The Purpose of facing the Past and Childhood History


abusive family In my blog post “Take the good with the Bad or the Bad with the Good?” I talked about my feelings regarding not sharing anything positive about my childhood. The post itself was inspired by a reader on facebook who commented that the conversation was too negative and that I/we should be able to say something good, specifically about my father.

It got me to thinking about what emerging from broken is all about.  EFB is about emotional healing from the damage caused by people who did not have my best interests at heart. This site is about facing the truth that we have never been allowed to face, such as childhood history; how we were discounted, mistreated, devalued and not heard and the problems that manifested because of those things.   Emerging from broken is about the process I went through as an adult. It’s about how I found my voice and took my life back. It isn’t really a place to come and get your warm fuzzies however there is a ton of love, acceptance and support here so maybe there are some warm fuzzies after all.

My emotional healing is not about my parents. It doesn’t matter how messed up they were by their own pasts, it is about the damage that was caused to me regardless of how messed up they were. My emotional healing is all about me and I finally believed that I deserved to have it. But first I had to realize that the beginning of emotional healing was about understanding what happened TO ME.

I had to tell someone what happened to me, so that I could acknowledge to myself that I had been abused, that I had been unprotected that I had not been loved in the true definition of the word “love”. I had to set aside my loyalty issues, stop worrying about the ways that others would react if I faced this stuff, I finally realized that it was self valuing to do this work after a life time of agreeing with my oppressors that I had no value because I was treated as though I had none.  Because my value was not shown to me or taught to me, I believed that I must not have any.

I had been defined by the ways that others treated me. I believed that I didn’t deserve more then what I received and that it was because I wasn’t enough. When my mother disciplined me because she was in a bad mood, I believed that I had caused the bad mood. Therefore I concluded that I was bad. I believed that I upset people.  Everyone else’s reactions and attitudes “defined me” as “the problem” and I had to realize that these definitions about myself were not true. They were all lies tightly woven into the very fabric of my belief system and they all started in childhood. My teacher picked on me, and when no one listened to me about it (and combined with other things that were also going on in my life, and other incidents where I had been dismissed) I believed that I was an irritation to her and that the problem had something to do with me. Those were all the conclusions that I had come to in my young life. And it carried on from there; even when my boyfriend cheated on me, I believed it was because I was not “enough” for him.  After years of being defined as the problem, it didn’t take much for me to accept that it was always “me” who needed to try harder. But that was a lie and I had to take a look at that lie through a new lens.

I was so sick and life was so worthless that I got to the point (in recovery) where it didn’t matter what anyone said or thought about me anymore. I didn’t care about who believed me or didn’t believe me anymore.  I knew the basic truth and I had to give myself credibility in order to begin the healing process. I HAD to stop protecting the people who discounted me all along.  In doing that was I was able to face and embrace the rest of the truth. This was not my shame, and what happened to me was NOT my responsibility, but that it was my responsibility to face it and heal.

Emotional healing isn’t about forgiveness, although self forgiveness played a big part, and forgiveness of others came as a result. It was more like I had to just “transcend” the whole forgiveness issue while I concentrated on the actual facts about myself. Emotional healing isn’t about blame, although putting the responsibility back where it belonged was necessary. I give examples of just how my self esteem was torn down.  I give examples of the ways that caused me to think and believe that I was not important and that I was not worthy, in order to show how getting broken in the first place occurs.  I had to see how I got broken in the first place in order to heal.  That was how it worked for me so that is what I talk about. I share what worked for me after so many years of trying things that didn’t work for me.

All my life I beat myself up for being unhappy and ungrateful. I tried every single method out there for positive thinking and attitude change. I ignored the past, and pretended that I was so lucky to have the parents that I had. I had a “privileged upbringing”, but I didn’t face that it never once helped me! I stole my clothes when I was a teenager because my mother wouldn’t give me money for them while she bought herself glamorous evening gowns and told me she was broke.  I created a fantasy about my childhood reality and I believed it. I pretended for years that I loved everyone and everyone loved me, but my depressions only got worse.  It was when I started to look at the truth, that my depressions came from “somewhere” and that things were not so great, that my parents “status” never benefited me and that in truth they didn’t actually “bother” with me. I faced the truth that I had in fact never been treated in a way that would have caused me to grow and flourish with self worth and self respect. And THEN I began to heal.

Emerging from Broken is about the process of recovery. It is about a method of emotional healing that works. It is about facing the past instead of trying to block it out and avoid thinking about it.  It is not about sweeping things under the carpet to protect the reputations or the feelings of the very people that did so much damage in the first place.

