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Hello, I am new here and want to apologize up front for a very long intro. I am a 28 year old "child abuse survivor". A survivor�? I will keep it simple and say since my father didn't actually kill me physically I survived...but the little girl I was growing up, I mourned her death many years ago, her childhood and her innocence did not survive. I remember being under my bed, about 6 years old thinking to my little self...I am dying, my soul, my heart, my life is gone, I gave into a deep darkness under my bed a deep depression and understanding of pain, that fathers don�t always love their daughters the way I thought they should, I was the only real witness to my tremendous feelings of rage and pain and wrote short worded poems under my bed to release my pain sometimes. It was a lot for a small girl to keep all to herself. My rage inside would scare me sometimes because I knew what that kind of rage could do if I ever let it out. I never told anyone about those poems, the poems I'd write about how my father made me feel.
He never sexually abused me from what I can remember but he did hit me a lot with the belt and he would verbally bash me, my twin brother and my Mom and basically scare us with his rage and uncontrollable need to control everyone and everything. My mom the non-disciplinarian...I find it's much easier for me sometimes to not be so mad with her for what she herself could not do for herself or us. But my father, I feel as though the question "How could you" looms over me like a foul odor.
I feel as though I experience "cycles" of flashbacks, one week I am feeling great, strong, happy and self assured, and then WHAM, outta no where my father calls to demand something and BOOM, I'm right back under my bed feeling rage, hate, pain and depression.
I lived at home until I was almost 24. My Father stopped hitting me when I was getting too big for it, I guess was his reasoning...I really can't remember exactly what age, it must have been around the time I started driving. Despite the fact that he no longer would threaten me with "The Belt" he'd still verbally and mentally rip me down. By the last four or five years I lived home my father basically made it known he had given up on being my father, he didn't talk to me and if he did it was a fight, he was cold and hurtful. When family would come over or we went to a family holiday he'd act like this great father being nice for �show� and even smiling and "trying" to talk, how things �looked� on the outside was VERY important to my father...which only made me hate him more, I despised his "fakeness" and for him lying to everyone by pretending he was nice.

No one really knew what kind of a father he was unless you were my twin brother or Mom. It was our little secret and it killed me inside.

Then one day I decided things in my life had really come to a head and I could stand no more. Even fear of my father destroying my brother and Mom wasn�t enough anymore to keep me home. I decided to make a change in my life, a big drastic huge life altering change to find happiness and go for what I always wanted in life and love. I left my fianc� of four years (he was borderline abusive and mentally abusive), moved out of my home at the same time my twin brother also moved out (he was my survival partner growing up and we are very close), ended my 17 year friendship with my one and only girlfriend, my best friend, because it to had begun to resemble an abusive unhealthy relationship over the last five or more years and fell in love with a man I met at work and moved in together about an hour away from my family.
I walked away from everything abusive in my life and promised to never allow that kind of pain and abuse in my life ever again. When my boyfriend and I moved in together I put a sign in our door window that said �B nice or leave� it was my little way of drawing a line and setting the first boundaries for all who wanted to challenge my life ever again. It was a direct letter to my father and ex-best friend really. Even though I have made these major changes, began a seriously intense yoga practice to follow my path in life to happiness and peace and healing, I hold a great job in a quaint NJ town, I still struggle daily with my feelings and memories of my childhood.
So here is where I am at and what I feel I need some help with (sorry this is SO long). I feel sometimes as though the pain and experience were as fresh as the mornings air and everyone can see it on my face, I live in an altered state of reality, present time and reliving traumatic past memories like a Vietnam Vet. There are days when I don�t think about it and then there are day with triggers that send me spiraling into a pit of pain and anger for weeks and it takes a lot of awareness and work on my part to pull out of it and not let those memories ruin my present opportunity to have a good life. My family has never addressed the abuse or ever spoke about it. It�s something no one ever goes near with a ten foot poll and times when I have mentioned things to my mother she acts as if it wasn�t that bad or she didn�t know I was so upset over it�that hurts, because I know she knows how bad it was, she not only doesn�t stand up for me, she takes away my voice and instead of being a witness to my childhood pain and abuse she acts as if it never happened and now at my ripe old age of 28 I shouldn�t be so �difficult� and oh yea, �your father loves you, you know that�.
Deep down I struggle with the idea of cutting my father out of my life completely or just leaving things alone now as they are, only seeing him when I have to and healing myself without involving him. It�s as if when I moved out it erased all their memory of how they were and they want me to follow suit, just let it go and forget about it. My father now is �trying� to do small things to �be nice� but deep down I struggle with the hate and pain I still have for him. There is a part of me that wants to �go along with the plan� but then there�s the part that experiences something of a PTSD every time I see him or have to be around him. Father�s Day is always a very hard day for me as it is basically the perfect analogy for how I feel in a nutshell; It�s Father�s Day, I want to pick out a nice card that says all this really great stuff about what a supportive great Dad I have but he�s not and I don�t feel like that and in fact I want to scream from the rooftops how much pain and agony he�s caused in my childhood�but I inevitably buy a simple card, sign I love you and get the whole damn day over with as fast as I can. I hate Father�s Day and I hate that I actually feel guilty for not wanting to pat him on the back and say �Hey you�re a great Dad� but I can�t and mean it, so I lie which is yet another thing I don�t believe in doing ever, I know it�s not my fault, He was a Bad Father. Torn with no real friends it�s hard to choose to cut yet another abusive person out when I already feel so lonely and now with his �small� attempts it makes me feel even more guilty, but the truth is these feelings have never been addressed and he�s never confronted me and said I�m sorry for what I�ve done to you and until that day I feel that total healing just isn�t possible on my own. It will always be right there under the surface. My wonderful boyfriend is very supportive and helps me anyway he can but as I�m sure you all know, someone who�s never been through that kind of childhood really can�t believe or relate, he had a wonderfully loving childhood. It�s a lonely feeling to keep to yourself. Thanks for letting me share, I don�t feel alone anymore since I found this site. Do any of you still have a relationship with your abuser and how do you cope with that? ~Namaste

