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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My parents were both abusive - one sexually, the other

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My parents were both abusive - one sexually, the other verbally. I was an only child. Both were emotionally unavailable. I was ill-prepared for life when I left home. At age 68, I am looking back at the demise of three marriages to men who were like my parents. My mother disinherited me. My son took her money and wrote me off. I am kind and forgiving, but confused. What happened?

Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how heartbreaking and distressing this situation must be for you. I am so sorry that you've gone through all of this. It indeed must be so unfathomable how all of this could have happened. I know from working with other people in therapy in this situation it's so hard to try to be caring, to be giving, to seek others' love and then have them betray you and use you.

Psychologically, we understand this situation to derive from the original childhood situation. It's true that with parents who are abusive and emotionally unavailable we would think that the child would grow up to seek people who are not like her parents. That she would seek people who are emotionally available.

And in the person's conscious self, as she becomes an adult, she consciously does seek that, people who are indeed emotionally available. But there is the unconscious part of the person. Meaning, that she grew up with a such an unfulfilled need for kindness and caring from others that any even surface attention paid to her she interprets as genuine and she "goes for it".

Those who grow up in normal situations are able to discern more readily when someone is more of a "taker" but is being giving and paying attention for selfish reasons. Those who grow up in abusive situations and don't receive the healthy bonding and love a child needs tend to not be able to discern who is a taker so easily. Again, this is because takers tend to show caring and attention on a surface level, and the abused survivor is so emotionally starved for this and she doesn't have the experience enough to discern who is a taker.

Thus, often, survivors of abuse are the ones taken advantage of as adults. And I'm so sorry this has happened to you. But I want you to remember something:

Takers are not happy people. Just like your parents in their inner selves were not happy people. They may seem like they "won" but they didn't. You won. You who are the survivor of abuse are the winner. Why?

Because you are the one who actually can face yourself. They are always hiding from themselves, either by taking over and over from others or by pretending. But you don't have to pretend; you can be you.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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