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

David1959

Confident
Sending you lots of support.
Much appreciated, while I am progressing I am also feeling great sorrow facing the fact that I have blamed myself all my life for not speaking up, not when I was abused, not when I chose to be a horrible student, not when I fell into serious drug use. I never questions , never spoke up and made extremly damaging decisions in my life without the knowledge of how or any guidance.
 

Sideways

Moderator
not when I was abused, not when I chose to be a horrible student, not when I fell into serious drug use
We don't though, yeah? The overwhelming majority of us? These are things that we feel shame about at the time.

Perhaps try some forgiveness to yourself, for being incredibly human in the way you coped.
I am also feeling great sorrow facing the fact that I have blamed myself all my life for not speaking up
When the grief has washed over, there's space for pride as well. Because you have found a way to have a voice.

There's no time limit on finding our voice, speaking out. Which is what you've found a way to do, here, in a way that feels safe.

And that's a huge achievement. That's you doing it differently now, now that you have all that life experience to help you make decisions for yourself. No time limit on personal growth, or healing, yeah? So you're doing good by yourself, by your own standards, even though it doesn't feel that way right now.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
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.
But back when you were being raised, a lot was different. I asked for help back then (I'm a year younger than you) and I was told that didn't happen in nice families. Many, many children don't have the kind of support you speak of, and didn't then. We were sent outside to play in the am, be home for lunch and dinner. That wasn't neglect, that was the norm. I'm exploring this kind of thing myself, so if it doesn't apply to you, ignore it, I find it true for me.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
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.
I get what you are going through....I've been processing my trauma...after the age of 60 like many others. It's taken several years, but as I look at generations of my family, and see the weaknesses (parents drinking as coping skills).....drinking became a norm, and I thought lots of people drank. My brother left home at 18....he had his own issues, and did the drug scene, too. I had childhood illness, and had battled the effects of drugs for my medical illness for several years, so that experience led me to avoid them at all costs....and drink very little. My parents adopted us.....but they were ill-equipped to deal with children....and I'd consider my mother cold and distant, and a relatively normal wife for the 40's. She followed the ettiquette book on marriage. Husband walks in the house after stopping at the bar, she hands him a drink, he tells her about his hard day, children said hi and went to our rooms until dinner. We were called right before 6pm to sit at the table for dinner, the 6'oclock news came on, and the TV was his......and we were not allowed to speak, and had to ask to leave the table. We hurried through dinner, because our day was never a concern....and if we wanted to say something, we had to do it briefly on a commercial, and when the news returned, we were shushed.

I got sick in high school. My mother cried all the time in her garden. She could have played with me, but back then, doctors were not questioned....even if your child is running into walls on the prescribed drug therapy. My parents didn't touch each other or show affection publically....so I learned not to. I was not taught to cook.....that was the place where my mother shined. My mother didn't know how to solve daily problems, and my father escaped with alcohol, and he was gone a lot for work....traveling around the world.

When I came home and had been raped at a museum in an elevator, my mother couldn't even hug me. Her mother and her didn't have a good relationship, and she didn't do emotions.....I remember the day, I came home with the teacher....teacher explained the police were involved, and my mother stood there...a little woman while I just wanted a hug....and didn't get one. Later, she wanted to know what I had done to get his attention. She was not in tune with emotions.....probably the wine.

My brother kinda replaced my father, and helped my mother out....and well, he helped himself to me sexually, too.....he didn't know any better how to related to me, than my father and mother did to each other......and no boundaries were taught. I watched what I knew I didn't like, and vowed my kid wouldn't be treated that way. I knew more than my parents about boundaries, and the value of chores, the value of clubs, hobbies, socialization, the need of training/education, and those were the things I focused on....and honesty. But still, my own daughter is not well.....and she's just looking like she needs to make changes at the age of 38. Her dad left and didn't keep contact, and she was born with a conginetal disorder that significantly impacted her. I don't know that there are perfect families, but I do know, we learn from those closest to us.

