Post # 1
So I have this cousin that was basically like a sister to me. I’ve mentioned my wedding planning to her but I haven’t really spoken to her in a month or so because I’ve been having on and off negative feelings towards her.
She’s not a bad person, it’s just how the circumstances are. My parents met through her mom and when my parents divorced my mom and her mom were still close and then the mom eventually gravitated on my dad’s side to the point where she and my mom are enemies now (it’s so immature and awful because our moms used to be close like sisters too).
That’s not the main issue though. My main issue is that I was molested by a family member that used to watch me and my cousin. My cousin helped me tell my parents what was going on because I vented to her about it, and I will always be grateful for her help with that. Obviously coming out with this caused rifts in the family and she told me early on that she’d try to be close again to one of my abuser’s grandkids, which I completely understand.
The thing that really bothered me was that about a year ago I got onto Facebook and I saw that my cousin put up pictures of that house…it’s the house I was molested in. This happened from when I was 6 (possibly younger) to when I was 10 and then it started again when I was 16 and I couldn’t take it anymore. I spent most of my summers at that house and the majority of family holidays at that house, it was basically my second home and was a mile down the road from the house I grew up in as a child. I still have nightmares about the person that abused me. So I was basically horrified that my cousin would put up pictures from a family party (I’ve been estranged from that part of the family now for years) because it triggered a lot of bad memories with me…that and that fact that she put up a picture of the cousins including me when were little kids in that house and the other cousin that called me a liar among other things commented about how cute we all looked. I felt like that messed with my head because she made a comment like that but she won’t even talk to me even after I apologized for how our parents handled the situation because I didn’t want it to become a big thing.
I get that my cousin wants to be neutral because family is important to her, but I don’t get why she had to trigger things for me as unintentional as that might have been. Sometimes I really miss her and how we used to be close but I feel like this situation and a bunch of others things have made us grow apart. I don’t know if I want to invite her to my wedding anymore…
Another minor detail is that my dad sees her a lot more than I do now because I moved away and every time he mentions her it implies that she’s told him that we don’t talk anymore because he’d say things like “Brenda told me to say hi to you or ask how you’re doing” even if we’d just talked on Facebook a few days ago…At that point we were still talking regularly possibly every other week or once a month so I have no idea why she would hint that we had a falling out… I don’t know. Should I try to mend things with her and reconsider inviting her (I can’t invite her mom because my mom would flip out on me if I did).
Post # 3
Firstly, I’m really sorry for what happened to you and, even more, the way your parents reacted. No parent should respond that way to hearing about a child being hurt. Just as an aside, have you heard of http://www.pandys.org/forums? It’s forum I used when dealing with my experiences of sexual violence, and I found it really helpful 🙂
As to what your cousin did – the really awful thing about sexual violence and trauma, is that it’s nearly impossible for other people to know what our triggers might be. I’ve been known to be triggered by certain sounds, smells, textures…pretty much anything. It’s hard, once you have been triggered to realise that people didn’t mean to trigger us, and they don’t understand what we’re feeling right now.
From what you’ve written, it sounds as though you’re offended/hurt that your cousin posted those photos on facebook. You have every right to be upset and hurt looking at those photos, because what happened to you was an upsetting and hurtful thing. But I don’t think what you’re feeling there should be directed at your cousin – I doubt she posted those things with the intention of hurting you, rubbing your face in anything, or reminding you of what you have been through. She may have felt that she was sharing some happy childhood memories with her family and, unfortunately, very few people understand how it feels to have even a small reminder of a traumatic experience.
As for your dad relaying messages from your cousin, it may not be as bad as you think. She may have simply said “Say hi to littlegreenleaf for me next time you talk to her!” which is something loads of people say to each other. Also, she might ask after you when talking to your father as a way of making conversation. It doesn’t imply anything and, unless your father says that your cousin has said you no longer talk, I would try and assume it’s all okay between you two (easier said than done, I know!).
Good luck with everything, and I hope you feel better soon (hugs, if okay)
Post # 6
I agree entirely with Skyeblue as well. I am a survivor myself and it has taken me a while to separate the triggers from the experience of abuse and those from the person that caused the trigger. No one ever means to trigger someone they care about. And one of the hardest part of being a survivor, I’ve found, is coming to understand that other people do not inherently understand your reality. The first thought in their heads is not about you, and certainly not about your abuse. People are way too caught up in their own realities to think about every person on a Facebook friends list every time they post something.
Another thing to consider is that, while all your memories of that house are tainted by the abuse, all of hers may not be. She may still have some fond memories of that house and her time spent there. Life doesn’t always balance out the positives and negatives. +3 happy memories and -5 unhappy memories don’t always equal out to -2. Sometimes it just stays a +3 and a -5. And that’s ok. In a weird way, asking her to disregard her happy memories of that house is to let the abuse continue to take happiness away from you and your family. Abuse takes enough away as it is.
By the sounds of it, your cousin had no bad intentions. I would, by all means, invite her. Again, allowing the abuse to cause another rift in your family is giving it more power than it has to have. Something awful happened to you, but you now have the opportunity to own the rest of your life and to live well and happily in spite of it. Don’t let it continue to control you.
Post # 7
Yeah, I never once thought she did those things to hurt me, but I know I have a habit of getting disgruntled with people for not seeing certain things the way I see them. I asked her if we could talk and we’ll try to figure out a date sometime soon, it’s just hard right now because she’s studying abroad and I’m away on business right now. I definitely miss her, even if we’re not as close as we used to be and I have to accept that we’re not exactly the same people we were when we were growing up.
I guess that feeling I get is also similar to how I get annoyed at my mom whenever she drives by that house on the way to somewhere else. Of course I don’t get annoyed at my friends because they don’t know any better (though they do know what happened to me) but in my mind not driving by that house should be a no-brainer. I probably need to work on communicating more or I’ll just continue to be passive aggressive with people.
Thanks for the forum link. I’m definitely going to check it out because I feel like I’ve been in a rut lately with no thanks to a number of other outside factors including my pharmacy claiming that my antidepressants and mood medication prescription are out of refills when it says on my bottle from late June that I was due for one more refill :l When stuff like that happens everything kind of ticks me off or makes me upset.
Post # 8
@littlegreenleaf: First of all, I’m so sorry about the horrible things you’ve been through. Secondly, I’m not an expert but sometimes, as much as you may love your family, you HAVE to walk away. You should only handle so much, you know? Especially now that your wedding is right around the corner. If you and your cousin have fallen out, it may be because you’re not ready to dissociate her from your traumas.
I suggest you start being more vocal about what triggers bad feelings and memories. Just say “enough is enough”; you don’t have to put up with your mom driving by the horrible memory-filled house, and you don’t have to have your cousin on facebook if you know that she has a good relationship with your estranged side of the family.
Best of lucks to you!
P.S. You can invite your cousin, and if you meet her before the wedding, make it clear that you do NOT want her to speak about your estranged side of the family; set your limits, and ask her to respect them. 😉
Post # 9
I am sorry for what happened to you. I’m always the type of person to want to take control of the thing that trying to control me. I don’t know if you can ever do this, but my advice would be to take control of your past. Remember that you have overcome that past to be the strong person that you are today.
For you, I would recommend watching some buddist videos about learning to let go. I dont recommend becoming a buddist, but they have some very good advice about how to let things go, let the past go, and accept things to live a better life. I’m christain, but I feel that the tips are actually grounded in my faith.
If you find it helpful, you can search this channel for other helpful talks.