The Opposite of a Dysfunctional Family System ~ a glimpse of hope



the oposite of dysfunctional family

Living life to the Fullest

The other night we had a birthday dinner for our oldest son. All of our kids were home as well as a few of their friends. The conversation was lively, everyone was included, there was laughter, jokes, intellectual conversation about the chemistry my son studies and the neuroscience my oldest daughter studies.  All kinds of information was shared and everyone had a voice. There were jokes and stories; everyone at the table was equally important. 

I love those family dinners. We were joking with our youngest daughters friend who had never had dinner with us before this evening; we were explaining during our laughter about ‘bathroom talk at the table’ that this is how we are sometimes and we hoped we didn’t scare her off. She felt comfortable enough to add a few of her own jokes and the next day she texted our daughter saying “your family is awesome”.  

I was thinking about our family dinners and how amazing they are. We talk to each other and we listen to each other. We are genuinely interested in each other! There are no cell phones or electronic media allowed at the table. We usually sit around talking about every subject under the sun well after the meal is over even when we don’t have company and it is just the 5 of us. This is incredible to me!

These dinners and this kind of communication are what make me feel the most successful as a mother.  I was saying to my husband that sometimes when we are all sitting around eating, talking and laughing that I feel as though I am in a movie! You know how it all seems so perfect in the movies; the beautiful people sitting around a beautiful table with awesome food and all kinds of love and laughter. Our family times at the dinner table seem so surreal, so unbelievable, almost too perfect! I guess that is because everyday family meals, celebrations, family get together events and holidays were NOT anything like this when I was growing up. If anything, they were stressful.

These wonderful mutually respectful and fulfilling family relationships are a bonus of healing! They are a direct result of doing the work and facing the pain. Sorting through the truth about all that was wrong in my family of origin, seeing how I was not regarded with equal value, accepting that I had not been safe or protected and that my feelings didn’t really matter is what helped me so much to create a different family environment for MY kids and in my own marriage. It was seeing how the damage from trauma and abuse and from being discounted and devalued in so many ways damaged my self-esteem so deeply, that I was able to see my mothering role through a new grid and I was able to make the necessary adjustments so that my kids always know they are loved and emotionally supported.

My husband and I focus on empowering instead of disempowering.  We lead by example. We believe that love is an action word.

I am grateful for all of my blessings and although I know that the road to healing is paved with bumps, tears and is full of gaping dark holes, I am here to tell you that there is freedom, wholeness, life and mutually respectful, healthy relationships ~ on the other side!

Please share!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! This blog is read in 132 countries so to everyone all over the world, happy holidays; persistence has been the key to my progress in this process of emotional healing. Gratitude, even for the tiniest things was always a little bright spot on some of the darkest days.

Much Love,

Darlene Ouimet

Related Posts; Thanksgiving, Christmas and Dysfunctional Families

Thanksgiving and Gratitude ~ when the little voice rebels

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



Sounds lovely! Family gatherings are not the same kind of experience for me, so it’s really nice to know that good ones are possible. I get nervous even just being invited to friend’s family dinners. I know in my head their families aren’t dysfunctional, but just the idea of sitting at a table with a family triggers a fear response in me. My father used the dinner table as his favourite place to yell at us, as we were a more captive audience at those times. Of course it was every meal during weekends.


Darlene, I enjoyed reading this post! Bravo to you for breaking the cycle and instilling healthy behaviors into your family’s lives. Isn’t it wonderful,to communicate without fear,to engage in a healthy exchange of ideas,without judgement? And love IS a verb.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with my S.O. and his family. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a site better than what would have gone on in my FOO. I did not leave there feeling ripped off emotionally,or beat up mentally and spiritually. I focused on the healthy relationships I had with my BF’s family members, and really only had to side step one negative person. It was nice to be around people I truly care for and seem to care about me, without being silenced if I didn’t follow the script, having had to view a display of one-up-man-ship, or hear others slandered or maligned. I did not have to pretend bad, neglectful behavior was normal!
I am trying to let go of the one rude, bullying person’s behavior, and focus on all of the good of the day. S.O.’s kids are becoming more accepting of me, and we have nice interactions, which is wonderful. It has been a ong time coming, and I have had to do a lot of work: giving them a ton of space, and lots of positive re-inforcement when ever it is needed.
The bully is my S.O’s sister, who feels threatened by me. She tried to sit in between me and anyone I was having a conversation with, and monopolize the conversation. She also kept bringing up the kids mother, driving home the point that I wasn’t their mother (I really don’t even try to give that air, not at all). For instance, when the neighbor mentioned that S.O’s daughter was tall for her age, BSister speaks up with, oh, yes! Her MOTHER is so tall! You remember her mother? You have met her before.
When I thought about her behavior, it is even stranger to me, as she is S.O.’s step sister from mothers first marriage to an abusive man, who they had to run away from. S.O’s father, the second husband, raised her, and she calls him “Dad”. Not that I think of myself as even a mother figure. I want us to gel as a family, but dont think of myself as a mother. I mothered my last husbands 2 boys when I was their stepmother, and it was very painful when the relationship changed. Moreover, my feelings for these children are different. I think that is normal. But my point is, I am there for the kids, when and how they need me. I am in their lives, they live with us 50% of the time. Their mother is not physically abusive, but she is neglectful and self centered. She does not include the children in most of her holidays or vacations, unless it serves her bidding to trot them out. Having grown up with a neglectful mother, I know the drill.(Case in point: today! she had custody this week, and left the kids with us, while she visited with her brother, her mom and her hubby -kids other grandparents, their cousins, then over to visit her aunt, the kids great aunt and that family. It struck me as odd that she would not take her children)
So, I felt she was trying to belittle me, and separate me from the family. I do consider S.O.’s brother,brother’s wife, mother and other brother as family, and they have told me they feel the same.
We had an episode, where a neighbor called S.O’s 12 yr old daughter aside, and gave her $50 to buy a present for Grandma for Christmas, as she does so much for the neighborhood. Believe me, I had an ear to this conversation, as any man who calls a 12 yr old girl aside has my undivided attention. It was all good. So BSister demanded to know, in front of everyone, what was said, “You can say it in front of all of us. No secrets” I then said, “It really doesnt concern you”. Because it didnt. I then called my BF aside, told him his sister was bothering me, and I thought we all should leave. I had had enough. He agreed, and we left.
I think it bothers me too much. Everyone in the family just kind of puts up with her overbearing behavior, and kind of works around her. Perhaps it reminds me too much of FOO?
Darlene, thanks again for this post. I can now see, I’m not there yet, but I am making my way! Making healthy choices, and not subjecting myself to abusive situations!
I hope everyone else was kind to themselves today, as well!