After years of looking at this stuff, yes, we are very much what our parents taught us unless we figure out we don't want to accept their way (and in dysfunctional families, you then become the scapegoat-that was me because I criticized the excessive drinking), and we can blame during the recovery period...or trauma processing period, and they should be blamed. When I look at my own daughter as I raised her, I tried doing things very different from my mother and kept her away from all people who drank or used drugs (that was most of my family)......and she turned out to be an alcoholic/drug abuser and she didn't have nearly the change in school you had.....which can negatively impact learning. I wish she were happier, and functioning better. After looking at my 60+ years of life, processing it, and watching my daughter's generation, with a very different set of expectations, communication at fingertips, and very different expectations, I think all parents, no matter how lousy they are, believe they are doing the best they can..........even though it may be a truly abusive and shitty parenting job, they may not realize the negative impact they have in their response, don't care or give a shit about the impact of inappropriate behaviors, don't know any better or a better way, or don't have the coping skills to do better. That's not an excuse....but it's kinda how I see it.. And no, I don't think I did anything wrong....but in looking back, I spent way too much time seeking my parents approval, and not getting my accomplishments validated, and then minimizing the accomplishments I did make.


Then there's what to do with the feelings....I was angry for a really long time-until I came to this conclusion: All my anger was doing was making me sick, dysfunctional, and miserable, and accepting the past, good, bad, and ugly.....and letting the anger go, made for less stress, and kinda set me on the road for making my future what I want it to be, because I have more control over that......and history....at some point, I decided it is what it is.....in the past. Focus on living day to day, and making a better future. So, I guess my perception has changed....and I don't feel stuck in anger and blame-but I was for some time.....but I think understanding why I'm like I am gave me what I needed to try to let my anger go............and every once in a while......the anger comes back in waves.....and the grief.....but I'm finding as I let it go.....each time I feel those feelings, their intensity is lessening with time, and I'm not looping or ruminating like I used to. (This is my message of hope for you....it will get better....keep doing your trauma processing!! We're never too old to find contentment....Way to go! It's hard work, but I see lots of improvement and value to trauma processing! It sounds like you have come quite a ways from where you were. Good on you! Good luck!
 

Waterbear

Confident
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 :-(
I am right here with you. Not sure what is better at the moment. I think it's like tidying up. Sometimes you have to make a mess to be able to sort things out, reorganise them and put them away properly. I'm hoping it will be better in the long run, for me and for you, if you choose to keep working at it.
 
C

Charles Bracey

I get what you are going through....I've been processing my trauma...after the age of 60 like many others. It's taken several years, but as I look at generations of my family, and see the weaknesses (parents drinking as coping skills).....drinking became a norm, and I thought lots of people drank. My brother left home at 18....he had his own issues, and did the drug scene, too. I had childhood illness, and had battled the effects of drugs for my medical illness for several years, so that experience led me to avoid them at all costs....and drink very little. My parents adopted us.....but they were ill-equipped to deal with children....and I'd consider my mother cold and distant, and a relatively normal wife for the 40's. She followed the ettiquette book on marriage. Husband walks in the house after stopping at the bar, she hands him a drink, he tells her about his hard day, children said hi and went to our rooms until dinner. We were called right before 6pm to sit at the table for dinner, the 6'oclock news came on, and the TV was his......and we were not allowed to speak, and had to ask to leave the table. We hurried through dinner, because our day was never a concern....and if we wanted to say something, we had to do it briefly on a commercial, and when the news returned, we were shushed.

I got sick in high school. My mother cried all the time in her garden. She could have played with me, but back then, doctors were not questioned....even if your child is running into walls on the prescribed drug therapy. My parents didn't touch each other or show affection publically....so I learned not to. I was not taught to cook.....that was the place where my mother shined. My mother didn't know how to solve daily problems, and my father escaped with alcohol, and he was gone a lot for work....traveling around the world.

When I came home and had been raped at a museum in an elevator, my mother couldn't even hug me. Her mother and her didn't have a good relationship, and she didn't do emotions.....I remember the day, I came home with the teacher....teacher explained the police were involved, and my mother stood there...a little woman while I just wanted a hug....and didn't get one. Later, she wanted to know what I had done to get his attention. She was not in tune with emotions.....probably the wine.

