Finally believing it wasn't your fault
April 26, 2016 9:11 AM   Subscribe

If you are a survivor of sexual assault (especially childhood sexual assault) aside from therapy what helped you realize and know for certain that what happened wasn't your fault? How did you get to a point of certainty where all of your being knew you weren't to blame?

(Yet another abuse question...apologies)

I never think that victims are at fault. I would never blame a child for what happened yet I keep (especially when triggered) blaming myself and have no idea how not to. My therapist says that if there was one thing that she could magically fix it would be me blaming myself. It's an issue that I struggle with constantly and after revealing a *big* thing in therapy last week and still believing it was my fault I'm starting to think I will never get there. I can kind of see that any of the assaults that happened from 16 on weren't entirely my fault (mainly because of the surprise nature of the assaults and understanding the concept of abuse within a relationship) but the things that happened as a child I still see as all because I just was a bad child.

Because of the nature of my abuse (10+ years, multiple perps, brain washing, things happening that I doubt most "normal" people would believe happen to a child) my brain is all twisted up with CPTSD and a dissociative disorder. I struggle mightly with accepting the fact that I'm mentally ill because of being abused and keep using that as proof that it was my fault because other people get abused and don't end up with their lives messed up by their brain to the extent mine is. I know logically that it isn't true and that half the reason I believe I am a bad person was that I had it drilled into me as a child that it was the reason the abuse was happening. I belong to an online community and have done groups where I see other victims reacting the way I do and never blame them, yet when it comes to me...It's all my fault.

My outer life is doing better (a year out away from abusive family members, living on my own, thinking about the future, no longer constantly suicidal, a lot of my reactions to triggers now handled better) but I just can't believe it isn't my fault.

I was wondering if anyone else managed to get their minds around that they didn't cause the abuse to happen and how. I know my abuse was extreme so you might not be able to relate but was there a book or on-line community or article or anything that let you ease the door into actually believing it was the abuser's fault and not yours. I sometimes mouth the words and can parrot all the things that survivors are supposed to believe but I had to admit to myself and my therapist this week that I honestly do believe that I was a bad child and caused it all.

Sorry I keep asking these questions but Askme has been *so* helpful before.
posted by kanata to Human Relations (26 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You have been through so much more than many have had to endure, and you are clear headed and able to see the problem right in front of you and that is amazing. Perhaps you could work with your therapist to examine the ways in which you believe that your self-blame and guilt is helping/serving you. You are having a hard time letting go of it because it is familiar, and while you can see all the ways in which it hurts you, I can't tell from your question if you have examined the ways in which your psyche believes that it is important for you to hang on to this belief.

I have not experienced anything near the trauma you have, but I do know that I tend to blame myself for things that happened to me that were completely not my fault. I find myself doing this because believing that I was somehow to blame for it, or could have done things differently to prevent the outcome that occurred, while painful and extremely unhelpful for me, helped me feel a false sense of control. This mental fallacy is one I am familiar with, and therefore it FEELS easier for me to deal with than the reality that I am a vulnerable human who - like all other humans in the world - can not fully and 100% protect myself from trauma or tragedy.

This is not something you will be able to snap your fingers and realize at your core. But perhaps if you frame it this way with your therapist, you might get some forward motion?

Peace and light to you. You are amazing for what you have been through and the work you continue to do to leave it behind. You are doing the work and it is paying off and it's taking time, but you will get there.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's simple really.

Children can't ever consent to sex or sexual behavior. Can't. Don't have the capacity.

Children are curious about sex and have sexual feelings, and this is perfectly normal. ADULTS have capacity to tell a child, "No, that's not appropriate," if for some reason a child is being sexual with an adult.

I will say that sexually abused children can be sexually enticing to adults, but that's all part of the abuse. The children get things so misunderstood, that they think this is how they SHOULD behave. An adult in that situation needs to tell the child, "that's not appropriate." And then call Child Protective Services because this is a HUGE red flag that a child has been molested or raped.

I am so sorry none of the adults in your childhood acted responsibly or with your interests in mind.

So if you believe that in some way you were teasing or enticing adults sexually on as a child, just know that you were acting within the framework of your experiences, not because you wanted to or because you were bad. It was a symptom of the terrible things you endured at the hands of your abusers.