Is there a difference? Going to that family get together, knowing that one problem person would be there, as opposed to going to see FOO, and have all that dysfunction swirling around? I thought I made a good choice, but reading back on how much that bothers me, I wonder now. Not every situation is going to be perfect. My other option would have been to be alone, or go to work. Am I making good choices?



Darlene, I feel so happy for you that you are having a life that is so full of blessings and joy and loving, healthy relations….and that it isnt just a one time event! I appreciate that you are sharing this wonderful story of healing and wholeness! I can relate with you about your feelings of it all being surreal, almost too perfect etc…..and it gives me joy to know this. I have had situations this year where I have wanted to pinch myself because of the REAL love, acceptance, intimacy and feelings of a peace and security that I used to dream of and be desperately hungry for. I don’t want to make anyone here feel awful when I say these things because this is brand new for me to the extent that it has become in my life this year.

I always badly wanted a close family, and I used to have genuinely great times and moments with my husband and daughter over the years, but to be honest, I wasn’t coming from the healthier place I am in now….but I lived every single day with the dedication to my family that I would be the kind of mother and wife I always either wanted to have for myself, and/or that I wanted to be as a woman. I did that until a few months ago and realized that i was so depleted and desperate….and I accidentally discovered EFB. I found out where I got broken and when, and here I am today practically pinching myself for how so much has changed in great ways in my life!

Today is Thanksgiving here and it was a wonderful day for all of us. Lots of sharing and laughs and it was a very tension free day….and I am so grateful! I also am extremely grateful for EFB and that you shared such a beautiful story of love! It has been a real blessing to read it and it topped my day off in such a happy way! 🙂


I so needed to read this post today! This Thanksgiving was so different with my family, from the Holiday experiences I had with my FOO. Holidays were filled with stress, with my mom trying to make it so perfect, that she couldn’t enjoy herself & that certainly dampened the festive mood. Before I read this post, I was thinking how peaceful & pleasant dinner was today, without the drama & crazy making behavior of control & disregard, that I had with my FOO. I made a healthy choice, by just having my mil, sil, & bil over for dinner with my husband, kids & I. After dinner, the boys went in the living room to watch the football game with much excitement routing on their team. The girls talked at the table, drank coffee and had dessert. My mil thanked me for a good time. I want to do it again next year. I was relaxed and for the first time in years, I was not sad or missing my FOO. I stayed present & engaged with my family. Also, this was my first turkey & it came out good. Little dry for me ,yet everyone else complimented it & ate it up. I would not have gotten any compliments or credit in my FOO. My mom would take over the kitchen & then bark orders at my dad or tell me to get out of the way.

Although, my husband was getting worked up before dinner, because I asked him to do a couple of things,in regards to the meal. He didn’t want anything to do with preparing the turkey for cooking. However, he did clean most of the house & carved the turkey without asking. We worked together as a family. Even my son helped with the side dishes, while I prepared the turkey and helped my dtr with making a book. She is a little budding writer. There was no peking order, as you would say Darlene 🙂 No snide or mean spirited comments. My mom is a master at sarcasm & control tactics. Don’t miss that! I did send an overall Happy Thanksgiving post to all my friends & family. I have not directly reached out to my FOO, since July. They reached out to me once, when they asked to come see my son on his birthday. Anyway, did not mean to start talking about my current limited contact with FOO, yet it comes back to that somehow. Needless to say, I had no burning desire to have any direct contact with FOO. The guilt & shame of not contacting my FOO has lifted. I’m not solely responsible for maintaining a relationship and a real relationship anyway involves mutual respect & equal value. I learned that here. I’m grateful for this site & for your guidance in my life. God Bless Darlene & everyone here.


That sounds awesome. My kids are still young and my journey only really beginning so it is great to know we can come out the otherside with positive familial relationships.


We have some pretty wonderful family dinners as well with my children. Now 16 and 19 it’s changing, however I have no doubt that my sons both without a shadow of a doubt know that they are loved. Something I never got. Which makes me so very happy!


BTW, Darlene I love the sunset pic for this post :)….Love painting colorful sunsets as you may already know 🙂


I wish that this was how it was at the place I’m living at now. When I moved out it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own presence after a bad BF situation then an abusive marraige, then the stalking then the “help” from social service agencies, school services and unprofessional professionals.
Now that we’re here together the house is divided because the family that I left is still in denial. There is no healing others who feel set in their ways. Too tired to continue. Sorry.


Hi Cheryl
Yes, even for me it is nice to know it is possible; That there can be equal value and that I can take part in that relationship both to treat my kids and our guests as equally valuable and that I too have that same value. The pecking order system we used to live in caused so much anxiety that there was no fun at the dinner table!
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Janie
The first step is seeing how this all works which I think is what you are showing in your comments. I had to see the way that people ‘operated’ before I could process the truth about it, figure out why and if it was wrong, (because in the past it was just a feeling that it was wrong, but I never trusted myself to actually know and I believed that it was ‘me’and that I was oversensitive and all that other stuff that I had been told all my life). With clarity and truth, my reactions started to change and I was able to stand up for myself.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Diane
Your comments are a blessing for me to read too! Thank you for sharing your hope, you dedication, your love for your family and your willingness to go to any length!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Sonia
YAY! Your family day sounds like it was fantastic and wonderful! (you can see why I sometimes say that I don’t miss the way it was before; what’s to miss?) Thanks for sharing your day here! What a blessing and hope inspiring story!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Bek
My youngest was 7 when we started this process and she is 15 now. I see a big difference between her and my other two older kids. (4 and 6 years older than the youngest) It was easier for my youngest to adjust to the new system and she remembers the least about the old dysfunctional system. As we progressed our kids progressed too.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Elizabeth
That is awesome! That makes me happy too!
Hugs, Darlene


This picture was taken in Hawaii by one of my friends. Isn’t it beautiful! and yes, I have seen your wonderful paintings!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Bipolar Bear
Hugs for you hon. I know that this is a very tough season for many. The first couple of holiday seasons when I was in the healing process were brutal as I was trying to sort things out and it was really hard for me to accept that it was ‘up to me’ and that most of ‘them’ didn’t want to do anything different.
Hang in there,
Hugs, Darlene


