I was so tiny and yet I blame myself.
I find it difficult to imagine myself as a child partly because I have no childhood photos but also because I guess I never felt like a child. I was never allowed to be a child or feel like a child. I was forced into adult things from a very tiny age and it skewed my entire self perception.
I’ve been watching Junior Masterchef Australia lately. The youngest contestant was a really small 9-year old girl. Right through the series I’ve been transfixed on this tiny little girl. I’ve not been able to take my eyes off her. Last night I was wondering why and it came to me why. She is 9 and she is really small for her age. My godmother has told me that I was always small for my age too. My father raped me for the first time on my 9th birthday. By the time I was 9 I was used to being sodomised and raped regularly. That was just life and had been for many years by then.
As I looked at this little girl last night I thought to myself “Fi, she’s so tiny” and I couldn’t get my head around how anyone would want to do what was done to me to such a tiny little girl.
Then I thought about how I’m struggling to find a way through the hurt and shame to talk in therapy about things that happened to me when I was 3 when I was even tinier than that. It seems absurd to blame a tiny 3-year old or tiny 9-year old for those things and yet that is exactly what I’m doing. The child inside me carries all sort of arguments for how it was all her fault, about if only I’d done such and such or said such and such. But in reality I was very little surrounded by powerful big grown-ups intent on things that no child should have to witness or experience.
Just a couple of weeks ago my therapist said to me “but Fi, you were tiny, you would only have been this big” and showed me with her hand an approximate height for me. I asked her to show me a second time because I was struggling to comprehend the reality of what happened. She did that because I was saying to her how I wanted, as a 3-year old, to stamp my feet and say “bad gramps” but didn’t dare because I knew I’d get beaten but I blamed myself for not doing that and that it was all my own fault for being “a good little girl and doing what gramps wanted” instead of creating a scene about it. Although I knew it wasn’t possible for me to have made a scene about it I still blamed myself for not doing so.
What skewed thinking! I’d already had a beating for saying that I didn’t want to go and sit on gramps knee because I didn’t want to play gramp’s games cos I didn’t like gramp’s games and how they made me feel. It is incredible to think that as a 3-year old I was already blaming myself for things that I had no power over.
It is sobering to realise how tiny and how powerless I was and how skewed it is to blame myself for things that in reality I could do nothing about. I was trapped in an adult’s world wanting to do kid’s things but being forced into adult things and it just blew me apart. My tiny little mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening to me then, only that it was bad and so it must be my fault because I was bad. But it wasn’t my fault it was their fault, they were the bad ones, not me. What a mess of shame and blame this is to try and sort out.