Letter to My Younger Self

Dear younger self,

I’m so sorry for all the feelings you’ve been having all this time. I’m sorry no one listened to you. It must have been so hard to keep it all inside. But I want you to know now that it’s okay to feel. You deserve to have feelings. Your feelings are valid, and they are yours. No one can take them from you anymore.

It’s okay to feel confused. Mommies and daddies aren’t supposed to hurt their children. There’s nothing wrong with you. There never was. Mommy and daddy told you that so they could keep hurting you. It was all lies.  I’m so sorry they confused you. You may never understand why all those times, daddy chose to hold your hand instead of pushing hers away. He was wrong. She was wrong. But you were not wrong. You were just a child.

It’s okay to feel afraid. Instead of fearing monsters, you feared mom and dad. It must have been so scary for you. You had nowhere to hide. I’m so sorry you had to live in constant fear. But you were always so strong, even when you felt afraid. You are one brave little girl.

It’s okay to feel scared. Mommy and daddy made you believe that the world was scary and full of bad people who were going to hurt you. That wasn’t the truth. That’s what mommy and daddy told you to make you stay. The real scary place was home, and the scariest people were mommy and daddy. I’m sorry you feel so scared. It’s not fair. You don’t ever have to go back home again.

I know you feel empty. Mommy and daddy made you believe that you had no purpose, that you were worthless. That must have hurt your heart so much. I’m so sorry for your pain. But the truth is, there are so many good things inside of you that mommy and daddy never wanted you to see. Now you can let those good things free.

I know you feel lonely. Mommy and daddy kept you away from everyone. You were never allowed to talk to outsiders. Mommy and daddy told you that no one would ever understand you, that no one could be trusted. But that was all lies. I’m so sorry they lied you. It hurts to be alone. But there are people here to help you now, to help you feel less lonely. You don’t have to hide anymore.

I know you feel small. All of the bigger people around you didn’t help you. They didn’t notice you were desperate to be saved. It must have hurt so much to feel invisible, to have no one see your pain. I’m so sorry no one let you know how important you were. I see you, and you’re not small. You’re a little girl with a big heart, and you matter. You always have.

It’s okay to feel angry. You can be mad at mommy and daddy. They hurt you, and you didn’t deserve to be hurt, ever. You can be mad at the other adults who didn’t listen to you. They should have helped you. You can be mad at world. You deserved to have good parents, and you didn’t get that. I am so sorry for all of the hurt they caused you. I’m so sorry for all of the anger you’ve had to keep inside. But it’s okay to be angry. You deserve to be angry. I’m angry, too.

It’s okay to feel sad. Mommy and daddy told you it wasn’t okay to cry. They told you that you had no reason to be sad. They hurt you. But they were wrong. I’m so sorry. It must be so hard to hold that hurt in your heart for so long. But it’s okay to be sad now. No one will punish you. It’s okay to cry. You won’t get hurt. You can cry for the childhood you didn’t have. You can cry for the mommy and daddy you wished you had. You can cry for all the times they hurt you. You can cry. You can be sad.

It’s okay to feel hurt. You were wronged, in so many ways you were wronged. The grownups in your life failed you. Your mommy and daddy hurt your heart as much as they did your body. You had to learn to live with the pain. You deserved to be comforted and supported and nurtured, and instead you were hurt over and over again. It wasn’t fair. I’m so sorry that you are hurting.  I wish there was a Band-Aid I could give you that could make your hurt go away. I want you to know now that mommy and daddy can’t hurt you anymore.

I know you feel hopeless. Mommy told you that you would never be away from her. You thought that she would keep hurting you forever. I’m so sorry that you were hurting so badly that you wanted to die. You were just a little girl, in so much pain. Someone saved you from drowning, but no one saved you from what led you there to begin with.  I want you to know that you are safe now. Mommy can’t hurt you. You don’t have to die anymore.

I know your heart is broken. My heart breaks for you. You are just a little girl. A beautiful, intelligent, strong, kind, amazingly courageous little girl.

I know you feel unloved. Children are supposed to be loved by their parents. But something was wrong with mommy and daddy and I guess they missed that memo. It’s not your fault they didn’t know how to love. It doesn’t mean you are unlovable. You are so loved. There are good people out there who want to love and care for you. You deserve love and care. You deserve to feel good feelings, too. You deserve so much, and I want you to know that.

Thank you for being so strong. Thank you for being you. Thank you for helping me get here. I love you.

They were wrong

“I want to hate him, but I can’t.”

Those words I spoke during my therapy session yesterday have continued to stick out in my mind.

I told my therapist what I had been struggling with in relating to my memory, in a very general way because I wanted to avoid a flashback. I don’t understand how someone could do that. I don’t understand how you can reject your own child.

I tried so hard to hold my feelings inside. Anger, hurt, and sadness were swirling around inside of my heart. I tried to hold in the tears, but that wasn’t working as well as I had liked. Even my therapist could tell I was trying to hold back, and told me it was okay to let it out.

My therapist asked what I would say to my father if I could talk to him right then. My mind started going into overdrive. So many questions and statements started running through my head, and without really thinking, the first thing I said was not even a question or a statement to my father. I said “I want to hate him, but I can’t.”

Despite all of the things he has done to me, and now the rejection I am very much aware of, I still have trouble hating him. I want to hate him. I think he more than deserves it. But somehow, despite being raised by two heartless people, I have a kind and compassionate heart. It’s what allowed me to bury my feelings and take care of my father when he got sick so many years ago. He didn’t deserve my care, to be honest. But he got it.

My therapist asked me again. I ran through a list of questions in my mind, quickly playing out what his responses would be. Then I realized that, it wouldn’t even matter what I asked him or what I said to him. “It doesn’t even matter, he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.”

I thought I was right. Neither my mother nor my father would ever admit fault. I always just assumed that it was because they believed they never did anything wrong. That is how they (especially my mother) played it off.

But then my therapist asked what my father would say if I told him what he did to me. She asked, “Would he say there was nothing wrong with it, or would he say that it never happened?”

I didn’t even have to think for more than a second before I had my answer. “He’d say that it never happened.”

I grew up being told that people on the outside just wouldn’t understand, that’s why we couldn’t tell. But if that were really true, and nothing was wrong with what my parents did, then why would they deny it? If they really believed that they were right, they would say there was nothing wrong with it. They deny it because they know they were wrong.

All of a sudden, it started to make sense to me. I never thought of how contradictory their line of thinking was.

For so many years, I’ve been blaming myself for what happened. I have been carrying that guilt within my heart. Something must have been wrong with me, a child rejected by her own parents. The only reason that made sense to me was that something was inherently wrong with me. I was the wrong one.

Part of me still believes that. That is why it’s so difficult to work through shit in therapy. I hold a lot of shame because I still believe it was my fault. I need to stop carrying the guilt and the blame. I need to keep telling myself that they were wrong.

My father was wrong. My mother was wrong. They were wrong.

I was just a child, born to parents who didn’t deserve me. I was not wrong.