In defense of my former self

Dear Self;

You lived a life that many didn't see.  One that even you didn't fully come to terms with and allow yourself to see until you were almost 30.  It's time to let it all out and see that it is okay.  Everyone has baggage.  Everyone has skeletons in the closet.  Some have more than others.  That's okay.  It doesn't mean you were bad or deserved any less.  It doesn't meant that you had to learn lessons the hard way or that you were a tool being used by God to learn a lesson you could share with others.  You suffered the consequences of other's agency for many years and didn't realize that's all it was.  You took it out on God, not fully trusting Him, because you thought He was using you.  You were happy to submit to Him.  At least He loved you.  You wanted to do good and be good and so you willingly became His martyr, His victim, His tool to help others because you knew that you would share and be empathetic...because that's who you are.  This was the only reality you knew.  This was how you understood things and thus how you lived your life for decades.  You know what? It's okay.

You were molested.  More than once.  By different people.  They told you that 'you asked for it' and 'deserved it.'

You were forced to watch explicit pornography as a kindergartner by your friend's dad.  The same friend who you used to have sleepovers with and where you developed a nervousness for sleeping with the door closed and waiting for someone to come in.  The same one you would hide in the berry bush with.

You grieved the sudden loss of your grandma that you adored when you were in 6th grade.
You didn't understand how to process the pain.  You didn't want to be sad because you didn't want to make your mom sad and have her hurt more.
Two years later you grieved the sudden loss of a boy you had a crush on that lived near you and rode the bus with you.  You were confused why you hurt so much again.  You were tired of feeling like an inconvenience to those who were supposed to love you unconditionally and tired of feeling like something to be used by everyone else.  You took more pills than you were supposed to of a drug that you reacted badly to in a half-hearted attempt to end your life so you could be with your grandma in a happy place again.  Your friend, bless her heart, told on you and dragged you to the school psychologist...who told on you to your mom....who thankfully wasn't mad or even overly sad.
Two years later you grieved the loss of another schoolmate in an accident you saw from your house.

Two years later, you buried your mom a month after graduating high school.
You wondered what lesson it was that you were missing that you kept losing all these people in your life.

You were nearly raped.  You still aren't sure how you got out of that, only that you remember the boy's friend watching and laughing and the boy saying "this is what you came here for anyway isn't it?" and you thought it was punishment for lying to your parents about where you were going.  You thought maybe this was just how boys showed they like you and maybe you should just learn to like it.  Except that other boy standing there laughing was a big red flag and you somehow came to your senses and got out.

You spent many years having dreams that haunted you and made you feel dirty and guilty.  They were out of your control but they controlled how you felt. It wasn't until your late teens that you recognized it was a replaying of those scenes you saw as a kindergartner.  It wasn't until your late 20s that you understood it wasn't your fault.

After your mom died, you had night terrors where you dreamed you or some other family member killed her.  Your brother accused you of causing her brain aneurysm because the day before you had pulled her over in a low-lying lawnchair as part of a family joke and she hit her head.  You wondered if he was right.  You wondered if other people thought the same.  Even after 2 neurologists told you it was a ticking time bomb and your actions wouldn't have set it off any sooner.  You wondered if she 'left' because you told her in the hospital that day (not that you even know if she could hear you) that you understood she missed her mom and you would take care of things on this end so she could go and that you'd understand and it would be okay. Would she have stayed if you had been more willing to fight?

Your dad didn't talk to you for years because he was upset that you said he didn't love you in an upset middle-schooler fight.  He thought you owed him an apology for your disrespect.  You thought he was just confirming your accusations and should try to make you feel loved.  You were a middle-schooler after all.

The boys in 5th grade made fun of you during the pledge of allegiance, saying you were grabbing yourself because you were already developing.

The boys in 8th grade cat-called you if you ever wore a skirt or low-cut shirt.  It made you feel important.

The boys in high school apparently said you were an amazing kisser and talked about you.  So you found out later from a friend who had kissed you, and then told you that was why.

You caught your 2 best friends in high school trying on your (size 9) pants and dancing around laughing at your 'clown pants'.

You overheard your parents fighting about you being in summer school PE, which you thought was just so you would be able to take art class during the school year instead, and there being ice cream in the house.  You heard your dad liken you to a whale and say that the ice cream shouldn't be around.
In your anger and hurt, you called a friend and decided to try pot to see what all the fuss was about and to really piss him off like he had hurt you.  It was a one-day, one-experience kind of thing but the effect was that he again no longer spoke to you except during choir practice- because he was the choir director and you were the pianist....even though that was the only time he went to church, or at least anything more than the occasional Sacrament meeting.

In high school, you got a concussion so bad that you couldn't remember how to do simple math and couldn't read a page in a book without falling asleep.

You saw your best friend get attacked by a dog right next to you when you were 4 years old.  You felt bad that it was her and not you because you didn't want her to hurt like that.

People told you that you shouldn't be sad.  People told you that you were being a victim and should stop.  People told you that it was all your fault.  You didn't even know you were sad. You didn't even recognize the pattern of victimization.  You thought it was your fault.

It wasn't true.

Self, you were victimized.  You were used by others and not by God.  You had hard things in your life.  More than many can understand in such a short time.  It doesn't mean you were deserving of those things.  It doesn't make you special.  It means you were strong.  You survived.  You, and God, have turned these things for your good.

These things do not define you, and yet they are you.  Being a new and better person doesn't mean that you were a bad person before.  It doesn't invalidate or lessen the worth of your self at any given stage in your life.  You are simply at a different point in your life now.  You are here because of what you've been through but you might have been here even without them.  You might not be here without them.  You could be in a different place, a much worse place, because of all this.  You needn't feel bad.  You are strong.  You are a survivor.  You have hurt and you have tried to take care of yourself and you have tried to protect yourself...all the best you could and the best you knew how with what you had at the time.  You really did try your best with what you had and what you understood and where you were in your life.

I know, because I am you.
And it's okay.

Don't worry about what other's judgments have been or what they may be.  Don't worry about those who've been unkind.  Don't wish these things on them either.  Don't think you willingly took these things upon yourself so that you would learn or so that you would get others to feel sorry for you in an attempt to feel loved.  No, that's not the way.  You've let it go and given it over.  You are a new person but loving yourself now doesn't mean not loving yourself then.  There is someone who gets that, and in the end He is all that matters.



  1. "There's someone who gets it and in the end He is all that matters." - THAT is powerful lady. All of your experiences have brought you to where you are and you are beautiful and learning and striving and focusing on the Lord and THAT is beautiful. It reminds me of a new favorite scriptures: "For behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." 1 Nephi 20:10.

    Proud of you for where you are and what you're accomplishing. You're an example to me.


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