When Acceptance is NOT the Answer


acceptanceRecently there was a discussion about “Acceptance” here in the Emerging from Broken website. People were expressing difficulty with having been constantly told to “accept others” for the way they are.  This directive always seems to be issued when someone is expressing difficulties with having been devalued, discounted and mistreated.  I have come to realize that this is where the difficulty lies. When we are directed to accept, it is implied that acceptance means to accept the abusive behavior of the other person. This misunderstanding and false teaching gets deeply mixed into many relationships and is used as a justification for all kinds of abuse. 

Accepting others the way they are is a more appropriate directive when the person wears strange clothing, or likes to eat weird bugs; acceptance of political or religious views that are not like mine are also good examples. But accepting others because they swear at me, talk down to me, devalue and disrespect me or completely dismiss me as a person ~ those are actions that I don’t have to accept.  We should NOT be encouraged to accept unacceptable behavior.

I don’t have any problem with accepting the way other people are.  I have a problem with accepting unacceptable behavior.  I can accept that my mother doesn’t want to respect me. But that means that she doesn’t get to have respect FROM me either and that seems to be what other people have problems with.  I am accused of disrespecting her because I don’t have contact with her, but the truth is that I don’t have contact with her because I respect ME. Relationship is a two way street and I deserve equal respect. We all deserve EQUAL respect.

I HAVE equal value to all others. That is the truth and yet our society seems to encourage the belief that some people according to the title they hold actually deserve more respect than other people.  I had to believe that this was a lie in order to own my own value and stop accepting disrespectful treatment. Disrespectful treatment is not acceptable and therefore should NOT be accepted. It really is that simple. No one has the right to treat another person in an abusive, disrespectful and unacceptable way.

The underlying problem for me was that I had learned to question myself and my feelings. I had been told that I was wrong so much that I thought I was. I believed that I was wrong. I had been told that I exaggerated so much that I believed I did. I believed my memory magnified things beyond the truth.  As long as I was in that spin of questioning myself, I believed that I was not being fair to other people if I accused them of devaluing or disrespecting me and I got that mixed up with acceptance.  I believed that I was not “accepting others the way that they are” if I questioned their motives or intentions even within the confines of my own mind. 

The truth was that I had never actually been taught or empowered to realize what unacceptable actually was.  Controlling demanding people had taught me that I didn’t have the same “rights” as they did; that my actions were unacceptable while their actions were acceptable. And that teaching is a tough thing to un-teach and overcome.

 It was important for me to validate the damage that was caused to me as well as to validate that I didn’t have to accept unacceptable behavior.  This was all mixed in with the brainwashing that I had accepted about “accountability” and I had even gone so far as to try to accept that I was accountable for the way I was treated too. (I am referring to the false belief that I must have done something to “cause” the abuse or mistreatment)

Another concept that gets mixed in with the “acceptance directive is “unconditional love”. Unconditional love is not about accepting abusive treatment from someone who kicks you around physically or emotionally. It isn’t love when someone treats another person with disregard or disrespect and yet we are taught to return those actions with love. This doesn’t make any sense. It isn’t loving towards the person who aims disrespect or disregard at another person if we just accept it. It is far more loving and an example of healthy self esteem to stand up to it even if that is only to remove ourselves from the situation.  

We have laws about human rights in place for a reason and even if those laws are so often not enforced BY the law these laws teach us our rights as human beings. I was shocked when I first discovered them, but at the same time I found them empowering; especially the ones about emotional abuse and neglect. Always remember that we are healing from the damage and that before the damage can be overcome, it has to be acknowledged.

Acceptance in the context of accepting what happened is not the same thing as acceptance of the person who did it.  Accepting the way a person “is” does not apply when abuse or mistreatment is involved. There is a big difference in accepting someone’s “faults”, verses accepting abusive treatment.

Please share your thoughts about the definition and implications of the word “acceptance.” Has this word been used against you? Have you been told that you “have to accept” someone’s unacceptable behavior just because of the title they hold in your life?

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

Related Posts ~ Being told to leave the past in the past

The unheard invisible child ~ Being Heard and Finding my Voice 


Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



Hi Darlene,
Thanks for sharing this with us today. I am in Al-Anon due to the fact that I was raised in family where my mother was an Adult Child of an Alcoholic and my stepfather was also an ACOA. I was surrounded by alcoholics all my life (aunts, uncles, cousins,friends of family). I was definitely affected by the disease from day one and went on to choose relationships with men that were either alcoholic, drug addicted (often both), rageaholics etc. By the time I ended up in Al-Anon I was pretty much broken! I knew something was wrong but I just didn’t know WHAT. As I continued my attendance at the meetings I learned that alcoholism was what had affected me and my choices. I also learned that alcoholism was a threefold disease of the mind, body and spirit. I was told that I should learn to detach from the alcoholic and to hate the disease and not the person. I was very angry when I first began learning about the concepts of the program. I was told about ACCEPTANCE~ and somehow I kept thinking that if I could just accept the alcoholic that my problems would go away. Yeah right! Sick thinking!…

What I have learned over the years from my sponsor is that acceptance means living life on life’s terms and that I had no choice but to accept people, places and things as they are.PERIOD!!! This pissed me off too for a long time. As time went on, I learned that I had choices! Wow~ really?? I didn’t even know that I did because I was so busy still playing out my childhood/victim role in my relationships with men that I didn’t even think about walking the hell away. I kept hoping, praying, lecturing, bartering and begging the other person to see me, hear me, understand my pain and it WAS NOT WORKING!!! I learned that acceptance doesn’t mean I have to like something but that “I” am responsible for myself, my well-being and happiness. I never knew how to do this~ let alone, know that I had been giving my power away to others. I finally realized one day that instead of looking to someone else to change~ I was the one who could, should and would. AND~ I learned to do this painstakingly day by day, inch by inch.It didn’t happen all at once. I learned it was not only okay, but HEALTHY to take responsibility and take care of myself. I learned that I though I had no power to change others that I did NOT have to accept unacceptable behavior. The bible says, we should love our neighbor as ourselves. So many years, knowing that scripture by not knowing how to apply it to ME and only to others cost me dearly! Today, I am able to stand up for myself and my own convictions. I have learned to be the PARENT, ADVOCATE, to my own emotions that my parents and those who were supposed to love me weren’t capable of. Today, I can say “no” and “this isn’t good for me” and “this is what I feel and need” and if the other person doesn’t like it, can’t deal with it and love me as much as I love myself~ then watch my ass as I wave good-bye!!!! This is acceptance to me= loving myself and taking care of myself, while accepting that others are often sick and suffering and I can choose to love them and be close or love them from a distance.

I would love to have healthy, harmonious relationships with every one. Unfortunately, life is life and this isn’t possible. Not everyone is going to love me or treat me right. That’s okay. There are plenty of people in this life that can and do. I have been blessed with many wonderful people in my life who I choose to maintain relationships with that are RECIPROCAL. Reciprocity is important to me today. I am not only beautiful and wonderful but I am so capable of making a difference in this world with just this one precious life God has given me. I don’t choose to waste one more second of it on being angry, in chaos, unforgiving or hurting myself or letting anyone else hurt me. I love ME more today then yesterday~ but not as much as tomorrow!!! Much love light,love and healing to you and all those on the journey to wholeness!!!


I can’t agree more! Today I can’t stand ignorance and I can give it as good as they give. I have infinite patience and respect for people until they show their ignorance…


If abusers were accepting, they wouldn’t be abusing


Hi Dee
Welcome to emerging from broken;
I like the part about where you said “watch my ass as I wave good-bye” I don’t much care about the “sick and suffering” anymore when they cause me to get sick and to suffer. They have a choice too and too often in 12 step programs people are taught that they don’t have a choice; that they can’t stop drinking and that if fine ~ but I am not going to be around an abusive drinker or emotional abuser or any other kind of abuser anymore. I agree that I am responsible to love and take care of myself ~ that is where my healing comes from too and YES about RECRIPROCAL relationships ~ I have equal value to all others and anyone who treats me as less than that is not giong to have me to mistreat.
Love your self love; LOVE that you know you are beautiful, wonderful and capable! I think that many people here NEED to be angry for a time; I know that I did and I don’t see it as a waste of anything. It was a huge part of how I got to where I am today in my healing and a very huge part of why this website is so successful.
I hope you like it here.
Hugs, Darlene


Great post, Darlene. I had to realize myself that just accepting the status quo of abusive, unequal family relationships was simply not going to work for me. I’m a very sensitive person with a hyperactive memory, so I could not simply ‘forget’ what was done to me in the past, especially as my body saw fit to continuously remind me and the entrenched patterns didn’t go away. My mother told me that she saw my siblings passively staying in her web as vindication that now they had “learned to appreciate all she had done for them.” I doubt they ever said that, but I saw them as just unwilling to stand up for themselves and still waiting for the love that was never going to come.

The UN Committee On The Rights Of The Child also has language banning corporal punishment, emotional abuse, and all degrading or humiliating treatment of children. I believe in this, and that I deserved to have this directive followed in my household, I don’t accept that my parents didn’t see me as worthy of being spared the sick authoritarianism and abuse I was subjected to. I don’t have to accept abusive treatment from anyone, give them my understanding, or let them back in my life. I’ve heard people say things like “you have to accept that you have the mother you have, not the mother you would like.” I certainly don’t, there are lines that should not be crossed.


I so love your site. Could we link up together? Just email me or friend me on facfebook.. I am new to this. So any help would be helpful…thanks….. wray



you have correctly said that there are limits that should not be crossed. And one of those limits is other people speaking for you, telling you how to live and interpret abuse in your life.


Caden, I totally agree!I am not allowing sick, deranged people, living a life of falsehood, anywhere near me! I don’t have to accept it. My “little sister” who is a big emotional abuser, said to me “You will be so sorry when mom is gone” (yeah, no!) I replied, “I will grieve the loss of the mother I never had,not the woman who abused and villified me”.


Thanks for this, for so many years, I thought “is it me, am I the only one” my friends parents never acted like her. I used to hate her, then feel guilty for doing that. Acceptance…..I’ve tried to accept it, doesn’t work, she will even tell me “this is me, deal with it. you can’t handle the truth” (about whatever she’s degrading me or putting me down about). I’m learning how to deal with my “having to walk away” because it’s hard, I’m an only child and she pulls the you are going to miss me when I die and you have nerve to treat your mother this way?…..I’m so done and like I said, I’m new to learning how to deal with all these feelings and not just burying them and that it’s ok to walk away, respect myself, not let my children constantly see her put me down and be happy.


Its so confusing when we finally protect ourselves and say no more unacceptable treatment, that other people pile on more emotional abuse by making us feel bad or guilty so that we are forced to make a decision between,

a) not walking away and being abused again and again and damaged again and again. or b)being judged as selfish, unfeeling, screwed up, immature, rebellious, bad daughter, bad sister for walking away and going no contact.

I think the judgement from others has been really hard for me, almost like I am dysfunctional, not normal, damaged goods, or worse, seen as a liar for no longer accepting horrible abusive behaviour.

Its like a double whammy of head kicks!

I do hear statements made through third parties such as your mother has had a hard life, why dont you talk to your stepmother for your dad’s sake. Its always what is acceptable and best for everyone else.

Its just a shame that when you try to escape from abuse, you are met with more pressure from people on the edge of family, such as aunts and cousins. One cousin actually said the truth leak of “it would be easier if you would just talk to your mum”. My answer is always, well your experience of my mother was and is very different from the experience that I had with her. I actually ended up in counselling because I was in such a bad way and my counsellor called her my abuser not my mother.

That is why EFB is so helpful because nobody is made to feel bad about stopping themselves being mentally,emotionally, sexually, physically abused.

Thank you Darlene for being strong enough and brave enough to say no more unacceptable behaviour from abusers.


I agree that “acceptance” is a misused term, and therefore a loaded term.

I don’t have to *accept* abusive, dismissive behavior. I had to *accept” the fact that I cannot change the behavior of another person. I *accept* that I can only attempt to communicate, and that I cannot make someone else listen and respond in a non abusive way.

I *accept* that I cannot stop abusive words from coming forth from the mouth of another person.

But I now *accept* that I can stand up for myself, and I can walk away. I can keep my ears out of range of hearing consistently abusive words.

I have *accepted* the fact that her behaviors have not improved toward me, and I *accept* the fact that I am not required to make an *exception* to moral values of what is *acceptable* and what is abusive, just because she is a relative.

It took me a long time to *accept* these truths.



YES!! NOT let your children witness her putting you down!! That is very important.

Stand up for yourself, your own feelings; no one else can or will.

After my divorce, I had more years of contact with my parents and that was not good for my kids. I limited as best I could, but by the time I met my current husband, I realized that my children had never seen anyone value ME. They really only ever saw me value ME, which is not what I wanted, but it is what is needed, I guess. It doesn’t do anyone any good for their to be even one person that is mobbed, bullied, shunned, etc.

I couldn’t return to my original college and get my master’s because I just got a divorce, (and needed to heal for five years-their rule-while my kids starved) I was kicked out of three churches, my parents abused me when we lived with them post divorce, and I lost four jobs due to a variety of reasons. I looked like scum to them, I suppose.
The church we were in continued to use and abuse us.

My current husband values me, and it confuses my kids. They notice, but they think a variety of things. It will take time, but it is worth it! Separating from toxicity and creating a good life.



I LOVE your comments! I “accept” them, too!

Abuse tactic for sure:

Use a general word that could mean MANY things to/from MANY people, and use it in such a way that it only means ONE thing from ONE person to ONE person. The listeners must translate that it could ONLY mean what an abuser means, another put down of me!!



I liked your words accepted the fact that her behaviours have not improved toward me and making an exception to moral values of what is acceptable and what is abusive just because she is a relative.

Yes agreed, it definately takes a long long time to accept these truths, and letting go of the struggles.


@ Celeste, I so identified when you said “I used to hate her, then feel guilty for doing that”. I would write my feelings in my diary, then when rereading, rip out the page or line through it so no one could find it and shame me for being a bad, ungrateful daughter……..


Hi Darlene, I was taught by the abusive members of my family that I should always overlook their bad behavior and the way they treated me. If I didn’t, I was unforgiving and the focus was taken off what they had done and placed on me not being forgiving enough. If someone outside of the family did something bad to me, then I was told that I got what I deserved. Not matter what happened, the focus was taken off of the one doing something that was hurtful, abusive, and even a crime and placed on something that was supposedly wrong in me that caused the other person to harm me. This became my pattern of thinking, also and I still struggle with it. I remind myself daily, that whatever bad thing that happens actually, may be someone else’s fault or no one’s fault at all! It’s really hard to break that loop though and my mind can find all kinds of sneaky ways to accept misapropriated blame and shame.



This sentence really stood out. “It isn’t love when someone treats another person with disregard or disrespect and yet we are taught to return those actions with love.”

It’s so true in some Christian circles. They always forget the verse that says “you can’t heal a wound by saying its not there.” Jeremiah 6:14 (i think). Only a few christian leaders talk about this verse. It’s become one of my favorites though. Smile, bear it, brush it under the rug, pretend all is well at church, curse the inconsiderate driver in the parking lot, etc. Why do people want to pretend when the freedom IS in the truth. The bible even says the truth sets us free. But, nobody wants to talk about it. Reciting the verse doesn’t mean practicing it, and I hear this verse all the time.

It really IS the truth thats setting me free. Big thanks to you for all this wisdom and teaching!!


