When Mothers Blame Others for their own Disgraceful Behavior


Blog pic 1My Mother Blamed Me for her Disgraceful Behavior

I was lying in bed the other morning and this phrase “when mothers blame others” kept running through my mind as though some unknown source was whispering at me to write about it. I agreed that it would make a catchy title but I questioned why it was running through my head in the first place.

And then I laughed!

This idea is so prevalent that it’s a wonder it isn’t in my head all the time. Survivors of dysfunctional mother daughter relationships can’t escape the constant reminder that some mothers will blame anyone and everyone as long as they don’t have to look at their own actions. It is still frustrating to me that no matter what proof I had, no matter how many times I tried to explain the situation, no matter how much I defended myself, my mother blamed me OR she blamed something or someone else for HER decisions and behavior.

And although this problem is more widely discussed when it is the adult daughter who is targeted and blamed, this happens very often with adults sons as well. This isn’t exclusive to mothers who blame daughters, but very often fathers blame daughters and or sons as well. Sometimes ALL the children in the family are blamed and defined as “the problem” and sometimes only one or two of them are singled out and blamed and defined as “the problem” in the family.

Many adult children of Narcissistic mothers know this all too well and although my mother is not a true narcissist (because she has total control over her actions), she fits the narcissistic mother pattern of not taking responsibility for her own actions that have ultimately led to the failure of our relationship. Most importantly for the purpose of this article is the fact that the results have been the same with my mother and I as they are with others who do have more typically narcissistic mothers.

When children (of any age) are blamed and labeled as the problem, a burden or “less important’ than the parents, the damage to the self-esteem and overall emotional wellbeing of the child is substantial!

And the treatment and tactics used by the parents are so typical that it is almost as though there is secret manual that these mothers (parents) subscribe to. A manual endorsing that parents have the right to do this stuff and act this way with their children without any consequences to themselves! 

The children of these mothers, MEN and WOMAN who have been blamed as children for the ways in which we have been treated, are blamed as adults as well;

Our mother’s (and fathers) will defend themselves over and over again pointing fingers and spewing the venom that we have had to cope with for most of our lives that for some reason we are responsible for the way that they regard us.  And if ever you succeed in presenting so much truth that they can’t wiggle out of it, (which happens rarely) then suddenly the focus will switch and everyone else is responsible for the way that they treat us. Mothers will blame someone else but we are never allowed to place blame on anyone but ourselves. We are told to be accountable for the results in our lives without ever having been heard, helped or validated for the emotional difficulties that we have had and very often these emotional difficulties have been at the hands of our own parents.

I have been told of countless mothers who openly blame their children for ruining their lives just by being born. These children have been blamed for failed marriages and relationships between mothers and fathers, mothers and boyfriends, mothers and their sisters and mothers and their other children! These children have been blamed for headaches, bad moods, not enough money (because of YOU) and children who have been blamed for the emotional state of their mothers. And these children have grown up feeling guilty, feeling ashamed of themselves, feeling that they are not good enough, and not worthy of happiness ~ all because they have been blamed so much for the results in their mothers lives. They have been blamed so much and learned to try so hard that they don’t know the truth anymore. They have been steeped in lies; brainwashed to believe that the root of the problem is in them.

It’s like an epidemic in this world. ‘Mothers who Blame Others’ could be the name of a 12 step group ~ but sadly, not many mothers are interested in getting support for themselves AS a mother who blames her children ~ they are far more interested in garnering support from people who AGREE with them that their children are ungrateful, selfish etc. 

Looking at ourselves as the cause of the difficulties in our relationships with our mothers is the way we are groomed to stay in the ever dizzying constant spin designed to ensure that we NEVER look at them. Because after all, if we look at them, if we come out of that spin long enough to EVER see them and the way that THEY are, they know we might see the truth.

And the truth is that most of them know that they blame others and they know that they are mean and unfair, or they know that they are needy and that they are wrong but they can’t stand to see it, so they spend their time getting others to agree with them that someone else is the problem. They know, and the proof of that is in their actions; it is in the way we are raised not to tell, in the way that they act differently in front of different people and in the way that they lie when they are afraid to get caught.

If they didn’t KNOW, they wouldn’t act differently in front of certain people, they would not teach children to cover up for them and they certainly wouldn’t have to lie. 

Deep down they know that they are pathetic. But as long as YOU don’t notice that, they feel safe. The more people that they can get to go against their target, (which in this case is you) the more they feel worth; it’s not REAL worth and it doesn’t actually make them feel better for long because it isn’t actually proof that they have worth. Deep down they KNOW that they are pathetic, but when mothers blame others, they can get their little fix with the drug of self-worth. If they can make you take the blame, then they believe that the blame belongs to you, or to the person they are blaming thus absolving them from having to carry it.

This is the cycle of abuse. Perhaps mothers who blame others have never been validated as having had worth. I more than suspect that their own mothers made them prove their worth and usually they were raised in the same dysfunctional family pecking order system BUT that doesn’t change or excuse the damage caused to the children born and raised by these mothers with low self-esteem and damaged self-worth, who blame their own children for the failure of the mother daughter or mother /son relationship.  I had to do the work to restore my self-esteem so that I could break this cycle of abuse in my own family. I did not require my children to prove my worth using these sick methods and my mother had the same choices I did.

Although there might be a personality disorder or psychosis behind the reason that causes mothers to blame others and to act in such mean and unloving ways, knowing that is only information. It may help us understand the why, and it may be comforting but it doesn’t help with the healing process. And there is never any excuse to have to put up with abuse. If a violent person has a true mental disorder or chemical imbalance, that person is not permitted to run around in society. The laws still apply to genuinely sick people.

These mothers might be seriously emotionally damaged themselves; most of them come from the same cycle of abuse that they inflicted on us, but that knowledge doesn’t stop the cycle of abuse. The cycle of abuse will only stop when we stand up to it. I feel sad for my mother because I know she learned this dysfunctional behavior and I know that she lives in a system where parents are ‘entitled’ to dish out whatever they wish to their kids but I had to draw a line and say enough is enough. Feeling sad for her was killing me. Always trying to make her feel better taught my kids to put up with mistreatment because they saw the way I put up with her treatment. And it also sent a strong message to my children about how I was willing to be treated!

When I dared to voice an objection, my mother would blame the fact that she was a single mother. (my parents separated just before I turned 13.) She justified her choices when it came to me with the fact that she didn’t ‘want’ to be a single mother and that she never expected to be a single mother and by the way, about that, as with everything else there is a truth leak there too; she had an affair after I was born ~ what did she think was going to happen? Whose fault was it that she became a single mother? Why did she constantly SAY things like that as though the fact that she was a single mother justified her actions and treatment of her children. 

So in order to take my life back, I embraced the truth; my mother blamed me instead of looking at HER own dysfunctional upbringing and working through it. My mother blamed me instead of looking at her own actions against me. My mother expected ME to save her, instead of making the decision to save herself.

Please share your thoughts.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

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

 See coloured links in bold print for related articles.

Other Related Articles ~ “Is there such a thing as Justifiable Anger for Victims of Child Abuse?”  


Categories : Mother Daughter



I am getting frustrated with the whole concept of blame & accountability. Maybe they’re different concepts.

I know that everything in my life isn’t someone else’s fault, but it’s not ALL my fault either. In a lot of my relationships there is no room for “we both messed up part of this”. Neither is there room for “how do we resolve it and reconnect?”

I’m glad that I’ve finally reached a point of healing, but I didn’t stop the cycle, and I still feel sad about that. I wanted to do better, but I didn’t know how soon enough.

Darlene, this is a great article and I agree with you. I have a very selfish mother, and I’ve been a selfish mother at times. So whenever you talk about mothers, I have to look in a mirror and wrestle with how to take responsibility for my own errors without carrying the whole weight of my relationships by myself.

On the other side of the coin, whenever my husband & I have an argument, we both find ourselves saying we’re sorry before long. We each can safely see our own piece of the problem and work together to understand each other, even if we still disagree.

I’m not sure if I’m emotionally prepared yet to feel safe in owning my own piece of the problem in other relationships because I feel that those others are neither willing to own their piece, nor willing to forgive or understand.

Newer friends seem to be better at this mutual responsibility thing.



Hi Darlene,
Mothers who blame others clearly lack responsibility.In the park,i overheard a mother talking very loudly on the phone,complaining to a friend about her 30 year old daughter.When she was 16,her daughter fell in love with a violent boy and she ran away with him,despite her mother’s advice.As expected,her marriage turned abusive,she got hit etc.Now the mother blames the daughter for not obeying her.What the mother refused to see was that obedience stood at the root of the problem.The mother wasn’t willing to look at the fact that she raised her daughter to be obedient in general:towards her parents and her future husband.If the daughter had been taught to respect herself first,she would never have put up with a violent boy in the first place.She would have seen the red flag right from the start.

Hearing that phone conversation,i badly wanted to approach the mother and tell her that she ruined her daughter’s life and that she has no right to blame her daughter with the eternal “i told you so”.In this case,the mother didn’t admit her part in educating her daughter the wrong way.She kept on telling how hard it was for her to raise a daughter who was now getting what she deserved for not obeying her mother.What a blind mother! How easily she dumped responsibility on her daughter’s shoulders! What a martyr she made herself to be:the grieving mother who witnesses her daughter being abused.

Teaching self respect and self confidence to children would make them so much safer in their adult years,especially when they choose a future husband or wife.


Laura – oddly enough, I think you revealed something to me that I hadn’t quite connected for myself.

I wanted desperately to teach my children differently. Both my daughters ended up with abusive husbands and I think it may have been that while I tried to treat them with more respect than I had when I was growing up, I continued to MODEL compliance.

I didn’t recognize what I was doing at the time, but it makes a little more sense now.

Right now, I feel like my girls will listen to anyone except me. I’m not saying “I told you so” because I didn’t. I kept ignoring my own gut and giving people the benefit of the doubt and going through the wringer. I always waited too long to stand up for myself and tried to forgive too easily.

Teaching self-respect and self-confidence needs to be taught through a position of self-respect.

I don’t believe that anyone ever deserves abuse. I wish I’d conveyed that better.


Hi Hobie and Laura
Hobie, the majority of my re-learning to do relationship has been about owning ONLY my part of the problem. There is some major difficulty there due to the fact that most of the world has been led to believe in the pecking order system in relationship; this means that the underling is the one that expected to be sorry. Very often there needs to be mutual apologies in adult relationships. (however that gets difficult in parent child relationships when there is a lot of damage. In the case of most of what I am talking about in this website, the parents are not willing (in your case YOU are willing) and that seems to be one of the huge problems. This is such a difficult issue to go into.

Laura, yes, self respect etc has to be ‘modeled’ in order for kids to actually ‘get it’.

Thanks for sharing.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Hobie
I mention in this post that my kids were seeing exactly HOW my mother treated me. This was a huge huge problem when I began my recovery. They had seen their entire lives that I ‘took it’ when my mother dished it out. They saw me comply to the in laws the same way. So although I taught them one way, I lived another… and you know the rest. :/
Great comments!
hugs, Darlene


This post really spoke to me. My mother forever blamed my father for all her bad choices. Granted he was an emotionally abusive, violent man. Textbook narcissist. She married young at 20 to get out of the house, a man 7 years older who had shown her in advance his violent abusive side. As she began to cope in numerous bad ways, lying, stealing, cheating with a boyfriend, forging his name…etc, she always blamed the results of this behavior on him. She was obese, but ate to cope with his treatment. The list goes on and on.
In some ways she convinced me he was all bad and she was all good, until he died and I saw the abuse from her was her choice and had been all along.

When I brought up the fact that she never hugged or kissed me as a child, she said I was unhuggable – (she blamed the child, me). I sat with my mouth open.
When I was thrown out and got pregnant at 18, she said “you should have known better”. How? She never taught me anything except to be obedient. To never question. Never say will upset the abuser. Any and all of my emotional issues growing up in that negligent, violent house were all my fault somehow…I was somehow defective, always her “problem’. Nothing was because of her actions, lack of action or bad choices.
My self harming behavior was used as proof of my badness. It was genetic or learned behavior according to her. The way I was treated had nothing to do with it.

She actually told my husband when we were married that I was “his problem now.”
Its so funny to hear you use the term, the problem, for that would be how I would have described myself. It is so far from reality it speaks to the amount of brainwashing I underwent from her. And yet even as “the problem”, I was the one called when work was needed.
She gave me just enough attention that I kept trying to win her love and approval, when all along she didn’t like me at all.
Three years ago I respectfully tried to fix our relationship, that of me being a scapegoat doormat that can never make a good choice. To no avail. She literally ignored my words, like they were not spoken and changed the subject. Still in denial. But it did make me see finally that she will never take any responsibility for her actions and choices that so hurt me so much.


Hobie..I too was taught obedience and compliance even when it was detrimental to me as a person. ‘No’ was not allowed. I only realized this problem with no being unsafe this year when I had a full panic attack at work when standing up to a customer. It was thoroughly set in my head very young..never upset the abuser, never talk back and after it is all over, forget it happened. Hold no one to accountability. She taught me that. That set me up to be abused over and over in relationships, friendships, at work. Im learning to hold people accountable now for their actions as
I have always been. Accountability is a two way street. I never knew that.



That sounds like something my mother would do if I chose to marry. She married an abuser at a young age, too, had three children (me included) and stayed with him for over twenty years until she separated, then divorced him. Ever since childhood, she would gripe to me about my father and would show movies to my sister and me that depicted monstrous husbands and victim wives, and tell us not to end up like the wives. Looking back, she indoctrinated against abusive husbands so much that I wonder if she’s a misandrist. Oddly, my older brother is an abusive husband (not physically, but verbally) to his wife, and bullies his sons, yet he gets a pass and is our mother’s darling.

Even at 27, I feel that she sees me as a naughty child to discipline. When I moved out of her place a few weeks ago, she asked me if I hated her. I told her many times why I want little to do with her and how much she hurt me, but she still doesn’t seem to get it. I decided to not waste my time repeating myself. Strange that it’s bad for someone else to hurt me, but it’s okay for her to treat me like she owns me and that I must obey her. My older siblings practically worship her, but they’re free to compromise themselves to win her shallow approval if they wish. I rather be disliked for who I am than to be liked for who I’m not. Besides, if I’m so bad, why does she want a relationship with me?


Hi Karen
You nailed it with your response to her statement that you should have known better; HOW? exactly! And if it was learned behaviour, lets look at where and how it was learned. Where exactly did we learn everything? I learned to hate myself because I was blamed and I believed that it was my fault. (re- self harming) Freedom is knowing the truth. The truth set me free to finally embrace myself and move forward with real life.
Thank you for sharing!
hugs, Darlene
p.s. thank you so much for the gift you sent me today!


The question you ask at the end (if I am so bad why does she want a relationship with me?) was one of the things I pondered when I was coming out of the brainwashing… and that question was a jumping off point for many insights.
Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene


I have the hardest time with the blaming. It still sticks with me, eats at me. I think part of it is because they use bits and pieces of truth to sidestep the real issues. I guess it’s like your mom saying that she was a single mom. Of course the truth is if she had tried her best, took responsibility for her reality, did everything she could do to love and care for you, listened to you when you were hurting, put herself in your shoes, recognized your pain, apologized for real, and did her best to make changes to better suit you (and that was obvious to you because you could feel it), because she really did love you and want the best for you, it would go without saying that you would hold onto the knowledge that she was a single mom and yes, that’s a tough job (without her ever having to tell you). When people are sincere, you give them cushioning, you start to recognize their reality (if you didn’t already)—I mean, if you’re being reasonable and you want and are ready for reconciliation, it will come naturally. It’s how relationships work best. It doesn’t take away your experience. It just adds another level. But it’s another conversation and not something that should be pushed on people. It has to suit the needs of the person who has been wronged. Also, like you said to Hobie, it’s a different dynamic between parents and children, than two adults. If my brother was ever able to understand and see my reality, how we’d go about resolving our alienation would be different. It’s not a child’s job to understand why their parents abused them; it’s the parents’ job not to abuse them. It’s a generosity on the child’s part to be open to understanding (sometimes, often times, it becomes a component of the abuse/exploitation/manipulation). I think it’s a necessity that the parent understand that that is a generosity on the child’s part (and that it shouldn’t actually be a significant part of their life, particularly if they’re young). The child did nothing to deserve the abuse. Yes, there are reasons but it has nothing to do with the child. And the child needs to feel that. Everything else is secondary. It must be established absolutely and without a doubt that the child did nothing wrong on any level to deserve the pain they experienced, etc. I’d hope that if the parent really wanted to work things out and was open, that the child would be, too. I know sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, and it seems to me it often has to do with a larger power structure in place that’s been solidified in the child’s belief system, such that you get pigeonholed into a role and no one will treat you otherwise.


I couldn’t agree more with this article. I think that in this time with the internet and sharing of info that it has made it ‘easier’ well that’s not the right word really it is not easy but certainly we have more awareness now in these times to identify abuse as wrong and seek healing and the choice of standing up against family dysfunction and not to repeat this cycle. Having said that my mother has had 3 years now of information being presented to her and remainder family in support of my stand against abuse & the dysfunction in our family so she now has equal opportunity of awareness to rectify her past errors yet chooses not to. So it is a personal strength those who make this stand have as opposed to those that choose to ignore the truth and refuse to acknowledge their wrongs/errors damage done. I say this coming from the point of view of a child estranged from her parents and a mother who WAS estranged from her own daughter. Yes i hurt you i did do that i am sorry. and mean it. how hard can that be if you love someone to be sorry for damaging them. its a matter of self forgiveness & love/care of your child. Yet our mothers care more for their own self image than loving us their children clearly that is what i have now accepted to be the case.


Hi All,

Yes, I was always labelled as the “problem”. This article really hit home for me. I questioned the fact that if I was so hated and unwanted as a child, why didn’t my parents give me up for adoption? Obviously, they never wanted me and there was no real love between us. My selfish Narc parents always blamed me for their money issues. (Then it got worse with me being physically assaulted and verbally assaulted since I was the “problem”).In actuality, there were no real serious money issues going on, and it was all about greed—(plus I was an only child). Whatever they had was never enough. My parents were frugal and my mom pushed my father into working abroad in a foreign country for a higher salary. It was always about their big luxury house and that grownup word “entertaining” with the upper class neighbors. I was never like them and I don’t know why they were my parents. It’s funny how my mom always complained about money but she never worked at a real career. No, she was way too selfish and greedy to actually work. It was far easier to manipulate and control my father to give her everything. Of course, I was viewed as the live-in maid for my parents.

I was constantly told to my face that if I had never been born then they could buy a bigger and more luxurious house. They told me that they would have lived more years abroad, working, shopping, and traveling if I had never been born. My mom would get very mad whenever I would ask for my minimal needs, like school clothes, school supplies, textbooks, cosmetics and other basics. I was labelled a spoiled brat for never appreciating these basic items enough which I had to fight for to exist. She was able to buy house decorations and shopping for herself but that was fine for her.

The worst part was not the materialism. My Narc father had problems too, but I believed that we were all playing some kind of complicated card game. The rules were that the queen (my mom) always won and that I was such a minor number card that nobody cared about. My parents could be considered as the king and queen cards and my mom’s trashy family were forever above me in this card game.

I can remember visiting my father’s cousins in another state and overhearing part of their conversation as they were talking in the kitchen. My angry father began shaming me in front of these strangers saying how his horrible brat daughter simply “hates her mother”. Note how I never had the chance to introduce myself and let them form their own opinion about me. I shut the guest bedroom door in horror and threw myself down on the bed crying. Once again, my reputation was ruined without even giving me a fair chance. I wondered why my own biological father could hate me so much as to shame me in front of these distant relations. Just for once couldn’t he have pretended to be nice? Most people with brat kids (not me) like to lie and show off just how wonderful their son/daughter is. I was an excellent student and quiet, nice with no drug issues, no teen pregnancy, no criminal background—-nothing! I believe that both my parents enjoyed publicly shaming me with these kinds of incidents in front of strangers, such as neighbors and distant relations. Interesting how I kept my mouth shut and NEVER publicly shamed my parents in front of strangers. It was more like trying to pretend that we’re all just normal people without any major problems! Go figure!

I can recall just how irrational they both were in their daily lives. I hated the evening dinner hour and the TV news was always turned on during the dinner hour. Then there was fighting and screaming over this stupid politician and news story and somehow I was blamed for all of the bad politics in my country. Everything was always my fault. It never ended.

There was never any real love that I felt for my parents ever, only fear. I tried going to these lousy therapists years ago and they never understood anything. A woman therapist was really curious and continually asked me when did my relationship with my parents go so bad? When could I recall that I stopped any love or emotion towards them? I tried to explain to her that there was NEVER any love or any emotional bond among us. I don’t understand why that is so hard to understand. I only felt fear and anger towards them and not much has changed through the years.

My fears now are dealing with elderly parents. They have an elderly advocate volunteer trying to explain the health care system to them. I don’t know if I will have to be involved with them or not. I feel like there is a final showdown with them before it’s all over. It’s so hard to put on a brave face and pretend at my age that we’re all so close and that word “love” exists. I have survived so much and it’s still not over. Thanks for reading.

Blessed Be!


Darlene-I first came across your website about 8 months ago-and it was so breathtakingly honest and full of information (a road map) that I so desperately needed.It was all too much for me to take in at once…but I kept on coming back…spending more and more time each visit. I am 46 and only recently came across NPD and other personality disorders. It was such a HUGE relief to have the pieces of the puzzle fall into place but…I too, have some serious doubts. I have read a lot about NPD but…there’s the denial, outright lies (gaslighting), acting differently in front of different people etc etc. So there has to be some awareness but there is never any accountability…only blame. I was the scapegoat…from my birth onward and have been NC now for about 9 years. With everyone…the FOO and extended…there were too many Flying Monkeys and other such things. I was ostracized and made an outcast (which, in retrospect, has been a blessing) but the pain is there. And now I am sifting through the quagmire of false beliefs…it feels like a HUGE ball of yarn all tangled up…one false belief feeding into another into another. It’s exhausting to go through it…draining. But…it’s where I ma on my healing journey right now. Thank you SO much for the work you do, for being so brutally honest and compassionate and detailed. It has helped me so very very much. xxx


P.S. Another thing I am realizing is that as a child, we needed denial as a coping mechanism…to survive. But now…slowly, the denial is falling away in layers. Is there anything I can specifically do to aid the process? To assist the process? I really should have no issues with denial if I look at the bare bone FACTS of how I have been treated from a child onward…but I still get in a fog at times and …there are still layers of denial. Thanks so much!


I think what was hard for me was accepting the fact that just because I saw how sick and dysfunctional my relationship with my mother was didn’t mean that she was willing to do the same thing. I finally realized that for her to admit any wrong doing on her part was equivalent to a death sentence in her eyes. She has lied to herself for the last 48 years telling herself what a wonderful mother she is and now here I am telling her that there are some things that she did wrong that hurt me very badly and she will continue to deny until she dies and blame all of her shame on me because that is the only way that she knows how to survive and unfortunately because she is unwilling to allow herself to go to that place of truth she is going to lose her daughter in the end because now I finally figured out that there is no way to have any type of relationship other then a sick and dysfunctional one with her unless she is willing to face the truth about how abusive she really was. She rather lose her daughter then do that.

How sad is that because all she would have to do is admit that she was wrong and try to make it up to me and then we could move on but then I catch myself and I see that is how healthy normal people live not ones who suffered from generational abuse and then the reality of just how futile this whole thing really is sets in with me. There will be no happy ending to this. It’s just plain old sick and sad.



You pulled out of my head the very thing that still weighs on my heavy. Mom is deceased now and I look back at all her actions over the years and say wow. When my brother was murdered 35 years ago, I was the lsst to see him, she asked what his actions were, I told her peculiar, he kept peering through the curtain and pacing around and glancing at the phone on the wall, I asked him several times what was up. She told me not to tell the detectives about that. Turns out she had known that men were following him at his work, he delivered things for a company. His boss told her to tell him to stop scaring the girls at work with his story of being followed. She picked him up one day and he said Mom there they are, she gave him crap and told him to knock it off. That was 35 years ago. It makes sense she wouldn’t want anyone to know she might have prevented it had she believed her child. Worst part, when she got real stupid she swore he comitted suicide. Neighbors to us heard a ruckus that night, that’s as far as the investigation got because of information that was withheld. What Mom protects her own ass and makes her child lie preventing killers from possibly getting caught?


Hi Darlene, It’s amazing how people can get so focused on blame that the true problems are never addressed and often, forever buried in “who should be blamed”. I agree that being abused is not an excuse to abuse. I don’t think it is really the reason people become full-fledged abusers either. Neither is mental illness or brain deformities. People choose to abuse because they want to control others and find it an effective way to get their needs met. Such people don’t just abuse their children, they will abuse anyone they can get away with abusing and using. Genetics and environment have a strong influence but neither is the deciding factor.

No matter what my parents did to me, I never blamed them for who I became as an adult. I blame them for the bad information their abuse taught me and I blame them for not doing their part in our relationship. I blame them for not owning up to their own behavior. I could have become a full-fledged abuser too but that was never what I wanted. Not that I’m pure, I’m not. I have hurt others but not with the intent of using them to get what I wanted or needed. No matter what happened to me in life, that just isn’t who I am. The cycle of abuse stops here because I am accountable for only, my own actions. I can only address the issues that reside in me. It’s up to every other family member to do the same, if they choose to. It’s the last part that is hard to accept because too often, people choose to blame others.


p.s. As a trained scape-goat, I tend to get focused on blaming me and that wrong-headed exercise has the same affect as focusing on blaming others. It confuses the issue and obscures the problem that needs to be faced and dealt with. Blame is a waste of time. Accountability is based in truth and has the power to justify.


Sometimes blame,obedience,the pecking order and false parental entitlement all blend together and form what we now know as abuse.It’s not only about parents treating children with respect,but also teaching children to expect to be respected also by other people who are not parents.For example,even from a very early age,i would have asked my children (if i had any),how other children are treating them at the playground;how teachers behave towards them at school etc.I would have taught my children to look for respect in EACH AND EVERY social interaction,no matter the level,and to NEVER tolerate anything different.Having equipped my children with self dignity,the risk of them later ending up in abusive marriages decreases significantly.If my daughter ended up being abused,i would ask myself what did i fail to provide her with,what values did i skip in her education.However,that’s not a general rule.There are also exceptions,with unhappily married daughters coming from loving mothers.What bothers me is that,while i’m in town,i often hear mothers who all have the SAME type of speech:”What’s wrong with children nowadays? In the old times,they had more respect for their elders.They don’t obey anymore,and look how they end up messing their life.Parents know better due to more life experience.The egg doesn’t teach the hen.” I just quoted a wrong mentality,a false belief which leads to disaster.

Some abused daughters are taught that women are inferior and not equal to men,that men are the head of the family,so women should obey.At least in my country,that STILL is the current way of thinking.

Having been abused myself,i feel the need to speak up for victims.My instinct is to verbally put such abusive mothers in their place,even if they are strangers in the park.Sadly,i immediately remember that abusers never admit any fault.If i had approached that mother,i would have probably gotten into a useless pointless conflict leading to nowhere.The mother might have asked me who was i to judge her or if i had any children of my own.An already lost battle,like any confrontation with abusers who always hold the absolute truth.

What i find amazing in us survivors is that we don’t use our bad childhood to justify our actions.We don’t blame our misfortunes on abuse,although abuse really is what caused many disasters in our life.We try and we struggle to treat others the way we never have been treated,and we do it without having a role model.That’s what makes us amazing,as it’s natural to carry on what one has been taught.It’s extremely hard to do the unfamiliar,the unknown.Abusers,on the other hand,blame everything and everyone in their path in order to preserve their precious ego.All that matters to them is to never be at fault.That’s why narc mothers blame others.

Us survivors are brave enough to look in the mirror and to correct ourselves if need be.Life has endless problems and obstacles and hardships,but many of them would never have existed if we weren’t abused.What’s normal for others,for me is a challenge:paying bills,getting a job,making friends.My biggest issue of all is trusting people,knowing which people are safe and which are not.Everyday skills come naturally for the normally raised,but not for me.And for that,i “thank” my abusers.I “owe” them that much.

One day,a friend told me that my negativity was a burden for her.She told me i was stuck in the abuse topic and that was all i was talking about.By the way,she had loving parents.

At my former job,nobody knew about my trauma at home.There were days when i’d have a huge fight with my abusers at home.Immediately after,i had to go to work.My work colleagues thought i was depressed or that i had strange abnormal mood swings.Little did they know about my pain,so they drew the wrong conclusions about me.You all can imagine how that affected my career.I was the weird employee,so my job went down the drain.


The story of my life! I am glad that there is someone out there like you willing to voice this.
My mother blamed me for her failures all of my life. She blamed me for ruining her career, her life, her dysfunctional marriage, for the lack of happiness, for the inability to divorce my father (she was fully capable, but she prefers hanging on to someone and controlling them). She asked my then 11-year-old Brother “SHould I divorce from Your father?” and he said no. Since then she has been using this as an argument, despite the numerous scandals, screaming, nervous breakdowns.

She used to sit in front of the tv, and repeat “leave me alone”, “go away”, “stay away” at Our attempt to talk to her. If she ever did something for us, she would say “look what you are making me do”, “Oh, you are wasting my time!” She found other children more interesting, and provided counceling and singing lessons to them for free. We would sit in the cafe With a girl my age, and she would talk to her, and would intruct me to shut up and not disturb her.

It has taken me years, and years of rage, especially after my parents made me pay their bills. I am still mad at them, and still paying. I cannot get over the emotional blackmail and emotional devaluation, and I have been thinking to confront my mother, especially after her mail asking me for forgiveness. “If I ever hurt you in any way”, because in my culture we have the so called “forgiveness time”… And I have been thinking – she always wants to feel good despite the terrible way she has been treating me, and my duty is to make her feel good, by saying that I would forgive her. I realized this would let her continue behave the way she behaves. When writing the answer, I thought that no matter what I wrote she would never change… If I confronted her, she would say “oh, you know nothing, my parents were way worse to me, they did this and that to me… “…. I don’t have the right to complain. She addresses me in mails “my sunshine”, and says that she loves me, but everytime I am home, she never asks me how I am, never Things what shit comes out of her mouth… I hate this hypocracy



Your posts were spot on! Just because one grows up in a dysfunctional environment combined with certain genes, it doesn’t mean that one is destined to be an abuser. Sadly, abusers either use their horrid pasts as an excuse to hurt others or deny that they were abused and say that their backgrounds made them the people they are today. (They are right in a sense, but not in a way that we would agree.)

I have to admit, though, that because of my genes and environment, I definitely wouldn’t be an abuser, but became a doormat instead. My mother could raise her voice and be angry with me, but I couldn’t with her or I was labeled as having an attitude and had to remember my place. Yet, I failed to stand up to bullies in school as a result of these mixed messages and she blamed me for being picked on.(Even today she’s like this, which is why I moved out weeks ago.)

I’m learning assertiveness and speaking up, but it isn’t easy when one has been raised to be beneath someone most of the time. Especially since it’s been less than a month since I moved out, it’s difficult to shake off her influence. I know mentally that I’m not to blame, but emotionally I’m still working on this.


For Kris,
i understand the feeling of hopelessness in relation to any functional relationship with your mother as yes its not likely she will ever be able to validate the harm she has done to make it better so that you can have a mother. but that does not mean no happy ending for you, you are a free individual separate spirit not a clone of your mother very different obviously and thankfully, For such loss there is such gain for the future in that you will not repeat this cycle of abuse and can you imagine all future generations growing and thriving in environment of love care truth what that will mean for them and for the whole planet once this change occurs within more and more families ,,,there will be no more wars once there is no more child abuse (hitler was a severely abused child jews the scapegoats) even our planet will become healthy, we have in fact come a long way looking back i recommend this article on history of child abuse….
so now at least physical sexual abuse is clearly identified as wrong and the emotional abuse gaining now in awareness too. So it is debilitating to focus on what is lost that never actually was i know as i have spent too long focusing on that and trying to change that with my mother ,,, wasted energy now i put that energy the right direction, see what you are grieving is what could of been but see it can be starting with you downward in your family line or and in your relationships interactions with others in how you demonstrate love in the way its meant to be without scapegoating control lies etc,,, once you see the effect and take up of that from you then you will be starting to see only the start of a never ending happy ending, this may sound impossible when listen to news etc,,, but if you look back in history how things used to be we are evolving. So things are not hopeless and you do not owe your mother to grieve her loss for your lifetime but it does take some time it is a grieving process, it took me over 2 years of full blown focus hopelessness all that basically initially suicidal even now i look forward to seeing my daughter this weekend and seeing her with her own family now modeling love the right way and im very happy


I am so blessed by your comments this morning! The way that you express yourself is really validating!
Yesterday I saw a poster by Dr. Phil and it said “can you imagine a circumstance that would cause you to stop talking to your mother for years”. (something like that) and the hashtag was #punishing mom!! What you wrote about the larger power structure is exactly why people automatically jump to the conclusion, without even asking, that the child is punishing the parent. My mission is to expose that false and senseless power structure and set free as many captives of it as possible!
Thanks so much for your contribution to that cause!!!!!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Maria binnie
Yes, I gave up too. The other day a client asked me if I ever thought that my mother would walk away from me when when I told her that I was not willing to continue in our relationship the way that it was.
Although I was aware that my mother had a choice if I drew a boundary, and I was aware that she might choose NOT to want relationship with me, the answer (emotionally) is NO. I never thought that she would rather stick to her beliefs and her entitlement, and let me go. But she did and although it hurt, the truth set me free. I no longer live under someone else or in fear of anyone else.
Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene

Hi Yvonne
Somedays it seems as if the whole world is in this fog (re your statement “why is that so hard to understand?”) To me it is totally logical but of course that is years after I came OUT of that fog they want to stay in..
hugs, Darlene


Hi Anon
Your share reminds me of my study of cults; when someone escapes a cult, they are rejected by all the members of the cult. When I took my kids out of Christian school, the same thing happened. I wonder how much of it is punishment and how much of it is jealously on the part of those who remain! I realize today as I look back on the whole picture that I had been a threat from a very young age. Perhaps it is my ‘truth telling nature’ and my mother had to make sure that I was discredited before I ever talked.
It is so worth the work to untangle that ball of yarn. Finding and changing those false beliefs has set me free from a lifetime of difficulties.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Kris
Yes, isn’t it sad? And you are right about the admission for them is like a death sentence. And we grow up living with a similar death sentence… I am glad that I escaped that death sentence..
hugs, Darlene

Hi Mary
That is quite the story! Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam
YES I call that (the way people get focused on the story or blame vs the actual problem) a ‘rabbit trail’. I think being defensive becomes a way of life too and it is part of the cycle of abuse.
And what you said about intent is important. The way that I stopped the blame cycle thing was by asking myself what my motive was and what their motive was. My motive was for love, ~ theirs was for control. That really helped me to stop myself from going down the rabbit trail.
hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I see exactly the same thing when it comes to being motivated by a desire to love and be loved, or the desire for control! Those of us motivated by love can have some very bad learned behaviors and genetic predispositions but when confronted with them, there is shame that creates a desire to overcome. Controllers react by projecting their shame outward onto others, while projecting a false image of goodness. Following the path of love is hard work that can often leave us open for more hurt but the fruits of it are genuine. Everything that a controller obtains through their tactics of abuse and denial, is false. Knowing that helps me stay in the fight when I want to give in and give up. Often, controllers appear to be winning but that too is a false projection.



*Dear Darlene-thank you so much for your insight and making the reference to a cult. I have so often thought that when thinking of the FOO + extended…they are one huge airtight cult…living with their own set of double standard rules, denial, rewriting history, abusive behavior and general craziness. After many years of NC…I still gasp at how I survived, how I made it out of there, how I haven’t gone stir crazy (even though I have so often felt like Alice in Wonderland)!!! How on earth did I make it out??? I guess, because I was the scapegoat and the one terribly abused in every way, I got out???
*Pam-thank you so much for your comment…it really helped clarify things for me. So often in my life (even currently) I make such terrible choices regarding the way I treat people I love, what I say etc. But, thankfully, it becomes easier to recognize and make amends and do better. The trick (for us who were abused) is not to become engulfed with shame and beat up on ourselves mercilessly. And like you say…”motivated by love” can be our compass rather than being the controller/abuser. Thanks!


I am 64 years old. I have been doing self-healing for 22 years. One of my mistakes during self-healing was not recognizing that my children would also need healing. They needed healing from my dysfunctional parenting.

I have come to see my parenting skills as being okay for my oldest daughter, lacking for my middle daughter, and possibly abusive for my youngest daughter. Not because I parented them differently but because they each required different things from me.

I made so many mistakes with my children. My oldest daughter and I can talk about these mistakes and our relationship. My middle daughter and I talk about some things but skirt around the real issues. My youngest daughter and I have always had a toxic relationship and nothing of importance was ever discussed.

Over the last few years I have re-examined how I parented my girls, especially my youngest child. I can see today that I failed my girls, each in different ways.

I want to change this. I want to become the mother they need. They need this and so do I.

My youngest and I are going to have our first serious talk tomorrow. There is 35 years of anger, frustration and pain inside her and I know I put that there. I need to let her express all of this to me.

She has spent 35 years being angry with me and I have spent the same 35 years being angry with her. Her anger is justifiable, mine isn’t. I know this but; I am so afraid of her anger. I am afraid of anyone’s anger, even mine. I fear how I will react to her anger.

I am afraid I will go into self-protection mode; meaning I will withdraw inside myself and show absolutely no emotion. If I do this I will only be listening with my ears, not my heart. I have always shut down like this when anyone starts expressing their anger but especially with my youngest.

I don’t want to do that when we talk tomorrow. Tomorrow is our first chance at a new beginning for us. And I am so afraid of screwing it up because of my need to self-protect.

Anyone reading this please pray for us. I will post again after the talk to let anyone interested know how things went.


anon, You’re welcome.:0) A lot of it I have learned the hard way. When we share here perhaps, we enable each other to learn an easier way! I know I’ve learned a lot by reading and sharing here. This is a place where I find sanity in a rather insane world…



Pam, in the house I grew up in blame was the name of the game. If anything went wrong, my father had to assign blame. He was very vocal about blaming. Nothing was just bad luck or an accident. Someone was always to blame and punishment ensued. He was never wrong, never at fault and never made a mistake. You never brought up his behavior or actions ever. That brought on instant rage. After much reading I see he was very NPD in response and behavior.
The blaming and shaming was awful. I see that his standing and screaming at me that I was no good was projection and I find it so interesting looking back that that was how he viewed himself.
I remember standing listening at the time (I was 16) thinking whats this about? what are you talking about, but just stood in silence because to answer would bring physical rage. He was one messed up person. And I actually knew that at 16.
But my mother was insidious in her abuse, always manipulating and lying and sneaking. She was the chameleon, everyone thinks she is nice (poor victim) but in reality she was the opposite.
She has even changed the story that he wasn’t so bad and provided well for her in retirement.
When I heard that I knew she’s up to something again. She always has a scam going.


S1988 Good for you!! You are on the right track. WOW. It took me 50 years to figure it out.
Hugs Karen



I can so relate to what you’ve shared! I will pray for you and your talk tomorrow and I’ll be very interested in how things went.

Some of my children’s anger and disappointment in me is definitely justified. I often struggle with my own ability to respond in a healing way to those feelings. I know I’m willing, but I’m not sure I’m ready, and I don’t know if they’re ready either. They certainly don’t actually seem willing right now.

Ideally, I hope that your daughter will find in herself the grace to allow you some measure of self-protection. Maybe you can begin to unravel the issues, rather than attack them all at once.



Darlene, WOW, this is so timely for me! I haven’t read anyone’s posts yet, but I am so excited about this post from you.

I recently discovered a thing called “Alexithymia.” It’s the inability to connect to your feelings. I’ve “suffered” this my entire life. Apparently, the “diagnoses” was invented in 1973. It’s not a “disorder.” It’s just considered a “personality trait.” The information on it suggests you are either born with it, or it comes from an emotional “trauma.” For me, mom “told” me how to “feel” and I didn’t agree with being “told how to feel” but had to comply to keep from getting in “trouble.” I believe this is the trauma that caused me to not be able to connect to my feelings, and with Darlene’s post about your mom blaming you for her issues, well, since I couldn’t connect to my feelings, I couldn’t stand up for myself, and it made it easy for me to be a “target” for mom. She is blaming me for her issues.

In fact, I recently did a “video” and sent it to my mom telling her I felt she was blaming me for her issues. I haven’t heard from my mom on it, but we have been N/C for a second time for about six months now.

Since I didn’t ask Darlene for permission to post a link, all I can say is “google it” if you are interested.

Ok, I’ll read everyone’s posts now.


no matter how much I defended myself, my mother blamed me OR she blamed something or someone else for HER decisions and behavior.

Actually, my mom is “big” on “don’t blame others.” So, she doesn’t blame others. But she BLAMES ME!

she fits the narcissistic mother pattern of not taking responsibility for her own actions that have ultimately led to the failure of our relationship

Same with my mom. She is not a narcissist, but fits the pattern. She won’t take or admit any responsibility. In fact, one time I pinned her down with a “Law and Order SVU interrogation” and got her to admit she “did not want to be held accountable for what she says and does.” HUH? We are ALL accountable! Why does she get a free pass?

I don’t think Mom blames me for being born. But she does not want to ever look at herself. Also, with another “interrogation” I got her to admit she does not like being “analyzed.” Yeah, she’s afraid of what she will find.

Laura’s post (#2) reminds me of when Dad took my siblings and I out for root beer floats to the local soda shop where Dad would completely ignore us and talk to his buddies. I complained to Mom only to be told I “had” to put up with it because she put up with it. Mom already set the stage to put up with mistreatment.

KarenR (post #6) about hugging….. I never wanted hugs from my family, because they were forced and fake. And in KarenR’s post Number 7 about “no” not being allowed, I can relate! Mom would phrase things as “optional” and get mad when we said “no.” Um, you phrased it as optional…… But this gets into Deborah Tannen’s male/female communication styles where Mom actually thought she was giving an “order” but I wasn’t hearing an “order” (even though I’m female….) And I, too, have panic attacks about standing up to people as I fear they will escalate and harm me.

To Anon (14 and 15), you can’t speed the process. You keep learning bits and pieces of the truth. I am getting bits and pieces from Mom, I want to hear more, she says there is no more, YES THERE IS!

Kris (#16) My mom just says, “I made mistakes.” It’s not enough for me. For example, I want her to admit that she was a COWARD when I had to have an OB/GYN exam at age 12 (it was necessary, having issues) and she failed to inform me what was to happen. Then, when I was totally freaking out, she “chastised” me for being “rude” to HER (male) doctor! She cared more about what HER doctor thought than the fact that I was freaking out over having to be “touched” by a MALE in “that way.”

Pam (#18), Ok, that’s a good way to phrase it. I blame them for not doing their part. And your #19 post, I am so used to being a scapegoat that if something goes wrong on a “team” project, I assume I am the one who messed up.

And the comment about “punishing” the parent. Mom wanted to know how long I am “punishing” her. In the video I sent her, I told her it wasn’t punishment, I was protecting myself from her.

Lynne (#31), that’s what I want my Mom to do! But she just wants to “gloss” over it and say “it’s in the past” and move on. I want to examine why she did that, which means bringing up the past, which she doesn’t want to do because she doesn’t want to be accountable.

I read all the posts, sorry for not commenting on all of them.


Karen, My experience is very similar. Whether out of fear, I don’t know, but my mom is definitely a co-conspirator when it comes to covering the truth. My dad was seldom, physical but I was always afraid of him and truth be known, I still am. He ruled us through emotional terrorism.



DXS, I have done the same thing. A major break-through for me what not hearing my husband say, almost daily, “Pamela, quit beating up on yourself.” I really can’t believe the level of self-blame that I used to engage in. I never found one solution to any problem that way. It totally obliterated my ability to see the right solution, let alone act on it. It’s like being stuck in the mud and spinning all four wheels.



Lynne, my heart goes out to you. You are obviously sincere in wanting to help heal your relationships with your daughters. You are also aware of your tendency to fall back on defensiveness, and you want with all your heart to resist that temptation. I find your attitude absolutely perfect—it is exactly how I would want my mother to feel if we were going to be having that conversation: accountable, loving, nervous, hopeful, and human. I wish you the best of luck, and I will hold you and your daughter in my thoughts.


My son was given a letter. The letter was written by his stepmom to his father. In the letter it described why my son was part of their marital problems. (This is the third wife to my son’s father). The father then gave the letter to my son and told him to write an apology letter to his step mom.


Hi Maria,

I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I was feeling the frustration of not being able to find a way to make things work out with my mother. It is hard to accept that we will never be on the same page but what is even harder was discovering how we never were to begin with all of these years. Our whole relationship was based on a stack of lies. I look forward to building new relationships that no longer have that kind of toxicity in them like you mentioned. I pity my parents. They will die never knowing their own worth and that is a living hell in itself. I look forward to exploring this world and being able to see all the beauty in it, now that I have been able to make some progress in my recovery that allows me to be able to see past my pain now.

It is amazing to see how all of those child-like qualities are still with inside of me. Their abuse didn’t squash it forever like I originally thought. It just took me years to find it that’s all but it was always there just waiting to come out. When I look at a rainbow now I am in awe. I have seen more rainbows in the last 6 months then I did my whole lifetime because I never could see anything past my own pain. I view that a miracle in itself from where I came from. I still have a long way to go but at least I am moving in the right direction now. I feel like I wasted a lot of energy too but I don’t think there is anyway around that when you are trying to overcome the damaging affects of being abused. It’s just par for the course. I bang my head against a brick wall for so long and then it finally hits me that that square peg is never going to fit into that round hole!!!


I didn’t even get “I made mistakes” not that that is a good excuse either!!! My mother brought along Bill Clinton as her defense. Her logic was if he could be President of the United States and had an alcoholic father then what the heck is wrong with me!! Lol She lived by the rule if she could do it why can’t you??? There was never any room for you to be you. Everything revolved around her. I am sorry your mother didn’t take the time to explain things to you either. I know how much that sucks. I had my period for a year straight stuffing toilet paper up my crotch until my mother finally said “I think that you are starting your period now.” Sad but true!! When I look back now I can’t believe I thought how I lived was normal. Nothing in that house was normal. It was just one big sick mess all the way around.

I also wanted to comment about the many posts discussing the blame game. It wasn’t until I put the blame right where it belonged that I was able to break free from the sick mind set of taking on everyone else’s poor behavior and making it my own. I had to see where this sick belief system originated from and when I was able to do that I blamed my parents for abusing me instead of blaming myself for what they did to me anymore and that is what allowed me to move forward. The only thing I take accountability for is overcoming the damaging affects of their abuse so I don’t project all of their sick toxic belief systems onto other innocent people like they did to me. I hold them accountable for their actions instead of blaming myself now even though they don’t see it that way. I just wanted to clarify this because this kind of blame is healthy and enables you to move forward and for me it was a totally necessary step for me to move forward in my recovery because as long as I was still blaming myself for their poor behavior I was never going to see my own self worth and I never would have been able to overcome the damage that they did to me in the end.



My mother died when I was young, and my dad remarried a year later, and she adopted me and my older brother. We both became the reasons for the problems in the home, in their marriage, for her unhappiness, and she was relentless with my father ….always making sure he got an earful about how many wrong things we did and how we messed up her life. The amount of blame….as I look back on it…was amazing. The punishments for things I truly did not even understand were nearly constant. My dad would literally beat my brother daily during certain “seasons” for absolutely no reason except “mom” pushed him to it. I am so relieved and happy to have gotten free of what always felt like a nightmare. Even as an adult until I cut them off for good, I never felt like I was a part of that family….because I wasn’t. I feel that I was being used, and deliberately misunderstood so that I would remain in my designated role . I think what was very confusing to me for years was when they would suddenly be very nice, very generous, and seemingly things were changing for the good…..until the next time. Now that I have been free and away from them for so long, I can really see my parents for who they are and why they are still so desperate to keep hiding from themselves.


Hi Hobie,

I wanted to thank you for your posts because it gave me insight from the perspective of a parent that is willing to take accountability for her part in all of this. I’m so used to hearing “deny until you die” from my own mother that it never enters into my head that there are parents out there who genuinely want their children’s forgiveness and they are willing to make amends with them if their children would only give them a second chance. My heart goes out to you because I hear how genuine you really are and I can’t help but feel that your children are missing out on something that could really be wonderful but because of generational abuse they are not able to see that at this point.

It’s a catch 22. The very thing that you broke through is the very thing that they are still enmeshed with preventing them from seeing the truth. It’s like we never are able to get everyone on the same page. That is the curse of generational abuse.


Hi Lynne,

I will do an extra prayer for you and your family today. When I read your post I thought to myself if only my mother would say that to me. I pray that your children will see your heart even if the words won’t come out of your mouth how you want them to tomorrow!! I look forward to hearing how things went. Remember that when you lead with your heart no one can take that away from you no matter what happens in the end.



my mother used to say that she wanted to have children so much, and that giving birth to me and my brothr was the best thing that ever happnned to her. But in reality, she threatened us she would kill us, abandon us, or she herself would die if we did not behave the way she wanted, if we did not behave as if we were not there. I recognized the borderline pattern last year… It took a great burden off my chest. On top of everything, I turned out to be visually impaired, and she was ashamed of me… that is how I explain myself her keen interest in other children, as I was talking about above. I thought that there was something wrong with me, did extreme things to make an impression, like not eating for days, not taking care for myself, because she considered all this a sin. Also I studied psychology for many years, read a all the self-help books there were, to find out what was wrong with me…

Pam, I moved away from home, more than 11 years ago, and to another country, and she still haunts me. I travel home very seldom, and she always throws a great deal of drama everytime I am home. It is difficult to keep distance, because she things that since she is my mother, she is entitled to calling me anytime she wants, or saying anything that comes to her mind… She is entitled to anything, when it concerns me, because she is my mother! This is difficult to handle… I have been trying to reclaim my self-worth, by reacting to situations in a different way… or just taking care of myself…


Yes Kris your description of fitting a square peg into a round hole it is like that i mean it comes down to one’s values and beliefs of how to treat people and how different my values of honesty and care are to that of my parents who have that as a facade. Basically they are false well that is the way i see them now and to think of myself now in a room with them all having dinner in the current awareness i now have clearly of their false misrepresentations of themselves well the idea does not appeal to me one bit. reaslising that feeling in myself of not actually wanting to be around them now knowing that they are falsely portraying themselves … that they care more about what others think than caring as they should for their own daughter ,,, well my respect of them is now zero. it has been the most growing experience of my life this realsiation of how my family really is the most painful and the most growth. on a subconscious level surly they must know they are false in themselves which must be harder in the longer run to live with that running in their background subconscious….my brother has to stay medicated my other brother cuts himself off emotionally and my sister has panic neurosis type crisis over non critical decisions. Although i am not at a point of where i would like to get to yet at least i am aware of where i am consciously aware and making progress on where i want to get to. I think an important part of my healing was the realsisation that their rejection of me was not actually personal to me only in that i made a stand against abuse.The descriptions of our families are so similar not in the details but in their methods of treating us they have been exposed clearly thanks to Darlene’s work she makes available to us via this website, It is their own reals selves they are rejecting what they actually really are by refusing to see and that is why they are stuck there as anything is forgivable if genuinely care and sorry for damage done but they live in fear unable to face so it can’t be a nice place to be stuck really. sounds like you see this too already as you say you pity them which is a feeling i also have more of now although still some moments of anger at times but less and less So realising it is not personal and letting them go accepting that their path is different to myn and i cannot control their path and being happy that my path is different to theirs as in i don’t want that false pretense of care that can be uplifted on the whim of control master .,,,that is not even real love ,,,,


Hi Lynne
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Thank you so much for your honest share here. I appreciate it so much when mothers share their willingness to repair broken relationships. I know that all of us here are interested to know how your talk went and we are cheering you on!
Looking forward to the update.
hugs, Darlene


There are so many of these “diagnoses” etc. The way that I have come to differentiate between real and false is in the truth leaks. The reason that I don’t call my mother a narcissist is because she can control who she aims her behaviour at. This is an entitlement issue, but I don’t think psychiatry is going to make that a legit disorder. 🙂
Like you post here, it was because of the way you were told “HOW” to feel that caused this disconnection for you. Thanks for sharing.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Charlotte
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
That is a horrible story ~ thanks for sharing it. It’s such a profound example of the carelessness that goes on in certain parent-child relationships.
hugs, Darlene


Hi FinallyFree
Yes, the inconsistent behaviour is the most confusing. I have come to believe that is how they kept me off center so that I was always in the spin of trying to make sense of it all, trying to figure out how to behave differently (because my motive was for the love and acceptance) instead of seeing the truth about the way things were, the way THEY were. As long as I looked to myself for the answer I wasn’t looking at the truth about them.
Thanks so much for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


it never enters into my head that there are parents out there who genuinely want their children’s forgiveness and they are willing to make amends with them if their children would only give them a second chance

Second chance? My mom wants to just “gloss over” everything and act like it never happened. NO! I want an “admission” that she knowingly made the choices she made because of her own issues that she refuses to recognize.

I travel home very seldom,

Riya, what helped me is to stop referring to it as “home.” You are a grown woman, “home” is where YOU live. It’s the “place you grew up.” Also about “she is entitled….” When I was in college, I asked mom to please CALL me before she visited. Ok, we didn’t have cell phones back then, but she could still CALL me at the dorm. She felt that because she was my mother (and paying for my college) that she could “pop in” any time she wanted and didn’t need to give me advance notice.


Riya, Some parents have the idea that they own their children. There isn’t much in our culture that teaches the respect of children and this idea of ownership isn’t uncommon. Neither is the idea of ‘controlling’ children as opposed to teaching them self-control. The two misconceptions combined create a toxic atmosphere for kids, even if the parent doesn’t have a personality disorder or mental illness. I’m sorry that it is so hard for you to get space from your mom. It’s a good thing that we don’t really belong to anyone, no matter what controllers think.




I’m not sure how the DSM manual or legal definitions go, but the more I learn about narcissism, the less it seems to be a matter of a narcissists lack of ability to control him/her egocentric behavior. They key feature is a complete lack of empathy. The narcissist really does not care how their behavior makes you feel except that it maintains their own superior self-image.

However, it doesn’t make any real difference what label is put on the behavior of those that hurt us so deeply. You have shared so much great stuff to help us heal. Taking care of our own wounds is the place to start. Thank you for everything you do!


Yes, and my mother DOES care about the way she makes other people feel. She just didn’t care about how she made me feel. (and my siblings at times as well) It does serve to restore their order and make them feel ‘superior’ yes, but a true disorder (if we are talking about narcissistic personality disorder) cannot be controlled. That is why and how I distinguish between true narcissism and ‘targeted narcissistic behaviour.’
And yes, that is what I say at the end of the day; it is the damage that has to be addressed in the end. I have worked with people who’s parents had a legit mental illness and the damage was the same for them as for me. It was just a matter of discovering that damage and validating it in order for those clients to find their own freedom.
Thank you so much for your comments. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


*Dear Lynn: Your post is so heartfelt and vulnerable…it really made me tear up. The fact that you are being accountable and just wanting to take ownership of your mothering. I think so many of us here are used to the parental/family denial to the death…I can’t even relate to this being my reality. But you are taking these steps…however afraid you are…and my hope is that you and your daughter will work toward healing and resolution.
*Darlene: thank you so much for making the difference between “NPD” and “Targeted NPD”. When I first started reading about NPD last year-the pieces of the puzzle all fell into place but then…a few months ago I began to see that it was all targeted at me (the scapegoat) but never toward anyone else. Everyone else mostly got the special treatment. So I began to see that there was control over their behavior and, as you point out, a true mental illness renders one NOT in control. Plus there was the hiding of their true behavior, the pretense and falsities in public…so they do have control of their behavior!!
Another thing I would like to mention here in dealing with dysfunctional + toxic families …the CULTURAL aspect. I am Indo-Canadian and I have to say that…in my FOO…the incidents of child marriages (runs all down my maternal side…with my great grandma getting married at age 12 and her husband was 34!!)…misogyny, the strict hierarchies that DON’T assign “equal value” to women and children, honoring your parents/families at all costs, silence at all costs…on and on. All of these cultural factors support and add a whole other dimension to abuse within the families. But like you say so often Darlene, at the end of the day, it’s all about validating the abuse and establishing our self worth. Thanks so much to all of you…I am gleaning so much wisdom…insights galore!! xxx


I’d like to add to the narcissism discussion that there are people with limited empathy who depend on other attributes to distinguish between right and wrong. They may not be very sensitive to the feelings and needs of others but they don’t get their needs met by hurting and controlling others. A lack of empathy or any other mental illness, really isn’t an excuse for abuse. There is no excuse for abuse. We are all responsible for our behavior, no matter what causes it. Even narcissists or others with cluster B type personality disorders are responsible for their behavior and know that it is wrong to abuse and use other people. The problem is they don’t care and they will never care if they don’t suffer personally, for their actions. Lots and lots of abusers never suffer for their actions.

Having said all that, I read the other day that 80% of convicted domestic abusers have been diagnosed with a cluster B type personality disorders. I definitely think a lack of empathy is required to be a full-fledged abuser. I also, think when abuse is practiced on a regular basis, it causes the capacity for empathy to decrease even further.

The root cause, I believe, is both environment and genetics. Those two things influence what motivates us and the way we choose to deal with life,(according to that motivation) sets personality. Still, no matter our personality, we can choose to work to change certain behaviors. It’s complicated but there is no escaping accountability for our actions. Abusers are accountable for the abuse they commit, period.



*Pam: thanks so much for this!! When I first started reading about NPD etc, it was a huge relief at first (both my “parents” were NPD and I also suspect other personality disorders were present). But then I began struggling with the lack of accountability as in…having this mental illness does NOT excuse the abuse. And when it is selective and targeted…I could not get past the fact that there had to be some awareness. But now I am at the point of leaving all of that behind and focusing on my belief system and validating my experiences and realities of an abusive childhood. Getting caught up in all that trying to figure other people out was a rabbit hole that took me right to crazy land LOL But I so agree with the very lucid points you make…thanks!!



Thanks for your response. I understood the reference to control differently. When you said that she DOES care about how others feel but not you or sometimes your siblings, I could see better what you meant.

It’s helped me to recognize that narcissistic personality types are considered unchangeable because it helped me give myself permission to stop hoping that “they” would change. I also was able to let go of any sense of responsibility.

For the longest time, when I heard “you have to understand [whoever was mistreating me]” I felt that I was supposed to feel bad for them and let them get away with hurtful behavior so that they wouldn’t hurt anymore. That doesn’t help ever!

It’s a different understanding that I have now that recognizes I didn’t cause their hurts and I can’t do anything to make them “feel better.” This understanding releases me, rather than traps me.



anon, I’ve spent a lot of time in rabbit holes! lol! I’m very much a why person. I seem to need to know why before I can see any solution. When I first began reading about the structure of a narcissistic family, I had to go very slow because the truth of it literally, made me sick at my stomach. I had to have that understanding though, because my parents are personality disordered and that is an important part of the truth about me and what happened to me as a kid. I also, believe their disorders are genetic and have struggled with the accountability issue but I know now that too, is part of the blame game. If we are sick and being sick causes us to hurt others, we have to do something to treat our illness or be placed somewhere where we can’t hurt anyone. Being sick doesn’t relieve us from our personal responsibility toward other people. Especially, not toward our children and other loved ones. I think that is an important point in dealing with relatives who are mentally ill or have a personality disorder. It’s really tough being a kid and growing up inside a parent’s untreated mental illness or personality disorder. Mentally ill people who don’t take responsibility for their illness generally, are at least somewhat, abusive to the people close to them. The same goes for people with personality disorders probably, more so.

I have no reason to believe that my dad was abused by his parents. I think his cluster B type personality disorder was genetically predisposed and the way he chose to handle other traumas in his life, set his disorder in concrete. He didn’t just abuse me. He abused everyone in the family (including his parents) and anyone else that he had opportunity to abuse. I also, know he knew this was wrong because he went to great lengths to cover his actions. In his thinking, no one else’s feelings mattered as much as him getting his needs met. There was nothing he cared about more than getting his needs met and crossing red lines of right and wrong behavior, was a calculated risk he was willing to take to accomplish that. He has to know the difference between right and wrong to be able to calculate the risk, even though I also, believe he has very little to no empathy for others. That is why I still hold him accountable even though, he is personality disordered.

I too think it is more important for victims of abuse to focus on what happened to us and how it affected us than to focus on why our parents treated us the way they did. However, recognizing illnesses and disorders that have a genetic component is important too because it is part of the cycle of abuse in families. It is a piece I’ve needed to understand because that predisposition is present in other members of my family. As parents, it could be helpful to recognize personality disorders early. That early recognition could be another important piece in ending abusive human behavior and breaking the cycle of abuse in families.

What happened to me and to my family is complex. There is more than one thread to follow in understanding what happened and how to stop it from happening in the future. I think I am only beginning to see how all the threads weave together to form the whole.



They key feature is a complete lack of empathy. The narcissist really does not care how their behavior makes you feel except that it maintains their own superior self-image.

I had to “back mom into a corner” but I got her to actually admit that she did not care one IOTA about my feelings. Wow, this was a “truth leak.” This is why I agree with Darlene, that my mom isn’t a true “narcissist,” but has the traits. Actually, my mom is more of a “covert” narcissist. I googled that, there is such a thing.

Plus there was the hiding of their true behavior, the pretense and falsities in public…so they do have control of their behavior!!

Bingo! That’s my mom. She hides it.

