So, how should I feel realizing at 62 my parents, whom I loved, did a terrible job?

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20, 30, 40 years ago or for that matter 5 years ago if you had asked me about my childhood upbringing I would have called it pretty normal. Deep in my disassociated highly compartmentalized mind I knew that I had been sexual assaulted by a pedophile from the ages of 10-12. Those memories so locked behind a steel curtain that while I always new it happened I rarely gave it a conscious thought. What I did not realize until I started therapy 5 years ago (not by choice but rather because I had melted into a pile of goo) was that trauma was an invisible hand guiding my life and life-long decisions. However, other then that it was pretty normal.

I grew up in NYC in an upper middle class neighborhood that was predominantly jewish (Although I consider myself culturally Jewish I am actually an atheist) so much so that the public schools all closed on Jewish holidays. I would describe my life, until I was 13 as pretty straightforward and normal as long as we don't count the CSA from 10-12. In my mind the only thought that was available to me about the abuse was self blame for never speaking up. This self blame manifested itself in many destructive ways.

5 years ago, to survive, I finally went to a therapist and told the first person in my life about my abuse, a 50 year secret and then told my wife. I went to therapy for 6 months until I could function again, put everything back in the box and returned to my life. That was, until about a year ago when I started to slip back into depression and 6 months ago started with a new therapist weekly.

Through this exploration she was able to unlock for me to face the facts about that perfectly normal childhood, not so much. It was not until we walked through some of the issues over months that she guided me to the realization that my CSA while significant was just one of many traumas that changed the course of my life. I have blamed myself for 50 years for any errors, mistakes or bad decisions. My initial memories of most occasions and events in my life are a negative thing that might of happened and those memories are often physical leaving my body shaking until I shut them down.

So as I pull the curtain back and analyze these additional traumas I can see that one disaster led to another with little intervention on my behalf to help me make good decisions. Throughout my life I have blamed myself for every bad decision whether it was mine to make or not. Below I will go through just some of the traumas I have been forced to face in therapy. What made me finally recognize that my childhood was not normal or healthy was my therapist asking me if I would accept what I have had to go through for my own children and my answer, hell no, I would never subject my two children to that level of instability. As a child who basically raised themselves in many ways I would never, never, never allow my children to have gone through what I did.

  • The destruction of my life began when I was 10. I was targeted and groomed by a professional pedophile who abused me until I was 12. He was a family acquaintance who my parents let take me on ski trips and other events. This is the core of my traumas and my life long dedication to blame myself for anything that goes wrong and blamed myself for never speaking up and telling my parents. Why did my parents not realize? I believe they were dealing with so many issues that they basically left me alone as I always masked my feelings and exuded an I'm ok public face
  • At about this same time my brother who is 4 years older found out he was adopted. This created a lot of trauma for him and my parents spent a lot of time dealing with his issues, I was sort of off on the side not needing much attention.
  • At about 12 or 13 my mother attempted suicide
  • At 13 my parents got divorced and after a short period with my mother I decided I wanted to live with my father.
  • At about the same time my dad got a job in Texas so we moved there for two years and it is where I spent my first year of high school
  • Also at about the same time I started experimenting with drugs and was a major user of all types from 13-19. Everything from Pot to LSD, Cocaine to downers. Looking back this was an attempt to deal with the traumas.
  • After 9th grade we moved back to NY and I went to school in NY for 10th and 11th. We lived at my aunts until she threw us out because of my drug use. All through this my grades were crap and I was barley attending class. No one ever asked me about any of this, I was on my own
  • My dad took a job in Puerto Rico and we moved there which is where I went to my senior year of HS. In 2 years in PR I moved 8 times
  • During this period I was failing but no one asked or helped, my fault again for not speaking up
  • I never went to college but could not have anyway as I never graduated from my senior year in PR plus it was a private school and we owed them $$$ so I could not have gotten my diploma even if I had not failed Spanish.
  • Again no one discussed college, applications or anything related to helping me but I have lived with that failure blaming myself for not asking for help
Within each bullet point above there are additional traumas that kept piling up until all that was left was a broken, damaged child. I was ill-equipped to deal with life and had to create my own coping mechanisms, some good, some bad. Realizing how many traumas I experienced and made worse by my own actions it is kind of a miracle that I am even alive. As a child I never thought I would live past 21.

