I think one of the biggest things we child abuse survivors have to realize is that it’s not our fault and in no way was the abuse perpetrated against us our responsibility. This concept is a no brainer but when you spend your developing years being told you’re bad and if you could just behave then you wouldn’t get hit, it becomes pretty ingrained that you’re a problem.
I’m realizing that I’m not the problem and I never was. The abuser was just continuing a heinous cycle of abuse that was taught in their home and they had an untreated mental illness as well. The silent parent just could not accept that our lives were out of control. The silent parent thought because they said the abuse was to end that it ended. That parent was living in a state of denial. My third parent hadn’t a clue what was going on in my home and had a slew of personal issues to work out. My parents are human. They make mistakes. It doesn’t excuse what happened to me or what they did to me but it makes it more understandable.
As part of my homework for counseling I was assigned to write letters to my parents. These letters were meant to be a constructive way to air my grievances. I could finally express everything that happened to me and how it has affected my life in the past and presently. Nothing has been more painful and cathartic as writing the letters.
Before I wrote the letter to my abuser, I experienced a headache so strong that I could barely see. I had such a physical reaction to the thought of putting pen to paper. Once I started writing the headache subsided but the emotional pain began to erupt. I wrote about living in fear, about wanting to die, about the most vivid moments of abuse. I felt terrified and angry and betrayed and so so sad for that little girl that was robbed of the chance of a normal childhood. I let the abuser know that I had done nothing wrong, that I in no way deserved the treatment I got. I let them know that I am taking charge of my life now. That I’m going to heal…. I cried a lot while writing that letter and I cried a lot when I was done.
Then I read that letter to an empty chair with a picture of my abuser. A counseling technique that I thought was silly until I was a few paragraphs in and the sobbing began. It’s a scary thing looking at that person, knowing what they did to you and saying those words. The pain is indescribable.
I realized though, that reading a letter to a chair was never going to make me feel ok about that person until I faced them in person. I realized that my silent parent needed to hear the pain they caused as well. I have to confront both my parents or none of the past will ever be resolved.
I have since written a letter to my silent parent. Once again the feelings of betrayal and pain came bubbling up. There was a decent amount of crying and snot haha but it was easier to write this time. I am getting used to my feelings and the pain is lessening. Their control and guilt over me is lessening as well. I am getting stronger daily.
My next step involves me wrangling a friend and having him help me prepare for reading these letters out loud to my parents. He gets to play my parents and give me various possible reactions. I can prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I’m hoping for in an outcome. I guess I just want an honest apology from my abuser and an acknowledgement of the silent parent’s part in the whole thing. I could receive neither of those things. That would hurt deeply but I’d just have to accept it. Either way I’m going to continue to kick ass in the mean time 😉