Posts tagged survivorloveletter
you will never be perfect 
you will have to tell the truth  
you are learning to breathe 

 the bruise will fade, the scars will mute 
the grief will stay sharp, the night will pass 
you will love so many times 

 the miracle does not cease 
the wonder will never abandon you 
you will find a home in faith 

 you are young until you die 
you can forget how to lie 
you must be free

you will never be perfect
you will have to tell the truth
you are learning to breathe

the bruise will fade, the scars will mute
the grief will stay sharp, the night will pass
you will love so many times

the miracle does not cease
the wonder will never abandon you
you will find a home in faith

you are young until you die
you can forget how to lie
you must be free

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
Dear little me, 

 I write this on the cusp of entering my forties, a new decade of life.  

 It has been thirty-six years since you sustained the first wounds, and twenty-four years since you began consciously healing.  

 Language often seems so inadequate to describe our connection, but if we cannot communicate our experience to others, how can we find connection with others?  

 So I will try.  

 I used to think the wounds of rape, torture and psychic violence defined you (me). I know you feel so other, so ugly, so alone, so different, and strange. I know you spend a lot of time wondering why you have been chosen to suffer.  

 I want you to know – you are not what is happening to you. Your father’s shame is not your own. You came into this world complete, whole, and perfect in your human imperfection. You get to leave this world with your soul intact. The shift from innocent to knowing is excruciating, but ultimately a gift.  

 Violence and isolation are locked in a cycle of cause and effect. When you learn to open your wounds, you will release a flow of comingled blood and tears that will lead you to your kindred. For the sad and gorgeous truth is you are so very normal. Your pain is the most banal thing about you.  

 Release it, and the trickle will flow together with the blood and tears of everyone around you, rivers that race to the ocean, our primordial home.   

 I promise you, the day will come that you learn survivors are, and always have been, all around you. Your classmates, your playmates, your parents, your ancestors, your oppressors, and one day, your lovers and friends and colleagues – literally everyone is or knows a survivor.  

 You spend so much of your time looking for portals as an escape – maybe that tree, that cave, that shell, that crack in the ceiling will open into another world.  

 I want you to understand – the true portals are your wounds. By going deeper into yourself, you will be able to connect emotionally and spiritually with everything that is alive and organic. The goal is not escape, but embodiment. Not dissociation, but connection.  

 Everything in nature is here to teach you, if you can learn to open to the lessons:  
the ocean is changed but not defined by an oil spill.  
the wind is changed but not defined by a nuclear explosion.  
the dog is changed but not defined by the fighting pit.  
Healing is not a destination, but a practice and an understanding. One day you will learn to wear your wounds instead of being led by them. Your spirit will expand far past the edges of your pain. You will understand suffering as a universal human experience, and power as the ability to feel joy and pleasure despite what you have endured.  

 Most of all, your wounds will disrupt the experience of time as linear. You and I will be able to use them to connect across time and space, because the body (and the psyche) truly does keep the score. I will visit you many times over, integrating each moment of fear, by holding your hand, rocking you, letting you weep in my arms – I will grow up to understand how to love you in all the ways you always needed and never received.  

 One day I will look at old photos of you: skinny brown girl with the big head and bigger glasses, teeth too large, knees too skinned, hair too scraggly, gender too mixed – and marvel that what once looked ugly and spoiled looks only precious and tender and beautiful.  

 I will always be with you, just as you will always be with me, until each memory is felt and released, until we are truly one.

Dear little me,

I write this on the cusp of entering my forties, a new decade of life.

It has been thirty-six years since you sustained the first wounds, and twenty-four years since you began consciously healing.

Language often seems so inadequate to describe our connection, but if we cannot communicate our experience to others, how can we find connection with others?

So I will try.

I used to think the wounds of rape, torture and psychic violence defined you (me). I know you feel so other, so ugly, so alone, so different, and strange. I know you spend a lot of time wondering why you have been chosen to suffer.

I want you to know – you are not what is happening to you. Your father’s shame is not your own. You came into this world complete, whole, and perfect in your human imperfection. You get to leave this world with your soul intact. The shift from innocent to knowing is excruciating, but ultimately a gift.