This post makes me feel a combination of pain (about the past and possible losses) and hope, but mostly hope. I really do believe my future can be like this and indeed I have quite a few relationships like this already. It reminded me specifically of when my great aunt and uncle were out for my cousin’s wedding and stayed with me—the great dinners we’d have together, the conversations that were so free, so fun, so… perfect, the dialogue bouncing back and forth. A real feat for someone who had serious problems being able to speak…. All the love, the happiness that I do have in my life…. In the last month or so, I’ve neglected my good relationships—a lot of this has been because of all this internal work I’ve been doing, just exhausted, and also feeling like I had to work through this stuff before I could be in contact with them, somehow. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I had this feeling of having to finish with the dysfunctional people, like I’d be living some double life, that I couldn’t be holding the good, healthy relationships at the same time as the dysfunctional ones or I’d feel false…. But I’m getting myself back. I really do know what’s important to me now and I know that I’m really getting myself there, one step at a time. I’m looking forward to my future, which I feel is going to be GOOD, so, so, so good. I am so grateful for this process, that it’s possible, and for everyone who has helped me on my way.
Lots of love and many thanks,


Hi Alaina
It makes total sense to me!
When I got myself back so much more was possible! I ‘live’ in so many more arears now. I love your comments and I am so honored that you share so much of yourself here!
Hugs, Darlene


It’s wonderful to read about people having such fantastic, enjoyable meals together! And enjoying each others’ company, too!

Growing up, meals were horrible times. I can’t even begin to tell you how I would dissociate during mealtime due to my psychopathic father’s ravings, rantings, and crazy behavior. If he was angry (which was about 99% of the time), he would pick up his full plate and hurl it against the wall, all the while screaming and cursing and scaring us out of our wits.

I have not one good memory….not one….of a happy meal time during childhood.

However, I made meal time a happy time for my own children.

But my children are grown now. I miss those times.

Yesterday wasn’t so great for me, but maybe next year will be better.


Alaina, I can identify with alot of what you have said. I always feel as though my toxic relationships will somehow poison my healthy ones, especially if they know each other. That the toxic people will somehow infect the healthy relationships. I find myself having to be careful, not to let the dysfuncional ones find out that I am having a good time with, and getting to know the healthy ones, or they will take them away. If what you are feeling is similar, it makes sense, as trying to keep the two apart can be exhausting. I have been trying to disconnect more and more from the unhealthy, harmful ones, so the normal relationships can grow.
It is wonderful, to be blessed with normal, extended family members. You have an oportunity to be in healthy family relationships, while disengaging from the dysfucntional FOO members!
My great aunt was a shining light in my life, growing up!
Best wishes as you venture forward!



Just got home a few hours ago from my mother-in-law’s where we had Thanksgiving yesterday with my husband’s mom, siblings and their families. I enjoy these holidays with my in-laws because they are nothing like the chaotic holidays of my childhood with an alcoholic dad and grandfather. My husband’s family has a little bit of dysfunction too but they are so much more functional that my family ever was. I mentioned to them yesterday how very blessed we all were that we had family to share the holidays with. So many survivors that I know online don’t have happy families to share anything with. I love my inlaws and I am very grateful that I have them in my life.


My family today…husband and daughter have the most peaceful and enjoyable dinners every year. No more worries or stabs or rudeness. Happiness is not how many people share your dinner but who the people are.;)


Kimberly, that is awesome! Can feel the peace from the way you describe it. Isn’t that what the holidays should be about? Good for you!



Thank you Janie…yes it should be about the people;)


Hi Kimberly! I am happy that you are having wonderful mealtimes with your family during the holidays. It is usually myself, husband and daughter too. It is funny to think about, but I never once prepared a single dish or took anything to any holiday meal until I got married. I hadn’t realized how much fun it could be….my daughter loves to prepare some of the side dishes while I work on other things and we talk and laugh…and the occasional howl when one of us drops something onto the floor!….and my husband loves all the noise we make. Our kitchen is open to the family room so he watches football and yells loudly every so often….it is pretty funny. SO different from my growing up years for sure. It took me years to feel comfortable to be honest. I wasn’t sure how to fill in the hours, what I was “supposed” to do, and I had never really cooked either. Did you ever feel that way?
And you are right…it isn’t about how many ppl are at the table! 🙂


Hi Darlene, My story is a little different but also, the same. The family my husband and I created has gone through some tough times and my not finding the healing I needed earlier contributed to those tough times. I want to encourage people though, that it is never too late and healing yourself is the best way to also, give healing a chance in the lives of your children. Thanksgiving this year was wonderful. We had 19 people at my house for dinner and many of them were people that have been important in my children’s lives after they left home and our group was made up of my children’s friends and their parents and we all mesh together in a way that is wonderful.None of us are families without problems but the parents of these families all love their children and never give up on trying to make things in their families better. These people are much more like extended family than friends and I felt so thankful that God has given me a new extended family. I was also, so blessed by my children. My sons showed up the day before to help my husband and I clean and they and my daughter in law cooked up a storm and did everything to make the day easy and enjoyable for me. The grandchildren love everyone there as ‘aunts’, ‘uncles’, ‘grandmas’, and ‘grandpa’s’. Last Thanksgiving was so painful because I was mourning the loss of my family of origin. This year, I’m just amazed at how things have worked out. Not just for me but for my children too. I don’t quite have the words for what I’m trying to say but following the truth, to the end, no matter how much it hurts, or how much it costs, is worth it. Reckoning with the past and embracing the truth about my life is the best decision I ever made and it is paying off in dividends that I never imagined.



Hi Pam! I know you were directing your comment toward Darlene, but when I read it I felt so much happiness for you ! I just wanted tell you how encouraging and sweet it is to hear of your huge gathering being so wonderful….and how great it is to hear a bit of how it used to be vs. What it has become because of healing! Such a blessing for me to read that tonight! Thanks for sharing!


Hi Marore
Meal times are one of the hardest for many survivors of the dysfunctional family because there is so much trauma around those memories. It must have been terrible to have been that child sitting at that table.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Patricia!
Great to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your lovely thanksgiving day and your gratitude with us.
Hugs, Darlene


love your comment re: it isn’t about how many people are at your table! So true!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam
It is never too late and healing yourself first is the fastest and most powerful way, I agree! People really only learn by the example that other people set so when it comes to our kids, we can set a new example no matter how old they are. (yes it takes a lot of time esp. the older they are but it is so worth it!)
Thanks for sharing your life. You are an inspiration!
Hugs, Darlene


Hello All!
Holidays with my FOO were always unpleasant times. Those occasions stick out in my mind, especially during my childhood as being very dysfunctional. Even though I did not realize that day to day life was
different in our house, I knew Christmas and Thanksgiving were supposed to be loving, sharing family
times and they were far from that. My fathers parents and my father used holidays as a special kind of
withholding punishment. They saved the worst cruelty for Christmas every year.
Later in my teenage and early marriage we connected with my mothers family (we were not allowed to associated with when growing up) which always had great family gatherings and it was then that I first discovered “normal” family interaction. It was so great!
When we moved 1300 miles from my family early in our marriage, my husband and I then established our own traditions for our son and had Happy times. We have shared wonderful get togethers with his aunts uncles and cousins, new and old friends similar to Darlene’s story but have always stayed away from my FOO at holidays. I can truly relate to all here who suffer a trigger during the Holidays, especially
when those get togethers were used to control and punish. Those old feelings are still with me too as
the holidays were always traumatic as a child. Staying NC with my FOO is the best way to stay in control of my choice to heal and enjoy the days ahead.


