Why Setting Personal Boundaries is Not as Easy as it Sounds


dysfunctional families“I learned to set boundaries by realizing where they were missing in my life. I learned where they were missing in my life by seeing the truth about abuse etc. As long as my value was in question (by me as a result of the way I had been defined) I could not set boundaries.”  Darlene Ouimet

I googled the key words “setting personal boundaries” and the top info I found on it included understanding the abusers and not judging or placing blame on them because after all, we are all wounded souls! No wonder we have so much trouble healing from abuse! Oh it all sounds so lovely, but the truth is that I healed by setting ALL that aside after trying it that way for well over 20 years with the main result being that the depressions only increased and my boundaries got weaker. (see the links at the end of this post)

Have you ever thought about why setting personal boundaries is so dang hard in the first place? Here in Emerging from Broken, I always talk about how everything has a root. Depression starts somewhere. We are not born with low self esteem. And it is the root of both those things that makes setting personal boundaries so hard!

When I was defined as “not good enough” or “not worthy” by the actions of others in my life, it is understandable that I believed that definition of “me”. And as long as I believed that the definition of me was correct, I didn’t believe I had a right to HAVE boundaries.  I didn’t believe that I had a choice in my own life about what kind of treatment I had to accept. I didn’t understand that I was being treated badly and that I had a right to say no to that treatment. 

There was a root to why I had no idea what setting a personal boundary meant. The very foundation of setting boundaries was totally foreign to me.

In order to understand the concept of setting a personal boundary, I had to look at the ways that I had been defined by others and by the actions of others.  I looked back into my childhood for the answers to those questions. I looked at traumatic memories such as being ignored and dismissed and I looked at memories of being harmed and abused and at the messages that I received as a result of those events. I had been defined by those events as unimportant, unlovable and unworthy all throughout my childhood.  

Some examples that I have written about in the past are when my parents didn’t protect me from a teacher who was picking on me; By their inaction I was defined as a whiner and a story teller and exaggerator. I was defined as not respecting my elders. I was defined as “the problem”.  The teacher was ignored and left alone. Not even addressed (until my doctor stepped in). That delivered a message to me too.

When I was sexually assaulted by my mothers boyfriend and told it was because I had “a crush” on him, I was defined as the one who brought it on myself. I was defined as someone who was “sending messages to attract grown men to come to my bed”.  And I added that message to all the other times before that I had been sexually assaulted.  I was defined as “the problem”.  I was blamed and learned to accept the blame!

When I took a bite out of a cupcake and tried to hide it by covering it with extra icing, I was punished and my friend was sent home and that time I really had done something wrong so I took that as proof that I really was “bad” and I applied that “proof” to all the times that I was punished for things that really were not my fault and to all the times that I had been beaten because my mother was in a bad mood and the conclusions that I came up with were always that it really was “me” and that I was unworthy of  love; I was unworthy and bad. And if it really was ME then I deserved all the “abuse” that I received, but I didn’t call it abuse. I believed I brought it on myself. And since I agreed with all these false definitions of me, and I agreed that whatever happened to me was my fault, that I could not do anything right, that I attracted abuse, and that the teacher didn’t like me because I was unlikeable, I never knew that I could HAVE a personal boundary.

I had to look at all these things in order to realize that the things I believed about myself were lies. My value was no less than anyone else’s value. But until  I looked at the roots of where my self esteem got damaged and where my lack of worth came from and how I had BEEN defined in the first place, I could not change the root belief so that I could SET a personal boundary.

Please share your thoughts on the difficult subject of setting personal boundaries and remember that you are welcome to use any name you wish in the comment form.

It may help you to check out the links I have posted to the three stories I refer to. (the coloured bold print is live linked to the stories, just click those words)

 Here is the link to the website that I mentioned earlier. I don’t recommend you reading this website other than to see the typical ways that we are encouraged NOT to look at the truth of this stuff but instead are encouraged not to place blame or hold people accountable because somehow it is better for us to skip that part. I got stuck there for many many years. It didn’t take me very long to achieve all my recovery goals when I stopped trying not to place blame where blame belonged and I live my life today free of emotional pain and resentment. I am free of depression and dissociation. I set healthy boundaries. I have wonderful relationships based on equal value for all parties in the relationship. I sleep great and I laugh often and I know how to love and accept love.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

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


Categories : Self Esteem



That is so true.


So very true. For me i am physically an adult but mentally/emotionally still a child. i always feel like what you said, that i have no right to have boundaries. it terrifies me to the core. makes me feel horrible about myself.

I always want what other people want me to be. “perfect”, of course. When I was a kid and imperfect, I was ignored and shunned. I believe that there is something horribly awful and wrong with me when I stray from “perfect”, or, the person I know my mom wants me to be.

For whatever reason I had really long hair as a kid. I would always get those nasty tangles/rat nests in the back of my head. I never did anything with it. I hardly remember washing it. Before i started high school I cut it and permed it. My mom hates it. HATES IT. she always hates it when i cut my hair. I love it short. For whatever reason, the past year or so i’ve been growing it out. It almost got to my shoulders. But it was driving me NUTS, so I just cut it. Really short. I “warned” my mom, she was offended of course. As though it was some personal insult to her. But i’m realizing im NOT doing it to hurt her (though I do a lot of other things, heh), i’m doing it for ME. I felt the need to “warn” her because I know she gets annoyed, but i dont feel like i have to apologize. Its my hair. Its my body. I know today that its her ~whatever~, not me. I guess thats a boundary. Knowing what IS and what ISNT for me. when i was growing it out, it really wasn’t for me. I know she, and many other people like long hair. Not me!! not ever!!

I’m less scared today of boundaries. But its not like im going to march around parading about it. thankfully ive healed just to know what the difference is between me and others.

thanks for this post, i enjoy your blog so much!!


I have recently gone NO contact w/my mother. She has no regards for my boundaries, my feelings, my struggles or anything else for that matter that concerns me and not HER (which EVERYTHING is about HER). I’ve tried to have a relationship w/her but I can take no more of her abuse. She is the ‘last’ of the toxic people in my life that I’ve had to go no contact with. It first started out with eliminating extended ‘toxic’ family members (cousins, uncles, aunts, etc.)-then to my sperm donor (which took years to come to the conclusion that I needed to do-after not having him in my life as a child)-then to siblings (the children he sired)-lastly to my narcissistic, borderline personality disordered mother. I feel a great void. Yet I am still NO contact. I have no desire to call or communicate w/her. As much of a transition it is-I have no regrets. Period. Thank you Darlene for speaking up and out for those of who have needed this VALIDATION all of our lives. Thank you.


Fabulous post, Darlene!
This is something which I have just started doing within the past month or so … I’ve made it impossible for certain toxic people in my life to have access to me and my house – unless I choose to see them. (they only seem to behave when my husband is with me, so that’s the only time they’ve been getting to see me or my kids) In the past they would come and go as they pleased in MY home … I’d ask (in this broken, weak voice) for them to ‘call first next time’ … never ever would they listen. They feel strongly that … (and I quote):
“A TRULY loving person doesn’t make their family have to make appointments to visit them …”
“Why would we need to call first? IF you love GOD, IF you are a GOOD wife and mother, then you’re house will ALWAYS be clean and ready for company”
“I let YOU come to MY house without calling FIRST … because THAT’S the nice thing to do …”
(And on and on and on …)

There are SO many twisted messages in their statements … but, for years I never saw it … I just accepted the message: If you set boundaries then you are UNloving, UNgodly, and UNqualified to be a good Mom and Wife. You don’t deserve to have boundaries, if you think you do, that makes you selfish. … I wanted so badly their approval,hoping THEN I’d feel better about myself. So I’d let them walk all over me – thinking THEN maybe those negative statements wouldn’t apply to me … so … so very broken and blinded by those manipulative statements …
But, that was in the past. (THANK GOODNESS!) Now, the further I get into this process, I am better able see these behaviors for what they are … desperate attempts to gain control, and to pat themselves on the back (despite poor behavior) … (“MY house is clean and ALways ready for company, therefore I am a better person” … the classic ‘put others down to lift yourself up’ crap. PLUS it’s them hoping I’ll cave because I want to live up to THEIR ideals. No thank you.)
But, a little over a month ago, I got serious about the boundaries… if they were disrespected or attempted to be broken, then I would visibly AND verbally make them even stronger. They don’t make it easy. But, I am finally able to feel like my home is MY home, my safe place, (and NOT an extension of THEIR house that I’m still being abused in … )

Thank you for this wonderful post! Very helpful in the process of realizing that I DO deserve to have reasonable boundaries …



(this was the version of my comment I tried to post…I don’t know why the website posted an earlier draft above…)

In so many ways it was communicated to me that I was not wanted, that I was too much trouble, that I was a problem. I had food allergies from a young age which were simply ignored by my parents. When I was 17, I started to rectify this, to cut out what I was allergic to and received incredible health benefits as a result. But my mother continued to try and ignore this. She would openly lie when I asked her if X allergen was in a holiday meal she was making for everyone and expected me to eat. If I ate something I made myself but sat at the same table, she would spend much of the meal making derisive comments about my food and eating habits.

Once I asked her to cook me something separately and she stormed out of the room, screaming from the other side of the bathroom door that “I organized this entire meal for you!!” A ploy to make me feel guilty, when obviously she hadn’t organized it for my sake when she hadn’t consulted me, couldn’t care less about accommodating a small request and the entire meal was spent with her putting on a facade in front of my brother’s girlfriend. When dinner was ready and I came out to the kitchen, she pointed to a pot near the stove and said in the nastiest voice possible that there it was if I wanted to do it myself.

As a result of this attitude, I simply turned down a lot of social invitations, thinking that I was an inconsolable burden and there was no way I could set my boundaries. Even living with my partner, I thought he could not possibly still care about me/my needs or want me in the room when “guests” were in the house, since that is the way my mother treated me. Like an embarrassment, someone who had no purpose for even being in the room, nothing to say, no reason for existing. Of course my partner wasn’t thinking any of that, I was, because I had absorbed and learned these messages, but I’m breaking away from them today. I see that I do have rights, and I can set my boundaries and be open about what they are, but still socialize.


Hi Hermien,
Great to hear from you!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jessica
Nobody is perfect and we should not have to strive towards someone elses expectation of who we should be or who they want us to be. Like you share with your hair choice; it is your hair and you are no less perfect having the hair you want or NO hair at all if that is what you want. It is a boundary to stick to your own choices about your own body and style.
Thank you for sharing and I am so glad you like my blog.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi ButtaFli
I am glad that you hear the message that we are all VALID and that we don’t need someone elses permission to live. I felt a void too, but it turns out it was just an empty place where all the pain used to be, and as it emptied out I had room to fill with some wonderful stuff. Living. At each stage there were more voids and empty feelings and fear of the unknown, but so far the process has never disapointed me.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kera!
This is such a good point you bring up; that sometimes if people are only going to be decent in front of other people or certain people, then that is the only way they get to see you! That is a fantastic boundary.
And I love your other comments too. GREAT insight. Great processing, lots of truth!
AND YAY for your house being yours and not an extension of their house, I came to the same conclusion about me. I am me, and individual and not an extension of THEM.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Caden,
(I deleted the post that you said was an earlier draft 🙂

Your insight is fantastic. Your examples here are so perfect! Thank you so much for sharing and for being a part of this site. I had to override all these false messages that I had received about myself too in order to overcome the beliefs that I had about myself; that I was a pain and more trouble than I was worth, a burden, a drag on everyone else.

Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, you said, “When I was defined as “not good enough” or “not worthy” by the actions of others in my life, it is understandable that I believed that definition of “me”. And as long as I believed that the definition of me was correct, I didn’t believe I had a right to HAVE boundaries. I didn’t believe that I had a choice in my own life about what kind of treatment I had to accept. I didn’t understand that I was being treated badly and that I had a right to say no to that treatment.”

The opening paragraph of that website you gave the link for says something about having the right to defend and protect ourselves.

So are you saying that it’s no point telling people that they have the right to have boundaries, because those words don’t mean anything when there is the internal message from the past that defined who they are and what they have a right to? Simply saying, “You have a right to defend and protect yourself, you should set boundaries, nobody has the right to define your life, etc.” is not very helpful when a person has been hammered with another “truth”.

I myself shudder when I read or hear those sorts of messages, sometimes coming from people who are respected “experts” who work with victims! They shake their heads at why some people just continually allow themselves to be exploited when they have been “advised” to take responsibility and set boundaries. But the experts don’t realize that this sort of advice is echoing the earlier advice, that you are too stupid to know what to do, that you have to be told, that it’s your fault, etc.

Setting boundaries right now is extremely tricky. Not with most people. Just with the abusive ex. Can’t get a restraining order – he lives too near and police won’t do it. Told him not to do certain things, he escalates. Not enough resources to go to court. Not able to move. If we went to court, he would get more, not less, according to lawyers. Domestic violence services’ advice is lay low and don’t go to court because they have too much experience with their clients not getting a fair deal. One of their clients was murdered in spite of being in their shelter and care.

So it’s not as simple as just saying something and following up. If a person wants to steamroll you, simply stating a boundary is not enough. Having consequences is not enough if you can’t follow up with the consequence, eg “I’ll call the police” when the police won’t do a lot.

The most important thing for me is my internal boundary – my mind space. He’s not getting that. I’m not buying any of the messages he is shoving into me. I told him not to put them in my letterbox, so he shoves them under my door, without an envelope. I still refuse to read them but I get a friend to, in case there is anything urgent which he tends to put in these letters just so I have to read them.

Thanks for the article, Darlene, and if you have any more examples, please post them! I love these sorts of articles.


Great Post!…I can relate to what you said about being defined as unworthy & less than. My family didn’t try to understand me as much as they expected me to understand, respect, & accept their controlling ways. Well, I tried to be the understanding & compliant daughter to avoid their wrath, however, that did not serve me well since I got the abuse anyway. The emotional & psychological abuse continued from childhood into adulthood. The sarcastic/demeaning digs from mom and the yelling & cruel way my father regarded me is sickening to remember. I experienced trauma repeatedly, & was told to shut up & put up. The message was to Protect Family not yourself. Such Crap! Once, I started limiting my contact with family, I started making strides in listening to myself & making my own choices, without family approval. I grew up thinking family approval & acceptance was the most important thing. However, they mistreated me and I didn’t understand I was being abused, because I was given the message that I was flawed & I was the problem. I did not know that I didn’t have to accept the mistreatment, since I was conditioned to believe that the abuse was normal. I knew it wasn’t normal, but could not put my finger on what it was that contributed to my depressions & anxiety. Now, I’m more than aware & I’m trying to cope with the Trauma resulting from my childhood. I’m getting in touch with my anger and expressing it. It’s scary, since I learned the definition of anger to be rageful & destructive in my FOO, yet I had to suppress my anger.
Thanks for another thought provoking post!


@ Krissy, Wow! I did not know you were going through all of that with your Ex. I apologize, b/c a previous post was kind of light hearted about when he sent you the book about acceptance/forgiveness. I just find it funny in my own life, how we are supposed to accept all this atrocious and abusive behavior, and forgive it all.
That is scary, how angry your ex is, and how he blatantly ignores and disrespects all of your boundaries. I’m sorry for you, that you can’t move. Good for you, for not reading his letters, and having your friend screen them. I think by attaining that boundary in your mind,not allowing him space there, that is a big victory. It is easier to set a physical boundary, it seems,at least for me, than a mental one. These people live in your head! Him not being able to take up space there, seem like a big win!
Good luck with all of your endeavors to separate from him. I am sorry you are going through all of this!



BULLSEYE! Great job, Darlene! Like “Rocky” said, life isn’t about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up!


Hi Krissy
Yes, that is pretty much what I am saying. If I have been told that I am ugly all my life, then people can tell me all day long that I am beautiful, but I am going suspect motive and dismiss the compliment as wrong until I change the core belief. I shudder too! I have always said that half my healing came from realizing that I the middle of the bridge was missing when it came to healing. I was supposed to just magically recover from all the lies that had been set in place all my life; those lies formed my belief system and I had to find out what they were, validate that they WERE lies before I could overcome/overturn them.
Setting boundaries in your situation is very hard, I understand. I am so glad that you have your internal boundary!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sonia
Great points! I found that realizing what the message that I got from the actions was very different than the messages that I got told was where much of my confusion was. And then there were the unspoken messages; where consequences were the result of misunderstanding any unspoken messages. And for so many of us, trying never made any difference anyway. That is why looking at the truth is so powerful. We see the futility in the whole system. It was the fear of rejection for me that kept me from standing up for myself and to the whole thing, when it reality, I had been rejected for the most part for most of my life.
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Barbara Joy
Hi and thanks!
Hugs, Darlene


I think bounderies are a beautiful thing because they make it possible to walk away…mentally, emotionally ,and physically…..from ppl who hurt or devalue or damage with actions and words and they help me to find a place that is finally safe and comforting and real. I had so much pain and suffering and control, abuse, neglect and was squashed like a bug over and over …every time I tried to be myself or stand up for myself, so I learned behaviors and ways of coping and even speaking to others that masked how I really was feeling. I crushed it all inside. Not anymore! Putting up boundaries is like putting up invisible walls ….the healthy kind…around my space and person. I am still in the process of learning more and more how to empower myself in this way,(especially with my husband) and it seems to be the little things that I now have to figure out . Some ppl have strong,stubborn, forceful, overopinionated personalities and try to pressure me to do things I dont want to…or am not comfortable doing, or agree with them about something . I really struggle with that and feel like a whimp, but I have gone back to a few ppl and told them honestly how I feel and how I have changed my mind from what I origionally agreed to do. I am not a passive person at all…in fact, the healthier I get, the more I realize that I could crush someone if I am not careful with my new-found confidence….but I dont want to! I also dont want to still be seen as a pushover and weak and “nice”….where I seem to have a target on my back…So…finding strength from boundaries inside of myself and making sure that I uphold them is my goal! Love this article!


“my house is a very, very, very fine house…”

I love this: But, I am finally able to feel like my home is MY home, my safe place, (and NOT an extension of THEIR house that I’m still being abused in …)


Hi Everone,

I was 33 years old and in counselling and will never forget when I asked my counsellor, what are boundaries?. I had no idea what they were or what the concept of boundaries were. I also asked my counsellor what do I give off and she said due to my lack of boundaries, I was saying to everyone who ever met me, Im Open, USE ME.

I would love to have learned what boundaries are from a child, but now that I am an adult I have a new voice that speaks to me that says is this good for you, if it isnt I consider setting boundaries. I am no longer so open and ready to be a servant or slave to anyone anymore and I like the feeling of safeness and space I feel when i set a boundary.

Thanks for this article Darlene spot on, very helpful and meaningful.


Emma:” I was saying to everyone who ever met me, Im Open, USE ME.” This is me, too. 🙁 I have never learned to set boundaries, to the point where I don’t know how to.

I’m not sure what to do about all this. I’m desperate. I try to repeat mantras that I’m worthy and lovable, but, it doesn’t work for very long. I’m angry that I have to struggle this much because of what people did to me. people that were supposed to protect me. And I’m angry that I live in a society full of lies, a society that lets parents treat us this way.


Hi Maralina
Emerging from Broken ~ this entrie website is about what to do about all this. Mantra’s and affirmations never worked for me because I had to fix my broken foundationn (belief system) first. It was like I was saying “I am worthy” and my belief system responded “LIAR” I had to get to the roots of that in order to change the belief and fix the foundation. It makes me angry too but I used that anger to fire up my healing process. I used it to fight back and fight for me!
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Diane
Great comments and love your goal! I totally relate to that knowledge that I could “crush” someone with my new found strength and confidence. It proves to me that I have an awareness of how the misuse of power works and also that I know I could misuse mine now too. I have NO desire to be in power over someone else though because I know that is not love OR truth both of which I have worked too hard to find for myself and my life.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Emma!
Love your comments too! YAY for self love and standing firm against being used.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, what you say in #15 is so true and powerful. It is an exercise in futility. I, too, fear rejection, but have been rejected most of my life by these people as well.
In reading the posts today, I feel I am able to get in touch with my feeings other than anger about these issues. It is very intense for a moment, then fleeting. Almost as if I can not hold on to the feeling. Very quickly, a confusion sets in, like I am gas lighing myself! So deeply ingrained is all of this. Hopefully, though, this is a change for the better.



Yes, setting boundaries is of great difficulty to me. Actually, the very first time that i’ve properly tried to set a boundary (a week or so ago) was the moment my Mother abandoned me (again)completely.

I wish there were some way to introduce ourselves and give a bit of background so that our individual situations make more sense. A very brief summary of my situation is that my Mom has always been co-dep. My bio father was an alcoholic and he and my Mom conceived me out of wedlock and split up before I was born. At the age of 8, she met another man (my Stepfather) who was a very vindictive, controlling narcissist. When I had an argument (goodness knows over what) when I was 8 (we had been moved into his home because ours burned down) he leaned over me (he is at least 6 feet tall) and told me that if I carried on then I could pack my s**t and get out of his home. I think that really set the tone for things forever. I always knew he didn’t like me but that exchange really put me in my place. It is my belief he feels my Mothers resources were diluted by having me around (not 100% there for him) and that he resents me for being the product of another relationship/man and his ego just can’t handle it. As for my Mother, she tried to be the referee for years and then somewhere along the way she decided that I must be as awful as he made out and sort of joined forces with him. We were poor and he was upper middle class. They are now very comfortable financially and she NEVER wants a single reminder of where she came from (she grew up poor too). I think this is all a big part of why i’m so disposable.

He would play mind games with me as a child, go out of his way to humiliate me (making me change clothes in the mens changing rooms when I was 12), was very punitive and made me sweat for every dime he gave me (things like money for movies with friends when I was 13) and kept a ledger for debts as I got older (college, etc). My Mom still reminds me how amazing they were for putting braces on my teeth and just think how i’d be if they’d not done that (I had braces at 14/15).

I could go on and on, but even as an adult there is no respect or boundary. I mostly just want to be treated like an adult. Like they would treat any other adult. I don’t want to be yelled to get out of their home in front of my young kids or him pulling the phone cord out of wall and cutting off a conversation where me and my Mother are arguing. It’s not a lot to ask. I ask the same from my Mom. I’d like to copy the contents of the text exchange we had resulting from him pulling the cord out of the wall after I expressed how upset I was that she wouldn’t help me when I needed to take my daughter to the ER (she’s six). This is a really super example of me trying to set a boundary in a non angry confrontational fashion and failing miserably!


Hi miralina,

Thank you for your comments. I felt really angry too (almost out of control anger)but looking back thats a really healthy response to have because for me, it meant that I was finally protecting me and using my anger to defend, stop abuse and start taking care of me where the so called “adults” failed.

Just being here is a really positive move and I’m glad your here and I have hope that you will find lots of support and knowledge and strength here. Its a struggle but I kept on digging and its been so worth it and positive.



The back story is that I had asked her to watch my 3 year old while I took my six year old to ER (as advised by out of hours doctor) and she was at a restaurant with my Stepfather and declined to do so because it would be awkward and she just didn’t know what I wanted her to do. It was a long few days leading up to this and we were trying to figure out what was wrong with my youngest so after the above exchange I hadn’t been in touch with her for ONE day so here goes how it went:

HER: Hey what’s up? You rang? Call me back now if you to chat or need me. Love ya all.

ME: Got too much going on to talk. Was @ hospital last night – got more to address today. Hands full. Talk later!

HER: Hope H is feeling better. I am like you got stuff happening. Ahh will chat when you can talk. Love you all.

After this she went on Facebook and declared me as “pushing her buttons” and a chapter she was going to close in her life as she could just do no right and always got it wrong.

I took the bait and called her. They were packing to go to the beach with their neighbours at the time and my Stepfather got pissed that we were talking about previous events and pulled the phone cord out of the wall. I never heard back from her but sent her this message immediately after being cut off of the phone line:

ME: I deserve etter than this – I do sooo much for this family and helping you guys out what it may be without question without doubt. You hanging up on me and making what has been at best a difficult couple of days is not right. I am a good daughter and a good person, the sad part is that you’re never going to acknowledge that. maybe I should just treat you like XXXX does and then you can see the difference.

ME: I also know that your still @ the house and your beach folks aren’t there. XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX are there. So this is “it’s all about family?” So glad i’ve been there for your illnesses, to help with XXXX, my husband coming to help with stuff at the house. Were good people who don’t deserve this.

I refer to my sister (Stepdads bio daughter)in these posts who outright hates my Mother and makes no secret of it. She curses her out and has even hit her before (though the validity of that claim is in question). My Mom has lots of illnesses (I believe she is addicted to prescription meds) and my Stepfather travels for work so we help out with errands, fixing things at the home, maintaining their pool and arbitration when things get heated between my Mom and Sister. That’s what the above referred to.

EIGHT days later (after absolutely no contact on either of our parts) my Mother sends this.

HER: Ready to chat. Just you and me in person at yoru home? Running errands and would like to drop by.

ME: When did you want to come over?

HER: I am now back at the house. Umm how does tomorrow 11:00 work. I just want you and I to talk. No confrontations. Just some talking. I do not want to do this over the phone either.

ME: There will be no confrontation. However, the terms of our relationship will be redefined. I will accept, from you or XXXX (Stepfather), no less than to be treated like a respectable adult or human being – just as you treat (and I named several of their adult friends here) and anyone else who deserves it. That respect extends to my husband and my children. This includes being called out on facebook and punitive whims regarding your last rights. I am a good daughter and a decent person who does the right thing every chance I have and I am not a person deserving of treatment I am given. I can’t make you be parents or grandparents but I do expect better than wht I was handed last week when I needed help in an Emergency situation. I will no longer accept any less. I deserve no less. I also forgot to mention that yes, 11 will be fine. What did you want to chat about?

HER: I think by reading your text that there is anger with me and is not cooled down yet and I think maybe we should reschedule this. I know you know I was coming to talk about it all. But feel not so sure. I feel strongly we will just bicker and fuss. Not doing that. Please lets look at next week and see if you are more calmer with me. I am not in a stand off with you.

ME: Well this is not anger but rather an attempt to express my expectations and obvously we need to understand expectations or there will be furher disappointment and upset. There was no anger in that text but rather disappointment and you cannot expect that I won’t have feelings about things. I am not going to be in a dance here. I’ve said that you are welcome to come over. I am willing to have a mutually respectful relationship and that is not anger but rather a boundary for my wellbeing which is important to me as a person, wife and Mother.

HER: I read it all. I feel this subject is to heated to discuss with you. Let me know if your available Monday and feel like we can talk. I just sense to much to try to talk yet.

ME: If you’re feeling heat in my setting a boundary – which will not change, then I don’t know what more to suggest. I am not going to lift my boundary and allow myself to be disrespected further. If it is impossible to respect me, theni’m unsure that we can have a healthy relationship. I am not sacrificing my wellbeing (emotional and mental). If you read that as anger then you always will. You are turning my normal request into an argument I won’t have. I am not angry, I am disappointedat how things have gone. I am entitled to have those feelings. I had different expectations and feel we need to establish expectations so that we can have a relationship of mutual understanding. I am more than happy to work on this with you.

HER: No not your boundary

ME: Yes. My boundary. I am allowed to decide what treatment I will accept in my life. That choice belongs to every human being.

And I’ve had absolutely no further contact from her. I am not contacting her either. I made a request that she treat me better and be respectful (not hanging up on me, belittling me on facebook, threatening her will and last rights, etc) and she kept saying I was angry and as you can see she finally said it all “NO NOT YOUR BOUNDARY”!


Hi tangie,

I read your last comment and am sorry that you went through such an abusive upbringing and your stepfather sounds like a monster.

I wonder why these “step” people marry people who already have children if they resent the children so much? Why dont they marry someone who doesn’t already have children?

Im pleased that your here and am sure you will find lots of knowledge and support here.


Darlene, I didn’t set personal boundaries because I didn’t realize that mine had been trampled before I knew what they were. I accepted disrespect as normal behavior and if someone said they loved me then I thought they had to right to ask almost anything of me. I belonged to others before I ever knew that I belonged to myself.

Some people think of morality as boundaries but the boundaries I’m talking about are deeper than morality. Without them, morality has no personal foundation. I needed the basics of where I ended and others began so that I could claim my personal dignity.



That is how the belief system works. I took over tearing myself down where ever they left off because that was familiar to me. I was used to it. (that had to change!) In a way I was constantly blaming myself and reprimanding myself to try harder never stopping long enough to see that the burden of the entire relationship was always on me. There was no mutuality. That isn’t love.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Tangie
Thanks for sharing your history and introducing yourself. OH MY GOSH! This is exactly how it all starts happens. I can relate to some of the details of your story; my mother put me behind all her men and there is a name for that; neglect. It was her job to protect me but she didn’t. And it was her job to raise me and feed me. I stole my cloths when I was 13 and 14 because I couldn’t stand the guilt trip. I found ways to buy them by the time I was 15 because I was so scared to go to jail. Paying for things for your own children is not something to hold over their heads and play the “obligation card” or the “after all I have done for you card”. That is so nasty
Hugs, Darlene


Hello Darlene,my husband posted this to his face book: Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents,your past relationships,your job,the economy,the weather,an argument,or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every choice you make period. I beg to differ,was it my choice to be molested and raped as a child,was I responsible for the abuse that followed with every year after that and with a number of people who just saw fit to hurt me in one way or another. I have been diagnosed with PTSD am I responsible for that? what are boundaries and how do I set them? My husband thinks that I should just be able to turn my life around if I stop blaming others for my battered syndrome. Did I mention that he is a functioning alcoholic. He holds a very good job but when he comes home he is a raging,sloppy drunk that invades everyone’s boundaries,I’m basically afraid of everyone,I’m afraid to go against anyone especially my husband, he has ran me into the ground with his outlandish demands and lack of respect for me as a person which I never had, it was never given to me as a child. If I was never given boundaries how then do I set them up for myself? Can’t wait to be me. Thank you for insight Darlene.


Hi Janie, thanks for your comment. I didn’t expect anyone to comment – I was just grateful for the opportunity to vent, like many do. I don’t feel like I’ve through venting (!!), because I received quite a few letters recently and I don’t know why they affect me, even though I don’t read them and get others to.

I have no idea whether to try to get some police enforcement or just ignore him. If I apply for a restraining order he will have to front up at court and knowing him, he escalates and makes things harder in other ways, eg not contact me if my children need me and tell them I caused it, just to prove a point. Some boundary that is! The only effective boundary is death. Even disappearing to a faraway country would not work as the court would force you back. Since neither of us look likely to die soon, I just have to live like he doesn’t exist. Which is probably why he is trying harder than ever to threaten, intimidate, hook, manipulate, etc.

Tangie, keep venting, and keep sane – they’re the insane ones, trying to tell you that you are angry, etc. No one has a right to define who you are, what you are feeling, why you are doing that, etc.


So many truths being shared here – I never learned boundaries. Momster had hers, though. A newspaper or book was held up to her face until bedtime. If you need help as a kid with anything – clothes, homework, life questions – “there are a set of encyclopedias there and a whole wall of books”…figure it out. They even remodeled the garage into a master suite two bathrooms and everything just to distance them from their spawn. My siblings and I had to be ready for anything at anytime. Go shopping – make a meal or snack, water the lawn – do the laundry…vacuum the whole house – NOW!Go drop off this payment…It seems subtle when it is everyday your whole life…Now I know – after being no contact for a couple of years that they were the messed up ones.
We were not given privacy and I even had a shared big room with my sister and brother. It was really big, there were only the “walls” we created ourselves with furniture. No doors for the kids. I did not see how weird it was at the time.

The food and allergy issue was a real problem for the kids in the family too. I remember not eating any dairy or chocolate “because we were allergic” but we were always asked from about age 7 to prepare a dessert for the parents. Chocolate ice cream, cake whatever…we had to serve them in their chair or bed, but could not eat it…oh yeah cheese and crackers before dinner – don’t eat that either…I have not thought about this before. Onions would make me throw up and get diarrhea but momster would always put them in stuff, and make fun of me for picking them out…What sucks is all the years as a teen and young adult I wasted trying to please them or help them or feeling sorry for them because they had it so hard raising all of us kids…what a load! They spent a hell of a lot of money on what they wanted and gave us hell for how much we cost them.


Another gem Darlene, I have been reading here for a few weeks now but not really commenting … all you say though has really provided some sorely missing pieces in my ’emerging from broken’, and I thankyou for that with all my sore little heart!

It occurred to me just now, that a big part of this boundary issue for me has been working out what MY values are. Not only did I not think I had any value, but because I didn’t really know myself (all I knew was what I saw through other peoples eyes) , I didn’t know what I valued either. What I valued was what other people told me I should be valuing, and that was invariably what benefited them …..In gradually starting to learn what I value, learn that I had the RIGHT to have values that were different from “theirs”, shit learn that I had VALUE just for being a human being living on planet earth and stating all that to myself in my journal, the boundaries are quite naturally starting to be created.

This is so hard to put into words because its new, even though I’ve been actively trying to heal for a long time ….. but now I’m starting to naturally see where those boundary crossings happen, where I never did before and because I’m seeing them now, I can do something about it then & there. Its like its happening from the inside out now whereas before I was trying to put these “boundaries” (whatever the F&^K they were) into place from the outside in.

I hope I’ve made sense, I’m a “leave a comment” virgin …..


It’s funny but when I read what I wrote here it sounds so “nit-picky” I have spent years studying the Bible, self help gurus, all sorts of life-enriching philosophies;etc. I feel like I have a grasp on my value as a human being. Somehow getting out these little incidents without excusing them helps me to heal in a greater way; although I sound like I don’t have it together. Haha.
I used to have a void when I went no contact, but as you said Darlene – it is a void where the pain used to be. I try to fill it with being around people I love and have a a real exchange with; or by doing some fun stuff.


Darlene – My Mother went on some sort of quest to find a man. It was like she hit this point in her life and nothing was going to stop her. There was a time when she wasn’t in this pursuit. I often look at my own daughter, who will be in the first grade this year and wonder about my Mother in ways I could NEVER contemplate her before. I have this memory emblazoned in my mind of being in Kindergarden and her having to run an errand or do something important (so important I don’t even know what it was) and she told me i’d have to stay on my own and that she would lock everything and I wasn’t to touch anything or answer the door, phone or anything. I still remember that Kindergarden little girl glued to the living room chair, scared to death! I didn’t move. I barely breathed. It was all fine and she came home but I remember her shutting that door and the terror setting in of being all alone. When I look at my first grader, I KNOW I could NEVER EVER EVER leave her alone. In fact, I can scarcely think of somewhere i’d HAVE to go that she couldn’t. There was a series of men from there and one of the boyfriends she set her sights on was in another state and he took me out one day (without her – where WAS SHE?) and said we’d play a little joke on her and I would need to get on the payphone and explain to her that we’d had a car crash. I did this. How do you question a grown man telling you what to do afterall? She was so, so neglectful. I spent so much time away. So much. With who? Whoever! She will tell folks that the only grandfather I knew sexually abused her sister and yet she left me with them, I slept in the same bed with he and my Grandmother sometimes! I don’t remember being abused (I think I would) but how? How the HELL do you do that? I have kids, I know the difficulties, but I have NEVER made the choices she did. I wouldn’t. How could she?