Violence and isolation are locked in a cycle of cause and effect. When you learn to open your wounds, you will release a flow of comingled blood and tears that will lead you to your kindred. For the sad and gorgeous truth is you are so very normal. Your pain is the most banal thing about you.

Release it, and the trickle will flow together with the blood and tears of everyone around you, rivers that race to the ocean, our primordial home.

I promise you, the day will come that you learn survivors are, and always have been, all around you. Your classmates, your playmates, your parents, your ancestors, your oppressors, and one day, your lovers and friends and colleagues – literally everyone is or knows a survivor.

You spend so much of your time looking for portals as an escape – maybe that tree, that cave, that shell, that crack in the ceiling will open into another world.

I want you to understand – the true portals are your wounds. By going deeper into yourself, you will be able to connect emotionally and spiritually with everything that is alive and organic. The goal is not escape, but embodiment. Not dissociation, but connection.

Everything in nature is here to teach you, if you can learn to open to the lessons:
the ocean is changed but not defined by an oil spill.
the wind is changed but not defined by a nuclear explosion.
the dog is changed but not defined by the fighting pit.
Healing is not a destination, but a practice and an understanding. One day you will learn to wear your wounds instead of being led by them. Your spirit will expand far past the edges of your pain. You will understand suffering as a universal human experience, and power as the ability to feel joy and pleasure despite what you have endured.

Most of all, your wounds will disrupt the experience of time as linear. You and I will be able to use them to connect across time and space, because the body (and the psyche) truly does keep the score. I will visit you many times over, integrating each moment of fear, by holding your hand, rocking you, letting you weep in my arms – I will grow up to understand how to love you in all the ways you always needed and never received.

One day I will look at old photos of you: skinny brown girl with the big head and bigger glasses, teeth too large, knees too skinned, hair too scraggly, gender too mixed – and marvel that what once looked ugly and spoiled looks only precious and tender and beautiful.

I will always be with you, just as you will always be with me, until each memory is felt and released, until we are truly one.

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free.

You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free.

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
Dear Sister Survivor: You are the hero of your story, hermanx. You are the fire that lights the way forward. You are the staff that casts away the demons and the deniers. You are the water that heals the heridas of betrayal. You are the future, hermana, and I can’t wait for you to lead our pack towards a world with no more #metoos.

Dear Sister Survivor: You are the hero of your story, hermanx. You are the fire that lights the way forward. You are the staff that casts away the demons and the deniers. You are the water that heals the heridas of betrayal. You are the future, hermana, and I can’t wait for you to lead our pack towards a world with no more #metoos.

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
Almita 
It was not your fault. That day you decided to skip school and left with your “friend” to her boyfriend’s house, you did not know another boy was going to be there. It was not your fault that the boy felt the right to kiss you, touch you, and penetrated you. You wanted to stop him, but everything happened so fast, your body was in shock, no one was there to help you. No one cared about you. Your friend just laughed at you. You went home that day and got in the shower without saying a word. You looked at your body, which did not seem to be yours anymore. You wanted to detach yourself from it. You scrubbed so hard, but that nasty feeling didn’t go away. You were only 13-years-old and your parents always told you to be a “good girl.” You became silent and kept your inner pain to yourself.  

 Almita, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Depression and anxiety have always been present. For so many years you thought no one will ever love you. For so many years, you allowed others to brake you over and over again. My lovely girl, it took a long time to shine again. Through this letter, I want to thank you for allowing me to live. Regardless of all the pain and times you felt alone. You continued to rise. Now you’re not only helping yourself, but others who have gone through similar experiences. Cheer up my beautiful Goddess. You have a great support system and you have so much love to share. You are part of a beautiful sisterhood, which has given you more strength. I love you Almita, keep on rising my beautiful child!  

 -Your 35-year-old self

Almita
It was not your fault. That day you decided to skip school and left with your “friend” to her boyfriend’s house, you did not know another boy was going to be there. It was not your fault that the boy felt the right to kiss you, touch you, and penetrated you. You wanted to stop him, but everything happened so fast, your body was in shock, no one was there to help you. No one cared about you. Your friend just laughed at you. You went home that day and got in the shower without saying a word. You looked at your body, which did not seem to be yours anymore. You wanted to detach yourself from it. You scrubbed so hard, but that nasty feeling didn’t go away. You were only 13-years-old and your parents always told you to be a “good girl.” You became silent and kept your inner pain to yourself.

