Forward by Cheryl:
This third letter was sent to me by Mandy, a survivor in need of a friend. I thank her for writing and giving me the chance to share my thoughts and feelings with her. Hopefully through our sharing, we can help others who have felt the same despair.
I have been to the Havoca site and read some of your writings. The letter you wrote to your grandpa hit home so much, it was as though my feelings were inside of you. The feelings you put down is exactly the way I feel now. I still can’t talk about the way I feel. I keep my feelings pushed back so much that it is hard for me to talk about them. It gets so bad sometimes that I am overwhelmed by the way I feel and it comes out the wrong way. I don’t cry easy at all. I get very angry and take it out on my children for the slightest thing they do wrong but it feels as though it’s not me shouting at them. It is hard to explain, I feel very distant when I lose my temper. It’s as though I’m watching someone else if you know what I mean.
I am feeling depressed lately, the last few weeks at counseling have been hard. I haven’t been able to talk at all. Your letter just sounded like me the only difference is that I feel as though I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m afraid of my inner feelings so much. Writing isn’t an escape for me anymore. I am so confused and relieved that I’m not the only one who has feelings like I have. But I have put my barriers up so high that I don’t know how to lower them. It’s easy for people to say put the past in the past when the past is so clear in my mind it still hurts.
I was abused by so many people; I think I only mentioned three to you in my first letter but there have been more. The last time was five years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. I feel as though it must be me sending out the wrong messages. I must be doing something wrong for it to keep happening!
I know I’m not the only one this has happened to but I feel so alone and that hurts too. I don’t know maybe it’s just me wallowing in self pity. But I can’t get the feelings out of my head, I feel as though I’m drowning some days and that is scary.
Sorry for going on so much I don’t know who else to turn to.
My Response Letter
I’m glad you went back to Havoca and read more of my writings. I want you to read all of them, because I think it’s imperative that you do. I had a lot to say in those writings, a lot worthy of reading. So many of the questions you seek might be answered through my words. Please, do read other survivor’s submissions as well; there is so much shared from those who have suffered from abuse. Hearing from survivors is important. You learn you are not alone and take comfort in knowing there are people out there that truly care.
We all have our own reasons for speaking out and it’s important that we are heard. Jamie’s web-site, havoca.org gives us that opportunity. It’s an amazing site, a safe haven for so many. Some survivors choose silence, uncomfortable in sharing with others. They rely on those who use their voice, as they are not ready to use their own. Those of us who do speak can only pray we are able to reach out to those who can’t. We have to be there for one another, always.
Mandy, through my voice, you have learned that you’re not alone. You’ve learned that we share the same feelings, the same fears. It’s comforting in knowing you are not alone isn’t it? Do you understand now, how important sharing is? I hope you do. And, I hope in the future you continue to do so, whether it is through writing, counseling, or here.
You and I have not only connected as adults, but our inner children have connected as well. You met the child inside me through my letter to grandpa. You heard her speak loud and clear, you felt her pain, understood her shame. You related to her anger, and most of all, the fear of being alone with her abuser. You saw your inner child through mine, our feelings one and the same.
Not often do we give voice to our inner child. It’s crucial that we do, in order to start the healing process. It’s time to move forward and accept this little person as a part of who we are.
Mandy, I think it would be beneficial for you to let your inner child be heard. Don’t be afraid, give her a voice, and let her tell her story. It is so important you let her talk. If you do, it might release a lot of the pain you are holding in. You told me you can’t talk loud, but I think you can. The child within you has a lot to say, let her speak instead of the adult.
Become that child; let her feelings come out in a healthy way. Let her frustrations out, let her anger be known. Let her cry, let her shed the tears she’s held in far too long. She deserves to have her feelings acknowledged, not denied. Suppressing them only hurts her, and in order to heal she has to let them go.
You can help her do that, and when she does, hold her close to your heart. Hold her tight and don’t let go. Listen to her words; hear her, feel her pain. Accept and acknowledge it. Open your eyes, Mandy; see who she really is. She’s a part of who you are, she’s inside you always. She comes out whenever you are angry, she comes out whenever you feel anxious or depressed. She doesn’t know how to handle adult situations very well. She feels so alone. She needs to know she isn’t now. She has you.
Tell her you love her; tell her you no longer hate her. Tell her she’s worthy of being loved, of being accepted for who she is. Tell her it was never her fault, she shouldn’t be held accountable for what happened. She was a child, a child who could not defend herself. It’s time to forgive her, Mandy. It’s time to place the blame where it deserves to be placed. She endured enough in her lifetime. It’s time to give her the inner peace she so desperately needs. It’s time to love her regardless of what happened. She deserves your love and so much more. In accepting and forgiving her, you will learn to love yourself and respect who you are now. You will learn to deal with life’s situations in a healthier way. It might take time, but it will happen.
Mandy, you can’t keep pushing your feelings aside. You have to face them head on. If you bottle them up, you will only explode in the end. You feel that way in therapy, right? You have to talk, you have to release the pent up feelings you have inside. If you don’t, your anger will always get the best of you. I’m not saying you’ll be cured once you let go of feelings, but hopefully you’ll be able to handle your anxiety, depression and anger somewhat better. Once the child has spoken, let the adult speak. Let them both be heard.