< I’m very much a why person. I seem to need to know why before I can see any solution

ME TOO! I gotta know WHY! I ask my mom WHY and she claims I’m “not letting go of the past.” Well, the PAST affects why you did what you did! She doesn’t want to be held accountable.


Hi Darlene,

Your words express perfectly what I have been through all my life, it’s a tormented story that I carried inside me in denial and only came out two years ago, I was 45.

I am only starting recovery now and it’s a long process. My Nmother is still alive and as mean as always, her son, my brother who has always stood by her and took all money in secret, especially my share of the wealth, is also alive and mean, just like her.

Doctors tell me to continue my life without them, accept that I have been estranged and robbed, I am trying to do that but it’s hard :'(


“I have no reason to believe that my dad was abused by his parents. I think his cluster B type personality disorder was genetically predisposed and the way he chose to handle other traumas in his life, set his disorder in concrete. He didn’t just abuse me. He abused everyone in the family (including his parents) and anyone else that he had opportunity to abuse.”

Didn’t you say in a previous post that genetics PLUS environment makes up a person’s psyche? True, an abusive past is no excuse to hurt others, but abuse is a learned behavior, not a biological one. There probably was some type of his dysfunction in his past. I have yet heard of a violent gene or an unstable person that came from a nurturing family. Looking into my family members’ histories, I’ve learned that they had dysfunctional, violent pasts, but they deny it, and said that they had good childhoods. (Except my brother, who is angry at our father who abused him, but does nothing to change the pattern with his sons, and protects our dysfunctional mother.) For some abusers, they like to hide behind an abusive childhood, while others protect their caretakers, and refuse to admit that they were hurt as children.


Not trying to defend, but on the statement “an abusive past is no excuse to hurt others,” well, if the abuse is “covert,” it may be hard to know it was abuse. My mom told me she was “told how to feel.” So, thusly, she “told me how to feel.” I think my mom doesn’t realize how wrong it is to “tell people how to feel.” I googled it, “telling people how to feel” is considered emotional abuse.

My mom is “covert.” She is so covert, even she isn’t aware of herself. Pointing it out leads to denial.


S1988 Yes, I believe personality disorders are the result of genetics and environment but I don’t believe my grandparents abused my dad. He had other traumatic life events and may have been abused by others but not by my grandparents. If it weren’t for my grandparents, I wouldn’t have had any stability or gained the few positive concepts of myself that I did acquire in childhood. I don’t think they were abusers because I knew them well and there was no evidence of that kind of behavior. He didn’t learn the things he did to others from them. Also, my dad was not usually, violent. He was an emotional terrorist, a psychological and emotional abuser. He committed some other criminal acts that weren’t violent. He knew how to hurt people without leaving physical damage. He used people to get what he wanted out of life. He liked to blame my grandmother but his accusations were never anything concrete. He was very abusive of his parents, took everything they had, and left them penniless. My grandparents were loving, honest, honorable, hard working people. His behavior could not have been more different from theirs. I don’t know if this is common but it is true about my family.




Oh, okay. Thanks for clearing that up.

If he was hurt by others, did his parents know about it? I hope it wasn’t a case where they knew about the abuse, but did nothing to stop it.


*Pam: Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story and I completely understand the need to find out all you can kind of thing. When I first discovered NPD (only about 8 months ago) I, too, read up everything I could. I have a stack of books on NPD and other PD’s…some great and some not so much! I went through all the stages…denial (how could that be?), anger…relief because now so much fell into place. And I went through these stages many times. But then…a few months ago…I began to see that (as Darlene pointed out)…it was targeted…toward me (the family SG). Also…there were the lies and pretense and very (seemingly sincere)kind acts towards others (sometimes even complete strangers!!) So I struggled with the NPD because everything I have read pointed to NPD’s NOT having control of their behavior!! Really…having no conscience, empathy or soul…so that even when they are “nice”…it’s a form of manipulation or to make themselves feel better (the other person becomes a mirror so to speak…reflecting back to them). And the more I read…the consensus seemed to be that NPD (perhaps more than the other PD’s) seemed to be caused by an abusive childhood when the child had no way to process what happened and then…creates a false self. Not to excuse NPD behavior by any means, of course.But then…what about “Targeted NPD” which none of the books even talked about!! I am so very thankful to Darlene for making the distinction!! In my situation…when you throw in the cultural aspects of silence at all costs, child marriages etc…it all became very murky. So my therapist told me to focus more on healing myself (as Darlene says…validating my experiences and owning my self worth…replacing my false belief system) rather than trying to understand or figure out the behavior of someone else. I found that to be great advice because, TRULY, we can never figure out why someone did (does)what they did!!! And that just leads me down the rabbit hole!!
P.S. I,too, have spent way too much time in crazy land!!!
*S1988-Thanks for your contribution-I think your points are very sound. It reminds of this time in an Anthro class where the prof was talking about alcohol. We so assume that alcohol “makes” one angry, abusive and etc etc but that is a culturally dictated norm and certainly not that way worldwide!! There are cultures where alcohol leads people to act very kind and loving (I think…the Amazon Indians if I remember correctly). So, I, too…came to the conclusion that my NPD “father” had a horribly abusive childhood…even though my paternal grandparents seemed nice enough…I have no idea what really happened. What I do know is the behavior my “father” exhibited toward me…and that was NOT in a gene but culturally dictated somehow. So perhaps one can be predisposed genetically to NPD etc…but then the circumstances of abuse in childhood etc have to be there??? I really don’t know…but in the end…there was no figuring it out and it didn’t change a darn thing!! In the end I still have to look at the damage incurred and no amount of understanding why it all happened was going to help me.
*Darlene-thanks so much from the bottom of my heart for this site, for your work, for the lucid points you bring up and your honest and detailed posts. I am ever so grateful…I am learning so much…and not just with my head but with my heart too. Many many thanks to you. xxx


What spoke most to me in this article is the ‘my poor mother’ bit. I have been looking after my mother’s emotional needs since I was born, and somehow all my relatives think that this is ok, while no one was looking after mine. I went no contact 7 years ago when she once again had forgotten all about the abuse in my life and asked me to explain (for the third time, in detail) where I ‘believed’ I had been abused. Exact words were ‘I know this is hard for you, but I need to know’. Why ? So she could tell herself again she was blameless for not protecting me as a child?
The last 7 years were good, I made some progress in looking after myself better. I’m training for a different occupation that I love, and my classmates told me 10 days ago how much I’ve changed in the year since we started training, and I could feel it myself, I finall start to engage with life. The very next day I got a message from a cousin, my mum is in hospital about to die. Part of me wants to laugh like a crazy person, the very moment I step into the life I want, the past comes beckoning. I burst into tears and called her, telling her that I love her (which I do, she’s just not good for me). It was important for me to tell her that – I wanted to make it easy for her, again. Well, she survived, and I can feel the old pull ‘look after me’. I found EFB today and realise for the first time that I was made to feel as if I don’t count my whole life. I’m still thinking I should give my poor little old mother a chance, maybe she has changed this time? When she hasn’t in the 40 years prior to going nc? As in the post, I believe my mother can’t face the truth about her own part in not protecting me, and so I have to (?) accommodate her needs.


Hit ‘submit’ too fast …
The thought of just forgetting about the 20 odd people related to me by blood brought on a rush of relief. I ‘d only need to look after myself, not wait for someone to need me so I can prove my worth. I’m not quite there yet though. Leaving the wellknown familiar shores is daunting.


Hi Giuseppina
Welcome to EFB! This whole thing is hard! For me, coming out of the fog was exhausting. I had to start looking at almost everything through a new lens in order to see the truth about all of it in order to validate myself to take MY life back. There is a ton of info/sharing etc. in this website. I hope you will find many insights here.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Anke,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
It took me a while to see the whole truth. My mother played a great game when it came to pretending that she didn’t know any better. I had to look at little details that I had not noticed before such as how she taught me to keep certain things “family business’ and how she treated me differently in different situations. There were a lot of truth leaks, many of which I have written about here in this website and in my book ~ showing HOW I broke out of the captivity that I was in by seeing the that truth and how I came to be able to draw the boundary that ultimately enabled me to set myself free to live and think for myself.
Glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene


There was an estranged mother/daughter episode of Dr. Phil recently and I read the FB comments about it. There were many from women whose children no longer contact them, and every single one of them claimed they didn’t know why. The same thing own abusive mother tells anyone who will listen. I think its a very common way of evading responsibility. My mother is “praying for forgiveness” but won’t admit any wrongdoing, address the issues I’ve been laying out clearly and consistently for years, or stop trying to hurt me. She’d rather lose me and my family and get sympathy from well-intentioned but misled supporters. I tell myself she is mentally ill and was abused as a child herself, but its still agony for me.


Hi Elizabeth
Yes, it is extremely frustrating. There is a truth leak in a mother “praying for forgiveness” while pretending she blameless.
I found my freedom from the pain in rejecting the ways that the treatment of these people “defined me”.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


S1988, The Great Depression was a very traumatic time for my dad. He also, had a withered arm that was either a birth defect or the result of polio. He was ridiculed by other children because of the arm. He also, had to live with his grandparents during the school year because the family ranch was too isolated. I don’t know what his grandparents were like. I know it was hard on him as an only child, to be away from home. I also, think he was overly doted on as he was an only child, only nephew, and a grandchild who became more than a grandchild because of the amount of time his grandparents spent caring for him. Things happened in his life and he chose to cope with them by learning to control and use others. That’s all I know about his childhood. What I know most surely, is that his parents weren’t abusive people.

anon, I think more has been discovered about how personality disorders develop, in the last ten years, than in all the years that went before. Genetics and brain deformities play a greater role than what was once thought. Narcissism is the basic personality type and all of us have narcissistic characteristics because we are all born a narcissist and develop from there. My dad didn’t just have traits, he was malignant. There were things he couldn’t help. He couldn’t help it that he had no empathy or a limited capacity for love. He couldn’t help that he didn’t care how his behavior hurt others but…he did know when what he did was wrong because he had a fear of being caught and having to suffer pain of his own. Cognitively, he knew the difference between right and wrong and therefore, I hold him accountable for his wrong actions despite his emotional deficits and brain abnormalities.

I’m not really stuck on this aspect as far as my own healing but I may have slipped down another rabbit hole in this discussion! lol! This article is about blame and I’m always amazed at how people have to find someone else or something else to blame for an abuser’s behavior. I think the abuser should be blamed, period. There is no excuse and there is no good reason. I know from my experience that I have to own a bad behavior before I can learn to overcome it and change it. Abusers seem to be able to avoid owning their behavior and others wanting to find someone else to blame other than the abuser, plays a huge role in it. We do them no favors and we certainly, do their victims and society no favors by not holding them accountable.

My dad was the abuser in my family. He abused my mom, me, my siblings, his parents, his extended family, and friends. He did it because he liked being the center of attention and he used people to get his needs met. His parents were his victims, not his abusers. His wife was his victim. His children were his victims. His extended family and his friends were his victims. The things he did to all of us, weren’t our fault. It was my dad’s fault and he never, ever took responsibility for any of it. He never had to because there was always someone else to blame.



“I’m not really stuck on this aspect as far as my own healing but I may have slipped down another rabbit hole in this discussion! lol! This article is about blame and I’m always amazed at how people have to find someone else or something else to blame for an abuser’s behavior. I think the abuser should be blamed, period. There is no excuse and there is no good reason. I know from my experience that I have to own a bad behavior before I can learn to overcome it and change it. Abusers seem to be able to avoid owning their behavior and others wanting to find someone else to blame other than the abuser, plays a huge role in it. We do them no favors and we certainly, do their victims and society no favors by not holding them accountable.”

True, true. Something I’ve noticed in families that do that (including my own) have abusive tendencies themselves. My older siblings defend our mother because of Stockholm Syndrome and the fact that she lost her mother as a ten-year-old and was raised by her grandmother (who was punitive, but my mother sees her as a saint). She also married an abuser before divorcing him years later. It makes me wonder why have sympathy for her past, but not care how I suffered under her treatment? (They were treated in similar ways, but are the golden children since they don’t see it as abuse and continue to suck up to her.) My brother’s wife even defended my brother’s bullying of their sons, so I don’t feel sorry for her at all.

I still think it’s somewhat important to learn an abuser’s past, not to feel sorry for them, but to learn how to NOT relate to people. I’ve learned that to only focus on a abuser’s “good sides” made me vulnerable to being taken advantage of by others, regardless of them being family members or not. I think this is why I was such easy pickings for bullies during my schooldays and why I wasted lots of time trying to change my family members. What’s more important, though, is to piece together my childhood, and the adult it shaped me into in both good and bad, so I can become stronger and end dysfunctional patterns.


S1988, I certainly, agree with your goals because they are mine, as well. It was important for me to try to understand how others think because I’ve always been prone to make the mistake of thinking that no matter what horrible thing that someone did, their motivations were like mine and they just made a mistake. It was hard for me to recognize that some truly, have evil intent towards others. That isn’t so hard for me these days because I’ve put in the work and understand that there are people in the world who are motivated much differently than I am. The core ‘me’ is very different from what is at their core.

All parents, all people, commit abusive acts by saying something they shouldn’t, reacting harshly when stressed, or tired, and by following wrong desires. Human beings are emotional, aggressive critters and our baser instincts get the best of all of us, at times. However, many of us want to rise above that kind of behavior and we have remorse over those kinds of actions because we truly, care about others and the society we live in. I even know people who aren’t as empathetic as I am but on the level of reason, know that societal rights and wrongs are important and they too strive to treat others with respect and be good people. Abusers don’t care and they deny any societal governance of right and wrong. What is right is what pleases them personally and what is wrong is anything that hurts them so, they have no compunction in using evil toward others to get what they need and avoid personal pain. I guess it boils down to living in a world of one, where no one else really matters, and anything is game, as long as you don’t get caught and have to suffer.

Love is more than a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is actions and an abuser’s actions and lack of remorse for them, reveal their intent to be anything but love. If they are coming after you, it really doesn’t matter how that evil intent came to be. It is vitally, important to recognize it and also, understand them to be the ones responsible for it.

Abuse taught me many dysfunctional behaviors and I’ve worked hard, all of my life, to unlearn them. I also, have some dysfunctional behaviors that just come naturally to me. I struggle to overcome those, as well. I have committed abusive actions but I’m not an abuser because of my struggle to overcome the faulty knowledge I gained in childhood and my continuing struggle with my own bad behavior. A full-fledged abuser doesn’t involve themselves in that struggle and there is no hope for them to change as long as they remain disengaged. They have no good intentions toward others, no love. It’s all about them and doing whatever it takes to get what makes them feel good. It’s complicated but it is also, very simple.:0)




. It was hard for me to recognize that some truly, have evil intent towards others.

Hard for me to recognize that, too. But, there is the other side of the coin. COVERT! If the person is COVERT (which is what my mom is), they may not recognize it themselves. I have been studying “covert” narcissism. It’s so subtle, it’s hard to prove, and the person themself may not be aware. but when you try to make them aware, it’s DENY DENY DENY.

I truly believe my mom has deep seated issues she refuses to acknowledge. She pushes everything down and acts like it’s not there. I got her to admit an AWFUL thing that happened in her childhood, and I think there is more, but she claims there is not. And I think she regrets that I “interrogated it out of her” the one thing she did tell me.


DXS, I thought that most people with NPD weren’t aware that they had a disorder. In fact, I think their need for a perfect image keeps them from recognizing it. I think that often keeps them from acknowledging a less than perfect childhood. Anyway, that makes me a little confused about the ‘covert’ aspect and I admit, I’ve never read anything like that. I don’t really know how my dad felt about himself in regard to some of the awful things he did. I don’t think he felt bad about doing them unless, he got caught or was in hurt himself. I think he thought of himself as somewhat, superior to the rest of the human race and the ends (getting what he needed)justified the means. Is that what you mean by covert?



Pam…. Hmmm….. you may be right. It’s possible both varieties aren’t aware. I’m reading a web page about the difference between COVERT and OVERT narcissism.

Both feel worthless. BUT….

OVERT narcissism: They are boastful, arrogant and have feelings of grandiose-ness.

COVERT: The covert narcissist is the ‘shy’ narcissist, but no less dangerous and painful to become involved with. The covert narcissist however lacks the manufactured confidence to present a grandiose false self to the world, so retreats to his inner world to live out his or her pathological fantasies. The covert narcissistic personality will project his or her damaged inner self on to others by lying, manipulating, withholding or abandoning –using whatever tactic gets a reaction and hurts those closest to him or her. The covert won’t contribute unless there is an ulterior motive attached.

The last part is my mom, she tells you it’s because of A, but it’s really because of B, which is her hidden agenda.

Your dad sounds “overt” in that he has feelings of superiority.


DXS, I’m not sure because I’ve never read about that aspect. My dad changed a lot as he aged and was probably, more like what you describe as ‘covert’ as a much weaker, old man. He still managed to be taken care of by others for his entire life. In my mind’s eye, I see him as an infant in a man’s body, crying and expecting everyone to be there to take care of him and give him what he needs and wants.

My dad actually, has characteristics of several cluster B personality disorders. He isn’t purely, NPD. Most personality disordered people aren’t and all of them are as individual and unique as anyone else. I’ve never thought of my dad as being ‘damaged’ not the way I was damaged by my childhood and his treatment of me, anyway. My dad is just different from most people in the way he connects with others. That’s hard for me to describe…but it’s different from people(besides myself)that I know who grew up in an abusive home and have emotional problems.

My dad could be very affable and sociable. However, he had a hard time maintaining friendships because he used people and people don’t like being used. Even if he hurt those people and lost them, he still felt major rejection at the loss. It was like a threat to his existence when he was no longer able to project a false image and have a positive reflection of himself from them, in return. Maintaining a positive false image and being the center of attention, was the stuff of life for my dad. Just like an infant.



Pam, wow, your dad sounds like my mom, wanting to be “taken care of.” However, my mom doesn’t try to be the center of attention. At least not “overtly.” Mom doesn’t really “use” people so much as she more or less “manipulates” to get what she wants because she can’t directly ask for it. It’s like…. you get in trouble for NOT doing something that she never actually asked you to do in the first place. And then she claims things are about “A” when they are really about “B” which is her hidden agenda. Mom never tells you the truth. Instead, she “justifies her hidden agenda.” Using “A” as the justification when her hidden agenda is actually “B.”

I’m going to read on the Cluster B stuff. Thanks for sharing!


Hi all,

My mum fits into this category perfectly, except I am the scapegoat for all the family. When she replied to one of my letters confronting her about her behaviour she ended it saying she is not going to spend her life thinking about how bad she has been. If that isn’t denying her own accountability then I don’t know what is.
She makes herself this wonderful person who is the ‘martyr’ for my sister and her disabled family. When i have confronted her in the past about sharing her time with the rest of us, her answer was ‘what do I expect her to do?’…
Well I expect her to treat us all equally and share special times etc. Instead I have watched while she wears herself out looking full time caring for my disabled niece while my sister goes to work then comes home and sits on her backside.My mum is 70. The rest of my mothers time is monopolised by my other sister, pushing me out in the only way she knows how, by making me feel inferior and not good enough, the way they have all done since I was little. I watch while she spends xmas day with one sister, boxing day with the other, and no day for me. Because its their ‘birthdays’…yet she misses mine on many occasions.
My councillor says the messages that I received show that for some reason I am to blame for my own life. Looking back I can see how this fits in to my life. Its inbred. I turn every last action by anybody else that is wrong into my fault. How my mother did this i do not know. Maybe i came along at a time when she felt she had got the family she wanted. Maybe I cried too much, was an inconvenience. Who knows.
I have real problem with crying, where I don’t cry easily , don’t show my emotions etc. I feel this must stem from when I was a baby. Maybe my message was if I cry its a bad thing, a weak thing.
Yes I do think my mother blamed me when I was little for interfering with her life. And I think that message has stayed with me and affected my whole life. I searched for love from all sources which led to abuse from age 12 till 41. Even now I find myself falling into the same pattern, trusting the wrong people. But at least I am starting to look at it with my eyes open. So eventually i may be able to change.
Thanks Mum.


DXS, That’s the way my whole family communicates. They say one thing but mean another. When I tell the straight, forward truth, they can never accept that I mean exactly, what I’m saying. They tell me what I “really mean”. It is maddening!



I can relate to so many of the stories over here..various parts + pieces sound exactly like mine. I am reminded of something I read once, a long time that makes more and more sense as I get older…”dysfunctional families are all unique in their ways…but exactly the same!”. Something like that.
I think…looking back (I am 46 years old now), the thing that terrifies me the absolute most…is how I was absolutely and completely defenseless with mentally ill and truly mean spirited (evil) adults. I had to add the evil part in there…and even now I can’t figure out if that is an NPD characteristic. Is there a raging asshole gene, I wonder LOL Still grappling with the Targeted NPD that Darlene brought up a few days ago…it’s all very mind boggling. Just trying to focus on the healing and looking at my (false) belief systems…which is so draining and exhausting most days. It can overwhelm me!! But worth it as I read some of the stories from the “other side” on here. Thanks to all for sharing so honestly. I am ever so grateful to be on this journey…and to have found this site. xxx


*Dear Clare-I can relate to so many parts of your story…it almost sounded like mine!! I was the SG as well and as a kid…besides all the overt abuse…there were very insidious things that i couldn’t figure out. For example…My younger sibling had a birthday the day before mine (that got celebrated)…and then an older sibling had a birthday a few weeks after mine (That got celebrated) but mine NEVER did!! It was that way ever since I can remember so…as kids do…I just accepted it. I could never figure out “WHY”. And that’s the key right there!!! There is no “WHY”. There is no way of making sense of non-sense!!I have read some stuff about the SG…how we are the strongest, the healthiest, the truth-tellers (all of this was little consolation to me!!). How the family unit NEEDS the SG to portray the persona of being healthy (project the image) by saying the SG is the crazy one etc. How the SG kept the “family” together all these years by absorbing all the negativity + abuse (of course, we had no choice in this matter!!). I have been NC for about 9 years from FOO and 5 from everyone else (extended etc etc) and let me tell you…they need us (the SG0 more than we ever needed them!!. Do I miss having a foot on my throat, the evil, snide comments and truly unhealthy interactions?? Absolutely not!! What I miss is the IDEA of a family that I never ever experienced growing up…but am creating my my husband and daughter toady. A lot of days are unbearably difficult…but there are days when I truly feel good. xxx


Clare, my mom said, “You don’t realize the SACRIFICES parents make.” Well, I look at her life and I say, “What, exactly, did YOU ‘sacrifice’?”

My mom would TEASE me to the point where it felt like I was doing something “wrong.” Like boyfriends. So, I downplayed everything to keep her from “teasing” me. She would say, “Oh, you gotta put up with teasing.” HER TEASING WAS RIDICULE! She didn’t do this to my siblings. I asked her to stop, and only got the “you have to put up with it” stuff. Excuse me, you’re my mother, can’t you love me enough to stop?

And Clare, I’ve never been a crier, either. Mom said as a baby I didn’t cry much and didn’t need much attention. The “cry” thing might just be how you are. But the rest of the stuff you say, oh my. I can feel your hurt and pain. I, too, kept searching for love from the wrong people.

I made a choice at age 12 that I didn’t want to marry, but lately, I have been wondering if the choice was actually mine (I’m 80% sure it was….) or if I’m playing into something mom secretly wanted but won’t acknowledge.

Pam, that is SOOOO FRUSTRATING! Mom does that to me, “says I mean this instead of that” but when I point out that she does it, too, DENY DENY DENY! She is “projecting” herself onto me. I think the “projecting” thing fits narcissistic pattern. And it’s ok for her to raise her voice at me, but I’m not allowed to raise mine!

Anon, I set out trying to figure things out and have been trying to figure things out for YEARS, but from reading Darlene’s website, I finally realized, I was the scapegoat!

I wonder what “birth order” the scapegoat is in. If there is consistency to it. I’m not a firstborn, but I’m a first “surviving.” Mom lost a baby before me. Sometimes I think she had these grandiose plans for what that “baby before me” was supposed to be, and she projected those grandiose plans on me, and I failed.


Oh yes, I can definitely relate to having a mother that blamed others, particularly me, her scapegoat. Not only did I get blamed, many times I got punished with put downs, silent treatment, and physical punishment.
Because of this treatment I became very fearful. I am particularly fearful of any situation that could bring confrontation ( virtually ANY disagreement with my mother would start a confrontation) and I fear angry type people. This really has a strong grip on me. I feel I’ve come so far in acknowledging the damage done to me and knowing where it began but it is hard to break past the grip of fear. Has anyone experienced this freezing type if fear and did you get past it?
Even when I know I am justified in speaking up I fear he other person us going to put me in the wrong and put the blame on me along with the array of punishments just like my mother did. This remains my biggest stumbling block in the process.


*DSX: From everything I have read, most books refer to the GC =1st born, the SG being 2nd (which I am), the Lost Child 3rd and the Mascot/clown 4th. If there are 5 or more kids then the order just starts over with #5 being the GC etc. I’m not sure how true this holds for everyone but in my FOO-it went this way exactly!! I have also read that the very fact that there are roles assigned to children, the very fact there is a SG etc…is a huge red flag that the FOO is A Narc family. Not quite sure if anyone else has more info. on that. The thing I am just now realizing at age 46…the FOO needs a scapegoat desperately and when I removed myself with 100% NC…I started healing and getting stronger…but they still need someone to abuse!! It just wasn’t going to be me! Now they can still SG me to themselves (ie. saying all sorts of stuff about me being crazy etc) but I just don’t think that has the same weight. Maybe…maybe not?
*Clare: About having difficulty with emotions esp. crying…I can totally relate. For me…I discovered that I wasn’t allowed to have emotions from a very young age (certainly not anger but even crying was either berated or yelled at or used against me) so…you learn to stuff your emotions, pretend etc etc. Because it’s not safe when we are kids. So now I have come to the realization that, emotionally, I am still that child…my emotional growth was stunted and distorted; a coping mechanism to survive.
*Amber: I get the confrontation part…for me…it’s the process of re-parenting ourselves. It can be so easy to forget that we are adults…I read somewhere once that the unconscious has no age so when we had to stuff all our feelings as kids into our unconscious…they leak out in certain situations where we get triggered.
*I found it very difficult to get any books on being the scapegoat.All I know is that because I was projected upon by BOTH my NPD “parents” and then me entire FOO, that until I really started looking at the false beliefs I had…I always felt there was something inherently evil and wrong about me. I did find some articles but they were very basic textbook type stuff. I am hoping that Darlene may write a post about it??? Keeping my fingers crossed:)


From Clare “My councillor says the messages that I received show that for some reason I am to blame for my own life. Looking back I can see how this fits in to my life. Its inbred. I turn every last action by anybody else that is wrong into my fault. How my mother did this i do not know.”

This is exactly my main issue/behavior to deal with. A person can be a real jerk with me and if I’m not careful I’ll end up feeling angry and upset with myself rather than them (or some other more appropriate response, or none)
I believe it’s partly because my family, mother especially, just drummed it into me that I was to blame/at fault for everything along with the “natural” (?) tendency young kids have to see things in black and white and blame themselves for their own mistreatment to avoid having to deal with the implications that one’s caregiver is unsafe.

At least that’s the theory. In practice it becomes about how to stop those automatic responses. You know to have those very responses, the things that are closest to you not work properly. Sometimes I feel my family handicapped me in this so important way. I won’t forgive that. When we say “Don’t blame your parents for your problems today” This is exactly the thing I do blame them for. And for which I’m also the only person that can be responsible.


Re Anon’s comment i was the first born and i was clearly their scapegoat and even called the black sheep and suffered the most of the abuse. My sister second born was the GC the 3rd born was the clown and the 4th not sure and the 5th another GC. My daughter was also the GC to my mother and influenced into abusing me as well by my mother’s comments to her unbeknown to me for most of her life until these last few years when it all came out what my mother had been saying to her. it may have been my nature of insight that threatened my mother into having to keep me down or in shame or that my dad loved me maybe that was the reason as her dad was killed when she was 5 years old in WWII so maybe she was jealous as i’ve read that behind most abuse is jealousy but im not sure how correct that comment is that i read however the more i think on that it could be right. Also I would be interested in hear form those of us whose parents suffered caught up in any wars and if that has relevance to our situations in any way as in passing on of that trauma in ways to us.


Hobie #35
Betty #40
Kris #45
Darlene #48
anon #56.

Thank you for your responses to my original post #31. Reading your comments helped strengthen my resolve to ensure my priority was to “be there” for my daughter without loosing myself in the process.

Your comments truly helped us and I want you all to know that.

Our first talk went well! I quickly discovered that my daughter didn’t want me to just listen but wanted to discuss things with me. We talked about a number of things in general and one issue in detail.

I am confused with what to do about one issue that was brought up.

It involves my daughters schooling. She expressed how she makes her son (age 17) go to school even though he doesn’t want to and told me that I should have done the same thing for her.

She didn’t complete school and she sees me as responsible that she didn’t get a proper education. She didn’t; but this is not due to a lack of trying on my part.

Outlining everything I did feels like I would be trying to defend myself. I’m not going to do that here. I know how hard I tried to make her go to school. But she doesn’t think I tried hard enough.

This is my problem. Do I try to make her see that I did try and outline to her all my attempts? Or do I just let her believe I didn’t try hard enough. I know that’s how she feels and sees the situation. So do I just let her have that?

My main reason for asking this is because my daughter doesn’t see reality. This is a huge problem for her. She sees everything through her anger. She blames everyone else, never herself, for anything.

Again, I know I created this but do I just allow it now. Don’t I try to make her see reality?

If anyone has advise please post it. Thank you.



DXS, I knew (or was sure) very young (5-6?) that I didn’t want kids. It’s hard to say what that decision was based on. Could it have been my mother showing me just what a burden kids and family life was? Was it because I was often required to take care of my younger sibling? It’s hard to say but later on I didn’t really revise my ideas of what having a family would be like. “More trouble than it’s worth” stuck with me. And also because once I left my family, I felt like I finally had my life for myself and I don’t want to give that up.

There are a bunch of other things that I ended up doing out of reaction to things that were kind of forced on me or just because there was no real reason not to. I was told that I was not to pursue my interests (and I had talent too and it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t need the family’s permission). So I ended up kind of half-heartedly going for topics at university. I’ve been able to reorient things so I’m now doing more stuff that I like and that is related to my talents but it seems like it was a real long way around when there was nothing wrong with the field I was interested in as a kid. I also never found out why my family thought it so bad an idea as to prevent me from following it.

At one point I just realised how much of my life wasn’t really anything I’d chosen and how most of it was in reaction to my family and upbringing and it really got to me. I enjoy my life NC with them way better but there’s some regret too.


A middle child, I am my mother’s scapegoat. My older brother and younger sister are her golden children.

I sensed from the age of 3 that my mom disliked me because I was similar to my dad’s sisters and mother, who she said mistreated her. I also reminded my mother of her older sister, who was beautiful and criticized her looks. Thus, my n-mom greatly identified with my sister because they were both younger sisters. Lastly, my dad thought I was the cat’s meow; meanwhile, he was constantly went out on my mother. So I was sunk from the start and will never know what it’s like to have a mom to watch out for me.

It’s so unfair for a child to be pegged as a certain way based on things other people did. I agree that a healthy parent wouldn’t behave so unreasonably in the first place.

I just read on the FOG website that kids who remind their parent(s) of someone they dislike are at high risk of abuse.

The website as well as other research show a 9% to 15% (depending on the study) incidence of personality disorders such as NPD and sociopathy in populations. Many people have more than one condition, making the rate much higher in actuality.

My mom has NPD and my dad was a sociopath; their disorders ran strongly in their families and began showing up in the affected individuals starting about 2 years old–as soon as they could walk, talk and begin to do damage. I was so afraid of having a personality disordered kid that I didn’t have any.


I’m the youngest of three offspring. (Which debunks the myth that the youngest is always the favored, spoiled one.) This is partly true with my father (who’s dysfunctional in his own way), but with my mother, I’m the scapegoat.

I have a memory of my mother mocking my overbite, (which I inherited from her because I refused to get braces when she highly suggested I should. Maybe someone made fun of her teeth in the past.) She apologized and blamed being stressed out by her job on the actions. But, she did that many times for years. Even today, she’s retired, and still blames her job for everything wrong in the life. My two older siblings lap it up and worships the ground she walks on. Strange that I’m the naughty one for distancing myself from them, but I’m such a wonderful daughter at the same time. Huh? I can’t be both.


I am the youngest of three girls.
I believe there is no love or emotions left for me.
My eldest sister is the golden child, being the first born. My middle sister needs my mother the most, having had epilepsy since age 12. She is now 48 and has a disabled child and another with special needs, both adults.
My mother is a full time carer for my disabled niece, at the age of 70. the other niece is like her own child. i have watched her lavish these two with love and affection over the years and pushed away the thoughts to the back of my mind such as where was my love?,,,I see you giving this to others so i know you are capable of it…so where was mine?
She thinks i have a jealousy problem against my sisters children.

So there you have it. 90% of her love and attention goes to one sister and her children. The other 10% is grabbed by the other sister and her children who is so anxious and afraid of being unloved that she throws herself into their lives and takes whatever is left.
I was never spoilt or favoured. I was given the message along the line that I was to blame.By all of them.
Trying to stay strong and keep my feelings intact but its sooo hard.


Amber, I can SO relate to your posts. Anger was NOT ALLOWED in my family. I have trouble dealing with angry people, and when I get angry, I have “anger issues.” Like, it’s not allowed for anyone to get angry. And I fear standing up for myself, because the other person will just “escalate.”

Anon, wow, my siblings and I have commented that G/C seems to “rotate” depending on circumstances. Let’s see, I’m not first born, but I’m first surviving, which makes me like a firstborn, but somehow I ended up the S/G. But then again, I was a bit of a precocious child and mom didn’t know how to deal with “precocious.”

Lynne, I don’t agree with your daughter on the schooling. If you tried, then it’s her fault. And Lynne, Wow, I see your struggle with “how hard was I supposed to try.” That is my issue with my mom. She didn’t try hard enough to understand me (I was a bit of a precocious child, and she just swept it under the rug instead of trying to help me and work with me.) I guess I want my mom to PROVE to me she tried, but my situation may not be like your situation.


DXS, you always seem to give me that extra boost of validation! We do seem to have commonalities in our situations. Anger was not allowed in my family either, or, I will amend that to say my parents were entitled to it but we were just mere children who didn’t have the same rights. So not only couldn’t I express anger, but at the same time I was subjected to my mother’s irrational and unpredictable anger and my fathers nit picky anger over any imperfection from getting one word wrong on a spelling test or playing a wrong note on the piano. No wonder I grew up fearful. Fearful of making a mistake on something because imperfection equals someone’s anger. Fearful that at any time my mother could unleash her anger at me based on her mood. She needed a scapegoat and I was it. Yes I got blamed for being too moody, too selfish, or even having basic needs that caused some major inconvenience to my mother. Sometimes I felt fearful just by existing because when you exist you have needs and when you are a child you can’t meet these needs on your own, so you need your mother who might demean you, reject you, scream at you or hit you because your needs interfere with her being able to do what she wants.
Like I said in my previous post, Fear of confrontations, and other peoples’ anger still has a huge stronghold over me. I too fear the consequences of standing up for myself though I sometimes force myself to. Women who remind me of my mother are particularly difficult for me to deal with. Getting past this fear is one of my hugest struggles.


Hi Lynne #91,

Thanks for letting us know how things went with your daughter. It sounds like you made some progress. I wanted to share with you a situation that my brother and I were in. My brother is still in denial about the damaging affects of being abused when we were children and we don’t see eye to eye on anything which is par for the course when one sibling comes out of the fog and the other one is still enmeshed with that sick toxic way of thinking. He said some really nasty things to me but ultimately I knew it all stemmed from him wanting to maintain his denial when I was telling him the truth which was a threat to his very world and at first I tried to reason with him but then I realized there is no talking to him like a normal person because he isn’t coming from a place or normal. I told him that I think the best thing for us to do is to AGREE TO DISAGREE and let it at that. Maybe that is what you need to do with your daughter regarding the whole school situation because it sounds like the two of you are never going to see eye to eye on that situation either and ultimately your goal is to build a better relationship with your daughter and not prove that you were right regarding this particular topic.

I don’t know what your situation was in your household but I can tell you that due to my parent’s abuse I never believed I was intelligent enough to do anything and that included furthering my education and it cost me out of no fault of my own. I could have had so much more in my life. Maybe that is one of the reasons why your daughter is so angry about it because you could tell her all you wanted to that she should further her education but when you are taught that your very “being” is flawed how are you supposed to be able to do that?? That is the part that my mother doesn’t want to see but that is the core issue behind it all. She set me up for failure and then tried to blame me for not being able to do what she said. Like I said I don’t know your situation with your daughter but I wanted to share this aspect with you to show you another side of how she might be viewing this whole thing in hopes to give you a better understanding of what she might be going through and I can tell you I am madder then “H” at my mother for doing this to me. This isn’t just about not going to school, this is about how her abuse crippled me in so many aspects of my life and I am still trying to dig my way out of the damaging affects of what she did to me.

You sound really interested in making things right with your daughter. It’s refreshing to hear this because like I said before in one of my posts I wish that my mother would be accountable for what she did to me and if she were I would be willing to give her a second chance. A guarded one but one none the less and I think many people here on this sight would feel the same way it’s just that we never get to hear our mothers be accountable for anything which is why so many of us end up going NC out of no fault of our own. Keep me posted. I would love to hear a success story about how a mother and daughter were able to reconcile after going through something like this!!



Hey Darlene,
I am just curious, why you say that your mom is not a true narcissist?
I read your article and you said, “Many adult children of Narcissistic mothers know this all too well and although my mother is not a true narcissist (because she has total control over her actions), she fits the narcissistic mother pattern of not taking responsibility for her own actions that have ultimately led to the failure of our relationship.”
I am a bit confused by your statement. If your mom is completely in control and can turn on her cruelty whenever she wants to, that sounds like standard NPD mom behavior. My mom could be kind to others and as soon as they left the room, turn around and be cruel to me. This article in “Understanding and Healing for Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers”, states, “She’s sly and sneaky, reserving her abuse for secret times, so others don’t see it, and don’t believe us if we try to tell them. Which is even more crazy-making.” This is exactly what my mother did and she was in complete control. If there was anyone else around, especially her 4th husband, she was always very careful not to show her venom.
You covered important issues with the NPD mom. I especially relate to being aware of the fact that my mother was damaged. I knew from a very early age that my mom would never meet my needs and I felt like there was something wrong with me for having needs that were not met, needs that I could not identify nor articulate. I just felt lonely, deserted, and sad without knowing what the problem was.
I spent my childhood and the rest of my life, until my mother died, trying to give her enough love and understanding to make up for the brokenness within her. From an early age, I longed for her to be healed so that she would be able to be happy and love me. I didn’t know how sick and codependent that I was.
I am thankful that I have finally figured it out and am able to do my healing work.
I was low contact for most of the last 40 years of her life and I took responsibility for that completely until recently. I have realized that she did not make overtures to draw me in closer and did a lot to keep me at a distance. She didn’t want me to interfere with her relationship with her Golden Child stepdaughter.
As for my own children, I am doing my best to make up for the past. I Just had a conversation with my son last night that ended badly, with me hanging up because he was attacking me for something that I did in the past. I have learned that time does not cure his wounds and therefore, I messaged him today to apologize once again for the hurt that I caused him. Being raised in an abusive home by a NPD mom did not prepare me for a good motherhood. The trauma, domestic violence, and CPTSD did not help either.
Perhaps it seems like I am doing the NPD thing and shifting the guilt, but I am not. I am taking responsibility for the damage I caused to my children in my relationship with them, while working out my own healing from what was done to me.

Read more:


To put it concisely: I walk the delicate balance of taking responsibility for my own lack of good parenting skills when my children were little and total responsibility for everything that happened. In my relationship with my children, I apologize for the hurt that I caused them, but in my own healing, I work on the hurt that was done to me. ~ Beth


I never blamed my ed for anything, we loved her and supported her BUT she has cut us out of her life. The rest of the family don’t understand it, her husband doesn’t understand it, her sibling doesn’t understand it, but I think I do. I think it has been hard for her to put it into words and I don’t think we were terrible parents but my history of dealing with a very toxic situation with my mother and sister all my life I believe played a crucial role. I see that now. For that I am guilty. I am estranged mother but also an estranger. My father abused me and I haven’t seen him for over 40 years, but where he left off my sister took up the mantle. I put up with her for the sake of my mother, but my mother can’t seem to understand why nobody will have anything to with them. My sister alienates everyone with her hatred, vindictive tongue lashing.I allowed too much toxicity into my life, and while I tried to shield my children against it, that kind of poison seeps through. I became the unwitting pathway of a stream of toxicity in my attempt to make things okay with my mother and sister. It’s too late now for us, but I hope if anyone reads this they realize how even if we think we are being kind and good, if people are toxic we MUST protect our children from them, and realize our selfish need to try to MAKE everything all nice and rosy is not healthy in itself.


and yes, my mother and sister blame me for so many things I can’t even list them. Mainly though my mother blames me for not getting along with my sister and just putting up with her.


*Dear Lynne-thank you so much for updating us on how things went with your daughter. I’m not sure if I can give you any advice., so to speak…my daughter is 6 so with your child being much older, I’m not sure if what I have to say would apply. About 2-3 years ago…when I formally began my healing journey…I realized just how emotionally stunted I was. This affected my mothering in so many ways (too numerous to go into) but to make a long story short…I read TONS of books on emotions/feeling etc as well as read my daughter tons of books so she had an emotional literacy I never had. It’s been a process! A great book I absolutely recommend is “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child” by John Gottman; it is fantastic and it works!! In short
1. be aware of a child’s emotions
2. recognize emotional expression as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching
3. listen empathetically and validate a child’s feelings
4. label emotions in words age appropriate so the child can understand
5. help the child come up with appropriate ways to solve or deal with an upsetting issue or situation.
I can’t even begin to tell you how this book helped me!! I read it many time (and continue to do so). At first it seemed so strange and foreign (of course…with my background) but I wrote things on sticky notes and did exactly what he said…and it worked!!!
So basically…in your situation…the premise would be…NOT to argue and get her to see your point of view. But to listen and validate her feelings. *Feelings are NOT logical…they simply are* To mirror what she says and reflect back to her…”I see that you are angry that I didn’t try harder to get you to continue school”. It’s NOT that you agree with what she is saying…buy simply that you are listening, validating and reflecting HER feelings back to her. You are “emotionally coaching her”. It all seemed very strange to me a few years ago…very artificial…but has become more of a natural process now. Of course…you would have to set boundaries with your daughter so she wouldn’t dump on you or get abusive toward you (set limits) while helping her problem solve. Of course…this is a huge issue and there is a lot of anger built up over time…so it will be a process.
I commend you again for making the effort…and please continue to let us know how this progress. xxx


P.S. #2 above
*recognize emotional expression as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching*
was really difficult for me to grasp! Coming from the horribly abusive childhood I came from…I was triggered by my daughter’s anger, pain, her need to be comforted etc etc. But once I was able to 1. be there for her emotionally while also 2. healing and being there for myself emotionally (validating my own feelings etc)…I saw how this brought my daughter and I closer. She was much more willing to let me teach her when she felt validated and heard…and this created intimacy. I feel that even a tiny tiny bit of effort, healing, recognition is enough to get us started. At first…it seemed so overwhelming…like I had to 100% heal before any changes could be made. But even a 1% healed me is better than prior…and then I can work on a 2% and so on and so on. Another thing I had to realize and accept is that I was the mother, the adult and therefore responsible for the relationship and my feelings. That’s where journaling, therapy and committing to healing myself came in. Hope this helps a bit!xxx


I never knew what I was hearing from my mum (RIP). When I told her my dad was abusing me sexually and emotionally, she said, “I don’t want to hear it. You look so unattractive when you whine. Don’t you realize that ALL MEN do those sorts of things?”
Did she tell me that because she had been abused and really thought “all men” abused their daughters or was she telling me that so she could try and weasel out (again) of any accountability to keep her children safe?
I will never know. Maybe it was both.


Anger was not allowed in my family either, or, I will amend that to say my parents were entitled to it but we were just mere children who didn’t have the same rights.

Yeah, that’s what I meant. Like you said.


I wish that my mother would be accountable for what she did to me and if she were I would be willing to give her a second chance. A guarded one but one none the less

That’s the way I feel. I recently listened to a religious broadcast on “forgiveness.” The broadcast said, “Forgiveness does NOT mean ‘forgeting’.” You don’t have to ‘forget.’ You can “foregive” but it may mean setting boundaries with that person.

To hear this from a religious broadcast was refreshing! My mom thinks “forgiveness” means “erase it and start over, except she doesn’t have to change, she goes right back to business as usual.” Which is what Darlene calls “Sucking you back in.”


Lynn, I was very interested in your situation with your daughter, and I am so happy for you that your first talk went well. How great that you both were able to have a discussion and were willing to try! That is a huge deal you just accomplished . I never had that from my parents and It would have meant the world to me if I had!
I was thinking about the school thing with your daughter, and I wonder if she didnt quite know how to articulate it with you. I have a brother who felt angry and almost bitter (when I spoke with him years ago)that our parents didnt help him more. He actually graduated from high school and was in a fraternity at college, but CHOSE to quit college. Now that I am older, I think I understand what he really meant is that he was not actually guided by the parents to help him prepare for adulthood and a career. He wasnt talked to and encouraged when he was in high school to go to college and pick something to study and plan for a career of any kind. It was non-verbally assumed and expected, but there really was no communication or guidance. Anyway, I was thinking about your situation with your daughter, and I wondered if she is referring to something like that….yes, you did try to get her to school, and yes, she chose not to go or finish, but maybe she now feels frustrated and wishes that she had been prepared for the “real world” and making money and grown up responsibilities more from you?? I could be wrong, and am sorry if I am, but that was what occurred to me. xxxxx


Hi Lynne,

I feel like I’m going to rain on your parade here, but I hope you can just take it as my experience, not necessarily what your experience has to be. I think there is a lot of influence on my kids from others in my family of origin that make my daughter more stubborn or something.

I have tried to have a discussion with my oldest daughter. I actually had a meeting with her that included my husband (her stepfather), my pastor and my brother-in-law who was there in support of her. The pastor was trying to be neutral and my husband was there for me. She voiced her complaints and I tried to just validate her feelings. I didn’t try to make excuses or even give reasons, I just expressed when I could that I was wrong in what I did and I wish I’d done differently. She said that she forgave me, but she continued to be angry and critical with me once the meeting was over.

That was about 10 years ago, and looking back I feel that all I managed to actually do was to allow her to feel justified in her anger toward me. At that point she had “rescued” my younger daughter from me and was trying to keep her from me. While she had a lot to say about how I had failed as a parent, she didn’t really have anything helpful to say about how I could possibly succeed at this point. She was supported by my sister and her husband at that time while she was pregnant with her 5th child at the age of about 25. She was married at that time but her husband was not treating her well (she kept that secret) and they divorced a few years later.

After trying very hard to be supportive of her and feeling rejected and ignored ever since the confrontation, my younger daughter was mistreated by her husband and I tried to help her out of that situation. Ultimately, I feel like all my younger daughter wanted was a constant flow of money to maintain her determination to continue to make bad choices, and my husband & I simply ran out of money.

The help that I had initially be asked to give became considered interference. The abuse that I witnessed was considered my own distorted viewpoint. As of today, I have been out of contact with my family of origin, my daughters, and my grandchildren for most of a year.

My last contact with my oldest daughter was an attempt to apologize again for anything I’d done to hurt her, but also address the fact that I felt that we didn’t have any real connection anymore because I didn’t feel that she actually wanted one.

Her first response was that she wanted time to think about what I’d written to her because she was going through a lot of other crap at the time. After a month or so had passed, I got upset that she was really NOT going to respond and when I contacted her about feeling like she really didn’t care, I was yelled at and cursed at. I was told that I was the most self-absorbed person that she ever met and she never wanted me to contact her again.

When she contacted me 8 months later, I still felt like I’d need to walk on eggshells and the entire weight or restoring the relationship would be on my shoulders. That was the pattern that had always existed and always failed. So I told her that I remembered our relationship over many years to be one in which I was avoided, ignored, lied to, and criticized, and I didn’t want to have to feel those things again.

It’s the relentless pattern of everyone that I am no longer in contact with, except for my grandchildren. By the time they’re grown, I suspect they will have been trained in the same manner.

I have one son who still comes around for holidays and my birthday. He’s trying to be neutral. I’m trying to accept that because he hasn’t been aggressively cruel, but it really feels awkward.

I really hope that things work out better for you and your daughter. I still hope that someday things may work out better for me and my daughters, but I don’t expect that anytime soon. I have different hopes to keep me going for the current future. I’m learning to be myself and trust myself and keeping company with people who are willing to treat me with simple human respect and divine grace. I’m learning to treat myself that way too.



Darlene, I am just now reading this article and it is really resonating with me. I haven’t had a chance to read any of the comments yet, but I intend to go back and read them. When you say that while mothers may have some sort of organic disorder that causes their behavior “knowing that is only information” it is one of those Darlene-isms that makes me feel like somebody just kicked me in the gut– a familiar feeling on pretty much every visit to this site– in a good way!! I’ve talked here before and with you personally in one to one counseling regarding my FOO and I won’t get into that again here. I’ve recently allowed myself to be dragged back into the whole toxicity a bit because my mother was not receiving appropriate care at the facility she was in, which was also quite far from my home. She developed skin breakdown. I am a nurse, and also share medical power of attorney with my sister who is also a nurse. I found a new facility, made the arrangements for her transfer, and when I received pushback from my sibs, I told them that they had a couple of choices: I could remove myself as Mom’s POA and they could do whatever they liked, they could tell me what time each day they were traveling to the facility to make sure she was eating, clean and moving around, or we could go ahead and move her. We moved her. I felt good about this and felt it was a victory. I even felt I was handling it well. The constant phone calls, texts and e-mails all started up again, and I let myself get sucked in. In the meantime, I work full time, I’m in college and my husband works out of town all week. Last week, I ended up absolutely raging at my sixteen year old son over a relatively minor lapse. This boy, who outweighs me by 75 pounds, was looking at me in absolute fear, and he had tears in his eyes. Oh, wow, what a wake up call for me!!! Oh, yeah, this is what the cycle of abuse looks like. I apologized to him within 30 minutes and we talked about it. We are doing well– better than ever, in fact. I realize that contact comes with a price. A heavy, heavy price. There have times this week when I have been tempted to answer the phone when home with my kids or respond to e-mails or texts when I could be choosing to spend time with my boys instead– sometimes just hanging out watching some dumb show on TV. I have chosen to watch TV. They don’t call it the cycle of abuse for nothing. It’s like a tornado. Stay out of its way.


DXS.. Re#86
Thats interesting. Im a first born and a scapegoat. My husband was the youngest of three and is the scapegoat. My mother described her childhood to me, and she was the oldest and was the scapegoat. I don’t think birth order matters. Its something else. I think it relates to not being wanted for whatever reason or perhaps resembling the husband/wife or other relative that wasn’t liked. You are chosen for that treatment. It is a choice.

In my case it was both..not wanted and resembled the abusive husband in personality- that is active, extrovert, dark hair. In my husband’s case he came along 1 yr after his brother, I think he was unplanned and was a premie. So not wanted. Our abuse stories are similar. We both got away and stayed away but never recognized the true reasons and similarities until 3 years ago.

Being a scapegoat and living in domestic violence you are much less protected than the golden child. You get the blaming and the shaming on top of the violence. I understand it now but I don’t know if I will ever get over my anger of it now that I know how calculated it was.
It is truly liberating to know it wasn’t me. Im not and have never been crazy. It was all a lie.


Amber Re#97..
I had to be perfect all the time too. Ask to go the bathroom wrong could cause a screaming rage.
No needs, no emotions, no problems. And no response to someone else’s rage. Stand silent and take it no matter what “it” is. Frightful. I was well trained by age 6 so I relate. Perfection is so hard when you are 6. Never dirty or noisy. No toys in the house. No playing in the house. No friends. No relatives. I grew up with extreme B&W thinking and a need for perfection. All signs of the abuse.
Your words really spoke to me. I thought it was only our house until I was a teen and had friends from worse houses.


Karen R, I know many times on these blogs you’ve said things that reminded me of my own situation. That’s because we both were expected to be perfect and not have needs, wants, feelings, or dare to get upset by someone else’s anger. I was allowed to have friends but we had to play outside, while my other friends were allowed to have friends in the house. It wouldn’t have been fun anyway, my father was usually in a sour mood and all noise bothered him. He come in in a rage and shut off music I was playing that wasn’t even loud and heaven forbid if I played a wrong note on the piano or got something wrong on a test, or didn’t clean something to perfection. And my mother? I couldn’t have ” needs” be use it a bother to her to meet them. And no one ever could predict when she would explode. I spent a lot of time in my room away from both of them. When they divorced when I was 17 my mother credited me with the blame for her decision. She was never accountable for her actions and I was her easy scapegoat.

No wonder I have trouble standing up for myself. Today I had to deal with a woman who is a caretaker for my special needs daughter a few hours a week. We’ve been through a situation several times over the past few years where she ran into financial problems and tries to push me for extra hours. Today once again she has run into difficulties and was badgering me to give her extra hours which I don’t need. I felt the fear of the little girl inside of me when I had to deal with her. I took a few deep breaths. I told the little girl inside that I feel her fear and understand it but also told her not to worry because she doesnt have to try to take this on herself like I always had to with no help at all when I was a child. I felt young Amber relax a little. I was able to let the adult Amber come through once I calmed young Amber down.I told this woman ( once again) that I would give her extra time WHEN I NEED IT but I can not give her the hours when I don’t require her services. I was pleasant but firm. The adult Amber dealt with the situation. It may sound like it was easy but it was very difficult for me.. Like a Darlene always says, this is a process and it takes time. So, difficult that it was, I’m glad I held onto my boundary with this woman.


Ok, birth order doesn’t seem to matter. I’m starting to think…. my mom hadn’t recovered from losing the child before me and had some sort of “expectation” for that child that I was supposed to be and I didn’t “fit” that “expectation” plus combined with the fact that I was a bit precocious (and when I say “precocious” I mean “ahead of my time” on a lot of things and didn’t quite fit into small town society) and mom didn’t know how to handle “precocious.” Instead, she just wanted to “blend in” and not have anything “stand out” such as I who didn’t go with the “norm.” So, I got S/G’d and swept under the rug, except for “the appearance” of doing what she was “supposed to.”

I’m almost 60 and why did it take me until I was well into my 50’s to figure it all out?

My mom’s birthday is this month. I didn’t give her a present last year, nor did I give her a Christmas present. Well, today I bought her a gift card to a store (not what I would USUALLY give her), and I’m going to wait until I’m somewhere she won’t think I will be, and then I will send it to her, but I won’t say who it’s from. I don’t know why I decided to do this, but I’m just “feeling” it. So, I decided I will send it, but she won’t know who it’s from. I guess, to me, it’s like… “ok, I remembered her birthday, but if I don’t say who it’s from, it’s not like I’m trying to ‘buy’ her love…. I’m just remembering her birthday nothing more.” I’ve been on a second round of N/C for six months.

Karen R, wow, ask to go to the bathroom wrong? Holy cow! I know I have issues with going to the bathroom, but it’s a psychological one, I can’t go to the bathroom if other people are “nearby.” I don’t know why I have issues with this, but there is a name for it, it’s a long word that starts with a “p.”


Hi Jane
Great to hear from you! Good for you for catching ALL of this. The thing with your family and then the thing with you son! This is wonderful.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Laila
What helped me move forward (and this is HUGE) is realizing that it doesn’t matter what was wrong with them ~ healing came when I validated the damage that was done and when I faced the grief, anger, fear and loss that I had suffered because of the people who did the crime itself and the people who were so careless that they ignored it.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Beth
Great comments!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Pearlj
Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you for sharing here esp. your point about protecting our children.
hugs, Darlene


Re your first comment asking me why I don’t regard my mother as a true Narcissist; A disorder is not something that can be controlled. Although my mother may have typical narcissistic mother traits, she doesn’t have those traits in other relationships.
Also ~ For me as long as I tried to figure out my mother and what her issue was, I was stuck thinking about my mother and not healing or thinking/validating me.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Amber
I got past the ‘freezing fear’ ~ it came with time. Over time I got stronger in validating my right to have feelings and in the truth that the way I had been treated was just plain wrong and through that I had started to see how I avoided any kind of standing up for myself and little by little I began to speak up in a very calm and truthful way. The nasty people stopped being nasty or they went away and I began to attract a very lovely new type of people into my life that are totally on board with real love and mutual respectful treatment. I don’t have that fear anymore.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Clare
The key about the fact that your mother blamed you for interfering with her life is that SHE did this. It wasn’t something that you did or something that was wrong with you. The message you got is what I refer to as “the damage” caused. Yay for newly opened eyes!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


I had a better understanding of overt and covert when I looked up those words by themselves. Neither type of abuser is good. I don’t understand how the word covert can even be paired with narcissism I rather call it a covert abuser. (covert meaning more hidden.. not as easy to see etc.)
Hugs, Darlene


Hi all,
My mother just told me that she always loved me and that,if i say one more time that i wasn’t loved,then it meant i’m a liar.Her main argument is that,all my life,i never lacked money.This is true,which makes it all very confusing.Even therapists might fall for that argument.In your comments,many of you write that,in your childhood,you were not properly fed,clothed etc.I had all my material needs met,and even more.But providing only strictly financial comfort is sometimes another type of abuse,which is still abuse.Love and feelings were never there.They were replaced by terror and lack of safety,not knowing what tomorrow will bring or if the next fight won’t escalate into violence.

Usually,abuse also involves material neglect.But some abusers use money as a power tool.Then,they sadistically equal money with love.If the police ever came into my house,they’d find no evidence of neglect,on the contrary.In other abusive homes,police may find children who are hungry,dirty etc.This was never my case,which might make me look like an ungrateful fraud.Still,the trauma of emotional abuse is in my heart.I never invented anything.I paid a huge price for each and every financial facility they gave me.They always told me:”Look what we’ve done for you.You should thank us,instead of complaining to others,saying what bad parents we are.”

In my opinion,everything they did was in order to feel good about themselves.Also,to cover their abuse.


My brother told me “I would hardly call mom providing you with dance and piano lessons and having a nice house to live in being abused.” He has OCPD and I have DID and who knows what all my parents got but all I know is that house was one big sick toxic mess to live in and I don’t care how many “things” they bought me because none of it made up for the lack of warmth and compassion that any normal human being would expect to get from some stranger on the street let alone their own stinkin parents when they are a child no less.

I never got hugged. I never heard the words I love you. I never got one iota in the emotional support department and it killed who I was in the process. I wasn’t allowed to think or feel or do anything for myself. My father dictated everything that we all did and what he dictated was sick. After 2 years of therapy it is just now finally starting to sink in just how sick and toxic living in that home really was and that is because they brainwashed me into believing that what was going on in that house was normal and it takes a long time to come out of the fog to see that this is not how healthy people live in their homes.

I don’t ever remember having a normal conversation with any of them. I told my therapist there must have been one but I can’t recall what it was. The mere fact that my father was drunk every single stinkin day of my life was abuse and the fact that my mother enabled his poor behavior goes right along with it. Any time my mother tried to do something nice for me my father was all over it using it as a weapon against me by threatening to chop it up or smash it to smithereens right along with his threats of stomping all of the family pets to death in front of my face that sicko. THINGS don’t mean SQUAT. How you treat people does and how both of my parents treated me was like a piece of garbage.

Have to peace out on this one. It hit a nerve!!!



I don’t like it either when parents use things as a way to prove how great they are. When I tell my mother how hurt I was from her treatment, she ticks off the things she did to show her supposed greatness: I had food, shelter, clothing, and went to good schools in spite of her working a job she hated and us being poor. (How would she know the schools were good? She wasn’t enrolled in them.) One day care center I attended would hit kids on the hands with pens if they didn’t finish homework (in kindergarten!) Another school I went to was a Baptist school where every teacher had a paddle. My first grade teacher loved to single me out as her personal whipping girl. I’m not sure why she hated me so much, but she wanted a scapegoat, and I guess I was the perfect one.

I was (and still) told that I’m loved and was given hugs, but it was confusing considering that I was scolded and punished for the littlest infractions. I’m sorry that some of you here have never been hugged or told “I love you.”, but I rather for someone to be honest in that since than say they love me one moment, and hurt me the next. Even today, I’m still told that I’m loved and am a blessing, but I’m treated as if my emotional pain is my fault. Talk about confusing!


Hi all-reading through this article and then the comments again and again and I want to share how I am struggling so much. I am trying to wade through some of my false beliefs…and what I keep on coming up against are the LIES. Lies upon lies upon lies…big lies and HUGE lies, lies inside of lies…on top of lies…around and sideways. It has left me feeling so crazy because I am thinking that my entire life up until I went NC about 8 years ago…was one big huge lie!! My “mother” was forced into an arranged marriage at the age of 18…I think she was hugely personality disordered (NPD) + mentally ill, abusive etc. Her husband was also personality disordered (NPD??), an alcoholic gambler, abusive, rage addicted, cruel, on and on. My mother cheated on her husband with tons of different men, got pregnant with me (2nd child) by another man…and then stayed with her husband and had 2 more children and pretended I was his child. But he knew I wasn’t his child…absolutely HATED me because I was a constant reminder of his wife’s infidelity and they both scapegoated me horribly. I bore all the abuse, narc projections, the you are “crazy, evil, something wrong with you” etc ever since I can remember. I only know all this because when I turned 18…my maternal grandmother told me all the details (she was hugely abusive + personality disordered as well and told me to get back at my mother ie. her daughter!!) Nobody in my FOO or extended can even admit the truth…and I had to walk away from absolutely everyone for my very sanity. Now I am trying to untangle everything and there are so many lies…I have no idea what the truth even is?? Where do I even begin?? Do I just go with even one belief that I know to be true in my heart and follow it?? Do I not look at the actual lies alone but look at the false beliefs that stemmed from it?? Thanks to everyone for sharing because I am getting so much from all of your comments and experiences.


