Wedding Woes

Wait, people are telling you to be a 'victim'??

Dear Prudence,

Do you really need to deal with childhood trauma? If repression has worked for you so far (31!), can’t you just stick with it?

This question is brought to you by the fact my best friend and his wife are planning to start a family. So a bunch of us were sitting around over Last Hurrah drinks and telling funny stories about our childhood. I told them the one about the time I was 8 when my dad dug a hole in the scrub behind our house, woke me up in the middle of the night, took me out and made me stand in it, and said “if you don’t behave, this is where I’ll bury you.” And I was all “and every year the idiot had to go out and make the hole bigger.”

It turns out that isn’t funny, which I did pick up on as I was talking. If you think about it then it was actually kind of awful, or “abusive” as my friend’s wife put it. I felt dumber than my Dad out in the rain digging a bigger hole every year.

Amy, who I have dated for all of two months and now knows I spent most of my life thinking that was just Dad Jokes, thinks I need therapy. I think I need to just cut off everyone I know and move. That is kind of a joke, and kind of true. I just feel like some sort of pitiable idiot right now, and I don’t want to talk to anyone who knows about this. So I don’t see how more people knowing about more of my awful childhood (because I’ve thought up at least three other things I never questioned that are clearly sort of abusive looking back, or actually abusive if it was to someone else) is going to make me feel better.

Obviously, people need to deal with trauma that causes them pain, but I was fine when this was all a secret! Isn’t digging all this stuff up just to see more like those people that get their legs broken so they can try and get three more inches in height?

— Bury It All

Re: Wait, people are telling you to be a 'victim'??

  • Omg go to therapy. You don’t need to tell everyone in your life but you do need professional help. 
  • The problem is the trauma will at some point come back up no matter how deep your try and bury it. Repression works until it doesn’t. And it doesn’t work forever. 

    You don’t have to tell your friends and people in your life but you should get to therapy. Even if it’s to talk through whether or not you feel this was abusive. 
  • I think LW would benefit from therapy, but i also understand the mindset of and support people who feel like LW does if they choose not to "uncover" things.  
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Did you really think that digging a hole in the backyard, making you stand in it, and telling you that this is where he'll bury you after he kills you was a harmless dad joke? I sure don't remember Bob Sagat ever doing that on Full House.

    I think you know that this trauma is bothering you, but you don't want to admit that it's effecting you or want to minimize how much control it is having over you. Bringing up these incidents and writing to Prudie seems like you're looking for someone to tell you to get help with it. 

  • I can kind of identify with this LW.  I had a pretty damn traumatic childhood, but as a society, we are fed what "abuse" looks like and so we don't always recognize it.  If you had asked me even...oh 10 years ago, if I thought my childhood was terrible, I would've said it wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either because it's not like my parents beat me up and put me into the hospital.  Then, once I admitted it, I had to deal with not just the unhealthy coping mechanisms, but the embarassment of it happening and not recognizing it (this is a common reaction, no worries now).

    Now, if I see either of my bio parents again, I'm probably going to have to try to walk away, b/c slapping the absolute shit out of them feels really effin' justified, even if I don't believe it's the appropriate response.  But they will never be in my life again.

    LW might not be ready for therapy right now.  But there will start to be life events, especially as they age, that start to bring to the forefront the not-healthy coping mechanisms the abuse caused.  Hell, laughing it off IS a coping mechanism.  If LW does want to pursue it now, they should, even if it's just out of curiousity.  But until they want to, others need to leave it be.  Therapy won't really do any good until they are ready to hear it and do the work that ripping those wounds open, is going to cause.
  • I'll be the UO.  If the LW doesn't feel they need therapy and doesn't see themselves as a victim, than their friends and g/f need to stop being AHs and let it go.  They are trying to define the LW in a way this person doesn't define themselves.  Suggesting therapy once is okay from a concerned friend, but it sounds like it's continuing to happen.

    Maybe the LW "deep down" does feel like a victim and is repressing things.  Or maybe they're fine and not really bothered by it, just like they said.  They didn't see it as abuse until someone mentioned it.  They thought it was a funny childhood story.  I'm certainly not trying to argue that what their father did was okay.  Just pointing out that the LW doesn't sound like they were afraid of their dad or feared for their life, in childhood.
    I agree.  There's so much people went through as kids that they saw as normal that someone else sees as completely fucked up.  You can tell someone you think what they're telling you is 'dark' or not OK, but to start telling them they were abused and should be/feel victimized is a bridge too far.  There's a line between saying, 'wow, that's fucked up' and 'omg you were abused and you should feel like you were'. 

  • kerbohlkerbohl member
    Tenth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    If the LW feels fine about it and it isn't causing emotional issues, then not needing therapy is fine.  But if realizing that this was not a funny joke is making them rethink their childhood, therapy ight be a good idea.

  • I think everyone grows up thinking their childhood is "normal" until outside sources react differently. But what is traumatizing to one person may not be to another. My sister and I go back and forth on whether or not our mom was purposefully abusive, if things she did were harmful but well meaning or if she was just doing the best she could and we actually did have a pretty good childhood over all. Could we benefit from therapy? Probably but our lives are pretty good and we've made it this far without it, bringing up potentially years of trauma and difficulty seems like a big hassle at this point.
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