There’s been a pretty big event in my life that has impacted my ability to cope with my anxiety and feelings of despair and sadness.
I have a little sister, 12, who has high-functioning autism and sensory processing disorder. My parents (technically 1/2 mine — my mother and stepfather), struggle a lot with how to discipline her and keep her outbursts meltdowns under control. Ever since she was little (and so was I), my stepfather has handled it...not very well. Lots of yelling, screaming, “spanking” (more like hitting). Just thinking about it makes me feel sick and tear up. It’s been getting worse over the past few years, perhaps due to the fact that my little sister has been going through puberty and is very hormonal/emotional. But I’ve been caught in fights where my stepfather will throw and slam things, and tell her very hurtful things, such as that he can’t be happy because of her, that she was a mistake, and so on. Whenever I’ve confronted my mother about it, she gets very angry with me and very defensive, saying that it is “just how it is” or “just how he is”.
A couple of months ago, things got really bad. I work in childcare and have learned a decent amount about child abuse and problematic behavior. I was scared, so I called DCS. I didn’t do this because I wanted my sister to be taken away — that’s not the purpose of DCS. The purpose is to help and provide resources and try to resolve problems, and only remove the child if he/she is in immediate danger. After I made the call, nothing really happened so I stopped thinking about it. A couple of days ago, however, my mother called me and told me that she had received a call from DCS. She asked me if I had made a report, and I couldn’t think of a good lie so I just decided to admit that I did. She became angry, and had the phone on speaker with a couple of other members of the family. My other sister (who is not autistic) began to yell at me, telling me that I was “hypersensitive” and was going to “tear the family apart” and only did it “to spite” my stepfather. None of these things were my intention, but nevertheless that it was happened. Once my stepfather found out, he suspended my phone plan and I had to get my own. I have been relying on my “real” father for the past few days as emotional support. He doesn’t seem to believe I screwed up, but I’m gripped by agony and anxiety because I think I might be. Was I overthinking the whole situation? Am I really hypersensitive? Does everyone in the family now know what I did? Is everyone judging me? How much do they hate me?
I haven’t spoken to anybody in the family since the phone call, and I haven’t really wanted to. Yet, I’m still sick with anxiety. All I wanted to do was help, not hurt. Yet I feel like all I’ve done and all I ever do is hurt.
Honesty, congratulations if you’ve read this whole thing. I guess what I’m asking is: did I make a mistake? If so, how big? How do I abate some of this anxiety that comes from the uncertainty of it all? Is there anything that I can do?