I meant to say “…but I rather for someone to be honest in that [sense]…” I wish there was a way to edit mistakes here. I’m kind of a stickler for spelling and grammar. It’s probably because I’m such a wordsmith, something that I’m under-appreciated for in my family.


Also, I dislike the use of being taken to fun places as evidence of good parenting. Going to favorite restaurants or Disney World are extras, and are not indicators of love.


Ah Laura, same issue I have. All my material needs were met, but I never felt loved. Instead, I was made a scapegoat for my mom’s own issues. And I get you about money as a power tool. Mom told me she would never do that, and then turned around and did it twice. So, I removed myself from the equation so she couldn’t pull that again. It’s a tough choice to make. Money does not equal love.

Darlene, yes, it’s hard to understand how covert and narcissism can be in the same sentence. “Overt” is obvious. “Covert” is hard to prove.

Kris, I can relate to what you are saying. In the hugs department, I didn’t want hugs from my family, because I felt it was phony.


Hi Anon,

It already sounds like you got a good start and you are right, this process is like wading through a sea of lies. There’s no way to get around it. You have to walk right through it and yes it does royally suck at times but there are also times to rejoice when you are able to figure out something that has haunted you a lifetime and you are finally able to put it to bed for good so it doesn’t keep on hurting you in the future anymore.

What works for me is journaling on a daily basis. That is where I discover so many truths about the lies I was brainwashed into believing about myself. Just start writing about whatever you are feeling at the time and see where it takes you. Don’t be afraid to ask the question why. Why do I feel sad now? Why do I feel angry? What just triggered me into beating myself up with my critical inner voice? Ask who what where when!!

Another thing I do now is listen to my body. When I feel a pang in my gut I ask myself what just caused this and it is always due to me not standing up for myself and allowing other people to walk all over me. My inner child is screaming for me to stand up and be counted and when I don’t that is where that pang in my gut that makes me feel angry or helpless or sad or hopeless sets in.

I read every book I can get my hands on. Each one has taught me something new that helped me figure out a different aspect of what I need to do to overcome the damaging affects of my parent’s abuse. You basically have to learn how to re-parent yourself. I needed to learn how to comfort and sooth myself. I had to overcome the fear of feeling my own feelings from never being allowed to express them when I was a child. Overcoming shame is huge when you are someone who was abused as a child.

Darlene’s site has so many good posts on it. Her e-book is the only book that I came across that explains the ROOT causes of where these false belief systems originated from and she gives you advice on what you need to do to overcome these sick mind sets so I would definitely read her e-book

Separating from your FOO is imperative at the beginning stages of this journey because they will be able to suck you back in if you are still around them if you are someone like me who was totally broken at the beginning stages of this journey. From what you said you don’t have contact with them anyway which is good. I see a psychologist for therapy once a week.

The books that initially helped me the most were: the big red book from ACOA(adult children of alcoholics). If you want to know how living with an addict affected you this is the one. It explains codependency, the different characteristics we take on growing up in that toxic environment. The Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel is a more technical read and it explains the ins and outs of interpersonal neurobiology, how your insecure attachment to your primary caregiver affects you for the rest of your life. How your mind develops as a child and how trauma impacts it. If you suffer from Complex PTSD read COMPLEX PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker. EXCELLENT. My flashbacks aren’t visual like people who suffer from regular PTSD. Mine are due to dissociating so they are more of a feeling rather then a visual that constantly attacks me like feeling helpless, lonely, angry etc. This book explains how to conquer that inner critical voice that tells you what a worthless piece of garbage you are. A quick read with good Q & A format: Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden. To understand how abuse causes shame read: Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw. If you suffer from DID: The Haunted Self by Onno Van der Hart. This is a textbook explaining every aspect of Dissociative Identity Disorder and it is the mack daddy of books on this subject and I have read many. The book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud helped me with learning what are realistic boundaries and how do I go about setting them. You can read excerpts of these books on various websites on-line. I look at the table of contents and see if it addresses the particular aspects that I want more information on. There are a zillion more books that I have read. Get a good understanding of what codependency is. Just google whatever you are interested in. There are so many informative websites with really good articles explaining different aspects of how abuse affects you.

I am blessed. I have a good support system with my husband and 3 really good friends and most importantly I am strong in my faith. What really helps is I am self aware. I am willing to look at the hard truths about my childhood. I am willing to face the fact that I was used and abused and how this sick mind set affected me all of my life. You have to find the courage inside of yourself to be able to do this and you have to accept the fact that it is going to take a long time and you have to be willing to pick yourself up and dust yourself off time and time again because this process is very painful filled with a multitude of losses but I rather live my life in truth then live it in a lie any day of the week so to me all of this pain is worth it so I can one day finally be free from the damaging affects that my parents abuse caused me. Most importantly I never gave up hope. Even on my darkest days there was a little voice inside of me that said don’t let them win Kris. If you die they win. Somehow, someway you will be able to overcome.


Hope this helps.



Hi Anon:

Fellow goat here. You say you went no contact with your family 8 years ago. I have fluctuated from no contact to low contact.

I have a question for you. When you went no contact, did your family pick another goat?

Mine has. It’s often me, especially when I try to enforce boundaries and object to disrespectful treatment or dish them their own treatment. That’s not allowed. The disrespect only goes one way.

My younger brother is catching some of it. Not to the extent that I got it, but enough that he has become extremely quiet and distrustful of family and at one point. When I have had absolutely no contact, that’s when they seem to drive him more bonkers and that is when I hear from him (complaining, mostly).

I have thought of going completely no contact over a sustained period of time but have not yet.


DXS- My mother started hugging me when she was 70 and I was 40 after she had a heart attack. It never felt right to me and now I know the reason why but back then I was still enmeshed with her. It felt fake to me too. Once again she used me to make her own self feel better.


* Dear Kris-thank you SO much for your very extensive post. I really + truly mean that…you took the time and made the effort to help me (a complete and utter stranger). It makes me want to weep…and I think so many of us here feel that because we were denied the most basic kindness when we were the most vulnerable. So…thank you. I have quite a few of the books you mentioned…and actually have a stack of books this high that I am always going through. The one by Pete walker (I actually have a couple by him) are excellent…but were too triggering for me last year…have to try again. And I DO have Darlene’s e-book that I am diligently working through. And you are right…this website and her e-book are the only places I know where she discusses in such depth + detail how to undo the damage. Everything she says just makes absolute 100% sense…but I never thought about it like that before!!! Like I never even thought I deserved to be treated with love and respect as a child…I just wanted the abuse to stop. I just wanted the scapegoating and all the rest of it to stop. I think what saved me as a child was our nanny. I was born and grew up in S. Africa (we immigrated to Canada when I was 13) but…we had a nanny whom I truly loved as a mother. And her love, care and kindness saved me otherwise …I shudder to even think what would have happened. I have been NC with FOO for about 8 years and NC with the extended for over 5 years. My FOO disowned me, really, when I got married (largest blessing…in retrospect) and then I cut off contact with the extended over 5 years ago. I didn’t plan it out…the abuse and flying monkey crap just got too much and I had to do it. Another blessing. I stumbled across Darlene’s website about 6-7 months ago…and started reading very very slowly…always coming back until I could fully understand and have the strength to look at these deep rooted issues. I started therapy about a year ago…I journal…But it seems overwhelming at times. I, too, was never allowed to have any feelings, no comfort…ever. No validation…no acknowledgement. Just ABUSE. Lies. More abuse. More lies. On and on and on. But thank you so much for all your help. I am going to stay the course. I would rather live in truth (like you) than with all the lies. xxx


* Dear Eira: wow!!!so many SG out there!! Honestly…I have no idea if they picked another SG because I went NC. My gut tells me that they did…and it would be another kid…vulnerable, helpless, innocent. But I can’t tell you definitively. I have a nephew and he must be about 14 years old now…I think it would be him. And my heart breaks because he is such a good, kind, sweet boy. But his father is my brother…part of the sick, dysfunctional FOO I grew up in…and he is weak, spineless, an alcoholic…on and on. UGH!!! These people are truly sick beyond belief. Going NC (in retrospect) was a blessing. Actually…my FOO disowned me when I got married (even though after I heard through a FM aunt that my mother was going around telling everyone she has no idea why I stopped talking to her!!). And then 5+ years ago…I cut off contact with everyone in the extended family and even people I knew in the community; the abuse and craziness was getting to be too much. Another blessing. xxx


Anon, Darlene compares coming out of the fog as leaving a cult. I actually was the scapegoat of a dysfunctional family who were, and still are, part of a religious sect/community (I’m not sure they qualify as a cult because there is no financial abuse or one charismatic leader, but they certainly do as a sect). I’m also a second born, and there is an addictive disorder in my family too. I am not sure my mother qualifies as a narcissist or if she just has tendencies. She will never accept blame for anything and its a futile effort to try to talk to her about it, because even my abuse is my own fault “Spare the rod spoil the child.” I came out of the religious fog about the same time I realized how fairly terrible my family is.

My mom has been my primary abuser. She can be covert. My older sister acted as my secondary abuser and that role shifted to my younger sister at about the time my younger sister had the first baby and my mother transferred the Golden Child status from older sister to younger sister who gave her her first grandbaby and married the most well-off husband.

But I digress. I had a gut feeling that it would be my brother who would get the SG role and that next in line would be my nephew, who has depression problems. You are probably on target. I don’t know about your spirituality but I pray for them.


Hi DXS,Kris and S1988,
My abusers tactic is to make me doubt myself and my truth by saying that i have false memories.Whenever i catch myself doubting,i remember everything they did or said to me.Those things were real,not my imagination,although i wish i had imagined it or that it was all just a nightmare.I also look on the internet,and the fact that my parents really were abusers is confirmed to me for the thousand time.Their behavior fits exactly into a toxic personality disorder,and that’s the reality.I will never try to run away from my truth in order to escape it.I bravely face the facts.I owe it to myself,to validate the little girl inside of me.In my private journal,i write down their abusive actions or words.I do this in order to have proof that it’s not all in my head,that it really happened.A child should never grow up being afraid of what parents might do or say next.For me,it was:What if my mother finally managed to kill herself,like she said she would? What if she started drinking again?

Kris #123,your brother sounds a lot like my sister.Usually,golden children (gc) would say what he told you.During childhood,gc are given something that looks very much like love,but isn’t.Gc might say that,since they were never hit,yelled at etc,then it means they were loved.That’s why they’ll forever deny that the parents were not ok.Both of us have been abused and we have traumatic memories.But at least we know that we were never the problem and that our parents were mentally ill.We have something to recover from,while the gc have to admit that they were never loved and that it was all an illusion.

Golden children are the abusers projected image.So abusers give gc the false impression that they love them.But narcs love is not love simply because it’s not healthy,compared to how normal people love themselves and their children,which IS healthy.


Dear Eira: yes…I can certainly see the similarities of a cult and a dysfunctional/toxic family! Before I went NC with my extended family (actually…I didn’t even know what NC was!! All I knew was I had to get these people out of my life)…but I kept on getting this image of a swamp. And I thought…interacting with these people is the equivalent of building a house on a swamp…no matter what you do or what you build…it’s still on a filthy cesspool of a swamp!! From what I have read on SG…we are the ones who tend to seek help/therapy etc because we are the strongest/healthiest/most abused. We are also the ones who are cast out/ostracized etc…so we go NC by default a lot of times. Or…if we become strong enough to step out of the SG role we have been cast in since childhood…that upsets the order of things.
Anyways…I am a spiritual person…not religious. But truly…I pray for my nephew…but the rest of them can rot in hell for all I care. That’s the way I truly feel about these evil people…and I think there are times in life when that word is completely appropriate.


*Dear Kris…re-reading through your post again this morning and YES…the overcoming shame part is HUGE!! Because I was made to feel as I was wrong…the very essence of me was unacceptable, wrong, everything was my fault, I was evil, I was responsible for the way I was treated…the shame part has been huge. I have read Dr. Brene Brown’s books (she does a lot of work specifically on shame)…The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly and I Thought It Was Just Me (But it isn’t)…all great books!! She also had a TED talk you can watch. I think it’s just so overwhelming…at times I need to remind myself to take a break, to enjoy life, to take care of myself. The getting to the root of the false beliefs…it’s draining and exhausting and…but…I made the decision and promise to myself to forge on. xxx


“Gc might say that,since they were never hit,yelled at etc,then it means they were loved.That’s why they’ll forever deny that the parents were not ok.”

I notice that in some cases (or at least in mine) the golden children did receive punishments, but don’t think of them as abuse. They became “good” so that they would no longer “need” to be hit, yelled at, etc. Some people think that golden children are that way because they were spoiled rotten, but that’s not always true. It’s like that with my siblings, and they think that I’m overreacting to call our treatment abuse.

My brother has three teenage sons. I’m not sure if he still hits them, but they were hit when they were younger. (My mother did that to them, too, when they would visit for the summer. I wish that I could’ve stopped it, but when they were toddlers, I was a kid myself (in my teens) so intervention would’ve gotten me in trouble, too.)

My family defends their treatment so much that my sister and mother practically shrugged or said that “I should mind my own business.” when my brother vituperated me for condemning his treatment of his sons. My sister doesn’t have children (yet) since she’s still in school, but I fear for my niece/nephew under her care if she continues to hold onto her beliefs. I just have to hope that my teenage nephews would grow up parenting differently than how they were raised. The youngest at 14, is a “problem child” according to my brother and sister-in-law. (Hmm, I wonder why?) I have a feeling that either he would estrange from them as an adult or adopt harmful behavior as a way to rebel against his upbringing. (I hope he doesn’t choose the latter.)

This is why I can’t have a relationship with them. How can I when I’m seen as a naughty child while they deny their dysfunction?


Oh my, whomever said that the G/C becomes that to avoid getting punished, oh boy. I did that as a child. I became “good”(according to their definition) so I wouldn’t get punished or yelled at or whatever. But it turned me into a “can’t do that without asking my mommy” person, and deep down I was resenting it and couldn’t wait to get out from under the parents. Then, I got an opportunity to move 3,000 miles away. During that time, I started to discover “me.” But, then you had to play this “double role” where you were yourself at home, but when you did the annual holiday visit, you turned back into that G/C.

I finally got to the “enough is enough” stage. I’m tired of the double life and pretending. That’s when everything unraveled. I was 46. I’m close to 60 now, so been fighting it for years,


S1988,i’m sorry for your situation with your siblings.It seems like they chose to continue the cycle of abuse.I too hope that your teenage nephews will parent differently.

After she hit her child,my sister labelled him as a problem child and took him to a psychiatrist,when SHE was the one that should have looked for medical help.

The golden child topic is controversial indeed.When i was in school,i was bullied by a rich girl in class.My abusers told me that i should treat the bully in exactly the same way:hit her back,insult her etc.In other words,my own parents taught me how to act violently.They told me it was the only way to survive in the jungle outside.Here on EFB,we are survivors who had bully parents.Yet,we did not pay them back in a revengeful way.Instead,we chose no contact when possible.

Returning to the bully.The next day,my abusers sent me to school dressed in a fur coat,to show the bully that i too have money.I felt even more embarrassed dressed like that.Of course i was further made fun of and the mockery got worse.So my abusers sent my sister to school to talk to the bully,since i was incapable of standing up for myself.My sister told the bully that she should mess only with people the same level as her,and that hurt me like hell.I felt flawed and humiliated by my sister too,as if my parents hadn’t done enough damage.I had expected my sister to defend me,not to imply that i was no match in comparison to my bully.She made me see the bully as being right,a strong superior girl.

Looking back,i now realize that my sister was not my mother and she shouldn’t have been delegated that role.My parents should have handled the bully themselves,not make my sister do it.After all,my parents were supposed to be the mature,adult,responsible caretakers.

So yes,in some cases,the golden children are not always priviledged.Sometimes they are given responsibilities and tasks beyond their age.

S1988,i can imagine how hard it is for you to witness your siblings continue the dysfunction,sitting there in silence and not being able to do anything about it,to wake them up.It must be frustrating.The most important relationship right now is with yourself.Hold on to it!


Not sure which post to put this comment on, but I had a light bulb moment today.

I went hiking. Why is this important? Back story:

Three years ago, I broke my left foot. Took four months of physical therapy before I could walk again. I can walk now, but ever since, my “good” foot and my “formerly broke” foot experience things differently. If I’m on unfamiliar and uneven terrain, my “good” foot says “I’ve got this” and my “other” foot says “Oops, I’m scared.” Thusly, I experience these “brain battles” where I’m trying to figure out which sensation to believe.

Well, that’s my childhood. I felt “X” but was “told” that I was supposed to feel “Y.” Which one do I believe? Well, as a child, I “believed” the one that would get me in good graces with Mom, which led to a false self that I later rebelled against and am now trying to come to terms with.


Alaina #11– I have been trying to get time to read your post for several days and each time I’ve been interrupted. I now know why I kept returning to it. That is really amazing– your insight into the situation blows me away. Thanks,


DXS, oh I can relate! I also followed what I thought my mother would want, or what would keep her from one of her bouts of irrational anger. So the ” X” that I was feeling was pushed deep down inside to the point that I didn’t know what I was feeling. But I had the sensation inside me that something was “off” and I started acting that way with everyone else too; teachers, classmates, friends, boyfriends, and people at work. It was always about behaving how THEY wanted me to. I’m unravelling it all now and letting myself feel my own feelings, and it feels strange at times. Sometimes guilt gets in the way like Im doing something wrong by feeling my own feelings. I was well trained, you see, in the grooming process, and my false self, even with the nagging suppressed feelings felt more comfortable than my authentic self, which brought feelings if guilt because it wasn’t what Mother wanted me to be. I’m glad you posted your message 141. Reading posts like yours helps me continue to sort all this stuff out.


Hi Anon- It’s nice to be appreciated. Thank you for your kind words and I will look into the books that you read too. They sound very interesting.

A part of me is glad that no one could fully explain how this whole recovery process works because if I ever knew what I had to go through to emerge to the other side of broken I probably would have run away as fast as I could!!! I think you have the right idea. Baby steps and balance. We do need to take breaks and have some fun. Sometimes it’s just hard getting to that place.



DXS, I just wanted to add to my message 143 that even though I am so much more in touch with my real feelings these days, I still have some difficulty showing them to the outside world. It’s a trust issue. My whole life I hid feelings because I would get such a negative reaction from people who had other agendas that were more important than my feelings. So Im still feeling my way through. I don’t trust too many people to see my authentic self yet. Maybe what I really have to do is get past worrying what other people think!


Amber (143 and 154), yes, I can SO RELATE to “being what they want you to be.” And, like you, I still struggle. My mom accused me of not trusting people. DUH!

I call that “other” person BLANCHE. That’s because when I was a child, I thought kids were given “kiddie” names and when you turned 21 you had to change to a “grown up” name. All of my mom’s friends did not have the same types of names my friends had. That’s why I made that conclusion. Blanche just sounded more like a “grown up” name than a “kiddie” name.

Kris (144) yes, baby steps. I want so bad to get through it. My mom just likes to sweep things and pretend they never happened.


Hi Amber & DXS #143 & 145,

I have a hard time being myself too. Everything you said plays into it. I think the biggest problem for me is I DON’T TRUST MY SELF because if I did I would stop trying to mold myself into what I “think” other people want me to be at the time. I hate it. I think it is a matter of building back up my self confidence and learning what I need to do to gain back my self esteem and with that I will eventually stop second guessing myself by learning how to trust my own instincts and eventually that fear of being rejected and abandoned stemming from my childhood will start to dissipate and then maybe I will finally be able to relax enough to be my “self” in front of other people because then I will finally know in my heart that “who” I am is more then good enough. Easier said then done but I think that is what I need to do to finally feel comfortable being me.

Our parents robbed us from the ability to trust ourselves by never allowing us to have our own thoughts or feelings to begin with let alone make any of our own decisions. When I first started this process I was absolutely terrified of my own feelings because I was never allowed to express them either. I didn’t even know what the heck they were at first. Amber that sounded like what you were talking about in your post too. I try to be more self aware now too. It’s hard when you believe that your feelings will kill you if you feel them!!! I am still struggling with separating the false belief system that only bad little girls get angry. It sucks because every time I get mad I feel bad about myself. Everything is so sick and twisted.



Kris, those old habits die hard. We were groomed so well to feel guilty when having our feelings, particularly anger. Yet, how hypocritical that my parents were allowed to give free reign to THEIR anger and other ” negative” emotions. So what is it, kids don’t become human beings until they grow up? Emotions are a privilege for those over 21? Like you said, every thing is sick and twisted. I’ve really been feeling resentful today because I’ve been focusing on all this stuff today. Resentful and angry because I feel that I was robbed of normal emotions because selfish people didn’t want to be inconvenienced by my feelings. They didn’t want to waste their precious time having to deal with it. Or maybe they just didn’t give a crap about how I felt. I’m just getting used to the idea that I have a right to all my feelings. It feels awkward because I was trained to believe my feelings were wrong. There’s a lot of guilt associated with having my feelings. I need to get rid of that guilt because I know I have the right to them.
I relate to what you say about not feeling you can trust yourself. Again, it’s how we were groomed to think. Ugh. I second guess myself too. It shouldn’t be this way. I hope we all work our way out of this.


It’s good to see that some golden children here were able to see through the illusion of their dysfunctional upbringings. In my opinion, golden children are least likely to condemn abusive caretakers because they don’t want to lose the position as the “good” one. That’s why my “golden” older siblings refuse to open their eyes. I have a feeling that my own mother was a golden child because she protects her dead grandmother, the one who raised her and her half-siblings when their mother died, and was very punitive. Maybe the upside about being the scapegoat is that I’m more willing to question my family of origin and that I don’t have to compromise my true self to live up to superficial expectations.



I’ve read in a few places that the advantage of being the scapegoat is that the scapegoat is the most likely one to leave the dysfunctional system. I’m not sure if it is because we seem to have the least to lose, or because we are probably the truth-seekers to begin with. Most of the time, I try to remember that recognizing the dysfunction enough to want to escape is a good thing.



*Hobie and S1988: I have always been the SG…and treated so obviously different my siblings (from the abuse, humiliation,on and on) by BOTH my “parents” and very early on…by my siblings as well (children pick up on hierarchies very early on). Then…treated differently by my extended family as well…because everyone tends to (either consciously or not) pick up on these things. By the time I was about 15…I assumed I was adopted. From what I have read and experienced myself…the dysfunctional family NEEDS the SG!! Desperately needs the SG to take the focus of what is REALLY going on. The fact that dad is beating up mom or drunk at 10:am?? The fact that mom is screwing every man in sight and emotionally neglects all the children?? the fact that little brother is doing drugs and got some girl pregnant…lets all focus on the SG!!! Lets all blame the SG…lets say the SG is crazy, deranged, weird, mentally ill. So…the SG serves an intrinsically vital function to the FOO…so everyone can pretend that all is well, everything is okay, everyone is functional…except for that darn SG!! So…When i began to come into my own…I got married …I was disowned…and (even though it has been HUGELY painful to be so easily discarded, thrown away)…now…8+ years later (I have lost count)…I can see it as a HUGE blessing. Because even as an adult…they still desperately NEEDED me to be the SG. No matter that I educated myself, am accomplished at what I do…etc etc…they HAD to have me in that role. Because…if the dysfunctional FOO allows the SG to leave the role and see that person as a multidimensional human being…then the spotlight will be on the truly crazy stuff going on. To give you an example…my older sister will have a dream and then relay it as if it’s reality. No one in my FOO seems to think it’s odd or crazy or weird. But when I think that (for example) women should have equal rights…I am but a sheer madcap and mentally ill. This is but a tiny example to illustrate how the tables turn to make it appear as if everyone else is so functional and the SG is crazy/troubled/evil etc etc. A true Alice at the Mad Hatter tea party situation.



Everything you said resonates with me. I just wish I’d realized it much much sooner than I did. I’ll be 59 next month! I’ve gone NC with my family only within the past year. I was NC with them for about 3 years between 2000 & 2005. I’m not sure exactly when it began & ended, but at that point I didn’t understand how rigid the family dynamic was.

As a kid, I remember having Jackie Kennedy & Caroline paper dolls and somehow imagined that I was accidentally switched at birth and was meant to be the president’s daughter instead of where I was. That was actually before JFK was assassinated, so it turns out that poor Caroline didn’t have it much better than me in the long run, though the circumstances of her heartache were very different. I didn’t even know if we were born the same year! But it somehow made me feel better to think that I landed in the family I had by some strange accident, and maybe that was why I felt so out of place.

The thing that’s become heart-breakingly clear in more recent years is that everything I said or did somehow “proved” to them that I was screwed up. It didn’t matter if I succeeded at anything because the fact that I succeeded made the achievement insignificant. It didn’t matter if I was angry at what they were doing to me, or if I was apologetic.

No matter what anyone else in the family is doing, from abusing alcohol or drugs to abusing their spouse or cheating, they were ALL somehow justified or ignored, except for me. Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party is a good description!

Giving up on it all has painful aspects, but escaping is worth it!


I think I’ll always be the scapegoat, even if I’m not there to take the heat. My absence in itself will be the proof that I was was the wicked one. They’ll pretend to be all sad and sorry that I’m missing out on being part of the warm loving family, while they condemn me for not putting the past behind me or something like that.

They may enjoy it more when I’m there to insult and provide new evidence of my incompetence for them, but even without me being present, they won’t look at themselves. I can’t imagine that they won’t be hacking away at my ghost.


*Dear Hobie-I completely understand the remorse at time lost…life gone by and wasted on people who simply don’t care. I am 46 and I too, went NC with my FOO for about 3 years when I was about 30. The mistake I made was by still keeping in contact with my extended/Flying Monkey relatives …and I was emotionally so wounded, damaged and a hurting little child inside…that I got back in. But…I try to have compassion with myself…I have a little girl now (she’s 6) and birthing her…becoming a mother made me want to be a better, more healthy person. And it allowed me to see what love was NOT. I just didn’t have that perspective before I became a mom.So…even though my FOO disowned me…I was the one who went NC with the extended…and that was a piece of the puzzle. But I would try to just be kind and patient with yourself. There is simply no way at all to reconcile our losses, the traumas and abuses we suffered as children when we were at our most vulnerable…there is no way to understand any of it. It is difficult!! But I just try to be kind and patient with myself…it’s a process let me tell you. Often times I can feel so utterly lost in the maze and muck of lies and bullshit…I start feeling CRAZY. But truly…all of us here have lived through such craziness and we had to cope and survive as best we could. WE had to adapt to living in crazyville and to a child who depends on the adults for survival…that is terrifying!! Sending you hugs. xxx


P.S. “My absence in itself will be the proof that I was was the wicked one. They’ll pretend to be all sad and sorry that I’m missing out on being part of the warm loving family, while they condemn me for not putting the past behind me or something like that.”
What I experienced and discovered was whether I was there or not…(as an adult, that is)…I was STILL considered the evil, crazy one…because they need a SG!! So…better NOT to be there. And the BEST revenge? Is being happy, being healthy, being a good, kind person…NOT passing the abuse down the generations.


True – it’s better not to be there – I’m learning that. I’m also finding people who don’t see me the way that my family does. I’m finding supportive friends that fill in the gaps in ways that my family never did. I appreciate them so much!

The sad thing is that the abuse found its way around me and down the generations in spite of my attempts to stop it. It may be more a matter of what I allowed people to do to me, than what I did to them. I learned what was REALLY wrong too late. My adult children are following in my family’s dynamic and seem to be scapegoating me along with the rest of them.

I’m finding ways to help or encourage other people. If even my kids think I’m screwed up, I’ll find people who DON’T think I’m screwed up to hang with.

I am counting on the rest of my life being better!



Our parents robbed us from the ability to trust ourselves by never allowing us to have our own thoughts or feelings to begin with let alone make any of our own decisions.

In addition to TELLING me how to “feel,” here are my mom’s three big LIES:

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

Translation: As long as it’s what Dad and Mom would have done.

2. Do what you want to do.

Translation: As long as it’s what Dad and Mom want you to do.

3. To thine own self be true.

Translation: Be true to what Dad and Mom want you to be.

So what is it, kids don’t become human beings until they grow up? Emotions are a privilege for those over 21?

Even if you are 21, you STILL aren’t allowed to show anger at your PARENTS for gosh sakes. your parents are PERFECT.

. It didn’t matter if I succeeded at anything because the fact that I succeeded made the achievement insignificant. It didn’t matter if I was angry at what they were doing to me, or if I was apologetic.

My Mom SAYS she was proud of me, but I never felt it. She would have been MORE proud of me (this is what I felt) if I had worked for a BIG company with “letters” so she can brag. I was a government employee, can’t brag on that….

I’m still the S/G even though my other siblings don’t visit Mom much. Trouble is, my siblings all had issues with her at one time or another. But since now *I’m* the one with the issues, all of a sudden I’m the “wrong” one.


Darlene wrote “Feeling sad for her (mother) was killing me.” That really resonates with me. I know that both of my parents seemed like professionals at evoking pity and sympathy because they both had such strong Narc tendencies. My dad was emotionally unavailable…unless it was about his emotions, and I would sit and listen to him talk about himself and his struggles and sympathize and feel so sorry for him. Then he would turn around on another day and hit or beat me, or put me down etc… My “mom” was different towards me, but she practically demanded that I read her feelings or her mind and if I didnt, she would rage off into what I call a temper tantrum directed at me. I know that I felt so sad for my parents and worried and thought and dreamt and was so consumed with what made THEM happy that it was killing me. It was killing me inside and out. I didnt know how to self-care because my entire life was wrapped up with worrying about them and how they thought, felt and did. My health definitely suffered as a indirect result of all of it. The amount of stress from trying to please, to pamper their sick ego’s , and worrying after I was once again chewed out (as an adult), or beaten as a child….or had tape put over my mouth and around my wrists, or locked into the basement and then brought out to be beaten with a croquet mallet to see if I ate the three cookies from the cookie jar that my “mom” had counted and recounted..etc etc…it was all killing me to feel sorry and sad for my parents! My parents decided to stick with the line ” We did the best that we could at that time”….and they said they were “sorry”. Cutting them off was actually for me the healthiest and happiest thing I ever did for myself. Their love was infested.


Wow DXS, I’ve said this before but I think our families are related.

I got a hold of that Pete Walker book on complex-PTSD and recognized a bunch of new stuff.


FinallyFree, I was supposed to be a mind reader too with my mother. It was like being handed a script to read for a play that you had to read perfectly only there was nothing on the paper and you were still supposed to get it right….or else!

And you really jogged my memory when you mentioned ” tape”! Yes, scotch tape. She would tape my mouth shut if I was upset or even if she just didn’t feel like listening to me. I remember protesting it one time by talking the best I could with a taped up mouth and she just kept adding more layers as I kept on trying to talk. Finally, I got sick of the game and pretended I could no longer talk and she stopped taping me. I also remember the awful feeling when she would rip the tape off really hard.


Amber, I am so sorry you had the tape! If there is anything more symbolic than taping your kid’s mouth shut to show them that they have no right to their feelings, words, thoughts, I cannot think of it. She used masking tape on me, so it didnt really hurt physically, but emotionally it humiliated me.


Wow, hi Jane, thanks for your comment! I’m glad my words had impact for you.

I missed a lot of conversation here… On the topic of having kids, when I was a teenager, the reason I never wanted to have kids was that I thought all of family life was a sham, as though to choose to become a parent was to choose blindness, hypocrisy. It was to pretend to be one thing when really you were another, and to keep yourself busy so as to avoid having to recognize and deal with reality. Parenthood gave you power and permission to live as one thing and think of yourself, and have the world think of you, as the opposite. In my mind it was as though the only way to have integrity as a human being was to be a loner…. in part because I associated any kind of interaction and connection with others as being a fraud, like what people are talking about here (DXS and others), having to be someone for other people. I think that was also the trouble I’ve had with wanting friendships, on the one hand there’s loneliness and on the other hand the experience of being a partial self to suit the other (which seems to go hand in hand with feelings of using and being used). What’s the use of having a relationship if it’s fake, other than it may keep you from going insane (living without human interaction is quite damaging and sometimes even superficial is preferable to nothing). What’s crazy of course is sometimes it isn’t the other person who is wanting you to be a false self; it’s just your mode of dealing with the world. For me, it’s like a skin I have to slowly shed. The good people in life will be glad and interested to know who you are as you shed that skin; they give you room and don’t assume they can pin you down. Even without a false self, people change over time, so if you’re a decent person, who’s not interested in controlling people but simply getting to know them, etc., there should always be that room.

I received an email from my parents today. They are coming to town next month—again! My mom was in town back in Nov. I live on the other side of the country! My mom must have some work here. This really irks me. I made a boundary that if they wanted a relationship, they needed to recognize xyz via email. They didn’t. They write telling me the dates they’ll be in town, give me both their cell phone numbers, the name of the hotel where they’re staying and the address and a sentence about hopes for a new beginning between us. No, it doesn’t just irk me, it infuriates me; I just don’t have the energy to fully be infuriated. They’re so certain that they love me and want a relationship with me, that they don’t even realize what they’ve done. It’s maddening to be blamed, thrown under the bus, lose everything—all the fallout of all my relationships with every family member—and for them to feel so secure that they are loving parents (who maybe made some mistakes in the past) that they have no problem sending me emails like this. I have strings and strings of four-letter words for them. The entitlement, the arrogance. “Who do you think you are?” is what I’m thinking right now. “You made a choice.” They want to have their cake and eat it too. They made me their scapegoat, the pain excruciating, and they want to play love, want me to play it too? Yeah, right! There’s a point at which ignorance is no longer available as an excuse, when everything has been laid out on the table, and you either cop to it, and do whatever needs to be done, or you walk away. The last time my mom wrote, I simply didn’t respond. This time I think I might say something and block their address from my email. I think I’m done leaving things open. I want to heal. Sometimes we think of it as the holy grail if they were to actually recognize reality; we get treated so badly that it seems like it would be. But really that’s nothing. To be treated really badly, to have experienced incredible amounts of pain for their failures, ignorance, projections, etc. doesn’t in the least bit balance out by having it acknowledged; it’s the very least you could do in the realm of fairly decent behaviour. I’ve given them many chances. I’ve laid it all out for them. It’s extremely disrespectful to write me like this after the decision they already made. I don’t care if they don’t understand because they don’t want to think about things, because they’re content that they love me, so they don’t have to listen to what I actually have said to them. As a person, I feel pretty arbitrary. Their contacting me is all about them…. The hotel where they are going to be staying is roughly in my neighbourhood. I wonder if that’s just coincidental or if they know whereabouts I live/work. I think I hate my parents. No fine print attached to that. I’ve always had fine print attached to my anger—me trying to balance out my rightful anger with my understanding of the cycle of abuse. I don’t care anymore. I hate them. I hate them for choosing them blindness. And whether or not it’s fair, I hate them for how much incredible effort, energy, time and pain I went through/was willing to put myself through, in attempts to get through to them, to reach something better than blindness, when as the child it was never my job to spend so much of my life trying to get through to them. I didn’t break them. They broke me. So yeah, all I have a slew of curse words. I’m refraining myself here but it would be satisfying.


Yes, that’s terrible. My mother never did that to me. (No one else did this to me, either.) But, it was a discipline method used on children at a private school I attended. Other methods included paddling and punishing the whole class for the actions of one. Glad those years are over. I’m not sure that they still do that today, but I don’t want to set foot in my old school again after leaving it after third grade nearly two decades ago.


*Dearest Hobie-I am sorry beyond words that your adult children are SG you as well!! I really don’t have any words of advice on this issue. But I think the things you are doing are good…to heal yourself and find love and strength with people who can offer that to you. I am thankful beyond words that my daughter has never had contact with anyone in my FOO or extended. I have made many many mistakes with her for sure…but the 2 things I had going for me was that 1. I also did a lot of things right with her too! Even though I was emotionally stunted in so many ways, I gave her an emotional literacy that I never had even as an adult! I empowered her and gave the the means and words to speak up for herself…even against me. @. I was 40 when I gave birth to her so I had done a little bit of healing by the time I became a mother. If I had had her when I was in my 20’s…I would have been a train wreck!! And when my daughter was 3 (she is 6 now) I made the commitment to healing myself as slow and difficult as it was and is.
The other thing about SG that I have read about (and completely agree) is that it’s done to project feelings of self hate and inadequacy onto the person being SG. Yes…it serves an important function in the FOO but on a personal level…it also serves the function of projecting (like a mirror) all the self hate the abuser has for him/herself. A classic example is how Hitler SG the Jews. I have also read that NPD plays a distinct role in SG as well. So…there are so many factors that play into it-not just one.
Hang in there sweet lady. xxx


Alaina, you are SO RIGHT in how you feel about yourself and your skin and your parents and your life! I just wanted to try to validate what you have written because I know the emotional rollercoaster of feelings triggers off when abusers unsettle what you have been trying to build for yourself. I know exactly what you mean about the partial self. I lived with that too. For me, it was confusing too because we grew up in going to the country clubs, belonging to this , that or the other…that I really did not want to participate in. I assumed that I was supposed to behave and act a certain way in front of certain people. I still find myself a little on the “formal” side when I meet people, but I am able at last to determine what is ME and what is something I was expected and demanded to be. I was not at all prepared for the real world and it makes me irritated sometimes when I think back on how naive…and vulnerable …and clueless I was. Just to encourage you….you ARE beginning to sort out who YOU really are and what it is that you want to be and to be seen like as a person in your own right. It has taken time for me to shed the old skin and figure all of this out. I still get into situations with people where I feel very different from them and I have to make that choice to proceed or to stop with them. But the difference from before is that I am older now and I have that right and that choice and I know it for myself now and I dont feel like a fraud or fake. My parents arent the ones I am trying to please.

As for them unsettling you and disrespecting you…what do you think you will do about this situation? I can completely understand your anger and feelings of hatred. xxxxxx Sending you peace and comfort!


DXS #157- So true. It was all about them and what they wanted and it still is. My mother brainwashed me into believing I should feel guilty any time I wanted to do what I wanted to do and it worked for a very long time robbing me from things that would have brought me joy but instead only brought me feelings of guilt all because of her sick selfish self being afraid that if I found something else that I liked to do on my own then there wouldn’t be any time left for her. In other words it was all about her unresolved abandonment issues that she never took care of. That seems to be the name of the game with most of this bullcrap.

Alice- I really like Pete Walker books too. Conquering that inner critical voice is imperative to recovery and he really went into a lot of depth on how to overcome it. I never realized how much damage hearing that voice did to me until one day I finally was able to put a stop to it. My life is like day and night now. I no longer beat myself up relentlessly when I make a mistake anymore. It is such a blessing. I am glad you are finding things that will be helpful to you too.

Finally free #158- The things that your parents did to you warrants more then that half fast apology you got. I am sorry you had to go through all of that crap. Just isn’t right. Being a mind reader seems to be a pre-requisite in abusive homes. Somehow we were all just supposed to know what they wanted despite the fact that no one ever took the time to teach us anything to begin with and when we weren’t able to read their minds and do what they wanted there was hell to pay. No win situation.

That feeling of pity is another one. My father would chop up all of my mother’s dried flower arrangements with his machinery down in the basement and she would put them out on the dining room table so I would see them when I woke up in hopes that I would feel bad for her but because she brainwashed me into believing that my father could do no wrong to cover up his abuse the whole thing back fired on her butt because I ended up feeling sorry for him when I should have felt bad for her!!! That I believed this whole thing was normal is what really blows my mind!! So much of that sick crap went on in that home. They were always pinning me against one another, using me as their pawn. Now I really do pity them because now I see just how sick they really are!!

Our lives were wrapped around trying to please them. To do things better. All to get their love. Everything was about them. We didn’t exist.



I was adopted at two months of age. And I always knew I didn’t belong there, didn’t feel like I belonged. Things were not right, but when you are a little one you don’t understand. Long story short…both parents are neglectfully narcissistic with my father having full blown NPD.

So I marry a narcissist and don’t ever know what’s wrong again. I meet my bio dad who is an unbelievable person…and guess what…he is also married to a narcissist (borderline).

Now we are both divorced. I have complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (not otherwise specified) and will be in therapy for years to come. But most of my parts know that I am free from manipulation and free from abuse and SAFE!

They are very rich and everyone people love my father and think he is the second coming. If only they knew…


Amber, wow, the tape? Did you ever try to take the tape off yourself, or would that have meant “trouble?” That is awful, I am so sorry you had this humiliation.


Alaina, wow, I know what you mean. The false self that it took me years to come to terms with.


FinallyFree you described in your message 161 exactly how I felt when my mother would tape my mouth shut. Humiliated, devalued, and I felt that what I had to say and my feelings were completely invalidated. I haven’t thought about the taping, in decades until you mentioned being taped too. But it’s good my memory was jogged because I needed to go back and validate my feelings on this. As a child, I felt humiliated and also guilty. I believed I must have done something really bad because I upset my mother enough that she had to resort to taping my mouth shut. In reality, she just didn’t want to listen to or deal with me, most likely because of her own sour mood, so tightly taping her four year olds mouth shut was her solution.

DXS, no I never dared to take the tape off myself because, as you correctly guessed, it would have been big big trouble, most likely a spanking with a belt. It was easier and safer to suppress my feelings and withdraw into myself. That was my main coping method, and unfortunately I still do this sometimes today even though I no longer need to fear someone spanking me. Old coping methods die hard.


Amber, that is exactly what I believe too…my mom didn’t want to listen or deal with me. She taped my hands behind my back…taped on my wrists…and I am not sure what that was about, unless it was to have even more control and make me feel even more helpless? In any case, you have my absolute compassion for experiencing what you did…and I am sad that it happened!

Kris, thank you for your compassion! I am also blown away at times to think that the “norm” was so sick and twisted. How odd for your father to actually take the time to collect your mothers flower arrangements and chop them up! And for your mother to gather the debris and take the time to lay it all out for YOU to see. I am sad that you were a pawn between them. How selfish! And it was always a no win situation like you said! Your parents sound very manipulative.


Kris, I was reading what you wrote to DXs and I was interested in what you wrote about believing that abandonment issues were what drove your mother to stop you from doing things you would have gotten a lot of joy from. Would you mind going into that a little more? I haven’t read much about abandonment. Thanks!


FinallyFree, holy cow, taping your hands behind your back? My second grade teacher once tied one of my classmates to a chair so she wouldn’t get up. I think that would be grounds for firing now. I can’t believe you got your hands taped behind your back, that is awful!


Hi Julee
Welcome to EFB ~ You found the right website. There are tons of insights and solutions here in this website and in the comments about this very issue you are sharing. Hope you will stick around!
hugs, Darlene


DXS, the hands taped behind the back and over my mouth were only one of the “punishments”. I think my “mom” has a personality disorder of some kind because she would come up with some crazy ideas for punishments. She never hit me except for a few times, but she would stir up my father to do that..she was a total screamer, but she would also create really bizarre type “punishments” and/or have me write sentences. 500 long sentences for forgetting to take my shoes off at the door when I was little, or leaving crumbs on the counter top…things like that, so I was frequently away from the family in my room. I have a daughter now who is 20 yrs old and I couldnt even imagine when she was little creating a home for her like the one I was raised in! It felt like a nightmare I couldnt get awake from. My daughter was raised with 1-2-3..and usually by 3 she was picking up her toys or whatever it was. No big deal. I think the word “Disgraceful” definitely applies to my own upbringing by her!

I read what you wrote about the three big lies, and I am really sorry you were raised with that…talk about confusing!


Finally Free, having your hands taped behind your back is horrible! You didn’t deserve that. There is NO excuse for doing that to a child, and I agree with you that it was a ( sick) way of exerting control over you. I am so sorry you had to deal with that.


Amber, thank you! Looking back at the various ways that people who abused you and me thought up ways to silence and crush us, it seems absolutely bizarre to me. Seriously, who thinks of TAPING their child’s mouth shut? I read what you wrote about second guessing yourself and also the guilt and not being allowed to have YOUR feelings. I went through that for most of my life too. I hope this encourages you…I have gotten truly free of all of that guilt. It is false guilt, really. The reality is that we have no reason to feel it whatsoever. In fact, I now voice my real feelings if I want to, and I feel confident when I do. The confidence seems to be what makes others back down even if they dont agree with them. It is so freeing to be more and more myself with everyone. I never could be with my family…and it ended up extending to everyone else. Cutting them off has made the world of difference to my confidence and the ability to find myself and my feelings and express them. I will say that I am still learning this…each new situation is one where I learn how to be myself and express MY feelings. I have had to learn this especially with my husband. He and I have been through a lot together over this issue, but now he respects me for it instead of fighting me for it. He also used to try to get me to only agree with him and his ways, so it was really difficult at first to voice my genuine feelings…and to figure out what they really were! I hadnt realized how much of the time I crushed down my wants and needs and feelings just to keep the peace. The great thing is that once you begin to be bold and express who YOU are, the easier it gets and that is what builds confidence inside. The balance for me was not becoming too arrogant in it all! It is like discovering a new form of power. And isnt that what it should be? We should have power to be ourselves instead of bowing and scraping to our abusers. Sorry for rambling….xxxxx


I have given up having a conversation with my mother. She accuses me of being bitter and having a hard heart. If I tell her how I was affected by their verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, she quotes the whole “Spare the rod” scripture and tells I deserved if for being a bad child. She’ll gaslight and gaslight. But, let’s say the conversation goes far enough, enough logic, times dates, proof…things she can’t slip away from. That’s when she will start talking about how old she is, how she will someday get sick and die, and then I’ll miss her and wish I had appreciated her. She has been doing this since she turned 50 or so.

She’ll do anything but admit to any blame, not even partial. She’ll just resort the “dying mother” excuse. (She’s well, had a knee surgery.)

She would rather not have a relationship with me then say a simple, “I’m sorry.”

She also tries to poison any new networks I find. I had to block her from my facebook wall when I found out she was visiting a completely unrelated, unassociated friend who lived over an HOUR away from her. She saw her interacting with me on Facebook and somehow wound up at her place of business looking for her. Ironically, that woman quit being my friend afterward, I wondered what the hell happened, and I run into this woman’s son who tells me my mother was at this woman’s work looking for his mother! I don’t want her to know who I deal with and have had to give most of my relatives limited access to my Facebook because I don’t know who is a flying monkey.


Here’s an interesting article on parental denial

Sometimes I still get this incredible desire to get back in touch with my mother and send her a bunch of articles and books and say “LOOK! It IS true that your mistreatment of me had really negative consequences for me.” In the hope that she’ll finally admit, accept it. Apologize? That’s a little beyond my fantasy. I know that we’re “supposed” to “give up” such ideas (or, as the threat runs “forfeit healing”) but I have it from time to time anyway.

I’m really enjoying that Levine book:)


Thanks for your validation, Finally Free. It’s nice to be able to come here and vent. As for what I’m going to do–my parents have violated my boundaries several times since I confronted them and drew those boundaries about two years ago now. It’s not acceptable. I left the door open so that should they come to understand things, they could get in contact with me, but I’ve had enough. I’m not going to leave myself open to be thrown into a whirlwind every time they want to trespass because they think it’s okay. I’m closing the door on their privilege. They F-ed up, not me, and I’m not going to pay for this anymore. I’m done. It’s just a question of whether I’m going to simply block them or if I’m going to say something and then block them. I deserve to live free of their harassment. They’ve been killing me my whole life and I’m done. I don’t care about the whys or how much they do or do not understand or their intentions. Being a parent doesn’t give you the right and privilege to abuse somebody, though we do live in a society that from a practical standpoint does in fact give that right and privilege. I don’t have any interest in playing into that world. It’s over. Thank you so much for your validation, and god I’m sorry about what you went through growing up, so much cruelty and sickness everywhere. I’m glad for everyone here who can see through it. Thank goodness for us. It gives me hope for the world. While we do our work individually and get support from each other, I also feel that this is very sociological and what we are fighting for is essentially a human rights movement.

I don’t know if this makes sense but what gets me most about their email is the inclusion of so much contact info—the exact dates, their respective cell phone numbers, the hotel name and address—as if they couldn’t just say they’re going to be in town at the beginning of April and were hoping that maybe I’d change my mind and be willing to meet with them, as if I couldn’t just email them a response if that were the case, but instead needed to be given a barrage of info. If they somehow show up at my workplace or wherever and do not want to leave me alone, I will not hesitate to threaten to call the cops—and to do it if need be. These people are a threat to me. Because it’s only been emotional and psychological abuse/control, it has been hard for me to recognize the legitimacy of feeling threatened, but you know what? Emotional and psychological abuse becomes a physical threat. The toll it takes is physical. The other day I wondered if it was possible that I have some kind of brain damage because everything that’s happened. When I thought about it, the kind of emotional experiences I’ve gone through in the last decade since having a breakdown and confronting the family system, it’s actually hard to believe that I wouldn’t have brain damage, not as something I can’t heal from but as something legitimate, a real toll to my well-being. Of course saying that I might be brain damage would be fodder to family members who think I’m in the wrong, but that’s not what I mean and it doesn’t matter what they want to think. They’ll believe anything that facilitates their denial and their desire to let themselves off the hook.


FinallyFree, message 177, I don’t consider it rambling. Your messages are informative and encouraging. I am getting better with expressing feelings. Part of the problem is that people Ive known for a long time remember the timid me so well that when I say no they challenge it or they ask for unreasonable things hoping I will be the old me and give in. I had that with my daughter’s ( who has special needs) caretaker who comes about 4 hours a week. I don’t think she and her husband manage money very well and when they fall on hard times she can be downright badgering with pushing for me to give her more hours. Now that I’m pretty far out if the fog I see her manipulative tactics like telling me I’m her only source of income ( she’s too lazy to look for other jobs and when she does find potential employment there’s excuses why she can’t do it like having to be there at 8 in the morning or not wanting to work on a Saturday.)or she’ll complain about her bills and how she can’t pay them if I don’t give her more time. The thing is, I don’t need the extra time so why should I pay to have it. And also, I am far enough out if the fog to know that her not being able to pay her bills is HER responsibility, not mine. My mother married a freeloader for her third husband and he pissed away most of their money. Then she asked to ” borrow” money from our savings which was being put away for my sons college. My mother tried to guilt trip me into giving it to her ( they would never have paid it back) and just like the caretaker for my daughter, tried to make her financial woes my problem. I stood up to her with a shaking voice on the phone and said no and she stopped talking to me for 3 years. So I know the tactics.

I agree with you that the methods our parents used to squish us and shut us up were downright bazaar. But at the time, since I didn’t know things could be different in different families I thought having my mouth taped shut was normal. Being hit with a strap was normal too. Incidentally, my brother and I started hiding her straps…pretty innovative for a four and five year old. We stashed them under a bookcase and she kept thinking she misplaced them so off to her closet she would go to get another belt. Sometimes by the time she got it her anger would have decreased, to our benefit. I remember the surprised look on her face when she moved the bookcase to vacuum and found about ten belts underneath. Hey, you do what you gotta do sometimes!

Thanks again for your encouragement. I am getting better expressing myself though sometimes I still freeze. I loved Darlenes response to me in message 119 about that. Very encouraging. I think it will get easier when others way of looking at me catches up to my emergence from the fog. A lot of people don’t yet realize that I see right through them now, so they persist in trying to wear me down to get their way. I just have to stand my ground. It helps when I remember things such as self care is not the same as selfish, and that my feelings and needs matter instead of worrying do much about their reactions to a ” no”.


Amber, your stories about standing up for yourself really touched me! I love that you hid the belts from your mother when you were tiny…haha…good one! I also loved it that you were able to be bold enough to tell your mother NO when she was bullying you to give her money. I think everytime we can say NO when we mean it to someone, even if our voices are shaky and we feel awful, is a huge deal! Being able to be our authentic selves and tell the person who is attempting to take advantage of us that we wont give in to them is an amazing thing to me…shaky or not. I am sorry you are having to deal with your daughter’s caretaker about money. Do you have cameras in your home? Telling a lazy person that you arent going to give more hours and money makes me wonder about them.

Yes, Darlene is totally right and I love her response to you! I am so happy you are feeling better expressing yourself! That is a wonderful thing. And isnt it wonderful to see through people now? I have to say that a whole new way of viewing the world hit me suddenly after realizing that I was seeing through people around me…and yes, standing your ground will make a huge difference. You are sounding bold as a lion now. 🙂


Alaina, I believe that mental and emotional abuse definitely takes its toll physically! The amount of stress is horrific. I am so sorry that you have gone through all of this with your parents. I had an older friend years ago who told me that abuse messes with the receptors in the brains of children while they are growing and developing. So, all the “games” being played on you by your parents…or abuses… might definitely have caused issues. I am no doctor or specialist, so I dont know all those details, of course, but I do feel for YOU! I was told once about cognitive behavior therapy because I had such anxiety and it really worked for me. I was able to grasp it quickly for some reason, but I still sometimes …all these years later….refer back to the “formula” and it helps me so much in serious situations.

I wish you the very best with your decisions about your future with your parents! I know how difficult it always is. I came to the point in my life a few years back where I knew I had paid enough too. Sending you compassion and hope and peace….xxxxxx


Dear anon (#164)

Thank you for everything that you said. It was very comforting to read.



Hi Finally Free-regarding #166

I believe my mother would do anything to prevent herself from having to relive those feelings associated with being EMOTIONALLY neglected and abandoned by her own mother when she was a child. I am talking about those feelings of terror and isolation and utter aloneness that originate at infancy due to our mother’s inability, for whatever reason, to attach to us in a positive way which creates those feelings of terror inside of us.

By teaching me to feel guilty any time I wanted to try something new and by teaching me to feel guilty any time I wanted to do something that didn’t include her, what she taught me was how NOT to stand up on my own two feet and in that way, in her mind, I would always need to rely on HER and that way I would never end up leaving her and that way she never would have to relive those feelings ASSOCIATED with being emotionally rejected and abandoned by her own mother when she was a child.

I believe all abused children have this fear inside of them and I think it is what motivates us to do anything in our power to prevent ourselves from being rejected and abandoned and I think that is why people do “people pleasing” and that is why I mold myself into whatever I “think” other people want me to be and I think it is a real big problem because it always ends up robbing you from being you!!

How we attach to our primary caregivers by the age of 18 months determines so many things about ourselves like how we will view the world when we are an adult and our ability to trust other people and ourselves. Our interpersonal relationships are the main impact on how our mind develops at a very young age and how we will overall be affected when we become an adult because many times there is no one intervening in these types of abusive situations due to generational abuse. No one wants to see it. Borderline Personality Disorder, Bi-Polar, Dissociative Identity Disorder all have early childhood abuse written all over them and it stems from being betrayed by the one’s who are supposed to be loving and protecting us but for whatever reason choose to abuse us and we have no one there to turn to for comfort or support. Hope that helps!!



Kris, that is very interesting! Thank you for explaining. It made me think of one of my aunts who treated her daughter, (my cousin I was very close to while growing up) like my cousin was the mother, and my aunt was more of a child. My aunt wanted my cousin to handle adult situations, cook, clean, and basically take care of her little brother and HER. Even as an adult, my cousin couldnt seem to escape and live away from her mother until she ended up putting up some very strong boundaries with her. I dont know if it was truly stemming from abandonment, but my father’s family certainly all had their issues. It might not be the same thing you are talking about, but I can understand how abusive that has been to you! It sounds very confusing to be a child and to consistently be pushed and prodded to stay and cling and be there for your mother and not allowed to be yourself. Also, how difficult for you to always be trying to fill that void for/in your mother! I am sorry that you have had that to figure out and deal with. That certainly has not been fair for you. Sometimes I feel disgusted with mothers like yours. xxxxx


I read what you wrote about the three big lies, and I am really sorry you were raised with that…talk about confusing!

What is funny…. yeah hilarious….. is that I threw those lies in my mom’s face once. She didn’t deny it…… She just looked at me and said nothing. But she DIDN’T DENY it……


Today at 4:53 PM

“For as far back as I can remember, I was nonplused and somewhat horrified by the family I was born into. My first clearly articulated thought — it came to me when I was probably 2 and a half or 3, standing in the front yard by the myoporum hedge — had to do with my parents: Who are these people? Why are they acting that way? And how is it that I’ve come to live among them?”

–Michelle Hunevan


She would rather not have a relationship with me then say a simple, “I’m sorry.”

Eira, my mom is that way now too. She would rather NOT TALK TO ME nthan to say “sorry.” But….. you have to think of how you want this apology. It wasn’t good enough for me, as I felt that my mom was just “saying the words” with no remorse or authenticity. She said it as; “I’m sorry YOU felt like that” which isn’t even an apology or admission.

Fortunately, my mom sucks at the social networking thing (or isn’t interested in it….)

Alice, read the link, and I am absolutely sure my mom had some “need” that I was supposed to “give” her and I didn’t fulfull that. And don’t waste your time. I have sent my mom article after article, even an article that says “If your child refuses to have anything to do with you, then YOU have to make the move to reconcile…” She won’t read them or says it’s nonsense. I haven’t spoken to mom in six months (second time around) but I recently sent a video on a stick where I described my childhood reality. I’m sure she did not like that.


Finally Free,

My mother is not a mean spirited person but she is calculating and manipulative none the less. If you met her you would like her. She can be a kind person but she can also cut you like a knife you just never would know it unless you were me and that’s what makes this whole process so hard. No one sees that side of her because she never lets them and because she comes across kind and engaging showing her interest in you you would never believe what I am saying unless of course you were on this site!!! Thanks for your support.



FinallyFree, bold as a lion! I love it! I am a Leo by the way, so maybe the lioness is emerging. Thanks for the concern about my daughters caretaker. I’m not worried about how she treats my daughter. She is good with her. Her laziness is more about not wanting to look for other clients, especially if she has to travel more than a mile or two to the job or has to be up early for a job. It’s not my business, except for the fact that she pests ME for more work ( I can only do four hours a week) because she doesn’t want to go to a less convenient job. It’s also not my problem or responsibility if she can’t meet her financial obligations because of her own stringent personal requirements for another job.

With my mother, the money borrowing demand happened a number of years ago. It was way before I started becoming aware of my false belief system and all the lies. My self esteem was very low. I think the only reason I got the courage to say NO was because That money was what we were saving for my son’s college and when it’s for our kids we somehow get that extra bit of courage to spur us on.

It’s tough, this standing up stuff, but I have to keep focused on my needs when I do it rather than the fear of the other person’s anger. That fear is what holds me back, but I am making progress. Thanks again for your care and concern! I love the way we all encourage each other on here!


Alaina #180,

Being abused at a very young age can change the development of your brain. Trauma itself, whether it be emotional, physical, or sexual can cause this to happen so don’t sell yourself short. Complex PTSD is a good example of this. I have suffered all three and the emotional abuse was the worst for me. I am sorry that you had to go through all of this. You should give yourself a pat on the back for being able to stand up to your parents the way that you do. You are setting up good boundaries for yourself. No easy task and you are handling it like a pro.



Thank you so much, Kris and Finally Free. I ended up blocking their address and didn’t bother responding. I’m at peace with my decision. I wanted to leave things open for them in case they recognized things. I’d felt like that was the right thing to do and of course I wanted my family if they were capable of treating me well, if the relationship could be conducive, or at least not a hindrance, to my healing. I won’t lose sleep over this (I did yesterday but now that I’ve made my decision, I won’t today). I’ve hit a wall and that’s fine. It has been an intense week. Just over six months ago, I was sexually assaulted and I finally decided to go to the police. I went on Monday and dealing with the process is emotional and difficult. The experience also had many links to the control my family had over me. While of course the guy is completely responsible for his actions, there’s no doubt in my mind how he used the way I’d been already set up as a victim to his own advantage. I’m not saying that if I’d grown up in an empowering, healthy home, I would never have been raped under any context, but it would never have happened within the particular context and with the particular details that it did. I was easy prey. I also had an episode where I went into convulsions, which has happened to me before and I think it’s probably to do with PTSD, although I’m not sure exactly, so when I talked to the police, I had to explain the episode. I think the whole process has made me realize more fully my need and my right to heal, and to be able to say that what has happened to me was wrong, be it with him or with my family. They don’t get to hurt me. And sorry is not enough (in both cases, I got apologies, but neither of them real or indicative of anything, more like–I said I’m sorry, now why don’t you let me keep exploiting you like I want to, you mean-spirited, selfish, uncaring, unloving, unthoughtful little girl, don’t you see how much we want you and need you and appreciate and love you, how could you hurt us so much by saying no to what we want from you?)… So, everyone is just going to deal with themselves. And I’m going to work on healing and finding myself a good life that makes me feel happy and fulfilled, free of abuse, neglect and exploitation. I deserve that. I still have anger and choice words for both my family and this jerk who assaulted me, but I believe in healing and freedom and if not justice through the legal system, maybe a more personal justice of knowing the truth and knowing that no matter what anybody thinks or says or does, they can’t take the truth away from me, nor, I imagine, the peace that will eventually come from knowing that fact and feeling that fact…. so, anyway, I’m getting things done, drawing lines, setting down where I stand, however hard it all is, and I very much appreciate the support. I wish you two, and everyone, peace as well.


