When Dad Enables Mom in Emotionally Abusive Family Relationships

breaking free of the web

breaking free of the web

This weekend some of us celebrate Father’s Day in some parts of the world including Canada and the United States. Father’s day can be a really tough time of year emotionally for many of us who have been raised in dysfunctional families or where we have been taught that love is proven (by children) through obedience, compliance and service. It helped me to realize that if obedience, compliance and service is love, why isn’t it returned in the same way to the children in dysfunctional families. Why are the rules different for some people? Why aren’t we loved in the same way that we are taught to love? When the rules are different for some people, it isn’t really love; it is a false definition of love that causes confusion. Emerging from Broken is about breaking free from all that confusion by enabling clarity.

 Typically, there is more resistance when looking at issues we have with our fathers, and it is okay if that is what you are feeling when you read this. This is painful stuff!  It took me a lot longer to acknowledge the pain that my father caused me with his passive abusive actions and inactions than it took me to see the pain that my mother caused me with her more overt treatment. And father’s day was hard the first few years after I drew my boundary because I missed the idea of a loving father; I missed the hope that he might ‘see me’ one day. Letting go of the fantasy was like a death and there is grieving and sadness in the emotional healing process when the father has been emotionally absent.

In this post Carrie H. shares her process of coming to see her father through new eyes and the pain of the betrayal when she realizes that he isn’t actually on the side of the truth about love when it comes to her. Please help me welcome Carrie as she shares her heart and the core of her pain with us.  

Happy father’s day to all who celebrate, and remember to celebrate, appreciate and acknowledge yourself.

For some of us, we are or have become our own best fathers.

Darlene Ouimet

 When Dad Enables Mom in Emotionally Abusive Family Relationships ~

 Enabling Father by Carrie H.

 “Say something, I’m giving up on you

I’ll be the one, if you want me to

Anywhere I would’ve followed you

Say something, I’m giving up on you

And I am feeling so small It was over my head I know nothing at all And I will stumble and fall I’m still learning to love Just starting to crawl

Say something, I’m giving up on you

I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you

Anywhere I would’ve followed you

Say something, I’m giving up on you

And I will swallow my pride You’re the one that I love And I’m saying goodbye”

– lyrics from the song “Say Something” by A Great Big World

I saw my dad for the first time as I sat across the booth from him at an Italian restaurant post therapy session.  I saw him for the coward he is.  I saw him as a man who is terrified of feeling.  How could I expect my feelings to be validated by this man when he isn’t even willing to validate his own?  I saw a man who walks hunched over and crooked because he holds so much pain inside.  I saw a man who uses humor to avoid looking at truth.  I saw a man who hides behind blanket spiritual statements like “it’s all just an illusion” and “we are all love” to avoid confronting any darkness in himself or others.  A man who wants to skip to the end of the spiritual journey and claim the truths of those who have walked through fire rather than feeling the flames himself.  

 I saw my dad and I wanted to cry.  I wanted to cry for him.  I wanted to help him, to save him somehow.  I wanted him to step up to the plate for me, for my mom, for my sister, for his grandson, for himself.  I wanted him to embrace truth but he won’t cross the briars and thorns it would take to get there and experience the kind of spiritual bliss he devours books about. He sat next to me in the therapy session, a session that was supposed to be about our relationship but, as usual, it was about my mom.  He had a notepad and I glanced over and saw, written in his own handwriting these words: “what has [my wife] done to deserve this?” And there it is, in a nutshell.  He’s never been on my team.  He claims to not take sides but his jersey has always sported my mother’s name.  “Be the bigger person,” he loves to say to me.  But what does the bigger person do when someone is constantly trying to hurt her?  She doesn’t say, “Here let me step closer so you can throw another punch.”  No.  She walks away.  That is the bigger person. I once told my dad that my mom was incapable of love to which he agreed.  “Well she doesn’t love herself so she can’t love anyone else.”  So at dinner that night I asked him a point blank honest question.  “Why are you with someone who doesn’t love you?”  “Well, She loves me!” he barked angrily.  

Yes, I suppose she does love him just like he would claim to love me.  He looked me in the eyes and told me that he would never abandon me.  That he wouldn’t be one of the enabling fathers that got pulled down the chasm with his wife when she was no longer part of my life.  And yet, I haven’t heard from him again.  The final betrayal.  He pretended to play for my team and even gave me hope that he would.  But there he is, getting ready to go up to bat for my mom.  It’s her side he is on.  Always. Her side ~ as he sat silently when she told me I would never get married.  Her side ~ when he listened to her tell me I wasn’t socially ok.  Her side when I plugged my ears to keep her words for getting in. He sat silently while she shattered my soul into a million pieces.  Why should I expect anything different now? “It’s all just an illusion,” he loves to say.  Yes, dad, it is.  Our family as perfect, that’s an illusion.  That there was no abuse, that’s an illusion.  That you love me in the true definition of love, that’s an illusion.  

 …. and that you would ever take my side against her’s; that’s most definitely an illusion.

 Carrie H.

 Please add your thoughts and comments. We look forward to hearing from you!

Hugs, Darlene

 Although this website has a facebook page, your comments will not be posted on facebook and you are welcome to use any name you wish here for the sake of privacy.

The song “Say Something” by A Great Big World and link to the YouTube video

Related post: Passive Abuse and Emotionally Unavailable Father

Categories : Father Daughter



Very interesting that your father wrote on the notepad what did your mother do to deserve this. I was fed that line a million times. Nobody stopped to ask what did I do to deserve the abuse i endured. I have completely given up on the man i used to call my dad, I was very disillusioned when the veil was lifted and I realized he let mum run riot on us while he was busy working, the old line of ‘wait until your father comes home’ was used as a threat to us when we were kids by her to put fear into us, she was the one who we feared the most, she was a manipulative controlling woman who always said ‘she would run away and never come back’ to her children who would be terrified hearing that. I am not looking forward to tomorrow, facebook news feeds of how wonderful their fathers are, I will stay offline because my poor kids ended up with no father too because of domestic abuse so its a double whammy for us tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your story Carrie, the illusions are still quite raw to me and makes me very said,.xxx


Hi Marie
That line stuck me too; I heard that from my mom ~ she would say “I don’t know what I did to deserve this” and I never thought about ‘what she did’ back then; I just felt so ashamed of myself for causing her to feel that way. It is so messed up!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
hugs, Darlene


In my family dynamic, my father was the violent PTSD narcissist who demeaned and emotionally and physically abused my mother. He told us what a great house we lived in and required absolute perfection and compliance from me.

Mother was passive agressive and emotionally unavailable as she was so busy dancing to his tune.
He was never there for me. Never came to school or my concerts.
But he would always tell me all the things he did for me like food, clothing, a nice house and school.
I guess most kids dont get those things. Yeah.
When he threw me out at 18, they didnt care what happened to me.
He would not permit any independance or see me as anything but a possession. He would decide my life, my career and who I would date.
She considered me “the problem” and made me into her personal servant.
Both of them punished me for anything they didnt like about me.
I learned I was nothing from them.
I was so brainwashed I believed it for 50 years.
I was afraid of him well into my 40’s
when I went no contact. I knew what he was capable of.
Of course I was judged on how nice my fathers day cards were.
He died in 2003. It was after he died and I was still being put down constantly that I finally realized that he was her abuser and she was mine.


I realized this about my parents too.

My father was a passive abusive man. He hurt me the most with is disinterest in me. I thought everyone liked my dad, that he was a great guy, and that my mother was the only problem. When I woke up, I realized the same thing as you; that my father was my mothers abuser, that he drove her crazy with his passive non-reactive style and disinterest in HER feelings etc. He was her abuser but she was mine. and neither is right.

Isn’t is interesting how only the details of our stories are different. It is the damage that unites us.

Today I feel sorry for my mother because she was a victim, but I don’t feel sorry for her at MY expense anymore. She did just as much damage as my father did.

Today I also live in freedom from all of it. I know that I am worthy of so much more than they ever offered me. And I live and love!

hugs, Darlene


After I re-read my comment to Karen R. I realized that I worded it slightly wrong;
My father was my mother’s Primary abuser, and my mother was my PRIMARY abuser. But my father was also an abusive and discounting person in my life and his treatment of me defined me as “not important” and not valuable or loveable.

And my mothers actions towards me were totally different, BUT the way her actions defined me were pretty much the same!

hugs, Darlene


Today in therapy with my boyfriend I finally gained full cognition that I experienced sexual abuse at the hands of my father. I had scattered mixed up convoluted memories of being sexually abused at a young age (there was more to follow as an adolescent… I realize now how I was set up for it. I gained cognition and remembered that it was my father who did this to me. Today I am shocked to the core and am still in a wave of disbelief… Yet the nausea I am experiencing, the crying, the feeling if being torn wide open… The disbelief and trouble connecting the emotion to the facts tells me that I have suddenly hit rock bottom with the truth at last. I used to emotionally overrated and was scattered with disorganization… Yet today I had the urge to finally clean and organize my drawers and dig myself out if emotional hell. Don’t quite know how to handle Fathers Day tomorrow


It was opposite for me. Mother enabling father, ignoring, refusing to see the abuse. She would read when he abused me in the basement. She still enables him today & refuses to admit that any abuse took place. I hate this day. The memories & flashbacks it gives me are enough to make me want to die. The pain is still so raw, like it happened yesterday. 30 years later, the pain is so overwhelming that I can’t handle it. It is too much. It was too much then & is still too much today. Idk what’s wrong with me. Why I can’t heal. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I feel so stupid & alone. Too embarrassed & at a loss for words really, to describe the unbearable pain to my therapist that is eating me alive, still all these years later.


At one point, my counselor asked me where my mother was when my father was physically abusive and I was shocked that I had absolutely no idea. She was never there – and worse, much of the abuse was perpetrated by her – she’d set us up and then leave. For years, I thought that Nfather was the issue and that his abuse was the real problem. It was only years later that I realized that Nmother was completely incapable of loving anyone. Even the GC was unloved, just spoiled. The damage she did to her children was far worse than anything Nfather did.


I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, had my father not been there it’s likely that things would have been much worse for me. And at the same time, no-one in the family “had my back”. Later, he would scold me when I refused to show affection to my mother on demand. And when I’d be upset with her and call her on the issues, she would cry and he would claim that I should “Stop it, you’re making your mother upset”.

They were extremely close, very fusional, couldn’t stand to be apart from each other for even a day. I found their relationship “childlike” in some way. When he was much older and ill with dementia I heard him call her “mother” on occasion. And by then, she ruled him entirely.

For the most part, in any situation in which I took issue with my mother I’d be up against both of them rather than just her. He’d take her side without any real “rational” reason as far as I could tell and so I came to see him as “weak”. I also think he left the “kid stuff” up to her as he didn’t see it as his job. For a while he was also the “final authority” on things but it was fake as he sided with her every time. I expected to be able to get a different point of view given I was addressing a different person.

I’ve heard other parents say that both parents should “present a united front” to their kids and consider attempts to discuss with the other parent as attempts at manipulation. Isn’t that incredible?


Reading the posts so far, I am seeing a common pattern. My alcoholic father was also the primary abuser to my mother, and my passive aggressive mother abused me. What made the situation even worse was that my father would beat my mother, but never lay a hand on me. I was his little girl, the apple of his eye. However, when he was not around, my mother took her frustration out on me by beating me with a belt every chance she got. Anything I did wrong was an excuse to whip me. The narcissist in her became jealous of me, so she took every opportunity to belittle and degrade me. No matter how much I tried to please her, I was criticized. She never did this in front of my father, though. He would have killed her! Can you imagine the screwed up messages I received as a child? It took me decades to figure out this twisted hierarchy!
Isolation was another thing that haunted me. We never did anything together as a family. Weekends were spent with my Dad and his drinking buddies in the kitchen while I played in my room. Rarely were there any outings where the family could spend time together. Unless you count the hours spent in front of the television, where no one spoke to each other. They just got lost in the programs.


My dads dead from alcoholism. He drank my whole life. He hit everyone and called everyone names and spit on them. When he was sober, very rarely, it was so painful because he seemed like this broken little birdie and it made you want to cry with compassion. It is so mixed I can never get to the truth. Its a big problem to getting to the effects the harm has done to me, it always has been. Its very difficult to go there, the sympathy keeps me sick and in denial from the hanious abuse. How messed up is that.


PS I hate mother and fathers day, they both make me sick and ill.


Hi Debbie
Well I know this kind of shock and horror of those memories. And it is amazing that you have the urge to clean your drawers, and in a way it is awesome! Like a symbol of being ‘ready’. I found that it was when I was ready to face something, that those memories or a trigger would happen. Hang in there and thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I don’t think I ever had a relationship with my father. He was there in the house, but we were basically not in each other’s lives. I confronted him about never calling me once in college to see how I was. He only called maybe every few months to see how much money I needed. He said he found out how I was doing through my mom because he was often there when she called me. Bullshit. What a cowardly way to “relate” to your daughter. In the same conversation, he blamed me for not ever letting him get close to me. More bullshit.

I feel like I gave up on him a while ago, calmly, without a fight, probably because I already knew how hopeless it was. But he’s my dad, so there must be a great deal of pain there. I think a few years ago, I didn’t give him a Father’s Day gift. I felt only a little bad about it, because it seemed to fit the tone of our relationship, or lack thereof.

My ex-boyfriend was almost a clone of my dad, even in his looks. They had the same job, same interests, same cynicism, same disinterest in me, and I actually tried to convince myself for a while that this was a good thing. The further I get from that relationship, the more I see how little it actually resembled a real relationship, and same with my dad.

I hope one day to be with a man who is so loving that I’ll look back and give thanks every day that I was able to do the work and heal to the point where we attracted each other into one another’s lives. It feels so far away. I know I have to be in a relationship like that with myself first. I feel like deep down I believed that a father/man can’t be loving, or if one is then it’s a hoax and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well, no more. That ends today. My father is a sorry example of what it is to be a man.

marquis (female)
June 15th, 2014 at 2:25 am

Wow, very powerful. So glad a blog like this came out about Father’s day. I saw more blogs on the happiness of fathers than the shittiness of fathers! This was very validating for me as my dad came back from CA this past Monday during this week of “Father’s Day.” I mean really?!? Why did he bother to come during this week of Father’s Day? He really thinks he deserves a gift for Father’s Day?

“really tough time of year emotionally for many of us who have been raised in dysfunctional families or where we have been taught that love is proven (by children) through obedience, compliance and service. It helped me to realize that if obedience, compliance and service is love, why isn’t it returned in the same way to the children in dysfunctional families. Why are the rules different for some people? Why aren’t we loved in the same way that we are taught to love? When the rules are different for some people, it isn’t really love; it is a false definition of love that causes confusion. Emerging from Broken is about breaking free from all that confusion by enabling clarity.”

Agreed. Children are seen but not heard still exists today! I knew as a little kid there was no love and there was nothing in return for me/us yet people wanna twist that statement of mine telling me I am misinterpreting it; I am not misinterpreting anything. It’s people not really listening to what’s truly happening to a person when they are in such severe emotional/physically pain.

I agree about the rules being different for certain people and it isn’t real love just a false definition of love. I have been saying that for years, nope, I am the crazy one according to people! Funny, even MHPs don’t even say that because they don’t want to tell the public the truth. Like I always say, I never saw real, true love from my parents nothing but dysfunction/lies/false accusations towards us and they call themselves the best parents we ever had! They deprived us from everything growing up; other people were gonna rape/molest us (never happen), and other stupid lies.

I told my ex-therapist that dysfunctions in families keeps the lies going even she agreed to that yet spoke like my parents are saints! I told her that’s why you’re contradicting yourself a lot. Anyway, my dad enabling my mom and vice versa believing each other’s lies so sickening! He claimed he listens to me and tries to listens to me yet believes my mom over me and my mom does the same thing. Then, he tells me I never said that a complete bold face lie! People say ‘he’s your dad, love him anyway.’ Hell with that crap! I don’t think so such ludicrous to believe that.

Love is a two way street which everybody on here agrees with that and elsewhere seems to somewhat believe that but gives power to certain people and others zero power. A lot of people don’t seem to understand that not hard to comprehend. I tried to give my dad a gift long ago and he didn’t appreciate it, so nevermind! He wonders why nobody gives him any gifts because he doesn’t deserve it yet people tell me ‘oh, he’s your dad, you only get one dad.’ Hell, lots of people don’t even know their dads and others whose dads died, so what are these people trying to prove?

I hate this day means absolutely nothing to me tired of seeing the ads. We never had a real father growing up, like I told ex-therapist/people ‘how do you have a dad when he was NEVER home? Always with his nasty whores and still is to this day, made it clear we were a burden and he just wanted kids for maidservants, said that’s what women are good for is making babies, he wanted a total of 25 kids so he can be like the FLDS Mormons and rich Arab men yet never wanted to take of us or any additional more if he had more, etc so how is that a dad better yet a father? Nobody ever answers that question every time I pose it.

I told people ‘I am sorry, but if you made it clear to us (children) that we are just a burden to you, we were made to be your maidservants, never loved us, pretended you cared when you never did, always gotta put on appearances for the public and be so damn fake about it, etc then you were never my “parent” in the first place. Thank you for proving that you never loved us and both of you had kids for the very wrong reasons!

Then, like Darlene would say ‘where’s the real love? It’s all an illusion and a false definition that only benefits the abuser’s selfish needs.’ If it only benefits the abuser, then there is no two way street – it’s all one sided. Can’t believe MHPs don’t even use that in therapeutic practices!


I’ve figured out what kind of “love” my mother and several other family members had for me when they used that word. It’s the love you feel for a dog when you can get them to do things you say and then come to you wagging their tail and showing affection. Exactly the type that Darlene has described.


Hi Marquis,
You made the right choice when you rejected the lies of your therapist.You had the courage to tell her she was wrong.You questionned her words because you knew your parents really were abusive and no therapist could tell you otherwise.

Whoever is trying to bring you down is already below you.(Internet).I live by this quote.It’s my positive motto, my personal mantra in times of hurt.I’m an optimistic woman and i hope quotes like these help everyone healing.


Alice, I l was ” loved ” too whenever I was doing things for my mother. But I could get tossed out of her life a moment later if I said something she disagreed with.


Yes that ‘not good enough’ followed me around my whole life Darlene because if your parents dont think you are good enough then why would anyone else? The sad thing there is that i re-created the dynamics by staying in abusive relationships taking the beatings and verbal abuse thinking that it was me that was the problem!

Karen I was kicked out at 17 years of age, I was sent to a mother and baby home clutching my teddy bears, pregnant through rape.. This day is so difficult, I said I would stay offline but found myself coming on anyways.

Hugs to you all today on EFB , I find so much comfort here xxx


Hi Mary,
It is so freeing to dump all that stuff. If you feel safe with your therapist, even if you write it down and give it to him or her in the next session, you might find it really helpful. I didn’t move forward until I was able to lay this burden down with someone safe, and see (sometimes through their eyes) that what happened to me was so very wrong and that it wasn’t my shame. My past ate me alive until I was able to release it this way. I am so sorry that you went through this with your parents.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Pearl
I am so sorry that happened to you. It is so hard to comprehend that our own parents could do this kind of stuff.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Alice
My father backed my mother in a really disconnected way, like it was all up to her anyway and he wasn’t really a parent at all.
And yes, parents are taught to unite, even if it is against what is best… nobody (in the dysfunctional family) is focusing on what would be ‘best’ for the child.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Spence
This is a horrible situation! Thank you for the way you presented it; there are SO many others who have grown up in that situation, and it is really hard to express it so correctly.
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Cat,
I was exactly like that too. Trapped between ‘sympathy’ for them, and the pain of invalidation. I had to set aside the sympathy for them in order to validate what happened to me. That is where the freedom started. Today I am able to feel sympathy for them, just not at MY expense anymore. This was the process of healing. (and once I started to focus on me, I went through a whole range of emotions from grief to red hot anger, before I ever felt on scrap of sympathy for any of them ~ it took over 2 years ~ so I am not saying that validating myself instantly led to my feeling sorry for the sickness in them)
Hugs, Darlene

Hi L.
I love your aspirations! I am with such a man today (the same man that I lived in dysfunction with for the first 16 years of our marriage) and our relationship is based on mutual value and equal respect. Finding out what the REAL definition of love is, went miles towards the way that I do all my relationships including the ones with my own kids!
Yay for your comments!
hugs, Darlene


Realizing that there was no two way street was a huge beginning for me, because I also realized that I had a choice and that I was no longer going to be in relationships where there was no two way street. Real love is mutual. 🙂
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Many times I had the image of a puppy in my minds eye when I came out of the fog about the way my mother regarded me. (and others too) I am not a puppy anymore.. and in many cases that is why they stopped talking to me! LOL (I don’t miss any of it!)
hugs, Darlene


Hi Marie
Yes, that is the wall I had to break through! (and I was in many abusive relationships as well after I moved out of my mothers house) I finally realized that my parents were WRONG!
I was broken hearted and horrified to read of how you were sent away; a child, pregnant by a rapist, banished and rejected by her only family. I am so glad you are here.
hugs and love, Darlene

marquis (female)
June 15th, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hi Laura,

Yea, I rejected maybe 98% of the stuff my ex-therapist told me in her office and also told her what she is doing is abusive. Hmm, never got an answer but took her a long time to respond. I told her be very careful on your words as I will use them against you – which I did a number of times.

I’ve always told her you’re not gonna tell me otherwise and you are gonna have a very hard time trying to convince me as I am not easily convinced! Ex-therapist sure had one hell of a time trying to convince me and told me all I am doing is a lot of disagreeing and said damn right because none of what you said about my parents isn’t even true nor does it come close to it!! That’s when she threw in my face ‘if you’re such an expert, why are you here?’ I never said I was the expert just knew more than her and got myself out of dogma from what society says! That doesn’t make a person an expert.

I have been looking at quotes to help me, I am sure they will help even more when I move out.


I agree! Like I told people who claim they want all of these good qualities in relationships yet keep hooking up with those who don’t want to meet in the middle and got the nerve to tell me everything my parents are doing is just fine. That makes me nervous when a person says that yet they have a lot of failed relationships. I’ve said that to a lot of people and that became verbal fighting lol but said the truth.

I told my ex-therapist and others it’s very hypocritical and contradicting to even say those statements – are you practicing what you’re preaching? Oh, the amount of silences! Nothing my parents ever said made any sense and they definitely don’t practice what they preach because they said it doesn’t apply to them. I’ve told other parents ‘doesn’t that seem off to you? Aren’t you concern by those statements from another parent? Would you want my parents to babysit your kids? Keep your daughters away from my dad!’ Yea, a lot of people shut up and had nothing to say to me after that.


This is how it was for me, too—my dad the passive one, also being used/abused, except that he was shepherding me to meet my mother’s emotional needs. The other aspect was my mom was yearning for emotional connection and intimacy, something my dad didn’t give her (for example, my dad said that he had refused to hear my mom talk about her experiences in her past, wanting to kill herself… but then she talked to me about it, which is too much for a kid when I had my own problems). I can’t say to what degree I was held in my mom’s clutches because of my dad, because of wanting him to be proud of me and love me, and just to have access to him. When I lived in line with what my mom wanted, it was possible for my dad and I to have a connection. Not a close emotional connection about the reality of our family life, but a kinship on other levels that were probably not unrelated to our both being victims.

He came to understand that what I’d experienced with my mom was similar to what he experienced with his dad, as well as understanding that he married a woman as a stand-in for his father (he outright said that to me). When I was a teen, I remember him saying that if my mom was religious, she’d be a fanatic, dogmatic, etc. My dad and I got along intellectually. We both appreciate logic, argument, debate, philosophy. My mom was a “gut feeling” kind of person. Basically whatever she felt was right or true was right and true simply because her gut feelings were just always bang on… It’s so crazy. When I brought up how things had been pushed under the carpet in my family, that they ignored warning signs, that they knew what was going on, well my dad 9 years ago admitted that he was sure that on some level he knew but chose to ignore it. I appreciated him saying that but like with everything else he saw, nothing changed. My mom wouldn’t acknowledge that she knew (and I actually have MORE signs that she knew than my dad—my dad would simply know because he and I had similarities in our experiences and I would show signs like that). The crazy thing was that my dad would argue then on behalf of my mom. He said how they had just thought that I had a personality like his, not that there was something wrong. I think this is so off-the-wall considering the fact that he understood how his dad’s treatment did affect him, not to mention the fact that as a teenager I listened to my mom and my dad’s brother-in-law talking about my dad’s personality and why he was the way he was, my uncle saying that maybe it was because of bad “reprogramming” after my dad got out of a cult and my mom saying it was from before that, from his relationship with his dad…. and yet apparently they looked at me and dismissed the signs I was showing because I had a “personality” like my dad’s. Does that mean I genetically inherited the effects of my dad’s experience of abuse? No, of course not. It just means that my family walks around with all the puzzle pieces in front of them, refusing to put two and two together. If my dad wasn’t so thoroughly brainwashed and prone to hurting me when I tried to talk about stuff, I would want to ask him if he knew that my mom had been aware that there was something wrong with his personality as a result of bad childhood experiences/dysfunction in his family, and so any link she’d make between he and I would basically be an admittance of in fact knowing something was similarly wrong in this case…. Anyway, my dad’s the one who was often telling me what to do to make my mom happy, telling me when she was upset and why and what I could/should do. The one who hugged me and told me “this is what your mom really needs” when I’d had a breakdown, was in therapy and struggling. My mom’s pain always trumped mine. As did her wants, when they were unreasonable and infringed on my own rights as my own person. He’s the one who understood the basic necessity for people to be able to talk about things as a way to healing, as a basic human right, but at the same time let me know how much I hurt my mom by talking and wished I wouldn’t. It became all about what I was doing to the family. My parents didn’t want a daughter; what they wanted was me to be their friend (on their terms of course). They were lonely. There was always an agenda. And for me not to fit into what they wanted made me, if not a bad person, at least a lesser person, that they would maybe begrudgingly accept after multiple attempts to get me to conform… (meanwhile my own mind hurting me so badly thinking something was wrong with me for disappointing them)… Sometimes it’s hard to explain that this is abuse—because when I was their friend, they were very nice, what would be considered “good parents” in many ways. It’s like Alice says about being a puppy, though. I’m not a puppy. I’d say I was a pretty good one for a long time, but when I stopped being a puppy and started addressing things, the ways in which I hadn’t been a good puppy back then (but they’d apparently lived with) came to light. The special kid not really so special, just important to have her think so.

