Dear six year old me,
I have learned some things that I want to tell you, to teach you, to instill in you. I know you have been crying a lot. I know that you don’t understand why, but I am older now and I understand some things that you may not. You are blaming yourself for things that are not your fault or your responsibility. There are adults in your home that are responsible for making better decisions for you and your siblings. I know that when you hear your brother crying in the other room that you feel conflicting feelings. I know you feel like you want to make it stop and that you should be able to, and I know you also feel thankful that it isn’t YOU that is being hit with a belt and being called a failure. But you CAN’T stop it. You would if you could. I know that.
I know that you are afraid of it happening to you, and it is perfectly normal to feel relieved that you are not at the receiving end of this. You don’t need to feel guilty. Don’t bury that burden in your depths because it will cause you to keep that sadness inside and it will do so much damage to you there. There are some things happening in your world that should not be happening. But hear this again, it is not your fault. When you lay in your bed at night and cry, you lie to your parents and say that you are having nightmares, because you don’t understand why you are crying, and because you think that if you interrupt their fighting, maybe it will stop for the night and get better. You want your parents to divert their attention to YOU instead of fighting with each other. I see that, but it’s not your job. It is theirs. And crying is ok. It’s normal to feel sad for your brother. No child deserves to be screamed at, berated, and beaten black and blue with a belt. You try to figure out what your brother did to deserve that so that you can try really hard to not do that thing, but there is nothing that would justify the way he is being treated. It is wrong.
It’s ok for you to be a kid, to relax, to enjoy the time that you have to play and learn. You are not responsible for protecting your family. Every day when you get to school, you scream and cry and you hold as tight as you can to the seat belt of the car so that the teachers can’t get you out and you can stay with your mom. Day after day, you pretend that you are sick, you think of every excuse you can to go back home. You don’t even understand why this happens, or why you would be so afraid of going to school, because you truly love it when you are there. You have a great teacher and great friends, and you are doing so well, but I know that you are so afraid of what you might come home to if you leave your mom’s side. I can tell you now; your mom will be ok. You can release this responsibility you feel, the pressure inside of you to guard and protect her, let it go, it’s not selfish for you to focus on learning, growing, and laughing. This is your job…do it well.
What is in your home has a name, and it is called Abuse. I know that you think that abuse is only something that happens in other people’s homes, that you have parents that are Christians and this makes them “good”, but let me tell you that God isn’t ok with abuse either. He doesn’t want that for you. Even Christian people make mistakes. Don’t confuse this with God and His feelings toward you. God doesn’t seek to inflict pain upon the innocent. He doesn’t think those horrible things about you and your family. He is not a monster. He loves you. He doesn’t just love you when you are “good”. He loves you all the time. He loves you and He created you for a reason, and all of those dreams that you have in your heart, your vivid imagination, your love for other people, your love for singing songs and living life, He put those there. Don’t forget that.
Don’t stop loving all of the good times. Skating on the porch, trips to the beach, playing with your pets, pretending to work all sorts of jobs and have all kinds of adventures… Enjoy it all. Soak those times in, embrace them, and dwell on them. When you go to school, fill up on everything positive that the teachers are saying about you. You ARE bright, you ARE pretty, and you ARE special, no matter what you hear anywhere else or have begun to think or believe of yourself. When you feel sad and afraid, I want you to tell yourself “God made me with a purpose, He loves me, He has a plan for my life, and it is going to be better than this.” Don’t hate the people in your life, don’t hold on to un-forgiveness, but don’t excuse their actions as acceptable or blame yourself. They ARE wrong choices, made by hurting people. Hurting people often times, hurt other people.
So when you lay in your bed at night, and you hear the fighting in the other room, just know that it is going to be ok. Everyone is going to be ok, and you can sleep peacefully, don’t let it interrupt your dreams. Your dreams are what will carry you. Just focus your mind on the future that you have and on all of those ambitious plans that you have, because you are full of potential, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made.