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Getting past childhood abuse...?


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I’m sorry if this ends up being long-winded and convoluted, but I feel like I need to get this off my chest.


I’m 16 years old and just months ago, I came into terms with the reality that I was, in fact, emotionally and physically abused as a child (mostly my father). I admit, I blocked out a lot things and repressed a lot of my emotions.Iit’s catching up to me and for the first in time, I can honestly say that I have no idea what am I doing with my life and that just scares me.


Just to give you a better picture: my dad also was emotionally abused by his own father, so that explains quite a bit about his erratic demeanor. Strange enough, my first childhood memory was the image of my father striking my mother. Even before, I distinctly remember having dreams about him terrorizing us, which I guess is why I had such ill-conceived notions of him. Unfortunately, that’s all there was ever available to me for the next 10 years or so. I practically grew up around domestic violence with the constant terrorizing, neglect, and abandonment. For example, I remember how he choked my mother when I was eight, and then he knocked me out when I was ten because I tried calling the cops on him. Even going to sleep at night, I used to cry and panic that if he kills us or does something to my mom. The fighting and abuse was nonstop, fatiguing, and leeching away any hope I had. Things eventually got much worse in the final 3 years before the separation. He just kept abusing alcohol regularly and became more violent.



Fast forward it’s been two years since my dad has been out of our lives thankfully. Unfortunately, I’m struggling with the aftermath and what this might mean for me in the long run. I thought things would be much better from the minute when he walked out of our lives, but clearly, I was dead wrong.


I have been known to be painfully shy, extremely self-conscious, and sometimes indifferent. I fooled myself into thinking it was a solely self-image issue and maybe if I were more beautiful, I would radiate more confidence. That whole mindset failed quite wonderfully and made me feel more worthless and pathetic because I failed to acknowledge this was more of a systemic issue, than a superficial one.


This year, in one of my literature classes, my teacher does an informal evaluation of us and our progress (not so much academic-based – but just overall). He told me that he feels like that my lack of participation in his class and shyness might have something to do with negative experiences in the past. That really had me thinking and then it clicked..


The more I think about it – it feel likes the more pieces I’m putting together about my childhood and it makes some sense as why I might be the way I am. Alongside with the abuse from my dad, my first babysitter was abusive and would even starve me when I was only 2-3 years old, which explains I was so afraid of adults when I was younger. My aunts and uncles even put the blame on me about family problems and some family friends told my mom that “children aren’t affected by this as long you remind that not to mind so much.”


I must clearly be an outlier because that mantra led to me to believe everything was normal when it wasn't, and now I feel like I’m falling apart.


So here I am, midst of adolescence as the front of adulthood presses on my life and I can honestly say I have never been so terrified. I’m so hell-bent what this means in the long-run and the possibility of it being a lifelong battle. I saw several of my friends go into relationship this year and I feel like I’m gonna waste away my existence because I can’t see myself being vulnerable to another human being and I doubt someone wants to be with an emotional unstable person, like me. My teachers have even expressed their disappointment with me in terms of communication, but I freak out when it comes to interacting with adults or people of higher authority, so I screw up on the little things. Then I think about success, and I feel hopeless knowing that past and current circumstances aren’t so conducive in fostering the confidence I need for my ambitions (I take by academics pretty seriously). Then, I’m seeing some of my friendships break apart because they can’t deal with how morose or indifferent I am or how I intentionally distance myself from people.


My mom and I even have a lukewarm relationship, which is unfortunate. Just yesterday, we got into an argument and she was telling me how I need to be more like my cousins because they were all so beautiful, smart, and social. That kind of hurt me because now I feel like I’m a source of shame to her.


You know, what the hardest part about all this is? I just can’t over the feeling that maybe of I did something differently (like have better coping skills or be less sensitive) when I was younger, I wouldn’t be such a wreck. I don’t know. I have opened up to a few people (as in 1-2 teenage friends) about this, and they just trivialized it and told me that I was needlessly worrying about because they “supposedly” went through similar things in their lifetime (and they’re all right). Maybe they don’t realize the extent of it all? But what if I’m being over-analytical about this whole thing.


That’s when I began question everything and whether I am blowing this out of proportion and reading too much into.


Sorry for simply spewing things out there

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You are really young and still have so much ahead of you. Social life in highschool is not that important and those things change. I think you got a very good grasp on what is bothering you and what you can work on.


I think you would benefit greatly from counseling, I had went through with it about a year ago and it helped me get through my last year of college and perform very well when I was having all kinds of issues and failing classes.