No child deserves to be assaulted sexually or violently for any reason on this earth. Ever. There is no child so bad that somehow they've earned a punishment that involves sexual activity or beatings.

Adults are supposed to know better and to do better, and I'm so sorry that no adult in your life stepped in to help when you were a child.

Keep saying to yourself, "I was a defenseless child and people took advantage of me. I have the right to be safe and to be protected. I will triumph over this because I deserve to live a healthy and happy life."

One day you will believe it to be true. For now, live your life expressly for yourself! Love your body and treat it well. Give your self gifts. Be grateful for the blessings in your life today.

It will happen, when you're ready.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:37 AM on April 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

Something that has helped some of my clients is spending (low-key) time around children who are the same age now as the clients were when the abuse started. Actually seeing how young they really were seemed to help them get around whatever parts of our brains make us think we should have known then everything we know now.

It doesn't work for everyone, but it may be something to try. And by "low-key time" I mean things like "paying attention when walking past a playground," nothing at all intense or even necessarily interactive.
posted by lazuli at 9:45 AM on April 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

At the moment of the assault the child faces a choice. Either accept that the world is violent and unsafe and that harm could come at any moment, or invent a causal model that means there is a way to go on and prevent further harm. If you believe you caused it, that means you believe you can prevent it by not causing it next time.

I struggled to bulid an opposing worldview that says this harm is real but it was so, so hard. There are powerful forces all around denying the reality of abuse. Mainstream society feels essentially like one big conspiracy, all trying to reinforce the lie that we control our fates and that we can keep ourselves happy and safe if we follow the rules. When I finally let this go, in an emotional rush, I felt two intense feelings simultaneously: first overwhelmed by the beauty and preciousness of life, and second, incredulous at how far we have fallen, how much of a hell we live in. "How could this be true", I remember saying through tears as I felt the light wash over me. How utterly, utterly betrayed we have all been.

If you keep facing the darkness and facing the truth of what was done to you, you will find your way to the light.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

I might as well be open since I already spread my life all over Askme :) The thing that truly makes it my fault is that they gave me a choice to... do this really bad thing or have something really bad happen to me... So I chose to do this bad thing which absolutely disgusts me and makes me sure that I am a "bad person" and that I deserved everything that happened. Because it was a choice I get a block when I get close to believing that it wasn't my fault. My therapist and I have gone around and around this and she tries to get me to see that it was natural for a human to do something to prevent something bad happening to them but I can't understand it and get stuck on how I betrayed my morals and made the wrong choice at 11.
posted by kanata at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2016

I made progress on this when I realized that no matter how awful I was as a child, I didn't deserve what happened to me. No matter how annoying, cruel, naughty or provocative a child is, harming them is never acceptable.

I think getting really frustrated with a friend's obnoxious cat helped me see this. I HATED that awful beast, but under no circumstances was it ok to be cruel to it.
posted by congen at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

That is not a choice. Options of "abuse type 1" or "abuse type 2" is not a choice. You had no choice.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2016 [29 favorites]

I am sorry this happened to you, kanata.

Eventually I hope you can conceive of this "choice" as a survival strategy. With a gun to your head you do what you are told to stay alive. It doesn't mean you chose it; it means you wanted to live. You did what you had to do to survive and prevent a greater harm.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

they gave me a choice to... do this really bad thing or have something really bad happen to me... So I chose to do this bad thing

It was not a choice. If a bank robber points a gun at a bank teller and says "Give me the money or I'll kill you," did the bank teller choose to give him the money? Is the robbery the bank teller's fault in any way? No, of course not. So it was with you.

A lot of abusers (of all kinds) are skilled at making you think you're inviting them to hurt you, or have done something that obligates you to let them hurt you. It's part of the abuse. So...don't blame yourself for blaming yourself, either. Being made to blame yourself was part of the way they hurt you.
posted by praemunire at 9:56 AM on April 26, 2016 [10 favorites]

I want to say that I'm really happy that you are no longer constantly suicidal. And I hope that the transitory urges for self-harm will eventually quiet down.

I don't want to trawl through your posting history and make guesses about your gender, so I'm going to avoid making guesses because I do know that both boys and girls are potentially targets of pedophiles.

