I understand that I have to forgive myself, but how can I for a decision that ruined my life?

David1959

Confident
Perhaps before getting to release the belief we failed, first we have to understand those fragments and the pain from them.
This is probably true and I am trying very hard to punch through the images to see what follows, but not able to. Not sure if there are no memories to see or if I am blocking. As for forgiving myself, In therapy I am beginning to explore how to do this but it begins by exploring why I can't forgive myself. I am sure there are many reasons but the one that seems to linger in my mind is that even though I was only 10, I new it was wrong, I did not like it and tried to fight but was overpowered but then why did I go back for two years and allow this? That is some f'd up shit and as I explore the lifelong damage I keep comig back to the fact that it was ultimately my fault for not saying anything and voluntarily returning.

Everyone says it was not your fault but rather the pedophiles fault. If I was walking in the woods as a young boy and a bear came out of the woods to attack me would it not be my fault for not running!
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
If I was walking in the woods as a young boy and a bear came out of the woods to attack me would it not be my fault for not running!
Unless you were unbelievably fast and the bear unbelievably slow, you wouldn't be able to outrun the bear. Bears run faster than humans. So, no, it wouldn't be your "fault" if the bear caught you. Pedophiles are typically better at what they do that children are at evading them too.
 

David1959

Confident
Unless you were unbelievably fast and the bear unbelievably slow, you wouldn't be able to outrun the bear. Bears run faster than humans. So, no, it wouldn't be your "fault" if the bear caught you. Pedophiles are typically better at what they do that children are at evading them too.
At least if I ran I would stand a chance but sitting there and letting the bear eat me is the weight I carry :-( I do appreciate the words of encouragement
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I feel what you are feeling now is 100% valid.

Keep feeling this feeling and eventually only you can see the trees out of the forest. The most important thing is at least you understand (thinking, logic, and reasoning) that a 10-12 years child's ability to make any decision in this type of abuse is most often impossible. So that is a plus. To feel what you felt then, and process and grieve, unfortunately only you can do that and "to get that feeling, process, grieve" needs to happen in safe space with at least one person you trust and may take few times or longer times or as much as you need. IMHO, it is good discussion here but you probably will not get the embodiment of your own experience to know what stopped you from telling anyone (it is possible also you did not trust your family enough to tell them or you were made convinced your family was not trustworthy or even you were protecting your family from this person albeit he/she may do this to another child you cared for - so you sacrificed yourself for the greater good...so many reasons). Trauma is a bitch! so many variables and mirrors not available to us.

I find a lot of times most abused people's perception becomes the abuser's point of view of the abused (as children) (the abuser knew 100% you were not going to tell on him/her) so they induced you into that helplessness state and indoctrinated you. One of the most effective way to take advantage of another human is to disarm them of their own natural inclination to protect. You were not a good match for a sick adult bent on causing harm.

Now, you are percolating that thought and feelings and hopefully you will find your own unique understanding of your story.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
Replace the word "fault" with "responsibility", when dealing with childhood trauma. You might find that it helps.

And, try replacing the word "forgive/forgiveness" with "accept" and "acceptance".

Acceptance is not agreement. Acceptance is about a neutral as one can get, when trying to reconcile complicated realities.

You could also think of acceptance as meaning "coming to terms with"...I deeply regret my own participation in my trauma. I can't conceive of forgiving myself. But - I can come to terms with the facts: it happened, and there's no time machine that is going to take me backwards so I can make different decisions. I work on accepting that these events occurred, and I work on understanding how responsibility worked, in the power dynamic. I can say it was my fault for ending up in the situation...but I can't say that everything that happened is my responsibility. I'm not responsible for what they did. They are responsible for it.

So, saying "it was their fault" - that's almost impossible, to me. But saying "they are responsible for their actions - I can't assume responsibility for those. And in the bigger picture - who is charged with being responsible, when the people involved are a 10-12 year old child and an adult? It's not the child.
 

David1959

Confident
you were protecting your family
As I explore, this may be true. My T is really digging into my state of mind at the time and encouraging me to relive moments, push through my "Flashbulb" memories. It is very hard and there is so little that I can see beyond that moment. Putting little pieces of the puzzle together is painting a disturbing picture that I have to face but is very debilitating. We have not arrived there yet but it is very likely that my initial reason for not saying anything could have been to protect my parents who were going through a rough time (they ended up getting divorced a couple of years later).

I am also learning (what a funny word because it is less learning than uncovering what I already knew) some very troubling realities;
  • I was targeted and groomed by a professional pedophile
  • He took photos during all the abuse sessions (I suspect he was selling them)
  • My memories of the actual abuse are fairly limited and always cover only the beginning of each abuse session and I was likely drugged
  • My abuse from 10-12 was just the beginning of my traumas which led to years of heavy drug use, starting at 13 but heavy from 14-18
  • Even though my parents were very loving and I was extremely close with both until their passing 34 & 15 years ago, I felt and in some ways abandoned as a child
  • I have been driven throughout my life to be very independent and take care of myself at all costs
Tons more but for another day
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Hi I’m sorry you have to deal with this. I have to deal with it as well, with only limited success. I feel misunderstood mostly in trying to talk about it? I’d like to help anyone that has had to try and deal with it and has been able to acknowledge it and survive. Because that’s how I see it.
I survived. Its lonely though. I know it wasn’t me. Idk if anyone could’ve done anything. It’s not as important anymore. I’m lonely sometimes. I’ve been fortunate though. It’s really difficult.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
The Royal Commission we had here in Australia just recently, which looked at the accounts of tens of thousands of CSA survivors, found that the average time it took for a victim of CSA to disclose their abuse to someone?

was 27 years.

