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The Long Shadow

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Home Forums G’day Line The Long Shadow

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  • #26862

    I’ve been married 22 years and I had separation in Aug to try something different for my son who has complex trauma. I have 3 wonderful boys 21, 19 & 16. The youngest boys 19 & 16 have complex trauma which started in 2017 when my wife was very unwell with severe anxiety and very heavy alcohol relief. The boys are disconnected from the outside world and cannot go out in a good way. We have tried a lot of things including psychologists, counsellors, chaplains and medication but nothing has cut through and I had to make a very difficult decision to move out in Aug with 19 year old son to try new environment with a new home and he has responded and he is heading in a much better direction. I had to leave because my wife did not want to talk or try some changes at home to help the boys. The 16 year old is very close to her and he is not ready to leave and I’m hoping he will join us next year. My wife is survivor of childhood sexual abuse when she was 8 years old and I was the first person she told in 2017 after keeping the secret for 35 years. We had been married 15 years before she told me. Our first 10 years together was great after wedding in 2002 and then she had her first panic attack in 2012 which was followed by big decline with anxiety and she stopped going out in 2015 and retreated into our family home and declined further with very heavy alcohol relief in 2017 which peaked at 3.5L cask wine per day and BAC 0.39 when we tried visits to hospital for help. She also tried to end her life and we were lucky that I was nearby to intervene and then she had alcohol detox in Dec 2017 and she didn’t have a drink for 4 years. The next big test was the boys and they headed down a road of big disconnection with the outside world and retreat into our home due to severe anxiety. The Long Shadow refers to the reach of the perpetrators far into the future and the impacts that can happen long after the violaton of the child. I’m heading towards a divorce next year and the cost will be our marriage for setting my boys free to live the life that is waiting for them in the outside world. It has been a very difficult road and it is still unfolding and I’m hoping to come out the other side to a better place with some sun and blue skies.

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  • Author
  • #26865

    Dear Paul66,

    I’m so terribly sorry for everything you are going through. You’ve rightly titled your post The Long Shadow. It is a harsh, heartbreaking truth, and I can’t imagine the depth of pain and helplessness each of you must be experiencing.

    When terrifying things happen to us, we have to find ways to cope. Our coping strategies can either be life-destroying, or life-affirming. Left to our own devices, we almost instinctively resort to life-destroying choices like alcohol; we have to be taught life-affirming choices which usually happens if we are open to seeking help. My heart goes out to your wife, but the bitter truth is, each adult has the right to make their own choices. We cannot force another adult to seek help, no matter how much we may love them.

    It’s clear from your words you’re a dedicated husband and father. I empathize with the ordeal you are enduring in prioritizing one role over the other, in choosing your sons’ futures over your marriage.

    It is absolutely a difficult road, and I thank you for your courage in opening up and sharing your story at this point. I encourage each of you to seek out those life-affirming coping strategies as you walk this path, remembering that you don’t have to walk it alone. There are a number of organizations that may be helpful to you besides Griefline, like Lifeline, Beyond Blue, Blue Knot (for complex trauma recovery), and for your youngest son, Kids Helpline.

    Within Griefline, the website is a wealth of resources and information, especially around self-care. I’d also encourage you to reach out and speak with someone when you feel up to it, either through the Helpline or the Booked Call service. It can be helpful to have that compassionate listening ear.

    Please do let us know how you are getting on. Wishing you strength and comfort, Sal.


    Hi Sal,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I’ve been seeing a very good trauma counsellor since Nov last year.

    The boys have also tried a good trauma counsellor but did not respond while they were living at home.

    I have tried Royal Childrens Hospital and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

    The only thing that has helped with the 19 year old was leaving the family home.

    He needed to be unplugged from Mum who did not want to talk and did not want to change.

    This is her decision and she wanted to take a different path and I had to find a way to accept this and let go.

    I have been going to D&A Family Support Group since 2017.

    I have read 8 books on trauma and my favourite was ‘The Body Keeps The Score’ by Bessel Van Der Kolk.

    I bought online ticket for the International Trauma Conference in Boston in May and they had very interesting guest speakers.

    I have tried kinesiology and reiki massage and yoga and exercises for somatic healing.

    It has been a mix of different things over the last 18 months that has helped me go in a better direction with my mental health and well being.

    My wonderful boys are my big inspiration and motivation.


    Hi @paul66 It’s truly commendable to see how proactive you’ve been in addressing your mental health and the complex challenges you’ve faced. Navigating these situations requires immense resilience, and it sounds like you’ve been very resourceful, seeking out various forms of support and education. ‘The Body Keeps The Score’ is indeed a profound book that offers deep insights into trauma. I hope the conference in Boston is as insightful and can provide for you the information and comfort you may need.

    As you continue on this path, you might find it enriching to connect with communities that share your dedication to healing. Maintaining the variety in your therapeutic approaches, such as kinesiology, reiki, yoga, and other exercises, is excellent as different methods resonate differently with each individual. I hope you find the best one that works for you. Your dedication to your well-being is inspiring, and I hope you continue to find peace and strength in your journey. I also wish the best for your sons and their healing journey; I am sure they are just as inspired to have you as a dad to look up to.

    Thank you for sharing, please keep using this forum, we are all here to support you.

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