Woman still an­gry at fam­ily for ig­nor­ing child­hood trauma

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - COMMUNITY/FEATURES - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069. For an ex­cel­lent guide to be­comi

DEAR ABBY: At the age of 15 I was raped by my first boyfriend. It’s how I lost my vir­gin­ity. Shortly after­ward, I be­came se­verely de­pressed and bu­limic. I blocked my trauma un­til 11 years later, when I had a flash­back. I sought out a ther­a­pist and have been see­ing him for the past six months.

I feel so much re­sent­ment and anger to­ward my fam­ily for not hav­ing helped me through this dif­fi­cult time. They didn’t know about the rape, but they knew about my eat­ing dis­or­der, and I’m sure they must have no­ticed my de­pressed mood. They sim­ply looked the other way, and I was of­fered no help what­so­ever.

I am an­gry with my mother es­pe­cially, be­cause she has al­ways been de­tached and crit­i­cal of me. I’m afraid to tell her what hap­pened for fear of be­ing blamed. She has now been di­ag­nosed with can­cer, and I’m afraid she’ll die be­fore I get the courage to tell her. What can I do? – AN­GRY IN CAL­I­FOR­NIA

DEAR AN­GRY: It might be help­ful to look more care­fully at the rea­sons why you are an­gry with your fam­ily.

It’s un­fair to blame them for not rec­og­niz­ing some­thing they were never told. It is not un­com­mon for teenagers to with­draw to some ex­tent in or­der to es­tab­lish their own iden­ti­ties, apart from their par­ents. Your par­ents may have thought that was what you were do­ing. As to your eat­ing dis­or­der, I re­mem­ber a time in the not-too-dis­tant past when lit­tle was known about anorexia and bu­limia. It wasn’t un­til af­ter the death of record­ing artist Karen Car­pen­ter that me­dia at­ten­tion fo­cused on how se­ri­ous and life-threat­en­ing an eat­ing dis­or­der could be.

This is not to ex­cuse your mother for her in­abil­ity to be the par­ent you needed while grow­ing up.

It’s im­por­tant that you work with your ther­a­pist on how to talk to her about all of your feel­ings. It shouldn’t be done in an ac­cusatory man­ner, and you should have no fear of be­ing blamed for your rape. It wasn’t your fault that you were as­saulted, and no one should be able to make you feel guilty for hav­ing been a vic­tim — not even your mother — who, I am sure, will be shocked by your rev­e­la­tion.

DEAR ABBY: I have known “Ju­lia” for a long time. She was my best friend in high school and my maid of honor when I got mar­ried.

She and her hus­band have an open re­la­tion­ship and in­vite other women into their bed­room. Sev­eral years ago, when my hus­band and I were strug­gling, they asked me if I wanted to join them. I de­clined in fa­vor of work­ing on my mar­riage. Af­ter that, Ju­lia and I drifted apart and we spoke only rarely.

Our chil­dren go to the same school now, so we have re­con­nected and I re­al­ize how much I have missed hav­ing her as a close friend. Re­cently, how­ever, Ju­lia’s hus­band, “Jerry,” has started mak­ing sug­ges­tive re­marks when he’s the one pick­ing their daugh­ter up from school. It makes me re­ally un­com­fort­able. When I told my hus­band about it, he wasn’t happy.

How do I ask this man to stop with­out los­ing Ju­lia’s friend­ship again? I see them ev­ery day now, and I’d hate for there to be bit­ter­ness be­tween us. – NOT IN­TER­ESTED THAT WAY

DEAR NOT IN­TER­ESTED: Tell Jerry that his com­ments are mak­ing you un­com­fort­able and to cut it out.

Point out that while you and your hus­band are not judg­men­tal about their life­style, you are not in­ter­ested in be­ing more than good pla­tonic friends. Then re­peat it to Ju­lia, so she hears it straight from you. If, af­ter that, your re­fusal to par­tic­i­pate in their bed­room an­tics causes “bit­ter­ness,” then so be it.

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