I do understand your anger, Mandy. More than you know. I’m still dealing with anger even though I’ve faced my abuse. I know this might sound disconcerting to you, but it’s the truth. I’ve had therapy, I’ve faced my abuser, I’ve written, I’ve shared and still I struggle with anger. It’s a part of who I am.
For me, anger was a learned behavior. I had no one to turn to when I was young, so I vented the only way I knew how. I became misbehaved; I was the devil’s child. I was always in trouble, forever being reprimanded for my behavior. When things didn’t go my way, I just got mad.
I still get mad. I’m a perfectionist, I have control issues; I could go on and on. Right now, my issues are my teens. They are driving me crazy. I wish I could say it gets easier with time, but I’d be lying if I said that. Perhaps if I was able to handle my anger better, my life would be a whole lot simpler. I think for most parents, bringing up a family in today’s society is hard enough. We, as survivors, have so much more to deal with when raising children. We have to parent them as well as ourselves and being a parent to both can be very trying.
I have a hard time walking away from arguments with both my husband and children. I always want the last word, especially if I know I’m right. I have a defensive side, and I fight tooth and nail until I am heard and acknowledged. With most teens, arguments are a part of life; therefore so is the stress that comes with it. I wish it could be different, but it’s not. I suppose all we can do is try to get through the days with our sanity intact.
My daughters are my world. That’s why I find fighting with them so upsetting. My oldest, now eighteen, doesn’t like to answer to anyone. She’s all grown up now, at least in her mind. My sixteen year old developed a whole new personality when she started high-school. Some days I wonder who they are. It’s like I don’t know them anymore. I didn’t raise disrespectful teens, how did this happen? It just did.
Now and again, I see the children I gave birth too. I see their loving, gentle and kind ways. I am proud of them during those times. I always will be. Even though we have trying days, I will love them unconditionally through good and bad. I will never turn away from them; never. They are my life.
I can’t help but feel partly to blame for their behavior. They had a good role model. Me. They’ve seen my anger first-hand and have learned well throughout the years. They react quickly, just as I do in upsetting situations. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken, but the sad part is, it’s not easy to break.
All I can say is hang in there, Mandy. Life will always have trials and tribulations. There will always be roller-coaster rides. If you can learn to deal with your anger, then the rest will just come. Don’t let your children see first-hand what anger brings. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. I know it’s not too late for you or for me to work on our anger. Every day is a new day, a brand new start. We are good people; we have to trust in ourselves that we are capable of being who we want to be. And, be the best we can be.
Mandy, you have to really work hard at your depression. Don’t let it get the best of you. Move forward. Remember all the good things going on in your life. The memorable, happy times will always take precedence over the bad times; stay focused and take one day at a time. That’s all you can do. If you work with your counselor, the healing will come. It just takes time.
Don’t be afraid to talk about inner feelings. You have to face them in order to take the next steps toward your healing process. If you can’t talk, write. I can’t express to you enough how important writing is. When you have days you can only whisper, when you have days you feel frustrated and want to cry but can’t, write instead. Get those feelings out somehow. Its amazing how good writing can make you feel. You have to go with it and just let it happen. Writing might not be an escape from the reality of your childhood, but it helps you face the reality in a more positive way. It’s not destructive; it’s constructive, giving you an amazing sense of satisfaction when completed.
I used to always write my thoughts and feelings down, filling empty pages with hopes and dreams. I’d journal daily, bringing life to a book that became my own. Leather bound, it became my friend, bringing comfort in my time of need. I don’t journal as much anymore, but I still write daily. I write romance stories, I write poetry, and now, I write to survivors. I’ve always enjoyed writing. I feel proud if I can help others through my words. Words can be so powerful, their messages instilled in the minds of those who read them. Words can heal; they can bring solace, comfort, and inner-peace. They can enrich your life, forever changing who you are, who you want to become.
You spoke of barriers raised so high, you couldn’t lower them. Sometimes it’s easier to hide then to face the next hurdle once they’re lowered. But you have to stop hiding and come forward now. It’s time to heal. You can do this. The past will always hurt; that’s a given. Reflecting will always be painful, but you have to do this in order to move on. The past is also a part of who you are; putting it behind you is not realistic. The important thing to remember is, don’t let your past control you as you are facing it. Don’t let it override your chance for happiness and well-being. You have to move forward with your life. Dwelling on past experiences will only hinder your ability to get there. Try to do something positive when you feel yourself slipping; something that makes you feel wonderful, truly glad to be alive.
We can either feel sorry for ourselves or we can be proud of who we’ve become despite the horrific events of our lives. Regardless of mistakes made during our healing process, we are still survivors and should feel proud of our accomplishments. Giving up is not an option. Moving forward is.
Mandy, to move forward you must accept you were never to blame, not as a child, nor as an adult. It’s so unfortunate that this has happened to you multiple times. I sympathize with what you must be going through. You have to understand your abusers were in the wrong, not you. If you truly think about it, I’m sure you will realize this. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t let them off the hook so easily. They don’t deserve it.
You are not alone in your journey to heal. Remember that, Mandy. You will always have your family and friends, as well as fellow survivors. Your counselor can also help you on those days you are drowning in despair. Let her give you a breath of life; let her guide you like the shining star you truly are.