By Maddie Curtin
I owe this to myself.
I owe it to my younger self – she didn’t know what was happening.
I need to explain it to her – I want to.
This is the story of my abuse.
There’s still this little girl inside of me who won’t let go of what happened to me, whether I know it or not. She still wonders why all those bad things happened to her, why the people she trusted let those things happen to her, and why she can’t seem to get it out of the back of her mind. She still cries over it sometimes, she still has days where any form of touch makes her cringe and anxiety overcomes her and cripples her. She still needs to let all of this go.
I’m doing this for her now. I’m writing this so she can read it, so she knows it will get better, that not everyone will hate her or hurt her.
So, younger me, firstly I want to say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you more, but I’m sorry the people in your life let you fall when you trusted them to keep you up. I’m sorry they ruined love for you, and any intimacy you experienced or will experience. But it gets easier, I promise.
What happened to you was not your fault, it never will be. You were not “asking for it.” You were only 7 years old, how could you have been? You were scared, and confused, and you still are in a way, but that time has passed, as raw as it feels. You are safe now and the threat is gone.
He ruined any form of intimacy for you, he smashed it and with it he shredded your trust of anyone you would ever meet. You constantly are checking the people around you, looking for dangerous signs, you’re paranoid.
But you are also constantly checking yourself. The way you walk, how you look when you’re sitting in your seat, or standing in front of the class, you analyze it all. There’s always someone constantly judging you and criticizing you; it’s you. Maybe it’s because of the abuse you suffered, I’m not sure, but it’s time to let that go, however you look is completely fine. Stop bullying yourself, my darling.
There is so much inside of you. Fear, hatred, sadness, but there are also so many great things inside of you. Some happiness, and passion, so much passion. There is so much potential inside of you, too. Use it.
When you first realize exactly what happened to you, you’re confused, alone, scared out of your mind, and a terrible feeling of guilt overcomes you. I don’t say any of this to scare you, I just want you to know it is okay (for now) to feel these things. But the guilt part? The part where you feel disgusting and used? Never ever should you feel these things. They are the opposite of what you should feel. Feel anger instead, and use this to drive you, but never feel guilty. It is not your fault.
It’s not your fault you tense up when boys put their arms around you, it’s not your fault when you shrug and say it’s no big deal. You don’t owe them any explanation. You don’t have to keep their arm around you. You don’t have to tell anyone anything if you don’t want to, you don’t have to explain yourself to people that might not understand and treat you differently. But you must know it is okay to tell the ones you love and trust, don’t carry this burden around inside of you, it only gets heavier.
You’re going to tell your mom eventually. It won’t be for years, but you do. She’s not going to take it well and you have to calm her down while also calming yourself down and holding back the tears. (This is because you have to be strong for her, you always have to be strong for other people. But sometimes it’s okay not to be, though, it’s not weakness, it’s called being human.) She’s going to ask too many questions and become angry when you can’t answer them. She’s not mad at you, she’s mad at him. Your relationship gets better, and talking about it becomes easier, I promise.
There are going to be constant reminders of the horrible thing that happened to you. You’re going to freak out and most of the time you really hold it together. I’m so proud of you for that. You also meet a dear friend that lived through something similar as well. You have your ups and downs, but they get you through one of the hardest times of your life.
So now? Now you need to let go. You need to realize that you are not that 7 year old little girl anymore. You are not alone in this, and you never will be again. You’ve grown so much and are so amazingly strong, in ways you weren’t at the age of 7. He is gone. Release the constant pain you feel, it is only holding you back more than you know. You must also forgive, not yourself, but the people who did this to you. This is is going to be the biggest challenge you face for an incredibly long time. Forgiveness is something everyone learns, and now you must use that lesson to forgive the person who has hurt you most in the world. Forgive, but never, ever forget. Your days of crying over this and over the innocence you lost all those years ago are over.
Now you must learn how to re-love yourself and your body. You must, again, learn to trust those close to you, not everyone will hurt you. Now, your life changes. I know you’re afraid of change, but this is a good change. You are stronger than you believe, and I know you will conquer this.
Dear, confused, lost, younger me, I love you. I owed this to you, but now it is time to finally let go and move on.