Amelia’s story struck me because I also don’t really have a before. I was abused starting at a young age. I don’t have memories of what my life looked like before abuse. I certainly don’t have an adult version of me to return to.
“You see, there was no “before.” My earliest memories are of abuse, which resulted in hypervigilence, anxiety, depression and self-harm. That was my life. And I hated it. I wasn’t a happy child. I wasn’t a confident child. I didn’t do well at school. I didn’t have friends. I wasn’t capable of socializing. I was different. I didn’t fit in. I was a very serious child. I was overly concerned about cancer, the war in Iraq and the end of the world. Most of these issues were largely the result of trauma and the resulting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
It can be a struggle when so many of our friends and even professionals want to help us overcome abuse to “get back to” ourselves when there is no previous version of ourselves to use as a target. I don’t think this should be the goal anyway. The goal for any child abuse victim should not be to go back to being a younger version of themselves before the abuse, the goal should be to build a life after abuse. I didn’t find much healing in trying to remember my early childhood, but I found a ton of healing in having someone help me design the life I wanted to have as an adult and helping me feel worthy and capable of having that.
I wish more people understood that instead of trying in vain to find some previous version that cannot be returned to.