Hi Karen
Great points! Something I think that made christmas so stressful and so much worse as far as abuse goes was that there were other people around ~ so to my mother who was all about apearances, she was wound tight about what everyone would think about her. So everything had to be perfect (and it never is) and she would start freaking out before people even arrived. ugg. I don’t miss any of that! I tried so hard to be perfect and it was never enough but today I know it wasn’t about me in the first place.
Hugs, Darlene


I greatly enjoyed and appreciated this article.

I hope for these times ahead.

This is the fifth holiday season for my husband and me. Each one gets easier to manage between us. As long as we keep out toxic family members, it can be enjoyable, as we grow stronger, moving beyond the triggers of memories.


Hi Kate
Thank you. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


Pam, I loved your description of your Thanksgiving celebration! It sounds wonderful, all the people connected through the common bond of raising emotionally healthy children. That certainly is a family. Birth ties are not the only ties that connect. And sometimes the birth ties do not connect at all. Thanks for giving us hope!
I think I am beginning to understand when people here talk about the truth. It is not just about the truth of what happened to us, or the truth of how we were treated, it is about the lies being exposed. A family member says you are a certain way, a certain type of person, over and over again. But it is not true. And when we finally understand that, and feel it inside, we can begin to grow,and our own strength and good qualities can develop. I have started reaching out more, to family members whom I enjoy and connect with, regardless of my sister. My cousin told me, that when my sister stopped talking to her, when my cousin refused to take her negative phone calls, certain family members “dropped” my cousin as well. My sister is so sick and poisonous. I would love to be a fly on the wall and here what she says. However, I just will remain positive. She is trying to forge a bond with each and every family member I reach out to, in her sickness, but,the people who keep connection with me, those are the family members worth keeping in my life. I’m not going to compete with her, I’m just going to be myself, and be genuine, and see who wants to keep me, lol!

So, we took my mother and father out for lunch yesterday, day after Thanksgiving. Met at a restaurant we all enjoy (neutral grounds), and we managed to have a good time! I did it mostly for my father, as I don’t get to see him that often. I kept it positive, asking my Dad and my guy to tell stories from their past, my BF’s childhood in Vermont, how things were when my Dad was young, etc. I even asked abouty mother’s charity work! My mother, however, was very subdued. For instance, BF told a story about how I tried to work whole wheat pasta into our meals, and how much he disliked it, and didnt have the heart to tell me. We all laughed and I was surprised, but that is how my guy is, he would keep it to himself, not to hurt my feelings. My mother sat there, stone faced, while everybody else laughed about funny stories. I wonder if it was because she was not the center of attention? It’s a shame that she couldn’t share my joy of being in a happy relationship. All my life, she had tried to ostracize me, paint me as an “oddball” as I would not play her game. Now, I no longer even try to be one of the dysfunctional bunch, it is not my choice of a family, and I have successfully created other bonds. I think she is disappointed that I am not fighting for a seat at the table of dysfunction. I couldn’t be happier!

At the end of the dinner, BF said we needed to congratulate me, on finishing my degree, which mother knew. My Dad had a look of surprise on his face, and congratulated me, and gave me some kudos, asked questions abt what my degree would mean. Crickets on the other side, lol. I think my mother knew I had orchestrated a situation in which no animosity or favoritism could be displayed, and she was just one of the group, not the center of attention.
The dinner was worth it, as the look on my Dad’s face when he saw me was happiness and relief, like he had missed me! And he hugged me so tight, it made me so happy. It was a great day.



Hi Janie,
Thanks for your comments and best wishes! I’m glad you had a great aunt like that, too! I just read your comments to Pam. That’s so great to read! I’m glad you could have that experience. The impression I get is that you’re really sorting things out, all the lies and emptiness of the dysfunction in contrast to what’s real, true and important… I feel that way myself as well and it’s wonderful.
xo, Alaina


enjoyed this post encouraging to know there is another side of the pain and confusion. the mind is so complex humans are complex I guess in a way hurting so deeply shows signs of deep spiritual life though a child does not want this start in life.


Hi everyone,

I feel horrible now. My mother asked me to go to the restaruant for her birthday but I don’t want to and I told her. I also told her that I don’t need to see her and that I hope she will understand after all I have endured. I also said that she should let me choose or not if I want to see her and I told her as long as she denied the gravity of what I have been through, I can’t see her.

Now I feel abandoned, alone and guilty as if it was me who choosed to break the relationship.


Hi Beverly
There is freedom and beauty on the other side!!!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Aurele
I understand how you feel. I felt exactly like that so many times when I first drew my boundaries! It is normal to feel like you have done something wrong ~ That is exactly how we have been brainwashed to feel! I wish there was a way to avoid those feelings but just keep looking at the truth about the situation.

Part of these feelings for me were about the grieving process that they were NOT going to listen to me and they were rejecting me yet again. But keep reminding yourself of the truth about it. It takes time to cement the new belief system. But the more I drew my boundaries and stuck to them, the easier it became.
Hugs, Darlene


Janie, I think congratulations are in order for the way things went for you yesterday! Having the meal at a neutral location was brilliant, and I admire the way you steered the conversation AND did not allow your mothers petulant face/behavior to influence you… still managed to have a wonderful and meaningful time with the others! Wow! That is a huge deal! I loved hearing how you and your father shared some very special moments!

Congratulations on your degree too! 🙂 I loved it that your BF was praising you, and brought this up to your father….and his response was WONDERFUL and so supportive!

Your mother reminds me of mine, but also of some “friends” …and actually a number of folks I have run across in my life over the years. It certainly seems that she has spent a lifetime trying to make certain that you are brought down…and are perceived as the oddball…..and that sounds like projection….like maybe SHE is actually always has feelings like that herself? I think you handled it all brilliantly with her! There are people who hate to see someone else flourishing and doing well and being happy. They can’t even disguise their negative feelings that is how badly it gets to them….and it sounds like your mother might be one of them! I have experienced that many many times .

