This was posted on a friend’s Facebook page today. I commented something about telling my younger self that if she thinks she’s fat, she should wait and see what happens when she has a kid. Pretty cliche response, I know. What that friend didn’t know is that I’ve thought about this very thing a lot for the past week. I recently had a breakthrough in therapy; this realization that I have believed lies about myself my entire life. These lies have kept me from becoming the person I thought I’d be at (almost) 32. These lies kept me from participating in things that I longed to participate in. I finally have a clear mind. I’m finally seeing the truth, and I’m ready to let go of those lies and become the person God called me to be.
The man in this photo is my biological father. The internet makes it easy to find people….and their mugshots. I don’t know this man. I have one memory of him. My mom, my brother and I were living with my grandparents. It was the day of my fourth birthday party. He came by after everyone had left. I remember being excited that he was there. I shouldn’t have that memory. I learned in Developmental Psychology that most people don’t have memories from that long ago. However, when there’s trauma, emotional or otherwise, the memory is likely to stay. So here we are. He brought me a Barbie doll. I don’t remember what she looked like, but I loved her because she was from him. We walked down to a convenient store on the corner and he bought me some candy. I remember the walk down to the store. I looked up at him and I wanted to talk to him…but I was afraid to. He didn’t talk to me either. He just looked straight ahead and he seemed like such a mystery. When we got back, my mom told me go to the bedroom and play with my new toys so they could talk. I wanted to play with the Barbie doll from him. I was happily playing when I was suddenly overcome with the realization that he might leave and I might not get to tell him bye. I threw my Barbie down and jumped up and ran out. I needed to tell him bye. I ran into the living room and he was gone. Just gone. I never saw or heard from him again. No phone calls. No birthday cards. Nothing.
As I got older, I learned more things about him. I learned he was an addict. I learned he was abusive, physically and emotionally. I learned there were other children he’d walked away from. I have half-siblings out there and I don’t know them. Earlier this year, I learned that I was the victim of some of that abuse. Remember when I said I was afraid to talk to him? I haven’t had an answer for that feeling for all these years. I didn’t even know it was fear. All I knew was that the walk was silent and something kept me from speaking to him, even though I wanted to. As it turns out, the reason I was afraid is that he would get angry when I spoke to him. I was yelled at. I had food smacked out of my hands. I was silenced by him because he made me too afraid to speak. When I was an infant, he would get in my face and scream at me to shut up. I was conditioned to be silent from the first moment he did that to me.
I’ve always been the weird, quiet one. Some have even said I’m stuck up. I’ve been the loner. What others have seen as me being anti-social has really just been me living in fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of saying something to upset someone. Fear of anger. There have also been these beliefs about myself that come directly from this experience. The belief that no one cares about me or about anything I have to say. The belief that I’m not good enough; I’m not worthy.
My therapist said something to me last week that rocked me to my core. He said that it’s time to take my power back from this man. All of these years that I’ve been feeling like this, I have just been letting him win. The ghost of that trauma has followed me around my entire life, traumatizing me over and over again. My therapist said that I have a father in Heaven who loves me and who wants so much more for me than this. God has plans for me. His plans do not involve me believing I have zero worth just because of what someone who shares my DNA did to me. I do have value. Jesus died for me because of that value. I’m alive today because of that value. It’s time I really believed in that.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.1 John 3:1a ESV
I’ve had a difficult time processing these emotions. The thing with therapy is that sometimes things get worse before they get better. I’ve been withdrawn for the last week or so, just trying to figure this all out. But now, I’m a little excited about where my life is going. Another thing my therapist said is that he believes God has more plans for me and that is why I am in therapy. I couldn’t agree more. I started this year with a goal in mind. In 2019, I returned to God. I stopped running and jumped headfirst into following Him once again. It was a year of tremendous spiritual growth. At the beginning of this year my prayer was to continue that growth, and to finally have the confidence to go out and do whatever God called me to. I ended up going to this therapist after a series of events and circumstances led me there. He just so happens to work out of the doctor’s office that I was referred to by a former supervisor. He just so happens to be a Christian therapist which is something that was important to me. God led me there so that I could finally heal. The last few months, a lot of my prayers have been for God to free me from this fear. I’m never comfortable with myself. When I’m interacting with others, there is always a tightness in my chest and a lump in my throat because I’m waiting for them to reject me. I finally realize that this fear is unfounded. It is all based on a lie. It’s not the truth. Knowing that truth has finally broken those chains. I’m learning to embrace this belief. It sounds strange, but it’s uncomfortable to believe good things about myself because I never have.
So, what would I really say to my younger self? I’d say exactly what my therapist said: take your power back. Stop letting that man win. He’s a liar. You are worthy. You are loved. Don’t be afraid to chase after your dreams. God is for you and He wants nothing but happiness for you. Cling to that truth and never let go.
And you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.John 8:32