This discussion of coping behavior during and after assault that was posted on Mefi this month is really useful at creating a new framing in my mind, but I am not a survivor. I've just experienced the "common" amount of sexual pushiness and not wanting to hear "no". I think I have always been aware that some people freeze up and disassociate.

If you are a male survivor of assault, I would recommend staying the hell away from the Dennis Hastert assault case that is being litigated in the US right now. And the reason I suggest staying away is that I bitterly anticipate there being a lot of victim-blaming in that discussion. Victim blaming imagines that victims have exaggerated powers that they don't really have. I wish our discussions around assault were more real.

For anyone, I found ideas in this book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, to contain a useful concept. The book was written by a rabbi whose son died young. But it addresses the idea of "Job's comforters", those not at all comforting people who, when you are suffering, distance them self emotionally by blaming the sufferer for bringing suffering onto themselves, (say by walking down the wrong street or failing to carry a lucky rabbit's foot, or whatever). It's a horrible thing to do, but very common, because the people saying these things feel securely superior in the (false) belief that random fate is never going to rain down misfortune on them.

Many pieces of "good advice" in our culture, like health advice, only improve good outcomes by 10 to 20 percent. That's not all the percents! And when it comes to rape "prevention" advice, some tips like wearing shoes you can run in only create the possibility to "dodge" the assault. It's likely that the rapist will move on and rape someone else.
posted by puddledork at 10:05 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I had to make a "choice" like that at about the same age. I still feel regret that things happened as they did, but that's different from it having been my fault. I'd like to second the recommendation to spend time around real kids. I think it's easy to look back and remember feeling so conscious and thoughtful and have a sense of continuation from being a kid to being an adult, like you were equally in control of your reality all the way... but really they're fundamentally different states, and it's not at all reasonable to expect a child to be self-sacrificing, especially when an adult is deliberately manipulating them toward the "do bad thing" option. I'm sure that if you had picked the punishment, at best it would have meant that you got both. There was no version of events where you could have stopped the adult from getting their way. And I know that you want to insist that child-you was more capable than I'm telling you, which is why I think spending time with kids will help you realise just how vulnerable even the cagiest and most clever of them are.
posted by teremala at 10:11 AM on April 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

From an anonymous Mefite:
I have experienced a similar disconnect between logically knowing I wasn’t at fault and somehow feeling responsible for being abused as a child. For years I downplayed -- even to myself and even in therapy -- the fact of the violation and its effects on me. No surprise, it’s affected my mental health too.

For me a real turn came when I when I was able to really feel anger about it, and point that anger in the right direction: at my abusers, and at the family who could have protected me but didn’t. Owning that anger, allowing myself to feel it, has been transformative for me. Weirdly, admitting a feeling of helplessness and rage has lightened my own burden of guilt, erased doubt about the nature of the abuse, and lessened my worry about my own responsibility for it.

I should note that I haven’t been able to communicate my anger to the people involved, because of deaths/estrangement -- but giving voice to it (with a supportive partner, and a good therapist), has been a big step forward for me.

I am so sorry this happened to you, kanata. It makes me sick and sad to read about this, to see the weight of responsibility they laid on you as a child. Much strength in getting through it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2016 [15 favorites]

Eventually I hope you can conceive of this "choice" as a survival strategy. With a gun to your head you do what you are told to stay alive. It doesn't mean you chose it; it means you wanted to live. You did what you had to do to survive and prevent a greater harm.

Also, you did not have the emotional or cognitive equipment to make a cold, rational, risk-benefit calculation. Because of your age, your dependency on the abusers, and because of simply being a victim - even adults who are faced with a "choice" of sexual vs. other kinds of violence are dealing with a loaded choice. The perpetrators were people you *had* to rely on for everything in your life - what you ate, where and how you slept, your basic reality. The known is usually less scary than the unknown, for most people, and especially for children. On some level, you knew you would have to see them again, rely upon them again. One of the unknowns, or a fear, might have been the disruption of your reality, the loss of your whole structure of life. That need for coherence and stability is powerful, in everyone. People (adults) often do things that are against their long-term interests to maintain this feeling of security, coherence, order. And you were just so little. No one should expect you to do differently than an adult would.

