Married but Not

I am not your wife; you are not my husband.

We exist. You don’t talk to me. You had a bad day. You need to vent. You have a question. I have to answer or I get a “HELLO??!!?”

I am your calendar, Note-taker, sidechick, occasional project. I am not your wife. I take up space, oxygen, finances, frustrate and irritate you, make you accountable. There is possibly an app for that. It’s not a wife you require but an assistant.

You don’t remember what I tell you, rarely follow through because you weren’t listening in the first place. You heard my words but you weren’t listening enough to care. You count on me to remind you if it’s important enough. No investment required. You keep score. I am not your wife.

I may be gone soon. You will pretend you care and there is a chance you might because you don’t want to be alone but that’s not the same as missing me because you don’t know me. You are not my husband.

You know my limits but ignore them. You know when I’ve hit my wall but push my face into it and are quick to anger when I become overwhelmed. You are not my husband.

You choose not to learn how to support me. You prefer when I keep my symptoms hidden and praise me only when I am able to do so. We are not a team.

You see and share only how this has affected you. But choose to ignore how any of what you’ve been through has affected me. I am not your wife.

We are not married. This is not love. Love is patient and love is kind, understanding. Love does not have conditions. I feel unloved. You feel unloved.

You do not recognize how exhausted I am. You do not recognize how scared of you I am. You do not recognize how I hate myself in this relationship. We are not husband and wife. I am alone.

You are my mom – praise me in public and scold me in private. You are the face of the model husband. “What a great team you make.”

They have no clue.

I don’t feel supported. You have learned to tell me to look away but emotionally you have also made me turn away.

You have no clue. I have no one to support me and that feels lonely.

“I am so busy with work. ”

When you were off work, you were “so stressed about finding work”

You have no clue what goes on in my head. No clue. But I will not bother telling you because you don’t hear me. You don’t remember. You don’t care. You have your own stuff.

We are not husband and wife. You can leave your ring at home. I give up.

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Siblings Don’t Matter when it comes to Loss by Homicide. Victimless Victims of crime.

I was planning to write this as an open letter to all government agencies involved, but I digressed, as I have other plans following this letter.

I am saddened by the fact that neither the agency built specifically to help those families of crime victims, that after three attempts and appeals, I do not qualify for three different reasons; has determined that I am NOT a victim, and has managed to do so in the most condescending ways possible. I am saddened that this may be happening to other siblings out there who may need help. I am enraged that there is not one governing body for the entire country and that it is left for each province to make arbitrary determinations, and that no exceptions can be allowed, especially given that this was NOT a typical crime / murder situation, but a complicated Mr. Big Sting situation and much of the trauma and symptoms have been a result of the actions of that; of the errors of the RCMP. But they didn’t bother to check much into it did they?

Mine was not a usual circumstance by any means, not AT ALL, and yet I was written off and it should also be noted that NONE of my doctors were contacted at any time to confirm my medical condition. They did not even take into consideration the possibility of late-onset of PTSD, and it seems that the labor intensive summary I wrote of my story was not even read.

And then there is the RCMP. Compassionless – banging on my door after it stated on my letter that they are the biggest trigger. Coming to my door wearing bullet proof vests, with clips on their belt loops. To this day, I cannot even see the insignia of the RCMP, cannot be within eyesight of a uniformed officer, cannot see a weapon, without a panic attack or worse, a flashback. It is safe to say that at this point in my life, if I was in personal danger, even to the point of rape, I would still not call 911 for fear of having to share a conversation with an officer.

But when I wrote to them asking for help, for real help, out of compassion, as I know that in the past they have been generous with others who have reached out to them, I was offered nothing but numbers to services in my community that depend on donations, programs that are temporary, or served by students, interns, and are non-profit. Unfortunately, if they also had done their research and contacted my doctors, or read they letter, they would know that I have been declined even by Psychologists who cannot help me as my case is out of their scope. I need specialized treatment that is beyond what we can afford.