Alaina #193 – I think that you made an excellent decision. Keeping your options open is perfect. Doing what’s best for you right now is key. You should be proud of yourself.

Hi Julee #167,

My father is a narcissist too. I didn’t marry one but I worked for one many years. NEVER AGAIN. I am thankful I got help so I won’t be sucked in with them anymore. I will never subject myself to their toxicity ever again. Unfortunately being codependent is like having a magnet on our backs attracting the narcissist. They can spot us a mile a way and we fall for them every time. We both feed off of each other but the narcissist will always win because they do not care about anybody including themselves. My father bled me dry and then my ex-boss killed me off and the only good thing out of the whole thing is I had a nervous breakdown so I finally asked for some help. Blessing in disguise for sure. I have DID and Complex PTSD so I know what you are saying about years of therapy. If you ever need info on DID I am a wealth of knowledge. I dedicated the last two years to my recovery. Still have a long way to go but making good progress considering the many obstacles you have to overcome in order to fully recover from this disorder. It’s nice knowing that I am not the only one here who has it but sad that you have to suffer through it too. I have a good support system but none of them know what it really feels like to think of yourself as having multiple people living inside of your head. Not everyone can say that if ya know what I mean!!! Lol lol lol. I am glad that most of your parts know that you are safe. That’s great progress for sure. I pray for a full recovery for you.



Alaina, good for you! I’m glad you are doing some self care. Keep doing what is best for you.

Kris, I had the boss from hell too. She criticized everything I did , insulted me in front of co- workers, got my assistants to be her flying monkeys and she wrote false things on my evaluation. I was not given the same training or resources that others got to do the job. I was set up to fail. I think it was a game for her. This was in a school and she would set a new person up to fail every year. She would target quiet people echo she thought wouldn’t protest. I documented her behaviors, and on the way out the door I presented a long letter summarizing her behaviors to her boss. It didn’t save my job, but It embarrassed her and I felt that I finally stood up for myself.

I think narcissists and other dysfunctional people do read our vulnerabilities and zero in on us as targets.


DXS, the only stuff my mom is capable of reading is science fiction and Harlequin “romance” novels (not that I have any problem with science fiction;)) You’re absolutely right, she would dismiss articles like that as “nonsense” – although how she would be in any position to judge such an article beats me. It’s really still about that aspect of myself that really wants to prove to her that it was all wrong. Heck, I’ve practically become a part-time student in some subjects just so I could figure out if she was really right about some things (like we “choose” how to feel. Well, we do and we don’t is the final answer to that one and not in any way that she claimed).

On brain damage. Yes, I do believe there are have been detectable effects found following such mistreatment. That parents would then use the very damage they have inflected as an excuse for further abuse is just beyond the pale. I know that my family would do exactly that. “Oh we just KNEW Alice had a problem”. Right, my “problem” as they might put it is them, haha.


Question for others with a narcissistic mom.

I am keenly troubled about my mom seeking out a friend who was not connected with her or our family in any way, any association, to “tell the truth about me.” When my mom did this, soon afterward, this woman began targeting me with a heritage association I was very active in, assassinating my character. She wrote an email to a very close friend “disclosing her findings.” This was one of the most troubling things that have happened to me. I had made a lot of friends in that organization and everything was going well until my my swooped in. The woman’s son (accidentally) let it slip when I ran into him that my mom had been by looking for my “friend” and had left her a note. This woman lived over an hour’s drive from my mom and at that time, they had no mutual connections. This is one reason I won’t really allow my mom back in my life. I have asked her why she was seen making contact with people that I have made friends with. Her answer was, “Am I supposed to pretend I don’t know you?” I don’t think its sheer coincidence that this woman dropped out of my life.

I don’t want my mom to know my friends. The ones she knows, she tries to get them into a conversation about me. She will say things like, “Thank you so much for being Eira’s friend.” She says it in such a way that it implies it is some kind of humanitarian gesture to be my friend, like I am a 6-year old special needs child and she is talking to the 8-year old who has helped the child find her classroom. I put my foot down and told my mom she cannot, any longer, approach any more friends or seek out any more friends to have conversations about me, or I will never be in her life again. I told her that she has to treat me as equally as her other daughters, who she would never approach their friends to “thank” them for putting up with them. That I will have more to do with her the day she understands that I am a competent person who is an equal to her and the other members of the family.

DXS yes, I do believe there is brain damage from being treated this way. For sure.

I also have been reading that many adult children who have been abused and bullied in such a way in their families have Complex PTSD. I think I do too. If I have a trigger, a situation that reminds me of how my family treated me, its like I go numb and I start have an internal anxiety attack and I lose perception of things going on around me. I had someone treat me like a member of my family would and it triggered things causing a few days of sadness and some sobbing jags.

I no longer feel like being with my family. The thought causes me tremendous anxiety. It’s like my body telling me to stay away.


I no longer feel like being with my family. The thought causes me tremendous anxiety. It’s like my body telling me to stay away.

When I lived 3,000 miles away, that is exactly how I felt before the annual Christmas trip (which I purposely limited to 48 hours).

When I moved closer, the most interesting thing happened. I did the Christmas thing once, then after that, either it snowed where I lived, or it snowed on the mountain pass I had to travel, or there was a rock slide on the road I had to travel…… Something like that would happen and it would be “sorry, I can’t travel and too late for plane reservations.” After those things kept happening at Christmas (which was a relief!), I started taking a look at things and have tried to get to the truth.


Eira, I believe you’re absolutely correct to put your foot down to this behavior on your mother’s part. Aside being plain ridiculous (you’re able to make your own friends quite clearly!) It’s just more of the boundary busting intrusive meddling that these types seem to insist on believing is a good idea. Then there are the malicious narcissists who are actually out to do harm. I wonder if your mother might not be on that end of the spectrum?

My mother would do this type of thing when I was very young for some weird reasons (she wanted to pretend I was “gifted” in some way and so therefore needed her “help” socially). I found out decades later.
I was in fact perfectly capable of having and making and keeping my own friends and I’m not more “gifted” than most people- the family drove me to perfectionism is what that’s all about!

Frankly my friends will always come first before my family (of course they hate that I don’t believe “blood thicker than water”)

Being NC it’s easier to keep her and other family members well away from my circle.

The people who actually line up with your mom in this situation might possibly not be the best to have as friends. The folks that don’t share the opinion that parents are entitled to such egregious behavior are probably better candidates for friends. My 2 cts.


Alaina, I am so terribly sorry and sad about you being assaulted by that creep! I think you are very brave to go to the police! Wow! That is horrific. I am sure those convulsions definitely have to do with the trauma. I can understand even more your pain and anger and feelings of hate toward your parents… can’t even go to your own family for comfort and support and unconditional love after something this horrible happens to you.

Personally, I think you are making healthy choices for yourself right now, and you are right that you deserve to heal and to take this time to live for YOU ….and let everyone else do what they are going to do. Even if justice isn’t served exactly as one would have hoped, YOU are standing up for yourself and giving yourself the respect and truth and self love and care that you need and deserve….and giving yourself a voice. Sending you virtual hugs and peace and comfort for all you have been suffering!! XxXxX


Amber, after reading about your daughters caretaker , I think I now get the picture! She has you pegged as a super sweet person….and obviously you are extremely nice….and she is hoping to not have to work anywhere else but with you! I know that is difficult to figure the new balance of being firm and still being able to be nice with her.

I think being a Leo and now learning to become bold as a lion is so perfect for you! You were crushed and your voice was silenced ….until now! I completely understand the fear involved with taking a stand and not giving in, or standing up for what YOU need and want…for me, that has been a work in progress the last few years. If I am standing up for someone else…especially my daughter, ….I tend to have little or no fear at all, but for ME it has been more terror to overcome. So…even if it is a shaky voice or we are shaking all over as we voice our needs…the end result is that we are taking care of ourselves in healthy ways! I am happy you are emerging as the bold person you were meant to be. Being nice and being bold at the same time seems like a great balance to attain to. You actually gave me something to think about on this topic! 🙂


Eira, I have never known any mother who would take the time to target her daughter’s friends in an organization for the sole purpose of disrupting her life. That is very odd and I can only imagine that I would be madder than a wasp is my mother did that to me. I don’t have any insight to this, but I really feel for you! Xxxxxx


DXS says: “When I moved closer, the most interesting thing happened. I did the Christmas thing once, then after that, either it snowed where I lived, or it snowed on the mountain pass I had to travel, or there was a rock slide on the road I had to travel…… Something like that would happen and it would be “sorry, I can’t travel and too late for plane reservations.” After those things kept happening at Christmas (which was a relief!)”

DXS, that wasn’t coincidence. That was God giving you a way out.


FinallyFree, thanks. It’s what people call a “mindf**k. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around it. I had to block my mom from my Facebook so she could no longer determine who were my outside friends. My therapist said she might have done this to try to dismantle the new world I had built for myself so I would go back to the family and religious sect. You know, because they “love” me and its exhausting trying to find another scapegoat. They’re targeting my brother but now he moved away and doesn’t allow them much intimacy into his life or a way to control him through resources.

Thanks Alice for your insight. I am considering going NC but it’s hard to do when I have a son who still wants to be with them.

Alaina, I think you did the right thing by blocking their email. You have a road to recovery with the assault and you can’t have anyone in your life who makes you lose your confidence!


Alice says: “The folks that don’t share the opinion that parents are entitled to such egregious behavior are probably better candidates for friends. My 2 cts.”

Thanks, Alice, for your million-dollar advice!


FinallyFree#201, yes you DO have me figured out! I’m sure a lot of people have me pegged as a nice person, and while the good ones appreciate the trait, there are those who think that niceness gives them some entitlement to take advantage of. I don’t want to lose the niceness when going through the process, and I don’t think I have to lose it. I just have to keep getting better and better at expressing my needs and setting boundaries that allow for those needs and wants to be met. One of the reasons I love Darlene’s response to me in #119 is that she says she learned to stand up for herself in a very calm and truthful way. I used to look at standing up as being aggressive and confrontational ( that was my mothers style!) but that method never seemed the right way to go. Darlene’s style is so much more fitting for me. I think a person can stand their ground and be firm and calm at the same time. At my current stage in the process,a I have to remind myself that I am speaking my own truth and practicing good self care when I need to stand up for myself.
It is always easier for me to stand up for one of my kids. That’s when the lioness comes out. I took on my sons soccer coach when he was seven and I went to pick him up from practice. The kids were bullying him with the coach right there and doing nothing. The lioness roared that day, and I didn’t even feel fear or freeze up; the ” fight instinct, rare for me, just kicked into high gear.
When it’s for me the fear still kicks in. The questions about whether Im justified in speaking up. It all has to do with the way I was groomed, to think of everyone else and to feel guilty and selfish when I focused on my needs. I’m working hard on this and making good progress, but have a ways to go.
I like your ” nice and hold at the same time! A good goal to strive for.


FinallyFree I meant Nice and Bold!


yes i agree with Amber that we are targeted by others like at work because we are already used to being the scapegoat somehow narcissists pick up on us as easy targets. by little things like i would always say sorry all the time for anything that went wrong even if not me i’d assume it was somehow my fault or that i would be blamed. I’d always accommodate to the needs of others over my own needs and stress about saying no to someone. It comes down to being brought up to accommodate the needs of our mothers that is how we were trained and punished by silent treatment or abuse if mother’s needs are not met by us, making sure mum was happy not upset not upsetting mother etc,,,
I had a bully at work she was horrible to me no one else would have put up with it and eventually i exploded and walked out. She was trying to make me leave it was political gain for her by that. I found out after that that she had been charged for a dangerous assault against her neighbor and road rage incident. Very different reality to the reiki carinig balanced healing person she made herself out to be in fact so it was all an act the way she seemed on initially meeting her


A very interesting video on parental responsibility


Exactly, Maria! I wondered all my life how people in different phases of my life who had no connection to one another all picked up that I could be used, mistreated and taken advantage of. Classmates, girls at college, neighbors, employers, relatives. How did they all know? I know the answer now. I was trained early on by my mother to be treated this way and I was so eager to please everyone and comply, and give them their way to my detriment, so they must have said to themselves ” aha! Here is someone who I can treat anyway I want and like an eager to please puppy dog she will give me whatever I want”. And if someone needed a scapegoat to pick on to try to make themselves feel better, guess who they picked? Who got bullied at school and who did the mean girls at work and college target? I gave the signs that they could do this to me and get away with it. I’m not blaming myself anymore though I was trained so well, I just didn’t know any better. I felt ” different” from others. I had been treated by my mother like I was different and I believed it. Now I know this was all lies that lead me to have false beliefs of being unworthy and that I came last and that I practically had to beg for people to like me. Now it is time to undo all of this and live the life I really deserve.


Maria and Amber…what you both have written was sooo true in my past! I am very glad we can now understand, and uncover the lies….and stop all of the people who somehow seek out and prey on those who are wounded and abused and groomed to accept and tolerate it.


Amber #195- I spent a year trying to get fired from that place. I too kept a log of all the shady crap my practice manager did but my boss and him were in cahoots. He through me under the bus for the last time and I went up in my boss’s office and let it all out with him in the room too. What a nightmare!! One lied more then the other trying to cover each other’s butts but it did lead to me finally being fired. HALLELUJAH!!! After 11 years working for her she told me “things just weren’t working out”. SHE GOT THAT RIGHT but that was the only thing!!! lol Any normal person would have just quit but due to the many issues working behind the scenes I stayed and allowed myself to be used and abused for many years. Just another consequence of being abused as a child. We are used and we don’t even know it. I am thankful it led me to seek help. Sorry you had to contend with one too. When I think back about how they both lied and what they subjected me to. Aye, aye, aye!! Their whole lives were one big lie. What a way to live!!



Hi there,

It’s great to feel I am not the only one. I am planning to seek help from a psy for myself as I don’t want to do the same to the ones I love.

I said to my mom that if she does not stop this behavior there will be repercussions. She didn’t contact me since Christmas. I feel sad. My son is such a sweetie. He deserves a granma that spoils him like my gran. My partner’s parents are great but live overseas…


Kris, having been in a abusive work situation Myself, I fully empathize with you. Did you feel a sense of freedom when you left those crappy people? I remember the last day of school that year and feeling a big sense of relief that I was getting out, even though I was concerned because I had not lined up another job yet. But one of my other bosses who knew the good work I did at the old job gave me a glowing reference and I was hired by another school for the Fall. One week into the new job I was walking down the hallway in the new school and thinking how great it was not to be walking on eggshells with that horrible supervisor and her flying monkeys always looking to ” get something” on me. When talking to my new supervisor about my old job she said ” Their loss our gain”. That was great validation for my self esteem and helped me question the false beliefs I had from the other job.

Interesting, my old boss had dark hair like my mother and the same belittling cruel attitude. I felt some of the old fears with her and also did the compliance/ trying to please dance with her. Just like with my mother, nothing worked.

So glad we both got out of those horrible work situations. I agree with you that if we hadn’t been groomed to accept mistreatment , we wouldn’t have attracted these bullies.

FinallyFree, yes. It is good to realize the lies and have better skills for recognizing people who will try to use us. We’re on to them now!


DXS, that wasn’t coincidence. That was God giving you a way out.

Eira, I thought that, too.


As I read all of the posts I thought to myself how much we are alike. Such manipulation and betrayal we had to endure. I read about all the anxiety just to go see our parents on the holidays and I think to myself how many holidays were ruined for what??? Then I thought to myself when I read what people post here it doesn’t even faze me. Hiding belts, taping mouths, mothers throwing their daughters under the bus for their own sick selfish selves. Physical abuse, sexual abuse and forget about all the emotional abuse. We could write a million books with all of that. Just another walk in the park!! It is normal to me and that is what is so sick about it. No shock value. I respond as if it were nothing and people here are getting beat up, disrespected and ridiculed on an ongoing basis and it makes me sad when I think about it. I don’t make the connection with inside of myself how bad this all is. We apologize for things that we didn’t even do and don’t even realize that we are doing it. So much brainwashing to overcome. Thankful for everyone’s support.



My grandmother who raised me has the most unbelievable thing she says…”we have never done anything to anyone”..For Real! She really believes this!
That is except for the face that she arranged my mother to marry my father when she was just 19, and then took over and did not let our mothet bond with us kids. You see she gets her esteem by taking care of people especially children…it makes her feel important.
Such a good grandmother in peoples eyes. Always to church, married to thsame man (respectable)…just perfect!! NOT!

She raised my mother with ignorance so she could take over. A mother is supposed to bond with her dtr..but she made damn sure that didnt happen so she could remain queen bee and look like a bloody saint doing it. Now shes 93 and with dementia-how convenient. Living in a 5 bdrm house and gets aggressive if anyone suggests anything but what she wants to do. My mother visits her daily, but Im raising a child on my own and she never comes. In fact my mother never comes, and if I have ever suggested it she gets angry and claims that ‘we dont know where you live”. Always my fault.
I hate the animal, and will dance on her grave one day. But as controlling as she is, shes going to hang on to life as aggressively as possible so she can maintain and keep exerting control on everything she can. She is perfect in her own ind all that is bad is someone elses fault..especially a 14 year old girl (me years ago) who was beaten by an alcoholic father she made sure my mothet stayed with so as not to tarnish her perfection.


Hi Strong
Welcome to EFB! My mother quit talking to me when I told her that I could no longer accept the way she treated me. That was quite a few years ago now but I have found my freedom and wholeness through seeing the truth. I have 3 children, 2 are adults now and one just about to finish highschool. None of them miss the way things were with the way their grandparents treated everyone. My children deserved wonderful grandparents too, but they aren’t missing what they never had. 🙂
Glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene


Thanks Kris, Amber, Finally Free and Eira for all your support and encouragement. It really makes a difference, helps a lot, to get validation like this. You are all wonderful people in my eyes.

I ended up sending a response to my parents. I’m glad I did. Got some things off my chest. Of course any time you engage in this stuff, your emotions go all over the place, but after I sent it, I felt something lift a bit, the same way I felt after going to the police this week… although it’s never quite like the clouds part and sunny days forever, more just a moment, before more emotion, but still a step forward. I saved my streams of curse words for my journal and imaginary conversations in my head, but I definitely didn’t couch what I had to say to my parents. I think before because it was dialogue I was trying to have with them, I worried about being mean (just for speaking the truth really), whether it was for their sake or just because I was scared of how they’d respond. I still had pretty high anxiety but I had the safety of knowing that I’ve blocked them, so I don’t need to deal with however they deal with my words. I did tell them that in the future I may unblock them and see if they want to acknowledge the truth, etc. I also told them about the assault. I would never have told them if not for blocking them and I won’t unblock them unless and until I know I can handle whatever they may possibly throw my way as a response to that and everything else I said. My whole life was about caring them, particularly my mom but eventually because I’ve cut off from them twice, it was with all of them—because of course the no-contact thing becomes some hurtful, abusive thing that you’ve done to THEM, as opposed to self-protection. If they want to be my parents, they need to be able to put themselves, their defences, anxiety, pride, ego, whatever, aside and care about me as a person, separate from them, but also as their daughter. I’ve had enough of this requirement to constantly care for them, not hurt their feelings, even as they were throwing me under the bus. My feeling is that how you stand up to boundary pushing or violating depends on the degree and frequency. It’s more about what fits the situation. I think we’re scared of being abusive but being abusive is often more about inappropriate, ill-fitting responses to situations.

I can add to the workplace thing. In fact it was where I met this guy who assaulted me. He was the super nice guy in the place where I was too caught up being the good worker bee at all cost to myself. It was really I who put the effort to make sure we stayed in contact after I quit and invited him over to come play music with me. From his point of view, it must have been nice, no pursuit, just this victim already set up and here to take advantage of. What a jackass. When I meet a victim, I want to help them. I don’t intend to change who I am, to close off. I want to be nice and open and authentic, but yes, this world can be harsh and I hope to get better at standing up for myself and I think I am. It’s slow and we all have those patterns from childhood that are so ingrained, so hard to reverse. But anyway, we aren’t the problem; we’re just trying to live in a world full of problems.


Everyone. So is it really “mean” to another to stand up for oneself?
It’s not but we were taught that not doing what that other person wanted was mean, that standing up for ourselves was “punishing” them (and we were punished for it). Punished for “sass” or “talking back” when we asked questions. Punished for “disrespect” when we refused to defer (which is not the same as respect).

I don’t see the point of this type of parenting if it traumatizes people and leads them to more likely to reproduce the same with their kids.
The only advantage I can see to it for anyone is towards authority in a given society.


Alice, I sent my mom a video I made and I said, “Respect for my mom does NOT mean you get to treat me any way you want and I have to suck it in. I have the right to be treated the way I want.”

Haven’t heard back. I’m fine if she doesn’t respond. I’m still technically NC for six months (second round).


Alice #220- You hit the nail right on the head. I needed to hear what you said today. We were taught that any time we stand up for ourselves we should feel guilty for doing it. That there is something wrong with us and it makes us a bad person if we do. That mentality ate away at our self esteem and over the years we were whittled down to nothing. How convenient for our abusers. I guess we were that much of a threat to them that they felt the need to squash who we were to make sure they got their own way.

Alaina #219- What’s nice about recovery is learning that you get to change your mind as many times as you want to without having to feel like you owe the whole world any explanation. I went through a similar situation with my brother with him emailing me a bunch of nasty crap. I went back and forth in my mind on whether or not to respond to him after the initial exchange and my therapist recommended that I write my brother a letter telling him how I really feel about the way that he treated me all of my life to get all of that anger and resentment out of my system and I did it and when I was done I decided that I didn’t need to send him that letter. After doing this I knew in my heart it was futile trying to communicate with him but writing that letter was enough for me to see him for who he really is instead of the brother that I always wanted him to be. My indecision throughout this process allowed me to learn how to set up my own boundaries and then I was able to decide what was best for ME to do instead of caving in to what he thinks I should do all the time.

When he can talk to me with respect then I will be more then happy to speak to him but until that time he won’t be hearing from me any time soon. I can’t tell you how many times I went back and forth on this but I feel good about my decision in the end. So do you and that’s all that counts. This time it was what’s best for us and not them. We really are growing!!



Alaina, I got a bit teary reading that you wrote to your parents and told them about the assault, and that you were blunt about your feelings with them! I am so impressed! I can understand the high level of anxiety, but now you can take some deep breaths because you were so courageous and you wrote them and now that part is over. For you to have suffered like you have, and now to have found your voice …’s amazing and healthy. How are you feeling about telling them everything now that some time has gone by today? Xxxx


Kris and Alice and DXS…you have all expressed what I also think so perfectly! Xxxx


Re: the writing of letters and not mailing them. Not working for me. I have a JILLION letters written sitting on my little drive stick. Some I have sent.

I guess I keep hoping someone will wake up and realize I am entitled to my feelings even if my family doesn’t agree.


Kris and Finally Free, thanks for the replies!

You’re so sweet, FInally Free! How am I feeling? I’m not sure… it shifts a lot. I feel in the thick of things right now. I did have some moments where I regretted sending the email because I could imagine the possible impact it had on them. When you’re being blunt about terrible things, it’s pretty harsh… but it’s also just a reflection of reality and truth but when people never listen or look into the truth when you put some padding around it, sometimes all that’s left to you, if you decide to communicate, is harsh reality. After I felt bad for them, though, then I was angry again (which makes sense of course). In the long run, I can’t see regretting it. I think it was necessary. For myself and for them to know that it’s not okay. It’s not okay to refuse to recognize the harm they’ve done, to dump it on me, know that my brother believes their words not mine, making my relationship with him impossible such that I also lost my nephew (and he lost me), as well as all my other relationship with family members that became way too painful as I realized that it didn’t matter what my parents did to me, nothing would change the structure and dynamic of the family system, they’d all go about their day, so I “chose” to leave behind… and then come to me, against my established boundaries, and want to act like nothing happened, we’ll start over with “new beginnings.” It’s just too far. It’s one thing to throw someone under the bus (really bad enough), another to then pretend you love and care about them and think that they’re going to want to have anything to do with you. And not just to put forward a hesitant hope but to push everything so I know exactly when and where they are and all the ways I can contact them…. Anyway, my feeling is that unless they get their act together and do some work to fix things, talk to my brother for example, things are likely over for good. I don’t know why I’d bother to open the door again. I told them about the assault and in some way I think what I was trying to say was if you’re going to say you care about me and you do care about me, then care first about what YOU did to me, because if you can’t care about that, then anything else doesn’t mean a damn to me. I told them that I thought it was disgusting that they could watch my relationship with my brother spoil and me lose my nephew and vice versa rather than admit to the truth which would go a long way to fix things between he and I… I’d been cut off from my family before and came back to try to work things out and I think everyone understood how much I wanted to be an aunt…. So, even though I blocked my parents’ email, it’s still open to them to fix things. What I’m saying is if they ever truly changed and worked things out, I’d probably hear from my brother because he’d feel bad for his mistake and would be trying to do his part to work things out…. Otherwise, I just think about things and realistically can’t imagine bothering to open things up again. There’s something self-degrading about that. So, basically, now is the time to move along… or maybe not quite yet, more like empty out the emotions, settle down, deep breaths as you said, and then figure out my life. I need some counselling to deal with the assault. And I need to focus on things that are going to bring positivity and light into my life. There’s been too much darkness. Anyway, thank you for reading!

Kris and DXS, I’ve written lots of letters I didn’t send too. Most of the time I found they helped in the moment. My feeling is that there’s never any one thing you do that just releases everything and wipes it all out clean. It’s more a lot of things over time that I think eventually will allow for the past to dissipate, as you try to bring in new and better things into your life to replace the old junk. DXS, I know what you mean about hoping someone will wake up. Having this idea that maybe this time with these words, it’ll make them wake up. I can’t deny that I felt that also with this last email I sent. Just that slight glimmer of a thought maybe this will get through to them, even though ultimately I said the stuff just to get it off my chest, that that’s what it was about, not about the hope. I think eventually you reach a time when you give up trying, but maybe it’s not until death that the tiniest glimmer of hope is ever truly extinguished.


Alaina, I’m sorry to hear that you are going through such a painful time and I can relate to all of it. It’s been several years for me now and I do still miss people in my family. However, I don’t miss being treated the way I was treated and I don’t miss being stuck in the role I played in that dynamic. I would still like to love and be loved by my foo but my being in contact with them or not in contact with them, can’t make that happen. They have to decide to treat me with love. That’s the only thing that would change the relationship and I guess, I’m just happier not living with the daily reminder of how little they do love me, while I keep putting up with secondary treatment hoping that they will come around some day. There are days now, when I still hurt but not the way I hurt back then. I do believe things will get better for you when you get past the difficult period. Hang in there, sis.



Alaina, I read Darlene’s “What if they die before you resolve things” article. That article didn’t appeal to me (sorry Darlene! ). It’s because…. if my Mom “goes away” without any resolution to my issues, I will feel….. NOTHING. I will attend the funeral, fake some words to people who attend, but feel…. NOTHING. And I will walk away from the funeral feeling the same as I did before.

But Darlene’s words (I think Darlene wrote this somewhere) about “Grieve for the mother you didn’t have,” Well, I have already done that. Emotionally, I have no mother, she is “gone.” Physically, I “have this woman who claimed to be my mother, but who doesn’t really love me, but claims she does, but she is unaware of herself and tries to convince people she is this when she is really that.”


Thank you, Pam. I know you’re right—I will get through this. I think I miss having a family in general, particularly those moments in life when it would be really nice to have a family, which is why it angered me so much to hear from them right now, being the way they are, breaking boundaries, instead of the way I’d need them to be for me. I’ve made it this far, so I’m not definitely not giving up, just looking forward to brighter days hopefully not too far away! Thanks again for the support!

Hi DXS, hmm, I wasn’t really meaning grieving… I just meant that when they’re dead you’ll know absolutely that they will never “wake up” as you said, they’ll never recognize your words or tell you any unanswered questions (I don’t really have any unanswered questions myself but I know you’ve mentioned wanting to know what your mother is hiding, trying to get her to admit things, etc). These days I’m more angry and hurt over what they have cost me in my life, how needlessly difficult they’ve made everything. It’s about the wreckage and leaving me adrift. But it’s especially because they poked their head into my life again and stirred all this up at an already bad time for me. I’m not sure if I’ll feel anything if my mom dies, either. I can’t imagine having any kind of big emotion. I’ve gone through a lot of that already. Can I ask you something—what ties you to her? (I mean emotionally that you still want something from her) If you don’t feel love for her and you’ve already grieved the mother you never had…? For me, it’s that she has cost me a bunch of stuff I haven’t fully grieved, a life, my life that I walked away from after I stood up to her and she refused to acknowledge things, a life I haven’t fully let go of. It wasn’t a good life but I was hoping that my family would do their part, so that it would be fixable.


reply to some of Alaina’s comment which raises the question of what is it we miss if we have grieved not having a mother and no longer love her. If we still are angry we are still tied to our mothers. So to release the anger forgiveness is necessary, this is hard because they are not sorry, and this is where im at at this point. Now forgiveness is not reconciliation and communication a contact relationship again. Forgiveness is for us and us alone/ because when we forgive our mothers we start to loose the anger its not necessarily instant but as it increases the forgiveness that is we are released more and more from our anger and our grief. it frees us not them they are still stuck because they are in denial of themselves. Apparently if you pray for the one you wish to forgive that helps. I am not religious but i do meditate and so i am focusing good thoughts towards the one that has hurt me the most that has damaged me the most and it seems to be helping defuse my remaining anger i have left towards her giving me peace. anyway just a suggestion, ii didn’t realsie that forgiveness is for us not for them it is a huge difference to reconciliation which requires both the abuser and the victim to agree forgiveness can only be done by us. they have no power over our ability our choice if to forgive or not. I am still not ever giving up my fight for the truth to be heard to extended family the family my mother took from me but i can continue that fight while still having forgivenesss for my mother as she is sick lost and in need of help. Pity not hate and i tell you i had so so jmuch hate for her but that was keeping me trapped in pain tied to her.



Maybe it’s better if you didn’t attend the funeral. Why pretend to care for someone when you don’t? I can’t make you not go, but I would rather not attend the funeral of someone I don’t love than show up and be phony about it.


Forgiveness is definitely not where I’m at right now, but whatever works.
I feel right now as I felt with my wrists pinned on either side of me, struggling to get up and away, failing, I suppose, to understand that it’s over now. All of it is over now but I’m still railing against the feeling that all these people in my life are pinning me down with their words, with their actions, but they aren’t even in my life anymore. I’m free but I don’t feel it because all the trauma is still with me and has been brought back up to the surface lately. I’d like to bury it all.



I’m in the same boat in a way. I moved out of my mother’s place (for the second time) and have a lot of anger and sadness eating up inside of me. A little over a month has passed since the move. It’s hard for me to heal since we’re in the same twin city area, and have a chance of running into each other, but at least there’s a six-mile distance between us and she doesn’t know my exact address. Healing isn’t something that happens overnight or within weeks.


Alaina, your last sentence is “I’d like to bury it all.” I think I would too, but it doesn’t stay buried ya know? It keeps rising to the surface as you’ve said. We need to deal with it in some way to let it loose, I think. I feel like that’s what you’re doing and you seem to doing really well.

For me it’s been peeling away a little bit at a time for a while. Everyday I really feel a little freer, a little less burdened. It does get better.


Alaina, you said “I think I miss having a family in general, particularly those moments in life when it would be really nice to have a family.”

And it made me think of those times I have been with friend’s families or spent time regularly with a group of people to the point I kind of felt kinship with them. THAT is the thing I miss. I feel like I “missed out” on having a family from the beginning!

But there was also this other thing that I miss too. What I can only term as ‘comfortable-discomfort’. The sheer familiarity of ‘knowing’ them and being ‘known’ (even if they mistreated what they knew of me and I in turn fought and held them in contempt).

On funerals, I have very mixed feelings about my mother’s. I feel on the one hand that if I don’t show up, things will be bad for me and that on the other hand if I do show up, things will be bad for me.

Part of me wants to show up somewhat triumphantly to ‘bury the witch’ and be available to answer questions (in other words, finally to get to tell everyone what happened and to get validation, which were it going to happen, probably already would have).

And I’m also pretty terrified of the people that might be there at her funeral. I’m afraid of what they’ll do and say to me. I’m afraid of violence from my sibling and a couple of others. I’m afraid I might be accused of “making it about me”. It’s all quite a mess as you can see.

But at some point, isn’t it kind of stupid to imagine that if it hasn’t resolved by now then death will make a difference?

On forgiveness. I still don’t understand the whole “it’s for you and not the abuser’ thing. Especially if no wrongdoing has been admitted to. I think it’s tempting to say to oneself “make a conscious attempt to feel this particular way and all will be well” and it also reminds me of my mother telling me how to feel as well as what I felt and that my feelings were wrong and that I should ‘choose’ to feel otherwise. I’m just not that powerful.
I also feel compelled to add that ‘no offense’ is made to those who do believe in forgiveness but as I said in a previous post, my take on things isn’t ‘mean’ or ‘punishing’ to anyone else.


Alaina, I totally understood when you wrote about “padding” the truth, but when it is not looked into or listened to, then you dish out the harsh reality! That was well said. It IS difficult to get to that point. I also think you said it well when you talked about how “self-degrading” it is to keep going back. I thought so too with my family. To focus on bringing in the positivity and light and getting some council for the assault to deal with it sounds very healthy. I think you were very brave to tell your parents all of it…including the assault. I also think it is extremely difficult to not go back and forth with cutting off the abusers. I felt the same way for awhile…until I figured out MY truth. I had to work my way out of all of the confusion and especially the mixed signals my family always gave me. Once I could see it for myself and figure out what was going to be best for MY healing, then I made my decisions. I wish the very best for you …and healing and clarity! xxxx 🙂


I recoiled at the idea of forgiveness myself even only a short while ago. it finally made sense to me because i want peace. i am still continining civil proceedings against my mother to protect children still left in her care or to try to as my brothers do not believe that she sexually abused me. So i am still fighting for the truth but in a more peaceful state of mind for my own sake. so forgiveness is not forgetting or letting anyone off what they have done its about not feeling anger anymore i mean why be a prisoner to the feelign of anger for her wrong doings? it was necessary for me to have the anger there was no way to not be angry but ive had enough of feeling that it affects me does nothing to her at all. i know she is still not sorry but that is her problem i don’t want to be tied to her by any emotion anger was tying me to her still a bit but less since i started meditating good thoughts intention healing wishes to her. it was hard the first time but once i forced myself to do it the feeling was very much onne of peace and freedom.


The whole issue of forgiveness is not something that I can pretend to fully understand! It still confuses me because I cannot wrap my head or heart around it being so cut and dry in every situation. And to forgive before you have been able to even voice to anyone about being abused is absurd in some ways, IMO. It is an interesting subject, and I do believe that forgiveness is an important thing in life, but to push it onto every person with the same phrases ” Forgive for yourself, not the abuser” and “forgiveness is a choice”…..seems to me like the persons saying them cant think of anything else to say! As though they were coached to say them. I know of a man who cannot see how bitter he is toward the mother of his children, but he is constantly pressuring his daughter to forgive her mother! It seems really strange to me…the logic is missing somewhere.


I don’t see anger as an issue of itself. I see acting on it in ways that hurt others problematic (my mom used to slap me when I ‘made’ her angry). I’ve so often felt conflicted and afraid when angry. Is that a ‘bad’ thing? Conflicted and afraid?

I’ve been punished for getting angry, for sure. I’ve been told that ‘my’ anger was so immense that it could really badly hurt people I loved. I do prefer not to feel angry for sure (it’s just not very pleasant physically) and I like feeling other things way better. But I figure that piled on top of the anger is a bunch of other stuff and feelings that have no business being there in the first place.

In fact, I feel angry when I am told to ‘forgive’ in the absence of an apology.


Also, allowing that forgiveness is such a confusing term for many people


I may or may not at some point ‘forgive’ my mother. And as such as personal thing, I’m curious as to the ‘why’ of the insistence on it by other people who may or may not have achieved it for themselves. And if I have not at this point ‘forgiven’ her does that mean I will act from a lack of it? I don’t consider that to be the case.


The burying metaphor is probably not a good one because I definitely don’t want to bury it inside me. I just want to take some things off me and bury it outside of me so it can’t get me anymore. The panic, the anxiety, the feeling that my life is a reflection of who I am and my value, of being less than, of needing approval and permission, the guilt, the “you’re not a good person unless…” all the millions of ways people hold you down… all that kind of shit I want out of my head, off my body, into the ground… something like that. So that I can go live now. I really want to live. I wrote my first letter to my mom 10 years ago (I wasn’t in any way prepared for what I was doing but that’s when I started this). My life is a lot different now than then. I’ve manage to do a lot. But I want it to be over so badly. I want to be free, to have this weight off of me. I know I’m getting there and it all takes time. I’m having one of those days.

Alice, I relate to what you wrote about families. It’s also like when you see people who have been friends since childhood. It’s about shared history. It’s a nice thing to have that I don’t have. The larger group family time with all the extended, on vacations together for example—that I enjoyed but maybe as an observer more than as a participant… kind of like I would have really like to have been able to have been myself there with them but I couldn’t be.

Finally Free, thank you. Yes, I have to cultivate the light and the positivity, and shake off the negativity—it doesn’t belong to me.

Alice again and the subject of forgiveness… I don’t like being angry either. It’s been a few days now of anger and it’s very unpleasant. If I’m going to try to supplant this feeling with another, instead of focussing on my parents still, I’d personally rather go the other way and try to think of the good things in my life and what I’m grateful for. I’d rather focus on my own life now without them than focussing on their reality. I’m allowed to hate them and be angry with them, but it is really draining and unpleasant, so I hope that I can just move along and focus my energy elsewhere soon.


So am minding my own business at work today when I am called to the front counter cos I have a visitor.. As 19th is my birthday I think it’s my friend delivering a card… And there stands my mother. First face to face contact in eight months. With birthday presents in hand.
I hug her and she sobs and asks how we can carry on.. Then she says she wants to know what she has done wrong.. I tell her she needs to listen.. I have never felt listened to.. She waffles on about not being allowed to visit.. Her grandkids hating her.. Sobbing and crying..
Then she says she doesn’t understand what was so horrible about my childhood.. I stay silent.. If she can’t see how being abused from 12 years old…Never bonding properly… Being left to cope on my own from 17.. The list goes on… If she can’t see how damaging this is.. Then I don’t know how we can ever understand one another.
She walked off muttering about waiting to hear from me.. But if I tell her something she doesn’t want to hear then she doesn’t know where we will go from there.
How in control I felt in her presence was strange… Never felt like that..
Maybe I am starting to heal properly.


At this point, the words “love”, “hate” & “forgive” all are weighed down with vague and contradictory meanings.

Feeling like I am required to love and forgive my mother has only kept me in denial of my anger, and by denying it, I have been stuck with it. I need to be angry to find and maintain boundaries that can protect me. But it’s not a debilitating anger as far as I can tell, it’s a useful tool to help me recognize when I’ve been mistreated.

My mother’s use of the word “forgive” means that she doesn’t need to recognize or acknowledge her own behavior, but I have to ignore it and allow it to continue. The message I got from her wasn’t that she as a human being loved me as an individual, it was more like, “mother’s love their children, you should know that. I’m your mother therefore you should know I love you.” I don’t remember hearing “I love you” much when I was growing up. What I felt was that I was required to “know” my mother loved me in spite of everything she did that was anything except loving.

I don’t believe it is a good idea for me to forgive my mother on her terms at all. I don’t want to feel required to accept her behavior toward me as “love”. The idea of being understanding of what made her the way she is just leads me back to a sense of obligation to endure her mistreatment of me without complaint. To go there, would make me involved in my own destruction. That doesn’t make any sense.

I have such a desire to be a good person, that I don’t like to think that I hate anyone. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel that way. Sometimes I want to imagine telling my mother that I hate her, and usually I realize at that point that I really DON’T hate her. I just want her to stop hurting me. I want her on the other side of a wall that protects me. I’m coming to terms with believing that I have every right to that wall.

I honestly don’t want to see devastating harm come to her, but I don’t believe that keeping her out of my life is anything but a reasonable consequence for the way that she’s treated me. I’m struggling with all of this to an extent, but I’m really beginning to believe that whether I love or forgive or hate, I’m where I need to be right now.



Yikes Clare! I don’t know what I’d do if my mother showed up where I work and behaved that way! I’m glad you felt in control. That does sound like you’re healing properly.

What can you say to someone who won’t really listen to you? I have the same issue with my family. The rotten part of it is that they say that I’m the one who won’t listen to anyone who doesn’t agree with me. I don’t think that’s what I’m doing, but I can surely see that’s what THEY ARE doing!

I’m glad that your birthday is the 19th. I hope it’s a great one!


Hobie, EFB doesn’t have a ‘love’ or ‘vote up’ or ‘like’ option because otherwise I would have ticked all those goddam boxes off:)

I’ve been told that I hate my mother due to my current NC and the fact I talk about what she did and how it affected me. There’s at least two or three things to analyse in all of that. I won’t deny that I have hated her. I have and passionately. And it was very close to love also. I’m not indifferent to her. I don’t ‘not give a f*ck’. Which is to me the opposite of love.


Hi Hobie,
I think having feelings of hate is not the same as being/acting hateful toward that person. What you really hate is how you’re being treated and it’s your mother who is treating you in that fashion, so the hate gets attached to her. Feeling hate for someone is not the same thing as wanting harm to come to them. I don’t believe that I have any ill-will toward my parents, no matter momentary thoughts or imaginings. I want them to heal. I hate that they have behaved in certain ways. I’ve never done or said anything to my parents out of a sense of sadism. I’ve been harsh and I’ve done a few things that I regret but it was never to purposefully hurt them. In some ways I guess it’s that my parents have defined themselves by their behaviour. They won’t change their behaviour. They’ve chosen that. Our relationship reaches a standstill where to me they’ve become their behaviour, they’ve become this decision to throw me away, and I hate them for that. If they changed, the hate would go away, because it doesn’t really belong to them but to the destructive force they are living in. I hate in them that which has been killing me all my life. Is it not okay to hate what could or could have killed you? Maybe with time you understand it, the intensity of feeling goes away, and you no longer hate, but still, you can understand the hate because it’s about self-protection and self-love really, hating that which wants to do harm to you. Those are my thoughts right now anyway. I still struggle with being harsh. It isn’t like I really wanted to be. I don’t like it. I would like to be loving with my parents. But first they’d have to be loving with me.


Forgiveness is always an interesting topic of discussion. For me personally, I never understood the forgive them for yourself concept. I hear this concept a lot but never once have I heard of anyone explaining HOW you would accomplish this. This is more of a curiosity thing for me than something I would do. The only way I could truly forgive someone is if that person understands what they did was wrong, the person is remorseful and won’t repeat it and the person is open to making amends if need be. Since this is unlikely to happen in a large number of cases, I prefer to move on in those cases. I would do this by working through my feelings about what happened including releasing myself for any undeserved guilt and blame I was carrying. I don’t need to forgive to get this kind of internal closure. I will save my forgiveness for those who truly deserve it.


Oops, Hobie, I meant to say that I totally agreed with what you wrote and was just adding some more thoughts. I also struggle with all this because no one likes to hate and everyone wants to be reasonable and not hold grudges, etc…


@Alaina: Re: what is the “tie?” The “tie” is legal stuff I can’t discuss on here. I have talked to therapists and they don’t understand. They think I can just “walk away” from the legal stuff. I have already tried, it’s a bit cumbersome. Thusly, I have a “legal” tie.

@Maria Binne: What you said is along the lines of what I heard on the religious broadcast. Forgiveness does not mean you have to “forget.”

@S1988: I understand what you are saying, I agree, but….. what Alice said: “I feel on the one hand that if I don’t show up, things will be bad for me and that on the other hand if I do show up, things will be bad for me.”

What @Hobie said applies to me, too: “My mother’s use of the word “forgive” means that she doesn’t need to recognize or acknowledge her own behavior, but I have to ignore it and allow it to continue.”

@Clare. Holy cow! Parents shouldn’t show up at your work like that without making an appointment in advance. To me that’s intrusive.

My mother’s use of the word “forgive” means that she doesn’t need to recognize or acknowledge her own behavior, but I have to ignore it and allow it to continue.

What Hobie said.


Hi Alaina – your post actually made a lot of sense. I WOULD like to be loving with my mother, but she needs to be loving toward me or it just isn’t safe!

Having read a lot about narcissists and sociopaths recently, and KNOWING that I’ve meet a few of them, I’d agree that most people want to be reasonable and not hold grudges and such. However, some people really don’t work that way.

I’m not sure if my mom is a true narcissist, but she is an alcoholic in total denial, so those traits are part of that package. Dealing with that with the recognition it is highly unlikely to change actually makes it easier to live with. I think trying to buy into the lie was what caused a whole lot of the pain I’ve lived with.


I wanted to share this because it really helped me with the whole forgiveness topic. I believe forgiveness is a process in itself and it is hard to understand the concept behind it because it really doesn’t have anything to do with the other person who did you wrong which goes against what you would normally think. It’s about forgiving yourself. If you understand the dynamics that play in a child’s mind that is being abused then you will be able to see why you need to forgive yourself in the end and this is what will enable you to forgive other people along the way and this is where YOUR freedom lies.

When we were children we had to tell ourselves that we were the one’s who caused the abuse as a way to survive living in that toxic environment because we were at our parent’s mercy. We couldn’t just walk out the door when we were 4 years old. It was a lot easier to believe that I was a “bad little girl” then to believe my mommy was a monster who CHOSE to hurt me whether or not it was inside or outside of her conscious awareness. With this magical thinking of a child it also allowed us to believe that we had CONTROL over what was being done to us in the sense that if we are the one’s who are bad we can then “try to do better” each time we are being abused and maybe one day it will stop if we just do better next time. That sick mindset continues on each time we are abused again and again. It never stops and it carries on throughout adulthood. We still believe that we are the problem and if we only would do better then none of these horrible things would keep on happening to us and we take on everyone else’s poor behavior and make it our own and with that sick mindset we beat ourselves up and our self worth goes right down the toilet without us even knowing it when the truth is we no longer need to believe this lie in order to survive because now we are an adult and now we DO have choices and now we can walk out that door!!

Once I realized the truth about how my parents were the one’s that abused me that enabled me to be angrier then hell at them for what they did to me .When I was able to put that blame right where it belonged into THEIR laps that is when I stopped the sick cycle of telling myself that everything was my fault and that is when I stopped taking on everyone else’s poor behavior and making it my own and that is when I allowed myself to be angry when someone did something wrong to me instead of stuffing those feelings down and once I learned how to deal with my feelings and be true to myself and admit that I am darn mad for what they did to me and work through the pain associated with it and grieve my losses that is when I was able to cut that sick connection away from them because now I no longer had any penned up resentment and hatred towards them to keep me connected to them anymore.

They no longer had any power over me. Now I truly WAS in control. That is how I freed myself because now I knew in my heart that I was never to blame and it was all just one big lie I had to tell myself in order to survive their abuse and once I was able to get to that point I FORGAVE MYSELF for believing that lie and I released all of that self blame, guilt and shame that was attached with it and “in my mind” I handed it right over to my parents where it belonged to begin with and that is why it doesn’t matter if they EVER see what they did to me as wrong. I don’t NEED them to in order to free myself. I did it all on my own and so can every one else if they are willing to go through the pain to get there.

Our parents aren’t willing to do this and that’s too bad for them but my parents will never have control over me for the rest of my life now. I broke that sick mind set. I took back my power and there isn’t one darn thing that they can do about it. This isn’t about them. Nothing will ever change what they did to me. It is a part of my history but now it has its place and now I no longer carry around all of that anger and hatred and resentment that was attached to it and that is how you free yourself from them and they don’t have to do one darn thing…you do. Thank goodness because we all know what they would do!!

What makes this process hard is we keep on discovering more ways that they betrayed us and it is hard to keep on gearing yourself up to work through more pain and losses due to what they did to us but I am finding that each time I work through more of these events I become stronger with inside of myself. Eventually I won’t hurt so badly anymore.

Now when other people hurt me I don’t take it so personally anymore. Because I forgave myself I can forgive them too. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends with them. You may never speak to them again and rightfully so. It is about knowing “who” you are and not taking on their guilt and shame that they are trying to project onto you. They only have themselves to be angry at just like we did when we were a child whose mind wasn’t developed enough to be able to think logically about what was happening to us. We had to make things up as we went along and unfortunately that sick mind set stuck with us into adulthood but once you grasp this concept you will never beat yourself up for what other people do to you. You will let them have their own guilt and shame and not take it on as your own and that is why you will be able to pity them instead of hate them because in essence that is exactly what you just got done doing for yourself.

The only difference now is you can see where this whole sick mind set originated from and with this you can see it in other people too. It doesn’t make what they did to you right but understanding the origins of what makes people tick allows you to understand where they are coming from and it enables you to feel their pain and that is what allows you to have pity for them despite them doing you wrong. Once I allowed myself to feel compassion for the little child with inside of my self that never was allowed to have any feelings of her own it enabled me to be able to feel other people’s pain too. As much as I hate to say this, being able to forgive is about working through your own issues whether those issues are your fault or due to someone else abusing you.

I know this is probably clear as mud but it worked for me!! I can’t tell you how I struggled with the issue of forgiveness because all I could think is they don’t deserve squat from me but when I realized that forgiveness doesn’t have anything to do with them that made all the difference in the world to me. Hanging onto all that resentment and anger is what keeps you connected to your abusers. Dealing with it and working through it is what sets you free. Forgiveness lies with inside of your self. Forgive yourself and you can forgive anybody. Learning how to show compassion for yourself for the wrongs that you parents did to you is to be able to learn how to pity others despite them being the ones who did you wrong.



i guess it depends how you define forgiveness
forgiveness to me does not mean not voicing against abuse or not standing up against abuse or not proceeding with legal action if possible against abusers with focus on rehabilitiation of them /protecton from them & and costs to victim paid etc.
Forgiveness for me is making a conscious directive over my own thought process power of changing my position of intent to one of acting in kindness rather than acting in anger/hate. so before my drive was more to make my mother understand so she would change to force her somehow to love me or make her pay for what she did the damage done to me my anger greif dismay hurt of her rejection of me my rights as a human her treatment of me i wanted revenge i guess i wanted justice for me and i also wanted to protect others from the same similar damage. Now my drive is more to protect others as best i can to stop my mother damaging anyonelse rather than for my own self justice. I have taken the justice i am owed by my mother by usiing my own power of thought of good intent to give myself what she refused and didnt give to me. Only once i had achieved a postiive change in my own beliefs about my self (which is at a core level it takes time its more than just knwoing you are not the problem its a deep beleif that needs to shift that was programmed from before age 7 is when most programmign occurs but it can be done after that with conscious intent actual positive sentences repeated to oneself i guess some could do it easier than that but that worked for me ) so only once i had made progress with changing my own self beliefs , could i start to then put any good intent to her. its kinda like NLP reprogramming my mental state directing my own intents to a driving force of love instead of hate. this is not saying any of us are unjustified in hating our mothers i know that feeling it is totally natural and needed to have that anger but it is not healthy if you cannot eventually when you are ready if you cannot move on from that emotional state it makes your own body unwell to hold the anger,,,,. Im nearly 50years old & have always been questioning whey we exist etc why this evil why all of everything….i have finally come to an understanding that satisfy s me & this is a bit off the track but what i have concluded is that most likely in the end all will turn to love that is why we are here if your into life having a purpose soul wise. that even the most evil will move to love eventually. I’m not saying i know this but its the conclusion that ive best been able to come to. and the feelings i felt after focusing good intent to her while meditating has helped confirm to me that thats what i want more of that feeling of peace. i had tohave the anger time first its natural and needed. but not forever thats all im saying.


Hi Darlene,

I have just come across your page after in recent months coming to the realisation that I have a narcissistic mother (very distinct characteristics). Up until 6 months ago, I knew something was off, but always assumed it was me. I am 29 years old and I guess just at the beginning of my angry and frustrated and sad and confused I feel, I take comfort from that fact that it’s not just me and my mum.
My situation feels really hopeless at the moment, but I feel truly lucky to have come across your site. Even just reading this page makes me want to cry, but its so helpful.
Thank you.


I wanted to clarify something after reading my post. I do not believe that our healing is contingent upon OFFERING our forgiveness to our abusers. That is not what I was talking about in my previous post. Anyone who can’t own up to their wrong doing doesn’t have the right to ask me to forgive them because the truth is they just don’t deserve it. What I was talking about was finding a way to forgive yourself for believing all the lies you had to tell yourself when you were a child in order to survive their abuse that perpetuated into your adulthood and through that forgiveness of my self I was able to see other people’s pain that allowed me to forgive them as well but it is totally internal. I did not go to my mother and say I forgive you. I did what I needed to do to heal me and part of that was learning how to feel compassion for myself which allowed me to feel compassion for my mother despite what she did to me. Letting go of all of that anger and hate is where my forgiveness came in.

I believe forgiveness is a totally personal choice and how you do it is up to you and I believe there are different degrees to it and maybe you want to forgive one thing and not another and that is totally ok. Nobody gets to tell you how to do it. It is your pain and it is your life and you get to handle it how you want to and anyone out there that tells you how you should do it is just another abuser in my mind.

I believe there are people like Joyce Meyer who have a special calling and they are able to totally forgive their abusers in such a way that is totally in line with God’s love. I believe she is better off for being able to do it and I pray one day that I can learn how to love in that way too but I am no where near that!!!

I pray for everyone to be able to forgive themselves because blaming yourself for what your abusers did will only keep you stuck.



I don’t think there is nay lack of action occurring while in anger stage i think a lot the most is achieved at that time and that the anger is necessary and the choice if to relaase that anger which i guess is forgiveness if that choice is made it is personal and not essential as having to. you will either want to or not i mean i swore that i would never ever forgive my mother. how i feel about that has changed im only sharing that process becasie it seems to be helping me so maybe it may help others who are feeling hurt and angry and stuck getting away from those feelings. its about taking power back realsiign we don’t need our mothers we can fix the damage ourselves making and benefiting from the new relationships that develop in healthier ways as our bourndaries are now stonger, realsiing that really do we actually want to be around those people that abused us not really as they refuse to change, realsiing that they don’t even know what love is meant to be like that we are lucky to know this all goes a long way to defusing the feelings of anger and grief maybe good intent to our abusers is not requried at all maybe it was just the mediitating that helped me achieve the feelings of peace. even though i don’t intend to ever see my mother again becasue i cannot trust her forgivness does not mean trusting again on its own thats impossible she is not sorry of course i can’t trust her so im protecting myself via no contact. Just im starting to feel now a bit is that in fact I don’t have to not love her just because my mohter does not love me. I’d like to be able to do what she cannot do properly which is love peroperly. it is ok to share these things that may help i hope i am not insisiting that this way is how it has to go just how it is going for me if it helps i am happy,


it seems forgiveness is too broad a word and means different things to everyone perhaps. i think because of that some people take offence to suggesting the word forgiveness.
i wondereed why i got born into such a cruel horrible family and to not actually realsie that was not normal for most my life as well…. the shock the realsiation, then the trying to make them see make them understand make them love me and the anger grief all thsoe feeligns that hurt me every day for too much of every day… wondering ok so i have been assigned this life to be born into this situation i guess to learn something to grow somehow… to overcome what i feel is impossible to overcome. to love to forgive those that do not love and do not care and are not sorry for hurting me that is what ‘god’ if there is a god or highter power or whatever reference feels right for you that this is what i have to somehow overcome. and that it is maybe easier than i thought to overcome where i felt stuck prior based on the actions or lackof actions of my family i was giving them the power now i am taking the power because i can and am. for me forgiveness i now see as one just one of the tools to getting through this i guess each of us finds our own way different way through this,


re the question why is forgivness for us not for them
this statement assumes that forgiveness equates or results in dropping/releasing anger forgiving them for the damage hurt they did to us
however this DOES NOT mean we allow ourselves to be treated like that EVER again that is not i think what forgiveness means at all
so forgiveness is contingent on first having set our own boundaries correctly to protect ourselves
but if forgiveness does equate to releasing of anger then that is how it works with the statement that forgiveness is for us not for them, because it is scientifically noted that anger is not good for our own health. for extended periods that is,


forgiveness is also to me not letting the abuser off it does not mean they should not be making reparation for damages if it can be done somehow they damm well should pay the cost of their damages to any human. forgiveness i meant only as in releasing anger once the anger has fueled the process of understanding and healing the anger is kind of necessary perhaps for a good time period for me it was 3 years pretty much, im ready and happy to be feeling im now entering a more pleasant or less horrible stage in all of this. things do get better much better.


I think over insisting on forgiveness is too much like being told to control things (in this case feelings) that I can’t in fact control. The idea of “releasing” anger assumes that one is voluntarily holding on to it where in practical experience it’s more like I’m finally allowing myself to get angry in the legitimate direction rather than punishing myself for it as my parents punished me for it.

I believe the wish to release anger is related to how much it was allowed or punished by my family. If having anger is really no big deal after all then I can accept it as a feeling (albeit unpleasant) and allow that it will cease when it does. We don’t insist on letting go of happiness, what’s the issue with anger if not because it is considered a dangerous emotion? And mainly what was dangerous about it was that it got us punished or was the parent’s excuse for mistreatment. I can understand why it would be so unwanted and why someone would want to rush into a state (forgiveness) that promises not only that you will be entirely healed but that you won’t have to deal with an unpleasant emotion that also carried fear of punishment.


I wanted to add that I’ve had difficulty with feeling happiness too, because I was also punished for too much exuberance. To the point that being happy has often led to wondering when the other shoe will drop. Or what terrible thing will happen because it can’t last. So I was also punishing myself/fearing the good feelings too. Emotional abuse is such an insidious thing, it turns your own emotions into triggers. I don’t think I can forgive them for that.



Oh, can I relate to that. Talk about mixed messages.

I was scolded for laughing out loud, but as I got a bit older, it was a mystery why I was serious a lot. (And I’m still more serious now than when I was a kid.)

I was chided for showing anger, and even raising my voice, then I was treated like a criminal for being a quiet loner. (I don’t mind spending lots of time alone doing quiet activities, but I wonder if part of the reason that I’m quiet is because I was “silenced” a lot. I got (and still) get flak for being a quiet loner since there’s a stigma against them.) It’s like I can’t win no matter what.


Maria #256- I think when we find something that really works for us we just want to share it with other people in hopes that it will work for them too because now we are experiencing the freedom that comes along with it. I believe finding that place of forgiveness is key to finding that freedom with inside of ourselves but you have to understand the meaning behind what true forgiveness really is in order to get to that place. I think what you wrote is spot on regarding what’s entailed with this.

I also liked how you wrote:

“Just I’m starting to feel now a bit is that in fact I don’t have to not love her just because my mother does not love me. I’d like to be able to do what she cannot do properly which is love properly.”

I needed to hear this because I spent so much time fighting that feeling of love towards my mother because I felt like I was betraying myself for doing it because I know how much damage her abuse did to me throughout my life. Throughout my recovery process I learned how to love myself and with that I learned how to love other people in a healthy way instead of being fueled by my own fears and insecurities getting in the way like my mother’s did to me. Now loving “me” is more important than my need to gain my mother’s love and I think that makes all the difference.



I really am finding this topic of forgiveness very interesting…along with emotions and mixed messages! It has given me a lot to think about. I also believe that forgiveness is a process and cannot be rushed or pushed. I was told when I was around 20 yrs old in church to forgive….and that it is a choice….when I mentioned that I was angry with my father. My father had given me my “last beating” not long before this and hit me all over my head and shoulders for something I said that he didnt like. He never apologized for it. I held onto that hurt for a very long time. I think for me, genuine forgiveness has definitely come in stages over the years as I have healed. Especially in the last couple of years since I cut my family off for good. I dont have to go back and have all of that triggered anymore either.


Just to clarify…I am still confused about the issue of forgiveness in black and white terms and as a “choice”. I was so abused and neglected that quite frankly, looking back, I think that most of the time people tell another who confides in them to “forgive” and “choose to forgive” mean well, and want to help the person, but to ME it seemed like once again, no one cared about what I was feeling or had gone through…it was still all about the abusers.


I agree with the sentiment that once we’ve found something that works then we want to share it. I think that’s great. Sharing the “How” of it is even better in my experience. And in sharing the “How” it allows other people to perhaps understand what may be preventing them or missing for them or unclear for them in the process. So “How” do you forgive someone who has abused you?

S1988, I also enjoy my quiet moments and puttering about by myself but my mother was all about insisting I do and feel the way she wanted at all times. No “Hey Alice come play with us this’ll be fun!” rather “You come here right now and show some enthusiasm”. I can hear people objecting that a parent shouldn’t have to “stoop” to accommodating a child’s feelings but that’s just the way my mother viewed things. She sometimes would sneer at me “Why should I have to do anything YOU want?” I’m guessing she was acting out her resentment towards her own parents towards me. I mean in her case I was really a thing to do with what she wanted and to cater to her needs. Yes I was fed and housed (although always clear who’s house it was) and clothed and sent to school but emotionally it was about what I could do for her.


Alice #261

I think we were taught all the wrong things when it comes to what are feelings represent. Anger equates to being a bad person. Sadness means that you are weak. Getting excited about doing anything equates with feeling guilty and being happy means you should feel ashamed. So many mixed messages to overcome. Just being able to match the right feeling with what was happening to me now was a huge obstacle to overcome because I dissociated all of those feelings out onto other parts of myself and to top it off these parts attack one another when they feel threatened as a way to keep my internal system safe which means I end up attacking myself on a regular basis. My alter “the Persecutor” doesn’t like it when my 3 year old alter shows any vulnerability. They in essence are afraid of each other and they both believe that what the other one is feeling will get them all hurt so they do whatever they have to do to shut the other one up and that means me attacking myself internally all because feeling my own feelings wasn’t an acceptable thing in my parents house that led to me being abused. Overcoming that fear of my internal parts was huge in my recovery. Finally got some relief!! Amen to that!!