Are you familiar with Harlow's research on monkeys? He looked at rhesus monkeys' responses to fake "mothers". They each were given a cloth "mother", which did offer soft, physical comfort. They attached strongly to these figures. They were later given a choice between going to these cloth mothers, when these cloth moms had no food to offer, and going to a "mother" that did offer food, but was made of wood and wire. The babies went to the "mothers" they knew and were attached to, because they offered *some* kind of comfort, even though they were not being taken care of by those mothers.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:33 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

The thing that truly makes it my fault is that they gave me a choice to... do this really bad thing or have something really bad happen to me.

That actually makes it sexual assault under duress. Duress is a classic legal excuse in criminal law, meaning even the legal system has long recognized that compliance under threat is absolutely not culpable. Also, as noted earlier, even if there weren't duress, you were a child.

It might help a little to also recognize this inability you are experiencing to realize you had no control is a classic manifestation of PTSD. Trauma like what you went through means loss of control of your own body. Almost every symptom of PTSD - e.g. eating too much or too little -- expresses the overwhelming need to take control back. Thinking this was your fault is a way of telling yourself that you had the ability to stop it from happening. But you never do have the ability to prevent this kind of criminal behavior against yourself, any more than you can wave a wand and prevent a hurricane or earthquake. The only thing within your control is healing, and ironically to heal you have to accept that you had no power or ability to prevent this when it happened to you. (You should also recognize you made the right choice to survive, or you would not be here to tell us about it.)

For me, coming to terms with my sexual assault really involved realizing how calculated it was, and that it was not wrong of me to trust a friend, but wrong of my friend to betray that trust. If you dissect what happened to you, you will see the same calculation and abuse of trust. Which of course means the person at fault . . . was your perpetrator.

Internet hugs to you. I know from your contributions on MetaFilter what a kind and thoughtful person you are. You definitely neither agreed to this nor caused it, and imho you have transcended it, too.
posted by bearwife at 10:38 AM on April 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

You weren't given a choice.

You were lied to, and TOLD that you had a choice so that your abuser could make you feel complicit in your own abuse, so that your abuser could break you down further by making you feel responsible. But regardless of what 'choice' you made at that moment, your abuser held all the cards, because you were just a kid, and they were an adult with evil intentions, and that's all it takes for one person to dominate another.
posted by Ausamor at 10:50 AM on April 26, 2016 [15 favorites]

Abusers typically make an effort to make the child feel complicit so that the child will keep their secrets. This is a standard tactic of abusers. And society is complicit because society currently reinforces the idea that victims should be ashamed and should keep their mouths shut. This is why I am open about what happened to me: because someone needs to push back against that bullshit. I didn't come up with that idea. I had it modeled for me by a woman who bravely spoke out in an even more oppressive time.

I am going to suggest that in the future, you should not apologize for posting these questions. Follow the protocol to include a trigger warning. Keep the details below the fold so that people can opt out if they wish. But you have nothing to apologize for. You are trying to fix what someone else broke. You are doing nothing wrong.

I found the movie "Sophie's Choice" helpful. If you haven't seen it, it is a tough topic. The crux of it is that Sophie is given a poison choice that no one should ever be given and it ruins her.

What was done to you in terms of making you feel at fault is part of the abuse. I didn't stop blocking memories until I was in therapy on another continent. If there is anything you can do to further shore up your actual personal safety, that may help you move forward.

Find your voice. These unspeakable crimes are the fault of your abusers. Finding your voice will be a rocky road. Other people will have a hard time with it, but there are some outlets that will be more socially acceptable than others. Find a way to speak of it. The impact of that ...can feel like your soul is a tangible thing and has been changed permanently.
posted by Michele in California at 10:52 AM on April 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

I am so deeply sorry.

This is like giving someone the choice of being shot from the left side of the head or the right side. The damage happens either way. You had no way out. You are absolutely not at fault, as you had no escape from the situation as a whole.

