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No, I am not trying to condition you. I would not do something like that, to anyone. This is difficult to face, I know. It is much easier to try to bury it. Trying to distance yourself from it is one way to do it. And you certainly can try. It's your life and you can do as you wish.
But if you want to heal, going through recovery from it is the only way to deal with it once and for all. What these men did to you was not about sex. Sex was only a tool for them to use with you to control you and to dominate you. Yes, it was unfair. And it's not right that you can't push it away and forget about it. But that is what helps you stay emotionally healthy. Your mind finds ways to cope with pain that helps you work through it and find peace from it.
This may have happened to you, but it is not your fault. These guys were sick and they wanted to hurt someone. What they did was violent, painful and cruel. It's not right or fair that it happened or that you have to live with it. But you are not alone.
I feel alone. I feel like my heart is seriously going to burst. I feel like they are a part of me. Why did they do this? Couldn't they see I was hurt? I hate them, Kate. I'm sorry but I do. I want to punch and punch and punch them until I run out of all my energy (only if they can't fight back, of course). I am mad at myself for what part I played, but I didn't start it and I didn't know what was going to happen and I just didn't want them to cut me there anymore. I hate what they did to the 21 year old me and I hate what they are doing to the 40 year old me. I know that part is my failt, because of decisions I made, but I should have never been put in the position to make those kinds of decisions at that age. I just didn't know. I want everything back.
It is a good question to ask- why did they do this? Usually, the motivations are about anger, rage, or sadistic reasons. It has little to do with the victim and all to do with what is wrong with the attacker.
It's ok to hate them. God understands your feelings and He does not blame you for them. And it's ok to want to hurt them back. Anger and revenge are both very natural feelings.
No matter how much you had to drink or how misguided you were in your trust, you did not deserve to be assaulted for it. You had a right to be any way you wanted to be that night. The guys that went after you were wrong, not you.
Part of wanting everything back is mourning over your loss. You lost your right to your body, your peace of mind, a normal sex life and to your feelings, to an extent. Grieving this loss is important. It is part of the process of letting go and living with what happened. It also helps you put it behind you.
I am sorry that your parents are not more supportive and do not see your seeking help as a sign of strength. Because it is. It is not for the weak to face your past and deal with a trauma. That takes someone who is strong and resourceful. It is their loss to not know this side of you.
I don't think my parents would only think it is a sign of weakness to seek help. I think they would think something was seriously wrong with me for this to still bother me.
I don't know what to say about that. I love my parents, and I think some of their parenting was great. But the more we have talked about their attitudes about emotions and stuff, I am kind of angry at them. I'm sorry, but I can't live up to their expectations in certain areas. I do get upset. I do feel like crying sometimes. I do have nightmares that scare me and make me afraid to even go to sleep. I did give in and do things because I was scared. I know that's not how they think I should be, but I am. And when I cried or got "hysterical" in their view when I was being teased by them or my brother or sister, I was upset. And when I learned to stop crying and stuff, I was still upset. I'm sorry - but I was. You were right in one of your earlier posts -- although we were talking about Linda, it is true that how I seem and act on the outside is not the same as I am on the inside. The first three years in college, I acted as I was. I didn't have to hide feelings or anything from my parents because (1) I was away form them, and (2) they just dealt with me better as an adult. I didn't have to hide anything from my friends because , well, there was nothing to hide. But then this happened and I have felt like I have to hide from almost everyone.
Here's the truth: I wish I could have gone to my parents. I wish my parents would have been the type to rush up and get me from college and to hold me and take care of me and keep me safe. But I knew that wasn't the case. I wish that I had had ANY adult to understand what I was dealing with and how much I hurt (physically) and could have told me what to do. I wish I had a mom that would hold and comfort me now -- even though I'm 40. But that's not going to happen. I cannot remember being allowed to sit on my parents' laps, even when I was younger. I am sure I did when I was really young, but as far as my memory goes back, I was too old to sit on laps, too old to be held, too old for affection, apparently. Is it wrong to want to be taken care of and loved by somebody now? I guess, I just realized, that I haven't felt worthy ofthat because (1) I thought that was an abnormal want; and (2) because I feel like if anyone knows the real me - and what I did - they wouldn't like me as much as they think they like me now.