It turns out that the key to positive thinking and high self esteem is in facing the lies and realizing the truth.

Please share your thoughts;

The truth set me free;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing




140 response to "The Purpose of facing the Past and Childhood History"

  1. By: Amber Posted: 11th July

    This post describes exactly what I needed to do to finally start to heal. I have been reading this blog for four years now,b before that, I spent decades, yes, decades trying to figure out what was wrong with ME that caused people to treat me like I wasn’t important, didn’t matter, as well as why they put me down, calked me names and used me to do things for them. Darlene, you opened the door for me to start looking at my past and I realized that I was never valued as a child, I was treated like I was a burden, my needs, even basic ones like being bathed or having clean clothes were unimportant to my mother. Girls were particularly low on the totem pole and I was at the bottom of the family pecking order because I was the only daughter. So the damage was that I grew up feeling very insecure, inferior for being a female, I believed that my needs didn’t matter and that I better stay as quiet as possible not to be a burden. I also felt that I had to comply with chores as well as staying out if my mother’s way or making sure that HER needs were met. I guess it was the joy hope that she would approve of me, but it didn’t work. One hard truth was that she was not going to approve of me no matter what I did. She would just temporarily throw in scraps of approval when I complied and I’m sure this was to keep it going. I no longer look at ” what is wrong with me”. Look more at how I was shaped to become the people pleasing, compliant person pushing my needs out of the picture. And I finally realize that I deserve better than that. I deserve love, I deserve to have my needs met, I deserve to be able yo express my feelings and opinions. I have come far in four years, but there is still more work to be done. I still get that fear sometimes that if I say NO something terrible will happen. But I’ve been doing it more and more anyway. I have friends that are upset right now because we said no to dog sitting because our own plans. There was a time I probably would have even changed plans to keep the friendship, but I would have been full of resentment. Now I say my needs are important too. A sibling is upset with me because I was not available for him to stay over when he wanted yo come in. Again, why should I be the one to have to shuffle my schedule around to accommodate someone else who has the capability of making alternate plans? My needs matter, and the lie a I was brought up with that they don’t matter but other peoples’ do was one of the biggest ones I had to reverse. Thanks once again for your wonderful blog Darlene. It has been a life changer.

  2. By: Bernie Posted: 20th July

    Thank u for this post. My mum is a chronic alcoholic and a narsasist she was also 8 weeks ago diagnosed with cancer. I am in recovery myself from alcoholism I am 4 years sober. I have had to dettach completely with her . I am due to start thearpy at the end of this month. I am finally ready to begin the healing process from my childhood. My dad was also an alcoholic who passed away last year he was 14 years sober. I suffer chronic shame attacks , my self esteem /worth is very low . My mother was emotionally mentally and physically abusive to me so was my father when I was younger. I am now 43 and I have to come to a point in my life where I need healing from this. The guilt I’m feeling now I have detached is crippling. But I know today I don’t have to keep putting up with the distigusting verbal abuse I was getting from her she can not physically abuse me anymore with the wooden spoon as she did when I was a child . My mother makes everything about her she is so self obsessed / centred she thinks the whole world revolves around her. Her cancer is complicated and I’m constantly questioning myself I’m full of self doubt i have been all my life and asking myself am I doing the right thing. I don’t know what’s gonna happen with her but I pray everyday for her. I just can’t go on with being sucked in to all local the dysfunction anymore. I’m also a codependent and I’m aware I have alot of changes to make with my behaviours and the first is trying to give myself self care and looking after me which I find hard but I have am ready to heal . I’m full of fear about therapy because I know I have to look at the past but I so want to feel some peace in myself. I hope dettaching from my mum is the right thing to do …..

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th July

      Welcome to the new people on this post!
      Thank you all for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Jodee Posted: 7th July

    While I am sad that so many have experienced the same past and ongoing suffering as myself, I am happy to not feel so alone in mine anymore.

    It’s funny how now that I’m older and have learned how to stand up for myself by calling them out on their crap, that it makes them mad at Me because they are in the wrong and I won’t stand for it anymore. Distancing myself from them, a divorce, therapy, and this blog are the best (and the only) things I have ever done for Me, and Me alone. I now have a solid support system in place for when some of them still get to me and I start going into a tailspin.

    Calling them on their crap was hard at first but gets progressively empowering and easier each time I do it. And did I mention it’s kind of fun now to watch their looks of confusion at my standing up for myself? ?