Almita, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Depression and anxiety have always been present. For so many years you thought no one will ever love you. For so many years, you allowed others to brake you over and over again. My lovely girl, it took a long time to shine again. Through this letter, I want to thank you for allowing me to live. Regardless of all the pain and times you felt alone. You continued to rise. Now you’re not only helping yourself, but others who have gone through similar experiences. Cheer up my beautiful Goddess. You have a great support system and you have so much love to share. You are part of a beautiful sisterhood, which has given you more strength. I love you Almita, keep on rising my beautiful child!

-Your 35-year-old self

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
Nikki, 

 These words are hard to write. There is so much to say, but I can’t find the words. Remember that you are worthy and deserving of the very best. The trauma and pain that continues to follow you does not mean you are weak. The tears you shed, the days you can’t get out of bed, all those feelings that make you tired, actually exhausted does not mean you are not deserving to be on earth or to breath the air you are a Goddess. You are love. The past doesn’t define you. It only makes you stronger. Nikki, I love you as you are. Stop putting yourself down and comparing yourself to others. You are where you are supposed to be. You are on the right path. You will ahve the desires of your heart soon!  

 I love you, 

 Nikki

Nikki,

These words are hard to write. There is so much to say, but I can’t find the words. Remember that you are worthy and deserving of the very best. The trauma and pain that continues to follow you does not mean you are weak. The tears you shed, the days you can’t get out of bed, all those feelings that make you tired, actually exhausted does not mean you are not deserving to be on earth or to breath the air you are a Goddess. You are love. The past doesn’t define you. It only makes you stronger. Nikki, I love you as you are. Stop putting yourself down and comparing yourself to others. You are where you are supposed to be. You are on the right path. You will ahve the desires of your heart soon!

I love you,

Nikki

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
Dear 16-Year-Old Jollene, 

 You are smart and a lot of people love you–follow your gut. It will lead you out and to a life of resistance, sisterhood, community, of books, travel, organizing, loud laughs and amazing victories you won’t even believe. You will love again. The bruises will heal. The few that don’t– The bruises no one can–see– will serve as fuel for the life you will grow up to lead. You will love again. You don’t have to feel shame anymore. Soon he won’t be able to touch you because you will sum up the strength inside you to fight back then leave. You will grow up to do amazing things. I promise you. You will love again.  

 Love, 35-Year-Old Jollene 

 Dear 35-Year-Old Jollene 

 Hang in there, Mama. liberation is on her way and all that you’ve survived–the blows, the shoves, the shamings, the shape–have made you strong enough to usher in he new world you have been dreaming of for you and the baby. Marcelo will taste liberation because of you. He inherited the resilience you birthed. violence and your ability to survive it will no longer have to be a definition of your identity. everyone lives in safety, security, and actualization. collective care is just the minimum. poetry and song are everywhere. Marcelo still dances to his favorite freedom song and i think your future grandchild will know the song by heart soon enough. you did it. you loved again and again.  

 Love,  

 Future 60-Year-Old Jollene

Dear 16-Year-Old Jollene,

You are smart and a lot of people love you–follow your gut. It will lead you out and to a life of resistance, sisterhood, community, of books, travel, organizing, loud laughs and amazing victories you won’t even believe. You will love again. The bruises will heal. The few that don’t– The bruises no one can–see– will serve as fuel for the life you will grow up to lead. You will love again. You don’t have to feel shame anymore. Soon he won’t be able to touch you because you will sum up the strength inside you to fight back then leave. You will grow up to do amazing things. I promise you. You will love again.

