Dear Amy: I had a horrific childhood with an alcoholic, violent father who physically beat my mother, sisters and me on a regular basis. l would get so scared I would literally pee in my pants during the beatings because I thought that he would kill me, or them — it was that bad.
When I was 9, the sexual abuse started. No one protected me.
To make matters worse, when I started the fifth grade, there was a girl who bullied me consistently, and beat me up a couple of times. She made my days hellish.
I recently found her on Facebook under a different (married) name.
I am told she is a nice person now, but I wouldn't know, because our paths haven't crossed since the end of fifth grade.
I feel such rage when I see her picture. I want to contact her and let her know about my home life and how horrible she made me feel for an entire school year.
I want to say that I never forgot her cruelty and that I am now a grown, successful woman who would "kick her behind" if I ever saw her.
She caused me so much pain, it is only fair that she suffers for what she did to me. Unfortunately, I start getting anxious. I revert back to the child that was terrified of the bully, and my monster father.
My father died suddenly, so I never got the chance to stand up to him.
I don't know if I am a coward or being kind to myself by letting sleeping dogs lie.
I would appreciate your words of wisdom. — Survivor
Dear Survivor: You were victimized by unspeakable abuse during childhood. Your survival is a triumph.
"Letting sleeping dogs lie" is not the answer for you, because, for you, the dogs never sleep. These memories still pace and stalk and threaten to pounce.
You need to deal with your rage. Vengeance doesn't quiet rage ... it stokes it. You deserve (and would be well-served by) professional help with a trauma specialist to continue to recover from years of childhood abuse.
Children who bully and violate other children are often re-enacting and expressing their own rage. Unless she is a genuinely deranged psychopath (a true rarity), I suggest that the monster who bullied you in school was most likely also a wounded, desperate, degraded child whose twisted instinct was to target the only person she saw who was perhaps more wounded and vulnerable than she.
You are still too close to this, and too triggered, to feel compassion for her.
It might seem like cliche, but you truly need to tend to, love, and honor both sides of yourself: the terrified and victimized child, and the fierce and angry survivor.
Becoming a warrior does not mean that you victimize other people, but that you stand up for yourself (and others) bravely and with honesty and integrity.
When you are ready, you could contact this woman to speak your own truth without threatening her, but you're not there yet.
Until then, disengage from her on social media and continue to work on your own recovery.
Dear Amy: You frequently mention therapy or finding a therapist in your columns. Could you offer some advice in a future column of how to go about this?
I lucked into a great therapist years ago, but she moved away. Since then, I've tried half a dozen therapists and haven't found one who I click with or who works for my schedule.
I've given up on therapy because starting with a new therapist is arduous and I've been burned before.
I wonder if others are in a similar position. Your advice? — C
Dear C: The American Psychological Association offers a helpful database for finding therapists on their website: apa.org (search "psychologist locator"). You can type in your ZIP code and nearby therapists are located with their specialties noted, and the forms of insurance they accept.
Many therapists will connect with clients virtually, using telepsychology. Even though your previous "good fit" therapist has moved away, she might be happy to provide Skype sessions.
Dear Amy: I have an idea that might help relationships in this divided age.
Each person should watch one hour of the other person's news program (of that person's choosing) each day.
What do you think? — Balanced Perspective
Dear Balanced: Yes, this might help. It might also make both sides of this divide want to set their collective hair on fire.