I write this so that I don’t feel like I’m avoiding the truth. Or that I’m not dedicated to getting through this. I am. I have been avoiding it though because it stirs up anger and sadness that I have no way to release. Emotions that I have long ago buried and do not need nor want to resurface now. I will not write about the childhood I wish I could have had because it makes me feel angry and cheated. It fuels an anger inside me that cannot be released and there is nothing that can be said or done to repair the damage done.
But if I had a way to go back in time I would want to give my younger self this letter.
I would tell her that her silence would eat her alive. It would strip away every layer of her uniqueness, until she fit a mold that she would not recognize and later her body would reject from shock. If I could speak to her I would give her the space to lash out, to be angry, and yell and demand that she be treated better. I would have been the adult I would have wanted to protect me.
I would have told my younger self that it’s not her fault for waiting to speak out and it’s not her fault that she trusted to go into that room that night. I would tell her she would feel guilty for not crying for every awful thing that happened to that man. Then I would tell her that the tears she didn’t cry don’t make her a bad person that there was no reason she needed to show emotion for him.
I would tell her that not all men cheat, not all men lie, not all men want to take advantage of you. I would tell her that there would be many that would try again but that the spirit of that little girl has a right to be protected and that she didn’t need to blind her trust or assume that everyone wanted the worst. I would give her space to be a child, instead of having it ripped away before she had the words for what happened to her.
I would tell her that when she finally found the words sexually molested, incest and sexual abuse they would forever turn her stomach in knots and disgust every time they were uttered or thought. I would tell her that it would make her feel dirty, shame, damaged, dammed and alone.
I would tell her she would hold out hope that by some miracle this wasn’t her blood. This wasn’t her family, because how could someone that claimed loved you so much cause this much damage?
I would tell her you will try to understand, try for years to forgive, but you cannot forgive those who do not want to be forgiven.
I would tell her she will seek out an apology, but it will never come. Not from that man, not from those who didn’t protect her. The apology will not come. She will struggle to move on because she doesn’t know how to forgive if those who failed her don’t think they did anything wrong. She will take on all the guilt they should have felt, feeling that she is unworthy of respect and love.
I would tell her that people would force her to stay quiet, because it made them uncomfortable. I would tell her to not stop speaking out because had she stayed quiet there may have been more victims. I would tell her that she did the right thing.
I would tell her it would take many years to feel like the universe paid that man what he deserved.
I would tell her that just because that man failed her it had nothing to do with her and that she didn’t need to spend her whole teenage years and college years looking for the man to replace the deficit she had. She doesn’t need someone to show her how a man should treat a woman. Because all she needs is how a human should treat a human and although it will take many years she will find people who are truly compassionate and treat her with care, honesty and a sincerity that she won’t know for many years how to replicate.
I will tell her that she will have a hard time sympathizing with people. That she numbed herself so much from pain that she won’t know how to be a shoulder to someone else when they’re suffering. I will tell her that the only way to let go of this numbness is through the storm. To scream, to cry, to be angry, to laugh, to smile. To allow herself to feel pain, while admiring every piece of beauty and blessing granted in her life.
I would tell her that the memories will always come back. They never go away, no matter where you go, or who you date, or what you do, the memories resurface. And because of that I would tell her to be strong, to keep seeking out God’s help when there is no one else that will listen.
I would tell her to feel worthy of following a passion, because life is short and it’s only worth it if you make some good memories with good people along the way.
I would tell her that she’s not dirty and she’s not unworthy. I would tell her that she’s beautiful and smart, and fun and dorky all at once. I would tell her that she will overcome because her past is not what defines her. She will overcome because her character is what defines her. And although her character will waver because she is human she will remember who she is and get back on track, every time.
I would tell her I am proud of her for always believing other victims. When you spoke out your experience was made less than what it was but you did not do the same to others.
I would tell her that she will never be ready to tell this story. But people need to be told that it is not their fault. They need to be told they are worthy of so much more, and if no has told you than I am telling you. You. Are. Worthy.