On my blog entry entitled Blinders from Not Living in the Present, a reader posted the following comment:
Also, you don’t account for those of us, who unfortunately, still have contact with the people that hurt us. I know that your solution is to cut all contact, but your situation is different. Your sister had a lot of the same experiences, so she is with you. In my case, I was THE target. If I cut all contact, I lose everyone. ~ Theresa
I cannot emphasize strongly enough the need to cut off all contact with your abusers when you enter into therapy to heal from child abuse. This is not just my opinion – My therapist was emphatic about this as well. At my very first session, I told my therapist that I was leaving the next day to see my mother/abuser for an early Christmas get-together with my side of the family. His response was that I needed to cease all personal contact with her for at least the first few months of therapy.
My first reaction was, “No way!” It’s not that I wanted my mother/abuser in my life; the problem was that I did not believe that I had the option of cutting her out of my life. Just the thought of telling her to get out of my life about caused me to have a panic attack right there in his office. He probed my reasons, but I would not budge. He then said, “If you are not willing to end personal contact with your mother, at least for a few months, then there is little I am going to be able to do help you through therapy. Until you feel safe, therapy is not going to do you much good, and maintaining a personal relationship (visits, phone calls, etc.) is going to prevent this from happening.”
I had been so hopeful about starting therapy, and I realized I had a choice to make. I didn’t think I could do it, but I knew he was right. I was not willing to continue staying emotionally sick just because telling her to back off would hurt her feelings. So, I made the terrifying decision to tell her that I was cutting all personal communication for a few months while I entered into therapy to deal with some childhood issues. We could communicate through emails or letters, but no phone calls or visits until further notice. Period.
What started out as a short-term break in contact has grown into almost seven years of separation. I don’t believe that I would have been able to heal to the degree that I have if I had kept my mother/abuser in my life. To be honest, other than my sister, I really don’t have much to do with any blood relatives. Even my sister lives far away (nine hours by car), and we only get together once or twice a year for a visit.
Instead, I have built my own “family,” developing deep friendships with women who are as close to me as sisters. I have met my needs in other ways – I did not need to involved my severely dysfunctional family to meet my needs.
Photo credit: Hekatekris