Have you ever had a life-changing conversation with someone you just met?
Well, that’s what happened to me this past weekend when I met Charles. (the gentleman on the far left in the blue shirt)
Over the weekend I was blessed by a powerful and heartfelt conversation about trauma and healing with Charles who I had just met for the first time. I comfortably shared with him that I had lost my dad to suicide, but he sensed there was something more. His strong yet comforting presence made me feel safe which gave me permission to say, “I was molested as a young child.”
I’ve briefly shared this fact before, but it’s not something I speak of often. While I’ve experienced memories of the events that took place, I’ve never been able to identify who the perpetrator was. Because of this, there’s always been a part of me that wanted to believe that maybe it didn’t actually happen to me, but rather I witnessed it happening to my sisters. Either way, I knew a trauma had taken place.
Charles let out a compassionate sigh and said, “It’s the molestation that I’m sensing. What was your nickname during that time?”
Without even thinking I said, “Jenny Benny.”
I then began to cry. I had not thought of that name since I was a child. Saying it out loud flooded me with memories and heartache. Through his kind words and gentle touch, Charles comforted me and then encouraged me to write a letter to Jenny Benny so I could free myself from the pain I’ve been holding on to.
Over the last few days I’ve been giving the letter a lot of thought, but something was holding me back. This morning I received a chiropractic treatment that seemed to provide the release I needed.
So here we go …
Dear Jenny Benny,
I finally found you. I’ve felt your presence my whole life. Never fully understanding the pain and fear I was feeling, but always aware of it.
I was in high school when I first began having memories of you. Memories of someone causing you pain, telling you they love you, but then making you do things that broke you. With your spirit damaged, you became afraid of everyone, never knowing who you could trust, never feeling safe even in your own home.
The pain you experienced robbed you of being at peace with yourself. You were conditioned to believe that your own personal comfort came second to those around you. You didn’t know your own worth and you struggled to believe anyone could see value in who you were.
Those who violated you stole your innocence and your sense of belonging. You were one of six children, but never felt closely connected with any of them. It often felt as if you were an only child lost in the chaos of uncertainty, fear, and pain.
Somewhere along the way I stopped being you. Maybe it was having a husband and children of my own that made me realize they needed me to be more than you could offer them. I learned to love others and to receive love. I even began to see value in myself, but sadly, I’ve continued to have struggles that until now I hadn’t realized were related to you.
In fact, until this past weekend I had forgotten your name. Ah – the power of a name. All I had to do was say it out loud to once again feel all the despair, disgust, self-doubt, and self-loathing. My heart feels like it was ripped open. Every inch of me feels violated. It’s as if I’m right back in depths of that trauma. The only difference is that I’m now me and not you, and who I am today is amazing, beautiful, happy, passionate about life, and loved.
I could be upset by being reminded of you and how much this hurts, but instead I’m choosing to see it as a blessing. You see, I honestly thought I had overcome this trauma, that I had addressed it, managed it, and healed from it. But now I see that I’d never truly dealt with it because I had never addressed you.
My hope is that through this letter and through finally owning what happened I’ll be able to move forward healthier and stronger than ever before. I am making the choice to say goodbye to you and to no longer allow any part of who I am be a victim.
Jenny Benny, I’m sorry for what happened to you. I’m sorry for the burden you’ve had to carry all these years. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize until now that you’ve been trapped in me; still hurting, still desperate to feel approval, still willing to put other’s comfort above your own and still scared to trust.
I know goodbyes can be hard. I recognize that there may be times you might try to visit. Through the love and support of others, I’m learning to love myself and to put my own needs first, so I’m not even going to apologize for asking you to leave. Know that I love you, but I need to love you from a distance.
To my uncles and grandfather who caused this pain, I forgive you.
To my mom, aunts and grandmother who allowed this trauma to happen, I forgive you.
To my siblings who may have experienced this same trauma, I’m sorry and I love you.
To Jenny Benny who’s been buried deep within me tainting my ability to be confident, secure, and to love freely, I forgive you.
As I sit here focused on honoring this process, I’m aware that my tears are no longer flowing but are drying on my cheeks, the tightness in my chest is fading, and the sorrow that has weighed me down for years is lifting.
Charles – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Our conversation was a true gift and I will remember it always.
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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