Forward by Cheryl – Sharing:

Writing letter to a friend, sharing survivor story,This letter was sent to me by another adult/survivor. I thank her for coming forward and sharing her story with me. It was a big step and I truly appreciate her allowing me to submit her letter and my response to Havoca. Hopefully, through our sharing, we can touch others and help them in their time of need.

May 8th 2002

Dear Cheryl,

My name is Jen, age twenty-four. I was sexually abused by my grand-father when I was five to seven years old. I have never done this sort of thing before, like contact anyone about my secret. This is all new to me. It’s something I have wanted to deal with for so long and have not been able to. When I read about you on “The Survivor’s Page”, I had to contact you. I never thought someone else’s poem could hold everything I felt. Thank you for sharing “Close To My Heart”. I have my own writings and poems but I’m too ashamed to share them just yet.

I am also married to the most wonderful man I have ever known and have the most beautiful little girl in the world. I feel so blessed, but still, a part of me aches and feels trapped by those memories. I thought that I was strong enough to accept them and move on, but I was too foolish to think it would be that easy. My husbands understanding; he realizes how some things bother me, usually things that revolve around sex and intimacy.

However, I have begun to accept that my husband, too, has become a victim of the abuse I sustained. I’ve become so angry that I lash out at him over the silliest things. We only make love a few times a month because I have no desire and usually feel dirty. Is this normal? The wonderful man that he is, he loves me anyway, and is willing to just hold me instead.

My daughter has also suffered. She will be four in August. I have her on such a short leash all the time. It is hard for me to let her just run and play at the playground for fear someone will take her or hurt her. She always has to be in eyes sight and arms length away anytime we are in public or a place I’m not familiar with. I am so protective over her that I refused to work or do anything up until a year ago. I finally went back to school to continue my nursing degree. Letting her go to a trusted daycare provider that I took a month to get to know, was one of the hardest things I can recall ever doing. I think giving birth to her was less painful.

Now, in a little over a year, I will have to let her go. She’s to start school and I’m scared to death. I trust no one and it’ll take an act of God to get me to trust anyone. So writing to you was a really big, emotional step for me. I have mixed feelings about sending this, but I feel better that I have written it. Writing usually does that for me. I don’t know what it is that I am looking for or need from you. I feel that maybe this is a beginning. In opening up to a stranger that shares my pain, fear and similar experience, perhaps I can begin to heal and eventually have closure. I hope you don’t mind that I have rattled on for so long. I appreciate your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely, Jen

My Response Letter

Hello Miss Jen,

First of all, I have to say, I am honored that you are sharing your story with me. Out of all the survivors you could have chosen from, you chose me. I thank you. I’m not sure what I can say or do that might help you, but as I normally do, I shall babble away and see where it takes me. I never have a clue where I will start or how I will end, I just say what comes from my heart, from what’s inside. Most times, I just hope and pray that my ramblings might help someone in need.

Grand-fathers. Oh, how I can relate. I’m so sorry you had to go through the same hell I did. When I was small, I thought I was the only child in the whole world going through such a nightmare. I was so wrong. Not until my adult years and I actually started reading books, did I realize I was far from alone. Many children are molested by those closest to them; usually family members.

I can’t describe the shame I felt; the horror, and fear of being alone with my step-grandpa. Unlike you, I can’t remember my exact age. I know I was young when it began and it went on for a long time. I think I was reaching adolescence when it stopped. I can’t be sure. I could have been younger. I only know I was going through something I was so ashamed of, yet at the same time, I stayed silent. I had no one to turn to. In those days, I don’t think I even knew what the word molestation meant. This topic was hush-hush and never talked about. Oh, how I wish it could have been different. The outcome of my life would have been so much better.

Like you, I hold anger. I was an angry child, teen, and now, adult. I like to be in control, and when I don’t have control, I lose it. I cry easily, I do not always behave as an adult should. Sometimes, I just can’t handle situations very well. You’re absolutely right about our families becoming victims of the abuse we sustain. They are lashed out at, having to deal with our tormented souls, our broken hearts. It’s hard for them to understand what we are truly going through.

Sometimes we even forget to show that we love our spouses, show them our intimate sides. Sharing intimacy is not always easy, especially if we feel badly about ourselves. If we are not comfortable with our bodies and our own sexuality, then how can we give so freely? You are not alone, dear girl.

But, having a wonderfully, supportive spouse is an amazing gift. You are so very lucky. Your husband obviously loves you very much. I too, am blessed in that regard. This summer will be twenty-two years married for me, with dating time, twenty-six years in all. We were only teens. However, our years together have not always been easy. There have been many roller-coaster rides. There still is. Circumstances are always changing, and with them, the trials and tribulations of life. But, through all my abuse issues, he has always been there for me, allowing me, sharing my story with him. I couldn’t ask for a better friend.

