I.e. caring for that soul… So, though I’m not religious, that is essentially my ethic whenever I’m trying to address someone who has done me wrong. It’s an ideal I’m not sure I’ve always met but I try to. Be firm with the truth but care for the person inside them… It’s like in this post, where Darlene recognizes her half-sister is a victim and obviously cares for her as such but still tells it like it is, or her daughter’s statement that it is more rude and wrong to let someone disrespect you and your loved ones… after all, what does disrespecting someone do to the state of your soul and your relationship with God? Seems to me you are helping and honouring them by speaking the truth, whether they see it or not… Anyway, those are my thoughts, as the heathen that I am 😉


It’s unfortunate that NarcMothers often have Enabling Fathers (EF) in the mix. And you have to No Contact the EF as well.

Thank goodness my father wasn’t an EF – he was more emasculated but he fought against my NM – eventually she almost killed him.

Daughter of Narcissistic Mothers

Thank you, always – for this fantastic site Darlene


Thanks Mimi. For me personally taking a massive step back from my family has helped me. I feel like a burden and weight has been lifted off my shoulders, that I was completely unaware of. I changed my mobile number deleted them off my Facebook account. Of course that alone caused negative remarks which I don’t care about

Anyway baby steps towards a better life. The stronger I get I totally move towards stronger healthier people. Rather than the old dysfunction,however in order to do this I needed to start with my family and not just “shut up and put up” any more.

Seriously listen to your feelings though Mimi,and honour them. They are giving you an important message. I think the ‘cloud”is telling you to take a step back from them. Anyway it gets easier I hope.Actually I know that to be true. You know taking one step at a time and relearning new ways to parent myself

Lots of Love


Hi. I had to comment even though it’s been a while. Sinitta wrote in 146 “I feel like a burden” which I guess means a burden to the family. I don’t know if it’s age or maturity or awareness or what BUT I’ve made a major shift in my perspective. I used to feel like a burden to my family, and a burden on the planet. What did I do to take on the notion that I was a burden? Nothing. It was what was done to me that put such a burden on me that I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. The shift is that I realized THEY are a burden to me! Their dysfunction, lies, betrayals, and unity with evil burden my heart and soul. So, I’m done with them.


Hi Lynn
This is awesome! Thanks for sharing this very very important shift. That is the truth that set me free.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Sinitta! That term “baby steps” always brings me to that movie, “What About Bob”. Fun movie if you haven’t seen it.

Anyhow, yes, baby steps to freedom, I agree. Lots of self reminders!! The further I get away from mother, the better I am. The freedom feels good!!



[…] is within us and therefore the failure in the relationship is on our shoulders instead of on the shoulders of the abusive parents. And the loyalty to our parents that was drilled into us as our only hope for survival and […]
This is the newest post on the topic of not being loved by your own mother.
Hugs, Darlene


My father was very passive and he only spoke if he was wanted to critical or make fun of me or someone else and then have a good laugh and if I got upset or anyone else, then we were just being too sensitive. All my life I been told that I am too sensitive, my mom would accuse me of having crocodile tears, fake tears to get my way, It was more of me being afraid to cry and trying not to have them come out, I got beat for crying. It is a wonder I can still cry today, my theraphist who was my godsend in life, beside a best friend who told me the truth and never prettied it up and was flat out honest both saved me, they opened my eyes and said Kimberly you can cry and you should but I couldnt, and still to this day i have to hear a song like you are beauitful by christina augerialla just to be able to have a river of tears, that song if played in a public place is a danger to me, I will cry and I wont be able to stop!
I think my dad being so passive and my mom so violent and possessive did things to my mind that cant be fully repaired.


Hi Kimberly
I have trouble crying too. There was a lot of damage done to me when I was told my emotions were wrong, and that me feelings were invalid. (But that doesn’t get in my way! we can progress without tears, although I wish I could cry sometimes. It might come back one day!)
thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Everyone ~ I have just published a new post about Passive Abuse and how the message I got from passive abuse was the same as the message I got from more obvious abuse. I use my father as an example. (the only reason I don’t share much about my father is because there isn’t much to share; he didn’t bother himself with me too much; and that is passive abuse) I look forward to the comments on the new post;
Here is the link ~ “Emotionally Unavailable Father; The message of passive abuse”
Hugs, Darlene


My family on my dad’s side were emotionally stoic people. They believed that you shouldn’t show any weakness. They were obsessed with what everyone thought of them as well. My dad was emotionally distant as well. He has never once shown pride for anything I have done. I was always worried for a while what they thought of me, until I had counseling for depression and anxiety and my counselor said “Why the hell do you care what they say?” and I was like…uhh your right. I had a huge emotional outburst at my dad that year, and asked him to name one time he was proud of me and all he could say was “I’ve been proud of you for a lot of things.” But he couldn’t name one time in particular. After that I just really stopped caring what they think. I feel like I have my own identity now that doesn’t conform to their standards.


