Wanting a sign to move one

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    Hi Anita or others.

    I’ve created this thread to be able to come to terms with things I did as a child. Although I looked like a rather innocent child, I remember feeling like a fraud already from an early age, due to two events that have transpired at the ages of 6 and 15 (I looked like a twelve-year old).

    The original story is located in ‘Letting Go of Childhood Mistakes’, which I will not repeat, but rather add to it. And leave out any sexual details, as I understand this could leave wrong impressions on influencable minds, for which I am sorry (unfortunately, I cannot remove it).

    One was playing doctor as kids with my twin brother and a girl of the same age that is very engrained in my mind and which I don’t know how sorry I should feel about it. The girl in question seemed to have liked me always, but minds do weird things, so I don’t know if my bad memory comes from feeling shame upon the entrance of my mother, or frustration that my brother was around and to this day I often ponder if he would fall in love with the same woman as I do, or if it is because I feel like I hurt her. When I distance myself from the events and imagine other people do the same, then I would not judge them, but then again: how accurate are my memories?

    The other story, that I find much more disturbing because I was in a trance-like state that I never want to feel again and felt like an aggressor afterwards (because my brother suggested to me that he “felt raped” and because he would sometimes lightly bully me some years after) is concerned about a night me and my twin brother spent at our aunt’s in the same bed (which we have always hated). But it escalated following a period of on-setting puberty hormones and watching x-rated content; in short I was having contact- and mindlessly attempted- an intrusive act after an initial consensual start.

    The attempt – not forcibly, but an attempt nonetheless- did not meet a ‘no’ or movement from my brother who is physically as strong as me but perhaps emotionally weaker as I’ve been an emotional crutch to him as to others on many occasions throughout my life.

    I wonder if this incident would just be a distant memory if the following had not happened the year afterwards;

    him failing his grade and having to go to a lower grade. Prior to the incident both our grades were already falling due to gaming addiction (afterwards I’d come to realise that the gaming addiction was a way out of the stressful school environment and home environment. But not abusive). But that year post-incident I managed to save my grades and just switched school, but my brother lost his after an initial good halve of the school year.
    He was also being bullied by a big girl who’d often mock him.

    In the remaining highschool years he was also set-up to take care of a handicapped person in his new school. As noble as it sounds, the handicapped person bossed him around, and my brother lacked the confidence to object.

    Fast-forward; my brother almost failed high school and had depression in those last two years. After high-school he followed me to law school which made us both fail, especially as I just felt like a caretaker spurring him on.

    After law school I succesfully – but with panic attacks- finished marketing. In those years (4 years), he just stayed home doing nothing but gaming, partying, playing sports,… I cannot understand why my parents did not intervene more, but that is another matter.

    Eventually those years proved too much and he collapsed for a period of 2-3 years prior to his first succesful (current) job. Thos years also left me home-bounded as our mother had cancer and I felt the need to take care of chores and also watching over my brother who was very unhinged at times due to substance abuse.
    He had one focal point during those years: and it was an obsession with some girl who was merely flirting.

    Now my brother is doing relatively well, perhaps better than me. You can probably imagine how I associater these troubled years to the incident that night at our aunt’s.


    Anita, you mentioned this 3Thing about morality, is that it is not about what makes you feel better or worse, it is about what behaviors are right (not harmful to others) and what behaviors are wrong (harmful to others).”

    My point-of-view is that I only want to feel better if it’s deserved. However, as damaged as I am myself, I do not want to feel better if I have damaged others.

    I mentioned in the other thread that I am doing zazen. And sometimes during excerted zazen, I can feel warmth and my mind opening up and then my bad memories seem like a distant shout. And at those times, I believe people who say that I’m needlessly beating myself up for things I did as a kid.>
    But when I dig in my memories again, I find that I cannot (even though I’ve lived for 30 years and there have to be some) summon good memories. Seems like all my reference points from childhood are bad memories. And then, especially with hindsight on the above incidents, I feel like I should not even try to attain happiness, that I’ve lost my chance long ago.

