The Recovery Journey ~ Common Bonds


Recovery Journey, Mental Health These past few years I have realized a commonality between almost all of us who struggle with any or all issues, whether those issues have to do with the causes ~ such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or if they have to do with conditions ~ meaning symptoms or diagnosis such as depression of any kind, dissociative identity disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, bi polar, borderline personality disorder or mild or serious low self esteem. I am not discounting or stressing the importance of any one type of struggle here because I’ve realized this common bond we all seem to share. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am talking about the belief system that develops in our lives when we have been abused, neglected or devalued. That belief system seems to have something to do with the resulting problems that interfere with the individual having a life filled with joy and freedom.

I started this blog to write about the healing journey and the difficulties with it; a place to talk about our common bond and to stay away from emphasizing the differences or highlighting the diagnosis. I had been diagnosed with a few different things, and the diagnosis was not what helped me to recover. I found a way out of the brokenness that I lived in for so long and want to share my journey because I realized that the road so many of us travel on the journey to freedom is similar. It is noteworthy to mention that we also have a lot of commonality in the places that we get stuck.  I talk a lot about how I got broken in the first place; Other people got to decide what I was worth or not worth, what I could be used for or what I was good for and even what I was good at. 

With sexual and physical abuse, someone took control of my body and did things to me that I did not want done to me and I had no choice, although I was told and even convinced that I did have a choice.  With neglect or with a parent who never noticed or took interest, I learned that I was not valuable, not important enough to be cared for. I was groomed and trained in guilt and shame, convinced that all of this was my fault; I was influenced and I convinced myself that I could do better or try harder and then it would stop.

As I grew older, those childhood beliefs became even more skewed because now I am told that I have a choice about how I view it, and that I should just accept it and get over it or not talk about it because it was a long time ago, and because I still have the deep rooted belief that I was not really loveable due to something I might have done or something that was missing in me and I became even more distressed. I was so sure for so long that it was my fault that I struggled. On top of all that, as an adult there were a lot more voices and influences telling me what was wrong with me, what I was doing wrong and what was in my way. These are the well meaning people, books and leaders that told me I didn’t have enough faith; that I needed to be more grateful, that the past belongs in the past, that I needed to forgive and forget….. Well I’m sure you get the picture. I spent years practicing positive thinking, telling myself that I loved myself, telling myself that “God don’t make junk”; never speaking of the past, never acknowledging depression, resentment or anger. I practiced gratitude, prayed for people that were my enemies, went to extremes with my physical health and joined self help programs. For 8 years I studied Greek and Hebrew word origins so I could study the original meaning of the bible, I confessed all my sins, and practiced accountability. I submitted to my husband, which in my case meant that I gave up my identity and individuality and became a servant to my family. If I had any dreams I gave them up in favor of his dreams. My struggle only increased. I learned to cover my real feelings up. I smiled to the world and dissociated much of the time and I beat myself up whenever I was discouraged or ungrateful. I was unhappy and I felt guilty about it because I could not see past all the things I was told and believed that I brought on myself.

Consequently I never got over it until I really took a good look at all of it.  I took a look at the whole picture. There was no way that I could just get over it or put it behind me, especially with all the mixed up beliefs in there. There was something missing between the events of my childhood and the “getting over it” and “letting it go” part. The bridge was broken and the keys were on the bridge. There was no real acceptance, no real freedom, no real forgiveness and no real life, until I got the bridge repaired and found those keys.  

am grateful every day that I did.

Stay Tuned for part 2 ~ “Mental Health Recovery ~ Ten Necessary Changes

As always I love to have your comments!

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

36 response to "The Recovery Journey ~ Common Bonds"

  1. By: Celine Posted: 10th November

    Yes, yes, yes and YES!!!! I was told the same thing not too long ago. “You’ve made a pretty happy life for yourself”. That right there made me feel guilty for feeling down and depressed. I had everything, a husband, two beautiful kids, my dogs, a big house so WHY was I feeling so miserable all the time? Why do I feel this void inside constantly. Then my husband cheated on me and reinforces my belief that I am not worth loving, people will always leave me, I’ll never have any friends, etc. after all that I am told to remain STRONG! Helloooo!!! Am I not still here? Doesn’t that tell you something? And what does that mean exactly “stay strong”. I’m expected to think positive even though I can’t get out of my mind the fact that MANY adults in my early life abused their power on me. Parents, teachers, doctors. You name it. They taught me my own self worth, they took away my innocence and didn’t even give me the chance to build myself. They stole my soul like thieves rob banks in the night. They run away, leaving that bank empty. Witness will talk, identify them and they will eventually be prosecuted. WE on the other hand were robbed, no witness, no one to believe the words of a kid. That’s why I chose silence. Now I’m expected to think positive and move on. I hold the key to my freedom. I need to be validated. Again, I was told to stop looking for others to validate me. Instead, I need to validate myself!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th November