Anyway, lots of pain with my dad. He probably said more hurtful, invalidating things to me than anyone else in this whole process. Aware of how much he was hurt as a kid by his dad’s favouritism towards my dad’s brother, he still compared me to my brother, telling me how my brother “basks” in his mother’s love. My dad baffles me in that way because intellectually he can connects the dots and he can be literally in the middle of recognizing a truth at the same time as he’s inflicting the same damage. It was bad because it gave me hope where I understand there is next to none. He has a dependency on my mom and that trumps everything. After cutting off for 2 & 1/2 years, then reconnecting, there was no hope with him. The pain of the situation probably bonded my parents more. I gather he can’t look at the truth of my situation with my mom because it would not just reveal the truth of his own childhood but the truth of his current situation with my mom. He doesn’t have the courage to risk the possibility that she may not love him, that she may not look at the truth for love of him. He used to say that I was a girl after his own heart whenever we shared similarities. I told him he betrayed me and betrayed his own soul. I feel sad for him at the same time as the wounds cut so deep. More than anyone, I probably wish that he would come out of the fog, though I wish they all would.


Hi Darlene, yes it was a feeling that came to me because I couldn’t understand what my mother could possibly feel towards me and call it “love”. I figured it had to be a “positive” feeling of some kind and that’s when it occurred to me that I had “loved” my dog a great deal. But what was it actually? Certainly not an equal relationship. I loved her dearly because she was kind and affectionate and obeyed me without trouble.


Hi all,
Well I can relate to all that is written.
Alice.16 I have spent my life trying to please my parents just like that dog you wrote about.Wag Wag. The difference for me they were never ever pleased with anything I did but wanted me just a tiny bit so I could be blamed.How my mother hate me, but now is pleased to see me in her care home because nobody else apart from my father visits.
I wish I knew why such venom is directed at me.WHY is still a puzzle.My father sexually abused me and my late brother who has been dead 48 years 10th.June. When I went to his grave that evening there is now only one vase for flowers.My parents went earlier in the day. My father has cut me off and disowns me. Now in my later years and from reading all this stuff it was always that way, I just didn’t have the brains to see it.How could I compare my life until recently to anybody else. I thought that was how it was for everybody.
When I was much younger I was seen and not heard. For pocket money I had to go upstairs with my father to have his way and then he told me to say nothing and then paid me. Even at age 10 and younger I hated it but thought that was what was done.My mother did know because where would I have got money from. Once when I was about age 5 he had me in bed with him and my mother came in the bedroom and dragged me out screaming abuse and hitting me. I knew no different.She hated me and blamed and blackened my name to all.Yet still he went with other woman as well as me.
In about the last 25 years we had never heard of boys being sexually abused,I think it was always thought of a girl thing.Does anyone agree with me.Now I know what he was doing to my brother and then a fight would break out between them but my father had a lethal weapon his false arm which he used to beat him with.He used to say he was checking to see if he had wet the bed.I believed it I was there never thinking he was touching him.Of course he was.
My mothers latest message to me is not to talk about my job because my father is not interested. What are they interested in THEMSELVES. Never ever do I remember my mother hugging me or complimenting me.But regularly said I looked like a witch, and dyed my blonde hair auburn.She was the witch. I know I repeat myself in my rants but it helps me so I apologise if it annoys any of you. However in the 18 months of reading this site I am so much better and stronger and am able to cope and please me first.For that I thank Darlene and any of you who have replied.
Wendy AM


Thanks for this post, it actually inspired me to dig deeper into some issues. My mother was my primary abuser; and she was an abuser to everyone else in her life, including my father, my aunt, etc. She insisted on controlling and limiting any/all family relationships that could potentially make her jealous. It’s often hard for me to muster any feeling at all in terms of my father. I heard my older sister echo a lot of the hopes that Carrie has in this post for our father, but I never saw him the way she did. He was just a bitter, empty, distant person who had physically, sexually and emotionally abused me, but unlike my mother (or sister..) he didn’t try to use an emotional connection or attachment to control me. His homophobia and sexism (i.e. his stereotyped views about what I as a boy “should be” like) cut him off from me permanently, but my mother held pretty much the same views there as well.

There was never any relationship, and no dialogue other then harassment unless I wanted to listen to him preach his obscure spiritual philosophies to me (and why would I want to when he yelled the same BS at me when he was angry?) He used drugs and obfuscation to try to pretend that he was so ‘zen,’ but really he was more like my mother, he chose the company of an abusive, alcoholic woman who was just like the mother who abandoned him as a child. That’s disgusting, and when I really get into it, I do loathe everything about him. But again, it’s still just in a dot-on-the-horizon sort of way.

I would say that my parents both enabled each other’s abuse 99% of the time. But then my mother loved to tell stories (twisted versions of stories) about how it was ok for my father to violently assault me when I was 14 because it was in response to my standing up for myself to her. He did see himself as her ‘protector’ in a really vile immature way, and she loved to use him and others that way, to protect her from the consequences of her emotional abuse. He may have stood against my mother sometimes, but it still wasn’t standing with me–not really. Perhaps he passed through the same room I was in once or twice, but that’s all. Every mood of his made me uncomfortable, including the empty ‘mellow’ attitude that my siblings seemed to find so endearing. I never had a father.


Thank you for this article. These days I am struggling in particular with the compulsive overeating which my Dad had and somehow passed on to me by the age of 10. He and that addiction are linked and rooted together, and as I try to focus more on this lifelong means of survival, he comes into the forefront of my mind. Those days as a kid when I made my own little grocery lists full of comfort foods and felt special for it, I could not have any idea the harm being done to me, the message being taught to suppress my feelings.

It’s always been so much easier to acknowledge my anger towards my mother; she was direct and course with her emotional and verbal abuse. Her mouth had no filter and she didn’t care, and said so. She played the victim to the hilt and played us against each other: if she was mad at one of us we all had to be, too.

My Dad was a quiet, depressed and withdrawn man and I favored him in looks and temperament. I was Mom’s pride and joy and she showed me off until I started to gain weight; after that I was shameful to her.

One of my most hurtful memories is of her walking into their bedroom while I was sitting talking to Dad and her saying, “Look at the two fat pigs”. I was maybe 8 at the time and responded by looking at my Dad, who just put his head down in silence. It was never a problem to feel the hurt and anger toward my mother for that cruelty, but it’s taken me decades to understand that Dad let me down just as much in that moment as well. He let her do this to his child, and that gave the message too that I wasn’t worth protecting.

But that memory is so loaded because it bonded me and Dad in abuse, and I was already closer to him by then. I’ve always been more aware of his own pain in that moment than in his failure to protect me—my little self was more “parental” in concern for him than he was for me!
And that taught me early to care more about other people’s feelings than my own.

So many times when they argued she threatened to “go back to my people” in Quebec, and it was clear she meant alone. So many times I heard and witnessed that and he never to my recollection called her on it, told her to stop. I was in my late 40s before I really understood how egregious these threats of hers were—not only threatening to leave your own kids in their presence but actually telling them they’re not your “people”. I always recalled the feelings of helplessness, responsibility and insecurity at those times but my father seemed only to be some shadowy, mute and more innocuous figure.

My parents, one as bad as the other, were so wrapped up in themselves they never considered the primacy of their duty to protect their children. When as a teenager I started to get angry at my mother and call her insensitive, Dad did nothing, said nothing, didn’t get involved. My older sister did the same, she’d say nothing and learned to fly under the radar best she could. I couldn’t do that, I was so hurt and angry.

They both fed off each other, and only when as a teenager I started to become more vocal of MY anger did I get the sick-in-the-head label from Dad, and she agreed. But “sick” as I was I was supposed to listen to my Dad when he turned to me one day, pointed to Mom and said, “Do you know what she put me through?” before she said the same thing.

He was as damaging but just expended less energy at it. It was intentional and self-serving all the same.


My siblings had a better relationship with my Dad than I did because they did the farm animals at the fair thing. I didn’t.

My friends used to always talk about who was worse on discipline, mom or dad. On my case, discipline was left to Mom. My dad was “Kodak moments.”

Dad could not talk to me. I tried. One time I asked him why guys just wanted to get in your pants. Oh man, he could not handle it. He hemmed and hawed and gave me this “why aren’t you asking your mom” look.

I don’t miss my father at all. My father died years ago. I didn’t even cry at the funeral. I was accused of “trying to be strong.” I wasn’t being strong. I felt nothing.

I relate to a lot of things Alice and Amber talk about.


Sitting here wishing I could write more, talk more to people directly, just can’t seem to get it together enough to have enough to give right now. Just reflecting on wouldn’t it be great if those “don’t focus on the past, move forward, forgive” quick fixes actually worked and healed all wand we could just march on like normal people that nothing bad ever happened too?

My therapy assignment this week is writing a letter to my Mom, (not that I ever have to give to her, just to get it out). My computer glitched and screwed it all up after days of writing. Sometimes I feel like there has always been a higher power out thee waiting to rip the rug out from underneath me no matter how hard I try and it is best to just not try at all because it doesn’t matter what I do, I am destined to fail.


This hit home with me. Everytime I have tried to break no contact from my momster, the step dad and bio dad would side with her and try to suck me back in. The game they played, was to make me “think” they were on my side, but really they weren’t. After years of them being the flying monkeys, I had to break ties with all of them. This was a hard. I had to mourn their deaths.


Sometimes I feel like there has always been a higher power out thee waiting to rip the rug out from underneath me no matter how hard I try and it is best to just not try at all because it doesn’t matter what I do, I am destined to fail.

Me too. Only it involves happiness. Every time I feel deliriously happy about something, a supervisor at work would criticize me for some little thing. This would make me fall flat on my face. I didn’t like the “falls” so I learned that feeling deliriously happy is a prelude to “falling.” I don’t like the fall, so I don’t allow myself to feel happy. That way I don’t “fall” it’s just a “minor low bump.”


Yes, DXS, I had this little blurb on my desk for the longest time that said “Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.” I am always afraid whatever I have, it will be taken away from me.

I am dealing with an incredible amount of guilt right now writing this stupid letter to my Mom. I feel like I am committing a horrible betrayal. My Mom is one who has convinced herself that family structure is ordained by God, I am the problem child and that is just a fact but they are benevolent and put up with me and rescue me. To say I have carried her burden and that I have been her scapegoat since childhood will be a rocking of the boat like my family has never seen it rocked before. I have this sinking, sickening feeling about it even though at this point I am just writing it for my therapist not my Mother. I thought it would feel good to get it out, but I feel scared.


Hi Kaycee. After doing a lot of reading on Darlene’s blogs, I began to realize that much of what I felt guilty, or felt like a betrayal of my mother was related to the way she had me trained. I was brought up to feel guilt for being too noisy, even when I wasn’t very loud, guilt for having needs and feelings, guilt for being a female, guilt for being happy about something, guilt for not having done enough to help around the house, guilt for existing! I was so well trained that it would be natural for me to feel guilty and like I’m betraying my mother if I wrote about the things that were wrong in our relationship. Now that I have become a little stronger emotionally, I don’t feel guilty when I journal about all that was wrong. I’m realizing that I don’t have to be a scapegoat that takes the blame for everything. And that I have the right to finally, at long last, give a voice to my feelings, some of which have been long buried deep inside.
Kaycee, when you see your therapist maybe you can address the guilt issue.


Marie – Exactly! Thanks for sharing.
Karen R. – So glad you made it out of the fog 🙂
Debbie – What a shocking realization. It sounds like you are healing from that trauma now.
Mary – You are NOT alone!! In my experience part of the healing IS feeling the pain we had repressed for so long.
Pearl – Yes, I had the same realization about my father you had about your mother. I just never thought to look at his silence as passive abuse.
Alice – I agree. Parents can be united in certain fronts but when it comes towards loving actions towards children a healthy couples will call each other out if something is unloving.
Spence – wow. So glad you emerged from that dysfunction.
cat – Thanks for sharing.
L – Your last paragraph shows all the insight and strength you have gained. Well said!
marquis – “Love is a two way street.” Exactly. Thanks for sharing.
laura – Thanks for the quote 🙂
Aliana – “My family walks around with all the puzzle pieces in front of them, refusing to put two and two together.” EXACTLY!!
Wendy am – Thanks for sharing your story.
Caden – How sad. Thanks for sharing.
Doren – Yes, it is easier to acknowledge anger towards the primary abuser in my experience as well.
DXS – THanks for sharing.
Kaycee – It would be great if those quick fixes worked but I think that is equivalent to cutting off the top of the weed. Unless we pull out the root we can’t really heal. Maybe writing the letter to your mom again will help you get more out? I too feel the guilt you speak of but remember that you haven’t done anything wrong here.
Sariah – Yes, making you think they are on your side is the trick!


Hi All,

I have been busy working overtime lately and I’m trying to catch up on EFB. Thank you Darlene for bringing up Father’s Day. I, too, had a terribly passive father who never supported me. I had verbal and psychological abuse by my father. My Narc mom was the more aggressive and physically violent one. When I was younger, I tried to look up to my father as being such an intelligent and professional man, as a kind of denial and protection. I viewed my father as a victim along with me, but the truth was that he wasn’t a child.

I can remember a break through that I had like twenty years ago when I was still seeing a therapist—-(I gave up on these so-called therapists years ago). But we got into the conversation of where was my father when my Narc mom was in my bedroom beating me? So, I replied that my father was sitting in his chair, with a drink and a side dish of peanuts, just watching the TV set. My father’s world consisted of nothing more than work, going home, having dinner and then watching hours and hours of TV. My father had no real friends or hobbies. He had no real interest in me and NEVER took me out anywhere for fun. I then realized that my father only cared about saving himself and it was fine for him to let a child, me, take the fall for a grown man.

My father sided with my mother as a kind of accomplice. I never trusted him much either. Now I have NO real love for either one of my parents and I’m extremely Low Contact. If I had arranged my life differently when I was a young adult out of high school, then I would have moved to a new state far away and gone No Contact!

My only good relatives when I was growing up was my father’s cousin, Cousin Dean. My Cousin Dean was the ‘real’ father figure in my life, not my biological father. I wanted so badly to be adopted by my Cousin Dean and go live with him. (He was single, never married and living on a disability/teacher’s pension in a double-wide mobile home in a town in WA state—-very educated with a master’s degree and former school teacher). In contrast, my parents’ house was a big, luxury house in Seattle, with walking distance to the beach. But I was willing to become “poor” to live with my only good relative. I thought if my parents only cared about showing off their big luxury house then why was I born? And why couldn’t they let me go as a child so we could all be happy? I couldn’t believe the difference between him and my bio father. My bio father was always so grouchy, moody, mean and afraid to feel any normal emotion. It’s like my bio father would get angry for having to express normal human emotion and only wanted his TV set and moodiness.

There are too many incidents that I can name with my father. I can remember him always saying such rude and nasty insults to me. Studying the past, I realized that my own bio father was jealous of me. My father viewed me as competition. It was like psychologically that his wife (my Narc mom) acted the role of his mother and I was competition like his “sister/rival”. Then my father was free to have a few affairs with other women on his free time. My parents were both so dysfunctional and co-dependent on each other that I don’t think that they could function as people without each other. I don’t believe that anyone else could have seriously wanted them.

I used to believe that I had no right to complain and feel hurt by my father and that it was all my Narc mom’s fault. But then I realized that my father could have ended the abuse. He had the power to get a divorce and he was an adult and a professional. Many wives live with domestic abuse since they’re only a house wife with no work and money. But I ask myself why was my father so stuck? Why did he defend his evil wife and make me the villain? I have been mercilessly gossiped about by my parents to other relatives and parents’ social friends. I have NEVER been able to defend myself or tell my side of the story. So, I was further victimized by having my reputation shot and these other people do not even know me! They can’t see what when on behind closed doors. If my life were a reality TV show, then I could play back the tape and show them what really happened! All I can do know is to keep my distance and have Low Contact with parents. They’re both elderly (age 80’s now) and I hope and pray that they don’t last too much longer. It always feels so good to let it all out here on this site. I may have time to write a more detailed response later….just typing all of this here on my break at work. Thanks everybody for your kindness and support.

Blessed Be,

Yvonne :0


I was numb this past weekend, knowing that Father’s Day was being celebrated by all of my siblings. The man I used to put higher than God has abandoned me in every sense of the word. I loved him with every fiber of my being, I was a true “Daddy’s girl”. I would follow him around the house and yard basking in his reverence.

Yet, when my family decided to “officially” excommunicate me for “outing our family issues…alcoholism, mental abuse and beg for family help…I became a nonentity. I was devastated. My hero had become my abuser by sins of omission and denial. I am 53 years old and I had hoped that by now we could drop all of the resentment, denial and embrace one another as a family.

I no longer have contact with my parents, siblings or my children. I am a pariah and I abhor any holidays that celebrate family. I am alone, scared, and tired of telling the truth. Maybe I am better off for following the crowd, not shaking things up…but then I wouldn’t be who I am. I am trying to have courage to stay strong for those who may be in the same situation.

I may be alone, but free.


I’d like to believe, or hope, perhaps, that all the things I now know to be real could be explained, but that’s a dream. My father remains emotionally unavailable. He married my wicked witch of the west as he thought she would be a good mother to my motherless self and brother. He admits he was wrong. It doesn’t make up for years of invisible, for being punished for having feelings, for being bullied, broken and kicked to the curb.
If I could turn time back. But I can’t. I’d like to have had a normal childhood, one where I felt heard, valuable, needed, wanted, loved. But I didn’t. I watched my siblings and step siblings have what I knew I needed too. But stepmomster couldn’t control me, I would not bend to being beaten. So she shut me me out emotionally. She gaslit her lies, her belittling, her hypocrisy. My father took her side. The night my step brother kicked me in the face and broke my nose, my father took my stepmother’s side, and I was punished for causing him to kick me.
I wasnt allowed to escape. We had different rules. Her kids were allowed to date, socialize and have friends. I was not, despite being the same age. Yet now I am deliberately excluded from most family gatherings.
Love is not pain. If love hurts it probably isn’t love. Love should add value, not take away. I get that. I find it so hard to trust, having learnt too young not to. It’s like being in permanent self defense mode, flight or fright.
All I want is happiness. Or a resonable generic version close enough to fake it credibly.


I can relate to this subject. My father used passive abusive actions and inactions when my mother was alive and it continued after she died. I thought I could win my father’s love and approval if I brought him into my home and cared for him. In hind sight I see how misguided I was. I was never going to be a worthy person to him. He lived near my sister and she would not take care of him. She even had the nerve to tell me that he would not let her and her husband take care him; which was a bald face lie when I heard him ask all of us for help after he became ill. When I perceived that our taking care of him did not make any difference in our relationship, I started telling him all the things that happened to me to make me feel that I did not matter. I became very angry at times. We kept taking care of him until he decided to move into assisted living near my sister’s home.

I was no contact with my sister for a year before my father left. My sister and I had a rocky relationship for years. The final blow that made me decide to go NC was when she and her family were visiting us. She verbally abused me for no reason at my home. My father witnessed the exchanged and began to walk away from us. Typical. I called to him: “Dad say something.” He said, “I think you both are wrong.” That was the beginning of the end for me. There it was: the invalidated stamp slapped across my face. I was giving up on him.

I too had to let go of the fantasy that my father loves me. He still tries to contact me occasionally. Even before he lived with us I did a little test. Instead of me calling him, I waited until he called me. Four months went by before he gave me a call. When I brought this up to him while he was living with us he just said, ” I was thinking about you.” How nice of him.

This is very painful for me, but I think I am working through it. I know none of this is my fault. I tried too hard to make him care for me. I thank all of you who share your stories here. Thanks for reading my story.


Hi Robin
Welcome to EFB ~ I am so sorry that this happens! You are certainly not alone here! We are a community healing from this type of family rejection. I no longer hurt from it, there is hope! I had to heal and really learn to love myself and sooth my own pain before I was really strong. Please share often.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Kaycee
Don’t give up! I thought the whole world was against me too (including God) but it was in realizing what I had been taught about how I could ‘get approval’ including how I could get it from God that I realized I was SET up to fail.
I love the writing a letter to a parent exercise. I use it with my clients all the time and it is very powerful. I am sorry that the computer axed yours, but at least you did it! The doing it is the powerful part! Hang in here Kaycee!
hugs, Darlene


My father was in the military so while I was growing up he was never there. When he retired he and my mother fought constantly.The fights were horrible, so much screaming,throwing things at walls.My father would take the checkbook and car keys away from my mother and then they would completely and utterly ignore each other for days,weeks and months.My mother would tell me how much she hated him and he would do the same.They’ve had separate bedrooms for more than fifty years. Yet when my “mother” was fighting with me and making fun of me,blaming for all the problems,they came together and put on a united front. It was so confusing,I never understood until I read this article.

Thank you!


My dad didn’t get the chance to let me down in my childhood, because my mother left him before I was born. (I met him when I was 17 y/o.) Then came the series of abusive step-fathers with my last one being the worst. My mom actually stayed married to the guy for 40 years, but he was never my dad. He hardly ever spoke to me in all of those years, even if I spoke to him. My mom didn’t have a problem with his passive abuse. She just tried to explain it away with, “He is just a quiet man”! He was an abusive jerk!


My mother died when I was three and my father remarried the next year. She was 19 when they met at work and then 20 yrs old when they married. She legally adopted my brother and me for some reason. By the time she was 23, there were two new brothers and that is when my father truly turned away from me. Everything became how to please her. I heard “Doesnt your mother deserve to have this?” whenever some large purchase was made, or a trip was planned. My dad began physically abusing me and emotionally abusing me, along with neglecting me. He became even more passive about everything that she would do to me as the years went by. She rejected me from the time her first child was born and seemed to make certain that I was in trouble with my father frequently. He didnt disappoint her in yelling, and hitting and “punishing” me. He called me names and “teased” me about my looks off and on. There was other horrible violence in the home directed at my older brother. I tried everything I could to please him and when she would emasculate him and yell and scream at him to get her own way and to keep everything focused on her, I used to feel so sorry for him and try to help him . I would listen to him and try to cheer him up. I was scared of him in some ways, so I never tried to hug or touch him, but I did try to help in other little girl ways. He never noticed. He was so emotionally unavailable that I was always chasing down some fantasy and I think I pretended at certain points that we were closer than what we actually were. We actually werent close at all. I spent most of my life chasing down a fantasy and hoping that he would change and notice me and like me. I never felt liked or good enough .I even put aside and tried to be more understanding about the physical, mental and emotional abuses and neglect. I continually let him off the hook for being responsible. One day I quit. I realized that my father was never going to go against his wife and have the relationship I always sensed we might be able to have. He had made his choices to always cater and please her, and that included favoring her children over me. It was extremely painful when I made the choice to cut him out of my life for good, but I could not and would not be played like that anymore. I decided I had suffered enough and it was time to begin to heal. I do not regret that decision at all and find it a relief. I feel totally free today and it doesnt bother me at all that he is growing older without me and will die without me. I can truly say that it is a relief that I am not burdened with that! This was the first year when I didnt even remember my father on the actual day of Fathers Day. I was only thinking of my husband and daughter and it surprised me later that I hadnt even thought of my father! Maybe I am beginning to forgive more and more?


My mom was all about “family family family.” I didn’t understand the concept. All I saw was, “obligation obligation obligation.” To this day, that is what “family” is to me: OB-LI-GA-TION

Translation: “you were born in a family, thusly you are required/obligated to…..”

I once dated a guy who was “pure.” Every thought and action was “pure.” He lived 1500 miles from his parents. He said, “Sometimes I go for Christmas, sometimes I don’t.” What? You mean it’s actually OPTIONAL????? I met his family, all of them were “pure.” No double meanings in anything they said. No need for a “universal decoder book.”

What a shock! I wish I could have loved him back they way he loved me, but I couldn’t. I’m still warped by the “love = obligation” thing. That’s why I decided no more romantic relationships.

By the way, I finally told my family a few years ago that I despise Christmas and refuse to celebrate it anymore (no presents). They were shocked, but they have accepted it. I find that spending Christmas by myself is peaceful. No drama!

Or, I sometimes get together with a good friend, but only one, I don’t do a “family” or “party” thing.


I love the writing a letter to a parent exercise. I use it with my clients all the time and it is very powerful.

I sent mine to my mom. It’s the only way she would believe what I said. If I say it verbally, she poo poo’s me, because there is no “record” of what I say verbally (unless I get out a tape recorder, and then there is a whole new issue as I found out Mom is afraid of tape recorders!). But if I put it in writing, she believes me as now there is a “record.” Of course, she hates that there is a “record.” And I’m better at writing than she is!