I have to say, I love this post … it is something I struggled with for a long time, but not anymore. I was expected once to just accept her abuse towards me because ‘that’s just the way she is.’ But what had failed to be seen is that my mother wasn’t like ‘this’ with everyone else!!

I could accept her favouritism towards my younger sister. I could accept she was a liar, except when she was lying about me or to me. I could accept that she made unwise decisions. I could accept that she followed her heart more than her logic. I could accept all her idiosyncrasies. What I could not accept is how she would berate, humiliate, degrade, and look at me with seething hatred (to name a few) … these are some the things I could not tolerate.

I know, not much faith stuff is shared on here but I came across a scripture passage this morning that explains mothers like mine VERY well, so am sure the nature of this passage will not offend anyone here as there is so much truth to it:

“The words of a whisperer or a slanderer are like dainty morsels or words of sport [to some, but to others are like deadly wounds]; and they go down into the innermost parts of the body [or of the victim’s nature]. Burning lips [uttering insincere words of love] and a wicked heart are like an earthen vessel covered with the scum thrown off from molten silver [making it appear to be solid silver]. He who hates pretends with his lips, but stores up deceit within himself. When he speaks kindly, do not trust him, for seven abominations are in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness shall be shown openly before the assembly. Whoever digs a pit [for another man’s feet] shall fall into it himself, and he who rolls a stone [up a height to do mischief], it will return upon him. A lying tongue hates those it wounds and crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” ~ Proverbs 26:22-28 (Amp. Vers.)

It took me a long time to really see how unauthentic she really was. It was like a game to her – a game of hatred. It confirms to me that my mother really did hate me – just as I thought – for years, which brought me face-to-face with a decision: to endure it or escape it. I chose to escape it. It was the sane thing to do. And, 12 years later – I still don’t regret that decision.

It was a hard lesson to learn … but here is the brutal truth: You CANNOT make someone love you. Everyone chooses who they will love (I’m not talking affectionate feeling kind of love, but the real kind that has action behind it.) My mother chose to not love me, in fact she chose to hate me, loathe me even. And I chose to not put up with it. I gave her years to change, she didn’t. She wouldn’t. And so I moved on.

Great post, Darlene!


Mimi ~ #17 – love that!! I like the Jeremiah verse you shared too – thank you!!


Emma – post #10 – I so went through that too. “If you’d only talk to your mom.” They have no idea how different our mothers are with us than they are to everyone else!!! And so we get tagged the ‘ugly’ card because we the victims are supposed to ‘fix it.’ Grrrr.

Like I mentioned before, “You cannot make someone love you.” If its not in them, you’re never going to get it.


Hi Caden
Excellent comments. I feel the same way too. There is so much crap “out there” about obligation towards our parents but it only goes one way. They were not obligated? it doesn’t make sense to me to live in that system. I have never been so healthy or happy as I have been since I broke out of that system. I am not talking about the fact that my mother made me do too much housework or that she teased me in front of people. I am talking about being dehumanized. I am talking about things that were illegal. I accept that people are like that, (pathetic as it is) but they don’t get to be in my life anymore because they are like that.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Wray Lynn
Welcome to Emerging from broken
I have a facebook button on the right side bar. Please feel free to link with my site.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Celeste
Ya it is so easy for them to tell us that “we can’t handle the truth”… when said in that context it is manipulative and abusive. I wonder why people think I would be “sorry” for refusing to be treated like dirt??
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Karenina
Excellent comments ~ thanks for adding your voice!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Emma
EXACTLY! Those are the choices. It took me a long time to stop caring about the judgement of others. I felt like I had to “prove” that I was justified or else they would be “right” about me. I was really bent on getting that “acceptance” because I had been so convinced that I needed to be defined differently than the way that I had always been defined by “them”. finally I came to understand that I don’t need to convince anyone else. They have made up their minds about me and about family dynamics ~ and I can’t do anything about that, but I stopped engaging or trying to prove that I am justified in the way that I feel. I KNOW that I am not bad for any of this.
I always hear that “my mother had a hard life” line too ~ and I say “so what?.. what does that even mean?” I don’t get much of a response..
I think I am strong enough and brave enough only because I found out what was keeping me scared and weak. and it was the whole pack of lies that I lived with for so very long)
Hugs, Darlene


Kate and Emma,


If anyone else tells me to accept her just as she is… I will be honestly able to say “Oh, don’t worry I accept what she is. ”

Let them be confused by the word “accept,” not me!


Hi Pam
YES ~ more brainwashing. I heard that stuff too. The focus is ‘always’ taken off the topic at hand which I call “going down the rabbit trail” and it is a deflection tactic. And for a long time I had to consider each situation carefully (today clarity comes very fast.) It is hard to break out of that loop, but awareness is where it all begins!
Hug, Darlene

Hi Mimi
wow.. I didn’t know about that verse! That is exactly my thoughts about all wounds. And isn’t it interresting how many will repeat that vs. about the truth will set you free until it comes to talking about what that truth actually is!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene (thanks and hugs back)

“She had a hard life!?”

Too sad… too sadistic…she didn’t learn from her hardships not to pass hardship on to her own babies?

“I had it rough, so whoopee, now I get to make it rough on innocent little kids. I’m pregnant? Hooray, now I’ll have a child to take things out on! (Bully illogic? or just sadism?)

NO excuse.


Very interesting article. Coming from a childhood of profound abuse in all areas, and the first few decades of my adult life repeating those dysfunctional patterns (and believing many many lies), I have come to absolutely unreservedly accept others – even my abusers – exactly as they are. That acceptance has been my liberation, my deliverance. Before I could accept their behavior with eyes wide open, I was stuck in the insanity of agony. Now, I am free.

I will always and forever love both of my parents, who were my primary abusers. I choose to have no contact with my father, out of a deep understanding of his reality and inability to be any different than he is. This attitude took many years of recovery for me to reach, and a couple of decades of hating him, then hating me, then having to use rage to stick up for myself, then a beautiful acceptance that includes unconditional love for both him and me along with an understanding that no amount of loving will ever excuse his behavior or keep me safe from it.

I’ve also chosen to build a healthy relationship with my mother, after at one point getting a restraining order against her. It was a huge challenge to me to remain silent while she found her own way in recovery, and continues to be an exercise in loving both her and myself enough to realize that her recovery is truly none of my business. But with mindful boundaries and my own spiritual growth, I am finally at that place of complete peace with the history that has made me the amazing person I deeply love today.

For so many years I was unable to even image being in a place of total peace about my past. I wouldn’t trade any of the journey for anything, and I wish all the very best of recovery for every single person – abuser and abused – who is somewhere on the journey that is right for them. In the meantime, I continue offering the possibility of healing to every hurting woman who has gone through severe child (or adult) abuse. Freedom is amazing!



Dee you took the words & life lessons right out of my mouth! As a recovering ACOA… I too have learned the ART of acceptance. I accept what works for me… I value ME now more than ever. It has to WORK for me, then and only then can I love my neighbor as i love myself… If I am full of victim thinking and self hate, isn’t that whaat i would expect from my neightbor?
Raise the bar and your standards that work for you! i believe in adocating & empowering for others what works for them. Just because it works one way for me does not mean my solution i the answer to your problem.
Al-Anon has been a life saver for me. it helps me to breaked through all the barriers and false beliefs i had about me. Shatteing these beliefs has been life changing. I had to move through tons & tons of fear and false beliefs, I had to let go of others that i was so dependant on for a secure answers. I had to find the courge to follow my own path and make my own mistakes. I had to be okay with myself. i must say this was extremely difficult at first. It was like being reborn, I had to let go of everything I knew in life…I had to grieve my past and let go of me. I had to kill the anger and resentments in my heart. Then and only then was I able to love unconditionally. This NEVER means to me you get to walk all over me anymore. It means i don’t judge you as you live your life. I really don’t care anymore what others think of me either. Having my own value and worth, means i have my own honest standards that work for me. If others don’t like it they can choose to leave.
I don’t need others opinions to validate me. I am whole.. I am enough.. I have worked HARD to rebuild my esteem & value me.
So like Dee, I continue with my recovery and healing that work for me.
I also this is directly linked to how we learn love, if we were emtionally abandoned, if we were told we were love & abused, if we were demanded of… this is how we saw & learned a love that is false.
Real love does not demand, it reflects true acceptance of each other, it encourages others to grow who we were born to be. It’s never controlling, demanding, abusive.
All I can add is KNOW what works for you. Have deal breakers, limits, boundaries in any relationship you choose. know how you want to be treated. i love the saying… “We teach others how we want to be treated”, so true!
Keep healing one day at a time…



Welcome to Emerging from Broken! I hope I am following your comments with my response.
It sounds like you are saying that the only way for you to have found freedom is by accepting your parents and unconditionally loving them. I have found my freedom by accepting them as abusers who refused to stop abusing and by acknowledging the damage caused to me and drawing all appropriate boundaries. I assume that your mother desires to mend the difficulties and that she has stopped abusing you in the relationship and that is why you are able to work on the relationship with her. Most of the readers here would love to be in such a situation but that is not the case. There are a few who have parents who want to heal the relationship but in most cases the parents insist on holding the power and control and refuse to see equal value in their grown children. (I can accept this about my own parents however I don’t put myself in that situation anymore.) In many cases here the parents of my readers should be in prison for the crimes they have committed against their own children and suggesting unconditional love is very hurtful but I would love for you to explain what unconditional love (and even the word love for that matter) means to you before I respond more about that in case I am misunderstanding you.

I too wish the the very best and for recovery for all, abused and abusers as I know that all abusers abuse out of their own victim mentality but the healing for me came when I finally stopped looking at the abusers as victims.

Hugs, Darlene


unconditional love… ” It was a huge challenge to me to remain silent while she found her own way in recovery, and continues to be an exercise in loving both her and myself enough to realize that her recovery is truly none of my business. But with mindful boundaries and my own spiritual growth, I am finally at that place of complete peace with the history that has made me the amazing person I deeply love today.” by RJ Coach
I think this sums it quite nicely. It means I don’t have to control, judge, excect anything from anothers recovery, while working on my own recovery. We are all on our own healing path.
I can say having recently walked down some of my mothers same path’s I think I have more empathy for her journey. Our relationship is not a close one. As it has been strined over the years. I love my mother, I have come to accept her on her terms. It does not have to work for me. I personally think she’s harder on herself than anyone else.
While I remain true to my core values & boundaries. THAT is where I think acceptance comes into the relationship…. without some level of acceptance, the only thing left in my opinion IS control.
I have had a lifetime of controlling my responces to fit into anothers world for acceptance. letting all of this go and KNOWING what works for me is ME accepting myself and my core beliefs that work for me.
Staying in resentment only allows me to stay stuck. Knowing what works for me = freedom to be me.


Hi Suzanne
I am not sure how this got to be about accepting someone else’s recovery; my parents are not in recovery at all. This article is about acceptance and more specifically about being told to accept people the way they abuse or mistreat and as I have said I can accept her the way that my mother for instance, is, but I don’t have to accept her abuse.
When you say “Staying in Resentment only allows me to stay stuck” are you indicating that you feel I am staying in resentment by the way that I express myself here?

I am confused by your saying that it doesn’t have to work for you. (about accepting your mother on her terms) It doesn’t work for me if my mother abuses me which is her relational style when it comes to me. The only way that I can remain true to my core values is to draw those boundaries and this article is about being judged FOR choosing to have those boundaries.

I love what you said at the end when you say knowing what works for you = freedom ~ that is how I feel as well.
Hugs, Darlene


As for me, I have seen many persons who come from brokenness into a new sense of what seems (from my viewpoint ) to be a forgiveness that isn’t, but is rather a cosmically conscious religiosity from the constant attempts to make sense of the senseless, and the sad attempts to conform with conformity until the formerly abused one enters into a state of complete and somewhat glorious submission to the mainstream religiosity by simulating forgiveness as they are given to understand it, which in essence places them in a position of having risen above the poor sufferers still attempting to work in the earthly plane, and also gives them a sense of ultimate control over those horrid persons who were their abusers and parents, but who out of their glorious newfound light of beneficscence have forgiven those lowly sinners and now shine forth in power and glory forever and ever amen.

Me, I’m still here on earth and still attempt to work out earthly troubles keeping my feet firmly planted upon it.
De Nile is a river in Egypt upon which I do not care to float.

I can write in gloriosa, but I don’t live there. I hope my post is not as offensive to those etherial minded ones who just might have offended me, except that I have been there done that and come back to earth again myself. Happy landing.


Kate, could you please clarify what you were trying to say to me in your reply? I sensed some possible sarcasm or antagonism, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions.


Janie, people have said that to me to. My mother also once told me that I needed to make up with my very abusive siblings because “when I’m gone, they’re all you’ll have.” I don’t understand what sad, lonely little world these people live in where the only people they have to choose from are blood relatives and abusers. I won’t be sad when my mother is dead, because there are so many other people in the world who will respect, validate, and show kindness in a way that my family simply never felt any need or desire to.

Darlene, thanks; you’re right, the idea that we have some moral obligation to our parents after they have violated and done everything in their power to destroy us is ridiculous.


(having trouble getting this post…)

Janie, people have said that to me to. My mother also once told me that I needed to make up with my very abusive siblings because “when I’m gone, they’re all you’ll have.” I don’t understand what sad, lonely little world these people live in where the only people they have to choose from are blood relatives and abusers. I won’t be sad when my mother is dead, because there are so many other people in the world who will respect, validate, and show kindness in a way that my family simply never felt any need or desire to.

Darlene, thanks; you’re right, the idea that we have some moral obligation to our parents after they have violated and done everything in their power to destroy us is ridiculous.


I have been told to accept the way my mother is because she’s my mother. Even to this day she is a liar and a manipulator. She tries to devalue me because I’m the child from her adulterous relationship. I agree with my whole heart on how you define acceptance Darlene. My mother has no respect for me. She doesn’t value my life nor will she ever own that she molested me when I was a little girl.She turned away from me when her husband raped me and I came to her for help. She’s been hating me every since. I love her unconditionally but I don’t trust her and I set my own boundaries with her. My siblings have thought it to be hard to be this way but some are slowly changing their views. It doesn’t matter rather they agree or not. It’s my life and my mother’s behavior towards me is unacceptable. I don’t feel guilty at all from walking away from her. I know that I have given her forgiveness but forgiveness doesn’t mean that I have to continually put myself in the position for her to emotionally abuse me over and over again. And besides that’s not love to allow someone to do that. I wouldn’t be helping her to become a better person by allowing myself to be the target of her bitterness and hatred….I appreciate this post. Thank you Darlene



Karenina (#32) … not sure I follow you. It does remind though in the Christian realm of things that we get taught ‘we must forgive’ which somehow translates to ‘kiss and make up.’ They are not the same thing … is this what you mean??

Forgiveness is forgiving someone a debt owed. It does not mean we have to have relationship with them upon doing so. In my case, when it came to my mother, I can honestly say – it took YEARS for me to genuinely forgive her and I think it was because I was just holding on to too much anger and pain for me to really do it. I can finally say now that I forgive her – I release her from the debt she owes me, where she should have been a loving mother but wasn’t. I can’t say I love her. There was a time I did. Then there was a time I hated her. It’s the truth. And then came … indifference.

And being indifferent has enabled me to say, “I wish you well,” while I step into my life and enjoy it without her abusive behaviour toward me.