      Hi Celine
      I found that a combination of others listening and hearing me was very helpful in learning to validate myself, but I HAD to find the right people to hear me. (and this is a great place for that to happen)
      Thinking positive doesn’t work and the only way that I could even begin to move on was to validate that the abuse happened and validate the damage that was done and see the long term effects that it had on me. Then I was able to move forward to recovery and self validation.
      Hugs, Darlene
      p.s. Just a heads up, your comments keep going into moderation (means they are not approved until I read them) because you have used the URL (web address) for this site in your comment form. If you take it out next time you comment you will be able to bypass being held in moderation. The line for the URL is optional and meant for people who have a website of their own they might want to share.

  2. By: Worth-Waiting-For Posted: 16th May

    Very insightful post. Everything in it – from the development of harmful belief systems to how to escape from those patterns – really resonated with me. Thank you for posting on such important issues that so many people in the mental health care profession fail to understand and address.

  3. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th February

    PS Betsy
    oops… sorry for the extra welcome message… I know you are not new here… I have been answering a ton of comments today and got mixed up!

  4. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th February

    Hi Betsy
    Welcome to EFB ~ this is a huge question. I believe the cycle of is abuse is exactly that; a cycle. And yes, it is everywhere because at the root of it is the misuse of power and control. Some people seek positions of power and authority so they can HAVE power and authority. Many seek to work with victims. The only hope is in healing. Our healing. When we heal we take our lives back and come out of the fog that enables abusers to get away with abuse.
    Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: betsy Posted: 14th February

    what is the common denominator between people that are abused and who do the abusing… the stories are so similar, your story is like a mirror to me.. but why are some of us more susceptible to this happening. Do you think that a family with more children it happens more often, does that matter or is it more that a non caring parent displays the same behavior perhaps because they went through it also, and rather just not deal with it all or can’t? My mother was sexually abused and when it was happening to me she was not very nice to me and even accused me of causing it to happen. I dealt with it for 4 years by myself until one day I told my girlfriend and she told me how stupid it was, and it was like waking up from a dream and I suddenly had a choice.
    I was blessed to have had the opportunity some years ago to spend 3 months in the shelter where I had some awesome group counseling time though I have to tell you that I rather have been abused then to deal with the abuse that went on in the shelter by the director and staff.. it was horrible for me and my son. So I had to deal with that as well… always something. Have you ever had to deal with the same thing happening with doctors and other medical type workers? Why is there such a recurrence or trend?? (thank you for your blog… your words are comforting)

  6. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 5th March

    Darlene, a few months ago I was drowning in a wild stormy sea of misery. Then I searched online for HELP and found your blog ~ a life ring that is saving me from the stormy sea. Reading thru your posts, old and new, and all the comments, is so HEALING, Enlightening, and Affirming.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th March

      I am so glad that you are here and that you are willing to share your recovery process and your personal work here too.
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 2nd June

    You are right, we have to start somewhere, and “better than yesterday” is always good! I had to begin to value myself somehow, somewhere. It is very hard because we are convinced that our value will come from someone (parents, friends or lovers) OR from something, like work and success or material gain. But it doesn’t work that way and then we are left wondering what the heck!! It is when we take our value into our own hands and look at what we really blieve about ourselves, that we can see the lies for what they are and begin to change the way we think.
    I am so glad that you are doing that!
    Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: Laura Posted: 1st June

    Thank you. It is exactly what I am experiencing. And yes, I am more than tired, I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. I know my value isn’t established by them, my heart just wishes that I was valued by them which is what makes it a hard cyclical struggle. It is a constant fight to be valued and feel valued. But I guess on a positive, I at least value myself more than I ever have. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I think I’ve just given myself a reason to find 15 minutes every day to read.

  9. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th May

    Hi Laura,
    I hope that you will find time to read more too.. I can relate to you very much with what you have said here, and I have written a lot more about these very subjects here in this blog. It was always MY fault, and I always tried harder. Everyone ~ boyfriends, parents, siblings, in laws told me that I was the one that had a problem and I believed it. But I found out that it just part of how control works… how they kept me down. I thought I was this strong independent woman, and finally one day I just didn’t want to go on anymore… because I was just so tired of the fight to “be valued”. I felt like I was constantly trying to prove that I had a right to be here.. and I was getting tired. But I found my voice; I learned that my value is not established by them, but by me and I healed and established it, FOR ME. My life is very different today and not everybody likes it, but I feel great. I feel strong, valid and fulfilled. I live my life with purpose. I believe that the same is possible for all of us. =)
    Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Laura Posted: 28th May

