I have a wonderful 10 year old daughter now. I watch her grow and am amazed by what I see. Even with everything she’s been through, she is smart, confident, and innocent. She knows she’s beautiful because I tell her all of the time. She knows she is loved because I say it every time I speak to her. She knows how to give hugs and show affection because she receives it. She is able to trust people because I have never given her a reason not to. She is proud of her body, she has never had a reason to feel ashamed, less than, or undeserving. She knows she is safe and protected. She knows I would never hurt her.
I brought her to see you when she was 9 weeks old. I was so sure that she would be the glue that would hold this family together. This little miracle, this gift that I had been given, would fix us and make everything right. I couldn’t wait for mom to see her and tell me how perfect she was. This child was no accident. Nothing about her was a mistake. I got off the plane and mom took one look at her and said “Why did you dress her in THAT? She looks ridiculous! You should have put her in a dress!” The next day I put her in a dress and mom commented that it was not practical for small babies to wear dresses.
When we got home you reached out to take her from me. Do you know that I hesitated? I was torn between wanting to please you and wanting to protect my baby. I’m ashamed to admit that I chose you. I placed her in your arms but stayed right by your side. I never left you alone with her. As soon as you handed her back to me I gave her a bath. I felt your hands on me. I remembered how my skin would burn. I did not want that for her.
As a child I wanted you to be proud of me. I tried so hard to get you to notice me. If you said you were disappointed in me I would be so ashamed. I would punish myself. I wanted you hug me. To put me on your lap and tell me a story. I wanted you to swoop me up in a giant hug and swing me around. I wanted you to hold my hand and take me for a walk. I wished you would ask about my day and then listen to my answer. I wanted to be your baby girl. I don’t think you ever noticed.
When I was really little bedtime was my favorite time of day. I would wait for you to come in. You told me stories and sang silly songs. At those times I could pretend that you really loved me. I knew though, a part of me always knew.
Daddies don’t touch their children like you touched me. It didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel safe. I never told you because I didn’t want you to go away all together.
As I grew older I began to dread your bedtime visits. Did you know how scared I was? Would you have even cared if I had told you? Do you have any idea what you took from me? Couldn’t you see how tight I held my body? Did you notice how I trembled when you touched me? Could you feel my heart pounding? I held my breath, I bit my lip, I didn’t make a sound. I prayed for you to stop. Your fingers burned my skin. I wanted to shout in pain. But I stayed silent. You were already so tired, so broken, I could not add to your worries. So I stayed there. I let you place your hands on me and when I could not take it anymore, I went away inside my head. I found a place where you did not exist. A place that was warm and safe and welcoming. Did you know I had escaped? Could you tell?
I wonder if you even knew who I was. What did I mean to you? Did you think about me? Did you care about me? Did you even know that I was a real person?
You took so much from me. You took my childhood, my innocence, my ability to trust. You made me doubt myself. I never felt worthy of anything good. I was an accident, a mistake. I didn’t matter. Nobody loved me and I couldn’t love myself.
Recently I have realized that if my coming in to this world was a mistake, I’m not the one who made it. You and mom created me. It was your accident, your mistake. As hard as I tried there was no way I could have fixed it. I know now that some of the greatest inventions have come by way of mistakes that were made. It’s in all in how you look at it. You chose to never look at me at me at all.
I don’t know who or what I could have been. So much time has been wasted on wondering about that. I have been so worried about hurting you that I didn’t see the pain that I was in. I still see you by my bed. I still feel your hands on me. My skin still tingles and burns and remembers your touch. It’s time for me to speak up now. It’s time to let you go. I can’t worry about your feelings any more.
Chana asked what I want to say to you. It’s time to answer her.