Transforming the Parent-Child Relationship: Unspoken Words And Traumatic Outcomes

A family issue that often fails to be recognized is the transformation of the parent-child relationship that occurs when the child reaches adulthood.

In this week’s writing, this transition lies at the heart of violence in one family.

Dear Visible Man,

I am a middle aged African-American man residing in the Puget Sound area.  I am involved in local government and contribute prominently to my church and community activities.

Recently, in a dispute between my spouse and myself, my daughter, who was home from college during the recent holidays, stood up and got in my face. I reacted by physically pushing her away.  Before I realized what was happening, we were tussling on the floor with me on top of her.

With my wife yelling at us to stop, I caught myself.  I quickly got up and disengaged from the dispute.  The incident lasted a matter of seconds.  I have since apologized to my daughter for my actions.

We haven’t spoken about the incident.  Things between my daughter and I continue to go on as if nothing ever happened.  However, my wife is very uncomfortable about what happened and how I handled my anger.

I don’t view myself as being an angry person.  I do not want to be stereotyped as the “angry black man.”  The incident was unfortunate, and I acted the way I did because I was provoked.  I regret that the incident happened, but now it is over and it’s now time to move on.  What are your thoughts about this?

Provoked & Regretful, WA

Dear Provoked & Regretful,

Are you really seeking my thoughts on this matter?  In doing so this raises a concern that you may seek to limit what happened to the “intellectual or thinking area” of your consciousness, at the expense of your emotions and feelings.  I encourage you to focus your energies on the latter.

As a psychotherapist who seeks empowerment of the self as an outcome of therapeutic work, I want to focus on two areas of significance here:

  • Your relationship with your family, and
  • Your relationship with the psychological self that exists within you.

In this response to your letter, I hope that we can bring your thoughts and feelings together and have them work collectively.

The Transformation of the Parent-Child Relationship

Previously, as your child moved into adolescence, it may have been a mutual expectation that the child is never involved in disagreements between you and your wife.

However, understanding that your daughter is now an adult, you must want to consider the following:

  • What was your daughter observing when she intervened?
  • From those observations, what are the possible concerns that your behavior may have raised?
  • Was there anything in your tone of voice or mannerism that gave the perception that a threat or danger was possible?

Consider:

  • It would be unreasonable to assume that your daughter would ignore her feelings or observations based on respect for your wife. (i.e. that’s my mother!)
  • Address the behaviors that have raised the concerns. Take a “time out,” allowing calmness to prevail.
  • Extend the gift of appreciation (i.e. thank you) to your daughter for alerting you to her observations of the behaviors in which she has concern.
  • Recommendation: Acknowledge that she is an adult and as such, is entitled to address her concerns.

The Physical Altercation

In previous years as a child or adolescent, it would have been disrespectful for your daughter to “get in your face.”

However understanding that your daughter is now an adult, consider the following questions:

  • What was occurring within you emotionally while your daughter was “in your face?”
  • Did you feel disrespected by your daughter? If so did this lead to feelings of shame and humiliation?
  • What nonverbal messages were you and your daughter communicating to each other during the physical altercation?

As you ponder these questions, please consider the following perceptions and recommendations:

  • The physical altercation was a loud, action packed, nonverbal statement affirming the transformation of the parent-child relationship.
  • It now becomes a situation in which two adults are resorting to physical confrontation to respond to difference of “opinions and observations.”
  • Recommendation: Extend the gift of an apology. Acknowledge and accept responsibility for your actions.
  • Recommendation: Acknowledge that she is an adult and as such, she is entitled to express herself without fear or concern of physical altercations.

Unresolved Anger

You are concerned that as a result of the incident, you are being viewed as an “angry person.”

This statement of concern is coming from your wife, a woman who has known you for many years.  With this in mind, consider the following:

  • What actions or incidents have occurred that would suggest that I have unresolved anger?
  • Understanding the changes that are occurring in my life, is it reasonable to expect that unresolved anger may be a issue?
  • Does having unresolved anger suggest that I am a “bad or negative person”?

As you ponder these questions, please consider the following perceptions and recommendations:

  • It is possible that the interaction of intervention by your daughter triggered a reaction within you.
  • The unwillingness to explore any such feelings of unresolved anger may be an unwillingness to explore whatever painful feelings lie within you.
  • Recommendation: Acknowledge that you may have some unresolved anger. Be aware. Become an advocate for change within yourself.
  • Recommendation: Have the willingness to explore the feelings that led to the incident as well as the behavior and actions on your part.

