Dear Dr. Archer,
I grew up in a household with a father who was verbally and physically abusive. It did not stop me from doing well in school and I never missed a day of school. Depression was a normal part of my life ever since I realized that what my father was doing was destructive.
This hit hard when I went to college. The counselor on campus wrote a prescription for meds and sent me on my way. My grades slipped and I went from a high school honor student to the bottom 25 percent in college.
After completing college, I moved home with my parents and was told by my mom that she was also abused by my father for most of their marriage. She said she remained with him so we wouldn't have a broken home until my younger sister and I graduated college. She left him shortly after that.
That was it. I could no longer be in the house with him, so my next goal was to get a job and move out of the house. He always said he couldn't accomplish his goals because he had a family to raise, so this would be his dream come true. Well, that wasn't the case.
He is now living alone and still sending my mother harassing emails almost every day. A little about his past: he lost his mother at 9 years old and I believe he has a paranoid personality. He always thinks that people are lying to him or trying to take advantage of him. He twists words from the Bible to back up whatever he says or does.
He says that his family is cursed by the devil and my mother is the root cause. Needless to say, he has pushed his entire family away. I recently got married and purchased a second home. I should be in heaven right now and enjoying life. However, I don't feel any emotion but anger.
I coped with these feeling with the use of drugs and alcohol in college, but I've cut all of that out since my first job after college in 2004. I've become pretty good at faking smiles and acting like I'm interested in people's conversations, but it's very exhausting for me.
Every day seems like a struggle, and it's not fair to my wife and 8 year old son. It is also affecting my performance at work. This has gone on for too long and I don't want to live like this any longer.
I agree one hundred percent! It is time to put the past to bed, and your first step should be counseling. Joshua, the years you spend listening to the rhetoric of your angry father affected you; it still is. Sometimes we need a little help to search within ourselves to find answers, or even to realize that there are no answers to be found.
Acceptance of yourself, as well as your past, is important. Look for a therapist who specializes in childhood emotional and physical abuse, and start seeing him on a regular basis. I think that after a few sessions you will feel much, much better. You must drag this up, discuss it in depth and then leave it behind.
Also, check out Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, an online support group. Seeking help is in no way, shape or form a sign of weakness, but rather a proactive approach to making your life the best it can be.
Believe it or not, Joshua, you are in control here. Do whatever it is you need to do, but come to terms with your childhood so you can provide for the family you have today. Your son depends on you -- isn't he worth it? Good luck.