Chasing my dream of a simplified life has kept me busy radically reducing the amount of things in my home over the past couple weeks. Clothes, dishes, towels, books, even the ‘sentimental items’ are all being combed through with a fine-tooth comb. (And might I add that it feels incredibly liberating and has proven to be quite addictive..more on that later :)). During this process I stumbled over old notebooks and school things from middle school.
Thing is, reading these words and ideas from my younger self doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies of going down memory lane. Instead, I felt a painful jolt rush through me. Reading these all too familiar ideas spewing from the mouth of a girl not even yet out of grade 8 made me cringe. I knew high school was a shitstorm, but clearly the storm was brewing years before.
(Please bear with my childish rhyming 😛 )
Must be strong
Must put up
Must fall to my knees
Just to push people up
Must not show pain
If it will dampen their smile
Give them the umbrella if it rains
You’ll dry yourself off in a while
Completely his fault
But all blame placed on me
The hate and anger moving
Because if not, we couldn’t be
Heading his direction
But he’s too blind to see
Thought he’d know by now
How sensitive and selfless I can be
Probably doesn’t care
Just ignoring how I lie
Because he likes what he can hear
Pretending that I don’t cry
But I’m fine
I will deal
It’s only me
Doesn’t matter if I heal
Must be selfless
Must just put up
Even when you only see darkness
Don’t ever stop pushing them up
Poems about having to put others above herself and hide her emotions followed by lists of her friend’s favourite things and “Things to do 4 Pple”. I can read through these innocently written to-do lists now, I can see her desperately hustling for worthiness.
It made me sad and angry when I read these. It also felt insanely validating…as if I found physical evidence to back up what I’ve been learning about myself for the past couple years. It was like finding evidence that proved the existence of this obscure place.. here was the map written out on paper in front of my eyes.
Age 14 and they were clearly deep-seated beliefs by then. Don’t be selfish. I’m not worthy of love and belonging. I have to earn their approval with selflessness and by giving them everything I can. To be a good person I must put others above me. I don’t matter. It’s not okay to show your emotions. It’s not okay to even feel them.
Destruction (I honestly don’t understand this title.. makes me wonder if I actually meant distraction?)
Ignore the truth
Put it aside
Until you can’t deny
And when the tears appear
In your eyes, so sincere
Fight it with strength
Devour the fear
Don’t let it decide
You must keep the control
On your side
And when it sneaks up on you
Force yourself to lie
Make yourself believe it’s true
Don’t let yourself cry
There’s an eerie knowing when I read these. I can see the dragon in there somewhere. I may have been writing the rule I followed to be a good person and how I felt I needed to live.. But I can still hear the anger with how it is, the sadness that I’m not getting my needs met. I can hear the little girl desperately trying to cope with herself and living in a world where she wasn’t allowed to matter. I can tell the dragon wanted differently then. I can also hear that I didn’t know it was an option – without being a blasphemous ‘bad’ person, that is.
The dragon was there but it was demonized; it was that part of me that wanted to belong, wanted to be seen, wanted to matter. It went against everything I was trying to be. Yet, it existed no matter how hard the other parts of me wanted to shut it down. It’s the reason that I felt like such an inherently bad person; because no matter how much I told myself that that isn’t right, there it was.
Reading these beliefs now, they don’t seem so foreign. I mean if we are talking lifetime, I’ve lived under the beliefs and self-talk that produced those poems and answers for the majority of my life. It’s only recently I’ve been identifying the error in those ways and I know these trickle in still at times. The difference is the dragon is much louder, stronger, and bigger now. It’s the part that cringes at these words, the one ready to breathe fire to destroy these not-so-treasures from my past.
Seeing this on paper gives me more freedom to accept the struggle I am in now. I’ve been putting a lot of work into doing better at not hiding my emotions. It feels like it should be easy, but it’s really fucking difficult, and it’s hard not to beat myself up for having such a hard time. Then I read these words, from over half my life ago and think.. No fucking wonder this is so hard. I’ve been training myself to do the opposite most of my life.. Listen to these words, no wonder you’re struggling. You were a harsh teacher and a straight A student.
The more I read these crystal clear messages and lean into the significance that these toxic words rest in a Winnie the Pooh notebook, the more compassion I can hold for my current struggle.
I’m sure someday the dragon will get to breathe fire all over these and watch them go up in smoke. For now I’m holding onto them. Having these old paper maps is useful for knowing where I came from and how I got here. It’s a true mark of why it’s vital that the dragon is allowed to be heard. I’m learning new lessons, writing new stories, drawing a new map. This time it’s leading to treasure.