[Many of you have been following my struggle with depression humorously referred to as Winston. If you’re interested in reading those posts, they start here. In addition to medication, resolving the depression requires overhaul and reintegration of pieces of one’s self. It’s a very serious and trying business. I wrote the following many months ago but never published it.]
Tonight I sat in therapy feeling misery and sadness, and things came back to you again. She told me to picture my earliest sadness, and again you appeared in the old living room, ready to go, dressed in a bright blue jumper, white peter pan blouse, white tights, wine Buster Brown shoes. Nobody’s around. It’s just you standing there, small, lost, inconsequential. You’re looking down a long empty hallway. I can’t remember why.
I’ve seen you before many times over the years. They told me to talk to you; I talked to you. They said to hug you and tell you everything would be alright. I hugged you and said everything would be alright. But you always looked the same, so I had to do it again. Each time, you always looked the same. Damnable inarticulate child, you wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, where it hurt, so we could put a bandage there and I could finally get on with my life. So I had to keep reassuring you. But when you would look up with those sad eyes, I knew you didn’t believe me.
Tonight she said to send you colors of emotions to see how you would react. I imagined. You stood there holding big balls of orange and green light in each small hand, looking even more sad and lost. You were me, but separate from me, something outside of myself that I left in the past. I needed to move on the best way I could, so I left you behind.
I told her I wanted to reclaim the creative parts of myself I’d lost, find my true self in the pieces that broke off. I imagined going back and collecting the bits of myself like seashells and dropping them into a bucket. Then we would put the pieces together in some meaningful way and I would Find Myself. But I could never collect you because you weren’t small enough. Then I would be angry and frustrated that such a small child could be so larger than life, an immovable object. Then I would cry for myself, always my adult self.
Tonight I looked at you and realized I’d treated you the same way others had. I said what they told me to say and hugged like they told me do, all the while hoping for some change for me in the present because I couldn’t connect with you in the past. You were a stranger who resembled pictures of my younger self, a small, lost, inconsequential child. I couldn’t remember and didn’t care what you thought and felt; I just wanted you to respond to my hollow words and distant hugs. No wonder you didn’t believe me.
But you kept standing there, quietly waiting, hoping I would notice you, just you did with everybody else. Tonight, as you held those spheres of color, looking so sad and lost, I cried, but not for myself as I’ve always done. I finally cried for you. I felt so sorry for you. For the first time, my adult self in the present felt a connection to you in the past. You weren’t a strange child; you were my child.
So when she said to conjure up a life where you wouldn’t feel so sad and lonely, I imagined a place where you could play with other children and took you to the playground myself. I coaxed you to the monkey bars and watched you mingle tentatively. I heard children’s laughter. I’m not sure if it was yours yet. Among all the pants and tops, you looked out of place in the blue jumper and white tights that you refused to change. But it’s early yet. Small steps. I took a mental picture and framed it, to remind us things will be different.
I’m so sorry little Judi. Things will be better. I see you now.