Trying to recover - am I overreacting? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 07-12-2014, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Trying to recover - am I overreacting?

I'm sorry to come and post this here but I'm confused and lost. *Warning light mention of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

My sister called me earlier b/c my father is in town and having a family dinner with the grandmother and other relatives. He wanted her to come and ask me and my brother to come and bring our families as well. He was very violent and abusive when we were younger and no one other than my sister has talked to him in years. This isn't the first time she has told me of him trying to contact us or invite us somewhere but talking to her about everything today got me questioning myself.

The backstory: When I was 12 he got messed up on drugs and became extremely violent and abusive. He abused and made attempts at killing and kidnapping my mother. As I was 12, brother was 5 and sister was 7 I was more aware of it all then they were. He also abused me and tried to kill me as well as her. The graphic scenes don't matter but it was a horrible few years with him breaking in and otherwise harming us. Things calmed down a little as the years went on since my parents had separated and he eventually stopped bothering us as much. As time passed we had fewer incidents where he would show up and cause more scenes. At 17 I tried to visit with him to talk things over and see where we stood. During that trip and some violent family outbreaks with extended family I found out about him having sexual contact with my cousin when she was a child. This just further upset me and I left. I'd already been in and out of therapy for years but at that point I had a breakdown. I went back into therapy as well as being put on meds. I've been on and off the meds and therapy for the last 10 yrs or so.

I have felt fine for a long time and mostly recovered but the talk with my sister today made me question myself. Am I out of line? I haven't talked to him in years with no intention of changing it but should I? The cousin that he was in contact with as well as the rest of the family ignore everything and carry on like they're family and live goes on. Why can't I? Why is it that I seem more disturbed by what he did to her than she is? Even with what he did to me all those years is it worth me exiling myself from my family forever? I'm not sure I even want these people in my life but it made me question myself. Maybe I'm overreacting and being crazy. Has anyone else here been through abuse and managed to forgive and carry on life around their attackers? Is that even something we should want to do? I wonder if I shouldn't try to see these family members including him and see how I felt about things now. I'm not sure if I'm right to seclude my children from so many of their relatives even though I'm protecting them by not having them around potentially dangerous people. I will say that I am much better now than I was for a long time. I have recovered enough that I don't have outbreaks and anxiety attacks. The night mares are gone. I've even come to the point that I no longer hate him for what he did and I suppose I have 'forgiven' him in a sense. I just don't know that I can ever be around him again. I don't know that I should either. I'm sad about the loss of so much family but they weren't healthy people either. I guess I'm just confused about how they can all still be 'a family' even after all the things they've put each other through and yet I can't. I feel like something must be wrong with me or maybe I'm holding a grudge that I shouldn't be anymore. I'm sorry this went on for long so if you read it all you're an angel! I'm just lost and confused.

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Last edited by crazyms; 07-12-2014 at 03:17 PM.
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#2 of 12 Old 07-12-2014, 03:13 PM
 
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Two cents form a total stranger:

I have a two-word response which a) probably isn't really helpful, and b) isn't for sensitive ears. I think you are absolutely justified keeping your distance, until and unless you feel that these people might add value to your life, or your children's experience. Especially if there's a chance contact might upset the balance you have since struck in your life. I don't believe you owe him, or them, anything, just because you share genetics.

Is there something specific in your sister's experience with him/them that makes you question whether you're missing out?
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#3 of 12 Old 07-12-2014, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry I was editing my thoughts slightly while you responded.

I'm not sure what it is that made me question it all. I do have some good memories from my childhood and despite all the trauma and chaos we did have some good family moments. I suppose in a way I do miss the large extended family gatherings that we once had. I know my sister is trying to connect to that by being around him. For her it's different though. He never harmed her. In all those years with all the abuse that went on he NEVER laid a hand on her. I'm not saying she might not have issues of her own to deal with or be traumatized just from what happened but I never allowed him to touch her. When situations went on in the home I locked her and my brother up in my room and kept him as far from there as possible. A lot of the traumatic events actually happened away from home or when they otherwise weren't around or aware of the event even happening also. I was older and was involved in it. It's my nature too. I was trying to protect my mother and them so a lot of it I brought on myself. I would fight would him to keep him away from them. I was also upset by events so I no longer wanted to have anything to do with him and that caused more strife between me and him for him to be mad at me for as well.

I don't suppose I'm really missing anything in particular. It's just the extended family and just having your family in your life in general. Dh and I have our kids and that's great. We're also close with my mom, brother and sister with their families. We have some association with him mom but that's limited as she isn't the greatest either. Beyond that we have no one. No close friends or other family really. Now that my grandmother (mom's side) has passed there's even less family to be around. I guess maybe I'm missing the family connection and upset that my children will never experience the large extended family that I once had. I know I'm helping them by not exposing them to turmoil but I wonder sometimes if I'm not depriving them as well. I wonder if my reaction to everything isn't over the top as well. I know I can overreact. I admit that. I know that I was right in the beginning for my feelings and reaction. It was in my best interest to stay away to protect myself but... it's been 10 years or more now since I've even been around much less since the events happened. I guess I'm just wondering if at this point if that same reaction is still as valid or if I should reassess everything.

