As I’ve written in previous posts, I’ve been involved with the protectldschildren.org petition started by Sam Young.
The following is written by the anonymous guest I had on Mormon Mental Health Podcast this past week to talk about the experiences that she submitted to the webpage. Be aware that this post and the podcast contain details of sexual assault.
Yesterday, for the first time since I started walking this healing path, I was able to find some compassion and offer it to myself.
It happened when I realized that adult me knows that I am safe. Adult me knows that being betrayed does not put me in any actual, physical, or emotional danger. Grown up Sandy knows that when I experience a betrayal, it really has nothing to do with me and that I will always be okay.
The little girl inside me knows no such thing. That fear response? That deep feeling of hurt and loss? That’s her. Her intuition is far purer than my adult intuition, which has been silenced and repressed for so long. So when I can recognize that she is afraid, that is important information, and I need to listen to it.
And when I realized that? I realized that I could keep her safe. That I don’t have to let anyone hurt her ever again. That I can give her the love and protection she never found in the world. And not only that I can, that it is my most profound and important responsibility to do so.
I thought she was lost. That version of me. And in some ways, it would be easier if she were. But she’s not. She is the one who continues to feel terror at the idea of abandonment, even when I know cognitively that nothing bad is happening. She is the one who stamps her feet at the injustice in the world. The one who craves connection. She is the one who desperately wants to trust someone, anyone, to feel loved, and cared for.
And now I know that I am the only one who can truly give that to her. I am the only one who can truly promise her that I will never leave her, never betray her, never abandon her, the only person capable of making that promise and keeping it.
And that is what I am going to do, because she deserves it.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine, is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.