Welcome to EFB ~ Yes, sounds so much like my Dad. It hurts but the truth set me free ~ I don’t think my identity would ever be acceptable to them because it is mine and they wanted me to be what they wanted ~ which wasn’t ME. 🙂
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


It has been a shock to me to realize that my own father was emotionally unavailable. My father the “nice man everyone likes, helps kids with the farm animals at the fair, blah blah blah” was emotionally unavailable. I wasn’t in to the farming thing, so he could not talk to me unless it was filtered through my Mom.

When I was 25, I was offered a job on the other side of the country. I was SO EXCITED about driving across the country all by myself. I was EXCITED! But NOOOOO……. my mom has to “invite” herself to accompany me on that trip. Took my mom 25 more years before I got the “real” story. Apparently Dad had insisted that she go with me. But NO, Dad couldn’t tell me this directly. He told Mom, and then Mom manipulated the situation to get herself “invited” to go along. I always KNEW there was a “real” story. Just took Mom 25 years to tell me.

Dad did not like doing “parental” stuff like discipline. Mom had to do that. My father was NOT a “parent.”


[quote=Darlene] and they wanted me to be what they wanted ~ which wasn’t ME. :)[/quote]

I felt this way my entire life. That my parents were trying to MAKE me be “this other person” that I couldn’t be.


I did not cry at my father’s funeral. My sisters got mad at me. They said, “you don’t have to be strong.” What they don’t know is….. I was NOT being “Strong.” I just felt nothing.


I so wish people would not use facebook which is an open book as a weapon to confront other people.. this not only is not everyone else’s business it was not right for your half sister to do that.
If she had healthy boundaries, Your half sister would have confronted you about the issues you have with your dad. She had no part is the problems between you and him period. Nor does she understand it fully because she was not there. I noticed she never said how he had been there for her. Nor the things he had done for her.
The choice you made for your dad not to stay at your house was just that your choice. and it is one thing dealing with family out in the public eye but it is another to have them come into your home and leave your kids open to them fully.One of your major jobs as a parent is to protect from abusive people. which you did great job:)
What also made me think, is why did your dad did not address the issue? It is always that way he talks to her and manipulates her to do his dirty work.. Trying to leave his hands clean in all of this..
At my moms funeral I invited my siblings to it. But I did not invite them to come stay in my home either. I only get along with one sibling. None of them came to it…how said is that.


Darlene, I am fairly new to your blog, so this was a new story for me to read. Your stories come right out of my own life. I am so amazed at how similar our stories are, how you describe my life so perfectly, and explain the intricacies of a dysfunctional family.

My own sister did very similar things in my life. My parents are both passive-aggressive and my father is a narcissist. They twist the truth, triangle, and live a life of continual judging others.

Like you, I eventually came to see the truth of my family. It was very, very painful. I too had to disengage. My siblings have no contact with me and, like you, assume that I am poisoning the whole family with my “lies.”

Thankfully, I am now free from their dysfunction and have found a new family through my 12-step recovery group. This new family provides the loving support, kindness, and acceptance that I never, ever got in my family of origin.

Thank you for this blog that you write. I know it can be painful to put the truth out there, but it is very helpful to those who are just coming to see the truth about their lives.

You are loved by your family here on “Emerging from broken.”


All this time reading Darlene’s blog, I have been focusing on my mother. I’m now seeing my Father’s part in it. My mom constantly said “your dad wanted kids really bad.” Then under another breath, she would say, “Your Dad wanted me to raise the children while he worked to earn the money.” Typical 50’s attitude. My father was unable to talk to me. My mom said, “you had plenty of opportunities to bond with your father.” Um, I was a kid, how come *I* had to make the effort? Why didn’t *he* make the effort to get to know me?

I went to a counselor in my 20’s. The counselor said, “Your parents didn’t validate you.” At the time, I thought it was psychobabble. Now I see the counselor was right.


Hey Darlene! Excellent article! I too am grateful that I don’t live in the fog anymore and it’s through witnessing my sister’s behaviour that I realize how far I have come. I am close to my nieces and I see signs of the dysfunction within them and do my best to serve as a model of recovery.

I do my best to pass on resources and explain that they have choices to live a better life. It’s not an easy task when I have my sister believing I am a trouble maker and causing a rift between her and her daughters. It just places me back into the old patterns that I am fighting to escape from. The only difference now is I have better skills to deal with this and I can witness for myself how I too was a part of it all. It’s very disturbing once you leave the fog and come to the realization what you’ve really been a part of. It’s all part of recovery and I’m just grateful I found my own path.

I have learned to accept that not everyone will choose the path towards healing and for those people I have compassion, all I ask from them is to stay off my path. Don’t tear down all my good work because you lack the faith in yourself to do your own work. All the resources we need to help ourselves are there for everyone, it’s up to each and everyone of us to choose them.

Thank you for this article Darlene, it’s just another step for my healing, Big Hugs!


