Going through life backwards – part 2
This is the second part of a powerful letter written by Bibi, a survivor. You can read the first part here
We come into this world helpless and we survive despite the efforts (or lack thereof) of Grown Ups. We learn very early on that no one knows what they are doing. That we are alone in the world. We learn that people hurt each other and that there are a hundred different ways that we are unacceptable or unlovable, which means life or death for small squidgy humans. Our brains react quickly to this threat to survival by trying to be acceptable to everyone. We are constantly alert and focused on possible situations where we will come up short, or worse, attacked or hurt. We come face to face with our limitations before we get a chance to explore what we can do. Everyone around us needs something. We are always at someone’s beck and call. The Grown Ups are abusers, neglecters or just not able to care for us. Sometimes they are all of these things. We are stressed and we are overwhelmed but there is no one to turn to. We are knackered. But we don’t know it, because there hasn’t really been anything else to compare it to. We have lost our identities and our Selves, before we even formed them. Our bodies experience pain from a young age, on a regular basis. We might have relationships or children eventually, but there’s a part of us that’s always alone. Alone like being 4 years old, standing on a rock in an asteroid belt in a galaxy far from the earth.
If we are lucky, we find support, or resources and we break free, slowly, extremely painfully and with many false starts. Many will not and this is a much under-estimated tragedy.
We replay in our minds and re-enact in our lives the traumas and stresses of our childhood. We find ourselves dragged back into the same situations we want so much to leave behind. Until we collapse like a star into a black hole. Maybe more than once. But each time we come back a little brighter, a little more resilient and a little more “us”. Our tendency to shine is as strong as our tendency to collapse – but we don’t know it. When we find ourselves around the right people, it starts to become clear that because we fall apart into so many pieces, there are more opportunities to shape ourselves in different ways, so long as we have the right support.
It’s scary. We are like children, new born and vulnerable. Everything seems new, and at the same time has strange, sharp strings that attach to our past lives. We are finding out who we are and pushing our boundaries and those of others. Sometimes too far, sometimes too little. We learn that we have this helpless squidgy thing inside of us that needs our protection and care and we are scared. We have not seen what care looks so we try many ways to rid ourselves of our vulnerable parts, or lock it away but it will not go and at some point we realise it is us.
We have to be our own Grown Up. It’s not fair, having to bring yourself up and it’s extremely hard work – but we are wiser than most, because we are at once, both older and younger than our physical years. We are still so much the child we were but we are also adult enough to use our intellect and knowledge. And it is never too late. Our brains are like putty. Really dried up, rigid putty, that you can slowly carve new grooves in by just going along the same track, over and over.
With our adult outsides we can go places and have experiences that real children could not. The earth and all its life-forms have treasures that can stir our latent creativity and playfulness which may have been frozen years ago. We can learn and discover and we can slowly find our place, where we can thrive. We can choose how to grow up, stop doing things out of habit, or because it’s expected. We can get to know our inner squidgy helpless thing better and better and choose to give it everything it needs. We build our Selves. And though we may face more sadness and difficulties, and our bodies may give up, we do not regret.
Because whatever we do, we have given it all we have got. We have faced demons that many could not imagine and we have fought battles many would never understand. We have created ourselves from a thousand shattered fragments and we have seen the other side of a black hole. We are survivors.