When I was about 18 years old getting ready to move out on my own with my now husband of 21 years, I was going through some photos as I packed up 18 years of my life into many small boxes.
I came across this photo of me (on the left). I was 5 years old here, and when I found this photo, I aggressively ripped it in half out of anger. I was angry and I couldn’t face what this photo represented.
This was me when the sexual abuse started, and looking at this photo brings back the memories of when it started, and how scared and fragile I was.
I took the 2 pieces of this photo and put it away in a book and never looked back on it until just 3 years ago when I decided to tape it back together and bring it into therapy.
I later scanned it and put it on my computer, but you could still see the huge rips in it, and the tape that held it together.
Still hard to look at, I put it away in a folder on my hard-drive and continued to try to forget about this sweet little innocent big brown-eyed girl who was abused in ways a little girl should never be abused.
This past weekend I found the photo, and I took this photo and brought it into Photoshop and started to repair it. I began fixing the rips, touching up the color, working hard on the details of this photo that was ripped out of anger because of what I went through as a child.
The more and more I worked on this photo I noticed that I was trying too hard to make it perfect, to put the picture back to where it was.. but what I realized was “it will never be the way it was, and it will never be the way I want it to be.. it’s perfect the way it is.
I was touching up and repairing a photo, but on the inside I was caring for this little girl I hold inside of me. A huge part of my healing is about facing this little girl I hold inside, and for the longest time I had a hard time seeing her and her pain, and this weekend I not only fixed up a torn photo, I was accepting that little part of me deep inside.
It was an emotional moment for me. It was hard not to want to make this photo perfect, to accept that she is pained and hurt behind those big brown eyes and fake put on smile.
To sit there and touch up a photo knowing that the little me was abused maybe even that day I got home from school, and how painful it was that I could not take that away – but yet I still stayed with photo and touched it up and healed it as best as I could.
I took the “healed” version of this photo into therapy today and showed it to my therapist, and we both sat in awe as we talked about how beautiful this little girl was – that I was. The big brown eyes, the smile that held so much pain, and the Raggedy Ann necklace that fell around my neck that I loved so much.
The rip and the tears on the photo are healed not perfectly; but enough to see it and be with its imperfections, and I also need to heal the inside – and just like the photo, I can’t make it perfect, I can’t take away the pain I went through as a child, but I can sit with her and show her a new way of living, a new way to talk about her pain, her hurt, and to know she is supported, loved and cared for not only by my support and therapist, but most importantly by me.