Letter to My Survivor Friends

I want you to remember that everything you experience on your healing journey you have already lived through as a child. The difference today is that you never have to endure the pain alone. As I started to remember I realized how alone I was in my abuse. I couldn’t cry out for help. I couldn’t tell anyone because I felt I was to blame and feared the consequences. This left me feeling deeply ashamed as well as having to live in secrecy. I learned that secrecy separated me from people. It created a wall that I lived behind. It was scary to let anybody in because deep down I believed I was dirty. I carried the shame that belonged to the people who hurt me.

I want you to remember that you can never turn your back on the abuse you endured because you can not run from yourself. You can’t say it was in the past because you live it every day in one way or another. Its in the way you feel about yourself, the beliefs you carry about yourself and others, the way you are in relationships, the way you protect yourself, the fears and belief that you are unsafe, your nighttime fears, your nightmares, the need to be hyper vigilant, the deep down belief that if anyone saw what was inside you they would not love you, the need to push people away, and the awful belief that you can not trust yourself and truly know how you feel. So much energy gets spent in trying not to remember that you can never feel at peace with yourself.

The greatest gift I got by remembering and in my abuse recovery was learning to trust myself. To truly know what I believe and feel and not be afraid to voice it. I allowed things to happen in my adult life because I didn’t feel entitled to speak up. It is impossible to believe in yourself when you don’t know your own truth. During the abuse we learn to dissociate from our bodies where feelings are felt. We tell ourselves that what is happening isn’t really happening or some other lie to keep ourselves removed. Because of my ability to deny my truth I couldn’t trust the way I felt. I would go back and forth in my head which led to confusion and my belief that I am crazy. We also learn to lie to ourselves. That we were at fault as if we chose to be in the situation we were in. Children are easy to manipulate especially when they are looking for love, attention and acceptance. When an older person is in control it isn’t a choice. It isn’t a choice when you are raped, it isn’t a choice even as an adult until you free yourself from the bondage of abuse.

These are the gifts I have gotten from walking through my abuse; feeling free, feeling courageous, sleeping without fear, not afraid of the dark, free from nightmares, feeling whole, having self respect, trusting myself in all situations, asking for what I need, knowing how to keep myself safe, my refusal to live in fear and my willingness to go to any lengths on my behalf, not afraid to love and feel my sexuality, feel alive and present, love myself and the little me that had to live in the abuse, knowing what is ok and not ok for me, free of self doubt and self criticism, free from self destructive behaviors, feeling empowered. Most important truly KNOWING THAT DIRTY AND SHAMEFUL THINGS WERE DONE TO ME BY A DIRTY AND SHAMEFUL PERPETRATOR. I WAS NOT PROTECTED BECAUSE OF OTHER’S DENIAL BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN I AM NOT WORTHY.

The road to recovery is hard, painful and scary and can feel that it will never get better. Facing all the devastating effects can feel endless but I am living proof that there is light at the end of a very dark tunnel. If I did not do this recovery my life would be filled with endless suffering. I have found peace and feel proud of my strength. What I was forced to endure has made me who I am today and for this I am grateful.

With love from one survivor to another,