I’ve struggled with acceptance also. What has helped me with it is to separate the person from the behavior. I can accept a person for who he or she is, even as an abuser, without accepting the bad behavior. I can acknowledge that I can never change that person. And I can choose to cut that person from my life if the unacceptable behavior continues. This was a very difficult distinction to make, in the beginning of my healing process. Bad behavior doesn’t mean bad person and separating the two makes it easier to accept the person as he/she is. And acceptance doesn’t mean it’s OK to behave badly, it just means that I no longer have an emotional attachment to their bad behavior.

Like most of us who have survived abusive childhoods, I’ve had numerous instances of abusers in my life. Cutting family members out of my life because of continued bad behavior has been very difficult, especially when I’m judged for it by other family members who refuse to listen when I explain. I’ve come to realize that they have their points of view and my explanations challenge that. It costs me NOTHING to allow them to have their points of view, accept them for who they are, and just nod my head when the subject comes up about me cutting family members off. Just because someone is my only sister, mother, father, etc doesn’t mean that I have to keep putting myself in the way of more abuse. Yes, this is a tough road and healing takes time and effort and love. If other family members, for their own reasons, don’t want to see the abuse that happens right under their noses, that’s their choice and I choose to let it be.

And I also choose with whom I spend my time and energy. Yes, I’ve been told that I have to accept my sister’s unacceptable behavior to me just because she is my only sister. And no, I don’t accept the behavior. I DO, however, accept that she is who she is and that I have no control over that. I empower myself by not having much to do with her.

And it’s very freeing.


Hi everyone,
After reading some comments about missing the abuser when he/she is gone. My thoughts on that are, I don’t miss my mother now and she lives just across town. Why would I miss her if she was gone? How is it possible to miss someone who has stifled and abused me for 44 years? I can’t get my brain around that.

Also, I accept her exactly how she is. It’s hr responsibility to accept me as well. The newer version of me has the freedom to choose what I will tolerate and what I won’t. It’s no different than saying to myself that I won’t tolerate alcoholism in my home. That is a real and present rule. It’s MY decision. It’s MY life. If someone wants to drink like a fish, I accept that. They have to accept that they have to do it somewhere else. My mother has to accept my terms as well as me having to accept her behavior. My terms are that she doesn’t get to abuse me. SHE has to accept that.

It seems like a common theme among nearly everyone – we are expected to accept abusive people, and overlook their abuse. As victims! Why doesn’t anyone talk about what THEY need to accept? (aside from here of course). I don’t hear people saying to the abusers, “you need to accept your victim for the way he/she is, get over it, its in the past, forgive and forget”, etc? Society at large revictimizes victims by implying we are somehow defective because we can’t accept abuse. Society needs a heads up! Start asking the abusers why they can’t accept the victims the way they are. Why do victims always have to man up and “accept”? I think it’s time the abusers man UP!

Just my two cents!
Peace and hope,


Mimi – I do agree with you 110%!!!! Well said!!


Rizae, are you the artist formerly known as Rise’?? Hehe! And, thank you for posting that proverbs piece. So telling!
With Love,


You took the words right out of my mouth when you said, “Why do victims always have to man up and accept? I think it’s time the abusers man UP!”….They are the problem not the victims. Society teaches the victim to “Turn the other cheek” or “Be the Bigger Person”…Well that’s honorable & all, but that doesn’t mean be a door mat either! Just my Rant for today LOL


hi all,

Rizae the verse that you quoted as perfect for describing the behaviour we have to deal with. Thanks for that.

I liked the way you said you cant make someone love you. Coincidentally, i use those same words too when I am trying to explain myself for walking away!!.

Darlene, thank you for your comment to me, yes, I am working on having to justify my decisions of no contact and I think it may be wise for me not to explain or justify my decisions now and work on not actually caring what family think! I do get this terrible feeling of being judged as something awful and its hard to shake off at times, especially when my true friends outside of family love me and even thank me when I have spent time with them, its such extreme opposites!! People outside family love me, people within family hate me! How confusing is that?

Karenina, I totally get your comment about spirituality and forgiveness. I understand how sometimes when people have been abused they become really spiritual and forgive everyone, but forgiveness to me is just accepting what happened and no longer hating that person. I think to forgive doesn’t mean having to spend time with the abusers. For me its just not hating them as that destroys me too.


Rizae,( # 37 inre #32) Yes, that is a very succinct way of stating what my “worlds longest sentence” was rambling on about!

Emma, (#43 inre #32) Yes, you did get it, and I like your definition of what forgiveness means to you.

I have had religious people in my personal experience who interpreted such words as “acceptance” and “forgiveness” in such a way as to say that they had risen to a point of spiritual understanding far beyond most other people. And to a point of spiritual understanding that, according to their words and attitudes, had made them “holier than thou” and apparently gave them a sense of power and control. This power and control was over those they had pardoned or forgiven for their sins, and extended to over anyone else that had not “reached the heights” of their own “spiritual understanding.”

When they spoke of their own forgiving, they seemed to be doling out judgement, forgiveness and advice/how to’s/preachings from their own self-righteous sense of holiness. (Perhaps they took being “the bigger person” a bit too literally?)

They also liked to tell their stories of how great their forgiving power is, much like the Pharisees who prayed out loud where everyone would take notice of their holiness, and ( likely) where the Pharisee could also attract followers to his teachings.

Even when Bible verses aren’t included, as in some of the “new age” folks, I get a sense of this self-righteousness.

Often these “I have higher spiritual attainment than you” folks speak in what I called “Gloriosa” and seem to live there in their minds, far above the likes of those struggling through troubles in a more “down to earth” way. This is to me, yet a higher level of narcissism.

There was once someone who, it is said, had higher spiritual attainment than anybody on earth. About those who abused little ones, he said it would be better for abusers to have a millstone on their necks and be cast into the sea than to face judgement having harmed those little ones. Some folks are much more forgiving than that, I guess, which makes them, what, even more righteous than He?

Post #32 is written in words similar in tone (gloriosa) to writings or speeches of some of these folks who might have succumbed to pressures to forgive solely in order to attain approval of society and some sense of power over
others. These folks seem to me to be confused still, and maybe abused still, having fallen under the persuasion of gurus or religious leaders who are narcissistic themselves, rather than standing firm. A fall from the heights of Gloriosa is a hard landing indeed.


I might add, though perhaps I shouldn’t, that the name of the capital city of (imaginary) Gloriosa would likely be named after, say, Saint Sanctimonious?


Something I observe in the new age religion is, there is a beautiful group of verses they fixate on. And, forget all the others. BUT, they’re the spiritual professionals. They are to be glorified for their direct link to the Almighty. There is a sense of self-righteousness. I see that too. I believe my sister is being taken advantage of deeply by the self-righteous. Perhaps even abused. My sister is in blind awe of them. My sister who I always admired for her strength, is actually very weak up against them. Nothing I could ever say would make an impact, and in fact it would tick my sister off. I just keep my mouth shut and let her be sucked further in. Not my problem. From an outsider’s perspective, I can see that this spiritual family saw her coming and enveloped her at the outset. Now, several years have passed since they met and my sister uprooted her family last year and moved to the same city as this pastor and his wife. She works for them now. I laugh inside a little because it’s so clear to me, and she’s so oblivious. YET, she has a self righteous undertone as well. It’s no way except her way spiritually. The problem is that her way is whatever the pastor and his wife SAY it is. I thought I was a weak person and that my sister was a pillar of strength. When she speaks as though she has an edge over me spiritually, I want to laugh because I see the big picture with this family she has followed. Spiritually advanced, yet oblivious to the actors in her life. Not what I’m worrying about…. today, or any day!! (this family’s last name is Adams. Appropriately named by me, “The Adam’s Family”) 🙂

With Hope,


I like to think in terms of:

1)What relational dynamic do I have with a certain person, rather than “what is this certain person like?”.

2)How does this person treat ME, rather than “what is this person like?”.

I find those questions much easier to answer.


Its amazing to see how many of these posts i can relate to, just when you thought u were all alone,& the people around u can’t relate or they just figure you should get over it, being as its been a long time….what i try to educate people on is that most fears 7 trust issues we face today stems from our childhood/upbringing…in my case i was forced to grow up at an early age,(10yrs old)so childhood i didn’t have..I am from the islands and in most households to them it seems normal…i’ve been abused in every form. (sexual, verbal, physical & emotional)…you would think love starts from the home? but growing up i didn’t get i love u’s, rewards, thank you’s nor any encouragement from my mother, the only thing i can remember from her is abuse all negative vibes..at 10yrs old i was taking care of my 2yr old brother and by the time i was 13yrs old i was taking care of my brother who then turned 5yrs old and here comes my little sister who was 9mths old. my dad was hardly home for he’s a cop, and a womanizer, my mom’s focus was on him and what he was out there doing…@ times she would just come home and any thing thats visible from cutting a piece of the garden hose, to some electrical wires etc. she would just beat me up cuts and all for NOTHING”, ffwd now tht i’m grown i see that its because she had no control over my dad’s cheating behaviors which thats her main thing trying to control” and she refused to leave him, so all that anger that she couldn’t take out on him she did on who reminded her of him which was me..the funny thing about it is that once he did come home, it was all peace and safety like the abuse never happened..therefore my beatens depended on if daddy came home or if daddy did gave her any problems.(which he frequently did)..by the time i was 16 i became pregnant and i came to the US. when i had my son @ 17yrs old thats when i found love..(choked up just nw with happiness), yes my son’s dad was abusive to me(belittling me) every chance he got, but i didn’t grow seeing any different from my own abusive home, but i knew it didn’t felt right and i’d be a hypocrite to put my son through what i grew up resenting, i couldn’t have my son feeling the same way i did to my own mother, so i did what was best and left his father, it was a positive move for both me and my son, he’s now 12yrs old and his father plays no role in his life, because he’s trying to spite me for moving on with my life, but thank god my son don’t know from abuse and know all but love. i also have a 5 year old daughter whose dad only calls her on the phone, met her only once..i refuse to play victim anymore but i can honestly say i chose these men at a time in my life when i wasn’t feeling so worthy of myself, so instead of thinking about myself i was thinking about them feeling sorry for them, again a pattern of what i grew up on..the relationship resulted in 2 beautiful children i love and adore and wouldn’t short change them for nothing/ no one.. the relationship with my mom still isn’t great because i’ve realized that in all this i am and will always been the child, and i’ve carried her burdens for at least 20yrs, remember i’m only 29yrs old goin on 30yrs..she plays victim in this as if she doesn’t remember how she treated me, now that she don’t have my dad nor any man at all she SMOTHERS me, checks up on me daily, which is irritating to me, but for some reason i feel bad in telling her to stop..why is that thou??..she’s 51yrs old and if i try to bring up the past she literally throws a tantrum like a big kid,i know she’s indeed toxic..what advice can u give me in dealing with her that would be best for me and my children? thank u in advance..


This post meant SO much to me! Thank you! Ever since I was 12 I’ve tried to speak up for myself when my mother, my sister, my aunt, or my grandmother would say hurtful things to me … the response was ALWAYS always always along the lines of “you should just accept that they’re trying to help you. You must have a problem if you can’t accept help.” Or “If you ever feel hurt by my comments, you should just ignore it and accept that I’m actually trying to be nice.” In what SICK world? How is telling a child that they are fat, ugly, repulsive … EVER ‘trying to be nice’? When I stood up for myself this last time – after some VERY hurtful insults said about me to another family member while I was in ear shot – I once again got the ‘something must be wrong with YOU for being offended’ response. Never ‘I’m sorry my words hurt you ….’ etc. Such would be an admittance of imperfection on their part – which is simply not going to happen. I don’t stand up to such comments hoping for any kind of fellow feeling on their part. I stand up to such comments to show myself (and anyone around) that such behavior is unacceptable.

My ‘acceptance’ is not of unacceptable behavior, as I’ve promised myself I will either leave or stand up to such – because I don’t deserve to be treated that way (And I don’t want for my kids to see that pattern of abuse and thus be taught that it is acceptable – if I were to stick around for it, or not speak up). But, my ‘acceptance’ is that I now realize that absolutely no amount of speaking up for myself will make them have a ‘change of heart’ and suddenly begin treating me with respect. I ‘accept’ that they are in their own bubble of denial, and that I don’t have to ‘accept’ their behavior as a part of my life now. I ‘accept’ that I’m NOT crazy for being hurt by hurtful behavior – rather they are crazy for being hurtful then expecting love in return.
Your site has helped me so much, Darlene, I can’t even express how grateful I am that I’ve found EFB! I feel less and less crazy the more I read … I feel like I’m having to do a total overhaul of my brain – screwed up thinking patterns I’ve been raised with, a.k.a. ‘warped belief system’ – and it’s hard, all that raw emotion being dragged out of the dark corners of my mind … I’ve wanted to give up on the process so many times, as it can dredge up a lot of pain … but then I realize, what would I be going back to? At least now I’m beginning to understand WHY I’ve been hurting for so long …
Thanks again for the post! (((((((huge, grateful HUG)))))))


I understand what you are saying, and thank you for understanding what I was saying!

On the other hand, it is almost understandable that some would be seeking a new paradigm since the religion(s) under Christianity have in some ways been created from ideas prevalent in ancient philosophies, many of which were erroneous.

One example is the Medieval concept that biology shows women to be inferior, defective, malformed, or undeveloped, males implanted by the male seed in a state of male weakness, perhaps due to “not enough heat” sometimes caused by “the South wind blowing.”

When on the contrary, we know now that the “male seed” has chromosomes for either females or males. And that women are not just “fertile earth” in which “heavenly soul-containing seed” are planted, but rather have equally important chromosomal material in their ova.

These ideas are somewhat expressed and, in fact retained, when modern theologians cite St. Thomas of Aquinas as a principal founder of religious theology, without correction or commentary on his errors regarding women, or when more secular philosophies cite Aristotle as a principal founder of western philosophy without correction or commentary on his errors regarding women.

This is not really “off on another tangent” because looking up terms like “resentment vs. righteous anger” for
definition and understanding even on Wikipedia TODAY will refer one to the writings of St. Thomas
Aquinas, who used in his “Theologica Summa,” Aristotle among others as references for his arguments and

Stated simply, many “loaded terms” we are given in the name of morality or of religion are defined, extrapolated upon, and determined moral or immoral by such men as these, smart but often in error, in dates medieval or even more ancient. People who think they “follow Jesus” “or follow moral principles” often are more likely following men who follow men who follow men (ad infinitum) who thought they were following, but really weren’t following… Such is the history of religion and philosophy.

Unfortunately the blind do lead the blind.

Anyhow, another long post which I hope does not lead to confusion. Just trying in my long- winded way to explain that I do not believe that any fully human person today has a full, correct, and complete understanding of any
religion nor of moral terminology. (Even though such loaded moral terminology is all we have to use…)

And, due to all this, I cannot condemn anyone for trying whatever path out of this morass of religiosity, as long as they are not deliberately seeking evil/cruel/inhumane paths.

At any rate, I don’t judge anyone for their choice of religious affiliation, since religion has so often gone so awry for so long. I just do not like sanctimonious people telling me what is right and what is wrong and what I should believe in, and defining for me these loaded terms according to their understanding of St. Thomas of Aquinas’ or Aristotles’
Original definitions which they likely haven’t even read…


Mimi ~ #41 – Yes, this is me, ‘Risé’ – I thought for on here I would spell my name like it sounds as not many get how to pronounce it! 🙂

Emma ~ #43 – I thought it was appropriate for sure.

