Toxic Mother Daughter Relationship and Oprah Winfrey’s Mother



dysfunctional mother daughter relationship

Seeing through New Eyes

This article is based on a page from the unauthorized biography “Oprah a biography by Kitty Kelley

When I grabbed this book off the shelf at Costco, I didn’t realize that it was an unauthorized biography about Oprah Winfrey. I thought that it was the real story. I thought that Oprah had agreed to the publication. I quickly realized that I had picked up something that might be full of lies and conclusions that had no right to be drawn; but since I bought it, I decided to read it anyway. 

One of the most popular subjects here on Emerging from Broken is the subject of dysfunctional and toxic relationships between mothers and daughters.  I think that as humans we are born craving love, community and acceptance from our mothers and when it appears that our mothers hate us, disapprove of us, judge us or generally never seem to love and accept us… it is a mystery that we are attracted to solving.  I want my mother to LOVE me.  I want a relationship with my mother. But I got tired of how the entire burden of that desire was left up to me with zero accountability on the part of my mother.

I came across a part in Kitty Kelley’s book about Oprah Winfrey that bugged me a great deal. I realize that this is an unauthorized biography, but the example that I found about dysfunctional and toxic mother daughter relationship was so good, that I just could not resist writing about it for Emerging from Broken. It shows the way that society views how we SHOULD respect parents no matter what.  It shows that the definition of love is often communicated in a very dysfunctional way.   In my opinion, this part in the book explains the just how toxic mother daughter relationships can be and that society actually views this toxic false definition of love and respect as the right way to view it.

The following is a quote from page 175 of the book Oprah; a biography by Kitty Kelley. This quote is in the context of a conversation that a very close family friend (whom Oprah calls her Aunt Katherine) Mrs. Esters has with the author of the book.

Mrs. Esters says

“Oprah takes very good care of her mother, who now buys five-hundred-dollar hats and has drivers who have drivers and helpers and cooks and all, but the story of Oprah and Vernita is sad and complicated”. said Mrs.Esters. “Oprah does not love her mother at all…She gives her a great deal financially but she does not give her the respect and affection a daughter should, and that bothers me. Vernita did the best she could with Oprah, who was a wilful, runaway child….Her mother has had to bury two of her three children over the years and I can tell you that when a parent loses a child it can you to your knees. I know. I had to bury my son. So Oprah should be more forgiving of her mother…”

This paragraph bothered me. It reminded me of my own life, and the way that I have been blamed for the problems in my relationship with my mother. It irritated me. Notice the word “should”. (…“but she does not give her mother the respect that a daughter should” and “Oprah should be more forgiving…)

Notice that Mrs. Esters brings up two children who have passed away as though that has something to do with the whole thing.  That is what I call a “rabbit trail” The fact that two of Opera’s mothers children died has NOTHING to do with why Oprah should love her mother or with Oprah’s relationship with her mother. See how the lies are told? Does this mean that the definition of love is “feeling sorry” for your mother?

And you “should” respect your mother, because she is your mother? Because she did the best she could? The best according to who? And why does she use the word “forgiving” because that implies that there is indeed something to forgive and it bothers me that the word “should” is in the same sentence as forgiving. There is just something wrong about all this.

These quotes are a reflection of how society is brainwashed to regard parents as Gods.

Mrs Esters also comments that Oprah was “a wilful and runaway child” which puts the all the blame for the behaviour of her mother squarely back on Oprah’s shoulders. And that is the whole problem in the first place. Children are always blamed for whatever the parents do or “have to do”.  Like I said this paragraph is a great example of the way society views “toxic mother daughter relationships” blaming the daughter or blaming the child no matter what age they are, for all the problems.

There is so much “truth leaking” about what really went on in this paragraph but in our society, nobody catches it.  Everyone hears it the way that it is intended to be heard; that Oprah, the child, failed her mother and continues to fail her to this day.

This part of the quote in the statement “Oprah does not love her mother at all…She gives her a great deal financially but she does not give her the respect and affection a daughter should, and that bothers me.” … well that Really bothers ME. Respect and affection? That phrase made me cringe. We are supposed to give our mothers affection? Why? Even if they beat us? Even if they sexually abuse us? Even if they disregard us as human beings and neglect our emotional health? This whole thing implies that being a daughter is a duty; that this “duty” has guidelines that need to be abided by or else you are NOT a good daughter.  And there is no accountability on the part of the mother.   And what about the concept of “RESPECT”? If the childhood history that Oprah endured is actually true, then her mother was not a very loving mother, and her mother didn’t respect Oprah at all, so why “SHOULD” Oprah give her mother respect and affection?

I don’t believe that children learn by being told HOW to be loving daughters.  I believe that we learn by example and the example that my mother set for me is exactly what I learned. My mother was not nurturing or respectful. Her example of “love” was dysfunctional. She taught me things from a very one sided point of view. What applied to me, didn’t apply to her because she is the mother, and society accepts that view. 

I don’t think my mother is very happy with our relationship because we don’t have one, but honestly, whose fault is that? Why does society view it as MY fault? Based on the small parts of the toxic mother daughter relationship I had with my mother and have shared here in Emerging from Broken, it is clear that my mother did a lot of damage to me. I am not going to take the blame for that because my mother and society are more comfortable blaming all relationship difficulties on the kids, no matter what age they are. I think that it’s time that everyone looked at the difficult subject of toxic mother daughter relationships through the eyes of truth. 

The problems don’t start with the child. Even if that child was never abused by the parent, the adult child is often angry that said parent didn’t protect them from the abuse that did happen and that is understandable.  Think about that in relation to yourself as a child. I believed most of my life that the problem was me, because I was always told it was me. But does that mean it was the truth? No.

I had a very strong reaction to the way this story about Oprah Winfrey was presented and to the way that her relationship with her mother was viewed by a family friend. It triggered all the memories of how no matter what my parents did, no matter how dysfunctional and toxic they were, no matter how I was regarded and devalued, I was the problem and any lack of acceptance or complaint was regarded as disrespectful and therefore viewed as my failure as a daughter.

Please share your thoughts on this example of toxic mother daughter relationship. I look forward to the discussion in the comments.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

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Categories : Mother Daughter



Yes. Dead on, Darlene.

Respect is something I would like very much to *earn.* If it has to be handed to me for free, I’d just as soon not have it. Therefore, my goal as a mother is to try to live my life so that my children have *reason* to respect me. And to give them the affection, acceptance, and respect that they need from a parent. Likely, under those conditions, they will feel affection for me…but if that is required, it is a poisoned nonentity.

Beautifully said, friend.


I agree, it is never the child’s fault for the behavior of the parent. I didn’t quite read what she wrote and take it the way you did. I think perhaps, poorly, she was explaining some of the mother’s past and history. It does affect how we parent sadly. Maybe I read it wrong and misinterpreted it, but it came across to me that she was stating that maybe the mother had a lot of grief in her life while raising her? Perhaps not. I know that with my own relationship with my mom, sitting down and openly talking to her about my past, her past, and the abuse I suffered (not from her) helped tremendously. While I don’t agree with how things were handled, I understand it now. She regrets how things were handled. I’m certain because my mother was not my abuser, that my situation is different.

I do struggle now with the respect factor. I have a hard time dealing with one situation within the extended family where respect is called for, for an elder who is abusive. I won’t tolerate abusive language etc toward my children and I won’t remain silent about it. But for that generation that says, “You MUST respect your elders” it certainly hurts and messes up relationships within the family. I will not teach my children to respect every adult just because they are an adult. I think that is where we have fully gone off on an evil trail with children in history. I am teaching my children to stand up for themselves and to tell me if something doesn’t feel right and they have my permission to disobey an adult and come to me. That’s a gift I wish I had received because even to this day, it goes against my grain to speak up to others.

Good topic for discussion Darlene!! Sorry for the novel.


This triggers the same feelings in me. The relationship between my mother and I was so toxic that I couldn’t do it anymore so we have been estranged for nearly 18 years … except in August I found out that she’s been dead since February 2007. Big shock and very hurtful that she specifically instructed that I not be told. Anyways now I am free to blog my way through the grieving process without worrying about her stumbling across it! I am planning to post every Friday – you can read my last post about it at


Wow, Darlene. So right on. If this is an unauthorized biography, and maybe this story isn’t true about Oprah’s life, it is certainly true that judgements like this are often passed against “disrespectful” children. Do you think Kitty Kellie was trying to use it to condemn Oprah, too? It reminds me so much of my own parents’ attitude that I feel emotionally triggered (which is a good thing), but I am going to take time to connect emotionally and do some journaling before I say any more here. Thanks again.


free speech, free defamation of Oprah


defamation of Oprah by the author of the book, that is


I know for sure that it is impossible to fill the role of daughter when you’ve never been given the love and respect that a parent should give their daughter. It takes two to make a relationship and the greater weight of responsibility in creating and maintaining that relationship rests with the parent. It seems that Oprah went beyond what was created by her mother by the way she cared for her mother. Oprah didn’t abuse in return.

This is something I get stuck on though. It seems that people think a child can’t abuse a parent without it being the parent’s fault. My dad was abusive to the family he created and to his parents. His parents, my grandparents, were the only source of security that I had as a child. I never witnessed them doing anything abusive. What I did see was that no one ever held my dad accountable for the way he abused all of us. I think back over all of the times when we should have had him put in jail but none of us ever considered it. I think that this is how we failed my dad. He always got away with it and the people he abused carried the shame and the blame. In my family, it was the abused who were always guilty and never the abuser, whether they were a child or not.



Hi Miriam
I share that same goal as a mother. Thank you for your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

Welcome Janet to emerging from Broken

Hi Mel
What I am saying is “so what?” why does that excuse the way that she regards Oprah today?
It is about the accepted way that relationships are done. If my mother sat down with me and admitted that things should have been done differently, then I think her and I would be able to mend our relationship even though in many cases my mother WAS my abuser and in other cases she put me in danger, making her a co-abuser. The thing that gets in the way is that I am required to understand her without the abuse being addressed. I started to recover when I realized that what happened to me was wrong regardless of the excuses that sick people had for allowing it or for not dealing with it and taking care of me.
About respect… i had to learn a new definition of that word. Good for you for teaching your children a more truth based way to have relationships.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sophia
I don’t know what Kitty Kelleys intention was but the book gave me the feeling that she is not very supportive of Oprah at all.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam
I have come to realize that we (I) don’t always see the truth. I have been shocked to find out about abusers that were “so nice” when ever I was around them. Passive and emotional abusers can cause untold lifelong damage without anyone but the victim knowing the truth about it. Kids are not born abusers. Having said that, I know that kids can become abusers. (and all abusers were kids once) BUT i think what we are talking about is HOW does that happen? Although it may not be the fault of the parent as far as that the parent didn’t do the act of abuse, but the parent modeled compliance or the parent didn’t notice abuse and therefore didn’t stop it or intervene in any way then the parent contributed to the problem and the child should be allowed to FEEL that way. It doesn’t mean that there is no resolution.
In my family it was the same… the abuser got away with it and we carried the shame and blame and my feelings didn’t count. My parents were raised the same way but that doesn’t mean they are without blame, just as I am not without blame for what I passed down. BUT I am making up for it and speaking out against it now. Hopefully this kind of insight that we are sharing here, will make a difference in the way many view this whole funky dynamic that we grew up with!
Thanks for sharing and for your contributions! Always
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, Ditto!:0)


It doesn’t excuse the way she regards Oprah today. Not at all. Of course, we have no way of knowing if anything in this book is even true. We certainly do not need to respect abusers who cannot own their mistakes and apologize for them and try to mend the relationship.


