I’m the eldest daughter, adopted. My sister was adopted next, from a different mother. Years later, our parents had two natural sons.
Our mother abused alcohol and Valium, using physical abuse, threatening, and screeching to keep my sister and I doing all the housework and many child-rearing responsibilities, most of them mine.
My aunt and many other extended family members watched her abuse us but didn’t intervene (frightened of her themselves).
I was also sexual assaulted at 11 by a trusted adult who was involved in my life in a professional capacity. Because my mother was working, and frequently intoxicated, I visited this person alone.
Years later, my mother still had difficulty confirming to an investigator that she’d ever taken me to see this person, concerned with how it’d make her look.
I left home at 17.
After years of therapy, I still must take medications in order to sleep through a night. I have flashbacks several times daily. Three years ago, some serious life events happened within one year and I became suicidal-depressed. I had no money so waited six months for free counselling.
I reached out to family and friends, but some didn’t understand why the past tortured me again. Now I finally have professional help and am no longer suicidal but daily life continues as a serious struggle.
My aunt insisted that I check myself into a hospital's psychiatric ward. But hospitals don’t treat patients who aren’t a danger to themselves or others.
My aunt used this as an excuse to stop speaking to me. My sister has also done some cruel and selfish things to me over the years.
I thought I’d always have my sister and aunt in my life, but it's been several months since they refused contact with me.
My heart aches for them.
How can I move on from being given up on by my family? Why did they leave me?
The fact that you’ve survived so much physical, emotional and sexual abuse in your past is the strong ray of hope that you can and will move on from this current trauma.
You had the courage to leave home when still a teenager. And you’ve managed to move forward through your life by learning what help you needed and going after it.
Other family members were also damaged by those past cruel events - your aunt as a frightened, gutless witness, your sister as a victim who wants to avoid remembering it with you.
They’re left weak, lacking the grit and determination that keeps you going. Take care of you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the late-30s woman trying to find a man who's seriously seeking a relationship (Dec. 20):
Reader – “She's wasting her time having sex with men before she's ready, or too soon.
"If they don't want to take it slow, they're not for her. Unfortunately, most men – I’ve had years of experience – will either say whatever you want to hear to get sex, or they “think” they want a relationship but are emotionally/commitment avoidant.
“She has to test guys first to see how willing they are to put in some effort. She’ll waste less time and heart-space on guys who don't deserve her.
“If she misses sex, she can always find a Friend with Benefits, or two. The better she gets at screening bozos the more time she'll have looking for a “decent” man online. Yes, they're out there… but they're like needles in the haystack.”
Reader #2 – “Does “no sex before marriage” no longer exist? Why are women and men being pushed into feeling they must “sample the goods before making the purchase?”
“Are the good-old-days gone when women and men waited until marriage for sex that can be more satisfying and exciting than ripping off clothes after dinner, dancing and a few drinks on the first date or even the third?
“Where are our values? I get laughed at by friends when I suggest that women and girls must wait until marriage for sex. Respect themselves and their bodies, and they’ll find the right man.”
Ellie – Your view works for some people. But values are personal, so women/men who want to engage in sex before marriage do so by choice… until and unless they decide to do otherwise.
My job is to respond to those who write of being unhappy with how they’ve been handling dating/sex so far… not to preach.
Tip of the day:
A person’s hard journey from pain to inner strength can’t depend on those who are weak and frightened.