Dear Little Amanda
More than anything in the world, I wish I could go back in time and rescue you. Protect you. Save you.
As I say that, I’m thinking of you as you at the age that you were sexually abused, but I know that your pain began so, so long before that. I know that your pain began when you were only a wee baby. But I actually wish I could go back to that point and rescue you. Take you away then. Before the pain started. Before any of the damage was done.
A part of me wishes she’d never given birth to you in the first place. But that feels like a cruel thing to say to you. But that’s a reflection on her. Nobody else. She wasn’t fit to take care of children, hence me almost wishing she’d never done so. But you deserve to have been born. You deserve to live. You just never deserved all the harm that was done to you.
I’m trying so hard to undo the damage for you. But I’m angry that it happened in the first place. That we even have a need to un-do it.
I’m angry, but I’m not angry at you. Never. But you probably feel angry at yourself. Cos that’s how that stuff makes a child feel. And a lot of other bad stuff about themselves too. But none of it was your fault. None.
I’m actually so proud of you. I’m the adult you… and I’m trying to heal you… but you know what… you did so much good for me. You made decisions about how to handle stuff when you were just a wee one, decisions that you never could have imagined would serve you so well as an adult. Decisions that shaped me. I’m more proud of you than you could ever know.
I’m near crying writing this. Yet, not. Not crying. Just feeling a lot of other stuff inside. Stuff that I don’t quite understand myself. I’m not all that good with emotions, you see.
I said that I wish I could go back and rescue you. But obviously that’s not possible. But I hate that there was never anyone else to help you. I hate that there was no one else to help you, despite how obvious it was that you needed it. Despite how obvious it was that something was very badly wrong. Despite how easily it could have been prevented. Despite how many signs there were. The signs were all there. I’ve seen them written on paper. I’ve seen how obvious it was. And I’m sorry nobody helped you.
I hate how the life you were given put you at so much more risk in itself. How in so many ways the life they made for you made you so much more vulnerable to so many more bad things. I’m angry at so many people for that. It was never fair.
I hear friends talking about their more normal childhoods, and I feel so pained for you. As an adult, I know that many people had tough things happen. Yet at the same time, I know that most didn’t have it quite that bad. And I wish it could have been a little more ok for you.
You know… I remember so many facts about things that happened to you. Not all of it, but probably most of it. The details, the specifics. But I try to remember how it must have felt, and I can’t. Because I can’t even begin to imagine that level of pain. Especially as a child. At the same time, I know that there’s a good chance you found a way to shut off from it. And in other ways it was your norm, you never knew any better… but either way, it must have been so painful, and I literally can’t imagine it.
As an adult, I can see so many of the ways that it affected you. How you handle emotions (or don’t, as the case may be, at times); your relationships with people; how you feel about yourself; your inability to cope with certain things; how painful things can be; your anger; your hurt; and many other effects… I can see all this and more, and I want you to know that none of this makes you a bad person. You’re not a failure. They’re not weaknesses. Every effect of the things you’ve experienced are normal human effects. Normal reactions to abnormal experiences. And it’s ok. However you coped it’s ok. However you reacted it’s ok. And none of it, not one single bit of it, makes you a bad person.
I know that the things you experienced affected how you feel about yourself. Even from a young age, you never really stood a good chance of developing a good sense of self. Of developing self esteem, or of loving yourself. Of seeing yourself as worth something. Of believing in yourself.
But you are worth something. Worth so much, although I don’t think you feel that at all. And you are worth loving. You are lovable. You are special. You are precious. You are wonderful.
Everything in your life told you otherwise. But I really want to tell you the opposite. Please do all you can to believe me. It’s probably hard to believe, given all life has thought you, but you really are a good, worthwhile, person. I hope that one day you can see that.
I also know that similar things happened to others in your life. And that you may end up feeling weaker, that you didn’t cope as well, that you… I don’t know… weren’t as good as them. I promise you it’s not like that. Nobody is better than anyone else. You all coped differently. You all are, and were, wonderful, and you coped in your own, unique ways… perhaps the only way you knew how.
I know also that you’ve been told that ‘you just need to not think about the past’. And that that makes you feel like you’re to blame. Not for the things you experienced as such. But for how it affected you. For not just moving on. For not just putting stuff out of your head and getting on with things. I promise you that that’s not the case.
Firstly, it’s not about ‘thinking about the past’. Trauma affects a person, their mind, and their sense of being. I already mentioned that it’s normal to be affected. To not be affected would make you some kind of superhuman thing, and you’re not. You’re human. You’re normal. You were affected. And that’s ok.
And those effects – those normal effects – you’re not hiding from them. You’re confronting them. Trying to deal with them. Trying to heal from the damage them. That is a very strong and scary thing to do. There’s something wonderful about that. And it does involve thinking about the past. But I know that you’re doing it so that you can have a better life. A fuller life. A happier life. The life you deserve. And I know that it’s hard, and soul-destroying, and so so painful. I know that it’s harder than anyone could probably imagine. But I also know that you can do it, because I’m here to help you through it as best I can.
I don’t know what else to say to you. I know that as much as I wish I could do so, I can’t go back and rescue you. But I also know that together we can do what we can what we can to undo the damage. Not quite ‘rescue’ you, but maybe the next best thing.
I don’t quite know the path through healing from the damage, if I’m being honest. I know we have some good help to do it. And that we can trust that help. I know that as much as I don’t quite know the path through, that I do know a lot about us both, and have a lot of skills and strengths that will help us through.
I’m also going to do what I can to try not to push you harder than it’s safe for you to go. It’s difficult for me, as the adult you, because I so desperately want you to be ok. Want us to be ok. But I know that it’s not as simple as just ‘go and do all the work on all the stuff’. Pushing you could do more harm in itself, and that wouldn’t be good. I’ll do my best to be good to you and care for you.
The work that we do together will be hard in so many ways. But it’s precisely because you’re so worth it that we need to try to do this.
Thank you for the ways you coped that helped shape me as an adult in a good way. It’s time for me to try to pay you back, and take care of you now.
Adult Amanda xx