Breakthrough conversation *may be triggering

I just had this HUGE breakthrough conversation with my mother about a week ago and I am reeling from it. I have spent the past year trying to work intensively on recovering from complex PTSD/ developmental trauma caused by ongoing sexual abuse by my father and complete emotional neglect and abandonment by my mother and pretty much the rest of my family as well. My experiences have always been ignored and overlooked by my family and I have been expected to be silent and pretend everything was hunky dory for me. I have been told in many different ways by different people that almost no one believed that I was sexually abused.

My memories of the early days of my abuse have been only in bits and pieces until recently when I have been trying to put the pieces together and gather up the true narrative of my life. A few months ago I remembered the first time I was raped when I was 5 years old and it was devastating, but also validating be cause i always knew there was more than what I was remembering from that time. I have always known my father was arrested around that time and discovered that the charges against him were dropped when it was a young adult and searching for answers probably 20 years ago or so.

So last week, my mom was in town for a visit and I told her about my PTSD. I expected to be dismissed and belittled for this, but I don't really have the energy to hide how much I struggle anymore. I had decided before the conversation to just leave it at that and not get into the past or any kind of detail, but she completely blew me away when she said, " well I am not surprised after what happened to you." That led to a further conversation about what happened when my father was arrested and why the charges were dropped and why she turned me over to him every weekend for the rest of my childhood ( they were divorced around that time) and why she completely emotionally abandoned me.

That's a lot. It's more than I ever expected to know about what happened to me and I spent the first several days after the conversation in completely shock. Since then, though I have been extremely anxious and angry as well as grief stricken. I feel like I have had some sort of huge setback. Before this conversation I felt like I was starting to uncover some of who I truly am and making real progress in my recovery. Now I feel really lost again. Has anybody had something similar happen? I just never in a million years would have thought anyone in my family would come clean and admit to anything, least of all my mom. I want to be happy and grateful for that, but instead I feel utterly devastated.

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  • I have a very similar past. My father started sexually abusing me from before I have memory bc my first memory of it is when I was 3. I never really got full acknowledgement from any family either. They all believed me bc they all (most) knew it was happening all my life but did or said nothing. A couple people even confronted my dad a couple times but they believed his lame excuses. I even told my mom when she point blank asked me one time. It didn't do anything. They divorced when I was 5 which actually gave him a lot more time alone with me with joint custody.

    No one in my family doubted my abuse when my boyfriend told when I was 15. Yet not one actually acknowledged it by saying anything to me about what I went through. It was more like a fact everyone knew and we all pretended didn't matter. When it came out I was the one who was resented for upsetting the apple cart. I always had a somewhat volatile relationship with my mom bc I knew she knew and she was always jealous and resentful of me. I was, of course, bitter and resentful of her for totally neglecting to protect or care about what happened to me. After it came out, she kept pretending she didn't know which enraged me even more.

    She got sick with cancer soon after it came out and that's when we both really started trying to work on our relationship. Only one time in a card did she say "maybe I did know" and that was as much as she gave me. I know she talked to her pastor about it all and at her funeral the pastor looked directly at me and said, "love is never having to say you're sorry." Even in all my grief over losing her, I wanted to punch him in the throat and rip out the tongue that uttered such an asinine comment with the audacity of looking straight at me with a scolding and condescending smirk.

    I digress....I can totally get why your moms comments sent you reeling. Yes, it's what we so desperately wanted all our lives...acknowledgement and validation of what happened to us. But we lived our whole lives learning to adapt to the lies and pretend ignorance. When that suddenly and abruptly changed in an instant, that's going to have a profound effect on you. A lifetime of visceral pain, sadness, confusion and rage will surface.

    I totally get it. Glad you posted.

    Continue to share with us as you work through these intense emotions or feel free to private message me.

  • Thank you so much for your reply. It sounds like we have had very similar experiences in at least some respects. Thank you for validating my feelings. Most of my friends try to be supportive but view this conversation as only positive and don't understand why it has thrown me for such a loop. It's difficult to explain to someone who doesn't get it why the apology and validation I have waited a lifetime for has also been traumatic in it's own right. And the truth is, I much prefer the version of events I pieced together in my own head about things to my mother's version of events. If anything, her version implicates her and everyone else a whole lot more than what I had assumed all of these years. It is so, so much to take in. I know it makes no sense to most but I was actually easier to believe that she never believed I was abused than to now know that she knew, believed it and still handed me over to him every weekend without fail until I chose to leave home at 17. Anyway, thank you, truly for responding and sharing. I will try pm'ing you if that's okay.

  • You hit it the reason spot on...you had your own version of events carefully crafted after a lifetime of trying to make sense of it. And I can certainly attest to the fact that we often give them much more the benefit of the doubt in our own attempts to comprehend how they let the abuse happen to us. To suddenly hear otherwise....in such a way that further "clarifies" what they knew, how much they knew, and how they chose to either deal or not deal with it, would be devastating in a lot of ways. Besides the obvious ways, it once again calls into question our own judgement and perception which I feel has been the most lasting and damaging effects of my abuse. The narrative you finally came to terms with to understand and accept (to whatever level we're able to accept) what happened has changed in an instant and in a way that only emphasizes the unthinkable injustices you endured.

    I'm happy to PM!!

  • So sorry that you have suffered so much

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