Karenina ~ #44 – Oh, I get you there – I am a Christian and experienced this same thing. That is why I struggled with forgiveness for years and then I did an exhaustive study on it – and its not what many Christians think it is. When we’ve been abused – being able to forgive is NOT easy, in fact, its downright excruciating. It took me a long time. And then I didn’t want to forgive because it was taught to me that if I forgive that then I have to reconcile and I DID NOT want to do that. Thank God (literally) those are two different things. I feel for you on that one. I felt it too. <3


Once again I have fallen behind in my commenting ~ and I am really loving this conversation and want to say SO much!

Karenina ~ I enjoy the way you express yourself and your thoughts. I too can relate to trying for so long to make sense of the senseless… and now I live in the truth. Thank you for all your comments.

Will ~ I have also heard all forms of “because she is your mother”. What the heck does that MEAN? No one can tell me what it means because it is a manipulative thing to say. I tend to think about the motive people have in giving these directives and I can come up with many!

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Gloria
How do you separate the person from the behaviour? You say behaviour doesn’t mean “bad person” ~ I don’t understand at all what that means. I was sexually abused as a child by a good person? Are you saying that their behaviour should be separated from who they are? I totally agree that I have no control over someone else and that I can’t change them, but really don’t understand the idea of separating that person from his or her behaviour..
Hugs, Darlene


Well said! I am going to re-print it!

Mimi said: It seems like a common theme among nearly everyone – we are expected to accept abusive people, and overlook their abuse. As victims! Why doesn’t anyone talk about what THEY need to accept? (aside from here of course). I don’t hear people saying to the abusers, “you need to accept your victim for the way he/she is, get over it, its in the past, forgive and forget”, etc? Society at large revictimizes victims by implying we are somehow defective because we can’t accept abuse. Society needs a heads up! Start asking the abusers why they can’t accept the victims the way they are. Why do victims always have to man up and “accept”? I think it’s time the abusers man UP!

In my victim mentality I thought that if I could LOVE enough to heal these people then they would stop abuseing me. I thought I could show them that I accepted them and proved to them that they were good and worthy of love that they would love me back. But the truth is that it doesn’t work that way and NOT drawing boundaries only gave them permission to keep abusing me. Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Emma
It really helped me looking at the reasons why I was not contacting and when I gave up trying to resolve the problems. I had to reassure myself a LOT that it was okay to take care of myself and the way that I empowered myself was to keep looking at the truth about WHY I was drawing the boundaries.
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. about hate; I felt hate for a couple of people that had really treated me badly, but it passed as I went through the healing process. (Now I feel neutral towards them.) I remember thinking that they had “no right or reason” to have treated me that way especially my father in law, and I remember thinking about the “no right” thing in relation to thinking my mother actually HAD a right because she was my mother. Another false lie I had to expose to myself. I never felt hate for my parents but I did feel pain, hurt and then anger as part of the process.
Hugs, Darlene


On unconditional love:

In Western religious based morality, using examples of the highest authority given us, I do not see unconditional love.

God/Jehovah/JVHV says it’s conditional upon our worshiping none else.

Jesus says it’s conditional upon our belief in him.

Do Westerners who claim to love unconditionally, then, claim to have a greater capacity for love than these?

Such things do confuse me, so I seriously am asking for opinions on the term “unconditional” as regards “love” both of which terms’ definitions could be also defined in various ways.

(Oh, and please don’t confuse the issue with your explanations of the love and will of a being we cannot possibly comprehend with the “sorry but I have to send you to everlasting fire even though I love you so very very much”kind of “love,” cause I don’t buy that…Not from one omnipotent. And a loving creator who gave us free will but not enough understanding so that we could possibly choose hellfire is, to me, kinda like a mom “blessing” her toddler with free will to use or not use a loaded gun, which she herself loaded, handed to him, and showed him where the trigger is… In other words…please don’t define what Gods love is or means unless you are absolutely certain you fully understand God, and feel qualified to speak for him. Be wary, as he said prophets who claimed to speak for him, but did not should be stoned to death…
I don’t speak for him (as far as I know) I don’t speak against him (on purpose) however I do question the ideas OTHERS present to me as something I MUST believe or be damned, given that I have yet to meet a human on earth who speaks with the actual authority of God, rather than an assumption of said authority based on sanctimony.
Whew. So back to my question, please?


Hi Kera
Great examples of how saying hurtful things is justified and not only justified by them but used again to put the kid down for being hurt by it! All part of that brainwashing that has to be undone. No one deserves that kind of treatment and disrespect and yay that you don’t want your kids to accept it as “normal”.
Great comments! Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Shawna-Kay
Welcome to EFB! There is so much information in this site that will help you to find the answers you are looking for. I would start with the mother daughter category. There are hundreds of articles and each of them has a discussion that I know you will find helpful in sorting things out.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I know that you do live in the truth. And I really appreciate that you work in a “down to earth” way and never speak Gloriosa. 😉


Hi Darlene,

Another great post. So relevant to me right now, too.

I agree with the other posters who have said that we don’t have to stay with family members who hurt us just because they are family, as though just because they are family they are somehow irreplaceable. My father has been gone for seven years now, and I went NC with him and my stepmother for three years before that. No, I don’t miss him. I actually feel relieved. Boy, this may be one of the only places I can say that.

I keep thinking about post #27 and what I see as implied criticism of Darlene’s message in it. It’s funny, I do not accept my family’s behavior and yet this does not put me in a feeling of agony. I do not feel unconditional love for them and I am unapologetic about this and I am quite fine with it and don’t see it as an obstacle to my happiness or wholeness. I am certainly not going to say that I wouldn’t trade any part of my journey for anything. That is far from the truth. My family’s abuse and my subsequent unconscious behavior damaged my life for many years and I WOULD gladly have traded that for life with a conscious, loving family, or that I would have found truly helpful therapy and advice many years ago. When I hear someone say how all their pain was indispensible to making them who they are today, I feel like this is again making excuses for abuse. I feel that if I were to seek coaching, Darlene’s approach would be far more honest and helpful to me than this.

Darlene, I have also been rereading your post “Rebuilding My Relationship With Me.” That set of questions has been really helpful in my current fog-busting in understanding my relationship with my brother. For many years I didn’t classify him as an abuser. I had thought he was one person who understood the truth about our parents and was on my side. But lately he has been exhibiting all the signs of acting as if I do not have equal value in our relationship, as well as pulling away from me when I try to reach out to him, even while SAYING how he loves me, wants us to be close, etc. But actions speak louder that words and his actions have been to make promises and then break them, and then invalidate my feelings about this and act like I am just being an unreasonable nag. So I have bookmarked that post to refer to when I start to feel guilty!

I have been having trouble posting from my new phone and I don’t always have computer access, so it may take me time to respond again, but I am reading every day and keeping up with all the comments on this and other threads because it helps me so much personally, and to read about the insights and healing of so many of you wonderful people with whom I feel so much fellowship.

Peace to all,


Hi Sophia
You make some great points!
I too have pondered on that saying; “I wouldn’t have traded any of my journey for anything”. It did make me who I am today however I have spent most of my adult life healing from the damage caused to me and trying to get back to the original me; the me that I was born to be in the first place. I finally achieved that when I was about 46 years old! I am not feeling any “gratitude” for having been abused. Having said that, I LOVE my life now and I love the work I do but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have LOVED my life if I had never been abused in the first place.

My brother and I were pretty close I thought until I started to change. Looking back on it all now I know he too loved my compliance. When I started to have an opinion, I saw a different side of him. This is a very hard part of recovery and I see it expressed very often by others too. The fear of the fall out when the rest of the family and extended family and friends doesn’t like the new me standing up to the dysfunctional system. I have come to understand that “they” are comfortable in that dysfunction and they may not want to pursue the depth of healing that I have pursued, and that people do resist change (even if it is ME that wants to change) but I decided not to let that stop me. I miss the relationship that I had with that particular brother, but when I think about why I miss it I am not sure. I agreed with him all the time and he didn’t really see me as an individual. But when we were kids he was my advocate and I miss that I guess.
Hugs, Darlene


I used to live there and I was fluent in “Gloriosa”. (love that term by the way)… it was just a band-aid for a pain that needed surgery, repair and then stitches. I was constantly having to adjust my thinking in that old system of accepting that everything was exactly how it was supposed to be and the problem was me and my lack of acceptance. I tried many things before I tried the plain and painful truth that I talk about in this site. I know the difference between what I “thought worked” and what has really worked.
Love your comments.
Hugs, Darlene



When you say that your brother was not comfortable with the depth of your healing and change, that has a familiar feeling in it. My brother certainly acknlowledges that our family was dysfunctional, but he actually seems uncomfortable at just how much insight I am gaining now. He told me that he had tried therapy but he stopped because he did not know how to just put all those uncomfortable emotions “back into the box” at the end of the session so he could just go about his life without all those inconvenient feelings popping up. It can be so hard for people to see that not suppressing all these feelings may be uncomfortable but will ultimately lead to healing.

Opening myself up to the truth also forced me to own all the damage I have done in my unconscious times. I think it would be very difficult for my brother to ever admit that he has hurt others as well. He seems to want to project the idea that he is such a mellow, have-it-all-together kind of person. It’s just that he HAS left a string of marriages and relationships where his denial has hurt people. Am I getting closer to understanding why now my own progress could be a threat to him, even if he doesn’t fully know why?

I’m sad about this because I would like for him to find genuine healing and happiness in his lifetime. But I can try to accept that this may not be. Actually, before I had all this insight lately, I had been considering asking him for help and advice on some work projects I am considering because he does have a lot of business experience, but my intuition has been fairly screaming that even this would be tricky in his current emotional state. Besides, he won’t even answer my calls when I do try to reach him to talk, so I guess I’d better try to find another business mentor!




“When a child abuse victim or survivor is disbelieved, shamed, threatened into silence, or when the DISCLOSURE IS MINIMIZED, the trauma inflicted by ***WILLFUL IGNORANCE AND LACK OF EMPATHY*** compounds the original trauma. Children can withstand a lot with the help of other people; but the denial or rejection of children’s normal thoughts & feelings about trauma can cause as much pain as the original trauma… ”
~”Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence — from domestic abuse to political terror” by Judith Herman, MD



I wholeheartedly agree with your post, and particularly as regards your feelings about post #27. Sophia means wisdom, and your words here seem both wise and well stated.


Hi Michelle
Great quote. Thank you for posting it!
Hugs, Darlene


Sophia, great points! I totally agree. I seem to do fine without these magical one-word solutions (acceptance, forgiveness, ETC) that so many people fixate on. I just go with my natural feelings and it doesn’t get in the way of my healing. I also have always cringed at the moralistic statement that people “wouldn’t trade a thing.” I would change everything if I could, I don’t enjoy the fact that I had to spend virtually all of my life so far either being abused or trying to recover from that abuse. I think it’s really important to keep in mind that what happened wasn’t good. I’ve seen people take this “I wouldn’t trade a thing” mentality to the point where they didn’t even believe in intervening in a child’s life to stop them from being abused.


Hi Darlene.
There are some fantastic posts here! This was a great topic!
Getting back to your reply to my last post. And sorry if I jumbled it all into a brief paragraph… Just so much healing has happened for me. Hard to put it all in on paragraph! ;>)

I am not sure how this got to be about accepting someone else’s recovery; my parents are not in recovery at all. –
This article is about acceptance and more specifically about being told to accept people the way they abuse or mistreat and as I have said I can accept her the way that my mother for instance, is, but I don’t have to accept her abuse.-
When you say “Staying in Resentment only allows me to stay stuck” are you indicating that you feel I am staying in resentment by the way that I express myself here? –
I am confused by your saying that it doesn’t have to work for you. (about accepting your mother on her terms) It doesn’t work for me if my mother abuses me which is her relational style when it comes to me. The only way that I can remain true to my core values is to draw those boundaries and this article is about being judged FOR choosing to have those boundaries. –

I love the awareness your blog has brought to so many of us you have Accepted life as it was and then had an awakening that they are more then they believe they were told.
Keep up the good work! Love you pages!


When I read the section of my post that you copied, it was as if it came from someone else. I had an aha moment….

I am expected by people around me, to accept my mom just how she is. Continue in a relationship with her, despite her escalating manipulation, lies, etc. You know what really struck me when I read my own words…. WHY didn’t she accept me? All the time when I was growing up (from 8 or 9 which is the first of my memories for the most part), why didn’t she accept me as an individual? As a person with feelings? As someone who wanted to do good? As someone who wanted to be loved, like anyone does? As a human being who was damaged by her and her slouch husband? Why didn’t she accept my opinions, my feelings about things? Why did my thoughts go abrasively against her grain, and result in her rejecting me for being me? If I wasn’t just like her, that meant rejection. She’s still that way, with many people.

I’m not actually asking you to answer these questions. I just became stumped when I had that aha moment. It’s all about whether we accept, or how we accept the abusers ~ how we survive in our own circumstances. The truth I just uncovered is that, for me, it began with UNacceptance. In reverse. It’s an irony I’m not putting into words very well, I’m afraid.

Since a cat has my tongue, I’ll wrap it up!

Goodnight to everyone,


Caden and all
I like your comment about “these magical one word solutions). I have thought about writing a post about that saying “nothing happens by mistake” a phrase that I tried to live by for YEARS. And holy smokes the damage that it caused me to try and believe that I had been abused as part of God’s plan. And Caden you make a good point when you say that some people believe that to the extent where they don’t even try to advocate on behalf of a child!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Mimi
That is really cool that your own words impacted you that way! I totally relate to what you are saying. It was really really painful when I started to ask those questions (why didn’t she accept me and why did she treat me that way?) and I think that is the pain I tried to avoid all those years. Not just with my mother but with all abusers/controllers/manipulators/oppressors in my life.
I think you put it into words VERY well!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sophia
Interesting that your brother wanted to put all those uncomfortable emotions BACK in the box! I think that “box” is where all the depressions etc. failed relationships and on and on, come from in the first place.
and YES ~ “THIS IS SO HARD AND SO LIBERATING” that is the quote of the day!!!
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for commenting. I’m still amazed at the things I continue to realize during this process. Things I never expect. I knew with my head she never accepted me. I think it just hit my heart. I’m not really sad, just another level of awareness I guess. I imagine someone asking me to accept her as she is, overlook her lies and BS. Then I imagine saying, “why would I do that? It all started when she wouldn’t accept me, as a child, as a human. Explain why I need to accept her for her purposeful evildoing?” I am going to tuck that statement away for later use. I bet there will be an opportunity to use it.

I just realized it’s the WHY questions you often talk about that really stump people. It’s time for me to start asking that as well. I hope they have some good answers up their sleeve…. it’s time to start answering questions with a question. Why am I MORE obligated to accept her than she was me? She was the parent after all, the adult leading the way! I was just a kid and I came nowhere near doing the crafty BS she does. And, she’s way old enough to know better.

On another note, I would love to read your views on the beautiful bible verses that are rehearsed and rehearsed without regard to the “rest” of the story. And, your views on the “magic bullet” words that you and Caden were speaking of. Like the verse in Jeremiah ~ why don’t people talk about that verse and as you said in another comment about the truth setting us free. People spew that verse at every turn, but still fail to really embrace truth.

