Family past coming back to haunt me


Long story for which I need support, please bear with me.

I grew up with a very abusive brother. He use to pick on me in front of all the kids to look cool and make fun of me for reacting. No need to put all the details down but six years ago, I simply had to tell him I no longer could have any contact. I am now 40 and even as an adult he was constantly screaming at me like a street dog for no reason.

Also every summer as a kid we use to visit this one aunt and uncle and their 2 daughters. I was the youngest and got teased a lot. This aunt was always shaming me for being too fat. When I was 13 she was serving everyone desert and told my mom I couldn’t have any. What would the boys think because of my weight. I look at pictures of myself from that summer and I cannot believe how thin and beautiful I was and how on earth she could say that. Needless to say I also resented the message that the boys opinion mattered that much. As a teenager and in my early 20s she was always asking how come there were no men in my life and insinuating I was defective for not having a boyfriend.

Finally, my parents and I came to an agreement 15 years ago. I would not give her a piece of my mind and they would never ask me to be in the same room as her again. Or more accurately, they would respect that I would not be within a 10 mile radius of her again.

That worked very well, until 2 years ago when my 76 year old uncle committed suicide. I was devastated. I put all my childhood resentments aside to go to the funeral. I showed compassion to this aunt. I put aside the fact than when I was eight years old, she came over to my house, did not like the shirt I was wearing so she dragged me by the hand to the bedroom and tried to lift off my shirt ! Please I was 8, how could she. She forced me to wear my cousins white T-shirt that was skin tight and transparent. I was so humiliated. When my aunt caught me trying to whisper to my mom that I did not want to wear this shirt, she yelled at my mom like a street dog that I was to wear it and that was that.

So at the funeral, my brother was there and needless to say I was in no mood to see him. I saw my 2 cousins I hadn’t seen in 20 years and we exchanged email addresses. Well, 2 weeks ago this cousin decides to start emailing me and talk about my brother. I told her I did not want to mention him. She said she would respect my wishes but she implied that since her father died I should reconsider. How can her father dying all of a sudden equate to me having to have to put up with my brother abusing me?????? Also, she is just as bossy and opinionated as her mother. I do not need a reminder of how my aunt use to treat me. Her mom is now very sick and it is hard for me to give out compassion for a woman who was so cruel to me. I have no desire to seek out revenge or do anything sinful but I am quite confident God would agree with my choice to walk away.

When life is good let’s treat CM like garbage and now that life is bad CM has to pick up the mess!!!!!!

Ever since this cousin has been emailing me I have been more depressed. I have been angry and unable to concentrate or sleep regular hours or eat healthy. It is just bringing back all the bad memories of never having my feelings taken seriously.

Her mother is laying on her death bed and she needs to talk about it. How can I be there for someone who has no compassion for how brother abused me? How can I listen to everything her poor mother is going through when I can’t mention everything her mother put me through?????? I can keep being the bigger person. I have no idea how to tell her I no longer wish to email her. We live 400 miles apart so email is the only communication.

Support for everything I have been through would be appreciated



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Ever since this cousin has been emailing me I have been more depressed. I have been angry and unable to concentrate or sleep regular hours or eat healthy. It is just bringing back all the bad memories of never having my feelings taken seriously.

Her mother is laying on her death bed and she needs to talk about it. How can I be there for someone who has no compassion for how brother abused me? How can I listen to everything her poor mother is going through when I can’t mention everything her mother put me through?????? I can keep being the bigger person. I have no idea how to tell her I no longer wish to email her. We live 400 miles apart so email is the only communication.

Support for everything I have been through would be appreciated



I'm sorry for what you're going through. I can relate because my own father was emotionally abusive when I was growing up, and even though it was a long time ago thinking about it still makes me nauseous and I don't really talk to him.

In my opinion I think you should stop e-mailing her. The effect it's having on you seems so severe if you can't sleep well or eat well as a result. You don't need this in your life.

Here is what I would do if I were you, I would tell her why you don't want to talk to her. Tell her in relatively few words that you were severely mistreated by your brother and her mother, that her not acknowledging this or taking you seriously is too painful and is having a negative effect on your health. Conclude by saying that you're sorry but you will no longer be reading her emails.