FINAL COMMENTS

Provoked & Regretful,

I understand that you may have felt provoked by your daughter’s actions and that you have since  apologized for what has occurred. However, it may be that in seeking to “move on,” you have failed to understand the significance of the incident and the potential harm that it may cause in your family, especially in your relationship with your daughter.

Specifically, by involving yourself in a physical altercation with your daughter you engaged in an act of “domestic violence.”   In doing this, you have violated the trust between father and daughter.  In a day and age where violence against women is rising, you must want to consider:

  • What behavior are you modeling for your daughter regarding appropriate interactions between men and women?
  • What fears or concerns will your daughter develop when establishing meaningful relationships with men?
  • If your daughter cannot depend upon you as a mentor, model or beacon of appropriate behavior then what is she to do?

I assume that this is the first time you have you have engaged in such behavior with your daughter (or any person).  Clearly the incident was traumatic.  If you believe that she has forgotten about the incident just because she’s not speaking about it, you are misleading yourself. It may be that discussion may not be possible at this time. That’s fine. However, the emotional wounds suffered must eventually be validated and addressed.   The psychological self will seek to hold on and remember what the mind struggles to forget.

Rather than avoid or minimize the situation, assume that a large open emotional wound has resulted.  Look for ways to assist your daughter, the family and yourself to heal those wounds.

The gift of the apology although meaningful is simply not enough. It is essential that you devise alternative strategies that may assist you in resolving conflict.  What will you do in the future, as there may be situations in which similar situations could develop?

One such strategy could be the utilization of the Five R’s of Relief.  This would include the following components:

  • Respite –Remove yourself temporarily from the developing situation. As you are taking a “time out,” take a series of deep breaths, clearing your emotional and mental capacities.
  • Reaction– It is important for you to fully own your reaction, because it is solely yours and yours alone, and it is your responsibility to come to terms with it.
  • Reflection-“Process” the developing situation. Allow your intellect and your feelings to work collectively to assess the situation and your role in it.
  • Response-This is what you share with the external world—in this case, your daughter. Initiate the conversation with balance and calmness.
  • Reevaluation-After all is said and done, take the time to learn from the experience. At the end of this exercise, the goal is, as always, the empowerment of the psychological self.

Finally, to address the concern regarding being seemed by society as an “angry black man,” there will always be those who will seek to judge based on unsubstantiated beliefs.  To focus on society at large in disproving stereotypes is like pushing a boulder up a mountain.

Rather than waste precious energy on that, I urge you to redirect your focus to the things that you can control, like changing the way you handle your emotions, and empowering the self.

Allow your journey of self-discovery to be your focus.  Walk the new path.  You may find that you are not alone.  Empower the self.

A wise person learns from his/her mistakes, makes corrections and finds the right path; the foolish one will continue without direction, never finding the road even when it is in front of his/her face.

-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life

The Visible Man

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Role Modeling & The Emotional Wound: Learning to Love the Self and (then) Loving Me More

 Dear Visible Man,

     In reading your writings, I’ve been reflecting on my childhood, having a mother who struggled as a single parent while raising me. I turned out okay—I didn’t get pregnant or get involved in drugs. I did go to college and I have been successful in my work in the healthcare industry. I remember the pride my mother had as I received my graduate degree.

     My mother has recently passed away and although I am grateful for all she did for me, I continue to harbor feelings of intense anger at her regarding the way she raised me.

     My mother was devoutly religious. She strongly believed in Proverbs 13:24:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

      My mother followed this proverb to the extreme.  I remember her whipping me and telling me to stop crying.  When I wouldn’t, she would say, “I’ll give you something to cry about.”  I would suck in air trying to stop.  My lower lip would tremble and I would stop sobbing while the tears rolled down my face.

      I would try to please my mother and stay out of trouble, but it always seemed that regardless of what I did or how well I excelled in school, it was never enough. I know she loved me. I never shared with her my feelings of anger. Like others, I was raised to obey my mother without question. Now, she is gone. It is too late and I am left feeling empty, but still full of anger.

     What do I do now?

Feeling Stuck, age 25, Seattle, WA

Dear Young Woman,

     First, I want to express my deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved. Second, in responding to your question, “What do I do now?” my suggestion is that you continue to empower the psychological self, which maybe conflicted between the grief you feel and the anger you hold regarding the way you were raised.