With Hope,


Hi all,
I definitely think it is the abusers who need to learn acceptance of their victims – how dare these people find anyone – especially a child – so unacceptable that abuse becomes the solution? My narcissistic mother began to find me “unacceptable” when, at about 10 years old, l started to want to make friends with other kids, and not be completely enmeshed with her. I was treated as if l had betrayed her in some way, simply by developing an identity of my own. This totally normal and healthy individuation process was regarded as some kind of heinous crime on my part, that l had comitted in order to deliberately hurt my mother. Enabling father went along with this, of course. The two them were absoloutely disgusted by the fact that l was beginning the process of growing up. I was made to feel dirty, defective and selfish for being a normal kid. As for “wouldnt trade my journey for anything”, well sorry, but I bloody well would! I am still angry about the wasted decades of my precious life. Decades during which I thought it was normal to accept abuse and think l was responsible, to the point of apologizing to my abusers for “making” them do it. Decades during which a seemingly never-ending parade of narcissists, addicts, pathological liars and other assorted nut-jobs marched through my life, leaving devastation in their wake, and why? Because they felt familiar. My parents could’nt have made a worse job of raising me if they tried! What greater disservice and damage could you possibly do a child, than to condition them to tolerate dangerous, abusive people and situations? Its almost laughable! Well, they have both been dead awhile now but I dont “accept” them, even in death. No photos of them adorn the walls of my home, no sentiments, no wistful reminiscences are fall from my lips. No gratitude that they brought me into the world. I am still here in spite of them, not because of them. And yes, like a lot of you here, my siblings do not want to face the truth, so I am NC with them as I do not “accept” denial either.

Love, Sylvia x



In your post #5, you said:

“I don’t have to accept abusive treatment from anyone, give them my understanding, or let them back in my life. I’ve heard people say things like “you have to accept that you have the mother you have, not the mother you would like.” I certainly don’t, there are lines that should not be crossed.”

I loved what you said here about not having to accept the mother that you had…and that there are lines that should not be crossed. And one of those lines that should not be crossed, in addition to her abusing you is someone else telling YOU how to interpret her abuse of you, or telling YOU how to live and think…

so, I said:

“you have correctly said that there are limits that should not be crossed. And one of those limits is other people speaking for you, telling you how to live and interpret abuse in your life.”

And I should have added to that in this case, her “telling you to accept abuse” is crossing that limit or boundary into being abusive or at least inappropriate herself.

I hope that clears up any confusion. Does that make more sense?


About things said out of context such as bible verses and common sayings; One of the biggest most helpful things that I have done through out the process is to look at what I believed the definitions of love, respect, obedience actually were. I had to finally understand what love was and what it wasn’t. I did that by looking at the false ways that I had been taught “love”. And I had to replace those false beliefs with the truth.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Sylvia
You express beautifully what so many here feel. This is the pain that we are working to overcome. Shoving it under the carpet does not help in overcoming it. Thank you for sharing your true feelings.
Hugs, Darlene


Kate, yes, thank you, that does clear it up perfectly. I just wasn’t sure if you were agreeing or turning what I said back onto me–the latter of which was one of my family’s favorite tactics of emotional abuse. I grew so used to those passive aggressive barbs that it’s difficult to tell if someone is sincere or not. But I see what you meant now and will keep it in mind.

I’ve spent the last twenty four hours in dissociative flashback land, discovering even worse, more unacceptable things that my sick, ugly, pedophile parents did to me. They used me as a sex toy in their bed when I was a child and then they very forcefully rejected me in later years. I don’t owe them anything. I wonder if I had taken some of this poisonous advice at the beginning of my healing journey that I need to do things in their favor if my body would even have given me these precious flashbacks today.


Hi Caden,
When I started my healing journey, after steeling myself to look at my parents and childhood in the harsh light of reality, I, like you, was given a whole bunch of “poisonous advice”. Cliche-ridden rubbish like “Honour thy Mother and thy Father”, “Dont speak ill of the dead”, “Let sleeping dogs lie”, “Theres no point in dragging up the past”, “Just remember the good times”, and my favourite – “Your parents were good people who did their best for you”. Well, thank God I didnt see their worst! And, like you, I suspect that had I listened to this crap, I would not have had access to the flood of painful memories which started to infiltrate my mind in a series of flashbacks. I see these flashbacks as gifts that we access when we open up to healing. I am still having them now, after 3 years in recovery and thank God I am! At least the abuse is being brought into the light of my concious mind and is no longer subconciously festering away, playing havoc with my physical and emotional health, as it once did. My siblings are still plodding along in denial. Their lives are more like living deaths. They know my mother was an abusive nut who screwed us all up, but they dont have the guts to deal with it, under the rug it all goes. Lets change the subject and talk about something nice. The saddest thing is, they have perpetuated similar patterns with their own kids. Yes, of course it is painful to accept that your parents didnt raise you in a normal healthy way, of course we wish they had been supportive and unconditionally loving. But the sooner we accept the truth, and that it wasnt our fault, and concentrate on loving and healing ourselves, the better. They made their choices, now we are making ours. Screw ’em.
Sylvia xx


Hi Sylvia
Concerning your post # 73 DITTO. Sometimes it is so unbelievable that many of you didn’t grow up
in my house. The stories are so parallel. I mean word for word. Its so incredibly helpful just to know I
am not the “crazy one” that I was always put down to be. The training to accept abuse. All of it. Now
that I am NC with my abusive mother, there are rumblings from my brother, blaming and shaming that
I am being “bad” again. As a matter of fact, I know that my NC is seen as more of the bad behavior I’m
so known for in my family. They will be pretending that there is no other cause, except that. I try to stay apart from it, try not to beat my self up, but the feelings are most uncomfortable, like crying wolf. They
see it as that. When Karen gets over her bad behavior, we will forgive her and take her back into the fold.
But I don’t want forgiveness or their acceptance again. Because their acceptance leads back to devaluing, abusive behavior towards me. Even though I KNOW Im not being bad , I FEEL like Im being bad. Does that make sense? Thanks for listening.
Oh by the way..I joined the YMAC today. I’m trying to step out of my isolating behavior. Its gotten much worse in the last 8 months. Anybody here feel they need to isolate due to non acceptance? Its like I feel like Im not acceptable so I keep to myself all the time now. I use to work, have friends, be part of groups, go to lunch, now I never leave the house. Hopefully this YMAC thing will help me with this as I don’t think it is healthy behavior.


Wanting to isolate oneself is a natural reaction having been through what we’ve been through – and I’ve done that, isolating myself and, from experience, this is a really bad thing to do. I’ve had to FORCE myself to be sociable and make ‘dates’ with friends so as to not dwell on the past (as isolating myself did that) and that’s not healthy or productive!


Sylvia, thank you! I love all of what you’ve said in this thread. This recent flashback put me in touch with the emotions that were buried alongside the memory, so it has been difficult and intense, but I’m so glad it’s uncovered; all of the flashbacks I’ve had in the past two months are invaluable. It’s good to hear you’re still having them; I don’t want it to stop until I have all of my memories back. It is so healing.

My own sister was fond of saying that “they did their best.” What does that even mean? Maybe Jack The Ripper “did his best” too, but I still have higher standards, rights, and genuine feelings. If I had a child I could see giving them unconditional love, but for everyone else there are some basic conditions. My siblings prefer to live in the fog and facades too, inviting our parents to their weddings, leaving their kids alone with them. It is sad. While I completely agree with you on the path to healing, I’ve decided to choose a safe avenue to confront and attempt to throw a truth-wrench into their wheels.

take care,


Caden, I love the phrase, “throw a truth-wrench into their wheels”. How awesome is that?


Hi Karen,
I am so glad that you have joined the YMAC and I wish you so much love and luck. Rizae’s comment was so true. What we have been through DOES make us prone to self-isolation. I did it for years. For me personally, it was because I never felt that I fitted in anywhwere or with anybody Wether it was in jobs or social groups, and even in relationships, I felt “odd” and as if l was doing something wrong that made people dislike and bully me. Of course now I know that in families like ours, our perception of ourselves, and what is “normal” is so bent and twisted out of shape that you dont know how to be yourself. You dont even know who that self is, and people pick up on that. Thats why we attract all the lunatics, because they know we will adapt to their dysfunction. And yes, what you say about your family making you feel bad is exactly why l have gone NC with mine. I refuse to listen to any more crap, or to be blamed anymore. ( I was the family scapegoat, the receptacle into which everyone threw their own disowned shame). No more! Let em get on with it!
Love from Sylvia x


Hi Caden,
I love your comment about Jack The Ripper, that is so funny! Were Hitler, Edie Amin, Saddam Hussein and other assorted international despots doing their best? No – they were just NUTS! Nuts who were allowed to get into a position of power which they then abused. Just like my mom! And I love the thought of your Truth Wrench! If anyone confronted my parent with the truth about ANYTHING, it was like showing a crucifix to a couple of vampires. I wish you many good things Caden, love from Sylvia x


Rizae and Karen,
I have always LOVED my time alone. On some level, it’s isolation. I was never sure why. Is it that fear of unacceptance? I just thought it was my way of coping. It’s safe there…. in isolation. Not only from unacceptance, but from everything. I can’t tell you the level of comfort it brings me, and I just now realize that as I’m typing. The most comforting thought in the world to me is imagining being alone in a hobby. Totally absorbed in it. No sense of time or responsibility. No phones or doorbells. Thank you for bringing this to light. It is something I need to address and sort through a little bit. I isolate from my husband even. My favorite place is my own little world. I don’t think I realized I was isolating per se. I’ve done it for years and years. Rise’ I too have had to force myself out. I have cancelled dates with friends for no reason other than I wanted to be at home alone. Sometimes it just took too much energy. I realize that was depression. I have to force myself to make appointments with doctors, hairdresser, dentist, etc. Not because I hate doing those things necessarily, but because I fear committing to it for some reason. I am better at doing it than I used to be. I really took a step out last week and for the first time ever I made my next appointment for a haircut WHILE I was at the hairdresser. I have never done that before. LOL, talk about baby steps!! I have to sometimes force friend dates too.

I have enjoyed reading your perspectives. I loved the wisdom in the statement about our parents setting us up for a lifetime of abusive relationships (loosely quoted). So true. So brutal sometimes, the heartache and tears over abusive romantic relationships, etc. Thanks mom!! 🙂

Peace and love,


I just want to clarify my statement above. After reading it again, it sounds like I was calling you mom!! NOT the case! Just verbal diarrhea and run on sentences. 🙂



I love your wisdom too. There is such insight and wisdom, sixth senses, and intuition, born out of the kind of abuse you describe. It seems like it enables me/us to smell a rat when others are oblivious. Maybe that’s the tiny little gift we get in return for all the suffering. I would gladly return my gift.

Anyhow, I just wanted to say I appreciate your input and insight. After going to your site, my heart goes out to you for all your parents put you through.

Recently I saw a talkshow about a girl who was kept in a closet for 6 years. Only let out to be beaten or molested. She weighed in at 25 pounds when she was rescued at the age of 8. I thought of the people here when I saw that show. I thought of all the damage and evil that so many parents spew out onto their children. I was left with one question ~ WHY? I know in my head that it stems from their own injuries. I also know in my head there is a way out. There is a way to stop the patterns. These cowards just don’t bother to try to escape and make a better way for themselves and their kids. Why even HAVE kids?? Is it only so they have a punching bag? Someone to ruin, like they’ve been ruined?

My opportunity to have my own kids was taken away when I was 32. I was never a woman that felt my life would be useless if I didn’t have my own children. I never had that heartbreaking longing for children that many women suffer when they’re told they’re unable to conceive. I have my Godchild, and she is where my heart is. Caden, in all honesty, I can say (and I realize it’s risky to admit) that I don’t know what I would have done to my own kids. I haven’t even learned about the damage done to me except in the last year, and I’m now 44. If I’d had kids in that time of blindness, what would I have been capable of? I can admit that I’m thankful I didn’t have the opportunity to perpetuate the abuse. I thought my mother had a gift of solid parenting. Hahaha!! How wrong I was. She was the only thing I knew, the only example of discipline and love I knew. I truly am thankful (in a small way) I didn’t get a chance to screw my own child’s head up. I have a hint of fear that I could be judged for admitting this. It is truth though. And, at the beginning of ’12, I said I am in all out pursuit of truth, at nearly any cost.

Anyhow, just babbling here. 🙂




I could really identify with what you were saying about your time alone. For me, I’m starting to finally understand and feel the difference between isolation and solitude. Isolating myself was everything you spoke of (the fear, the depression, the protection) but it was also punishment for what I saw as my failure to be whatever for other people. That said, I love being alone as well. I need it. This, I think of as solitude, and it’s an innate part of myself and an absolute deal breaker if anyone tried to take it away from me.

I also really appreciated what you said about having children, and I do not judge you at all, but in fact really respect you for what you said.

When I saw my parents last weekend at my cousin’s wedding, it was obvious to me that they had not changed in the 2 & 1/2 years since I cut off contact with them. I heard through a relative that after I cut off contact, they went to see a counsellor who basically told them that they were wrong, and then they never went back again. That says everything to me. It was my intention to slowly reconnect with them but I have decided that I am not willing to have a relationship with them unless they commit to change and go see a counsellor to deal with their issues (which seems to me to be a totally reasonable request considering it was their issues that cost so much of my life). When I asked my mom to do this for me in the past, it angered her and I never brought it up again. (All in email or letters, as I couldn’t handle more.) But this week, I wrote them and asked again, both of my parents this time, to do this for me. I said I was worth that, if not much more… I have spent extensive time in therapy and I am now totally committed to making a good, healthy, happy life for myself. I’m not interested in regressing to how our relationship used to be, so they’ll either meet me on these terms or not. Things may change in the future, in how I will be able to deal with them, but this is how it is right now. It’s what I need from them if we are to have a relationship, as it is a matter of protecting my heart, etc. I haven’t heard back from them yet and who knows if I will, but I know I did exactly what I needed to do. I wasn’t angry or reactive, just laid it down, and I’m just going to keep on going forward with my life, taking care of myself and doing what matters to me, no matter what.

Anyway, your words were certainly more than just babbling and I really appreciate the spirit you bring to your journey, as I do for so many on this site… And Karenina, if you are reading, I wanted to thank you for your words of support about the wedding back on the last “comply or goodbye” post, many many comments ago (things have been hectic with guests and family stuff, so I haven’t gotten to everything).



How sweet of you to mention, and I am glad you felt my support. It’s nice that you noticed I was MIA for a bit. 🙂

I have had two grandchildren, ages two and five,here at my house for the last few days, so I have had only time ro read and none to write. Their Mommy got a breather, (Daddy is deployed) and my husband and I got to spend some time with the little ones. Zoo, pool, play…bathtimes, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks…wiping little tears and delighting in laughter…but I’m tired now! Whew!

Mimi and Alaina,
I also value time alone, but now that my husband telecommutes…works from home…I am alone, but not fully.
It’s not conducive to playing my music, or anything I want to do completely alone. I remember when I would have a day off when he was working out of the house; I could create so much better alone. He’s an admitted “neat-freak” so somewhere inside I feel a litle frantic if I have a big mess (leftovers from childhood?)while being creative, and leaving it until a project is finished? Drives him nuts. But it drives me nuts to have to spend more time getting stuff out and putting it back than is left for creative pursuits…so this stifles my creativity. I keep my house very clean and neat, so I would only leave stuff out a couple days until project is done…

Just reading this makes me realize I am not standing up for me here…this is my home too…I am tired of having to
constantly “fight for my rights” about little stuff…but what’s the point…I would lose all creative juice if I had to work under a cloud of his resentment, anyway.

