Old Ghosts Stirring... (Triggers?)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2002
Old Ghosts Stirring... (Triggers?)
10
Thu, 06-12-2003 - 10:50pm
Hello All...

It has been many months since I have even lurked here--much less posted! Most of you will likely not remember me so I will give you a bit of background first!

I was sexually abused by my stepfather for many years. Eventually, I got to a place emotionally where I decided to file a civil suit against him. That decision was a good one for me because even though it hurt--it ultimately helped me heal. In the process however, the abuse was "in my face" once again as I dealt with depositions, interrogatories and was subsequently hospitalized for the first time in my life due to the stress of it all. All in all, the case got very complicated and even though I ultimately won--it was a YEARS-LONG battle!

I was an emotional "wreck" for several years... but despite that I went back to college and obtained two degrees--an Associate's Degree in Social Services and on May 10 of this year I graduated with a B.S. in Mental Health and Human Services! Things gradually got better for me and for the past 9 months or so, I have been very happy and off anti-depressant medication.

About 6 months ago, my stepfather was diagnosed with bladder cancer. They went in and thought they got it all and that it was "no big deal." A few days ago, I learned from my mom (who is no longer with him) and my half siblings that the cancer is back and they are going to do chemotherapy and further testing to determine if it has spread. They are freaking out and my mom and I are trying to support them. Even my mom seems sad about it because it reminds her of the loss of her own mother to cancer. No one has asked me about my thoughts or feelings on the issue.

And so herein lies my confusion. My feelings are mixed! A part of me thinks, "Well, isn't THAT poetic justice!" And then I immediately feel guilty for being "heartless." And yet I am not heartless because there is another part of me that remembers the occasional times of fun and kindness. And I also remember that he DID raise me and provided for my basic needs. I am confused because I am having so many opposite feelings. And because there is still a little part of me that hopes that when his time comes, he will admit what he has done to me and apologize!

How's that for nuts? Thanks for listening, Lori
Avatar for opal45
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 12:25am
Hey! Long time no see.

I wouldn't say you're nuts at all, Lori. You're a perfect human being in my book. I'm sort of wrestling with many of the same mixed emotions, too. Don't you wish there was just one feeling associated with this person? That would make it so much easier.

I truly wish you peace.

**gentle hugs**

Gail


Edited 6/13/2003 12:29:51 AM ET by opal45

**gentle hugs**

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2002
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 6:40pm
Hi Gail,

It HAS been a long time! Thanks for your supportive response... I know things will get better again but every now and then, something gets triggered! Take care. Hugs, Lori
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 8:51pm
Your not nuts. If you are I am. Karma is one of the few thngs that keeps me going. That and the hope that we all do get a Judgement Day. And you know what? I'm tired of having to be "greatful" for the fact that my father put a roof over my head and food on the table. Parents owe that to any child they bring into the world or in your case marry into. We have a right to be hurt and very angy. And it is perfectly ok not to be invovled in this mans possible last days. You owe him NOTHING. On another note I'm glad to here you won a case against an abuser. It has been on my mind a lot lately.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 9:07pm
Not nuts at all! Sounds perfectly normal to me! I have mixed feelings about my father, too. It sounds like you're really listening to yourself, and I think that's a good thing!

Welcome back to the board. I hope you'll stick around and post some more!

Avatar for opal45
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Sat, 06-14-2003 - 12:38pm
You've experienced so much and I can hear such strength coming through your post. But I know what you mean, it's a bump like this that brings up some of those old ghosts. *sigh* Hang in there Lori. I'm glad you chose to come here and share this with us. Feel free to vent away if you ever feel like letting 'er rip.

It really is nice to see you again.

**gentle hugs**

Gail


Edited 6/14/2003 12:54:02 PM ET by opal45

**gentle hugs**

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2003
Sat, 06-14-2003 - 7:18pm
Wow, what a trigger! I can totally see where your feelings are so mixed. I know for me when my feelings are conflicting like that, the conflict comes from what I AM feeling and what I'm telling myself I SHOULD BE feeling. Usually the should be's come from things that my parents have hung over my head, like the food and shelter thing. And as already said, that is simply what you do when you are a parent. Kids don't owe their parents for providing for them; that is just part of being a parent. My counselor told me about a client she had whose mother kept track in a ledger every penny they ever spent on her--from groceries to dance lessons. She constantly held the dollar amount over her head, so finally this person went and took out a loan and wrote her parents a check. They were stunned when she told them what it was for and said she couldn't do that, and she said, "Oh yes I can, and I want you to clear that ledger of yours out because I owe you NOTHING."

