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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5804
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate:Thanks for your reply. I thought I would start a

Customer Question

Kate: Thanks for your reply. I thought I would start a new thread here. I do understand that my sister was acting as she did in response to my parents’ issues. And I’m not angry with her. From what I read, her acting that way, especially as the eldest child, was normal. She was acting out towards me what she couldn’t act out towards my parents. Which is interesting, because at the times when she was fighting with or acting out against my parents, she seemed to treat or need me more as an ally than an enemy. There is no animosity between me and her at all now. HOWEVER, when I was reading the stuff last night, it did make me angry at my parents. I read about how they should handle these things between siblings, and it is so not how they handled it. They did the opposite – blaming and punishing me for reacting and telling me to toughen up, rather than intervene. The thing is – I’m not sure if I was just more emotional and sensitive by nature and personality, or I was that way because I was being frequently tormented and had reason to be upset. But I represented the things that my parents could not stand – emotion and weakness. I think that is why I was treated (what I thought was) unfairly. One of the other things I read in most of the things about emotional abuse is that it is not uncommon for the child to become secretive, which is exactly how I was. I was thinking last night, when I was crying, that I remember sitting in church with my family around jr. high (they did make us go to church from late elementary school through when we got confirmed – then it was our choice) – and being so nervous, waiting for my dad or my sister to say something to me – that my hair was a mess or I had a run in my tights, or my nails were dirty, or my outfit was awkward, or something. This happened whenever we were together as a family. I would just wait for it, and it usually happened. In church, one of them would write a note to me or something, or say something to me in other situations. It would just make me feel like nothing. And they would laugh then my dad would be upset if I got upset (I would never cry or anything when we were in public, of course, but I would be on the verge). I remember this kid who was in my grade and went to my church asked me why I always looked so miserable at church. But looking back, it was because I was miserable. I was either feeling terrible about myself because of a flaw they pointed out, or was just waiting for it to come. Because it would. No matter how hard I tried, I never was as “together” as my sister, and there was always something wrong - I just couldn’t always figure it out until they pointed it out to me. Looking back now it makes me feel like I did then. It wasn’t fair and it hurt me. I don’t know why they didn’t see me as good enough. I wasn’t as pretty or together as my sister was, but I had other talents and more intelligence (although perhaps not as much common sense). It is, frankly, a miracle I have any self esteem at all, when I think about these things. It really makes me angry. Why did they do that stuff? Another thought I had: when my parents did find out about what happened, they did show at first that it was a serious matter, in that they called me, and did stop to see me a few weeks later on their way back from my sister’s, and they told my brother and sister and 2 grandmothers, I know, because the next day, all of them called me, although none said anything about it, except my sister. So it’s not like they totally didn’t care or take it seriously. But then their reaction was to minimize it, my mom telling me that my friend was over-dramatic and acted like it was a bigger deal than it was. And to tell me that if I needed to tell her anything about it, then okay, but she would rather not know. So my thought is this — why weren’t they totally upset that I hadn’t told them? Why didn’t they say that they wished I had told them so they could help me? Or that they’re sorry I had to go through that alone? They acted later like it had been such a burden on them to even know (my mom was complaining that within a month, their dog died, they found out my grandma had cancer and only had a few months to live, and they found out what happened to me). They didn’t even ask me how I was or if I had been injured. My mom asked me later if I had gotten pregnant and had an abortion (because she knew how I felt about abortions, and that was the only explanation she could think of as to why it would still bother me enough 2 years after the fact to have told one of my friends, who told them). This is not normal, is it? Maybe if I had told them right away and they could have known about the physical injuries, they would have taken it more seriously. But maybe not, and surely not after the physical injuries healed. I’m sorry I’m rambling and I have told you all of this before, but this whole thing is something I am really angry about. I had asked Linda before whether she was glad she found out shortly after her daughter was assaulted. She said yes – there’s no question. She wanted to be able to help her daughter any way she could, and she said it took a lot of time with her and her husband working through things with their daughter and counseling, etc. I’m thinking that this is  the normal way fora parent to respond, whereas my parents, I think, were relieved they didn’t know about it before and didn’t really ever want to know about it.

I know I am making a big deal about something that is not such a big deal and is over and just is what it is. But it makes me want to scream and shake my parents, especially my mom. I mean, she could have at least asked if I went to the doctor.