I can see how the word “should” can be triggering. It triggered me in reading it too! It wasn’t all that long ago when Susan Forward, PhD went against the tide of her academic circles by writing books such as “Toxic Parents” and “Emotional Blackmail”.

The fact is that the rights of children in our society are still largely ignored and it doesn’t help much either when “Commandments” such as “Honor Thy Father & Mother” are engrained at such an early age and extremely difficult to try and shake off…and further still supported by books like this one!

It’s kind of a double-whammy in a way, the way I see it. Not only do we struggle with carrying guilt and shame which isn’t even ours to begin with, we are also up against an overall societal mindset which ignores the feelings and needs of children to boot!

Much easier to just perpetuate the ignorance.

Though, hopefully this tide is changing. Going against the grain is not a easy feat. I’m sure just about every civil right movement throughout our history from women’s suffrage to the civil rights of the 1960’s up to recent legislation regrading gay rights was and is an ongoing struggle. Tenacity to stick up for what’s right for the underclass, in this case, abused children will surely have its day as well and I think that blogs such as yours as well as many others help towards those ends.

FYI, I ran across this Italian article a few months ago, which I found extremely validating:

Italian Parents Too Old And Selfish To Look After Child:

An Italian toddler is to be put up for adoption after a court ruled that her parents, aged 70 and 57, are too old and selfish to look after her.
Nick Squires

By Nick Squires, Rome

8:45PM BST 16 Sep 2011

The 16-month old girl was conceived by Gabriella De Ambrosis, 57, a librarian, and her retired husband Luigi, 70, the former mayor of a small town, with the help of artificial insemination, but the court in Turin has ruled that they are incapable of raising her properly.

The case first came to light last year when the couple allegedly left the baby, then aged just one month, unattended in a car for 40 minutes outside their home in the town of Mirabello in Piedmont, of which Turin is the regional capital.

Mr De Ambrosis said he was unloading some shopping from his car and never let the child out of his sight.

On another occasion neighbours reported that the couple left the baby, crying and alone, in a car at 10pm one night in an apparent attempt to make her go to sleep.

They were reported to social services and the child, named Viola, was taken by police officers and placed in the care of a foster family.

The couple were subjected to tests by psychologists and psychiatrists, who found that Mrs De Ambrosis had failed to establish an emotional bond with her baby and her husband had not shown enough concern for the child’s wellbeing.

The case went to court and four judges from a children’s tribunal in Turin recommended that the toddler be put up for adoption.

In a 16-page ruling, they said that her parents had been selfish and narcissistic in their decision to have a child at their advanced age.

They had resorted to artificial insemination after two applications to adopt a child were turned down on the basis that they were too old.

“They (the parents) never thought about the fact that their daughter would be orphaned at a very young age, and before that would be forced to care for her elderly parents, just at the time when, as a young adult, she will have most need of their support,” the judges ruled.

The couple had been driven by “a narcissistic need to have a child” and showed “indifference with regard to the child’s perspective.”

The little girl was “the fruit of a distorted application of the enormous possibilities offered by genetic progress,” the judges ruled.

In a clarifying statement released on Friday, the court said that the ruling was based primarily on the fact that the couple had “abandoned” the baby on numerous occasions, endangering her physical and mental health.

The child has been looked after for the last month by a foster family.

The couple, who married in 1990 and spent years trying to conceive naturally, plan to appeal the ruling.

“It’s as if she has been stolen from us,” Mr De Ambrosis told La Stampa newspaper. “But the real victim of this injustice is not us, it’s our baby. Why should she be torn from her parents?

“We see her only every 15 days and every time we’re reminded of the morning when the Carabinieri came to take her away from us.”

Giulio Calosso, a lawyer for the parents, said they would contest every part of the court’s decision to put the baby up for adoption.

“There was never any intention to abandon her and we will demonstrate that without a shadow of doubt,” he said.


Children are not chattel or property! It’s refreshing to me to see an article linking parents with being selfish!!!


This is a great article, I am really beginning to take on board the fact that the abuse speaks far more about those who abused me than it does about me, and that the abuse is always the fault of the abuser rather than the abused. It’s been quite to huge shift in my thinking which has made such a different to me, to how I feel and to how I see things.


Hi Darlene,
I am new to Emerging From Broken and I would first like to thank you for this outlet and understanding. It means so much to me!

I’m 37 and just now learning to cope with not having a relationship with my mother. 2007 was the last time I would express my love to her and she responded with “love is a strong wrong that most people misuse so therefore I don’t use it”. Wow, I thought that was some deep stuff to say but little did I know she would top that statement a hundred times over in more than a hundred different ways. Society did make me believe I was wrong if I disagreed with my mother when I had some sense of right from wrong. At first as a child it was little funny when my brother told me I was adopted and left on the door step. I do recall crying but making sure to ask my mother who too thought it was funny yet assured me that she carried and gave birth to me. Now thinking about it that is what she did, carried me. The love from her to me would never been shown. I often complained as a child that my mother favored both my older brother’s and only she would verbally pretend not to know what or where I could get that from. My mother birthed me but never liked me. Most people act as if that is impossible and it wasn’t until this site when I knew other people experienced or felt the same way. I was the dark child she bore. My older two brother both had their own separate father whom left my mother before having me of course and took all the food out the refrigerator from her and the two boys her had with her. This would show or lay a path for how she allowed all men to treat her and I had to pay for it all. My mother hated that my father cared enough about me to take care of me financially, something she had not experienced the previous 17 years. She told me one day while I was in my twenties that she never loved my dad but he my dad gave her plenty of money and helped her take care of her boys. What a loser! So when she had me and my dad wanted more for me than my brothers then my mom somehow became jealous of me. My dad abused my mother and they divorced by my age of five. My mother would go on to have several unstable relationships with other men whom did not love her nor her children but if you had some money then she is willing to risk her life, her children’s lives and anything that revolved around them.

To touch on what Darlene said ” being a daughter is a duty”. Yes I agree. My duty was to save her live, feed her (my mother) through a straw from having her teeth kicked through her lips by her ex boyfriend of 11 years, take her home from emergency rooms, bathe her and rub bruises, chase and stab her ex all before going to high school. Then once in my twenties it was my duty to help her raise her grown, alcoholic, drug addicted son my brother who is nine years older than me. When you can’t stand up to being on duty or refuse then you are really a piece of crap to her. I too learned to love from example and not what I was told, really I wasn’t told love either so… I am most times embarrassed if the topic of parents comes up or during a conversation it causes for me to talk of my mother. I feel terrible to say “I don’t have a relationship with my mother” because people then look at you like murder has been committed. I feel instantly like I have to defend my statement before I can even continue the conversation. I shouldn’t have to defend myself to everyone, why do they automatically think my mother or all mothers are right and just. Some women have children and resent them, mine did. My mother dislikes me so much she worked on my children to turn them against me. As of September, she is successful in taking all of what and who I cherished and loved. I shouldn’t be embarrassed and one day for me it will all be OK mentally and emotionally. I would love to get her out my head and off my back. I don’t want anymore duties from her and they seem to keep coming even after i moved out of state. My mother is toxic and unhealthy, I am so happy to be free for the most parts. I apologize if I wrote too much I just have so much to say. I have so much I need assistance with placing what happened in my childhood to now. Thank you again fr listening to me vent a little


Fi, When I understood that it was them not me, the world suddenly, turned right side up.:0)



incredible. So many adult women really need to hear this.


Darlene, this is incredible and as usual it brings up so much that many of us are dealing with. There is this overwhelming guilt that we feel for not doing ‘enough’ for our mothers and it does not help when we are told by family, society, etc. As daughters, we have to defend our rights to not have our mothers in our lives. Why do people think that I should have a woman who tried to murder me more than once in my life ? What exactly kind of relationship am I supposed to have with someone that dangerous ? When people say ‘you need your mother’ I want to scream ‘for what ? to finish me off for good ?’ I have been on my own for eight years now and although I will be 31 in a couple of weeks, I have far come to the conclusion that I do not want children. I have so much work to do on myself and I dont think that I could give them true love. Not until I love myself.



You said ” It’s kind of a double-whammy in a way, the way I see it. Not only do we struggle with carrying guilt and shame which isn’t even ours to begin with, we are also up against an overall societal mindset which ignores the feelings and needs of children to boot!”

Yes, this is a huge part of the problem and if we don’t learn to think about this properly, through a more truthful grid, all of us (the whole world) stays stuck in it.
Thanks for sharing

Hi Fi
YAY, thanks for sharing this huge victory!

Yes, I agree, and men too.

Hi Celeste
Excellent points about society and relationship. The way that people talk about this (you “need” your mother”) is insane. I am committed to exposing that kind of insanity for the purpose of freedom, healing and wholeness.

Hugs Darlene


Yes, I agree entirely.



I like what you wrote about your belief about respect and how its not your fault that your relationship with your mom is not what it should be and that we learn how to respect our parents by how they treat us.

I myself learned to fight for my life.. to be afraid .. to do what I am told or else.. but not do what I am told because its proper .. I was trained to do things or else.. always afraid that if I didnt do things right. I was going to be clobbered.. going to see the long night on my knees..end up in a hot tub.. be slapped, kicked and whatever else..

I learned in my psych class this was conditioning me.. so that I would be afraid.. every time I do something I am always afraid.. everything i did as a child was scrutinized never good enough ..always was waiting for that violent hit..

I never learned respect or love as punishments.. beatings were attached to everything told to do.. I was never asked but told and with the “or else” after wards..

If mom loved me and wanted me to respect her she would say “honey..please help mommy.. or mommy doesn’t want you to do that. ” I know the right way parents should do children from my avid addiction to bbooks.. I learned quickly . .through reading.. I wasn’t loved.. or respected and that good parents were not like my parents.. I know there are places for discipline and times for punishment even in a goo home..but the abusive hatefulness that my mom chose was not normal and because of that.. I approach life in a very frightened submissive way afraid to question and afraid to make mistakes. When I fail it’s like the end of the world..because God forbid we failed anything..

I don’t want to say much on the “unathorized book about Oprah” since it is filled with untruths but you did well, Darlene to take the ideas and how how slanted was understanding of how we should act towards abusive uncaring parents.

I know the right way things should have done but am very much scarred from all the un-right things done to me.. I don’t hate my mom but cannot respect the way she brought me up or continues to do me as it’s not how mother should treat children .. and like you .. I am sad there is not relationhip with my mom but it’s not for my failure to try..




Hi Carmell
Somehow I lost your comment! please forgive my late response
and Welcome to Emerging from Broken

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that this all happened to you. You have certainly highlighted exactly what I am talking about in this website about the false definition of love
and the utter destruction caused by the misuse of power. I think you are going to like it here!

Please never feel that your comments are too long. It matters not to me the size of the comments! Say what you need to say to get this stuff out.
hugs, Darlene


I never understood how people expected so much love to come from me when it was never shown. When people say ‘you should love your mother’ I feel like asking ‘why’ or ‘how’ would be more appropriate. If love and care has never been shown to me then what do I give in return ? The fact that such a mother-daughter relationship does not exist is not a fault of my own, its easy to blame the daughter to say what I did wrong. But I am not a creator of my mothers mental illness and to stay and tolerate such abuse was not going to make it more loving, if anything, I would have died.

