What about Me? When Your Family Disregards You


water under bridgeI had a dream that caused me to wake up thinking about my relationship with my father who is passive abusive and emotionally unavailable and my relationship with my mother who believes that she comes first, simply because ‘she is the mom’. This dream resulted in me having a deeper understanding of just how I had never been seen by my parents and how deep my longing to be seen as an equally valuable individual was.  

In this dream I was in someone’s home looking at family pictures on the walls. As the wife and mother of the children in the pictures proudly explained who was in each picture we came to a spot where two side by side photos showed the father with his little girl.

The little girl was about 5 years old; she wore an expensive and beautiful white frilly dress and her hair was curled and styled perfectly for the photos that were taken that day. But something wasn’t right…

In the first photo the father sat looking like a movie star with his perfect smile and charming disposition but the little girl in the princess dress, sitting on his knee was crying. She had tears streaming down her cheeks and I could see by the expression on her face, her tears were silent. She was silent.

In the second photo while the father sat posed, still gazing into the camera with his Hollywood looks and handsome smile, the little girl was trying to get away from him. She was off his lap, pulling with all her might, her muscles straining, her body angled away and towards her destination and her face screwed up with the effort of trying to escape his grasp but her father held fast to her tiny hand oblivious to anything but the photographer and the photo opportunity.

These pictures hung side by side on the family picture wall. The little girl’s mother proudly showed them to me and I wondered why they were so happy with the pictures.  This mother was completely oblivious to the fact that the little girl in her frilly white dress was extremely unhappy.  These parents didn’t ‘see her’ at all. They only saw the perfect dress, the hair, the little shiny black patent-leather shoes but they didn’t see the child. She was just the object of their desire. She was a belonging, something that made them look good, something that validated their efforts… just some-thing.

In the dream I met the now grown woman who was the little girl in the pictures. She tearfully told me that these were the only pictures that were ever taken of her and her father. She confessed that she has tried to speak with her parents about her childhood but they tell her that she is exaggerating and that she has always been dramatic and they remind her how ungrateful that she is for all they have done for her. Her parents don’t see anything wrong in the pictures.

She told me that she struggles with depression and anxiety. She is unhappy and unfulfilled and her self-esteem is fragile, but nobody notices. Even all these years later, still nobody notices her. They are all caught up in appearances and their façade of the perfect family. They are only concerned with the way they appear to others but their own daughter is dying right before their eyes and they don’t notice; their own daughter questions whether or not she has started living yet… but they don’t notice.

She grew up with this “feeling” that she was never seen, never heard, never noticed and although it feel almost normal to her now, somewhere deep down she wonders what went wrong, is it her, did she ever matter, will they ever see her and value her for who she is? She wonders why they don’t want to know her and what she did that they found so disappointing.  Perhaps it was because she was unhappy on the day that the pictures were taken? Perhaps that was when it all began…

When I woke up from this dream I felt sick. In that foggy dreamlike almost awake state, I knew I HAD to help this woman; I had to tell her Mother that something was wrong within their family and that she HAD to listen to her daughter, that she couldn’t possibly NOT see the truth in the picture. But I was already telling myself that this was just a dream!

However, somehow I knew it wasn’t a dream.  As I woke up it occurred to me that this situation is closer to reality than most of us ever want to admit to ourselves.

This is exactly how it really is in families where parents don’t see their children as people or individuals with their own thoughts, needs and feelings. The mother was so proud of this picture of her handsome husband in his jet black tuxedo and the and her little girl in her perfect white dress. Nobody noticed that the little girl was crying. No one saw that she was hurting. No one cared that she was trying to communicate that something was wrong.

Nobody SAW her; Nobody HEARD her.

This is how it feels to be the child in a dysfunctional family where you are not seen as an individual. This is how it feels to be objectified. This is how it feels when you are trapped in an illusion of “normal”, crying for all to see except that they don’t see; they only see themselves, the dress, the hair, the shoes, the handsome man and his perfect smile, the expensive picture frame, the house, the wall… they saw everything but me.

If the way that I write resonates with you, you might enjoy my e-book “The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”. It’s like the blog on steroids! Download your copy today through the upper right side bar of this website. Click the book image for all the info.

Please share your thoughts with me and the rest of the community here in Emerging from Broken. I am looking forward to hearing from you

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

Related Blog Posts ~ Going No Contact and Feelings of Guilt

The grooming process of Discrediting Children and the Cycle of Abuse

Categories : Family



This really resonates. I still long to be seen, heard. But I’ve been driven into so much shame that I just hide. There is, admittedly, an element of that in going no contact with my family. I’m tired of feeling ashamed.
There are particularly poignant pictures of me on my third birthday. I even remember how happy my mother was to be able to get me a cake and have a party at her own place. SHE was happy. If you actually look at the pictures of me, with my hair neatly done in pigtails, wearing my favorite dress and patent leather shoes you can see a child who is shell shocked by all the things going on. I can feel her terrible sadness and fear. She (I) was completely disassociated. Strangely, one of my cousins posted one of these pictures on my facebook wall. It was not long after that I deactivated my account and decided to go no contact with pretty much everyone. I didn’t get why she posted that picture. She’s younger than I… I don’t know if she saw what I could see. It was just really odd and sad. But even though I’ve gone no contact with everyone, I find myself longing for some kind of acknowledgement.
As sad as it has been to not be seen, the few moments where it was attempted were not safe ones and it seems to me that I’ve been taught to hide. To never stick my neck out, never really say my piece. Every time I try to speak to my mother, I have always been disingenuous for her sake. I’ve always made excuses for her, forgiven her preemptively. Told her what she wanted to hear. Once I stopped doing that, she stopped having any kind of appreciation of me. Anything I say to her will not be heard, it will only be taken offence to.
I’m in the process of trying to figure out how not to hide. I have to remind myself daily that I have the right to exist. My shame and guilt are old habits that I seem to fall into easily. I feel like I even walk like my body is saying, “don’t notice me, don’t attack me.” I have to remind myself often that I have the right to be where I am, to be doing what I’m doing.


Pictures were also important in my family because they were nice and handy for showing off and getting the message through to other family members, neighbours or friends how happy and lucky we all were to be a member of this nice, perfect and happy family. Though I and my siblings often looked tired and exhausted (probably because they couldn’t agree on how to get the truly perfect picture) as long as we were in our cute Sunday clothes they did not care.

I can’t remember but a handful of pictures where my father and my mother were “happy” or let’s say seemed to be really happy. I know of two pictures and that was when they were on holiday at the Baltic Sea before I and my two younger siblings were even born. Later our family pictures were often like posing for the award of being a very lovely, nice and happy couple with three kids all dressed to the nines and smiling because my parents told us to say “cheese” into the camera. My father liked to stand and stare into the camera with his arms crossed behind his back trying to appear proud and respectable. My mother often looked troubled and anxious. I remember that me and my sister once had to sit next to our great-grandmother in an armchair when we were maybe four or five because they wanted us to sit there for the picture. We both were crying and trying to get away maybe because she smelled a little strange and looked a little too scary to us. No way. The picture had to be taken at all cost regardless of our fear and our pain.

Today I know that my parents had many problems of their own and that they often had a difficult time with each other. There were many fierce arguments and also some fights. One time I tried to protect her by getting between her and my father. I must have been four or five. I think it was early in the morning because she was still in her nightgown and we (my father, my mother and I) were in the kitchen and probably were having breakfast. He could be mean and she was in tears and pleading for him to stop. Then I remember her and me being in the living-room and him running after her. I think that I feared for our lives and I think he hit me when he came for us. I don’t want to believe that she tried to shield herself with me but I can’t say that I know for sure.It is so odd after all these years but I can almost be in the same scene after 35 years. Maybe it was traumatic and maybe I saw him and my family not in the same way as before.

My mother was an unhappy woman, always anxious not to disturb and enrage my father. I almost can’t remember ever having seen her relaxed and at peace. She had little self-esteem and was somehow on the run from herself. She always had to do something, be it gardening, sewing or mending clothes, cleaning, cooking and baking. I think she wanted to do everything right and perfect. She was somehow afraid of making mistakes or being seen as the not so perfect mother compared to her own mother.

Her own mother, my grandmother made sure that we believed that she was and had always been the perfect and respectable woman and family idol (later some of us even called her “the godfather”). She was adored and held in high regard by everyone and I think my mother often felt as a complete failure and maybe that was why she had been constantly under pressure because there were so many expectations and things that had to be taken care of and so many expectations that had to be met. Today I know a little more about why she behaved like she did. My grandmother was actually not perfect at all as I learned a lot later.


Hey Darlene! I sound like a broken record when I say what you say fits me so well. Everything you share on here touches my soul deeply. This site has played a huge role in me wanting to continue my healing journey.

It’s really heartbreaking to know how many of us feel this way about ourselves. I haven’t found my nitch in this life yet and sometimes I’m not even sure what drives me to be a part of this world, maybe the part that keeps me going is wanting to prove my parents wrong and that I do matter. I don’t want to be fueled by fear anymore, I want to find my own passion and desire for being here and see where it takes me. I trust in time more will be revealed, in the mean time I continue to learn and grow in love. Namaste!


This post definitely resonates! I had posted it on my blog just last week.

I had a phone call from my mother early last week and was talking to my therapist about it on Thursday. I got so wound up that I was taken to hospital by an ambulance later. My heart felt like it was giving out. Why? Because I am afraid to feel. It is easier to rationalize everything that A happened because of B, C and D. I’m afraid to feel because I don’t know how to process the hurt, pain and betrayal. I don’t know how to process feelings, so I run behind the logical brain, rationalize everything and suppress the emotions as much as I can.

Just last week, my mother decided to compare the actions of the past me (at 16 years old) to the current circumstances of her other daughter (who is 40 years old). I couldn’t rationalize this one, because it was just purely and utterly stupid! I was angry, and in an extremely destructive mood. I wanted to break everything around me. But I knew what the consequences of that would be. Further guilt.

It made me aware that NOTHING I do or say will change the way she views me. Her other daughter has “disowned” her because for once my mother refused to lie for her. This is bound to be temporary because the other daughter will come crawling back when she’s in trouble again. And yet, like always, when the other daughter screwed up, I’d get blamed for it. As children, when the other daughter was “naughty”, I got beaten too. But when I was “naughty”, I was on my own. My mother can’t find much about me to pick on (except that I’m “lazy” and “should go to work” and “not waste my life” even though I have told her that I’m trying to recover from PTSD). Her only ammunition, therefore, is to pick on mistakes I made 20 years ago. It is rather pathetic, but it angers me all the same. And I have a HUGE problem in processing emotions.

She called me again yesterday. She acknowledged that I had a bestseller non-fiction book on Amazon. I asked her if she was happy. Her response: “Which mother is not happy when her children are successful, you tell me?” Wonder who she was trying to convince – me or herself.


One of the things I did to help myself was get a hold of this old picture of me that had been taken when I was 3 or around there. I’m half-frowning with tear-stained cheeks in it. My mother told me that I had been very “difficult” during the photo session and that she had grabbed me and held me down just long enough for the photographer to snap me. You can’t see her in the picture.

Taking that picture away from her meant a whole lot to me. Every time I look at it I wonder how she could have treated a little kid the way she did. It’s clear to me that she saw me as an extension of herself and she didn’t appreciate my not wanting to be that.
She had my hair cut like hers (short) She would show me old pictures of herself as a child and tell me I looked just like her at that age. Much older, she would say the same thing. I found it suffocating. When I denied that I looked anything, WAS anything like her, she would get angry or upset.
And as time went on, I did as much as possible to not be like her. She read crappy romance novels? I’d dig into the philosophers. She was overweight? I’d stay skinny. Anything.


Hi Jamie
Writing this blog post I had mixed feelings even today. When I first had the dream it struck me that although the man and wife in the dream were not my parents, the dream was about me.. it was about grieving for what I thought might one day be, but had to accept that in fact would never be. At least not by my parents. BUT here is what I realize today; I am enough for me. And when I know that, (some days I am very strong and other days I have more work to do, processing, grieving, or just another layer of healing) I am amazing. When I know that I am enough, I am free, I am happy and I get a whack ton of living done!
Having said that, I know that what happened to me is still very sad. And knowing that is validating.
Hang in there, I appreciate your comments!
hugs, Darlene


This definitely resonates.

The first time I wrote on EFB was after I’d destroyed the large framed photograph my mom had given me (in my late teens) of a bronze statue of a little girl dressed in women’s clothing (presumably her mother’s) with my mom’s inscription on the back that I’d always be her baby girl. She had me cast in this role forever but it wasn’t even true to the spirit of my child self. Maybe the worst were those moments when she could recognize reality but she preferred her other world and lived there instead. It’d felt to me as though we’d made a deal that we’d live in this pretend world that she liked better—she got to show off the mother/daughter image she wanted and I avoided being exposed for everything I believed was wrong with me, as well as saving me from her emotional invasion. I was engulfed by her but also unseen.

So I’m out of that picture now, without a frame and not really knowing how to be in the world yet. I have this self-concept of being as a child looking for belonging. I don’t know if thinking of myself that way does me any good, but I also hate when I try to get rid the child part of me (not my mom’s false “baby girl” but my actual child self). I like that part of me but sometimes because of others I feel ashamed or other times I feel like they’ve cast me into a child role less than all that I am, as though I am weak, a willow tree or a rag doll. I feel that I haven’t embodied myself yet, I guess. I don’t want to sculpt myself into something because that would be no different than my past, but I don’t know how to grow into me yet… maybe just with time it will come… hopefully with not too many “learning experiences” like last week.


Hi Oliver
Thank you for sharing some of this history. I can appreciate all that you are saying here.
Hugs, Darlene

I had a tough time writing this post. I actually started it about 3 weeks ago and something about that dream really bothered me. I think those pictures represent the ‘proof’ that something was wrong and the truth is often very obvious.. like in those pictures.
Hugs, Darlene


I went to therapy for over 20 years because I was the scape goat of my family. Anything and everything that went wrong was put on me. I was disregarded any other time. I finally took the chance on moving away (a LONG WAY away) when I was 40. In the eyes of my family I ran away from home. My parents and siblings stopped talking to me about 3 months before I moved because my mother got together with my ex husband and his new wife, who couldn’t have kids, and helped them get a lawyer to take away my daughter. My mothers motivation was the fact that I was taking care of both my parents so they wouldn’t have to go into a nursing home and my daughter hated it in the town my parents lived. My Mom knew I’d pick my child over them. So she tried to make sure I’d have no reason to leave her. It back fired. Shortly after I moved I got a call my mom was dying. Once again I made the mistake of going to her side. I wanted my youngest son to see her before she went. I lost everything I owned just to say good bye to her. The lowest blow came when shortly after she died I was informed that I got nothing from her. NOTHING.. My father is still alive but we don’t talk, he lives with my sister who to this day blames me for my moms death. She died of heart failure. I don’t understand how on earth they can think I killed her. I didn’t make her smoke two packs of cig a day nor did I force her to eat fatty foods or tons of sugar. The only thing that keeps me smiling are my children whom I will NEVER disregard or treat like an object. I’m blessed by the fact that I knew when I was very young that I was abused and it was a cycle I COULD AND DID break. Of course my family totally disagreed to my parenting style as I chose to raise them in a diplomatic rather then dictator style like I was. And I never used a belt or coffee cord to “spank” them. I still have the scars from my “spankings” up and down my back and you know what? All I ever learned from those “spankings” was what abuse was and my parents didn’t know how to love only how to hurt. The last thing mom said to me was I love you. I don’t believe it. But guess what, I love me so its ok.


Hi Lora
Sometimes when I write I feel like I sound like a broken record too! But if it makes you feel any better I can honestly tell you that I never get tired of being told that what I am writing is resonating with others! So thank you from the bottom of my heart. 🙂
It really is heartbreaking, but at the same time there is life and hope and healing where (at least for me) there wasn’t before and that is a miracle.
Thank you for being here,
hugs, Darlene


Hi FireAndIce
I will never be able to comprehend the communication styles of these kinds of mothers.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Hi Alice
Although my mother didn’t try to make me look like her (she was as blond and blue eyed as I was dark) she wanted me to say things like that… to compare me to her, to want me to BE like her… it’s weird. I could write a book about the strangeness of that… it’s almost like she wanted me to be her or at least like her or the way she expected me to be, (but it wasn’t me) and the she hated me for it. I don’t think she liked herself much at all.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi April
Wow, these stories get to me! How can a mother do that to her own daughter? That is heartless! (about trying to take your daughter)
I am so glad that you have found freedom and love for yourself! YAY
Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene


This definitely resonates with me. I’ve thought for the longest time that my family didn’t really want ME to be a part of them, they wanted a cardboard cut-out that looked like me.

I’m not currently in contact with my family, and they’d say that I rejected them, while I feel like they rejected me. They DEFINITELY didn’t want anything to do with what I thought or how I felt about anything. If I don’t agree with my brother, I must be crazy.

yeah – that’s not going to work…


Hi Darlene, yes it feels a bit like she wanted me to be her. But the version she wanted. My father did see me as someone different, a distinct person.
My mother also used me as something to compare with her friends’ about their kids. Like who’s kid got which degree? Which one got married? Which one had kids? Oh, this one here is living “internationally”. I didn’t score enough points on the cards “marriage” and “kids” though. Remember those trading cards? Like a goddam Pokemon! I used to joke with one of her friends’ sons that we should have the “Children’s scorecard” as an actual thing.


Wow – the essence of the photos in this post remind me of the photos in my wedding… and even today, I literally say that I want to be seen, heard, felt, and understood. It’s a longing… and I watch myself work hard for it. Thanks for this post – it does shed some light on patterns and sources over here.


Wow, Darlene. Your dreams are really vivid. I haven’t had a vivid dream in so long, whereas I used to have them all the time. I prayed years ago to never dream, because I was afraid that I would discover something evil about myself…so emotionally repressed was I.

I recently noticed that in a lot of my pictures as a child, I am NOT smiling. There is one with my cousin whom i grew up with, and we’re looking at each other smiling. That one warms my heart, because we grew up like sisters, and it reminds me that I had many good things in my life back then. I didn’t take a school picture after 6th grade. There are a few from when I took band photos, but that was it. I was so ashamed of my looks and myself, I thought it better not to have any documentation of ugly old me. As a 45 year old woman, I find that appalling. I would love to have more photos of myself at that age, as I feel they would provide more clarity of where my heart was. The photos that I do have, I look at periodically, and I validate the little girl/young woman in them. It helps to ease the pain. it also brings about a LOT of regret. I know it’s useless to say over and over again, why didn’t I see it. The simple answer is…I wasn’t allowed to, because my perception was dictated by the ones around me. Be happy. Don’t complain. You don’t have it as bad as others. blah blah blah blech.

To honestly be seen and heard. To have people see you, hear you and want to see and hear you because you’re you. I know it’s possible. It just seems so far away at times. For so many years, my behavior was how I was seen. I thought any good thing in life, I had to earn. If I didn’t get it, it must be because I’ve done something wrong. If I don’t get what my family says I should get, then perhaps I need to give up, or something is wrong with me. These are the kind of messages people who rely on you to prop them up give you. It’s easy to sit on the bench and be the critic. It’s also easy to criticize a defenseless child, because they wouldn’t dare examine themselves or their own motives.

I’m up to chapter 6 of Darlene’s book, and it’s been an amazing ride so far. She provides a new and more appropriate definition of Victim Mentality in this chapter. I can’t wait to break the shackles of my victim mentality and run free.


I can really relate to this, I’ve had similar dreams. My FOO’s family album was generally filled with only posed pictures–school photographs or ones taken at Christmas and birthdays, that were about ceremony and contained no genuine feelings or appreciation for us. The pictures were about what my mother valued and was interested in, which contained little-none of my life and personality, the childhood activities that I enjoyed, or the real milestones that I remember.

Actually, at 12, once I started dressing and styling my hair in a way she didn’t like, my mother stopped buying the yearly school pictures, and furthermore denied/refused to recognize my identity at all. She said she didn’t want to even be seen in public with me at 13 years old, because of my look. But like Alaina’s, my mother also told me I would “always her baby,” and held close to the old pictures she liked while insisting they were ‘the real me.’ The image of me that my mother had in her mind was deemed worthy, but I was not.

There were two pictures of me crying in the album–in each of them I was about 2 1/2 years old, in one I had been locked outside of the house and couldn’t get in, while the other had me being pushed down a playground slide against my will and despite my screams and cries. Instead of helping me out of those predicaments, my parents stopped, got the camera and took photographs that they shamelessly kept for a long time and laughed at. I was repeatedly told that my (hurt) feelings were incorrect (as if it was objective, factual matter; and my family was correct that it was great to make fun of me, while I was wrong to be hurt) but I took those photos and burned them in the end.


Caden, yes. That is so awful that your parents didn’t react to your needs first. Being so completely dependent on them, it must have been frightening to realize that their first priority was to make pictures of your distress instead of comforting you, and to later make fun of you in those pictures is just very wrong. I’m so glad you shared this.


Thankyou for your blog. This is exactly how it was for me. They NEVER saw me at all. I felt invisible. I disassociated I felt so unreal.
I used to think maybe I was in a dream, a nightmare, I would pinch myself so I’d wake up, but it wasn’t a dream, these creatures really were my ‘parents’.
For most of my life I have walked looking down, embarrassed to exist hoping not to be noticed. Mother always told me ‘Who’d want to look at you, you think you’re special don’t you? WELL YOU ARE NOT.
And, all this time Golden Child was adored.
I don’t look down any more.
You must make sure you walk upright, look the world in the eye. You are special.
You were a victim of The People Of The Lie.


My story is a little different in that when I look at old family pictures, I don’t see a well dressed child groomed to present an outward beautiful image to the world. I see my shabby clothes and stringy unwashed hair. My mother never card about my appearance but in those same pictures her hair and makeup and outfits were perfect. I particularly remember my sixth grade graduation and a picture of me standing with my mother right after it holding my diploma and a special achievement certificate I was awarded. I had on a dress passed down from my cousin and my hair was straggly. My mother had gotten HER hair done that morning and was the picture of perfection. I was the only girl with black shoes on; everyone else wore white, but my mother was never tuned into me fitting in. The black shoes were a big deal to a little girl who always felt like the odd one out.

I was expected as a child to do well in school and not get into any trouble, and I had chores like ironing, washing bathrooms cooking a vacuuming to do at home. Beyond that, I was invisible. No one cared if I was happy or not, or if I was an outcast at school. No one cared if I was clean or not. No one cared if I had wants, needs or feelings. If I was unhappy my mothers way of dealing with it was to ignore me and to instruct the rest of the family not to talk to me. All I wanted was for someone to care; someone to ask what was wrong and maybe offer a little guidance. Comfort from family when I was upset?? Never. That was for other girls in other families. Yes, that Is how I was groomed and I bought into the lie that I didn’t deserve those things. I even felt that I didn’t deserve to have basic needs and that if I did, I was doing something terrible because it put a burden on my mother. So I shrank as small as I could and became as invisible as possible. Which is just how my mother wantd me to be. No wants, no needs, no impact. The closest she could get me to be to not being there.


Caden, my mother refused to buy my kindergarten picture because I wasn’t smiling and my senior graduation picture because she decided it was too ugly to display . She bought my two brothers’ pictures though and proudly displayed both of her boys graduation pictures in the living room.
I was always upset that I didn’t have my kindergarten picture. Imagine the joy I felt decades later when a classmate surprised me and emailed me a copy of our kindergarten picture!! He didn’t know the story about my mother not buying it before sending it, but I told him after so he could know just how much it meant to me. As for my senior picture, I just went to my reunion, and I saved my name tag with my yearbook picture, the one my mother wouldn’t buy back then. I have it on my bureau and when I look at it I think ” mom you lied to me! This is not an ugly picture at all. It’s cute and I’m proud of it”. Another lie has been eliminated!


Last winter,while i was in the park,i learned another life lesson about real loving parenting.A mother and her little girl made a snowman.Afterwards,the mother wanted to take a picture of her girl near the snowman;but the girl was definitely not in the mood for pictures.And than something amazing happened!The mother did NOT force the child.That was shocking for me,in a positive way.My mother would have forced me,shouting and hitting:”I made the snowman for you and now you are ungrateful.Don’t i deserve a picture?”.

It was the first time i witnessed kindness to a child.That mother actually respected the girl’s wish,even at about 5 years old.In my heart,i felt warmth and pain at the same time.I wondered why i wasn’t born in that normal family.I imagined the girl growing up happy and loved.

On the internet,i read that abusers are always addicted to something,not necessarily drugs or alcohol.My mother is a workaholic.She seems to run away from me by making money.She works from home,having a private business,but i won’t go into details.Her work schedule starts at 8 in the morning and ends at 8 in the evening.Whenever we fight,she throws her sacrifice in my face,calling me ungrateful.

As i see it,i’m the one who’s sacrificed here.She does this work since i was a child,so i was never seen or heard.I hate her work;that’s pathological behavior,not sacrifice.I wish i could stop her,but i can’t.She was operated on for cancer and she had surgery on both her eyes.Almost blind and in horrible pain,she keeps on working FOR ME.I feel guilty and angry at the same time.I never wanted her sacrifice.I always wanted a loving mother and spending quality time together.For me,that’s what matters,not her ill work.

I watch parents with children in the park.Don’t they have jobs and money to make for their children? How do i stop feeling guilty?What should i tell her when she shuts me up mentioning her (unwanted) sacrifice?


Hi Hobie
I know what you mean.. so many things went through my mind as I thought about this dream; I just don’t understand WHY people would want to live that way? Living in truth has made my life WORTH living.
Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene

Ya, the whole comparing kids thing is so typical. It’s like living in the stepford wives… (that is actually how I see ‘the fog’ looking back)
There are all these people, bragging about their kids but never seeing OR valuing who those kids are. (and some parents don’t brag about their kids, some put them down in front of everyone all the time!) Some parents only brag to some people, and put the kids down to others… it’s like they ‘play’ to whatever crowd they are in.
so sad.. hugs, Darlene


Hi K2014
Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
We all want to be seen and heard. Being seen for who we are, being heard and having impact on other people is hard wired into humans. If you think about the abusive system, the bullies / controllers/ abusers/ want to be seen and heard and they overpower others in order to get there. AND they don’t impact for positive, they just pretend to want to, ie “I am doing this for your own good” type stuff ~ but they certainly do have ‘impact’!! They insist on being right and it is their way or the highway or they use manipulative ways to hide their true motives.

The healing process for me has been very much about learning to see and hear myself. I strive to have a positive impact in the lives of the people around me and to let people impact me (positively) as well. The proper use of power is to empower.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Thanks for this — “seeing and hearing myself”. I can do that. I can keep my promises to myself and respond to my inner ways of knowing (often the body). And that will probably have a very positive effect if I try to respond to what’s happening and true for me.

I so often forget that I can have an impact on the people around me! I think of myself as a recipient or someone who has to flex to the environment they’re in. I’ll take a closer look at that. I will remember that and allow more… allow people in more in a positive way. I have just learned that ability to discern positive vs. negative impact, so it’s safer to be out in the world a bit more. I can hear my voice as loud as others (well, some of the time…).


Hi Caden
Yes, your comments remind me of how my mother stopped taking pictures of us when we reached a certain age. If is almost as if when we became “people” and not children, she lost interest.. or something like that.
Your parents piss me off. I am so glad that you got those photos and burned them.
Thank you for sharing.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Callynt
Exactly! I know that looking back this stuff is SO logical. I asked myself a million times why I didn’t SEE it before, but I was brainwashed. In my life the ‘grooming process’ started young. I learned YOUNG to comply to what my mother wanted, I learned to work hard to be better because I believed that they (my parents) would love me when I deserved it.
Thanks for the comments on my book too. My editor said that it was a life changing experience for her to read it even though she had read every single one of the posts associated with it before. I love the imagery of breaking the shackles and running free! Love it!!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Anna
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
It is heartbreaking when parents tell their children that they are NOT special. What a horrible thing to say! Yay for not looking down anymore!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

YES what you said to Caden. It IS frightening for kids to be in these situations. And we cope the only ways that we can; dissociating, withdrawing, complying, NONE of which empowers us to become who we are and live lives of freedom and wholeness.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Amber,
WOW what a truth leak that is! (that your mother was all dressed up and you were not!) Sounds like it was all about her, which is exactly what my dream was about. It was all about the parents, all about what they wanted, all about their own happiness, and children were just objectified.
I am sorry that you were that child too. All those expectations were also about them.
Thank you for sharing; this was never about you, it was all about her.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Laura
I stopped feeling guilty when I finally knew it wasn’t my guilt to carry. That is a huge part of the process. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you Darlene for that validation. I have been realizing just how much was all about my mother as I’ve been coming through the fog. She always had to be on top, the prettiest, smartest etc. And would even squish her own daughter to maintain her position.
By the way, I am loving your book! I’m reading it very slowly so I can really process things as I go. I’m on page 52; so far it’s been wonderful and eye opening and I’m sure the rest will be just as awesome! You are like a lighthouse shining a guiding light through the fog.

Meredith Witherell
September 3rd, 2014 at 8:23 am

This is me but not in a dreamworld. My pictures are real. School pictures. I have them stored away and will not share them. In one class picture, I am crying and in obvious emotional distress. For some reason, I was sent to school on picture day in old jeans and a t-shirt. All of the other girls were dressed up with hair in curls and ribbons. My mom claimed to not have remembered it was picture day but my brother and sister were ready for their pictures. I remember feeling sick, troublesome and unloved. With the creation of Throwback Thursdays on Facebook, the people with whom I attended school have begun to post class pics and reminisce about the olden days. Oh my goodness, the pain I felt the day that pic went up. No one knows how lost I was, how deep the hurt ran. All they see is the little girl who ruined the picture with her tears.


Thinking about this further, it seems my mother prides herself on being able to predict the actions of others. She has a narcissistic need to be omniscient. She prides herself on being “street smart” and being able to “read” people. I don’t think this was healthy intuition, however. It was more like a lack of trust. Being on constant defense so that no one can hurt her. In some of our conversations when I was younger, she would point something out to me that I hadn’t realized and say something along the lines of, “I know you, I’m your mother.” I think this was supposed to make me feel a sense of closeness, loyalty, and ultimately a lack of trust in my own faculties to understand myself. I unconsciously started rebelling against this to the point where she said to me a couple of times before going no contact that I was one of the few people she couldn’t read. She couldn’t figure out what I would do next. I went off script and she didn’t, doesn’t get it.


Unfortunately for my mother, her over inflated sense of authority over all others doesn’t allow her to see anyone as they are. Only in terms of how they could be or are a threat to her fragile ego.


Hi Meredith,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I can totally relate to the depth of pain you are expressing here. When you wrote “nobody knows how lost I was”… yes that is so true. And really all that it took for me to begin to heal was that validation that I WAS lost, that I WAS in pain that I had been discounted and devalued, and nobody noticed.
Glad you are here! Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


That phrase “I know you, I’m your mother.” ~ that caused a shiver to run down my spine. Gosh that phrase makes me cringe… I remember my mother saying that, and I agree with you that it was designed to tell me that SHE knew me better than I knew me, and that I didn’t really know myself.
I copied this phrase into my blog document as a new post idea. I am going to think about it. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


Hugs to you, Darlene. I look forward to your thoughts on that.


For me, it is the absence of pictures. Even at my sister’s wedding she displayed a collage of family portraits, including one of her dog but none of me. Emotionally, I’m not sure what causes the most pain, being beaten or being invisible.


Hi Darlene,

Yes, one of my mother’s defenses to me when I asked her why she never told me she was proud of me was “But I tell other people how well you’ve done *all the time!*” And I was supposed to be happy about it as if it was for me or something.

But isn’t it obvious she was bragging about me for herself? She would say it was for me.

