Ask the man who was abused as a child

I had a rough go of it for a couple of months, including getting fairly depressed at times. When I get down, then a lot of my memories of my childhood come back. I’ve spend many years and a good amount of money in counseling to work on overcoming the abuse and subsequent anxiety and poor habits.

When I get down, then some of these come back. It was pretty fresh for a while, but I’m getting better or now, so I’m going to put this stuff away again.

I’ve written about my childhood and family in a couple of threads. The main one is here, and there are a few others.

Since child abuse often doesn’t get talked about, or there are often misconceptions about abuse and the affects, I’m going to have a thread here. I’m doing this now since the memories have resurfaced and since I’m ready to move on, then this will be a good time to talk about it for a last time in a while.

I know that other people have done this in the past, but this will be my perspective.

I’m pretty open about things, so please feel free to ask any question. I may decline to answer some, which I hope you will indulge me, but don’t worry about asking questions.

What do you think of the whole concept of repressed and recovered memories-in your opinion are some people able to completely repress abusive experiences from conscious awareness? I assume from what you wrote that you remember virtually everything, is that correct?

I’ve always remembered everything. What I repressed was the anger or hurt about it.

For example, my father told me about molesting my oldest sister, when I was in junior high. We were Mormon (I quit, he died so it’s a past tense) and sexual sins are up there next to murder in the top 10 list of bad things. Mormons are even allowed to masturbate, let alone petting or sex before or outside of marriage, and what he did was incomprehensible, unconscionable and utterly sick.

It was bad enough that he did it, but then he told me about it, and why it was her fault. I did not need to know the former and he was completely wrong about the later.

When he told me, I was in complete shock, in terms that I could hear every word he said, I could comprehend all of the meanings of the physical actions but my mind simply refused to process it. My conscious mind simple shut down and the words were storied, unprocessed in memory. I couldn’t think that what he did was wrong or how much that conflicted with everything he and the church had ever taught.

It wasn’t until counseling that I realized that part of the problems I’ve had with sex have been related to this, as well as being raped by my brother, which I also shut down while remembering what happened.

In both cases, as well as other mental and emotional abuse, I’ve never had any memories repressed. Only the feelings about the incidents.

I knew someone in a support group who when through a process of recovering a memories of his father molesting him. His father denied it, and the allegations caused a huge problem in his family. We listened to him every week as her worked through the various things associated. Finally, a short time after he finished working through that, he started to “recover” memories of his grandmother and then possibly his aunt also molesting him.

At that point, I couldn’t take listening to him anymore and I left the group. It was obvious that he had some sexual issues, and rather than dealing with them straight-on, he keep going through the “recovering memory” process as a denial method.

While it may be possible in some cases to have repressed memories, I suspect that it’s not common. There are issues or the person wouldn’t be in therapy, but too often (or perhaps all the time?) I think either the person wants to remember something or jumps on suggestions by the therapist.

My wife is a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse practitioner, so I don’t want to ask a question (I’ve heard enough bad stuff for the rest of my life).

I just want to say that I hope you find contentment.

Is talking about it cathartic for you? I ask mostly because it seems that things haven’t exactly been going your way recently.

You must be a stronger man than I, in order to deal with such a cavalcade of troubles so well.

Back to the issue, did you ever feel the need to exact revenge on your abuser(s)? If so, how did you deal with that? If not, how do you keep yourself from feeling aggressive towards your abuser(s)?

I salute you, Tokyoplayer. I’ve been reading your threads and thinking., “Man, he must be strong to get through that and still support his family.” You are an inspiration.

I’ve had to deal with some Stuff in my own life, though nothing on your scale, and I wonder…

On one hand, does talking/emoting/raging/whatever about it help in the long term? They told me that only by facing the emotions that damaged us in a controlled and trustworthy environment could we get past them. It’s not about recovering facts; it’s about learning to deal with and thus superseding internal emotional effects.

On the other hand, I have heard people say that always dredging Stuff up tends to reinforce it.

On the third hand, if you don’t look at the patterns in your life, how will you deal with the things you don’t want that always seem to repeat?

What do you think?

