Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear Family Member - Notification About Incest Happening In Family

April 24, 1992
Dear Family Member:

It is nice to feel that I have a family and roots again after so many years of feeling alone and empty.  For years, I cut myself off from any attachment to my "Caldwell" side of the family.  I now know that this was the only way I could deal with the pain of Dad's betrayal of me as a child.  To survive and try to lead a nearly normal adult life I had to disconnect from my painful past and any reminders of it.  My family was a very strong reminder of that past.

For over three years I have been dealing with that painful past---working through my anger and grief---and learning to let go of it.  For what I am about to tell you, I don't want your pity or your anger.  I don't need you to react at all.  I am doing this for me and for no one else.  I do hope that I can have your support in my working through this.

I know that some of you may be disbelieving and some of you may be angry that I am just now revealing this and you want to know why after all these years of being quiet that I am now stirring up all this trouble.  I am not doing this to cause trouble or to seek revenge.  I am doing this as a further step in my recovery.  I am refusing to keep silent and to carry the burden of this secret anymore.  It has become too heavy.  Too much of my life has been harmed by it.  I still have a lot of anger to deal with over this and to deal with it, the reasons have to brought out into the open.  I don't want another generation of children to suffer because of our silence and it will continue to happen unless we speak out and others have the awareness to deal with it.  Secrecy hurts too many people.

Most of you know that Daddy has a drinking problem.  For my own self, I choose to give it a name---alcoholism.  No one else has to agree with me.  I won't argue over this point.  It is strictly my opinion.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I thought about talking about this to some of you at the recent Family Reunion, but I decided to just enjoy the day instead.  I have worked hard this year and deserved to have that day to savor the pleasant memories and feelings of love that I felt from each of you.  This was an important day for me.

I don't make any apology to anyone for the feelings that you have as you read this.  This is a family secret that must be exposed for what it is---dangerous and deadly to our children and their self-esteem.

Some of you wonder why [my sister], [my brother] and I aren't close to the family anymore.  I can't speak for [my brother].  I don't know his reasons.  [My sister] is afraid of Daddy and refuses to be around him or to allow her children contact with him.  I don't want him in my life or in my children's lives.  I won't let him continue to abuse me.

I won't tell you [my brother's] or [my sister's] story.  I will only tell you mine.  I won't go into details here.  That would take to long.  I've already written more than I thought I would.

Starting at least by the age of eleven years old, I was sexually abused by Daddy.  I don't have memories of it starting earlier than that, but it may have.  Some of the work that I have done leads me to believe that I may have been as young as eight or nine years old.  You can't imagine the emotional pain I have gone through because of this.  Do you know what it is like to hate the parent that you also love and have to depend upon for your very survival?  When I was seventeen years old, I reached the point of having the courage to say no to Daddy.  If the abuse had continued, I would have lost my sanity.  I knew that.  I never again let Daddy abuse me.  I think he was afraid I would tell if he continued to push me.  He left me alone physically, but the emotional abuse continued until I left home at the age of nineteen.  I knew that was my one and only chance to get out from under his control. Living with Dad was like having a dictator tell you everything you could do or not do.  I never learned to make decisions or to think for myself until I was a Junior in college.  I know that God was with me and keeping me sane.  He gave me the courage to do what I had to do.  He allowed me to find the people that I needed to guide me in the right direction at each crucial point in my life.  I have a husband who loves me and has tried to be understanding of all that I have gone through.  That hasn't always been easy.  Dan has allowed me the space to find out who I am.  For me, the process has been both painful and joyful.

I like who I am today.  I am at a good place in my life.  I have told Mom about the abuse just this month.  She says she didn't know or she would have stopped it.  She was as much under Dad's control as I was.  I have made my peace with her.  I haven't confronted Dad yet, because when I try to contact him person to person he disappears.  I have written a letter to him giving him back responsibility for his actions.  This step will close a chapter in my life.  This is a positive step for me.  It has been a long journey to reach this healthy point in my life.

I hope that each of you can still welcome me to future Family Reunions with the same enthusiasm as you did this year.  Family means a lot to me.  I love everyone of you.  Please help me to bring awareness to our next generation of children so the hurt and the abuse can be stopped at least for this family.  I love you all.
Patricia Caldwell Singleton

I didn't use my brother or my sister's names here as I did in the original letters.  I have been searching for my copy of this letter for over a year and could not find it.  My sister a few weeks ago called me and asked me if I would like to have her copy of the letter.  She didn't know that I had been looking for my copy.  Thanks, Sis for giving me your copy.  She also gave me her copy of the copy letter written to her and my brother telling them that they were getting their copy of the "Dear Family Member" letter two weeks before I mailed them out to everyone else.  I wrote the above letter on April 24, 1992 but my sister's letter was written on June 10, 1992 so I apparently took a few months after writing the "Dear Family Member" letter before I mailed them out to my dad's brothers and sisters.  I chose not to send a copy to my grandmother because she was elderly and in poor health.  I didn't want to hurt her with the knowledge of her sons actions.  I told each of my aunts and uncles that it was their choice as to whether or not they shared the contents of my letter with their children, most of whom are my age and older.  I don't know if they did or not.  No one ever said anything to me about it.  One of my nephews recently told me he had read his dad's letter when he was a teenager.  My youngest niece recently read her mom's copy before my sister gave the letter to me. 

I look forward to hearing from you letting me know what you think about my letter.


謝雅柏 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Patricia Singleton said...

Thank you. I am glad that you liked it.

Clueless said...

This is a very good letter and I'm glad that you had the courage to send it. Last year, I also sent a letter to my mother, which was much more emotional. I had much support from my therapist and psychiatrist and husband. In advance, I sent it to family members. I felt free and it was my "coming out." If you would like to read it, it is in four parts just click on A letter to Mom.

