Dear Younger Self,
I’m sitting in my living room with a deeply affectionate boy in my arms and another sweet boy growing safe inside my body. I can’t help but be curious about who you were so long ago. Were you anything like this stubborn, imaginative two-year old who is now leaping off the couch to fight space robots? Were you ever confident and proud to make your voice heard like this little boy of ours?
My mind races forward a few years and sadness creeps inside the haunted hallways of my heart. Women are supposed to be a safe place for children, especially elementary school teachers, but no one thought to protect you from her seemingly innocent attention. Especially to one of her favorite students. The day she asked for you to spend the night was perfectly orchestrated so that, of course, your six-year old self was excited beyond belief. Evil had patiently waited and groomed you for the moment to leave you in the bed of a predator, sedated, and unable to have a voice. Oh my heart breaks for you—for me. Here is the first memory of your voice, stolen by an evil villain masquerading as a safe, beautiful creature.
Memories flash forward again until I see you, a new teenager, standing before a dressing room mirror. Your voice had been trampled and ignored in a series of events that led you here with raging tears pouring from your red-rimmed eyes. Oh little one, I grieve for the way evil stole your voice and then screamed into your ears until you harmed your body for the first time, hoping pain and blood would quiet the heartbreak and anger. You never realized you were using what little voice you had left to sign a contract of death with self-harm.
As we entered adulthood, more experiences confirmed the need to keep your voice quarantined in a room padlocked by trauma, abandonment, betrayal, and vivid suicidal longings. It became comforting to starve ourselves of what brought our soul nourishment. The monsters grew larger than life and deadened the voice that was screaming to bring down this evil tower.
Looking back, you were screaming to be rescued, precious girl. You were aching to be heard and I was too afraid to let your beautiful, raw trauma be seen. I am so sorry that I was complicit in your silencing. I am sorry that I used your pain as a “funny” story to cover shame. I’m sorry that I beat and bruised what I should have blessed and loved. I’m sorry for not wrapping my arms around your weeping body and whispering words that needed to be said with my voice.
It took me a long time to uncover my ears, open my heart, and let pain and truth flow from my lips. Your voice, our voice, deserves to be heard in glorious mountain-proclaiming volume.
In the years that I have been working on my recovery and processing the story of my life, I have stretched my voice, hidden my voice, then redeemed my voice again.
As I feel my baby stretch inside my womb and watch my Maui impersonator, armed with his hook, reenact Moana scenes, I think about the messages I hope to offer these boys as they age.
No one told your six-year old self that a gallon of ice cream does not buy permission to rob a tiny body of safety and protection. I pray that my boys will never know that violation, but if so, then I will wrap them in my arms and offer dignity and a safe place to land.
No one told you that your thirteen-year old voice had incredible value and importance.
No one told you that your body deserved to be cared for.
No one gave your heart permission to feel the pain without numbing out.
I can offer those messages in retrospect to you, little one, and I can offer it to my boys when their monsters get too big. I want my little boys to see a warrior mama who uses her voice with confidence and without fear.
There is one truth that I hold onto with every fiber of my soul: I refuse to hide.
I refuse to hide for you, little girl. I refuse to hide for me. I refuse to hide for the little boys who have been gifted to me.
WE fought our way through the pain and tears, sweet girl. I’m proud of us.
A Voice Discovered
Written by an anonymous contributor. This woman is a mom, a wife, and an abuse survivor. She is in the midst of healing and learning to hold her own story with kindness, remaining anonymous in this post is part of that journey.