The girl I once was is coming back to me and she’s not who I expected her to be.
Prior to this year most of my childhood memories were sweet and carefree. My sisters and I love to linger around the dinner table recounting the mischief we got into and the fun we had. We laugh with new friends over old family stories and our parents smile a benediction over us. Despite the fact that we didn’t always have much, we had vivid imaginations and we used them well.
I used my imagination to distance myself from trauma. I know now that this is called dissociation. I was often in a dream world and felt like I was floating outside of my body without any ability to bring myself back to earth. Teachers called me a daydreamer. They said I never stayed focused. In the fourth grade I was diagnosed with attention-deficit-disorder. But the medicine didn’t work, because the deficit wasn’t in my attention; it was in my emotions.
I am well practiced at numbing myself, like making an arm or leg fall asleep. When it tries to come back to life it’s all kinds of prickly painful, so I adjust the tourniquet and deaden it again. But the girl I once was is insisting that I wake up. She won’t take no for an answer; she is coming back to me, unbidden. She’s making her voice heard in spite of my attempts to keep her quiet. She visits me in my dreams. I feel her presence when I wake, re-living her experiences in flashes. For the first time, I am feeling what she never allowed herself to feel.
The little girl I once was came to me in a dream last night. She’d escaped from her family, away from everything and everyone that hurt her, and she was looking for love. She was orphaned and came to me for help. But rather than embrace her, I have turned on her. I have thought her a liar, refused to listen and ignored her pain because it is inconvenient to me.
She wears a mask of well practiced sweetness and perfection that does not betray her wounds. I want to love her, it’s not hard to love her. But a child who runs away so young must have baggage, and I know it will take time to reveal and process all the pain. She will not trust easily. But she is mine. She is me. I can’t help it, I want her.
If she is going to be healed I must create a safe place for her to speak. She needs to know that her story is heard and believed. She must be assured that she can speak at any time without restriction. She has to believe that she will not be rejected for the truths that she tells. She must feel that she belongs.
So I hold my arms out to her. When no one else will listen to her, I will make space for her words. When she feels no one will believe her, I will accept her truths. When she is drowning in turmoil, I will pray peace over her. I will cry with her, grieve with her, embrace her.
The girl I once was is coming back to me now. It’s time I paid attention.
I am coming late to this link up with Story Sessions. I am inspired by these brave souls and honored to be counted among them. Read their stories, won’t you? And share your own? You deserve to be heard.