She’s still in there – the child. The one who believed – really believed – that magic could happen and that she could pray for miracles and they would happen. The one who knew that the catechism she learned at school was just words and rules made up by people with no connection to anything real. The one who experienced the world as energy, who knew that if she just centered down enough and filtered out all the human-made stuff, that she could reach the place where she could tune in to anything, animals, plants, trees, and they would respond with love….
The one who shuddered away from the loud voice, the cold shoulder, the belt. Who grew an impermeable shell to bounce off outer voices of judgment, scorn, taunting, dogma, disbelief as I grew up….and was buried as I created my adult life, 180 degrees removed from my parents’ paradigm. Who cowers in terror at the headlines I read, who erupts like a venting pressure-cooker in mingled primal grief/terror/rage in the privacy of my home.
She’s still in there. All the buried memories of magic, faith, and terror, being suddenly unlocked 50 years later through snapshot jottings in my mother’s tiny one-year diary. A soul-retrieval allowing me to reconnect to the core of my self, the bone-level experiences, the magic…to confront the child’s terror, defuse her rage.
What can I offer as tools and practices out of this experience? Memories of process weekends, seeing women first confronting in anger and fear, then learning to nurture their inner child. Jungian assurances that the answers do lie within, that the buried self is not a demon but a soul-fragment steeped in pain, that the answer is not asceticism or self-judgment or harsh discipline but love. Tonglen mirror meditations, sending healing energy to the child-self, cradling her with self-parenting arms. Self-Reiki on sleepless nights. Spending time with paints and music and dance, all the things once loved and later distanced. Hugging trees, drawing deep upon their energy, listening to their anchored wisdom. Lying face-down in the yard watching a bug make its way through the grass. Walking by the river, reassuring and coaxing the child, moving at her pace, as she/I dare to balance on unsteady rocks and scoot her/my fanny along a tree crossing the water. Step by step, reclaiming her joy and connection, healing her fears, giving her space to grow. Recalling and echoing my mother’s assurances that she is good, that she is loved. Forgiving her rage, asking her forgiveness for my fear and repression. Promising her that I will protect her, respect her, value her wisdom, find safe channels for her pain and rage at the wounding of the world.
She’s still in there. And without her, Survivors’ Haven would not have happened.