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B,

You have been through a lot - and you are a survivor. The fact that you can still go on to have a loving relationship, that you are even contemplating mending fences with your dad, that you are making good decisions in your life - this all points to a healthy person!

But you have been through trauma, and it would be surprising if you didn't have some fall-out left from it. PTSA is very real. And even little things will set it off sometimes, a TV show with a similar storyline, seeing someone thst looks like your dad, hearing another child being "disciplined" the way you were - all these things can bring on anything from a gut dropping feeling to a full out flashback.

Have you considered going to a counselor who specializes in child-abuse issues? It might help to get some of this out in the open to a neutral 3rd party.

And BTW - you do not owe your father the chance to be a dad again. He blew that when you were young. There is no reason for you to feel guilty about not wanting to treat him mas if he's always been there for you.

He may be trying to make amends, or he may be trying to assuage his guilt from the past. I amagine he is a very lonely man now - but it is his own doing. "We reap what we sowe" - it may be trite, but it is true.

And never fell bad about coming here to vent - that is what this place is for!


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Michelle,

Thanks so much for the reply. This is the first time I've ever talked to another person whose been thru this sort of stuff and I can't tell you what a feeling it is to see some of what you wrote, it brings me to tears. Just talking to you guys is so theraputic, I feel like I have an army behind me! I've been to 2 Psychologist over the years and even studied to become one; I have many credits but never fully persued the profession. I did go to a therapist who specialized in RIBT, Rational Emotive Behavioral Threapy. It has a few helpful techniques I felt helped me out, but there are some parts to the therapy that leave me still feeling like I'm holding a big heavy bad of shame and hate when it comes to the abuse part of my life.
When my life slows down a bit more again I do intend on taking up another type of therapy to help me with my healing (anyone know of a good doc in central/northern NJ?), for now my boyfrined and I are building our own house so things are busy to say the least.

-He may be trying to make amends, or he may be trying to assuage his guilt from the past. I amagine he is a very lonely man now - but it is his own doing. "We reap what we sowe" - it may be trite, but it is true.-

I think he is trying to relieve some of his guilt and maybe make amends but he's not doing it directly, he wants me to forget it without ever having to face it or admit it, his on-off "good" behavior isn't consistant enough either, my fears are so strong that I don't feel I'm ready for that kind of confrontation.

Plus deep down my core says not hurt anyone, EVEN IF he's hurt me terribly, I don't want to inflict it back on him by being truthful. I know that deep down my father does love me (I think, yet I ask everyday then HOW could he do that?), but he did bad things and really wrong things and so I know sadly he ruined his own image of being a great father, even the good things he did do for us seem so insignificant becasue of the pain that hasn't ever been acknowledged. On top of that I feel as though somehow he'd explain his behavior away by saying things like I was a difficult child and too sensitive and stubborn...I don't want to hear that kind of cr*p anymore, it's like being abused all over again.
I know logically I don't OWE it to him, but every fiber of my being feels like I do...fear and my own belief that family is family I guess...at the end of the day something says "He's your father". Can you ever leave that behind and walk away completely? And when you do does it really go away?