However, it saddens me that I’ve spent so much of my life stressed, angry and bitter; such a waste. Who do I blame? My grandpa who still lives? He is going to be one hundred and one this summer. He has had such a full life. But also, a life full of secrets, a life full of skeletons that he’s hidden incredibly well. He hid them from me, staying silent, pretending nothing ever happened. But, something did happen. I remember always. I’ll never forget. Unfortunately, I held my secrets inside me for far too long. They festered, making me bitter and angry. Secrets are poison. They should never be held inside.

I wondered all my years of growing up, just what he remembered. I always wanted to ask him why — why did he do those awful things to me? Why did he kiss me like a lover? Why did he touch me beneath my clothes? I never asked. And, even if I had, would I have gotten an answer? Most likely not. I hated being alone with him. I knew the instant I was, that he’d be there, right beside me. I was his favorite you see. I hated being so special.

As an adult, I’ve always shown him respect for the most part. I was taught to do so; it’s engrained in me. But, do I ever visit him? Rarely. Sometimes grandma wonders why I don’t come around the retirement home. I could never tell her why.

I’m proud that I faced grandpa before he went into the home a few summers ago. I wrote him a letter and read him my poem, “My Ocean” I spoke for the little girl. I stood up for her and let him know that it was so wrong that he’d hurt her that way. It felt good in sharing my feelings — like a terrible weight was finally lifted from my heart, my soul.

Did I get answers? Not really. Actually, I hated what he said. “I thought you liked it. I would have never hurt you intentionally.” I believe in thinking this way, he wouldn’t have to justify his behavior, not even to himself. He wouldn’t have to acknowledge my pain, or his guilt in hurting me. Tears filled my eyes as I told him he was so wrong. He did hurt the little girl inside me; the little girl who grew into a young woman who shared the pain of her abuse. We are one; our pain makes us complete, who we are; who we become.

For the longest time, I wouldn’t let myself see that little girl inside me. I didn’t want to. I hated what she let him do. I blamed her for being weak, not strong enough. But she was strong. She endured the unspeakable, and was even stronger by holding her pain for as long as she did. She needed someone to help her, and I finally did. I spoke to my abuser and in doing so a tremendous weight was lifted.

It took every ounce of courage I had in facing him. But, it was something I had to do for myself, not him. I had to speak out, to try and find answers. Unfortunately I didn’t find many. To this day, I don’t understand why he felt the need to do this. To this day, I wonder if I was the only one, besides….

My sister; he touched her too. I didn’t find that out until my adult years. How could a man in his sixties behave this way? I’ll never understand this. Not ever. There are more, a lot more skeletons in his closet. Skeletons that will forever be hidden, their secrets forever untold.

I’ll never regret speaking out. My only regret is not doing it sooner. Have I healed from accomplishing this amazing feat? I really don’t know. I know I am stronger in doing so, even with unanswered questions. I know I am proud I have let my inner child be heard. I know I have found peace in accepting who I am, and who I’ve become. I love me, and that’s a start.

I’m not to blame. I was innocent. This man betrayed my trust, and took away my innocence by putting his needs before mine. He must take ownership for the blame and live with his consequences. He must ask for forgiveness from God, and pray that he is heard.

In talking to him, I found my grandpa to be remorseful, saddened by what he’d done. Saddened by what he had lost in doing this to me. I, like you, kept a watchful eye on my daughters. Very seldom did they visit them. And when they did, I was very wary. I explained all this to him, telling him why he hardly knew his grand-daughters. How could I let them be close to him? I couldn’t.

I don’t recall having such short reins on my children though. I mean — I was very watchful when he was around, but in other situations, I was fine. I tried not to worry when they ventured out on their own. I was quite ok with that. I had a talk with them about good touches and bad touches and to always tell me if something happened. I had to trust that they’d come to me, and try to trust in those around them. Only one man hurt me. I couldn’t condemn the whole world for his deceit.

But, still, I was careful, just like you. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Jen. You’ll learn to let go of your little girl as she grows into a beautiful young woman. It will come in time. As long as you always talk to your daughter, make her understand, she will come to you, that’s a given. We must let them grow; give them space to find themselves.

When my girls were young, I was a full-time mom. I didn’t have babysitters, other than my mother or my sisters. I was lucky in that regard. I didn’t have to let them go so young; learn to trust in strangers as you are doing. I can only imagine how hard that must be. However, I didn’t stay home with my daughters for fear of what might happen to them. I stayed home, only because I wanted to. There are amazing people out there, Jen. Let yourself trust in them. Find them, and keep them forever in your heart.

