When I was 13, I saw my father beat my mother hard. I ran outside and stayed till he left. He wasn’t getting a chance to beat me.
Mom was the only parent we could count on so there’d be enough food and care for me and my three siblings.
Our dad was with another woman within weeks. I decided nobody would ever hurt me like that. When I started working, I made enough money to live decently and helped my mom to retire.
Now, I’ve met a guy who treats me nicely and respectfully. But I’ve only known him a couple months. He works in my same building, and he invited me to have a coffee with him.
It was so casual and easy that we talked too long and had to rush back to our separate jobs. A week later, he waited for me at the door to the building. He suggested we go for dinner together somewhere else after work.
We talked and walked afterwards for a couple hours. I’ve hung out with very few guys since I moved on my own.
I started dating this man. He’s been gentle and kind, super nice to my mother, kids around with my siblings, and has said the “love” word.
I’m terrified about taking the next step and moving in together, which he wants. He already knows that marriage hasn’t been my personal goal, since I was 13 and saw what can happen.
When with him, I love him. When apart, I think I should run like hell. Please advise me.
It’s understandable that you were so traumatized by the violent beating you witnessed when young and helpless to stop it. You’ve emerged a strong woman of purpose.
Now, there’s a new path for you to explore, i.e., personal counselling to relieve you of the guilt you felt when seeing it happen, and of the fear of someone getting too close to you.
The more recognition of your reaction that you gain from an experienced psychotherapist, (or social work counsellor, psychologist, etc.), the sooner you’ll be able to discuss this with your boyfriend.
Ask him to join the sessions and learn the depths of your fear. You’ll then both be aware of your triggers, how to avoid them and calm yourself.
My 19-year-old daughter has always been athletic, especially as a runner. She trains daily. She dropped out of university this year and has few friends. Running and training are all she wants to do. Should I worry that she doesn’t have a social life?
Your daughter naturally wants you to support her as a runner. She’s come to see that activity as her main identity, not only as a sport. However, she uses it for escape from the social life she doesn’t have to work at, the university she doesn’t have to attend, and the friendships she doesn’t have to develop.
She needs her parents and family to honour her athletic skill.
But also, she needs your help to find the reason for her self-isolation.
Many runners join a club of like-minded athletes and run with a group. It pushes them to do better, learn new techniques, and become better at their sport. So, while encouraging her skills, you can raise the goal of her benefitting from the community of runners.
However, if she remains a loner, you may try to encourage conversation and possibly, counselling. But tread carefully. She’s an adult.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding unfair treatment of two sisters’ children by their grandparents (Jan. 2):
“The writer wants equal treatment for the grandchildren, due to favouritism shown to her older sister. Now, history repeats itself with her own child.
“These grandparents should be told that grandchildren must be treated equally, as a wake-up call.
“The writer has every right to support her child with the goal of achieving equal treatment. At least she has tried.
“I’m the parent of children who are step-grandchildren to one grandparent. Children notice inequities. At one point, my daughter was given a knock-off of a name-brand trendy piece of jewelry. Then she heard her grandmother tell her cousin that her new birthday gift was ‘a real one.’
“Unfortunately, my children understood what was happening, especially in terms of time with grandparents when they were very young. It’s altered their view of their grandmother. And they’ve never really felt ‘equal’ to the other grandchildren.”
Tip of the day:
Past trauma can have lasting effects. But current love and trust can overcome old fears.