28th February 2020 at 4:04 pm #98529
A little while ago my abusive family member died. We had no contact and in a way I’ve already grieved for the relationship we never had. Sometimes it’s hard when I tell people and they express sympathy, even though I know they’re being kind and empathising from their own perspective, as they don’t know the situation and I’m not sure I even want them to. That said, the fact that so much of the way he was with me was about control and what he wanted and thought, it feels like when I’m not telling the truth about the fact that he was abusive, it’s like I’m downplaying what happened — and it’s already hard to accept that it was abuse — or denying the reality of it. I tell people a kind of sanitised version, that we never had a very good relationship, but it feels like then they just think it was some kind of family feud or argument, when it was so much more than that. It was him putting me through hell and treating me in a way that I think has probably given me PTSD, fearing going to visit because I didn’t know what he was going to kick off about next or when he was going to do the next guilt trip.
Has anyone been through this? It’s hard to find people who really understand, although I do have a couple of really good friends who know the situation and can empathise with it.
28th February 2020 at 8:37 pm #98545LisaMain Moderator
Sorry to hear about everything you’ve been through. Everything you’re feeling is valid; just because they have died doesn’t make their actions towards you any less abusive when they were alive. You’re having to deal with grief, loss, trauma, relief, alongside managing other people’s perceptions of how you ‘should’ be feeling… We all process things in our own way and it can all take time. Have you had any therapy or counselling around this? It might just help you process everything.
1st March 2020 at 9:05 am #98592
Hi Lisa thank you for your reply. Yes that’s very true, there are a lot of complex emotions around these issues I think. I do have a counsellor who I’ve been seeing for a few years and I’m also involved in a couple of support groups, including one where we’re doing the Freedom Programme because that was recommended to me when I first started opening up about these things.
3rd March 2020 at 9:41 pm #98728thankgoodnessParticipant
Sorry for your loss starqueen xx. Death and familial abuse are so sad, it’s the worst pain. Take care.
10th March 2020 at 10:04 am #99035
Thank you thankgoodness, I appreciate your kind words. It is really hard and I think something I’ve really been struggling with is how I don’t really feel much of anything about the death. In some way I managed to switch off my feelings towards this person for a long time, then I think we were starting to get on but there were issues with another family member. His behaviour was really quite nasty at times towards them and I think then I realised that if it could happen to them it could happen to me and he hadn’t really changed. At that point emotionally I think it was pretty much over for me and I would have had no contact from then if I could have. There were times I absolutely hated him, like I’ve never felt before or since or would want to because it really is a horrible feeling. I find it hard to even feel like I’ve lost a family member because the abusive behaviour and the feeling that I needed to protect myself have overshadowed everything else.
12th March 2020 at 11:46 am #99164fizzylemParticipant
It’s strange place to find yourself – and a new place too isn’t it. There is no right or wrong way to feel or deal with this, but it sounds to me like you’d like to feel understood more by those around you and also maybe make more sense of it and what it all means to you – gaining more self understanding once you get there.
I’m not in your situation, my family abuser is still alive and still very much kicking! Although as a grown adult I now have the skills to deal with her – or not deal with her which is more the case. I have sometimes wondered how I will feel when she passes, after the hell she’s caused in life, I imagine a numbness and like you, more of a battle with peoples perceptions and kindness than anything else – as the normal sympathies just won’t fit – will likely not be my reality. I won’t need to attend the funeral, for me, but I imagine I may have to go to support my children as they will want to.
Is there a Cruse bereavement service in your area? They would understand and help you to process it, they understand that grief and loss takes many forms. One peice of advice I would offer is to give yourself what you need here, however nonsensical it may seem to you or others at the time, if you feel you need to do a, b or c then roll with, will help you to meet your needs; and you will come out the otherside feeling enriched for having processed it all x
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