And that's that, don't read her responses after that, don't get pulled into it. Talking to her is just not worth the negative effect it's having on you.

Alternatively, you might consider confronting the family what was done to you. I ended up confronting both my father and my mother about my father's emotional abuse. My mother initially didn't want to acknowledge it and wanted to pretend that all men were like that. That was very hurtful to me and so I can understand how you feel when you say that it hurts you not to have been taken seriously.

I found that it made me feel good to confront my father about the abuse and my mother about initially denying it (as a result she later admitted it and regretted not standing up to him). Maybe publicly confronting everyone will make you feel better, since your reactions make it clear that you're not over it yet.


Thank you so much for your support Flying fish. Do you mind if I ask a few question to better understand where you are coming from. Are you a man or woman and what age range are you? I am 40 year old woman never married.

I have confronted my brother, father and mother and they just see me as a pain for always bringing up the past and have made it crytal clear I am the one who is wrong for not getting over it.

I do have a good relationthip with my mom and I don’t want to rock the boat. I am scared that if I do put things in an email to this cousin my parents might some day find out about it and that will cause a big mess. One thing I have learnt is confronting abusers invites more abuse.

I think you have giving me what I really needed the most. Support, Please bring on more support ! I need an immeasurable amount of it :slight_smile:



45, single, male responding:

Having had to deal with familial alcoholism when I was growing up, I have learned that NOT confronting abusers is what invites more abuse; there may be a spike during the initial confrontation, but if you stand your ground eventually the abuser will lay off (at least in my family situation it did). If that means yelling back when you are yelled at, so be it. It’s verbal self-defense.

One question: do you still live at home, or are you on your own? Also, has any of the abuse become physical? If so, press charges.


I’m a single woman in my 20’s.

I do have a good relationthip with my mom and I don’t want to rock the boat. I am scared that if I do put things in an email to this cousin my parents might some day find out about it and that will cause a big mess. One thing I have learnt is confronting abusers invites more abuse.

Why do you think that saying those things in an e-mail to your cousin might cause a big mess should your parents find out? What kinds of things might they say to you as a result? Do you think it would hurt your relationship with your mother?

I’m not sure what you should do, I personally think that being confrontational and not backing down helped me to move on, and it even changed my father (he made an effort to be a nice guy, but emotional abusiveness is so much a part of his personality that he kept slipping, and every little slip would bring it all back) so that’s why I suggested it might be helpful to tell her. I would only tell your cousin why you will not be talking to her if you think it will help you have closure.

If you think it will only cause damage, I would just flag her e-mail address as spam and stop responding, and tell her the reason only if she takes it to the next level and starts calling you and the like. It would be “rude” to simply stop talking to her, but I wouldn’t worry about being rude given your situation. You need to take care of your well being. I also think it’s very important to actually flag her e-mail as spam as opposed to stop responding, because every time you’d see an unread e-mail of hers in your in-box it would bring back unpleasant memories.

One thing I absolutely would not do is keep talking to her.

In my personal experience, when I was about 17 I simply stopped talking to my father. And it helped me tremendously to feel better and to feel more sane. From time to time I would try to have a relationship with him again, and he would try, but invariably would say nasty things again and bring it back. The single best thing for me was cutting contact with him.


If you do break off email contact, I wouldn't bring up all the past. Your cousin does have a personal burden which it would be unkind to add to that burden. Loss of a mother is major.

Give a simple straightforward reason if you intend to give a reason. Say more and bring up the past twould be inflammatory, and possibly cause further problems around the family, including with your brother who could become her ally against you if you offend her.

It's unfortunate that you shared your email address with your cousin, an impulse that history indicated could lead to problems.

It's not helpful to become ill and you probably feel you need to deal with this quickly, rather than to just leave longer spaces between your responses, or otherwise you would have the strength to remain in some contact until a few weeks after her mother's death.