DXS, to my mother, family was obligation. But not for everyone. My brothers were exempted a lot. They were ” living their lives” according to my mother and she didn’t want to bother them. Meanwhile, I was the only one of her three children that had my own children to care for and one is special needs. And I had a job too. But she expected that because I am the daughter, even though I had way more burdens than my brothers, Zi should be flying out to help her long distance. I had obligations as a child too. More chores than my two brothers combined. I did all the cooking fron Junior High on because my mother was working and didn’t want to be bothered when she came home. And she hated to iron. And to do bathrooms so she pushed all these jobs off to guess who??

Even more important, the obligation went just one way, as did respect and many other things. I was expected to be obligated to her, to love and respect her but none if this was returned during my childhood or adulthood. Not once did she ever offer to help out with my special needs daughter so I could get a break. But a few years later when she was older, she had no problem asking me to fly 3000 miles every six months to take her to doctor appts that she could easily be transported to from her assisted living place. She also tried to borrow money from me that was set aside in a college fund for my son. The reason she needed money? Because according to her my stepfather ” doesn’t like to work”. So while he sits home doing nothing I was expected to ante up my sons college fund, which would of course never be paid back. I said “NO” and she tossed me out of her life for three years. Guess I was OBLIGATED to work and support them, because he doesn’t enjoy getting up early to have to go to some job he wouldn’t enjoy.

I think she got some kind out sick pleasure from seeing me overburdened and dancing around in circles. She used to love telling relatives that ” it’s all on Amber”, as she sat back and did nothing. So selfish and one- sided.


FinallyFree, I am sorry you had to go through all of that. You deserved so much better. I know it’s painful to face that we didn’t have the love that we should have had as kids. It’s good we have this community to talk about these things and know we are not alone. Wishing you continued healing. Hugs, Amber

marquis (female)
June 18th, 2014 at 8:48 am

Reply #48,

My parents kept using the family bs as a scapegoat/excuse always gotta look good for the public. This reminds me growing up, family meant being a slave/maidservant, false definition of “family obligation,” only one side is dominant over the other, etc which I told people felt like serving a life long sentence and the only crime they claimed you committed is trying to be yourself, calling out their bad behaviors, everything being one sided, us being called selfish, etc yep feels like serving a lifelong sentence!

“she poo poo’s me, because there is no “record” of what I say verbally (unless I get out a tape recorder, and then there is a whole new issue as I found out Mom is afraid of tape recorders!). But if I put it in writing, she believes me as now there is a “record.” Of course, she hates that there is a “record.””

Ha! My sister has tape recorder my mom, played it back for her and my mom said that isn’t me your trying to sound like me or one of your friends is playing me. lol My sister said really? you’re the only one in the house and my friends aren’t even here, how are they trying to portray you? I was told the same thing don’t have proof verbally as to what she says, yea I do, may not be a recorder. A recorder did nothing since she denied it anyway wouldn’t work in court.

I have paraphrased everything she has said to me, where’s your proof? I said where’s your? Then she said see, I never said that. I said what a cowardly way to get out of the argument and she screamed like there was no tomorrow. She argues very poorly, for an habitual liar, you’d think she would lie great but she lies great in public!


Wow. My daughter asked me in a phone conversation about a year ago….why I gave my Dad a pass, but my Mom got all the blame? She continued with “HE was there. HE allowed it to happen. HE could have been the only person to stop her, but he did nothing! So why does he get a pass from you??” I was speechless. I had no answer for her. I had to really think about that. It took more than a few days for me to answer her.
HE adopted all four of us. We were told our Bio Dad didn’t want us anymore, so he gave us away, and we had a new Dad now. I was 6. HE was the banker. HE gave us a big home to live in. Nice clothes to wear. We were taught to put him on a pedestal, and there he stayed for decades. He watched and did nothing to help us. HE could have used his position as the head of the household, to take control and tell her she would not treat us this way. He did not. Looking back, he was not involved in our lives. He never encouraged us, or supported us emotionally or mentally. As long as our clothes looked good, we had good table manners, and the cops didn’t bring us home, the 3 of us were on our own. Literally. The Golden child got it all.

When he was away from our mother, he would say she was wrong. She was too hard, he didn’t agree with her. BUT, she was the boss so he had to go along. ?? How could a man watch what she did to us, emotionally, mentally and physically, and say NOTHING. We were his CHILDREN. Hmmm…a lot of painstaking searching, and reality hit me. HE came crashing down from that pedestal in a hurry.

When I called my daughter back and tried to explain…why I thought I had given him a pass, b/c he adopted us, we were trained to keep him on the pedestal. I thanked her for asking the question b/c it made me face the truth. Even though I had kept my children at a distance, they got just a taste of their cruelness. My 25 yr old daughter then announced “He gets no pass from me! And neither does she. I am done with them, and you should be too. You do NOT deserve the way they have treated you Mom!” The support and guidance of my own children, who are now adults, has been the biggest aid in me being able to move on, without my parents in our lives. Pedestal free. 🙂


Amber, your mother seems very self-serving! I feel so sorry that you had that kind of bondage to grow up in. To make a chid become a servant-type is very cruel. It robs a childhood away, and I totally feel for you. I really was surprised that your mother had the nerve to treat you the way she did and offer no help…and then turn around and expect you to give her money from your hard-earned college fund for your child! That is so weird~! xoxoxo

Connie, I wonder if it was actually 100% true about your bio dad…or did your mother create a situation where he wasnt allowed into your lives? I am so sorry that you suffered his loss that way from your life and then ended up with an adopted father who was so passive and uninvolved and allowed your mother to abuse you! I am so glad that you are pedestal free!!! I try to have compassion on people, but when I hear of parents/adults abusing or watching the abuse and enabling the abuse, I lose the compassion! My family was the country club type…everything needed to look great on the outside and in public. The manners had to be perfect….then you get into our house and the abuse and neglect was crazy! My heart goes out to you. xoxoxo


Andria, I send you hugs and comfort for the things you have endured with your father and sister…and for the loss of your mother. Even though it is healing to lose the toxic people in our lives, it certainly isnt easy and there is a lot of pain to get to that point! Your story made me realize some things. You and your sister ended up having such a rocky relationship, and it ocurred to me again how the things parents do or dont do to their children can either positively foster or set up siblings to grow apart and dislike each other, not trust each other, and end up never being able to have a decent relationship with each other. I grew up with an older brother and we adored each other and tried to help each other, but the abuses and neglect and the way the parents tried to play us against each other seemed to make my brother distrust me and unable to connect with me once we were adults. He was so badly abused that I still believe today that he had to cut off everyone…even me…because I reminded him of the times that were so crazy and painful. He started seeing everyone as though they were out to get him and became paranoid. He was also very depressed. I am not a shrink, but it has seemed to me that my parents got their wish…that we werent close anymore. I no longer see him because he started in on me with head games and trying to twist what I would say and he actually treated my daughter in a similar way that my father treated us. That was it for me. So we had our times of trying to be close as adults…and then he would cut me off. Then I ended up cutting him off because I decided I wasnt going to allow him to treat me or my daughter like my father used to. I appreciate that you shared your story…it really has made me think and understand things on a whole different level! xoxoxo



Thank you so much for your response. I knew that my sister and I would not have a relationship after Dad died, but I did not think I would have gone NC with both of them like I did. My sister is the golden child, but she is an abusive person with everyone in her life as far as I can see. But my father threw me under the bus to have a relationship with my sister.

I never had equal value to my sister in my parents eyes. I don’t know if this was a problem with your relationship with your brother. I understand having the final moment when you decide that you won’t be treated like this anymore. It sounds like your brother learned some behaviors from your father. My sister has some behaviors learned from our mother. I knew that my mother was not a nice person. I thought my father was a good guy, but he had enabled my mother with her nastiness. So that makes him just as bad as my mother. I’m glad that my story shed some light on your situation.

Hugs, Andria


Not once did she ever offer to help out with my special needs daughter so I could get a break.

Oh my. My siblings, who both had children, had similar issues. It was this “circle of not intersecting.”

My mom wanted to be “asked” to help or babysit.


My siblings thought she should “offer” to help.

Although the above issues from my siblings weren’t as bad off as your issues, I feel your pain! WOW!


We were taught to put him on a pedestal

Oh my. My mom once said to me, “You had your parents on a pedestal and you thought we were perfect.”

HUH? I never put them on a pedestal. SHE is the one who wanted to be there.


DXS it was actually a lot worse than just not offering to babysit. My mother showed no interest in her grandchildren. She lived far away, but even while she was healthy and able to travel she had no interest. I’ve seen other grandparents fly long distance to visit their grand kids and also stay with them so a Mom and Dad could have a mini vacation. There’s more. She also could have called them. She didn’t. She wasn’t interested in their graduations or any other accomplishments or even knowing what their interests were, their likes and dislikes or anything about them. If she called me she wouldn’t ask to speak to them or even ask about them. She was into interested. . Why? Maybe because to her they were an extension of me? And I was only good for what I could do for her. Children couldn’t do for her, so I guess they were of no use. Sad. My son felt nothing when she passed. He said she never showed an interest in him so her passing barely registered with him. And I understand completely and respect how he feels. She was a grandmother in name only.


We as siblings thought we were alone. We thought it was us. We felt unlovable. When you are told you “Dad” didn’t want you anymore it rocks you to your core. Who would want us? We were made to believe we were so lucky, to have a new Dad that wanted us. I look back now as a Mom, and I feel so sad for those children. Me and my two siblings. Who does that to a child at 6, 7, 8, 9 and on and on? But who does that to their own child?
One thing I have learned on this journey is we were not alone. Reading your comments, your own stories, there is a connection. Each different in their own way, but all alike in the patterns. The cruelty. The shunning. The chaotic mental game to keep children frozen in fear. Confused. Feeling unloved and unwanted but somehow that was our fault. We are all the same, out parents just had different names. It is amazing to me. It has opened my eyes and my heart. We are not alone. Hugs to you all…..we are not alone.

Grandchildren: Whatever grandchild was there, had to hear about the other grandchildren’s accomplishments. To keep the wedge between the grandchildren. One grand daughter a dancer. The other an athlete. My daughter was the athlete. My parents never saw her play, even in Varsity. We live in the same town, her picture with her accomplishments and awards in the newspaper all the time. While other teammates who sat on the bench, had grandparents at every game home and away, in a wheelchair. My parents couldn’t be bothered to watch their record breaking, All-Star granddaughter, who was an honor student. It hurt my daughter, she felt no matter what she did, she was not good enough for them. I explained to her, it was not her, it was b/c she was my child, the black sheep, the scapegoat. She should never feel not good enough, they are broken people. We were always there, so proud of her, and all her accomplishments in her life! She went on to college, she has a Biology and Chemistry degree. My parents called when it was time for her to graduate, they wanted to go, they were so proud of her. ~cringe~ She got them a ticket. College, on the other side of the State. Made the trip, the day of graduation, my mother’s leg hurt, she was sure she a blood clot. I calmly told her we would take Dad with us, (it would not ruin our day.) She said…Dad did not want to leave her, what if the blood clot moved? I said “Are you kidding me?? You are both not going?” She went on and on …in her fake sick voice (why does your voice have to change b/c you have supposed pain in your leg?) It was ALLLL about her, I should feel sorry for her, she was going to miss graduation, b/c she had a self diagnosed blood clot in her leg, sniff…sniff. I took a deep breath calmed myself and said “ok. Whatever. I am not getting upset. NOTHING and no one will ruin this day for me, or my daughter. I have to go now.” And I happily watched my daughter graduate. Right after graduation…the blood clot had miraculously disappeared…my mother was ready to go eat, at the celebratory dinner we had planned at a restaurant! They told everyone back home, they went to their granddaughter’s college graduation. They left out the part that they sat in the motel, b/c one last time, they couldn’t watch my daughter succeed.
A pattern of a lifetime. It is them. Not us. I almost feel sorry for them.


Connie, I so relate with those situations with your parents regarding your daughter! They refused to make the choice to give her love and respect and honor for her accomplishments because to do so would somehow validate YOU. It is disgusting to me that adults are so childish and petty that they would deliberately try to damage and hurt their own family like that. The family patterns DO seem to last a lifetime until someone finally stands up and stops it….and then it seems the brave child who does so is the one who gets even more abuse heaped upon them for rocking the boat. You sound like such a caring and loving mother …and I think it is admirable that you pushed past all of the games your mother was playing with you and enjoyed your daughter’s special day and were happy. I think being happy drives them crazy because they are so chronically unhappy. No wonder your mother was able to make such a quick recovery since you were going to ignore her and move on without her and not allow her to drag you down. I think it is so wonderful that your daughter has accomplished so much…what a smart girl! She sounds absolutely amazing! I even feel proud of her just from reading this! 🙂


Connie ~
Awesome story about your daughters observation! It is amazing how kids think when they are empowered to do so!

I was treated differently than my brothers too and expected to do so much more as a servant. Breaking out of that mindset (belief that servant was my role and the only way I would ever find love and acceptance) was HUGE for me in my journey to freedom!

The comments in this thread are awesome! I wish I could reply to each one of you ~ I have been trying to finish my first e-book of EFB ~ I hope it will be available for download in July so I have been extra busy.

Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene for your response. I did assert myself with my mother about flying in every six months 3000 miles to take her to her doctor appts. I worked something out which included both of my brothers participating too, so we rotated who would visit and help out. My brothers were both agreeable and cooperative, which I really appreciated. The only one who didn’t seem too happy was my mother because she loved to try to get me to dance on tables for her and she loved the burdens being “all on Amber”. I think she felt she got out maneuvered, but I look at it that I was asserting my rights and not bearing more of the burden than I should have been. And that felt good!

I am very very excited to hear about your upcoming ebook! Congratulations and I can’t wait to read it! Keep up the great work. You are helping so many!


Good luck with your e-book Darlene.

On the subject of being the servant in the family, I was making a six hour drive to help my father many times the first year he became ill. My sister and her family lived two miles from his house in the same town and I had to do the work that he thought she was going to do because he moved to be close to her.

One day when I arrived at his home after the long drive and then dealing with Chicago traffic; he made a request before I could even have the chance to unwind. His bed sheets had not been washed in a month. I asked him why didn’t you ask Tracy(my sister) to do it? He did not answer me, but I knew the answer…he didn’t want to bother her. His laundry was in the basement and he had trouble using the stairs because he was weak. That day when I called my husband at home he said, “invite him to live with us.” So I did and he moved in with us. That was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my father. In the end he stayed five years, but never trusted us. I don’t know why he did not trust us. When asked he said he trusted us, but all his actions showed he did not trust us. When he left I told him I probably won’t see you again. He didn’t say anything: as usual.


Ah the obligation to present “as a family” in all circumstances. Also “If you are a part of this family you will XYZ” or “If you want to be a part of this family you will XYZ”. I didn’t get those things that they wanted me to do to ensure I was a part of them, or rather I guess I did get them and just decided that I didn’t in fact want to “be a part of this family” or consider that I was. So I felt very much outside of the rest of them and that feeling hasn’t really ended. I did feel kinship with my father because I figured I shared certain traits with him.


Alice, I relate to every word you said except about kinship with father. I felt nothing with my father. I felt like my mom was trying to present this “family” picture to the world and my dad was just a dad for kodak moments.

Oh, in your “did or didn’t get” stuff in the Obligation to do XYZ because of the family, you left out this:

“I got those things but decided I didn’t agree with the requirement to do those things but didn’t realize I would be ostracized…..”


Hey Darlene,
This is the most poignant statement that I have ever read in my life:
“Today I feel sorry for my mother because she was a victim, but I don’t feel sorry for her at MY expense anymore. She did just as much damage as my father did. Today I also live in freedom from all of it. I know that I am worthy of so much more than they ever offered me.”

In my mother’s case, I always blamed her family of origin for her inability to love and nurture me. And, knowing about my grandfather and grandmother’s childhoods, I could see how their upbringing affected their ability to parent.

In my intellectualizing and understanding for them all, I was rationalizing away her inability to be a good parent to me. I was lost in all of my understanding and compassion for them.

Now, they are all dead, and I am taking apart that rationalizing away my neglect and abuse. I am doing my internal work and learning to have love, understanding, and compassion for me!

Thanks Darlene,


I am in emotional pain (like most of us here). Siblings and parents do egregious things, then lie about it, and this compromises my relationships with my beloved nieces and nephews. I feel like I am living a lie. In order to have relationships with my nieces and nephews, I have to “fake it” with their parents or grandparents and play an avoidance dance, or socialize and smile and chit-chat. Anger and hurt not allowed, and if I were to dare, I would probably get no response or “forgive and forget”. If I tell my nieces and nephews the truth, I put them in the middle. Even though they are all young adults now, telling them the truth feels risky…I would imagine they would be loyal to their parent.

Living a lie is so exhausting.

Secrets and lies and silence. That has become my world with my FOO.

Maybe I’m just trying way too hard with everyone. Letting go is tough because I have so few support people.

What do you do – do you tell the truth? Let go? Fake it?


Light, my mom keeps “saying” to “tell the truth, tell what you feel” but when you do, you catch hell for it. She never means what she says, she never says what she means. I’m getting tired of the lies and the “appearance” thing.

I was watching “Ghost Whisperer” today. I have never seen this show. On this episode, apparently Ghost Whisperer lady had a son with similar “super powers.” I like what she did.

“I know I’m asking you to lie, and lying is a bad thing, but you cannot tell people about these super powers because people will exploit you for the wrong reasons.”

It’s like, AHA! I wish my family would do the same thing. “I know I’m asking you to lie and fake it, but we have this need to appear like everything is fine and that we are an X type of family so we need you to lie and pretend.”

But NOOOOOO!!!! We are right, you are wrong for not going along with the “picture” we need to present to the whole world.

Once in awhile, I watch the syndicated reruns of the show “Til Death” (with Brad Garrett). My goodness, the wife on that show fakes everything! She gives compliments in order to get them! What a joke!

I watch those kinds of shows to reinforce the “lies” in my life.

marquis (female)
June 20th, 2014 at 11:57 pm

“Light, my mom keeps “saying” to “tell the truth, tell what you feel” but when you do, you catch hell for it. She never means what she says, she never says what she means. I’m getting tired of the lies and the “appearance” thing.”

Agreed just like my parents always flip flopping, contemplating, mind games, etc. People out there have told me parents don’t have to mean what they say and say what they mean. I said omg!! That is so contradicting and hypocritical it isn’t even funny!


DXS, your post was interesting when you mentioned “Alice, I relate to every word you said except about kinship with father. I felt nothing with my father. I felt like my mom was trying to present this “family” picture to the world and my dad was just a dad for kodak moments.”

My dad himself upheld this “family” ideal and also berated and punished me for not wanting to be “part of the family”.

When you said “Oh, in your “did or didn’t get” stuff in the Obligation to do XYZ because of the family, you left out this:

“I got those things but decided I didn’t agree with the requirement to do those things but didn’t realize I would be ostracized…..””

I really thought I had done the setting apart myself. I hadn’t thought about being ostracized by them. But mom was so good at convincing me everything was my own “choice” that I can’t be clear on whether it actually was my choice (it feels like it was) or not.

– See more at: http://emergingfrombroken.com/when-dad-enables-mom-in-emotionally-abusive-family-relationships/#sthash.nToiFhSy.dpuf


I hope you didn’t take that as a criticism. It’s just another “angle” I came up with.

And you are right about not knowing if you actually “chose” it or not. I have wondered about choices I made.


DXS, no I didn’t take it as criticism at all. I took it as an invitation to look at it differently. So the truth is that I often didn’t know what was true in any given situation with my family. And often that carries forward, or onward into my current life. And that’s the thing I hate them (my family) the most for, was for corrupting my relationship with the true. That’s why I wanted bruises. So the truth would be visible.



Yes, the truth can be so invisible and be discounted in so many ways by so many people. Family is given a “pass” a lot of times. Once you get tired of giving family their free pass just because they are related to you it is a turning point in your life. I knew the truth, but then I started to live the truth. I could no longer pretend or ignore that they hurt me. Even if there were no bruises visible.

marquis (female)
June 21st, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Quoting from Andria. “Alice, Yes, the truth can be so invisible and be discounted in so many ways by so many people. Family is given a “pass” a lot of times. Once you get tired of giving family their free pass just because they are related to you it is a turning point in your life. I knew the truth, but then I started to live the truth. I could no longer pretend or ignore that they hurt me. Even if there were no bruises visible.”

Agreed. I have seen and heard stories of family given a pass for a lot of things and relatives turning the other cheek! When I bring this up to people, the amount of name calling and accusations I get from them. I told a lot of people ‘I don’t see much fairness in families at all and if there were a lot of fairness; then, we wouldn’t have all of these family related issues.’ Nobody wanted to hear that! When I spoke the truth, it was discounted in so many ways you wouldn’t believe and always told people ‘you are entitled to your own opinions but never your own facts!’ Which is why my ex-therapist got really huffy when I said that towards her and proceeded to cut me off!


Andria, once I stopped giving them a free pass they turned against me. My requests for mutual respect were met with refusal and accusations. It’s as if I didn’t for some reason “deserve” to be respected as a person. A “know your place” kind of thing.

And I had to do the same in some of my “adult” relationships too and some of those also ended as a result. For a couple of years it was sheer hell and I often felt so alone. So many people liked the compliant, serviable me but not when I stood up for myself.

Marquis, I think the idea that families are “fair” is one of the more pernicious ones out there. And people will fight you for it. And then people are surprised that the “world” isn’t fair but the surprise only works if you believe the family has fairness as its root.


I would like to draw your attention to the newest post “Emerging from Broken Book News and my Birthday Wishes” ~ My first book is almost ready to published as a downloadable e-book! The details are in this new post, but I am asking everyone here to post about a difference this site has made in your life or the impact that my work has had on you to include in the book. http://emergingfrombroken.com/emerging-from-broken-book-news-and-my-birthday-wishes/ I hope that you will consider helping me out with this!
hugs, Darlene


Amber, I am sorry about your mother not having any interest in your children and their lives. I have three kids of my own and I went thru the same thing. I would try to tell her about their achievements in school and in their other activities and she always seemed uninterested. I stopped asking her to join us when they had recitals or concerts or games, etc. Our last confrontation in August 2013 had partly to do with my youngest daughter. My daughter and I went over to wish her. Happy. BDay and bring her a lovely gift. The week before I had invited her to a festival,that my daughter and her cousins would be performing at. She said that it depended on if she was going to her cottage or not.
I Took a breath and said nothing. That weekend came and no word from my mother. I figured she was at the cottage which was fine with me. I wouldn’t have been surprised. I found out the day of her birthday that she was at my brothers house. I was not happy but I left it. She knew she was in the wrong and suddenly got her back up and told me that I should have called her….that was the last straw for me. I lost it. I left and haven’t seen her since. The year before that I invited her to my daughters BDay party and refused because me brother was there but the next day she went to visit him and his family instead of coming to my house to see my daughter! Another fight. You are not alone.


Nadia, thanks for your understanding. I’m sorry that you too have experienced a mother that is uninterested in her grandchildren. What concerned me the most was that my children would look at it as being their fault rather than a problem with my mother. I made sure that it was understood that it was my mothers flawed personality that was behind her lack of interest and not at all the fault of my children. Well, she missed out on a lot of good stuff by not being a part of their lives. But what’s especially pathetic is that she never would understand what she missed because she knows nothing except dysfunctional ways of relating to people. She knows nothing “normal”

marquis (female)
June 22nd, 2014 at 11:11 pm


Agreed. As long as you believe in the bullshit hype, things work out just fine! Sad how people out there will believe anything then try to make you think you’re in the wrong.

marquis (female)
June 23rd, 2014 at 12:00 am

“But what’s especially pathetic is that she never would understand what she missed because she knows nothing except dysfunctional ways of relating to people. She knows nothing “normal” ”

Agreed. My ex-therapist said your mom, both parents, just know dysfunctional ways and the way how she said it was like I was suppose to give them a pass or to forgive and forget – that’s how her tone of voice came across to me. Like I told people, when they were younger, they had plenty of time to make it right and at their elderly age; they are not going to make it right or change.


marquis and Alice,

I appreciate your comments. It is not like there was only one wrong done to us, so we could forgive and forget. It piled up over years until I felt I had to stick up for me. I also had friendships that ended because I was no longer going to take being treated badly by anyone.


Light, DXS, Alice, Andria, Marquis and all in the past few days, I’ve re-read many of your comments – Alice “I wanted bruises so the truth would be visible” – oh the pain I feel reading that – and about faking it or not – and about seeing the truth and living the truth……

I’m still trying to hang on to threads – the last vestiges of relationships – like sending birthday cards and expecting some reply, like sending emails with attachments on subjects that used to be of mutual interest, anything to keep some sort of contact – WHAT?!? These are the same people who have treated me with un-love and disrespect for so many years! (I still want them to change.)
I want it both ways, don’t I.
I thought my ‘mother’ was the only culprit, but now that I am “living the truth” and have stated my position to three or four other family members, the response is, uh, we agree, but, uh, we’re not going to deal with that. And their lives in LaLaLand go on. And I feel ostracized, and for awhile I felt that was my choice, but reading many of your comments above, I do realize that they had ostracized me a looong time ago, really. Did I want to maintain the illusion that I was in control? By believing I had separated myself from them by choice, I falsely believed I would be welcomed back any time?Apparently so, because I find that now I almost want to beg them for attention. Oh they would “accept” me if I went back to The Script.

And in the interest of “self-love and respect” I find myself fighting off the desire now to provoke NEGATIVE attention. Yep, and realizing another truth – negative attention is something I used to accept rather than have no attention at all.

In my 15th month on EFB, with your help, I’m somewhat succeeding in finding self-love and validation and self-respect, yet I’m still feeling SO HURT, realizing that “they” don’t give a rat’s a**.