Jane – I am so sorry about your husband. What a shame that he feels the need to carry on a cycle that has culminated in so much pain in your life. I can’t imagine trying to glue the pieces back together with him “bulling” his way through the china shop. I wouldn’t pretend to be in the same boat, but I did get pretty exasperated with my husband this weekend because I had a moment and he was shocked that it shook me. He was sure that I should know the game by now, that after all these years I know where I stand and with that knowledge, how can I get my cage rattled. I really let him have it because I felt betrayed by his lack of understanding! I suppose in a way your husband is in a cycle of his own. I hope your new journey starts a road to healing.

The little spin I had referred to above, resulted from a phone call with my sister. She is NC/LC with them also and Stepfather (her bio dad) phoned her to basically see how she was doing. He even asked if she had enough money for groceries. He hates me so much, he never called to see if my daughter was alive or dead. I felt hurt then I realised I would NEVER be valued or wanted for circumstances I couldn’t control (being another mans child). Then I got angry with him and then I got angry with myself. I felt like a chump. What a first class fool i’d been for my whole life, changing my behavior and altering who I was all the time to please him and my Mom. Just dying inside for someone to want me, to really care about me and want me to do well in this world and to thrive. I felt like they must have been laughing all along. I felt disgusting. What a disgusting human being I must have been that my own Mother didn’t care, my own bio dad was busy sorting out his alcoholism and my own Stepfather was preoccupied with how to be rid of me once and for all and here I was the yapping seal performing tricks in the background.

I should really hate them for all of this. And I do. But I also struggle because I hate myself. I wish I had the balls to walk into their home and say everything I ever needed to say and walk out again.


Tamara–I can so relate. My parents would always be reading a book or watching television and highly resented any interruption, often not even responding. My mother would physically lean forward into her book if I ever so much as looked in her direction–completely unavailable and unapproachable. They spent all of their time avoiding us, but organized things such that I wasn’t able to make a move in the house without being scrutinized for it. It was claustrophobic hell and an environment completely designed by their needs and boundaries. Such people don’t deserve our esteem let alone guilt, though I was made to feel the same way as a teen.

It is great to be able to share here, and take our sides. I never saw my experiences with food, allergies, and etc. quite so clearly as when I typed that up yesterday. Thank you, Darlene!


Caden – what you said about a claustrophobic hell and environment designed by their needs reminds me of our old house. It had a beautiful huge “family” room that my NM destroyed with a design for a breakfast nook as she called it. It destroyed the look of the open high beam ceiling and gave her a $20,000.00 spying booth; really weird. My husband and friend called that home the Winchester mystery house because every turn you made was a dead end. I am glad we learned to joke about it in adulthood. In kindergarten and 1st grade I had to hurry home to babysit my 3 yr old brother. To this day I still catch myself wanting to close the blinds on a beautiful day – until I push past it. A 5 and 3 yr old might want to hide but I don’t have to now. I taught preschoolers for a few years and can not imagine leaving them alone…I love every ones children !!!


Thank you so much for your responses. I feel I can relate to so many posts here. I don’t know where to start with this work or how, it’s a bit like trying to find my way through darkness. But you are here, so that makes a difference.

I have made the decision to not have contact with my family right now. That has helped some. But I feel like I don’t have much of a support system, with people actually being supportive. I have a tendency of finding people that, well, kinda in the end reflect my own belief systems, my beliefs about myself I think. In some ways I end up in abusive or not supportive relationships, that play out the same dynamics, because I just don’t know any other way. I don’t know how to act as if i had value or boundaries, I don’t know how to ask for help and receive it. It’s awful. Many times lately I just don’t seek out contact because of this.

Lately I’ve been looking for new work, and I seem to be able to get work pretty easily, oddly enough. Only at the same time I discover I’ve fallen into depression again and feel horrible. And discover that I’ve been out looking and applying for jobs I don’t actually want. It’s like I have these voices in my head going, “you don’t actually believe you can work with the things you like, do you? Why even try? why even apply for them? and money is more important than your happiness. we need to be able to tell other people that you make a lot of money, no matter how much you hate your job, or that it stops you from going after the things you want. why should you get to work with the things you dream about anyway.”

And I keep doing the same things over and over. Looking for well paying jobs that I can get because my parents forced me to behave/study in a certain way, and ending up unhappy and sick. I don’t want to get sick again – my depressions have been very severe and I want my health now. I hope i can find the belief in myself enough to try to go towards the things that I like in life, not what they wanted. I hope I can find healthy support for who i truly am.


It’s like the people around me, are so much like my parents – they don’t see me. They don’t see who I truly am, my real skills and my dreams. My mother treated me like I was non-existent most of the time. I was just a cardboard cut out in the shape of a daughter. To be shaped for her own needs. And I end up attracting people in my life that treat me that way, because that’s how I treat myself. Do they need a caretaker right now, I’ll be a caretaker. Do they need this or that, I can do that. I can be anything or anyone. And I’m no one to myself. I can’t know whether I like this book or some other book. It makes me furious.

When I’m looking for work in IT, I apply for support type of work. Why don’t I try to apply for the ones that I actually want within IT, web developing work? Because I don’t feel like I deserve it. Also, I don’t even know if I want to work with IT at all. I want to work with health, maybe in a health store. So that’s the story of my life, I chose to do things I don’t actually want to do, driven on by unconscious parental voices. But, writing about them now, makes it more visible to me.

: /


Miralina – The honesty you express here proves your insight and brilliance. I hope that the real you can come out more and more. Sharing here and reading Darlene’s posts (and everyone else’s) has really helped me make better choices and healed my wounded heart the past couple of years.


Darlene – (comment #8) – Your encouragement means a lot … I struggle with feelings of guilt over taking the time to myself for this whole process … but, that’s really just the screwy views instilled in me “Taking time to work on your mental health is a just plain selfish use of your time …” type thinking. Crazy, how such things can keep you hopelessly caged in pain for so long. So happy to have EFB to remind me it’s ok and healthy to take care of your emotional well being!

Kate – (comment #17) – Thank you

Tangie – (comment #25) – Your conversation with your mom gave me chills! That is SO similar to my attempts to have a civilized conversation with my mother about our relationship! So many times I’ve given her the opportunity to ‘hear’ me and hoped for some way to salvage our screwed up relationship – or at least make it more live-able … but this results only in her accusations of me ‘being too sensitive/selfish/’…etc. for setting boundaries, for wanting to be treated with respect … During such conversations I always remained calm, collected … Simply stating, then re-stating what I needed out of our relationship. But, during the conversation, she would be regularly bursting loudly into tears and find some way to make it about HER pain and me being at fault. This behavior USED to work like a charm on me. I’d feel TERRIBLE for even bringing up anything, and apologize for ALL the pain (whether I was at fault or not) … and that’d be the end of the conversation – she’d avoided accepting any blame, and having to take any kind of redeeming action. And I was piled with guilt and feeling like I was being ‘dramatic’ and ‘overly sensitive’ … Simply for wanting to be treated with love.
With the clarity that I’ve come into now, I see the futility of trying to have an open honest conversation with someone who is lying to themselves. It is, thankfully, not my responsibility to exhaust myself making sure she understands WHY I’m doing anything I’m doing. I say what needs said to ensure my boundaries are out there, beyond that – it’s none of my concern anymore. Thank goodness.
I wish you the best as you continue to deal with such a difficult situation!



Wow what you said in #38/39 is exactly what is happening to me right
now especially the job search. Web Design. Thats amazing. With my Dad
it was always about the job He wanted me to have, not what I wanted, or
what I was skilled at. Trying to find a job now, my heart isnt in it anymore.
Like why bother with something great because I end up the Doormat.
I have felt valueless. I have gone no contact with my invalidating,
shameing, blaming, family. I. Dont. Miss. Them.
Thats my boundry. No more abuse from Them.
Tangie your story rings true for me too. Its taking time. And watching
the amazing supporting parents of the olympic athletes just made
me cry. My parents never saw me as having any value except as a servant,
or emotional punching bag. How different my future would have
been had my parents loved me, or supported me. Thanks for listening.


Hi Jane,
Keep reading; there is a ton of info in this site about those boundaries. I write about HOW I found my value by seeing where it got damaged in the first place. Learning boundaries came through finding out my rights as a human being and that the so many things that happened to me were wrong and that the messages that I got from the ways that I was treated were also wrong. It was through seeing these truths that I was able to find the strength to believe I deserved boundaries and to set them. You did not cause your own PTSD. It started somewhere. I don’t blame you for being afraid of your husband; he sounds a bit dangerous and sometimes it is best to have a saftey plan in place as we prepare to stand up to abusive people of that nature.
hugs, Darlene


I have been really thinking a lot about boundaries since reading this article because it is applies to what I am trying to learn right now in my life. One thing I just became aware that I have a habit of doing is engaging with people on an emotional basis/connection frequently. Instead of stepping back emotionally/mentally from a person, I think I have been hardwired by my upbringing to try to immediately “read” a person. Their facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, the look in their eyes etc. I know I have always been hyper sensitive in this way to others and I think it could be because I was always trying to figure out what was going to happen to me next in my family. When my parents behaved a certain way, I tried to be more pleasing…when my parents acted another way, I knew there was going to be violence and anger headed my direction or at my older brother. I never felt safe emotionally. I think I stil have that to work on in my life now because I can see where my old way of reacting or responding to ppl is still playing out too frequently. I am great at making ppl feel comfortable and putting them at ease…but it isnt in a healthy way for me to do that at this point in my life. I am thinking that it blurs the boundaries somehow. I am feeling the need to take care of ME and MY feelings and do things MY way and not care about what anyone else thinks. I want to speak to someone without trying to read them and avoid “danger” signals. I want to interact with ppl without me trying to do all of the emotional work in the situation or relationship. I can do that when I am aware of it, but I am just now becoming aware that I am not aware enough! It frustrates me , but I am beginning to see how I was trained to “be all things to all people” in a very unhealthy way….and it was primarily forced upon me by my parents who felt they had to control me in every way possible. I used to actually believe that it was “okay” and I “understood” them and why they treated me the way they did, but now I sure dont! The more I allow the boundary of not having them in my life ever again, the more I remember the ways I was treated and my older brother. My parents were very very cruel and I feel it is almost like a victory inside of me each time I discover some lie about myself and realize the truth and overcome it and learn new boundaries. It is better than revenge!


Hi Tamara
I read your comments on my phone last night and when I got your second comment saying that you thought what you wrote sounded “nit-picky” I had to go read your first comments again; It is interesting that you re read your comments and thought they sounded nit-picky and back that up with your years in the pursuit of recovery. I was exactly like that too! I believed that I had “no excuse” to be unhappy or struggling STILL after all my years in pursuit of wholeness.
You thought by talking about it the way that it really was that you sounded like you don’t have it together. When I read your comments I was disgusted with a mother who resented taking care of her own children and regarded them as servants and rubbed it in their faces that they couldn’t have special treats like ice cream. I was reading about a child who was dismissed and disregarded and a child who learned to feel sorry for the “burden” she caused her own parents. I didn’t see anything nit-picky about it at all. Just the truth about the way it really was. And YES getting them out without excusing them made the biggest difference towards my REAL recovery over any and all other things that I ever tired in all the years I was seeking freedom and wholeness. It’s just the truth.
Thank you so much for sharing. I am sure that your voice speaks for many!
Hugs, Darlene


We have two Mimi’s here ~ just so that everyone is aware. This mimi is new to commenting. The other mimi comments often and has for a very long time now. The way that you can be aware of which on is which is the first Mimi spells her name with a capital M and the second one uses a small letter m.

Hi mimi
Welcome to commenting! Very well said! That is exactly how it worked for me too. Trying to put a boundary in place when I didn’t even understand what I had a right to or not.
Thank you for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Tangie,
I hear you! I wrote a post about my mother taking me to see my pedo grandfather. (http://emergingfrombroken.com/my-grandfather-the-scary-drunken-pedophile/) and my horror over realizing that she took me there! She took a chance on my saftey. And then told me all about what a pervert he was and how he had been caught molesting my cousin. And about leaving you alone in the house and the man that took you too; these are the kinds of truths that I am talking about facing. These things are very damaging.
My heart went out to yours when you talked about “just dying inside for someone to want me, to really care about me”. That is what keeps us going so long in the dysfunctional system. It isn’t you that was disgusting. Think about it. Think about if a little girl (your daughter or the neighbours kid) came to you and told you YOUR story as though it was her story. How would you react to it? Would you think that SHE must be unlovable?
I hated myself too and it was in undoing all the lies that I believed; sorting all of it out that I came to love myself and heal from the damage they caused.
Thank you for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


This is really good work. I had to realize this stuff (that you are sharing) before I found out who I really was and developed a relationship with myself. I had to face these painful truths. That is what this website is all about. You are really on the right track.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam!
VERY well said! Thanks!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Diane
Great Comments ~ Yay for not understanding them anymore! That has been such an important part of my healing process. I always had my focus on them; what they wanted and on trying to understand them (so I could better do what they wanted AND accept the way they treated me)
Thanks for posting!!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I congratulate you on providing some thought provoking posts! As I read through each comment, it’s reflective of the deep pain our mothers have created for us. As I tried to analyze how I felt about the boundaries I never set, I realized this was so hard for me because nobody ever taught me what kind of treatment I was entitled to. As our first formed relationship, we look to our mothers to teach us how a person should be treated. When we’re treated, even from a tiny child, like we have no value it is our assumption that’s what we’re entitled to. Fear of making mistakes stops us from conceiving our own border line.

That’s why I married two men that treated me just like my mother…..I had no idea where the appropriate boundaries might even be IF I should be strong enough to draw the line. I can’t keep the boundaries if I don’t even know where they should be.

Therapists told me for years to draw my boundaries. I didn’t know or couldn’t admit I had no idea where appropriate boundaries might be.

It wasn’t until I had been divorced twice and finally met Mr. Right who instinctively treated me with respect and kindness I realized what I could receive. Because we were married late in life, he was concerned about being plopped into a parental role unequipped. I told him my children don’t need a father, they need to see how to treat a woman and what respect and kindness looked like. All they saw was everyone in my family including their dad treat me like I was undeserving of any kind of human dignity.

I think as Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers we need to first learn how humans should treat each other, then we can know where our lines should be drawn and feel every right to draw them. The same goes for all of our senses. I don’t know if I’m hot or cold. I’m not sure on my level of pain when asked by my doc, I’m convinced I’m not entitled to be with a man who treats me so well.

This might have been a rant…..I”m not sure. But you hit the nail on the head!


Absolutely great and important post Darlene! Thank you! I’ve been traveling so I haven’t been able to keep up with the posts for awhile.

I set boundaries with my adopted father in January. I simply refused to be mistreated or viewed as less than. The final email I sent mentioned that I wanted a relationship with him, but that he would have to treat me with respect and equality if he wanted one with me. He never replied. My stepMom had tried over and over again to get me to budge on my boundaries – even going so far as saying that sometimes what I don’t do says a lot more about me than him. Meaning that by not giving in it’s saying something bad about me. But, honestly, I see it differently. For me, me standing my ground and having boundaries says that I respect and love myself enough not to let myself be abused. If standing up for myself means walking away from them, how does that define me as bad? It doesn’t.

Although, I have noticed since I have been setting boundaries, enforcing them and focusing on the present, that I am happier, more at ease. The problem is that when I feel that way I think I end up scared. Yesterday was my 31st birthday. One of my girlfriends here in Mexico threw a small dinner party for me with a couple other friends. It was so heartfelt and wonderful. This is the first time in my life that I’ve had successful, happy relationships with females (still working on males). I’ve never felt so loved.

I spent most of the day feeling profoundly grateful and happy – then, alternating with intense insecurity and sadness that I’m not as close to my friends in the past. Why would I feel this way? I don’t get it. I spoke with a friend that I’ve been really close to for the past few years and I felt distance between us. Perhaps, because I’m changing, don’t have the same needs and live in a different country? I don’t know, but the distance scared me and I felt depressed.

Did you fear happiness when you started feeling better?


Hi Barbara Joy
Isn’t it sad that therapists who told you for years that you needed to set boundaries, never picked up that you didn’t KNOW HOW! A good therapist would have helped you with that part but most of them are way too afraid of exposing the same truth that many of us were (and many still are) afraid of.
Thanks for sharing
Hugs! Darlene


Thank you for sharing. This is a perfect example of how it so often goes and the lack of response from your step dad tells where he sits with it. He makes a clear statement about how he views the whole thing.
The response from your mom tells where she sits with it. I see it the way that YOU do. None of this defines you as anything but taking care of yourself.

I was very afraid much of the time in the timeframe of my most intense healing time. I changed and many people besides my family didn’t accept the changes. Even my middle daughter begged me to stop and go back to the way things were. (Today she is a young woman herself and is a huge fan of my work, refering this site to some of the girls she meets in university.) I was very afraid of the unknown, and of being totally alone with just my “self love” and that no one would like the “new me” and that I was going to be “a bitch” all because I had self loving boundaries based on the truth! but each time the fear got too big I thought about what the alternative was. And happiness felt like a “trick” which stems from anything that ever made me happy in my childhood or my past usually had a motive attached to it. It was always “too good to be true”.
I hope this makes some sense in answer to your question!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi all,
Chris, I so get what you and Darlene mean about feeling afraid and suspicious about happiness. For years, if I had something nice happen to me, or felt happy, it would be closely followed by an intense sadness. I would always feel very down at Xmas or when I was taking a holiday. Deep down I felt I didnt deserve happiness or peace of mind. Because my mother couldnt stand me having anything in my life that wasnt about her, I grew up to feel that my being happy would cause someone else to feel miserable and angry. I felt exiled from the good things in life that others took for granted. I was terrified of being seen as a threat to anyone, and “played small”. Even though I have come a very long way since then, I still have a slight fear of being seen to be “boasting” or “blowing my own trumpet” when relating anything good that has happened. How sad that we are rendered unable to be all that we were sent here to be……by those who are supposed to “love” us most. Love, Sylvia


I’m responding to your comment #53. You put into words what I’m feeling lately, I’m finding myself “very afraid much of the time”, during my fog busting period with family. My boundaries are getting tighter by limiting contact, however, i still feel the pull to go towards them. It comes back to that “betrayal bond”. I’ve been using this word lately, to describe the relationship with my abusive family. It makes sense of the nonsense & clarifies the Trauma Bond, Not the Love Bond formed in dysfunctional families. Much of it is, what you talk about with being conditioned to believe false beliefs about family. My mom had many sayings & the one I heard often was, “it’s too good to be true”….what does that mean? & what is too good?…this created confusion for me as a child, because when I was very happy, she had to crush the feeling by saying, “it’s too good to be true”. I remember her saying that, when I was crushing on a boy. The message being, there is a motive attached to it. If you believe it, it deprives you of feeling happy….plain & simple.. My happiest moments were with my friends & boyfriends they were my source of happiness. I remember going over my friends’ houses & rarely did they come to my house. The times they were at my house, it felt awkward & tense. That is telling in itself! Real Relationships were not encouraged. I’m sad to say that!…I do have some real friendships now, that are mutual. Yay for that!!


Hi Miralina,

Your posts resonnated in me.

I’m 31 and I don’t succeed too to have a job that I like and I can’t anymore do a job that I hate either, because I can’t make efforts anymore , my body doesn’t tolerate it anymore.

I struggle so hard to be financially independant.
I want with all my heart to do a job or activity that I like but I failed.
I am too scary to do anything, i’m living in my birthtown and I’m very very afraid to see again my abusers each time I go out. Anxiety never leaves me.
I know that it could liberate myself to move to an other region, but i can’t. I am so alone.

I too forced myself to do studies very demanding (to become a nurse) and jobs really hard that I couldn’t handle because of the stress and thepressure. I obeyed too to parental voices.
It’s like a voice tells me it’s ok I let you survive on your own in the society, I let you free but you have to have a hard time and choose a hard work.

I have an idea of what I want to do (arts, using english in my work, working in tourism maybe) but I never dare because anyone encouraged me, on the contrary.
Thanks to my “parents”, I have zero self esteem and I’m afraid of everything and afraid of myself.

I don’t know if my post is useful.

A hug to you 🙂


Sylvia #54…I so relate with your comment. You put into words some things that I didnt know how to articulate….and I appreciate it! I feel for you so much on that because that is 100% how I lived my life. I would purposely not say anything good about myself or what I had done if I had something special happen, or some big event for fear that it would hurt or anger or offend someone. Even when my daughter was born, there were two of my friends who acted miserable because unfortunately they were unable to conceive…and there I was having had a baby. I downplayed one of the happiest seasons of my entire life…pregnancy and early childhood with them. It makes me sad for them, but I did not know how to behave around them. Being a threat, making others jealous….I tried to avoid that at all costs because I was also taught that my happiness was unimportant compared to everyone else. You are so right…it is sad! It is also BS. I am learning that now. If I am happy, I will show it to the world if I want to , and if something great happens, I will share it now. No more hiding it so that others shine and I am shoved in the background. I have to say that I am at a point now in my life where I feel very strong about this….it isnt anger, but it is a determination to fight for my place…my EQUAL place…and if someone is upset, they can tell me and we will discuss it, and if they dont like it and dont talk about it, then it will remain their problem. It isnt my responsibility to make them happy by how I live my life and by saying things in a way that may possibly make them feel whatever way they are going to feel. I think this might also qualify as a new type of “boundary”….one where I push myself forward in order to be stronger and met on equal ground? I do feel for you that you also went through “playing small”….that is a horrible, left out place and it isnt fair or right that you were forced into that so that your mother could always make sure to have attention focused on her. I am sorry for your pain over that and I am glad you have been able to come a long way. Yay!


Darlene said ….”We have two Mimi’s here ~ just so that everyone is aware. This mimi is new to commenting. The other mimi comments often and has for a very long time now. The way that you can be aware of which on is which is the first Mimi spells her name with a capital M and the second one uses a small letter m.”

Seems appropriate to define the name boundaries a little better in a post about boundaries ; ))

I’ve added a ” g.” to my mimi, hopefully that will make it a bit clearer.

Chris, Diane, Sonia, Darlene I can so relate to what all of you have said about hiding, not shining & being scared to be happy. At my house the line of choice was “no news is good news” – I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop, ohoh can’t get too happy, can’t relax too much, better balance it with a little sadness – it really is NUTS, crazy making … I’ve also played it small out of fear and been cheerleader to everyone but myself … I’ve learned to read others so well that as soon as I sense they’re losing interest in what I’m saying about myself, which is usually about one sentence in because I had surrounded myself with people who aren’t interested, I switch the conversation back to them. That is if they dont interrupt me first, its always been about everyone else … You know back when I started writing a journal I remember even having difficulty writing in the first person, its amazing to think how thoroughly stripped of identity I was. I have very few people left in my life at the moment because I’m changing and its not easy.

I heard a saying last week … theres a place between no longer and not yet – thats where I am – I’m no longer that codependant door mat of yesteryear but I’m also not yet the independent woman that can stand in her own light that I wish to be. Its this limbo thats so freakin hard to be with because theres so much silence and pain … coming to a place like this tho is beyond helpful … so thanks lovely people, its amazing how similar all our stories are, you’ve created a beautifully safe place here Darlene.



This is so timely for me. In the last week I’ve had a bunch of drama with my grandmother and decided to cut off my relationship with her yesterday. I needed to do it, though it was difficult for a bunch of reasons. One of the messages that was communicated to me my whole life was that my value came from being the quiet, agreeable listener. I spent my teenagers years going out and doing things with my mom all the time and she would talk and talk and talk and dump a lot of her emotions, frustrations, etc. onto me. I was fully involved in all her dramas with her mother by 13, 14 years old, including reading a couple of her letters to her mother (you know, the ones where we try to address our issues and vent our grievances). When I had my own problems (particularly in my social life—the fact that I was spending all my free time with her or alone in my bedroom from the age of 12 onwards should have been a clue), I never brought them to her, as it was communicated to me (under the surface) that I was not to have problems. My grandmother also came to use me like this in our relationship, though I cut myself down to very low contact in the last three years. Anyway, it’s a long story but basically my grandma came again to me looking for support for a recent drama she caused, as though she were the victim, expressing all her disappointments in the family, etc. and saying things that were really insensitive to me, considering my own circumstances of which she is totally aware. When you try to address anything, she can’t hear anything at all. She lies. She manipulates. She is terribly unhealthy for me and I believe she is going to get worse and worse as her cancer progresses. I am sorry for her but I realized I have to bail out. It’s too much for me with where I’m at in my life. I don’t believe there was any way to have a relationship and somehow extract all the negativity—no boundary would be firm enough, except cutting off. Or at least the stress of high probability is just too much for me.

I also have come to realize that I am not ready for a relationship with my mom, despite her being wiling to go to counselling, and I have no idea when or if I ever will be. I feel like I have a lot more living to do. I know how desperately she wants a good mother/daughter relationship, that this was her dream her whole life—I imagine to somehow right the terrible relationship she’s had with her mother—but again this is not my job. My job right now is to take care of myself and keep on walking my own path to freedom, healing and wellness. It is too much for me to be focussing on working with her issues. I am okay to see her at family events, gatherings or holidays, but not to have a real relationship. I’ve been quite stressed out the last two days with what’s been happening with my grandma, so I’m going to take a breather before I launch into this. I have to do it soon, though, before I go back to my home town in September. I know that I got my mom’s hopes up by getting back in contact and with her be willing to go to counselling, so I know this will probably devastate her. I am sorry for getting her hopes up, and if I had known I’d feel this way before, I certainly would not have asked about the counselling, etc., but I guess the bottom line is that if I can’t do a relationship, I can’t do a relationship. I really can’t help her with her pain. I can be as kind and as considerate as I can be when I write to communicate my position, but that’s all I can do. I am hoping that I will be able to have a relationship with my dad, though. He seems to think he has to choose sides but maybe things will be different now, maybe my mom will accept him to do this… I am sad about all this, all this pain, but I also know that I have to do what I have to do and the position I am in now is the result of them not having broken the cycle of abuse and dysfunction, which I am now intent on doing. I wish that they could understand that, though I am not sure they will… Anyway, I know I can do this and I know that my future will be worth all the pain involved in this process.

I very much thank you for your work. You know that website you linked to… quite a few times when I’d google something looking for help, I ended up there. Sometimes there’s the odd helpful bit but so much that is not, so much “drippiness” and so much of what I think Karenina termed “gloriousa” in a previous post. Interestingly, it was when I googled the title of my novel-in-progress—“Rage”—and the subject—mother/daughter relationships—that I found you.


mimi g. ….You also have articulated perfectly how I used to live part of my life. I am still overcoming in that whole area of reading others and when the person loses interest I automatically switch the conversation back…and I am a fabulous cheerleader! I would laugh, but it isnt really funny at all. It sounds like you understand exactly how I felt my entire life….being “stipped of identity”. That is amazingly put. These are the exact reasons why I am finding it very frustrating at this point in my life with the boundaries with others in small situations. I now feel my identity is in place, and I feel I am fighting to be equal now…but not sure HOW to do the whole conversation thing appropriately with ppl. I am too quick to read others and too hyper sensitive to THEM and THEIR moods and feelings….and now that you mention it…their interest. I dont really actually even care, but it has been such a conditioned pattern of behavior for me that I find it frustrating at times. I commented before , but I will repeat it …..I am needing to become MORE aware of how I do this. I also relate to you with being scared to be too happy. I dont fear that anymore because I realized WHY I felt that way….thanks to my childhood and parents.., but I used to live that way. I am so glad that you are experiencing healing and are no longer codependent!


Hi Sylvia,
About your comment “how sad that we are rendered unable to be all that we were sent here to be……by those who are supposed to “love” us most” but how exciting and fantastic that there is hope for complete recovery!
Thanks for your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

good point about the “too good to be true” saying being used to burst the bubble of excitement! And interesting that I used that saying today to show why I didn’t trust “good feelings” and suspected a bad motive when I was given a compliment.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Aurele,
As I grew in recovery, and the real me was empowered and getting stronger, I started to see my passion and interests come forward. I had coaching help with bringing it out fully and learning to set goals and see them through, but it all worked out as I began to love myself.
Hugs, Darlene


Mimi G. (Great idea to use an initial with your name!)
Love your comments about the place between “no longer and not yet”. That fits so well with this conversation!

That was my identity too! I found out that a lot of people didn’t like me when I became an individual. They liked me being what they wanted me to be. My mother suggested going to councelling together and I took her up on it. She never brought it up again! Interesting that this is actually common. My in-laws also suggested that we go to family therapy with them, and we also agreed. They never mentioned that again either! I am not trying to suggest that you agree to going, because some parents are really serious about doing that, I am just saying that I hear this all the time and most of the time they think they are actually “making a threat” that will make us comply with them agian. It is perfectly fine if you don’t want to go! (I wanted to go with my mom but it was just another game that backfired on her. I did NOT want to go with my in-laws, but agreed because I was too scared to say no. In the end I think it was a game for them too and it also backfired when we agreed.
Thank you for sharing.
I am very happy to have your voice here in EFB!
Hugs, Darlene


Diane thanks … I’m also glad for you for the progress you’ve made. I swear to god I just got off the phone from a friend I odn’t speak to often & I said to myself “I dont know how to do this conversation thing properly” and then I read your comment. Its all just baby steps really isn’t it, one conversation at a time, in reading what you said about being aware it struck me that maybe I’m TOO AWARE, maybe I just need to let go a little & stop trying so freakin hard … and in writing that I realise theres my dear perfectionist again, popping in to say hello … I have started listening to some hypnosis downloads and I have realised that I don’t know what being relaxed is … my body has been keyed up, anxious & scared my entire life even though I come across differently to others. Oh what a process! We’re doing it though, YAY us!


mimi g….I hope you wont take this the wrong way when I say I started laughing when I read your comment…but it is because you have “twin” thoughts and feelings to mine. I didnt use to understand what relaxing was, and have definitely dealt with what a shrink once said about me in my early 30’s that I had “perfectionist tendencies”. I also come across differently to other people and they would never guess how tightly wound up I was feeling usually because I hid it so well. (there have also been times when I started to ramble incessantly out of anxiety too) I have learned over the last 7 years or so to relax more and more and that includes the “black and white” thinking and processing. I agree with you that it is one conversation at a time in figuring out how to relate, connect and converse in a healthy equal way . I am able to be a “perfect” social butterfly and am totally comfortable in nearly any setting …in a social, surface talk kind of way, but when it comes to every day back and forth I feel insecure….it is a process that I am dealing with now and am determined to figure out. I think if I can stop second guessing myself so much , it might help too. I am curious if the hypnosis tapes help? Thank you for your comments and peace and grace to you !


hi diane … OOOh yeah, I’m great at second guessing too! I’m so glad you’re laughing too! The hypnosis has been helping … its surprised me actually how quickly, I felt a difference the first time I listened to it and its building on itself every time I listen, I found the hypnosis at the same time as finding this website and I’m feeling something is very definitely shifting in me in the last couple of weeks since. I think the hypnosis is dealing with the habit part of all this stuff, all that sub-conscious head crap that i fall into without consciously wanting to. Its calming my hypersensitivity too. Peace and grace, yes please! … right back at you!


Thanks for your comment. I don’t know if you read my last comment under your post, “The problem with saying Love & You will be Loved”, but what you said about the saying, “too good to be true”, really resonated with me on that post, about the recent, random compliments my family is throwing at me. I do suspect a bad motive & why wouldn’t I, since they conditioned me not to trust “good feelings”. I need to trust my own feelings- good or bad…right or wrong….they could of taught me that instead! My mom had tons of saying & when I think of them now, they are pat answers for just about everything. How about the plain & simple Truth??? That is better, even if it’s painful, since that is where you learn to be resilient…


mimi g,
That hypnosis sounds wonderful!…I could use some of that calming, after emotionally charged contact with my family. My subconscious trauma reactions do play with my head. I’m better at stopping the spin & turning it around. I love what you said, about the place “between no longer & not yet”…Yay for Progress in Recovery! Thanks for sharing.


Diane #57,
I love your comments, it is so sad that we are taught to “Hide our light under a bushel” instead of letting it shine. And by being afraid of hurting people with our acheivements and good fortune. I recently read the following, wonderful comment on another site.
“Its not up to me to determine how someone else recieves information.”
And it isnt! But the problem lies within the fact that we have been trained into such extreme hypervigilance regarding the feelings of others. I really am beginning to see that if someone has a problem with my successes and good news then it is their responsibility to deal with it, perhaps by getting therapy! Love Sylvia x


Hi Darlene & everyone

Long time since commenting! Still jump on from time to time though. Got me thinking that about the only way I’ve managed to protect my boundaries is by cutting off from people entirely (or trying to at least). Never had the guts to seek confrontation (or stand up for myself if confronted) — too well trained in believing everything is my fault. But I guess it’s better than nothing.

I think maybe that’s why I only have a handful of friends I still see from earlier in my life – lack of boundaries was established early, and I don’t have the guts to stand up and try to change things. Partly also cause I’ve been very lonely for several years, and felt like anything was better than nothing.

In regards to the “being trained to believe you don’t deserve boundaries” thing, I had a very vague memory come back to me (I think it was since i started reading this site) of having an early childhood friend who I’d completely forgotten about for a while, but then many years later (maybe in my teens? Long enough to have forgotten, anyway) my mother bringing him up out of the blue and saying something about how the friendship ended because of me deciding I didn’t like him anymore or something, and she said (or maybe just implied) how much I’d hurt him by what I did or said. I have no recollection of what happened (had forgotten their existence until she brought it up), so no way of knowing if I was just being mean, or if something had happened to make me not want to be friends, but in hindsight I see that whatever happened then, my mother saying this is the same as saying that I don’t have the right to choose my own friendships, set boundaries etc. (@&$!% bitch!!!)

It’s totally possible btw that there was no reason & I was just being a kid, but still – remembering it, bringing it back up as an example of the shocking excuse for a human being I obviously was even as a child (sarcasm there btw!)…. I’m sure some of you can relate.

I’m also re-discovering as I write this the extremely strong urge to write down the most offensive names I can think of for my mother. (Used to happen every time I wrote here). Actually I think that’s why I stopped posting – try to give myself a break from the (long-overdue) anger/rage/hate/sadness etc that I’d repressed for so long…. still not sure if that’s a good thing or not. But it’s at least easier in the meantime.

Ok, got myself all worked up again. Time to try & relax. Hope everyone’s doing well.