I see the murder scene and the court room every night as I have not been nightmare free since Feb 15, 2015. I have flashbacks regarding the Mr. Big Sting, the day the case was dropped, the two RCMP offers that we saw everyday in the courthouse telling us “we’ve got this,” when they didn’t. I have flashbacks of the constant barrage of news articles, pictures of my brother on the tv, in the paper, phone calls asking for comments. I have flashbacks of the undercover officers who stole the intimacy that should have been ours at the viewing, at the funeral, as they watched and videotaped for evidence, all because they had made such a large error in not following protocol the night they determined it was an electrocution. This was NOT my fault, and yet I am paying for it, and all they can offer me are cards to community services. Not even an apology.

At this point, I expect nothing from you. We are so far in debt, having to cash in our RRSP’s, and depend on Lines of Credit and credit to pay for the treatments I have had it, I’ve given up on trying to get help from the governing bodies that the health professionals have told me should be able to help me. I have considered starting a Crowdfunding page and sharing all the letters/emails received denying and the reasons, from both the RCMP and Crime Victim Services.

In summary,

Crime Victims:

  1. I needed to be at the scene of the crime – this made no sense, as only my brother, his boss (also murdered), and the murderer himself would then qualify
  2. I am a sibling – I was the closest to him – his first best friend; know/knew more about him than even his wife, as we survived a pretty brutal childhood that I know he did not share the full details of with her before he was killed. I was also over at his house most weekends baby-sitting or playing with his children. I don’t understand why siblings don’t qualify. In fact I had just spoken to him on the phone the week before.

What strikes me as both odd and as heartbreaking is that I was his first best friend friend; hold more secrets than any child or adult should ever have to hold; secrets that even his wife, or children will never know.

I had already, years prior, attended what I was being pressured by the RCMP Car 67 and their sad attempts to push me into the publicly funded ill-equipped professionals to deal with my “situation,” to attend. In that group, just like 20 years prior, I heard that same sentence come from the lips of homicide victims that caused me to do the same thing that shut me up back then. “No parent should even bury their child.” and, “no one will ever understand what it’s like to bury their own child.”

There are currently, and there were not, twenty years ago (I researched) no support groups for siblings for homicide victims. Unfortunately, I am beyond the help of a support group. I am in desperate need of specific and individual help to get my life back, get back to work, get a good night’s sleep without nightmares, step into a crowded space without flashback, have a police officer approach me, without collapsing to floor in a complete panic attack.

Victim Services has done this country a disservice as a whole by missing a massive demographic by assuming that siblings of homicide victims are NOT victims, but I, Christina Suzanne Hetherington, am one of them. But had you bothered to LOOK into my file and contact any of my physicians, you would know that. But you didn’t. You took your stamp, and denied it. And here I am, three years off work, and losing hope of a losing my life in the process.

2.  I had waited too long to apply – this is the most frustrating reason – was told they’d make exceptions but then was told I’d waited too long. I guess I waited too long to finally crack. I learned at a young age to stuff my feelings as a tool for survival in my home, and honestly, I was really pushed to the side by my family during the time of the murder. The only way I knew how to cope was to stay busy, to keep my head down and to stay busy and push forward. And that worked for me, until Nov 2014 when I spoke at a Remembrance Day Ceremony that mimicked me speaking at my brother’s funeral (being videotaped, RCMP present) and me having to sit with the RCMP. And then in January of 2015, The Fifth Estate ran a program about Mr Big Stings gone wrong, and there was Jason Dix talking about Operation Kabaya; the first time I’d seen him since he sued the government, and things started to fall apart for me. These were the catalysts for me, and by February I was experiencing nightmares and flashbacks, and absolute fear of going outside by myself, things I’d never experienced before. I’d even considered suicide. If you think this is what I’d pictured for myself at this time of my life when I had a great career and was enjoying my life and my friends and being able to be independent and travel with my husband, you are completely mistaken. I did NOT plan for PTSD at all. So it was a complete slap in the face to hear that I waited to long. I went as long as I could and the trauma finally caught up with me. Perhaps had you contacted any of my professional contacts, you would have learned about that, but you didn’t.

