When a Mother says She is the Victim of her Adult Children


book photo 16 robinI received the following request from a reader through the contact page here in the Emerging from Broken website.

“I was reading on your FB page about a post you had written about a year ago. It was about a “narcissistic mother” that demanded honor from her daughter. But I have a question for you; what about a mother that has truly been hurt by her children? I am one such mother. I have been “there” for my children countless times. I have emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially supported them in anything they wanted and wanted to do in their lives. I have told them all of their lives that I love them and believe they have the power to do and be anything they set their minds to. As a result they have thrown insults back at me and called me names. To this end they have basically abandoned me telling me I am worthless and a burden. I am a little upset that you seem to take the side of the child in most of your posts without balance. I would like to see you post that there is balance in all things. Signed, Hurt Mother who loves her children endlessly and doesn’t understand.”

First of all, I would like to qualify that in my work here in Emerging from Broken I am not advocating or empowering grown children to rise up and abuse their parents. I am not in favor of abuse of any kind. I am not supporting revenge on parents and I am NOT advocating or recommending that grown children go ‘no contact’ with their parents which I believe is an individual choice that each person has the right to make. Emerging from Broken and my work here represents the concept of equal value for all human beings and it’s about learning what love is through the truth about equal value, which in dysfunctional families is grossly misunderstood. What I am trying to do with my articles, speaking etc. is EXPOSE the TRUTH about relationships that are out of balance such as where the entitlement of parents rules over everyone or where the rules in love and relationship that apply to the children (even grown children) are not the same for the children as they are for the parents. EVERYONE has a choice about continuing or discontinuing in relationship. I am advocating for and empowering people to make those choices through looking at the truth through understanding equal value and the true definition of love.   

The first part of her question is

what about a mother that has truly been hurt by her children?” and this is a valid question; I know that there are lots of grown up children out there that hurt and even abuse their parents and I am not an advocate for that treatment but my question is always “Where did it start? Did it start with the child, or did it start when the child was devalued in childhood?” So I look for what I call ‘the truth leaks.” In this case as in most cases of upset mothers who write to me, the writer goes on to reveal other things that reveal these “truth leaks”.

This writer mentions that there is ‘balance’ which in this case I read it as balance when it comes to the blame. The strange thing is though that in her email she herself is blameless; she presents the story in a ‘hard to believe’ way. She says that she has done nothing but LOVE, validate and empower her children and the result of that was that they insulted her, told her that she is worthless and that she is a burden. This sounds strange to me because I have never met a grown child that has walked away from a loving supportive empowering parent. I acknowledge that this is just my experience but this question was asked to me, and I can only share MY experience.

But then, finally the woman states her real issue; the real problem is that this woman is upset that I take the side of the child ‘without balance’.

Here is my response to the “Dear Darlene” letter.

Dear Hurt Mother who loves her children endlessly and doesn’t understand;

You asked me “what about a mother that has been truly hurt by her children?” and my answer is that the situation you are writing about is not in my experience. I don’t write about what isn’t or hasn’t been MY experience. I am a mother to 3 children, 2 of whom are adults but I am not a hurt mother. I stopped that cycle. My writing is about what happened to me, how I faced it, the truth about the way I have come to understand it, all the things I tried and how they didn’t work, and finally I write about what did work and how I healed and overcame the dysfunctional family system that had done so much damage to me in the first place.

You state that you are upset that I ‘seem’ to take the side of the child;

I AM on the side of the child. I DO take the side of the child because that is where I found healing for myself. I took MY side but more importantly I took the side of the truth. You can be upset all you want but that doesn’t change what happened in my life. A mother and child relationship or father and child relationship doesn’t depend on the child. The child (as long as they are children) doesn’t bear any responsibility or contribute to the success of that relationship. The foundation for success of the relationship is up to the parents. I am writing about the outcome of the parent child relationship when the parent (MY PARENTS) were not willing to be responsible for the outcome of the relationship when I was a child and that resulted in the lack of relationship that we have today. I am writing about the fact that although I am an adult today, THEY taught me how to have dysfunctional relationships and when I took my identity back I had to teach myself how to have functional relationships, even with my own children. My parents are not interested in looking at their part in any of this which is their choice but I decided that I also had a choice.

I don’t know your situation but in MY experience, children don’t grow up and cut contact with their parents when they have wonderful loving, supportive parents. At least not the readers and commenters of THIS blog and please understand that THIS blog is My blog, my story, my work, my website and my opinion.

You say; I have been “there” for my children countless times. I have emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially supported them in anything they wanted and wanted to do in their lives. I have told them all of their lives that I love them and believe they have the power to do and be anything they set their minds to. As a result they have thrown insults back at me and called me names. To this end they have basically abandoned me telling me I am worthless and a burden.”

I just can’t get my head around this; you are saying that you have been this amazing mother, and as a result of your amazing love and support your children are insulting you, have called you names and basically abandoned you, telling you that you are worthless and a burden?

Perhaps your children can help you understand why they have withdrawn from you. Although I have no idea why this has happened to you, the thing is that this website isn’t about parents’ rights or parents feelings, it is about the children who grew up without knowing their own value because parents who believed that their rights as parents were all that mattered. It is about children and adult children validating that there WAS damage and that damage has had life-long effects. Validating that damage is the first step in overcoming the results of it.

Please understand that this is MY blog and it is about MY life and my experiences. Why do I have to write from the view point of the hurt mother? I am not a ‘hurt mother’. There is no healing or solution for me to appeal to my audience from the viewpoint of the hurt mother and MY website is about healing and solution. This website is about validating the child who grew up with invalidation. My website is obviously not for parents who feel that they were the ones who have been abused by their kids. I am sure that there is another website out there that will support your beliefs that this website isn’t fair to you as a mother. My parents also seem to believe that they are the victims in our situation too.

And finally, you ask me to post that there is a balance in all things. The truth is that there ISN’T balance in all things. The responsibility in relationship isn’t 50/50 when it comes to kids and parents. Parents are NOT blameless. Nobody is perfect but what does that have to do with anything we are talking about here? My mother was there for me sometimes. There were some good times, but the good doesn’t cancel the bad and the truth was pretty bad. The truth about the bad and how it wasn’t right, set me free to live. The fantasy that my mother couldn’t help it, and that she didn’t ‘mean any harm’ and that she didn’t know any better, is what kept me so depressed and struggling with my life. The thing is that even if she could not have done any better, I had a choice about how much I was willing to take. Setting boundaries with my parents (which means that I asked them for mutual respect and when they refused I realized there was no real relationship) was about validating and embracing MY worth. There is a balance in my life now, but not because I validate, accept and justify everything that they did anymore. If you want to read about enraged and unfairly treated parents of ungrateful, spoiled and entitled children, I know those sites are out there, but this isn’t one of them.

Sincerely and with love, Darlene Ouimet

I am not here to alter or sugar coat the truth for the sake of absolving parents of guilt but I am thrilled when parents are here to discover how to have better relationships with their children. My true purpose is about love and truth for everyone and I am here to validate the voice of the unheard child of dysfunctional family dynamics. I hope that this lost reader will find a website that helps her to understand her children instead of looking for one that helps her children understand her… but then again… maybe she just did.

Please share your thoughts!

Exposing Truth ~ one snapshot at a time  

Darlene Ouimet

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

Related Posts ~ “Victim Blaming ~ When you are Blamed for the Core of your pain” Also see the highlighted or coloured phrases in the body of the post.

Categories : Mother Daughter



When abusers don’t throw rage tantrums,they play the victim.I know this tactic and i can see it from miles away.No child is born ungrateful,spoiled and bad.A genuine loving parent never receives back a bad response from children.The internet is full of toxic parents playing the victim.How can they lack shame to such extent as to write this kind of letters?


I think one of the fallacies of the western culture of parenting is that children sever ties from parents because they are spoiled brats. This woman’s interpretation has a lot of wholes in it. As I was reading her letter, I thought to myself…”Is she aware that Darlene is a mother too?”

I think your response was an appropriate one, and if she reads it with an open mind, perhaps it will allow her to question her perception of why her children behave in the way that they do.

I really admire how you never waver in your mission, Darlene. That assertiveness is an inspiration.


I am a hurting mother who wants to heal the relationship between myself and my children. For now, I am low contact with my son and no contact with my daughter. I know that I am one of those ‘hurt people who hurt people’ and I am willing to take the responsibility for the current situation. I DO NOT seek absolution from my adult children.
I am still in the midst of my own healing process, and when I am further down this road, I hope to be able to have healthier relationships with my children, if they will allow it. For now, I am in no hurry. I know that I need to do my healing work before I can be more helpful to them.
I believe that your answer to her was very good and may be exactly what she needed to hear! I know the martyr mother role, as was experienced from my mother and my aunt toward me and her children. It is generational. They expected that a ‘handout in times of desperation’ would make up for all of the harm done in the past. The expectation and demand for absolution was unreasonable and abusive! No one should ‘have’ to forgive their abuser/neglecters!
I hope that everyone on the healing path will be able to gain the healing that they seek and offer that same healing to anyone who they have harmed.
<3 Beth


Well Darlene, I’ve found your website very helpful in tons of ways. And I’m a hurt mother. And I wouldn’t expect you to change anything on your blog.

I tried really hard to empower my children. I always tried to tell them that I always will love them. I tried to show them that too. If I made mistakes in getting all that across, I’m not sure what those mistakes were, at least not yet. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t make any mistakes, but I’m not sure how the mistakes I’m aware of seemed to cancel out the good I tried to do.

I am willing to take responsibility and make amends, but I haven’t had success yet.

What I know, is that I was sexually abused by the time I was in kindergarten, and involved in a violent dating relationship in high school (sometimes I just say I was raped – it depends on how much of the story I seems to need to be shared). I was also bullied throughout school, and tended to be withdrawn and depressed.

Throughout all of that, my parents criticized and abandoned me every time I really needed them. They even took the side of the people who hurt me over and over again.

At this point, I feel that my family’s influence on my children who are all now adults, has a lot to do with their attitude toward me now.

I’m working to heal what I know has hurt me and I feel like I’m making progress. I’m hoping that by becoming whole myself, I’ll eventually be able to deal with whatever my kids may choose to confront me with. Maybe I’ll see for myself what I need to be sorry for. Maybe I’ll just have to live without any family at all except for my husband & my cats.

While I’m figuring it all out, I’m finding friends who are kinder and more compassionate than anyone in my family has ever been. So if my blood family remains distant, I hope to have a new “family” of fellow survivors and healers.



wow, if she is a ‘burden’ to her kids something is wrong here…I would say that letter is lacking a LOT of information and it sounds like a pity party going on. Its like this poor ‘mother’ is saying ‘but what about me’, well I felt angry when i read her letter and I wanted to scream, this is not about you lady! Maybe go talk to your children and see what they say and examine what the truth is. There was no such thing as ‘balance’ in my childhood, it was all about power, silencing, control, and bowing down to your elders. I am a good, loving mother (who has a history but worked very hard to become who I am today), I have apologized to my children because they were raised by a broken mom, and they have said things to hurt me sometimes but that’s because they are hurting too, now that’s ‘balance’, that’s facing up to being wrong without any excuses, and I financially, emotionally and lovingly support my children, but i have never once kept a score card to keep it ‘balanced’ that’s wrong, if my children decided to walk away from me i would kiss them and tell them how much i love them and RESPECT their right to do whatever the hell they want to do- I think that lady needs to get some counselling and work on her issues….


Hi Laura
Yes, exactly ~ children are not born that way, something happens.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Hi Callynt
This was one of the more ‘respectful’ letters I have received. My heart goes out to hurting parents but at the same time my blog is not about that side of things. I had had many conversations with my own children about the things that I did wrong and the messages that I sent them through those actions.
Thanks for your comments,
hugs, Darlene


I found that so validating, thank you Darlene for making it so clear.


Hobie and Beth
My heart goes out to the parents who see the problem and are willing to work it out with their kids but the kids are not ready yet. There are so many factors involved in that! One day I might write a book (when my kids are all WELL into adulthood and I get their approval for this type of book) about healing from all angles because as a mother I sometimes feel as though I understand why my mother said things or reacted to me the way that she did, but she had NO FILTER and it was all about her, where as with me I learned to think about the kids as kids first. My past came into my parenting but I had a chance to think a lot about the way I was treated so I adjusted some things quite well and it helped that my children were ages 7, 11 and 13 when I started this process. And I still made mistakes; my kids witnessed me going through this process and they heard too much ~ nothing is ever perfect.

Hobie ~ I knew even when I was in my 30’s that my mother would eventually try to turn my kids against me and that is a whole other problem. There was this part of me that really wanted to believe that a grandparent or mother would NEVER do that, but I know better especially now. I see it all the time.

And then very often adult children are very reluctant to express themselves because they are afraid to be ‘wrong again’so the communication takes time. It is wonderful that you are willing. My daughter is 21 and she told me something just yesterday about a hurt I caused and I was shocked.. but I knew that she was right about it. And I listened and was willing to engage in the conversation. I could write for days about this whole thing. Hang in there. I know it isn’t easy!
hugs, Darlene


Great response Darlene. My mother also “told me” that she loved me many times, but her actions and even most of her words the rest of the time said otherwise, so her talk was cheap and means nothing. She probably also said a few times that I could do anything I set my mind to, but then five minutes later she would put down my worth and tell me I had no talent and couldn’t do anything but what she wanted me to do. But actually it really doesn’t matter, because the good can never cancel out the bad, and I don’t owe my parents anything for the fact that they made selective moves to honor their legal obligations to provide me with shelter, food, clothing, and may have financially supported me at times.

My mother also plays the victim, in complete isolation from reality. Her accounts as I heard them (back when I had contact with her web) were always full of holes, tangled up with lies, and twisted beyond recognition in order to manipulate whoever she was talking to into sympathizing with her at the expense of her children.

When I read accounts like this one from the mother, I always ask; where are the specifics? Why are “”hurt parents”” not held to the same standards as survivors of child abuse are? So often we are forced to go into great detail in order to prove our case or win advocates, while abusive parents think that just a few breezy lines are enough to prove their point. This mother doesn’t say that she never hit her children, never yelled at them, never neglected them while others took advantage, she doesn’t say that she wasn’t an alcoholic, she doesn’t say that she picked a kind, compassionate father as her husband, that she sent them to a school which doesn’t hit kids, that she never spiritually abused them…

There is a ton of abuse (societally accepted or not) that she could have engaged in but feels entitled not to even have to mention. I know that I spelled out abundantly clearly why I felt the way I did about my mother, but she denied and ignored everything that I said to put on her own act of self-aggrandizement about all that she had done for me her whole life and how she just didn’t know why I said and did what I did. I’m sure that is very typical.

Her words are really meaningless, though sadly they will be enough for many people, who will take her word for it unconditionally and condemn her children. My mother never went to anyone and said “I sexually abused, neglected, assaulted, screamed at, put down my children and emotionally blackmailed them into guilt and shame for all of their lives, and now one of them doesn’t want to talk to me!” As naturally that wouldn’t get a good response from most people.


After reading Hoble’s comment, I do want to add that my mother had a lot to do with my daughter’s behavior toward me. Unfortunately, I was too confused, damaged, and disabled by the abuse that I sustained in childhood to be able to go no contact with her many years ago, as I wish that I had. Along with my mother’s blaming me, I was also scapegoated by her and my entire family. It is very unfortunate that my children were exposed to this. My son is not so harsh, but my daughter is totally on their side against me. Now that my mom is deceased, I have hope that my daughter will gain some perspective and understanding. Someday, I hope that our relationships will be healed and that we can move on from the dysfunctional family influence!


Hi Sue
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
Glad that you found validation here. I think finding and giving validation to myself was one of the first keys to healing for me.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Caden
Great comments. Yes, that is exactly the thing ~ my mother alters the truth to get people to be on her side. And I finally realized that nothing was going to change that except her. Knowing that made it so much easier for me to go forward,
hugs, Darlene


reading this, i felt like i had a mom standing up for my truth and my rights and my freedom to make decisions that are good for me. thank you. it made me weepy in a good way.


Exactly, that is what happens! And it seems like it is engineered this way by them. They garner support in any way that they can. When I look back, my mom was painting a picture of me being “a little off” from the time I was a kid. I think this is part of the grooming process so that if I ever did talk she could say “well you know Darlene was always…… (fill in the blank) That is how this works for them. It is very unfortunate that your kids were exposed to it.

About the mothers who are hurt but willing to be responsible ~ In my case, my mother said she was sorry for a couple of the big things I mentioned to her but even the one about her boyfriend who came in my room and she tried to convince me it never happened, I did get a chance to bring that up as an adult and she said “she was sorry about that, but”…. she went on to excuse herself with all her ‘buts’. That isn’t an apology and it isn’t validating. It was all about her and she still never heard me. There is a difference between a mother who WANTS to hear the child and really creates permission for the adult child to say what is wrong and then when the mother tries to actually be accountable, than mothers who say a ‘sorry, but …….and go on to blame you or others for their actions anyway. (I have a post coming up that is titled “when mothers blame others”) This is such a huge subject and a hard one to do in writing.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Lisa
That’s awesome! Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
Hugs, Darlene


Hobie, I was well on my way to being a hurt mother because of my narc mom’s interference between me and my children (actually every relationship, but this interfering was most hurtful to me) After she took them, she outright lied to them about me, and lost my daughter, who had been her GC, for ever.. Hopefully yours will see over time. Lisa


I was blown away by this letter……I deal with that same thing, my mom was t “victim” still to this day she is a “victim” of a terrible teen daughter……guess what as a mother now I really cant think of ONE terrible thing I put her through……never stole never did drugs never was arrested, nothing that would make one say “wow she was terrible”…Honestly… All I did do was say t TRUTH,,,,,Her husband had sex w/ me from 9 yrs old till 15 yrs old………then A friend told me “thats not ok” after seeing it happening…(was sneakin around w neighbor girl n looked in a window of ours)But” she’s crazy n Makes stuff up,,,& was such a bad teen,,u cant believe Anything that girl says” is what my mom to this Day will say About Me………


A sorry is not genuine if the word ‘but’ follows it…totally agree x


Hi Carrie
Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you for sharing ~ it is so crazy how typical this is. (and frustrating too)
Glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene

Hi Marie,
Exactly! hugs, Darlene


My mom said “Sorry blah, blah, blah, BUT I was just trying to help you.” She told me “There is nothing wrong with your father. He’s fine. It’s marriage that’s wrong (even after she knew he molested me.) When I was a young teenager, she told me “When you get married, make sure you pick a man who drinks, because a man who doesn’t drink is boring.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

She’s been dead for sixteen years, but her toxic legacy lives on.

Darlene, your article was timely. as I am working hard to sort this stuff out.


Darlene, you are spot on. It is not 50/50 when it comes to parenting. The adults in the family relationship are supposed to be mature, wise leaders to teach and guide the children to adulthood. The difference between what I did as a child and what my mother did was just that: I was a CHILD. She was an ADULT. She knew full well what she was doing; I had no life experience to draw on. How is that balanced or fair?

My dad died suddenly when I was 10 years old. My brothers were 17 and 16, and they had their own demons to deal with. But the biggest problem for me was my age. At 10 years old, I was still a burden to my mother. Instead of getting help for herself and for us, my mom dealt with her grief and depression by totally checking out of family life. My parents had always worked nights & weekends. In fact, my father worked a day job also, so he was gone from 8-4 Monday through Friday as well. My mom stayed home on Wednesday nights & my dad on Saturdays and they both had Sundays off. While Dad was still alive, we didn’t feel neglected. After my dad died, my mom didn’t stay home at all, and my brothers were old enough to go off and do their own thing. The last thing they cared about was what happened to their little sister home alone. Mom left for work every day at 4:30, came home after 11pm, and went straight to her room and closed the door so she could drink herself to sleep. I was left alone during the week, and sent to my grandmother’s from Friday after school until Sunday night and then all summer long for the next four years. I didn’t see my mother for more than 20 minutes at a time for four years.

I look back now and I see that I lost both my parents on the day my dad died. By the time I was in high school and old enough to fend for myself, there wasn’t a whole lot that could be done to repair that damage – not that my mom was even interested in that. I spent the next five years in an ocean of conflict. Growing up with that kind of dysfunction isn’t easy, but time marches forward anyway. One day you find your teen years are gone and you wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “How the hell did I get here?” Believe me when I tell you that could spend the rest of your 20’s blaming yourself, trying to straighten out your life and looking back with regret at what could have been if you had only been smarter… prettier… more stable… had a better home life… etc. During my recovery, I realized that I spent my teen years angry at the wrong people. I was a teen that was angry and bitter, stressed and tired, with no hope for college and dreams that were only out-of-reach fantasies and I knew it. Over time, I stopped caring about the future that didn’t seem to exist. I acted out and I lashed out at inappropriate times, even alienating people outside of my family who really did try to help me. I was angry at God for taking my father from me, I was angry at my father for dying, I was angry at Life for being so unfair. I was angry at school counselors who wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell them about the abuse and neglect at home. I was angry for being labeled a liar and crazy when I reported abuse from my over-21-year-old brothers and told to stop causing trouble for my mother who was never home. The stress took its toll: I used sex and drugs as a distraction to dull the pain and I didn’t really care if it put me in danger or not.

I’m sure it would have continued like that if I hadn’t had a wake up call. It’s a story for another time. For now I’ll just say, like you, I am strong, too.

Mom threw me out halfway through my Junior year when I was 17. I was 19 when my son was born. Like a lightswitch, it changed my perspective from that of a child to that of a parent. As a parent, I could not help but compare what I was seeing and feeling with my son to my own experience growing up. I painfully analyzed the disaster I had lived through and I felt duty-bound to “get it right” with him. That was the day I realized that the person who really robbed me of those years wasn’t God and it wasn’t my poor father. It truly was the person in whose care my father left me: my mother. I finally understood that my father had to leave this earth; Death is a part of Life. But SHE hadn’t died, so why did my mother abandon me?

Why didn’t my mother – an adult – make sure that her 10 year old daughter had the help she needed when this blinding thing came out of the blue and changed our lives? How could she have cut me off from my family like that, dumping me off on whoever would take me until I was old enough to fend for myself without her getting into trouble with authorities? Why did she tell the teachers and counselors at my school that I was a troublemaker and a liar who was making up stories about my home life to get attention, ensuring I would never get the help I needed? How could she have left me, a hurting little girl, all alone to deal with my grief night after night, even when she knew I was in real emotional trouble? And for God’s sake, why didn’t she protect me when the predators came seeking a little fatherless girl to manipulate and abuse?

Above all else, why did she throw me under the bus time and time again when anyone questioned her about me or the way she was taking care of me?

How in God’s name is a child supposed to grow and thrive in that environment?

Maybe Hurt Mother is a victim of Parental Alienation Syndrome and isn’t giving that part of the story. But somehow, I think that having an ex-husband that turned her children against her would have been something she would have put in her letter.

You’re right in suggesting to her that she reach out to her children and sincerely ask them why they feel she is deserving of their disrespect. If she can’t get an answer from them, maybe she should talk to other family members to see if they have any ideas.

It’s more likely that Hurt Mother refuses to acknowledge her own role in her families’ dysfunction. Until she gets help, she’ll continue to live in a world of confusion. The ball is truly in her court. The longer she waits, the longer true healing can really begin. I hope she doesn’t wait.

Thanks again, Darlene. Peace and love to you!


It is also never the child’s responsibility to heal the hurting parent. The parent starts out with more experience and is usually a grown person. Therefore, if a child hurts the parent, it is the responsibility of the parent to heal that hurt for themselves, not place it on the shoulders of the child. I believe this ought to continue into the child’s adulthood. Just like the child has to become responsible for healing the hurt caused by others, so then it is the parent has to be responsible for healing her own hurt at the hands of her children.
I do remember, although I’ve had to amend this as she has gotten older, thinking that my daughter couldn’t hurt my feelings because she would just be a kid who didn’t know what to do with her own feelings. I don’t know that woman’s situation, but it feels like she needs to heal herself before she points fingers.


The thing that confuses me the most is that my daughter was molested, at the age of 4. I suspected it, but I didn’t know for sure, and I kept thinking I was just over-reacting because of my own experience. It was a few years later that I found “I had sex with…” written on her thigh in pen. It was really hard to get her to say what had happened and I really never got the whole story, but I knew from experience to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. I know I felt compassionate and concerned and I wanted her to know I was on her side.

I told her what I’d been through as a teenager as a way of being empathetic and hoping she’d recognize that I understood her.

From things that my older daughter has said, she seems to think that makes me weak and fragile. As my younger daughter went through her teenage years, cutting herself, smoking, taking drugs and sneaking out, my older daughter (pregnant with her fifth child at the time) took my younger daughter in, and shortly afterward tried to get me to relinquish custody.

My older daughter and my son are from my first marriage. My youngest is from my second and current marriage. My ex-husband probably had influence on my older children as well. But I knew better than to tell my kids they were stupid or worthless. If they received messages from my behavior that I didn’t mean to send, I’d really like the chance to explain myself, and try to repair whatever damage I did.



Very interesting. I read it as the hurt mother was the victim, then again, we don’t know the other side of the story that being her children’s side as tehere’s two sides to every story.

“In my case, my mother said she was sorry for a couple of the big things I mentioned to her but even the one about her boyfriend who came in my room and she tried to convince me it never happened, I did get a chance to bring that up as an adult and she said “she was sorry about that, but”…. she went on to excuse herself with all her ‘buts’. That isn’t an apology and it isn’t validating. It was all about her and she still never heard me. There is a difference between a mother who WANTS to hear the child and really creates permission for the adult child to say what is wrong and then when the mother tries to actually be accountable, than mothers who say a ‘sorry, but …….and go on to blame you or others for their actions anyway.”

Agreed, definitely not validating nor sincere. The way my mom says she is sorry is really shitty with zero feelings to it and “that’s as close of an apology anybody is gonna get,” even though it is not a true apology. I’ve had people tell me that my parents don’t know how to apologize correctly; that’s funny, when I can’t do something “correctly” people yell at me yet make excuses for them. My dad always said yea, she said she is sorry can we move on? I said no because that isn’t sincere at all and he said well, you know your mom she never gives real apologies and shut him up saying neither do you – conversation over lol.

“When I read accounts like this one from the mother, I always ask; where are the specifics? Why are “”hurt parents”” not held to the same standards as survivors of child abuse are? So often we are forced to go into great detail in order to prove our case or win advocates, while abusive parents think that just a few breezy lines are enough to prove their point. This mother doesn’t say that she never hit her children, never yelled at them, never neglected them while others took advantage, she doesn’t say that she wasn’t an alcoholic, she doesn’t say that she picked a kind, compassionate father as her husband, that she sent them to a school which doesn’t hit kids, that she never spiritually abused them…”

Agreed get tired of hearing “hurt parents” or hurt whoever as every time I hear, it’s about the parents being the victims. That hurt mom is mad because this site isn’t geared toward hurt parents but hurt children? Hmm, I didn’t like her tone on that one. Nobody speaks about hurt children out there that much, I always hear about the sad, poor, pathetic little parents and how most people feel sorry for them and condemn the kids.


Did not read the other responses to your letter regarding “hurt mother” and am placing my two cents here for there was much I had to pause over and “mull”.

I am also a hurt mother and was a hurt daughter and also a hurt wife. Mamma was a narcissist, I married one as well…patterns being what they are. My part in this drama was the roll of the eternal enabler. Even though I now….after much behavior therapy and self examination and change….now see my contribution to the problems in raising my two daughters after their abusive father left us….

I have to pause when it comes to my adult children and how they choose to “treat” me.I feel I do not deserve their neglect, but try to understand their need to fly on their own, and prove themselves to themselves. It has nothing to do with me…though it sure feels that way for I live alone and in a different state. They are the only family I have left…so it weighs heavy on them…All the more reason to avoid me…They see me as a burden…and a debt…Not as the mother who loved them unconditionally…It is unconditional…but they carry guilt they constructed on their own…their friends all remind them of how lucky they were to have me as a mom…etc….THIS they resent…I can feel it…Was it Freud that spoke about the same sex child needing to “kill” the same sex parent before they could mature? Perhaps this is the crux of the agenda here…NOT the blame on the parent…the way I read your response….It seems to me there were EXPECTATIONS on the part of the parent for the invisible contract they felt being a parent was. There is no contract.

Just trying to shed some light on this important issue. For there was a cloud of uneasiness when reading both the letter sent you and your response to it.

Children choose the sort of adults they are to be. They choose what they believe will keep them happy and safe in the ways of the world. When presented an easy path……if they were “charmed” by their narcissistic parent…and may start into adult hood with that as their ideal way to be..Without realizing the toxic effects such a choice can yield. It time destroy what ever truthful relationship they will try to establish…and possibly in hindsight realize they picked the path of least resistance and perhaps the parent they victimized by their neglect and arrogance …that parent had value and that parent had worth….Unfortunately too late….

Most enablers do not know they are contributing to their victimization for they have little self worth and are allowing unhealthy patterns to be established…Patterns the children all too quickly adopt……Usually not wanting to be the nail…and loose respect for the enabling parent…the child becomes the hammer…So it continues. Even when a parent changes…it may be too late for the adult children to accept…For they have moved away or emotionally severed themselves..leaving the parent who may have given their all….to fester in solitude.

This is see over and over again…Children who grew up in dysfunctional households learn to be dysfunctional adults…it is that simple. Relationships are organic not static…It is never too late to heal the relationships …and children may take a life time to wise up to the truth…and may even after the parent dies.

There is no reward in parent hood…not the way we have been told….The joy was in the doing…we raise them, hope we did our best by them, and set them free to be who they choose to be…If they come back to love us…we are lucky …if they don’t they were never ours to begin with….This I have learned. They are not ours to keep…but on loan to help and set free ….They don’t owe us a thing…Not even company on our death beds.


Thank you Darlene! Very well stated. I am so glad for everything you do to encourage us, and stand up for us!


My mother told people that my sister and I had abandoned her and it broke her heart because she loved us and did everything for us. When in reality we were taken out of the home because she was addicted to pain pills and was neglecting and abusing us. I was only twelve. A week after we were removed she called and told us to come and get our sh&$ and get the f$@& out, along with telling us that we were nothing’s that were a waste of space. I confronted her a few years ago about it and she told me that if we could go back in time we would just go out to lunch the next day and act like nothing ever happened. How convenient for her. No apologies given or remorse shown. When I was 20 I had some woman, a supposed friend of hers, call me to tell me what a horrible daughter I was and that my mother loved me and had sacrificed everything for me and how could I just leave her like I did. It was so confusing and guilt ridden to hear that from people who had no idea what my sister and I had endured. I even started to think that maybe this woman was right because she was an “adult”. Years later at 35 I went no contact with her, making the choice all on my own,because the abuse never stopped and this blog helped me come out of the fog and to see it for what is was. Since then I have had a few people tell me that my mother has no idea why I won’t speak to her and she is so heart broken and only tried to love me and that I won’t let her see her own grandsons. It is so frustrating to hear about her playing the victim. Great article, it helped me read between the lines of my own mothers denile. Thank you Darlene for your blog and standing up for children who were never protected from their parents “entitlement”.


I think that there is a point where we as parents “hurt parents” need a voice, not to say we were blameless in my case I never physically abused my children, I left a relationship that was clearly going to become DV when my daughter was 18 months old to give her a better life. My mother was the ultimate narcissist and abuser, and allowed my step-father to rape me and then made me apologize. I did a lot of therapy, I always offered my children that same avenue, but I bought into the entitled era, every child should have everything they want, my mother left us so I’ll never leave my child. And yes it’s your blog and your story, but in this story the factor left out is addiction, young people getting addicted to rx drugs then street drugs and they are overcome with addiction, make no mistake that this will ravage through any family mine included, pristine childhood, define that, we were low income when I first left an abusive man, but we had nice things, I have never in my life had anyone do or say the things to me my child does, using or after not in recovery. But to some end I just kept letting her do it, when all other people in my life could not treat me that way, I allowed it and even fed into it, let me get you into another program, yes you can move back in, no I hate abortions but I won’t let you go alone, the list is endless. If there was any physical or sexual abuse as she grew up she has yet to disclose this to me and while that parents story may have not been written to perfection, not everyone having blogged or online blogging she was looking for answers, clearly in the wrong place. There should be a place for people who have children who simply have disorders, addictions and other issues that have nothing to do with how we parent them. I myself would never own anything that my daughter has done and my therapist Phd, would never tell me to. To the contrary she has taught me to let go of being co-dependent and how to say no when your child adult or otherwise makes bad choices. I don’t respect women who pick a man over their child when that man is abusive therefore I don’t have to accept or love my child’s choice to be with him and subject my granddaughter to his abuse. I feel there are healthy places out there for parents who go through this and somewhat skewed to talk about truth leaks. It’s when we stand up to these children and stop being their secret keepers that they really lash out, I for one will not go back, never to being the secret keeper of how I was trashed by my child from age 9 on, her own friends don’t understand who she is. But then again, like I said, not a lot of respect for women who put the man over their child, that’s how our relationship has come to a a halt. I won’t show a three year old that getting wasted and having bad men in life is okay. And I’m proud of the work I’ve done to move past the fact that because my mother left us I said I’d never leave my daughter, well I will because it’s a healthy message to me, to her and to my granddaughter.


Thank you Matilda. You wrote:

“There is no reward in parent hood…not the way we have been told….The joy was in the doing…we raise them, hope we did our best by them, and set them free to be who they choose to be…If they come back to love us…we are lucky …if they don’t they were never ours to begin with….This I have learned. They are not ours to keep…but on loan to help and set free ….They don’t owe us a thing…Not even company on our death beds.”

It is true. Our children aren’t ours to keep and they don’t owe us anything. I REALLY don’t want to be an obligation to my kids. I don’t want to be obligated to my own family of origin either.

If I’ve been that hurtful to my kids, I’d rather they stay away than fake it. Shallow relationships are just too hard to navigate. I’ve spent my whole life trying to be what somebody wanted me to be and I never succeeded. I just wish I could actually BE MYSELF and be recognized for who I really am instead of being brushed aside for what they think I’m not.

And while my children don’t owe me anything just because they’re my children, I think they are responsible for their own part in a relationship with me now that they are all adults, not because I’m their mother, just because I’m a person.


I could imagine my mother writing this same letter to you. This mother seems seems to expect the right to a relationship with her children, which means she doesn’t believe in equal value. If she doesn’t believe in equal value for her children, that could explain a lot.

I think if every parent read your website (or book) from the point of a child–for the purpose of addressing their own wounds from childhood–they’d know how they hurt their own children. That’s what happened in my life. My kids were adults by the time I started to heal from my childhood sexual abuse. Out of my own brokenness, I wasn’t the mother they deserved. Learning to validate my own wounds and pain also taught me to validate theirs.

I didn’t try to cover up the ways I unintentionally abused or neglected them by telling them, “Nobody’s perfect” or “I did the best I could”. I told them they deserved way better and I’ve listened to their pain and anger. I’ve been a “hurt mother”, not because of what my children did to me, but for what I did to them. It’s so painful to know how much pain I’ve caused two of the people I love most in this world.

Today, I have a wonderful relationship with my children, but not because I’m entitled to it or “earned” it. My children choose to be close to me because they value me like I value them. They just really like and enjoy me.

I’m sure there are sites for parents in this mother’s position, but I think she’d find a lot more of a solution to her broken relationship with her children if she continued to read your writings and to heal herself. If she healed herself, she’d be in a much better position to heal the relationship with her kids.

Thanks for giving voice to the pain of wounded children!

Love and hugs,


Amen Darlene truer words have never been written. If the parents had such terrible children, who raised them to be that way? Children come into this world empty when it comes to anger, hurt, racism, terrorising, or abusing these are taught to children by their parent!! Tell the truth!!

Anna-Luisa Agozzino
September 21st, 2014 at 7:36 pm

I also was annoyed by this letter and couldn’t help but read between the lines, it may be unfair of me to judge – but it seemed to me what she left unsaid screamed volumes more than her vague outline and self pity…

I also wanted to identify with Caden as my experience/thoughts mirror hers.

Very, very good response Darlene, thank you so much for not appeasing the letter writer! She sounds just like my own mother.

The truth is out there.


Themis… is so extremely rare to encounter a child who simply has addictions and disorders regardless of how they were parented. Children do not spontaneously combust nor do they arive in our bellies, broken.
Something caused your daughter to go off the rails, Im not saying it was you, but even an 18 month old will have attachment reactions and adjustment difficulties caused by a sudden change or upset in their lives, please, if you are an empathetic person, stop trying to point the finger away from you so hard.


Wow! Darlene, did you ever nail it. Your response was so kick ass I have to give you a stand ovation.

This women could be my own mom writing. I can totally be accountable that I probably did abuse my mother verbally and emotionally once I became an adult because I found my own power and unfortunately I just recycled what I had learned from her. It was in those moments that I caught myself repeating the same ugly cycle of abuse and why I “chose” to get help for myself and take a deeper look at myself and my own behaviour. I will never claim to be a Saint in my relationship with my mom, but I will claim to be a responsible, accountable human for my part.

This woman is definately cherry picking the moments in her life when she did good things for her children and to me it sounds like she’s throwing her children under the bus. You are so correct when you say…when did this start. How can a child be accountable for what she or he is taught in childhood. If she did do such a fine job, she wouldn’t be writing in the first place. I know people who speak very highly of their parents, even if they did make mistakes they still spoke lovingly about them. The only people I know that say negative things are the ones that were treated like crap as children.

I can’t tell you how F….tired I am of hearing how parents did the best with what they knew, blah, blah, blah and then expect to having these words of praise come from their childrens hearts. I really have to question why these people choose to have children in the first place….did they want their own personal fan base, did they want their own personal therapists, did they want their own personal slaves and servants, did they want their own personal money makers or bragging rights to show the world what awesome people they are because they have created these amazing beings?

Please forgive me for my rant, this letter triggers some nasty stuff from my own childhood. I’m still trying to figure out why people choose to have children when it’s clear they don’t have a hot clue on how to treat them with love, honor and respect. I totally understand and respect people who have children and then discover their past gets triggered by raising their kids but they have the decency to heal themselves (like yourself) . None of us is perfect, perfect is not what I strive for. I am striving to be a balanced, responsible, accountable, spiritual human being. I just wished other people felt the same way instead of making it about their kids.

I have news for you parents….your children are a reflection of “your” parenting skills, so maybe it’s time to step up your game and check your own flaws before you throw your kids under the bus. You will gain a lot more respect from your kids by taking ownership and making your own amends to them. I chose not to have kids because that’s how strongly I felt about breaking this destructive cycle. I chose to focus on my own healing and try to understand who I really am. Not everyone is meant to be a mother or father…just wished more people looked into their own hearts and histories before they made this choice. Nuff said, thanks for letting me share.

Good on you Darlene for your empowered response!!! You Rock Girl!


Hi Darlene!
I think my mother could have written something very similar. Maybe what’s missing in this letter are the expectations this mother had of her children that were so disappointed. And I feel sorry for her that they were and would like to offer something of an explanation. I believe it shows there IS balance. But perhaps not in the way the letter writer wished.

I know that I have personally disappointed my mother by not being the daughter she wanted. She wanted, amongst other things, unconditional love from me. And she had it for a while, until I couldn’t take the way she treated me any more.

She wanted to choose my activities and interests, to control my feelings and perceptions. She wanted my “always on” gratitude. She wanted me to put her and the other family members first, before my own life, and to smile while I did it. She wanted me to accomplish the things she had in mind for me, not the things I wanted for me.

Were I to resume, my mother wanted me to be someone else. And that person was to be in her service in the ways and accomplish the things she had determined.So my love for my mother became as conditional as hers was for me. This is the first balance.

I have hurt my mother by my harsh speech and rejection of her and her harsh speech and rejection of me.
This is the second balance.

I am not sorry for going no contact because I determined I had to, to save my own skin. My mother is not sorry for her treatment of me and its very difficult consequences in my life. This is the third balance.


Hi Darlene,
I think your answer was bang on. The 50/50 thing gets me, too. I grew up with my mom quoting my great grandmother wondering when my mom wouldn’t have to be a mother to her mother. My mom had a certain pride in her voice, but what’s crazy, too, is that my great grandma was saying this when SHE was the mother of my grandmother who my mother apparently “had” to be a mother to… my mom definitely didn’t catch onto that. And then there I was playing my role, not the practical kind of mothering role but someone she needed to always be at her side and wouldn’t let go of, infantilized and parentified at the same time. Four generations alive at that time, all protecting the mothers from being hurt! That is how the cycle works.

No, it doesn’t make any sense that children of loving and empowering parents would walk away. I think the “empowering” part is important. I can imagine a parent who loves their kids in the feeling sense and wants the world for their kids but is too messed up to be able to parent in an empowering way and also to look closely and realistically at the dynamics of the family environment, regardless of intention, etc. Communication is key but kids are their own people, too, and life is messy. I don’t have qualms about my choice/boundary because I articulated my experience. It’s they who deny the truth. I do have a lot of healing to do and changing the dynamics with others that seem too often to fall into all the patterns.

The word “burden” jumped out at me, as well as the expression “as a result,” as you pointed out. Whatever is behind the situation, certainly children hurling insults and calling names is not a RESULT of being loved. There is something missing. I’m not saying that it couldn’t be “despite” all the love she tried to give/foster in her family, this somehow still ended up happening, but it isn’t “as a result.” It can’t be. Love can’t engender abuse.

A mother’s job is always to care about her child’s side, to try to figure out how best to help serve the best interest of her child—that’s the job you sign up for when you have kids (to make this clear, the best interest of the child is not for the parent to be a “servant” to the child, despite my use of the word “serve”).

I guess I have less care for my hurting mother now that I know that her care for me cannot extend beyond her own point of view. I nearly lost my life to caring for her, thinking of her, understanding her point of view, not wanting to hurt her, even just by “letting” myself tell her I was having a breakdown because I didn’t want to die and telling her was the only thing that would save my life, etc. If you can’t listen when your child almost died and is continuing to suffer, when you insist that you know better, even though everything your child is saying is about things that you know happened, she’s just stringing them together to make a story you don’t like, so you want to do some cutting and pasting… well, it is what it is. I can’t care for her if she can’t care for me, and she can’t. I don’t wish her any ill will (though I still get angry) but I will leave god or whatever to care about her. I did my part… too much pain, too much damage and too much rewiring to do as the false belief system has wreaked havoc on my life and my identity. And I know, despite my mom feeling like my words were “accusations” that in fact I wrote to her with compassion, with understanding and love. I tried my hardest, desperately, to help her get inside my perspective, to understand my experience based on the truth of the things that happened. I did my best to “balance” things, to understand her own experience, but not let that bulldoze mine. What happened happened and there’s no getting around that. I suspect acknowledging the truth brings with it fear of being pushed down, maybe not even by me but, I think, by how others would perceive her but in actual fact the only thing that is keeping my mom a horrible mom, in my opinion, is the fact that she cannot own reality. She cannot admit to how she used her daughter, how it damaged and put her daughter’s life at risk, and how there were many warning signs that she didn’t want to see, that she brushed away in favour of believing lies, because she preferred the lies and the life the lies gave her. But, you know, if anyone judged her and wanted to hurt her and pull her down and power over her after she had taken full responsibility and was doing everything to change, etc., I myself would defend her to the ends of the earth, and I mean that, because I have infinite love for anyone who is truly trying their best, taking responsibility, and getting shut down and harmed by others who imagine themselves to be superior…. so, how’s that for caring about the hurting mother? But my mom cannot humble herself like that, no one in my family can—only me saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” to far too many members of the family on far too many occasions and if not always out loud, then leading my life with that apology intrinsically, which of course only breeds anger because I was the victim and I shouldn’t have to be sorry for being the victim.


The other thing to remember is that there are a million websites out there that cover the entire spectrum of psychological disorders. If Emerging From Broken doesn’t give you the answers you are looking for, then keep looking. This website’s focus covers a very specific aspect of abusive relationships. They won’t all “speak” to you and you shouldn’t expect the website’s owner to change direction when it doesn’t. Darlene, you don’t have to engage them in conversation. You don’t have to feel like you need to defend yourself or your site for your focus. Simply explain this is a site for survivors of parental abuse, direct them to Google for more info on their own quest, wish them well and don’t stress over it. They’ll find something else eventually that is a better fit to their life experience & hopefully it will lead them down a path to healing.


Or she can start her own website, blog on abusive children and how to heal as parents!!!1


Before my mother died, she asked me once to take her out of her facility to shop, on a COLD Thanksgiving evening. She “needed” cough drops, she said. While shopping in the gas station “store”, the only place that was open, she was verbally obnoxious to me, loudly and in front of a clerk. her. When we got into the car, I said “look Mom, I get that your family spoke like that to each other, so you might think that is love, but it isn’t, it just isn’t, and you are not to speak to me like that, please. There was a very pregnant pause. I think we hit on something there.


I can speak as an abused child and my story of how I learned to love myself again after being beaten and verbally put down hence all my self esteem and confidence shattered. As a parent, yes my children have abused me at times, my daughter hated me for nearly 2 years when she was 14-16 years old, but that seems to be often a natural pattern for girls of that age, maybe hormones, who knows, but the fact is that after she had gone through that stage she came to me and apologized. She told me she had hated me in that period of time but knew she had no real reason to, that in itself showed me I had brought my daughter up with totally different values and that was precious to me. My son went through a stage of verbally abusing me too, but that was down to life circumstances which I was unable to change and he’d turned to drugs, he now has a baby and is a in completely different relationship with me, we are once again close. Yes these things hurt me, but I stuck by my children as I know they had their own issues and I was their rock and have always been there for them through thick and thin. I can honestly say they were difficult years, but as my ‘Mother’ had taught me well in how NOT to be, we got through them and now all is fine. I am 58 now, my Mother is 82 and she still denies any abuse from her, my dead Father gets all the blame, but I have moved on from that, I have faced her with facts and now our relationship is on MY terms, if she chooses to ignore me now, it doesn’t bother me. It takes strength and a lot of work on oneself to get to this stage, but I have done so and my life is so much better for it. I wonder if this lady should look at the reasons why her children don’t want to speak to her ? Is there sibling rivalry ? Or similar reasons my children went through these stages ? I joined this site as I am a child who has emerged from broken hence I don’t think this is the right place to discuss issues that are the reverse to what Emerging from Broken was set up for……………..And thank you for the amazing posts you do here, they have helped me a lot and made me feel less alone……..bless you x


Wonderfully written Darlene. I agree with every word here. Children of any age don’t just randomly chose to hate their parents. If you asked my father, he would tell you that he was always there for me, that he took me for walks every night as a baby, took me on camping trips. He may have been there for me occasionally between stints in jail. And yes, he took me on camping trips where he didn’t bring food, tents, blankets, or anything besides his booze and drugs. He stole from me instead of providing for me. But in his eyes he was father of the year and I’m heartlessly keep him out of my life now. It’s amazing how far people can twist a story to make themselves look like the victim.


“I have never met a grown child that has walked away from a loving supportive empowering parent.”

Have you ever seen adult children who were rage-a-holics from birth? Who started using drugs and alcohol at a very young age, and engaged in criminal behavior? Before you say “it’s the parents fault” remember lots of families have one child who is just born “different.” I’m not saying it’s OK to scapegoat one child, as I know what that feels like as it was done to me. But I can assure you that I have met many abusive adult children and they didn’t all “learn it at home.” I’m tired of parents being blamed for everything, especially mothers. My own son is very angry at me because his real father left him before he was born and my own family rejected him because I was unmarried at the time. The culture abused him but he blames me. And now he’s an abuser just like my own father… even though he spent very little time with my biological family, he acts exactly the way they all do. It showed me in the harshest possible terms that “nurture” doesn’t always overcome “nature,” and genetics does play a factor.

My son even uses the same abusive phrases that my father uses, and he never ever heard them from me or his adopted father! Never! It’s as if certain personality types have all read the same playbook and alcohol and drugs make things infinitely worse. Just so you know, I don’t drink at all due to the alcoholism that runs rife in my well-educated upper middle class family, yet my son does in spite of knowing the problems of alcohol in our genetic structure.

Perhaps you don’t believe in genetics or inherited personality traits, but I do now… I never did before, and I SWORE that “things would be different” with me and my son. But they weren’t. He is just like the rest of my extremely cruel and dysfunctional family. So you can blame me all you want, as he does, but it really rests with the individual as to how THEY behave. Not me. Especially when I see him go through relationship after relationship, job after job, and he had every benefit when he was growing up no matter how little or how much I earned. His personality is just like my own father and his biological father, and that is a crying shame. I can do nothing about it. Talking to him, loving him, showing him, helping him, supporting him while he was growing up… none of it made one bit of difference. Not one bit of difference.

And that is my ever-lasting heartache for what I have never found a cure. All children love me except my own child. He is lost to me and I pray for him every single night and every single day. He is never far from my mind, and I have had to face the fact that he is responsible for his own life. I can’t keep blaming myself or asking “what more could I have done? What could I have done differently?” Some people are “just born that way.” Parents don’t always make abusers. Do you blame the parents of psychotic killers? (Well, I’m sure some people do). Is that really accurate? Is that really fair?

I “love my son from a distance” and I try to not let my overwhelming co-dependency and self-blame ruin my own life. I hope my child does well and finds happiness midway in his life and I hope he can give up drugs and alcohol and learn something other that anger as a way to react to disappointments in this world. For his sake and for mine. But “loving him from a distance” is all that I can do (and it’s his choice, not mine). So I will.


Alaina in #35 wrote: “Love can’t engender abuse.”

Tell that to the number of battered wives who were abused by husbands or other people. Love certainly CAN be abused. Jesus preached nothing but “love” and he was crucified for it!

Our problem is when do we stop putting up with abuse? I can assure you, between people: parents and children, it can work both ways.


Dear Darlene,

Thank you for this. I can hear my stepmother so much in this, talking about her ungrateful “no good” kids. So many parents won’t acknowledge that they create the conditions under which their children start to act out and then they point to us and say, “See how bad she is?”

What I find most interesting in these comments are not so much the people who just flat out deny your point of view, but the ones who say yes, you are right…but… whatever. “But you don’t know MY children” or whatever. Kind of like your own mother’s insincere apologies.

I am so grateful for your courage and clarity.




I don’t think you can compare the love the parent gives a child and the fruit of that to the love a spouse may give to an abusive partner. Those are different types of relationships. One, is where a mature adult is supposed to provide a safe environment where a child can grow and flourish. The other is where two mature adults come together to form a family.

With so many people here posting of their experiences in abusive marriages, partnerships, friendships, etc…where they realize they were drawn to those types of relationships because of how they were treated as children, I think it’s fairly clear that those types of relationships are not loving.

So i agree with Alaina. Love does not engender abuse. If people you love respond with abusive tactics, then they are the ones not understanding what love truly is, and it’s up to the person being a used to love themselves enough to walk away…..end of abuse….moving on.

I’m sorry your relationship with your son is not how you want it to be. But honestly, what can you do? His anger at not having his father around is valid, regardless of the reasons. So perhaps that is a place to start? Maybe talk to him about how he felt growing up without him could get him to face his own issues.


Hi Sophia,
You are right.Abusers talk a lot about their no good kids.I remember coming back from the park one day.As i was approaching my appartement,i overheard my own mother talking on the phone,complaining about me.She was talking about how bad i am,about how i must be going through a late puberty (at 22?!).She described me as if i was disabled.She was talking about what a curse i have been in her life and how she was punished to have a daughter like me.Practically,she was throwing dirt at me like i was her worst enemy,not her child.Of course,she didn’t say a word about HER insults hurled back at me,nor about how she threatened to hit me or kick me out of the house so i wouldn’t have a place to sleep at night.

I agree that love can’t engender abuse.Battered wives and Jesus being crucified are a whole different story.Abusive husbands are toxic and can’t be compared to children who are born pure.They are like sponges who absorb what parents give them.


HurtMother’s letter reeks of entitlement. Like my NMother because she gave birth all her actions are to be without blemish? I think not. Children grow up to be adults and when your actions result in a reaction that’s up to the parent to own. Hurt Mother needs to get down off her cross.


Callynt, thanks for your response: “Maybe talk to him about how he felt growing up without him could get him to face his own issues.” Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked. Do you honestly think that in over 40 years I wouldn’t have already tried that? Many times over the years? And when does “trying to talk to someone” become abusive because they DON’T WANT TO? Sometimes you have to respect them enough to just leave them alone.

Sometimes there are personality disorders and brain changes that are caused by genetics or drugs and alcohol that “love” can’t overcome. I wasn’t “drawn” to an abusive relationship, as I was determined to never recreate the abuse I suffered through. And I didn’t. My husband is the nicest, gentlest man who never even raises his voice. And he adopted and raised my son, and my son was never shouted at, hit, beaten, or anything else. My son was supported in so many ways as I made sure his life was different than mine. I blamed myself for years for the way he turned out. But how much control does one person really have over another? Can one person change a person’s basic personality? It’s the “nature vs. nurture” argument, isn’t it? And the more I have learned about alcoholism, the more I realize that some people just aren’t going to “listen” and “don’t want to hear it.” They have to find their own way in this world, regardless of who might love them or not. Just ask an alcoholic’s ex-wives.

Even a “perfect” mother can’t overcome OCD, Narcissism, Borderline Personality Disorder, Anger / Rage issues, schizophrenia, paranoia, obsessive-compulsive and all the other disorders that can come from drugs and alcohol. Some people are just “born that way.” Predisposed to these problems and they have to spend a lifetime learning to control themselves and their emotions. I think most if not all of us here on this board has / had a parent who didn’t learn these things. But to blame parents wholesale for the behavior of an adult child doesn’t take into all the factors of personality development or behavior.

I have friends who have pointed out to me repeatedly that it “isn’t all my fault” as they have three or four children, all of whom have very different personalities. A few of them have sons in the same situation as mine, while the other children are fine. It wasn’t until I started learning more and more that I stopped blaming myself (partly) for how my son turned out, and I was able to learn to “love him from a distance.” But that doesn’t change his abusive behavior towards me, his co-workers, job, relationships, wives. And he’s responsible for that, not me. I don’t believe that my love is “abusive.” And to say that I didn’t “love enough” or “talk enough” adds salt to the wounds.

My comment really wasn’t intended to differentiate between the different types of relationships people have, but at one point when my son was in his thirties, I had to tell him that I did not accept abuse from anyone else in my life, and I would no longer accept it from him. If he wanted to have a relationship with me, he would have to treat me with respect. I also made the huge mistake of gently bringing up his drinking, which had caused him to lose his job and his wife. That was the end of me!

My main point is that it took me years to realize that my family history – on both sides of the family – is full of high intelligence, high-functioning alcoholism, prescription drug addiction, OCD, Narcissim, Borderline Personality disorder, agoraphobia and other personality disorders.

I stay away from almost all of them in order to protect myself and have peace in my life. I never in a million years thought my son would choose to enter into “The Devil’s Den,” but he did. And he certainly didn’t get it from either of us, his parents. His biological father is an alcoholic and so is my father and many relatives on both sides… it “runs in the blood.” Many of them have quit drinking, thank God, and work “programs.” You can tell the ones that don’t.

It took me years and years to understand this, but that’s why I don’t drink and I rarely ever have. My grandfather was one of the first AA members in Chicago, back when Alcoholics Anonymous was just getting started. I grew up knowing the steps and the principles. So I have stopped blaming myself for my son’s drinking. It took years for this to happen, many Family of Alcoholics reading and meetings, and lots of codependent studies for me to finally realize that an adult child makes their own decisions that can have very little to do with the parent.

Of course, my son is in his 40’s now and he’s lived his own life the way he sees fit. If people here want to say it’s all because of the parents who came from dysfunctional families and how they messed up the child by recreating negativity, then I suppose I should never have had children. I have often thought about how foolish I was to think that I could “change things” as if I had omnipotent control over other people in this world.

My son will not talk about anything, even though I have tried for many years. The main thing I have to do is leave him in peace, pray for us all, and hope we all can find peace.

But if people really believe “Love does not engender abuse” then as I said, “What about Jesus?” Was he not crucified for his message of love? Did battered women simply “not love enough” or “not love in the proper way?” Their abusers would certainly say so. I grew up with that kind of thinking, and I won’t accept that other people’s behavior is “because of me.” We all react to things in different ways and if we can’t control our emotions and burst out in anger whenever a person doesn’t get their way, then that person is going to have a hard row to hoe in later years. Regardless of how much a parent “loved them” or not.

If it were “all my parents fault,” then I wouldn’t have accomplished anything that I did. I would have married the same kind of controlling, abusive husbands that my sisters did. But I didn’t. I never thought in a million years that my own child would turn out to be the same.

But hey, if it’s all my fault as a parent, then as I said, people like me who came from dysfunctional families just don’t measure up and shouldn’t have children. Unless they are somehow as perfect as the people I see responding here. Unfortunately, I am excluded from that club.

I know this site is for adult children of “bad parents” so I will refrain from commenting further about this. But I will look forward to finding out how people here are capable of this “love” that does not engender abuse. I would do it in a heartbeat, and I’m sure that even Jesus would like to know the answer to that! And I don’t even go to church…


Julie Gregory #39: Thank you so much for your healing words, spoken from real experience. I long for the day when my own son “comes back home” to the love and support that has always been waiting here for him. We can’t enable the negatives in his life any longer, but I will jump at the chance to support the positives. Your post, rather than making me feel like “it’s all my fault” gives me hope for the future. So glad to read it.

God bless and thank you so much.


Hi Laila
Welcome to EFB ~ The “I’m sorry but” line really bugs me. And when abuse is excused as “no big deal” or a misunderstanding that is extremely damaging. Thank you for sharing,
I am glad that you are here!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Liz,
Welcome to EFB ~(If I have already welcomed you please excuse my double welcome! I have trouble keeping track sometimes) Thanks for sharing your story with us. You show the whole progression of how this happens. Children have feelings and children need to be validated and supported and to have those feelings validated ~ YOUR anger needed to be heard and understood! You were going through a lot. Great to read your post. Glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene

About the letter ~ There is so much to this whole thing. I think that sometimes by the time the mom is ready to really heal the kids are afraid to trust that she isn’t going to turn on them again. Time and time again on this blog, people share that they ‘fell’ for their mothers apology, only to be hurt again.


Reading more of the comments (and I haven’t read them all), thank you Matilda in #24.

As you said, I too believe that my son doesn’t owe me a thing. Everyone has to make their own way in the world eventually, and regardless of what people may believe, I did and do love him in spite of all the negatives and the “water under the bridge.” One day I hope he will “see the light” and feel our love and be welcomed back with open arms.

Thanks for telling your story so well. Makes all the difference in the world. I have to stop reading and commenting, though, because I know this is a forum for children who were / are abused by parents, not the other way around. So I will keep silent on this issue from now on, I promise! But thank you to all the parents who have been on both sides of the fence, and for making it possible to find some way “home.” At least we can keep trying.


Hi Heather
Good points. Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene

I admire you so much for sticking to your own healing work and for sharing so openly and honestly about the difficulties with your kids. You are willing to say that you know there was a problem and you are willing to listen now. That is the first step. Most of us here do not have that permission or ‘an open door’ from our own mothers. Hugs, Darlene


I have recently gone low contact with my Mother. I tried to reach out to her to discuss things, she slammed that door in my face. She can be nice to me and does give me things. This does not matter though, it makes me feel like a whore, but no doubt it makes her a martyr in her own eyes.

My Mom has said she is sorry, she included her explanation. But there has never really been a chance for me to express those conflicts I have dealt with my whole life because of my childhood. Expressing my feelings has always been off limits.

Very early on, soon after I left home and had a breakdown, she made it clear that she would not allow me to “beat her over the head” and the conversation over my childhood was permanently over. She has held true to that and simply ignores me if I try to address it.

My Mom was very dramatic in her body language regarding my parenting of my son. Her disapproval hung in the air under the weight her unspoken words but clear criticism. This felt all the worse because she canonized her golden child’s Mothering skills, dubbing her an “old soul” and refused to see any mistakes she made. Being covert, using deep sighs, frowning, silence and turning away also allowed her to be unaccountable for what she was doing with me. She denied it, feigned complete ignorance and insisted I was misreading her.

My son got to an age where I realized that he too would pick up on my Mother’s objections to my parenting. He had already expressed great confusion over the idea that I had the same relation (birth daughter) to his Grandma as his Aunt, my sister did. Clearly, to him, his Aunt was a closer to his Grandma. He asked me once if I was a real daughter to her like his Aunt.

So, once when she was in her full objection mode and was sucking all of the air out of the room because I was being firm with my son (Probably like no, you can’t have a slurpee and an ice cream), I gave it to her. I told her she wasn’t a great Mom and had no right to express her displeasure over my parenting and that she was the last person I would ever take parenting advice from.

I did it not so much in defense of myself, but because I realized my son had been watching me be reactive, shrink, question myself, be humiliated and I knew instinctively that over time, they could quite possibly influence his image of me. My Mom isn’t dumb, she got much better with me around my son after this. She even sometimes will tell me my son really loves me, it is not even close to goddess mother compliments she has given my sister but it is probably as close as I will ever get.

As my son has gotten older, I have put in some safeguards, letting him know I had a bad childhood and Grandma made a lot of mistakes.

I guess if the past were in the past, even if I had stuff to work through, I would still be fully engaged with my Mom and my family. The thing is, despite the apology, I am still the family scapegoat. They say the same things about me now as they did when I was a child. They still blame me, project on me and use me to hold themselves shameless. I am not an equal in my family and when I point this out, I am diminished further by being simply ignored.

In one article Darlene talks about the decision to go no contact and how that decision was ultimately made by her Mother’s refusal to address what needed to be worked through in order for there to be a mother daughter relationship. I would say to all of the Moms who want to mend fences, be ready and waiting to hear and validate every feeling, every experience and all of the effects from their children when the time comes. I believe it will but I also understand dysfunctional families are often enmeshed and sometimes adult children have to untangle themselves before they can be ready to address these issues with their parents.

Speaking just for myself, there is a big, empty hole where my Mother was supposed to be, it is a point of deep, deep grief. I would give just about anything for this not to be the case. Accepting that she did not love me enough to protect my sense of self and that she deflected the blame from herself when it became clear at a very young age that I was not okay, is crushing. That she still does it makes it even worse.


How can children choose the sort of adult they are to be? If a child grows up with abuse, the child will have trust issues, may become abusive or may become a totally compliant door mat.
We are not born with all the knowledge we need to grow up and start our lives. The ways that we are treated, regarded, or disregarded are how we form our self view. If our self-esteem is not set in place, we don’t have it. We ‘choose’ our lives through the grid of what we think about ourselves but the choice is not a choice made from a healthy self view. I hope you will read more of this website. There is a ton of info here about what we are looking at in this one post.
hugs, Darlene
p.s. I disagree that there is no reward in parenthood. I have three children, (ages 17-23) and there is no greater reward in my life. I have fought hard to repair the damage that I did by passing on the false definition of love to my kids, I have fought to restore the truth in all our lives and the relationships that we have today are fulfilling and beautiful.


Hi Ms.Sunshine
Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you.

Hi Larae
Ya, people tell me that kind of stuff too. But that is the lie they tell. Sometimes I give an example of ‘why’ and people are shocked. And they should be shocked because the way that my mother treated me IS shocking.
hugs, Darlene


There are a couple things that I want to ask people to keep in mind;
~ It is extremely important to remember that LOVE is not abusive EVER. Abuse and love do not co-exist. People don’t beat people because they LOVE them.
~ Even if there is narcissism, depression or whatever ~ children are entitled to be upset about things. If your mother was in the hospital for a few years of your childhood and it was never her fault, the child is still entitled to have feelings about it. The child should be heard and understood even if the feelings are anger and frustration. This is a huge part of the problem we are discussing. When parents excuse the problems the child had because of the problems they had it totally discounts the child.
There can be two victims in the story. (eg. mother and child) but the parent is not the victim of the child. And when the child is accused of being the problem or the abuser, there is no hope for healing the relationship.
hugs, Darlene


“Have you ever seen adult children who were rage-a-holics from birth? ” Catherine, I have to admit, you lost me right here. Your interpretation of your infant’s expression/temperament is a clear indication that you brought some of your own issues into your relationship with your son (we all do).

