Dear Little One,
From when you were quite little until you were grown, you experienced sexual abuse in various forms from various individuals. From those experiences, you developed a set of beliefs about yourself, your family, and the world. Some of them aren’t helping you (or me) anymore, so I want to keep writing to you about them. Maybe I can offer a different way of seeing things.
This spring we made a list of your beliefs and we’ve been working on some of them, little by little. Here’s a set that sort of hangs together, and that we haven’t talked about yet:
Your family doesn’t want to know. Your family doesn’t care. No one will believe you. You are alone. You don’t belong anywhere. The world doesn’t need you. You are disposable.
No wonder you have often felt depressed! It’s kind of amazing you have made it as far as you have, carrying these heavy beliefs on your back, their razor-sharp quills poking holes in you every time you try to move, making you want to cry, to lay down and give up. You must have a lot of inner strength to have come so far.
I think your path in the future doesn’t need to be as painful as it’s been in the past. I believe you can set down some of these beliefs, just leave them by the wayside. Don’t worry about littering–once you let them go, they will shrivel up and blow away like dry leaves. They will become compost in the soil and allow other things to grow.
Are you wondering if you can let them go? I bet you can, in time, if we talk about them and think about them together.
Let’s start with your family doesn’t want to know. There’s some truth to that. Your mom prefers to ignore uncomfortable truths when they upset the delicate balance she’s built in her life. But that’s about her, not about you. She’s had a hard life of her own, and her primary coping mechanism is to pretend nothing is wrong. You know, and I know, that this isn’t healthy, but we’re not going to change her. And she chose this coping mechanism even before you were born. It truly isn’t about you.
Your family doesn’t want to know. Well, true, your dad doesn’t. He doesn’t remember. He had a head injury and can’t remember a lot of things. My guess is that if you told him, he’d be surprised. He might deny it, he might not, but either way, you couldn’t necessarily believe him anyway, because you know he makes up parts of his past that he can’t remember. And he was irresponsible and unreliable (and funny and generous) even before his car accident. So he’s a special case, and his wanting to know or not wanting to know means nothing. ad luck for us to have
One of your sisters doesn’t want to know, that seems true. She cut us off the second we hinted that Creepy Neighbor had been touching things that didn’t belong to him. But we know she loves us deeply. She’s shown it in a hundred ways. She always comes to help when something big is happening in our lives. I fear the real reason she doesn’t want to know is that she had similar experiences and isn’t ready to acknowledge that.
Your other sister, she might want to know. We’ve just been afraid to tell her, since it’s not in the family culture.
Your family doesn’t care. I just don’t think that’s true, even though we have felt like that. Your mother worries when we are depressed. She doesn’t express her concern or offer support in a way we wish, unfortunately. But I found out that she tells her sister, who tells my sister, who tells my other sister. And my sisters call because they care. And my aunt told them because she cares. And my mom told my aunt because she cares.
Giving us the support we wish for is not the only way of caring. I think if we can learn to see caring and feel the love that goes with it even if it doesn’t come packaged in the way we want it. Kind of like when you thank someone for a gift that’s not really your size or color or your taste. The thought behind it still expresses love.
I know that doesn’t ease the aching pain in you. You want to have care demonstrated in a way that is meaningful and helpful to you, I know. You deserve that. I am going to work on giving it to you. I’ll keep coming back and coming back to show you that I care.
Shall we take this up again tomorrow? There’s a lot more to talk about.
Love from your older, wiser(?) self,