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    Let sleeping dogs alone.
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    5chanel5 posted:
    Not sure I want to start this discussion, but it's probably inevitable. Basic facts: 55 yr old female, middle of 5 girls all abused by brothers as kids, by father as older teenagers. Ice block Mother denied knowing until forced to see it in retrospect then said, oh well, it was a long time ago. Other sibs are still in family. I was the banished whistle blower. Here's the question: I really don't care anymore. Why do I feel guilt over really not caring? I did the adult thing by trying to mend the 15 year absense when my father was dying but was ignored as invisible. (Mostly to appease the 2 sisters I have limited conversations with.) They fault me for being bitter: but, I'm not bitter, just sad over such a huge waste of potential. Is it really so bad that I've moved on?
     
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    BalconyBelle responded:
    No.

    It's not bad that you've moved on. It's tragic that they haven't.

    Your sisters have chosen to be victims, and they have to live with that choice. Your mother chose to sacrifce her daughters to a monster and a hellish homelife, and she has to live with her choice. You had the strength to save yourself...and I commend you for your choice.

    It sounds like you're suffering from a classic case of survivor's guilt. True, your family's still alive, but they trapped themselves in a hell of their own making; you were the only one with the guts to get out. You abandoned a sinking ship, and your sisters and mother resent you for bailing into a lifeboat even as they voluntarily drowned. Not only did you blow the whistle, but by leaving, you had the strength to do what they never could.

    Bravo.

    It's not bitter to acknowledge that the past is real.Unfortunately, your sisters and your mother have slipped into a comfortable delusion of what their lives have been...and seeing you, being with you, exposes it for the lie it is. You have tried to mend fences, and it hasn't worked. You truly have nothing to feel guilty over.

    You made your choices, they made theirs, and now you all have to live with them. By their actions, they've proved that they'd rather treat you as an outsider than rock the boat of whatever cozy fiction allows them to deal with their lives (and their wasted potential)...and I don't blame you for deciding to leave them to it.

    Congratulations on choosing survival, and my condolences for having to see that your family's still lost. I wish you the best of luck, and keep your chin up. You are not wrong, and your decison to move on is not bad...it's just a shame your sisters couldn't do the same.
     
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    FCL responded:
    Moving on was the best possible thing you could do.

    You had enough respect for yourself to get out of that awful situation and grow. You have no reason to feel guilt. None. Your family accepted the unacceptable and you didn't. Be proud of yourself and sorry for them. Remind yourself as often as necessary that you have done your best and that you can do no more for them.

    And I second absolutely everything that BalconyBelle said too.

    Be kind to yourself.
    There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
     
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    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD responded:
    It's one thing to survive childhood abuse, but having to deal with current family 'politics' and emotions always complicates everything. So, let me say to begin with: Hang in there! You've been through some really tough times, and you can get through this, too.

    I strongly suggested that you spend time getting clear within yourself about how you are feeling and what you think about your actions -- and especially do this before and after interacting with your family. You ask if it's bad that you've moved on -- but I also hear that you don't think it's bad. So, while it can be very helpful to hear from others that moving on is good, not bad (and finding a healthy way to live your life is always a good direction to go in); I think it's even more important that you get to know this to be true from inside of you.
    You ask why you are "feeling guilt over really not caring." The fact that you are feeling guilt tells me that you do care about something -- though I'm not sure what.

    Sometimes people intellectually tell themselves that they haven't done anything wrong, but they have a level of emotional "thinking" or belief that says they have done something wrong. One way to get at this is to ask yourself what "crime" you have committed (or what you've done wrong)-- and be open to the answer that arises even if you don't fully believe it.

    Also, I find that people often mislabel as guilt what is actually sadness about a bad situation or having sympathy for others. For instance, "I feel guilty about moving on" can mean "I feel sad about all that has happened. I feel sad and disappointed that my siblings are still stuck in my destructive family dynamics; and that we don't have a close relationship." Is it possible that you are feeling something(s) that you are mislabeling as guilt?
     
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    5chanel5 replied to BalconyBelle's response:
    I want to personally thank you for your taking the time to reply. Since I've always had an affinity to water, I indentify strongly with your analogy of breathing the clean air above it. Without realizing it, I was sitting here, reading, and breathing it in deeply. Thank you. i don't have to feel like I'm holding my breath anymore. Thank you. Chanel.
     
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    5chanel5 replied to FCL's response:
    Thank you so very much. It's taken a long time, but I did finally learn that I am smart and artistic and caring, and often quite funny. And, yes, sometimes I need to remind myself that, but, heck, I think most people do. Thank YOU for caring! Chanel
     
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    5chanel5 replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    Thank you, Doctor Leslie, for that answer. I'm smiling because the answer is so clear. My "guilt" over my "crime" is because each time I have to justify my feelings to my 2 sisters, I am reminded that "Family is thicker than water". (Quicksand comes to mind.) Our DNA tells us to fight for the "Family" harder than any other fight. So my "crime" is not believing that I have to stay in that battle. I've been told that I'm guilty of being unforgiving. I don't have to forgive them. I'm not a judge, don't want to be a judge. (Every soul of us has something we wish we hadn't done. I personnally wish I hadn't lived self-destructively for so many years.) My lack of close relationship IS something I wish I could remedy, but, hey, there's always hope that they can breathe fresh air someday too. Would you recommend I suggest they visit this intechange to, perhaps, explain better than I seem to be able to do?
     
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    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to 5chanel5's response:
    No, I think that it needs to be dealt with more personally. I think you have to find a way to get the message across to them in a way they might understand. Perhaps you can consult with a therapist for how to do this -- either on your own or in the context of therapy.
     
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    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    5chanel5, what you've shared here inspired me to write more in my blog about your situation, which I think many others share. The blog entry is Child Abuse: Lasting Effects on Families . I hope you find it helpful.
     
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    5chanel5 replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    Thank you for your writing more on this. I read your response of a week ago and decided to sit back and think it through more carefully, as you suggested. One day, maybe, they will ask how I've gotten more peaceful and healthy. And then will be the time they might be more able to hear the answer. Thank you for caring!
     
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    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to 5chanel5's response:
    You are most welcome. I do wish you well-- whether or not they ever come around.


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