Stuck in the past

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I am feeling extremely distressed. I saw a therapist for 3 months in US and now I’ve moved to a country where I can’t really afford a therapist and at the same time, I don’t trust the mental health system here. This is what I was diagnosed with in US:

1. ADHD

2. Depression

Here is what I’m having issues with:

1. Stuck in the past, I also get stuck in my emotions when someone is rude to me.
2. I was sexually molested for 5 years by my brother in law who also manipulated me and at the same time got my sisters (I have 2) against me in order to isolate me. I told my mom this a month ago now that I’m almost 27 and her response was more of shock + “why didn’t you tell me this before? ” and now when I tell her how hurt I am at her response. She says ” well, if you would have told me this earlier I could have done something. What do you want me to do now?”

This really makes me angry. Makes me feel like I don’t have anyone to support me. I also told my dad, who emotionally abused me at the same time I was being sexually abused. Its really hard opening up to my family, no one wants to discuss anything, its usually criticism or covering up emotions/situations for them.

My mom also said that no one would believe me, only my parents would, which I believe is true.

3. My dad is extremely sick. He is almost bedridden after a few strokes and that disturbs me. He was also very emotionally abusive and controlling while I was growing up. As a child, he was my favorite and he always supported and protected me, but the moment I became a teenager, he started emotionally abusing me, which really confused me and I ended up isolating myself because I was in a dysfunctional family where at the same time I was being sexually molested, had really mean sisters, had my parents always criticizing me and telling me how I really need to change because my behavior is bad (but it was because my sisters were always mean and they’d always go make a huge deal out of everything I did to my parents.. such as, if I didn’t want to share my cd with them, I was really bad and I didn’t have a heart- etc..) and I was also not allowed to have any friends at all. I was so depressed while growing up.

3. Now that I’m older, I can’t get away from the past. For years I carried the guilt and secrecy of the sexual molestation because I kept thinking I was stupid and it was my fault that this happened and now I feel angry that I got manipulated and I’m angry at my past, I’m also angry at the fact that I can’t build close relationships anymore, I’m too scared to.

4. I also just exited a relationship where my ex was emotionally abusive and with him, I started feeling like I was losing myself. I am a very logical person and whenever I found out things he was doing wrong he turned it around on me saying “think about it. Your logic is so flawed. What’s wrong with you?” He did this on many occasions and always had to make all decisions. He betrayed me and turned it around on me claiming me to be crazy. I actually did start feeling crazy, I started losing myself, and I didn’t know who I was anymore with him. I’m still getting over that relationship.

I also have anxiety issues, although they have gone down a bit after discussing with the therapist who told me I didn’t consider my feelings because I was taught to take care of others feelings.

Now I have moved in with my parents for a little bit and everything just comes all back in my head. I just can’t escape the past. IT’S KILLING ME, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I am so angry at the following:

1. Why was I emotionally and sexually abused as an adolescent, it’s not fair!
2. Now I have problems with trust and intimacy, all because this man sexually abused me.
3. I can’t build relationships or close friendships because I was never taught to, in fact I wasn’t even allowed to during my teen years, I felt so isolated. I’ve lived in so much isolation it’s started to kill me inside now and I just don’t know how to change that. I don’t feel comfortable when someone genuinely likes me (as a friend), it feels very odd.
4. I was able to have sex before, but now I don’t think I like being touched. I’ve been avoiding it for a while… Actually, I’ve lost interest in bf/gf relationships but I’m not promiscuous either…
5. I feel like I have PSTD because I’m having lots of flashbacks from the sexual and emotional abuse but that also makes me angrier, why should I have all these problems because one psycho couldn’t control his behavior?!

PLEASE HELP!

I’m so angry at the past and at the effect it has had on me now that I’ve grown up. I feel so alone and isolated. I don’t feel like I can open up to anyone. My parents are extremely critical, they criticize everything in me, first I used to be super thin and I needed to eat, now that I have grown up and I weigh 150 for a 5’8, I need to lose weight– its like there’s always something I need to fix about myself. I’m too emotional, I’m too this and that.. everything is just wrong with me all the time. That’s how they make me feel. What also makes me angry is that they instill a lot of fear in me. Every time I try to do something they have fear about, where they’re concerned about me, they put it in me saying “DONT DO XYZ or THIS WILL HAPPEN. IT can happen, what will you do then”. UGH! I just wished I had some support! I feel terrible!

A: What a difficult set of circumstances and experiences you have to cope with. These are weighty matters and I will do my best to sort it through.

You are in India, and say that you do not trust the mental health system there. But there may be an even more important resource there for you to engage with. I would seek out a meditation teacher as a base for you being able to soothe yourself. A good teacher will be able to help you hold the uncomfortable feelings and allow your mind to settle. The studies on the value and importance of meditation are numerous. You are in a country revered for its meditative practices. If the psychotherapy is not okay for you, meditation with a good teacher will be helpful.

Secondly, since you also have a computer you can be Skype enabled. (For those unfamiliar Skype is a software application for computers that allows Internet-based free voice calls, instant messaging, and video calls to others on the platform. It also allows extremely low-cost calls from a debit account to landline phones. This is a particularly good service for long-distance international calls.)

This would allow you to call out to online therapists for a very nominal fee for the purpose of sorting through some of the issues you made mention of. See the banner at the top of the page. We also have an international referral base and there may be someone in your country you can ask for more direct guidance. Use the find help tab above.

This service can also help you stay connected with your social network you may have here. It will also help you as you connect to the online community. Please check our home page for a listing of our free support groups. We have over 160 and some are directly tailored to abuse and PTSD.

As with most things we have to use many tools to gain some peace. Here I am recommending you use tools at the opposite end of the spectrum. Go inside yourself to find the comfort and peace that is there waiting to be discovered and nurtured, and reach out with the vast resources of technology to the greater world outside.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Stuck in the past. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/26/stuck-in-the-past-3/