I can no longer pretend that I dont feel anger towards my mother or others in my family and after decades of being told that I had to somehow shut off my human emotions, I feel much more clearly, much more violently than before. Anger does have a way to teaching you so much. Not feeling was the problem.

I cant feel much respect for my mother or for the mothers in my family. Abuse is still abuse. They knew of the hurt and chose to turn away instead. I cant return that with a box of chocolates and roses.

Going back to the book, when it is quoted as ‘Oprah was a willful and runaway child’ well maybe she was. We all had to be willful, how else would we survive. But having strong will as a little girl is seen as disrespectful. You’re not supposed to have whatever spirit or force inside of you to keep going when you are being deprived of the very necessities of life. The way the book is slanted is proof that no one considers the abuse that we suffer, that somehow if our mothers arent happy, its because of us.

I cant do much for my mother’s happiness or unhappiness and quite frankly, I dont want to. I gave more than enough when the world told me that I gave nothing at all. I cant put my life on hold or put my life in danger for someone who refuses care or even care for me. I spent my life believing that she was the only one who needed care as she was the ‘sick one’ and because I ‘knew better’ I had to see to her ‘being sick’ But tried as I did, I came up terribly short.

Mothers (and fathers) be careful how you treat your daughters (and sons) we remember everything.


This is a travesty of what a family “should” be. I don’t know waht this womans motives are, but they are not to expose the truth of what child abuse is. Respect is something that has to be earned, it is not anyone’s by divine right.
When a couple decide to havea child, they do it for very selfish reasons – certainly not out of interest or respect for the person that child has a right to be. We don’t ask to be born, and certainly it is our right to be born into a loving, nurturing environment.
My own mother was a respcted professional but a cold and disengaged parent – I feared her, but wanted her love and respect. My father was a child in an adults body, to the end of his days. I was a better daughter than he ever was a father. All I wanted from him was respect and love. I didn’t fear him, I despised him. He was not otherwise abusive to me, but he failed utterly to protect me – or to stand up to my abusers. Were they good parents? NO. Did they do the best they could? No – they knew better. Do I blame them – No – they had their own issues, which I can view with compassion – even though I do not feel forgiveness towards them. I am angry about my home and upbringing, it was dreadful. But I reserve the real, deep anger for the people who actively harmed me. They all had choices; my parents tried not to repeat the mistakes made by their own parents – and to some extent succeeded no doubt. My teachers also had choices – and chose to actively abuse and cause damage to my mind and body, from which I shall never fully recover. I will be able to heal to some extent, but what was done, was done, the past cannot be erased.
Kitty Kelley – SHAME ON YOU – a child is innocent and helpless – if she runs away she is asking for help.


I just read about Kitty Kelley on Wikipedia. She has made a career of writing unauthorized biographies of very famous people, under the guise of telling the “truth” about celebrities the public tends to glorify. She has been called “encyclopedically vicious.” She slants everything in her subjects’ lives to make them look bad. But of course, writing about someone being a bad, undutiful daughter would only work if the culture buys into the belief that parents must be respected no matter what. So part of the problem is that Kelley makes her money by destroying the images of others, but she is only feeding popular prejudices anyway. Like someone said on another thread, it’s like we live in an abuse factory.


I believe that anyone “LOOKING IN” writer ,relative or friend,,,,can never see the truth of a toxic mother/daughter relationship. The should ofs can drive a daughter crazy! I get this because of my mother now being in a wheel chair and pitty/poor me role she still plays but has hung up her physical sadistic side and now chooses sadistic words. I am rubbed the wrong way by this article too! No one truly ever can know the real pain that is endured.


Hi Celeste
Excellent comments. I hope everyone reads them ~ thank you so much for sharing. You express the pain and the truth very well.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Libby
Again excellent expression of pain and truth. Great comments also!
Thank you; hugs Darlene

Yes, I totally get what you are saying here about your own situation. My mother changed her tactics as I got older etc.
Thanks, hugs, Darlene


At the age of 3, I became my mother’s protector. I remember making that decision for myself. I knew at that young age that my mother didn’t want to feel anything. As an adult, when my parents split and later divorced, I stepped in as her protector and brought her into my home. I remember thinking that she couldn’t take care of herself so I would do it. I did this with my husband’s approval. She lived with us for 14 years. The reason that she left and moved in with my sister and neice was that for the first time she told me that if so-and-so came to visit that summer then she was leaving. After years of working on myself in 12-Step programs, I was finally ready to let go of her physical presence. I told her to let me know when she wanted us to take her to my sister’s house and we would take her. She lived with my sister and neice for 4 years before she died of a massive heart attack.

I remember at one time my 12-Step sponsor told me that one day I would have to divorce my mom. I didn’t understand why he said that to me at the time. When my husband and I had gone to move my mother into our home, I remember telling myself that I would settle for having my mother physically in my life since she had never been there emotionally for me.

I loved my mother and I wanted her to love me. She couldn’t. She didn’t love herself. She was so emotionally shut down. I don’t know why but she was by the time that I was 3 when I made the decision to protect her. She could say the words, “I love you.” but I never felt they were real. There was never any emotion behind the words.

What I realized that summer that she went to live with my sister was that as long as she had been in my home, it didn’t feel like it was mine, like I was the woman in charge of the home as such. I was the child and she was the adult – the mother who I was still trying to please so that she would finally love me.

She abandoned me the first time when I was 2 and got whooping cough. Even though, it was doctor’s ordered to get me out of the home and away from my baby brother so that he wouldn’t catch the disease, it was still abandonment. From that point on, I never felt like my mother loved me.

My grandmother took me in and cared for me during that illness. She became my mother in my child’s mind and heart. When I was 7, I was no longer allowed to visit her except when the whole family did. That was another form of loss in my young life. I was never told why I could no longer visit her without family members. That is another story for another time.


Your point about even though the dr. told your mother to remove you from the home; it is the damage that we are dealing with. This is a great example of “the damage” even though the dr. said for her to do it, YES it was still abandonment. I got SO stuck on why my mother was not at fault instead of just sticking to the truth about the damage that did indeed happen. Not realizing that fact (healing from the damage without having to understand the person who caused it) is one of the biggest stick points in the way of healing.
Thank you for all your comments
Hugs, Darlene


Ok, so it is not irrational that I have lifelong issues with fear of betrayal and abandonment because my mother died before I was three years old? It’s ok to just experience emotions about it even though she was certainly not choosing to hurt me? It’s certainly triggering to read about people’s relationships with their mothers, good and bad, and to feel that I can never know what they are talking about.


Yes, that reaction is totally understandable and even if you are angry at her for dying, that is a normal part of grief too. It is the damage that we are trying to heal from. It is the things that we have come to believe (that are usually lies and false conclusions) as a result of the trauma or event, that were in the way of my healing.
I am so sorry that you lost your mom so young.
Hugs, Darlene


Sophie, abandonment has always been a big issue for me. I believe the earlier that we are abandoned, the worse the effects can be on us. Even though your mother didn’t mean to abandon you, she did by dying. I am sure that my mother didn’t want to abandon me either when I was so sick but she did. As Darlene said, the reasons for the abandonment aren’t really that important. Our feelings about the abandonment are what is so important. What we feel is more than okay. What we feel is what we feel, no matter what anyone else thinks about it. Our feelings are important.


What you said, Darlene, about “getting SO stuck on why my mother was not at fault” has been one of my biggest stumbling blocks the last few years. One of my siblings died from SIDS before I was born and my Mom never did show any joy for any reason after that. I thought she was sad and let her get away with saying and doing or NOT doing anything and everything. I have an older brother that was blamed for the death although it was never said outright. She was always depressed and at work or out buying things. She had five children that did live and all of us tried to please our unpleasable parents. I have chosen the path of “no contact” after so many emotionally draining, painful and cruel years of trying to communicate with them. My parents have been together 60 years. I am glad to be living 400 miles away as I am coming to terms with my bitterSWEET”grieving” process. Thanks for this website!


Thank you, Darlene and Patricia. As I continue on this healing process, new layers emerge. It’s like archaeology! When I started, I thought all my anger was at my stepmother. Then when I read Alice Miller I realized how angry I was at my father for bringing her into my life and refusing to see how toxic she was. Then I uncovered my feelings about being born into a family to begin with that wasn’t conscious about a baby’s true needs. These were all emotions that I saw as “legitimate” since they resulted from actions and choices that these adults could have done differently. Now I’m struggling with guilt over the anger and grief I feel at my mother for dying. The whole story is that she found out she had cancer while she was pregnant with my brother. The doctors wanted her to have an abortion based on medical necessity so that they could begin chemotherapy. She could not bear to have an abortion, so treatment did not start until my brother was born, but she died less than a year later. This story is so sad that I feel terrible for having anger and resentment come up in me about it. This is one of the very few places I can talk about it because we know how most people would be shocked that I would on any level blame my mother for anything. But all I know is that I’ve spent most of my life believing that sooner or later people would see that I was somehow really “wrong” and they would abandon me. I have panic attacks whenever anyone is late for a meeting or date with me. I have a belief that people really don’t see me as acceptable and that I will be rejected or ignored as a matter of course. Is it really true that this is a false belief? Will I ever get to the point of believing in my inherent worth? And is this process really dependent on acknowledging my anger and grief at that whole tragic episode which precipitated me into years of misery? I know the answer to these questions is “yes,” but getting there is a struggle.


I am also seeing how this false belief in my inherent unworthiness has led ME to reject and abandon and judge myself harshly. I have neglected my health, my well-being, my physical appearance, etc. so I am subtly telling others not to value me either. Wow! Self-fulfilling expectations.


Hi Tamara
Yes, this is exactly what I am talking about Tamara. Thank you for sharing this example. Having excuses for the WHY we were neglected or whatever our story is, is one of the biggest stick points for many many of us. I can’t say enough that it is the DAMAGE we are healing from, regardless of why or how it was caused or if the other people were sick, grief stricken or just plain mean. The damage is there and needs to heal regardless.
Hugs, Darlene

What a tragic story. Thank you for sharing. I believe that your belief IS false that people are going to reject you as a matter of course and that you have also found some of the root of where it came from. How I went from there was to look at the things that “back up” the belief. What other things happened in your childhood that added to that belief ~ things that supported it and cemented it?
Hugs, Darlene


Another part of the process of cementing my false belief system came when my father remarried when I was eleven. My stepmother began attacking me, but called it trying to help me. My hair was wrong, I was forced to cut it. My clothes were wrong, I had to wear what she liked. My ambitions for my life were naive, I should want to be like her. My budding sexuality scared the daylights out of her. Rather than providing wise guidance through the maze of boy-girl relationships, she tried to impose rigid beliefs about never being “bad” or “wild.” What was hardest was that my father, who I should have been able to count on to defend me, didn’t. I suppose that is another form of abandonment, another message that I wasn’t worthy of respect. If you were to hear my stepmother tell it, she would say that after all she did for me and tried to help me, I am an ungrateful viper who bit her in return. She is fond of comparing me to reptiles. If you had asked my father, he would just look sad and bewildered and say that what “happened to me” was tragic. He won’t have been able to admit just what “happened.” I can’t write more now, I’m getting very enotional. I know that good, but I’ve got to curl up and grieve.