Where does this leave me today? Not sure as in some odd ways these lifelong problems I have dealt with seem all new in the sense that I am viewing them through a different lens. I am confused, sad and unsure how to move forward with this new clearer knowledge of my youth. Making this even more complicated are my feelings about my parents, I loved them so deeply and in my adult life we became very close which makes the introspection that much more complicated.


The idea that parents are supposed to be perfect beings that know what they are doing at all times is some sort of storybook fantasy. My T once said that she has found that most parents want what’s best for their children, even the abusive ones. Only, the abusive parents tend to lack the skills needed to provide that. I wouldn’t consider your parents abusive, just lacking some important skills or they were dealing with circumstances making good enough parenting impossible. It’s okay to love your parents as you grieve what you wish you had or know that you needed.


I wouldn’t consider your parents abusive
I would also not consider them abusive in anyway. I would say in retrospect they were not as involved as they probably should have been

hero journey!
I am not familiar with that term? I think hero would be a pretty odd designation for my journey, more a story of lost opportunities, poor choices and self destructive behavior, all on me, so maybe hero does not work


Making this even more complicated are my feelings about my parents, I loved them so deeply and in my adult life we became very close
Why does that have to change?

Shoe on the other foot.. If in 20 years your kids came to you with things (anything) you were completely unaware of, or did your best to help them with, should they just “stop” loving you? Because you did a terrible job with them? Or is the love you feel for them real, and the love they feel for you real, regardless of the slings and arrows of life?

Families? Are complicated. People? Are complicated. Love? Isnt. You can love someone deeply who isn’t perfect. And be loved deeply in return by someone who isn’t perfect. Loved & beloved? Doesn’t make someone perfect. Or even good. It makes them loved.


Hi I sympathize and have had a similar experience I suppose. I see it all as a pattern. CSA survival. You are lucky you’re alive, I don’t know the statistics or that proper ones are available. Many of us die from things that seem unrelated. Especially when it’s trying to come out, which it does.

I didn’t want it to come out. I didn’t want anyone to know ever, not even me. I was in my forties when I managed finally to tell my wife. I’m in my sixties now. I said managed to tell my wife but that’s not really accurate. I’m not even sure I knew before then.

I wish I could say you’re not alone, but it’s lonely . I’ve been here quite awhile, and it’s helpful and supportive. Therapy has been very helpful. Journaling has helped me a lot once I was able to write things. Even that took a long time.


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Failed metaphor: it is a saying about when one is finding themselves. Sorry if it did not land on you as I intended.


@David1959 I agree. I’m now okay with people knowing that I have ptsd or an “anxiety disorder.” However, when it comes to what happened, I don’t want people to know. When I see people openly talking about their traumas on tv programs, I really don’t know how they are doing it.
Some of us feel a strong need to tell our stories, for a variety of reasons. I tell mine in the hope that others who went or are going through what I did will recognize that it's abuse and get help. I tell my story because I am personally tired of all of the stigma surrounding the sexual abuse of males.

This doesn't mean that I'm stronger than people who choose not to tell in any way. I'm not. We all have different paths to healing, and this is my path. No one should feel lesser than anyone else for not disclosing.

That said, disclosing appropriately definitely can help people deal with the shame of what happened. But "appropriately" means far different things to different people. You're doing very well, @David1959. I'm proud of you and your journey.


You're doing very well,
Thank you and in some ways I understand this. The problem is as I take this journey it opens all kinds of dark doors and in someways I am worse. When I was dissociating I never thought about any of this and now that I am dealing with it it is all I think about :-(
Unfortunately, the only way out is through, and as you know it gets worse before it gets better. What you're experiencing is very normal. Sending you lots of support.
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