To the person I loved at 16,
You told me many years ago that I was special. That I was different. That you loved me because of how much I cared for other people.
Then you let me go.
The only person who I ever thought cared about me left.
And it broke me. Really broke me.
Then I asked myself, am I really special? Am I really different? Is it still worthwhile caring so much for other people when they have the potential to break you? To let you go?
These are questions I have asked myself during my 30 years on Earth….
…. as I kept my secret of child sexual abuse for 20 years.
…. as I questioned the love of my husband’s – the father of my three children.
…. as my Grandma lay dying last year and I questioned why I was too busy to make time for her.
…. as I searched frantically for a job for 9.5 months after studying a course I was really passionate about but got absolutely nowhere.
These are questions that were reinforced by what you did to me, not caused by what you did to me.
You see, I have you to thank for loving me when my abuse was still a secret. For loving me even when I did not love myself. At all.
For believing that I am special. That I am different. That what is most lovable about me is how much I care about other people.
I want you to know that I have just been offered my first job into the Community Services sector!
And yesterday was my last day at my current job and I was given the sweetest farewell. I was held tightly, wished well, told how proud they were of me, how much they would miss having me around, and tears and sadness were not just felt by me but the people I had worked with… for just a short time of 8 months.
Then I remembered you. And I remembered how you would always tell me how special I am. How different I am to everyone else.
Then I remembered how much it broke you that you had broken me. How it continues to break you even after 14 years.
And I want you to know that I forgive you. That it’s okay.
Both you and my Grandma both had one thing in common. You would stop at nothing to say how special I was. How I was different.
And I’ve grappled with this for so many years, questioning the validity of these statements. Always justifying, always excusing why someone might have told me this. That maybe, just maybe, they were just being nice.
I am less than two weeks from starting a job with a manager who told me, “We are hiring you because of your passion for helping people. We need people who really care.”
I am much closer to understanding now that I am special. That I am different.
I understand better now when you say you’ll never find someone like me. That letting me go was the biggest mistake you’ve ever made. But I also understand the real reason you let me go.
You wanted me to be happy because I’d given so much happiness to you. You thought I deserved better.
And I am happy. I am so so incredibly happy.
Letting me go was the best thing you ever did.
I have a husband who tells me what you already knew when I was 16. He tells me I’m special. He tells me I’m different.
And he tells me that my book will inspire people, that it will be a best seller. That I will impress everyone in my new job. That he is so lucky to have me as the mother of his three children. That I gave him back his purpose for living. That my hope in people gives him hope.
Thank you for breaking my heart.
Thank you for being sorry. Without your apology, without your remorse, without your pain – I wouldn’t know the impact I can really have on one person.
And when you’ve experienced the fear, trauma, secrets that I felt as a child – understanding that you are special, that you are different – means the absolute world.