It wasn't that bad, but I'm reacting as if it was.
August 16, 2013 6:05 PM Subscribe
In short, I'm looking for advice on how to heal from situations that have caused the sort of reaction you get from abuse without the situation actually being abusive.
posted by anonymous to human relations (27 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry if this question is long, rambly or incoherent - I have tried to make it as short and readable as possible. Essentially, I have had various experiences that have had a considerable effect on my well-being, despite not being all that serious, and I'm really struggling to move on. Here they are:
1) Some of the things some male relatives did when I was younger made me feel a bit uncomfortable. They include telling me repeatedly they wanted to make out with me, tricking me into kissing them, putting a hand under where I was about to sit or doing a weird chomping on my neck (I'm not sure how else to explain it - it wasn't quite neck kissing, but it felt a bit too intimate). I know this was all done in jest (also completely openly), but I always really hated it and felt like my personal space was being invaded. Obviously since it was a joke I couldn't ask them to stop. This went on during my childhood and teenage years.
2) My father had undiagnosed depression for a few years when I was a teenager, and took this out on me before he realised he had a problem. Most of the time it was just getting angry or giving me the silent treatment for weeks if I looked at him wrong, but he did once tell me I ought to kill myself and then acted like it was my fault.
3) A friendship turned a little unkind before ending a year and a half ago. Over a period of two years, the friend engaged in behaviours like gaslighting, flying off the handle unpredictably and generally set up situations where it was impossible for me to do the right thing (as one example, getting angry at me for spending time with other people, then getting angry again when I withdrew for fear of upsetting them). They were also experiencing untreated mental health issues.
I've spoken to people - relatives, friends, professionals - who have called different aspects of the above experiences abusive. The thing is... they weren't, were they? I think it's an insult to people who've really been abused to compare the trivial things that happened to me to what they've been through. I think basically everyone has relatives who make them feel uncomfortable and friends who have been unkind despite being very good people! Annoyingly, I've reacted to these normal things as if they were actually serious - among other things, I feel disgusting when I'm in the presence of those particular relatives, I have flashbacks accompanied by spasms and I'm terrified of making other people angry. I have always been oversensitive like this. This all means that I can't - and shouldn't - access the sort of help that someone who's actually been abused could access... but I still kinda need something. I'm sure I can't be the only person who overreacts like this to normal things.
The question is, what help *can* I access seeing as my experiences don't fall under the banner of abuse at all? Are there books and websites I can read? Is there even a name for these sorts of things? I know it will be suggested, but therapy is a bit of a tricky one since I can't afford private treatment (NHS treatment is hard to come by and I can't justify trying again when I'm not really suffering enough). Since it's probably relevant, I am female and 22 years old - I've also been diagnosed with depression and anxiety with some post-traumatic elements.
So, tl;dr - how do I go about healing from not-serious-or-abnormal-but-still-unaccountably-upsetting periods in my life? Thank you in advance! Throwaway e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org