I am so happy for you that you had such a wonderful, positive experience yesterday! Congratulations on ALL of it!


Hi Aurele, I feel for you! I remember all of the guilt I used to feel too! It amazes me how upset I would be because I didn’t want conflict, or to hurt anyone, and I used to mistake my parents anger and displeasure for “hurt”. The reality is that I wasn’t hurting THEM….they were hurting me! They didn’t mind putting everything on their terms…including how much or how little they would deal with the past. I think it is awesome that you are listening to YOUR feelings and putting things on YOUR terms. I also know how hard it is……! Peace and comfort to you today!


((((Aurele)))) good for you!


Hi Diane! Yes…u finally stopped subjecting my family to all that poison! Now we just laugh and really enjoy our dinners! Thankfully we lived 1000 miles from them most of time…I really think distance helps some but being mentally strong matters so much more.


Yes Kate…not allowing toxic people in is the first step!


Hi Aurele, I think it is awesome that you set a boundary and are sticking to it! I am sorry you are hurting, because of your mothers reaction. It occurred to me when I was reading your post, boundaries protect us, but also, boundaries define us. It is how we say, who we are as people,what we will and wil not allow in our lives. We do have that right! Sending you a cyber hug today, I know that is tough to do.

Diane, thanks for all of the kind words! I do feel good today. It is exciting to know,that it will get even better. Darlene said I am at the beginning of the process from what she sees. Who knew the beginning could feel so good? Today I am understanding what is meant by the fog beginning to lift.


Yes, they know very well that we will assume that role and that we will feel guilt cause frankly these people cant allow that to happen, they make you wear who they are, they project that onto us~


Janie, My family of origin was held together by pretense, lies. When the lies were exposed, the pretense crumbled and so did my relationship with them.It may prove to be different with some members of my family as time moves forward but I don’t think it can ever be different with my parents. My new extended family is filled with imperfect people, just like the family I came from, but there is no pretense. We all value truth, acceptance, and unconditional love. All of us truly, value these things instead of using them as clubs to control one another. There was never any trust in the family I came from. Everyone was in it for themselves and used one another to try and get what they wanted. I feel very sad for them but I’m also, very glad to be free of that.



This is awesome! Thanks for sharing about your day with your family. Your insights about the truth are excellent.
Congrats on your degree too!!
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for your messages.

I am not feeling very good now. I have an horrible pain in my throat as if all the muscles are contracted and it very painful. And it hurts so much when I swallow. I have the feeling I will die, I am very stressed.
I also fear to have a problem in this area, because I can feel a swollen gland which is bigger than the normal at the place where my throat hurts.
I use to have this problem in the past too. And a few weeks ago, it happened too when I deceided to put space between me and my mother.
I am so scared to have a problem and to be obliged to go to the hospital.
I really feel in danger.
I am so scared to not survive without her.
It is a coincidence that it happens the day I said to my mother that I don’t want to see her anymore and why.

Thanks for listening.


((((Aurele!)))yes! This is common. Do you have panic disorder? I do…sounds like it. You need to breathe through your nose and out through your mouth…as you take slow deep breaths in through you nose think of taking in all that us good and as you breath out your mouth think of all the negative stuff leaving your body… Do this five it six times…it helps with anxiety.
The thoughts if dying are natural and normal in a panic attack and are not reality. Trust me…I get that alot with panic…


Gargle with salt water and if you still feel like this in Monday…see your doctor as it could be strep or something else…no biggie here…when your resistance is down…and your emotionally drained your body often gets sick…can you play upbeat music or call a friend? I sometimes write a letter to myself telling me that I am string and will be ok and that this shall pass…I write alot if little notes…just little reminders if who I am and who I am not!


You feel in danger cause its a repressed memory if feeling that way…your not in danger anymore! This is called grounding and I sadly also get this way…once your realize your not a child and no one can hurt you anymore…you can pull yourself out if that.
She doesn’t have any power over you anymore!
And if I somehow insulted you or crossed a boundary here with my advice please forgive me…sometimes I get di caught up in trying to help people that I make a mistake and hurt someone..nit my intention…I truly want to help people…just covering all my bases here!
Love and hugs!

Your going to be ok! I still to this day have those moments of where I go…oh no my mom hates me…what did I do? I am awful! But that is the wounded child in me…the one who gives her power away fir approval.


Kimberly it’s very nice to you :).

I feel a little better now.


Glad to hear that…when my mom dropped offy birth certificate with a note saying she was moving on in life…I cried. I felt rejected and hurt all over again. It was two days befire my birthday. It was as if she wished she never had me…and the many times she told me she wished she not marry and have kids I just brushed it off cause I wanted my mom…but she is who she is and she has never changed from that. It was me who had to learn to see that it was up to me to see the reality of who she was and change myself to finally accept that I could stop allowing her to hurt me …over and over again.
I am glad your ok;).


After reading all the posts, it seems that the common theme and “root of the problem” rests in the fact that in these toxic relationships, the mother is unable to recognize and respect the complete separateness and right to self determination that belong to their daughter(s). Daughters and sons are not extensions or expressions of their parents hopes, desires or personal dreams unrealized, but in fact completely separate individuals with all of the rights that individuals have accorded to them by GOD(life, liberty, pursuit of happiness). It reminds me that these mothers have not heeded the advice of the poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran, when he stated:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you, but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.


That is beautiful and very true!


Please do not give any kind of advice; we are not doctors here and it is very dangerous to diagnose anyone in any way; this includes physically or mentally. I know you were trying to help, but sometimes helping online is much better done by just acknowledging that the person is have symptoms and perhaps should see a doctor.

