Acknowledging the Darkness Within

There is a little girl that lives inside of me and when I least expect it she shows up to remind me that the world is a scary place. She reminds me that I ought to be wary and protective and that it might just be best to crawl in to bed and hide for a while.

When she comes I get frightened. Even though she is small and nobody else can see her, she reminds me of what it feels like to be powerless and alone. She tricks me in to believing that I can’t trust anyone and that I need to be taken care of. Because she wants to be taken care of. Because she feels like she never was. And she feels like she never will be.
Over the years I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is comfort her and remind her that she is okay. In years past, I have alternately slammed the door in her face and become her – to the point where I did actually climb under the covers and retreat from the world for a bit. Unfortunately, denying her existence only makes her scream louder and look for more profound ways to grab my attention. Becoming her pushes me over the edge in to that deep, dark hole with no way out. And so when she shows up, I have to keep my wits about me and try to come from a place of love instead of a place of fear. That doesn’t mean that I don’t worry that she will get bigger if I ‘feed’ her. But if I can remember that I am not her and offer her love and understanding I feel safer.
Today, with the help of a good friend, I came to yet another plane from which to see her. As we talked about those parts of us that feel dark and scary, those parts that we don’t show to the world, I mused aloud whether there was a way to acknowledge those pieces of us that are just as vital as the rest and see them for what they are. If I think about it that way, this little girl is amazing. Despite the sexual abuse and trauma she endured, she found a way to survive. Her protective instincts not only spared me the pain of living each and every moment of the abuse by walling it off in my brain until I was ready to remember it, but she set up a strict criteria by which to decide who could be trusted as I moved through life. True, she over-reacted in most cases, but with her 8-year-old intellect and intuition, she led me to a place of independence and strength I needed to deal with my parents’ divorce and the loss of my foster brother and other difficult times in my life.
As I began to understand just how central a role this frightened little girl has played in my evolution, I was amazed at how much I owe her. And as I move away from defining myself as a sexual abuse survivor, her existence is threatened. As I begin to heal some of the deepest wounds I have, excising her from the essence of who I am is not an option. Instead, I must honor her for the role she played in protecting me and reminding me how important it is to tell the truth about my experiences in order to help others heal. That doesn’t mean I need to allow her to have power over my life as an adult, but it does mean that she deserves to feel safe and validated. I hope that as I continue to process all of this I can finally give her the rest she has earned and neither of us has to be scared of those things that happened so many years ago.
9 replies
  1. Patricia A. Guthrie
    Patricia A. Guthrie says:

    Oh my. that's a fantastic article.
    I'm sure you'll get past all that with your willpower and ambition.

    That should be a story–maybe a novel, if you can maintain the strength to do it. It's dark.

    Patricia A. Guthrie

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    As my dear friend would say … you already see yourself as a survivor of sexual abuse and not a victim. The abuse does not define you anymore, you survived it, and you survived it with compassion, care and love for the little girl you were, the little girl who could not trust anyone, the little girl who probably felt so alone in this world that was hurting her. This is a huge huge step. You see her as the powerless child she was, you feel love and care for her, you welcome her in the "big" you, as the child she was, you give her the love she so much would have liked to get, now she is finally getting it. Now she just wants to tell you how proud she is of you for becoming who you are, a beautiful mother who is there for her own children, protecting them, guiding them and giving them all the love she would want any child to receive.

    – Isabelle

  3. Wanda
    Wanda says:

    She will love having a place to belong and just be accepted for who she is. What an amazing little girl she is! And how wonderful that you are honoring her.

  4. Dee Ready
    Dee Ready says:

    Dear Kari,
    This is a profound posting. A penetrating exploration of the courage you've had all your life. That courage is personified in that little girl who has befriended you all these years.

    Like you, I deeply admire the little girl I used to be. The little girl who was seemingly abandoned at age five. That little girl endured and ultimately triumphed. She found a way to journey through life and to grow into a caring adult. She never became bitter and she never lost hope.

    Having said that about myself, I say it to you. For that little girl will always be there for you to remind you in times of stress and conflict that you have been brave and steadfast in the past and you can be now.

    Please tell her hello for me the next time she warns you that all is not well. And tell her that I'm rooting for her every step of the way into the Mystery of who you are. Being aware is a gift.



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