The first time I shared with my husband, Mark, that I had been sexually abused as child was within the first few months of when we started dating. I wanted him to know about even the most painful parts of my life. He had lots of questions which I was prepared for, but I was slightly annoyed with a few of them.
I understood why he was asking so many questions; he was just trying to understand the situation more. He asked, “Well, if you were having nightmares or flashbacks about your father doing this to you later on in life, how do you know that it’s just not a dream? How do you know that this really happened to you?” They were fair questions, but it was annoying nevertheless.
He told me that he had a relative with a similar history and shared it with me. Her family members were skeptical of her story and it created an emotional stir in her family. He shared that he himself wasn’t sure what to believe because of so much family input.
For a moment I thought that I couldn’t continue to date such a man that would question the validity of her story. There was so much evidence pointing to her abuser that I just didn’t understand how he could doubt her abuse.
My relationship with my father is really complicated, which makes me really complicated too.
I remember telling him that it was a bold, brave move for her to share what happened to her. The fact that she went through so much family scrutiny and lost relationships over her deepest secret must have been horrible. “Can you imagine sharing your darkest fear and your own family pulls away from you when you are in need of their support the most?”
Mark replied, “Well, I haven’t thought of it that way. So how would you like me to be when I meet your father? I think I’m just going to take your lead. However you treat him, I will do the same. Is that ok?” I was comforted by his genuine response and I told him, “That would work. My relationship with my father is really complicated, which makes me really complicated too.”
I took a chance in sharing my past with Mark and I was so glad I did. Feeling emotionally vulnerable, I was relieved that our conversation was over and felt incredibly grateful to have his support. This was the first of many conversations with Mark about my father and the abuse, but it was the first step that showed me that he was someone I could have a relationship with.