Q. I have recently been reliving a trauma from my childhood on a daily basis. Along with this, I have been remembering other occurrences of this same trauma.
My father is a child molester, and an abusive alcoholic. This trauma from my childhood led to trichotillomania, which has gotten worse, despite the fact that I have pursued therapy (off and on) for years.
My problem is: Now that I have admitted what occurred, how do I fully move past it? Do I bring it up with my sisters? We aren’t a family to share things. We are more a family to shove something deep down inside or sweep it under the rug.
I feel like there is a missing component, but I don’t know what it is.
I would greatly appreciate a second opinion. I would like to move...
FROM TRAUMA TO TRIUMPH
A. Our experience of dislocation and isolation during the pandemic has brought on some attendant issues and if, like many, you have stopped pursuing your therapeutic mental health treatment you will lack supportive or familiar ways to cope.
Trichotillomania is a disorder characterized by obsessive and repetitive hair pulling. This can lead to hair loss and bald spots. Some people also pull at their eyelashes or eyebrows.
This is a form of self-harm. The stress and anxiety of experiencing your childhood trauma — and holding it in — is causing you to literally pull your hair out, which may actually bring some temporary relief from your pain and anxiety.
My first recommendation is that if you are currently in an “off” mode, you must revive your therapy. You don’t say whether you have disclosed your childhood trauma to your therapist (I assume you have). Because you are ruminating and reviving your memories on a daily basis, it’s time to go back (virtually, if necessary), because your body and your mind are telling you something new.
In my opinion, the “missing component” you are wondering about is the choice you face about disclosing this to your sisters. Just guessing here, but do you think that what happened to you might have also happened to them?
Understand that if your family always sweeps problems or concerns under the rug, your choice to talk about it could be extremely upsetting to others. They might deny, blame, and shame you — not because this trauma is your fault, but because you have chosen to talk about it. This is one of the burdens of being a survivor.
Surviving — even scarred and wounded — is the triumph. You’ve already done that, and you will continue to, as long as you devote yourself to your own recovery.
Q. My ex-girlfriend recently broke up with me.
Our relationship was fairly short, but I had liked her for some time and was ecstatic to finally begin dating her. During our relationship, I admit I wasn’t a respectful partner and at times I could suddenly be rude to her, and I don’t understand why.
I would love to get back together with her, or at least apologize, but she refuses to talk to me or even acknowledge my presence when I’m around.
Should I just let it go?
A. You should take responsibility for your behavior and find a way to apologize — by mail, e-mail, or private message on social media. Tell her that you know she deserved better. After that, you should let it go. Do not contact her again.
You also need to review your own actions, figure out why you were such a jerk, and stop being that way!
Q. The “morbidly obese sister” whose “type-A” sister (“Concerned”) was so worried about helping sounds like a perfect candidate for Overeaters Anonymous.
I agree that the last thing she needs is her type-A sister coming at her with a diagnosis and a solution, but overeating, and other compulsive eating behaviors, responds effectively to the “Twelve Steps.”
At the very least, this lady would learn more about her condition and the possibilities for her recovery.
Browbeating is not an effective treatment for disease. Twelve-step programs have been effective for a lot of people for a very long time.
A. The “concern-trolling” question from “Concerned” has inspired a lot of people to offer solutions — not for her behavior but for her obese sister!
I appreciate the great work of OA, but this question was not about treatment for obesity, but about how to treat people with obesity.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at email@example.com.