  4. By: Shirley Posted: 6th July

    I have the opposite problem of zoning out. I have vivid recollections. My father tried to argue about my recalling him having a 1960’s red truck, he said no I didn’t we argued for a few minutes. I went and got the picture of us with that red truck. He said you were 3 years old and we only had it 2 weeks. Yes but you still had a red truck. I remember every time my mother told me “I made her ____”, I remember every slap, kick in the back with her cowboy boots, I remember hoping over the front chain link fence to get away from her wrath every time she had a bad day. I remember every time I was called a little bitch.

    I remember vividly lining up my stuffed animals on the outside of my bed so I could feel my cousin sneak in to my bed to molest me, I remember the first time it occurred when we were camping at Glacier National Park. I kept proof of his sick obsession over me from letters he wrote me from jail when I was a teenager.

    My mom had 13 strokes in 5 years, when she got sick she apologized for all the harm she’d done and asked for guidance on how to make amends. I remember the gratitude I felt. When she passed away I remember thinking 3 months later when he was on his first date xmas eve that my dad had looked after her entire 5 years he deserved love and happiness.

    When he remarried 10 months later I remember seeing him beaming and thinking how nice it was that my grandmother finally got to attend her son’s wedding (my parents eloped). Over the next 10 years he didn’t phone every other week anymore I wasn’t allowed to pop over yet he would complain I didn’t visit often enough. I wasn’t allowed to throw him a retirement dinner. In 2001 when I announced my engagement to my husband, his wife stood up after I said we would like to do a pot-luck reception put her hands on her hips and said ” I assume you’d like your dad to attend, well if you do that I’ll take him out camping tie him to a tree and he won’t be allowed to attend!! You will be disgracing your dad in front of everyone” I was speechless (and unbeknownst to me also pregnant)I tried to compose myself, but couldn’t calm down. My husband and Dad didn’t say a word they just let her rant. I came back from the bathroom and told my husband I needed to leave. My dad walked us out to the car and offered to pay for the catering if I did it her way. I said but I just want a simple JP wedding not a big fancy affair. He replied “well just consider it YOU can do things inexpensively” I did the wedding her way, I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter after I put down all the deposits and my dad had paid for the caterer. He said “oh I guess you’ll have to postpone” No it’s not 1950, my daughter is 1 1/2 years old being pregnant with my 2nd child isn’t a shot gun wedding we’re not loosing deposits and I’m going ahead. He told me how ashamed my deceased grandmother was of me. I asked “why I was the only grandchild who went to visit her, did her spring clean every year even when I lived in another province. Why on earth would you say that?” During the entire day his wife was moody, sullen and impatient. I had to use the washroom, my bridesmaids helped me get dress over the toilet and left me in the stall. My dad’s wife came in to washroom and told my female cousin “This is the worst day of my life”. She got drunk at the reception and I remember thinking maybe she’ll leave now I’m pregnant and hot and just don’t need this shit! At the gift opening she was to hungover to attend my dad told me she had taken off her wedding rings this morning and put them on his dresser. I told him what I overheard her saying that my wedding day was the worst day of her life, how is that when I did what she wanted and now I can’t afford a honeymoon because I caved to her demands. I remember thinking if she hurts my dad……. I was never allowed to talk to her about her behavior.

    In 2011 after my daughters and I were involved in a rollover accident, my boss fired me because I was unable to work because of injuries from the accident, my father-in -law had a heart attack. I went to see my dad because he had just returned from a 2 month vacation seeing her golden son who moved to Kelowna in 2009. She was behaving the same way she acted on my wedding day. She opened front door seen me grabbed her smokes and marched to her bedroom. You could cut the tension with a knife, my dad asked how things were going I told him what we’d just been through. I decided to cut visit short and head up early to the hospital to see my father-in-law, half way down the street I decided to drop my daughters off at other family members house and call to go back, put my big girl panties and have that discussion. My dad’s wife answered the phone and layed into me, this time I layed back into her. She wrote me a vile letter disowning my daughters and I, put it in an envelope with a pretty blue bird on it and mailed it to my home. My daughters regularly got the mail from the box saw the letter and read it before me. I wrote her a letter in response, telling her everything I held in for 20 years. According to my dad I involved my daughters in this fight.

    I idolized my dad my entire life so I tried counseling with my dad, he refused to go after 1st session because I was lying that my mom abused me, that it was my choice to be an abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend. I was lying about my cousin molested me, because I went to Kelowna with a female cousin for his anniversary party, that means you put the girls at risk. I replied “She knows he molested me, I went so I could see could see a dear friend who was dying of cancer. I would not stay at his house I made female cousin pay half a for a motel room, and I hovered over my daughters the entire 1 1/2 days. I remember thinking why do I have to justify myself. He told me I’m so ashamed of you and your not my daughter anymore. My grandma had a grandchildren’s picture board I had inherited, I took it to the cemetery where she was buried and had a funeral for my dad, eulogy and all. My husband wouldn’t attend. I remember wondering why I didn’t deserve the support I’ve always given him.