Sylvia, I loved your post! We are indeed hypervigilant to the feelings of others, usually very sick people, if we are speaking of our families. That could be why there are a disproportionate number of us in the nursing field! Also, it is true, we aren’t responsible for how someone else receives information. My mother would receive any good information about me, by forgetting it, destorting it, or not passing it on. When I took a position as a hospital supervisor, she would ask, over and over, what is it that you do there again? Could not remember my title. My GC sister would not allow me to mention my job at family functions, “I’m only interested in talking about things concerning the family” lol! She would then engage in “kid talk” about her children, which would leave me totally out of the conversation, as I am childless. If I mentioned my step children, that would be followed by a period of silence, then people would pick up the conversation as though I had never spoken! Funny thing, everyone does seem to abide by her warped “rules”.
Even the other day, my older sister, who attempted to usurp my visit with my Aunt and Uncle, who invited me, said, while my cousin was loading the refririgerator after shopping, “MOMS always know how to fill up the refrigerator, don’t they, cousin?” Well, ok, but most MOMS would address their childs learning disabilities and developmental delay as well, wouldnt they? And most MOMS would not let their husbands who are drinking supervise their children, and drive with them in the car. And most MOMS would not put their head in the sand regarding their husbands drinking, until he ends up in jail, where he currently resides.
But, hey, guess I am splitting hairs on those points.
It is all soooo warped!
Thanks for letting me vent a bit!



Hi J
Nice to hear from you!
About taking a break, I found them totally necessary; I just made sure that I didn’t take them for too long because the brainwashing would start to take over again. The lies were my default mode for a very long time and it is changing and overcoming the default mode that is the key to healing.
Hugs, Darlene


Everything you said makes sense and is a good point. These were the kinds of things that I had to see were not just splitting hairs, but were in fact the way that I was treated. The discounting way I was put in danger. The disregaurd and disrespect that I learned to accept.
Thank you for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam
This is an important fact too that you have brought up here; that some of us exagarated the truth or lied about how it really was and then THAT is used as proof that we are liars or that we are “crazy”. (like my cupcake story) They point to it as the proof and we so often hang our heads and accpet that “yes, it must be me”. But the truth is that you WERE beaten emotionally and that the emotional abuse was still abuse! Abuse is abuse and that is what we are sorting out!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


That last comment for Pam was meant for another post! I copied it there. Sorry for the confusion! I am really busy with client stuff today and went a little too fast answering the comments!
Thanks, Darlene


Tangie, and everyone, [this post is LONG, but you may find it interesting!]

I noticed that you told a bit of your back story. I have been in the process of typing up what I remember from childhood to adulthood, and it has been a struggle, to say the least. The last time I talked to my Mom face-to-face was so volatile and just destroyed me. She has since started playing the victim and telling family members plenty of lies about me and my husband.

I just wanted to talk a little bit about boundary setting for a moment. When I started to set boundaries with my Mother, I did so by letter, although I’d been trying face-to-face for YEARS. I am currently feeling very good in my decisions, and very confident, even if I do have some wavering from time to time. I’d like to share the letter that I wrote to my Mother and sent in the mail. Please note that this is after years of taking her emotional abuse and manipulation.

Dear Mom,
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, and often times, I write better than I talk. I know our past attempts at talking haven’t always gone so well. And, I know that often times when we are face-to-face, emotions get too high, and sometimes things are said that both of us don’t mean. This letter is between you and me, and I would appreciate if the rest of the family isn’t read the letter. I haven’t read this to anyone, and these are my thoughts only. I feel like this letter will help me heal, and hopefully cause some healing in our relationship.
When Dad first passed, I felt like I saw a different side of you I have never seen, and I was very grateful. You apologized for things you had said about Dad, and for taking me to Idaho. And, I forgave you whole-heartedly. The forgiveness I provided you was pure, true forgiveness. I still forgive you as I meant every word I said. But, I am hurt by a few things that have happened since then. Since Dad has passed away, I notice our relationship is more and more like yours and Grandma’s, and I am often walking away feeling like I can’t quite get close to you. I have started to feel probably very similar to how you felt after Papa passed away. I have anger because I feel like I was robbed of a good relationship with my father. I know he was not a saint, but I honestly feel like I didn’t know HIM. I have gone through all the problems of blaming myself, blaming others, and blaming him. Sometimes I feel like too much was said about him, and that my perception was skewed. I know this was not your intention, but I just want you to understand that I wish less would have been said about Dad. He didn’t talk poorly about you directly to me, and I respect him a lot for it. I am only telling you this because I wish so much in my heart that the divorce would have gone differently, and telling you this will help me move past these feelings.
The rift between you and [my now husband] has to end. I need to be explicitly clear here as our face-to-face conversations about him have not gone well. I have stopped talking about him to you, and I’m sure you have noticed. I am not interested in fighting over what you think is happening in our relationship, because, honestly, you don’t have any idea. It was my own personal choice to become involved with [him], and you do not have to like it. But, I am marrying him. We are engaged. Our lives are coming together as one. I respect him, and he respects me. He treats me very well and I thoroughly enjoy spending time with him. He makes me happier than I have ever been. He is hurt by what you have said about him in the past. I am allowed to tell him anything I want, just as you are allowed to tell [your husband]. Personally, I feel communication is the most powerful tool in a marriage. When something happens to upset me, I tell him, and he listens. He has every right to be upset that you were talking about him behind his back. And, frankly, I haven’t been as adult as I should have been when the situation first began. I should have told you long ago that I will not stand for anyone talking about [him] that way, as he would never stand for anyone talking about me that way (I am talking about conversations you and I have had, and conversations other family members have told me). We have had a situation in his family where his uncle and I got into an argument over a miscommunication. [My future husband] stood up for me, his uncle apologized, and everything is just fine. That is all I want with you and him. I asked you to apologize to him for what you said, but you weren’t ready. It is fine that you weren’t ready. But, until some things are settled, he does not feel comfortable around you. You cannot apologize to him through me. I will be with him as a married woman, and this is something that will cause a huge rift in our relationship. I am unwilling to ignore it, and I saw the same pattern repeat itself recently. When I mentioned that I was going to [my future husband’s] family for prime rib on Christmas Day, you asked me if I had to pay for it because it was expensive. This comment is the exact type of underhanded comment you hate from Grandma. When I got off the phone, I called a friend and said “What do you think this means?” She told me that it was definitely rude, and was a statement regarding how you feel [my future husband’s] family is cheap. I need you to understand that his family has accepted me with open arms, regardless of any type of situation I have been in. I have a wonderful relationship with all of [his] family, and they treat me with so much respect. I have never had any of them talk badly about me, nor have any of them made me feel badly about myself. I can turn to any of them in a struggle and not feel judged. [My husband] has had some struggles in the past that are working themselves out now. Things are fine, Mom. I know you say you worry about me, but I need you to ask yourself if you have ever liked anyone I was romantically involved with. The answer is no, and I don’t know why that is. I feel as if you are saying that I am bad judge of character, and I can assure you that I am not, as I saw you abused by Chad [ex-stepfather] for many years. I know what I want in a man, and I also know that no one is perfect. Everyone has his or her weaknesses and problems to overcome. This is one thing that needs to be fixed. The ball is in your court. Your relationship with [my future husband] was fine before this. We have grown a lot in the 4 years we have been living together. This isn’t just some high school relationship anymore. So, I just need you to truly understand. I will not have anyone talking badly about [him] or his family, just as I will not stand for any of them talking badly about you or my family. None of them have said anything badly about myself, you, or anyone else I love. I expect the same thing. If the same thing cannot be returned, I will not put up with it. He doesn’t have to prove himself to you, because he’s proven himself to me, and it should be enough that you love and trust me. He is the future father of my children, and I will not have this problem still occurring once we have kids.
I am not telling you all of this to make you feel bad. I have been doing a lot of thinking about this situation ever since Dad died. I don’t have to sit there and take everything that is said. I have the right to stand up for myself as an adult and ask for an adult relationship with the people I love. I know you want a good relationship with me, as I want a good relationship with you. But, I’m not willing to cause myself anymore stress to get it. I am enrolled in grief counseling and it begins in February. Dad’s passing showed me that I don’t want to have any regrets. I don’t want to regret not healing rifts with you, and not telling you how I feel for fear that I will lose a relationship with you. I also don’t want to be a push over. I am only asking that you accept my relationship with [my future husband]. I am not asking for this to be a write back and forth thing like you and Grandma did after Papa died. I don’t want that. All I want is for you to listen to what I am saying, know that I am an intelligent adult, and just think hard about where I am coming from. We do a lot of talking about other people, and sometimes we don’t take a hard look at ourselves. I have taken that hard look at myself, and I realize where my faults are. I am working to mend myself. And, this is a step that I feel is important in that mending.
I love you. You are my Mom. I know you love me, too. But, I needed to get this off my chest because I don’t see any changes coming from your end. I know I’m asking a lot, but I’m not perfect either. I know I haven’t always done things the way you want me to. But, this where an adult daughter and mother relationship changes. Think about the relationship you wanted with Grandma. I want that too, Mom.
If you want to talk, give me a call. If you need some time, I understand. But, I am not willing to fight about this. I have said what I needed to say, and I meant everything I said. This feels very good to get all of it off my chest. Thank you for listening.


She never called. After about 2 and a 1/2 months, I called her and asked her if she got my letter. She came unglued. We then did this fighting email back and forth thing which I don’t have anymore. I eventually invited her over to my house to bury the hatchet, and she started saying that she was the mother, and that I’m the daughter and that she’s taking the power back and I have no right to talk to her like this. My stepdad kept saying “But, you’re her baby!” and I kept getting more and more upset. I’m an ADULT. Yes, I was a baby at one point, but she missed that part in my life by partying and putting her daughters last. The roles have always been reversed between us, and my Mom has had very similar struggles with my Grandmother that went absolutely NO WHERE. Needless to say, the meeting at my home ended when my Mom said that my Dad was rolling over in his grave by the way I was spending his money (My parents divorced when I was 4. My Dad died in a car wreck. I had told him I felt I was brainwashed the Christmas before he died, and we were working things out. He left my sister and I money because he wasn’t married and we had no idea we were getting this money. I have purchased a car and finished my degree, plus moved from a 1 bedroom apt. to a 2 bedroom. My other car was broken down and I needed a vehicle. The rest of the money is in an account that cannot be used until retirement). My Mom also said that family wasn’t important to me, and that I was selfish and must not love her because I wouldn’t tell our friends that were coming from Canada for Christmas that they couldn’t come. She left saying “I guess you don’t need family, you just need money!” and my husband said in unison “We don’t need family when they act like you.” I emailed a week after and asked for counseling because our relationship was broken. She said it wasn’t broken and she wasn’t going to call/write/email anymore. I haven’t been to a family function since if she’s there. I also didn’t invite her to my college graduation, but my Grandma was ultra-manipulative and told her she was invited and they came together. I was furious. I kept getting told “It’s an important day for her too!” She didn’t help me graduate from college, as a matter of fact, she never helped at all. I paid for all of it until my Dad passed. It is MY important day.

So, in a short concise nutshell, that has been my experience in boundary making. My cousin is getting married tomorrow about 300 miles from where I live, and I was expected to go. I said I wasn’t sure because my Mother would be there. I was told that people were disappointed in me and that I needed to reconsider. I did, and decided I was going to attend until I got a text from my sister and aunt saying “How are you going to go to the wedding if your Mom is going to be there?” Basically, challenging my boundaries. My sister texted me today and asked when I was going to be in town for the wedding. I told her I wasn’t coming and that I didn’t want to argue about it. She hasn’t texted back luckily.

Boundaries are HARD, especially when they aren’t clearly defined inside yourself. I have never, ever, ever questioned the decisions my family members have made, but mine are questioned regularly. Needless to say, I’m liking the lack of contact. 🙂

Keep your head up, everyone. We can do this!

<3 truthbtold


Thanks for your comments, Darlene,

In the midst of all this drama and stress I’ve been feeling over what happened with my grandmother and trying to make some kind of decision in regards to my parents, there was something else that happened that was quiet and small in comparison but now seems somehow the worst and the most crucial. I received great news from a friend I went to school with, who just had a novel accepted for publication—one that he’d been working on in our workshops and was thanking us for all our help (I did a master’s in creative writing). Usually I get really excited and inspired anytime I hear from a friend who has had their work accepted. It will connect me back to myself, what’s important to me, and what I’m doing with my own life. But this time I felt nothing. Sometimes I expect that I might feel jealousy when I see my peers going onto success but that’s never happened before—it’s always been excitement and connection, knowing that I’m on my own path and that it will happen for me, too, in its own time. But this time I really felt nothing at all—a total disconnect. I’ve realized that the way I’ve been feeling this week has been like a character in somebody else’s book, that I’ve been derailed from my centre. When I cut off contact from my parents, part of the decision was because my relationship with them was a trigger to wanting to hurt myself and I decided that that was not okay, it didn’t matter that they were my parents, but the other reason, the bigger reason, which I’ve often been careful to tell people because not everyone is going to understand, like it isn’t a good enough reason, was that I felt that my parents were hovering over my shoulder, trying to take my pages away from me before I was even finished writing (or beginning) them. After I graduated, I went through a three year block, finally breaking through it last year and beginning work on a new novel (which was a rekindling of an old idea that had been at the back of my mind for years and that I’d been pushing away for being “too dark” and “life’s not that bad”). I no longer feel like my family can take the pages, my story, away from me, but I do feel they can stall me, as I have been. I’d always felt that my writing was on one side and my family on the other. Last year my therapist asked me which one would I choose. I said, My writing, and she said, Good for you. I have to think about this. I work a full-time job, which is necessary to pay the bills and which I also do love (I’m a baker) and that is totally conducive to a writer’s life, and I also have to have a life of some kind, other positive aspects to my life which can foster and support my writing which is hard work and can be really intense and painful and require a lot of freedom and looseness to be able to accomplish. There’s only so much time and so much of me to go around… My aunt and uncle invited me to their cottage at the beach this weekend, so I’m hoping to de-stress and get back to my centre and slowly make some decisions about what I’m doing and what’s important to me and how I can go about what I want in my life.

Anyway, thanks again! I really appreciate your insight and I am also very happy to have a voice here. It’s been a long time coming (I mean in my life in general—to finally find my voice) and I hope that it keeps getting stronger and stronger.


Hi truthbtold,
Wow!…You are taking a Strong Stance with your family & I admire that!…I understand it’s not easy…My process as been one of LC & trying to have a real relationship too. It’s been a lot to handle lately, due to emotionally charged situations involving myself, sister cousins & mother. A lot of finger pointing & no real effort at mending the issues. I’m impressed with the heartfelt letter you wrote your mom. You did not attack her or bad mouth family at all. You showed a real effort to mend the fences & have a relationship based on mutual respect & equal value, like what Darlene talks about here. She sounds like a copy of my mom, in that she wants to maintain control, no matter what. It’s a Sick System. So glad you are standing strong! You got me thinking about writing a long letter to my mom LOL.


Sonia, I love the phrase trauma bond. What a great way to think about it. I think there is a psychology phrase for it, ‘stockholm syndrome.’ It’s humbling to finally see how messed everything is and was.

I mentioned in another post that I felt guilty and that I would have rather killed my self than betray my sexually and emotionally abusive father. That is soo unhealthy and I never realized it! I thought it was normal. No wonder I stayed in an abusive marriage for 6 years and didn’t think I had the right to leave.

I have found the boundaries are easier with time as well. The more I stick up for me, the more I want to stick up for me. Healing still hurts deeply but I am doing it.

Silvia and Mimi- It’s nice to discuss how we experience similar symptoms (if I may call them that). I think seeing that what we experience (in this case the fear of being happy, not boasting too much, etc…) the same things helps to objectify it – meaning it helps to realize it’s not an inherent flaw within us, but a by product of abuse. Not our fault. This revelation has come to me about several things and each time I find deeper compassion for myself as it’s just sad. We never deserved the treatment we received and we were conditioned to act in ways that continued and confirmed the abuse. I’m really happy to be walking away from that, even if it’s painful.


Hi everyone,
What an amazing thread. I can SO relate to everything thats been said, its so wonderful to share with people who have been through this, thank you. Is it any wonder that we have had difficulty in setting healthy boundaries when this is the polar opposite of what we were taught? I was not allowed to shut the doors to the bathroom or my bedroom as a child. If I did this, my mother would burst in and demand to know what I was hiding. She was TERRIFIED of anyone keeping anything from her. When I was small, she told me that I had a window in my head through which she could see my thoughts, so I had better not be thinking anything bad. I can remember desperately trying to work out what I was allowed, and not allowed to think! How wicked is it to force a innocent child to marshall their thoughts in that way? No wonder I grew up being totally out of touch with my emotions. I actually used to allow people to TELL me what I was thinking. As a teenager, the infringement of my right to privacy got worse. My room, pockets and bags were searched, my diary was read and she opened my letters. I dreaded coming home from school, as she would often be waiting to pounce on me, waving some piece of “eveidence” that she had found. The amazing thing was that she was so open about her snooping, as if it was her right to be doing it. I was warned over and over that I must never keep anything from her. The ironic thing was, the one thing I should have told her, I didnt dare – because I knew she would have blamed me. I was raped by two older boys when I was 13. Even if she had believed me, there would be no way the police would have been informed, because she dreaded any kind of scandal. The whole thing would have been hushed up, and then thrown in my face whenever she needed a stick to beat me with. I suspect that it was my lack of bounaries that led to the rape. Abusers can sense this kind of vulnerability. Her violations of my personal space impacted my adult life massively. I felt that I had to be an open book and tell everyone the most minute and private details of my life. Unsurprisingly, on several occasions, this kind of information was used as ammunition, and I was badly betrayed. Now , I delight in having “secrets”, in keeping things to myself until I feel it is safe to share. Has anyone else had similar experiences? Love Sylvia x


Hi Sylvia and everyone,

I wasn’t allowed to shut the doors of the bathroom and of my bedroom too.

The bathroom has even no key, and my non parents used to walk naked freely in the flat.
I remember seeing my father pee in the wash-basin ! (sorry it’s disgusting) and seeing my mother naked washing herself in the batheroom.

My father was a pervet intrusive too.

When I was 15, he forbade me to shut the door of my bedroom because he wanted to spy me, to check if I was working on my homework. If I wasn’t he became mad at me.
He forced me to stay everyday in my house and work on my homework. I couldn’t have pleasant activities with friends.

I had the impression that he could read in my thougts too, as if he was omniscient and it is like I couldn’t hide something to him, because he would have finally discovered it.

He also couldn’t bear I “hide” something to him. He demand totally transparence too.

He opened letters too, my diary too and he also make it clear to me that he had this right. I wasn’t allowed to have the less fragment of intimacy. Intimacy isn’t for me.

He found “evidence” that I couldn’t be worthy of his trust : one day he found a letter I wrote to a friend in which I said I used to drink, to take drungs to give a picture of me more cool. Of course nothing was true in this letter but my nonfather used it as a proof that I was a very bad seed who needs to be punished.

I felt such bad due to his concentration camp treatment, that I missed school and I hide him.
And of course he discovered it and started to really hate me because I lied to him and again he say that he could never trust me again.
But if I told him the truth, he will surely have punished me too.

So much guilty inside of me thanks to this sadist.

I never learned to protect my body and i was raped many many times and of course I couldn’t tell him because he would have become mad at me.

It was such a pervert game, it was as if He put me to do a mistake to more be furious at me and reprimand me.

That’s so disgusting.

I haven’t the liberty to think freely. I couln’t enven think some bad things about him.
“I felt that I had to be an open book and tell everyone the most minute and private details of my life.” I learned the same too.
When you say “I suspect that it was my lack of bounaries that led to the rape. Abusers can sense this kind of vulnerability.” I think you are right.

Thank you sylvia for reminding me a chapter of my story.
Your’re mother was a serious sadist too.

Thanks for reading.


I can even add that everyone in my family let the door of the wc open !
And I can even remember my genitor pee with me in the bowl !


Hi again sylvia,

I read again your post and some sentences are vey relevant for me.

“When I was small, she told me that I had a window in my head through which she could see my thoughts, so I had better not be thinking anything bad.” That sentince speaks so much to me.
And to thell that to an innocent child is so terrible and frightening.

“I can remember desperately trying to work out what I was allowed, and not allowed to think!” The same for me. I lived in a constant fear too.
I constantly forced me to have the good attitude, the safe one for me who was allowed.


Hi Aurele, (what a pretty name, by the way),

I am so sorry that you, too, experienced boundary violation in your childhood home and later life. You know, I think, as innocent kids, when we are spied on and accused of bad things by our parents, they are projecting their own shame and guilt onto us. They want to make us feel all of their self-disgust in a vain attempt to make themselves feel better. For someone who set herself up as such a paragon of virtue, my mother could be very crude and disgusting. She said horrible things which made me feel very self-concious and ashamed of my body. At a family picnic ,she said to me in a very loud voice – “Sylvia, dont sit with your legs open, you will attract flies”.??? I believe that this innapropriate treatment definitely sets us up for further violation, such as rape and abuse from others outside the family home. And as for trying to control our thoughts – I believe that they are terrified of us having our own identity and autonomy. They dont want to see us as seperate entities. What other explanation could there be for these ruthless attempts at mind-control? Well, they havent succeeded, or we wouldnt be here, sharing our truth – we would still be wandering in the fog, thinking it was all our fault! Aurele, I wish you love and healing, Sylvia x


Hi Sylvia,

Thanks :), in fact my real name is Aurélie, a french name.

“And as for trying to control our thoughts – I believe that they are terrified of us having our own identity and autonomy. They dont want to see us as seperate entities. What other explanation could there be for these ruthless attempts at mind-control? ” Yes I agree.

For me, the worst period was the teenagehood. My boundaries were also less respected (if it’s possible) than when I was a child.
And my nonfather also defined him as a paragon of virtue (very lol).

Can I ask you if you have found a good therapist ?


Hi Truthbtold;
When you mother stated “I am the mother” ~ that is the truth leak right there. That says it all. And I today I would respond with “what the hell is that supposed to mean?. If there was an answer to my question it would have a bunch of crap about “respect and compliance etc.” all to do with obligation as though that is love but it isn’t. There is no equal value in statements like “I am the mother”. There are only demands and obligation.
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sylvia
In comment #79 you share that your mother told you there was a window in your head and she could see your thoughts! WOW that is an extreem example of how these people control kids! And I totally understand about the rape thing that you knew you couldn’t tell anyway! In my earlier work here I write a lot about how we come to give up and know we can’t tell as we won’t be heard and usually we know it will only make our own lives worse. I accepted the blame for everything that ever happened to me because of the grooming process I grew up with in this family dysfunction.
Thank you for sharing this very deep stuff.
Hugs, Darlene


Abusers and controllers are terrified that we might become “more” than them. That we might be happier than them. That we might actually find a way to live a full life and leave them behind. They are afraid that if we discover our value then we will never let them abuse us again and they are defined by our compliance to them. It makes them feel valid. They must keep us in “the spin” because if we have to many moments of clarity, they are afraid that we will see them for what they know they really are; pathetic.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
The reason I have been able to share this deep stuff is because you have provided a safe space for me to do so. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And yes, with the type of parents we had, taking the blame for everything was the far safer option when we are young. For most of us, it was dangerous not to! However, its when we get older,that our survival techniqes begin to work against us. Love Sylvia x


Hi Aurele,
Yes, I did get a very good therapist and am now training as a therapist myself. I will also soon be starting to train as a hypnotherapist, so some good has come out of it after all! Mom has been dead for many years now and while I havent forgiven her (this isnt a priority for me), I have let go of a lot of my anger, for my own sake. I dont know why she was the way she was and it isnt my business. Understanding it wont undo the harm done to me so I dont try. I also dont try to figure out why my father enabled her,I just want to help others who have gone through pain like ours. Wish me luck! Love Sylvia x


Well, I believe I have now figured myself out and what I’m wanting in my life and have set in my mind the boundaries I want to live by with the people in my life I’ve been feeling stressed out over—this even before going out to the cottage… I feel like I should apologize as I’m having a bit of a conversation with myself on this thread. I’ve read everyone’s comments and much has resonated with me, but I guess right now I’m pretty focussed on myself here and what’s been going on in my life, and sometimes you still need to speak it out loud (or write it in a public forum), to make it real beyond the quiet of your own mind.

My first decision is concerning my grandmother. I never would have engaged her at all after she caused a drama, badmouthing my cousin’s wedding on facebook (and this was not the first time she has badmouthed her) but my grandma sent me two letters only a week and a half later. I actually received her 2nd letter first, which made things a little more convoluted in what happened between us. Last fall, I’d asked my grandma if she’d be willing to write some stuff about our family history—it was something I really wanted, though I felt ambivalent about asking for it, as you have to be careful getting involved with her and that was a fairly personal request. Anyway, she seemed to really want to but was stalled and couldn’t “organize her mind” and was stressing out about it. I told her to forget about it. So this letter she sent me was actually a bit of writing to do with family history, of meeting my grandpa (who died before I was born) and getting married, etc. (She says she wrote it because she was so moved by my cousin’s wedding.) I was grateful for this and enjoined reading what she wrote. I decided that instead of just having nothing to do with her (as I originally felt after I heard what had happened with my cousin), I would attempt a relationship by first thanking her (genuinely) for what she had written me but then address what happened, telling her how I felt about it. Anyway, she did not respond well to that; she always takes everything as an attack, no matter how compassionate you are, and believe me, I spent two days working on it so that in addition to stating my feelings and being firm on them, I was also extremely caring and empathetic to her own situation. She didn’t hear what I was saying at all. The next week, I received what was actually her first letter, where she was clearly writing me to look for sympathy for the damage that she actually caused and unloading all her disappointments about the family on me. That was not cool with me at all. A few of her comments really stung me personally, though I’m sure she was so consumed in her own world, she hadn’t even stopped to consider how what she was writing would affect me. Anyway, I had enough and cut her off…. But I have decided to give her one last chance. She has cancer and I doubt if I will see her again after my visit back to my home town in Sept. I also am hoping that she may continue to write me more of the family history, as it is something I really want… but not at the expense of letting my boundaries down. I would like to try to patch things up but only if she will meet my criteria here. One of her laments in her letter was how she feels outside of the family and everyone excludes her. My own experience with her when I still lived in town was that she always turned down invites. I always told her to come by for tea anytime she wanted (she never wanted me to come over to her place because she felt it was too messy), but the only time I saw her was when she had enough money to take me out for lunch or coffee, which wasn’t often. (She gambled away all her life savings, and though the family buys her groceries fairly regularly and pays for bills and sometimes buys her clothes, etc., she really doesn’t have the cash to be taking anybody out, and I often felt guilty about the situation). She always had a standing offer to come out anytime to where I’m living now (my aunt and uncle would pay her flights) but they stopped asking her directly because she always said no. I accepted she had issues and it’s fine if she says no, but you can’t turn around and say that we’re the ones doing the excluding… Anyway, my decision is this: when I go back, I want to take her out to dinner (if her health is good enough; I’m not sure how bad things are right now) and I’m paying (she’d never let me pay, not even for myself, so now if she wants to see me, she’s going to have to accept me paying for her), and the other condition is that she cannot say a single negative thing about the family to me, she cannot make any innuendos or allusions to any issues she has with people, that I will not be her confidante—that I will only meet her if we can have a nice, positive experience together that is only about us and our own relationship. If she can’t do that, I will have to walk out (leaving her with a bill she won’t be able to pay). That sounds kind of harsh to me, reading it, but I’m sure I can write it out to her in a way that still makes all that clear but has a little more kindness to it…. Though in general I think with starting to put up boundaries for yourself, it does feel like you’re being mean, when really you’re not—you’re being reasonable (I think someone spoke of this in an earlier comment), because of how you were taught to be used…

And my second decision is with my parents. I realized that if I don’t have a clear idea of what I want, I’m in trouble because my mom NEVER stops wanting, nothing is enough, and all her sadness, disappointment, loneliness, frustration, bitterness, angst and desperation just pushes at me and tries to invade me. When I’m in a room with her, she takes up almost all the space; it’s so palpable. I was clear when I reconnected that I wanted to start things off at the level of acquaintanceship (also asking that they don’t touch/hug me), but I know that for my mom, she’s looking at acquaintanceship as just the beginning. She still keeps holding onto her dream. She can’t just be happy that I’ve reconnected. She always wants more, and this is something I can feel and also hear in her comments (as with the list of feelings I expressed above). It isn’t enjoyable to be around someone like this, that’s for sure. I’m grateful that she is now willing to go to counselling (I’d asked them to go to counselling, not actually with me but on their own, so that they would work out their own problems, till such a time as I’m ready and wanting to go with them, so it really is something that they have agreed to go, and no, I don’t think it’s a threat—that just doesn’t fit). But I’ve realized that where I’m at in my life, I’m not ready to really go after some close relationship with them, to try to work things out like that. That’s what they want but not I want. I need to go out and live my own life, do what’s important to me. So my decision is to tell them what kind of relationship I want—I want to go out for lunch with them when I go back, and as with my grandma, no negativity, everything based on the here and now, catch up on life, and then when I return home, my communication with them will be limited to an email catch-up every four or five months, phone calls on birthdays/holidays, that sort of thing. I will see them at any family events or gatherings and anytime I go back home for a visit (primarily for the sake of visiting friends and other family members). I will also make it clear that I cannot make any guarantees about the future and that this may be all our relationship will ever be, that it’s not even about “getting healthy,” that them going into counselling—and even if I go with them at some point—does not mean that the relationship will ever progress beyond acquaintanceship because the desire has to be there from both sides and I can only speak for right now and right now all I want is an acquaintanceship. I have so many other things I want to do with my life—-building a close relationship with my mom is not high on my priority list, not even on my priority list at all…. I do hope for a close relationship with my dad one day but I know that he has to work a lot on his own issues before that is possible, and I won’t actively go after it. He has to stop being so passive and take some action sometime. They may not go into counselling now if I say all this–because for them, it is about how to get a close relationship with me, how they can get me to give them what they want (some fantasy family that given our history seems completely unrealistic to me), and now they may just think, well, what’s the point, why go to counselling then? For me, I want to live my own life, write this book and hopefully get it published; when I am at that point, and ready to publish, given what I know the book is about, well, they might just not want that close relationship with me anymore anyway (I have no idea)…

So there we go… my decisions. That, and I decided that I’m going to move to Montreal. I’ve been humming and hawing about it for a year now, lately thinking that maybe I was just trying to escape and thinking how good I have it here and why would I leave? But I adored it there when I went on a cycling trip out that way last summer, there are lots of bakeries there so I should be able to get a job… yes, I’ll be alone but that’s okay, I’ll make friends, I’ll make my own way. I do know one person living there. I’d written back my friend who is getting his book published, who had cheered on my decision to move there the last time I talked to him, and after I sent my email, mentioning rethinking my plans, my heart sunk a little and I wondered, what am I doing? It’s just that it’s comfortable here, that’s why. It really isn’t about escaping; it’s about searching, I realized. I’m still searching, and though I know it’s comfortable here, and I have support in extended family here, I think I will come to stagnate if I don’t do this. I can always come back for holidays and get over my phone phobia and actually call people here, and if things don’t work out in Montreal, I can always move back. It won’t be till next spring, though, as I still have other plans and must save some money.

Anyway, thanks to whoever might be reading, as I’ve certainly blabbed a lot here, and many thanks again to you, Darlene, as I’m very grateful to be here, to have a place to write all this, and to be able to read such thought-provoking, important posts and comments—from all.


p.s. I wouldn’t actually leave my grandma with a bill she couldn’t pay, but I would walk out.


Wow, it’s great! I have the same desire, to help people if one I suceed to heal.

Also happy to know you found a great therapist.

What is your nationality ?


Sorry, I would say “if one DAY I succeed to heal”.


Thank you Sylvia and Alaina and all who express gratitude for this site. I get so many notes and emails and they really do make a difference! I am really glad that this website is helpful and supportive and that people feel SAFE sharing here!!

Everyone ~ I am accepting 2 new clients; If anyone is interested in working one on one with me over the phone, please contact me through the contact form. I am working on getting a new page up about it.


Hi Aurele,
I am British – I come from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. I am sure that you WILL help and heal people. You have made a good start by coming here and sharing your experiences. xx

Hi Alaina, my heart goes out to you, you sound as if , like me, you have been expected to meet the needs of your family before your own, and also made to feel responsible for the feelings of others. And I know what you mean about staying somewhere cos it feels safe, making changes is scary. All the best with your move to Montreal and your book, Love Sylvia x


Thank you so much, Sylvia! I could relate to a lot of what you spoke about in all your comments—not so much in a factual, specific sense but in the emotions you were left with. Of being invaded, of not being free to think, of being told how you felt, of not being allowed to be happy. Allowing myself to feel loved (and to love) and be happy and included, especially among extended family members has been challenging, as if I was betraying my mom—she has gotten very angry and jealous in the past over these relationships. In her mind, she was supposed to be the centre.

When I was younger and was with my mom anywhere, she would also always speak for me. She would tell people what I thought and felt, etc. One time, this woman was specifically addressing me about something and I clammed up and couldn’t say a word and kept looking over at my mom (I was 21 or 22 at the time, though I could’ve been 6). The woman asked my mom what was wrong with me and my mom said, “Oh, nothing, she’s always been this way.” Then the woman started talking about what trauma I may have gone through in a past life…. The only specific trauma I have gone through (in this life! 😉 ) was the suicide of my uncle when I was just about 8 (as he was possibly my favourite person in the world). And that really was a big deal, but it wasn’t the whole picture. Otherwise, what I went through was a kind of emotional deprivation and starvation. I did not get what I needed and was denied access to the outside world (she would disagree with this because it was never directly stated or enforced but it didn’t have to be because she already had so much control over me since I was little). And then, yes, expected to take care of other people’s needs and feelings.

After I wrote about my decisions, I experienced this intense fear and confusion, and I’ve realized it’s because anytime I made a decision for myself about my own life, it was almost always questioned and undermined, unless it still fit in with what my mom wanted. If it took me away from her, it didn’t matter if it was what was best for me; it was not what she wanted and so it wasn’t good. When I was younger, and I actually had the courage to speak up for what I wanted, I’d just collapse under the look on her face—that’s all it took. When I had more courage, in my mid-twenties, there were guilt trips and other manipulations and anger thrown at anybody she knew who was supporting me (two of my aunts in particular, which I used to feel guilty about, as though I were really the one responsible for the anger that my mom was heaping on them). When I was 21 or 22 and had the gall to actually suggest I might move out one day (in a very abstract sense), she came back to me later and told me that she “knew” that I would not be moving out, that, yes, one day I would, but “not for a long, long time.” (I did manage to move out when I was 23, though I’m not sure I would have done that if I hadn’t had the push from one of my aunts, who has been a real life-saver to me.) I really feel like I’ve been trying to crawl my way out of a cult! Incidentally, my dad was actually taken into a cult at one point in his life. I think he found another one in my mother.

