Invalidation – Part 2

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I’ll give some context by providing the link for the first part: https://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org/stories/invalidation/
This is my update. I’m going to explain more about the invalidation. It’s still affecting me to this day.
My parents were the ones who invalidated me. I was scared to disclose that the first time I told my story here.
Here’s the back story. I reconnected with one of my guy friends, and we had a great friendship. My parents didn’t like that I was talking to this guy. I was telling him the story of what happened. He was so supportive and sweet about it. My parents found out that I told him, and they were extremely angry.
Here are some of the things they said/did:
*This may be triggering, especially for people who have experienced invalidation.*
– You should be over this by now.
– You wouldn’t be a suitable role model for anyone.
I’m the oldest of all my cousins, so this one hurt.
– How can you major in cognitive science if your own cognition is wrong?
– shaking me by the shoulders and asking “How could you be so stupid?”
– He was just a kid.
My assaulter was 18, and I was 15. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. He was an adult. He knew what he was doing.
– People go through so much worse.
– You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.
– They stood over my shoulder, made me text my guy friend, and forced me to take everything back.
They made me minimize what happened, even though it’s still affecting me.
– They said, “Before you tell anyone about this, you have to ask us first.”
It’s irritating because this is my story and I want to tell people on my own terms.
– They told me to pretend that nothing happened with the people I already told.
– This was your fault.
– You’re a zero.
– Did anything you learned in Sunday School help you?
– We’re still going to the place where I see my assaulter every week (my church).
– I told my mom I was feeling uncomfortable with going to that church (because of the assault and other reasons). She said, “At least you’ll be able to get out when you’re married.” If I get married at 25 years old, I’ll have been in that church for ten years after the assault. It’s already been three years.
– You’re only telling this guy because you want sympathy and attention.
– You have no character.
– Should we even trust what you say anymore?
– Is anything getting through to you?
Hearing these things from my parents hurt. I was so numb from shock, then the pain, anger, sadness, and confusion hit me. In the months after they said these words, they said some contradicting statements. For example, they told me I should be over this. A few months after that, they said they were still angry at him. It’s strange because they told me (the person this actually happened to) to be over it…and they’re not. There are more examples of this, but this is the most prominent one. It felt almost like they were being hypocritical. I know they said the invalidating words out of anger, but that doesn’t make them okay.
Last month, I thought about what they said. I realized that they have been invalidating me for a long time.
Here are examples of that:
– Sometimes when I get angry, I start crying. My mom asked, “Why do you guys [my sister and I] cry over everything?”
– not letting us LOOK anything but happy – they get mad at us for that
– insulting us under their breath when something small happens
– Get over it.
– saying we’re overly sensitive/too dramatic
– comparing us to other people (in a subtle way)
– telling us how to feel
– My dad always told us not to talk back. Sometimes I admit that we were not being nice, but he also said this when we disagreed with him.
It’s like we weren’t allowed to have contrasting opinions.
– I heard many of the examples from this website: http://www.eqi.org/invalid.htm#Examples of invalidating expressions.
There are probably more examples that I can’t think of.
Their invalidation has affected me in so many ways. When people even raise their voices (and it’s not directed at me), I get nervous and very uncomfortable. I’m scared to trust people with my emotions because I fear invalidation. I feel weird when I verbally disagree with people. I suppressed my emotions for years. I thought I was a burden to others. I questioned my feelings. Seeing my assaulter has been exhausting.
I stopped texting that guy friend after a while. I knew that if we kept talking, I would be met with more invalidation. It’s terrible because I miss him so much, and I didn’t even get to explain what happened (the invalidation). He was a great friend, and he was the person who made me realize that bottling my emotions was unhealthy. He taught me a lot, and I will forever be grateful for that.
I’m sorry if this is too long winded and ridiculous. I’ve been struggling with this for months, and I feel emotionally exhausted right now. I really don’t want to hold this grudge against my parents, but it’s been hard to deal with all of this.