She’d also let other family members put me down and then tell me she’d “always defended you Alice.”

I guess I just ended up mystified and confused. It’s just lying, isn’t it?


Darlene, thanks for your response. Your post reminds me of my late cousin whom I found crying one time when we were small. I went over to tell her mother who said “Oh, she does that all the time. There’s nothing the matter with her.” She said this within earshot of her crying daughter. At a family gathering she was forced to play her guitar for everybody, tears streaming down her face, until another aunt put a stop to it. This niece later committed suicide. (Her heartless parents and siblings are alive and well.) We never saw each other after our childhood years but I always felt such compassion for her. I wish she could have managed to carry on and find this blog.


Reading this article and the comments is triggering feelings of there being some elite club to which my mother and many others belonged to, but I didn’t and had no idea why not. There’s my well dressed mother, and my aunt and girl cousin who lived around the block from me. There’s the women on the block that my mother and aunt befriended, and their daughters. Everyone is dressed nicely and everyone is accepted and interest is shown in their lives. Who are they dating, are they starring in the drama club production? When the girls come home from school and report about some important event they are listened to and taken seriously, but if I try to introduce a topic it was ignored or discounted that Amber isn’t cool and has no idea what she is talking about. I was denied entry to this exclusionary club. I tried to figure out why and could never find a good answer, except that I was too ugly or stupid or had some unknown huge flaw that precluded me from being a part of the group.

Now that I am clearing away the fog I realize it was my self centered mother that excluded me fom the group. As I said in an earlier post, she was always dressed well and made up with hair done while I was bathed once a week and my hair was usually in tangles. My clothes were mainly hand me downs from my cousin when she tired if them and they were no longer stylish. My mother hated her mother and her two girl cousins whom her mother gave much of her stuff away to because their father had run off. I think I was my mothers scapegoat for this; the female who would take the punishment for the deprivation my mother felt at the hands of her mother. My mother was determined to look beautiful, all the while keeping me as ugly looking as possible so no one would detract any attention from her, most especially a female. She greatly resented when I met my husband and there was someone in my life that loved me and paid attention to me. She wanted to keep me feeling inferior, and much of her strategy was to deprive me and then make me feel like I didn’t measure up, and therefore she would discount me. I wasn’t heard and valued. The discounting continued up until the end. If Ihad any ideas to offer on her financial matters or her assisted living or anything els she would dismiss it yet if my brothers said the exact same thing she would listen. That’s the story of my life. But I understand what went on now and how flawed she was. I am gradually wiping away the ways she defined me and letting my real self shine through.


Amber, just about word-for-word ditto for me! Amazing isn’t it how much our mothers had in common. The more I realize that the negative voice in my head is hers, the more I’m beginning to realize and to change. It’s an incredible experience to begin to feel good in your own skin. I’d gone through that transformation in my twenties, but then got stuck in denial again and didn’t want to deprive my children and FOO of having a relationship. Then it turned out I married my mother and it all went to hell. Now I’m NC with all of them and trying to heal.

What I wanted to add to my previous post is that, after her death, my niece’s FOO were all innocently moaning and crying about how “hard they had tried to help her.” Yeah, nobody had a friggin’ clue?! That’s evil.


This is my experience – harder for my siblings. My heart goes out to anyone who was an acquisition instead of a person.


Wow, Darlene, what insight this dream must have given you. Dreams of survivors seem to be this way… They may not depict a specific person or persons, but the driving overall emotion really nails it. Our situations are very similar with the exception of the mom and dad personalities being reversed. Dad was like your mother, and mother was passive-aggressive, but an enabler. I totally understand the feeling of being a possession. That is how it was with us. I sort of described this in the narrative of one of my videos:

“Her father was a musical genius by most standards, and he was talented and skilled at not only playing the piano, but also as a composer, arranger and singer. He worked as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, and then taught private piano lessons at his home after work. He also served as the choir director for the local Methodist Church until he was asked to leave because of his sexually related misconduct.

He started teaching his daughter piano lessons very early, and she was his youngest student. She was so small that she couldn’t even reach the piano pedals with her feet. Her father was so proud of his musical protégé, and he bragged to others about her “perfect pitch” ability. She was just another “thing” to add to his unique collectibles.

However, there was a dark secret that his daughter was hiding. She was unable to learn how to read music no matter how hard she tried to understand. She was not able to learn to tell time on a clock either, and most likely had dyslexia. She was already tormented by what happened each night to her tiny body, and was further disturbed during the day by her inability to please her father with musical capabilities. She hardly ever uttered a word, and never, ever laughed. Relatives often asked her father what was wrong with her as she hid behind his legs with her head down. Her hands trembled, and she could not make eye contact with another person. She was undernourished, underweight, and not nurtured by her mother. She only had ragged clothes to wear, and only one pair of shoes which were saved for special occasions. She was barefooted most of the time, and especially in the summers. Today, this child could appear to have and be diagnosed with a form of autism.

She eventually learned to play Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” as well as Chopin’s “Minute Waltz”, but only by sheer will and determination in order to please her father. “Honor thy father and mother” were words repeated to her regularly. She used the fingering numbers on the sheet music to assign to her fingers in hopes that she could hit the correct notes. She also tried to learn by hearing parts of the songs when her father played them, and then playing “by ear” what she heard him play. The last piece that she was able to learn by these methods was “Waltz of the Flowers” by Tchaikovsky.

When her father discovered that his young daughter could not read music, he was furious. He was angry that she had embarrassed him and that she had wasted his precious time. He immediately took her and left her with the only other piano teacher in their small town. She sat silently on the piano bench, gazing into space, and terrified to move a muscle. The piano teacher finally sent her home.

The daughter never learned to read music to play the piano, but was able to “play by ear”, or improvise to some extent. Her father was ashamed and embarrassed that she could not learn to read music even though it was obvious that she was not capable of doing so. In his eyes, she was no longer his music prodigy or his idiot savant… she was merely an idiot.

Just managing to stay alive in this severely abusive environment was a major accomplishment for this little girl much less being obsessed with pleasing her father with any musical accomplishments. She was shocked that she finally made it chronologically to her 10th year alive, since she had already tried to end her life before that young age. Her mother had repeatedly told her that she was a product of “bad breeding”, and she never provided any care to her daughter regarding personal hygiene. Her daughter ran the streets at night, dirty with matted hair most of the time even as a small child.

Although she went on to graduate with honors from the University of Oklahoma School of Art, and later established a successful career as a graphic artist in Dallas, TX, she was still a miserable failure as a musician, and a huge disappointment to her father.

Even after almost six decades of trying to find a musical instrument which is simple enough for her to play successfully, she continues to buy and then sell them, failing time after time. She persistently pursues her futile attempt to attach to this perpetrator long after he has died.

This video along with the classical piece is a tribute to the perseverance and ingenuity of this dear, precious little girl. May she learn to smile – even to laugh someday… and to forever waltz with the flowers.

A part of me still struggles with these feelings of “not being good enough”, and of being unintelligent.

Thanks for writing this.


This is highly ironic! Just this afternoon, I tried to explain to my mother just how depressed I was feeling (and why) and she jumped in with her OWN issues/problems/tragic childhood. I’m this close to finding a Mac truck to walk out in front of.


It is amazing the experiences we have in common! The description of not being seen or heard reminds me of the times I felt invisible around certain members of my family. It’s like being a non-person. My emotional and mental anguish are totally invalidated by their silence. If they read this comment I would hear, “when did we do that to you?” “When you were silent and passive. When you showed no empathy for the pain I felt when dad died last month. When you added to my suffering by disregarding that it was MY dad who died, not yours. When you threatened to not return my dad’s journals which I graciously loaned to the family and not clutch them for myself.” A psychologist told me we have a family of chance and a family of choice. I choose the family that validates my emotional anguish, and doesn’t make me feel humiliated. I choose those like Darlene, and those who share their experiences on this blog. I wish we could meet in person, and not need social media, but that is unrealistic. My thanks to all of you who have shared what it feels like to not be seen or heard.


POWERFUL. thank you for sharing.


As far as I can remember, I always hated and avoided pictures for so many reasons. One was that I could almost never smile.

Two was that I hated the clothes my mother used to dress me with, especially those ugly wool pants and boy wool sweaters that made me itch so much. I remember I was suffering in these clothes and told her many times how uncomfortable they were, my whole body would feel itchy but she insisted I didn’t know anything so I should just wear them. Sometimes she would even put a boy shirt under the wool sweater and I felt so hot, but the whole thing felt it was stuck on me and I couldn’t even roll my sleeves up. All of the boy clothes were my older brother’s; I guess I didn’t deserve new cute girl’s clothes. I never thought of finding the pictures that I had in these clothes and burning them! Also my hair was a mess throughout school, she would force me to cut it playmobil style even though I was begging her to let me grow it because I always loved long hair. She would say that it was too much work for her to have to wash my long hair so I could let it grow when I could take care of it by myself.

Three was that I was meticulously conditioned to hate the way I looked. First, it was the color of my complexion. I have Mediterranean olive skin color which is a tad darker than light white. My mom would repeat to me so many times how my skin wasn’t white and my brother and his classmates ridiculed me making jokes about my skin color. Then it was my nose, which was rather big and crooked so you can imagine that the mocking both at school and at home was relentless. It would bring tears to my eyes so many times. I didn’t even feel like going out to play as a child. Other children would make fun of me and many times I would overhear older people mocking me even when I rode the bus or went shopping. As a teenager I felt disgustingly ugly and didn’t ever socialize. I stopped socializing and going out at the age of 10. It was too painful to go out, I was always afraid that someone would notice my nose and then the team mocking would start again. My mother used to tell me that I must love myself the way I am because this is the nose that fit my face and it was perfect for me. I asked her to just give me hope that someday I will get it fixed, but she kept telling me that this is wrong and it was my problem that I was hurt by all the comments. Finally, at the age of 25 I had a cosmetic surgery and never regretted it, even the doctor felt for me when he first saw me. But I think she just wanted me to stay like that. She has told me several times that it is unbelievable how much I look like my father- they got divorced when I was 7- and many times the way I walk or eat remind her of him so much that she wants to slap me. Then she tops it off with saying that I must have gotten something good from her but it hasn’t come out yet for the world to see. So many hurtful comments about my weight -grandma would say I was unattractively skinny and mom would say I was chubby, but I was normal- my clothes being of bad taste, my talking, my walking, my everything was wrong. Soon I completely shut down, didn’t take care of my hygiene for as long as 2 weeks sometimes, which caused me severe acne for 12 years. I wore hip hop clothing to hide my curves and just ran away from all school pictures. I would refuse to be photographed at school or anywhere else. They all got me to the point that I didn’t want to be seen anymore but I desperately needed to be discovered and heard. I have almost no pictures of me after the age of 10.

The weird thing was that whenever I looked at myself in the mirror I didn’t see an ugly girl. I thought I was ok looking, but the conditioning was so strong that I felt I was wrong in not being able to see my ugliness. Now, I see my daughter and she looks just like me. But I see a beautiful little girl, so I must have been a beautiful little girl. My mother said when she was born “let’s hope she doesn’t get your skin color and she gets her father’s light complexion”. A difficult thing for her to say since she hates my husband. Well, I guess she hates my skin even more… But hey that’s ok, because then she reminds me how much she loves me so that takes the pain away! Yeah mom, great job…


Hi Colleen
There is a definite absence of pictures in my family of origin too especially as we got out of the baby years.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Elsie
That is horrible about your cousin. I wish she could have found us too.
hugs, Darlene


Amber, thanks for sharing that story!
And my fav line at the end of course is when you write “But I understand what went on now and how flawed she was. I am gradually wiping away the ways she defined me and letting my real self shine through.” I had to undefined and then redefine ME ~ that helped a ton! I wasn’t who they said I was!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Susa
what you shared is beautiful. I love the way you write! My heart was right there with the little girl and I get it so deeply. Please post the link to the video here so that everyone can watch it.
Thanks for sharing this today! I love it and it touched me deeply.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Lee
Welcome to EFB ~ Yes, always about them.
It took me such a long time to realize that I was talking to someone who didn’t care about how anything affected me. And it was time for me to care about me.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Janice
Yes it is like being a non person.. That is exactly what being ‘invalidated’ is. It’s not valid. And I too (finally) realized that I had a choice. And then I began to live. (well first there was some pain.. 🙂 and sometimes there is sadness, but always the freedom is worth it!!)
Thanks for sharing!


Hi Amber (20) and everybody,

I read your comment and I was a lot like you as a kid. My Narc mom was always ‘dressed to the nines’ and I was not. It was fine for her to shop at the mall at the good department stores like Nordstroms (I’m from Seattle originally) and other good stores. She bought herself new shoes, coats, the dept. store makeup counter, and lots of clothes. My mother did not care to fuss with hair too much so she wore wigs—always perfect. Her perfume (can’t remember her favorite) anyway was expensive! Later, when my family lived abroad for three years in Mideast(my father was an engineer), my Narc mom accumulated quite a jewelry collection through a few R&R trips, buying lots of gold jewelry, pearls, and stone rings direct from India and Thailand. Meanwhile, I was the worst dressed girl at my private school. I,too,was an honors student and considered rather shy. Luckily later on at my girls’ Catholic high school in Seattle, we wore school uniforms. Now you can understand why I totally support school uniforms for kids.

To this day, I am hurt whenever I see a mother and daughter shopping. Some women are the fashion plates who love spending barrels of money on clothing and accessories. Again, I don’t care what people do, but I guess I have issues from my past. My mother did not want me to look too good since it was always about her. In my adult life, I have a very casual daily look, mainly jeans, tee shirts, lots of crystal jewelry and silver jewelry, and my trademark glasses. I have a simple hair cut, now colored dark ash blonde. There is a business casual policy at my job so I don’t dress up much. For a formal actual date, I can wear a dress and sandals. I may change my look in the future when I’m older but I don’t know.

Regarding the photos, my Narc mom was quite clever. I would be dressed up for a photo, but then it was back to normal for my everyday look. I wore jeans and hoodies (cheaper from the boys dept.—1970’s unisex clothing childhood). As a 1980’s teen, I could earn babysitting money and buy some of my clothes. My parents told me often to my face how much they had wanted a boy and I was a disappointment. (Of course, there was a lot of physical abuse and verbal abuse by my mom and also dad).

I don’t know what it is about photos but they reveal so much truth at that moment in time. I was never a good actress, just too honest, and many Christmas and birthday photos I seem to have a fake smile. I was then criticized by my Narc mom for smiling like that cartoon character, “The Cat in the Hat”. I remember my high school graduation photos where you can see me wearing my white cap and gown. I was standing outdoors near a flowering shrub rather far away with a forced smile. An elderly relative of mine commented on my photo saying that she thought I was smiling but it was far away and hard to tell. Actually, I had been fighting with my parents and crying on that day and almost did not make it to the ceremony. I tried to smile on the outside, but was crying on the inside. Yes, family photos of me were always traumatic.

Another weird thing about the family photo album was that I was never really allowed to have older family history photos(like great grandparents)from my father’s side. When I had my apartment years ago, my parents would briefly visit me(low contact) and leave. I noticed that a photo album in my bookcase was gone! There were duplicate photos at my parent’s house so there was no real need to take anything away from me. I don’t understand if my father felt like I was unworthy or wanted to keep me away from them. The message I got was that I was not a real family member.

There was another recent incident with a former neighbor lady when I was a kid. This neighbor lady kept in touch with my Narc mom by phone. It’s been a very long time and she asked for me and actually wanted a current picture of me. My Narc mom made some kind of excuse and promptly changed the subject. I did mail the lady a holiday card with small picture of me, head shot only, of my face. This got back to my Narc mom who called me on the phone screaming and asking, “why did you send a photo of yourself to Barbara?” I explained that it was only a head shot and not a full photo of me. Then my Narc mom screamed at me by calling me “fat” and assorted derogatory names! Apparently, I was not supposed to send anyone a full photo of myself since I had put on some weight, but not morbidly obese. So once again, I am not good enough and I can’t perform to please her.

Once again a very good thread. I wanted to add that since I’m a Sensitive or Medium,(have been into ghosts/Spirits since childhood but kept my mouth shut! LOL!) reading photos is another form of psychic reading. There are psychics who can give messages about deceased people by tuning into the energy of the photo. They can read what was going on at that moment in time. It’s a form of being clairvoyant. (If you ever have a reading with a gifted psychic bring photos of people and they can usually tune into an awful lot!) I truly believe that’s why dark entity people hate photos because others can see so much on a deep level. Interesting! Thanks for reading! Blessed Be! )0(


Hi Nate,
Glad that you liked this article!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Elli G
YOU must have been allergic to wool! That is horrible!
I have a hair story too, well many of them in fact. Thank you for sharing the pain your mother put you through! Good grief what is wrong with these people! We were CHILDREN!
Thanks again for sharing…
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

I have no pictures of my father touching me or actually showing any kind of kindness towards me – I guess because it never happened. However, I have seen a picture of him at his mother’s home which was taken when I was about 6-7. In it, he is holding my female cousin on his lap and reading a book to her – she was about 4-5. That picture infuriates me. It certainly shows he had the capacity to at least have the appearance of a loving father. But then again, he wanted me to be a girl (I was the 3rd of 3 boys), so I guess his disdain for me prevented him from sharing those kinds of moments with me.

And yes, objectified – my therapist asked me once how I felt that my father viewed me growing up. I told him I felt like I was his possession rather than his son. Just like his lawnmower or hammer. And like he yelled at them if they wouldn’t start or bent a nail, the same with me if I didn’t “perform” as expected. I’m still struggling to throw off the feeling that I need to somehow measure up to his standards, even though he is an old, sick man now.


Susa, before I read any of the comments following yours I want to say that my heart goes out to you! You describe so very well the quiet desperation of the child who doesn’t live up to the expectations of the parent(s), and who keeps trying but never gets any appreciation. What a sad, sad situation for a small, powerless, lonely child who only wants to be accepted. I admire you so much for your pluck and stamina; for processing all that negative garbage, and for living and writing about it and enriching us all with your post.
Much love to you,


Darlene!!! I have to admit to feeling like a little kid, waving my hands around—you missed me, you missed me… my comments up at the top! 😉 Haha…. I’ve often thought to myself about you, “this woman is crazy” —in the most wonderful way, of course. All the comments you get on your website on a daily basis and the dedication you have to read and respond is remarkable. You’re one of a kind.

I think this subject of being seen is really at the crux. To know that you even exist and that your existence matters. When you’re not seen, you don’t even know YOU exist. It’s like you just disappear without people to see you, and their version becomes you. When we are so invested in getting their validation, how much is it really about trying to materialize ourselves, as though we can’t be/become ourselves without them seeing us…. I know it’s a crucial part of (child) development, to be seen and responded to, (adult development, too, for that matter). It’s really like a vacuum, though, when you try to get their validation. You show them your heart, try to bring it in close to them (because it’s the only hope for real relationship and real love, which you crave), but the more you bring, the more you show, the more you try, the more you get sucked into this nothingness where YOU cannot exist because it’s really like nothing exists there, just that vacuum. People are shells there; they have their quirks and distinguishable character traits and behaviours, both good and bad, but it’s almost as though they aren’t real people, so driven by need and impulse or, conversely control or regulation, it has swallowed whoever they really are or could be (whether you’re a victim—still in the system—or an abuser, I think that stands true). You can’t find yourself there, as much as it seems like that’s where you should find yourself. YOu have to get out of there, whatever that means, however you find your way.


I’m really interested in the whole clothes thing. I have real anxieties about clothes. I don’t want to look “too good”, I wear toned down stuff that keeps me neatly in the background. I haven’t really been able to address the discomfort about clothing myself but there’s a bunch of stuff there. I do remember fighting with my mother about clothes so often. Usually about what I should be wearing to places where I would be seen (church, grand-parents, relatives she wanted to impress). Or what coat to get. I guess if you have to get slapped to get you into more “formal” wear then such a thing becomes a source of anxiety. A trigger? Maybe dressing down feels comfortable because it isn’t accompanied by slaps and screeching? I would love to wear nicer things but I get so anxious it doesn’t seem worth it. I feel (paradoxically given this discussion on being seen) too visible. Most of my everyday clothes came from my cousin as handmedowns.


There is a picture like that of my mother with a cousin that infuriates me, as well. They’re both laughing and it looks like my mother is tickling her. When she tickled me, she tickled me until I cried. Then sang that nobody loves me rhyme. There are no pictures of her and I in the same frame even remotely enjoying each other’s company.
She also adored my half brother (who also happened to be blond, like the cousin, which I am not). I was so jealous of him.
I think that’s what they do. Proliferate jealousy and competition. A therapist once told me that love is unlimited, there is enough of it to go around for everyone. But dysfunctional people believe it is limited and compete for it.
I also try to be faded into the background. It’s funny, just today I painted my fingernails. I was going to paint my toe nails, but ended up putting some tea tree oil treatment on them instead. I had all the nail polish out, and decided to just play around with it. I thought I would just wash it off. I thought about how I’ve always thought painting one’s fingernails was garish and unnecessary. I thought about how silly that was. I enjoyed painting my nails and using it as a creative outlet and I decided to leave it. That I don’t have to be afraid of attracting attention (I made them look like faux stone with blues, lavendars, and plum colors). I decided if people didn’t like it, they don’t have to look. And I like the way it looks. =) A step in the more authentic direction.


Hi Darlene,

Here is the link to the video/art that goes with the writing that I posted earlier:

Thank you for writing this blog post… it was very insightful for me.


I forgot to include a *trigger warning* for some of the paintings in the art video link I posted above.

“The final music selection is “Waltz of the Flowers” by Tchaikovsky. I initially avoided this choice, but we kept coming back to it for some odd reason. Now, I know why. This classical piece does not seem to fit, and sounds as if it is diametrically opposed to the mood of the art, but in reality, this is not so. When this art was finished, it was apparent that this video is about something much different. It is about more than the paintings.”


I have looked back at the photo’s that were taken of our ‘family’. I never really looked happy. I cannot seem to find one single picture where I am smiling. There are tons of pictures of my siblings. Pictures of all kinds of things. Pictures of them graduating, their fun times, their experiences. In the pictures of me, I am so sad looking. I remember once driving home from the airport with my mother. She got onto this tangent of attractiveness. She said aloud, “Your sister Jane is the prettiest, and Mary would be pretty too, if only she stopped doing that Hippie shit.” I sat there looking out of the window, waiting to see what she would say next, waiting to see if she was going to say something about me. She said nothing. I really think she expected me to add to her conversation about my sister’s appearances. In my family, because of my birth defect, I am not talked about. Whenever I have asked for help, I am either told, that I am feeling sorry for myself, or “You think you have problems!??” My elephant in the room was never addressed. My mum has even told me that when I was born, she didn’t come to see me for 3 days. She was too ‘in shock’. In the end, it was my grandparents that convinced her to touch, see, bond with me. In all honesty I never really bonded to her. I bonded with my grandparents. They loved me unconditionally. No wonder I hated taking pictures. And she didn’t display them either.

My stepdad, well, that’s another story. He really didn’t take many pictures of me. And any of the pictures that his mother, my grandmother had, she sent them and my art work, back to me. The day I had told my stepdad that I was no longer going to accept 100% of the blame for our failed relationship, is the day all anything about me was mailed back to my address. To this day, her house is filled with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I am no where to be seen. Such a wonderful family. And my sisters don’t see that there is a problem. Screwed up family.


That story is just like mine! Brings years to my eyes. I constantly think, will I ever matter??


Hi Yvonne
I think I have similar gifts. Great comments, thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Hi Eddie
The more I think about it, the more I realize that there are no pictures with me and my parents after the age of 3 that I can remember ever seeing. I have 2 pictures with my father that were taken with MY camera when I was about 13. My idea and totally posed for. I don’t remember any with my mother. And there are few pictures of ANY kind after we were out of toddlerhood. Guess we weren’t cute anymore. :/
I totally understand why the picture of your dad with your cousin gets to you. My father was so interested and invested in my brothers sports teams.. but he never noticed me. That is the memory that I have; that I was always fighting for him to notice me. This stuff is heart breaking.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Alaina!
Not only did I not answer your comment, I didn’t see it at all. (it happens often and sometimes I actually get mail through the comment form from ppl. accusing me of ‘picking favorites!’ haha)

Love your comments and I agree, being seen a huge part of this ~ the longing for connection and to be seen for who we are is the ultimate validation and when our own parents don’t do it, well……. here we are. This is such a huge area!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


An interesting picture observation my brother noticed when we were looking at old Christmas photos of our family when us kids were in our preteen/ teen years. There were two photos of the family posed on the living room couch. In the first one no one was smiling; no one seemed to be enjoying the day. Then in the second one taken moments later the entire family was smiling. My brother said that my father must have been unhappy with the unsmiling first picture and ordered us to smile for the second one, which we did. That photo session was quite a truth leak, as Darlene would call it!


Hi Margie
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
You matter now. It isn’t them that makes you matter!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene, Thank you for sharing this dream. I guess we will always long to be seen by our parents but they are emotionally, blind and deaf and most likely, will never know their children for the unique individuals we are. What a tragedy! What a gift they have chosen to deny! Instead of the warmth of relationship, they choose instead to chase the material, even to the point of objectifying those they should learn to love. What isolation they have chosen for themselves! They are chasing the wind and ignoring the true meaning of life by refusing to love others as equals and instead, seeking the cold, fleeting love of admiration. All of this could have destroyed you, Darlene. It nearly did and it nearly destroyed me, too but you and I are walking another path, the path of unconditional love. That kind of love rejoices in truth and is freely given and then also, received. It is not self-centered but other-centered. It is the result of respect for self and all others and it never denies the humanness and unique value of another.

I love you, Darlene and sleep well because your purpose is not diminished by your parents blindness. You have overcome their evil with good and have become a force for good that is hard for even, the blind to deny.



Hi Susa
Thanks for sharing the link ~ wow that is some powerful work you have there! Very deep and thought provoking. (and you are very talented too!)
hugs, Darlene

Hi Raven
OMGOSH! it took her three days to see you! That is horrible and even that you have been told this story is horrible! What could possibly motivate someone to tell a child that story?
Thanks for sharing, glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam!
YES ~ what isolation they have chosen for themselves! ~ that is exactly right.
Thanks for your comments Pam! I feel good about my purpose. I feel good in general!
Love and hugs, Darlene


Jamie, toenail polish (and the occasional manicure:)) are my secret amusements:). And the other crazy thing is I love nice clothes! Just can’t wear them much. I have so little insight into this part compared with other aspects of it.


Darlene, I know, sweetie.:0) I just wanted to let you know that I see you. I know your heart through all of your many words and though I have been helped by those words, I see the person behind them and I love you simply, because you are in the world. Your parent’s loss is my great gain.


Boy, can I relate to this. (Gotta wade through 69 posts to comment).

But anyway, all my life, my mom would make assumptions about what I “should” want. And she would be oh so upset if I didn’t want what I was supposed to want.

I once had a conversation with Mom where she said she grew up under “children should be seen and not heard.”

And, I have never ever heard her say that she loved her own mother. She referred to anything (being there for Grandma when she had cancer) as being “her duty.” I think she had this “duty” sense and now she is upset because her children don’t feel this “duty” thing that she had to do to her own mom. It’s like she is wanting “payback.”

In family pictures, I always stood in a way as to set myself apart. Nothing was ever said about this.

As a child, when I went to summer camp, or spend a week with cousins, I hated coming back home. When I was at summer camp, or with the cousins, I had a sense of “me.” But when I had to go back home it was back to the “pretend” life.

Mom does not “get” that people don’t hear the same message she sent. SHeesh, there are mass training courses on this! Mom thinks if she said what she said then we heard what she said, never mind that we may had a different interpretation of it.

ok, gotta wade through the comments.


Jaimie: On birthdays. I told my mom I did not want any sort of party when I turned 50. She said, “But you HAVE to have a party.” Me: “Why?” Her: “Because we want to give you a party.” Me: “Who is the party for?” Her: “It’s for you.” Me: “How can it be FOR me when I’m telling you I DON’T WANT ONE?????” She got the message.

FireAndIce: I’m in my late 50’s, and I’m just now figuring out what I actually FEEL. I have faked it for so long.

April: I cannot believe parents who expect their kids to live in an X mile radius. Not allowed to move far away. My parents didn’t stop me from moving far away when I got a job far away.

Pictures were so important to my mom, that now I have a battle of wills to stay out of the picture. I once told mom that she isn’t taking a picture, she is more putting out an image to the world of what she wants the world to see. That didn’t resonate well with her.

I tossed all my pictures of me as a child. Not interested in seeing them. Don’t miss them. Mom made scrapbooks for my siblings, but I told her not to make one for me. My siblings got angry that I wouldn’t let her make one for me. I just said, “I wouldn’t appreciate it and would just toss it.”

Jamie: The script. Oh yes. Don’t go off script. And the “I know you I’m your mother.” NOpe, she does not KNOW me. She only knows the person she wants me to be. (I call her BLANCHE).

Alice: Yes, mom has never said to my face she was proud. “Oh, but I tell other people all the time.” Ok, why don’t I get to hear it?

Eli G: Mediteranean skin is lovely! I’m envious!

My mom could not buy clothes for me. She alway bought what I call “Blanche” (that “other” person) clothes. What she wanted me to be.

Yvonne: One time I had a co-worker who had beautiful suits. She said her mom bought them for her. I had to go to the Ladies room and cry.

Mom went to all my concerts and stuff. (I was in music). But what she didn’t understand is that I DIDN’T want her there. That was “standard” stuff that other kids did. I wanted her to appreciate other things, like the way I liked to read the encyclopedia, my interest in astronomy, etc. Nope, those weren’t “showoff” things that other people would see. Thus, she couldn’t be proud of me for those.

It seems like we all have polar opposite issues with the picture thing.

A. The photos were taken to put out an image to the world that wasn’t true


B. we were excluded from the photos as though we didn’t exist.

I’m in the A. category. That’s why I hate having photos taken of me.


Thank you Darlene, Elsie, and Amber.

Elsie, it is frightening, and very disorienting, but sadly this mocking of me and my feelings penetrated every part of our relationship. I was the family scapegoat and viewed as simply a joke, which was really brutal to have to live with.

Amber, I also didn’t get year books in junior high/ high school (my parents always insisted “you have no friends!” so I guess according to them I wouldn’t have any use for such a thing) and went without field trips that cost money or adequate clothing to wear to school… My parents never cared about me very much, but there was this unspoken and sudden withdrawal when I was 13, as if I wasn’t worth it (anything) anymore. I was also silenced by their abuse, and afraid to ask for anything because I was yelled at all the time and made out to be a burden. But of course my mother loved that she had shut me down, she loved that I was selectively mute so she could use that as an excuse to get away with ignoring me, as if she wasn’t the parent anymore.

I’m sorry that you experienced such willful neglect and exclusion at the hands of your mother. I know what that’s like, to be painted as less then everyone else. Good for you in getting those copies of your school pictures back and viewing them through new eyes. I also find it’s so powerful to realize how those messages from my parents were lies and take my truth/life back.


In tears reading this. I still struggle with my upbringing. Still trapped in the “do what mom and dad say so they love you ” and I’m 28. Its as if you were writing this for me. My dad was very into politics (village treasurer, mayor fir three terns, highway superintendent) I was merely a babysitter for him. Mom was too…I don’t even know. Its jist like she saw what was going on but didn’t care. This has really touched me


One of the hardest hurdles for me to jump is that it is about me. It is about me accepting me. It is so hard to let go of the idea that my healing is attached to getting them to see what they have done and getting them to change.

In my last therapy session I lamented that I feel like I have given in. I feel like now that I have stopped insisting on confronting, challenging and asserting my worthiness, I am letting them just believe that they were and are right.