Anyway, thanks again for your support! I’ve got to get going! I’ve been writing too much (sorry about that—I kind of fear doing to others what my mom would do to me, just offloading all her emotions, but I guess there are differences, particularly that I was just a kid, denied a childhood for her sake)…. But my heart also goes out to you and I absolutely could not believe the disgusting things your mom said to you. That was so, so, so wrong! It’s nice to see all these people here who are coming “out of the fog,” though. Good to know we’re not alone. xo, A


Hi Sylvia,

Thank you for your encouragements.


Hi Aleina and everyone,

I can relate to what you said. Especially “When I had more courage, in my mid-twenties, there were guilt trips and other manipulations and anger thrown at anybody she knew who was supporting me (two of my aunts in particular, which I used to feel guilty about, as though I were really the one responsible for the anger that my mom was heaping on them)”. For me it’s the same, my grandparents helped me and opened their door to me when my non father threw me out of the house at 19.
He became very angry towards my granparents because they helped me and the poor man felt betrayed.
He also tried to intimidate them and make them feel guilty and change their minds about me.
He needed to always critizice me and complain about me to the others family members.

Oh my god I realised I escaped to hell.

“I really feel like I’ve been trying to crawl my way out of a cult!”
I feel that way too.” I have that feeling too. The technics (like brainwashing) used are the same.

Escape from there saved my life even if I am not get out of trouble for good.

Can I ask you how old are you ? and what is your job if it’s not too indiscreet ?
I need to share about what others are doing in life, at the moment to help me to change my life.


Escaped from hell, sorry.


A couple of years ago I felt very unhappy and ‘stuck’ in my life and felt trapped in a relationship. I started counselling as I felt a lot of my problems were due to childhood sexual abuse by my father.Also in my 20s Id had a breakdown and been put on major tranquilisers and I decided to also come of them in the hope of ‘healing’ naturally.I felt my real problems had been hidden by the use of meds and psychiatric labels and my mother used this as a means of explaining my issues
I felt it necessary to take a break from my mother as she had feared my Dad and more or less turned a blind eye.He died in 2004. She only referred to the past with very rose tinted glasses and this became impossible for me to tolerate the older I got.At this point she was 78 and I was 55.She refused to validate my feelings about the past and I realised I was angry at her too
I did seem to be making progress. I hadnt seen my mother for almost a year and she phoned me one night to say she had memories of my Dads bad behaviour and that she believed in what I was doing, that she respected me and that she wanted me to get the right help. I saw her the next day but she didnt remember the conversation and a week later she took a stroke and died.
I organised a lovely funeral and kept up appearances with friends and family.However I still struggle with grief and I think Ive been in a state of shock for the last year and a half. I have guilt that I stirred up the past at a point when my mother was elderly and on the verge of dementia. i regret that I did not see her much in her last year of life and realize I had hoped to resolve my relationship issues with her. I regret forcing her to face the past and fear it may have even contributed to her death.I would have liked a chance to rebuild my relationship with her as in many ways we had good times and she and my dad had been good grandparents to my daughter. In many ways I wish I had just settled for what amends theyd made and good Id had in life rather that stirring up the past
It seems just now that my hopes of healing and recovery were fantasy and I am even more scared of dealing with ‘boundaries ‘ in case of hurting people. Im a bit at sea as this has led me to isolating myself even more and counselling just doesnt help. I cant seem to lift the depression but maybe this is a natural stage in grieving


Hello, Everyone!
Feel like I am doing alot of processing, and soaking up all of these great posts. We all have so many commonalities. I would like to thank whoever mentioned the book “The Betrayal Bond”, I think it was Mimi, as I am reading it now on my Kindle. This stuff all goes much more deeper than I knew! Depressing and encouraging at the same time. I was doagnosed with PTSD, and did not realize how pervasive it could be!
My S.O.’s children have come back from a week of visiting their narcissistic grandmother. She is battling cancer,but still as mean as ever. I guess she singled out SO’s 13 year old son for bullying. He would definitely be a scape goat if SO didnt work with him daily on building his self esteem. When SO asked his son how he handled it, he said, “Easy. I just ignored her. I concentrated on having fun with my cousins”. Good for him! And it made her more angry,I guess. She is so toxic. One week a year is too much.
His little girl, whom she picked on last year for being “fat”, and tried to encourage her to watch her calories (she’s 11 now),I noticed when she came home,she is eating about half of what she usually eats. Her favorite ice cream treat, that her Dad had for her, she only ate less than half last night and put it back in the freezer. I pointed this out to my guy, and reminded him of her toxic and harmful statements to this little girl last summer. 1. If she is chubby, which she is not, so what? She’s a growing girl and very healthy and athletic. 2. This is the time when young girls get stuck with yo-yo dieting syndromes, and struggle all of their lives with weight, b/c of the unhealthy habits instilled now.
The kids mom is the scapegoat in that family,so NGM naturally tries to assign the role to one of her children. I’m not going to let it happen, for as much as I can be involved without overstepping. Just lots of positive talk, good job!, great news!, you can do it!, you should be proud of that!, etc.
I feel for the kids’ mother,as her mother is probably dying, and she must have unfinished business with her. But I am so glad this evil woman lives 10 hours away,and her time on this planet, and interaction with these children may be limited. (I just scratched the surface on her nastiness and favoritism, but I’m sure we can all get the picture).



Hi Marie
Welcome to Emerging from Broken. I understand how hard this is and the confusion that comes when abusers die. Something that helped me heal the most was looking at the damage without trying to understand the people and trying not to let the good things cancel out the bad things. My parents did some good things too, but the bad stuff caused so much damage that I could not move forward with my emotional and mental health until I validated the damage by facing the truth. It was like the little girl inside of me was screaming “how can you pretend that none of this stuff ever happened! I was invalidating HER/ME the same way that they did. This site has hundreds of atricles about HOW I overcame all the depression etc. I hope you find some hope here.
Hugs, Darlene


Marie, I was very moved by your story/history. I can imagine the grief and how you are beating up on yourself about your mother, and how you have been suffering. I am so sorry that you were abused as a little girl by your father, and I am so sorry that your mother abandoned you and turned a blind eye and let you down all of your life and didnt believe you. I am also sorry for your losses! When I think about your situation, it is so typical of what I read every day here at EFB….the abused ends up feeling the guilt and shame and takes on even blaming themselves. I hope I dont sound unsympathetic, because I do absolutely feel for what you have gone through, but I also feel that to blame yourself about contributing to your mothers passing…and feeling guilt because your parents were good grandparents and your mother was making ammends ….once again in HER own way….well, it just doesnt sound to me personally that you need to be feeling guilt and shame and blame over it all! Your father was a monster and sexually used and abused you…your mother chose to remain in denial her entire life…did not validate you…did not value you enough to become honest and believe you and help you and save you from your father. Your mother may have been nice in HER way, but it certainly seems that YOU had to comply with her boundaries…even to your own hurt and having to live with never being able to turn to her for help and support your entire life. My mom’s father did the very same thing to her….right before he died, he admitted that he had done what he had done…and then he took it back. Her mother also briefly admitted that she was telling the truth and then demanded that they never ever speak about it again. There were three girls in that family and all of them had been horrifically abused by their father sexually. I just dont have compassion for women who abandon little helpless children so that they can remain “clueless” . Sorry, but I dont. Your parents may have been kind while you were hurting, on meds, having to withdraw from meds, having to learn to live in this world in pain and guilt and unresolved abuse issues…and they may have been kind to your children, but unfortunately that didnt help YOU. I have learned the hardest and most difficult way that to not take care of ME and to always feel guilt and shame about THEM and feel sorry for them and that I was to blame….after everything they did to me….well, I just dont believe it anymore! I have to take care of myself and I owe myself to be healed, happy and healthy….as much as I can be. I have compassion for your grief, but I feel more that you were let down and left alone all of these years and it is time for YOU to be free of all of that. I have to believe that your mother deep down loved you enough to admit the truth, and now she would want you to heal and not have to live under HER crap anymore like she did. Maybe at the end that is what propelled her to admit to you that she believed you….she wanted you to know so you could be free. I hope I havent hurt you by writing this…I am sorry if I did! Peace and hugs to you!


Hi J!
I just call my mother Jean when I refer to her.. she doesn’t deserve a family affiliation any more. Just
someone I speak of in passing by name when I refer to her. I guess it is my way of breaking that connection,
not that I really talk about her much to anyone.


More about boundaries and role playing. Whenever I spoke up for myself, usually when I was younger (teens) what I said was dismissed. When I tried to assert myself as an independent person, that person was ignored (by my mother) or belittled and control/corrected by my father. I was not allowed an identity independent to my “family identity”. It was, up until last year a role I learned to play in their presence even though that is not who I am now. When I wrote my boundary setting letter in Jan to my mother (Jean) she completely ignored it. No response at all. I had stepped out of my “role”.
My identity, who I was, what I was allowed in expression, personality, creativity was predefined by very
boundaries within my family. They set my boundary in advance. They fenced me in with specific parameters of who I was and could become. I am allowed only that persona. And if I did step outside I learned never to let them see as it was not “approved”. I have lived that way for at least 40 years. Knowing I was not acceptable for who I am. I stepped out of that “role” last Oct. I asserted myself in Jan.
As usual they just turned their backs. I reread my letters from Jan and wow they are whimsy compared to how I would express myself now if I had contact which I don’t. Back in Jan, I was still blaming myself.
Darlene is right. It takes time and the shift in your thinking is subtle but my role is changing. I’m trying to truly be me. Not the fake me. The real me. I think it would be helpful to discuss these roles that we play for approval of our abusers/controllers. What do we give up of ourselves? What do we play false about ourselves?
Karen Ranes



I “played false” for decades of my life. I had long ago lost sight of who I was. I didnt dare be me, being me had gotten me into too much trouble. So, I played the role of caretaker, nursemaid, unpaid therapist, rescuer, approval seeker, whipping boy, punchbag, etc, etc. I played the role of someone who had something to “make up” for, some terrible crime to do penance for, but if someone had asked me what that crime was, I wouldnt have been able to tell them. Today, I went out for lunch with a friend who told me he was worried about me because I had changed so much. I tried to explain to him that I am changing back into who I was always meant to be. The me I was before I was told who I had to be, in order to make others feel okay. He said he would try to understand. I hope he does, but if he cant, then thats ok – it wont stop me moving forward, I wont let it…..Sylvia x


Something that I’d never considered before this discussion as a crossed boundary is that my ex, a couple years into our relationship, began only referring to me in the 3rd person, including when talking to me. Anytime a proper person would refer to me as ‘you’ like ‘how are you?’ he’d say it like ‘how is Jackie?’ Always in some sort of sing song, patronizing, condescending, etc ton. I remember asking him over and over and over, and of course eventually giving up, to cut it out. He would get incredibly defensive about it, argumentative and aggressive. I think now, when I look back and after reading all this discussion and since this was posted I’ve blown through two books by Patricia Evans, I’ve come to see it was because he wanted to obliterate any boundary I was trying to make. To keep me on my toes, to keep me in the fog. It was deeply confusing and troubling at the time, and something I never could quite understand. He would do it in front of people, alone, in front of his parents, anybody really. It was just another one of his ways of trampling all over me so that I wouldn’t even think of putting up a boundary, was too confused and focused on what it MEANT instead of seeing it for what it was: abuse. (got this from one of the books I read, hit me like a brick it made so much sense!) Treating me like a child make me feel like a child, and since my family (still tries heh) treated me this way, I didn’t really put much thought into it other than it felt bad, but again, I really thought it was me deserving this treatment. Messed up stuff. The only boundary I truly enforced was the one on the night of our breakup. I told him that I did not want to go to his mother’s to ‘hide’ from my family who’d come to ‘save’ me. I wanted to go to a hotel and make a plan, not his mother’s and definitely not my mother’s house, I was aiming for neutral territory. As soon as he realized that I wasn’t budging, his crocodile tears stopped instantly (literally) and he proceeded to tell me to go kill myself cause he’d be the best thing that ever happened to me. Needless to say, after he left for good it was the best feeling in the world. I took an hour of his extreme verbal and almost physical assault and then he was gone. But I put down a single boundary that night, as I see it now, and he couldn’t, just was completely unable, to respect it cause he only say me as a toy or something, as ‘Teddy’. He told me instead that I should go kill myself cause he was the thing giving me worth and without him, I was nothing and shouldn’t exist. Lots of stories like that, but that is the one time I decided to have a boundary (and didn’t budge) with him and boy, I saw what happened. I am convinced had I gone back, cause he actually tried sweet talking me back after that, he actually acted like he forgave me for my indiscretion and stipulated all the ways I could make it up to him THEN he’d take ME back, anyways, if I’d gone back I am very sure he would have started really physically abusing me. And he would have said I deserved it because I hurt him so bad for leaving. All because I put down a boundary.


Jackie, that is so powerful! I have known ppl who also speak in 3rd person, but had never thought that it was abuse…but when you wrote your story here, I can definitely see that for what it is! What you also wrote “All because I put down a boundary”…that really blew me away with the truth of your words! Abusers seem to hate anyone’s “rules” and boundaries except for their own. It really opened my eyes to yet another way abusers try to control too. I am so happy you got away from this guy and did stick to YOUR boundary. You were very brave and strong! Thanks for sharing.


Hi Janie,
It was me that brought up the book, “Betrayal Bond”. It was recommended to me from an abuse survivor. I’ve been reading it too & it is eye opening & describes the intensity of the bond. Did you take the “Post Traumatic Stress Index?” The results were interesting to look at, in that it pin pointed the areas that affect me such as,” Trauma Reactions”, “Trauma Blocking”, & “Trauma Splitting”…Validated so much of what I’ve been acknowledging, processing & verbalizing in my Betrayal Bond with FOO. It’s is heavy stuff to read & I’ve had to put it down to decompress. EFB has been a great sounding board to vent my feelings & obtain support from other wounded survivors. Yay for all the support!


” …the top info I found on it included understanding the abusers and not judging or placing blame on them because after all, we are all wounded souls! No wonder we have so much trouble healing from abuse!”

There is no way you can understand an abuser, believe me – I tried! For years!! I’d ask questions to see if she would share anything that would indicate to me whether she was a victim or not – nothing. I even asked one of her sisters – nothing. When it comes to mothers who seem to have NPD – there is NO WAY of EVER KNOWING why they abuse. I tried to ‘understand’ – I tried to make her love me – both very impossible feats. It just ‘enabled’ her to abuse me more and more severely until I couldn’t take it anymore. Our abusers might have been abused – but it does not, in any way, excuse the abuser from being abusive. And since when do we allow abusers to not be held accountable, and responsible, for their actions against others??

As for boundary setting – long before I knew about boundaries, I was forced to set them because I had a hard time enduring my mother’s abuse. Setting the boundary wasn’t much good though because then when I did see her, she made up for lost time. It made it unbearable to be around her. But because of the abuse, setting the boundary (or as I called it then, ‘excluding my mother as much as possible’) was a difficult thing for me to do. It was construed that my behaviour (setting the boundary) was ‘dishonouring my mother.’ And so you know what that means, guilt – it took me a long time to figure out it was false guilt she laid on me in attempt to get me to conform – which was meant to get me to allow her back into my life so she can keep abusing me – because, as she said once, ‘I can treat you however I want.’ Which of course, was not okay with me. Something sounded very wrong when she said that.

I don’t miss or regret setting the boundaries which, in the long run, just didn’t work. Like I said above, when I did see her, she made up for lost time. The abuse ended after having to completely omit her from my life. And when I finally got to the point of omission, I was an empty shell person. She took and took and took until I had nothing left to give. Nothing left to give her or anyone else, especially myself. I felt like an empty shell dulled from misuse.


Rizae, such true words! I also got to the point of cutting off everyone from my family, and I was exhausted and completely drained too. That was the only boundary that I feel I could set that was strong enough in order for me to try to find a way to heal. I didn’t realize that at the time…that it was a boundary. I think of my parents and still have a measure of love, and even forgiveness….I don’t wish evil upon them….but if I hear that they have passed away, I can’t say that I would feel anything except a small measure of sadness and total relief. I used to believe something was wrong with me for thinking of them dying and wishing they would and knowing I would feel relieved, but I don’t anymore. I don’t wish for them to pass nowadays, but I believe I still would feel intense relief. Being away from them entirely for over a year…and thinking of trying all over again at some type of relating with them only produces anxiety and really not much else. I literally just couldn’t try anymore.
I do wish for you total healing and well being Rizae! You are a sweet heart!


Diane ~ It sounds like our experiences are much the same! Freaky! I ended up cutting ties with all of my family of origin as well – that was two years ago for me (with the exception of my mother where I cut ties a long time ago.) It finally came out that they all thought I was lying about my mother’s abuse. Amazing how people will pretend their way around you! WOW. I didn’t care to have relationships with people, be they family or not, who think I’m a liar.

I can’t say I love my mother – but I don’t hate her either. I no longer wish ill will against her or my family of origin. Funny about you mentioning how you’d feel if you heard that they passed away. It wasn’t that long ago that my husband asked me about that – except it was asked of me, “If you find out that your mother or father died, would you go to their funeral?” I said, without hesitation, “No. … Why would I go to the funeral of my abuser and the one who blindly let it happen?” I feel more indifference toward them than anything else. My mother even worked her lies into the one sibling I was actually close to. I will never know what lies my mother embedded into her brain. Like you, I know that when they’ve died, especially my mother, it will be a relief – like you said, ‘intense relief.’

Not being around my family of origin I don’t miss either – Christmases with my dad and his wife (not my mother) would have everyone there with those pity looks, ‘oh, if only she’d just get over it’ looks. I was always walking on eggshells around them. And I’d know they were all talking behind my back, but did they ever ask me, ‘why?’ Nope – they NEVER did. Maybe they were afraid of having to face the truth because then they’d have to choose sides and they didn’t want to – who can know for sure. All I can do is speculate with what facts I do have. And I try to not think about it – I can’t change it anyway.

I was always the scapegoat, the one ridiculed and humiliated and degraded and my mother did an awesome job at alienating me from my siblings – I have three. The only reason that I was close to my one sibling (a sister) was because something happened that caused her young self to have no respect for our other sister, who was also the ‘golden child’ (whom I was never close to and never really knew and she and I were only a year and a half apart.) My mother was away that weekend, seeing her sisters I think, I think that had my mother been home, I would have never ever been close to my younger sister. I think that had my mother been home that time, it would’ve meant that I also wouldn’t have been there for my younger sister – and thus I would have likely left my family of origin much, much sooner. I loved my one sister very much and when I felt, and actually really was, betrayed by her because she chose to believe my lying abuser over what was my truth – the truth.

It feels good to be in a place where I no longer resent any of them – they can’t help it. My mother is such a convincing liar – after all, I believed the lies she said about me! I believed her when she insinuated that I was stupid; I believed her when she’d compare me to someone she hated – no, loathed – and told me I was just like her, the list goes on. It took a long time to undo such lies. So, I don’t hold it against them – not sticking up for me – my mother is an awesome liar, believable … and one thing I have learned in this process is that, one, ‘you cannot make someone love you’; and the second thing is similar, ‘you cannot make someone believe you.’

And I know about anxiety – I feel the very same, especially concerning my mother. The idea of being in the same room with her, even still, can bring on a full force panic attack. If my brain even starts to go there, I have to consciously stop it and obliterate it from my mind by thinking on other things.

I couldn’t do it anymore either. My mother hasn’t been in my life for 12 years (although I did try an attempt of some kind, at the 10 year mark of her not being in my life, by having a Facebook relationship which I thought would be safe – it wasn’t – all it did was give her a look into my life without correspondence, without me being able to look into hers.) The rest of my family of origin I haven’t seen or heard from has been 2 years.

I still struggle with the ‘need to be perfect to earn love,’ (something she taught and reinforced VERY well) and I keep having to correct myself, reminding myself that love isn’t real if I have to earn it. This is tremendously hard for me to unlearn. And when I feel like I’ve failed, I turn to food for comfort. I’ll bet I’ve gained and lost about 300 pounds by now. So depressing when I think about it. But I keep asking God to strip me of all the crap – and I know he’s doing a work, I equate it to be like being purified like gold or silver. In raw form it has to be under tremendous heat to burn off all the impurities before you see its purity, its shine and lustre. I feel as though this is what I’ve been going through. Lots of emotional days and I am not one who can hold back tears until I’m alone – when the emotions come, they are strong … and they’re unstoppable. I’m not one of those people that can pause tears until I’m alone or in another room. I often wish I was.

It’s not an easy road, but God has been with me since it started – since my eyes were opened to my mother’s evilness. It’s been hard … some days are still hard. But I’m so much more content and happy without all the crap!

Even the other day (my kids are still Facebook friends with some of their cousins) I was shown a pic of my nephew and it broke my heart a little that my sisters kids are growing up and we’re not a part of that. But then I think of the nightmare of being around people who think I’m a liar and I snap out of it – and I hope like crazy that the abuse I endured isn’t somehow passed on to them!

Sorry, kind of rambled there … feels so good though to get stuff off your chest! 🙂


Rizae, thank you for opening up like this…! Whenever I hear of someone being a “scapegoat” in a family, it brings up a tear. I wasn’t the scapegoat in my family…my older brother was, and we were very close. It was sheer he’ll watching and listening to the abuses he suffered, and from your description, it sounds so similar. There were 4 of us also…I have three brothers, but the dysfunction of the family made it impossible for us to remain close as we became adults…as the years went by. So my parents…especially my mom…did an alienation job on all of us too. I am so sorry that you have had similar issues in your life too! You never should have had to, and I am so glad that you are coming out of the fog like me…more and more. Just to try and encourage you about using food to cope because you still struggle….I hope you will try not to always be too hard on yourself about it. Maybe food is all you really had that was there for you back then, and maybe it is still your “security blanket”? That is how it was with me. It’s really too bad that this type of coping mechanism shows up on the body! I have been exactly where you are about food and even eating disorder “issues” , but to encourage you….I got free a few months ago when I had what I call my breakthrough on here at EFB. It was like when I realized I was free and I was worthy and whole as a person….that I was great being ME…..I instantly lost that lifelong….since I was literally 8 yrs old….pull with food. I have lost 25 pounds or so last time I weighed. The need was born out of a need for survival….to cope with all of the abuses….and now it is healed. I haven’t been perfect with eating and exercise, and of course I do have to make choices to eat healthy….but I used to rip through so much sugar and junk food, and hide food all over the place….and now I don’t NEED to. Anxiety and fear…. Something stressful….or even unusual levels of excitement would start that feeling like I had to have something to eat. To unwind would be also another trigger. It used to scare me be ause I have low blood sugar…but I couldn’t stop! I think that as you keep reaching for healing and you keep setting healthy boundaries and Kiel learning how wonderful you really and truly are…..and as the lies you were brainwashed to believe are revealed ….and as you get stronger emotionally….you are also going to see and feel and experience breakthroughs that feel like absolute miracles in YOUR life. JUst for YOU! So hang in there. It is so great to have connected with you on all of this. I also understand how it feels when you see pics of your sibling children…and that stab of regret and pain. But YOU did not cause that and neither did I. It wasn’t your first choice at all to cut them off. I am just sorry that you have been devalued like you have…even with your siblings. As for unlearning those messages and lies from your mother….that IS the part that is frustrating, but that isn’t because we are “slow” ….we were literally abused and manipulated, and controlled and lied to for so many years! I think it shows our deep intelligence that we are even seeing all of this at all! Much. Grace and peace and joy sent your way tonight!!


Hi everyone, I’ve been reading the comments from the last few days & I’m nodding so much my head hurts … I just wanted thankyou all for sharing your heartfelt stories, its helped me on levels I don’t think I can put into words yet but I did just want to thankyou all for your openness, much love to you all on our seperate but in so many ways shared journeys.


Diane ~ Thank you so much for that. Very validating. And I do think when it comes to food its slowly changing. I’ve noticed I don’t think about food as much and I really don’t mindlessly eat like I used to. I hope I can be where you are now in relation to the food thing.

All my food triggers were/are the same as yours. And yes, it can be viewed like a ‘security blanket.’ My food problem started when I was quite young. When I was about 13 or 14 I had a fight with the only friend I had at the time – she called me ‘fat.’ I was so hurt, and when I got home I looked in the mirror and … I was fat. She was right. Next day I asked her how one goes about getting skinny. She told me. I hardly ate and then exercised incessantly. I got all the weight off in a short period of time (and my menstruation even ceased for about six months.) I kept the weight off for quite some time. I was about 16 years old when I started to really notice my mother’s abuse (in hindsight as this was my ‘normal’ then) and her favouritism of my younger sister whose a year and a half younger than me. I am the oldest in my family and I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. I hated how she always made me feel like a worthless human being. And it wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I really saw it. I really thought that when I had kids of my own that I would then have this profound revelation and newfound respect for my mother because then I would understand why my mother treated me the way she did. I thought that once I had kids of my own that her childrearing would make sense. It didn’t. I was CONFUSED and HURT and ANGRY. I realized quickly that she hated me and I didn’t know why. I could not understand how a mother could ‘hate’ her own child. The love I have for my kids was so deep that I could never imagine ever treating them the way my mother did me.

The abuse escalated when I became a Christian (about 3-4 years before having kids) that’s when all hell broke loose – the abuse really stepped up, and I thought she made me feel worthless before. Now it was worse and I was convinced that I would understand why she treated me that way she did when I had kids of my own. But when I had kids of my own – it all backfired. I was so confused! And even with all that, it didn’t matter how kind I was or how much I would try to make her love me – it just flat out didn’t work.

The abuse eventually got so bad that I had to omit her. And so true, Diane, exposing and unlearning the lies takes time – when you are manipulated and degraded and guilted and shamed – the lies take root at one’s core – and it takes time doing it. Thank you so much for your kind words.

I hope for all hurting souls who read and comment on EFB truly find healing for their souls, their hearts, but mostly their minds. I find in our case its a battle of the mind and what the mind thinks. It’s about changing our thinking. I know it has done wonders for me – as slow and tedious as it seems! I found her site about two years ago now and I found it right when I needed it most. My heart aches for all those like us who endured such insidious and surreptitious abuses – from any of the women I’ve seen comment here, none of us deserved it. I mean, really, who ‘deserves’ abuse?? From where I sit, no one.

{hugs to all!}


Great discussion going on here. I wanted to point out something Diane said to Rizae that I thought was really significant. It is really easy for us to forget how hard we tried to make things work out and to be compliant to their wishes before we draw some of these serious and difficult boundaries.

Diane said; “It wasn’t your first choice at all to cut them off”

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
Thanks for your comment. I’d basically stopped thinking about everything, because it was all just #%*^ing with my head too much. But I’ve moved out of home now so at least have some distance etc. Still afraid of confrontation etc so haven’t done anything there; but just stopped replying to texts/phone calls for the most part (occasionally see them; usually in conjunction w/family birthday etc), but I guess it feels like a small step in defining my own life (even if it’s in a passive way).

I had a pretty bad patch recently (last couple/few months) where it felt like pretty much every shred of hope I’d been holding on to (in terms of things to focus on/potential ways forward etc) had disappeared. It felt like it happened in conjunction w/seeing the past more realistically; or in other words, as I became more aware of the abuse etc, the fantasies/illusions I had about who I was/what I was capable of etc broke down as well, leaving me to face the truth that I’d basically been keeping my head above water by holding on to a bunch of false illusions in which I was a much more capable person than I actually am.

(Not sure if this is making any sense. I’ll keep trying anyway…)

Basically, I kinda lost all hope of being “normal” (or “functional”) someday, and pretty much stopped caring about most things. I only shower occasionally nowadays, basically only clean my place for room inspections, and stopped bothering about trying to appear like I’m functional (eg trying to keep “normal” daytime hours etc). It wasn’t a very pleasant process, and I was quite afraid of suicidal thoughts overtaking me, but I think in a way it seems to have removed a lot of the pressure I put on myself, and has left me (comparatively) free to just go out when I feel up to it, have a few drinks, and basically do the “teenage” thing that I avoided first time round, without stressing or beating myself up quite so much. And although this might not seem a “good” thing, (and not denying I still get very lonely and depressed at times), overall I seem to be doing better than I was (actually going out now, lost a bit of weight, made some new friends/acquaintences etc).

Lost track of my thread here a bit…. I think in terms of “taking a break”, my doctor had advised me to stop (or at least back off) on reading/thinking so much about self-help topics etc…. and I think I agreed, because I was quite regularly getting myself so stressed out from thinking about it all… so I guess I’ve largely gone with the “head in the sand” defense…. but hey. Better than nothing. And stressing myself all the time wasn’t helping anyway.

Alright, gonna wrap it up here…. this feels very pessimistic (just like when I used to post more often…. oh well. I’ll put it up anyway for now.) hope everyone’s doing well.


PS – I forget who was talking about eating disorders earlier, but it made me think that I think I’ve lost weight because my mother isn’t around to give me shit for eating late at night anymore (because of this, I developed the habit of waiting til she was asleep before coming out to eat so she wasn’t around to bother me. But I think it became kinda compulsive – eating as a distraction etc.) Arguably, I’ve just replaced that with alcohol, but hey.

Apologies if this is too dark or anything.


Recently the subject of “proof” has come up and how we felt we had to prove that we were not the problem.
I ran accross this post from last year about this very thing and more abuot where it starts and ends~
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Aurele,

I am 30 and a baker. I started baking four years ago after studying totally unrelated subjects. I really love it and am thinking one day I will go back to school to take a baking program. I also write fiction and hope to be published someday.

I wish you all the best in your search to make changes in your life, and I’m so sorry you were treated so badly. I’m glad that you have escaped, though, and that your grandparents opened their door to you. I hope that we will all find freedom and wholeness.


Hi Darlene,
I went back and read that post you referred to,about the return of self esteem. It is true, that they have so engrained into us that we are “less than” and not worthy, that we dont even consider we deserve equal treatment! I liked when you said: “I had no concept of equal value when it came to myself, which was also part of my false belief system.”
And it is a false belief system. What strikes me is, how young I was, when my mother started this. I can remember being probably 5 years old, and her treating me unfairly. Well, it was 4 yrs of age, when she used to tie me to the tree and leave me alone outside, for pete’s sake! I can remember,my sister used to grab my arms, and dig her nails in, leaving little crescent marks up and down my arms, bleeding, scabby. I called her a “savage” (good word for a 5 yr old!). My mother grabbed me, slammed me against the wall, and got down in my face and growled “I…BORE….. CHILDREN!!!!!!!!” Then shook me. Wow, how frightening! Um,could you treat the wounds on my arms, please, no? Oh, ok! If I hurt myself and cried, she would scoff, Stop your crocodile tears!, Which felt like a slap in the face! Total lack of empathy. But,remembering this later, I was accused of those crocodile tears, b/c she herself cried them, to manipulate others.
Everything was always my fault, even as a small child. And she would always “forget” things when it came to me. She would make me the most repulsive lunch, PB and J on rye bread, warm chocolate milk, to take to parochial school. The 2nd grade teacher, was a big bully, and would make me miss recess, and sit in front of my lunch every day. Sometimes, she would go to the convent to eat lunch,and leave me there (setting me up, I think), then humiliate me in front of the class for throwing my sandwich out, Wasting good food, an affront to God, etc. My mother knew this, I would beg her to put something different in my lunch bag, she would always said yes, but she never did it! She set me up to be bullied by a mean, bad, nun. That’s just one example of her hurtful forgetfulness.
As a teen, I did act out,and that was the thing they could all grab onto,and say “Ok! Now you are really bad!” skipping school, etc. But I found out that I had suffered a brain injury when younger,and had symptoms of partial seizures while in school. I was so frightened, and didnt tell anyone, I just felt the need to keep moving, or in my head, I thought I would die. My symptoms were right sided weakness, feeling of electricity running through the right side of my body, jerking movements of my right leg at times. Headache. When the electricity sensations would start (like adrenaine running through one side of your body), I literally could not sit in my chair at school. I had to move. Looking back, I can forgive myself for that, certainly, and my life is much improved with med for seizure disorder, but I dont even bother to explain to them. The other day, my mother was complaining about my brother’s boss’es daughter, who was a teen,and very rambunctious. When I pointed out to her that a certain amount of what appears to be rebellion is actually a healthy phase teens go through, she shot me the dirtiest look, and held it, like, don’t you even think what you did back then was normal.My whole family still holds this belief about me, and I think they use it, to discredit me and treat me poorly (except my brothers). It doesnt matter that I am a successful professional with 2 degrees, going for a 3rd, in a healthy relationship, with a life. But, even pursuing all those things, I can see now, was an attempt to “win their approval”, which is never going to happen. I dont need their approval! I know that, but I need to feel it inside. It will come………..
Sorry for the rant!



Janie…I think it is amazing that you have become a sucessful professional with 2 degrees…and working to go for a 3rd! Plus a healthy relationship and a good life….after all you went through! You certainly have a LOT to be proud of yourself for no matter what reasons you accomplished everything for. I really feel for you for all that you suffered, and the rejection, fear and anxiety you experienced…and the neglect of your mother. I am so sorry that you were set up to be bullied by that horrid nun. It sounds like she must have been an angry bitter unhappy and unfufilled person herself to do that to a small child! I am so sorry that you had the medical conditions that werent even explained to you and were neglected! I cant even imagine what you must have gone through and felt as a little girl. You brought back some memories to me from when I attended Catholic school! My mom would also give me a terrible lunch…one she knew I hated day after day, and so I would throw it all away and it got to the point where I was so hungry that I would stay in at recess and actually steal from the other children’s lunches. I did that for a long time until I got caught by some children…who told my entire 3rd grade class, and one day they cornered me on the playground and confronted me. I was so embarrassed and humiliated and cried….but I was absolutely in the wrong and the shame I felt until well into my adult years! I never did have a situation where a nun or teacher was cruel to me like yours was, so I cant imagine how you must have felt! I did have a similar situation with food at home…my older brother and I were only allowed to drink out of plastic cups that my mom would use to hold her hair conditioner in. The plastic absorbed all of the smell and “flavor”, and even when we drank from them, the milk tasted like the conditioner. There were so many food issues going on in my family….and Darlene helped me to realize how it was all about the control. Just like the meals given for school…that was all about control too. I also got taped up at home….masking tape on my mouth and hands taped behind my back for hours…..and there were other very humiliating things that my dad never knew about. I believe the truth now…it really was all about control and the way to control was in humiliation and some really weird crap…and lots of abuse and neglect. It is so sad and so comforting at the same time for me to read your comments and everyone else’s comments…and realize how similar my crazy life was to others….when I had felt that I was pretty much all alone in it. I am so glad you are seeing the lies for what they are about yourself….and that YOU are obviously just what your mother feared that you would become all along….MORE than SHE is. Darlene mentioned that recently in a comment and it stuck with me about abusers. I bet it drives your mother crazy that you have turned out to be so strong and have gone on to become the person that you are today. Now all she can do is try to make sure that you arent happy…..and it sounds like she tries hard to see that you comply to HER . Grace and peace to you!!!