I'm glad you put a voice to what happened and let others know!!

Patricia Singleton said...

Clueless, thank you. I will definitely click over and read your letter. Mine isn't emotional because when I wrote it, I was still stuffing and denying feelings instead of feeling them. I was still a long way from healthy.

I have a follow-up post coming out in a few more days. The only feeling that I felt while writing this letter was fear - fear of being blamed, fear of being called a liar, fear of being throw out of the family for being a trouble maker.

Patricia Singleton said...

A friend on Facebook said she would disagree with what I said about being a troublemaker. She said that I didn't make the trouble that my abuse did. I told her that I agree with her. Today I would not make that statement. Back when I wrote this letter, I still had a critical voice in my head that believed that people would blame me, that was afraid people would call me a liar, so in believing those voices, back then I called myself a "trouble maker" before anyone else could. Today I know that those critical inner voices told the same lies that my parents told me. I no longer listen to you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Clueless, thank you for suggesting that I go and read your Letter to Mom series. You gave me a lot of questions to think about, not with my mother, but with my dad. It sounds possible that he was the one to have a Borderline Personality Disorder. As I said in my last comment to you on your blog, you are a courageous, beautiful woman. You are a true inspiration as a survivor of abuse.

Dr. Deb said...

Brave letter.

Patricia Singleton said...

Dr. Deb, thank you.

G.H. Larrivee Jr. said...

This letter definitely pulls at your heartstrings. I actually think it's a good format for anyone to use that may be going through sexual or emotional abuse by a family member (or even a close family friend). It's good that you were able to send this letter, and ironically, I was watching a movie a bit ago called "Lies in Plain Sight".


In the movie, the girl that was being abused by her father committed suicide and left her "Dear Family Member" letter as a suicide note.

People who are suffering from incest or any other issues stemming from being a part of a dysfunctional family, you should not feel alone. Letters like this one can help.

Patricia Singleton said...

G. H. Larrivee Jr., I do not feel alone today. I know there are many survivors around today who are speaking out and sharing their experiences with incest and other abuse. Our voices are getting stronger and louder. One day no one will be able to ignore us and child abuse will be stopped.

Suicide was never an out for me. I feel too strongly about not letting my abusers win. I was just too stubborn to ever give up. Sometimes I will watch those kind of shows and sometimes I won't depending upon my mood at the time.

Thank you for your comment. I do not understand the "Spoiler Alert" that you had in your comment. Thanks for the visit. I hope you will come back. Now I am off to visit your blog.

Tracie Nall said...

This is such a thoughtfully written letter.

Honest, but not malicious.

It is a letter of reaching out and not cutting off.

It is powerful!

I think that is further evidenced by the fact that there are still copies of it around.

Thank you for sharing it.

Patricia Singleton said...

Tracie, thank you. I was trying to be honest and honor my journey and at the same time I was afraid it would make someone angry at me for writing it.

I was just beginning to pull my life together when I wrote this and still had a long way to go. I was still learning to set boundaries and this was probably the biggest boundary that I ever set for myself and my family by openly admitting to my larger family of aunts and uncles that the incest had happened.

The Blue Morpho said...

This is an amazing letter - I can't imagine the courage needed to send such a thing. I also have cut myself off from my family so I can distance myself from past abuses. I applaud your ability to see what you had to do that was right for you, for some it is speaking out, and for others it is just moving on. It is hard to stop listening to the "you should or you shouldn'ts" and find your own right way.
Adventures in Anxiety Land

Patricia Singleton said...

Blue Morpho, thank you. I did take a lot of courage on my part. I was so afraid of my family getting mad at me and saying I was lying or it was my fault. None of that happened. For the most part, they just ignored the fact that I sent the letter.

Anonymous said...

i hope i could do this,only it was not about was about that incident that happened when i was 19,about a man who "took" me and for this,i suffered a lot of the damages done to me emotionally.

Patricia Singleton said...

Anonymous, you can do a letter of your own about whatever you choose the topic to be and to whoever you need to write it to. Write to him about the damage that he did to you. Write about how you felt then and how you feel today. It is your choice as to whether you mail the letter or not. Write it just for you. Writing is how I have done much of my healing.

Lizzie31_7 said...

Patricia, this is such a well written letter. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to write and send it. I commend you for being so brave. You are an inspiration to many.


Patricia Singleton said...

Lizzie, thank you. What was harder than writing the letter was the waiting to see if anyone would respond and what would they say when they did. Only five of my dad's siblings responded. Only three offered support to me. The fourth said we would talk later and we never did.

The fifth asked me about one of my aunts and her two daughters and wondered what effect my dad had on them. The same aunt asked where was my mother. Why didn't she do anything. She also said that my dad had made a pass at her when she was in high school. She said that she told her mother (my grandmother) and that they wondered about me and my sister but never said anything to anyone about the possibility of incest.

Vigabo said...

Patricia, apart from the alcoholism, my story is the same as yours, from what happened to the effects on me. I waited till dad died to COME OUT FROM UNDER as you well know by now. But then, my family had only me, mom and dad. I can't imagine what receiving this letter was like for the other members of the family who thought your father's only problem was the drinking! How awful. And then there's your sister. Has she ever come out from under?

Patricia Singleton said...

Cruiseroo, As I read more of your story, I, too, see the similarities between the two of us. My brother and sister neither one have done any healing concerning growing up with our alcoholic father. As far as I know my brother was never sexually abused by my dad but being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic has its own set of issues. Both of my siblings drank for years. I think my brother still does. My sister because of the medications that she takes cannot drink now. I don't drink at all. My sister had a group counseling for incest a few years ago that didn't work out because the counselor left and was replaced by a man that my sister didn't like or trust. She reads my blog but hasn't done any coming out from under.