I do realize there is something very wrong with those guys, but I totally played into it by helping them. I just can't believe what I did. I hate them when I think of them cutting me and not even caring - and actually laughing at how much I was bleeding. And I hate that he made me swallow his urine. And I hate that he asked me to say and do things. But I hate myself when I see in my mind what I must have looked like doing these things and begging him for these things, and seeming like I enjoyed it. And I feel like there must be something wrong with me. I don't know if I feel that something must be wrong with me for this to have happened, or if I feel that something must be wrong with me as a result of what happened, or a combination.
I am so upset, and I'm sorry. I have some really conflicting feelings battling in my heart right now, and they are also battling with things in my head.
And I'm sorry about my sarcastic comment about your using those words. You can use whatever words you want. It just felt too raw, and I was upset and upset about being upset, and was taking it out on you. I'm sorry.
Don't worry about it, Shay. I do appreciate your apology, but it is understandable that you were upset.
Your parents expectations are unrealistic. It is not normal to push your emotions down and ignore them. It's also not normal to refuse to be affectionate with your children. And to expect you to be over this trauma by now is abnormal. If people could just "get over it" then therapists would not be needed, trauma centers would go out of business and there would be no need for anyone to comfort anyone else. All those vets, survivors of abuse and other trauma survivors could just pull up the boot straps and get on with it.
Your parents may have been great in some areas of child rearing, but emotionally, they are not acting in a healthy way. As a child, you were reacting normally to a dysfunctional situation. And it is understandable that you feel you are wrong by still being upset by the attack. You were taught as a child that it is abnormal to feel emotions such as crying or anger. But there was no way for you to know that what you were being taught as a child was wrong.
It is very normal to want your mother's comfort, at any age. A mother's love is supposed to provide comfort, safety and care. You deserve these things, especially now. And there is an innate need in all of us to run for that comfort when we are upset. When we don't get it, we can feel an emptiness inside that is hard to fill. Part of working through this is realizing it is a loss not to be able to turn to your mother and the other part is finding a way to fill that need on your own.
There is nothing wrong with you now nor was there anything wrong with you when those guys attacked you. You did those things in order to survive. That is the only reason. If you had enjoyed it, you would have done it again. But you did not. Those guys were going to kill you and I think you probably instinctively knew it. So you did what you need to stay alive. There is no shame or embarrassment in that. You are here now talking with me and making a difference in other people's lives because you were smart enough to do what it took to stay alive. And that is why you are a survivor.
You did mention when you originally told me about the attack that you overheard them talking about killing you. That, plus the type of attack on you, suggests they were without regard for you as a human being. Both of these factors suggest they considered killing you.
Your parents probably were not affectionate with you because they learned themselves that it was not ok. Someone somewhere taught them that affection and showing your feelings is a weakness. So they passed that onto you and your siblings.
Whether or not they like you is about their pathology. If they were taught that accepting their children was a weakness or bad, they would act that out on you by making judgments about who you are and whether or not they accept you for who you are.
Filling your own needs for affection can take some time to get used to. You can start by seeing what the people in your life find good about you. All your friends feel you have wonderful qualities they appreciate. When you can connect with what they see in you, then accepting and appreciating that can help you feel you are worth affection and care.
Dr. M is right. What they did to you could have easily killed you. Doing what it took to stay alive was your only option. If you had not did what they said, you might not be here now.
You're very welcome! I am glad to be here for you. I understand being up and down with this. You have gone through something terrible and you're trying to work it out. There is no reason to feel sorry for that.
I understand your need to see your parents in a positive way. They did care for you in a lot of ways and seemed to want to be there for you. And what we have been talking about with their lack of affection and need to make you hide your feelings is not about making them seem incompetent. It about you not getting your needs met emotionally as a child. It's much like someone that goes to work and does a wonderful job, except for one area in which they refuse to complete their work. How do you feel about that employee? That describes what your parents did with raising you.
One thing that has come about from talking about your experience in childhood is your strong desire to make sure your parents good points are highlighted. Something is driving you to consistently bring up that your parents did do a good job when you were a child. What do you feel that is?
