A Letter to my Younger Self
The most challenging experiences for me as I share my story are the times that I was “the other woman.” Each time, I was seeking something that alluded me. The letters that follow will hopefully speak to the young woman who finds herself in a similar position. Each letter in the 3 part series is written for a unique audience. The first letter speaks to the young girl who was lost and confused and did not understand her environment.
Dear Beautiful One,
Yes, you are beautiful. You may not recognize your beauty, but it is there. I remember you very well, but now that I am all grown up, I think I need to let you know what I remember about you. Your life was hard and cruel. When you should have been playing with dolls, you were Daddy’s plaything. When you should have been full of laughter and joy, you cried in pain.
You were taught that you were only good at one thing and that was giving pleasure to Daddy and his friends. The friends laughed at you when you cried and called you weak and ugly when you screamed in pain. You learned to pretend that it didn’t hurt. You learned to expect them to come and secretly plotted that someday you would make them pay. Daddy told you that your worth was only in doing what he wanted you to do. He convinced you that no one would love you because he marked you as his. You believed him.
Then You Met George
Finally, one man, George, treated you like you mattered. He laughed with you, not at you. He taught you how to drive and helped you when you needed help. He smiled at you and told you were smart. He made you feel likable. You wondered why he didn’t want to have sex with you. He was 25 years older than you, so it did not make sense to you. Still, you felt safe with him.
Then one day when you were no longer a child, he told you how much he wanted you. He gave you books to read that made what he wanted sound right. He said his wife didn’t want to be with him and all he could think about was you. You felt something for him, but you didn’t understand what it was.
The interaction was a catalyst for you that led to disaster. You became desperate to be with George and sacrificed friendships to make it happen. You rejected a young man who truly cared for you because he was unwilling to have sex. It felt like a dam was broken in your soul that only sex could fix. You knew your behavior was wrong, but you couldn’t stop. Guilt and shame were your daily companions, but you couldn’t live without George. So the affair continued.
You Learned You were Not the Only One
George was kind, but he manipulated you. You learned that you were not the only one he”loved” the way he loved you. You learned that his world did not revolve around you. You were devastated, but you found ways to fill the void in your heart. It was surprisingly easy to find men who would be with you. I don’t remember how you found most of them. I do remember feeling horrible after each encounter. In your mind, no one could ease your pain the way George did.
Finally, you made the decision to end the relationship with George. You couldn’t live with the guilt and shame any longer. After you ended the relationship, you got down on your knees and made a promise to God. You promised Him that your days of promiscuity were over. You begged God for forgiveness. The problem was you couldn’t forgive yourself.
A Way Out
The next day the apartment manager approached you about your overdue rent. He said he could work something out and would come by later. When he arrived, you let him in, and he told you his plan. He wanted to have sex with you for the rent. You said “no,” trying to keep your promise, but he didn’t take no for an answer. He raped you, then left without a word. In your mind, the rape felt like God saying, “I don’t care about you, and I can’t forgive you.”
You cried and yelled at God for most of the night. You felt abandoned and hopeless. At the moment, you decided to take your life. You were alone in a city of strangers. No one would care or even miss you. You bought two bottles of sleeping pills, called in sick to work, and sat on the edge of your bed with tears streaming down your cheeks. Just as you reached for the bottle of pills, the phone rang. You almost didn’t answer it, but something inside you told you to pick up the phone. Stifling the tears, you whispered, “hello.”
The next words saved your life. Your pastor was in town. He and his wife stopped in town on the way to see their son. They stopped at a hotel on the north side of the city. He said, “I was ready to call it a day, but I felt I needed to call you. We’ve been praying for you. Can we come by and pray with you and serve you communion?” You could barely speak through your tears, but you said yes.
A New Start, Maybe…
You see, beautiful one, God, did care, He sent someone to tell you that He had not forgotten you. Yes, I know you still doubted that, but you lived. You didn’t change entirely and continued to struggle with understanding what love meant.
You left George’s city to work in Iowa. You wanted someone to like you for you and not for your body, but you didn’t know how to do that. You knew how to please men. You took risks that could have killed you, but nothing filled the empty space in your soul.
You thought what you felt for George was love, but love doesn’t require performance. You didn’t know that. You didn’t understand how to be loved. You made choices based on what your perception of love. Unfortunately, you often made unhealthy choices.
What I want you to hear, Charlotte is you always knew that something was not right. You knew there had to be something different. You never forgot that God was there. He honored that. He didn’t take your pain away, but he intervened so you could live.
There’s another letter to write, but it is for an older Charlotte. So for now, I want to thank you for not giving up and for believing that there was hope for your future. Most of all, I want you to know you are beautiful and I want you to forgive yourself.
Your older self