The thing is that everything I have ever done to defend myself always just gets inserted into their paradigm about me. Nothing ever really changes no matter how much I fight.

My therapist is helping me reframe this from my idea that letting go is letting them win to the idea that it is me being strong and making their ideas about me be about them, not me. It is my first streak of pure independence, where I can separate myself, my worth, from their opinions.

I won’t lie, I am in my late 40’s and this is scary!!!!! I distinctly remember trying to assert my independence in my 20’s, I only wish I knew then half of what I know now!!!!!

I’m learning how to make decisions on my own now. I am learning how to trust myself. I’m learning how to be good to myself.

I’m also experiencing immense grief and loss. I truly believed that I. I was a lost cause, dependent upon the goodwill of those greater than I. I loved them with all of my heart. I would have died for any one of them.

I think part of me did die to save my Mom and sister from the second monster my Mom married. Sometimes I wish I had not been such a soft person and that I would have been that juvenile in the news who took out the abusive parent with a kitchen knife.

Learning how to separate myself from them is such a huge obstacle. I don’t know anything other than offering myself up for their judgment. I’ve spent my whole life in a struggle to prove myself worthy to them, trying to fix myself because they told me there was something wrong with me. It is uncharted territory to consider a me outside of their me.


I was the child regarded as the family failure. Everyday, I was so used to searing insults that it became my identity. Being called “fat” when I was 5’4″ and 116 pounds, ugly,lazy, troublesome, exaggerating, lying. I really empathize with the person (can’t find the thread) who said that their mother said, “but I defend you” when in actuality, Mom was the ringleader. Once I just straight out asked her, “Who is talking about me badly…who is criticising me that you are having to DEFEND me?” She blamed two family friends, Kathy and Linda. A few years I said something about Kathy and Linda, how everyone likes them, and how sad I felt that they didn’t like me. My mom was like, “Kathy and Linda like EVERYONE why wouldn’t they like you?” and I reminded her of her telling me that she had told me that they often crticized me and that she had to defend me.

That was an “aha” moment. It’s likely Kathy and Linda never criticized me at all, and it was something my mom made up to keep me in line. All these years I have felt embarrassed and ashamed in front of them, thinking they didn’t like me.

How evil it was of her to do this to me.

She has two flying monkeys, my sisters who pretty much do the same to me, and they try to get their digs in if we have any mutual acquaitences. They cannot bear to see me successful or with any friends who might enjoy or appreciate me.

My husband might be transferred to another state and part of me hopes it will happen and that I will be able to get away from them.


Hi Eira,
I relate to being regarded as the family failure.A few years ago,i had a great relationship with my married sister.My mother hated that bond and she did everything in her power to separate us.Back then,i used to visit my sister a lot.I made the huge mistake to tell my mother where i was going.When i returned home from my sister’s house,my mother used to tell me:”You are so naive,laura.Your sister does not love you.Don’t you know that she calls me when you are out in town to tell me that you were horribly dressed and how could i let you get out of the house in those clothes?”

If it wasn’t about the clothes,than it was my too red lipstick or whatever reason she could find.I never dared to ask my sister if my mother’s words were true,if she actually said those things about me.Those remarks affected not only my bond with my sister.It made me suspicious to every act of kindness coming from people in general.I always wonder if they are genuine.What are they talking behind my back?What are they really thinking about me?If my own sister was so kind when i visited her and afterwards i found out that was a lie,then what sincerity could i expect from strangers?

And that’s not the only negative effect.My bond with my sister is now broken.My mother succeeded in her evil tactics.Now my mother asks me:”Why are you so cold and distant towards your sister? Why don’t you 2 talk to each other? When i’m dead,you’ll need her to take care of you.”That’s double hurt.She’s implying that,after her death,i will not be able to survive on my own.I feel humiliated.Even if that were true,which i’m sure is not,why should i use my sister,instead of love her?

Eira,insults are always abusers identity.Your true identity is SURVIVOR.Be proud of it.”I defend you”.That sounds your abuser is playing good cop/bad cop.The tormentor put on the mask of rescuer.You were brave to confront your mother and put her face to face with the truth.I can’t do that due to violent reactions and immediate danger to me.At least now i know the truth.When my sister is willing to wake up and open her eyes,maybe our bond will be repaired.


At least I know I am not crazy anymore. I lived with NM in my twenties and she would not talk to me for days on end. No good morning, how are you, how was your day. Just silence. I never recognized that as emotional abuse until just recently no wonder I was so angry for so long. It all makes sense now


Eira: 5’4″ and 116 is FAT? I weighed 110 and was 5’4″ as a teen. I don’t see how you could be fat or even plump.


116 sounds perfect for 5’4! Eira, it sounds like gas lighting to me. You are fine just the way you are.

Laura, I recognize the divide and conquer tactic a mile away. I think some people feel threatened when others have a bond and they try to destroy it. They play one person against the other. My mother did this, and I have a vicious neighbor who causes a lot of conflict on our block, but most people are smart enough to see through her. The Queen only has one Fool that doesn’t dare cross her because she must know deep down inside that she will face dire consequences if she does.

There are days that I just like to shut my door and close out the world of dysfunctional people, especially women. Their cattiness and demeaning behavior reminds me too much of my mother. But I’m also realizing that there are some really nice people out there, and I don’t want to be too jaded by my mothers actions. I would miss out on some really great relationships if I did that. The answer is to learn to filter out the bad apples and keep the good ones.


Hi Bethany
Welcome to EFB ~ Sounds like you have found the right blog!
Glad you are here.
hugs, Darlene

Funny you mention the “duty” word; I have been thinking about that expression lately, I might write a post about it. My mother in law used that expression in a very odd way and it puts a whole other spin on the concept of “obligation”
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Kaycee
I totally understand what you are expressing here! That is why I so often refer to this whole thing as ‘brainwashing’. We are convinced that because they defined us an unworthy, that they are the only ones that can define us as worthy.
I also felt like when I stopped engaging with them that I was giving in. In time that went away as I turned from focusing on them to focusing on me. Awesome comments!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Eira
Yes, this is exactly how it all works. When I took a step back I really saw what was going on ~ I actually saw the extreme dysfunction first in the way that my mother and her sisters are. The more I came out of the fog, the more I saw that she was like that with me too.
Thanks for your comments.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Melissa
Welcome to EFB ~ No you are certainly not crazy! Glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


I am always looking at my family situation in new ways. The situation doesn’t change, but new perspectives help me understand why I feel the way I do and validate the ways I’ve responded.

I said earlier in this thread (I think it was this one) that I feel like my family wants a cardboard cutout that looks like me to be a part of them, not me as a person.

I’ve asked myself a lot where that feeling came from, what words or behaviors brought me to that conclusion. Part of the reason I ask that so often is because I was frequently told that I misinterpret everything and take things the wrong way and once I’ve done that no one can say anything that makes it right again because I get over emotional and stubborn.

At this point, I’ve determined that the whole “you misinterpret everything” is bull. It’s a way of avoiding responsibility for their own bad behavior or a way of covering up lies. That provided a clearer understanding of my family’s dysfunction right there.

More recently the sense that I really DON’T EXIST in their “world” has become overwhelming. And while I’ve stopped engaging with almost all of them by now, I still deal with the tug of wishing that they’d miss me enough to look at themselves and wonder why I’m not there anymore.

The thought of trying to engage with any of them again has begun to feel like stepping into another dimension that I’ve lost the power to access. I know that if I stand in front of them or say something to them, they won’t see or hear ME. They will see something that doesn’t fit in the space they assigned me, and the only responses will be either that I’m ignored or they will be offended.

There is no place for relationship of any kind. I can’t play my part and they won’t deal with me if I don’t play my part.

Many years ago, after I’d first opened up to a therapist about being sexually abused by the guy everyone saw as my boyfriend through high school, the therapist insisted I disclose this to my family – the whole stinkin’ lot of them. “So I would see that they would have helped you and supported you…” said the idiot therapist.

A few days later, my mom called, probably in a drunken rage to tell me that I was a liar making excuses for being such an awful kid. She has occasionally brought up my “claim to have been raped” over the years without ever really making it clear whether she believes me or not.

When the emotional memories of having been molested as a 5 year old returned about a year ago (I’m now 58 years old), she called me in the middle of a crying jag I couldn’t stop and insisted to know what that was about. So in spite of having no intention of EVER telling her what had happened, the story came spilling out. To my shock, her initial reaction was sympathetic, and my immediate concern was that I didn’t come across as blaming her.

Within a couple of months, even though I told her that I wanted to tell my brother & sister in my own time and own way, she told THEM her version of my story. And I don’t know how they actually reacted except that neither of them have talked to me since, and my mother won’t touch the subject.

I was supposed to go on vacation with the whole family a week after her disclosure, but I was asked not to join them because I was too upset and in a later point in the conversation mom admitted that my bad mood would spoil their vacation.

My mom tried to keep talking with me as long as I didn’t say anything about anything bad that might be going on in my present life or my efforts to deal with traumatic memories until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Disclosing the abuse I’d experienced as a child left me so vulnerable and the way the initial compassion was withdrawn, and having NO response at all from my siblings, and eventually, my oldest daughter was simply angry at me for having to know such a thing.

How am I to act when I know that EVERYONE KNOWS that there is an ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, and it’s me, expected to look like anything except an elephant that they refuse to acknowledge?

Looking through this configuration of events. I never existed in my mother’s world and therefore the rest of my family’s world. Trying to live there feels like dying.



Oh my gosh! (to all of this horror starting right with the dumb therapist who told you to disclose! yikes)
To address your question ~ the elephant in the room is NOT you. The elephant is the dysfunctional reactions to what happened to you! It sounds like they are ‘rejecting you’ into shutting up about it? (total abuse tactic)
Again, Oh my gosh! My heart goes out to you with a million hugs!


Yeah – that’s the part that makes my head spin – they don’t see that they’re rejecting me.

I think I’m about to fall out of the “it’s not that bad” box.


I think this website is fantastic and Darlene, you are amazing! I have read the book and love it! I need to get it to a few more people, too!

I have a question for all of you. I think I am seeing this kind of abuse happening with my step granddaughters. They are going on 3 years old now and I am so worried that this is exactly what is going on for them. They are adopted, which I think makes them especially vulnerable to some of these feelings. From day one, the parents have not let them have feelings. The adoptive parents got the girls at birth basically. One was with her birth mother while in the hospital.

So, what I want to know from you all, is am I seeing this correctly as abuse? I definitely feel it is, but the parents think they are raising them in the “biblical” way.

Here are the things I find disturbing: At about a week old, the “father” ( I use the term loosely with him ) was saying to the baby, “that’s enough and said her name with a sharp disapproving tone of voice when she was crying because she was HUNGRY! This happened all the time. They do not allow the girls to have any feelings whatsoever in my opinion. The parents don’t want to hear crying or whining AT ALL! They just want immediate, unquestioning OBEDIENCE, at all costs. They are like obsessed with manners and demand that the girls at 1 year and older, ALWAYS say “may I please have a drink” and “thank you” and “yes, grandma” “yes, ma’am” etc. They must say these things EVERY time they want something or an adult asks the children to do something. Of course, the parents don’t talk like this, nor are they expected to behave perfectly like the children are expected to do.

The adoptive mom has not really bonded with one of the girls especially. When she was under a year old, the mom held her against her will for an hour “so they would bond”. The baby girl was crying and fighting to get away the entire time. She eventually gave up, exhausted I am guessing. The mom thinks she “won”. This girl was also at barely ONE year old punished for three hours straight because she wouldn’t do sign language to say “all done” when she was finished eating. For three hours, the mom took her out of her high chair and said “you MUST obey me” and spanked her, then put her back in the high chair. She repeatedly did this for three hours! I was not there when it happened, but the mom was bragging about how she “won” this one and how “she knew what she was doing” (the BABY that wasn’t doing the sign on demand). It is so bizarre to me that these adults think that a one year old child is manipulating and doing things just to make the adults mad.

I have seen both girls during play act out being spanked and saying to their dolls “you MUST obey me”.

I have said more than once, it is like the parents don’t understand that these girls are PEOPLE! So many, many times, I have wanted to say to the adoptive father, “you do know they are human, right?”

It eats away at me all the time how these girls are being treated. I feel like they are well on their way to feeling not good enough and having to deal with the trauma of all of this when they get old enough to get out of that home.

It breaks my heart. I wish I was wrong about this, but I am afraid I am not. Is this abuse?

I do my best to love those girls when I can. They know that grandma will hold them and console them and talk about feelings. I think it is hard on the parents because the girls come to me when they are upset and hug me and kiss me without it being demanded of them. They do not do those things with either of their parents. They are not even excited when their parents get home from work or whatever. I have always hated it when parents force their children to give hugs or kisses out. Maybe they don’t want to. I always said, “that’s ok, you don’t have to”. After some time, the children willingly on their own will hug or kiss me, which I love!

Any advice? Comments? It is hard for me to watch and be around this, especially since I married the grandpa. I am an outsider.


Stepgrandma, this IS abuse, no doubt about it.


Hi step grandma. My heart aches for those poor little girls. There are so many things wrong from what you are describing. First of all, the unrealistic expectations for these very young girls. They have been told to do many things that they are not developmentally ready for yet. How is a one year old supposed to be doing sign language? And then to confine the child to the high chair for three hours?? I got so mad reading this. It is so abusive! Then they say they are raising the kids the “biblical way”. I see it as their sick interpretation of the biblical way to fit into their own needs and it is very harmful to these children. They are demanding manners from the kids yet they are not modeling the behavior that they want. Very hypocritical. In addition to all the emotional abuse, they are physically abusing these poor babies too. And you can’t force affection and bonding . I can certainly understand why these children don’t want to give kisses to the “parents” and why they aren’t bonding with the ” parents”. They give their affection freely to you because they can sense that you love them. I’m glad there is someone who can offer some love and stability to their lives. I’m going on and on here because I am so upset by this. I taught children who were three and four years old so I am especially tuned in to, and have very protective feelings towards these young kids. During the time I worked with these kids I intervened several times when there were abusive situations at home. I hope someone will advocate for these little girls. They deserve to be in an environment where they are loved and respected and can feel free to feel their feelings.


I appreciate the feedback. I agree that it is abuse. The mom learned in an innocent series of events that I think they are abusive. She never asked what I thought was abusive. She was very hurt that I thought that, yet proceeded to analyze MY life and what MY problems were. The girls were not really mentioned in her response to me via email…………because they don’t really matter, do they? It is all about what the parents want from the children. I am glad to have my gut instincts validated, but am so sad that I can’t really do anything other than love them. It is too hard to prove emotional abuse and they are “just spanking” which doesn’t leave bruises.

I will continue to love those precious girls and support them in all of the ways that I can. I am thankful that they did not ban me from seeing them after it came out that I think they are abusive. That was a big fear of mine, that I would not be allowed to see the girls and I agree that they need someone to actually love them.

Thank you for your support and any advice is welcome. It made me want to vomit when she said they were good with God and raising their children biblically. I am a Christian and that is not the God I know!


Stepgrandma, , such is the way with abusive people. They seem to think they are perfect and always right. And if anyone dares to criticize them they go into a rage. Or they play the victim like the ” mother” of those two little girls did. She played the hurt victim and then deflected the real issue, which is her abusive behavior towards those girls by turning the spotlight on to you. Interesting too that she was hurt that you thought they are abusive, but wasn’t interested in what behaviors you thought are abusive. Her concern was with herself.

I really feel for those little girls, and as I said before, I hope someone will intervene before additional damage is done. Just curious where your husband stands on all of this, being that he is the grandpa.

Again, with the biblical thing, I find it very disturbing when people interpret the bible in a twisted way in order to meet their own selfish desires.


The sad thing, Stepgrandma, is soon they will be pitting one of the children against the other(s) in a raise to gain their parents’ approval. They will have at least one golden child who will do no wrong and at least one scapegoated child who can do no right. Both the golden child and the scapegoated one will be damaged but in different ways. I think most of us here on this blog are scapegoated adult children who are trying to reject the identity that their parents and their enablers imposed on them.

The role you are playing is as an “enlightened witness” and you can be there for these children in the most profound way. The great thing is that sometimes even a person who doesn’t have to have a major role to have a great impact on the child.

When I first wound up in therapy over the scapegoating/narcicisstic abuse I was about 30. My therapist said she was amazed that with the level of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse and scapegoating I had not turned out to be a truly wayward daughter. I had never used drugs, drank, remained a virgin until my early 20s, and was a “good girl” yet in my home, all kinds of suspicions clouded over me on my conduct. I was considered “bad” and immoral.

I had a couple of these enlightened witnesses, and one was just a lady who lived near my grandma who I visited a few timess since she had kids my age. She said the most wonderful things to me about myself, complimented me, was so entirely positive to me that even now I cry thinking about her. Everytime Karen said something nice I wanted to turn around to see who was behind me. I was not used to anyone saying nice things to me. I was used to hearing a whole laundry list of all the things that were wrong with me. I was so used to the family abuse and being scorned and laughed at I had a dejected and frightened air about me that I attracted more bullying and abuse from people outside the family too. I even remember the DAY the abuse began at home and I became the family scapegoat, and it started when I was 7 years after a traumatic series of events that happened in my family and because of my mother’s inability to cope with them. I used to look forward to my visits with Karen who called me “her other daughter” and I have no idea why she loved me but she did. Maybe it was this shred of confidence that someone found me worthy that saved me from suicide, drug addiction, or other tragedy. I only WISH I had had the courage to leave my FOO 20 years ago because it is like I have been reborn in the last 5 since I went low contact.

So Stepgrandma, don’t think that you cannot “save” them because you already are saving them.


Thank you sooo much! I teared up reading your post. Thank you for sharing your heart with me.

I already know which child will be the scapegoat, unfortunately. I feel so drawn to her. She is just the most adorable, sweetest thing, ever. She is absolutely gorgeous, too. Her sister is more “fun” and it is so obvious that the parents like her more. It is like one of them is the dud child. That breaks my heart, too.

Thank you.


Fair question asking about my husband. He is torn, I am certain. It is hard on him that it is his daughter that I think is abusive. He doesn’t see parenting the same way I do, so unfortunately, he leans more towards their style. But, he does see the problems, but says they are not our children to raise, we are not those little girls’ parents. He doesn’t see it as abuse like I do, but does see problems. He has talked with his daughter about some of them. Of course, she just lets it go in one ear and out the other! SHE knows best and is doing it “God’s way”. BARF!!!!

He did comment to me one day that the girls seemed happier when they were with us, than when they are with their parents. Sad, but true. We got to keep them for over a week while their parents went on a vacation. We had a BLAST!!! It was so much fun. There were almost no tears until I said that we were going to meet mommy and daddy at the airport later. Then, one of them cried and the sister let her cry without saying anything to her like “that’s enough!”. It was like they both knew things were going to change back to their parents’ ways.

My husband and I could not have raised children together! Our philosophies are polar opposites most of the time. Thankfully, he doesn’t criticize my methods with the children. He may think they are ridiculous and all “lovey dovey”, but I think he sees how the children respond to me. We have had many conversations about this situation, believe me!

It is so interesting (frustrating) to me that so many people think that there is no “middle ground” with parenting. Either you are authoritarian or you let your kids to whatever they want! There is soooo much besides those two extremes! Like love, for instance!

Thanks everyone for the comments and support. I am so thankful Darlene has written this book and has this incredible website to help so many people, myself included!!


Step Grandma,
I’m not sure if this is something you would want to directly forward to your step kids now or maybe at a later date concerning biblical interpretations of parenting, but this lady is a great resource about gentle parenting, in general. She has some good posts on what she considers to be a misinterpretation of the bible concerning spanking (she does happen to be a Christian). Here is one of them:
In this one, she looks at the original meanings of the Hebrew words used in some of the passages that have been interpreted to mean Christians are supposed to hit their children:


Step Grandma,
As someone who has struggled to figure out how to parent my children in a more gentle way, one of my motivations was how terrible I felt when I would loose it on them. Even when I had my head on “straight” and was trying to “control” them (Ha, I think you really do have to be a little psychotic to “control” anyone, let alone children)… it felt horrible to be inflexible, to not acknowledge them (developmentally, emotionally, intellectually). Maybe if you approach your step kids with questions like, “How does it feel to YOU when you treat your children that way?” They may not volunteer that it feels bad, they may even be defensive, but they might think about it later. They might find (hopefully) on quiet examination that it really doesn’t feel good or right. I think we’re all just working with what we have been taught, and it takes a moment of clarity, of acknowledging our own pain before we can change the way we treat others. Compassion starts when learn to have it for ourselves. Good luck!


I want this book, but for some reason it’s not letting me in to download it.


Hi Jeffry
You missed a step in the process ~ I will send you an inbox email to tell you what to do next.
hugs, Darlene


Welcome to EFB ~ this is a really difficult situation, not an easy answer one, but there are really great government definitions of abuse, and perhaps that may make things more clear to the parents. If you take some of my examples of what happened to me (you mentioned that you have my book) and express the results of that treatment and discounting of my choice etc. that might shed some light too.
Hugs, Darlene


Amber ~ love your comments here to Stepgrandma. (and thanks to the others who are commenting as well and Jamie for sending the links)
hugs, Darlene


I was the youngest of five in my family. The oldest brother was 14 when I was born, second brother 12, sister 10 and next sister 3 when I was born. There are very few pictures of me when I was little but the one that stood out the most to me was when I was 2 (52 years ago). It’s a picture of me with my neglectful, passive abusive father sitting in a recliner together. I was tucked in the right side of the chair very close to my father sound to sleep. My mom explained that I hardly saw my dad because he worked all the time (workaholic) at night as a taxi driver. When he changed to a day job, he was home more and apparently I was terrified of him. She said she had to MAKE ME sit next to him so I would get USED to him again and that I had screamed and cried until I fell asleep next to him. To this day if I’m really stressed all I want to do is go hide and fall asleep. When I look at that picture I see my dad’s body language of him turned away from me with his back to me as I’m tucked into the corner of that chair. And I wonder why my mom decided to take a picture of us during that moment. It seemed as though she wanted to capture a relationship that didn’t exist in reality. You see, I was supposed to be a BOY when I was born. My dad only valued males. My 12 year old brother was the golden child to my dad. He got all of the attention, money, protection, etc. To my mother I was the “replacement child” for the one that she abandoned to the state when the baby was barely 1 year old when she had to flee her first husband who had schizophrenia. But I was supposed to be a boy.

I also hated having school pictures taken. The night before was an ordeal. Mom would tightly wind my hair into those old plastic curlers that made my head hurt all night and for days after. This doesn’t make sense to me since I had beautiful, thick wavy brunette hear. I hardly slept the night before because of the pain. If I protested I was told to be quiet. The morning of picture day I (and siblings) were admonished to “smile” or our parents would be very unhappy with us and we would “ruin” the picture. We were very poor and buying pictures was an extravagance but my mom insisted we get one. From Kindergarten on this ritual was performed every school year. To this day I hate having my picture taken and when someone wants to take my picture (work badges, etc.) I start to shake when they say “smile.” I cannot stop myself from shaking. I hold my breathe and then a wave of relief comes over me when it’s over. If anyone tries to take candid pictures of me I have an overwhelming urge to escape and will cover my face or turn away. Pictures have very negative connotations for me and I’ve always wondered why. I think too that the half sister (we were all “half and half”) 3 years older than I who was always emotionally and physically abusive to me (I was not protected from her by my parents) was so much prettier than I and would always tell me how ugly I was. I had a “big nose”, oily skin with pimples, “big ears”, etc. By the time I was a teen I believed I was the ugliest girl alive. But, when I look back at the few pictures of me I see that I was cute and sweet. They just made me FEEL ugly and invisible by their neglect and abandonment that continues even today.


Thanks everyone! The links were wonderful and I really appreciate the encouragement. Unfortunately, I have given some books to the mom to read, but she rejected them because they all “came from the same perspective” (translate as non-biblical). I am pretty sure she will not be open to any other “suggestions” or resources for parenting from me! Now that she knows I think she and her husband are abusive in general, she will not be open to any advice from me. I should now just consider myself lucky that they have allowed me to be in their home with their children because I have been a bad example for the girls because my body language shows my complete lack of respect for their father. (not a direct quote, but that is the gist of the message to me) The suggested solution to the whole problem is for me to change my body language and not let it show that I have any problem with their parenting style. That is so hard for me to do!! I don’t agree that it is the solution, but I also don’t want to be the one causing people to walk on eggshells around me, which is what I have been told I was doing.

At this time, all I can do is love those girls and be myself around them and show them that I care about them and how they feel about things. I want them to know that I love them no matter what. I want them to know that I will always be there for them.

Thank you so much, everyone!! This is such a wonderful community! I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO glad I found it!


Not sure which post to put this one. I’m watching an old show called the Patty Duke show. I know some of us are old enough to remember this show. I’m appalled at the interactions of the characters. I do remember in the 50’s and early 60’s, women were never allowed to be direct. Women had to talk in obfuscation to get what they wanted. And the Patty Duke show was obvious on this. Whenever Patty was scheming, she would make her boyfriend Richard be the bad person for questioning her odd behavior. And the actress herself had bi-polar disorder, doing this show probably didn’t help!

Even more contemporary shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, I’m appalled when I watch interactions on that show. Debra Barone makes Raymond be the bad person when she is the one with the issues. And having Marie Barone for his mother, manipulative lady, even worse. Robert Barone and Amy at least try to be honest, but they are outside looking in and they scratch their heads at Marie and Frank, and Robert and Debra.

The TV shows just perpetuate and condone the behavior we all complain about! Lordy!


From Hobie:

There is no place for relationship of any kind. I can’t play my part and they won’t deal with me if I don’t play my part.

It’s not you “can’t” play the part. You aren’t willing to play the part they want you to play. It’s not who you are. For me, it’s that I’m not willing to be the person my Mom wants me to be (the one I call “Blanche.”)


I have seen both girls during play act out being spanked and saying to their dolls “you MUST obey me”.

I can relate! Once as a kid, I was so upset at being spanked, I went and spanked my doll. And, I remember when I was about five, I was so upset about being spanked, I took a horsewhip and whipped our German Shepherd dog. The look in the dogs face after that horrified me. I vowed I would never do that again and ever since, I have loved animals!


DXS – it’s true that I’m unwilling, but it’s also true that I can’t. Aside from my own internal rebellion that feels insurmountable, there isn’t a clear picture of what they actually want! It actually is likely that they want me to fail so that they can feel that they’re better than I am. Being unwilling to be a part of their game is a very good thing!

Stepgrandma – I also remember “disciplining” my dolls, telling them they were bad and needed to be spanked daily just because. I’m not sure what you can do other than what you have done except to pray for those girls. Keep being someone in their lives that they can turn to and know they’re loved. You never know when you can make a difference in their lives.


Hi Lynne
Your comments touched me this morning. The messages that you got from the actions (and inactions) of the people who were supposed to be there for you, take care of you, protect you and love you, were clearly not loving messages. I can relate to feeling ugly and invisible by their neglect and abandonment. I am so glad you are here, and thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I smiled at your statement “I think I’m about to fall out of the “it’s not that bad” box” yay, applause and celebrations! It was so validating when I realized and told myself that it WAS that bad. That I wasn’t nuts, that I was not exaggerating. And knowing that if then never admitted it didn’t change anything was the beginning of real lasting freedom.
Hugs, Darlene


Lynne I can relate so well to the false beliefs of being ugly. I was told that many times by my mother and by my classmates. Looking back, the ” ugly” comments from my classmates didn’t start right away. They started when I was about eight or nine and this was around the time when my mother stopped caring about whether or not I was clean and my hair was brushed, and this was the time when she started dressing me in a way that stood out as odd. It is only recently that I realized that the ” ugly” my classmates were referring to was my unkempt appearance while my mother was referring to body and facial features. My classmates were wrong in being mean, but I give more of the blame to my mother. She had a choice in how she groomed and dressed me and she chose to keep me dirty and I attractively dressed while she always had her hair done and had so many clothes that she took some of my bureau space in my room to accommodate the overflow of clothing.
Seeing everyone else dressed nicely and groomed ( my mother and classmates) gave me the message that they deserved that but I didn’t. I tonight there was something wrong with me that made me unworthy and inferior. I felt ugly and often wondered if that was why no one seemed to like me. I was disparate for friends. Few people wanted to hang out with the class oddball. I was the only one in the class not invited to several birthday partes.
Yes, I blame my mother, first for defaming me and telling me vouch these times that I was ugly and then dressing me oddly and keeping me sloppy so I didn’t have a chance in the world of fitting in at school. It’s not like she didn’t know better about how a preteen should dress. She clearly saw how her friends daughters were dressed and my cousin who lived around the block was always clean and dressed nicely. She just didn’t give a crap about me, and I even fel she wanted me to look bad. She always wanted to be the prettiest and why give a daughter the chance to look good?
The ” ugly” thing has been very difficult for me to get past. When a boyfriend I had at fifteen told me I was beautiful, I thought he was crazy. But when the boyfriend I had at sixteen told me I was too skinny and had buck teeth I believed him. It’s so deeply ingrained that when I look at my face I focus on the little bump on my nose rather than my smile and my skin, which people have always complimented me on. Mom did quite a job on me because it is so hard for me to get past this all these years later.


Spellcheck disaster in my last message! I meant to say I was unattractively dressed, and that I thought something was wrong with me that made me unworthy and inferior. And that I blame my mother for demeaning me and telling me all these times that I was ugly.


There were three girls in a row in my family and I was the middle child, we are all 14 to 16 months apart. Even though I had apparently the most gorgeous hair in the famly, my mom grew my sisters’ hair long and gave me shorty-cuts. She even braided and put ponytails in their hair, little ribbons, etc. and left mine be. But when I look at photos prior to the scapegoating, I see she treated us the same, clothing and hair-wise. I was dolled up just as cute. The oldest sister got the new clothes, I got her hand-me-downs, and by the time the third sister came around the hand-me-downs were too worn and she got new clothes. I think my sisters began to see this as me not deserving newer things? Then as I got to be of age I started babysitting and doing other jobs, working at farms, etc. to earn my own money for clothing. The results were my mom would still buy the two sisters clothes and tell me I should use my earned money, which my sisters generally did not do. When I would wear my new clothes I bought with my own money my mom would admonish me for being “too trendy” and call me a “clothes-horse.” I could not win!

My mom called me today to tell me she is going into surgery for her knee and will be out tomorrow. She said she is scared she is going to die. Maybe that is why she called. I was already in the process of hanging up the phone when I think I heard her say, “I love you.” Now I wonder if she was calling because she felt guilty about the way she abused me and does not want it on her conscience before she dies. I will have to send her a message and tell her I love her back. I really feel it must be hard for an abuser when they “see” reality. Though I know once she recovers it will be time for her to go back into the denial again. However, as much as one can hope, I can never EVER go back to the little girl/adult woman begging for love, approval and respect. That Eira is dead. Or I should say, that Eira has simply been reborn.


Hi Stepgrandma and Amber,

So sorry for the girls’ treatment by their “parents”. You have just perfectly described a scene from my home when I was their age. These power and control issues begin right away as an infant and toddler. They can hide so well all their problems behind closed doors.

I realized that I have NEVER bonded with either one of my bio.parents and it’s not my fault. My earliest memories were being hit and beaten by my mother. I was an only child so she was able to get away with a lot when my father was at work. My father took his wife’s side and he only cared about watching his TV set and dinner. (I also have issues with my father beating me, but not as severe as his wife). I don’t know how society expects us to bond with these people and then blame the victim like, “you just don’t care about your elderly parent”…blah, blah, blah! I also realized that I felt like I was an orphan or being raised in a bad foster care home, and never as a loved or wanted daughter.

