My heart now understands how brave you were to go on with your life and not fall apart.
Oh, how much I long to give you a giant hug. Your world has turned upside down right now. Coming from a sheltered home, you have no idea what just happened to you.
You have been violated. Not once, but again and again. You have no idea your body has been touched in a way that no child should ever be.
I see you the day it happened. You came home confused and scared. It hurts me so bad to know you can’t confide in your parents. No child that young should have to deal with this herself. No child.
This is something I hold against our mother until this day. There must have been a reason you felt you couldn’t tell your own mother something so earth-shattering. I know that if such a thing happened to my child (and it sadly has), I would be a big failure of a mother if my own child didn’t feel safe enough to come and tell me.
That day forever changed you. That Friday was the beginning of a turbulent childhood. It took you a long while to fall asleep that night, replaying the scenes in your head, wondering if it was normal for a doctor to examine you on the floor of a dark, damp cellar. And if he was a doctor, why did he threaten to harm you if you told anyone?
I know at that age you couldn’t make sense of this sexual abuse. How could you? You had no idea of the concept of sex. Though you didn’t understand it, the pit in your stomach and the burning pain when you peed made you realize what transpired was bad.
You had no idea how to deal with it. My heart aches knowing you were all alone, trying to deal with something larger than yourself with no one to help you, no one to explain that it wasn’t in any way your fault.
I wish I could be sitting on your bed, stroking your hair, holding you in a tight embrace, trying to make you feel safe again. I wish I could be the mom you needed right then but didn’t have.
Since you couldn’t tell anyone, the pain had to come out somehow. How I cry when I see you acting out in all kinds of ways, desperate to get rid of the confusing, conflicting feelings.
I wish I could knock some sense into our mother, to open her eyes and see your behavior for what it really was: a desperate cry for help. Instead of hugs, warmth and the help you should have gotten, you got punishments and recriminations and you sometimes got hit.
I don’t know why, but fate then decided you needed to go through this abuse again. It wasn’t much later when a central figure in your life, someone who was supposed to love and protect you, breached your trust and whatever was left of your faith in humanity was gone. Your adult self is still struggling with that aspect. Did he know what his momentary pleasure would cost you?
I see you after he finished, again replaying the scene in your head, wondering if this is what all fathers did to their daughters. I wish I could reassure you and tell you that not all fathers do that and he was so very wrong.
At 12 years old, when most girls in your class were busy with regular girl stuff, you tried to find out as much as you could about the subject of touching. In our world, sex was taboo, not talked about until you were married. I can’t say for sure, but these encounters might have triggered your obsession for finding out all you could about sex.
The internet was still in its infancy, so you had no access to it. You lost yourself in books with as much graphic descriptions of sexual encounters as you could find. I’m sorry you had to do that. I’m sorry you couldn’t get your education from a healthy source.
I’m sorry it’s decades too late, but nonetheless, you must hear this:
You are not at fault. You are so very brave. Now only as a mother can, my heart understands how brave you were to have been able to go on with your life and not fall apart.
I wish I could go back and hug you so hard right now and try to give you the strength you needed then. I wish I could whipser in your ear, “It will be OK, my darling,” because there was no adult at the time to do that.
I want to apologize for those who didn't. Your mother, for instance, who should have told you, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I’m sorry I was blind as to what went on right under my nose.”
Mostly: I’m proud of you. I'm proud that you’re still standing strong today, that you didn’t let your past break you. I’m proud you went for help, help you should have gotten decades ago. I’m proud of the beautiful family you managed to build.
I'm heartbroken your son had to go through the same thing but immensely proud of how he trusted you enough to tell you and how you handled it. I only wish you would have been so lucky to have a mother like you.
I hope that these words will help you heal and let go of the shackles of the past. I tried to give you a bit of what you deserve to hear. I know it will never be enough and for that, I'm sorry.
This article was originally published at Sammiches & Psych Meds. Reprinted with permission from the author.