About six weeks ago, my therapist E. asked me to make a list of thoughts and beliefs that the abused girl took from her experiences. The idea was that we would then take a few of them at a time to work on. We could tell the girl which beliefs to hang on to and which were based on misunderstandings and could be let go. I made the list, but we didn’t make any progress because I was too stuck on the question of whether I believed the girl. A few days ago I typed up that list and decided I would start to work on a few that clustered together.
Hi my girl,
When we thought about the beliefs you took from what happened to you, you had a number that focused on how bad or dirty you were. You believe, for example, that you shouldn’t have done what your dad asked you to do. You believe he knew you would do it because you are bad, and you showed him he was right. Or you think maybe he thought you would refuse and fight but you didn’t. You believe your dad thinks you are dirty and disgusting. He thinks you are like toilet paper or something you use and throw away. You must be the kind of girl that does dirty things.
Sweetheart, those must be really painful things to believe about yourself. I can see how those beliefs could make you feel terrible. I’m so sorry you have felt this way!
Although I see how you came to those beliefs, I can’t believe them myself. Here’s what I believe instead: when an adult does something sexual with a child, the child is not to blame. The child does not ask for it or in some way convey that she wants it. It just doesn’t work like that. You did what he wanted because you loved and trusted him. You didn’t fight or protest because you didn’t know what was happening or that it was a danger to your well-being. You trusted that your dad would do right by you, but he didn’t. That is on him, not on you.
Things that happen to you can hurt you and can affect you for a long time. They can have very serious consequences for you. But they don’t define who you are at your core. You still are the same young girl you always were. Your core value, your talents and passions and potential, all of these are not diminished by anything that happened to you. You remain beautiful and valuable.
I know it can be very hard to change beliefs that we have held for a long time. But I also know it will be worth it. I am willing to come back and tell you what I believe about you over and over and over, as many times as you want to hear it. I am on your side and want you to come to a place of peace about this.
Your older and wiser self, Q.