I am glad that you are feeling better. That must have been frightening for you to go through. Sometimes our bodies have very serious reactions to emotional situations and I would not hesitate to see a doctor when something like that happens.
Hugs, Darlene


White Fly…I have always LOVED this passage that you shared! It is so beautiful and touches me everytime I read it! Thank you for sharing! 🙂


Hi White Fly
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Khalil Gibran and his book “The Prophet” (where this poem comes from) have been some of my favs for a long time.
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


White Fly, I really enjoyed your post. I see that in my mother, if we are not extentions of her hopes and dreams, we are freaks, in her opinion.
Pam, Thanks for sharing more about what makes up a heathy family. I especially understand not being able to trust people, and information being used like a club. Just the other day, i was thinking I couldnt forward an email to my mother, as she would use it against me. Couldn’t tell her something that had happened, as she would tell my sister, who would use the info against me. This is very, very sick. I am glad you have brought together a family of truth, without pretense!
Thinking of trust, it makes me think of an event that happened from my teen years,with my “big sister”. Just relating this to my S.O yesterday. I was 14, and had a 17 yr old BF. Innocent, he basically drove me and my friends to the dances and such. So, the question came up about kissing. I asked my sister some kind of questions you would ask your big sister. My sister said “Oh, write your questions down in a letter. Then I will sit down and take the time to answer them”. So, I did. No answer from Big Sis. What I got in return, from my mother, was a lecture about the danger of boys,and how she expected all of us girls to remain a virgin until marriage, like she had. My mother told me, she had “found my note by accident, when she was cleaning my sister’s room”. It took along time to realize, that Big sis set me up, ratted me out, I think out of jealousy that I had friends and a “BF”, and she really didn’t. When you think about the meanness of setting up your younger sister,who has some pretty normal questions about dating, and the birds and the bees, that’s pretty cruel. My sister and mother have not changed. At least they are predictably despicable, lol!
Kimberly, It was heartbreaking to read about your mother dropping off your birth certificate, 2 days before your birthday. Drama and showmanship, at your expense! She was trolling for some response, to keep the dysfunctional ball bouncing, not caring one bit how she hurt you. That truly sickened me. I’m sorry she did that to you!
Aurelle, I am glad you say you are feeling a little better! I hope you continue to feel better,and take care of yourself. Please remember to be kind to yourself!!



I am so sorry dear. I have been there. I understand the pain you are talking about. I feel sad for you. It’s devasting and sad to realize your Mom is not going to be part of your life. I have been hurting too, because I walked away and no one in my entire family cared enough to try to work things out with me. But one thing I have realized is that the rejection and feelings of abandonment are even worse when you are dealing with it day to day than on occasion. Holidays seem to be hard for everyone in this situation.

Darlene,Pam, and all,
Thanks so much for your kind words and understanding. My husband and son and I had Thanksgiving at our house because I was “not invited” to the family get together by my parents. My other siblings were included, but not me. Which really hurt at first. My aunts tried to include me when they realized that my parents left me out, but it would have been akward for me to go knowing that my parents didn’t want me there. It turns out that my aunt was sharing pictures of me and my family with my parents and my Dad was commenting (through my aunt) on fb! Saying things like, “That’s my girl”. However, if that is how he feels about me then why won’t he pick up a phone and call me? And why was I not invited to Thanksgiving? I miss my aunts and grandma, but have decided to just get together with them on my own. It’s a mystery to me why my parents won’t meet me half way. I was partly angry with my aunt for showing them the pictures, but I realize that maybe she was trying to help so that maybe they would call me. It did not work, sadly.

In spite of everything, we had a very nice and peaceful Thanksgiving here. I am so inspired by your story, Pam! I am starting to realize and understand that “family” can be whoever comes into your life, and I have been lucky enough to make some pretty amazing friends. Although there’s always room for more and this is a pretty awesome place! “God Bless Us Everyone” and your family of choice this Holiday Season!


Kimberly, what your mother did to you was so awful.
My mother is sneaky and passive aggressive. She held me for years with
promises and passive behaviors which were not loving but which keep me in the family loop but were deniable. Everything she does has no witness and is deniable and can be misconstrued. She keeps you guessing her meanings. She is never true or open. She pretends. She lies. She spins stories and persuades with “suggestions”. She never says anything outright, that way she can blame me for being over sensitive and “misunderstanding” her words, her actions or inactions.
My Dad said outright go to hell you son of a %$&#!. So I knew where I stood. OK. I could come to terms with that. It was unpleasant but at least it was “real”. You know where you stand.
She is the queen of shadows and deception. When I started to question the FOG or speak my opinion she ignored my
concerns completely. Like I never voiced them. Like her treatment of me isn’t damaging or hurtful because I am the one it is done too. I am considered so loony by my mother and brother that nothing I say is taken seriously because its me saying it.
Its incredibly devaluing to be ignored like a non-person. Its like swimming upsteam against a terrible current.
I know I no longer have to prove myself but all the sneaky behavior on her part makes me feel duped.


Janie and Karen…thank you! I appreciate your support!
Darlene…I don’t plan on saying much anymore on here. I am sorry.


You are free to choose to share here or not to share here but I want to just point out one thing; When I don’t say anything about this stuff, it communicates to everyone that it is okay to give any kind of advice to anyone on here and then everyone does and then the safety of the entire site goes down.
When I stood up to Cathy for what she was doing and saying to you, you didn’t mind. You emailed me and suggested that she be banned from the site. (and I realize that Cathy was abusive and judgemental in her comments while you are really trying to help)
It is not my intention to hurt your feelings or make you uncomfortable. I just want to keep things safe for everyone. It is not helpful or safe to diagnose people here. It isn’t helpful to give advice. I am not asking you to leave. I just want you to understand that my motive is not about judgement.
Thanks, Darlene


Darlene…I honestly don’t see how I was like Cathy in aNy sense here. I had apoluzed twice. I honestly had no bad intentions towards anyone and was only trying to help..I do believe there was a huge difference between me and Cathy! A huge difference. I won’t give any more advice or try to help anymore…I am sorry and I will just leave…my best to you . Kimberly


There IS a huge difference between what you did and what Cathy did, however both things are against the guidelines here. Please understand that the guidelines are about what makes this a safe place.
Hugs, Darlene
and PS Cathy apologized several times too. The reason I stopped publishing her comments is because she continued to try to post abusive comments. What i am asking if for you to stop giving advice. And it is okay if you don’t realize you are doing it, I will remind you. I am not saying “go” I am saying please be more considerate of the guidelines.


