I had an image of a little girl in my mind and I dreamed about her often. She was a little over two years old; she had a dirty face and it was tear streaked. She wore a little white sleeveless dress, a rather fancy dress which barely covered her bottom; the dress was old, now dirty and grimy, tattered and torn and her legs were filthy, scratched and bruised. Her little black patent leather shoes were scuffed and her ankle socks were dirty and droopy. Her dark curly hair was messy and matted and from her hand dangled a sad and ripped little teddy bear with the stuffing hanging out one side. She didn’t speak; I got the feeling that she couldn’t speak. She had no voice. She had a haunted kind of empty look in her dark eyes. I wondered why I had these recurring dreams about her and often saw flashes of her in my mind.
In the dreams I also saw her surroundings; she lived in a very dark and dirty attic. There was a broken window which let a small sliver of light in, but it was also cold. The floors were bare and littered with broken furniture and broken toys. There were no blankets, no creature comforts. It was dark, cold and barren.
There were other rooms in that attic, there was a room full of cribs, about 5 of them all in a row, but none of them had sheets or blankets on them. The place looked as though it had been suddenly vacated, and someone forgot to take the little girl with them. The whole vision screamed of abandonment. She haunted me.
When I was in my forties, I told my therapist about her and for the first time in my life I realized that she was actually me. She was me at that same age. What had happened to her I wondered and why the heck was she living all alone like that, dirty, cold, unloved, unfed, unprotected and abandoned. My life in actuality was nothing like that. I had food, shelter, clothing, warm blankets, good food, parents, friends and toys; But the little girl was my “self image.” She is how I felt about myself. She is how I saw myself and the questions I had about her became about me; “how did that happen, why have I come to see myself that way?”
In a way this was another beginning. I was able to realize that for me to have this kind of “self image” something really awful must have happened. I knew some of what “it” was, but a lot of what I knew about I thought was “normal” and much of it I had tried to put behind me. I tried to do positive thinking but it wasn’t working and I realized that I was blaming myself for my past and I mixed in feeling like a failure for not getting over it.
I started to go and visit the little girl that was me, in that cold dirty attic. At first she didn’t respond to me, she huddled in the corner, cowering from me, and I saw her as separate from myself~ just as I always had.
She didn’t trust me, just like I didn’t trust myself anymore either. I had neglected her in the same way as everyone else had. In some ways, I blamed her for what happened to me as though it didn’t happen to her ~ its logical that I would blame her/me, if you consider the other posts I have written about being convinced that I was the problem and the problem started when I was that age.
I had to stop blaming myself. I had to understand what happened to ME that caused me to see myself and my self image that way. I had to become very gentle with myself, find compassion for myself, and then find ways to accomplish emotional healing with myself. I did spend time talking to that little girl; the little girl that was me. My time with her was intentional. My time with her was about building trust and self love and although when I was “with her” I saw her as separate from me, it was never far from my mind that she was me.
She never did speak to me, but eventually she let me wash her face, brush her hair and get some warm clothes on. Eventually, she let me wrap her in a blanket and hold her on my lap. Eventually she let me comfort her while she cried. She let me care for her. One day she took my hand and we walked out the door; we took one last look around, then together we descended down the long staircase and we left that dark cold attic ~ we walked out into the bright sunshine and fresh air, no longer separate but as one.
Please share your thoughts if this post has impacted you in any way,
~ because there really is gold at the end of the rainbow