I don’t know the social services system well, but I have wondered why the system makes it so hard for kids to get what they want? They protect adults with money and power and not the kids. I always wished for the means to simply leave my FOO parents’ home and live with my only good relative. If I wanted to leave my parents (legally like a divorce) and my only good relative wanted me, then why not? It was never about money. My parents were both Narcs who only cared about their big luxury house and then my father getting a high paid job living abroad in a foreign country. If I had it my way, then I would have lived with my good relative and my parents could have signed a legal guardianship. I would have been raised in a small town in central Washington State, in a decent mobile home, but very happy and loved. My childhood and teen years would have been much more normal. But I was stuck with the luxury home near the beach in Seattle, and I was some kind of a prisoner.

My heart broke when I read the comments about being a little girl and taking it out on dolls. Don’t get me wrong, you do what you must to survive and I perfectly understand but it’s sad. I can remember not owning expensive dolls, but having a small collection of stuffed animals and Barbie dolls (my generation before Cabbage Patch and American Girl dolls). There were two particular stuffed animals (a pink bunny and a frog) which I viewed as my “family”. Everyday, I would talk lovingly to them and pretend that they understood and cared about me. I guess that made me their adopted “mom” and they were like two brothers. My dolls and I even had pretend Christmas holidays together, complete with a small fir tree branch from my backyard for a mini tree! When I got older, they were kept on my bed and even attended a girl’s school for a semester! When I moved to Arizona, I lost Bunny and I was actually depressed, like losing a beloved pet. It’s hard when the only real love in the FOO home came from animals and dolls. Mind you, I was such an excellent student and well behaved and certainly not crazy! But kids need someone or something to talk to and feel safe to express themself.

Many times I think of what I will feel when the day comes when each of my parents die. There is really nothing to mourn since we never had even a friendship. I am far from being a sociopath and have mourned friends’ deaths and my only good relative’s death. I want to believe that I will feel happy and finally free but I don’t know.


Re: #110 Eira, My response:

Sorry, I’m new to this so this is me responding to Eira above.
I know what you mean never really getting nice clothes of your own. Up until I was about 11 or 12 ALL I ever wore practically was hand-me-downs. Even some of my brothers clothes. Kids made a lot of fun of me. I also had to wear my next older sister’s clothes when she was done with them. Also, I remember my fourth grade teacher yelling at me because I wore the same tennis shoes for P.E. as my every day shoes. We were SUPPOSED to have separate shoes for P.E. I was so shy and humiliated I didn’t have it in me to tell her in front of all of my classmates that they were the only shoes I had. BUT, how could she NOT know!?? They were the only shoes I wore all of the time. She was the adult, couldn’t she put two and two together? The class picture of me that year reminds me of this every-time I look at it. There I am, in my siblings clothes with those tennis shoes on. I also remember that teacher yelling at me because I didn’t know how to do the math when I moved into that district and into her classroom. They were ahead of the last school I was in and I didn’t even get instruction on what she was expecting me to do. It was an awful rest of the school year and it’s so sad that I still remember the harm that she did to me 43 years later. I think I just blocked it out of my memory all this time. There were so many worse things going on at home that Mrs. Larson’s treatment paled in comparison. I looked at a picture from that same time and I looked sad and very thin. I think I was a nervous wreck. So many pictures have triggers for me now that I’m looking back in the past in order to come out of the fog. This time with the emotionally abusive teacher was about the time my sister three years older than I tried to suffocate me with a pillow. I think my mom and step-dad couldn’t just ignore that one like they did all of the other abusive things she did to me and others. She had to be removed from our home and was sent to a girls’ group home. The same sister who so often told me how ugly I was and then blamed me for being put in a foster home. Wow, I’ve got a lot of stuff coming out. I feel overwhelmed and very sad…


Yvonne, interesting question about how we feel when our parents pass on. I have already lived through this, as My father passed 8 years ago and my mother two years ago. My fathers death was very sudden and it hit me hard. My issues with him were that he was a perfectionist to the point where I had a great fear of making any mistakes. He also had very very strict rules for me, and I felt that it stifled my development, particularly my ability to think things out for myself. But I always felt that he cared about me much more than my mother did.
When my mother passed It was expected because she was fading rapidly. I don’t think it impacted me as much as my fathers death, but I did feel it. Part of what I felt was mourning the final door shutting where I knew certain things would never be resolved between us. We had a limited contact relationship in her last years. She lived across the country from me so it helped in the limited contact. I maintained certain boundaries when we saw each other. There were just a few boundaries as I picked the most important battles so to speak.
You asked if you will feel free at that time. I often wondered if I would. Maybe it differs from person to person, but in my case, certain things lasted beyond the grave. Even to this day I still feel a pull or push from the grave and I will explain what I mean by this. I mentioned that my father had very very strict rules for me, his only female child. Sometimes even today when I do something that goes against one of those rules, it feels like there is a pushing force trying to prevent me from doing the thing that goes against his rule. I feel a similar pressure when I do things that I know enrage my mother. I have to push past this sensation to do what I want to do. Many times I’m successful, but sometimes I still get overwhelmed by their influence. I have to remind myself that they can’t harm me, but even more importantly, that I am a person in my own right and I can decide what I want to do. But it is amazing how their influence can still reach you from beyond the grave. Perhaps it will be different for you Yvonne, but I don’t think any of us can really know in advance how we will be affected. One thing I am very careful with is to not let the fact that they are deceased cause me any feelings of guilt when I have negative feelings towards them. Many of us have been ingrained with ” never speak evil of the dead”. However I allow myself to speak the truth, and if it is negative, so be it! That’s the way it is and I do not stifle my feelings because they are negative, just because my parents are deceased. My approach feels healthy to me, and so I will continue to deal with my feelings this way.


Lynne, #112, I really feel for you about the clothes you were made to wear to school, and the kids picking on you, and that stupid, ignorant, should-not-be-allowed-near-kids awful teachers treatment of you. I feel for you as a sensitive human being hearing of a person being mistreated, but also on a more personal level because I have dealt with all three of these issues myself as a young child. Let’s deal with the teacher first. I’ve taught for quite a few years, and if something with a child was amiss, I would try to find out what is going on. And I would handle situations in a caring and sensitive way. I would never ever humiliate a child in front of the class. I’m having flashbacks to fifth grade. I wrote a short story and had to read it in front of the class. I thought my story was pretty good. It was about a child with the leading part in a school musical production who loses her voice shortly before the show due to laryngitis. I don’t remember details of the story but it came to some sort of resolution which to me is a good story. The teacher disliked it and ripped it apart in front of the class. He thought it was stupid and boring and couldn’t I come up with a better topic? I was so humiliated and in tears and kids in the class were snickering and laughing. I had other humiliating experiences with “adults” and I was too shy to defend myself. When I was nine a store clerk accused me of trying to steal a handkerchief that I picked out to buy my mother for Mothers Day. Where she got that idea from, I will never know, but she was completely wrong. I was humiliated and even felt guilt, and I hadn’t done anything wrong. The problem with incidents like mine and yours with Mrs. Larson, is that we were the kids and the adults, as wrong as they were, were in the position of power. It was not a fair or level playing field and there wasn’t much we as kids could do. What if you did talk back to that mean teacher? Most likely you would have ended up in more trouble. I think the only thing that would have helped me would have been if there was a reliable adult that I Could have gone to and explained that a woman accused me of stealing and it wasn’t true, or a teacher humiliated me. But I couldn’t go to my parents. I could not trust that they would believe me and then go advocate for me. These things weren’t our fault, and we can’t blame ourselves for not being able to take on an adult when we were kids, and we can’t blame ourselves if we didn’t have an adult advocate to turn to.
I wrote in detail in message 108 about how I was not dressed well or clean at around this same age. I was laughed at by my classmates because of my messy appearance while my mother dressed herself to the nines! So I feel the pain you went through right along with my own.
I too feel overwhelmed and sad as I let these things out, but usually feel some relief after getting it out, We really have a lot on our plates! Remember that we were the innocents in all of this. We deserved so much better. We also don’t deserve to feel guilt or shame over other peoples’ horrible actions towards us. Lynne, I send you hugs and healing thoughts, Amber.


We don’t deserve to feel ashamed because in the past we were wronged by other people who should have known better. I could not agree more. And I wished I and all of you could experience some kind of justice or healing being done to them someday – somehow – somewhere. And I guess that could be part of the problem of feeling and experiencing so much guilt, shame, fear and sometimes anger or even hatred when we have memories of our traumatic encounters in that past. Because today I actually do feel all these feelings no matter how often I try to convince myself that what happened to me was undeserving and unjust. And could it be that somehow feeling all of this today keeps me stuck in the past and makes me run around like a grumpy old man who was beaten and kicked since he was a child by those who instead should have loved him unconditionally no matter what? I don’t think that I do that all the time and I have the feeling that they want me to surrender and take the blame like a true scapegoat should. But nobody is interested or cares and my partner and her and my family treat me like a pain in the ass, either ignore me completely or blame me and say that I should move on and let bygones be bygones. I think they are afraid to look at themselves and though I can see their point part of me also thinks that if I move on to some other spot, or again try to go out into the world and expose myself to real people with real problems all these nasty feelings will return and the result will ultimately be failure, depression and retreat. I am at a loss here.


Oliver, telling a person who is hurting to just move on is abusive in my book. It is dismissive and disrespectful. I think people who don’t want to be bothered do this and it could also include people who are afraid that something bad about themselves may be revealed if we talk too much. I know what you mean about wanting justice for the mistreatment you got from others. For all that my mother did to me, was here any real justice? In the end she spent much of her final years alone. But it was her decision to mov three thousand miles from her three kids to go off with a freeloading, very immature third husband. He passed on ten years before she did and Then she started expecting me, the only daughter to fly out to do “a daughters duty” towards her. This is when I put down some boundaries. This woman fell far short of doing her mothers duties towards me. I was not going to throw my life into chaos to do her bidding. I went out there occasionally to help her, but only when it was convenient for me. She thought of herself all these years; it was time for me to finally consider my own needs. It wasn’t a spiteful thing on my part. It was more about self care.
I was bullied a lot during my school years. Not once, not ever did anyone ever apologize for their awful behavior towards me. Our class has reunions every couple of years and I go to them all. What I do notice is that people seem to have picked up that I have changed and am more confident. They are much more respectful. Darlene has said that people can sense how you value yourself and treat you accordingly.
I am rambling now, but I want you to know that you didn’t deserve any of the mistreatment you got.there may not be justice in the way that you are looking for, but I think the most important thing is to do what you need to to heal yourself. Darlene’s new book and this website is very helpful in guiding us through the healing. Self care is important too. I believe that how I feel inside is ultimately more important than what happens to my abusers, so that’s where I am putting my emphasis. Sending you healing thoughts.


“Just get on with it Alice”, “Just get over it Alice”, “Just move on”. All of these things were said to be by the same person who mistreated me. In this case the motivation is pretty easy to see, I think. The person just doesn’t want to be held accountable for the damage they’ve done and in many terms wants to keep on keeping on with the same old shit. So she can’t have me going “Wait a minute, this doesn’t work for me, this is not right”.

Yes, talking about this will definitely dredge up things for the person hearing it and if they haven’t been able to look at that aspect of their life yet they will have little or no compassion for the person speaking because they likely also have none for themselves. I feel lucky to have this forum as a place to speak freely about my family and the effects my upbringing has had on every single aspect of my life. The consequences of abuse know no compartments in “areas of life” or time for that matter.


What a powerful, vivid dream! It speaks so clearly about this subject of not being seen or heard and I can also relate feeling that way up until a few years ago when I cut my family off for good. And it took me most of my life…until this website, in fact….to fully understand that I was actually neglected. I knew I was abused, but I was able to realize the truth of the neglect I had experienced from being unseen and pushed aside, rejected and not heard. I dont know how many times that I was injured and never told my parents. I do remember one time my entire left arm was cut and scraped up so badly that I couldnt move my elbow for a long time…and my parents apparently didnt notice. I remember my older brother breaking his nose and arriving home crying and bloody and noone noticed. He cut the end off of a toe and my parents never noticed. He never went to the parents for help either. I went to my brother when I couldnt “fix” my wounds or had my hurts and he came to me, but we never dared tell the parents. When something great happened at school or in my life, I never really wanted to tell my parents because I knew they didnt care. Only if I felt truly desperate about something …like a car accident I was in once in my 20’s…did I go to my father in total fear. I was terrified of my parents on some level and I knew that I was not important to them. That was clearly understood. Even as a middle aged adult, they never really understood me or what I liked or disliked or feared or anything. It would seem like they would try to understand me, but for some reason they didnt quite get me. It would seem like they tried to be happy for me, but then somehow it would be swept away by their problems or they would “one-up” me by telling me that what they had or did was BETTER than mine or my experience. I still find myself processing the lifetime of mixed messages and sometimes I have to quit because they only add up in my understanding that my parents are simply and totally dysfunctional . My feelings and opinions meant little to nothing to them unless it related to something that THEY wanted it to, if that makes sense? It was all about them and the little family they built with my two younger brothers. Even now, with no contact, I truly believe that they are happier without me and my older brother around. I hope they are! I know that I am much happier being out of that crap where I never knew how to belong, or who I was in relation to my family. I spent a lifetime suspended in limbo! I am happy that my daughter does not feel and has never felt the way I used to because it is such an insecure place to be. She knows she is loved, heard and seen.


WOW- I cannot begin to tell you how this came to me at just the right time. My dysfunctional mother has been living with me in my home for the longest 3+ years of my life. Her initial entry into my home was very much calculated and manipulative which I knew from the start but agreed because I did not want to be viewed as “the bad” child and she herself had opened her door to me for a 6 month period of time for me to be able to get back on my feet just the year prior. Although she assured me then that it was only for a “couple of months” I knew ultimately that I would be in for the ride, little did I know how much would be revealed to me about just how truly dysfunctional our relationship has been my entire life. The cycle of abuse has continued throughout the course of this 3 years, I can not tell you how many times I have listened to her come up with excuse after excuse as to why she can’t get back on her feet and been given the silent treatment anytime I have gotten to the point of trying to be HEARD. Throughout the course of this time my needs, feelings, wants,etc. have taken a back seat to what she feels is most important, herself. Mind you I have given up my room and have slept on my couch for 3 years with my two daughters also being subjected to the dysfunction. Long story short, I have been battling over the last couple of months about having to actually put my foot down and take fairly drastic measures (getting my locks changed)in order for her to actually see that I am serious about her moving out. I have attempted on several occasions to seek assistance from my sister who lives in a different state to at least HEAR me but my mother has her so brainwashed that she herself is an enabler to the dysfunction within the family. I’ve battled back and forth between feelings of guilt for wanting to have my space back and wanting to live my life again on my terms because I’d grown so used to pushing my own thoughts and feeling to the side to accommodate my mother. I’d grown so used to believing that my voice was not valid and no matter what I would never be heard. As long as I conform to what she feels is best, herself, then the fact that I have been hurting for the past 3 years of my life while she lives off of me rent free, bill free, responsibility free, then the picture is okay in her eyes. Thank you for this post and also for many others that I have taken the time to explore as I’ve been on your site. I am finding the strength that I need and I know what I need to to for myself.


Thanks again for all of the comments. It is so sad, but probably helpful in some way for the girls/people in general to play out some of these things with the dolls.

I got to see the girls for just a few minutes over the weekend. One came running to me squealing with delight because I was there. That is the absolute best feeling! In the few short minutes, they were both reprimanded for at least one “infraction of the rules” and the scapegoat got reprimanded and called over to her dad for doing the same thing her sister did but the sister just got a verbal reprimand. The scapegoat was crying later because she didn’t like playing the same way her sister did with her mother, but mom just kept doing it to her anyway, crying or not! Mom said, well, that is the way I was playing with your sister! It boggles my mind that people can’t see at all what they do to their children! Keep in mind the girls were both completely exhausted and of course were having a hard time being perfect.

Believe me, I was not a perfect parent, but I did view my children as HUMAN with FEELINGS!! I also know that people have different personalities, but I guess it just completely puzzles me how people cannot see how they are hurting their own children.

I had wonderful loving parents, the biggest problem in my family is that we were the co-dependents, which was passed down from generation to generation. I am hopeful that my daughters will stop the cycle with themselves. They seem to be well on their way to doing that.

It takes so little to do such harm. I can totally relate to the ugly thing, too. My parents didn’t tell me that, but the kids on the bus certainly did. I then believed that my only value was in my looks because a few years later, still in school, I was suddenly attractive. I learned very quickly that I was ok when I “looked good” and completely unlovable when I was “ugly”. I have had several flip flops during my life of “looking good” and “being ugly”. It still haunts me. I still can’t believe that I have value when I am “ugly”.

It gives me hope for humanity to read the stories of healing here. Hope for myself, my daughters and my sweet step grandchildren.


There is a table about two thirds of the way down the page here that really shows two different approaches to parenting. It kind of clarified what I kept thinking about how it is like they don’t even think of them as people and they act like children are born evil and must be forced to “be good”. I had never really been close to anyone that had such a different view of children and parenting than I do and it was just so weird to me.

This table I think just spells it out so clearly and it isn’t written by me, which makes it more credible 🙂


Hi Stepgrandma,

The sad thing is that it’s a common theology that all children are “born evil”. I know that there are some Bible verses somewhere that form the basis for that idea, but I have a really hard time buying it. Fortunately – I’m not alone.

I’m glad your step grandchildren have you in their lives and I hope that you’ll be able to provide them with something that will stay in their hearts to help them be the wonderful people God intends for them to be.



RE: the Ugly thing; maybe it’s because my mother was obsessed with looks that gets me really annoyed that women seem to be evaluated first and formost by what they look like. A perfect example is that if a woman puts on a few pounds, people think they have the right to comment on and demean the woman. Funny thing is that a lot of the time it is men doing it, and often THEY have packed on the weight themselves, but seem yo think that they are beyond criticism. Women can be very catty too. How often do we hear a group of women picking someone apart; her hair, her clothes, her shoes etc.
My mother valued looks above all for a woman. She happened to be a very pretty woman, and was very intelligent as well, but never valued her intelligence. Being pretty was the main focus for her, and she was very critical of other women, most especially me. It’s as if she felt that if I looked good it would detract from her. I think she had a great fear of aging, and mainly because the aging process erodes the looks. I was probably “average” looking, but had a great figure and clear skin and a great smile. I think she felt threatened by my youth. It was during my preteen years maybe age nine, when she slacked off on seeing that I was well groomed and clean, and started giving me odd clothes to wear. The best was this pair of very old fashioned Capri type pants that she got from her sister which were from thirty years earlier. She made me wear them when I went to play with the girl across the street and she and her friends laughed their heads off at me. I was ten or eleven, and it hurt so much.
In addition my mother often told me I was ugly. Imagine an 11 year old coming home from the dentist with braces for the first time, and having her mother look directly at her face and saying two words: Ugly Amber. She did the same thing when I had to wear glasses for a few months to correct a visual problem. I was told I have big hips and that Im awkward and clunky. She would comment if I gained a couple of hair was always a mess and she would cut it herself, and it always came out crooked. Her hair of course was done at the beauty salon weekly.
The Ugly thing is a big issue for me. Ten people could tell me I look good but if one person gives me a nasty looks related comment I end up focusing on that. Has anyone gotten past this? There are days I feel that I have, but like I said, one comment can set me back.


I am so sorry that you heard those words from your mother. I cannot imagine the hurt from that! Glasses for me were the thing I connected with ugly or not ugly. I wear contacts now, but have a huge fear that some day I will have to wear glasses in public again. I am very near sighted, so they are thick lenses, etc. My biggest triggers are glasses, acne and being overweight.

I wish it wasn’t so hard for women especially, but it is so true that women are judged by their looks first and foremost!

Have any of you listened to Brenee Brown’s ted talk or any of her books? She talks about shame. It is wonderful stuff. I signed up on audible for one free audio book and got that one. I listen to it a lot in the car when I am driving to work. I highly recommend it!


Thank you and I totally agree, I am thankful there are others who do not agree with the “born evil” idea. I read a book on the history of those concepts that are supposedly based on the Bible. Interesting reading! It was from the perspective of showing that they are not Bible based.


Step grandma, thanks for your kind words. Yes, it was very hurtful for an eleven year old girl who desperately wanted to fit in with her peers to hear such mean words, especially from a mother. I’m so sorry that you went through pain from mean people because of your glasses. I have found that the people who pick on others about looks have issues of their own and they zero in on someone else to shift the focus away fom themselves.
My mother was not only critical of me, but she had mean comments yo make about guys I dated. It was always about some imperfection in the way they looked. I went through a short phase at about 15 and 16 where I turned down dating some really nice guys because of some imperfection in looks, and I think it was because I didn’t want to look unworthy of being able to get the perfect looking guy in my mothers eyes. Maybe in some way I thought that being able to get a gorgeous guy would finally raise my status in my mothers eyes. Thank goodness I outgrew this before I was out of my teens. But I still feel guilt about one guy I didn’t treat very well. I know he is on Facebook, and I have been trying to gather up the courage to apologize, all these years later for the horrible way I treated him. But I find that I am afraid of the reaction I may get. Do I risk doing what I know is the right thing and possibly getting my apology thrown right back in my face? I think I have to reconcile myself to being able to feel good about apologizing even if it isn’t accepted.
Step grandma, thanks for the book recommendation. I will look for them.


Hi Oliver
Healing and Justice don’t seem to go together at least not in my experience. (Healing is not dependant on justice is what I mean.) I have seen the perpetrator go to prison for his crimes and the rest of the family is still angry with the victim of the abuse! I have seen the perp go to prison and everyone supports the victim of the crime BUT the victim still feels strangely empty until true healing takes place. The way that I released that ‘belief’ that somehow it WAS my fault, was by seeing the truth about the whole thing; I looked at the details in many ways and I looked at the messages that I got from the damage, and then I realized that I believed it was my fault because of those false messages. (obviously this is just the mini version of that process)
I am sorry that you are struggling ~ YOU SHOULD have been loved! Absolutely
hugs, Darlene


Hi FinallyFree
Great comments as always!
My comprehension of neglect came later too. I think it is very often easier to relate to physical abuses, or verbal abuses than to identify neglect and disregard especially considering the brainwashing that is present. and it is horrible to realize that parents ‘didn’t notice’ us and our hurts! And to realize the fear that we had of them too, is tragic and it was frightening for me to realize this stuff even as an adult.
Thanks for your comments.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi MovingPastFear ~
Welcome to EFB ~ This is such a difficult situation that you are in. I am so glad you found this site ~ there is a lot of info and a lot of things are highlighted which helps so much with getting the clarity we all need to go forward and make a new decision!
Please share with us often
Hugs, Darlene


Oliver, I was very touched by your comments. They reminded me of feelings my older brother expressed and what I watched him struggle with for too many years. I don’t know your situation or all the details, but it seemed to me that you have ended up having significant and meaningful relationships with others turn on you and project THEIR negativity onto you. My brother was the true “scapegoat” in our crazy family and it seemed like he was the convenient dumping ground for everyone. If THEY were feeling bad or bitter, HE was going to get in trouble for something . To me it seemed that he wasn’t allowed to be happy…or successful….or peaceful. Everything he would be in trouble for was actually very minor issues, but the family member would blow it all out of proportion. What is truly crazy is the HE was the most intelligent, sensitive and gifted out of everyone. But everyone seemed to pick pick pick and blame and hurt and abuse and neglect him. He ended up with all of the emotions you have described.. My heart goes out to you for all of your suffering and being tossed around emotionally like you have. I was very traumatized by his mistreatment/abuse/neglect and am only in the last year really being able to release some of the pain and guilt and process it all without crying! I think your opinions and perspectives about your family seem very clear and you seem to see right through the people who have treated you badly. You seem to understand and they don’t. I hope you will be able to see that this truly isn’t about you….! You do deserve to be peaceful, happy and healthy and are just as important as everyone and anyone else. 🙂


Hello Darlene,
I just want to say: “THANK YOU & God bless you,” because you seem to have read my mind. I just had a discussion about this with my brother the other day, and just like you said, he acted like the abuse never occurred and doesn’t still occur. What do you call it when a mother just starts cussing a daughter out in front of a room full of people for no reason? It was Thanksgiving. I once heard her tell someone that I “couldn’t stand” someone when I never told her that. My sister beat me on a daily basis when we were children. As we got older, I grew taller than her, so she resorted to emotional and psychological abuse. Like calling a friend and telling them that I said something I didn’t say, instigating an ACTUAL FIGHT. What REALLY HURTS is the fact that she has made my life a living hell and somehow SHE has emerged as the “darling” of the family. Do you know what it is like to CONSTANTLY have people tell you how “sweet” your LIFELONG TORMENTER is? Again, thank you for the article and info. I know I am not alone.


FinallyFree, thanks a lot for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. Sometimes words can make the difference between living in heaven or hell.

A thought just struck me about the relationship between me and my mother and words came to my mind that said: I want you to need me – I want you to read me. I think the meaning is that in every conversation (or should I better say monologue?) between us my mother desperately keeps on saying: I want you to need me, understood! And I always get the message: You are not supposed to live a life of your own. You have to take care of my needs first. Period.

Whereas I try desperately to keep on saying with every fibre of me: I want you to read and understand me! See Me! Respect Me! Accept me as a human being and a man who never really had the chance to become a man like my younger brother for instance and who first needs to draw some necessary and healthy borders in order to get a chance to have some kind of contact with you in the future that is good for both of us. As long as you tell me and show to me that you will not accept me and my boundaries I will not be able to reach out to you and to get into contact with you.

My situation these days is something between at least bearable and almost unbearable to me and it strongly depends on how I slept, what the weather is like, if I had a telephone call from my mother or my siblings lately, and if my partner again expects me to visit her parents at least every second weekend who live in the same village or if she has her mother over for a little chat every now and then… . Since I cut almost all ties with my own family, sometimes I’d love to do the same with her family as well because, guess what, I feel singled out and being treated like a scapegoat there as well.

I do feel with you and your brother and happy, successful and peaceful are words that I have almost forgotten. I lost my last job more than a year ago because of workplace bullying. This triggered memories of a long phase of bullying that I had to go through in college and probably caused me again to lapse into depression.

What is so wrong about trying to define and assert my boundaries, trying to keep up my balance in life with the help of these wonderful articles and comments here on these pages? I think nothing at all, but my partner and her and my family think I am wrong because I am not functioning in a way that they see as being acceptable. I wished this would not be necessary, and that I could live my life like the majority of people who never had and never will have to go through all of this dysfunctional family crap that is going on for me all the time without end! Nobody has until now said that I am crazy, but they treat me like that and look at me as if they think I am, that is, if they are not ignoring me all the time.

Feels like running the 100 metres with just one leg and those with two legs always looking down on me and yelling: Hey, look, just like that. Simply keep up your balance and then run like the wind. )-:


Hi Darlene

This sounds so like my experiences as a child. I don’t have happy memories of my childhood at all. I don’t even remember events, just feelings. How everything I did was wrong, how I was either slated or ignored, how even my parents hated being in the same room as me. How my best efforts weren’t good enough. I remember the name calling, the insults, being told I was fat from the age of 3, being reduced to tears by the cruel words then being hit because I cried so I “had something to cry about”. It wasn’t just my parents; my extended family acted the same way towards me. I learned how to hide away if I wanted to cry, to remain silent when I was being put down, to lie about how bad things were. I went through school with no friends, I was always the child who stood and watched everyone else playing and being happy. Obviously the other children saw I wasn’t happy so they avoided me.

There aren’t many photos of me as a child or teenager. In the few that exist, I either look serious or am wearing a smile that is clearly fake. Nobody else noticed.

I was first diagnosed with depression at 20, a condition I still have. I must have first developed depression far earlier though, because I don’t remember feeling any different. Though according to my family I was attention seeking. They certainly don’t know I’m still being treated for depression.

I’m now in my 30’s. I have basic contact with some members of my family, though I still end up being criticized over everything I say and do. A lot of the time they act like I don’t exist. Sometimes, even when I’m in the same room they talk about me as if I wasn’t there. I’ve never been treated like a real person with real feelings. I might as well be a china doll or wax model. I have no self-esteem, no confidence, no friends and nobody to talk to. I don’t even go out unless I have to; the less I go out, the fewer people will encounter me and dislike me.

I have been taught since early childhood that I am substandard, unpleasant to be around, stupid, fat, ugly, unlovable; told that I don’t deserve respect or success; that I was born a failure and would die a failure. I was called a liar, a drama queen, lazy, thoughtless, inconsiderate, selfish. This is the image of myself I carry every day. I don’t know how to be happy. I spend as much time as I can in self-imposed isolation because if I am alone all I feel is lonely. I don’t like to inflict my company on others. I have come to believe I don’t deserve any better, and I doubt that will ever change now. I am broken, damaged and emotionally screwed up. This is me.


Hi Amy
Welcome to EFB ~ The image you have of yourself was given to you by all the ways that you have been treated. The massage that you got about yourself is false. You are not who they said you were and you do deserve better. I changed when I was in my mid forties, but not the way that I thought I had to; My happiness came from discarding those false messages by seeing what they were. That is what this entire site is about.
You are not alone,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Marianne S.
Welcome to EFB ~ it is terrible that you were not protected from all of that with your sister and that your mother publically humiliated you that way. You are not alone,
Glad you are here, thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Amy, we do end up internalizing the messages that other people give us in our growing years. And so much of it is false!! I really feel for you because I had some similar experiences. My mother had so much nasty to say about me and to me. If you read some of my earlier posts on this article, I was called ugly often, and it was by my own mother. And she dressed me horribly and I was not well groomed or bathed often enough. I too was friendless at school and often stood watching the other girls playing and was left out of birthday parties and other events. Like you, I think they picked up on my image of myself and rejected me.
I always felt it was about me, and that something was wrong with me. Not until I came to this blog did I ever question these beliefs. I’ve been reading this blog for 16 months now and I also got Darlene’s ebook. Amy, finally things started to make sense. I was groomed, especially by my mother, but also by others to think I was inferior, something was the matter with me, I was ugly, I was a failure etc. And I accepted it all these years. For the very first time, I started looking at these beliefs. How could a young girl be worthless and not valuable, or less deserving than other people? It didn’t make sense. It didn’t, because these were FALSE messages that my mother wanted me to believe. It kept me under her control. It kept me compliant and fearful of making mistakes so I stayed as invisible to my mother as possible. So I was out of her way and she didn’t have to bother with me. My only use to her was what chores I could do. That was my only value. She was obsessed with looks and aging so by making me feel ugly she somehow felt prettier. Sick? Yes, but that is how she operated and ” ugly” became how I viewed myself. And I never questioned it until recently because those messages go sofar back that they were the only messages I have ever known about myself.
Now I look at these messages and analyze them. Am I worthless? Ugly? Incapable of success? NO! I only believed these falsities because they were so deeply drilled in to me. I was gaslighted my whole life.
I think if you put the time in to go through the ” process” Darlene describes in her book and blog, you will start seeing how false many of the beliefs you were groomed to accept are, and as you unravel them and then realize what is really true, you gradually start to feel better, and self esteem starts to improve. I’m at the stage where I have discovered many of the false beliefs I had about myself and where they originated. My challenge now is to let go if some of the coping methods that helped me as a child but are holding me back as an adult. I guess it is another phase in the process.

Good luck! And remember you are a valuable person who deserves to be happy.


Amber – you are so on! I think I am going to frame these words: “It kept me under her control. It kept me compliant and fearful of making mistakes so I stayed as invisible to my mother as possible. So I was out of her way and she didn’t have to bother with me. My only use to her was what chores I could do.”

I keep asking myself, over and over, WHY did this happen? What did I do to direct the abuse towards myself? And your words above are the answer! This type of abuse does have a BIG payoff for the abuser, particularly if they think what they’re doing is okay. Thank you so much. This blog has been a balm for my pain and doubt. Thank you, Darlene.

