December 4, 2017 at 7:47 am #180445
Hi everyone. I am new to this site and this is my first time writing in this forum. I hope that I can get some insights about a problem that has been upsetting me. The other day while talking to a friend, I suddenly remembered an old childhood memory and I started fixating on that memory and feeling like I’ve made a terrible mistake that I’m only now just processing. When I was around 9 or 10 years old, my aunt asked me to babysit my baby cousin (he was around 6 months) while he was sleeping and I agreed to help her. While babysitting, I just had this sudden thought of what would it feel like to kiss someone on the lips. Without thinking, I just kissed my baby cousin on the lips out of curiosity. It was just a peck on the lips and nothing more. It only happened that one time. At the moment, I didn’t think much of it and just went on with my day. But as I’m thinking about it now, I feel like what I did was so inappropriate and I fear that I may have sexually harassed or abused my baby cousin. That thought just makes me sick to my stomach and I feel like a horrible person. Does that count as sexual abuse?
What’s worse is that I developed another fear that my dad might have sexually abused me as a kid as well when I had lunch with him the other day. I remembered another childhood memory while hanging out with my dad that fueled this sexual abuse thought/fear. The memory is that when I was around 5 or 6 years old, I woke up from a nap and as soon as I opened my eyes, I saw my dad right in front of me and smiling. Growing up, I’ve always associated that memory as him surprising me and waking me up from a nap because he was visiting me from another state since at the time we weren’t living together. But the other day, after I’ve been obsessing about these negative thoughts, I can’t help but think that maybe my dad sexually abused me at that time without me realizing it. I’ve also been googling indicators of sexual abuse and one of it was not remembering or repressing what has happened to you. I started thinking and fearing that that might be the case for me. I kept thinking that maybe my dad sexually abused me in that memory and that caused me to sexually abuse my cousin by kissing him on the lips while he was sleeping. Is that crazy for my mind to think this way? Thinking rationally, I know that my dad didn’t sexually abuse me and had no other indicators or evidence that he ever did.
Still, I can’t seem to shake this terrible feeling and feeling like a bad person for what I did. I have anxiety and have dealt with OCD intrusive thoughts before. Please help. Thank you.December 4, 2017 at 8:16 am #180473
No indication in your share that your father sexually abused you. Anxiety, like fire, often ignites anything sexual. Sex is an.. inflammable material, if you think of anxiety like fire.
What is the origin of your anxiety? Probably nothing to do with sex…?
anitaDecember 4, 2017 at 10:04 am #180493
Hi Anita. Thank you so much for getting back to me! I really appreciate your thoughts! The origin of my anxiety I feel may have started when my parents divorced when I was 3 years old and I didn't have them around often when I was growing up. But I remember really noticing anxiety when I first started college. I felt really lost in life, I had a lot of health anxiety, and went through a break up with a boyfriend that really affected me. Like you said, I don't think the origin of my anxiety had anything to do with sex.
Regarding what I did to my baby cousin when I was 9 or 10 years old, do you think that counts as sexual harassment or abuse?December 4, 2017 at 10:12 am #180495
You are welcome.
The problem I have with your last question is the following: if I answer no, it is not sexual harassment, you or someone who reads my answer may think: oh, I guess it is okay to do this or that. If you want an answer, from a quality psychotherapist, let's say, you can make an appointment with such, maybe with one who specializes in OCD or sexual abuse. In a one-to-one session you can explore this question. Not here, not with me.
Thing is, with anxiety, which I compared to fire, is that even if you distinguish this one fire, another will start elsewhere. There is always material to be ignited, to start a new fire or re-start an old fire.
Regarding your parents' divorce when you were three, did they fight in your presence, before, during and after the divorce?
When you wrote that you didn't have your parents around when you were growing up, what do you mean?
December 4, 2017 at 10:58 am #180509
- This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by anita.
I know that what I did was not okay at all. Would a psychotherapist give me a definite answer to my question? I really need to know because it's eating me up inside and I feel like I can't focus on anything else or be happy. You are right about how anxiety is like fire – I always find and dig up things to worry about. This has always been my problem.