I understand once the addiction takes over, there is not much you can do to reach out to him. But he is not “just like” anyone, he is as unique and individual as each one of us are.

I can see your deep hurt and your love for him. I would suggest maybe reading some of the excellent books other parents who have dealt with addicted children have written, like “Beautiful Boy.”


Yes, you wrote “his anger is valid” and that is something so important to say. My daughter is still a bit angry about so much of her childhood being about ‘the healing process’ and me standing up to her father, and all her grandparents. She understands how necessary it was but at the same time it was really hard for her and HER feelings, her anger, ARE valid. I think that is the difference for me. I validate my children’s rights to be angry and to have feelings. My mother says that I am wrong, that I am exaggerating and constantly reminds everyone that she had such a hard life. (which is constantly invalidating to me)
hugs, Darlene


This site isn’t for children of “bad” parents. This site is about taking our lives back from many different situations and circumstances that defined us as unworthy.
You are missing the entire point of this blog post. This is not about blame it is about truth.

I don’t appreciate your sarcasm when referring to the other people posting here. If this is not the right place for you to heal, that is fine but please don’t put others down.
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. Jesus was killed for his message of love by people who did not love him. There is an important distinction there.


Wonderful post. The continuation of healing for me. I have been all the players in this drama, The injured child, the blamed and hurt mother and the child who has cut off contact. Being emotionally paralyzed through abuse as a child, I put my own kids in harms way. As one daughter was around 20, she really struck out at me. As I look back rightfully so. It took years and we have worked through so much and will continue.

And now I have walked away from the abuser. I find the freedom of thought with no longer having contact, has opened up discussion with my kids and all in their 30’s now, healing is great! Perception is everything. I a conversation with my abuser and his son last year, they see me as the abuser because I do not live to please my abuser anymore. He even told me he did nothing wrong.
As an older woman, this letter is very important, I will monitor myself as I age to never become that women, Thoughts do matter and we can influence who we become. I agree Darlene, When a child is accused of being the abuser, there is little hope for healing. Thankfully, I saw my daughter’s innocence and knew she was coming from pain and NOT abusing me.


Hi Jennifer,
Great to see you! Thanks for sharing your great points!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Julie
Thanks for your comments,
hugs, Darlene


Susan L.
YES~ you said that your daughter was coming from pain and not abusing you. That is exactly what happens.
Love your comments,
hugs, Darlene

Hi Kaycee
Love your comments, thanks for sharing. I too wish everything was different. 🙂 I know that hole.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Sophia
Good points. That is what is so triggering for so many I think ~ Thanks for sharing.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Molly
Exactly! that is NOT love. Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene


Very well said as always! Thanks so much for your input. 🙂

Thanks for the applause! Made me smile! Your comments are awesome. I caught myself too and that is partly why I write this website. 🙂

Yes, expectations are a valid point here. Thanks for your comments.
hugs, Darlene


Years ago, I attempted to talk with my oldest brother about our childhood. He said then that he had worked through it some time back. But regarding our parents he said “But I think they were doing the best they could.” Which to me is a copout excuse to give them a free pass when they won’t even to this day acknowledge that anything was wrong. Per them, I’m the one hurting them today, so that’s all that matters. They see me as the problem. Which is why we have so little contact.


Hi Ted,
Welcome to EFB ~ thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Welcome to EFB ~ (just so you know, Caden is a man)
I posted this letter because I knew that a million people would see/hear their own mothers in it.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Allanna
Welcome to EFB ~ Yes, children are born blameless, pure and empty.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Christina
Great to see you weigh in on this!! Yes, that is a huge part of the issue; the mother seems to think she has a right to have relationship. (this is why I see such a difference between mothers who acknowledge that there is/was a problem and open the door to the child without their own agenda attached)
I can relate to your story with your own kids too except that my kids were younger when I realized.
I love your comments! Thanks so much. I especially love this part;

Christina wrote: “I think if every parent read your website (or book) from the point of a child–for the purpose of addressing their own wounds from childhood–they’d know how they hurt their own children. That’s what happened in my life. My kids were adults by the time I started to heal from my childhood sexual abuse. Out of my own brokenness, I wasn’t the mother they deserved. Learning to validate my own wounds and pain also taught me to validate theirs.

I didn’t try to cover up the ways I unintentionally abused or neglected them by telling them, “Nobody’s perfect” or “I did the best I could”. I told them they deserved way better and I’ve listened to their pain and anger. I’ve been a “hurt mother”, not because of what my children did to me, but for what I did to them. It’s so painful to know how much pain I’ve caused two of the people I love most in this world.

Today, I have a wonderful relationship with my children, but not because I’m entitled to it or “earned” it. My children choose to be close to me because they value me like I value them. They just really like and enjoy me.”

hugs, Darlene


I once lived next door to a very wise woman who said. Children do not ask to be brought into this world we do it through our own selfishness. That was the beginning of my awakening about how I was treated, and the behavior of the adults when I was growing up. I do not remember all the specifics but when one mentally ill parent commits suicide after threatening, and both my mother and sister call his bluff and do not believe him and a week later he is gone by his own hand. What was even worse is that I saw mom play the grieving widow in front of the callers, and could not help thinking what a farce at age eleven. After that it was all about her, she did not speak about him and all traces of him were taken away, and the one thing he did leave me I had to beg for when I was an adult. I go could go into detail ad nauseum about what went on later, but to be specific I was depressed, stuck, and damaged, and further damaged when she couldn’t understand my issues and did not get me help when she knew there was a problem. It was constant screaming about grades, weight, friends, chores etc.. Then she wonders why I do not want anything to do with her and won’t let my children see her. I have taken responsibility for me and my family to break this cycle, she refuses to admit her role in any of these thing I mentioned, and plays the hurt parent to anyone who will listen. When I try to explain my position to extended family, the old hat is brought out “Well she is your mother and their grandmother”. My goodness, upholding the maxim that I owe her something, I did not ask for any of things that happened while under her care, in fact she did know better she just did not want to do better


I am grateful for this site and your point of view, Darlene; camaraderie of the commenters here. When I first started looking for support online for sites about estranged parent child relationships, all I found were sites supporting parents, answering parent’s questions about their child’s distance. When I googled, “My mother doesn’t love me,” this was the site that popped up and I was so glad to find it.

“I am writing about the outcome of the parent child relationship when the parent (MY PARENTS) were not willing to be responsible for the outcome of the relationship when I was a child and that resulted in the lack of relationship that we have today.” – This is exactly why I don’t have a relationship with my mother. In my case, I am positive that I have wasted countless days thinking about her, thinking about our relationship. It’ll be a year in November, and honestly, there hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought about her and our relationship. Because it’s always been My responsibility to make the connection, my burden. And I’m tired of it. I look forward to the day I don’t give her a second thought, as I am positive she doesn’t give me one.

To the mother who wrote you, My mother said all those things to me. But she also viciously attacked me, verbally and physically. She betrayed me and said, “Who, me? I didn’t know…” She offered monetary support, but when I needed it, it came with an emotional price tag, and obligation, when it was even forth coming. I supported myself through college and am still paying on my debt 15 years later with no end in sight.

As a parent, you give because you love your child unconditionally, not because you expect something back in return. My guess is that you expect some kind of adulation for the things you have given, at the very least. There are plenty of places online with support for you. This site is for the children.


Alaina, I have not once heard “sorry” as in a sincere apology from anyone in my family. I’ve heard “Sorry but”, “Sorry if you”, “Sorry but you”.

I have also wondered “…why people choose to have children when it’s clear they don’t have a hot clue on how to treat them with love, honor and respect.”

My mother explained to me that “That’s just what you did” referring to marriage and children. Even if many years later she told me, well, told a friend of hers while I was present, that had she had the opportunity to go back and choose again she would have chosen not to have kids.

I wrote above why I think she had children and what she wanted from them. Only a parent knows why they choose to have kids. I have also chosen not to. Part of it is because for a long time I couldn’t trust myself not to unconsciously take up the abusive attitudes of my own parents and part of it is because I finally feel like I have a life of my own and I don’t want to give that up. My mother is of course unhappy that I am not married with kids. I’m not sure why, given her own admission that it would have actually been her preference.


I have certainly seen my own dysfunction raising my son and how it affected his mental health, life and choices. I feel overwhelming sorrow as I know it contributed to his suicide at 31. It is generational in both our families. I am trying my best to correct this dysfunction in my life. I did not know any of this 40 years ago. Just that I wanted a child because my other son was taken from me. Very faulty thinking. My childhood abuse truely changed the person I was born into a person desperate for love. A doormat with no self concept or worth. No way should I have had a child. My husband was no better. It was a setup for disaster and our son paid the ultimate price for our selfish choice. Thank you Darlene for rescuing me from my despair and setting me on a path of hope. 🙂


wow Beth I also experienced a handout in times of desperation as their proof that they were wonderful supportive parents and I was the needy broken ( worthless) daughter.
They loved that situation/position of power because it required subservience and endless gratitude.
In reality it followed years of damaging childhood abuse.
Of course they were blameless. No balance in our relationship. Thanks for your insight!


Kaycee, you too have said it so well: ”
I guess if the past were in the past, even if I had stuff to work through, I would still be fully engaged with my Mom and my family. The thing is, despite the apology, I am still the family scapegoat. They say the same things about me now as they did when I was a child. They still blame me, project on me and use me to hold themselves shameless. I am not an equal in my family and when I point this out, I am diminished further by being simply ignored.

In one article Darlene talks about the decision to go no contact and how that decision was ultimately made by her Mother’s refusal to address what needed to be worked through in order for there to be a mother daughter relationship. I would say to all of the Moms who want to mend fences, be ready and waiting to hear and validate every feeling, every experience and all of the effects from their children when the time comes. I believe it will but I also understand dysfunctional families are often enmeshed and sometimes adult children have to untangle themselves before they can be ready to address these issues with their parents.

Speaking just for myself, there is a big, empty hole where my Mother was supposed to be, it is a point of deep, deep grief. I would give just about anything for this not to be the case.”

Me, too. I have that same huge hole in my life from both my mother and my son. My son learned to mistreat me and disrespect me from watching other family members. And I thought maybe he would be able to have a “different” relationship with them, thinking they would never damage his relationship with me. Au contrair! They went out of their way. When I heard the telephone calls and saw letters some of them had written him, when he was a very young teenager (and earlier) I was just horrified. I believe in “no contact” when it’s necessary, and I almost “died trying.”

And thank you for pointing out that “sometimes adult children have to untangle themselves before they can be ready to address these issues with their parents.” That’s what I was trying to say, and you did so much better.

I will wait for the rest of my life for my son to “want to talk,” and when he does, I’ll be here ready and listening. I’m glad that this conversation is taking place. FAMILY Dysfunction affects everyone, in a myriad of ways. We’ll all trying to find our way home. Dear God, please show us The Way. Amen.


This post really resonated with me. I’ve been NC with my father for 4 years, and my stepmother (who I am still in contact with) continually invites me to family get-togethers, insisting I need to be the bigger person because “You know how Dad is…” Her mantra is: Family is Everything and she’s always telling me what a bad relationship she had with her father, but he was still family, still her father.

This negates everything I feel, and also implies I’m being petty or ungrateful. She has minimized my father’s abuse for all these years and wants me to do the same. Even my half-siblings say, “We had to deal with it. Why can’t you?”

Maybe because I’m NOT willing to sweep it under the rug. I agree family is important, but not when you’ve been verbally abused for 40 years.


I’m noticing something here. There are different kinds of “hurt mothers” and the topic of this post is triggering.

I find comments about “doing the best they could” difficult to digest because I feel like I DID do the best I could and I made mistakes. However, I don’t mean to tell my kids “That was the best I could do and you can like it or lump it.”

I want my kids to know that the best I could do was probably less than they deserved. I can’t change what I’ve already done, but I’d like the chance to come to terms with them.

They really don’t owe me anything, but a better relationship DOES require effort on both sides. They aren’t responsible for my healing, but now that they are adults, I’d appreciate their patience and understanding while I work on my own stuff.

The hardest thing for me is that I really DON’T KNOW what actually hurt my kids. I didn’t beat them, or relentlessly criticize them.

I guess I hope that makes me different from the parents that abused us.


My mother is THE MOTHER, THE GRANDMOTHER, THE WIDOW and THE VICTIM and only yesterday she has again communicated to me that she insists on keeping it that way. To her I am and always will be HER son, HER little one (though I am the oldest of three siblings), the scapegoat, the problem child, the underachiever, the one who failed her and who is unfaithful to her. She even tried in her most charitable ways to equip me with the old clothes of my younger brother who is her new golden child, heir of her house and successful poster child. Thanks to Darlene’s blog and book I was able to keep my distance and parry most of her attacks without too much damage done. I remained calm and though at one point I was almost overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and mourning I didn’t give in to them. I see it as a big step towards healing.


“There is no reward in parent hood…not the way we have been told….The joy was in the doing…we raise them, hope we did our best by them, and set them free to be who they choose to be…If they come back to love us…we are lucky …if they don’t they were never ours to begin with….This I have learned. They are not ours to keep…but on loan to help and set free ….They don’t owe us a thing…Not even company on our death beds.”

It is true. Our children aren’t ours to keep and they don’t owe us anything. I REALLY don’t want to be an obligation to my kids. I don’t want to be obligated to my own family of origin either.

If I’ve been that hurtful to my kids, I’d rather they stay away than fake it. Shallow relationships are just too hard to navigate. I’ve spent my whole life trying to be what somebody wanted me to be and I never succeeded. I just wish I could actually BE MYSELF and be recognized for who I really am instead of being brushed aside for what they think I’m not.”

Agreed. There’s a lot of this ‘you owe me’ shit from parents out there. My mom especially is like that both of them are like after “all the money they spent on me/us”, it would be appreciated if we paid them the money back. What money? The shit spent onus sure wasn’t a lot! “Classless, narc, uneducated parents” want to be paid back, then don’t have children. They act like we are “some kind of loan to them” like I told people/ex-therapist where’s the love, mutual respect, and equality? Never got an answer from these fools. I was told children are a gift and blessing, I said to people how so when you make your kids to be maidservants? What blessing is that? Using kids as a “gift” to showcase around to people like novelty or brand name item. We are just a novelty to the public whatever sounds good to their ears from my parents’ mouths then badmouths us when people aren’t around.

“Amen Darlene truer words have never been written. If the parents had such terrible children, who raised them to be that way? Children come into this world empty when it comes to anger, hurt, racism, terrorising, or abusing these are taught to children by their parent!! Tell the truth!!”

Amen!! Everything is taught which is learned from somebody yet one shrink agreed with that then he contradicted himself saying the kids can become not horrible if they break free or something stupid like that I heard. If ignorance is taught in the family for 8 generations, that’s pretty hard to break. Yep, let’s tell the truth! I told my ex-therapist who is a mom tell the truth, stop sugarcoating shit with this oh they are your parents, blah blah. Tell the truth about these abusive generations in the families then we can get somewhere and yep she didn’t like that. I told her as a mom you need to open your eyes much wider than what they are right now. I am not a mom but I was placed in parent role by my narcs, the way they act are like little children.

This letter sounds like my mom playing the victim ‘I could never understood why my children hate me. I can see why they would hate their father, but why me??’ She said I am abusive verbally, yep, they are towards me. Who are the very first people who started with this verbal abusive shit? They did and told my mom why not dish it back? Don’t like the medicine, then don’t prescribe it! People have told me that isn’t the right approach and told them that’s fine, but this is how I deal with it been doing it this way for 18 yrs.

Gotta get ready will finish this later.


Karen R,
You are welcome and thank you for your insight as well. It was just part of their justification for abuse to keep me as the needy beggar daughter, rather than to really help me. They assigned me the position of scapegoat, but I never accepted it.

I relate so much to what you have said. I believe that you are right on the money in your statement, “And while my children don’t owe me anything just because they’re my children, I think they are responsible for their own part in a relationship with me now that they are all adults, not because I’m their mother, just because I’m a person.”
However, I do believe that the fact that ‘we are their mother’ is of significance to us and to them. We have our children and they only have one real mother. I believe that it is in their best interest to work out/heal their relationship with us because of the impact on their entire lives. That does not mean that I am putting the responsibility on them; I am more than willing to meet them half way, but I can no longer take the entire responsibility for the relationship.
I have heard that ‘building a relationship is like building a bridge, you have to build it from both sides’! I tried so hard to build the relationship with my mom from my side only, but that didn’t work. With my children, I am waiting to see some willingness to do their part.
My hope for both of us, and any mother in our position, is that a miracle will happen and the healing will be begin and be accomplished.


I haven’t read all the comments yet, but I just wanted to clarify when I said that love doesn’t engender abuse, what I mean is that it is not the love itself that is the source. It is not BECAUSE of LOVE that a person becomes abusive; it’s not “as a result,” as the mother of the letter wrote. If a child becomes abusive, something else has to have come into play. As I said, it could well be that it happens “despite” parental feelings of love for their children and all their best intentions and all their attempts, etc., but not “as a result of.” Love simply is never itself the reason why hate/anger has emerged, nor why it is being expressed in whatever abusive manner. Something else has sparked the anger and either they have personally experienced abuse (by someone, though not necessarily the person they turn around and abuse afterward) or they’ve been taught/modelled abuse (seen it and understood it as okay) or they haven’t had their own abusive actions corrected or, I don’t know what else.

I’m giving this as the easiest, purest, most average and normal example I can think of to explain what I mean by not having their own abusive actions corrected (sparked not at all by any kind of abuse). It’s pretty normal for, say, a three year to get mad if one of his siblings is playing with a toy he wants to play with but the sibling doesn’t want to give it to him, so he tries to steal it. The sibling struggles to keep it, and the kid pushes or hits so he can get it. It’s bad behaviour but it’s not at all outside of normal. Where did he learn to hit? Possibly nowhere, possibly ingrained, primitive behaviour (not necessarily because his parents hit each other or anything like that, but maybe just because in the process of learning about your body and your abilities and your power as a living, active being, through interaction with others, you learn that hitting is something you can do), but whether or not this turns into abuse (i.e. a pattern of behaviour) will have to do with how it’s handled by the adults or how the toddler reacts to whatever the consequences (maybe the sibling steals one of his toys next time and he learns his lesson that way, who knows). Babies have been shown to have the capacity for empathy for other babies/people, but it’s also obvious that their own (natural, normal) narcissism can make it so empathy is lost completely in favour of selfishness (as in the case of hurting the sibling). (This same toddler in another circumstance could watch another kid steal from his sibling, see his sibling crying about it, feel enormous empathy and give his crying sibling one of his own toys to try to cheer his sibling up.) …Of course there are also children who come into this world who are more difficult to raise (but this isn’t their fault either), though yes, as adults, despite all the reasons why we may act the way we act, we are responsible for our actions. Our actions may well be the result of our belief system that was instilled in us in our childhoods, but we still remain responsible as adults. It’s the only way society has any hope of working. (Otherwise we have no grounds to hold our parents responsible; after all they were victims, too, more than likely… mine I know were). I try to hold onto the fact that people are entirely responsible for their actions and that equality must reign supreme, at the same time as being understanding and empathetic as to why people are the way they are. Age and position do matter, though. Not to mean that you accept abuse. Just that, for example, in my family, things seem to be all backward where there is more understanding and requests for empathy going upward so the child is responsible for caring for the parent and why they are abusive as a result of their own dysfunctional upbringing (which has nothing to do with the child; it’s not the child’s fault that his/her grandparents abused his/her parents) than there is caring and empathy to the damage caused to the child by the parents themselves. Care should not go upwards like that (not at the expense of care going downwards to the child), which is not to say that children abusing parents is okay or “better than” parents abusing children. Abuse is wrong pure and simple.

I hope maybe this clarifies. I do have empathy for those mothers who have lost relationships with their children and really do not know how to go about repairing them, though they want to. I cut off from my parents the first time, I can’t remember now, maybe 4 years ago. I did so for my health. While I’d written my mom letters, trying to address issues, nothing was settled, and for a number of years I was just trying to work through my own brain but I was still stuck in their dysfunction. I was very sick emotionally and knew I was never going to get better while I had those ties. I didn’t explain things much other than the fact that I knew I needed to do this for my health. I didn’t explain because I couldn’t. WHile I felt guilty (extremely guilty) during that time, looking back I don’t feel that I should have. I was damaged by their dysfunction and just because they were lost in the fog doesn’t mean that I wasn’t abused or that I didn’t have a right to do what I needed to do to save my life, nor that they were responsible for the damage they caused. (The other factor is that they were not in therapy, not doing anything to really attempt to look into things; I’m sure they’d talk about how much they were trying and probably they were in their own way based in their own dysfunctional experience of what that means, most of which probably just felt like more of the same to me, manipulation and the like). When I reconnected two and a half years later, I had figured out what my whole story was (there are still details I’m still coming to see, but by then I got the major arc of my story and what had happened to me)… My ultimate feeling is that you can’t force anything. Parents can’t force their children; children can’t force their parents. What you can do is try to figure yourself out, try to be open, first with yourself, then with others, and hope for the best.


Did my mom write this?

Mine also says that she was a wonderful parent who knocked herself out for her kids only to get kicked in the teeth by them.

In fact, she enabled unethical, cruel, even criminal behavior in order to get people on her side and this resulted in a sick family system. My sister was allowed to steal, lie and cheat; my brother to be drunk, disrespectful and in appropriately sexual; mummy just shrugged. I was so miserable growing up that I left the second I finished high school and never went back to live. Now she’s 88 and I know they take her money and abuse her and that she needs protection but I will not go back to be re-traumatized. If she’d set things up right in the first place I never would have left and none of these sick things would be happening.

When I was 44 my mother looked me in the eye and said “it’s your fault the family’s not close. You should have done something to make us close and you didn’t.” As a middle child who’d moved 3,000 miles away the day after high school graduation, I was flabbergasted and thought she must be kidding. I looked her in the eye to see she was serious. She was nuts; there would never be justice for me in that family.

My dad was an awful man–in all of my years I’ve never met such a selfish, terrible person though there might be someone as rotten in a prison somewhere. He treated his kids and wives like crap stuck to his boot. Counselors have told me that it’s a miracle I’m not a felon after the way I grew up. Yet he told everyone he talked to that he was a “great guy” who’d just had “bad luck in getting three rotten children.” I will never forget his words; this is a direct quote from the old prick.

Neither of my parents understood that you have kids, then set up the family so that it’s safe and comfortable for each member. You put effort into it, just as you plant and grow a garden, so that everyone grows healthfully and reaps security from the family over their lifetimes. They thought that kids are possessions, like houses or cars, that belong to you no matter what you do or say to them. My mother actually said “you don’t have to do anything to raise kids–they just grow up on their own.” I remember thinking, yes, that’s true if the kids have no choice.

My mother never taught manners, respect or discipline. She’s lost a couple of hundred thousand dollars “loaning” money to her kids over the years. She’s rarely paid back, but keeps loaning more money and doing favors no matter how badly she’s treated by her two golden children, who make it clear to her that they’re waiting to get her estate when she dies.

My mother would have been a much better parent if she’d said “no” to requests for favors or money unless the borrower repaid, and insisted that family members behave honestly and respectfully. She’s tolerated and encouraged poor behavior since the family began 60 years ago yet talks about what a great parent she was and what hard work she put in. In fact, both parents are trainwrecks and never should have had kids.

I agree with Darlene that kids do not leave loving, fair, supportive parents–there would be no reason to walk away from such a wonderful thing, and that something is missing from the letter this mother wrote.


Catherine (#47),

I find your post very defensive and offensive, which leads me to believe that you would choose to have people say your son is all wrong and you are all right. Stick with those posts as you find them, and skip over mine, and I’ll not respond to you anymore.

Kaycee (#56),

I 100% agree with you. No one is born angry. I will NEVER buy that lie. Your post reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who I met several years ago through work. Her son has had issues with drugs, alcohol, the law…you name it. As I was getting to know her, I would listen to her discuss the issues he’d put her through. As we got to know each other better, I learned of her hasty teenage marriage after she became pregnant with her son to a man who was abusive.

Once she left that marriage, she floundered a bit..partied hard..things women in their 20s do sometimes. Except, she had a little one bearing witness to it all. She remarried a man who developed a crack addiction. She and her husband are both doing well now, and they realize the impact their pasts have had on the choices they’ve made. Unfortunately, I don’t think she extends that type of compassion to her son. One thing I’ve learned that if people keep talking, they will tell you the whole story. Once she told me of how she and her son were sitting in a car after she’d had too much to drink and she was telling him of how he was the only one who knew how far she’d come and how much she’d gone through.

I literally could NOT respond. That’s when the light went on for me, and I thought to myself…Uhhhh what about what he’d gone through. For you it was growing pains. For him, this was a heap of dog poo that had been poured over him by you, his father and your husband during his growing up years. Yet you guys expect him to rise above? I changed the subject, but that has always stuck with me.

Darlene (#57),

Thanks for responding. Yep, it would be easy to say your daughter just got caught in the crossfires of all that was growing on, but it doesn’t mean she should be less angry. Allowing her to express her anger lets her validate herself as a person as well, and that’s pretty much all anyone is asking for. Many times an apology can be healing, but more importantly, the message that your emotions and perceptions are allowed goes so much further.


Thanks, Alaina. Well said.


Callynt # 80 well said. The abuser in my life always reminded me of how “good” I had it, but did not mention the troubling times we all went through. I had her best friend tell me that she was to be admired and I said why, we both went through the same situation but she was an adult I was the child and she did not seek help when she knew I was floundering and still under her care, she was blind to what was happening, except when retelling my “misdeeds” to family to make herself look like a martyr and continue the drama from when my father died. She refused to be responsible for a situation she helped create by her inaction and laid the blame on me from ages 11-18. Even when I started hinting in my later teens that all was not right at home, people did not believe me.


Darlene, I am very grateful to have discovered your page. I am currently in the process of making some serious changes in my life. I have stopped paying bills for my parents and stopped being the enabler for their behavior. Though I think it’s matter of opinion whether or not they physically abused me, they definitely psychologically abused/manipulated me, emotionally and verbally abused me, and at least 75% of the time that I did anything nice I was accused of having ulterior motives. As an adult they have controlled my life for years. (I know, I have allowed them!) They have crushed every dream I had either because they don’t believe in it or they claim I’m “not trusting God to work things out.” (I’m pretty sure God expects us to get off our butts and work for things.) They have stressed me out to the point of having ulcers and knots with their overbearing criticism and yelling at me (even when I was paying their bills and spent all of my savings on repairs for them and was giving my mother spending money every month). When I was going to medical assisting school and working at a grocery store, she was downright nasty to me every day (she was the one who picked up the application for me from that store to start with!) about my selling tobacco products. She beat that horse day and night until I began trying to slip out the door for work without her seeing me. When I finally landed a good job in a well-known local hospital, she was not happy. Working night shift is not right because God made the night for sleeping. I’m having to work a job that is wearing on my back (the back I told them repeatedly was killing me as a teenager and instead of taking me to the doctor they nicknamed me “Granny” and made fun about my aching back. I’ve now had one surgery and will need at least two more… But I was making it up!) because I am too big of a b***h for any man to want to marry. I get having house rules that anyone, no matter how old, needs to respect, but yelling and fussing and selling your adult daughter’s belongings (its not as if I wear revealing clothes, my friends think my clothing is prudish because I never show cleavage and never wear tight clothes) is just wrong.

Having said that (and there’s lots, lots more) my parents are not all bad. There are happy memories. They are definitely selfish and have never helped me financially or with anything like that, but we do have some fun times. I am at a stage in my life, however, where I realize that the severe depression and suicidal struggles are because of unconfronted childhood abuse and continued enabling of their cruelty. I am secretly seeing a counselor and actively making plans to get my own place. I have been writing a list of the things I can remember from my childhood (I was 11 when I first decided to kill myself, but I couldn’t do that to my younger siblings so I changed my mind.)

Throughout all this, I feel guilt. Guilt that it is somehow ungrateful/mean/ungodly to confront my parents (after all, my Mom endured far worse neglect and abuse in her own childhood), guilt that I have not done something before now that would not have let this compound for so many years, guilt that I will shake up our family a second time. (My younger sister ran away years ago, in the middle of the night, and got caught up in a life of sex and drugs ) Fear my parents will want nothing to with me and that they will act like my grandmother did, “I tried my hardest, y’all didn’t know what it was like being a single Mom in the 60s, y’all are exaggerating/lying/ungrateful.”

This post, however, has helped give me some boldness about taking these steps to better the life God gave me, which is being miserably wasted. Yes, there have been good times, but that will never make up for the fact that ny parents have abused and manipulated me to the point of having to deal with severe depression and hopelessness. I am so lucky to have my best friend, and I told her that everything about this situation and how it has affected my life is completely unfair and wrong, but I am too tough to be a victim. I now realize the steps I must take in order to live a freer life, and I’m taking them, even if I would literally rather shoot myself in the head than pour out my heart and cry in counseling, and wade through this horrendous mess. But I’m a fighter and I’ve never been a quitter. So I’m going to make it through this, only by the grace of God.


Wow my first thought was who is this mother trying to fool?
I know as a mother myself, I have made a ton of mistakes and I have apologized but know that isn’t enough. Although I have varying depths of relationships with each of my children, I do speak to each of them.
My own mother refuses to work on our relationship unless I take all the blame. She has in the past and continues to try and turn my kids against me. When I started to pull away and stood up to her one time right before I went no contact, she told my then 10 year old daughter, I don’t deserve this and neither do you. All I did was I wouldn’t let my daughter go with her overnight until my mother and I could have a real decent conversation without her being hypercritical and not taking any blame for her part. Calling me a name in a parking lot, telling me her best friend said I was “trouble” and claiming she stopped talking to her but in reality she didn’t. That was was just the tip of the iceberg. She often put me down. Even admitted that her own mother did this to get and wanted me to let her know when she did it to me by singing a song. I thought that ridiculous, why couldn’t I just tell her? She didn’t really want to change.
Many of us have been trying for years to let things roll off our backs so to speak and if we go no contact, most likely it was with much thought, pain and not an easy decision. That’s how it was for me. I realized once I was I contact, how much more peaceful my life was, I was able to start healing without negative feedback about me, and she proved to me as soon as I went no contact that she would go to any lengths to isolate me by lying to family, friends and my kids about what really happened. She blamed me and played the victim of her ungrateful, disrespectful daughter who is so full if anger. See I was made to never be ok in her eyes or good enough or anything but negative. I saw a no win on either side and decided for my health to cut communication.
Thank you Darlene for all the work you do. And I absolutely love your response back to her. She does need to sit down and really listen to her children. And I mean listen to hear them not listen to respond.


I wanted to point out that aside from the issues many parents refuse to admit or accept as their responsibility, as in the case of my mother and the dangerous situations she put me in that aloud abuse, and as in her “blacking out” or refusing to remember her moments of physically attacking me. Even IF she didn’t know any better, she is still responsible. And a true amends have never been forth coming.

I’ve seen some parents who look very much on the outside like good parents. They say and do all the right things. They don’t hit, verbally abuse, etc. But there is still an unspoken expectation that the child is there for the parent’s pleasure, fulfillment, or whatever emptiness they are trying to fill. There is still an inability to soothe one’s self and the addictions may not manifest as something taboo, but the codependence and addiction is still there.

It’s a very easy trap for adult children of abuse to fall into when they have their own children. We don’t DO the same things our parents did to us, but we’re still trying to fix something that is NOT wrong with our children that was wrong with us. Just because you do the opposite of what was done to you does not necessarily mean you’re doing the right thing. The whole point is to see your child as an individual with different needs than we had. They aren’t born with the same wounds we had, but by trying to repair those imaginary wounds, we hurt them because we make it about us, not them.

Codependence can be passed on without anyone ever taking a drink, doing a drug, or raising their hand. Co dependents use people to make them feel better, whether it be as a scapegoat, golden child, or whatever role
the parent consciously or unconsciously imposes on their child.

It is true for all of us that intentions don’t mean a thing. We will not be judged by them, our children can’t and shouldn’t read our minds. Example: You can have the best intentions if you believe in spanking and you don’t know any better, but you are still hitting your child. There will be real consequences the child has to face within themselves and your intentions won’t change that. Good intentions won’t make it better. If you’ve wronged someone, you don’t excuse yourself because you had good intentions, you acknowledge and accept responsibility for your wrong and make amends by treating the person with dignity, as a seperate human being. Rather than as an extension of yourself, which is what we do when we look at our children and all we can see is what we’ve done (good or bad).

I have been facing these things down with my children. I did set up a codependent pattern with my daughter when she was little because I did not know any better, but that doesn’t make me any less responsible. When she was little, I protected her from everything. I freaked out at the smallest infraction on her happiness and well being. We rarely went out. She threw terrible tantrums about the smallest things, was very sensitive to everything. In contrast, she being my first, I pushed her to hurry up and do everything. I feel so bad for yelling at her almost on a nightly basis to stay in her bed at bedtime. For setting the example myself, freaking out over the smallest things.

Since I’ve begun getting an inkling about personal responsibility for myself, figuring out where I end and others begin; I’ve had to do a lot of backtracking with her to try to teach her that I am responsible for my actions and my own emotions, but not hers. I am responsible for making amends but I’m not responsible for “making” her into a better person. I am responsible for doing better today, because I know better now.

If she’s having a bad day, as we all do, she has a tendency to blow up and blame everyone around her. I know it’s because I took responsibility for that when she was little. And because of the example I set. So, now I’m trying to teach her it’s ok to feel grumpy, but it’s not ok to assign others with the responsibility of “making” us feel better. I will comfort her, hug her, and be with her; but I’m not going to jump and do whatever she wants me to (which usually is a trip to a store) or engage in a confrontation with her (which, again is a pattern I set). It’s hard to teach when I have so often in the past set a bad example, but I think she’s doing good with it. I am doing better, too. I don’t act the way I’d like to everyday, but I know how to take responsibility for it now. I hope.

I don’t expect that things will be perfect when she is an adult, we have no way of knowing what is processed as a child. I remember my own mother assigning motives to me that I had no understanding of at the time. And, of course, she was way off. Because she couldn’t read my mind. When I talk to my daughter, I can see that. She doesn’t know. She’s a smart girl, but she doesn’t really know how to articulate her feelings any further than in a sort of primary color kind of way.


I have two sons. One is a stepson. The other is 20 years old. The 20 year old is just getting started in life and moved out three months ago. I miss him a lot and I get worried about him. He has a number of risk factors going for him. His dad left when he was six and his stepmother treated him like a special case that needed to be “fixed”. He has ADHD and dyslexia, which seem to be genetic. His paternal grandfather was a gambling addict and had served time in jail, was extremely promiscuous, married multiple times and abandoned entire families and moved on to a new wife, repeating the process several times. On my side of the family, we tend to be sober, steady people, but my father despite his well educated and church going demeanor led a double second life, having affairs, and lied to my mom repeatedly. He was rarely home, because he was a “workacholic.” No one on my side of the family abuses alcohol and drugs. I created as stable of a life as I could as he was growing up. I did not run with different men, I tried to help him with his educational issues, and I stayed steadily employed, and he always had decent food and clothing. We were affectionate and my son and I were very close. I don’t drink or use drugs. Never have. However, my son was exposed by me to problem with my family. I had meltdowns sometimes when they were picking on me — even today, if I get wounded by them I can easily find myself crying but not for an hour or more. I pretty much stay distant from them and as long as I do, my mental condition seems stable. I find that when I am around them, a chronic pain condition that I have seems to flare up, its like my body goes into a fight-or-flight state and the stress makes my chronic illness flare up. So if things ever go wrong for my son, I know I will be partially to blame. It also took until he was ten to understand that there was no kind of physical punishment that was acceptable. I wasn’t a spanker, slapper, or hitter but I was a hair-puller. I only hope my son does not inherit his family’s impulsivity problems (my son’s dad now has gambling/relationship/sex addiction issues) and if he does, I will understand that some of it might have to do with my shortcomings as a parent. However, I don’t think I will take the blame for everything–if it does go wrong. Does that make sense? Son did a couple of stupid reckless things at age 18 but seems to be doing well now. I agree with Catherine that some things are nature rather than nurture. For example, identical twins studies have shown this–twins separated at birth often seem remarkably similar, and often alcoholism and addiction issues are controlled by genetics. Mental illness can be inherited.


Hi Alice,
I’ve received apologies but always vague and about what they wanted to be sorry for… and the worst the ones that make me feel guilty for their guilty feelings. Once I had a problem with my grandma. I’d moved provinces and was getting emails from her where she was being kind of pushy about wanting to hear from me and I wrote back saying “I’m not at your beck and call, lady” along with just a normal update. I didn’t mean it in a mean way; I was irritated but I’d meant more as a joke, or as good natured as possible. THen I didn’t hear from her for a long time and knew I’d hurt her, so I wrote and we talked. My issue was that when I actually lived in the same city as her, I hardly ever saw her. She doesn’t have much money but she’s very hung up on it; she would never visit me for a cup of tea. She felt she had to take me out for lunch or whatever and pay but if she didn’t have the money, she couldn’t. (She also wouldn’t accept my offers to visit her because she never wanted me in her apartment, which she felt was too messy). On my birthday one year, we’d made plans. She was the only family in town. But then she lost her bus pass and was really upset and had to cancel on me. I offered to go over to meet her, but she said she wasn’t in the mood now, exhausted and upset from traipsing around looking for her lost bus pass and having the plans spoiled, so my birthday was cancelled. hah. (I found a couple friends to go out for beers with me, though). So anyway, when I was moving provinces, suddenly I was seeing lots of her again and then getting all these emails once I’d left. It irked me how we were always expected to accept her as is; if she didn’t want to be a grandma, if she couldn’t be a grandma, okay, but then don’t come to me with expectations, telling me it’s time for me to be writing her again. I wrote her a nice email trying to explain myself but the experience was insane. The apology I got came with the lament that sometimes she felt that she was responsible for every bad thing that ever happened in the family (and there’s a heck of a lot of tragedy). But here’s the kicker: she never actually understood what I was trying to communicate with her. So, there I was trying to ease her guilt, telling her that she’s too hard on herself, and trying to explain what I was actually trying to talk about, the specifics, not the whole goddamn dysfunctional family and her role in whatever, and then after that was her acknowledgement that yes she was too hard on herself, and that was basically the end of it. I was left turned upside down through this whole rigmarole, wondering what the hell just happened. My mom gave me an apology and the lament of how she would have to live the rest of her life with how she had failed me growing up, but again not actually acknowledging the problems I brought up. It feels like it wasn’t about her feeling, empathizing with my pain and how I was damaged, so much as the pain to herself of being a failed mother. It remains about her, always. She wanted kids, a lot I think for her self-esteem and identity. She is a Mother. She has her story. I have mine. It still remains about her as the Mother, even if sorries are a part of the picture. As long as she can’t really feel for me and understand the full extent of what she is exactly apologizing for, it’s never going to work; it’s just meant for her. Besides the apologies also came with the “buts” and how hard it was for her with me the way I was. And then there’s my dad telling me how they’re the victim of me and my brother thinking I’m grossly mistaken (but he’ll be “compassionate” older brother to me anyway). Ugg. Yuck. No thanks.

Maybe one day I’ll have kids. I don’t know. I guess I don’t have that many years ahead of me but still have time. I’m not feeling it right now (wouldn’t make a good mother right now, either), although I do really like kids, so you never know.


I’m not sure it’s about blame, as much as responsibility. Blame implies shame. Responsibility implies something more healthy and action oriented. Shame makes nothing better. Amends and letting go of what one can’t change is more inline with responsibility. Nature vs. nurture just kind of seems like an excuse or another thing to blame. Yes, there is only so much you can do once a child is an adult with their own mind. Yes, some people have actual mental illnesses, but gene manifestation is triggered by environment. It’s both, not just one or the other. And, a gene is reinforced generation after generation when the habit is ingrained into the family. As I said before, one can be codependent without ever having a taboo addiction.


Hi Sara C
Welcome to EFB~ It sounds like you have found the right website! We talk about all of this, including the guilt and fear. I realized that my guilt was part of how I was groomed enabling them to have greater control. All of this is explained here. (My book is a great place to start and is kind of the fast track)
And Yes there is usually good and bad and as you say, the good doesn’t cancel the bad. It was so important for me to understand that!
hugs, Darlene


On the subject of nature vs. nurture and mental illness, etc., I once met a girl who was schizophrenic and she had the most loving, healthy, supportive family I could imagine. The way they got along was so foreign to me. The schizophrenia was a part of her, of her life, etc., but it wasn’t who she was. She had a voice. She’d apparently just found the right drug combination, so she had nervousness about getting back into life, after she’d had to drop her classes in university and cope with the episodes she was having, etc. I felt distinctly like she was normal and healthy where I felt screwed up, foreign, and like something was deeply wrong with me, in comparison to her, even if I knew it had to do with the impact my family’s actions had on me. I was isolated with the damage (damage that wasn’t supposed to be spoken about or that made me a worse person if I did speak about it; I was simply supposed to know better and not be affected by XYZ, not be damaged because my family didn’t want me to be damaged, so therefore I shouldn’t be), whereas this girl had the love and understanding and support of her family. Her mental illness was not a secret, not something to be ashamed of, not a burden, etc. I didn’t know how to be friends with her. I felt too different. (I think, I hope, I’d feel different now because I’d be able to be honest about who I am, too, but that’s how it was for me then)


First of all everyone, this letter came to me about 4 months ago. I thought a long time before publishing it here. AND the reason I published it is because I knew that at least 50% of our mothers could have written it. I get letters like this all the time which is really sad. This was one of the more respectful ones but the point is that she is unwilling to see her part in any of it which is very dismissive of her children.
Hugs, Darlene

YES that is exactly what is going on. I did not realize what a huge trigger this post would be for some. (although I maybe should have because I have run across many people who want to be validated that their parents were abusive, but they want to retain entitlement with their own kids. It doesn’t really work that way.)
I see a huge difference in your posts compared to mothers who have conditions on the healing.

I am so so sorry about your son. You are also one of those moms that ‘gets it’ and I am happy beyond words that you are pursuing your healing.
love, Darlene


Jamie (#85),

“It’s a very easy trap for adult children of abuse to fall into when they have their own children. We don’t DO the same things our parents did to us, but we’re still trying to fix something that is NOT wrong with our children that was wrong with us. Just because you do the opposite of what was done to you does not necessarily mean you’re doing the right thing. The whole point is to see your child as an individual with different needs than we had. They aren’t born with the same wounds we had, but by trying to repair those imaginary wounds, we hurt them because we make it about us, not them. ”

I have been trying to find a way to verbalize this for the longest time. You expressed exactly what I’ve been feeling since I was a kid. The assumption that something is ‘wrong’ with us erroneously made by our caretakers, because of their unresolved baggage causes so much pain. Realizing there is nothing ‘wrong’ is a great way to begin changing what has been done for generations.


Jamie, “Codependence can be passed on without anyone ever taking a drink, doing a drug, or raising their hand. Co dependents use people to make them feel better, whether it be as a scapegoat, golden child, or whatever role
the parent consciously or unconsciously imposes on their child. ”

I totally agree with you and I have seen this at work in myself as a parent and I have to constantly be diligent. A child’s self esteem can be damaged by a Mother who does too much as much as a Mother who does too little and setting boundaries is not always easy for me. I am lucky to have my child’s birth Father as my partner in parenting and he knows how to gently tell me when I become over protective or over permissive and I can tell him when I see him making an error. I also have an open honest relationship with my son where I can tell him when I have made an error and allow him to express his feelings about it right then and there. My goal isn’t to not make any mistakes but to do my darndest to make sure he isn’t carrying any baggage into his adult life from his childhood.

And incidentally, if alcoholism runs rampant in one’s family, it is probably not such a good idea to make a baby with an alcoholic if you are of the belief that genes alone can determine outcomes (I am not).

I have had a really rough life because my Father left before I was born because my Mom was pregnant with me and I look like my Dad. I barely know him and have only met him a few times. Sometimes I sit back and just think “Seriously?” It was like being punished for my Mom’s choice in who to bed down with even though that had nothing to do with me.


Everyone ~ please excuse that I am unable to answer all the comments.

LOVE your comments especially in number 85! Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Callynt says: “It’s a very easy trap for adult children of abuse to fall into when they have their own children. We don’t DO the same things our parents did to us, but we’re still trying to fix something that is NOT wrong with our children that was wrong with us.”

This is what my mother did to me. She has three daughters. She assigned the oldest daughter all her positive traits–her (youthful) slender figure, her flirtaciousness, and the kind of looks she wished she had but didn’t, and the kind of grades she “knew she would have been capable of had she just buckled down.” In other words, older sister was everything Mom wished she would have been but wasn’t, she was her triumph, she fulfilled all of my mom’s dreams for herself (popularity at school/church, intellect) etc.

My younger sister was my mom’s mini-me in looks, but she was blonder. She was also nurturing, a willing helper, and everything my mom said my sister believed literally and she believed in her righteousness as much as as if the words Mom said came out of the Holy Bible.

My mom saw the worst traits she had reflected in me. She disliked my chattiness, my minor learning disability (auditory processing), and she didn’t like my round face and naturally curvy (she considered it fat) feminine figure. She didn’t like the B’s she saw on my report card instead of the straight A’s of my sister’s. She didn’t like my sensitivity. My mom’s sisters picked on her, and when the same happened and my golden sister picked on me, it almost seemed to give my mom some kind of perverse pleasure (instead of being angry with an older sibling for being cruel.) My mom spent most of my childhood coaching me so that I “would not have to be like her” and telling me I would “end up like her” if I kept being myself. She would talk ad nauseum about my shortcomings. At some point, I would just scream back at her that I was nothing like her, I was not broke, and that “you can’t fix what ain’t broke.” I was about 11 years old. I understood, intellectually, that I was being labeled but there wasn’t any way to escape it. I was there to be abused and mistreated. That was my only role. Everytime I tried to escape by forming relationships outside their circle, once friends became intimate enough they got to know my family, once they knew my family, I would lose most of those relationships.

Because I hated being “labeled” I have resisted labeling my son. Yes, I know he is ADHD and dyslexic, but those are educational diagnoses. When he was under 14, disliked sports, he was interested in the arts, wanted to be a chef, and liked Lord of the Rings and other fantasy and sci-fi genres. Sometimes I wondered if he was going to be gay (and then praying if he was, my mom/family wouldn’t say something that would make him want to commmit suicide) but then at about 15 with hormones rushing in he began to follow wrestling and starting playing sports and being part of a fantasy football league. At 17-18, he became an auto jock. At 20, he is a mix of all of the above and wants to become a computer programmer. Despite being dyslexic, he has beaten me twice in Words With Friends (and I was an English major). I wouldn’t have predicted any of these personality shifts. I try to tell him he is not stuck in one place. And as far as the past goes, I have had many many conversations with him in which I have told him that I have had many shortcomings as a parent, how sorry I am that I often did not know what I was doing, that I hope I didn’t “break” him and that if he ever thinks he needs therapy or something to settle any issues that might come up when he is older, or if he ever gets angry about my shortcomings, I would pay for and go to therapy with him. I had that conversation the last time after his 20th birthday. My son says, “Mom! I don’t want to have that conversation with you again! You were a good mom and I always knew you loved me and that you were there for me. If I ever have a problem with you, I will let you know…..geeesh!”


So many great and thoughtful comments. Jamie, you have a gift for understanding and stating ideas clearly. It took me a long tine to recognize the abuse and neglect in my family, since there was no poverty, substance abuse, physical or sexual abuse, divorce, or denial of needs. Just two parents who were desperate to have their children enable their insecurities and turned against us when we, of course, couldn’t.


Laura, I could relate to what you said about overhearing your mother have that nasty, fake phone conversation about you. My mother’s incredibly loud phone conversations were a huge part of my childhood–I heard her insulting, lying about, and defaming me, my siblings, my father…all the time to other people on the phone. She even knew that I could hear her often times but kept going on and on… amping up the cruelty and talking out of the other side of her face. It’s so sick for them to tell such hateful gossip like that. No healthy, loving, empathic mother wants to turn people against her own children.


OK I haven’t kept up with the comments, but wanted to recognize that as a mother, I don’t really identify with the word “victim”. And maybe that’s the key to making a difference. I am hurt because I have no real relationships with my children, but I don’t feel like they’re abusing me. I’m not their victim.

In my first comment, I said that I love this blog just the way it is. I don’t feel that Darlene owes us a perspective other than the one she has shared with us.

A big part of the healing journey takes us to the point of wanting relationships that are based on mutual respect and equal value. That’s what I want with anyone who is a part of my life. Maybe it will eventually make sense to my children.

Whatever I have done in the past, I KNOW I don’t want to keep being hurtful to anyone in the present. That’s all I can do, so I feel OK about me now 🙂



This letter could have been written by my mother. (I doubt it because she isn’t technologically literate enough to find this site.) I sincerely believe my mother DOES feel like this mother.

So….. here is my side.

I posted this on another one of Darlene’s pages, but when I was a child I noticed my mom’s friends had these awful “grown up” names and none of her friends had names like my friends. So, I concluded that when one turned 21, one was supposed to change their name to an “adult” name. I lived in fear for years that Mom was going to insist that I change my name to “Blanche.” (no offense to anyone reading who actually has that name.)

Later, I figured out there was actually some truth to the BLANCHE thing. It’s like….. my mom tried to make me be this “other” person instead of the person I needed to be. The kind of Christmas presents she would buy me, were for this “other” person, and not me. It’s like she didn’t want to see ME, she wanted to only see this “other” person that she wanted me to be.

When I used to go to summer camp ever summer, I HATED having to go home. At summer camp, I could be “me.” When I went home, I had to be BLANCHE again. Double life.

Mom says that I pushed her away. I pushed her away because it wasn’t ME she wanted. She wanted BLANCHE.

I was a bit of a precocious kid. Let’s say, too precocious for the small town I grew up in. If I lived in a city, I would have blended in. But I was precocious for a small town. Mom couldn’t handle “precocious.” I just “knew things” beyond my years. She couldn’t handle that.

A few years ago, Mom made a statement that “turned on a light bulb” for me. She said, “I wanted you to be a kid and you refused to be one.” (this was about the “precocious-ness.”)

My mom wanted me to get good grades, but didn’t care about learning. I would try to tell her things I learned, she wasn’t interested.

Mom SAYS she was proud of me. But she was only proud of things that the rest of the world could SEE. Things like, I was in spelling bees, I played in band, blah blah blah, the stuff that “other” people could see. I wanted her to be proud of me for things important to me. But the things important to me were not things that “other” people could see.

Everything is about “appearance.” That’s all she knows. “Appearance.” But yet she tells me not to worry about what other people think as long as I’m doing right. But she’s the QUEEN of “what will other people think…..”

Now, she has never hassled me about marriage or kids, and I have remained unmarried and childless, both by choice. I’m glad for that.

But if stuff important to me is not within her realm of understanding, she can’t deal with it.

Let’s just say, my mom is the type that would tell you, “budget wisely, don’t overspend, blah blah blah.” But if you rent a one bedroom apartment because that was what you could reasonably afford, she would say, “why didn’t you get a two bedroom apartment?”

I currently travel around in an RV. My mom lives in a condo complex. She doesn’t understand why I stay in my RV if I visit her. (Um… because I have to pay for the RV site…..) To her, I should just park the RV somewhere in the condo complex and stay with her. (Um….. the condo complex may get a little upset if I did that….)

My mom is also all about the “honoring you parents” thing. well, when mom plays little games and forgets to tell us the rules to the game, then gets mad when we don’t follow the rules….. that’s what I don’t like dealing with.

My siblings and I are not close. We are all too vastly different and our paths just don’t cross. we don’t speak to each other unless we have to. I’m ok with it. But my mom can’t deal with that. She plays these little games for the sake of “appearance” that we are a touchy feeling close knit family. NOPE! That’s what I’m refusing to participate in.

She cannot get angry with us when she failed to tell us the rules of the game. But she gets mad when you say she is playing a game. But she is playing a game. Unfortunately, it’s all she knows. I think she was raised that way.

I have no clue what “love” is. To me, “love” means faking it, and living life according to a “script.” It’s what I learned. I feel no love for my family. I don’t hate them either. I just feel…… well, it’s more of… “I’m SUPPOSED to do this, I’m SUPPOSED to do that…..” Well, I got tired of the “Supposed to’s….”

One of the “Supposed to’s” is that if an adult child is unmarried and childless, they are “supposed to” spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas with their family. I rebelled against this. I finally got it to where I pick which holiday I want, and the other holiday is MINE. In fact, I have spent those holidays alone, and my mom could not understand that. I had no problem spending it alone. It was peaceful. I know other people don’t like being alone on holidays. But for me, it was peaceful.

I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s, trying to do the “supposed to” stuff. I didn’t like it. It took me until my 40’s to discover “me.”

And it’s been a struggle to get mom to accept “me.”

And to my mom (although I doubt she would read this): I know you are hurt by my actions. But my entire childhood was spent trying to be Blanche to make you happy and hating every minute of it. You refused to see what *I* was, because you were so concerned abo


Darn laptop, sometimes they have a mind of their own. The post went before I could finish.

Mom, you were so concerned about “appearances” that you were unable to help me be the best “me” I could be. You were so concerned about fitting into the small town we lived in, that you were unable to help me navigate through life. Thus, I had to do it myself.

And, yes, it’s your fault.


Hobie, I read your stories, and I think my mom is hiding some really bad incident from her childhood. I got her to reveal something that is the “tip of the iceberg.” But she won’t say anything else.

I think that is why my mom is all about “appearance.”


From Caden:

Why are “”hurt parents”” not held to the same standards as survivors of child abuse are

My mom used to pound into my head, “Think of how other people might feel before you stay stuff.” well, I have asked her, “How come YOU are exempt from this rule?”

She keeps changing the subject when I bring this up.

My mom hates it when I point out to her how illogical some of her thinking is, and how inconsistent she is, and how she is “pretending to be a duck when she is really a goose.”


Hi Catherine,
So, I’ve been catching up a little bit, and need to say that when I responded to you, I’d only read your one comment to me in which I realized you didn’t understand what I’d meant by “love doesn’t engender abuse,” so just wanted to clarify, but like with others I had problems with some of your comments earlier on. I hope that you were able to understand something of what others were saying. I do hope for both of you that you are able to reconcile one day. It’s the labelling and defining as your son as one of “them” that was the hardest for me. He is his own person and whatever factors contributed to who he has become today, he still has his own story and his own pain, worthy of being heard (of which your actions or inactions may play a part, I don’t know), without being locked up into a box that says genetics or mental illness or disability or whatever. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay that he’s abusive to anyone. It just means that he is your son and he is ultimately more than his behaviour, and while so many of us have had to draw a hard line in the sand when it comes to our parents, there is a distinction with parents vs. children, namely that children didn’t ask to be born, weren’t put in charge of caring for the healthy upbringing of their parents because, well, their parents were the adults and the children, children. My parents are also more than their behaviour towards me, but I was never their parent. I was never meant to have to play a role in their healing and learning how to actually be parents to me, not that they even wanted to when I opened the door that would have made that possible. On the other hand, I think parents always retain the fact that they were given this job to take care of the child, no matter what the factors, even when recognizing the fact that it’s out of our control now and hoping the child comes around. Still to be able to see the child as being born innocent, in the hands of his or her parents to be brought up healthy, etc., no matter what the circumstances…. That’s just how I feel…

Anyway, I also realized I made a bad typo in comment #78. I said, “…just because they were lost in the fog doesn’t mean that I wasn’t abused or that I didn’t have a right to do what I needed to do to save my life, nor that they were responsible for the damage they caused.” It should have been “nor that they WEREN’T responsible” oops.


Alaina, again such a spot on analysis in both of the above posts. I especially appreciated your approach to blame and responsibility. I long struggled with both these ideas because I was brought up with “don’t blame your parents” as dogma.

Parents who also blamed me for my troubles with them as well as not fixing or caring for them during some of theirs. The asymmetry of this is striking. And yes it is asking for the caring to be “up” rather than “down”.

Even before I started reading EFB, I started feeling that it was right to replace the blame firmly where it originated in truth before I could get anywhere on responsibility for my own current behavior or the way I treat other people. When I talked about this with other people, I would hit a wall of “no” and “shouldn’t”.

I have to say that with the help of Darlene’s approach and the discussions here with so many insightful people, with time I have even become happy to take responsibility for myself for I am no longer living at the beck and call or whims of my family or anyone else. I am becoming my own friend.
But without that act of replacing blame, taking responsibility was that much harder because I was blaming myself exactly the way my parents had blamed me.

I also noted the way that some “hurt” mothers wish to “have it both ways” to be able to blame and hold others or circumstances responsible while they get to “enjoy” the position of poor old mom who has only ever done her best, loved her kids, given them her all and look how she is repaid.

Yes in a fit of anger my mother also suggested I pay some sum of money back to her “after all they had done” for me. When I started out on calculations of how much I might be on the line for she backpeddled, I think because of just how awful a light it made her see herself in.

Similarly, she’s told me to leave the house and find another place to stay on more than a few occasions but when I actually started packing up and making arrangements to stay elsewhere she would tell me not to do it, that it was “going too far” or that it was “stupid”. But really I think it was about how it looked. The reverse has also occurred where she has “threatened” me that she will leave and when I show signs that is this quite fine by me and would she like some help with her bags, then the tears start and I am accused of being a terrible daughter.

When I brought up these things later she would deny ever having said such a thing. It was to put it bluntly crazy making.

Which brings me to “it wasn’t about her feeling, empathizing with my pain and how I was damaged, so much as the pain to herself of being a failed mother.” Alaina, this comment really struck home for me as it describes the way my mother’s consideration (or not) of me rode pretty entirely on her needs and wants. I believe she saw no problem at all with having that as her foundation for raising kids.


Darlene’s post about THE SKEWED DEFINITION OF RESPECT hits home with me.

I am posting what I call MY MOM’S THREE LIES:

what she said versus what she meant.

1. “When you grow up you can make your OWN decisions.”

What she meant: “You had better make the decisions your Dad and Mom would have made.”

2. “Do what you want to do.”

What she meant: “You had better do what your Dad and Mom would have done.”

3. “To Thine Own Self Be True.”

What she meant: “Be true to what Dad and Mom want you to be.”

And those are the mixed messages I had to deal with, because my mom does not know who she is. She only wants to know the “duck” she pretends to be when she is really a goose.


DXS, so (un) funny! My mother especially talked like this. All those “It’s your life”, “When you get your own house you can do what you want”, “It’s your choice” soundbites which on closer inspection do not actually mean what the words seem to mean. But of course this is because of my failure to correctly interpret. And you’re not allowed to ask what she means because that is “questioning your mother” which is disrespectful. When I finally read Catch 22 it was like coming home. Or Through the Looking Glass.


I clicked through from another link and found this post. Thank you so much.
My daughter was molested by her half brother. Fortunately, she told me, and the police and custody court put a stop to it, but not before her father (the father of the half-brother) stood on his feet in court and said it was at least half her fault. She was 6. He was 13. She doesn’t acknowledge it having any impact on her life.
Because of all of the mess and the nasty divorce, I was very angry for multiple years, and our relationship suffered collateral damage.
We are finally in counseling together, and I truly want to understand my role in her hurt, even though it is painful and I feel defensive.
I think reading your posts will help me understand and validate how she was hurt, even though I believed at the time I was doing everything I could for her.


Laura, you are my dream Mom!


Alice and Alaina, yes, spot on! I was so trained to see my Mother a a martyr, I never realized how everything ended up being about her, even in the watered down version she accepts of the abuse I suffered as a child. It is all abut her feelings as a failed Mother. That is so profound.

I have learned as well that in addition to being blamed and scapegoated, my problems were used as a distraction for everyone in our home. Whenever the tension would begin to rise with any family member, something big would be made out of something to do with me. Any move I made could be twisted into a huge family issue, I was so over exposed, I had no privacy and any confidence I trusted with my Mom or siblings was used against me.

I am hyper self aware because of this and they say I am over sensitive. I just know that when I am with them I feel like a stray dog they picked up off the street and I shouldn’t feel that way with my own family.I don’t feel that way anymore with everyone, just with them and for me that is a pretty good reason to stay away from them.


Alaina, you wrote: “It’s the labelling and defining as your son as one of “them” that was the hardest for me.”

I can only say if that’s the case, then it comes from years of family counseling and therapy and those were the terms that were used in helping me to understand the mix I came from and the group behaviors my son (and I) were born into. The personality disorders “labels” have been the ONLY thing that led me to be able to identify and understand a lot of the abuse we all suffered at the hands of the adults in my family, and I continue to use every self-help book known to man to try and find a way clear of doing the same. Obviously I don’t always – or even often – do a good job. The Adult Child of Alcoholics books by Dr. Wayne Kritsberg and anything by Dr. Susan Forward have been life-savers as well, and that may be where some of the “labeling” comes from. It’s not meant in any kind of negative way; it’s just recognizing the predispositions and behaviors that we all grew up with or were exposed to. It really helped me to understand my siblings and their at times incomprehensible behavior, as well as the anger my own son displayed at an early age well into his current adulthood. I personally don’t believe in psychiatric medication, but when I see people self-medicating with drugs and alcohol it just tears my heart out, and I want to help. I am compelled to try and find a way to help “correct things” before it’s too late and that of course includes self-correcting ME.

It’s clear I shouldn’t have said anything at all, and I would definitely delete my comments as they have been misunderstood and I have no way to correct them here. I was describing an entire family system, not just my son, and certainly not describing him as an “infant” or blaming him and exonerating myself. I don’t want people to think “it’s all his fault” when it’s nobodies fault. It’s just cause and effect and I’m trying to find a better way of doing things.

I’m looking at an arc of more than 40 years with my son, and almost 65 years with my biological family, and it’s been a very long time. A long time to see no positive results and it can be quite disheartening. Especially when someone cares so much. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be here, I can guarantee that. I would do anything I could to repair the rift I find myself in on both sides of the family, but any mention of mental illness, drugs or alcohol is met with so much hostility and resistance… couple that with some of interpretations of my statements here, I’m sure my son must feel hostile too.

So it’s clear, without a doubt, that it’s better for me to just keep quiet and hope that one day peace will come. I’m sure one day it will. And in the meantime, I keep working on myself and trying to understand people’s sometimes inexplicable reactions. As I said before, I never meant to offend anyone and I would change whatever I said if I could. Or if I knew “what buttons were pushed.” My presence here was to “learn” and I hope one day I will.

Thanks for your explanation, in any event. Sincerely, Catherine Todd


Thanks Eira, in #88: I came here hoping to be able to find a way to reconcile the “nature vs nurture” aspect, and what I can personally do about it – if anything – while still respecting my son’s autonomy, and how I can help heal myself which will hopefully rub off on our interactions together at some point. Your comment has really helped.

Note to another comment here: My son chose to go with “them” and I certainly did not mean it with any disrespect. “Them” was his own term, not mine. At this point I’m completely uncertain about my word choices as they seem to be misunderstood on a very deep level, so I will try to be quiet, look listen and learn. Thanks again…


Kaycee, “I have learned as well that in addition to being blamed and scapegoated, my problems were used as a distraction for everyone in our home. Whenever the tension would begin to rise with any family member, something big would be made out of something to do with me. Any move I made could be twisted into a huge family issue, I was so over exposed, I had no privacy and any confidence I trusted with my Mom or siblings was used against me”

I had a very similar experience and I think my brother and my aunt also lived through similar when it was convenient for the people doing it. I mean that’s what the scapegoat is for really. To absolve everyone else of their mutual wrongdoings that they do not wish to own up to, another person is chosen to expiate the former. In situations where “eye for an eye” was not feasible.