I think it’s time for me to get Darlene’s book now!


K2014, you made my day! I like the idea of my words being framed, even if it is figuratively! 🙂
It was from reading on here and buying Darlene’s book that helped me to see what was really going on. I also asked myself WHY this happened so many times. And what I did to cause it. The reason I could never answer these questions was because I was assigning myself blame for something that I was not to blame for. So all the searching and questioning in the world was not going to answer what I was doing to cause this. I was doing NOTHING to cause it. I was taught by my mother ( and others but mainly my mother) that I was a problem and that I had a lot wrong with me, but there was really nothing to back this up. I never saw it though because, as a child I just automatically accepted what the important adults like parents and teachers told me. I couldn’t see from my child’s eyes that there was nothing to back up what they were saying. By the time I reached adulthood I was accustomed to accepting these false beliefs and never thought to question them. So Darlene’s way of thinking has opened up a whole new world of thinking for me. Yes, do get the book!! I think it will be very helpful to you!


Hi Amber (113)

I just checked the comments today catching up—we had a big storm in my area with flooding but my house was safe—-thank goodness! Thank you so much for your kind reply. I think I understand your ‘push-pull’ emotions regarding parents. When I think about the coming near future parents’ deaths I feel mixed emotions. Sometimes I feel ecstatic, like a release from slavery, and other times I feel hurt and angry with my father like how come he never protected me? How come my father chose his wife (my bio.Narc. mom) over raising me right? I have survived this far in my adult life and I know that life goes on.

When they both die then I hope and want to believe that I can finally forgive them. My problem is that I still have LC (Low Contact) with my father. It’s never really over until they have passed away. My whole life I have been labelled shy. I have never been able to fully be myself and do what I want. I dream of decorating my house the way I want, with all my books on the bookcases and decorations. My father could never understand my real religion (Celtic Pagan) and I choose not to be out. It’s hard when all we have ever received is coldness, criticism, and abuse. Even if I fulfilled my father’s wishes by having a very high-paid job and a traditional family then there is always more to attack. I live my life for me and want to be happy. I am getting older and tired and behind closed doors I don’t care what others think of me.

I envision myself being so busy and doing what I want after my parents’ deaths that I don’t have the time to mourn and feel depressed. It’s hard since few friends really understand what we have lived through. I almost got into a serious argument with a friend who basically said that I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. Well, why not? When can I ever speak my truth? It’s about wanting to be supported and validated and I gave up on my friends getting it.

My parents are essentially perfect strangers to me so there is no great emotional loss after they’re gone. It’s sad but I have had more connection with minor relationships than with my parents. At my former apartment, there was an older man handyman who would often come over and do small jobs. He would save my apartment for last and we would often chat over a cup of coffee. I think he sensed that I was needing a shoulder to lean on and a substitute father figure. I really missed our chats when I moved. I have been closer to minor coworkers than my own parents. My parents are closer to their upper class retired neighbors with the “let’s do lunch” crowd. I don’t spend Christmas at their house since they get invited for meals and entertainment at their neighbors.

I hope that when the time comes I can keep myself quite busy. There is an old song by Carly Simon, “I haven’t got time for the pain”. I think that is my theme song for the parents’ deaths. So, it’s one day at a time for now. Thanks for reading. Blessed Be!


Amy, there is hope for you! I had about the worst self esteem imaginable and truly hated how I looked and who I was. Those false beliefs “given” to me through abuse, neglect and rejection had taken over my life and I was very sad and felt screwed up and damaged too. A few years ago I somehow found this site in a time of real desperation, and I can tell you that now my life is ENTIRELY different and it feels like some miracle happened. I am able to care for myself (self-care) which is a huge deal because I didn’t really do that before. When you feel so unlovable, why bother because it doesn’t matter is how I had come to believe. I would throw on makeup and all that, but I didn’t take care of many many other things because I didn’t like myself . Now I do care and it is actually very gratifying and even fun to take the steps to caring for myself! I now try new things….I used to be paralyzed with fear/shyness of failing and everyone seemed much more talented than me….but now I love branching out and doing new stuff. Probably not to the extent that some ppl, but it is a miracle for ME. even my relationships and the way I relate to others now has also gotten so much healthier. I do still have situations come up and feel triggered to react or respond like I used to, but now I can at least process the situation and have the ability to understand and grow from it. I have found ME since I realized the truth and unravelled the lies from my family and others. Anyway, I just wanted to write to try and encourage you to hang in there and try to have hope again! Miracles are for everyone! Peace and comfort to you!! 🙂


Yvonne, I often wondered how I would feel when my parents passed on, but what I didn’t know before it happened was that there is no way to predict this. When it happened, I just reacted and went with my feelings,both good and bad, but it felt different than I expected it to. It was sort of like a roller coaster of emotions. I could be okay one minute and then the roller coaster could go way downhill really quick. As time went on the uphill and downhill started to level off and I eventually healed enough to live my normal life without the emotions wreaking havoc. It took about seven weeks to reach that stage with my father and about a month with my mother. There of course were times water those periods when I would get emotional but it was usually when some trigger happened. This was my path. I’m sure it is different for each one of us.

In regard to your comment about not speaking evil of the dead: my father is gone eight years, my mother, two. I started commenting on this blog 16 months ago, so each and every negative thing I said about either parent was postmortem. I believe I can express my feelings about them, both positive and negative even if they are deceased. I threw that cliche right out the window because speaking the truth is what is important to me.


“Just get on with it Alice”, “Just get over it Alice”, “Just move on”. All of these things were said to be by the same person who mistreated me. In this case the motivation is pretty easy to see, I think. The person just doesn’t want to be held accountable for the damage they’ve done and in many terms wants to keep on keeping on with the same old shit. So she can’t have me going “Wait a minute, this doesn’t work for me, this is not right”.

Or, “YOu live in the past.” Nope, there is a difference between “living in the past” and “unresolved issues.” Mom doesn’t see a difference and doesn’t believe in “unresolved issues.” She says, “You are the master of your destiny.” This is her defense to the “unresolved issues.” Not wanting to be accountable or admit fault. She does say, “I made mistakes.” But she won’t admit to particular mistakes.

I’m just looking for her to say, “You weren’t the kid I wanted so I tried to force you to be something else.” She won’t admit that.


Regarding parental deaths. I felt NOTHING when my father died and I doubt I will feel anything when my mom passes. When my father died, my siblings got angry at me for not crying. They said, “you don’t have to be strong.” I wasn’t being strong. I felt NOTHING. Mom asks me why I won’t visit my dad’s grave. Because he wasn’t a father to me. He couldn’t talk to me.


DXS, to quote Joshua Oppenheimer “Let the past be past is a dishonest sentence if there is no acknowledgement of what the past is, and what it means.”

Somehow my mother was able to throw the “Get over it Alice” thing at me many times without admitting to (or admitting to so very little “I could have handled some things differently”) what actually happened. Worse, the “what actually happened” was decided by her to be my “choice” or “choice of how to see or what to see (only the bad parts).

I think that’s more abusive than the straight up mistreatment. I mean getting slapped is bad (and I learned to dodge as I got older) but then denying there was any mistreatment on top is just too much. But of course there’s no way someone who mistreats you will allow that behavior to be framed in terms that place responsibility fully on them. The years I wasted trying to get them to own up to it.

Even the idea that we can “take responsibility for ourselves” can get misunderstood if this whole foundation has been screwed with. They broke it, I have to fix it because there’s no chance they’ll be up for doing that.

I used to joke that as well as having a college fund for their kids, parents should have “therapy funds” for them as well. I’m still doing very well on NC.

I am worried about their deaths since I don’t feel safe being in the company of the remaining family members. I have been thinking about whether when the message comes to send my condolences and some flowers and a few lines about being unable to be at the funeral(s) because I do not feel safe around them.


I would like to add to what DXS has said about parental deaths. In my experience, my mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She found that this diagnosis became a time for her to ramp up her demands, demeaning attitude, abuse, and overall disdain for all that ‘bothered’ her. In Oct of 2010, my sister convinced me to come with her for a visit to see our mum. I really didn’t want to come, but sis had said that she, her hubby, and her little boy would be there. So, I really thought, that with this many people present, really, this many witnesses, that my mum would not act up. (my mum was good at being mean while no one was looking) Boy, was I wrong. My mum seemed to not really give a shite who was around. She basically let it all hang out. I again, was the object of her wrath. My mum couldn’t contain herself, she even lashed out on my sister’s little boy. I remember having a surreal moment in witnessing my mum go after my sister’s little boy. (my sister was in the bedroom lying in bed, her hubby was in the shower. I was sitting in the chair in the living room and my sister’s little boy was wandering around. He was asking for something. My mum got irritated because she couldn’t hear the tv. My mum jumped up and lashed out at him, he got scared and went to run away. I jumped up in front of my mum to block her, while he ran into the bedroom. This then was fuel for my mum to further lash out at me. I remember having this thought of, this is what it was like for me and my little sisters living growing up in our home. I hate to say it, but I felt comfort in knowing that my mum’s anger didn’t stop with me, she brandished it onto my sister and her husband. I thought, finally, now, people will see what a horrible piece of work my mum is. I told my sister that I am done, I can no longer expect my mum to love much less treat me respectfully. I said to my sister, I’m not conveniently backing out on dealing with a dying woman, just that I am done in allowing her to abuse me and I think this day was the first real day I disconnected emotionally from her. I was present physically in her last months of life. When she did pass, I felt nothing. I remember telling this to a therapist, feeling guilty because I did not cry or feel sad. I felt numb, empty, and relieved. My therapist said to me, that this was totally NORMAL. Why should I expect to feel sadness and loss when my mum HADN’T behaved, nor treated, or raised me or my sister’s in a way that fostered love and compassion. This was the first time that anyone had ever said anything like this to me. I have had a lot of people say bad things to me, and it’s no coincidence that these people were my sisters and friends of my mum’s. Both of my sisters have treated me like crap. My little sister, the same one I mentioned here said I do not deserve to attend any funeral because I stopped loving my mum.
I never stopped loving my mum. Towards the end of her life, she came into the room, said aloud, her mum’s name and reached for me. My sister said, mum, it’s not your mum, it’s Raven. (My mum has always said that I looked like her mum) My mum asked me if I would cuddle her. I held her in my arms and she fell asleep. I was able to see a small frail woman that was dying of cancer. (Then my middle sister walked in and shouted, “What is she doing hugging MY MOTHER!!?”)

When my stepshite father dies, I WILL NOT be going to his funeral. I really wonder if I will even be told. He has had nothing to do with me since he kicked me out over 25 years ago. If, I am asked or expected to come, my answer will be this: Funerals are for the friends and family of the deceased. I send my condolences, and that is all. Sorry this is so long.


Oh, and I would like to add, I will visit my stepshite’s grave and post a sign, a true sign stating the kind of man he really was. I even toy with the idea of peeing in his grave. But, that’s just a fantasy I have to admit.


Dearest Darlene ~ Empathizing brings tears….very much personally relating to your dream on many levels. Thank you so very much for your ministry! My ministry ~ my Godsongs ~ are born out of my healing journey from emotional abuse and the love relationship I’ve experienced with my Heavenly DaddyGod! If it wasn’t for me experiencing my Identity, worth & value in Christ, I would still be strapped & trapped in my mind traps rehearsing old messages that wounded me to the core. I am thankful I feel DaddyGod’s love to the core now ~ the only safe, healthy, unchanging love that I’ve ever known where my VOICE is heard & is precious to my Heavenly Daddy’s ears as I sing my Love Notes ? back to His heart that He has been singing over mine ~ through it all! Love to your heart from mine!! Thank you so very much for sharing your heart as every time I read your heartshares, I so very deeply empathize with yours. I understand. Blessings sweet sister ~ Momo Smiley, My ministry & Godsongs are on my website ~
(Below I share my MIRROR VISUAL and the beautiful transformation His Love made in my life through seeing myself through HIS EYES !!!


My JUNE 16, 2011 Journal Entry ~

(This was my visual / spiritual experience after re-reading “Becoming the Person You Want to Be” Chapter 17 & 18 , as well as after having meditating upon HIS TRUTH from Romans 8, James & Hebrews Visual describing the beautiful experience of my Transformation / “Metamorphisis” … While soaking up the S?NSHINE, I laid back, closed my eyes, inhaling GOD’S PRESENCE into me several times (as I had done in my dream a few days prior to this visual) and this is what I experienced in the spiritual realms of my heart)

” Into a dimly lit room I walked. There before me was a seat. Before the seat sat a MIRRORED table. I accepted the invitation to sit down; however, I was hesitant to do so because perhaps this seat could not bear the weight of ALL the load I was bearing: SHAME, CONDEMNATION, GUILT, LOW SELF-WORTH & VALUE, DEFECTIVENESS, MIND TRAPS, HURTS, EMOTIONAL PAINS & FEARS. …but, I walked forward & rested myself & the full weight of my load upon the seat which called me by name.

As I sat there ~ I began to study my reflection~ each flaw, blemish, defect & all the lies that had shaped me into this IDENTITY. It was as if cracks in the shattered image formed another version of me but OH HOW DISTORTED my IMAGE became~ fragmented & disfigured ~ which seemed to reflect PARTS & SEGMENTS of me. I was not a picture of WHOLENESS but rather DIVIDED into VERSIONS of ME that made it difficult to determine WHICH one was the REAL ME. (underneath the illusion though ~ the brokenness knew~ but to the outside world’s visual ~ I was only able to expose PARTS OF ME. The parts that had been concealed through emotional MAKEUP (my emotional concealer) that I had applied to cover up the defects & disfigurements that had been projected onto me & those that I had visualized within myself through my own judgments, negative self-talk that were born out of the lies that I believed. I HAD TAKEN ON & WORN the wardrobe & the makeup of a DEAD MAN !!

As I sat there studying MY OLD MAN to the point that my THOUGHTS became AUDIBLE in my head,, I said, “That’s me. THAT’S ME! That’s ME? “ I was overcome with great emotion & my voice became drowned out by my tears. Through the silence, I began to hear the audible turning sounds of the “DIAL OF TRUTH”! I looked deeper into the MIRROR! As I called each defect by name~ the disease of my low self worth, hurts, pains, shame, condemnation, guilt, fears~ began to transform into my IDENTITY IN CHRIST as I DIALED INTO HIS TRUTH !!! My IDENTITY was no longer mine! I began to look more & more like HIM! I did not realize that HE WAS SITTING THERE on the OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR the WHOLE TIME ~ sitting in HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, TRUTH, GRACE, PEACE, LOVE, WORTH & VALUE & ALL OF HIS GLORY!!!




The more you are DIALED INTO HIS TRUTH, the more the LIGHT OF HIS TRUTH will be transmitted through the 2-way mirror allowing the reflection of HIS IMAGE & HIS IDENTITY to shine through = TRANSFORMATION, METAMORPHASIS, A BEAUTIFUL MAKEOVER !!

2 Corinthians 3:12-18
12 In light of this hope that we have, we act with great confidence and speak with great courage. 13 We do not act like Moses who covered his face with a veil so the children of Israel would not stare as the glory of God faded from his face.[b] 14 Their minds became as hard as stones; for up to this day when they read the old covenant, the same veil continues to hide that glory; this veil is lifted only through the Anointed One. 15 Even today a veil covers their hearts when the words of Moses are read; 16 but in the moment when one turns toward the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 By “the Lord” what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is liberty. 18 Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.

My MIRROR VISUAL ~ Excerpt from my website



Has anyone seen the movie “the Giver”? I just saw it at the drive in, which was fun. Anyway, it was kind of a weird feeling, but it seemed like the people in the community or whatever they called it were like the parents of my granddaughters, the ones in the movie that had no feelings. It was kind of a weird feeling for me watching it. And the “receiver” is kind of how I feel when I am around them, like I can feel feelings and emotions, but they are incapable, it was medicated out of them.

I normally cannot stand science fiction type movies, but I kind of liked this one! I guess it kind of felt “real” to me 🙂

We got to see the girls today,but they were so exhausted and never did nap, so they were grumpy when their parents got home. Of course, that was not acceptable to their parents!

I sure do love those little girls. They are talking so much now, which is just so fun. I love hearing what goes on in those little heads of theirs 🙂


Thank you so much for writing this! I simply enjoy coming here chatting with everybody and reading your blogs! Another revelation opened up, yes, the more truth is coming out for myself. God, how many years have I been saying this to people? Gee, nobody even listens.

“father who is passive abusive and emotionally unavailable and my relationship with my mother who believes that she comes first, simply because ‘she is the mom’.”

Agreed, they both think they are the parents and come first.

About the pictures. Yea, we have pictures all so fake and phoney it isn’t even funny. My boyfriend has seen our family photos, my mom would make me get in the picture so my dad would stop bugging us which is ludacris it was like her talking to a child!

“She told me that she struggles with depression and anxiety. She is unhappy and unfulfilled and her self-esteem is fragile, but nobody notices. Even all these years later, still nobody notices her. They are all caught up in appearances and their facade of the perfect family. They are only concerned with the way they appear to others but their own daughter is dying right before their eyes and they don’t notice; their own daughter questions whether or not she has started living yet… but they don’t notice.”

My parents have this facade of this happy, perfect family which is nowhere near true at all. It is all about appearances for them which I have to watch these mere simpletons, gullible fools out there eat it up and feed their narc supply. I told people/ex-therapist how they are being used by my parents regardless if they are sitting here or not and that they are feeding their narc supply. Yep, that went over their heads!

“She grew up with this “feeling” that she was never seen, never heard, never noticed and although it feel almost normal to her now, somewhere deep down she wonders what went wrong, is it her, did she ever matter, will they ever see her and value her for who she is?”

I resonate with the woman in your dream. That’s when the children are seen and never heard comes into play. I was told by my ex-therapist that I have an identity I said not when you are “spiritually dead” you don’t know who you are. Nobody notices me nor cares about how I feel all they care about are how my parents feel!

“This is exactly how it really is in families where parents don’t see their children as people or individuals with their own thoughts, needs and feelings. The mother was so proud of this picture of her handsome husband in his jet black tuxedo and the and her little girl in her perfect white dress. Nobody noticed that the little girl was crying. No one saw that she was hurting. No one cared that she was trying to communicate that something was wrong. Nobody SAW her; Nobody HEARD her. This is how it feels to be the child in a dysfunctional family where you are not seen as an individual. This is how it feels to be objectified. This is how it feels when you are trapped in an illusion of “normal”, crying for all to see except that they don’t see; they only see themselves, the dress, the hair, the shoes, the handsome man and his perfect smile, the expensive picture frame, the house, the wall… they saw everything but me.”

Exactly. I have been saying this for years there was no sense of individuality in the household. No feelings, nothing, couldn’t be just a normal kid as “everybody was out to get us.” I told people/ex-therapist how can you sit there and say there’s individuality? She said they are your parents her typical usual stupidass answer nothing she couldn’t back up on her own! You don’t have individuality if you are never seen as a human being and of course, gave her a history example slavery. Were they seen as individuals with needs and feelings? No, doesn’t stop there and that works in families too. I told people those who don’t know crap about history/life are doomed to repeat it!

People really need to take a good look at photos everything in life is not picture perfect and glad this was mentioned. I watched a video last year by a therapist who said he had everything a family would have, but he was taught to lie by his parents and said looking at his family from the outside; everything looked picture perfect and he had low self esteem. He also said how everything was surface level and you have to peel a lot of layers to find out what was truly going on and which I told people/ex-therapist you are so fixated on appearances that you can’t see the underlying problem behind those surface layers. I call that gullible yet it’s hypocritical to teach your own children that life isn’t picture yet you’re speaking to me like I had it easy at home very hypocritical and yep she cut me off so did a lot of people. I asked her what kind of therapist are you? I don’t care how old a person is, if they sound/come across as stupid/dumb always gotta rely on what Society says, that is not intelligence to me. That is not a person who can go find the answers and think for themselves, why do these schools bother to teach critical thinking when nobody uses it anymore?

I told her I could paint a huge canvas that can around these walls in this clinic that is everything about my life and my siblings now where’s the happy family? I used to draw things that were filled with violence and played with my toys/cats in a violent way which I regret being mean to my previous cats.

“This is how it feels when you are trapped in an illusion of “normal” ” Oh, how I love this! I totally agree it’s all a lie in these abusive families. I told people what is so normal about my parents? My dad worked (when he was working) made a lot of money, stole from his ex-employers (that’s suppose to make us feel better), etc under all of that was hell! People have agreed that it is a lie but still your family regardless like omg!

She said surely there must have been normal-ness only when it “fit the narc’s ideologies of normal.” So much for a “qualified professional” with background in abuse and doesn’t know shit could’ve taken her job and taught her a lot of things! I hated writing school papers about my parents as there was nothing “normal” about the household but no, had to lie on the papers otherwise “I am the mean child saying mean things about my family that I shouldn’t be saying.”

This is why the system of abuse keeps continuing and I remember I told my ex-therapist and others ‘you may leave it and move on, but it will still continue whether you are still there in the household or not.’ Society isn’t even better either they want a perfect picture life and families out there this is why families seem to be falling apart everyday because of believing into those lies. I remember I was in the picture with my “dad” and had a smile, it was just a can we get over this now type of smile and people found it to be genuine. I have such sharp senses that I can sense with other people’s situations something is not right or just full of shit even by looking at someone else’s picture while they tell me I am negative and said nope, I just see something you don’t see and you will never understand.


“I have such sharp senses that I can sense with other people’s situations something is not right or just full of shit even by looking at someone else’s picture while they tell me I am negative and said nope, I just see something you don’t see and you will never understand.”

Marquis, (comment #148)

Your words brought to my mind the scene in “Good Will Hunting” where Matt Damon in his first visit with Robin Williams is interpreting Robin William’s painting.

I think that scene ends with Robin Williams having his hand around Matt Damon’s neck, while Robin Williams tells Matt Damon that he will “end” him.

“Good Will Hunting” > Good movie except for, in my opinion, the needless vulgarity.


Hello everyone and Hello Marianne– I was interested to read your comment. I have sat down and been about to reply to this post of Darlene’s twice now and have been interrupted both times, but it has just given me the opportunity to read all of the very enlightening comments so thanks as always to everyone here for the ongoing support this community provides.

I turned 50 a few months ago– I am the youngest. All of my older sibs have received a nice piece of jewelry that we all pitched in to get. I received a piece of c*** that was most likely picked up at the corner drug store. I worked through all of that at the time, by using this site and other resources. The selection was made by “the nice one” in our family. She and have been distant lately because her husband, who has a hideous health history mostly brought on by his own poor life choices, called me up and berated me because his doctor, who I recommended, did not call his NORMAL lab results to him when our city was basically shut down by a snow storm for two days earlier this year. I finally hung up on him. Anyway, the “nice one” is turning 60 soon and she has requested a pretty extravagant gift from all of us, which everyone is more than happy to give because she is the martyr in the family and she does so much for Mom and ya, ya, ya. And I’m thinking “Hello?” But I am in a no win situation. I can either pony up or look like a bigger jerk than they think I already am. It’s hard to believe they don’t plan this stuff, you know?


Jane, I understand. When my older sister turned 40, my younger sister threw a 40th birthday party with all the female relatives and a few close friends. I was only told about it the day before it happened, which happened to be on a day that I was going out of town for a short vacation, but I spent that day at her party. I turned 40 the next year, and I got a big old pile of nothing, no party, no acknowledgment, nothing. The next year our youngest sister turned 40, and voila–another party! Of course I was told only a day before. Guess what? I didn’t go! I’ve always been given these lame, last-minute invites after all the cousins and friends are contacted and then if I don’t go, its sort of “oh, Eira doesn’t want to be part of the family. Of course the sister whose party I boycotted took it personally, but they never stop to think how their blatant disregard stings–they are so used to disregarding me, my parents set a very strong example for them. When asked why I didn’t go, I honestly told them that their last minute invites suck and neither one acknowledged my 40th in any way–and I left it at that. My mother tried to convince me that in my case “its different” but I just shot her a cold stare and the matter was dropped.

I would say perhaps give a small token amount toward the present. And then start itching your neck furiously and when they ask what is wrong, tell them that your 50th birthday necklace that you wore tarnished as soon as you put them on and you seem to be allergic to the cheap metal that wore off as soon as the plating was gone so you can no longer wear it. Then go silent.


Elra, Thanks for responding and thanks for the very comical suggestion!! You know, I am so happy to say that I am no longer at the point where things like this really hurt me. We are all in different stages in the process here and I think that is one of the things that make this site so great. People who are further along the road can help those of us who are not…. I admire your bravery!! I have thought about just giving a token amount toward the gift and making and excuse for the lunch. I have the same experience with other relatives and cousins. Whenever we do get together in a larger group, it is obvious that there are parties and plans that I am not made a part of. Thanks again!


Hi Jane!
I hear you! This stuff rarely changes. Sometimes I want to scream out to the world.. HEY WAKE UP… (oh.. I guess in a way that is exactly what I am doing with this blog.. 🙂 )
But seriously, something really huge changed for me when I realized that they and nothing about they way that they operate/function/do life ~ was going to change. And then I decided that I was sick of it. When I gave up the hope that they were ever going to be nice to me, I was able to think in a new direction with more clarity and self-love and understanding.
Good to see you!!!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Step Grandma
I LOVED that movie.. I thought it was about the fog world too. The controllers in the situation had created a world where people were not allowed to think. I thought the movie was very true to life. (sadly) but someone broke through, (like me)!
AWESOME movie! 2 thumbs up! LOL
hugs, Darlene


Haha the “gifts”. I had to imagine that none of them had any taste or aesthetic sense rather than admit that they probably just picked up random crap to give me because they didn’t want to put any real consideration into it.
My aunt in particular was a pro at “regifting” but it would be stuff she’d already used and gotten fed up of. So she’d pass it off as this thoughtful gift you’d then have to show sufficient gratitude for.
My momster was the pro of getting me the knockoff version of what I really wanted or the “not really the thing you want but we’ll say it’s exactly what you asked for” And when I would inevitably show disappointment, I’d get punished for being ungrateful and upsetting my generous mother who was “just doing her best by getting you what you wanted”.


In case anyone is interested in a little bit of history I was asked to write an article for the Online Therapy Institutes Magazine “TILT” which stands for Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology about using Technology to get my message out as a helping professional. The article came out this week and I have re-posted it on the home page HERE! Read the back story of EFB from ‘A’ to today. Check it out!
hugs, Darlene


I think that these people have a different definition of the word “BEST” from what the word really means. I can hear my mother’s voice saying that she did her best… with a ‘but’ at the end and the ‘but’ contained all the excuses that excused her from actually doing her best. (now there is a sentence to think on.. LOL)
hugs, Darlene


“I think that these people have a different definition of the word “BEST” from what the word really means. I can hear my mother’s voice saying that she did her best… with a ‘but’ at the end and the ‘but’ contained all the excuses that excused her from actually doing her best.”

Agreed. I used to ask people what do you mean by “she (or dad) did the best they could?” I heard so many different variations it wasn’t funny. Some people said ‘well (deep subject), you’re mom tried to be a mom as she didn’t have the tools to be a mom so she kinda raised you.’ What?!? In the 60s-80s, weren’t there parenting books what they call in the public library? The “sacrifices” she made for us and what would that be? Haven’t heard or seen it she still lives in filth and abuse there’s no sacrifices for anybody but herself.

I told people and ex-therapist that I saw a hopeless, desperate, whore, useless, an embarrassing, fat, abused “little woman” who uses people at her own gain, refuses to get a job, uses white people as an excuse not to do anything (sounds like another version of the KKK), etc. My ex-therapist tried to get me to say she did do the best she could and told her ‘fuck no, I don’t know what you see as a mom that my mom “did the best she could.” You fed your 1st born daughter to my dad, who isn’t her dad, and he raped her. Really?!? How could you as a mom be okay in saying my mom did the best she could? Again, fed your child to a pedophile yet you don’t seem to find it wrong.’

Yep, ex-therapist shut up after that and told her I refuse to say “she/he did the best they could” because there isn’t any action of it. You can’t do the best you could when you’re out with other whores, never home with the family, not there for the kids, expect the kids to love/care for you knowing you were never home, have nothing nice to say about your kids’ achievements, etc. Saying oh yea, my parents did the best they could is actually abusive and lying to myself just to please people. Life is about actions, action-orientated and if a parent did absolutely nothing or did they something because it was a burden to them; then sorry, they didn’t do shit out of actual love, understanding, support, etc. Hmm, my parents treated everything “they did for us” as a huge burden like why do I have to take care of you?

Yes, with my parents, there’s a lot of “but’s” and “oh wells” with “I really don’t give a damn.” I tell people all the time listen very closely when they say I did my best but, I love you but, I am a mom/dad but, there is something screwy in their statements when they add the word but it changes the whole demeanor of the statement. Omg, that went over people’s heads when I said that plus ex-therapist completely disagree with what I said and told her ‘well, you never had anyone lie to you constantly all of your life I guess everything is fine in mandy pandy land, right?’ She was pissed when I said that!


I think when my Father dies, I will feel nothing, he left before I was born and aside from a couple of brief experiences, he has been nothing but a sperm donor.

I will be devastated when my Mom dies, this I know. Despite the fact that she never loved me like a Mother loves a daughter, I have always loved her like a daughter loves a Mother. This hole inside me where my Mother is supposed to be is very real for me. It is one of the many losses I have had to accept.

As a child I did lay down on the altar for her, I tried to take care of her and to protect her and my sister from the wrath of the monster she married. They in turn used me as a lightening rod and a scapegoat. I grieve daily for the loss of both them because I love them both and I always will.

I just see them now for who they are, it is unattractive, repulsive at times. I see them as broken, defective incapable of so many things that are requirements to being of good character. I imagine that I feel very much about them as they have always clearly felt about me.

I understand how they can say “I love you,” but like Darlene says, it isn’t the real love of equality. I no longer view them as my equals but I am saddened by their pains. It’s really weird, I not really sure how to describe it.


Kaycee, I’ve struggled so much with the whole “But we’ve always loved you Alice” thing when I was trying to get them to admit to abusive behavior. I couldn’t understand (and I still don’t) how my experience of their “love” could be so awful. I came to the conclusion that I don’t know what “love” is.
Also, it was as if by saying “But we’ve always loved you” my mother was yet again trying to dismiss my experience and feelings. In other words, “You got it wrong Alice, we have in fact always loved you”. I don’t know what actual feelings went with that statement for her. I’ve tried feeling what I approximate might be her actual feelings of “love” but it’s closer to fear than anything else. I mean I tried to feel “love” and it feels like fear.


Hi Darlene! Your comment got me wondering. On the one hand I think it’s possible that my mother did in fact do her “best” but that her best was just that awful because she wasn’t capable of better. For whatever reasons.
But her saying it is another thing completely. It’s like “I’m doing my best so you should be happy/ appreciate whatever I dole out. And you’re not allowed to say I suck or that you don’t like the way I treat you”. I’m not sure I nailed this one because it’s very confusing.


Hi Alice,
I think with my family, their “best” meant the best they could do for me within the bounds of their own agenda, but of course their agenda was in itself destructive to me, something they refused to look at, no matter how much I explained myself. They just didn’t want to know that and preferred to keep looking at all the ways they did their best. Even when they admitted to things they could have done better, it was still within their own agenda, what they decided was wrong, what they were willing to look at, instead of the specific things I brought up. I think the “we did our best” argument works for them as a general statement but when you start taking specific points, it doesn’t hold up.