You don't owe this man anything. Putting him on his deathbed doesn't make him a saint. I don't think you're being heartless. I can see where a part of you wants to hear the apology, but you can't count on that happening. You're in a tough spot where you and your mom are being supportive to HIS children, and your mom is being triggered into grieving over her mother again. Maybe the best thing would be to stay distanced other than when you speak to one of them ask how he's doing and leave it at that. I don't think you should get in the thick of everything that is going on. By asking them how he's doing you're showing you care about THEM, but you don't have to make yourself emotionally vulnerable. I'm sure it hurts you that none of them have asked you how YOU feel about what's going on. Was your mom supportive when you took him to court? I was wondering if she is someone you can talk to about your feelings, especially since she's not with him anymore.

I'll be thinking of you. Hugs, Heidi

HeidiRose

co-cl, Sexual Abuse Healing Board

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2003
Sat, 06-14-2003 - 7:20pm
Oh, I also meant to congratulate you on your college accomplishments! What you've achieved is fantastic! Way to go!
HeidiRose

co-cl, Sexual Abuse Healing Board

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Sat, 06-14-2003 - 10:35pm
Congratulations on your many fantastic accomplishments. You have to be a very strong woman.

I think I feel about my father in a similar way to the way you feel to your stepfather. My father was not overtly sexually abusive, but he was physically and emotionally abusive (and maybe a little bit sexually, but not with the touching, unless tickling counts) which probably paved the way for my being sexually abused by my grandmother's boyfriend. Now, he has emphysema and cancer. I am terribly confused about how I feel. "Poetic justice" sums up one aspect. Terribly sad, is another. He's the only father I have. He taught me to ride a bike. He has always bragged about me to others, even when he was telling me what a dumba** I was. He still brags about me being so smart, even though my brother is the one with a college degree with honors and the high paying job, and I'm an administrative assistant who just barely got through high school. (Wonder what that does for my brother?). I have only recently been able to tell him I love him. And I do. I also hate him. I hate how he has humiliated me in front of others in the name of "Just Joking" I hate how he - and my mom- were so blind that they could not see what my grandmother and her friend were doing to me. I don't feel bad for hating him any more, though I used to. I just don't understand - especially when it can flip back and forth between the two so quickly.

I'm not saying I know how you feel about your stepfather. Please don't think I'm trying to. This is what comes to mind for me when I read what you wrote.

Take care.

Deb

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2002
Sat, 06-14-2003 - 10:46pm
Heidi,

Thanks for your kind words... You asked if my mom is someone I can talk to? Well, she is basically a wonderful person but has NO CLUE as to the impact of what her husband did to me for all those years and doesn't really seem to want to know either! She comes to see us "kids" nearly every weekend but because my (half)brother lives with my stepfather, they expect that I will go over there to visit in order to see my brother. They think that because I have said "I can't ever forget what he did to me but I don't hate the man because that is energy wasted that could be used on someone who deserves my time and energy" that somehow it is okay to expect this of me. That I am the "strong one" and so I guess in their eyes it's "no big deal." My feeling is that just because I don't hate the man doesn't mean I want him in my face or that I want to be in his house hanging out like one big happy family!

My family was not directly supportive of my court case. No one came during the trial to be with me. Mom and my brother would not ask about it or speak of it unless I brought it up and even then it was very surface and quite brief! My (half) sister was more supportive and when she initially found out, she wanted to know what happened and tried to understand why/how he could do such a thing but she has always believed me. Still, once the "newness" and shock wore off, she also did not mention it that much.

Anyway, thanks for the support and for the congrats on my graduation. It has been a long road but I will NEVER regret going back to school! Hugs, Lori
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2002
Sat, 06-14-2003 - 11:03pm
Hi Deb,

Yes, it sounds as if we have some similar feelings in common and I want to thank you for writing and offering support! I can understand why YOU would also have such conflicting feelings! And there is nothing wrong (just in case you don't truly know this about yourself) with being an administrative assistant and barely making it through high school! You sound like a neat lady with a lot of positive qualities and if the job you are doing makes YOU happy, then that is what counts!! (Of course, it's nice if it also pays the bills-LOL!!)

Thanks also for thinking I am strong. I guess I am but it has taken me a long time to acknowledge that "strong" doesn't mean perfect, nor does it mean that we are not allowed to be vulnerable and hurt sometime. I have to keep reminding myself of that sometimes!

Take care, Lori