M cancelled my session today because of bad weather. I suspected he would but I was still upset when I got his email. I wanted to talk to him about wanting him to respond to something I say and then when he doesn’t respond feeling like I have to stop talking about it. What I didn’t want to talk about was my conversations with my eldest daughter over the last couple of days but we had another painful one tonight.
Four days ago my 16-year-old told me she wanted to talk to me about something. She started by telling me she wasn’t going to university after high school (she just finished a week of exams) and I wasn’t thrilled to hear that especially since she doesn’t seem to have any plan at all. I thought that was what she wanted to discuss but actually that was just her warm up topic.
She tried to stay calm but eventually yelling at me that she was so angry at me that I was overweight and unhealthy (I am morbidly obese and have some physical limitations because of it.) She told me she is afraid I’m going to die young and that isn’t fair to her and it makes her so angry that I won’t even try to lose weight (and I feel like I try to fail at losing weight everyday.) It was painful having her attack me at my weakest point and I struggled to accept her feelings. I told her I knew she loved me and that I accepted and understood that she was angry at me. Then she got more upset because the fact that I accepted her anger made it even worse because I clearly wasn’t going to change how I ate. I told her that It was a complex issue that wasn’t going to be amenable to an easy fix. She says she knew that but she was still angry that I didn’t care about her feelings enough to change. It was a difficult conversation but I thought we weathered it together.
The next night we started discussing my eating and exercise habits and how they developed in my childhood. I hoped sharing with her some of my difficulties would help her understand me and hopefully defuse some of her anger. I talked about my parents incredibly critical attitude where they had me convinced I was fat in the second grade. I stopped taking or eating lunch at school in grade 4 and they didn’t notice. We talked about how my parents but their sons in all kinds of sports but not their daughters. These things weren’t new to her (she has had her own experiences with my parents judgement) but I was trying to describe how events in my life have impacted my view of myself and my eating habits. I was struggling because my daughter knows that my parents were neglectful in many ways but not about any overt abuse.
While I considered what or how much I could say, my daughter surprised me by asking me outright if I had been molested as a child. I didn’t consider lying and just said yes. She was surprised even though she had asked the question. I told her I wouldn’t tell her any details but that the perpetrator was someone who was part of my large family and that I saw throughout my life. I also told her that I had told my parents when I was 14 and they had never mentioned it again and we all continued on like I had never said anything. I don’t think my abuser knows I told my parents and they certainly continued treating him and me the same. I managed not to cry and the conversation moved on to other things that happened in my childhood and early adulthood. After I worried that I might have made a mistake telling my daughter.
Tonight my daughter asked me if she could ask me more questions about the abuse although she knew I might not be willing to answer them. I agreed. She started by asking me if anyone else in my family was molested and I told her I wasn’t comfortable telling her other people’s stories but I told her I thought I was the only person who had been abused that way for years. Then she told me that she didn’t understand why I still talked to my parents. She got really angry asking why I didn’t cut them off when I was an adult, how I could keep seeing them, that what they did (ignoring what I told them) was so wrong she didn’t think there is any grey area. They aren’t good people and why in the world would I continue a relationship with them. I know she was angry at them on my behalf but fairly quickly she also got angry at me for not cutting them off. I tried to explain my attempts to maintain a relationship with all the members of my family but she couldn’t understand. She kept asking me if I knew it was wrong and that came close to asking me what was wrong with me that I could keep seeing them. It was so hard because while I do know my parents were not good parents, I am still not comfortable with so much anger expressed towards them. I feel like no matter what happens my daughter is angry at me. Eventually I told her I was sorry I told her and that made her furious and she called me a bitch because she was glad she knew and it explained so much of her life but she just needed to understand why I didn’t cut them off. Eventually I had to tell her I didn’t have an explanation that would satisfy her because it was such a black and white thing for her that she couldn’t imagine my position.
I’m afraid that I’ve hurt my daughter more than enlightened her and I don’t know what more I can say.