Btw my advice was dangerous…suggesting that someone call their dr and perhaps a friend is wrong? U have personal experience with panic attacks…deep breathing is very helpful and as far I know never killed anyone…I am sorry too cause it us your sure and your rules and I broke them… So I am sorry and I di apologize…best of luck to you Nd everyone. Kimberly


Meant to say I did not believe my advice to be dangerous..sorry fir the spelling error but yes I was wrong none the less and I am deeply sorry. Kimvetly


I know you didn’t think your advice was dangerous, that is why I pointed it out. Not knowing it might be dangrous does not make it okay to do it. Telling someone it might be this, or how to deal with that, and if it isn’t better go to the dr. on monday, is dangerous. Perhaps it was a full blown alergic to something she just ate and in acutality she needed to call an ambulance, but we don’t know that so it is best NOT to diagnose or to give any advice.
I really hope you think about this through my eyes. My motive is about what I beleive to be what is ‘best’ for all. It is not to make you feel slapped and rejected.
Hugs, Darlene


If you are reading this, I can understand your feelings of rejection & anger. I once said something to a client of mine, that I was not suppose to say. I truly made a mistake in judgement & I was blamed for this client’s behavior. I realized I made a mistake & it got back to my immediate supervisor. I had crossed a boundary by giving out info that wasn’t mine. My intention was not meant to harm either. I was called on the carpet for it and believe me I felt so ashamed & cried. This supervisor was reacting out of fear, since I found out the client was stalking her. I’m not responsible for the client’s wrong behavior. Yet, I was responsible for saying something I wasn’t suppose to. I beat myself up over it, however, I had to forgive myself & accept that I made a mistake. My situation was a little more complicated, because this supervisor had burdened the client, with her problem, prior to my slip/mistake. I believe now, she was diverting the blame onto me, for something she had started with this client.
Anyway, I got off track here. My situation was different & more complicated, yet I was mad at myself & my supervisor. I ended up putting this incident aside & continued working there. Although, I soon realized it was not a healthy place for me. Too many triangulations & control tactics & this was in a mental health position. Trolls everywhere! Kimberly, I just want to say that you do not come across as a mean person at all. Hope you stay here 🙂


I´m not sure if this is the right place for it, but I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog Award.


Hi Sonia
Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that Kimberly didn’t come across as a mean person at all, and I didn’t think that she was trying to cause any trouble. As for the trolls thing, I have never had one here for long.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Theweirdphilosopher
Thanks for the nomination! That is cool!
Hugs Darlene


Hello all,

I have been faithfully following discussions here, but I have such limited access to computers right now that I can’t participate in conversations as much as I’d like to. But I must say that I continue to be inspired on a daily basis by the insights and sharing that goes on here.

I wanted to mention a couple of insights I’ve had lately. I’ve been thinking lately about the fear of abandonment I’ve had for most of my life: the belief that if people got to kmow me they would see how “wrong” I was, and that they would reject me. For a long time I believed that this belief stemmed from my mother dying when I was so young. Yesterday, however, the thought popped into my head that it may have more to do with my father’s EMOTIONAL abandonment of me and his refusal to protect me from my stepmother’s attacks as well as other situations he put me in which were hurtful. Even though he always talked about how much he loved and supported me, his actions were not consistent with this.

This was a real aha moment for me!

The other insight came yesterday when I was online chatting with some friends who used to be in a commune with me. It became obvious to many of us that the place had more in common with a cult than a true commune, and we were being used and abused by the leaders. I heard confusion in some people’s comments, such as “But I chose to be there and we were free to leave at any time, so weren’t we responsible if they abused us?” Well, I can see now that “freedom” and “choice” are illusions if we are not aware of the root of our belief systems and the truth of the abuse we suffered as children. When I was doing my own self-therapy, I came to see how the leaders of this commune had much in common psychologically with my parents. I stayed there despite my unhappiness because I believed this was how people should treat me. Another real aha moment.

So that though, that freedom of choice is not attainable unless I understand what truly motivates my choices, is really going through my head today, and I wrote about it privately to some of the former members. I think is another thing we have to remember when we feel tempted to blame outselves for the abuse we receive from others when it seems like when should have “known better.”

Blessings and hugs to all,


Hi Sophia!
These are excellent comments and insights! That is exactly right; that until we see what motivates our choices, the freedom of choice is not really attainable.
I can understand your freind saying and believing that she chose to be in the commune that in truth was more like a cult and that she was ‘free to leave’ anytime. So why did she stay in an abusive place? That is where so many survivors are stuck; asking themselves WHY they stayed or why they chose to stay. The answer to those questions is the beginning of the path to real freedom.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts and breakthroughs!

about cults, I watched a documentary about 2 cults the other night. I was stunned by how much they are like a dysfunctional family system. I am going to write about this subject in the future.
Hugs, Darlene


Good (realization) for you, Sophia!!!


Hi Everyone!
I just published a new post about the origin of self blame using an example from my adventures driving in the snow! It’s a day in the life of Darlene complete with what goes through my mind and how I do self talk and turn things around for myself today!
Please read it here; “A day in the life of Darlene ~ Recognizing the origin of self blame”I am looking forward to the conversation!
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for your answers :).

Have a nice day.


Hi Everyone!
Our very own PAM W. has contributed a new guest post about “Judgementalism ~ A cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation”
You are going to love her insights! This is all about dysfunctional family and fog busting through to the truth. I am looking forward to the discussion there!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi white fly,

Thank you for the poem, which is just magnificient, it is sooo true.
I put this poem on my wall.


And I am glad other people know it !
I have known this poem since 4 years ago and I just love it.



thank you to aurele and to all those who responded positively to the poem by kahlil gibran. it is bitter sweet to read it. bitter because it always reminds me that my mother’s bow was not stable and thus i did not go far, and sweet because it is validating of my personal sense of what is right and just between children and their parents. i had this translated into my mother’s language of origin after reading it for the first time. i thought it would have some kind of transfomative effect on our relationship and that things would possibly get better. truly magical thinking. she received it like she would have received any old dimestore greeting card, said it was nice and never looked at it again, much less allowed it to inform her attitude towards me and/or our relationship. such is life.


This was my first thanksgiving without my FOO, I will admit that it was so peaceful.. no extra negative/judgemental comments were being made.

I spent it with my future husband.. it was just the two of us but I know next year it will be the same with my daugther and his son because we already are starting the journey to peace!


**I have published a new post today; some of it was inspired by the conversations going on this past couple of weeks. Here is the link: “When Friends and Family say Mean and Hurtful things”
Looking forward to the feedback on this one! It’s ‘a bit of a rant’…
Hugs, Darlene


I had a glimpse of this on thanksgiving day. My eldest daughter, son and eldest grandson came for dinner. We had a lovely couple of hours. My daughter even remarked it was the first time in more than a decade there was no fighting. It was only when we went to my parents for dessert that it took a dramatic turn for the worse. My Mother and father tag teamed for humiliating stories and comments and soon my daughter joined in with them. I tried my best to stay emotionally detached and tune them out..I did notice my grandson and son took long turns in the bathroom hiding from the situation and/or played on their phones and iPods. It was quite weird to watch this as sort of an outsider and yet not. I felt powerless to stop and was relieved when my daughter asked if I was ready to leave in 1.5 hours. It meant spending the rest of the day alone but was better than that situation. Besides I had a glimpse of a real family and a happy time for two hours in the early part of the day! So obviously I was not the ogre and freak they made out to be later!


