A Letter to My 8 Year Old Self

Hey there kid, it’s one of the worst and most defining moments of your life. You’re only in 3rd grade and honestly trying to remember what happened to us, it’s a fuzzy white haze. It’s whited out almost as if our brain had activated a defense mechanism to protect our psyche from what happened. But we’re much older and wiser now, we’re a lot better equipped to handle and process what happened that day.

Our dad had broken down the door, we don’t even know why but we remember only the unjust anger he channeled when doing so. There had been no crime committed, no danger locked behind this door, nothing to warrant this vehement display of violence. The only danger that we remembered came from our father, the only anger that we remember was from our father. We can hardly remember what the real reason was behind this broken door but years later after confronting this memory with our sister, who was there with me, we pieced together from our foggy memories that nothing could have justified our father’s wrath that day.

The only thing here at this door was the uncontrolled anger and rage of a man who had his feelings hurt. We strongly remember the screaming and yelling, but the worst of it was the first time we heard the deathly sound of fear coming from our mom. We remember her on her knees begging for my dad to stop and crying from the fear of whatever had caused him to knock down this door. We remember us and our sister sitting on the floor crying out of fear and being helpless, our minds becoming blank as the flood of so many extreme emotions came crashing. But worst of all, we remember mom disappearing.

Dad switched from anger to worry in an instant as he lost track of her in his anger-fueled tantrum and desperately looked around the house for his wife, our mom. And when we finally found her, hiding in the fetal position in the corner of her closet, crying in fear and what appeared to be her shame, my dad starts to force her to open her mouth. We can’t remember what came out, our sister said it was pills, but we remember a piece of black string, maybe our mind was playing tricks on us to lessen the blow. But even as an 8-year-old kid we knew that our mom was trying to kill herself that day.

I want to let you know 8-year-old me that you don’t have to be sorry anymore. That it is okay that you had no idea what to do. It’s okay that you weren’t strong enough that day. I know how much that sound haunts you, that moment haunts you, when we saw our mom for the first time be overtaken by fear and you being unable to be strong enough to do anything about it. I know how much it hurt when you saw mom try to end her own life. And it’s all okay kid because we’re going to hug it out so that I can let you in on a big secret from the future. We are strong enough to face horrible things like this every day now.

You don’t ever have to worry about being weak ever again my dude because we become so much stronger in our life down the road. We are strong enough to carry the burden that our father placed onto us and we are able to repay the pain and hate with kindness. I just want to let you know me from the past, that we aren’t him. That we are in every way a much better human being than he could ever be. I know your biggest fear in life is becoming him, but I can tell you that even in our darkest hours, we refuse to give in to our fear and most importantly our anger. I’m proud of you kid, for surviving because now I can tell you that it’s going to be okay.

But I also have to be real with you, this event traumatized us for a very long time. We punished ourselves harshly for being weak, for being unable to do anything at that moment. And I have to let you know that it’s not a pretty punishment as we let ourselves get into the dark pit of self-pity. It affected our ability to form deep and committed relationships because we thought the only way to avoid being our dad was to avoid love. So we hid behind the smoke and shadows of lies and walked away from so many things in life in an effort to atone. It was a dangerous fall and it nearly killed us but we get to pick ourselves back up higher than ever before. A friend helps us, she shows us what hope and strength look like, she shows us what love feels like, and we have never forgotten it since. And because of all this, we lace up and start our first step forward, towards Redemption and Recovery.

When life challenges me now, I respond with only one word.


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