Words by Rebekah Richardson from her blog With His Hands
Hi sweet love,
I wish we could talk over tea, with some cozy blankets and a warm fire.
I wish you could hear my voice as I tell you truth and cry with you as we dismiss lies, together.
I wish I could walk this through with you and bring you to the other side, because I promise it is beautiful.
Would you spare a second and listen to me? I wish I were talking out of ignorance my love but I’m not.
I know you remember all of the things that you wish you couldn’t, and that the small parts your mind has somehow blocked out is not nearly enough for you to feel whole again.
I know you remember when it happened, and how it happened.
I know the words flashbacks, nightmares, triggers, terrors, are far too familiar and real to you.
I know you’ve fallen into the trap of blaming yourself and you constantly go over the ‘what ifs’.
What if I didn’t wear that dress?
What if I hadn’t gotten drunk?
What if I didn’t go to that party?
What if I never went to that church?
What if I payed more attention to those red flags?
What if I hadn’t talked to them?
What if I hadn’t dated him?
What if I had noticed more?
What if I didn’t ignore my gut?
I know the waves of guilt are strong and powerful and you sometimes feel like you’re drowning.
I know you’re tired of fighting the current of self-hatred.
I know that every time you think you’re finally getting your head above water and you start to feel the air on your skin, another wave comes from a person or place or thing that reminds you and sends you back to that ugly place.
I know it’s often lonely because no matter how many people tell you they understand, you know they really can’t because it didn’t happen to them and even if something different did, it’s not the same. They can’t possibly know the anger and brokenness and utter defeat that shackles you daily.
I know fear has gone from an acquaintance to a leech on your body that refuses to relent or let go and that some days it holds so tight you feel like you’re suffocating.
I know it’s something that you can’t forget, no matter how much you desperately wish you could. You can’t go back to that ignorance or innocence or naivety you once had before because so much has changed and there’s no such thing as “before” for you anymore.
I know you’re constantly fighting the war that wages relentlessly inside of you because the battle is not even close to ending and it doesn’t care that your shoes have holes in them and your feet bleed and blister more with every single step.
Would you listen to me love?
I won’t dare to say I understand because God knows I don’t. My story is not your story and the pain I feel can’t possibly be identical to yours but God knows I get it. Because this letter is as much for you as it is for me because these words that I speak, they aren’t the ones that you’re normally told. Because you live in a world of victim-blaming and rape culture and you’re so fluent in the language of self-hatred because it’s been shoved down your throat since you were just a babe. Because you’re left picking up the broken pieces of something that someone else recklessly broke and your hands are bleeding from all of the shards of glass and so are mine. So are mine.
But will you listen to me as I tell you that no matter how many times you go through the ‘what ifs’ in your head nothing will ever change because you can’t alter or delete the past that haunts you day and night.
Because no matter how many times you mentally change what you wore or drank or did or said or ignored or listened to or dismissed, you are still a victim of abuse and no ‘what if’ will be able to change that.
Because as you constantly shower yourself with blame and anger and hatred, you fail to realize your aim is off because it’s hard as hell to shoot that arrow at the right target. But love that target isn’t you, no matter how many ‘what ifs’ have told you differently.
I beg you to aim at them, and not you.
Because no matter how many lies are thrown at you by yourself and others around you, it doesn’t change that their heart is selfish, manipulative and sinister. Because no matter how easy it is to tell yourself it was your fault, you can’t argue their careless behaviour that got you here in the first place.
There is a time for forgiveness but there is also a time to direct your anger towards the person deserving. Will you believe me when I say that that person is not you?
Will you believe me when I tell you that though you were a victim of abuse, you have incredible strength and you have the power to overcome and change your name to Victor?
It’s time love.
It’s time to say SCREW YOU to the pressure of immediate forgiveness and it’s time to throw out the calender that is telling you how long it’s been since it happened and asking why you aren’t over it yet. It’s time to pull back the arrow and aim it forward instead of back at you. It’s time to let yourself be angry at the right person, at least for a little while.
There is no such thing as a timeline for healing.
My dear they have taken enough from you, I beg you not to let them win. I beg you to listen to me as I tell you they don’t win by what they did, they only win by taking control of your future. I beg you to hold the reins and dictate what’s next for you. I beg you to drop the knife that is your self hatred and realize that you are not the one who did this.
You are a warrior and you have the strength to win this battle. And if some days all that is is getting out of bed and doing what you have to do that day, that is more than enough.
Please drop that knife.
Your heart is far too fragile to handle any more of the guilt that doesn’t belong to you.
Rebekah Richardson is a flawed follower of Christ, coffee lover, and writer. She is seeking truth, beauty and Jesus in the small things of life in beautiful Canada, and realizing all three things are found in the same place. Keep up with her on Twitter.