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I am very sorry to hear about this extremely difficult situation you are dealing with. I can only imagine your shock when you found out about this and how this has affected the whole family in different ways as you very clearly described.
I believe that someone would need to look at each one's experience of this individually, what are their perceptions of this and their feelings and thoughts. I imagine that your daughter has been severely traumatized by this and she is doing well at engaging with a therapist. One can only imagine the damage that this past ongoing experience has done to her. She has a long way ahead of her to try and resolve and possible accept some aspects of this. I would assume that she will be torturing herself with guilty feelings of why she did not do anything to stop the abuse when she was a child. This is very common with abused victims and can torment a person. I also assume (but I may be mistaken) that it is possible that you may have guilty thoughts as well about why you were not there for her and why she did not feel comfortable enough to tell you sooner. You said that you both feel like failures in your role. I guess this also makes you feel powerless to handle the situation now as someone who feels a failure does not believe that they can help in any way or succeed in their efforts. This way of thinking seems to put a lot of pressure on you. You also said that you feel that everyone is expecting you to handle the situation. I can only imagine how that makes you feel, the burden and the responsibility to puts on you. Linking this to my previous thought, feeling a failure and at the same time feeling responsible to "resolve" this can only bring an intense conflict in you as you feel helpless, powerless and unable to resolve this crisis since you feel that you are a failure. It sounds like you feel trapped and when people feel trapped cannot often see things clearly and in the right perception.
As far as your eldest son is concerned, I would imagine that he may be feeling also responsible for not being able to protect his younger sister during those incidents. Therefore there is a strong chance that he also feels like a failure as a brother. His anger and bitterness towards his brother is very understandable.
Now going to you son in question, it would be very difficult to imagine how he must be feeling like. There is some possibility that he feels remorse but does not know how to handle with his guilt. However, since he has not made any moves you could not possibly know how he feels. Therefore, this would be a challenge for you as you are not in a position to explain his behavior back then since he has not opened up about it. As much as you may feel disgusted about his actions, you do not know how to feel about him and this creates another conflict for you.
To sum up, I would like to stress that what you need at the moment is to take in all that has happened. You need to explore your feelings about this but also empathize with the others' feelings and understand how this event has affected you each. Your role could be the supportive one towards your daughter and your eldest son, encourage them to talk about how they have been affected, how they feel about this. Obviously your daughter would find this very hard at the beginning. Your wife needs to support you in this as you share the same role in the family. And this is what you would need to give them as a message at the end of all... that you are still a family and that you will work through this. It is going to take time for all of you but you need to stick together and express your feelings to each other, your hurt, your pain, you guilty feelings, your feelings of being a failure and your helplessness. Arrange family gatherings and encourage them to talk about it.
In similar cases, when there is a family crisis, engaging a family therapist in some of your meetings could prove to be very helpful as the therapist could facilitate your discussion and help you communicate productively.
You sound as a very insightful parent with high morals and the ability to understand and empathize with your children. They are lucky to have you and I am sure that if you managed to work on your possible guilt feelings, you would see how important your role would be into keeping the family together. You can not undo things but you and your wife can certainly help your family survive this trauma.
I hope this helps
Please feel free to share any feedback on these thoughts.
All the best
Thank you for your follow up and the offer of a free followup question. I'm not in any position right now to spend any money, so I am not expecting an answer from this comment.
Your initial comments were studied in depth and confirmed what I initially thought would be the best course of action. I have been exposed to grief counseling and have voluntered at a really good online help site for people who have lost beloved pets, which I did about 3 years ago. I recognized that this episode in my family had caused the same feelings in me that the death of my dog had caused. Basically, I was again involved with the stages of grief. After our communication, I reflected on this a lot and have finally come to a decision as to how I need to proceed in fullfilling my duties as a parent. I cannot emphasise enough how badly this episode has hurt both my wife and me. I'm sure you are not going to agree with my thinking on this. I'm not sure I do either, but it is the only solution I can find. We busted our rears providing a decent home for our kids. We made our mistakes I am sure, but all in all, I don't think we could have done better than we did. We are both too old now to have any effect on our adult children. They have to stand on their own two feet and be responsable for their actions, good or bad alike. None of them seem to have any sense of the horror we both felt at this disclosure. My daughter has written me a VERY drama laced denouncement of me as a father that I do not deserve. Now that she has supposedly cleansed her conscience and guilt feelings at our expense she seems happy as a clown and refuses to talk about the incident further despite our pleadings that she get professional counsel. We, despite all attempts to communicate with our bi-polar son, have heard not one thing from him.