    My female cousin found out I disclosed her brother molested me and I was in counselling. She text me demanding I “stop counselling, the statue of limitations has run out, my mom will protect him”. When she messaged my oldest daughter disowning us because your mom is crazy. I went to the police, they read her text and started an investigation on her brother and told me to get a restraining order. I applied and received a 1 year order when I reapplied I was denied a 2nd order, my husband didn’t want to support me by missing work to attend court. I remember wondering why the court and my husband didn’t want to protect and support my daughters and I.

    Lately I have been the support for my daughters with health issues and counselling to deal with loosing all of their extended family except my in-laws. My husband and I live together and I no longer expect support from him or my dad, I have built my support from friends, communities such as this, counselling, beginning the process of being a foster mom for dogs. I remember thinking the other day it’s not my fault I was broken, but I’m grateful I made the choice to learn new skills so I can finally find unconditional love instead of just giving it and peace of mind knowing I didn’t break my daughters. I have hugged the little girl inside and told her we will be ok.

    Mom was right I am a


  5. By: DXS Posted: 19th July

    Someone already made this comment on another of your posts: “It’s not love. It’s just a reward because you played ball they way they wanted you to.”

  6. By: Patrick Posted: 24th November

    This was a very enlightening post.

    The most challenging and scary part for me has been that I learned to think that I was bad and went around making that very argument in my mind, while I tried to be good.

    It is a thought pattern that was provided to me that I then perpetuated on my own – quite well, I might add. So it’s very frustrating to know that I contributed to that same notion.

    The good news is that it is learned and therefore can be unlearned.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th November

      Hi Patrick
      Welcome to emerging from broken
      This is what this whole website is about. It is about HOW we learned to think and react in these ways and how we can un-learn it. (sounds easy.. but not so!)
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Roshani Posted: 15th July

    YES …..Darlene!! I feel this PRECIOUS place of shearing that you have created it is so PRECIOUS for me and i think for all of us , because finally we can become confident and trustfull, speaking thins that we could never speak in our childhood and also in our adult life!!! I also don’ t manage to care of the past of my mother or of my cousine ( THE ABUSER) , but i am omly able now , meanwhile i am processing so many devastating negative emotions in relation with my mother, I am only able to look egoistic the DEMAGES that their NOT CARING has left in me !!!! FORGIVINESS i don’ t want to exlude that maybe i shall arrive there, but just now I don’t manage neither to hear this word …..I become FURIOUS…..and inside me sounds like that now that finally i give myself the PERMISSION the look at the TRUTH….again the others ask me to look at the OTHERS and on top to forgive them!!!!It sounds so ABSURD !!! But maybe one day i shall arrive first to forgive myself and the ones who have harmed me !!! LOVE AND LIGHT ! Roshani

  8. By: Beverly Berzins Posted: 9th July

    Darlene your posts are truthful and helpful and I am grateful for the time you have taken to put this information together and share with others like me. thankyou

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th July

      Hi Beverly
      Thanks!! I appreciate your comments.
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Aurele Posted: 9th July

    Sorry Lynda I didn’t see that the events took place a year before. So i hope I won’t remind you bad memories.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th July

      So many of the post conversations are revived by new comments all the time because they are found in search engines. It is fine to make a comment about a comment no matter how old it is.
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Aurele Posted: 9th July

    Hi Linda,

    I’m so revolted about your mother attitude. It’s so so so unfair and disgusting. I am relieved that the rest of your family was outraged by your mother’s letter and there are right.

    I was raised by the same lies too and I also have a huge self inner anger.

    I am happy you have found a good therapist.


