i feel it happen. i’m going along, engaging the world, answering messages, posting on facebook, laughing, joking, then nothing. i drop out. without explanation, i retreat. a subconscious turning within. where a part of me used to hide beneath the numbing of fear, now all of me remains feeling. like nerves exposed.
it happens in the midst of the life i’ve created, the chaos of not knowing, the shame of the past, riding the pendulum of grievance and miracle, that when i get still, she shows up.
there is a child in me, who from time to time, starts tugging at my shirt. it’s so slight that it could be mistaken for a breeze. hovering at my side, unnoticeable until i am carefree myself. catching my eye when i happen to look her way as i do the dishes. curling up dog-like next to me when i meditate, sitting at my feet when i am under trees. she waits until i’m available, alone and settled. more every day, it feels like there is no viable option but to give space, offer a tunnel to see her, march steel-eyed towards freedom.
i’ve not yet heard her voice. i haven’t seen her smile. she trusts me enough to challenge me with big eyes and closed mouth, small limbs i long to have folded up in my lap.
she has stories untold. i don’t remember who. i do remember what. i have hints of where. and i sense when: she’s younger than all my other memories. like a preschooler who wants to whisper to a teacher, she waits for a moment when the teacher is quiet and makes eye contact. like a preschooler who wants touch despite her fear, she waits for a moment when the teacher is sitting on the ground and she leans against the teacher’s back.
she wants to fall against the chest of herself, her limbs making their home in the squish of a soft belly. she wants to enter the trance of her heartbeat and then whisper one word clues. she wants humming and nodding as the clue is confidently added to the pile.
the more i take care of myself, the more she shows up. the more i laugh and love. the more i eat well and smile and notice nature. the more i am willing to risk losing everything to save myself. the more i live the cliches. like an adult honored with the trust of a child, i sit with her. i no longer need to know her story for the current me, the details are no longer essential for the 42 year old me. i do need to be available to hear every detail if she wants to tell, choosing to face the possibilities, being a detective if she has questions.
i think she wants freedom. she wants to be held and not keep track of the other person’s hands. she wants to talk and have the listener outlast her. she wants to dig in the dirt without looking behind her. she wants to trust the kindness of others and not fear their motivations. she wants to jump to the arms of love and enjoy the time in the air, not just the moment of being caught. she wants to open her mouth wide. breathe, eat and sing without regard.
i’m working to create life and space that she wants to show up in: laughter and touch and sky and hard work and forgiveness and trust and bread and cheese and honey and cleansing tears and warm smiles and comfort and kindness and music and paint and chalk and tidy corners and fire and moons and birds and twinkly lights and meditation and awe and the golden sun and play and stretching and a commitment to dismiss whatever insults my soul.
“this is what you shall do… dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ― walt whitman