I know that I was the best mom I could be. I talked to my daughters in their younger years as well as their older ones about abuse. As pre-schoolers, it was simplified. As young pre-teens, they learned of the actions of my grand-parent. I was more direct. I had to be. They learned that abuse happens when we least expect it. By educating children, they become stronger; they can protect themselves in learning through our pain. They learn to stay strong and survive the unspeakable if it happens. If they have knowledge, they use it, and seek help from those they love. I only wish I had the knowledge then. How different my life would have been. How different yours would have been too.

Life leads us down very bumpy roads at times. How do we deal with it? In negative ways, unfortunately. Being stressful doesn’t help. Being controlling doesn’t help. Being angry doesn’t help. Sometimes I wish I could be calmer, more relaxed. Can I be? I don’t know. I think I’ve always been this way. It’s not easy to change who we are, who we’ve become. Our life’s happenings mold us into the adults we become. Sometimes we don’t like who we are. Most times, it’s all the anger and pain deep inside that makes us behave this way. But deep in our hearts, we have to be proud of who we are. We’ve overcome un-surmountable odds and survived. We are true survivors.

When do we start to heal? Become happier, more content with who we are?

When we learn to love ourselves. When we learn to forgive ourselves. When we learn to trust in those who love us. When we learn to face our fears and grow stronger in facing them. When we become accountable for our anger and emotions. When we find inner-peace in our minds, hearts, and souls. When we accept that the past cannot be changed, but the future can be. When we learn to control the past and not let it control our destiny. When we can be the best we can be, only then, can we move on and become proud of who we are.

Have I accomplished all this? No, not entirely. But, I am trying, each and every day.

Like you, writing gives me a great deal of solace. Writing heals. Sharing heals. I love to write, and I love to read what others write as well. There is nothing more beautiful then what is shared from the heart. It simply cannot be duplicated. Writing has become my passion in life. It is part of who I am. It is part of who you are.

Jen, don’t ever be ashamed of anything you have written. What you write truly belongs to you, in your heart. You own each and every word, and if you so choose to share those words, then we should feel blessed in hearing them. Whether we realize it or not, each story shared helps us heal. There are so many people that stay silent, and through reading our stories, they learn that they are not alone. They learn that sharing is healing, and healing brings inner-peace. Always share. Always write. It can only bring happiness and well being.

Sometimes I wonder if something good can come out of my abuse. I like to think that my experience might help other survivors, somehow. In writing to you, I can only hope and pray that I’ve reached out and touched you in a positive way; a good way. I think in sharing, we become stronger, true survivors. We carry an inner strength; strength we sometimes are not even aware of. We have so much to give inside ourselves; a wealth of information. We never know the true effect of our words, until others have read them and absorbed them in their hearts, in their souls. We can only hope, through shared experiences, other survivors become stronger in facing their own.

Jen, I have also shared other writings, with adult/survivors. Some of them are on this amazing site, called Jamie’s site is a godsend for many. On his site, you’ll find so many of the answers you seek. I can’t commend him enough on a job well done. Please do venture in there. His index is easily assessable, with many valuable writings and tips. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I was. He also has the “Survivor’s Page” link, which is valued by many.

In the quiet corner of Havoca’s site, you will find writings of other survivors as well as my own. All are amazingly written and come from the heart. “Dearest Friend” is mine. I wrote this letter to Jamie (Havoca) in response to a letter he wrote to me. We had so much in common and I found myself speaking freely, telling him my life’s story. I think you’ll find it interesting and hopefully in reading it, you’ll feel more at ease, in sharing your own story someday. It frees the heart, and soothes the soul.

Also, you will find, “A Little Girl” “My Ocean” “Close To My Heart” and “Wondrous Creations”. Soon, I will submit my letter to my grandpa, a letter written from the little girl inside me. The little girl that I now love, that I hold ever so closely to my heart. She is a part of who I am and she will always be.

So, Miss Jen, in closing, I am sharing with you, my favorite quote of all time.

Yesterday is already a dream; tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived, makes every yesterday, a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow, a vision of hope.

Friendship is the gold thread that ties hearts together. Hold onto your friends, your loved ones. Embrace in their love and let it heal you inside. Grow in their strength, become stronger, become like the willow tree that bends in the wind instead of breaking. Stay strong. Love life, and find that inner-peace that you so desperately need. When you do, you will find only happiness in your heart.

Take care, sweet Jen, and once again, thank you for sharing,

Hugs Cheryl

This letter was sent to me by another adult/survivor. I thank her for coming forward and sharing her story with me. It was a big step and I truly appreciate her allowing me to submit her letter and my response to Havoca. Hopefully, through our sharing, we can touch others and help them in their time of need.

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