Sorry .... venting ... I just don’t understand why they couldn’t see that I am a worthy human being. All 3 of us are. And I don’t understand why they couldn’t have appreciated us. I see my nieces and nephews, and can’t get enough of them. Even though they’re growing up, I still want to hug them and have them sit on my lap and love on them. Why didn’t my parents feel the same way about us?

And I am so angry that I ended up not telling anyone after what happened and not getting help and being all alone with that. That was a heavy burden and really miserable. I think it is telling that I would have rather bled to death or die from an infection than call my parents for help.


Okay. I’m done ranting. Sorry. One of those stream-of-consciousness things ....

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



You never have to apologize for talking about how you feel. You are not ranting. You are talking about some very painful and difficult things that happened to you. And contrary to what your parents say, what you are doing is very normal.


It's good that you are getting in touch with how you feel about what your parents did. You are seeing it as it was. And how you feel about your nieces and nephews is exactly how your parents should have been with you and your siblings.


I am so sorry that your father and sister picked on you so horribly. And that your father didn't even allow you to feel upset about it. Talk about teaching you to repress your feelings! And the fact that yet another person noticed how sad you were says that what was going on in your life was bad enough that you could not fully repress it.


It does not matter if you were emotional and sensitive by nature as a child or if you were just bothered by what your parents were doing to you. You deserved to be treated with love and kindness. And instead you were treated with cruelty, singled out and picked on. Your pain over what happened is justified.


Keep in mind Shay that how your parents treated you was not about you. It was not that you did not have nice hair, clean nails and straightened clothing. It was because there is something wrong with your parents. They are possibly narcissistic and they were emotionally abusive. Most abusive parents are self centered and are immature in knowing how to handle their own feelings so they take their feelings out on their kids instead.


Your parents were not upset about you not telling them about your attack initially because they do not possess the ability to handle something so overwhelmingly about you. They want to focus on themselves. And the trauma you suffered was not something they could make fun of because that would have been so obviously cruel that others would have noticed and they could not tolerate that. And the potential for you to be emotional over the situation was so high that even the thought of going near you at the time it occurred might have been too much. Remember that your parents cannot handle emotions because they equate them with weakness. Being attacked is not a weakness so there was very little they could address. Plus, they are probably very narcissistic and people who are narcissists cannot handle someone else's trauma. It over shadows their own focus on themselves too much.


The way XXXXX XXXXXdled her daughter's attack is exactly what occurs with normal parents. They band together and support their child. And they put the child and her needs first.


You may want to consider writing out your feelings about what your parents did, particularly your mother's actions. You needed her when you were attacked and she was not there because just the thought of telling her made you shut down and even when she found out she still was not there for you. By writing a letter to her and your father, you can have a chance to explore your feelings and share them with Linda as well.



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Customer: replied 5 years ago.



Thanks. I think I will write it out. Writing stuff down helps me get my anger out, too, sometimes. Usually it is writing to myself/about myself and what I'm upset with myself about, but I imagine the same would be helpful directed to my parents. Obviously I would never give it to them, but I don't think that matters. I will do that and share it with Linda.

By the way, they emailed my sleep study report to me today. It said that I need to have an auto-adjusting bilateral IPAP/EPAP machine (basically the CPAP, but instead of the airflow being constant, it adjusts itself to my inhalation and exhalation), and that the CPAP and BPAP (??) Airflows "failed." He suggested that I have a ferritin level test and that I go on Requip or Mirapex or Horizant for perodic limb movement disorder/restless leg syndrom, and that I go on clonazepan to treat the rem behavior disorder. He also wants Dr. M to reexamine some of the "psychotropic" drugs I'm on and perhaps experiment with others, to see whether they are worsening the leg movements.

I am supposed to go back in within the first month of treatment for a "data download" and patient management appointment, at which time they will schedule me for ANOTHER full-night sleep study to check on the RBD and leg movements and also the breathing. I apparently had more serious breathing issues this time, even with the machines, although the overall sleep breathing was better. They will look then to see if the medications need to be changed, if they are working, and whether they need to change me to a different breathing thing. I am NOT happy about having to go overnight again, and not happy about taking 2 more medications (although it is the clonazepan which might alleviate the nightmares altogether). And I never like reading their clinical descriptions of what I looked like having nightmares (but it is better than a non-clinical description). The thought that I fight and move and yell out bothers me for someone to see, but their description of me crying and whimpering in my sleep really upsets me. Not sure exactly why.