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No, it never goes away.

But there is one more trite saying thast comes to mind,
"You can't choose your family"

You didn't choose who your father was, and you had no choice in how he treated you as a child. He was the adult, it was up to him to set the example and correct boundaries.

If he is still trying to excuse his behavior by saying "you were a difficult or sensitive child" - then he has not owned up to his behavior.

We have another thread somewhere on here about "Forgiveness", I'll have to look up where it is. But basically most of us agreed, there is a big difference between forgiveness and condoning. You can forgive your fahter's behavior against you for your own peace of self wihout condoning what he put you through.

And, jut like an alcoholic, until he owns up to his own faults - he will never truly have peace with himself. You can't fix that for him. He will have to grow up on his own to do that.


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Hi there B smile

You know, I just read somewhere, and it helped me, "We are all victims of victims. Our parents had informationd driven into them and made as much of a reform and functionality they could. Some had wonderful childhoods and parents and offer just that kind of hope as to what we can chose to have in our lives.

My childhood was painful and lonely. I know what my mother went through and my father was the provider. My reality at the time, which sustained me, was that I was adopted. And, too true, you do end up creating or at least there is a tendency to re-create in social and intimate relationships, groups and significant others who again, reproduce the feelings we endured back then. If you can break out of that, you've just grasped the golden ring. By far, leaving everything behind (which is what I did as well...walked away from everyone and everything that was bad for me) to start from the ground up!! Hooray for you!!! laugh

There's an imagery excercise that does leaps and bounds of wonders, especially before sleep. We can program our dreams, actually - I call it back up support, even if at times they happen to be nighmares...rem's picking up the slack I guess.

It's called chording. You envision yourself with tenticles or chords coming out of you. One for each person which has an emotional hold on you. The radious of the chord would reflect just how much energy or emotion they take. Some chords will look like ropes, others like elongated but solid tree trunks. Imagine for every confrontation you give the chord, a twist or disruption in the attachment to you gives way. Eventually, an it may take days or weeks, the chord becomes severed. Once this happens envision healing green and white light sealing the crevice from where it was once attached so it can not re- attach. Check back in with your chords nightly just to support the healing energy that now becomes a part of you.

You're a brave woman. Never forget your source and healing beauty smile

Elleise
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I love those trite sayings...sometimes it's the simplest ones that have the greatest impact on me. You're right I did not choose my family. I know truthfully I can't even begin to forgive him or move forward with him and make something of our "relationship" if he never says he's sorry sincerely for what he's done. I take responsibility for things I do wrong and make efforts to make them better and apologize for it, so I feel as though I can not respect my fathers attempts at being nice* because it's a cowards way.

I will try to find that thread on forgiveness too, it's something I have thought about a lot, but not sure how to do it, or how to attempt to do it...where do you begin?

I want so badly to make it all go away for good, but I know you're right, deep down this feeling and childhood can't be earased completely and it's the only childhood I have. Part of me believes I'd maybe never be this person I love now if it wasn't for the childhood I had...perhaps I wouldn't be such a feminist at heart, or so sensitive (I love that I am now) and have the ability to sense others pain and and up an aloof and cold girl. Who knows...I guess I feel as though if I knew that answer I'd know if I am who I am on my own or somehow thru this horrible pain I became who I am. I struggle with the idea of how my origination point isn't good and was abusive and how I can move from that to love.

I am not my father but I am my fathers daughter and that scares me.

Ever since I was very young I remember telling myself constantly, "Remember this Jack, don't ever forget what this was like, hold onto your child-like thinking and reasoning" I never wanted to forget because I never wanted to repeat his behaviors and something told me at a very young age, children DO KNOW what is right and wrong they are so much smarter than "adults" make them out to be.
Being a good mother has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember so being as "proactive" as I can be to change my behaviors and tendancies I feel need work on and end the cycle of abuse is my daily focus literally, there is nothing more important to me, my future family depends on it I feel. Now as I am getting golder and my boyfriend and I discuss our own family more and more I become more fearful that I too will hurt my children somehow. Do any of you feel that way or struggle with your children now? I am someone who, when I didn't know the proper way to behave (due to poor socail skills as I never really "fit in") I would observe others whom I felt were respectable and good and I would mirror them until the behavior felt natural, now as I think of becoming a parent I look for those that inspire me and those I can admire and look up to for guidance on how to be, as a good mother and good person. Does anyone have children now and find themselves teetering back and forth between being a good parent and being abusive sometimes? Do you think this idea of mirroring the good parents is a qay to not repeat the cycle? Are there other techniques I can use to stop the cycle?

