Something has been eating away at me for over 5 years. And I need to come clean.
Some of you reading this will know what I am talking about, and if you do I hope you forgive me. Some of you won't, and for you, please take this as a lesson.
At the end of high school, and into my working days I spent a large majority of my free time watching a little girl who meant so much to me. She was the daughter of someone I had always felt was family. Therefore, this little girl felt like family to me as well. My heart ached for her, things were rough, her parents were young and life didn't pan out the way most young parents dream of. So this little girls mother became a single mom doing the best she could with what she had. And this little girls father did the best he could with how everything turned out. But this little girl was left with a family that didn't turn out picture perfect.
So when I had her in my care I did my best to give her the most stable loving environment I could. Because this tiny child was so beautiful and precious. She deserved any stability she could get. And I made it my mission, at the young age of 19 to be as motherly as I could to her any time I had her.
I watched this little girl on more than a part time babysitting basis. She would spend the night occasionally, or we would go on day trips just enjoying the wonderful outdoors, and being surrounded by people who made her laugh and smile. Again, she deserved it. She was hurting and I could tell.
All the while I had this child in my care, for years it seemed I noticed behaviors in her that made me nervous. Things that seemed off, gestures and comments she made that were far too adult for her tiny mind to conjure on it's own. They scared me, they made me worry for her safety. They made me worry someone, somewhere was hurting her. Every day I spent time trying to teach her the right way to touch other people, the right way to show love to other people, and her reactions were always very off. I spent so much time playing a guessing game in my head, wondering who in her life could be teaching her such things. The entire time keeping my mouth shut out of fear.
Fear I would wrongly accuse someone of doing something so vile it hurt me to even think of. I spent my time fearing every consequence of the action I would accuse someone of, that I kept quiet. For years.
It got to a point where it worried and hurt me so badly that I had to stop watching this little girl. I completely cut ties with her. I abandoned her. I never called, made plans, asked how she was doing.... I abandoned the entire situation out of fear.
And then one day I found out, something was happening to her. And it was happening to her by someone I had automatically suspected. Someone I had known. I felt sick to my stomach, I felt anger and rage. And I felt shame. I never went to her mother, I never went to anyone and all along I had suspected the right person.
Justice has been served and no longer will this man be free to hurt a child again, but I am still struggling with the way I broke ties and left a little girl who had almost no stability in her life at the time.
I hold my children closer because of the lesson I learned at another families expense. But I hold pain and regret even closer. I have never been able to move past the way I handled that situation and I have never let the thought of that little girl go.
I will never in my life forget that beautiful soul. And where ever she is, where ever her mother is, I have one thing to say- I am so sorry for never speaking up. I am so sorry for failing you. I am so sorry for leaving you. I am so sorry for never saying goodbye or explaining why I just couldn't watch you anymore. We were buddies, a little team. And I miss you. You will always be in my heart, and I hope your life has settled and you are living in the most loving of homes with the most loving of people.
And if you ever read this.