Effects I didn't even realize


After years of recovery, and finding myself in an ok place, I decided last summer to seek therapy again, for a variety of reasons. It's been going well, but the last 2 meetings we've hit on something I totally didn't expect.

I was complaining about my mother-in-law, particularly how she doesn't respect privacy or other boundaries. I thought I was off topic, to be honest, but the therapist said it reminded him of my mom, who had abused me. We've started talking about that.

As a kid/teen, I didn't know enough about boundaries. It was my parents' job to teach and respect those. Instead, my mother engaged in emotional incest as well as molesting me. At the time, I honestly didn't know it was wrong; I just didn't recognize it for what it was.

20 years later I was spending the summer taking care of my kids while my wife worked in another town. My mother-in-law was staying with me and the kids. One night, I was lonely and missing sex, when I had a flashback of my mom molesting me. It was so fast, yet so vivid. I noted it, but moved on

In time some other things came to me, and I started to reinterpret memories I already knew.

My T is helping me understand not only that my mother-in-law's
behaviour really is a violation of boundaries (Nothing major or sexual, but definitely a crossing of lines. For example, she'll come into our flat without calling ahead or even ringing the bell. Just walked in. Once she came in while I was changing and caught site of me undressed. My wife, who must have heard about from her mother, scolded me later for not being dressed at all times.) My T says one reason that I'm having difficulty recognizing this and setting boundaries for myself is the abuse in my past kind of raised me into certain patterns.

He says the fact that my first flashback occurred when I was sharing a household with my mother-in-law instead of my wife really means a lot. He says the set-up could be very triggering.

It's hard to see that the abuse has been affecting my adult life, my family life, in ways I had no clue about. It makes me see how serious the abuse was, but, oddly, helps me be more forgiving of my abusers. After all, if I'm affected in ways I didn't recognize, who know what was influencing their behavior.

We're working now on figuring out boundaries today, and protecting those.

Ok, I'll say it. I get madder and madder when people talk about
ow abuse is mainly committed by men, and mainly to girls and women.
@NewGerasene - may I say, great work. Some people never figure out those patterns, and here you are. You cracked part of the code. Well done.

I think your feelings of anger about people's attitudes towards female abuse are universally shared here. Things are slowly getting better out there (much too slowly) but it's wonderful to have a place like this where people really understand.