Never mind…


Thanks Karenina! I’m glad you’re here reading. I felt bad for not thanking you earlier. I loved having my guests stay with me (my great aunt and uncle) but it’s nice to have my space back.

I totally understand about the creativity stuff and not wanting to put everything back mid-project… I would hate that (I live alone so I don’t have that particular problem)… Maybe you can fight for your right for a specific area of your home, that can be yours to keep as clean or messy as you wish? Even if you didn’t have a room but just a space you could section off somehow that he could respect as yours and somehow not have to see it so it won’t drive him nuts…?


Nope, don’t have a space he wouldn’t have to see, lol, he would go there anyhow I think. We have a large living/great room, and also a large sunroom. The sunroom has my desk, a sofa and chairs, a table (that we often eat on) and “my tv.” The great room has a sofa, a big two-seater loveseat with ottoman…leather stuff he picked out…and his tv (very big screen.) Funny thing, though…he watches tv in the sunroom on my smaller tv, and sometimes gripes about my choice of shows, or takes over the remote…I often remind him he has a bigger better tv he could watch whatever he wanted…but he’d rather sit in the room w/me, even if he gets growly about my shows.
Is that love? Or what? Right now he has gone to get us some dinner cause he didn’t like the menu I offered, so I guess I’ll keep him. 😉


Janie, thanks; I really like the image myself; I can picture the wrench entering the spokes and their little carriage-ride down the path of denial overturning.

Sylvia, Yes! My mother was also a repressive, power-hungry dictator committing terrible crimes because she could. I like your anaology to vampires and crucifixes; my parents were also allergic to the truth, they would never admit they had done anything wrong or were incorrect. Take care,

Mimi, Thank you for that. You’re right, people do have a way out, but they decide to stay in the system anyway–often to venerate their own abusive parents while they seek out a new victim for their repressed feelings, to recreate their own childhood but with themselves as the parent/abuser.

Anyway, I won’t judge you for admitting this. It’s a valuable insight, and while only speculation, I’m sure it helps you understand yourself and where you came from. I can imagine if I had children at 19 or 20 years old (and it unnerves me that many do this, giving themselves little-no time to individuate from their parents or question their behavior) I would likely have gone into the experience with kindness but wound up hurting the child nonetheless via my own issues and unconscious patterns that I didn’t realize I was perpetuating.

Sadly, it’s just the way things work. But examining these abusive messages and going against them at any time of life is more than most people do. Like you, I’ve committed myself to the truth, I can’t take any more facades or hiding. So, I’m glad you shared. Take Care,


A couple of quick things from me too;
I still have flashbacks and I don’t yet have all my memories. (I know this because of the fragments of a few flashbacks) I hope I get all of mine back too.

About why ppl have kids. ~ My mother admits how badly she wanted kids, specifically a daughter. (I am her only daughter) But the way she talks about it is more like she wanted a baby (like a live dolly) to fulfill her empty heart. She needed a love source and I failed her. I was 28 when I first thought that “maybe” I would have kids. (but that is a whole other story) I think many people have kids to fill that same void my mother had but I suspect that others have kids so they can own a human that they can abuse and objectify. sick sick sick.

I will always be in pursuit of the truth! It is the only thing I have ever tried that had lasting positive results and was not just a ‘band-aid’ for the pain.

Caden~ did you read my blog post called “my parents did their best according to who?” That one got a huge amount of comments too.
Here is the link! http://emergingfrombroken.com/my-parents-did-the-best-they-could-according-to-who/

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
I haven’t commented on this post yet, since I’ve been processing what you have said & letting it sink in, as to what I was taught growing up. I believed the same thing that, if I questioned my family’s & other bullies’ motives & intentions, even in my own mind, I was, “not accepting others the way that they are.” For examples, I would think that I wasn’t forgiving & that I hold a grudge. My parents would say that to me, when I was bullied & didn’t let it slide. Well, I was hurt & that is an appropriate feeling when mistreated, devalued, or bullied in any way. Yes, they took what I said as “tattle tailing” & “Crying Wolf” I always wondered why those sayings bothered me!….As I became on adult I still questioned, if it was okay to tell on bad behavior (hurtful behavior emotionally or physically towards me). It’s two fold actually, because I was encouraged to shut up & put up & that if I told, the other person will be mad at me. So what if they are mad!… I looked to my parents to protect me, but I was made out to feel like the bad one for telling. Why couldn’t they just listen to me & hear me out? To be seen & not heard feels like death. This also ties into the belief, that I had to love unconditionally, even when treated poorly. That is not okay!…I listen to my kids, when they tell me they are hurt & if someone hurts them in any way. I also encourage them to speak up & say, “no’ or “don’t do that”, then walk away or tell an adult, if the bad behavior doesn’t stop. My feelings were not acknowledged. That is emotional abuse & neglect in my opinion.

Today, my 7 yr old daughter got bitten by her 3 yr old cousin, while playing. My dtr was hurt and she expressed out loud that she was hurt. Her aunt was there to see what happened & gave her boy a time out. She didn’t verbally scold him or yell at him. What she did instead, was to give him a time out by holding him on her lap. This kid was overexcited & acting out, so she basically had to hold onto him. Anyway, she did something about it & then had her son apologize. I respect the way she handled the incident and she kept her composure too. I do the same with my dtr, if she hurts someone else
even by accident, to acknowledge it & apologize. It happens all the time in the pool!…The kids will be splashing & kicking each other, usually just playing or swimming too close to each other. Yet, if I know the other kid is hurt by seeing it or by them telling, then I will address it. I’m trying to teach my kids acceptable behavior & taking responsibility for their actions. Like I said, I was taught to put up & shut up, which is Not Okay or Acceptable!
Thanks for listening!,


Mimi – #84 – and I still struggle with it – loving being alone. I think the fear of rejection is always there for me in the subconscious. There is this thing in me that ‘thinks’ that rejection is always inevitable. After all, if my own mother can reject me, what stops anyone else?? Nothing.

I also love to be absorbed in hobbies and feel quite put out when interrupted. I have gotten better over the years, but I can’t tell you how much I would just love the close the world out, at least for awhile. But I know its not healthy either. So, I force myself out. Being alone has its blessings though – for me, its downtime. I have friends (some who are older than me) who are amazed that I enjoy going to movies by myself. And I do it most of the time.

An ideal holiday for me is escaping to rural Italy for like, I don’t know – three months – alone … to write. This would be a dream vacation for me. Can’t see this ever happening, but I can still dream it. 🙂


Wow, I can remember, when being hurt by someone and telling my mother, she would say “turn the other cheek”. Being brought up Catholic, this is offering someone who has, figuratively, slapped you across the face, the other cheek to slap, as I think Jesus did in the bible. So, if you did not, you were un-Jesus like, a “bad Christian”. Of course, you mother did not have to defend you if you were being a “good Christian”, so that is a benefit as well……….


AWESOME! This was said so well. I will definitely have to read again and read all the comments. Thanks to all who shared.


Darlene, yes, I’ve read that article too–very powerful. I went through and read the entire archives back in May-June, and was really overwhelmed (in a good way) with deeply healing realizations and questions about my life. Thanks.


As I have gotten older (not old, yet, even though I’m 60 now!), I have come to understand something I started teaching my grandchildren when they are misbehaving —

If you live all alone on a mountain top or on an island you can be as mean and nasty as you want to be (except toward any other living thing). However, we live in community with lots of people and we have a responsibility to be pleasant to be around, even if others are being unpleasant. We can walk away from unpleasant people, but there is no excuse for us to act that way.

I believe it is best if we always treat others with respect, no matter what, because they are living beings, animals, plants, etc., created by God. If someone is treating us distespectfully we do not have to stand quiet and just take it on the chin. It is wiser to recognize and name their disrespecfful behavior and stay away from people who refuse to treat us with respect (as much as is possible). It helps me to think rationally and not get sucked into believing there is something wrong with me when they are being disrespectful to me.

This is so contrary to the way I was raised, which is why I consistenly allowed others to abuse me, even up to last year. I just felt pain and guilt and the fear of losing their approval. I just stood there and took it on the chin, and often tried to make them not feel bad about treating me poorly. Then I turned it all inward and abused myself for being unlovable and unworthy of love. Very sad and very unhealthy.

But, thank God, I am learning and changing and I am much more empowered and peaceful, knowing I don’t have to take abuse from anyone, no matter what their title is or isn’t.

If someone seems upset at me and I don’t know why, I examine my words and action to see if I really did something wrong. (Generally, I didn’t because I tred very carefully so as not to offend anyone.) If I can’t figure it out I ask the other person if I did anything to offend them. If they say yes and explain what I did, I apologize if appropriate and change my behavior. If they say no, I let it go. There is nothing more I can do.

I am not 100% at this, yet, and don’t expect perfection. But I am taking baby steps and am being rewarded by a much happier existence. Life without guilt and shame for no good reason is so much more enjoyable.

Here’s to freedom, Ladies! (c:



Hi Everyone,
I’ve been MIA, spilling my recent drama on another post. I’m finally getting back here to catch up.

I am alone….YaY!! Well, it feels good anyway. Not sure it IS good. I never really thought it unhealthy to spend so much time alone. I guess because it doesn’t usually feel unhealthy. It feels fantastic!! Maybe because it’s total freedom after being restricted and stifled for so long by my momster. (Yes, she IS a momster!!) To this day she has trouble “knowing” this about me. That I love my alone time. She tries to infringe on it by suggesting I have nothing to do, there’s no reason I can’t DO for her at a moments notice. According to her, I have all the time in the world. (because I don’t have kids). She has little respect for the idea that my free time is MINE, not hers. It’s nothing for her to say, “why not, you don’t have anything else to do”! That statement always lit a little flame right around my backside.

Now, since having no contact (with the exception of 2 days ago), she doesn’t know if I’m working or not, in school or not, volunteering or not. Without knowing what I’m up to, she can’t presume that I am at her disposal.

My mom was always very demanding of my time when I was under her roof. If I had free time, she would pencil something in for me. Like, paint the inside of closets. Grrrr!! She would order it. It always went something like this, “And, you think you’re going to do blah blah this weekend, but you’re not ~ you’re going to paint the inside of these closets”! Double GRRR!! (And, I was 28 in this particular instance ~ working and in school, both full time. Having left an abusive man, I had to move home with my mother. HELL….. it was HELL) I remember drinking vodka, room temperature, straight from the bottle during those days. Not proud, but true.

I dont have to accept her, or her toxic behaviors. I’m free to accept or deny whatever I want. Right this moment, I don’t care who in my family approves or disapproves. It’s so presumptuous for people to think they have a right to govern what I approve of or accept. It’s a guilt laden maneuver. Those days are gone!! It worked for many years, and I’m sure there is some shock that I’m not a puppet these days. They’ll get used to it. Why not, I had to get used to whatever was heaped on me.



I was made to ‘chew on’ these words all my life. Every time I’d try to tell someone of how I was being abused @ home-it was simply excused. I was told,”You know how your Mother is. She’s always been this way or that way.” It would put a lump in my throat. I’d think to myself that I’d been sentenced to ‘life in prison w/out possibility of parole’ if that’s the case; that I’d have to deal w/an abusive/manipulating Mother for the rest of my life. Man-I can relate to this TOTALLY.


Mimi, your enthusiasm and joy make me smile real BIG. (c;

Love and hugs,


Hi Sonia
You bring up such a great point! That whole tattle tail thing is a huge problem in our world and not just with parents but in schools! (They teach anti bullying and don’t be a tattle tail at the same time!) And it IS devaluing and dismissive and YES neglectful to ignore the injustice that children go through especially when the message is that it is wrong to tell and very often the things that kids can’t tell are crimes against children! (and the perps are usually adults!)
And it is up to us to educate our kids about this stuff. That is a big part of how the cycle will be broken. Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

That whole bible story is taken out of context and used against people just like so many other things are! I wonder what my mother would have done if I hit her back??? I bet she would not have encouraged herself to offer her other cheek! LOL (and this goes for emotional abuse too.)
Hugs, Darlene


Welcome to Emerging from Broken!

Hi Gayle
I was shocked when I realized just how much fear of rejection was at the root of so much of the reason I lived in victim mentality. I realy believed that compliance (and accepting abusive behaviour and calling that “LOVE”) was the safer place to be. I did the same things that you did and called myself the same names.
I put my own actions through that same grid now too. Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


For someone to say to another person “you have noting better to do” is extremely demeaning and judgemental; talk about being “defined” by someone else! Wow. I have heard that before too along with all kinds of other versions of it.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi ButtaFli
Welcome to emerging from broken!
“you know how your mother is”… I should write a whole article with that title! Isn’t that one of the most ridiculous and common things that people say to excuse abusive behaviour!! Wow. I can hear that statement in half the adult voices of my entire childhood!
EEKS! Thanks for sharing; I think you are going to like it here!
Hugs, Darlene


I never knew the word YES existed. Growing up my mother always told me NO! Whatever I wanted to do,Where ever I wanted to go,Who ever I wanted to see came with opposition. She never let me do anything. I felt like I was in a cage my entire life. She always told me what to wear,what to eat,when to sleep. She never believed a word I said when it came to stuff at school,she would always ask my best friend who would turn around and tell her the same thing but in a different way. I would stand there and think I’m just plain stupid. I stopped asking for things I would just keep quiet,even if I wanted something I would never say what it was I wanted. I’m the biggest follower I know. I just comply to what ever needs or wants anyone has.My mother loved the fact that she controlled every aspect of my life. She moved away nine years ago I haven’t talk to her since. When you constantly get beat up by someone it’s hard to pretend that you love them. I tell myself that I married my mother because my husband has just about all her actions. I’m just realizing how it is I’m supposed to treated. I’m glad I found this site. It’s a breath of fresh air.


Hi. I am leaving notes in several places and I am so appreciative to read and learn that the abuse I have endured all of my life is truly unacceptable. I have always heard that line: “you know how your mother is” and I was suppose to just let that be the answer. I will no longer allow the abuse and must turn against my entire family because the abuse must end now. I have to always hear about “how my mother is” from several other family members and I suppose that makes it ok too. I will not accept unacceptable behavior again. A great line I read in another email was: “My mother is in denial of the reality of herself”. Thanks again for being here for me and you will continue to hear from me because this note writing does assist with my healing. Love to all, Stacy


Hi Stacy,
Welcome to the newer posts on the blog! I hate that line too and I heard it all over the place from everyone! What does that statement even mean? I could answer it today with “you mean abusive?” “you mean mean and self centered?” or I could just ask “what the hell does that mean???” Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Jane
Great examples of the fog we are trying to bust out of! I am glad that you are here too!
hugs, Darlene


Hi All
The newest post just published on EFB is about why it is so hard to set personal boundaries in the first place ~ it was inspired by the discussion on the last few posts.
Here is the link: http://emergingfrombroken.com/why-setting-personal-boundaries-is-not-as-easy-as-it-sounds/

Hugs, Darlene


Yes, this is great. Not long ago I received a long rant from my abusive ex about me not accepting him, and that if we keep focussing on faults, and keep criticizing people, we will never be happy. “No one is perfect” is the line that is repeated over and over again. He sent me a book on being tolerant and accepting!


