I’m in the process of writing my first book – a memoir – and at times, it can be very triggering. In order to write a book that really moves people, that helps them to feel every emotion that I was feeling… I’m going back in time to re-create moments in all their rawness and authenticity.
Doing this has been the hardest for the most painful moments in life. I often find myself crying after writing or needing to take a moment to bring myself back to reality. I become so immersed in my past that the present can often collide with how I’m feeling.
There are approximately two chapters in my book dedicated to one person who really broke me at a young age. Who changed how I saw myself and how I saw others. Who I was having trouble letting go of for the past 15 years. Who I thought I could never let go of. Until now.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been getting to know someone from work. Someone who doesn’t work alongside me but works in the same building. Occasionally, we may communicate in a professional capacity. We noticed early on that we click very well. So we have started to have lunch together, catch up for coffee and drinks after work. It feels like I’ve known this person for years.
In such a short period of time, I have seen our friendship blossom into something deep and meaningful. And what is incredible and surprising about this is that there could have been so many reasons why our friendship wouldn’t work – but it does.
And this got me thinking about this person who broke me at a young age. For so long, I blamed myself for how I was treated. I didn’t think I was good enough. I’ve spent years trying to make sense of what happened – questioning my inadequacies and telling myself that maybe if I was different then things would’ve been different.
This person was one of the reasons why I tried to end my life at 17 years old. They are one of the reasons why I thought nobody would ever love me.
But after the short couple months I’ve spent with this close friend from work, I’ve realised that I am not to blame. Despite what he may have told me 15 years ago.
I did nothing wrong. I was everything I could’ve been for this person, but they still decided to walk away.
Having this close friend care about me when I’ve been at my worst, not continuing to walk away when they could’ve, caring about me without reservation, understanding my strengths and not letting me doubt myself over my weaknesses.. has made me see that I don’t need to be anyone but who I already am.
So, this person who broke me, who I gave so many chances to, is finally someone I am able to let go of.
There were so many unbearable moments where I grieved over the time and memories we shared, over what could’ve been… listening to sad songs, with the pain of everything flooding back as the lyrics really hit home.
But now, those feelings of emptiness, pain and hurt are no longer there. I don’t grieve for this person anymore and about the time we had. They are the chapter of my life I have closed for good.
As someone trained in Youth Work, I know that protective factors are the key to overcoming trauma, a mental health condition, any particularly challenging time in your life – and I believe that my own personal experience has proven this to be true.
After keeping my child sexual abuse a secret for 20 years then coming forward only 4 years ago, I have had to learn to make sense and move forward in regards to what happened to me.
And I would never have been able to do that without all the supportive people in my life.
And I wouldn’t have been able to let go of this person without the friend I now have in my life.
I realise now that I deserve to be loved without reservation. I deserve to have people in my life who really understand how passionate I am about helping people. Who don’t have to constantly justify how they mistreat me. Who don’t say sorry over and over again, but stay the same person they always have been.
To the person who broke me at 16 years old, again at 17 years old, then over and over for the past 15 years – I didn’t deserve to be pushed away again because I can’t give you what you want. I deserve to be in your life because I am enough.
So, from this point on, I am letting go of empathising with people who don’t deserve my empathy. I’m letting go of my constant justifications for your mistreatment. I’m letting go of pain and hurt I never deserved.
You asked me how I could care about you after so many years, how I don’t hate you, how I am not angry, how I forgave you…
It’s because I loved you, unconditionally, for such a long time.
But I realise now that that love was never truly returned and reciprocated. Not really.
And I deserve better.
If you too, are struggling with letting go of a toxic relationship, please know that it’s been difficult for me too. That the journey has been filled with ebbs and flows. That I have cried and cried about what used to be.
But you deserve better. You deserve people in your life who really do lift you up, who don’t make you feel that you are hard to love.
Please hang in there, keep smiling. Surround yourself with people who know you’re not okay when you pretend that you are, who will wait for you to get onto the bus because your safety means everything to them, who don’t try to change you or control you.
Thanks to this friend, I find it much easier to wake up every day motivated that one day my book will be published. That one day I will be helping people with the skillset that I have, in the capacity that I want.
That I will change lives just by being me.
Thank you to this friend for loving me the way I deserve.
Thuy Le (formerly known as Thuy Yau) is a freelance writer and Youth Work graduate living in Perth, Australia. She loves to share her own personal experiences about overcoming adversity, as she believes that human beings are more capable than they realise. She writes to make a positive difference in the world and to inspire others to learn from themselves and their own experiences. Her writing has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids. She is currently writing her first book.