Wow, Diane, I can’t believe you went through those things! how sick, to make you drink out of cups that held her hair conditioner! Must have been nasty tasting. I can’t beleive you had similar food issues. Wonder why they sent us to school with nasty lunches, day after day? I’m sorry you had to go hungry. That must have been hard, for a growing child! Then to be bullied for stealing food, on the playground. That is a good point, that it is all about control. I never thought of it that way. The tape must have been frightening! It is similar to me being tied up. Again, yes, control issues. Could you breathe okay? I would have been so scared.
Yes, my mother held alot back from my father as well, or lied about it. Can you imagine,that being your legacy, your life story, that you were mean to, bullied, and competed with small children, YOU OWN children. Your own flesh and blood. How strange! How sick!



Janie, I agree with you….it is very sickening! To have that legacy as a parent….and think of that nun you were in school with! Her legacy as a nun who “loves” God! I am sad that you were tied up to a tree…where do these ppl come up with such humiliating and painful ideas for their own children? So bizarre! The tape was placed over my mouth, not my nose, but it scared me a lot. I think what was always more frightening and actually terrifying to me were the looks that were given to me and the intensity of the anger. When I think back on the “crimes” I committed as a child and the “punishments” , it was a nightmare. I went to therapy two times briefly in my 20s and early 30s, and one time I remember the therapist asking me if I thought my mom was trying to keep me out of the way by punishing me. Meaning…did she create situations where I would be punished and then out of her hair for the rest of the day or for weeks at a time. I didn’t have a clue back then, but I do believe that now. We would do something very minor….chewing gum was one of them, and then be given 500-800 long sentences to write for a punishment. We were in our rooms endless days and nights writing because sometimes we even were given more than one to write. Did your mother create things to keep you out of the way? I have never heard of that before so I am curious if anyone else experienced something similar? What was your father like …..was he passive or emotionally unavailable? To have believe such negative lies about his own daughter made me wonder.


Hey all,
We had the wedding. My Nrents came, but they refused to come to the pre wedding BBQ and instead I think, but do not know for sure, spent the whole night with my eldest and middle sister somewhere at a restaurant. My middle sister was invited also, but didn’t come either I assume to be with the Nrents. NM was very quiet at the wedding and never came up to me or my husband and never went through the receiving line either. My two sister were sitting near my NM and Father and guarding them. I have caused trouble by telling people that NM said “Why should I come to your daughter’s wedding and put a smile on my face for you?” She said this and my sibs get mad at me? It’s plain sickness. Thank goodness there was no trouble for my daughter and the wedding went well. I even got to talk to my brother, the GC, when NM is not near we can talk and catch up and it’s all fine. So is it really me the problem? I think not. She’s actually not speaking to her own two sisters either. Yet my NF continues to protect her. I do fear I won’t see my NF again since he takes my NM side most times and I have no intention of visiting them anytime soon as they are out of state. He didn’t speak to me much at the wedding which leads me to believe he’s has enough and is blaming me. But so have I had enough of NM causing trouble especially at what should be one of the best times in my life, my daughters’ wedding! I’m glad it’s all over and I can breath again and will not be dealing with their crazymaking again for awhile…Peace to you all today and always…


Sonia, Thanks for recommending that book! Yes, it is very heavy. I have to read it in little bits. But it is another form of help and support, so that is great. My book is downloaded to the kindle, so I dont think I have come across the quiz yet. That sounds interesting. I was diagnosed with PTSD, but I am wondering what the quiz has to say?
Melody, I am so glad the wedding is over and went well. I guess we can say it went well because your NF didnt create a scene. So narcississtic, making it all about them, particularly the Nrents! Boycotting the dinner, not going through the recieving line, your sisters, taking guard positions around them, my goodness! Are we 2 yrs old? A normal family would put differences aside, and focus on the young person whom this celebration is about! My mother enjoys taking the focus off of the celebrant and placing it back on herself by making a scene, having a fake tear fest, etc. At my brother’s wedding, she went around telling everyone she could be pregnant, had been to the doctors and would not find out the results until Monday! My goodness, she created such a buzz and a flutter! Sickening. I’m glad for you, that they are out of state, actually. Isn’t it peaceful, when they are not around making problems?
Diane, you know, I actually can’t remember getting punished too much, as I was that well trained! I was aways off reading a book, or outside playing. I was very much a book worm. So I was already out of her hair. She controlled us with her anger. She could go from nothing, to shrill shrieking in 1 second flat. We could always gage her level of anger, by the sound of her high heels against the floor. If she wasn’t getting her way, her steps were sharp and rapid.Stacatto. My father was actually a rage-aholic growing up. I would get this sick feeling of dread in my stomach, right around 4 pm, when he was due to come home. He would walk through the house, and throw anything that was out of place. Did we not wipe the walls down in the shower after using? He would bellow about that,and the possible mold that could occur. Shampoo/conditioner bottles out of place? He would open the cellar door, and fire the bottles down into the basement. Something out of place in the kitchen? He would rant about that. He was so frightening, he could control everyone just with his voice. When he wanted something done, he would speak quietly, plainly, very deliberately, so you got the message. Physical abuse? Well, he would hold you arm firmly and MOVE you to the area he felt you needed to be. See, this kitchen isnt clean. See, you left a mess in the bathroom. It did hurt your arm. I was so frightened of him that I really stayed out of his way. Once, I was crying,b/c I was afraid of the dark. He came to my room, dragged me by one arm out of bed, across the floor, and flung me against the wall in the hall. Then he said “I have to get up at 5 in the morning”,and left me there. I wonder why they even had children? But I know the answer to that is, my mother wanted the status of being “Mother of 5” in the catholic church.
Last night, when I was laying there, thinking about your question about punishment, I was actually feeling that sick feeling of dread in my stomach, that these 2 could cause. And it was helpful, because I could now connect that feeling to my overeating and love of comfort food, to quiet that sick stomach feeling. I did overeat as a child and do periodically now. Interestingly, since I went no contact with my 2 Nsisters and low with my mother, I have not been eating right, and not exercising like I usually do.Am up about 5 pounds. Old habits. But, I should be greatful,not to have this stress and angry people in my life. well, I “made the connection”,and went back to my weight watchers online today. I think it is a great way to take care of yourself. I don’t need to punish myself with food, and I do have a right to take care of myself with exercise (which I do love, actually!)
Thank you, Diane for sharing all you went through. I identified with much of what happenened to you. You know,that tape over the mouth. A few days ago I saw a show where a serial killer put tape over the mouth, then the nose of his victims, and they died.Could not stop thinking about that. It must pull up primal instincts in us, when our mouth and/or noses are covered. Breathing is essential to life!
Well, off to walk, and get back on the trail of healthily taking care of myself. Thanks everyone, for being here,for listening and sharing! This is such a godsend, this site! Thanks, Darlene! :0)


P.S. Another memory on being “well-trained”. My mother had company for lunch,and I was instructed not to come out of my room. I had to go to the bathroom, but did not want to disobey. There was an empty #10 can in my closet, so I actually went in there (both ways). My mother was so angry when I showed her, but I reminded her, I was instructed not to leave my room. Smiling now, she had to deal with what was in the can……


Hi Melody
I’m glad that it went well and that your daughter had a nice day!
Thanks for the update.
Hugs, Darlene


And Janie
They don’t want us to consider that we actually have equal rights and equal value. As soon as a person realizes that, they start to change. They get stronger; they look for the escape route.
Thank you for sharing your story of what happened to you in childhood. What a nightmare. She bore children??? That is her answer or justification for the way she treated you?
It makes me stop and think today about how our society thinks that teens are so difficult but they never wonder HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY. It ticks me off.
P.S. please share and “rant” as often as you like. It always helps others and so many (thousands!) relate to it.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene ~ post #116 ~ and it really wasn’t my first choice at all to cut them off. I really tried – and I even tried many things to try to ‘fix’ stuff. Nothing worked. Then I felt forced into a corner when I felt like I was being asked to be silent when told to ‘get over it’ – and I couldn’t do that.


Hi everyone,

I remember when I was a child, my mother used to put her hand in front of my mouth when I start to cry. I doing this, I couldn’t breathe during a few seconds until she remove her hand.
I remember also had tapes on my mouth and at kindergarten too.

I feel so sad about the fact that my little sister have been seeing my father still today.
It hurt, it sounds like a betrayal and that’s scares me.

One other fact I don’t understand is why why my sister hadn’t this unfair treatment ? why me ? why my non father chose me ? and my sister had more protection than me from my mother. Why my mother prefered her to me ?

That’s so unfair.

My father was too a raging person. he controlled us (especially me) in the home about details like forgetting to open the window of my bedroom the morning.
I was punished for this forgetting, I had less pocket money.

And my parents was surprised because when I was a teenager, I was “difficult” and I was no more the perfect child I used to be (with inhuman efforts) in childhood. And I start to feel very very bad.
But they never never wondered why I became that way.

Thanks for reading.


Aurele, I am so sorry you went through that as a small child, and stil suffer today. I think they chose the scapegoat child very carefully. My theories are they chose the most threatening child, who is talented and compete with them, or, the most sensitive child, who can read situations and call them out on their bad behavior. Or, they chose the one who reminds them most of them, because in reality, they display this huge ego, but actually despise themselves. They then act as if they are omnipotent, to bury their own self hate.
But the most important thing is, that you did not deserve to be abused like that. You were entitled to healthy parenting, and were denied it.
I wish you continued success on your healing, and finding your own path to a happy life!



Thank you Janie for your kind words, it moves me and empowering me.


Janie, I think what you went through with your mother and father’s anger problems is so damaging. To be dragged and shoved and pushed…to have a parent get in your face and scream and yell…all of it is abuse I think. To watch your father become unglued over the exact positioning of a shampoo bottle…and then go so far as to lose his temper and hurl it down the stairs….I can only imagine your levels of anxiety and fear and confusion! I can understand those feelings and my heart goes out to you. I am beginning to believe that rage/anger problems are similar in these kind of families? My dad would do the same kind of things like grabbing and shoving, but he would really lose it with my older brother. He beat the crap out of him as a little boy and I know it had to do with my mom yelling at him and making up lies about him . It was on a daily basis for so long we could never remember when it would stop and start up again. As he got older, there were other “methods” for punishment, so the beatings did stop eventually. He would beat me…and even joked that he broke the wooden croquet stick over my “butt”…and would laugh about it. That used to hurt my feelings terribly. But it was never as bad for me as for my older brother. Poor guy. I would hear him go after my brother and I would become terrified…that knot in the stomach and sweaty palms too. It was a nightmare that we couldnt ever seem to wake up from. That is how it felt. It seems to me in looking back that my mom was always the one who stirred him up. She was always exaggerating and yelling and complaining (whining!) and that would wear my dad down and then he would just lose it. I think she probably turned him against us to shut us out of their lives deliberately. It wouldnt surprise me if that was her motive. The more I think about it, it seems almost like a campaign of sorts to keep us out of the way and shut us up and shut us out.
It makes me think that your life was so similar in many ways that this is something that is fairly common among abusers! When you commented on how you could feel that same dread , I could feel it too…and that has to be one of the “desired effects” that abusers go for? I dont know for sure, but it certainly is effective for controlling purposes, isnt it? YUK! That is so sad when you shared about going in a can because your mother had you so freaked out that you couldnt even feel comfortable going out of your bedroom to use the bathroom! How disgusting that is…that level of control.

Aurele…I am so sorry that you have suffered so badly. I am sorry that you were singled out to be picked on and abused so badly. My parents also played favorites with my two younger brothers. That always used to hurt terribly, so I understand why you feel the way you do. None of that is YOUR fault. It actually has nothing at all to do with YOU or who you are or what you look like, or behave like or anything about YOU. It is all about THEM. All of it. They are abusers and that is what THEY do. You are just unfortunate enough to have been “picked”. But if it wasnt you in the family that got picked, it would have been another child. I dont fully understand it myself, but I know that is the truth. One day you are going to be able to believe that about yourself…that all of the abuse and attacks and rejection had nothing at all to do with YOU …it was always about THEM as very twisted and sick people. The truth and reality is that YOU are perfectly fine and wonderful and beautiful just the way you are. Peace and love and grace to you both today!!!!


Diane, Thank you for all of your kind words and understanding. Boy, your father was a rage-aholic as well! I feel sorry for your brothers as well. How are they doing in life? My brother is in total denial of any abuse and neglect, and is ultra-loyal to both of my parents. I am sorry that you were beaten by your father, as instigated by your mother. My mother did that as well, stir up my father to come down on us. The incident of abuse where the croquet stick was broken on your butt, that is horrible. People go to jail for such things now. It was weird, it made me remember my mother broke a bread board on my butt, when I was 5. I had crossed the street to ride the neighbors tire swing, and she didnt know.
Yes, I do think these dysfuctional families have alot in common. Ruled by anger and rage. Once, after starting treatment, my father came home and started his usual routine. I asked him, “Is that what you are really soooo mad about? Why do you do this?” And, surprise, he stopped behaving that way. Never did it again. As he has gotten older, he has mellowed,treats me fairly, and this is why I desire to have a relationship with him.
I blocked my mother on Facebook this week. She never communicated with me on it, but knew details of my life that she could have only seen there. Yet,she would not like to discuss my life, or be supportive or encouraging. It is like she was a spy. Gathering information that her and my sick sisters probably could pick apart and ruminate over. Too bad for them……………..



Janie…thank YOU for your kind words back! 🙂 I can understand why you decided to block your mother on FB…and why you feel the way you do about her spying. My mom did the same thing to me.( spied) Especially when I lived at home until I was 19. I did outsmart her sometimes, but she would go into my room while I was gone and then there would be the yelling afterward, and punishments when I was little. As I got older, my older brother and I had very early bedtimes and she would actually sneak up the stairs to see if the light was still on and then burst through the door trying to catch me. It didnt take me long to discover that flashlights worked great under the covers! lol. I would read as long as I wanted to with a flashlight. So she would throw the door open…literally…and I would have the flashlight turned off by then. ( we had early bedtimes until I was graduated from high school) I learned to sneak and hide food and to be ultra quiet from those years.
I think it is great that you were bold enough to confront your father! I am also very happy for you that you have been able to forge a relationship with him that you couldnt have when you were younger! I did try several times to discuss things with my father, but he is emotionally unavailable and he tried in HIS way, but it was still the same old ways that didnt help ME. We never really bonded over anything except that he has an amazing sense of humor and I tend to view things the same way so we were always able to laugh at certain things together. That was about it, unfortunately. I think the sad part is that I can see so much that is good in the man, but cannot ever really connect with him or get him to connect with me, if that makes sense? So, I cant hate him…and I still love him…but I refuse to try any longer for something that simply doesnt really exist for either of us, and he is still exactly the same. My parents still view my older brother the same. Pathetic of them! My older brother is actually doing better than I thought he would be able to. He cut me out of his life several times over the years as adults…which I never wanted to happen. He is a manager in a company and married and has two children. The last time he and I spoke…several years ago, he was happy to hear from me and then after catching up on my life and finding out all about my life…he cut me off again. I dont know why, and he never answered when I asked, so I tend to believe that everyone in our family trigger off some bad stuff inside of him…things that he would prefer to not visit anymore. I am a part of that history? I have NO idea, to be honest, but I only want him to be happy and safe. So I respect his decision on that. My younger brothers are completely tight with our parents and bought into their way of thinking about me and my older brother. Our family was not a “family” in the real sense of the word, and they both have also struggled through the years with self esteem issues, drugs, drinking, relationships. I used to want contact with them, but nothing ever changed ..it is always going to be “poor Diane” and “poor older brother”….and who needs or wants that? They could hear all they wanted about the good things going on in my life, but they were either jealous or threatened or denied it. There is too much to write here that goes into our “history”, but I wish them well….but leave me out of it from now on! I feel with my two younger brothers and parents that they can feed off of each other! That is what it has always seemed like to me….at my expense! No more of that for me…… 🙂 You are so right ….”Too bad for them”

It has been so nice that you have validated what I have written and I will always appreciate that.


Thank you Diane :).


Hi Everyone!
I have published a new post about the letter I have mentioned here that my sister sent to myself and my daughter accusing me of poisoning my family (my kids) against my father.
You can read it here! http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-deception-of-an-emotionally-unavailable-father/
Hugs, Darlene


Hi, I’m tired of telling my story but am no better off for it. I’m 50 next year and am still emotionally where I was when I was a teen. Life hurts full stop. I survive but most days wish I didn’t. I have screamed inside when I’v asked for help but nothing helps. I’m tired and just want it to hurry up and be over. I’m not gona do anything to myself but long for my deathbed. The damage done killed me inside. I don’t know who I am or the reason for the days I survive. Life is too hard.


Hi Cheeky sprite! Nice to meet you! I am relatively new here, and thinking I have not met you yet! I am glad that you stopped by today and shared. I am sorry you are in so much pain! I hope that you keep coming here, and sharing,and that you can find hope. Because none of us deserved this treatment. I am 50 myself, and though I have known for many years, things were amiss, this is the first year I can say that I feel there is a way to deal with this, process it all, and hope for a different life, a better life. I think I am just beginning the healing process, and I pray that you will find some healing here as well. It is good that you reached out and let us know how you are feeling. You are not alone! Please keep in touch here.


Hi Cheeky Sprite
Welcome to emerging from broken
I know how you feel, I felt that way myself but it was through this healing process that I healed from the damage and found out who I was and found a purpose in life. I had to hear myself and validate that I had a reason to be heard. There is so much support here and so much insight and solution so I am glad that you have found this site.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi, thank you for your kind words.
Where do I start? No one seems to want to help or understand me. I wrote recently to a mindful therapist and haven’t had a reply. I sleep to escape and I get told to try harder but my iron gets low sometimes and that doesn’t help either. My son kept me going but now he’s all grown up and doesn’t need me as much. I don’t have a daily routine and when I try to make myself have one it doesn’t last because of the bad days, of which there are a lot of lately. I was made redundant last November and the depression is getting worse. I’m finding it hard to think of a reason to get out of bed these days. I’m sorry it’s been a bad day . .


Cheeky sprite,

I’m sorry you’re feeling so low. I still have my low times too … But, they’re getting to be farther apart, it seems. Just remember – it’s ok to take care of yourself. Just because your boy is grown doesn’t mean you are now of less value. Being a mom is SUCH an important job. You’re still a mom, your role with him has just changed a little. But, at the same time, I know there is more to ‘cheeky sprite’ than motherhood. That’s a good thing.

When it comes to taking care of yourself emotionally … It’s a hard – eye opening – process. And it can leave you feeling so emotionally raw. But, I’ve noticed – after fighting through the urge to run away from this work – it’s getting better. I’ve been writing down thoughts lately – if I have some realization about a memory and want to delve into it … but, if I’m feeling rushed or particularly low at that moment, I’ll jot down a brief note about it on my phone, then save it for my ‘meditation time’ later.

Not sure if that helps … I hope your day gets better …



Cheeky Sprite
It might be a good idea to try a different therapist if the first one didn’t respond or call your local health department for assistance if your depression is getting worse. It is very important that you have some support if you are to the point that you are having trouble getting out of bed.
There are over 350 articles in this site about how I started, the way I dug down to the truth and the way that I rebuilt the foundation of my life. You could start by reading the old posts here; I am sure that you will find a lot of info that will help you get started thinking through a new grid.
Hugs, Darlene


I am so amazed at how the previous “comments” by all of you could be my story with a little tweak here and there. The idea of spying on your children instead of talking/communicating with them. My Mfigure was a barger too. Always trying to “catch’ you enjoying your life! Snooping – she was an expert. We used to set up little booby-traps so we would know where she’d been. Thinking back – we did not have anything to hide but did not like the invasion of privacy. Maybe one time out of fifty (50) i HAD A BARGE COMING TO ME hAHA.

The thing about the sick feeling around 4:00 pm every day is something that has finally healed in me. My brother and I used to ask each other about getting sick about 4:30 on the weekdays because “here they come”!
(Boswellia has also helped me with emotional eating) My siblings and I felt sorrow for our parents that they hated their jobs and life so much – we all tried to fix them or help them. My parents did not drink but they both raged and threw things and slammed around. Staccato footsteps I get that – also hearing barging footsteps in gravel – I’m still working on that one…hugs to all of you… tam

We had a long house and my brother and I would go outside the front sliding door q u i e t l y and sneak in the back door to get to the kitchen with out alerting D or M so we would not be put to a task in that moment. We could never escape hard labor but we could postpone it!

I always wanted children but did not ever have any. I am so proud of you daughters and sons of Narcissistic parents who have broken the cycle with your own children. When I read your stories I am flooded with compassion, empathy and I must say Love for you unknown Sisters and Brothers of destructive upbringings….


Hi Tamara,
Wow, I read your post with great interest, because for as far back as I could remember, I too, used to hit a very low point around 4.30.pm. Every weekday, at that time, I woud start to feel anxious and depressed. This would last for approx. one and a half to two hours. I could never put my finger on why this happened. It was only a couple of years ago that I made the connection. This was the time I would come home from school to be met with God knows what. Sometimes Mom would be in a good mood, but mostly she would be either raging over something, or giving me the ‘silent treatment’. This unpredictability was extemely stressful. I didnt feel at all welcome when I arrived home. I felt so envious of friends who would go home to happy houses and moms who were pleased to see them, and wanted to know how their day had gone. I dont remember one single occasion when my mother asked me how I was feeling or what had I been doing at school, etc. That would have meant that she had to see me as a person in my own right and not just an extension of her. Isnt it amazing and also validating, that most of us here have had such similar experiences?
Love, Sylvia x


Hi Tamara
This is such a great discovery when we realize why a certain time of day is difficult. I had some anxiety around that same time and to this day I feel different on weekends about “time” and the “self help books” say it has something to do with needing a healthy snack or some such thing.. I bought that explaination for a very long time. I think that MANY people have a time of day when scary parents came home from work that left a reaction pattern on the child. No wonder the “healthy snack” never helped! LOL
Thank you so much for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everone!
My New post is published ~
This one is about HOW a child becomes regarded or comes to regard self as “the black sheep of the family” and the two fold purpose that abusers/controllers have for painting them that way.
You can read it here: http://emergingfrombroken.com/how-children-become-the-black-sheep-of-the-family/
Hugs, Darlene


Once again this resonates quite well and it took letting go of my mother and entire family to see the extent and depth of damage. My relationship with my mother has always been sick, my mother though suffers from schizophrenia, used me not just as a daughter, but really wanted me to give her the love, affection and whatever else that her estranged mother never could. and of course i took all the responsibility because after all my mother was this fractured woman-child who needed me and who was i to need love in the same way. Not only was I her caretaker but became her lifeline, her therapist or her priest. she would find it most easy to deliver her personal demons to me whether I wanted to or not citing ‘if I dont tell you, you will not know’. If only I could do the same with her. to this day, I have convinced myself (or rather have been convinced) that I will never have a family and could never allow myself to give the way that I had to all those years.


Hi Akusua
I think that is what my mother wanted too; she wanted me to give her what was missing in her own life. She didn’t realize that she had to teach love before love could be reflected back to her.
Understanding love and what love is and isn’t has been one of the biggest keys for me, even in the way that I parent my own children.
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Wow, where do I start??? I was molested by the next door neighbor at age 9 and didn’t tell my mother cause I knew she wouldn’t believe me. So I suffered alone. Turns out I was right. When I finally opened up when I was 45 her comment was “What’s there not to believe?” Before you think that’s a positive, think again. She barely took a breath before adding “We can’t tell your father cause he’ll kill the wife” The molester died years ago but she would rather defend Dad than give me emotional support. The kicker was 7 years later I sat both of them down and told Dad. Poor guy looked like he was kicked in the gut. MOM LIED. She said *I* told her to not tell him!! Mom can’t hurt for me and feels worse for Dad. I’ve always been the one to stand up for my two sisters when Dad was chasing us in a drunken rage. I was the one to point out that Dad has issues, only to be told that I’m over sensitive and to ‘let it go’. SO FRUSTRATING. So I grew up feeling like there was something wrong with me and that I didn’t count. My counselor told me years ago that I have the lowest self esteem he’s ever seen. I’m working very hard to be there for my two kids. I admit when I’m wrong and give them the opportunity to be angry with me and point out how I’ve hurt them. I then apologize and we move on and have a close relationship. I’ll never have that with my mother. Not sure if she can’t or won’t.


IT took 48 years before I saw the person my mother was.
How she controlled me through guilt.
The day the penny finally dropped it was like my hearing had just been turned on. When I did hear her words they were like Tsunami waves of guilt crushing over me. I could not believe what I was hearing. When I questioned her in that moment, she denied outright saying anything at all. Only to then say something else even worst. I told her I did not want to be around her any more that things were going to change. I had suffered clinical depression and had been seeing a counsellor for a year. I had been suicidal had reached bottom and the experience had changed me. It was tough,but it was a punctuation mark. I did not have to live as I had, from that moment onwards things were going to be different, the people who could accept the change would be taken forward. The following week she phoned me screaming more words to induce guilt. The next day she tried to make me feel ashamed.The next it was how would I feel if my Daughter treated me as I had her. It continued like this for the week her phoning each night screaming at the phone,then hanging up. The Saturday she phoned me to tell me that she had forgiven me, “Classic!”Then she said there was nothing wrong with her “Afterall Colin you are the one with the mental health issue”, that still generates a laugh even now. I calmly replied that I no longer wished contact with her. I wanted to be left alone. At this point she broke down, it was if I had peeled an onion it was like listening to a very damaged child. I was so shocked to realise that this is what I had allowed myself to be controlled by. Five weeks later she died.
I went into the counselling session feeling so guilty until I realised I felt guilty because I did not feel guilty. I went to her home I went through every room I needed to know that she really was gone. It took me two years to start the grieving my anger just burned I felt it so intensely slowly and with help i came to realise that I was angry at myself for how I had allowed myself to be treated.


Colin, your posting could not be more timely! I’m going through a very similar situation with my own mother. I’m 46 years old, I’ve suffered from a major depressive episode for at least the last year and have struggled so much with guilt and shame. I don’t know how my journey will end but I hope that things come out well.

Counselling is proving to be way more difficult than I have anticipated. I often come out feeling more powerless and “defective” is that part of the process to go even lower before you begin to turn around?

I’ve simply been avoiding my family because I just don’t have the strength to deal with them and the toxic dynamic. I hope I have the strength to see it through.

Thank you so much for your post, I feel less alone!


Hi Victoria,
I was once told that the journey to self-discover would take the rest of my life. I now realise I never had a relationship with myself.

Counselling is not easy, in the begining its the realisation of just how much of ourselves we have surendered and then it hits home the magnitude of the task at hand. Along the way there will be very real moments of pure joy to inspire you forward. Two years in I still find Counselling to be one step forward two steps back.


Hi Victoria,
I was once told that the journey to self-discovery would take the rest of my life. I now realise I never had a relationship with myself.

Counselling is not easy, in the begining its the realisation of just how much of ourselves we have surendered and then it hits home the magnitude of the task at hand. Along the way there will be very real moments of pure joy to inspire you forward. Two years in I still find Counselling to be one step forward two steps back.


May I ask a question, Darlene? I recently went no-contact with my mother (not the first time I’ve done this). She managed to wiggle back in last time. My mother has no interest in me whatsoever. I am a virtual stranger to the woman. Why do these women resist losing contact with their daughters? Can you say something about this? Is it the loss of control? Sometimes I think she doesn’t want an estranged daughter simply because it would be embarrassing.


Hi Teresa
This is such a huge question! In a nut shell, (I have written about this before too) it isn’t just about having control but that is a big part of it but it how having control makes them feel that is the bigger part of it. It is about how they get thier self esteem. I call it “getting their order restored”. Part of it is about what other people will think too as you mentioned.
Hugs, Darlene


I stumbled across this site and am enjoying my coffee while reading through the posts. Many parts of many of the stories resonate with my own. My mother was my tormentor, but I also had a stepdad who was weak and unable to protect any of us (even those children — my half siblings – in our household who were his by blood). It’s interesting as we have fast forwarded 40 years to see that the new abuser was the half-sister I had always protected growing up. It’s come to the point now where my mother has died, yet in the years leading up to that my half-sister has taken her place. Overweight, divorced, utterly angry and mean, she feels the world owes her everything. Truth is, everyone in our family of origin is deeeply dysfunctional in some way or another. Years of therapy has helped me deal with co-dependency and boundaries (my major issue — caretaking and difficulty setting boundaries and making them stick). I’m now in no contact with the half-sister after she totally trashed and moved out of a house I was renting her. I was glad to have it back, however, since she would have let it just fall down around her rather than maintain it. She was already using the backyard as a bathroom because she had let the bathroom decline to where she — finally — was embarrassed by it. (But not motivated enought to fix it – that’s my job.) Basically, she lived like a savage and it showed. At the same time, she claimed she was doing so much and is a “bad-ass single mom”, but drinks like a fish and lived in a pig stye. I believe that in her private thoughts, she often wonders why she is alone. Nonetheless, she always maintained — not on the surface, but underneath the thin veneer of her “bad-ass single mother, doing it all alone” persona — it was my responsibility to help her. But if I were to confront her with this, she would deny it. Truth is, she receives steady child support and has a job (albeit not the best payingm, but she does have health benefits and a retirement plan). That said, literally thousands and thousands of dollars in extra subsidy to her from me, and help with a home, and she grafittis the interior and defaced completely in black spray paint a beautiful tree in the backyard (those are just some of the things she’s done there). She has no friends (although friendships are difficult for me as well), but is particularly adept at be-friending mine and the spouses/significant others of other women and keeping those, while alienating the source person for these “new” friends of hers. No contact is the route for me (second time in the last few years); I can neither caretake nor tolerate her any longer. She’s mean and abusive and jealous; but, most of all her personality is marked by pettiness and revenge. It’s sad that my family has broken down to the point where she and I are the only ones left, but I really feel ready to let this person go. It’s really time for me to live my life and I’ve realized that the goodness in my that’s bound to family is not appreciated and it’s just a form of co-dependency and enabling that I really thought I had under control through therapy. I suppose the real question is whether or not I can maintain a level of peace without these types of relationships active in my own life.


Hi Anne
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
This is a very good presentation of the cycle of abuse that we are talking about. Victims of abusive and dysfunctional family become abusers. And so many siblings or half siblings (sometimes even cousins) believe that we need to try to help them or fix them all in the name of family. I had to re think about what family really was. Was I obligated to take that kind of disrespect? No. “family” are not exempt from the the true meaning of love and we all deserve to be respected. I had to make a lot of these types of decisions and it was a lonely time when so many people were not interested in meeting me half way ~as if to say “oh no YOU are not worth the effort” but I had to assure myself that I was worth MY effort to me. I look back and do not see any alternative to the actions that I finally took on my behalf unless I went along with the trash treatment that I was receiving from my family. Looking back I also see that in reality, they did not accept or even consider my request for mutual respect and therefore it is them who walked away from me and not the other way around.
Glad you are here
Hugs, Darlene


Disconnecting and detaching from toxic family members is not for woosies :).. bring it on..:) I am done.. I feel sick and guilty but happy joyous and free… all of my friendships have suffered because of my depression but I am dealing with it head on and looking forward to trying again to have successful friendships based on mutual support NOT codependence. life is good. thanks for this website.


for years my sister has excluded me and emotionally taken over my social connections.. i am done with her but I am not angry … i am peaceful. it is good. it is very good. i’m free.


she is not talking to me because i set a serious boundary with her and her family.. but there is no loss because i finally internalized that there was nothing there to begin with… i’m finally 100% on my OWN side.. life is good. loving will be easier – it already is…


Hi Em
Welcome to EFB
🙂 yes.. this work is not for the timid! Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


I was told by my counsellor that if my mother ever sensed that she was losing her power or grip over me that she would re-assert herself over me.
Historically I had only said No to my mother three times in 50 years.

I had an emotionally abusive relationship with my mother for 50 years it ended 5 weeks before she died. I ended the relationship due to its consequences,my clinical depression. I climbed out of that pit and learned that I had to be responsible for myself, That I could never allow myself to spirraall into the pit again. Which meant there had to be boundaries. A line drawn, a line I would not allow to be crossed,that i would defend.

Now I have some clarity, see the relationship for what it was co-dendent.

Co-dependency is all about a lack of healthy boundaries, they parents or whoever can only put their responsibilities onto us because they lack any sense of what a healthy boundary is.

In my case my mother turned to me when I was five yrs old, very damaging. Destroy’s a childs frame of reference, their sense of self.
I was never
accepted as an individual, with my own thoughts, emotions, values, beliefs. Basically my mother colonised me stripped out any sense of self-belief that I had.
My mother was consumed by her own feelings, her own emotional world. Was incapable of coping emotionally.

I found it very helpful to discover my values, hard work a lot of dedication.
What I now realise is values, beliefs a frame of reference get in the way of the co-dependent parent.
Unlike a healthy relationship between parent and child where the child is encouraged to grow a sense of who they are, what they like, to define their values, beliefs. Accepted unconditionally, valued unconditionally. To love the separate unique individual that child is.

People ask why the family or whoever keep coming back.
They can only come back because we allow them to.
What is healthier is to mourn the loss of that relationship, the mother the father, the sister, brother, wife, husband who ever it is.
In my case,the mother I always wanted her to be, the loving nurturing mother. That is what keeps the door open. We have to accept the loss and grieve.

I was told that i had to accept the past, let it go.
The thing is we are the victim we paid the price. View ourselves as the victim. To accept our past hurt we have to step away from being the abused and become a survivor. Find a new sense of self, a new frame of reference.


When we are not valued.Not listened to. Not accepted for the unqiue individual we are. Are treated as if we are invisible. When we are made to feel small. Our feelings disregarded. That we are unimportant.
We get angry. Anger is natural, god given emotion. When that anger is not expressed turned inwards it becomes depression.

Anger is just an indication that something is wrong and we ignore it at our own peril.

We all have to define our own boundaries. for me after 50 yrs it was to cease all contact. I knew she could not change but, something in me had.


Hi Colin
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, these comments are really insightful. This process is about realizing that stuff and sometimes it takes a bit of time to see the unhealthy stuff in the first place. Finding out “WHY” we allow them to come back is often the key in being able to draw those lines. For me I had to come out of the fog enough to even see that I was not valued OR treated like an individual. I had to see that I was put down and that I lived under my own expectation to fill their expectations. I had to realize that my depressions and unhealthy coping methods actually had their roots in supressed anger and emotional pain, the pain of being rejected and unprotected.
Thank you for your share. I love the definitions about co-dependancy.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

For me it was always about “WHY.”