I hope you can find healing from the injuries of the past. We live in the present moment but live it less wholesomely if shadowed by past scars and wounds.



i'm 47, married, have kids and have experienced heaps of unpleasantness in my life, including my own alcoholism.

you feel depressed because you allowed your good healthy boundaries to be breached. you hoped things had changed. they haven't. now **you **need to change-- return to what worked for you.

my suggestion:

block her emails. don't mention it or explain it or anything. every week or two, send a card that says you're praying for cousin and her mother. then, really pray for them.

that's it.

the contact is on your terms, offers room for no recriminations. if cousin calls demanding an answer, you need not speak or reply. at MOST say, "this is all I can do for you now." repeat. repeat. then politely hang up.

skip the funeral if your aunt dies. have Masses said for her instead.

if your non-behavior-- your failure to engage in battle-- enflames family ire, stay the heck out of it with EVERY member. don't engage.

stay away. don't engage. pray. repeat.


40-something divorced woman here…

Seems abusiveness is a family heirloom that gets passed down. You need to understand a few things about your cousin. She grew up with an abusive mother. She probably is so used to that treatment and being around it that she is immune to it. She doesn’t recognize it for what it is. Maybe the uncle was a target of it for so long it played into his suicide. Yes, your aunt may be that vile. In which case, she needs your prayers. Which WILL help YOU.

At the hour of her death, SHE WILL answer for all her unkindness. YOU can have some power in the situation by being better than she ever will be and praying for God to convert her heart before it’s too late.

But you don’t need to be in contact with your cousin. It opens up too many wounds. Your family will never acknowlege it. Your cousin doesn’t understand why your brother upset you because she grew up with that and to her it isn’t wrong… it’s her “normal.”

Some people don’t change unless very bad things happen to them and force them to reevaluate their lives. Your family isn’t there yet.

Confrontation does not work with most of those people. They use YOUR grief and sadness as another chance to batter you verbally. You are confronted again with their lack of sorrow for the wounds they caused.

What you can do is find ways to heal your own wounds. Bind up your own wounds and find new people in your life who can uplift you and remind you of the good. Because the good thing that came from that situation is you are probably a very sensitive person who wouldn’t dream of treating others like that. And so you are probably viewed by coworkers and acquaintances as a very nice person. You learned the hard way to be that way.

So in your head thank your family for teaching you how NOT to be.

Then sit down and write them all a letter. Spill out all the things you have held inside. Their hurtful words, the denigration, the pain, the humiliations. Then go outside and burn that letter and bury the ashes.

God read that letter. You said it. And doing that and watching it burn will have more effect than trying to communicate with the stone hearts they have.

God can fix that. Pray for them. As badly as they treated you, you may be the one whose prayers get them into heaven someday.

And in doing that YOU will get to heaven.

But don’t expect apologies any time soon. That is where you are hurting yourself. They are incapable. And that is tragic for them.

But you don’t need to keep talking to people who cannot treat you with dignity. And opening up old wounds is not healthy.

Good luck.


Hi Everyone,

First I want to say a big thank you for your support. When I am the only one who seems to want to bring the truth to light it is very hard. My whole family thinks I am wacked and I needed to know others understand.

To answer a few questions, I no longer live at home. I no longer live in the same town as any of my family. My brother has not hit me in over 20 years because he knows the slightest little slap and I WILL call the police.

I did talk to my mom about it and she said that she wished I wouldn’t do it but cannot control me. I have a feeling it is her own paranoid issue. My father would probably threaten to kick me out of the family. My parents are scared that if I get the reputation of causing family feuds the others in the family will take it out on them. Hurts when I think about it. If I had a daughter and family members did to her what my family did to me, I would jump for joy if they no longer wanted to be around me. (did I say that right?)

As for my aunt, I can definitely pray for her and I think that is a good idea. However, I doubt it will do any good. The last I heard it appears she is loosing her faculties. I don’t think there is much she can do. I leave it to God to judge her as He sees fit. When she does die, I think I probably will skip the funeral. I think the only reason I went to my uncle’s funeral was because it was a suicide. The mental anguish he suffered to go that far ....... I guess I do have a heart because I was able to put things aside for him

I think the main reason my cousin doesn’t see anything wrong with what my brother did, does not stem from the fact that she grew up with it half as much as my brother is a professional manipulator. He knows how to act in public so everyone will like him but behind closed doors.... boy can he be two faced and cruel to me

Agreed I am a sensitive person who wouldn’t dream of treating others like that but I doubt others see me as a kind person. They probably did in the past but the years of always being mistreated have caught up with me and made me hard. I am known as the person who when she has something to say, she does not hold back. I am working on using a softer delivery.