Love, 35-Year-Old Jollene

Dear 35-Year-Old Jollene

Hang in there, Mama. liberation is on her way and all that you’ve survived–the blows, the shoves, the shamings, the shape–have made you strong enough to usher in he new world you have been dreaming of for you and the baby. Marcelo will taste liberation because of you. He inherited the resilience you birthed. violence and your ability to survive it will no longer have to be a definition of your identity. everyone lives in safety, security, and actualization. collective care is just the minimum. poetry and song are everywhere. Marcelo still dances to his favorite freedom song and i think your future grandchild will know the song by heart soon enough. you did it. you loved again and again.

Love,

Future 60-Year-Old Jollene

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter

Dear Survivor,
I’m with you….today and always. I know your fears. I know your pain. I know your doubts. I’ve felt the same misplaced shame. I’m walking the path you’re on. You’re not alone. I’m in front of you to guide, beside you to strengthen, and behind you in case you fall, as so many others have done for me. And, I am so, SO sorry for what you’ve endured. But, I want you to know it doesn’t have to be what endures. It doesn’t have to be what defines, confines, maligns, or resigns you to a life without joy. You are NOT what happened to you. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are enough. You ARE a survivor. And, you matter. Yes, YOU….you matter!!! You deserve healing. You deserve to get your voice back. You deserve to break the shackles of shame and silence and secrecy. You deserve FREEDOM! I want you to know I believe you and I believe IN you, too. None of this was your fault. And, NONE of this has to be your future. You are capable of not only surviving, you are capable of thriving. You are capable of living a life of beauty despite the brokenness and a life of peace despite the pieces. And, that is my hope for you….a mind full of beauty and a soul full of peace – and, hope….always HOPE! Deep, deep breaths, courageous friend. You can do this. You can do this hard thing. You can overcome….just as you have already overcome much to get to this point so far. And, one day, you can write a letter just like this – a LOVE letter to other survivors, yes….but also to the one survivor who has lived within you all along. Take care of that precious one and take care of you too!
Love (and Hope!) Always,
Your Sister in Survival,
Brittney

I am with you on this journey

Dear Survivor,

You don’t know me. We may not have a lot in common – maybe only one thing: We were raped. But I want you to know that I love you. I do not judge you. I do not pity you. I respect and admire and hurt for you. I understand your pain. But, I also know that you are stronger than you realize. You are an amazingly imperfect human being doing the best that you can to live your life. I love you so much that I want you to believe you can have a full life, an open life, a free life. You don’t have to do everything alone. You may be afraid to accept love and or you may not even be confident that you know what love is. But being brave is not being unafraid. Being brave is doing what needs to be done despite being afraid. And being brave can come in small steps, just like your healing. You are on a journey now, but you are not alone. I will be with you, loving you, believing and believing in you, and supporting you however you need it. We will make this journey together and it will be a beautiful up and down trip. I am grateful for you and love you infinitely and will not leave you.

Dear Survivor,

I wanted to tell you to remember you are not alone. I thought I was for almost 29 years. I was so afraid to speak my truths until this year. I want you to remember that you are valuable. That you did not do anything to deserve this. Your life matters. I want you to remember that no one can steal from you the value you hold. And whether you were a child, or a young woman, This is not your fault. You are not labeled by your abuse. It does not take away the significance you hold. You are not only a survivor but You are a warrior!!! You have come this far and Your light still shines brightly. You are not what happened to you. You are not the rape. You are not the sexual abuse. You are not less then a woman. You are a beautiful gift and No one can take that piece of you away. I stand with you. Be proud of yourself. And remember you deserve to be loved, cared for, and protected, You are a warrior. I will always support you. I believe You and I believe in You. You are loved as you are. I am sorry for the pain you have endured. I just want you to remember that no matter how difficult things have been that you are Loved, You Matter, and You are Worthy. Most of all, I will stand by your side always.

Love

RG

#survivorloveletter

Dear survivors,

We are not different, you and I. Because I have survived, too. 

But I need you to know that I see you.

My trauma encompassed my soul for so many years. I was not a person. I was an empty shell, drifting through life, running from a moment in time that had already happened. I felt the further I buried myself into the ground, if I could just disappear, it would all go away. That I could just go away, and that no one would be given the opportunity to get to know me or see me, because in reality, there was no one to know anymore. 

This is what an assault does to you. And you need to know that I understand. And so many of us understand. And that you are not alone. 

