Three Keys to Breaking the Chains and Facing Emotional Pain


emotional healing from abuse Sometimes facing the pain seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to face what I had to face in order to get on with my life. I didn’t want to feel anything. I had survived by shutting down my feelings and by shutting down my needs. I didn’t want to feel or be aware; it was much too frightening.

This was the spin; the vicious cycle.

But I must have wanted to live. There was a tiny spark in me that didn’t go out. There was a tiny flame that belonged to me and a determined little flame it was. That spark was determined to live. The “how to go about doing that” was the problem. I wanted to be free but there were certain chains that had to be broken. Certain things held me back and because those chains formed when I was so young, I didn’t realize they were even there. They were familiar; they were part of me. I thought they helped me, and even thought they were “saving me”. I was afraid to break them and emerge into the sunlight. That was the spin that I was caught in.  I had lived in “survivor mode” for so long that it was all I knew. 

Survivor mode is the shut down place; not feeling, not needing, not facing the truth.  Survivor mode is the only way to get through any kind of childhood trauma. But as an adult it was in my way.  It became one of the road blocks to freedom.

Victim mentality believes that being compliant will keep me safe. Being compliant means never facing or talking about childhood trauma. Being compliant means never standing up to the abusers, oppressors, or to anyone who triggers those feelings or fears that are born out of survivor mode. Victim Mentality is a learned behavior also from childhood and being compliant was the only hope of being safe as a child; the problem is that I never grew into an adult with value when I was stuck in that way of thinking. Living in victim mentality, I perceived everyone as being more important than I was and therefore was compliant to almost everyone.

At the root of depression and low self esteem and wrapped all around my victim mentality and survivor mode was my difficulty with self love. I had not been taught my value. In fact, I had been taught to doubt my value. I had been taught that I had no real value. When I was told I had value, it was usually attached to some form of control or manipulation which carried the message that my value was only in what I could do for someone else. I had to learn to value myself. That might sound easy but in reality, self love has been one of the hardest things to learn. Even today, every struggle that I have has an element of struggle with self love at the root of it.

These three things; understanding survivor mode, understanding victim mentality, and realizing that I did not know I had value and therefore had not learned to love myself, held the keys to freedom.

I learned everything in this process of recovery and achieved all forward motion by looking backwards. I had to examine the results of being devalued and understand how I had come to live in victim mentality. I had to take a look at how I survived, so that I could see that I survivor mode, although necessary back then, was no longer necessary anymore. In order to learn my own value, I had to take a look at why I didn’t know my value. I had to take a look at how my self esteem got “broken” and went missing in the first place. It was there that I realized where all the depressions and dissociative identity originated. It was there that I began to see how to replace the missing links in my childhood so that I could overcome depression, low self esteem and dissociative identity disorder.  

It was there that I found so much HOPE that there really was freedom on the other side of broken.

And that was when I realized that my fear of the pain of facing that stuff was also in my way. Perhaps the pain would not be as bad as the pain that I finally realized I was already living in? I had to take that chance. Of course it paid off and I was right. The pain in the process, which is more acute but never permanent was never as bad as the constant although more subtle pain I had always been submerged in.

Facing those details was what set me on the path to overcoming low self esteem, overcoming all the abuse and the resulting depressions and dissociative identity disorder and most of all, overcoming the false belief system that defined my life and had determined my course up till that point.

Please share your thoughts. Please feel free to use any name you wish; It is important to me that you feel safe here.

Another Snapshot of Truth on the Journey to Freedom

Darlene Ouimet                    

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73 response to "Three Keys to Breaking the Chains and Facing Emotional Pain"

  1. By: Margarita Posted: 8th October

    I so agree that the turning points in this battle are understanding the survival mode of a way of living and the victim mentality, because if I’m not aware of them I can’t help myself resolving my habits of living in this modes! The fear is so extreme for survival that so much gets blocked from my awareness and being stuck at the age of when the trauma started is the big key to finding the answers! I’m still living in a big part of my every day life as a age of 5-6 years old, who can’t change unless she starts to feel safe! I’m trying to parent her and to teach her different possibilities, which are safe for her and she can explore, learn and grow. That is the only way of getting better by getting out of the danger world she lives in all up to this moment and learning that there is a better way and this is possible! Thank you Darlene for the hard work and for your dedication to help others!

  2. By: Margarita Posted: 8th October

    Hi Lynda,
    I don’t know if the pain from facing the past will stay to the end of my life, but I know that if I start to feel as a better person, which was not possible to see through because of all my past, I think it will make me able to handle the pain from the past when I no longer have to live in the constant pain of believing I’m a bad person. I’m still having a lot of work to do myself for the reality of my past but I’m optimistic that making progress in the work even with a baby steps, it will get better. I know it won’t be tomorrow but this hard work it will pay off and I will feel better, free and independent at the end of it!

  3. By: linda Posted: 7th October

    Is the pain of facing the past really going to pass? is it really overcomable? is it really less then hiding my heart, as I have been doing for 60 years? I have just begun to encounter my heart again. I realize that I don’t have good emotional boundrys. I don’t even know what they are or should be. I am overwhelmed, and I have only just begun.

  4. By: Summer Breeze Posted: 4th October

    Did anyone else hear “Just be yourself. You don’t have to impress anyone”, after being lectured or reprimanded?

    I’ve ALWAYS felt some sort of way about that phrase, when it was told to me. But I’ve never been able to put my finger on it. Like a backhanded insult maybe?

    Any thoughts?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th October

      Hi Summer Breeze,
      Ya, just be yourself ~ when you have been taught your whole life that “yourself” isn’t good enough. That is quite a thing to get your head around, isn’t it!
      hugs, Darlene

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