Letting go of a 10 year secret
I am writing to you from Portugal, that tiny little country across the ocean. I am not sure how it happened, but while I surfing the web yesterday, I came across your book. It caught my eye and today I decided to read one of those previews you are able to read before you purchase a book. You got me crying a river with just those 6 pages I read. At this particular moment in my life, I need your book more than any other thing. As none of my parents knows about this that I am about to confess, it was a challenge for me to find the strength to order your book on Amazon, but, I just did it. I stopped overthinking and I simply did it. I am praying they are not the ones receiving the package, though, because I feel like it would be plastered all over my face how this is not just another book to me. How this is THE book that talks about me. That will touch me in every single possible way. That will probably have the capacity to both break my heart but also heal it. And because of that, I cannot wait for it to arrive.
I've kept this inside of me for almost 10 years now and it's like it has become a part of me. Only me. It's like I've had the words "this secret will die with you" tattooed on my body ever since it happened. However, this week I felt rather different. For the first time, I felt like I needed to open up about this. My best friend texted me that exact moment and without thinking I told her I had a secret to tell her. I found the strength to do it and the following day that was what I did. I allowed myself to speak up and I cried for the first time since it had happened. But also, I realized this is more serious than I thought. Suddenly all the pieces fit together and I could understand my behaviour in certain situations. I started understanding myself in some new ways.
When I was around 6 or 7, my cousin kissed me. Although it might have started innocent, soon he was telling me to lie down on the floor, unbuttoning his trousers and dry humping me. It's all a bit of a blur, but I remember the places where this happened like it had been just yesterday and I remember looking at the ceiling while he did it to me. My most clear vision is probably from the first time he did that because I had an orgasm and, although at first, I remember looking at him in confusion, then I was flooded with that first pleasure and... I don't think I disliked it. This situation happened every time we were together and without my parents. If my grandma was the only one taking care of us, my cousin would always find a way to get us to a darker place and he would repeat the assault. Always fast, rough and sneaky. But thankfully, never too deep. Then, he would kiss me and he would leave and act as is nothing had happened. I realized I had to do the same. And soon it became our game. Well, exactly, I always thought that was another game we were playing. Except, unlike all the others, this was not an innocent game.
It stopped when I was eleven or twelve, he was three years older. All of a sudden he didn't do any of that again and I couldn't understand why because, I kind of didn't mind repeating that again. But I was too shy to even ask him. We suddenly stopped talking and it became awkward being around him. Our family noticed we no longer played together or talked like before and I had to tell my parents and family we had simply grown apart and now had different tastes. I was ashamed and I felt disgusted but I never, ever, realized I had been a victim of some kind of abuse. All I know is that although I've had some crushes throughout the years, I am mortified of proximity and for example, one time a guy tried to kiss me and I panicked. I stepped back uncomfortably but inside I was exploding emotions. Also, I have a very strange way of seeing sex now. Because what we did was always seen as a secret, and something fast, unattached and rough it's like now, I see sex as something that is wrong. I don't mind seeing couples, my friends have boyfriends and it's okay, I find it sweet, but when I think about what happens behind closed doors, if you get what I mean, it's like in my mind I just think, "W.R.O.N.G". And I know this should be seen as something natural rather than inappropriate.
Another thing that I never understood until this week was why I felt so emotionally attached to books like "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" or "Speak". Books that talk about forms of sexual abuse or even other books that talk about other issues teens go through like Bulimia, Anorexia, Depression and so on. I read about some types of sexual abuse but I never found a story like mine so I never realized the same had happened to me. As I used to see it, my case was not abusive, just disgusting. And I couldn't ask anyone about it, because I feared their reactions. I thought this was a deadly sin or something. I was ashamed because I know that if I had told my cousin to stop he would have. But he was like a big brother to me and I trusted him and if he was doing those things, they couldn't be wrong. Now I feel like most of my innocence was stolen from me and that breaks me inside. I had an option back then but I didn't have a voice to speak.
I've read some of the stories on this site and I am inspired by all of these beautiful girls. If there's one thing I've learned today from them is that the sooner I realize I have a problem and the sooner I start working on it, the smaller will be the consequences on the long run. I have a trauma, I don't have a cure, and I can't tell my family. But, since Thursday, I have my best friend, and now, I have you, Dr Patti, I will have your book, and I have this website. I don't know what I should do. But I know I need you. I want to find my voice because I know I still don't have one and I know that if someone tried to do something to me today I'd probably close my eyes and let them take my body and spirit. And that hurts to hear just as much as it hurts to say, but I still feel hopeless and scared and guilty. However, I want to stop feeling that way, I want to stop being invisible!
Thank you for showing me that I am not alone. I am eighteen now and I always thought I would die with this secret buried inside or me. Corrupting me inside. But letting it out feels so good. Thank you for being the first step along the way to my recovery and, most of all, I hope I can recover and find happiness. I wanna be loved so bad. I don't want to let the man I'll probably want to share the rest of my life with go away because I am scared, or because I didn't speak my heart out. I don't want to be scared anymore.
Thank you so much for your encouraging words as well as the advice you gave me. It helped a lot, believe me. I am ready to start recovering and nothing will stop me now. I am ready. I would really like it if you posted my story on your website. I don't mind sharing it if I know it may help at least one girl feel less guilty and confused. I'd appreciate if you used my name, Rose. It's the English version for my grandma's name (Rosa) and I'd like this to be a small tribute to her. If I finally spoke up and told the truth was because she always taught me to be strong and let all the things that bother me go. I finally followed her advice. Thanks again for taking the time to answer me and for telling me I am not invisible.
Dr. Patti responds:
Are you writing to me from Portugal?! I am so happy you got the book and I know it will continue to help you - everything you are going through and the feeling is very normal. You can read story after story, feeling after feeling that resonate with you and your experience! YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE!! You have a very very strong voice and it comes through in this email. Clearly, this is not your fault - Your cousin was older than you and my guess is that he was being abused by someone, or exposed to porn at a very early age, and he was doing things to you that he learned somehow at a much too young age. Does this excuse it in any way NO! It is not wrong to date, it is not wrong to kiss, it is not wrong to fall in love and get into a physical relationship with a boyfriend. You are right, that you have been carrying around all of this disgust and self-blame, and it is depressing you and making you feel so confused and guilty. But those feelings do not have to rule you in any way, soon they will not be the prominent feelings- You are letting go and I know you will feel so much lighter as time goes on. I wrote INVISIBLE GIRLS for girls just like you for all around the globe! Thanks so much for reaching out, keep reading- keep feeling and you will keep growing- It is great that you have told me and it is great that you have told your best friend- If you want to share your story I will be happy to post it, it will for sure help other girls!
................................love xo dr. p.