cartoon cow writing at a desk

Reconfiguring Thanksgiving for Debbie (11.23.17)

I woke up early on Thanksgiving Day and decided to write a letter to my 8 year old self to change an energetic pattern I’ve been experiencing within my family system for many years.

November 23, 2017

Dear 8 Year Old Debbie,

I am so sorry that daddy did this to you. I am here for you. I will take care of you. Daddy should have never, ever, EVER touched you like this. No one is allowed to touch your private parts without your permission. I know this is confusing, because I don’t remember Mommy or Daddy ever talking with you before about your private parts. I don’t even remember if they had any names or nicknames for these parts of your body.

I know that you were shamed and reprimanded strongly by Daddy for showing your underpants in public two different times. One time when you were about 5 years old, you were with Daddy at the barbershop. You were wearing a dress and had your legs up in the chair to sit more comfortably. Apparently your underpants were showing and Daddy scolded you after that visit and told you to never show your underpants or something like that. I remember the feeling of that reprimand being harsh and scary. One other time, when you again were about 5 years old, you were in the side yard between our home and the Rave’s house. You were playing games with your brother and your neighborhood friends John and Bobby and you pulled your dress up to show them your underwear. Daddy apparently saw this from somewhere and reprimanded you harshly and threatened you to never show your underpants like that again. I know that none of this makes sense, because he never told you an explanation – only that it was bad or wrong.

What makes all of this information about underpants more confusing is that in 2nd grade, you and your female classmates used to line yourselves up on the swings in the school playground and swing so that your underpants would show to the boys on another set of swings. All of you girls had dresses on, you all placed the flexible straps of the swings on the back of your waists, threw your legs up into the air, somehow hooked your feet around the chains, held onto the chain with your hands, and then swung back and forth in the breeze. Essentially, you all were mooning the boys with your underpants showing. This activity felt free and fun and playful. No teacher ever came over and told you, or anyone else, that this behavior was wrong. Granted, the swings were close to some woods and a good distance from where the teachers hung out during recess. Yes, a part of this experience felt risky, but you were only 7 years old. You were playing with your peers and innocently flirting, or being inappropriate, with boys in your own age group.

So you have this information, this message, that underpants are bad, forbidden, and must be kept hidden. If underpants are supposed to be kept hidden or secret, then what is underneath the underpants must be worse. I don’t know. I don’t know how Mommy and Daddy spoke to you about your private parts. Daddy used to call women’s breasts “tits,” but I don’t remember how old you were when you learned that crude name for breasts.

Daddy loves you and you love Daddy. I know that Daddy told you that this is another way that people show each other how they love each other, but he is totally wrong, wrong, wrong. No father should touch his daughter’s breasts and vulva. No father should force himself onto you and do things to you that make you feel scared, frightened, terrified, confused, and uncomfortable. You are a child and he is an adult. Daddy is wrong and he needs help. He’s not right in his head.

None of this stuff is your fault. Daddy is messed up in his head. He is an adult and he knows better than to touch you like this. I know that this may be confusing because you love Daddy and he loves you.

Daddy, Mommy, and Doug are coming over for dinner today. I know that in the past several years, your stomach has gotten very upset when they come over, but this year is going to be different. You are stronger. You are with me. I am here to protect you. I have always been here to protect you. No one will ever harm you like Daddy did. He can and will never hurt you again. Daddy was wrong. Daddy was sick. Daddy made a HUGE mistake and Mommy and Daddy didn’t do a good job at teaching you about your body, your private parts, what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate behavior for children and adults. Mommy and Daddy blew it with this one big time. They fucked up. (Oops! Sorry, that’s an adult word.) I love you. I will always love you. And you can depend on me to protect you. And if you need to talk about this problem, I am here to listen to you. I am here to help you. I love you Debbie. Let me give you a big hug forever.

A-women. (My daughters’ and my version of “amen.”)

As I finished writing this letter to 8 year old Debbie, I received this song in my consciousness:

LONESOME HOMESICK BLUES sung by Sam Gleaves & Tyler Hughes (2017)
Music and lyrics by Maybelle Carter

I’ve got the lonesome homesick blues
I’ve got them bad babe down in my shoes
I left someone there that I might lose
That’s why I’ve got these old homesick blues

It makes me homesick to hear your name
And hold you dear in my arms again
I’m a gonna ride that old lonesome train
To the one I left back in Maces Springs

You told me once dear you loved me so
And it’s on my mind everywhere I go
I’ll soon be knowing if it is so
Or has your love for me grown cold

I’ve been away babe a long long time
Now I’m riding down this old railroad line
And the one I loved there I hope to find
To ease this lonesome blue heart of mine

Oh listen to that old lonesome train
It’s a gonna carry me back again
To the one that told me their love was true
I’ll spend the rest of my days with you

P.S. My parents and brother came over for Thanksgiving dinner and it felt special, pleasant, and comfortable. My stomach never got upset which is a miracle based on the past several years. I am thankful for my healing and growth. I have found the one I loved (myself) to ease this lonesome blue heart of mine.

I also heard a train whistle blow during my walk this morning. We live 10 miles away from the nearest train tracks and every now and then I hear a train whistle blow which reminds me of my maternal grandparent’s home in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. I am grateful for music, my intuition, my hearing, my family, and my ancestors. A-women.