Hi Ginger
I think that my dad thrives off everyone else doing all these things ‘for him’. I think what my half sister did ‘backfired’ on her because she didn’t realize that my kids all knew that I said my dad couldn’t stay with us anymore AND why and because my Dad pretended not to know why. As I said, she is a victim of his as well.
p.s. the fact that your siblings didn’t come to your mothers funeral is a bit truth leak isn’t it?!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Amy
The biggest victory is what you said “Thankfully, I am now free from their dysfunction” ~ YES
hugs, Darlene


Yes, seeing the truth is the key! And there is so much of it to see!
thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Hi Lora
YAy ~ thanks for sharing your victories!
Hugs, Darlene


First, kudos for speaking your mind to your Aunt. Never doubt speaking your own truth. I hesitated when my middle “sister” (I use this term loosely–I am the youngest) friended me on Facebook. I am almost 50 but, the little girl in me who has never been accepted by her though somehow THIS time would be different. LOL I didn’t invite her to my first wedding because of her behavior and although I was married 27 years I was in nc for over a decade due to her behavior and life choices. During my divorce instead of supporting me her response was “have you thought about this.” REALLY, she hated my ex-husband but, still chose to judge me for leaving.
Then during my divorce I was verbally attacked, called a liar etc. during a phone call. She called me psychotic for being on Facebook and Google. I have had a lot of academic success and writing success and so if you Google my name of course I come up! So, her arrival on Facebook was hypocritical but, expected. I made a reference to an Aloe drink that was funny and not horridly appropriate and immediately received an message saying she was going to unfriend me. I finally stood my ground and told her I did not, nor would not edit myself for her or anyone. She continued and abusive tirade that mentioned “we will never be close” I jumped on that chance. I said “why would I want to be close to someone who is that judgmental of me.” I am now blocked 🙂
Katie, it took me almost 50 years to stand up to this monster. She has lied about me, treated my children horridly, said my son was “the ugliest baby she had ever seen,” etc. She is the one with reams of skeletons and secrets. Never let someone make you doubt yourself. Your Aunt should have understood your anger and respected that you chose to speak the truth, from the heart without editing.
I wish you and everyone peace. I would like to say that I didn’t cry with the exchange betwixt my sister and I but, I did. Not for long. The little girl that never understood why she hated me is who can’t reconcile reality with the dream of having a loving sister.


Hi Sheila
I passed your comments on to Katie.
Welcome to EFB and thank you for sharing part of your story here.
hugs, Darlene


Dearest Darlene 🙂
Nearly 20 yrs ago I received the best advice of my life. My pastor’s wife suggested I distance myself my toxic parents and brothers instead of continually allowing them to torture my mind. Since then I’ve spared my son and myself years of misery. Contact isn’t 100% cut off but it’s extremely limited much to my brother’s & my father’s frustration. My ‘system’ isn’t without flaws. I still managed to accumulate shoe box packed tight with letters from my father insulting me and attacking my son until I burned them; and my brother had succeeded to come between me and significant other(s) and attempted to take my share of inheritance our mother left us (he failed). The same brother angrily cross examined me on my experiences of being molested; yelling at me that he knows others whose “parents ****ed them but they got over it!” Twenty years later, I systematically enforce my boundaries & I’m thrilled that through my example my 22 year old son enforces boundaries when dealing with them as well.
I thought as time went on their relentless hunger to control would lessen. My father is still angry & perverted at 96 years old. It’s not kind to hope someone will pass away but I know I will be relieved when that day arrives. My father and my brother ‘feed’ off each other then turn their attention to me and my son.
Have you found that after a toxic parent passes away that toxic children with similar traits loss their steam? or does the dynamic remain in place? As time passes and one’s mind clears I realized each time on the rare occasion I see this brother he handles me roughly. We were at the same home on Saturday 10/12/2013 where a relative was in town for a short visit. Before getting in my car he comes in for a hug and ‘I love you’ & I replied with ‘I love you’ just make a fast exit but THAT wasn’t good enough for him. Before breaking his embrace he forcefully grabbed the back of my neck and shoved his face within an inch of mine and said, “I REALLY LOVE YOU.” I feel sickened to describe it but I can’t keep it inside. On the other hand I feel safe in knowing it will likely be a very long time before I’ll cross paths with him again. At least I have that.
Your insight is wonderful and truly a Blessing.


Hi Sue,
Welcome to EFB ~ I have found that the death of a parent changes nothing when it comes to a sibling who has learned to abuse in the abusive/dysfunctional family system where they have been taught that the one who has the most power wins. The only thing that changes a person is the realization that abuse is wrong. The lust for power over others is a crazy thing when the one who has it believes that it is ‘love’ and proof of worth when others bow down to them or fear them or react to them in fear. That is where the controller/abuser gets their self-esteem. I know that is sick.
Thank you for your comments,
Hugs, Darlene


My sister does this very same thing to me. I have gone no contact now a few different times and I keep ending up back in their fog, but each time I tread a little lighter on the eggshells I know are still there. The last time I did this, just this past summer after my beloved dog passed away (the only realy family I ever had), a few months went by and I got an email from my sister (who is 33, manipulative and abusive herself, always my mother’s ally and who still lives at home where mommy takes care of her and she gets to be the ‘golden child’). This speaks to the point you made in another post about how one can have narcissitic tendencies without actually being narcissist because clearly my mother can turn this off depending on what child she is dealing with. My mother doesn’t respect me, she claims I dont respect her but she equates ‘respect’ with compliance. She usually doesn’t even regard that I HAVE feelings at all on her own but this belief is compounded when I accidentally step on my sister’s little toes. Ultimately I think its really all about my mother anyway. Keeping my sister happy, keeps her mouth shut and when her mouth is shut, my mother can pretend is all is right with the world. All my mother has to do to get what she wants (false harmony, compliance) is to give my sister everything that she wants. Simple enough I suppose.

