Anger consumes abused daughter
Dear Annie: My father was a vile, cruel man who for 12 years molested, threatened, humiliated and beat my sisters and me.
We never told my mother about the sexual abuse. I once brought up the subject indirectly, and she said she’d first kill our father and then come after us. I left home when I was young and lived on the streets, where I was raped and beaten and got into some very bad relationships.
My father died four years ago, and since then, my mother has turned him into a saint. I love my mom with everything that is in me, but I am so mad at her. She could have saved us, but her eyes were always closed. I have kept my father’s secret for so long that even now he is still controlling me. My mom’s health is failing and I believe telling her would kill her. But when she claims my father was so wonderful, it tears me up inside.
I want desperately to look in the mirror without seeing my father’s shadow behind me. I am angry all the time. I want to tell my husband I love him without being afraid he will hurt me. I have already had one failed marriage. I am scared I’ll destroy my current marriage because I won’t let anyone get close to me. I want to talk to my mom without being so angry. Forget counseling. It doesn’t work. Running from Shadows in Virginia
Dear Virginia: The truth is, your anger toward your mother is bubbling over, but you are forcing yourself to hold it in. The strain must be unbearable. Although the therapist you saw in the past obviously didn’t help enough, the process can still be worthwhile and we hope you will reconsider therapy. What do you have to lose? Contact Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ascasupport.org), P.O. Box 14477, San Francisco, CA 94114, or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (rainn.org) at (800) 656-HOPE ( 656-4673).
Dear Annie: I am a teacher in a school where we are lucky enough to receive lovely gifts for Christmas and at the end of the year. These are usually plants, lotions, $10 gift cards, etc., often accompanied by darling notes from the students.
At Christmas, I diligently write out thank-you notes to my students, but I don’t know what to do at the end of the year. Some teachers say all gifts should be acknowledged in writing, but others feel that these gifts are essentially “thank-you presents” and do not require a note. What do you say? Grateful but Confused Teacher
Dear Grateful: Please acknowledge all such gifts in writing. They do not fall into the category of tips for services rendered. Plus, a written note from the teacher sends an excellent message about manners and the importance of a personal touch. It will surely mean a great deal to your students.
Dear Annie: I could be the daughter of “Not Really Married,” who doesn’t want his kids to plan a 50th anniversary party.
My parents have been married for 54 years, very few of them happy. My mother got tired of my father’s antics, of which there are many, and stopped having sex with him. It didn’t make the marriage better for her, just less stressful. For Dad, it went from a great marriage (for him) to an empty shell. They stay together for financial reasons. We children have been more perceptive about the situation and asked about a 50th anniversary party. The answer was a resounding “no” from both of them.
My father once said, “Your mother isn’t the same woman I married.” I replied, “And you’re not the same man. Deal with it.” Upstate N.Y.
Dear Upstate: When neither parent wants to celebrate an anniversary, it makes sense not to do it. Your parents’ situation sounds sad. Our condolences.
Dear Readers: Today is Mother-in-Law Day. Please give yours a call.
• E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Annie’s Mailbox‚Ñ¢, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.