As far as I have read, “traditionally” the scapegoat was also of a high rank, “king” or other similar so as to carry sufficient representation for the whole people. Not uncommon therefore for a “golden child” to switch places with the current scapegoat.


Alice, I struggle because it is so maddening, I cannot defend myself, they have files upon files on me, everything I ever did, a bunch of things I never did and so, so many things that are just normal things kids do that were blown up so nobody in my family ever had to be responsible for themselves. As a very young adult, I actually made a decision that I would be as bad as they said I was and for a very brief stint it was very freeing, but horribly self destructive.

I have to realize that even at seven years old, purely innocent and truly a caring, good child who loved my family immensely, I could not win with them. It is my reality check, I never will. This is what drives me away.

I am still in surgery on that wound that they slapped a band aid on to use Darlene’s analogy.

I had an Aunt who I know now was the scapegoat too and she suffered from extremely low self esteem. The judgments my family placed her still are vivid. She died in her early 40’s. My Mom compared me to her often, my Grandma called me by her name so much that I eventually just started answering to it rather than correcting her. I wish I knew when she was so sick what I know now.


From Alice:

soundbites which on closer inspection do not actually mean what the words seem to mean. But of course this is because of my failure to correctly interpret. And you’re not allowed to ask what she means because that is “questioning your mother” which is disrespectful.

Oh yeah! Trying to hold your mom accountable for what she said. One time, during an argument with my mom, she blurted out that she did not want to be held accountable. Um, everyone is accountable. Why is she exempt?


POWERFULLY written and perfectly worded! When I read what the mother wrote, my first impression was that she helped create entitled, arrogant, abusive children and that is why she was upset about this blog not taking the side of the parents. I have seen firsthand parents who create children who are as chronically disrespectful and unsatisfied and abusive. The parents and kids usually don’t have emotionally healthy relationships at all. It IS the parents own doing and they don’t enjoy being held accountable and responsible. Her words came across to me as somewhat sanctimonious and know it all. The response to her email is awesome!


Hobie, my heart went out to you when I was reading your comments. I just wanted you to know that I care about your feelings about your past….and your feelings about your children. You have been fighting so hard to heal and get out of all the fog!! Sending you virtual hugs and peace and comfort tonight!


Kaycee (#113),

I’m so sorry about your aunt. It sounds like your mother and grandmother have serious issues. I’m also sorry you felt so stifled that you just answered to your aunt’s name. That was truly deliberate on your grandmother’s part, I’m sure.

I just had a neighbor drop by, and she was telling me that she’d been out of work for a few months. She’d gone to work for her father in the family business, and he wouldn’t pay her market rate. When she told him that he needed to pay her market rate for her services, his response was…what do you need money for? Just ask me for what you need. She obviously felt full to overflowing, because she kept sharing, and commented that while she was a supervisor in the company, her father would not hesitate to talk to her as if she was a 2 year old in front of the staff. So she quit. I told her…good for her!

That conversation with her, brought me back to this page, because I thought about how this blog and my exchanges with you all have helped me so much. When I think of the years I spent silently angry because my mother would not treat me as an adult except when it was convenient for her, I can’t help but wish I would have done something different. However, here is where I am. It’s not where I want to be, but it’s much better than where I was 🙂


FinallyFree – thanks for the virtual hugs and peace and comfort. “My heart goes out to you” is a really touching expression and I appreciated reading it.


Hi Catherine,
I’m not of the belief that people should keep their mouth shut. It’s better to express one’s thoughts and feelings and try to understand each other, as long as we don’t become abusive to each other. I really don’t wish to silence anyone.

I mostly understood people’s reactions to your comments about your son being born a rage-aholic, etc. I wasn’t there and don’t know the reality that took place in your home as he was growing up but it’s hard to take in, to see a baby as a rage-aholic. I know there are some babies that are more docile than others, some that are easier than others, but calling a baby a rage-aholic is strange. Rage is an emotion; it’s a response; it may be an out-of-control response that needs help to regulate and work through/work out but it does point to something the matter. I know autistic children, for example, are very difficult to care for (to put it lightly) but even their strong emotional responses are about something that needs helping through as much as possible (even it’s a reality entirely separate from the world/experience we know; it’s no less real). There’s something to me that just feels condemning or judgmental and dismissive toward the child when saying he was born a rage-aholic. That is simply how I feel.

I’ve never heard of any addict who didn’t have at their core a story of pain; they may have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, etc., so that they’re hooked from the second they take a drink, but from what I know they still have that story of pain underneath that predates the actual addiction. Maybe there are exceptions but I sort of thought that was a generally accepted/understood fact. I don’t know. In the end, it’s of course your son who carries his story, his pain, and the keys to his healing. Not I and not anyone else here were in your home, in his psyche, to understand. There was this feel to your comments, though, that you seemed to want to see that your child was simply a lost cause from the moment he was born because of his genetics, that there was nothing you could do, and that just feels so sad to me because I don’t personally believe in that kind of determinism, in addition to the fact that later on you yourself recognized the damage that happened via your biological family’s influence on him (through actions, not genetics), so that clearly it wasn’t that he simply came out of the womb programmed to abuse you and other people but that there were other factors that came into play. But again, it’s your son and definitely not a stranger like me who knows what’s in his heart.

It’s not that it’s wrong for you to have your opinion and to speak it, or that I think you should want to go back and delete what you’ve said. I feel that your comments were mistaken but I think that communication on the matter is all for the best and healthy and important. I’m just suggesting that maybe you could think about some of the things you said and consider that maybe it wasn’t just that we misunderstood what you were saying but that maybe you might have been wrong in what you were saying in the first place (even if it was mental health professionals that encouraged you to think that way; it’s possible they were wrong, too). I see in your comments that you’re amending what you’re saying, which is honestly great if you’re coming to more understanding (i.e. that it wasn’t just that he was programmed to be abusive because of genes but that your family had a role in poisoning his belief system, for example, or whatever else might be behind his actions, etc), but to amend your words and then say that WE misunderstood what you were saying is something different.

It’s okay if you think that you are right and we are mistaken; it’s also okay for us to think you are mistaken in some of the ways you think. We don’t have to agree. No one gets anywhere swallowing their tongue, though, and that’s not at all what I wish for in communication with you. I hope for you to keep digging, actually. I really have no hard feelings about this conversation and genuinely hope for your reconciliation with your son, where you both come to understand each other, with respect to both of your pain. I don’t think badly on you at all, despite our differences in the way we see things, and hope that you don’t think badly on me, either. I’m not sure if you read my words as though I’m judging you. I’m really not. I’m glad you’re here and wish you success in your healing and in your life.


Hi Alice and Kaycee,

Alice, I definitely feel like the shift from blaming to placing responsibility has something to do with taking control and agency over my life, that blaming comes from that place where your life and your self have been wrecked by the belief system; you’re in the gutter basically and it’s understandable and probably necessary to blame… “look at what my life has become because of you” sort of thing and there’s truth in that up to a point, I guess. You can’t stay in that forever; I mean you can but that’s often where the danger of lashing out at others starts to come into play. I think that once you’re able to pin point the things that happened and what messages they sent you and how those messages informed your life, etc., you can start to take control and things start shifting. And I’ve actually been happy to take responsibility as well, although sometimes it’s easier to see the positivity of doing so than other times but it’s about growth, really. But none of that was possible without doing the work Darlene talks about.

My impression of my mom and how it’s still about her hurt feelings of being a failed mother is that so long as she doesn’t finish her own healing of her own childhood, she’s always going to react as the hurt child. That’s to me what it’s about. I had this feeling with my grandma that whenever someone tried to address anything with her, she became the little girl she told me about, the one hiding under the staircase while her dad was yelling. I imagine her with her eyes closed tightly and her hands covering her ears, so that even if you’re trying to speak to her reasonably, all she hears is her father yelling. Any attempt my mom made to address the abuse put my grandma into the victim role because she can’t deal with the conflict. It’s no different with my mom. They interpret it all as an attack on them and they react that way, despite the fact that it’s the child who is the victim.

Kaycee, I know the stray dog feeling well too. For me it’s more the little bird, broken wings, but what if I’m not a robin but an eagle or a hawk, will they want to break me when my wings get stronger because they liked me better broken? It makes me wary when people become protective of me because I have to watch out if they’re protective but still capable of seeing me as an equal or if there’s a superiority thing going on as well with that edge of possessiveness and control. RIght now I have a bit of an orphan vibe going on. I feel like I’m several steps ahead on EFB than I am in my life outside of EFB. For a while, I wondered if maybe I was being a phoney on here, but I know it’s not that. It’s that I feel safe and have more trust in the EFB world that Darlene has set up than outside of it. But anyway, my orphan vibe inspires this protective thing, but if they don’t allow that I’m also strong and have a mind and a will of my own, that while I have a hurt child in me, I am not actually only that child, it can cause problems. At the same time being an orphan, god, it makes you want love so badly, you know, that if respect comes along with protectiveness, oh yes, I will take it and send love back as much as I can while I’m not too overwhelmed or freaked out by it all. Some people just define you and you can never be anything else to them from that moment forward; where others will adjust with you as you grow, will respect you as you become yourself.


Hi Darlene, What’s obvious to me is that standing up to an abusive parent isn’t abuse. Feeling disrespected by one’s parents and asking to be disrespected isn’t abuse either. An adult child who abuses their parents don’t break contact, they hang around and take all they can take from their elderly parents. Like any abusive relationship, adult children get off on having control over their parents and exploiting them and there is no excuse for it. There is no excuse for abusing a child and there is no excuse for an adult child to abuse their parents. The rules are the same in both cases. Abuse is about power. It’s about someone who is stronger exploiting someone who is weaker. Breaking contact in an abusive relationship is about removing the victim in order to stop the abuse. Breaking contact is not abuse.

Anyway, that’s how I dice it.:0)


Darlene, When I found your site, I absolutely appreciated your insight. At the same time, many of what I read tore my heart on the inside because I, too am a hurt mother.

However, I have come to the point of having peace and accepting conflicts by completely affirming the “AND”s. My daughter was hurt by me because of my inability to protect her from abuse (due to her father) AND there was little I could do about it. I was responsible AND I did what I could under the circumstances. She has every right to be hurt and resentful AND I am not taking the blame. I would love to have a respectful relationship with her AND I will not accept disrespect. I will affirm her hurt (over my lack of protection) AND my hurt over her treatment of me.

People can try to put the blame on me now for where she’s at in her life, but I will take responsibility for her adult choices. Only I know how I feel about her (that I have grieved deeply over her losses), and only I know what it was like trying to cope with an abusive husband. It will not help to accept disrespect in our relationship, and although I hurt over her rejection, and understand why, I will not be making myself a target for her abuse. Hope that makes sense.


Krissy, you have put it so well. I have copied out your comment and will post it on my wall. This is a life-changer, too. Thank you!


I am a mother of two beautiful girls. One of which is and will always be half full. I feel nothing will fill my daughters cup. I am her punching bag when she is mad, her pillow to cry on and her wallet. This is how i feel i feel alone and hurt by the barrage of abuse she flings at me. She bullies myself and her sister. The anger in me grows everyday. her picking apart of everything i do and her life, makes my life miserable. i feel like she has destroyed the happiness in my life. My younger daughter is light and joy. She shares her love for us and her love of God everyday and in everyway. What did i do to create so much hatred in my eldest? i have failed in some way.


This has festered in my mind. I’m so disturbed by this boundaryless woman who would ask you to change YOUR blog. These people kill me. (well, they almost did, but i took back my life like you did.)


At Krissy #122 I find it disturbing that you are still excusing yourself from responsibility totally, you acknowledge that you knew the abuse was going on, your inability(inertia) to protect her, and the excuse every therapist uses you did the best you could? What if a person abuses my child, I would run to the police, CPS, and anyone who would listen. If you knew why did you let it continue, using and, instead of but, is just another cop-out. You really need to read and study this website, because I don’t think the message is reaching you in the right way.


Krissy #122, I agree with Melissa’s response.


Years ago, I was reading a memoir. My mom asked me what it was about. So I told her briefly, that it was a about a woman and her three sisters who grew up in farm with an alcoholic father and a mother who ran away, leaving the girls with the dad. Mom flipped out. She was saying she “hated all these memoirs” that were coming out on the market these days that “blame the parents” and that any adult child “should be ashamed of themselves” for airing their family’s dirty laundry. She was seething with rage. Perhaps she worried someone would write such a book about our family, but it was more or less that she felt the parents’ rights as a parent supercedes their childrens’ rights to their own story. She said any adult child who “did such a thing” should be ashamed!

Just wanted to make a note, about the “rage” baby. I remember a Jewish neurologist who wrote a book about the lagacy of trauma. He was a small child during the mass deportations in Europe. When they started rounding the Jews up and forcing them to live in ethnic ghettos, the talk about when it would happen would be very stressful. Even if the parents tried to hold in their emotions and remain calm around the children, the neurologist noted that in anticipation for a new proclaimation, the babies woud begin raging and howling. He believed they were reacting to the stress the parents were holding in their bodies. I believe this is true! Even an unborn child can feel the turmoil beneath the surface and it can impact their developing brains. Children who grow up in unhappy homes also hold the same kind of trauma and they react. So if I feel like I am guillty at all, as a parent, just having the kind of stress I carried with me as a scapegoat of my family, all the crticisms and nitpicking and the failures I held heavy in my heart and the hopes and anticipation that someday, I would be a first-class citizen of my own family, likely was felt by my son and even that could damage him in profound ways. Does that mean I need to financially support him his whole life and put up with abuse? No. But it does mean that I have to apologie. Now that I have gone low contact/no contact with my family, I finally don’t have that feeling anymore that I have to jump through hoops to please my mom and be accepted by my sisters. I can be who I am now. It can be a little lonlier, at times, but it still tastes like freedom.


If the paramedics knew that the Twin Towers was falling, why didn’t they hurry and reach the victims quicker? The blame lies with the perpetrator. They did the best they could. They couldn’t reach or save everyone. Only those who were there know the full story. Everyone else makes assumptions.


Krissy, first and foremost, you abused your daughter as much as her Father. Your number 1 responsibility as a Mother is to protect your child and you did not. Lack of protection from a Mother is considered one of the most difficult forms of maternal abuse for daughters to recover from.

Secondly, I find it interesting that you were so accepting of your husband abusing your daughter, like “oh well, nothing I could do about it,” yet find it unacceptable for anyone to disrespect or abuse you.

How great it would have been if your daughter could have just said she was not going to take responsibility for her parent’s bad behavior, that she would not endure your disrespect of her and that she would not stand for being abused by both of you. Unfortunately, she did not have that luxury.


Alaina, I can so relate to feeling phony, I have worked on this in therapy for months now. My therapist has helped me see that because my feelings were never validated by my family as a child, I did not know how to validate them myself. When I first started labeling my emotions, my therapist would have me describe the physical sensations and any thoughts that came with them. I would always say I thought they were not real, that I was making them up.

I find that the knowledge comes first for me, then the work of changing my cognitive patterns, then the authenticity. I think it is sort of a fake it until you make it kind of thing in a way, it affirms what you know and where you are going even if you aren’t all the way there yet.


Kaycee, I agree with you. That’s why I say I accept the ANDS. They’re all equally true.

BTW, I wasn’t accepting of my husband abusing my daughter. I did everything I could about it. I never found it unacceptable for anyone to disrespect me either. I only find that now, because NOW I know that we shouldn’t live with disrespect. I didn’t know it then. I thought it was OK for my husband to disrespect me, and my daughter to smash me to the ground (because she thought I was weak).

I didn’t know then I could leave. Everybody (including therapists) told me I couldn’t.

As Darlene often says, if you’re told one thing from young, how can you know that another thing is true? You do what you can with what you know, believing sincerely that you are doing the right thing. You can’t be held responsible for doing something you didn’t know, like how I killed an animal once because I fed it the wrong thing, but at the same time I WAS responsible – that animal had every right to feel hard one by, even though I didn’t mean for it to happen. As soon as I knew, I stopped. The same thing with my daughter. Which is why my other children are very close to me. Because they know I always try my best for them, even though I nearly died trying to protect them.


Darlene, you were spot on in speaking your truth. My own mum and stepfather have always insisted that I am responsible for the relationship that we do not have. I remember in 2000, after hitting rock bottom and becoming so immensely depressed in truly seeing the reality of what I had always feared. The truth that, both of my parents really did not care for me. The pain that I had endured didn’t exist, I apparently had just made it up to irritate them. I was born with a job, my whole life was a constructed in such a way that I had no childhood. I was a little old lady in a small child’s body. I was expected to know everything. I was responsible for everything. I had to do things perfectly. No encouragement, no pats on the back for a job well done, just abuse, humiliation, and condemnation. To this day, my stepdad expects me to take the blame. If I have told him once, I’ve told him a zillion times, I was not preloaded with a programme to screw up his life. I was only 1o months old when he came into MY life. (It’s not like I had any ability to run someone else’s life into the ground much less know how to control my bowels and go on the potty.) But, according to him, I am the reason why we have no relationship. The thing that bothers me the most is, I know this is insane, and yet other family members KNOW the truth, yet they kiss up to him and take his side. (apparently there’s a lot of poisoned kool-aid drinking going on here)
My mum, yet another story of a mum being the consummate victim, she held tightly to her belief that I caused her great pain and made her ill. In 2000 when my therapist and psychiatrist suggested that I take a break away from my mum and finally get to hear my own words, and not allow her’s to silence mine. I was badgered with, “… Are you going to punish me again…”
To the day she died, she would bring this up and try to make me feel guilty. Like you have said Darlene, we were all children. We had no control, no responsibility in parenting ourselves much less in having power to run our own lives whilst we were young.
I have told people this, it’s like someone wanting to grow a plant. Normally one would look up information on the plant, get the appropriate pot, soil, learn about the food and sun requirements, learn about possible pests, temperature, etc., Any healthy functioning human being would realise that if there were no watering, feeding, or appropriate care, the plant would result in a weakened, compromised, and possibly diseased outcome.
It’s beyond comprehension that the plant can be responsible for it’s growth or lack of growth. The thing that changes is, when we get older and are able to move away, and then realise the damage that has been done, and we try to amend and learn better skills, this type of behaviour and condemnation rises up. Go figure. It astounds me that these type of people hold so tightly to this belief. At the end of the day, they are lazy and really don’t care about their adult/ children. They didn’t seem to care when we were children, and don’t seem to care as we become adults. In my mind, if I’ve messed something up, I would look for an opportunity to correct it, or make it better. GOsh! To me, one of the worst things is for my children to NOT know how much I truly care and love them. They mean so much to me. In no way am I perfect, but, to see them hurt would just kill me. If I ever saw them hate themselves the way I did and still do, growing up, it would make me feel as if I am a failure, and my that my parents were right, I am worthless and obviously didn’t learn anything in growing up. Thank you for all the work you do Darlene.


@ Krissy 130 So I’m confused, a therapist told you to stay, did this person know of the crime against your daughter and did not report it or even urge you to report it? Was this a faith based counselor? I went to a faith based counselor for marriage and I was commanded to honor thy father and mother and to obey my husband, I told my husband and we never went back. What era was this and I find it hard to believe that you got so much bad advice. I have a friend going through troubling times in her marriage, I have listened to her faithfully and have not judged either party. When she told me he was only sticking around until the remodeling of another of their properties was finished I finally spoke up and said, to lead you on and especially the children was the cruelest most vile thing he has done this far, get out.


This “hurt mother’s” email is uncanny to me. If my mother could speak English I would be sure that she is the one who sent this message. This is the rant that I hear every time she feels I am ungrateful or not taking her precious advice.
But here is my main problem with it. She doesn’t define how she did all these wonderful things for her children. And that’s the constant catch in my mother’s frequent complaint storms. What does “being there” mean? How did she do it? What is her definition of emotional, mental, spiritual and financial support? What is her definition of love, the love that she spoke of her entire life? What is an insult to her and what is name calling? Also, what is abandonment for her?
My impression is that, much like my own mother, she has a quite twisted definition of most of these terms and fails to realize that other people might not have received her behavior to be as helpful as she thinks.

The only line that I found a little more specific is where she wrote:” I have told them all of their lives that I love them and believe they have the power to do and be anything they set their minds to.”

How and when did she use that empowering line? My mother told me many times that I can do anything I set my mind to, but I also remember when I was told that…It was one of her favorite manipulation techniques to get me to do what she had set her mind to, and I would refuse to do. Here is how it went: She wanted me to do something, I would say no. She would tell me that I could do it and I shouldn’t worry about it. I could do anything I set my mind to… But I also remember her telling me off for wanting to do the things that I liked, and calling me selfish when I wanted to make a decision by myself, and lazy when I wouldn’t fall for the “you can do it all ‘cause you are brilliant” trick.

What I have also found out is that many times her perception of what is right and wrong is totally messed up. Just yesterday, she asked me to return a training cup she had bought for my daughter to a different store than the one where she bought it from. I felt like an idiot trying to explain to a 64 year old woman that it is just plain wrong, when she asked why I didn’t want to do it.

All I am saying is that I find it too large of a pill to swallow that she has all her definitions right, all her actions were immaculate according to the definitions and none of her kids want to even tell her what is the matter. Did she even ask them? Hmm, I wonder.


Krissy, I know where you are coming from but when blame belongs to us, we have to accept it. Not knowing how to protect a child just means a parent is either negligent or ill equipped to handle the situation and didn’t fulfill their responsibility to their child. I’ve also, lived long enough to know there isn’t always a good solution. Often, children who end up in the foster care system face greater abuse than they did in their homes. The stats aren’t good for how children raised in that system turn out. I don’t know enough about your particular situation to pass judgment but I know it isn’t abuse for a child abuse survivor to need validation of what happened to them from their parents. It’s never okay for an adult child to seek revenge by aggressively abusing their parents and the parent doesn’t serve their child’s best interest by putting up with abuse because they feel guilty. No one can help being damaged by abuse but knowing, aggressive abuse, by an adult, is always a choice and a crime.

In my family of origin, my dad was the aggressive abuser. He abused his parents, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his friends, himself and anyone that gave him opportunity. He chose to deal with whatever had hurt him in life by hurting others and he made himself a monster. The rest of us cowered in fear and gave him safe harbor within the family. My grandparents were wonderful people, who weren’t perfect, but I’m sure they were good enough parents.I’m sure they felt like his behavior was their fault. It was my dad’s fault but he has managed to live his entire life without ever taking responsibility for any of it because it has always been easier for all of us to either put the blame on ourselves or each other. It was easier to shift the blame than to face the monster we all feared.

It’s always hard to face an abusive monster and ourselves with the truth but I know it is the only way to end domestic abuse in families. I hope you and your daughter will find healing and reconciliation through truth.



Hi Krissy
Nice to see you. (Everyone), I think people are jumping to conclusions about what Krissy is saying. She took responsibility ~ she sought help and NOW she is not taking abuse from her daughter. There is a difference between blaming the daughter for the whole thing and taking abuse. My kids have a right to their feelings, and I validate that their feelings but I don’t let them treat me badly. Krissy was not the perp here. She stated that she was unable to protect her daughter ~ the responsibility for the abuse is on the abuser. There is a difference between a mother who ignores and a mother who tries. It is okay for the child to be angry with the mother, and that is what Krissy is saying. This is a really HUGE subject, and I don’t have time to explain it all, but if you read what Krissy said, she isn’t blaming her child, she completely validates but she is saying no to further abuse. It isn’t love to let a child abuse you either. The woman who wrote the letter I am talking about doesn’t take any responsibility at all. She blames the child. There is a difference.

By the way, there are millions of therapists and other professionals out there who give really bad advice.

I didn’t publish this post with any harmful intent. I knew so many people could relate and I thought it would be helpful and even comforting for others to see how some of these mothers think ~ but abuse isn’t okay. If my kids started kicking me around they would be asked to leave. I still validate their rights to be angry but not to express it that way.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Alaina,

“so long as she doesn’t finish her own healing of her own childhood, she’s always going to react as the hurt child.” And I see this as the essence of my mother’s character too. That she raised me all the while being this child, that what she wanted from from me was based out of her hurt child wants.

Kaycee, “I cannot defend myself, they have files upon files on me, everything I ever did, a bunch of things I never did and so, so many things that are just normal things kids do that were blown up so nobody in my family ever had to be responsible for themselves. As a very young adult, I actually made a decision that I would be as bad as they said I was and for a very brief stint it was very freeing, but horribly self destructive.”

I strove to become mysterious to them. I also went out and lived some very freeing and fun (and dangerous, a bit) things that they will never know about:) It wasn’t all self-destructive I don’t think. The self-destructive things I have done are much more around my choice of friends that mistreated me the same way my family did. Or the beliefs I had about myself and what I deserved in my life (not much).

I think once I stopped looking to them to define me, to tell me who I am (when really, all they told me is about the things they don’t want me to be or when I’d failed their projections for whatever defines their version of a successful, good life or my lack of service in their duty) things improved greatly for me. But at the cost of our relationship.


What abusers really mean is:”You can do anything WE want you to”.False empowerment.

Catherine Todd and Krissy’s comments are very triggering for me.A long time ago,a man tried to rape me while he was a guest in my parents’ home.Both my parents defended him and took his side,telling me he was drunk and he didn’t know what he was doing.They continued to receive him as a guest.This is a huge burden for me,a gigantic pain in my heart,which time will never heal.I can’t put it into words.I feel Krissy’s daughter’s pain and i agree with her anger.She had every right to manifest her rage towards the only person who should have defended her.

I know it’s your blog,Darlene,but it hurts me to read how Krissy claims respect from her daughter,while Catherine Todd agrees with her.You let 2 wolves among the already wounded sheep.Their high oppinions of themselves hurts me on a very personal and intimate level.You deleted my comments when you felt i was wrong.What about the atmosphere created by so-called hurt mothers and the way they put down your guests?


The story that you just told just now is not the same story that Krissy told. I only go by what the facts are and how they are presented to me.
As for your accusation that I have let wolves among my already wounded sheep ~ this is a blog and when it comes to this blog I am a volunteer who pays to have this whole thing maintained. I get 1000 comments (usually over 500 words each) every month and I try to read them all and sometimes I can’t and I certainly can’t take responsibility for the way that comments effect others. I do what I can to keep this safe.

Today I have a full client load so please excuse me from blog duty. 😛

Hugs, Darlene


I am not going to publish your last comment ~ it is really abusive! you don’t know anything about this story.
Please read ALL the comments before you take off on someone and try to remember that this blog is a place to share our own stuff. You just wrote me and said that I let wolves in?? Do you think your comment is love based?


”I have told them all of their lives that I love them and believe they have the power to do and be anything they set their minds to.”

Yes, she did day such things like the above. She would for example say “I have done everything which was possible for me to raise you”, or she would say “How long are you going to hold that against me?”, or “You can’t blame me all your life for your mistakes and failures”, or “That was completely different as you remember it”, or “That is not true”, or “Your are lying”, or “You do think we were anti-social, don’t you?”, “Your siblings didn’t have all these issues that you allegedly experienced in your past”, or “I did my best according to my conscience”, or “You really must hate me to say such things”, and I could go on and on like this for what feels like forever.

And yesterday just a few minutes before me and my partner, and our two dogs were on our way back home I told her that I don’t believe that children as a rule have to take care of parents, that it should actually have been the other way round, and that if everything went normal before children shouldn’t feel obliged for a liftime to have contact with parents who didn’t raise them to have a healthy contact later in life when they are grown up. Ooops, I can’t believe that I was able to say this to her, but I did and I felt sad for her because I don’t know if she will ever understand the meaning of this.

Today I would add: “Yes, you did raise me, and one might say you did your best back then, but you didn’t think of what would have been best for me, you only had in mind what you thought would make you look good in the eyes of others. When I lost my father I also lost you because you weren’t there anymore when I would have needed you most. And when you say to me today “but you didn’t die because of that” I don’t know if I should immediately start to laugh or cry, because I can’t believe that any mother would say something to her children and think “now I have asserted myself to you”. What do you mean that I didn’t die? That I should be grateful for this and say thank you again and again? No, you simply let it drop under the carpet that you have ever since neglected my very needs for love, respect, intimacy, feeling accepted and you failed to raise me to become a healthy, independent, happy and caring human being, man, partner and father. You say you love me, but in fact you blame me and want me to take the blame as a sick proof of my love to you. That is what you do and I won’t play this sick game any longer. And it is up to you if you want to stay in touch with me or not, but I will not betray myself any more. I have had enough.”


All right, thanks Darlene, I’ll read more carefully before I comment.



Wow. What a topic! I am looking through one side of the glass only. I do not have children. I learned as an adult just how much my parents cared about me. In truth, not that much. Why are they then surprised that I don’t feel like visiting all the time. Why do I want to spend my free time traveling hundreds of miles to participate in a shallow relationship? They wanted ME to visit THEM to pay homage to them for being my parents. That’s what I think anyway.

Both my FOO and my husband’s FOO consist of selfish people. If our parents were such nice and good people to us; wouldn’t I want to spend time with them? The question answers itself. I really wanted to like my parents and my husband’s parents. It was not a clash of personalities. It was simply that they did not treat me well.


Thank you all for your post. some more gracious and come easier then others, One thing I understand is pain can make me less gracious when speaking my truth. And clumsily worded people can be so interesting and right on.

Yesterday in Therapy, my therapist told me something I will mantra for weeks. A truth I needed…

“Forgiving means to stop being angry. The reason people keep doing that which you do not like is because you have not stopped being angry since the first time they did it”.

Members of my FOO have been pushing me saying I have not forgiven my step-father because I no longer cater to his every whim. I have felt I had forgiven him and think very little about him.

Loved this quote and forgiveness does NOT mean treating people like how they want to be treated, which is what my family wants. And going back to the 1st time I became angry and dealing with that, did help erase all the more current anger. Thank you all again, for being part of my healing.


Hi Eira,
That neurologist’s story sounds very true.

My mom was suicidal when she was pregnant with me. It’s something I used to think about more when I was younger. She’d told me about that when I was 14, which I think was too young. She didn’t think about how hearing that would affect me. Coupled with the fact that my uncle, her brother, killed himself when I was a kid and I had looked up to him and identified with him and was very affected by his death (something my mom didn’t know and I myself didn’t know–although there were clues a long the way), I had this belief that it was only a matter of time before I killed myself, that I was born to be a suicide. It pains me now how long I lived with that belief, alone in it. The truth was I was a pretty happy little kid/toddler (before I got weighed down by all the crap in the family), shy at first but with lots of spunk. I don’t fault my mother for her feelings. I certainly don’t feel that she owes me an apology for having been suicidal. The depression wasn’t her fault. I feel sorry for her and how hard it must have been. I know that she’d cry herself to sleep all through my early childhood. I do have a problem with the fact that she talked to me all about this and other stuff when I was a teenager, that I was her confidante. She said later that she was just an “open book” but that’s not what it was. She had only one friend who, the majority of the time, lived in another country. I was being used. I was depressed, without close friends myself, and would hang around her. However much she may have worried about me (later she claimed to be completely clueless to my unhappiness), it wasn’t enough to actually do anything, and everything went back to her talking about herself. What I really have a problem with was the controlling, rigid, angry side of her and the part of her who always had to speak for others, decide everything for others, be at the helm, the part that won’t let my reality, my truth be true, the part that wouldn’t let me go when I needed to be free, the part that shamed and guilt-tripped me, the part that watched my dad reining me in to give her what she wanted, even when I’d had a breakdown and was just trying to not die. I don’t have a problem with the hurt child part of her; I have a problem with the fact that in her refusal to care for that hurt child, to deal with herself, to admit reality, and work through her issues, she mistreats others. She has flushed me down the toilet rather than admit the full extent of her weakness. I have a problem with the fact that her pain trumped mine, always, no matter what. I have a problem that she tried to use me, felt entitled to use me, as a means to heal, not that she actually needed to heal. I have the utmost compassion for people’s pain, including my mom’s. I only wish she took responsibility for it. Even if it wasn’t her fault, that she was a victim, too, it was wrong to put on me. Whatever the affects of mood just through feeling/transmission, like in the womb, or whatever, that to me is just a circumstance. Circumstances are what they are. There were a bunch of sudden deaths before and after my birth and her childhood stuff was coming to the forefront—you can’t control that stuff, the emotions, like I couldn’t control my breakdown. It’s really about how you choose to deal with your circumstances, though, being honest with yourself, choosing to work things through. For whatever reason my mom is stubbornly stuck where she’s stuck and the fallout of that was bad for me. I hope one day that she will be able to fully touch her pain and heal her hurt child. I’m just happy I don’t have to believe anymore that I was born to be a suicide. I was not born to be a suicide. I was born to be me, to live as rich a life as I possibly can, to have freedom of choice.


Alice, I am learning how to protect my privacy around them, to not let them know what I am up to. I don’t want to be discussed behind my back anymore. I don’t want them scrutinizing me. I do not want their dire warning or criticisms regarding everything that I do or that happens to me. It is a little fun, this being independent and lol “mysterious” I love that.

Krissy, there was a whole really interesting conversation on another thread here about what “doing one’s best” really means in the eyes of the children who fell victims to abuse because their parents best was not enough to keep it from happening. Maybe reading it might give you some insight into how your daughter is feeling. I cringe at much of what you wrote but perhaps I am bringing my own stuff into the reading as much of what you have said reminds me of my own mother.

Darlene, I defer to you, our coach on this and look forward to gleaning more insight. Hot topic! Thinking about this quote “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

And I am thinking about the Mother cat who was badly burned because she walked into a burning building repeatedly to pull each one of her kittens to safety. She was a cat!

And I’m thinking about this quote too, “I called my mother up and I said, ‘You know, I’ve been to the best doctors in the world and I’ve spent almost half a million dollars and they’re telling me I have symptoms of a P.O.W. and all I did was grow up in your home.'” Darrell Hammond


I appreciate your thoughts on the phoney thing. I think you’re right. There’s also the added thing that trauma, or intense emotion, itself tends to feel unreal, especially if you’re prone to disassociating. Or if one of your coping mechanisms is to escape into fantasyland or if you like to write fiction—all this stuff can make you think you’re acting in different ways for different reasons. Plus living inside the dysfunction, you have a role and had to stuff your real self down, so that for however long the false self was you.


On this topic of a parent seeing themselves as the victim, below are some excerpts from an email that I received from my mother a few years ago. I think it pretty much speaks for itself with the guilt trips, mocking tone (subtle and not so subtle), and that I am to blame:

“You are making it very hard on everyone. I know you call and E-mail at times and I am thankful for that. You never mention your Daddy and when you do come you don’t speak to him unless you have to. I know I am involved in this too but it seems to me to be more him. Are you trying to live in the past? If you are you will never be happy. Your Daddy and I are getting on up there in age. His health is not good at all.This is not a guilt trip, it’s just the truth.”

“Nothing has been the same since this started. Are you very sure this is what you want? If it is and you are happier all you have to do is say so. We won’t bother you. If you are afraid you will have to take care of us when we are older….you won’t. We will take care of each other for as long as we can and then we will do something else. I have been through that. Our kids will NEVER have to take care of us. If I don’t hear back on all this I will assume that you are happy the way things are.”

“I want to say how sorry I am that we were the kind of parents that caused you so much hurt and problems later on in your life. We aren’t perfect but most people aren’t.”

“I loved my parents, no matter what they said or did.”

“About the girls [my daughters], I am sure they are closer to [my wife]’s parents than they are to us. They see them a lot more than we do. As for “blowing off” their birthday, I did not do that. I tried to make excuses that they would believe. If I had known that it was going to hurt them, I would have come anyway, even feeling the way I did. We aren’t really into hurting our grandchildren.”

“I really didn’t know you had to put a lot of effort into family relationships. I thought love and always being there for each other was enough to hold a family together. I’m sorry I didn’t put more into our relationship.”

“I still love you Eddie, although you haven’t said you love me, nor have you put the word love on any of cards you have give to us this past year. Evidently you are still harboring a lot of ill feelings, again I’m sorry. I think you have misinterpreted a lot of things.”


I feel like I need to acknowledge – at least to myself – that it is REALLY difficult for me to even imagine saying “I’m sorry” without wanting to add “but…”

I understand how it feels to hear “I’m sorry but…” and I still struggle. I want to say that I wasn’t hurtful because I wanted to be and that I want to make amends and that I need to know what would make things better. Most of all, I want patience and a chance to work through the crap.

Maybe I’m not ready to try to do that yet. Maybe it’s better that I leave things be until I know that I can say “I’m sorry for…” and leave it at that.

I WANT to get there. I really do.



Hobie, I admire you.
Some (or a lot) of what parents want to add when they say “I’m sorry but…” is bunk, blaming the victim, etc. Some of it is legitimate (not as an excuse but as a truth unto itself) but not what the child wants or needs to hear at that point in time… or in my case doesn’t need to be said at all because my entire life was defined by what came after the “but.” They wanted me to contextualize things, but they didn’t understand I’d already contextualized myself into nothing. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t validity to their experiences, just that I needed them to hear my experience and understand it as real and true. They couldn’t. It may have to do with validation, not having their own pain and experience validated that they weren’t able to validate mine or a need to live in a world where there is only one story, instead of many concurrent ones. Maybe something about understanding that everyone is separate, not an extension of the parent, but their own self, etc.



Wow, just wow. Are you sure you’re not my brother? We’re at least half siblings because I swear we have the same mother. Maybe even the same father.

What is so friggin’ hard to say you’re sorry?

My mom has been bent out of shape for 15 years because my dad has never apologized for any of his affairs. I am not sure why she expects this apology from him, when she is clearly incapable of delivering anything that is an actual apology of her own. For example, when I left our family’s religion, she threatened to kick me out of the family (in her own very covert way) by saying, “If you aren’t part of our religion, you can’t really be part of our family.” I have written to her at least twice, advising that she could take it back by apologizing for saying that. Her answer: I don’t have to enumerate my sins to Man (meaning you) and that she can ask God His pardon for mistreating her child. What kind of mindfuck is that?


My mother was full of it. Ive had the best possible upbringing,they did all they could for me.5 suicide attempts few as a child and she still thinks I had a wonderful upbringing and that I was just ill! No intelligence there that they caused my mental problems. She was also a great mother for taking me to a child psychiatrist to find out what was wrong with me. That ststement has affected me badly though out my life and made me feel,faulty,guilty and ashamed. Myself and brother who changed his name to birth name have no contact with her but shell still insist she was a fantastic mother and upbringing.

I dont understand why this womans children would abandon her if she was all those things. Maybe she didnt listen to them,just insisting theyd had the best possible upbringing like my mother.In my experience genuinely loving and giving parents have a close relationship with their children.


Moira, read the book People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck.


Sorry, got cut off. From Wikipedia, this is more about the book People of the Lie, and I think it describes a lot of our mothers/families:

People of the Lie[edit]
First published in 1983, People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil (ISBN 0 7126 1857 0) followed on from Peck’s first book. Peck describes the stories of several people who came to him whom he found particularly resistant to any form of help. He came to think of them as evil and goes on to describe the characteristics of evil in psychological terms, proposing that it could become a psychiatric diagnosis.

Peck discusses evil in his book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil,[7] and also in a chapter of The Road Less Traveled.[6] Peck characterizes evil as a malignant type of self-righteousness in which there is an active rather than passive refusal to tolerate imperfection (sin) and its consequent guilt.[6][7] This syndrome results in a projection of evil onto selected specific innocent victims (often children), which is the paradoxical mechanism by which the People of the Lie commit their evil.[7] Peck argues that these people are the most difficult of all to deal with, and extremely hard to identify.[7] He describes in some detail several individual cases involving his patients. In one case which Peck considers as the most typical because of its subtlety, he describes Roger, a depressed teenage son of respected, well off parents.[7] In a series of parental decisions justified by often subtle distortions of the truth, they exhibit a consistent disregard for their son’s feelings, and a consistent willingness to destroy his growth. With false rationality and normality, they aggressively refuse to consider that they are in any way responsible for his resultant depression, eventually suggesting his condition must be incurable and genetic.

Some of his conclusions about the psychiatric condition that he designates as “evil”, are derived from his close study of one patient he names Charlene.[7] Although Charlene is not dangerous, she is ultimately unable to have empathy for others in any way. According to Peck, people like her see others as play things or tools to be manipulated for their own uses or entertainment. Peck states that these people are rarely seen by psychiatrists, and have never been treated successfully.

Evil is described by Peck as “militant ignorance”. The original Judeo-Christian concept of “sin” is as a process that leads us to “miss the mark” and fall short of perfection.[7] Peck argues that while most people are conscious of this, at least on some level, those that are evil actively and militantly refuse this consciousness. Peck considers those he calls evil to be attempting to escape and hide from their own conscience (through self-deception), and views this as being quite distinct from the apparent absence of conscience evident in sociopathy.[7]

According to Peck an evil person:[6][7]

Is consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection
Deceives others as a consequence of their own self-deception
Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets (scapegoats) while being apparently normal with everyone else (“their insensitivity toward him was selective” (Peck, 1983/1988, p 105[7]))
Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others
Abuses political (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion” (Peck, 1978/1992, p298[6]))
Maintains a high level of respectability, and lies incessantly in order to do so
Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury



You just reminded me of my mother’s extraordinary support in health care issues. Stuffing me with this horrible iron supplement syrup that tasted like rust, because “I was low on iron” even though my blood work proved the levels were normal. She would tell me that I look so pale, like a blue moon. Then blame me for not taking the syrup and looking like that. It was not the iron I was missing, you moron! It was mental support I needed, weren’t you supposed to take me to a doctor to explain to you that I looked like a blue moon because I felt like one on the inside?

But on the other hand, when I was 15 she took me to a psychiatrist. There is a mental health facility in my city, the first 3 visits and diagnosis are a freebie. Guess how many times I went… Hahah, 3! And of course she decided that it was not a good idea to take the antidepressants the doctor prescribed after these 3 visits.

Still, she has the nerve to this day to say that she did nothing but help me and sacrifice her own life. It was me that could never get that.

I think I need a cold shower just to wash this off of me …


@Darlene so proud of you for not allowing her to deceive or intimidate you. The thought came to me that maybe her grown child or children are on this blog so maybe she is trying to justify her actions to herself!
The thought came to me that she could be any one of our moms!
Someone on my FB page shared this. It describes most of these moms.

I think you’re discernment is right on the mark about this “hurt ” mom Darlene.
But I want to say something about the real parents that are neglected by their grown kids who are actual victims. I know one such elderly lady and in a way its kind of nobody’s fault. My hubby and I are helping her as much as possible.She is in a bad situation and her daughter who is older than me maybe 55 or 60 is on my FB page. I know the family well. The husband/dad was murdered and the family fell apart! So we called the state department of aging to step in a and help and they are. But I think if grown children were raised well and they are neglecting their parent it has to be an extraordinary situation like this. But in this case the mom who is 86 now and sick. She doesn’t play the victim or blame anyone she understands its the situation and the dad was murdered in the most brutal way.
But I do think these situations are quite rare and that a good thing!
And I read People of the Lie too several times. One of my go to books in storage now.
I see abusers on these blogs. I just think that all the time, effort, and money they spend at justifying their actions or trying to prove their victim hood can be actually spent at healing. There’s a thought right?


Kaycee, you said, “Krissy, there was a whole really interesting conversation on another thread here about what “doing one’s best” really means in the eyes of the children who fell victims to abuse because their parents best was not enough to keep it from happening. Maybe reading it might give you some insight into how your daughter is feeling. I cringe at much of what you wrote but perhaps I am bringing my own stuff into the reading as much of what you have said reminds me of my own mother. – See more at:

I have read just about every thread – no, devoured every thread on this site, maybe not as much over the past 6 months. It’s not that I don’t have insight into how my daughter is feeling. It’s that I have gained insight into reality/truth. She has every right to feel the way she does, and I totally validate and acknowledge that, but I have every right to acknowledge the equal truth that I could have done no more. Going to the police resulted in more abuse for her. Going to court resulted in more abuse. Getting help resulted in more abuse. Leaving resulted in more abuse. There was very little I could do. Yet I did so much. When you have a neighbor intent on ramming your house, a fence doesn’t do much.

Melissa, I didn’t see one therapist. I saw many, including counselors, ministers, psychologists. One “prophet” told me that I would suffer much ruin and harm if I left, and claimed it was straight from God. Why did I believe her? Because some things she “prophesied” over others, like healing from cancer, had come true. I didn’t listen to her though, and left, with much trembling and fear. Now I am exposing a child to abuse because the court has imposed unsupervised visitation and yes, there has been injuries, and the child has a right to feel unprotected. You can only do so much, with limited finances, and a sick legal system.

Pam, I agree that a child wanting validation isn’t abuse. But hitting, name-calling, exploiting and insulting someone is. That’s what I don’t accept from my grown up child. I validate her experience AND I don’t accept disrespect.

I do apologize for making triggering comments. I myself am often triggered by what I read, AND I also learn a lot from these sites, so I keep on reading. I think it’s easy to project your own situation, but I am not the writer of the letter of this post. I am simply sharing that as a hurt mother, I have come to a peaceful place of accepting the ANDs. It hurts, AND it is also healing. Both equally true and both not to be minimized.

Thank you, Darlene, for your words. You put it so much better than I could have! I guess that’s why you’re a writer and I’m not!


Eira #155 I am so glad you introduced Peck into this conversation. The books were written sometime ago he I think was willing to acknowledge that sometimes parents do not have the best interest of their children, and that it does exist, but he did not mention prevalence of the problem.


Krissy, I hope that you and your daughter do reunite one day, and I have forgotten how lacking the mental health professions are sometimes. I wish you the best.


Hey Melissa. A friend/colleague introduced me to Peck and “The People of the Lie” about 15 years ago, and I am not sure the context, but it was likely related to a dysfunctional work environment as I don’t believe I ever shared the family abuse/religious abuse in my family environment. There were a couple of cases in the book about parents bringing in their co-called defective children to him to get “fixed” and he found it was the parents/family system that was sick, not the children who were bearing symptoms of intolerance. One example in the book was a couple who had given, as a Christmas gift, to their only remaining child the gun his brother had used to commit suicide, and the parents excuse was that they were “not made of money” and they felt it was a fine gift. When I was 13 and started symptoms of an eating disorder and having emotional issues (crying jags, meltdowns) my mother brought me into the family doctor for treatment. He recommended family therapy, as he knew about the marital problems (my mother disclosed to some level about my father’s repeated infidelities) and the doctor gave her a referal for family counseling. My mom wasn’t having any of that. She was annoyed with the doctor for thinking my “problems” were in any way of being part of what she considered a fine family. We lived in a very small community and she could not bear to think it had anything to do with them being dysfunctional, it was only me. Anyway, Peck’s writing struck a familiar note. Earlier than that, at age 11, I wrote my mom a very long letter calling her out on her behavior. Only a few years later, she admonished me about this “terrible” letter, but she had kept it for over 30 years. I asked to see it, but she said she burned it. She implied I was a bad daughter for writing to her about her treatment of me. And yes, my mom can appear loving and kind to most people, only expresses that she has a troubled daughter who just can’t get anything together. Any accomplishments I have are ignored and discounted. In conversations with her, I have to be careful to steer anything about my life that she can skew as negative because she will consider it as evidence that she was right about me all along. Growing up, she would say things like, “If your friends knew what you were really like, they would not be your friends.”


Hobie, I also “inherited” (learned?) the “sorry but” nonapology from my mother. Sometimes I said it because it was expected of me but I didn’t actually feel sorry in any way. But you had to make a show of it.

Sometimes I’d apologize (or nonapologize) when really it wasn’t actually down to me. I’d take the fall for the situation in general or the way someone else felt but I’d be doing myself a disservice in the process so I’d add a caveat as an out.

The nonapology serves these functions really well but it doesn’t seem to serve yourself in truth or anyone we’ve actually hurt.

I think that real apologies are probably much more few and far between but they take listening to yourself and the other person, *as another person*. There’s definitely something around validation of that other person in there. But also of oneself, and I wonder if the “but” just doesn’t invalidate that.

And I agree with Alaina that the what comes after the “but” is really important too to whoever we’re apologizing to. My mother made her “buts” my fault (not affectionate, too willful, rejecting of her), or the fault of circumstances so she was really robbing herself of any ability in the situation. A “real” apology would have restored it to her (I believe).


Kaycee, to some extent I credit my father for “cluing me in” on just how much to disclose to my parents. He told me when I was quite young, “Only tell your parents what you want or need them to know”. And he was speaking from some kind of “family tradition” that I believe his father had passed on to him.
Another reading of it might have that seeming as if they didn’t want to know about me. I have wondered about it but it nevertheless allowed me space from them for which, given the family I do have, I’m very grateful. As in “it’s a feature not a bug”:)


” I knew even when I was in my 30?s that my mother would eventually try to turn my kids against me”, You wrote this. Why do sick mom’s do this?
And, I have been trying to figure out why my mom has tried to turn friends away from me as a kid and disrupt my life as an adult. Is it insecurity? my husband was my first date, my mom told me he’d need a milk crate to stand on if he wanted to keep dating me- just as I walked in from that first date. I married my husband 20 years after high school, as I had decided I was too tall to be dating him at that time.
After I moved to Colorado and married him, my mom wanted to control my life so much. I’ve been accused of having a “criminal record”- I don’t, stealing things- I’ve not, biting my own leg 35 years ago (she at one time bit my leg and remembered it 5 years ago telling me I deserved it- but now has a faulty memory). During a sad time when she divorced my dad, I was sassy at 16 mentioned my dad was marrying she tried to hit me, but I pushed away with my legs in the car, she bit my leg. I moved to my dads the next day- I moved back home when my mom was hospitalized and let out a couple years later, so I could cook for her. She has told people that I moved to my dad’s because he had money. It was because she bit me. My sister encourages these lies by being there when it happened, which she was never around other than to beat me like my dad beat her- she was 17 and had a boyfriend she lived with. My older sister has done this stuff to my older brother as well, my older brother and I are close now and were very close as kids. But I struggle with all the made up lies they have created over the years- there have been so many it’s hard to count. I had not talked to my older brother for 20 years because of a lie my sister had made up, and he had no interest in talking to me because I was an “addict” — NOT. So after we found out all the lies, we’ve been super close again like when we were kids. I see that with my sister she is out to take over my mom’s estate is all we can figure. So – I am assuming she has this narcissism stuff going on now too. Do they ever get well?
This was all swept under the rug for years until my mother in law wanted my husband’s daughter to go to a college we could not afford. I got a call from my sister telling me I had to send the daughter to a certain college, I explained the daughter had a full scholarship for a different school. Out of the blue my sister claimed she saw me bite my own leg when I was 16. She was not home when my mom did this to me. She also claimed she would refinance her house to send her own daughter to this college so I had better, which she sent her daughter to an affordable junior college close to her home and her daughter is now working for her. The decision was not mine, it was my husband’s but rather than let go, my husband’s mom, my mom and sister over involved themselves in our lives for a good few months. She went to the college she had a full scholarship for and dropped out after a year and a half. We paid for books, and lab fees and whatever we could afford, more than any money they put out for their own kids.
My sister took me to court for harassment because I left a message stating I had caught her in another lie, I had looked up my older brother guessing the story she told me 20 years ago to be false as she made up the leg bit thing. She has convinced my mom that she is not allowed to talk to me. And, it doesn’t matter my mom is busy playing the victim as well as my sister. I just don’t get it. There is no truth to the way that they live, and yet I feel a sense of loss over the last five years. I miss the mom that could have been there for me and never was. The mom that could have been a grandma to my son but never was, I don’t miss all the lies and chaos, but I do feel sad not to tell my mom I love her.


Hi Krissy. My Mom apologized to me three decades ago when I ended up in a mental hospital. I had just begun to work with the abuse I suffered at the hands of her second husband. It took me over 20 years just to stabilize from this one part of my childhood.

After her apology, she slammed the door in my face, accused me of “beating her over the head” and declared that if I wanted a relationship with her I would not speak of my childhood issues again. I had spoken about them for perhaps a week. I’m sure I was pretty angry then although much of it is still a blur, I was in really bad shape.

I never even looked at the role my Mother played in scapegoating me and throwing me to the monster she married until very recently. When I tried to talk to her about it, she completely ignored me, holding true to her pact that she would not be beaten over the head.

This is how my feelings were handled as a child too, me having feelings about being beaten until I pooped my pants and had a hard time walking to the bus stop where an affront to my Mother. My feelings, to her are abusive and always have been.

Being the only scapegoat of the children in my home, the other children believe she did her best, and she did by them, but only by sacrificing me. I hope you can understand why my knee jerk reaction is to protect your daughter. Without your details and back story, you sound very much like my own Mother.

I still think your daughter needs to be given the benefit of the doubt as well, if she grew up being abused, that is probably the only way she know how to respond, how would she know differently?

I feel very strongly as well that women are responsible for bringing babies into this world when they find themselves with abusive men. I know that is an extremely touchy issue and horribly sexist in so many ways. I am perfectly willing to say this is just a strong feeling I have and admit it may be completely wrong. I have heard “Your Father” my whole life about a man I barely know and all I can say back to that is “Do you mean YOUR husband, the guy YOU married and made babies with?”

I’m sorry we have clashed, but I think my therapist will be happy tomorrow that I seem to actually be feeling some anger here. It went missing about twenty five years ago and she has been trying to help me find it.

I’m just learning how to feel again and I make no claims to being right or wrong, I am genuinely sorry your daughter is in such bad shape, she must be in complete pieces inside to react to a validating, loving Mother that way. I hope she finds her way and is able to heal. Inside, every child wants a loving Mother who loves them unconditionally and without judgement.


What does “being there” mean? How did she do it? What is her definition of emotional, mental, spiritual and financial support? What is her definition of love, the love that she spoke of her entire life? What is an insult to her and what is name calling?

This is my issue. Mom says she was “there” for me. Yes, she was physically there. Yes, she brought my Algebra book to me at school when I left it at home. BUt she was NOT “there” for me. She was there for “Blanche” which is the name I give to the “other” person she wanted me to be. My emotional needs were not met because Mom didn’t understand me and didn’t try. She says I pushed her away. I pushed her away because she didn’t want to understand me. She wanted me to be “Blanche.” She wanted me to fit into her world as she defined it instead of trying to fit into mine. She says she loved me, but I never felt it. I wasn’t neglected, at least I had paper to write on, I didn’t have to erase and reuse like Amber. (I still think that is sad!) But I never felt “love.” To me, “love” was some fake act you put on to justify a relationship. It’s what I learned.


Yes, you did raise me, and one might say you did your best back then, but you didn’t think of what would have been best for me, you only had in mind what you thought would make you look good in the eyes of others.



Alice! How I wish my dad had given advice like that!! My mom believed that as a mom she was entitled to know everything important about my life before I told anyone else, and apparently that included haircut and dentist appointments in my mid-twenties, and it was my dad who would come to talk to me about these things, how much I’d hurt my mom. This was how I was “victimizing” her.


Alice, I am learning how to protect my privacy around them, to not let them know what I am up to. I don’t want to be discussed behind my back anymore.

I have to protect my privacy, too. But for the opposite reason. My mom likes to play “little innocent questions.” (to her, that’s what they are.) But they are not. She is “information gathering.” It’s so she can go to her friends and put on this “act” giving the appearance that “my daughters tell me everything, we are touchy feely close” to her friends.

One time when I was working full time, she wanted to know how much vacation time I got. I had a “bad” feeling on her question, so I refused to answer. My sibling didn’t “catch my drift” and started saying, “oh, don’t you get X weeks….”

The point of my mom’s question? She wanted to calculate how much free time I had and how much of it I “owed” her.

That’s why I have to have my radar on “alert” at all times. An “innocent” question may, in actuality, have ulterior motives.


Kaycee, Reading your story, I can understand your reaction.

I’m also quite used to be being blamed and misunderstood, which my therapist thinks I accept too easily. So that’s why I persisted in clarifying, without attacking anyone’s position because readers have a reason why they respond like they do.

I agree that my daughter should be given the benefit of the doubt. Of course she has chosen to adopt the values of her father, she has seen how being non-abusive in response doesn’t get you very far! The only people who ever seemed to “win” with her dad were people more abusive than him. Otherwise her dad always “won”, because he was manipulative and controlling. Hopefully, one day, she will find out that love is a better option.

I agree that women shouldn’t make babies with abusive men. If only I knew he was abusive. (And if only I could stop him penetrating, against my will. I never knew about intimate partner sexual violence.) I didn’t know what abuse was until my daughter was quite old. Both she and her dad told me it was my fault, and since numerous professionals agreed that our marriage needed more work from both parties, I never thought to question it, I just tried to improve myself. I now know there are some situations where “it takes two to tango” does not apply – ask the victims of terrorism. They did NOTHING to contribute.

I am sorry to hear about your past. Nobody deserves that sort of treatment, much less children.


Krissy, My heart is with you. I know how hard it is to sort that all out. It’s hard as an abuse survivor and a mom to walk the line of taking responsibility for what we should take responsibility for and not taking responsibility that belongs to our children. It calls for constant mindfulness. It is a struggle that requires super-human effort at times. I was trying to be truthful and give you support at the same time. I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings.


Thanks for your kind words, Pam.

It’s comforting to know there are probably many readers who walk this same journey. We have cried tears for ourselves, and continue to heal, but we also cry buckets for our children’s losses.

Not to be able to help when we hear about our kids’ troubles is very difficult. What if she dies, and I could have helped her? But what if she sees my offer of help as disrespectful, since she has asked me to get out of her life? I don’t know…no easy answers. But thanks for taking the time to write words of support.


Krissy, I am still a wrecked heap who is never going be the person I was born to be or could have been. My life’s work is about healing from abuse. This isn’t by choice.

I guess I still have problems with your presentation, but freely admit I am no sage and am looking at all of this through the experience of an abused daughter with a Mother Superior.

I don’t think your daughter chose to adopt the values of her Father anymore then you chose to adopt the values of being a victim. It is what was forced upon her, in the same way you were forced upon. You say she is lashing out to win, I suspect she is lashing out to survive. I suspect if only she had experienced something different, like love, she would choose love. That is what I mean by giving her the benefit of the doubt.

It sounds like what was modeled to her was being a victim like you, or keeping you at the bottom where your husband put you. My guess is she chose to support the status quo in order to survive. Chances are good she will find a man like her Father to replay the whole cycle. Chances are good then she may fall into a victim role. Maybe then she will be open to the new experience of love and you will get a chance to be there for her and teach her what you have learned. Maybe then, she will learn to love herself and be able to create an authentic life and find her true potential.

I do understand how you feel. It is one reason I still deeply love my sister. She saw what happened to me and she was just a child. She scapegoated me because she knew it could happen to her too. She was primed and trained to scapegoat me. Years and years of this, it is so ingrained, part of her foundation, her framework. She was abused too and much of her worth in our dysfunctional family was based on her ability to step on me. It wan’t her fault and she just doesn’t know any better.

My sister sided with my stepfather in order to survive, not to win. I don’t consider that a choice she made. She was not an adult and had no power inside the dynamics of the family the adults in her life put her in. I think if she knew better, she would do better. But I do walk away from her abuse now, so I do get what you are saying. I guess I just frame it in a different light.



I hear and understand you, having gone through some of the same stuff myself. It is extremely hard to be in a position where the best thing you can do for your children is to not fight. My ex wanted to destroy me (he came pretty close) and villified and maligned me in front of the girls, interrupted our time together with constant phone calls and invitations (summons, really) and dragged them to court (12 and 15 y.o. girls- the judge told him off) to testify against me. (There is nothing like seeing your own daughters, who loved you so much until just recently, stand up against you in court.) He’s involved in a cult and he and his cult-members had completely indoctrinated them. I saw the hurt and confusion in their eyes at having to do these things but I was up against something so huge and in fighting against it I would have hurt and confused them even more. Was it the right thing to do? I kind of felt like the mother in the Judgement of Solomon.
Oh, and this is not to say that I was a great mother, or anything. Hell, I screwed up about every chance I had at that. My kids were always highly critical of me but we liked and loved each other (most of the time) and had fun.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Krissy. It’s hard to even think about, let alone talk about, your own children rejecting you, especially on a blog where everybody happily shares how bad and awful their parents were (not that I disagree with any of that.) Good for you standing up for your decisions and handling the comments so gracefully!


Krissy, I constantly mourn for the fact that I didn’t understand what happened to me before I had children. It took such a long time to get to where I am now. A lifetime. I want to give what I understand now to my adult children but it seems that healing is something everyone has to find for themselves. I didn’t actively abuse my children but I know it wasn’t easy for them to grow up inside my unhealed ptsd. That FOG of fear, obligation, and guilt that my abusers used to control me, enveloped everything. I don’t remember ever having a sense of safety in the world, my experiences in life taught me that people who did were naïve. It must have been really hard for my kids to navigate all that fear and anxiety. Even though both of my kids grew up inside my FOG, one child examined who I was and who my husband was and chose to be one kind of person and the other child, to be another kind of person. The active choice to knowingly abuse another is always a choice to employ evil and if chosen repeatedly, it consumes that person. We all have our issues but the world divides upon those who choose to try to do better and those who choose to make themselves feel better by making others hurt. Those who choose the later, fill the world with the tears of those who love them and agonize over ‘why’ but everyone deserves their choice and the only choice we’ve any power over is our own.

I know your daughter’s pain because I’ve lived it. At one point in my life, I chose evil because it seemed like evil always won. That choice nearly destroyed me and then I chose to look up and walk a different path, not because I am anything special. I had just reached the end and there was no place to go if I didn’t change course. I hope and pray the same for your daughter and everyone’s broken child that believes that evil is the only way to win.




Your mother’s words have guilt trip and it’s not my fault/I didn’t do anything written all over them.


Whenever I tell people about People of the LIe, I describe the story you included in your post. That story horrified me. Sadly enough, I didn’t read the entire book the first time it was recommended. Dusting it off and putting it in my bag for my road trip this weekend 🙂

I’ve been a good daughter to my mother. She recently reached out about her and my Step Dad coming to spend a weekend with me next month. I told her I would let her know. Normally, I would set a date and push aside anything I wanted to do to accomodate them, but right now I just don’t feel like it. I’m working a lot of hours (I work in IT and teach a college course for an online school), and my weekends are my time to relax or do what I want…and that does NOT include carting my mother around from one mall to the next. They are both retired (well..semi-retired because they own a small business), so they can go do what they want when they want to.

I don’t blame her for my choosing to set aside things that I truly wanted to do over the years to appease her, however, I recognize the bait that is cast…and it’s usually cast against my desire to be a dutiful/good daughter. It’s really telling when you feel guilty about not wanting houseguests when you’re working 60 to 70 hours a week. I only live 2 hours away, so it’s not like we never see each other. With the holidays coming up, I think we’ll have more togetherness than should be allowed, so for now, I think the distance is good.


Elsie, Wow, what an AWFUL thing for you to go through! Oh yes, fighting it, even behind closed doors (as the professionals advise) ends up with more abuse for the kids. When you see it happen, you vow to allow the situation that will result in the LEAST damage. But that’s not good enough, and that’s what we have to live with. And I can be angry about it without beating myself up.

I have taken away a lot from the contributors here. That doesn’t mean that I can’t acknowledge my own situation which is slight different. The important thing is that we stand firm in validating ourselves, wherever the source of invalidation came from.

Kaycee, I can understand why you take that opinion (and also how you feel about my comments, but thankfully, I am not Mother Superior :)). It is very common for survivors of abuse to lash out to survive. But in her case, she has made it clear that she will operate according to the “power wins” mantra, even against the weak who have not victimized her. She decided that after seeing that power wins. She has also seen a lot of love in her life, but she doesn’t respect that, she thinks they lose out (as most of her father’s victims at work, home, community and elsewhere seemed to).