Right now it’s about trying to maintain contact with my little grand-nieces/nephews, but not wanting to kiss up to their parents/grandpts (like you Light). I do not want to be without them in my life, but it’s happening. There is geographical distance, so it requires effort to maintain contact. But the truth is, the effort is not coming back to me.

But am I sad enough to get back to programmed behavior and “faking it?” No… sadly but gladly no. So many of you have gone through this phase of the process, and to read the success stories of those of you who have worked through all this gives me hope I can do it too.

I feel like I’m a rambling sad sack now, but I sure appreciate the validation and support that is offered here. 🙂 .


Yvonne – “I realized that my father could have ended the abuse.” Exactly my realization as well! Thanks for sharing your story.
Robin – I feel the same way because in speaking the truth I lost my family. The real truth is that I never had them to begin with. Like you said, going back to that isn’t who you are. Now you can live in truth although you are not with your family you are not alone in this.
Karina – “Love is not pain. If love hurts it probably isn’t love. Love should add value, not take away” – Exactly! This false definition of love is what kept me in the “matrix” for so long.
Andria – Thank you for sharing your story. I too can relate, as I’m sure many readers can. How sad that our fathers could not step up to the plate for us.
Diane – Thanks for sharing ?
Beth – Yes, passive abuse was something that took me a while to wrap my head around. I love this quote from Elie Wiesel -“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
FinallyFree – That’s so great that you were able to have a good Father’s Day this year and could focus on those who truly love you. Thanks for the share.
DXS – Exactly! I was taught the same thing. Family = Obligation. It wasn’t until I met my husband’s family that I realized family should equal love.
Amber – Yes! It’s a one way street with dysfunctional family.
Marquis – Yes, they love to deny what was said. That’s part of the crazy making!
Connie – Your children sound amazing! It is so great that you broke the cycle of abuse for them so that they could blossom into such wise and loving people who can now support you ?

Light – Yes, living a lie is exhausting. I don’t like living that way because it is so exhausting, as you say. If people can’t handle the truth then they aren’t serving our highest selves anyways. Coming out of the fog is rough and I’ve lost friendships and family members because of it. But the people who have come in place of them are loving and live in truth. I bet the same will happen for you. “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself” – St. Augstine.



You’re not a rambling sad sack. I am going through the same things that you are. It does hurt that people who you have deeply invested in don’t give a rat’s ass. You try so many things to get them to care. But in the end, one is still left holding an empty bag. I used to be okay with the empty bag…at least they gave me a bag! But no more. I can’t stand being treated badly anymore. I realized that I am not important to my family.


Catalina, I wanted people to see that there was something wrong. I wanted help. But because emotional abuse is intangible, no-one saw it. And the slaps didn’t leave bruises. When I wanted to talk about being mistreated by my mother, to be heard, so many people silenced me. I’m still anonymous on this website because I don’t wish it to be public knowledge. I fear the consequences of speaking out about emotional child abuse. I don’t want people to assume there’s something wrong with me.

I don’t think you’re a rambling sadsack either, what was done to so many of us by our families is the actual sad thing. I’ve said this before but I will talk about it as often and when I need to.


Thank you all for your responses.

Carrie, I loved your quote from St. Augustine. I want to copy it and save it.

Yes, it is so hard to be invested in people who don’t care, or only give a bit of attention if something extreme happens. With two of my siblings there is indifference. It’s like I’m not on the radar screen and they just don’t notice…it’s not that they’re mad at me. That’s a different kind of pain than the dysfunctional, painful back-and-forth conflict. I’m weary of going to family functions where I’m simply not noticed, no one takes an interest, etc. while other people get all of the attention, interest, laughter, inside jokes, etc.

While I don’t have an “alternate family” yet, I made some headway recently and it’s put me in a much better mood. I think this is key for me, to develop other loving, caring relationships.


Light (#87),
I’m totally with you – “weary of going to family functions,” with the laughter, inside jokes, nobody interested in your life, etc, and you (me) sitting over there watching….. I took myself out of those situations and don’t regret it. I too am trying to connect to new people, and yes it feels good. I wish our inflexible culture would get out of the 19th century and stop bombarding us with the “family is everything” cliche.


Family functions. What a joke. My mom’s “rationale:” “You have to go because ‘they’ want to see you.” Um, which “they” wants to see me? I went, and nobody said a word to me except for the obligatory niceties. Yeah, right. “They” wanted to see me. I think it’s more of my mom’s need to be seen with her children there because it scores points or something. I quit going. Also don’t regret it.

I think my mom doesn’t know herself. She only knows what she was “told” to feel, and thus tried to do that to me.


Carrie H:

I once dated a guy who couldn’t figure out why Christmas caused me the anxiety and the “want to get it over with” thing. He said, “Sometimes I go see my family at Christmas, sometimes I don’t.” What? You don’t have a requirement on your head? I met his family and saw real love. I didn’t know how to deal with it, and had to break up with the guy. Too bad.


Hi Alice,
I feel similarly. It’s also the idea that with emotional abuse, I’m supposed to know better than be hurt, as though it’s my body’s fault for allowing my skin to bruise, so to speak. It seems a kind of perversion of the idea of not being defined by other people’s actions. So if you’re still hurting from all the punches, something is wrong with you because you’re supposed to know better than let it get to you. It’s all that “it’s your choice” stuff… It’s just easier to tell the victim how she’s supposed to change than to expect anything different from the people doing the damage and benefitting off the victim’s mentality. The other thing… if I’m thrown across the room, I might suffer a concussion or I might get a broken arm, or I might only have some bruises but I’m so scared of what’s going to happen next that I have a heart attack and die or I don’t die but I live with panic attacks. Sometimes it seems like because there are different potential outcomes, the person who “threw you across the room” may take responsibility for the throwing (though of course you’re also supposed to “contextualize” the event, understand why they threw you across the room), but how you fall, what happens in the afterward, is entirely on you. This is nonsense. You do what you can and any way in which you can come out better than you could have is a merit to you and your survival.


DXS, right on about “They want to see you”. What my mother actually meant was “I would like to show you to them because it benefits me somehow”. I figured the people who did actually want to see me “for me” would be in touch outwith these “functions”. Of course none of them were. I still sometimes wonder why. And sometimes I think it really must be because I’m the “piece of work” my mother sometimes said I am.

Some people would say “But your mother was just proud of you, that’s why she wanted to show you off”.

But I’m not a thing to be shown off. My mother also told me she was “very proud of you” and I just replied “Why? You weren’t the person who accomplished any of it, I was.”
And oh she was pissed at that. At one point she even wanted to claim that the hardships I had been through with her (one of the rare times blanket denial wasn’t in operation) had made me the (successful) person I am (I’m very averagely successful, if that and I wonder about who I would have been had I not had this terrible upbringing)

My father did not do these things. But he didn’t stop her either.

marquis (female)
June 24th, 2014 at 11:55 am


That reminds me: my mom told me how the other relatives on her side of the family “wanted” to see me and every year she “promised” them she and I would go to the South to see them. The only thing they have seen are pictures of me that’s it and how come “they” didn’t make an effort to come visit/see me when we were in CA or now AZ?

I notice they don’t have an answer for that. I am sure their dumbass answer(s) are ‘well, your mother wouldn’t let it happen,’ or ‘she didn’t have the money,’ etc it’s always the money! I have spoken to a small of them on the phone and that’s it mom got all stupid that I didn’t have a full blown conversation with them. I said ‘I don’t know them, there’s no real relationship/bond with these people.’ She got irate when I said “these people,” sorry, but they are strangers to me!

28 yrs old and they still haven’t made an effort to send me a plane ticket or come to AZ to visit! So, who cares? Lots of people got irate with me about this and told them to screw off, a bunch of strangers no attempt for me why should I make the same, useless sacrifice? I got the usual ‘because they are your family,’ bullshit!


Alaina, what a fantastic way of explaining it. So clear. I’ve often taken issue with Mrs Roosevelt’s injunction that “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” and the many other similar versions of that statement that have spawned over time.

So here’s the problem, I DIDN’T consent to mistreatment or feeling the way I did when I was mistreated, I just felt the way I did and the result was that I was punished even more!
My mother used that “choice” line on me as a way of fucking with my perceptions of reality so she could get away with whatever suited her interests. I found out about this particularly nasty abuser’s technique only quite recently.
She also lied, minimized events, blamed everything and everyone else apart from herself, used rages and tears to avoid confrontation about what she’d done, repeatedly harassed me when I requested space, put me “bait and switch style” in front of another family abuser whom I had been refusing to see unless he apologized. And on and on it went. Until I couldn’t take it any more.


Ditto, Alice.

Helplessness is so unappealing to people. When you guys were talking earlier about being ostracized and questioning whose choice it was, for me, I know it wasn’t my choice. A choice between swallowing myself, complying, and suffering all the emotional damage as a result, or speaking up for myself and sticking to it until they change, isn’t much of a choice, and either way, both choices have me ostracized, emotionally speaking. When it comes to belonging, it’s arbitrary whether I’m actually in contact with the family or estranged—either way I can’t belong because they won’t allow my reality, they won’t allow my voice, or at least the consequences are so unpleasant it’s the same as not allowing. I have to be someone else; hence, they’ve ostracized ME. The only thing that would change this is the choices they could make.

A lot of these statements people make put it all on you to not be a victim as if it’s some terrible offence that we suffer as a result of other people’s actions… I remember being told that nobody “makes” me feel guilty. I do understand NOW that I don’t have to feel guilty for things that were not my responsibility but that also comes with necessary action that puts a stop to the behaviour that “made me feel that way.” And no one can tell me that it wasn’t my family’s intention to make me feel guilty and that through their words and actions they certainly did make me feel guilty, and without being equipped with the truth, how was I ever expected not to feel that way? That’s how they parented me. And beyond that, in order to reject that sentiment, I had to stand up to their behaviour, and when the very people who are telling me that no one can make me feel a certain way aren’t in full solidarity with the actions necessary to stand up to that behaviour, well then there’s something wrong. Situations come emotionally charged in some way, positive, negative. One of my aunts recognized that I felt betrayed but told me that I shouldn’t feel that way. It’s funny because I never actually said that I felt betrayed. If she could argue that I had my facts wrong to prove there wasn’t any kind of betrayal, then fair enough, but she was arguing my feelings simply because she didn’t want me to feel the way I felt.

marquis (female)
June 24th, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Very interesting about helplessness. Being helpless, it had me thinking how people treated me that “you have/had options,” and I grew up living with a lousy mom who was just helpless all of her life and I never knew where to turn and I still struggle with that. When in a abusive situation, the abuse dished out to you was not your choice but the abusers. Which is funny how people agreed to that and I was told when I was a kid, I could have ran away and would have been brought back home anyway. They told me to call CPS, I did and they were useless. I wanted to get emancipated, but found out later that the state of AZ doesn’t have that law but I knew CA did.

Nobody could ever understand how I was “parented” to be codependent and helpless not knowing how to be an adult. It’s like how do you want someone who was bred to be codependent for years be able to get up and fix xyz? It doesn’t happen and some people can get up and go fix abc!


Alaina, once again spot on! Most of my memories of being with my family are about how I “stuck out like a sore thumb” or just didn’t feel part of them. I can’t say when that started. And at a more general level now, I just don’t feel “like other people” or like I particularly fit in anywhere. I’m learning to feel more comfortable with this as it’s just a feeling. And at the very least I can feel comfortable in my own skin.

So when I did stand up to the abuse my mother said “Well that’s just your choice to see it that way” and that generally cut my standing up for myself short as I would end up in tears half begging for her to understand that my point of view WAS valid. Darlene’s suggestion to not seek validation from those who invalidate us (a MUCH better way of expressing things than Mrs Roosevelt ever came up with) has really been a lifesaver for me in this respect.

The few times I went to him with my difficulties with my mother or other family members my father would say “Get your facts straight” and I found that difficult because I didn’t understand the difference between facts and what I felt. As far as he was concerned my feeling was not a fact. But oh how confused this made me because “Your mother loves you and is doing the best she can” was simultaneously held up to me to be a fact. One that flew in the face of what I felt. The message was “Your feelings are invalid and baseless”. In other words they have no relationship or origin in reality. Because your mother loves you. So while this is somewhat sad (ok very sad) it has real world repercussions.

The repercussions are that to live in the real world one must untangle and differentiate all these things (facts, including the fact one feels a certain way, evaluations of the latter, what is actually true in any given situation and so on and so forth) and I have to say when my emotions are high it can still be very difficult to do. I’m still often at the point where the only things I can be sure about are in fact my feelings. And although this is a huge step forward I recognize it’s also extremely handicapping.



Darlene’s words, “not to seek validation from the people who invalidated us”, resonated with me as well. I understand trying to get your father to understand how you feel. I explained to my father for years how he made me feel and how my sister was treating me made me feel. Once he told me: “you can’t change how I think of things”. Well there it was. Total invalidation. He was never willing to see my side because of course my side did not matter.


Andria, right! Your father sounds very closed. I’d say more but I don’t want to make you feel insulted. I mean we must know that our words and actions have an effect on others otherwise why talk or act at all??

When I asked myself “Why?” “Why don’t I or my feelings matter?” The reasons I had understood from my parents, but especially my mother were “because you’re too much trouble, you’re needy, you’re dependent, you’re selfish, you only think of yourself, you’re noisy, you’re not easy to understand, you’re complicated, you feel the wrong way, you are wrong”.

What’s more likely to be the truth is just that their feelings mattered more to them than mine did. In fact I was specifically taught to care more about their and other people’s feelings than my own. Or even INSTEAD of my own.

I have nothing against teaching kids to care for others but why teach it to the exclusion of the child’s own feelings? I don’t understand how that happens.



Thanks for the comments. I am curious. What “more” did you want to say? I don’t think you would make me feel insulted. Perhaps it could help me.

I know why I didn’t matter. I did not tow my parent’s party line. I did things they didn’t like. The big thing they didn’t like was my husband. My mother told me back in 1981 that I was not going to marry him. I said back to her, “watch me”. We are still happily married to this day.

How I see it is that I have an extremely selfish family. It is all about them all the time. There was no room for me or mine.


Andria and Alice,
My whole life I seeked validation from people who invalidated me. My mother who treated me like I was some ugly, inferior being whose only use was what I could do to make everyone else’s life easier. Elementary school classmates who must have picked up on my low opinion of myself, which originated from invalidation at home, picked on me and bullied me. Boyfriends who were self centered and cared nothing about my feelings. A terrible boss who made up lies about me to make a case for letting me go. And neighborhood women who started arguments and then twisted the facts so that I could be blamed. Yes, these were my invalid actors and up until a year ago I kept going back like a puppy dog eager to please ( and give up my own sense of self at the same time) all of this in hopes that they would suddenly see what I nice person I am, and then they would validate me so all of the nasty things they did and said would then go away. Only it never happened. They continued to mistreat me and I continued to keep coming back. Hoping that the next time would be different. But it wasn’t to be.

The problem was that I didn’t know any other way to solve this. I wanted that validation so badly. Somehow even though I have friends and people who care about me, their validation could never make up for the invalidation I got from those others. Then came this entirely different way of looking at things. Emerging from broken. I could actually learn to validate myself! Wow, really?? There was a bit of hope. You mean my own voice could be heard? My thoughts and feelings could be important? All these decades it was so deeply entrenched that I don’t matter, and when people were mean, I’d be told to try to be understanding of them, or ignore them, or forgive them. This may have made THEM feel good, but I never questioned when my turn was gonna come. Oh yeah, I wasn’t supposed to have a turn. Until Emerging from Broken. A new hope was born where I actually mattered. And there was something called self validation. My voice was buried deep within me but it was there. I needed to get through a complicated maze to get it out. And it’s emerging. I stop and ask myself what I think now. What I feel. And I realize finally that those people are WRONG about me. I don’t go back like a puppy dog trying to please anymore. I am beginning to realize my value. And that I can validate myself. And what I learned from Darlene, if someone did something that invalidated me, where is it written that only they could re validate me? I can do that myself! I don’t need them for that. No more puppy dog!


Andria, comment 100, good for you for going for what you wanted and marrying your husband!! And I’m glad to hear you’ve had more than three decades of being happily married. 🙂 🙂


Andria, well, what came immediately to mind was that is was a very “childish” thing of him to say. But so many of these parents are, childish and immature. My mother certainly was. My father had a bit more maturity to him. My aunt was a nightmare child on stilts.

I wonder why your father doesn’t want to change his mind?

Amber, I’m right along with you with all of your post. I used to wonder “what is it about me that these people think they can do these things to me?”
And I think the main thing is that I wouldn’t avoid them or keep my distance at the first “suspect” thing they’d do.
I’m supposing people not brought up like this know when they’re looking at an abuser? Maybe they don’t and maybe people brought up by abusers do and are doing some kind of Freudian “repetition compulsion” although I think it’s more that if you have been abused you just don’t see them (abusers) the same way at first and that you will go back again and again for validation. I think I should add that abusers aren’t always abusing! Sometimes they’re being kind – which also screws with you. I mean I realized that I wasn’t recalling any good times I’d had with my mother or certain other family members because I figured “If I can recall good times then they (the family) wasn’t that bad”. So it was as if I was purposefully not recalling the good moments so that I could fully validate the bad stuff. In fact my mother used the “But we had some good times” as an argument for there not being any bad.
Anyway I can recall far more good moments with my father, maybe that’s why I let him relatively off the hook?
And some mothers (abusive or otherwise) might very well say that given the task of parenting involves lots of things your kid doesn’t enjoy but are “good for it” then it’s obvious that a kid will have negative feelings towards their mother more just because of that. That’s not what I’m referring to.


Alice, concerning the “what is it about me…..?”, I am paraphrasing something from one of Darlene’s articles that says that people can pick up on how you feel about yourself and treat you accordingly. I know she also said that when she healed and her self esteem was much higher, people rarely talked down to her. When I thought about this I realized that people detected that I felt bad about myself, and even beyond that, they realized that I would do almost anything to ” buy” a friend, and that when asked to do things for them ( non reciprocal of course) that I wasn’t gonna say no. I know Ive written in other places on here that I have noticed some little changes this past year in how people treat me, which I attribute to the healing I have done so far. So people must be seeing some changes in me and have made some alterations in the way they deal with me. I can easily contrast that with people I haven’t seen in years. People I knew from childhood , especially ones I haven’t seen in a while seem to expect the meek, compliant, always ready to be of service version of me to show up. I can’t wait to walk into m high school reunion at the end of July because I feel that I can handle the people that treated me rotten now.

Alice I think that however we were treated as kids at home became our ” normal”. We didn’t know that things were different in other peoples’ homes. So what was actually abuse was probably perceived as the norm, and we took those perceptions with us into the outside world. It was only when Zi started depending more time at my friends ‘ houses that I began to notice that things seemed different ( and better) in their homes.

I also agree that things were not always bad. If my mother was in a good mood, she could be fun and had a good sense of humor. But far more often her ” humor” was at my expense.


Alice, spell check mangled my last post. It should say ” it was only when I started spending..,,,,,” oh well, I think my intended meaning was still there! 🙂


Amber, great post, I got it. Yes I think I agree with all of it. Except there’s one thing. If I sense someone feels badly about themselves I don’t mistreat them, in fact I’ll go out of my way to try to help/care for them etc.
As for progress. I’ve got the “blank look” down if people try to start in on messing with me. And I will back off, take more time to respond if I feel they’re off to the races with me.


Alice I too am a great advocate for the people who feel badly about themselves. I get very protective. I remember being at a friends house recently and another guest was showing her sons wedding pictures to us. She starting raving about how beautiful one of the bridesmaids was. But then she turned mean and started saying that one of the other girls was too fat and looked terrible in her bridesmaid dress, should have lost weight etc. I didnt know anyone in the picture, but I got upset by this woman’s comments. I said I thought the girl looked fine and in fact was a pretty girl. Looking back now, I would have liked to have used one of Darlene’s questions: why are you saying those things about this girl? What is your motive? But I think I got my point across, because she stopped after I made my comments.

Alice it sounds like you are making good progress. Like Darlene says it’s a process and takes time. And we go through different stages to get there. But we can see as we hit different milestones. I always had a problem with freezing up when someone is nasty. I wouldn’t say anything at all. But I realized I could go back later on and respond once I “defrost” and have time to decide how to respond. So that is progress. I want to eventually be able to respond in real time, but I still tend to freeze. It’s a reaction to my mother being nasty. I had no choice but to freeze because I would get smacked, yelled at, or most likely both if I dared to say anything to her. So freezing was how I dealt with insults from a very early age.


Amber, great to hear of your progress too! Although I’ll say this, it’s not at all linear. And I sometimes still have trouble with the standing up part (even the blank face) because I feel that’s being mean to the other person.

But that’s yet another layer of discernment to go through. You know “Is it mean to not give other people what they want from me, even if I don’t really want to do what they want or I’m not happy with the way they’re asking?”

It makes me realize just how one-sided (in my family’s favor) things were. And I’ve been so used to one-sided relationships with others too. I mean to the point where if they did reciprocate I’d feel fear and wonder “wow, this means they can use that “after all I’ve done for you Alice” thing. Never mind what I’d done for them. In fact I’d feel stingy reminding them of anything I had done for them. And an upshot of that is that I will in turn overcompensate to avoid the obligation. It’s one of the reasons I love money as I feel (probably wrongly) that it removes these issues.

When it came to my mother, when I reminded her of the many things I had done for the family (care-giving especially) she flat-out said “You didn’t do anything” and some time later that became “But you wanted to do these things”. Geez, I did want to do them to PLEASE FFS. Why she couldn’t get her head (or heart) around that, I don’t know.

So my “compassion” is both self-serving and not. I’m working so it’s more of the latter than the former.


Thank you Alice and Amber. I am enjoying our conversation. Amber, thanks for the kind words about my marriage. Alice, yes I believe my father acted childish at times. He is passive aggressive and that is very hard to deal with. I read if you want something from a passive aggressive person get ready to wait for it or even never get it. My father most likely didn’t want to change his mind because then it would mean that he had been a giant dick for years. Plus it was always about my sister the “golden child”. She could talk and act nasty, but it didn’t matter my parents were always on her side. I thought that might change after my mother died, but it never did. Like Amber I was never suppose to have my turn.

So many things both of you wrote about relate to me. I would over do for friends. I wanted to make sure they would like me. The people that were all about them could take advantage of me. I was always of service to my family and my husband’s family. It did not make them like me or care for me.

I had some “good times” with family, but the bad out weighed the good. At any time, the other shoe could drop and the situation could turn ugly.


Andria, now I noticed that I said “very “childish” thing of him to say. But so many of these parents are, childish and immature. My mother certainly was. My father had a bit more maturity to him. My aunt was a nightmare child on stilts.” And you’ll notice that I’ve used the word “childish” to mean a few different and negative things.

“I was always of service to my family and my husband’s family. It did not make them like me or care for me.” I’ve noticed this too. It doesn’t bring any respect or like (aside from the “we like you doing things for us” kind)

And I oh so relate to “I had some “good times” with family, but the bad out weighed the good. At any time, the other shoe could drop and the situation could turn ugly.” My experience also. To the (now obvious) point that if I feel enjoyment or good about something there’s an “Oh no, this won’t last” or “This will be immediately followed by something bad” feeling as well.


Hi All:

Just trying to catch up with reading all the wonderful comments here.

Robin #40:

I totally understand how you feel being alone. I honestly have NO family to speak of. I am single and I live alone with no kids. You can’t believe the amount of discrimination that I get from unkind people. I love and accept where I am right now. In a way, I have been alone since the day I was born. My mother never wanted me to be born and my father only supported his wife. I have no brothers or sisters and my few good family members died years ago. Lucky for me that I’m kind of an introvert and keep myself entertained with many interesting hobbies. I do work and I’m seeking a better job this fall. I do not celebrate any holidays with my parents. The last time that I heard from my Narc. mom was Christmas and she explicitly told me NOT to come over to their big,luxury house (another town) to visit them since they were entertaining their rich friends. I was hoping to see my father for a bit since they both do not have much time left (age 80’s). I don’t know what to say only that you are not alone. There are so many adults with past child abuse issues like us. It’s weird how we had an abusive home with no real love involved and now we’re alone.

I know that I can turn my life around. It’s hard where I’m living since I must drive far to go to my spiritual groups (where most of my friends come from). I want to force myself to visit these groups in fall and have more friends and dating again. I don’t mind living alone and it’s quiet and peaceful in my house. The biggest issues that I have had to deal with are the nasty people who have called me terrible names and accused me of being a “weirdo” for being alone/lonely. It’s a tough world out there. I have heard that like half of all marriages end in divorce and there are way too many people in society with these borderline personality disorders. I take my time to choose my friends carefully and I like it that way. I am free and not abused.

Karina #41:

I sadly have no relationship with my father. I often wonder why he chose my Narc. mom over me. In his mind, it was all about defending his wife and not his daughter, me. I later learned that my Narc. mom had had a serious suicide attempt right after they were married (before I was born) and then right after I was born. My father had one of my mom’s relatives come live in the house as a nanny/maid for a few years. I later realized that if it were not for this lady that my own mother could have dropped me or killed me in an accident. I wish that this lady could have lived in our house as a permanent maid but she moved out when I was like four going on five years old. I also was not allowed to socialize with other teens growing up. I never went to a school dance or attend teen social activities at school. My father never cared how I felt or tried to act like a normal father. He only cared about his own selfish emotions and watching his TV set.