Sophie, “to curl up and grieve” is a very good thing. That is how you get it out. I know it doesn’t feel good at the time but it is what you need.

The recognition that you have abandoned yourself is big. I didn’t start to heal from my abandonment issues until I realized that I had abandoned myself. When we believe what others say negatively about us, we abandon our own selves as worthless and damaged. Because of abandonment, we don’t take care of our needs or health.

That is why I say over and over again that learning to love ourselves is the most important part of healing that we can do. When we love ourselves, we no longer abandon ourselves. We recognise that we have needs and wants and we take care of them.

Allow yourself to grieve and to be angry at your mother. She understands why you feel the way that you do and what anyone else thinks isn’t that important.

Part of my grieving including getting furious at God because I thought he had abandoned me too. He didn’t but I thought He had. Not everyone understands how I could allow myself to express my anger at God. I was careful who I shared that anger with. When I am vulnerable I don’t want to be condemned by someone who doesn’t understand that God is okay with my anger. I see God as having very wide shoulders to carry all the anger and grief of the world when it is shared with Him. I don’t ask or expect anyone else to believe as I do about God. I don’t like it when someone preaches God at me. My views of God are very personal and I only share when I think it might help someone else.


Hi Sophia,
Very good work. There is so much to it too, so many things that contributed to the whole picture and I am sure there is more. I have very similar feelings about my fathers lack of regard for me. He did not defend me either and this was a huge part of my self image and belief system about myself. I believed that I was not worth fighting for. I learned to abandon myself from those who had abandoned me and taught me my lack of worth.
Great share!
Hugs, Darlene

Thank you for adding your voice and comfort here as well.


Good. I gave time to myself to grieve today, then I went to a quiet natural spot to just walk and soak in the beauty for a while, then I came home and made myself a healthy delicious dinner. Self-care day! I just re-read the original post here, and I am thinking about the judgemental description of a willful runaway child. That certainly described me as a teenager as I became desperate to get away from a very unhappy home. I did run away and come back several times before I left for good at 18. I was always blamed. I was sent to psychiatrists to find out what was “wrong” with me. One doctor who could see the big picture told my parents that he thought we should do family therapy so that we could learn to communicate with each other. My parents were so insulted that they stormed out of his office. Didn’t he realize that there was nothing wrong with them?! SIGH. “Willful runaway.” Why is it so wrong for a person to have a will of their own and to want to leave a toxic situation?


My mother abandoned me when I was about 17 months old – my brother, who was 4 months, and I had come down with croup and we both had to be hospitalized. My Mom, who now realizes she had post-partum depression at the time, couldn’t cope and left us in the hospital and in the care of friends from church and traveled 800 miles to stay with her parents – I don’t know for how long she was gone. I don’t remember this consciously, but I know in my heart and have discovered in therapy that this was a very traumatizing experience for me. I believe that I stopped trusting my mother and shut myself down to her at that time.

Having had five children of my own – two very close together – and having suffered through post partum depression myself, I have a small degree of empathy for my Mom, I guess. My Dad was an insensitive jerk so my mother had no emotional support and probably very little practical support caring for two sick babies. So, maybe she really couldn’t cope. She didn’t have her own family close by and my Dad’s family were loving but tough, self-reliant farm folk so maybe my Mom didn’t have anyone she could lean on. That being said, I can not imagine leaving my sick babies in the hospital and heading off to hide out with my mommy and daddy. I would pull my shit together for my babies and get in there and do what needed to be done. I have felt a lot of contempt for my mother that she was so weak. When she told me about this, she felt very sorry for herself and felt very bad about leaving my baby brother, but interestingly she said nothing about regretting how this might have affected me. I guess she considers me too strong to be upset by anything, even at the tender age of 17 months. She expressed a lot of compassion for herself now that she understands what post partum depression is, and she expressed that she was doing the best she could under the circumstances. I can’t judge of course because I am not her, but I struggle to believe that this was the best she could do. Maybe she was feeling crazy and would have harmed us, I don’t know.

And I guess regardless of whether she could have coped better or should have, whatever. It doesn’t matter, does it? The damage was done to me and that has never been acknowledged. I don’t hold it against her that she had her issues – It just bothers me that she doesn’t seem capable of understanding the impact that this may have had on me. She never seems to get that part. With this, or the nervous breakdown hospitalization when I was 7, to the years of us worrying and fretting and fussing over her undiagnosable seizure disorder (watching helpless while your mother has seizures then sobs and sobs afterward is not a fun experience) – I too made a conscious decision to take care of her. I felt certain that if I left her alone, she would die. I told her that a couple of years ago and she admitted that her anxiety was so bad, she was convinced she would die if she was left alone, so I guess I was picking up the vibe she was putting out. She feels bad for herself that she was in such a bad way, and seemed touched that I cared so much about her and was looking out for her. And again, she feels she was doing pretty well to keep herself together as well as she thinks she did. It’s like she has no idea how much her pain/anxiety/distress spilled out and seeped into me and the rest of our family. And even when I expressed how worried I was about her as a little kid, No apology that I had to carry that burden and that fear.

It just does not seem to occur to her to express any sorrow or regret to me over anything she’s said, done or not done over the years. She was doing the best she could, after all. In her mind she was an excellent mother. And she certainly was a good mother in many ways, or at least she wasn’t a terrible mother. She could have been worse, that’s for sure. But she did not insulate her children from the trauma of her trauma, as much as she seems to think she did.

I don’t feel any pain over this anymore really, it doesn’t hurt to talk about it. I don’t feel angry at her over it anymore. But it is still kind of baffling how she lacks the ability – or willingness – to let herself consider how her behaviour and choices have affected her kids. It’s like we’re really not allowed to be affected by it, because that would be more than she could cope with – we would be heaping pain on her when she is already hurting, by confronting her with our pain. That’s the lesson in my childhood – both my anger and my pain were too much for my parents to cope with, they needed me to cope with my own stuff myself so I could be available to support them emotionally. A family friend went to my Dad when I was a teenager (and suicidal, and cutting myself, and anorexic) and told my Dad that she was concerned about me and suggested he arrange for some counselling support for me. He told me about this later, and his reason for not going ahead and getting me help was that he knew I was tough and I’d be okay. I was floored when I found this out, that even when the evidence of my distress was plainly revealed to him, he was able to deny to himself that i was in so much pain. And too wrapped up in himself to reach out to me in any way. (He also never sat me down to talk to me to find out if I was okay – I didn’t learn about this until years later.)

Sorry if I’m repeating myself from posts I’ve already made before – seems like I’ve mentioned some of this stuff before but I can’t quite remember in what post.

Anyway, Patricia, I admire you for allowing your daughter to be angry with you and express her pain to you, even though it is painful for you as well. I don’t need to rail at my mother for her failings, but it would be really nice to be able to say, “This was hurtful to me” and have her say she’s sorry without falling apart and letting my feelings trigger a huge guilt/self pity response from her. The conversation quickly would go from being about me and my feelings to me comforting her while she falls apart. I quit needing to lean on my mother for emotional comfort/support/validation a long time ago – thankfully I have found other outlets from which to get that kind of support. But I am glad Patricia that your daughter has your strength to lean on now while she is processing her pain. I am trying to offer that same opportunity to my oldest son – to let him be safely angry at me and to bring his hurts to me so I can share his burden with him, if that’s what he wants.


Please don’t worry about repeating yourself.. that is how we work things out.
I am so sorry that you had all this happen to you as a child! My goodness; think abut the beliefs that you formed as a result of it. Totally understandable from my perspective.

One thing that I want to say again (and not just to you but to all) is that I have empathy for my mother ~ but remember that isn’t the point. I had to heal from the damage that was caused to me. Every time I made an excuse for my mother, it interfered with the self validation that I had never had and never learned to have. I always returned to the excuses; my poor mother and then when I had that thought I went straight to beating myself up for my selfish wishes… I am not suggesting that you stop going through the process with all it’s back and forth. I just want to encourage you to remember (as you have done in this post) that regardless of what was going on with her, you are trying to heal from the damage. This is not about loyalty or disloyalty. It isn’t about love or hate either. Just about healing. 🙂

I can’t understand why my mother can’t be accountable for any of this stuff either. Freedom is not caring anymore if she ever does.
You are doing some deep processing and really great work!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Sophia
Great comments! Yay for self care and grieving! and I LOVE the connections you made ~ thank you for sharing them here!
Hugs, Darlene


I go back and forth between my knowledge that there were ways I was damaged and the many times that my parents did good things for me, too. Reading Anna Lyzza’s post reminded me of the time I was hospitalized when I was 4 with a bad infection. My father came and stayed with me every night so that I wouldn’t feel alone. Yet this is the same man who later allowed his wife to abuse me and made excuses for her. I also remember the times when my stepmother and I shared interests and worked on projects together and she often respected my opinions. When I was in art school many classmates envied me for having parents who were knowledgeable about art and supported my interest. I just have to remember that there was trauma, too, and that I was disabled for many years, and that allowing myself to feel my emotions and explore my false beliefs is the ONLY thing that has worked to help me heal. In fact, when the memories of the “good” times surface, my anxiety actually seems to increase, possibly because deep down I know that my most primal needs were neglected and truly honest communication was discouraged.


This is all part of how we learn survival as children. We adapt by comforting ourselves with excuses etc. And it is so much easier to blame ourselves or to figure out ways to cope and to “do better”. So we excuse that trauma and we feel bad when we try to focus on the pain of it because we have tried to ignore it all along.
After I faced the real truth, I was able to remember good times or positive parenting times without using those good times as the reason I “should not” be upset or hurt. The good times don’t cancel out the bad times. I had to see them each for what they were in order to heal AND even to appreciate the good things.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene: “After I faced the real truth, I was able to remember good times or positive parenting times without using those good times as the reason I should not be upset or hurt” Wow. That almost brought on tears – which is pretty much like sobbing for me! That is so simple yet so profoundly true and SO significant!!! This totally nails my pinball reaction that I was trying to describe in the latest blog post discussion about panic attacks – clearly I believe that I don’t deserve to feel my anger and hurt because that means I don’t appreciate all the good things I got from my parents/upbringing. Being angry and allowing myself to feel that and to feel hurt = being ungrateful and for some reason that is very bad. My parents weren’t ogres, they were childish, infantile, needy people, so if ever I expressed anger at them they reacted like wounded children and made ME feel like the abusive parent! So I have grown up feeling bigger than them and that it was my responsibility to protect them from me! How turned around is that??? But like Sophia, I have happy memories too – my parents could and still can be really great in some ways. When they are, I feel like such a class A jerk for ever having been mad at them for their failings. Because clearly I have not believed that I could love them AND be angry at them/hurt by them at the same time! And the reason I have felt that way is because THEY responded to me that way! If I was upset with them, they reacted as though I had fundamentally rejected them and were so hurt that I felt like a heel, or my mom would counter attack me with all my faults that were “just as bad”, basically calling me a hypocrite. It was just not okay to be mad at them, and that message was conveyed in so many ways. It was only okay to love them – to be a nurturing, supportive, fawning, caring mother to them. I was NOT supposed to ever be a disapproving, critical mother – that was not allowed!