I have a habit choosing the wrong people to be friends with as a adult and consequently ended up being a lot of people’s punching bag. I admit I was repeating the behaviours learnt as a child

I think another thing that is hard, is bottom line, my uncle committed suicide and I am still hurt over it. I am not hurt about loosing my uncle. I have lost lots of them by now. I am just heart broken that someone I knew as a kid actually suffered mentally that bad. And I can look back and see some good in him. I am petrified he will not go to heaven. God alone is the judge. I trust that if my uncle was not of sound mind, God will be forgiving. However, I also know that my uncle spent his WHOLE life committing the sin of pride. And that is what makes me think he will go to hell because I don’t think he ever repented from that.

I remember when my uncle committed suicide. I did not get one sympathy card. The next week back at work, a girl asked me if I would like to sign 4 birthday cards for people in the department. I was livid but used my better judgement and went to her boss and politely asked him that in view of the fact my uncle committed suicide and I did not get a card from the department, would it be possible to tell her not to ask me to sign birthday cards. His exact words. ‘Think of Sara, she will feel bad if I tell her that’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, I play cards every Friday at a bridge club. I called my partner to tell her I would not be able to make it that Friday because I was going to my uncle’s funeral. She never gave me a card but when I got home from out of town, she left a message on my voice mail ‘Just though I would let you know, Noreen lost her son and maybe you would like to send her a card’ I don’t believe it!!!!!

Ok, I am carrying on now. Thanks for all your support



There is no wish to downplay the injustice and hurt you have suffered. And you're not "whacked". You feel betrayed, by most of the people who should love you most.

How you were treated was horrible, and I wonder at what was so disordered and damaged in your aunt, and in your brother, that caused so much strange and bad behaviour. I ask God to give healing to your family tree. There could be some inherited psychological problem, or some other unwelcome cause. I just pray that in you own way, because of your natural resentment, you don't allow yourself now to succumb if the cause is some evil influence that needs St Michael's help. More likely its a psychological issue that came through in your brother and aunt...and don't be too sure your uncle just couldn't stand any more the kind of relationship he had endured, being at the centre of things. God may well understand his suicide. You don't have to be too caught up in what exhausted him and I pray you won't, and that you can find a way to heal.

We do understand that bringing everything into the open from the past to your relatives won't be healing but will bring things down on you to make your stress and unhappiness even worse.
There is an Italian saying, "the wheels of revenge roll upon him who puts them in motion." And it is a disguised form of revenge, because you are so angry and you want your cousin to know how hurt and angry you are. Wanting justice at whatever expense, because it would be at great expense to all.

She's unlikely to sympathise as her mother lies dying, she will feel aggrieved and angry and will draw others into her anger and resentment, bringing more ruin and discord into your family. It will be poor satisfaction.

I actually do understand better than you'd think, as others do. We just don't want you, or your family, to suffer more damage. I might leave it longer between answering the emails, as if a tailing off period. But I do understand the stress and am troubled about your stress levels and the sleep problems. I suspect you may feel like a pressure cooker, but if the lid flies off, the food is all over the ceiling. I've seen that happen. I hope you can manage to let the steam out slowly enough that you can make a graceful exit and get on with your life without dramas that make things even worse for you than you feel now. I realize you feel oppressed, and probably not much understood. I hope you get through this okay. You're doing the charitable thing in giving some support to your cousin, and please God this can have some spiritual blessing for your family, and their salvation.

Take care,

Trishie :coffee::coffee:


God bless you, I actually cannot even read the whole story because I don’t have energy today to deal with my own memories this dredges up.

All I can share is what I have learned in 60 years of dealing with these people, being on the receiving end, dealing with their damage from their own abusive childhoods, which they take out on me and others, and so forth.

The fact that this is still so close to the surface and has such power to hurt you shows you have neither buried nor dealt with the events and issues, and I honestly don’t think we can do that on our own with out a double barrelled approach–professional counselling for the psycholigical scars, and spiritual counselling for healing our own souls. Seek it. Doing so shows you are strong, not weak.

this step is the hardest: pray for those who hurt you worst every day. You don’t have to tell God what to do for (or to) those people just say, God I turn my brother Rodney and my aunt Bertha over to you.