FinallyFree #47:

I think that my father learned some of the emotional abuse and physical abuse behaviors from my Narc. mother. He became like an accomplice with her. It was all about pleasing his wife and raising a daughter. I wonder if he ever felt at any time any real love for me. I remember that when I got older there was more verbal abuse towards me in all areas, academics, my looks, and just any little thing. The conversation was one sided since I was not allowed to defend myself. I would wonder why would any father be so mean to a daughter? I felt like nothing more than a maid and a prisoner in the house. I never felt loved or wanted. They both scared me. But my father was labelled as being, “such a nice man, kind man, quiet man”, by my parents’ social friends.

DXS #48:

I really don’t celebrate Christmas or Thanksgivings anymore. It’s all about extended family which I am not close to. I practice Celtic Paganism so I attend a Druid Yule holiday ritual. Then I do a small celebration at home and I’m very content.

Thank you everyone for your kindness and support. I have never been in such a safe space here like this site. Thanks Darlene.

Blessed Be,



My dad actually used to be the pillar between my relationship with my mother. He would sternly tell her to knock it off many times, he even threaten to leave her back in the day when I was 16…I’m 45 now. Regretfully my dad has alzheimers and not able to do that very often and gets lost in the mix. My mother treats him very poorly too, which to be honest, has helped at times between her and I, and I think, very sadly, that it is because she has another stomping post to concentrate on. I wish I had siblings, I wish I wasn’t the only child, and it’s difficult because I’m at the point that I don’t want anything to do with my mother if she can’t be respectful, yet I want to see and continue helping my dad while he still remembers me. The other thing that concerns me is her playing with my dad’s memories when it comes to me. He is very easily manipulated by her now, and he is afraid of her sharp tongue. My 16 year old son told me a few months ago that he is concerned and wonders if my mother hits him. I sure hope not, but fact is that she does loose control. I’m sorry that others of you have suffered with your dads. I’m fortunate that I had a dad there for me when a kid……when he heard her shaming me. He worked many hours, so at least he witnessed some very difficult times with her and would stop her. I miss who my dad used to be, and it hurts so bad that she can alter his memories of me and my relationship I always with him.


Alice and Amber-

Another thing for me was that I could never be myself around family. I felt if I showed my real self I would be put down for it. Around some family members I had to walk on egg shells. Say the wrong thing and get a verbal lashing. It was very difficult to handle.


Andria (comment113) exactly!! Yes, I did get put down for showing my real self and that’s how I learned to stuff my feelings, whether happy, sad, angry, fearful. And I molded into the compliant, serving, obedient, withdrawn person they wanted me to be. So what if I was hurting inside? As long a as I was doing what they wanted and I was useful to my mother, nothing else mattered. I wax the one who had to give things up so my mother could be happy.
Yes, Andria I completely understand having to walk on eggshells. My mother blew up over the littlest of things if she was in a bad mood, and that was pretty often. My father was a perfectionist, so making the tiniest mistake was subject to nasty criticism and sometimes days of the silent treatment. He would even run in from a different room and yell “play that again!!” if I played one wrong note on the piano. And he would angrily stand over me making me play it over and over, correctly of course. Took all of the joy out of piano playing and I quit after two years even though I love music and was advancing very quickly with my lessons.
And say the wrong thing? A slap across the face! My mother even did that to me publicly at a fair once, and that was because she didn’t like my expression on my face. I didn’t even have to say anything for that very public smack.
I hear you, Andria! We share a lot of similR experiences. I’m glad we can talk about it all on here.


Alice isn’t it amazing how quickly they forget all that we did for them? Maybe it’s because they feel entitled to our servitude, so it doesn’t count in their minds. But boy do they remember anything they did for us!


DXS, right on about “They want to see you”. What my mother actually meant was “I would like to show you to them because it benefits me somehow”.

Alice, you said it better than I did. I LOVE IT! “It benefits me somehow.”


Alaina, but when you “Stand up to them” somehow it’s still your fault. That’s my experience.


Why don’t I or my feelings matter?” The reasons I had understood from my parents, but especially my mother were “because you’re too much trouble, you’re needy, you’re dependent, you’re selfish, you only think of yourself, you’re noisy, you’re not easy to understand, you’re complicated, you feel the wrong way, you are wrong”

when I was a child, I felt “Foggy” but didn’t understand why. I am now thinking it was invalidation. I felt something “wasn’t right” but the whole time I was led to believe it was me. Let me add to the above list:

“you aren’t like the other children around here, we don’t know how to deal with this, we can’t handle it, we need you to be like other children so you will fit in and thus we will fit in…..”

If I lived in a big city, I’d be “average.” But for a small town, I was a bit “precocious.”



I’m sorry your father’s behavior led to you quitting the piano. I understand about having the “wrong” expression on your face. I don’t recall getting slapped for it, but was warned to wipe it off my face or I will wipe it off for you.

My mother would turn almost every comment you made about something or someone into a direct attack about her. It was very strange. So, before you said anything you ran it through your mind first to see if there was any way she could take it as a negative comment toward her. It was easier and less stressful not to say much in her presence.

I know my father and father-in-law thought they deserved to be taken care of just because they were our fathers. My mother and mother-in-law thought that too. I just didn’t have to do as much for them as they both passed away in their early 60’s.


In fact I was specifically taught to care more about their and other people’s feelings than my own. Or even INSTEAD of my own.

I kept getting the “Think of how other people might feel before you say things.” Yet, mom didn’t hold herself to this standard. I have asked her why. She just dodges the question. One of these days, I WILL get the answer (Law and Order SVU interrogation).


But far more often her ” humor” was at my expense.

“You shouldn’t be so sensitive, I like to tease….” Nope my mom is NOT a natural “teaser.” I had a cousin who was, but not my Mom. She wanted to THINK she was. Mom uses “teasing” to cover up something she is uncomfortable with. And she was uncomfortable a lot, because, I wasn’t a “normal” child according to the small town society.


Andria and Amber and DXS (and everyone really). Isn’t it something that we have so much in common with each other with respects to the way our parents treated us? To me this kind of points to things being “not personal” and more of a “cultural” thing although in practice, they are, very personal.

I also recall a few very public slaps in the face in stores where I was arguing with her about which shoes or what coat and I now think it very strange because in the shoe store, there was a clerk right there, a few feet away who didn’t do jack about me getting slapped (and crying) right there in his store. And the other store was a department store but I can’t imagine the place was empty.

So people around us must have accepted it I guess. Now why is that? I think it boils down to “That’s their kid (e.g. it belongs to them) so we can’t intervene.” And in fact I remember at primary school a friend of mine was being mistreated by her father and I told my parents but they didn’t do jack about it, saying “It’s none of our business”.

DXS, my mother doesn’t have a sense of humor because she can’t take a joke herself. So I’d get the “You’re too sensitive” schtick but if I doled it out (which I was pretty good at), oh boy.

And some parents (even today) would say “And that’s how it should be.” One-sided with the parents in power and the kids serving them (because they have to learn not to be selfish and to care for others).

And what I found even more crazy was that “in exchange” for doing the basic minimum to not kill us (roof over head, clothes, food) that we “owed” them for that. That we should be grateful. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my life, yet for most of it I believed it.

So we’re dealing with this “Do as I say and not as I do” – and how well does that work as an educational principle??


OMG……..got another email from my mother. I didn’t even read it; I only read the first line “what is wrong with you”, then I handed my computer over to my husband who read it and said it’s just really, really bad and he thinks she has some serious mental health issues, and for me not to read it. What I did was perhaps stupid, but I returned the email to her and typed “undeliverable” and added a bunch of made up codes. She isn’t technology inclined so perhaps she’ll think I blocked her.

Sucks; 4th of July is coming up and we’ve always met my parents for the fireworks. I hate for my dad to miss it and I hate to miss seeing him, but can’t be around my mom right now. I just feel so damn torn and with the latest crises with her, it leaves me helpless.

To think gang……here is the funny topper on the cake……I used to be a Social Worker! Thats my education, lol. Left the field when my husband had a major heart attack then suffered annoxia brain damage.


So we’re dealing with this “Do as I say and not as I do” – and how well does that work as an educational principle??

My mom actually thinks this is legitimate! I never thought it was. Oh, and the “Because” as a “justification.” I would ask “why” and get told, “Because.” Well, THAT is NOT an answer. I felt that I was entitled to a justification when I asked “why.” Finally I got mom to say, “sometimes I just didn’t have time to explain it.” Nope that’s euphemism for “I really don’t have a justification.” I was one of those “why” kids. I felt that I was entitled to a justification!


DXS, from the looks of things many people do think that “Do as I say and not as I do” is legitimate. But from what I’ve learned (from learning myself from experience with my family but also through researching this) is that children learn a great deal more by example. The words (be it “love”, “respect” or any really) get tacked on to the experience rather than the former.
So for example, what I was brought up to understand as “respect” was in fact from my family’s point of view “obedience” and so no wonder my family didn’t want to give me it when I asked for respect! No wonder they found it illegitimate and (ironically) “disrespectful”.
But “love” was a weird one. It had (has) different meanings depending on who is saying it. For a long while I didn’t even want to say the word as I felt it had been so corrupted.


For me, I “said the word” when I didn’t mean it. “Some guy has told me he loves me, thusly I’m obligated to say it back.” But I never meant it. That’s the corruption I got. And, when guys treated me in a way I didn’t want to be treated, I was labeled “crazy” and “imagining things.” Just like my family treated me. (I learned this off the baggage reclaim blog. You repeat in relationships what your family dynamics are.) But trying to change things, people don’t like you.


Alice (97),
Sorry, I’m catching up…
I think I can recognize my feelings now and I can figure out why I’m feeling them. I can analyze what’s going on. If I’m being triggered, if there’s some threat of rejection/anger/abandonment, etc., then I might be in trouble of having waves of crazy emotion that don’t fall in line with what I know intellectually. Those are the times when I will apologize when it’s the other person who owes me the apology (usually after I’ve gone after the apology, only to get anger in return)…. I think the hardest thing for me is validating the fact that my feelings are important enough to make decisions based upon them. I might assess a situation, realize it isn’t fair or right, see how it impacts my feelings, etc., but if it causes some kind of hoopla for other people, a big drama, as it invariably does when the nice, quiet, accommodating one speaks up against what others want, that’s when I’ll be at risk to swallow my tongue and wait and wait and wait until the moment never comes… The thing is when you stockpile all these moments that seem not enough to make a big deal out of it, eventually you have a pretty big deal. I’m starting to feel like I don’t want to deal with these kinds of people at all. It never works out well. If you can’t talk through the first “not that big of a deal” problem so that both people’s rights and feelings are being counted, then chances are pretty good that it’s all downhill from there.

I have pockets where I fit in, but generally I could relate to what you wrote about not feeling like other people. I feel that, too. But like you, I find I’m more comfortable with myself, too, and that’s a pretty big deal.

DXS (117),
Yes, my experience is almost completely that standing up for myself meant I was still wrong and needing to do something else to try to fix things… but that’s according to them. They can think I’m at fault. With my family, I stood up for myself and the past, etc. and said I’d only have a relationship with them if they would recognize the reality I put forward and take accountability for it. They didn’t. Why do it, then? For its own sake, I guess. For me. So I know and can leave it in their hands. So I don’t swallow my tongue so much. So I can be true to myself, even if, or especially if, no one else is going to be true to me.


Marquiz (96),
Yeah, I don’t understand the people who expect you to come out of these childhoods and just be able to encounter life and manoeuvre our way through as though there were no repercussions that affect our ability to do so. Depending on circumstances, you can end up with strengths in certain areas in contrast to serious weaknesses in other areas. That can be hard/frustrating when people are only looking superficially and missing the whole picture. We are essentially helpless as children—we’re dependent in every sense, to begin with at the very least—and if we haven’t been brought up well, taking in account what we need in order to achieve the inevitable aim of our separation and independence, then how exactly can we end up as fully functioning adults, without going back through it all to fix what was messed up? (which takes time, especially when we all spend so much time first fighting all the people who tell us we’re wrong, etc.)

marquis (female)
June 28th, 2014 at 6:34 pm


Agreed. My sister told me she and our brother had it all and were able to make it through life whereas they couldn’t understand where I was coming from. What you said is exactly what I told people for years, which in return, they said “I am making up excuses,” but none of us weren’t brought up right anyway.

I told ex-therapist “I remember now as I analyze these things into account, I knew I was bred to be codependent and totally use (that’s why people out there treat me like pure shit), I really don’t know my strengths/weaknesses, and really had nobody to be a role model for me. I mean, yea, I had siblings 18 and 14 years older than me who were working; one was in the Air Force back in the early 90s and the other one worked and went out with her friends. I was stuck in a house with my idiot parents fighting the battle myself, yea, my sister told them I should be able to do this or that, they told her how much of a whore she is (she’s not a whore/slut) and she is nothing but a liar called her every name in the book.” They hate my sister to a T yet everybody out there who I’ve encounter has really turned the other cheek when I told them that. They asked yet called me a liar, not to say mean things that aren’t true, etc.

I agree, fixing up these issues that should have been fixed a long time ago if other people would’ve stepped in and said something. Even my high school counselor told my parents on the phone that they needed family counseling, he told me that at school in his office at least he had one thing right! It’s been proven in the MHF, that these people don’t have the skills to be a functional adult then they contradict themselves too. Like you said “Yeah, I don’t understand the people who expect you to come out of these childhoods and just be able to encounter life and manoeuvre our way through as though there were no repercussions that affect our ability to do so.” At 18, 10 years ago, how was I suppose to know anything about independence and being self-sufficient when my “role models” were none of that?!? People, including siblings, told me I should have “figured it out myself.” Hmm, sounds like my parents’ attitudes!!

At age 28, I am still playing catch up with everybody out there who already have those skills. I’m trying to be fully functional not when I am still at home with the hostile environment, still saving money so I can leave after the summer cools down. I don’t have a role model even today and I am not my sister who can be her own hero, well, trying to be my own hero. I didn’t have life skills, how could I encounter life without some set of skills? Nobody couldn’t answer that question! All I got was “stop making excuses!!”

Yea, spent all of my life fighting with people about my parents. Very few sided with me and I had a mob who wanted to burn me at the stake!


Alaina and Marquis, so clear to me too that the things that my family did teach me were mostly self-serving.

Like you both, I had absolutely zero guidance on so many aspects of life. And many other aspects were just pretty much imposed upon me so all I could do with that was fight it. It does make me wonder where the “fight” in me came from!

There are whole swathes of life that my parents (especially my mother) just left me to figure out by myself. I read a lot of books. And it also has to be said that I didn’t want them involved in what I considered very intimate areas of my life because they were so keen on imposing their wills. So I kept quiet about a lot of it and just sort of got through. I didn’t have any role models either and I still don’t. I think that’s perhaps a positive thing given my tendency to want parental figures in my life. Some days I feel like a lost kid with other people and it really annoys me that I feel that way.


This seems relevant. It’s about the ways that adults deny abuse, especially sexual abuse http://www.secasa.com.au/sections/for-students/the-child-abuse-accommodation-syndrome/


Marquis, I hope that you’ll be able to find good people in life. You strike me as strong, a fighter. Someone who can assess a situation, who applies logic, who sees the truth and is punished for it… It’s exhausting fighting people who don’t want to hear or know the truth but I think if we can shift the fight so that who we’re talking to are the people who want to be empowered and grow stronger—i.e. first of all to talk to ourselves. I think that’s what we do here. I don’t want people in my life whom I’m fighting against but people I’d fight for, including myself. I’d fight for my family, and I did, but they won’t fight for me and if I wanted to fight for me, I had to fight against them. It’s horrible when essentially your family is your enemy and there’s nothing you can do about it and others don’t understand that’s not you being theatrical; it’s just the truth. Outside of my family, I haven’t had much problems with my cutting ties like you seem to have had. In some cases I think it has to do with perceptions and assumptions. Sometimes I have the sense that they’re “understanding” toward my situation because they see me as weak and having had to crawl out to safety and so it’s acceptable. I have found people who have genuinely understood (outside of EFB too, though not to the same degree).

Thanks for sharing that article. It’s excellent.
When you talked about having wished for bruises, you said it was so people would see it, so you could get help, but was it also so that it could be considered legitimate? When I first had my breakdown and my aunt reached out to me, she told me that my bruises were on the inside but if people had seen them, they would rush in and want to help. Well, unfortunately this isn’t actually true. When I made my pain visible, the help I received was the same as always—whatever could fit inside the system but nothing enough to actually change anything. Emotional abuse is not a secret within the family (labelling it is, but it happening is most often widely acceptable/tolerated or spoken up against one day and then back to acting like nothing happened the next). The other thing is when I made my pain visible, it became about me. I wanted to believe that if they knew the damage that their actions/inactions caused, then they’d want to really look into things, listen, understand, not always assume that they’re a hundred leagues ahead of me in my understanding of what I went through. I was addressing the fault in their behaviour and in turn it became about the faults in my personality, etc. To state the obvious the abuse that happens as an open reality is the abuse that is permissible to them. Even if it’s not something they want labeled and explained the way we do here outside the family; within the family the behaviour itself was just our “normal.” Nothing changed after speaking up because they still wanted their normal to be normal, regardless of the evidence of damage, so they made me abnormal. When I was looking for validation, acceptance, love, empathy for the damage I experienced, I wished for a different form of abuse that might have more hope of being recognized as legitimate and given more weight. If I was being beaten down, bullied, physically, I feel that a lot of my family would have rallied with me. But emotional abuse isn’t recognized as being as bad. And as a kid there’s basically no hope. Things have to be extreme, otherwise you’re stuck with whatever. By the time I was old enough to get out, I was far gone brainwashed. I honestly believed that I belonged to my mom. I believed that I was a possession. I had to find ways of being okay with that, of fitting what I wanted inside of what she wanted, but there came a time when I could no longer adapt myself and I broke.


Such great comments in this conversation!

Alice, I am going to share that site with the EFB fb page people! Thanks for posting it!
hugs, Darlene


Alaina, “so people would see it, so you could get help, but was it also so that it could be considered legitimate? ” Well these things go together. The basic answer to your question is “yes” because I thought that to get help required something clearly visible to others. I feel kind of ashamed for wanting “something worse” because so many people have indeed had it so much worse and I think in some way that’s offensive to them.

At the same time your comment was also a reminder of a particularly violent moment when I was pushed out of a car by a family member. My mother made excuses for the person who had done it and had absolutely no concern for my well-being. I wondered if it was because I was now an adult and whether she would have acted the same way when I was much younger but I kind of have my answer to that too. When I was in my teens and having a very bad visit with another abusive family member I called my parents crying for them to do something, to at least talk to the people concerned or to come and put a stop to it. While my mother assured me on the phone that she would indeed tell the family member off, in practice nothing was done. And I have many more similar examples of this type of thing. It led me to realize that in the family no-one had my back because their relationships with each other were more important to them than their relationship with me. Multiply that by a few, have literally no-one to turn to for help or to talk about it and the effect is devastating.
It’s why I posted that article. I wasn’t dealing with sexual abuse but the mechanism is so similar.

I was also thinking about “where the fight in me came from” and it clicked that to fight the mistreatment was simply the right thing to do. I don’t fight them any more though there’s nothing to win and that conclusion is deeply saddening.

However you are right that the fight should go on for the other people who have suffered. I hate buzzwords like “empower” but I can’t find a better one.


I know what you mean about feeling ashamed for wanting “something worse” and also I feel slightly up in arms like someone might call me out, like how dare I, like I’m saying something offensive, as you say, but it’s not that I wanted something worse. It’s maybe more like I wished that every time something emotionally bad happened, it would manifest itself as a visible bruise. It’s a delusion, though, to think it would be better if it was visible. Emotional abuse comes with every form of abuse, so basically the full truth of the situation is never seen and abusive families are always finding ways to disentangle themselves from responsibility. Whatever your reality is becomes your reality. I was brainwashed and thought certain behaviour was totally normal that others would know was messed up. It’s a fallacy for me to think that if it was worse, then not only would others know and act differently but that I would know; all it would likely mean is that my brainwashing would be deeper to encompass more. Certainly people who went through less than I have, would look at me and wonder why I would get so caught in this, questioning myself. I know that the inequity in my family is not right and wanting that to change is legitimate, no matter how bad it is. I don’t have to be visibly beaten to an inch of my life to know that I deserve freedom because everyone deserves freedom.

Part of this is entangled with the fact that my mom went through worse than I did. Darlene talks about this stuff, too, about saying “so what?” The fact that she went through worse doesn’t change what I went through. Maybe this is where the idea that something is wrong with me comes from—that I ought to have been able to withstand something that wasn’t as bad if others withstood worse. But I had a breakdown because I wanted to live, and the internal emotional pressure of wanting to live in conflict with having to be what my family wanted made my brain short circuit. I was my mom’s “baby girl.” She was depressed and using me as a source of self-esteem. Her brother had killed himself when I was young, her mother was a looming shroud over her. I was the one whom she used to prove that she wasn’t anything like her mother. If I played out her version of a happy mother-daughter relationship, then she’d have that. She was someone I believe always in the back of her mind wanted to die (and raised me who ended up the same), or wouldn’t mind if it happened, but had to appear “better than,” all the while probably hanging onto some hope and living in the superiority of all she had suffered and managed to “overcome.” Her story always one about overcoming the legacy of dysfunction, my role to uphold her story. Not wanting to see that I was being used the whole time, afraid she’d get into a car “accident” if she realized the truth, but in the end I was expendable as long as she could now use me to be the one who is in the wrong, who was affected by the old dysfunction and needs to work through my shit to get to the understanding she has where we can work things out…. It wasn’t so much a matter of “how bad” it was, just the truth that psychologically it was impossible for me to continue living the way I was and go out and have my own life. I started to fall in love with someone and that broke my brain. I brought the truth to the surface and the hell of invalidation began. That’s when I started to want it to be worse because if it was worse, then maybe it would be enough and I could “justify” myself more, but it’s all bullshit because there’s always accommodating to worse (as your examples with violence show) and it’s a rabbit trail trying to get something to be “bad enough.” There’s always worse; it doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to live. It doesn’t mean I can’t feel compassion for others or that I actually believe what I went through was worse than the experiences of others. My life is what I was given and no one should have to put up with unfairness because someone else has had more unfairness; that’s a very weird argument… How do you solve or improve anything like that?

Anyway, I really appreciated that article. You’re right that the mechanism is so similar.


Alaina, very articulate in your expression. There were many things I should respond to but a few jumped out at me for the specific reason that they resonated with my own experience.
“I was the one whom she used to prove that she wasn’t anything like her mother.”

I was used to prove that she was “normal”, to allow her to buy in to the “happily married with kids” situation.

Now I find that funny (I mean unfortunate) because we were anything but happy and many years later she told an acquaintance (while I was there) that had she had the opportunity to do over, she wouldn’t have had kids. It makes me wonder what about her prior to marriage and kids she found “not normal” but I never got around to asking her.

And I also had that same fantasy of bruises appearing after incidents.

And she also made this huge deal about her friends’ “mother-daughter relationships” and how great they were and why couldn’t I be that way with her, why didn’t we have that? And she tried for a while to ram the appearance of one of those relationships down my throat but everything about it was wrong, stifling, dependent on her part. And I just couldn’t be that daughter. And when I tried to tell her why I couldn’t, that our relationship sucked because we’d never actually had it and that she had mistreated me, well down the well of denial it went again.

I think it was only after many years away (with what probably looks like limited contact) that I realized just how awful her behavior was. And so I had to wonder, “was she always like this? Did she always treat me that way?” And the memories came flooding.

Yes, I absolutely agree that one type of injustice shouldn’t be used to minimize another but that’s exactly the path her reasoning took. From the “starving children” to yesteryear’s forced child labor, it was all good to show me just how “lucky” I was that I too was not in those situations. And who can argue with that? I certainly couldn’t and I can’t say even today that I can, really can with feeling because OF COURSE these situations are terrible. And so was mine.

As for the “normal”, I can only say that I was also brought up to serve and to be “codependent”. I also wonder if it’s a “typical” way to raise female children.


My mom was definitely the parent in charge and didn’t really hold patriarchal beliefs but I was definitely raised to be codependent. I was insecure with peers. I retreated socially by the time I was 12. My mom had one friend who lived in another country. My parents didn’t have a healthy relationship. I felt like I was putting in time until I turned 18 but she didn’t want to let me go. I was always supposed to give my mom what she wanted. One of my aunts (when she was still supportive) said I was doomed even before I was born because of how my mom had been suicidal when she was pregnant with me but it was being a mom that pulled her through (and it was no secret she wanted a girl). She always said it was what she was born to be. She took pride in her parenting. I remember her saying to me when I was a teen how she didn’t understand parents who grounded their kids—she never had to do that. She made comments about how we had such a good relationship because even though I was in my teen years when mothers and daughters often have fights, she and I had never had a real fight. (It seems weird to me to say that to your own kid.) I was depressed. It wasn’t bad living inside her box but it wasn’t good. Trying to get out of the box was pure hell because I didn’t know that I wasn’t bad for wanting out and of course my family insinuated that I was, that I didn’t care about them, etc. Millions of people have gone through worse experiences than I, certainly in their outer world. My inner world was sheer hell. Much worse and I would be dead and that’s bad enough for me when I can link the behaviour to how it affected me. Parents are supposed to help you, not harm you, and they harmed me. And this “not that bad” thing can be lodged back. If it wasn’t as bad as what others have had (which it wasn’t), then why can’t they admit it? It’s not so bad as to lose your daughter over. Sometimes I’m bowled over by how ridiculous this is. But the worse thing in my family is maybe to be charged as selfish (and of course to lose control/superiority)…. When I think of her now, I think of a needy, insecure, lonely, broken and incredibly obstinate woman who needs so much to believe that she’s a good, caring person that she’ll reject her daughter who tells her the truth (not the whole truth of her whole life because I don’t deny that there’s a bigger picture; I only ask that she doesn’t deny the reality of what our relationship was—how she used me, how she blinded herself to reality because she wanted to continue to use me) and instead holds onto the people who, for their own dysfunctional reasons, uphold her lies. I know that my grandma, who emotionally abused her and has never taken responsibility, has called my mom a bad daughter. That relationship has tortured her, despite whatever boundaries she claims to have put in place with her mom. She looks at her mom with a mix of pity, compassion, pain, superiority, condescension, and for as long as I knew my mom, she was terribly unhappy but pretending she wasn’t, needing always to be right and to prove what a good person she was and how “above” my grandma’s abuse she was, how philosophical and understanding, but underneath that, does she not carry the absolute devastation that no one cared enough to take care of her, to stand up for her, etc.?

