A Letter to My Childhood Self

Dear 11-year-old Ghadeer,

You have been through so much trauma that you actively block out. You tell yourself if you don’t think about it, you won’t feel anything towards it. You were a child but you were so afraid to have emotions. You were a child but you weren’t allowed to be one. You weren’t allowed to listen to kids radio stations, you barely could watch kids channels. You were exposed to adult TV and music way too young. I don’t know how you learned about sex but I suspect it was through abuse.

You felt guilty for existing. You fantasized about bleaching your skin color because you thought only white people could have loving families. The truth was that you grew up in a predominantly white suburb, and that’s why you knew so many white people with loving families. Your friends were allowed to be kids and had supportive parents and siblings. It had nothing to do with your color or their color, baby girl. I know that you couldn’t put the blame on your family, so you found a way to blame yourself.

Your mother telling you that whiter children are cuter hurt you. Your mother telling you to marry someone with blue eyes and blond hair hurt you because you know she only cared how your children would look. You grow up to have a beautiful daughter who is half Mexican and she has gorgeous olive toned skin, just like you. She has dark brown eyes and dark brown hair and she is absolutely perfect in every way.

You were physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused growing up but your parents invalidated you by saying that it was just siblings playing. Your brothers were just being boys. You felt so much pressure to be a girly girl because that’s how you were taught girls should be.

You were so young and you felt so ugly. You had a lot of things you wanted to change about yourself. You grew up thinking as long as you have someone who loved you unconditionally and passionately, you would be fine. The truth is that you needed that from your family so that you could learn to do it on your own. Your parents told your brothers they would grow up to do big things. Your parents told you that you will grow up to get married.

You saw so much so young. You needed to process things that you had no idea how to process. You were a child. Children can’t process those huge things. You needed your family to help you but you didn’t have that. You were raised by narcissists and they made you feel like your feelings didn’t matter, but they did matter.

I am here now. I know you are living inside me and you are still hurting. I am here and I am going to hug you every day and remind you that you are loved and you are perfect and that your existence is a blessing, not a burden. Your appearance isn’t the only thing you have to offer the world. You are funny and sweet. You were a little obnoxious but that was because you were searching for the attention you didn’t receive at home. I forgive you for that. Your true self loves making people laugh and smile. Your true self has a heart of gold. Your true self gives people too many chances and ends up hurt but does it over and over, just to make the lives of others easier.

Baby girl, you’ve been through so much. There was so much trauma and emotional neglect, so much bullying, so many mean people at school and at home, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse, and so much more that lots of people never have to experience in their whole life. You keep a lot of it to yourself because you don’t want anyone to look at you differently. You have no idea the magnitude of how bad the issues you have are. You are raising yourself. A child should never have to raise a child.

I don’t even remember a lot of what you went through because your innocent child heart couldn’t bear the thought of it all. You simply trained yourself not to think about the horrible things and now they are gone from my brain. That’s okay. I know you are protecting me from a lot of information that I’m not yet equipped to handle.

I want you to know that I love you. You were always so fiery and energetic and everyone tried to put out your flames any chance they could. I’m so sorry that you didn’t get the chance to meet anyone who understood you truly. I’m sorry that you grew up alone because your family was never there for you and because you struggled to maintain friendships through all of the moving and mental health issues. I’m here for you now. It’s okay to be so energetic, you were just a child. You get better every day and you are learning to love yourself.

Thank you for surviving until adulthood, I know it was so hard. You can heal now. We are gonna do great together.

My life is either falling apart or coming together

A lot has happened to me in the past couple weeks. Quarantine has been immeasurably difficult. I have been living with and coparenting with my ex husband, the father of my daughter. He continued to emotionally abuse and manipulate me. Us being home together all the time gave me no reprieve from him.

