The Impossible Situation
Forgiving someone you trusted when they sexually molested you is a tough one. I was very young when it happened and had little idea something was wrong until much later when they introduced various programs at school about abuse. When I was nine, I opened up to my family and they said that I was telling stories and should be quiet.
At about age 13, I developed major depression, but the people in my life called me difficult and selfish and would get angry at me frequently. I stopped communicating around this time and shut myself off from much of the world. I blocked it all out until the abuser himself reminded me at age 16.
The monster offered me a piggy-back ride and I honestly could have killed him right there and then. Everything came back in an overwhelming rage and I broke my umbrella in half with my hands.
I kept quiet though. No one had believed me before so why should they now. At this point I was very depressed and had also developed Obsessive-Compulsive behavior. I imagined all sorts of slights and this paranoia turned into anger at my family for not protecting me. Everyone had known the man was a pedophile.
At any rate, my behavior became more and more difficult until my mother actually hit me, like she was getting some kind of release. She told me that he had done things.
The next day we were due to go to Japan, so things were never really dealt with, except for me saying not to pursue things legally. What was the point? Who would believe me?
When I was 21, I was involved in a major car accident (not my fault). In the resulting doctor appointment, I fessed up and told the doc I had been physically abusing myself in order to deal with emotional build-ups. Unlike previous doctors who had fobbed my unhappiness with vitamin b6, he did not dick around and referred me to a psychiatrist.
During this time period, the abuser was diagnosed and died of brain cancer. I felt bad that I wanted to dance on his grave.
As time went on I was able to more clearly remember moments from my childhood. I remembered the abusers wife, who knew herself what kind of man he was, and yet still lured me in with lollies and cake, so he could get his hands on me away from everyone else.
She is still alive and close friends with my family. The story goes that he rescued her during the war and decided to forgive his ways, even though he sexually abused several other girls in the area.
My family understands now that I cannot stand to be around her, but still invites her into the house.
So I am angry at my family, my old doctors, the abuser's wife, the abuser and what makes me even angrier is that I cannot seem to forgive myself.
Ten years later, I'm still on medication daily, still trying to figure things out. I mourn my lost innocence and I cannot stand the news on TV and I don't read the papers or even watch tv shows that might cover the subject of abuse because it makes me feel sick and angry.
I get stressed and angry over little things. God help me if I don't take my medication, because I am much, much worse.
I want to live free of all this crap, but I cannot seem to let go. I keep repeating this cycle of unhappiness, paranoia and anger. Honestly it is making me exhausted and sad.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Sarah, and thanks for telling your powerful and important story here. You express yourself well and clearly. Everything you have said here makes perfect sense.
You have every reason to be angry. The fact that you are alive and able to function at all is testimony to your strength and integrity of character. Not only were you abused, but then for the abuse to be denied by your family makes the wounding more extreme and complex. Then, to add insult to injury, they invite your abuser's wife into their house.
Your anger toward your family, your old doctors, the abuser's wife and the abuser are completely understandable. It is also understandable that you have a hard time forgiving yourself--not because you did anything wrong, but because of all that was done to you and denied.
You are wise to steer clear of TV, news and other media that trigger your emotional trauma.
Knowing what I know about you, I have a feeling that you can heal and feel much, much better.
I know the process I recommend is difficult, Sarah, but I feel confident that you can do it and receive benefit.
Start by doing the "trauma writing" exercise on this page. This will help you "get it out" and process everything that happened rationally. This is your first step to going back to rescue and heal the wounded child of your past. That precious little girl did not do anything wrong.
Then, use these imagery processes for emotional healing to address every single one of the incidents of abuse. This imagery is powerful, and the more you use it the more effective it becomes.
It is also important that you honor your anger and give it a voice, using the journaling process described as the second exercise on the page linked above. Do this regularly, until you feel and experience a major shift in your emotions, and start to feel much better.
Finally, begin shifting your mental focus with the positive writing exercises on that same page. Do not try this until you have started receiving some benefit from the other exercises.
Believe in yourself, and love yourself, Sarah. You are worthy of a good life.
This is how you forgive yourself--by realizing you never did anything wrong in the first place.
My very best to you,
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