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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hello, I am a 54 year old when who was severely emoionally

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I am a 54 year old when who was severely emoionally abused and also phyically as a child, teen and the emotional abuse continued as an adult. I thouht I had put all the hurt, resentment and anger of my past behind mme but recently I was talking to a close friend about my childhood and I was surprised as all those feelings came to surfce leaving me in tears. Both parents have long ago passed way but I still cnt forgive my mother. Should I seek professional help to resolve this issue?

Thank you
Hello Dee, I would like to help you with your question.

First, I am so sorry to hear that you had to suffer through horrible abuse as a child and as an adult. Abuse like you suffered can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other emotional difficulties because of the intensity of the experience. Nightmares, depression, anxiety and tearfulness, like you experienced, are some of the symptoms people develop, even years after the abuse has ended.

What often occurs for children who suffer through abuse is that in order to cope with the horror they have to live with, they learn ways to shut off their feelings. They may even be able to give the appearance to others outside the situation that all is well with them. They smile, laugh and appear normal. But inside, they struggle to hide all the powerful emotions caused by the abuse, the pain, sorrow and loss of their childhood.

As a result, many kids grow up to be adults who are very skilled at hiding their pain, particularly ignoring the pain from their childhood. They may feel relieved at getting out of the situation and so they move on with their lives. They may avoid talking about it or any references to it and some even can have contact with the very parents that abused them without letting those feelings out.

But what often happens is those feelings end up coming out anyway in a variety of ways. Some people drink or use drugs to cope, others develop depression or anxiety and may not know why, and still others just shut parts of themselves off. What you may have experienced when you talked with your friend was a "break through" of your feelings. Your conversation triggered those feelings, maybe because you felt safe with your friend or you were able to let go of those feelings after so long. Whatever the reason, talking to someone about what you feel is a great way to work through all the hurt and pain so you can put the past in the past and feel better about yourself and your life. A therapist can help you bring those feelings out and work through them within a supportive and caring environment.

To find a therapist, talk with your doctor about a referral. Or you can search on line at

There are also numerous resources to help you through self help:

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused by Steven Farmer

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck

Through therapy and self help, you can feel better.

I hope this helps you,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kate,


Thank you for your very helpful answer.


Is it normal not to feel forgiveness towards my mother? want to forgive her but feel it.


What sort of professional do you recommend seeking help from, psychiatrist, etc?


Really scared to face all these feelings that have keep inside for so long.



Thank you




Hi Dee,

It is very normal to struggle with forgiving those who hurt you, especially when it is a parent. Children want to love their parents. They look to them not only for their basic needs, but for love and nurturing. And when you are betrayed and hurt instead, the pain can run deep. Forgiving usually happens when you are able to come to terms with what you suffered with that parent. And forgiving does not mean saying it was ok for your mother to hurt you. It just means you are letting it go.

When you seek a therapist, someone with a Master's degree or Doctorate is the best option. For example someone with an M.Ed, MS, MSW or LSW etc. You can also see someone with a Ph.D which is a therapist with a doctorate. They cannot prescribe meds but they can do therapy. A psychiatrist is an M.D. with training in psychology. They can prescribe and also do therapy, though they usually concentrate on medications. At this point, unless your symptoms are bad enough to interrupt your daily life and you feel you cannot function, then seeing a therapist only is fine.

Here is a link to help you with the definitions of the initials of the different types of therapists:

It is ok to feel fearful of working through your feelings. It can be overwhelming and frightening. What helps is to realize that you have already survived the worst of it when you went through the abuse. You coped and did very well. And you are reacting in a very normal way to what you experienced. You may feel anxious, depressed or scared, but you are a survivor. What you feel is just the emotions you were not allowed to experience as a child because it was too unsafe.

And keep in mind, you are no longer in the situation. You are safe now and you cannot be abused ever again. No one has any control over you anymore. Try helping yourself by building up support around yourself and lean on those in your life that are close to you. You will get through this and feel better. And if you ever have any questions or just need to talk, I am here.


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