I didn’t adopt any victim values. My values then are my values now. What changed was knowledge. Once I had access to new knowledge, which I worked through to see if they were true, my life changed. What made me a victim was being victimized, not my values. I am still being victimized, but because I know something different, I live differently – I act according to what I know. This blogpost has knowledge that is the minority view. VERY few people in the population has Darlene’s views.

Pam, just read your touching comments, and it resonates completely. Your story gives me a lot of hope!


Yes Eira. I’ve got that book but will read it again. It describes my father perfectly. He destroyed me emotionally. Damaged me and drove me to suicide several times. When I said this to him the next day he grinned and said when you said that it went off my head and did gesture with his hand. He admitted he’d caused my mental problems but my adopted mother insists they didn’t and its down to a birth mother I’ve never met who was a professional. My mother says ” oh at least I wasn’t caned on my leg like her. Saying that emotional abuse is OK as long as u aren’t caned. My brother was caned so why didn’t she stop that. Useless article that thinks she’s marvellous.


Hey Eira #161, The people of the lie is a wonderful book, and I always keep a copy on hand, even though it upsets me. I must keep it as a talisman and reminder about the family system I came from. After the death of my father by suicide,(diagnosed bi-polar, mother accused him of faking and not supportive) I was 11 and stuck, depressed and profoundly stunted in social situations due to all the turmoil before during and after his death. She always told me that my failures were my fault what was wrong with you if you don’t shape up I will take you to psychiatrist just like you father, you are selfish etc…. I too have written several letters calling her out on her behavior during her marriage to my father, her second husband ( we were not included in that relationship, in fact excluded and to the point where we were left to fend for ourselves while she went out with him and his children and she never said a word about us being included in these activities) she would get offended but she thought she was perfect and that I had been given every advantage in the world. She obliterated every trace of my father, and to her he did her wrong and she will not get over it, or discuss him or her role in the troubles before his death. But I digress, Peck is helpful and I regarded him as a starting point, and have found this website which has been a Godsend, even yesterday I felt myself feeling lighter and enjoyed myself without those old recordings in my head saying fat lazy ungrateful wasting myself on use less pursuits and trying to gain social contacts and activites, I cannot afford to wallow anymore, I have children and I even named one after my dad, a sort of thumb to nose at her and tell her I miss him. I do not impose the job of this child to replace him just to honor dad and let him become his own person. We have been no contact since before this child was born just at fifteen years. She has tried to gain access to them but she started the NC with a letter from her lawyer, and we have it on had in case she sends the flying monkeys at family gatherings when we are there and show it to them. My two sisters have sided with her and have drunk the Kool-Aid like those poor souls at Jonestown. I am not evil I am not wrong, and neither are any of us asking for healing and being stymied by our attempts at understanding and questioning the people who had the power when we were children.


Bought “People of the Lie” last night and stayed up way too late, could not put it down.

I have declined, for the first time in many years the invitation to go out to dinner with my family for my birthday. It is so uncomfortable for me to be around them I’ve decided just to enjoy myself this year.

Something I have noticed about being a scapegoat. When I would do something, say get a poor grade on a test, it would be because I was not very bright, or I was lazy or something like that. If one of the other children did poorly it would be because they didn’t feel good that day or didn’t get enough sleep.

I find this still with my family. Their errors never come from inside, they are always caused by some outside force. My failures are seen as coming from inside of me. Some of the conversation here has reminded me of that.

This is one of the sneaky, covert ways I am put down, kept beneath everyone in my family, but not one that is easy to identify, especially as a child. It is also nearly impossible to confront my Mom on this, she would just blink, act stunned and and say she has no idea what I am talking about. Then she would use to confirm I am her angry daughter who can’t over the past.

My Mom has an entire repertoire of these kind of covert ways putting me down. Like awhile back when my son got very ill and I caught what he had while caring for him. She called and when she heard I was sick her voice sounded gravely upset and alarmed, she said “Well, nobody else got sick.” Yep, I’m the only person in the world who gets sick and I should be really scared and worried about what horrible thing is wrong with me because I caught my son’s virus.

My Mom never stops giving me that message that there is something wrong with me, physically, mentally, emotionally, there is not one aspect of me that is good enough or ever has been. I am certain she is embodying the role of the hurt Mom today and being grateful for her normal daughter, my sister.

It is hard for me to accept she would rather let me go then hash this out and allow me to be an equal, but I believe my sister is stronger then her now and she knows she cannot challenge hierarchy without upsetting her. There is nothing that could move my Mom to upset her golden child who she is thoroughly enmeshed with. I also think she is not willing to admit to herself how bad her choices made my life or how profoundly they affected me.

Behind every hurt Mom, I believe, is a hurt child. I am more and more understanding that my path has to be that of the orphan because the path of the hurt child looking for her Mother is a harsh and vast wilderness that leads to nowhere.


Kaycee, I am glad you are finding a resonance with People of the Lie. It was a real eye opener for me. I also recommend “Scapegoating in Families” by Vimala Pillari. My family treats me exactly the same as yours. Down to the blinking and covert, “Nobody else got sick” reaction to your getting a cold. It is no wonder I had no self esteem and I have only started feeling like a real person when I went no contact with my sisters (my younger sister is now the most powerful person in the family) and very low contact with my brothers and parents. Kaycee, most of the time, refusing the scapegoat mantel will get you kicked out of the family. You are to play that role, or nothing–there is no way UP unless someone dies (i.e. the Golden Child, for example). The sad thing is that now my family has chosen a new scapegoat – that of my youngest brother, and he has started trying to hoover me back in the family, showing some level of support for my views, however, according to family systems research he may only (subconsciously) be trying to lure me back in as a scapegoat to take the heat off him. I am sympathetic to him but detached, and tell him I love my family but I love the freedom to be myself more. Since I was clear on the boundaries with him I have not heard from him in a month.

Kaycee, I doubt they will ever let you go and be an equal, and they will always believe there is something organically wrong with you. But once you free yourself from that longing for acceptance from them, they won’t have much of a hold on you anymore. I would have preferred to keep loving my family then viewing them in a detached state, rather than as people I “used to know” but it was the only way I could get a grip on myself. It was either them or me, and I chose me.


Alaina, I suspect my father (and his father) knew our families only too well. I often think that had it not been for him, I would have been much worse off. I mean he was pretty passive as far as it came to conflict between my mother and I. He would tell me to apologize to her, admonish me if I didn’t hug her (but he didn’t force me to hug him) and that I was “making” her upset, he wouldn’t ever “take my side” in anything. But the one thing he did do well was see me as a distinct person. Not as an object or “her thing” as my mother did. And that made a big difference. He wouldn’t try to change my feelings either. He seemed to listen (even if he did jack shit afterwards).

DXS, I suspect my mother (with whom I am now NC) stalks me on various websites I’m part of. I suspect to be able to tell other people that she still knows what I’m doing. I don’t know if she has told anyone that we’re estranged.


“Behind every hurt Mom, I believe, is a hurt child. I am more and more understanding that my path has to be that of the orphan because the path of the hurt child looking for her Mother is a harsh and vast wilderness that leads to nowhere.”

I like the idea rather to feel orphaned than hurt. Thank you! I will try that too. It feels more true than to say I was scapegoated and sacrificed by my family. And it sounds less like being victimized and more like opportunity.


Orphaned I like that too. I have always had difficulty when explaining were my mother and sisters are with friends and orphaned is a good term.


It took me a long time to enter this discussion and it’s because I had a lot to think about. I am both a hurt child and a mother. My mother was verbally abusive to me as well as physically. She also manipulated through silent treatment, and many times just ignored me. She was not interested in my life and moved 3000 miles away in the middle of my wedding planning which didn’t interest her. I carried my hurts into my married and motherhood years and even beyond her death.

As a mother, I tried to be different. I was there for my kids and there were no physical punishments. I gave affection, which I had not received from my mother. I was interested and actively involved in their lives. I think the hurt that I carried around manifested itself in me becoming overprotective of my kids. I was trying to protect them from the hurts I had received, but it didn’t occur to me that maybe their needs were different than mine, including their hurts. That is the area where I think I fell short. My son told me when he was in his teens that he thought I was a great Mom and then asked how did I know how to be a good mother when the one I had was so bad. ( he had his own bad feelings about his grandmother because she never showed interest in his life) my answer to the “good mother” question he asked me was that because I had no role model, I winged it and raised him on love. Thank goodness he felt I did pretty well. I will always be there for anything my kids want to talk to me about, including anything I’ve done or said that bothers them.

I recognized my mother in that letter too. She ignored the hurts she caused but was quick to play the victim. She failed at the mother role but was real quick to tell me what the daughters duty was. That was the time for me to set some boundaries without falling into her guilt manipulation. I did what I was comfortable doing, but was not willing to go beyond that. It was not selfish, as my mother would have defined it. It was self care.


Amber, it’s real interesting that our mothers will permit themselves to criticize us in the role of daughter while not allowing any criticism of theirs. Because she is “the mother”?

Alaina, I felt like I fit that orphaned role for a while too. But I still found myself lacking in it. So I’ve kind of adopted this “born of life” idea. It comes from a poem


Exactly, Alice! Because she is the mother!! There’s a certain entitlement that they seem to have just based on the fact that they are the mothers. They can criticize but can’t be criticized. They can fail to do their duty as a mother but expect that the daughter will do her ” daughter’s duty”. I love Darlene’s response to when someone says to her “But she is your mother!” ……AND I AM HER DAUGHTER! Those five words of Darlene’s are the great equalizer!


Hi Amber! Mine was full on full of that “mother” stuff. It was a convenient concept to hide behind. “Duty” was only for daughters (and sons and husbands) but she also said she felt “dutiful” towards her own mother. But I don’t remember her saying she felt duty towards anyone else.

I think if I had said “AND I AM HER DAUGHTER” the most frequent answer I’d get would be “so what?” Or it would be an affirmation that “therefore” I was beholden to my duty as daughter. It’s just not an equal situation at all. I’d be right back at trying to get validated that I did indeed deserve equality, which by their definition, I don’t.


My mother hasn’t spoken to me in months. The last I heard from her, she said. “I have nothing to offer. There will be no discussion.” That was after my husband tried to take my issues to her, basically asking that she believe me about sexual abuse that I’d gone through and that I be able to talk about – to at least acknowledge it. Basically – I think she said no.

A couple of days ago, she called my husband to ask if I would go with her and my siblings to visit my dad’s grave because it was his birthday. She didn’t actually invite me, she told my husband that she thought that I should be there out of respect for my father.

When he called to tell her that I wouldn’t be there, she remarked that I needed to get rid of my bitterness.

Even my husband recognized that she is blaming me for everything without even considering her part in the destruction of a relationship with me.

I can’t help wondering what the hell she is thinking to rationalize or justify her behavior.

She had said that I was asking too much of anyone to deal with the my experience of being molested when I was five. She couldn’t deal with hearing about it. I remember saying, “then think about how I feel having had to deal with it by myself since I was 5!” Apparently that doesn’t matter.


Hobie. The impression I got from your post was that your mother (who had ascendancy over you) was going to your husband (whom she thinks now has ascendancy over you) rather than speaking to you as an equal (which you are, but that doesn’t mean others recognize it, goddamn unfortunately, but fortunately we may decide to not take our own cues from their word).

I also see you wondering about what she’s thinking, “to rationalize or justify her behavior” well, that would be the daughter in us trying to understand her. So the rationalization or justifying isn’t just something “mom” does, we also do it for her, to ourselves long after.

Although I guess, if in the interim mom has changed somewhat, well we’d miss that real thing. Not that mine has, but I thought, “it might happen”. I don’t hope anymore because it’s very unlikely, but it might. You know miracles:)

Your mom is wrong in saying that you were asking too much of *anyone* to “deal” with your experience of being molested. After all, who was actually “dealing” with the experience??? She ought to have told the truth, which might have been closer to “you’re asking too much of me”. And then got help.


Amber and Alice, it really does seem that from the Mother’s point of view there is a certain entitlement. I am amazed at how liberal Mother’s are at explaining themselves and deflecting responsibility for their behavior and how harsh they become when explaining their daughters.

Oliver, yeas, it feels more true to me too, I’m not sure why, but it feels like a new chapter, one that is more hopeful than the old one.

Eira, my therapist asked me today if I felt it was okay for me to separate from my family. I said “I don’t know.” She said “It is.” It felt good to have someone I respect and affirm this. It is still scary for me to realize how little my Mom genuinely cares about me. I’m struggling with accepting something I have always known in my heart.

Hobie, I’m so sorry. It is heartbreaking to me to see someone make abuse about themselves rather than the person trying to recover from it. It is an act so devoid of anything maternal it leaves me at a loss for words.


Alice – my husband has been kind enough to take on the roll of mediator or “buffer” between my mom & myself. The last phone calls between mom & me were not very friendly. I got upset and she hung up on me. He took my issues to her because I wasn’t able to get through to her. I hoped that if it came from someone else on my behalf, she might hear what she couldn’t hear when it came straight from me.

It didn’t work. My husband, however, now has a much clearer picture of what I’ve been dealing with my whole life. His validation is a huge relief.

There is still the heart of a little girl inside me wondering why her mom doesn’t love her. I’m at the point of recognizing that my mom never was and never will be the warm, loving woman of my fantasies. There are still a few step to acknowledging that she isn’t even really safe to be around. On the positive side, I’m not buying into what she thinks of me. I know she’s wrong and I believe that the further I am from her and her judgements, the more I can be the person I was meant to be.

Kaycee – thank you for your kind words. She seems to have no ability to see the impact of her own behavior. She expects a hell of a lot from me, but resents any expectation of her. Alcoholic/Narcissistic characteristics.



Oh and Eira, I have that book, I remember it was really expensive, the “Scapegoating in Families.” It was one of the first real eye openers I had. I actually gave it to my Mom and asked her to read it. She gave it back to me and said “That was really sad.” And that was all she said.

I haven’t had contact with my Stepfather for many years, but I still have a note he wrote me saying “You were always at the bottom of the totem poll.” I hate his guts, but I give him props for being more honest than my Mom.

He even said to me it was because I was “big” like my biological Father and that reminded him that my Mom had been with a man bigger than him. He was very petite, has severe scoliosis and is somewhat of a hunchback. I am long and tall like my Father’s side of the family. the rest of my family is short and apple shaped.

My Mom still attributes my abuse to me digging my heals in and being lost ect… My stepfather is so far over on the narcissist scale that he can be honest about what happened (to a degree, like saying he had no idea feelings were important) without feeling or any responsibility or empathy. My Mom can’t do that unless she is talking about her own behavior.

Anyway your wording about my family believing there is something “organically” wrong with me really brought something home and I am working with that today. It is something I have been trying to say for awhile to my therapist and that just so perfectly sums it up and opens up a door. It was the subject of most of my hour today, so I want to thank you. You gave me the words I have been unable to find to express something I feel perfectly.


My last post tonight I promise lol! I spent years upon years having miscarriages. I was shunned in my family as not being mother material. My sister made it a BIG point to let me no I was nowhere on list to care for her children if something should happen to her or her husband.

No doubt, whether or not this contributed to my infertility or not, it contributed to my inability to seek help.

I have only one child after 16 years of trying. I have learned that I was born to be a Mom. My house is full of children, day and night. Even when my child is gone, the neighborhood children come to my door for everything from thinking they have a fever while their parents are at work, to lost pets, to swearing they saw a ghost in the window of their neighbors house.

I have a mamma bear instinct, not just for my child, but for every child who crosses my threshold. I had no role model. I just remember what it is to be a child.



Remembering what it is to be a child is sometimes all you need. It helps you to develop empathy and compassion.


Kaycee, the last time I talked to my mom (and like I said, I have only very low contact with her) she found a way to hijack a conversation that we had about some minor learning differences I had starting kindergarten at age 4 (soon to be 5) because I did not have the fine motor skills to write legibly and I had a hard time with multi-step directions (I still do, sometimes). It’s like she is still trying to convince me (but more likely herself) that I am flawed, imperfect, etc., whereas none of those issues ever hampered my life–my low self esteem, now that hampered my life. I started thinking about animals with litters, such as kittens or puppies. Sometimes if the litters are too big, the mother cat or dog will just refuse to care for one of them, sometimes they are the runt but often, there isn’t any real discernable difference. It’s just the mother only has so many resources to go around and so in order to make some of them stronger and pass on her genes, one of them has to be sacrificed. I wonder how much of that instict is passed on in humans? Even though we are supposed to be evolved? My mom went through some horrible times with my dad (he may be the narcicisstic one and she is the co-narcissist) and the scapegoating began after a particular period of upheaval that was never resolved in any kind of satisfactory way. Before that happened, I don’t recall being mistreated or treated poorly. In fact, when my mom wants to talk about the good things she has done and the love she has had for me, she invariably talks about the time period before all of that happened.

I have to say, Kaycee, I went through some lonely days. I no longer have contact with cousins or extended family. I had one cousin who remained in contact, and one day three years ago my sister told me that that cousin repeats everything I tell her about my situation back to the family. My cousin denied it, and I don’t hear much from her anymore, but I thought she was one of my best friends.


I am so glad I came across this website. It is now apparent to me that I am not alone in this mother daughter situation.
After a recent visit from my mother (we live in different countries) I received a rather interesting e-mail from her.
Just for a bit of background, she had visited in 2001. She had arrived at an airport in a different State to that of where we live. At that time my husband advised her that any future trips she should make sure she flies into the International Airport in the State that we reside. We even gave her the airport code so there would be no confusion.
My husband received an e-mail from her, stating that she would be visiting this year and she would be flying into the airport we had advised her to. All good right? Wrong!!!!
Next thing he receives an e-mail from her telling him she will be landing out of State. He asked me to send her an e-mail telling her she needs to change her flight, which I did, her reply was this one liner….

” Sorry ……………. does not fit with arrangements at this end”

So I sent her a return e-mail, letting her know she would need to get herself into our State and then we would gladly pick her up. I told her there were many options available to her and the best thing for her to do would be ‘google’ it. To this she took great offense and I received in part the following e-mail entitled “Astonishment”

“For you information I am spending the balance of my retirement money on this trip and will go home stone broke so the saving is massive for me. (I believe it was about $100.00) The comment that it would cost you to come and get me was nothing short of a slap in the face.

I have traveled for your benefit the length and breadth of … my cost and on many occasions throughout your life and for many reasons. Marching, horse riding, shifting house, travel to and from airports. I have arranged accommodation for you, vehicles for you to travel in etc and you cannot even assist me with information. When asked your response was to Google it.”

and the e-mail continues with her rantings.

So the tone was already set before she even arrived. I did not respond to her e-mail straight away. I was just amazed that she thought in order for her to save $100.00 It would cost my family $200.00 to go and get her. So why should her saving be at my expense????? My immediate response would have been to tell her not to come. My daughter was looking forward to seeing her Grandmother and I didn’t want her to be disappointed.
My husband sends her an e-mail (to this day she thinks it was from me. She sends me a return e-mail, thanking me for my apology and that it meant a lot)smooths things over, spends six hours in the car, pays tunnel tolls, bridge tolls, gas, wear and tear on our vehicle and picks her up.

The whole visit was because it was MY 50th birthday……..yes MY birthday. She had invited herself and it was supposed to be a surprise for me. (not exactly the kind of surprise I wanted for my birthday) My husband had told me of the visit as I was also getting a surprise visit from one of my brothers and his girlfriend. So here was my birthday, with a house full of guests.

Needless to say things were somewhat tense during the six days she stayed. Upon opening her suitcase she threw her pants at my brothers girlfriend and told her to wash them…………..She ran downstairs crying on a least four different occasions, for which none of us could figure out why, we did our best to just ignored her tantrums. She picked a fight with my daughter at the dinner table because Grandma told her to tie her hair back for dinner and she refused. When my daughter asked me, I told her she didn’t have to tie her hair back. That caused a problem, she later told my daughter, how dare she play one off against the other and she should do what Grandma tells her to do. I explained to my daughter that Grandma was not in charge in this house and that she only need to follow instructions from her mother or father. I could go on and on about the incidences that followed but I think you get the drift!

We took her back to the airport and I was happy to see the back of her, but I was also sad that we just couldn’t get along. She had always told me growing up, when it was my house it could be my rules and I could do what I want when I’m paying my own bills…..we’ve all heard it.
But that is just not the truth of it when she is around, it is clearly ‘Her Way or the Highway’

So I was not surprised to receive this e-mail from her, it was entitled

“D & M from MUM”

If anyone knows what D & M means, I would love to know….

Subject: D & M from Mum


Well I have been home now for 20 days and during that time I have been considering just what it is I am going to say to you in this e mail.

This is not Andrea 101 but a communication from a very very concerned mother who loves you.

To say that my holiday was less than it could have been is an understatement. I did however have a wonderful time with Emily.

There are a number of things I observed during my time with you and that is outside of your attitude towards me.

Firstly I am very concerned at your treatment of Emily. Although you take great care of her in respect to how she is dressed, fed and physically taken care of, you are not investing any of yourself in her.
Since when did housework become more important that spending time during her holidays with your daughter?
Why do you find the need to shout and yell at her until the look on her little face is one of fear?
Why do you feel the need to be always right when it comes to some sort of disagreement with her? Who is the adult here?

Oh yes I can hear your response to this about how bad I was as a mother……………………..I am fortunate that I was given another opportunity and went away and did some parenting training which taught me a better way to do things. Something I think it would be good for you to seriously consider in order that you are able to enjoy the last few years of the time that Emily is home with you and before she goes to college or arrives at the point where she is just going to rebel like you did.

Why is it you feel the need to be so nasty to Robert? He offers to help you but nothing is good enough and you speak to him like a piece of shit. What is it in you that you just can’t be nice? He is an excellent father and provider and he deserves better than this. If there are issues in your marriage then perhaps you should consider counselling.

You seem to have fallen out with everyone around you and your whole attitude is angry and ugly. This is not the girl I know.

I know you don’t think so but your drinking is out of control. When you are sitting alone at night and you get so drunk you are legless that is a problem not to mention the fact that you are drinking from a bucket (more than one) each night. You need to get this sorted and sooner rather than later.

You look terrible and I have seen you look like this before when other of your relationships have broken up.

I don’t know what is wrong and can’t know if you don’t tell me. Is it the change of life? Are you unwell? Are you homesick? Has your last trip home got something to do with it? What is it?

How can I help? I hate to see you unhappy.

Please don’t respond to this e mail with an attack on me. It will achieve nothing as I have prepared myself well for your wrath.

Much love Mum

I was not surprised by this e-mail, that fact that she could sum up my life in six days goes to show how phenomenal she is! Nor was I surprised that she had forwarded a copy of this to all and sundry including my husband.

Sadly for her, she did not receive the response she had prepared herself for. In her next e-mail she asked me if I had anything to say in response to her e-mail, to which she got the same response………….nothing!

I left home when I was 16, I could no longer take her, ever since I remember, she has treated me like her slave, like she had children to serve her. (I likened myself to Cinderella, scrubbing and scrapping cooking and cleaning and never allowed to go to the Ball) She beat me so bad one day that she wouldn’t let me go to school the next day.A slap in the face, she wouldn’t even see one coming, like the ones she gave me on a daily basis!

It is interesting to note that she has four children, my older brother received a similar e-mail from her in October 2012, which she also distributed to all and sundry, my youngest brother has not spoken to her in over 20 years, my other brother has a different situation and she has control over him, using his money to fund her trip to the US.

Fortunately I have a wonderful Father, whom I talk to at least once a week, he is not judgmental and doesn’t tell me how to run my life or that I am doing it all wrong. I was able to enjoy a visit with my Father and his wife a couple of years ago, I stayed for a month and not one bad word or one tense moment between us. I am grateful to have such a wonderful Father.

My mother will be 70 next year and I am expected to attend but just can’t decide what to do. I don’t want to disappoint my other family members by not going.

Sorry for boring you all with my story. It sure feels good to get it out.

I do not lack self esteem and my life long ambition is to NOT be my mother, to break the cycle. I don’t always get it right but I am trying. I do not hit my child and despite my mothers opinion that my daughter is not afraid of me.

Darlene I have not read your book as yet, it is my intention to do so in the near future. Thank you for this very insightful website. I am glad I found it. It validates my feelings and lets me know I an not alone:)


Eira, I wonder often too about what makes a bad Mother, how much maternal instincts are hard wired into our biology and how much is learned behavior. No doubt every species has bad mothers, but they are not the norm. And yes, scarcity, even of emotional resources could kick in something. I don’t know.

I know I have very old memoirs from my ancestors who had 8 children and lived in virtual poverty. Everyone had to do their part to make sure there was food on the table, but that Mother moved heaven and earth for all of her kids despite it all. She mourned for an extended period over the loss of an infant to illness but still managed to care for her children.

I feel like when my son hurts, I hurt. I often think that because of what my Mother was going through in her own life at the time of my birth and because of her young age, she was unable to form a bond or attachment to me and she looked to find something wrong with me in order to explain why.

It simply does’t make sense to want to hurt your own child, or to want them to grow up damaged, not from a biological perspective.


I don’t know Kaycee. My mom’s mom had twelve kids and the only one who I ever heard voice any kind of “mom issues” was the oldest girl who felt like she had to bear the brunt of too many responsibilities. I was close to my grandma. She always made me feel good about myself, like to her she “saw” me and I was the only one…though she had 50 grandkids. Somehow we all felt “special”. But my grandpa, apparently, had his favorites and he did not give special attention to my mom and then she married a husband who treated her very poorly. I suppose she reacted to that by making me a scapegoat. My mom loves little kids and I remember loving her dearly before the age of seven and I supposedly ‘became difficult.’


Another thing, Kaycee, is that some mothers give extra attention to children they perceive as needing special help. I’m sure you have known families, as have I, where there was a slow or retarded (someone mentioned a family with a mentally ill person) who was treated as special and given extra attention. I’m not sure what my mom would have done with that because she actually had 5 very bright and talented children. I wonder if she wouldn’t have found some way to put a truly damaged child in an institution or foster care. It sounds, Kaycee, as though we have read some of the same books on scapegoating. Some of the material suggests that scapegoats are 1st born in unwed/shotgun young relationships OR second born when all the “good stuff” has already been given to the older sibling.


Krissy, I love the “ANDS” in your reasoning! I think parenting is such a complicated thing to begin with when coming from or being in an abusive relationship especially, and after reading all of your comments last night, I thought your “ANDS” made sense. It never is all or nothing , black or white, in this world and I am so sorry for all you personally went through. It sounds like you tried to do everything you knew at the time and what was in your power to do. I wish the very best for you and for your daughter. It is obvious how much you love her! I think putting up boundaries is so necessary when family members…even daughters…cannot behave with respect. You DO have so much knowledge now and understanding that you werent able to have back then ….that is a new form of power in your life! I wish you and your life and your daughter healing and peace and grace! 🙂


A question for everyone: after all of the years of verbal abuse from my mother, I was very fearful of her. But I found that I transferred this to other women too, especially women older than me, and with dark hair ( which my mother had), and especially if they have pushy or confrontational personalities. I have this fear that I would not be able to stand my ground with them, and fear of being harmed, not physically, but emotionally by them. To add to this, I also had a very vicious supervisor at one time who fit this description, and The neighborhood troublemaker also did. Has anyone else had a similar experience and has anyone overcome this?


Ugh spellcheck in my last message! It should not read “died”, it should read “did”. Big difference in meaning.


Amber, I suspected that you meant “did” instead of “died”, but I’m glad you clarified it. 🙂

I have spent most of my life either afraid or distrustful of women in general. When I was young, I think it was actually all females. To some extent all human beings were a least a little suspect because I’d been sexually abused by young teenage boys at the age of 5.

Somehow I found myself able to trust or connect with some males. I didn’t necessarily make good choices with that, but I had a much harder time getting close to women. I think I found that I didn’t expect women to care about what I’d been through, because my mother never acted like she cared.

Your fear of dark haired women is not necessarily rational, but I think that avoiding women with pushy confrontational personalities is probably a good idea if you can do it. Your experience is supposed to teach you. Some of what you learn will be useful!



Hobie, that’s great that you have this validation from your husband! I apologize for making the assumption I did.
Amber, yes, problems with women, better relationships with men but that is changing. I don’t think it was conscious either.
The entitlement is crazy.


Amber, I fixed your comment. 🙂
Everyone, I have so much to say!!!!!!!! (and no time!!) This is an awesome conversation ~
For now I will just quickly say that I had fears of anyone that was pushy. I got nervous and then they pushed me even more. I used to think I had a sign on my forehead! All of that changed when I got my life and my power back; by power I mean owning my right to be respected and knowing that I didn’t deserve to be treated as ‘less’ than.
Hugs, Darlene


Amber…yes I also felt..and still feel to an extent…the same way you are describing. When my mother died when I was little and then my dad remarried and she adopted me and was neglectful and abusing and played head games with me..etc etc…I didnt really have a “mother” in the real sense of the word. I was closer to my Grandmothers, but not in a way where I ever told them of the abuse or the family “secrets”, so I didnt trust women in general. I was fortunate to connect in my 20’s to an older woman who I did learn to trust to a certain point, so that helped me be able to make friends, but again only to a level. I think when I got free a few years ago, I suddenly began to see people differently and one of the things that I have “grown” in is the ability for me to be able to not care what women think of me overall. Being in my 50’s and being older helps some, but the main thing has been that the more I heal, the less threatened I feel by women or anyone in situations where I used to fall apart emotionally. I can see right through the manipulations or control issues or hurts or whatever that might be happening inside of them. I admit to still withholding myself, but that is more of a choice and a habit at this point. I love my life the way it is and have a certain amount of nice people to share it with so I am content to leave it like this. I think it is normal to feel what you feel. 🙂


Alice – I can understand how you came to the conclusion that you did. I just needed to fill in enough information for you to see it more accurately. That’s what is good about people who are willing to converse 🙂



All my life I have been looking for that accepting, not rejecting, approving, encouraging mother figure. I am drawn toward women who seem nurturing and who are older than me. I have been let down by a few who did not have that to give. I am in my 40s but I have finally come to the conclusion that I have to be my own “mother.” Everytime I get close to a relationship like that they meet my mother and withdraw from me–I am sure my mom is telling them “the truth about me.” So I have to find my own approving mother within myself. My brother went through something similar when he left my family in the 1990s and moved several states away, but with my dad–his therapist told him he could “be his own father” and I didn’t get it at the time, I thought someone could do it for me. There is no way to make up for lost time. The great thing is is that my sons don’t see me this way. Amen!


It is so uncomfortable for me to be around them I’ve decided just to enjoy myself this year.

I had to break my family of the “birthdays are supposed to be spent with family” thing. There is nothing wrong with choosing to spend your birthday the way YOU want to spend it.


YES I had to be the mother that I never had! and I am still learning and still tweaking and still growing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Hobie, Alice, Finally Free, Eira and Darlene, thanks for your responses. Darlene, yes I can relate to having a sign on me that invites people to disrespect me and take advantage. My fear is not as bad as it used to be, but at times I still freeze up when women that remind me of my mother are nasty, pushy and disrespectful. I will continue on my healing journey, and hopefully will overcome this someday.

RE: being the mother I never had, I am learning to soothe and comfort and speak to myself the way my mother should have done. It helps me calm down and it also feels good to have me on my side.


Hi Andrea
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I ‘enjoyed’ reading your post in the way that it amazes me how typical this is for them and how much I used to think there was something wrong with me because it frustrated me so much!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


re your comment about your mother telling you she had nothing to offer and there would be no discussion. I cringed when I read that. I am glad that you have a supportive husband.
hugs, Darlene

Amber and Alice ~ Just that expression “I am the Mother” gets under my skin! Amber ~ when you say “AND I AM HER DAUGHTER”, don’t forget to add “what is your point??” that really shocks them! (because you are stating your value when you say that.. and they are like ‘what the hell??’… lol )
hugs, Darlene


I love your comment starting with “behind every hurt mom” because I feel that it is true. As I grow I feel more sorry for my own mother, the difference today is that my feeling sorry for her isn’t at my expense anymore. She doesn’t want to sort this out. She doesn’t want to admit her wrong. And that is the difference between hurt mothers who love and hurt mothers who are self focused and entitled.
Hugs, Darlene

I appreciate everyone who stuck with this thread and tried. I had the busiest week this week and I the difficult discussion came at a really bad time for me. I see a lot of love and understanding here.
hugs, Darlene


Darlene, you said “hurt mothers who love and hurt mothers who are self focused and entitled.”

Yes, there’s a difference. One mother’s heart is breaking because of what SHE has lost (and blames the child), the other mother’s heart is breaking because of what the daughter has lost, and how it hurts that you not only couldn’t protect the one you loved, you lose that relationship (understandably) and carry the blame, on top of carrying the blame for the abuse in the marriage and the losses due to domestic terrorism. When a mother is limping, and cannot protect her brood, and has to watch her brood suffer, while she is in the gutter, then lose the brood, she inevitably becomes a hurt mother, not to minimize the damage to the kids. By the way, there are a bunch of women in Iraq about to be hurt moms – the ISIS has turned to raping women to create future terrorists.

The turning point for me came when I realized that people expected me to climb Mount Everest alone (without their help) with one leg, but if I had to do that to save the kids, that’s what had to happen, with no finances, no accommodation (the shelter would not accept me), no family members close by, and court action against you. My support was a domestic violence advocate who educated me about domestic violence.

If I had known the dangers awaiting me, I might not have done it. Some of my friends are still living in life-threatening situations because they want to wait till their kids are 18 so they don’t have to face unsupervised visitation. Someone i know fled for the kid’s sake and lost her child (she is blamed for it on the internet by people who don’t know what lengths she went to, to fight for the child, and she is now suing the expert witness who validated the psychopathic father who murdered the child.). It’s a no-win situation, which is why it is important to be at peace with the “AND”s, and validate the truth (that kids deserve protection, and yet all your efforts to make it happen don’t work, and they get hurt). If there’s something I learnt on this site, it’s that abusive people distort reality and to heal is to reject the distortions and insist on the truth.

I appreciate all your understanding.


Hi Krissy,
Thanks for sharing your definition of the difference between the two kinds of hurt mothers. I hope your daughter reaches back to you one day. I hope she finds healing and I hope she finds herself. I don’t believe I’ve ever been abusive (nothing too bad anyway if I have hurt people) but I do understand the pull toward the abuser, the power they have and the strange kind of safety when being taken in. I definitely understand Stockholme Syndrome. There’s something, too, of feeling soulless, or without bones, that you’re just a heap of flesh and organs and to be around the abuser gives you definition, holds you up. I gather when you fully embrace the other side, it is an attempt to amputate yourself from your victimhood, your helplessness, to take on that false power. It is very scary to lose the self, the “bones” that being with the abuser gives you. Without that, you collapse and for a time you have no self at all, or at least it feels that way. Eventually you realize that it was the abuser who stole or broke your soul to being with. It’s devastating but it’s essential to freedom to feel that hollow when you lose the abuser’s definition, at least that’s how it’s been for me. Anyway, I hope that your daughter finds her way out.

You sound solid and strong. I think that once any of us are able to accept the past as having happened, which takes a heck of a lot of time and effort (there’s all that rage of why did it have to happen in the first place), all that we’d hope for from our parents would be more or less what it is you offer—the ability to recognize both realities, yours and your daughter’s, as distinct and separate and to care about what happened (and happens) to your daughter as an individual, that your heart breaks for her pain, and your own reality does not override her experience, which you are able to understand and validate should she ever come around.

I don’t hold out much or any hope for my hurt family. They feel their pain but not mine. But it’s nice to know that not all mothers (or fathers, siblings, etc.) are like this. Life is hard and complicated. Nobody asks for the mess they end up in. The difference is in how we deal with it—those who truly do try their best and those who blame others and inflict damage, or use others, to hold themselves up. I guess all you can really do is try to live your life the best you’re able and hope the world will come around.


Krissy, The system stinks and anyone who thinks that there is real help out there, is naïve. It stinks but most of the time it seems, the bad guys win. I know it’s not the same in every state or in every country but often, even when the system does deign to intervene, the children they ‘help’ face worse abuse in the system than they did in the situation they were rescued from. Sometimes, it all comes together and works the way it should but I’m afraid that is the exception rather than the rule. When a parent doesn’t fulfill their moral obligation to their child, there is no real fix and the other parent or family members involved find themselves with their hands tied. It sucks and the most innocent suffer the most.


Amber I had the same problem but with my father. Anyone like him and the fear would come. There was many hostile people like him about. I didn’t have much awareness of it so it became overwhelming. I’m so bad now. Even though he was dead I still had this fear and transference.


Darlene, RE: message 214, I get the “point”! 🙂 🙂


Moira, 219, it’s hard, but when I run into someone like my mother who is verbally abusive and pushy I’ve been trying to remind myself that I am not in a mother/ child relationship with this person and that the consequences of speaking up would not be the ones I faced as a child. It sometimes helps me not to freeze and be able to respond, but I can hear my voice trembling when I do respond and my heart is going a mile a minute. Unfortunately the person can pick up on my fear, and many times becomes more abusive because I dared to confront them. They all seem to have that same air of entitlement that my mother did, feeling superior and above being challenged. My mother is deceased now ( yet the fears she instilled in me have gone beyond the grave). The neighborhood troublemaker lives diagonally across the street from me and she could be a clone of my mother. When her son was bullying mine and I brought it to her attention she brushed it off as ” kids will ve kids” and then proceeded verbally abuse me and then ran around gossiping to others twisting my words and putting me in the wrong. This happened years ago and I have found that the best way to deal with her is to have as little contact as possible. I say hello and have impersonal conversations with her a couple of times a year, but drew the boundary there when she tried to reinstate our former friendship. She has gone on to other targets in our neighborhood.

If I had had a normal mother/ child relationship with my mother, I know I would not have this fear of confrontations and dealing with people like her,. It’s ” transference” as you called it, Moira. I hope that both you and I can work our way past this. Sending healing thoughts to you, Amber.


Thanks Darlene for the welcome. I know I was way off topic. It really lightened my load to get it out there. Your blog seemed to be the right place to start, after spending hours scrolling through all the posts, I found that every body here is facing the same issues. Loved how everyone is very supportive and understanding.
It is very frustrating indeed. My posting, of coarse is not an isolated incident, merely the straw that finally broke the camels back and the end of the line for me.
From here I will rise up and move forward. I am committed to ending the cycle of abuse. I will strive to be the best mother to my beautiful, intelligent daughter. Despite what I have been told, I know I am a good person.


I had to jump in with the because “I am the mother!” message. My mum used to say, I am the Matriarch!! When she would say that, I’d really have to hide my face, because it half of me was gobsmacked and the other half wanted to laugh out loud. I have spent too much time wondering where on earth she had heard that from.

For Hobie, I am sad that your story is similar to mine. I was four, and it was some 12 year old in the neighbourhood. How, I was supposedly ‘missing’ for four hours. Who or what mum doesn’t know where her child is. And, for years I felt, I knew something bad happened to me. I knew things that no four or five year old should know. My own mother was molested when she was four by her stepgrand-dad. She told me that it affected her, her whole life. She expected the rest of us to be understanding. When it happened to me, nothing was ever done, nothing was ever said. No one ever had a bloody thought to take me to the hospital, much less wonder if this might have affected me in any way. I grew up afraid of men. Then, my mum calls me gay. She used to say that if a man made a move on me, I’d run like a dog with my tail between my legs.
I hear you. And I empathise. It’s not right. It never was. It isn’t now.


Hi Andrea, I just got time to read your post. Honestly, I had to try not to laugh, your Mother’s email to you was so shockingly bad it’s almost funny. I think you are very lucky to live so far away.

I have read a great deal of books lately and it seems to me, ignoring her email was a very wise decision on your part. Honestly, if you decide to go to her 70th, I would make sure you have a hotel room to escape to so as you are not in the same house as her!


DXS, that is exactly what my therapist said!!!!!


I find that I am not so much afraid of women, but that I am often repulsed by them. I pick very strong, honest women for friends which never goes over very big with my ultra refined, oh so classy family. It is another reason they have to look down on me, they act like I am trashy. But then again they respond strangely to me for everything, not just who I choose to keep company with.

I think they would like to see me in a brown sack, not too frumpy, presentable but nothing to call attention to myself. They would like me to be quiet, to speak only when spoken too. They would like for me to have a weight and a drinking problem (I lost the weight many eons ago but my Mom loves to talk about how I struggle with me weight).

They would like me to have no friends, to keep only their counsel and they would like for me to clear everything with them first and heed their dire warnings about the perils I inflict upon my family for basically walking out the front door.

I could go on like this forever but it gives me a headache lol!


Just reading all of these posts, and thinking back on how mother’s or parents feel that they are the victims is mind blowing. I just read an article online, it’s Elephant Journal. Sometimes they have some really poignant articles. I was just reading about how in some parent-child relationships, these two groups of people learn to become really good friends. The article is here if you want to read it:

It states: “Often a true friendship just hasn’t been established between a parent and their child. A true friendship includes the qualities of respect, equality, trust, honesty, listening and open communication, among many others, but sometimes the standard disciplinary approaches have inhibited these and other characteristics from maturing in the relationship.”

“True friendship has communication which is respectful, fair and balanced. If a child feels that their views are disregarded and their feelings aren’t validated—even if they’re wrong or acting childish—then in return they disregard the views and feelings of their parents. (In reality, parents unbeknownst to them, are CREATING the so called disrespect they accuse us of, DUH)

It is therefore the adult’s responsibility to ensure they create harmony in the relationship because the child is simply still a child.” (this is a biggie!!)

“A parent should also be above their child’s behaviors and not get sucked into the drama of their life. They should embrace them for the fact that they are children. Because they are still underdeveloped, such as with their lack of knowledge and behavioral shortcomings, a parent shouldn’t expect their child to be perfect or “get it” immediately. After all, sometimes it takes years to learn a moral or behavioral quality, so if a parent takes issue that they don’t learn it straight away, then it is going to create conflict and divide in the relationship.” (applies to the one above)

“On the other hand, a strict household creates lies and distrust. If the child knows that they are going to get into serious trouble for something they have done—even though most children in the history of children have done something similar—then of course they’re not going to be honest about it. It makes perfect sense to lie to protect oneself, especially if they disagree with the rule in the first place.”

” So the old saying “respect your elders” won’t be well received by a child who doesn’t agree with the way an elder expects their fundamental principles and practices to be adhered to.

In this case, it is important to “agree to disagree” so that the respect of the friendship can be maintained. We do this with our friends all the time—we don’t force them to think and act the way we do, so why should we expect our kids to, especially when they are growing into their independent adult selves.”

SOmetimes I wonder if I must be crazy. I read Darlene’s posts, too many books to count, and many articles online. I know the truth. Why isn’t this enough?


Hi Kaycee,
What you wrote perfectly describes my abusers.They always have to say something negative to me and about me,a flaw to throw in my face.They especially do it when i get out of the house.Just when i open the door to leave,i hear things like:”Laura,you chose the wrong blouse.It shows your fat belly”.These words are intentionally designed to ruin my day.They know i need self-esteem to face the world and to keep calm.If i reply,i get the ‘you’re too sensitive’ remark.So,i have no choice but to leave the house in an internal rage.Once i’m outside,a million replies come to my mind,and i kick myself for not having the wit and spontaneity to answer back as soon as they attack me.I continue a dialogue with them in my head all day long.Again,they win and i loose.

They would like me to have a weight problem so they could fix me and then boast about it:”If it weren’t for us….”.My oppinions irritate them,so my dad is a contrarian.


I have received a 3 line email from my mother telling me it’s time for us to “stop wasting time”. To which I say, You are the one that chose not to acknowledge me. The tone of it is business like and authoritative. And she throws in that she would be willing to throw money at the problem (not her exact words, but money is a power and incentive she has always wielded).

I’m weighing what to do. I’ve been making a lot of progress on myself without her in the picture even if it has been very difficult at times. I know I don’t owe her anything. And I know I won’t really gain anything by letting her back in.

The whole point in the first place was to protect my kids. When I saw her treating my daughter like she was a threat, it was very triggering. But, her point is not me. From my perspective, it just looks like she wants access of what is “rightfully” hers, “her” grandchildren.

What kind of example do I set that I let someone who negates my soul back in my life? It’s like there is a mechanism deeply embedded in our relationship that goes into the spiritual. That she tried to suffocate me. She demanded my silence in return for letting me live a walking dead life in her house. It’s as if If I let her back in, I am complicit in the murder of myself.

And my daughter would be very confused. She knows grandma was abusive. What am I showing her by letting someone in that I know won’t change. And even if she did follow my boundaries, just by virtue of her being around it is a reminder of how unwanted I was. I don’t think I can stand for anymore of this melodramatic on again, off again crap, either.

And I just had another bad memory about her, maybe the worst. And she emails me. The memory showed me who she really was, to me. She hated me. She wouldn’t have minded me being dead.

It’s not a relationship with me she wants in this. I’m just an obstacle. To her standing as good mother and grandmother who saves the day. She wants us as place holders, extras in the movie of her.

I will think about this further, but I don’t think I’m going to engage her. As a friend said, it’s almost as if she can sense when the wound is scabbed over and she comes to pick at it. She advised me not to let her have any of my power, regardless of what I chose to do. Good advise, I think.



Interesting post. No, I don’t think you are crazy. What I suppose you experienced with your FOO is crazy-making; you yourself are not crazy. EFB, books, articles, etc. tell you the truth. You know the truth. It does not seem like enough because it is so hurtful to your core. You must give yourself some “soaking time”. That is what horse trainers do with their horses. They let the horse lick and chew over the lesson before they do anything else with the horse.

I have felt like you. I used to feel I will never get over this deal with my family. But it happens slowly, and sometimes you don’t even notice it happening. I used to think about all this family crap more than I do now. Of course I expect it will never leave me altogether. It is terribly painful to deal with rejection from the ones who were never supposed to reject you. Please know that it will get better. Have more compassion and patience with yourself.


It’s like chasing a carrot on the end of a stick. They dangle it in front of you (love, cultural definition of what family is, expectations, etc.) But the never give it themselves. They suck us dry of our love and expectation, of us buying into it; but they give nothing in return.
Everything takes a while to sink in, I think. It seems like most of the lessons I learn come through my head quickly, but sink very very slowly into my heart, where real understanding is. I know I still have lots of lessons to integrate into my heart.


Jamie –

Your post reflects what I’m feeling this morning about my mother. She called my husband last night. I almost feel like she made up an excuse for the call and then proceeded to chat with him as if nothing is wrong.

I’m not sure what she wants with him or me because she’s already got my children and grandchildren on her side.

This resonated with me so deeply – “What kind of example do I set that I let someone who negates my soul back in my life? It’s like there is a mechanism deeply embedded in our relationship that goes into the spiritual. That she tried to suffocate me. She demanded my silence in return for letting me live a walking dead life in her house. It’s as if If I let her back in, I am complicit in the murder of myself. –

I feel like any connection to my family would make me, as you said, “complicit in the murder of myself.”

Don’t let her have any of your power. That is good advice.



“We do this with our friends all the time—we don’t force them to think and act the way we do, so why should we expect our kids to, especially when they are growing into their independent adult selves.”

Raven, I think it has to do with the “why” of having kids in the first place. If my mother had kids so that they could fulfill HER definitions of family (wherever those references came from, likely from her own upbringing, whether in favor or against her own experiences) and HER definitions or needs for love, caregiving, respect, success etc then she was basically instrumentalising her offspring (and then punishing them when they didn’t conform). It’s misguided and I guess, sadly, pretty common, likely not very conscious, wrong and mistaken.

I loved Alaina’s comment to Krissy. “all that we’d hope for from our parents would be more or less what it is you offer—the ability to recognize both realities, yours and your daughter’s, as distinct and separate and to care about what happened (and happens) to your daughter as an individual, that your heart breaks for her pain, and your own reality does not override her experience, which you are able to understand and validate.”

There was a time not so far back (and in many places this still holds) when it was seen as permitted for men to beat their wives, consider them as objects in their service. I hope that children will also soon benefit from a change in the way they are considered.


You’re awesome. I feel the same way about my kids, but I’m lucky and grateful to have a sane husband to help me through. Good for you for facing down so much. I hope things will eventually turn around for you and your daughter.


I’m sorry you’re feeling this way, too. Thank you for the encouragement. It seems that it’s all part of the crazy making. For me, she held out on her silent treatment just long enough for me to completely give up. And now, here she is with her command from on high that “this to is now ready to pass”. sigh.


You asked what she wants ~ she wants HIM. These people only feel their own worth every time they garner support from others. They have power mixed up with love and self esteem. It is never enough. When a parent abuser (or ANY Abuser because spouses do this too) gets the children of their target on their side, it is the ultimate horror. I hope that he will stop talking to her; the path to her hurting you has to be blocked. Your mothers reason (or insert the word ‘motive’ and you might get a different view of the whole thing) is suspect in my view.
Hugs, Darlene

p.s. the proof is always in the motive. Is the motive for love, or is the motive for control over others. This is a huge concept but you will find the answers in this concept if you are unsure of ‘who’ is the abuser. This is why I stuck up for Krissy as a mother ~ because I know enough of her story to know HER motive when it comes to her kids.


Thank you Darlene. I am suspect of my mother’s motives too. It just didn’t connect for me that she would be trying to get him “on her side”. Makes sense now that you’ve pointed it out.

A little piece of my heart wants to hope that her contact indicates she misses me and wants me back in her life because she loves me and that hurts. But I know better now and I’ve learned to trust that part of me that remembers how many times she has dismissed me before. She chose “no discussion” = no change = no relationship. I am not willing to be complicit in the murder of myself.

Krissy did make herself clear after a few posts. I appreciate her courage in that. The system SUCKS!


I totally understand that hope. I had it too and sometimes it still shows itself. But “no discussion” (as you have said) communicates NO willingness as well. And the realization of ‘unwillingness’ is a huge truth leak which kind of squishes that hope. The way that I see it is that my mother set the stage and I walked off it. If she wants me in her life I will be the first one to know. As long as I am a puppet on her stage, she has no reason to change.
Hugs, Darlene


Hobie/Darlene, that is a great insight. Thinking about times past when this happened in my life. I want to tell you Hobie how she can stir the pot. When she is able to speak to you, she will drop hints that your husband said something to her. There may be a grain of truth in it, but she will twist it and make it sound like something completely different then what he said, something that supports her. She will tell you reluctantly, like she really doesn’t want to but she loves you so much she must.

It will be a barb, something that might cause you to mistrust him, something that she knows will touch off a nerve in you. Creating turmoil in your relationship with your husband while she continues to reach out to him, to act as a confidant, as someone who really “knows” you will, in her eyes, gain her a secure spot at his side.

If she can meddle enough to make you lose it with your husband, like get him to say “your Mother said you would act like this….”…..I have actually watched this scenario play out in my own life lol. It is so creepy, but very real.


Hi Kaycee

I have already advised other family members I will not go to her house, in fact I will not stay under the same roof as her. Yes I do consider myself lucky that we live so far apart. In some ways I am blessed!!!!


Hobie, I have seen this play out in my life in the past. They will try to get your husband on their side, ostenibly to “fix” you and make you shut up. My first husband threw me under the bus with my entire family. He would stay up at night playing Scrabble with my abusive sister and they would act as confidants commiserating about “how difficult Eira is.” He never stuck up for me. One of my brothers even told him that he felt sorry for him for marrying me. My mother was close to my first husband, too. When he left, she lamented about missing him every Christmas, even the first Christmas I brought my future husband to (abusive sister wouldn’t make eye contact or greet him). This husband had left me for another woman as I have mentioned several times. I always wondered why my first husband was so willing to throw me under the bus. The truth–is that it was a smokescreen. My family belong to an unusual ethno-religious sect and sex outside of marriage, gambling, drinking, dancing, etc. are expressly forbidden. However, several male members of my family are adulterers and this has been swept under the rug. My first husband would make frequent disappearances and siphon money from our bank account. He was gambling, going to bars and sex-oriented places of business, and possibly even seeing prostitutes. He had to make me crazy (and my family was so willing to buy into it) so that when I faced financial crises or lamented about his periods of going AWOL they could chalk it up to me being a hysterical or histronic person. The truth about him came out, a dozen years later–through my son, who he tried taking gambling and to sex-oriented establishments with him, and my son told my parents what is father was doing. Of course, I had told them 15 years ago that this was going on and no one “heard” me.

On a similar level, my mother did the same thing with a long-term boyfriend I had before I met first husband. I knew it when the boyfriend told me that “your Mom and I have a plan to “fix” you.

My new husband is a giant-sized, deep voiced, strong and silent type of guy who doesn’t deal in any B.S. whatsoever. They know that there is no getting anywhere with him, so they don’t even try. There isn’t going to be any discussions with him about me behind my back.

And yes, my parents and abusive family tried to rally my son against me. They made a plan on several occasions to invite him – and only him – to family holidays, landmark birthdays, etc. He has responded by asking them “Why haven’t you asked my parents?” They have even sent their kids to invite him the day before the big event which would have left me and my hubby having the family dinner alone. Not nice.

And yes, Kaycee, my mom and sisters LOVE to drop hints about things my friends supposedly say about me. They’ve been playing this game since high school.

I hope your husband has a strong backbone, Hobie! He’s gonna need it.


Hobie, I wanted to ask why your husband talks to your mother in the first place, knowing that it hurts you. But didn’t know how to broach it and thought for a moment that maybe I’m wrong, maybe your husband is just humoring her. But, I do agree with others that asking your husband not to have conversations with her might help you immensely. Caller ID!
I sent my mother an message saying that I will not be subjecting myself to her one on one, even with a 3rd party and suggested she get therapy for herself. So, that’s done. Phew.


My husband has been speaking to my mother because I won’t. Until this very last conversation, the very few phone calls between them were messages from her to me and back. The last phone call threw me a little and I asked him what he thought of it. He said it was weird.

I’ve collected all the comments from this thread about my mom’s likely reasons for contact with him. I plan to show them to him when he gets home and see how he feels about it.

I’m not very worried about him because we’ve been married almost 26 years and he knows that he knows me better than my mother does. He saw my mom’s “no discussion” comment for what it was. He says that “no discussion” IS THE dysfunction. He related to me that she said that she was sorry that things have turned out the way they have, and added that he thought (but didn’t say) “Yeah, but not sorry enough to do anything about it.”

I appreciate all the comments about this situation. It helps to know that I’m not the only one with “spidey sense” about it. 🙂


Eira, that’s horrible! And it reminded me that when I broke up with my first long term BF (not married, no kids) that my mother wanted to invite him to stay with them without me because she liked him (also she wanted him to do some work in their house while he was there, haha there’s always an interested motive for anything she “gives”).

She didn’t inquire into the why of the breakup. I wouldn’t have told her anyway but I had realized I was letting him use me financially and had gotten to the end of my willingness to do so.


Well, this is indeed an interesting post, and I believe any of us here who started our journey to heal later in life had to, at some point, face the truth about not only the damage that was done to us, but also about the damage we did to our own children. Being that my journey to healing started only a couple of years ago, my daughter was fully grown, married and well into her adult life. One of the first things I addressed on my road to healing was to try and articulate to my grown daughter the damage I did to her while she was a child….more importantly I sincerely apologized and genuinely told her how much she did not deserve the negative treatment she got from me when she was a child. I explained to her that she was an amazing gift from God and if a mother could put in an order for the kind of daughter she wanted, I could not have asked for a more perfect daughter than she was and is. Of course my inclination was to blame some of my own behavior on the abuse I lived through as a child, but I tried to refrain from that as much as possible, as my daughter was pretty well aware of that already. I believe my daughter accepts my apology and knows that I try everyday to treat her with the value and respect I never got from my own mother (who I am no contact with). I know, and my daughter knows that she has not 100% forgiven me yet, but I attribute that to the fact that she has not yet entered a phase in her life where she wants to fully heal her emotional stuff from childhood. However, I believe when she does enter that phase in life, whether I’m still alive or long dead….she will know the regret I sincere remorse I felt for ever mistreating her during her childhood. My daughter and I see each other often and talk almost every day…she knows I’m damaged. She knows she is damaged, but we both appreciate living in truth with one and other. She appreciates the fact that I am on a constant journey to find better ways to communicate, to love, and to have a sense of family that is functional. She has given me 2 wonderful grandsons and somewhere inside both of us we hope to model a more loving, forgiving, non-judgmental family unit to these 2 sweet young boys. My daughter knows when and if the time comes she has to call me out on something that’s been eating her from her childhood, I’ll be there to take my responsibility and try and be there in any way she needs me to, even if it’s just to validate and comfort. Then my journey to healing began…


One of the things that bothers me the most about my Mom referring to her her own childhood is, number one, hers was much better better than mine, but completely aside from that, it was a different time.

When I grew up woman were making giant leaps into new roles, many new and exciting opportunities were available. With my sense of self worth being completely obliterated, I felt woefully inadequate to do any of the things my peers were doing.

I was standing in a long line today at a cider mill watching a teenage couple in front of me, obviously on a date, interacting. What I would not give to be able to go back and have just one iota of the confidence this normal, early college age girl had. I remember just feeling horrified in my own body, hyper critical of myself, hyper aware of my imperfections, feeling like a clumsy ox and barely able to function.

Women in my Mother’s day weren’t expected to do what women in my day are. Just keeping up appearances wasn’t enough to even put me in the race among my peer group. I never got to run, I was disqualified before the starting bell even rang. I got left in the dust.

My Mother’s generation lived in a completely different world then the one I had to live in, for my generation the bar was higher, expectations were greater and while this meant freedom to most young women of my day, for me, putting myself out there the way I felt about myself was something I was simply incapable of doing. This fact alone nearly led to my demise.


Hi Kaycee can certainly relate. Today I had a thought go through my mind. The tragedy in my life wasn’t that my family said such horrible things about me. The tragedy was that I BELIEVED them.


Kaycee #246, I can relate to your post. I’ve yet to feel comfortable in my skin, am very self-conscious and have a vicious inner critic. I wanted to do so much with my life but was too afraid, the discomfort with myself was intense and I felt I would fail. It was like having my legs broken, my “inner” legs; I’ve carried the feelings of inadequacy and apartness from others and “something is very wrong with me” for almost all my life. The first few years of school I was top of the class, that should tell me I could have succeeded later in life, but by my teenage years I had no belief in myself.

I am working hard on accepting the life I’ve lived (mostly in addiction). I’ve had a degree for 5 years and it stayed in the cardboard sleeve it was mailed in (didn’t go to convocation, picked it up from the post office) because it took me over 20 years to get it and I told myself “I haven’t done anything with it so why bother”…but a few weeks ago I framed it and put it up in my hall. I finished it no matter how long it took and I’m the only one in my immediate family with a degree.

My mother gave the message that a woman’s appearance was the most important thing, and eventually having a family. She took it as a personal affront when I started gaining weight as a child, as if by no longer being the cute little thin girl I was disappointing her, doing something against her and reflecting badly on her. She was angry at me for staying in the living room as a kid while Dad and his buddy had an adult movie on tv. Angry at me when I was excited and asked about driving lessons at 16 and she said, “You’re not touching my car”. She’d get angry if you asked her to turn off a lamp cause it was giving you a headache, as it was her lamp and she needed it.

My mother never took any responsibility for anything. A few years ago we were talking about my sister’s teeth; I mentioned that we never went to the dentist and she said, “Oh, that was your father”. One of the last conversations I had with my mother she started telling me, again, how doctors told her something was wrong with my sister when she was a teenager. She made it sound like she was such a poor mother who had a messed up daughter. I didn’t have the nerve to tell her that she and Dad were the problem. She would have cried anyway had I told her that. Poor poor mother who just about destroyed her kids and is completely oblivious to it.


Hi Darlene- I’d like to get the chance to talk with you alone sometime. I’m 44. I have three boys and a husband. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I started seeing a big problem between my mother and I. As long as things were her way, all was right with the world. At family gatherings, (small family because we were always split apart due to my mother always fighting with everyone) if something happened, one time as I was dropping my kids off to spend time with nanny while my husband and I bowled, my son was crying and he was in his carrier. (She wanted or so she said, to spend time with them). She just looked at me while he was crying and said, “you’re not going to leave me with this, are you?”. This was after other things too but this one in particular stood out in my mind. I remember getting my boys and saying, come one boys, let’s go home. I was like screw this!!!! She’s supposed to WANT to be with them!!! Soon after that, she joined my bowling league and told me that I could afford to pay a sitter. About a month later, my oldest was riding his bike and decided to go past their house (they lived two streets over from us). He noticed a for sale sign in the yard and decided to walk up to the door. She answered and he asked why they’re selling their home. Her answer to him was, “because you never come and see us”. My son came home bawling.
She’d always make comments to me (after we built our home, “it must be nice…it must be nice…..must be nice to have a pool…”. Instead of saying, “I’m happy you’re taken care of sweetheart, or you deserve this”. When I was young it was my brother who was pushed to go to college. She’d just tell me, “it’s a good thing you’re pretty!”.
One day she called to tell me that “you’d better call your sister, she has breast cancer”. I have only one sister from her but a half from my dad. So, I was thinking she meant my sister with her but she said “no, Susan. Susan has cancer. Now, with that being said, I barely knew this sister. She’s 8 years older and she was in and out of my home because she was living with her mom….sort of. Her mom was a drunk so she was in and out of foster care. I guess her mom would tell Susan to tell my mom that she doesn’t have to listen to her. Sudan was about 10-12 at the time. That’s angered my mother (rightfully so, but I don’t think it’s the child’s fault). She needed out of that environment but my mother wouldn’t deal with it. My mom made my dad choose. My dad was very passive. My mom called the shots…..her way or the highway. I don’t think I ever saw Susan much after that. I was a little shocked to hear my mom ask me to call, so I did. Susan and I got together for coffee. Then it was lunch and so forth. We started a relationship. I loved that. I was at the hospital for her. Well, one off the wall day (don’t remember this), I mentioned to my mother that Susan and I and all the kids (she had 6! Loved that for my kids! Cousins!!! Yay!!!) we’re getting together for something. I even invited her. She was PISSED!!! beyond belied! “She said I did it behind her back because if I hadn’t i would have told her. I explained that she is the one who told me to call her and now that we have this relationship what was I supposed to do? She told me to choose. We’ll, another time she was over, she saw my nieces name on one of our plastic Olive Garden cups, she go up from the dinner table in the middle of eating, asked my step father to grab her purse, and barged out….without saying one single word. My boys were small at the time… 10, 5&3. Most of the time I’d run after her, begging to find out what went wrong. This was one of this times….she just kept saying, “I have to go, I have to go”. Then one day something inside snapped and I couldn’t roll out the red carpet anymore. Later, we supposedly came to an agreement,-that I warned her before they were to be in the same room together, and not tell her when we were to be getting together. Now I was screwed because if I didn’t tell her, then I’m hiding it!!! She stopped by to take my oldest to the movies (she’d always make me give her money btw- but that never stopped her from gambling!!!) and my sister had unexpectedly stopped by with her kids. So when my mom came to the door, I put my hand out simply to warn her- to LET HER BE WARNED that my sister and the kids her here. I started to say, “just so you know”, and that was it!!!!! She left without taking my son and to this DAY is telling everyone that I REFUSED let her into my home!!! I was about 32 at the time. I used to be healthy and confident. People would describe me as bib I love you!!!. Now I’m back to that child feeling like I’m never good enough. My boys are 20, 15&12. We just moved across the country for my husbands job – thought I’d feel better. I’m so angry at her for taking so many years….so many years that my kids, HER GRANDCHILDREN we right there for her to love on. And now we’re gone. I don’t even think she cares. My girlfriend told me it’d be good to get away. It helps me to see what you’ve written and what others have written. She even told me that my father “would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that I had a relationship with Susan). I don’t believe it.. I’d catch him in the garage crying after one of their big fights. I’d tell him to leave her but he said he couldn’t do that to anymore of his children. He stuck around so that we could have a stable childhood. My dad was old. 50 when I was born. He was tired. My mom wore him out. But I have very bad days mad some ok days. I think of suicide a lot but think of my children and husband and how hat would make them feel. I cry every morning. I feel like I have no joy left. I just want the pain to go away. I just want it to end. I could go on and on….thank you for this sight.


