To describe the last 11 months as a roller coaster of emotions would be a massive understatement.
We’ve all watched and listened to the seemingly hourly developments in the early days of the pandemic. Changing reports of symptoms, conflicting recommendations on what’s safest, mixed signals on transmission data… And today we’re locked in the draining mire of the endurance game, as we wait for vaccines and herd immunity effects. All of this created a mess of confusion, anxiety, fear, and even panic across the planet.
For our kids, especially the pre-teen and adolescent age groups, we saw many embrace a sense of excitement early on as they realized Spring Break was going to last into and through the summer! But then the reality of remote learning began to sink in and the lives they used to know began to erode.
Isolation was introduced by circumstances.
Loneliness, seclusion, solitude, and feelings of separation became the norm for many of our kids, especially pre-teens, and adolescents. Many have found themselves in unfamiliar emotional places, much different than they have ever felt before. Kids use words like “dark”, “lonely”, and “confusing” to describe this unfamiliar place. They report feeling “not good enough” and issues once hidden and shoved under the carpet have slowly surfaced – leaving these kids scared, afraid, and oftentimes terrified.
This is the first in a series of letters from children who have found themselves dealing with REAL issues they once didn’t have time to deal with, or allow themselves to think about. These kids still have their hurts and issues regardless of the pandemic and we will hear how they continue to cope.
Journal Entry By: Nathan, Age 13
Being alone because of COVID-19 restrictions…. It was forced onto all of us. Being alone all of a sudden brought me to a lonely, dark place I never expected. Very painful events from my youth began to fill my head and I didn’t know what to do with them.
The idea of writing a journal wasn’t or isn’t easy for me to comprehend. But if it will help another kid from making the same mistake I made, I might as well get it done.
This “thing” isn’t something that happened on a day-to-day basis nor did it happen to everyone. It doesn’t mean it will happen to you or a kid you love but keep on reading this please.
I was 7 years old and lived a happy fun life, then disaster struck.
Since I was 7 to 9 years old, almost everyday of the week, I was being sexually abused and no one knew…except my “friend”, Joey (age 13), who was the one who was abusing me. I have an older brother and a younger brother and sister, and we lived next door to another family who we felt were our best friends. We all played on a daily basis for hours. Our parents knew each other and if you could not find one of us, we were at the other’s house. We all trusted each other. We were always at our house or Joey’s. A parent was always home at our house as well as his. We would go back and forth between the houses without any suspicion from any parent.
The abuse did not happen right away. It happened over time.
It was like Joey was playing me and getting me ready for something, but I had no clue was going to happen. I got no warning from my brothers, who Joey tried to mess with first. They luckily dodged his attack and never mentioned it to me or anyone else.
I trusted Joey and looked up to him because he was older and stronger.
His plan began when he came up with a game. In this “game”, Joey formed a group or club that started with telling us we had to follow his directions in order to join the club. As a 7-year-old kid, I wanted to be in his club – no matter what it was, so I could be included with the other kids. I wanted to be liked and accepted and all the other things we did were way fun so I was excited to be a part of the club.
My brothers must have sniffed out his tricks and I had no idea what he was doing. I feel really dumb now to be the one that fell for his plan. I wish I would have known because it would have saved me a lot of trouble, pain, embarrassment and regret that I feel to this day.
The Club rules:
- It was secret
- It was private
- I felt special to be in it
- I felt he was my friend
- Bad things happened in the club
- We had “meetings” individually with him in the same place every time
Then the club stopped and things happened on a daily basis.
My nightmare was always at one particular big bush on our property right by our house. This bush was up against a fence – I remember it well – every single detail.
Joey would call a meeting with us. He started with my older brother and I am guessing nothing happened with him. Then he approached my other brother and my brother stopped it and left it all alone.
Then there was me.
I fell for it.
The meetings were daily – behind the bush.
He touched me and put his mouth on me. I knew it was wrong but I was terrified. He threatened me, telling me he would hurt me if I told anyone. He told me he would hurt my younger siblings. I was terrified of him. I was terrified to say a word to anyone.
I dreaded seeing him. I tried to make excuses. I would wear my gymnastics uniform so he could not touch me.
I hid it well from my mom and dad. I felt I would be in big trouble if they knew what was going on. I felt it was my fault and felt I would be punished for what was happening to me. I blocked out what was happening hoping it was a bad dream or maybe never happened. I felt like his hostage. I loved my house, I was very social, loved my family, the outdoors, and playing with other kids so I did not want to lose any of it. I kept quiet.
One day my mom had what she calls an odd moment or gut feeling.
She saw me and Joey on the patio alone. Joey was waiting for everyone to leave. My mom asked me what was going on. I ignored her and responded with “Nothing”. She asked me again. I gave her the same response, “Nothing”. She was not going to accept that answer. She would not accept my answer and convinced me to tell her.
I was cornered. I was horrified, ashamed, scared, and embarrassed. I did not want to have to deal with what was going to happen. I told her the basics. My mom was so nice and told me to go sit in my room for a while. Looking back, I imagine she had to get her thoughts together and she was going to have to tell my dad.
I felt a little relieved but also didn’t feel safe. I was afraid Joey would come and hurt me or I would be in trouble.
I went to the hospital to get checked out. We had to make sure it was all true. It was true. There were police officers, medics, counselors, a fire truck, and other people. I felt trapped. It seems like my mind is in a fog when I think about it now.
From what I remember Joey ended up getting in some trouble and then going to live with his grandmother.
We moved. I lost a lot.
Not only three years of my life and my innocence. I lost the house I loved. Our large property to play on. My freedom to play without worry. The family I loved next door. My friend next door. The idea of Joey being my friend.
I feel betrayed and lost at times. Why me?
Was I the stupid one who fell for his tricks? Was I the one who was not strong enough to stand up for myself? Am I now weak and helpless? Was it all my fault? Why didn’t anyone notice sooner? Why do I have nightmares and relive this all in my head? Am I damaged for life? Was I dirty?
I have not seen Joey since the day on the porch when my mom asked me what was going on. I am now 13 years old. I want Joey to hurt like I have hurt but I am not sure he is capable of ever feeling the feelings I have felt.
I am learning not to blame myself. I am learning the sexual abuse that happened to me does not define me. I am learning I have more power than I thought I had. I believe now I can use this terrible event to help other kids who might have experienced the same thing. I also believe I can share my story to kids to hopefully let them know if they have experienced this it is not their fault.
I want to make a difference in this world.
If it takes me having to share this story, I will.
Interested in more? I would love to virtually meet to you! Email or call anytime to schedule a virtual session. (817) 701-5438 | firstname.lastname@example.org
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach
Empowering individuals, families and communities to grow and heal through advanced approaches in Creative Arts Therapy, setting the standard for treatment, practice and training within the field.