Healing my relationship with men – Part One

Looking back, my interactions with men have all been shaped by two founding relationships; firstly, being sexually abused for many years of my childhood (age 4-12) and secondly, not being connected to my father.

I lived with my Mother, Father and younger Brother in a small, rural community, until I went to boarding school at age 13. Everything was good in my life until my Dad took over the family farm and we moved into the big house, I was 4. Not long after, my Dads sister moved into the cottage (where we used to live), bringing her 3 kids. It was not long after this the abuse began. My abuser was my 12-year-old cousin. He didn’t know his father and my Dad became quite close to him, acting as type of father figure to him.

I used to regularly play with him, as I did all my other male cousins that lived in the neighborhood but this play wasn’t normal, and sadly I didn’t realise it was wrong and affecting me in very negative ways. To me (a 4-year-old child) I wasn’t to know it wasn’t normal. It was only at 15 years old, 3 years after the abuse ended (me age 12, him age 20) that I finally told my Mother of what had happened. She was of course devastated and immediately sought advise and help for me. I was put into weekly therapy which was the beginning of this long healing journey. I’m now 34 and the journey still continues. The hardest parts are thankfully over and I just have a few bits left to do – namely healing my relationships with men.

The second founding relationship was with my Dad. Anyone who knows him would agree, he’s not exactly the cuddly type, he’s just a bit awkward when it comes to touch and that’s ok, I accept that. Looking back, I guess we just didn’t relate to many things when I was a young girl. I also think my behavioral issues caused from being abused, bullied at school and living in an unharmonious family house, where my parents were always fighting meant I “played-up”. I put that in quotations marks as I personally do not feel kids “play-up” as such. I feel any so called negative behavior has a cause and it’s the parents challenge and responsibility to try to interpret this and respond appropriately as best as they can. However back in the 80′s in rural NZ, child psychology wasn’t exactly a hot topic. In my family hard-core religion and old school beliefs ruled the house, and kids who were “playing-up” just wanted attention and were told off for it.

The short of this is Dad didn’t know how to relate to me, I think he felt I was just an unappreciative little brat, and too much like hard work, therefore sadly our relationship never really blossomed. I looked to my father as a provider, a humble business man, a man who could fix anything, and get us across any river, even if that meant floating down it on the back of a 4-wheel motor bike! So my Dad was and still is in my eyes very successful at what he does, he just didn’t get the part of how to show a hurting, frightened, traumatised little girl the love and protection she needed.

Looking at these two relationships it’s no wonder my relationships with men have been problematic.

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