Just because I might SAY the words “I forgive” doesn’t mean I “feel” it. True forgiveness to me is that I have to “Feel” it. Saying the words is meaningless to me. That’s why I want my mom to give me something I can forgive her for! I think she is hiding things that cause her to not care about my feelings (Only HER feelings are important, not mine), and I think she is repeating a pattern she learned. If she can admit that to me…. it might help me to “forgive” her….. BUT…. she has to back it up with actions.


My mom does the “anger isn’t good for YOU” card. Again, with the saying it’s A when it’s really B. what she really means is….. she hates me to be angry because of whatever reason, thusly I’m not “allowed” to be angry, so thusly she makes it about me when it’s about her!


The forgiveness issue bugs me so much that I’ve been looking about for more on it. Here is some more

Kris, bingo! “Just being able to match the right feeling with what was happening to me now was a huge obstacle to overcome because I dissociated all of those feelings out onto other parts of myself and to top it off these parts attack one another when they feel threatened as a way to keep my internal system safe which means I end up attacking myself on a regular basis.” I’ve more or less recently come to have conscious of an extremely strong self-hatred and the myriad ways in which I attack myself. It can happen so fast that it goes unnoticed but I’m on to it now. It’s “baked in” as the expression goes and its cause lies in emotional abuse and neglect at key points during my development. I can work on it but it’s a royal pain in the ass.


I wanted to add that I’ve had difficulty with feeling happiness too, because I was also punished for too much exuberance. To the point that being happy has often led to wondering when the other shoe will drop. Or what terrible thing will happen because it can’t last.

Alice, so many things in your posts I can relate to. Fortunately my Mom didn’t punish me for this… BUT….. I often got “covertly punished” during my career for this. Being told I was “too enthusiastic.” Or having “snide comments” about being enthusiastic. Every place I ever worked did this. I wondered, “What’s up with that? Why am I getting criticized for being happy?”


DXS, oh, mine would say “You’re your own worst enemy”. As I mention above, that’s also the case (although way less than I used to be). I think there’s almost nothing she told me that ever had even a grain of truth to it. It was all about getting what she wanted so there didn’t have to be any effort made towards helping me understand or answering my whys. Because of course answering a child’s question is demeaning or whatever.


I was chided for showing anger, and even raising my voice, then I was treated like a criminal for being a quiet loner. (I don’t mind spending lots of time alone doing quiet activities, but I wonder if part of the reason that I’m quiet is because I was “silenced” a lot. I got (and still) get flak for being a quiet loner since there’s a stigma against them.) It’s like I can’t win no matter what.

S1988, I can relate to this. My experience is that being a “loner” was criticized “circumstantially.” For example, if it was Christmas and the “extended family” was there, THEN….. I got criticized for being a loner. Appearance. My being a loner was tolerated until my Mom needed me not to be a loner for the sake of “appeareance.”

@Kris: I was amused that you were “fighting the feeling of loving your mom.” I wish I could say that, as I feel absolutely nothing. Don’t hate her, don’t love her. Just feel NOTHING. Except “obligation.” (I’m SUPPOSED to do this, I’m SUPPOSED to feel that…..)

I don’t think forgiveness is a “choice.” I have to “feel” it. Saying the words is pointless without “feeling” it. And you can’t FORCE a “feeling” although I managed to fake most of my feelings in childhood.

From @Alice:

No “Hey Alice come play with us this’ll be fun!” rather “You come here right now and show some enthusiasm”.

My mom would do the other way around. Start with the “it’ll be fun” stuff, and when I said “no” it was the “Show some enthusiasm” thing. In other words, “Be what I need you to be for the sake of appearance.”

And your comments about that you were here for what you could do for your mom, sounds like your mom was more OVERT about it. My mom was “covert.” She didn’t say the words like yours did, but her actions said it. A therapist told me that covert people know exactly what they are doing. I replied that my mom isn’t smart enough to be that devious. I think she is so totally unaware of herself that she could even fool herself by pretending to be a duck when she is really a goose. I think she is repeating a pattern she learned. My grandmother was good to her grandkids, but I am convinced that if birth control had been more widely available, my grandma would not have had kids. And I think my mom is unknowingly reacting to something in Grandma.


DXS, my mother wore her entitlement like a crown. I sometimes think to myself that motherhood is such a golden opportunity for someone like her. She was convinced both that she was a ‘great’ mother and that ‘nobody’s perfect’ and that she ‘did her best’ but that I was a ‘difficult’, ‘unaffectionate child’ and ‘times were tough’.

The thing is I CAN see myself as being quite difficult! I wouldn’t obey right off the bat, I was strong-willed (a ‘bad’ thing, apparently) and I couldn’t conjure up the ‘right’ emotions on cue (and I didn’t want to either). So I can see that being very difficult for someone who wants their child to be just they way they want it to be.


Alice and DXS: with my mother NO feelings of mine were okay. Anger, sadness, not okay. I would be ignored if I was upset and no one would ever ask what was wrong. My mother would instruct the family to ignore me, telling them that I’m just in a mood. How invalidating is that?? Anger was not tolerated, and even a facial expression of displeasure. At age fourteen I got smacked in the face by my mother at a fair because she didn’t like my expression. I was humiliated to be smacked but even more so because it was in a public place.
Happiness always got twisted into me being selfish. If I had fun with my friends and came home happy, and my mother had a bad day at work, she would guilt trip me into feeling I was selfish.
So the end result was that I believed that no feelings were okay. So I learned to stuff them inside.


Hi Amber! I definitely recognize some of my own experience in yours too. Yes, it’s totally invalidating. My mother was also handy with the slaps in the face. She didn’t hesitate to do it in public or in private. It didn’t feel like punishment so much as she was just hitting me because she was angry.
Yes, if I was happy and she was not, it was a problem too.

I’m sorry that happened to you too.


Finally Free # 265

This whole forgiveness process is confusing!! You are right when you said it felt like no one cared about you and what you were feeling regarding the situation with your father abusing you because the truth is they weren’t concerned about you, they were concerned about themselves. They didn’t understand the true meaning of what forgiveness entails and what they did to you was selfish, not kind. They are still operating out of the false sick belief system that tells them that they don’t have the right to think for themselves and they don’t have the right to feel their own feelings and they don’t have the right to confront someone when they do them wrong and whatever you do avoid feeling the pain that someone caused you at any cost by acting like it never happened to begin with!!

In other words they don’t know their own worth and they pass all of this same sick crap down to you by telling you to forgive someone who doesn’t even deserve it because the truth is your father didn’t do anything to warrant those words “ I forgive you” to come out of your mouth. This is why forgiveness doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else but yourself. You can’t base what YOU do on what other people tell you to do period. You lose your power every time. Thinking for yourself is what will free you and knowing your own self worth will propel you to the next level where you no longer will need to think about what all is entailed with the word forgiveness because once you establish your own self worth that whole forgives process will automatically follow suit.



Wow, there are a ton of comments in this conversation! There are some really great points being made here.
I want to weigh in on the forgiveness issue ~ I had to leave the forgiveness issue ‘on the back burner’ while I did my healing, and because there was so much invalidation that I needed to heal by validating myself and the damage that had been done to me, I really couldn’t ‘choose’ forgiveness so the way that I realize it happened for me was that ‘forgiveness ~ in the context of overcoming the resentment and anger, (which HAD to be validated FIRST before any overcoming stuff happened) was a result of the process of healing. It isn’t something that I ever chose or “did” it was a result of the work that I did. I agree that being told that forgiveness is the answer was way to close to the ways that I had been treated in the first place and served to remind me that my anger and resentment were not justified in the first place. (and they WERE justified!)

I don’t actually like to call that forgiveness because of the baggage around that word but if forgiveness is letting go of anger and resentment, then I was a result… not a choice.

Great conversation everyone!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Mrs. C
Welcome to Emerging from Broken! It’s not just you and your situation isn’t hopeless! (you might have to look at the concept of hopeless in a new way though..” There is hope for healing (at least on a personal level, your mom will have to make her own decisions.)
Glad you are here; there is a ton of info in this website.
hugs, Darlene


Kris and Darlene, I appreciate your insights and words of truth! I think I “forgave” mostly because once I realized the truth and came out of the fog, the hold of those emotions was broken over me and I was free. I am still in a lifetime process of learning and growing, so when someone new in my world does something that Hurts or bugs me, I do try to focus more on listening to my feelings, validating myself and all of that. Then I seem to be able to move on away from it. I may be over-thinking this, but that is the same thing to me as choosing to forgive because I move on in life and put the situation behind me. Before, I never did get validated or valued enough to be heard , and I didn’t validate my own feelings so they were being stuffed down inside. People telling me to forgive or choose to forgive didn’t help. This is a confusing topic to try and put words to, but it is also very interesting!


Alice, you weren’t difficult, you just weren’t what your mom wanted. Kind of like me, I call the alter ego “Blanche.”

Amber, holy cow. Are you able to even connect to your own feelings? I cannot. It takes me 48 hours to sometimes two weeks to process my feelings. I blame my mom for this.

I have an example of what forgiveness is to me. I once worked for a very dysfunctional organization. A female boss didn’t like me. I was not on her team, but she didn’t like me. She told all of her subordinates that if they were seen eating lunch with me, their careers would suffer. I forgave my co-workers. That was a slam dunk for me. Well, maybe it’s not forgiveness, but I held no grudge. Now, when the dysfunctional male office Director retired, and another office Director came in, the female manager was brought up on charges. She was demoted three grades. I then outranked her. At this point, I “forgave” her, but with boundaries.

As for my mother, I don’t wish her harm. I don’t wish bad things for her. I do not feel love for her, however. I just want SOMETHING from her….. something that will allow me to forgive her. Tell me the secrets she is hiding. I think she has pushed those secrets far down in her psyche so she doesn’t have to think about them. Thus, she presents a “false self.” And expects me to do the same.


thanks Alice the article on forgiveness you recommended was really interesting and explains that there are different levels of forgiveness. So for me it was letting go of bitterness and anger not active forgivenss which i guess is partial forgiveness that i am working on in terms of no longer focusing on the feelings of hurt injustice anger etc,, but only because ive done that part it would be wrong to miss out on allowing hose feelings they are valid and necessary. and they are by no means all gone for me either i find it cycles the feelings come and go worsen and lesson its not a constant state. im just trying to take charge of my overall emotional state by manging my thoughs so i dont’ think say for example i dont’ think
‘i have to forgive my mother to be happy ..
im thinking what my mother did was wrong its normal for me to feel angry but i don;t want those feelings of anger to affect me or her actions to affect me in a negative way anymore so im chooseing to not focus on the anger anymore so for me to think of her as someone who needs help and wish her the help she needs instead well that clearly states to my own self that it is not me that was the problem that i am ok that she needs help hope she gets it but i don’t need her to anymore for my own self i’ve helped myself, thats about as close to forgiveness as i can get with her anyway it will do for me which is all that matters i guess


I found this by Andrew Vachss talking about forgiveness from his article called “You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart”. Thought it might help someone. He wrote:

“A particularly pernicious myth is that “healing requires forgiveness” of the abuser. For the victim of emotional abuse, the most viable form of help is self–help—and a victim handicapped by the need to “forgive” the abuser is a handicapped helper indeed. The most damaging mistake an emotional–abuse victim can make is to invest in the “rehabilitation” of the abuser. Too often this becomes still another wish that didn’t come true—and emotionally abused children will conclude that they deserve no better result.”



DXS, I am able to connect to my feelings now. They were always there inside of me and I often felt a tightness inside when I stuffed them down. I think the tightness was my feelings pushing to get out as I tried to hold them in. It’s been a long road, but I had to acknowledge the feelings that I was holding in, and then, even harder for me ( and I am still in the process of doing this), trying to express them to other people. The fear of being punished for them is still active. Bt I’ m getting much better at expressing how I feel now. Today my daughter ( special needs) was brought back home by the caretaker that watches her once a week and the woman told me she took her for a walk. I was a bit surprised because it was cold out. But I remembered one of Darlene’s responses to me where she said she started standing up for herself by speaking very calmly and truthfully. And so I told the caretaker, calmly and truthfully, that it is still cold out and that I do not want her taking my daughter for walks until it warms up. ( Thank you Darlene!!) and somehow, doing it that way, I didn’t feel the fear that usually holds me back. DXS there are times it takes me a little longer to process my feelings. There have been times it took a couple of days in the past. It’s getting better now. It may be because I tell myself that any feelings I am feeling inside are acceptable to have even if other people would say they ‘re wrong to have, such as anger. It’s validating my right to my feelings.

Alice Im sorry you went through a lot of the same crap I did with my mother. As far as the slaps went, many times the ones I received were because I was the whipping boy for my mother’s frequent bad moods. That’s why I tried so hard not to show feelings in the hopes that she wouldn’t find a reason to slap me. But even an expression on my face was enough to set her off. I don’t miss those days!


“The most damaging mistake an emotional–abuse victim can make is to invest in the “rehabilitation” of the abuser.”

Oh, you can say that again.

That was the mistake I made when I broke my four-year hiatus with my mother when I fell on hard financial times to move in with her. It was okay at first, but she returned to how she treated me before I left, and I found myself in the role of the spineless, submissive child. When she would yell at me for peccadilloes or expressing anger, I would write pages of letters on notebook paper to try to convince her to understand me. I’m not even sure if she comprehends everything I told her in those letters. (I express myself better through writing than talking.) She did “change” in some ways, but only on my insistence, but never apologized nor offered to make amends. I’m now on my second hiatus, living with the sad truth that she will never repent, but with the refusal to be duped again.


I’m always amazed by the demand that we forgive but there are so few explanations as to how we might forgive such destructive and violent behavior at our hearts and souls.

I’ve decided that I sometimes keep recalling the pain because I’m afraid that If I don’t, I will somehow let them back into my life.

I’m doing this less often, and realized that what I’m ready to do in some cases is just let go it. But how do I let go? When the memory comes up, I acknowledge it, and then I redirect my thinking. This is my version of forgiveness.

People are mentioning books; one that I’ve found enlightening is ‘The Loveless Family’

Thanks everyone for your sharing and help.


Hi Maria, it’s such a thorny question for me (forgiveness) on many fronts. Not least of all the theological/religious one first. My mother wanted “forgive and forget” for herself but punished me for the slightest stuff. Really it was all about control. It’s also tricky because on the one hand it’s finally “ok” for me to get angry about the way I was treated and when I remember events, boy do I get angry! At the same time I have my life far away from her and I don’t want it to be still about her so many years afterwards. What I’m struggling through are effects (I mentioned the self-attacking above) and it seems difficult to undo them without reference to how they came about and when I think of the how then I get angry. Some people might say “Well it’s all your responsibility in the present now anyway” but I’m not finding it as clear cut as that. It’s more of a circular thing (or steps forward and then back again).


Mary – you said:

“I’ve decided that I sometimes keep recalling the pain because I’m afraid that If I don’t, I will somehow let them back into my life.”

I feel very much the same way! I really believe that my anger is protective. There really are different kinds of anger, and not all anger is the kind that eats us up. Some of it motivates us in the right direction.

I wonder now if we have anger that comes and goes, maybe we don’t have anything to worry about. It’s that anger that’s always there just below the surface that hurts us and mine was there for a long time before I knew about it. We have a chance to deal with anger we know!


Alice i do kind of regret using the word forgiveness as it was really the wronog word for me to use i think that for me now im looking that way but that is only NOW what i am trying and its not even forgiveness in the full meaning of the word its only partial – release of remaining anger/grief. the article did say that for some forgiveness is not ever likely or that it is not even requried that for some it is better that they never forgive. Please do not feel you need to explain your anger you should be angry you are right to be angry. a great way to help release anger is to do excercise is to do things you enjoy i think what i was trying to say more was that by focusing too long on what our mothers or parent did to us by not allowing ourselves time to also focus on whwat is good in the world what is good in us we are likely to get depressed if we don’t manage the time we spend being angry (the anger we shoudl have and are entitled to have). I am very anti religion myself and the shame is that these ‘religious’ abusers that use tag lines like forgive are evil becuase they can put us off the good part ofthe orginal intent of that message when first written. i really did mean forgiveness int terms of anger release thats what i meant and i don’t want anyone to be stuck depressed which is what happened to me because i was not managing the time i spent i over focused on my mothers evil i had to shift my focus to get to a healthier place. but i had to first have that focus because before that i was in the fog i had repressed a lot i had to focus to work it all out. i had to be angry. i am still at times angry and if i thinnk about her i get angry again. but im not blocking it again either. im just managing my emotional state by giving priority now to me the good in me. sorry i didn’t mean to get you concerned that you need to forgive or concerned that you are wrong to be angry you are fine and have a very rational mind that is searching for the right way for you so you will be fine


I agree that the anger is self-protective; the sharp edges of the bad memories dull a bit with time and I find myself wondering how it would be if I turned up in these final years to be around my family.

My mom is 88 and could pass any day. She was never a mother to me–in fact I mothered her. Extended family and friends pressure me to reconnect with her–even my closest friends say “how could you not see your mother?”. There is no one I can talk to about all of this. Several people have urged me to make up with my mom to make sure I’m in her will, but that would be hypocritical and she’d do whatever she wants to do anyways. Witness the comments on this blog from people who took care of their parents in their final illnesses only to find out that they were disinherited.

I tried everything I could think of for 30 years before giving up about 15 years ago. I know in my gut that nothing will have changed if I go back and that it would retraumatize me, but hope dies hard…


Davina this is what i would say to your friends that say to you \how could you not see your mother’
i would say
do you know that some mothers are so traumatized themselves as children and have not ever dealt with that or repressed it and so are not able to actually be a mother like you know a mother to be. that they are incapable of being a mother like you know a mother to be. that they subconsciouly or even consciously take revenge out on their own children or one of their children, revenge for the trauma they suffered, trying to destroy or if subcnonsioulsy still having the effect of destroying or nearly destroying their child. So please give some time to consider what it is like to be a child in that situation and how it is for that adult child to risk going back into a situation that nearly destroyed them. and that if you value me as a friend that the last thing you would ever ever want to do would be for me to be destroyed by going back into that destructive envrionment because my mother has not changed,


Thanks, Maria–

I don’t believe that my mom is any more traumatized by her upbringing than her kinder brothers and sisters or than me; I believe her narcissism is inborn and that she got it from her dad who by all accounts was an evil piece of work. There were 11 kids in her family, each a year apart. Half were great people and half are functioning-mentally-ill. My mother simply failed to develop empathy, conscience and truthfulness. I believe she inherited her mental problems from her dad genetically.

I was just told by a friend (who has no contact with her 88 year old dad) that I should make amends to my mother because “that relationship is so important” and “you deserve to get your inheritance”. This is after I spent several hours explaining to her what my mother was like to me all of my life and how hard I tried to “fix” our relationship with no luck.

Next month, a friend of 20 years is visiting from out of town. She’s had several long term affairs with men outside of her marriage and I never shamed her or judged her for that. However, she’s appalled that “you don’t see your mother.”

People don’t think. Don’t they read the newspapers? There are people who kill their kids, burn them with cigarettes, torture and rape them. And down from that, but on the same continuum, are people who do all kinds of mean things to their kids. It’s frustrating that so many intelligent people spout about the saintliness of anyone who’s reproduced.

Awhile back I decided to start telling the truth about my mother and family when I talk to friends and relatives, but all that happened is that I scared them away. I’ve decided that it’s best to keep my mouth shut about it (except for here) because no good came of being honest.

From now on I’m going to say “I’ve learned that there’s no use trying to explain my family” when the subject comes up.


From @MariaBinnie

I would say do you know that some mothers are so traumatized themselves as children and have not ever dealt with that or repressed it and so are not able to actually be a mother like you know a mother to be. [snip] that they subconsciouly or even consciously take revenge out on their own children or one of their children, revenge for the trauma they suffered, trying to destroy or if subcnonsioulsy still having the effect of destroying or nearly destroying their child.

This is what I think is my Mom. She is hiding something, or repressing something. She claims she isn’t, but when I backed her into a corner and did a “Law & Order SVU interrogation” I got her to admit to an awful thing from her childhood. I think it’s related to why she “lied by omission” to me when I had to have an OB/GYN exam at age 12 (which traumatized me, and all she cared about what that I was “rude” to HER doctor!).

My mom tries to convince people she is “this” when she is really “that.” The “that” part is not wrong or bad, but for some reason she wants to be seen as “this” and not “that.” Pretending to be a border collie when she is really a german shepherd. Something like that. And she manages to convince herself that she is what she is pretending to be.

I think there is more and she doesn’t want to talk about it. And mom is one of those “leave the past alone” people. I have learned (from experience and from Darlene’s posts, which validated the experience I had) that people who say “leave the past alone” are hiding something.

And, I see some people are hinting at the inheritance issue. The best thing is to put yourself in a position where you don’t need it. That may be difficult for some.

Davina, I like your comment about “no explaining my family.” I’m going to try some modification of that. So far, I’m in a position where I don’t run into anyone who knows my family, so I don’t have to deal with that, but just in case…..


I had my mouth taped too in 3rd grade. I was very surprised to read that others on this blog were also treated this way. I think all my chattering was because I was never listened to at home. Conversation of any kind might upset Dad so thoughts and interesting events and opinions were so restricted. Questions and requests had to be voiced in a specific way using correct words. Everything had to be perfect and precise. I had to be perfect in front of Dad. But he could swear be rageful and out of control. It was all crazy making. You never knew from day to day what would happen. The invalidation was so bad being moms SG that I punished myself for any feelings when I was hurt. It became a strong coping method which I am finally getting under control. Just not acting on it when triggered and feeling that switch is amazing. Ive gotten so much out of all your posts. Many thanks.


We’ve had the ‘Do they know what they’re doing?’ conversation before and I’ve usually leant towards ‘No, it’s this totally unconscious thing’ but I’ve also listened to some other people who make a strong case for it being ‘controllable’.

For example, they don’t do these things in public or are able to put on a sweet face for others and a show of ‘happy family’ (and will even punish the kids for not playing that theater) and then mistreat their kids later that day in the ‘privacy’ of their own homes.

My mother was quite capable of telling other people about my so-called accomplishments (I’m assuming to make herself look good) and either not complimenting me on them or criticizing me for not doing as well as other people’s kids.

So I’m wondering whether this ‘Well it’s actually unconscious on their part’ appeal is just more of the same attempt at trying not to have them at fault.

I think in my family’s case it’s all down to how children are considered (as in “they’re not”) to be ‘lesser’ beings than adults. It kind of reminds me of the way women were treated before they reached some semblance of equality in some places in the world. If you go back to the wife-beating years when it was perfectly fine to discuss, apparently.

DXS, my mother doesn’t admit to any adverse childhood experiences either (she said it was great), which I find suspect given what I do know of her upbringing. I tried that conversation with her to kind of give her an ‘out’ for the way she mistreated me but she didn’t take it.

And I also really wanted to believe there was some thing beyond us both at cause because really, if not, then it’s either my fault or her’s, right? She maintained that cause was with me and ‘difficult times’. So when we talk about ‘responsibility’, although that’s in practice true for me today, it grates like hell when she I know she has accepted none at all.

On inheritance. I’ve asked myself ‘How much is my life worth’? And the answer is ‘more than that’. I’ve thought of millions not being enough to sell myself back into that situation. Sometimes I feel she owes me for the shit she put me through and that it would only be just to get something but what would I have to do in exchange? I’m better off with my own life and financial independence.


Hi Maria,

Thanks for your reply. I was initially concerned that I might be talking to a member of what I call the ‘forgiveness police’:) and I’m both glad I’m not and I agree with what you said here “i think what i was trying to say more was that by focusing too long on what our mothers or parent did to us by not allowing ourselves time to also focus on whwat is good in the world what is good in us we are likely to get depressed if we don’t manage the time we spend being angry (the anger we shoudl have and are entitled to have)” and I am grappling with that some.

Then Davina mentioned the self-protective aspect of anger which I found really interesting and I also remember that for a while I had to keep reminding myself of just how bad things were because every time I felt a bit better I thought ‘Maybe I can get back in touch now and things will be different’. But I’d already been there and nothing was different.

I’ve also lost friendships over the question of my not having a relationship with my family, although the focus is definitely on my mother. People have berated me for it. That whole ‘But it’s your mother’ thing. And ‘You don’t have kids so you can’t legitimately say anything about this’. That whole aspect, the social aspect of this is huge. You know, would we say to an abused wife, ‘But it’s your husband’? or ‘But it’s marriage and that whole relationship is more important than your being hit or emotionally abused’? I think we wouldn’t say that (or maybe in some places in the world we still would).


Hobie I too hold my current anger as a motivation to not forget. I too easily forget past transgressions as I was taught never hold anyone accoutable for their bad behavior toward you. Everyone else gets a free ride but I have to be fogiving. Its a no boundries issue also. No more. So much to learn!!


Davina #292- I am learning to be selective with whom I tell what about my family to too. Takes too much energy and causes too much frustration and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone because I already know the truth. I liked your response “From now on I’m going to say “I’ve learned that there’s no use trying to explain my family” when the subject comes up.” Thanks for the good advice. Think I will use it myself and save myself a big fat headache too!!

When I hear people say “Isn’t that horrible that her own daughter didn’t take care of her own mother in her old age” I say to them “Well that depends. I don’t know who her mother was and how she treated her daughter”. That usually shuts them up.

I thought about that whole inheritance thing too. I won’t be hang’in on that one either even though I know that I deserve every single last penny of it after what they cost me in my life. Like you said, you can’t count on them. People don’t understand what we are dealing with here. My father just as soon bury it with him then give it to one of his children. My only hope is him dying first and counting on the fact that my mother would be rolling in her grave if someone asked me why she didn’t give her own daughter her inheritance without her being there to lie to them about the reason why!!! I decided the best thing for me to do is let it in God’s hands and like DXS said try to do it on my own.


Karen R

It’s a very lopsided double-standard that our families carry, isn’t it? Definitely boundary issues and I’m still trying to translate the concept into practical use.

As for the inheritance discussion, that’s been a very real issue as I’ve been no contact with my family for about a year now. My siblings and I had been receiving financial gifts annually for a a few years. Until he passed, my dad wanted to give us what he could while he was alive. My mother continued the tradition after he passed, but much more reluctantly. Now well over a year has passed and I haven’t received anything. I hoped that wouldn’t be the case, but I was prepared that it would be. I’m taking that as an indication that I either have been or will be written out of my mother’s will and I’ve decided that there is no amount of money that’s worth the damage that she was willing to do to me. I also didn’t expect that continuing the game would necessarily keep me in the will.

My heart and my sanity are worth so much more than money.


Alice #295- I remember having that conversation on whether or not our parents were consciously aware of abusing us and I originally believed that it was done on a subconscious level without true awareness due to the very nature of what generational abuse entails and I still believe that plays a big role in a lot of the emotional abuse that goes on but I also think that maintaining a certain level of denial plays into all of this as well. For a long time now whenever I would read posts here stating how parents knew what they were doing something inside of me never felt right but I couldn’t pinpoint the reason why.

Last night I had an experience that changed my mind in all of this. I had absolute rage come over me and I was pounding my pillow as if I was stabbing my mother’s face and after I was all through doing it I said to myself “she knew”. Those words automatically came out of my mouth. There was no thought involved with it. Overcoming denial is a process too. You can’t do it all at once. It would crush you and I believe last night was me coming out of more denial. Admitting that my mother hurt me on a subconscious level was one thing but admitting to my self that she intentionally tried to use and abuse me for her own purposes took her betrayal to a whole other level. One that I did not want to face.

Now I think her abuse was both intentional and partly due to generational abuse. Maybe it has to do with overcoming that “all or nothing” and “black or white” sick way of thinking! Her abuse can be both… conscious and subconscious. GREAT!!!


Hi Alice,
I’m still trying to figure out and articulate what my thoughts/feelings are about what they know and understand and what they don’t.

I certainly don’t believe that they (my parents) understand the way we understand. In my last communication with my parents, I said to them if they actually consciously understood the kind of damage they’ve done and continued to do and still chose to do so in full consciousness, they’d have to be psychopaths, but I don’t believe they are psychopaths.

My impression is of a kind of fragmented understanding, plus a refusal to understand, a desire not to want to understand because of the force of what it would mean to understand.

Your mom wanted you to behave a certain way, be a certain person for her. You felt the brunt of her anger and coldness when you were not what she wanted. She didn’t have you to get to know you and care about you and help you be and become more and more who you are. She didn’t care about who you were. No doubt, like mine, she wanted you to naturally be what she wanted and didn’t give birth to you with some sadistic desire to damage you. My mom had all these ideas about mother/daughter relationships, the kind of outward appearances of what close relationships look like. An example would be the daughter would tell her mom everything important first before anyone else because she cherishes her mom and her mom is the first person she thinks of. This taken down the line, imposed on reality, I imagine is why she was humiliated when she found out from other people that I’d gone to the dentist or got a haircut before she knew about it.

I don’t think that understanding these things is that difficult. It isn’t rocket science. And if someone told me that I was damaging them and it had something to do with my incapacity to understand rocket science, I’d make some kind of attempt to hear what they’re saying, to try to grasp a layman’s understanding of rocket science. And barring that I would defer to the person in the know, also apologize that my ignorance has caused so much damage, ask what I can do, and take all steps suggested by said person to try to minimize any further damage.

The problem of course is control, is believing they’re right and you’re wrong, and that the problem isn’t them, it’s you. They decide this before even giving a chance to listen to you. The immediate response is various defence tactics. To some degree this is natural. We all have egos. However, upon insistence and awareness of the fact that you are hurting, the continued refusal to try to understand…

For me, I’m very aware of my mom’s issues with my grandma, and thus extremely aware of the patterns. One of my big issues, which my mom has not said a word in response to, is about feeling hostage to her depression, fearing that she’d get into a car accident on purpose. I know that my mom has felt that same hostage feeling to her mom’s depression. My grandmother’s very good at the victim bullying thing. My mom does the “superior person” thing, tries to hold herself detached, knowing better. My grandmother’s biggest power is that given her lack of desire to take accountability for herself, no one will push right up to the edge of the line because of the pain she carries over her son’s suicide. I’m sure she doesn’t understand it in a way that’s articulated in her consciousness, but in some basic way she uses her son’s death as means to get away with abusing people. It isn’t that she couldn’t follow this intellectually, rationally. She’s a very intelligent person. It’s more that it’s simply too much to bear. Her son was, however, also my mom’s brother, and all the abuse my mom has suffered at the hands of her mom is real, her pain as legitimate as my grandmother’s pain. She deserves to be heard. She has tried letters. When I was a teen, she shared some of these. My grandmother does all the stuff abusers do, bouncing back the blame, etc. on to my mom. My mom’s called the bad daughter, etc. My mom has never been heard. I do feel for her. But she is also as capable of understanding things, as my grandmother is. There is a dependency on the coping mechanisms, which in my family tend to be first and foremost other people, using people. To give up controlling/exploiting, to be honest about that, might actually mean losing that entirely, losing whatever sense of “love” you have, even if it’s a false sense. (My parents for example truly believe they love me but they really love using me). This takes a lot of strength. If you start to walk down this road, you open up your capacity to understand more and more.

So I’m not sure it’s truly a question of understanding. It’s a question of caring. If you care, you will care enough to understand to the greatest degree you possibly can. I’ve gone to the end of the line. My parents keep trying to see if I will cave in to what they want but I won’t. If I’m willing to compromise myself to bend in their direction, then they don’t have to go down that hard road. They can keep their eyes closed to what their minds are capable of understanding (to whatever degree—in my case I actually know it is to a huge degree because I am aware both of the recurring patterns from both my parents life into my own—in some ways I gather I have absorbed everything they’ve set their life about repressing and denying—and also their intellectual capacity because they are both smart people). They’d rather not go down that road. But if you lose your child as a result, and you hear of immense damage she has sustained…. would you care enough? Even if you don’t understand fully… to say “I believe you and I’m going to try to understand.” See for me, what I’ve brought forward, even if they don’t understand the way I understand, it should feel recognizable to them. It should be familiar. There should be reason to believe me, to give me the benefit of the doubt to try it on for size. That’s what you do when you’re trying to understand something. You put it through different filters to see if it fits. You analyze it in different ways. You may come to different conclusions down the line. But you try things out. But they have an absolute refusal to try our way—even just to try, to see how everything filters through. That makes me suspicious. Certainly if you don’t want something to be true, you won’t want to try it out so that you see that it’s true…. So, it’s about caring enough to try to understand. That’s what makes the difference but over and over we’re faced with their selfishness (and maybe their selfishness comes from brokenness and is completely understandable, but it’s still selfishness). The fact that life remains about what they want and that still they see their child not as someone they were supposed to get to know and to care for and about, but someone to fit them and what they want. No matter how bad the damage, still they can’t care… What I wrote about my grandma using her son’s death, I wrote to my mom, and in a way I thought that was the harshest thing I wrote. I do understand that her incapacity to care for herself, for the abuse she has suffered, because she can’t fully confront her mother is essentially what stops her ability to care for people in their own right, instead of as things to use to make her feel okay. It’s not mean to tell the truth. It feels mean and it can get very harsh. But I think it’s an act of love because it’s the only way things have hope of changing. It’s what healing hinges on. I’m not unforgiving as such. Anger is life-protecting. Anger would have stopped my assault from happening. But fear ruled me. That’s okay. It wasn’t my fault. Nothing was. Fear has ruled me all my life. Of course I don’t know exactly what would have happened exactly if I had let my anger out that night; maybe my fear saved me. The same as when we were growing up and had no other options to live outside of our reality. But now we do. And they do, too. All the options that are available to us are available to our abusers. What did you know when you started on this path? Nothing, in a way, and everything in another. They are the same. They know nothing and everything. They were there, participants. They know. But they don’t know. But they know. Ultimately in my mind it’s a choice. Sickness, mental health problems, what have you, all play a role. But there’s a choice to try, to whatever capacity you can, to understand. You can feel it when people try. What we feel more than anything is their unwillingness to try and that to me is a much more important thing to take in than trying to figure out what they understand.

Also, to note, I might be completely wrong about what it is that hinders my mother from healing and taking responsibility. It might be something else entirely. While I think that’s a high probability, it doesn’t really matter what it is that is hindering them, what the big secret is (because maybe the thing at the centre of it all is just another thing that is reflective of every other thing that seems to be all about selfishness at the cost of self and others). What matters is do they care enough to try to understand, to do their best to listen? The reason they can’t is not about you but it hurts just the same as if it is. That’s why you can’t be a part of it. You need parents who can care about you because you are worthy of being cared about. You can’t undo the biology of needing and wanting your parents to care about you. You can’t be the detached, bigger person without it doing some kind of harm to you, even if you’re not fully aware. I really don’t believe that it’s biologically possible. We separate ourselves so as not to feel that pain acutely, to not have that wound repeatedly ripped open. The truth stays with us but in time hopefully it will fade into a past sadness, something that we may feel strongly from time to time and dimly to the point of nothing at all at other times as we go along…. That’s my conclusion. There’s just nothing at all that I can do anymore. I’ve done everything I could. It’s up to them now to sort things out if they want. Otherwise, it’s okay. I’m alive and I’m going to heal and I’m going to do my utmost to live my life because who knows how long I’ve got. I’ve lost enough.


Hobie- I’m with you on the whole inheritance thing. They could offer me a million dollars right now and I would never subject myself to their toxic way of living again but I’m not a martyr. If they give me an inheritance after they are good and gone I will gladly take it and every time I do something that I like to do I will think of it as finally getting what I should have gotten from them all along. Some peace and joy at their expense instead of mine!!!


You know what I said about my grandma, about her using her son’s death to get away with abusing people… and saying that it was too much to bear for her… no, not that’s accurate. It’s not the truth of that that’s too much to bear, it’s what recognizing that truth would require of her. Something like that, maybe…


Yes, yes, I’m certain they know everything. It’s the very fabric of their life. When you speak the truth, they have to tear you down because you’re bringing to the surface what they know and need to keep buried. What they don’t know is that there is another way. What they don’t know is that life doesn’t have to be “eat or be eaten.” What they don’t know is real love and equality and value and true life-affirming power. What they don’t know is everything worth living for. Everything they get comes at a cost much higher than what they’re getting. I guess that’s why they are pitiable. But only from a distance, only when not caught in their web.


My mother doesn’t have an inheritance for me (that I don’t know of, that is), but if she did, I don’t think it would make up for all the damage caused. I’ve read an e-book called “Breaking from Your Parents” and this excerpt spoke out to me, and can be useful for posters here:

“…what about reparations, that is, compensation for damages done in childhood? I have had some people suggest that this would be fair. Perhaps, for example, parents could pay for their troubled adult child’s therapy. Or perhaps a father who long ago broke his child’s teeth— or ruined them through feeding him sugary junk food— could now pay for adult dental care. Is this okay? I sit on the fence here, but if I were to climb off the fence I would climb away from reparations— and climb toward getting away from our parents and learning to sort out our own lives and our own problems ourselves, through non-parental means. Again: ultimately we as adults become responsible for ourselves. And we have within us the tools to do it. Seeking our parents’ help is a slippery slope that all too easily repositions us in the role of a child. And to me that’s not worth it.”

Mackler, Daniel (2014-01-30). Breaking from Your Parents: Setting a
New Precedent for Your Life and Our Species (Kindle Locations 627-633). . Kindle Edition.

If interested, one could check it out and purchase it here:

I don’t agree with all the points he made in the book, but I found it validating.


Hi Alaina, so many points to consider. Including this idea that before I’d admit to any kind of cold intentionality and “knowing” on my parents’ behalf, I’d try everything else. Which doesn’t seem that far away from their denial. I can’t get my head around it but I have had moments where their motivation became clearer. And many more murkier moments where I’ve been just grasping at straws.


Hi Alice, I know what you’re saying about “try everything else.” This is hard for me. As you go along, you think of things you might have tried, etc. Perhaps I should say “I tried enough.” I think it’s also important to see cutting off as the pinnacle of what you have tried. Of course it wasn’t some kind of tactic to get them to see. We cut off for ourselves, but it’s probably the strongest message we can send about how important all this is to us. I imagine it’s an individual thing that point where we decide enough is enough. We go back and forth, be it in reality or just in our heads. And yes, I think you’re right that it’s something akin to their denial—thinking that we might find that thing, that key to get through to them. Darlene once said to me something about there being no magical set of words. That’s accurate. I’ve said enough and cutting off, as well as being for me, is a testament to them of how important it is. Of course that doesn’t stop them from thinking I’m wrong, or believing it might be a bluff and I’ll come around, but there is nothing of greater power that I can do. In return for your attempts, you got “it’s your choice, Alice,” and “it was the done thing,” etc. They always have an explanation for everything. No set of words is more powerful than the message “you’re losing me because you won’t listen and care for what I’m saying.” But again we don’t cut off to make a point. We cut off to save ourselves, but in so doing, we learn something about them…. From everything I’ve read of yours, your mom’s motivation seems to be clearly for herself. She didn’t really want children (if I’m remembering correctly that was in your posts) and got mad at you for not conforming to what she wanted. Her motivation was to get you to give her what she wanted. She was mean and used whatever other tactics to try to get you to give her what she wanted all those times you failed to live up to her desires/expectations. My mom’s motivation was the same (although she wanted children and what she wanted from me was individual to her, something slightly different than what your mom wanted). Our attempts to get through to them, I think, were maybe attempts to see if there was something more to it. Perhaps to see if there was some “better reason” than just to get what they wanted. But also to see if they were capable of feeling anything toward us that was beyond our supposed failure to be what they wanted. I.e. to see if they could feel for us as distinct human beings, as opposed to as property/services rendered. How much do you have to bleed? The fact is the truth alone of your pain, of the damage of their actions, should have been enough. I think everything else we do beyond that to try to get through to them is about how unbelievable it is to us, and yes, I think what you’re saying about it being similar to their denial is true. It’s our denial. It can’t be so simple that they just wanted to use us, that we are nothing to them unless we give them what they want, that our pain doesn’t mean anything to them, because everything is about them. But yes, I think it can be that simple. It’s more about at what point do you give up, do you realize this truth, and how do you sit with it? I suppose we see whatever their issues are as something that hinders their ability to feel for us as fellow human beings and if we figure out and help them fix their issues by instigating some kind of revelation with some magic prescription of words and actions, then they will feel for us and love us the way we want them to. I’m not sure love is hidden under a rock but if it is, I’ve spent way too long trying to move that rock. It’s the child in us that wants to know is there love under the rock. It’s the child that thinks that means something about us. It doesn’t. We’re loveable if there’s love under the rock or not. I imagine it’s that child part of us that makes it so hard to settle down to be able to say to ourselves “we tried enough.” Because we did. Because it wasn’t something we ever should have to have done. Trying even a tiny bit was beyond the call of duty, so to speak. It’s not a child’s job, not a child’s battle to fix the dysfunction of the parent. So anything you do is more than enough. I think as adults being able to point out what has caused us pain to those who have done so deserves respect, particularly when the pain was caused in childhood when we weren’t actually in a 50/50 situation. I think that’s all we can do. Tell the truth of the damage. Then try your best to let go. The rest isn’t really our business.


Hi Alaina, excellent post. Thanks for relying these things. I want to say “I’ve tried everything” too to those people who tell me I shouldn’t have cut my mother off (although there is no concern for my cutting off anyone else, why?) I so want other people to get it. To stop belittling me for what wasn’t some “on a whim” or “childish” choice.

I did wonder if staying angry at my mother is a way to avoid the final cut off. I’ve considered that and it’s possible but I don’t know. I just know that it would be way easier with “society’s blessing”.


A lot of what Alaina said applied to my mom, too. Although Alice’s mom sounded more, well, I’m trying to find a word…. whatever the word, Alice’s mom sounded more of it.

My mom kept kept saying she wanted children. But what Alaina said about, “when you cut them off, you see the truth” (words to that effect), well, it’s true. The last phone conversation I had with my mom before I went N/C for a second time, she went off on me and called me names. She has never done this before. This tells me she is possibly jealous of me. I have an aunt and uncle on my Dad’s side who never had children. Mom made the same comments to me that she always made about that aunt and uncle. I’m going with “jealous.”

Alice, I see what you are saying about “Anger to avoid a cutoff.” Well, for me, cutoff doesn’t make the anger go away immediately. It still has to “wear out” of you somehow.


Alaina #307- Such an eloquent post. As human beings it is programmed into us to seek out our parents love and there isn’t anything in this world that is going to stop us from wanting to obtain it. It’s inside of us and we can try to deny it all we want to but it is only going to hurt us, not them.

There will always be a part of me that still wants my mother’s love. Learning how to accept that fact is making things easier for me because I am no longer beating myself up and feeling guilty over the fact that I wanted it to begin with despite how poorly she treated me. Human beings are supposed to want their mother’s love and me wanting my mother’s love is a normal thing not something that I should be punishing myself over and realizing that I deserved healthy love and not the sick love that I got from her is making all the difference in the world. Now I know that it wasn’t because I did anything wrong it is due to her inability to love me in a healthy way that got in the way of our relationship and she gets to take all the blame for that not me.


Alice #308 I think there are multiple reasons why we continue to hold onto the anger that we have towards our mother’s that prevents us from cutting off that sick tie we have with them. For me staying angry at my mother gave me a sense of power that “I am the one in control here, not you” stemming from my childhood where I had to believe that lie in order to survive her abuse but that false belief system carries over into our adulthood when we no longer need to hold onto that anger as a way to protect ourselves from being abused. Now we have choices and we can walk out the door but back then we had to create ways in our head to survive.

Another reason is my mother taught me to be totally reliant upon her. She didn’t want me to know how to stand up on my own two feet due to her own rejection and abandonment issues getting in the way. To her that meant that I was going to leave her too. Until I was able to take a risk and learn that doing things on my own feels good, not bad like she taught me, I was still going to believe her lie that I would die without her being by my side all the time making it impossible for me to cut that sick tie with her because to me it was equivalent to having a death sentence if I did.

Anger is a form of protection. As long as I stayed angry at my mother I still could hold onto the dream that one day she would love me and the things that she did to me were not intentional when they were in order to avoid all that pain and heartache that goes along with coming out of that denial. As long as I was angry I could still get her love. Cut that anger off and that dream dies.


Alice, you do have society’s blessing, just not every member of society’s blessing. At the very least, I believe you have the blessing of everyone here (as well as other people out in the world who do believe the same). Our blessing is worth more because we make sense and we care and we know better (the other side has no real argument except “But they’re your parents”). Lots of people believe awful things. I know it’s hard if it feels like the majority but that doesn’t mean they’re right. Don’t discount the ones who know the truth and believe in you for all the jackasses lost in their own dysfunction who want to tell you that you’re a bad person, or a smaller, pettier person because of your choice, which was not childish, but the only mature thing left for you to do when dealing with your mother’s (and family’s) childishness. Your mom harmed you and she was the one person who was supposed to love and care for you more than anyone else in the world (along with your dad). They failed you, not the other way around. It doesn’t matter what other people think. They are wrong… I know it’s really hard to hold onto that, but it’s the truth.

Kris, what you said in your 2nd paragraph really resonates with me, how much I’ve beaten myself up and felt guilty just for wanting love, be it from my family or from anyone in a kind of general sense, as though I should be able to live without love and it’s a sign of greed and my dysfunction that I want to be loved. But it is natural. What’s unnatural is being forced to live in deprivation. The real dysfunction in my life is not the desire and need to be loved but what has come out of the deprivation of it.


I just thought of another reason why this whole thing is so hard. Being able to admit that I wanted my mother’s love is the same thing as being vulnerable. I equate being vulnerable with being hurt but what I am learning is being vulnerable is freeing when it is done in a healthy way instead of how my mother made me feel when she was abusing me.So many false belief systems to overcome but by reading everyone’s posts here it is helping me to overcome them. Grateful for all of your help.


*Alaina: Your post really spoke to me on such a deep level…and it makes absolute sense to my adult mind. As a child…to feel the very human need of wanting/needing/expecting love…a mother’s love, a father’s love…was dangerous. It invoked terror, pain, vulnerability that was used against me in all sorts of ways that I absolutely was unable to comprehend with my pre-verbal, child mind/heart/soul/body. But it was used against me!! To need (healthy needs that we all have) was a weapon to be used by my “mother”. My “father”…so immersed in his alcoholism, rage, NPD and who knows whatever else…didn’t even make the effort to use it as a weapon…he had other weapons that didn’t involve much thought (violence, abuse,berating etc etc)…that were much easier for him. And yes…my child mind/heart/soul finds it impossibly difficult to believe that “they used me” for whatever sick reasons (to abuse, SG, etc) and I meant NOTHING to them other than that. But my adult mind/heart/soul can see the truth and wisdom in it. And it’s up my adult self to acknowledge truth, re-parent my inner child and seek a different path. And to reclaim my vulnerability as the gift it is. People who truly love us will appreciate and respond to our vulnerability…NOT use it as a weapon to hurt and abuse us…to hold a sick power and control dynamic over us!!!
As a child…of course!!!…we need to hope, to believe…to NOT see that the people in charge of our care…are evil maniacs. It’s a difficult truth to bear…but now…as an adult…I CAN. Thanks for all the insights and growth I am experiencing from reading through these comments:) xxx


It’s inside of us and we can try to deny it all we want to but it is only going to hurt us, not them.

What Kris said….. My mom once said to me, “You are only hurting yourself to be this way.”

I guess I just don’t “get” this. What, I’m “hurting” myself because she won’t love me? I have discovered my mom loves using cliches, but not because she believes them, only because she hears other people say them.

Now I know that it wasn’t because I did anything wrong it is due to her inability to love me in a healthy way that got in the way of our relationship

I’m trying to learn this…. haven’t internalized it yet.

Oh, and along with the “But she’s your mom” thing…. Well, when people say, “you’re the only family I have left…” Well, I don’t understand this. What does this mean?

Being able to admit that I wanted my mother’s love is the same thing as being vulnerable.

This was hard for me to admit. I dated “jerks” because I wanted my mom’s love and never got it. So I took it from who ever would give it to me.


DXS- My mother would say “You are only hurting yourself to be this way” too. Our mother’s told us that as a way to protect themselves because underneath it all they knew that what they were doing to us was dead wrong and they chose to blame us for all of THEIR shortcomings and in the end we got hurt in the process but so did they. They are paying the price for choosing to remain in denial instead of facing the truth because any time you live your life in a lie you are not living at all. You are surviving and just because they refuse to admit it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

What I was referring to in my post was the denial aspect of this. For me to tell myself that I never wanted my mother’s love because she abused me is an out and out lie. I wanted it. It is human nature for a child to want their mother’s love and I don’t care how old that you are. To deny it is to live in a lie and living a lie only hurts you and not the other person.

You wrote: Oh, and along with the “But she’s your mom” thing…. Well, when people say, “you’re the only family I have left…” Well, I don’t understand this. What does this mean?

What this means is put up and shut up no matter how poorly that they treat you which is a bunch of S-H-I-T!!! My mother said that to me all the time too right along with “you only get one family” as if that makes being abused okay.

I also thought about how we are all at different stages of our recovery. I am learning new things all the time. My denial runnith deep!!! My mother’s brainwashing runnith deep too!!! It takes time to peel back all the protective layers that denial provides for us to finally be able to see the truth and not just knowing that truth intellectually but deep down in our hearts where it sticks.

I dated a bunch of jerks too. We were taught that we were worth less then everyone else so we settled for these jerks. They resembled the kind of love that we were used to getting from our abusive parents so it was hard for us to know that it was wrong.



Kris re comment 263 thank you for sharing this. yes it was my love for my mother that i was fighting the anger hid that emotion of love that i can now allow myself to feel without feeling any longer that i am putting myself in danger of hurt. and that is a freeing feeling because it is there i cannot say i don’t love her i mean i hate her etc i grieve her not having a mother that will come and go always no doubt but to allow myself to feel that feeling of love is liberating its sad as well but liberating i can’t fight what it is. the emotion of anger the intensity of it defused on acceptance of the actual love i have for her and the tears came before that the want to cry but i couldnt’ cry such a weird feeling,.you helped clarify this for me the way it has helped me release a lot of the emotion that i was fighting against feeling. HOWEVER because she has chosen to be in denial and not acknowledge the damage she caused me i love myself enough to not only protect myself more than that its about honoring the importance of me as a human of value the fact that i am worth being acknowledged in terms of what she did. If she cannot value me enough to be honest and sorry then it is a shame but she will not ever see me again. that she holds all remainder family as her bribe thinking that will make me break and lie to save her face so that I get to have them again in my life she is wrong because i must and do put my own self value as paramount – now.


On love… it’s interesting the conversation moving from talking about the child’s need to be loved to the child’s feelings of love for the abuser. These are distinct. I don’t believe that our desire to be loved by them springs from the fact that we love them and therefore want them to love us. I think healthy love begins like this: we are born with a biological need to be loved (our physical, mental, emotional, and future social wellbeing require it); parents, awash with feelings and chemicals of love, want to love their children, want to treat their children with love; in turn, children experience being loved and the experience of love creates feelings of love toward their parents, which they express or learn to express. This is a kind of closed loop of love. The beginning is simple—the screaming baby just born has a need to be held, the mom in love with her new baby wants to hold him/her, baby experiences the warmth of being held, feels mother’s love, in return feels feelings of warmth/love for mother holding him/her.

So what are we talking about when we’re talking about love? Are we talking about those times in life when we did experience unambiguous, complete cycles of healthy love like the above example? Or are we talking about empathy, sympathy or pity? Like crawling into their shoes, feeling their pain, their life, through their perception and having sympathy for them, caring for them, wanting to show them love (usually also with the hope that they will return the favour). I’ve read in a few books that it’s very common for abuse victims to confuse love and pity. Or are we talking about a kind of appreciation? My parents have good qualities that I can appreciate, that no doubt if I experienced a healthy version of love, I would extol as being what I love about them, love and appreciation going hand in hand. (I think we’re talking about all three—healthy experiences of love, pity, and appreciation—but I also think it’s probably important to differentiate them.)

I do know from my own experience that I have confused the actual craving for love with love itself, or the feelings of potentiality with reality. In order to love people who hurt us, we have to do all these mental contortions. At best, you still have to hold things in separate pieces, the good over here, the bad over there. Perhaps in theory this is okay but in reality I don’t think this fracturing of a person in order to be able to love them is a good thing to do. Maybe I’d rather not love them at all than carry around the dichotomy of love and hate inside me. Love is also something you do; it’s something you exercise and involve yourself in. I think you can in some way choose not to love someone. You can say it’s not in your best interest to love them, not just in action but also in feeling. I’m not knocking people who want to be able to love their parents. I understand that too. I think it’s important to let yourself feel whatever you feel. You shouldn’t force yourself not to feel something, or think that it’s bad that you do love them or hate them or conversely feel nothing at all. I just feel that for myself loving my parents does me more harm than good, whether that is in real life or just in my emotional experience. I don’t mean to say that I want to yell at myself “stop loving them” and whack my feelings with a stick. It’s more like saying that it’s okay, I don’t have to love them, I can let go of this, it isn’t good for me anyway. I can also take with me what I appreciated about them and integrate it in my life, morphed as my own, that’s okay too. That’s honouring and appreciating the good in them, saying that I want these qualities in my life… but not all that other junk. This isn’t the same as fracturing the person because you’re not actually carrying the person around in your head; it isn’t about the bad and good memories, etc. What I mean is I can cultivate whatever trait or experience I appreciated in or with my parents and can make it my own. I don’t have to hold on so much to the people. Again not forcing myself but just trying to release. I don’t want to be engaged in hating or loving my parents because they always get tangled up in each other. There’s a cycle of anger, hate, caving into pity, sympathy, empathy, love, sadness, grief, loneliness, craving, emptiness, failure, desperation, despair, more craving, more sense of failure, self-hatred, frustration, anger, hate, claustrophobia, etc. This is what it is to be engaged with my parents in my mind, not necessarily in that order and not including all the intellectual arguments of going over and over trying to prove to myself or to them that I’m right about my own experience and the futile thinking of “can’t they see, won’t they just look, why can’t they see?” Etc. It eats my life. Love is supposed to be this life-expanding experience, but what I’m talking about when I’m talking about love in the context of my family is a vacuum, a black hole. Whatever good feeling caves into the bad, always. I have to build up the good feeling again for myself just to have it cave in when I extend it over to them (again not even in contact with them in reality, just in my mind). To me this isn’t love; it’s sickness. I don’t want to be sick anymore. I don’t want to love my family anymore. It’s asking too much. I don’t want to hate them either. I want to be free to feel nothing at all and to be completely okay with that… to make room in my mind and in my heart for other things, other experiences, other interests, and other people… Gosh, I write a lot. Thanks for anyone, everyone, reading my posts.


Hmm… perhaps we are born with both the need to be loved as well as to love, and perhaps love for parents (particularly for the mother because we’re in her body) is ingrained from the moment we’re conceived. I’ll buy that. But that love is not based on any experience of the actual person, so it is kind of weird. It’s more based on a promise.


Alaina very good question you ask and im not sure what the feeling of love actually is that i feel. I guess i miss something – the good qualities well no cause now i see them they were false and are outweighed fully by her betrayal of what she has done the lies taking family etc… so no there is no good qualities im missing. and respect is important part of loving someone and i dont now respect her at all,
So i think what im missing stems from the emotional incest i now realsie she abused us all with in that we were there for her needs to fill her gaps of no love as a child, her need to be protected if anyone was ‘rude’ to her ie anyone she felt threatened by like by brothers girlfriend who might take her baby boy from her so she need only give out the word that so and so was horrible to her and we would be horrible to that person drive them away. i had nightmares as a child someone was hurting my mum my role all our roles were to protect mum and make mum proud so that her religious teacher network saw what intelligent perfect children she had raised what a perfect mother she was yes A+s at school and nothing could get me more of the thing we i knew then as love. so i did miss making my mum proud of me that glow feeling i felt when i told her my good results but i have built up my own self value now i enjoy my good results now for myself so what am i missing. I think because i was brought up to serve her needs that it is inbuilt in me to be her caregiver on an emotional level, yet that transcends into that i am a caregive in profession now as well i tune into needs that is how i was made… so i was looking forward for instance to caring for my parents in their old age to showing them such love and making sure they were ok yet now that seems to me that infact that is like a mouse being given a crumb for running round the cage sort of thing so why am i missing her crumbs ,,,,????? so i guess when i said in previous post before last that i can now allow myself to accept my feelings of love for my mother that what is a better word is to accept my feelings of grief at realsiation that i do not have a mother to give my love to the mother i had planned to give love to to her death and beyond even after she dies i am grieving that i cannot think thoughts of happy love memories of her all that its grief more than love. However there is a care element there that is special strength to her over a stranger, is that still just from her mouse training of me or because there maybe a phsycial chemical bond between family well i don’t know why but there is an element of what is love i guess its care and its pity but mainly its grief more than love. umm… really good question though thats the best i can work out for now


anyway whatever it is grief love pity care its something that the anger was masking and its feels better than the anger and its not consuming me like the anger was, its a lot to do with acceptance now , i think while i was still trying for her to lvoe me that i kept getting angry when she didn’t change or hear me. now that i have given up and accepted things more i hope i have anyway well the anger is less and i can feel the love i have inside me that i had wanted to give to her


Maria, that’s interesting—I think I know what you mean about the love you wanted to give her. I’ve experienced that as well. I wonder if that is just a purely biological set-up, but nonetheless is real and we need to go through a grieving process of realizing we can’t give that love to the person (because anytime we’ve tried, it’s resulted in a horrible outcome). Interestingly, too, one of the things that frustrate me is my parents telling me they love me, and my sense of their grief, and what exactly is that? Part of it I could say is maybe they love who I used to be for them, except they know that was false. They certainly don’t love/like who I am now. What do people mean when they say “I love you but I don’t like you?” (my parents have never said that but it’s clear). The grief over their fantasy version of having a daughter. Like you, I have the emotional incest background. But perhaps it’s the same—the love they want to be able to give to me (except they need and want me to also fit into something else), like the love you feel for a newborn (except instead of having an open, clean, empty container to fill up with whoever this person is, it’s full of expectations and roles to fit). But their love isn’t actually applicable to me; it’s for someone else. The same way my love isn’t applicable to them.

Like you, I don’t have any emotional connection to them or any lasting memories of what would be experienced as love for me; if there were any, like you said, it’s been corrupted by the betrayals.The good qualities are like personality traits but they too are corrupted by inconsistencies and hypocrisies and in the face of betrayal, they mean little. In some ways, it’s just about not carrying a blanket hate toward everything about them, so that I don’t hate things in myself that are inherited qualities that don’t have to be negative or phoney false fronts in my own life/self, even if they were in the past. I can cultivate them as real and true aspects of myself if I want to.



You have an INCREDIBLE way with words. I am amazed at what you bring to light. Thank you for your contributions.

I am beginning to wonder if any of us know what we mean when we talk about love. I like to believe that it’s an action more than a feeling and I struggle with how to love people in action when they’re so toxic that I can’t interact with them.

When we “fall in love” I suspect what we feel is an intense longing to be loved in return. The example of a newborn baby and mother giving and responding to love makes sense, but I wonder if things can get broken even in those initial moments. I have the hardest time imagining that my mother actually wanted me in those first moments.

I have a lot to think about.



Thanks, Hobie!
I agree with you about falling in love. I also agree about love being about action or that that is of the utmost importance.

My mom wanted kids. She always believed she was born to be a mother—that’s what she said—and wanted children from a young age. In particular she wanted a baby girl. But she was also depressed/suicidal when she was pregnant with me. Sometimes I think this encompasses everything of my relationship with her. It speaks to emotional incest, the vacuum aspect of her love, the imposed fantasy of a baby bringing happiness through her ideas of being a mother to the baby in contrast to the reality of her depression, and the fact that a child can never live up to a fantasy, etc. (Though a real person ought to be preferable to a fantasy; a real person is more complex, more interesting, etc. But a real person doesn’t exist to fulfil your needs/desires.)


Hi Alaina!
Thank you for writing this “Our blessing is worth more because we make sense and we care and we know better (the other side has no real argument except “But they’re your parents”). Lots of people believe awful things. I know it’s hard if it feels like the majority but that doesn’t mean they’re right”.

It does so often feel like the majority. That argument “But they’re your parents” is a bomb of a thing. I think Darlene used to say “So what?” And I haven’t yet been able to say “So what,” because I’ll just look like a selfish, un feeling, ungrateful, unreasonable, immature whatever. Instead I’ve launched into justifications, as many as I think might convince that person that I am right to have left. I want the day to come when that “argument” no longer gets airtime.

I’m thinking why does “But they’re your parents” hold so much weight within it for anybody? Perhaps your further posts on love hold something of a key?

I have moments of knowing I “loved” one family member in particular. It’s a pleasant warm feeling. Safe, cared for. So that’s all about MY feeling obviously. And when it comes to my mother it’s a huge mixed bag of feeling small, left alone, afraid, anxious and at other times sad. And then hatred for her. So I don’t know what all that is but it’s not the same as the other feelings. But it’s still all about me and all about feeling. So I can only guess that my parents had feelings of their own that they called “love”.
When my mother insisted “But we’ve always loved you Alice” it was this angry bitter thing filled with injuction. Not a compassionate or warm expression .
So anyway, I realise I’ve so often experienced “romantic” “love” as this small, lost feeling whereas in my friendships the warm feelings tend to happen more often. Not surprising I prefer friendships then. But I don’t think a set of fleeting and conditioned emotions ought to be labelled “love” either. I can’t say at this point that I do know what it is.


