To think I can never recover from all this?(25 Posts)
I'll try and keep it as short as possible...
My parents divorced when I was 4. I lived with my father and grandparents at first and then with my father and stepmother when my father remarried about a year later. My stepmother never liked me and used to frequently punch me or hit me with objects. I can remember being made to sit for hours, gagging on meals until my plate was cleared being threatened with it for breakfast if it wasn't finished by bedtime. I can remember lots of dogs that weren't toilet trained and if I got up first I would have to clan up the wet and dirty (dog poo) newspaper from the kitchen. Also had to clean up dog poo from the garden. If I was told to tidy my room, when my father got in from work my stepmother would say it wasn't done. I would get taken upstairs by my father to find it untidy in spite of my having tidied it as my stepmother would have gone upstairs and made a mess there. I would get hit badly for this. I can remember begging my father not to hurt me. When my grandmother noticed bruises on me she was stopped from having any contact. We didn't have any basic care. No decent clothes, hols in our shoes, no one up before school In the morning. Cereal was left in bowls on the table the night before with a bottle of milk. I can remember sitting on the third floor window ledge thinking about jumping out. Then my stepmother told my father that either I went or she did and I was sent to live with my mother and stepfather.
I was hit with a slipper there. By my step father. He also later on sexually abused me. I tues to tell my mother on one occasion and she sent me to my room to think about what I'd said and then let my stepfather come and speak to me in private. He told me that he would go to prison, my mother would be alone and unhappy etc and I should tell my mum I had make it up. So I did. I was around 12 by then. About two years later a friend told me my stepfather had touched her during a sleepover and we told a teacher at school. This eventually resulted in my stepfather being convicted by my Mum stayed married to him and I was put in the child protection register but stayed living there until I couldn't stand it any longer and was fostered. My sister later disclosed that my stepfather had also abused her and my mum then threw him out.
I haven't had any contact with my father since I left there except two occasions. Both times he blamed me for having no contact and I said I didn't wish any further contact if that was how he felt. My grandmother is now in touch with him (more so since my grandfather, who could never forgive him has died) and I feel she greatly minimises the abuse I suffered and this hurts me. I was always very close to my grandmother until quite recently when I feel I gave had to distance myself.
I've had counselling in the past but I don't feel it helped. It has negatively affected all my adult relationships and I'm scared and insecure with no self esteem. I have just started more counselling and my husband and I have arranged marriage counselling, but I feel like I just can't ever recover from my childhood and will be damaged by it forever. AIBU? Can I live a happy life?
Sorry things have been so shit for you. Things can and will get better I'm sure
Oh my gosh, you poor love
I am not going to try for a moment to compare our childhoods as I certainly didn't suffer the level of abuse you did. But I can empathise as I also grew up with my dad's partner (mum died) who resented me and my dad was too weak/controlled to stand up for me.
It changes you unequivocally because you just grow up not being wanted and it stays with you. I can't even start to explain how this influenced me ...
in some ways I'm interested to see replies. But yes, you can recover but it will be with you, it will stay with you. I often look at women my age and I know in a different childhood I'd be like them - just normal I suppose but I'm also very strong and resilient and I bet you are too. Clumsily I suppose I take pride in myself now.
I didn't want to read and run. Your childhood was appalling and you can't change that but you are doing the right thing in getting help. I hope you will be able to come to terms with all that is past.
Sorry you had such a terrible time
You can recover, to a degree, but it never goes away and it can feel like a burden.
If you feel that you're depressed then antidepressants can make a huge difference and help you reclaim the person you're meant to be. They help you feel better about yourself and life in general.
Oh, and you say you've started more conselling - is it CBT or just 'talk it through' counselling? Because CBT can help you change your thought processes and help create permanent change in the way you think about things.
It will always be part of you, but you can build other parts of you too. X
I had an abusive childhood, but nothing like all this. You poor soul, my heart goes out to you.
I feel you're right to persevere with the counselling and therapy; it's quite hard work if done thoroughly, but I found eventually it paid off.
You can't erase the memories, and I never ever forgave my tormentors. But you can come to a point where you can cope with what's in your head. You learn strategies for dealing with thoughts and feelings, and they really do work.
I agree that considering anti-depressants could be a good idea. They give you some peace inside, a bit like a 'holiday' from the anguish.
Like mytartanscarf I now feel stable and strong, and at seventy can say my life eventually became happy and fulfilling. I do so hope you can reach that place too.