I don't have any memories of my parents before or during the divorce. They have told me that they argued a lot before, but I wasn't sure if it was in my presence or I was just too young to remember. I was raised by my grandparents after their divorce and they were rarely present in my life. I felt like they just came in and out of my lives throughout my childhood.December 4, 2017 at 11:05 am #180511
You did nothing wrong, absolutely nothing and in no way harmed your cousinDecember 4, 2017 at 11:19 am #180517
Anxiety is not easily resolved, far from it. It takes a whole lot of time, lots of patience, work, persistence. An answer to your question will not resolve your anxiety. After a possible temporary relief you will doubt the answer you received, if the answer is to your liking, and will ask again and again, different people. Maybe you already did.
Any experience with psychotherapy, regarding your anxiety?
Will be back to the computer in 17 hours or so.
anitaDecember 4, 2017 at 12:18 pm #180525
Peter – thank you so much for your kind and reassuring words.
Anita – I have never been to therapy before or had any experience with psychotherapy. I have considered seeing a therapist and get professional help for my anxiety because it has been deeply affecting my social and work life. You are absolutely right in describing my feelings about seeking answers to resolve my anxiety, but then doubting the answers I received. It's an ongoing vicious cycle for me. It feels like I stop everything going on in my life because I am so fixated on a fear or worry. Thank you again for your help.December 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm #180527
Talking to a therapist can be a great help in sorting through and untangling emotions and thoughts.
It sounds as if you have a good understanding of how this anxiety is impacting your life so listening to your intuition about seeking out help may be a good idea.December 5, 2017 at 4:48 am #180589
You are welcome. I have suffered from OCD from an early age, so I am familiar with this torture. Another way to think of an OCD thought, or fixation, is like this: fear is like a hitchhiker, hitching a ride. One vehicle stops, that is one fixation, the fear gets into that vehicle and the vehicles drives and drives in the freeways/ motorways of your brain. Sometimes it runs out of gas and takes a break, for a little while. Then continues.
The hitchhiker, aka fear may stop any other vehicle, depending what vehicles happen to be driving (events in our lives) and get into that vehicle. And into another… even if the sexual abuse vehicle (your current vehicle) breaks down completely and is not drivable anymore, there will be another vehicle.
Until you deal with the hitchhiker, that is, the fear.
anitaDecember 5, 2017 at 12:52 pm #180659
That was a great analogy that you mentioned and it's absolutely true. My question is how do we deal with the hitchhiker aka fear? In a way, fear is an inevitable part of life, right? Everyone has fears. We might get over one fear and another one may appear at another point in our lives. But why do some people become obsessive and fixated on them, letting it control their lives?December 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm #180687
It is a good step for you to want to share about your thoughts and fears on this forum. Sometimes the past holds memories we wish to delete, but I am afraid that is not possible. Do not fault yourself forever. We need to learn to let go. Reading about your situation, my opinion is that a peck on the lips is certainly not as severe as “sexual abuse”. According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, the definition of sexual abuse is as follows, the forcing of unwanted sexual activity by one person on another, as by the use of threats or coercion. And according to Wikipedia, some examples of sexual activities are sexual intercourse, non-penetrative sex, oral sex, etc.
You might be feeling guilty about the whole incident, but you were curious, and you have done it, so that's it. The baby probably isn't affected by it much, and you're the only one suffering in this whole ordeal. I feel that you might've taken this a bit too extremely, because from another person's perspective, it could be a sign of affection from a relative to another. Then your next concern would be the flashback you had about your dad and yourself, right? You might be overthinking things, although the thought that your dad might have sexually abused you could hold true, but it is not definite, is it not? I don't think you'll ever come to a final answer, but one thing you could do that would help yourself now is not to dwell on the past, and not to try to predict the future – live in the moment and live each day to the fullest.
