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.