Dear Three-Year-Old Self,
I have two memories of you in my mind's eye. The first is of the playful you, the smiling you, peeking out at you from behind the adult me. You were so cute and joyful. Nothing had hurt you yet. You are the one that I wrote my article "Keeper Of My Creativity" about. (Link at bottom of page)
The second memory is of you sitting in church with Grandma listening to the preacher talk about adultry. You labeled yourself an adultress. (Link at bottom of page) That tells me that something happened to you that year but I have no memory of it. You were such an inquisitive, happy child in the first memory. You were such a sad, perfect quiet child sitting beside your grandma envying the little girl in the pew in front of you in the second memory. The little girl in the pew in front of you was your age, but you seemed so much older than she did. You sat as quiet and as still as you could. How hard sitting so still must have been for you. You tried to listen to the preacher talking. What saddens me is that in your little girl mind, you understood the basics of what he was talking about. He was talking about how it was a sin to have sex with someone you weren't married to. He was talking about a married person having sex with someone they weren't married to. That was what he called adultry. How could you know what he was talking about? This was an adult subject, not one little girls your age should know about. But you did know, didn't you? That saddens me and makes me want to cry for you, for the quiet little girl that you were. I should say the quiet little girl that you became. Just a short time before that you were alive and joyful. If I could look into your eyes today, what would I see? Sadness, hurt, tears of pain. I know that sadness has been a part of both of our lives for a very long time. I do remember being that sad child that you became.
I don't know who hurt you. I don't know what caused you to let go of your joy and sense of wonder. For that I am sorry that the grown up me was not there to protect you. I would have protected you. I don't understand why the adults around you at that time didn't protect you. That they didn't makes me angry and so sad. I don't understand why they couldn't see that you were hurt and hurting. Why didn't they ask why you were so sad? The sadness was there in your eyes for all to see.
This letter is more difficult to write than I thought it would be. I don't know what to say to you that will make any difference in what you experienced then that changed you so much from my first memory to the second.
I was in a 12-Step recovery program for a few years before you showed me the image of you peeking out at me from behind the adult me. I guess I shouldn't call that a memory like the one of you calling yourself a three-year-old adultress. One day in a 12-Step meeting I was talking about you as an inner child and you showed me this image of yourself standing behind the adult me. You were showing me what you looked like and the essence of who you were before the abuse. I knew from looking at the young you that you were about three years old. That image in my mind was what you looked like before the abuse started. You were a healthy, exuberant three-year-old bubbling over with joy for who you were. You loved the world and you loved everybody in your world. I can see the joy in your eyes and hear the laughter in your voice. Even now I have such a clear picture of you looking mischievous as you peek out at me. When did that joy leave you? Why did it leave? What happened to you to take it all away? I don't remember.
You weren't that same child when you labeled yourself as an adultress. Your eyes were full of sadness. Your laughter was gone. You hid your light so that others couldn't see it. You hurt too much to expose your inner self to others any more. You went into hiding at three years old and didn't come back out until 1991 when you showed yourself to me at that 12-Step meeting. That was when you started to trust me again to protect you. Even today I don't know what secrets you still carry around inside of you. You haven't told me. Even though part of me is still afraid to know, I am asking you to trust me enough to open up and share your secrets with me. You can share your thoughts with me. I am a grown-up and I can protect you from any more hurt. I know that is still hard for you to believe but it is true.
I love you and I won't let anyone else ever hurt you again. You are safe. I am open to whatever you want to tell me about that time in our life. We are both safe now. I am big so no one can hurt me or you. I won't let them. I am leaving the door open between us. Whatever you want to tell me, we will handle it together. Together we are strong. You survived whatever happened to you back then. Today we will both survive the telling of your secrets. Any one from back then who could have hurt you is dead. There is no one for you to have to be afraid of. They are all gone now except for you and me. You don't have to hide and you don't have to hurt alone. I am here. I love you. I ask your forgiveness for not being able to protect you back then. Today I can protect you. Today no one will hurt you. I won't let them.
Inner Child Letters Series @ http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2010/05/inner-child-letters-series.html
Keeper Of My Creativity @ http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2007/06/keeper-of-my-creativity.html
The Case Of The Three-Year-Old-Adultress @ http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2009/08/case-of-three-year-old-adultress.html