     Let’s clarify the issues of concern:  It is perceivable that understanding the experiences noted, you may be responding to the following issues:

  • Unresolved grief regarding the recent loss of your mother
  • Unresolved feelings associated with the discipline, lack of nurturing, or warmth by your mother
  • Internalized conflict associated with the trauma that has been experienced within the psychological self.
  • Questioning regarding conceptualization of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth.

Your words about your mother indicate that she was a person who loved you very much, but was unable to express her love in the way you would have benefited the most– a warm, nurturing and comfortable relationship.  There may be a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • In her own history, it is possible she may not have been exposed to such a relationship and therefore was unable to model that kind of relationship for you.
  • During her child and adolescent development, she may have endured specific types of abuse or traumatic experiences that continue to be unresolved.
  • Her current life as a single parent was difficult, so she may have been living in fear that you would have the same or similar life experiences.

Now that your mother has passed on, we will never know the reasoning for her actions.  One fact remains that although she has gone to be with her ancestors, you remained here, shouldering intense psychological pain from an open emotional wound.  In reality, the wound has been there for many years.

It is possible that you may have found ways to suppress or contain the pain associated with the wound.  However, now that your mother has passed on,  the internalized conscious and unconscious defenses you have used to defend, obstruct, or redirect the emotional pain are no longer available to you.

There are now “cracks” within the wall, and the emotional pain being held within the dam is slowly weakening the structure.  Unless something constructive is done, that dam will come crashing down and the torrents of emotional distress will overcome the psychological self.

It may be that the means or strategies that you used prior to your mother’s passing were unconstructive and therefore, it is essential to identify strategies that will assist you in not only becoming “unstuck”, but will also work towards empowerment of the psychological self.

A strategy that I would suggest is a framework I have designed known as the “Five Stages Of Recovery.”  It consists of the components Revelation, Acceptance, The Gift of Apology & Forgiveness, Letting Go, and Moving On.

  • Revelation:  It is here that you acknowledge the existence and impact of the emotional wound. It is here that you become aware of the trauma and damage that was done to the psychological self.
  • Acceptance:  It is here that you gain understanding of the impact of the emotional wound.  In doing so, you begin the process of healing the wound.
  • Gift Of Apology & Forgiveness:  It is here that you begin to look within the psychological self, acknowledging remorse and regret.  It is here that you come to terms regarding past behaviors of yielding/giving in to the pressures being exerted by your mother to ignore the developing emotional wound.  It is here that you seek to extend the “gift of apology” to the psychological self and in return, receive the gift of forgiveness from within.
  • Letting Go:  It is here that you free the psychological self from the pain associated with the emotional wound.  This is done through seeking to balance the dissipation of pain and suffering with gains of inner peace and freedom; this is achieved from the atonement of past behaviors.
  • Moving On:  Here, you have reached the plateau in which you have accepted the past and you are able to live with those experiences.  You are able to balance living in the present as well as creating a vision and hope for the future.

Concluding Remarks

First, whether or not you want to believe that given your mother’s circumstances, she did the best that she could,  the reality is that she is no longer among the living.  Second, whether you want to forgive her or not is not the focus of this writing.

The focus is on you and what you want for your life.  You can continue to hold on to the anger and maintain those internal conflicts, or you can choose to live.  If you choose to live, have the willingness to explore your conflicting feelings.  If indeed we only have one life to live, then make this life about you. Find acceptance.  Extend the apology and seek forgiveness.  Have the willingness to let go and move on with your life.   Create the determination to rise above and live the life you want, seeking the warm, nurturing relationships that you desire.

“Role models are not only examples of behavior we want to emulate.  Role models are also examples of what we ‘want not to be.’  We can focus on loving the self.  After achieving this stage, we can then reinforce the self by loving ourselves more.”

The Visible Man

A Victim No Longer: Foolish Behavior or Empowering the Self?

Readers,

Sometimes, we may engage in behaviors that others consider questionable.  However, deep within the psychological self, why this happens can be found.

Below is such a story.

Dear Visible Man,

I am writing to seek advice regarding something that happened many years ago.  I have tried to forget about it, but the issue continues to return and is now impacting the way I feel about men.

A little about myself:  I am a 40-year-old African-American female. I am single, and I work in a corporate setting.  Ten years ago, while traveling across the United States to meet someone I considered dating, I found myself isolated and alone with him, and I submitted to having sex with him.

Given the circumstances—it happened in darkness and in an area unknown to me– I felt I didn’t have a choice.  I admit that I didn’t clearly indicate to him no out of fear that I would be harmed, but I did on several occasions physically push him away.

