While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On a source of refuge from abuse:
I had a father who wanted a "tough" son, so he loosed my two older sisters on me. While my mother first told, then asked and ultimately begged them, "Please don't fight, please don't call names," she was countermanded by my father.
Five and three years older, they were larger, more developed and always ahead. They practiced two-on-one bullying with virtually nothing they wouldn't do: hitting, kicking, restraining, holding an arm or leg so I couldn't defend myself, and calling me "stupid," "retarded," "repulsive."
Spending days playing at other homes showed me the normalcy of life and also the abnormal aspects of mine. The refuge those other homes provided saved my life. I saw siblings having normal relationships. I witnessed appropriate parenting and discipline. I was introduced to religion, taught manners, exposed to a wide aspect of life experiences, and shown compassion and caring from parents other than my own. All at other homes from very generous, appropriate parents and families while my house was chaotic and destructive.
On dieting and resisting food pressure from others:
I've found the most effective replies to be those that would be given convincingly by someone who was not a dieter and was merely trying politely to turn down something they did not desire. For instance: No, that'll do it, thanks [change the subject]; Cheese Hut? I think I'll pass; Just coffee for me, thanks. If they ask for the extra spoon for a shared dessert, just leave it there without comment.
I don't know where the expression "Never complain, never explain" came from, but I have found it to be the perfect way to handle this annoyance.
-- Been There
After losing 70 pounds, with 25 to go, others decided I look great so don't need to lose any more. My oncologist disagreed with them. To avoid the stress of a back and forth -- "Take it," "No," "Take it" -- conversation, I just take what's offered when it's obvious my refusal isn't respected. Then, I leave the food uneaten while continuing to visit and enjoy the event. Stress is a contributor to some overeating.
On managing illness and others' generosity during said illness:
When I had cancer years ago, someone introduced me to the concept of cancer perks. Cancer perks mean you can ask for help, do nothing, say yes to what you want, say no when you choose. With a serious diagnosis, the rules for expected social responses are suspended in the interest of your real needs. An added benefit is increased ability to clarify what serves you into the future!
On honoring people's special days when you're pulled in another direction:
We did not celebrate one Father's Day because we had a lot of bustle and events (a child's birthday) with a family of out-of-town visitors. The father in question was a little hurt, it turned out. So, a while later, as a complete surprise, our young boys and I threw him a DAD -- Dad Appreciation Day -- complete with a homemade banner, gifts, his favorite meal, and games. Because of the effort and surprise, it was his favorite "father's day." It's never the wrong time to celebrate someone.
Chat online with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071; or email
Weekend on 07/12/2018
Print Headline: Family abuse at home counteracted by loving friends, their parents