Therapy can help you improve in all areas of your life. You already have a pretty good idea of what is going on, you are naturally pessimistic and also untrusting of authority because of your past so part of cognitive behavioral therapy is recognizing and catching yourself in those situations and when the anxiety starts you can realize that the worries are not rational and there is nothing to worry about.



Also one point my shrink made that I thought was very helpful was its ok to be nervous because then you know you are out of your comfort zone and you need practice to get better.

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First of all, I think it's great that you wrote about your life and problems so honestly and openly here. It is not easy, I know from experience. But it helps a bit to sort it out when you have to write it down clearly so others would understand. It also seems to me from how you wrote that you're clearly a very intelligent young person, who is capable of deep self-analysis. That's why I also would recommend that you seek some sort of therapy. Because of what you went through was horrible and you need some help from a therapist to let go of it and start your own life. I think it'll help a lot!


I'll comment on a few things you said:


I thought things would be much better from the minute when he walked out of our lives, but clearly, I was dead wrong.

Sadly, it doesn't work that way. I was in an abusive relationship, and I also thought that if I'd break up, things would be instantly better. They aren't, I'm still struggling with the aftermath. Healing takes time. You've known nothing but violence and abuse, and it doesn't go away overnight. I wish it did, but it's not the case. It takes months, and years. But it can happen! You can have a normal life and feel good about yourself. It's worth trying!


My aunts and uncles even put the blame on me about family problems and some family friends told my mom that “children aren’t affected by this as long you remind that not to mind so much.”

This is so wrong! Children are VERY MUCH affected by violence and abuse in the family, even more so than your Mom, for example. It must have been very tough on her too, no doubt, but it's even harder on children, because they can't control anything. They can't move away, or decide to separate from their Dad. It's totally unfair for anyone to say that if you tell kids they shouldn't mind so much, then they won't be affected by this. I think it's awful and in stead of saying that, they should have told her to end the relationship, so the kids won't have to go through something like that!


You know, what the hardest part about all this is? I just can’t over the feeling that maybe of I did something differently (like have better coping skills or be less sensitive) when I was younger, I wouldn’t be such a wreck.

YOU didn't have to do anything differently. This is something that happened to you, it was horrible, but it's not CAUSED by you. It isn't your fault that your childhood was abusive. NOTHING you could have done would have made a difference, you were just a child. It's not about being more or less sensitive. What you're feeling now is the result of growing up in an abnormal situation, not the result of being too sensitive. YOU were not responsible for you Dad's actions, or your babysitter's actions. Parents are supposed to protect their kids and help them achieve their full potential. Your coping skills have nothing to do with your childhood. It's OK to feel weird if you've been in a very damaging situation, everyone would feel that way. In fact, I think your coping skills are quite good, because you've obviously not given up, you're trying to do very good academically and make something out of your life.


I suggest that you get some therapy as soon as you can and sort some of those issues out, because it seems to me you blame yourself a lot and think what happened to you is something you could have changed, by being stronger or less sensitive. It's not. You were just a child and you did the best you could, under the circumstances.


And try not to worry about your future too much. You're still so young, there's so much you can do and achieve. This was terrible but don't let it define you! It's hard to overcome it but it will happen, if you work on it, and I feel like you have great potential for that.


Hang in there!

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Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I truly appreciate it.


I don't know. To be honest, I have thought about therapy a number of times and I just have mixed emotions about that (or at least, at the moment). I'm still very cynical and have a hard time opening up to people. It also doesn't help that I have heard different things about it and its effectiveness. But I'm hoping once I'm a little more independent and older, I will eventually reach a point where I can look into that (hopefully by college).


It's still extremely difficult because I just feel like a lot of my family doesn't really acknowledge the damage it might have done to me. My mom and I get into a few arguments every now and then. Whenever I mention to her that I am affected and distressed by the past, she becomes utterly shocked and refuses to believe me. She thinks I'm making excuses for myself and that I should able to function like a normal human being (rest of my family shares the same opinion). I can't express to you guys how many times I had people (extended family and friends) accentuate on my inadequacies and shortcomings with total disregard to my circumstances. That's one of the many reasons I feel like I can't heal because I'm led to believe that I'm culpable for my own flaws. I HATE using my circumstances as an excuse for anything - I feel like I should be past that point already, which is why it might have taken me forever to acknowledge certain realities. For that reason, I have this mentality ingrained in my head that I need to be the one fixing this for myself - on my OWN terms. But how do I go about it? Or is that really asking for too much on my part? Then there are days where I feel like I can't escape from it and I'm only fooling myself. It's a mess.



(I don't mean to villify my mom in any sense. I love her and she's been incredibly strong throughout this whole process. It probably has caused her more stress than might have caused me. She tried her best to us together and I'm thankful for that. But it seems like we have different perceptions of situations. )

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