The answer for me was therapy, and lots of it. As I have started to heal and talk to other parents, I’ve come to realize that plenty of us have had rough childhoods, and we’re still doing it. We’ve figured out which method of coping and processing works best for us, and we are learning how to love our kids as we learn to love ourselves.One hardcover book for you to keep, read or share. One art print for you to collect. You can choose any 1 day out of the 100 as your print! You send me one photograph from *your childhood*, and I make an original drawing just for you.When I was a Freshman in college, I dated a woman much older than me.

She had been through a kind of childhood I couldn’t begin to imagine. Her father and brothers had beaten and raped her and her sisters almost as long as she could remember. And they all acted like that was the norm; like that was the way “the men went about keeping the women-folk in line.” My girlfriend certainly knew better than that. She fully understood that what was done to her was terrible. But she had forgiven them all, and even introduced me to her father once. I was stunned and unable to speak on that occasion.

I told her I’d never experienced much worse than a little verbal harassment when I was a girl. The kind of abuse and incest and betrayal she’d been through was unthinkable to me, and how could she be relatively sane, much less on good terms with her family? She said, “listen, the worst thing you’ve ever been through is the worst thing you’ve ever been through. People are surprisingly strong, and you deserve just as much compassion for what you’ve suffered as I do for my suffering.” And, after months of explaining and re-explaining it, she convinced me that forgiving her father was the only way she could grow past the damage he’d done to her. To this day, I am able to lay down a lot of burdens of anger and hate, because if she can do it, then certainly I can, too.posted by Fenriss at 11:34 AM on February 15, 2005Around 11 years old, alone looking up at the stars, realizing not just how many other worlds exist, but that I too am on one of the worlds; I exist.

No matter how many are above, I am a part of this; I am one.posted by uni verse at 9:41 PM on February 12, 2005The first one fell from the fireplace, the first flaming squirrel. It attacked. I freaked the fuck out because a spawn of satan was charging a full speed right for me, but then I saw it was going for my best friend, my puppy. I kicked this kamikaze squirrel 4 feet straight in to the curtain.I would like to offer up an idea that you may or may not want to explore.

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 I’m guessing that your brother may be equally lost and probably a bit of a screw up but not necessarily a bad person (by most people’s estimates).  11 year olds generally don’t rape their siblings based on sexual interest.  This sounds more like sexually reactive behavior that was the result of some form of abuse (to your brother) – normally physical.  the end result is the same, but there may have been other factors at play.  It’s almost a programmed response for some kids.

 He may not even remember doing it.  Or maybe he does and he’s ashamed of it.  Now if your brother is a sociopath that enjoys hurting other people, that is a different story, but I think you may be both hurting from something that was originally caused by someone else.  My point is that you might both benefit from some therapy to sort things out.  If you are going to have a relationship with your brother, it might as well be one you are comfortable with.  Now if the scenario doesn’t describe your brother, I’m not sure you are doing yourself any favors by continuing to have a relationship with him.The day I told my mother I couldn’t be her quasi-therapist anymore.

I spent my entire childhood/teens taking care of her, and was constantly worried that some day my dad would get tired of dealing with her ups and downs and leave (he never left, but she ran away with some guy she met on the internet). Telling her it wasn’t right for her to have put the burden of keeping her sane on me when I was just a kid was the first time I’d really done anything to take care of myself. On a happier note, I remember my parents telling me that, while I wouldn’t get everything I wanted all the time, they would always buy books for me. They kept that promise, and I’m sure I cost them a small fortune, but they supported my love of books.posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 8:44 AM on February 5, 2005The summer I was about 4 or 5 I was playing with my younger brother on the beach; a photographer came by, introduced himself, talked to my mother for a bit, and asked if he could photograph us. We were instructed to take a red pail a out into the water and fill it with sand. We went a little ways, then he asked us to keep going a bit farther, then gave us instructions to pose and to fill the bucket. I remember how inane this was– it wasn’t something that I ever would have chosen myself to do for fun– and how long it took while he messed around with lenses.

My mother seemed full of excitment and approval at all this, and when the photograph appeared in the paper a day or two (with the caption ‘Getting wet and having fun at the same time’ or something similar) later she was delighted, but I learned at that point never to take a photograph or a news story at face value. She cut the picture out and gave it to me, and I threw it away some time later with a strange feeling of shame, as if I had willingly been part of some farce or trick played on the adult world. When I was 6 I found a book in the school library called The Unicorn with Silver Shoes, written by Ella Young and first published in 1932. Within the first paragraph I had found the world of the imagination, and I have never left it.

My brother and myself once made our mother break down and cry because we were jumping on the couch and wouldn’t go to bed. It was an absolutely mundane moment. She was dealing with a three year old and a one year old, and she was exhausted, and she lost it. My dad put his arms around her and said accusingly to us ‘Now look what you’ve done.’ Again, a small and ordinary moment, but it made me frightened of the power I had to upset adults for years. Reading many of the comments here has made me even more thankful that I let my son bail out of high school (he was 13) until he felt ready to go back (five years later, more or less). He’s now kicking ass in his Law and English classes and will graduate only a year behind where he would have been.

It wasn’t easy– we went through counsellors and changing schools and the whole rigamarole– but all he really needed was some time to figure out what he wanted to do, and hang out at home, make websites, read, draw, and do whatever. And eventually I trusted that he knew what he was up to. Turns out he did.posted by jokeefe at 2:21 AM on February 5, 2005