    Even if I was a clueless kid, even then.





    Dear Hector:

    You wrote regarding the four years you attended law/ marketing school, that your brother stayed at home “doing nothing but gaming, partying, playing sports”, and you wrote: “I cannot understand why my parents did not intervene more, but that is another matter“-

    – But it is not another matter. Nor is the question of why your parents did not parent you and your brother well and why they didn’t supervise you “another matter”.

    It is what children do: take responsibility for everything wrong that happens in their lives as children, relieving their parents from any responsibility. It is as if a child is supposed to know right-and-wrong, without any guidance. Or even worse: parents can behave in harmful ways toward each other and toward their children, and yet, they expect their children to.. miraculously be unaffected by what they witness.

    Your tendency, Hector, is to focus on what you did and how what you did harmed others. You focus on one corner of the big picture. The “sign to move on” (in the title of your thread: “Wanting a sign to move on”) is in seeing the bigger picture. You may not want to look at the bigger picture, it may not feel good, but it is necessary.. if you want that sign.

    And so, you are welcome to tell me about your home life (that which you referred to as “another matter”, and which I say, may matter significantly).



    Thank you for your help Anita,

    It should be noted that I still live at home, as does my brother. Moving out ceryainlu is expensive here (Western-Europe) especially if you don’t have a job.

    But it’s also true that I somehow feel enchained to this place out of fear that things go wrong again. But my therapist helped me in decreasing those feelings. Now, as soon as I gof a job again, I’m moving out.


    Financially our parents have  always provided, as is evident from the above. But I do not know of any signs of affection between them, they even sleep apart.

    My father is knowledgeable but clumsy in anything regarding household chores, doing laundry etc. Also picking up social signs, like people who are bored listening to his stories,  he is bad at.

    I’m not. I’m very good at seeing people’s feelings and signals. You know how women  aay that men cannot interpret their subtle details? Not me, I will  notice quickly.  But not act upon it, as I feel like a fraud. Like an ex-con in nice clothes.

    My mother on the other hand is socially apt, but has often downplayed my father. Not that this happens daily, but it happens. It qas only since age 22 though, that I realised that she’s been good at playing victim all of her life.

    Now, I’m closer to my father than to my mother. Because my  father, as clumsy as he is, is honest, where my mother’s world is centred around her feelings. Though she means well at her core.

    We never eat together, save special occasions and then the ‘warmth’ feels forced. We used to, though, but it wasn’t really cozy.

    In short, my father’s never been a role-model and my mother is a bit self-centred.

    But we’ve never been beaten, never been abused, save perhaps the times our mother would come home in our early teens and find that  we hadn’t cleaned up and would call us a word in Dutch that means ‘worth nothings’ but sounds harder in English.


    As time goes by, my father gets more OCD (checking lights, counting, etc.) and I’m sure he is depressed as he spends more and more time in his couch sleeping (he works less because his pension is around the corner).

    And my mother has some side-effects still from her chemotherapy (she’s cured), that bring on discomfort. She’s not what she used to be. The chemo therapy has effectively made her dumber and I wonder if she even knows what I told her 15 years ago (incident).


    Dear Hector:

    You are welcome.

    Can you elaborate on these two items:

    1. “she’s good at playing victim all her life”.

    2. “my mother’s world is centered around her feelings”.




    Well, it’s that I’ve discerned (since age 22) that whenever my mother had a dispute or a minor conflict with anyone, be it colleagues or my father, she would quickly invoke how she felt. Which did mostly ignore her own actions in the process.

    Like in their marriage- I cannot come up with a quick specific example now- my mother would, together with her sisters, always complain at the deficits that my dad clearly has.

    But she would fail to see her own shortcomings.