The love thing—my family said they were the people who loved me the most. When I cut off from my parents the first time, they asked how I could do this to the people who loved me the most. I guess it was giving me the message that nobody could and would love me as much (and as well?) as they did. This, I have found is also complete hogwash, thank goodness. It’s no wonder I would want to keep my heart locked up for a long time if that’s what love is. With my mom, love felt vampiric, especially as I wanted to separate. It really had nothing to do with me. My dad, maybe he loved me but it was almost like it was from a distance; he needed to push me in front of my mom, have me give my mom what she wanted, so that he appreciated and loved me from over there. My brother, I don’t know. I’d seen emotion in him that I think meant he loved me, signs pointed to that, but I never felt a connection to him, never felt that he had any clue who I was. We’d led incredibly different lives. My own feelings of “love” for him were probably based in a kind of yearning… but I don’t know… you also spend so many years with these people that familiarity itself breeds a kind of love but none of this about action, and when their action goes in direct opposition of the idea of love, then the feeling for me runs dry. I suppose I can love them if I pull myself out of the picture, not consider my relationship to them, and see them simply as people/characters of their own; there’s a certain love there or appreciation for certain aspects of them, perhaps something of what I could see them as having been if they hadn’t been screwed up.


It is so confusing Alice! I have thought the same thing about my Mom, that she doesn’t know what love is, yet she treated me so differently than she did my sister that I do not understand how she can say she loved me at all. I understand the fear thing too, my Mom has an aura of fear around her but she masks it with her superior New Age spirituality.

My Mom acts like a deer in the headlights whenever I confront, like she is absolutely shocked and does not know how on earth I could ever come up with with I have to say. So often it is the deep sighs, the obvious disapproval, coupled with totally opposite behavior with my sister. I’ve noticed that even when I call her, there is a negative tone to her voice, but when I am with her and my sister calls she always gets an enthusiastic welcoming voice.

I haven’t broke off all contact, but I just don’t call her anymore. I stopped asking for any help at all with my son, most of the time she was busy with my sister and her kids anyway and if it were an emergency she would make a production out of changing her plans with my sister.

I have come to the conclusion that the way my family treats me has been going on since I was a small child and now I am in my late 40’s, it is like their truth about me is a foundation of the family. The idea that I am challenging now what has always been and what is ingrained as an integral part of our family dynamic is shocking to her.

I think the mere idea that she as my Mom did not love me is just an unacceptable. She may concede that she made mistakes, but will never admit how profoundly damaging they were too me or that I did not cause my own ill treatment.

It is almost like she had to work hard to be my Mother and instead of looking inside herself for the reason why, she looked at me and found reasons. With all of the things she found wrong with me, she considered her efforts to raise me saintly, something I was lucky to get at all and something she had to make great sacrifices for. It’s almost like in her mind, Mothering me was something extraordinary that she did and I am greedy and needy disturbed to think otherwise.

But no daughter grows up feeling so completely worthless, incompetent, so beneath everyone as I did in the presence of a loving Mother. That is just a cold, hard fact. It is surreal to me now, looking back and realizing how utterly devalued I was and continue to be in my family.

I followed the conversation of presents and the one on dolls. I had a stuffed animal collection that was my family growing. Sometimes I would choose the broken, beaten up ones off the shelf at the store because I felt sorry for them. I had to put everyone of them in my bed at night and would feel guilty if I woke up and one had fallen to the floor. For awhile I even slept on the floor and let them have my bed so none of them would get pushed off.

For my birthday I wanted this giant stuffed dog more than anything in the whole world. It was so beautiful and I prayed for it every night. When my birthday came,my Mom presented me with a giant box. I was so excited. I opened it and it was a giant, very creepy, chubby, red mouthed monkey. I was horrified and I burst out in tears. My Mom was so offended. I was considered ungrateful, selfish blah, blah, blah.

The thing scared me so bad, I had to cover it’s head at night or I could not sleep. For me, it felt like my Mom did not think I deserved something beautiful, the monkey was a representation of how my Mom felt about me. My guilt got the better of me for hating that monkey and I ended up feeling sorry for it and trying hard to love it, but it never got to sleep in my bed.

I wonder if the fear our Mother’s carry is their fear of facing their own truth, that something was horribly wrong with them and they rejected their own daughters.


I’ve told my family a long time in the past that if what they were giving me was love I didn’t want it!

I was also told that they were the only ones who would ever tell me the truth about me. Everyone else was just being polite. They never meant anything nice that they said, so I needed my family to keep me in line.

There was no place I could turn to feel acceptable. There was never a point that I could do enough to get my mother’s acceptance.

I had the huge AHA moment recently, and I’ve learned to trust that some people are genuinely more caring than my family could be on their best days. It’s made a big difference for me.



I’m loving the comments about love and confusion above. I want to take some time to let them sink in.

I also wanted to add something about the presents. In case people were thinking it was just a spoiled kid thing to do/say.

My parents would give me money to help me buy THEM the things they wanted for their birthdays. We’re not talking a sweet card and pasta-necklace. It was actual good expensive shop-bought stuff like tools and clothing, perfume…I just realised how strange that is. And god forbid I ever forgot a momster’s birthday or anniversary of some kind. In exchange it would be sulks and reproaches. So on the one hand I’d get punished for a natural reaction of having my expectations disappointed but momster would punish me for her own disappointment. God this is twisted. Anyway, so I think this is also where I learned it was good to give good expensive things to people, things people want and like. But don’t expect anything from anyone and you should be grateful if you get anything more than nothing at all. I suppose the positive side of this might be that I’m not very materialistic but the negative has definitely been that I think I can buy people’s affection by giving them stuff.


Kaycee, that’s a horrible thing to do to a child!

I had some stuffed animals that were mine and one that I thought was mine but which later on turned out to be momster’s. I was clearing out a cupboard in my room one day. Maybe I was 10, 11, 12. I was clearing out the stuffed animals because I had decided I didn’t need them anymore, or that I wasn’t a kid or whatever. I remember crying into those stuffed animals when I was upset and that it bothered my mother that I would go “running” to them for comfort. Later on it bugged her that I’d go “running” to the (not stuffed) dog or the cat or the rabbit in tears. Or that I’d go isolate myself in my room. Or that I’d just leave the house. It was as if she didn’t like me finding comfort in anything.

And so I was putting the stuffed animals into this bag for the trash and my mom came in to look at what I was doing and when she saw me putting this bigger stuffed animal into the garbage bag she ripped it out of my hands and screamed that I had no right to throw it away because it was in fact hers and had been given to HER by the women at her last job. I was just sort of shocked. had no idea it was hers given it had been with me since I was a baby so I just told her that she could have it because I didn’t need or want it anymore and that seemed to make her freak out even more.

And on a few more occasions, right up into my twenties I’d learn that something I’d thought was mine wasn’t, or wasn’t entirely. And I’d learn it because she’d take it back. And it included “gifts”.


Kaycee, I have also been thinking about how the way they treat me has really been going on my whole life. The gloves really never came off, though, until my Dad died. He was really a fan of all his kids and he treated his sons-in-law like they were his own sons. He did always tell us, though, that our mother is a saint and he was blind to any fault of hers. I think that my Mom probably didn’t really want another child as my next sibling to me is 10 years older and she was in her 40s when I was born. I didn’t really want another child when I was in my 40s either, so I don’t know that I would judge her if she was just honest with me about that!!

Darlene, I don’t know if you’re reading this or if you remember what we talked about on the phone, but you kept urging me to look a bit more at my relationship with that next oldest sibling, who had a child who was given up for adoption when I nine years old. She is the “nice one”. She also has an eating disorder, is extremely mistrustful of any and everyone, esp those in the medical profession (which I am). She never had any other children and she and her husband are basically hermits. In any case, I haven’t really done anything active to push back at her since we spoke, but I also stopped deferring to her and her weirdness. She is the one who selected the crappy necklace for my 50th. I am starting to see that she is not really so nice after all and also starting to see that everyone has essentially stopped calling her on anything for the last 40 years because she gave a child up for adoption when she was nineteen. Couple that with my feeling that I really have no value– OUCH!! So all your good work was not for nothing– it just needed to brew for a few months.

Take care everyone and good night from the USA!


Oh, just another thought on love and fear. I used to think that I was “afraid of intimacy” because I feared that people who got to know me better would realize who I am and how worthless I am and start mistreating me. I’d be afraid of people being kind because I wouldn’t trust it or I’d tell myself they were only being polite or kind because they didn’t know me well enough and that that would soon change as they got to know me better. I just realised that’s all wrong. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them if they mistreat and disrespect me. If they do so it is because they DO NOT LOVE me, not because they do.
“Equality or nothing” 🙂


This was the same ultimatium I gave to my mother a few years ago. I told her that I was willing to have a relationship with her again–like before, when we visited fairly often and talked on the phone twice a week–when she was willing to raise my status as equal to her other children. She said that she “loved me” as much as her other children. I said I didn’t know if that was the case, but I would be willing to forgo love if she was willing to give me equal respect.

Last week Mom had knee surgery. She called me a few days before to let me know she was scheduled for the surgery, and that it was possible that she might die (because that’s what happened to Joan Rivers, you know). I told her that she wasn’t going to die, but not to worry, because if she did die, she would get to go to that heavenly home that she has been waiting to see. She said, “Well, I just wanted to get the chance to talk to you in case I should die.” I told her that was nice.

She called me after her operation. My sister, who has not been in contact with me for almost a year, texted me to say she had made it through surgery. She wanted me to come to see her at the hospital. So I came with my husband. My husband, the big, tall and silent type, as usual, didn’t say much. I let her do all the talking, which she happily did–mostly about her. She asked how I was doing, and I said, the same old, same old. I have learned not to talk about any of my challenges–at work, with my marriage, or my kids–because she usually chalks it up to some major or minor personality defect if not a physical one. If I complained, for example, that I went to a store and was treated rudely by a clerk, she would tell me that it was because I was overweight and that’s how the world treats the overweight. If I was embarrassed by a mistake I made at work, she would start in about her fears that I am undiagnosed ADHD. So I have learned not to share. After 40 minutes or so of our “visit” I told Mom that my husband Arno and I had to go because we had not get had supper. As soon as I got the words out, it was as if she hadn’t heard them, and started acting as though she had to shoo us out the door because it was time for her B.M. (She had to be in control of the situation).

A friend of mine, a family therapist, after relating this story, told me that she thinks my mom is a covert narcicist, and in looking up the definitions of this, it made perfect sense. She certainly behaves in this way, and especially the narcisists treatment of her scapegoat. I could go on and on but I will not.

I realized she really basks in the attention of being in the hospital and having my father care for her. I wondered why she wanted me there, since she didn’t ask me about myself. For the last year or so, I’ve been calling her about once a month. What I found worked was to let her talk all about herself. She feels really happy being able to do so. But often she finds a way to change the subject to one of my perceived “problems.” Some kind of failing. I was a fairly good student in high school and an excellent university student, but she often seems to like to talk about some of my early difficulties (I started kindergarten at four and it took a couple of years to catch up with motor skills. I also have a mild auditory processing disorder, which I compensate for by taking good notes and asking people to repeat information I don’t understand). But she makes it seem like I was a developmentally delayed child. Any “real” problem I had was more or less an emotional one that started after age 7 and when the scapegoating began. My problem started with being scapegoated at home, which made me lose my confidence and within two years I was scapegoated at school, and it has continued in many of my relationships, including extended family and in my ethnic-religious community. When I chose me, I chose to walk away from ALL of it, my mother, my family, my extended family, and my ethnic-religious community, that was the only thing that restored my self-concept. My new friends, now going on six years, don’t bully me, and those who have shown signs of being covert aggression I have quickly moved on from.

One of the strange things my mom did–when I cut them off like that–was to track down a woman she didn’t know, who ran a small store out in the middle of the country over an hour from her home. She actually showed up at her store and identified herself as my mother. I don’t know what happened or what words were exchanged, but something happened, as this woman cooled off from me shortly thereafter. So I have had to protect my Facebook account from her so she cannot see who my new friends are. Today, I talked to a woman whose mother was also a narcissist, and she told me that she had to do the same, as her mother would try to befriend her friends to tell them “the truth about her.” After cutting off contact, her mother even tried to convince her landlord to let her into her apartment (she found out where she was living) and she had to file a restraining order against her. I don’t think my case is that critical, but I have found whenever my friends are exposed to my mother and my two sisters, I lose these friends, and there has to be a positive correlation. All my friends either have figured it out on their own about my family, or have had no exposure to them at all.

Sorry for the long dialogue here. I feel like I am making some real progress. I read everyone’s posts every day. I can especially relate to Kaycee, as so many of her experiences are identical to mine.


*Sorry, just realized I contracted myself. My mom, asked, yes “How are you doing?” at he hospital as a formality, like saying “hi” or “how are you liking the weather?” but not in the way one says when they are making an true inquiry, the type that is usually followed by, “How’s the job going, have you heard from your sons,” etc. that would clearly indicate she had an actual interest in my life. I think she just wanted to be able to tell people that all her kids came to the hospital.


Hi Darlene, I know who that little girl was in the photo, it was me. I wrote on here a few years back and it helps me to read all these posts . Your confirmation that I wasn’t the only one who suffered from silent neglect helped me a lot. I still try to come up with diagnoses of myself like I have autism or fragile x or other labels to justify their abuse. When really there is none. when I have seen patients who are severely mentally retarded and cant talk and the family all love and gather round this adult in Love. It makes it hit harder that I was normal but feel the need to diagnose myself with a disorder to make the abusers more innocent. My father disowned me as alive being when I was around 5. He shut me out of his consciousness, never acknowledging that I exist. He gave me the silent treatment 99% of my life and the few times he did speak it was less then 4 words at a time. My other 3 siblings where treated well and normal. They all now give me the silent treatment as well. I am included in nothing except the rare child birthday. They seem to want met there like a statue but not alive on occasions. My mother says she is not aloud to speak of me to the other family members without them getting angry. What I ever did , I don’t know. I do know this is all I have ever known. So I live alone with my 3 children, isolated. I am bullied at work and I have few friends. How I survived was by my personal relationship with Christ. Many miracles from God have come to me and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my hope and love of Christ and my kids. I wish I could share the miracles on here .But you would probably not believe them. In my suffering I have developed into a more compassionate and kind person.If I hadn’t gone threw the nightmare of an existence I don’t know if I would be where I am today in my relationship with Christ so in that it is a blessing.I still suffer from social anxiety disorder and low self esteem. But I am a survivor and I have forgiven my father and siblings and my mother for being an inablier.I do have a remote relationship with my dad and brothers seeing them at family functions once a year but my sister who hates me severely for no reason. I haven’t seen in 5 years.WHich I have excepted as it is what it is.I have taken pictures in the clouds out of faith and it shows on the same shooting period ,(picture of Jesus face in the clouds)and of GOds face on another shot and angels. As well as the face of a lion. I took these picture driving home after feeling the presence of God in the sky and took them with my cell phone. I didn’t see the images until I got home and looked at what I took. Everyone including my pastor see the miracle in the photos. The night I prayed to God to see his face and miracles. I completely forgot about it and 2 days later is when I felt the need to take the pictures. I wanted to share that, even if you think I am crazy because Hope in a bigger purpose is a miracle in itself and I wanted to share that with all who suffer like I did or differently.


This is a poem I wrote after my family betrayed me. We are still struggling, have to go to food banks just to get food. Still so angry and I don’t’ know if I will ever get over it.


Julie, your statement hit me straight in the heart: “I still try to come up with diagnoses of myself like I have autism or fragile x or other labels to justify their abuse. When really there is none. when I have seen patients who are severely mentally retarded and cant talk and the family all love and gather round this adult in Love.”

I, too, have done this constantly. After five years of psychotherapy, my therapist has told me I don’t have any major personality disturbances, just some mild anxiety. I don’t appear have any personality disorder. I’ve discussed my (self-diagnosed) learning disabilities and she says I follow a spectrum of normal learning differences that most everyone has, and the proof is that I have had a fairly normal life. She agrees if I suffer from anything in a profound it is mostly low self-esteem and she thinks I have made leaps and bounds in gaining a more health self-concept. I kept asking, “Are you sure?” because in some way, I would have wanted to give them some sort of “out” to justify their abuse.

I think your statement explains my mother, who often wants to discuss “what is wrong with me” to justify her and my family’s mistreatment.


Hi Jane
Yes I remember! Your note reminds me of how I had to clear the wreckage of my life and belief system in order to begin to think with clarity and see the truth about everything. The clarity didn’t come all at once, in fact I am still getting it more and more. My siblings are all victims of the same family dysfunction that I am victim of but that doesn’t mean that I have to accept it when they treat me in a bad way.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I’ve been to therapy several times in my life. At least twice, if not more often, my first visit to a new therapist has prompted the question, “do your parents drink?” In my latest therapy, I think the work is in helping me see myself as a pretty normal (average?) person who is dealing with a long history of abuse.


I am wondering after reading all of these experiences everyone has had if our parents had a twisted sense of entitlement. I mean, is it okay to completely screw up your children because of ignorance, because of unresolved issues of one’s own, for any reason at all?

Those of us who do have children know that it is in fact, very literally impossible to be a perfect parent. I know I have made many mistakes. The thing is, overall, I am a really great Mom.

There are some situations where I do my “best” and it might not be good enough, like when I stepped up to help my son’s soccer team when we lost the team parent and I did not know the ropes. I did the best I could. I wasn’t the most spectacular team Mom ever, but I did a passable job and we had fun with it.

What does doing your best really mean? I always love my child, doing my best just doesn’t even seem to be a word I would use to describe my relationship with him. That idea seems only to fit into certain situations we find ourselves in, occasionally my best has to do.

But I always love my child unconditionally, God help anyone who tries to hurt him, I will protect him to my dying breath and his happiness and well being are the number one priority in my life. Doing one’s best just seems like a misfit word to describe raising a child.

I have been known to camp outside of department stores waiting for UPS deliveries to get that special toy he desires with all of his heart. I’ve never hit my child, but every once in a blue moon I get really angry and yell. I know how to say I’m sorry to him.

Sometimes I am at my best, sometimes I am at my worst, but that doesn’t change my maternal instincts or cause that connection I have with my son to falter. I take him at his best and his worst and it’s all good. He’s allowed to not be perfect and have bad days too. My son and I are very real.

And ladies, these are profound comments about trying to figure out what is wrong with us. I have spent my whole life trying different anti depressants, sleeping pills, anti anxiety meds, jumping all over the place, reading every book. I wanted to get my degree in education but I got it in psychology instead because I wanted to figure out what was wrong with me.

I held my family in such high regard and believed I was so far beneath them that it never occurred to me that maybe they were the problem. I am very aware now when I am around them of the constant messages that devalue me. Yesterday I came up with an idea for a birthday party and I got the rolling of eyes and the slight chuckle.

No, I don’t get to have a good idea, my ideas are bad. It is a constant my bad, my bad, my bad. It becomes a meeting of the superiors tolerating my presence and interruptions out of their supreme goodness. Sometimes they might even act like I’m a little bit cute, childlike, needing constant discipline, direction and guidance.

If I were to say anything about this, I would be rejected. I get a constant barrage of this kind of treatment when I am around them. Inside I feel like a dog trying to please it’s master. I tuck in my tail and try to do better.

It is a vastly confusing, twisted thing because what they are calling their love for me is exactly what hurts, it is what devalues, it is what drives me away. All I can bring it back to in the end is what Darlene says, I am not an equal and their love isn’t a real love based on equality. It is a tainted love that pushes me down instead of lifting me up.


Yes! I had huge issues with that too, big fears etc. But in the end it is only the truth that makes the difference. There is a wrong way to treat people and realizing that the way ppl. treated me wasn’t MY fault, or about me, was huge. When we grow up navigating through smoke and fire, it becomes survival and it becomes all we know.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Jsmth,
Welcome to EFB and thank you for sharing your poem.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Julie
About your mom not being allowed to speak to you or other family members will get angry ~ that is one of those things that I call a “truth leak” because she is blaming other people for her choice as if she doesn’t have one of her own. SHE is your mother! She has a choice ~ SO what if ‘they’ get angry! (this struck a nerve in me because it is so typical for a parent to do this and it is pathetic)
Thank you for sharing your victories and miracles!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Kaycee
Entitlement is a huge part of the problem and it was huge for me to see that there IS no entitlement in a relationship based on equal value or real love. There are a couple things that really help me to remember regarding some of your points here: ~ one is ‘motive’ ~ it helped me to see the truth about several things (including things about me and my imperfection etc) by looking at the motive. (Is the motive for love or is it for control ~ that one thing helps me almost every day)
hugs, Darlene


Wow, Darlene, it is amazing how one small sentence can make such an impact. “Is the motive for love or is it for control?” That just stopped me in my tracks when I read it.


This was exactly like I felt most of the time, with most people “Inside I feel like a dog trying to please it’s master. I tuck in my tail and try to do better.”
Now when I feel it I have to look at why. Something is getting triggered.

I’ve also read so many “self-help” books and the “doctor” diagnosis tended to be “anxiety”.
I’m angry they put me through all that just to fit their vision of “family”.


This entitlement thing is also an issue that I can relate to and see in my family between my mother, my siblings and me.

After the suicide of my father my mother could claim several titles like “faithful widow”, “sacrificially caring MOTHER” who “undoubtedly did her best” and since my sister has become a MOTHER herself, the ultimate title GRANDMOTHER has been awarded to her too.

My title within my family changes according to the circumstances and what fits best at the moment from “the scapegoat of the family”, “the black sheep of the…”, “the mentally unstable lunatic of…”, “the depressive-addictive-useless- good-for-nothing loser of the family” etc.

And that is why for years I have been ignored, labeled and put at the end of the food chain. They think of me as somebody who hasn’t achieved anything in life although “we gave you all we could and you had all those chances and opportunities in life that others would have wished they had had”, “it is your own fault that you couldn’t even get a degree after college and all these lost years at university where after ten years you finally had the boldness to seek for help and got into therapy – what a shame! You are a traitor who betrayed his own mother and his family because he wanted a life – how disgusting and pitiable is that?

Today I know my truth and I know why they are so afraid to take a look at it. They would have to recognize that they betrayed themselves long ago just to live in an illusion of a family they never had.


“Inside I feel like a dog trying to please it’s master.”

From Kaycee’s comment #176

That was me for the better part of my life, and I am sure I developed that ‘need to please’ for the most part from my grandmother on my dad’s side. My grandmother was a big presence in my life up till when I was around fifteen or sixteen when she then moved a few hundred miles away to live with my uncle and his family.

My grandmother is mostly the one that got me to where I attempted to read people’s minds to learn if whatever I was doing, whatever that might have been at any given time, was acceptable to whoever I might be around (be it an employer, fellow employee, an acquaintance, or even a stranger I was passing on the street).

My grandmother had a way of making these facial grimaces to indicate either her pleasure or displeasure with the way people around her were conducting themselves.

The dog analogy, though it does apply to me, it also applies to my grandmother. These past years when I thought about my relationship with my grandmother I saw her as being like a puppy dog that was wanting acknowledgement.


Yes, Darlene!, thanks for the reminder! I forget that trying to figure them out is like being on hamster wheel, I go round and round in circles, deplete all of my energy and never get anywhere.

It is about control and about having power over me, And sometimes I think the fear is another manipulative tool in the box of tactics used to control me rather than an actual psychopathology.

Like when my Mother recently called me and I was really sick. I had taken care of my son for a week, slept with him, held him through his fever and I caught whatever he had. The first thing out of her mouth was “Well nobody else got sick” and she said it with both alarm and a slight edge. Something is wrong with me, I did something wrong, I got sick, why would I go and do that? What is wrong with me?

All that because I caught a bug? Of course, she would deny meaning anything by it, it would be me misinterpreting her intention, something she tells me all of the time, that I assign intentions to her that she does not have. She was just worried, that’s all.

Alice, yeah, my stepfather used to remind me my Father didn’t want anything to do with me and would always say “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” I have always felt like a stray my Mom picked up on the side of the road and that she loves the idea of me being a “rescue” a theme she played out with me over and over again.


Hi Darlene,

“Entitlement is a huge part of the problem and it was huge for me to see that there IS no entitlement in a relationship based on equal value or real love.” I recognize myself having behaved in this manner with a boyfriend. And I see it in couples quite often too. It’s nothing I want to do to anyone else nor have done to me. But people have so often done it to me. I think it goes with the “dog” attitude.

My family does not function with equality as its foundation. It functions (or rather dysfunctions) with hierarchy and duty as its foundation. And that duty is laid on its incoming members by those with more power or higher up in the hierarchy.

I think the only way I would have gotten respect (or higher up on the ladder) from the others would have been if I had ‘achieved’ the things they believed set them higher up. Like becoming a “mother” (oh sanctity of the role) or getting married (acquiring status, but it would have to be to the “right” person as far as they defined it). Or perhaps caretaking for an elder. Or maybe earning much more money than any of them. Or perhaps doing something none of the others could do really well. Certainly I tried the latter. But none of what I tried worked.

And in discussion with Darlene, I realised that probably NONE of the things I tried would have worked. And from the accounts here, no amount of having children or professional success or not success (the time I said “screw that” or any combination thereof will change things. And at any time they can shift the ffing goalposts again and redefine what it will take for them to “respect” you. Fuck that.

Equality or nothing.


Kaycee, that’s something I have also heard “Don’t bite the hand that feeds”. Weird as hell for a parent to say. Don’t you think?


Oliver, my brother and I shared those epithets turn by turn. But there always had to be a “problem person” (child or adult) to focus on. And sometimes it was another family member but there was always at least one.

My brother is (maybe, I don’t speak with any of them) or at least was ‘golden’ at one moment because he stepped up to the plate of the duties that they laid before him and he also got a leg-up in the hierarchy by doing things they approved of (getting married, adopting a child, caretaking of an elder). And that I refused. Because yes I wanted my life. My life that was not with them.

And my mother would say, in that way of mixed messages “But you just go on and get on with your own life Alice.” “It’s your life, Alice” “It’s your choice.” As if there was an alternative of some kind. To me it was my life or die with them (maybe I wouldn’t have died but I couldn’t bear it) So I felt so guilty that I was living MY life. My mother’s message kept ringing in my ears. But the ringing is only half-there these days and I count that as considerable progress.


Eira, my mother’s “How are you?” is a request for the answer to that question to be “fine” and move right on to whatever you can do for her.

If I answered something like, “Well, I’m really struggling right now with X at work and I think it’s consequent to my upbringing. Remember that time when you YXZ? Why did you do that?” I wouldn’t even get past the first sentence. That line of discussion got shut down every single time I tried to address it. And I kept trying.


Alice (166)

The stuffed animal comments really hit close to home. I felt as if I had no one or nothing to love in my FOO home. The stuffed animals and dolls became my pretend family since there were no pets. It’s weird but my Narc mom and dad became jealous of my stuffed animal relationships. They wanted me to be alone and a victim with nothing to love.

There were serious boundary issues among us regarding material goods. My Narc mom had so much but of course it was never enough. Is this my sweater or is it hers? My Narc mom could come into my room and “borrow” things without asking. If the item was returned damaged then so what? Nobody cared about my things. I was too afraid to challenge her. I recall once “borrowing” her sweater without asking permission since that was her style with me. She gave me a big verbal and nearly physical fight over the incident. I learned how not to be too pretty or own nice things so as not to upset my Narc mom. I remember once walking home from school with a new friend to my house. I tried to invite my new friend inside and I said something like, “welcome to my house”. Then my Narc mom who was in the kitchen heard this and she replied back rather angrily, “I guess you can call it “your house!” It seems like my Narc mom wanted to make the kid know that I was only the daughter and not the homeowner! Like, duh! A minor comment made her very territorial. There are many more incidents to describe. I can recall asking my Narc mom if I could keep a certain coat in the closet that she no longer wore or even wanted. No, she would not give me the much needed coat which just fit me, but she later gave away boxes of clothing (including the coat) and items to a thrift store.

Eira (173)

My Narc mom and dad have both tried to gossip constantly about me to their social friends. They would say, “we don’t know what to do about our daughter!” They tried to blame me, their daughter, as being a really bad kid. The problem with their strategy is that they had NOTHING on me. I was an honors student at a private school. I was well behaved with no drug/alcohol addictions, no teenage delinquency, or teen pregnancy. They tried to label me with “depression” and a “chemical imbalance” of the brain. I know in my heart and mind that there was NOTHING wrong with me. These shrinks are very quick to judge and they only want to stay in business. These so-called professionals can be brainwashed by the parents and never believe the teen’s story. Yes, my parents tried to label me so as to divert attention away from them. I wish these older adults and shrinks could have seen my parents and given them a label!

Kaycee (183)

I liked your stray dog comment. It wasn’t bad enough that these sadistic parents abused me, but then they wanted me to be profusely grateful to them for the basics in life. How much does a child need to thank parents for food and a roof over their head? I was constantly reminded of those less fortunate kids who never have enough to eat and live in not the best neighborhoods. So I was made to feel ashamed for being an average kid. There was never anything that I could say or do to change their abuses.

Now in my adult life there is no love between my parents and me. I have never been respected for any of my talents and accomplishments. How interesting is it that my Narc mom never had any college or career, but she can so freely attack my career and money? I have never been able to be myself. My parents are perfect strangers to me, but I care greatly about others including past romances, current friends, and coworker friends. I will not miss my parents when they die. It will be a great burden released and a joy and freedom to live for.

I am so grateful for my wonderful religions of Celtic Paganism–(Druids/Wicca).My spirituality has been the joyful foundation of my life. There were days when I felt like I had nothing to live for after I moved out of my parents’ house when I was in my early 20’s. I would wear a small, sterling pentacle pendant on a long chain around my neck under my shirt. It gave me the strength to carry on. I found a religion that empowered me with self-knowledge through meditation and divination. I gained self understanding by having my astrological natal chart done and seeing the very best psychics. I felt a peacefulness through honoring the earth, animals, and ancestors. I have cleared out so much of my past child abuse issues through ritual. My atheist-engineer father was afraid of me as a kid since I was so psychic and “knew things” that others could not tune into. My parents were so concerned with social pressure that they forced me into the Catholic Church. That was a very abusive experience for me with mean nuns in high school. I later joined a big Baptist Church after I moved to AZ but I got nothing out of it. I learned to shut down as a teenager and then in my 20’s my mediumship came back even stronger. Almost every past apartment and now my house has had ghosts and spirits—of the good kind and I have learned house clearings! LOL! I have received divine messages through dreams from Norse and Celtic god/desses. I lived in a somewhat haunted house as a child (first of two houses in Seattle) and my father knew it, but he didn’t want to hear it. When I was older in my 20’s living in Arizona, my friend from a Spiritualist Church told me that it’s good that I had the common sense to keep my mouth shut since it would have driven even more of a wedge between me and my father. My father could not understand me and he was afraid of me. Because my father was afraid of me, he became more abusive toward me. It’s strange since I have dealt with a lot of very jealous people toward me and I’m considered shy and a wallflower. I can be very stubborn and have a mouth and temper on me when I’m provoked! LOL! I have been a message medium in the Spiritualist Church. I like to believe that my past child abuse sharpened my psychic talents since most natural mediums have been abused. I feel that part of my life mission is to help others with house clearings and becoming a pro reader! I don’t know what my true path is yet….still learning and growing! Thanks all for reading! Blessed Be!


I got a smile out of reading your post tonight ~ YA equality or nothing.
Like you said and I know I have said this before, but I got married and he was successful, and I had kids and bla bla bla but it wasn’t enough anyway. I think partly why I finally gave up was because I realized that *I* was NEVER going to be enough in their eyes. (and I started to catch on to the way that I defined.) But here is the thing about respect; if my mother ‘respected me’ I might suddenly realize that I really AM equal to her and then she would no longer have control… so you can see why she would never want to give me the respect that I want.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene’s answer to Julie: About your mom not being allowed to speak to you or other family members will get angry ~ that is one of those things that I call a “truth leak” because she is blaming other people for her choice as if she doesn’t have one of her own. SHE is your mother! She has a choice ~ SO what if ‘they’ get angry! (this struck a nerve in me because it is so typical for a parent to do this and it is pathetic.”