The letter my siser sent me this (copy/pasted exactly as written): “are you going to not talk to everyone forever because i feel like this is stupid and juvenile. i’m not writing this out of anger or to piss you off, i seriously just want to tell you how i feel. you used to not talk to everyone only when there was a fight, but lately you stop talking to everyone for months and for no apparent reason. i feel like our entire “family” is effed up enough without our tiny 3 person family being broken up all the time too. believe it or not, i miss my sister. i miss being able to talk to you and joke with you and make fun of people with you. i had a lot of fun when we went to MSU and we were all just sitting in a damn parking lot. i had fun because we were all together, which is rare, and we were all getting along, which is even more rare. that time in the parking lot though, makes me feel like this not talking crap is even more useless. summer is coming and i’d love to be able to do stuff with my sister. i love her and i miss her. even if she doesn’t feel the same.”

I replied to her with (only a laundry list of grievances I’ve wasted my time expressing time and again was removed from this text):

“I’m sorry but I don’t feel the same because I’m not treated the same. When you two figure that out, maybe things will change. Until then, I’m sorry but no, I’m not interested. I’m quite fearless and very fine alone. I can’t count on anyone anyway. All you do is throw weaknesses and mistakes in my face. All you both do is blame me for everything. I’m tired of it all. So it has to be goodbye”.

She then replied with: “I am sorry that you feel that way. Just remember that Dad is the one that decided not to talk to anyone too.”

My parents divorced in 1998 and my father is an alcholic. Now in his 60s, he refuses to get help for his problem and last I heard (neither me nor my sister have spoken to him but a handful of times over the last 15 years) he had gone no contact with my uncle and grandmother (who had tried repeatedly to help him in every way…enabling with money, shelter, etc until it wore them out too and he got angry and disappeared). He inadvertantly 9nvalidated MY reason for going NC with them.

They bully me and treat me like I don’t matter. I am ‘asked’ by my mother to constantly accommodate my sister’s whims, no matter how foolish or childish they may be and no matter if they inconvenience or harm ME. I am expected to open the bathroom door or allow her to enter, even while I am showering so she can ‘get what she needs’ (often ‘what she needs’ is hairspray). But just because it is posed as a question, doesn’t mean it is. The expectation is that I don’t have a choice. If I say ‘no’, I am ‘not cooperating’, ‘causing a fight’ and ‘being childish’. And if I acquiesce, which I do less and less frequently these days, I sacrifice my own needs/wants for my sister (and ultimately my mother becuase when I say ‘no’ to my sister, she runs and gets my mother who ‘asks’.

I am treated with disregard in every fashion. It’s okay for them to run hours late and not even have the courtesy to call me (‘oh, we were late, get over it, it’s not a big deal’) but ye if I run 20 minutes late and tell them, I’m told I’m irresponsible for having done so and they leave/eat without me! It’s okay for them to ‘forget’ something but I am ‘careless’ or ‘irresponsible’ if I do. I was even told that when I was unfairly fired from a job because one woman who didnt like me wielded more power than she should have, that it was MY OWN fault (but when my sister was NOT HIRED by an employer because the interviewer didn’t like HER, of course it was THEIR fault).

In the letter I copied above, it’s clear that neither my sister or my mother think THEY have any responsibility to the health of our family. THEY discredit me enough to compare me to my alcoholic father and think I’ve left the situation for ‘no reason’ despite the fact that I’ve told them time and again WHAT the reason IS. I am seen as the one who is responsible for the total relationship and therefore also for breaking up what’s left of it because I chose to stop sacrificing myself to them.

Darlene, your blog has truly changed my life. I think I was halfway there, as I stopped ‘taking’ the abuse some years ago and instead created a firestorm of more because I stood up to it. But my mistake was that I didnt stand up in the way I should have though. I stood up by lashing back. It’s hard when the very people who are supposed to love you the most, don’t and you can see it. I see now that by lashing back, I was only giving them what they so desperately needed in the first place from me: proof. Proof that I am ‘the bad one’, ‘the problem’, the ‘unreasonable one’, the ’cause’ of all the familial unrest. They have also painted me as this to other relatives who listen to my poor victim mother whine about what an ungrateful, horrible, selfish, child she has in me. It never occured to me though, that she people she finds the most sympathy with are her own sisters who were raised by my equally abusive and dysfunctional grandmother. I am always told exactly as you wrote: ‘that no matter how nasty my mother was to me, I still loved her’. And now I know that they didnt love her, they FEARED her.

Thank you Darlene. Thank you for having the courage to write this blog. Thank you for making it searchable and accessable to people like me who were looking for ‘more’ (maybe not answers or validation per se, but ‘something’). Thank you more than I can ever say.


