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I killed Mr. Johnson when I was 11-years old
December 11, 2006
5:49 am
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chicobrisbane
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In 1975 when I was 11 years old there was an old man named Mr. Johnson that lived in the cul-de-sac of our street and all of the boys hated him because he hated us. But I remember how nice he was when I was younger. When I was 7 he even helped me take the training wheels off of my bike so that I could surprise me dad when he came pulling around the corner onto our street after work. But once I was 10 or so, I was just another snot nose kid like the rest.

As I said in the start, one day when I was 11 Mr. Johnson came tearing down the street and we pulled out net out of the rode just in the nick of time before he turned right into his driveway. About 10 minutes later, another kid noticed that Old Man Johnson was still sitting in his car with his foot on the brake. No body dared to go over there but I did, and when I got there he was as white as a sheet and he touched my hand as it rested on the window ledge of the door. He was gasping and I clearly heard him whisper that he needed help. I smiled and went back to the game in progress and simply told me friends that old man Johnson said that he was listening to the radio.

As it got dark we all had to get home and I remember looked back as I was about to step up onto my front lawn how bright his tail light where now that it was getting dark. About a half hour as my mom, dad, sister and I where sitting at the dinner table, we heard fire trucks sirens off in distance getting closer until they turned up our street. It was always a big deal when that happened because everyone know everyone on our street. My mom whet into her “Mercy sakes alive! – What on earth is going on?” routine as my family rushed out of the house to the end of the drive way. There was the brake lights on Old Man Johnsons car brighter then ever, but know steam was billowing out form under the hood. The fire truckes hadn't even reached his house yet as they looked at the house numbers.

“My God! – Whats going on?” My mom said.

“Old Man Johnson is dead.” I said and then turned and started walking back into the house. My mom was shocked and asked where I thought I was going and I said that I was going to finish dinner before it got cold. I wasn’t actually sure at that point that Mr. Johnson was dead, but when I head my mother scream out in the front yard, I knew some other busy body from down the street had come to confirm that Old Man Johnson was in fact as dead as a door nail.

I realized at least 20 years ago that at the moment I stood on the front lawn and said that Mr. Johnson was dead. I took whatever guilt a normal kid should’ve felt and just left it right there. Like the guilt was a heavy rock in my pocket. Much too heavy for me to carry so I just pulled it out and dropped on the grass before walking back into the house to eat my dinner.

Well guess what? – I’m 42-years now and the guilt has showed up a few months ago and it’s something that I can’t even describe. I killed this man! – For nearly 3 hours he sat there waiting for the help that he asked me to go and get, and it never came. Because I had no intention of getting it. I was going to teach that grouchy son-of-a-bitch a lesson. I’m wondering if someone else has done something as a child that should have created a guilty emotion right then but didn't until they where an adult.

Any thoughts>

December 11, 2006
7:02 am
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Robert123
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Hey Chico, I do remember a situation when I was perhaps 10 or so. It was a little different from yours. A man from my church was visiting my dads auto body repair shop. This guy said something to me though that really hurt my feelings. I remember the pain and sadness and the anger I felt towards him. I had so much anger that I wished he were dead. Not long after that he did die. He was the passenger in a pickup that his wife was driving, she hit a guard rail and it came thru the windshield of the truck and decapitated him. I felt very powerful at first,(I taught him not to mess with me) ...then a bit guilty.(Why did I cause that?) Now I realize I didn't cause his death and have no guilt over this childhood experience.
In your situation, you were a child doing child-like things and this situation was dumped on you. How do you know the guy didn't die 5 seconds after you walked away? He may have even died if someone had called an ambulance. You continue to believe he sat in his car and suffered all because of you. Chico its time to forgive that 11y/o child in you. I just imagine if this were to happen today your reponse would be much different. That is the difference between an adult and a child.

December 11, 2006
7:03 am
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mj
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I highly recommend professional counseling to help you deal with this Chicobisbrane.

I am not a professional but what you just posted about your life is very complicated.

You were 11. Old enough to know what you were doing by not doing anything to help a grouchy neighbor.

What did you mom say to you? She must have known you knew he was dying. Its hard to know how to respond. Sometimes guilt helps us take responsibility for our part in life.

When I was 8, I threw rocks at my cousins grouchy neighbors roof because she was mean. We went to visit and she kicked us out. I don't know if the emotion you were experiencing were similiar to mine at that time but I can imagine, knowing that you could save another human being and not doing anything would elicit a strong guilt.

Have you spoke to a professional about this?

December 11, 2006
9:01 am
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caraway
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chico,

I have read your post several times and agree with Robert in that you need to see a professional.