Sometimes she was a good mom but when I think of her, more than anything she may have done for me, and others, I feel her yearning for the validation that she’s a good enough person who deserved love and care, and it was through the idea that I was callous towards that that I was controlled by her, by my dad (especially by my dad), but I am not callous toward her pain. She just has that wrong definition of love that Darlene talks about—that love is obedience, that love is giving myself up to her and what she wants even when it’s not just in opposition to what I want but in opposition to what I needed to be an emotionally healthy person. So I did what I had to do to take care of me, to love me, to break the cycle, even if they never understand that.

I just want a new normal.

marquis (female)
June 30th, 2014 at 11:54 am


“Marquis, I hope that you’ll be able to find good people in life. You strike me as strong, a fighter. Someone who can assess a situation, who applies logic, who sees the truth and is punished for it”

Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. Lots of people out there never and still don’t give me credit for my high intelligence and when I listen to other people out there who don’t know jack shit about anything, regardless how old they are, as their ignorance has a lot of weight to it while someone who is intelligent seems to have no weight as to what they say. Like Keith Olbermann said ‘dumb is the new smart!’ Lol I told that to my ex-therapist saying ‘you don’t know shit, how can you possibly have any weight over what I am saying in here? Where’s your proof and experience to truly understand where I am coming from?’ Ohh, she didn’t like that! People are still burning me at the stake over and over again.

“My mom was definitely the parent in charge and didn’t really hold patriarchal beliefs but I was definitely raised to be codependent.”

Yea, my mom was definitely in charge. I don’t see how coming from someone who has no life experiences, never had a lot of jobs in her life, always wanting a jerk for a hubby, never active in our lives just screaming at us daily, etc. I was bred to be codependent which is why I couldn’t just go tackle things or take risks like my sister could and a lot of people never understood that about me. Why bother explaining? I will only be further punished by fools out there.

My mom claims she is a great parent, dad says the same thing. What great parenting? We saw zero activeness from them, a whore dad with nasty hoes and married to an illegal mistress, mom wallowing in on the news, wallowing in her drama with dad and her own drama, sleeps all day, does absolutely nothing, never a loving parent to us, etc. People say ‘they are your parents regardless if they are not active,’ what?!?! If they don’t wanna be active, then they should terminate their parental rights simple as that!

My parents marriage isn’t healthy, wasn’t healthy when they 1st met I bet! 46 yrs of marriage or whatever is suppose to happy, according to who? A guy in the streets told me they must be happy, I said a piece of paper from the courts means you are happy? The paper means nothing as anybody can obtain a marriage license/certificate and never be happy in the marriage. He just looked at me puzzled as if I am the crazy one lol yet he told me his parents have been married happily for 45 years of marriage; wanted to say good for them. He said surely there must have been some happiness otherwise they wouldn’t have you and told him who needs to be happy to make babies? That conversation was over real quick. I guess he figured I was very negative, no, not very negative it’s just realistic, logical, and using reason to make sense!

All people have to do is read up on marriage, marriage license, etc and see what it entails. When you marry for the wrong reasons, your marriage license/certificate, marital vows, means absolutely nothing! A voided contract something I said to the guy and others who had no idea what I was talking, I was like omg!


Alaina and Alice, I am re-reading your conversation over and over. Both of you say so much that resonates with me and my experiences – like you both are saying in words things that I have “known” but never quite articulated. Thank you for your help!
It is so true that once you recognize and deal with current issues, you realize the issues have been ongoing for years. You start thinking about where/when/how it all started, and it’s mind-boggling when those memories come back like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, filling in the empty spaces and making a picture that makes sense!


I just published a new article on the home page today.
The new article “When Society Defends Abuse Instead of Defending the Abused Child” highlights some of the mentality out there in society when it comes to parent “rights and entitlement” issues when it comes to children. It is SICK but it helped me to understand what I was up against when I started to stand up for myself. When I think about how my Dad enabled my Mom, some of these entitlement issues come to mind… I am looking forward to the conversation on this new post!
Hugs, Darlene


Catalina, this is one of the reasons I love the internet. It allows people who are otherwise isolated in their “nuclear families” to compare notes and get a read on just how screwed up things were for them.

Alaina, my mother also insisted that she was a “great mother”. It was as if “mother” was her perfect hiding place from which she could carry out all the power trips she wanted. I know a few people who have “used” the fact they are mothers and I am not to invalidate me when I sought help and understanding from them. Another of my mother’s arguments was “Just you wait until you have kids of your own”. I think that one argument was instrumental in my decison to not have any. But I also didn’t want to be like her. So not having kids was my way of snubbing her. I used to find that kind of a stupid move and unfortunate on my behalf but I’m now very glad that I haven’t had kids because I have spared them the unconscious legacy of my own mistreatment.



Yes, I got the “just wait until you have kids of your own” speech as well. My mother also said,” I hope you are brave enough to have kids.” I took that as a cut to me that I was not brave because I think she probably knew that I was not interested in having children from quite a young age and I must have said that I did not want any although I don’t remember telling her that. I also made an effort not to be like my mother in many ways. She was okay in some ways, but there were a lot of things she did that I did not want to model myself after.


I miss my dad. Even though when I was young he could be physically abusive, he did not generally make me feel like I was a worthless pile of crap. Sometimes I can talk to him.

I feel sorry for my mother. Her father was not as interested in her as he was in her sisters and she sometimes told that he preferred her older sister and her younger sister over her. Countless times, she has told the story about a calf given to her, and another given to her sister to raise, with the promise they could keep the proceeds with the money once they were fattened and sold. He kept her calf money but allowed her younger sister to keep the money. My mother thought it was because she was less attractive.

My grandfather spent a lot of time helping this same aunt build her new home, which was nicer than ours. But again, their home was much closer.

My dad was quite disinterested in my mom growing up. He had affairs and his own business and wasn’t home much. The only time they seemed to get along is when they were devising plans to get us to do work for them or to straighten us up. The truth is, we were compliant, fairly trouble-free kids, never in trouble, good grades, etc. It is funny that I ended up being the perceived “rebel” in the family when in school I was mocked mercilessly for being so straight-laced.

My mom unfavored me. I sometimes wonder if it was that we were both middle girls between two other daughters. It was a bit like how parents reinact their own abuse. She perceived herself as less intelligent and less beautiful than my sisters. Yet in adulthood I have had people tell me I was the most attractive and intelligent of the three and they didn’t know why I was perceived as being ugly and stupid.

I too, used to be told I was socially inept and my older sister told me that I would never get married because no man would ever love me. Well, I have been married twice. When the first husband left me for another woman, my family said that it was my fault. That my first husband was my “long-suffering husband.” When they see him they treat him like a long-lost best friend rather than a man who betrayed and abandoned his wife and kids. He went on to do the same to his next wife and lives a lifestyle that would shock their moral sensibilities. But they don’t speak of that, they just say how much they “miss him.”

I have struggled to have a relationship with my mom. I tried for years. When I first was engaged to marry, she refused to go wedding dress shopping with me–can you imagine? She had gone with my sisters. When I graduated from college, she had expressed no interest in attending the ceremony though it would not have been difficult for her to do so. That would have been admitting I was successful, and she could not bear that. She has only been supportive of my failures–she will help me if I fail, but she won’t celebrate anything that shows I can be successful.

So I called my dad and asked him if he would attend. I told him that mom says she won’t go, but I asked him if he could go without her. He said yes. When the graduation day came, she was in the vehicle with him. She didn’t bring a camera, it was like she was defeated. I had saved money so we could celebrate at a local restaurant because I was so happy with my accomplishment–magna cum laude–and she insisted on McDonalds or a greasy spoon, but only because she was hungry. Then we all went home, and I was defeated. Again, I was proven to be nothing. No words of “we’re proud of you” or “congratulations.”

I will always love my dad for agreeing to go.


Eira, your wedding dress story hit a chord with me. Although in my case, when I was planning my wedding, the ONLY thing she helped me take care of was the initial shopping trip for my wedding dress. Within weeks after that she moved three thousand miles away and I had to do the flowers, music, deal with the caterers, photographer , invitations and everything else by myself. She really wasn’t interested in my wedding. She followed that up with a lack of interest in her grandchildren. She demonstrated a lack of interest in my life well before my marriage too, except for what kind if chores, like cooking or cleaning or ironing that she hated to do and could push off on me.

What you wrote about being told you were socially inept also hit a raw nerve with me. I would get criticized by my mother for making a social blunder, but I never remember her giving me any guidance in this area, including teaching certain etiquette things. But I would get put down or smacked or otherwise punished if I failed to do one of the things I was never taught to do by her.

I now often wonder if my mother was in some kind of secret competition with me. Like your mother, mine would downplay the things I did well. She also seemed to resent the relationship I have with my husband, and perhaps my kids too. Somehow she seemed to equate me succeeding at something with it pulling her down. You mention that your mother perceived herself as less intelligent and less beautiful than her sisters. I’m thinking that she might have reinacted that scenario with you. She may have transferred that to your relationship and maybe perceives herself in competition with you. No matter what it is though, neither you nor I deserved the mistreatment and lack of interest we got.


Amber, that’s interesting.

My mom is really interested in her grandchildren. It’s almost like she is making up for her disinterest in her own children. Ironically, she has been especially good to my child, in fact, he might be her favorite. It’s almost like she understands just how cruel she has been to me but she cannot bring herself to love me or see me.

Amber, my mom did about the same thing–she never taught us social niceties at all.

Amber, I think my mom WAS in competition with me, but not so much my sisters. She compared our weight all the time and tried to convince me I was overweight for my height. I was 5’4″ tall and about 118 pounds and she was 5 feet tall. She remarked, “I NEVER weighed 118 pounds and sounded horrified. I said, mom, I am 4 inches taller than you, I can weigh 20 more pounds than you! She would tell me that my “stomach was pooching out.” I finally dieted down to 98 pounds and began being too skinny because of her comments about my body. She would bring me clothes two sizes too big–she just “saw” me as fat.


Eira, 118 seems just fine, and healthy too! But I wonder why women are put under so much pressure about their weight. Another troubling problem with society! I got it too from my mother. She loved to tell me I have big hips, and I felt like a clunky elephant when she said that. I really think our mothers must have felt that if they make us feel bad about ourselves, then it somehow elevates them and they feel they won their competition game. My mother also had this thing of saying that any guy I was dating was not attractive. It was her way of saying that I didn’t have the beauty to catch a handsome guy. ( as if that was the most important characteristic for an enduring relationship anyway!) . Anything to try to make me feel ugly and worthless. Maybe she didn’t want me to have any relationships. She certainly showed a lot of envy over my marriage throughout the years!

No, my mother was not interested in my two children, and I know my son was resentful over this. I have reassured him that it had nothing at all to do with him; it was due to HER shortcomings, and that she missed out on something really good by not having a relationship with him. Yes, she did live far away, but she could have called him, written to him, and when she learned hoe to use a computer she could have emailed him. No. No interest. But yes, it was her loss.


My mom seemed to be jealous that I had larger breasts. Once she walked in on me when I was dressing and looked at my breasts and her non-verbals made me feel ashamed of my chest. She got a disgusted look on her face and said “ewwwwww.” She told me that I had a “low-slung butt” and was high-waisted, etc. The truth, is I was built and looked like her except with larger breasts.

The strangest thing was how she behaved with me when I was expecting. She didn’t want me near her. Once I was with her when the baby starting kicking really hard and I grabbed her hand to have her feel it and she recoiled like a snake bit her.

She said she didn’t really want to be around when I was in labor and that if I needed help I was to bring the baby to her house but she wouldn’t come to mine. Finally, I talked her to come for two days but she left after one night, during which time I was just released from the hospital and she agreed to hold the baby while I made dinner. She left the very next day and said she missed my dad. I cried because I wasn’t feeling all that strong and I wasn’t able to sleep at all but she said “quit whining” and left.

This is one for Darlene. I often think that when abusers are ever confronted by our advocating for our needs that we’re told we’re whining to shame us out of our voice. It sure does shut me up. Who wants to be called a whiner?

After my baby was born, I was at a family reunion. My cousin was pregnant, and my mom turned to my aunt, “It really bothered me when Eira was pregnant.” My aunt asked WHY. My mom said, “It was like she wanted me to approve of her. I just don’t have that to give her.”

I wish I hard “heard” that back then and I would have saved 15 years of bother with her. There is something like being an orphan when I realize that your mother doesn’t really love you and never will.


Tears of release slipped down my face while reading this, as this seemed to have been written about my own relationship between my father and I; this resonated with me on so many levels of feelings, including quite primal ones.

For decades, this has been a one-way affiliation, with an occasional intermittent reward, or ways that my father would express love toward me; just enough to reinforce me to keep trying to earn my father’s genuine attention or to somehow” win him back” over my mother, the challenger, and as pathologic as this may sound.

This fifty year unhealthy relationship is complicated by not only my mother’s prominent influence, but the weighty effects from my traumatic and near fatal event that occurred when I was eleven; after surviving this experience, my father became extremely, notably emotionally distant, even to a pre-adolescent.

Once I had moved away at age seventeen no longer able to tolerate our home life mainly due to my mother, the chasm between my father and I would geographically have been something one could observe from orbit; it had grown to such mammoth proportions, was cultivated by my mother, who continues to be the overt psychological abuser, and to this day is primarily played out in my father’s silence, again with his occasional yet few and far between expressions of reinforcing “love”.

It’s exquisitely painful. Thank you for this article, and for sharing your experiences.


Hi Shell
Welcome to EFB~
I am glad you happened upon this site! There is a huge body of work here and tons of insight, support and TRUTH.
Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene

Patricia Dingman
July 11th, 2014 at 9:51 pm

You just told my story!


My alcoholic father beat my mother & brothers, but not me. My (punishment) job, according to my mother was to go to bed w him every night til he was asleep. Mom was the verbally abusive enforcer of this. He was naked, I was allowed only underpants. Once he was asleep it was my job to brush her hair, rub her shoulders, lightly touch her face & ears, and when I was older (by age 6)tweeze her eyebrows. By age 10 it was perms; age 12 trimming her hair. Of course the cuddle routine got out of hand (never happened! if it did it’s your own fault!! was mother’s reply). This lead to older brothers sexually abusing me even worse than my father ~ same response … didn’t happen, my fault if it did. Mother was generally thought of as a kind and sweet woman. After her death I was relieved when my only, younger sister told me she realized at a young age that while we were born of the same woman, we had very different mothers. Her mother would never allow Anyone treat the way I was treated. At almost 40 I became a letter carrier for the USPS and remembered how badly she treated our mailman (as they were only called when I was a kid). This thought to be kind, sweet woman was horrible to him!! It was while working that I remembered feeling bad and confused about it while it happened & I realized he was in the same category as I was … powerless over her rants and abuse. Then after working longer I thought maybe he had his little revenges since he could leave out a piece of mail or mis-deliver it on purpose!! The death of each of my parents was a relief for me although I tried til the end to get each of them to love me.


Kathryn, I am sorry that you had to endure so much from your family. I hope that Darlene’s insightful articles are helping you heal as they are for me. What you said about about your mother appearing to be sweet and kind is very common. My mother was very sociable and well liked at work and around the neighborhood. None of these people would ever think that she would repeatedly tell her daughter she is ugly and awkward and how she would wield the belt for harsh punishment. This is because they show one face to some people, and maybe most people, but they have their chosen few that they are very abusive to. And they are very good at hiding it, so if you ever told anyone else about it they would think you were the crazy one. Nasty, sneaky, yes! But they’re not fooling any of us on here with their tricks.


Thank you both for sharing your thoughts. I never thought I would have the courage to walk away from my Dad for good because he was my last hope at having a loving relationship with at least one parent. It was hard enough accepting that my mom was not capable of loving herself which led to not being able to love me and my sister. Dad was my rock and kept peace in the family. When my parents split it was the first time I saw my Dad as a person.

He was broken down and defeated. This was the real man behind the illusion that we belonged to a happy family. Our family became experts at hiding the truth about the abuse that was present. We became experts at hiding our pain so the world could only see a well kept yard and home. What happens in our home, stays in our home is what we were trained to obey. My Dad resisted support and assistance because it was his job to provide for the family. With all the help I received, I realize the truth is that he wasn’t willing to be accountable with his part. He wasn’t willing to admit that he needed help dealing with my mentally ill mother. All his energy went into being her personal therapist and protector as me and my sister had to find our own way to cope.

Accepting that my dad too was incapable of loving me was just another layer of pain I had to shed in order to move forward. I still struggle with why these two people chose to have children when it was clear that they really didn’t want them or were unable of providing the proper care. I had to know the truth so I could free myself from carrying the burden of being a horrible daughter. I thought if I kept improving myself they would finally see my value and they would embrace me with love and acceptance. That was the illusion I created for myself. I thought once I knew the truth I would finally feel free but that never happened either. The truth just gave me an opportunity to face the real issue and that was I was a deeply wounded human being who needed to focus on healing the wounds. Turning my attention away from them and onto myself is what has helped me move forward.

I didn’t fully understand the depth of my wounds until I was willing to go to the deepest darkest places within myself. I don’t miss either one of my parents, I miss not being given the opportunity to have parents who sincerely wanted children and adored them. That’s what part of me needs healing. When I see a father with his son or daughter and they are happy together, my soul weeps inside. I can feel that longing inside and it hurts like hell. I let myself feel the pain and release it through tears. Allowing myself to “feel” is honoring my soul and she deserves to be healthy and whole.

My mission is to honor and love myself the way I need to be. I now accept no one can give that to me except for me. This healing journey has been slow and long and I do my best to remind myself that I am worth every effort. I am grateful that I can learn to love myself without anyone’s permission. I am the creator of my own love and I choose abundance.

Thank you for the opportunity to express myself and for sharing your journey with all of us.


Kathryn, 150, your story touched me so that I want to respond to you. I hope that you don’t mind.

I know how it feels to be the scapegoat of the family and to be told that you deserved whatever abuse you received. I also know what it is like to love your mother and attempt to earn her love until her death. I was the only one with my mother for the last 24 hours of her life, (the others, her pets, abandoned her). I am not sure of the answer to why I put myself through all of this, but I hypothesize that my woundedness was so great that I did not feel like I could live without her love. Which, in fact, almost came true after her death. I have been close to my own death several times this last year due to my grief, depression, and physical health. It is only in these last few months that I have begun to regain my strength and mental stability.

I wish you healing from all of the abuse that you endured. Please, know, that none of it was your fault. Please, know that you can heal from this and go on to have happiness in your life.

Lora, 152, I hope that you don’t mind if I respond to you as well. I am so glad that you see clearly into the dysfunctional relationship with your dad. I never really had a dad. My mom was married 4 times and left my father before I was born. My step-fathers were never dads to me and only added abuse and dysfunction to my life and further ruined my relationship with my mother.

I am so glad that you are committed to your mission to honor and love yourself. I am in that same place, I want to show myself love, kindness, and good care. I am thankful that you wrote your comment, because it speaks so clearly to me. I wish you many blessings,


Hi Kathryn
OMGosh.. that is horrible and so wrong of both your parents. Both of them are equally sick and abusive. I am so sorry that you went through this and I am glad you found this site! There is so much healing and courage here!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Patricia
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
hugs, Darlene


This IS MY father too, without the spirtual frou frou. He says he loves and misses me, but will do nothing to reconnect. He will not contact me because my mother has told him not to. He believes every skewed thing my mother says about me. He is a mindless fool. This was a very hard realization for me: I lived many years believing that ONE DAY he would wake up, do some critical thinking, and become a hero. ONE DAY he would see her cruelty clearly enough and take a stand. That day never came and never will. The ONLY thing that got me through most of my life in the face of her hate was that at least my dad really and truly loved me. Having to face his loving me was not true nearly did me in. It was just an illusion. I still haven’t recovered. I still have HUGE doubts within myself: If my own parents couldn’t love me, doesn’t that mean I am worthless? Unlovable? Sure, I KNOW THAT IS BS–everyone is born deserving love. But not having parents who truly love us is an added kick in the gut we must somehow overcome. In some ways, discovering my father’s inability to live in reality (and to love me more than her hate) was a much harder blow than all of my mother’s abuse of me.


I just sent this link to everybody in my extended family. Now, holding my breath as the hate mail and hate phone calls start pouring in. I don’t care. Enough of this charade. DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES GIVE BIRTH TO DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES!

marquis (female)
July 13th, 2014 at 12:52 am


Agreed. I thought of something the other day: my ex-therapist and other people told me to “break the chain of dysfunctional abuse” and said one chain can get broken, right? What about the whole entire links of chains should get broken all at once? Why does it have to be one person in the family to break a chain? If you want the entire links of chains to be broken, then the entire family needs to come together, talk about the abuse and repair the damage if it’s possible, then everybody works together to break all of those chains – think of the chain gang. We are all “chained” to our families, if you will, but it is true dysfunction breeds more dysfunction yet a lot of people out there don’t agree with that. What I am trying to say is we are connected (chained) through the links of abuse as it affects everybody.

Why does it have to take one person to take all the responsibility to say no? That’s what I don’t get.


Hi Debbie,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
This is where we end that cycle of abuse. I stopped it in my family ~ there is so much hope here!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Elise
You are one step ahead of the game realizing that your Dad didn’t do anything to intervene on your behalf. I went through a horrible time when I realized that my parents didn’t really care; realizing that they didn’t love me in the true action of the word “love” was devastating, but it was also a new beginning. Slowly I began to see that this wasn’t about me, it was about them and it always had been about them. I understand your questioning your worth, I went through it too but at the end of the day I realized that it was because they and their actions towards me had defined me as unworthy, I believed that only they could reverse that definition of me… but that was a lie like all their definitions of me! I REVERSED it! I rejected the labels that had held me underwater my whole life and I emerged!
Thank you for sharing your heart. I am glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene


Funny, when I heard that song first, I thought about my father. And cried. And let him go from my heart… He chose to be absent. Then let it be so…


Welcome to EFB ~
it is healing (sometimes not right away but eventually) to see the truth about the choices that they have made.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


My father is emotionally abusive. His targets are usually my mother or I. I am 44 years old and even though I only see him 3 times a year, when he does this to myself or my mother (most recent – in my home), I am severely triggered and it takes me days to recover. This most recent event I casually excused myself from the room when his target was my mother. My question is, do I tell my mother what this does to me? In the past when he was abusive to me, she did not stand up for me. I believe both of us are afraid of having the situation turned on us. I want my mother to k ow my silence isn’t condonement. However I don’t trust that I want come unglued at him, and make myself look worse, which is what the pattern has been my whole life.
Thanks for listening .
In pain-socal mom


Hi Socal Mom
Welcome to EFB ~ why would you confronting him make you look worse? I always thought about the way my reactions would make “me” look instead of realizing that there was a reason for my reactions EVEN if those reactions appeared to be ‘abusive’. It was when I began to look at WHY I was reacting, that I was able to focus on the actual problem person instead of jumping straight to how it would make me look.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Yes what I meant was I would look like the one with issues because of releasing my pent up rage. My whole life it I got upset over something he said, I would be told I was too sensitive, mistaken, etc. My mother was not in a position to help me. If she did, there would be he’ll to pay through silent treatment by him etc for days to both of us.


I feel like just sending this post to my dad. Maybe it would wake him up.
4 months of no contact, 2nd time in 12 months…but it’s odd. I simply have not called and neithet has ANYONE in my family…after I went off on dear mothet for pitting me and the golden narcissist child up against each other and lying about it…


Hi Cat H
Welcome to EFB~ It was very hard for me to comprehend that when I finally stood up for myself I got dumped by my family. Eventually I put that information into everything else I had begun to realize and the truth got even more clear.
Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


It’s all so sad and all so familiar. My father complains, yet will never stand up to my mother for himself or anyone else. He is a lost cause.


Hi Louise
Welcome to EFB ~ yes it is so sad!
I am glad you found us here;there is so much hope too.
hugs, Darlene


Thanks everyone for your comments. So many good conversations happening here.
DXS – I’m sorry about the end of your relationship. It is shocking to see love in its truth and realize that you never had it in your own FOO. ?
DivaB – How sad that your mom is manipulating your dad like this.
Aliana – Thanks for sharing. Yes, they have a faulty definition of love that they passed on to us. I’m glad we can break the cycle for future generations.
Darlene – I love this new post ?
Eira – Thanks for sharing. So sad that you didn’t have a mother to be there to celebrate your successes with you.
Shell – Thank you for sharing your story here.
Kathryn – How sad that you were treated this way.
Elise – Exactly. My realizations about my own father were more shocking than those about my mother as well.
Debbie Hardwick – “Dysfunctional families give birth to dysfunctional families.” Exactly. Unless we break the cycle which everyone here is doing!!
GS – Interesting we both heard the song that way.
Socal mom – Thank you for sharing here.
cat hirsh – That is the hardest thing to swallow. At least for me. That they refuse to change.
Louise – ?


