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Scars of emotional/sexual abuse

(18 Posts)
cremeeggs Sat 31-Oct-09 13:17:02

I don't really know why i'm posting; just need to offload a bit I think.

To cut a long story short I have been having counselling for a couple of years to talk about some issues from childhood and it seems overwhelming at the moment. I can't function properly at the moment and feel consumed by anger.

basically i remembered I had been abused by my Dad at a very young age (under 4 as he left when I was 4). However the memories are very fragmented and I've spent a long time denying that it actually happened. Added to this I've realised that my Mum, who I've always idolised, actually emotionally abused me throughout my childhood. i was blamed for everything ranging from my parents' breakup to us not having much money. If ever I had to miss school due to a vomit bug I was made to feel like the worst person in the world and the whole family used to join in with the constant teasing - if I ever cried I was stupid, immature and oversensitive; if I dared to voice an opinion I was laughed at. The rest of my family, especially my uncles joined in with the ridiculing. Yet I desperately wanted to be as interesting as them and to be liked or even loved. The only thing i ever managed to do that got me some kind of positive feedback was passing exams - I made sure i was good at that.

Fast forward to now and up until v. recently things have ticked along ok with my Mum in that we see her quite often and she phones once a week - on the surface all is perfectly civil and pleasant. however she only seems interested in appearances - who she's spending Christmas with; who she's going on holiday with etc. I'm half way through a post-grad course but she doesn't even know what subject it's in - I don't think she even remembers I'm doing it. Stuff like that - I have to hear every minute detail of her dealings with her "friends" but she knows zilch about my life and v. little about what the DCs do....
Now I realise it has always been like that. I've never been the child she wanted so she doesn't need to be interested in me....

So I'm finding it so hard to keep it all together. i need to keep a lid on it so my DC have grandparents around, but inside I'm sobbing and screaming with anger and hurt.

Does anyone else with similar experiences have any words of wisdom? I suppose I don't really know how I manage to keep the relationship going when I feel so angry. There is no possibility of ever saying any of this to her - she would make me feel so guilty and everything would be my fault for upsetting her.

warthog Sat 31-Oct-09 14:01:22

i think having grandparent's around, esp ones as toxic as yours is very overrated.

i think you need time to work through this, and that means not seeing her for a while.

have you tried the whole 'writing a letter and burning it' thing?

i think confronting the parent doesn't produce the desired effect: that you want your mother to act like one and treat you like she should. she doesn't sound capable.

so sorry you're going through this.

cremeeggs Sat 31-Oct-09 14:07:27

Thank you Warthog, for being there, for understanding and for recognising the dilemma in a nutshell.

I don't see my Dad at all so he's not part of the grandparent situation - i have a Step-Dad who I've always felt a lot closer to; however recently I've realised that by not standing up for me and by tacitly condoning the behaviour he was actually silently allowing the emotional abuse to happen. This has been a huge shock as I always felt he was my ally; now I realise he was too weak to protest. So yes, you are right, the relationship is toxic but my DCs are totally unaware of any of this and on the surface it's all happy families....

yournotalone Sat 31-Oct-09 14:44:41

Please read my thread I still have my inner core xxx

cheapskatemum Sat 31-Oct-09 23:54:07

I would strongly recommend counselling, your GP should be able to refer you. A very close friend of mine suffered sexual abuse from her father from a young age (not in this country and the father has since died) and she received help from a support group called "Survivors". They were a really great support to her when she was going through a phase like you describe. Good luck and well done for coping so well so far!

cremeeggs Sun 01-Nov-09 10:27:45

Cheapskate than you for your post! I'm already having counselling but to be honest whilst it's certainly helped me connect with how I feel at the moment things feel worse because so much has been dragged up to the durface. i didn't know about Survivors though so will definitely look them up - thank you for telling me about them.

OrdinarySAHM Sun 01-Nov-09 12:02:45

Well done for keeping going with the counselling even though it feels hellish at the moment. This is a horrible stage you have to go through I think before it starts to get better. You need to be allowed to feel all your anger and other feelings about what happened and process them so that you can get some of it out of your body and it stops having so much effect on your present day life through triggered memories/feelings, depression etc. I'm not convinced you can ever get rid of all the bad feelings out of you and never have feelings about what happened but I think it can really be lessened. I know I feel so much better after a year and a bit of therapy.

cremeeggs Sun 01-Nov-09 18:17:19

Thanks ordinary - you sound like you have had similar stuff going on and understand what it's like.....I hope you are right about lessening the pain. I will try to remember that it's normal to feel like this and keep going with the counselling even though I feel like running for the hills!

tasmaniandevilchaser Sun 01-Nov-09 18:29:59

know that it's really hard, but would agree totally with OrdinarySAHM, it's all part of the healing process and it does get better.

I felt exactly the same as you describe 10 yrs ago and I thought that I would never feel better/sane/normal. I didn't know how that would happen. But one day (after a couple of years of counselling) I suddenly thought, 'you know what I'm so fed up with this, talking about it, thinking about it' and it was the beginning of moving on. Hope that helps you.

cremeeggs Sun 01-Nov-09 23:01:49

Thanks Tasmanian it's really nice to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel - it's very hard to envisage ever feeling like that at the moment, i still go from rage to numbness on a permanent basis and it's a horrible state to be in. Was wondering if should give up counselling but actually you have all made me realise in the long run it's better to stick at it.

tasmaniandevilchaser Mon 02-Nov-09 14:57:44

Definitely better to stick at the counselling, it's not the counselling that's making you feel shit! (As long as you have a good counsellor that you're comfortable with.)