Cary

December 11, 2006
9:07 am
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risingfromtheashes
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I agree that a counselor may help you thru this guilt.

When I was 13, my grandpa went on a rampage and started beating my grandma because he caught her sneaking a beer in her room.

well, I was in the living room when it happened. I was bigger and stronger than he was, and could have helped, but instead, I ran....as fast as I could.

I was scared.

I had some guilt about it...maybe I could have stopped him?

I went to therapy and got it all out and accepted that I was a kid, and I was scared, and that was ok...that getting in the middle of it may have been the worst thing to do and there was no way to tell what may have happened if I did.

The mind of a child is not developed enough to cope with these types of situations...and I could easily tell you to just stop feeling guilty...I think the guilt is big enough to warrant a therapist to get you thru it.

December 11, 2006
9:14 am
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snowlover
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I hesitate to comment here, but i feel compelled.

Perhaps I am heartless, but the major issues i have with this situation are the smile on your face when he asked you for help, and then continuing to play as if nothing happened. And then the very casual comment to your Mother about him being dead and going back inside to eat your dinner. And then, your comment which read:

"I knew some other busy body from down the street had come to confirm that Old Man Johnson was in fact as dead as a door nail."

I still dont see any real empathy for this situation in any way. many people have commented about situations they had in their childhood, but they are very different from what you have described.

I guess i also cant believe that im the only person here who sees this as something VERY wrong on a lot of levels.

Snow

December 11, 2006
10:33 am
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MissNhimnotWantN2
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I am confused as to what happened to him. Did he hit something in his car? Or did he just pull in his driveway and die?

December 11, 2006
11:28 am
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Notsure
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Well I don;t know if "you killed Mr Johnson" but you were old enough to know that he needed help.

You also showed no remorse or but did have comprehension of the gravity.

Perhaps by helping him, Johnson might have removed some of that grouchyness that you felt he had toward the kids.

I agree with Snowlover on this one.

I also suggest that you get some counselling though suspect that they will shun personal accountability because eyou were a child.

Regards. Notsure

December 11, 2006
11:43 am
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"I’m 42-years now and the guilt has showed up a few months ago and it’s something that I can’t even describe. ... I’m wondering if someone else has done something as a child that should have created a guilty emotion right then but didn't until they where an adult."

Do you have any idea what happened in your life to make the guilt finally catch up with you? How did you feel in the 30 years between that incident and when the guilt recently showed up?

Maybe you will get something from hearing any kind of similar story anyone here might be able to tell... but I agree with other posters that talking to a professional is probably the best way for you to go. I hope you can find the help you need.

December 11, 2006
12:20 pm
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gracenotes
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Chico,

Is this something you have kept to yourself all these years? Or, is this the first time that you have ever let anyone know your interpretation of what happened and how you feel about this? Do your parents know?

That was brave of you to post this here. I agree with the other folks here that it would be good for you to go see a counselor, to talk to a non-judgmental counselor out loud, in person, discuss what happened, and do some work on forgiving yourself.

Your eleven year old mind really does, I think, believe that you killed him. Maybe your eleven year old mind believes you should be hauled off to jail too. That's not really the truth, but that's how an eleven year old would think. You were a child at the time, and that was a big judgment call to make that no child that age would not have the ability to make on their own. This is a big big burden to carry inside. I honor you talking about this here, but please also go talk to a professional in person. There has to be a way to get some closure on this. Take care.

December 11, 2006
12:29 pm
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lollipop3
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Hi Chico,

I agree with the others that you may wish to pursue professional help.

Although I do not believe that you "killed" Mr.Johnson, I can see why you would feel guilt over this situation.

I also have to agree with Snow that your lack of empathy, not just in this thread but in comments that you have made in other threads as well, is troubling to me.

Good luck,
Lolli

December 11, 2006
9:34 pm
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chicobrisbane
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I hadn't even thought of the incident until this past July when my nephew asked me to take the training wheels off of his bike. He asked me while I was standing in my sisters garage which is where Mr. Johnson was when I rode my bike up his driveway. The second that I made the first turn of the monkey wrench on that bolt, the memory came back in an instant as if it where yesterday. Through a search of death records, Mr. Johnson was 82 years old when he died of natural causes. What haunts me the most is if he looked into his rearview mirror and saw that I went right back to playing. If he did, what was thinking?

My parents did ask how I knew that he was dead since the fire truck and rescue squad where still 5 or 6 houses away when I made the comment.

Even at his funeral, I felt nothing because I truly, truly, left it all right there in my front yard as I described. I did it knowingly because it was what supressed my urge to cry.

