*Photo taken from under a huge pine tree that hides me from unsuspecting passerbys...
Yesterday afternoon/evening I had a session with my therapist friend. In that session we were able to connect with the 16 yr. old part of me that has been feeling so lost and like she has no place of her own.
Currently having to live at the shelter and share a room with 2-3 roommates of who I don't know and constantly scared someone will take/touch my stuff does not make for a space that feels safe.
And it reminds that 16 year old part of me of how it used to be at that age. Yes, my parents owned the property but I had no space to call my own. No space where I was allowed to have my own little corner. I had to share a bedroom with a younger sibling(s). I didn't even have privacy in the bathroom which was my only escape besides the woods. Usually a book would be smuggled in and hidden in the dirty laundry basket. And there I would hide to escape reality till I got chased out or my dad came after me with heavy knocks on the door and anger dripping out of his voice. And I knew I was in danger of getting hurt.
Last night when I connected with that 16 year old part, I felt too much like her to give her any comfort or compassion. My therapist friend then connected with her and asked her where she's at. She felt like she was everywhere, like not in any specific place in my parent's house. She felt so lost, like she didn't have space of her own just for some privacy and personal space. She was told she deserved privacy. She deserved a place of her own. She deserved self agency. She deserver to be cared for. To be held. And comforted. And compassion.
As soon as I was told I deserved to be held I started to cry and couldn't stop for a while. I didn't realize just how much I wanted to just be held by a safe person.
Since a lot of IFS therapy takes place with the imagination, and I felt like I didn't have the ability to give the 16 year old part of me a hug, my therapist friend held her close. Told her she can cry. That tears are good. And it doesn't matter how wet her shoulder gets from my tears. That I am safe now. And I won't be allowed to fall. To let all the tears out. Let all the grief flow out because it was so wrong how she was treated by her parents.
(Also at a younger age I would have my things taken away and put out of reach as punishment, etc, teaching me that at any time my things could be taken away and I had no choice or say in the matter. Thus it compounds my current situation and what I've had to deal with in the last half year.)
I said it's so hard to accept the compassion. I just want to put up walls and say I'm fine. Because it's so hard to trust. And I dont expect it to last. That it will only be a matter of time before the compassion gets turned off.
I was reassured that I'm loved and accepted for who I am. As I am. That no strings are attached. It feels so foreign. So new. So strange. I'm asked to soak it up. To feel it in my body. Seeping into my bones and bone marrow. To receive it. It's not easy to do at all. Just hard to believe that there really are no strings attached...
I'm asked what the 16 year old part of me wants, just all for her own. If there is just one thing she really wants. A room of her own, she says. A space she can decorate like she wants. My adult self knows more than the 16 year old part of me does. My adult self says, I want to design a room for her all of her own. Like she never had. My therapist friend asked, do you know how much love you've just given her by saying that? No, I didn't know. But I already know some of the things she would have wanted in her room:some soft pink fancy, floor length curtains and a white four poster bed with soft lacy curtains and a very soft and fluffy bedspread decorated in very girly ways with lace and ribbon. And...I'm sure she will give me more ideas as she is able to of what she would like in her very own room...and in the future, when I have my very own place, I hope to give her the bedroom she would have loved to have at 16...
Then last night I had a nightmarish dream. I dreamed that I was in Jerusalem and Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. Well, Jerusalem happened to be the veal barn on my dad's property but in my dream I didn't know that. I knew it was going to be destroyed so I packed all my stuff into my car, planning to drive away but before I could I saw a soldier and ran behind the barn where there was a hole that I sat in and covered my head with a clump of grass just as a soldier came around the corner. He seemed to not see me even though my boots were still sticking out. He passed me and on the other side of the bush where I was hiding he shot at something and then disappeared. Then I knew it was too dangerous to stick around and I left all my stuff behind and fled with a few other people.