@ Krissy, that is histerical, he sent you a self improvement book! What is the name of it? Of course, I’m sure he is not “Tolerant and accepting” of you!
@Stacey, I always heard, “Your mother, she had a hard life (growing up)”. So, she has the right to be emotionally, pschologically and sometimes physically abusive to me? Somehow, that doesnt make sense.
Interesting, My mother always said that my great grandmother, her grandmother, died in child birth, and my grandma never knew her. My distant cousin,who I connected with on Facebook, posted a photo of a family headstone, with her name on it. The stone is in our hometown, and G.grandma passed at 65 years of age! Another lie, another lie. Will be interesting to do the legwork on that one……..


Actually what you seem to be talking about is:

(a) accepting someone for who they are


(b) accepting someone for what they do

You can do (a) without doing (b). You can even, dare I say it, accept who someone is without necessarily wanting to be their bestest friend EVAR. Acceptance of a person means you’re not trying to change them–and honestly, none of us can change another person anyway.


I never ever questioned why I was treated badly.until now.Now is the time that my mind is going on full throttle. I want control, for the first time in my life I want to be in charge. Where do I begin. I can see my daughters heading down the same path as me.They have boys in their lives that are wanting them to comply,they have done some pretty awful things to my daughters to which they have broken up over. But these same boys have ran around with different girls had their fill.And now they are back wanting my daughters to take them back.My daughters are very forgiving I’m just afraid history is going to repeat itself. To me I haven’t been the best role model my daughters learn to be meek,soft spoken,forgiving, and trusting, these are not bad qualities but they can be when you are being constantly walked on,hurt,ridiculed,used and abused. That’s me in nut shell. That is what I taught them because that is what was done to me as a child. My husband has since taken that role that used to be my parents, and siblings job. They see how my husband treats me and then they think that is how a guy is suppose to treat a girl. See I heard all the I am sorry it will never happen again lines. I don’t want them to be like me and when I try to tell them I get the thanks mom but… I was never taught to stick up for myself because the people that were suppose to teach me this were the one’s raping and molesting me. So please tell me how this is going to end my daughters mean the world to me. Can’t I protect them from people the way I was supposed to be protected. Beside myself going a little crazy from all this. Please help. Desperately in need of hugs! Jane


So glad I found your website. I’ve recently been told by a therapist that I have a “victim mentality.” Sounded so horrible to me until I found your definition. Now, I’ve just read your “acceptance” speech and find that it fits in with the victim mentality. I just returned from a four day trip with a person I call “friend.” She is a person I confide in and we go to seminars and other venues together to help us heal and grow. Much to my surprise, she turned into my worst nightmare. My abusive mother, sisters and ex-husband rolled into one. She screamed at me constantly when things did not go her way. I told her she had to stop but it never ended. The biggest upset and betrayal came when she started talking about my issues that I confided in her about. Throwing tidbits of things we discussed in my face. I was so hurt. When I told her that was all I could take, she started crying. It never crossed my mind to leave her in the motel room stranded. I thought I had to make the best of the situation for four days! I’m still reeling from the shock of her behavior towards me. When she cried, I even comforted her. I have a tendency to see the other person’s pain, too. I see this person often in various meetings, etc. What I do know is I will never travel with her again or put myself into that type of situation.
When I told another friend about my experience, she said, you should have left her there! She also said, “It looks like you never learned to deal with bullies!” That was an eye opener!
I thank you for your definition of “victim mentality” it gives me an insight into how I am reacting to the bullies in my life.


Hi Marlene
Welcome to emerging from broken!
You have found the right place! I had to understand ‘Victim mentaliy’ before I could change it. (I have heard it said as a put down though, and that isn’t helpful when people do that)
Thank you for sharing the nightmarish story about your ‘friend’ ~ something I also realized along the journey is how I seemed to be comfortalbe with friends who treated me like that and one day I realized that it was because it was so familiar that it had become ‘comfortable to me’. YUCK! It was through finding the truth about all this that I was able to move forward and away from all that dysfunction in my life.
Glad that you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene
Thank you for responding to my comment. I can’t say that I am “comfortable” with friends treating with disrespect. Actually, I am very uncomfortable and quit sick of it. My biggest problem is being shocked by what someone says or does that hurts me. And, I don’t always respond right away. In this instance what exactly do you do when you are stuck with a bully in a motel room for four days? I find myself trying to make peace at any cost, usually to myself.
I’ve walked away from three relationships in the last two weeks. One was with a person I’ve known for 22 years. I finally told her to stop putting me down! I haven’t heard from her since. Not much of a friendship. I’ve also had to cut my two sisters out of my life for a while. I’m trying to sort this all out but in the mean time I’m finished letting anyone treat me with disrespect. Feeling lonely and scared going through this transition. On the other hand, I feel empowered and the shift of consciousness within myself.
Thanks for your words of encouragement! I do not feel so alone.


we have all been down this road.. neither of my parents truly acknowledge me. my father didnt rape me? right. my adoptive my wouldnt even talk about it.. and then she remarried someone that sexually abused his own daughter.. yeah thats respecting what they both did to my sister and myself. I now have my own facebook page to help others…. both my adoptive mom and dad are sick.. thats all i can say…it still effects me yet today… and i want to help others any way i can.


Hi Wray Lynn
That is great that you are helping others now! Hugs, Darlene


[…] during the holidays.  Everything that I find about this problem has to do with advice regarding ‘acceptance of others’ and how we can’t change anyone […]
New post related to content in this post published here
hugs, Darlene


In answer to your final question… YES!
My brother in law holds his ‘brother’ status over me like a foul stench. He attempts to guilt my husband and myself into whatever he wants because ‘we are family and family is supposed to help each other’, ignoring the fact that 1. we have our own family to uphold, 2. he put himself into the situation he is in, NOT us, and 3. we have tried to help him in ways that would TRULY help him (you know, give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime) but he wants everything given to him, so our help isn’t actually ‘help’ in his eyes. He has verbally threatened us that we are not to tell anyone what he has done to us in a situation, yet he tells everyone he wishes about it, twisting parts to play to his own ‘I am an innocent lamb, look at what so-and-so did! You shouldn’t be with them anymore’ type thing. Since getting married he has focussed on my being younger than him (although… nobody really sees me as younger, I sometimes forget I’m younger as I never really look at ‘age’), and me being ‘female’ as though that means he is superior to me. It has been very hard to comprehend, or even to know how to react. The last time he did it I completely snapped on him, then felt guilty for it. I’ve been battling this feeling of guilt, even knowing that I didn’t do anything wrong.


In regard to Mimi
July 22nd, 2012 at 1:14 am

Oh how I can relate to your words. I have done the same type of “isolating” for many, many years. It’s really the only time I feel safe. This entire article and all the posts resonate deep into my soul. I noticed the original post was posted on my birthday. What a great gift. Thanks Darlene, and all the people who post here. It’s been invaluable to me.


Hi Connie,
I have read a lot of your writings, but, I’ve been unable to comment. My heart goes out to you for the situation you’re in with your mom right now.

I understand that isolation all too well. I have bonded a lot with my stepkids over the last year. I found that when I was in their presence at Christmas, I was really comfortable. I trust them. They are all three genuine people, and adults. I find it’s so hard to reach outside my family, (NOT my FOO, but my husband and I’s family) to connect with people. I don’t trust anyone really. I have childhood friends which I grew up with in a very small town. We know each other very well. I love those ladies, and they are my truest friends. Meeting new people is a little torturous. I’ve had a history of trusting people too soon, and too much. That’s prior to my discovery of my mom’s ridiculousness almost 2 years ago. Now, I really struggle to trust, but, I’m working on that.

Something I read recently really hit a nerve for me. Dysfunctional families teach three poor things: Don’t talk about it, don’t trust anyone, and don’t feel your feelings. This is sooooo true in my family. As the scapegoat, I was always dying to talk about it, and I’ve never struggled to feel my feelings. The worst part of this for me is, the trust factor. I have learned not to trust because when you can’t trust your own mother (and at times, siblings), who in the heck are you supposed to trust?

Since the Holiday’s, I’ve experienced a bit of a low feeling. I realize it’s because all the excitment is over, and I really don’t have a lot to look forward to for the moment. I also realize it’s because I’ve thought of my sister so much. She was here over the holidays from another state, and I just didn’t want to see her. I didn’t see her or her family. I felt most comfortable that way. I have this lingering “thing” in my mind though. I can’t put my finger on it. I think it could be that I’m STILL in the stages of accepting that she’s the most like my mother, although, until just over a year ago, she was my best friend. I don’t know how to move forward. I’m torn between still not wanting to believe it, accepting it will not change, that I don’t rank very highly in her and her family’s eyes, and wondering what it was she hoped to accomplish by texting me a lot before she came home, and even when she was here. I don’t understand it. The messages she sent over a year ago, pretty much told a story of how she and her family view me. She withdrew from conversations at the time, saying she needed to work on herself because she’d just moved. Also, that her kids needed her full attention. I understand those things. I don’t want to engage with her, because there’s been a pattern of being lifted up, then let down. I think we’re connecting again, then I feel abandoned in some way. I’m on the fence about how to move forward. I need her to do something to reach out, yet, she won’t do that in any REAL way. I am mostly over the hopes and expectations, but I’m still a little tempted if she contacts me, or throws me a bone, haha. I am now grappling with the idea that her presence makes uneasy feelings rise up in me. I don’t know what those feelings are exactly. I just know it’s uncomfortable. I think of her and her family coming to my house and I cringe all over. I wonder if my relationship with her, even though it’s fairly superficial, and doesn’t include anything “meaningful”, is a little toxic for me. I can’t help but wonder if I’d be better if I let go altogether, and put her in the same place as my mother. No Contact!! I feel so much better without my mom. Now, I’m wondering if I’d feel the same benefits if I walked away from my sister altogether. I don’t want to see her. I don’t really want to talk to her, I don’t trust her. I still want to on some level though. UGH, it’s all very confusing.

I can’t really articulate all the emotions I’m experiencing about her right now. I can only hope to stop thinking about it and obsessing about what I should do. It will take care of itself I suppose.

Love and Peace to everyone,


I’m back!!! 🙂

I just had a few revelations after I typed above. I think, perhaps there is no meaningful relationship or conversations because then she (or people in general) would have to address their shortcomings, or their responsibility in the trainwreck they’ve made of a relationship. Does anyone else think this could be true?

I also just realized that I haven’t completely let go because we do text more than we used to, so it seems there’s been progress, although it’s all meaningless. That keeps me holding on thinking, one of these days she will bring up the “event” that changed everything and we will be able to talk about it, and she will actually show some emotion!! LOL, I realize how hilarious that is while I type it. That will NOT happen!! The question still remains….. do I keep up with this BS, pretend nothing happened, don’t talk about it, superficial correspondence, or do I just stop playing the game? In TRUTH, that’s all it is. A game. 🙁


Hi, Mimi. You make me smile even as my heart breaks for you. You are so sweet. I appreciate what you shared: Dysfunctional families teach three poor things: Don’t talk about it, don’t trust anyone, and don’t feel your feelings. So true in my FOO, too. As I read about your relationship with your sister, I want to ask you something: Do you believe your sister values you? (I still remember that thing Bill Withers said, “Learn to value the people who value you.” IMHO, if she really does value you, it’s worth trying to work through things together. If she doesn’t…

Love and hugs, Sweetie.



Hi Mimi
I find it stressful to have ‘a dead elephant’ in the room like this one. There is this “thing” hanging between you that everyone is pretending isn’t there… but it is big and dead and stinking. For me that is way too stressful! I get the air cleared these days. Your sister said she needed time but since she never got back to you on how she resolved whatever was going on there is this “dead space and confusion” ~ and there would be nothing wrong with bringing it up again now to get the whole thing cleared up. (I like what Gayle said.)
Ask yourself what you are afraid of if you consider doing this. Why not talk about it?? What feelings come up when you think about talking to her about all the things she revealed to you about how she regarded you back then.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene and Gayle,
Thank you for your feedback. I always appreciate it.

I agree. I see nothing wrong with bringing it up, working through it, and moving on. I also agree it is a big stinking elephant. I remember what you said Gayle, about learning to value those who value us. I think I had forgotten that when it came to my sister though. I have succeeded in putting much more love and energy into my stepkids and people who actually reciprocate. And, I’ve truly enjoyed these new relational developments.

The only thing that keeps me from talking about it openly with my sister, is that, we were raised to not talk about it, and she follows those guidelines fairly religiously. We talked initially, but, when I put the pressure on about why she and her daughter treated me poorly, and I was pretty direct, she completely withdrew. It’s characteristic of all my family to not respond, or leave me hanging after I’ve put emotional things out for discussion. This is the reason I don’t bring it up to my sister. It was her who dropped out initially. It has been her who’s kept it superficial. I understand what you’re saying so well now Darlene. It is stressful to try to ignore the big elephant. It is stressful to wonder if she will ever be ready to talk openly about it. I think I’ve held onto the idea that one day, she will be okay talking about it. Reality is, it’s never happened before, why would it now??

To answer the question about whether she values me…. I have no idea. She does on some cheesy level ~ in which she texts me about silly stuff. I don’t know if her motive is to keep me hanging on, because she misses having someone as loyal as me in her life, (she knows I would have stopped the world for her) or, if it’s because she genuinely hopes we can move past it and pretend it didn’t happen. Because she doesn’t share on any meaningful level, I can only guess what’s going in her mind. I think I have to just decide and embrace the idea that opening that whole thing back up in order to be heard, and have a chance to hear her, will never happen. If I reached out to her to initiate a discussion, she would likely just ignore it. I see nothing wrong with talking it out, but, I would almost certainly be alone in the conversation. So, that’s what I’m afraid of Darlene. I reached out to my mother and both sisters on January 1st of 2012. I put some emotions out there. She responded by saying she’d be praying for me. No one else even responded. They don’t care I suppose. I don’t understand not reciprocating. I learned then that none of them care about my intentions, my plans, my goals, my apologies, etc.

I had a fantastic Christmas. I really enjoyed my time with the people who do reciprocate. I also now realize, I had something to focus on, other people to love. Now that it’s over, I’m a little blue about the same old crap because I have nothing else to occupy my thoughts. I don’t know why it’s hit me like this. I want to let them go (sisters), but, I fear I’ll miss an opportunity to repair things. That sounds quite ridiculous doesn’t it?? 🙂

Thanks again for your inputs. I really appreciate you both reaching out.

Love and Hugs,


This is very clarifying. I think recently I’ve reached a sort of peace about members of my family’s behavior that I was labeling acceptance. Acceptance or maybe it’s resolve within. Semantics?

All I know is that I have reached a point that I know I can’t change these people. And I’m through wishing for better relationships with them. I can take each situation as it arises for now and draw my boundaries. It’s not easy as I’m just learning. And it’s hard to not be afraid of reactions.

If you don’t jump when they want, there will be punishment.


Hi Annie
Yes it is hard not to be afraid of reactions. I acknowledge that fear when it comes up and walk myself through it. (asking what is the worst that could happen and what I could do about it; sometimes the answer was the willingness to press charges!) The fear is part of it.
Hugs, Darlene


my fam has directly told me my entire life that i need to accept the way that they are. Indirectly, it means “we only accept you if you fit into our system of communication, treatment and respect of each other.”

unfortunately, that system doesn’t work for me, b/c the role i have traditionally played within it is disrespectful and demeaning to myself. that role is subservient and allows for abusive talk, behavior and treatment toward me. it chips away at my soul and my self love until there is nothing left but an empty container of a human.

i haven’t made the decision yet on how i might move forward with my family, but they have begun to see that the old me is no longer, and that the new me really loves himself. it may be quite scary for them (and it gives me a chuckle) as they can likely sense the change and see that the old way of doing things won’t fly with a person that loves themself.



