What I Want to Tell My Younger, Abused Self


Dear Younger Self,

Trust your instincts. Your frustrations are proof that something is wrong. The knot of anxiety in your stomach is not “normal.” You should not have to dread going home. You should not have to live a life surrounded by their walls of negativity. You should not have to worry what kind of mood they will be in. You should not have to endure anyone else’s rage. You should not be expected to stay silent in the face of constant criticism. No, you are not being overdramatic. Yes, it really is that bad.

There is nothing you can do to make them love you. There is nothing you can do to make them understand your point of view. There is nothing you can do to make them change. If there was, you would have done it by now, because all you want is peace. In spite of what they tell you, your behavior, good or bad, is not causing their rage and neglect.

There is nothing wrong with your emotions. It is “normal” to feel angry when people are hurting you. It is “normal” to feel scared when people are out of control. It is “normal” to feel sad when people fail to see the good in you. It is “normal” to feel ashamed when the people who raised you trained you to believe it was your fault. But it is not your fault. The fact that you feel a “normal” response to your environment means that you are not “crazy,” and that you are capable of responding appropriately to the things that are hurting you.

You have the right to say no. You have the right to scream it into the face of anyone trying to control you. You have the right to protect yourself. You have the right to get far away from anyone who is manipulating you. Yes, anyone. I know you fear the trouble you will get into for doing it, but I promise you, there are safe people — therapists, counselors, social workers, and law enforcement officers — who will support you. Yes, you will get into trouble with your abusers. Yes, your life will change. Yes, it’s worth it.

You already know what’s right and what’s wrong. You are not required to please anyone but yourself. You do not need to be responsible for the way anyone else reacts. Your abusers see your power, which is why they are trying so hard to take it away from you. Don’t let them.

When you move out and are away from them, you will make some mistakes. It’s good to make some mistakes, because it means you are learning and growing. The sooner you learn that you don’t have to please them and there is nothing you can do to make them understand, the sooner you will be free. The sooner you realize that no one else can fill the void that they left in you, the sooner you will learn to fill it yourself. Hold on to your power. It may be many years before you’ll get the chance to discover how beautiful it is. The more you use it, the more it grows.

It’s hard when you are still living at home and you feel trapped, but there will come a time when you will be on your own. When you are capable of making your own choices free from their criticisms, you will choose well. Stay true to all you know is right and good. Because you are capable of seeing what’s wrong today, you will be able to create what’s right tomorrow. When you are free from their control, you will use your experiences to heal yourself and others.

Because you have seen the face of evil, you will put more goodness, truth, beauty, justice and peace in this world. You already know your purpose.  Please remember this letter. It will set you free.

Love,

Your Future Self

If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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