I felt it coming and somthing inside of me said "Oh now you don't - Not over that mean old son-of-a-bitch!" and that was that! - I washed my hands, mind, body, and sole of everything about the incident. Once a new family moved into that house. Mr. Johnson never entered my mind for the next 32 years.

Here's the kicker! - I blame an 8 boy for all of this. Not me, but my nephew for asking me to take off his training wheels. I can't even look at him, I have not been back to my sisters house since July and make excuses when he asked to speak with his Uncle Chuck on the phone. "Oh gotta go sis!" I'll say and then hang up before he can get on the phone. I can say with absolute certainty that I hate that little bastard for doing this to me and would be content to never lay eyes on him for the remainder of my life. Or his, which ever comes first. I will leave it at that because to say more would be really, really, really, bad.

It's to the point now that everywhere I go I see bike with training wheels, 1969 Cadillacs or similar cars to Mr Johnson, Old men with a tiny sogy cigar hanging out of their mouths, People named Johnson, Johnson St, Ave. Whatever! - It like the Twilight Zone and I've just about enough of it.

December 11, 2006
10:18 pm
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loverbee
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You should not be blaming your nephew for this. I think that is terrible for you to call him a little bastard and although I don't know what you are going through, you need to own up and take responsibility for this guilt. You feel it because of your actions not because of the fact that your nephew asked you to take off his training wheels. If you were driving and weren't paying attention and hit somebody with your car which made you late to work, would you blame them for you being late to work even though you were the one not paying attention. Just remember, the kid is 8. He had nothing to do with this. If you don't like the guilt, do something about it. Go see a counsler or something but don't blame innocent people.

December 11, 2006
10:38 pm
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Jenni
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I have to agree with LB, here. As awful as this tragedy was, I can not fathom HOW this got dropped on an 8 year old boy who didn't even exist at the time of this incident. This absolutely was not his fault, and he should not feel your guilt for something he has no knowledge of.

It was already apparent that you need some help to work through this, but after reading that last piece about your nephew, I think the sooner you do get help, the better. It's one thing to feel guilt. But it's another when other, innocent people, (especially children), have to pay the price for it.

Good luck.

December 12, 2006
12:34 am
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hbdude2k
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OMG! That first post from you was an awesome story chico. If I was at that age, I probably would have done the same thing because he was a hurtful old man and that totally brought down your self confidence. You said the same thing I would have thought "I was going to teach that SOB a lesson"!! That is exactly how I would have done it. Its the codependency thing back then...when you were a child.

December 12, 2006
1:04 am
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turnabout
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Wow, chico, it sounds like you've BECOME Mr. Johnson.

December 12, 2006
1:48 am
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Devon
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Chico,

I don't think most 11 year olds have a true concept of death. This is why they are not tried as adults in murder cases in court. You weren't "awake" yet...and your mind was simpler then. All you knew was that he turned mean on you for no reason and that hurt your feelings. You wanted to get him back. Like a kid does. No other time in your life I can bet were the consequences of your retaliation so permanent.

Mr. Johnson probably died of a heart attack, by the description you give here. I am a medical professional and I know that, even if you had called the ambulance and gotten him help, he still may not have survived. Especially in 1975...we barely had advanced cardiac life support then. Not like we have today...and he was really old...82...the treatment could have killed him as well with all of everyone's best efforts.

I have a guilt story, myself...that I will share. My younger sister and I were raised on the street with our hippie mother. By the time we started high school, my sister was heavily into the drug scene and I was an honor student. We stopped being best friends then. I kept trying to rescue her for the next 20 years. She would beg for help and then laugh me off when things looked better for her...and I kept on helping, thinking that maybe THIS time things would be different. She had a baby son with a drug abusing jail bird. She would be smoking her cigarettes and drinking beer while asking me to drive to her house (20 miles away) to "lend" her $20 to buy diapers for her baby. Now what kind of horrible aunt would deny her nephew clean diapers?

Eventually, my sister left that man as I had cajoled her to...and started a new life with our father's help. We were not raised by our father and had not seen him for years...so this was a big thing for him to take on. His wife was mostly at the forefront of this decision. How can you deny your kids? she would ask. She assumed that he and she were the same with their kids.

Well...my sister fell in with one idiot (just like the first one) after the other...living on welfare and constantly needing dad or me to bail her out of many things...mostly financially. Sometimes it was unpaid traffic violations she was being held at the police station until they were paid...! Dad paid them. We were saving her son from the terrible future that he would have if he had had much more influence from his father.

Well...this baby son was a "failure to thrive" baby who was developmentally years behind his same age kids. He had no limits given him...and his dad taught him to grab his crotch for family pictures...which he did every single time a picture was taken...even years after he was away from his father. At 5 years old, he and his mom had been kicked out of apartments because he did too much damage to property.