**You stated that you wished you could help but were governed by the Treasury Board. I am extremely familiar with the Treasury Board, and there can also be proposals or exceptions made when you want to. Sending Car 67 was the last thing that I wanted at my house as your officers are a major trigger. And what they had to offer me was so far beneath what I actually need.

I am about to lose my job as they cannot hold it for me any longer so mine is now a matter of urgency. I have worked hard to nothing but get back, but they no longer wish to hold that position. Sunlife, my insurance company, though paying my wage loss earnings (a percentage of my wages) has refused to provide any treatment or funding to do so. I have made numerous phone calls to their company begging; not an exaggeration, in tears, and begging for them to help me get the help that I need to get back to work. They say that they will get back to me and either don’t or tell that they can’t at this time. Then they send me for an evaluation to determine the type of treatment I need, but don’t do anything to help me get the treatment, because they say, “we don’t have to.” So, without them helping me either, I will be losing that job and the benefits with it. Without the benefits paying for medications, it will be like carrying a second mortgage; and we will eventually be homelesss. My manager will be contacting me again once he returns from vacation.

It’s one more agency that has proven that even though NONE of this is my fault, I am solely responsible to fix it, even if it means potentially losing my house doing it.

It’s sad that my only resort at this point will be relying on the giving of strangers, and who knows, they may give nothing also.

Please change your laws for others, so they are not left in desperate situations such as this.

Let’s be honest. I will never receive my brother back, I will never receive justice; the investigation that should have occurred from the beginning, nor will I, and most importantly, from the RCMP, receive a formal and sincere apology for the pain, the injustice, the errors, the lies, the last moments of intimacy with my brother that they stole from us as they swarmed us in their undercover operatorion.

I will also never be recognized as anyone who is worthy of feeling or of being impacted on such a deep level that it has affected my life in the way that it has because, I, in the eyes as the Criminial Injuries Reviews Boarsds am JUST a sibling. As JUST a sibling, I was my brother’s first beat friend, born 16 months apart, we spent most of our childhood together mainly trying to survive it. As JUST a sibling, I spent most of the last weekends of his life at his home. As JUST a sibling, I was cast aside assuming most of the responsibility as my mother took front and center as the main victim and not once did anyone bother to ask how Inwas doing, and nor did I offer as it seemed irrelevant when the words “No parent should have to bury their own child,” were repeated daily. There was no room for my grief.

I attended a homicide support group before my boss forced me to speak at an event 20’yeara later that would mimic me speaking at my brothers funeral and as it was not a support group for siblings only, there was a lady that repeated those same words I’d heard 20’yeara earliers “no child should have to bury their own son.” I realized I couldn’t compete with that. There truly is no place for siblings. We are not recognized.

My condition is not treatable at the support group level and it was a complete slap in the face to be provided pamphlets and links to such supports.

I am now at the point where my delay in getting the proper treatment has cost me my job. Had Victim Services or the RCMP stepped up to help and not pushed me to the side because apparently I am NOT a victim, which in reality is complete absurdity, I’d be on track to getting my life back.

I’m sure Jason Dix, Mike Ritchie, and Gord Steinke are doing better than I am.

So please tell me – why is it that that siblings are not considered family? Not considered to suffer any affect from homicides. We are pushed to the sides and literally left to hold it together, left to keep our families spirits up, all the while shoving our own grief down until one day it becomes too much.

The interesting and sad thing is that instead of trying to stuff my feelings down for twenty years and instead began to self destruct, I would find myself in a paid treatment facility. But I didn’t. I pushed forward and stuffed my feelings down as I was taught throughout my childhood and 20 years later, I am hit with. with the most torturous thing I’ve ever experienced. Like I’ve said before, I was perfectly happy in my career and life and am just as shocked and frustrated to hear of late onset PTSD as anyone reading this.