We got to the edge of the woods and there was a huge river and a shack of sorts a few yards away. I went in the shack and half the floor was a pit of water filled with empty Tupperware containers. When I tried to hide under the Tupperware containers in the water, it brought me out at the basement door right by the river. The water was so warm that it didn't even feel like I was in water. I never got further than that and had to keep hiding whenever soldiers came around, constantly expecting to hear Jerusalem explode as had been promised and then I woke up. But somehow it was a little different than other nightmares in that I wasn't freaking out. As I pondered it I realized that I think my 16 year old part was trying to tell me what life was like as a 16 year old.
You see, I don't often think about it but I know that in the present I subconsciously don't want to be seen and I want to hide/be hidden from the eyes of others. I dont always realize it but now and then it comes to the forefront, like this morning, and I realize why.
As a 16 year old I was supposed to help with chores which meant that dad called me around 6AM as he went out to start mixing the milk replacer for the calves and I was expected to be dressed and combed and out in the barn in 15 minutes to help feed the calves. At that point of my life I was so in shutdown mode that I had a very hard time waking up and often the only thing that got me out of bed was the terror of what would happen if dad finished his share and came to fetch me. Which happened almost every morning.
Most of the time I saw dad coming for me and I'd slip into the barn in different ways just to stay out of reach, hiding behind doors and having my secret routes of evading my dad. I think the only way I survived was because I made a game out of outwitting my dad. I read mystery books and got tips from them. Which helped me to live outside of reality in a way but then the times I did get caught where so terrifying that I nearly lost my mind in panic.
So now this dream early this morning helped me realize why I can identify with people in war zones and upheaval fleeing for their life. Because there are similarities between pieces of my life and their stories.
It's horrible the things I had to live through. And what so many other people had to live through. It's not the first time I've felt like my life was similar to a war zone. Somewhere in one of my blog posts I wrote about an aspect of my life that was like a communist camp in a way.
I think that the 16 year old part of me felt safe enough, after being held last night and allowed to cry, to share with me the reality of what her life was like at 16. Often times she would sneak in the back door to avoid dad. The soldier in the dream was my dad and the gunshot and "impending doom on Jerusalem" was all the threats of what would happen if I didn't meet the requirements or move fast enough. Having to leave all my stuff behind was the same as having no space to call my own and never knowing when my things would get taken away or broken. The Tupperware pit reminds me of my mother's kitchen drawer that was filled with empty Tupperware, minus the water, and even though I didn't fit into it, it was almost lined up with the basement door below, of which was sometimes an escape route as well.
That 16 year old part of me lived in a hell of a life. She didn't know how to escape. She just tried to survive. There was no care and compassion. Just demands and threats and punishment for not doing things good enough or fast enough. She had no purpose in life. No dreams. Nothing to call her own. She begged for help from the only Person she felt could help her to no avail. It felt like He just turned his back on her and left her to suffer and, apparently die, because that's what she really feared would happen, if her dad lost control of his temper as she saw him do so many times with the animals...
That poor girl, nearly terrified out of her mind and feeling so lost, will need a lot of time to heal. The process is started but it will be slow and bumpy. She needs a lot of care and compassion even though it may take awhile for her to even start receiving it because it's so foreign to her.
I'm so sorry for everything she had to go through. She didn't deserve any of it.
She deserves to have her own room.
She deserves to feel safe.
She deserves to be free.
She deserves to be cared for.
She deserves compassion.
She deserves love.
She deserves rest.
She deserves to be held.
She deserves to be comforted.
She deserves to be accepted just as she is.
She deserves to have hope.
She deserves to have a future.
She deserves to be respected.
She deserves to be honored as an individual.
She deserves to have self agency.
She deserves to have her own things.
She deserves so much that she never got.
And so so much more...
And I, the adult, the core self of me...wants to give her all those things that she deserved as a 16 year old, and still deserves today. All my parts deserve all these things. And to the best of my ability, I now want to fill the void of what never was and yet was/is so necessary for one to thrive.
We all deserve these things. And with those things comes healing. Deep healing. And I desire for all to experience such deep healing so that you too can thrive...thrive as you were meant to...made to...thrive...