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Elleise,

Thank you for your reply. That saying, "we are all victims of victims" WOW. So very true and that is where I guess I draw up compassion and reason for not wanting to pain my father now...he was a victim too, a child of abuse and pain. He never confided this in me, however I knew my fathers mother (my grandmother) and she was a cold, mean woman who even as a young kid I remember thinking what a bad lady, I don't like her. My father would never join in when others in the family spoke out about her behavior (unlike my grandmother, my father hid his badness)and in fact he'd defend her, after all, she was his mother, his compassion for his own mother is so familiar, yet I'd never defend what my father did or give excuses, yes, he was abused but as an adult we CHOOSE who we are and how we treat people. He had the choice and he chose wrong.

On a happier note, I comend you for "starting from the ground up" I celebrate my freedom and "birth" of my new life this July! It is a time of reflection for me and I have big plans for my future.

That imagery exercise sounds terrific and I plan to illustrate on paper my chords and people and use that to also help me visualize. I am just begining meditation pratice and this imagery can also be used in my meditation, I feel I could draw a lot of strength from that sort of exercise...Thank You for that.

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I really feel for you, b the change. It takes me days to find the right fathers and mothers day cards that don't say things like "you're the best mom in the world", or "you were always there for me and I wouldn't be half the person I am today..." etc. Those cards make me feel sick with sadness, envy, regret. But I'm really lucky now that I have the most amazing in-laws, who have actually taken me so much into their hearts that I now feel the parental love that I never had growing up. I'm also grateful that I now have real role models to look up to for when we start our own family.

I can so identify with what you are saying about wanting to actively prevent any sort of abuse creeping in to your own relationship with your eventual child. I think about that every day. I had extreme rage as a child too and I know the feeling of how out of control that rage can be and how much damage one could do. But I have developed very good self control over the years. I know that I will do my utmost to never give in to any temptation to harm my child in any way - physically or verbally. If I do accidentally say or do something that causes hurt, I know will be able to apologise and try to help my child understand that I still love them and that it's not their fault.

I went through a difficult, but helpful, time last year - there is a thread about it on here called "Adult children of abusive families". I'm not one for confrontation, and I was actually looking for the kind of "relationship" where we could just let all the issues go and just have a superficial, polite relationship, as if between relatives who are strangers. I did actually confront my mother many years ago, but got no apology, just the excuse that her father beat her, therefore she found it necessary to discipline me too.

I wish I'd thought to say then that this is rubbish. There is no excuse. If you have been through abuse, then you KNOW what it feels like. How can you make any other human being feel that way, knowing what you know? I remember my feelings from every moment of abuse in my childhood - my husband thinks it's bizarre that I remember so much, but it is because I held onto it. I now know the reason I held that pain so close - so that I will remember what it felt like and never do or say those same things to my own children. I believe I will be a good mother, because I remember so vividly what a child sees and thinks. I believe I will be able to understand my children so much more easily than many other people do, because of my own memories. I know why children do what they do, because I remember what I was thinking when I did things that were considered "naughty", etc.

Something that has really helped me in the past year is a belief that I have a higher self - this is the part of me who is nothing to do with my parents. I believe that my parents created my body, but my essence comes from my higher self. And my higher self is pure, untainted and untouched by my parents' and grandmother's poisons. I don't know if it is in any way true, but it really helps me to think this way. My true essence by-passes their genes. I know I will not repeat their abuse because who I truly am has nothing to do with them. My physical self has been hurt by them, but they cannot and could not touch my true self.

More recently, I was dreading making a phone call to each of them. I felt really bad and guilty because it had been a while since I spoke to each of them. Suddenly I found myself realising that I am not a bad person because I battle to speak to them. I am not a bad person because I procrastinate about making those phonecalls. And I am not a bad person because I can't like my parents and grandmother, because of what they did to me.

I hope some of this can help you too.