I still remember how crazy I felt, totally at sea, like being in a storm. It was so hard to try and get on with everyday life, I felt like I was cracking up every day on the inside, whilst trying to keep a mask of 'normal' on. Counselling helped me to hold it all together, I wouldn't have survived it all without that.

Just after I replied to your post, I opened my book and the first paragraph I read just seemed so relevant to what you're going through, I thought I'd copy it in for you. It's from 'Buddhism for Mothers' by Sarah Napthali. Buddhism may not be your cup of tea, but I found it useful to staying calm when I felt anything but. Anyway, here it is...

(it's talking about how negative feelings are bound to cross our mind at some point and the aim is not to get too attached to them, treat them like visitors, they come and they go)

"When we ignore these visitors or distract ourselves from the presence of disturbing states of mind, we lose touch with our feelings and our wisdom. We might seek to numb ourselves by indulging in alcohol, drugs, shopping, binge eating or blaming. Running away from our problems in this fashion empowers the negative mind states to do more damage than necessary and we miss the opportunity to heal ourselves with awareness.

We may be scared of our mind states. Perhaps we harbour painful memories of times when we let them run out of control or times when we mistook them for who we were. Yet we don't have to act on what we find in our minds, infact, our actions are likely to be wiser if they come from an awareness rather than a denial of our more obnoxious visitors.

Accepting the existence of feelings such as hatred, loneliness, confusion, anger, guilt and resentment, is the only way to transform them into more wholesome states. This is the path to wisdom - accepting life's unpleasantness, without fighting, fleeing or forcing it out of our awareness. We also remind ourselves that by fully experiencing our emotions, we deepen our understanding of others' pain and joy too."

I hope that (rather long!) extract is helpful to you, it just seemed like a happy coincidence that I was reading it right at that time.

Good luck with it all, hope that light at the end of the tunnel reaches you soon

cremeeggs Mon 02-Nov-09 15:31:32

Wow tasmanian that had me in tears!! It really seems to connect with exactly how I'm feeling at the moment and reinforces the light at the end of the tunnel. It's amazing as I'm feeling a lot stronger having read all of these posts and feel re-motivated to continue with the counselling. It's been just what I needed as I was at such a low ebb when I posted my opening message. You seem to know exactly what it's like for me to be going through this - in a way that no-one in RL does - and it's been extremely helpful for me. Thank you smile

tasmaniandevilchaser Tue 03-Nov-09 22:48:38

You're very very welcome, so glad it's been helpful. I thought of you as soon as I read it, sometimes you just stumble across the right thing at the right time.

I remember feeling very alone, didn't know about Mumsnet then! It's hard to talk about this kind of thing in RL with friends etc, sometimes people said unhelpful things when I told them, waffled on about how it had happened to their friend or how the other party must have been messed up themselves, things I wasn't even remotely interested in hearing at the time. That's why counselling is so good, someone can just be with you, while you thrash it all out.

cremeeggs Wed 04-Nov-09 09:17:11

Tasmanian that's so true - all i ever get when I tell RL people (except DH) is that I should feel sorry for my parents as it must be down to their upbringing and they couldn't help it....yeah right so my childhood ruined and me being left with huge emotional scars isn't their faultat some level? I don't hear people excusing convicted criminals in this way but it's funny how as soon as it's about people close to hom the excuses start flowing....

Sorry if I sound bitter-it's really helpful to be able to say all of this on here!

OrdinarySAHM Wed 04-Nov-09 09:18:46

Tasmanian, that Buddhist book sounds good, I think I would find it useful too. Denying my own feelings is something I do a lot. Maybe letting them in as 'visitors' would make it easier to accept them. I wonder if denial of your own feelings is something common to people who have been abused.

tasmaniandevilchaser Thu 05-Nov-09 15:24:13

cremeeggs, let it all out!! I can see how people are trying to help by looking at 'the other side', but can totally empathise that it's not what you need to hear at all. I don't think they understand at all, who can blame them? It's not like a divorce or something you can even talk about with people, dropping it into conversation!! It all has to be 'swept under the carpet' - well that's how it is for me and it's that attitude that did the most damage to me.

So OrdinarySAHM, I would agree with you, denying my feelings is something that was deeply ingrained in me. Until I was 21, and I met a very lovely friend, I had never talked about my feelings, or thought about them even. Maybe because abuse is not something that can be talked about, you have to deny how you feel, just to cope and get on with life?

cremeeggs Thu 05-Nov-09 20:14:55

Tasmanian I have been reading a lot about survivors of childhood abuse and you've hit the nail on the head - as children we learn to cope with abuse by denying the memories of it into our consciousness as it's too awful to accept and contradicts our fundamental need to be cared for by significant adults. That's why, i think, it is so hard to get the feelings out later in life as they have literally been locked in a fort-knox style compartment in the deep recesses of our brains - we have a sense that they are there somewhere but they can take years of therapy to truly reach.

As for sweeping things under the carpet well that is how my (dysfunctional?) family functions so i'm an expert in that too.....

tasmaniandevilchaser Fri 06-Nov-09 22:19:10

that all makes sense, can you recommend any good books about survivors? I can't remember if I read anything during that 'stormy' time....

Actually I do remember one thing I read now, something about an onion analogy. Or was it a corkscrew shape?! Oh dear, can't really remember it at all!! Something about peeling off layers and coming round again to the same issues, thinking that you'd dealt with it and then realising it was coming back again. God this probably doesn't make any sense!!

Anyway, I hope you're getting on ok, not too tied up in onions and corkscrews grin

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