Q: At the age of 15 I was raped by my first boyfriend. It’s how I lost my virginity. Shortly afterward, I became severely depressed and bulimic. I blocked my trauma until 11 years later, when I had a flashback. I sought out a therapist and have been seeing him for the past six months.
I feel so much resentment and anger toward my family for not having helped me through this difficult time. They didn’t know about the rape, but they knew about my eating disorder, and I’m sure they must have noticed my depressed mood. They simply looked the other way, and I was offered no help whatsoever.
I am angry with my mother especially, because she has always been detached and critical of me. I’m afraid to tell her what happened for fear of being blamed. She has now been diagnosed with cancer, and I’m afraid she’ll die before I get the courage to tell her. What can I do? — Angry in California
A: It might be helpful to look more carefully at the reasons why you are angry with your family. It’s unfair to blame them for not recognizing something they were never told. It is not uncommon for teenagers to withdraw to some extent in order to establish their own identities, apart from their parents. Your parents may have thought that was what you were doing.
As to your eating disorder, I remember a time in the not-too-distant past when little was known about anorexia and bulimia. It wasn’t until after the death of recording artist Karen Carpenter that media attention focused on how serious and life-threatening an eating disorder could be.
This is not to excuse your mother for her inability to be the parent you needed while growing up. It’s important that you work with your therapist on how to talk to her about all of your feelings. It shouldn’t be done in an accusatory manner, and you should have no fear of being blamed for your rape. It wasn’t your fault that you were assaulted, and no one should be able to make you feel guilty for having been a victim, not even your mother, who, I am sure, will be shocked by your revelation.
Q: I have known “Julia” for a long time. She was my best friend in high school and my maid of honor when I got married. She and her husband have an open relationship and invite other women into their bedroom. Several years ago, when my husband and I were struggling, they asked me if I wanted to join them. I declined in favor of working on my marriage. After that, Julia and I drifted apart and we spoke only rarely.
Our children go to the same school now, so we have reconnected and I realize how much I have missed having her as a close friend. Recently, however, Julia’s husband, “Jerry,” has started making suggestive remarks when he’s the one picking their daughter up from school. It makes me really uncomfortable. When I told my husband about it, he wasn’t happy.
How do I ask this man to stop without losing Julia’s friendship again? I see them every day now, and I’d hate for there to be bitterness between us. — Not Interested That Way
A: Tell Jerry that his comments are making you uncomfortable and to cut it out. Point out that while you and your husband are not judgmental about their lifestyle, you are not interested in being more than good platonic friends. Then repeat it to Julia, so she hears it straight from you. If, after that, your refusal to participate in their bedroom antics causes “bitterness,” then so be it.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.