    I hope I can find the time and space to read more. Even if it starts as just one person, having one person not tell you to get over it, past it, what’s wrong with you, I don’t remember that, it wasn’t that bad….etc. would be refreshing. I guess what people don’t realize is you don’t ask to have the damage done, it’s just done and it doesn’t just repair itself. If I could snap my fingers and ‘be normal’ believe me I’d save all the time, money and energy and do it in a heartbeat. It is great that you say we all deserve to have a voice. I feel so strongly about that. Even as a child I stood up for my siblings and tried to protect them from the physical abuse (and I’m the youngest!) and I still stand on the mountain tops saying, “NO! You cannot treat me that way!” But sadly I am still doing something wrong because it doesn’t change. I still get treated poorly and I feel I am screaming into empty air. And sometimes my hurt and need to stand up for myself becomes so strong that I am told I am “unapproachable” and “scary”. And all those feelings I had as a child come rushing back and I find it sad that I can’t get out of this loop. In two weeks it will be 40 years of it and I hope that like you I am able to find healing along this journey because I am finding it quite difficult. And I’m tired of scaring people away with my ‘protective shield’.

  11. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th May

    I went through years of talking too much to avoiding hearing anything. And years of never speaking before the talking years.. all of that for me had to do with coping, and dissociative stuff. (and dissociating is coping too!) Ahh.. I so appreciate the comments you leave. So many comments just remind me of something else that I want to write about! LOL

    Hi Carl,
    It is so wonderful to hear from you. There is so much power when we see our common bonds; the deep down pain that we try so hard to hide because we think that it sets us apart and we are ashamed, but in reality that common bond is what makes us able to overcome, and emerg from broken together in a human chain of stength and victory!
    Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Carl Posted: 14th May

    That first sentence really says it all. I made a similar observation the other night after listening to Dan, Ellen, and Stash’s first Dialog with Dignity. I’m looking forward to your Part 2.

  13. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 14th May

    A friend just emailed me a few days ago and said she was confused because she and I come from such different material backgrounds but we both have emotions that are the same about our childhoods – that bond of commonality that you are talking about among survivors. As usual, you have done a great job of writing what other survivors can relate to. Thanks.

    I have another friend who trusts what others tell her and doesn’t trust her own inner voice. She is constantly going from one spiritual workshop to another spending probably tens of thousands of dollars a year looking what someone who can fix what she sees as wrong with her. She runs from her own feelings. She talk, talk,talks rather than allowing herself to feel. She refuses to hear that the only way to end the pain is to go through it. Yes, it hurts and it ends when you face it and feel it. Thanks for the job that you and Carla have taken on to help other survivors.

  14. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th May

    Thanks for your comments and I hope you return and post one of your famous long comments! LOL I appreciate you.

    Yes, unraveling and not knowing why. I told my therapist in the intake session that I had a great life, great husband, three great kids, living my dream riding horses on a ranch, but for some reason I was extreemly unhappy and could not seem to get over constant depression.
    Thanks for your comments!
    Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Cyndi Posted: 14th May

    Another great post. I can’t wait for part 2. I did the same. Smiled and played my part. I didn’t even realize I was unhappy. I was forced to start looking inward as I began to unravel and had no idea why. It wasn’t easy but so very worth it!

  16. By: Nikki Posted: 13th May

    This blog is right on I have much to say on this but I am going to step back and try to gather my thoughts but I will say this much ..

    When a person is drowning we dont go to them and tell them to think positive about the waves that are drowning them and expect them to swim they must have a life line to be able to overcome those waves. But many modern philosophies teaches the “Think Positive” ideas.. which are way off base in so many ways.. thinking positive has a right place but it should never be the center piece of our healing because when it becomes our center piece then thinking positive becomes our narcotic which numbs us and we are not able to accept the truth.

    Like I said I have a lot to say on this and i may come back later and post my thoughts but I need to get them better organized ..

  17. By: Annie O'Sullivan Posted: 13th May

    the part in your article that struck me the hardest was the comment on having a choice about how I view it, just accept it and get over it or not talk about it because it was a long time ago. I even had a therapist (I had a few) tell me to “fake it till you make it” I still get angry recalling early in group therapy a girl covered her ears and said “stop it! I can’t hear any more” I was transferred to an new group that was a little more “like me”. We couldn’t teel then and people don’t ant to hear it now. they watch all sorts of terrible things on TV. Talk to each other using vile language, Watch war atrocities, but we have to keep it to ourselves, because it is too aweful to talk about. I am by no means a victim any longer, but, it is a double violation of a soul not to talk about it. Not talking, keeping the secret is what keeps you feeling damaged. The only one who needed the secret was the abuser, not you or or me.

    Sorry this is getting so long. I just feel so passionate about being free to say, this happened and I am not a bad person for talking about it! you aren’t and neither is anyone else out there struggling for thier voice.