The miracle hour of prayer by Linda (Schulman?) is a little red pamphlet that helped me more than anything else learn how to pray for people and for myself. It includes a prayer to ask God to help you forgive–not to pardon, not to condone, not to justify–those who have hurt you, but forgive as into release yourself from their power to hurt you.

If contact by email, in person, phone, letter or any other way with family members is hurting, not helping you, break it off gently. “Cousin, I won’t be able to send or receive emails for a while, God bless. goodbye.” and keep it good bye put them on your do not receive list


God bless you Puzzleannie for your profound and moving post.

Father help us to recover where injury goes beyond ordinary forgiveness and our hearts are in some way crushed, and our lives changed and devalued. Help us to find a way to forgive when we cannot smile or encounter the offending person with warmth because they have destroyed something in us.

Father please help us to forgive when we cannot forgive...and we cannot forgive because they do not understand how badly they have hurt us, and do not seek in any real way to acknowledge or try to heal the hurt they imposed on us. And even when we tried to tell them from the bottom of our heart but they would not listen, please help us to forgive.

Father help us to forgive when those who hurt our lives do not even know or remember how badly they have wounded us, and go on with their lives without concern, while we remain still held in some kind of time capsule with the consequences of their unfeeling and uncaring and attack.

Father, help us to forgive when those who wounded us by ignoring our needs and requests, yet who desire us to ignore their offence, and expect us to respond to their hints or manipulations while they make no concessions or apologies.

Help us to forgive those who impose their own conditions and rules upon us, without respecting that our hurt is real and radical, while they make us feel that they only desire our capitulation without justice, apology, or generosity from them.

Father please free us, free me, in forgiveness that comes from Your Son, innocent, and murdered, but forgiving.


Thank you so much for your wnderfull posts. This is the type of support I need. I do pray to God for them (not daily more like 3- 4 times a year). I suppose I could do more than that.

I think over the years I have learnt to speek before I think so if it is only via email, I can edit what I say

Love CM


Hi CM , my advise is to say that this is your final e-mail to her and that you wish her the best in everything in life. Just say, 'I leave you in God’s hands".

Don’t be afraid to say what you want to say because you hold all the cards in your hands regarding your parents. Even if they get upset for what you have said in the e-mail your prarents will not let go of you because they are now at the age where they need your company.
You are an adult now and you are free to say whatever makes you feel better.

I have a forty year old son and I always try to stay on his good side because I want him to visit me whenever he can. He accepts me the way I am.

Your parents already know you and they accept you just the way you are. They can’t change your past lousy experiences with some of your relatives. The past is over.

You need to focus on the present and on your future.

I chose to let go of a lot of relatives a long time ago. I have no regrets because those relatives were mean to me and they don’t plan to change.

You asked about our ages… I am an old lady who decided to let go of relatives and friends that chose to be mean to me. I LET GO OF THEM. I don’t have any reqrets.

You are an adult now and you also have the right to let go of relatives and friends who are not nice to you. Take your power and let go because you will always meet new friends as you move on in life.
Only keep the important people in your life like your Mother and who ever else is important in your life.

I think e-mails are great for saying GOOD-BY because you have the power to say whatever you like as you let go.
When they send you an e-mail just click on SPAM. That is what I do without reading the e-mail. The trick is to not be tempted to read the e-mail because that will be your last memory that will truly hurt your feelings. Just let go. PEACE, LaLucia


just cut the communication quickly, with an explaination. make it simple, short, and then have nothing more to do with this cousin.

don’t let some embarassing or difficult things you’ve been through define and then cripple you. take the steps you need to take to move on, and put the past behind you.

if you cousin feels the need to rehash the past and dig up old bodies, so to speak, they need to talk with a therapist. let this cousin know that you don’t feel the need to talk, are not equipped to help with their emotional difficulties, and will not be writing back, but you wish them well, and will be praying for them.


I'm sorry you're going thru this. I would ask her not to email you anymore because it brings back some bad feelings from the past, and leave it at that. Take care and God Bless


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