I want the RCMP to finally take some accountability. I’ve not once received an apology for what has been stolen from me. You may not have killed my brother but your errors haunt my sleep every night and it makes my stomach churn that Jason Dix sits in the lime light time and time again for his wrongful imprisonment and then knowing that you use that particular Mr Big Sting as a training tool.

I see your glaring errors every night in my nightmares and the photos from the court room of my brother. I have flashbacks when I see the RCMP insignia and anyone video taping.

But according to Crime Victim Services, they ate “sympathetic” to my grief but stand behind their ridiculous policies that I am not an victim.

I am recommending that:

A) in complicated circumstances such as my own, this be overrides, and

B) there be a global definition of what constitutes a victim of crime.

Do you have any idea what it’s like to lose your best friend, have his face displayed I ever news out possible and yet tossed to the side because of the phrase “no parent should ever have to bury their child first.” I’ve been to those publicly funded groups and they leave me just as lost as as I felt going in. I sit in silence as I hear the stories of parents having lost their children or spouses, knowing there is no place for me as a sibling.

We have been pushed aside by our families, forgotten by the RCMP, and now considered insignificant despite the proven diagnoses by multiple doctors. This is not new, I am sure.

Please consider taking a closer a look at the policies of province and stop the allowance of rogue policies. PTSD is PTSD and siblings should be considered part of the family, especially in complicated cases as was my brothers.

From Accident to Homicide – My Story (part two)

I will back up a bit.

I had been attending a Christian Liberal Arts College, one that allowed me to take my first two years of my four year Bachelor’s degree mixed in with some Biblically based courses and to be on a campus with people that were also Christians.

Sadly all of late night chat and times of prayers, hugs and crying sessions were about to be tested.

It’s important to note that our dorm had a curfew and of we were to be away over a night or weekend, we needed to let our Resident Director know in advance.

In hind sight, I think this is the structure that i had craved all my life and the sense of family and belonging that I had longed for.

Immediately following my mother telling me that Jamie had been killed and that i couldn’t stay with the rest of the family, she did one of the cruelest things that a parent could do and it was not the first such thing she had done to me. Just a couple of years prior, Jamie had been in a freak accident at work that had everyone bone in face shattered and put him in a coma and she had asked me to tell my dad. Now she was telling me to be the one to tell my dad that his own son was dead!!

As I arrived back at the dorm to gather my things, I thought that first i had to tell my RD i wouldn’t be back for a couple of nights so I knocked on her door. As she answered it, o found myself just staring at her and try as I might, nothing came out of my mouth. I do recall eventually reaching behind to brace myself against the hallway wall and sliding down in sobs and finally uttering that I wouldn’t be sleeping there tonight because my brother was dead.

She said “ok,” That was it! And she just kept staring. She did not walk toward me to hug me, to see if I needed anything, invite me in, nothing. Just “ok.” I realized in that moment that my emotions, my real emotions needed to stay on lockdown.

As I walked through the hallway upstairs from my room to the bathroom to gather my belongings, girls that would normally interact with me suddenly were looking at the ground, shutting their doors or just plain ignoring me. I was a pariah. This group of girl supposedly there to support, uplift, encourage, suddenly didn’t have anything to say. I used the communal phone to make that heartbreaking call to my dad and got in my car and screamed at the top of my lungs!!!!

I drove the drive I had driven so many times; in fact only a half hour earlier, only it suddenly seemed foreign to me. I felt lost and as if I was in a city I’d never seen. It seemed darker; the street signs blurrier.

I got back to my mom’s house. I think my car was on autopilot, not knowing where to drive. I called to my brother’s house again. My mom answered.

“I’m at your place. Should I come over?”

“You can come over but there are too many people sleeping here already.”

My heart sank. I wanted to vomit. It’s as if I was asking a friend if I could sleepover. My brother just died and I wasn’t allowed to be with my family.

The naked truth.

I have an amazing smile!

This I am not proud of.

It is a cover for the fact that I feel completely  worthless.

I am a dichotomy.

