I grew up emotionally neglected - too much other family stress (alcohol, addictions, poverty, isolation), so it was easier for my parents and relatives to assume I was okay.
I was bullied and sexually assaulted at school, exposed to TV shows on ethnic genocides and torture, etc., all of which unhinged me.
After four deaths in my immediate family, between age eight and 11 when my father died, I became severely depressed and suicidal. There was no support during this time.
I’ve since had therapy off and on for years. I became deeply involved with a spiritual group and a teacher.
I married a man in the group who was alcoholic and abusive, but I had a baby with him anyway.
When my daughter was one-year-old, a woman intuited that I was being abused and told me to get out because the abuse would harm my daughter.
I told my husband that night that we were done!
The family’s matriarch told me to go back to him.
Members of our spiritual group said I was wrong for leaving him.
Yet not one of them asked to hear my side of the story.
All my "closest" family and friends abandoned me.
My daughter’s now 27. It’s taken me 26 years to make peace with my ex. If I wanted a relationship with my daughter, I had to go through him.
I’m still enraged at my original family who never protected me.
I’m also enraged at my “group family” who didn't help where they could.
How can I develop better relations with people who really do care about me and me about them, if I don't move on?
Yet I still want to lash out at many of them, saying, “You didn't believe me or believe in me.”
There ARE some family relations I want to salvage. And some friendships within the group which were amazing, that I want to nurture.
But I don’t know how to address my unresolved rage at being so abandoned when in need.
Dear Readers - A day later, before I could answer, this new email arrived:
Stuck – “It was very cathartic writing to you.
“I spent most of the night in a rage, then working it through.
“I thought: Bad things happen. People are imperfect.
“Because I was neglected and abandoned and abused, doesn’t reflect my value as a person.
“I have a right to feel angry, but I don't have to hold on to that or feed it with more fuel.
“Nor do I have to act it out and hurt anybody, myself included.
“Somewhere in here is acceptance - Yes, these things did happen; Yes, I was hurt and am angry, but the situations are OVER.
“I survived. I’m okay. I can defend myself.
“And I will move on.
“As this rage dissipates, I will be clearer on what, if anything, I need to do.
“I needed now to "let this out" beyond the therapist's office.
“Thank you for being here as a sounding board.”
I am grateful, too, for your openness.
Your story helps readers who’ve suffered similar experiences, discover how “working things through” during and after therapy, can help you achieve new understanding and inner strength.
For those who “tried therapy, but it didn’t work,” I say, try again and/or see a different therapist.
Let time help you get you a clearer view of your past experiences, so you can confront them in the present.
FEEDBACK Regarding the question from a
Concerned Grandma (November 28):
Reader – “I conduct workshops on how to both avoid and report sexual misconduct.
“This grandmother must report, period.
“Warning the parents – who are the perpetrators in this case - can endanger the victims or weaken the resolve of the person reporting.
“I realize this is a family member, and she may feel guilty and conflicted about reporting.
“The agency (whether police or family/children’s services) has a duty to keep confidential the name of the person reporting.
“That can make it easier for a family member to report.
“But going first to the abusers alerts them to the identity of the person who does report later.
“The agency will make all the determination about whether reporting is justified and what the appropriate response should be.
“Attempting any direct intervention just makes it far more relationally complicated and can endanger the well-being of all concerned.”
Tip of the day:
Resolving past traumas calls for professional help and willingness to work it through personally.