As someone with a dissociative disorder (also stemming from childhood sexual abuse), I'm painfully aware that familiarity--particularly with regard to recognizing one's own self--feels extremely valuable. I wonder if, having been convinced for so long that you were a "bad" kid, you might be fearful of having to learn who you are if not that. Maybe you could ask your therapist to pay very close attention to whether shedding the guilt begins tipping toward a sense of losing your identity. (I promise you will not lose your self, your real, beautifully multifaceted self, but it might be less frightening if your therapist is on high alert about any such fears.)

other people get abused and don't end up with their lives messed up by their brain to the extent mine is

Oh, how I've felt this. I know someone who was given a choice-no-choice repeatedly as a kid, and when he was finally "caught" (by someone not involved) and even punished, he was utterly relieved and still sees the "tattletale" as An Angel. You and I were not rescued from the abuse, even in that awful way, at least as far as I can tell. I guess what I'm saying is I've envied his resilience, but every story is different, and when there is no rescuer (or even perceived rescuer), the shit really sticks, and for some of us it takes boatloads of work and therapy, but it really can and does get better.

Your dogged pursuit of truth is truly inspiring. I detest that you've had to go through so much agony, but please know that the Real You* is worth every bit that you're investing.

*It's okay if you're not sure who the real you is quite yet. What I, and I'm sure others here, see is someone who doesn't just survive but keeps reaching--friend, you will thrive!
posted by whoiam at 11:09 AM on April 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Honestly? Just time.

My understanding based on similar experience is that these sort of realisations dont come overnight.

I understand where you're coming from in doing the work, changing your life, going to therapy, you kind of expect that the way you feel will magically change and that you'll flip a switch in your head and what feel intellectually and in your heart will suddenly align, and you'll magically be able to make sense and feel better.

It doesn't work like that, or didn't for me.

I think what you said about being "programmed" is very true; its a clumsy analogy but it works I think to see this as someone getting into your system and re-writing it.

As a survivor of abuse myself its something I think a lot of other people without our experience don't understand - they think things just happened to our bodies, but underestimate the damage elsewhere too, in our hearts and our minds, and in the way we think and act and live in the world.

Part of the damage is mental; living in a world where white is black and black is white is too much to live with, so to keep yourself safe you try and take this on and try to claim it as your own, just so you can live with it.

Its terribly ironic but prior to dealing with my own past history I worked with abused kids for a decade, given my experience I couldn't help but be the strongest advocate for those children; but extending that understanding and compassion to myself was impossible for me. Crazy eh?

From my experience the only thing that really helped me was really developing my sense of self compassion, though bearing in mind I didn't have any was a very hard rope to climb. But, gradually, through having a good relationship and some excellent counselling I was able to start to feel that I deserved it.

Accepting compassion from others is very hard though, in requiring you to give up your defenses and feel and show your vulnerability (the very thing the "choose it / deserve it" narrative is all about, self protection). But also to give up your sense of control over the narrative you've to some extent organised yourself around - of being in control, of having agency and making choices, and being "right." And probably most challenging of all to actually emotionally consider yourself a victim, when you've spent your life wishing it away.

The good news? Having said this, getting over this was the final step in really getting over things for me and in knocking down the last of my bullshit defenses, and the first step to feeling better and feeling better with the world.

Its also terribly humbling. sickening, and hard.

Its not for everyone though I know, some people I know struggling with it so hard that they never quite manage it, but climbing over the hill of it really did change my life.

As to getting right longterm, its a long process; good friends; animals; art; long walks in nature and spiritual practice all helped me to put the pieces back together, but this was years of work, and still continues.

I'm thankful I live a lot easier now.
posted by Middlemarch at 11:09 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, and yes about spending time around kids, with one caveat: some of those kids have been inappropriately sexualized too. But when my own kid was 11, he was such a child, and I couldn't believe how wrong I'd been about my ideas of myself at that age.
posted by whoiam at 11:16 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's not a choice. I'm so angry on your behalf that you were so harmed as a child. The people who did this to you and the people who allowed it and didn't protect you are the absolute scum of the earth. They are things that need to be scraped off of my shoes.

Nothing that happened to you was of your choosing. You didn't initiate or ask for any of this abuse.

Keep working on loving yourself. You are worth it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:25 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

For me, it was when my guilt turned to anger. Then, my anger turned to rage. Then, I raged until I was heartbroken. And then, I could actually feel my heart get better, but I was exhausted for a looong time from all the work that healing really is. And now I feel an overwhelming determination to root out injustice and expose abuse, and simultaneously mete out kindness and grace.

