My wife forgave her father - I can't

by Robert
(Petaluma, CA)

A year ago, my wife's mother passed away unexpectedly. It was obvious to everyone that my father-in-law couldn't live alone, so I started to convert my office into a bedroom for "Dad." When my wife started looking at nursing homes near us, I was shocked and angry. She told me to let it go, but I didn't - I couldn't. And that's how I learned that my wife had been molested as a child. She says she never would have told me otherwise.

I said in the title that my wife has forgiven him, but that's not the right word. I want to understand her feelings about him now, but I'm not even close. She went through intensive counseling a decade before we met, and she's made peace with all this, somehow. Two years ago, we had our only fight; I had wanted to spend our fifth anniversary together, leaving the kids with their grandparents.

I know you'll recommend therapy, and I'm going to do that. But Ben, I need help NOW. I've never hated anyone before - I didn't really understand what it was. I know now, and it's overwhelming. I had loved this man. I was so sure I knew him - even thought we were alike. I had called him Dad. I'd wanted to name our son after him...

I'm not a violent person. I've never even been in a fight. But now all I do is fantasize about hurting him. I've never had these kinds of thoughts about anyone - they scare me and sicken me, but I can't stop them. If I do manage to go to sleep, I dream a different, gruesome death for him each time.

It's surreal to me now that my wife had kept this to herself, but I do understand. I love her like nothing else, and we're stronger than ever. I haven't seen her father since all this came out, and she says I never have to, if that's what I want. She visits him once a week in the nursing home. She's gone without the kids the last few times - I haven't been able to let them go. Our daughter looks exactly like my wife did at that age, and I feel like my heart is going to burst when I look at that little girl. I look at my sweet little son, who looks a lot like his grandpa, and I wonder what other genes they share.

I stopped in the middle of writing this letter, and made an appointment with a therapist for later this week. But I know it could take weeks or months for that to help. How do I keep from going insane until then?

Ben's answer:

Thanks for your question Robert, and sorry for such a delay in answering - I've been backlogged. By now you might be seeing a therapist, and I sincerely hope you are getting good help with this issue. It's a very human response to finding out about this. It sounds like a combination of trauma, feeling betrayed, and feeling disgusted by your own rage/violent impulses. Any of these things can be released with the right help. There is not just one method of working on it. If you are not making progress with it, I would suggest considering EFT Tapping as one way that I have found effective for many people who are having trouble accepting or letting go of certain thoughts or feelings.

Best Wishes,

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