What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Dear Annie: When I was a child, I had many chilling things happen to me. I barely remember some incidents, and they don’t seem to affect me now — well, other than the mental illness running through my entire body.

Anyway, as a 47-year-old looking back, one thing still hurts me to the core and brings tears to my eyes as I write this: I miss my sister. And I miss her because there is this huge divide between us stemming from something that happened when I was 17. I was forced to reveal to her and my mother, at a psychiatric treatment facility for depression, that my mother’s ex-husband had abused me when I was in seventh and eighth grade, and my sister flat-out told me and the therapist that she didn’t believe it.

How do I repair our relationship if she never believed me to begin with? — Brokenhearted

Dear Brokenhearted: You were very brave to tell your sister what happened. Sadly, it was too painful for her to say she is sorry for what happened. Hopefully, in time, she will gain strength and compassion for you, and you can begin to heal your relationship. But regardless of your relationship with your sister, your relationship with yourself and the trauma that you suffered are first and foremost. I believe you, and I am sorry that happened to you.

You can heal and become stronger than before, but the 13-year-old girl has to heal first. Once you tell her that it was not her fault what happened to her, and your adult self starts to heal, your relationship with your mother and sister will shift. Even if they don’t say they believe you, you will better understand that it is too painful for them to admit it. Best of luck to you, and my hope is that your heart begins to heal itself. You are not alone on this journey.

I recommend reading “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com

Huh. First of all, I’ve read reviews of The Body Keeps the Score, and they’re dreadful. The author condones a lot of illegal behavior (raping and pillaging during wartimes) and never discusses actual places where the body holds trauma. Like, “If you carry tension in your shoulders, you might have such-and-such sort of trauma.” Nope, none of that. It’s just a whole book of voracious abuse porn in which he gives brutal details of women’s rapes and admits that he enjoys experiencing their traumas vicariously. Um.

(For a fun time, read some of its 1-star reviews on Goodreads.)

So, who wants to wager that Annie Lane hasn’t bothered to read the book?

I was forced to reveal to her […] that my mother’s ex-husband had abused me […], and my sister flat-out told me and the therapist that she didn’t believe it.

Well, that was poorly handled. Why was she forced to share humiliating and traumatic events with an audience of her family? Hmm… there’s a reason the psychological profession gets a bad rap. This would be exhibit A.

There are two possibilities here.

  1. The sister really and truly doesn’t believe it.
  2. The sister was triggered in that moment as a fellow abuse victim and had no better way to react than how she did.

If it was sexual abuse, I’d put money on #2. If it was physical abuse, it’s hit or miss. (No pun intended.) Some physical abusers just abuse whenever they’re angry, and if you’re lucky, you never fall victim to them.

And it was probably sexual abuse. Thirty years ago, or even more recently, physical abuse wasn’t seen as abuse. The poor girl would’ve been told that her stepdad was just trying to “discipline her”, or some other such nonsense that sickens me to think of.

It wasn’t the sister’s fault. In that moment when the letter writer was forced to confront her sister and her mom, the sister of the letter writer knew that the alleged therapist would be looking at her reaction closely for signs of similar victimhood. Not wanting to share, she immediately said she flat-out didn’t believe it. This therapist at the mental hospital never should’ve been licensed. It’s cringeworthy.

This whole letter is hard to believe, though. Maybe Annie Lane made it up. There are some uh… incredible aspects to it.

  1. So… life just went on and it was never mentioned again? For thirty freakin’ years? Even as adults, the letter writer hasn’t reached out to her sister about it? She’s just holding onto that bad memory of the confrontation without ever raising the issue? And she hasn’t raised it with her mother since then? I find that all hard to believe. She has no relationship with her sister at all, someone she grew up with? It doesn’t ring true.
  2. After what the letter writer’s been through and all the therapy she’s (hopefully) received, she’s never considered that her sister was also a victim?! The thought has never crossed her mind? It’s psychology 101 that when family members try to silence you about abuse, they were victimized too. I think I would know that even if I hadn’t majored in psychology.

And Annie Lane didn’t realize the possibility either. But this is the same person who recommended The Body Keeps the Score.

You were very brave to tell your sister what happened. Sadly, it was too painful for her to say she is sorry for what happened.

We’ve got some verb tense issues here. It WAS too painful for her to say she IS sorry for what happened? Was it too painful for her to be supportive at the time, or is it too painful for her to say she’s sorry today for being disbelieving? I can’t even tell. Annie Lane’s advice is slop.

Hopefully, in time, she will gain strength and compassion for you, and you can begin to heal your relationship.

Okay, but we’ve been led to believe that there haven’t been any advances in the relationship for thirty years. What’s going to change now?!

Even if they don’t say they believe you, you will better understand that it is too painful for them to admit it.

Admit what? That they knew he was an abuser? That they were wrong to disbelieve the letter writer? That they never disbelieved her but were pretending? AAUGH. I have no clue.

10 thoughts on “What we have here is a failure to communicate.

  1. It’s interesting to learn that you majored in psychology. I am newer to your blog and I’m wondering how you became interested in this Annie Lane column. I guess I could go read your about page if you have one. I’ve told you before that you’re an excellent writer. I would hate to piss you off 😄. I see your fire now. If they say stupid things or use bad grammar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HA HA HA HA HA! Thank you!! Yeah, I have a bizarre interest in advice columns. I’ve written a whole series of novels about middle-school advice columnists called the Advice Avengers! It’s just something that matters to me–giving good advice!! What did you major in?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Business Admin. But this was at Job Corps, so we are talking trade school. Your “About Me” page is pretty slim, Meg. You can’t write a novel as good as “Alicia Misbehaves” and have such a slim about page. I should re-read that one soon, I could use the humor and fantasy. Anyway I guess that good writing makes people want to know more. Although to be fair my own about page is the shittiest about page ever. So I guess I can’t talk 😆

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know, sprucing up my About page isn’t a bad idea!! Thanks!! I’ll try to fix it!! I’m so glad you like “Alicia Misbehaves”!! YAY!! Happytimes!! I need to write a third one in the series already!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I wonder why WordPress didn’t give me a notification about this? Interesting, maybe because of the link. I had to manually re-visit your blog to see if you’d replied, and you did 😉. Okay thanks. I am bookmarking this link now.

        Liked by 1 person

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