A Reply for Kelly A’s post:

I was at your point 20 years ago. A little trick in thinking that often helped me when I started to distance &/or break off my relationship with my relatives was to develop the mindset prior to making an unavoidable phone call or sending obligatory greeting card was to treat the whole event as quickly-executed, emotionally-detached, but cordial business transaction then I moved rapidly into an activity I enjoyed with people who respected me. Moving through it quickly minimized opportunity for them to aggressive/manipulative. Being cordial often times threw them off balance because they weren’t prepared for that either.

To this day I still receive letters from my father who is in his 90’s informing me that he destroyed my last card/letter/package because my “tone was antiseptic” or “very newsy” which to translate into his terms was that whatever I communicated didn’t include stories of misery, slander or feeding into an argument he’s carried for decades.

The term “managing” the relationships would suit it to. It’s like filing taxes – just hold your nose and before you know it you are done with dealing it for another 12 months. Like with so many things with practice most of the time I can have a short transaction with my father or brothers and come out the side with very minimal damage for two reasons:
1) I never give with much time including NEVER hand over control of locations or circumstances.
2) Since the ordeal is a ‘business transaction’ I am calmer therefor my thinking is clearer so I can anticipate their reactions then choose usually NOT to respond or even cut them off if necessary.

I agree EFB is a sanctuary! Love it love it love it.

~Sue in MN


Sue, thank you. I really think that I recently decided that for myself in the last few days but reading your comment just now sort of sealed the deal. And I like that term: ‘antiseptic’. I’m going to adopt that attitude in dealing with them. I have always had an ‘I know what you’re doing’ approach to this whole thing, but my mistake was in trying to make THEM see it and in letting them see me upset BY it. In lashing back at them when they both attack me, I gave them the very thing they were after. ‘Proof’. ‘Oh, look how she acts, look at what she says and we just want to tell her change because its not us…WE get along perfectly fine’ (of course they do! The golden child and the narcissist ALWAYS get along ‘fine’).

In any case, yes. Like filing taxes. We were all recently invited to Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle’s house (my FATHER’s brother, by the way). Our last falling out which was on my birthday (Nov 1) and she did not call me. When I called her out on it, she replied, ever the victim: ‘well you said that you were going out’. I replied, ‘that’s tomorrow’. Then she said: ‘well you said you wouldn’t answer anyway’. So you just DONT CALL your OWN DAUGHTER on her BIRTHDAY?! I did say that but that’s not the point. You do it anyway and its MY CHOICE if I pick up or not. I spent the last 16 years telling my drunken father the SAME THING and HE sure never listened! He called anyway and not once in 16 years did I pick up (not that he deserves a medal either but at least he TRIED)! I dont think she liked this because she couldn’t refute it. So it became ‘oh I can never do right by you’ and blah blah you know the drill. So after that, I had decided that I wasn’t going to go to dinner ‘because they were there’. Then it dawned on me: why should I be the one kept away?! Realistically, they’re MY family anyway, not my mother’s. I share actual genetic material with MY uncle and MY grandmother. Why should my sister and mother keep me from enjoying myself with people I am related to? So I changed my mind. I AM going. I am going regardless of whether or not THEY are going. And I told my uncle exactly as you said: ‘it’s just a business transaction. I don’t have to deal with them, I just have to be respectfully cordial to them which I will be. I’m not a child. Contrary to what she tells people, I’m not interested in this big brawl. My beef is with HER and my sister and how THEY treat me. All I have to do is smile politely and pass the potatoes’. He laughed but it’s true. It’s not a contest or a war. If anything it’s a crusade. One I won’t win with them but I don’t need them to validate me anymore. I validate me. Healthy, supportive, emotionally whole friends and other family members validate me.

In Decemember the three of us will be together again at a concert in NYC. It was my idea to buy the tickets and while we each paid for our own, I have them because they’re on my credit card and it was my invite for the presale. After the most recent incident (I call them incidents because they aren’t ‘fights’ to me. I’m not trying to ‘win’ anything and I am not after anything I don’t rightly deserve for any reason other than that I am a human being on this earth too) I thought about selling THEIR tickets and sending them the money. Then I rethought about it. This isn’t MY problem, this is THEIR problem. I am going to the concert anyway. They can come and sit next to me OR they can be bothered with selling their own tickets if they can’t handle that. I’m certainly not going to skip an event that was MY idea and MY plan to avoid them and why should I burden myself with the hassle of selling THEIR tickets? Come or don’t come, I didn’t pay to see YOU…

I couldn’t agree more about the neutral territory thing. Each time I went NC with them, when I was ready to try again (silly me), I did so with just a bit more trepidation than the last time. I stopped sleeping over their house. I stopped inviting my sister to anything (I got a lot of flack for this from my mother too but I’m 35 years old and not obligated to entertain her. Her lack of friends is HER problem, not MY problem…funny though, she never seems obligated to take me along..). I stopped riding with them if we all went somewhere. I wouldn’t take whatever my mother wanted to give me (‘I bought this for you’, etc) and I wouldn’t let her pay for me. I tried to eliminate ANYTHING she might use as leverage later. The fewer opportunities they had on THEIR TURF, the less they jumped on me. She would NEVER say the things she says and do the things she does in the presence of others. NEVER. The jig would be immediately up. Game over. She needs to do it in private so that I can react as I always have (and even THAT was TAUGHT!) and inadvertantly give her her precious ‘proof’. I’m done ‘proving’ to her that I’m the problem. Now I’m proving to myself that I’m worthy.