Asking myself “WHY.” Questioning my mothers version of reality which she presented as ‘the only’ acceptable one. kept me ‘sane,’ I spent a lot of the time trying to fathom out how I could be wrong. Ok my thoughts may have been different but, not unacceptable. How CAN an emotion that I feel that is a reflection of how I am feeling in this present moment be wrong,unacceptable. It was about stripping out anothers sense of self-knowing of causing me to doubt myself, to question what I knew to be true of myself.

I have just realised that is what kept me off balance, that I was consumed by “WHY.”

Why is all about our trying to make sense of what we experience.
So of course we will try and make sense of how we are mistreated.

To question why we are treated as we are, ‘IF’ we are loved as they say we are, then why are we not loved for who we are?

To maintain, stroke control the relationship my mother used manipulation to get her needs met.

Why after all the years of no boundaries, which cannot be put in place by them. Because they would be required as the parent to instil them. That their behaviour is the legacy of the damage done in their own childhoods.
Why are we surprised that we keep allowing them into our lives, why they KEEP returning?

What we do is set a boundary.

After we have accepted. Grieved the loss of the parent we needed but never had, accept they don’t exist. that what we always wanted in our lives does not exist in reality. We are then free, They become powerless over us.

WE ACCEPT that we shall never get what we have always wanted and needed from them. We accept that they will never be what we need them to be


Hi Darlene

I am discovering that I’ve often told highly personal information about myself to people I hardly know. I took this as just being “open” or honest with others. The idea of being guarded is right now alien to me. I’ve also noticed other survivors communicate like this. I got to talking to a local bus driver a few months ago, and very soon into our chats at the gym he was telling me about his child abuse, and his father being arrested for fraud. At the time I thought he liked me, and was telling these things as a test to see if I would still “accept” him somehow.

I was taught that I wasn’t separate from The Family. The Family was our and my identity. And what was The Family anyway, if I think of it? Mom and Dad and their issues. Me and my sister never got our own rooms or our own beds. The 3rd bedroom we had was for Dad’s medications, food, porn mags, and you could barely walk in it, it was full, crowded with bags on the floor. The boundaries that were set were to protect my parent’s privacy only.

If I spoke contrary to what they said, I was wrong and bad and a problem. It was never tolerated. Mom regularly looked in our bedroom drawers, she was the mother, she could do that. I was called weak and the one time my ex met my Dad, a month before Dad died, Dad said, “I’m so glad you’ll be able to take care of her”.

So I was taught for years I was not an individual and, that I needed protection from my own self. And also, that I was to serve, to be useful. Me and my sister never were first.

I’ve had a friend for over a year now with many fine qualities, but who also has a habit of over-talking me–oftentimes with a totally different topic. I bit my tongue for so long, afraid to speak up, and I am still afraid. I did mention it to her a couple of times though, in the past. Yesterday I saw her for the first time since I blew up at her in July over interrupting me again. She made an excuse for herself, and I realized, this is not something that will likely change. So I wrote her a letter today and mailed it, saying how I felt, that I needed to be heard and basically, I’m parting ways. It’s become a deal-breaker for me. I’m tired of being the perpetual listener, docile, and overrun by someone’s words. It’s not the same as telling her in person, or on the phone, in real time, but it’s a step that I would not have taken a few months ago. Something in me just can’t abide it anymore. She was the only female friend I had.

I’ve also decided to not go to my sister’s for Christmas if she doesn’t address my issues about being avoided when on her turf. It’s the third time I’ve brought it up. If I go there at Christmas with this unaddressed I’ll be giving the message that my feelings don’t count, you can do what you want and I’ll accomodate it, and you can just ignore my icky touchy-feely email about it. If I go, MY actions will say, you can disregard me, and I don’t have boundaries, and you can disregard anything from me that makes you uncomfortable.


Hi Colin
These comment are so excellent! I came to all these conclusions too and I have written articles about the way that I was so hooked on the why questions! You have articulated this so well!
Thank you for sharing again!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Doren
great work! Very nice insights and I can see a change in the way you are processing this stuff already just in this past few days! Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you Darlene that means a lot! Bless your soul for caring so much…

I’m guessing this is what the real work is, taking it to action and making those very uncomfortable self-affirming changes relating to others.

Assertiveness is extremely difficult for me. Real fear of speaking up to people unless I reach the point of snapping. I’ve been thinking, “Why are other people’s feelings more important than mine? Why do I try to please them so much and ‘make’ them like me?”

Because I feel if they don’t like me, I am unlikeable. They can ‘see’ my worth, determine it with x-ray eyes. So why did I get that way? I learned it was futile to assert myself at home, I would always be unheard, or wrong (if contrary to them) or shot down or pathologized for speaking up. It caused so much trouble and hurt that I kept so much in. I catch myself not telling people things because I think they won’t care. So I learned I had no power.

But I do have power, and the hard work is in speaking up, in protecting myself and not letting things slide anymore, cause that shows myself disrespect. But this is the really sucky sucky part for me. I hope one day it gets easier.



I was married to a verbally and emotionally abusive man for 18 years. By accident, I stumbled across the book on Boundaries. I sat there and cried reading that I had the right not to be treated abusively.

Since I was sexually abused as a child, I found it extremely difficult to say no to anyone – especially to my husband. Perhaps part of me thought I deserved it, but I internalized so much of what he said to me, I was pretty much a broken wreck inside.

Finally, after taking the book to a counselor and shoving it at her saying asking if this was true, I tried to learn to set them. In my case, however, setting boundaries with my husband enraged him even further. He blamed my counselor for destroying our marriage, and he still refused to respect the boundaries I desperately tried to set.

In the end, I finally left, but it took some doing. Learning to set boundaries is a huge challenge. It’s enlightening, but frightening at the same time. When you are so emotionally beaten down, it’s hard to open your mouth and say no. However, even if you can’t say no, the knowledge of knowing you have to the right to, is somehow comforting. One day, you finally do it, rather than think about it.


I had a big issue with seeking the validation of others.

I had to end a friendship with a good mate of mine,because I realised that my friendship with him was the same as the one between me and my mother.

That I wanted him to validate me. the problem for me is that when I do recieve the validation of others I feel so good about myself, I am like a junky on a high, but then that all comes crushing down when we do not recieve it.

What happens is that we allow others to have power over us annd they will use it mercylessly.


In a normal relationship (?) the child is LOVED for who and the what they are, for all of what makes them an individual, their differences. These are accepted and loved by the parent and the parent loves the child unconditionally.

Now that unconditional love from the parent is transformed by the child into their own positive regard,love, for themselves.

The child learns from this, is secure in their inner self-knowing that they are loved and are loved by themselves, secure in that sense of self.


YES YES YES! This is the fog clearing stuff for sure! This part takes time to set in so don’t push yourself too hard ~ for me I spent some time coming out of the fog and getting to know me for a while and that was part of how it got easier. The more I validated myself, the more I knew how to respond to other people. That is ‘the process!”
thank you for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Vicki
Welcome to emerging from broken.
It is very typical for an abuser to become angry when we try to change, set boundaries or stick up for ourselves in any way at all. And they will blame everyone else because they never want to look to themselves and they believe that relationship is up to the other person to maintain.

It was huge for me to learn that I had any rights. That was the beginning for me. I was stunned when I came out of the fog and realized that I didn’t regard myself as equal to others. ( I thought I did!) and that I didn’t know I had rights! So finding out I had rights, as you say here, was a huge beginning!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Can you comment at all about Em’s issue (and mine) where a sister takes over social contacts (my sister remains friends with some of my friends I have had to separate from)? In reading Em’s posts, it appears she and I share much in our respective families of origin on this point. If you know, what is this “phenomenon” whereby a sibling gloms onto one’s friends? Like Em, I have very few friends; and, when I have a falling out with them my sister retains them. (One of my friends kept persisting in being friends with me, after socializing at my home where my sister was present, AND my sister. She kept triangulating us… and at one point I told her that it was difficult to be around my sister and if she kept inviting her to this and that, that was fine with me but likely I wouldn’t go. She’d invite my sister to things, my sister would ignore her, and my friend would ask me what to do about being ignored. I told my friend, “I cannot parent my sister, we have had conflict over that, the best thing to do if you get no response is to move on.” But she kept bringing these issues to me (i.e. her being ignored.) When my friend and I had out falling out, among my complaints was my displeasure that she had poor boundaries by bringing to me her issues with my sister when I gave her a perfectly adequate reason why I couldn’t be involved. My friend and I tried to maintain our friendship, but I told her it would be tricky, given she was still in contact with my sister and I really wanted to separate from my sister…and wanted to BEFORE having conflicts with my now former friend. At the time, my now former friend said “What, your afraid I’m going to STEAL your sister?” (It seems I attract only needy and boundariesless friends…I think that says more about me than them, however.) In any event, back to my sister: she doesn’t just do this to me: once, a friend of hers — 30yrs + — told her “oh my, you are friends with my ex-huband on FB!” My sister said “Uh, really? I didn’t know.” (She readily told me “I DID know but I just played it off.” Now that friend of hers is no longer, but my sister remains friends with her ex. What gives? Arrested development? Immaturity? I’m not so interested in rehashing my sister’s (or my former friend’s!) and my conflicts about this, just wondering if this all of this posturing is normal and where it comes from psychologically. Until reading Em’s post, I thought I was alone.


Thanks Darlene so much for your encouragement! Wow….really means a lot 🙂

I wrote down on a paper what I last posted and what your response was and have it on my wall. I find writing about different childhood issues and keeping them in a binder helpful. My therapist gave me a binder with teddy bears on it 🙂 Sometimes I put stickers on the pages…inner child stuff.

I’m learning that I have to listen to my gut about people. That’s the truth spot, and my brain has often overrode it’s messages.

The friend that I just wrote a letter to saying goodbye, like many people has many fine qualities aside from what disturbs me about her. She has helped me a lot, does a kind of new age healing work with touch, incense etc and I loved her sessions. So I swallowed what bothered me. But the overtalking me repeatedly could not be tolerated anymore. It was very rude and blatant and often I wondered, “Did you not just hear me speaking?” One time visiting her I was talking about an upsetting day where someone I barely know stopped and asked if I was ok. I said to her, “He saw me crying and…” CAN YOU PASS ME THAT PLANT? she says.
My ingrained response to stuff like this is to get quieter and quieter, retreat within. And it’s out of fear.

Now I’m at the point where I can say (to myself), “You’re a nice lady in some ways, but ya gotta go”. I’m strong enough for that step now, although I feel guilty, yes, but that’s to be expected, it’s my conditioning that I’m only now challenging. Like you say, this takes a lot of time. The real tell when I saw her the other day was the excuse she made for her interrupting me in July. She’s a Buddhist and talks a lot about lofty things and she talks very cerebrally, but there’s a lot of ego there if you can’t say, “I’m sorry”.

Now I’m starting to think of why I’ve allowed certain people in my life in the first place. And this has to be understood in my mind as, repeating patterns.

The obvious connection me and this friend had was in our common demeanor and spiritual interests. But digging deeper, I see that she was actually a dominant personality, and emotionally detached. She was intentionally enigmatic about her childhood, revealing little, like my parents never did, and also they were detached. She had left her children for 7 years to move cross country and rationalized that they had their father, and couldn’t understand why her children were alienated from her today. My mother regularly threatened to leave on her own. Everything was so detached, just like with my mom and dad. She is materialistic, like my mom and dad. Once called to remind me of my ‘responsibility’ to pay her back the $2.25 I owed cause she paid for earrings that I liked on sale. INCLUDED THE TAX like my Dad.

I was biting my tongue and angrily tolerating the same issues I lived with at home, some of the same messages (but not til now recognizing this, making the connection): “things and money mean more than relationship, what you have to say isn’t as important was what I have to say”, the emotional disconnect. My parents knew everything best, being parents. This friend often acted like a spiritual elder. Once I expressed regret for missing a talk a visiting lama gave in town, which she went to. “It probably would have went over your head”, she said. Calling me a “baby bird”, it reminded me of the “weak” dependent message from long ago.

I do believe people come into our lives in part to test us on issues. Now I will pay close attention to the qualities of people I feel drawn to, and why I do…am I seeking a mutually respectful and affirming connection, or am I settling for a replay of the past to ‘confirm’ what I was taught about myself, to keep this brainwashed ‘truth’ alive? It’s been easier to keep the lies alive then to challenge them in icky scary ways, but I understand I just wasn’t ready before, wasn’t so aware. Getting out of that comfort zone is very difficult.



Butifly, your last comment offended me. I am suffering from BPD and I am trying to heal. Not all BPD are evil with their children. I have a great relationship with my two boys. Coming from abuse I know the do’s and the don’t’s. My mental illnesses have roots. BPD still has a lot of stigma. I


Hi Anne and Em
I can share that all of this kind of thing straightened out for me as I went through my healing process and did the re-programing work with my own belief system. I saw so much dysfunction as I did this work, so much relationship that didn’t work and I saw why I was so sucked into it. The more I learned self care and self love by unlearning the false definitions of love etc. the more I was able to see how to stand up to this kind of thing in relationship to either draw boundaries that were respected OR to remove myself from it. I hope this helps. It is a huge question to answer.
Hugs, Darlene


I never knew about boundaries period.

I am working hard on being an ex-people pleaser. This fault has put me in some pretty bad situations. I’ve always put other’s first, even if it meant puting my life on hold and giving so much of myself that I got sick and couldn’t work, I didn’t get it. I thought if I was good to other’s they in turn would be there for me. Mistake..I not only gave my energy but spent money too, leaving my checking account not looking so good. This made me very resentful, wasting my precious time, energy and money on those who didn’t appreciated me. Sad part is I wanted people to like me, so I would do whatever it took to make this happen, well it doesn’t work that way.

The message my put in my head was that I wasn’t a good girl unless I did for other’s and put them first. Appearances are everything and we need people to see how giving and kind we are. Although, they forgot to tell me how exhausting this would be, yet to this day, they don’t follow their own rules. I guess they were only meant for me.

I work on this everyday trying to master what other’s do so easily and that’s put my own needs first.

Will I ever get to that place, I hope so. So, I started with my niece whom I love with all my heart. Since she was a baby I’ve spoiled her. But I began to see a pattern with her, each time we would go shopping there would be no thank you afterward. Later in the evening she would ignore me and say nothing, this really hurt, but after some soul searching I realized that when she got what she wanted she was done with me literally. That is until the next time. This behavior happened many times, till one day I said enough.

Now days if her birthday comes up I either call her or just send a card. I feel no resentment at all in my decision.

I have high hopes of getting what boundaries really mean and making them stick.


Hi Cathy
I realized so much of this in my own life and patterns with people. Something that really helped me a lot was looking at the definitions of words like love, relationship, respect etc. I had the definitions all wrong! Love isn’t getting gifts or giving gifts. My mother wanted me to ‘do things’ to prove I loved her and when I didn’t want to there was punishment. When I saw that the relationship we had was nothing to do with mutual love or respect and that the rules didn’t apply to her the way they applied to me, I was able to get stronger. That truth is the truth that I was able to build my stronger foundation on! I was able to see the ‘funkyness’ of the way our relationship worked for her. (and this is true for almost all the relationships that I had back then)
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


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[…] By Darlene Ouimet: Why Setting Personal Boundaries is Not as Easy as it Sounds […]


Wow, it is still hard to stick up for myself. Yesterday evening I was treated rudely during a phone call from a woman at my doctor’s office. Not only was she rude, but she was unhelpful in resolving an issue concerning my daughter. She cut me off when I was trying to explain something , and was unwilling to explore how we could solve an out of the ordinary problem.
This morning I went to the medical office and asked for the office manager. I explained what happened and she helped me yo resolve the matter. In additional I let her know that the woman I spoke to last night was not only rude, but did nothing constructive to help solve the problem, nor did she offer to refer the problem yo someone else there who could handle it.
Darlene, I feel proud that I spoke up, and also got the issue resolved. But why does my voice tremble and my heart beats rapidly when I do this? Will I ever be able to speak up with confidence and not sound nervous? And it feels strange to me when I’m speaking up, almost as if Im doing something wrong. Is this guilt from my childhood days because I was raised not to challenge abusive people? These are the questions going through my mind tonight while I deal with feelings if being proud that I spoke up, but at the same time there the feeling that I am “out of line” because Im doing it.


It is very easy to allow our pasts to overwhelm our present. I had always tried to make sense of my past. For 50 years I had got very caught up with asking why! How I could be told I was loved yet be treated badly. I recently experienced clinical depression which resulted in my being sectioned. Today I believe my clinical depression was inevitable, due to what I had experienced as a child and continued to experience. If I had not been so resilient, stopped coping, I would have been helped sooner. I see my clinical depression as the punctuation mark in my life, a big full stop.
I tried forgiveness for many years. Forgiveness for the sake of forgiving is the road block to our recovery. There are many reasons for going down the forgiveness path, but they don’t lead to recovery. I was treated badly and I have the god given right to be angry about it and toward those who treated me badly. Part of our recovery is anger, nothing wrong with anger. Our anger is telling us something is very wrong. The point is I cannot do the required work get angry with those who treated me badly if I have already forgiven them, I believe confrontation with those who have treated us badly is a big must do, but we cannot if we have already forgiven them from the outset. No place exists where we can embrace both, neither can exist together. I am not saying there is no place for forgiveness. BUT I, we have to do the work first. Having come to terms with what we have gone through we can then decide whether to forgive or not. And I am sorry but there are some things which cannot be forgiven.
My forgiveness was about copping out and maintaining the status quo. In not taking responsibility. Forgiveness allowed me to maintain the relationship with my abuser. I still desperately wanted their love, still had the validation and acceptance monkey on my back. There is a lot of abuse carried out in the name of love. I know my abuser loved me, they always told me. What I had to do was accept my inner self knowing, the truth hidden but ultimately known. Which is, this is not love and they are incapable of giving love. Once I had accepted this truth, pulled the hook of love out. I understood the motivation behind my continual seeking of validation and acceptance. Their love was conditional on my meeting of their needs, other than I had no use to them, I was invisible.
I was told very early on in counselling I had zero boundaries. What I had experienced as a child could only take place in an environment of zero boundaries. The abuse I experienced did a lot of damage totally destroyed my sense of Self. Growing up I struggled to make sense of my world. I was constantly told it was unacceptable to have thoughts or emotions which were at odds to my abuser. I was never to express anger or say no. Basically I came to believe I was wrong, lost the trust in myself, the intuitive self-knowing. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since.
A big hurdle to my recovery has been my old coping mechanism, distraction/disassociation which allowed me to survive my childhood. But today is very frustrating. I now realise the disassociation and anxiety go together. I distract myself from problems then when I try to act I am consumed by anxiety. I am working on trying to stop the over thinking and listen to my inner self more.
Something I was recently struggling with was how do I bring about change. A lot of what I do is habit, like the overthinking, not being as responsible with myself as I should be and letting anxiety take me over.
With boundaries for me they do not feel like they are concrete but I know that unless I take the responsibility to always stand up for myself I will get treated badly. I have struggled with How I put something in place that has not existed before? I have now decided to do something different I now work on the premise that I do have healthy boundaries. It’s the same with making decisions it feels extremely uncomfortable to express what I want, feels very threatening to the old conditioning. You would not believe the struggles I have to just express what I want. Theres a lot of overthinking and I tended to dismiss feelings. I am trying to be more open to listening to the intuitive self


Hi Amber
It was awesome to read your post! Good for you!
To answer your question ~ My heart beat exactly like that (adrenalin rush) when I first started to stand up for myself and I know I sounded nervous, but the more I did it, the more confidence I got. I did a lot of work on seeing WHY I was so nervous etc. and it was all connected to the fear of getting the results that I got in childhood ~ (if I had of stood up for myself the consequences would have been devastating) and I had to keep reminding myself that I can protect myself today as an adult. So yes… the root of it is always in childhood or the result of a traumatic exp. even in adulthood. You are NOT out of line. I always examine the truth and go by that.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Colin
Welcome to EFB ~ I understand what you are sharing. It takes time to set in place the confidence and boundaries that were never set in place. We should have been raised to have healthy boundaries but we were not. Confidence comes from being loved and valued as an individual. When those things are not given to us in childhood, we have to find a way to give them to ourselves. ~ that is what EFB is all about.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, thanks, getting your feedback and validation was very helpful. I noticed that I have no trouble speaking up now when it has to do with THINGS, such as getting a meal at a restaurant that is cold or returning a defective item to a store. (I used to have trouble doing those things. ). Now, it is when it involves PEOPLE, especially when it involves their behavior or ill treatment of me that I get all nervous and trembly if I need to speak up. Yes, it does come from a fear of getting results I got in childhood. I would have gotten smacked, verbally torn down, silent treatment and other punishments if I dared to criticize my parents behavior. But it extends into adulthood too. I have had people become verbally vicious, and spread malicious gossip when I confronted them in adulthood. It doesn’t happen often, but I did experience it once in my neighborhood and once at work. I think that the fear of that happening again gets in my way. This is an area I really need to work on.


Setting boundaries is an area that I still find difficult. I have a woman who watches my daughter one afternoon a week for me. She also does some home health aide work for the elderly. I find that whenever one of her other jobs ends she gets very pushy with me to give her extra hours. The senior she has been taking care of has now gone off to a warmer climate for the winter, and she is putting pressure on me. It’s as though she thinks that I am responsible for making her financial situation better when she doesn’t gave other work. She tries to guilt trip me by telling me that I am currently her only source of income. She also expects “make up” days from me if there is a cancellation but I don’t think she asks his of anyone else.

I told her today that I will give her extra hours if we have somewhere to go and I require her services, but that we are not going to have her come if we have no place to go. She doesn’t seem to get this and still kept on pushing. I feel she us trying to wear me down. Where does she come off trying to burden me with the responsibility of her having no other job? Has anyone else been in a situation like this and how did you handle it when the person kept on pushing?


Hi Amber,

You have asked how to handle a person who keeps pushing for what they want, but while you talk about giving her extra hours you’re allowing yourself to become involved.

I would like to ask you why have you not simply terminated the connection with this person.

Understand what is going on here, this person sees no distinction between themselves and you. The only needs to be met here are hers. Which is the reason why she struggles to hear and accept what you tell her.
The only way to handle her is to be firm and tell her you no longer require her services.


Colin, let me clarify a couple of things. The extra hours I give her are when I have someplace to go so I require her services to watch my daughter. So that is a mutually beneficial situation. I am free to go out and she gets paid to watch my daughter.
What is NOT mutually beneficial is when she asks for extra work at a time when I don’t need her services. The senior she has been watching has gone to a warmer climate for the winter. So this woman is looking for extra work to make up for the money she isn’t getting while her client is away. She is pushing for extra hours from me at a time when I don’t need them so it doesn’t benefit me. I don’t feel that I should be badgered to hire her when I don’t need her just because this other person went away.

She is very good with my daughter who has special needs. She has been employed by me for years and has been a good worker except for this one issue of extra hours. I was hoping that it could be resolved. I think termination would be a last resort if things couldn’t be worked out .


Amber ,
YOu don’t have to clarify anything. 🙂

Colin, please don’t give other people advice about what they should do or shouldn’t do on this site. I wasn’t allowed to think for myself most of my life and taking my life back was about making my own choices and coming to my own conclusions. We can’t possibly know all the situations and details that people are struggling with ~ it is so much more powerful when we just ‘hear them’ and share our own experience. (such as if you were in a similar situation, you could share YOUR story about what it was like for you) There is so much more power in that, than there is in directing someone (or shaming them) about what they should do. 7
I say this with love and hugs,


Hi Amber,
I can understand exactly where you are coming from. You value this ladies service, but dont want to be made responsible for her financial situation, and of course you absoloutley shouldnt be! But knowing that dosent automatically make it easy to resolve. I have been in situations like yours, where you dont want to have to terminate contact with someone, but dont wish to have your boundaries violated either. I had the most dreadful problems with boundary-setting in the past. I believe its because, from a very young age, I was made to feel responsible for the feelings and moods of the adults in the family home. The thing is, children simply dont have the ability to do this, its completely age-innapropriate to expect it of them. I was supposed to intuit how people were feeling, then act accordingly. I was also my mothers “Little Confidante”. She would tell me things that a child simply should not have been privy to. Looking back, I can see that I was expected to act like a grown-up when it suited them, but then revert back to being a child at the drop of a hat, and also to know exactly when to do this. This caused me to become almost chameleon-like as I grew up. I was hypervigilant to the moods of others, and would literally jump through hoops trying to behave in a way that I believed would please whoever on whatever occasion. On reflection, these behaviours were a survival technique, developed to keep me safe from being punished for “not getting it right”. Things have got much better since I started doing a lot of emotional detective work on myself and my upbringing, but I still experience difficulties from time to time. The process of taking your life back is a very rewarding one, but not always easy. I am currently struggling with a boundary issue of my own. About 6 months ago, I started to socialise with a lady, who like me, is divorced. She has now stopped socialising for health reasons, but expects me to listen to her problems over the phone, without being in the slightest interested in my life, or anything I have to say. I am expected to just listen and make sympathetic noises. After her last particularly lengthy bout of wingeing, I asked myself “Whats in this for me?” There is no fun any more, no lighthearted nights out, just me having my ears assaulted with everything from her chest infections to her bowel movements. In the past, I would have thought it selfish to be thinking like this, but not any more. I see my dissatisfaction with the situation as a healthy sign that I am now – at long last – starting to prioritise my own needs. I never asked or agreed to become this womans unpaid therapist/healthcare advsier, and I dont feel that I have known her long enough to be burdened with all this. However, I know that it is reflecting the way I was conditioned in childhood to be all things to all people. Seems like I have more work to do!…..Sylvia x


Darlene, thanks! 🙂 🙂

Sylvia, yes, I do value this woman’s services because she is excellent in dealing with those with special needs. While I empathize with her financial position, I know it is not my responsibility to fix it. I am going to stand firm on my boundary that I will give her the opportunity to have extra hours WHEN I HAVE SOMEPLACE TO GO, but I am not going to get bullied into having her take care of my daughter when I don’t need the services.

Sylvia, my situation growing up had similarities to yours. I was expected to read my mothers moods and act accordingly. I learned to be compliant in order to avoid punishment. And got caught up in the trying harder spin in hopes of getting doggie bones of approval. Yes, this was my survival system and yes, it followed me to adulthood.

I’ve had friendships like the one you described. I’ve backed off a couple of friendships that became one sided. One, I had to do abruptly because the person became very angry when I viewed something fom a different perspective than she did, but I have also eased out slowly by spacing conversations further and further apart. I’m willing to lend a sympathetic ear to someone, and be helpful, but I am no longer willing to become an emotional bank where only withdrawals are made by other people.


Hi Darlene,

It was never my intent to cause shame, or seek justificatican. I apologise for any upset my comments caused.


Hi Colin
Thank you for your apology, I didn’t think that you intended to cause any harm, I just wanted to explain that posting that way sometimes can un-intentionally cause harm.
Thanks! hugs, Darlene


Darlene and Colin, as it turns out there was a lesson in this incident for me. It has made me take a look at why I feel that I have to justify things to people. It has it’s roots in having my thoughts, feelings and actions constantly criticized and questioned and invalidated as a child, and giving an explanation served sometimes as a way of getting out of trouble, and other times as a quest for approval/ validation that I thought I might get if people had a greater understanding of why I did what I did or thought what I thought. Like you Darlene, I was stifled in thinking for myself and making my own decisions. So now I am examining why I am still using this leftover from childhood mechanism.


I grew up in a very simillar enviroment. I was told it was unacceptable to express thoughts and emotions which were at odds to my mothers. Her mantra was, I must never say no to her never express any anger, ironically by the end anger was the only emotion I could freely access and express. From a very early age I was made privy to every thought which passed through my her mind. I was never allowed a choice I had to listen to her. I spent a lot of time looking for validation and acceptance, because I never had been.

Something I realised about myself recently is that I am very fake, its like I fog people to hide the true me. Being aware of this is one thing tackling it is another. Its like being the real me is unacceptable. Its about not feeling worthy not being good enough.

Once my mother died I was lost confronted with a world where her rules now meant nothing. I really did not have any sense of the self. I didn’t know who I was, felt lost. Ulimately made me feel extremely vulnerable but exploring and building a relationship with self has been a powerful and positive experience.

In the past I had got so caught up within why. Consumed in what I was going through, in trying to make sense of others, of their crazy worlds and with how I was being treated. I had forgotten to acknowledge the only person that truely counts myself, I had stopped having the relationship with self.

Conditioning is frustratingly never far away and I try to remain mindful and sentry like . Anyone who tries to put whats going on for them over and above my needs or whats in my best interests has to be treated with caution. otherwise I risk slipping into old ways. There are many people like my mother. There have been important friendships where I was basically reliving the past need for validation none of these relationships were good for me. Change can only come about by doing things and being different.


Hi Colin
I totally relate to this! It’s really something to cut through all the conditioning, false messages about self, coping methods set in place for the purpose of survival, never having any value as an individual etc. I too developed many friendships that represented one or more of the people that “owned me” in the past. Maybe I was trying to ‘do it right’ this time, but I have a feeling looking back that I was constantly trying to ‘prove’ that I was okay. The problem was that I kept jumping through everyone else’s hoops (just as I had been forced to do in childhood) to do it! And just like in childhood, it was never good enough.
My relationship with self has been key and I constantly work on it to this day. Not easy when there was no foundation or frame of reference to start with. 🙂 But it is possible!
Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I also struggled with the idea of how to put in place a sense of the validate self, when none had ever existed. How do I put in place the foundations required to build from? I can rationlise and understand now the impact of what I went through but It’s like there are two parts to this the rational mind and the emotional reasoning.

I really don’t know if this is the answer but I have taken the stance that I am OK, this is my new frame of reference my subjective reality and I embrace this position as much as I can. I try to be kind to myself. I’m learning to be a bit more selfish but in the positive sense.

I relate very strongly to the concepts of person centred counseling its all there in its ideas about the self, conditional and unconditional love, positive regard.

Holding ourselves within positive regard is key, to love ourselves.
I struggled to come to terms and voice what I had always known, that I was not loved by those around me. To admit it to myself was harder than confronting my mother but once I had her power over me was gone. Knowing that all along I was ok was very powerful. Believing and embracing our own truth is so powerful.


August: Osage County
Meryl Streep almost succeeded in portaying my mother! 🙂
I wrote almost b/c my mother is even worse and on top of it she is sober and not popping pills.
As amazing as this movie/ play is, I left with a terrible migraine, I literally felt as if I just left my mother’s house.


Hi all, Amber,

Amber 192#, I loved your last sentence about the “emotional bank”! Boy, does that resonate with me! I was conditioned to see life as an “emotional bank”, into which I had to regularly make large deposits, but never dare to withdraw anything from. A comment I read the other day on another site, and can totally relate to is:-
“I feel like the Fairy God-mother who is expected to transform the lives of others, but who never gets to go to the ball herself”.
I am just starting to pick apart the nonsensical rubbish with which I was indoctrinated. The indoctrination that caused me to think I was so much less than others. That it didnt matter how much good I did, and how unselfish I was, I STILL had no right to follow my own dreams, or want anything good for myself. The indoctrination which made me frightened to “hurt the feelings” of someone who was behaving badly toward me, by standing up for myself. The indoctrination which rendered me terrified to get what I wanted, in case it made someone angry and that I would be punished. Every day now, I tell myself the following:- “Sylvia, you did not come into this world with a sign hanging around your neck, announcing that you were not allowed to experience anything good. It was never decided by God, The Universe, Source, or any other higher power, that you were exiled from being happy and entitled to look after your own interests. The ones who DID decide that for you Sylvia, were emotionally unhealthy human beings who had ulterior motives. They told you these things to control you, and to keep you ‘in service’ to them.” This helps me tremendously, especially when I feel myself wavering, or about to tolerate unreasonable behaviour. I have to be very vigilant where my interactions with others are concerned, as I can sometimes find myself going into an almost trance-like state when someone behaves unreasonably, or makes demands, and ‘obeying’ them. Once again, I know this is a result of very effective conditioning, and is a survival strategy. It is the proverbial freeze response. I am aware that the situation I described in my post #192, about the one-sided friendship, is the result of a false belief I have had, about giving far more than I have a right to expect. It also follows a pattern that I have had in my life, of something starting off really well, then completely deteriorating to the point where it becomes unbearable. Its because I have believed subconciously, that it isnt ‘safe’ to be happy….. Hugs to All, Sylvia x


Sorry, I meant to say my post #191 x


Hi Sylvia, I guess I lived for many years thinking that I was the only one brought up to feel inferior and that I was here only to service others and make their lives easier. Breaking this site has made me realize how I was groomed to feel less worthy and groomed to feel that I had to do for others but gnat they didn’t have to give anything in return. I always felt that I was somehow different from other people and less than, and that they had rights to do, say, and obtain things that I didn’t. Now, finally, I see what a big lie it all was and that I bought into it, but I also understand that I didn’t have a choice about buying into it. I also understand about “freezing”, and not wanting to say “no” for fear of punishment whether it be a slap or vicious words. I know I have leftover fears from childhood but Since I realize where they came from, I am trying to push past them when faced with a situation where I have to put up a boundary. I mentioned on another thread here that I saw my daughters caretaker two days ago (I talked about this above in 189) and I held onto my boundary of no extra hours unless I actually need the services from her). It is still very scary to do this but I asked myself what is the worst that can happen? (AndI thank Darlene for the ideas I got from her about dealing with fears)some things I asked myself to confront the fears: She might quit? ( she didn’t) she might scream at me and call me names? (No, she didn’t yell, and if she did, I would be able to handle that too, and namecalling I realized was common in childhood, but very unlikely to happen now and if it did I could handle that too.) Would she do anything physical? (Again, highly unlikely and also something that was a reality in my childhood, but not now. And if it did happen now, I could handle that as well, and now know it is illegal too). Some of those fears may sound ridiculous for an adult, but they were very real fears while I was growing up because those situations were very likely to occur when I was a kid. The end result was that I held my boundary and know I can do it again if this woman gets pushy again.


Sylvia, sorry, spellcheck messed up my message to you but the basic message I meant to convey is intact.


Dear Darlene, one thing I struggle with is being able to access “feelings ” of self worth as opposed to the “belief” that I have value. Intellectually I know I am of equal worth to others, but energetically I think I give an impression of being lesser than others, because in my gut I still dont feel my worth. Can you help with any hints of how this can turn round so that my self worth is authentic and not just a thought. with many thanks to you and everyone who shares


Hi Johana,

Something that helped me access my feelings of Self-worth was to define my own personal values.
I found trying to connect a feeling to a value just left me frustrated with a sense of emptiness. Knowing I have worth and feeling I owned the belief were at odds.
I set out to list ten values, from these ten I reduced the number down too eight and then down to one. Each time asking myself what is truly important to me?
In the process of defining my values I had to ask myself WHAT DO I BELIEVE ABOUT MYSELF. That’s where the true value of this exercise lies; it allowed me to re-evaluate myself.
At first it was a real struggle and quite frustrating for me. Firstly I had/have a difficulty accessing feelings. To survive the environment I grew up in having freely accessible feelings was too painful. I’d learned to numb myself, which allowed me to stand in the eye of the storm.
I looked at where my lack of self-worth came from. Growing up I had made evaluations about myself from how I was treated by others. Learned I had no inherent value in the eyes of others. These evaluations I had adopted, they had become the basis for my core beliefs.

