Dear Self at 15
Dear Self at 15,
Tomorrow something is going to happen that is going to change your life forever. What I want you to know is that you will be raped and your boyfriend will be the rapist. You will find yourself unable to scream because you are so shocked and confused and because you really liked this guy, and you had worked so hard to get him to notice you. Because of that, you will not be able to tell anyone about it for years. I also want you to know that you are still a valuable, important girl. Just because someone hurts you does not mean you are bad and horrible now. So, stop treating yourself bad! You need to understand about this stuff so that you can work through it, but you will succeed eventually!
Tomorrow, you will be frightened and things will happen to your body that you cannot understand. Be proud that you cannot put yourself in a place where what was done to you makes sense. You did NOT cause this. You COULD NOT cause this. Your dreams and girlish imagination could not predict this. Your mind had no knowledge of the path this day would take. Do not be ashamed that you do not understand why this happened. Also, do not believe the vile and ugly things you will begin to tell yourself. These are not true.
When you are being raped, you will try everything you can to stop it but it won’t work. That doesn’t mean you failed or did something bad, so don’t spend the next decade blaming yourself- you tried! And just because it was rape doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough for anyone after that. You are!
Tomorrow, your body will be harmed, your mind will be attacked, and your spirit will mourn. But, you will not die, you will not lose your mind to this and your spirit will sustain you. You must not let the events of tomorrow scar your vision for the future. You have a beautiful gift and you must hang on to it. That gift is your compassion. You are a young girl now, and you have a timid spirit because you have been taught that your heart and your thoughts do not matter. But they do. You will make a contribution to this world and you will be a woman who can and should prize her womanhood and her success, however, this will be a challenge for you.
Tomorrow, you will begin the lies. Lies to cover the truth that you cannot fathom. You will keep this secret for years and blame yourself for keeping it a secret, but you need to forgive yourself. Keeping the secret was not a failure you caused, it was a form of survival that you needed to do. I wish I could say you’ll get through it ok. The truth is, you won’t. You’ll start hating yourself and your body. You will do horrible things to punish yourself. You will continue the lies about the extremes you will go to and the reasons for your actions.
This one instance may not feel like much right now, but it is. Please don’t downplay its significance because you will only internalize destructive habits and then, years later, you’ll be unable to figure out why these habits are still a part of your life. And then, you will have to spend years trying to undo the damage you have done to yourself. I know it is hard to love yourself, but please let someone love you. Find the strength to look for a person that can help you, that will love you in both your greatest and most destructive moments.
You’re a girl, a 15 year old girl. You can’t understand the evil in the world yet. Being innocent and naïve is not a crime. Being unsuspecting is not a crime. It doesn’t make you stupid- rather, it makes you pure. That’s a lovely and good thing. You’ll think that all is lost- your innocence, your purity, your virginity. You’ll consider yourself dirty and unworthy but you’re not. Please watch the language you use to talk about yourself. Try to stop using dark, catastrophic words to describe yourself such as dirty, unlovable, broken and wounded for life, etc. In truth, you are none of those things- you are hurt.
For a long time you are going to flatten your emotions about tomorrow’s rape. You did not ask for this pain. You do not deserve this pain. But, its still there so please don’t push your emotions away. I know you feel that tears betray you, but if you can, just let them come this time. You will talk about what happened in a flat ‘matter of fact’ way because you will think that is how a rape victim should sound. You will say to yourself “I should be over this; crying is weakness; if I show emotions then that doesn’t show that I am strong.” Try to show connection between your thoughts and feelings. It is possible to transform your emotions from the suffocating, flooding despair you might feel at first to a sadness that reflects the hurt you will have suffered which doesn’t overcome you, drown you or terrify you. By crying for your trauma, you can begin to accept it as a real loss, and not merely something disgusting done to you. Grieving will be a sign of change for you because it will mean that you are starting to see yourself as a worthy person who was wronged. You will see that you are a hurt person, not a bad person, and that you were hurt by someone who never saw your worth. You will also grieve the lost time when you could not see your own worth, and buried it in the obsessive/perfectionistic lifestyle you turned to after the rape.
By grieving, you will recognize that as you have grown up the world has honored fewer and fewer of your gifts and has offered you less and less choice about who you will be. As a younger girl, many parts of you could be praised and respected. But as you develop physically and emotionally, the attributes that the world will seek from you will be ‘pretty, cute and sweet’ and very little else. And the rape will compound this diminishment of who you are allowed to be by stealing away your very sense of power and security in the world.
Tomorrow, you will not have a choice about the rape, but you will have a choice about how you recover from the trauma. There are some pieces of you that you will never get back. You will have to accept that they are gone. And for years and years you will feel hopeless because of that, as if the core of you was stolen and you will have to live out your days like a hollow person with no heart inside. But what you will learn to realize is that you don’t need those old pieces to re-grow. Those were pieces of a person you will no longer be. They will be pieces of a hurt and broken you, and let ‘em go. You will be growing into something new. I hope you realize this sooner rather than later. You do not have to do this alone. You are lovable and you are loved, no matter what you do. You have the strength to do this. Your life is worth it.