Darlene, I found this site on a very challenging day and I want to thank you for your courage and taking the time to share your knowledge and experience. I find your insight to be very comforting and validating. It’s given me some strength today when I’m feeling like I’m free falling. This paragraph below in particular was very meaningful to me and it actually made me feel like my feelings really are valid when others have and still tell me they are not. I didn’t really that I’m still struggling with so much. It’s been a long while since something I read really helped me have some hope and this was it. Thank you again so much for helping others.

“Sorting through the truth about all that was wrong in my family of origin, seeing how I was not regarded with equal value, accepting that I had not been safe or protected and that my feelings didn’t really matter is what helped me so much to create a different family environment for MY kids and in my own marriage. It was seeing how the damage from trauma and abuse and from being discounted and devalued in so many ways damaged my self-esteem so deeply, that I was able to see my mothering role through a new grid and I was able to make the necessary adjustments so that my kids always know they are loved and emotionally supported.”


Hi Nicole
Welcome to EFB!
I am so glad that you are finding some comfort here! That is why I do this!
Hugs, Darlene


When I was in High School I was often invited to sleep at my best friend’s house. I remember how much I loved the breakfasts over there. The whole family ate together on those weekend mornings. It was a relaxing and fun meal. We’d talk about school events and my friend, her two brothers, her parents and I all participated. There was a lot of joke telling and laughter as well. The parents were clearly interested in the kids’ school, sports and social activities, and included me in this as well. They knew who my latest crush was on, and called me their second daughter. I was always welcomed there. At my own home the kids ate dinner before my father came home. We often did not eat together for weekend breakfasts either. When we did eat with my father it had to be completely silent. He didn’t enjoy our silly chatter or laughter. The only conversation he would initiate was if we spilled something or otherwise demonstrated some poor table manners. We would be sharply criticized. No conversations about school or anything else we were involved in. My friend’s family knew much more about me than my parents did!
So I did have a glimpse into what a healthily functioning family was like. Unfortunately, it was not my own, at least not my family of origin. Meals in my family of marriage do involve having conversations. (That took some getting used to!) as well as joking around, talking about everyone’s days and we all participate. So perhaps that glimpse did have a positive effect on my future family!


On rare occasions I can be in the presence of my mother and sister (who are both emotionally and psychologically abusive towards me) and have an evening where there are no ‘incidents’. Those rare occassions are always filed away too though in the minds of my abusers as ‘proofs’ that I am the problem and that on such occassions, I simply ‘chose not to start’ anything. They never chock it up to the fact that on such occassions, THEY are the ones who chose not to abuse and attack ME and as such, no reaction from me was warranted. I am seen as the ‘problem’ even during the times when I’m not being overtly called ‘the problem!’. Things are pleasant because I somehow ‘chose’ for them to be so. A veritable ‘SEE how nice things can be when YOU DON’T(stand up for yourself when we choose to abuse you).’ They don’t happen to notice that the reason I’m not yelling back is because no one is standing there AT THAT MOMENT invalidating me, devaluing me, attacking me, blaming me and otherwise making unreasonable demands of me (example: that I open the door during my shower to allow my also-adult-sister in to retrieve a can of hairpsray). As if it weren’t bad enough that I am blamed for all of the unrest, I must be reminded during times of peace that I am the ‘REASON’ for the otherwise unrest!

I started to put ‘two and two together’ from about the time I was 14 and started going along with friends on their family vacations and spending holidays at their houses. There were family meals and genuine interest and happiness and equal value among parents, children and siblings at the homes of others. As a teenager and young adult all I knew was that I’d rather be with them. Once I became an adult this encompassed the families of boyfriends as well and when I’d make the decision to spend a holiday or an event (like my own birthday!) with their family instead of my own I would hear from my mother: ‘you always DID prefer STRANGERS over ME/your own FAMILY anyway!’. Apparently it never occurred to her WHY, other than that was ungrateful and this was just more PROOF! All these years I felt guilty and wrong for wanting, PREFERRING, to be with friends instead of her and she was right. It WAS proof. But it wasn’t proof that I was ‘bad’. It was proof that something was wrong with THEM! If I could blend in so well and so seamlessly with the families of friends, why couldn’t I win the approval of my own?

Perhaps the first time I chocked it up to happy coincidence. Maybe these were just ‘my people’. Maybe they had similar interests and viewpoints…but that wasn’t the case. Friend after friend and boyfriend after boyfriend couldn’t all be the ‘one-off’ situation I’d thought. Maybe, just maybe, it WASN’T ME as my mother had tried for so many years to get me to believe.

I truly believe that my social interaction with others is the only reason that I started to see through the fog. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t broken, I wasn’t bad. It was my family of origin all along. It IS them still today. I have been able to get along wonderfully with so many strangers and their families all these years yet not with my own? It can’t be me, I’m the common denominator in all of those relationships and there is only ONE where I am seen as the ‘problem’!

I feel sorry for my sister who never exposed herself to friends the way I did so she never had the opportunity to see that the way our family was (and still is) is unhealthy and dysfunctional and that my mother is sick. My sister is also the Golden Child though and at present, that serves her emotional needs more than finding the truth and whole happiness does. My mother didnt give her a sense of personal value either. Her sense of value now comes from getting to have more ‘stuff'(material possessions) by staying at home and living with blinders on and she has the added bonus of winning even more favor by hopping on my mother’s bandwagon and abusing me; the ‘bad one’, the ‘broken one’, the ‘unloveable, disagreeable’ one who ‘deserves’ what I get. For so long I was the little boy in the crowd who shouts that the Emperor is really in his underwear but always wondering if what I saw was even real!

This blog has given me so much comfort and validation. It breaks my heart to see that there are so many of us here seeking the same but at the same time it also gives me hope for the future. Hope that OUR families will be different and that by the same course, our children’s families will be different.

Afterall, even the biggest avalanche starts with a single snowflake.


I am sitting in a coffeeshop. Xmas music in the background, so soothing.
Music has great properties.
Just wanted to wish you a happy holiday season!
I do not know yet what I will be doing this holiday, I might be alone, I might house sit for sb just to use the time I do not know.
In any case, all the best to all of you here


Hi Kelly A
My family is totally different now! (and two of my kids are young adults, already out on their own) There is hope, that is for sure!
Thanks for sharing. I am going to share your snowflake quote on the FB page.. (I won’t use your name)
Hugs, Darlene

Thanks for your best wishes!
Hugs, Darlene

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