It was the day that my world shattered. Everything I thought I knew changed. All that I believed about my young self slipped away from me. At that pivotal moment, my soul was annihilated. It was only a minute, but it has lived on in my mind ever since.
I feel as though I have begun to grieve in the last few weeks of therapy. I’ve cried a bit, and that’s new for me. I usually know I’m sad and can say so, but I don’t really connect with the feeling. I’ve always been too scared and too stuck. But suddenly I am able to let a little of it go, just a tiny bit, when I’m with J. I’m slowly overcoming the fear of showing my emotions with her. That feels really important.
In my last session, I talked a bit to J about anger. She has suggested in the past that I try writing something about my anger, a no-send letter to the people I’m angry with. I often don’t let my child self speak, so she thought it might be good to write from that young place.
Diligently, I went off and wrote a devastating no-send letter to my mum. I wrote from an 11 year old perspective, about what I was angry with her for at that age. It was weeks ago, but I put it to the back of my mind because I didn’t feel strong enough to share it with J.
Today I took that letter to my session. I told J I had it with me and that’s what started the conversation about the day my parents discovered the abuse. That meant I didn’t get around to reading it to her. I didn’t realise how upsetting talking about that day would be.
A lot happened, but the painful bit is recognising what didn’t happen. Now I look back as an adult, aware of the impact of sexual abuse on a child, I can see everything that might have helped. But none of it was done. I was failed by my parents, who kept my 16 year old brother in our home, knowing that he had abused me. I was failed by my grandparents and our family friends who didn’t stand up for me when that choice was made. I was failed by the police, who didn’t prosecute him for harming me. I was failed by social services, who were aware but did nothing to intervene.
Again and again I was let down by each and every person who should have been there to protect me.
That’s such a painful thing to come to terms with. It is so hard to accept that I wasn’t kept safe, but could have been. It forces me into a state of wishing I could go back there and change something. Just one thing; one adult who was on my side, fighting in my corner. It makes me so deeply sad about how my life could have turned out had I been taken care of.
What really stings is the realisation that from the moment my mum walked in and saw my brother abusing me, I was scared. I was more scared than I had ever been. I was frightened of everything; my brother, my parents falling apart, being seen as disgusting and shameful and the counselling I had to go to. The thing that scared me the most though, was the notion that my parents could no longer see me as their child, their daughter.
On that day, I felt as though my childhood was obliterated. I was thrust into this cruel adult world before I was ready, and I would never see life through the naive eyes of that little girl again.