I think a bit of counselling does not quite cover what you need, a proper therapy. I would go to GP and set things in motion, or go private if you can.
Furthermore I would suggest no more contact with anyone in your family. They've either abused you or let you down despite knowing you were abused. Those people have no right to any contact.
You can heal. It takes time, a good therapist, and lots of work on your self esteem.
All the best.
Thankyou for the replies.
Mytartanscarf, I'm sorry for the loss of your Mum and that you went through similar. I think I feel a similar way to you. It massively affects my everyday life.
Hiddenhome, I have tried antidepressants before and didn't feel they helped. I have seen my GP but he refused to give me medication. I'm just transferring to a new practice, so will see someone else there. The counselling is normal counselling. I'm on a waiting list for CBT too though. I'm hoping this will help as my emotions get out of control and something as simple as being late for something can mean I have a huge meltdown and can't cope at all.
You been through so much and the help you sought in the past hadn't worked, BUT, that doesn't mean it won't work this time IYSWIM. The most important thing for counselling is to give it time and if you don't like/gel with the counsellor find another.
From my own experience of an abusive childhood has left me with plenty of mental/emotional scars, however, I have found happiness and you will too.
Wishing you all the best.
CBT will help you, glad you're on the waiting list.
Perhaps try a different antidepressant when you're able to. I agree with the poster who described them has giving you a holiday from the anguish.
There's always hope for the future so don't give up. CBT can help you deal with certain things but I also think ink longer term Psychotherapy would help to to help you come to terms with your past, including the abuse. It doesn't take it away - nothing can do that - but if can help you deal with it better, particularly all the emotions surrounding it.
I am so sorry for your pain. I get it. I had a very similar 'childhood'.
I think CBT is good for challenging negative thoughts but it is a short term fix.
Personally, it took about 6 yrs of cognitive analytical therapy to make a lasting difference in my life (I know that sounds like a scary long time).
It's a process and a difficult one, but I'm not sure how possible it is to recover fully without that sort of intense work to repair the damage.
I hope your sessions are helpful at least.
I was horrifically sexually and physically abused and also ended up in foster care and on the child protection register. It has profoundly affected every part of my life and I know that I never recover from it - it's like living with a shadow sometimes. But that doesn't mean I haven't found some happiness - I have a wonderful DH and two children. I sometimes think who would I be if I hadn't been abused - but then I know that I wouldn't have my DH and DC.
It might sound twee but if you are injured physically - then you are left with a scar, or a broken bone or wound which might ache when you are ill/cold/tired. A wound to the psyche is no different - you have mental scars. For me, it hasn't got easier or better, but I have developed skills to help me try and manage my problems - sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.
I am not damaged by my childhood - my childhood was damaged by my parents. It is part of me but not the whole - and I say that as someone who still believes the abuse was my fault on every level except an intellectual one.
CBT may well not be the right therapy as it mostly deals with the here and now, how to cope.
You may need someone analysing where exactly your not coping stems from, to be able to see the connections and move on. Especially as you write about your marriage being affected.
Going back to your childhood and verbalising all the emotions you didn't get (love, support, trust) and uncovering all the unsaid wrongs on another level can help see how you built coping mechanisms that are unhelpful.
Thankyou so much for taking the time to reply. I am so sorry that others have been through similar things, although I know of course they will have done.
JJXM, I don't feel the sexual abuse was my fault, I'm not sure why and I think that is probably the thing that affects me least, although I may be wrong. I do feel that everything combined somehow means it is my fault, that there must be something inherently wrong with me for people to treat me like they have. Of course, like you say, in an intellectual level I know that that almost certainly isn't true, but that doesn't really help me sadly. It hasn't been helped as I have recently been betrayed and hurt by someone I considered a friend.
My husband finds it all very difficult to deal with. He's not perfect, as no one is, but my behaviour can be very difficult at times and he just doesn't know how to help me.
I have thought about going non contact with my Mother and Grandmother, but I think they do both care in their own way. My mother certainly, but she was quite badly damaged by her own childhood I think and suffers from depression. My grandmother I'm not so sure about. She has always done huge amounts to help me in the past, but I feel she treated me as a substitute daughter and now she has her son back she isn't as interested. She will never acknowledge he has ever done anything wrong.
How would I go about finding the therapies mentioned? Psychotherapy, for example? Funds are limited, but it might be possible to fund something privately. I really want to be able to feel better about things, not just for myself but also for my husband and DC.