At the time you sought out therapy for your nightmares, it sounds like you might have been using what you were taught as a child and pushing your emotions down. In essence, you were ignoring your feelings from the attack. The nightmares were a symptom of your emotional repression. When you were sleeping, you were unable to consciously repress your feelings so your mind used your feelings from what happened and created you nightmares. In turn, you became upset enough to seek out help, which was a very good move on your part.
I hope you get a chance to have some downtime today and catch up on your rest!
I guess I want to highlight my parents' good points because I don't want to be unfair to or blame everything on them, and because I love them. They gave me a lot of opportunities that I know a lot of other people don't get, and they dod some things very right. I feel like I need to balance out the fact that I am complaining about them and feeling kind of resentful towards them because I didn't get that affection that I apparently needed and wanted, and now it's too late.
I liked your analogy about the employee. You're right - that would be unacceptable. But if the employee remained working here and I couldn't fire them, I would just have to do that one part of the job for them, because it would need to be done, which is I guess what you are saying.
If I can see myself as worthy of love and affection, then what do I do? Hug myself? :)
Your explanation makes a lot of sense. There seems to be a strong sense of guilt you have about seeing your parents in a bad light for what they did to you. As if blaming them would be a bad thing to do. As if it would somehow be your fault for seeing them that way and taking them to task for what they did. What makes you feel guilty about being upset about the way your parents treated you?
Part of seeing your self as worthy of love and affection is first accepting that you missed a huge part of your childhood by having that love and affection withheld from you. I'm not talking about the kind of love your parents showed you, which was one part of the love you should have received, but the other part which was allowing you to express yourself any way you needed to. And providing the physical affection that went with expressing pain, sadness, anger and other strong emotions. Loving someone, especially a child, is a total package.
It might help you to know what you were supposed to receive as a child. What do you wish you would have had emotionally from your parents?
As to what makes me feel guilty for being upset about the way my parents treated me: I have a strong sense of personal responsibility, and I just feel like blaming others is wrong and is a cop-out. And nobody's parents are perfect. And I have always thought that people with "mother" issues or that blamed their parents for their troubles were just avoiding personal responsibility for their lives.
But it makes me feel better since we have talked about this, because I seriously thought my desire for care and affection and comfort were a sign of unreasonable neediness and selfishness and that it was wrong. Probably because I had the impression growing up that it was wrong and selfish.
I'm not sure what I was supposed to receive as a child. Can you tell me that?
What I wish I had had:
1. To be treated, when I was growing up (before college), as valuable. Other parents talk about their kids like they can do no wrong, that they are adorable, talented, smart, etc. I know people can go to the extreme that way too, but in overhearing conversations between my parents and others, the things they said about me were not those kinds of things. It was more like "Shay got in trouble at school" .... or "Shay had 4 turnovers in her last basketball game" or "she is difficult to deal with." When other people would complement me in front of my parents or tell my parents how smart or creative or funny or polite I was, my parents would discount it and tell them that they didn't have to deal with me on a day-to-day basis or that I couldn't seem to live up to my potential. If someone complemented me or told my parents how well they thought I sang, they would say something about my participation in choir and showchoir taking away from my basketball.
They were right on some things. I am an excellent test taker, and so my test scores were always through the roof, but I didn't the grades I should have gotten. I just never paid attention and didn't do my homework. I don't blame them for being upset with me. Now I understand I probably had ADD, but still.
However, I was not that bad of a kid. Everyone else's parents liked me. My teachers and coaches all liked me (well, some teachers were not so pleased with my acting out, but they still liked me). Other people thought I was talented. But my parents never saw any of that until I was in college.
When I was graduating from HS, I got voted class clown and also most diverse. But i couldn't get both, and my best friedn was 2nd for most diverse, so I picked class clown so she could have most diverse. My parents thought that being voted "class clown" was a really negative thing. I was pleased, but they said I should not be.
Other people's parents would say things to their kids like "you were so cute as a baby" or tell cute stories about them when they were young. My parents never d oand never did that.
