When a little girl has been used as a sexual toy instead of protected and treasured, it changes the way she perceives herself. When she gathers the courage to tell someone about it and they disregard her, the damage is greater still.
It’s why so many women feel like scrap metal. Rusted out, left in the rain, worthless, scrap metal. We may not know exactly what to call it, but we know the feeling all too well.
We can feel deep anger when we hear of a little girl on the news having been raped by a man who is now out on bail. We feel rage when a friend tells us he, too, was molested by someone he trusted when he was young. But, we cannot feel that for ourselves.
Our own stories numb us out; they are too familiar, too close, too vivid.
We were bad little girls. We learned that early.
It’s what he said when he slithered into our pink flannel sheets in the dark. It’s what he said when he climbed off of us, and it’s what he said to keep us quiet the next day, the next month, the next decade.
Maybe he’s not saying it anymore. Maybe he’s even dead, but the damage is done. Our little girl minds and hearts are seared with the message: You are scrap metal. Your body and soul are to be used and discarded.
We have to believe we are scrap metal. Anything else is too much. Too much pain, too much reality, too much loss…
If we are scrap metal, nothing hurts us, nothing penetrates us, we are not vulnerable or woundable. We are nothing. We have no emotional responses to being treated less than human. Sadly, we also don’t learn how to protect ourselves. Scrap metal doesn’t need to. It doesn’t care either way.
We learned not to think of ourselves as precious. Or if we do, we have to look at the fact that we were betrayed in the most intimate of ways. We can’t see ourselves as worth protecting, or we have to look at the pain and loss of what was taken. So…scrap metal it is.
The residual damage can show up for years in many different ways:
It’s ok if he hits me, I caused it.
It’s ok if I get paid less, it just doesn’t matter.
It’s ok if I have to keep quiet, he didn’t mean to.
It’s ok he was with someone else, I know he loves me.
It’s ok if he doesn’t meet my needs, I don’t have any.
It’s ok if he doesn’t seem to care about me until he wants sex, he’s a guy.
It’s ok if he uses the bible to get his way, at least he’s not cheating.
It’s ok if he treats my kids harshly, they aren’t his anyway.
Often because of the early sexual abuse, we were taught we didn’t deserve to be protected, so we learned not to protect ourselves. We were taught it was our fault, so we learned not to tell the truth. We were taught we were sexy, so we learned to deny our sexuality or use it as leverage. We were taught our bodies were the problem, so made it the enemy. We were taught men are in control, so we stopped desiring to be cherished. We were taught pain is the price we must pay for being wanted, so we became invisible.
Here is what I want every woman who ever suffered at the hands of a man with a less than nurturing heart to know: It doesn’t have to be that way!
We are built to change, to grow, to heal, to thrive.
You are deserving of love. Nothing anyone ever did to your little girl self can take that away. That little girl in you who was used and neglected deserves freedom from her scrap metal identity. She was not at fault. She is not the problem. She was a little girl who should have been treasured at all cost. She did not cause it, and she could not have stopped it.
The metamorphosis from a heart of scrap metal to the heart of a women is a powerful journey.
The girl in the photo is me. I didn’t always get what I needed and often experienced what no little girl should. But I am learning to take care of my little girl self who believed very early she was nothing. When we begin to believe we are something other than scrap metal, that cold, rigid, indifferent, self-protective place in the middle of our chests starts beating anew.
Scrap metal be gone!