Can you ask for a psychotherapy referral from your GP? Therapy can help a lot with coping skills. I know what you mean about the idea that the combination of things makes it feel like it's your fault... I think a lot of people feel that way. And actually revictimisation is sadly pretty common, and still ALWAYS the fault of the perpetrators. I read some psychology articles a while ago in which the authors suggested that people who have been victimised develop a dissociation response that stops them from objecting when another person victimises them. It's a survival response that develops in people who are subjected to repeated traumas. And it can be exploited by perpetrators, who then blame their victims. And moreover, victim blaming is incredibly common, and it's all around us in society, and it's very difficult to resist that kind of general social message. As for your family... well, only you can decide how much you can put up with. But therapy could help with that too. I hope things work out for you.
Forever - it's not your fault - you were a child and they were adults - so the responsibility lies with them.
I don't have any contact with my mother because turning a blind eye to your husband abusing your daughter makes her an abuser or at least an enabler. Your mum minimises the abuse because then she can deny her part in it. Also I am a good mum - not perfect - but good enough - just because I was abused doesn't mean I have an excuse to mess up my children's lives - I've made a pact with myself that the cycle of abuse stops here so although I have severe mental problems, the gift I can give to my children is that they don't carry the burdens of abuse from previous generations.
CBT is useful for many people but definitely not for me - it's very difficult to overcome behaviours developed in childhood in 6-18 sessions. Are you involved with the mental health services in your area? If not, go to your GP and ask to be referred - you will have to be firm and there will be a waiting list but it will be worth it. Good luck.
What a terrible childhood you have endured. A long, dark shadow cast across your life.
But yes, absolutely you can reduce the size and reach of the shadow so long as you get good support. Really good, professional help.
To be honest with you, the distress is unlikely to be relieved within a few sessions of counselling. If you can, approach it as a problem that deserves your every attention and commitment to resolve.
I tried the occasional counsellor but didn't really get anywhere until I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed meds and also a treatment called EMDR which assists with processing of traumatic memories. I was prepared to attend 6 sessions but it was so effective that I only needed 3. Not to suggest that this is what you will need but I think you really get your money's worth with a good psychiatrist instead of faffing about with counselling.
Once my trauma had subsided, I go on with managing depression and anxiety by starting with a psychotherapist - and ended up going weekly for 5 yrs!
I realise this may not be what you want to hear as it may seem a daunting prospect, but when you think about the thousands of hours you have spent in distress, it is kind of understandable that it is going to take a considerable period of time to unravel some damage and find some peace.
It is worth every minute and every penny for without good mental health, life is very difficult indeed. And I think you have suffered too much already.
I agree with others that in this sort of situation quite long-term psychotherapy is probably needed. Although you may find things like antidepressants or CBT helpful in the short term, deeper healing probably requires you to form quite a deep, trusting relationship with a therapist - to "bond" with a therapist a bit as one would a parent - and that takes time for anyone and is likely in particular to take time for you given that as far as I can tell every single adult in your childhood rejected you and let you down in one way or another. Given this history it is not surprising that you find relationships difficult - in fact it would be odd if you didn't! Psychotherapy is expensive, but in some areas/situations you can get it on the NHS, and also a lot of therapists offer sliding scales depending on income etc. It can also be possible to pay reduced rates for a therapist who is not yet fully qualified (but will already have some experience), especially if you are in a big city where people are training. This website can help you find someone: www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/therapists
It's a good idea to try initial sessions with several when you are looking. I find this stage incredibly exhausting as you steel yourself to explain your situation/background to several new people in a short space of time, but it is worth it to make sure you get a good match.
Therapy is definitely definitely the best thing I have ever done for my own happiness and for my relationships. It's a bit 'out of fashion' at the moment but it has made a huge difference to me.
You might also want to look at the 'stately homes' thread? Despite the title, it's for people who are coming to terms with unhappy/abusive family situations when they were children.
Forgot to say: effective therapy can seem to make things worse to start with, because once it starts to get under your defences you will feel very vulnerable/out of control. It does take courage to stick with it but it is so worth it.
Sugarman, did you pay privately to see psychiatrist as well as psychotherapy? Roughly what were the costs?
Kalidasa, how long did you have therapy for? Did u also try hypnotherapy, that is also supposed to be good for trauma and releasing negative associations with past, inner child work?
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