My brother kinda replaced my father, and helped my mother out....and well, he helped himself to me sexually, too.....he didn't know any better how to related to me, than my father and mother did to each other......and no boundaries were taught. I watched what I knew I didn't like, and vowed my kid wouldn't be treated that way. I knew more than my parents about boundaries, and the value of chores, the value of clubs, hobbies, socialization, the need of training/education, and those were the things I focused on....and honesty. But still, my own daughter is not well.....and she's just looking like she needs to make changes at the age of 38. Her dad left and didn't keep contact, and she was born with a conginetal disorder that significantly impacted her. I don't know that there are perfect families, but I do know, we learn from those closest to us.

After years of looking at this stuff, yes, we are very much what our parents taught us unless we figure out we don't want to accept their way (and in dysfunctional families, you then become the scapegoat-that was me because I criticized the excessive drinking), and we can blame during the recovery period...or trauma processing period, and they should be blamed. When I look at my own daughter as I raised her, I tried doing things very different from my mother and kept her away from all people who drank or used drugs (that was most of my family)......and she turned out to be an alcoholic/drug abuser and she didn't have nearly the change in school you had.....which can negatively impact learning. I wish she were happier, and functioning better. After looking at my 60+ years of life, processing it, and watching my daughter's generation, with a very different set of expectations, communication at fingertips, and very different expectations, I think all parents, no matter how lousy they are, believe they are doing the best they can..........even though it may be a truly abusive and shitty parenting job, they may not realize the negative impact they have in their response, don't care or give a shit about the impact of inappropriate behaviors, don't know any better or a better way, or don't have the coping skills to do better. That's not an excuse....but it's kinda how I see it.. And no, I don't think I did anything wrong....but in looking back, I spent way too much time seeking my parents approval, and not getting my accomplishments validated, and then minimizing the accomplishments I did make.


Then there's what to do with the feelings....I was angry for a really long time-until I came to this conclusion: All my anger was doing was making me sick, dysfunctional, and miserable, and accepting the past, good, bad, and ugly.....and letting the anger go, made for less stress, and kinda set me on the road for making my future what I want it to be, because I have more control over that......and history....at some point, I decided it is what it is.....in the past. Focus on living day to day, and making a better future. So, I guess my perception has changed....and I don't feel stuck in anger and blame-but I was for some time.....but I think understanding why I'm like I am gave me what I needed to try to let my anger go............and every once in a while......the anger comes back in waves.....and the grief.....but I'm finding as I let it go.....each time I feel those feelings, their intensity is lessening with time, and I'm not looping or ruminating like I used to. (This is my message of hope for you....it will get better....keep doing your trauma processing!! We're never too old to find contentment....Way to go! It's hard work, but I see lots of improvement and value to trauma processing! It sounds like you have come quite a ways from where you were. Good on you! Good luck!
Wow- this is my first post in this forum, your sharing and insight into processing your trauma and working thru it is truly amazing and in many ways mirrors my own journey as I also in the last year has managed to find my voice at age 63 as I continue on my journey of working they my child hood trauma. True our parents did the best with the hand they were dealt and the truth of it is, many, many of our parents living through the 40’s - the 70’s lived with there own unprocessed, unpleasant and very painful trauma inflicted upon them by their parents. So once I was able to understand that reality and with much grace and humility I was able to forgive my parents and I learned to focus on me and my healing journey which I know I will be on until the day I die. I can only hope for small victories manifested in small snippets of experiencing joy, love, compassion and empathy as show to others. I’ve been married 22 years in two days and my trauma has all but wrecked my martial relationship, I went into with such hope and optimism but I did not know how emotionally messed up I was, I’ve gotten better at managing my trauma triggers but that doesn’t erase my reality of having to constantly stay mentally focused in the moment on not defaulting to my defensive and protective posture adopted as a safe mechanism to survive my abuse. I say all this to say, seeking to heal and doing the personal work needed to help you love yourself and find peace in the small things of life is a never ending process. I could share more and maybe I will later. I just want to say thank you all for sharing your struggles as you work the process of healing and recovery, I’ve been on this journey for 35 years and it seems like I started only last week. It’s like taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. One layer of pain peeled reveals another and so it goes. Be encouraged and please LEARN TO ENCOURAGE YOURSELF.!!!
Charles
 
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