What's in a picture?

Jeremy Doe

HI fellow survivors,

I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this post but it feels like progress, or at least a realization, and I felt that sharing would help.

When I joined, I was a bit taken aback by the use of profile photos that depicted our younger selves. I'm not sure where it came from. But I remember a strong aversion. But, in the end, I found some of my older photos and picked one from the age that the abuse started. I was 4, 5, or 6. And I found the only photo I had of me at that time. It's funny because that's the only picture I have of me then.

And what a difference it made.

My go-to approach has been to deny. To ignore. To blame myself. To pretend it didn't happen. To not talk about it. My secret. Nothing to see here. And I guess that somewhere along the way I killed that child in me. He was gone. When a new round of abuse started when I was ten, I buried that too. Killed him. Buried him. Gone. That wasn't me. That never happened. And I did that for my entire life. And then when I grew up, through middle and high school, I just kept piling on the dirt. I didn't talk about my past, I didn't have a past. New town, new school, new me. Nothing to see here.

My aunt had photos of me and when I was visiting she shared them. And i remember feeling a bit lost and a bit confused. The pictures had my eyes and my smile, and the same general facial features, but I couldn't relate to that person. I couldn't remember that person. They looked foreign and distant. I didn't know then but I know now it was because I killed that kid.

And after I posted that pictured, it brought him back to life.

So much of my life has been a constant cycle of denial and self loathing. I hated myself. I was a deviant, and a sinner. I was a homosexual. I wanted it. I was asking asking for it. I went back to it like it was an ice-cream cone. Who was I to say it was abuse if I never rang the bell or sounded the alarm?

But that's the shame, the doubt, and the toxic society that we live in speaking and I'm starting to see that now. So much of everything we contend with is shame and guilt. Imagine a world where people aren't made to feel shame and the subsequent guilt. What would that look like?

Well that kid was living in that world. And he was hurt and he was twisted and he was lost. He was destroyed when he was packaged in a box and thrown away.

When I added my picture, it felt like I was saying, "no, he gets to live." "he has value." "he's a good kid" "he deserves a good life." and that is a very different feeling and perspective than I've had for the last 32 years.

Now, I want to rediscover the life that kid would have had if he wasn't raped. I've spent so much of my life hating myself and hating others that seemed to have the perfect life. The wildly successful people that seemed to walk on water and have no cares in the world. And now I'm seeing that I was that person. I was six and I didn't have a job, but I had my whole future ahead of me, even if that whole future was just until I went to bed.

Posting that picture was empowering. Posting that picture, while scary and unnerving, was a shovel into the dirt of the grave of my younger self. And Now i feel like that person deserves to live again. Now I have responsibilities now, and I can't be as careless as I was when I drinking out of garden hoses and playing in places I shouldn't,\ have, but I can still look at the rest of my life with a sense of optimism. I punished myself for so long. And I'm sure I'll punish myself for a bit longer, but in this moment of insight, I really feel like if I were to tap into that kid. To hold myself and to tell that kid to open up and to divulge the secrets and the pain, then I can make some real progress in my healing.

And so when I look at me, I'm reminded of the potential I had. I remember what it was like to laugh and to cry, and to smile. To trust and to be honest. And I remember a time before I was this shade of a person, this veneer. This defensive, secretive, semi-deceptive, evasive, and manipulative person. I remember what it was like to be honest and pure.

And looking at my old picture helps me imagine that. And I feel like if I look at it enough, it will become true to me.

That's all I had about that but would love to hear the thoughts of others.

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