Sophia, I so understand your confusion and guilt about trying to process abuse trauma you’ve received from your “good” or at least not terrible parents. It can be hard to reconcile the disparity between their “good” attributes or moments and the awful ones. My Mom almost has two distinct personalities – one is loving but childlike and the other is angry, mean, controlling, critical and sneaky. She is totally in denial of the latter personality. And it was terribly confusing to me for years because I did not quite see the pattern and had a nice mother one minute and an unpleasant one the next. I’d get angry at the one but always it was the childlike, “good” Mother who reacted to my anger and was wounded, hurt, devestated, blindsided. It’s so crazy – no wonder I feel old and responsible for everything! I’ve been the Mom all these years!

Anyway, sorry. I’m taking in a lot today and it’s all good but it’s a LOT of insight all at once. Darlene, THANK YOU SO MUCH for providing this space to vent/talk/process and for providing your very wise, incredibly insightful perspective. Wow. I’m blown away.


This post reminds me of what Alice Miller wrote about why it is so important to have a “witness” who will confirm and validate the knowledge that one was abused. With so many people ready to deny it and blame you and conspire to whitewash everything, you can really come to believe you are the one who is wrong. I am so grateful that my brother continues to tell me, “Yes, I was there and I know how you were treated and it wasn’t right.”


That’s true, Sophia. My younger brother and I have been each other’s allies in that regard as well. Between that and a very supportive husband, I’ve been very fortunate to have witnesses who validate my feelings.


I am so glad that you had a profound understanding from what I said! Some of these things are so logical yet they are not clear when we live in the fog of abuse etc.
Hugs! (and thank you for sharing so much! we can all gather insight from these kinds of shares!)

I just want to add to what Sophia said in her comment about Alice Miller. For those of us who didn’t have an actual “witness” Alice miller is talking about a healing witness or an enlightened witness which is someone who believes you even if they didn’t see it. Someone who supports you on your journey and will understand you and never question your truth.
I do not have anyone in my life (that I know of) who witnessed the events of my childhood and is willing to validate them. My youngest brother told on my oldest brother twice and doesn’t remember ever seeing any abuse at all NOR does he remember telling our mother about it.

It is wonderful that your brother validates your memories like that! That is such a gift!
Hugs, Darlene


Sophia, you are very welcome. I am glad that I can share from my own experiences.

AnnaLyzza, My sister supports me in my healing process even though she has her own unresolved issues with incest that she doesn’t even want to look at. Thank you for your comment about my daughter having my strength to lean on. That is so important to me because I never had anyone to lean on early in my life until my husband came along. His acceptance continues to give me strength. Even through the most confusing part of my journey, my husband has been there to support me. Now I can pass that support on to my daughter. I will also be there for my sister if she ever decides that she wants to work on her own issues.


Darlene, I’m sorry that no one else in your family is able to validate your reality. When I was a younger teen and tried to talk to my brothers about our parents’ toxic marriage, my older brother rebuffed such talk as disrespectful and was very dismissive of “psychobabble” – he considered it anti-Christian and dangerous. My younger brother, I realize now, was too wounded himself to be able to handle the stuff I was wrestling with and wanted to talk about, so he would just shut down and not want to talk about it. I remember feeling terribly alone then, and struggling to figure out if I was “wrong” in my feelings because no one around me who could confirm, would confirm. Thankfully I found various people along the way who would be exactly what you describe – healing witnesses who believed me. I have been so blessed to find these people as I seem to need them! And I feel very blessed to have found this site, Darlene! Thank you. I’m also thankful that my younger brother came to a point where he was ready to face stuff and we could talk to each other – and he has a wicked, skewering sense of humour so we cope a lot through basically laughing at the absurdity of our family. It’s probably a mask to avoid the actual pain of some of this nonsense, but it is a good stress reliever to laugh instead of cry. What I realize this morning, while processing the feedback you gave me re my post to Kelly, is that I have room to improve in how I support my brother now. He is struggling with depression and is quite angry and unhappy, but since I figured I was “over” a lot of this stuff with our parents, I don’t think I’ve been as supportive to him in his process as he needs. So, thanks for helping me realize that I’m not quite as “over” this as I thought, and for learning ways I can improve how I support others – including my own family.


That’s true of my brother, too, Patricia, He doesn’t want to look at how he was hurt. But I can also see from what others are saying here that it is not necessarily true that another family member will ever validate the reality of abuse for anyone in the family. I feel bad for my brother because I think I can see how he has just been growing numb and depressed over the years from not looking at his OWN pain.

Darlene, thank you for clarifying about Alice Miller and the enlightened witness. I also have a very close friend who is in the position of never having actually seen my parents in action, but supports me in my healing journey. She has actually met my parents socially, when they are on their “best” behavior, and is still able to see that they have another side. That’s been really helpful to me.


Here is a summary about this whole thing for me; I had someone that helped me see where I had been discounted and devalued by affirming my suspicions and listening to me recount events out loud so that I myself could hear them. (writing this works too) This person validated me and my pain until I could validate my self and my own pain. (and I had to get to the point of validating my own pain and my own truth but for me someone had to hear me first. Someone had to listen, and agree and validate me, that was just how it worked) That is an enlightened witness. This was SO powerful for me and my own personal healing that it is the whole reason I started this website emerging from broken. I want to be that person in others lives and that is what I strive to do even in my blog posts. I dare say that I am succeeding! LOL
Hugs, Darlene


Yes Darlene, I’d say you have succeeded! : )



Another thing I’ve observed in my family is that each kid can have a legitimately different experience of the same set of parents. I read a good book last year about ADHD wherein the author talks about the significant influence of trauma (emotional and physical) on the developing brain. He discusses the impact of maternal stress on the developing brain – his mother was a Hollocaust survivor so his thesis is based on examining how her parenting to him was affected by this (he was born and very young just after the war I believe), and vastly different from how she parented his younger brother who was born during a period of safety and stability. (I’m sorry I can’t remember either the title or the author, but I want to give credit where due for these ideas as best I can) Anyway, he talks about how parents can relate to each of their children differently, depending on external pressures they are having at the time, depending on their mental and physical health, depending on how that kid is like them or isn’t, how the kid may push their buttons or not, so out of the same family, you can have one kid who experienced the parents as loving and supportive while another kid was treated terribly or was neglected or abused. As you can imagine, it can be very hard for Kid A to wrap his/her mind around the very different reality expressed by Kid B.

In my family, my parents relate differently to each one of us kids. My oldest brother has always been close with my Dad – they share the same interests and talents, my brother idolized my Dad and always wanted to be like him and with him, and of course my Dad loved that and rewarded that. My brother has always been an achiever and very righteous and mature for his years so my mother seems to look up to him almost like a father-figure. So my parents tended to relate to him with their best selves and never pulled any of the stuff with him that I had to deal with.

My younger brother was quiet, reserved, and not outgoing at all – he preferred to be alone or have the company of pets, and he did not care for my Dad’s more showy, outgoing hobbies and activities. Basically with my Dad you either got into what he was into to be with him or you stayed out of his way. My younger brother’s interests always seemed stupid or incomprehensible to my Dad, so you can imagine what sorts of issues he struggles with now – he was invisible and not validated at all, so he struggles with crushingly low self esteem and depression.

Me, I was funny and happy and a character, I was cute and affectionate and playful, so I was Daddy’s little girl. I was the one who got saddled with what I realize now were the Nurturing Mother responsibilities – my job was to take good care of my parents’ emotional needs. I was to bolster my Father’s self esteem and never challenge it. I’ve talked quite a bit here about how that has affected/is effecting me.

Since each of us was responded to and interacted with differently by each parent and by the parents as a set, our individual reality of our family IS different. It has made it challenging at times to get validation for my reality from my brothers, because their experiences and mine were not always identical. My younger brother and I were closer in age and home after my oldest brother moved out for college etc., and we lived closer to our parents in adulthood, so we have seen a lot more of the up close and personal dysfunction that oldest brother. But even though we’d mired in the same crap, my first few attempts to talk to my younger brother about family stuff didn’t go so well – he’d get really sad and shut down and be really depressed, so I quit trying and we kind of went our own ways for a while. But once he moved back closer to home and started having Mom and Dad’s stuff in his face all the time, we began to talk about it and support one another. There came a point where he was strong enough to start talking about this stuff, and I guess it got bad enough that he HAD to talk about it or go nuts. It has taken my oldest brother longer to come around to see that what my younger brother and I have experienced was valid. He sees himself as the “Wise Father” after all, so what could we possibly know that he didn’t know already? Thankfully, as the toll of being expected to carry this “Wise Father” responsibility has gotten heavier – as he became aware that my parents were leaning on him for this, he has reached out to us and we’ve all become better supports for each other. It’s not perfect by any means – oldest bro can still be a dismissive ass and I can be a self-help spouting know-it-all and younger bro can still turtle and hide, but this summer when our parents announced that they are getting back together after 17 years of being apart, my brothers and I and our spouses supported each other through the “WTF? Here we go again,” reaction. It felt nice to be a unit, supporting each other as we now face yet another chapter in my parents’ strange, codependent relationship.

It used to cause me a lot of pain that my brothers weren’t in my corner, and I felt a lot of guilt and responsibility to look out for and “rescue” my younger brother in particular from his pain. It was hard to not have them willingly join me on my road to recovery and healing. But I know now that it took me continuing to speak my truth and do my own growth work and getting myself healthier and personally choosing to agitate for healthier boundaries with my parents, to make it possible for the three of us to be where we’re at now. I blazed a trail for me and have been happy that it has turned out that my whole family has benefited. So, we can only truly heal ourselves, and in so doing I guess we leave a trail that others can follow if they choose to. And we can find ourselves in a better position to support family members when the time comes that they are ready to face their own painful history.


yes, Yes, yes!! I wish I could make my brother and all the family members blaming me for my lack of relationship with my mother, read this blog. I was told I did not do enough. My mother actually put in her will that I was left nothing and I know why. When I did not react to that statement, My Brother and My mother’s boyfriend got even madder and meaner. Thank You for reinforcing that I am not at fault. I was the child, forced to grow up way to quickly, and she was the parent. All I can do is be a healthy example to my children. I never want them to go through the pain I have.



I validate you. At some point, hopefully, Mother wakes up. “With loving kindness, have I drawn thee”. This works for me. I refuse to continue the curse. I broke it thru showing her, regardless of how bad it was, I still Love you. “The children are innocent”; yet the excuse is “I did the best I could”. They know better; this is what it is; an excuse. Thank you for the article. I learned a new word, TOXIC.


Hi Diane K
Welcome to emerging from broken!
I broke mine too. The cycle stoped with me. You mentioned the excuse being “I did the best that I could” … I wrote a popular blog post about that here too.
Thought you might like to read it. It is one of my most viewed posts.
It is called (click title) “My Parents did the best they Could According to WHO?
Hugs, Darlene
Author of Emerging from Broken


Darlene, I love this!

‘ I can’t understand why my mother can’t be accountable for any of this stuff either. Freedom is not caring anymore if she ever does.’

And that is why I AM free from her!


[…] My toxic mother didn’t want to be a single mother. That was her answer to everything. It was even her justification for having very loud sex with men while three children slept in rooms very close by. […]


I read the book you are discussing, and it was a travesty on many levels. The section you mention concerning Oprah’s mother may be the most objectionable part of the book. – I agree with your analysis completely. Society has such twisted, dysfunctional illusions concerning “holy” mothers, that it is a miracle some women find their way out of that psychological trap at all. – If your mother cut off your limbs, causing you to live your life as a cripple – how much compassion would she deserve? Well, it is just as bad (if not worse) when your mother psychologically cripples you – then expects you to grow up, forgive her, be a good daughter, and go on serving her dysfunctional needs. !!