    The thing is, she means well. She’s just nor aware.  And her sisters, my aunts (6), are to varying degrees all a bit like this.

    But in a way it’s good that she was like that, as I try to look at all sides of a conflict now. I don’t think I’d do that without recognising this pattern.


    Dear Hector:

    Your mother always complained about the deficits that you father clearly has, you wrote.

    But your father did not complain about the deficits your mother had, did he. Imagine your father complaining about your mother’s deficits in the ways she complained about his, what would he say?

    (You may feel uncomfortable sharing about your parents, and answering this question, so much so that it is easier to focus on the sexual topics, but, again the “sign to move on” may be in your answers to my questions).



    Dear  Anita,


    Thank you. No it’s not so hard.

    You’re right, my father didn’t complain. He often- still does- by means of some anecdotal overcompensations like presents on mother’s day or learning to cook some dish, or doing his own laundry for once, get my mother’s approval.

    And whenever there was an argument, if he’s right or wrong, it would always be hum who tried to make peace.

    But: he does snore in front of the tv, he’s always late wherever he goes (due to OCD), and he’s very bad at trying to create a good mood (forced small talk). Moreover, anything that involves chores he’s so bad at that he frequently asks instructions.


    It does feel like me and my brother were the fruit of a loveless marriage that should have not taken place. Of a mother who wanted  kids (she was already 31 I think) and a father who was just glad someone good-looking picked him (my mother was beautiful when she was younger).



    Dear Hector:

    If your mother was indeed “beautiful when she was younger” (and seems like she has let your father known that she did him a big favor marrying a man inferior to her), he paid a heavy price for her physical beauty. The heavy price he paid was to receive her generous disapproval and ongoing criticism. Her ongoing disapproval and criticism probably triggered, maintained and/ or aggravated his OCD.

    “anything that involves chores he’s so bad at that he frequently asks instructions”- she criticized him so heavily about how he did chores, that he lost confidence in his ability to do them well without her instructions.

    He still tries to win her approval: “presents on mother’s day.. doing his own laundry for once, to get my mother’s approval”- I can almost hear your mother saying to him, repeatedly: When will you do your own laundry for once! I am tired of doing your laundry! And when he did his laundry, I imagine her saying: The clothes came out dirty! You can’t do anything right!

    * She will not give him her approval, she prefers to keep herself allegedly superior to him.

    “It does feel like me and my brother were the fruit of a loveless marriage”- reads to me that you and your brother were the fruit of an emotionally abusive marriage, where your mother has kept your father in a forever seeking approval, never good enough inferior position.

    I can understand now why you were so intensely affected by that look of disapproval that she gave you when she caught you playing doctor with the girl- she is very effective and experienced in delivering powerful disapproving messages, via facial expressions, tone of voice, and words.

    * If she has been that harmful to your father, whom she met when he was an adult, I can only imagine how harmful she has been to two young boys under her dominant, oppressive dominion.



    Dear Anita,

    It’s not like that. It’s much more subtle.

    Percentage-wise I would say it’s probably 55-60 percent of the level in your text. My father has always been odd, but it does get more severe as he ages.

    Both of them, when arguing, would at times invoke arguments about one another’s family.
    As a mother she has been kind mostly, except for some yelling when she was distressed (and probably depressed). Some good memories do exist, like the times she would join me or my brother in bed after a bad dream until we were asleep.

    I don’t think she can be called oppressive. More entitled, I ‘d say. From what I have discerned over the years I think she’s alwats projected her happiness on the classic instruments of a good, strong husband, a very nice house and a socialle desirable circle of friends. When she realised this was not the case, she started finding reasons external of her own, instead of reframing her happiness.




    Dear Hector:

    You are very protective of your mother, portraying her in the best light, with understanding and  sympathy: “she has been kind mostly, except for some yelling when she was distressed (and probably depressed)”- mostly kind, except when she yells. excusing her yelling by stating there was an understandable reason for her to yell: her distress, her depression.. (and having an odd man for a husband, one who will not wash his own laundry, and who snores in front of the TV, etc., etc.)

