Building a Support Group 2: Telling your family

Having the support of your parents.

This can mean everything. I mentioned before the need to have someone in your life who will support you unconditionally. Telling my closest girlfriend was one thing. But telling my family was an entirely different experience. In a previous blog (click here for link), I mentioned that I even lied to my family at first.

I didn’t want to worry them or upset them. I was scared they wouldn’t care. Scared they wouldn’t believe me. And part of me still wonders whether or not, if my sister had not opened up, they ever would have listened. Getting up the courage to talk to you family is no laughing matter. But, at least for me, this was an essential part of the healing process.

A week after I lied to my mom, I called her back on the phone. She answered. “Mom,” I said. “It did happen to me also.” My mom broke. She and I have not always had the best relationship, I’ll admit it. And about a decade ago, it’s doubtful that she ever would’ve listened to what I had to say regarding this. But times change, people soften, and my mother (through much hardship, tears and apologies) has transformed into a rock for me. An anchor that holds me fast. Opening up to her about everything has brought to light how she experienced the same thing when she was younger. My mom, my sister, and I have formed our own support group, one of mutual experience and understanding, that has been invaluable to my healing process.

I was lucky to have such supportive parents in this. It made my healing process much easier. However, I also know that several victims, especially those whose parents were the perpetrators, never know that peace. It can be hard when that is the case. I have a friend who found herself in that exact situation and it has certainly affected her life. But in general, I view her as a very happy and fulfilled woman. One of those I look up to as my healing progresses. However, that is not my story to share, and not the path that this blog will take. Though there are many people, blogs, sites, etc., that you may visit if that is your particular situation. And I strongly encourage you to do so if that fits you.

That is why it is important to seek support outside of the family as well. Because, even if they don’t support you. Someone will. Someone will believe you, and sympathize, and understand. Someone will love you, and take your cares to heart, and make your worries their own.

My parents severed all contact between me and the perpetrator, someone who was very close to us. It was my move, my choice, my decision about everything. That is something I am very grateful for. And also, that is the way I think it should be. It is all right to take some space, to remove yourself from a dangerous situation. You don’t have to pretend like everything is okay when it’s not. Telling the family is just another way of building your support system. They can be an invaluable resource, and a rock. Even if they cannot DO anything to “fix” the problem. They can listen and care for you while you find your own path to healing.

It can be terrifying to open up, to share a secret that makes you feel so ashamed, so dirty, so guilty. But, and I have to remind myself of this all the time, it’s not your guilt, it’s not my guilt, it’s someone’s who was supposed to know better and chose not to act decently.

Ultimately, I believe the path to healing lies on the road to being honest with yourself, being honest with others, accepting what happened, and then learning to move beyond it. In my experience, without one of those steps, the process can never truly be complete. And it is better to just know. To truly know how people will react, how your family will take things, if they will support you or not. It is better to know for sure, one way or the other, rather than spend your entire life wondering, worrying, having it hang in the background of your mind. The lingering “what-if.”

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