Hi Teresa
Exactly! VERY well said! Thank you for adding your insights here!
Hugs, Darlene


I also have found this aspect very damaging and it is the reason I have dumped my whole extented family together with my mother. It also touches on why I have cut ties with my father too, because I realised there is so much betrayal from him never sticking up for me when the abuse was happening that my relationship with men had been choosing men who will hurt me so I can be a little girl repeating her betrayal. He would be stick up for me when they were having a fight, I rmeember when I was little he would refuse to hit me when she said, hit her, hit her, but when they were back together and she was being mean to me, he would just let it happen so he could have some peace. Maybe because he didn’t want to get it in the neck or maybe because he just couldn’t stand the idea of divorce. These people who blame kids for problems also tend to hold marriage up as something immaculate even when it is destructive because they care more about what other people think and divorce is unacceptable so rather take it out on the kids. I realised over the past years as I got my act together professionally and socially, being able to cope with personalities at work from a postion of strength and accepting it was ok to have a few healthy friendships rather than trying to please everyone, I found myself always coaching my dad on how it get it right himself … but deep down it played into my need to have him be there for me, to show me the way, how to be whole and loving and masterful in life. If he were just a person I wouldn’t give him all the energy and input because I’d know it was futile, and anyway deep down he’s so angry at himself, it I’m around I also get targeted for that. So yeah, seeing through this stuff is essential and the more of us who do the better. I need to be more accepting of myself because that’s the way forward. I am still friends with one girl who is an old family friend and it does make me uncomfortable even tho she is very very kind to me. She asked why I had cut off the family and told her it was when my mom screamed at me, You should hear the things your father says behind your back” a couple of months ago when I was just lying on the couch. And she said, that’s not the woman I know. So it can be really hard when everyone thinks your mother is the bees knees because they don’t see the other side so they judge. I had cut her off a few years back because she said sorry for the first time EVER after she lied to me about disinheriting me. So i let her back in my life, but slowly she started abusing me again, whenever she felt unfomfort rising in her she would take it out on me, and I thought, no, I’ve proved to myself I’m strong enough to be around it and not react, I want a life where I can relax and be safe and loving around the people I choose to be with on my day off, so i cut ’em both off this time. And I don’t care at all. My dad has a very funny side and he revels in the role of everyone’s favourite uncle that the exdended family gives him. But I find those people so destructive and judgmental and shallow for the most part, I find the great ‘love’ and attention and affection they bestow on each other quote baffling to be frank. And so when I make the decision not to be ‘connected’ with my dad either, they will have a fine time railing against me for it.


Hi Sally
Welcome to EFB
Thank you for sharing this. It is crazy how we are conditioned to accept some of this stuff and what we go through when we decide enough is enough. I loved what you said when you wrote “I want a life where I can relax and be safe and loving around the people I choose to be with on my day off”
~ We all deserve that!
Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

I am new to this site, I am so glad that I have found this today and I will continue to explore it 🙂 From what I have briefly seen here, it seems like the exact place for me to be and to read all the articles that you have written on healing.

Thank you. I cannot imagine the amount of love and peace that you are bringing all of us, the children who have been abused my bad parents. Thank you Darlene.

It is Mothers Day in South Africa today and I am googling ‘Toxic Mothers’ and doing some self healing…

In short, like you and many of the people who visit your site, I was horifically emotionally abused by my narcisitic, domineering, manipulative mother, who I am sure has official ‘narcisitic sociopathic disorder’.

Anyway, I have cut myself off from my mother, father, both of my brothers, all of my family, aunts and everyone, and almost everyone from my past, as all of the friendships I had formed were toxic.

It is very hard for me, as I am sure it is hard for anyone who is doing this, it is the hardest thing I have ever done, and probably the hardest thing I will ever do, as now I stand alone.

But I will heal myself. Even if it takes my whole life to do so.

We were all abused, I was emotionally abused and this is not easy to face, but I will prevail. WE will prevail, together.

To everyone who visits this site and to Darlene – thank you. We can do this. I will fight every day for happiness.

* I turn my face towards the sun *

All my love to all of you,
Anon girl


Hi,I am form India and I must tell you that situations here are even worst…coz the India society ,because of a lot of influence from movies…considers mother as God..who can never do anything wrong…one who always lover her child.So when a child tries to bring into attention the ordeal he/she is going through bcoz of mother…no one believes fact a child who speak ill aboout his mother is considered as a bad person.No one even like to see the facts you want to show them abt ur mother…coz mother can never be wrong according to them.
I have been a victim of lots of physical and metnal abuse by my mother…but never received any help from anyone ..coz no one believed me..until one day..i decided to leave home.Today we are in touch(coz m an emotional fool)…but only when she need money..or else she is not bothered even if m dead or alive.But i beleive in God…feel one day we all have to answer God:)


Hi Anon Girl
I am sorry that I missed your comment back in May. I was away for 10 days at that time and unable to catch up with comments.
Glad you are here, I hope you will return.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Rohit
There is no abuse worse than any other abuse. This is a global problem we face here. Not being believed is also a global problem for children and adult children of abusive or neglectful parents. I think you will enjoy the conversations in this website! We concentrate of recovering from the damage.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for this post it meant a lot to me! I am trying really hard to teach myself that I am not the failure my mother makes me feel I am. Although I know my mother loves me, she seems incapable of not constantly criticizing every aspect of me. I never seem to be good enough. She however would never believe the devastating need for affirmation I need from her. Why do we so desperately crave affirmation from our parents even into adulthood? It is ridiculous because I cannot ever remember her giving me any compliment without some hidden criticism. The problem is that no one is perfect and there is and always will be room for improvement and so it is always possible for her to point out some way that I should be improving which just leaves me feeling demotivated and inadequate. I am sure she must have told me she loves me at some point but I actually cannot remember her ever actually saying as much. She says she tells me she loves in my birthday cards but after a card with a badly hidden recommendation on how to be a better person, the final “lots of love Mom and Dad” does not feel like a declaration of affection. I must however also take ownership of the fact that I now unfortunately overreact (not in front of her) whenever she criticizes me and my poor husband has to hear me rant for hours after visiting her. I have tried confronting her about this and she refuses to admit that her constant criticism could possibly be a bad thing or to even acknowledge that her constant ‘advice’ can be taken as criticism. Do you have any advice about how to handle this situation? I still find myself wanting to spend lots of time with her even though I normally feel either terrible about myself or angry after seeing her. I am still the daughter that messages almost every day and calls at least twice a week and do not want to have to be the one that draws away because I am scared that she will not fight for me. How do I know if I will ever be able to fix this relationship because from my perspective as the daughter, I feel like I really am trying? The ironic thing is that she will do absolutely anything for any scrap of affection she can get from her father and my grandmother told me he (my grandfather) was the same with his father. How do I know that I will not be the same to my children? How do I stop myself from desperately for her approval?


Hi Anon Girl 2
First of all, there are lots of articles in this site that will help you figure this out. I would start by reading everything in the mother daughter relationship category.
You can’t fix the relationship with your mother because relationship is two sided. Something that helped me was to realize that I was expected to do all the work in the relationship and something else that helped me was to think about love as an action word. My mother didn’t ‘act’ like she loved me. She didn’t treat me with love or respect. She did however have a lot of expectations about the way I treated her.. and her rules for me were different than the ones for her. These were all the things that I discovered that helped me to take my life back. My biggest fear was that my mother would not fight for me, but she was killing me so I had to take the risk for me. And the only way that I stopped the cycle of abuse with my own children was to take my life back and see that the relationship I had with my mother was toxic and that I didn’t deserve it. I was able to find the approval I so needed through myself. And that was when I stopped seeking it.
Hope this gets you started.
Hugs, Darlene


Gotta love how it says she was a ‘wilful, runaway child’, as if that wasn’t an obvious and normal childhood trait. That is like saying a woman was abused BECAUSE she was a feminine, sensual woman to men, or a baby was beaten because it was crying too much. Child blamming IS victim blamming. I’m glad you know deep down you are not to blame for anything!


oops and sorry for my so-so english, I’m brazilian =)


Hi Luiza,
Exactly. And that way of talking about kids and abuse is much more accepted in society then these types of articles here are! I will keep exposing it!
Thanks for sharing and welcome to emerging from broken!
Hugs, Darlene


Funny thing about respect. When I wanted it, I was always told, “It has to be earned, not demanded.” But when my parents wanted it, you can bet they said, “You will respect me or ELSE!” Nothing like a double standard.


My relationship with my mother was severly damaged when she abandoned the family when I was 12 years old, and while I understand her reasoning for doing so and I’ve forgiven her, I can not accept her continued abuse now that I am an adult. I have tried everything I know to have a healthy adult/adult relationship with my mother but effort to acheive that goal has to come fro both sides, and my case it has not. As the “child” I can no longer accept her rage, her judgement and condemnation…this will never be a healthy relationship and after many years I accept that conclusion abd I am now estraged from her. I entered therapy after the end of my 27 years marriage, my mother sided with my exhusband and offered to testify against me in court, she was angry that I was giving up a lifestyle that she envied, and learned that most of my adult relationships were abusive, as I changed and grew I could no longer accept this inferior treatment and I began to distance myself from all of them. I am much happier, much more at peace, and I have learned to love myself…especially the parts my mother could not accept.


Raya, I totally agree with you. Respect does seem like a ‘double standard’. Parents sometimes forget that respect goes both ways. Children do not stay children forever. We grow up and we deserve to be respected as adults.

I grew up being adopted and my relationship with my mother has never been good. Most of the time, l never get a call for my birthday, nor my children. I don’t know why this hurts so much and l try so hard to make up for it so my children don’t feel unloved. One year, my daughter cried as l was the only one who gave her a birthday card.

I generally dislike ‘Mothers Day’, it only serves to remind me of sadness of a relationship l never had. Being a mother myself, my own children show me what REAL love is. I never have to question it as l do with my own family.


Hi Lynne
Welcome to emerging from broken ~ Yay and thank you for sharing your victory over dysfunctional relationship. I have had the same exp. and learning to love and validate myself has been the most amazing and healing part of this whole process.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Raya,
Welcome to EFB!
Excellet point! In dysfunctional relationship it is never a two way street and controllers don’t follow their own rules.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kylie
I taught my children respect by respecting them. I didn’t wait till they grew up. One of the biggest problems in our society is that children are not regarded as equally valuable and in that system, ‘when’ do they get to be? There is no magic age because the way children are so often regarded is all about having power over them.
Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Darlene


I let my children have choices. When it comes to choices in dinner, l ask them what they would like, so l’m cooking (for the most time), dishes that they like.

My girls even help with the shopping list. I’m teaching them to look in the cupboards, fridge and freezer and to look for items we usually get each fortnight.

I parent differently to my mother. I had to eat everything and my mother would cook things that l disliked very much and would make me sit there, didn’t matter how long, til l ate it. Even if l nearly vomited, l still had to eat everything. She would often joke and say things like ‘We’re having Kylie’s favourite dinner tonight’ in a sarcastic tone. I never saw the funny side of it ever.

I’m grown up now and l remember a lot of things that l hated. It’s made me appreciate children, to let them make choices for themselves. I don’t rule with an iron fist, its just not in my nature.

