There’s a little girl inside me; she’s petrified and desperate to be comforted.
It’s become clear to me that the dragon has to fiercely protect this little girl.
So I’ve been trying to be better, making sure I’m responding to my own needs so that little girl feels safe. Being compassionate, patient, and comforting. Making the commitment to her over and over, and keeping my promise by protecting her from bullies (most of whom live within my head). It hasn’t been easy, I’m far from a consistent guardian yet. I often get caught up in old habits, going along with the bully as she beats on the little girl. Or I end up fusing with the little girl’s fears to a point where I find myself joining the petrified child under the covers where we try to hide from monsters. I forget that I’m a dragon. I forget that I should be protecting her. I forget that I even can.
I’ve said before how committed I am to be the dragon, but what I’ve come to realize lately is that in order to be the dragon, I have to pay attention to the little girl. She needs to feel safe. This has to be my first priority.
The problem is that she doesn’t believe the dragon has her, and she is convinced she needs other people to take care of her. I don’t blame her of course, I don’t have a good track record of taking care of her. In fact, it’s a pretty shitty record. It’s no wonder she feels so strongly that she needs someone to nurture her, someone outside to protect her. It makes perfect sense to me, so I understand how I got here, and why she’s putting up such a fight to convince me that we’re not strong enough to cope. It’s hard not to believe her. It’s hard not to crawl back under the covers and wait for someone to come turn on the light and settle my fears. But I know that game, I’ve played that game my whole life, and it’s never gotten me out of the bed.
I know I have to be the dragon even when the little girl doesn’t think I can. I understand now that a big part of making her feel safe is going to be building trust. It sounds funny to have to build trust with yourself, but there’s certainly no one in this world whose trust I’ve damaged more than my own, so it actually makes a lot of sense.
I’ve started by acknowledging when the little girl gets overwhelmed; placing my hand on my chest and saying “I’ve got you”. Though, like any trust
building rebuilding, you can’t just say things and expect the other person to believe it. You have to do things that prove you mean what you say. This is where being mindful of how I respond to her fears come into play. Responding to myself with compassion and giving myself whatever I need to feel safe.
I’ve also started a notebook of “Dragon Tales” where I write down everything I’ve managed to do on my own – all the times I’ve been my own hero. I’m hoping this will act as concrete evidence that “I, do in fact, got this” when I doubt my own resilience.
One thing I have been trying to work out is how “I got my own back” fits with our very real need of healthy tribe. When I think about the importance of tribe it’s difficult for me to grasp why it’s so important that I learn to stand alone. I don’t quite have it all figured out, but what I keep coming back to is love versus fear. Am I living out of love, or living out of fear?
Am I in this relationship out of fear of being alone, fear that I can’t survive without you? To me this place of fear rings true when I feel like I need others, as if our connection is serving a purpose of survival. Having you in my life because my safety depends on it. This isn’t where I want to be.
I want to connect out of love. I want to connect with others based on want. I want to want you in my life, not because I feel I need you.
It seems to me that if I felt stable enough on my own two feet, if I was able to ensure my own safety, that it would open up much more room for me to live out of love. To connect with others out of love. Connecting even more genuinely because there wouldn’t be this angst underlining (or upholding) our bond; it would be purely from a place of genuine desire to connect with one another. And isn’t that kind of connection actually what we mean when we talk about needing tribe?
It’s time to stop living out of fear. It’s time to prove to the little girl that she doesn’t have to be afraid anymore. That she doesn’t have to depend on others to turn on the light. It’s time I tear off the covers and meet those monsters head on, showing that little girl the dragon can kick some serious ass, even in the dark.