Dear all, This is my first ever post to EFB although I have been reading it for ages, it helps me A LOT. I have found this discussion to be absolutely gripping, my heart really goes out to you all, and even though my story is a bit different I can just imagine the relationships you describe.
My mother was a strange person, a high achiever. I was never allowed to have negative emotions, or to need her as a mother, because she had been abused as a child and she couldn’t cope with it. I had to be her little mother and to make sure she had piles of Christmas presents etc etc. When I was ill as a child, there would be a big scene about how onerous it would be to have me at home. I have had four nervous breakdowns and I now have a god therapist. The first therapist said I should not confront my mother as it might open a can of worms that I could not cope with. In fact there were a couple of insincere apologies where she says she knows she was a terrible mother and then went right back to making sure I am her “good sweet maid”. Whenever I have a problem I can always hear her voice telling me I should not show any negative emotion in public, but just put up with it??? No viable solution was ever offered to me, it was like she enjoyed seeing me in secret psychic struggle, it was really nasty. I have had to learn to be incredibly articulate to walk this tightrope.
My relationship with her died six months before she did, I just couldn’t cope any more. Her cancer revealed who she was in full, as in, it was fully evident her unpleasant attitude to her daughters, and I took to deliberately triggering her worst nasty emails more or less just to confirm the full horror of what I needed to stay away from.

I always went back to visit, I live 10,000 miles away, just to see my Dad. He always lived in a parallel world, and the islands of lucidity are becoming smaller and smaller as he reaches a very elderly old age indeed. It was always hard trying to balance not being foul of mother and having a nice time with him. My husband and I would drink to drown out my mother to the point where I never realised how uncomfortable that sofa bed was until recently.

I am writing because my current problem is my younger sister who is abusive in a whole new way towards me. It is like there is a projector screen between me and her, and she hurls abuse at it. She does not see me behind it. For ages I would cry and weep, I have PTSD with dissociative states caused by my mother and this would trigger me big time. Just now, I feel nothing at all, as her accusations are so bizarre and nasty that they cannot be taken seriously. For example, I am supposed to have said her husband has some personality disorder, but in fact I simply do not know him well enough to say any such thing. In fact, it was her that said that. And most recently, the fact my Dad is increasingly out of it and bed bound is because during my last visit to him, he just wanted to ignore me and get away from me. The reality was that I arrived to find him in a very bad state, living on his own, and it quickly became apparent that he needed 24/7 care. I was also trying to doing my normal job via the internet, so my health (mental and physical) quickly deteriorated. To cut a long story short, after one full meltdown and one near meltdown, he now has live in carers, and I stayed on to make sure they were kind and competent, in fact that are wonderful. During that three months, this sister did not visit as I was toxic and that I was making all about me and I only cared about myself!!!
This abuse has been going on and off for years. My Dad asked me to make a superhuman effort to reach out to her and to be the loving older sister that sets an example of family love and solidarity, which I have done repeatedly. I have a photo of her in her shirt I bought for her birthday during my last visit…but a week later we were back to the strange accusations and the abuse.
It just amazes me. I am reading in this thread about Krissy and the ANDs. I think her posts were inspiring. I am sure my sister’s pain is valid, AND I have put her emails to go straight through to the junk box. There seems no way through.

The whole family experience was awful to the point that I was unable to have children. I would conceive and then my body would get a huge raise in temperature and reject it. I struggle with friendships with women, especially older ones with children. It is simply too fraught, the possibilities for abuse too endless, for me to cope with the risk involved, as I get triggered.

Thank goodness for my other sister and my husband. I have worked very hard to have this supportive and loving tiny inner circle and it is a great joy to me.


Connie, Darlene has some very good posts on forgiveness.


That is exactly right! It is the damage that is caused to us that we are working on by exposing it ‘to ourselves’. We believed it because that is how we survived. And now that survival method doesn’t work and we have to dump those lies.
Hugs, Darlene
Love your comment ~ I am going to box quote it here:

Eira said ~ “The tragedy in my life wasn’t that my family said such horrible things about me. The tragedy was that I BELIEVED them.”


If your mother is sorry for the way things turned out, why isn’t she telling you? I find that a truth leak as well. :/
I am really glad that your husband is on your side and not hoodwinked by your mother!
Your mothers ‘no discussion’ comment is such an entitlement slam against you ~ those kind of comments are designed to remind us of our “place” which is beneath them. ugg.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi All,
I am just catching up on the comments and KAYCEE ~ your comment to Hobie about the lengths a controller (mother in this case) will go to to get control over others including wrecking a marriage, is right on the money!
Eira, same for yours!
I have heard this story in so many ways, so many times it as though they all follow a script!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Connie
I talk to my eldest daughter a lot about the past and her childhood. I blame the dysfunction that I grew up in and I also acknowledge that in trying to do better I sometimes did worse, but I do not excuse my part in the hurt that was caused to her or to her belief system. I am willing to have a real relationship with everyone in my life that is based on equal value and mutual respect. I am willing to work very hard on it especially with my kids! I think that my daughter has forgiven both Jim and I, but that the damage is not completely healed yet. But we talk about the ways that the damage manifested in her life, we are totally understanding. Today I use ‘my power’ to EMPOWER and that makes all the difference.
Thank you for sharing your lovely share about healing your relationship with your daughter.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Doren
I wonder if our mothers were sisters? 🙂
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Tami
Welcome to EFB ~ and thank you for sharing. You are not alone and I think that is such an important part of healing. Knowing that there are others (millions actually) who had been treated this way by their own mothers (and or family) makes it less personal I think.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Elizabeth
Welcome to emerging from broken! (the commenting part!)
You have certainly found the right place to share and heal!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene –
I’m not sure the word “sorry” means that she feels bad about what she’s done. I think it just means that she expected me to fall in line and she’s unhappy that I didn’t.

I really appreciate the thing the my husband noticed right away. She DIDN’T invite me to come join them because they’d like to see me. She went straight to telling him that I SHOULD be there “out of respect for my dad”. I couldn’t help thinking that my dad is not likely to be affected by my respect or lack of it because he’s no longer living. Where is respect for me? I am still living!

I’ve been told clearly that that my mother, brother, and sister don’t want to know my problems. If I’m going to communicate with them I have to only tell them “good news”. I disclosed being molested to my mom when the memories first resurfaced and she called when I was unable to stop crying. She INSISTED that I tell her what was wrong and I blurted it out in a moment of weakness. SHE decided to tell my siblings who haven’t spoken to me since.

Apparently, they have decided that either they don’t believe me, or don’t think it should be any big deal. So I don’t know how to relate to them KNOWING that they know what I’ve disclosed, but needing to avoid talking about it. Meanwhile, the most significant thing in my life is trying to recover from both the molestation AND my family’s pattern of dismissing and disregarding me.

So, of course, no discussion means I can’t talk. My experiences, thoughts and feelings are not only irrelevant, but not permitted!

So – they don’t want ME – very obviously. And my mom remarked to my husband that I have to get over my bitterness!

I’m not bitter – I’m just not willing to be treated that way anymore. If they were willing to treat me like an actual human being, I’d have nothing to be bitter about. Staying away from their abuse is actually the best way I know to avoid bitterness.



I am new here – as a 52 year old woman who grew in an abusive family; I am so torn. In making a decision to finally heal from my past and the devastating affect it continued to have on all areas of my life, my immediate family no longer want a relationship with me – the usual stuff from my parents – I am a deluded; mad, ungrateful liar blah blah blah.

The crushing blow for me has been my 3 adult children’s reaction – they are really angry with me and have distanced themselves from me in support of their grandparents. I realise how difficult it must be for them; they love their nan and grandad and see me as breaking their hearts. Truth is I didn’t break contact with my parents; they withdrew in response to me challenging them about their abusive behaviour towards me and the affect it has had on my life.

I am in emotional turmoil – I am realising that having no contact with my parents has given me the space to really examine the past and own my truth about it. In doing so, I can also see the the hurt and damage I have done to my own children. I am now understanding they have had a very different relationship with my parents than the one I was forced to endure – they only know the pain they have suffered due to my dysfunction – no doubt my parents will do their best to make sure my children are reminded of my flaws and defects (I can’t imagine they will give up the habit of a lifetime.)

I really want to reach out to my children – I so want to try and make things right with them. I am fully ready to listen to them and work through anything that needs working on to make things better between us. The only thing I cannot do; even for them is take back truths I finally found the courage to tell about my parents.

Please help me – I am truly trying to create an opportunity for my children and myself to heal – I cannot deny the abuse I suffered as a child so they will be in my life – If I remain in denial and wounded, I will never be healthy enough to be who my children deserve me to be.


HI Kim,

I related to what you shared so much. I’m finding that the healing process requires me to separate from my family of origin. They’d see it as me withdrawing from them. I see it as they’ve made it really clear they don’t really want me around.

I’m 58 and my kids seem to be siding with my parents as well. Of course they didn’t experience their grandparents the way that I experienced them as my parents, and I’m sure my kids have issues with me.

In just the past day or two, I’ve been thinking that I may need to get further along in my own healing before I can do a good job of repairing my relationships with my adult children. I really do want to listen to them and work through whatever they need to work on, but I’m still too raw in some areas and not as ready as I’d like to be to take full responsibility for my own actions toward my kids.

I believe I’m making progress in the right direction in caring for myself, and I think that there will be a point where I can honestly work though whatever issues my kids have with me without feeling as defensive as I seem to be right now.

I also believe the time has to be right for my kids too. We can encourage them to come to us, but we can’t force them into it. It’s really hard to be patient with it, but it may be the only thing we can do.


“Neither of my parents understood that you have kids, then set up the family so that it’s safe and comfortable for each member. You put effort into it, just as you plant and grow a garden, so that everyone grows healthfully and reaps security from the family over their lifetimes. They thought that kids are possessions, like houses or cars, that belong to you no matter what you do or say to them. My mother actually said “you don’t have to do anything to raise kids–they just grow up on their own.” I remember thinking, yes, that’s true if the kids have no choice.”

Sounds like my idiot mom. My parents felt they didn’t “need to raise us as children need to do it all for themselves.” Wow, told people/ex-therapist isn’t that putting a child into an adult role? I get told by people that they didn’t have to teach/raise us and said wtf would you have children?!? Never got an answer from fools! My mom felt she didn’t need to be there for her kids same with my dad and my ex-therapist said because they didn’t have parents there for them and said wow, say it casual! Is that suppose to make it all better or something?!

“It is true for all of us that intentions don’t mean a thing. We will not be judged by them, our children can’t and shouldn’t read our minds. Example: You can have the best intentions if you believe in spanking and you don’t know any better, but you are still hitting your child. There will be real consequences the child has to face within themselves and your intentions won’t change that. Good intentions won’t make it better. If you’ve wronged someone, you don’t excuse yourself because you had good intentions, you acknowledge and accept responsibility for your wrong and make amends by treating the person with dignity, as a seperate human being. Rather than as an extension of yourself, which is what we do when we look at our children and all we can see is what we’ve done (good or bad).”

Agreed. Something my parents will never do is accept responsibility as they think they did a fantastic job. My ex-therapist and others made excuses cuz she is a mom and felt that my mom “had no options” but I do! I said so does she you can’t excuse them and cut me off saying she isn’t excusing anything. Did that therapist and other people believe I am stupid? I am sorry, I am highly intuitive when it comes to finding out shit very quickly the in betweens, read it in between the lines type of thing. Not many people give me credit for that anyway. People refuse to call that bad parenting, well it is let’s be honest about it!

I agree with number 92. Things go back to several generations or many generations and people need to really look deep down how shit got started – sometimes you may not know how but might be able to pinpoint how or who started this drama. When did this shit started in my FOO? Not sure, I just know that my parents have so much fucking baggage from their parents not even funny. It could have started long ago before them, but who knows. Finish this later.


I didn’t realize until recently how broken I am. It feels odd to hear the Mother’s here because I wonder what it is that causes such a divide when the parents want reconciliation. It seems there are numerous Moms here who do, but the woman in the letter this thread is based on says the same.

I wonder if maybe it isn’t wishful thinking that parent’s and the children they broke can ever reconcile. I wonder why my own Mother sees my pain as a hammer over her head.

I feel violated by Mother thinking she knows me, she never knew me, she could not see, despite red flags going up everywhere, that something was wrong. What she did acknowledge, she blamed on me. To have a relationship with her now, she would have to stop telling me what she thinks is best for me. I find that offensive and insulting. She never knew me and still doesn’t.

I would require that my Mother refrain from criticizing me, especially me as a Mother because, OMG, seriously? I don’t think that one needs explaining.

I would require that unless it is something overwhelmingly positive, she not talk about me, what I did, what I was like or what her opinions are about my childhood. She was never an expert on me and did not earn the right to this by being a loving Mother. She has lost all rights to those “Do you remember the time when….” stories.

I would require she never speak for me or try to give me advice in front of other people, I find it humiliating, I am a grown woman, not a child.

I would require that she not talk about me to anybody, even the person closest to her in the world, my sister.

I would require that she become hyper aware of her body language. I know this seems like a lot to ask. But I have lived my entire life hyper aware and I think she can handle the stress of watching herself for those deep, heavy sighs, sinking frowns and whole body expressions that she swears are just figments of my imagination. They are real and she needs to stop, the first step would be watching herself.

I would require that she stop freaking out and stop trying to scare me every time I make a decision.

I would require that she allow me to make mistakes like every other normal human being out there without her making a grave production out of it, without any over the top extreme reactions and without sharing them with everyone and anyone. Every Mother should understand that you don’t share confidential information about your child with anyone without their permission.

I would like her to refrain from telling me what she thinks I should do to improve my life, what she thinks I am good at and all of that trash. I would like her to take a step back and maybe get to know me.

I would like for her to get to know me with out censuring me. I am different the rest of my family and the world would be a pretty crappy place if we were all the same. I would like her to see my differences with interest rather than disdain and consider the possibility that these things do not make me less than anyone else in my family.

It isn’t like I want to spend hours on end beating her over the head for being a rotten Mother. I just want her to step up to the plate and be a good one now.

I think about how surreal it was realizing that what I was taught to believe about myself my whole life was a lie. I wonder if that is not the hurdle that cannot be surmounted, given how long it took me to get here, how much work I had to do to get here, is it possible for my Mother to ever let go of that lie?

To really understand what I am saying, she would have to revisit my abuse and she where she scapegoated me and labeled me, that is the only way for her to see the truth and I guess that is where most Mom’s jump ship, or call it “abusive” to their own sense of self. At least my Mom does, she just won’t go there. It’s not that I want her to go there and wallow in guilt and pain, I just want her to see the real child that was there and not a goat with a mantel of shame.

And just saying that, I know it is just not a possibility. And it just sucks that she has the capability to do it and she just wont. I’m thinking I’m going to start calling her by her first name, I can hardly choke out the word “Mom” to her anymore.


Sorry about the poor proof reading and repeating “just” a dozen times, I was on a rant lol!


I’ve been working hard for the past two and a half years to heal after finding out my family of origin was very sick with lots of emotional manipulators, enablers and shameful secrets. I always thought it was all my fault and blamed myself. My children suffered, too, as a result.

I have talked with my oldest who is extremely angry with me and can’t forgive me for what he went thru. I met with him for the first time in three years and ended walking out when I started crying. He kept cutting me off and asking “Why do you talk like that?” He told me he hates his sister and my family of origin and blames me for keeping him away from his father among other issues.

I have to let him go and focus on myself. I have examined my heart and there is nothing more I can do right now. He is sending angry posts out on Facebook about what happened to him as a child, but I will not react by trying to force him to see my side. Instead, I’m stepping back and letting the situation unfold in God’s time and God’s way.


Raven wrote: “Often a true friendship just hasn’t been established between a parent and their child. A true friendship includes the qualities of respect, equality, trust, honesty, listening and open communication, among many others, but sometimes the standard disciplinary approaches have inhibited these and other characteristics from maturing in the relationship.” – See more at:” – Comment #227.

I read this yesterday or day before (?) but had to scroll a long way to find it! I think it’s such a relevant quote, and it’s precisely because it doesn’t reflect the position of most adults in society, especially in education and parenting, that these problems are passed down intergenerationally.

Adults who listen to their kids are regarded as odd. In my custody case, I was recommended a kids expert who was known for being child-centred. However, he had the belief that kids are manupulative and I shouldn’t be “jumping” to their tune. My kid was supposedly lying to me about being terrified of Dad, and didn’t suffer from being shouted at (apparently, I am affected because I am an “abused wife” but kids don’t find it frightening, because kids “get yelled at all the time”).

He said my child should be ashamed of “compromising” me. He didn’t seem to get that children are more vulnerable and less powerful than adults. He kept on saying that parent are “in charge” and if I tell my child to go to his Dad’s, and stop giving in to him, then he just has to do it, whatever he feels. Gee, if that’s what professionals who are well known for their “child focus” believe, there’s very little hope for the kids!

Ditto for school teachers. The number of times they look at you weirdly when you try to advocate for the child, like the child is twisting you around his/her little finger. Yet, I found that they are very tolerant and respectful towards fellow adults when adults have problems with academic work, as in a postgraduate course I once did, where most of the students were current or ex teachers. If anything, they should have been given less leniency because they, of all people, should need less help when it comes to assignments! But they would ask the silliest of questions and get patient answers when they would have sharply reprimanded a high school kid with the same question! Double standards!


Kaycee, hopefully, that’s what this blogpost if for – ranting!

Btw, reconciling with my adult child is not something I am aiming for. Others may wish it for me, but I don’t have sacred cow relationships. Don’t care if someone is a mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, dad, etc., if it’s not respectful, don’t need it. Asking for reconciliation is something of a red flag to me – if a person is respectful, and validating of others and self, there’s little need to insist on reconciliation. Enough of fake reconciliations.


Hi Hobie

I am sad to hear what you are going through and I can really empathise. It takes great courage to speak the truth; especially when those around you have no interest in the truth. I suspect your family is similar to mine; appearances and reputation are viewed as more important than personal growth and emotional well-being.

I really feel for my children; they are being heavily influenced by their granddad. No-one knows more than me how manipulative he can be and how the subtle guilt trips keep you feeling beholding to him.

What I am comforted by at the moment is the many ways I am realising I have raised my children differently (even though I have made plenty of mistakes) – I have made it known that the door is always open to them (their grandparents shut the door on me) – I am not seeking to dominate or control them by using psychological weapons (my parent’s way of keeping me in line all my life.) I am very sad not to have my children in my life, but I respect their right to deal with things in their own way and in their own time – I am proud to have raised children who feel confident enough to seek their own truth.

You may notice that I don’t mention my mum – the dynamics in my family of origin were the opposite to Darlenes’ and perhaps many others here. My mum is totally dominated by my father; she does what she is told and will not cross him in any way – she has never provided any protection and in the main I have parented her. When I took my pain to my parents, my father physically attacked me. For the first time in my life, my mother stepped in; but only to say ‘she’s not worth you getting into trouble’ That devastated me more than if I had been hit. I said nothing about this to my children; but my father summoned them so they could see how much I had upset them (my mum was suitably dramatic and sympathy provoking.) My mum has never shown me an ounce of compassion, so I hope I will be forgiven for my inability to muster up any for her, just because she is now old.

My god; I can’t believe I am writing this stuff down – thank you for the opportunity


Krissy, I imagine my Mother feels the same way and that is why she won’t go there. I’m still trying to reconcile myself that hole in me where my Mother was supposed to be.

I consider my relationship with my son sacred, the most sacred relationship I have. He is a preteen so disrespect is something I am working with him on right now. If I fail to teach him this life lesson well, I will not be giving him his walking shoes when he is older. I will always care, I will always need him to be a part of my life and want to be a part of his. If there is a rift, I will always strive for reconciliation.

I know our relationship will change as he grows into an adult, but my future would be much bleaker if I were to lose my connection to my son. I strive everyday to make good choices, even when it seems hard or impossible so that my son and I can have what pretty much everyone I know has (and manages to have without much ado), a loving, normal adult relationship with their parents.


Kaycee, I agree with you when it comes to my younger children because they are children, I couldn’t ask for more precious relationships. But not with an adult child who puts me in danger. I cannot afford to damage my younger children too – I had to stand up for them when she hurt them, both physically and emotionally. The price is too high. Equal respect, equal relationships. Reconciliation is not the aim for me, but others will differ.

Life is too short to be traumatized, even if you can understand why people may act that way. As these posts often point out, understanding the reason is not how healing comes, one still has to validate one’s own right to be protected. If I don’t protect myself from danger, my younger kids will suffer, why do they deserve it. But that’s just my take.


I’m sorry for anyone who finds themselves in this position, mother’s and children, mostly the children though. It is like going through torture in captivity for nothing, never gaining your freedom. Many, many children who were traumatized at such young ages when their brains were still developing never do make it out. Many continue the cycle of abuse, that is just a known fact. It seems to that most of us who do find a healing path don’t make that big healing leap until later in life, at least from the ages I see of those here.

My goal and responsibility as a woman who has chosen to become a mother is to provide a stable, loving environment where my child is nurtured and protected so he can safely be his authentic self and grow into a whole, unbroken person. My child is a precious gift and a blessing. I am grateful and even a bit proud of myself for finding the strength to raise him outside of the cycle of abuse and not passing on that horrible legacy to him.

I hope your daughter finds the healing she needs.


Kaycee, your long list of needs that would be required of your mother and family to be part of your life…wow. I could cut and paste the whole thing to my mother and it would ring true, except that I would need to add a plural to sister(s). I thought for years and years if I just talked to my mom about these things–and I have, ad nauseum…if I could get her to see it, and explain it in various ways, and when denied my truth, to add various examples and scenarios, all I would be met with is: 1) You have a vivid imagination (gaslighting) 2) All you remember is the bad times, do you remember any of the good times? 3) Recited Biblical texts of forgiving 70×7 and 4) that I lied, made it up 5) You were a bad child/bad daughter and you deserved it and 6)If it were not for you, this family could be H-A-P-P-Y and 7) that I need mental help. When I explain I have received “mental help” I am accused of lying to my therapist and that I can “paint a picture.” My therapist says I need to quit explaining myself, and trying to illustrate my truth. They cannot afford to see my truth, because if they saw it, they could not reconcile themselves as abusers. She says the only way I can change the situation is to change myself. I am only about halfway there. I will never, ever get the kind of love from them that I would have needed to become a fully functional human being. I can only get that from myself, and to some degree, from my husband and children. I imagine that they love me, but to me, this love is worthless unless it also includes basic human respect and equality. In other words, it’s not something I want. I am not an object to be pitied. “They” say that I have “made terrible choices.” I disagree. I don’t even know when they quote that what terrible choices I have made. I have earned a degree, stayed gainfully employed for almost two decades with the same company, have been promoted twice, owned my own home as a single parent, raised one good person to become an adult, remarried a handsome, successful and well-educated man, was so responsible with my finances I have a top credit rating in the top 5% of the population. I did not drink, run around with men, use drugs, or involve my child with unsavory characters. I was a Boy Scout mom, a church-going mom, an advocate for my child with more than one form of learning disabilities, a friend who helps out friends in need, a volunteer, a city commisssioner, a board member of a non-profit, a community volunteer. Some of these things I could not do when I was ill, but I did the best I could. Yet they look at me with a lens that says “failure.” The only way I would have been successful in their eyes if I was a stay-at-home mom with a husband who made 6 figures, lived in a large house, preferably with a sauna and some kind of swimming pool, went to their particular branch of Christianity with near 100% attendance, had the requisite 4-6 children, and was accepted in their peer group of what I call the 10-percenters in the church we were raised in. But I am fooling myself. Even if I met all that criteria, they probably would have rejected me even more because I would have registered as more of a threat and they would have sought to ostracize me from their group. They will go to their graves feeling okay about what they did. I have finally gotten to the point I can talk about this and even think about this without crying.


Hi Eira. you know I have been listening to a group from an extended part of my family talk about the family scapegoat for years. I was shocked to come across an article written about her in a paper, she was at a table with a Nobel laureate. The article talked about her Doctorate degree and all the things she was doing. I was shocked. I don’t know her, but the picture her family painted of her to me was not the same person in the article! You are right, it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t change a thing. I like to think they have a harder time with themselves reconciling their views to your accomplishments though!

I have been thinking a lot about your comments about resources. I wonder how much our position with our Mother’s really are determined by where she is at in her life during the time when we are young. I wonder if a Mother who has a better view of herself can’t help but to love the children who she has during this period of her life more. I wonder how much a mother who has low self worth is doomed to deem her daughter as unworthy during this time in her life. I wonder if mother’s who experience some personal growth over the time they are having children create family scapegoats in this way.


Hi Kim M
Welcome to Emerging from broken! It is devastating when a parent says something like that.
There are MANY situations where the father is the biggest problem and in many of them the mother gets the blame anyway. I think sometimes the kids go on the side of who they most fear. And many women will not stand up to the husband and the way that although I understand the woman’s fear, I also validate the childs right to be very angry at her for not stepping in. It’s weird how the father roles are perceived differently too. Often if the mother was the biggest abuser, children will usually not be as angry with the father for not stepping in. The mother almost always is the one who is the most blamed in all situations. You see your situation more clearly which is a bonus!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Kaycee, I appreciated your rant.

Your question about scapegoating kids and its relation to how the mother feels about herself—I think this lands in the realm of the child then being an extension of herself as opposed to a distinct individual self (whether she “likes” the kid or not). If a mother is willing to scapegoat a child, as being representative of a bad period in her life, then the “personal growth” she has undergone cannot be much, probably just a facade and not anything that has been truly dug up and overturned. Children don’t exist to be mirrors. A parent who cannot see the child independently of her own adult reality has something very off about her.


That is exactly what I did for so many years, sided with my mother in everything because it was the safest thing to do.

It’s funny, she’s commanding me to come have a one on one talk with her. I refuse and will not be commanded. When she first started in with this, I cried and cried because I thought that I would have to (programming) and also thought by her urgency that someone has died or is dying. But, I stuck by my guns and refused. She can email me. I will not subject myself to her in person. She has laughed at me when I cried. And I tend to glaze over when she is around, I don’t hear everything she says, only what I want to hear. I have too much of a positive bias with her (halo affect?), giving more concessions than she deserves. Not hearing the subtle insults and abusive domination until I think about it afterwards. And everything is sealed with this false ending, a hug and an I love you that means nothing. She has not faltered in her authoritarian tone with me. I think she somehow knows that I cannot see her in full, all my programming kicks in and I become docile and compliant in her presence. I realize being aware of this may change it, but she doesn’t get to tell me what to do anymore.

For me, my current core family is the priority. No other relationships are more important than my husband and 2 kids. I know they’ve got my back (to the best of their ability) and I’ve got theirs. That’s the thing that was missing for us; we had no sanctuary. I hope my kids can feel like their home is sanctuary. I am learning to make it my sanctuary, too. I can see why as a child becomes an adult, especially an abusive one, that has to change. My mother has said to me, “If you weren’t my daughter, I wouldn’t even be friends with you.” I’ve never been important to her, no further than I am a possession to be commanded. It hurts a bit to hear that your daughter isn’t an important relationship to you, but I can see why you need to protect yourself. In my mother’s case, it’s because nothing will ever be more important than her pride, her standing with others, her dominion and superiority over others. I


Jamie, your description of how you get with your mom is very similar to me (and not just with my mom unfortunately; I’ve been like that with so many others, ending things on a hug or seeming “okayness” only to fall apart later, realizing everything that had actually happened). And it’s why I also wouldn’t do an in person with her, just email, nor would I go to family counselling as everyone was badgering me about (my condition to go to counselling was that they first recognize/acknowledge the past, then I’d feel safe enough in a room with them talking through things to create a viable relationship).


I’ve been reading a piece on the history of ownership of children. It’s very interesting and I will post the link later. I think a lot of what I’m reading the mothers say is related to this idea that children belong to them. Whereas what the children are saying is that they don’t belong to anyone and just want to be accepted for who they really are. Not their family’s definition of who they are. When a person is both an adult child trying to heal from the pain of having been owned and also trying to claim ownership over their children there is such contradiction. I’m having difficulty reading some of the posts that seem to want it both ways. I very much enjoyed reading that article about parents being their kids friends.


KAYCEE! THAT’S THE FIRST TIME I’VE SEEN EXACTLY MY LIFE IN WRITING FROM SOMEONE ELSE. Sorry about the shouting, but you put it in words so exactly well. It’s taking everything I can do not to send it to her. I won’t because, well, you know, it will be used against me, and even if not that, it would be no use. (The post where you said all she would have to do if she wanted to reconcile.) THANK YOU!!!!! (and I’m 52, and I didn’t find out until I was 50 and finally put my foot down about getting some respect…)


Alice, I loved that article too and despite all of those memes out there that start with “I am your parent not your friend….” I believe it is important to be both. I would love to read the article on ownership. I agree some of what is here is a hard read for me too.

Going back to what Alaina is saying about the scapegoat being an extension of the Mother (in my case I believe I came during a dark period in my Mother’s life and she projected much of what she considered her bad attributes onto me) and what you are saying about ownership seems right on.

One of the most offensive things my Mother has done, repeatedly, as she has grown and changed as a person is she has insisted that I need to learn from her and follow suit.

Again, this, I believe, has been because she sees me as a mirror of her dark side, as a part of her, the part that needs to be fixed. Her excitement during these sessions when she is enlightening me to what I need to do to be a better person like her is palatable and thick.

I can only describe it as absolutely bizarre. They have always left me feeling depersonalized and dizzy, like an out of body experience.

Lisa Armstrong, I know exactly what you mean, if I were to say these things to my own mother I would be completely ignored by her, but she would take it to my family and use it to further cement her position that I am a troubled person with a mental imbalance. It is good to know I am not the only one who feels this way way Lisa, thanks!!!


Darlene, I remember once when I first met my biological father and started visiting him. I was eleven the first time I met him, my Mother got angry when I got excited about something to do with him. She felt like she was the one who kept me and raised me when he walked away without looking back (of course he had his own side to the story).

My Father turned out to be a dud, not outwardly abusive, more like nobody was home inside of him.

I find it strange that I don’t feel much of anything when I think about him which isn’t often. Naturally, I think there is something wrong with me because of this.

Sometimes I think it is because I was born into my Grandparent’s home and my Grandfather filled that role for me, he was my Mother’s Father. He was not perfect, he had a temper, but I never questioned his love for me and he physically got between my stepfather and I on more then one occasion.

He was also there during one of my Mother’s “tough love” sessions where she called the family together for a meeting she tricked me into going to to try to straighten me out. It took about five minutes for him to tell my Mother “enough” and he got me out of there.

He could be hurtful at times, but I still felt loved and protected by him, I felt he held me high regard, as high as everyone else.

I do wonder though why even when I try, I cannot drudge up much of anything when I try to conjure up the appropriate emotions towards my father and doing this usually leads me to being angry with my Mother who sees herself as so much better then me when she didn’t even have enough sense not to kick out two babies with such a shallow person.


Only about a year after I’d had a breakdown, my mom declared (in my presence) that she had put an end to the cycle of dysfunction years ago. I guess denial is thick. She didn’t outright repeat some of the kinds of abuse she endured growing up, this is true, but that doesn’t mean she ended the cycle. As a teen, my mom would say to me to tell her if she ever got to be like her mom, which was pretty much code word for “do not ever tell me I am anything like my mother because I am nothing like her.” It makes me very wary when mothers are talking about how much better moms they are than their moms. Not that they aren’t… and of course I suppose it matters if mothers are saying it in front of or to their children or not. But think about it—you’re a child of a woman you know had a rough childhood and was badly abused by her mom and continues to have this relationship (in part, she says, so that her kids can have a grandma), you see your mom’s pain, you see her self-worth wrecked and you see how she holds onto this idea of her being different, that she’s doing things different with her own kids, you see how this is what she’s holding onto for her own self-esteem and meaning in life. She’s a victim, a martyr, she’s trying her best (in the scope of her world and perspective). It’s hard, though, and she gets angry and overtly controls her husband, your father. Her emotions manipulate others, though she would not want to look at this fact. Everything has to fall in line with her perspective of things, though that, too, she could not admit. She had been angry and controlling with me when I was young, but as a teen, all she had to do was make suggestions and I’d follow whatever. She was always pretty nice to me then, doing stuff for me, taking me places, buying me things. Life was fine but I was emotionally comatose and not a real person at all. Then I had a breakdown and wanted out but it was all but impossible. She, in her own words, never would have thought that my breakdown had anything to do with her, regardless of many warning signs over the years. She didn’t want to know because it didn’t fit the image she needed to hold herself up… even though she did know, so many hints along the way, not full consciousness but if she wasn’t so hung up on herself and her need to see herself in a certain way in contrast to her mother, she may have connected the dots. Instead, any awareness to do with herself in relation to me remained always about her and whatever she was going through in terms of her development from her dysfunctional past. From all this I grew up with the idea that my mother was a wonderful mother. A past therapist asked me where I got that idea and I had to stop and think—from my mom herself and from nobody contesting her. I also grew up fully believing that I was her possession and that there was nothing wrong with that, that that’s how it is supposed to be because I was her daughter—of course I belonged to her. But no I did not belong to her. I was a spirit housed in a body she and my dad brought to life and they were supposed to help me to figure myself out, figure the world out, grow strong and capable to be my own person, to live out in the world on my own, and instead they raised me like a pet to stay with them always as a mirror to reflect their wonderfulness at the cost of my true self.


The article I just posted shows just how far (or not far) we’ve come from viewing children as chattel. And it surprises me too when women who have been very happy to see the “woman as property of her husband” pretty much revoked still seem to consider their kids as “theirs” in terms of what they may or may not do to them and what they should expect from them in turn. Kids have the unique disadvantage that they can’t agree to the foundation of the relationship with their parents before they are brought into it (no matter this belief some people spout that people “choose their families” before birth.”) And I think it only right that they get the opportunity to reconsider those foundations later in life and decide whether they wish to continue it or offer a new basis. If this is not to the parent’s liking (how many reject their kids when they ask for respect, mutuality or acknowledgement of how their parents’ mistakes affected them?) I don’t believe the parents should then start acting out and attacking their kids, spreading untruths about them and ramping up the controlling behavior.


Hi Alice,
Thanks for sharing! I just started to read it. As far as how far we’ve come… well, I think that if a school teacher were to bring in these ideas of equal value to his/her students, it might cause an uproar. I remember teachers who taught ideas of equality amongst kids themselves or socially speaking from people of one country to the next—why are we entitled to this that and the other just because we were born in this country, not that country, but while we were taught that abuse was bad (I remember the “bad touching” talk in kindergarten) and hitting is wrong, etc., no one dares teach the idea that children have equal value to their parents, no doubt because of the idea that it threatens authority. I hope one day people will look on this era as being still medieval. Years back a couple of my cousins asked me what our uncle had been like (he died when they were 2 and 1 years old) and it was one of the first times I realized just how important he was to me when without thinking about it, I answered he was the kind of person who never made you feel like you were “just a kid.” The look of recognition on their face made me realize how important that was but also, thinking about it now, how prevalent that idea of being “just a kid.” I mean that’s a completely normal sensation. No kid on the planet has not felt that—you’re just a kid. Ultimately adults determine the vast majority of your world, for better or worse, whether that’s through permissiveness or neglect, or control and abuse, or through listening and paying attention and responding to your child as a being unto his or herself. How many parents truly know their kids and see them thoroughly for who they are? How many children truly trust their parents? How much of society is actually designed for the best interest of children despite the cliché of “children are the future”? Darlene’s website is a rarity and there’s a reason why she gets hate mail. I’m all for “understanding” but only if change is actually happening and not half-measures. There’s nothing in between equality and inequality. Sometimes equal, when it suits the person—that doesn’t count for shit in my opinion. That’s not equality. What matters most is when it’s the hardest. Who are you under pressure, what choices will you make? Use your children to alleviate your own problems or take responsibility for yourself and your decision to have kids and the damage you’ve done. I don’t care about blame and shame. What I care about is change, being honest, trying your best and looking upon others’ realities as separate and as important as any and every one else’s, to respect each other. What I care about is actual real progress, not the bullshit where in “understanding where they’re coming from,” I forfeit pieces of myself, my future, my health, my life, etc. What “understanding” them means to me is that I won’t be vengeful, hateful, blaming, abusive. (Of course we have different definitions of that—many parents think just talking about our childhood is akin to being hateful and abusive toward them, and that is most definitely not what I’m talking about.)


Hi Alaina! Great post. I don’t remember being taught anything around equality between students. I do remember the “stranger danger” videos. When I was in elementary school it was clear that there was a hierarchy with my teachers at the top. At the time there was still use of the belt. It was later phased out and I remember parents saying they were in favor of getting rid of it but of course they still retained their right to punish their kids any way they saw fit and that included hitting.
When I was in high school the teachers were way more egalitarian. I was also treated way better at school because I did well and was favored by a couple of teachers. I think yes there would be an uproar if schools taught kids they had equality with adults. And I think the uproar would be due to the way that parents currently treat their kids, how they currently view them. A litmus test would be to ask any parent if they would find It acceptable that another adult treat their child the same way was they do. Yes It is medieval. And yes, my family would be up in arms if they knew I was talking freely about my childhood and my relationship with them. I still fear punishment for doing so. Isn’t that something?


Hmm… thinking about it, in terms of equality, no, the teachers didn’t teach equality amongst the actual students in the class but they taught the “idea” of equality, more in the abstract, more about different cultures, respecting people who are different, but I’m not sure how much those ideas were really applied to the classroom, so much to social study projects maybe. I did generally have good teachers, though, both in elementary and high school, some really good ones actually, not that it fixed what was wrong but it’s nice to remember those teachers who cared about their job and their students (also, like you, I did well and was probably favoured by a few)… But yes, I agree that the uproar would be because of how parents currently treat and view their kids. That’s a gigantic “truth leak,” though, isn’t it? That society knows. They don’t want kids to know because what will that mean, what are the consequences of empowering kids with that truth?

I think I’ve reached a point where I don’t care so much about my mother’s reaction to me speaking up, if she knew the things I was saying, if it was her alone, but when I walked away from my family, that was more than twenty people I left behind. Some of them didn’t even know anything about what was happening and I really didn’t mean to leave them behind; I just didn’t know how to do the situation. My angst/fears about them being up in arms has everything to do with it being all of them and their “opinions” (and everyone has an opinion of course) vs. me. It’s not that I don’t know the truth. It’s just that it’s overwhelming. What we’re doing here is most definitely swimming against the current. It’s not an easy battle. I don’t like that I still feel fear and that in that way they still have control over me. It’s something that makes me still feel that I’m not really free, despite having broken free of the relationships.


Alaina, for me there’s a certain amount of self-preservation in being not very outspoken about this stuff. I greatly admire Darlene for what she’s doing but my own fear is still present. I don’t know what would happen if children learned that they were equal to their parents. Perhaps a number would refuse to take any further abuse at their hands. Would any of them abuse their parents in their turn? I guess it depends on how well or badly they’d been treated.
I think that’s partly why my mother denied any wrongdoing, made it “my choice” to perceive that I had been mistreated. You know, if it’s purely subjective on my part and she hasn’t done anything but her best, well my current relationship with her is explained by my lack of a sense of duty or gratitude for all she did for me. Equality between parents and children could mean an end to convenient explanations like this. I also wonder what would be the wider social implications of parent/child equality? Probably something uncongenial to social inequality too.


I think all social inequalities have their start in families. If you were taught the true meaning that all humans are born equal, if everyone was taught that and we all lived by the example of that, not just the word but the actions of being treated equal and being shown that everyone else in your life was equal, also shown through action, well, we’d have a much different planet. Right now we’re so far down the gutter, it’s hard to imagine. Things are so screwed that it’s totally normal that people think it’s good to abuse as preparation to deal with an abusive world. A loving world is so beyond people’s conception that it’s considered not just naive to wish for such a thing but actually wrong, too, like an abusive world is better for people. Only most people can’t even identify these things as “abuse” or “love.”

Yes, I feel it’s self-preservation as well, not being outspoken. I suppose for me it’s linked to my desire to be a writer, so it bugs me on that level. It’d be different if that wasn’t a part of me. No one has to speak up and it’s not evidence of being controlled by them if it’s not actually something that matters to you. It bothers me because it stops me from doing something that is natural to me, that is both a need and a want.


Kaycee, I DO think the state of mind/circumstances of the mother when pregnant with their children often, but not always influence, the level of favor/disfavor and scapegoating in our families. I understand your mom was not in a good relationship when you were born and then your stepfather rejected you. I have seen this sometimes in families where the oldest child is from another relationship and the stepfather feels threatened by having the child of another man in his household. Sometimes it seems to incite sexual abuse of this daughter, even if not disfavored, because the stepfather can justify it not being incest because its not a blood relation. In my family, my mother was very unhappy during two of her pregnancies. Her first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage and my sister was born a year later, and both my mother and father were happy in their marriage and overjoyed and my sister was a beautiful baby. When she was pregnant with me, troubles had already arisen. My father was having an affair with an office co-worker by then (a situation which did not see the light of day for 31 years!) and he had already started with the whole B.S. with my mother with “I love you but I am not in love with you anymore” crap that he had done off and on probably up to present days. My mom, far away from her own mother and family, confided her problems with my dad to her mother-in-law and a family friend, and her mother-in-law responded by blaming my mom and giving her the silent treatment which lasted for a year or more. Her family friend responded by gossiping about the situation to other folks in their congregation, which further incited my father’s mother that her son might be harmed (or the reputation of the family tarished more likely). So my mom was 12 hours away from her kinfolk and felt isolated. She had few friends and her in-laws discouraged her from making friends outside their religiosu community, whereas her own family had more liberal interactions with neighbors and other secular people. I was born resembling my father’s mother which upset her (but ironically turned out looking like my mother instead). I further frustrated her by being a runty, low-weight scrawney baby, and her mother-in-law constantly critised her for failing to put weight on me, a situation that ironically repeated itself when I myself had a naturally “skinny” baby and child–my mother often criticised me for my son’s delicate constitution and low weight. Ha ha! Years later, however, the situation repeated itself but with different results. My mother found out that my dad was in love with his secretary and asked her to move out to her parents. I am not sure, but I think my mom sort of trapped him into staying by manipulating a pregnancy in order to scare off the other woman and “keeping her man.” It worked. Sort of. He reconciled with her because the public opinion of a man who would put away a pregnany wife was more than he could go through with, so we all moved back in with him. He became a cranky, disatisfied husband and father for years. My youngest brother was born, and my mother, who favored boys to begin with, considered him the savvior of her marriage. If we had been Spanish she probably would have named him Jesus, but instead she named him after a Biblical character who slew an enemy (the other woman). She spoiled and coddled this child, probably to his ruination. However, my father sadly was not really willing to bond with this baby, and I don’t recall him ever holding him on his lap or playing games with him like he did for us older children. My brother has always felt rejected not by mom, but by my father, who never spared the rod in raising this child but certainly didn’t interact with him in very loving ways. My mom tried to make up for his lack of paternal nurturing by providing a lot of extra love. I have two other siblings who I can say were never really favored or unfavored, although this neutral sibling has become the “new” golden child likely due to her willingness to be the most perfect flying monkey that ever existed and because she (really her husband) have achieved the most financial success as well as having the most successful marriage and family (she has a very dedicated spouse who is a very good family man) and they have become very important and respected in their church environment which makes my mother feel like at least one of her kids turned out okay.


One very important lesson I learned from my mother, was how NOT to parent…maybe I’ve gone a bit overboard doing my damnedest to not be like her, but my kids are safe, protected, and loving. We may not have much, but we really do have each other–and that’s a lot more than I had growing up.

This woman sounds very much like my mom, the whole ‘poor me, nobody likes me’ when she doesn’t get her way…her treatment of my sister and I left much to be desired; but we both are more there for our parents, than the brothers who we were taught are superior(“boys are superior, girls inferior”–mom’s mantra).

I’m so glad you have this blog to help all of us; for a change, I really can relate to someone(s). Thanks.


Kaycee, I really liked your “requirements” list. My immediate thought was if I went to my family with a list like that they would tell me that I was “asking too much”. And it’s funny, but what did they ask of me? I think it might be a good double exercise.

Alaina, I think that you’re already doing well by speaking up on this blog! You’re such a good writer that I have no problem imagining you will be able to.
I guess most important to me is to change my behavior and thought-patterns to have a better life.

“A loving world is so beyond people’s conception that it’s considered not just naive to wish for such a thing but actually wrong, too, like an abusive world is better for people.” I’ve also run into ideas like that. The “Oh but people NEED to be constantly striving otherwise they’d all be layabouts and THEN where would we be?”

And a terrified “What about discipline??” There’s a lot of fear that if we didn’t have the forced hierarchies we currently do that something more awful would take its place. That we’d become some kind of barbaric “might is right” society (and the irony that we already have that is totally missed because it’s on a very specific level that it continues to happen).


I am in the position of being alienated from my family due to my disclosure of abuse to me by parents as a child and also i was until recently estranged from my own daughter. So i am involved in this forum which has been the most beneficial to my healing but also are involved in a forum for estranged parents from the perspective of me and my own adult child. I followed DR Joshua Coleman’s advice (he is associated although not active in this estrangment forum) to start the healing process with my child and am grateful that she is willing for us to work on repairing our relationship & most grateful for Dr Colemans advice. I’d like to say as the parent that i take the blame first for the breakdown of our relationship & although she has not at times treated me at all well i still say it was I that let her down first, there was also an external factor of great hurt to my child which did also impact on her treatment of me & significantly there was my mother’s covert undermining & scapegoating of me to my child unknown to me for many years which was a huge negative effect on the relationship between myself and my child. my mother made me the reason for all that was bad that went bad in my child’s life so my child had dangerous anger towards me. When I disclosed historical abuse my child did abondon me onsided with family because yes she is influenced by their group coordinated efforts of denial & blaming of me but it still comes down to that I let her down badly so she had lost faith in me & it has damaged her & until I was prepared to really listen and actually understand how I had hurt her not until that point could we start to heal our relationship – it is not a quick process though. This abuse cycle that i tried so hard to not pass did still pass on due to my own damages that manifested not in how i treated my child but in how i treated myself which in turn still hurt/damaged my child. I guess it is like a type of neglect not a material neglect but an emotional neglect a neglect of stable foundation that though not my fault I had this lacking in foundation still caused damage to my child. So I did so much better than my parents did but not good enough. the mistakes i made are not cancelled out by the good the good things do not lessen the hurt from the bad just as too for my own parents, but they are lessened by the willingness to acknoowleade mistakes and validate harm done & although i will never get that from my parents at least my willingness to be honest and accept that i harmed my child is giving her & I another chance. I think there are probably a lot of parents like me that are victims of childhood abuse that vowed to not ever abuse their own children yet their own damages still had negative effect on their children . I have come into conflict somewhat on the estrangement forum there are many parents unable to accept responsibility for how they have damaged their chidren even if done in ingnorance it is still damage done still soemthing they surely should feel sorry for yet can’t bear to admit it. I find the estrangement forum very negative on the most part and tends to just provide eachother with validation that it is their children that are abusive not them yet this sort of thing is not giving them any chance of healing their relationship with their estranged children. There are also some situations where parents are estranged from their children due to parental alienation by the other parent or significant other. I feel that this often comes down to hurt the child suffered due to marriage breakdown for which both parents should be sorry for rather than one blaming the other Sometimes abuse happens from outside of the family & of course the child still has the hurt and it is towards the parent they may feel the anger – I don’t think in every instance a child treats a parent bad and abondons them because of the parent actual actions of the parent I think low perceived self value due to childhood abuse has lead to a generation of parents that are too defensive and unable to hear their children’s pain behind their anger & accusations. I believe on the other side of blame is love and the only way to access the love is to be honest & stand up for wrongs done so that forgiveness can occur. I wish my own parents knew this. They don’t want my forgiveness, their image is more important than loving me they have lost me but I am closer now to what a family is than I have ever been.


Maria, what forum are you talking about for estranged parents? I’m so glad to find one that you say is helping. I will try anything, and more than once… Can you let us know? Thanks… Catherine


Maria, oh Dear… reading the rest of your post, you wrote: “I find the estrangement forum very negative on the most part and tends to just provide eachother with validation that it is their children that are abusive not them yet this sort of thing is not giving them any chance of healing their relationship with their estranged children.”

That sounds just like an estrangement forum I was on and all they did was put down their “terrible kids” and they were so hateful towards their children and never took one bit of responsibility for their part in it, that I had to leave. I can’t remember the name of the forum, but it sounds exactly like the one I was on for a VERY short time. What name is it, so I can avoid it?

I had hoped to find somewhere that I could gain insight into how our estranged children are feeling and how we can help heal ourselves and heal our relationship with our children. My own adult child has been poisoned by my family, unbeknownst to me for many years, just like you. It was devastating to find this out, and I’ve been looking for a way to heal all these wounds inside of me and inside of him, although I’ve yet to find the key or the cure.

Any insight you and others post here will hopefully be of a great benefit to others. Believe me, I know your story all too well. Thanks for sharing it, and I am looking forward to more. There has to be a way to heal these wounds that have lasted for so long.

Dear God please show us The Way.


Catherine Todd, I’d say this one (EFB) pretty well captures what estranged kids are feeling. What led to their estrangement. What may lead them back to a relationship with their families. What will not lead them back to a relationship. My gut feeling about some of these forums for parents is that estranged parents go there asking “What can I do to have the old relationship with my child back again?” when it is exactly that relationship which caused their estrangement in the first place. See my comment above on the adult child’s right to reevaluate a relationship that by its very nature they could not initially agree to be brought into. Before I went NC my mother complained to me that we didn’t enjoy (or rather she didn’t enjoy) the type of mother/daughter relationship she saw some of her friends having. I had to explain why that relationship between us couldn’t exist because the basis for it didn’t exist.


I have often wondered if there is actually healing possible for parents and children when there was so much pain/neglect/misunderstanding/devaluing? I have yet to see it in real life, although I have seen measures and levels of compromise, new boundaries and acceptance of apologies. I was told by a couple once when I was in my 20s before I married, that we have one short window of time with our children that makes or breaks our future relationship with them. I took that to heart! However, I have wondered about that question for many years. I know my parents burned any hopes of building a bridge for us, even though they apologized. I never felt liked or valued as a person and all of the dysfunction and abuse/neglect/rejection made it impossible to bridge the gap of distrust and those horrific memories and triggers. I have taken the view…and I may not be entirely correct….that there are certain lines that are crossed one too many times and the desire to try anymore ends. I personally just dont care anymore. It was wasted time trying for too long! I personally went from desiring a close and warm relationship to being willing to have a formal, pleasant, and disconnected emotionally , but polite one. Then I realized it still couldnt be that way…even with new boundaries or the apologies etc. I wasnt valued by them in the way I deserved and wanted and needed to be. They still wanted me in the “role” that they had stuck me in my entire life. I would never trust myself or them again to try to reconcile. It was too much and we should have gone NC when I moved out when I was 19 yrs old.


There was always the possibility of healing with my mother. I loved her. All I wanted was for her to want to know me and to acknowledge her stuff. The she paid for my ex to take my children. Now there is no possibility. Don’t feel bad for me. They chose to come back to me. Can you hear the triumph in my writing?


Finally free – I have been feeling very much the same way that you’ve described. I formal detached relationship with my family would be something I’d know was just a cover for a lie. I don’t want to cooperate in that kind of lie. It feels like I’m accepting their judgment of me as having no real value. If I’m not honestly valued, at best I’m wasting my time and energy. But like someone else said, I feel like I would be complicit in my own murder. That’s way too wrong.


Lisa Armstrong – she paid for your ex to take your children? That’s awful. Mine only threatened to testify against me.

That your children chose to come back to you is awesome!


Yes. She did all the negotiating. He was just a puppet. Not only took my children, but sucker punched me. I had no idea before the sheriff showed up to take them due to an order of protection filled with lies and exaggerations. Knocked me off my feet for 2 years but I’m back now. Enrolled in graduate school and ready to work again next fall.


Finally Free, I feel that if my parents had responded favorably when I was trying so hard to get them to listen to me and understand exactly how the way they had treated me had affected me then we may have had an opportunity then to renew the foundations but that didn’t happen. Rather the opposite (denial and accusation that I was to blame for the way the relationship was) was the case and as far as I know that position hasn’t changed because no one from the family has reached out to tell me it has. I’m NC but they know where I live. I’ve already had people say “But you should be the one to reach out Alice” and given I’ve already been down that road and nothing changed I don’t feel like trying again. I’ve given up on them.


I’m pretty much the same as everyone else re: what it would take for reconciliation. They’ve had nine and a half years since I first addressed things. They had two and a half years when I cut off the first time. When I reconnected, I tried (very briefly) the acquaintanceship, emotional detachment thing before knowing that I needed acknowledgement. I went through a long process with my mom, trying to get her to recognize the evolution (or rather demise) of my life through our relationship. I tried to walk her through empathy, etc. For me the fact that it didn’t break her down when she had the whole story of how I could’ve died as a result of her treatment (actions and inactions) and the knowledge that she would lose me as a daughter if she wasn’t able to face this stuff, pretty much sealed it for me—it told me how important I am to her. Very similar with my dad, that he took my mom’s side. He wrote me a nasty email, which I responded to quite diplomatically, and then I didn’t hear from him till 6 months later when I “accidentally” was sent a mass email which he sent out about a family vacation they were planning (for pretty much the whole extended family) for a year away. He was in the middle of losing his daughter but it didn’t register because to him (to both my parents) it was about me coming around to fix things. My brother agreed with my parents version. They chose to scapegoat me and that made it clear—when push came to shove, well they’d throw me away to save face, to keep allegiance, etc. What I would require at this point is their full renunciation of the dysfunctional system. They’d have to be completely on page with what Darlene talks about. HOWEVER, the fact that my story, my pain, and their losing me did not spur change comes with that deep knowledge that I wasn’t worth it to them. If their dysfunctional world cracks and they actually seek healing, it won’t have been because of me. What I’m saying is that I don’t foresee any basis for a real, close relationship. If they took responsibility, apologized for real (about everything, including now how they chose to scapegoat me, rather than fess up), I think what that would open up would be perhaps something cordial but rather limited. They’d just be people to me that I could wish well, I suppose. At this point they wouldn’t be the most important people in my life by a long shot. It’s about what they were willing to put me through and see me experience when I was not the one at fault, when I was giving them every opportunity to fix things. They are not my family. What a true apology and recognition would give me, however, is access to my nephew (provided that my brother also came around to understand and embrace healthy, egalitarian relationships), who I feel deserves to have an aunt and to whom I would love to have the opportunity to be an aunt.

Thanks for your support!
The idea of layabouts if it weren’t for abuse is horrendous and such a HUGE lie! It’s the abuse that’s made me a procrastinator. It’s the abuse that stole my life, wasted my time. It’s the abuse that teaches learned helplessness, etc. Being driven doesn’t have to come from the need to prove yourself, where you inevitably go back and forth pushing yourself, then doubting yourself and beating yourself up, back to pushing yourself again. It can, instead, come from inspiration, from wanting to better yourself for its own sake. Who are the people who teach you how to be the greatest you can be? Not the people who tear you down. No, it’s the people who see you and believe in you and who, themselves, are striving for… I hate to use this word but… perfection… but not perfection as a “have to” but as a goal you know you won’t reach if but for maybe a split second, to be happy with wherever you land in your reach for the goal. And aside from that, the value of working hard is entirely transferable to others without beating it into people, or provoking fear or shame… But then I think you might have to be a happy, healed human being, or at least not an irritable jerk who disrespects his/her children. You can’t inspire another person to behave in a certain way through pure enthusiasm if you’ve acted in ways to demean or disrespect that person. You can shame them or scare them into it, manipulate them, but you can’t inspire them. On the other hand, if a person has been amazing to you, believed in you and is constantly themselves striving to do their best, to improve, etc., you tend to want to do the same. You tend to want to impress and make them proud but not in a way that proves your worth or not, in that if you don’t succeed, it’s not personal, just something that’s part of life… Maybe I have a simplistic view of life but I feel like this is how it should be and I don’t understand why it can’t be like this.


Lisa, Hobie, Alice, Alaina, …you have all expressed exactly what I have felt and feel today about the “end result” of years of continually reaching out and trying. My only regret is that I still feel that I wasted a huge portion of my life! Lisa, I am so happy for you about getting your children back and having a fresh start in life again! Congratulations on graduate school !


Darlene thank you for helping me defend myself to my brainwashed self! It is so easy to get back in the trap of feeling guilty for things I am not responsible for.


Catherine when i say forum that helped me i meant this one here in relation to my own childhood abuse i suffered. the estranged forum i found helpful was more because i noticed what was holding a lot of them back from healing with their adult children and I kept coming into conflict with some of the members I was even kicked off twice can you believe it for asserting my opinion I mean I was reacting to their denial but as things healed with my own child I did feel that I could actually help some of these estranged parents there is a lot of pain there too and I think there was some success but many are not able to be honest and can’t even see their own denial. some are genuinely in a bad situation due to for example abuse to their child from a third party often coupled with parental alienation and also miss out on their grandchildren. but i feel the negatively of the group is more of a hold back & many of them are long time estranged parents if you want to heal with your adult child i would recommend most strongly DR joshua colemans seminars which are available at times complimentary the most helpful to me was this seminar

i don’t think it is at anytime too late to attempt to reconcile with your child and i do think that although it is hard and takes time that it is possible if there is ability to be honest and if you are here looking for answers then that is 1 million more effort than my parents have made for me so I see you are more likely to have success at making amends with your adult child,i think many parents don’t intend to hurt their children but are unable to acknowledge that they have caused damage to their children. we need to honest and forgive ourselves in fact anyway this is not an estrangement forum so I am happy to help off site if needed at


Hi Alaina!

I believe that these attitudes and behaviors on the part of some parents stem from their beliefs about the nature and place of children. And the nature and place of adults. I myself still can’t even think of a child as being anything other than under their parents’ authority and rule. Even if I want the latter way more benevolent.

This has been drummed into me and reinforced from so many sides over the years. And I also believe it is wrong.

What beliefs about children, about yourself (where does the child “go” in a parent?) would it take for a person to stand in the denial some of these parents stand in when faced with their children telling them just how bad it got and where it has led them? To prefer no relationship at all to an equal one?

I believe my own family is also so rooted in this (wrong) belief about children that they will never see me otherwise. I take solace in the idea they never really saw ME (they saw the “not a good daughter” the “disobedient child” in their own minds) and so they can’t possibly have loved or not loved the real person I am.


Finally, I think all the “pieces of the puzzle” for me are complete. I have been chastising myself, asking myself “what could I have done differently,” “why are things the way they are,” “what is wrong with me” for so many years regarding my biological family and my own son. Finally, I think there are some answers. I’m using some of the comments that seem to help things fall into place:

1. Elsie:
September 23rd, 2014 at 8:25 pm
I hear and understand you, having gone through some of the same stuff myself. It is extremely hard to be in a position where the best thing you can do for your children is to not fight. My ex wanted to destroy me (he came pretty close) and vilified and maligned me in front of the girls, interrupted our time together with constant phone calls and invitations (summons, really) and dragged them to court (12 and 15 y.o. girls- the judge told him off) to testify against me. (There is nothing like seeing your own daughters, who loved you so much until just recently, stand up against you in court.) He’s involved in a cult and he and his cult-members had completely indoctrinated them. I saw the hurt and confusion in their eyes at having to do these things but I was up against something so huge and in fighting against it I would have hurt and confused them even more. Was it the right thing to do? I kind of felt like the mother in the Judgement of Solomon.
Oh, and this is not to say that I was a great mother, or anything. Hell, I screwed up about every chance I had at that. My kids were always highly critical of me but we liked and loved each other (most of the time) and had fun.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Krissy. It’s hard to even think about, let alone talk about, your own children rejecting you, especially on a blog where everybody happily shares how bad and awful their parents were (not that I disagree with any of that.) Good for you standing up for your decisions and handling the comments so gracefully!

2. maria binnie
September 29th, 2014 at 8:41 am
I am in the position of being alienated from my family due to my disclosure of abuse to me by parents as a child and also i was until recently estranged from my own daughter. So i am involved in this forum which has been the most beneficial to my healing but also are involved in a forum for estranged parents from the perspective of me and my own adult child. I followed DR Joshua Coleman’s advice (he is associated although not active in this estrangement forum) to start the healing process with my child and am grateful that she is willing for us to work on repairing our relationship & most grateful for Dr Colemans advice. I’d like to say as the parent that i take the blame first for the breakdown of our relationship & although she has not at times treated me at all well i still say it was I that let her down first, there was also an external factor of great hurt to my child which did also impact on her treatment of me & significantly there was my mother’s covert undermining & scapegoating of me to my child unknown to me for many years which was a huge negative effect on the relationship between myself and my child. … (more)

3. Kaycee
September 28th, 2014 at 8:53 am
Hi Eira. you know I have been listening to a group from an extended part of my family talk about the family scapegoat for years. I was shocked to come across an article written about her in a paper, she was at a table with a Nobel laureate. The article talked about her Doctorate degree and all the things she was doing. I was shocked. I don’t know her, but the picture her family painted of her to me was not the same person in the article! You are right, it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t change a thing. I like to think they have a harder time with themselves reconciling their views to your accomplishments though!… (more)

4. FinallyFree
September 29th, 2014 at 2:35 pm
I have often wondered if there is actually healing possible for parents and children when there was so much pain/neglect/misunderstanding/devaluing? I have yet to see it in real life, although I have seen measures and levels of compromise, new boundaries and acceptance of apologies. I was told by a couple once when I was in my 20s before I married, that we have one short window of time with our children that makes or breaks our future relationship with them. … (more)

I never realized that some people DO NOT WANT RECONCILIATION.

This is a real surprise to me! But after reading through all the comments here, and knowing what (at least) one horrendous website for “estranged parents” is like, I can finally see a common thread, even in my own experiences.

I was “No Contact” with my parents and family for 20 to 30 years. Finally, when they were both old and sick, I answered their emails and letters. I felt that if I didn’t then, there would be no chance at reconciliation and on a spiritual level I should do this. Things did change a bit, but people’s characters (and personality disorders) don’t really change. I was hoping all my life that “at least at my mother’s death bed, family reconciliation would occur.” I had a day-dream about this – that we would finally be “one big happy family” after years of estrangement. That was not to be. In fact, things were WORSE after my mother’s death and no reconciliation occured. And I know now that it never will. And it’s not for lack of trying. The irony is that my father, of all people, DID want reconciliation and that has happened to a certain degree, but not with my sisters who went after me even more, apparently at my mother’s behest.

I can now see, after reading through so many comments on this blog, that it’s because SOME PEOPLE DON’T WANT RECONCILIATION. And there is nothing I can do about it.

I also saw Krissy being raked over the coals by some people here, and she is much stronger than I am. I would have left in tears after the first attack, but she stuck with it, stayed calm and explained herself enough times – and ultimately had enough outside support – for the attacks and criticism to not only end, but to end in some cases with an apology! She said that she has had years of experience handling blame and outbursts, and her therapist said something about “being too easy to accept this” but she came through with flying colors here and the tide completely changed. I wasn’t able to do this, and retreated after the first few assaults. Even in my own case, one assault made it clear she DID NOT WANT RECONCILIATION. So no resolution occurred.