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#4 of 12 Old 07-12-2014, 06:45 PM
 
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I think you are right to keep your kids safely away from him and I suggest you seriously consider cutting off contact with your sister. He hasn't reached out to you at all and shows no remorse for abusing you and trying to kill you. You are also still vulnerable to further abuse because you blame yourself for some of the abuse. This is a very unhealthy situation to get back into. Your sister should love and support you not try to drag you down by asking you to join abusive people and making you question yourself. I suggest bring firm with her about not talking about him with you ever at the least. I cut off contact with my brother for a similar reason and feel it was the only way to cope with the pain of his betrayal. He realized quickly how scummy our biological father was and we slowly reconciled but I was prepared to never happens contact with someone so shallow tba they side with an abuser.
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#5 of 12 Old 07-12-2014, 06:58 PM
 
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I feel like I can really sympathize with you and your want for family connection. If it were me I would want to think that I would seek deep friendships that can help fill that space rather than go back to a terribly abusive situation. It sounds like you are going to put so much emotional energy into this that would be better given to people who really deserve it. Hugs for a hard choice to make.
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#6 of 12 Old 07-12-2014, 08:04 PM
 
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ITA with everything PPs said. No, you're not wrong to not want contact with someone who would rape a child and abuse you and your mom. And I think it is a great idea to fill the gap left by the extended family with friends who love and respect you and who you love and respect. Build your family with positive relationships that fill all of you up.
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#7 of 12 Old 07-12-2014, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the support. I feel better now that I calmed down some. I think just posting here helped me get it off my chest this afternoon. I didn't go and am not planning to. My sister actually called me tonight upset. She didn't go either and basically told me what I said here. She and I talked about it and have actually decided to try to orchestrate a family reunion for my mom's side of the family so that we can have more of a family connection again. I understand how she feels and how she was a little more able to consider being around them since she wasn't exposed or aware of most of the damage but it's still hard. We are both feeling much better now though. I'm glad to at least have that much of my family, to have my friends and I'm equally glad to have this forum with such amazing people to vent to and bounce ideas off of! Thank you so much for reading my rant and being supportive on my bad day. The Mothering Moms rock!
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#8 of 12 Old 07-13-2014, 02:05 AM
 
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I agree with the PPs that it is totally reasonable for you not to have contact with such an abusive person and with family members who can't support that. You asked whether you should reassess that and I don't think there is anything wrong with periodically revisiting the decision. But I also think it's fine if each time you do revisit it the answer is the same and you continue to have no contact.

I wouldn't be too concerned with why your cousin choses to still see him and you don't. You are different people who had different experiences and respond to them in your own way. Her choice need not affect yours and vice versa. I don't think it should cause you to doubt the rightness of how you have chosen to manage such difficult circumstances.

It is a shame that your kids won't have access to a great extended family but it doesn't sound like this would be such a great family for them to be exposed to. Grieve the loss of the *potential* but don't beat yourself up for making decisions to protect them.
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#9 of 12 Old 07-13-2014, 07:38 AM
 
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My kids have grown up with very little contact with extended family for similar reasons. They are now teens, and while they are a bit curious about what it's like to be close to extended family, they are sane and self confident. No one has messed with their heads or bodies.

My first choice would have been to have had a lovely and sane extended family to share with them. But that wasn't a choice.

We generally do holidays just the four of us, and we've evolved our own set of traditions that work for us.

I'm nearly 50, so I'm guessing that I've had more years to have all this play out than you have. I've been true to myself, and made my own mental health a priority over what other people think or do. I'm happy with that. I'm more centered and grounded than the family members who spent years "being nice" i.e. living in denial.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#10 of 12 Old 07-13-2014, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Very good points. Linda you have had more years dealing with this than I have and it's nice to hear your perspective on how it feels to still not be around the family for that long. I agree sane, happy and safe children is a good things. We've also been working on setting new family traditions and are actually enjoying it. Maybe as we find some traditions and start using them I'll feel a little less grief over this. It hadn't bothered me until the last couple of years since losing my grandmother so I think that the loss of my last extended family and tradition has been a major factor. I'm sure I'll feel a world of difference once we get new ones set up.

kate - Thanks for that. I do feel much better after crying and posting here. I agree revisiting the idea but still leaving it where it was once I'm done isn't a bad thing. I thought about it but after a good cry and sleeping I woke up knowing that I couldn't do it. I would love for my kids to have an extended family but they just aren't the right fit. I know that I could not relax and allow my children to be around them even for short visits. They're just too unstable. Without giving the kids an extended family I have no reason to be there so that's it. I'm sad mostly for my children but they're happy and safe and that's what matters most. Much better than them having these people and ending up a basket case like the rest of us there.
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#11 of 12 Old 07-14-2014, 11:59 AM
 
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So glad you feel better, and strong in your decision. And, as a person with sisters, I am so glad you and yours ended up on the same side.
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#12 of 12 Old 07-14-2014, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invierna View Post
So glad you feel better, and strong in your decision. And, as a person with sisters, I am so glad you and yours ended up on the same side.
Definitely! My sister is often one of the only people in my world that is there for me. Of course I'm the big sister so she's always been my little tag along

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