And a question out of left field: You live in Asia. Do you fond that this kind of internal anguish and struggle and therapy is pretty much an Anglo or Western thing? Is there an equivalent in other cultures? Or is it just a reflection of Western extreme individualism?

I’ve always wondered about this as well. My experience doesn’t even come close to yours, but how does one stop himself from driving his fist through his abuser’s skull. Not only for the abuse inflicted on you, but for what he did to your family as well.

How is the rest of your family dealing with this? Are they doing better?

50millionThanks. I hope so too.

It is cathartic for me. I had a rough go for a while, mostly because of a work situation which I can’t get into. I’ve finally figured out how to handle the problem and I feel much better. That’s helping me feel better about life in general. Where things were cycling down, they are cycling back up now.

I wouldn’t hazard a guess who is a stronger person. You live life and try to make the best of it. I do know people who give up, but I don’t want to.

For revenge, not really seriously, though. Revenge and hate are cancers which kill a soul. I will never be friends with my older brother and will likely never have a civil conversation with him, but I don’t plan on having a hostile one either. When I confronted him about his actions, he wanted me to feel sorry for him, without apologizing to me. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. I don’t hate him, but I can’t love him either.

My father died 23 years ago and I don’t know what would have happened had he not passed away. I doubt that he would have ever owned the abuse either.

The abuse which my father and brother did to me were part of a cycle. They were abused (although I don’t think either were sexually) and certainly my father had serious mental problems. I don’t think that excuses him from his action, but it helps me place things in prospective.

I concentrate on ensuring that I break the pattern of abuse and try to protect people who are weaker than I am. I’ve never hit a family member or a woman in my life. I’ve never sexually abused anyone and I’ll never tolerate anyone else doing it to someone else.

This is the difficult question. Damn, I bet you ask others easier ones.

Seriously, though, you have to find a way to deal with the problems because it’s too much to ignore. The problems come out and get you, so you need to take care of them. They come out in various forms, such as depression, anxiety or panic attacks in different situations. I’ve had many years of CBT which has helped tremendously.

It’s still almost impossible for me to believe that people could like me, that I have value as a person or that I have talents. I’m still working on not needing as much external reinforcement and being able to trust myself.

There are people who always dredge up stuff, and then dredge it up again and again and again. This isn’t healthy. A couple of my aunts and my younger brother do this and they’ve never gotten very far in making improvements in themselves. Rehashing the hurt so much doesn’t help. You need to accept that you were hurt, but the larger question is what do you do about it.

When CBT works well, it’s because you look at patterns and figure what to do. There’s certain situations which used to cause me the same level of anxiety as if a person were holding a loaded gun to my head. (Seriously, you hit the flight, fight or freeze reflex and are in survival mode.)

I’ve learned how to deal with this, so that I don’t get that same level of anxiety. It’s more like someone is trying to hold me up with a sharpened popsicle stick. I feel a stab of anxiety, and then it’s “Get serious!”

Unfortunately, internal anguish and struggle is a world-wide fact of life. Therapy is lagging in Asia, but it’s not because people are happier, it’s more than people are more stoic, but that doesn’t mean they are any better. Also perhaps equally as unfortunate, it seems that too many people in the West use counseling as a form of escape of individual responsibility as well, so I don’t know what is the best thing.

I think I answered the first question, but as an addition, the point of life is to be a better person. Revenge is for the wimps.

My oldest sister is doing well. She home-schools the two best children in the States and I’ve got a great relationship with them. They love their uncle and I spoil them since I’m not responsible for their long-term mental stability.

Others in the family struggle. You can read about my younger brother and mother in the treads.
I do have to say that in spite of everything I’ve been though, and while I really would have less than zero of a desire to relive what I went through, I still wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s. I am who I am because of what happened. It’s my past and it’s me. I hope I’m a better person for having gone though it and I absolutely know that I’m more empathetic than I would have been otherwise.

I have a fantastic wife and in spite of many problems, still a close relationship with one sister and my mother.
I’m in a position to have a family now (cross your fingers and offer burnt offering to the gods of stuck toasters) and finally feel up to the task.