Oh well, just thought I would tell you, since you asked what the results were. Someone from the sleep center will be calling me, hopefully to explain it in English :) and I guess when Dr. M calls me this week I need to make an appointment with her.

Oh well. It is what it is :) and this might end up making me feel a lot better overall. Who would have known I had these other sleep issues? (Except Dr. M, apparently, since she was the one who insisted I see this specialist and who was convinced since the first time I met her that I had sleep issues beyond the nightmares).

Have a good one. :)

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for letting me know the results of your sleep study. Wow, there is a lot of tests and treatment involved. Hopefully when they call and explain it some it will be easier to see what they are talking about. And Dr. M can also help explain it further.


Let me know how the letters to your parents work out. It can be helpful to continue them as you work through therapy, adding other feelings you discover as you work through your issues.


Good night, Shay. Sleep well!



Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Well, we didn't start EMDR tonight because we won't be able to meet again this week, and she wants to start it when we can meet the next day. So we'll start it Monday and we have another appointment on Tuesday, and the option to meet Wednesday if need be.

We went through some of the initial groundwork today, though. We had tried it before - listing like the 3 most disturbing parts of the incident, and for each, saying the negative self thought that comes with it, then if I could change that self thought, what would it be changed to, and then, on a scale of 1-10, how true I thought that new thought was, and then, on a scale of 1-10, how intense were my feelings about it right then. When we went through it before, I couldn't really answer any of it. But today I had a much easier time. But as soon as I started thinking about the first specific thing, my face got all hot and my chest got all tight and I felt like I might cry. When Linda asked me to rate the intensity of my feelings, it was an 8. She was surprised it was that high, and so was I - I've never said above a 6 when she's asked me stuff like that before. I told her that I think it's just because we haven't talked about specifics in a while. But it dawned on me on my way home - I don't think we have actually discussed any specifics about what happened since my whole "breakthrough" with Dr. M, when I started seeing this as more real. I think that's why it had such an effect on me.

We also talked about my parents, like what you and I discussed today. We talked about their reactions when they found out what happened. She said the same things you did: (1) that it would have taken the focus of them and their needs; and (2) they wouldn't be able to handle my emotions over it. Wow. You two think alike!

She also said that I might want to write a letter to them, like you said - except that she asked if maybe I would want to send it to them. She said that maybe I should write them a short note saying that I don't understand why they reacted the way they did, and maybe a paragraph with a short summary of what happened. Her point was that they don't know what happened, and maybe they thought it was a date rape and maybe I should explain that it was really violent and maybe they would react differently. I said no, because (1) it shouldn't matter. They shouldn't be concerned or empathetic - or parental - only if there is physical violence. Isn't rape enough? (2) I don't want them to react differently. It's too late. I don't have that kind of relationship with them. It would just be awkward. And I don't want them to know anything about it; and (3) although nothing they can do could help me at this point, it could certainly hurt me. They are likely to react as usual - to say or imply that they can't believe I'm still dwelling on what happened after all this time. And they very well could react somewhat indifferently again, which could still hurt me. Linda said it was just an off-the-cuff reaction by her.

She asked whether my sister had any empathy at all, and I said that yes, she did. She thought maybe I should tell her. I said no - she can't keep her mouth shut, and I don't trust her. I know her. She will tell my parents. I explained that it would not be in an attempt to suck up to or inform them, but would rather be in the context of telling my parents they didn't handle things right. Linda thinks that would be good. I do not. Linda said she just wants someone in my family to do the right thing, although she realizes why neither of these ideas may be something I would want to do. I told her about your idea of writing a letter I don't intend to send.

I felt like she almost wanted me to let my parents know (either directly or through my sister) more of what happened, because Linda thinks it was so severe and violent, and she thinks it would teach them a lesson for not taking it very seriously. But I don't think it would have that effect, and it cannot help me at all - it could only hurt. She said she just can't fathom that people who function so well and are successful and educated and seemingly nice in a lot of ways can be so emotionally harmful. She said she can't imagine leaving one of her daughters to fend for herself in so many ways.