You are so right Darlene, parents often use power over their children in order for them to follow directions, thus children are not respected, but are expected to respect their parents.


I cant believe how much of this applys to my situation, im gobsmacked & thought i was the only one who thought this.
Every point about respect especially is so true, i was brought up to believe i should respect my abusive mother. She played games & acted like the perfect mother to friends & family…and has now unfortunatly turned thm against me to believe i was the one in the wrong always when i would attempt to fight my corner.Im just sorting out my life now , without my family unfortunatly, but i have no other option than try to get on with my life & cherish my friends around me who truely love me.
She is the one that this situation will end up haunting her for the rest of her life, as she caused it.
You have made me feel alot better about things, Thank You x


Hi Kelly
Welcome to emerging from broken!
This whole site is about stuff like this! And you are certainly not alone, there are thousands here.
Thanks for sharing; please feel free to join in any of the discussions!
Hugs, Darlene


Dear Darlene,

Thank you very much for this very needed article. I read the book but didnt finish it – what a waste of money it was really.

I would agree with everyone who earlier wrote that girls learn respect,kindess from their mother.

am 33 now, it is easy for the society to blame the children for not ‘showing love’ or ‘giving’ love. My relationship with my mother has always been volatile, and i came to realise its because i made something of myself and she didnt- so yes your mother can be jealous of you!

i remember when i got my first job she said ‘ it will not last’ when i got married she told relatives that ‘ i would be divorced very soon’ because i cant leave with anybody and this is something she has told since i was 17′ until today she still poisons me to my father, who has always been my best friend. I reduce my contact with her drastically because am trying to recover from he damage.

I have been married now for 4 years and i cant bring myself to have children – not because i dont want to, but because emotionally i cannot show love. To me this has been the most painful part of my life.

Now, my mother is all alone and lonely and craving for grandchildren – she recently came to visit me unexpectedly asking me when i was going to have children and i responded never. She actually started crying on my sofa.


Hi Amish
Welcome to EFB
I agree that the book was a waste of money! My mother was the same way and I was terrified to have children. I was 29 before I first even considered having children and it was my fear of how I would be with them. I see today that I was also afraid to be like my mother. My mother also wanted grandchildren very badly. I am not sure why anymore. She was not much different with my children as she was with me. The love was missing. None of my 3 children (2 are adults now) have any relationship with her anymore because of her ways. It’s sad really. As for me, I am a loving mother and I have great relationships with all of my kids! I celebrate their successes! I do not try to control my kids with those horrible put down statements meant to communicate that ‘they will never be good enough’ so that they ‘stay dependant on me’ ~ They are all independant and each very individual! I celebrate the new life that I have every day. Nobody talks to me that way anymore or has that kind of influence over my emotions. Its really wonderful!
Thanks for sharing! There is hope for living life in bliss after being in relationship with that kind of mother!
Hugs, Darlene


My mother was awful. But for years I’ve been told by “society” that I SHOULD put up with her. There are many shoulds. For 10 years I’ve bowed to societal pressures and those of my family. Lately however, I took an alternative view. Why SHOULD I? She’s been horrible to me for 39 years. I now take the view that noone in society has ever had to live with her! (I have…). I’m sure, 18 years with my mother would very soon bring about a massive U turn in opinions. It’s really very easy to judge. No one wants to hear that your mother is absolutely vile. But sadly, some of us have absolutely vile mothers.


Hi Kit
Welcome to EFB
I always ask “why?” and the only answer is “because she is your mother” so then I ask “what does that mean??” and at that point people don’t know what to say. All I am asking for is mutual respect. That is part of “LOVE”
Thanks for sharing, I am glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Oprah was a willful and runaway child…

Hmmm…why is it she WANTED to run away? People don’t WANT to run away from home and their mother. They do it because they feel there is no other choice. Just exactly is it that Oprah wanted to run away from? How come ‘aunt’ Katherine does not address that? Only a bad mother allows her child’s home life to be so awful the child wants to run away.

Loving one’s mother is a duty…

The problem with this is that duties are freely chosen–not imposed. It’s my duty to love and care for my child–because I chose to have and raise a child. It’s not the child’s duty to do anything for the parent–unless they choose to. Just as some people choose not have have children or not to raise the children they birth, some children choose not to interact with their parents. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Duties are not imposed–slavery is, but duties are not. Duties are assumed of free will.


That would have fumed me too. Society often blames it on the fact that, “It’s the end of the times and the Bible says kids were going to be disrespectful” which is wrong. That implies that it’s OK to get out abusers off the hook just because the Bible says it. But that doesn’t get them off the hook. There is more in the Bible about repentance and forgiving with REPENTANCE but with our abusers there never is any repentance. What the Bible also says is that “I have come to set a man AGAINST his father, a daughter AGAINST her mother, and a daughter-in-law AGAINST her mother-in-law.” Matthew 10:35

She bought her hats and shoes? You mean she bought her things without her mother even giving her one apology? IMO, she deserved nothing.

Good article!


Hi Darlene,

Thank you so much for posting your article. It simply shows in your article that so many people in society have no clear understanding of how respect works in the family and how disrespect of each other occurs. It’s the same as blaming the disease when it was the person’s actions that caused it (except for genetic diseases maybe, but still…). Or it’s like putting the blame on someone else even when the responsibility was not that someone else’s to begin with. I also find it very unreasonable to put blame on children for the inadequacies that the parents did, since children do not know anything, do not understand that much, and it will always be expected that they will need guidance, support, trust, respect, and love. But it is annoying that society will still blame the child for how they treat their parents and how they turned up in their adult lives. It’s very unreasonable and unfair, especially when the parents only conceived children out of narcissism. And what really hurts the most is when the parents endlessly blame children for things that they either don’t know (like not knowing how to treat adults respectfully) or have no control of (like not looking as beautiful or not being as smart as other children as they would’ve wanted).

I wouldn’t blame Oprah if she spent her entire childhood running away from her own mother. If her mother was too selfish to take care of her and love her, then trying to find those things outside the home would have been perfectly reasonable. If I could have I would have too, especially after finding out subtly that my mother would have wanted me to simply vanish from her life because she thinks I’m uglier and much more unsuitable for her “needs”. Unfortunately society never sees it that way, and not until professionals like you and others have thoroughly informed all people from all walks of like, they will not clearly see how inadequate and inappropriate parenting has been creating so much crime, misery, and pain that lasts for generations unless the cycle gets broken.

Thank you so much, Darlene for your posts. You have given the abused and the internally-grieving adults so much affirmation of the truth of the painful things that they have experienced, when the rest of the world denied the existence of such abuses. I hope you can continue to inspire people in any way to help them grieve for the things that they never had to begin with, and inspire them to walk towards the road to healing. May your life be so much brighter in many ways.


Thank You Darlene, I am soon to visit my sister who has just moved away from a very toxic relationship with my mother that lasted all her lifetime. I got out when I was 17 years old but that did not stop the torment, vicious remarks and poor me attitude. I have got comments all my life about forgiving my mother and reconciling with her. I ignore them now. If everyone is so keen on me caring for my mother then let them do it. They can have her! her carry on and jealousy has played all of us siblings against each other and I refused to play a part of her games so I had distanced myself from my whole family for 25 years, only seeing them a handful of times. I have my own children, who I was not prepared to put at risk so they have not met their grandmother. I had no choice, they are 25 and 21 now. When people are not willing to deal with their own pain and change for the sake of their own family then they are not deserving of a relationship. If my mother had given the inkling that she would even try then things might have been different. In her eyes she did her best. Well Mum guess what? I accept that but when things did get better for you, you stayed the same. THAT was your biggest downfall.
I love my life because I finally learned to love me for me and for my children. I am going to show your threads to my sister Darlene so she has the opportunity to make her own choices about healing and moving on. Thank yOu


I have read this book too, and the exact same part bothered me for the exact same reasons! Really! So much in fact that I stopped reading at that point and never did finish the book. Reading this only made me have more admiration for Oprah for all she has overcome. Thanks for reading my mind!


I like Oprah 🙂 I never thought I would say it as I used to conside her show a bit cheezy but there is something about her. She is so powerful, too bad unhappy in personal life. This is what I fear- I have noticed that A LOT of women who had a bad relationship with their mother, do not have their own kids. Not that there is anything wrong with that!!!! Kids does NOT equal happiness. Having children is a personal choice. I would like to highlight that because I would hate to come across as disrespectful, this is not my point. Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, my very good friend who is 60+ now 🙂 I know this does not prove anything 🙂 I used to not want kids. Now I do when I am ready mentally and financially. But because there is such a hole inside of me, and I need to do so much healing, I fear I will never be ready. I am 26 now and I think I am not having kids anytime soon before 40. I know more and more women decide to have children later in life but this is something I fear. I am perceived as very mature but it is not true. I have analyzed my actions and I am such a kid, the last 8 yeas I have been basically surviving, I had no help from anyone so everything is delayed.


Great comments from Kalispell, Emerging Princess, Hazel, Sharon, Sandra and Kris healing.
Welcome to all the new commenters!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


There is so much to tell in my story and still currently am lost at 34yrs of age. I am not writing/replying on this feed for empathy but for clarity. I was told to read this webpage from a dear friend at the local tavern that knows some of my family dynamics and said it would help me find some closure but all I see is empty words that wont fix the hurt and/or actions I would never have the courage to display. I will begin by saying my mother is a drug addict and has been since before I was born. My mother was 16 when she had me and my father at 18 and had passed before I even turned a year of age. My paternal grandparents helped raise me but my mother manipulated her way into keeping me for financial gain. My mother has abused me and left me to be abused by others in every possible way imaginable. She even encourages hatred toward me and sympathy for herself through my siblings/others and I still long for her acceptance. I was always told from various family members, and not just my mothers side, my grandparents found me as a replacement for loosing their only son, not so much as saying it outright, but, through their actions and whispers I wasn’t supposed to hear as a child. I have to say that my paternal grandparents had me most weekends of my life and finally were granted custody when I was 12 but the damage had been done. Please know every bit of positivity that comes from within me is through having them as parents. I do not know how to feel whole period in this life and have gone through my barrage of dysfunction and self destruction because I will never feel that I was truly wanted, accepted, or shown genuine respect and it currently disrupts my marriage. Within this past few months I have stopped talking to my mother and sisters because of them airing out there perception of my dirty laundry (infidelity/alcohol/drug use). The crazy part is they were just as involved with my some of my actions as I was. I shame myself constantly for trusting them and for even letting my children around that part of my family. I have been speaking to a councilor for the sake of my own sanity, my marriage, and in efforts to try to improve my coping for myself, and to provide more definite mental stability on my part for my children. I have sheltered them like a magician in everyway possible from my actions even thought I know they will know the truth soon enough. I have not ever left them alone with that side of my family ever as I have hidden that too. Bottom line is I cannot undo what has been done to myself and people whom probably cared but I did not fully trust. Believe me when I say I always have legitimate/rational reason for my actions and why not to trust. I have come to terms that my real mother (my grandmother) that recently passed few years back is gone. I dream about her still being here to give me that advise I so desperately need now but took for granted then. Contrary to what is perceived in my writing I do take care of my children as best as I can and provide them with my respect, acceptance, and try to prove to them I want/love them dearly. I ask myself is it good enough if I am still so tattered and don’t love myself. I have stopped the cycle of unlawful abuse, worked hard since the age of 18 for what I do have, but I ask myself will that be good enough to uphold my family bond with my children even though I have done wrong to myself and to others? All I can do is move forward in positivity and pray to God it is. Advise is welcomed.


