Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week 23 of My Recovery Marathon

I haven't written lately because I have felt too unfinished.  Like 'Don't open my oven door while my soufflĂ© is rising' unfinished.  Today, though, I got the signal.  It's time to share.

Today I read an editorial in the New York Times by David Brooks, entitled "The Building Blocks of Learning".  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/opinion/the-building-blocks-of-learning.html?ref=opinion

In it:  "Education is one of those spheres where the heart is inseparable from the head.  If students are going to succeed, they probably need to come from a home where they feel safe and secure, so they aren't paralyzed by anxiety and fear....They probably need to have been bathed in love so they have some sense of identity, some confidence about their own worth and some sense of agency about their own future." 

Geesh.  Are there really that many battered kids in school?  That many not getting at least the minimum emotional support at home?

"I feel like I bear the hallmarks of a battered woman"  I told my counselor two weeks ago.  (You know, that loss of confidence, self-worth and power.)

"No" my counselor replied gently "[You bear the hallmarks of a woman] battered in utero." 

There have been a lot of breakthroughs these last three weeks.  Some so infantile (why do I call 'raw and vulnerable' infantile?)  that I've felt too ashamed to write that I actually need such remedial care.  I've done a lot of wailing, basically.  Good old fashioned grieving.   (I feel some need to reassure you all that I will eventually get to the doings of my life.  But I hope you are content hearing about the 'being' part of me for now.) 

Week 23.  That's me up there, my prickly porcupine defenses at last confined to my noggin.  I remember the day I started morphing into a porcupine.  I was 11, maybe 12.  My eldest sister, the sanest and nicest one, had already left for college several states away.  That left me alone with the b***h circus.  I must have gotten a doozy of a cutting remark that day.  In tears, I ran over to the elementary schoolyard, wishing with all my might that I could flee that two story yellow clapboard house.   Looking back at our house through the schoolyard's chainlink fence, I clenched my fist and resolved:

"I will not feel". 

My first porcupine quill sprouted that day.  It protected me so well I sprouted more, until my whole self was covered with them.  Most people recognized them and steered clear of me.  Only a few saw the sweet kid inside. 

Know any prickly teenagers?  Know any off-putting adults you have to walk on eggshells around?

Their tender self is in there somewhere. 

"Can I...can I... hold your hand?" I asked in her office yesterday.  My counselor drew close. 'Baby me'  reached for [Momma's] hand.  And cried.  I didn't know it at the time, but history got rewritten at that moment.  For 'Momma' was emotionally supportive.

I awoke before dawn this morning.  Aware of the simplest fact:  I am 'other'.  Separated.  No leaky boundaries.  I am intact.  'You' can't hurt me.  I am inviolate.  Equal.  Safe.  I feel calm (just the usual amount of vulnerability posting this).   I feel safe knowing that though 'you' may assault my body, or target me with words, you can NEVER EVER reach my separate, core, self.  THAT is held in the hands of God.

So, when someone judges me and assaults me?  I will take action.  'You' will hear me.  'You' will not find me laying down.  I may just walk out of your life.

Because I love me.

That's what's changed.

I love me.

I can now say "If you don't give me at least the respect I deserve, you can go where the sun don't shine."  (Hah! How's one of my porcupine prickles taste now?)

My dear readers, do you have any porcupine quills of your own you'd like to give someone a taste of?  Do share!