Dear Three-Year-Old Paula,
I’m so sorry that I never realized how broken and scarred you’ve been all this time. I guess I had shut you down so that I could survive moving forward. You didn’t know how to deal with those you trusted betraying you at such a core identity level.
You had no idea what to do with Mom leaving the country so she wouldn’t die when she had her sixth baby. Then, Dad gave you away to those women for six months because he couldn’t work and care for five kids by himself. You didn’t get to go back home even when they beat you, violated you, yelled at you, and controlled your every move. Begging to go home just made the abuse worse. Of course, we now know that Mom and Dad had no clue what was happening to you. You were only two when this started, so that six months felt like the rest of your life.
For me, becoming an emotional robot made so much sense. I deleted all the data that I couldn’t process so I could survive. I shut you down and pretended you didn’t exist. What you went through was too horrifying to face. In comparison, getting raped by that man when I was five seemed like just another painful event.
I managed to survive, but I didn’t thrive. I couldn’t feel the pain of abandonment and abuse, but I also couldn’t feel the love and support. I didn’t know what joy was, or happiness or fun or laughter. I shut down inside. I responded to life in a mechanical way that felt safe. Now, I know that you were hiding inside. You didn’t feel safe enough to even let me know you were there.
I’m so glad that I’ve healed enough for you to poke your head out and start showing yourself. I have to admit that I’ve really struggled with how to handle situations that you’ve taken over. PTSD was not something I realized applied to me. It took me a while to realize situations were triggering your three-year-old panic. Some of these times have been really important business situations that I needed to respond to in an executive adult capacity. So we’ve got to talk.
I need you to know that I can protect you. I’m the capable adult that has a crazy skill set when it comes to problem solving and survival. I’ve weathered incredible abuse and danger. I’ve survived my world falling apart and exploding in my face. I’ve refused to give up even when suicide seemed the only answer. I’ve chosen God and His faithfulness despite every reason not to. I’ve made the choices, good and bad, that have gotten us here, forty years later. We can do this. With God’s help, we will have an amazing future.
I need you to realize that I’m making choices that keep us on the journey to permanent healing. I’ll keep you safe so you can learn to grow up. You don’t have to hide and run away in panic when things feel threatening. You can trust me to get the help we need to make good choices that will protect us. You can start choosing to grow up so you can join me in the adult world where I am helping other broken little girls like you. Let me be the strong woman who will love and shelter you no matter what. Let me show you the joy and beauty of being healthy and whole.
Together, let’s reach little girls, teenage girls, and women who are hurting. Let’s show them God’s miraculous love. Let’s share our story of hope and healing to give them hope, too. We know what it feels like, how hard it is, and what to do to get help. We can share God’s hope and healing with others.
God loves us,
Author, Speaker, Blogger, and Certified Life Coach
Born in the jungles of Peru to missionary parents, Paula’s beginning in life was anything but typical.
Raped at the age of 5, Paula was caught in a cycle of damage and abuse which lasted into her thirties. From sexual abuse to later mental, emotional and even spiritual abuse, Paula developed a victim mentality, which fueled decades of continued abuse. The trauma she experienced caused her to develop a variety of psychosomatic illnesses which, at times, left her bed-ridden.
Broken beyond endurance and suicidal, Paula cried out to God for help. He miraculously intervened, faithfully walking with her through a dramatic healing process. Along the way, Paula learned to stand up to her abusers and stop attracting predators. She now knows, from personal experience, the healing, deliverance, and hope that only God can bring.
As an ex-victim, Paula’s passion to help others resulted in her writing Bloom in the Dark: True Stories of Hope and Redemption, a compilation of true stories shared by women who have walked through personal darkness and abuse. Each story tells how God met, healed, and restored an ex-victim. Readers discover that they are not alone. Lasting healing is possible!
As the Chairman of Bloom In The Dark, Inc., a 501c3 charity, Paula focuses on writing and speaking to female abuse victims—raising awareness about abuse, bringing hope to victims, and partnering with ministries to help victims recover. Her SCORRE public speaking training helps her presentations come alive with hope and humor.
A single mom living in Nashville, Paula homeschools her three sons, ranging in age from seven to fifteen. Her sons are a key part of Paula’s support team and her biggest fans. Together they enjoy swimming, hiking and roller skating.