2. I would have liked for my parents to have not discounted my interests just because they were different from the rest of the family, such as choir, class president, etc. I understand that it was not their "thing," but it was my thing and I was good at it. They didn't know anything about soccer, but when my brother cose it as his main sport, they got totally into it. And they were super supportive of my sister in cheerleading. But I guess maybe because those are "sports." Don't get me wrong -- I loved basketball, but I liked other things, too.
On the other hand, they let me try a lot of things when I was younger. I played softball, was on a synchronized swimming team for a year, took baton twirling lessons, took various classes in sign language and flow charts (who knows why) and astronomy, and when I tought I wanted to be an electrical engineer or electrician, they supported that. When they built an addition onto our house when I was in the 4th grade, they let me install all of the receptacles.
3. I would have liked for one of them to comfort me when I was hurt or sick. It's not like they didn't take care of me - my mom would give me medicine or treat the wound or whatever. They didn't believe in stitches, apparently. If we were bleeding a lot, they wouldn't take us to the doctor unless they couldn't stop the bleeding in a hour. One time my sister broke my nose - I was about 4. It was clearly broken, as it was kind of pointing to the sid, and they said it was broken. But we had to wait until after dinner to go to the ER. They usually acted mad about whatever we were ding that resulted from the injury. Except when I got hurt playing basketball hwen I was in HS -- that was okay and needed medical attention. But they never held me, in my recollection, when I hurt myself or cried. They never felt sorry for me or let me lay my head on their laps or anything like that. I think that would have been nice. Also, when I was hurt and would cry or complain, they would tell me to stop because it didn't hurt that bad or because they said they couldn't do anything about it. I wihsh they would have acknowledged that I was in pain or sick, because I was.
4. I wish they would have believed me. All kids lie to some extent, I'm sure, and so did I. But not usually. My sister lied all the time. But for some reason my parents would not believe me. I remember in jr. high, my sister and I were arguing, and my good friend was over at our house. For some reason, the 3 of us were in the bathroom while she and I were arguing, and she rammed my head against the towel rack, which was the hind that had wooks sticking out from it. It really hurt and I cried, and my parents came home and I had to go to my room because I was crying and my friend had to go home. My sister said I had done something to her, not the other way around, and that I was lying about the towel rack thing. My mom believed her, as usual, and wouldn't even let me show her the bumps and bruises that were left on my head. My friend told his mom, who was a good friend of my parents, and she called my mom the next day or something and told her that she needed to watch my sister because she was really hurting me. My mom told her I made it up and then yelled at me for making up stuff and telling people (although I didn't tell anyone -- my friend was there and saw it). There were all sorts of incidents like that. They would never believe me, and I'm not sure why, as I generally didn't lie. My sister beat the crap out of me, and she and my brother would gang up on me, and my parents never believed it wasn't my fault. If they left marks, then they would say I started it (because that's what my sister would tell them) and that she/he had the right to retaliate.
Apart from the physical stuff, Jenny would say horrible things to me. She would tell me all the time I was fat (which convinced me I was, although in reality I was thinner than she was and was not fat) and that it's too bad I'm so ugly. This really hurt my feelings, especially when she first started, when I was in jr. high and she in HS. I really looked up to her. She was a cheerleader and homecoming queen. It would crush me. I don't know why she did those things. It would make me cry and my parents would tell me I'm too sensisitve and overreacting and make me go in my room until I calmed down.
So I stopped telling them anything. Why should I if they don't believe me? Everyone else saw what Jenny would do to me, but they wouldn't believe it. Since we've become adults, Jenny has fessed up to everything and thinks it's funny that they believed her. My parents said sorry they didn't believe me, but they never could trust me because I was so "sneaky." I wasn't sneaky. I was secretive, because I didn't want to share anything with me.
5. I wish everyone would not have teased so much and made fun of things. Everyone did it to everyone else, but I feel like it was usually directed at me. I don't know if that's accurate, or I just felt that way because it was me. I think I was more fun to pick on when I was younger, because I would get upset. Then they would make fun of me for getting upset, immitating me and stuff. The teasing was sometimes just playful, but some of it was hurtful. That's another reason I didn't tell my family anything. They would criticize or make fun of my ideas and thoughts and stuff. I felt like I everything I did/thought/felt was invalid and sharing opened me up to be hurt.