My parents enable each other.My father has an inner violence aggravating with age.When i talked to my mother about it,she told me:”YOU are making him mad.YOU bring out the worst in him.”The most shocking thing she said was:”Violence exists in each of us.It’s normal.” “Yes,but most people control themselves”,i replied.Feeling exposed,my mother changed the topic.

She wouldn’t admit that he never has a calm moment to talk to him.Even if he is calm,he explodes in a rage whenever i bring up a tabu topic.THEY are the imature ones,not me:change the topic,violent rage tantrums,never apologize,contradict,repeat negative unwanted behavior.They act like children,not adults.That’s what children do.Still,they accuse me of immaturity.Talk about projection.



Projection indeed. My dad has this ridiculous violent rage as you can’t seem to ask him a question about anything. My lousy mom is of no help always telling me ‘that’s just how he is, go in your room,’ really?!? We were always sent to our rooms every time he acted so damn stupid like that yet she was in no help to do anything and enabled him even more.

My ex-therapist did agree that my parents are just children themselves. She said how my parents didn’t have the proper set of parents and values. I said “a child (me) being raised by children how does that work? So, you can’t say they are parents if they are children because children can’t raise another child(ren)!” That doesn’t make them parents because they can’t seem to have an adult mindset on anything. I shot her idea of a parent down real quick! So yea, agreed that’s how children act with temper tantrums and rages when they can’t get their way. Can’t say they are still your parents, no, you just said they are children in adult bodies. lol oh the contradictions!


I wish therapists stopped giving unrealistic advice such as ‘set boundaries’ and put victims in even more danger than they already are.Just imagine trying to stop narcissistic rage,and then get hit as a result.Believe me,i’m talking from experience.All my life,i’ve been trying to do just that,and i failed everytime.Afterwards,i blamed myself for not being able to do it.I still feel helpless about it.Setting boundaries means confronting my abusers,which leads to violence.



I agree. My ex-therapist and others said to put boundaries between my parents and I. I said to be popped in the mouth by my dad? They said call the police and said I did when when I contacted CPS of the emotional abuse wasn’t popped in the mouth. When my sister was 16, dad was pissed about something and he hit my sister. She beat his ass to a pulp, backed him into a corner with a screw driver. Mom was sitting there painting her nails like no big deal but she chose to save dad instead of fighting for my sister. My sister said I didn’t stay with a friend for 2 weeks, pops left for 3 weeks I stayed as usual mom told part of the story with the truth while the rest they twisted it. This was before I was born.

I told my ex-therapist what kind of boundaries should she put against my dad? She didn’t have shit to say as always. I have seen many different stories of abuse where a woman in an abusive marriage, having no say so, and can’t place boundaries to her jerk hubby. I believe the only way boundaries will work is if the other person or groups of people are willing to see their own behaviors as a problem and willing to listen and work out the problems – then boundaries will work on both ends.


Abusers will never see their own behavior as the real problem.That would imply becoming normal over night,which is impossible.Some therapists even give examples of replies we should say to our abusers.I tried them all.NONE of them worked.On the contrary,it increased their rage.

As for projection,everything they accused me of was applying to themselves.They said i was too sensitive,but they were the ones who couldn’t stand to be criticized.They accused me of needing professional help,but they were the ones with an abnormal behavior.They accused me of telling lies,but they were the ones who wouldn’t face the truth.And the list could go on.If only i knew then (when i was a child)what i know now!

Everytime i want to do something,i keep hearing their hateful words in my heart,even though i’m very aware they’re wrong.On Judgement Day,their own daughter will testify and stand against them.Whenever i try to communicate with them,i adapt my speech for people with disabilities. I say things like:I have something to tell you,so pay attention.Also,i keep my sentences short and clear,because i want my message to be understood before they start shouting.

Another thing,Why do they knock on my door,if they don’t wait for me to say ‘come in’?To me,that sounds like mocking,not knocking.I feel exhausted and drained.


Both my parents abused in different ways. My NPD Dad required perfection and no emotions or problems. His way was the only way. I was a possesion. My mother was emotionally unavailable and down right didnt like me. She taught servatude and compliance. Never speak up. Dont contradict anyone especially bullies. Both of them worked to crush my spirit and personality. I became a doormat/people pleasing servant. The emotional distress and self harming behavior was their “proof” that I was a defective person and this aweful problem they were burdened with. I just accepted it as truth because my inner turmoil seemed to support it.
They worked as a team to destroy their own child. Hes dead but shes still an abusive monster. At least I see it now. I dont think I will ever be completely healed but Im working on it every day.


Laura my Dad was like that all his life. No discussions. Every topic caused rage or was proof that I was bad or no good. It was aweful. I tiptoed around him til no contact when I was 40. Then the threats and name calling began. He actually threatened me with the State Police and false charges if I ever entered the state of NH again. Yup but Im the crazy one.


Socal mom I do the same thing. Responding to my parents abuse was always turned around and used as proof of my craziness. I stopped responding because of this training. Just another tactic to punish me into compliance. Sneaky. That way they could treat me any way they wanted. Unfortunately I applied this response to abuse from anyone then beat myself up afterward because of my distress. I hope I am better now but still tend to withdraw when attacked.


Hi Karen!
Yes, they do the harm and then use it against us to prove it is us. Round and round it goes… (Until we stop it)
hugs, Darlene

Yes there are things we can say back BUT if they don’t work and the offender doesn’t respond to those sayings, then we can make a new decision about the relationship. I have said certain new things to people that are nasty to me.. and those people have a choice about how they respond. BUT if they refuse to respect me, I don’t have to continue having any sort of relationship with them. The success of standing up to people isn’t about how they respond. 🙂
(and for me this was about learning that I had a choice too.)
hugs, Darlene



“Abusers will never see their own behavior as the real problem.That would imply becoming normal over night,which is impossible.Some therapists even give examples of replies we should say to our abusers.I tried them all.NONE of them worked.On the contrary,it increased their rage.”

Agreed. The women at the women’s center said very rarely will an abuser change for the better, but don’t count on it. As long as they’re right nothing else will stop them, so if a person is always right to the end, how could they see their own bad behaviors? Which is true lots of other people disagreed. Ex-therapist disagreed told her ‘with your thinking, this is why most abused women feel “he can change” or “everybody goes through bad days,” type of mentality.’ You can’t expect a person to change if they don’t want to, funny how people tell me that about my parents yet INSIST that they will change!

However, people told me different ways to deal with my parents and tried every way they told me and nothing worked. It’s like I’ve told my ex-therapist and other people all of my life that you can’t make someone listen (ha, they said the same thing to me!). Then they said ‘well, your parents really don’t have to listen to you,’ then it is not a relationship it’s a control, dictatorship over you! I told these fools ‘go study history and controlling others – it doesn’t change whether it’s a home environment, work, or friendships; controlling is everywhere. Did the people in history ever had a voice?’ When you got parents having the most power, it’s a problem and the power is not balance where both sides have a voice. This is about power nothing else and when I say that to people, omg, every name calling in the damn book!

People say I don’t make an effort to “talk to my parents.” Yes, I have as it never went anywhere as always. None of these so called talks with my parents went anywhere, it was always and still is very one sided; how could people expect that to even go anywhere?!? How do you talk to people who are always right and nothing is ever wrong in their eyes? You can’t make sense with these people and other people out there need to stop lying to me, lying to themselves, and lying to others because it is very hypocritical of them to say what I said above tell me you are wasting your time. Ex-therapist was furious when I said that, not my fault she spoke with a lot of contradictions!

I could tell my parents the truth about something like someone slashed my tires (making up a scenario) and guess who’s fault that is? It was my fault for not “being home earlier” and the tire slashing wouldn’t have happen! On top of that, I’d have most people agreeing with my parents and very, very few disagreeing with them and agreeing with me at the same time!! As sad as it is, people out there really do speak in contradictions, a twisted tongue if you will. Then it comes down to ‘you need to understand your parents’ thinking,’ I already know it and damn right scary!

Oversensitive, yep, been told that one a lot like it’s my fault. They said I am oversensitive funny how they can move on while I am still pissed! My parents told me it’s my fault that I am sensitive to people yelling at me and who is the fucking cause behind all of this??! There are ways to handle someone yelling at you and they said ‘your brother got yelled at in the Air Force and it didn’t bother him,’ wtf?!? Hmm, my dad was in the Navy Reserves long ago yet stole shit from them which is why the house has always been hoarded!


Hi Darlene,
Like Marquis,I don’t have enough money to leave,so i’m stuck.That’s why i DON’T have a choice.Life would be so easy if we could decide something and put it into practice,with no obstacles.My choice is to leave,but that choice is hindered by financial problems.After each fight with them,i feel like i lost another battle.I was dependent on their reaction.I felt like i hadn’t said the right words to them,and that’s why i couldn’t set boundaries.When i bring up the topic of respect,they say:”Do you want us to bow before you and kiss your hand,Your Majesty?” Is that what respect is for them?No, that’s submission,obedience.

Hi Marquis,
Recently,i started documenting myself on the concepts of respect,love,maturity and being an adult.Just like a schoolgirl,i do my homework.It’s like a research,using dictionaries and the internet.True,you can’t make abusers listen,especially if they have hearing problems.

Oversensitive.What about THEIR reaction? Abusers go blue in the face if you dare to contradict them.However,you are expected to remain calm when they throw insults at you.By the way,the insults are not random.They always hit you where it hurts the most,and this is NOT an accident.They don’t just happen to touch your most vulnerable spot.They do it on PURPOSE,and it’s often something they are guilty of.For example,i lost my job because of them.Afterwords,they called me a parasite who lives off their money,because i don’t like to work.This is cruelty at its worst,as it’s not a mistake i made.It’s something they did,blaming it on me.If i get another job,they’ll do the same.

marquis (female)
August 5th, 2014 at 8:37 pm


It seems my mom made me into her being stuck with no money since she wasn’t able to do that to my older sister. I’ve had people and that ex-therapist say ‘you do have a choice, the choice to leave and find organizations to help you.’ I told the, ‘come off it, those organizations only help those who are abused by a significant other or spouse! Try telling them oh my parents are abusing at xyz age and they will be puzzled like why are you still there? Not the point are you gonna help or not?!’

It seems everybody else can have the money to do things but not me, that’s why my ex-therapist said why is money so important to me? Told her why because you need it to do things with plus never in my life was I even allowed to have money. I was made to be always be broke by my parents and omg, a lot of people disagreed with that. I don’t understand how these people would know if they never lived that kind of life!

We don’t have many good nonprofit organizations to help out anyway it’s your an adult figure it out yourself. When I brought up respect, bad topic to bring up. I got “you don’t deserve respect, respect is only reserved for parents and older folks as children need to realize who is in charge.” OMG, doesn’t that sound like a dictator?!? I said to my ex-therapist how can you sit there and deny what they said? It’s a dictator comment but no she said it’s parents are the ones who are in control. I said gee, no different from my parents guilt as sin!

I agree, what about their reaction? You wanna talk about oversensitive, start hitting the abusers where it hurts and watch them go into rage. Funny, this is shit my ex-therapist is suppose to know yet I had to educate her because all she could use her marital and parental arrogance against me which is very poor of an argument if you ask me.

My parents throw random insults left and right yet they keep talking like nothing happen. My ex-therapist said to ignore it, oh really?? I agree, it’s on purpose no normal, sane, nice person would do that on purpose! I was called a mooch and not “independent at all” by my mom because I always needed money from them. I am sorry, you trained me to be codependent and into a maidservant, how the fuck would you expect me to be independent?!? She isn’t independent herself a maidservant to my dad!

I couldn’t keep jobs in the past because of the negativity she was saying about jobs and people. That explains why I have big gaps in my resume, I felt jobs were too hard to deal with and wanted it to be easy for me. She speaks about jobs like it is no big deal yet my mom rarely worked in her life! 17 credits in her social security and complained it isn’t enough, gee, wonder why! She gets social security from my dad’s assets nothing in her life was ever earned; shit was stolen from us and we were used, yep, something my ex-therapist and other people failed to look at.

I always had to hear it if I got a job somewhere I’d get the usual talk ‘oh the white people don’t want you there, you gotta do this or that at the job to keep a good record, etc you know the white people blah blah’ always about the white people at jobs! Seriously, my mom isn’t the prime example of hard work neither is my dad as he stole and threaten his past employers with lawsuits and bankruptcies – again, is that suppose to be a good role model for me on hard work?

“This is cruelty at its worst”

Agreed. Nobody I knew wanted to agree with that! ‘Oh, it’s what parents do,’ is what I got and should ‘deal with it maybe one day when you’re a parent you will do the same to your kids,’ are you kidding me?!? Why would I want to be a tyrannical idiot like my parents? Ugh, I wish the money was there so I can hurry up and meet my goal then leave. I have no plans for a roomie have nothing against them but my own plans of having my own place requires me and me only nobody else to interrupt me!


I had a possessive mother, an indifferent father, and a wayward younger sister. My existence was to serve as an extension to my mother. I was to do what she wanted, I had to play the piano so that she could show me off to her friends, I was not allowed my own likes and dislikes, I was followed to school and back by a servant who made sure I didn’t wander or loiter with classmates. Even at university, I had to be back by dinner time and evenings out were forbidden. My father lived like a shadow in the house, not felt, not participating, not involved. My sister and I hardly knew him, and he didn’t matter. Because my mother focused on me only, my sister was kind of abandoned, not clever, not loved, as a kind of appendix to the household. She failed exams, lost umbrellas, chased boyfriends like a nymphomaniac, all the way from Asia to Canada. I didn’t realize that I was a separate person from my mother until I graduated from university, found a job, and threatened to leave home if mom didn’t leave me alone. It worked, and I started my own existence, at age 20. In the years since, I made mistakes, picked myself up and made further mistakes. I had no pseudo-parent to ask questions of, or provide comfort or guidance. So, ‘I did it my way.’ Every thought, belief, experience I have I am responsible for, and I never look back. Father, mother and sister are no longer in my life, and I am surrounded by my own friends and people I cultivate because of the positive vibes I have from them. Bad relationships when young can be debilitating, but in my case, I know that we can limit its influences. Choose your paths and associates well. You never need to be haunted by your past because of the much happier and meaningful present. Don’t hang on to the past if it drags you down. (I am not going into our responsibilities towards our aged parents here.)


Emotional abuse doesn’t always imply hitting or shouting.Violence has many cunning ways to manifest.For example,my father contradicts me every time i voice my opinion on something.He does it in a calm tone of voice.However,this is still an aggression.That’s when abusers say we’re crazy or too sensitive.The cruelest type of manipulation is abusers hurting us without even raising their voice or show any type of open aggression.

Another type of hidden aggression:bringing up a sensitive topic and discussing it calmly.We just ‘happen’ to be there and the topic appeared ‘unintentionally’.It just ‘came up’ in conversation,as if at random.

Has anyone noticed hidden aggression or is it just happening only to me? Most of you commenting here write about visible violence,including yelling and narcissistic rage.What about conversations that don’t end in a fight and do not involve name calling,yet still leave us with sizzling anger inside?



Yes, I am familiar with emotional abuse. In my family there was not a lot of yelling and there was no raging and no hitting or physical abuse. But my wounds are there none the less.

I had a similar problem as you with the contradicting behavior. My sister-in-law would contradict almost every comment I would say. I would say black; she would say white. I’d say white and she would say black. It got to the point that when we were visiting with her I just let my husband do all the talking. I became weary of her aggressive behavior. You can tell aggressive behavior by the tone of voice and body language. We are low contact with her now, and she has noticed this. Now when we visit with her; she acts nicer. I know she still does not like me, but at least it is more palatable now.

My father is a passive aggressive person. He will agree to do something and then just blow it off. He will walk away from you while you are trying to have a conversation about something he does not want to hear or talk about. If it gets too much under his skin he will talk back, but it is in a controlled manner. People don’t have to yell to be abusive. That’s why it is so crazy-making for a person. You think: did I just get verbally slapped? If this thought crossed your mind then the answer is yes you did!


Thank you,Andria.Indeed,people don’t have to yell to be abusive.Contradiction is a pathological trait.I asked my father:”Why do you feel the need to contradict?” he said he never contradicts,he just corrects me.Normally,parents set boundaries for children.But in toxic relationships,the roles are reversed,and victims need to set boundaries.


It looks to me as if human nature has not changed; that mothers are doing the same things to their daughters that they have done in past generations, and that history is repeating itself. Fathers are covering over things that mothers do and families are probably also covering up different abnormalities in personalities as well. There are novels written about this sort of thing that are supposedly fiction, which are not far from truth. It is true that abuse is getting worse, but unless we stop and think about what we are doing, it will never stop.


Hi Claudia,
Welcome to EFB ~ Yes we have to think about our actions and I have found that so much easier since I have been able to stop and think about what THEY (the people who were abusive to me) were doing and the false messages that I received about myself through that, so that I could change my thinking and the way that I set my boundaries. This is how I stopped the cycle of abuse in my family. I stood up to my parents etc. and I set a new example of love for my kids.
hugs, Darlene


Catching up on all the comments!

Laura – “abusers will never see their own behavior as the problem.” – Exactly!!
Karen R – So sorry to hear this. I’m glad you are here now.
Nignog – I am glad you have surrounded yourself with loving people!
Claudia Barlow – Yes we can CHOOSE to break the cycle!


I think you and my fathers may be brothers. My mother was extremely mentally ill and abused my father and me. Time and time again I would cry, begging him to leave her (to protect me). Instead he would choose to work up to 80 hours a week to avoid the situation and not protect me. I felt (and feel) my father is a weinie with no backbone. He is so weak and pathetic. I cannot rely on him. Thanks to him I still sometimes feel I’m not worthy of love or happiness.


Hi Amy
I smiled when I read that your father is a weinie! LOL Yes that is certainly one word for it!!!
I am glad you have found this blog! There are millions of us dealing with this very thing!
hugs, Darlene


Amy Hudson, you are worthy of love and happiness, just as we all are and have found that out over the years, only you are going through it at present and we went through it probably fifty odd years ago and have been through our lives already and can help you through it now. Please know that you are a viable human being with abilities and traits to be developed into what you are to become. Do not ever give up on yourself.


Hi Amy,
You cannot rely on your father,but you can rely on yourself.You will never let yourself down.Just like yours,my mother is also toxic.33 years of my life i felt neglected and invisible.We’re still living under the same roof,unfortunately.When i am at home,i lock myself in my room for hours.When i go into town,i come home late in the evening.My mother complains that i neglect her and that i avoid talking to her.Really?What about my childhood?Back then,she was busy drinking,watching tv,burrying herself in work etc.She never had time for me.Even if i did want to talk to her,i wouldn’t find any conversation topics.I connect with strangers much better.

In my local park,i see so many real parents spending quality time with their children.Aren’t they tired or busy?Don’t they have exhausting jobs?When do they make the time to be parents in their busy schedule?

You say your father wouldn’t leave her to protect you.So,he chose not to be a father.Why should you make an effort to be a daughter? I think if a parent is abusive,the other is too.Your father did nothing to get you out of that toxic environment.He silently watched your mother abusing you,and he didn’t lift a finger.


I agree wth Laura. Why should we make an effort to our parents who NEVER bothered to make any EFFORT to be a parent towards us? My mom bitches that “I don’t spend time with her” why do I want to hear about Jim Crow, Tiger Woods, Obama, and MLK etc daily? My idiot ex-therapist said ‘that’s your mom’s way of wanting to have a meaningful discussion,’ and I said ‘how the hell is that a meaningful discussion?!? yelling at one another is having a close knit relationship?!?’

I’ve had a lot of people say that to me and was like omg. She gets enrage when i spend time with friends or boyfriend hates both and told my mom ‘how much of an attention whore are you? Why am I always your punching bag? Every time dad leaves, I am the punching bag, but when he is here he is mostly the punching bag or both of us!’ She screamed so loud calling me a liar that’s how it is and my sister lied to me lol my sister isn’t even here but she would know what I am talking about it.

My dad was always busy with sluts out there and getting himself into trouble not like that hasn’t changed and my mom so self-absorbed not only with her herself but also in the news claiming ‘I am seeking the truth’ I said seeking the truth is finding out the answers for yourself and she used to say that to me when I was a kid by not listening to everything people say yet can’t take her own advice! You never wanted to be a parent that you should have been and you got the nerve to say I am not a good daughter? You chose chaos/drama/evilness with dad, both of you deserve one another yet I am the bad person here?!?

Strangers out there would call that selfish, however, I have gotten along better with strangers as long as you didn’t ask me about my parents. I always tell people do unto others as if you have them do unto you and that is the mistreatment they gave us we are doing it back to them and a lot of people were irate at that and disagreed with it wholeheartedly which I agree with it 100%. It’s not about blaming our parents or relatives, it is about making them accountable for what they did and yea I hate my parents still do; the damage was already done long ago. I told them I should have a right to spend qualify time with real, loving people unlike some people who refused to even be that kind of person and man was that a knock down fight with them. They said we are loving you are not gonna do what you want, who said anything about doing what I want? Well, let’s go back: this is about having my own life, a social life, enjoying life, etc what is this crap about running the streets? That’s what the conversation was about it came about running the streets aka prostitute! It’s funny they said they didn’t have to be loving or spend any real time with me that answered all my questions!

I will finish this up later.


I thought my dad was my knight in shining armour. We spent time together in the mornings as he got ready for work, before mom got home. I loved my time alone with him because mom was so unreachable. But as I grew up and needed him in the evenings, he was usually drunk in bed. As I got older neither of my parents was there in a loving way. Mom hated my love for him and his for me, so she made me feel worthless. I couldn’t do anything right by her. Still can’t seem to. When I heard her side of the story I felt like an orphan. He used me to show his hate for her because he knew she wanted a daughter. So he loved me, showered me with things, I was his honey. But when she would tell him to get things done before she woke up (worked nights), he would come to me to do the chores. I didn’t mind until I found out what was going on. I basically became his wife, and to her I was the mistress. I had to realize he wasn’t my knight in shining armour, and she wasn’t the worlds biggest bitch. She still shows no concern for me even though I take care of her every need, she still makes comments when I open up to her (which I don’t any more)that make me feel stupid. I understand she was abused (I think), but I have alot of healing to do. Didn’t realize so much that his passitivity was such a problem, but they hated each other until the day he died. I felt horrible to know he used me to torture her. I didn’t know he really hated her. He told me he was funning with her. But he wasn’t. I hated being a part of his underhanded ways of making her life miserable for so many years. I miss him, but the 2 of them have left me so messed up. Trust in people? Are you kidding? I have no recollection of being sexually abused by him thank God.


Hi Dee
Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story. It sounds like you were standing in for him as husband too, even if your mom didn’t know it.
You have found a safe place to share here,
hugs, Darlene


Hello All,
I was reading some of the “families” that each of you were STUCK with. And in your road to healing, of course it hurts to not be loved, validated by your “families”. I wonder if this hurt could lead you to FINDING the families that you DESERVE, THAT YOU CHOOSE? Don’t settle for anything less, don’t accept anything less, as you all DESERVE to have love, acceptance, admiration, truth. With the most respect I can feel for you all, keep on accepting NOTHING LESS THAN YOU NEED….Kelly


I never had a father and I always envied people who did have one. I thought that a father would be someone who is good and kind.
My biological dad was out of my life before I was born because my mom, who was only 19 years old when she married him, ran away in fear and left him before she knew that she was pregnant with me.
I connected with and met my dad when I was 17 years old and I was disappointed because he was so different from what I had hoped for. I am glad that I didn’t know him when I was a young child. I did learn to love my dad, from a distance (he lived all of the way across the country from me), but I was never able to be close with him. My dad was a very damaged and unusual person whom I found difficult to relate to. Mostly, I felt sorry for him, because of his own inability to connect with people in a way that would have been good for him.
My succession of stepfathers were abusive emotionally and in other ways, so none of them ever made up for the deficit of having no father. And, none of my male relatives ever took an interest in me.
When I read your stories, I feel sorry for the suffering that your fathers caused you. My pain is from the lack of having a father and your pain is from having one.
But, as I know, from what I have heard, there are fathers out there who are worth having. I wish that I could have one of them.
Beth <3


Darlene and Carrie H., I am deeply grateful for your honesty. Carrie, the parallels between your father and my own are so striking, the details so similar, that I felt like I was sitting across from my own father in that Italian restaurant.

Several years ago, during a truly dark time, I awoke with these words booming in my ear: “Who will heal the Wounded King?” It was so real, so vivid, I jumped out of bed, ready for trouble, thinking a stranger was in the room, but no: it was actually my disowned soul crying out to me. My father is a Wounded King–and so am I.

But my wounds did not matter to him: I was supposed to “take the good with the bad,” even when my narcissistic mother and enabling family pushed me to the edge of madness and death.

“Don’t let her get to you.”
“If you can’t change your environment, change your attitude.”
“God is love.”

A platitudinous, do-nothing father, incapable of protecting his children, much less himself from his cruel and all-devouring spouse. Oh, I agonized and agonized (and still do, to be honest) on how I could heal this Wounded King, on how, like Parzival, I could ask the right question at the right time, thus “freeing the waters and healing the land.” But I cannot heal a King who refuses to acknowledge his injuries; instead, I had a smiling, jokey patriarch who was ready to bind my horns with red string and usher me into the Wasteland, a scapegoat sacrifice, bearing the sins of my family because I am the freak, the weirdo, the damaged broken sick thing who dared to tell his mother, “No, what you did wasn’t just wrong: it was evil.”