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10 comments

  1. Ashley Day Captain

    music2799,
    Thank you for having the courage to come back and share more details. Being forcibly kissed and groped is 100% wrong. Since your perpetrator goes to the same church, it’s understandable that it feels challenging to heal. When it comes to healing, there’s not a specific timeframe that needs to be followed; take as much or as little time as you need.
    Telling your parents you felt invalidated is admirable; I’m thinking it was tough to admit how defeated they made you feel. None of this is your fault. You seem like a unique person with a lot to offer; please continue to stick around.
    For some of the statements, you pointed out the flaws in your parents’ words, which is powerful.
    I get the sense that it took strength to sit down and think about other times your parents have invalidated you. Not only did you reflect on some of the things they have said, but you also reflected on how their words have affected you; that’s a huge deal.
    Your parents have no right to disrespect you. They have no right to tell you who you can and cannot talk to and they have no right to tell you who you can and cannot share your story with.

    Take care of yourself.

  2. music2799 Day Captain

    I’ll respond to some of your questions.
    I do live with my parents, which is why I still go to that church. I’m not sure if my parents would be open to the idea of us leaving. They view me being there as a testament to my strength and survival. I also teach a Sunday School class, so it is more difficult for me to leave. I guess for now, I’ll take breaks when I can. When I can’t, I’ll stay far away from him and practice more self care than usual.
    There is a support group I was thinking of joining. It’s actually offered by my college, and I think it’s once a week.
    I could try counseling. I’m not sure about it yet, but I’ll think about it.
    These have been a rough few days, and your comments are really helping me. Thinking about the possible reasons why my parents said these things is giving me a new perspective. Thank you all so much.

  3. rileyeren228

    I believe you on all of this invalidation–I’ve seen it happen before. You’re right that they are acting out of anger, and perhaps denial, fear, or even a feeling of letting you down or that this was their fault. However, you’re even more right to state that these things they are saying and doing to you are not ok. You are allowed to have emotions! You are allowed to express those in a healthy manner, like crying. Everything you’re experiencing truly is valid, and it’s amazing you’ve done some research on validity itself. I hope you can try and find your roots in your own feelings among all of these conflicting statements from your parents; I know that being up front and honest when they say hurtful things can be difficult, but it can also help a whole lot–just a simple statement of “what you’re saying/doing hurts my feelings and I wish you would stop” can do it. I hope you find strength in this fog of anger, frustration, and lack of support. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Kristen Eby

    Hey music2799,

    First and foremost: your feelings are valid. Like I mentioned in my comment on your first submission, I went through something similar, and it took me two years to heal…and I am still not “over it”. By heal, I mean I am no longer filled with rage and it no longer causes me anxiety on a regular basis; but it will always hurt, and it will always affect me. I am 26. I have the entire AVFTI community at my back, supportive friends, and a supportive partner. And I am not “over it”.

    Your parents, simply put, are wrong. That said, maybe understanding where their discomfort comes from could help with the anger you feel towards them? It sounds like facing the reality of what happened to you is too uncomfortable for THEM, so they are reacting by trying to suppress you and force you to behave in a way that makes them more comfortable. They likely feel guilty that this happened to you under their care. Those feelings are hard to process, but instead of working to do so, they’re lashing out with anger and attempted control. None of this excuses their behavior, though. They should be better, they should support you, and they should allow you to heal the way you need to. Forcing you to take back telling YOUR story is not okay, and demanding that you ask permission before telling it is not okay. Because love, you’re right – this is yours. You get to decide who knows about it.

    I’m glad you have us to talk to, but I wish you could still talk to your friend. It sounds like he was a positive support, and you deserve that. Regardless, I have faith you can keep moving forward. I know it’s hard. I know you’re upset and feel invalidated. That isn’t ridiculous at all! I just want you to know it gets better.

    Thank you for the update. Please don’t hesitate to post more any time you like.

    Kristen

  5. Juliana331 Volunteer

    I’m so sorry that you haven’t been given the validation and support you’ve been seeking from your parents. I’m sure it hurts when they try to deal with it by switching the fault to you or lessen the impact of it. And I know what it feels like to be told to get over it and be subjected to being around the person who hurt you. But your feelings are valid and you have the right to not be placed in that situation. Have you thought about talking to a counselor who can help open the lines of communication with your parents while supporting you?

