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  • Family Trauma

    Last September my daughter was going to commit suicide because of a secret she had been keeping. Luckily a friend of hers contacted me and my husband so we were able to get her the help she needed. She told us her secret, that her grandfather (my father-in-law) had molested her. We were, of course, so upset, angry, sad, furious etc.
    We contacted police and had him charged. He admitted everything. We are facing a trial in January. My daughter is now 14, almost 15 and wants to testify. Since the charges started we were told that he was going to tell the truth and not make my daughter testify. Now that he is facing jail, he has decided to contest our case and is pleading not guilty, forcing my daughter to testify in court.

    My husband and I are supporting her completely. We love her very much and want him punished and especially out of our lives forever.

    In the meantime my husband and I are just not sure how to deal with normal teenage things. I am so afraid that my daughter will kill herself that I tend to be too forgiving and not very strict. I find that I have a hard time going outside, I don't like leaving the house much. I just want my husband and daughter around me all the time. I am so afraid of losing my family and being alone.

    Is there such a thing as "tough love" in Buddhism? I just don't know how to cope with all this trauma. I want to be supportive and I want my daughter to be able to come to me but she is a teenager and needs freedom. I am afraid of losing her. I don't want to stiffle her with love so much that she can't breathe. At the same time I want to be a parent to her too.

    I just don't know how to cope with all this anxiety.

    Kendra
    PS- I am not sure this should be posted in the group but I really at least need some monastic help. I wanted to write Ajahn Brahm a letter but wasn't sure how to do that. I need help.

  • #2
    Dear Kendra,

    Let me first say that it took me a while to get to answer your questions because we were on a three month retreat and I did not have the opportunity until now.

    That's a difficult situation you are facing. But perhaps it is better for all involved that the truth is coming out, rather than being hidden for longer--something that happens to a lot of other people. Perhaps this way it will be easier for your daughter to one day leave it all behind. ?

    How are things going now?

    I am only a young monk and never had any children. So my advice will be a bit meager, I suppose. Please check your personal messages, though. I've left you some details of how you could come into contact with a more senior monk in this monastery. But I think you realize nobody can really give you a definite piece of advice.

    I have once had a teenage friend who was playing with ideas of suicide. I was still a teenager myself, I wasn't his parent. But I realized that what he needed was just friendship. Not me telling him what was right or wrong, or how to handle this or that. Just giving him company whenever he needed it. Having talks about random things, making music, making fun. He had some more friends like me, and got through the depression.

    Perhaps you can have the same attitude with your daughter. Most people around 15 years of age are old enough to need little parenting of the type that tells them what to do. But maybe you can be a parent by just being there when she needs somebody to talk to or have fun with. Simply taking your mind of something can be a great relief. Perhaps watch a girl's movie together, go shopping together, something like that. To take the tension of, if even just a bit. Be a family together.

    At the other hand, of course, you have already realized that being to tense about having people around you may not be the best approach. You also need time apart.

    Do you practice meditation, Kendra? I would suggest that you do, or if you already do, make it a more regular thing. It may feel like a waste of time in these busy days, but it will clear your mind and remove more of the anxiety. Meditation may also help you to keep emotions separate. That way you will be better able to be there for your daughter. To be able to help somebody else, it is best you also give time to yourself.

    Again, check your personal message box ( http://community.dhammaloka.org.au/private.php ) where I've posted some details on how to contact a more senior monk.

    If you feel more comfortable about it, you can also continue to contact me through private messages.

    With a huge mega amount of metta,
    Sunyo

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    • #3
      Thank you so much for your response Sunyo. I appreciate all that you suggested.

      One of my biggest concerns is the fact that I struggle to do any self-care of my own. I am used to putting myself last, which always backfires. I am going to meditate tonight, even if only for 5 mins to start. I know it helps and yet, I avoid it. Strange.

      I will contact you through private message in the next few days.

      Thanks again for the metta

      Kendra

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      • #4
        Dear Kendra,

        Yes even a few minutes of meditation each day will already have an effect. Somehow when we need it most we are least likely to do it. I recognize that feeling very well.

        I'll be waiting for your private message.

        With kindness,
        Sunyo

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