I have a daughter. She was born at 10:57pm on April 12 2001. I fell in love with her immediately. She is my first born so she had the lovely job of making me a mother. I have loved her every second of her life.
My daughter is tall, blonde, bright and protective of her siblings like most oldest children are. She feels deeply, almost intuitively about others, is an amazing painter and a good friend to others. Lately though, lately she has not liked herself very much.
Most teens go through this “not liking themselves” stage. I know I did. You are at a point in life where you are separating yourself from your parents identity and figuring out who you are as a person. There are hormones and peer pressure that make that journey difficult, I am sure you remember the troubles you had at 15 years old or somewhere around there. My girl though, my girl really worries me.
As stated in other blogs, my first marriage (to her father) was abusive. We left six years ago. It has been a relief to be away from the daily abuse but there is so much after math, so much lingering damage. We work through it day by day. It’s like walking in a mine field; you never really know what or if something will explode that day. Will an old memory resurface? Will nightmares drag one of us down? Or will our battle with a low self esteem rear its ugly head? We never know so we take it day by day. Add hormones and peer pressure on top of that and you can understand why I worry about my daughter.
When you grow up or live in an abusive home you are held hostage in your own life by your abuser. How you feel about yourself is dictated by how your abuser treats you. What you do or say is dictated by your abusers moods. Nothing you do is just for you, it is all for him or her. You cannot move forward, backward, left or right without their permission. It’s a horrible way to live and if you think that goes away when you leave……well let me tell you it doesn’t. You are still their hostage in your mind. You hear the horrible names they called you, the threats and the cut downs. You hear them at your lowest moments and it really pulls you down.
I know what it is like to battle “the voice” of my abuser in my head. He said some horrible things to me, things that for a long time changed how I saw myself. As an adult I understand why he said those things. He wanted to weaken me so that it was easier to control me. He did the same to my children, but they don’t really understand the why’s yet. Their brains are still developing, forming and changing every day. The things they hear and see influence their brain development. As a result abused children have a higher chance of developing anxiety, depression and PTSD. They also have a higher chance of early sexual activity, drug use and alcohol problems. These issues are hard enough to deal with as an adult. Imagine a young adult facing those hurdles.
Since last summer I have watched my daughter pull away from God, turn away from her academics, keep me at an arms length and hang out with kids that do not build up her self image. I ask her why and she cannot give me a reason. I watch her self sabotaging herself. I see her battle “his voice”. The voice of her abuser, her father, and it’s tackling her self worth. That damn voice!
Daily I pray for guidance. I pray that she will be safe. I pray that she will remember how loved she is, how beautiful she is and how smart she is. Every day I pray that that voice will be silenced.
I have learned that I cannot control her journey. She is on this road and all I can do is love her, try to guide her to the right way and be ready to catch her when she falls. This is one of the hardest tasks I have had to accept as a mother and I do accept it. I have too, I am her mom.