Where it began
Note: This is a repost of one of my most read blogs. As I consider all the events of the past two years, I thought the letter to my younger self speaks volumes about the journey toward publication of my memoir, What Kind of Love is This? My inner child still speaks to my soul in moments of chaos and doubt. When she does, I remind her she is not alone and thank her for her courage and fortitude through years of abuse.
On Monday, March 18, 2019, I began the final class for the Master of Arts in Cultural Apologetics program at Houston Baptist University. The class provided the opportunity to complete a capstone project of our choosing. My project was beginning my memoir about the abuse I endured. However, the memoir chronicles more than the sexual, physical and emotional abuse inflicted on me. I wrote the detailed chronology of the abuse about 20 years ago but did not publish it. At sixty-six, I had the luxury of reflecting on my life much differently than at age forty-something. I see the consistent thread of God’s grace and the constant presence of Christ in my life. The memoir is not a testimony of instant relief or dramatic healing through deliverance; nor is it a clinic account of healing through intellectual and psychological understanding. There was no quick fix to the distress and chaos in my life. As I stated in other posts, I healed from the trauma by integrating faith, reason, and imagination. Letter writing is one of the most effective tools in my recovery toolkit. Writing letters, poems and journaling helped me express feelings and thoughts that were difficult to articulate any other way.
Who is Charlie?
Charlie is the nickname given to me in the 7th grade. I used the nickname throughout my teen and young adult years. When I started remembering the abuse at age 34, I went back to Charlotte, but I changed my middle name from Louise to Bethia. I legally changed my middle name when I divorced my first husband. Charlie represents the child who could not speak for years because my mind silenced her. For some reason, I felt she needed reassurance that she is safe. Writing the letter eased my anxiety about starting the memoir and allowed me to voice my fears about the project. For those who endured similar experiences as a child, think about what you might say in a letter to your younger self. As you read, imagine what your younger self needs to hear from you.
Note: Original post written before I began writing my memoir.
Next week I begin to tell our story in a way that I never thought I would. I want to honor you in that telling, but I also must reveal things you may not be comfortable with other people knowing. You may feel betrayed by what I share. You want to hide or run away to one of your safe places. I understand because as I write, I sometimes want to run away too. The problem is that I can’t run anymore. I know you are afraid that somehow the bad people will find you and hurt you again, but I promise you they can’t find you. Most of them are dead and my name has changed so even if someone reads our story, they won’t know it’s you. I know they told you they would always find you no matter what and that you belonged to them, but they lied. They can’t hurt you anymore.
Remember how Jesus always came when you needed him most. He will not abandon you now. He will not leave you. He understands how frightened you are and will stay very close as I tell the world how badly you were hurt. He will help me explain how he kept your soul safe even when the bad people said they were stronger than him. They could not have your soul then and they will not get it now.
There are so many that need to know what you can tell them.
You never gave in to the demand to become like them. You fought them every day. They tried to break you, but you survived to fight another day. Yes, some who read the story will not believe that one little girl could endure so much pain. Some will say you made up the stories you tell. You heard the words, “that didn’t happen,” so many times that you believed them and forgot all they did to you. You invented a life that was absent of pain, a life that kept you sane.
You are Stronger than you think
When I remembered all you sought to hide, I nearly died. Sometimes I wanted to die to stop the pain. I did not understand that what happened was not my fault, nor was it your fault. I understand that now and want you to believe that you are not the evil person they said you were. You are a beautiful little girl who was robbed of innocence. You survived to tell the tale. You are not the frightened, defenseless child that hid in the corner. You are the beautiful, pure young woman who stood your ground when darkness engulfed you.
Charlie, our story will help other children who suffered in darkness. By telling the truth and sharing the light, others may finally see beyond the pain and finally be free. Put your fears to rest, little one. You are safe and no harm will come because the same Jesus who held you in the darkness stills guards your heart and your soul.
I love you,
What would you say in a letter to your younger self?