Dear Little Boy, Please Shut the Fuck Up:
A Letter to Myself as a Boy
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and this was written as a letter to myself as a boy trying to survive the abuse I experienced. I think it simultaneously tells two stories: the story of myself as a boy and the story of my experience as an adult who is haunted by that little boy who is never far away.
Dear little boy, please shut the fuck up.
I can’t stand your constant crying anymore, your endless pleading for help. All I hear, all day and all night, is your voice echoing inside my head and it’s making me crazy. I couldn’t help you then and I can’t help you now. So, please, just shut the fuck up.
I can’t make it better for you. I can’t make him stop touching you like that and I can’t peel his fingers off from you anymore than you can. If I could, you’d be gone, up the stairs and out the door in double-time. But I can’t, so just be still, don’t move and let your mind drift.
You know how to do that- I taught you a long time ago.
Remember what I said? Focus on the television in the corner or that poster of Farrah Fawcett above his bed or look up to the ceiling and count the panels. It’s nine squares across and seven and a half wide. Then count them backwards, then forward again. Count them as many times as you have to. Just count.
Distract your mind with anything.
Think about your treehouse in the weeping willow at grandma’s house. Think about the rusty train tracks, abandoned long ago, that cut through her backyard and where they might lead. Think about the candy hidden in her dresser drawer, that bag of Peppermint Patties she thinks you don’t know about.
Remember when I told you these things? And do you remember that I told you not to forget them? That was me helping you in the only way I can. So please, just shut up.
Can’t you give me an hour of peace?
I hear you first thing in the morning as I stumble to the kitchen to make my coffee. I hear you as I pick through a handful of pills- some blue, some yellow, some white- hoping one of them will muffle your cries even for a little while.
I hear you every day as I try so hard to be the good boy he tells you to be, the good boy that you want to be, the good boy you need me to be, the good boy that will make him stop. But that’s a pipe dream, kiddo. You will never be that good boy and he’s not going to stop.
And each day, I fear that I fail you- even if I don’t. So then, as the day turns to dusk and regret sets in, I self-medicate to distract myself from you
I spend hours listening to “One More Light” by Linkin Park on a loop, each time bleeding a little more as Chester Bennington exorcises demons with each line, each verse a picking of my scabs- an act of self-harming and self-healing at the same time. I do this to drown you out because I can’t always take care of you. I do this for me.
But the next morning, it starts all over again, and this cycle is making me crazy.
You’ve taken so much from me already. But every day, I give you more and more, in ways you do not see, and it’s never enough and I don’t know how much more I can give to you. You’ve taken more than your pound of flesh by now, so can’t you be quiet for just a little bit?
Can’t you let me rest…let me sleep?
You shouldn’t have gone down there with him in the first place. You shouldn’t have followed him into his bedroom. And you shouldn’t be letting him touch you like that.
You should be running back upstairs to your mother or dad, to your neighbor or teacher or preacher. You should be running, never stopping, pushing on until you find someone- anyone- who will believe you, will hold you and protect you, will defend you and make you feel safe.
But you’re not running. You’re frozen, paralyzed with fear.
You’re not fighting back, so now you’re on your own. So please be quiet, be still and wait for him to stop. He will eventually- he always does.
But you know this already because you’ve been here before, so why do I need to tell you these things again and again and again?
Please stop asking me- I already told you what to do and the sooner you start pretending, the sooner you won’t feel it. You won’t even notice that he’s touching you.
Remember that time by the sump pump, when you stared down at your shoes as he pressed himself against you? Remember how your mind drifted to the homework waiting for you, the homework he promised to help you with? Remember how you imagined yourself running up the stairs, two steps at a time, speeding out the door straight to your room to watch the robins and blue jays and sparrows through the window? Remember how easy it was to pretend once you started?
Well, it’s time to start pretending again- the only way to survive is to get good at it. Every time you want to recoil from his touch, pretend he’s not doing that to you. Leave your body and float up to the ceiling. And when you look down, know it’s not you on his bed. It’s not you that he’s touching. It’s someone else doing those things to someone else, just like in those movies he showed you. Pretend this is just another movie.
It’s hard at first, I know, but you’ll get better at it. Each time he touches you, pretending gets easier and then you can survive in silence.
In time, you’ll get so good at pretending that you won’t remember any of this. You’ll learn that you can pretend anything away. You’ll learn that bad things don’t really happen- at least not to you. All of this will go away and none of this will be true. The memories will fade to black and you can begin to live your life, a new life, any life you want.
You’ll move away. You’ll make new friends. You’ll follow your dreams.
But you’ll only find solace once you start pretending and then you won’t need me anymore. So please, little boy, just shut the fuck up.
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