Our guests left early this evening, so I thought I should spend some time writing, in particular, so I could try to process my last therapy session. I disclosed some horrible things in an effort to deal with the overwhelming shame I’ve been experiencing. I noticed a change/ shift in how I feel at the end of the session.. the feelings of shame haven’t gone, but I certainly feel a little more clarity and understanding and not just on one level, but I feel it’s moving deep within me now.
I sat down this evening to begin to write about it, but found I was struggling to reflect on my last therapy session. I find myself bombarded by fragments of the memories I disclosed and I just can’t go there right now. Instead, I found myself writing a sort of letter to the abuser. I am going to share it here, mostly because it is the shame I am tackling right now and half the problem is feeling like I shouldn’t be open and that I should keep all of this to myself.
Any family reading be warned, this may not be all that easy to read.
I need to tell you, just how hard it’s been, carrying shame that doesn’t belong to me. I can tell you it’s heavy, even though it was half hidden, buried within, I can tell you it’s been holding me back. It tells me I am dirty, it tells me I deserved it and that I am to blame. All of these are valid, they are words and feelings that must belong to someone, it was no natural disaster, this was inflicted on me and someone needs to own this- up until now it’s been me.
These feelings of worthlessness, of guilt and blame, the feelings that feed the shame, they aren’t mine. I know that now, not just on the surface, but it’s starting to sink in deep down. You would think it should make me feel better to realise it’s not mine, yet right now I just hurt too much.
For almost 16 years, I’ve held onto this shame and all those feelings attached and even though I’m safe from you now I’ve dragged this with me. I’ve even brought it into my new life where it’s infected almost everything. You poisoned my teen years and my early adulthood and even when I was finally free of you, I remained cursed by your venomous lies. I feel it deep in my chest, a dull ache that just never leaves, it hold my fear, my pain and my shame, but do you know what really sickens me? That ache is my anchor and even though it ties me to you, I am afraid to be without it. I’m afraid to let you go, to release the fear you instilled, the pain that you inflicted and to give you back your shame. Do you know how hard that is to admit? Do you realise how messed up that feels?
To get to the bottom of the shame, over the last few weeks I’ve had to disclose some of the disgusting things you did to me. See, I didn’t listen to you, I told someone and guess what? He didn’t run away, he listened to every sordid detail and his support never waned. What you did was almost unspeakable, but I had to go there to confront that shame, so he could help me see that I’m not dirty, so he could tell me that it was your fault, so I could listen to someone else get angry at you and realise that you were wrong. You were sick, not me.
I do not have to own this shame, I am not worthless, I am not a “dirty slag”. I was not and never will be yours to do what you want with. I did not deserve what you did to me nor have I deserved this lasting torment. I was just a child, I was afraid, I did not know how to get out. I see now how you planned it all, to keep me quiet you made me ashamed and wow I’ll hand it to you, what an amazing job you did. I was silent for years, but that is starting to change, I will no longer keep your secret, I refuse to let your shame hold me back. It should be your turn to fear, because I will keep on telling until everything is out. Although I cannot face you physically, I will face every memory of the hurt you caused and every bit of fear you left and I will release all the shame.
I understand now, it’s finally clear to me. You couldn’t handle your guilt, you couldn’t handle the shame and you couldn’t deal with your pain, so you had to inflict it on to me. Though, at times I feel like you broke me, that is just another lie you fed me because I see now I am so much stronger than you, even at 14 years old, I was strong enough to endure what you did to and all that you have left me with.
At last now I realise, not only do I hold my pain but I hold yours also, it’s been there all along hidden in the shame. For far too long I have carried this burden for us both and though I am not there yet, I can promise you this, one day I will let it go. I will not carry this forever, I will give this back to you and I will no longer be ashamed.