    “I don’t think she can be called oppressive. More entitled” – sounds better to refer to her as entitled than as oppressive, a less negative adjective. You are trying to show your mother as positively as possible.

    “she means well. She’s just not aware”- being unaware sounds less negative than having bad intentions.

    “And her sister,, are .. all a bit like this“- it’s not just her, it’s all of them- makes her look not as bad than if she was the only one.. like this.

    Seeing your mother in the most positive way possible for you makes it easier for you to live with her. It is very, very common for children, of minor age and adults, to be very protective of their parent’s image. It is especially true to children who suffered in their childhood because of their parent’s behavior- to protect their parent’s image and present them in the best possible light.

    Problem is that a child’s image is very much connected to his parent’s image (I am using parent as a singular, referring to the dominant parent in the household), so when you hold on to an incorrect, overly positive image of your mother, you are also holding on to an incorrect, overly negative image of yourself.

    You excused your mother’s yelling by saying that she yells because she is distressed and depressed, but you didn’t excuse or explain your heightened sexual activity as a child because you were distressed or depressed. You may assign your mother’s misbehavior to having an inadequate husband, but you didn’t assign your sexual misbehavior to having an.. complaining, disapproving, overly critical mother.

    * The “sign to move on”, I believe at this point, is to see your mother accurately, and in so doing, you will see yourself correctly, and when that happens, the image you will see of yourself is way, way better than what you’ve seen so far, for so long.

    I am not focused enough to  continue our communication today. You are welcome to post to me and if you do, I will reply further to you tomorrow morning, in about 16 hours from now.



    Thank you for all your help Anita,


    I think I may be overprotecting her a bit. But I’m also quite sure that she’s not as bad as you interpreted it (perhaps due to my writing). I know that she’s good at her core, but I also know – yes- that she handles negative emotions in a bad way, externalising it to others.

    As a matter of fact, some 2 months ago I brought it up when I was anger and downtrodden that it was hard to have never seen affection between her and our father. She looked like she’s understood it and perhaps she did. She said “I can imagine that”.

    But I also pressed onto her that “don’t think it’s only our father’s fault”. Just to make sure.


    I have to agree with you though, that seeing the whole picture (temporarily at least) brings the incidents to a level where I can say ‘this was me as a kid, in a certain situation, with a certain atmosphere’. I’ll do some more zazen to further still the mind.

    Do you think zazen is recommended in my state of mind?


    Thank you very much Anita.


    Dear Hector:

    I don’t know if you noticed, but I wrote to you in my recent post that I will read further posts by you and reply in about 16 hours from now. I am not focused enough to continue at this point. You are welcome to re-read our communication so far and post more. I will read your most recent post and anything you may add to it when I am back to your thread.



    I don’t know if you noticed, but I wrote to you in my recent post that I will read further posts by you and reply in about 16 hours from now. I am not focused enough to continue at this point.

    Yes, of course. I should have mentioned that I was aware. I’ll add that after this night (Western-Europe) I’ve come to the conclusion that you are right. Me and my brother have been emotionally abused, and our father as well. But I also want to stress that my mother thinks she didn’t do much wrong, which is perhaps problematic as well, not to be able to see shortcomings. Although, since her chemo – as mentioned earlier- she’s become noticeable dumber (intellectual forgetfulness), but has also become more childlike in a way and much much more emotional. I think she perhaps grasps something and her pains that still bother her body are perhaps a sign of this. But I digress.

    I will go to my therapist with the insights you’ve provided for me. If she’s not willing to go along or understand, as friendly as she is, I will have to find another therapist. But it will be hard, as we’ve become almost friends.

    Are you enlightened? Have you attained satori? With the accuracy and speed you are helping people on this website, I would think you are. As it is almost supernaturtal abilities you have, the sort of which I’ve come to associate with human beings having reached satori.