I recently noticed a change in myself. I’d began to buy new clothes, took an interest in how I looked, feeling good about myself. I had always disliked looking at myself in a mirror, made me feel quite uncomfortable. It was my acid test, how I felt about myself.

The new evidence a desire to feel good is now not matching my old beliefs. I believe changing my feelings towards my self worth takes lots of things to be in place.


Hi Johanna
The way that I turned this around and ‘owned my worth in my gut’ was to find out not only what I believed about myself deep down, but I found out where that belief originated. That was where I found the LIE about the belief in the first place. Once I found the origin of the lie, it was much easier to see that it wasn’t true about me. (ie: I found out why I believed it was my fault that I had been sexually abused and realized that was a huge lie ~ this is a huge example and it took some time to process through it, but that is what I did.)
Hugs, Darlene

I love your comments Colin!


HI Colin, thank you for responding to my comment, I appreciate that, and funny I hadnt even seen the difference between my SENSE of worth( which was formed in me as a child depending on the feedback from adults in my immediate environment) as opposed to MY values which are decided upon by ME, now! did not even see the linguistic connection between how valuable or not I felt as a child as opposed to what I value, So thank you for the input.

Hi Darlene, Thank you for your help, I understand what you mean about seeing the lies for what they were, seems it takes alot of vigilance to be able to continually challenge those lies, as they seem to be my default mental mode. this site really is a life line , knowing that at a fundamental level I am understood as is everyone here. And whilst I gain comfort from this, I also feel a bit stuck right now in a no-where land where I seem to question my motive about any contact I want with people as I see I am underneath seeking validation, or that they seem to want to excercise some authority over me however subtle. To avoid both of these possibilities I seem to spend most of my time alone and sometimes feel like I am just living out my existence rather than really living. Not sure what is needed to break out of this space or even whether I should, maybe its ok to just live conflict free, then a part of me craves more with regard to having closer r/ships. any way thank you again for your invaluable support


Hi Johana,

I had a similar feeling of being stuck, of looking at my motives.
I’ve returned to friendships where I could exercise my need of validation. The problem for me, once I realised what was going on, I didn’t want to treat myself like that anymore. I wanted to respect myself.
On one occasion an exchange took place and I just felt time warped back to my childhood. This friend rejected me (my need of validation). In those shortest of moments I had been totally destroyed emotionally. It was exactly the same exchange. The same rejection I had felt from my mother.
What I realised was a lot of my friendships were unequal, the power was one sided. I would offer myself up to be treated badly. I realised I had chased something throughout my childhood and I had taken the chase into later life.
What I understand now is the conditioning I received has formed me. Shaped me like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I have a tendency to go looking and to repeat what I experienced during childhood. Why did I marry an exact duplicate of my mother? Because that was what I knew, it was sadly very comfortable. But I fitted in, knew my place.
The need to be validated accepted is a human need. If my mother’s love had been unconditional, I would have been accepted and validated by her love. Well that moment gone. Validation has to come from within now.
I spend a lot of time on my own. I think having less conflict means I have reached a crossroads, I can choose to turn to the left and travel the well-known road or I can cut a new unknown scary exciting path.


I don’ know where to begin. I have stuck for all my life. reading the posts is amazing. my childhood was abuse, neglect, invalidation, I was the “problem”, the bad kid, problem child and on and on. my 2 brothers were the “good ones” and got all of the love and attention from my mother who was my primary caretaker. my father was not at home and not interested in his wife or children. I have spent most of my adult life being stuck with guilt and shame about who I was told I am. I just found this website and I now know that I am not alone, I was not the only child in this world that was told that I was rotten to the core. my life has been hell. I was so stuck. now, I see maybe a way out of the fog and on to a rebirth of the “real me.” I am just at the very start of this process and need to write so much. thank you all for sharing and to Darlene for the keys to the way out. more later, this is a lot for me to process at one time. scarlett




Why is it that whenever there is a situation in my family, my life turns in to utter chaos? My grandfather just died. He was very ill with leukemia. I lived in the same town, but did not feel able to visit him due to my grandmother. She is the reason why the abuse still exists, and why my mother turned out to be an abuser herself. I even just recently met with my mother’s therapist and my mother’s own therapist said these very words to me. Now everyone is rallying to support my grandmother, and I keep getting calls and texts to do the same, despite my 3+ year estrangement. I have only maintained contact with my sister, but she insists on me “doing the right thing” also. His funeral is currently occuring. I did not go. At my father’s funeral (which my mother’s side of the family attended even though my father and mother had been divorced for over 25 years, and the divorce was not amicable), there was nothing but drama. I truly feel the same thing would have happened at my grandfather’s funeral. I would have been cornered and left to defend myself at a funeral of all places. How unfair to his memory! I had previously thought I was going to go, but decided not to today. I didn’t tell my sister. She would have a fit. I have even turned my phone off because I know what will be coming soon.

My mother and I are going to try counseling again, and last time she got up and left the session. This time it is with a counselor that she sees regularly, but her counselor told me to not expect much. I was really surprised by that. Her own counselor is saying that what I did was right! Me! My mother’s counselor validates my decisions! I never thought that would happen, especially since she had only heard my mom’s side of the story before.

I’m so tired of defending myself all the time. Of explaining, of getting told what I’m doing is wrong, of getting guilt tripped. I plan on going to my grandfather’s grave site once he’s buried in the spring and paying my respects then. But, I keep being told by my sister that I should be there for my grandmother. I haven’t told my grandmother why I don’t communicate with her anymore. No one cares enough to ask me why I’m distant- they just continue to try to guilt me and persuade me to go. I just keep my mouth shut and say “Ok”, then don’t show, or I say “No” and tell them I won’t talk about it anymore.

I don’t know how to handle this anymore.


The example of the teacher picking on me, I can relate because I had many teachers who were bullies and humiliated me in front of the class yet took no responsibility for it. I tried talking to my mom about it and she shrugged it off as always told me to ‘suck it up and deal with it, fight your own battles.’ That proves right there that if a parent can’t fight for their kids, then the child will grow up not learning how to fight on their own one day.

My parents felt it wasn’t their job to come to my school and give the teachers a piece of their mind. I do agree that we are not born with depression or low self esteem, situations that happen to us can make us become depress or have low self esteem. I do agree how setting personal boundaries is not easy to set.


Thanks for the comments, thats exactly how I have been feeling about all friends , old and new, I am very sensitive, more than ever, to being invalidated or treated as though I am lesser somehow. Just as you described I have also sought out people to fit the empty part that I needed to experience, so usually they exerted authority over me and I bought into it. It feels as though the blue print has been set for what I attract into my life for sure, and the only way out of breaking this cycle is through awareness. awareness of my inner childs needs and awareness of who I am relating to , looking at the person honestly as possible without the veil of who I would like them to be. appreciate you talking to me. kind regards johanna







Hi Scarlett,

I would like to have some answer for you, to have the answer for myself. All I can say for myself is things do change, I have changed. I spent a lifetime with guilt and shame. Came to the exact same conclusions.

Change takes place because we start to unpick, confront and then to change the beliefs we have and hold of ourselves. This is not easy as we define oursleves, interpretedt meanings, from how we are treated. The beliefs of others are just to powerful when we are young and as a child we have no choice other than to define ourselevs by how we are being treated. Its what we learn and so today we have to unlearn the past. Theres no magic pill which is going to make things be different that can undo the past.

All there can be is our own understanding of what we have gone through the only thing we have is the faith we have in ourselves to live each day different to how we lived in the past. Whats been done to us has been done, we have no time machine to go back and do things differenty.

I don’t have an answer for myself. I just try and live each day with kindness in my heart for myself. Try and let go of my frustration towards myself.





Hi Scarlett, 217.

Good, those feelings are real they are yours. You own them, you have paid the price for them.

I think I have written on here how extreme my emotions were.

When my mother died first thing I did was visit her home, went through every room to make sure she was GONE then experienced a massive sense of relief washing over me.

Very next counselling session told my counsellor I felt so guilty. Yet I could not work out why I should feel guilt after what I had gone through. I realised I felt guilty because I did not feel bad about her death. I WAS RELIEVED I NO LONGER HAD TO DO THAT RELATIONSHIP. In that moment of realisation the guilt vanished.

I had a difficult year following my mother’s death, dealing with the surge of emotions her death released. I was actually asked to leave group. Emotions which had been hammered down unacceptable to express around my mother now consumed me. I thought I would go mad. I had extreme anger if not rage.

I believe it was central for my process to express and freely vent my emotions. I had never been allowed to express thoughts or emotions which were at odds or uncomfortable for my mother to hear. I’d quickly learned the safest thing to do was suppress everything
My very first counselling sessions was all about sitting in a room and being able to say out loud “I have never felt loved by my mother.” Once I had, I went and told my mother how I had always felt and what was real for me. Of course it was all dismissed and denied. She needed me to believe she was the Mary Poppins of mothers. She would have you believe her love was like some big Italian fountain, but I never got wet.
I made the mistake of confronting my mother over the telephone. She would just hang up whenever she did not want to hear what I was saying. I look back and there is regret I never had the opportunity of a face to face confrontation.

I thought about my feelings regarding my mother’s death. I thought a long time about the mother I had wanted, didn’t mourn my mother’s death but I did mourn the loss of mother I should have had. The now lost chance for my mother to love me the way I needed her to.

My mother would not accept or acknowledge anything I’d experienced as a child. When I finally confronted her about her behaviour, voiced what I had been put through by her she simply denied any of it ever happening. Told me she was OK hinted at my questionable sanity because I was the one who had suffered clinical depression. I was left with nothing my entire reality had just been dismissed. At the very moment when I needed her to look beyond herself and her needs she couldn’t.
I understand the limitations of my mother now; the legacy of abuse goes back to her childhood. She experienced a horrific childhood. For a long time I did the forgiveness thing, then turned strongly anti-forgiveness. I’m not about a need to love my mother no matter what the price. I just want to become as intact as possible.

What do I achieve from hating my mother, other than keeping the past alive? Where will hatred take me. what will I be left with? There’s only one person keeping the past alive now and I have a choice.
Awareness and acceptance are key. I have struggled with acceptance, letting go of issues is the key but really hard.




Hi Scarlett 219.

A therapist can only take us as far as they have taken themselves.

Scarlett reread what you have written here, I see a person who has worked out a lot of what was happening around them, you have insights and awareness.

It is really easy to get caught up in the past, its gone now.
Please please do not be offended I’m not telling you to let go of the past. I to was and am caught up in it. firstly we have to make sense of what we went through. WE MUST talk about it, scream about it, cry and grieve the loss of it.

We cannot side step the pain if we want to pass through it.

Its like wading through a river of shit the idea is not to sit down in it.

We all have our own journeys, all move at our own pace. 1 step forward 3 steps back the point being we are moving through our issues. The changes which happen are so small they go unnoticed until one day we notice how far we have come.

I realised I was keeping it alive, I have ruminated the past for so long have been consumed by it.

My counsellor said I had to accept the past, well easier said than done. I felt she had just minimised everything I had gone through.
That to accept it meant it would be devalued in some way. I had gone through hell and I had every right to own my feelings.

The road to acceptance is the hardest path to walk down.

I feel acceptance is a very very personal thing and I am not saying it has to be done its something we each as individuals have to choose for ourselves.

I read something that had a massive impact into my being.

“we always knew the truth of how we were being treated.”

What happened is I bought into all the guilt, I allowed myself to interpret my worth by how others treated me. But lets be fair I was a child no choices other than to accept their needs their issues their crap.

I think of my guilt as a head tape that is continually playinging in the background like elevator music. What helped me and I don’t know if it is the answer. I try and interupt the music, now whenever I have a thought slip into my head I say NO I’m not doing this. I catch myself and think of something else. I will not allow my self to sit and listen. These are the moments of self kindness.

Its hard because for so long feeling guilty, being angry or worse still regrets that I did not stand up to my mother sooner have haunted me.

I think of all this stuff as clouds passing across a blue sky. If thoughts are merely clouds then let them pass by. their power only exists if I acknowledge and sit with them.

Today I have a choice of how I value myself. To love myself. So hard when there is no foundation in place. I value myself I have survived I’m no longer treating myself as the victim. I do not treat my daughter as I was once treated. I value her for all that she is.








Hi Scarllet 221,

Well, thats not true.

When my daughter was born I really struggled, was torn apart thinking I would treat her as I had been treated. If I DID then my mother was right.







Hi Scarlett 221,222

If all that is true. Is believed so convincingly then why are you so angry.

Thats not your truth thats their truth

A part of you knows the injustice of how you were treated. That part of you which has become small, has become lost, but its still there within us all.

Rejected by parents well




HI Scarlet,

Can you please remove caps lock.

What makes this true today, where is the evidence that supports you’re being unlovable


sorry about caps, I have poor eye site.


I thinking


hi colin, what do you mean where is the evidence that makes this true today?


I don’t understand the question. scarlett


my belief about myself keeps creating people in my life to this day that think I am unlovable. I can give current situation in my life now. scarlett


What Colin means is that it isn’t that you are unlovable and the way they treat you isn’t your fault. So many of us are or have been mad at ourselves when the fault belongs to the ones who have treated us in such devaluing and defining ways. The way we have been treated is about them. It isn’t that we were or are unlovable it’s that they didn’t live us. This is a sad and very painful truth but it is a truth that eventually set me free.
Hugs Darlene


Hi Scarlett,

Do you believe at this moment in time you are unlovable.

What evidence supports your belief.

I’m asking you to re-evaluate, to question an old belief


yes, I do believe that at this time I am unlovable at this time.

what support the belief is even the current situation I am in now.

Darlene is that they didn’t love us? she loved my brothers.

then what about all the people in my life that hate me????


I would like to tell you what has happened the past 2 years.
if you are willing to read it I will give you the very short version.


Scarlet pleas feel free to share your story here.
Hugs Darlene


just the past 3 years: the condensed version.

in 2011: was stacked by a female for 8 months of 2011. she went to the police and accused me of trying to kill her. she would follow me downtown and scream at me in public that I was a murderer and people would come out of the stores and stand around and stare and listen. she went everywhere in the town and I finally got a restraining order, and when I called the police they just blew it off. she sued me in small claims court for attempted murder and $5000.00. it was dismissed. I had no protection from her. I could not take any more and left the state, rented an apartment that was more then I got for disability(I am disabled) hoping I could work and cover the rent. I couldn’t.
in January of 2012 I had move out of the apartment and returned to the state I left to a women’s shelter that was not near where this women lived. the shelter was small and was for women who had been abused. I was the oldest person there of 6 women. after about 3 weeks the other wanted me to leave because as I discovered they were doing drugs, I would not ever have said anything to anyone about that, they were scared that I would and tried to get me put for being “nothing but trouble”, which didn’t work. so one of the women there had her 8 year old daughter say that I was abusive to her and she was afraid of me. a lie. the shelter told me to be out in 20 minutes and because I was taking longer to pack my things they called the police who helped me get my things and take me out of there. as I was moving my things, all the other residents sat in the living room watching the police move me and laughing at me.
I was taken to a motel and then taken to a motel in a city that was nearby. I tore all my clothes.
a social worker that I had met paid for a train ticket to return to the state I had moved from and she paid for the ticket and arranged for temp. and permenant housing. I got on the train with my service and got with 24 hours of my destination when I put off the train in a state that I did not know. the reason I was put off the train was the social worker’s husband discovered that his wife had paid my ticket and had her cancel my ticket. I was stranded. I was taken to a homeless shelter where my service dog was not welcome, but by law they had to take him.
I was by this time numb. the shelter was scary and I was in the shelter from feb. 2012 to july 2012 when I was put out on the street because the shelter said that “my heart was not in the program at the shelter.”
I went to a motel, ran out of money and tried to get into a small women’s shelter in the same town. I did get in, but no one wanted my service dog there and the shelter that I had been put out of the other shelter in town, I was put out on the street.
I went back to the motel and met a desk clerk that was renting a room from a women in town. I moved in and the women had problems, was a in a big conflict with the desk clerk and her boyfriend. she put them out and then started to abuse me, put me out and it was 100 degrees every day and I wound up staying in a tent in a backyard, now it is aug. 2012 and the sister of the person who let me stay in tent never gave the okay for me to stay and she put me out on the street.
I called my ex neighbor and she said come up to the state she was living in. I did, I stayed 2 nights at her apt. and she called the police and told them that I was going to kill myself, which I was not and the police took me to the hospital for the night and the doctor told me that I was traumatized and just needed rest and therapy.
I was taken to a shelter and stayed there until nov. 2012.
the shelter was the only one in that city for women. they took anyone. so I was in a large shelter with women who did drugs, drank and had mental problems. it was a nightmare for me. I do not drink or drug and I am not crazy. I was scared every day, I took the first apt. that was offered me.
I did not like where I was living and was looking for another apt.
long story short. one of the apt. building staff took a dislike to me and made up 3 very serious lease violations against and I had to leave after 6 months. the lease violations were untrue and I was never charged with anything, nor were the police ever called. I did get a lawyer, but was unable to stop the process. I left that in may 2013 and returned to the town where I had been followed by that women. she did not bother me, but it was a small town and I could not find housing there and while there I met a group of people from the town I am living in now who were on a mission trip and since they knew I could not find housing, they said come to our state and live there. so I moved to their town, where iam at now.
I moved here in june of 2013 and after being here about a month my ex therapist asked me to return to the state I had just moved from for 6 months to do therapy twice a week so that I could get over the guilt, ect.
the church here found ne a rental near the town where the therapist was and I returned. when I got there, the man who rented the apt. to me did not own the property and also found out that he was a felon and disbarred lawyer. so the people who owned the property put me out and I had to return to the state I am in now with the church.
when I got back here, the whole attitude of the church pastors had changed towards me, the disbarred lawyer had bad mouthed me to the church down here because I knew what he was and he wanted to buy the property and wanted this church to help him. so he lied about me, and despite what proof I had about him, the church here defended him.
I was then treated like scum by the church and when I stood up for myself they dumped. I am alone here, in an apartment that the church found that I can not afford. and I no longer have a relationship with the church, I again am stranded and will leave here march 3rd. to go back to California where I was born and raised to live on the street with my service dog. I have asked my ex-husband for help, but he refuses and my brother has not spoken to me since 1996. scarlett


the abuse from my mother was severe. she starved me as punishment., she was brutal. she let my older brother beat on me and he tried to sexually abuse me in front of her. she sent me to school in didty clothes. I had a therapist tell me I was lucky to survive my childhood.
I was married to a man for 20 years who beat me and abused me. then I married a man who he and his son abused me. his son gave me a brain injury.
I became disabled in 2000. I have a college degree with a triple major. i am so broken inside. scarlett


Hi all,
Scarlett,I am sorry you have had such a difficult time, but am glad that you have found this site, you are in the right place.
Like you, I felt totally unlovable for decades of my life, because on a deep level, I felt that I had deserved the abuse. As Colin says, herein lies the power of the abuser, they make us feel responsible for their behaviour, that their mistreatment of us is all our own fault. No wonder we feel so unworthy. Also, it is very common to believe that when you have been abused by more than one person, then that automatically puts them “in the right”, so to speak. It would not have occurred to me back then, that several people in the same family could all behave abusively. Now of course, I see that it was a classic case of scapegoating. I think Darlene may have described this as “multi-layered” abuse, but I could be mistaken.
From an early age, I was verbally and emotionally abused by 3 close family members, one of them my Mom. At 13, I was sexually manipulated and then raped by individuals outside the family. At the time, possessing neither the wisdom or maturity to see the truth of the matter, I concluded that I must be a bad person who was MAKING people do these things, that this abuse was a right and justified punishment for something I had done. I actually started to see the abusers as the victims in the situation, and myself as the perpertrator. I felt that I had DONE something to THEM! It is only recently that I have started to unravel this faulty belief system. I now realise that this was something that happened TO me, not because of me. I didnt “ask for it”, and I didnt deserve it. The fact is, I was conditioned from early chilhood, into high tolerance of innapropriate behaviour. When we are conditioned in this way, we will be a magnet for emotionally unhealthy, dysfunctional people, who will continue the cycle of abuse. Its only when we can absoloutley accept that this happened TO us, that we can stop these old programmes from running and ruining our lives. Even though I wasnt physically abused at home, or deprived materially of anything, I honestly believe I would have fared better in a care or foster home. Nothing could have been worse than the emotional battering I have gone through. I still have days when I feel dirty, ashamed and worthless, however, I know this is not a reflection of me, but of how successfully I was indoctinated. Good luck Scarlett. Sylvia x.


dear Sylvia,
I am in shock. I never looked at it that way. yes, my mother and 2 brothers played that I was their abuser!!!!!!!!!
I do not know what multi level abuse is.
the women who accused me of trying to kill her was not only telling a lie, but made me into her abuser, yet it was me that she was abusing.
my mother did the same thing, poor mom, she was so innocent and my brothers had to protect her from me and I was the abuser to my older brother and that is why my younger brother will not speak to me, he has said that I abused him . my brothers felt it was their duty to protect our mother from me!!!!!!
my ex husband, who abused me, plays like I abused him!!!!!!
OMG no wonder I hate myself. now what??????


I was the scapegoat of my family. and I was accused by the church here who was helping me of many abuses that I never did and have been dumped by the church, even though they were abusive to me. this has been my pattern all my life. one of the pastors screamed and yelled at me abusive remarks and I was accused of other things that ARE NOT TRUE!!!! this is a small town and word travels fast. I am going to move and heal. my name is ruined in this town. scarlett


right on, spot on. I have been made to feel it was all my fault and that I deserve the abuse. I want to heal this and really dislike this town and I want to move home to California and heal and start a new life before. I have had enough. I need help. scarlett


I know what it is like to live in a town where you dont feel liked or welcome – or even safe. After I was raped, I was scared to tell my parents, because I knew my Mom would blame me. Also, at that time, Dad was dying from lung cancer, and my Mom was heaping enough guilt on me, without me giving her any more ammunition to fire at me. Because they were not brought to justice, the men who raped me spread it round that I had consented to having sex with them. This resulted in me becoming known as the “Town Slut”. I was bullied and ostracised because of this, which of course, reinforced the belief that “Its all my fault”. I was once even called a tramp by one of my school teachers. He said, in front of the whole class – “stop talking, you little tramp, or I will have you suspended from this school. You shouldnt be here anyway, this is a respectable establishment”. I will never forget the shame of this. The thing is, when I eventually DID move from that town, I met with a similar set of problems in my new location. To cut a long story short, wherever I went, whoever I was with – I didnt feel good enough, I felt “less than”. Until we deal with our inner demons and false beliefs, we will encounter the same old, same old……



I do believe that I will take this crap to any place I go until I deal with it.
the main reason I am moving is financial and medical. scarlett


Darlene, do you any of your blogs that are on scapegoating and can you explain multi level of abuse? any links that you might recommend ??
I am very angry. scarlett


Dear Scarlett…..please beautiful girl I know HOW HARD IT IS to believe you did not cause the abuse to happen to you, but you did not. You were an innocent vulnerable child entrusted to people and institutions who were deeply damaged and cruel….and used you to dump all of their hatred, anger and pain into. That is what the scapegoat is, a dumping ground for the refuse people who are cowards don’t want to face. We need love as children in order to absorb the belief that we are lovable. Damaged people cannot instill this in us as they don’t have it to give. I am so glad you have found this site. I haven’t been on this for over a year now and my family wasn’t as abusive as this to the same degree but I did have an abusive ex partner and it was a very painful relationship. When he ended it due to my own issues and enmeshment in my own damaged family there was a list of abusive words and comments that nearly destroyed me. Still my self belief was not strong enough yet, to not absorb it. To date some of the nasty things he and family have said about me still re-verberate but I have learned to answer these inner voices back and know they aren’t telling the truth.

At one point I was living alone and isolated and besieged by an inner voice that told me I was scum and should take my own life. I wrote down a lot of what it said and then it told me how was a force that had entered my life at age 6….I wont go into the whole story but that was a kind of turning point for me.

At that stage I had been in addiction recovery for alcoholism for about 10 years but even in AA I was blamed and told that I had defects of character… of course…but the lesson I still swallowed was that on some level I was bad. In my family I was “bad” because as I began to recover some emotional health I actually had the audacity to get angry and rage at my family when they were being abusive or not respecting my boundaries. They would cut me off and then I would feel a fit of remorse and try to apologise when really I had nothing to apologise for.

I have tried so many therapists. The last one got upset with me when I expressed anger at her for not taking a call when I was in a desperately difficult state following an operation all alone at Christmas with not even one member of my family willing to be there for me. She told me I had hurt her feelings????? I decided to tell her I was taking a break from therapy and then I got a text which said. This is your pattern to cut away from relationships when you feel hurt and disappointed but you need to come back and see me to work it through. I was not cutting off, I was setting a boundary because I spoke to others who said it wasn’t right for a therapist to make me feel bad about expressing very legitimate feelings. I rang her immediately and said in a calm but firm way that I was very angry at her interpretation when really that was not my pattern, the pattern was to set a boundary and then have someone react negatively to me for “hurting” them for having the audacity to express my truth.

Anyway she did ring to apologise and ask me to meet with her to discuss it which I did, crying throughout the entire session. The reason she did not take my call “I was going through personal difficulties of my own” What????? Did I hear right? This was/is a repeat of a childhood where I was always at the bottom of the pile to cope with the crumbs handed out to me.

I am sorry to continue with this story when I was trying to offer you support Scarlett… I would recommend to do a google search on scapegoating there is an excellent site on Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers which has a very good article on scapegoating. My old computer has broken down or I would post something here for you to read, but you will find it if you search using those words.

Stay angry Scarlett.. your anger will lead you home to truth and help you to set strong boundaries. Use it to protect and love your vulnerable young child who is NOT TO BLAME……HUGS Deborah


Dear Colin, thank you so much for sharing your story and insights. I found all you shared here so very helpful. It was really healing to read. Deborah

P.S. I was once told, following an AA meeting that anger was one of the seven deadly sins… if so why was Jesus so angry with the moneychangers and why did he throw them out of the temple in a fit of anger? We need our anger. Anger is often a sign we need to set a boundary. It took me so long to realise that as I was always sent to my room when I was angry. On that subject, Darlene what is your opinion on time out for children? It often seems anger may be a sign needs are being frustrated for the child. They need to have a voice. Any comments to make on this and boundary setting?


dear Deborah,

thank all of you for your help, support and insights.
as you, the pattern for me has been the same, when I set a boundary, I get a negative reaction and they are hurt by me for me having the audacity to tell my truth. god forbid!!!!! how dare I hurt them, “after all they have done for me.” my first reaction is to feel bad and guilty and ask for forgiveness.
I must write this.

I am disabled and living on a very tight income. my parents and older have passed. the family I have is a younger brother, who wants no contact with me because, “I lied to him.” we have not spoken since 1996.
there is no other family. so I am very alone and isolated and am disabled, chronic pain and lyme desease caused by a tick bite in the north east part of the united states.
that being said, the very cold winters in new England were very hard on my pain level.
I know live in the “deep” south of the united states. it is a poor state, very limited social services. but, the town I live has a very famous university(not a medical school) and it is a small town, with a very closed church and social system. there is a lot rich people in this town and many famous have people attended the university here.
this is the sort small southern town in the united states that unless your “daddy” or “grand daddy” was born and raised here, you will never be accepted. rent here is very high. so,how did I wind up here?
while living in the northeast, I met a group of people who were on a missionary trip and they befriended me and asked me to move here and they help get settled. I had not ever lived in this town and the church that these people are members of, is a very wealthy church and most of the members are born and raised here. very old south money.
I moved here and iam from the west coast of the united states. so, this culture is very not me.
i have been moved around, yelled at by members and pastors of the church, been accused of being “ungrateful” ” for “all the help they have given me.”
because of my income, and because of the poor social services in this state, I am unable to go to a doctor or dentist because I can’t afford the co-payment on the office visits. as long as I was playing “nice” to the church, they were abusive, but did pick up(when they felt it was “right”) my medical co-payment) and I was totally dependent on members of the church for most of my needs. the apartment the church “found me” I pay and it takes every bit of money I get each month to pay the rent and electric.
since I have stood up to them, they were abusive to me, the church has cut me off. so, the apartment is not on a bus route and they know I have a tooth that hurts and no heat, no to get to laundry, ect. ect.
but, I put up a boundary with them about the abuse, and now I do not exist to them.
so, that is why I can move to my home state, where I will get better social services and other help.
am I scared to be in this town, you bet. this is very powerful. and they see me as not “a good person.” scarlett which means I get no more “help” from them.”


as long as I was willing to take their abuse and they doled out to me, then I got only what they wanted me to have. now that I drew the line on the abuse, I am a “bad” person and they cut off all communication with me. I am on own with my service dog and will move to my home state, where I need to be very careful about myself and there are many social services there. scarlett


my life here was totally controlled by the church. when I said no more, they called me bad and cut me off. scarlett


Hi Deborah, 247 248


Anger a deadly sin. NO our anger is a God given emotion.

Today I visualise my anger as a red flag. When I am being mistreated there’s the red flag at the top of the pole dancing in the breeze.

When the flag is up the pole I‘d do myself a grave injustice to ignore what every fibre of my being is screaming at me. My anger is there to tell me something is wrong, wants me to notice and to take action, to DO something.

Where’s the difference between my mother and this person at the AA meeting. They are both telling us what emotions are acceptable and those which are not. Why is anger unacceptable, to whom?

No, anger is not unacceptable; the issue with anger is what we do with it!
Anger is the motivator.

Our emotions have developed over thousands of years; Anger is available to us it’s there to keep us safe. Once triggered means we are under some threat and to preserve ourselves we must take action.
If I am being treated badly, do not act, I ignore my anger two things will happen

• I allow them to continue the mistreatment against me
• DEPRESSION. Anger if not acted upon is turned inwards, not expressed it causes very negative consequences in our bodies and minds.

Anger is an emotion that requires us to take action.
Having said that, being angry is not the excuse to treat others badly our anger comes with a responsibility. Just because I’ve been treated badly doesn’t legitimise my behaviour towards others or more importantly to myself.

I was posed this question “who are you angry with, your mother or yourself”?

I could not believe this person who now knew me so well could dare ask such a question. Of course I was angry at my mother. I was so angry with this question what was therapy all about if a question like that could be asked of me.

My answer reflected where I was

In truth I am angry with myself.

Took me a while to realise and accept this truth

I am angry that I never stood up for myself. That’s the real truth of my anger.

I have not always been a child, but I did mostly back down. Yes a few regrets. My anger kept the past alive. I was, am angry at the injustice. But my anger has trapped me in the past. My anger was totally legitimate. I had paid for it a thousand times over.

I was entitled to be angry. I wanted it, I relished in my anger. Then I asked what do I really want for myself, if I want to be free from the past I have to accept and let go of the past and in turn the anger.

I have spent a lifetime barking like some mad dog at the world.
I was once told I was going around as the victim. I did not like hearing this as the truth hurts. I think the victimhood and anger mixture is quite intoxicating.


Hi Scarlett 249, 250,251

Do you see the simallarities betwwen the church and your family


dear colin,

yes, yes, and yes!!!!! loud and clear!!!!!!! scarlett


hi, reading on the website, daughters of narcissistic mother’s, the author said and I quote her,” you are not broken and in need of fixing, “you are wounded and in need of healing.”

the church gave me a book to read of which the title is, “from broken to beautiful.”

what can I say. scarlett



Yes but that book would have come with a price. The expectation you would live by their values and beliefs. If you know all this then why become angry with them, its pointless.

What have you learned, what needs to be in place to bring about change.


I have always seen myself as broken, in need of fixing, not wounded and in need of healing. big difference!!!!!!

I love the pacific ocean. igrew up along that coastline and walking those beaches I experienced much peace and a healing energy that was and I still consider that beautiful pacific ocean, my loving mother. I miss my pacific ocean mother. scarlett and I am going home to walk her healing sands every day.


hi colin good question. the book did come with a price, so did everything else that was involed with them.
I know now, at the I was in the fog. it has only been since on have been on this website that I woke up. I thought they were so much better then me, and I felt less then. scarlett


why am I angry? I not sure. you say it is pointless. scarlett


Hi Scarlett,

What have you learned, what needs to be in place to bring about change.


hi colin,

well, you asked very good major questions. I am looking at it. I will be back. scarlett


Hi Scarlett

Please review and consider 234 and 252


hi colin,

I see my anger as a cover. what is under the anger is severe emotional pain and hurt.
scarlett I am a person in a lot of emotional pain.


hi colin

yes I think I get high on anger. I hate to admit that. I agree what you said in 252. scarlett


hi colin

yes, working on your question ” what needs to be in place to bring about change.” scarlett very good question, I shall return.


hi colin,

I don’t understand the question, “what needs to be in place to bring about change.?



Hi Scarlett.. Colin seems to be in a very strong place to be able to help you, in my case as his comments show I am struggling. I am also confused Colin is anger the cover for grief, as I am not really sure what to do about my therapist. Were you trying to say that I was sounding like a “victim” in what I wrote. When I went back to see the therapist.. she called me to apologise for not taking my call and to say she regretted her actions. I asked her.. “Why didn’t you take my call” as I wanted to know. Another therapist who I really respect said therapists dealing with people like us need to be there pretty much all of the time. When I told this other therapist that she said “that would mean you don’t have a life???”..

Its clear I am struggling to make sense of what is right and healthy and good for me. I do agree with all of your comments about anger. In my case my anger never came out.. I had accidents. At age 17 I was so badly smashed up after a MVA that I nearly lost my life. I lost the entire last semester in hospital. My anger at my parents could not come out in any other way as it wasn’t allowed. I was sent to my room. I was totally unsupported. The amount of pain I went though led into addiction and then abusive relationships and then more anger which was expressed against myself. My mother’s mother used to hit her. My mother excused this of her mother. The pain was carried as I see it.

I did meet up with the therapist this week. I cried during the entire half session. I do feel that at times anger can be a cover up for feelings of deep powerlessness and grief we felt as children but could not express as the environment would not permit it. Alice Miller makes this point that it is only in allowing ourselves to grieve for what is lost that we recover. My questions and doubts and concerns are that one can cover the other….. anger my hid sadness and sadness may hide a legitimate anger that needs to come out in healthy self assertion. We can cry and cry and remain trapped in a sick situation. This has been my life for the past 12 years trying to break out while trying to be there for an elder sister in a home after a cerebral bleed and for a second sister who last year tried to take her life because she was fucked over by the entire dysfunctional family and unable to own her own narcissism as a continuation of my mother and father’s which was a defence against the personal and economic powerlessness of their young lives….