I feel like I am good person – kind, honest, trustworthy, loyal, moral.

(How I obtained this, I will never know, because it was not something that was modelled for me in any way in my home.)

But at the same time, I feel like there is no purpose for me.

I have to bite my tongue frequently because it wants to utter the words,  “why?,” or “but.”

I can’t take a compliment, or encouragement, or any sort of affirmation without questioning the motive of the person offering it; without picking it apart and finding holes in the person’s statements, and ending right back to why they are wrong. I feel this way about everything from my appearance to my intelligence.

I really don’t like myself. I went from thriving (in my denial for nearly 40 years) to barely surviving.

I have fully taken over from my parents and am using their narrative. I was not worth their time; not worth their love or nurturing; not worth their celebration of my life, of my successes or even consoling in my time of failure.

I don’t know how to stop it. People have so many suggestions, from standing in front of a mirror and giving daily affirmations, to trying to meditate, to writing sticky notes of encouragement all over my home. What I need is to rewire my brain to stop the loop of telling myself that I am a failure and not worth the space I take up on this earth and start looking at what I have to offer, whatever the hell that may be, now that everything I worked for has been ripped away from me, thanks to that thing they call CPTSD.

If the flashbacks would stop. If the nightmares would give me a break, maybe, just maybe I could focus on trying to break this constant loop going on in my head.

“You are an idiot,” I tell myself for making the smallest mistake. This I have inherited from my father, and I no longer need for him to say it, but it has become an automatic response. I punish myself before any need say anything, even for mistakes that no-one around me would even notice.

“Don’t let it go to your head,” anytime someone says something nice to me. Or I wait for the second part of that, the “but.” And if it doesn’t come, I create it myself. This I inherited from my mother. She was sure to make sure that anything positive in my life was immediately torn down.

“You won’t amount to anything,” I was told. Looks like that is coming to fruition, and again. I don’t need to hear it from their lips anymore because it turns out it all worked out that way; all that I worked for and achieved, gone, just gone, and here I sit purposeless.

Woman of “Strength” or Righteous Indignation?

After some gentle nudging and my ever growing desire to pull myself out of isolation, I said “yes” to an invitation to attend a women’s conference at our church. I committed to the morning only because I knew the entire day would exhaust me. The noise, the people, the chatter, the fuss, the being “on,” the sitting, the being in a place I cannot escape from easily. I have slowly been getting to know the woman who had invited me and shockingly, I find myself trusting her in small doses, allowing myself to be authentic around her and to my surprise, she has responded with patience and kindness and shared and has not given up on me.

It was meant to be a place where women gathered to hear other women share stories and speeches of motivation, wisdom, inspiration, courage, and hope. By the second hour, I was filled with dread and anger and frustration but also awe and admiration.

A panel onstage was asked what each of them had to give up to become the strong Christian leaders/women they are today. The second woman said, with her lip quivering, her voice shaking, her body tense, fists clenched, and her knee bouncing, “I gave up the right to be angry. I gave up the right to be angry at those who hurt and abused me.”

Seven hundred women cheered. Several women behind me roared out “YES!”

My jaw dropped.

This woman was a survivor of sexual and physical violence. I didn’t know what to think. But suddenly I heard ALL my counsellors I’ve seen over the past three years in my ear, telling me how I would never get past or through this until I learned how to GET angry at those who hurt me; that I wouldn’t find healing until I stopped blaming myself and started to feel righteous indignation. Yet here I was at the precipice of healing and Christianity. Why does it need to be a choice? Forgive, forget, and move on. Such a simple formula. Come on!