Bravo, Darlene! You are exactly right, and it only confirms a hunch I have had about my family. I have mentioned I am completely NO CONTACT with my two sisters, and am low contact with my mother. (Which doesn’t really make sense to me because I know my mom is really the instigator and they are really just her flying monkeys. Perhaps its only because I still would like something to do with my dad and one of my brothers who still lives with them).

Once I told my mother that the power of making me a 1st class citizen in the family was really in her hands. I asked her to quit having discussions and gossip sessions about me with my sisters, and that if she changed her attitude toward me, she, as the matriarch of the family, has all the power of turning the situation around. Both sisters are “golden” children though the oldest sister was really in the #1 golden spot for a quarter century until the younger sister married a man who has a knack for wealth creation while Golden #1 has a rather jerky/cocky husband who is very alpha male and offends people. It is funny but growing up golden #1 was the one who bullied me relentlessly and overtly, but has golden #2 hit the #1 slot her bullying me has been more enormous and actually, more covert. Anyway, I challenged her to “walk the walk,” thereby actually “loving us all equally” she could prove this by no longer initiating or participating denigrating conversations about me. I asked her to stick up for me like she does her golden children. I told her she had the POWER to make it stop and to create late in life the close family she has always imagined. Darlene, her face crumpled. She was lost for words. She didn’t know what to say. She then tried denying it, but I told her that my own son has overheard these conversations. I told her that they have happened, which is terrible, or my teenage son is lying to me to make me feel bad. I never did get a clear answer from her. There wasn’t one.


Yvonne, the house was theirs and I just lived there. That was made very clear to me by both my parents. My mom would tell me that “Once you have your own house Alice you can do what you want.” And so of course I resolved to get one of these “own house” as soon as it was possible!
At school there was a mock appartment for teaching “home economics” in and I would often fantasize that I lived there.

There are so many things my mother used to say and do that I’ve realised I took quite literally. Maybe that’s a bit stupid of me but I didn’t have the option to ask what was meant by anything. That was considered “impudent” and the response “Just get on with it. Get a move on Alice. Just do it.” A “child” was not supposed to question anything. I also remember the “seen and not heard” injuction when I was very young and visiting grandparents. I remember being very upset by it.

I think all kids go through painful experiences with their family as part of growing up. It’s probably not possible for a parent not to inadvertently hurt their child at some point. But maybe the difference is in the openess, honesty and compassion of the parents in response to that hurt.

I don’t know. I think I do know that denying they ever hurt you, that they were “just doing their best” or that it was your fault for any reason (“you were difficult”) or that you’ve “chosen” to view your own childhood in such a negative light just serves to compound the original pain and confuse the person to whom the pain is caused.
I think in adult terms that is quite readily recognized as abusive.


There exists a photo that was taken when I was 9. It was taken by my father on an Easter Sunday. In the photo are my two older brothers, my younger sister and myself. We are holding our Easter Baskets and the lollipop that each of us had received. Our father had said to hold up the lollipops high and smile. I tried. I loved my father. My lollipop, however, still wrapped in its cellophane, was shattered into hundreds of pieces. I could not smile.

The picture, which I remember seeing later, shows my brothers and my sister holding their lollipops up high and smiling. I think their happiness is genuine. I, on the other hand, can be seen holding up my shattered lollipop in front of me, but not high. I am looking at my feet, defeated.

When I was in college many years later, I wrote a poem about why my lollipop was in a hundred pieces that day and why I was ashamed. It was unusual the way I wrote this poem, because I had never written anything before like the way I wrote this poem. The words were written on the paper in front of me as if I were possessed by two spirits. One of them was the boy I was when I was 9. The other was the narrator of truth, providing only facts.

The truth speaker would say factual statements such as, “Dean woke up at 3am and saw his Easter basket,” and, “When he put the basket back it slipped from his hand and fell five feet to the floor, being that he was on the top bunk of a bunk bed.”

The 9 year old Dean would write the next verse with his feelings about the event. Little Dean would say, “I must be a horrible child if my own mother is whisper-screaming at me with such hatred and venom. She has to be right, because she is my mother and loves me and knows what is best.”

The lollipop did not shatter when the Easter basket hit the floor and alerted my mother that something horrible had happened and that had sent me into a state of panic, knowing that I had done something grievously wrong. No, the lollipop had somehow fallen on to my bed. As my mother was leaving, after she had sufficiently spewed forth her righteous indignation and hatred of me, she looked over and saw the lollipop next to my right leg.

Visibly, I could see her body go into a rage. As she whisper-screamed at me some more, she quickly grabbed the lollipop, raised it high in the air and hit my right thigh with enough force to shatter the candy inside the cellophane. Luckily, it retained its shape. I also retained my shape on the outside.


Charles, it makes it so difficult to confront when they use body language instead of words. My mother literally takes a deep sigh, frowns visibly, turns her face and sometimes her whole body away from me and then says she has no idea what I am talking about if I confront her. It is maddening.

I do that constant reading of people too, I am working on saying no and removing myself from people who make me uncomfortable. I have always been a people pleaser and I realize now how much that has made me a target. That idea that I will do anything if you will just like me has gotten me into some seriously bad situations in the past.


Alice I have thinking a great deal about fear since you mentioned it. Fear, worry, panic, they all have prominent roles in my family.

I noticed when I was having one of my very infrequent visits with a family member this week, I mentioned something I was doing and she immediately jumped in with disapproval “Be careful, you could…..”

It was an aha moment. This is one of the ways they covertly cause me to question my own judgement and make me feel like I am incompetent and dependent on them. They are not used to me making decisions without checking with them first. They are compelled to give me dire warnings about everything I choose to do. I am reckless, the most trivial things can be turned into dark looming mistakes that can ruin my whole life and that of my family.

The thing is, the decision I made that bothered her so is not only trivial and inconsequential, it was a solid, good decision that is already proving to be of benefit. Still, she wholeheartedly disapproved and behaved as if I had done something gravely, seriously wrong.

Not long ago I booked a small family getaway and my Mother immediately had to call a friend because she was sure I picked a hotel in a terribly dangerous place. It was a very expensive, five star hotel and the area was absolutely perfect, but she had to scare me and make me feel like I was going to get my family hurt because I am not even capable of planning a three day trip.

My sister used to tell me as a child if I did not do what she wanted to do and if I went off and left her, she would get kidnapped and killed and it would be all my fault, so she always got to pick where we went and what we did.

I have never realized how much they have used fear to control me and to reinforce the idea that I am incompetent, dependent and completely incapable of doing anything on my own. No wonder I turned down every chance of a promotion and have settled into a small comfort zone that I rarely venture out of.


I find it coincidental and extremely opportune that I read your article yesterday, Darlene. Only recently have I begun to truly understand the depth of the damage that was done to my self-esteem when I was a child by the constant disregard of my feelings and thoughts.

These days, I seem to keep realizing that things could have been so much different if my parents would have been able to listen to what I was feeling. I often think that these days because I am having difficulty finding a therapist who is able to listen well. (Long story that I will save for another time.)

Not having someone right now to truly empathize is also why I was moved so strongly moved by your words. You were able to give me empathy and insight by just clearly expressing your thoughts and feelings of your experiences. Thank you for this.

I am still overwhelmed by the feelings I have rigtht now after reading your post on the blog. It really hit a nerve with me because of the photo story that I have shared. This story, along with a few others, encapsulate the many years of abuse that I experienced at the hand of my mother and neglect caused by my father’s denial.

I am looking forward to reading more of the comments and am excited to know that there is a community available with which I can share my story and who will understand. I recently tried to talk with my sister about the abuse and neglect, thinking that she was more mentally healthy than I was. I was shocked and deeply hurt by her response. I love my sister dearly; we used to be best friends when we were children and were struggling to survive in a violent atmosphere. Yet, when I wrote and told her that Mom violated me when I was 8 and that I attempted suicide when I was 10, she has chosen to inore what I have written and pretend that I didn’t say it. It hurts more than I ever thought it could.


Hi Dean
Welcome to EFB ~ Your photo story of the lollipop was hauntingly appealing to me. It really touched me. I really get it and I felt your pain through it. I am sorry that your sister was not able to hear you either. I understand that pain as well. I write a lot in my book about how I realized that because I was ‘defined’ by my family I believed that I could only be re-defined by them. But I learned to re-define myself by seeing all the lies I believed about myself because of the damage that goes along with abuse and dysfunctional family.
I am really glad that you are here!
This is a very active community of people.
hugs, Darlene


Alice ~
YES the difference is the willingness to HEAR the child! I am referring to what you said here: “I think all kids go through painful experiences with their family as part of growing up. It’s probably not possible for a parent not to inadvertently hurt their child at some point. But maybe the difference is in the openess, honesty and compassion of the parents in response to that hurt.”
It is all about the response and in dysfunctional family the response is about them defending themselves and making the child wrong. Defending themselves ~ All about them… uggg.
p.s. I am not a perfect mother, but I empower my kids to talk about what they want to talk about and feel what they feel EVEN if I feel defensive, I don’t have to make it about me.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene! Yes. And layer upon layer of this dysfunctional approach (although I hate that word, as if there is a “functional” approach of some kind that people actually know about and could employ) to the child sinks like sediment into their growing personality to protect the hurt parts. But that just turns a live person into a rock. I described it to myself as being partially dead.


Layer upon layer. Family, Mom and Dad say you are worthless, you go to school knowing this because your worth as a child is dependent upon your parents. Bad teacher’s, (and there are some in every school), sense your vulnerability, your lack of confidence. They see you hiding behind curtains of hair, in the back row, unkempt because nobody at home is caring for your appearance. They use you to vent their frustrations and to keep everyone else in line.

The other children, nobody wants to know you or be associated with you. Even those close to being in your place on the totem pole reject you and take part in your humiliation out of fear that they might take your place at the bottom if they befriend you or if you move up even a notch.

School becomes the worst episode of “Survivor” you can imagine. You eat whatever part is left of your lunch that hasn’t been tossed around the bus on the way to school in a bathroom stall. The cafeteria is not a place where you can sit. Nobody wants you near them and it feels like a scene from the movie “Carrie” just to walk in there.

The one time you tried, the other kids took turns jumping into the seat you were about to take, over and over until you left in tears. This is not a place where you are safe. Everyone, the teachers, the students treat you and sees you just the way your family does, the way you see yourself.

You do not find out how smart you are until you go to the local community college. All of your other siblings go to University with scholarships. You have a pell grant and have to work full time while still living at home.

It isn’t long until some suave guy tells you that you are beautiful. You, the Ugly Duckling, have never heard this before and immediately swoon. He tells you how smart you are and you bask in the glory of being loved for the first time in your life. You write his term paper and he gets an A. You start to let your own studies go and you spend all of your money on things for him to prove your worth. He is everything, he is the first person to ever love you.

You run out, run out of money, run out of time. You are failing all of your classes, there is no money to put gas in your car to get to school. Your Mom and Dad shake their heads, you are a failure. You want to run away, but you need them, you have nothing and nobody will love you enough to take care of you. You were promiscuous with that boy, you slut. He is long gone now, with someone else far more challenging.

Why can’t you be like your siblings? They are all doing so well. Everything everyone said about you is right, You are the worst. One of your older siblings fails out of school, but it’s all good, he is just taking time to find himself and eventually he does. He is loved, encouraged and protected. He isn’t at all like you.

I could do this for hours and never finish talking about the layers that get us to where we end up.


#199 Kaycee, if I start thinking about my experiences of being singled out, being bullied by those who probably thought that this would get them a higher status or heighten their self-esteem, it is always very hard for me not to feel a great deal of shame, guilt, rage and hatred.

Feelings of shame come up almost immediately when I remember those scenes, events and moments of utter despair and complete helplessness and vulnerability. I tried to fight back, I tried to run and hide, I tried to ignore and endure it, I tried to hide my feelings, my pain, my fear, my ever-increasing nervousness and tension, always expecting the worst and never ever again feeling at ease, accepted and right the time after.

I felt so much shame and pain that I remember many times when tears were running down over my cheeks, stifled sobs came up from deep within, I kept on endlessly talking and crucifying myself and others in a desperate, hateful and spiteful manner while riding back home on my bike. If I had been Stephen King’s CARRIE in those private moments of loneliness and isolation I don’t know what would have been left of the school and my home town. And about the time I guess I also started to become deeply worried and afraid of myself. I had nobody I could talk to about my ongoing torture and pain. So many times I remember being afraid to not being able to stand it any longer, to finally crack, though at that time I probably didn’t know a thing about PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder, group dynamics or anti-bullying campaigns and measures, or mental health and therapy.

But “every day was a new day” though that meant going through the same hell as the day before and again and again I had to get up and take whatever it was that they thought would be REAL FUN, like hiding my things, writing in my books or tearing things up, yes, and eating my lunch or part of it, or throwing it away… . So many times I had to get things back that had been thrown out of the window and so many times I had a flat tire or couldn’t find my bike after SCHOOL’S OUT.

That anybody could not have seen or overlooked what was happening to me over that long period of time and how that affected me in the most negative way possible, even within my own family, is something I find difficult to accept and to believe, even today. To think of surviving all those years, all the pain, silence, ignorance, bleeding from within, open wounds, self-esteem almost non-existent, more and more starting to believe that something must be completely wrong with YOU, experiencing failure after failure and one day yourself believing to be a failure, SUCH A SHAME, almost unthinkable for most people who went unscathed through school and who were able to be successful and have a career later in life.

And if now at the age of forty I have finally come to the belief that I didn’t fail at anything, and that I am a SURVIVOR against all odds who has the same rights and who is equal to everybody else, why on earth do I feel the need to reassure myself endlessly and be seen by those who failed me? Why do I crave to be accepted by those who never accepted me, who always put the blame for everything that went wrong in my life on me, who shamed me time and time again, who kept ignoring me, who kept trying to silence and to isolate me, and still keep on doing so?

Why is it that sometimes I am envious and sometimes I am sad, sometimes I feel ashamed for something I never did or had, sometimes I want to run and sometimes I want to fight, sometimes rather any day and every night, sometimes I am afraid to fall asleep, sometimes I am again the black sheep, sometimes I am looking for approval just for living a life in darkness and loneliness?

If being able to be strong and to live a happy, peaceful and purposeful life means for me actually being forced to collect powers, strength and resources that others would only need a fraction of for getting the same result in life, I am more and more inclined to say that I am only human – not superhuman.


Gosh, the dialogue between Kaycee and Oliver has me in tears. This sounds so much like my childhood. Overwhelming I wanted to have a refuge. THere was no safe place at home, I thought I might find it in school. Sadly, this was not a place either. I was beaten, had gum put in my hair almost daily, called names, thrown downstairs, shoved in lockers. And, some teachers just stood by and watched, some even joined in. I couldn’t go home and ask for help. My stepdad would say I had no idea what problems were, or was I asking for him to feel pity or sorrow for me, “It ain’t gonna happen”, he’d say. My mum, ha, what a joke. She’d ask me what I did to deserve it. She made it a point to not care, not ask, not bother, because in the end, how could she possibly help me, she didn’t know anything. I learned not to go to her. It was a waste of time.
I think in life there is so much understanding in the bully, why is he/she this way. How can we help them?? Darlene has written about how as a society, society stands up for the bully and minimises the victim. I remember someone posting to what Darlene had said in an earlier post, something about Patrick Carnes, (He deals with trauma and how we respond and react from experiencing it) He basically stated that people will stand behind the bully, because it doesn’t force the person to take a stand against the bully. It’s ‘easy’ to say nothing or side with the abuse than to stand up for the victim. It’s a horrible disgusting reality. Basically, people are chickens. And the rest of us are and have way more guts than the people out there determining the experiences. I wish we would fully realise our strengths. But this is so hard. I hate being told I am a survivor. I just don’t want to survive, I want to THRIVE. God bless everyone here especially Darlene for opening our eyes, and having the guts to pull back the curtains, and to question the reality of what actually goes on.


Kaycee – your words rang true for me. Your post was such a strong and real representation of my experience of school and home growing up. I had some variation in specific incidents, but the tone was the same. My parents’ reaction was the same.

Oliver – your words describe the experience well too.

The world itself doesn’t really make sense, does it? That makes us miracles; those of use still striving to make a difference in our own lives, to create a pocket of relative sanity in this strange world.

Today, I’m going to remember that I’m a miracle and face everything ahead of me from that perspective.


I love what Kaycee said about the layers that is really good. I saw myself in that, yea, it’s a lot to explain especially to people. I saw somewhere on here where I saw conversations about stuffed animals being there only refuge and love and their narc parents getting jealous over a toy.

That reminds me as I had/have a lot of stuff animals that I love. Nothing was ever good enough for them. Back home in CA, my dad bought this ugly ass (yea, ugly ass) duck toy for me and was forced to play with it by my mom because “he took time out of his money to buy me this duck toy,” notice how I NEVER had a say-so about any toys I wanted? He always bought fucked up gifts nothing from the heart and people say “at least he got you something,” when did I say I wanted a fucked up gift from the trash can? My ex-therapist and I got at it about that told me the same thing and told her how she’s a hypocrite for even saying that knowing damn well she wouldn’t accept a gift like that from anyone!

Stuffed animals for me was like my refuge and did have pets my mom ran them out of the house. It was my fault for not taking care of them cuz I didn’t wanna clean out the litter box. I thought you cleaned it once and there ya go. No, how was I suppose to learn responsibility from idiots who don’t have it themselves? I was under 10, how was I suppose to know how to take care of the animals? Anyway, I was always made to play with a toy my dad got me and ended up hating it there was no love for the toy at all. I wanted other toys from the store I couldn’t get those from their excuses it’s too much (dad had the money) and mom said it’s for dumb white girls always her ticket so I couldn’t have what the white girls have are you kidding me?!? Always gotta compete herself with white people!

I still have my toys in storage, I should have donated them long ago and will have to do that when I can get to them in that hoarded storage units. My mom couldn’t seem to do shit a stupid woman that she is and couldn’t seem to buy toys that I wanted nope had to do what dad wanted. Seriously, I’ve told this to people especially women ‘don’t you see a slave attitude that my mom has? Isn’t it strange she does what dad says yet claims independence? If she was so strong, she wouldn’t be so scared of him. Funny, my grandma said my mom is scared of dad. She never put an end to things only if it fit her vernacular, she wonders why her kids her daughters hate her so!’


Kaycee, Oliver and Raven, I am so sorry that you had nowhere to go for refuge. I did put far more trust in my friends than my family. Even the shittier friends. In writing the account of the stuffed (and not stuffed) animals and my mother’s contempt for my seeking comfort in them, I almost cried. The memory was quite vivid.

There was one cold night I remember especially, when I got my coat on and left the house to go cuddle the rabbit in the garden, my mother yelling after me “Go ahead! Go and cry with that bloody rabbit!” The rabbit probably had no idea why she was getting squeezed and wept into but she didn’t judge me or scratch or bite. I remember feeling as if the rabbit truly loved me. And that in comparison my mother didn’t.

In writing this account, again I tried to put myself in my mother’s shoes to understand how/why she could have felt such contempt for a child seeking comfort. And I don’t understand. Nor do I need to anymore. Or not as much (that is more honest an appreciation I think).


Dean, thanks for sharing your story of the Lollipop photo session, I was also deeply moved by it. How horrible that you were forced to stand there with a shattered lollipop, displaying evidence of your mother’s abuse but putting it all on you as if you were the one at fault and not her. I know that sort of harsh cruelty from my own mother, who also used shame to control and denigrate me, without caring how many people saw it or ever bothering to apologize. I’m sorry that your sister denied your feelings when you tried to bring them up, you deserve so much more then that.

take care,


Sometimes I want to kick these “parents” in the ass. Dean’s story about getting hit by his mom (I almost added “for no reason” as if there could ever be a reason that justifies it…) just made me angry.

So some people will say “but you shouldn’t stoop to the same level of violence (or intolerance) as the people who perpetrate all this” (and suddenly there is an admission of what it is!)

Does the injunction to not “stoop to that level” hamper a person who is barely coming to terms with their mistreatment? Is it somehow a safeguard? Does it help at all? I have purposefully avoided being alone with my mother because I feared that I might lash out at her. In practice the last time I was, she slapped me. But I was afraid anyway.


It is the layering (great word Alice!) that domino effect, the downward spiral that began at home but dominated my entire life that is the hardest to come to terms with.

If my Mom had goofed once or twice, got the wrong gift, said the wrong thing, I know I would have been okay.I think sometimes people hear our stories and they think we are nit picking. One of the most amazing things about being here is everyone gets it, why getting a giant, freakish looking monkey instead of the dog I had been dreaming of mattered. It wasn’t this one incident in a bubble.

Yet to hear my Mother tell the story of my reaction to that monkey, you would think I was a spoiled brat who never appreciated anything and she was the queen of martyrs who tried so hard but could never please her troubled daughter.

And even when my mother acquiesces to having made some mistakes, she doesn’t understand the far reaching implications of growing up with no self worth. She doesn’t understand how everything that happened at home didn’t just disappear every time I walked out the door.

She fails to make the connections between the abuse at home and my inability to function normally in school. To her, I just got lost in the big public school, after all, I was never good at directions and I’m too this or that to make friends and there just was always something wrong with me.

There is nothing, not one thing in my entire life that hasn’t been clouded over, damaged and deeply affected by my lack of self worth as a child. Nothing. But after my breakdown and hospitalization in my early 20’s, my Mom made it clear we would never speak of my childhood again, It was simply me beating her up and she had, after all said she was sorry.

I want to respond to everyone personally but my son needs help with his homework ugh, decimals. Thanks you everyone for sharing your stories, they make me laugh and cry and feel not so alone!


Oh and Alice, love the rabbit story. Everything I knew about real love as a child, I learned from my dog.


Kaycee, one of the reasons I put so many details into the gift story (and cam back with some more) is exactly because I feared it sounding petty and nitpicky. My mother has already told me that my remembering “only the bad stuff” is the problem. That I don’t remember the good because you don’t remember that. And she tells me that there was so much of it, the good. So it’s really sort of my fault if I only remember the bad.

To some extent, I won’t argue with her that the more difficult and hurtful, or traumatic experiences had more impact and stayed with me more than the “happier” times (and I do recall some) but like I said before, it’s not just the fact that my family hurt me, it’s their response to my hurt. Making it my fault and sole responsibility. Punishing me for it. Telling me that my perception of the reality of my own experience is baseless, or invented.


Alice – this is really the crux of the matter.

“To some extent, I won’t argue with her that the more difficult and hurtful, or traumatic experiences had more impact and stayed with me more than the “happier” times (and I do recall some) but like I said before, it’s not just the fact that my family hurt me, it’s their response to my hurt. Making it my fault and sole responsibility. Punishing me for it. Telling me that my perception of the reality of my own experience is baseless, or invented.”



I am reading a book about neural pathways in the brain. We are designed to remember traumatic, dangerous experiences as a product of evolution. Our survival as a species has depended on it. This is not something we are doing wrong, it is not a defect in the way our minds work and it is no different then anyone else. We just had more traumatic childhoods then most people.

Arguably, when your self worth is demolished there is very little that qualifies as genuine good times or happiness. Self love is the foundation for experiencing joy.

Even the most pure, innocent pleasures of childhood, like the Easter basket can become a horrible experience and you learn not to expect or look forward to anything. You learn to be hyper vigilant because you never know when someone might see you smile and decide to rip it off your face. You learn you deserve less then everyone else,

There is nothing good or happy in this kind of childhood, perhaps only brief moments of relief, when you forget yourself.


“Oh and Alice, love the rabbit story. Everything I knew about real love as a child, I learned from my dog.”

I never knew long ago as a kid how we can get love and gratitude from animals. I read a story long ago of a woman who volunteered with dogs and she got attached to this one particular German Shepherd (believe it was a male) how she gained a lot through him which brought out good qualities about her and it was such a lovely story. Although, I had this discussion with my ex-therapist telling her my cats (since my 1st dog didn’t stay long) were my love as they loved me and had this one cat back in the 90s named Sarah who hated my parents always scratched my mom when she got the chance! lol

She would stay in my room on my keyboard watching over me and refused to move when my parents came into the room. My ex-therapist killed it when she said you need love from a human as animals don’t give the love that humans can give blah blah I said are you an expert on pet therapy? Answer was no and told her to zip her lips! Funny, she had a dog herself but said you need human love, omg! I said love is an action word if there isn’t any love, then it ain’t there and if it is fake, what makes you think it’s genuine?


I remember our cat at home and I am quite sure that if it had not been for her I wouldn’t have been able to get through that much pain at the time. Shortly after my father’s death I was sitting on a sandbox under our mirabelle tree, which was also my favourite refuge. My cat came to me while I was weeping and crying and couldn’t believe that the whole world and my life had turned so topsy-turvy. I was talking to her and it didn’t matter that she couldn’t talk back because she was there and that was all I needed in that moment. I remember climbing onto the mirabelle tree and just staring into the distance at no particular point. I think it must have been for hours.

Maybe that was also when I learnt that I had to keep my emotions inside and that I couldn’t share all the pain and suffering because my siblings and my mother were themselves in great pain and wouldn’t have been able to carry my extra load. We were all so emotionally drained and traumatized that there were no resources left to take care of my personal suffering – the collective suffering, together with a great deal of shame and guilt was the gift that my father had left behind for all of us. And I clearly remember that I thought that maybe now the bullying at school would stop because they would know that I had suffered enough already and would respect me from now on. How desperate had I been already to hope for something like that to happen? I had a closed season for a short period of time but after that everything was back to normal. When I came back from school there was at least the cat that was happy and welcomed me like nothing had changed. My sister and I didn’t get along very well at that time and my mother had to work as a secretary and when she came back in the evening she wouldn’t be able to discuss or take any difficulties and problems that I was experiencing in school.

I learnt to be good at being alone, stay away from others, keep up appearances. We were all good at keeping up appearances then and we were so trained not to cause any troubles, not to talk to others about what was really going on in our family. Because my mother had told us that we must be strong now and stick together – and we did. I didn’t know that we all needed help at that time. I didn’t know that there was something like family therapy or that I didn’t have to take anymore of their shit at school if my mother had taken steps to take me to another school. I had my cat but no adult which I could have confided in what was really tearing me up from inside out.

And if it was me who was too proud to call out for help or felt too guilty or shameful because of what had happened and what was happening to me, why would nobody have seen it and just let it go on for so much longer? Why had I learnt that calling for help was something that would be seen as me being weak and trying to get attention in the first place, or me exaggerating and not trying hard enough to get along with others, or better adapt to the circumstances and change my behaviour? And this has never stopped until today and they blame me for being myself – how ridiculous is that?


I feel sad reading about Dean’s easter basket story. And the lollipop. That should not have happened. There is something so wrong with that story. Your mom should have cared for you and protected you, Dean. Not violated you and then blamed you for making her life difficult. You are not at all to blame for her abusive behavior and dysfunction. She chose to bring you into the world and it was her responsibility to care for you and to protect you. She failed you. You deserve respect, protection, care, compassion, and love.

These stories just make me so sad. And I feel so angry too. Two nights ago I awoke with 20 minutes of speaking complete gibberish about something that is still buried in my memory. It was a panic attack. Thankfully I have a supportive boyfriend who just held me and said, “it’s ok” and “you’re right those things should not have happened.” It was scary though.

I am so grateful for your words, Darlene, and for all of you who remind me that we are not responsible for what happened to us. There are scars that run so deep and take lots of work to heal~ but acknowledging that the brokenness is not our fault~ is huge. I feel like the more I focus on what happened~ and how it was something I experienced because I was too small to protect myself~ the more I feel acceptance and compassion for myself. The blame shifts away from me and onto who was abusing me~ the source of the pain. It feels so liberating and amazing to focus that anger on who actually deserves it~ the perpetrator. I was too small to protect myself then~ but I am not too small now. And that sort of abuse wont continue on my watch. What happened then poisoned my spirit. Now~ as we share our stories~ the poison is finally leaking out of us so that we can feel free and be healed and whole.

I had a family that was so scared and broken~ I was the only girl between two brothers~ two years older and four years younger. Looking at photos with my mother has typically created lots of anxt in me because she was absent when some of the abuse occurred from my dad. She escaped our family when I was 13. So I became the new “woman of the house.” Misogyny is something that my dad later admitted to. He also admitted to having “emotional incest” with me. He makes not apology, however, for how his behaviors damaged me. He is secure in his delusion that a religious belief can clear him of all responsibility for wrong doing. He denies having sexually abused me. Although the first words out of his mouth when I confronted him two years ago were, “Am I going to jail?”

Much compassion,


Thank you, Caden. It feels good to finally be telling people these things.


And thank you Alice and Naomi for your supportive words. I have been overwhelmed with emotions about all this – this is all new and it feels so raw – but I wanted to let y’all know it helps to hear empathy. It heals.


Kaycee My mother also used body language and frowns and silence as her condemnation. Or she just ignored me changing the subject. Later she could say I was just chattering or misunderstand. She always had deniability. That made me needy or too emotional or too sensitive. Any complaints or defense was turned around to me over reacting. So I learned not to react as I only got another strike against me. Every strike was meant to belittle me. I so totally see it now. The fog is lifting!!! 🙂


Karen R, I remember my Mom once complaining that her Mother in Law said if you are not calling to talk about the weather, don’t call. Yet she is epitome of that when it comes down to it. Now that I understand that everything I have been through and how everything I have struggled with is directly related to my childhood, she has slammed the door in my face.

She has her fixed paradigm, that I was a troubled child and adult. It feels like politics, you know, where someone says something and it is taken completely out of context, then presented as something totally differently then what was actually said.

I have been taken out of the context of the abuse I suffered. Pieces of me have been cut out, magnified and her image of me and the one she presented to extended family and friends is distorted and misrepresented.

I was seedling that was not given water and light, that was left unprotected in the harshest of elements. I did not bear fruit, my growth was distorted, I became crooked and gnarled. Whenever I started to bloom, I was pruned with withering glances, parching frowns and freezing, cold shoulders. She sucked away my colors with her deep sighs until I turned brown and brittle.

I am starting to realize that the fact that I am still here and still growing is a miracle in of itself. I see many such miracles here. I think we have all gravitated this way underneath the warm sunlight of Darlene’s work because we were not meant to be snuffed out. Not a single one of us.


I just want to add that I am on a roller coaster, there is grief and loss and then there is anger. There is the realization that knowledge isn’t enough to break these habitual patterns. Then there is an incredible frustration that everything has to be so hard, I am exhausted, I am overwhelmed. discouraged.

Then I recognize this is the pathway I know, failure. This is my default, no matter how hard I try, I can’t do it, this is learned helplessness. I look forward to therapy where my counselor helps me re frame what I automatically cast in a negative light into growth and success.

I don’t know how see my accomplishments on my own yet. I still shine a harsh, critical light on myself no matter the momentum I gain in the right direction. I call into question my right to happiness and success. I make myself wrong and bad when I am right and good.

I have made leaps and bounds mentally but I sink into the emotional quicksand of not being good enough automatically and letting go of my escape routes is proving to be a formidable task.


Kaycee – I’ve been noticing that happens to most of us, maybe all of us. It definitely has been happening to me. Sometimes I feel absolutely sure of myself, ready to trust my instincts and see myself for the survivor I’ve been and the thriver I’m working to be.

Sometimes, I wonder if I just ended up on the wrong planet. Why do so many other people look like they are getting along great by faking smiles, self-medicating, and insisting they are happy? Why are they so contemptuous of me for saying that I’m hurt and asking for help?

