There is a pain in me I know all too well.
It is a pain that was inflicted when I was just an innocent child. Four years old, quite literally trapped inside my closet with a monster. What most children fear but never have to see eye-to-eye, stood before me, draining the naivety and giddiness of my nature.
He took so much from me. And I’m still trying to find myself, 22 years later. But how can you possibly define your being when your identify, your colorful, youthful world turned gray before you could even spell your own name?
I now have awareness that’s in touch with nature, a persistent sense of purpose that drives all I do. An intuitive knowing of who I am. So that, even when it’s ripped from me, even when it’s taken so selfishly by another, even when its very essence has been dulled by the perception of someone I saw as pure gold — I can still find her in my soul.
As you heal, you start to recognize the patterns in your life. The habits you repeat. The turmoil that makes you feel at home. I can’t stop seeing my demons as gods. I can’t stop looking for hurt in someone else’s eyes, so that I might heal theirs, neglecting my own as I learned to do to survive. Because admitting I was not okay meant I had a reason for it, but that reason was something I could never put into words. That reason was something I blamed myself for.
I am still blaming myself to this day, for the actions of others. For the traumas they’ve endured and the damage that persists. When rejecting your own needs comes naturally to you, stepping into your power feels like stepping into darkness.
I know this pain. I know it like the hours spent awake in my childhood bed, crying so hard I would throw up. I know it like the cold winter evenings spent in my old therapist’s office, being told it was on me to get better, doing everything I could…but never feeling safe. I know it like the nights spent wasted on the floor of my first apartment, letting go of the only person who was willing to stay.
And I knew it when I saw him — a familiarity I wanted to embrace. The idea I had to work for happiness, had to earn love by losing myself in it, only to eventually lose him, too. Because it would never be enough.
I’ve always felt I was never enough, and simultaneously too much.
They say to truly heal, you have to peel back the layers. I’ve never had a problem going deeper than surface level. But I was too busy tending to someone else’s wounds that I forgot how exposed I’d left my own, how raw they became throughout the days. And I’d apologize for how I was bleeding, later blame myself for his leaving.
I never see people for who they are, only who they tell me they’ll be, who I think they could become. I say my innocence was stolen, but I still trust like a child. I forgive, not forget, but let my hope run wild.
But in this new season, in this hibernation that awaits, with a tight chest, a heavy heart, a pale face, a sinking stomach that can barely gut food — I will heal from this, too.