CONTENT WARNING: VERY DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PHYSICAL CHILD ABUSE.
Your therapist wants you to write a letter to me, but I don’t need it. I have been sitting inside of you for years.
And anyway, you need a letter from ME.
So, you know the me who is writing, right? I’m from one of the first memories you listed as targets when you started EMDR: the memory of our mom dragging us out of that filthy, mosquito-larva-infested three-foot high swimming pool festering in the back yard, scraping our legs raw against the rough plastic side, throwing us down in the mud in front of our friends and beating our bare, wet legs and back viciously with a hairbrush — supposedly for something we’d said to Dad earlier.
It’s not necessarily the beating that horrified you so much — we were used to those. You were even used to the humiliation of it happening in front of friends.
It was what I did in response.
I know, because I was sitting in here when you said it in that therapist’s office: that you are horrified that I focused on a small point in the horizon, that I stood up, crossed my arms and planted my feet, and I hardened myself.
I hardened my skin. I hardened my muscles. I hardened my mind. I hardened my heart: a big, thick wall of gray stone.
And I know that wall is what you’re trying to dismantle now, because you need to expand, you need to be soft. You need room to grow. Having that wall around your body and your heart has hurt you — and others — and it’s now holding you back and you need to break free from it in order to heal and be a grownup and stuff.
But don’t you remember why we needed it?
Don’t you remember the triumph we felt as she gasped and sobbed and panted: “This isn’t hurting; this isn’t hurting why don’t you cry?” Remember when she swung and hit so hard that SHE slipped and fell in the mud while you stood strong as an oak, even when welts rose on our skin? Oh, come on. There was something satisfying about it.
I am sorry that I gave you so much work to do, later. I’m sorry you’re finding it so difficult, sometimes so hopeless.
But have you ever considered what would have happened had I not protected us that day?
We did not turn to stone — not all the way through to our center. I just protected that small, soft, bright center. Those thick walls protected that spark of ourselves against horrible storms and drought and blizzards, to keep that tiny flicker inside of us alive. Because much more and much worse was coming, and I could sense it. That heavy stone kept us grounded. Balanced. Steady, even when nothing around us was.
I saved us with that stone skin and stone muscles and stone rib cage. I saved us from doing more than just the small amount of self-harm we did — I saved us from moving into actual suicide attempts. I saved us from breakdown when things got really, really bad. I saved us from more damage that might have come from fighting back too soon, before we were ready. (Have you forgotten how strong she was, now that you are so large and strong yourself?)
Sitting in that safe place where you live now, I see why you can mourn the bright flame of our love and our creativity and our joy being hidden away so effectively. And I know this stone is really really heavy.
But you’re still around to do the work: to break it up and haul it away. And you’ve got me to thank for that.