I was hit with an odd feeling yesterday. I was thinking about my sisters and their actions at the wedding, their actions these last six years – no, wait, their actions since childhood really. In a total shock to me, I think I am starting to feel forgiveness for my sisters, not so much for their actions but for them personally. This is taking my quite by surprise. But as I started analyzing what I was feeling, I started to realize that their actions were most-likely a product of the long-lasting affects of child abuse.
We were all sexually abused as children, some of us by one man, some of us by two. Two of us admit what happened to us while the other who just can’t seem to. It’s hard to say who got the worst of it as we never talked about it with each other, not in any detail. I, personally, have never spoken or written about what actually happened to me. The truth is – it doesn’t matter. Whether it was minor or major, our futures were forever changed and even laid out at the moment we were abused. Abuse is purely a selfish act – gratification only for the abuser, an abuser who clearly isn’t thinking about the child and what that child will be dealing with for the rest of his or her life.
As I look at my sisters, I see patterns. Abuse affects everyone differently. For Sandy, it’s denial. She won’t admit anything happened to her, even though I have caught some slips that she has made, like when she told me our brother apologized to her. She’s says our brother never touched her but I believe he did. Along with her denial exists her inability to let anyone in, she seems withdrawn from emotion. And if you challenge her with an opposing opinion, well apparently she estranges from you, as I found out a few years ago. After how close we were, her reaction really stunned me. Was she upset because I had finally found my voice, my strength? Honestly, I still don’t understand it. How does family, my own blood, turn me away for wanting my parents to be healthy and live longer? I will never understand it.
My sister Sharon, abused by our father, became strong-minded and outspoken. You didn’t dare challenge her! But I did one day, and again, estranged. I think they were so used to seeing me as weak that it stunned them when I started standing up for myself and my opinions. As soon as they noticed I had strength and couldn’t be walked on anymore, they couldn’t handle it. But can I truly be mad about it? After all, I truly believe that our childhoods molded us, for good or for bad. It warped our sense of love, of sex, and of relationships.
For me, it gave me low-self esteem, body issues, shyness. In a sense, I was taught to be quiet, to never question, to not be seen, to be a perfectionist. I was weak for most of my life, until a few years ago. Honestly, I don’t know that I would change what happened with the family incident. It brought out my strength and courage. My sisters took things to a bad place but I took things to a good place.
Once I saw their childish actions at the wedding – the “ignore” game – it made it so easy for me to finally move on. It actually make me feel sorry for them. I mean what kind of 50-year-old adult plays the ignore game? It’s something I can’t comprehend. I have to just shake my head because it is just so ridiculous. It showed me that their lives must not be very good. To play games like that, to try to hurt someone and bring them down – only miserable or psychologically imbalanced people do such an immature thing. Sharon is the instigator and Sandy is the follower.
I honestly can’t even be mad anymore. When I think of what must being going on in their heads, in their lives, it makes their actions more forgivable. I can’t imagine what each must be dealing with, no doubt originally caused by the childhood abuse. And looking at it in those terms, I can’t be mad. I now instead feel sad that they clearly have not dealt with the abuse. And knowing that the abuse affected them in such ways, that is a terrible thing. I can’t blame them for their reactions to the abuse. I don’t have to like who they are now, but I understand how it happened. It’s easier to forgive when you know the underlying cause. They didn’t estrange from me; they estranged from what they didn’t know how to handle.
I actually think I wish them well now. I hope that some day they can start to heal.