I have now gone no contact. When I wrote my last comment above, I was in the middle of constant involvement with my family as a result of my father being terminally ill.

He has since passed, but while in the midst of his care, I was exposed to plenty of abusive behavior, from every single family member, including him.

I think the question to ask of the self when it comes to acceptance is “Does this person’s behaviors cross MY boundaries?”

That can serve as a gauge as to whether or not acceptance of them staying in your life is appropriate.

I know that sometimes we as the abused don’t know what our boundaries are and therefore it might be a good idea to distance yourself anyway while you get to know yourself better.


@Nate: I get that, too! I am the one that is required to accept. How come they don’t have to?

@Annie: Yes, we don’t know our boundaries, because they want us kept in the dark on that. Yes, distancing ourself helps us figure out who we are.


Hi Annie
For many people, distancing themselves is the only way they can come out of the fog. (and not geographical distance, it can be done with boundaries alone)
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Nate
Welcome to EFB ~ Well said! I did accept the way my family was… that is why I gave up trying with them. 🙂 And yay for self love! That is the bottom line key when it comes to total healing.
hugs, Darlene


Wow! That is awesome! I needed to hear another view point of acceptance. A while back, my therapist and I spoke about accepting others. What I didn’t like is she told me to “accept my parents for the way they are and they are not going to change.” Okay, I knew long ago they were not gonna change, however, other people told me to “be a good daughter and may be they will see the light.” I told people have they seen the light yet? Apparently not!

“When we are directed to accept, it is implied that acceptance means to accept the abusive behavior of the other person. This misunderstanding and false teaching gets deeply mixed into many relationships and is used as a justification for all kinds of abuse.”

Agreed. A lot of teachings out there are so false it’s a shame how people can’t understand what is true and what isn’t. My ex therapist tomorrow told me “we are not accepting the abuse,” I said ‘then, why do people have to accept abusive parents?’ I have been told “because they are your parents,’ which she has said that before but telling me to accept them because “they don’t know better and they didn’t have any teachings growing up.” Nothing new, I already knew they didn’t have teachings growing up which is why they are pretty much the mirror images of their parents!

I don’t believe I have to “accept them” why should I accept “abusive behavior?” Been doing that all of my life which led to therapist getting a bit huffy because “I’m listening to too many perceptions out there and taking them to heart.” It’s always that same boring song of people saying ‘they are your parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/friends/etc so you should at least accept the abusive behavior because that’s who they are.’ It really irks me when people say such nonsense like that. I told one person long ago ‘so, we should accept our lying politicians? Why do we have to keep “accepting pathological and sociopathic politicians?” ‘ My god, the silence I always get!

I told people ‘funny how abuse gets justified but the victim always has to remain silent? What kind of “acceptance” is that?’ If a parent mistreats their kids, then we should accept it because they are our parents and we should love them regardless – what bs!

“Accepting others the way they are is a more appropriate directive when the person wears strange clothing, or likes to eat weird bugs; acceptance of political or religious views that are not like mine are also good examples. But accepting others because they swear at me, talk down to me, devalue and disrespect me or completely dismiss me as a person ~ those are actions that I don’t have to accept. We should NOT be encouraged to accept unacceptable behavior.”

Accepting other people of different races/cultures/ethnic groups, clothing, music, etc like you said are wonderful examples of acceptance. Ooh, how come in therapy they don’t preach that?! Why do people in this world have to accept negative behavior? Point this to other people, they will always get offended and never have a real answer to back up. I always get the “that’s just how it is in life,” I told them ‘no, we as people allow it to happen.’ That always ends the conversation lol!

We all should be taught (this society should preach it but it don’t) to accept all kinds of people who are different than us and that it is okay to be different. It’s funny how society says it like it makes them feel good but doesn’t practice what they say. We should stop saying these things when we aren’t gonna practice them in this society. When we encourage bad behavior, I don’t understand why people are always shocked that these jerks get away with A LOT??!! I told this to my therapist, by saying to accept my parents for how they are; you are basically allowing the abusive behavior to continue – you don’t need a psychology book to tell you that! Oh, she didn’t like that! She cut me off repeating what she said before. I told her look around you; ever had to defend yourself only to find yourself frustrated because that jerk got away with it and you did nothing wrong? She got quiet after that!

“I have a problem with accepting unacceptable behavior. I can accept that my mother doesn’t want to respect me. But that means that she doesn’t get to have respect FROM me either and that seems to be what other people have problems with. I am accused of disrespecting her because I don’t have contact with her, but the truth is that I don’t have contact with her because I respect ME. Relationship is a two way street and I deserve equal respect. We all deserve EQUAL respect.”

Agreed. I was/still am accused by people that I don’t respect my parents. I’m sorry, why should I/we (we being siblings and me together)? I can’t fathom why we should respect them. My therapist tried to jump down my throat I said to her you have kids, right? Isn’t respect a two way street? Again, silence! Why do the children have to respect elders who don’t respect them? We have zero respect in this country – used to be a time where this country had respect long long time ago. We look bad as it is with no respect for anybody or anything for that matter. She just looked at me!

Told therapist this is why relationships/friendships/marriages keep falling apart because there’s no mutual respect on both sides.

“I HAVE equal value to all others. That is the truth and yet our society seems to encourage the belief that some people according to the title they hold actually deserve more respect than other people. I had to believe that this was a lie in order to own my own value and stop accepting disrespectful treatment. Disrespectful treatment is not acceptable and therefore should NOT be accepted. It really is that simple. No one has the right to treat another person in an abusive, disrespectful and unacceptable way.”

Definitely agree! I told that to my therapist just because a person has a degree/title/license that “they deserve respect” oh really?? We live in this country based on titles instead of viewing the person’s character and anybody who has a piece of paper or alphabet at the end of their names (i.e. Ph.D, MD, PS, RN, etc) means absolutely nothing they can be wrong too and if they commit a crime – they are going to jail or prison so those titles mean nothing! She didn’t like that because I told her your license/degree/title means shit to me. I was told crap in the past to “respect those who hold titles” I said you give respect to get respect.

“As long as I was in that spin of questioning myself, I believed that I was not being fair to other people if I accused them of devaluing or disrespecting me and I got that mixed up with acceptance. I believed that I was not “accepting others the way that they are” if I questioned their motives or intentions even within the confines of my own mind.”


“The truth was that I had never actually been taught or empowered to realize what unacceptable actually was. Controlling demanding people had taught me that I didn’t have the same “rights” as they did; that my actions were unacceptable while their actions were acceptable. And that teaching is a tough thing to un-teach and overcome.”

Agreed. I told my therapist my parents treated us like we don’t have the same rights as any human being and that hasn’t changed yet we are suppose to be adults. She told me months ago that I have “responsibilities as an adult,” I cut her off saying how do you have responsibilities as an adult when you were NEVER treated like an adult and NOT ALLOWED to make adult decisions? She looked at me saying I have free will….what free will??!?? Where is she getting that from? I never had free will in my life not when I was growing up and certainly not now at now age 28!!! If you have lived in the dark or still living in the dark, you have no freakin free will! OMG, what a clueless woman/therapist she is!

Yep, it is hard to unteach and therapist said it can be done. I said then the world should be perfect until people everywhere wants a change, then it will happen. It’s very hard to unteach especially if you are still living in a negative environment whether you live at home, live in a community where everybody thinks the same way, or have friends that think the same way as other negative people think. I mean really?!? Is this hard? Who needs a psychology book for that? That’s my own experiences and I’m sure other people can validate that as their experiences too.

“Another concept that gets mixed in with the “acceptance directive is “unconditional love”. Unconditional love is not about accepting abusive treatment from someone who kicks you around physically or emotionally. It isn’t love when someone treats another person with disregard or disrespect and yet we are taught to return those actions with love. This doesn’t make any sense. It isn’t loving towards the person who aims disrespect or disregard at another person if we just accept it. It is far more loving and an example of healthy self esteem to stand up to it even if that is only to remove ourselves from the situation.”

Amen, thank you for saying that! The way I hear about “unconditional love” has strings attached! I saw one time on tv a parent told their kids they love them “unconditionally” but when the child said mom and dad I am gay; all the “unconditional love” dropped to the point where they kicked their child out, burned their pictures, etc like the kid never existed! I have noticed all of my life that unconditional love is also brainwashing telling people ‘I love you unconditionally…but…,’ there’s that but again! Why is there a but in the sentence?

I told therapist ‘if you are telling me what my parents are doing is unconditional love, then I am sorry to say that you also allow abuse to happen to other people. Why is it okay for others to be abused but certainly not or your kids?’ Ohh, she didn’t like that at all! I told her bad is bad, you have this ‘it can’t happen to me syndrome.’ I agree it isn’t loving towards anyone and asked people/therapist where’s the love? She is always quiet when I questioned things extremely hard to the point she or anybody else can’t answer the question.

I asked therapist, ‘where’s that love you keep talking about that my parents have for me? I am still waiting! Let me honest with you: by saying I should accept my parents as they should and that’s also accepting the behavior, this is how women are taught to “accept abuse by their boyfriends/husbands and to get over it,” this is why as women we always end up repeating the same destructive cycle all over again because of the “accept others how they are.” ‘ I told her haven’t women gotten tired enough yet of abuse?

People have told my sister how rude/disrespectful she is for not wanting a relationship with my parents and “how dare you not speak to them.” Her hubby is a Naval officer and they are in Japan, she is 45 years old, why does she need to have a relationship with mommy and daddy? Cause everybody has parents is that it??!! I get told that all the time and how “your parents always accepted you.” What?!?!? When did they ever accepted us???!!! Never did and never will!

By being mistreated and like you said letting that transfer to love or back to love, told therapist ‘what kind of teaching is that to people? You’re saying a parent seriously mistreating their kids is just being a parent by providing tough love? Really??!! There is a way to give someone tough love without being a jerk about it. We are really not fully understanding what love really is in this world. So, my parents hate us and we are suppose to respond back with love? Wow, you are a parent yourself – very disappointed in you.’

“Always remember that we are healing from the damage and that before the damage can be overcome, it has to be acknowledged.”

Agreed. I’ve acknowledged everything about my parents long ago and didn’t lie to people. I can’t fully heal not while I am living in their house yet therapist expects me to be fully healed soon enough!!

“Acceptance in the context of accepting what happened is not the same thing as acceptance of the person who did it. Accepting the way a person “is” does not apply when abuse or mistreatment is involved. There is a big difference in accepting someone’s “faults”, verses accepting abusive treatment.”

Agreed. I can’t accept for what my parents did to me/us and not gonna accept them for who they are. However, I accept that they will not change at all and they don’t care too. We knew that not like that’s a secret like people out there wanna pretend like it is. I don’t have to accept negative behavior and I don’t have to spend my time with people like that. It took me a long time to get rid of my ex narc female friend and I got rid of her in 09, a 10 yr meaningless friendship with someone who’s pretty narcissistic like my parents always gotta be right while you have no feelings at all. It’s other people’s business of how they are as a person and you don’t have to agree with them or be their friend; but you don’t have to accept their behavior.


Excellent article, Darlene! And very validating. It distinguishes the difference between accepting the reality that a person is a certain way verses being forced to accept ( and therefore perpetuating ) the abusive behavior of someone. Also very validating is that one option of standing up for oneself is to remove ourself from an abusive person. I had confused this with running away from the problem. But it isn’t. Many times, it is the only solution. For example, I reconnected with a high school classmate on Facebook. It quickly became apparent that all she wanted to do was talk about HER problems, and additionally, she had issues with just about everybody in our graduating class. Eventually I could see that she was directing her rage towards me. She became critical and couldn’t handle me having differing opinions than her. A couple of classmates warned me that she was sharing private emails with them and spreading vicious gossip about me. I immediately cut off all contact, including “up friending” her; the only person I ever did that with. Removing her seemed to be the best solution, and I never regretted it. Meanwhile, she continues her toxic abusive tactics with other classmates.

Thank you Darlene for yet another inspiring and validating article.


Marquis, yes, I am very familiar with the different levels of rights, respect etc. And who always comes out ahead in the unevenness? Yes, the abusive person. They expect a level of respect that they don’t think they have to give. They believe they have more rights than others. And they believe that they are entitled to be accepted the way they are, with all their abusive behaviors. And their definition of unconditional love is different for us than it is for them.
This is a great article by Darlene. This concept of acceptance of what has happened verses acceptance of abusive behavior has been a huge sticking point for me, but having it verbalized, clarified and ultimately validated here has been enormously helpful.



Yea, I agree. It seems the abusive people always win in the end seeing how people cater and feel sorry for them. I told my therapist months ago (also told other people) how could my parents have “unconditional love” for us when they never wanted us and just had us as slave children? The usual songs of silence! lol


Hi, I’ve seen the term “acceptance” used in dialectical behavioural therapy and mindfulness. This makes me wonder if it is a mistranslation of an Asian word. What “acceptance” is supposed to mean is to look at the facts of what is happening right now and try not to colour your observations with your feelings and judgements.

I have had a counsellor misuse the term, requesting that I apply judgement and reject my feelings. I was asked to judge in favour of my parents because they had a history that had taught them it was okay to mistreat me. I was asked to reject my feelings that caused me to keep myself safe from my parents rather than to validate my feelings as part of my situation. And this was about the past, while real mindful acceptance is supposed to be about the present.

“Acceptance” has become a buzz word instead of a helpful Asian teaching. Some Westerners are afraid that in order to correctly teach what it means they will have to create material that is difficult to understand. Well, isn’t that oxymoronic, trying to help people understand a word with simplified definitions that are inaccurate?

Some writers define the word “acceptance” as if the term in the context of DBT is the only definition of “acceptance” that has ever existed; they cause confusion because they do not prevent the reader from convoluting the Western definition of “acceptance” into the DBT-relevant gloss. Eep, have you seen the dictionary defintion of “accept” the way it is actually used in English? You do not want recovering people to be doing that!

Maybe we need a new translation. Or, maybe we need to try to help people in ways that we actually understand, instead of misapplying practices and causing further harm.


I find the word “acceptance” to be double-meaning. There’s “accept” as in “acknowledge,” and then “accept” as in “condone.”

You DO have to accept (acknowledge) that the abuser “is” an abusive person. That is to say, accept that nothing YOU do will change THEIR behavior. What you don’t have to do is accept (condone) their abusive behavior towards you. You don’t have to accept a relationship with them if they can’t treat you without abuse.

Actually, it reminds me of the word “respect.” Some abusers will say “If you don’t respect me, I won’t respect you.” But what they mean is, “If you don’t respect me as an authority, I won’t respect you as a person.”


I’ve only been to Al-Anon a couple of times and one of the Topics was acceptance when I was my turn to talk I cried and almost yelled saying I am not accepting what he has done to me there’s no way I can accept the words he has called me the things he has done to me in front of the children. I think that’s a load of bullshit…. accepting??!!!! Give me a break!! As I walked out someone in the group came over to me in the parking lot and explained what accepting means.. she explained accepting is letting go of it ..within yourself ..accepting is accepting that it DID happen .. everything you endured…. you’re accept ing that this did actually happen because it DID happen. The closure of dealing with an alcoholic is not having any sort of closure at all and that is something we have to accept…. so that us ourselves can let it go .I hope I helped a bit prayers to you

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