It is not as easy as it sounds, but you will have to overcome what holds you back. Rest assured that you aren't crazy, you might just be a little lost currently, and that's everyone as well – it's just how lost they are at the moment. I can relate to you, because I'm someone who can be stressed over the same issue for a long period of time, and being stuck is certainly not a pleasant feeling… I've learnt that sometimes feelings aren't rational, and we will have to accept it. The matters of the heart are complicated 🙂
All in all, I feel that you're someone brave with a strong sense of justice perhaps, which could be why you are feeling so worried. You're fine. You aren't terrible. Forgive yourself, forgive others, and you'll be stronger after the phase of life. Recognize that your thoughts are intrusive and keep them at bay by engaging yourself with other tasks in life! Sending you love from Singapore xxDecember 6, 2017 at 5:12 am #180765
How to deal with the hitchhiker, aka fear and why do some people get fixated on fear promoting thoughts (OCD)?
My answer regarding the second part: if a predator is chasing us, we run away without thinking, correct? That is instinct. When we are afraid in absence of a real and present danger, our thinking brain, the logical part of our brain, once it senses the fear is trying to find logical solutions so to do something and resolve the fear. In your case, most currently, your logical brain figured: I am afraid because I am a bad person, guilty of sexual abuse. Only the logic is not perfect, you are not sure, so you are debating. The debating keeps happening, back and forth: yes, I am guilty, no I am not guilty. Stuck.
Regarding the first part: in nature, fear has a purpose: to motivate an animal to escape and avoid danger to its life. Once the animal successfully escapes the real and present danger, the fear dissipates and it goes about its business as before. Or the animal dies and … fear is resolved.
In human life, and perhaps in the case of animals in captivity, there is danger but no escape, hence being captive, or stuck. Usually, the danger is a parent acting aggressively toward a child. Can be a bully in school. The child has no option but to live at home with the aggressive parent, or is forced to go back to school without resolution (by the inattentive or uncaring parent)
When stuck in a dangerous situation, repeatedly, the fear does not resolve and develops into anxiety.
Solution (oh, not easy, not at all, to make happen): locate the original danger, become aware of it, of how it was and how it felt, making sure you are no longer exposed to that danger (such as a parent's aggression), relax into that awareness of that real and present danger, and the anxiety will diminish and- over a long, long… long time- resolve itself. Or so I think (I am still in that long, long… long time process).
anitaDecember 7, 2017 at 9:44 pm #181029
quackingphilosopher – Thank you so so much for your kind and encouraging words and thank you for being so understanding of my situation. In a way it feels like you already know me because you were spot on in describing my feelings. I do currently feel lost in my life and feel a lot of shame for it because I thought I would have everything figured out already by this point in my life, I tend to dwell in the past, worry too much about the future and things I can’t control, and thus not fully living in the moment. When I think rationally and objectively about this situation that’s upsetting me, like you mentioned, I feel that I may be overreacting and taking things too extremely. But there’s always something in the back of my mind (my conscience perhaps?) telling me that I’m not overreacting and that what I did was wrong and unforgivable. It happens when I feel happy and care free – I start to worry and think that I don’t deserve to be happy because of what I did. It’s a constant battle.
It’s nice to hear that you see me as brave. I don’t see myself as brave though; in fact I am scared of many things. As for a strong sense of justice, I think that is true because being a good person and doing the right thing is important to me and I expect the same from people close to me as well. I think that’s why when I suddenly remembered this memory and thought, I felt so guilty and terrible about myself. You mentioned forgiving ourselves and forgiving others. This may be one of the more difficult things for me to do sometimes because it’s hard for me to let go when someone has hurt me, and even more so harder to forgive myself when I made a mistake or hurt other people. It’s definitely something I need to practice and work on.
Again, thank you for taking the time to listen and understand what I’m going through. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your empathy and wonderful advice all the way from Singapore 🙂 I hope that I can do the same for you if you ever need anything and wanted to share your story on this forum.December 7, 2017 at 10:13 pm #181033
anita – Again, thank you so very much for taking the time to answer my questions and explain everything to me so thoughtfully. I will definitely take your advice to heart though I know it will be a long and tough process as you mentioned. We are in this long, long, long process together. I'll be here if you ever need good listening ears with no judgement. Have a lovely night or morning – wherever you are in the world!