On love I wanted to give my mother. We would “scheme” with my father to get her breakfast in bed, flowers. Gifts picked out. I wanted to see her happy. To please her and for her to be proud of me. It’s all very three-four year old stuff. After that it was just about fighting control. Arguments, contempt. But the trying to please was still there too. I remember asking her outright “What do you want from me?” And she said “Nothing Alice”. That was so hard because it was clear to me she wanted all kinds of things that I was supposed to want to give her. I started to give up when she said “Nothing”. I felt it was dishonest and unfair because if she would just tell me then I would be able to do something, or at least decide if I could and if I wanted to.


I don’t know if my mother actually wanted kids ever, but I’m sure that she didn’t want kids yet when I arrived. I was frequently lectured about how my arrival burdened my parents financially, sometimes in the context of helping me avoid the same mistake.

I think I’ve been accused of wanting too much attention throughout my life while it feels like wanting ANY attention at all is way to much in my mom’s eyes. I still struggle with feeling guilty when I get attention. Somewhere deep inside I am afraid of what may happen if I overdraw my ration.

I struggle with my religious background when it comes to love. As a Christian I’ve heard it emphasized that we are supposed to love our enemies. I have been trying to understand what love means in this context because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t meant to feel warmly toward them. I’m also wondering what the word enemy means. I sometimes think that it may refer to people of a neighboring region where the heads of state are at odds, rather than people who have actually done harm to me personally. I’ve got a lot of work to do with this!

I believe that I’m coming to terms with the reality that my mother’s love – if she feels anything – is not reaching me in a nurturing or encouraging way and it probably never will. As I let that reality sink in, I feel the diminishing longing for something that has been a fantasy. When I look at it that way – it seems healthy! But I thought that meant that I wasn’t loving her anymore and that felt wrong.

Your post helped me recognize that I confuse a lot of feelings with love. You’ve given me a new tool to work with!




I recognize that exchange: “What do you want from me?” and the response “nothing!” It’s a lie.

My ex-husband was at least honest when he answered that question. He said, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” WHAT? He believed that if I loved him, I would just KNOW what he wanted. If he had to tell me, it wasn’t sincere. I was left to guess and get it wrong over and over and over until I realized that he didn’t even know what he wanted from me unless it was to fail. That’s why he’s my ex!

On the other hand, he didn’t even care what I wanted. If I loved him, I would want what he gave me! There was not even balance let alone equality.

This is all making a little more sense for me now. For me that means that I can see what’s wrong clearly enough to deal with it mentally and emotionally. I’m another step closer to thriving!

Thank you all for your contributions!



“I don’t know if my mother actually wanted kids ever…”

I assume that my mother wanted children, but only for her own self-centered purposes. She said that she doesn’t regret having children in spite of the financial stresses she had (and still has) to endure.

In that context, I can say that at least she got the children she wanted in the two older ones: offspring who worships her like a queen and never question her. I’m the one she likes to make feel guilty for existing.

That’s what it seems like to me in the “culture of parenthood”: bring new life in the world, guilt-trip them for breathing, and expect them to obey you forever. I know all parents aren’t like this, and I apologize if I offended any parents here, but that’s how it appears to me with most parents. This is part of the reason why I’m foregoing motherhood. I don’t want to be part of the sick loop and I want to heal my wounds on my own rather than pass them on to my offspring.


My mom SAID she wanted children, but she’s so covert, I think she doesn’t realize she wanted them for some personal need she had. My siblings had issues with her long before I did (I wanted to be the “good” kid…). Years later, I realized my being the “good” kid came at a price. The price was being my true, authentic self. Mom still doesn’t know what her true self is, only the false self she puts out.

I never wanted children, but that influence came from an aunt and uncle on my dad’s side, they never had children. I noticed they looked younger, their house was cleaner (Ok, I don’t live up to the clean house thing…), they never looked stressed. When I saw how they lived, I decided then and there to not have kids. Don’t regret it, either. There is a very active forum for childfree, but my experience with them is that the forum leaders are quite hostile to “singles who don’t want to marry.”


Truth is that I probably wanted children for my own selfish reasons too, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I wanted my children to love me, but I didn’t expect that I’d get it by coercing them into it. As things turned out, I have no relationship with 2 of my 3 children and the third visits me on Christmas, Mother’s Day & my birthday.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t make the same mistakes my mother did, but I must have made other mistakes. I wanted them to know they were loved and I wanted them to grow into the people they were meant to be. I’ve tried to own up to my mistakes, but I am really not sure what made them so angry with me. In the thick of raising my last child, I had a lot of criticism, but very little advice. The advice I got was different from each person I asked!

S1988 & DXS, you both have every right to make your own choices about whether or not to have children. I know there are others who have also decided not to have children here. I feel now that my choice to have children may have not been a good one.

However, my own desire for children was so strong, it’s hard for me to identify with your desire not to have children. I’m sure people can be hurtful when you talk about that. I feel awkward trying to be supportive because I know I’m really likely to put my foot in my mouth. How can I avoid the foot in my mouth without being silent?


My mother said she wanted children with all of her heart, and I believe her. I just don’t think she realized what she was in for, all the responsibility etc. I also think my mom wanted children to fill the hole that was in her from her own childhood. My mother is filled with the same pain that I was filled with before. But children cannot fill those kinds of holes. Children are the empty vessels that need filling. Children need to be empowered and loved so that they can go forward to empower and love. I wanted my mother to find the healing that I found and in our last phone conversation I told her so. I think she listened for a few minutes but she didn’t accept my offer. But that doesn’t mean that I had to stay in the black hole with her.

As for me I vowed that I would never have children in this horrid hateful world… but I think deep down I was really scared that I would be like my mother. I have 3 children and I had the first one when I was 30 years old. I think that part of what drove me to be different as a mother was the pain of having the type of treatment that I had from my mother. But my mother had a choice too. My mother knew that certain behaviours had to be hidden and she knew that many of the things she did and didn’t do were wrong. Deciding that I had a choice and that I could decide BOTH how I would parent and how I would proceed with my mother was liberating! The way that I parented was the first think I ever did where I thought for myself. And standing up to the abusive family system was where I learned how to think for myself in every other area.

Great conversation everyone! hugs, Darlene


When I was in my late 20’s at supper with her and some friends of my father’s she casually said to them (as if I wasn’t there) that had she the opportunity to do things again she would not have had kids.

I asked her why, in that case, she had done it and she told me that it was ‘Just what you did’. In other words, it was about conformity. I can’t say how angry that makes me, to consider that I was brought in to afford her “normality”.

Alaina, you said “full of expectations and roles to fit). But their love isn’t actually applicable to me; it’s for someone else. The same way my love isn’t applicable to them.” And I think that’s as close as it gets to naming the root of the problem.

And it’s the same problem in all kinds of relationships when we expect or hope that the other person will in some way be able to do things for us. I know that for a long time I’ve sought a serious romantic relationship as a way of ‘finally’ proving to my shit family (and anyone else that shares their attitude towards me) that I am indeed a loveable person. I think that’s just more of the same. I’m not proud of it and I’m not sure I’m rid of it either.


I feel awkward trying to be supportive because I know I’m really likely to put my foot in my mouth. How can I avoid the foot in my mouth without being silent?

You did a great job here! You were very non-judgemental. That’s all it is. Either you want children, or you don’t. There is no “should” about it.

Just as you can’t identify with why I didn’t want children, I cannot identify with why anyone would. For me, it’s the “being pregnant” part I don’t want. I can’t identify with why someone WOULD want to go through that, not to mention all the stuff afterward. But I think childless people can serve a good role in society. I have always felt that I can fight battles that people with children don’t have time to fight. But I digress……

But back to topic……. Like I said earlier, I had a way of “poking” mom to force her to see stuff she didn’t want to see. Well, one time, from “poking,” I got her to admit that if she had known having children was going to be like this, she would never have had them.


“Another reason is my mother taught me to be totally reliant upon her. She didn’t want me to know how to stand up on my own two feet due to her own rejection and abandonment issues getting in the way. To her that meant that I was going to leave her too. ” Kris #311

Wow! you just provided an insight about something that has always puzzled me.
When I was born, my mother said her first thought seeing me was “I’ll never be alone”.
In trying to understand our relationship, this has always puzzled me. I would think a mother would think, oh she’s beautiful, or wow its a girl or something like that.

She never showed me love or affection. She was so neutral (like I was a stranger) unless I disobeyed in any way. I was her little servant for as long as I can remember along with being kept stupid and deliberately in the dark about anything that would be empowering or would make me an independent, productive adult. I continually had to prove I was not “her problem” by doing whatever she asked, but the label persisted til I thoroughly believed it about myself.
But it sure fits in with the abandonment issue.
I just couldn’t figure out why she wanted me around if she didn’t want me and didn’t like me.
It so like her though to turn something she considered a bad deal into an opportunity. She’s very calculating like that with everyone.

Alaina.. about all your have such amazing insight.
I wish we could all go out for coffee..I enjoy the interaction on this site so much!


Hi Darlene #332- I was reading one of your posts and you wrote: “The fantasy that my mother couldn’t help it, and that she didn’t ‘mean any harm’ and that she didn’t know any better, is what kept me so depressed and struggling with my life.” is really resonating with me right now. I am struggling with how does the concept of generational abuse fit into all of this?? I would appreciate your input on this because this has been a thorn in my side forever and I want it out!!! You say how abuse is a choice but I don’t understand this aspect of it when it comes to generational abuse. How is one to know that what they are doing is wrong when no one out there is telling them anything different because you are surrounded by an army of sick family members enthralled with the devastating affects of what generational abuse provides?? I don’t see how a mother wouldn’t pass down this junk to their children. Is it their fault or not or do you chalk it up to the nature of the beast of generational abuse??

To me it is one thing to know that what you are doing is wrong and do it anyway but it is a whole other thing to repeat something that you were taught that is abusive out of your own ignorance due to the damaging affects of being abused when you were a child that plays into your adulthood out of no fault of your own.

I’m not trying to make excuses for my mother and I am perfectly fine with putting the blame right where it belongs and believe me I am not looking to let my mother off the hook because I am sitting here with DID due to her abuse but it makes a difference to me where I put her in my “mind” as far as is she this mean nasty bitch who knew what all she was doing or was she a victim of generational abuse that didn’t allow her the ability to see clearly when it came to certain aspects of my abuse. Or maybe it just comes down to being both. Or maybe I am still caught up in that fantasy world that you wrote about because that is exactly how I feel. STUCK. Any input would be greatly appreciated.


DXS Thanks!

You’re right – there is no “should” about it except maybe that you should follow through with your own decision in spite of someone else’s shoulds.

It’s funny – I loved being pregnant. Delivery was scary, but I had cesareans so I was well medicated. Taking care of my kids was harder than I imagined, but I didn’t resent them for it. I struggled with a very selfish 1st husband and that was a lot of what made it so hard. At this point, I sometimes wish I didn’t have kids because right now they aren’t a part of my life and it hurts.

To follow your digression – yes! I think we need childless people to do things that require attention that parents can’t give to anything else in the midst of parenting! We all need to be different people that we are. If we were all alike very little would actually be accomplished!


Alaina #318- I really enjoyed your post. Want to let it soak in for a while. The confusing love with pity aspect it is one of the 14 traits of an adult child of an alcoholic from the “The Laundry List” #9 We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue”. I am glad you mentioned this because that laundry list is a real eye opener. It encompasses so many of the things that we deal with here.

Karen R- When you said you were like a stranger to your mother I could relate. Everything was so mechanical between my mother and I. There was no intimacy what-so-ever. When I think about how my mother never once told me that she loved me when I was growing up it is almost incomprehensible to me now. Talk about sick. I still relive those feelings of utter aloneness and fear stemming from her emotional neglect through having complex PTSD. So much damage was done to us by our mother’s emotional abuse. I am sorry you had to live through it too.


Kris, I’m also very interested in this question. If my mother knew that what she was doing was wrong but continued to do it anyway because it got her what she wanted I guess that must have been enough for her. My confronting her about it didn’t make a difference. And other (older) people in the family either didn’t intervene or felt that she was justified in her actions because of their own views about children and their place in the family.


I would say one indicator of if an action is intentional or not is if someone says something along the lines of “Don’t tell anyone or else.” or “I want to keep people out of our business”. My mother said (and still says) that.

I wonder if an action is so good, why keep it a secret?


The thing that has been on my mind recently is that I can’t remember a time when I was injured, sick, or was hurt by someone’s words or behavior that anyone in my family responded to me with compassion. Every instance that I can remember was met with anger, hostility, and contempt.

I can’t understand why I didn’t realize it a long time ago, except that it didn’t occur to me that it was the way that they were always going to react. I thought I was expressing myself in some wrong way so that they didn’t understand.

That’s not what nice people do, is it? It’s a total lack of empathy, I think…at least for me. Why?

The fact that I have been so confused is a lot less surprising as this comes into focus.



Alice, I think I just figured out the answer to my question post 336. It probably means something different to you but for me I know this is what it was all about. My mother brainwashed me into believing the lie that I was this mean nasty little girl who deserved to be punished so that way I would keep on blaming myself whenever my father abused me as a way to keep my mouth shut in order to protect the family secret. It worked because as long as I was blaming myself for his abuse their secret was safe. The reason I wanted to know if my parent’s abuse was intentional or not was so I could tell myself I no longer was this mean nasty little girl if I heard that they really didn’t do it on purpose. That way I was left off the hook. If I hear that they chose and I didn’t want to be that anymore. Either way I still remained in denial about how my parents were the one’s who really abused me.

Either way I left them both off the hook. That way I would never have to admit to myself that they were the one’s abusing me. I would continue to blame myself for their poor behavior by telling myself everything was my fault because I was such a mean nasty little girl who deserved to be punished and that way I never had to face the pain associated with knowing the truth that BOTH of my parents INTENTIONALLY abused me. My father physically and sexually abused me and my mother brainwashed me to cover it up.

So now I know the truth and it makes me absolutely sick. Darlene’s post was spot on. They both knew that what they were doing was wrong. Why else would there be a need to cover it up just like so many of you have posted before. I just didn’t want to see it that way and that is where that fantasy world came in. This is how God breaks down all the lies that I still believe to be the truth about myself. One at a time. I hold on to the belief that the truth will set me free to get me through all of this garbage. I am so pissed off right now the pain hasn’t even begun to sink in yet…but I know it will!!!



Hi Alice and DXS,

Once again I am catching up with reading all of the back comments. I was an only child and the scapegoat. I think that my parents wanted a boy and not me, a girl. I was even told this by other family members. A big part of the abuse was that I am considered to be much more attractive than my mother and of course this caused more Narc rage. A boy would not have been as much direct competition with my Narc mom. My parents viewed me more as a servant than as a daughter in their big, luxury house.

I am worried about my parent’s near future deaths. My parents are in their 80’s now (dad is 87 and mom is 82). It’s hard and I have been losing sleep and having stomach issues. There is NO LOVE that I feel for either one of my parents. I have no guilt over having NO LOVE for either one of my parents. I have been a slave/prisoner for 46 years and I’m not free. I love the name of the member here, “Finally Free”, and that’s my dream. I think it’s a dream like that famous song “To dream the impossible dream”. I have come to the realization that I will be finally free after both of these abuser’s deaths. It’s like I am so trapped right now. I can remember having some feelings for my father as a very young child. I believe that there was a point where I lost these feelings but I don’t really know when. At work, I have a good coworker friend and I call her my BFF friend now. With her, I can’t really let on too much about my FOO and she tries to brush me off. I am so tired of always acting with others where I can’t speak the truth about my past.

I was shamed by therapists and others who said that I don’t appreciate anything and that I was a spoiled brat since I lived in a big, luxury house. No one believed my abuse since I was not living in an apartment in a not so good part of town with a single parent mom. I have argued back with therapists that “I equate love with materialism”. No, I do not and I was never respected.

My parent’s house is still listed for sale and I’m getting scared. They want to move nearby and live in my same town. I am never “finally free”. It’s a horrible feeling like being a hunted animal and stalked. I fear having to “help” them or be some kind of a caretaker for them. My excuse is being a single woman and I have to work. The problem now is that I have less hours at work and my Narc mom knows it. They could easily take advantage of me since I live alone and can keep harrassing me. I am seriously thinking about getting a female roommate so as to have more protection from my mom at my age! (I have a 3 bedroom house). I am afraid of being embarrassed and this future roommate could leave and gossip about me! This abuse never ends. I am hurt and angry. I am like DXS where I have no love or any emotion for these people. I am NOT a sociopath but there are days when I wish that these very elderly people could just die. How come they are so selfish and greedy that they just cannot die? Many of my friends’ parents have passed away except for mine and they were a lot younger than my own parents. My grandparents (father’s parents died in their 70’s) died when they were ten years younger than my father now. My father has been whining about death since the day he retired (quite young at age 60). My father only watches a TV set with no real friends or social activities. It’s not like anyone could possibly miss him. Every time neighbors and handymen would come over to my parent’s house, my father would essentially “play the violin” saying how the end was near for him. I would think to myself just how selfish is this man since many people do not live as long as him. My grandparents were never this abnormal and I don’t know how they could have raised a son like him. Maybe it was all brainwashing by his crazy wife or he was just more off than I realized! My normal friends’ parents were good and it was a big loss for them. When that day comes that my Narc mom has died I will have emotion. But I will be sobbing and crying for sheer joy and praising the Goddess that I’m free and this monster has exited the planet. There is no great loss to me. What is sad is the fact that this Narc—-(witch with a B)—is that she has fooled so many people. She actually has a small entourage of admirers of neighbors and her extended family who believe that Narc mom is a nice person. Many people confuse someone is extroverted and a good talker with being a nice and good person and it’s not always so. It frightens me to think that I must send cards to these people and pretend that she was a nice person! When can I be myself and have any respect for me? I want to tell these people to F—off but they would never believe me. So, the Narc mom always “wins” and I always “lose” and it’s never fair! I don’t want to do any final arrangements for these parents—whatever that means.

Footnote: I found more support from the youtube channels with a few good speakers talking about their Narc parents and related child abuse issues. I dont’ know why I never found them before. (I know that Darlene has a few videos on youtube also).

My favorite newly discovered youtube channels: Ollie Mathews, Narcissism Survivor, and Angela Watts.

I really like Ollie Mathews and he has a great smile and humor combined with a Jersey accent! Very funny! He should seriously go into show business as a comedian—better than Jerry Seinfeld! LOL! His family was worse than “The Sopranos”! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry watching his videos. But at least by watching his videos, I can begin to laugh regarding his family abuse stories with some similarities to mine. 🙂

Blessed Be!



Hi Alice,
On the subject of did they know… So, how come when you told your mom your experience and how damaging it was to you, she didn’t breakdown and cry, saying “oh my god, Alice, I’m so sorry, I had no idea”?

I think of that story of her locking you out in the rain when you were a toddler… and her saying that it was the “done thing,” which first off is ridiculous—if it was the done thing, wouldn’t it be in everyone’s history? But even if it was the done thing and she didn’t know the harm it caused, again why wasn’t her reaction, “Oh my god, Alice, I’m so sorry, I had no idea” and then if it was the done thing, why wasn’t she going around telling everyone how this “done thing” was so damaging and everyone who did it to their children should immediately understand what they did and Oh my god, the whole world is going to say, We’re so sorry, we had no idea, please forgive us… But no, they don’t. Why not? In my opinion because they knew and they didn’t care. They justified. Life wasn’t what they wanted. Whether we were wanted or not to begin with, the reality of us and what it entailed to have us in their lives to raise turned out to be another burden in their life. Why lock you out in the rain? Maybe because you were bugging her and she wanted some peace and it would “teach you a lesson” (the lesson being she’ll lock you out if you make her unhappy and that could be for anything, for just being a normal kid). Maybe because she had no interest in the potential damage she was causing you, and everything about “that’s your choice, Alice” is just her way to weasel out of things, that she doesn’t really care, you deal with it. Maybe it’s as simple as they do it because they can. If they have a shit job, hate their boss who has all these expectations and needs from them, they can’t lock their boss out of the office in the rain, but they can lock their child out. I told one of my therapists about how my mom had said that she’d hated me when I was young (around 3-4) because I was willful and stubborn and if she said one thing, I had to say the opposite. My therapist said, “You mean you were a normal three year-old, doing exactly what you were supposed to be doing according to your stage of development?” It isn’t the child’s fault if parenting turned out to be more than the parent bargained for. They are still responsible. You asked a while back why anyone would use this kind of parenting that doesn’t seem to be effective for anything. Well, easy, it isn’t about the outcome in the child’s life. It isn’t about your needs or your development as a person; it’s about what they want, it’s about what’s easy in the moment, it’s about the fact that you’re bugging them and they want you to behave. It’s all about conforming to the parent, not because it’s good for you but because it’s good for them. In the long run of course this shit parenting creates problems but in the short term, it’s the easiest, just flex your power… and then later on, in the same way, continue to do the easiest thing by brushing it off, say “I’m sorry but….” I didn’t know, it was the done thing, etc. I honestly think if “I didn’t know” had real credence it would come with strong empathy and emotion and care for you in what she didn’t know she was doing. But it didn’t because everything was still about what you were doing to her and how much of a hassle you still were to her. Kind of like, “Can’t we just get along, can’t you just get over this, can’t you just shut up and be pleasant for a change…” Maybe she was just selfish and didn’t care. (And the emotion it does bring up is usually about them… you’re hurting them for being mad at them)


Alaina, you’ve done it again!

The first thing I noticed is your mention of your therapist tell you that when your mother said that she hated you because you were willful and stubborn that you were doing exactly what you were supposed to do at the age of 3-4. My therapist said the same thing to me about being a normal child. The context for me was that my mother blamed me that she was unable to breastfeed my brother. He was born in February and she said that I went out to play in the snow and she had to stand at the door in the cold and call me to come back in. The weird thing about that is that I was 22 months old at the time and the snow that year was a record setting blizzard. My therapist suggested that at 2 I might have put my coat on and walked out the door while my mom was busy with the new baby. I just keep wondering if that was possible at 22 months. If not, why had she put me out in the snow by myself, and why was she unwilling to put her own damn coat on and look for me instead of simply standing at the door and calling me?

I couldn’t even say “I’m sorry” and get an understandable reaction within the past 2 years. There was no “I’m so sorry, I had no idea…” to my explanation of having been molested at 5. The reaction was to keep me from talking about it. After she told my brother & sister and they refuse to talk to me, she told me not to come on vacation with them, a trip that was planned for a full year ahead.

I’m the trouble maker for telling the truth and ruining their good time. I realized in the last few days or weeks that asking for help usually resulted in some kind of punishment for me. I am the one who is mean for bringing up what happened to me and making victims of them.

Almost a year No Contact now. It’s still hard to accept that my mother is really so cold.


Hi Alaina, as Hobie said, you’ve done it again. Thank you for your insight and straightforward words. I can’t say more than that right now but it has been really helpful to point these things out again.


Hi Hobie,
I don’t really understand how she could blame you for not being able to breastfeed your brother. But beyond that, a 22 month-old is responsible and to blame for nothing. It’s ridiculous. I’m sure we were all normal children. Every kid is going to bring challenges, maybe some more than others but it’s never the child’s fault, and the real problem may be the parent’s perspective. If you have the right perspective, I think there are always gifts inside challenges.

I’m really grateful to be able to share here, to read everyone’s thoughts. It helps a lot to be able to connect and to think about things. I feel much better than I did a week ago when I heard from my parents. It’s nice to be able to work things out and bounce back!

Hi Anon (#314) ,
Thanks for your comments. I was thinking about what you and Kris (#313) were saying about vulnerability. You’re completely right and I think being able to be vulnerable is the only way we really are able to heal. I mean it takes more than just vulnerability but it’s definitely at the core, and it is a really hard thing and can feel, if not be, dangerous. It’s nice to have this place to come to.


yes i get that too Hobie with the way the abuse to us the rest stand by we think they not see they not hear not understand we explain incredulous surly they care this happpen we treated this way yet nothing they ignore they put me down they pretend to not see. i see a picture i am on the floor bleeding they are at the table in sight of me they sip their tea they laugh they carry on ,,,,, i am bleeding from one of them ,,,,, they carry on sipping out of their posh tea cups stroking their own achievements of perfection ,,,, yet i did my work perfect too but still there is nothing i can do i am the designated scape goat, this picture i see it is based on actual fact of events its not just a picute


we are singled out as the scapegoat becasue firstly they are damaaged to do that but also because of our strength of character our insight i mean the insight here in this forum is clear we were a threat to their need of denial so they had to try to break us try to keep us quiet. So we are strong people they could not do that to us and we can make a huge difference with the awareness we have. maybe not to them but in our own lives forward from here.


Kris #338..Yes, no intimacy, love or bonding. I was always on my own. Always had to go it alone from the first day of school to having my sons. No one emotionally supported me in any important, (good or bad) situation. I did it alone, usually well with a minimum of fuss as fuss or complaints were not allowed.
And yet I was never complimented or praised or validated by anyone for this. There was not one single person growing up that I could turn to in adversity. In hindsight, our neighbors were a loving family and would have helped anyone in need.

Kris #342 I too had been convinced (by her) that I was wrong and bad, a problem that constantly caused problems by showing emotions or having needs. I was the kid no one liked because there was something wrong with me. She never contradicted this belief. So it got worse and worse. My father attempted sexual abuse when I was 13 but she stopped it I think out of jealousy not out of any concern for me. That would have been unimaginable and I am so sorry that happened to you.

Maria I also believe your statement about being a threat, a truth-teller or emotionally grounded person is indeed “the threat” in a family of abusers and liars. That person must be put down, convinced that they are bad, and the problem so they can be silenced and punished for daring to be different or telling.

Concerning the inheritance conversation, first (in high school) a room of my own, one of the houses (when grandparents died) and later inheritance money were promised as a way to keep me engaged in the family.

But in every situation my GC brother received everything (I was always told about it in detail) and I was the one left out. Or if my Dad tried to give me something, my mother stopped him or in some way minimized it. Then she told me why to rub it in that she controlled anything I would receive. She made sure I knew and it was always in a way that made me feel put down.
She called once to say how they bought my brother a big screen TV for Christmas, but that she sent me some earrings because she needed to get me “something”. It was done and said deliberately make me feel like an afterthought. And it did.

I finally saw the manipulation but it took years before I realized it was her choice. I guess I still blamed myself for not being good enough to deserve a gift. My resentment or words were used as proof of my ungratefulness.

On a related note my husband’s situation is identical in his family.

My biggest regret is that I reengaged in 2003 when my Dad died instead of just staying no contact as I had been for 9 years.
I opted out completely before I went NC 3 years ago and told her for tax reasons to take my name off everything which she joyfully did. Its just another sign that I was never anything to her but something to be used as needed. I would never believe that the things she did to me were not by choice or without forethought for her own purpose.


Alice when I was about six, my mother put me outside at night, it was dark, maybe 9:00 in January and told me to sleep in the garage. Its NH. I remember it clear as if it were yesterday. It was cold. I didn’t have a coat and I remember sitting in the garage thinking how will I sleep but not even being scared. I had to be responsible for myself you see. No crying or complaining. My Dad was at work at night. He would never have put up with that and she was afraid of him. What kind of a mother does that for punishment? When I think of all the things like that that she did to me over years and years it just shows how very brainwashed I was to keep trying to win her love and approval.


Hi Karen R, I’m sorry to hear about that being done to you. When I asked my mother why she had done it, she told me (you’ll be getting tired of this by now, like I am) “It was the done thing.” One other time I asked (because I did keep on asking despite the answers I got) she told me that it was what my father’s mother did to him when he was a boy and that it had been HER suggestion on this occasion. I already knew that my father had suffered though mistreatment as a child because my mother had told me so but my mother didn’t seem to think that this might have been part of it.

You know, by this point, relaying the things she said to me, it’s just getting more and more absurd. And absurd to the point where I question myself about it. I mean so absurd where only a crazy person could be making this shit up.

I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve tried to make sense of her actions. How I’ve tried to make it unconscious on her part. Unintentional. And at this point I’m just kind of stuck there thinking that if I imagine all that she did was intentionally to hurt me then…Well I can’t get to that. I have kind of tried to let myself go there if indeed it is the truth but I think it was all about herself.


Alice I now honestly think my mother is some level of psychopath. Not completely but the lack of emotion and human concern for people and pets is striking. Manipulation and deliberate harm to innocent and trusting people without conscience.
Planning deliberate harm either physical or financial to relatives and employers that she conned into trusting her. She will steal and justify the theft. Complete lack of empathy or emotion at the death of close family members , her mother,sisters,husband and suicide of her grandson. Excessive need to control, but done in a subtle deniable way. The only emotion I’ve ever seen is jealousy. No emotion of joy or happiness either.
And everything and everyone else is too blame.
I’m starting to see that I never had a mother at all so in many ways I’m pretty good for having survived 50 years of contact. I no longer need to justify my no contact choice to people. I guess you could say I’m good.


Hi Karen R, wow, that’s a very distinct portrait. I’m sorry:( Yes, you survived what sounds like a LOT of very difficult behavior on her part.

I guess I’m still often enough for it to bother me in that kind of a hole where I sometimes feel that I have to justify NC to certain other people (generally the ones who frown upon it) much in the same way I looked to others to validate that it was ‘really that bad’ and of course so many (including her) minimized it, told me to “just get over it” and that “But she’s your MOTHER” thing. I found this Australian woman on TED today. It was helpful


Alice thnx for sharing that you tube piece. Excellent!! If we as a society did exactly what Liz Mullinar said we could change the sick dynamic of how people rather be in denial then face the truth about how childhood abuse is killing our own society at our own hands all because we do not want to face the truth about where all of this drug addiction stems from right along with a plethora of other mental illnesses including depression, DID, Borderline, Bi-Polar. They all have their roots in childhood trauma and the very thing that can heal us all, having a bond with another human being who shows us the understanding, warmth, and compassion that we deserve, is the very thing that society is terrified to do which just perpetuates the sick abusive cycle. The mentality of our society still amazes me. Just why do they think a 12 year old who hasn’t even begun to live their life chooses to demolish themselves by doing drugs anyway??? Oh that’s right. There is something wrong with them at the ripe old age of 12!!! NUTS!!

The 2nd speech was excellent too. My mother was one of them who thought that if you weren’t happy then there was something wrong with YOU and because she passed that lie onto me I remained in denial for my whole life about just how much pain I was really in because my childhood was far from happy so I automatically thought there had to be something wrong with me. Sick sick and more sick.



I’m not a religious person, but given that forgiveness is a religious concept, I thought this was really good at explaining what it is and what it is not


Alice, I once listened to a religious broadcast while driving my car through an area where you can’t get any other radio station. I listened to a speech on forgiveness. They said you are NOT required to “forget.” You can forgive, yet draw a boundary around yourself for that person.

YAY! Good message.


Really enjoyed the broadcast on forgiveness. I remember how hard it was to grasp all the concepts behind the process of forgiveness in the beginning stages of my recovery. So many lies to overcome first before I could even begin to understand what this was all about. When you are taught that you are the problem and worth less then everyone else how does one even begin to know how to set up your own boundaries and hold somebody accountable for their poor behavior when all you were ever taught was to take on their poor behavior and make it your own. My mother taught me you don’t forgive nobody. Once they cross you they are done and you wipe them off the face of the earth as if they were never there to begin with. In other words stay in denial and don’t work through the pain that they have caused you!! No one was forgiving anyone in that household I can tell you that.

One of the hardest things for me to overcome was being able to separate in my mind that I can forgive someone but that doesn’t mean that I have to continue to have a relationship with them if they never own up to what they did wrong and try to make amends to me. Oh wonder this forgiveness process is so hard to do for someone who was abused.


When it comes to forgiveness, the hard thing for me is that the word means something totally different to my mother, and I think the rest of my family than what it now means to me.

As I grew up, I was taught that forgiveness meant that I had to let someone just keep doing whatever hurt me. Try to forget that they did anything before, and not expect them to do the same thing again, and when it happens again, try to forget again. The word forgiveness ties my stomach in knots because that’s what I think of, no matter who says it or what they mean by it. I always have to remind myself that not everyone thinks that is how forgiveness works.

But the reality is that my family holds to that definition of forgiveness, at least in what they expect that I owe them as forgiveness. My mother routinely reminded me of all the ways I offended her back to high school if not elementary school. If I mentioned something she did wrong, well – she hung up on me.

I’ve forgiven them in terms that I have come to understand. The forgiveness that they expect is not going to happen.


People who say “forgive and move on” don’t know the difference between pain and trauma (or abuse).For me,pain is when you lose a loved one,you breakup with a friend,you get fired from a job etc.We all have such pain in life,we all go through a funeral,a breakup,getting fired.On the other hand,in trauma or abuse,the identity is being attacked.That’s why it’s so hard for the heart to heal and move on.After pain,the identity remained intact and you still know who you are.But after trauma,you lose yourself.Abuse doesn’t occur in everybody’s life.


Yeah! I told my mom months ago that I have trouble connecting to my emotions and if it takes me two weeks to process something I need to discuss it at that time, even if the other person “forgot.” She says, “Yeah yeah, I understand” then in the same breath she says, “Can you just let things go…….and put this behind you….”

In other words, “Yeah, I understand you have a problem just don’t make me deal with it….”

SHE IS THE ONE WHO CAUSED IT! By “telling” me how to feel as a child.


The “forgiveness” issue popped up in the popular press in the last 20 years or so. This command worked its way into the mainstream so that many of us now agonize over whether and how to forgive people who’ve permanently tainted our lives. On top of enduring awful treatment from “Family” we’re supposed to forgive in order to get better. It’s supposed to be the psychiatric equivalent to exercise and vegetables for physical health.

In fact, there is no evidence that forgiving people who’ve treated us horribly helps us heal. Instead, there should be society-wide commands for abusers to identify their misdeeds and make amends to their victims.

The forgiveness directive stems from the many abusive people in the world who don’t want to suffer the consequences of their actions. It’s just more abuse.

I don’t give a second’s thought to forgiving my abusers and don’t plan to.


“In other words, “Yeah, I understand you have a problem just don’t make me deal with it….””

That sounds similar to my mother, though she was not explicit about it, either.

When I told her some time ago that I struggle with anger avoidance as a result of the mixed messages she raised me with and that I felt suicidal in high school because of how she treated me plus with being picked on a lot by my peers, she just told me to get therapy and that I was wonderful. Giving me pat answers and then showering me with panegyrics isn’t an apology.


I find that mind-boggling, too. Why are victims usually told to be the “bigger person”, but abusers aren’t advised to own up to their behaviors? I don’t get that mentality at all.


This happens all over the world in all shapes and forms..
From bullies where the victims are told to stand up for themselves, to victims often type of abuse where they are the ones who have to be strong.
Even when a crime has been committed it is the victim who has to face what has happened, with the perpetrator innocent until proven guilty and the victim has to go through all types of mental torture, reliving their experience while the perpetrator swans about acting innocent until a jury decides who is telling the truth.
Until society changes and treats sexual abuse victims with the dignity and respect they deserve after the trauma they have suffered, then things will always stay the same.. The victims will always be tortured and the perpetrators will always think they have got away with it.


thanks for sharing those videos!

So it was my birthday friday (didn’t do anything special but I was happy, so that’s good). A couple days prior my grandma sent me an email. She does this sometimes even though I cut off from her 3 years ago. Unlike with my parents, I hadn’t purposely left the door open. I couldn’t deal with how toxic she was and that was it for me, but after about a year went by, she started sending me emails now and then, short things telling me I’m loved and missed and she’s praying for me, hoping that things are going well, that I’m finding peace, hoping that one day I will come home. This time she added hope that she’ll see me before she passes on…. So, yesterday, I decided to write her back. Whew! I kind of threw that mandate to be nice to your elders down the toilet… Well, no, that’s not true. I was kind but I also was pretty straightforward, which will make it so my grandma will not read any kindness in it. I told her that I wasn’t interested in having a relationship with her, that she hurt people and didn’t take responsibility for it. I spent a lot of it standing up for my mom, the damage that my grandma did to her and refused to acknowledge. Talked about the whole responsibility to children thing and what “love” is. (My family loves the word “love.”) It was pretty long. My grandma is another one of these people who is very good at the victim card whenever you try to talk to her about anything. This is one thing I wrote: “And love is above and beyond all else about how you treat people, and while you have my compassion and understanding for why you were never able to really be much of a grandma, it doesn’t change the fact that you weren’t or the fact that the very first act of love you could have bestowed upon me was to love your daughter by learning to listen to her, to see her, to care about her and her experiences. It may have made a real difference in her life and maybe in mine, too, by extension, but I don’t know and I can’t know because it never happened. You never made the active choice to care for her, to put aside yourself and listen to her pain. I know this from watching her struggle for years and looking for what was, no doubt, half-rate validation from myself and others around her.” I talked about choices, too, because I think that’s what it’s all about. There’s a point where “good intentions” just becomes bullshit. Anyway, then this morning I forwarded it to my mom and dad’s email address, told my mom I wrote it for myself but also for her, etc…. Not that I expect any gratitude (also I still have them blocked and have no interest in hearing from them right now, though I’m still wishing they’ll get their act together, I suppose). She’s probably more likely to become allies with my grandma against me than feel gratitude. I’m sure to everyone in the family, I’m the misguided one. Also, I told my grandma I was also blocking her address, that I didn’t trust her, that everything I have experienced and observed of her character tells me that I cannot trust her reply to be anything but toxic and damaging to me. I told her that I was sorry to be writing everything I was writing but that I guess this is the choice that I have made—to speak up against family dysfunction and abuse, and that I’ll live with the consequences of my choices to speak my mind, as we all live with the consequences of our choices…. One reason I’m glad I did this is because I understand now in my heart what it was I was looking for from others, what it is to speak out against someone’s behaviour on someone else’s behalf, to have someone stand up for you. Here I was standing up for my mother who flushed me down the toilet! But what I was speaking up against was the cycle of abuse. I know that my great-grandfather was abusive and my great-grandmother (whom I loved and was a wonderful great-grandmother) was one of those mothers who told my grandma that “if it weren’t for you kids, I would have left him.” So I also said that I knew that she was also a victim and that she never got what her parents owed her—their sincerest apologies for the damage they caused her—but that she was alive and it’s never too late to change things, etc.

So yep, I’ve been worked up a bit again! But I feel stronger. I still have some of the anxiety of going against “the rules.” But I agree with the guy on the one video Alice posted that the best thing you can do is say “Stop.” I agree that that is love. And that’s what I was saying. More than that, I guess I was saying, not in these words, but yes, I suppose I was saying, “You lost me because you chose not to stop when you could have. You still have a chance with others, though, so why don’t you stop, why don’t you take responsibility, why don’t you choose to love (in action) the people you claim to love (in feeling)?” I’m proud of myself, even though it’s very weird and unsettling and slightly guilt-inducing to talk like that to an 80 year-old woman, but y’know, it isn’t my fault she never became a grown-up. I can’t help the truth of how she has behaved toward people.


Hi Alaina – I really appreciate what you’ve written. I can identify so much. I feel like you did the right thing for yourself. I’m so glad that you feel stronger for standing up to say “stop.”

If you didn’t have a little doubt and guilt for how your words would be received, you wouldn’t be able to do the work you’ve done toward healing. I’ve read a few times, especially recently, that our willingness to question ourselves is what assures us that we’re NOT insane! I fall back on that often!

It’s a difficult line to draw when you see the pain that caused the problem to start with, but you can’t let the behavior continue for your own sake. I remind myself that making them feel comfortable with their dysfunction doesn’t really help anyone, including them.

Good for you!



Picture me giving you a standing ovation! Picture me on a chair fist pumping in the air! Yay you! I love everything you wrote and every way that you expressed yourself!!


Thanks Hobie!

Thanks Darlene! Hah! I’m totally picturing you! Thanks so much! When I went through that whole confrontation process with my parents a couple years ago and it went on from there to all the other family members, I really felt like I’d been pummelled. I lost my footing and some part of me believed that maybe they were right, that I was this terrible person who has hurt them so much. Even as I could come on here and write the way I write, I still had that part of me. I seem to have gone on to part two (or is that part three or four?) of the confrontation with first my parents and now my grandma, but this time it looks like I’ve got it in the bag. I’m glad to realize that I could just block them, so I don’t have to hear their response, considering they were the ones who violated my boundaries…. I’m starting to wonder if they were to miraculously get their act together, the whole lot of them, how much would I even want to put into a relationship… like you have to want that. You get so caught up in wanting their validation, their realization, their apology, their love, etc., you don’t think so much of the “and then what?” The last ten years, I had a breakdown, my parents were in some ways worse, more controlling, I cut off from them two and a half years, went back, tried to work it out, got scapegoated, lost everything, moved away, no support, went through some pretty shit times, still they contact me as if nothing happened and we’ll start over fresh. I almost feel like I’d take an apology and be on my way. Healing relationships is work, even if they were on the right path. I feel like perhaps I wasn’t just saying “you lost your chance with me” to my grandma but also to my parents. I think considering I’ve spent 10 years on this family stuff, in therapy, reading how many self-help books, journaling, writing on here, suffering the consequences of their actions and still trying to break free of their control, I’m entitled to 10 years without them, without even the door open, if I want….because even if I got an apology, you just can’t crap all over someone, apologize, and think that the person is going to want a relationship with you (of course right now there’s not even a real apology). Sometimes people just go too far. They’ve gone too far. I’m going to live my life for myself for a while and not just a little while but a big chunk of a while. I won’t attend my grandma’s funeral when that day comes and I won’t be unblocking my parents’ email address anytime soon. I have to want that and I don’t. They’ve hurt me very badly. They betrayed me and showed me that I don’t mean that much to them. I want it to be okay that I don’t owe the constant civility of a potential relationship if only they take responsibility. It seems fair/just to say, “you know what, you screwed up and now you lose your privilege to have a daughter, granddaughter, etc., it doesn’t even matter if you have your shit together now, I don’t care, because I don’t, because you can’t keep doing this to a person and think it’s okay. These are the consequences of you being shitheads. You’ve lost me and that sucks for you because I’m pretty flippin’ great.” 🙂 I really, really just want to live.


I think a victim starts living when the roles are reversed,when abusers start to wonder what will happen to them if they continue to mistreat.That,as opposed to the victims being afraid of consequences,of what will happen if they dare to speak the truth.


Dear all,

I’ve been on this journey since a couple of years, of cutting ties with an abusive family. I’ve made some big mistakes along the way. Even before I found out the truth I was plagued by recurring depressions and had this constant feeling of being at fault for everything. I realised eventually I was the toxic waste bin and tried to cut ties. Whenever I’ve questioned this insight and gone back to some contact, my emotions and life started spiralling out of control again, from having enjoyed a limited time of peace and serenity. I started deluding myself that maybe it wasn’t as bad and all that, and of course thats wrong, it really was very, very bad. Of course my foo is very keen on constantly pretnding nothing ever happened, and that even when I’ve been nc for years, they have the nerve to talk to me as if nothing has happened when they ambush me again.
I’m very stressed out right now, they’re trying to get back in contact with me again. I want nothing more than to create my life completely separate from these people, but there’s also pressure from society and the lack of a safety net. I’d like to get to know others because its tough coming from this background. I’d like to have inspiration, support, help from people who are further down this path. I’d like to move from here because I feel that very decision I make, I have their eyes on me. My nb contacts me and talks as if nothing happened, and as if he’s completly nonplus as to why there would be a problem, when logically he knows very well. I refuse to get drawn into an argument about things that are OBVIOUS and making me look like the crazy one, just not doing it anymore. I’m just accepting that he knows fully well and is just trying to bait me into losing my calm. Great, nb, thanks, not what I need in a sibling. Please, help. I don’t want to be in that quagmire of illusions and phoniness. I want hope.


Contd. I just want to add also that I did understand what my nm was about some years ago and it was a big shock, but I had taken my nb off the hook. Lately though I’ve realised that he bullied me as a child and pretty much continued to bully me for all these years – I didn’t even get that it was bullying because it was all I knew. Even as adults he holds on to the belief he can belittle me and be condescending and disrepectful because he’s a few years older – that was never a good reason to bully me to begin with, but now that we’re adults it’s even more unacceptable. Granted he has changed a bit now, but really, how do you guys feel about that. Is simply stopping enough? Without mentioning the past, or trying to make up for it? I feel that no, it’s not enough, sorry. At the very least I want an apology for all those years of not only bullying me, but also insisting I’m lying about any mistreatment. I’m furious because I have the sneaking suspicion that these people seem to be subtly changing their behavior now, with no reference to the past – not because they realised it was wrong but basically because everyone has a CAMERA these days. That is my stomach wrenching suspicion about this. They have a career now and they know about cameras and Youtube, so miraculously the bullying that took place when noone was watching, has suddenly ceased…. I have NO respect for that.

“These are the consequences of you being shitheads.” Well said Alaina!


Congratulations Alaina on taking a stand and expressing your feelings to your grandmother. It took a lot of courage and I am proud of you. I understand the part about feeling anxiety about going against the rules. I always feel a little ” off”” when I take a stand and I think it’s because I am defying the way I was groomed to just accept things, even things that are very unhealthy for me. I am going against the mold that they created for me.

I admire your guts and courage. You’re doing great, girl!!


Hi Miranda
Welcome to Emerging from Broken ~ you will find hope here. EFB is about looking at our situation through a new grid. The hope for me had been finding a way to make my mother see me for who I really am, but there was no hope there; it was when I switched the hope from her to me that I found freedom from the pain that I had been in for so long.
thank you for sharing, I hope you will share often with us.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Laura
For a very long time I believed that when I stood up to them, when I ‘showed them’ that they would finally see their error, or that they might be afraid of what I would do if they were exposed ~ but I was really disappointed that it didn’t work that way at all. I started to live when I stopped caring about how they reacted to anything that I decided. 🙂 I started to live when I stopped seeing things through their eyes. I started to live when I realized that my life, freedom and hope didn’t depend on them; it depended on me.
hugs, Darlene


I am totally relating to you here; About the forgiveness word and your post; Something that really helped me was seeing how their rules never applied to THEM. They didn’t act the way they told me I had to act. They taught me to love in a way that they didn’t love me. They taught forgiveness in a way that didn’t apply to them. They taught me to honour them in a way they would never honour me. The truth is the way they taught these things didn’t make the true definitions of those words change; I just had a little brainwashing to undo. The true meaning of those things isn’t different just because of the way they taught it to me. This understanding has been HUGE in my healing process.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene!

This bears repeating because I needed to hear it today. It validates where I am now. “The hope for me had been finding a way to make my mother see me for who I really am, but there was no hope there; it was when I switched the hope from her to me that I found freedom from the pain that I had been in for so long.”

Changing what your hope is in and what you are hoping for is NOT giving up hope! Hope for what it real is the hope that changes our lives.



Thank you for relating to me Darlene.

I understand what you’re saying. What they expected from me was way out of line with what they expected from themselves. Sadly, there are too many people in my world who see forgiveness the same way they do. It’s communicating with them that makes me cringe.

I’ve settled on my own understanding of forgiveness and believe that I’ve done what is good for me there. I don’t believe that trying to tell them that I’ve forgiven them will do anyone any good because they aren’t able to hear what I mean. I’m comfortable with that.

I’ve had a few good days of significant progress!


Thanks Amber!
Y’know, it’s two things—it’s going against the rules of the family (which is huge) and then it’s also just this very unnatural thing for a granddaughter to be scolding her grandmother. She has almost 50 years more life experience than I; she’s supposed to be the person to look to for sage advice, or whatever. There’s something extremely uncomfortable and awkward about the whole thing. But I don’t regret it!

Hi Miranda,
I know what you mean about the pressure of society and the lack of safety net. I’ve realized just recently, though, that keeping small, or caving in, to protect myself or to make things seemingly easier in some instances, made things worse for me in the long run. As a child, it was probably the best course of action. As an adult, it can be a damned if you do/damned if you don’t situation, but because you don’t have to put up with things as an adult and you can walk away, I think the choice not to be small, not to compromise yourself, your truth, your integrity is the way to go, whatever that means, whatever the consequences… mostly because the consequences of caving in seem to be much, much worse. For me, to have them “stop” means to also fully acknowledge and apologize and make amends; otherwise, I don’t think it’s really stopping. I think the acts live on through time as if they were “okay” or even “right,” unless the people responsible are capable of saying, “no, that was wrong of me.” I think it’s when they say that and really mean it, that they really put an end to the spirit of their abusive acts. Otherwise, I really think the past just lives on. People in my family won’t say that and so that’s why I have to be away from them, to create a world that really is in line with the idea that what happened was wrong. It’s the only way I can diffuse the power of the past, so that it won’t live on in a kind of spiritual, emotional perpetuity.. Your situation with your brother sounds similar to mine, in a general sense anyway, so I think I know what you’re talking about there, too. I gave up with my brother maybe too fast but I didn’t have much to go on, didn’t feel much hope. It felt like a lost cause. I took my stand but without my parents recognizing things, my brother was too far gone in his own perspective, as if we’d grown up in two entirely different homes. He did have a different experience than I did, but denial was also a factor and we had no real connection so what he really felt was my parents’ pain, and his own need to see things according to their story seem to blind any chance I felt I had with him. Plus I was just hurting way too much at that point, so short of getting him totally on my side, I felt no hope. I wanted love and validation, support, comfort, someone to stand up for me. I just wasn’t going to get any of that from him. There was the condescending thing and thinking I should be able to have a relationship with him where none of what happened to me mattered or the fact that he seemed to think my pain was based in false perceptions…. It was just no good for me. I had enough self-doubts without dealing with someone thinking (in polite language) that I was crazy.


With the people who understand the false definition of forgiveness (and those other words) I have become very skilled at asking them questions that bust their myths. Like for instance I might say “lets define what I am forgiving them for first of all….” (no one has ever answered this question because if they define it, they are also validating what happened in the first place, and validating the abuse is something so many want to avoid at all costs.)
I will also ask “tell my what is loving about that action?” And this type of question is very effective; “if I was working with a guy who harassed me, embarrassed me, set me up for the fall, etc.. would you expect me to hang out with him outside of work?” Everyone always says “NO, of course not”. Then I ask why family is exempt…..

Yay for significant days of progress!
hugs, Darlene


I know that awkward feeling and for me I realized it was related to the consequences we have always had for doing ‘anything’ against what they want. I shook with fear for the first 2 years I stood up for myself. The adrenalin made me sick all because deep down I related the consequence (which is ultimately rejection) to death. To a child rejection is death and I had to keep reminding myself that I was no longer a child.
loving this conversation!
hugs, Darlene


Very big appreciation to Alaina, showing your courage in standing up for yourself against the abusive ‘pretending nothing ever happened’ move on the part of your grandmother!

My mother would typically do this same thing after an altercation. She’d be back in touch as if nothing ever happened and I’d be “But wait, what about XYZ? We haven’t finished with that.’ And then she’d accuse me of ‘looking for trouble’ or ‘wanting an argument’. “I just called to ask after you Alice and this is what I get”. And of course, I could get convinced that I WAS in fact doing those things. Just like I could start doubting ‘it was really THAT bad’ and whether in fact I WAS an ‘unaffectionate child’. Because I am somewhat reserved today (no mind that it might be a result and not exactly a cause, although even if I am, is that really that bad either?), it’s believable.

I’ve since understood from reading various stuff that this ‘pushing the reset button’ (returning as if nothing has happened) is a typical abuser move.
Like Alaina, even after I had very specifically asked that my mother give me space, several times, she refused to do so. What that said to me (in not so many words) was that her sense of entitlement trumped any needs for distance or feelings I had (which is exactly how it had ‘always’ been with her).

I’m with Darlene that just because definitions have been bastardized by some people’s actions it doesn’t render them meaningless or give that “other” meaning any credence.

I still hear ‘forgive’ and in my mind and emotions it means ‘let me off the hook and come back here and continue letting me treat you the same’. Which of course it doesn’t actually mean. I don’t think it’s coincidence that some of my favorite books were 1984 (Orwell) or Catch 22. I recognized so much in them both!


This is the comment in your post that stood out to me in this reading, today!

“… We are told to be accountable for the results in our lives without ever having been heard, helped or validated for the emotional difficulties that we have had and very often these emotional difficulties have been at the hands of our own parents…”

I have always felt that it is so unfair to tell people who were abused to ‘just stand up and take responsibility for everything that has happened in your life and everything that will ever happen in your life’.

That does not mean that I believe that people shouldn’t take as much responsibility for their lives as they are capable of. And, of course, they must take the consequences for any illegal actions that they take, regardless of their level of function.

But, I do believe that in many matters they are not capable of taking full responsibility until they have gone through various stages of healing emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and socially. For instance, a person who is unable to have successful relationships due to an entire childhood of abuse and dysfunctional relationships will most likely have relationship issues. They have to learn new skills and be able to apply them in order to be able to ‘take responsibility’ for their part in the success of a relationship.

The dysfunctional mother or parent who makes their child responsible/to blame for every problem lays the burden on an undeveloped personality and psyche that is too immature to be responsible. That chronic burden of responsibility can translate out to a life time of over-responsibility, which is a burden that no one should ever be expected to bear.

The dysfunctional blaming mother sets their child up for a lifetime of defeat and chronic relationship issues.


I’m so jeallous of all of you who have managed to build a healthy life where you’re open about the abuse. It’s my biggest dream. I’m in therapy now at least, so I’m hoping I’ll get there. But the person in question (I don’t even want to say the word) is working constantly on the public image of being a wonderful person, despite having hurt me continuously for decades, especially when I was a child. Where’s the justice? I hope I can be open one day. It feels hopeless sometimes when I see the amount of power these people hold. I also see women pop up here and there who are very similar, who dare to complain about their children. Children are a blessing. What they’re saying make no sense at all, but they believe they are making sense. It makes me very angry but I can’t speak up against them without getting personal. So many children going through this suffering and then being blamed for it. I want to wear a sign that says, do not complain about your children in my presence, you are not worthy of speaking to in my eyes.

Darlene, do you have any tips on how to get to where you are today? I just want a peaceful life.


This is what I feel about my mother and the rest of my “family”:

How should I ever forgive you?
You almost destroyed my life. You failed to recognize and accept me as an individual human being with individual needs, wishes and dreams for a life of my own. What you almost always had in mind was “how would this/he/we look like in the eyes of our neighbours and the rest of the family?” You never wanted me to become an independent and happy person who felt empowered to go out into the world and find a place for himself and his own family. You needed me to to stay needy, weak an dependent on you and others who thought they knew much better what was best for me. You and the rest of the family failed on the whole and you were completely wrong! You f***d it up really good. You even managed to brain-wash me into believing that it was completely my own fault that nothing I ever did turned out to be a success. You made me believe that it was always my fault and that something had to be wrong with me though from the very beginning it was you who didn’t care how things turned out for me in the end as long as you looked good.

To me “family” is the place of hypocrisy and lies, brain-washing, cover-up, repression, regression, depression and sacrifice. My so-called mother sacrificed me for her own good. She made me take over the role of the sacrificial saviour or lamb. She denied me the right to have a voice and she estranged me from myself and the rest of society. I knew from a very young age that I didn’t matter to her and that her words were never followed by actions that would show to me she really cared and that she loved me. She crushed my ability to have confidence in myself and others. Sometimes I am so angry at her for what she did and for what she didn’t do that I literally want to cry my eyes out or punch somebody really hard. There are so many feelings that range from frustration to isolation during these “fits”. Family feels more like a show or a circus to me invented for the entertainment of others not for its original purpose.

My family is no place where I could find appreciation, acceptance, comprehension or genuine love. So-called “love” was mixed up and misinterpreted with pity, protection, submission, denial and adherence to the code of law and ethics of our so called “family”. To me family and society felt more like a venerable institution or a utopia though in reality it turned out to be a dystopian jungle with all kinds of animals preying upon me and trying to catch me and eat me up alive. Deep down I knew that it was her who was deficient and that she had also been denied to grow up and become an adult by her own mother and the rest of her family. She knew that I knew and she became afraid that I might tell someone else outside the family. She needed to make sure that never happens. She hated my guts for knowing and seeing the truth. So she decided to make me suffer for my knowledge and I suffered a lot. I thought this was normal life and that it had to be my fault somehow. Now that I know my truth and have become more “bold” to express it I have to accept the sad truth that this might have little or no effect on her life and how she looks at things that happened in our past. I will learn to live with that fact – somehow – though sometimes something inside of me wished that I could tell her all of this face to face now that she called again to invite us all for next monday but I don`t believe that she would understand it – and sometimes I doubt that I completely understand what happened to us in the past. I am becoming more and more unwilling to let her be a part of my future.


I really found similarities in my experience with these last few comments from Beth, Miranda and Oliver.

Beth, I agree with you and at the same time I feel I don’t have much choice but to take responsibility myself if I want a better life because no-one else will.

My mother also had that same responsibility and did not act on it. Or rather, she acted it out on her kids and husband. My father was an odd mix.

I am kind of ‘disabled’ with respect to relationships as a result of my upbringing and I’m resentful about that but, er, nothing else I can really advance at this point.

Miranda, I don’t really talk openly about it except on here because otherwise I’m faced with the social taboo of it, on top of ‘daring’ to estrange myself from the whole family. Aside the other issue I mention above, my life is pretty good.

Oliver, I share your views on what ‘family’ is. It means nothing good to me. I have a real hard time with ‘blood is thicker than water’.


All, I think the reason that the forgiveness ploy worked so well on me for so long, was because I wanted to be able to forgive them, have our relationship restored, and have them treat me with respect. I was stuck thinking that forgiveness was for them and that it could change them so, they wouldn’t be abusive toward me anymore. Forgiveness can make a difference in the life of someone who is truly sorry for their behavior. It does nothing to change the behavior of someone looking for a cloak for their evil actions toward others. Like Darlene and also, because of Darlene, I had to re-evaluate my understanding of forgiveness but the biggest piece for me was understanding that they didn’t want true forgiveness and they didn’t care about having a loving, healthy relationship with me. They wanted me to ignore their abusive actions and continue to allow them to control me through those actions. In the end, forgiveness was for me. It marked the day when I saw the truth about my family relationships and walked away from people who would never admit to any wrong-doing and allow true forgiveness to heal the rift between us. When I forgave them, the evil they had done to me as a child and into my adult years, no longer had control of me. I left it all with them.

Anyway, that’s how it worked for me and I understand the process very differently than I did before I embraced the truth about my life and my family. In the same way that I understand most everything differently.:0)Not that I’ve arrived. I’m still learning, growing, and struggling with many things.



I had two earlier posts on here. Original #31 comments 35,40,45,48,56.
My 2nd post for the same subject #91 comments 96,98,103,104,108,109.

I’m posting again today to give an update for those interested in the situation. (I am trying to make amends with my youngest daughter who is full of anger, directed at me, for failing her as a mother.)

We only had one serious talk but have had a few get-togethers since then just to enjoy visiting and being together again. But our visits and phone calls have this underlying shadow of “being careful not to say the wrong thing.”

She is also in the process of making a life changing decision. One that requires her to move far away with her kids to a place near her boyfriend. She has told me that he doesn’t want her bringing the kids anymore when she goes up to visit him. They stress him out. She told me the town is full of transients and drunks.

I think she would be making a mistake but how do I tell her this when she hasn’t asked for my opinion, she is just telling me what she wants to do.

She takes anything anyone says, that is contrary to what she wants, as a personal attack on her. She perceives everyone, including strangers, are out to get her. She has very strong fear issues along with her anger issues.

I therefore have trouble telling her my thoughts and fears concerning what she wants to do. Past experience shows me she will take it as a personal attack on her ability to parent her kids.

I don’t want to loose the connection we have recently gained but I also don’t want to just silently stand aside and let her make what I see as a huge mistake.

So this is where we are right now. I am actually going to her place today to watch the kids for a week while she goes up north to see her boyfriend.

So any advise? How do I approach subjects I feel need to be talked about concerning how I see her making parental choices when I know she sees me as being unqualified to give any advise.



Hi Lynne, I’m the mother of adult children too and though I can’t give you advise, I know from experience that my adult children don’t want me to tell them what to do. They want my support. If I can’t support everything about the decisions they are making, I emphasize what I can support and avoid what I have qualms about and wait until I’m asked before I give any advice. I feel my adult children have the right to make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes.



A few weeks ago, I found out (again) that my mom has been trying to bait another friend into having a conversation with her about me. She has succeeded in turning several friends/acquaintances about me, which usually consists of her batting her eyelashes and being so “concerned” about me, the state of my faith in Christianity, my mental health, etc. and that she would do anything to get me back in the family. When I confronted her about what my friend told me, she was ballistically angry, threatening to never talk to the friend who warned me again. She has been used to having these friends throw me under the bus and take her side. Most of our relatives do, and she is helped by my two flying monkey sisters.

Anyway, my dad got involved. Said the usual B.S. Said that I have an “overactive/vivid imagination (typical gaslighting move). He accused me of loving to play the victim and enjoying it. I told him that the last few years of my life (when I set in the low contact) has been the best years of my life and that I have the feeling they are about to get even better. I blocked both my parents on Facebook (they were using it in one instance to find out who my new friends were and to introduce them to them, in one case they gossiped about me to this friend who turned against me). It seems unbelievable but now that I know about narcissism I know this sort of behavior is the typical behavior of a narcissist to try to turn your target’s friends against them, even if its your own daughter and her friends are strangers.

