27 years old
To the one who feels unseen,
I see you.My father is a narcotic addict and has been for over twenty years. He was in a farm accident when I was a young child and has been on “chronic pain management” ever since. I grew up learning that “love” was an unpredictable thing. My dad was a hurting man, both physically and emotionally, so asking to be loved by him often ended in disappointment but I didn’t know any better; I was just a little girl. I found myself wanting to make my Dad proud. I wanted to spend time with him. I wanted to have him make me promises and see him keep them.I remember I wasn’t very old the first time my Dad broke a promise he had made me. It was probably something minor like he didn’t show up at a soccer game he said he would be at but I remember feeling so hurt that my Dad did not keep his word. I wasn’t very old the first time he called me a name in front of my friends and I wasn’t very old the first time he violently shook me to make me shut up. I was nine years old the first time I found myself in the bathroom with a razor blade cutting my arm, I was ten the first time I contemplated suicide and a few years later, I would find myself in a romantic relationship with someone who had little regard for my wellbeing and would eventually cheat on me. I’m not sure how many times the altercations between my Father and I turned physically violent because I actually can’t remember much of my childhood. But every so often nowadays I still have flashbacks of my Dad dragging me across the floor by my ankles or throwing a swing at me but stopping just before he hit my face. This was how he “kept me in my place” using fear tactics. I was such a spunky little kid; I had fight and feist and fire… maybe that’s why I got hit the hardest out of all the kids. At least that’s what the rest of my family told me, “Don’t provoke him!” “Don’t push his buttons!” “Christine – stop! You know what’s going to happen!”. For awhile, I knew that being called those names by my Dad or being hit like that wasn’t right so I tried to stand up to my Dad but often that just resulted in more pain. I was eighteen when the physical abuse stopped but the emotional and verbal abuse continued for a few years. At the end of it all, I was far from ok though. I learned that love was a painful and unpredictable thing. I actually grew up believing that I deserved this degree of mishandling. I believed that someday my husband would be as irritated and annoyed by me as my Father often was so would resort to treating me the same way. During my early twenties, I remember watching my friends fall in love and get married thinking that they were making the whole thing up. Love like that wasn’t real and if it was, then I believed it wasn’t real for someone like me. The worst part of the abuse wasn’t the bruises or broken hearts or moments of screaming and yelling, the worst part was that often on the morning after one of our fights Dad would call me beautiful and act like nothing ever happened. I began to wonder if it even did happen. Did anyone see me? Did anyone see what was happening? Did it even matter? Was I crazy? Was I overreacting? The bruises on my ankles proved that the abuse was really happening but everyone acted like they were oblivious to it. To the one who feels unseen, I see you. I know it seems like you’ll never be free of this but you will. I promise. The days of being mishandled and mistreated are coming to an end for you. I pray that they end as you read this letter. You’re going to meet Love someday – real love. Not the unpredictable kind that calls you beautiful one minute and a ***** the next, but the kind that waits for you, the kind that fights FOR you instead of against you. This kind of love exists – I’ve seen it. I’m going to walk towards it, because I refuse to believe that I deserve to be mistreated any longer. The cycle of abuse that went on in my family ends with me. My sons and daughters will never know what it feels like to be hurt by the one who is supposed to protect them. They will never know what it feels like to be so bruised and broken that they pray to go numb just so that the pain will stop.
To the one who feels unseen, I see you. I pray that the “spunk” in you never dies. It’s what’s going to stop the cycle of abuse in your own family.
(These are real letters from real woman who have sent me their stories to share with all of you! They have not been altered, edited, or changed in anyway and if you have a story of your own to share email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)