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Struggling with an Insult

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 weeks, 2 days ago.

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  • #324787

    Chris
    Participant

    I am struggling with something that was said to me.  I will try to be brief.  I was supposed to spend an evening with my son, and he called me at the last minute and said that his friends were having a gathering in our neighborhood, and would I mind going with him.  I agreed, but was a little disappointed to forgo one on one time with him.

    I know his friends well.  Many of them spent countless Saturday nights sleeping over at my house.  I joke that they have my French toast and maple syrup in their blood.  These relationships go back decades, and I am close to their parents.

    One young man, Tim, who is a newer but close friend of my sons approached me at the party.  I would describe him as confident, and perhaps a bit on the arrogant side of that spectrum.  When I saw him, I approached him to give him a hug, and he said, “How are you doing, you old whore?”

    I was stunned, tried to laugh it off and turned to other people at the gathering.

    My ongoing struggle is that I told my son, and he did not seem to think it was a big deal.  He later told me that Tim was sorry and would apologize the next time he saw me.  I didn’t feel that this was adequate, but did not express my feelings.  I mostly forgot about it, until I saw him recently at a wedding, about a year after the incident.  I was looking forward to talking to him and getting resolve.  I spoke to him a few times, but he did not apologize.

    I spoke to my son about it a few days later, and he seemed frustrated.  He said that it was my issue and that there was nothing he could do.  I am so hurt by that.  I was sexually attacked by a relative when I was 11, and spent years trying to recover, and I think that not being protected by my parents really hurt.  When I finally got it together to tell my mom, she didn’t say much about it and nothing happened.  A decade later, I told my dad, and he yelled at me for being in the car with my cousin.  I was 11, and wanted to go along when he was going out for milk.

    So, I KNOW that this is opening up feelings of abandonment.  I can’t seem to stop ruminating.  I want to forgive Tim and my son, but I am clinging to the expectation that my son should protect me.  I did a lot of work to forgive my parents – decades of therapy…and I thought that I had healed from all of that.  I know that I should see this as a lesson, but I keep going back to wanting to be protected.  Worse, feelings of revenge come up a lot.  I know that I am only hurting myself with these thoughts. I feel that it is a closed topic with my son and I am just not getting anywhere with forgiveness.  Ugh!    My darling boyfriend passed three years ago.  I am feeling worn down and would love any insight.  Thank you.

     

     

    #324813

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Chris:

    A greeting that includes “you old whore” is so unacceptable, way at the extreme of the unacceptable spectrum of greetings. It requires not only an apology but an adequate explanation: where in the world did this greeting come from, what motivated Tim to call the parent of his friend an old whore???

    I understand the connection you made to you having been sexually attacked by your cousin when you were 11, but the nature of the greeting a year ago is a big problem in itself. Your son shrugging it off is also a big problem.

    Do you have any idea what prompted that rude young man, Tim, to address you that way?

    anita

    #324821

    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Chris,

    I chalk it up to him watching too much South Park and horrible movies like Jack Ass. Believe me when I say that he didn’t say that as an insult at all, but as a funny way of greeting you with his crassness. The crassness is so over the top that it’s not meant to be insulting.

    Also, he has a false sense of familiarity in that he’s known you for twenty years so he thinks he can be casual. This is like when my best friend says “You’re my best bitch!” But we also get each other’s sense of humor. You do NOT get his, and so he needs to stop.

    This is where people get into trouble. Art imitates life, but when you try to imitate art in your life, it NEVER works!

    You can be brutally honest with him and show him this post. Then he will never greet people like they were characters in a bad movie script again. He needs a lesson in sensitivity. Leave your son out of it.

    Best,

    Inky

    #324823

    Chris
    Participant

    Hi, Anita,

    That would have been one of my questions to him.  I think I recall my son explaining that he was drunk, but that doesn’t seem like a good reason, and he didn’t seem overly intoxicated to me.  I feel that it is well understood by males and females that this is a term meant to show deep disrespect.

    It is so odd, I feel that I need to tell you that I am a very supportive parent, have a great relationship with my ex-husband (the father of my son – I am having him and my mother in law for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow), I am an accomplished professional and very generous.  I hosted and paid for my son’s wedding.  I gave them a sizeable down payment for their home, and have given my daughter in law money to pay her tuition.  I volunteer at a children’s teaching farm, plant trees for a land conservancy…it is odd, because I feel like I need to defend who I am.  I am so ashamed about this!  I know I have a right to be angry, but I am stuck there.

    I think I need to see my therapist.  I have a good person that I have worked with off and on over the years.

    I appreciate your kind response.

    #324835

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Chris:

    You hosted and paid for your son’s wedding, gave him a sizeable down payment for his home, gave his wife money to pay for her tuition, and this same adult son allowed his adult friend to say to you: “you  old whore”, remaining this man’s friend even though that friend never apologized to you, eventually telling you that it is your issue and “there was nothing he could do”.

    Why does your son disrespect you, and to this alarming extent. I don’t know. And I am sorry that this is the case.