At some point, I relented and I had sex with him.  However, my body kept saying no and wanted this ordeal to stop.  In the morning, I was able to obtain help and get away.  I never filed a criminal complaint because I believed I consented.  I never went through counseling because I felt that I created the situation that lead to my experience. I felt that I acted stupidly and as a result, was responsible for what happened.  When telling the story, I have always minimized what happened, often laughing it off.

Recently, I’ve been talking on the phone with someone I met online.  We both feel it’s time for us to meet face to face, but he resides in another state.  For safety reasons, I haven’t let him know where I live or other personal information, just in case things don’t work out. I told him that I would travel to the city in which he resides.

When the time came for me to go, I had a lot of anxiety, and flashes of my previous experience.  It’s disrupted my sleep and my ability to focus on my work.  I find myself having ongoing thoughts about the “what ifs” as well as imagining that this trip will be just like my previous experience.

My family and friends are very much against the idea of me traveling to meet him. But, I really want to go because I do not want to continue to chat online.  I want to know whether we can begin to have something more.  What are your thoughts? How do I overcome these feelings?

Searching For Answers, Seattle, WA

 

Dear Searching,

It is interesting that as you ended your writing, you asked, “What are your thoughts?”  You did not request suggestions or recommendations.  Therefore, I will assume that you remain determined to visit this man, despite the advice of your family and friends.

Before I answer your question, I want you to know that I used the same model that I’m going to share with you.  I hope that in reading this response, you will take the opportunity to follow this model as well.

This model is the “Five Rs of Relief.”

First, after reading your story, I stepped to the side, taking a timeout (RESPITE).

I then focused on “owning my emotions” (REACTION).

From there, I began to process what I was feeling and thinking (REFLECTION).

I am now preparing to share what I am feeling and thinking (RESPONSE).

After writing this and receiving feedback from you and others, I will review what has occurred, what I learned and how I would handle this or a similar situation next time (RE-EVALUATION).

As there are a lot of moving parts to your story, it is essential to clarify the issues, and separate what happened 10 years ago from what is happening today.

  • What is the meaning of the physical and psychological reactions that are occurring?

  • Why are you in denial of the traumatic experience that you endured ten years ago?

  • Why do you ignore the victimization that was a consequence of this horrific experience?

It is my deeply held belief that the psychological self will continue to advocate, seeking balance, and calmness; remembering the traumas, abuses, and the violence that the physical body fights to withstand and the intellectual mind struggles to forget.

Given this, you must have the willingness to review and reconsider the following statement,

       “At some point, I relented and I had sex with       him.”

This was not sex. This was a violation.  This was clearly an act of sexual assault.

Be willing to ask, given the following wording, where is there an indication of consent?

  • “At some point, I relented….”

  • “..I felt I did not have a choice.”

  • “I did on several occasions physically push him away.”

Clearly, there was no consent given for what happened to you.

Whether or not a criminal charge can be substantiated does not remove the reality that a sexual assault occurred.  Poor judgment or poor decision-making does not make you guilty for the horrific actions of someone else.

Were you victimized?  Consider the following statements:

  • “.. my body kept saying no.. “

  • “.. wanted this ordeal to stop.”

  • I never went through counseling because in what I allowed myself to happen.

  • I was stupid and therefore must assume responsibility.

  • When telling the story, I have always minimized what happened as well as laughing it off.

Yes, there was victimization.  In addition there is denial and avoidance.

  • Why deny something that is so obvious?

  • Why deny counseling?

  • Why avoid the opportunity to heal from such a traumatic experience?

Answer:  No one wants to view themselves as a “victim.”   Being a victim comes with the idea that you are weak, disempowered, or otherwise lacking. When someone is a victim, that individual suffers a loss of esteem, and a wound to how they see themselves.

To make up for this, you may seek to accept “responsibility” for the outcome of the grievous act. This is evident in your denial, avoidance, and minimization of the event, seeking to make it something it is not.

It may be relatively easy to fool others in minimizing the emotional consequences of a traumatic incident.  However, the psychological self continues to replay the trauma, forcing the physical body to deal with what the mind is attempting to forget.

Concluding Words

So, how do you overcome these feelings?  Focus on the following:

  • Advocacy: Make it a priority to speak up for the self—YOUR self.

  • Balance: Balance the experience of the sexual assault with your ongoing life journey. Work towards “letting go” of the incident, instead of forcing the psychological self to forget the traumatic event it survived.