He even accompanied me to my first therapy visit, and I saw this as promising; however, I soon realized that he thought the purpose of therapy was for me to accept my mother’s behavior without expecting her to change. Even now, years later, I can still barely wrap my head around his delusion. Of course, as the fog burns off, trauma survivors often see their dysfunctional parents as they really are: broken, manipulative, irresponsible, ego-driven, and utterly inadequate as guides and mentors. But my father was fixated on the idea that therapy would fix me, as if I was a damaged component, a gear-stripped cog, who could be outsourced, repaired, repacked with grease, and returned to my assigned place in the family machine.

Much of my young adult life has been spent worrying about how I could rescue him, freeing him from the shame and depression that kept him stuck in his own tragic past; and, right there, in that therapist’s office, he had the opportunity for self-encounter, for a journey we could undertake as father and son–and his courage failed. He pushed the truth away, fleeing back to what is toxic and familiar: I am the problem; I am the weakling, the crooked nail, the deluded screw-up. Hurry up; get fixed. Your brokenness is interfering with your duty to us.

I had to cut him and everyone else out of my life–a necessary choice that still pains me, but I, too, am a Wounded King: For the sake of others, I could no longer sacrifice my soul’s sovereignty. It was time to attend to my own spiritual care; and, without any exaggeration, my path to wholeness was a life-and-death struggle. I almost didn’t make it.

I have never written about this before in a public forum, and my purpose is not spiteful; instead, I take courage from Darlene’s example of healing as truth, which is why I am sharing this. If at least one person reading this feels more validated, less alone, then a little Grail energy is released back into the world, and the Wasteland recedes.

With deep respect to all present. In the coming year, may we all drink from the cup of self-compassion.



Your writing is eloquent and touching. I am sorry for all you have gone through with your family. I understand your pain of thinking things could change and be better for you and your father. The idea that you are the broken one that needed fixing. Your father did not realize what a good son he had.

There is one thing that these dysfunctional families cannot allow and that is the truth. You dared to be honest and tell how you felt. This is why this forum is so wonderful. We can speak our truth and be heard and believed.

Best wishes on your journey. Your post made a difference for me.


Jay, wow! You have a gift with words. Our fathers sound so similar. “For the sake of others, I could no longer sacrifice my soul’s sovereignty. It was time to attend to my own spiritual care; and, without any exaggeration, my path to wholeness was a life-and-death struggle. I almost didn’t make it.” I am so glad that you did. Knowing that we aren’t alone on this journey is a huge comfort and I’ve no doubt that your eloquent words will touch others as they did me. We couldn’t save our fathers, but that wasn’t our job anyways. I’m glad we decided to save ourselves instead.


“But my wounds did not matter to him: I was supposed to “take the good with the bad,” even when my narcissistic mother and enabling family pushed me to the edge of madness and death.”

Agreed. I was told to take the good with bad, shit, IDK what the hell people out there are suggesting but it s very dangerous. Like I told people/ex-therapist you’re teaching people/children to put up with this kind of abuse but never put up with friends or employers! It’s very contradicting advice to give to anyone. Yep, everybody got irate when I said that lol.

“A platitudinous, do-nothing father, incapable of protecting his children, much less himself from his cruel and all-devouring spouse.”

Yep, dad kissing mom’s ass and vice versa. For someone to be such a narc knowing everything, he certainly didn’t have a backbone with my mom.

“He even accompanied me to my first therapy visit, and I saw this as promising; however, I soon realized that he thought the purpose of therapy was for me to accept my mother’s behavior without expecting her to change.”

I was told by my dad to accept her behavior and was told that in therapy to “accept my parents’ behavior too.” Funny, you don’t accept a stranger and friend’s behavior like that, but with family it comes as a contract?!?

“Of course, as the fog burns off, trauma survivors often see their dysfunctional parents as they really are: broken, manipulative, irresponsible, ego-driven, and utterly inadequate as guides and mentors.”

Thank you and amen! Been saying this for years! that describes mine also add in: just mere children because they still can’t be adults, “children” raising children/have adult children, gotta live their lives through their children, they are exempt from consequences (yea that is ego driven), etc. Seriously, they are no position to raise children at all why don’t a therapist just come out and admit it instead of kissing their asses and feeling sorry for them?

“I am the problem; I am the weakling, the crooked nail, the deluded screw-up. Hurry up; get fixed. Your brokenness is interfering with your duty to us.”

True. That’s how my “parents” still treat me.


Hi Jay
Welcome to EFB ~ I am glad to have you with us and as others have mentioned, you write beautifully!
Thank you for sharing your story.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you, Andria, Carrie H, Darlene, and Marquis Crumpton. I am honored by your kind words, and I wish you all the best in your personal journeys. Carrie H., I just finished reading your “Bottle Breaker” essay, and I was quite affected by its word choice and central metaphor. And you are right: It is not our job to save our lost fathers.

I am no longer the deeply fragmented man I used to be; but, in all truth, as my life steadily improved, I felt compulsively guilty, as if I should now play the role of the enlightened rescuer, descending on high, with white wings and flaming sword in hand, saving my father, my mother, my whole estranged family from their self-perpetuating hell. As an adult, I can see their unconscious chains; I can see what binds them to fear, pain, and trauma; and I sometimes still hate myself because if only I was more spiritual, more profound, more loving then I could heal all and succor all with love.

That compulsive need to rescue is, of course, a false Self; and, as Darlene reminds us, a relationship is a two-way street. It is not the job of the injured party to make the relationship right, especially when the oppressor is guided by the will-to-power rather than an unconditional will-to-love.

Marquis, I am sorry to hear about your experience with an obviously incompetent therapist.

During one of his lectures, the noted psychologist James Hollis said that none of us walk into therapy on our feet; rather, we crawl in our on our knees. This is why entering therapy is a courageous act, and in the right circumstances, even a sacred one. (Temenos, means sacred place in Attic Greek, and in the parlance of modern depth psychology, it is a place where ego can reconnect with spirit.) However, our society still stigmatizes those who enter therapy, especially men. To seek healing is a courageous act, one that should be celebrated and validated; instead, mediocre humorists still trot out the cliché image of the neurotic lying on the couch while a bearded psychiatrist takes notes. Ha-ha, isn’t that funny, a grown man still whining about his mother. Get over it. Oh, he has OCD, too? Hilarious. What kind of wacko is scared of doorknobs. Oh, he has PTSD? OK, not so funny. In fact, he’s scary. Keep your distance; keep the Taser handy. He might start a rampaging any moment.

So, with these grotesque stereotypes still floating around like so much trash, is it any wonder why people delay life-saving counsel? And if a therapist turns out to be a web-footed quack or our family members monkey-wrench the process, then we, the victims, are pulled that much further away from the waters of life. When I started seeking counsel, I begged and begged my mother to join in me therapy, saying that we would both grow from the experience. This was her response:

“Absolutely not. This is the way I am, and this is the way I want to be. And I’m not changing for your or anyone else!”

When she said these words, my hands began shaking: I knew then that I no longer had a mother.

And here is how my brothers, the Family Hero and the Family Jester, reacted to my seeing a therapist:

“You need to find yourself a different shrink!” said the Family Jester, as he goaded me to swing on him (which I did not, by the way). “You have no right to be angry at this family! No right!”

“My job is protect my mother’s illusions,” said the Family Hero, as he cursed my very existence. “You are nothing without this family! Nothing! Don’t you dare walk away!”

This is the voice of the oppressor: you have no right. You are an object. Take it. Don’t complain. Take these iron shackles. Shut up. Shame on you. Selfish. Bad. Selfish. Bad. Weak.

Well, Hero and Jester, good luck with that, boys (and I do mean that–boys–because you will never become men). Even though you are the favored children, you will spend the rest of your lives as human Caryatids, propping up mom’s pathological ego. I take no pleasure in knowing this; your fate saddens and terrifies me. The poet Kabir knows what happens to those who disown spirit in favor of ego.

[I talk to my inner lover]
By Kabir

I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves
birds and animals and the ants–
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in
your mother’s womb.
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely
orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten
what you once knew,
and that’s why everything you do has some weird
failure in it.

What is sacred within us can never truly be destroyed; it can be hidden by an oppressor’s fog, forgotten, even covered in ice and mud, but it is still there, ready to shine, ready to serve us. Because of my new work schedule, I might not be able to post or respond for a while, but I am indeed privileged to be in such good company. Best of health to you all.


I can so relate to the whole dismissive father thing. My best memory, I am not kidding, is when my father helped me wash my hands once. Once. That’s it. Once.
My father was certainly as destructive as my mother if not more so with his indifference. When I went to him at 19 to tell him I was pregnant (my son was due on Dec 13th and I didn’t want to show up on our one visit a year with a baby) his response was “we aren’t going to be here anyway (so there was no need to tell him I guess).

I finally have wised up and at age 50 when he threw myself and my husband out of his home office when we were visiting, I decided we would never go back.

F…! Him. And we haven’t been back. He is 87 now and lives in another state. His wife is 20 some years younger and takes his crap. I found out on the same trip that they had actually been involved since 1969. It slipped. Talk about having your whole life be a lie.

My husband asks sometimes about calling him on holidays or fathers day etc and I think he finally gets it. Talk about not investing. He has 4 off spring and has nothing to do with any of them except maybe my older sister. And i am pretty sure she is the one who initiates any contact.

I have to mention, none of us talk to any other of us. 4 only children. Interestingly both my parents are only children. Hmmm.

I will overcome and not let him continue the passive abuse (or dismissiveness for sure).

I love my 3 adult children and tell them all the time.I have invested a lot of time their whole lives and more importantly myself. I WILL break the terrible cycle.



Hi Darlene, Carrie and everyone,

You all write so beautifully and this website has changed my life for the better. I thought my life would just go down the drain if it continued the way it was going.

There are so many things that have defined my life that I have never forgotten and it all started when we moved to a posh neighborhood when I was 8. I remember going home crying coz I was bullied by other kids in school and I told my NM and her response was “too bad, deal with it”.

Then when I was 16 and after many, many years of being physically abused, NM was about to give me a huge whack on my face for something she did and I finally found the courage to stand up to her (I have NO idea where the courage came from and it never happened again till now) and I said to her “if you hit me I am going to hit you back” and she just stood there like a stunned mullet with a small gasp out of her mouth.

Now, I am fed up with her last actions in the past 5-6 months. We had a huge fight for something she did again behind my back which I told her more than 20 times not to do and my father and sister are not talking to me coz I finally stood up to her. NM is calling me every 2 weeks to get favours for others and to vacuum me in. I am in so much pain for being treated in such awful ways and I know I have never asked for it. The only reason why I fought her was coz I wanted to be treated well.

As much as my family has hurt me mentally, emotionally and physically, the thing that hurts me the most is that it never stops. The pushiness of NM trying to get her way when clearly I am not interested any more. Yes, I have lost everything and everyone in my life but I feel like I can reverse the effects on my own. I kept telling people that my mother wants me to be miserable but I think not even I really believed it until I found out about NPD’s.

Thank you all for giving me hope xx


P.S. I forgot to mention that my father and I had a great relationship up until my 20’s. I would follow him everywhere and he would explain everything to me and we enjoyed our time together. He even took me places he only took his mates. But at home he only ever stood up for me ONCE (as a teenager)to my NM. After that she really ramped up the cruelty and would verbally threaten to leave us if my father stood up for me again. So after that he sat back and let her go wild.

She even took her suit cases out(empty) and said she was leaving. I had gotten so tired of that trick too so the last time she did it when I was 25 I told her she should leave if she didn’t like it with us and she got furious. She has only gotten worse with time. Now EVERYONE is scared of her and her antics. What happened to men growing some balls? He would rather ruin MY life to make his much easier. Now we don’t talk and I don’t miss him after he asked me to sign my house away to him.

Thanks Hope xx


This Thanksgiving I experienced an “aha!” moment….it all seems so clear to me now that all the pieces fit together so well in the puzzle that IS my dysfunctional family upbringing. Now, since this recent revelation, I have come to realize that it was my father, not so much my mother, who is the main offender and creator of the pain I’m having in my heart right now. This narcissistic man, whom I have felt close with and spoke to every day, has shown himself to my husband and I, and he stubbornly refuses to change his position or views. It’s obvious to all who hear the story, that he should not be backing my sister, who is alone and nasty, but instead should have defended ME! My dad is a control-freak, so all is well as long as you’re doing what HE wants you to do! He, like most men, has a strong need to feel appreciated, and inserts himself where he perceives he is needed. My sister seriously reamed me on the phone (left voicemail) in early Oct– the day before my bday, and accused me of crazy cruel things I did not do! She never apologized, and my father did not recognize her act, nor did he ask her to apologize to me. For the past 40+ years, I thought my dad loved me the best of his 3 daughters, but I was fooled by the master! He is narcissistic, and hurtful. I can see now why my mom strayed from the marriage. He never showed her love. He is a German, stoic, blockhead! I’m sure he feels I am in the wrong for not speaking to him for almost 1 week now, but I’ve decided I will not allow him to hurt me further. Some people will not understand how one can elect to be estranged from a parent, unless they are also a victim of a controlling, unloving, narcissist for a parent. Because of the underlying emotional abuse, I became the loving parent I would have wanted to have. I showed LOVE to my children! They are awesome young people, now in their 20s! They’ve seen how my dad (their Poppy) is your best friend, doing all sorts of generous & caring things for you– UNLESS you do the opposite of what HE wants you to do! He didn’t approve of my husband and I excluding my sister from Thanksgiving dinner, so when asked to confirm that he was (of course) coming– 3 separate times he said, “I’m still thinking about it” Now this is a man who can act (ACT!) very caring one day, and flip the other way the next day simply because he wants to control his daughters. My husband and I told him we would make his decision easier, and said not to bother coming. This of course was put on us to decide! He us basically a coward also. PS his second marriage folded also.
Anyway, some back story is that my dad kicked me out of the family home when I was 21 years old, because I came home in the “wee hours” around 3 or 4 am. It was the night my boyfriend and I were breaking up after 5 years together! Through my tears, I saw the suitcases sitting in the front hall, and even as I approached the house, I could smell the coffee through the locked screen door. (I had to ring the bell!) My sister, only 1 year younger, refuses to remember this story, I guess because she prefers to be the only “victim” of this family. Maybe it’s that she can’t get over the fact that this thing happened to me, yet I overcame it, became strong and today prosper with an awesome family. (I was put out and lived on my own for 2 years, it wasn’t easy!) Yesterday when we spoke about it, she kept trying to justify why it was reasonable for our father to do this to his daughter, and said “oh…well ok yeah, you were not being obedient, so…” The difference between us is– I didn’t go around wearing the “victim” label on my sleeve my whole life! The experience helped me grow, but my own daughter is 21, and I’d never dream of asking her to endure that kind of heartache & stress! Since I’ve gone “no contact” with my father a week ago, I’ve been really ok. I’m less uptight, and although the revelation that he loves himself more than he loves his 3 daughters was a tough nut to swallow, it has helped put things into perspective much better. I can see clearly now! My husband is very hurt by him too. The father in law whom we had known has shown us he is incapable of respecting anyone but himself! He will dig his heels in, this is for sure. I will mourn the loss of my LIVING father, but I will celebrate the birth of my healthy new life! The dysfunction stops here! It feels great…..Donna H, in NY


Hi Donna
Welcome to Emerging from Broken. Thank you for sharing your story here. Realizing this kind of truth is never easy, is it but as you say, once things are in perspective, it is so much easier to move forward with higher self-esteem and a clear attitude!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Donna! Congrats on the AHA! moment. I see bits and pieces of my story in yours. These dysfunctional families have such massive entanglements it is no wonder that it takes us forever to figure out what is what! Plus with the main puppet master and the “henchmen”doing their bidding; it takes a strong and capable person to pull out of the mess!

I am so happy for you that you feel great and you have decided that the dysfunction stops! It is painful to realize that your own parent is so unloving. I am quite sure that my family and my sister-in-law blame me for the “problems” in the families. Well, yes, I was the one that went NC so I will take the title of “problem”: and I will wear it like a badge of honor!

Wow, that is rough stuff being kicked out of your “father’s” home at 21 because you came home “too late” for him to accept. The only thing to do was kick you out of the family? If you don’t mind writing this part of your story, I would love to hear how you got back “in” to the family. Yes, I agree with you that your father is a coward.

Your sister not wanting to remember and recount the story of your expulsion from the home is par for the course. Welcome to the world of selective memory. I have much experience with family members having this affliction. If they can’t remember what you are talking about; then you are the one who is bat crap crazy for bringing up old stuff that nobody cares about anyway! I believe I understand your sister. She sounds so much like my own sister.

Good luck to you in your healthy new life! I am glad that you feel so great after the Thanksgiving drama!


Hi Darlene!
Thank you for your reply! I was always the different one, if you will, and what is most difficult is when you start to lower your guard and begin sharing with friends or co-workers who just don’t get it! They perceive me then as paranoid or sensitive. Well yes I’m sensitive (in a good way) but not overly sensitive because the two are vastly different! Being accused of being “sensitive” is somewhat of a trigger word to some people, others use it to shut you down so you act how THEY want you to act. I feel that being sensitive means you’re receptive, observant, etc. and I treat others with respect also since I’m so sensitive to others’ needs too. Many people just want to go through life not making waves. I give so much of myself and expect only minor things in return. I know this forum is the answer to helping me feel better!! Thank you!!
Donna H


Thanks Andria! I sincerely appreciate your support! You write so well! I hope you are feeling better too, just as I am, simply because of this site, and realizing those here all have so much in common. We are all assertive, smart, and just plain understand what love is, and what love is NOT! Thanks again to all who understand my little stress in a life otherwise filled with countless blessings!
Donna 🙂


Donna H,

You are very welcome. Thank you for the complement on my writing. I am feeling better now that Thanksgiving is over. I have had more that one drama surrounding this holiday. I felt very raw on Thanksgiving Day. I think that next year will be better! That’s the way it seems to be going anyway.

Yes, when you know what love is and what love is not; it is so difficult to go into a family situation where you know there is no love, no caring, not even a bit of respect. Please do not underestimate this stress that you feel around your family. I too have a life filled with many blessings, but this stuff concerning one’s FOO is really at the heart of many things affecting our lives: both good and bad. It is when the bad so out weighs the good is when many people opt out of associating with their families.

Darlene and her EFB has been a blessing in my life. I have found other helpful sources online and in books, but having a discourse with people with similar situations is invaluable to me. Donna, I am glad you have raised your voice against emotional abuse.



Andria–Oh. Em. Gee!!! This morning I happened to casually share with my mom on the phone that I was feeling better since I began interacting with others online who have similar problems or rather THEY are considered the family problem.(like me) I was so excited as I told her I finally feel like someone else understands what I’m going through. (PS I’d never share which site!) Well. Obviously I was temporarily insane to imagine my mother would agree this was a good thing– after all, she never ever had my back in anything before. Here’s the kicker: I told her I haven’t spoken with dad in about 8-10 days (we usually spoke at least 2xper day)
So she says “oh wow, I hope he doesn’t have a heart attack.” I said “excuse me!? What was that?” She said it again. I hung up. Done! The sadder part is that I was so shocked because actually my OWN husband is dealing with serious heart issues right now yet this apparently isn’t on her mind. (Yet guess what– SHE CHEATED ON HIM AFTER 27 years of marriage! She’s in another state with the “John”) My husband said “oh that’s amusing–she’s worried about his heart NOW?! What about when she cheated on him?” I said oh man why didn’t I think of saying that! (I can never come up with these awesome responses AT that moment!) My husband is just far enough from the pain of this that he can think more clearly of a reply while I’m just sitting there shocked as usual at what is coming at me! I still always give the benefit of the doubt and I imagine it will be ok some day. I’m still holding out hope that one day those 4 people (mom dad 2 sisters) will come running towards me in slow motion, arms stretched out saying “We are so sorry we failed you! You’re awesome! We should have defended you! We can’t believe how hurt you must feel! Please! We beg you to talk to us! Take us baaaack!!” and then…I woke up!
I’ll be seeing my son in a few short hours– gotta run. Gotta start cooking the big meal! Thank you to you, and to all my new caring friends!! I feel better! I will read other stories and try to help soon too! I just got Darlene’s book and will start reading tonight! Excited!
Donna H



Wow! As a person who never got any support from my family or my husband’s family, I understand what you felt like when your mother “acted” concerned about your father’s heart! Well like I have said many times in my life about my FOO and my husband’s FOO: it’s all about them all the time. You know a person gets very weary with dealing with this stuff for decades.

I am very sorry about your husband’s heart issues. I hope he will be okay. I am glad that you feel better. Just getting your story out to people who have had the same experiences is very helpful and healing. That is great that you got Darlene’s book and you are excited about getting started on it. Take care.


Well stated, Carrie, and thank you, Darlene. I’ve had a similar experience with my father. If he is afraid he will “get in trouble” with my mom, he will throw me under the bus every time. For example, my dad offered to pay for a family vacation in Hawaii for my mom’s birthday. I only agreed because he offered to pay –there is no way I could afford that by myself. But when it came time to organize it, he said it was too expensive and I said, well, then I can’t come. Then he sends an email to everyone saying I “backed out”, and my mom really lets me have it. :’-( So painful. But he wouldn’t take the blame because he’s afraid of my mom. I have no contact with my mom at the moment, and very little with my dad. I found Carrie’s mention of her dad’s yearning for spirituality very poignant, because my dad is the same –always seeking fulfillment (in meditation, in veganism, etc.), but never finding it because he cannot admit to himself the truth about where his pain is coming from.


I feel like I am winded with pain reading this. My father was passive as well. I remember lying in bed one night, we were on a trip somewhere and my parents were sleeping in the same room.
“I do not love you anymore. Do you understand me? I don’t love you. I do not love you. I do not love you.” Her voice was low, metered, slow, so deliberate. She kept saying it, over and over and over. My dad quietly agreed. “Mmm. Mmhmm.” Not a hint of sarcasm or irritation. Just quietly listening and acknowledging her words.

Another time, she rolled around on the floor, drunk, on pills, her robe half open, breast spilling out. “You’re the devil, sent here to sabotage me.” She kept saying it. She was not a drug addict or a regular user of any kind. My parents were decent, Christian people. My mother was just full of pain. So is my father. Just broken people. She just broke down.

I have recollections of being huddled in a corner with my two crying sisters as my mother held a knife to my dad, his grasp on her wrists, keeping her from hurting him. I think this happened a few times.

He never said anything. Never yelled, never argued, never fought. Never stood up for himself.

She poisoned my mind against my dad. Today, I oscillate between loving my mom and hating my dad, and hating my mom while loving my dad. One of them is to blame. One of them has to be the bad guy. Which is it? I lie awake with vicious, hateful thoughts that rage through my mind with such force that I cry in frustration for them to leave me in peace. I am so twisted I can barely breathe.


I’m late to the conversation but I too have a weak father who I once believed was the greatest guy ever,never has a guy broke my heart in all my 42yrs of life the way my father has. Growing up my narc mother would fly into rages over the slightest things,it didn’t matter if it was Christmas or a birthday celebration,we tiptoed around daily.somedays you were loved other days you were left with your head spinning wondering what the hell happened.I always felt bad for my father when she raged at him,he would just take what ever she dished out without saying a word back.Long story short..my father now is her sidekick,he works for her.She gets her kicks off when he treats his daughter like dirt,she rewards him with her effection,in front of me,it’s disgusting.they are sick


I too know all to we’ll the pain of my father taking a seat when he should of been protecting me.I’m still in this mess,right I’m the middle.it was only a few months ago I learned there was a term for my nm and I also just learned the term Gaslighting.growing up my mother would rage over the slightest things and still does,it used to be my father who took most of the abuse,he would take whatever she dished out and never stand up for himself,I always felt bad for him and would go off and cry somewhere.Years later mother is the same only worse and it is no longer my father she scolds it’s me,I walk on eggshells knowing she’s a ticking time bomb and will blow at anytime.She can dish our but she sure won’t take it,at least not without revenge anyways which is what led me to searching how could a parent do such nasty things to her child.She rewards my father with her love if he treats me like dirt,I used to worship the ground he walked on now I fear him..and her.they love drama,the more the better but know if u play that game there’s no winning.over the years my stuff would come up missing and I knew the only people around my stuff was them,I let it go sooo long because I didn’t wanna hurt them by saying I knew ,in my head I thought they would see their wrong doing and stop.well it didnt,over many years I’ve lost alot and they aren’t the kind of people that NEED.They live in a house that’s paid off,both drive nice cars they can afford their own and I struggle just to survive.The latest things they have taken from me was the breaking point,I had a house fire back awhile ago and put my stuff into storage,meanwhile I took my pictures and left them at their house (pictures of daughter’s from birth all the way into their 20s) while I got onto my feet,I never once thought they would take something that would break my heart like that.They walk around as if it dont bother them,all while I can’t even sleep over this loss.I lost some of my memory when my daughter’s were little due to having ect.treatment so those pictures were everything to me.ECT treatment (depression that started due to them).I don’t understand.I’ve went to their house and picked my items out of their lawnsale.My dishes are in the cupboard.they stole my computer.they are very sick people and they have not just taken belongings but my trust in everyone.I sleep with my purse.my face is numb,I’m easily startled,I’ve been thinking perhaps I’m going thru ptsd.they’ve really messed me up but they (esp.my mother) walks around acting like she’s the victim,I can’t even have my own emotions,I don’t know how to deal with this.sorry for rambling..

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