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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Teresa C

February 13, 2011

Dear Teresa,

When I look at you, I do not see the scars that have been left behind from abuse when you were just a little girl. I do not see the razor-blade cuts or the cigarette burns. I do not see the faded remnants of large bruises, busted lips and broken blood vessels that were ever-present in your childhood. I do not see them, and you shouldn’t either. The people who did these things to you are sick and broken. But you, my dear, you are NOT broken. No matter how many times you have had this thought, I want you to know that you are whole, complete and intact. 

When I look at you, I do not see the sadness in your eyes left there from your mother and father. They have always loved you and are so proud of all you have accomplished, even if they don’t know how to show it or say it. They wanted you to grow up in a happy home, but they just weren’t capable, mentally or emotionally, to provide it. Because of this, you will forgive them. To redeem them, you are now the mother you always wished you’d had as a child. You are strong, loving and understanding. You are protective of your children and will not allow anyone to hurt them. You will not hurt them yourself, because you cherish them. If someone were to hurt them, you would believe what your children tell you, and you would defend and protect them. You are a good, attentive mother.

When I look at you, I do not see the extra weight you think you carry. I know that you have struggled as a teenager and a young adult with your weight by binging and purging. The only reason you did this was to cope. You used food to stuff down all the awful feelings you were experiencing, and when you felt completely numb to the pain, you got rid of it all through the purging. You only did this to have a sense of control over what went into and out of your body. Today, you no longer need that kind of “coping” mechanism. Now, you are able to eat in moderation, make healthy choices and exercise regularly. I am so proud of you for overcoming this hurtful behavior.  Your skin, teeth, esophagus and heart all thank you for caring enough for them to stop.

When I look at you, I do not see the fear and doubt you’re constantly trying to hide. You have been afraid of so many things because of all that’s happened to you, but you are the most courageous person I know. You have been brave your whole life, and you didn’t even know it. You questioned every major decision you’ve ever made because you weren’t sure if it was the right one. Let me assure you, you have made the right decisions. Telling on your father and his abuse and leaving your parents’ home for good at 16 was the right decision. Choosing to give birth to your beautiful daughter at the age of 19, while in college, when everyone else said you couldn’t do it, was the right decision. Your daughter has been a blessing, and she motivated you to finish school and create a better life for the two of you. Marrying a man who is almost 20 years older than you was the right decision. He has been everything you have ever needed or wanted in another person – trustworthy, gentle, generous and protective. Even when people told you it would never last, you listened to your heart. Your love for your husband grows each day. He is the only man who has ever made you feel safe. When your husband looks at you, he sees beauty and love. And when he looks at you that way, you feel beautiful and loved. So while you may have feared that you were making the wrong decisions in life, you weren’t. You have a wonderful life now. I want you to enjoy it. You deserve to enjoy life. 

And finally, when I look at you, I do not see the mental illness that has overtaken you at times. I do not see the chemical imbalance that 16 years of abuse has caused. I do not see the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the Borderline Personality Disorder, the Obsessive Compulsive behaviors, the Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. You have finally admitted to yourself and others that these problems are part of you, but they do not make you. You are diligent about your mental-health care and seek help when needed. You will never again take an entire bottle of pills because your father refuses to give you away at your wedding or for any other reason. Your father didn’t deserve to give you away. And when the thought to end your life enters your mind, and I know it still does on occasion, you are strong enough to push it away. You are smart enough to know that these thoughts are not your own. These thoughts have been created by a lifetime of pain and terror. But that life is over.  

When I look at you now, I see glowing skin that’s perfect just the way it is. Those scars are not a reminder of the abuse, but rather a symbol of survival. When I look into your eyes, I see happiness and gratitude. When I look at your body, I see a woman who is healthy, fit and strong. When I look at you, I see a confident, intelligent, courageous and ambitious woman. I see kindness and compassion. I see sanity and healthy boundaries.

Best of all, when I look at you, I see things that aren’t visible on the surface. I see hope, faith and trust. I know that these are important to you because you never thought you had these things before. You actually thought you didn’t deserve these things, but you have always deserved them. You have created them within you, and they radiate out to everyone who meets you. Others can see it, and I hope you can see it too. When I look at you very closely, I see the most important thing of all: I see that you are deeply loved, by yourself and all who truly know you.  And I know this is all you’ve ever wanted. And that, my dear, is a beautiful thing. 




Anonymous said...

Yes.... we are made of what we create: hope, faith and trust. Thank you for sharing this. You are so wise and SO STRONG. Bless your sweet heart, honey.

Maria K. said...

Teresa, you are incredible and beautiful and intelligent and all things fantastic! And if anyone dares state otherwise, I will personally beat them up for you.

Teresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teresa said...

Thank you Aimee. And thank you, Maria. I will totally keep your offer in mind! LOL! You're the best!

Torrie said...

Teresa, I want you to know that this really hit close to home with me..From the child abuse to the purging.. by me reading this letter you gave me a better understanding on why I did the things I did.. Thank you.

Teresa said...

Oh, Torrie. I'm so sorry this hit close to home. And I'm so glad at the same time that it helped you understand something about yourself. My heart goes out to you. Growing up in an abusive home is difficult because we often believe we don't deserve anything better. But we do. We all deserve to feel safe, secure and happy. I hope you are in a better place these days. Virtual hugs to you.

Irene said...

I love you, T. So much. Bravo.

Des said...

Beautiful... thank you for sharing!! <3

LIndseyb said...

Remember the passage from little bee - I will write it for you again here- because to me and you - we need to take this to heart- I will promise it if you will too! -
"On the girls brown legs were many small white scars. I was thinking Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the starts and moons on you dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here to please agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. We must see all scars as beauty, Okay? Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means , I survived. In a few breaths time I will speak some sad words to you. but you must hear them the way we have agreed to see scars now.Sad wards are just another beauty. A sad story means that this storyteller is ALIVE. Then next thing you know, something fine (like a NEW JOB:) will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile." - Chris Cleaves "Little Bee"

Teresa said...

Thank you, Lindsey. Yes, when you shared that passage with me the other day, I decided that I have to start viewing my scars as something remarkable. I didn't die. I was tortured, beaten and molested as a little girl, and I didn't die. And if anything, my abusers helped make me more of who I am today -- empathetic, keen, persistent, and no longer tolerable of any mistreatment. I am stronger, sharper and more aware because of them. I believe we all have our ashes that we must rise from. We are all able to be renewed and Phoenix-like if we can see the beauty in ourselves rather than the ugliness someone has placed upon us. I hope every woman in this project knows that she is remarkable and beautiful in her own unique way. Every woman here is a gift to us all. Including you, Miss Lindsey B!

Iman Woods Creative said...

This is an eloquent from your BEST self to the self that sometimes wonders about it's worth. You are worth it. You are gorgeous. I know this, and can't lie about it. I'll call you on your shit, but you'll call me on mine. So you know I'm telling the truth when I tell you how gorgeous you are INSIDE and OUT.

This letter was meant to be reread when Your Best Self is not in control.

Muah, Lady. So happy to have you in my life.

Laurel said...

Your letter was so beautifully written I feel like I know you. You are inspiring!

Teresa said...

Dear T,

I'm not sure I have words to express what I think and feel about your letter. I am in awe of your courage and strength and talent and intelligence and beauty. I feel so deeply happy that you are my friend.


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