  • Calmness: Bring calmness and continuity to your life.  Do not limit yourself to the label of “survivor of sexual assault.”  Instead, have the willingness to become a driver (empowerment), striver (pace setter) and thriver (achievement) and in doing so walk the journey of self-discovery.

Stop working overtime to overcome the feelings.  These actions are merely forcing the physical body to react and struggle in its response.  Instead, consider the following:

  • Seek mental health counseling

  • Acknowledge the victimization

  • Extend to the psychological self the gift of an apology for the actions of denial and avoidance of the suffering as well

  • Be willing to accept from the psychological self the gift of forgiveness for acceptance of responsibility for an action that was not for you to accept.

If you decide to travel to see this person, take heed to the lessons you learned from the prior incident:

  • Develop a safety plan.  Find a public place to meet, and make sure that you are able to leave anytime you wish.

  • Document significant information regarding this individual i.e. physical address, telephone number, email address etc

  • Provide your own lodging/accommodations, food etc

  • Limit your consumption of alcohol, and remember that if your drink is out of your personal sight, it is no longer your drink. Get another one.

  • Only meet with the individual in public settings.  Never accept an invitation to visit him at his residence.

  • Identify emergency resources in the local area i.e. police, fire etc

  • Provide a daily itinerary to family, friends and the management of the hotel that you are staying.

  • Be in daily contact with friends and family.

  • Create a password in communicating with your family and friends designating that you are either safe or in danger

Empower the self.  Being victimized does not mean that you cannot empower yourself to achieve a safe outcome.   It is clear that others may not understand your reasoning, but what’s essential is that YOU understand why you are initiating this journey. In doing that, make sure that you affirm to the psychological self that you have gained wisdom and learned from the past mistakes.  

“Once burned, we learn. If we do not learn we only assure ourselves that we will be burned again and again and again until …we learn.”

       -Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life 

The Visible Man

Betrayal & Self Sacrifice: His Loss, My Redemption

Dear Visible Man,

I am a 39-year-old African American woman who has a history of taking care of family members, while being indifferent to myself.

In telling my story, I know that there will be those who will sit in judgment of me.  They can do so, but they have never walked in my shoes.

I am currently awaiting the outcome of a judicial proceeding for a crime that I took legal responsibility for, but I didn’t commit.  Here’s what happened:

I was visiting my (now ex-) boyfriend in another state in the Deep South.  As we were driving back to my hotel, our car was pulled over by the local police. He had just been paroled four days earlier and was staying in a state mandated work release facility. 

As he was pulling over, he told me that he was driving on a suspended license and did not have auto insurance—both infractions that would subject him to arrest. In addition to these concerns, he had been smoking marijuana (and no, I do not smoke). 

So, once we were stopped, the police searched the car, and found marijuana.  Being from Seattle, where possession of such a small amount is not a big deal, and not wanting “my man” to go back to prison, I told police that the marijuana was mine.

I assumed that the police officer was going to write me a citation or make me throw it away—at least, that’s what would have happened in Seattle. But to my disbelief, I was formally arrested, fingerprinted, and photographed, and I had to come up with bail money in order to get out of jail. 

I have since returned to Seattle and I have hired an attorney to defend me in the state that I was arrested.  I have spent thousands of dollars dealing with this nightmare.  

Recently, I returned to the local court to face the judge.  My ex-boyfriend drove me to the courthouse, but waited for me in the parking lot while I faced the judge and responded to the charge.

My attorney and I explained the situation, and even mentioned that my ex-boyfriend was in the parking lot.  The judge was very sympathetic, but she said that unless he was willing to get out of the car, come into the courtroom and take responsibility, she would have no choice but to hand me a formal sentence.

It was clear that the judge, prosecutor and my lawyer were disgusted towards my ex-boyfriend for failing to “man up.”  In a way, I understood why he was unwilling to come forth- he was sure that he would have to go back to jail for violation of his parole.  Still, he was willing to allow me to take the weight of his actions– and he was my man!  How could he do this to me?

In the end, I was formally sentenced, and   thankfully, I’m allowed to complete my legal obligations in Seattle rather than being forced to remain thousands of miles away from home.  I have since ended the relationship, but he continues to contact me, saying that he wants me back in his life.

Today I carry a mixture of feelings.  I am still traumatized by the experience that I endured.  I feel betrayed and I am angry with him for allowing me to go through this nightmare.  I have flashbacks that keep me up at night.  I have some feelings of depression and being lost.