  11. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th February

    Love your comments! Thanks for posting!
    Hugs! Darlene

  12. By: Joan H Posted: 11th February

    And thank you Darlene your blog is exactly what we need.
    Can’t find any ” happy things to say ” but I’m sure my parents n other abusers could say oh ” what bad have I done to deserve a daughter like you” soooo ur saying I’m a punishment, even though I am trying to be Perfect “everything”

    Do people even know that for the first time in 38 yrs because of being able to express the “so call negative” here I have come to realize it all wasn’t my fault I’m not BAD—
    I can finally get up n not clean my house for hours or not hurt my own body:::
    Even comb my hair like I want.. Hope only came in expressing the negative which in turn gives us back so much “positive” and I am learning that I have the right to keep the “positive” only for my son and me!!
    I don’t have to entertain the world no more “crazy Jojo the clown”
    Move on to another blog if you don’t like this one —– OMG I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO SAY THAT LOL
    IF U DON’T LIKE IT U DONT HAVE TO BE AROUND ME wow that felt good lol..
    Thank U Darlene u are blessing , thank you for understanding! 🙂

  13. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 16th July

    Writing letters to our abusers and confronting them with what they did to us is very healing and empowering. Taking our power back implies that we once had power over our lives. As abuse survivors, in particular, incest survivors, they often never had any power over their bodies or their minds when they were children. Many were told what to think, what to eat, what to do and were forced to be sexual beings long before sexual behavior was wanted or was appropriate. So anything that empowers a survivor helps them to heal.

  14. By: Lynda ~ Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 13th July

    Thanks, everyone, for all the kind feedback!

    Darlene, in comment #111, you said: “If my mother sent me a letter like your mother did, I would have more to say; I would like to say a few things about the past, but for now it is enough.”

    I just read that comment of yours a few minutes ago, and it confirmed what I had already decided, after setting the letter to my mother aside for a couple of days, and giving myself time to think about it. Although I do feel that the 2 – 3 pages I have already written, is perfectly adequate for setting my new healthy boundaries with my mother, I have also decided to write some more about the past, mainly for the purpose of my inner healing. I’ve made notes on the things I want to add, and I expect I will probably end up doubling or tripling the number of pages I’ve already written.

    That’s still very minimal, though, compared to the 62 pages my mother sent me, on top of the other insanely long hate letters she has sent me in the past! Even with the extra writing I’ve decided to do, I still feel very good, because now I know that I’m DON’T have to laboriously slave away for months on end, writing 50 or 100 pages or more, going into excruciating detail about every single instance of abuse and neglect. I will write just enough detail about the past, to make it abundantly clear WHY I an now setting my new boundaries. I am also going to point out how utterly ridiculous it is that my mother has sent me so many unprovoked crazy long hate letters over the years, condemning me for the most idiotic, petty misdeeds and misunderstandings, stupid things that most normal people would give you the benefit of the doubt about, but not my mother, she ALWAYS without fail, jumped to the conclusion that I was at fault in every misunderstanding, she ALWAYS without fail, assumed that I had the worst possible motives for everything I ever did or said. I mean she has manufactured things out of the thin air, all based on her lifelong belief that she can Read My Mind, and know that my intentions of my heart are always evil, no matter what kind and caring thing I do or say, she twists it until it’s something horrible.

    It’s all so ludicrous, when the things that my mothere has done wrong to me have been thousands of times worse, than my worst fault or wrong against her! It’s like a convicted murderer, condemning someone to hell for talking with their mouth full. Like it says in the Bible that my mother loves to beat people over the head with, she has a BEAM in her eye, but she ignores that, and makes a huge deal out of a tiny speck, in my eye.


  15. By: Kate Posted: 13th July


    You wrote:
    “she had lent us kids money. mmm i really did not know what to say to that one, but i found my voice very quickily to tell her that if i was a total stranger,i would get more respect and support than i do as her daughter”

    YES, for me, this was a long, drawn out painful lesson of having to LIVE with my parents AND my four kids in the parents’ home, and you want to see entitlement based on money, LOUD and CLEAR!!!!!

    And that they would treat you better if you were a stranger, no truer thing has ever been said! I saw more examples of hypocrisy during that time, that just stopped me cold, including my own father daring to demand that I clean a mirror (no big deal, especially if he asked in a normal way) on the SABBATH DAY, and no, we are not Jews. We are the right kind of Christians (they are) that REST on SUNDAY. In all my life, I was never allowed to do much more than breathe on the SABBATTH day, let alone clean a mirror.

  16. By: Risé Posted: 12th July

    Kate ~ So heartbreaking and sad … just because we are not of the same faith as our friends doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. There are a good many moral non-Christians out there.

    Carol – I know what you mean about that gut-wrench thing … I get that severely even still, after 11 years of my mother not being in my life, and I get it at just the thought of being is the same room as her or the idea of running into her! I have cut off all contact with her and I don’t let my children have relationship with her. I told my kids that when they get to be 18 years of age and have a dire need to meet her, that is up to them (18 is legal age in Alberta) – but before they’re 18 years of age, it is my responsibility to protect my kids from people like her. I just couldn’t run the risk of my kids being poisoned by her toxicity! 🙂

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