Trouble Moving on from Past

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am 22 years old, my father died when I was 18 months old so me and my older sister were raised by our mum,grandma and aunt in our aunt’s home. When I was 7 years old my cousin who was 13 years old sexually abused me. I didn’t knew I was sexually abused and I don’t have clear memory of it, he told me not to tell anyone about it and I obeyed.At that time my sister was suffering serious mental issues and my mum was devastated as we were homeless and suffering financial problems. My cousins practically grew up becoming jealous of us and after nearly living 8 years in their home we were able to move out.

After that incident I was aggressive, not trusting anyone, hating relatives, careless and irresponsible toward my life and my studies. I didn’t felt any emotion toward my mum and I always blamed her for loving my sister more than me which was not true. After my sister went abroad for higher studies I was alone with my mum. I used to lie to her, hide her about my bad grades. I wanted to do everything on time, study hard and be responsible but I couldn’t control or change my habit of repeating mistakes as they felt very compulsive.

After all these years, my sister was diagnosed OCD. I haven’t told my mum and sister about my childhood abuse as I don’t want to burden them. I can’t trust anyone to share my problems plus my father’s relatives want to keep in touch with us after nearly 20 years of NO HELP during our hard times. I am still irresponsible and procrastinate my priorities, I regret and self blame a lot for hurting myself and my mum. All these things are boiling inside me and I desperately want to figure out my situation, change myself and move on but I can’t seem to start from where? Please help me..

A: You’ve already started. Letting yourself remember and deciding you want to make changes are the things you needed to do to begin the road to recovery. Now it’s time to get past regret and self-blame and to start doing what you need to do to make things better.

I might be wrong, but I think it would be helpful for you to share what you told me with your mother. It would help her understand your behavior. Further, apologies do matter. Apologize for the ways you have hurt her and ask for her help in moving on. Let her be a mother to you. You could use her support. It’s also important that she understand why you might not be excited about reestablishing contact with the relatives and would give her further reason to think about whether she really wants to reconnect.

Then, please: Find a therapist. Therapy can help you name and deal with your feelings in a positive way. A therapist can offer you both practical advice and important support as you work on turning your life around. If you could have done it on your own, you would have done it already. If therapy isn’t available to you, see if there are services at your college or in your community for young people like yourself. These days, another option is joining an online support group or doing some online therapy.

I applaud your effort to take charge of your life. You can do it. You can make the life you want for yourself. It will be difficult at times but you have already shown that you have what it takes to think hard about yourself and to commit to change.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Trouble Moving on from Past. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/04/trouble-moving-on-from-past/