I’m writing this letter to let you know you’re going to grow up and be okay. I know that you’re going to go through some things as a kid, and it’s going to be hard, and you’ll have a lot of set-backs and feel like you want to give up, but please don’t. I’m here to tell you that you are going to find the help you need, but it’s going to be at the age of 36. I want you to know something about yourself: you are strong, and good and kind. You are funny, loving and caring. And, the things that happened to you as a child don’t define you unless you want them to. You’ll want them to for a while, but you’ll change that. I promise.
You will be sexually abused by a babysitters’ husband and this will create a divide in your life that you didn’t even realize until you were in your late 30’s, sitting in your therapists office, and talking through the trauma. Don’t worry though. I’m here to tell you that you’re going to come out on the other side of this. It will be difficult, and it will be a struggle. You’re going to feel like it was your fault, and that you aren’t worthy, and I wish I could go back in time and erase all of those things for you, but I can’t. It’s going to be hard. I can tell you that you’ll be angry for a long time, but not know why. You’re also going to be afraid of people, men especially, and not be able to understand until you just figure it out one day. I can’t tell you that you’ll meet some nice man who changes your mind because even here, on this side, at the age of 38, I’m still working on that. But, I can tell you that you won’t be alone. You’ve got a sister who adores you, and parents you can talk to. You’ve also got fantastic friends, and you’ll continue those friendships with some of them for a very long time.
I think what I want you to know most of all, Liz, is that this wasn’t your fault. Nothing you did was your fault. You were a kid, and he was an adult in power, and he used that power on you. It doesn’t matter how many times you think you should’ve said no. He had no right to take you away from yourself. He took a piece of you, and you’ll struggle with figuring out what that piece was. But, you might not get it back, and you’re going to be okay either way. You’re going to be mean to yourself, and you’re going to say terrible things to yourself. You’ll eat until you can’t stand, and you’ll blame yourself for everything. You’ll numb the pain, Liz, by tuning out and avoiding things. But, you’re also going to be a good friend, and a good sister and daughter and know that people will love you for you.
Trust me though, you’re going to start getting help. You’re going to find a doctor who is patient with you during pelvic exams. Oh, you’ll have a hell of a time with those because you will suffer from PTSD and won’t allow anyone or anything near your vulva, especially hands or anything that’s going to hurt. Your doctor is going to be amazing and kind, and she’s going to be patient as she suggests you get physical therapy for your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. You’re going to go through a period of putting it off and being afraid of it until one day you aren’t anymore. Around that same time, you’ll find a doctor who diagnoses you with PTSD and puts you on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and you’ll start to feel the layers lift off of you. And, you’ll go to your first pelvic floor therapy session and cry, and you’ll go back and you’ll cry again. But you know what’s amazing? You keep going back, and every time you go, it gets easier and easier. The fear of being touched isn’t there, at least not with someone you respect and trust. This woman will change your life in ways you didn’t even think possible and you will, for the first time, feel empowered about your body, and start taking ownership of it. It’s going to be an amazingly eye-opening time for you. Liz, you’re going to get help, and there are going to be people to catch you when you fall down. They will do things for you that you never dreamed were possible. You won’t be afraid of your body, and you won’t feel ashamed anymore, I promise.
Oh, little Lizzie, you’re such a good soul. I know that it’ll be hard for you to think that for a very long time, but you really are. You’re going to get through this. You’re going to have so much laughter, and love, and excitement. You’re going to see wonderful things, and meet crazy banshee women who will become your family. Liz, you’ll love deeply, even if it’s not in a committed relationship, and you’ll find ways to give back. I know that you think you don’t matter, but when you grow up, you’re going to realize you do. And, everything you did was worth it because you are worth it. The struggle hasn’t ended for me, but the load is getting lighter.
Hang in there, and know I’m here on the other side. I know I never said it enough when I was a little girl, but I want you to know I love you, I’m here for you and I’m proud of you. At the end of all of this, you will be too.