today, like so many days before it, i woke up feeling young.
i felt abandoned and wrong in my body and needy and alone. i was sad and hopeless and hurt and i just wanted to stay curled up and small in my bed, with my worn soft plush pup under my cheek.
being young rarely feels joyous, or excited, or energetic to me. it feels scared and little, diminutive, empty. not freeing. the opposite of, in fact.
i hated being young.
i also used to hate her, the young one inside of me, for being so difficult and disruptive and inconvenient. i used to treat her just like they did – dismissively, impatiently, angrily. i didn’t want to hear what she had to say. didn’t have time for her. wouldn’t make room because i didn’t want to feel the things she made me feel, or see the things she wanted to show me. i didn’t want to know. i didn’t want to know.
so, like any child, she upped the ante. got louder. more persistent. more creative, more stubborn. until i couldn’t ignore it anymore, until i got blown wide open, until our feelings got so huge they engulfed me and choked me and nearly put a stop to me entirely.
they say (‘they’ being all the experts out there on repressed childhood sexual abuse) that when our own children are the age we were when the abuse happened, something shifts, becomes undammed. as much as my original, unique little fucking snowflake-y self hates to admit it, i was a textbook case. i started remembering things when my daughter was three.
how does a toddler understand grown men touching her body and making her touch theirs? how does she process it? what does she tell herself? where does she put it?
(i’ll tell you where: down. way, way, way down, so deep it doesn’t get found for nearly four decades. that’s where.)
so yeah, feeling young feels bad. unsafe and unsettled. and the needing…oh god, it’s huge. i don’t know what it is, except it’s everything. desperate for being held and being hugged and being close but then not so close and then not hugged and not held. it’s angry and panicky and scared and sad and ashamed. it’s all and none of it, just spinning and spinning and spinning…
i hate feeling young now for different reasons than i used to. i don’t hate her anymore, for one. do you know, she is so smart, so industrious, so strong. she got us here, kept us safe. experienced it all firsthand, felt all of it, in her little beating heart and with her tiny hands and her open, trusting face. her serious brown eyes held back so many tears, her shoulders bore so much hurt. all those tummy aches, all those sick feelings, all the worries and guilt and humiliation. i am awestruck at her adaptations and her resolve to stay standing. she is amazing.
no, i hate feeling young because the grief of what she experienced, the ache of it, the hurt, seems an infinitesimal chasm in my gut. because i look at pictures of her and feel as though i might die of the sadness of it. for what she knew, for what what she carried alone. i look at her sweet little face and it is so so hard because now, i see her, i see all of it.
so, being young…is imbued with such soreness, such tenderness, such sadness. because all of the feelings she tucked away, way down deep, are bubbling up now, and she needs my help. needs my presence, my support, my guidance, to hold her, so that she’s not alone with it, like she was then.
and when i think i can’t do it anymore, when i feel desperate and spinning and alone and afraid, i remember that she already did. one little foot trudging ahead of the other, chin set, shoulders straight.
so yeah, i can do this. she did, and we will continue to.