My Secret Side

There’s a side to me that I was once very ashamed of.  Perhaps you cannot define it as a “side”, or a “personality”.  For me, it was the simple inability to let something go that dated way back, to my early childhood.

I still have bed time teddy bears.

There it is.  The cat’s out of the bag, for the whole world to see.  Actually, I’m not embarrassed at all anymore.  My friends and my husband helped me to make the most of it as a habit.  My kids have a great time with it.

Unicorn Stuffy 6He found the dog food bowls and was disappointed to learn they weren’t for him…

I have two bed time teddy bears.  Kitty (not seen in photos) from when I was four years old (I don’t take Kitty on long road trips out of the hyper paranoia of losing her or leaving her behind somewhere.) and my little unicorn, who I’ve never actually given a name to, now that I think of it.

They are tucked neatly under our covers every day while we are all away from home, and at night when we lay down to sleep, they are both snuggled in my arms before my husband puts his arms around me.  It’s one of the calmest, happiest feelings to sink into before I fall asleep.

DSC_0420Coming along on the hike in the canyon!

They are not my only teddy bears.  Our bedroom is nearly covered.  I have one large shelf that is dedicated entirely to my stuffy collection.

I tried not to let it show how much I adored (and still often played with, finding just as much amusement now as I did when I was a child) my stuffed animals.  I thought it had to mean there was something wrong with me.

Until one day I brought it up to my psychiatrist.  She burst out laughing, and I hung my head in shame almost immediately.

Unicorn Stuffy 1Can we have a bath now?

“No,” she said, “Don’t you dare be ashamed!  Don’t hide your joy from it, either!  Embrace that!  Let others in to see it – it’s beautiful, and it’s something to value.  It’s something that you know makes you happy.  Don’t hide it.  I laugh because I truly enjoy that – I am happy for you!  I still get joy from setting miniature furniture up in my old doll houses.  I’m not afraid to show it – I never will be!  My childhood is precious to me.  As yours should be to you.”

That conversation was already seven years ago now.  My friends, my family, my husband, everyone knows now.  No one has ever cast judgment on me for it.

Nowadays, we take my little unicorn everywhere.DSC_0811

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dear Neighbor

I was in a session with the psychiatrist one evening, and we were talking about my sadness, when I brought up the year of my undoing.  She’d heard the story once already, since it was told to her right when I’d first begun to see her as it is such a large part of my life’s story.

She asked me why it was on my mind.  I told her I was unsure.  I began to speak of the memories.  The good ones.  And then the bad ones.  The lack of support and love from my own family, who’d only taken part in the abuse of me during that tragedy.  The loss of ever seeing you again.  I felt like I was throwing the “slight possibility” of an opportunity to have a relationship with you, out the window when I ran away.  It’s ironic how much I cared for you when I never so much as held your hand as a lover or girlfriend.  It was a heated teenage infatuation at its best, and I was swept up by your charm and supposed kindness.  At this point in time, it had already been four years since I’d so much as spoken to you.

The conversation began to fracture, breaking into all the millions of little fragments that composed my mind, and soon I was revealing the entire heap of disappointments.  In myself, and my life, and all the ridiculous choices I’d made and kept making.

That day, my session lasted twice as long as it had ever before, and my psychiatrist brought out the true issue behind my unstable mental foundation.  I felt unlovable.  From even before the day I met you.

It is late January now, and I work the best job I’ve ever worked before, and I wake up every single day with optimism and readiness to face the world.  I can’t count my blessings because there are so many.  I as a human being, have finally learnt a compassion for myself, and a love for myself, that no one else, not even my own husband, was able to give me.

I am proud of the woman I’ve become.  I am forgiving of myself for choices that I made in the past, even if others are not.  And I am vindicated.  Free of the chains that bound me to a ball of self-hatred and misery.pic-1

I’ve learnt patience.  I’ve learnt kindness.  I’m proud to say I’ve learnt faithfulness and devotion.  I am a strong, healthy woman, and I am so grateful for the life I live now.

And what brings me back to that fateful time eight long years ago, is learning not to regret.  But accept it as part of who I am and part of my betterment as I undoubtedly learnt from such a dark experience.

I spoke to my good friend the other day about the past.  He told me he felt stuck in it.  He said he was afraid he would be stuck in his past forever, unable to let go and move forward with his life.  He knew all the details of my past – he was there to witness much of it.  He asked how I was doing these days and how I was about moving on myself.

I thought you might like to know what I said to him.

I said, “I’m learning more every day.  I used to have it stuck in my head that one day I had to come face to face with (you) and be able to face my past without fears or regret, and prove something to (you).  What I was supposed to prove, I am not sure.  But I’m not fighting my past anymore.  I don’t need validation from (you) to feel good about who am and where my life is at, and I’m finally figuring that out.  It took a really long time, but I’m letting go a little more every day.”

This is one of many writings – created in direct correlation with you.  If I had to guess how many times I’ve begun to write, or even finished writing, letters or messages to you, I would not hesitate to say over a hundred, at least.  I’ve even written out make-believe scenes with you and I “running into each other” by slim coincidence, and reconciling our past.  Finally hearing you apologize.  Finally hearing whatever magic words that I thought you were supposed to say for me to say, “Ok, I’m glad we got that sorted out.  Now I can move on with my life.”

But I don’t need that any more.  I never needed it from the beginning.  I was holding myself back.

And now?  I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.  I can probably even say that everything I took from my past with you in my life, has helped to make me as strong and as grateful for my blessings as I am today.  I am wise, and empathetic.  I am able to step back from a conflict and consider the other person’s point of view, most times reconciling myself with their actions before even needing to “hear an apology” from them.  I am loving, and thankful, and as a result I treat my partner and my children well, and I make them feel wanted and needed, and get exactly that much in return.  I never knew a sense of belonging like what I know now.

At this time, on this day, I can finally tell you, with or without acknowledgement, that I’m letting go.  I survived.  And for everything I went through with and because of you, and every other person who’s come and gone in my life, I’m grateful.  Because maybe I would not be where I am now if things had gone differently.  And I wouldn’t want that.

I love my life and I especially love who I am.  I’ve never been happier with myself as a person.  And this emotion.  This knowledge, that I am capable of setting myself free.

I don’t need you to set me free.  I don’t need anyone else to but myself.

Thank-you for being a part of my life.  Your impact helped me gain independence, strength, and wisdom from experience.  I don’t regret it anymore.  I have accepted it, and forgiven myself for my choices, and I’ve forgiven all those who’ve hurt me.  I’m on a great path, and this is where I’m dropping my chains.  I’m moving on.  And I just wanted to say, Good Bye, neighbor.  Perhaps we’ll meet again on the other side.  And if not, I’m okay with that too.

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