Healing The Heart Of A Wounded Child
Dear Little G.,
I see you in your class at school. You’re near the corner, slightly away from the other kids. The loneliness on your face tells me how uncomfortable you are. You wish you could be at home with your mom and dad watching TV. I know you feel so different from other children. There just aren’t words for what it is yet.
Come sit by me. Tell me what makes you so sad. I know you don’t think you can trust anyone, but I promise you can trust me. We are one and the same, and that makes us closer to each other than anyone else in the world.
Do you feel anxious? I can tell because I’ve had enough anxiety to last me a lifetime. I worry over everything and nothing, and I bet you do, too. It’s just part of who we are and not anything bad we did. Our brain works differently, so we are on constant alert for trouble. That’s also what happens when a little girl is exposed to adult problems and dragged around the country so the adults could find out “who they were.” We’d move at least twice a year and they never seemed to figure it out, just a new city with the same problems.
I know your worries are different. It’s tough to have to start over repeatedly and make new friends only to wave goodbye in six months. It’s troubling not to feel grounded or like you have a real home. It just makes the anxiety worse. I know people tease you about your shaking all the time. I also know that you would stop if you could. It’s not your fault. It’s a trick of the brain some of us have because our chemicals are not quite right in order.
I understand how hard it was to leave your father and move to New York with your mother. Daddy is safety, and mommy is chaos. That’s not entirely her fault either, brain chemicals being what they are. I know about the Snickers bar that dad bought for you on the day you left him. You swore you would save it until you were with him again, not knowing it would be three years later. Still, you never took a single bite.
I know how scared you are of your mom. You think it’s a mean and “crazy” fear to have, but you have every right to your instincts. Your mother loves you, but she is her own worst enemy. Her brain chemicals were also mixed up because of something called bipolar disorder, an illness that she passed down to us. She grew up during a time where nobody ever talked about mental illness. Nobody understood her symptoms, and her parents put her in the hospital for a long time, but she never really got better. It makes me wonder what great things she might have done in the world if she was born just twenty or so years later and was treated properly for her condition.
I’m not saying this to excuse the things she’s done to you. Those things are real and scary, and you had every right to be freaked out. When you have a mental illness as we do, it’s important to remember that we are still responsible for our own actions. If responsibility means taking medication every day to treat your illness so you can be stable, then you’re ahead of the game. It’s wrong to be hurtful to others, but even more wrong for people to absolve themselves by blaming their illness.
No matter how weak and timid you think you are now, you will grow up with a tremendous amount of strength from what you’ve been through. You will figure out how to learn from your mistakes and make them better. You’re going to laugh hysterically and weep tragically and see things that will amaze you. People will touch your heart, and you will embrace theirs right back. The world has a way of working things out.
There, there… don’t cry, Little G. I’m here now to protect you. I love you with all my heart, which is yours, and you are never alone.
Love you always,