Thank you Sue. Thank you Darlene. Thank you EFB.



I love the blog! I had to laugh when your sister said that your dad did the best he could in loving you and love me the best he could according to who? That’s what I always tell people, in what way did my parents try to love us? They tried to list ways “how good parents love their kids,” I told people ‘that’s nowhere near my parents at all!” I don’t know why people waste their time with that nonsense of they tried to love you.

I told people there is no try either you love me or you don’t – why do we always have something in the middle? There is no both either you do or you don’t! My now ex therapist didn’t like that months ago when we discussed it. She told me last week with my parents ‘there must be some like because I do things for them.’ I looked at her which I already explained to her months ago that ‘they used us and I just milk them for the money yet you don’t see anything wrong with parents using their own kids for their own gain.’ I didn’t repeat myself which I felt would have been a waste of time to a gullible therapist/woman anyway!

I am glad I found a blog on father-daughter relationships, I see too many happy stories about them and not enough stories about those who lacked a father. I always spoke a lot about my mom and not enough about my “dad.” Growing up, we never had a real dad. Why is that so shocking for people to hear and not understand is beyond me! As I have said on here, elsewhere, and to other people that my dad married my mom (each other) for the very wrong reasons for producing children. My dad was never in our lives, although, he still had residency in the house because he was the only one who paid the bills. He was always and still is gone 3 weeks at a time and when we moved to AZ (except my siblings only me and parents), he was gone over the weekends and came back Monday when he felt like it.

My mom expects us to care because “he is our dad,” like my sister and I always say why should we care? My sister told me months ago ‘ahhh, all of these years, now he wants to be known as a dad – a father? Why bother now when you are (me) almost 30 yrs old?’ My idiot therapist said ‘well, may be he wants to make up for the lost times.’ I asked her ‘how is making up for the lost times when he won’t admit to any wrongdoing he’s done and still is doing plus still isn’t here with his “family” as he calls it?’ I say that to people all the time and as always no answer from them.

I told her ‘you’re a parent, you do realize by not being there for your kids at all and as they get older – that’s many more years that’s lost.’ She partially agreed with that saying ‘there’s room for your parents to be the kind of parents they should have been if they choose to.’ I said yes, a choice but there are not going to, didn’t you already say that? Which is it?’ I have sensed she contradicted herself several times. My dad has told women he is single and no children, my sister told me growing up before I was born how her, half sister, and brother didn’t care that he was gone.

She told me ‘you know, every child gets upset when their own parents don’t love/want them and isn’t in their lives wholeheartedly; it gets to a point where you just don’t care anymore because nothing will ever change and I grew up with a realization of not ever caring. I am 45 years old, why do I still need to hold onto “mommy and daddy?” How is that helping me now? Those are a lot of years lost, both of them don’t know me like they want to believe.’

Sister said how she is so sick of people telling her that they are your parents and she replied ‘only by DNA not physically, spiritually, and emotionally.’ Now, “that man” may have residency here but how was he involved with me? My parents’ priorities were fighting and threatening one another about money, the past, his whores, frauding the gov, him saying he’s the best dad we ever had, etc. I told therapist and other people where in there did he say anything sincerely and lovingly about us? Everything he said surrounded him and him only yet my ex therapist couldn’t seem to grasp that at all!

He is violent, he got this outrageous temper like he wants to hit you, he’s good at starting fights yet is a coward if you threaten him, threatens you, he got into a fist fight with my sister when she was 16 and the cops believed my parents over (he hit her first which almost caused her to kill him with a big screw driver and mom protected him like always), he would sell his family to the devil or somebody just to get what he wants (god, if that isn’t a narc/sociopath, I certainly don’t know what is), zero responsibilities, accountabilities, and nothing he says is his fault, everything about him only revolves around him! Is it hard for people to understand narcissism?!? He sheds about 1-2 tears and they dry up no problem, has zero empathy, zero love, zero everything about him.

He has threaten me and I told him what I’d do to him. Did anybody step in when I told adults (when I was kid) about what he said? No, that’s a parents way to “toughen their kids,” is what I was told by people! This is the other side which I don’t share with people because again it is embarrassing! This is “how men are,” is what I was told by people. I mean, what is there to say? An absentee father!