    I also want to add that, with the new insights I’ve accepted, that my sense-of-self has shifted from feeling an unworthy perpetrator to an unworthy perpetrator/ victim. But it does not make it easier, far from it. But I think it is needed if I’m to save my current existence.

    Lastly, I wish I could stop trying to figure out what my brother (mainly), my father, my mother and even friends and past crushes (whom I’ve kept at bay due to unworthiness) are thinking and feeling. One thing I’ve learned from Zen Buddhism but fail to integrate is that you should be concerned with reaching enlightenment instead of trying to help others, because if you’re not enlightened your help is inadequate.


    Dear Hector:

    I don’t remember ever considering that I may be enlightened. I’ve spent about 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, for over five years,  interacting with many hundreds of members from all over the world, for many months and years with dozens of members. In my interactions (all on record here), my goal was to learn about myself/others, using these forums here,  as a kind of online university where I direct my own learning, It is not an academic learning, as in placing a specimen (human brain/ motivations/ behaviors) under the microscope and studying it as something external to me; it is an inside-out learning, where I study a person and myself at the same time, placing both under the microscope, so to speak. After all this time of hard work, I got to be good at understanding others/myself.

    I will now read your posts on the other thread, quote from you and comment on what you wrote there. I suggest that you take your time reading this before you reply, if you choose to reply. (No reason to rush- I’ve been here since May 2015 and I am not going anywhere):

    “I feel unworthy of love, like a fraud waiting to be found out. Many Men and women think I’m a good guy, which hurts the most..  I feel utterly unworthy.. I’ve got quite a lot of opportunities to female affection but whenever I even start thinking about it, the sign in my head goes up ‘not for you‘… She  opened the door.. (her) facial expression.. has been the root cause of my feelings as a fraud throughout life whenever anyone would deem me a good guy, worthy of love, etc.”-

    – you remember your mother’s strong disapproving facial expression directed at you when you were 5 or 6. It was not the only time she expressed  her disapproval of you, but it is the one time you remember well.

    Nothing is more convincing to a young child than his mother’s disapproval (or father’s, depending on who spends most time with the child and/or who the child looks up to as the strong parent). A mother’s strong disapproval of her child, when repeated, and when  the mother does not show the child clearly how to win her approval, is a death sentence to the child’s sense of worth and of being a good person. The child reacts to her  disapproval by believing that he/ she is a bad person who is not worthy of anything good.

    To believe what I just stated is devastating- it is like being caged in a prison cell of guilt, separated from anything good out there (“not for you“), wanting out but not knowing how to get out.

    “at the age  of 11.. I felt uncomfortable, unworthy. Also guilty”- by the age of 11, you spent five or six years in that prison I mentioned, a prison of shame (I am a bad person) and guilt (I did terribly things).

    “deep down, I think that maybe I’ve ruined (Lisa)”- the belief is that you are so bad that you ruin people- it is a “deep down” strong belief.

    “we were 15.. puberty hormones had started.. we had started to watch porn.. Shortly after, we had already been playing around dry humping for some months.. That, I felt, was still somewhat ‘okay’- even if embarrassing, as many other teenage boys did far worse things”-

    – by the age of 15, you spent about 10 years in that prison cell of unworthiness. Anything good- was not for you.

    It is not possible for a person to deprive himself from any and all pleasures every day, all day long, day after day, week after week- the brain/ body desires a break from misery. This desire from imposed misery is why many people let go  of all restrains and binge-eat large  amounts of tasty food- they kind of.. steal moments of joy. They  reason: I will take ten minutes and enjoy myself the most in these ten minutes, eat whatever I want- so they do and then resume their pleasure-is-not-for-me policy.

    Other people will take those breaks otherwise, like dry humping; you took your breaks from misery and then resumed your otherwise pleasure-is-not-for-me policy.