My sister eventually developed cancer and died. In her death bed, she was sweet again, like I recall she was when we were little. She made me promise to raise her boy....

During the funeral, he ran through the aisles yelling "I wanna be buried!!!" All of the church ladies all felt sorry for him and showered gifts all over him for about a week...then there was no one in sight when real life began.

The boy learned to use his misfortune to turn things around for himself when he was about to get into trouble. This became a pattern. No one knows what its like to be the sad man...behind blue eyes. As this kid got older, my dad insisted on raising him because dad decided that women were horrible people...long story, other issues of his.

I had no problem with this...except dad's wife kept calling me to find out when I was coming to get this kid. She'd had enough of his tearing up the house and getting in trouble with the law for...vandalism...shoplifting...etc.

By 7, the boy made his first suicide attempt...saying that he wanted to be with his mom. He spent the summer in a locked unit. He came out worse than he went in. Every day was struggle after struggle. He would constantly and deliberately do things to make people mad.

I spoke to dad and his wife and offered to pay for counseling and special tutoring for school for my nephew. It was OK as long as my step mother was doing all of the driving and work to get him there...but when she came down with a really bad case of lupus, dad was the only one left to do it all...so he wasn't gonna do it...and he wasn't going to tell me. He just let me keep paying for the services without them using them. I found out and stopped paying. I tried to talk, email, write to my dad and he was a stone wall. So I let it go.

I got a voice mail message from my half brother telling me dad is in the hospital and he may not make it. I think about what I will do.

I had a very hard life until I grew up. I earned everything I am...and have...and I am doing well. I do not deserve this. I decide not to respond. He did not call me...he had his son leave me a voice mail message. (There were also times past when my mother died and I spent months in the hospital with cancer myself that he did not respond to me.) I let it go.

Then I got another phone call months later: Dad's wife died. The son made the call like last time...and left a message on the voice mail for me...saying he knows that dad and I are not speaking and didn't know "what was up with that but..." he's just letting me know. Click.

I sat for hours after that call. Will I be a heartless bitch and not call...again...or will I succumb to this game? Yes, it is a dirty game. We have been playing it for nearly 50 years. I forgot how cruel it was...until then. It is the aloof dad and the daughter that has to beg for his love game. He was stingy with his love. You never want to waste it on a daughter...he would actually SAY this!

My nephew is 15 now...and reads at the 2nd grade level. He has been in and out of jail for many things. Just like his dad. He is following the pathway to becoming an antisocial personality. He has no conscience. He is in the 7th grade...!

I decided to be a bitch and not reply. I did send a short sympathy card to the household.

After that, I just kicked myself around the room for all of the time and energy I spent trying to make life better for my family. They had NO INTEREST in making their lives better and they made fun of me for trying. I was the family joke.

I wish I had just let it all fall around me 30 years ago...when I was getting old enough to be on my own. I kidded myself into thinking that I was such an important person to this family!

After kicking myself around the room, I gave myself a hug and went back to school...like I should have done 30 years ago. I am working on my doctorate degree now. Damn. I am the only one in my family with college education. I bought my first house. I enjoy my own company. I have friends and lovers that I enjoy being around. I am open and honest...I never worry about where my rent will come from anymore. I look better than I ever did in my life.

When I drive the luxury car that I bought with the money my grandmother left me a few years back, I feel like a complete Babe In Total Control of the Highway...!

I am a B.I.T.C.H.!

December 12, 2006
1:51 am
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gracenotes
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chico,

A long time ago you stated that you left it in your front yard and suppressed your urge to cry, washed yourself of this incident. No, I don't think you have at all. I think you were severely traumatized by this a long time ago, totally suppressed it, and are just now beginning to deal with some very important stuff.

I think this undealt with stuff is running your life and probably in ways you cannot even imagine until you deal with this, causing you to be very much out touch with yourself, and you are projecting this undealt with stuff on an 8 year old and probably others, seeing meaning related to this event everywhere, in old '69 cadillacs, cigars, people named Johnson. You certainly have not washed your mind, body, and soul clean of this incident. That wss only a quick fix from a long time ago. I think you are just beginning to deal with this incident that you were probably too traumatized to deal with for the last 30 plus years. There is help for you with a good counselor.

December 12, 2006
8:41 am
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Robert123
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Whoa chico, you are way out of line by saying...

"Here's the kicker! - I blame an 8 boy for all of this. Not me, but my nephew for asking me to take off his training wheels."