Since I put no contact in place I have noticed one thing. I have been talking in my sleep. I have only rarely talked in my sleep and now I talk in my sleep every night. Sometimes I am waking myself up. A lot of times I am just saying “No!” and “I am not going to do this anymore!” but sometimes “I don’t have do everything your way!” and “I’m not taking your shit” and “I am never going back!” I wonder if my mind is trying to process this estrangement in my dreams.


LOL Mom would do ANYTHING to get me back in the family. Anything but have an honest conversation with me about how she has treated me in which she took a minimum of blame. Anything but making a sincere apology for telling me that I couldn’t be part of her family unless I attended her church. Anything but not letting my sisters continue to throw me under the bus with relatives. Anything but standing up for me. Anything but not letting my asshat brother-in-law taunt me for kicks (though he won’t now with the husband I have). She would do anything to have me back, anything to have me back as the family garbage receptacle for all the family’s shit. NO thanks. I’m better off alone. Much happier!


You say that your mother was not a “true” narcissist because she had full control over her actions. All narcissists have full control of their actions (and they are fully aware of this, as they can choose to be good or bad at will). Narcissists usually want to be viewed by others as “good” people, even though what they do in secret is not good – it’s sometimes evil. With a narcissist, it’s only the visable veneer that matters to them; they care only about what the outside world thinks of them,not what actually lurks beneath (their true, contradictory and chaotic nature). They are incapable of introspection. Sounds like she was excessively neurotic and because she was the victim of a dysfunctional family situation herself was (and still is?) unable to have appropriate, functional, intimate relationships with anyone. It’s the wrong hard-wiring of the brain, its skewed perceptions,its stunted development at 2-3 year-old-stage, that is the hallmark of the narcissist. Your mother will never admit the error of her ways. Mine didn’t either, not even on her deathbed.


Just had a second thought, Darlene. I’ve never read anything you’ve written about her parents or her own childhood situation. Your mother’s bad treatment of you is most likely misplaced anger and frustration at one of her own parents – but she hasn’t got sufficient or appropriate inner resources to work that out.


Hi Paula Haynes,

I’ve had the same question about Darlene’s mother, but I realized pretty quickly that it doesn’t really matter if her mother is a true narcissist or not. Knowing what caused or contributed to a mother’s bad behavior usually makes excusing the abuse the focus of what we end up doing.

Darlene’s healing came from focusing on her own wounds and validating them. It’s not our job to diagnose her mother, or our own mothers for that matter.

My mother is most likely an alcoholic and addictive behavior tends to be narcissistic. It’s helped me to see how narcissistic mothers behave and recognize the harm that it does. The value of exploring that was in finding other people who felt a lot like I feel in response to similar behavior in their mothers and mine.


Everyone, I think it’s very difficult to diagnose anyone. What I appreciated reading about in the ‘narcissist’ literature is the behavior (that I recognized oh so clearly) and the accounts of the consequences of that behavior on others, especially at the level of child development.

I could see some of the behaviors that I was struggling with enumerated as consequences and while it didn’t make me not have to deal with them, it was helpful to understand where they came from.

At one point I did offer my mother the opportunity to talk about how her childhood had affected her and in turn affected her treatment of me. But she told me she’d had a ‘wonderful’ childhood, right along with denying that she had been anything other than a great mother ‘doing her best’ to me and that I had ‘chosen’ to view things in a negative light and somehow forgotten all about my ‘happy’ childhood.

Today, to be frank, I don’t wish her in my life, but I paradoxically do care about the cause of her mistreating me as I think that no child should suffer neglect and emotional abuse in any form.



You make some good points here. I have to admit that sometimes I’m curious about the details of my mother’s upbringing and how it shaped her into the person she is today. She sounds just like your mother: someone who was treated harshly, but doesn’t see it as abuse.

But, getting someone to confess to being mistreated as a child when they are in denial (while hurting you and then blaming you for being hurt by them) distracts from our healing. I’ve been doing that enough and I feel I wasted a lot of time doing that. Also, that just victimizes me more while adding to her narcissistic supply.


I want to add that learning about an abuser’s past is an important tool as a way to NOT repeat the cycle with one’s own offspring or other scapegoats, not to pity the unrepentant.


S1988, you have a good point about learning about an abuser’s past to avoid repeating the cycle rather than to pity the unrepentant. I agree.

Speaking only for myself, every time I was encouraged to “understand your mother” I felt it was meant to keep me from holding her accountable for her own behavior. I’m sure that a lot of the time, it was meant to just make me remain compliant.

I’ve only recently begun to realize that people who suggest that I understand my mother AREN’T telling me to continue enduring her abuse. Those things have been tangled up together in my experience for so long, I still feel the same aversion when I hear “understand (fill in the abuser)” because I feel minimized and dismissed, in spite of what someone actually means when they say it.

I’m working toward separating understanding and allowing for my own sake. It’s just not easy!


Hobie, funny that, I keep hearing the same thing as you do when I hear “understand your mother”. It’s really not easy at all this brain unwashing is it?


Everyone: Reading through these comments I am really struck by the similarities amongst the stories here. All my life I had thought my FOO was a one of a kind toxic wastebasket of evil dysfunction. But I could swap out a few details in so many of these comments and it would be my story totally!! That revelation in itself has been a major AHA moment for me.
* Lynne: not that I am in any position to give out advice…especially with adult children so please take it with a grain of salt:) As much as you may want to advise your daughter…I would suggest you not do that. Of course there are the considerations of your grandchildren that are paramount. But adults need to make their own decisions/mistakes etc. Another thing is that you say “But our visits and phone calls have this underlying shadow of “being careful not to say the wrong thing.” …so many of us here have done the exact same thing which is skirt around our true feelings, the true issues for the sake of keeping the peace. I just don’t think that’s healthy in the long run although I can certainly appreciate your position of not wanting to antagonize her or face her anger. My heart goes out to you and I hope you and your daughter both can move closer together.
*Oliver: I feel your pain. I really and truly do. This is almost exactly my story, my life, my pain, my childhood…in a nutshell, you encapsulated it! I have been NC with my FOO for about 8 years and my extended for about 5. It’s the absolute best thing for me and my sanity, my health, my soul and my family. Without a doubt. It’s so so difficult…this trying to face the truth and calling things as they are. But I firmly believe that it is the only path to healing and freedom.
*Alaina: I stand with Darlene and applaud you!! That took courage and HEART. I am so proud of you and…you have inspired me!
*Alice, Hobie: Both my “parents” are NPD (and I’m sure a whole bunch of other stuff as well). I have read TONS on the disorder and have come to the conclusion that I can’t focus on their stuff. While it was such a huge relief to finally have all the pieces of the puzzle come together in a way it never has before…it became counter-productive for me to focus on them rather than my own healing.
*S1988: I have to respectfully say that I DON’T think understanding your abusers past is the key to not repeating the past…for the simple fact that 1. For so many of us…there is simply NO WAY to ever find out about the abusers past. There is such denial, outright lies etc. Who will speak up and tell the truth??? 2. I think it’s DENIAL and NOT facing the truth about one’s own abuse that is the key to healing and not repeating the past.
Thanks so much to everyone for your truth and heart. You have all made a huge difference to me on this journey of recovering. xxx


I guess in the end, it boils down to the fact that there is nothing we can do to change an abuser’s behavior. We can only work to change our own. I think I even thought that when I stood up to my family’s abuse that it might cause them to change their behavior but of course, it didn’t. There isn’t anything anyone but the abuser can do to change their behavior and there is never an excuse for abusing people especially, children.



I have found that usually when I was asked to understand an abusive person’s background, it was just used as an avenue to let them get away with their behavior towards me. And because they were let off the hook with no consequences whatsoever, their nasty behavior continued. I can empathize with my mother for the awful, neglectful loveless childhood that she went through, but why in the world should I as an innocent child have had to bear the consequences of her emotional scars. She was not one to try to make things better for her own daughter. Infact she seemed to enjoy depriving he of certain things while stockpiling her own closet with shoes and clothes. My hair went unwashed while she went to the salon weekly to be styled. Instead of building he up to feel loved an secure she belittled me and my only worth seemed to be in what I could do to lighten her workload around the house.

That being said I have tried to understand my mothers sad childhood, but not to excuse her behavior towards me. It provides valuable information in knowing what messed her up and it the same time it doesn’t condone her actions towards me. She had the choice to do things differently with her daughter. She did not. I had the choice to do things differently with my kids. I did. Therein lies the difference.


“*S1988: I have to respectfully say that I DON’T think understanding your abusers past is the key to not repeating the past…for the simple fact that 1. For so many of us…there is simply NO WAY to ever find out about the abusers past. There is such denial, outright lies etc. Who will speak up and tell the truth??? 2. I think it’s DENIAL and NOT facing the truth about one’s own abuse that is the key to healing and not repeating the past.”

I never really thought about it that way. I do know bits and pieces of my mother’s past, but she doesn’t think that she was mistreated.

You’re right. What’s the point of trying to know the specific details of what went on in her past if she doesn’t want to talk about it or trivializes it?

Besides, I’m learning more and more about what shaped me into who I am today, something my mother or other family members wouldn’t dare to do, and focusing on myself instead of those in denial is all that matters.


Hi Hobie.
Thanks for what you said here on behalf of Paula’s statements. Very well said.

Disorders are not controllable. When a person is in control of his or her actions then it isn’t a true disorder. It really helped me to move forward realizing that. Inhave met true narcissists and my mom isn’t one of them however that doesn’t change anything about the damage that was inflicted on me.
Hugs Darlene


P.S. Paula
I have actually written about my mothers life a fair bit and although I feel sorry for her it’s not at my own expense anymore.


Hi Darlene, I’m not commenting to argue. I’m just comparing your situation to mine. I am sure my dad is personality disordered and has other mental illnesses. He can’t help what he is but I have seen him modify his behavior when that behavior proved to cause him pain. It’s the pain of others that he doesn’t care about and hurting someone to get what he wants, doesn’t trouble him. He still knows it is wrong. Since he understands his own pain, only, I think it is probably the most cruel thing in the world to not hold him accountable for his hurtful actions towards others. Ignoring the hurt he causes because of his disorder only causes that disorder to become more entrenched. Even if the rest of the family won’t call what he has a disorder, everyone knows he’s off, that he is different, and I think that is a big reason that he isn’t held accountable and instead, harbored in the family.

I compare it to an alcoholic, in the throes of his illness, who gets drunk and kills several people in an automobile accident. He’s sick, didn’t know what he was doing, but he is still accountable for the lives that were lost at his hand. That alcoholic has no hope for recovery if he is never held accountable.

Understanding that is what helped me walk away. It also, helped me to know that his abuse wasn’t entirely, an accident. No matter how disordered his thinking is, he knows the things he did to me were wrong and his only reaction to them, is self-preservation and cover-up. He also, understands that he did those things to get what he wanted out of me. They were calculated actions and not just mimicking learned behavior. I believe that abusing others feeds his sense of superiority and that he was most abusive when he felt inferior. My pain was like a drug to him. It gave him the feeling impotence over others and as his child, I was an easy fix. In that sense too, he was no different from a drug addict or alcoholic and no less accountable for his actions.

No matter the reason for abuse, there is no excuse for it.


p.s. The other reason that emotional and psychological abusers aren’t held accountable is that the law has no teeth in this area. It’s illegal but unless it can be attached to some sort of physical abuse, there is little that family victims can do about. I would like to see that changed. We all know the personal damage that such abusers cause without leaving a cut or a bruise.


Hobie writes:

The thing that has been on my mind recently is that I can’t remember a time when I was injured, sick, or was hurt by someone’s words or behavior that anyone in my family responded to me with compassion. Every instance that I can remember was met with anger, hostility, and contempt.
I can’t understand why I didn’t realize it a long time ago, except that it didn’t occur to me that it was the way that they were always going to react. I thought I was expressing myself in some wrong way so that they didn’t understand.


Hobie, you cannot know how much it helped me to see your words. I have never been able to understand how this has unfolded in my family. If I got sick, someone was sicker and I was a whiner. If someone hurt me, I probably deserved it, or I would painfully see my mother or my sister befriend the person who hurt me and be especially kind to that person, and accuse me of holding grudges and not forgiving. I remember when I had my baby. I was in labor for 24 hours and it was a difficult labor that left me with health problems I suffer from today in that I have nerve damage from it. My mom was supposed to come and help me out for 2-3 days so I can rest. My mom brought her to my house one morning. By the end of the day, she had my dad pick her up and she went home, even though I was crying and afraid and worn and my husband had to go to work 12 hour days starting with the day I was released. She said flippantly that I had “an easier labor than my sister” because my baby was smaller and told me to “quit whining.” She did seem to love my baby, and at one time was holding him and declared that my baby “liked her better than he liked me.”

I accepted all those things because I thought I deserved them.

People say I am bitter because I have decided to stay away from this nonsense. The only thing I am bitter about is that I wished I had known 20 years ago that this would never change and I would have made an exit a long long time ago.

I can’t help but love my parents. I think God gave that gift to me. Maybe it is a trauma bond, maybe it’s because they did love me in my early childhood until age 7. Though I wish things were different, I have grown to accept that they will never be.


My mother would typically do this same thing after an altercation. She’d be back in touch as if nothing ever happened and I’d be “But wait, what about XYZ? We haven’t finished with that.’ And then she’d accuse me of ‘looking for trouble’ or ‘wanting an argument’. “I just called to ask after you Alice and this is what I get”.

My mom took it a step farther. A while back, we had this very nice conversation, and I thanked her for it. BIG MISTAKE. I called her later on and said, “We aren’t done with X yet.” Mom got MAD and said, “I can’t believe you still want to discuss X after we had this nice conversation.” OMG! She was playing the little kids manipulation game when the kid knows they are in trouble and they try to manipulate the parents into forgetting!

Like Darlene says, the “rules” didn’t apply to her, she can play the game but I can’t.

Mom kept saying,”I have apologized, what more do you want?” Her “apology” is nothing but words. She doesn’t mean it.

I can’t believe how I managed to force out my mom’s “true” self. It took “Law and Order SVU” interrogations.


Miranda, my brother has always bullied me, made fun of my life, my home, and my choices. I always started every conversation defending myself. He is very condescending and negative, down-playing, ignoring and dismissing me as a person, and the dysfunctional family we grew up in. Of course he is the golden child of my mother. He can do no wrong and is given all validation, praise and gifts.

Hes her full blown flying monkey now, and they feed off each other. I have always been loving and giving and supportive of him, while he turns around and mocks and makes fun of me. I learned to accept this was our relationship like belittling abuse was my relationship with my mother.
He too would pretend like nothing had ever happened that it was just me being “crazy again” if I object to anything.
3 years ago I took a stand and broke all contact with both of them. Other than his 21 year old son (who ignores me) there is no one else left in the family.
They chose to always treat me that way. I will never again have any relationship with them. No contact stays no contact as it is the only way I can stop the abuse. I don’t mean anything to them anyway. I am less than nothing to them. I now value myself enough to say no more. Hugs to you.


Karen R, hugs to you. I have several siblings, all who have treated me like this. When I went low/no contact, now I hear from one of them because they now scapegoat him now that I am not around, and they have started triangulating him with his own partner. I don’t 100% trust he is not a flying monkey either. I keep topics light.

Do you have any cousins or extended family? Sometimes that is an option, but sometimes not, as they will circle the wagons and try to convince anyone who is friendly or stays neutral to you to capitulate.


Eira, I can so relate. No compassion for me either if I was hurt physically or bullied. No medical care either.
I was just ignored. Not important. I came to understand as a child I was on my own and to just suffer or deal with whatever happened and accept that thats how it is in life.
I understand your pain at the birth of your child. My mother ignored me both times, showed no excitement and did not visit or support me during the birth. No help afterward, like “whats the big deal?”.

Again, making me feel wrong/bad to want support, or have needs or emotions or excitement at such a time. (I was always punished with censure for my excitement about anything) Since I grew up that way, I knew not to complain. Complaints weren’t allowed as it might upset my abusive father and “she’d have to listen to it” , which were her favorite words.

Many years later I discussed all of this with her and in every instance she had an excuse for the behavior, always putting the “blame” or reason for her behavior back on me or whomever she had hurt.
She is so quietly passive aggressive. She’s a very smart person, intellectually and yet there is this mental block of responsibility for her own choices and actions.

Example: straightforward: She embezzled money from a bank she worked in over a two year period. A lot of money.
My father’s fault because he didn’t give her enough household money because his own mother could
make a dime do the work of a dollar. Her exact words. Her choice to steal had nothing to do with it.


I’m so jeallous of all of you who have managed to build a healthy life where you’re open about the abuse. It’s my biggest dream.

Miranda, I’m still not “there” yet. I am still wishing my Mom will realize what she did. I’m wishing it hard.

My family is no place where I could find appreciation, acceptance, comprehension or genuine love.

That’s why I don’t get this “family is everything” stuff. I never found acceptance in my family. I found ridicule because I didn’t “fit” in my own family. I was “different” therefore I was ridiculed. Nothing I did was taken seriously, instead, I just realized my whole life was made into a joke for everyone to laugh at. “Oh, but you have to learn to take a little teasing……” But my family should love me, not make a joke out of me.

I am kind of ‘disabled’ with respect to relationships as a result of my upbringing and I’m resentful about that but, er, nothing else I can really advance at this point.

Me too. I am “disabled.” I start out relationships good, but as soon as the guy shows any “disapproval” I resort to faking it, just as I faked my childhood. And Mom doesn’t think it’s her fault I faked my childhood. I stay away from “relationships” right now.

I therefore have trouble telling her my thoughts and fears concerning what she wants to do. Past experience shows me she will take it as a personal attack on her ability to parent her kids.

Lynne, I appreciate that you are trying. From my experience, watch your voice tone. If you are using “mommy voice” then your daughter will resent it and take it as an attack. That’s what my mom does, she uses “mommy voice.” Mom doesn’t think she has a “tone” but she does.

Your mother’s bad treatment of you is most likely misplaced anger and frustration at one of her own parents

This is what I think is my Mom’s issue. But it’s not about her parents, it’s about….. something…… that happened to her that she was unable to talk about. I managed to get her to blurt out something awful that happened to her after I did an “interrogation” of her. And I think there is more and she hasn’t dealt with it. It causes her to project a “false self.” The more I force my issues in her face, the more I start to see of her “False self.” The last phone conversation I had with her six months ago, I got her to blurt out her true feelings toward me. I think she is jealous of me. Choices I made in life that she wasn’t aware she could make.

Mom would do ANYTHING to get me back in the family

Anything except to allow me to be me. Anything as long as I keep up the “Blanche” personna.

But she told me she’d had a ‘wonderful’ childhood, right along with denying that she had been anything other than a great mother ‘doing her best’ to me and that I had ‘chosen’ to view things in a negative light and somehow forgotten all about my ‘happy’ childhood.

My mom does the same rhetoric. I want her to confront her demons.

I want to add that learning about an abuser’s past is an important tool as a way to NOT repeat the cycle with one’s own offspring or other scapegoats, not to pity the unrepentant.

Oh, but what are you saying? [sarcasm] “The past is the past and should be left there……”

My experience is that people who use this excuse are hiding something. And using it as an excuse to keep mistreating you or to give them justification to treat you any way they want and you have to “respect” them.

I had better stop reading or I’m going to quote everyone!


No Eira, no other family as my father was an only child and my brother is my only sibling. His son has chosen to ignore us. His choice, why I don’t know as we were good to him.
My other son and wife and her family are all nice loving folks. We have many “chosen family”. Friends who are dear and there for us. We are very blessed by these people and our relationships.

Mom and brother have no one to triangulate. I know she bad mouths me to people in the assisted living as I was shamed by the manager when I took myself off the contact list.
Sorry you have to deal with this too. Best thing I ever did was get away. 🙂


Hi Pam
I think I understand what you are saying.
I post about disorders only because I excused my mother for so many years because I felt sorry for her and thought that she didn’t really know any better, but when I came out of the fog I began to remember many instances where she covered up for herself, and when she acted so nice to others and was nice to me in front of others and that proves her control. If she could control her actions in front of others, then she was IN control. Disorders are not controllable. The truth is that my mother was a victim to almost everyone except her children.
Thanks for sharing. Love your points!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Eira
I can honestly say that I love my parents too just not in the dysfunctional definition of “love” anymore. I see this as a gift as well!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


DXS..I agree.. my mother was extremely resentful of the way her mother treated her vs her 2 years younger sister. She was scapegoated terribly. Made to serve. Her sister, the golden perfect child bullied her and her mother did nothing. Her NM took her toys and gave to her sisters at christmas guilting her that if she didn’t give in, it would be her fault they wouldn’t get presents.
She was jealous of her sister all her life.

She later acted very self righteous and condescending to both her sisters when they had financial and health ‘serves them right.’ (in an I’m SO much better than them way)
I watched and heard all the bad mouthing about everyone and thought wow, that’s nasty (to myself)
I was beginning to see everything for what it is in my family but I had only touched the surface.

My brother was the one saying the past is the past.
My mother was much better at making the past your fault so you didn’t every criticize her.


After much reading, my father was true NPD. Had so many traits its scary. Only controlled his “image” in front of people he wanted to impress or could somehow hurt him.
The ones that are personality disordered don’t seem to have any self awareness of their issue.
No empathy on a level of not even understanding what empathy is.
They can fake the emotion but its “off” somehow.
My mother like yours Darlene, actively choses who to manipulate and knew what she was/is doing is in her best interest.


Hi Karen
The D. in NPD stands for disorder. If someone can control his image he or she can control it all the time. That is how I have come to understand this.
Hugs, Darlene


I should add to that that when I read about narcissistic mothers the resemblance to my mother was crazy! However, because of my training I know that disorders cannot be controlled and I realized that my mother was only like that with me, (and a few others) but that she went to great lengths to hide the way she treated me (which must have been exhausting). Too bad she didn’t put some of that energy into having a relationship with me and actually, that is what hurt so much. If she covered it up, then she knew it was wrong. It WAS within her power to stop doing it, she just didn’t choose to because she saw me as less than her. She herself felt she was entitled to treat me anyway she wanted because “she was ‘the mother'”. ugg.
Hugs, Darlene


Karen, I understand what you say about your dad and I have even tried to think what it would be like to have no empathy but then it stops there because a person without empathy would never put themselves in another’s shoes. I can’t know what it is like to not have empathy anymore than my dad can know what it is to have empathy. However, I know he is as responsible for his actions as I am mine. He has developed a very finely honed cold empathy that he uses to manipulate and use others. I think using it to cause pain in others gives him a feeling of power and pleasure.

If he is so disordered that he can’t help but abuse people, including children, he should be locked up where he can’t hurt anyone. As long as a person is a free-agent, they are responsible for their actions.



Darlene, I think your mom is a lot like my mom, who has narcissistic qualities and learned behaviors but doesn’t lack empathy or possess the same innate (and hard to describe)differences that mark(and I believe to be the heart of) my dad’s personality disorder. All personality disorders (like autism) are basically, an inability to connect with others. My dad lacked empathy and was unable to connect on that very basic level. I think that part of his NPD is pre-disposed.



Hi Pam
Oh yes, I am not trying to say that this diagnosis doesn’t ever apply! Of course all of them apply to some people. I was just saying how I know my mother isn’t a narcissist. And what I was saying to Karen is that she states that her father could control himself when he wanted to ~ which is very much like my mother.
Another truth leak about this subject is when people say “everyone thinks my mother (or father) is the nicest guy / woman in the world..” True Narcissists are NOT generally liked by most because their inflated ego and entitlement issues etc. are not hidden at all.

I appreciate the conversation about this everyone. It is not my intent to offend anyone; as always I am just posting what helped me to take my life back.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I’m not offended, just interested.:0)I’m sorry if I sounded offended! lol! What I take away from this is that there are a million things people use to excuse abuse, to feel sorry for the abuser, and blame the victim. None of them hold water because there is no excuse. In my case, I had to quit feeling sorry for my dad because of his disorder and pay attention to what growing up inside his disorder did to me. The crux of the issue is the same even though, individual abusers are not all the same. Understanding who my dad is helped me understand what happened to me but it doesn’t excuse anything. That part of it is the same for both of us.:0)



Darlene and Pam, “there are a million things people use to excuse abuse, to feel sorry for the abuser, and blame the victim.”

What I don’t really understand is why we can’t have compassion for BOTH the parents and the children in these situations. What is underneath this ‘blame the victim’ and give reason to the abuser mindset?

Why is it one over the other? And why the reversal of responsibility in so many of these cases? It really is pointing to something known and intentional, but we don’t want to believe it.


Haha Pam,
I didn’t mean YOU when I said I didn’t mean to offend. I didn’t think you were offended. I was just saying in general that I don’t want to offend anyone who actually is dealing with a legit mental health disordered parent. I have had clients who had really frightening mentally ill parents and at the end of the day my process of coaching still applied with equally powerful and positive results; it was the damage that had to be validated no matter what excuse. But there is an extra layer of healing when we get stuck in the diagnosis of the parent or perpetrator. I just have a thing about diagnosis as a stick point.
Gotta run, I have a session but Alice, I am going to try and respond to your comment tomorrow!
hugs, Darlene


Hmmm…. about the disorder conversation… I’m not sure either that hiding certain characteristics necessarily means then that it’s not a true disorder. What about psychopathy? That’s considered a disorder apparently. I believe it’s often said of serial killers, oh he was such a nice person, etc. And they obviously do a heck of a lot to hide their true selves and don’t uncontrollably kill anybody and everybody they come across. They are in control, they make decisions, they are criminally responsible. You wouldn’t say that a serial killer wasn’t a true psychopath because he was in control of his actions. No, he’s both in control of his actions and a psychopath. But there’s a difference between characteristics of a certain disorder vs. the idea of “symptoms,” because I think we often get stuck thinking of this stuff like a sickness, illness. Targeting the vulnerable isn’t a symptom; it’s a characteristic. The penchant to abuse is a part of the disorder; it’s the symptom, if anything is. The actual acting on it is not a symptom. It’s a choice…. It seems to me that psychopathy or narcissism are much, much different than, say, schizophrenia or autism. I think there are people who if anyone got to know them really well, they’d eventually see, and be victim to, the narcissism but that on the surface the person could also be otherwise, depending on the situation, what’s in it for the narcissist (not that they actually are otherwise; it’s just what’s at the surface). Personally I don’t really care about the labels. Disorders like schizophrenia and autism have a place for me, but ones like narcissism, I see more as a cementing of bad characteristics and habits that could have been otherwise but over time and through choice become solid. That’s just my opinion.

Alice, I think that of course you can have compassion for both the abuser and the victim but the abuser (or the abuser’s protector) doesn’t really want your compassion; they want your compliance. I’m not even sure if my mom is capable of understanding my compassion when I expressed it to her, but it certainly never seemed to mean anything to her. Compassion itself was never really what she wanted. But if she could manipulate my compassion to get what she actually wanted, great. Same goes with my grandma. I can adopt the perspective of anybody, I think. In fact, when I first meet someone, I will automatically fit myself to their perspective (this is why I often become a pet, I suppose) and it’s often only over time that I start to differentiate my own perspective. I realize how bad this actually can be… but at any rate, people love you when you mirror back their own perspective, but if you understand their perspective, can fully inhabit it, have empathy, and yet also see something glaringly wrong with it (how it goes against the face of some very particular truth) and speak up about that, they won’t care one damn bit that you understand, can fully inhabit and have empathy, because what they want is for their perspective to rule over all other facts. They love your understanding when your understanding means that they get to keep what they want. But if it doesn’t mean that, then they really have no use for your understanding or for you.


Alaina, Autism is a personality disorder and personality disorders are classified by certain inborn behaviors that make it difficult for the disordered person to connect with others. Brain imaging show brain abnormalities in people with NPD and ASPD that limit their capacity for empathy. That’s the part of the disorder that I don’t think my dad can help. I also, don’t believe it clears him of responsibility toward other people. However, I do think it must be a terrible handicap to be born with and I hope that someday, they are able to help children born with this kind of brain abnormality. I don’t hate my dad but I do hate the way he treated me. I have compassion for him but I had to learn to have compassion for myself too.

It’s a complicated issue but it’s hard to read an article about mothers blaming their kids for their own wrong doing and not think about my dad’s NPD because that is classic narcissist behavior and something I suffered a great deal from.



Alice, I’ve also been thinking of your questions re:unconscious or intent. What about subconscious? For me, it’s more about subconscious. Unconscious means complete unknowing, and I don’t think there’d be so many patterns of behaviour that link to a motive in that case. Being completely conscious about everything and doing so with intent definitely doesn’t fit my family. There’s also a kind of desired “unknowing,” of seeing something and looking away, explaining it as something else, never putting it all together, so as to avoid bringing all the puzzle pieces together. I think I was wanting my parents to recognize what role they put me in, how they did it, what subconscious needs/desires they groomed me for… along the way this pattern of behaviour certainly was comprised of conscious actions and expectations, and certainly there were also signs of damage on my end, but they always had explanations (just my personality, for example). For me, the question I’ve had for them has been why didn’t you look closer, with all these factors. And my answer is because they didn’t want to. It may have been a subconscious desire for me to play a certain role but there was a conscious effort to push back any idea that suggested that maybe the role I was playing wasn’t naturally from my own desire and personality and that maybe there was something wrong (at the same time of course if I wanted to break my own role, then I came face to face with control tactics… but somehow they still want to claim the overall outcome was just natural). They may be steeped in denial but their motives are clear to me from where I’m standing. If they a clear-eyed vision of what they were doing and still chose to do, then yes, they’d be sociopaths. I think denial is what protects us “normal” (i.e wounded but not sociopathic) people from seeing the shameful things we’re doing that we still want to continue doing out of our weaknesses, greed/selfishness, fear, whatever. What’s awful is seeing how far people will hold onto their denial in the face of so much pressure. People protect what’s important to them, and in their denial they are protecting something more important than us—perhaps their image, the story of themselves they want to be able to tell, their position.


Yes, Alaina, all that you’ve said.

My therapist says that they will never, ever be able to see the truth, because if they did, they could not handle seeing themselves as dysfunctional people. I have come to see the fault in a system, a dysfunctional system, rather than as individually sociopathic. I can’t help but have especially sorrowful feelings about how my mother has treated me as one expects some kind of unconditional love from their most primary of relationships and having experienced rejection from my mother is soul-sucking. According to family systems theory, it is usually the co-dependent of the addict (my mother) who selects the family scapegoat.

All of this is done on a completely subconscious level.

I have a special feeling of resentment for my mom because this made my life a living hell. My husband also comes from a family in which his father was a severe alcoholic. He says there is no scapegoat in his family of 9 kids, not even the alcoholic sister or the brother who has never had a job but lives on mom’s pension. He says none of them is the scapegoat and no one is teased or disrespected. (He says they are dysfunctional in other ways, but I have not seen what and he does not elaborate). So in some ways, was my mom’s chosing me as a scapegoat her choice? Or was she not as strong as my mother-in-law?It might have to do with the fact that my family was from an exclusive church in which they felt they were special “chosen” people (another weird story altogether) and so it was just part of the religious dysfunction that called out for someone to do penance.


Hi Alaina!

That’s an interesting distinction between subconscious and unconscious. I see the latter as being ‘just not being aware’ of whatever it is you’re doing and not even knowing that you’re not aware.

I think there’s a case to made that until you question yourself, or bring awareness to your own thoughts and feelings and actions, whatever those are in any moment, most things are unconscious by default.

I know that I must still be filled with many unconscious ways of being and thinking and feeling because after the fact – usually because I’m in some unwanted situation by that point, I find myself going ‘why on earth did I think/do/feel/say that?? And sometimes it’s even while it’s happening.

I can only watch, no way of changing whatever is going on. But sometimes it does slip over into “I know exactly what I’m doing and here’s the reason why” (even if the ‘reason’ is really stupid or misguided or bogus or selfish or borne out of fear or habitual responses – which you guessed it, come from the way I was brought up…) I’d call that ‘subconscious’.

And then there is full on deception where I know exactly what and why something is going on and I make no attempt to do otherwise. But again the ‘reasons’ tend to be not very well considered. I’d put my mother into this latter category, more often than not.

I believe that my mother, being the control freak she was, couldn’t accept not being in control at all times (even adding me to her list of things needing to control) and so her denial reflected that.

Today I was reading some mothers’ forums about “unaffectionate children” and how much some of the mothers were hurt by this because they were counting on those kids to give them affection they had not received themselves. There was nothing unconscious or subconscious about it.


HI Pam, I know what you’re saying, but I also know that there are also studies that suggest certain genes and brain abnormalities are not fixed in stone, not at all absolute. So the brain imaging, did it follow a succession of images from childhood to adulthood? I think some cases it could be concrete from birth, no hope. I’ve also heard that a study of violent criminals all showed a certain gene activated; however, conversely, not all people with this gene are violent criminals, i.e. something in the violent criminal’s life had to activate it (which also suggests that perhaps something in their life could deactivate it, or perhaps not, perhaps once it’s activate, it’s activated). I’m not a neuroscientist. I’m just saying that even the science shows that these things are not so set in stone. Perhaps if Darlene had a brain scan done when she had DID, it would show something, too? Our brains are capable of change, healing, growth, just as our bodies are—to a degree, to limits, yes. There are amazing stories about autistic people who were completely stuck in themselves find their way to the surface with help. They’re still autistic but there’s obvious growth…. I did read the description of your dad’s childhood that you wrote a while back and of course I don’t know your dad, but I could honestly see how the circumstances of his childhood could bring about an abusive character. Personally, I don’t think it takes that much. For me, a physical deformity, plus abuse from your peer group, plus parents who indulge you, plus lack of adequate help through the experience of peer bullying and whatever core pain there, repeated over and over through time, plus alcoholism, etc., is enough… but perhaps that says something about me, about what I consider to be human nature, that I don’t necessarily need to talk about disorders. Of course it would go without saying that the person isn’t healthy and something is wrong in their brain, though it may just be the physical manifestation of what’s been happening over time. Again, I don’t know your dad and certainly you’re more in a position to say anything than I am… just speaking in general. This is just my opinion, that I’m less inclined to look at things through the lens of disorders or to see any of this stuff as inflexible. I think when it comes to the human mind, there can be incredible flexibility, given the right (or wrong) set of criteria. I remember lacking empathy at multiple points in my life and what it “felt” like not to feel something when I knew I was supposed to for someone else’s pain and realizing something was required of me and trying to fake it. You can find empathy in two year-olds, but I also think empathy is something life circumstances can shut down. I say that because it was true of me. That’s not to say that there aren’t people whose empathy is and was forever and forever broken down, never to be developed.


Pam and Alaina, I’m definitely counting on the idea that brains and bodies can heal and change!


Hi Eira, I agree with you about seeing things as a dysfunctional system. And then I’d say you become the system, integrate it into yourself, then continue it on. Or you don’t. You break it. Crises can bring opportunities to change because they can make cracks in your identity. I guess what I get so upset about with my parents is that nothing ever was enough to make them rethink things. If what happened to me made cracks into their identity, which I think it did (based on their reactions), they patched that up, and it wasn’t about me but about the cracks made to the purpose I served, so that they had to make a new story to explain me.

I think maybe it’s not so much a question of choosing to make someone a scapegoat, so much as stopping yourself from doing it. I don’t think anybody would think, I need a scapegoat, you’re a good candidate, I’ll get away with it with you (even though that might be true). I think it’s like what Alice was saying, that point when things start to slip over and you realize what you’re doing… but in this case, they find reasons to justify themselves, instead of correcting their behaviour, looking into it, trying to understand it, change it.

Alice, I liked your breakdown of various stages of knowing/not knowing! I’m on board with all that. My mother, also a control freak…. The forum you were on, about them, I’d say they are severely misguided. I think there’s that element in my family, too, that in their eyes, yes, children are supposed to do these specific things to give affection to the parents, that that’s part of the deal of getting to be born is that you reimburse them in these ways. So there was also that element of wanting to show my parents that that kind of belief system is highly faulty because rather than helping anything, it perpetuates the wounding of one generation after another.


I know it sounds very sad, but if I had known when I first realized I was the family scapegoat that it would continue on until I was an adult with teenage children (and I’m still scapegoated, I’m just not around to see it) I think I would have lost the will to live. I’m so glad I had hope. In fact, I lived for the day that I would have equal value to the other members of my family and someday I would be an equal family member instead of a 2nd class citizen. I still held out hope even when I first walked away that they would see their mistake. They’re not coming back for me and I have to go on!


Alaina, could this be where the idea that children are “ungrateful” comes from? I mean, obviously as a very young child, you’re not going to be very helpful around the house or businessplace or farm or factory…:)

You might also not be able to take on childcare (although I wonder how many really young kids are given full responsibility for caring for younger siblings when they can barely keep a watch out for themselves?) but you can ‘give’ in other ways. Except if for whatever reason you can’t.

My mother called me ‘ungrateful’ way before I was of any real economic or household use to her and it’s funny, she hasn’t dared suggest that to me as an adult, although there have been other ‘arguments’ made such as my ‘selfish’ choices and my lack of a sense of duty and family. And I wonder if it wasn’t because of this emotional need of hers that I couldn’t satisfy.


It might be. My parents constantly told us we were “ungrateful” even though we asked for astonishingly little. Sometimes when we went on field trips for school they request we bring a few dollars for lunch and the bus would stop at a McDonalds and I would get just one small hamburgers (it was like 60 cents back then) and then I would have about $2.50 left over and I would buy something for my mom at the museum gift shop instead. I don’t know why I did this, I suppose I thought I could earn her approval and her love but she didn’t have it to give.

I remember when my son was a newborn and my mom was talking to her sister, whose oldest daughter was expecting her first within a few weeks. I was only a few feet away and my mom is complaining to her sister about me. She said, “Do you find it annoying when your daughter is pregnant?” My aunt replies, “No, why should I find it annoying, it’s part of life, I’m excited for it.” And my mom said, “When Eira was expecting, I felt that she wanted me to APPROVE of her, or something. Well, I don’t have that to give.”

And now, over 20 years later, I realized…my mom NEVER had that to give. Ever. Not when I was 10 with little giftshop kniknacks and not at 24 and not at 44. If she is still alive when I am 54 I doubt she will have it then. And she wasn’t treated like that with her own mother. Her own mother treated her well.

I’m so grateful for my kids.


*Alaina,Eira,…regarding the Scapegoat in the FOO, from what I have experienced as well as read up on the subject (I am the family SG as I suspect a lot of us here on this forum are)…it’s not that complicated. If we view the entire FOO (and extended) as a SYSTEM…then… dysfunctional family system NEEDS a SG because otherwise…the focus would be on all the dysfunction that, many times, is so very obvious. Whether or not the SG is picked consciously or sub/unconsciously etc is besides the point. The real issue is that the SG serves a vital function because we were the garbage can of the FOO, the fall guy, the one who is blamed for everything that the dysfunctional adults do. In my case…I absolutely think both my “parents” knew that they were scapegoating me…they treated me so obviously different from my other siblings that even I picked up on it at a very young age. I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t articulate it…but I knew there was a pecking order and I was at the bottom.My siblings picked up on it as well. Now…of course…my “parents” probably didn’t sit down and discuss that they were going to do this to me or …they probably didn’t even know the word “scapegoating” etc… but I firmly believe that they knew they were treating me very differently…they knew they were abusing me because they didn’t do it publicly. They had their private persona(their TRUE selves) and the public one they put on for everyone (the false/facade).
From everything I have read…the very fact that there is a SG in the FOO is a red flag signalling a dysfunctional family system. And what I now realize (in my FOO anyways) is that NO-ONE was LOVED!!I had always thought that the other siblings were loved to some small degree but as I get to the bottom of things…I see the truth that no-one was loved (including my “parents”). The adults had no capacity to love and the children were never loved. In my FOO…I used to think the biggest secret was my “mother’s” numerous infidelities, the sexual abuse, conceiving me in her extra-marital affair, my “father’s” raging alcoholism etc etc. But what I now firmly believe is the biggest secret everyone is trying to hide from each other and themselves…is that they were never loved. I think…deep down…they KNOW..but that’s where the denial, NPD, abuse, etc etc come in. They build all these defenses/coping mechanisms so that they don’t have to face that truth. And now…I think that I was the one who got off the easiest of all. Because I was the SG all my life, because I was always treated so blatantly different and abusively…I NEVER had any illusions that I came from a functional family. In other words…I always knew that my childhood was an abusive one. I was never under any illusion that it was normal or happy or safe or
good. I ran away from home at 17 and left as soon as I could. I think the fact that I saw the truth was what saved me. Not that the road was easy or that I didn’t veer off into the ditch so many times…but I GOT OUT!!! And I am so grateful and relieved…I count my blessings every single day. Not that it is easy…but living in the truth is infinitely easier than living in a cesspool of lies. A palace built on a swamp is still an awful place to be. xxx


*S1988-yes…I, too, used to try to piece together my parent’s childhoods. But there was absolutely NO WAY I could do it!! Besides the fact that everyone was in denial and no-one would speak the truth about anything…I realized that even if I magically had a movie camera of their childhoods…it really wasn’t going to help me out at all. At the end of the day…I still had to deal with the severe abuse and trauma I suffered…my entire childhood was an emotional holocaust. It really didn’t matter what my so called parents went through and their parents before them etc etc. They (as adults) made choices about how they were going to parent as have we. And their choices were consistently abusive.
P.S. That’s one of the great things about this forum…we get to see so many different angles, facets, experiences etc. I am constantly learning and growing and expanding my perspective on things:)


” And she wasn’t treated like that with her own mother. Her own mother treated her well.”

What do you mean by “well”? I know she picked up mean behavior somewhere. If not by her mother, maybe by another caretaker. As far as I know, scientists have yet discovered an “abuse” gene. Cruelty is learned, not inborn.


Yes, it doesn’t matter much how my parents were treated except for one thing: Their pasts and their actions taught me that denial only helps the abusers, not the victims, and how NOT to raise children. That’s probably the only thing I can thank them for.


Alaina, I agree that the brain is incredibly plastic but I also, think certain brain abnormalities are genetic and predispose people towards developing certain personality disorders. I also, agree that it is more than that. There was just something fundamentally, different about my dad and I’ve seen that fundamental difference repeated in my family, along with other genetic characteristics he possessed. That is why I feel so strongly that the empathy aspect of his disorder is inherent. I can’t also, help but wonder if the right kind of rearing could have helped him develop a greater capacity for empathy. Not that I think his parents were bad parents but children with special needs require specialized training. People with cluster B personality disorders are considered to be largely, untreatable. No one knows how to reach them to help them.

I also, can see how his life could have led him to the place where he chose to abuse others as a way to cope with his pain. It made him feel powerful, when he felt weak, and he became addicted to that feeling of power over others. It is never just one thing.



About what kind of disorder abusers have.I fear that my father is more than a narc as he’s showing symptoms of a psychopath.He seems to like violence and the people who act on it.He agrees with the terrorists’ attacks with bombs in other countries.I’m talking about extremists who take hostages and take innocent lives in a blink of an eye.He says that people who provoke the terrorists are at fault and that they got what they deserved.He is totally blind to the fact that an insult,be it religious or of any type,should not lead to mass crimes.He also suggested public executions for those who broke the law.One day he made a remark on education.He said that,in ancient times,if a child was born ill,he was immediately killed and thrown into the garbage.Thus,in his oppinion,society was much healthier and did not spend money on “broken individuals” by simply not letting them live.I underline the fact that he blurted all this in daily conversation and that he was not in a rage.On the contrary,he was very calm.I think that sadism and cruelty indicate something much uglier than narcissism.

And another thing.Abusers know what they are doing,or at least mine do.My sister is a golden child.She recently got a new job,and her boss is a bully.She described her work situation to our parents.She complained about how her boss puts her down etc.Our parents told her that it was emotional abuse,something that will harm her health and her marriage.They advised her to speak up for herself and to set boundaries.This is clear proof that abusers know exactly the amount of damage they do and the lifetime consequences.

Hearing my parents talk to my sister like that and giving her sane advice,i was shocked.Now i feel no more pity for them,for their illness.They do have a pathology,but they are aware of everything they do and should be held accountable for their actions.In a court of law,they would not be able to plead insanity to get out of jail.I don’t care if their brain look differently or if they feel no empathy because they have a medically proven handicap,like neurology is trying to prove.

Returning to my sister.My abusers don’t speak english.In my native language,there’s no info about emotional abuse.So they couldn’t have read anything online,and then repeat the info back to my sister.Abusers’ brain is wired for evil,so they can’t use such an excuse for their lame behavior:”Oh my child,i can’t love you because,poor me,my brain is dysfunctional and i don’t have the necessary tools”.Pathology is just another excuse that abusers use to justify evil.


Anon, it’s interesting. I was “golden” for a while as well as being “black sheep”. My brother has also cycled through those labels. Golden was “whoever is pleasing at the time doing what we want” and “black sheep” meant the one (or several) who were not doing whatever was deemed the desired thing for them. I did feel that the family always had to have a “problem person” in it at any given time but it wasn’t always the kids and could also be an extended family member or someone close to them. Funnily enough, “mother” was never herself “the problem”.

Coming out of that, it’s clear that I’ve adapted a tendency (thankfully working hard on that) to blame myself for anything “wrong” in the vicinity, anyone’s upset as well as a desire to please people. (Especially the worse they treat me, that’s really damn annoying). And then on top of those behaviours, I dislike that about myself. So a sprinkle of self-hatred gets added. But I have made progress with all this.


*Alice…YES!! Because the entire system NEEDS a SG…if the main SG leaves, goes NC etc…the system will replace him/her with another one (and it doesn’t have to be a child). I think it usually is a child because of the vulnerability; it has to be the weakest person in the system. Someone who won’t speak up, who can’t/won’t leave, who won’t call things out etc. I have been NC for many years…and what I now see is that I have an aunt (who was also a flying monkey) who desperately tried to pull me back in because when I was gone…she (and her kids) became the SG of the larger system (FOO + extended). What I had thought was love and concern for me in my younger years…I now see as her trying to pull me back in so that she would not get SG *I don’t think any of this was conscious.
From what I have read of Flying Monkey personality traits (and I couldn’t find a whole lot out there)…they seem to have numerous personality disorders as well.Also…they are so much a part of the dysfunctional system, they are so in denial…they often don’t know they are being manipulated and used by the NPD person to be the FM.But after a particularly horrible FM attack on me many years ago (this was way before I had even heard of FM, NPD or NC) …I ended up getting off the phone with my aunt and feeling so awful (crying, angry…I felt as if I had been horribly violated and attacked…and of course, I was!!). But I tried to “figure” out what was going on. I came up with every possible angle from “she’s just really stupid” to a million other things. But the conclusion I came up with that intuitively felt right to me was this…I knew that what she had done to me, she would NEVER have done to her daughter. So…on some level…she knew what she was doing. And then…I reasoned that…I don’t care WHY she did it…I simply was not going to put up with it anymore…so I went NC with everyone (without even knowing what NC was!!) simply as a way to protect myself and save my sanity.
*I also now see that the GC is simply an extension of the NPD parent and they are not loved either but because they (as we all do in a dysfunction family) have such a false belief/understanding of love…they accept that as being loved. So…in the end…like I said…I think I got off the easiest because I GOT OUT!!!


S1988 My Mom was mistreated by a sister who was her father’s golden child. My mother, however, was treated well by her own mother. Her father didn’t mistreat her, exactly, but he showed very preferential treatment to her sister older and her sister younger than her and ignored my mom. We often heard the stories about how her sisters were treated better by her father and how her sisters mistreated her. It was sort of like she allowed or encouraged the same replication to happen in her own family and to place me in the same spot as she had been placed. However, my mom’s mom didn’t cruelly cut down my mom or anyone. I saw a lot of interaction between them over the years and my mom often talked about people she thought mistreated or slighted her and she never mentioned any bad feelings about her mom, or even her dad, except that she felt he ignored her.


Today I was reading some mothers’ forums about “unaffectionate children” and how much some of the mothers were hurt by this because they were counting on those kids to give them affection they had not received themselves. There was nothing unconscious or subconscious about it.

And therein lies the problem. You CANNOT expect children to make up for what you are missing. This is what I think my mom was trying to do with me.

Also, all of Darlene’s posts remind me of a pet peeve I have with supervisors. Sometimes you work on a project thinking that you have all the information you need. Then, you find out you are missing some key information. Well, you “didn’t know that you didn’t know.” But then the supervisor says, “If you didn’t know why didn’t you ask me?” Um…. I didn’t ask because I wasn’t aware I was missing a key piece of information…….. I just hate it when supervisors do the “if you didn’t know why didn’t you ask” thing.


Laura, What I’ve been trying to express is that I had to understand that my dad was accountable for his abusive actions towards me even though, he has a personality disorder. I think he is emotionally handicapped, from birth, and I think everyone in the family sensed that. People in the family let a lot of things slide because he seems totally, unable to get it on a very basic level. Not holding him accountable, I believe, did nothing to help his handicap but caused his disorder to become more entrenched. Not holding him accountable and blaming myself sure didn’t do anything to help either of us!

My dad also, has many anti-social aspects to his personality, I think it is impossible to button-hole anyone. Human beings and human behavior is complex. However, catering to a handicap does nothing to help the handicapped person learn to negotiate the world and I think the same holds true for people born with a predisposition towards certain personality disorders. Even though there are others in my family who I believe inherited this same pre-disposition to low empathy, none of them are exactly the same kind of people and not all of them have the same full-blown disorder that my dad has. All of them though, including me, are responsible for our actions.



It’s true,Pam.We are all responsible for our actions.When an individual does not have a leg,for example,he will get a prothesis.He will struggle and do anything in his power to be human.But abusers who lack the ability to love never do anything to acquire it.

About your father.Was he officially diagnosed? If so,how was he convinced to go to a doctor?



Thanks for clearing that up. That doesn’t excuse how she treated you, but I never heard of or met a mean person who comes from a nice, stable family. I don’t think such a person exists. Besides, what’s the point of stopping the abusive cycle if genes alone are to blame? Both nature and nurture shapes a person’s psyche.


“And therein lies the problem. You CANNOT expect children to make up for what you are missing. This is what I think my mom was trying to do with me.”

You can say that again. It’s very selfish to bring new life into the world so that they can fill a void. Parents are supposed to support children, not the other way around. My mother works in a very similar way. She claims to be very well-loved as a child, but practically depends on her offspring for companionship. People who are truly loved don’t use their children as substitute parents. No one asks to be born, so no one is obligated to meet the demands others just because they share some DNA.


S1988, My dad was a very cruel person with nice parents but I know others were cruel to him, as a child. That’s according to things he told me about other children. Life in general, was cruel to him in some ways. I never meant to imply that he became a cruel man because of a cruel gene. What I do know is that my grandparents weren’t cruel, abusive people. He was very cruel and abusive to them, just like he was to the rest of us. I watched my grandmother agonize over his condition and behavior, as she searched for answers. Not that she bad-mouthed my dad to me because she didn’t but I knew her well and saw her pain. In those days, mothers were blamed for all mental illness and behavioral disorders. That has proven to be false because human behavior is more complicated than that. I’m sure my grandmother made mistakes and did things she shouldn’t but she wasn’t one to blame her behavior on others and not take responsibility for wrong-doing. I never saw her be abusive to anyone. I never saw my grandfather abuse anyone either. It was my dad who chose to abuse everyone. Whether he was genetically predisposed or taught abusive behavior, he chose to abuse people to make himself feel better. It doesn’t matter why, he’s still accountable. He’s the one to blame for the things he did to hurt people.

I’m sorry if I brought something up that confuses the issue. That wasn’t my intention.



DXS and S1988, my mother seemed to change in that respect over the years. I really felt her emotional dependency (the draining kind) on me much later on whereas before it had been neglect and control. She would also often call me because she told me she felt better just talking to me. To begin with I was kind of happy to finally be of some use to her (after years of not making the cut) but after a while I couldn’t stand it. She would offload all her complaints onto me then thank me for my “support”. I also took a couple of vacations with her by herself and she wouldn’t give me a moment to myself. When I would express my need for time to myself she would disrespect it and/or start crying/shouting at me. That’s when I finally became convinced that she had serious issues.

While he was alive but before his illness took too much of a toll, my father would also tell me his problems and I got used to being a sort of a daughter-therapist with him too. For him, I kind of didn’t mind so much because we had similar opinions on things and I didn’t feel as drained after speaking with him but it was still inappropriate in some way.



I see what you mean. Even though his parents didn’t mistreat him, he was hurt by others. I just don’t like it when some people imply that meanness comes out of nowhere or from only genetics (and I’m not saying you’re one of those people.) Yes, even if one experiences cruelty, it doesn’t make it okay to seek out scapegoats to take one’s pain out on. I was bullied a lot during my K-12 years with no allies and short-lived friendships. (And even my mom implied it was my fault somehow.) It wouldn’t be okay for me to hurt other people and hide behind being bullied and coming from a dysfunctional household. Thanks for your input.


Sounds like my mother. She has been doing this since I was a kid. Yet, if I told her about problems at school, especially with my peers, she would scold me for it or give me pat answers. Well, I don’t have to do that anymore. She has my older siblings (the “good ones”) to cater to her now.


“It’s true,Pam.We are all responsible for our actions.When an individual does not have a leg,for example,he will get a prothesis.He will struggle and do anything in his power to be human.But abusers who lack the ability to love never do anything to acquire it.”

I like this example. I’m myopic, which I inherited from my father, but it’s my responsibility to obtain correctional lenses.

Abusers should take ownership of their actions and seek help instead of hurting others. They have the ability to do that. Unfortunately, it seems like few have the desire to.


Those were some great examples of ‘responsibility’ vs blame!
I also went through a period of feeling very resentful that *I* have to deal with this after ‘their’ actions. I know that it put a damper on my desire to do so. But it’s so worth doing.


S1988, That’s exactly, what I was trying to say.:0)Thank you.

Alice, It was important for me to place blame for being abused where it belonged but it wasn’t blaming anyone that has helped me get better. It was figuring out why I thought the way I did and doing my inner work that has helped me. It’s my dad’s style to throw all of his problems outward onto others. It makes him feel better about himself, in the moment, but it keeps him sick. I think he’s allergic to responsibility…



Hi Pam,
Thanks for writing more. I think we’re more or less on the same page. It’s a tricky subject. What’s true is that no matter who your child is, as a parent, your job is to try to understand and help your child to become their best. From the sounds of it, your grandparents were likely very well-meaning. For whatever plethora of reasons, including their own mistakes and failures, they were not able to help your dad, and your dad in turn chose not to deal with his nature (however that nature came to be, in all the complex ways our natures are formulated). As an adult, he is responsible for all of his actions; that is the bottom line, as you rightly make very clear. I think in our own way, all of us humans have our own special needs, unique to each of us. The point is to care about those needs, find what helps, and love ourselves for who we are. Many of the things that are cast in a negative light can also become gifts. Too often we’re met with the mentality that our needs are what’s wrong with us, what should be forced to change. As a result, those needs usually become even greater. One thing is for sure that even as we are unique, we are also not unique, and so each of us who manages to find our way through our experience of our lives and of our selves to a healthier, more peaceful and settled reality has something to offer others. Everyone’s life has challenges; it’s what you do with them that counts.

Speaking of autism a few times, I read this article not that long ago (it’s an old article, though). I found it quite moving and I think is pertinent to what we’re talking about, too. We all need to work with ourselves. We grew up in households where we were supposed to mould ourselves to fit the ways of others and ultimately there was no real adjusting and adapting that we could do to make it work, not for them (because nothing could ever be enough) and not for us. Here’s this link, if you’re interested, or anybody is.


I want to comment about the role of understanding the background and motivations of your scapegoaters. I think it might go with a commmon trajectory, perhaps it is a bit like the stages of grief one goes through in a death, something one naturally goes through when they go through a discovery that their family is a dysfunctional system and they are the scapegoat. Not everyone passes through all the stages. (Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist so this is my theory only).

Stage One: Scapegoat tries to understand history of parental scapegoaters, what their childhood was like, the abuses they went through, etc. This is a long phase in many cases and many people stop there. This stage really only keeps the scapegoat inside the family system playing out their role. They believe if they can only understand their abusers, they can feel less angry and tolerate the emotional and verbal abuse, other abuse.

Stage Two: Scapegoat begins to wake up and realize that they are in a programmed role and they are no more flawed than the rest of the family. They began to try to enact boundaries and may seek therapy. The further along the scapegoat goes in the recovery of their self-esteem and self-identity (or maybe these are emerging for the first time!) the abuse on the scapegoat heats up and the dial is turned up on the gaslighting, the wagons are circled, the scapegoat’s personal networks are infiltrated, etc. Scapegoat may go in to limited contact with his family.

Stage Three: Scapegoat either caves and returns to scapegoat role in family, only may even be further punished for daring to break away and goes back into Stage One. Reversely, scapegoat may even go no contact with the family or become estranged from the family. This is done as a measure of self protection to maintain the scapegoat’s newly formed identity and self-esteem. Scapegoat battles feelings of loneliness but has her first real sense of freedom.


I also took a couple of vacations with her by herself and she wouldn’t give me a moment to myself. When I would express my need for time to myself she would disrespect it and/or start crying/shouting at me. That’s when I finally became convinced that she had serious issues.

My mom, too! My mom makes the following assumptions:

1. Since I’m single, I’m “required” to spend both major holidays (Thx & Chr) with “the family.” I’m not allowed to spend one just for me. Of course, when I lived 3,000 miles away, this got waived, but I was still expected to show up for ONE of the two holidays. (Of course now I don’t do either!)

2. If I take two weeks off for Christmas, I SHOULD be spending that entire time with “the family.” She did not see the need for me to have “time to myself” during those two weeks.

I used to jokingly say that if the pet dog had kittens, I would be required to come over. (yes, pet dog had kittens, that is what I said…..)

Ok, I understand that we don’t want to be our parents’ therapists, but I WISH my mom would tell me of her demons so I can understand her.

@Eira: Holy cow, I recognize your Scapegoat stages. I’m in Stage two.


Eira, yey for stage 3:) But I know that if I went back it would be right back into stage two. I liked your description!
Alaina, wonderful post. Of course when I read the article I thought “Maybe THAT’s my problem! Maybe I have mild Aspergers or something. But it’s just my “goto” to search for what “must” be wrong with me. Even after all this time. So maybe I’m not really in Eira’s stage 3 quite exactly:)

DXS, my mother also assumed that because I was single I was to come visit them at every opportunity. This lead to me thinking “Maybe I would get more respect if I had a family” and since my mother was kind of disappointed that I wasn’t married with kids, I also beat myself up about it. But like Oliver, I see the “family” as a trap. I can’t ever see myself in one of any kind. I definitely fear I’d end up in a bad position if I ever joined someone else’s. Since going NC I finally have my vacations back and I don’t feel guilty for taking them. But it has taken NC!!


Miranda and Alaina,

What you two said back in posts 371 and 377 related to me and helped me put to words why I was feeling like something was missing, even though my brother who had bullied me has been much better then he had ever been in the past.

Have either of you (or anyone else for that matter) run into a situation where the other party doesn’t know what to apologize for and so they want you to tell them what it is that’s made you so “upset”?

My story;

I had a bit of a confrontation with my brother after a few years of him not directly bullying me. During the course of the conversation he finally stated that he wants to forget any past incidents and start a clean slate. When I said that some things couldn’t move on until certain parties apologized (I didn’t mention any names or state it was him directly I had issues with) it eventually came around to him telling/demanding that I make a list of things he needs to apologize for.

I don’t know if this is the right direction or not. I feel like if I make a list, I become the petty party and that I’ll get a verbal apology if only out of his desire to smooth things over for me. I feel like I don’t want an apology for individual incidents, but for the overall blanket attitude that has covered a lot of our relationship. I’ve never charted this territory before; any insight from someone who’s had experience would be wonderful.


Hmm. I never thought of the scapegoat role as having a set of stages. Good hypothesis.

If I were to place myself in a stage, I would say I’m at Stage Three. I went NC for four years during the first round of estrangement. During this time, I felt guilty and a bit lonely, and hoped for my family to see the errors of their ways. I received emails and holiday cards from my mother. In them, she would beg me to come back or state how she missed me. After I hit a financial snag, I decided to take my cat and move in with my mother, feeling a little scared, but hopeful that she changed. It started out okay, but after a while, she guilt-tripped me for “being a bad girl for running away from home.” (She didn’t say this exactly, but she implied it.) When my siblings came to visit us, I found out that they still defended her. I felt like such a fool and felt trapped since I couldn’t afford to move out.

After a year and three months, I saved up money and am now living with three roommates. (Not my most ideal choice, but it’s better than living with my mother and I hope to have my own place in a few years. Where I live is kind of pricey to live alone if one can’t afford it. And at least my cat can stay with me.)

It took a lot of putting my foot down, but my mom hasn’t contacted me so far, and neither has my siblings.

About having my own family: One reason I remain childless is that I don’t want my son/daughter to be raised by an insecure mom. My other fear is that since in my mother feels that she owns me, she’d probably think my child belongs to her, too. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I’m afraid that she’d want to see my hypothetical child because she feels entitled to and that he/she is a relative. That’s not something I want to worry about. Same goes with my siblings. Besides, I don’t want to bear the burden of having to take care of another human for the next 18+ years. I guess my cat is the closest to a son I will ever have. At least my family aren’t as possessive of him. 🙂


S1988, when you have kids, they are 1) either ignored and treated like a lesser grandchild/niece/nephew (which is how one of my brothers treated my child) or 2) treated especially well, as a grooming process to get your own child to eventually turn against you. This is how my my most severe scapegoaters, my mother and younger golden child sister, has treated my child, as if they were trying to “save” my child from an incompetent mother. They did not respect my boundaries as a parent. When I told them I did not want my child to have game boy for a birthday or Christmas present (because of his ADHD/dyslexic brain tends to get addicted to these systems) my sister covertly bought him a gameboy against my wishes and I did not know until he pulled it out in the car on the way home: “Hey mom, Aunt Pirjo bought me a game boy!” and then I would be the bad guy if I took it away. When my son graduated from high school, they tried to hijack the graduation party I was throwing for him with friends and extended family and tried to throw a competing graduation party in which they would have the extended relatives. (I handled that by telling my mom if this party was to go on I would never see her again and she believed me). Then, when I went low low low contact over a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back” incident, they individually had “talks” with my teenage son, to tell them “their” side of the story (i.e. your mom is crazy/delusional etc.). Thank God it did not work. Yet.