I may not show it or know how to bring it to the surface and process it yet but deep inside me lays a seething heap of anger; pure raw anger. On the inside, I AM all kinds of angry yet most would never guess it. I am angry that there is supposedly this God up there that allowed me to be born into a family that didn’t want me, that didn’t care about me; that made me fight for everything I had only to see it all ripped away piece by piece. I am angry that I’ve seen more personal tragedy than a room full of my peers put together. But I am mostly angry at myself for cracking, for letting the seams split and not being able to hold it all together any longer and now being in a place that is unfamiliar, isolating, and scary. I am angry at the man who pulled the trigger and took away my best friend. I am angry at the officers who did their job carelessly and allowed agility man to walk. I am angry at my brother for going to work that day. I am angry for friends who drove carelessly and are no longer here. I am angry at cancer for taking other friends away. I am angry at mental illness for the several friends I’ve lost through suicide. I am angry at the belt that hung by the back door. I am angry that I went to the trial, that I spoke at the ceremony, that I blew my knee out, that I was born, that I wasn’t the kid my parents wanted. I am angry that I am not back at work yet, that I have no relationship with my family.

On the outside, I am fearful, anxious, zoned out, or faking a smile as I fight to push down the emotions fighting to trickle out. .

I don’t want to give up the right to be angry. I need to hold on to that right. I am going to need it someday when I’m ready. Most of my other rights have been violated or compromised. But this one I need to cash in when I finally learn how to implement it.

I have a feeling that my God will understand. But if he doesn’t, I choose healing. I choose to not blindly forgive those who trespass against me; to “be sweet,” and stifle that which is stirring within the depths of my soul, so much so that it seeps out in my sleep because I deny it through the day. Someday I will stop blaming and hating myself and will wear my right to be angry as a badge of honour and stop punishing myself for what others have done but until then I will fight to get there and clear a space on my lapel.

I am sorry for that woman on stage, for I felt her unresolved. I saw her unresolved pain. But she chose to give up being angry and to be a strong woman fo God. Interesting.

From Accident to Homicide – My Story (part one)

Have you ever wondered what happens to those families that sit in courtrooms waiting for justice to be served; for the man that sits before them; the man they have already convicted; the man that all the evidence points to, to be told he is guilty?

Have you ever wondered what really happens behind the scenes in those small Canadian courtrooms?

Lies. Corruption. Deceit. Confusion. Injustice.

I was 21. My brother was 23. We were friends. Not as close as we were when we were little, when we were bonded by our need to survive a house of violence and fear. He had a wife and two children, whom I loved and spent as much time as I possibly could with. In fact, I spent nearly every weekend over there or begged to babysit.

His youngest was turning 1 that Monday but we were celebrating his birthday on the Saturday; an open house. Jamie went into work early in the morning to help his boss fix a machine but promised he’d be back by noon.

He never showed up.

After unanswered calls made to his cell and to the warehouse, my little brother decided to drive out to see if he was there. Jamie’s truck was parked outside and the warehouse was unlocked. My little brother called out Jamie’s name. Nothing. He got spooked and left.

During this time, I had left the party and returned to my dorm room across the city to work on some term papers, declining invites to go out for the evening. Something just felt off. I had decided to go for a drive. I took a drive to my mom’s house to see if she had returned from the party yet but the lights were off. I went inside and called over to Jamie’s house.

My mom answered.

Apparently Jamie’s boss’s wife took her two neighbours to the warehouse and walked right in and found the two men, lying dead, and immediately called 911 and told dispatch that they were electrocuted. The RCMP decided NOT to follow protocol that night by sending a junior officer only who instead of doing her own investigation, took the statement by the wife and declared it an electrocution, DESPITE:

1) the blood coming from the men’s bodies

2) the machine being unplugged

3) the protests from the EMT/coroner

Protocol also states that a Sr. Officer come to the scene. In this case, he did not. As a side note, this officer, Cpl Marchand has since retired with full benefits and pension. They did not do any further investigations and left the scene in the hands of Health and Safety.

“Your brother…there’s been an accident…he’s dead”

I don’t know how much I spoke after that. I remember getting in my car and just screaming at the top of my lungs. This couldn’t be happening. I had just spoken to him a few days ago. I do recall asking if I should come over to the house, to which she told me “no,” and that it was “too full.”

I retrieved my items from the dorm and slept alone in my mom’s house on a mattress I pulled into the living room.