    Great article!!!!!!! Thanks for listening, Annie

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

      Annie! Thanks for your comment.
      Oh my gosh, I have never thought about that before, the way that everyone can watch this stuff on TV and then refuse to allow others to talk about it! This is such a wounding truth. I love your expression “double violation of the soul” that is so true also.
      I am never concerned about long comments! I welcome them always. I love your passion, and I share that passion with you.
      Hugs, Darlene

  18. By: _amandajo Posted: 13th May


    I’m always reading your blogs, but never comment. This one though, I relate to more because I’m still kind of in this phase. At least today I think I am.
    The places we get stuck. Or, the places we are currently stuck. I’ve always had a problem expressing feelings. It’s easier with written words, but not necessarily sharing those words with others. So, I usually never express them. After the first few instances of my abuse, that’s how I thought you moved forward – shove it deep down and keep going. Don’t let it show. That’s also how you get through instances that somehow keep happening; let them happen, feel it briefly if necessary, but then never again. Soon you just don’t feel anything, even after something horrible.
    No shock here, that doesn’t work. It comes back to bite you in the butt, and quite hard at that. I like to think I’m ready to tackle it all and talk, but I’ve been told that might not be the case. Too many mixed feelings up in my head as well. Definitely a bummer, so to speak, but you’re right – it does make me feel a *little* better to know others have been here. It CAN get better, and HOPEFULLY it will. Just working on that choosing, and me having to do it, thing.

    Sorry this is so long…when all I really wanted to say, was thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

      Hello “Amanda”
      I am so glad that you shared with us instead of just saying “thanks”. I like to think that one of the best parts of the blog is the comments. Other people saying “yes me too” The common bond we share empowers us to move forward because we see others moving forward. We realize that we no longer have to let these things happen, or keep quiet about it, and that we deserve more. We deserve to know our value. We deserve to have a voice. We all do!
      Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

    Thanks Susan!

    Mandy, Welcome,I am so glad that you found us and thank you for sharing a bit of yoru own story. Itn’t it amazing what happens when we start to talk about and to see the truth!
    Hope you share again soon!

    Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: Mandy Posted: 13th May

    Darlene,I just discovered your site and feel that it is going to be another key to my journey! I related so much to what you said. I too regularly told myself God doesn’t create junk. It didn’t seem to matter how much I worked on myself or did what I thought others thought I should do to improve…it wasn’t until I stepped back and allowed myself to let out the abuse and see my “family” for what it really was that I truly began to feel real change happening in myself.

  21. By: Susan Posted: 13th May

    Great post as always, Darleen! You do such a great job of painting the picture of what it was like, what happened and how you found your way to freedom! Awesome!


  22. By: Rebekah Encke Posted: 13th May


    I am so glad I found your blog, you seem to put what I am going through into words I cant find…especially with what you wrote today, I am doing and have done all of the things you said that you have done that didnt work, because I have no idea what else to do…so I am really looking forward to what you are sharing next on this part of the journey. I am in the very beginning stages of healing, I only told my story for the first time about 2 1/2 months ago, after 20 years of silence…so I know I have a long way to go, and you have been very helpful so far and I am so thankful you have the courage and ability to share so well and so openly, it means a lot to me. Thank you

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

      Thank you for your encouragement. This blog was a dream that I had about 4 years ago, but I was not courageous enough to write it then. First I began to heal by learning to do the re-wireing that I constantly talk about. Then I started to see that the roots of my problem were exactly the roots of other peoples problems. This skewed belief system. When I started speaking in seminars, I really paid attention to what others were saying about where they got stuck. I got this driving desire to tell everyone so that is what I am doing now. I want to be that voice for others, to say what they cannot say so that they/ you/ we can hear it and come out of that fog we lived in for so long.
      Thank you, this kind of feedback keeps me going forward.
      Hugs, Darlene

  23. By: carol derry Posted: 13th May

    your blogs are a great help to some of us like me dealt with trauma by avoidace and repression. some of yur words have struck a calming chord within me, like as if some does know

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

      I am glad that you feel understood by what I have written Carol. That is my hearts desire. To give others hope by writing my recovery process in such a way that they feel understood.
      Thank you for your lovely comment.

  24. By: Splinteredones Posted: 13th May

    Gorgeous words once again my dear. It is amazing what other people can do to ya. Even those in the helping professions. It seems that the maxim first do no harm only applies when one wants it to.

    I look forward hungrily to reading about sticking points and commonality. Thanks again

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

      Hello Splinty,
      To put it in a nut shell, we were brainwashed, convinced to think that we were not worth it, not valued, not protected. It is up to us now to decide that isn’t going to be true anymore, but first ~ discovery what the dang brainwashing was! Discovery the false that we believe and re wire our brains. Striving not to harm myself anymore was important in order for me to realize where others could and did harm me.
      Hugs, Darlene
      Today I strive to do no harm.. but I think it is only because I am so aware of how much harm was done to me. Unfortunatly, not everyone is so aware.

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