"I can say with absolute certainty that I hate that little bastard for doing this to me and would be content to never lay eyes on him for the remainder of my life. Or his, which ever comes first. I will leave it at that because to say more would be really, really, really, bad."

You are blaming your 8 year old nephew for this ???

ARE YOU SERIOUS?!!!

If what you're saying here is truely how you feel then I'm not sure counseling will help.
Yes, please, stay away from your nephew.

What did you mean by?...

"for the remainder of my life. Or his, which ever comes first. I will leave it at that because to say more would be really, really, really, bad."

This sounds rather ominous chico.

December 12, 2006
1:03 pm
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jastypes
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Not sure of your spiritual status, but if you believe in God, you need to turn to Him and confess it. Then accept His forgiveness so you can be free and move on.

There are no making amends in this situation.

December 12, 2006
1:08 pm
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MissNhimnotWantN2
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Hallelujah!!!

December 12, 2006
1:22 pm
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ScaredinMichigan
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This whole situation is a mess.

I felt for you with the original situation. I can't imagine. However, now you are blaming an INNOCENT 8 year old child who was not even a twinkle in his parents eyes at the time. If you feel so guilty over this, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Something does not constitute ruining another childs life with it. This child obviously loves and cares for you. And you are blaming him for something that he could have NEVER controlled. It isn't like he knew what happened. You need to deal with this issue, and I hope that you do. In the meantime, STAY AWAY FROM THIS CHILD. I too, would be interested in knowing what this is supposed to mean....

"I can say with absolute certainty that I hate that little bastard for doing this to me and would be content to never lay eyes on him for the remainder of my life. Or his, which ever comes first. I will leave it at that because to say more would be really, really, really, bad."

Are you saying that you feel almost violent towards this child? You are pushing an idea that you may need to try something in-patient here if you are going this crazy over this situation. I understood your feelings of guilt, but I cannot comprehend the reason behind your blame to the nephew. How sad for him. It is a sad thing to live a childhood being blamed for something that you had NO control over. it truly saddens me for him. I was almost feeling sorry that you had to face all of these feelings of guilt and such, but now I am ticked to see you blaming an innocent child.

I do truly hope that you get the help that you need.

Mich

December 12, 2006
2:23 pm
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lovetocrochet
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Chico,

I'm not sure there's a lot of hope for you. You claim to feel guilt and then you blame an 8 year old nephew for remembering, and having to feel anything about it at all.

I also feel a bit creeped out at the way you described what happened. That doesn't sound like the recall of a childhood event that gives you remorse.

I'll be blunt. You either have a hell of a lot of misplaced anger, or you're a sociopath who doesn't like his conscience being challenged. Only you can figure out the answer with the help of a qualified professional... something I'd strongly recommend.

Either way, please yes do a favor to your nephew and stay away from him. He doesn't need your poison.

December 12, 2006
2:24 pm
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site coordinator
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Hey Folks.

I really want to step in, and bring up some general suggestions for the entire site, not only this thread.

I think this thread & another thread titled something about Controlling a Boyfriend (started by Rasputin I think) are good examples of what I would like to bring up.

My Feedback: In order for us to be able to initiate real change and self discovery, and eventually grow, we each need to understand the beginnings of our own problems. Only WE know our OWN problems... this site is about reaching our inner personal selves, not about us reaching others. We each need to reach ouselves, it's not our job to inflict our judgments or perceptions onto others. Please, let's help others to reach into themselves, on their own, and on their own terms.

People have their own answers. People usually are able to unlock their own problems when given GENTLE guidance and GENTLE questions. And sometimes, some GENTLE correction. And of course, a little support & credit for willingness to talk about what's bothering us. Treat other people's "problems/issues" with even GREATER CARE than you would give to your own. Be respectful & give breathing room.

Lately on the threads, I've been hearing a good deal of harsh criticism, finger pointing, and judging. And just general head-butting (repeated points of view that are differing). None of these are helpful. None.

To HELP chico and to HELP his 8 year old nephew, we need not judge chico for what he did when he was 11, or judge him for his current misdirected feelings toward his nephew.

What we can do, is use some gentle guidance to figure out what's inside chico. Ask him.

Ask him, "Can you think of why you may be feeling blame towards your 8 year old nephew? I think it's a misdirected feeling. Are you maybe angry at yourself and it's being directed at him? Can you explain more what you mean by 'blame'?"

Please folks... the site is about ourselves, not what we can teach others. Please help others to help themselves.

Thanks... Peace & Love.

December 12, 2006
3:20 pm
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Chellis
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Chico:

If, indeed, feelings have begun to surface around this incident it can mean that you are equipped to handle the healing process. Professional support may be helpful.

Best to you.

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