    One of those breaks you took escalated (“high on hormones.. the hormones were too strong”-  sex drive hormones, like Testosterone), similar to an eating binge escalating (high on appetite-drive  hormones, like Leptin), to the point of throwing up.

    Think of this: very heterosexual men in prison experience their sexual pleasure with other men because they need pleasure, and only men are available. Being in your own prison, where you lived, who was there that was available to you but the same age other boy? Who was available to him but the same age other boy in the home?

    “At the age of 25 he collapsed, became bipolar.. He’s had many therapists during that time”, “when he was completely dazed on alcohol and sleeping pills, asking him if I’d done something to him that made his mind so tortured?.. Does he feel emasculated because  of the incident?”

    Let’s look at the emasculation issue: who in your household emasculated your father? Answer: not you. Your mother emasculated your father.

    Who has been the most powerful  person in your young life? Answer: your mother (the dominant/ masculine parent of the two).

    Who has been the most powerful person in your brother’s young life? Answer: same answer.

    The two of you were young, same age (twins)  boys under the power of your mother. You look at her now, as an adult, and you see a “noticeable dumber.. childlike in a way and much, much more emotional” woman of your size or smaller, and it is hard to imagine her as so very powerful. But in a young boy’s life, his mother is god.

    Your mother weakened/ emasculated all three male members of the family. All three males suffered because of her behavior. You and your twin brother are her victims from childhood. Your brother is not your victim and you are not his victim. Both are victims of your mother.

    (I don’t think your father or your brother want to talk about it, or ever will. Not unless either one goes to therapy and is invested in therapy. If I was you, I wouldn’t talk about it with them- they are likely to deny any or all  of it and cause you confusion).

    Back to the devastating belief of being unworthy, the “not for you” belief. I wrote earlier that it is a death sentence, but not quiet. As humans, because of our ability to think and communicate using an elaborate language, unlike any other animal, we can initiate a healing process that includes changing core beliefs formed early in childhood. It is a long process that takes incredible persistence and patience.

    I will stop here for now.





    Dear Anita,

    It’s hard to read this, very hard.

    I want to state that feeling “not for you” was never at one point suggested by our mother. The facial expression I hinted at earlier, also did not express disapproval as I remember it, but shock/ startling/ baffling/ not knowing what to do.

    I do not remember how it was then, that we left the room. Did she spur us on, or say anthing at all? I don’t recall this. I believe we just left and maybe were already packing up (so to speak) when we heard her coming up the stairs. I also remember now, that Lisa looked embarassed.

    At another point in our lives- I think it must have been maximum 2 years after the incident with Lisa, our mother was physically ill (a passing illness). She was lying in the couch in much pain and our dad was seeing a client of his. So me and my brother offered to make her something: rice I believe, for her upset stomach. She didn’t flat-out refuse but asked something in the vein of “you’re sure you’ve got this, boys?”

    We insisted and started to boil water. However, as we were still really short it went wrong and we got splashes of semi-boiling water on our faces and necks and arms.

    We both hurted a lot but decided to just stay quiet and finish what we were doing. It was not too difficult as our mother had her eyes closed. Then we went to bed (shared bedroom, different beds) and managed, with pain, to sleep through the night. It must have been weekend or holidays.

    The following morning we still were in pain of course and our mother was almost recovered and then noticed.a she was very concerned and asked us “but why didn’t you tell me?”

    I do not remember how we got the burns healed afterwards, but it was edtablised that they were first degree burns, so perhaps we’d been to a doctor. Anyhow, the wounds healed completely, without any scar tissue.

    I wanted to relate this, because while it is perhaps true that she bore a certain emotional dominance over us,  she was in fact concerned about our wellbeing.

    But she was emotionally not there when we needed it the most (sexual education e.g. talking to us after the incident with Lisa could’ve made a big difference, seeing that  we were in distress during the years of yelling).


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