I knew I didn't fit in to our family, and that didn't bother me. I secretly wished I had been adopted. My brother and sister would tell me I was, and I hoped it was true. But it wasn't. For Easter one year, in probably Jr. High, we each got a stiffed sheep in our basket and I got a black one. I didn't care though. But we all knew I was different, which was fine. But I felt like they valued me or liked me less. But they saw me as the more emotional one (what they would call hysterical, and what anyone else would call crying and being upset). My sister was and is super-dramatic, but I'm the one who got my feelings hurt more eeasily, I guess. They didn't know how to handle these outbursts, so I think they had to stop them. Now my brother and sister are way more emotional than me.
But when I started college and since then, I am treated as their favorite, according to my brother and sister.
6. I wish they would have understood and validated my fears, and comforted me. If I was scared of anything, they would say it was ridiculous. In the 6th grade, I went to aq birthdday party, and someone had brougt a ouija board. I had never heard of them, and they explained it was to talk to dead pwople. So I tried it, and obbviously the other person was moving it). It said I was going to be killed that night, and when we asked who was going to kill me, it said "Satan." I had never heard of Satan before. The girl's mother told me it was another name for the devil. I totally believed the whole thing, and was convinced the devil was coming to kill me that night. I was really scared. When I got home, I told my parents and they said it was ridiculous. I asked if I could sleep in their room - even on the floor, and they said no. I was so freaked out all night that I kept a butcher knife, a cross and a Bible under my pillow and never went to sleep. One other time, my mom, dad, brother and I had just finished playing golf, and we were walking into the clubhouse, and were going over a tiny bridge. I was probably 12 and my brother was about 9. He got stung by one of those big bumble bees a bunch of times and was crying. They wanted to get him into the clubhouse, so they told us to come on, and I didn 't want to walk across the bridge because the bee was still there and I said "no, it will sting me." So my dad yelled at me and told me to stop being ridiculous, so I walked across, and sure enough, I got stung too. He should have apologized.
7. Since I have been an adult, my parents probably think I am better than I actually am, but whe nI was growing up, I wish they would have recognized tha I wasn't all bad, and that actually, I excelled in a lot of things. I didn't understand why everyone else's parents thought I was great and would tell me that, but my own parents didn't.
Okay ... I'm sure you didn't want this long rant of a reply, but I guess there's a lot. There's probably more, but I have a meeting shortly.
Thanks for sharing your feelings with me. First I want to say I am sorry that you were treated so badly as a child. I could not imagine what you felt trying to cope with being bullied, ignored emotionally and being told so many bad things about yourself.
What you suffered is considered emotional abuse:
Being put down for your choices of activities
Having to overhear your parents putting you down in front of other parents and adults
Not having your parents pay attention to your issues. If you had ADHD, they should have paid enough attention to you to notice. Or cared enough to explore the options, instead of just placing blame on you.
Never hearing any stories about when you were little. That is a big part of growing up and knowing that you are valued.
Having to see your parents care more about eating dinner first before helping your sister. Or not treating you with more than a band aid. A doctor treats you with first aid. Your parents are to treat you differently- physically and emotionally.
Assuming that you are a liar just based on your behavior. To make a judgment like that about you, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, says a lot about who they are. They would rather stick to their prejudices that listen to you and put value in what you said or who you are.
Allowing your sister and brother to bully you and discounting your protests. They effectively shut off your rights as a person and chose to believe who they wanted to believe based on preconceive notions they made up themselves. They invalidated you as a person.
Making it obvious that they did not like you. Giving you the black sheep was a slap in the face. It was a way of communicating their dislike for you.
What you suffered was abuse. I understand that your parents behavior instilled a sense of personal responsibility in you, but that is only a bi product of how they treated you. You accept the guilt and personal responsibility because they taught you to do so. Not because that is what you truly believe.
