The Family Pull

photos by Patricia

A sister-in-law I have never been close sent a link about their travels cross-country in a camper. She touts how they all gather at Tom’s. His real name is John. Since reading it I cannot wash him off lying awake thinking of the life-time of his psychological abuse. Feelings of being left out is a wound never quite healed and needs tending again.

After making it known to three siblings that I wrote a book nothing was said. One completely cut off ties. I need more and it isn’t there. The failure to offer compassion, alliance or acknowledgment erects a barrier.

Any interaction is like pouring water over rock. The lack of profundity for the truth makes interaction intolerable. Not one stands up and says THIS WAS WRONG. Instead they cling to each other and the abuser.

What happens in families of origin when a sexual abuse survivor comes forward seems a common theme. Don’t talk or speak of it or you’re out. It has nothing to do with the survivor yet has everything to do with her. The ‘family’ cleaves to the natural order of clan instinctively banning together no matter what.

It looks like family but is powered by weak character and lack of strength. Each has their own agenda. I am outcast to have spoken. Yet I must speak and need to belong.

Cherish the family I have built. The more space I have the better I feel. But my shoulders slump walking the meadow. Beauty in the day has dimmed. Lift them up and feel who you are, not what they say you are, or what you think they say to make themselves feel better. 

10 thoughts on “The Family Pull

  1. It WAS wrong, what was done to you. I feel your sadness, I understand it so well. I received a package a month ago, of old family photos from my dad’s sister, and I’ve been cycling through all the intense PTSD symptoms since: flashbacks, nightmares, uncontrollable tears, anxiety, and this need to fix something that cannot be fixed. I think the longing is the worst.

    I’m with you, I hear you. I am honored to share in your story with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Shanon. Sorry to hear of the box full of memories which for most would bring joy and nostalgia but brought intense pain instead. I am honored too that you stopped by, commented and offered such compassion.

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  2. Our stories are similar. I have no contact with anyone from my birth family except for an occasional email exchange with a brother. We were a very large family. I was the youngest. Like you, I was the victim, yet I am the one who is shunned. There are three things that have helped me. The first is that I married into an incredible family who embraced me with a love I had never before experienced. My in-laws gave me the love and nurturing, as an adult, that my own parents and siblings had withheld from me in that dysfunctional, abusive house. Their love was an unexpected gift. Like you, though, I felt like an outsider in my own family…as if the abuse was continuing because they banded together and viewed me as the guilty party. The second thing that helped me to heal was my faith. That is a very personal matter and one that each person approaches in their own way. The third thing that helped me was my own family ~ my husband, children, and grandchildren. I broke the link. With my own family I made a new start. My children are intelligent, funny, compassionate, and share extremely close bonds among them. We are a close knit family, and now that we have many young grandchildren it soothes my heart to see such a sweet love among them all. My siblings and their families are a dysfunctional mess of divorces, alcoholism, child rebellion, drugs, and unhappiness. I honestly feel bad for all of them and can sincerely say that I have forgiven them. It would have been a lovely storybook ending if all could have been reconciled. I know you have a lovely family as well with grandchildren you cherish. They sure help, don’t they? I understand how it feels, though, not to have that validation we want so badly. We are not the guilty party…we are the victims. There are others sharing the same journey you are on. I am sorry you have had those feelings of pain and exclusion freshly stirred up again. Sometimes they are an ache, burning beneath the surface, and other times, like now, something happens that gets the waters churning and that pain becomes a hurricane. Know that there are many who understand and care.

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    1. It took awhile for the tears to stop running down my face and to blow my nose before I could respond. I did not share any of this with my husband or sons, not because they wouldn’t care, but because the understanding can only go so deep.
      You’re sharing reminded me of all that I have, and is so similar to what you describe about children and grand-children. Thank you…

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  3. It is strange how we think we are stronger somehow from this pain… and yet it only takes a second to make all the pain we tucked away in order to survive come flooding out! My heart goes out to you. This kind of grief cuts like a knife! I am so sorry you are hurting! ❤

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  4. I relate to this. Families do cling to their weaknesses and inability to face the truth. I am feeling quite angry with my brothers, aunts and uncles who know yet do NOTHING! and say nothing!!! It’s infuriating that something so big can be so ignored.

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