Hi Heather
Welcome to EFB ~ we can never undo what happened but we can move forward with our lives. Yay for being a loving mother to your children and for stopping the cycle of abuse in your family. All my confidence came back when I started to work on self-care and self-love. I no longer worry about being good enough since I became ‘good enough’ for me. This has been a huge example to my children and I feel the most important about moving forward!
Glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene


My mother would beat me. She emotionally destroyed me mostly. Not only was she dangerously aggressive physically – but she was just as dangerous through her passive aggressive mannerism emotionally. My mother had two boys and two girls. She has always hated her daughters and almost sickeningly favored the men in her family. Therapist once told me that she just manifests a brute like and primitive nature by being jealous of the other women in the house. And she prefers to be the alpha female so therefore she destroys all potential and self esteem of the other women until it’s as low or lower than her own level. My mother is an alcoholic with a lot of regrets in life…and producing other women with a beacon of hope for success would only make sense to entice jealousy.
According to my mother she smoked while pregnant with me. According to my mother, I was born a few months early. According to my mother she went through post pardom depression after having me. According to my mother I had lung problems as an infant, and had to be left alone in the crib to scream and cry in order to encourage lung development. According to my mother – that was the reasoning for us never bonding.
I never noticed her distain for me until I hit puberty and my older sister frantically and abruptly ‘moved out’; as you can already guess the driving force for my 18 year old sister to be desperate to live on her own. My mother made my sister clean and babysit while she went out and got her nails done. She beat Sammi if it wasn’t done right. I have memories of my mother pulling her hair and throwing her to the ground. My sister balling her eyes out asking her little siblings to help her. And I was too frightened to move. I just stared her in her frantic eyes as she got beat. And as a ten year old- I felt guilt.
Sammi tried to leave at 18, but didn’t leave without a fight. My mother took a tomatoe can to my sisters head, trying to kill her so she wouldn’t walk out the door. Sammi then ran out without any of her things and hid in the woods while my mother got into her car searching the neighborhood for her. Sammi then called her father, explaining to him that she had chunks if hair missing and welts on her head. Her father said, “Sammi- this is your mother. Try to work it out with her.” And offered no further assistance.
From then on- I was the only other woman left in the household. I picked up my sisters role of cleaning. I noticed that my mother started treating me worse than usual….there are many many compelling examples that years of my childhood built up- but I can only tell so many.
One night while on vacation in a small hotel room- i resided in a hotel room with my brothers mother and father. My mother and father were absolutely hammered. My mother was strangely acting nice instead of the usual mean drunk. Everyone was messing around and throwing ice cubes at each other. I joined in and threw one at my mom. She got mad and then threw her heavy glass cup at my head. I was bleeding and crying. That made her more angry. She then stormed out and tried to drive – gathering up the attention from other family members while I sit in the hotel room alone crying curled up in my bed. When everyone came back to the room, they dragged her in and tucked her into bed with my little brother. She cuddled with him all night telling him how much she loves him. Not saying a word to me not aploigizing. The next morning she did not ask what the bump on my head was. She did not say sorry. No one acknowledged it. Later on, at the breakfast table- I mentioned it to my mom- asking her if she remembered. She got angry and said she was not going to talk about it. Everyone then looked at me as if I did something wrong. So I shut my mouth.

One morning I woke up to make myself eggs. I made myself scrambled eggs. No one in the house was yet awake. Next I hear my mother walking down the stairs and come into the kitchen…”oh! You made eggs! Did you make any for me?” Suddenly I realized I made a huge mistake by not. I needeth not say a word but look her in the eyes with guilt. She knew I had not. She stormed upstairs. As soon as she turned away I quickly got out another pot and cooked a sunny side up egg (her favorite) for her to come downstairs to—-hoping to recover from the previous situation. As soon as she came downstairs and seen what I had done- she was furious. Actually angry at me. She kicked me and called me filthy names. She then began to further ridicule me by telling me the eggs were over salted and that I must have put poison in the eggs. The rest of the day my brothers and father also seemed disappointed in me and neglected to speak with me. When my mother is angry at me- the rest of the household is as well.

2 years went by since my older sister moved out and I had hit my breaking point. I was never a pretty girl. I was ridiculed and severely bullied at school for being ugly and having a dimple in my chin- being called butt chin. I was afraid to go to school. But more afraid to go home. As soon as I walked in the door from school my mother immediately said, “don’t sit.” I had many chores to do and according to my mother she was too busy with work to do them. According to my mother she was ‘the mother’ and her word was law.
I had wanted to kill myself. I called up my sister and begged her to help me. I told her that I no longer wanted to live. Sammi said the best that she could do was to get my mother to bring us all up to Grandpas house to hold an intervention. This did not go well. It ended in my mother furious of the accusations,(words spoken by my aunt Barb) “Judy you beat your children and tell them you will put them in the hospital. If it doesn’t stop we will call the CYF”.
She walked out saying, ” you can have them”.
It turned into an investigaton. My siblings and I were removed from the house for three days. During those days we begged the social workers to not put us back. But they informed us that even though we all had claimed that she beat us on a daily/weekly basis- there were no bruises at the moment and therefore no evidence. We were returned back.
But what is so crucial to this point in the story – is that me and my siblings were all very very afraid of the consequences of going back home after ‘betraying’ her. So my brothers told my mother that the whole entire thing was MY idea and MY fault. We were no longer allowed contact with our cousins aunts and uncles. For months I was treated like garbage by everyone. I was blamed for the family crisis. My mother agreed to stop discipline me via beatings. (She also had a weekly social worker visit so she couldn’t sneak much abuse). But I remember these words exactly from my own mother. If I can’t beat you children then I resign my role as a mother. And Rachel- I still love you. But I don’t like you. I don’t have to like you. It felt like me against the world. It was….

Two more years passed and things still continued to get worse. My mother had stopped beating me as frequent. It went from daily/weekly to monthly or maybe every few months. Her punishment for me were other ways of emotional and mental abuse. I ceirtianly wasn’t let off the hook that easily. Sometimes I wished she beat me again so that she wouldn’t hate me so much. But deep down I was truly glad the beatings stopped somewhat. He used to punch me in my back til it was numb.
I was 14 and I hit my breaking point. Again- bullying at school and mental/emotional abuse from my mother. Every single day was a struggle. Daily I contemplated suicide. I had even made things worse for myself at school. I had been called ugly for years that all I wanted was acceptance. I lacked acceptance in my life. So I slept with someone in my grade. Ofcourse- that did not earn me acceptance. My new name was whore. That was the straw that broke the camels back. I had truly hated myself. I had to either get out of the house or kill myself. I came home one morning from sleeping over at my grandmas house. This was my fathers mother- so contact was allowed but my mother hated her. She said that my grandmother was a cunt. When I came home- my mother was out in the garden doing some yard work. She wanted to dig out a tree trunk. As soon as I came home she ordered me to take an ax and start digging it out. I could tell she was very angry with me for sleeping over my grandmas house. I had carefully chose my words. I asked her, “mom….what time would you like to stop so I can eat breakfast?”
“Fuck you.”
I had no idea why she was so hateful. I frustrated me. I began to have a mental breakdown. I started using the axe violently on the tree trunk – getting out anger. My mother took it as an attitude and pushed me telling me to stop and go inside. That she was not having an attitude like that. I said no. She then held up her fist to me and tried to hit me. I blocked it and pushed her hands off of me. I screamed at her to never touch me again. I ran inside in hysteria. She then directed me into the basement and locked it. Repeating to me that she will not provide for me and that includes food. I had no choice but to run away to the police. And I did. I told them my story and I finally had a little power and sympathy as a 14 year old. They said I was at an age where I could legally make some decisions. The CYF removed me from the home and put me into my grandmothers house. They did not take my brothers becuas my brothers told the cops and social workers that they were happy with staying there. The social workers could not argue.
Within the first few weeks of me finally being away from my mother , by brothers had called me. They were calling me up daily to tell me they miss and love me. My mother not get had given me ONE phone call. Not ANY at all. But one day my brothers informed me that if I didn’t come home they would never talk to me again. They told me that I deserved all the beatings because I’m a brat and that mom is doing the best she can. This was the worst day of my life. I had no friends. I was bullied at school. My brothers were ALL I had! But they shunned me. I had no choice but to continue with the legal process and go to court against my family. I was still afraid for my life to go back to my house. My mother had never called to tell me it was okay or to apoligize. I had no reason to go back home. I won my claims against my mom. She had failed a drug and alcohol test and also was diagnosed as manic depressive. The judge saw that it was healthier I were to stay with my grandma. Meanwhile I read in the court report that my mother claimed the only reason why I wanted to move out was because I’m a whore and wanted to get away from my school district.
I finally got away from her, although. The hardest parts in the first few years were coping with no phone calls or family visits on Easter, thanksgiving, my birthday or Christmas. Nothing. But every day slowly became easier….I stood up for what I belived in. Fair treatment. No matter how many times my mother told me I’d be cursed for “not honoring thy mother and thy father”. No matter how differently my siblings thought- I stood up against evil and won. But to continue to win I’m trying to cope with a lack of motherly love and lack of family support.

I will win this battle.


Hi Rachel
Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you have had a really terrible childhood and I am glad that you know her treatment was not right. When the line about “honoring your mother and father” is used against children, I often remind people to think about what the word honor really means. Abusive controlling people lie about everything in order to control others. I am glad that you drew your boundaries.
Hugs, Darlene


Was browsing for advice for a problem I’m having with my Mother at the moment and I just can’t believe I’ve found this. A whole community who are discussing the very problems with my relationship with my mother, I could never find a way to put it into words but these descriptions are so similar to my own. Reading all your stories tonight will help me so much, to know that you can go on to marry, have non dysfunctional loving relationships and children you swear not to treat the same way. I’m 25 and still feel like a child in the way it affects me, although I tell myself at this age it shouldn’t. This won’t fix things but reading this has already helped greatly xx


Hi Shelluk
Welcome to EFB! ~ I am so glad you are here. You would be surprised to find out how many people who are in their 70’s and beyond feel the same way! You are in the right place!
hugs, Darlene


Finally someone who gts it!!!!!! Thank You so much Darlene
I can’t stand the phrase “when they knew better they did better” “Or they did the best they could” errrrrrr! Some people should not have been parents


I never had a good relationship with my mother either. She was emotionally absent, neglected me badly, and also threatened me and beaten me as child. Now as an adult I see how much damage she has done, and I see that I was never responsible for her behavior. My mother’s mom was the same or worse with her, my mother told me abusive things her mother did to her. I talked to my mother about emotional abuse and the other types of abuse she received, it seems that she now intellectually understands what happened to her and why she repeated the same with me and my brothers. Now I sense that she carries a lot of guilt, and she is trying to compensate for her past behavior. She is sweet, supportive and available now, (btw I am a 39 year old woman) and tells me that she loves me and things like that. It’s hard for me to separate the woman she was with the woman she is now. My psyche still remembers the abuse and mistreatment she did. I still suffer from depression and anxiety and I am still trying to overcome health issues related to this bad childhood that set me up to carry so much stress and fear throughout my life.
It would be interesting to find
a post about how to heal from parents who abused you in the past but now have changed so much. It’s confusing sometimes.

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