It took 15 years and I'm writing this in a profoundly depressed state. But not because I was abused; it's just because I'm a person with depression. And that's just my normal sometimes. It won't last forever.

Good luck to you. Keep going.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 12:27 PM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

The thing that truly makes it my fault is that they gave me a choice to... do this really bad thing or have something really bad happen to me... So I chose to do this bad thing which absolutely disgusts me and makes me sure that I am a "bad person" and that I deserved everything that happened. Because it was a choice I get a block when I get close to believing that it wasn't my fault.

Hey, so, I've struggled with the same feelings for a very similar reason (if more details would help, feel free to memail me). What has helped me the most is hearing from others who have been in similar situations (like you!) and being very mindful about the way I interpret their experience. For example, reading your story, my immediate reaction is that I absolutely do not think anything that happened was your fault. The fault belongs 100% to the adult who put you in that situation, which means that even if you responded to that situation in a way you think now (with the considerable benefits of an adult brain, life experience, and hindsight!!) was non-ideal, the end result was still not your fault at all. So, if I look at my reaction to your story and deliberately compare it with my reaction to my own past, I can see how I might be judging myself a little unfairly. Maybe a similar strategy would work for you. I saw that you said "I never think that victims are at fault," so maybe it would help to think about why you're considering yourself an exception to that rule.

I tend to be very self-critical in general too, and while it's very much a work in progress, I try to remember the rule of thumb I first heard around here a long time ago - treat yourself at least as well as you'd treat your best friend. If you wouldn't make mean comments about your friend's appearance, or personality, or the way they reacted to abuse as a child, why is it ok to do that to yourself?

I completely realize how difficult some thinking patterns can be to shake even when we're fully aware that they're unreasonable, so I don't mean to imply that this is an easy fix, or that you don't already realize that those self-critical thoughts are illogical. Still, I've found it easier to push away the illogical thoughts after thinking carefully about where they come from, because then I can remind myself of the precise ways they are illogical, unfair, objectively incorrect, etc.
posted by randomnity at 12:47 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Apologies for the multiple comments, but I think it's worth noting that even if the person giving you the so-called "choice" was not an adult, it was still not your fault. An 11-yr-old can be utterly intimidated, bullied, abused, etc. by another kid, too. Without trustworthy adult allies to defend a child in that setting, the child is still in a no-win situation (yes, even if the perpetrator was also a victim of abuse).

The man that abused me was very much my elder, but it makes me ill to think of you reading comments about pedophiles and thinking you're to blame if the predator was not an adult. You are not to blame.
posted by whoiam at 2:42 PM on April 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

It really is deprogramming. You've had a vicious sabotaging routine that kept you blaming yourself and directing your anger at the awful abuse away from the abusers and kept you silent, and that's been deliberately ground into your mind through traumatic threats.

Now you need to learn a new routine, and it is hard. I faked my way through healthy practices at first, and then therapy helped me unpack some of the anger behind, and then it's time and repetition of the new better routine. EMDR and dialectical therapy are supposed to help shorten the time for trauma processing if you want to explore those with your therapist, especially with PTSD involved.

I mentally picture this as rewriting a groove in my brain, retraining my brain with new patterns and reminding myself that the brain is flexible and can learn. It's not insurmountable - it's hard, but possible.

I have personally found having a small childhood photograph of me around on my desk has been a surprisingly helpful tool, reminding me that I was just an ordinary kid and not a vicious nasty monster. It's next to pictures of my own kids and other objects I like, and it's sort of - mournful, like this poor sad kid, who I can feel sorry for now and tender towards.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:00 PM on April 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

I just wanted to come back and say thanks. I reread this thread a lot. I'm still struggling with this in therapy but a lot of you gave me a lot to think about and my therapist and I are working on me trying to counter the internal messages that scream I'm a bad person and it's all my fault. Some of what you said gave us a good stepping off and she's noticed since I posted this I'm less likely to just say I'm a bad person. I can't quite say I'm a good person but I'm up to saying I'm maybe not *all* bad. Thanks again.
posted by kanata at 3:03 PM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

That's progress. You may not be comfortable saying it yet, but I am comfortable saying that you are not just a good person, you're a phenomenal one. I am continually impressed by your resilience and effort. You are loved!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:06 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

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