Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Letters to a Girl: Paternal Sexual Abuse

Dear hurting girl,

When I first contemplated writing to you, I wanted to tell you things will be alright. I wanted to tell you it will be okay. 
Don’t get me wrong, those things are indeed true.
But they are only half-truth. 

Now, your interpretation of ‘alright’ needs to be taken into consideration, but for me – it used to mean that one day I’ll forget all this and I’ll feel just like a normal girl, however that feels. Won’t that be great! I thought to myself.

What I didn’t know when I was in your shoes is that my idea of ‘alright’ was completely unrealistic.  You will never forget all this.  There is no forgetting.  Once it comes out, it is there and is as real as a piece of furniture.

Being abused leaves you with a mark.  Not one that you or anyone else can really physically see, but it is a mark you know that you have. You can show it to someone, and they may always see that mark when they see you. Chances are, they won’t.

That mark, it is something you’ve marked yourself with in your mind.  Some people who don’t really know you very well might see that mark.  They might think of you as the ‘abused’ girl.  But they don’t really know you. I want to tell you now to let go of that – there are people who really don’t know you who will never ever ‘get’ you.  Let go of that right now – they will never understand you. Eventually in life you will be misunderstood. Life is not about getting everyone to understand you.  That thought will make you mad.  ‘Mad hatter’ mad, not ‘busted ipod’ mad.  Accept this now: You will be misunderstood. This may seem frustrating at times, or maybe even convenient at times, but it is a good thing, at least for me, though it has taken years to see that. I’ll tell you more about the good part, but first I want to tell you about the truth.

I felt like people expected me to tell you that it would all be okay. Half-truth.  You will never ever ever look at yourself the same again.

The truth is you’ll probably hate yourself for a long time, and you won’t know why.  Somewhere inside your brain is trying to fit together pieces of a puzzle and it makes a lot of assumptions, generally all wrong.
Somewhere inside you are blaming yourself. Somewhere inside you might think this happened to you because you are ugly, or messed up, or somehow you asked for it to happen, maybe you will think you even caused it. None of this is true.  Your brain can (and will) come up with a hundred reasons why this happened to you, working itself into a logistical frenzy, but know this without a doubt: this can not be reasoned out.  Your father is a psychopath child molester. That means you throw out logic and reason.  Logic and reasoning will get you nowhere if you are trying to make sense of why this happened.  It happened because he is a sicko.  Not you. Him.  He is a sicko who twisted everything around in your brain to make you believe that you are also a sicko!  But you aren’t. 

The truth is you may think that feeling beautiful is bad. You may think that feeling all those feelings about your sexuality is a sign that you are a sicko.  This is wrong.  Your brain is back to using its logic and reasoning, and as I have told you, when referring to this sick situation, those tools are useless.  My best advice to you in moving forward with yourself in this regard is removing the association between the sick sexual abuse that happened to you and the sexual development and feelings that will happen to you. That is a bad association that, though you may not know it now, will wreak more havoc for you than any other thought process.  It isn’t at all easy, but when you associate those two things (guilt and sex) you are sliding down a slippery slope that lands you into a pit of self-hatred. You might think you hate yourself now, go down that road and you’ll think today’s self hatred is a walk in the park.

The truth is you may never be able to look at grown men the same way. You will always be wondering in the back of your mind if they are a sicko. You may take to hating them right off to protect yourself (back to the logistic/reasoning that is useless in this situation) but this is not good.  There are good men. This may seem like a jacked up sentence but it is true, in fact it is a terrible understatement. People like us, we don’t know what good men are.  That’s like envisioning a stegacorn.  Yes. A stegacorn. Stegasaurus and a unicorn have a kid (or is it a foal? Cub? Kitten?).  I just made that up.
It took me many many many long  years to learn that there are men capable of a love we could not imagine in our little messed up minds. There are men who would never ever hurt a child, in fact would prefer to inflict physical pain on anyone who tried. There are gentle and loving, fiercely protective men. There are men who will see us in a light we could never see ourselves, who believe in us when we can’t. Who never see that mark that we see on ourselves.  Who would lay down their lives to protect us from harm.  Sounds like a riding off on your stegacorn into the sunset kind of a fairy tale, but it is true and it takes a long time to find that truth.

