Letter to my cousin..

**TRIGGER WARNING**

In the past, thought there was no purpose in writing to my abusers. I felt like I would get no closure making contact, that they would not feel shame, guilt, remorse for their actions, and so I kept my silence.  Yet, in the last few weeks, I have come to realize that, for me, the purpose of writing it less about getting my feelings out and more about saying, “That dirty little secret you have, I’m not keeping it anymore.”  It is also about making my abuser aware of the harm their actions have done, and how wrong it is if they are continuing to harm others.

With that in mind, I finally went on Facebook this morning and sent my cousin a message.  Will she see it?  I am not sure, but it’s out there in the world.  Here is what I wrote:

“I have been thinking of this for a long time, and I often decided against it.  Many times, ‘I asked myself, what good would this do?  What positive could possibly come of this?’  Each time, I turned away from the task because the answer was, ‘None.’  Yet in the past weeks, as memories of what you did plague me more each day, I find writing this is necessary.

With each new day comes new perspective, and it is just today that I realize you not only took advantage of my innocence, you groomed me for it. Your discussion of women’s bodies with me, a child who had never even heard these things, much less discussed them, served to open the door for you to use me to serve your sexual desires.  I am disgusted by the thoughts of what you did, of how you groomed and then bullied me into sexual acts with you.  Your actions destroyed every last shred of innocence and dignity I had left.

I am not even certain how many times you used me or what all happened, but I know it was at least twice.  I realize that not all the blame lies on you. My father shares some of the blame for his own actions that led to him trusting me to your care. Your mother also for not supervising you more closely.  Yet, ultimately, no one made you force yourself on me, that decision was on you.  Maybe you were molested yourself.  If you were, I feel for the little girl who was harmed.  Yet, that does not excuse your choice to perpetuate that harm on me too.

In all reality, it is my fear that you may have harmed others that drives me to write this now. I hope and pray every day that I was the only one, that you didn’t force yourself on others, and that you do not continue to do so today.

You need to understand how wrong this is… how much damage you have done to a soul.  My life is forever altered by your actions.  Since you transferred to my school in ninth grade, there has not been a week, sometimes even a day, that has gone by without some terrible reminder of what you did.  That kind of trauma leaves a scar on the memory that never goes away. It cannot be undone. It affects everything, and one’s life ceases to be their own. It took years for me to learn that what you did to me did not damage me, break me, or make me dirty and vile. Yet, no matter how much I heal, how far I come, it will always be there, and it disgusts me to the very core.

You once told me I shouldn’t be so removed from the family, that I should visit more often.  The reality is, I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I learned early in life that family is made up of people who want to harm you, that the people you are born to are not always people who care about your well-being over their own.  I do not visit, and I am not a part of the family because of YOU.  I have been forced to keep this secret to protect the family that did not protect me.

I hope one day you will have the courage to tell your uncle what you did to his daughter when he trusted her into your care.  I hope you understand how you destroyed the lives of many, not just one, with your actions.

I also pray that you seek help for the things you have done.  I do not want anything to do with you, but I do hope that if you have harmed others, you choose to make amends for the pain you have put them through.

I also pray that if you are hurting others, you realize how much pain you are causing by using them to please yourself and you seek help from professionals who assist in the rehabilitation of sexual offenders.

There is no beauty in taking the innocence of a child.

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Just When I Thought…

There come moments in life when I think that I am finished reliving the past, that my memories of those times cannot bring more pain.  Yet something always surprises me.  Sometimes even the tiniest thing that I had forgotten or part of a memory that had been less painful suddenly comes to the surface.  It’s like a new revelation, and it once again brings into focus everything that occurred – reminding me of the loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness that I felt.

Earlier today, as my mind wandered over various situations young people face, one stood out to me: it was the stories of foster youth who often leave their homes with nothing more than a trash bag to hold their entire world. I’ve thought of this particular issue more than once, yet this time it brought into focus my own experiences.  I remembered how my father & step-mother gave me a trash bag to fill with my own possessions on the day I left to live with my mom.  There have been so many sad memories from that day that this one in particular has always seemed rather benign.  Yet as it came to me, it brought up many new thoughts and feelings.  I can remember trying to figure out what I could take with me and what I would have to leave.  I remember feeling sad as I put the bag into my mother’s car, thinking of the things I loved that I was leaving behind – my yellow kitty puff-a-lump, my beloved books, and the toy chest my mom made for me from an aquarium were just a few.

More than the memories, this trash bag boils down every core feeling about my life up to that point.  My father was so bent on not seeing my mother benefit from anything he did that he wouldn’t even allow his own child a bag of her own.  We had luggage, we used it all the time.  Yet me taking it to my mom’s meant she might benefit in some way, and that wasn’t happening.  It also reminds me how self-centered my father’s world was.  If I would not stay in his house, I would not receive anything from him – something he made even more clear with a conversation about college and my future wedding.  The final thing the memory brought back to me was how completely alone I felt.  My parents did not help me fill the bag.  They left me all by myself to sort through and gather my belongings.  I realize they felt hurt, but one would think that if a parent truly loved their child, they would spend every single minute they could with their child on the last day she would be in their home.

I’m sure my parents did all of this out of a reaction to their own pain, a pain that was self-inflicted, but pain none-the-less.  Yet, it stands out as a distinct reminder of how their feelings always came before those of their children.  Their wants, their needs, their lives; nothing else mattered – we didn’t matter.  The pain of this new perspective will fade with time, as it always does.  However, the scar will not go away.  It will always be a reminder of how alone I truly was, and how thankful I am that I left their home.