To The Woman Who Spoke To Me When I Was 12 After Hearing What My Dad Said To Me At A Waterpark

Acts of kindness can be life-changing.

girl at waterpark Artem Ganzha & Kenneth Surillo / Pexels

An 18-year-old named Hope posted a simple yet powerful video on TikTok, acknowledging an interaction she shared with a stranger when was a kid that changed her life forever. Hope filmed herself looking directly into the camera, a serene and knowing expression on her face. 

The young woman shared a message of gratitude for a woman who spoke to her when she was 12 after hearing the way her dad ridiculed her at a waterpark.

In text overlaid on her TikTok post, Hope wrote, “To the woman who was in the lazy river near me at the age of 12 at a waterpark, hearing my dad scream at me, telling me how stupid and ignorant I am, and her looking me in the eyes and mouthing, ‘You are not dumb. You are smart and beautiful. I’m sorry.’”


In the caption, Hope wrote, “I’ll never forget her. She came up to me after that when my dad was in the restroom and said even more healing things.”



The woman at the waterpark didn’t know Hope or her father, yet she recognized a child in need of support, offering care in a way that wouldn’t put her in more danger. She went out of her way to give the younger version of Hope the words she needed, words that Hope has clearly carried in her soul to this day, six years later.


RELATED: 5 Ways To Heal Your Childhood Trauma (So You Don't Have To Suffer Any Longer)

In offering an apology for how Hope’s father was mistreating her, she acknowledged Hope’s experience, and let her know that it was far from okay. By telling her she was smart and beautiful, the woman affirmed Hope’s existence, letting her know that she was enough, just for being exactly who she was. 

In recounting her story, Hope shared a powerful message on the impact of a stranger’s supportive affirmations that led her to find healing.

Photo: Armin Rimoldi / Pexels


During her TED Talk titled, “Trauma, Shame, and Being Enough,” Dr. Patti Ashley discussed core concepts of how trauma and shame work together to reinforce feelings of low-self worth.

The bio posted alongside Ashley’s presentation stated that she works to integrate her “experience in education, child development, and psychology, she has developed a wholehearted psychotherapy approach that facilitates long-term changes in the brain and nervous system, breaking through unconscious barriers to self-love, belonging, and connection.”

Ashley utilized Brené Brown's definition of shame as “that painful feeling of being tragically flawed and unworthy of love and belonging.” She also referred to Dr. Gabor Maté’s definition of trauma as “an emotional wound that induces fear and interferes with the ability to grow and develop.”

“We’ve all experienced trauma in varying degrees,” Ashley explained. “Trauma impairs the brain and nervous system’s ability to feel safe.” She explained that as children seek a sense of emotional safety, they can develop maladaptive responses to trauma that continue into adulthood. She offered examples of those responses, including perfectionism, people-pleasing, rage, and addiction. 


Ashley delved into the various ways that our physical bodies respond to trauma, stating, “Your heart is a regulatory organ that detects and responds to safety threats, not your brain.”

“You have 40,000 sensory neurites in your heart valves known as ‘the heart brain,” she continued. "When trauma stresses the nervous system, it disconnects the head from the heart. That’s why you can’t find safety in your logical mind.”

RELATED: My Trauma Doesn't Define Me, And Neither Does Yours

Ashley’s presentation on trauma and shame highlights how valuable Hope’s experience with the woman at the waterpark truly was, an experience that acted as a stepping stone of her healing journey. The words that the woman offered Hope were soothing in the core sense of the word, offering Hope an alternate truth to her father’s emotional abuse.


Healing from trauma is a complex process, one that is definitively not linear. Yet for all its challenges, healing is a gift we can give ourselves, and those around us.

Ashley gave guidance on various ways we can tend to our bodies and minds, in a way that rewires us to accept ourselves in our entirety. She explained that “experiences that feel good are what you need to generate coherent heart rhythms and rewire emotional safety.” 

 Photo : David Guerrero / Pexels 


She offered guidance on how to “write a new narrative” to undo the feelings of shame we all experience, proclaiming the power of celebrating our inner child.

 She stated, “A very significant way to break the spell of shame is by using the magic of imagination. All wonder and curiosity tame shame. Give yourself permission to play and be like a child— sing, laugh, dance, create.”

“Imagine gratitude, even amidst devastation,” Ashley added. “And of course, imagine what it might feel like if you were enough.”


Every time Hope returns to that day at the waterpark, when a woman’s generous words gave her a touchpoint for self-acceptance, she is rewriting the narrative that her father’s abusive behavior framed as truth and learns to undo that emotional damage. The power of offering generous, loving action, even to people we don’t know, cannot be understated.

Kindness costs nothing, yet as Hope’s story proves, it can save a life. 

RELATED: Brené Brown Explains The Only Thing That Will Affect Change When 'Walking In Other People's Shoes' Isn't Enough

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers mental health, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.