I’m so honored to share this guest blog post with you! It’s a sequel to, How to Love Yourself, and Not Your Abuser. It comes courtesy of Ashley T. Dry, who is an Author, Blogger, and Victims Advocate.
Ashley contacted me about sharing this article on Family Support. She speaks openly and honestly about her personal experiences, validating all of us who live with families and struggle with the lack of support that is so often present. Thank you again Ashley for giving me the privilege of sharing your work, and I look forward to more collaboration in the future.
Darn. I’m out of anxiety pills again. And at the worst time.
I search through the cabinets for any type of stress-relieving medication. I don’t think I can cry any more than I’ve cried these past few days. The faces of my family flash through my mind, as I hear their words of confusion, denial, anger, and comfort.
Family support is important to any survivor going through the process of sharing their story. It’s important to remember it’s likely not all of your family will agree with your point of view, and it will take time to rebuild relationships. This is not true in all families but in a family like mine – where support for anything is hard to come by – they will even take the side of your abuser. So when it comes to family support, I have to say:
Some Will. Some Won’t. So What.
The hardest person to tell about the abuse was my middle brother, Greg. I watched him as he read my article, How to Love Yourself and Not Your Abuser. It depicted the abuse I experienced at the hands of our older brother Samuel when I was a child. I saw anger and disgust flash over his face, but Greg has always been able to bottle his emotions. He processes them in a way I don’t understand. I start to cry as he reads because the fear of losing him is so great.
Not this one, God. Please let him still love me.
I immediately feel like I should apologize to everyone, including the brother that abused me. Every fiber of my being is still telling me to wrap myself up in that little box with my secrets again. I can hide in the dark if I need to, I’ve done it for twenty years. But I know what that means. That means that I’d be alone again and no one would understand me. Is it so bad to want to connect with the people I love the most? I want them to know me. So I grit my teeth, sob until my eyes are swollen, and talk with Greg about what happened.
“I’m inclined to believe you. I just don’t like conflict,” he says.
I feel a little, upward tug at the corner of my lips. I know this about him already. Saying he doesn’t like conflict puts it mildly. He avoids it all costs, but he’s definitely gotten better over the years. Those words from him gave me a bit of relief. Those words said that he still loved me and wasn’t angry. He just doesn’t like that I write about our family.
I don’t want to hide my ugly from the world anymore.
When I write, I imagine that there are families out there experiencing the same thing. There is someone stuck in the dark, hiding their hurt from their family. But when everyone learns about the abuse, it makes each family member feel like they are alone.
We’re all alone in this. My brother, Greg, is the only male sibling going through this. My sister, Amanda, is the only female sibling going through this. My mother is the only mother going through this. I am the only victim going through this. We’re all alone in this and have to make our pwn way through it.
Today, my older brother admitted to what happened. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I expected him to either ignore the situation or deny it. When my mother tells me this, I feel a lightness for a few minutes. I feel my heart squeeze and my love for him slide through my veins. He’s a good man, I think. I start to hope that this is the first step to us healing. I have hope that we can go to counseling and work through these things together. I still love him more than anyone can understand, despite what happened. He will always be my wonderful, older brother. Is that so wrong?
I can’t understand what’s right, right now. It all feels wrong.
My hopes for healing our relationship are ripped away as I look at my phone and see a message from Samuel’s wife:
I cannot even begin to tell you what I want to tell you. All I will say is that you are no longer a part of our family. Do not contact us if you need something, because we will no longer be there for you.You will not be a part of my kid’s lives. I feel sorry for you, but I mostly feel sorry for your kids.”
I don’t feel sad about losing a relationship with my sister-in-law. We have never gotten along, and I barely stomach her at holidays, but my heart plummets as I think of losing my brother and my nephews. She knows that will hurt me. She wants to hurt me because she’s feeling hurt. They are concerned that my article will be read by people who have influence over their lives. They say my brother could lose his job or lose future job opportunities if they realize it’s him. I feel a twinge of guilt about it because I will always love my brother and want the best for him.
After this, my father sends me an email saying, “We’ll send the kid’s presents by mail.” The kids were supposed to go to their grandpa’s house for Christmas but I guess that’s called off this year too. It’s going to be a lonely Christmas.
Just go back to your box, Ashley.
I square my shoulders and shake off that voice that tells me I’m wrong and should have never said anything. I’m not wrong. My abusers took everything from me. Everything. Whether I love my brother or not, what happened shaped my whole life. I was so young that it shaped my personality and the way I relate to people. My counselor said I have had PTSD since the age of 5.
As a child, I was very cold in dealing with people. I didn’t attach to people easily because I didn’t trust them. I used to have nightmares every night and still do. I slept in my closet because it felt safer. I locked and relocked my door several times. I couldn’t hug people because I didn’t want to be touched. I still hate being touched. I can’t even imagine what that would be like for a child. I felt so alone and like I had no one. Later in life, I bonded myself to the first man I felt could protect me. That ended up to be a domestic violence situation.
Fuck your job.There goes that flare of anger again. It comes out of no where. It’s strange living in this confusion, where I love my brother but I’m so angry at him as well. I imagine it takes time to work through all that, and I’ve just begun my journey.
What I do know is that my abuser took everything from me. I was left without nothing. The only thing I get from that experience, is the right to tell my story in any way I wish. So will I apologize for writing about it?
-Ashley T. Drye
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