The truth is, you may even try to blame other people around you. Like your mother.  You may think it is her fault. This goes back to the logistical reasoning that is completely useless. The truth is that she has been right there in that pool of self hatred with you, though you can’t see each other. Its dark in there.

The truth is you will always wonder if that sicko really cared for you or not.  Somewhere deep down inside your mind is trying to find a father’s love somewhere in this mess.
That is another slippery slope.  He is incapable of love. Incapable.  The only thing that even can be construed as some twisted form of love is his own obsession with himself and seeking out what sick things make him happy. He’s a sicko. He’s incapable of love.  The truth is your father never loved you – he doesn’t know what love is.  That sounds terrible, but it is true, and accepting it is the only way to move forward.

The truth is that part of your childhood was lost.  It is gone forever. You will never get it back.  Never ever never.  It’s a loss you will always feel, though it will be faint,almost invisible at times.

The truth is you will think you’ve ‘gotten over it’ a thousand times and you will also think that you are just as messed up as you ever were a thousand times. 

The truth is even when you are 32 you will still struggle sometimes and you’ll still see that mark on yourself, sometimes. But – at some point you will realize this truth.  Somewhere along the line you stop struggling with the abuse.  Somewhere along the line the struggle comes to be with YOUR OWN SELF.

There is a mountain we all must climb and it is within.  See, while other people are going about their lives growing up and seeing where they fit in the world, people like you and me are trying to recover from the terrible things done to us. By the time we come to terms with the abuse, that mountain of self has been getting taller and taller and more precarious.  We have farther to climb than other people do.  Other people have no idea of the treacherous mountainside that we have.  Kilimanjaro has nothing on us. To make matters worse all of our climbing gear is all rusty and trashed. 

There is a silver lining, though.  There is a little God-gift. 
The truth is that mountain top, it is beautiful. As you are climbing it, you will be able to see the beauty.
We have a unique perspective. Now, those other people I talked about, the ones who won’t understand you, it is because they can’t see your mountain. Even people who can’t see the mark on you can’t see that mountain.  Sometimes you won’t be able to see it either, but you’ll know it is there, because you have been climbing it! People close to you who love you, they see that mountain.  These are the ones who will cheer us on, who will tell us that we are wonderful when we can’t see it.  It’s hard climbing mountains.  But we see things others can’t.  We see the soaring height of happiness, we understand and sympathize with the pit of despair, and we understand others, those with marks and scars, in ways that no one else could. We see both light and darkness that others are blind to.  We know and feel the depth of love, and the lack of it. When we get to that mountain top, we are capable of guiding others up their own mountains.  We can help others through the pitfalls that we are all too familiar with.
It is a gift. A God-gift. We are made stronger, though for a long long time we will only think ourselves weak.

Speaking of pitfalls. Once you reach the mountain top, you don’t always stay there. Sometimes you fall down just a little bit and you find yourself having to climb back up.  It will happen again and again and again. Life’s like a jumprope. Now, this is true for everyone, but remember, our mountain is taller and steeper.  It will be hard for us.

The truth is, life will go on. And it is totally worth it!  Life is full of love, art, music, expression, great people and opportunities beyond our imagination. If we don’t see it, then we are standing in our own way! Life is wonderful, truly, and though we may think ourselves broken, we are not. We are just as capable as anyone of living a wonderful happy life, and a happiness we will never take for granted. 

With Love,
A Marked Mountain Climber 


  1. The recipient of this letter is blessed to have you in her life. What a gift to give someone else who has been marked and is climbing the same mountain, to be told that they CAN indeed make it and to be encouraged that they DO have the power to make the climb even though the slope is steeper than it is for the rest of the world. How powerful.
    God bless you for trading in beauty for ashes and taking your power back. <3 xoxox