He stopped giving out presents, well, his presents were always so bad and screwed up definitely not from the heart. Funny, he don’t mind giving the mistreatment but don’t do it to him because he will get very angry. My dad (mom too) never listens to what I have to say as “children don’t have a place to speak,” oh the child is seen not heard crap! He says I do listen but everything he said or did was agreeable with my mom and talks to me privately claiming he was on my side but didn’t wanna show it in front of mom. All of these years, he plays the devil’s advocate so well which he is 2 faced to people – tells people all kinds of tall tales and smirks behind your back. He has always been very unfair to us, like I told people and ex therapist what fairness? Fairness never existed in this “family” and never will! Again, she was always so dumbfounded. I told her I am almost 30 yrs old, who needs a dad now? She (other people too) think I or my sister are so distraught because of a lack of father that we have “obligations to him,” what obligations? Another guilt trip.

““Your mother, she has had such a hard life” speech” people tried to use that guilt trip on me, but never worked. My dad said something similar to this about my mom going through Jim Crow in the South (found out all 50 states had it not just the South and he grew up in NY) that she is such a closet racist (that is true) blah blah yet he ain’t no better!

He has such women’s issues as they shouldn’t take a man’s job only they should stay home and make babies. My lousy mom has no backbone is such a poor example of a real woman. Long ago, my sister and dad got at it at her old house in CA. He and mom barged into her house during xmas break when I was 16 and had no idea; I thought my sister agreed about coming over for 2 weeks. She didn’t mind that I came over but not our loser parents. She told dad you don’t ever come to my house unannounced and unexpected among other stuff she said. He got defensive saying he will do what he wants and your my daughter. She said oh now, I am your daughter but do it again and I will have no problems having you arrested for trespassing. She told mom this and mom said the same crap that dad told her, sister mom she would have her arrested for trespassing too.

That wasn’t pleasant back then, mom demanded dad he take her back to AZ because of a selfish bitch daughter she has! Yep, the daughters are always the selfish bitches while brother is a king but at times he gets put into the category of being selfish with us too lol.

Hmm, what else about my lousy dad? He is a dead beat, mom and him were doomed on day one of their marriage. I found out from sister that mom told her the first 3 yrs of their marriage didn’t work while mom told me the first 10 years of their marriage worked, which is it? lol Mom claimed they fell in love within 2 weeks, then got married. She went from dead beat number one which is her old boyfriend from high school and dead beat number two my loser dad!

My dad would sit there and make you upset so bad that he is smiling in your face. Mom said threaten him with the cops, no, why can’t you open your damn mouth? Obviously, saying something will never do anything because he will deny it right there saying I don’t know why your so upset while he is drinking tea – seen him do that a lot in my life. Mom can’t say crap because “I don’t know what to do,” is her favorite answer yet I told ex therapist ‘you wanna call that woman having a lot of wisdom at almost 67 yrs old? She clearly has no role in life and never worked hard for anything. She is a user, mooch, and gold digger!’ Again, ex therapist was dumbfounded! Mom should open her damn mouth and say something, quit with the lousy empty threats and put those empty threats into action.

See, that proves that we were never important. Dad made it clear how we were never important in his life, we were born to “be added onto his taxes so he can get more money from the gov,” plus we were “nothing but a burden to him, it’s a woman’s responsibility to raise kids not him.” Told people ‘wow, sounds like a great dad, huh?’ lol Sad, how there are quite a bit of people who see nothing wrong with what they are doing.

I hate going places with him, he made it so miserable. He never wanted to buy me food since he is the one who suggested I go with him, he took my allowance back then to pay for dinner or lunch because “that’s how life works, when your friends take you out they deduct from you,” no they don’t!!! He doesn’t mind spending your money but never spend his, I told him long ago why even give me an allowance? If I didn’t do something right, it was a yelling match coming home upset because I did something wrong at the gas station long ago which is his fault for explicitly explaining it correctly. Mom and him got into it not like it helped or solved the situation anyway. Then, he can’t understand why nobody wanted to go anywhere with him we were all selfish yet again!

His “life teachings” are so poor. Instead of helping, he will just watch you and say ‘that is life showing you how hard it is.’ Look, I can’t pick up this 100lb box (which I can’t) and he said ‘keep letting life hit you hard on the head,’ his fat ass was sitting down! I have told him plenty of times how he is annoying and nobody likes to be around him, ask your other children! He didn’t like that especially about sister and brother as my sister was the evil one poisoning me, brother, and half sister (the child that isn’t my dad’s don’t know why he calls her his daughter he never treated her like his own child anyway).

I’ve had people say ‘this is your dad?’ Yea, straight up narc, huh? You should see how animals react to him, omg, dogs wanna tear him apart! I hope they do one day! Even today, I don’t say much to him unless it’s about money and that’s it. My ex therapist couldn’t understand that part as I tried to explain it yet did me no good. My dad says he did nothing wrong and we should be grateful for having him as our dad. I’d rather be raised by wolves, tigers, bears, horses, etc anything but him and my mom!

I’m now 28 years old, why should I care? Like people have told me ‘your mom needs a backbone and just leave him,’ how if the money is fraudulent? If my dad frauded the gov? Of course, she should have done this years and years ago. Isn’t this something? My sister calls our parents now by their first names and my mom blew up that she calls him by his first name. Mom said he is still your father, sister said dad or no dad, he never was a dad and still isn’t one today there has been no changes in him at all. Mom yelled how do you know? Again, has he tried to make amends with my sister or brother and her daughters? No, remember, narcs say they know everything!