    I have very little information of course, so I can only guess as to why he disrespects you so much. Here are three guessing possibilities:

    1. He blames you for divorcing his father (even though you are very friendly with his father), he perhaps thinks you had an affair that caused the divorce (and have told that to his friend, leading to his friend expressing that sentiment in his greeting of you).

    2. His father expressed to him a deep disrespect for women and he took on his father’s attitude.

    3. Perhaps you expressed disrespect to your own self, putting yourself down through the years, and he took on your attitude.

    Any of these apply?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by  anita.
    #324889

    Brandy
    Participant

    Hi Chris,

    My first thought after reading your post is that there’s something off with this guy Tim.

    Did your son say if Tim addresses others in a similar fashion? In other words, does Tim greet girls who are his peers the same way? It’s nice that your son invited you, his mom, to a gathering of his friends, which makes me wonder if this group considers you as one of them and that Tim’s greeting to you was the same way he greeted other girls, as absurd as that sounds.

    I’m trying to find an explanation for Tim’s behavior because if it were me I would need one too. I understand why you feel disrespected, ashamed, and the need to defend who you are. As much as I’d try to be that person who can let a comment like that roll off her back, I’m not sure I’d be able to.

    B

    #324907

    Chris
    Participant

    Thank you, Brandy..being heard and acknowledged really helps.  I know I need to share this with some friends, and with my brother and my ex-husband.  Tim wouldn’t greet his female peers that way.  If he did, he would be swiftly checked.  These young people are in the phase of life where there are lots of marriages, careers progressing….it is not a raucous group where this would be acceptable.

    I find myself regretting that I was not more powerful at the time.  That ranges from confronting him, to giving him a hard slap across the face.  I know I have a right to feel angry.  I guess I need to sit with that anger and accept that it is there, and see what comes.  I know that however I move forward, I don’t want regret over any future actions.  Thanks again.  Really helpful reply.

     

    Chris

    #324975

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Chris:

    My replies to you yesterday are severely inadequate and I want to correct it this morning, Thanksgiving Day. I wish you a pleasant Thanksgiving and do not want to burden you with anything unnecessary, so I will make it as gentle as possible. The reason I bother at all to write to you is because your suffering has been ongoing and palpable, and maybe, just maybe I can give you that insight that you requested, and that may, I hope, make this day a better day for you.

    Here is the biggest part of the story that has hurt you deeply for decades and which has been reactivated when Tim greeted you the way he did about a year ago, and then again recently when he didn’t apologize: “I was sexually attacked by a relative when I was 11… When I finally got it together to tell my mom, she didn’t say much about it and nothing happened”.

    The hurt was intense, to see your mother not caring, not angry at the relative, not taking action to bring justice to the situation, not having that relative pay for what he did to you, not expressing deep empathy for you as she does all she can do to help you. To witness her do nothing is to be sent the message that you are of no value, not worthy of defending, not worthy of empathy and justice.

    Fast forward, you were friendly toward Tim before and during that gathering:”When I saw him, I approached him to give him a hug” (similar to you being friendly toward that cousin at 11: “(I) wanted to go along when he was going out for milk”). Next came the verbal sexual assault, Tim’s greeting, parallel to the physical sexual assault by the cousin.

    Next, just like you told your mother about the physical assault at 11 and she didn’t care and did nothing, you told your son about that verbal assault and he didn’t seem to care and did nothing: “I told my son, and he did not seem to think it was a big deal”, and a year later, when you told your son that Tim didn’t apologize, “he seemed frustrated. He said that it was my issue and that there was nothing he could do”.

    The two experiences are similar and parallel, a few decades apart.

    Following the childhood experience, you went through “decades of therapy.. and I thought that I healed from all of that”- when a child is hurt and betrayed (treated as unworthy) by her own mother, and yelled and accused by her father, with no apology and no efforts to correct over time, the emotional injury that results never fully heals. Sometimes we don’t feel the pain, but the pain is there nonetheless. Your pain was dormant for a while and then, it was activated.

    “I am clinging to the expectation that my son should protect me.. I am going back to wanting to be protected. Worse, feelings of revenge come up a lot… I feel that it is a closed topic with my son… I find myself regretting that I was not more powerful at the time. That ranges from confronting him, to giving him a slap across the face”.

    Because you are sure that Tim’s greeting was not due to him being intoxicated, and because “Tim wouldn’t greet his females peers that way.. it is not a raucous group where this would be acceptable”; because you are certain that “it is well understood by males and females that this is a term meant to show deep disrespect”- I think that the lesson here (“I know that I should see this as a lesson”), is that you should next say and do something to Tim so to let him know clearly how offensive he has been to you. I think you should say or do something publicly, so it is not only Tim who will hear you.

    Because this is a closed topic for your son, don’t involve him. This is indeed your issue, your life. This time, when you are assaulted, be it verbally or physically, you don’t leave it to people who will not protect you (mother, father, son). This time you take action and do what makes sense to assert yourself and exact some measure of justice. When you do that publicly, you will experience more healing to that deep wound of long ago.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by  anita.
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