After I posted the letter to K last night, I was emotionally exhausted. It was the first time I read the letter in its entirety, and the emotions I had experienced during the last three days of writing it had hit me all at once. I wanted to write more, I wanted to explain, but I couldn’t. I ended up crying myself to sleep, hoping that would be the last time that I had to feel it. But it wasn’t.
I didn’t want to write a letter at all. How do I write to a stranger? How do I write to someone who I’m not even sure is there? I didn’t even really want to talk about K, let alone write a letter to her. But my therapist encouraged me to think about writing a letter to K after session last week, and since my therapist has yet to steer me in the wrong direction, I followed her suggestion.
I’ve had such a disconnect from K for so long, partly to protect myself, and partly because of the guilt I felt about her absence. Her loss is connected with one of the worst experiences in my life, an experience I end up reliving each time I think about her and what she went through.
I never knew K. She took care of my parts before I knew I had parts. She was there, protecting me and the others, as I spent my younger years in blissful ignorance of my DID. K was the reason I made it through childhood.
But then K went away, on the night my father attacked me, the night I got beaten for being depressed. I don’t know all that happened. I still only remember small parts of that night. But I do know that’s when everything changed. That’s when the voices started. That’s when Charlie came to be. That’s when my life became chaos.
I learned who K was over the years, and I was able to put all of the pieces of who she was together. I missed her. I never knew her, but I missed what she did for me. My life before that night was vastly different from my life after. The difference was her.
I also felt an immense sense of guilt. She disappeared because of me. I couldn’t fight back my father. I couldn’t stand up for myself. I wasn’t strong enough, and I let her take all of the pain. I don’t even know what happened. That’s the frustrating part. I don’t even know why she had to go away.
I just know that, if that night never happened, K would still be here. If I just fought my father back, K would still be here. If I would have just acted normal, K would still be here. If I hadn’t been depressed, K would still be here. K is gone because of me.
It’s why I never talk about her much. I feel at fault. She existed because of me. She left because of me. Why couldn’t I just be better, stronger, and more courageous? Why did I have to be so weak?
As I started writing the letter, all I could think about was how sorry I was. I was sorry she had to exist. I was sorry she had to work so hard to protect us. I was sorry she had to endure something so horrible that she had to go away. I was overcome with so much guilt that I couldn’t see anything else. The first sentence I wrote down was not a “hello” or “thank you”. It was “I’m so sorry.”
It took me three days to finish that letter. The emotions were so overwhelming for me that I had to step away several times so I wouldn’t break down completely. I felt sadness. I felt guilt and shame. I felt a sense of loss over someone I didn’t even know was there. I felt for my parts, too. They lost a mother. Really, they lost two mothers; one I caused to go away and one I took us away from.
I thought I had got it all out. I thought that once I wrote those words down, the feelings and emotions would disappear. But they didn’t. As much as I wanted to read the letter to my therapist, I worried that speaking it out loud would make the feelings all come back. And they did come back, stronger than ever. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Confusion. Loss. Hurt. Pain. I cried for her. I cried for my parts. I cried for me.
I didn’t understand why she left us. Why did she have to go?
I still need her. I can’t be her. I can’t love. I can’t nurture. I can’t be caring. I can’t protect anyone. I’m not K. My therapist says that I am all of those things. Those qualities were K, but they are me, too; they always have been. But I just can’t see it.
K was all of those good things. K got hurt and went away. I am not any of those good things. I wasn’t the one who got hurt.
K is not me, and I am not K.
I can’t be.
3 thoughts on “Dear K Explained”
It’s hard to respond to this, because there is so much heavy emotion in it. I hear you saying that you feel you abandoned yourself because you didn’t fight back against your dad, and you are carrying a sense of guilt for that. I see how you might tell yourself that story. It was also a way for you, at the time, to minimize your father’s guilt. But the truth is, he is the one who abandoned you with that beating. Whether your fought back or not, it wasn’t right. I know something about this, having experienced a pretty brutal night of being physically and sexually tormented. I spent years blaming myself because I probably could have gotten away earlier in the evening but didn’t. My therapist helped me see, however, how a long series of earlier experiences combined to put me in a position where escape or resistance were really unlikely options for me. I know the same is true for you. Are we really meant to hate ourselves because the impact of prior abuse made us susceptible to additional abuse?
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It’s frustrating because part of me knows that fighting back would have made it worse, that It was better that I took it all without defending. But I still circle back to the guilt. I imagine how things could have been better while ignoring how it all could have been much worse.
We shouldn’t hate ourselves, you’re right. I just wish it wasn’t so automatic sometimes.
This has taken me a while, for sure, but I do feel that over the past year and a half, I’ve come to hate myself much less. It’s taken a lot of letters to different parts of myself and effort to rouse empathy for younger versions of myself. Sometimes I still need help with this, so I know it’s not something that you can just get over. But it does change with time.
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