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Elle,

--I remember my feelings from every moment of abuse in my childhood - my husband thinks it's bizarre that I remember so much, but it is because I held onto it. I now know the reason I held that pain so close - so that I will remember what it felt like and never do or say those same things to my own children. I believe I will be a good mother, because I remember so vividly what a child sees and thinks. I believe I will be able to understand my children so much more easily than many other people do, because of my own memories. I know why children do what they do, because I remember what I was thinking when I did things that were considered "naughty", etc. --

I have to admit, I am overwhelmed with happiness at the fact that another person in this world actually thought nearly the exact same thing I have. What a wonderful feeling of...not being alone. I too feel as though my memories and insight into that child world of thought at every age will help me relate to my children one day and hopefully see things before they happen so that I can be the mom I want so badly want to be. I remember things from when I was 2 years old...very vivid, colorful, detailed memories, and my spouse too thinks this deep collection of memeories from even the young age of 2 is bizarre. I think sometimes he even probably thinks that I can't possibly remember things like that...but I can. Now as I hope to be a good mother one day I am thankful that I have this gift.

As for your wonderful in-laws...that is terrific and just like you, my spouse's parents are amazingly wonderful and I look up to them both very much when it comes to being a good parent. I have opened up to his mother about my fathers abuse etc, but not fully 100%. His father and I have begun a slowly growing relationship and becoming closer too. I find that it is hard for me to get comfortable with his father sometimes as I have overpowering feels of...I don't know how to explain it...like I just don't know how to act around him??? Does that make sense, do you get that? Like I've never really been around a Dad who wasn't being mean and critical most of the time, like comstantly cutting down my every idea or thought or hope or whatever. His Dad is nice and it's a bit unsettling for me because sadly it's just not what I'm used to...so this is where I go through the motions until it feels normal and good. Soemtimes I want to tell his Dad about my childhood because I feel like maybe he thinks I act "weird" and so I want to "explain" myself to him so he understands and doesn't just chalk it up to something else or take me personally. I find I want to "explain" myself a lot...Sometimes I feel like abused children have been "shorted" in life, as though we didn't get a fair "start" to life and being a normal child and having normal adult interactions on the social end of things and so I want to tell people "hey, I'm really a nice person, I just don't know how to act around you cause I was abused and now I'm trying to move past that"...but of course I don't do that. I don't have any real unusual behaviors or anything really, I actually pass as a pretty normal person most times, but inside, inside I don't always feel normal, lots of times I feel like I'm just barely doing this hire wire act of confidence and any minute now I might just loose it all...any minute my expression of self assured coolness will crumble before you and everyone will see..see the pain, the past, the truth...they'll think things and judge me, judge my family, my father and...well there it is...my fear, my fear of people knowing what I've been through, what I've felt, judging my father as an all bad guy because of what he's done to me and my family. I think as if people can see the abuse as clearly on the outside as they are on the inside...I know really they can't see, but I feel naked, like it's obvious.

**there is a thread about it on here called "Adult children of abusive families".**

That was the first thing I read when I came to this site...when I read the title of the thread my heart leapt and I actually had
hope that maybe, just maybe I have found something, some resource that might help me with my past, when I began reading the thread I realized these people were just like me and for the first time I didn't feel alone with these feelings...we're not alone. Ever since, I joined bellaonline, and Ive been reading every thread I find interesting, there is so much here, what a wonderful place!!! YAY! smile

***Suddenly I found myself realizing that I am not a bad person because I battle to speak to them. I am not a bad person because I procrastinate about making those phonecalls. And I am not a bad person because I can't like my parents and grandmother, because of what they did to me.***

I too struggle with that. Deep down I know, that isn't my fault, it's only normal to Not want to speak to those that hurt you, let you down big time and generally make you feel bad. But still I feel like as a "good child" I "should" call...that must be the abuse talking! LOL ahhh got laugh sometimes... Just another challenge to overcome, rise above and maybe even begin to help others do the same.
~Namaste



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You are not alone. I'm glad you've found a place where you can work through your feelings and come to terms with your childhood.

I do understand the feeling of not knowing how to act around people - I get that with anyone who reminds me of a member of my family, in mannerisms or voice, or even just looks. It can take me a while to not be defensive around that person.

My in-laws were there to support me last year when I went to visit my family, and I spoke a lot to my m-i-l, with the understanding that she would be giving my f-i-l a summary of the conversation. Maybe you can do that, speak to your m-i-l about passing on the message that if you're behaving strangely it is not because of your f-i-l?

I find it hard to talk about my feelings to men, even my husband, but a lot easier to open up to women. I don't know why that is. So although my f-i-l and I chat a lot because we have many common interests, we don't have the deep talks that I have with my m-i-l. And that's fine; I know he understands me anyway, and I enjoy the relationship I have with both of them immensely. They are my family now.

Hugs to you. smile


Elle Carter Neal
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