I know from reading the estranged parents website that these people do not want reconciliation with their children. They just want to be right. I was mobbed there when I suggested that it’s up to both parties, parents and adult children, to accept responsibility for “their part in it” and both sides to be open to listening and understanding. I also hoped that people would have some compassion and understanding for both sides, but I was roundly chastised for this opinion. Both on this website and on the other one.

Talking about scapegoats (of which I was also one in my biological family) shows me clearly that some people NEED A SCAPEGOAT and that is a huge part of why they DON’T WANT RECONCILIATION.

So the most important thing I can take away from all this is to “leave them in peace.” That is, “leave myself in peace.” With adult children, who DO NOT WANT RECONCILIATION, the only thing you can do is leave them alone. With parents, who are “not sufficiently healed” to have an acceptable relationship with their adult children, I must also “leave them in peace.”

From reading through all the hurt children and hurt mothers (of which I too am both), I have really started to wonder if I should have refrained from having children at all. My own well-educated, high-functioning alcoholic personality disordered family seem to have genes that have been passed down, to one degree or another, to all of us. I had a child with an alcoholic, who didn’t drink at the young age we were, but after we split developed drug and alcohol addiction. Some people here have stated that “we shouldn’t have had children with an alcoholic” but who has a crystal ball to know how things are going to turn out?

Some children are born with disorders, both physical and mental. I was so ill during my pregnancy – and I was a single mother at the time – I was down to 70 pounds and in danger of dying. My son was born very ill with many problems since then. Yet I have been taken to task on this site for talking about his problems from a very young age. Perhaps I should have terminated the pregnancy or had my tubes tied to make sure I never got pregnant, given my own history and family genetics. But at the time I believed in “nurture vs. nature” and had no idea that any illness or predisposition could be “passed down.” I was on birth control bills, but they are not 100% effective.

Yes, I did everything in my power to raise my son differently than I was raised, but it still wasn’t enough. Mea Culpas haven’t helped. Our laws & culture did not protect women and children, my family did not protect women or children, and many people in the “feminist movement” spent our whole lives working to change this. We succeeded in many areas but not in all. Our culture has changed in so many ways for the better in the 64 years I have been alive, but obviously we haven’t changed enough. It will take a concerted effort, with people of many generations, to make the needed changes so that everyone can feel valued, safe and protected, and be able to reach their “full potential.”

How we do this is still a work in progress. But at least I can see from reading through this very long blog that it remains with each one of us to keep trying, at the best level any of us can, and never give up. Unless we really don’t want reconciliation. And then we all have the right to just “walk away” and let them live in peace, in whatever way they choose to be. And since there is nothing we can do about, we must let them go and hope one day they will change their minds. And in the meantime, work on ourselves to remove the negative messages that were and are instilled in us and find a way to find peace despite all that we’ve been through, and the wrongs that may have been done to us.

Because that’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it? How do we finally “grow up” and find peace inside?

How do we transform ourselves, no matter what has occurred?

I always think of the remaining Jews who lived through the Holocaust. How did they ever recover? How did they find peace in the worst possible worlds?

Dear God please show us The Way.

PS: I hope I have not offended anyone by anything I have written in this comment. I have tried to “choose my words carefully” but in previous comments, I have never “chosen sufficiently” for someone to not misinterpret what I am trying to say, or they have disagreed with me. I am not attempting to criticize anyone here, I am not trying to “be sarcastic,” I am “not take responsibility for my own actions,” I am not trying to “blame my own adult child” for anything…

I am just trying to find out how, after 64 years of trying and failing, finding a way to find peace inside and hoping that any peace that I might find will spread like a loving wave over the bitterness, misunderstandings, hatred and enmity I find in my own biological family, that seems to keep being passed down, generation after generation, like the seeds of destruction.

I do not wish to plant more “seeds of war.” I wish to plant “seeds of peace.” And be able to watch them grow.

I can see so clearly that some people do not want reconciliation and there is a “small window of time” to do this in – as described in another comment – and since it hasn’t happened, then I have to let those hopes and dreams go.

So be it. I have tried and failed.

But if things ever do change on “the other side,” I will be ready and waiting with open arms. For my biological family in all it’s extended arms and tentacles. And until then I will continue “no contact” until such time as things have in reality changed. No more “waiting, hoping and praying” for me. All this reading and discussion on both websites have finally set me straight. People are sad and they are mad – and this included me for many years – but there’s nothing I can do about it, and with that in mind, I will close. And wish the best for everyone.

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”
Dear God please show us The Way.


PPS: I forgot to add one more very important post that helped fill in “all the pieces of the puzzle:” The part about how sometimes, some people “choose evil” because they believe that “evil wins.” I had never considered this! And how true for so many people and places in the world… and seeing that people can also change their minds and “choose good.” That gives us hope for us all. We just need to “practice patience” as they say in Latin America. “Patience and Prayer.” And please note, I am again apologizing in advance if anything I have said has offended anyone here in any way.

5. Pam
September 23rd, 2014 at 8:28 pm
Krissy, I constantly mourn for the fact that I didn’t understand what happened to me before I had children. It took such a long time to get to where I am now. A lifetime. I want to give what I understand now to my adult children but it seems that healing is something everyone has to find for themselves. I didn’t actively abuse my children but I know it wasn’t easy for them to grow up inside my unhealed ptsd. That FOG of fear, obligation, and guilt that my abusers used to control me, enveloped everything. I don’t remember ever having a sense of safety in the world, my experiences in life taught me that people who did were naïve. It must have been really hard for my kids to navigate all that fear and anxiety. Even though both of my kids grew up inside my FOG, one child examined who I was and who my husband was and chose to be one kind of person and the other child, to be another kind of person. The active choice to knowingly abuse another is always a choice to employ evil and if chosen repeatedly, it consumes that person. We all have our issues but the world divides upon those who choose to try to do better and those who choose to make themselves feel better by making others hurt. Those who choose the later, fill the world with the tears of those who love them and agonize over ‘why’ but everyone deserves their choice and the only choice we’ve any power over is our own.
I know your daughter’s pain because I’ve lived it. At one point in my life, I chose evil because it seemed like evil always won. That choice nearly destroyed me and then I chose to look up and walk a different path, not because I am anything special. I had just reached the end and there was no place to go if I didn’t change course. I hope and pray the same for your daughter and everyone’s broken child that believes that evil is the only way to win.


Catherine Todd, I would like to ask you what a reconciled relationship would look like? Equality? I have severe doubts (from my own experience) that the seeing “both parts” aspect of this is entirely fair. Thanks for taking the time!


Catherine, the more Krissy wrote, the more horrified I became, because the odd were against her. I cannot imagine where everyone and everything just conspires either intentionally or through the ignorance of others to block the truth of what was happening to her and her family. I wished her the best of luck, and hope she bears no hard feelings toward me.


Oh, boy… OK here goes. And again, no offense is intended to anyone by any of the words / descriptions / terminology I use: if so, please accept my apologies in advance:

1. maria binnie: thank you for your detailed response! How did you get back on that site after being kicked off multiple times? They threatened to kick me off when I said that parents “had some responsibility too” so I left – and very quickly, I might add. No one (of the “leaders” of the group) wanted to listen to anything I had to say, even though as you say some were truly concerned parents. But I found no help there. Only more examples of why estrangement occurs.

Thanks for the link you mentioned, and I am heading there now:

“DR joshua colemans seminars which are available at times complimentary the most helpful to me was this seminar:”

Thanks for the offer to discuss this further off site… you can contact me at CatherineTodd2 at gmail dot com anytime. I am leaving for Central America tomorrow where I work with humanitarian groups and the indigenous Mayan Indian artisans, who among other things, are teaching me so much about “patience and prayer.” As much as I “help” them, I feel that they help me more. They say “patience IS prayer” and this is true, and living within this culture and seeing it put into practice on a daily basis is changing my world. If only our own culture understood half of this, what these “poorest of the poor” are taught and believe from the day they are born. Peace and Pardon are huge in their community, and a real necessity for a small group who has to live together. It’s the complete opposite of what I grew up with, in a military family, in a culture of war. And a father who went through three wars and “brought the war hone.” It’s night and day now and I am eternally grateful to be able to begin to gain this perspective, even so late in life. How to apply it in the culture of America, I don’t know and wouldn’t hazard a guess. But I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to LIVE in a culture where peace is paramount, and these qualities come first. Everyone listens to each other and they cry together, too… they embrace each other and believe that tears “cleanse the heart” and that’s where healing occurs. We were brought up in my own culture “never to cry” and “you are just feeling sorry for yourself” and I believe this leads to serious misunderstandings and eternal enmity. Where I live in Latin America, everyone’s feelings are respected and no child is ever left to “cry themselves to sleep” or cry alone. They don’t sleep alone until they are a number of years old, whereas we put children in a dark scary room from when they are a few months old! No wonder children are mistreated in America… I feel this is “abuse” from the day they are born!

The children in Latin America are so happy and contented; always held and always protected. They are never left alone to be afraid. Completely opposite of my own cultural upbringing! I don’t see this huge disconnect between parents and children as we have in the U.S. It’s some kind of “magic,” that’s for sure. But this is a huge topic also, and I’m not sure how it applies to “reconciliation” between adult children and parents. But I’m sure it’s a factor. Children who are held and loved from an early age have at least a better chance at being happy and contented adults. I did this for my son, but being a struggling single mother trying to get through school in a culture that “didn’t approve” and actively punished single mothers, had little to no financial or other help at the time, made many other things difficult for both my child and me. So being “held and loved” isn’t the only answer, that’s for sure. There’s so many things that must go in to it. But as I said, that’s another (huge) discussion. We’ve made many great strides that the younger generation now take for granted, and I am glad they can… but that doesn’t change the effects that happened to our own children from that era. I hope and pray the newer generations will make more changes to bring about happiness, contentment and peace.

2. Alice: I would not dare to describe what “reconciliation” looks like, other than to say that it would be whatever was required. And that would be up to the adult child for their end, and listening to the realities of the parent’s situation, as described in detail by the example Krissy. People here lashed out at her initially, holding her responsible for every single thing that happened, even those things she had absolutely no control over. After Darlene stepped in things calmed down and both sides were heard. I would imagine that this *might* be what “reconciliation looks like.”

But again, I have no answers nor would I dare to suppose anything, as I have failed in all my own attempts. That’s why I’m on this website, still looking for answers or understanding. I’ve seen so many situations played out in real time right in this discussion, from so many different situations and so many different personalities, it has really “opened my eyes” to what works and what doesn’t. I will try to incorporate this new understanding into my own personal life. For that I am eternally grateful for this website, and for the comments, both positive and negative, and I don’t see these kinds of responses anywhere else in my “personal” life. Only in my biological family life. So it’s been quite a learning experience. And learning leads to comprehension which can correct misunderstandings, which lead understanding and peace. At least that is what I hope will happen.

But since you asked, I think it would be up to the injured party to state what they need for reconciliation (as many people here have). I would also hope that the injured party would be willing to listen to the other side’s story and understand that no one has all the answers, and everyone makes mistakes and sometimes don’t realize the long-term damage and consequences that their actions can occur. My parents were raised with “spare the rod and spoil the child” and they took that to heart! I still haven’t recovered from the effects of domestic violence, and I probably never will. But I did not repeat that pattern, although it’s clear I didn’t do a perfect job at least I was able to break that link in the chain.

Perhaps it takes generations for things to change, one step at a time. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love my child or want reconciliation with him and my biological family. But I won’t put myself in harm’s way trying to achieve that. I will try to wait without blaming myself and find all the love in my heart that might help achieve this in this life or the next. I will never stop loving my child and hoping for the best for him and hope that he begins to make better choices for himself in this life. Choices based on love, instead of anger, bitterness, resentment and fear. I will always be there for him whenever he chooses to return, if that day ever comes, and I will welcome him with open arms. And I hope it does.

However, the “mistakes” that come from truly evil intent, such as the Nazi torturers in Germany or the tortures of the Africans in South Africa before emancipation, cannot be simply “forgiven” or “understood.” But many – no, make that “some” – people caught up in the evil culture of the times have sincerely apologized and those few have achieved “reconciliation.”

I’ll look for the website link and post it separately. It’s an incredible description of what true apology, understanding and reconciliation looks like. I was so saddened and surprised to see how few people’s application for reconciliation were granted, which showed me how rare this ever is. But it doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying, or in my case, waiting respectfully “with patience and prayer” for that day to come.

As I said earlier, Bishop Tutu has a wonderful website about true “reconciliation” and what was used in South Africa after Independence was achieved. I tried to use these principles with my own sister, married to a Methodist pastor, which was roundly refused. I could never understand how a preacher’s wife could refuse “reconciliation” when a church is supposed to be a “healing place” of love, compassion and understanding! But after reading through comments on a couple of websites, I can see that some people need their scapegoats and are loathe to give them up – will NEVER give them up, in fact – because they DON’T WANT RECONCILIATION. And until THEY do, it will never ever happen. Regardless of what we might do, or don’t do. That’s the hardest thing for an abused person to learn: that we didn’t do it, we didn’t cause it, it’s not our fault and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Regardless of what we have been told or how we have been blamed. That’s the lesson I am STILL trying to learn. I don’t know if it will ever really sink in, but after reading through the comments here, I think it’s starting to. It’s about time.

3. Melissa: I’m glad to read your response, and I’m sure Krissy is too. I understood Krissy’s comments right from the beginning, and was horrified to see her (and initially lumped in with me) being blamed, accused, attacked, raked over the coals by a number of people here… but then I realized that there must be a lot of younger people on this site who haven’t had experience with the mental health profession or the legal system when it came to women and children’s rights.

I had so much admiration for Krissy at how she withstood the onslaught of opinion blaming her, and I was so sorry to see her accepting that blame: stating “she should have been able to protect her child.”

That was the one thing I completely disagreed with. Why would she hold herself responsible? Why would she blame herself? She is obviously such a caring and loving person who has suffered greatly and used her experiences to pass into a “world of wisdom.” I admire her so much! But how in the world “should she” have been able to protect her children (child) when the legal system didn’t? No one is omnipotent. That’s like saying “a slave should have been able to protect another slave” when the master is legally holding the whip. All a slave can do is kill the master and be killed themselves. What kind of “protection” is that? I felt so sorry reading her hold herself responsible for what she had absolutely no power over.

I also saw people holding hurt mothers responsible for “having children with an alcoholic,” as if everyone knows IN ADVANCE how things are going to turn out. No one looks in a crystal ball and says “I don’t care what happens to my child and I am going to have this child with this person who is not only going to abuse me but abuse my child too.” NO ONE DOES THIS WILLINGLY. They do it either because they are abusers themselves (and I doubt any real abuser would be on this site) or because they don’t recognize abusers because they were raised by them and are still trying to gain love from these broken, damaged individuals, and don’t realize that the abusers DON’T WANT TO CHANGE. Or don’t know how to change. But either way, they will end up damaged because their own parents weren’t perfect.

How to change things now? I have no idea. I’ve read so much about “listening” and “accepting responsibility,” but this requires COMMUNICATION. And not everyone wants to communicate. Witness those people that refuse to communicate – no wonder no reconciliation or understanding can ever occur. If they won’t say what they are upset about, or that they “want nothing more to do with you and won’t respond” what can anyone do in this case?

In my case, I’ve heard “You know what you did and until you admit to it, I have nothing further to say to you.” When I have found writings that are so confused and have mixed up actual facts, and I have tried to explain what really happened, I have been met with absolute silence. No willingness to discuss anything. But that all changes when money is required. So my case must be different than other people’s here.

In any event, I won’t dare to suggest what it would take for “reconciliation” to occur. All I know is that I want it to and I won’t stop wanting it to, but I won’t keep trying to shove it down anyone’s throat by repeatedly trying, once a year, to show them I love them, to show them I care. I will leave them in peace as that is obviously what they want. I will respect their wishes until when and if they ever decide they want reconciliation, and I will allow them to tell me what it is they want. I won’t keep trying to explain that I couldn’t control what his biological father did, that I was 21 years old at the time and didn’t know how things would turn out, that I thought I could “change the world” and I couldn’t, that I didn’t know that my own family would call my son a “bastard” for many many years because his biological father abandoned us before he was born, that I didn’t know these things would happen to him because I didn’t – and don’t – have a crystal ball, and that I don’t make perfect choices and I can’t all the time. Not for him, not even for myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. I accept the fact that evil does exist in this world and it is in constant conflict with good, and we are responsible for which side we choose.

I have accepted that I won’t get any credit for the things I did do right, as he is still hurting for the things that went wrong. I accept the fact that people have the right to all of their feelings, right or wrong, whether those feelings are based in fact or not. I accept the fact that people need to blame something or someone some or all of the time, and if I am the scapegoat there is nothing I can do about it. I accept that I am ultimately responsible for bringing a child into the world and trying my very best for the rest of their life to show love and acceptance and courage to protect them. I have not accepted the fact that I can still fail at all or some of these things, or I wouldn’t be on sites like this trying to find an answer.

But it’s true: anyone can do their best and try and try and try and STILL FAIL. And we can’t give up. No matter what. We have to keep trying. And with God’s help and direction, or the direction of the Divine, all will be well, all will be well. All manner of things will be well. We must wait and keep praying and trying to see “our part in it” and understand that hurt and healing can take a very long time.

“There is no hurt on earth that Heaven cannot heal.”

This is the day I wait for.


Catherine, you wrote some very interesting things in your comments! I had never fully thought about “people’s characters and personality disorders never really change”. That sounds so obvious, but as a child….or a woman in her 50’s who in some areas still has beliefs/wishes/hopes/dreams stuck from childhood….it actually isn’t obvious at all. I dreamed and wished for a real home and relationships in it that would be filled with mutual love and caring and affection…along with tolerance and acceptance…and I wanted to become whatever I thought my parents wanted me to be so that this would come about. BUT My parents do have characters and personality disorders that have never changed! I also realized that I woke up one day a few years ago and came to the brand new understanding that I would never get those hopes and dreams with my parents . It was like going round and round a mountain over and over, year after year as I grew older and older. I realized suddenly that I didn’t need them anymore. They had never truly been there for me, never truly accepted or liked me, or even tolerated me, and so what was I hanging onto those dreams and hope from my childhood for anyway!?!? My parents couldn’t or wouldn’t change…and I suddenly realized that I didn’t care which it was…I was done going round and round reaching and searching and desperately trying for something that was for me personally, only a type of fantasy family/relationships. I look back now and even half believe that my parents got some kind of “fix” from me always trying for something from them. Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t care because I finally found that peace you mentioned! I also feel relief in a huge way. You made such great points….I appreciated them.


Here’s the link I mentioned in my previous comment. It was life-changing for me, even though I couldn’t put it into practice with my own biological family. It helped me understand that “reconciliation” takes both sides. it’s something we can always keep working towards, in our own family, our own lives, and the lives of every single person in this world. What I love most about this “project” is that RECONCILIATION requires TRUTH. And even more importantly, what makes an apology WORSE:


1. What makes an apology work?

Making Peace Through Apology | Greater Good
Sep 1, 2004 … … sorry,” according to apology expert Aaron Lazare. Some apologies encourage forgiveness and reconciliation; others only make things worse.

2. Truth and Reconciliation | Greater Good
Truth and Reconciliation. By Desmond Tutu | September 1, 2004 | 0 comments. Forgiveness is not just personally rewarding. It’s also a political necessity, says …

Excerpt: Those who forget the past, as many have pointed out, are doomed to repeat it. Just in terms of human psychology, we in South Africa knew that to have blanket amnesty where no disclosure was made would not deal with our past. It is not dealing with the past to say glibly, “Let bygones be bygones,” for then they will never be bygones. How can you forgive if you do not know what or whom to forgive? In our commission hearings, we required full disclosure for us to grant amnesty. Only then, we thought, would the process of requesting and receiving forgiveness be healing and transformative for all involved.

The commission’s record shows that its standards for disclosure and amnesty were high indeed: of the more than 7,000 applications submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it granted amnesty to only 849 of them.

Unearthing the truth was necessary not only for the victims to heal, but for the perpetrators as well. Guilt, even unacknowledged guilt, has a negative effect on the guilty. One day it will come out in some form or another. We must be radical. We must go to the root, remove that which is festering, cleanse and cauterize, and then a new beginning is possible.” … (more)

Most important words for me: “”The commission’s record shows that its standards for disclosure and amnesty were high indeed: of the more than 7,000 applications submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it granted amnesty to only 849 of them. … We must go to the root, remove that which is festering, cleanse and cauterize, and then a new beginning is possible.”

A little more than 10% of the applications for amnesty were granted! A little more than 10% of the requests for “resolution” were granted. A little more than 10% of the people who said they wanted “reconciliation” were sincere. This is so shocking to me! But it shows how difficult this area is and how rarely it is ever achieved. Such a valuable goal, and still so rarely achieved.

How to do this? I have reread Bishop Tutu’s words many times. I am still searching and working to understand.

3. Desmond Tutu (South Africa) – Forgiveness Project
The Forgiveness Project
Mar 29, 2010 – “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC was created by Nelson Mandela’s Government of National Unity in 1995 to help South Africans come to terms with their extremely troubled past. It was established to investigate the violations that took place between 1960 and 1994, to provide support and reparation to victims and their families, and to compile a full and objective record of the effects of apartheid on South African society.” … (more)

I have always said I grew up in a “cult” and have to re-learn everything about myself and learn to judge myself by my OWN actions, not the actions of others towards me. My son grew up in this same military mind-set “cult” and made his own assumptions and developed his own beliefs. If I had realized this at the time, when I was 21 years old, I would have kept him away from them forever. But I had the mistaken hope that he would have a good relationship with them, even though I didn’t. Never in a million years did I understand that he would be exposed to the toxic poison that I was. For some naive belief I thought “surely they wouldn’t treat him the way they treated me; he was innocent!” I never realized that I too was “innocent.” This is a huge understanding; a real watershed moment for me. That came in this instant of writing these words.

That’s something I am starting to understand after seeing what Krissy and a few others have gone through on this website. Who could be more innocent than them? Nothing Krissy did was her fault, even as she takes responsiblity and accepts the “ANDS.” She did the best she could under impossible circumstances. She did what she could to protect her child/ren AND she also now also protects herself. She transformed her trauma into wisdom. What a wonderful role model she – and Darlene – have been for so many of us here, especially me. I am eternally grateful to them both, even as I wish none of this ever happened to any of us here.

I have to learn to take apart all the mixed, mistaken and wrong-headed assumptions and outright lies about my Self and the world that I learned from damaged people, and the lies those damaged people spread about me.

I am still working on this and I will do so, I’m sure, until the end of my days. All I can do at this point is “wish them well” and hope they find peace and hope that I do to. I am so much more than the sum of other people’s anger. I am the sum of what I did in and with my life, too, not just the angry responses and blame thrown my way. I don’t believe we are all “born the same.” I do believe we have free will; we have CHOICE. We can choose how we behave and how we respond, and my automatic emotional response (along with being thrown into PTSD when attacked) is something I might have to work on for the rest of my life. But I am learning, slowly, slowly, how to separate my own self from the self of the “others.” I am NOT them and just because they might say something or describe me in ways that are untrue, doesn’t make it true.

People can say anything, but that doesn’t make it true.

This goes for me as a hurt child and a hurt mother. I have to remember that everyone faces good and evil in this world, and they respond as they wish to or are able to. I choose Life. I choose Good. And if my “good” doesn’t turn out that way, I will do whatever I can to correct it and make amends. What more can any of us do?

Dear God, please show me The Way.
Gracias, Amen.


I believe that people do get a “fix” when other people try harder and harder ~ it restores their order. By that I mean it makes them feel ‘worth’ when someone is jumping for them. They have worth mixed up with power. That isn’t love.
On another thread this morning (here in EFB) a woman asked if there was ever a positive outcome to all this ~ and I guess it is all about what you decide is positive! I got my life back. That’s pretty positive. I had to start with me though. I found that peace too and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Catherine ~ I understand hurting mothers. I really do, but all the healing with my kids and all their healing started with me and my healing. We can’t make other people see our way if they don’t want to, but my relationship with me has become the foundation for all my relationships.
Hugs, Darlene


You wrote ~ “Never in a million years did I understand that he would be exposed to the toxic poison that I was. For some naive belief I thought “surely they wouldn’t treat him the way they treated me; he was innocent!” I never realized that I too was “innocent.” This is a huge understanding; a real watershed moment for me. That came in this instant of writing these words.” ~ YES. This is a huge problem; when we believe that we are at fault ~ we believe that these people would never hurt our own children in the same way ~ because we think their treatment has something to do with US. But it doesn’t, it has to do with the perpetrator of the mistreatment.
Awesome comment Catherine!!
hugs, Darlene


p.s. everyone ~
when we grow up with the brainwashing inflicted on us by dysfunctional parenting governed by obligation and compliance and NO equal value for the child ~ we have grown up in a situation almost identical to a cult.
hugs, Darlene


Thank you Darlene for pointing out our brainwashing governed by obligation and compliance. No wonder this never felt good. It is an abnormal situation. The obliging and compliant are always the losers. The ones who are governing are always the “winners”.


FinallyFree, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I think this is the first time someone commented that they were able to benefit in any small way from something I have written here. I have approached making comments with much trepidation, and only said things when I was truly moved to do so. Earlier on, it was completely the opposite. So I am grateful that I mustered up all the courage I could find (after my complete shock and PTSD subsided from a few earlier responses). I’m now glad I “took a chance” and wrote what I’m come to believe about “personality disorders” after so many years of trying to figure this all out (even though I was still taken to task for saying this earlier on). You wrote:

September 30th, 2014 at 7:43 am
Catherine, you wrote some very interesting things in your comments! I had never fully thought about “people’s characters and personality disorders never really change”. That sounds so obvious, but as a child….or a woman in her 50?s who in some areas still has beliefs/wishes/hopes/dreams stuck from childhood….it actually isn’t obvious at all. I dreamed and wished for a real home and relationships in it that would be filled with mutual love and caring and affection…”

Yes, I was over 60 years old when my mother died, without seeing me on her deathbed, and I never really realized to what extent I had always believed that things would FINALLY be “reconciled” between me and my family “at least on her deathbed.” I had believed and fantasised this for years. I had been in “no contact” for 20 or 30 years previously, despite attempts on their part which I didn’t believe. But I finally took the bait” about two or three years before she was dying, because they were “getting old and must mean it,” and after all, “who doesn’t reconcile on their deathbed?” Who DOESN’T do this? I had never heard of such a thing. Never. But this is what happened to me.

It took a friend of mine telling me through my un-ending tears that she knew I had waited my whole life for my mother to say “sorry” and to love me, and admit that yes I had been telling the truth (that I had been beaten and molested by my father and she knew it and didn’t stop it” but as my good friend put it, she was “going to take that secret to her grave.” And she did.

I was cast out of the family for making this known many years before, and for making it public and trying to protect other young girls in my family from the same thing happening to them. The law did not protect children at that time and I paid a very heavy price when I tried, and I was scapegoated for the rest of my life because of it. Even by my own sisters who I now believe willingly went along with the sexual abuse and are too ashamed to admit to it. I became the “enemy” because I told the truth. And it was “off with her head” for the rest of my life. But what else could I do? I could not live with myself if something happened to a niece or nephew because I kept silent. And I wouldn’t and I didn’t. With such a heavy price to pay. Nowadays things are different and I would have been protected, although who knows what might have happened to me if I had ended up in a foster-care situation? But that’s another story, isn’t it? I know I did the only thing I could have done: I told the truth. And I would not and will not live a lie. They will and they do and they can’t stand that I know the truth. There’s nothing I can do about it, but I can live my own life to the best of my ability.

After my mother died and “opened the gates to the hounds of hell that she set after me,” (my sisters et al), it was free reign with nothing stopping them. And the hate mail and attacks continue to this day. One would think it was a religious war as we see all around the world. It never ends. But I have blocked them from Facebook, closed my blog to “private / invitation only,” marked their emails as “spam” and my husband opens the mail. They can’t get at me anymore. Only through my only child and they have hurt him immeasurably, but as an adult, it appears he chose to go with them as he too must now believe that “evil wins.” Reading this comment in this discussion above really had a huge impact on me. I never would have believed this if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes and ears. But it’s true. And there is nothing I can do about it, any more than there was anything I could do to change my mother or father’s disorders that they were born with and all of their children, myself included, carry to one degree or another.

The only difference I can see in myself is that I left when I was very young, as an emancipated minor at age 16, who worked her way through high school and college and raised a child alone. I was only exposed and “infected” for 16 years. Whereas my siblings were exposed for their entire lives, and accepted my parent’s doctrine and mind-set and ways. It’s sad seeing how they operate: they have no real relationships outside of their immediate “family” as who else could tolerate them? But that’s how cults operate. And they are a cult of the mind. I feel lucky that something in me, and a favorable judge in 1964 when judges did NOT rule in favor of the child – set me free.

I consider myself an “emancipated slave” and bear all the scars and painful memories of the harsh treatment I received, memories that will never fade… and most days I am grateful to be alive. I still have to dissasmble all the negative beliefs that were instilled in me: that it was all my fault, that I “made him mad,” that I am worthless, a piece of garbage, don’t deserve to live, should never have been born, will never amount to anything, am a slut and a whore as an unwed mother, had a bastard child,” would end up in the gutter, am a failure no matter what I do or what I achieve, it’s never enough… and so on and on and on. Those things seem to never entirely disappear, and under stress or attack (as happened here earlier on), I fall apart and revert to that same scared and lonely child who “can’t do anything right.” No matter how hard I try. Seeing my father’s same anger in my own son, who berates so many people near and far, brings it all back to me with full force. And I wonder “what did I do wrong” despite the choices that my son made with alcohol and drugs bring about those kinds of personality changes, regardless of his own upbringing. This is NOT to “excuse myself” as was stated earlier on, but a long-resisted belief that despite all this and all known factors to the contrary, I, somehow, against all odds, could have and should have “changed things” for my only child despite the culture, the science, and the evidence against it. Drugs and alcohol changes people’s outlook and it changes their brains. I didn’t know for years that my son was an alcoholic, until I read it on his own blog and saw it with my own eyes. All those years I blamed myself for his outbursts because I was raised with the same kind of denial by my mother in our own house as a child. What could I have done about it? I have no idea. This is a problem many people face in their families and their lifetimes and people are still struggling with an answer. But it has to start with the individual themselves, and hopefully that person will have the support of loved ones in his or her quest. But I had to learn that it wasn’t “all my fault” as I believed all my life, and after spending so much time on the is website, I can see that real reconciliation comes from within. From the desire to reconcile.

My own father seems to want this, when he was the most abusive of all. What a shock and surprise this was. But he still can’t overcome his own personality disorders or his predisposition to anger, and I “tread lightly” if at all. I protect myself at all costs and limit my contact to mail once a year and PERHAPS a phone call once a year or less. He will never change. Either he can’t or won’t, it doesn’t matter. I will take care of myself and not blame myself any longer for his outbursts and rage and I will attempt to dismantle all the negative messages I received growing up with him. My mother, who pretended to want reconciliation, apparently changed her mind on her deathbed (or my sisters changed it for her, I will never know), but that’s par for the course for a true Narcissist who might also have had a “split personality” if such things are real. They both were probably severely abused by their own alcoholic parents from what I’m been able to discern from doing research into our family history, and that’s why I don’t drink at all… but even that wasn’t enough to protect my son from going down that road. I couldn’t control his decisions to drink or not to drink once he left home, and he has grown into a replica of my own father, as drinking so often does. It’s as if so many of them all operate from the “same playbook” and I don’t know who wrote it! The devil, I guess.

But I still feel for my son and have apologized so many times for whatever wrongs I might have done to him, and said that none of them were intentional. But that hasn’t been enough. His answer is “You know what you did and until you admit to it, I have nothing further to say to you.” (Note that this changed when he wanted money, but I could not enable him any more once I found out what the money was being spent on). So the punishment and estrangement continues. But I don’t blame him or fault him. Everyone has the right to live the way to choose. I tried for so many years to “prove to him that I loved him” and nothing worked. I think the idea of some people “needing a scapegoat” must really be true. But if there were anything I could do to change things I would. If only I were privy to those mysterious workings. But it’s not up to me, anymore than “changing my parents” ever could be. Or them “changing themselves.” People can’t even see what they are doing, because they truly believe they are “right.” It’s just like trying to reason with religious fanatics: it’s just ain’t going to happen.

So where does that leave us? Broken, sad and ashamed? I think it leaves so many of us with Krissy’s “ANDS.” I love my child AND I won’t accept abuse. I would love to have a loving relationship with my family AND I won’t accept abuse. I will learn to love myself AND I won’t accept ill treatment by people who want to lash out and hurt me, blame me, or put me down.

I believe everyone has the right to their own opinion AND I will not accept responsibility for their mistreatment of me. I will no longer believe the negative things that people say about me or hurl at me or accuse me of, when I know it isn’t true. I will continue to act as responsibly and compassionately as I can towards others AND myself.

I will learn to find out that I COUNT TOO, and I have the right to live, no matter how much hatred is thrown at me. I will learn that some people need a target for their anger, and I don’t have to believe everything they say. I will learn to believe that people’s behavior is a REFLECTION of THEMSELVES, NOT OF ME. I will try to transform my own suffering into wisdom, as we have seen a number of people do right here in this discussion.

I will keep trying and ask God to show me The Way.

How I survived all on my own I will never know, and I did. And regardless of how my son might feel about his own upbringing, he was not subjected to the same physical beatings and sexual abuse that so many of my siblings and myself were subjected to. So he came out ahead even if his own life wasn’t perfect. And I pray every day that one day he too will find peace as I pray that for myself and us all.

And one day I will see everyone for what they are and who they are, and realize we are all hurt on some level, and I have the right to avoid the ones who take pleasure in hurting others. I will find my own kind who want to live in the light of truth and are working towards that end. I will find a way with God’s help and the help of other like-minded spirits who believe in love, and surely these things will one day come to pass. The power of Good does overcome the power of evil, and hopefully we will all come to experience this one day.

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”
Dear God please show us The Way.
There is no hurt on earth that Heaven cannot heal.

I beg you on bended knees. Let our suffering transform into wisdom. Grant us Peace on Earth.
Gracias, Amen.


I really appreciate your comment about your parents not having ever known the real person that you are and so they were never able to love or not love the real you. That IS something to take solace in. It is probably the most painful thing—to think that your parents don’t love or care for/about you. So hard not to take that personally, even if you know intellectually. But I do really believe that you’re right. I know the people who do love me and I know that they know a person that my parents never got to know.

What you said about many of the parents who want reconciliation wanting the old relationship back rings true to my experience. I felt distinctly that my parents wanted some version of the old relationship we had before my breakdown, except that they wanted it to not be false, that we’d work through things so that we’d attain naturally what they wanted. My mom felt that she was “supposed to be” the most important person in my life. She was hurt when I didn’t share everything with her (as a grown-up), when I didn’t want to move to the island to be closer to her, that I didn’t move in with them in my mid-twenties so that we could work out our relationship, that I generally didn’t fulfill her wishes for a mother-daughter relationship. I think by the end, after cutting off the first time, she came to a place where she would accept whatever from me, that she wasn’t pushing her wants on me anymore, but she didn’t want to recognize reality. She dismissed me. She defended my dad’s nasty email (not to me but to someone else who told me). She never heard me, never saw me. I have some sense of me just not being worth the energy, that she has gone through much pain in her life and she doesn’t want to recognize something that might jeopardize her. She doesn’t understand that it’s the opposite.

To Catherine or anyone,
I had a realization like yours last year when shit was hitting the fan with my family, looking at pictures of my two-year old nephew. I had an aunt who wanted me to think about sweet little Lukas who was losing an aunt in all this (as though I hadn’t thought a ton about it! as though it didn’t break my heart in pieces!) Looking at his picture, I realized that I had been a baby, too, completely innocent, set into a screwed up system intent on killing me and that it had absolutely nothing to do with me. I’m not religious and don’t actually pray… but it’s more than a hope… I pray that my nephew will be okay and others, too, that I never wanted to leave behind but are “in the system” and I don’t know how to manage those relationships (when being me creates havoc). I’m sure that many consider me to be exaggerating things but I know enough about the tragedies in the family to know how they connect and the real risk that’s there. It’s interesting how they think it won’t happen again—why did they think it happened to me? Something that made me particularly susceptible? I think that’s what I can’t swallow with some of my extended family. That they don’t wish for greater change seems to suggest that they think it was something about me, some interplay between my personality and my parents’, as opposed to the fact that there was nothing wrong with me. The damage I experienced was not personal. I was innocent and not some faulty human being who just couldn’t handle life. No, what I couldn’t handle was being treated as less than a person, and no one SHOULD have to handle that. There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with a world that either thinks that you should or praises you if you can (while it inevitably does damage regardless of your ability to hold yourself up), when none of us should be placed in that position. We are all born loveable and innocent, deserving of equality and respect. What I love about Darlene’s work is how she honours and recognizes the spirit of the child in all of us. I believe she is right that that’s where all healing begins.


Hi Alaina, yes it’s very like my mother’s wish for me to do things she wants but that’s not enough. I have to show that I also want to do what she wants and also show enthusiasm or a positive attitude on top of it. If I take this to the idea of even having kids. She wanted kids that do this thing and that thing and look this way and behave that way. Imagine any situation where you have set things up to this extent and then reality doesn’t oblige. What can you do? Well with kids or anyone weaker than you you can do any number of things to get them to fit your desires or at least try to get them going in that direction. It really reminds me of a child’s mindset in fact.
Catherine Todd, thanks for your detailed post on reconciliation. Like Alaina, I feel that my mother would like for our relationship to be what she already wanted it to be “naturally” without going through any process of looking at the truth of her treatment of me and I think she would like the outcome to still be one where she has ascendency (although maybe no longer authority) over me. So for example that I would “naturally” wish to become her caregiver later in life or that I would “naturally” be much more present with her. I think she’d even be willing to concede that she had made some mistakes if the consequence would still be that she gets the relationship she wanted. But what about me? What about the relationship (if any) I want with her?


I’ve been thinking about this “small window of time” and I think it’s false. I think we’ve spent our entire lives (at least I have) being mistreated, waiting for them to come around and “accepting” our lesser value that there just comes a point where the damage and pain has become so huge, the waste of life so great, that you accept reality and start to see those who really do love and care for you in the present and they become your family. When every attempt to reconcile has brought you further pain, you leave it in their hands and after so much pain, you can’t say exactly to what degree you’d really want to reconcile, in part because I think it becomes hard to imagine what it would look like and you can’t know what it would feel like. I do know that reconciliation is not what heals you (thank goodness). Yes, maybe if my mom really “got it,” really, really SAW me as a person, it would affect me in such a deep way that we’d truly grow close but this is all hypotheses, one way or another. The fact is that I was scapegoated and my reality is what it is. My mom does want reconciliation but it doesn’t come from a place of understanding or empathy. It’s not about what’s best for her child. It’s about what she wants and it would just be more of the same that was killing me in the first place. They are free to take responsibility at any time and to see what comes from there. The truth is I really don’t know what would come because I can’t know how I’d feel about something that hasn’t happened. It’s not a surprise to me that people here wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about reconciliation, though, when all attempts in the past (on our part) have tended to rip us apart. Hesitation seems healthy, and when the damage has been so much, it seems understandable if some don’t even want to go there.


Alaina, you wrote: “I’ve been thinking about this “small window of time” and I think it’s false. I think we’ve spent our entire lives (at least I have) being mistreated, waiting for them to come around and “accepting” our lesser value that there just comes a point where the damage and pain has become so huge, the waste of life so great, that you accept reality and start to see those who really do love and care for you in the present and they become your family.”

That feels “real” to me. And I’m glad to read that you think this “small window of time is false.” I was very shocked and saddened to read that, and thought no wonder, it’s all over for me, as that time has long since passed.

You also wrote: “It’s not a surprise to me that people here wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about reconciliation, though, when all attempts in the past (on our part) have tended to rip us apart. Hesitation seems healthy, and when the damage has been so much, it seems understandable if some don’t even want to go there.”

I certainly understand that! I know I probably won’t reach out for reconciliation any time again soon… I did try, a number of times, and until they want real reconciliation my efforts will do no good. I will wait on the side lines and if that day never comes, well, I have plenty of real positive relationships with people in my life who make “life worth living” instead of the opposite! But if that day does come, I will listen with an open heart, as much as possible, expecting very little or nothing based on past experience. Let’s hope I can actually put this into practice.

“I do know that reconciliation is not what heals you (thank goodness).” That is something I need to learn more about. Until recently, I never thought healing was possible WITHOUT “reconciliation” or at least “recognition” of what had gone on. When my mother died, I realized that the only benefit I got was the relief of knowing she “couldn’t hurt me anymore.” But beyond that, I realized that it wasn’t that SHE was continually hurting me, it was my unanswered prayers, hopes and dreams for “reconciliation” that weren’t being answered, and those false hopes were what was “hurting me.” Now that’s she gone, and it’s truly OVER, I wonder all the time why I wasted so many years waiting, wishing, hoping and dreaming that “one day things would change” and she would “finally love and approve of me,” and want me for a daughter. How foolish I have been! If she didn’t then, when I was a child, why would she suddenly want me now? She did reach out to me at one point and there was a very short “honeymoon period,” but very quickly things reverted “back to normal.” And then they went sideways in the worst possible way and I was devastated. If I hadn’t been daydreaming and fantasizing (without my even being aware of it) all those years, and that little girl inside of me that still hadn’t grown up hadn’t kept that daydream alive, I would have seen the chain of dysfunction that stretched from my mother’s family to our family to my own family and beyond… on both sides of the family, for both of my parents… and after I did so much historical research I finally saw the long line of pain and suffering each person had witnessed and experienced. Not to say I still didn’t wish for things to be different, but I finally realized that “wishing doesn’t make it so.”

And that’s what I am trying to deal with now. Especially in the case of my own estranged adult son. It still breaks my heart, but I love him still and always will. But I am willing to wait patiently (as much as possible) for him to decide he wants to share my life, and if he doesn’t, then I will continue to respect his decision. And I will take care of myself. What more can we do? What is love, if not the “waiting with open arms” for our wounds to heal, and the desire to heal the wounds of others as much as we are able to?

Alice in #322 wrote: “Catherine Todd, thanks for your detailed post on reconciliation.” THANK YOU, TOO!

I am always concerned that I am “writing too much” and too much about a topic that might not be “on topic,” but these are the things that concern me the most, and the thing that has been touched on in this discussion. What does real “reconciliation” look like? What is required, what does it take?

When I was refused once again by my own sister, who is a Methodist pastor’s wife (!!!), I tried for the last and final time with what I found written by Bishop Tutu and the “when an apology can make things worse” article. These two articles were everything that had gone wrong with me and my own family of origin in my own attempts at reconciliation. My sister (who also prevented me from seeing my mother on her deathbed) refused to respond to anything in the articles, instead blaming me for everything and presenting herself as the victim in this whole debacle, that has lasted for the last 30 years. It was unbelievable.

But when I re-read Tutu’s article and realized that LESS THAN 10% OF THE REQUESTS FOR RECONCILIATION (AMNESTY) WERE GRANTED, that’s when I realized just what it took, how hard it was, and how few people ever achieve it. It reminded me of the Alcoholic Anonymous family member groups I attended (called Al-Anon) and how they said it was something like 2% of people that actually got sober and stayed sober even when they attended meetings! (I might be wrong about this percentage, but it was a very small percentage). This clued me in that my own son might never get sober and he would have to want it more than anything else in the world, and that I couldn’t do it for him. It was there that I learned I would have to “love him from a distance” and that made it possible, if not palatable, to stick with it and never give up. But to allow him the freedom to live his life without comment or condemnation from me, and to leave him alone until he wanted to patch things up with me. If that day ever comes. But I will always love him through thick and thin, as I continue to learn to take care of myself and not allow my grief to swallow me.

Hard as this has been to do, to leave him alone, and as many tears as I have shed missing my only child, I am learning that my life depends on who I am and what I do, not what other people do and say about me whether it’s parents or adult children or relatives or neighbors or whoever thinks ill of another human being. Yes, it hurts unbearably when I find out yet another attack or injury has occurred, but that doesn’t change how I feel about him and I am finally starting to be able to see that even my family of origin is sick in so many demented ways that they are mired in the LaBrea Tar Pits and cannot break free. I feel lucky that I was one of the lucky ones who escaped, and that is a miracle in itself. To this day, I don’t know how I did it, at such a very young age.

I became an emancipated minor at age 16 and worked my way though highschool paying rent as the youngest waitress at the restaurant, and was never late with my $10.00 per week on the room I rented across town. I loved that little rented room with roses on the wallpaper, and from the first day I entered there, no one ever came to break down my door and the beatings and the rapes ended instantly the day I moved in, and could finally have a lock on my door. I was “home” and I was free. Even if I was alone. I was safe and secure in my little room, with a job waiting for me right across town, and I would never be beholden to anyone ever again in my entire life. I would always take care of myself physically, and I took care of my child the same way, hitchhiking to school when I started college, “with a baby in one arm and my books in another.” We started the first day care center in the United States at that college in Foothill, California, and my son had an extended family of single and married mothers who were all going to school. We shared the child care and our children had plenty of other children to play with and “aunties” and teachers galore. It was wonderful. If only things could have stayed that way… but so much changed over the next 20 years. But that’s another story for sure.

In the meantime, I have tried and tried to find a solution for “reconciliation” but since I was the only one working towards it, it was guaranteed to fail. I had been raised to believe I was “responsible for everything and everyone’s actions and reactions” and that has been the hardest thing for me to overcome. I am STILL trying to learn this to this day. I have to re-learn every single thing I was taught about my self from my parents, as almost everything they told me about my self was wrong. My “self” is fine. It’s my own blaming myself or holding myself responsible for everyone else or believing that whatever negative thing is said about it “must be true” that has been the hardest, if not impossible, to change.

Seeing the range of opinions and experiences and reactions on this website over this one (huge) discussion has really helped. I have gained so much insight into so many personalities and experiences just by reading the reactions of so many from all different ages, generations and walks of life. It’s been eye-opening and life-changing, to say the least.

And with that I will close for the moment, and try to take time to digest it all. Thanks to everyone who has participated. Even the painful ones have given me insight into how some people react when they feel defensive or attacked or “triggered” as one person said. Even when the comments made were in no way intentional of “triggering” anyone, this can still happen. That opened my eyes to so much as well.

Thanks again to everyone. You are all helping to clarify things I have been wondering about for so long. And everyone here has added to the description of conflict and clarity, and how we begin to meld the two.

Gracias, Amen.


Catherine, I am so very sorry about ALL the abuses you have suffered and all of your pain! I can’t even begin to pretend like I can relate to your hurts….I personally didn’t go through nearly what you have. My heart goes out to you! As I read your latest comments, I wanted to ask you if maybe you haven’t given yourself permission to “own” the truth that you do actually see people for who they are in reality, and that you do realize that all people have hurts on some levels? I hope I am not out of line by saying this, but it seems that when I read your comments that you see things very clearly for what they are! And people for who they are. I know when I went through my own life feeling crushed like a bug, I second guessed my perceptions of others….probably because of the ” cult” brainwashing messages…and I especially doubted myself. I look back and see where I was “trained” to not speak how I felt, and that any ideas or opinions I had about anything or anyone were to be discounted because they were worthless. My dad even called me worthless! To realize that my parents were the one who were really messed up, and that I actually had a pretty decent amount of intelligence and common sense and did see through things and was honest about what I saw…….and becoming proud of that fact within myself….it has helped me get free! I know what you mean about feeling triggered back into that little girl you once were! I hope it will encourage you if I tell you this….it can happen less and less and hardly at all the more healed we become! :). You do count! It has helped me so greatly to realize more and more that I truly am equal to EVERYONE in this world. God did NOT create me less than anyone! I am actually no weaker, more stupid, less lovable etc than anyone else. I am not better than anyone, and I am not less either….simply equal. I tell myself this frequently in situations where I am tempted to cave emotionally like before! You …and I …..deserve to be treated with respect from our children, spouses, and everyone else! I look forward to the day when you believe that inside of yourself !!! Peace and comfort and joy to you!


Thank you again, Finally Free!

But no, there are MANY more people who were damaged much more than me. I was one of the lucky ones, really… my nightmare home life was offset by the angels of the convent who raised me in school… I went to Catholic school where the nuns DIDN’T beat us with rulers and taught us to pray. I gave up religion after spending a year in the convent high school they ran there later on, but that’s another story. But really believe that the nuns looked out for us and my guardian angels were by my side. I had a 5th grade teacher, the only non-nun at the school, who also looked out for me and her daughter was in the same class that I was and I used to escape to their house until she finally called my mother about what was going on, and my mother didn’t believe her and “put a stop to all that.” I was never allowed to speak to either of them again, and it was many years later that I found them both and to this day they are like family to me. I love them both dearly and I was even able to find the nuns who remembered me so many years later and that was how I found out so many “truths” about that time.

Plus I had my grandparents who loved me dearly and even though they couldn’t get me out of that hell-hole that I was raised in, I was able to escape to their house many times and I always had a place for many years later that I could call “home.” When they died, I was bereft, lost and alone, even though I was i my mid-thirties that was when I finally and truly felt “alone.”

There are so many young girls who run away from home and end up on the street or working as prostitutes for a man who “takes care of them,” no matter what he requires them to do, or as in my own sisters case, marries a man who abuses them just like our father did. Those are the ones I feel sorry for. Not myself. Something in me allowed me to continue on and make my own way in the world, without much outside or financial support. To this day I don’t know how I did it, but I did. And seeing other girls at age 16 I am dumbfounded that I was able to. We all have strengths and weaknesses that we are born with, and that was one of my strengths.

But my weakness is still “what other people say about me.” After the initial attacks on my character and intentions here on this site, I withdrew for quite some time. I was in shock and PTSD kicked in full-time. But I recovered in a few days (which was remarkably soon for me) and was able to “look, listen and learn” by reading the comments and watching how things would unfold.

I saw how the tide turned when Darlene stepped in to explain, defend and defuse the onslaught that was going on against Krissy, and how she handled things so well. Krissy kept responding and explaining as much as it took, and when a few other people came to her aid, others seemed to start listening and a glimmer of understanding began to take place.

That was a real turning point for me, and gave me hope that perhaps anyone at any time – when they are ready – could be ready for true understanding and reconciliation to occur. I even saw a few people apologize to her! I was simply amazed. That gave me hope that perhaps it can happen in our own families of origin, if and when others are willing to look, listen and learn as well.

I can’t say that I can come anywhere near what Krissy is able to do or accomplish, but I have a real role model here. Just watching the shift in the discussion based on what she was saying has changed everything for me. Everything. Especially Krissy’s “ANDS.” That it is possible to recognize the pain that an adult child has experienced AND it is possible to protect oneself. I had never thought of this before. Not once. I thought as long as I was being punished and blamed, it had to be “all my fault.” But it’s not. Not necessarily.

I still don’t have a clear idea of what exactly people are saying when they say their estranged parent “doesn’t recognize them” and “doesn’t understand them” when the parent says they was “reconciliation.” I’m still reading through the comments trying to understand this. But I do know that it appears that no one wants any preconcieved notions of how they are supposed to be, act, think or behave. And no parental obligations, either. Adult children want to live their own lives without interference or guilt, or feeling obligated to spend time with someone they really just don’t like. Someone who they feel criticizes them or puts them down or negates their likes, aspirations or beliefs.

There seems to be no question about that. So I’m reading more and more trying to get a very clear picture of what adult children do want.

I know “the end” came for me when I asked my son why every story he wrote revolved around “anger and alcohol,” and why was he drinking so much, knowing the dangers of alcoholism in our family… and I asked him how did he think his wife was going to want to stay married to him if he said she had to accept everything he did or she could, as he put it, “get out and leave.” Well, she didn’t stay married to him and he did lose his job over drinking (and other things), but he was furious that I had dared to mention this. It was “his life” and I was to “keep quiet about things that didn’t concern me” even though he called me for help and financial aid when he lost his wife and his job!

So I learned the hard way that a mother’s place (at least with my own son) does NOT include offering advice or opinions of any kind. I wish I had known that before, as believe me, I would have kept my mouth shut! Of course there’s much more to it than that, and it turned out that problems had been festering for years, all unbeknownst to me. How I could have missed it, I will never know, but because I was “no contact” with family members I had no idea the messages they were feeding him, for years and years and years. He never mentioned them and it wasn’t until I was sorting boxes from our last move many years before that I came across letters and communications that made my blood run cold. How could I have been so blind, and have paid for airline tickets for my child to attend “family reunions” thinking at least he would have a “decent relationship” with grandparents and aunts and uncles, even if I couldn’t. So he wouldn’t “be alone” as we always were at birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas when all of his other friends were celebrating with their families. I could never explain why he couldn’t “spend summers” with his grandparents like all the other kids did… how do you tell a child that their grandparents don’t want them to come? So I did everything I could for him to have a “good relationship” with the family, even if I couldn’t. But that did more damage than anything, and to this day I’m sorry I was so unaware and naive. I never thought they would go to great lengths to hurt him, talking about me and making him feel bad. They made sure “he knew what I was really like” which is what my mother drilled into my sisters. And they did her bidding with relish, and I never ever knew. He would come home so upset but refusing to talk about it, but still wanting to return… just as I did. Desperate to have some kind of family relationship even when they would hurt him so. Just like I did. Oh, what a fool I was, to play such a dangerous game, with people who knew nothing about “love and compassion” and only knew and cared about “conflict and war.”

To believe that he would be treated differently than they treated me… when he was an innocent child… it was inconceivable to me that they would hurt him the way they hurt me. But why wouldn’t they? I too was an innocent child the day I was born. But I didn’t see it that way and it’s taken all these years, more than 40 since I sent him into the mouth of the devil’s den. All in the name of “family.” Those few meetings he had with them set a life-time of hurt in motion with wounds that have yet to heal. Even as he realizes how dysfunctional they are (his own words), he still associates me with the pain he felt through them. I know he holds me responsible for his being in the position he is in with his own biological family and there’s nothing I can do about that. I wish I had known how things would turn out and I would have done something different, but what I do not know. I just know that I didn’t do the right thing.

That was probably one of the biggest mistakes I made. But I’m sure I made many more that have yet to come to light, but I’m sure they will one day. I just hope it isn’t too late to rectify them. That’s why communication is so important, and that misunderstandings are dealt with before they become “written in stone.” None of that ever happened with me in my own family, as “sorry” doesn’t exist in their language. But that’s been discussed previously, so I won’t go into it again now.

But this is why I know I am such a bad judgment of character… To this day I never think that people are going to be as bad as they really are. Never! Because I would never do such a thing, I can’t conceive of other people doing it. As I said to one person I know: “They would never do that… that would be telling a lie!” He said “Catherine! When are you going to learn? People LIE ALL THE TIME!”

I still can’t believe this, even though I know it is true! People do lie all the time! And they will say and do ANYTHING to “get their way” regardless of whom they hurt or what damage they do, in an effort to accomplish their goals. Be it good or evil. And they will excuse themselves for anything they do, with good or evil intent. People believe whatever they want to believe and will state it “for the record” as truth. They will write their own history and re-write history and make assumptions and state what other people are thinking and believing and say it’s the truth because THEY think it. Not because the other person thinks it. Calling names and attacking people based on assumptions goes on all the time, doesn’t it? How many “holy wars” are maintained in the name of “Jesus Christ” and “Christianity?” And this is why I can’t even go to church anymore, given the hypocrisy of so many “Christians.” And then we add to this the melange of “family” and all that goes on within these small groups? If a “family” can’t get along, how can we even dream of “world peace” which so many espouse that they want? I have no idea.

But I do hope that by reading about all the experiences adult children have had with their estranged parents, I will be better prepared if my own son decides to talk to me again. I will know how to recognize his own wounds and validate his experience in TRUTH, to whatever extent he requires. I hope this day will come. I will never stop hoping for this.

Finally Free, you wrote: “As I read your latest comments, I wanted to ask you if maybe you haven’t given yourself permission to “own” the truth that you do actually see people for who they are in reality, and that you do realize that all people have hurts on some levels? I hope I am not out of line by saying this, but it seems that when I read your comments that you see things very clearly for what they are! And people for who they are.”

I appreciate reading this so much, and how I hope and wish this were true. But I don’t believe it’s true. I have such a long way to go. I have been accused of “trying to get everyone here to believe it’s all my son’s fault and not mine” or something to that effect, so I’ve been very hesitant to write anything. That is NOT my intent. And if some people here have that reaction, how can I expect my own son to not feel the same, when I am talking about how to find reconciliation and still failing at it so many times?

As Callynt wrote in #82, September 22nd, 2014 at 10:51 am
Catherine (#47),
“I find your post very defensive and offensive, which leads me to believe that you would choose to have people say your son is all wrong and you are all right. Stick with those posts as you find them, and skip over mine, and I’ll not respond to you anymore.”

Nothing could be further from the truth, and it’s this kind of response that is still so shocking to me, and makes me afraid to participate. When this is the kind of response that my comment in a discussion engenders, it shows me that I have such a long way to go. And that it may well be impossible for me to ever “be heard” in the way that I intend it to be. It also leaves no room for explanation or understanding, and is the kind of response I have received in the past from my son. Much to my everlasting dismay. So then I am afraid to try to talk and nothing ever changes. Wounds never heal, misunderstandings are never righted, and the feuds and bad feelings go on. And on. And on. And we find ourselves on websites talking to strangers, trying to find out what to do.

This comment tells me that I obviously understand nothing about human nature, or how some people will react to my words… and then to be called “sarcastic” on top of it leaves me in the pale. I don’t know what to say or what words to choose and having to wonder “what in the world offended this person so much” makes me afraid to say anything at all. Re-reading my comments and never coming up with an answer, as I can’t answer for another person, doesn’t do any good. And I’m left in the same quandary I am left with by my own son, when he too won’t say what has offended him so much. But I am held responsible for their reactions, and I am therefore to blame. And there’s no chance to even ask what happened to offend you so?” And no chance to say “excuse me, I didn’t mean it that way.” No chance at all. Another door slammed in my face, all communication ended. Sound familiar? Then I was called a “wolf who was let in among the wounded lambs,” and called “sarcastic” and more. It’s all been very confusing for me, so I continue to read, look, listen and try to learn. And try not to take all the hurtful comments to heart and realize that as Krissy pointed out, “wounded people lash out.”

So on that note I will end yet another one of my long posts. If only I could be short and clear as many others here are! It’s clear to me that I still understand so little of human nature or how to bring about positive reactions. I saw Krissy do it time and time again here, so perhaps I can continue to learn how to defuse situations instead of lighting them when I try to put my own thoughts and experiences out there.

Thanks for writing back again Finally Free… the support even I am finding here is quite surprising and quite remarkable. Perhaps there is hope for us all. I hope so.


I’ve had a really interesting experience. It was a front row seat in a blame game with an expert deflector, projector and a blame absorber.

I am amazed how someone who was basically walking through a warm, sunny park on a beautiful, bright day and got knocked in the head by a tree falling on her managed to end up apologizing for being the in the tree’s way.

It has been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. There was so much drama, so much indignation, it was a show of strength, extremes. of widely jumping from point to point that had no connections. It was a game of winning no matter the cost, a show of power devoid of any understanding, introspection, compassion.

Wow, I watched a real narcissist give it to someone who loved them. I get something on such a deep level that I was confused by before. There really is such a thing as someone devoid of feeling anything outside of self. It is really true.

It was like watching a toddler drive an automobile on a expressway and killing someone and being mad that they were in the way.


Catherine Todd, I think it sounds like yes, you overstepped your adult son’s boundaries. I realize that you see it as advice and suggestions but suspect he may have found it to be critical and judgemental of him. Of course I’m not him so I can’t interpret further than I can relate my own experience. For me it depends on the degree of intimacy (or not) you actually have in the relationship. The assumption that a mother/child relationship *should* be intimate by default even if the experience is not there for either one of the parties contributes to this mismatch.
For example I never discussed certain very intimate health matters with my mother so if she suddenly started “advising” me on any of that or questioning me about it I would feel quite invaded. I also recall one time telling her I’d quit my job to start my own business and her response was quite critical, as if she didn’t believe I had already researched the situation sufficiently before making a decision. Or as if she just didn’t think I was up to it. I think I would have been far more open to her saying something like “I’m worried” and then been able to ask why than feel like I have to defend my abilities and my decisions. It might also have been different if she had had her own experience of starting a business but she didn’t have any legitimate claim there either. Notice that I’m not judging her as a person but her claim to be able to advise me on very specific things. In other words there’s nothing particular about being a mother than enables anyone with any particular wisdom.


And just to finish my last train of thought (post was getting too long!) there’s nothing about any one role or station in life that enables any particular wisdom. If I’ve got my definition right then wisdom is really knowing from lived experience, not something you read or a belief you adopt or take on because other people give it to you (or batter you over the head with it).


I know there are so many comments here but I needed to let my voice be heard too. For the last three years I’ve had a civil cordial relationship with my parents. I fooled myself into thinking that maybe everything was resolved once I left home and maybe now they can finally respect me as a person. It was a lie.
I recently found out that my was spreading horrible lies about me, specifically to my mother in law and probably to others though I have no way of knowing. It’s shaken me up and I’m still finding my finding. I had to reevaluate the whole civil connection thing. Through some recorded conversations they had with my husband it seems they still think they have “rights” to me, and how I live my life. They also put all the blame squarely on my shoulders. In my moms words “she had personality issues that’s why we couldn’t raise her”
It was all a lie. In their mind I’m still that bad little girl. It hurts. More than I can admit.


Hi Catherine,
I understand hoping your mom would come around to recognize you. I think we all have carried that hope and the repeated heartbreaks come from continuing to think it might happen. I imagine for anybody it wouldn’t be till death that it would really become finalized. I know that I would welcome their recognition of the truth of what happened, and I’ve left that door open for them to walk through anytime should they choose to, but I really couldn’t say what would happen after that, what I’d hope for in terms of relationship, if at all. It might be in my best interest even then not to have a relationship with them. I couldn’t say without actually being in those shoes.

Darlene wrote in her response to the woman writing her:
The foundation for success of the relationship is up to the parents. I am writing about the outcome of the parent child relationship when the parent (MY PARENTS) were not willing to be responsible for the outcome of the relationship when I was a child and that resulted in the lack of relationship that we have today. – See more at:

If my parents now recognized what happened, took responsibility, it still would remain true that we lacked the foundation of a successful relationship and that that was not my fault, nor my responsibility. Without any kind of foundation, but rather a history of wounds and being overpowered, controlled, manipulated, hurt, etc., it’s very difficult to say realistically what exactly I would want in a relationship, if anything, not out of spite towards my parents but more about what’s best for taking care of me, growing, healing, being my own person, living my own life. If they didn’t build the foundation, then the foundation wasn’t built (even if they really wished that they had, even if they by no means set out to harm me). My goal is to heal the damage and if they actually could have helped with that, that would have been great, but given the opportunity, they made things much, much harder.


Alice, in #328 wrote: “Alice
September 30th, 2014 at 6:26 pm
Catherine Todd, I think it sounds like yes, you overstepped your adult son’s boundaries. I realize that you see it as advice and suggestions but suspect he may have found it to be critical and judgemental of him.”

Alice, when my son’s wife left him he called me and asked me to come and stay with him in NYC. He was beside himself and kept asking me “Why? Why did she leave me? Why did I lose my job? What’s wrong with me? What can I do now?” and more along those lines. I answered him, thinking we were having a discussion and I was answering his questions to the best of my ability.