I don't know what else we could have done to prevent this disaster. It was not of our making and we are in no way to blame for their shortcomings. I gave up a career so that I could remain at home with my family and be there for them as children. Giving up that career which would have provided my family with a heavy duty income because it would have required me to be away from home for months at a time with time home limited to a week or so evey three to 6 months. This was un-acceptable to me as I could not justify being away from my family just to make a ton of money. Now, looking back, I wonder how things would have been had I continued on with my career instead of giving it all up for a bunch of ungrateful siblings. I am NOT going to take the blame for what happened to my daughter. What little she has been willing to reveal has some time distortion as to where we were located at the time of the incidents. In short, she indicates that she was between 9 and 11 when this all occurred, but our memories of where whe were at that time would seem to indicate that she was more like 13 to 15. She may well have been an active participant instead of just the victim. She also had grandparents living right next door and had instructions to stay with them on evenings her mother and I both had to work. I asked her why she did not go to her grandparents and got back little more than a shrug of the shoulders for an answer. Now that she has got all this off her chest, she says she feels much better and refuses to talk about it any more with us or anybody else. It is just not adding up chronologically for her mother and me. It is difficult to take what she relates at face value since it does not conform to the time line of the events. I've become unsure as to wheather or not she was, in fact, an active participent in this, or the victim. She has openly told me that these "events have not been a controlling factor in my life 9 (I find that very strange), but when she realised that her son had just turned 9 years old she suddenly remembererd what she was ( supposedly) going through when she was 9 and that she had held this for thirty years and could not hold it in anymore." She had made statements in the past that everybody in the family seemed really quick to respond to her brother's difficulties and not hers. (jealousy?) Yes, he needed a lot of help. He was a very sick person and you help the ones who need it the most without feeling the necessity to equally compensate monitarially the ones who don't need it. That's the only way it makes sense to me. I have come to believe that she was getting even with us for helping her brother more than we supposedly helped her. The truth be known, we have probably helped her more monitarily MORE than we have helped her brother, but she cannot see it that way. The whole thing seems to be coming down to money. Money that we no longer are capable of providing. :Hmmm---strange. I tried my best to be a good father and thought I had done a passable job. I guess that was just pie in the sky, so I wash my hands of the two of them. They never call us to see how we are or pay any attention to us except for the obligatory phone call on birthdays. We are invited for thanksgiving and christmas gatherings. Financially and physicallly, we can no longer host such events. Our oldest son and his wife have taken over in that regard.We took good care of our kids and we don't feel we have to hang our heads in shame for what they turned out to be. Evidently, our daughter and one son think differently. Our oldest has provided a lot of help to the other two financially since we couldn't anymore. I think that may just have come to an end though. He is about as disgusted as I am. Even so, we do not deserve this and as of now, I refuse to accept it. The youngest two can go straight to hell since it would appear that we have no relationship left with them when you get right down to it.
I have realized that there is absolutely nothing I can do temper, solve, rationalize or control this current deliemma we, as parents, are in. Too much time has gone under the bridge. I just cannot deal with it anymore. Yes, I am probably in denial and apparently locked there. So, trying to understand it is a moot point. I quit. I stood on my own two feet and sacrificed willingly to see that they had a good upbringing and a good home to do it in and helped along the way when we could. If they cannot see us in that light there is nothing else I can do about it-----and I'm not going to worry about it in the short time I have left in life. All the family "treasures" that they want left to them when we depart this life are being sold and we are going to travel on the money. They will all recieve just what they deserve. Nothing. They will hopefully learn to stand on their own two feet and be responsable for their own actions. My days of care and concern for their wellfare are over. Their mother and I are not responsable for what happened and refuse to take the blame for their issues. They refused to listen to our advice when they got older and then have the gall to blame us because they screwed up by doing whatever they wanted to do at the time irregardless of the consequences. Now, even that is our fault. Well, it isn't our fault and I refuse to be the scapegoat in all of this. We did not deserve it, and we are not going to participate in the drama. Hopefully someday our daughter will be able to look back and see that this was not our fault and put the blame where it deserves to be-----on herself. The same applies to the middle son. None of the above reflects on our oldest son who has done good things with his life and dotes on his family just as we did with ours. I hope he has learned something from all of this, and I am sure he has. He is a very good man and I am proud of him.
I do thank you for your input and advice, even though I was not able to impliment it. The situation was just too complex and my wife and I do not have the time or money left to spend weeks or years in therapy along with the rest of them to try and make sense of all of this. I don't think we could get them to co-operate in any case.
I told my wife last week that if we sold the house and all of our posessions, bought a mobile home and disappeared, how long did she think it would take for anybody to even realize that we were gone. She finally answered (today) that it would probably be a long, XXXXX, XXXXXe. She has realized that two of our kids are failures, but she and I both agree that we were not at fault in this-----and we refuse to take the blame for it. I'm not mad about it anymore------I'm just disgusted. We are going on in peace with what is left of our lives---- and those who don't like it can go straight to hell.
Now, I only have one free follow up question. What do you think of my solution?
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Best Regards, XXXXX XXXXX Price