That's the average. Many were only disclosing it for the first time (confidentially) for the purposes of inquiry. But for the inquiry, they would have gone on not having told anyone. Ever.

So child you? Did what was normal for CSA victims.

Is it possible for you, one day, to forgive yourself for being normal in the way you coped? You coped with something frightening and confusing the same way most victims cope with it.

You didn't 'ruin' your life. That's victim-blaming. That's asking child-you to cope in an abnormal, superhuman way to something horrific when what you really did was what most victims do to cope.

The person who ruined shit was your abuser. If you can't forgive anyone in this scenario? That's the person to decide can't be forgiven.
 
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Justmehere

Moderator
I have to admit my own responsibility for not trying to protect myself.

Respectfully, I think you did try to protect yourself. Ever heard of fight, flight, freeze, or fawn? They are all survival responses engaged to protect and survive. Chances are, in the mix of it, your brain probably considered all of them and figured out freeze happened to be the best way for a 10 year old to survive against a professional child rapist.

Using the bear example, I live in bear/mountain lion country. Running is about the worst way to survive an encounter with a bear or mountain lion. They want the chase. It doesn't give the person a better chance to survive, it's actually a good way to increase chances of death when otherwise one could have lived.

Child rapists have a way of chasing their victims. Grooming them. Escalating if they fight and run. Thing is, escaping them is not that easy or straight forward. I spoke up about child abuse to people who were trained to respond and it made things worse and no one believed me until it escalated into another child dying. By then, I was gone.

Everyone says it was not your fault but rather the pedophiles fault. If I was walking in the woods as a young boy and a bear came out of the woods to attack me would it not be my fault for not running!

I'd congratulate the person who didn't run for having the courage to use successful survival skills that kept them alive.

I'd think they had bad-ass courage to make it out alive.

Which is how I see any adult that had to contend with a child rapist as a kid and yet still managed to survive it.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
At least if I ran I would stand a chance but sitting there and letting the bear eat me is the weight I carry :-( I do appreciate the words of encouragement
David....you are not little anymore and there are no decisions to be made now "if I do this....this might happen...".and you carried that idea, grew up with .....if I had done something, something else (hopefully more promising) might be my lot (outcome) in life-or I could have stopped it sooner." You are right......if you had done something different.....things would probably have had a different outcome......they might be better.....but you had an equal or greater chance they might be worse....you might have gotten hurt worse....you might not have lived if you told.....and if you ran.....they would have looked hard and long for you out of fear...and probably found you...........then there would have been consequences.

You will never know what the outcome would have been......so you need to stop beating yourself up and let this kind of thinking go......How? I do this by writing it down and burning it. There is something about fire that is cleansing.....and it is transformative....when you throw a problem written on paper in a fire....you watch it transform....into something very different.

With things I need to let go of....I give that part of me that holds the guilt and shame the attention is is seeking (it's a big job to hold all that guilt and shame for so many years unacknowledged)....I had some similar issues, about my abusers, and did this. If I were you, I'd write each and everyone of those possibilities that come in your head.... on a different sticky noteor piece of paper. Build a fire in a safe place, read the sticky note out loud, have a talk with yourself about why you didn't choose that with safety in mind, and when you are done with that possibility, throw it in the fire pit/fireplace or wherever and let it go.....Give each concern on paper it's one last due attention....and then let each one go and watch that possibility burn into ashes as it never existed in reality the first place.....because it is...just one possible act that you could have done............and then thank the part of you......that is stricken with shame/guilt over not have trying harder.....and forgive that part of you.....and then give thanks to it for keeping you alive. That part of you did the best it could in a horrific situation. Acknowledge that part of you.....that is hurting......and let it know that it doesn't have to feel that way anymore......and it is safe within you......console yourself that you are taking steps to make a brighter future and more positive memories.
 

oakleaves

Confident
What do you think is so scary about accepting that it was not your fault?

I agree with the posts above about fight, flight, freeze, submit. The submit response is very real. We are conditioned by our experiences too including earlier attachment experiences. I think my early attachment patterns (not my fault, they develop when you are very young) left me with needs that weren't met and abusers prey on that so that even if a tiny part of thatneed (for warmth, closeness, recognition etc etc) is met in an even slight way you might go back. It doesn't mean you want the other stuff. I wonder whether that is the case for you. You were a child. All kinds of processes keep that stuff going and it wasn't you. Sometimes moving away from fixed beliefs is very scary for parts of us though. I hope you can find a way forward.
 
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