I never “suddenly offered unasked for advice or criticism” as you describe your mother doing to you. I told him the truth as I saw it, to the best of my ability, as gently as I could, trying to help him see that there is always room for improvement and that people have many chances in their lives to do things differently, and that it’s always possible to change and start anew. And that we must never give up. We have to learn to listen and respond in caring, sharing and compassionate ways. And the most important thing was for him to try and accept this divorce with as little fighting as possible, and to try and maintain positive relations that would mean far more over the years than fighting over any material possession at the time. That was another reason I paid for all new furnishing so his wife could take what she needed and they could try to part on as good of terms as possible. I pointed out that relationships are worth their weight in gold, since we can always make more money and buy more things. But love is priceless and we should never willingly allow it to turn to hate inside ourselves, or be expressed in anger and resentment towards another. Hating her would only hurt himself, and nothing she wanted to take could meant that much since it could be replaced.

He was fine with accepting that, especially since I handed him my gold American Express card to do just that. I was so relieved and believed the rest would truly fall in place for him too, as he had found a very good job and had a new start in life that he had earned all on his own. He deserved it and needed just a little bit of help from me. He was talented and intelligent and could find happiness in this world. The divorce and losing the previous job didn’t mean the end of the world. Those were also the kinds of things we talked about. And in the beginning, all these things were fine.

Then we talked about relationships, my own belief that a relationship can never work when one person “lays down the law” and doesn’t listen to the other person. A relationship CAN’T work on that basis. Any time he told his wife “If you don’t like it, leave” was another nail in the coffin of their relationship. I said “surely there’s another way to express how you feel, that would also take into account her feelings.” This was met with displeasure on his part, so I dropped any further discussion in this area.

He had also needed quite a bit of money to rent an apartment and fly to job interviews and pay bills in those months while he was looking for work. I did all this… I gave him the money to take care of things until he could get back on his feet. His line of work required moving to different locations all around the country, and if I hadn’t helped out with his request, and paid for travel expenses for him to get to job interviews, he would have been out on the street with no prospects for work. As he rarely asked for help I was glad to honor his request. He was hired at a fair salary with a good job in the area of work that he wanted, and I believed “all was well with the world.” I also believed with all the help I had given him, surely he would know how much we cared about him and that he could always count on us if he needed something important. This was something I had never had from my own family, so I was glad to comply. It wasn’t very often and he usually was able to take care of things all on his own. I really believed that things were set and good between us as well. Why wouldn’t they be? But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

If you think all that transpired means I had “overstepped my bounds” then I’m sorry I discussed anything wit him, flew to NYC when requested, helped him get re-settled and in his job search, and answered his questions to the best of my ability honestly and sincerely. I certainly would not have gone up there to stay with him if he hadn’t called and asked me to, stating he “didn’t think he could be alone right now” and I was VERY concerned about his state of mind at that time. He was in very bad shape, and he asked me to come. He asked me what I thought was wrong. He asked me what to do. And I answered him. He didn’t like all of my answers, that is true, but does that mean I “overstepped my bounds?” I honestly don’t think so. What more could I do? Lied to him? Agreed that everyone else was to blame? Ignored the “elephant in the room” with the bottles and bottles of liquor all over the kitchen and two six packs emptied each and every night? Seeing my son passed out on the living room couch every night with empty beer bottles strewn all around? What kind of mother would I have been to either say nothing, or leave him in that squalor? Or perhaps some people would have been drinking with him. His biological father certainly would have. But that’s not me.

One of the problems of posting on this blog is that people come to conclusions or assumptions based on such a tiny bit amount of information. “Telling the whole story” would take days and days and pages and pages, and I already feel that I write too much. Plus discussing someone else’s life in such kind of detail goes against the grain for me, so I tend to try and write as little as I can about the situation. I have left out so much already even in this short description of the 10 days I spent in NYC during that most trying time. But I feel the necessity to write something to explain that I didn’t just “jump in with criticism or unasked for advice.” I felt the need to say something to try and save his life. To this day I wouldn’t change what I did, whether it was taken in a positive or negative light.

I did the same thing when my niece was going to stay with my parents for a year at the same age I was while my father was still molesting me. I wrote to both my parents and told them I remembered what he had done to me, and that if I found out that he laid a finger on that girl I would again go to the police. I had to say something to protect my defenseless niece and I had to say something to try and protect my son from the grip of alcohol he was in. Alcohol kills and who wouldn’t eventually say something when they see the damage it has done?

I am still estranged from my parents due to my writing “the letter” so many years ago to protect my niece, but she apparently wasn’t harmed so it must have had some kind of effect. Even though I am still being punished to this day. I am still being punished by my son for making my feelings known and no longer enabling him in ways that are detrimental to his well-being, but again, there is nothing I can do about that. Sometimes we have to do what we know is better for someone, even though they may not like it at the time. I have learned the damage that prescription drugs and alcohol has done in my own high-function, well-educated and genetically predisposed personality disordered family. As I have said before, this is why I don’t drink at all. My son grew up in a household where alcohol was rarely available, and I was horrified to find out that he had been drinking for many years. But that was his choice and I kept silent about it, until the day came when his world came crashing down. It was one conversation and one sentence from me, but that was enough. My son brooks no disagreement with anyone, not with me, not with his wife, not with his employers. That’s the way he lives his life and I am not one to challenge him.

But I will not enable anyone in killing themselves, and I will continue to say that I believe relationships are worth more than anger, resentment and “wanting someone dead.” And I will no longer be someone’s punching bag when they are full of the same. I expect respect for myself and others and I am willing to give them same. But I will not accept disrespect from anyone. I have had to learn to stand up for myself as well. Worthwhile relationships have to be based on mutual respect and consideration. It can’t only come from one side.

I didn’t just pounce on my son and announce what I thought about how he lived his life. He was beside himself at the time, he called me, not understanding what had happened to him. He alternated between anger, rage and grief and back again. I tried to introduce simple facts: the fact that if you lay down the law to your wife and tell her “if she doesn’t like it, then she can leave” that perhaps this might cause someone to seek a divorce. Perhaps she finally took his words to heart. And she did leave. It didn’t have to be the end of the world. Reconciliation is always possible if both parties want it. There was still time to try and repair things. But no, it was “his way or the highway” and what can anyone do with that? It wasn’t me that left him, it was his wife. I had no part in it. I was only called after the fact. And I did what I could to try and pave the way for reconciliation if that was what they both wanted. Apparently one or both didn’t. But I wasn’t responsible for any of that.

I also pointed out that “if you drink on the job and write about it on the internet on a public blog and put down gays online at the same time, you may lose your job.” It wasn’t his boss’s fault, it wasn’t his (gay) manager’s fault who “had it in for him.” He wrote about hating gays on his public blog and he wrote about drinking on the job. That “may be” what got him fired. That’s what I said. I said I would be willing to help him in any way I could, and that I was sure he would be able to do better next time. What more support could I have given him?

I spent thousands of dollars helping him find another job, another apartment, and tried to keep him sane and alive in the aftermath of his wife leaving him. He was destroyed by this, and I kept pointing out that he wasn’t worthless and that obviously he had plenty to offer, and that perhaps all the drinking every night until he passed out – which he was doing IN FRONT OF ME EVERY NIGHT – wasn’t going to help him re-establish his life or ever be happy.

What mother would sit by and watch their child destroy themselves without finally saying something? Would keeping silent mean that they “cared?” I’m sorry if this appears to be “overstepping one’s bounds,” but there is no way in hell that I would be carting out boxes and bottles of alcohol time after time and NOT say something.

Many people, both caring friends and family, stage interventions for those that they love! And the person with the problem is often very angry about it. I didn’t go that far. But when I was asked what I thought, I replied truthfully as gently and respectfully as I could.

Obviously, whatever I said was not what he wanted to hear. But I would not agree that “everyone was against him” and that he had “done nothing” to bring about this result. No, we all have to take responsibility for our own actions that contribute to a situation. “Contribute” being a key word. We can only control our own actions, but we all “contribute” to a situation, even if it’s just agreeing to continue to be there. I’ve never been abused (as an adult) when I didn’t do something to contribute to it, even if it meant not checking up on things soon enough, or naively believing someone without checking out the truthfulness of their words, or staying too long even after all the red flags and alarm bells went off. It doesn’t let the other person off the hook by any means, but I have to look at “my part in it” as well. And had I been aware and not living in la-la fantasy land, I might have seen those evil people a heck of a lot sooner for who and what they were. Gaining this kind of experience about people and being willing to look at the truth and accept it, and them, for who and what they are has always been a blind spot for me. I go around wearing blinders all my life because I “don’t want to believe the truth” that is staring me right in the face. That’s the legacy of growing up in a high-functioning well-educated alcoholic family that denied every bit of it. To this day I can’t see the truth in front of my very eyes and I am constantly hoodwinking MY SELF. I have no one to blame but myself! And I do, but that doesn’t change anything either, so that’s why I find myself on websites online and devouring every self-help book known to man. Somehow, some way, I have to learn to face the truth, accept it, believe it, and move on without those people and situations dragging me down. Destroying any chance I might have for peace of mind. Accepting that which I cannot change and having the wisdom to know the difference. This has been the long standing goal of my life and I hope I can do this with love and understanding, all the while learning to love and protect myself.

And if my actions in this case contributed to our estrangement, along with my cutting off funds which ENABLED HIM TO CONTINUE TO DRINK, then so be it… what more could I do? Pay for him to kill himself with alcohol and drugs? What kind of “love” is that?

I made no claim to have “words of wisdom” in this case. I kept quiet about his drinking for many many years. He was 36 years old when this happened, a grown man. He asked me to come to NYC and I was on the next plane. He asked me what I thought went wrong and I told him, as quietly and carefully as I could, with all the love in the world. I continued to support him until I saw where the money was really going, and at that point I had to stop. I also stopped accepting verbal abuse from him that I would never accept from another human being. I did that to protect myself.

You wrote: “if she suddenly started “advising” me on any of that or questioning me about it I would feel quite invaded.”

I understand what you are saying here and I’m sorry your mother criticized you. But I can assure you that my situation was very different, at least from my own perspective. I feel very hurt by your assumption and statements that I may have “invaded” my son. I would say if anything, it had been the other way around. But a person can only take so much and I had seen these problems coming for many years. I had kept silent but worried about what would happen to him. When the you-know-what finally hit the fan for him in his life, I hoped this would be a “wake-up call.” But no. It was now “all MY fault.”

AA says people don’t change “until they hit rock-bottom.” I was told that I had been “enabling” my son by helping him out. He rarely ever needed help, but I always did on those rare occasions, never dreaming of where the money was really being spent. And when the funds finally did get cut off, there was hell to pay. My “banishment” is complete. I can’t tell you how much this hurts and that I would do *almost* anything to resolve things, but I cannot and will not contribute to something that is going to kill my child in the end. And probably sooner rather than later.

So I hope I have explained enough to state correctly that I didn’t “invade my son with unasked for advice.” I only answered questions and finally said “no more.”

And if that makes me a bad mother, I still say “what more could I have done? How could I have done anything differently?”

I really never wanted to have to go into so much detail here, talking about my son’s personal problems on a public website. God forbid he should ever read this and know I was talking about him! If I had realized that I would be required to explain my actions in such a way, I would have posted anonymously or with a made-up name. But I started with my real name so I guess changing it wouldn’t change anything at this point. I can only hope that one day my only child will be able to love himself as much as I love him, and we can all find peace and happiness and find our way “home.” Wherever that home may end up being.

I have written far too much and far too long about something that I’m sure could have been said in just a few paragraphs. Brevity has never been my strong suit. In fact, it’s probably one of my greatest weaknesses. But I’m finding that this is the first time in years that I have “spilled the beans” about what went on which ultimately ended in my son’s estrangement, and I am writing as much to myself as to anyone else. More to myself, in fact… trying to find a glimmer of what I might have done wrong, what I might have been able to do differently, and I always come up empty-handed.

What I do know and has never changed is my life for my only child. I will be here ready and waiting with open arms come what may, whenever and if or when he decides to come back into my life. But I will not enable destructive behavior aimed at himself or others, including myself. Love doesn’t mean accepting being hit verbally or physically. Love shouldn’t hurt. Love is compassionate and caring, in spite of negative behavior, while we wait with as much patience as we can muster, all the while praying that one day they will “see the light” and find their way home. And when the day comes that he wants to talk about whatever I did do “wrong” that hurt him, I am willing to listen and take responsibility for “my part in it.” I really don’t have any answers, and if there was anything more that I could do, or didn’t do, I would try ro rectify that. I just don’t know what that might be, but to leave him in peace and “love him from a distance.”

I would like to point out that I don’t believe that my son requires “forgiveness,” as I don’t think he has done anything to be forgiven for.

He acted as he did by his own reactions and for his own reasons, and I have to learn how to live with that. He has every right to live his own live, positive or negative. It’s not up to me and I don’t blame him at all. As it was said by someone else on this blog, “hurt people lash out at others.” I truly believe that.

And I would do whatever I could to help heal that hurt, but I can’t see what more that I can do, but I keep searching and reading and discussing “trying to find a way.” I do know that I can only work on myself, and try to accept and heal the hurts I feel and not blame him, or anyone, for the interior work that I must do. Every experience no matter how painful can lead to wisdom. We see that in so many of the people here, and for each and every one of them I am grateful.

And please accept my apologies for writing too long and if I have once again offended anyone. That is never my intention and I am trying to find a way that I can facilitate reconciliation, at least from my end. And if that day isn’t welcome, then I will try to find a way to accept that, with love and respect. What more can we do? If anyone has a better answer, I am willing to give it a try. Thank you in advance.

Dear God please show us The Way. Gracias, Amen.


To everyone: Please forgive me for writing “off topic” and for writing far too much: I realized as I was doing it and after, that I keep writing and writing and writing the same thing over and over again hoping beyond hope that maybe this time I will see a glimmer of hope for a change to occur, or that maybe I could have done things differently, or maybe I missed something going down the line, or maybe I somehow caused this outcome for things I did in the past… and on and on and on, as if all my words will suddenly and magically make things different and change the past and change the present and predict and control the future for the “positive” outcome I want. When in fact I have no control now over anything I did then, and I can do nothing about repairing this relationship except wait for the day if and when he decides he wants this relationship again in his life. I have not been willing to accept the death of our relationship, any more than I have been willing to accept the death of my relationship with my own parents. If I had been able to, I wouldn’t be online in groups trying to find an answer about how to change things “for the better” instead of just being able to let them “rest in peace.”

It’s like a sick at heart wife who has been divorced who just can’t let go. Why I can’t let go of my biological family, parents, siblings, son… when it’s obvious it’s painful and destructive in so many ways. Why can’t I just “cut the cord” and be done with it? Raking myself over the coals and reviewing “the facts as I remember them” doesn’t change a thing, and with no input from the other side except “it’s all your fault” and I “won’t speak to you again” it leaves things in limbo forever it feels.

I went no contact to protect myself for over 30 years, but that didn’t mean I didn’t think about them all the time. There has to be a way to accept the death of a relationship and stop the constant wishing that “things will one day be different,” and “people will change,” when all evidence points to the contrary.

Why do we have such a strong seemingly unbreakable bond between most mother and child relationships? I know it’s built in to us in order for the species to survive; without it, would a mother protect their offspring with their very life if necessary to ensure that their children survive? Probably not. But why can’t (some of us) let go when we are “adults” and it’s clear the parents are not interested in making any changes to allow us to be heard? And the same for our own estranged children? I don’t know what this characteristic is… I know that I don’t keep wishing and hoping and picking things apart, including myself, trying to find out “what I could do differently” as if that would change things somehow. Even accepting all the blame and all the responsibility won’t bring peace and happiness to my only child and it won’t bring peace and harmony to my biological family. It would only bring myself in as an easily accessible scapegoat that they could once again tie to the whipping post. For that is what my role has been, and it’s one I am unwilling to resume.

But without that role I have no other, and that is what I am also unwilling to choose. So I continue to create my own misery, even as I understand their own characteristics will not allow them to behave any differently. So I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place, with no one to blame but my own. My own characteristics that keep me tied to people that don’t want me and don’t love me and don’t care about me and never did and never will. That’s what’s so hard to accept, I think. And how do I begin “healing” and cutting myself loose so that I can finally grow into adulthood, and separateness, even at my own late age? I am holding myself back, just as I did with my mother all those years. It wasn’t her that was making me miserable, it was my fantasy desires of having a loving caring mother that wanted me around that was making me so unhappy. That was never going to come true and it wasn’t until she died that I knew she “couldn’t hurt me any more.” But she wasn’t hurting me. My unfulfilled wishes and dreams were hurting me. Those dreams of the happy family that were never going to come true. Then when the same thing turned to dust with my only child, I “knew” I had only myself to blame. And I still do.

That’s the quandry I’m in. If it was just a matter of my “offering unsolicited advice,” or “trying to talk to him” or any of the other suggestions made from other people’s experience, I would try every single one. But I have and nothing has worked. I will take all the blame and all the responsibility if it would make things “alright.” But I can’t be anyone whipping post, not anymore. And when I am rejected on that basis alone, then I’m left in a real quandary and don’t know where to go.

I have to somehow come to see that other people’s opinion of me doesn’t make it true. I have to find the strength, courage and conviction inside of me to realize that people’s “opinions” are usually based on their own experience or motivations, and many times may not be positive for me or you. I don’t know what “tough love” as I don’t have it in me. I think I need to go back to “codependency school” and the AA meetings for family members. I am afraid I’ve taken up too much of people’s time here and I am apologizing for that.

Thank you to everyone that has contributed so much… at least I’ve been able to see people’s reactions that are similar to my own son’s and other reactions which lead me to believe that I must be missing something, and I will continue on my way. Thank God for prayer and the power of prayer, for with patience and prayer surely all things will come true. Eventually, on earth or in heaven, as the fates see fit.

There is no hurt on earth that Heaven cannot heal.
Dear God please show me The Way.


Catherine, well said….well done! You DO seethings clearly…and you do have strength in ways you are beginning to give yourself permission to use. You are very respectful and equal. Peace and comfort and joy to you!


Finally Free, thank you again so much… I was just getting ready to “stop following” this conversation, due to my ongoing fear and trepidation at being misunderstood, and then comes your comment. I have a hard time “seeing what you’re seeing,” but I thank you for it and I will continue to try to digest all that comes my way. I don’t know what else to say but I have to stop wishing and hoping, as “wishing will never make it so.” I have to move on to the next stage of true acceptance, that my family, my parents, and my own son will never be “the way I want them to be” and we will never have the relationship I wish we would have, and I have to stop thinking “could have” when it’s just not possible. That’s the difference, I think. Let them go, and let them go in peace.

Thanks again for your heart-felt comments. They’ve meant the world.


Catherine Todd, I’m sorry that you went through all that you did with your son. I want to reiterate that my comment was offered based on what it sounded like was happening and that I couldn’t interpret beyond my own experience. I then offered my own experience based on the reality of my relationship with my own mother. Because I believe reality is more important. I have no reference for what “any mother” would do or not do for their child. To me the word has become empty. I believe I was pretty clear where my assumptions were and where they ended.


Hi Zehava,
It is so shocking and hurtful when we find out that our own mothers are spreading lies about us. This tactic is about garnering support for themselves. (it is called “divide and conquer”) Healing for me was about realizing that this was HER issue and not mine. They were the parents. Children are not born with issues. It took me awhile, but the hurt heals. I hope you will stick around with us.
Hugs, Darlene


Just read your comments about reconciliation and I agree.
I think many parents want reconciliation as long as it is on their terms.. which is the same old one sided entitlement based issue I had before. I have also seen some parents who DO want reconciliation and you can tell the difference. (maybe the world can’t tell, but the child can)
I always say “If my mother has changed, I will be the first one to know” and that means ACTIONS speak louder than words.
Hugs, Darlene


Catherine, I haven’t had time to read every comment but your comments bring up something in my own life that doesn’t exactly fit the typical cycle of abuse scenario. My dad was very narcissistic, sociopathic, and abusive. I think he also, had a cyclical mood disorder. He abused my mom, his children, and his parents. If it weren’t for his parents influence in my life, I wouldn’t have had any good feelings about myself. I think I would have been too damaged to survive or even try to heal. I don’t think they abused him. I’m not saying he never had pain in his life or that he wasn’t abused by someone else, but not by his parents. Also, he made the choice to abuse. I think his personality disorder was neurologically predisposed, he did suffer childhood trauma, and his choice to manipulate and abuse set his disorder in concrete. It was his choice to abuse that made him a monster. Lots of times, I want a black and white answer for things but human behavior isn’t so black and white. In the end, we can only heal ourselves and offer what we’ve learned to others who want to heal. Aggressive, active abusers seldom want to heal. The only way to stop an abuser is to remove the victim. That is our choice in the face of their choice.

As parents, it is important to hold ourselves accountable for whatever wrongs we committed against our children but they are also, accountable for their own behavior. Especially, as adults. The best we can do for them is not to allow them to abuse us and encourage them in making good choices. I think my dad suffered at the hands of people outside the family and abused his parents because they were easy targets, the same reason he chose to abuse his wife and children. Aggressively abusive people are cowards deep down inside and they get a fix from hurting those who are weaker than themselves. They feel powerless and hurting someone ‘beneath’ them makes them feel powerful. It isn’t so complicated as we thinkers have a tendency to make it some times.:0)I’m not able to make peace with every aspect of this problem either but I have more peace that I used to when I tried to deny the problem. I hope you find some peace too.



Hi Catherine,
Something that strikes me is what you said about how you had believed healing wouldn’t happen without reconciliation. From what I gather, even if you received validation/recognition/reconciliation, that itself would not heal you (or the other person). Healing is a personal thing, something you can only do within yourself. Yes, others help (that’s why EFB helps), but others can’t heal you.

Something that also struck me when I read your account with your son is probably your son’s need to separate from you, to find himself, work through things in his own psyche for himself (whether he actually does that is a different story, who knows). Not meaning that anything he said/did was correct (and also not meaning that anything you did was incorrect) but I could feel in your account that need to separate for his own sake. You brought up co-dependency and I felt something of that, of something similar to stuff I’d gone through (though I was never the lashing out type; I mean more the psychological underpinnings), which is what brought me to your statement about believing that healing could only happen with reconciliation. This belief is rooted in a dependency. In other words you need the other person to behave in a way so that you can achieve something vital—to heal. Healing, however, is about becoming your own whole person, which is antithetical to that need to have someone behave in a certain way for you to become whole… The damage that was done to your son, I gather, came through the course of his childhood (regardless of what it was, regardless of who is at fault—and it’s important to note that fault and responsibility are two different things—and regardless of his “starting point,” i.e. predispositions or personality type or whatever). At this point, probably because he didn’t get the kind of help he needed as a child (or because of whatever, I don’t know), he is now a grown man in need of healing, who has chosen to separate from you, and it is for him to decide the course of his life and his healing, should he choose to heal or pursue healing (because some people don’t). All we have is ourselves. We cannot force anybody else. What you have is YOU and I hope for your healing because EVERYONE deserves to heal. It’s in everybody’s best interest. The more we heal, the more we work on ourselves, understanding how the concepts of equality and value apply, the more light will be shed on our relationships with others, I believe.

I hope that what I’ve said here is okay. I worry about getting into other people’s business. This thread has been draining and difficult for everyone, I think. It was an article about the hurt child, how EFB is on the side of the hurt child, and it’s hard. I know that there are many hurting mothers, ones that want to do right by their child, and my heart goes out to them, but the majority (if not all of us) are here because our mothers, regardless of what they may say about wanting reconciliation, or loving their child, or trying their best, still live in a world where they cannot put aside their own reality, where their wants and their needs, their pain and their misery take over what we actually would need and want from them as a parent, whose job it had been to take care of us, to help raise us (50/50 with our fathers) to be healthy, well-adjusted, functioning adults, but who instead harmed us, used us to meet their own needs, to try to fill their own holes inside their own souls because their parents did the same to them, and set us up to go out into the world and recreate these patterns, unless we ourselves learned to take the bull by the reins and learn how to heal ourselves, to the best of our abilities.


Catherine, I am so happy you didn’t retreat! I have found everything you have written for this articles blog to be extremely valuable and insightful. You have given me food for thought about much of what you have said…and you have said it so clearly and well. I hope that you will hang on here and keep voicing your feelings…they are as important as everyone else’s …even if sometimes misunderstood or even challenged or questioned. It’s great that you can pour out your feelings! When I first started visiting this site, I couldn’t stop pouring out all those years and years of bottled up feelings and thoughts that I had never truly been able to before. There can be such healing in that!


Aack, I have to fix this. I said “take the bull by the reins.” Horns, I met horns! Bulls don’t have reins! I live with my run-on-sentences and grammatical mistakes, etc., but that’s just too much.


Alaina, that was really well-articulated.


Yes Liz i know how you feel. to be truly forsaken by one’s own motber as your situation as in myn and so many of us here to be truly forsaken by our very own mother is just so much….there are no word to describe it and every day i wake up t in first instance i cry out for my mother not out loud but in my mind then i remember … that i really do not have a real mother and never have had and nowdays i accept that and carry on and console myself that at least even though i failed in some ways that i have made so much effort and honesty and allowed healing to occur between my own daughter and myself and that i did break the cycle almost and the almost part i take the blame for and have made it possible to infact make highlight of this whole abuse cycle and the importance of honesty to my child and so if when she has children this abuse cycle has a much higher chance of not being passed down. So i see us here as suffering our sufferings have been for a purpose we suffer without a mother for a purpose and that purpose is that we have made huge difference and improvement on mankinds spiritual evolution as we have taken on the pain and NOT PASSED IT ON AND iF HAVE PASSED some of it on we take responsibility for that so our pain is not for nothing we have made or will make a significant inpact on ubringing of our children and so on down our family lines our pain has a purpose we took the abuse and let it sit with us as painful as that has been and knowinig this purpose of this makes the pain tolerable and the cry for my mother turns into a good thing for mankind that we should be proud of having helped stop this abuse cycle


Thanks, Alice!
I probably shouldn’t have spoken for everyone though when I said that I thought this thread has been draining and difficult. I have found it that way, but I also chose and had some personal reason to want to participate and I don’t meant that there’s no value or insight in discussion—just that it’s been draining and difficult.

Something I know I’d require if my mother and I were to ever reconcile is that she heal herself first (also it’s the only way it would ever happen that she’d take the necessary steps toward reconciliation) because I believe it is inevitable that as long as she is broken, her desire to reconcile will be all mixed up in her own needs for self-worth and healing childhood wounds that have nothing to do with me, rather than the reconciliation really being about the damage she did to me and trying to make things right for my sake, not to help bring her balance in her self/life or the sake of her self-esteem and identity as a mother, which is what I feel is probably inevitable so long as mothers are still damaged from their childhood, believing at core that there is something wrong with them, that they are lesser—so that need to fill themselves up through their child… and, in the case of my mom, that inevitably got in the way of her ability to see me as my own person, etc. The same for my dad, essentially. It happens where there’s enmeshment and co-dependency. When your self-worth is broken, you tend to use anything around you to try to fill it up. It’s inevitable. I’ve done it in relation to others, too; I just don’t have children to have done it to them. The key is deciding to take responsibility for the damage. It’s nobody’s fault that someone else damaged them, but if the effects impact others and you are a grown-up, you are responsible for yourself and the choices you make. My parents seem to have made their choice, the easy way out, wanting to push things around to share the blame for what happened, without actually taking responsibility for specific mistakes, etc., wanting us to become all lovey-dovey, it’s okay, you’re okay, I’m okay, we’re all okay, I’m sorry, you’re sorry, we’re all sorry! We’ll “tweak” things, put up “boundaries” (their idea of boundaries, entirely based in day-to-day surface-level present reality, as though the past didn’t happen). No, f**k it, that’s NOT how it’s going to go down, not ever. That’s not equality-based. That’s not respect for a fellow human being whom they damaged. I am their daughter, yes, but before that, I am a human being, so if they can’t treat me like a distinct, equal human being, then I’m not their daughter, other than in DNA and title.


My mom is the mom everyone wanted as their mom, she is nice, polite, bakes, sews, helps anyone and does it with a smile.

She is quite good at pretending everything is all right, yet countless times I’ve been sideswiped by her and it takes days, weeks and months to recover.

For me this has been the hardest work to overcome the calculating ways of my mother and what she has done to me. All I wanted was for her to “want” to be my mom. Me “wanting” didn’t change a thing. My last attempt has been over a year ago, I went to her home to try and understand why all these years she has ignored me, been selfish, and never wanted to just be happy for me. It didn’t go well, she told me that she had thought long and hard about things and after she prayed about it, she’s done nothing wrong.

I told her I disagreed with her and left. It seemed for her so easy to say that, when in fact she has done so many mean things and never makes an apology for any of them. Further more, this is her problem not mine. Her mother was a mean nasty lady, so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, but I had hoped she would treat me different and not want her own daughter to feel the pain that she felt and the way she was treated, but apparently not.

When I moved into my first home, she would never visit, I thought somehow it was my fault, only to learn later from her no less that it was because my laundry room was on the main level of my home and her laundry room was in the basement where it was cold and she couldn’t deal with that. What mom doesn’t want to be happy for their child? Truth is many are, just like my mom.

For me, I will never have the mom I dream about, but I do have my own family and they love me to the moon and back, no question about that.


Alaina, I found this thread to be quite draining too but I think it worthwhile to discuss as a matter of understanding through everyone’s experiences. For that EFB is pretty exceptional since I’m not seeing factions of “parents vs the rotten kids” as mentioned elsewhere. Good for all of us!

Right before I went NC and during an nth argument about the space I needed from her, my mother used the “But you’re my daughter and I want to speak with you” non-argument to claim access to me (I say “used” because this is how I saw it go) negating my request in the process and in fact did continue to contact me even after that, as if I hadn’t ever made it.

This was her pattern, “mother” as concept overrides anything else. She also had a pattern of ending difficult discussions on her terms and then calling back as if nothing had ever happened between us but I think I’ve already mentioned that elsewhere.

So right there when she said it this time I was so angry at her for not respecting my wishes (and needs, for my father had died not long before and I couldn’t at that point deal on top of my own grief with my mother’s emotional dependency, her need for a compassionate ear at 3am or whatever else she needed me for then) that I yelled at her “I’m not YOUR anything!”. She was stunned into silence. I don’t think she really understood what I meant but *I* did.

That I am not “her” object to meet her needs with. I suddenly (after a long time) recognized that that’s exactly what I had been for her. (And I do think what she felt as a result of her needs being met by me was in fact some affection/love of a sort but it was wholly conditional on the former).

The counter example to her is my father (for all his passivity and his ‘stand with mother’ stance in our mother/Alice conflicts). Here was a person who, from when I was very small, gave me the impression that I WAS A PERSON. Not a “mini-me extension” or an object.

Turns out it is also a bit more convoluted than that. I ended up adopting so many of his interests and ways of being but I still believe he liked me for myself and not because I was like him or did anything for him in particular.


Hi Alice,
I think what’s hard for me is holding the other perspective. I get it. I think it was Catherine who talked about wanting both sides to be open to hearing where they were coming from. I think when we’re talking about the parent who has been scapegoated, where other people (an ex or the grandparents) have been involved in poisoning the child against the parent, it makes sense for the child to be open to hear that parent’s perspective (if the child is ready). But I’m coming from this place where the damage done to me was so much about my mom’s story. I had so much guilt around worrying my mom about having a breakdown. It was a betrayal to her to be impacted by the way she treated me. If I loved her and cared about her, I wouldn’t be suicidal. If I loved her and wanted her to have the happiness she deserved, I would just be able to know that she didn’t mean to harm me, but she needs to treat me however she needs to, and she wants what she wants from me, and after all she loves me, so I should do XYZ because anybody who loves their mother (and is loved by their mother) does XYZ, etc.

I feel like I’m just in place where, while I can understand there’s another reality—they are the way they are for a reason and good on those who are taking responsibility—I need to put aside that other perspective, no matter how legitimate their experience is in how they tried, etc. It just doesn’t help me. It bogs me down.

When I cut off contact with them the first time, I told them it was for my health and I hoped that they would respect that. My mom responded wondering where my respect was for them. I explained further. My relationship with her and my dad’s opinions about my relationship with her was a trigger to wanting to cut myself. Even after explaining this, my dad sent me a long email all about his thoughts on my relationship with my mom (I guess because I had talked about it, he felt he could—he counted how many times I used the word mom). About a week later, I told him how he had hurt me, put my health at risk and broke my heart that he would do that after I’d explained how it was trigger. He sent me a heartfelt apology but somehow I knew if we went through the same thing, he would respond in the same manner. It’s funny—that poem you linked, which is a great poem, he sent me in his apology. Maybe to send himself the message, like talking to himself, or maybe by trying to show that he believes in that stuff, then I would then want to “naturally” come back to them and give them again what they wanted, which was really the opposite of the ideas in that poem… my parents are people who can validate and invalidate within a second or even at the same time. So I got this apology, but when I reconnected and brought up my issues with them, wondering if they cared about me as a person in my own right and not just as the person who filled the role of daughter, my dad went off—all about how ironic he found that because where was my care for them. How he couldn’t believe how I’d treated them and my brother and my nephew and by that he just meant me cutting off from them, which they all knew I did so that I wouldn’t die. I hadn’t even been in the least bit aggressive or “lashing out” in my cutting off. I’d done it in as passive a fashion as I could. He went on and on. I could barely read it. I nearly lost my life because of the extent to which I cared. My mom wouldn’t face how deep her depression was and that she needed help. She wouldn’t face that she was leaning on me and wouldn’t let me go. She wouldn’t face that she was holding me hostage explicitly because I cared, because I didn’t want her to kill herself. I didn’t want her to blame herself. And because my dad, he made it out like I was this terrible person if I wasn’t caring for them and their pain, even if I was dying. I started sobbing when I found out I was going to be an aunt because I was so happy I hadn’t died and would have a chance to be an aunt, but I should never have been brought to that point in my life. And it’s just this horrible accusation to live with—that because I made the decisions necessary to save my own life, because they weren’t willing to stop trying to keep me in place as their emotional crutch, somehow that means I don’t care or don’t understand. I was the child, you know? That’s what I have a hard time with. I get the parents’ angle, but I was the child. I listened and heard them my whole life. I just wanted them to hear me.

Sorry, I know I’ve totally repeated myself from previous posts. I got worked up.


Dear God in heaven, FinallyFree, I can’t believe what you’ve said and I’m reading it again and again. I was terrified to come back here after “letting it all out” for so long and with so much and I was in a state of almost Post-Traumatic-Shock for the whole rest of the night after writing in such detail about all that had gone on so many years ago. It was like I was right back there, “re-living it all” and it wasn’t a pretty picture. It just broke my heart all over again. I had been told early on in this discussion that “this might not be the right place for me to be” so I keep waiting for the shoe to drop and to find myself chastised again or blocked, but it hasn’t happened yet. And I still feel that I am so “off-topic” since this website is for damaged children due to parental abuse, and I’m a hurt child and a hurt mother, so I don’t know that I really fit in.
But there seem to be so many of us here, that I’m gaining some real perspective from BOTH SIDES, which is what I’ve been saying all along… it takes two to tango and as adults, we all have to see our own part in it.

I haven’t read many of the comments except yours so far, as I saw some people talking about how this thread has been so “draining and difficult” and of course I immediately blamed myself for this! And thought “aha, that PROVES you don’t belong here! You talking and talking and talking about all this stuff” and then I went back and re-read your comment (which I am posting again here) and thought OK, deep breath now, take it slow and read through all the comments slowly and don’t blame myself right off the bat anyway… so I’ll do this tomorrow, as I’ve been travelling since 3:00 a.m. and am now “home” in Central America and can finally get some sleep. I turned off the “following” notice as I was afraid to come back after having to explain myself (again) and was afraid to see what unexpected response or conclusion would be come to after whatever I had written during my re-inspection and re-interment of “the bones of my past” and they are white bleached and shaky from the sun and the wind and nothing yes nothing has changed… no matter how I twist and turn them and pile them or knock them down, “what happened” doesn’t change and I have no more enlightenment than I did before, no matter how much I try to rearrange things and see them “in a different light.” Death still comes and it doesn’t go. It stays and there’s nothing I can do to revive it.

That’s the problem with lack of communication. You don’t know what happened to make the relationship die, but die it did and all I have left is grief. And the bones don’t lie and the bones don’t speak; they lay there in the hot desert sun with the wind howling all around and they keep their own kind of peace. And now I have to find a shovel for all I have are my fingertips and it’s truly time to bury the dead. Dear God please, just show me How.

FinallyFree, here’s what you wrote (and it’s going up on my wall!):

October 1st, 2014 at 9:37 am
Catherine, I am so happy you didn’t retreat! I have found everything you have written for this articles blog to be extremely valuable and insightful. You have given me food for thought about much of what you have said…and you have said it so clearly and well. I hope that you will hang on here and keep voicing your feelings…they are as important as everyone else’s …even if sometimes misunderstood or even challenged or questioned. It’s great that you can pour out your feelings! When I first started visiting this site, I couldn’t stop pouring out all those years and years of bottled up feelings and thoughts that I had never truly been able to before. There can be such healing in that!”

Wow. I am so glad to be here and to be reading these words. I can hardly believe them, but here they are in black and white and they aren’t going anywhere. Just like those beloved bones I still carry, rattling around in my backpack, white and gleaming in the moonlight or the sun. Bones none the less. It’s time to find a peaceful burial ground.


Catherine, I wanted to address what you have brought up about your son. You told everything so clearly and I appreciate all the sharing you have done. I haven’t brought him up because I don’t know how to comment on that type of pain you are experiencing. I am sorry for all you are suffering though! Relationships can be so complicated and unpredictable, no matter how hard we try. Even though I don’t know what to write, I DO think it is great that you are finding your voice. :). Peace and joy to you!


Alaina, I do understand your position. I think had it not been for my father’s attitude I would have been way worse off. I will comment further later as it is a bit late for me but I wanted you to know I had read it.
Catherine Todd, yes it is great that we can come to understanding. The cliche that “it takes two to tango” in the context of these relationships which are asymmetrical (as in one party has more power or ascendency than the other to begin with) is patently wrong as a statement. In a relationship between two equals, yes I would say it does take two to tango. Will get back to you on the rest too as I have to head out!


Catherine, I must have posted my last comment…#348 just immediately before you wrote your last one! I can relate with those terrifying feelings after writing such personal and private family issues for all the world to see….and taking the risk of whatever type of comments should follow! It is a brave thing to do when you are finally finding your own voice and releasing pent up feelings and thoughts and emotions. Taking the risk of being misunderstood…and also needing to write really long comments as you pour out everything… did rattle my nerves at first too! But the important thing for me was to keep pouring it all out anyway, despite what anyone thought or didn’t think. I had the opposite thing that you have….everyone gives you feedback, and I rarely received any except Darlenes!! Lol. As for those old bones…..I wish you peace and relief of mind and heart as you bury them! You DO deserve to have that!


Don’t blame yourself for “draining and difficult.” It’s just the subject matter for me. I hope that if you read my post 346, you’ll understand. There’s no two to tango with my parents—I was just a victim who gave myself over to my parents and when I tried to stand up for me in the only way we could save a relationship and me still save my life, I was a victim some more. I think you understand that with how you were treated as the daughter. I feel your pain as daughter and mother and am glad that you are pursuing healing here on EFB. Everyone deserves to belong and this is a good place. I’m just rather exhausted. It was so hard holding onto my dad’s accusation that I didn’t care about them, think about them and how they feel, etc., not to mention things that were blamed on my personality and gender, or all the things that I should have done to do my part in fixing the relationship, even though I gave them my whole life, my whole self, that I’d end up curled in a ball wanting to cut myself because nothing was ever enough.

I’m glad that you stuck around and that letting stuff out helped you. I think I’ve said before that I believe in communication, as long as no one’s being abusive. It’s just hard. I can’t hold the parent position for too long without it affecting me. It’s not a blaming you thing. This is the best place I know of to heal and part of your healing was a need to let all that out and I would NOT want to be the person who said no to that because you have every right to heal. And as I also said, I chose to follow and comment on the thread. There was some reason and a value and insight in doing so. I am not an abusive person. I lost my own voice a long time ago and I worked so hard to get it back. I don’t believe in silencing people’s voice (unless they are abusing someone). This was just a hard experience for me. At first I was okay but eventually it got to me.


Hi Catherine
I am not sure what your “it takes two to tango’ means. My mother says things like that to me. That is why it can be such a hot button when a hurt mother starts saying certain things about the child she says ‘hurt her’ in this website. You said earlier that your son was born a rageaholic. And so many of us here have been told that we were ‘born’ with something wrong with us, and blamed for the way that they treated us so the hot button is because WE have been accused of this stuff. Even though your situation may be different, there are certain things that can really stir up some difficult feelings in the people here who have been rejected by our parents and then blamed for it.
I really want everyone to be able to work their stuff out here, and I welcome hurt mothers but it really worries me when a mother blames her child for the failure in the relationship here on this blog. It causes harm. I know that every situation is different. Many mothers have lost their kids to high end sneaky abusers who ‘got to them’ and turned them against their moms. And many mothers have admitted their own part in the difficulties in the relationships and all that is okay, but please be careful about sharing here things like ~ that it takes two to tango when referring to a mother child relationship ~ specifically and especially because it hurts the adult children here. I would really appreciate it if you can consider this.
Hugs, Darlene


There is a really good article which on first instance may seem unfair to the ‘estranged parent but it is after i have spend 2 years trying to solve this painful situation it is in fact correct i feel that it is true that despite all he other factors even if from an outside influence or hurt from third party that still if there is estrangement then it is still the parents fault even if it is just that they will not let their adult child have voice & validation to the adult child’s feelings of hurt and a parent needs to listen and hear it.

This article needs to be read at least 3 times over by an estranged parent before they have a chance to understand it without taking offence (the defensive low self value perception kicks in) as even when i read it i dieagreed the first time but this article was KEY as well as Dr coleman’s advice in terms of healing my relatioinship with my estranged child.


I never liked cliches, especially ” it takes two to tango”. Maybe it takes two to do that particular dance, but the phrase doesn’t apply well to relationships. When there is a problem in a relationship, sometimes both parties contributed to it, but, there are many instances where one party was completely innocent. When my mother smacked me because she was in a bad mood, I was not tangoing; I was the innocent victim of an angry woman. When she called me ugly and other nasty things, I did not contribute to that. It was mean spirited and I would have been justified in expressing anger at that ( I froze instead but that’s a story for another day) And when I was older and she fought with a relative and tried to drag me in and got angry when I didn’t, who was to blame for that? I didn’t contribute to any of those abusive situations so it just took one to tango. I really dislike cliches because they are often taken as if they are fact and mistakenly applied to many circumstances that just don’t fit.

Another on my dislike list is Forgive and Forget. I know we’ve had many discussions on here about that one!

What I love about EFB is that I learn a lot from reading about other peoples’ experiences and ideas, and that I feel safe and comfortable expressing my own feelings here. Sometimes something we say may be a trigger for someone else. We’ve had some of that on this thread, but I’ve also seen a lot of reaching out and trying to understand other people’s situations and viewpoints. I think that’s great! Wishing everyone on here all the best in their healing journeys.


I identify and agree with what Amber has said. I also think people tend to forget that as children, where is the tango? Really, what is the tango about? We were children who live under the guidance and/or control of our parents. When we grow up and become adults, maybe, here is where I can possibly entertain ‘tango’. I really think, that most dysfunctional parents believe that they have *had* this connected relationship with their children, when in reality, it has been that of a dictatorship. SO, for all intensive purposes, there was NEVER really an autonomous relationship. We were children and had to do as they said. And, I find it convenient that now as adults, now, there is an expectation of a relationship. If a healthy effort isn’t ever attempted nor fostered, how on earth is there any expectation of a healthy relationship? As usual, there are never any answers for this, just accusations.

I have to add, Beggars can’t be choosers!! I hate this one, this sets one up to never expect that things could ever be good. And that all I am entitled to is the leftovers or trash. I hate this one!


Just to clarify things, I wrote “it takes two to tango” in regards to ADULT relationships, NOT child / parent.

If it were possible to go back and edit my comment, I would either correct this or delete the comment. But that’s not possible. So, once again, please accept my apologies for triggering anyone or expressing an unpopular or misunderstood “cliche.” I really try hard to edit my comments for anything that I think will be found “unacceptable” but as usual I often fail.

So to that end, I am thanking everyone for their input and wish everyone well in their journey to healing. I hope this with my sincerest intentions and I’m sure that with websites like this, understanding will continue to come.

“Dear God please show us The Way.”


PS: Thank you to the person who posted the link to the article “Why Is Estrangement Always the Parent’s Fault?” I’m reading it now, and will read it at least the three times you suggest. Probably more. Gracias, amiga.


Hi Catherine,
Thanks for clarifying ~ I think everyone thought that it was in relation to your son because so much of what you have talked about in this thread has been about being a hurt mother. I got several private emails about that comment which is why I decided to write what I wrote. I didn’t write it just for you ~ the article is called ‘when a mother says she is the victim of her adult children’ and this has been a difficult conversation for so many that I wanted to clarify again what our primary focus is here.
Hugs, Darlene

To the people who started reading recently, and didn’t understand my comment to Catherine, please feel free to go back and read from the beginning and please remember that I see this blog “from the back end” which means that I see what is shared in a whole picture and not just a fragment of that picture. On of my primary concerns is not to cause hurting people more hurt because nothing stops healing faster than that. And I want healing for everyone, not just the hurt children. I see a whole picture when it comes to healing; I want healing for my parents but they don’t want it so I went ahead and healed without them.

Thanks everyone for all your understanding and patience and for your input!
Hugs, Darlene


Everything is so interesting to read here. Everyone experiences hurt feelings in their lives. But to decide not to have a person in your life anymore….you have to be extremely hurt. No one does something like that on a whim. I was no contact with my father for almost two years. He kept reaching out; so I wrote him a letter telling him again how I felt. I told him he could call me and I would answer the phone. He called me very soon after getting my letter. We had a polite conversation with no mention of the letter. It was fine. I don’t know if I will visit him.

Both of my parents hurt me by doing a lot of ignoring me; yet nagging me to visit them. My mother has been deceased for fifteen years. One of the last comments she made to me was, “I guess it took me to get sick to have you come to see me.” I had always visited them at least once a year. Many times I was living on the opposite side of the country, and still made a visit.

I am not a parent. I never figured out what my parents wanted out of me. I always did what I wanted to do. I suppose that was one thing they didn’t like about me. I did not make the choices they would have made for me.

I will see how this deal progresses with my dad. I told him in my letter why I thought there was never going to be a relationship again with his other daughter, my sister. She is just as mean as our mother. My dad has said in the past that my sister is a lot like mother. Our mother always favored my sister. Our dad continued this after mother’s death. I thought things would be different/better after mom died. Things stayed the same and even got worse dealing with my family.


I am sure my mother thinks I am being unnecessarily difficult regarding her last attempt to “reconcile” with me. It’s always been easy in the past. I did as she asked, met with her, gave her a watered down, safe version of my grievances. Cried while she tried, unsuccessfully to withhold her laughter. She would dismiss or downplay what little I had said. Explain something from her childhood or from her perspective. Then we would hug and say “I love you.” From all appearances, some kind of cheesy, easy movie ending.

This time, she came in demanding me to speak with her. Even, at one point, threatening to come over if I “didn’t think of a better solution.” I refuse to meet her face to face because I have a history of becoming a docile, compliant little girl who wants nothing more than to please mother again. And I become protective of HER! I water down everything in order to not hurt her. I try to not hurt her. I have always tried to not hurt her because she couldn’t handle it. And because, when I was younger, it just wasn’t safe.

Knowing all of this, I’m not sure how I would handle her. I cried and cried when she first started demanding because I felt like I had to comply with her demand to talk face to face. But something reached up out of me and said NO. I’m not going to do it. I don’t have to do anything she says. I have the right to protect myself. I have the right for things to happen on my terms.

Now, I am unbending. I have told her that if she doesn’t want to start out with email, if it’s too painful for her, than maybe it’s not time to try. I have yet to hear from her.

I bent for her all my life. I submitted. I revised myself in order to have her in my life. I had written her an outline of how things would happen, giving her lots of my emotions in the process the day she called and left a voice mail saying she loves and misses me. And that it would be “easy” we just have to sit down and talk things out and “heal” our relationship. So things can get back to status quo, right? I wrote that message and gave too much, again. It assumed that she would do as I requested. Email me back. It assumed that she cared about the real me, not the me I have been presenting to her all these years. I woke much earlier the next morning, churned up, with a song by Edie Brickell running through my head over and over and over again. “What would you do, If you were me? When it’s suicide to stay, and murder to leave.” I knew I couldn’t send that original email giving away so much. I rewrote it. I simply told her the only way I will have contact with her at this point is through email.

It’s just that “love” really isn’t enough for me anymore. She has been a shadow over me, a weight on my back all my life. She has no idea who I even am. And I’m not willing to be a watered down version anymore. It’s not good for me, it’s not good for my kids. Principles do matter. Their not just lofty things that we throw around and dispose of when it’s convenient. It’s important to me what all this means now. It hasn’t been in the past because I lived on the surface. I took her words at face value and didn’t look at what it really meant for me. It’s all simple and manageable to her. I’m just a doll who had doll things happen to her. She doesn’t get that I could feel she didn’t want me as a kid. She doesn’t get that feeling fueled everything for her, the way she treated me. She tried to hide it, but I was a victim of the lie she was telling herself. She skated on the edge of danger with me and let me fall, not bothering to pick me up and make sure I was ok. She just kept skating there.

I am being difficult. I am standing my ground. The only way I will ever have a relationship with her again is if she goes through the pain and suffering of healing authentically. She needs to develop some kind of empathy and compassion for me. That’s what’s always been missing and turned around in our relationship. It’s not worth it to me anymore to protect her. Submitting to her is just that, submitting. Letting myself go back into the shadows. It used to be that the pain of not having her in my life was too much. Now, the pain of having her in my life, is too much.

I wish her well. I even pray for her, for her sake, not our relationship’s sake. If she chooses to take this path, it will be hard. But, I will not waste my emotions on believing she will choose healing. When I first started with this current and probably final estrangement, I resisted the urge to run in and fix things by telling myself, “She is not meant to be in your life right now.” I know now, maybe never again. That’s ok.

“This little light of mine; I’m going to let it shine.” 😉


Jaimee, it must be extraordinarily painful to have someone unsuccessfully suppress laughter when you show them your pain. Your mom is very cruel and controlling, in my opinion. I would have an extraordinarily hard time wanting to see or talk to someone again who had done that to me even once. No one has ever done that to me, even with the abuse I have suffered. Yes, I have been gaslighted galore, been minimized, patronized, mocked, and scoffed at, and that was a helluva hurt. But to be laughed at? Wow. Just wow.


Dear all
this thread continues to enthral me. I have thoroughly enjoyed some comments such as Alice 320 and Amber 354 as these speak directly to my feelings. My heart has been wrung with the shared experiences and I have followed the various links.

Some thoughts:
1) if we are too frightened to be ourselves with our mothers, then they don’t know who we are. How can we say to them that as we are recovering and can be more and more ourselves, they should expect to see someone they do not know and need to respect, to keep any kind of adult relationship? Doesn’t it sound like a naughty child?

2) I was appalled by the Dr Coleman link. The fact he needs to go on and on to the parents about how unfair it will all seem to them …. well, it says a LOT about his audience, is all I can say. They really must be the most un-insightful-about-themselves people if they think housing and feeding a child means they can trample on their child’s feelings and personality, set out agenda for their children’s lives, etc etc, with impunity. I suppose the point is to bring the parents to the point where they can see that, but still, the starting point seemed incredible to me.

3) In following the links about estrangement, I found another link
which speaks to my past and current situation.
My family dysfunction created a situation in which I was simultaneously the golden child for one parent and one grandparent and therefore the whipping girl for everyone else, without a doubt I paid for every nice comment from one person with a torrent of abuse from everyone else. I myself was lost in all of this. My grandmother loved me as I inherited her genes wholesale. It had absolutely nothing to do with who I was inside. I was lost in the endless having to take the blame for everything and setting a good example, while being systematically hated. And all the while my mother REFUSED to allow me to express any negative emotion, else risk ostracism or other punishment.

4) I think children really do understand the force of circumstances which make for difficulties. I really did understand my mother being a young adult in the “women’s lib” years and wanting to develop her talents, and how hard t was for women in general then and with my father coming from a pre-women’s lib generation. THAT I understood, and I believed we did, as children support her totally. BUT did that give her the right to refuse to be kind when I was troubled? I really do not think so.

all best


I agree completely with Eira 361 who writes,

“Jaimee, it must be extraordinarily painful to have someone unsuccessfully suppress laughter when you show them your pain. – See more at:

I have experienced this -a line manager at work got the giggles when he made me cry- and I never got over it. They can be pretending to themselves all they like about how wonderful they are, but this reveals the truth — I know what that person really is. But when a family member does this, you feel compelled somehow to think it wasn’t really like that, you must have misunderstood.


Thank you for your empathy. It’s amazing the things one can stuff in order to go with the status quo, in order to survive. I couldn’t see the reality of what she was doing for a long time. I accepted the presented illusion of her as a trusted authority figure who had my best interests at heart, though I felt the dissonance in my heart. It feels good to validate reality.

I know now that she was just an emotionally stunted little girl, not understanding her dollie was a real person, and shocked and surprised (maybe even delighted) that she had that kind of power over me. I’ve always intuitively sensed her inability to deal with emotions, but couldn’t put words to it until the last few years.

I actually feel sad for her that she doesn’t really have the ability to empathize or have compassion for me (or anyone, I think). But, I can feel sad for her without trying to comfort, change, or fix her.


I was just so used to it, I didn’t recognize that anything might be wrong with it. She’s been laughing at my pain, including pain she caused since I was very small. It’s sad, but relieving that I couldn’t see what she really was until adulthood, really until I had my own kids.


Re the Coleman link i offered this in hope that as some estranged parents are involved in this discussion that it may have been of benefit to them. I’m sorry if you found his advice downputting perhaps or in anyway of invalidatiion or similar to the child’s perspective. All i can say is that if my parents had taken even a little bit of true care to resolve our relationship as in pay and attend any type of estrangement advice then maybe i wouldn’t be the abondoned & rejected adult child that i am and that despite the physical (fahter) and sexual (mother yes mother) abuse that as i don’t get a second chance at another set of parents that it would of showed that they did at least love me a bit yet they don’t give a damm i am a bit of rubbish they threw away to save their false image. I however paid for some of his seminars which allowed me to identify that i was not allowing my child the voice without reacting and being over defensive etc… and it was what i needed to hear. obvously he is coming in from the estranged adult perspective he himself having also suffered the pain of estrangement from his adult child and there are obviously two sides to every story even though i do agree and stand by the child’s side now in hindsight but he has to at least appeal to the adults’ perspective initially to get them to listen to try to help them out of their pain the pain that both sides are in regardless of whose ‘fault’ it is and i do rest on it being the adults parents fault without a doubt as i am on both sides of this situation alienated from my entire family for disclosing abuse shunned by all nieces nephews siblings and they tell my child im mad yet now at least the relationship is healing between my child and I.


Catherine i think it is comendable that you are putting effort into trying to find answers and don’t give up on this. i think many on this forum might wish that their parents as well would take at least some care as you have to try to fix the situation and i feel that there is a difference in those parents that do try to many that we here are victim to that would only make at the best a show of trying but have no true intention. I would however avoid bringing ‘God
into it in terms of phrases etc as many here may have had God phrases used by their abusers in attempts to excuse their abuse or similar and really it is the individual person & the efforts they make not God that is going to help any of this


Maria, it was a really interesting link that Coleman one. Comments are illuminating to some degree.

As far as considering any responsibility for hurting me; when I pushed her for it, my mother only admitted to “nobody’s perfect”, “that was the done thing at the time” (referring to locking a crying child outside in the dark and rain for crying) “I could have handled some things differently” (no specifics), and the intellectually lazy and emotionally abusive “I’m sorry you chose to see it that way Alice”.

If I could kill cliches with a handknife, they’d all be dead this minute. This is a bit of dark humor:) but my hatred for them is real. And I question, who actually uses cliches in any serious manner in situations like these? I suspect people abusing (and that could be anyone) who get called on it do.

My grandmother (her mother) once noted when I was around 11 or 12 that “You used to be such a happy smiling child, I don’t like you as much now” Although that could have been down to senility, it still hurt and perhaps gives an insight into how my own mother got hurt. I know my grandmother ran away from her own family so likely she was also hurt. But when I asked my mother about her childhood my mother insisted she had been very happy.

So I even tried giving her this “out.” I suggested that maybe her mistreatment of me was down to having had a miserable childhood herself but she denied it.

Is it possible that a person with a happy childhood abuses their own kids? Do people who become parents become so unconscious of pain that they can then insist with actual belief that it is their *children* who are to blame for it? Or to the contrary, that only their children meeting their needs can solve it? I’m down to wondering if there might not be some evolutionary benefit to this ability to be so unconscious. I do not believe in “God”.

I’m not a parent (by choice to a great extent (see earlier post) but also because I saw how much of a burden my mother felt having kids was and I can’t shake that idea. And also because she wanted me to “get married/have kids” so much (why? If it was such a burden?) that I refused just to piss her off. One of the rare times I could assert myself. And tbh, I also feel any potential kids of mine have dodged a bullet.) but I do have experience of thinking the right relationship can save me (Darlene, you also mention this in your book) or that a job will, or that a move will, or that I can improve myself enough so I’ll be loved finally.


About the laughing at other people’s pain—I’m not sure what to make of myself exactly, other than I think I was hysterical, but at my last job (that was not good for my health at all), one of my co-workers came into work one day with a bad back. He was young (20-21). I felt bad at first, expressed sympathy, but later on he was stretching out on the wall in front of me, looking at me in pain, trying to solicit more sympathy, I guess, and I just started laughing and I couldn’t stop. I still think of it and feel like I should feel bad but I don’t, just this nervy feeling in my chest, or that I should feel ashamed of myself, and I guess thinking of what other people might think of me makes me feel shame, or feel that I should feel it, but it’s not an internal shame. I worked a whole month there with a bad back. I was working 10-12 hour days, rarely taking breaks. There were two cooks but it was really more a job for one and a half people, so this cook didn’t have to work very hard. It was only about four months after I’d moved here to a new city after all my relationships with family broke into pieces. When I finally collapsed from this work experience, I was sobbing and laughing hysterically for hours (at home), also with this constant bombardment of images of cutting my arms open. The next morning I could barely keep myself standing, and I didn’t ever go back into work. (I’d already given my notice but I was trying to give the boss however much time he needed to replace me; I’d also asked to work part-time 2 months prior to having given my notice but I was still working 10-12 hours and having mental health issues, which I’d already informed my boss about–mostly as a means to quit the job without him putting me through too much guilt-tripping and other manipulations he was prone to doing). It was a very immature and unhealthy environment. When I started laughing, the cook sort of ran away from me and then the boss ran after him yelling “Alaina just got a raise!” Sick. I still have no capacity to feel anything for him, though. I wanted to apologize later but I didn’t even—I guess because I didn’t feel what I would need to feel to give an apology and thought it’d just be phoney or something. Another co-worker made a comment about how I was becoming increasingly sadistic. It’s horrible but I can’t even reach that place where I can feel bad. It’s like I crossed a line. I should at least feel bad for laughing, if I can’t muster up empathy for his bad back, but I can’t even do that. I think about the event and still just feel the echo of the feeling I had, just this nervy thing, hysteria, I guess. Anyway, feel free to think I’m an awful person for that. In my brain, I understand it’s probably terrible to have laughed (notice I can’t even say it is terrible, I have to say it’s “probably” terrible…) but I really feel nothing toward that end. I can’t even make myself feel that I’m an awful person… I do know that working in a new environment, where things are good and stable, everyone is nice, and I’m not being exploited, I wouldn’t behave that way to any of my co-workers. It’s just not something that would happen. They’re all super nice to me and basically I love them, so no I can’t even imagine.


Sometimes I think people just marginalize their childhood pain, like they’ve separated from it so much and can say that it’s just a part of childhood, that’s the way it is, and why maybe they can talk about it being “your choice to see it that way.”

Like you can just stop looking at it from the child perspective of your pain.

If you take up the abusive parent mentality instead, it gives you a leg up in power dynamics; you can be an equal to your abusive parents, instead of the one down of being their victim. Not really, of course, but on the surface. Just accept that treatment as a part of what being a child is… that kind of thing… but in the process you’ve divorced yourself from yourself.

Not sure, that’s just what came to mind reading your post.


Yes Darlene. Your comments are right. It takes 2 to tango etc. My father seriously emotionally abused me. All my mother used to say to me is ‘oh you two didn’t get on’ .As though I was half to blame.It filled me with terrible guilt that I was half to blame for the abuse. How can a child get on with someone who abuses them. Plus I spent my whole life trying to please him. Putting up with the cheap jibes. Example when taking a picture with the dog, he said I know who looks better etc. My mother said he did love me really. So I tried extra hard to find that bit. But he was so horrible to me in pregnancy I became seriously unwell and nearly lost my child.Is this what she means by not getting on? When he was dead I said about me paying for counselling to improve our relationship. Now she’d inherited a lot of money so was rich compared to me.But if I asked her to pay she would have said ‘oh I can’t afford it’ she declined so I ceased contact. I expect she plays the victim and tells people how I stopped her seeing her grandkids. Because I wouldn’t accept her denial she got nasty and stole off them.


I dont think a child brought up in a non abusive enviionment would abuse their own children. Abuse is on a continum however also in the middleages it was deemed appropriate for father to have right to kill first born, children were kept in the cellars & parents were encoraged to empty their demons onto their children as a way of purging. I researched this to try undrstand where did this stuff come from. This purging is an effective but ignorant evil way to transfer hurts, bad energy or evil whatever want to call it but it is a transfer of negative stuff burdening an innocent providing a degree of control to the abuser who had felt powerless as a child or maybe providing relief? I guess compare it to the feeling of swearing at someone who cuts you off in traffic do you feel a sense of release by swearing at them i mean im not sure how physical or sexusl abuse of a child could give an abuser release im trying to understand as i did not pass abuse on i turned it inward. Still not right way to deal with this bad energy abuse effect but you see it has to go somewhere its an energy. I believe love forgiveness overcoming of ignorance by being open to exploring the whys all that stuff the good energy stuff that will defuse the evil energy.


For me it’s not the why abuse happens—I understand that pretty well in my own experience. What I don’t get and have the hardest time accepting is why people don’t care, and I don’t even mean so far as empathy. I mean why they refuse to recognize that there’s something wrong, even if they can’t really feel it. Why they can’t say, ok, yes, I did that, and it has hurt this person and that it’s not good to hurt people, especially once the person has explained the impact and the degree to which their life has been effected. At that point, if you still can’t feel anything toward the person, I can’t understand why you can’t be honest with yourself and the other person, and say something is wrong with me and want to seek healing, etc… I know it’s easier to blame the other person in the moment, but how can it settle inside you as something ok?


Alaina, I think it’s denial. They don’t want to admit to you or to themselves that there is a problem. It’s easier to project the blame on to someone else and then they don’t have to deal with the pain of knowing they have a problem or deal with the problem itself. I think that was the big issue with my mother. Someone else was always to blame and she came up with some really distorted stories sometimes to put another person in the wrong.


Alaina i believe when a person refuses or is unable to acknowleadge see the harm they have caused it is then as per s.Pecks People of the Lie , it is at this point that evil by either choice or deep seated incorrect behaviour or s.Peck says an illness called evil kicks in. There is no pain to surpass ones own mother doingvthis to her child. What is the benefit to you from this pain. Tfor the deapth of pain you have the equal deapth of recognising and giving true love beyond ehat you we were caoable of prior this level of pain experienced


Alaina, in answer to your comment #373, speaking from my own experience, some people seem to project every problem onto others out of fear of looking at their own real selves. They cannot bear the idea that perhaps THEY could be imperfect, fallible human beings instead of their own cherished, manufactured, perfect image of themselves. I see this false sense of self so clearly in my mother and sister, among others: they live in a world entirely of their own making and they soothe and comfort each other with mutual ego-stroking behavior whenever one or the other is perturbed about something that may not reflect them in a positive light. They spin stuff (negative stuff about others) to make fun of and tear apart those who don’t pay them tribute. It’s all about their lofty ideals about themselves that they imagine to be true. Nothing else matters. But that’s just my two cents.