Here’s the thing. While I’m working so hard to work through my traumas and to learn ways to manage my depression and anxiety, it’s really hard to make progress stuck in a situation where I feel small when I go home. I described trauma work like being dragged across cement and at the end you feel stripped bare of your skin, feeling completely raw. That means you’re beginning to process things. Trauma work isn’t easy or comfortable. I’ve been going through that regularly with my therapist and in group but I come home to an unhealthy environment and it isn’t helping me get better. I’ve made a lot of progress. I can recognize when I’m in a crisis and I can evaluate what I need in the situation. But sometimes I can’t connect the dots. For example, I had a mental breakdown because I wanted to wax and I heated it up too much so it was too hot and it took too long to cool down. The truth behind that is that I wasn’t upset about the wax. I was upset about something my ex had said to me earlier that day.

I came to the conclusion that I needed to leave him. I couldn’t wait any longer, I needed to get out of that situation. I moved out of state to stay with my best friend until I can get on my feet. I had to leave my daughter back home with him, which was quite possibly the hardest part. Outside the airport, I hugged and kissed her and she cried when I put her back in her car seat. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I stood outside the car door window and she looked at me, pouting with tears in her eyes. It was heartbreaking. On the way to the airport, my ex was giving me a speech about how much he “loves” me. He also ended it by letting me know that he had cheated on me (for the second time) just a couple months ago. When that happened, it was right before I went in to inpatient because I was working so much, paying most of the bills, taking care of our daughter more than he did, while also juggling school. He would give me crap about dishes in the sink or my daughters snacks strewn all over the floor. He would tell me I wasn’t taking good care of her because I can watch her and look at my phone at the same time. I wasn’t allowed to have my own personality. All I was to him was basically a robot there to meet all his needs and disregarding my own.

That landed me in the hospital. I slowly started to realize, through all of the therapy and groups and medications, that I was being abused. I’d convinced myself it was normal. It’s a running joke that everyone hates their husbands, right? Everyone gets stressed out at the thought of him coming home from work? Everyone has panic attacks at the thought of him having a day off? Well, I was wrong. Being irritated at your husband for leaving stinky socks on the ground is not the same thing as being treated like an object.

So while I was going through a very, very difficult time in my life, he was having sex with his coworker in his car at two in the morning to celebrate her birthday. That’s cute, huh? I was basically living my life just to make him happy and he still went behind my back and betrayed me. He never was interested in me for who I am. He just wanted someone to help him with everything.

I left my daughter with him until I get on my feet because I want her to be in a stable environment, not sleeping on the couch at a friend’s place. It was very, very hard to make that decision and I miss her more than I’ve ever missed anyone in the world. After dropping that bomb on me, he made sure to call my toxic, abusive family and let them know I’d be in town. They know exactly where I am. They know who I’d stay with when I needed a place to stay. And they are possessive and narcissistic and believe I should be a good little girl and stay with them, where they know I won’t be able to “embarrass the family”. They also would love to get their grimy claws on my toddler so they can wrap her up in their toxicity and fill her up with the same traumas I grew up in. Not on my watch. My daughter is far too precious to me to leave her with them.

Last night, I was just so drained and heartbroken. I’d left my daughter, my cat, the man I spent four years with. I came to this place, so close to my toxic family. I was afraid to vent to my best friend because I convinced myself she had enough problems of her own and I didn’t want to burden her. I couldn’t control my crying and I told her that I was thinking about going to the hospital. I wanted to cook for her family as a thank you for letting me stay with them. While I made dinner, I talked to her and was honest with her. For the rest of the night, I didn’t want to be alone so I asked her to even sit in the bathroom with me while I took a shower because I was afraid to spiral on my own. That night, I felt that I need to disconnect and focus on myself. I disconnected from social media (though I’ll likely share this just to let everyone know what’s going on).

I need to prioritize getting myself together and getting on my feet. I don’t want outside influences, such as my ex and his friends or my family, to remind me of the past when I want to live in the present. I’m tired of being in a constant disassociative state where I feel like I’m not really experiencing my life, I’m watching someone else do it for me. I want to be stronger and healthier, for myself and for my daughter. I don’t want to instill in her the same traumas I had growing up with mentally unhealthy people who refused to acknowledge there was an issue. I want her to grow up with a mentally healthy mother who can teach her how to be mentally healthy herself. It seems like the bare minimum, but in this day and age it can require more effort than anything else.

So I may or may not vanish for a bit. Not like I have loyal followers on this blog I started earlier this month. Just thought I’d update. Thanks for reading.