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


312 response to "Why Setting Personal Boundaries is Not as Easy as it Sounds"

  1. By: Erin Posted: 15th February

    All is fine. Safari. Sc, us.

  2. By: marquis (female) Posted: 17th December

    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.

  3. By: TMD Posted: 16th December

    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.

  4. By: TMD Posted: 27th October

    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!!!!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th October

      Hi TMD
      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

  5. By: TMD Posted: 24th September

    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.

  6. By: L Posted: 2nd May

    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.

  7. By: marquis (female) Posted: 1st May


    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.

  8. By: L Posted: 1st May

    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..

  9. By: kelly Posted: 1st May

    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!!

  10. By: Colin Posted: 17th February

    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

  11. By: Amber Posted: 17th February

    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.

  12. By: Amber Posted: 17th February

    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.

  13. By: Colin Posted: 17th February

    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.

  14. By: Colin Posted: 17th February

    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.

  15. By: Amber Posted: 17th February

    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.

  16. By: Colin Posted: 17th February

    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

  17. By: scarlett Posted: 17th February


  18. By: scarlett Posted: 17th February


  19. By: Colin Posted: 17th February

    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.

  20. By: Colin Posted: 17th February

    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.

  21. By: Deborah Posted: 17th February

    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.

  22. By: Deborah Posted: 17th February

    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.

  23. By: Deborah Posted: 17th February

    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.

  24. By: Deborah Posted: 17th February

    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.

  25. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th February

    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

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