Yet at the same time, I still have strong feelings for him.  He continues to attempt to contact me, even though I’ve placed a block on his phone calls.  I know that the relationship is over, but it’s difficult for me to move on.  My eyes are open to his actions and irresponsible behaviors.  I know I have to move on with my life.

I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions you may have so I can find resolution.

Kiki Seattle, WA

Dear Kiki,

Before responding, I want to thank you for having the security within the psychological self to share your story. It is clear that you have acknowledged your error in judgment and you are taking responsibility for actions that were not of your own making.

You do sound conflicted on how you feel and what you want.  You have likely experienced the following:

  • Anger/sadness in that he allowed you to carry the weight of his actions.

  • Being betrayed as well as his unwillingness to “man up.”

  • Symptoms that are impacting you physically as well as emotionally.

As you explore these feelings, have the willingness to explore the actions of this individual prior to the incident that has now impacted your life.  This individual, after being released from jail and while being housed in a work release facility while on parole knowingly chose to:

  • Consume marijuana in the car he is driving.

  • Drive with a suspended driver’s license.

  • Drive without automobile insurance.

  • Conduct these behaviors in a jurisdiction in which the listed infractions are offenses that mandate arrest.

Clearly, this is the behavior of an individual who is irresponsible, reckless and heading towards self-destruction.  He must want to look within the self and question why he is committed to behaviors and actions that will clearly lead to his return to a life of incarceration.

It would be an error to focus on his “unwillingness to man up.” Instead, let’s focus on his choices.  In this situation, this individual, faced with the option to accept responsibility and return to jail, he chose instead to “sacrifice” the woman “he loves.”

He affirms his willingness to be there for you in driving you to the courthouse for your formal sentencing.   Now he seeks to have you remain in his life given the “sacrifice” you have made for the relationship.  It may be apparent to him that you are prepared to make more sacrifices.

In your writing, there was a statement of “a history of taking care of family members while being indifferent to myself.”   It may be that this individual has “sniffed out” your nature to prioritize the wants of others over your own.

Have the willingness to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I prioritize others above myself?

  • Why do I allow others to use and abuse my kindness or me?

  • If I am living in fear, what is it that I am afraid of?

Have the willingness to love the self and in doing so “love me more.”  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I move towards living with fear instead of living in fear?

  • How do I respond to the conflicted feelings that lie within?

  • How do I move forth?  What lies ahead?

YOUNG WOMAN, you are not alone.  There are many travelers like yourself on the journey we call LIFE.  The answers to the questions above reside within you.

  • You must want to have belief, faith and trust in self.

  • You must want to embrace your fears because these are your and your alone.

  • You must want to extend to the self the gift of the apology and receive in return the blessings of forgiveness.

YOUNG WOMAN, the psychological and physical symptoms you are experiencing (depression, flashbacks, etc.) may be a response to “betrayal trauma.”  This form of trauma is a violation of implicit and explicit trust.  The closer the relationship, the greater the degree of betrayal and thus, trauma.

There are seven subtypes of trauma, of which betrayal trauma is identified as being the most intrusive and damaging.  Recovery from such a traumatic experience can occur, with therapeutic work.   The error of one’s thinking is that time heals emotional wounds.  Without work (therapeutic involvement), time is simply what it is and no more…. Time.

YOUNG WOMAN, your ex-boyfriend has given you a “gift.”  It is called the “gift of exposure.”  He has, by not taking responsibility, shown you who and what he truly is.  He has also shown you what can be expected of him in the future should you decide to return to him.

As you struggle with your feelings, ask the self the following questions:

  • Do I deserve more in my intimate relationships?

  • I have only one life. Am I willing to settle for less?

  • What am I willing to do in order to get what I want?

Finally, as I may have feelings for him, DO I LOVE ME MORE?

YOUNG WOMAN, in closing, you may be correct in your earlier assessment, that there will be those who will have much to say in their rush to judgment.  However, such individuals have failed themselves by not “listening” to the wisdom that comes from your story.  Simply stated, they are “not ready.”

If you have the opportunity to speak to the ex-boyfriend, encourage him to benefit from the loss of this most valuable intimate relationship.  And in doing that, forgive yourself.  The passages below can be useful for both of you.

“To err is human” is a common expression yet we should not believe there is always room for error. In some cases there is no room for error. None.”

“A wise person learns from his/her mistakes, makes corrections and finds the right path; the foolish one will continue without direction, never finding the road even when it is in front of his/her face.”

Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life, Dr. Micheal Kane

The Visible Man