    Juliana

  6. Jacqui

    Hi there, I’m glad to hear from you again. I am sorry that you have experienced so much of this. It isn’t fair to you at all. People seem to dismiss those that they do not understand. It is easier than learning. While you are hear, I want you to know that you are believed here. We are here to help and listen.

  7. Hannah

    Hey there,
    First of all, don’t apologize. This isn’t ridiculous at all and your exhaustion and disappointment is totally valid. Your parents should be there to support you rather than make you question your entire situation.
    I’m sorry that you’re still being forced to go to the same church as your assaulter. For many, church is a place of sanctuary and comfort and it must be hard to balance that with a source of pain always looming around. None of your emotions are too dramatic or sensitive. Going through traumatic event like this are tough and how you are responding isn’t overly dramatic. Is there any way you could possibly go to a different church with friends or through a school group? Have you thought about talking to a counselor or joining a support group? You shouldn’t feel like you have to suppress your feelings. I’m glad you found us and that you can share with us. I hope that’s helping you.
    You’re a strong person and you’re holding yourself the best way that you can. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that you aren’t a good role model or a great person. We’re here for you.
    Let us know if we can help with anything. We’re always here to listen, as much as you want to share with us.

  8. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Don’t be sorry about the length. I have felt several feelings of invalidation of my own experiences as well-most of them from my own mother. In a different way, I understand how you feel. I still love my mom, which makes everything all convoluted. I have been struggling for awhile, too. I am so sorry that your parents are doing this to you and that you still have to see your rapist. You don’t deserve that. And everything your parents have told you that you have listed here is untrue. You have every right to feel the way you do. Do you still live with your parents, is that why you still have to go to church? Or could we get you away from the church somehow? Let us know how to help-we are here for you.

    Erin

  9. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi music2799,
    It’s good to hear back from you. I’m sorry things aren’t getting better. When it comes to anyone invalidating you it’s because they have never been in this kind of situation and they think “oh it happened…whatever…anyone can get over it,” but obviously that isn’t true. When you’ve been through something as traumatic as what you went through you need to take all the time you need to recover. I know how hard it is to not listen to your parents because they want what’s best for you, but if they aren’t validating your feelings you have to ignore them and just tell yourself “my feelings are valid…I can take as much time as I need.”
    When you say you miss him, you miss him because you trusted him and he hurt you so you are trying to pretend that he never hurt you and he still has good in him. That’s totally okay. It’s one of the stages of recovering. You will realize that you don’t need him.
    Lastly you don’t have to apologize for your story being long. This is your story and you can tell it however you want; long or short.
    Thank you for trusting and sharing your story with AVFTI. If you need anything you can always write back.

  10. alexcostello Volunteer

    Hi Music2799,
    Thank you for sharing this with us and I am so sorry to hear that this has happened to you. You should be incredibly proud of yourself for choosing to share this with us, I know everyone in this community is here for you and is proud of you also because it takes a lot of courage. Feelings of invalidation can be incredibly difficult to deal with because they go to the very centre of who we are, our voice. You shouldn’t ever have to feel as though your feelings are invalid or that you aren’t right to feel what you do. Your feelings are always valid and we will always be here for you when you need to talk about them. It is entirely understandable that you feel emotionally exhausted at the moment, the things your parents said to you weren’t fair, especially considering you were going through a trauma. You don’t have to be over this in any given length of time, you are free to take as much time as you need to process everything and to come to terms with it. On the topic of being a good role model, I think you’re an incredible role model because you’re strong and resilient and you’re doing your best to work through some very difficult experiences. So your cousins are lucky to have you in that regard. If you think it could help, would you want to potentially have a conversation with your parents to tell them how the way they speak to you makes you feel, and the effect that it is having on you. Because you deserve to have your feelings heard and understood and for this to stop. You will never be a burden please always let us know if there’s anything we can do to help, we are here for you always!