My son is now 21 and he is starting to understand it a bit and he is considering severing contact with all of them in the next year.


Hi Eira,

I liked your post #454. I also think there is a Stage 4 where the person who was abused grows in their self confidence to the point where they no longer are in fear of their abusers robbing them from their new found freedom and identity that opens up the door for possible reconciliation on a different level where the abused actually can transform the abuser into their healthy way of thinking and living instead of the other way around. I think that is what Joyce Meyer was able to accomplish and I think that is the ultimate freedom that not too many of us are willing to do due to the pain that our abusers caused us and the losses that we incurred because of their poor behavior.



I’m glad that your son has opened his eyes to their dysfunction and is distancing himself from them.

You wrote exactly what I fear if I had a child, that he/she would either be looked down on or be raised to not like me. I’m sorry you went through that, but your son saw through the facade. That’s wonderful.


Hi Alaina, Thanks for the link and I will read it. It is a subject that is important to me, plus how it relates to our discussion.

I’m sure my grandparents weren’t perfect and I know they were confused by my dad. It’s tough to have a special needs kid, with an undefined special need, and not know how to parent such a child. The one thing I don’t want to do is scapegoat my grandparents, instead of myself, for the things that only my dad is responsible for. My dad would probably be very pleased with that approach though.:0)

Eira, I think your stages of grief is right on. I spent a huge portion of my life trying to figure out why my dad was what he was. I guess, I thought if I figured it out, I could help him get better and thus, my life would be better too. That came from my enmeshed, co-dependent thinking. I had to do a lot of work on myself before I could see that the solution for me wasn’t tied to finding the cure for him. However, I did need to understand what made him tick so I could figure out how to break free of the enmeshment. It was definitely, a stage I had to pass through to get where I am now. I wish I’d have gone through it a little faster, though. lol! A piece of that was realizing that I didn’t need to give him a free pass because of his personality disorder and mental illness.



I read all the posts here and so many good points were being made but I also thought to myself that sometimes there is a lack of understanding when it comes down to our expectations of the mentally impaired. When you suffer from a particular disorder like I do it allows you to see people in a different way. I am not excusing people’s poor behavior and I would never condone any type of abuse and I believe until you are able to put the blame right where it belongs into your abusers laps, no matter what disorder that they suffer from, you will continue to blame yourself for their poor behavior and take it on as your own but what I also think is how is this person supposed to know that what they are doing is wrong when the very nature of what they got doesn’t allow them to MENTALLY be aware of it out of no fault of their own???

For example, to expect a narcissist to go ask for help is a lack of understanding on our part not theirs. The very nature of this disorder dictates that the whole world is the problem not them so why would they ask for help??? Why would they believe you if you were the one telling them that they are the problem? They wouldn’t. Is it right? NO but that is part of what being a narcissist is so to me my freedom lies in having a full understanding of what someone’s disorder entails and adjusting myself accordingly and protecting myself accordingly but not putting unattainable expectations on the person who suffers from that disorder because that isn’t going to help anyone including myself and I think that is what many of us do because we were so deeply wounded and hurt by them that we can’t see past our own pain to see that they can’t help what they are doing no matter how abusive it may be WHEN THEY SUFFER FROM A DISORDER and NPD is a disorder. It’s just one that is so heinous that none of us want to recognize it for what it is because so much damage is done to us at their hands. I’m not saying go out and hang around with a bunch of narcissists because that would be just plain stupid but I am not condemning them for being the way they are either because I know that they just don’t have the mental capacity to see that what they are doing is wrong.

I think until you suffer from a disorder where you are MENTALLY impaired in some way you will never fully understand just how frustrating it is to be judged by the world over things that you really don’t have any awareness over and to top it off the reason why you are mentally impaired is due to being abused by your own parents that caused your brain to be damaged. We don’t have the mental capacity to process information in the same way as others yet we are constantly being condemned for not being able to do it. It’s like a double whammy!! Disorders like borderline personality disorder, bi-polar, dissociative identity disorder, depression and yes being a narcissist all stem from childhood abuse. Genetics plays a role but the outside environment plays just as big of one.

We need more research and therapy and less judgment and persecution when it comes down to helping the mentally impaired and believe me I am not making excuses for anyone but mental illness is what it is!!



Kris, I think you’re right about there being a Stage #4. Right now I am just beginning Stage #3, and my mom/flying monkeys has gone so far as to try to infiltrate my new networks of people and it is very very creepy. I still live in fear. I started going to a new church and someone in that new church is related to my father, and he started saying things that made me realize “someone” has gotten to him. Or its my paranoia, but my gut is telling me that my folks have reached out to him even though he has only met them a handful of times in his life. I think my family is too dysfunctional to get to the point where Joyce Meyer was able to heal her family. But I wonder if Joyce’s family really “healed” or if her becoming a rich celebrity forced her out of the scapegoat role and if someone else in her family is now the scapegoat? I sort of doubt Joyce would admit to that. But the optimist in me hopes that sort of transformation is possible!

I do hope and pray one day that I will be to the point where I am so confident that I no longer fear my abusers’ ability to dismantle my life and create flying monkeys out of my friends and my spouse and kids. They came precariously close with my son and my stepson has never let them in close enough to do that. My stepson was beginning to warm up to my parents but they revealed themselves when there was an incidence that my husband and I were away and my stepson overheard them gossiping about me to some extended family. My stepson says he never wants to see my family again.


Although I know that in some cases there IS a medical condition, it is still really important to remember that even the mentally impaired are not exempt from the law. In the case of most parents talked about on this thread and in this website, there are so many ways that we can actually prove that they are in control of their actions and that is when the disorder is NOT comprehendible and therefore not helpful for the victim of said behaviour to try to understand it. I agree with you that most of these disorders have their roots in child abuse, but the way that you write this makes me think you are asking for understanding in the way of “putting up with abusive behaviour” because ‘they’ don’t actually have control of their actions. And understanding will never make the nasty treatment stop. I don’t think the conversations here are condemning sick people as much as the behaviour they dish out. At the end of the day, if I kept trying to understand my mother I would have died. As for me, I had depressions that were almost chronic, and I had been diagnosed with a few disorders too, but healing in the way I have completely dissolved those disorders and depressions. If I can heal, I believe so can most others including my mother, but I had to want to and so would she have to want to. Looking at it through that grid, it is total love for my parents that I stood up to them because the same truth that set me free could set them free but as long as I was in the fog of acceptance of their treatment through my endless efforts to understand, they had no motivation whatsoever to stop treating me that way. It isn’t that I have a judgement, it is that I simply decided that I would not accept that treatment anymore. And because I refused to accept that treatment anymore, my mother turned her back. I watched my mother control her abusive behaviour all my life so that proves she doesn’t have a true disorder but even if she did have a true disorder, my healing came from looking at the damage caused to ME and where it originated and that was a huge shift from always blaming myself and trying to understand and feel sorry for her.
thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Kris, I understand that many people are mentally impaired and perhaps cannot HELP that they chose me as a scapegoat. Part of going through stages #1 and #2 was to develop empathy for them and to understand that it was not my fault and that I am not any more mentally impaired than they are, and may be much healthier in fact.

I understand my parents are now senior citizens and they are unlikely to get help nor is it in their best interests psychologically to even understand that they essentially murdered my soul by scapegoating me. They couldn’t handle the shock. They essentially ruined my life and snuffed out my potential by crippling my self-esteem. They did do this. I am so glad that I can rebuild it and that I have time. I can do this. I have regret because I wish I had left them 20 years ago because I would be so much further ahead. But at least I am doing this now in my 40s.


Everyone, what if the child themselves is in some way predisposed to behavioral difficulties, shyness, sensitive etc? I don’t think that gives the parent any more excuse to mistreat them than if they are ‘normal’ developmentally.

I believe that in my case, my mother had simply no idea of what was ‘normal’ development for a child and confused most (if not all of the stages) with ‘badness’, ‘being difficult’, ‘willful’, ‘unaffectionate’, ‘selfish’ etc because she was looking at me from her view of what she *wanted* a child to be or what she expected a child to be, not what I (or I now suspect, any kid) actually was or is.

We’ve also talked about expectations going the other way, and there was a discussion about a suggestion that it’s not useful for a child to ‘expect’ to be loved and cared for by their parent. I’m confounded by this one, as the very survival of a child depends on expectations of organic care (and if we want to call that ‘love’ too) being met. It’s not a ‘take it or leave it’ option.

It’s been suggested before that in some respects, none of this is really ‘personal’ because in many cases the parents don’t see their kids as they really are. And I agree with that up to a point.
However, once I got to be of an age where I could engage with her about my experience, it would have been constructive for our relationship for her to listen to me. She didn’t want to. Resisted at all costs, including in the end, the relationship itself. My family seemed to share the same views of my place in it and I didn’t see, to have any other options.

I’m still at a loss that ‘society’ insists that this specific relationship ‘because it’s family’ be exempt from mutual care and respect and that the people who put a stop to their abuse by leaving such a relationship are criticized in ways that no other victim of an abusive relationship would be today (although in the past, and in many countries today it was and is very different).

We see domestic violence between spouses and practically yell “Get out! Why don’t you leave?!” at them. But kids leaving their abusive families, “Oh no! What disrespect and ingratitude for their families who have sacrificed so much!”


* Alice…you make some great points! I think, personally, it all comes down to our capacity to love. If we truly love ourselves and our children…then we accept them as they are and don’t see their shyness or sensitivity or whatever as flaws but as an intrinsic part of who they are…and their gifts, really. But in toxic, dysfunctional families…everything is sacrificed to keep the toxic system going. So basically…the children are ALL (the GC, the SG, Lost Child etc)…everyone is forced to fit into roles that sustain the illness of the family system. As for societal expectations etc…I worked in Social Services for years and saw some truly heinous situations regarding children. But the entire system is set up to keep children with their parents no matter what (except for extreme circumstances) or until they become extreme. It all has to change…and I have simply learned to not care about what other people think, their expectations for me etc. They have not walked in my shoes…and regardless…they are free to make their choices as am I. What I have discovered…is that…just as we view things through our experiences/beliefs etc…so does everyone else. But in the end…we have to do waht works for us. xxx


P.S. there is a current situation right now whereby a “mother” helped her husband rape her teen daughter so that the daughter could conceive…and the “mother” could then raise the daughter as her own!! The woman’s name is Misty Machinshok (you can google it) and I think the case just went to trial. There are so many of these is really quite abhorrent.


sorry…then the woman could then raise her grandchild as her own child. Just sick on so many different levels.


*Eira-you bring up some great points! I think I passed over step #1 (trying to understand my parental childhoods)…it is simply too convoluted and opaque. There is so much denial, rewriting of history, etc etc it can make me feel like I fell down the rabbit hole:) But, you are right, I went NC to protect myself and sanity…it was necessary. I have read up some stuff on SG (there really isn’t that much out there) and the consensus seems to be that even when the SG goes completely NC…you are still scapegoated but it’s not as effective. THe entire dysfunctional family system needs a SG right there to blame when things go wrong, to divert attention etc…or they will spin into So the FOO has to find another (more immediate) SG to fill that role. Not sure how true that is because once I went NC…i did so full bore. No info, no FM…no nothing. Best thing I ever did.
P.S. I came across this (it’s an excerpt) from Gail Meyers:
” What Happens If the Scapegoat Leaves?
If the scapegoat leaves, the discord in the remainder of the family often increases without the scapegoat there to buffer the friction. The other family members may turn on one another as the tension increases or someone else will be assigned the role. However, if you are the scapegoat and you leave the family that does not necessarily mean you will be let out of your assigned role.

A narcissistic mother may let you go, too easily, way too easily. This is to convey a demoralizing message that it does not really matter to her or that is the way she prefers it anyway. Watch your back for the smear campaign in this scenario because she is thinking about the situation completely differently than what you imagine. Her mind is likely on her image and making sure no one believes you and the real reason for the separation.

On the other hand, everyone may be exceptionally nice attempting to lure you back in, but the scapegoat should not fall for this deception. I fell for this one myself. Upon returning to the same state due to my mother’s insistence, my mother pulled one of the worst stunts she ever pulled on me. Her manufactured drama included falsely disparaging me to the entire extended family in a very convincing manner. She then proceeded to twist the facts and use it against me literally for the rest of her days. Her drama was so dramatically convincing no one even questioned the validity of it.

So do not fall for the playing nice to get you back routine. This is no different than any other abusive cycle of being nice for a bit when an abuser fears he or she has lost his or her victim. It is difficult, and you may be tempted to believe things have finally improved, but do not believe it.”
*She also says…”If you have already been shunned or ostracized see it as the blessing in disguise that it is.” And I have found that to be true…painful..yet true!


“Watch your back for the smear campaign in this scenario because she is thinking about the situation completely differently than what you imagine. Her mind is likely on her image and making sure no one believes you and the real reason for the separation.”

Wow, so very true in my case. Must google this Gayle Meyers. My parents went and sought out a woman in a town over an hour away from them to spread gossip and discord with me. It worked. The woman, a stranger, began regarding me as evil and began backstabbing me in a whole different community.


“On the other hand, everyone may be exceptionally nice attempting to lure you back in, but the scapegoat should not fall for this deception. I fell for this one myself…”

Oh, I made that mistake once. My story is in post #458. I hope to never do that again. As the adage goes: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”


Hi Darlene!

In #465 you wrote: “understanding in the way of “putting up with abusive behaviour” because ‘they’ don’t actually have control of their actions. And understanding will never make the nasty treatment stop.”

And I think the whole “understanding” idea became clear to me. I spent a lifetime trying to understand my family and the way they treated me so that I could figure out how to either put up with it without “letting it get to me” or use that understanding to appease them and get them to treat me better. There is no amount of understanding that will make either of those things happen. At least not while I was in the middle of the ongoing mistreatment!

Now that I’ve been NC for about a year, and healing, I’m finding ways of “understanding” THEM that help me recognize the things that weren’t my fault and aren’t my responsibility. It’s actually helpful to understand from this vantage point, and it does lead to forgiveness and peace, but I had to get to this point in my own recovery FIRST! I had to stop trying to understand them the way that I had tried at first for so long.

Maybe it’s not the same for everyone, but in my own experience there is an order or a sequence in which steps needed to be taken for the recovery to take hold. I don’t know how I could have ever seen the difference in one kind of understanding contrasting another without reaching past the step of just taking care of myself.

I hope I’ve shared something helpful to others, because I think I helped myself a bit with a new understanding of the word “understanding”.



Yes, you shared something helpful, Hobie. The truth, is that I dearly loved my parents and my siblings. I was so desperate to put up with anything and if I only explained things logically enough they would put aside those nasty ways with me and love me like I deserve. They always had a way of putting me down with every interaction. If I talked about something I had done, was interested, and that I loved, there was always a sibling and eventually an inlaw sneer and smart ass retort. My husband calls it being “streetsmart.” And I just am not that way. I would never make fun of peoples interests be it sports, dogs, carving wood, painting, orthinology. But they felt so free to make fun of everything I loved. The last time I had my parents and the sibling I tolerate the most over, they began making fun of a collection that I have that has to do with my hobby. I called my brother on it and began making fun of his hobbies. Boy, was he hot under the collar and thought he was going to huff out and leave. But he didn’t. I addressed him firmly and said, Just five minutes ago you were making fun of my collection. I love my collection and you love your _______ hobby, and it doesn’t feel good to have the things you love most ridiculed, now does it? Everyone looked so uncomfortable but I won that one.


Hobie, that was a good distinction you made. I think I have come to a kind of a similar understanding of the forces that made my mother the emotionally inept mother she was (very early neglect) but she also had her choice in the matter and allowed herself to take it in such a direction that it hurt me and continued doing so even when I brought it to her that it had hurt me. I still don’t understand that as much except maybe that the world around her enabled (and still does) her view of kids as being “in debt” to their parents or under obligation to obey and to serve them. Legality aside, I feel if parents weren’t encouraged in their entitlement and “ownership” over “their” kids, we might have a different result. If grown kids were no longer berated for going NC with an abusive parent, maybe parents would reign themselves in or realise that they risk losing the relationship if they don’t get help.

I recently had a conversation with a stranger who spent most of it telling me that since he had taught his kids that family was the most important thing in life that he was hopeful that when the time came they would care for him as he aged. I asked him how he had taught them that and he explained that he had done it by telling them, by obligating them and punishing them when they didn’t put family first. He was really looking for me to agree with him that this would guarantee his kids would be there for him later. I told him gently that his kids had probably learned a lot from the way he had cared for them and the examples he had set by his own actions. I have no idea whether this man’s kids will care for him in old age or not but he seemed to think that by telling them it would be enough.


Also Hobie said “I spent a lifetime trying to understand my family and the way they treated me so that I could figure out how to either put up with it without “letting it get to me” or use that understanding to appease them and get them to treat me better.” and I so agree with this.

I was big on ‘personal development’ as a way of fixing whatever was wrong with me and I would say to myself that if I could just improve myself so that I wouldn’t get my buttons pushed, that I would be strong enough to be with them the way they are then it would all be better. I failed completely at this.


“I recently had a conversation with a stranger who spent most of it telling me that since he had taught his kids that family was the most important thing in life that he was hopeful that when the time came they would care for him as he aged..”

That’s very self-centered. Children should be raised to be set free from their parents, not be held back to be enmeshed with them for most of their lives. Sounds like this man is insecure and wants to use his children to cope with his insecurities.


S1988 I agree with you entirely. My mother was also heavily counting on me to help care for both of my parents as they aged. But I already knew a bit about what that would entail, having already done it to some extent for my maternal grandmother as a kid. The drugs, the paper-thin skin, the repetitions, the slow walks to the washroom…

But she still expected me to be present when my father got sick. I got scared of getting sucked back in and didn’t go back. I saw it as a choice between my life and my life being over. My mother would say “Don’t be dramatic Alice”. And it wasn’t even as if I had my own family (in other words, my life was insufficiently responsible and respectable to not warrant throwing it up in the air for the family.)

My mother and several others in the family told me that my choice (to live my own live) was selfish. I thought ‘you’ve had me already on this front and now I want my own life’. But I also felt bad about it. Sometimes I still feel bad about that choice. And then I think ‘That’s so insane to feel bad over choosing your own life’. But there it is.


Hi Alice,
I had the same kind of thought when I read the article because I related to her (although I think that was kind of the point of the article, to illuminate our shared humanity, autism or no). I was particularly taken by her “hug machine” and thought maybe that’s what I need! haha. (But I wouldn’t know the mechanics of how to make it!) Anyway, it wasn’t my intent to make you think maybe you have Aspergers! I’m not a psychologist but… no you don’t! The abuse was real and so were the effects and nothing justifies or invites abuse. You stood up to your mother and if she’d taken responsibility for herself for real and done everything that comes with that, I imagine you’d have a relationship with her right now. I just found the article really moving as an account of someone “different” who has worked with herself, as the person she is, to make her life. I found her relatable and really loveable and I guess that’s kind of comforting to me. I like stories of self-acceptance, where you don’t have to be like other people; you are who you are, for whatever reason. I have to be able to put my family aside at some point, too, to be able to help me, to say, okay, this is me right now, regardless of how I ended up here, I’m crippled in ways, now how can I help me? Because I don’t have to stay this way. I can work with me. Maybe I don’t need a hug machine… or maybe I do. 😉 The point is not to carry any shame about this, not to think about “what’s wrong” with us. Nothing is wrong, not like how we chastise ourselves. We’re good people. We did nothing wrong and nothing was wrong with us. There was something wrong with the world we were born into. That’s it and that’s all.

Hi Phebe, I’m really sorry, I actually don’t know what to say… What do you want to do? Everyone’s situation is individual. I do think if you tell someone that you can’t move forward without apologies, they are going to want to know what exactly it is you want apologies for (think about it if someone said that to you; even if you were being rational and non-defensive about it, you might think of some things, but you can’t read the person’s mind to know exactly what they want. Though it sounds like the conversation was pretty heated if he was demanding a “list”). I don’t have a lot of insight so far as what can be done to actually constructively work through/save a relationship. I tried what I was capable of but I couldn’t keep ripping myself open trying to get through to people. I made a decision to take care of myself, to heal. I accepted my losses. Or, well, I’m a bit bitter, I suppose, so maybe I haven’t accepted them exactly, but what I mean is that I’m not fighting to try to save anything anymore. I can’t. I put my truth out and that’s it. It was a process of course but with my brother, I just didn’t have a lot in me anymore. Maybe someone else can offer some insight.


Phebe, I just want add that I didn’t mean to imply that there was something wrong with what you said to your brother. Likely, if he’s treated you badly, you would simply want him to be able to recognize it without having to spell it all out, and that if it hasn’t come, it means he hasn’t realized it on his own, and that’s maddening. When I first reconnected with my parents after a couple years, I was upset that they didn’t bring forward an apology, that they hadn’t spent the time to “get it” themselves so that I wouldn’t have to spell it all out/ask, etc…. Anyway, I did spell it out. The fallout was rough but I needed to do it. If I was going to save the relationship, that was the only way I could. But I couldn’t. They didn’t come around and I couldn’t fix that. Anyway, again sorry I can’t help much.


Hi Darlene, I appreciate your input. My post was not directed towards the people whose parents chose to abuse them. It was in reference to the one’s who have parents who are mentally impaired in some way such as having NPD like so many of us on your website have commented on including myself. I don’t believe anyone should “put up” with anyone else’s poor behavior no matter where it stems from and I certainly don’t believe that anyone should get away with murder just because they are mentally impaired. It’s not that I am trying to make excuses for anyone but maybe myself!!! It wasn’t until I was 46 years old that I was diagnosed with having DID. I didn’t have a clue that I had this disorder so in my mind if I didn’t have a clue how is anyone else supposed to who suffers from some type of mental illness either?? How the heck was I supposed to know when the very nature of my disorder was to keep it hidden from my awareness as a way to protect myself just like the underlying belief of a narcissist is that they are never the one who is wrong so to me why would they ever ask for help? That’s all I was trying to convey but I wasn’t able to communicate it very well so I apologize if I offended anyone. That certainly was not my intent.

The reason I want to know is because to me the level of betrayal involved with someone who knowingly abuses you and someone who unknowingly abuses you is different in my mind. I am trying to sort it all out. It really isn’t about making excuses for anyone unless I am missing something else here which very well may be!! I get that either way no one has the right to abuse us. I believe it has more to do with me trying to sort out what my mother did to me as opposed to my NPD father. I hold them both accountable but I definitely feel a deeper level of betrayal by my mother then my NPD father and I know that there is still a lie that I am believing to be the truth in all of this because it keeps on popping up. I just can’t pinpoint what it is yet but I will due to everyone’s help on this site. I believe it has to do with letting myself off the hook more then anything but I am not sure for what. I don’t have children so I am not feeling guilty for passing down my sick belief systems onto them. I somehow need to forgive myself for having DID but I don’t know how this all ties in with my mother yet but it does. Somehow I equate forgiving myself for having DID with forgiving my mother for abusing me. As long as I believe that having DID is my fault I can let her off the hook. OMGosh. That is it. This whole thing really is so sick and twisted!!

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter tomorrow. I know how difficult the holidays can be. For the first time in my life I am looking forward to spending Easter with one of my friends. No fear. No guilt. No shame. It is a first for me. I pray that everyone gets to experience this too.

God Bless,


Hi Kris,

I don’t know if this will help you, but it’s what came to my mind when I read your post.

My youngest brother was killed when he was 12. His friend found a gun and shot him accidentally. It was only for the briefest time that I ever considered the possibility that it was not accidental. It was easy even then to see that it was easier to deal with my brother’s death as an accident than intentional.

It was easier to feel empathy & sorrow for the boy who held the gun than to deal with wondering why he would want to hurt someone. That doesn’t mean it was not a horrific trauma, but it wasn’t compounded that way. But I don’t think I could have felt the empathy and sorrow if I didn’t see evidence that it really was accidental. If it didn’t make sense, I’d probably still be struggling with believing that the kid didn’t mean any harm. This happened 34 years ago!

I struggled with my mother’s behavior toward me because as much as I want to believe that it wasn’t intentional, the same things happened over and over throughout my whole life – not just my childhood. I needed to see whether she had control or not, she was going to continue in hurtful behavior. It’s still not clear to me if she knows what she’s doing, or if she ever did. It’s hard to feel empathy or sorrow for her, at least it WAS for a long time, until I realized that I didn’t need to allow it whether it was accidental or not.

I think that sorta makes sense of the difference between how we react to intentional vs. unintentional behavior. At least I hope it made some sense.

Enjoy your Easter with your friend. I have no particular plans tomorrow, but I’m fine with it. My family is on my mind, but I don’t expect to be overwhelmed. My recovery is progressing so I’m OK>


Good for you Eira #475. Love that you gave it back. I’ve started giving it back too.

I remember one time I worked for hours and hours on a portrait of my brother and his wife. When I showed it to them, they had little to say…they weren’t spewing negativity, but there was a lack…no encouragement, no appreciation, nothing positive; they were not touched that I took the time to draw a portrait of them (probably six hours min). It wasn’t a masterpiece but it wasn’t half bad either. Right then and there I vowed to myself I would never voluntarily bring up my artwork to them again – and I haven’t.

When I was a child and teen, I dearly loved my siblings and my mother. My siblings were quite a bit older and doted on me and “parented” me because my bio parents were emotionally absent. Then one by one they left as they got older and went off to school and I was left to fend for myself with my parents. As a child, teen, and adult I was so focused on my siblings at the expense of my own development. It was as if they were my parents and I needed them – to be around them – as much as possible so that I could continue developing emotionally and fill the gaps. I needed them so much. Whenever they came home for the holidays I made sure to be there. When they had children, I was the doting aunt who made lots of trips to where they were, brought gifts, spent as much time as possible, made A LOT of effort.

It started turning though, when I was in my 20s and my father’s sexual abuse came into the light. My sister got the validation, but because my sexual abuse was covert I got resistance from both my father AND my mother for 30 years. It took three decades to get my mother to barely support me, but then again recently she took back part of what she said. It is crazy-making. My brothers are loyal to my mom: one says my feelings “aren’t justified” and the other condescendingly said I should “forgive and forget” without validating my experience of resistance from my mother.

This past year I’ve been going Low Contact. I haven’t seen or talked to one brother in a year, another in eight months, my mother since Christmas. Last year No Christmas, no Thanksgiving, and no Fall family get-together. Right now, no Easter.

I was wondering how all of you cope with Low/No contact and the holidays? I am finding that staying busy with a fun activity is the best approach. Ideally spending the holiday with a friend(s), but if not then trying to see friends sometime around the holiday and making some calls. Staying home during the daytime doesn’t work well for me, even if I think it might be fun to work on an art project…it isn’t, I get depressed…so going out is essential.

I wonder what other people do to get through?

Happy Easter and Passover for all those who are celebrating. Best wishes for a Happy Spring of new beginnings!


Hi Kris,
I understood what you were trying to say.
Certainly I think across the board, whether people have true disorders or even if they don’t, they are under a spell of their own belief system. I was really upset with my parents for “knowing” but it wasn’t in the intentional sense. It was more like they had fragments of understanding and what I was really upset about was that they didn’t pursue looking at those fragments; they brushed them away, and I saw a kind of internal motivation for them doing so. Those moments that let slip, I don’t think it was like they had full conscious awareness of everything, and oops, they accidentally let some detail of their knowing slip out.

There’s a lot to be said for brainwashing as well. What do you make of soldiers involved in genocide? They’re not all psychopaths as it were (although they’re being made into psychopaths, if you see the distinction). That’s all about belief system stuff. And it’s reversible. For some anyway. It’s actually insane how deeply people can be brainwashed, how much they can justify and explain away as being something okay, normal, good, the way it should be, even righteous. These people are face to face with dead bodies, which is a far cry from the evidence my family had. Nonetheless, there was evidence, and they didn’t want to hear what I had to say when I tried to explain things. They wanted to be right, believed they were, and they had the power to keep the system intact, regardless of my railing against it. It’s devastating when you think but “I’m your daughter, why can’t you see this?” because you want to be enough of a reason to breakthrough all the mess, but it isn’t personal. They’re screwed up. Legitimately disordered or not. It isn’t about us. My dad was in a cult at one point in his life. He said the thing about it was that he never had enough time to himself to think things through. I think it’s similar but it’s also like the cult is inside your head at this point and you need to make time and space inside your own head but all your thoughts are going to be woven with the messed up belief system, too. The truth is if the messed up belief system is working for you, you’re likely to keep patching it up if someone is kicking at it, making cracks into it, and you’re going to be mad at the person and blame them. You’re not going to think too much about it. My parents need to believe what they need to believe. It hurts me and I hope one day they won’t need to believe it anymore, but it is about them. They wanted to believe that all of a sudden I had a mental breakdown and they had no idea where that came from, as though nothing was wrong and then blam! (Actually my dad admitted that deep down he probably knew but chose to ignore it but then he went on to defend my mom that she didn’t know, when I think she had more reason to know, and continued to behave in exactly the ways that always damaged me. It was very difficult with him because he could validate me and stab me in the back at the same time and clearly didn’t know/understand that he was doing that, even though he is intellectually very strong and could theoretically be able to get it. Emotionally weak, though, with a dependency on my mom, and I imagine that’s what stopped him from being able to “get it.” In essence, I gather I was scapegoated because of all their weaknesses and their need to hold onto whatever control they have. Because the system is bigger than themselves, admitting the truth would risk a lot. None of this conscious. People don’t consciously choose to believe what they believe; it goes by default, until you do what we do and even then we don’t “decide” to believe something. We just spend a heck of a long time thinking things through, feeling things, and slowly realizing things that eventually our beliefs get overturned and supplanted with new ones (but the old ones are pretty strong, so it requires a lot of work). I think sometimes we talk about them not wanting to do the work (to face the past, etc); I believe when we’re saying that, it’s a statement about an internal, unconscious decision, a kind of emotional blockade, not that they are fully aware of what they are choosing to face or not face. But if they did choose to, at some point down the road, they could look back and know that there was an internal choice going on. You do have to grow beyond what you are to know what you were.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Happy Easter.


Alaina, yes yes yes! Here’s a video by Jerry Wise, a counselor who has a series of wonderful youtube videos: This link is about how how dysfunctional families are like little cults. Really wonderful stuff. I had a couple of sessions with him via Skype over the phone but I could not afford it any longer after my husband’s recent job loss.


“. This link is about how how dysfunctional families are like little cults.”

That statement is interesting. I thought I was the only person I knew who thought that way. Particularly, since my family thinks they’re the best in the world and are offended by any criticism of our “wonderful” family. (I guess that’s why they think I’m the one with the problem for questioning them.)

A hallmark of dysfunctional families is that not only do they think they’re the best, they try so hard to prove it to themselves and to others. Truly healthy families are more honest, and don’t feel the need for external validation.


Hi all-I’m currently reading this book Surviving the Toxic Family by Marina Williams ( she is a therapist with years of experience plus came from a dysfunctional family herself)…and I just wanted to share briefly.This may be helpful to some…the hallmarks of dysfunctional families, she says
1. Blame-there typically are some family members that are blameless no matter what they do and others who always get blamed.
2. Lack of personal responsibility (especially when it comes to the aggressors/parents)
3. Selective memory -the lack of personal resp. can manifest itself this way.
4.Restricted range of emotions (emotionally stunted)
5. Hypocrisy-Williams says it’s taken to a whole other level in Toxic Families and I concur!!
6. Lack of privacy-no boundaries inside the home
7. Extreme privacy-in the sense that the parents want the child to have strict boundaries outside the home (no sleepovers, child has to keep secrets etc)
8. disowned family
9. Controlling
10. Critical
11. Jealousy
One of the things she talks about is The Equation of Dysfunctional Families eg. Alcoholism + Enabler + You = Dysfunction
Drug Addicted Parent + Foster Care System + You = Dysfunction
and of course, there are infinite variations. She talks about understanding the equation…and then…taking yourself OUT of the equation. The only way to win, she says…is NOT to play the game.
Under Tactics of dysfunctional Families…she says that Toxic Families want/need you to stay in whatever role you were assigned and these tactics are used to keep you in that role:
1. Extreme Hypocrisy (she says it’s so extreme that you find it hard to believe…you actually start to question yourself and doubt your sanity and sense of reality)
2. Two-Faced-your family shows a completely different face to the public than the one at home
3. Projection (this is hypocrisy mixed with outright lying)
4. Shaming
5. Ignoring Boundaries
6. Confusion Technique-Williams says that, in general,if you are really confused by another person’s behavior toward you…they are usually trying to manipulate you.
7. Divide and Conquer
8. “you’re crazy!!”-if you can succeed in getting someone to believe they are crazy then you can get them to believe just about anything..especially children
9. Minimization
10. Lying-she says Narcs lie so much it’s hard to believe
11. Set-Ups
*She says that the ultimate goal of most of these tactics is to get you to doubt yourself, your own judgement and feelings and therefore…to dominate and control you. They want to keep you in your part of the equation-that’s how they win.
To throw some light on the “is it intentional?” questions that we all have…Williams says that while she can’t answer that question for other people..she says that *By it’s VERY definition…MANIPULATION is something done with intention and careful planning.She also says “I do NOT know of ANY particular mental illness that would account for persistent but unintentional manipulation.”
**Hope this is helpful to some. I know (for me) I never know when I may read a comment or a line that is a key that unlocks a deeper understanding. xxx


Hi Light!

Being NC, it has been helpful for me not to immediately try to ‘replace’ holidays with family with stuff with friends unless it kind of happens naturally. I’ve often felt so much pressure to ‘do something special to prove I’m not a complete outcast’. I hate that ‘orphan vibe’ I can sometimes give off and some people flock to it and want to ‘adopt’ you because ‘you’re alone for the holidays’ (and that can get difficult, even when you turn it down!)

This Easter I’ve opted for some rest and relaxation because I’ve been working solid for the past few weeks and was starting to burn a little. Today I’m having lunch with a friend:) I wish you all a wonderful Easter!


Anon, some more interesting classifications! My mother’s manipulation was about her getting what she wanted. I definitely came to doubt myself or whether I was mentally or emotionally impaired in some way. Once I caught her outright trying 3 different stories (including a threat) on me to get me to do something she wanted. It blew me away but at least I could now see it clearly. I wonder if she knows I could see it as clearly as I did.


Hobie, your post really resonated with me. What a great analogy. It really hit home. I eternally look for ways to continue to blame myself for her abuse so I can let her off the hook without even realizing that I am doing it driving myself and everyone else nuts in the process, still trying to avoid the pain involved with seeing the truth. I get it but it keeps on happening. There are so many levels of betrayal involving my mother. Things keep on popping up and I am sent right back to square one and I think between it being the holiday and me having dissociative identity disorder I am constantly being triggered which adds fuel to the fire so to speak. I hope you have a wonderful Easter too.

Anon- That was a great list you posted. The confusion technique stood out to me the most. I was manipulated in so many ways and now I see how my mother and my husband both would leave out the key part of their story that would have made the whole thing make sense all because they knew if I heard that piece of information then I wouldn’t do what they wanted me to do. I always felt like the crazy lady and they could rely on me and my issues getting in the way because I never asked them any questions. I just did what they told me to do but inside it never felt to me.

Alaina- when I read that you understood what I was trying to say I was relieved. My communication skills need a lot of work but I am trying. A lot of brainwashing went on in my family. I am learning new healthier ways of thinking and coping to replace all the toxic ones but it does take a long time. Our families do have their own belief systems that they operate out of. There are so many layers to peel back when trying to overcome the damaging affects of my mother’s abuse and at times I get overwhelmed. I think I have beat this issue down enough now!!! It’s time to let it rest so I can find peace for myself.What you wrote really helped me with this. Thnx so much for your input. You have such a poetic way of communicating. Such a gift.


RE: Anon @471– What Happens If the Scapegoat Leaves?

I’ve been wondering about this, having been the Gone Scapegoat for 15 years. I live 2,000 miles away but talk to my brother and he seems lonely and unhappy. He’s infuriated watching my mother falling all over herself enabling and waiting on the remaining family–that’s how she hooks people and gets them on her side. And my golden sister never calls or visits my mother unless she wants money or favors.

My mother is very threatened that I’ll attract attention or power away from her. She never made any effort to keep me in the family or get me back after I moved away at 17 then totally cut off at around 43. You’d think that at some point she might have offered to come just listen to see what she might do to fix things but she never made the slightest effort. She’s been elderly for a long time but often travels to China, Mexico and around the US and is said to be strong as a horse.

I spent 30 years visiting her; she visited me once in all that time and complained about men the whole five days. She’s always treated me as her personal dumping ground and this caused me black depressions but these are gone now that I’m nc. Her worst she saved for me but she’s sweetness and light to everyone else.

People ask why her oldest daughter left and mom tells them that “she never liked her family”. The implication is that I’m an oddball rolling around in a hole on the desert with snakes and rats and living on bugs.

A few years ago I mentioned to my cousin that I hadn’t talked to my mom in years–mom hadn’t mentioned this to them. My cousin began bullying and shaming me–“call your mother”, “don’t you like anyone in your family”. The cousin wouldn’t stop bullying though I tried to explain. Her calls made me feel sick so I went nc with her too.

I like the term someone coined above “disabled” with regard to relationships. I’ve had lots of relationships but except for my high school boyfriend, am a genius at picking narcissistic, emotionally abusive men and employers.

My mom’s manipulations have splintered her whole family and been so destructive. I anticipate her passing as she’ll no longer be able to manipulate and destroy.


*Davina-I, too, have wondered what happens when the SG leaves (and of course, there is no way to truly know because when I went NC I did so utterly and completely). But from my understanding, I am still SG even in absence but I’m sure there is another (more immediate) SG as well because in order for the DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY SYSTEM to survive…there simply has to be. It gets a bit difficult to blame someone for something that happens present day when you haven’t seen or heard from that person in 10 years!! Another thing…whenever there are disowned family members in the family tree-there are family secrets and dysfunctions and the Family System tries to erase that person as to keep their secrets intact (a lot more difficult in the technological age though!). Also…when the main Narc dies…there will surely be another one(S) to take their place. It’s unfortunate…but the Dysfunctional Family System needs them too. It helped me so much (in terms of truly understanding things) to look at things very impersonally and look at the entire family as a SYSTEM. For instance…why would a family (even a toxic one) NEED a Narc??? Well the Narc can triangulate, divide, feed someone;s ego (make them the GC) etc that the other toxic members “need” so that they don’t have to face their own issues. Because I was the SG…obviously I didn’t have a choice as a child…but as I grew older, there was NOTHING in the system to keep me there (which I why I consider myself the lucky one). There are tons of things to keep the GC in their role even though it is still abusive, toxic etc…the GC who “benefits” from the system (albeit in a very superficial way) is much more likely to stay in that role.In my situation, for instance, I have a sibling who is (in my opinion) personality disordered, socially inept and not a nice person at all. But my Narc “mother” treats her as if she is the queen herself (GC). I often wondered what this sibling would do if the Narc did not prop her up so much…the GC NEEDS the Narc!! And this gets confused with love.
I also remember reading somewhere that when there is one Narc in the family….there are probably more…if you really look around. But there is one MAIN one until they die and then another will take their place. Hope some of this helps as we each share our stories.


I have a sister who is the GC. Oddly enough, she was not the original GC. The original GC lost her status and is now only the secondary GC. The original golden child was very nasty to me all the years of growing up, and my mother incessantly bragged up this golden child and the now-golden child hero worshipped her, too. Then this GC lost her status first in not being the first to provide a grandchild, but she also married a narcissistic man who has behavioral (bad temper) problems. The secondary GC, who is now the primary GC, married a man who makes a lot of money, is co-dependent and subservient to her, and who she unleashes as her flying monkey if anyone challenges her judgmental and hypocritical, bossy and boundary crossing behavior. What I figured out was at one point there was a shift to who persecuted me most. Growing up, the original GC was nothing less of horrendous. It was like her goal in life was to tell me what an inferior piece of shit I was and to tear down any glimmer of happiness I had in my life. When she married her abusive narcissistic husband and the sister’s star became financially bright due to her husband’s talents, they shifted gears and she became the main persecutor, leaving me out of important family events, gossiping and triangulating me, hosting company of relatives from out of town who I had also been close to and not telling me, etc. Also judging my identity as a Christian believer and saying horrible things about me and then denying them. Once I had to stop over there to pick up my son and when she got me alone she said the most horrendous things. When I quit conversing or speaking to her at all, she pretended she didn’t know why. Then my parents confronted me about my not speaking to her and I told them what had happened. She denied the verbal assault happened and my father accused me of hallucinating the whole thing. Then they tell relatives that I also “don’t like my family!” and that I lost my faith in God and that enables me to walk away.


Hi Hobie!!
I loved reading about your breakthrough in the area of “understanding”!! YAY
I totally understand what happened to my parents today and why they are the way they are etc. but as you wrote, that came AFTER my own recovery and with my clients understanding (of the actual perpetrators of the damage) only comes AFTER they have their own healing by validating the damage. (and of course there are stages to healing as well so understanding of the abusers is still NOT the goal but is often a result) Just like in the cycle of abuse and the grooming process can be defined, so can the healing process. (at least in my experience)
Today I understand what happened to my parents, but since they don’t want to change and I wanted my life to change, relationship became impossible due to the fact that (especially with my mother) I insisted on mutual respect. She is totally able to do that with other people so it is clear to me that she won’t make that choice with me.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene



My mom is totally able to have relationships with other people that are mutually respectful as well. However, she clearly continues to triangulate her other children with each other as well as with me. However, she would never actually triangulate any of her children with me because I was so low in her pecking order. Over the last six years of low contact and when I set my limits and boundaries in a very firm way, there was some progress. She continued to triangulate me with my siblings and relatives against me. However, she now began to complain about the sibling who became the interim scapegoat in my absence. I don’t want to be part of this anymore.


Sorry that read wrong. In the past, she was mum with me on the failings of her other children. I was the one who had failings and she had to make sure that she kept me in my place. She triangulated the other kids with eachother, but never complained about them to me, no matter what had happened. When I went low contact, she tried to entice me back into the fold by complaining about my brother. That is when I realized he was the new SG. And soon he began calling me and complaining how my mom/sisters were ganging up on him.


In talking about how some mothers can have relationships with other people, but not their children, I’ve thought a lot about my own mother and her relationships. She’s had a handful of friends since elementary school, and one who was once my babysitter when I was too young to remember her very well. At least a couple of them have passed away.

I don’t know how many people “love” my mother, it certainly seems like at least dozens, and I don’t really understand it. I’ve heard her complain bitterly about almost all of them. Honestly she talks like she hates most people when they aren’t there to hear her, and somehow hides it completely when they are there! My guess is that her drinking makes her very funny to her peers, and if she becomes insulting, they chalk it up to the alcohol. As she’s getting older, she is losing her memory and her ability to string words together so they make sense. If she ever was in control of herself, she probably isn’t now.

Before I broke contact, she tried to tell me that I was unforgiving and bitter. Those words are so inflammatory to me that I still have times I want to tell her that she has hurt me so deeply with her words and actions so many times that I just don’t trust her. I forgive her, but I am not willing to give her any more chances to hurt me.

While she demands something she calls forgiveness, she hasn’t even acknowledged that she has done anything questionable let alone wrong. She tells me that I take everything the wrong way and won’t listen to anyone who doesn’t agree with me. What kind of forgiveness do you give to someone who hasn’t done anything and she was justified anyway? Well it can’t possibly be real forgiveness. Oddly enough she won’t RESPOND to “I’m sorry” let alone say it.

Not a shred of a reason to trust at all. And with that reality staring me in the face, there is no kind of contact that makes any sense. There it is, the end of the confusion, where the fog begins to clear. I see clearly and I can breathe.

Much better!



Darlene, All, My dad doesn’t do mutual respect. It isn’t in him. He’s nice to those he’s buttering up to get something from but his relationships never last, they end when his true intent comes out. Even if his illness ‘makes him do it’, he knows it’s wrong, and like for others in his life, it makes it impossible for me to have a healthy relationship with him. I can’t make him want to change. I can’t make him want to address his issues. I can’t engage in a one-way relationship (one in which I meet his needs)and remain healthy, myself. It was my asking for reciprocal respect that caused my family to walk away. Chasing them down and saying, “Wait! I didn’t meant it! I’ll accept your terms” and then going back to filling his needs so, that they keep me around, wouldn’t do anything to help his personality disorder. In fact, it would feed it. I didn’t do anything cruel to my dad. I just stopped accepting his cruel treatment and stopped pretending that it didn’t hurt.



Hi Pam – You’ve done exactly the right thing for yourself for sound reasons.

The reason I have the most interaction with THIS website and its related FB page is because ULTIMATELY the focus comes back to what we can do for ourselves as victims or survivors of any type of abuse regardless of what is wrong with the people who perpetrated that abuse.

Your post says “My dad doesn’t do mutual respect.” THAT is the bottom line as I see it. As long as we are in a relationship that requires us to be in a “less than” position, we are going to be hurt.

It’s a good and healthy thing to have the self-respect to walk away from relationships that cause us pain and do damage to us.



I haven’t reread all the posts in this thread, but I feel like people are stirred up in response to the question of whether or not the people who have abused us were able or unable to control their own behavior.

I am inclined to feel that if they are NOT in control of their own behavior, I am somehow more obligated to “go easy on them”. If they didn’t really MEAN to say what they said, or do what they did, I need to take that into consideration and let it go or worse, put up with it!

I think it helped me to recognize that whether THEY are in control of themselves or not, I have no control over them. I can’t stop them from doing or saying things that are hurtful to me.

At first I asked myself if I had the strength or whatever it took to ignore their bad behavior. I decided that I’d been too beaten down for too long to do that and maybe if I was away from it long enough I would strengthen myself. As I became stronger, I started asking myself if that’s what I want to do with my strength. Lately I’ve been thinking that it’s not.

It matters a lot more who we are and who we want to be for ourselves than who “they” are. It really doesn’t matter if they are in control of themselves or not.


Thanks for sharing the video, Eira!

Kris, I’m glad my words helped! One thing I hope is that you don’t shortchange the truth even if things aren’t always clearcut. Personally, if I had to make a simple statement, I would most definitely say they knew, of course they did, they were there and everything fit to fit them, that’s not an accident. But it’s also true that their plans don’t really work and that a healthy person would never choose to operate in a dysfunctional manner because even if it gives some kind of high or satisfaction, it doesn’t fulfill. If dysfunctional people are capable of having certain mutually respectful relationships, I doubt they could ever have ALL mutually respectful relationships and I doubt that those respectful relationships are close relationships and if they are close, you might consider the possibility that there are other forms of dysfunction going on like enmeshment, boundary issues, or being used for triangulation purposes, etc.

I definitely agree with Pam that the best thing you can do is hold them accountable. The truth is the truth is the truth. And I agree with Hobie’s comments, too. Also if there’s any hope for a real systemic change in society like Alice was talking about, it’s in people like us speaking up for the truth like we do here… just this website alone and everyone talking is so important and great… and people should donate, by the way, I’m just saying… this thing doesn’t run on love alone 😉 I don’t mean to be a guilt-tripping jerk, it’s just that Darlene is wonderful, EFB is wonderful, and I don’t think she gets very many donations for the monthly expenses.


Hobie, It took me a long time to see that there was nothing I could do to make my dad or my mom ‘get better’. They’ve had lots and lots of people feel sorry for them and they respond by playing it to the hilt. They’ve been responded to with lots of empathy, kindness, compassion, and willing scapgoatery. None of it has made a dent. I think their only hope was always in accountability. I think I and my family failed them on that count and I think not being held accountable probably, contributed to my dad’s NPD more than any other outside source. He’s made a lot of choices for evil in his life but never met a consequence painful enough to make him stop abusing and using people. I don’t know what kind of consequence it would take because I don’t think losing his oldest daughter was enough either…but at least, I’m not feeding the problem, anymore.



It has taken me a long time to see that there’s nothing I could do to make my mom or dad “get better” too. It has only been very recently that I’ve found a few people who were willing to validate the pain that their behavior caused me. They had done so much to convince me that I was unable to correctly perceive reality that I don’t know if I could have ever just believed myself. So many people have always and still want to reassure me that my mother actually DOES love me and that she doesn’t mean the cruel things that she says and she doesn’t intend to cause me pain that I believed for too long that I really just was supposed to see around her behavior and beyond her words to believe that JUST because she is my mother, she loved me and wanted the best for me NO MATTER WHAT she said and did.

I believed that being a good daughter, even a good PERSON required me to accept the lies as truth and try to live up to my mother’s impossible expectations as if they were small things. That was what so many people tried to tell me, I felt so selfish and weak when I just couldn’t take it anymore. The first time I stopped contact with them, I spent the whole time wishing they would miss me and want me back. My sister actually did draw me back eventually, but I don’t think that my mother ever really cared. She has since very proudly stated that she NEVER told anyone that I wasn’t talking to her for those three years.

I’ll be 59 very soon. The family dysfunction has worked against me so much that I haven’t been in contact with 2 of my 3 children and all six of my grandchildren in a year either. Some days that alone makes me wonder if I’m really the one who IS the problem. But I remember the pain and tension of so many interactions with everyone, and I know that I’ll never pass their judgment no matter what I try to do. I’m not going to run after them for more of the same. I’ve wasted too much time already.


Hobie, I’m 59 too and I was late figuring things out. It has affected the family I created too. The struggle continues but I think on some level, it is that way for most people. The human family is largely, dysfunctional. I worked really hard at being a mom and I didn’t do the things my parents did, I made mistakes of my own.:0/ I also, did an awful lot that was right. The only choice we have is to persevere or give up so, I keep moving forward and hope that somehow, it makes a difference in my children’s lives down the road. I’m going through a hard, sad time but I know even this won’t last and if I keep reaching for the truth and trying to what’s right, it has to make a difference, somehow. I hope you’ll be able to reconnect with your kids soon. It’s painful stuff, family. I’m trying to let go of the idealized version I wanted all of my life and instead, accept the reality and find some happiness despite it.



At the end of my relationship with my mother she said “Darlene, we have always been able to work things out between us in the past” and I said, “no mom, I have always backed down in the past and ‘let it go’ and nothing was ever worked out. I just backed off”.. She didn’t have much to say about that because sometimes the truth is really hard to argue with I guess. My mother said things like “I know I am not perfect BUT…” There was always a “but” followed by a big explanation of how hard life was for her, or whatever but it was never anything to do with the actual offence. I don’t miss any of that either.
I was in my 40’s when I realized ~ HEY ~ I was the kid in this relationship!
Hugs, Darlene


I think we’re way more on the same page than I would have thought. I tried very hard to raise my children differently than my mother raised me and ended up making different mistakes.

My husband has been good with me while I figure all this stuff out. Like you, I’m trying to let go of the idealized family that never really was, accept reality and make the best of what I have with the rest of my life.

For a while I thought I could hold out on my own life until my mom passed away, but I’m not so sure that she won’t outlive me! If she is embarrassed that I won’t be at her funeral, well, I don’t think that is something that you can feel once you’re dead.

Love, Hobie


I’m afraid to have children as a result of my own insecurities and that my family may feel entitled to see my son or daughter.

Some may say I would regret remaining childless, but I will regret having children and not raising them properly more than not having them at all.

Good job to those who choose to break the cycle with their offspring.


Can I ask people who’ve been cut off for a while now, how long it took before you never had any more thoughts that maybe one day they’ll figure things out and come around? With the recent intrusions from my parents and grandmother, and my choice to respond to them, despite myself, I’ve had all those thoughts that maybe this will get them to work together and figure things out… even though I blocked their email addresses… and told my parents I’d call the cops on them if they tried to find me while they were in town! (a bit excessive but the only way I felt safe that they wouldn’t bother me) Sometimes I think maybe an extended family member will reach out, like they’d all work together to solve this problem. It isn’t realistic. I think through every single member’s character and know where their hangup is and know it’s never going to happen but still… how long before I let go?

I’m 33 and sometimes I think maybe I’d like to have a child one day still but putting aside the practical problems that make that impossible any time soon, I don’t know what kind of mom I’d be. To be honest, I still have a hard time grasping that I’m an adult. I also don’t think I’ve forgiven myself for wanting to hurt a little girl I used to tutor (she was playing with my hair and I suddenly wanted to break her wrists). It was one of the things that made me commit absolutely to doing whatever I needed to do to work through my issues but I suppose it stays with me as something scary about myself, not knowing if I have changed enough, if I’m healthy enough, to be any kind of decent mother. I love kids, though. It’s awful. I love dogs, too, and it was with them, a little girl and a couple times with my dog, that all of a sudden I just wanted to break their bones. It was many years ago now, and I understand what it was about, but I suppose it still stays with me. The worst about my past isn’t what happened but how it impacted me emotionally.

I’m feeling a bit down today. I’m not sure why. Had a really nice day yesterday. Maybe the reality of my life is just settling in more and it’s making me feel a little low. Not sure.

I was a little worried that I was rude to you…? I hope you know I wouldn’t want you to scapegoat anyone for your dad’s abuse, and I know your grandparents were dear to you. I had recent communication with my grandma and I think the whole cycle of abuse thing was really getting to me. I know that everyone situation is different. My grandma is definitely dysfunctional. My great grandmother meant a lot to me, though. Lots of good memories with her. (She died when I was a teenager.) It was my great grandfather who was abusive, though I know she also had a part. I know very little details there. All I know is throughout the whole family it was universally said that he was not a nice person, with the exception of with my brother and I. For some reason he really loved us, especially my brother (I was only four when he died). My dad said it was because he had a way of barking at people that would scare them away, but my brother apparently thought it was funny, barked back, and that endeared him to my great grandpa, and then he liked me, too, I gather just because I was his little sister, like we just got the stamp of approval… it’s funny how these people operate… anyway, sorry for the tangent. I just wanted to say sorry if I was rude. You’ve always been incredibly sweet to me, and I appreciate you.


Alaina, No, I didn’t think you were rude. I did think I was having a hard time getting what I was trying to say across.:0)It’s easy to get caught up in a pattern of thinking and make everything fit that pattern. Human behavior is more complicated than that. Also, everyone can get so caught up in whose to blame that the truth becomes obscure. If I look honestly, at my family and what I know of the history of it, I’m amazed at how many people were blamed for the awful things my dad did and how he skated on all of it. No matter what happened to him, Alaina, my dad chose to do evil to get what he wanted out of life. Those choices and his lack of repentance, over a long lifetime, I believe, have much more to do with who and what he is today, than the things that happened to him in childhood. My grandparents weren’t abusive people but like the rest of us, were confused about why he did the things he did and allowed themselves to be scapegoats for his behavior and society reinforced that attitude. Especially, for my grandmother. Blame doesn’t break the cycle of abuse. Rightly placed accountability does. I want to make sure I hold the right people accountable.:0)




I’ve been NC for about 15 years and think about the whole thing every day. My mom is 88 and my brother might not live long as he’s not that healthy, so I feel that I’m approaching a cut off and have been reconsidering to make sure I’m doing what’s best for me. I’ll consider visiting or moving back there then come to my senses and realize it wouldn’t work because I already tried that for 30 years and it was a waste of time and money. They’re not going to change the way they operate any more than I am. My constant thinking about it is rumination and it’s keeping me from more productive pursuits so I think it’s time for me to do thought-stopping. Some things just are and can’t be fixed.



Thank you for taking the time to respond. Just the fact you’re not seeing any big flaring red lights is nice to know. You’re right, I think I am extremely frustrated that the hurt seems obvious to me but not to him. My older brother has not been respectful of my boundaries and in the past when I’ve tried to make him aware of it, he would go to mom and get her on his side. I’m pretty sure he’s not at the dysfunction I read here (that goes to another family member) but it still hurts.

Thanks again, you’ve got me thinking on things!



Pam, I thought about what if we didn’t feed into my NPD father’s poor behavior too. Could we have stopped him? I don’t think so. I think only death will stop him. I still think it is the nature of the narcissistic persona to not be able to see anyone else’s pain including their own. They just can’t feel anything but jealousy and hate and if we would have stood up to him it just would have been more hell to pay for us and eventually he would have sought out another victim who would put up and shut up like my codependent mother is still doing till this day. It is just like you said. My father has managed to alienate every single solitary person out of his life except for my mother and brother who both still live with him and I can tell you it is a war zone in that house because my brother errs to the side of NPD too. Just glad I am out of that sick loop now and for you too.


Hobie #501-I thought that once I got stronger in my recovery that I would be able to tolerate my parent’s poor behavior too but what I have found is just the opposite. The longer I am away from them the less I am able to stomach the thought of ever being around their toxicity again. I see how I was still believing the lie that somehow it was my fault for not being able to deal with them anymore. I wasn’t seeing that anyone who was healthy would feel the same way as I did. Now I see it was never a matter of me being weak or strong. It was a matter of them disrespecting me and me not being willing to put up with it anymore. I laughed when I read what you wrote:

“For a while I thought I could hold out on my own life until my mom passed away, but I’m not so sure that she won’t outlive me! If she is embarrassed that I won’t be at her funeral, well, I don’t think that is something that you can feel once you’re dead.”

I needed to hear this. I have been waiting for my parents to die so I can end this charade to make it easier on me. I still haven’t found the courage or the heart to go full NC. I am down to birthday and holiday cards for over the last 2 years and this time I managed not to send an Easter card because I felt so hypocritical plus I was trying to stop the sick belief system that somehow children have to acknowledge their parents but they don’t have to do the same thing at the holiday because my mother never acknowledges me. Where’s my Easter card!!! I guess it will take one holiday card at a time until I go full NC!!! It is almost laughable if it wasn’t so tragic


Alaina 509- Good question!!! I have been virtually NC for over 2 years and I still haven’t found a way to get my parents out of my head but what I can say is I am no longer filled with all that anger and hatred in my heart that I used to carry around like a ball and chain around my neck so I am thankful for that. It’s a process is all I can say. Maybe it would be easier on ourselves if we just accepted the fact that our parents are going to be a part of our lives whether we go NC with them or not. I am at the point where I think only death will quiet that voice inside my head for good because then I will know for sure that there really isn’t anything else that could be done to save that relationship. Only time will tell and we are all different.


Hi Alaina, I’ve had hopes and fantasies for ages that they’ll all just ‘get it’ or that some member of the extended family will reach out and say ‘What happened?’ and truly mean it. Instead of that, I’ve received phonecalls where the issues were never mentioned, birthday cards with a cursory ‘Love Mom’, Christmas cards with ‘We’re thinking of you’ but that don’t say exactly ‘what’ they’re thinking and emails with more recriminations about my bad ‘intentions’ and ‘choices’ and my lack of a sense of duty. (I suppose emails are better for recriminations than birthday and Xmas cards are. That kind of makes me laugh:))

I do think that if things were to change today it would have to be at my initiative. I’d have to do the work of going towards them and whatever else that also entailed. I both do and don’t want to do it. I can apprehend the punishment I’d be in for. Not the kind you’d mete out to a child, but something else, some unknown kind.

I also get the feeling they are all better off without me, that without me they are tighter-knit, more loving than with.

I do think that I’m also better off without the invalidation, the emotional abuse and the manipulation, the minor physical violence. I know that if I went back, I would have to accept their not admitting to harm, their unaccountability and not feel resentful towards them for it to their faces. From the safety of NC, I can feel some degree of compassion. It could be entirely illusory, but it’s there.

I’m sorry to hear that you had a difficult day!


Kris writes: “I thought that once I got stronger in my recovery that I would be able to tolerate my parent’s poor behavior too but what I have found is just the opposite. The longer I am away from them the less I am able to stomach the thought of ever being around their toxicity again.”

This is exactly how I feel, too. I can hardly stomach being around them for any length of time.

This is another thing I’ve noticed, during the infrequent times I have been in contact with my mom and trying to go back to some kind of “normal.” Typically, we’d get to the point of shooting the breeze. If I by chance, accidentally, noted there was any kind of conflict in my life, any bad thing that happened, an annoyance with a co-worker or something that did not go right, etc. this is how I noted my mom reacting.

It was a bit mind blowing when I figured it out.

Whatever went wrong, my mom would attribute it to some kind of character flaw that she noted in me as a young child or in my early teenage years. “Oh, even when you were tiny you were not very observant” or “do you remember the quarter you got a C in Algebra, math was never your strong suit” or something. I realized that it as an ingrained habit, a habit in which she was constantly letting me know how very flawed I was and that they were evidence of my inferiority. If I noted anything good, it wouldn’t be “your teachers always said you got along well with others” or “you were always such a good writer” or “you were always the creative one” or anything like that. It was only my lacking.

I realized how much she had been driving this home for so many years, and how I believed her. And how I used to be so beaten down it seemed like random people would take potshots at me, and how rarely that ever happens to me anymore.

My performance reviews at work are even great now, but I don’t think I am actually doing better work. I just have grown in my level of comfort and I am no longer scared of people or easily intimidated.

Who wants to have to cut off their own mother and family? It’s such a relief not being around people who cut me down. If this is prison, please throw away the key.