“Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master the trick, you’ll get along.”
~ Uncle Jack Finch, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My little girl had spoken through dreams, through illness, through a close-to-death experience, and eventually would use the threat of losing all my mobility, my dance, my job, and my identity.
You cannot silence the strong. And my little girl is powerful.
Now I know.
Now I know.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The fact is, I didn’t want to hear her – for a long time I couldn’t bear the thought that she even still existed.
“Talk to me about child Abeth.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Because I don’t like her. She’s not me. I hate her.”
Maria João gently probed, trying every now and again to coax her out, and yet there was a lot I simply had erased or just didn’t let myself recall, and other times I oh-so-slyly steered the conversation in another direction. I felt I had a chance at life if I left the past behind and didn’t remember.
After all, my leaving it behind had been much more than mental. I had settled into life half a world away. Serendipity had me choosing the European equivalent of California for my new home, in an ironic juxtaposition of the distance I had to run, and yet my need to connect to who I was in my essence. Go figure.
I did my best to pretend that the first part of my life need not have any bearing on the next, but if you don’t make peace with your past, it will constantly be there haunting you in every relationship and project you undertake. It’ll ooze out from between the seams and get messy. Quite messy, indeed.
Now I recognize that what was broken was my relationship to myself. Hindsight is so much clearer and elucidating.
At the time I was impatient with the idea of an inner child. I mean, come on. That child was long gone and I was someone else now, and I didn’t want to think about her because, well, the fact was that I just couldn’t stand her.
I would tell Maria João that I just needed to know what to do now, at this moment. What was the plan? How were we going to fix me? Talking about my childhood would be pointless. That was then, and this was now, and let’s just move on, ok?
And yet I dreamt about her sometimes. I dreamt about flying over a land where there was some kind of dangerous war being fought. Flying over in a helicopter with the doors open and holding on to this little girl so she wouldn’t fall out, feeling this tender need to protect her. I had these dreams with no inkling that the little girl was me.
The drive to survive and to thrive is not so easily snuffed out. Years of rejection, both by others and self, the latter being the greater evil, and yet that little girl, who always knew who she truly was, never gave up the fight. Despite the odds. Despite being ignored and shoved down into the depths of the most shadowy corners of the body. She remained, always so sure that she would win and regain the freedom and space to simply BE.
All this stirring up of some undercurrent inside me, began to erupt in little memories that said “Look at me. What do you see?”
I began to allow the memories to come.