Recently I was presented with a situation that was startling. As many of you are aware I am a survivor of molestation. As a small child (about the age you learn to write your name in school) I was sexually molested by my stepfather. This abuse continued until I ran away. He was a vile man who drank and made my home life hell. I was victimized by being called names, cussed out, beaten and used for sex. I believe my mother was aware of this because when I told her about it as a preteen, she told me it happens to everyone you just deal with it. I ran away from home at 15.
I go into this now because recently a post on Facebook came up where one of my ½ sister’s children were looking for familial input on what type of memorial tattoo would be the most fitting for her grandfather who has long since passed away.
At first I thought, well, it wasn’t on my page so I should just let it go. Then I did that awful thing that I always tell everyone else not to do, I read the comments. I read the first couple and saw that other family members, were making suggestions. This hurt. These are adults, which know what happened. I have told them my story directly and yet the idea that making this hateful man, who beat my mother. Who woke me in the middle of the night and stood me in front of my mother and called me every possible hateful name in the book. This awful man who took away my childhood. They wanted to give him this inspirational image that his grandchild could walk around with.
I was stunned.
Being the emotional sort I posted a message of disbelief which was immediately responded to with love and support from my friends and family of choice. I was reminded by some that maybe they did not see the negative for what it was and maybe I needed to let go. This was meant in a positive way but it got me to thinking.
What does that mean to adult survivors of abuse?
What does letting go actually mean to me?
I have let it go. I have let it go because now I have a wonderful husband who I love and trust. I don’t worry about him hurting me. I have friends, close friends that I talk to when I’m feeling down. I don’t worry that these friends are going to call me names or belittle me. Letting go means that I can go to work each day and not put my anger on those that may be co-workers. Letting go means that I can have my art and be proud of what I do. It means that I’m able to look in the mirror and not hear the vile names that I heard out loud for so many years. I am alive today, because I did let it go.
It doesn’t mean that I won’t feel hurt when I see his name. It doesn’t mean that I can look at pictures of my childhood and not remember what happened. It doesn’t mean that it goes away and now I’m all better. It just means that it doesn’t rule my life any more. And it doesn’t mean that I have to accept the hero worship of a man who does not deserve it. I can still say, this hurts me.
Living in the past does not change what happened and only makes the future grim. I embrace today. I feel the grass, I create my art and I work with my animals. I do my best to be the best me I can be. That means that sometimes, sometimes I will be hurt. Sometimes I will be reminded quite bluntly of the things that happened, that yes, yes made me stronger. But still tore me down.
Letting go doesn't mean you’ll never feel pain again.
Letting go means that in spite of the pain, you go on.