Reminds me of one frustration I had as a child. We never took “vacations” per se. Oh, mom would CLAIM they were vacations. (My mom was all about “appearance.”) It was more, “Dad had a business trip, we were along for the ride.”

I complained about this, only to be told to shut up and it wasn’t true.

Hey, even before Crack berry addiction, there were ways to take business on vacation with you.


NEW post on this topic here in Emerging from Broken!
[…] is painful stuff!  It took me a lot longer to acknowledge the pain that my father caused me with his passive abusive actions and inactions than it took me to see the pain that my mother caused me with her more overt […]


I too have a father who I consider emotionally unavailable ???? and I too feel like I’ve never really had a father???? and my Dad’s side of the family (my Grandmother in particular) just defend his behaviour???? They too are living under the fog, and it’s SO FRUSTRATING ???? but there’s nothing I can really do accept stay positive and minimise family visits????


The story telling over and over, the constant sabotaging of “conversations” to make them about him. The lack of phone calls. The disrespect to my sons by interrupting or dismissing them when they talk. I can so relate. It screws up the mind and to this day I cant be around my dad for more than a few minutes, sometimes not even that. My mother is is #1 enabler, and that too has messed me up. I am 45 years old and I still cannot speak to my dad about anything. It’s like I become this wilted flower, or fake superficial small talker (he even controls that ). I am so angry at them for not being around to come to any sporting events for my kids, no holidays, they live over 5 hours away on purpose and it makes me sick. Yes, it is a blessing on some occasions, but I would like them to be more involved with my sons. Not going to happen. He would have to change his personality.


Hi Everyone
I can’t keep up with all the comments anymore therefore I am closing comments on all posts over 150 days. This will be done automatically and I am sorry if the comments shut down in the middle of an active conversation.
Please feel free to share anything you wish on the more current posts.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Mrs. Darlene,
Your story just reminded mine. My father was a very high ranking and educated person. He was an alcoholic and used to bring young guys home and take them to his room and lock the door. So as the youngest of all I lived with it till the age of 12 when thank God he died. My mother was always busy with her hair saloon and having new clothes and a few boyfriends here and there. She is 97 now and all she needs is men which is hard to find at this age. She taks care of herself so well that it is unbelievable but she is a sick Narc who you can not even get close to her, a real old snake. I am the youngest of all 57 years old. So all my sisters where kind of out of home when I was growing up but they were all busy with their affairs. Once I was visiting my uncle with my eldest sister who is over 70 but acts like 15 and my uncle said to my that he was always worry about me living in that home and he asked me if my dad used to bring guys home and I said yes. On the way back home my sister was fighting me so much that why did I tell the truth. Any way since she has got her own problem like addiction, being a floozy all her life with husband and 2 kids,she hates know the truth. Just like you mentioned that you woke up one day and I was hit by the truth. I could not fool my self by the story of I am the daughter of Mr. so and so or my mother is Mrs. whatever. Instead of all these lies I can see that my father and mother were abusive Narc people who just took care of their dirty desires. As my second sister who molested me from the age 3 ( you might remember my message to you Mrs.Darlene) who is a retired person from a very prominent job. As my 3rd sister who is a Narc with incredible controlling issue. After seeing the truth I am so relieved from my past. I believe people who don’t want to hear the truth because they are some how running away from the truth about themselves. Mrs., Darlene I can’t thank you enough you were such a great help to me in this exciting journey. Love you.


Hi Mrs. Darlene,
Your story just reminded mine. My father was a very high ranking and educated person. He was an alcoholic and used to bring young guys home and take them to his room and lock the door. So as the youngest of all I lived with it till the age of 12 when thank God he died. My mother was always busy with her hair saloon and having new clothes and a few boyfriends here and there. She is 97 now and all she needs is men which is hard to find at this age. She taks care of herself so well that it is unbelievable but she is a sick Narc who you can not even get close to her, a real old snake. I am the youngest of all 57 years old. So all my sisters where kind of out of home when I was growing up but they were all busy with their affairs. Once I was visiting my uncle with my eldest sister who is over 70 but acts like 15 and my uncle said to my that he was always worry about me living in that home and he asked me if my dad used to bring guys home and I said yes. On the way back home my sister was fighting me so much that why did I tell the truth. Any way since she has got her own problem like addiction, being a floozy all her life with husband and 2 kids,she hates know the truth. Just like you mentioned that you woke up one day and I was hit by the truth. I could not fool my self by the story of I am the daughter of Mr. so and so or my mother is Mrs. whatever. Instead of all these lies I can see that my father and mother were abusive Narc people who just took care of their dirty desires. As my second sister who molested me from the age 3 ( you might remember my message to you Mrs.Darlene) who is a retired person from a very prominent job. As my 3rd sister who is a Narc with incredible controlling issue. After seeing the truth I am so relieved from my past. I believe people who don’t want to hear the truth because they are some how running away from the truth about themselves. Mrs., Darlene I can’t thank you enough you were such a great help to me in this exciting journey. Love


Hi Mitra
Thanks for your update!
Hugs, Darlene

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