Anonymous: My graduation is coming up, and I am planning a huge dinner to celebrate. I have invited my aunt to the celebration, but she wants her husband to attend. The thing is, I don’t want him there! He molested me, and no one in my family ever believed me that the sexual abuse occurred. What can I do?
First, I want to say how sorry I am that you experienced that sort of trauma and for the fact that none of your loved ones believed you. I am just beyond words because you experienced a very traumatic, life-altering event that rocked your foundation and instead of being able to turn to the adults that could have protected you, and should have, you were shut down and told that your truth was invalid. So, I am telling you right now; I stand with you and I believe in your truth!
I know first-hand how it feels to be molested by a family member but also how it feels to not be believed and to have the entire incident turned around on you. And I commend you for being a young child and for owning your truth and for being brave enough to speak it. Most adults cannot even do that, but you did, and I am truly proud of you for that.
Now, when it comes to your current situation, it is your dinner, honoring you and your accomplishment. It is your day, period, point-blank. If you do not want a particular person at your dinner, then do not invite them. And if someone has a problem with your decision then uninvite them. This is your day celebrating you and your life, and no one will have the power to make it about them or take this day and this memory away from you.
If someone is put out about you not inviting a particular person, that is their problem. Just know and believe that a few people not attending will not ruin your dinner or your day. And if any of your extended family members have a problem with you not inviting that man, who cares. Just tell them the decision is yours and that if they have a problem with it then they do not have to attend.
Now, going off of instincts, your family isn’t very big on setting boundaries, are they? Well, then you probably already know that your decision will be challenged, by other family members, but you have to stay strong, stick to your convictions and own your truth. And honestly, it is about time for all the skeletons to come out of the closet. You should not have to be surrounded by the man who molested you as well as the adults and family members that did not believe you.
And having not said this earlier, I am very disappointed in the adults in your family. Instead of trusting the innocent voice of a young girl, they chose to defend and back the accused grown man. Once again, I am so sorry you had to experience this and are still dealing with the repercussions of someone else’s actions. And, I think you already know what to do in regard to this situation. You cannot let this man steal your joy or your sense of security, and he definitely would if he attended your dinner. If he were to come to your dinner, you would feel so uncomfortable and it would make a day that is for you and that is honoring you and your life about him and what he did to you.
Shifting gears, I have a couple of questions for you. Have you honestly truly healed from the molestation? Have you taken the steps to healing? I broach these questions because you are in a very precarious situation, surrounded by people who claim to love you but who actually do not respect you, your truths or your wants and needs. How do you wake up every day and face the people that could have protected you but chose not to? How do you wake up every day and know that the people whom you are closest to, fraternize, willingly, with the man that molested you?
I personally know from experience that we sometimes like to believe that we have healed and moved on, but when we experience something so traumatic, in order to protect ourselves, we stuff our true emotions down deep into our subconsciousness and try and continue on as if we are not angry, hurt, sad and confused as to the how’s and the why’s this event happened. So once again, do you truly believe you have healed of everything? And if not, do you believe you can heal and move on if you have to associate and fraternize with your molester and the people who chose to look the other way and ignore your pleas for help?
I know you reached out for help with a matter pertaining to your graduation celebration, but I feel as if there is more at work here. I feel that there is a lot of anger buried deep within that is not being expressed or acknowledged. And I want you to know that your anger is valid and that it is okay to let your frustrations out. If you have to scream into a pillow, break something or create a journal of your feelings and burn it. You have to do something to open yourself up and release your emotions.
You have to start your journey to healing so that you can set yourself free. You have to release the power this man, your family, and this experience has over you. You have to release the past and the fact that the adults in your life did not protect you. You have to acknowledge all that you are feeling, the pain, the suffering, the hatred, the sadness, everything, and heal and move on. And the path to healing is not an easy one, but it is one you must embark upon to free yourself from your past, your pain and your anxiety.
And yes, I said anxiety because having to be around the person that molested you has to trigger anxiety, which is a normal reaction for anyone. And if you are not currently going to counseling or haven’t already thought about it, I think you should look into it. It will help you process your experiences and help you see how you are still letting the past affect you today, in the present, but also help you tap into your subconsciousness and all that you have tamped down in order to survive your traumatic experience.
And I hope reaching out and speaking with me has offered you clarity and more insight into how you are feeling. And deep down, I know you have an idea of which direction you wish to go in regard to having that man at your dinner. I hope you make the choice that is best for you and your mental health and do not let anyone guilt you into doing what will make you unhappy. Wishing you peace, love, and happiness from all of us here at DearSpence.