And you are still there, I promise you. You are still living and breathing and beautiful. You will someday, when you come up for air, catch your breath, and you will find yourself again. Because as lost as we feel, we are not gone. The trail in the forest always leads out; we just need to find the right trail again. 

And just know there are so many of us here to help you, who understand, who are walking along on our own trails. Who still hit bumps on the way, who struggle with the navigation, who take so many steps forward and sometimes take a couple steps back.

And that’s okay. 

Please keep going, because you deserve to. You are a beautiful human being, deserving of the life you always wanted and dreamed. No one deserves to take you from you.

And please remember, always, I see you.  

For years I wanted to tear my skin off because he touched it. I felt worthless and dirty. Years later when I finally became an adult I was disgusted by my blooming sexual feelings to both genders. I felt ashamed of my feelings and repressed them… I unknowingly gave my power to a man who didn’t even give a shit. But I am finally realizing I do not nor did I ever belong to him. I am taking my power back and beginning to love myself and in doing so allowing other people to do the same.

For years I wanted to tear my skin off because he touched it. I felt worthless and dirty. Years later when I finally became an adult I was disgusted by my blooming sexual feelings to both genders. I felt ashamed of my feelings and repressed them… I unknowingly gave my power to a man who didn’t even give a shit. But I am finally realizing I do not nor did I ever belong to him. I am taking my power back and beginning to love myself and in doing so allowing other people to do the same.

A Letter To Myself 1 Year Ago, On The Night Of The Rape

Dear Elizabeth on October 25, 2015,


I am writing this letter from a place of pain, but also from a place of strength that I did not have a year ago.

First of all, I want you to know that I am with you. I was with you that night when Jackson robbed you of your autonomy. I was with you on the night when you were so brave to report and seek justice. I was with you on those nights in January and March, when Jackson once again took advantage of your vulnerability and low self esteem. I was with you every day in class when you couldn’t focus. I was with you in the courtroom as you shook with fear. I was, am, and always will be with you.

Nobody is entitled to your body. Jackson took something that wasn’t his. That’s his fault and nobody else’s. Your black skirt was not consent. You letting him touch your leg was not consent. Nothing you did or said that night indicated consent for him to do what he did. Whether you could have prevented the assault or not is irrelevant. I need you to know that I don’t blame you for a single thing that happened that night. You were young, you were afraid, and you reacted in the only way you knew how - by freezing up. That’s okay. You did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing.

Don’t listen to the people who propose alternative actions you could have taken. Given your mental health and your assessment of the situation, you did what you could, and that is enough.
You are enough. You are wholly, unconditionally, unapologetically enough. Remember that. You are enough. And you are brave.

Even on days when you feel weak, afraid, and vulnerable, you are still enough. You are still brave. You are brave for getting out of bed every day. You are brave for having fun, and trying new things. But most of all, you are brave for speaking out.

You could have let this kill you. You almost did. But I know you better than that, Elizabeth. You won’t go down without a fight. You still have so much left to do and share with the world. You have so many people left to touch. You will raise your voice, and tell not only your story, but the stories of the millions of men and women who didn’t report. You will be heard. You will make such a difference in this world, and that is brave. Jackson chose to mess with the wrong girl, didn’t he?

I want to remind you to be kind to yourself. You did nothing wrong; why all this hate? Care for yourself. Love yourself. Please, I’m begging you. You deserve so, so much better than what you have given yourself.

So to the Elizabeth on October 25, 2015, please hear me. You have so many wonderful things ahead. In the next year, you will grow so much. And to the Elizabeth right now, sobbing as she writes this letter: so will you. You will do even better than your past self. You will have your good days and your bad days, and that’s okay. You will be okay, eventually.

I am so proud of your incredible resilience and bravery. I am so proud of the emotional growth you’ve done this summer and have yet to do. You deserved this all along. You deserve happiness. You deserve life. You deserve help. You deserve everything good in this world.

Even on days when you feel weak, or afraid, or broken, remember that you are brave. You don’t need to always act brave, or feel brave, but you ARE brave for getting help and for helping others. That can never be erased. I am with you always.


With infinite love,


Elizabeth

*my name has been changed*