Who am I in a world where I feel so unwanted?

But I can usually remind myself that I’m not alone. I need to seek the truth and face it. I have to wrestle with it until I can deal with it. I don’t have to be like people who think I’m weak or worth less than they are.

Overall – I’m better now than I was before, in my own eyes, and the eyes of compassionate people who have grow close to me as I’ve been healing.

I believe it will all be worth it!


“She has her fixed paradigm, that I was a troubled child and adult. It feels like politics, you know, where someone says something and it is taken completely out of context, then presented as something totally differently then what was actually said.

I have been taken out of the context of the abuse I suffered. Pieces of me have been cut out, magnified and her image of me and the one she presented to extended family and friends is distorted and misrepresented.”

Agreed. My abuse was definitely taken out of context and funny how people/ex-therapist said I am not taking it out of context and uh yea you are! Didn’t you just say the abuse was bad, not as bad as you envision, etc BUT they are your parents?? How is that validating everything I said? It’s like people took what I said ran with it and twisted to suit their needs telling me ‘your parents didn’t mean for what happen to you.’ Then, go back and make shit right!

Like I told people, “if you wanna stay ignorant, dumb, and stupid believing a bunch of “terrific lies” from these abusers then you do that and leave me the hell alone! Stop bothering me about my parents I don’t care – if I am suppose to “be so grown” then stop putting me back into child mode!” I definitely agree how it is politics arguing and it still goes nowhere like the wheels are spinning but the hamster is dead.


Hi Everyone ~ I just published a new post. I got a ‘dear Darlene’ letter and I answered it publically. A hurt mother wants me to write in a more balanced way and is upset that I represent the hurt child. You can read it here. “When a Mother says she is the Victim of her Adult Children”
Looking forward to the conversation on this one! ~ Darlene


Hi Everyone I just published a new post on the home page! Pam Witzemann writes about being “An Invisible Child in a Hostile World” and it’s a great article!! I am looking forward to the conversation! – See more at:
Hugs, Darlene


I wholeheartedly believe that one of the most harmful, misused, and overused phrases of all time is “always respect your parents.” Ironically there is also the old saying that “respect must be earned.” Hmmmm. “Always respect your parents” even when it isn’t earned or deserved? Why are parents to “always be respected” when they don’t deserve it or haven’t earned it? It makes no sense. To me that phrase is an oxymoron and extremely counterproductive to our society. That terrible phrase “always respect your parents” traps abused and neglected children in a life of confusion, self-blame, and pain. I wish that phrase would be illegal so that there is accountability and responsibility for parenting. Currently parenting is considered a “right” over a child’s human and fundamental rights. Abusive and neglectful parents holler and scream about their right to raise their child how they wish without any interference but that is extremely dangerous for the mental health of our entire society. It’s no wonder why there is so much mental illness. I really wish that our leaders and our society would wake up about how important parenting is and how irresponsible and unaccountable parents really are. Bad parents end up drugging their kids or abusing/neglecting them all the while everyone is afraid to question them because of all of the “rights” that they have, which the child has none. I fight for child rights. Children have no rights in the eyes of their parents and that is sad. Parental arrogance is extreme and that stems from that ear-worm that every child has consistently heard: “always respect your parents.”


Thank you, Karen T! Been saying that for years and the looks these parents have when I say that. My ex-therapist was really irate when I said that and respect is earn it’s a give and take type of thing. I never say to people respect your parents unless there has been actions/evidence that their parents has done a lot for them and the person is abusing their kindness – that’s how I evaluate people’s actions. Other people and ex-therapist felt that was the “wrong approach or wrong attitude.”

Really??!? She felt what my parents are doing is okay parenting, why should she question it? She got irate when I started questioning her parenting and how she thinks as a parent. No parent out there likes when I question them and use their parental arrogance as a way to beat around the bush – I know my ex-therapist did!

A parent who abuses their kid lost all of their rights as far as I am concern.

“Children have no rights in the eyes of their parents and that is sad.”

Amen, been saying this for a long time. I have seen in my family for years the inequality, zero respect, love, trust, hope, support, etc, zero everything. How the hell is that any kind of a family structure? I ask this all the time yet nobody has an answer and told that ex-therapist you’re a mom, right? You should have the answers since you know how all parents feel/think! She sat there looking stupid. Like Darlene has said in her blogs, where is the true love if there is inequality? There is no real love at all!

All of this inequality, yea, we were nothing but property to our parents. I am still property to them and wanting out of this prison 28 yrs of being in their prison system! Everything people have told me has been misused and abused for years it really means nothing to me anymore. Like I tell people, you can say xyz till I’m blue in the face and I never flinch; I may laugh/chuckle that is it and that gets people even more fired up lol.


It is a horrible thing to be disregarded by the people that should love you the most, that should love you unconditionally. Every member of my family, for as far back as I can remember, has said and done awful things to me and finally, 20 years ago completely abandoned me. My daughters saw how they treated me and now they do the same thing to me. They side with my ex, who abused me, cheated on me, and abandoned me. And now he has sidestepped me and has sucked my youngest daughter, who is not his, into his little web, to the point that she now sees him as being the better “parent.” I stood up to him last year, right around this time, only to have him weasel his way back into her life again this year. I just sent him a text message telling him I know what he’s done. How could he think that his actions don’t hurt me. Christmas is and always has been a sad time for me because the only family I have doesn’t see me as valuable. They can live without me and tell me I’m only a source of stress to them. So, to see my grandchildren, I suck it up and don’t say anything when they get smart with me or treat me like I’m invisible. My biggest fear now is that my grandchildren will see how their mothers treat me and they will do the same when they grow up. Not sure how to counteract that, but I’m sure gonna try.


Something happened and it caused my some crying again, so here I am … writing… I am having really heavy periods for many years-for no apparent reason- causing me anemia and fatigue… My husband and I have three small kids and no help at all from parents. My husband is wonderfull and supportive and we manage really well except when someone needed to go to the hospital unfortunately quite some times over the past few years, but I hope that things will be better from this year on! Happy new Year everyone! I am very carefull what I eat so that it is healthy to help me overcome the loss of blood and really nobody understands what I am going through except when someone notices that I may be very pale from time to time. I avoid taking medicine unless it is absolutely necessary all my life. Having said that I came to a point that I can no longer cope with the anemia and iron deficiency and decided to give in to my doctor’s advice for hormonal drugs. I felt very weak when I had to make the decision which is huge for me, and although I do not appreciate my mother’s opinion I told her about it, as in the past she has directed me to some very good doctors as, because of her work, she sees and knows a lot of people. A couple of days ago she called me to tell me that what I should have done was rest and eat well. WHAT? I am a calm person. In this case I started trembling. I have never experienced that before. I have been complaining to her for years that my life is too tiring and I am frequently afraid that I’ll collapse. I have told her that “you know I am not made of iron”. And I do not remember even getting an answer for that. Diregarded by family??? So I have stopped talking to her. Please do not think that I overreact… I just have so many things to cope with. I am sorry for the way I am writing… I don’t even know if it makes sense, but I take the opportunity to get it out as Darlene encourages as to! Thanks for your comments everyone, it is so helpful… I got the book Darlene… I read a bit every chance I get.


The more I understand how my biological family works, the happier I am to be disowned by them.


Hi all,
I know this an old post but just wanted to share this all with you.

Last weekend was my son’s 26th birthday. My mother and the rest of the family have been estranged since October last year after i confronted her about past abuse and her neglect of me. i always felt my son’s problems over the years had been because of this but she denies this vehemently and says she treats all her grandchildren the same. So every year when its everyone elses birthdays she makes such an effort and spends time with them, even to the point when she won’t leave my sister on xmas day as this is her birthday too, yet we don’t see her on ours.
sorry if this all sounds confusing. My other sisters birthday was thursday this week and my son’s the previous saturday. All he got was a card with some money and a text wishing him a happy birthday. No phone call from anybody else in the family apart form myself and my daughter. No time soent with him at all.
yet the whole family spent saturday, sunday and thursday together celebrating my sister’s birthday. I did not expect an invite but I did not exoect them to leave my kids out too. One of these get-togethers was at a restaurant just around the corner from my home. As usual the photos of these were plastered all over facebook, which I don’t use now.
Am I the only one who thinks this is so unfair?


Clare, yes I do think it is unfair. I think you were very brave to confront your mother. It’s unfortunate that we don’t always get the results we want when we confront. My mother was the type that would toss you out if you disagreed with her or if you didnt comply when she asked for ( or more accurately, demanded) something from you. I got dumped by her for three years for not letting her and her freeloading husband ” borrow” money that we were setting aside for my sons college education. I know they never would have paid it back because they were very irresponsible with their finances. Her exclusionary tactics were very manipulative. If you don’t comply she is going to withdraw from you. She used these same very hurtful tactics when I was growing up.
Yes, it is very unfair. We are dealing with manipulative self serving people. If they don’t get their way, or if they get called out on something they did and don’t want to own up, they reject us as punishment. There was no way I was going to be able to change my mother, but seeing her tactics for what they were and not blaming myself for her behavior was helpful to me. SHE was the one with the problem, not me. I hope this gave you some validation. I am proud of you for standing up to your mother, and her behavior towards you now seems to confirm that you had good reason to do it.


And Clare, the Facebook pictures and picking a restaurant near your home to celebrate at and exclude you and your kids from is exactly the type of manipulative and hurtful behavior that these people engage in. It says a lot about them and it definitely is not good stuff.


Thank you Amber for your kind words. It is unfortunate that the stress of the last few months has sent me back to therapy. But as you say, the behaviour of my family is manipulative and shows I had good reason to stand up for myself and that the problem lies with them and not me. I have just spent the last forty odd years trying to cope with it.
but continue I must until I find a place where I can be at peace with myself and put the things that have happened to me and my own little family in the past.
Take care


Hi Clare, I understand fully why you did what you did. It’s very painful, but freeing to finally stand up for yourself, because no one else does or will. The loss can be great, but not as great as losing yourself or feeling like you don’t even know who in the world you are.

My mother was verbally abusive when I was little. Only to me, as far as I can tell. My older and younger brothers were only talked about in the highest regard. They were handsome, cute, and I was the ugly, stupid one.

Later in life, after I had children and after my divorce, she became physically abusive because she didn’t like my lifestyle. Keep in mind that she was a heavy drinker and my father took no sides in any of this. He was mute when it came to my mother’s wrath, which she poured out on him frequently, either directly or indirectly through her kids by telling us what an S.O.B he was and how much she hated him and his family.

She even told me she was going to take me to court to take my children away from me because she didn’t like the fact that I started to date again and eventually got remarried. That marriage didn’t last too long either. My mother and father took it upon themselves to drop by in a drunken stupor one evening. My mother pushed me down on the couch, put her knees in my chest, punched me in the face, and told me I had a heart like a block of ice and she hated my guts. My father took my husband for a walk and told him he should leave me because I wasn’t worth staying with. My kids all witnessed this.

A year later I had my 4th daughter. Her father abandoned us when she was 10 months old. I was left with no husband, no job, no income except for what my first husband gave me in support of my other 3 girls, which he had reduced to 1/2 of the court ordered amount because he didn’t want to have to give me any money.

After traveling to Arkansas to recover the car that my current husband stole when he took off and left us, I came home to my mother telling me I was a whore and a slut. She was with my 3 oldest girls in Florida for the Easter week that year. I left my baby girl with my brother so I could take that trip to Arkansas to retrieve my car.

When I got back home from Arkansas and after that awful reaming out by my mother, I sank into a depression. I felt like I was dying. God pulled me out of that pit of despair and saved my life, both physical and spiritual because I cried out to Him for help.

Now, I’m out of my old lifestyle, where I was trying to find love and I exclaim my new found faith to my family. Guess what?! They hate me for this too and they all abandoned me and my girls. My mother, both my brothers and their kids stopped speaking to me. Try as I might, I could not fix this mess. That was 21 years ago. Now my kids are starting to treat me the same way. They won’t speak to me at parties. They won’t answer my e-mails or voice mails and recently I was left out of two of my grandchildren’s birthday parties.

So, the misery never seems to end. If it wasn’t for my Father in Heaven, I would be dead by now. He is the only One who I know loves me eternally and unconditionally.

I have 11 grandchildren and want to be an excellent role model for them. I put up with a lot just to be able to see them, but I still make it known to their mothers that I won’t put up with them back talking to me or ignoring me when we’re all together. They gossip about me to one another behind my back, too. And then they have the nerve to tell me what the other one said about me! When I ask if they said anything back to the offender, they always say they said nothing. So no one has my back, ever, except the Lord.

It’s tough as hell to deal with this, especially when it’s your entire family. Even my first husband has taken measures to suck my youngest into his lair and she’s told me that she can do without me and will do whatever she can to allow him and his wife to be a part of her life and the lives of her children. MY grandchildren! He is invited to their birthday parties and the cycle begins again. It’s only since the last few months that I have seen an improvement in how she relates to me. She’s been going to church regularly and I’m sure that’s had an affect on her.

I’ve talked to my first husband about his invasion of my life and family, only to have him escalate his mission of control over everyone and every situation.

I envy people that have close knit families where they respect and honor their parents. Many of my friends enjoy this type of fellowship with their kids and grandchildren. It hurts me to the bone and I feel very lonely much of the time.

My prayer for myself and for you and everyone else out there who is suffering abuse from their families is that Almighty God will indwell you and give you that peace that exceeds all understanding. Only He can rescue us! But we have to surrender to Him and let Him do His work.

Stay strong, Loves! He is returning soon!



Dear Cathy,

I think its amazing how different our life stories all are. Each and every one of us on this site has the connection of parents or family that should love us yet have a strange way of showing this.
For my own story I always thought it was me that was a bad person who slept around and dragged my kids through my marriages and unhappy relationships. I had many affairs because i was so unhappy. It wasn’t until One of my sisters phoned me one day and told me that she thought i was a horrible person who caused an atmosphere and was jealous of everyone else. She told me she never wanted to see me again apart from family parties.
I was very confused by this and became very depressed. I had lots of therapy and discovered I had been assaulted by my sisters boyfriend and several other people from the age of 12. it wasn’t that i didn’t know this, just that my thinking changed and I didn’t look at it as me being the bad one anymore. I was 36 at this time.
It was a very painful time as the family carried on as though nothing had happened yet i couldn’t attend and be there with my sister who said she hated me so much. So they started leaving me out of everything.
Three years later i developed breast cancer and she came back into my life. To be honest though nothing really changed. My mother supported me to an extent as long as she had her great grandson in tow to all my appointments etc. She even talked to my doctors about him and his health!!.
I am now five years in remission this year. I have been back to therapy several times, looking at my family and my past.I realised from my relationships that I had always felt unloved by my family and had been looking for someone to love me so threw myself at anybody who show me interest. of course this made me very vulnerable so people took advantage. My family have sunk back to their old ways, spending time together and isolating myself and my children. Last year I sent a letter to my mother and confronted her about some of the issues in my past. She answered and told me she knew I had been assaulted by my sisters boyfriend when i was 16 but it was fine as she dealt with it at the time by telling him ‘not to do it again’. She also said it was me who stayed away from outings out with the family and my councilling was no good as they must have told me she was a bad mother and that all it does is rake up the past.
Needless to say we have had very little contact since then. They are still treating us in the same way but I am slowly accepting that they won’t change, but I don’t have to put up with their behaviour.
Its good to get things out on this site and see comments to things that have happened to me as it helps me stay focused that i am doing the right thing for me.
Take care.


I too wrote letters to my mother about her conduct, yes it did “hurt” her but did it offer her an impetus to change? No, she just used it to create more dissension between all of us in the immediate family. If I had to do it over again, I would never leave any written word for them to use as proof that they were bad parents. Most parents think that providing food and shelter is good parenting, and emotional support is out of their realm of understanding.



I agree wouldn’t write my parents a letter again if I had to do it again. Too many people have told me you need to write them a letter, they will understand. Oh really? I wrote my mom a letter when I was like 12 or 13 about her mistreatment, I got screamed at always gotta be about “trying to have my way” wtf? Not about having/wanting my way it’s about equal respect which none of ever existed in this FOO.


I disagree about sending my letter.
Although it hasn’t changed the situation with my mother, in fact it has made the little contact we had worse, the fact that she has admitted in her reply that she knew my sister’s boyfriend had assaulted me has shown me that its not all in my head and I am not the bad person i thought i was.
I would do it again if I had to..because she needs to listen and hear how I have felt. She will never do that face to face because i don’t have the confidence to stand up to her.
I know she will always deny her actions, but at least I feel more in control of my life.


Hi Clare,
I think you actually found the real point of sending the letter. They may not ever hear us. But we need to hear ourselves.

I’ve learned to hear myself, believe myself, and be my own friend. That’s important!



I’m a big believer in writing a letter and if you can muster up the courage to actually sit face to face with your abuser, as long as it is safe for you to be around them, that’s even better yet because to me confronting your abusers about the way that they treated and hurt you isn’t about trying to get your own point of view across to them it is about YOU being able to take back your power so now you no longer feel like they have the upper hand on what you think or how you feel anymore. By confronting them you are sending them the message that “I am no longer playing by YOUR rules, I am playing by MINE and there isn’t one darn thing that you can do about it!!”

When I was able to confront my mother face to face I also found out another thing. All those fantasy worlds that I created in my head telling myself that she could do no wrong all to protect me from seeing just how abusive she really was all went down the proverbial toilet as soon as she opened up her mouth. It helped me come out from all of that denial that I was still holding onto and it helped me break free from that sick enmeshment that I had with her in the end.

The more things that she said to me the more I knew in my heart that everything that I once believed about her was a lie. She wasn’t trying to comfort me. She wasn’t trying to help me. All she did was deny deny deny and when that didn’t work then she started attacking and blaming me for this whole mess and that’s when I realized that she never really cared about me, it was all about her. How I was hurt never even entered into the picture and that’s when I saw my mother for “who” she really was for the first time in my life instead of the fantasy worlds that I had to create in my mind in order to survive her abuse when I was a child.



I am that invisible child, although not the little girl in the pictures, I’m in my 50’s now. I have only been able to put words to my feelings in the past few years. I lived it but didn’t understand. I was never heard, my parents never got to know me or understand me for who I am. It was blame that was placed….I was too difficult, I liked drama. What I wanted was to be heard and they could not understand that. It was better to toss me out like a dirty sock and cast blame than it was to face reality and see me as human with real feelings, feelings then needed to understand that made me who I was.

My mother’s weapon to those to did not wield to her wishes (spoken or unspoken) was to ignore them and I was one of them. Anyone that disappointed her would be gossiped about among family and made to feel like they were unworthy of her love, I was no exception.

When in my mid 30’s I realized my mother was ignoring me, I called and started to leave a message telling her I wanted to talk. She picked up the phone and chewed me out. She told me that she never loved me like she loved my little sister, she said she hated my big eyes (they reminded her of family members she didn’t like on my dad’s side of the family), she told me she felt my dad had favored me over my sister which made her angry. I listened her with tears running down my cheeks, not believing what I was hearing from my own mother’s mouth, wondering how a mother could be like this to her own child. I knew how she was and how she cut people out of her life. I wanted her in my life, I wanted her love, I was afraid of losing her. I told her when I hung up the phone that I wanted us to mend our ways, I wanted us to continue to talk. I did not hear from her for four years. No calls, my calls were not answered, no visits, no cards, no presents, not even for my kids. We all became nobodies. My dad and my sister supported my mom and we did not hear from them either.

Mom walked back into my life one day, sent an email, like nothing had ever happened. no apology, no explanation, nothing. I tired in ways to tell her and my family that what happened was wrong and I had a right to be heard but I still was not heard. Everything I said was ignored.

We did kind of stumble with a tense relationship for many years. It was never the same. I had mourned the loss of the relationship in the four years my mother had cut me off. I realized I could not trust this woman and did not know what she wanted from me or why she came back into my life.

All I heard was how awful everyone was. How much she hated my dad (who is still married to her), how much she disliked her siblings and how wrong they treated everyone. She could not see herself, she projected all her pain onto everyone else. We have not spoke now for 3 years, my choice. I realized this woman has no heart and I was never going to mean anything to her. I was her scapegoat and always would be so I stopped contact with her.


I am so sad. Our granddaughters that I have written about in the comments on this post are moving away, about 8 or 9 hours away. I know I can’t always have them close to us, but the hard part for me is knowing that these poor little girls will have no respite from their parents. They get quite a bit now with three sets of grandparents close by and other relatives that watch the girls once a week.

When they leave in a couple of months, I won’t get to see them in person very often and we won’t get to keep them at our house like we do sometimes now. They are allowed to be children here, they are happy here, they are humans here. I won’t be able to hug them and hold them which they crave.

They will be home with their mother after they move, not in daycare. I just can’t imagine how their lives will be with their parents 24/7 making unrealistic demands on them and rejecting them all the time with no time away from them with people they know actually love them unconditionally.

This is just eating away at me. One of the girls said out of the blue “I love you in my heart” to me. I just melted. It was so precious. We got to keep them for two days and it was delightful.

It does sadden me that it seems that one of the girls especially, pushes and pushes the limits until someone threatens them. I don’t threaten them, but my husband does, which I hate and I have told him that. I feel like they have been trained like dogs and that is the reason they push until someone threatens them (implies that they will get a swat if they don’t immediately obey ALL commands, or don’t quit crying when they are upset). That just makes me so sad. My own children were not threatened with pain. I just can’t understand why some people think that is the way to “raise” children.

They will be moving to the middle of nowhere and will be home most of the time after they move, which is nothing like their lives now. They are at daycare, grandparents’ homes, with relatives, etc. Now, they will be trapped with their abusive parents and that thought is just killing me.

Thank you for being here for me to vent to. I know we can Skype with the girls, but the parents will be close by, I won’t get to spend time with them alone. This time they were here at our house, they played baby and mama a lot, where one of them is the baby and one is the mama. They wanted me to be the mama a lot, too. The sister that pushes the limits wants to be held and cuddled and be the baby. I think it is because she didn’t get that when she was an infant. They were put to bed when they were crying and ignored until they “got over it” and slept. They were just “being manipulative” at just months old. Dear God, please watch over these precious girls.


Hi Annette
Welcome to EFB ~ You have found the right place to share! although it is so hard to comprehend this kind of treatment, You are certainly not alone. I am glad you are here and thank you for sharing.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Stepgrandma,
My heart goes out to you and I understand your sadness.
Thank you for sharing here.
hugs, Darlene


Wow, this is my family to a T! (What does that expression mean?!) When I was 6 my mum stabbed me in the leg with a biro because I spelled something wrong on my thank you letters. She put a plaster on it, and I went and showed my granny and great-aunt, foolishly in my mum’s presence. They just looked at me, looked at my mum, and turned away. I don’t think they thought I was lying. I think they were afraid if they accepted this they would be accepting how imperfect their family was. They left me with my mum to hiss at me that I was a little blabber mouth and she wasn’t going to make me that jumper she’d been promising me. That weirdly hurt more than being stabbed with a pen!
The most recent experience of this phenomenon was my mum talking about some young friend of hers on facebook having a rant about her parents. I’m no fan of status updates like that, but what really pissed me off was my mum saying ‘even when your grandmother was at her worst I never told anyone outside of the family’. No, instead you just told two small children all about what a terrible person their granny was, how terrible the rest of the family is, so we believed first that it was the 3 of us against the world, and later, we believed that if we made a relationship with anyone else we were betraying our long suffering mum. But it’s ok because at least you never let the facade of perfect family slip.
I tell all my friends about my bonkers family, the good stuff and the bad. It makes people laugh, it helps others open up about their history, and it helps me to put it all into perspective and one day heal. She knows I do that. She brings up this betrayal on a regular basis. I no longer feel guilty, and now I’m trying to not feel angry with her. It’s just a thing. That’s who she is. I am not her, she is not my friend. I don’t have to care about her enough to even argue.


I have always been a people pleaser and as a result of that, the biggest sin I have ever committed has almost resulted in my destruction (Thank goodness I got out of the water before I completely drowned!). When I was in my final year of high school, a girl happened to be in three of my classes namely: Ancient History, English and Food Technology. Since she saw that my contributions to class had substance to them, she associated herself with me tagging along her other bestfriend (although the latter actually tries hard in her studies, whereas the other was just a user). Of course when I didn’t realise that I had fallen over a trap, some of the stupidest things I did was send them copies of my assignment via e-mail so they can “check their answers”. We all ended up with a 95 on that particular assignment (Yeah a whole level of stupid I know). The time that I came to the realisation that she was just using me, (she didn’t even need to say it right to my face or on social media) was when I came back from a really long and tiring trip from the mountains on a Sunday and after coming home, girl messages me on FB and asks: Send me your recap of the Minotaur for ancient, I’m stuck? 🙂 When I replied it’s 5pm and I’d really just like to rest (I did my recap okay, I was just saving her from plagiarising), she was like but I REALLY NEED IT NOW (Gotcha bitch!) When she realised that she could no longer latch onto me as much (It got to the point where she called me, but that was because I stupidly gave her my number) she went from asking copies of my assignment to just asking me to send her my copies of the reference list so she can once more “check if hers was right” When I hit University (thankfully she didn’t go to my University) I was like oh no more. I can be friends with people, but “study buddies” hahaha (okay when I was on exchange that was an entirely different story but the one I met was trustworthy of whom I still keep in touch with)

With family, oh yes they were also hard to please! My martial arts fanatic Dad convinced me to do karate for almost three years and when I tried to reason with him, he was like: Carl do you want to have a better looking body? Do you want to have that confidence of which I really don’t see from you? Bitch got me with those questions so I endured all of the karate lessons, until one day I finally just snapped. I guess the saying “No pain, no gain” really is sadly effective. I got the asshole to get me out of karate! No way is he going to continuously live through me vicariously! Although I do want to do some basic self-defense classes, it will be my choice next time thank you.

Yeah it’s hard when you’ve been controlled and have let yourself be controlled by those people like their own personal little toy robot, but now that I’ve woken up, my batteries are no longer functioning and I’d like to think that the batteries that they will need to operate me again are no longer in stock? It’s time that I take that remote and be fully in control of the life that they have claimed as “theirs” for a very long time. To the dreams that I gave up because of their disapproval, I hope you can still give me a second chance and I am sorry for not standing up to you during those times of despair. I could have been a successful baker or chef by now at 22, but I’d like to think that it’s not too late to reignite that long lost passion, alongside whatever I have done for the past three years. I will no longer do what they want just so I could be “placed on the pedestal” during family occasions, which apparently has been a rather comforting activity that my family has come to embrace.

Thanks again Darlene

Kind regards,



How has my family disregarded me? Hmm…where do I start?

-My mother allowing her husband (my stepfather) to treat me like shit for years and never acknowledging the damage he caused

-Being infantilized, yet expected to do things far beyond my ability

-The obvious favoritism in my family. I have an older cousin who is literally worshipped in my family; she is the “golden girl” who can do no wrong.
I have always been the one who is hurt, belittled and scapegoated. My cousin receives all the compliments/love/attention/gifts while I get all the criticism and hate. And I dare not say anything about her that isn’t praise, because then I’m accused of being jealous (with the implication that I’m an ugly loser who envies the pretty girl).

-My family pretends that I’ve lived a privileged life when this isn’t true.
They act like I grew up in a happy nuclear family with no problems at all, when in reality I was the child of a divorced single mom who tended to put her relationships with men above me.

-They like to bring up embarrassing things about me, some of which aren’t even true.

-They like to criticize my appearance and point out flaws. When I was growing up, all I could hear is how “fat” I was, how big my legs were.
I was actually VERY skinny growing up. I was underweight until I was in my mid-20’s.
But they had me convinced that I was disgusting to look at. My hair texture and my skin color was another issue, especially for my aunt, who felt that I needed to look more like my cousin in order to be pretty.
In the Black community there are issues (one of the residual effects of slavery and racism) when it comes to skin color and hair texture as it relates to beauty.
I grew up believing that I was fat and ugly with “bad” hair because of the things everyone told me.

-My cousins were allowed to bully me viciously while the adults looked the other way.
They would taunt me until I cried, hold me underwater in the pool knowing that I couldn’t swim, and other terrible things. I was small and defenseless compared to them.

-My grandmother (rest her soul) died about 16 years ago but I still remember one particularly hurtful comment she made about how my cousins outshine me in every way.
And she said it with such disdain that it really pierced my heart.

-They have always been mostly indifferent of my feelings, or they think it’s funny.
They like to label me as “too sensitive” and “jealous” and “defensive”…usually after provoking me to tears or anger.

-My aunt did a LOT of damage to my self-esteem in terms of beauty. When I started wearing makeup as a teenager (and it was only lipstick) she would say terrible things.
I was made to feel ashamed of wanting to look pretty and enjoy my femininity, but my cousin was encouraged to play up her beauty.

-They like to make fun of me for being unemployed and unsuccessful while ignoring the fact that I was ill-equipped to succeed from day one.
And trust me, I have TRIED to improve my life but always seem to fall short.

-Not being able to tell anyone about my abusive home life with my stepfather because my family accused me of lying.

-Being surrounded by narcissists in general, both in my family and non-related people.

-Wanting my mom to spend more time with me but being disappointed every time because everybody else was more important to her. After a while, I learned to accept that I was just an afterthought.

-Having my mother and others blame me for things constantly; no matter what, it was ALWAYS my fault.
I was constantly being screamed and shouted at, or berated. My mother would tell me that it was my fault that my stepfather was abusive.

-Being unable to tell my mom about the racism I experienced from my peers in school because she would say “get over it”.

-Being unable to receive emotional support from my family the way my cousin does.

-Being slut-shamed by my family.

-My aunt blamed me for an incident that happened when I was about 9 or 10 when an older boy molested me.
She said that if I hadn’t been alone on the playground, he wouldn’t have done that.

-My stepfather telling my family lies about me and them believing it. For instance, telling them that I didn’t help out at home when I busted my hump doing chores and attending college and looking for a full-time job.

Sorry about this being so long, but yeah…these are just some of the ways my family has hurt me.
I feel guilty for even saying this but it’s true.


Oh, and one more…having to do desperate things to escape the nightmarish environment created by my stepfather.
I eventually wound up moving out and marrying at 24. I would have left sooner given the chance.
As weird as this might sound, I didn’t want to leave my mother but I couldn’t stay there anymore. I would have killed myself due to the emotional and mental strain.

Also, not being taught important life skills to be more self-reliant. People would judge and blame me for not knowing how to do certain things without understanding that my mother didn’t TEACH me these things.
I was never taught to do my own hair because she was too involved with my stepfather. And then when I walked around looking neglected, she would tell me how terrible I looked, while ignoring her failure to teach me how to take care of myself. People would talk about how bad I looked all the time.
I was never taught to cook and clean properly although my mother prides herself on keeping a spotless home.


I don’t know if my mother or father ever actually talked to me directly. Being the 9th of 13 children with inept parents…..I was more like a piece of furniture than a child or a human being.

Anyone who is familiar with the television version of star trek, might remember a character named 7of9. Because of the type of alien she was she had no individual thoughts or feelings. She thought, acted and reacted based solely on what “the collective” wanted (everyone of this race were wired into the same operating system). There could not have been a more accurate representation of how I was programmed. I have often joked that I was 9of13. Raised only as part of the sum total….I never had an individual identity…..and today at 57 …..I’m still trying to figure out who I am.


Hi Connie,

That’s interesting about how you identified with 7of9 of star trek. That sounds so painful to be considered like a piece of furniture. I’m so sorry.

I’m still trying to figure out my identity as well and I’m in my 50s. For me, the stress and pain and scapegoating kept me only enduring, not growing and thriving. I wonder too if I was emotionally hiding all those years to avoid getting hurt. It’s taken a very long time to come into my own.

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