If you had been raised in a loving home, your parents would have accepted who you were, good or bad. They may have tried to help you not act out, but that is it. And considering that you acted out because of your home life, you may not even have had that issue if you had been raised in a loving home. Loving parents would have hugged you, kissed you, and made sure you knew your worth through loving words and taking your side in front of others. They would have taken the time to sort out arguments between you and your siblings and would have comforted you when you were frightened. They would have explained things to you and supported you, no matter your interests (as long as they were safe interests). You would not feel uncomfortable with your feelings because you would have been allowed to express them.
Your entire belief system is based on the emotional abuse you suffered as a child. Your parents may treat you differently now, but that does not change the damage done to you as a child.
I see. Sorry about that. But what I said still applies. And for you that is even worse.
I guess, I had a lot of complaints about them. Sorry - I just got going once I started. I guess I am particularly whiney today.
I'm not sure that they didn't like me -- but it felt that way. And the black sheep was a joke. I thought it was funny, and frankly, I took pride in being different. I wanted to be different than all of them - especially my sister.
Since then, my sister has appologized for tormenting me. Although I was not completely innocent. When I got into HS, she would tell me things when she was drunk or I would hear things, and I would blackmail her. I was a lot smaller than her, but I was also a lot smarter. When she started in on me, I would threaten to tell my parents things, and hold it over her head. Not the nicest thing to do, but it stopped her.
My brother is really a nice guy, and always has been. He apologuzed to me to and said it was nothing personal - but he didn't want to be her target, too.
My parents have said they were sorry they didn't believe me about stuff (after Jenny fessed up to everything), but that I was so "sneaky" they couldn't trust me.
I think because my sister was so mean and my parents were the way they were, I totally went the opposite way from her (which I understand is typical, considering we're the same gender and only 18 months apart) and I grew pretty independent, which has helped me as an adult, I think, to some extent.
But it is what it is, and I am an adult now and responsible for whatever I do, regardless of past circumstances, wouldn't you agree?
As far as the ADHD, that really wasn't well known (at least in our small town) until I was in college. My mom was a teacher, and before she was a biology teacher, she taught learning disabled kids. She always told me I had some kind of learning disability, but left it at that. She also wouldn't tell me what the results of my IQ test were, and she told me later that she didn't want me to act superior or think I didn't have to work.
I asked her when she was here for Christmas, looking back, has ever occurred to her that I had ADHD as a child. She said "well, now that you bring it up," then said "I knew you had some kind of learning disability." I said "what kind?" and she said "The kind where you are totally disorganized and lose everything and don't pay attention and are disruptive." So I asked her, if she knew it was some disability or something I couldn't control, then why did she always get mad at me for it, and did it ever dawn on her to get me checked out. She said that I was going to have to learn to get over whatever it was in order to operate in this world, and that she never would have gotten me checked out becaus it was behavioral and back then they only gave medicine to kids who were bouncing off the walls. She also thinks, from being a teacher, that ADHD is improperly diagnosed most of the time and it is an excuse parents use when their child is bad. So ..... I told her how much the ADHD med is helping me, and that I wished I had had it in college and law school. She got defensive and I told her I wasn't blaming her, and she said good, because she's not taking the blame.
I don't see this stuff as "abuse" - I see it as my parents have some major quirks and aren't emotional. I'm sure there are things we all wanted in childhood and didn't get, right?
So what do I do to get what I need?
Your childhood was not normal. And you rationalize it by saying that "there are things we all wanted in childhood and didn't get". You are taking what was done to you and applying rational thinking. That is considered a defense mechanism, one that prevents you from accepting the feelings that are normally associated with childhood emotional abuse because they are either too painful to face or you feel too guilty to accept them, or both.
To be able to get what you need, you first need to work through your denial about your childhood. You have a firm belief system in place and that serves to keep you from realizing your true feelings about your childhood. Taking down a defense is sometimes hard because defenses serve a purpose. We use them to protect ourselves from the truth because we feel that truth will hurt us. But defenses also keep us from becoming emotionally healthy. They prevent us from seeing what the situation really is about.
Here is an explanation of rationalization. It helps if you start by understanding what you are doing. You may also want to bring this up with Linda. She can help you see how you use the defense to keep yourself from feeling:
Wow -- you mean that I may be the normal one after all? Sweet ...
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(or am I abnormal, but it's because of them?)