I spoke with a life coach in L.A. yesterday on the phone for an hour.
My daughter recommended I do this for myself right now before I begin my biggest year yet, 2020.
So I spoke with her.
She was very straightforward and quickly the conversation narrowed.
She was asking other questions about other time periods that may have been significant, but it was very obvious to us both that my ten year old self harbors the most pain and fear.
Isn't that strange, that the girl I always focus on is the girl in the cabin at seventeen, but I never think of the ten year old girl.
God had forsaken her, as she sat in her closet, with the cat on her lap that she had found and "saved" but maybe just captured, that her parents didn't know about, that had a cardboard box with kitty litter in it but the box had long soaked through and she didn't know how to get any more and it smelled and the cat didn't have enough to eat and she didn't know what to do.
The cat eventually scratched her badly and got away and thankfully no one was home that day so ten year old me ran downstairs and opened the front door and the poor distressed and possibly worse off than ever cat ran out.
Ten year old me had been coaxed into some sexual encounters by her older brother, fondling not intercourse, that had left her feeling like she was tainted, like she was ruined, but she didn't blame it on him even though he was five years older and she was nine at the time.
Ten year old me had seen her brother knocked to the floor and kicked in the stomach by their father.
Ten year old me was told constantly by her mother that she didn't dress well, didn't act right, but there were no clothes left in the closet that fit.
The mother said there wasn't any money for clothes any more so I should be grateful for what I had.
I came out in the pale blue angora sweater dress she had bought me two Christmases ago, she had bought it too big then so it would fit for a few years but there's a big difference between eight year old me and ten year old me.
I wasn't overweight, I was just taller and bigger.
The mother screamed at ten year old me that the dress was too tight now and that I looked bad but there was nothing else in the closet that was better and the mother didn't want to believe that.
The parents screamed and yelled and threatened.
Ten year old me pushed my big chest of drawers up against my bedroom door and stayed in my room.
But my room had the old kitty litter.
My room had a crawl space that only I went into that I had made into a secret writer's den.
But silver fish, little shimmering insects, had taken over the paper spread out on little milk crates as a desk, so I was afraid to go in there, afraid to clean it out, more afraid to tell my mother.
My Dad wasn't even an option.
He wouldn't have cared, he would have put it on my mother to do something, because he was frantically going broke in the stock market.
Ten year old me was not safe anywhere.
Ten year old me loved school and loved teachers, but I had begun to tell lies.
I lied about why I couldn't bring in a check to pay for anything.
Kids were always having to bring in checks to pay for books or field trips.
I used to always have the right check for everything, including my flute lessons.
But then I started having to lie.
And the bill collectors called the phone in the kitchen all the time.
My Dad started telling me to lie and tell them that my father wasn't there and that we didn't know where he was.
He'd be sitting right there at the kitchen table.
After a while no one would answer the phone at our house, and I knew that people were calling, like my flute teacher, to speak with my parents, but there was nothing I could do.
I would just shrug and say that I didn't know why every time she called there was no answer, even though my mother didn't have a job outside the home.
I stopped going to flute lessons.
I'm sure we still owed her money.
I am so ashamed of who I've been.
I am so ashamed of how I've lived my life since then.
In my mind I became an outcast, everywhere I went, the rest of my life.
No one could be trusted.
No one could know.
Nothing could be done.
I was not safe.
I am not safe.
I'm not safe for others because I really can't be trusted.
I am a manipulative person who puts on a big show and takes whatever I can take but is never on the side of right.
I am a ten year old frightened girl in a fifty-nine year old body.
The life coach suggested I write about the ten year old girl.
She suggested I write her a letter and tell her she's safe now.
She suggested that, as if it would be possible to write that.
But my scamming days are over and the fact is she's not safe.
I can't lie any more.
She's not safe at all.
Her mother criticizes her constantly still.
The very kind man she is devoted to has very little more than just what he himself needs to get by...physically and emotionally.
Her ten year old girl finances are all in shambles, all used up.
Her attempt to drive around and play music at an absurd age of fifty-nine when any self respecting grown woman would never put herself in a position like that has left her tired and frightened.
I can't write that letter.
I can't reassure that ten year old girl.
She and I just keep going from one frying pan to another fire.
Over and over, always in peril.
I have grown weary.
It's hard to keep reliving this for her.
I can't do it any more.
She's not safe.
Sorry for grown up me who wants out.
I want out of this self perpetuating nightmare, this self flogging torture.
How do I give the ten year old me a sense of safety and calm, of confidence and pride, of self reliance and dignity?
How do I make her believe that we don't have to live this way any more?
How do I prove to her and to myself and to the world that I am worthy, I am honest, I am kind, I am reliable?
I know that I was given a promise as a child.
God and the stained glass Jesus at my big Lutheran Church were all mine because my family didn't like church.
I sang in the choir from age six and I sang for stained glass Jesus and he loved me, he was proud of me, he gave me the gift of his presence and undivided attention every time I sang.
He promised me I was a good person, worthy and deserving.
He knew I was special and I knew it too.
I'm going back to him and I'm going to ask him to help me remember the girl with the promise on her lips and the dream in her eyes, the girl I was supposed to be, before the ice froze over me.....that's a line from one of my earlier songs.
I thought it was about the frozen lake of 1978 when I was alone in the cabin on the Canadian border.
But, no, it's about sitting in the closet with the captured cat on my lap long before that, at age ten.
I have no way of knowing whether writing this all out on my website like this is right or wrong.
I only know that it feels good to give witness.
I am giving public witness to my ten year old girl pain.
It feels right.
I think today I will write her a letter, good or bad, and tell her the truth.
I love her and she and I have returned to the church, we've come in out of our self imposed exile and although we are undeserving and not good, we might just be okay anyway.
In the church and under the loving gaze of a Jesus who is not judging and who loved the lepers and the unclean and the criminals, maybe we are finally safe again.
I want to believe this.
I need to believe this now.
These dark days of Advent are perfect for soul searching, and I am certainly doing mine.
I wish you all the blessings of Heaven today and every day.
grown up Courtney