My parents did not physically abuse me much..just one or two hits with objects but they abandoned me emotionally and did not help me understand what emotions are and how to deal with them. This I am working on, like most people on here.

I would be interested in your comments.

Scarlett. I am sorry if the site I recommended you did not give you the help you needed. My heart really goes out to you in the extremely difficult situation you are in. It makes you very vulnerable to people who may want to use you to empower themselves on you. At least on here you will not find that but find instead a loving supportive community of others who have suffered similarly and so can provide real support and clarity.


Colin. also on one level I can agree that the person you were most angry was with yourself for taking the abuse. But a child cannot at the time know it was abused if the parent projects the idea it was because the child was bad and deserved the abuse. So why get angry at yourself. The way I have come to understand it is, until I can feel my child’s pain and know what hurts her by feeling and knowing that by having it validated I cant put up defences and protections against it. What really hurt me with this therapist was that she notified me by text that my decision to protect myself by stopping sessions when she expressed her hurt feellings over me expressing my emotional truth showed I was at fault and needed her further help to set my pattern right. As I see it that is abuse. It was only later, after I confronted her firmly she called me to apologise and get me to come back to a free session. I have in every incidence of confronting my mum been made to feel how bad it makes her feel and how mucb it hurts her. To me it was just the same dynamic. This therapist was supposed to be there for me. Am I supposed to accept that failure. I know she is a human and struggling but I don’t think this kind of behaviour is right for a therapist. I feel she it out o f her depth. And I feel sad about ending it but I feel that maybe it is the best way for me to become free. I am not angry any more. The anger served its purpose, as you said, it was for me to set a boundary with her. As I see it


And also Scarlett.. you have finally wised up to the abuse and can call it as abuse.. its better to be seen as “bad” or even “mad” and have your personal sanity and freedom. Sane people are viewed this way by sick systems. I wish you so much more support in your new environment.


dear Deborah, I did go to the site you recommended and I am working with the material there. I am not real clear about anger, I don’t know at this point.
I am not sure if I am addicted to anger and being a victim. or what.

I know iam in a very difficult situation and am vulnerable. and very scared.



yes, I have wised up to the abuse. scarlett


I think I have the anger and don’t set the boundry. the anger is as colin says a red flag. I get angry and either to scared or don’t know how to set a boundry.i did not know that anger was a red flag to setting a boundary .


I am very vulnerable and I know it. as long as I was willing to take the abuse and do just what they said, then the church helped me in the way they wanted to help me. since I have put up the boundary, they made me bad and wrong and went away. does it change their lives? no. the go home to their beautiful southern homes and their lives go on.
before I became disabled in 2003 I worked all my life and had my own home and always a new car.
but, I have on disability since 2003 and am aging. I live in a crummy apartment that I pay too much for. my landlord is best friends with the pastors at the church and the church put the electric bill in their name (I have to pay it) so the church can cut off my power (light) any time they want. I do not have the money for a deposit.
having no car, I walk to the store to buy food about 2 miles away. and I was doing my laundry at one of the church members house, but not any more.
there is no bus service out here. so now I have to walk.
I will be moving back to the west coast at the end of this month.
the church knows I have tooth pain and need to have some work done, but when I move I will take care of my teeth.
I will get through this. scarlett
I am so grateful to have found this site. oh, I forgot, I am not a grateful person!!!!!!!


I was raised by an alcoholic father and enabling mother who refused to defend us. She is good at making cutting and cruel comments. Last August Daddy died and she finally stood up to him a month before he died He was one mean S.O.B and wanted her there for him no matter what, even when she was battling her own cancer. Now that Daddy is gone, my two sisters and I are being nice to her cause she’s really struggling. I’m torn cause she is starting to get mean again. Either it’s the dementia kicking in or her old self coming out. And talk about having no say with my sisters. I have a nursing background and was totally left out of the loop as far as my father’s medical needs. Yea, talk about feeling insulted. When I tried to talk to my sister about it (the one in charge), I was told I was having an emotional tirade. The other sister is a total B****. The problem is both sisters are logical and non emotional and hate to deal with emotional issues. I work in a funeral home and have no problem talking about my issues, planning funerals, esp. my fathers, and also have not shied from dealing with my grief. Yes, I realize everybody deals with grief in their own way, but I’m all alone with this. I have no one in my family to talk to. And rather than get shot down for having the nerve to talk about emotional stuff, I simply say nothing. It’s not worth my breath to even try. It’s hard to feel like you’re the only one who wants to talk. It’s painful to feel like the odd one. And the weird thing is, I have the nerve to face really tough, painful issues!!!! So, I call Mom and play nice. I refuse to call my sisters. If they do call, I talk about the weather etc. I figure the next time we’ll see each other is at Mom’s funeral. My way of putting up boundaries is to do N O T H I N G.


Hi deborah

I have also experienced the limitations of counsellors.
I had 1 breakdown in tears during the session. My issues began to trigger hers, either way transference is always an issue. I have had moments when I have moved past their ability to help me.

At that point we have to move on.

(this is about me)
I found anger to be the insulation that protects me.

Most of the time I spent in counselling, I spent avoiding vulnerability.

For me it was about learning to trust myself again to step into my hurt. To look into the core issue “Rejection”

I would travel by train to see my counsellor and many times I would go 5 or 6 stations past where I should have got off. But I was never late.
I would have preferred to take a kicking in the street than be in that room, but it was where I needed to be.

A child has no choice. The abuse I took went on for 49 years.

I don’t know if I would agree with a counsellor having to always be there for me. Where is the boundary! I need to learn to set healthy boundaries.

We need to develop our own resilience, I would do as much work outside of the room as I did within it.
I needed more support just after my breakdown, but they can and should only hold us until we can stand on both feet.

Do you have two counsellors?

I think feeling the sadness of our past is very healing.

We should grieve what has been lost. Allowing this is very powerful, to acknowledge that part of ourselves, to be one with the hurt. To grieve the past,the loss and to finally let go of it. To be at peace with ourselves means to have let go of the anger.

How do you think you could unpack the sadness and anger what would you like to do Deborah with these emotions?


Hi Deborah, 268


I had a good rapport with my counsillor except for one issue.
It took me a long time to figure out what was missing between us.

After listening to me for over a year never denying me the space to talk freely on any issue. He then changed tack and his response was to ask me how positive or constructive is it to keep going over the past.

I would sit there pouring out the hurt and he never validated any of it. I used to think he just did not get me, I had a real need of him.

Anyway one day I confronted him, a massive step for me, asked why he had never validated what I’d gone through.

I looked across the room as he lowered his head, an empty silence engulfed us both. In that moment I realised there was only one person who could validate what I had gone through. Validation had to come from me, I had to take responsibility for myself.

I said ” the validation has to come from myself” as I did a tiny smile ran across his face. In that moment I was so grateful to him for never giving in to what I had desperately wanted.


I now refer to my mom as “the lady who tried to foster parent me but couldn’t love me.”


Deborah 268,

I have had nine counsellors in total.

I had one who wanted me to continually justify my emotions. I just quickly got to the point of wanting to walk away. She put a lot of pressure on me to stay or at least return for a final session. I sussed her out she was all about the money.

From my experience there are a lot of crappy counsellors out there.

It is very simple define your goals for counselling only allow say 3 sessions for the day to day issues that may arise in our lives after the 3 sessions return to goals.

As an example 18 months into counselling my wife asked for a divorce, three weeks later we were back to the goals.

Why is goal setting so important, many reasons but we have lots of issues many areas of our lives that get packed away the danger is opening up so many issues and resolving nothing, we then leave counselling in a terrible state.

Our counselling has to have a begining a middle and an end.

The goals set in my last counselling were to understand my anger, and to gain a sense of self. both goals achieved.

Only two boxes opened, issues resolved, boxes closed.

Imagine leaving counselling with everything revisited but nothing resolved.

If your counsellor is not setting goals how will you know you have reach the end.

Whenever I wanted to leave, wanted to stop thats when I knew I was getting my monies worth. The most important and growing place is within our own vulnerability.

Counselling is about exposing those parts of ourselves long ago hammered away


Hi, DXS 276

Yeah as a child I belived I had been adopted and that my real parents would someday return for me.


I feel like my posts were not addressed. scralett


Darlene, why have you not welcomed me to the blog as you have done so with many others? I do not see you comment on my posts???


Hi Redsoxfan
Welcome to EFB! ~ Thank you for sharing ~ there is lots of info here about this subject! I hope you will keep reading and keep sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, please read # 281 and 282. scarlett


this is why I do not like to share my story. it appears to me that people just go away. sorry to bother you all. scarlett


Dear Scarlet
If I did not welcome you I apologize. I try my hardest to acknowledge everyone but this site is so busy I can’t keep up anymore. There are over 1000 new comments per month and I just lose track of everyone. My coaching practice is also quite busy and I have a husband and family. I am only one person but my heart is in the right place. That has to be enough. This past few weeks has been hard since my daughters car accident and the blog had to take a back seat to everything else in my life. Please understand. I sincerely wish the best for everyone here I just can’t respond very often.
Hugs Darlene


Dear Darlene. I am so sorry that your daughter has been hurt. I wondered how it would be possible for you to comment on everyones comments as there are so many. Thank you for all you give on here and for providing such a healing space. especially when you have so much going on in your life. I just wanted to acknowledge that.

Colin. I agree with you. I feel there comes a time when a counsellor cannot be there for us and we must be there for ourselves. I think what happened with this counsellor for me has been a learning experience. I believe I needed to stand up and own my truth with her. She tried to the very best of her ability to be there and yes, she had her own boundary. I went to the session and cried a lot. How do I unpack my feelings. I have been in recovery for 20 years and my emotional recovery really began in 2002 after I had put down alcohol for 9 years. It took me this time to become less numb to the pain of my past. My tears began much earlier but getting a handle on abuse and especially abuse of my sensitivity took a while longer and a very painful relationship with someone who would not could not hear my tears without getting angry as he had to bury his.

For me it is a daily learning and I am part of a recovery group and there I have found a safe place to feel and understand all my feelings, including anger, what it is, what purpose it serves and why I have it. My mother does not allow the expression of anger. She could not express her own anger to her mother and each of her daughters (3) have struggled. I am the only one who is drug free and very sane due to my ongoing work in recovery. My two other sisters are medicated. One had a cerebral bleed at age 34 and them became bi polar. My second sister became bi polar because her feelings were medicated by so called psychiatrists and other drug pushers who never allowed her to get to the root of her own pain over the abuse she suffered. Last year she tried to take her life. She had been abusive to me in the past and it took a while for me to see that we were all damaged in different ways. Only I have sought to go drug free and done the recovery work in therapy and groups over 20 years.

I would say a lot of my feelings have been unpacked. Sometimes I feel so sad because at 52 I have not had the opportunity to fulfil myself due to the neglect and abuse in my family. But life is not over now and my parents could not be other than they were. I do believe we need to stand up to abusers and be strong. The healing comes when I am home inside myself and can call a spade a spade without fear….and be strong enough to stand firm to that despite the fear or threat of rejection and abandonment. I did not do this in the last relationship which ended 3 years ago. In these 3 years I have learned this lesson.

I get that you too have travelled down a similar road. I value your insights.


and I totally agree there are a lot of crappy counsellors out there.. this last one when I cried gave me the feeling it would have been better if I wasn’t as sad as it was difficult for her. she already told me my anger was difficult for her. I cant be with a counsellor who cannot validate feelings. I felt something powerful in the transferance. She seemed to have had a very similar mother to me. I felt in the last session which she asked me to come to for free to resolve things that she nearly got down on one knee to beg me to come back.. As one of my recovery friends said.. she seems to need you a lot more than you need her. Its time to be my own counsellor and my own best friend. That is my gut feeling.


When we get that lesson, that we must validate ourselves we are free. so I get what you meant about your experience. Mine was similar I guess, at that time she could not be there for me, though I was angry and hurt for a time I now see it was pain over my parents and family not being there when I needed them transferred onto the present. So I got the trigger to do the work and learn the lesson.


Scarlett.. it can take a long time to make sense of and feel our anger. It took me many years. I didn’t have anger I had body pain and then I would have rages and act out my anger. What I needed to learn was when my anger was triggered what need was being frustrated, how did that relate to the past. Did the event have to do with discounting or abuse. I did a lot of reading and the books that really helped me were Honour Your Anger by Beverley Engle and the Anger Solution by a guy called John Lee who does an anger detour process to help you get to the roots of anger. He writes a lot on passivity which I did not understand before. The passive person has exiled their anger a long time ago and its so deeply buried it can take a lot of time to dig it out. I started to use substances from age 14 to cope with shame bound feelings and to cover over deficiencies which came from neglect and abandonment and sensitivity. As long as I used them my anger was hidden and confused. Anyway. I am sure you are now on a journey to heal and the answers will come in time. I learned to listen to my gut and my heart and to recognise and study when the anger came and to learn why. Somethings I was angry about could not be changed and had to be let go Somethings I could so something about. Set a boundary or make a different choice. Our anger serves a purpose to help us develop and define a self and protect that self in positive ways. Once I began to know myself better and make healthier choices my anger lessened.. There is a quote about anger by a guy called John Townsend.. He says that when a passive person begins to learn about and set boundaries and recognise abuses an angry cloud follows him for a time. the repressed feelings come to the surface. that is part of the healing process as I understand it. In time we come to peace with the anger and begin to know ourselves and our triggers. Feelings are released and we don’t suffer as much angst. At least that is my experience. Also in setting boundaries at first I had to deal with a lot of fear. And not allow myself to be manipulated by those who tried to guilt or shame me to change back because they didn’t like my boundary. I could face a choice.. succumb to that fear and abandon myself. (I did that a lot) or feel the fear ride it through and reclaim myself and feel stronger. In the end the cost of the first way was too much to bear.


Hi deborah 286

I would agree when you say there’s a need to call a spade a spade.
There needs to be an almost brutal honesty with ourselves.

Its like looking into a mirror we only see the parts of ourselves we feel comfortable with, the parts which reflect the person we want to be.
On a few occassions I have received really insightful input which has been uncomfortable to hear. Sometimes these insights came out of love sometimes not

I call it being seen.

Have you come across the johari’s window?

I am also sad, I lost so much time. I wish I had had my breakdown much sooner. Its because our characters are so resilient. I view my clinical depression as a puncuation mark in my life. After that moment everything changed for the better.


Hi Deborah 287,

I ( this is me now) would be really cross with a counsellor who was prepared to take my money, but was unable to sit with my emotions.

The point of their training is to uncover their issues and to give them the self-awareness needed to know their own limitations.

Remember a counsellor can only take us as far as they have gone themselves.

Well I argee with your friend.

My last counsellor (Male) choosen because I believed a male would be stronger emotionally and also because I’d grown up without a male influence in my life. Any way after two years of incredible work together this counsellor began hitting on me, I also suspected he was using. I felt really let down by this person.
Its their brokeness their humanity which makes a good counsellor good.






Hi Deborah,

Somewhere you have spoken about passivity. I agree, I have noticed this about myself. I did some on line reading about learned helplessness.

Learned helplessness makes sense to me. Growing up I continually experienced being treated as if I were invisible. My thoughts and emotions were disregarded or dismissed. I was met with either violence, guilt or prolonged silences if I was to question my reality. I think its reasonable I would have learned and interpreted both my value and my power to bring about change as futile. I believe this passivity is now apart of my makeup. Its an aspect of the conditioning which I am mindful of. I am trying to notice these moments and to now act.

I grew up never being allowed to express my anger. I think what happened is rather than expressing and venting my anger approriately. I held onto it, all those moments of anger become stuck together. So I became this person who was never that far from their anger, I carried mine around all the time. Its like charging a battery it reaches the point of a full charge. I was extremely passive aggressive. I was a very inauthenic person. Something which is only today being confronted. When I can live a truely authenic existence someone will treat me badly and in that moment I will confront them and there will be no need to act out of anger


Colin I was not allowed to express anger either. Or any other emotion. Anger was not permitted. Sadness? My mother would tell the rest of the family yo ignore me if I was upset. It wasn’t even on the radar to ask what the problem was, or to try to help me in any way. Even happiness wasn’t allowed. My mother resented it if I came back happy after spending time with friends. She’d call me selfish, or If I laughed I was “silly”.

So I learned to stuff my feelings down. And in me not learning how to handle anger as an adult. Basically I was taught that I had no right yo anger or other feelings. But other people did have the right to their feelings. Si I would shove my feelings down and defer to everyone else. I had a deep fear of upsetting anyone else by not caving in to their wishes. And I am just recently learning to say no to unreasonable demands and to express my feelings about things.

I hear you about someday wanting to be able to confront someone who treats you badly right on the spot so the anger doesn’t get stored in an unhealthy way. I too have been passive aggressive and I too have let unresolved anger build up until I burst into tears or really go off on someone. It’s so hard to undo the only ways we knew for dealing with anger provoking situations. There is also a fear for me when I do try to confront someone. It’s that same childhood fear of rejection that I had if I dare express a feeling, want, or need. I try yo remind myself that I am nOT a child now and that the consequences I would face back then would either not be the same now, or if someone did in fact reject me for showing my feelings that I can now handle it better. This is a big stick point to get past for me, but I feel I just have to march on and plow through it to get past it. I’m having some success but there is also still a lot of fear.


Hi Amber 295

I agree having never been allowed to be angry we have not had the chance to learn how to manage our emotions. A fair point but never an excuse.

Because I have this reserve of anger the response as you say is not always appropriate to the situation. But again I am doing much better today than in the past. I think we need to get in touch with that part of ourselves and vent off as much anger as possible.

I’ve numbed myself from my emotions. Turning them back on was one of the most difficult aspects of my time spent in counselling also painful and frustrating, something I continually work on. I am proud of myself.

I had a situation recently where my gut intuition was screaming at me. Acting on my own feelings showed me how far I had come. I was sat there wanting someone else to tell me what to do and yet I had this voice inside which was sreaming my own answer.

It was strange to realise I distrusted a whole part of my being.

This again goes back to the head tapes which we listen to. I can have all the counselling there is but until I start to do things differently then things will stay the same.

We have to take a leap of faith. There’s no foundation until we create it for ourselves. Can we afford to make excuses for ourselves, how will change come about.

There are uncomfortable truths which have to be accepted.

My counsellor would ask and how does that feel, asking me to identify an emotion would leave me vacant. I worked it out I had been told for so long that I was wrong to think and feel as I did, I had stopped believing in myself. I had to Learn to trust myself again.


Hi Amber 295

I spent time thinking about rejection, the point is we need to re-evaluate it.

We are no longer children. Who can hurt you more than you are hurting yourself. Imagine being free from fear. Now thats a goal.

I was 5 years old when I experienced rejection. I sacrificed myself in the hope of never having to face that again. I am no longer prepared to pay the the price of living in fear.

You are so right, head down and move through it, I would like to say things will be easy but a lot of our difficulties are our own making. Keep strong you have an excellent attitude.


Thanks, Colin, Re: your comment saying I have an excellent attitude! I am trying to learn to self-validate, but validation from others feels like balm on the wound and is always welcome. I’m trying to learn to ge kind to myself.
Rejection is horrible. It is one of the most difficult things I am dealing with. My mother can’t stand girls and women…I know it has to do with her own childhood family relationships…she hurt me a lot because of her attitude towards females. She let me know I was inferior (somehow she didn’t classify herself this way because of her physical beauty tho I now know that deep down she felt insecure and unloved and the beauty thing was her way of trying to elevate herself). Anyway, part of her trying to feel better about herself involved leveling me by making me feel awkward and telling me that I’m ugly. At my most vulnerable times she told me I was ugly lie when I just hot braces on my teeth. She bought herself lots of clothes. I got mostly hand me downs or very ugly, age inappropriate (.stuffmy grandmother would wear) new outfits from her. I was never bathed enough and my hair was not styled or even combed properly. So where did this lead? To more rejection!! My classmates must gave picked up pretty quickly on my lack of confidence and of course my unkempt appearance. So all through elementary school I had very few friends sand was bullied, laughed at, called names and left out of parties and other activities the others did.

To this day, I take rejections very hard. I was wondering why it mattered so much that a couple of my neighbors are unfriendly and rude and or a long time I tried harder to. Get them to like me by smiling and trying to be friendly. It find work and I took it hard. Now, with the work Ive done so far with EFB and other sources, Irealuze that what I am taking so hard is not the current neighbor rejection, but the childhood wound. I do have lots of friends now, including in the neighborhood, so it’s not truly devastating if a couple of people font like me, but the REMINDER of the childhood wound is what hurts. Because that wound has not healed yet.

Lately I’ve been working on my mothers invalidating and rejecting. Comments and actions towards me. How she favored my brothers and deprive me of certain things because I was a girl. Of her “ugly” comments and her valuing looks as the only worthwhile attribute a woman can have. And making sure that I would feel that I do jot look good. What a sick way of trying to obtain some feeling of value for herself! So beliefs I had m whole life that made me feel inferior and worthless, I am finally questioning and discovering so many lies! And gradually starting to gain some feelings of self worth.

The harder thing to accept is that my mother just plain did not love me. She was unable to love a girl child. I felt worthless my whole life becaus of her rejection and then my classmates reinforcing the rejection. So how in the midst of all this I met a wonderful guy who I married and have two great children with. And I feel loved but am still haunted by my unresolved feelings of rejection and no being good enough from my childhood

Thanks for listening to my venting! It does feel good to have a place to go to express all of this.


Sorry, I was typing so fast to keep up with the feelings as they were coming out, so lots of typos in my previous message.


Hi Amber,

Thank you, but take care validation is a twin edged sword it cuts both ways.
I was only reflecting the strenght I see in your comments.
As deborah has said when we validate the self from within then we are truely free from the need of it


Hi Everyone,
I’ve read a lot of the information in these posts and I to found that setting boundaries was foreign and alien. I remember once trying set a boundary and was quickly told that “I am who I am & I do what I want when I want to” from my MNPD.. I quit smoking and didn’t want her smoking in my house or my car. so much for that MNPD did what she wanted regardless of what I wanted or needed…
I had a little better luck with a boundary I set recently, it was around how information was to be relayed to me at work, No bad news on Fridays or Mondays, I did this because I needed to be able to go home on the weekends not afraid to go to work on Monday and I needed Mondays to be good so that the tone of the week went well.
I’ve tried some little ones and they seem to be working, too!
Yes, Boundaries are something that We Children of NPD were never taught because that would have been counter productive to the MNPD and Yes, they are hard but a Must in our world! We can only Protect ourselves and this is how it’s all done…
I’m on my way, I even sit up straighter and my load is lighter.
I’m beginning to be Happy like I when I was a little kid… I’m remembering all of the “Very Good Things” people said to me about me and for me… I am trying really hard to put the things that came out of my MNPD’s face that was just plain abusive and ugly and replacing all of the bad stuff with all of the Very Good Things!!! It’s working!!


It is definitely harder than it sounds.

I just told my grandma that I will no longer give away my photos to her for free. She responded by trying to guilt me and saying that she’s always helped me and given me so many gifts (which I offered to return), and decided she didn’t want my photos after all. She wanted to help me out by giving me money before, but when I demand respect and payment for my art, even with a discount, she wants nothing of it. Her loss.

I was angry for a little bit and then realized that I’m not losing anything. It’s easier to set boundaries with her than with my parents because I don’t see her every day now. Her own sister doesn’t talk to her, and I’m seeing more clearly why that is..

marquis (female)
May 1st, 2014 at 10:58 pm


I agree. I did tell my ex-therapist that I am here for ME not THEM and if you wanna entertain me my parents, then come to my house and feed their pity but I will not be tehre to entertain you and them. She sat there looking stupid. I told her ‘that is projection, it’s abusive, and if I were you, I’d shut my mouth before you look even more stupid! What kind of therapist are you? You don’t want me to hit anymore of your credentials right? I haven’t gotten there yet!’ Pure silence.

I had state insurance and they paid for behavioral clinics, so I didn’t have to pay a dime and if I had to use my own money; I’d left her at 6 months that’s what I was gonna do because it was nothing but a yelling match. I told her ‘you need to hit your books a bit harder or better yet use your life experience! She said I know my stuff and I said apparently not I know more than you. Yea, I rubbed it in I am the one who uses my own experiences and the stuff I have read and also came up with a lot of debunking on what society says – knowledge is power!

So yea, I elt she was lousy. I told her how she should be ahsmaed of herself for having sympathy towards the abuser as I shouldn’t be here. I had told this to people long ago and they said to me ‘you just want people to agree with your hate.’ That did it! I said ‘I will not agree with people who feel the abusers have more rights than a victim when the abusers should be punished equally along with the other jerks out there instead of putting them on a pedestal. My feelings is just my feelings and I don’t think I need to associate myself with someone who says I am at fault for something I didn’t do or I made them that way – nobody makes an abuser do anything, they have choices like everybody else. I am not hateful, I feel there should be justice to be done for the victims and I just feel people should utilize their brains a lot more instead of listening to society – anybody who does that really doesn’t have life experience I don’t care how old they are. I am not hateful because I refuse to listen to society and took what society said, questioned and test everything, came up with my own conclusions about life, people, family, etc. I just refuse to be a puppet that’s all.’

So many people shut up after I said that! I still didn’t get any respect (very few) I was called a tyrant, unAmerican (what did politics had to do with it?), against the world, against society, got a whole sleuth of things that was told to me lmao.


I just had an argument with my mom about the same thing I posted about in post #302. I told her I won’t undervalue my art and if she would like to have it, she can pay the price I’m offering (with discount, for “family”). I also offered her a cheaper option but that wasn’t good enough. She wanted it for the little amount she was willing to pay, and I said no. She called me stubborn. But she was the one hellbent on her original plan even after I offered her alternatives.

Funny thing, she cried. It was frightening to be honest. But I only feel a little bad. Maybe not even at all. It’s funny how little remorse I have in this situation. I NEVER see my mom cry. NEVER. Maybe once at a funeral, but never anywhere else. I must be hitting a nerve. I must be getting to the crux of the dysfunction.

And because I am asking for a certain amount of money for my art and will not be undervalued by anyone unlike I was doing before, she is now thinking of charging me rent for living here, when before she was oh so gladly willing to let me live here for free. So because I’m not allowing her to take advantage of me like I always have, she wants to start charging me rent. I’m fine with that. I will likely find a way to leave. If I’m going to be paying to be living somewhere, it might as well be somewhere I feel respected and comfortable.

All of this is very uncomfortable and foreign to me. I don’t know. I feel stuck. I feel like there’s a fear there that’s holding me back from taking the plunge, and doing what I have to do to get myself into a more comfortable, healthy situation.


[…] By Darlene Ouimet: Why Setting Personal Boundaries is Not as Easy as it Sounds […]


Tangie’s words (#25) have been a lifeline for me. Finding this site has me gulping this information down and feeling lightheaded. Thank you for the hope. TMD

Apologies in advance for the length of this, but writing it down helps me sort things out (I’m an internal processor) and hopefully it will strengthen my resolve. We remodeled our kitchen in the last year. My mother wanted to be a part of it because she was a ‘house flipper’ starting back in the 60’s before there was even a name for it. She was a single mother of five back then and had an eye for good bones in dilapidated houses. She was very successful and made a fortune through the years.
She has often said how she wished she had deeper relationships with her children and wished she could have conversations with us that weren’t just about trivial things. All my siblings are out of the area. I’ve always been the peace-maker and will do anything to run away from or avoid conflict. It’s just a lot easier that way.
As I started in Life Skills last year, I made a conscious decision to put the time and effort into allowing her involvement in our remodel. Things went fairly smoothly although she didn’t like my choice of granite or backsplash or pendant lights etc… I was able to stand my ground on nearly everything. For a few things I acquiesced to what she wanted since it just wasn’t worth the angst or argument. With her usual panache, she had my contractor go to her house to pick up an antique rug and put it in my dining room This is why I now have a $7500 rug in my dining room. It’s a rug that I never would have chosen, wrong color, wrong pattern, etc yet, I considered it a bone to throw her to get her off my back about just “trying” it in the dining room.
At other various times, I’d come home and she’d have put some art (from TJ Maxx) up on the walls. When I told her I didn’t like it then she would be very offended and say that I was unappreciative about how she was ‘staging’ my house.
Another issue was a $30 sconce she bought from Habitat for Humanity. She’s just bound and determined to put it up in my house somewhere. I’ve told her time and time again that I don’t like it because one of the lights points in a weird direction and also the scale of it is too skimpy. She then brings more art trying to balance out the sconce. I got a rug for our living room and her first comment was “It’s too small, I’m surprised that someone who’s so particular about scale would purchase such a small rug.”
Along the way, she nearly cost us a relationship with a very dear neighbor by calling in what she considered a code violation on a garden shed our neighbor was having built. The inspector came out and told her she would have to move the shed 20’ back from the fence. The shed was nearly completed when she had to have it moved at a great deal of expense and hassle. The story my mother told is “All I did was ask if the shed would interfere with the sewer line.” Not true, she didn’t like the fact that the shed could be seen from our driveway. She told me so and she also said she called in the violation.
If there’s one thing that’s important to her is that you should always tell the truth (it’s not a lie if she can rationalize it as the ‘right’ thing to do….)
This all leads me to the latest incident. Another bone I threw her was that she wanted to do the landscaping in front. I told her that was fine since we were maxed out on decisions and costs, I figured it couldn’t hurt. Even though the landscaping was finished weeks ago she still comes by with more plants several times a week.
Last Thursday I came home from work to see another bunch of plants in front of the garage. Additionally, she pulled out all my Alstromeria by my front porch because she wanted a different plant there. Anyone who knows me could tell you that if there is a single plant in my yard that I really, really treasure, it’s my Alstromeria. At the time I was having a nervous breakdown about my son so I just put this particular issue with my mother on the back burner. On Friday, I was home preparing for a dinner party for some friends that were coming that night. I look out the window and there’s my mother pulling into the driveway with more plants. I went outside and said to her “Please stop bringing plants, we do not have one square inch for another plant.” (Not to mention the hours we then have to put in to plant them…..) She said, “Don’t worry, I have some ideas…” I also said, “By the way, I’m really pissed that you pulled out all my Alstromeria.” She said “Trust me, you have to thin those plants out.” I said “That’s beside the point, I’m pissed you pulled my plants out.” At that point she started mocking me. Not surprisingly, I exploded and shrieked at her that I know how to take care of my f’n plants, that I’ve been taking care of my f’n plats for 28 f’n years and that I’d never pull them all out at once leaving a pile of rubble and weeds in their place and I didn’t appreciate her pulling them all out! Her response “You don’t seem to appreciate much…..”
I then stomped into the house and slammed the door behind me. Not my finest moment.
I’ve looked at a few websites about dealing with difficult mothers. An excellent website is http://www.emergingfrombroken.com Sadly I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like her nor do I feel any love for her. I put up with her because it’s the right thing to do as a child. I never look forward to seeing her. I constantly walk around looking over my shoulder waiting for the flaming arrow to come shooting at me. No matter what I’ve done or how I’ve tried to have her in my life in small doses, she sabotages the relationship. My sister thinks she’s a narcissist. She looks at everything she does through the lens that she has the very best of intentions so no one should ever be unhappy with what she does.
I don’t know how this is going to play out. The usual way is for her to stew a few days then send a scathing, vicious email detailing my transgressions and disrespect. She’ll also say how since she cannot command respect, she will demand respect. She feels a sense of entitlement that we must respect her because she’s the parent and she’s been generous to us. The biggest thing she’s ever done to me is to leave me ill-equipped to stand up for myself or to expect respect and kindness. I’m just never going to be or do anything good enough.
Listening to some wise counsel in my mind about how God will look out for me, I did find a silver lining. I shared with each of my kids about the incident and explained that with S*****y as a role model for motherhood, I had no idea how to be a mother. I only knew that I wasn’t going to be evil and cruel to my children. I wanted to love them as much as possible and be a part of their lives. This has opened to door to further conversations with both of them.
To make a long story even longer, when I next speak to my mother (Sunday for a family BBQ) I’m going to say the following:
“I’m a smart, decent, capable, creative person. I’m no longer going to have my desires about what I want for my home trivialized or dismissed. I’m no longer going to sacrifice my desires to someone else’s for the sake of keeping the peace. I’m entitled to and deserve kindness, light, happiness, peace and love in my life. I’d like to have relationships built on mutual understanding and respect. I am allowed to choose what treatment I will accept in my life. These are my boundaries and a choice that I’m making which belongs to every human being.”
Based on past experience, I can awfulize how this will be received. Please send prayers my way for the strength to follow through on this.


Help! I haven’t spoken to my mother since the September incident. I’ve heard through the family grapevine that my husband and I don’t appreciate all she’s done for us because we see it as “butting in”. I see it as being bullied and totally having my wants/desires/wishes completely disregarded and trivialized.
My birthday is coming up this week and I’m not looking forward to it at all. Originally my husband, son and I were going out to dinner. Now my sister is coming to town (staying with my mother) and will be expected to join us for dinner. How do I accomplish this without having my mother come? I can remember at least 3 birthdays, as an adult, that she ruined with her vicious tongue that left me speechless (she usually does….) I’m done with that. What kind of person intentionally excludes their mother from a birthday celebration? This is tearing me apart. I just want to sleep through the rest of the week and let the birthday slip by unnoticed. Help! I need some glimmer of hope to hang on to!!!!!


Always remember that YOU have a choice. You could tell your sister / mother exactly what you said here; that your mother has ruined your birthday for the past 3 years at least. As for your question “what kind of person intentionally excludes their mother from a birthday…?”
My answer is: A person who has healthy boundaries and knows that she deserves to have a birthday where SHE is celebrated and not torn down. (that is my nutshell version!)
You ARE the glimmer of hope!!
hugs and love (and happy birthday) ~ Darlene


My mother and I haven’t spoken since September (see post #306). I had the family over for Thanksgiving. She showed up and completely ignored me when I told her she looked beautiful. She left in the middle of dinner.

I just received an e-mail from her saying “I want an apology from YOU”.

The only thing I have to apologize for is that I could have chosen my words more carefully, in the midst of her mocking me, I swore at her.

Any help or advice? I’m feeling like a weak 5 yr old and don’t know how to respond as an adult.


So glad I ran into this blog again. I finished up a 7 week workshop on Courage to Change and we spoke about boundaries. My social worker who runs the group gave us a lot of handouts which are awesome (nothing that my ex-therapist would’ve given me). Boundaries hasn’t been easy for me at all not while living with abusers still have these terrible consequences geared towards me they don’t respect boundaries at all.

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