I also talked to her about the other issue. I told her that I thought my being drawn to older women as close friends was because of how my mother was - or wasn't. She obviously agreed and said that P and others seem to provide the nurturing that I need and want. I told her that I was sure that her age (although she is a few years younger than my mom) was one of the reasons I felt comfortable with her. She agreed. I asked her if that made her feel uncomfortable, and she said no, it was fine. She said we're all just human, and she thought it was good that I liked being nurtured and "mothered" and there was nothing wrong with that. She said as long as I wasn't hurting or being dishonest with P or whoever, and as long as that is her/their nature, there is nothing wrong with being nurtured by P or other older friends. She said she didn't feel like it was hurting me, and may be helping me. She said she likes being around me, is glad to be able to help me, and is not phased at all. She said she is sorry I didn't get that when I was younger and she would have wanted that for me. So you were right. It was no big deal. But I did feel like I needed to let her know my thoughts now, since it is worrying me that she would bolt.

She told me I was a "really good kid," and before I left, she told me, "you know how you told me you always felt different growing up?" I said yes, and she said "You probably were differnet, but need to realize that you were the normal one." So that made me feel good.

Over all, I am feeling very optimistic about things right now, although after my reaction talking to Linda tonight about some details, I have a feeling that the EMDR is going to be kind of rough. But I also understand that it works wonders for a lot of people, so I think it is definitely worth a try, and I think I might be ready now.

I wrote the letter to my parents tonight, although it ended up being almost totally directed to my mom. I was able to get a lot out, but my anger kind of scared me. It seems kind of odd to me to go from thinking my parents were totally normal and great only several months ago, to have developed so much anger. But I think a lot of that might be feelings I already had - a long time ago --- but convinced myself were wrong or invalid, and now they have resurfaced. ??? Anyway, the whole exercise was pretty energy-depleting, but I felt I got some anger out and identified some feelings. But it also kind of "disturbed the water" some, and along with how I felt so strongly about the one part of what happened that Linda and I touched on today, I am feeling a lot right now, and it doesn't feel very good. But it IS good, right?? Do you want to hear what I wrote?

I'm going to try to go to bed now. I, too, hope that things will be explained a little better to me when they call from the sleep center. I only understood about 1 paragraph out of 8 pages. And Dr. M will hopefully know what she wants to do about the medication options.


Good night. Here's to no nightmares tonight! :)



Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



It sounds like your session with Linda went very well! I'm glad to hear she was so open to hearing about the age difference concern you had. She is right, as long as no one is getting hurt, you having your needs met through older friends is perfectly fine. And you recognize that need so that is even better.


It is scary how much Linda and I think alike!


I agree that the EMDR is a good option for you now. Your feelings are much more accessible now that you have done some of the work you have in the past few months. You have become more accepting of what happened and how you feel about it and your childhood. That helps you in therapy because you are more willing to look at how you feel and ways to address your emotions.


Linda's ideas about sending your letter to your parents is fine, but if you felt it would not do anything to make things better and maybe even make them worse, then not sending the letter is a better idea. And you listed very good reasons for not sending it. I think it would make things worse as well. Your parents are in denial about how they treated you and your siblings. They are not going to be open to hearing what you have to say and may react with hostility or try to hurt you in some way.


Linda is right, you were the healthy one in your family. I think you knew that things were not right when you were a child (it's probably why you always felt different and why you were singled out and picked on) but you buried it because you had to so you could survive. Now you are in a safe environment with people who care who support you showing your emotions. So you are getting in touch with how you feel.


I would love to hear what you wrote to your parents. It is just fine that you are feeling very strong emotions about your parents. It was unfair what they did to you and when a child is abused, there can be a wide range of strong emotions that come to the surface when the issue is explored.


I hope your night went well!



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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I think Linda agreed with my reasons not to send a letter to my parents after I explained. I think you are right that I can address these feelings without communicating them to my parents. It has only the potential for harm and little potential for benefit for me. Plus, I wouldn't say the same things in any kind of letter to send to them, and wouldn't express everything anyway.

I will type out my letter to share with you when I get a chance.

Not a great night. And now I'm even more tired, but that's okay. At least I didn't have anyone staring at me :)

Talk to you soon.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



I had to laugh at your last comment! You are so brave for going through the sleep study. It would be such a relief to sleep by yourself after that.


Sharing your letter would make you hold back, that is for sure. You want this to be a chance for you to get all your feelings out without censure from anyone.



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