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Finding my truth

Trigger warning: This post contains discussion of childhood sexual abuse

I tell this story from a place of empowered healing. To show others what is possible in terms of depth of healing after extremely traumatic childhoods. My story is a gift of healing to the collective. To heal is to set yourself free.

This is where I came from and what I learned. Understanding my pieces and putting them all back together, one by one, to build a staircase out from the depths of the underworld.

I was 33 years old when I first recovered the memories of having been sexually abused my whole life that had not previously existed in my consciousness. When I tell you that I went from “we aren’t perfect but I’ve had a good life” to “what the fuck actually happened to me, now I understand why it’s been so fucking hard” in a split second.

I was standing at the stove making dinner for my kids that had just come back from a long weekend away with their dad.

My daughter was excited to be back and wanted to go for a sleep over at a friend’s house. The friend’s parents are separated and the sleepover was happening at dad’s house. It was an immediate “no” for me. She asked why and I said I didn’t feel comfortable with the dad or the brother being there.

I started digging into why that made me feel so uncomfortable and I had a flashback of being sexually assaulted at my friend’s 10th sleepover birthday party in the bathroom by the friend's dad. I remember walking home from that party and sobbing my heart out. My mom asked me what was wrong and I couldn’t even answer. I had no words, just tears. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that” I heard her thinking.

Of course I would never, ever allow that to happen to my daughter. Over my dead body.

And then I had a flash of my childhood bedroom. My family moved around a lot. This house we moved into between kindergarten and grade 1. I remember we were partially moved into the house when I lost my first tooth. We were still sleeping at the old house and I put my tooth under my pillow. That was the only time I ever slept well while expecting the tooth fairy to come.

The next tooth I lost, I was filled with anxiety of something coming into my room while I was sleeping. I tried to stay awake all night, too scared to sleep. I kept my back turned towards the wall with the window, facing the wall, sure that there was something there watching me while I slept. I would doze off and then awaken in terror.

I love you. I wish I could hold you in my arms now. I’m so sorry there was no one to protect you. I’m so sorry I had to be away from you and I couldn’t do anything to get you out of there. My sweet, sweet girl. I love you.

I flash back to that bedroom and I see my 7 year old self lying in bed fast asleep. It’s pitch black. My father is standing beside my bed. I see him gently lift the covers and he slides into my bed behind me. He asks me if I’ve been a good girl. And it ends.

From where I stand now, I'm incredibly thankful to not have access to the rest of those memories. They aren’t mine to have to see. I can feel the rest. But at least it’s dark and I can’t see.

I can remember feeling like a nasty little girl. I thought I was evil because I felt absolutely awful. All the time. My body was in so much pain. My brain normalized the pain so quickly. Everything hurt. I couldn’t speak. My voice had to be completely silenced. I’m not sure that I’ll ever recover from the ache in my throat.

She’s such a beautiful little girl. I wish I could hold you and whisk you away forever. I imagine showing up at your school. Running into you on the walk from the bus area into the school yard. Tell you we’re leaving. I know it would be so hard for you to leave them. You love them so much, you have the most beautiful and sweet heart to love the people who treat you like you’re nothing and care for them so tenderly inside you. So incredibly forgiving. Leaving them is the right thing for us. You deserve to be safe. You deserve to be taken care of. You deserve to have every single one of your needs met. Forever and ever, you could never be too picky or sensitive. I will never ever complain about that or make you feel bad or guilty. You deserve to want what you want and get it all.

I imagine we keep walking down the sidewalk. You with your little backpack. I’d ask you about your day. What’s going on in class? I want all the details. Let’s go grab some fish and chips from the galley. Maybe an ice cream too, if the machine’s going. We’d walk down to the beach and sit on a log. You’d finish up your ice cream and then we’d share the food. Our shoes kicked off and our feet buried in the sand. It’d feel nice to dig from the hot sand at the surface down into the cooler, denser sand underneath.

We’d go for a walk along the surf line. A warm and sunny day. The coolness of the ocean waves and the sound of the shore grounding us. We’d walk along holding hands. It’s safe here, we’d both know it. I’d tell you that you are so special to me. That I’m so lucky to have you and you’re such a treasure. That I love everything about you. No matter what. No matter what. You are safe. You are loved. I’d kiss your hand and give you a hip bump to show you I meant it. You’re mine now, you belong to me. I’d thank you for making this journey. It’s so painful and scary, you are so so so brave my sweet girl. It’s worth it and you aren’t alone. This is true strength. You get it. I love you. I love you. I love you.

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