The other wife and her two neighbours asked to return to the warehouse the next day for some reason and the scene became contaminated. By Monday it was cleaned up.

Autopsies were performed on the men, and the cause of death was immediately clear.

As I was driving to school a couple of days later, I heard this on the radio:

“Bullets have been found in the heads of James Deiter and Tim Orydzuk. Police suspect foul play.”

I remember the term “execution style,” at some point, but I couldn’t listen anymore. What was happening.  How could this be true? Someone took a gun to Jamie’s head and just pulled the trigger? Three times? And the RCMP assumed it was an electrocution? I don’t understand!!!!!!!!

By this time, it had become anxiety provoking and overwhelming as his photo and name had already been in every newspaper, on every news channel, and our phone was ringing off the hook for statements regarding the accident. What the hell was about to come my way, I was even less prepared for.

Dear Younger Me.

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been able to write, able to put my thoughts out there for them to be staring back at me, let alone be scrutinized by others, but I’ve hit that wall, THAT wall. We all know that wall. We wish for someone to come and not necessarily rescue us but to understand us, walk beside us, hear us, advocate for us, without judgment, without us having to ask or feel guilty or whiny. But we can’t because that equates weakness. That stirs in us a place where long ago someone told us and engrained in us that it was not okay to be; in a place of want or need, or to show vulnerability. So, we are “fine.”

I heard the song the other day titled Dear Younger Me, and one of its lines that stuck with me was,

Dear younger me, it’s not your fault.

It’s a line that’s heard in many songs, poems, well-intentioned mental health posters, social media, but for me that line was not encouraging; did not invoke some sort of resolution in my soul or ability to blame the generation before me or those that brought on the traumas that have me entrapped.

Because, while I write to the younger me and try to convince her that it’s not her fault; that she did nothing to deserve the constant barrage of terror, abuse, neglect, it’s only fair that the older me understand that none of that really matters. Who dealt the blows or whose fault any of it was, at the end of the day when I’ve finally cracked during my older years, my 6-year old wisdom, while useful for survival then, is only pinning myself against myself in the adult world.

So guess what younger me, it may not have been your fault, but YOU are left to pick up the pieces, left to make sense of it, left with the financial, emotional, physical, mental, social burden of what has been done to and around you, and now, right now, those around you don’t care that it’s not your fault.

You are an adult now and you are responsible for your own actions regardless of the lack of guidance, moral compass, compassion, decency, nurturing, protection, or even love that you weren’t shown during the years that you needed it most.

Dear younger me, you did what you needed to do to protect yourself, to survive, to keep yourself alive, sometimes literally. You did what you needed to do to not let them win or see that it affected you. But dear older me, they’re winning now; its affecting you now, and your wisdom and survival skills as younger you, serve you no longer. In fact it has managed to cause everything to become so compacted that when you least expected it, it leaked out at a rate and in a way that you can’t get it back in.

Dear younger me, you didn’t choose to be born, and especially to a family that didn’t want you, to a family that would choose to torment you daily and make sure you were aware that your existence and you striving for a future were useless. You didn’t ask for your brother and best friend to killed by a stranger or to be subjected to the multiple tragedies and traumas that you have. You weren’t supposed to be exposed to violence on a daily basis. You should have been protected and loved, and made to feel wanted by your parents, and there should have been justice for the man who murdered your sibling . You should never have seen sickness or tragedies. You should have never have felt the sting of a strap, the cold steel of a gun, the hard edge of a ruler, the cold fist of a parent.

But dear older me, it’s time to get over it, the flashbacks and the nightmares, the anxiety, and the fear, and you are solely responsible for trying to find help, navigating the mental health system alone, all the while facing the scrutiny and judgement of those who don’t understand what happened to you “all of a sudden” and why you can’t “just get over it.” You are also responsible for the ever increasing debt that adds to your insomnia and anxiety. You and you only.

Dear younger me, you did not inflict these wounds. But older you is and will be paying the price to learn to heal.