Elsie, you have described this perfectly! I have been doing so much introspective work that I haven’t commented much this week, but thank you! Sometimes there is so much chaos it is hard for me to see clearly, but you have put what I have been trying to pull together this week in a nutshell!Your insight is so appreciated!



I agree with Kaycee that you put this so perfectly. My mother had a false sense of self. My sister is like her. After mother died, my sister took up where she left off. My sister tore me apart many times. I had to call it quits. No contact. I was supposed to pay tribute to both of them. My sister thinks she is better that every one else. Our mother taught that to both of us. I knew it was wrong, but my sister believed it.


Alaina, it is down to just how ingrained their belief about their place and the child’s place are. In my mother’s case, there’s a belief that the child cannot have pain that is caused in any legitimate nature by the parent rather it is caused by the child’s own immaturity of perception, their selfishness and later by their choices to refuse their duty and (in the case of daughter) their place (last) in the family hierarchy.
To even ask for equality is punishable as “rebellion”. And to reject duty if it doesn’t fit with one’s own wishes for a good life is to be labelled as unloving.
I believe that for my mother to even acknowledge my pain as being other than self-generated or deserved as my punishment she would have had to see me otherwise, as being of equal value in the first place. There are branches of cognitive science that deal with the refusal to change belief (and even its reinforcement) in the face of evidence. The same thing happens in cults when the space saviors fail to arrive on the stated date. The belief becomes even more ardent and a multitude of excuses for the non arrival of the space saviors are found. To What extent this is a “choice” is debateable because choice implies consciousness of one’s behavior and thoughts. If my mother believes hard as nails all the BS she does then there’s nothing I or anyone else can do about it.


Thanks for the replies, everyone.

The idea of it being about image is what I concluded initially after I tried and failed to get through to my mom. The difference between what she was willing to recognize and what I was wanting her to recognize was one that I can see would impact greatly on her appearance (or rather her idea of her appearance). For me the experience was an outpouring of pain; for her, my words came across as accusations. She said at one point that she could choose to see herself as evil or she could choose to see herself as a human being with imperfections, or who has made mistakes (I can’t remember the exact wording) and that she preferred to consider herself as human, etc.

That’s pretty much how she dismissed the truth. I wasn’t even thinking about it in terms of how it reflected upon her, because appearances are not something that matter to me in the face of extreme pain and love of the other person. I get nervous when I admit to vulnerable or ugly or needy or bad things I’ve done. I feel shaky. It tends to put you in a dependent position, wondering what the outcome will be, will you be accepted and understood or forgiven? Will there be balance and sense of equality with the person or will they hold you down and themselves up with this knowledge they hold of you? It takes courage, I know, and the willingness to leave people who are jerks, but especially in the face of extreme pain and love of the other person, I could do no otherwise. My mom can deny things till her dying day, and fully have convinced herself of her lies, but I know she knows the truth. She wants us to “agree to disagree.” She wants the specifics not to matter. She has apologized for having failed me as a mother. She wants that to be enough. So many other dynamics, though, with other family members. And if we are to have real change, then generalized apologies don’t work. Beyond that, when you speak specifically, because something has to explain the way things worked, if she doesn’t want to admit the full reality, then it has to come back to fall on me, and I’m not willing to swallow that, and live inside her lies, just to spare her the ugliness of what really went on. I’m sure that my dad could also recognize reality but he’d have to risk his relationship and dependency on her. So they convince themselves of what they want to believe, and the more I pushed, the more they hardened. Deep down they know. I know they know. They have to. It doesn’t make any sense that they don’t. All the pieces point to what I put forward. But they don’t like it and they can bury it with a zillion explanations and excuses and wild goose chases. None of that, though, changes the truth.


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!

After 8 days straight of painting and renovations, I am looking forward to being back on my computer a little more often and doing a little less back breaking (but very rewarding and fulfilling) labour!! LOL
hugs, Darlene


I have been writing letters to my mother almost daily since I declined to attend my dad’s grave side birthday. They have been an exercise in “speaking so I can hear me” more than an attempt to reach my mother. I decided before I started writing that I would only send a letter if one turned out to say something worth conveying to her. I haven’t made a decision to send this one, but it seemed worth sharing here.


I am a human being with my own senses, perspective, thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
I have never been recognized, seen, or heard by the family I was born into. Any expression I’ve ever attempted that came out of who I truly am has been rejected.
Every attempt I made to play to part of the person that you expected me to be also failed.
I have been treated with contempt by most of this family for most of my life.
The message that “there will be no discussion” is a clear indication that my words can’t even be spoken from this point forward and anything I’ve said is irrelevant. As an actual individual human being, I don’t exist to you.
Being a part of this family now requires that I accept the role of a placeholder, an object of judgment without a right to act in my own defense. That is a condition that I will not accept.
As long as there will be no discussion, I am not a part of this family. I will not consider myself obligated to attend any event or occasion that is based on the pretense that I am a part of this family, because it is a lie.
If you want me to actually be a part of this family, you will have to treat me like I am a real human being instead of a broken toaster.
If you want to maintain the pretense of having a whole family, you’ll have to manage that without my cooperation.


Hi Hobie
Thanks for sharing the letter you wrote. It speaks volumes of the truth about the relationship. I am cheering you on and nodding for myself as well. I am standing up ~ clapping ~ bravo and standing ovation!
Love Darlene


Thank you Darlene!

I added a little to it and ran it by my husband. He felt it was well expressed and I decided to mail it. I have kept in mind that I am “speaking so I can hear me” so I’m not expecting anything from my mom. I will just know that I did my best to articulate the truth and put it in her hands.

This is what I added at the beginning: “I am a human being with my own senses, perspective, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I was molested at the age of 5 and it has impacted my life whether you believe it or not. I was also severely abused by Larry and that impacted my life. If you choose to deny those things happened or expect me to pretend they didn’t, it only compounds the damage that was already done to me.”

The added sentences specify the issue where the denial is something I won’t tolerate. It leaves the ball solidly in her court.

I feel like I’ve done the right thing.



My sister wrote a similar letter to our mother.In it,there were truths that couldn’t have been talked about verbally,because of rage tantrums.But that method also failed.I witnessed my mother tore the letter to pieces and throwing it in the garbage.She said that my sister was always a great actress with a rich imagination.Nothing pierces through the fog in mother’s brain.


Hi Hobie
I love what you added in the beginning too! I am glad that you are keeping in mind that you are doing this for YOU and not for the result from her. It was very hard for me as the months went by, to realize that my mother was not going to respond to me, that she was not going to try, that she didn’t really care, but in the end that was part of the harsh truth that set me free. (and there is the flip side of that too; that they respond but the motive is only to prove you are wrong yet again… and then once in a blue moon I hear a genuine story of a mother who is willing to finally sort it out with her adult child and there is an actual healing of the relationship but that is really rare)
At the end of the day, I got my life back and that was the ultimate goal!
Good for you Hobie!
Hugs, Darlene

Laura ~ I had to change my perspective in order to heal ~ instead of seeing that it “didn’t work” I realized that in a way it helps to see the truth at a deeper level when we actually say certain things and they are ignored. For me I saw that my mother refuses to hear me. So in a way, it does work, just not the way we hope it will when we long so deeply to be seen and heard by our own parents. ~ hugs, Darlene


I think the value of the way I worded this letter is in the fact that unless my mom responds in a different way than she has, she is proving what I’ve written to be true and unchangeable.

I’ve reached a place where the worst that can happen is that my mother can verify what I already see. I expect that and I’m prepared for that. If she DOES actually understand what I’ve written and there is a change, I’m clear on what I need from her to maintain a relationship with her. I also know that it will be a superficial relationship at best but I know what kind of boundaries I will hold onto.

I’ve learned that I can love me whether my mother loves me or not. I’ve learned to believe and validate my own senses, perspective, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I have determined that nothing that my mother has to offer me on a positive side is worth the damage she is willing to continue doing.

Most important,I have value whether she values me or not. She can’t take it away and I don’t have to let her try. I have the right to act in my own best interest when she won’t, no matter who won’t.

Writing that letter has given me strength. I have heard me and my husband heard me. Darlene’s applause is icing on the cake!



Hi Hobie!
I just want to tell you that I’m totally behind you! Your letter is really strong and I’m cheering you on, too, no matter what happens! (My own letter like that was followed by about a year of hell as one relationship followed another in large part because of my own choices not to settle with less than full recognition of reality within the whole family system… but I don’t regret it! Not one bit! I think sometimes I forget the strength I had in standing up for myself. The more they tried to drag me down, the more I felt ganged up on by one negative outcome after the other, the more it’s easy to lose hold of the power of the truth I spoke up for. I’m still trying to regain that, but I do know without any doubt that it was the most important thing I could’ve done for my freedom, for my growth and reclamation of my self and my life.) So, I really just want to say bravo! It takes incredible amounts of strength and courage to do what you did! Even when you feel it will fall on deaf ears, that it’s hopeless (that’s how I’d felt), it makes such a difference to do it anyway! …I do hope that you won’t go through a year of hell though! And if you do, that you know I, and I imagine everyone here, are here for you, supporting you and everyone else who speaks up for their rights!


More Applause Hobie!!!
woot woot! That is what I call healing and freedom!
hugs, Darlene



Thank you for the encouragement. It means a lot to me!

I don’t expect a year of hell ahead of me because the letter is the result of a year of hell behind me.

I told my mother about the abuse when I was 5 about 18 months ago. She actually responded sympathetically at first, however, she decided that she needed to tell my brother & sister who reacted to the news by not communicating with me since. My oldest daughter eventually followed suit and told me to never contact her again.

I have a younger daughter who is a whole other bag of worms. And I have a son who is trying desperately to remain neutral. I’m not sure how to deal with him yet.

My mom continued to communicate with me for a long time after my siblings stopped, but it was clear that she was not going to touch the topic of my revelation of being molested, nor the topic of my siblings response to her disclosure to them. It got to me after a while. I called her on her avoidance, she reacted badly, I got my husband to mediate for me, and ultimately she responded with this message for me through my husband, “I have nothing to offer. There will be no discussion.” That was in June.

I considered that an indication that I was kicked out of the family, which was actually easier to deal with than the ambiguity. Then my mom called my husband to tell me I should be at my father’s grave for his birthday. It was last minute notice and I didn’t go.

My letter is a response to that contact. I wanted her to know that I don’t intend to let her kick me out and then try to drag me back in. I’m also not willing to be believed for a few weeks and then ignored.

None of their behavior makes any sense at all, especially in light of the fact they expect me to overlook ALL of it and resume a relationship with people who don’t believe me about a very significant event in my life and aren’t even willing to acknowledge the fact that I said anything about it.

I am worth a lot more than that, and I did NOTHING to deserve being treated with that kind of contempt. It HAS TO get better from here!



Hi Hobie!
Yes, it has to get better… because you are doing everything to make it so! And yes, you definitely went through the year of hell already. Our families all act the same!!!!!!!!! But serious congrats on what you did. I know what you’re talking about with them trying to pull you back in. My mom talked about the “next time” (i.e. when I come back to try to work things out with them) after I’d already said that there would only be a relationship if she took accountability for her actions/inactions. It’s not a mystery to me why they expect me to overlook everything and have relationships with them, just sweeping it all under the carpet. It’s their way of life. It’s the glue that keeps them together. I think the scapegoat is a very important person to them because having the one person to focus on also safeguards them from the truth that all the relationships between all of them have all sorts of unrecognized, unresolved issues. Basically they have relationships where they agree to disagree and just don’t talk about it, but it’s not like having different political or religious beliefs, where recognizing other people’s rights to different beliefs is an act of equality and respect. No this is about sweeping inequalities, abuse and disrespect under the carpet. Anyway, I’m rambling….

Yes, you are definitely worth more than how they’ve treated you. I’m so glad you were firm! I started off firm but by the time things ended with extended family—people I thought were firmly on my side—it all got pretty muddy and I did a heck of a lot of apologizing because I was mad at people’s neutrality, or bouncing between both sides, and I didn’t know if it was okay to be mad at neutrality (these were aunts and uncles who had helped me). At this point, I’m away from it all and that’s good enough. I did have an aunt send a facebook request (I just started an account) and haven’t done anything about that. She was totally out of the loop about everything. Knew something of me struggling and showed care but I never talked about anything to her, and now I don’t know… it just seems like there’s not a lot of point. People are attached to each other. If she wrote me a really heartfelt, reaching-out kind of letter, I’m sure I’d respond but for all I know the facebook request was just something sent out to anyone in her email address perhaps… Sorry, I’m totally going off on a tangent!! But Thank you for sharing your letter with everyone here! I feel like it brings strength to all of us, reconfirms all of our rights to respect and equality, every time anyone stands up for themselves. So thank you!! And all my best for your future, no matter what happens!!


The truth leak is quite evident here. This person has no idea why the children hate her. The only ever ever time i found this stupid type of comment is from the mouth of an abuser, its a narcissitic defense. Its totally illogical and shows the level of emotional understanding to be at age 6 where all narcs are. This letter should be included in the list of narc tactics beware. If i had a dime every time i heard a narc say to me… i just dont know what you want…
Well hurt mother i can tell you, you will never know why your kids hate you because your brain is broke. You can work on fixing ur brain but to be honest most cases are untreatable. I recommend joining the convent or anything that will keep you away from society.


I just published a new article on the home page ~ this one is about Anger ~ a really hot topic in the healing world and often a controversial one too. You can read the new post here: “Is there such a thing as Justifiable Anger?” and I am looking forward to the discussion.
hugs, Darlene


I agree with reply #85, 88.

“From Caden:
Why are “”hurt parents”” not held to the same standards as survivors of child abuse are
My mom used to pound into my head, “Think of how other people might feel before you stay stuff.” well, I have asked her, “How come YOU are exempt from this rule?””

Amen! I have said this to my mom many times only to be cursed out severely like I have told people that isn’t abuse?!? They said not like she killed you, yea she did with cruelty a person doesn’t have to be dead in the ground words can kill emotionally. I haven’t had the chance to keep up as I noticed in my emails how the conversations have been looking good.

Everything a abuser says they are exempt from while everybody else out turns a blind eye and sweeps it under the rug. On G+ in a recovery for narc community, the owner of the community posted the Bible says to stay away from evil people including those that we call mom and dad – thought that was very profound. A lot of people disagree with that saying evil is not found in families at all, oh really?!? That’s where it starts more so than a stranger abusing children!

Some parents do lose touch with their kids for some odd reason, but when a parent has a blatant attitude that they are the parents and placed on a pedestal etc then that’s a problem itself. Funny how my ex-therapist got so bitchy when I said that and I am like I am sorry am I describing you? lol Most parents I’ve said this to in person got so enraged I am like must be about them. Lots of people don’t like the truth, but oh well living in denial doesn’t help. People out there can justify and kiss the abusers’ asses, but we victims know the real truths. Like I told my ex-therapist ‘I know my truth better than you know you’re own husband.’ Ooh she was irate when I said that and told her more highly intuitive than you when it comes calling someone out and picking up lies/contradictions in a heart beat.


I did leave a comment on another part of your website. I do want to add to that and explain that while I was raising my children alone, I did of course make mistakes. The pressure I was under was insurmountable and because I was never shown love, respect, or loyalty by anyone in my family growing up, I had no clue how to truly love anyone else. I did indeed love my children, but I was told early in my marriage that the only reason he married me was to have children and I should never expect him to love me the way he loved his family or the way he loved our kids. After I got saved, everything changed in my life and I knew I had to make things right with my mother and my kids. My mother wouldn’t take my phone calls, so I wrote letters to her expressing how sorry I was for anything I did to hurt her and that I loved her and wanted to be reconciled to her, only to have them returned. I spoke face to face with each and every one of my kids and repented of everything I ever said or did to hurt them when they were growing up. Keep in mind they were all still living at home at this point. But, now they’re all in their late 20’s and older, the oldest pushing 40. It seems the older they get the more they pull away and the mouthier they get. That’s what I struggle with. It seems to me that there really was no forgiveness from them. It’s just easier for them to congregate together and leave me out of the loop. Forgiveness takes work. The fact that I was not the best mother I could have been very early in their lives does not give them the right to abuse me now. And it doesn’t mean I have to take it because of my past. I’m not that person anymore. They choose to not see me as I am. It’s been over 25 years since all that mess happened. All I want is to enjoy my kids and grandchildren and let the past go. Can’t do it on my own, though.


Hi Cathy
Welcome to EFB ~ It takes time for the hurts to heal. I understand what you are saying and the pain of that. I hope you will stick around here as there is so much insight to this whole thing.
hugs, Darlene


I still feel like a child. People treat me that way even though I’m middle aged. My adopted mother had a low IQ and very childish so maybe im affected by that.
I let my adopted father treat me like dirt,grovelling to him in the vain hope of him accepting me. Really I allowed him to treat like a worthless piece of muck. No wonder he had no respect for me. My mother said he did love me really which resulted in a massive breakdown trying to find this love. I held my head permanently down and I think they both liked the control. My mother insisting I had the best possible upbringing and she did all she could for me and took me to a child psychiatrist to find out what was wrong with me. Never once has she said my problems were down to their parenting. No I was just mentally I’ll problem child who should have been grateful and been successful with these perfect people with no flaws at all.


Wow. Thought provoking. Is playing the one-sided blame game in itself victim mentality? Are all children born with the innate ability to cast accurate judgment of their caretakers unquestioningly?
Is it possible that some parents do the very best they can and it simply is not enough for that particular person that was born to them? Likewise, is it possible for a child to do their best to honor and obey their parents only to realize that this is not a good fit for them?

Is the abuse at the hands of a child beater the same as the abuse of a preoccupied over worked parent?

Thank god for free-will. Free-will to recognize that no-one and no situation is perfect. That the pathway to hell is paved with good intention. That you really can never ever know it all. That acceptance of others in this case your parent or child begins with accepting yourself.

I am a daughter, a parent and a sibling. What I have noticed, is that rarely do all the people involved have the same collective memory of what actually happened. As far as my parents go, could or would I have done better given the same situation, the same background, the same general understanding as did they? I know there were a lot of times where it would have behooved me as a child, to have minded my parents more.

The problem most children have with their parents is that they resent and need them at the same time. Then as the parents get older the table turns and they resent and need their children at the same time.

Also there seems to be a fair amount of ingratitude all around.


Arianna – You have some fair questions. I’m wondering if you have a view of the context of this article.

You asked “Is the abuse at the hands of a child beater the same as the abuse of a preoccupied overworked parent?”

The answer is, in the experience of the abused child there is no difference. The damage is the same. The child has no frame of reference to know the difference and learns only that he or she is not worthy of anything better.

When that child reaches adulthood, that sense of worthlessness is embedded in them. If the parent is not willing to accept responsibility for what they’ve done, the grown child can’t outgrow that sense of worthlessness in the context of their relationship with a parent who is still being abusive. The reason for that abuse remains irrelevant.

What you seem to be saying makes sense in terms of conflicts and misunderstandings that happen in otherwise healthy relationships.

The bulk of the people posting here have been severely damaged by ongoing abuse in relationships with people who are not healthy. There are people who won’t be moved by all the forgiveness and understanding in the world. Interacting with such people is self-destructive.

Most of us who post here are looking for and providing the support and encouragement to reclaim the value that was stripped from us and learn to protect ourselves from those who have a pattern of being destructive toward us.



I find your reply to Hobie quite dismissive and I have chosen not to publish it here. I am not sure why you are here in this blog ~ it seems that you don’t appreciate what we are doing here. I thought that Hobie shared her heart and insight with love and understanding which is what we do here. This blog isn’t about parents who did in fact do the best that they could.


Thank you Darlene.


Wow, Hobie, well said in post #399. You hit the nail on the head.

I think this is the endless, circular, go nowhere view of my own Mother. It is the inability to recognize what abuse is. It is the minimizing and making the child responsible for the shortcomings of the adult in the relationship. It is the expectation that the child will, with their child mind, know and understand the parent and meet their needs instead of the parent meeting the child’s unique needs.

It is that need some parents have, or rather the entitlement they have to expect their children will adapt to whatever situation they as the parent put the child in. It is the idea that if the parent does not provide what the child needs it is because there is something defective in the child, that the child’s needs are too great or wrong somehow.

It is the idea that unless you are beaten to a pulp or raped or something horrid, whatever happened isn’t that bad, (or for so many of us, a made up fantasy that cannot be believed). It is that idea that you as the child are somehow ungrateful or expecting to much.

It is putting the child on equal ground in a relationship where the adult is the one with the power. It is that lousy excuse that “nobody is perfect” being used a a cover for egregious errors. As if the only thing that could ever have pleased us is a perfect parent, when the truth is it would have taken so little for most of us to remain intact.

Nothing about what happened to us is “normal.” There are no perfect parents in this world, but most parents manage to raise their children with at the very least a minimum standard that does not completely obliterate the child’s sense of self and worth.

Of course children do not have the same memory as the parent. A parent can grab their car keys, leave, call a friend, call an attorney, go to a movie. Hello? The experience the child has is different then the one the parent has. It isn’t remembering it wrong. The same event can never be the same for an adult as it is for child. Duh!!!! (I smell narcissus).

Human children are born biologically needing their parents, completely dependent on them. Children learn their value from their parents. Many children with extreme special needs grow up with more self worth then some of us so called “normal” children with less than average parents.

I’m a Mom, goodness knows I shudder at the mistakes I make. It isn’t perfect or nothing. And God knows, it isn’t a lack of gratitude or a question of obedient children.

I feel better now. Every time I think I am past the anger stage I find I have more work to do. Two steps forward, one step back, slow and steady wins the race. I am always first a recovering child of abusive parent’s. Someday I hope to have something that I could have had 30 years ago if I had been born to normal parents as my life’s work.


“Parents did the best they could”.Lame excuse for justifying abuse.Also,the meaning of words is twisted.Poor parents do the best they can when the child wants something and they can’t afford to buy it.They don’t have money.Single mothers do the best they can when they raise children by themselves,without a father.And the examples could go on.These are real life situations,with limited resources.But love…there’s plenty of it.Abusers did the worst they could,not the best.


I love your comment Laura. Yep, lame excuses to justify abuse and deny that the abuse is real and happened. I was told that in therapy ‘oh, your parents had to use what was given to them.’ I told people “there’s a huge difference in doing the best you can when you had x amount of resources where you made your life and kids’ lives better vs doing absolutely nothing at all and have this entitlement that you made children that you’re too good to learn any new parenting skills or get help etc then having the nerve to boast about being the awesome parent! In what way did my parents do the best they could considering how they did nothing?” I also told people although abuse was considered hush hush long ago, people back then still could have found ways to make their lives and their kids’ better even with the lack of knowledge. If you’re saying I have choices, so did my parents or any other sorry parent out there!

OMG, I said this to a lot of people and they stfu!

“Abusers did the worst they could,not the best.”

Love it and very profound. I have said this to people, did the best they could how? Our lives were miserable sounds more like they did the worst they could there was no best. The mouths and faces people had and my ex-therapist blew up after I said that saying ‘You don’t understand what a parent goes through” blah blah blah and I said wow, who is being a victim now? Ohh, she was hot when I said that and we got at it!


Lovely to see you again,Marquis,especially after such a long absence.I missed your comments.I was worried that,living with your abusers,something happened to you.Darlene has a new article on abusive therapists.I was surprised not to find you there.My first therapy session starts tomorrow.If you wish,keep your fingers crossed for me.With your permission,i’d like to ask you something.After your horrible experience with your ex-therapist,did you look for another one,or were you so dissapointed that you didn’t want to hear about therapy again? Is it worth continuing to search for professional help if the doctor is abusive?

Also,a question for all of you.It’s my first time in therapy tomorrow and i don’t know what to expect or how the session goes.Tomorrow i’ll go there blindfolded and fearful.


Hi Laura and everybody. I have been reading the articles just haven’t had much time and no, my idiot parents didn’t do anything to me. I was busy with work, had an interview last week, and finished up a 7 week support group at the women’s center in Courage to Change got a lot of great materials from my social worker who ran the support group much better than my ex-therapist.

I gotta read that article that Darlene wrote on abusive therapist bet that’s gonna describe my ex-therapist! No, I was very hurt and angry at how my ex-therapist treated me like she was this God who knows everything about everything just because she heard the same stories by many different clients doesn’t mean she has all the answers. She is someone I never want to work with again and I was disappointed the 3rd time that yea I didn’t want to hear or be suggested to try therapy again. I had a high school counselor (big dumbass), a college counselor (she was a witch), and this now ex-therapist (a fascist dictator) by this ex-therapist being number 3 I said that proves more idiot MHPs still exists! I was hoping going back to therapy would be a different experience and then I ended up getting into verbal heated rights with a therapist!

Here’s the thing: for anybody going into therapy, I suggest you question these MHPs hard and I mean hard think of the shit my ex-therapist told me and I had to question her hardcore. If these therapist life is like candyland, then I have a huge problem with someone who believes in dogma and can’t think for themselves. They want you to think critically make the therapists think critically too because you wanna test their “education” since they went to school about it. I did my research when I was 17, which is why my ex-therapist had a hard time trying to get me to agree with her. If they have this attitude where you should agree with them because they are the MHP and you can’t make your own decisions about what will work for you – that’s a red flag.

I did an intro to speaking to a life coach I met through Google Plus this August for a free one hour consultation which I would love to work with her but don’t have the money to pay her. At the women’s center, they have a life coach for free for like 30-45 minutes. Here’s a general question for everybody has anyone ever used a life coach? If so, how did it go? What did you see a life coach for? How did you work out the action plan(s) that they gave you?

Also, finding a good therapist shouldn’t take a while to find a notch down from a doctor having to go through x amount of doctors to find the right one! For me, I hated continuing to keep finding another therapist when if it’s gonna be the same bullshit I might end up getting anyway. I was looking into holistic therapy where they connect you to mind, body, and soul. I wonder if there’s a way to find out how good a therapist is by ratings from their clients? The ex-therapist I had I was told by the clinic that a therapist would call me and that’s how I got her. I was also told if I didn’t like her, I can request another therapist.

Keep looking at clues from your therapist as you progress in your therapy. Remember, you don’t have to agree with them nor do they have to agree with you, but there needs to be respect on both sides. I placed boundaries (which should have been much stronger) and told my ex-therapist that you are crossing a line you shouldn’t be crossing and if you have to speak to their supervisor then do so. I wish you best of luck in your therapy and keep us posted as to what happens whether you like him/her or not.

In the beginning, it’s gonna be a meet and greet then they will ask you what is going on that you wanna talk about.


If the parent is not willing to accept responsibility for what they’ve done, the grown child can’t outgrow that sense of worthlessness in the context of their relationship with a parent who is still being abusive.

How about a parent who SAYS “I’m sorry” but you don’t feel any feeling in their words? My mom says, “I have apologized over and over why do you keep punishing me?”




exactly. My parents never said any apologies to us and there’s no sincerity in their words at all on anything according to people that’s my problem!


Thank you,Marquis.I’ll be looking for clues such as mutual respect and support from my doctor.I’m an empath and i usually feel people’s energy right from the meet and greet.I’ll keep you all posted.My therapy starts in a few hours,so now i have butterflies in my stomach.What i’m most afraid of is losing my self-control in front of the doctor because of all the anger i have inside.

Marquis,i’m glad you’re ok.From now on,i’ll be commenting on the blog post about good or bad therapists.This article has a different topic (abusive mothers playing the victim),so i’ll be writing my comments where they belong.

Oh,and congratulations on your work at the women’s center.Every success we have proves our abusers wrong!


I am 42, I can relate to this. My mother just recently texted my 20 year old telling her she does not know what is wrong with me, all she has done is give LOVE!! She has not talked to me on and off for a year out of the last two (my sweet father died two years ago, I was the only daughter, jealousy). She didn’t speak to me through my whole pregnancy a year ago and then was the victim because I didn’t call her to be there for the birth. She has told my kids I have forbidden her from seeing them and someday she will tell them the truth about me. I have no idea what her truth is. I was a teen mom at 17, graduated school, got married, went to college, struggled and paid bills. Got a good career, had four more children and have stayed married for 23 years. Never did anything that I thought was disappointing except drawing a line on how I was treated. Been six months since last seeing her, but I know what she thinks of me and it has been a heartbreaking struggle. Lost my dad and abandoned by my mother and the rest of my family (brothers, etc) because of her LOVE!


Hi Sharon
Welcome to EFB ~ OMGosh this stuff drives me nuts! I rarely give advice on this blog but I am going to say that it is important for your kids to know that she says this stuff. I see way too many families where a parent manages to turn the grandchildren against their own mother. It is heartbreaking! I feel really fortunate that I caught on to my mother before she had the chance to do this to me.
I am so glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


I needed to hear that Darlene (#411).

All of my children seem to have adopted the dysfunction of my family of origin. Your recent posts on facebook make it all so clear.

None of them actually “kicked me out”, but they all refused to acknowledge anything I said or did that didn’t suit them. It appears to me to be all about image. I’m supposed to forget the things that really happened that were wrong and cruel and painful, and pretend that everything is fine.

I have had to ask them to leave me alone. They have contacted me recently wanting me back in their lives, but are still saying “suck it up and stop being so selfish”.

They are even trying to tell me that they love me, but I don’t believe them. They weren’t really engaged with me when they were “in my life” and they can’t really know me. I’ve told them that but they don’t get it.

I want a relationship with them, but not the ones that I had, and not what they seem to be offering.



Hi Hobie
Yes, exactly! They want a relationship just like the one we said NO to and like always they blame everything on us. There is a TRUE truth and if they refuse to see it that is their problem!
Speaking of FB ~ all the recent quotes this past couple of days have come from my first book. (and I know you have a copy Hobie!)
Hugs!! Darlene


I read your book so fast! I should probably read it again more s l o w l y!
I also think I needed to be reminded of those specific things at this time because those issues have risen to the surface in the past week.

I had gotten to the point in a period of no contact where I was genuinely able to be HAPPY! I am building better relationships with new people while I’m understanding the family I’m mourning actually existed more as a dream or fantasy that I’d waited for, but never materialized.

That dream is not likely to come true at any point, but it’s surely not going to happen if I let them back into my life while all those red flags are still flying.

Hugs! Hobie


If you only knew how many Google searches I have done from “my mother isn’t talking to me,” “toxic mother/daughter relationships,” “why does my mother hate me.” I then found you in a search.

I struggle with this daily. It constantly takes a free ride in my head right under the surface of everything. I used to tolerate my mother’s behavior and made things “right” in the past because I wanted to continue seeing my dad. My dad is gone and there is no need to tolerate it.

My kids have gone from loving their Nana to referring to her as Joann or not talking about her because they have witnessed my heartache caused by her. They are 25, 22, 18, 13 and 1. The older ones know and would never take her word for anything. They have blocked her on their phones. Why does she think she can have a relationship with my kids when she has called me a liar, thief, heartless, and bitch. She told me my father died disappointed in me. She told me that I lied about sexual abuse as a child.

I have allowed her back in my life but it all happens again.

Why do I allow myself to feel as the guilty little girl that needs to make things right. We were raised believing that the child was the one to take responsibility for all conflict, we were at fault for some reason or another and we had to apologize or we got the “I’m sorry, but….” apology from her. She has left me messages that she has cancer. She has left me messages that I will not get one dime when she is gone. Manipulation at its finest. Thanks for making me see I am not alone. How I wish my dad was the one still here.


Well you have found the right website now Sharon!
There are over 425 articles and a whopping 40,000 legit comments most of which are longer than 500 words and many over 2000 words! So much sharing and insight and support! I am confident that you will find answers here. Everything you are sharing is typical of this type of dysfunctional mother daughter relationship. (isn’t that sad, that it is actually typical!) but rest assured, this is about HER and not about you.
hugs, Darlene


Sharon – You are in a very rough spot. You have found the right place.

My mother has not made the threat of cutting me out of the will, but I’ve already decided that no amount of money is worth maintaining the kind of relationship I had with her. I’ve also decided that if I stay in the will, I will take the money!

I’m glad your kids are smarter than mine.



I did send her a message on thanksgiving….it read…
I don’t know what the future holds. I hope for your happiness and peace. I hope that I gain the ability to forgive. I hope for you to live a healthy lifestyle. I hope to feel worthy of respect. I hope to be able to respect you again. I am not a failure.
Guess what…no response from her. Again, I put myself out there. I am a fool. Not too long ago my mother thought the phone was hung up, I heard what she truly thought of me while she was talking to another person at her house. Time will pass and I will think, “what can I do to make things right?” Then I start thinking of the things said and it angers me, it shrouds the hurt and I just become so angry. Thank you for some light on this.


Also Darlene, you are the closest to going on Dr. Phil I will ever get 🙂 I will read your writings, thank you!


Again, I put myself out there. I am a fool. Not too long ago my mother thought the phone was hung up, I heard what she truly thought of me while she was talking to another person at her house.

My mom says not to raise my voice to her, but it’s apparently ok for her to raise her voice to me! And I’m not supposed to complain about it! My mom will be all sweetness and stuff with, “you’re my child, I love you….” but if I push her hard enough (I call it the “Law and Order SVU interrogation!”) she will blurt out what she REALLY thinks of me.


My mother has not made the threat of cutting me out of the will, but I’ve already decided that no amount of money is worth maintaining the kind of relationship I had with her. I’ve also decided that if I stay in the will, I will take the money!

Hobie, yes. Get yourself to the point where you don’t need anything from her. Then, if you do get something in her will, it’s just gravy. Yes, take it.


When you consider what it has taken for most of us to get here, to where we understand what happened to us and start learning how to heal, it makes me just wonder if healing the relationships we have with out Mother’s is possible. I hear often about people who draw up strong boundaries, keep limited contact and do just fine, but that is still not healing the relationship.

It just seems to follow that if we have to go through so much learning, such an intense self examination, counseling ect… to understand ourselves, how we came to be this way, what happened and how to re frame it in a honest way, it just seems that at least that much work would be required of our Mother’s for them to understand not just how they hurt us, but in order for them to stop.

My Mother, even though she may have good intentions, can’t stop hurting me. She hasn’t done the work necessary to understand how she scapegoated me, how she projected her less desirable traits on me, how she used me as a lightening rod to take the focus off of her bad choices in men. In her mind, although she is sorry and knows she made some mistakes, she has not rewritten that false history. If she is able to see me as good sometimes now, it is because i overcame my badness in some way. If she undermines me, blows my confidence or pushes me to the back of the lines, she sees nothing wrong with that. It is so habitual now, it is just the way things are. She makes me wrong for saying that is wrong.

My Mom has made some efforts but I don’t think she is even up to the monumental task of examining her relationship to me from the day I was born through today nor is she capable of the deep introspection necessary for her recognize how she treats me and to stop.

I just wonder, has anyone’s mother ever done this kind of work and genuinely healed their relations with their adult children? I’m not talking about apologizing for minor errors, I am talking about those chronic behaviors that completely destroyed our childhoods, abuse and neglect.


Hi Kaycee
This is a good topic for an article. I know mothers who have stepped up to the plate and actually healed with the adult child but the key is that they HAVE to WANT to. It can’t be a game, it can’t be that they excuse themselves etc. It is rare but it is possible because everyone has a choice. Sadly, many of the people in the power seat don’t want to choose love and healing.. it’s not the easy road.
Hugs, Darlene


Kaycee, I can so relate to every word you say. I especially relate to this one:

My Mom has made some efforts but I don’t think she is even up to the monumental task of examining her relationship to me from the day I was born through today nor is she capable of the deep introspection necessary for her recognize how she treats me and to stop.

My mom is also not capable of this. My mom wants everyone to think she is a duck when she is a goose. Or think she is a goose when she is a duck, it doesn’t matter, the point is, she tries to make people think she is other than what she is. For awhile, I played this game because I learned it from her. But I am rejecting this game. And I’m rejecting the “facade” that our relationship is. My mom apologized, but I hear no sincerity in her apology. She just wants to apologize in order to suck me back in, but not have to do anything about it. She cops the attitude of “now that I sucked her back in, I can go back to my old tricks.” I should have paid BETTER attention to Darlene’s words on “sucking you back in.” I was so hoping my situation would be different. It’s not.


Darlene, I would love to see a post about that topic, I wish you could write a post everyday lol! And while your at it,finish your next book too! But seriously, I was sitting here wondering today if anyone ever had the experience of a Mother doing the kind of work it would take to restore their relationship with their adult child and it occurred to me that it would require so much work to be able to recognize the complicated dynamics of things like scapegoating and projection.

It occurs to me that, at least in my situation, my role in the family was to absorb all of the shame so that everyone else could be shameless. My role as the “out of control” child was firmly established so that the rest of the family could feel stable, secure and in control despite all of the chaos, rage and abuse that was happening in our home.

My search for healing was fueled by being in an unbearable state of mind, an intense shame and self loathing. My family was able to avoid feeling these things because they transferred all of their own feelings of shame and self loathing onto me. What then could even motivate them to want to heal a relationship when they have successfully disowned those things in themselves that are truly unbearable?

I think too about how long this road is to healing. I attempted all of the positive thinking , forgiving, light, rainbow fluffy stuff that is recommended out there for eons. It wasn’t enough for me, but it has been enough for my Mother. I can only imagine as a Mother myself how wounded and ill she had to be to reject her own child. It is not something I can even pretend to understand.

But my Mother successfully forgave her parents and fulfilled her role as the good daughter, up until the day my Grandparents died. She frown upon her older sister’s lack of forgiveness as she frowned upon her younger sister’s emotions about her parents right up until the day her younger sister died. She says she feels sorry for them.

I think too about how much work I have done and yet still, so many things escape me. I have, for as long as I can remember, experienced serious depression starting around the end of October each year. I was diagnosed with SAD. I take antidepressants through January when I inevitably start to feel better.

My Mother went out and bought me one of those lamps. She was very supportive. Some people just have something messed up in their biology, the lack of sunlight affects them. Or maybe it is hormones, you know I am so hormonal. These are the things my Mom says, things even my Doctor suggested, things I believed.

Today I had a revelation. I was having those sinking feelings, I’ve been having them for awhile. I sat with them quietly and did an inquiring session deep within. I realized these feelings of cyclical depression around the holidays have to do with how I felt as a child on holidays. It has felt the same for decades as an adult having extra contact with the entire, extended family, who viewed me as a stepping stone because of how my Mother presented me for all of those years.

It was a profound realization and I called my husband and shared this with him. He laughed. He laughed in a loving, supportive way. He was thrilled I finally got it. He said he has told me this for years and assumed I knew this already. I didn’t. I might have heard it, I might have nodded my head, but I really just now got it.

These stories the family tell, they get set in stone, changing them is a huge ordeal. It is a long process akin to denying the faith you were raised in. It is like being raised a conservative Baptist and saying you no longer believe in Jesus dying for your sins. The family stares at you in horror, sure you are standing at Hell’s door and their only hope is to bring you back to the cross to be washed in the blood.

A new religion. I admit, I have very little faith that this is even a possibility.



Yeah, I hear you. It is so easy to get lulled (sucked) back in. It is our fantasy to have a loving parent, it makes us lower our guard. It is so fr&%)%ng easy to fall back into line. Habits are hard to break. And this idea that our Mother’s think they can slap a band aid of an apology on us and all will be well even though nothing has changed.It kills me that they really think they have made an effort when they do this. I’d give anything for my Mother to walk in my shoes just for one day.

I know I’m whining, but it is the holidays and it is all about families and I just want to turn green and hide in a cave above Hooville.


Darlene, I have to say that I have come back here a number of times trying to understand how my saying “it takes two to tango” could have triggered such a firestorm… I have re-read what I have written and people’s responses, and I still can’t figure it out. I have never blamed my son for our estrangement; to the contrary, I have done everything in my power to find out what the problem is and do whatever I could to “fix it,” change it, alter my own behavior, anything that would make us friends instead of enemies. But when I read your statement in # 423, you have expressed exactly what I was trying to say. That it takes two people, both people, to WANT to find resolution. I can’t do it all by myself.

You wrote:

“Darlene Ouimet
December 11th, 2014 at 9:10 am
Hi Kaycee
This is a good topic for an article. I know mothers who have stepped up to the plate and actually healed with the adult child but the key is that they HAVE to WANT to. It can’t be a game, it can’t be that they excuse themselves etc. It is rare but it is possible because everyone has a choice. Sadly, many of the people in the power seat don’t want to choose love and healing.. it’s not the easy road.
Hugs, Darlene”

In a relationship between adults, the one who does the rejecting can be the one in power. My description of my own personal situation is that my son is 43 years old. He has been divorced or broken off relationships a number of times, and the divorce he went through when he asked me to come to NYC as he “couldn’t be alone” and asked me why his wife left was probably what I was referring to in my “two to tango” comment. I said that in ANY relationship, both parties had to want the same thing, be it reconciliation, children, living in a particular town, whatever. He always said it was “his way or the highway” for his wife, and “if she didn’t like it she could leave.” And finally she did. He was torn up about it and I was very sad for both of them, but if one person has the attitude that “if they don’t like it they can leave” then divorce may well be the inevitable result.

I don’t know how or why this statement of mine triggered so much dismay in so many people, and it certainly wasn’t intended on my part. I was talking about my own having tried so many times and failed to resolve things with my son as he did not want to resolve things, and I finally had to face that fact. Just as his wife finally had to face that fact, too. It’s heartbreaking and leaves a person feeling so helpless and so useless when they finally have to admit there is NOTHING more they can do to better the situation.

That’s the point I am at.

I would also like to clarify my comment about my son being a “rageaholic.” He had a very bad temper that was almost uncontrollable from a very young age. I could not leave him with a babysitter, or a day care center, and he had a terrible time in school. I did everything I could to find supportive loving environments for him, and thank God there were people there for him who were willing to love and care for him despite the personal problems he had with emotional rage. My father was and still is the same exact way, as are many of my siblings. I thought that giving a positive, nurturing environment would be sufficient to change a person’s character, but I have learned the hard way that genetics do play a part regardless of what we try to do. That’s the same thing that leaves some people open to addictions, which also runs in my family despite being well-educated and high achievers. Alcoholism, OCD and other emotional problems have taken their toll.

I was taken to task for writing about these symptoms as “unfairly labeling” people, but as I said before, it was because I spent a lifetime in therapy trying to understand my own role in these family dynamics, and what I could do to improve things.

What I did learn here was that some people, even in this forum, do not want resolution. And some people do. And there seems to be little I can do to change their minds, even when they may have misunderstood what I was saying, or taken it personally as if I were talking about them, instead of my own situation.

For that I express my deepest regret and apology as that was never my intention. One person even said that my son obviously “needed to separate from me.” Yet at the same time he separated from me, he “separated” from his wife and his job, in large part due to his heavy duty alcoholism, drinking and drug abuse. Reading that he “needed to separate from me” was another knife in my heart, as what he needs is help that I am not able to give him. I don’t want him to have to hit rock bottom more than he already has, and I worry about him and wonder if he will make it through another medical scare that his drinking has already caused. Remember, this is a 43 year old grown man that I am talking about, not a child or a person in a different kind of power structure.

I can see that some people here were still living at home, or are locked in a struggle with a parent that did not seem to want to listen or even seemed to care. I find this heartbreaking as well, as they must feel as helpless as I do when it comes to my own poor relationship with my son. When I say “it takes two to tango” I mean that it takes both parties to WANT RESOLUTION. And that is all that I meant. I hope I have made it clear enough this time, and I am truly sorry for any misunderstanding that has arisen from these few words.

I feel foolish coming back here to say all this now, after the dust has hopefully settled, but it has been nagging at me all this time as I tried to understand where the misunderstanding was about what I said, and what I could do to better communicate in the future. My conclusion is that it’s probably better if I say nothing more to avoid additional misunderstandings, but this whole discussion about this original topic shows me that “communication is key” and many hurt feelings come from misunderstandings about the words we use. And without further discussion, there is no way to “right a wrong” or explain a misunderstanding.

Sometimes people mean to hurt others with their words; my own mother was a master at that. Her tongue was a rapier sword, and she could cut you down in one or two sentences, or even one or two words. And those utterances would last a lifetime, and the scars would never go away. Perhaps that is why I use too many words, trying to be sure that I don’t offend anyone even though I inadvertently continued to do so here. I have asked myself many times why people were so incensed at some of the things I said, even though I was describing my own experiences. I came back tonight to re-read what I wrote in this discussion and the responses trying to understand what everyone was saying, as there are so many different perspectives and life-experiences that people are coming from.

I still don’t understand some of the responses in some of the cases, although in others people were kind enough to explain their reactions, which helped a great deal. Thank you for that! Yet there was one person who told me to “never respond to her again, and pass over her comments as she would not respond to me.” And for the life of me, I don’t know why, but I have respected her wishes and I still wonder what I did wrong for her to be so offended. This is how I feel about my son, as when someone closes off all communication, there is no hope for resolution at all. And it’s such a sad and empty place to be. Even though I did not find a solution here, I did see so many different responses in action that I could see some of the dynamics of my own family system. I did not find answers, but at least we could all see different responses and ways of dealing with uncomfortable or negative situations.

Oh, if only there a list of words or phrases that should not be used in order not to trigger unhappy responses, or a magic pill one could take to “make it all go away” and make everyone happy… I’m sure I would be first in line, as would so many others. And maybe one day there will be, when we master better understanding and communication and see ourselves for who and what we really are, regardless of the negative names that we have all too often been stuck with. But in the meantime we try to find our way.

I hear about “unconditional love” all the time and I would like to be able to know this, and give this, and if I could do this “all would be well” and it would have all been worth it. I hope this is the path we are all on and some day we can all find that all too often elusive happiness and peace.

In any event, I wish everyone well and I hope all that want resolution can find it, and if we can’t, that we can somehow find peace in acceptance and the hope that someday all will be well.

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”
Dear God please show us The Way.


Thanks, Pam, for your response in #339. I’ve read it a number of times. Also, where you mention that at one point you “went to the dark side” as you saw that evil had power (or words to that effect), and then you came back “to the Light.” I have thought quite a bit about this and want you to know how much I appreciate these thoughts. It never occurred to me! I hope you write more about this.

God bless and Gracias, Catherine Todd


Kaycee, I didn’t start having holiday depression until I was an adult and I moved back to the state I grew up in. When I lived 3,000 miles away, I never experienced it. But I do now. I travel in an RV, and last year, I spent the winter “somewhere else” and I had a short term job, so I didn’t get depressed. But this year, I am spending winter in my home and I am experiencing the holiday blues. I’m not planning to visit my family, I have already told them, “I don’t do Christmas.” But I still feel down.


Catherine you say your son’s personal problems i think but you called that of him a a preschooler??!!! the child may have had either physical discomfort ie maybe allergies stomach problems or maybe unbehknown to you he was suffering from some one elses actions who knows what but something in his environment that you were responsible for as his caregiver must of caused him distress, ,,,, but you put it to a reflection of his own self his own short comings ,,, sure he may now have issues but i beleive children are not born bad they are made bad, and if it runs in your family i feel it is because so does abuse run in families, of course you all have similar genes. You sound so much like my mother and the fall back on God to solve it all and nothing can be done you have tried but it is in your own perceived box of him and creation of him to that box that is the limitation. thats what i get from your words, ,,, i also was the problem child ,,,, NO THAT WAS THEIR BOX IT WAS NOT ME THAT WAS BAD


Maria, thank you for your response, but PLEASE do not label my son “the problem child.” I have never said this and never will. I didn’t allow anyone of his caregivers or teachers to treat him this way and I certainly never did. I have had to finally admit that genetics plays a part in character, and in the “nature vs. nurture” argument, my personal belief that a loving environment would overcome all just didn’t work out.

I am not responsible for his actions as an adult, but I am responsible for my own. I love my son and always have and always will. My perceived “box of him” is that everyone deserves love, kindness, compassion and understanding and I will continue to pray for him and welcome him with open arms if he ever decides to “come home.”

I’m sorry if my “putting it in the hands of God” offends you… that surely was not my intent. It’s the only avenue left open to me, and as so many of us who have had addictions in the family, we learn the hard way that we can’t change things on our own, by ourselves. We, at least I, have to turn to a Higher Power of some kind to ask for help to resolve things. I wish only the best for everyone here and I am sorry, once again, for offending you but please don’t put words in my mouth. I’m sorry if I “sound like your mother” but I am not your mother and I am not chastising you.

I did not call my son names “as a preschooler.” The day care centers and baby sitters, the play groups that refused to take him when I had to work were the ones who told me that, and it was true. I tried to get him help all of his life. I am not calling him names, I am describing what he and I went through the entire time he was growing up.

He was even removed from Little League due to his extreme temper. I can assure you, this isn’t “calling names” or “the creation of him to that box.” This was me taking him to counselors, psychiatrists, refusing to put him on recommended medication, as I believed that would injure him more and that “love would somehow overcome all this” and I was wrong. Alcoholism often accompanies people who have real problems regulating their emotions. And this seems to be the case here, and I am STILL trying to find something that I can do to HELP. Accusing me doesn’t change any of these facts.

I came here looking for a solution or an answer and once again it has failed. How will we ever find resolution if accusations are always made? In any event, I have to respond that I love my son and always will, no matter how my words are interpreted. I can only speak for myself and that is what I am doing here. If you would prefer for me to re-write history or not speak about what my child was like growing up, then I would erase that from my comments, but I can’t go back and edit them.

So let’s just leave it that it’s my fault and there is no solution and that will be the end and that I am sorry for whatever wrongs I have done. I hope this suffices.


Gosh DXS, too bad we are only friends in the cyber world. I could pretend I’m sick and skip Christmas and we could go to the movies and have a popcorn feast! It stinks feeling blue with all of the green and red and cheer everywhere.


A little list that may come in handy when dealing with family this time of year. Since I am not ready to cut off all contact, my therapist has me writing little reminder notes to keep with me over the holidays so I do not fall into the rabbit hole and shrink into little girl size.

Narcissists are master manipulators.
Narcissists create division by heaping lavish praise on some to form alliances then they vilify their targets.
They are masters at triangulation.
Narcissists are masters at playing the victim, even when they are the aggressor.
Many are self proclaimed martyrs.
Narcissists are always right.
Because narcissists are so projective, the bad attributes they assign to the people around them are often good indicators of who they really are.
Narcissists are emotional vampires, they leave you feeling completely drained.
Rather than making amends, narcissists will hold you accountable for their mistakes.
Narcissists twist anything you say in order to use it against you.
Narcissists love to send you on guilt trips.
Narcissists bait you then bash you.
Narcissists are grandiose and they talk down to you.
Narcissists are selfish, their needs and feelings always trump yours.
Narcissists are extremely sensitive, they can’t handle any criticism.
Narcissists crave attention, they like being center stage.
Narcissists love drama.
Narcissists never really apologize, every apology will have a qualifier with it that it that makes it clear you are the problem.
Narcissists like to put you in now win situations.
The narcissist is careful about they put their children down, couching their
abuse in feigned concern and love. “Poor Johnny is out of control, I just don’t know how to help him.”
Narcissists tend to see everything in black and white.
Narcissists often explain things in very generalized terms, “You were always a difficult child” This makes it all but impossible to defend yourself.
Narcissists will try to make you look crazy by demeaning your opinions and insights, these will be met with condescending words, denials and attacks.

Remember do not feed the narcissist!


Interestingly issues of ADHD emotional problems etc are not noted in native tribes where child rearing is more community orientated.children adopt the behaviour of their enviroment or develop in 4esponse to the framework of behaviour they experience. Cathleen you may not have direcTLY abused yoyr child but you are a offfspringing of that treatment. you may have overcompensated under enforced how are you as a victim yourself of a dysfunctional family system able to know what the correct parent model was was.maybe you only knew what not to do but didnt know what to do instread. Either way i beluwve we create our children You lay blurprint as only you know as the victim. Your child adopts the role of abuser. Still who else is accountable sure the adult child is now responsibke but how did he get to that point in the 1st place. If we say well its genetics then that leaves no option no opportunity to learn and grow. What is the point in life without that ability to learn and grow. Acknowleadging the part huge part parents play in the way a child develops emotionally is the only way to beable to try to fix the damage. Damage is often not intentional. But you do say that your young child had personal priblems. You then get angry that i say your child is treated as a problem child. Yet that is your label for him.. That is what you belueve of him. Now that behaviour is engrained in him. I believe life brings him everyone opportunity to reprogram himself correctly if he chooses to deal with the pain required. But the parent caregiver provudes that inital framework sure done with best intentions but only the one providing that framwork is responsible. Thats what i believe. If you are so sure its genetics then why are you still searching.saying oh yes ok then its my fault when you say that like that it sounds lije you are still not able to look at that without getting too upset and it sounded like that statement was meant yo make me feel terrubke for suggesting such a thing. Look i did a great job and also a terrible job oroviding a framework for my own child.but i did create her now she knows clearly at my acknowleadgment that i fuked uo and i am sorry. Really so sirry. No genetics. And yes we have historyy of all that is bad in our family. Genetics? No i believe dysfunctional frameworks iften done in best intention


Maria, one of the things that has always interested me is that I have worked some with people who have special needs. It has always struck me that my Mother labelled me as this bad, out of control child when in fact I was too frightened to behave badly and her accusations were laughable. Still, in seeing children who genuinely had behavior problems, I was astonished at how much their parents loved and supported them.

My Mother shoved me into a category that didn’t fit me and used that as an excuse to treat me differently. Yet I found that when a parent loves a child, it doesn’t matter if they have issues, normal parents are still able to love that child unconditionally.

One excuse my Mother has is that there wasn’t much knowledge or help for her to deal with me back then as the parents of today have. It is still so funny because I was never the out of control child she claims I was. I was never in trouble anywhere but at home, I was probably too good because I never wanted anyone to see me. I was so stifled, I hid.

My guess is that children are the same in every culture, it is the adults and how the view the unique differences and challenges they have that is different. My guess is you are correct, that the native cultures you speak of produce better parents, not easier children.


Kaycee, you wrote: “Still, in seeing children who genuinely had behavior problems, I was astonished at how much their parents loved and supported them.”

I was surprised to see this, as all along I have read that “children are innocent, good, blank slates and any problems they have are due to the parents abuse, intentional or not.”

I have worked with children for many years and saw all kinds of personality developments and the children often turned out very different than the parents or their own siblings, due to their own particular character and personality quirks. I always took on the “behavior problems” and usually got along fine with most of them as they learned different ways of responding to frustrating or frightening situations. I certainly didn’t blame any of them for their behavior. I knew they wanted to improve and I was there to help them and support them as much as possible.

What experience have you had with the children you described here? Do you believe that it is the treatment of the adults who “loved and supported them” that caused their problems, or was it other influences?

For myself, I see behavior or emotional problems no different than diabetes or alcoholism (which also runs in our family) and I try to give as much understanding and support as possible. I don’t see it as a child being responsible for his reactions, just as one isn’t responsible for a reaction one might have to a bee sting or a certain kind of medicine. People can be allergic to all kinds of things that don’t bother other people at all.

I’ve been trying to find out how to better communicate with my son or what could help in resolution. I’ve seen that there are many topics or phrases to avoid, and I’ve read all kinds of different responses here and I’m trying to wade through them all.


Catherine “I was surprised to see this, as all along I have read that “children are innocent, good, blank slates and any problems they have are due to the parents abuse, intentional or not.”

Catherine, the children I am speaking of were developmentally disabled or had a learning disability. These were children who had diagnosed conditions that made them eligible for special assistance and support. My surprise was the fact that their parents still loved them unconditionally. My mother labeled me as a child with problems and used that as an excuse to deny me unconditional love and support.

I am not speaking here of temperaments, strong willed children, children that experience your run of the mill challenging behaviors, (biting, hitting, temper tantrums, defiance).

It was just a revelation to me that normal parents are able to love their children as they are, value them and do not reject them for being less than golden.


Just an aside, have you ever sought ought help for yourself from a mental health professional Catherine? I think getting some counseling for yourself might be the best way to prepare for the possibility of mending fences with your son. Even if you have gone in the past, when something big comes up in life it is often a good idea to seek professional help.


Well, I just had an interesting argument with one of my siblings. I got told, “If you mention [blah blah blah] I will ream you out.” I responded with, “And what does that mean?” (Like I’m challenging the “threat”). THe sibling replied, “Well, I’ll just yell at you.” I replied, “If you yell at me, I will yell right back!” The sibling said, “why are you trying to change who you are?” (what this told me was, “Please stay the compliant wimp you are so I can threaten you and keep you scared.”) So, I replied, “Oh, so I’m not allowed to defend myself?” Oh, that’s when the back pedaling began. I basically let this sibling know that “reaming me out” will no longer have any effect on me!

For me this was a major step forward, but I also know I could end up taking two steps backwards, too…..


Oh my favorite. “We just want you to be happy. Does it make you happy to bring up all these issues?”

Um, no, but to NOT bring them up continues to make my even more unhappy. Why don’t they get that? I’m supposed to suck it up, pretend it’s not there, and give a fake smile that all is well?


YAY that’s awesome! Isn’t it amazing (and telling) when we actually stand up to them with just a tiny bit of a different reply!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Yeah – I got a lot of that “we want you to be happy” crap. They REALLY didn’t care about whether or not I was happy – they wanted me to smile NO MATTER WHAT!

I have prepared a “Christmas Card” for them, but I’m probably not going to send it.

Because I have actually been VERY HAPPY recently after being no contact for several months, I collected a few pictures from those times that I was genuinely smiling. Below the photos, it said: This is what I look like when I’m happy. It’s amazing what happened when I removed toxic people from my life.

This morning I got to thinking of telling some of them who have tried to tell me that they love me that what they’ve offered as love in the past is as cold and empty as a frosty mug of nothing. I really feel like they only want good pieces of me, and I’m tired of picking myself apart and trying to hide the pieces they don’t want to see or know about.

I am really happier without them.


DXS, # 439, I am smiling after reading your sibling conversation. I thought immediately of Darlene when I read your ” And what is that supposed to mean?” Reading messages like yours and cheering for your successes gives me even more encouragement to ask ” Darlene” questions when encountering these kinds of people. We really to learn and get encouragement from people on here. 🙂 🙂


DXS, that is so cool! I remember reading somewhere bout the limited contact situation and how you can train your family members what you will and will not accept. Sounds like you are doing it! I’ll bet she thinks twice before saying something like that again. either that or she will test you boundaries, but either way, well done!!!!!!!


Kaycee, thank you for the explanation. I’m sorry your mother treated you the way she did.


Kaycee, you can be sure that I have had counseling for years… family and personal, including Adult Children of Alcoholics and Families of Alcoholics (ALANON) for years. That’s where I have had to learn to “accept what I cannot change” and “put it in the hands of God.” Along with years of counseling with child development specialists. To see that I could change NOTHING has been heartbreaking to the extreme, but I keep looking for that “magic key.”

All counselors have essentially said the same thing: there is nothing that one person can do to resolve things if both parties don’t want to, and that drug and alcohol addiction “changes a person’s brain and personality” and sometimes there is no going back. I thought seeing all the problems adult children have had here with their parents might turn give me some answers, and I really had hoped to see that resolution did sometimes occur, and exactly how that occurred, but I haven’t found it yet.

But thank you for suggesting this.


Catherine you say you are reading through this forum to find better ways of responding with your son. Yet most here are victims of narcissistic emotional or other type of abuse which you say is not the case for your son. So do you therefore think us here have behavioural problems like your son? Or do you feel you son is like he is because he is a victim of abuse. Just wondering..


or maybe your son is adopted abuse behaviors he learnt from in your extended family?


I have read that those with full blown addictions 99% or close to that are victims of serious abuse (which can be repressed). I have found this sort of percentage to stand true amongst those I know of with addictions as well. I have met 2 people that say they are not victims of abuse but they do have addictions so there maybe that 1% however they may have repressed it as children often do repress abuse and that is scientifically backed up. The average age for memory recovery in woman is age 47. Abuse can be happening for generations in a family that is blisffully unaware because of this repression effect and denial can turn an intelligent person into someone unaware of what is right in front of them.


the reason I make my last comment is that for one to solve an addiction issue it is necessary to identify the cause for healing to be possible. Then you would have a chance of having your son end his addictions


Well, Catherine it is clear you are a Goddess and have moved heaven and Earth for your ungrateful son who was born, unfortunately, not with your genetic make up but with that of the man who fathered him and that of extended family members. This cruel twist of fate that landed him in this position is very unfortunate, but alas, he is what he is.

Obviously if you came here looking for advice, you came to the wrong place. You have done everything, there is nothing anyone can say to you that you haven’t already tried 10 times over. There are no mistakes that our estranged parents have made that even remotely apply to you.

Since you know his behavior towards you has absolutely nothing to do with you or how you have treated him, there is little anyone here can do for you. We are recovering from abusive parents, we are not ditching Madonna Mother’s like you. We are not marred and frozen in genetic bad luck, we are actively involved in the healing process with the full knowledge we were not born genetically predisposed to bringing about the demise of our relationships with our parents.

I am sorry you did not find what you were looking for here. But you obviously know all about why your relationship with your son has failed. You already have all of the answers, that is clear. Best to just leave him be and move on to take care of yourself. I have a feeling he will learn to survive and thrive on his own.

The universe has a way of bringing the people we need to us and I am fairly certain he will find the support he needs to deal with these curses nature has felled upon him. I am sensing that he is actively working on his own healing right now just from what you have written here.

Perhaps a grief and loss support forum might be a good place for you. I am not aware of any good ones but I am certain there must be many. Perhaps if anyone her know of one they can post it here for you.


I have had resolution with my estranged daughter. this was successful because i allowed her voice to express what i had done that had hurt harmed her and to not deny this or excuse this as it dont’ make any difference why i did for a important time in her life neglect her as she was still hurt damaged by this. I was then able and am still very sorry for this damage i caused to her. We have continued on since then rebuilding our relationship. Estrangements can be healed. however estrangement cannot be healed between myself and my parents because they deny that they harmed me. I am only allowed family to be part of their family if i say they didn’t abuse me. They did abuse me.


and Catherine my child was aggressive abusive to me so our story is not so different in that regard, She attacked me badly and that is her responsibility that she did that and she is sorry, but i had let her down first i had done the damage to her first, which does not excuse her behavour however it is was the reason for her bahaviour,


another explanation (not excuse) for my daugbter’s abuse to me was because of my dysfuncitonal upbringing i was ‘attracted’ to similar partmers so my child witnessed violence to me when she was younger. this comes under neglect to her by me. i did leave him. however in general i had a victim framework whereby my child learn’t from an early age that i allowed myself to be treated in ways that are abusive. This came from being programmed by my parents that i was the problem that there was something wrong with me,


I have had resolution with my estranged daughter. this was successful because i allowed her voice to express what i had done that had hurt harmed her and to not deny this or excuse this as it dont’ make any difference why i did for a important time in her life neglect her as she was still hurt damaged by this. I was then able and am still very sorry for this damage i caused to her. We have continued on since then rebuilding our relationship.

Maria, will you please talk to MY mom?


Maria, I applaud you. And I agree 100% with everything you said. I also put my children in abusive situations which caused their poor behavior. Thst was my fault. I should have went through counseling before I had children. And my children will need the same before they have children.
I too am sorry and have stated so and why to each if my children. Ima compassionate to their needs now. I have made so many mistakes and have woken up to that fact when I went NC with my own mother.
I wish my mother would do the same for me as I do for my kids, validation, humility, true repentance. that is the reason I still have relationships with my adult children. I want them to feel loved and cared for, heard and worth it.