Excuse me, Summer, but may I have a word with you?
I don’t know if you want to be friends with me again. But, do you?
Maybe if we’re friends, then we can talk and hang out again. Are you mad at me? Can I do something to make you my friend again? We used to be really good friends. I remember when we used to play marching band and orchestra leader in the den and living room during our summer vacations. I always loved that. We’d march around the house holding a cardboard box in one hand and a cardboard stick in the other. We’d bang away, while singing “It’s A Small World”.
Oh! Do you remember the time when you were eight, and you jumped out of the car and over a puddle of water? You cut your knee open on the doorframe. Mommy told you to jump over the puddle and you did, but then she asked why you jumped. She said she meant for you to just step over it. I’ve never understood that myself, though. I mean, she said to “jump”. I’ve tried looking that up in the dictionary and I still can’t find where it says that “jump” means to “step over”. I remember you wanted to cry that day though, but were so strong and didn’t. Just like when we were playing tent in your room with one of your nephews who we grew up with. We were pretending we were camping. You jumped off of your bed and hit your leg on the corner of the dresser. It bled a lot.
Do you remember? You didn’t cry, though. You rarely cried in front of people. Why not? You would just hold it in and smile or laugh, until you were alone and then you’d cry a river. Why did you do that? You still do that. I’ve seen you smile and laugh around family and friends, when you would do nothing but cry when you were alone. Why is that? You used to have hiding places where you’d cry. I remember our hiding places too: behind the couch in the den and behind the big chair in the living room. No one knew when we were there. We were all by ourselves and free to feel whatever we wanted. Now, you have new hiding places. You cry in your room, in the shower, at night while going to sleep, or in your car on the way to and from doctor appointments.
Actually, speaking of doctor appointments, I was wondering if we could talk about something? When are we going to see that lady again? We see her next week again, right? I think she’s called a therapist or something like that. I like her. I think because when you see her, you actually stop ignoring me. You actually let me sit by you and talk. You don’t hold back like you used to. You don’t hide behind her couch and cry, but rather you sit on it and cry. You talk and you let me talk too. And, you actually listen to me again. Like right now. You’re listening to me, and not ignoring me. Is it ‘cause you miss the lady right now, and you don’t want to be alone? You’re not alone, you know. I’m always here.
You just seem to forget that. When you’re sad, I’m sad. When you’re scared, I’m scared. When you want to be alone… well, that’s when I just shut up and not say anything, ‘cause I know you will get mad at me. I don’t want you to get mad at me. I don’t want you to hit me again. I don’t want you to bang my head on the wall, or pull my hair so that it hurts, or use a sharp object to scratch my arms up and down, or throw my stuff across the room. I don’t want you to burn me again. That really hurt. My hands were in so much pain. You never did say sorry to me about that. I thought that’s what we were taught to do. I see you’re crying now. Don’t cry. I don’t like it when you cry. Did I say something wrong? Did I hurt your feelings? I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. I won’t say that stuff anymore if it hurts you.
Maybe if you got some sleep it would help. We’ve both been awake all night, and that’s not good, remember? We have bipolar and it’s not good not to sleep. Maybe if we slept it would make us feel better.
Sorry, that made you mad didn’t it? I know you don’t want to sleep, but I just thought I’d say it. That lady you see every week says sleep helps and you don’t get mad at her. But, I’m sorry if I made you mad. I won’t do that again. I promise. Please don’t be angry.
What about dancing? Let’s talk about dancing. I know it’s not your favorite topic, though. You’re still afraid to dance in front of family and friends, aren’t you? They don’t know why, because you won’t tell them. I remember that night, though. We were only ten-years-old and a bunch of our cousins were dancing in that house’s living room. They were all having fun and you wanted to join in so badly, but you were always so scared and shy. But, you finally got up the nerve. You got up and started dancing in the best way that you knew how at the time. All of the aunts and uncles were cheering and laughing. You felt so proud. You felt like you could dance really well, and they were just happy for you. You finally had the courage to get up and dance like your cousins in front of the family. But, then it happened.
Mommy told us it was time to go home and so you went into that house’s den where all of the boy cousins were sitting. You went in to get your sweater and one of them said, “Hey, Summer! Why don’t you dance for us again?” They all started to laugh a little, and then another cousin said, “Yeah, if that’s what you can call it.” They all burst into loud laughter at that point. You were so embarrassed. You felt sick to your stomach. You didn’t cry though. You held it until you got into the car and then you let it out. But, only Mommy saw from where she was sitting. She’s the only one you ever felt comfortable with seeing you cry. I know that’s why you don’t like to dance to this day. But, you don’t tell your family and friends that. That’s why they don’t understand when you resist so much when they are physically pulling you to the dance floor. They don’t know. I know you’ve forgiven your cousins for saying what they did that night, and that you don’t hold any anger toward them for it, but you still fear dancing don’t you?
Do you remember your fear of “The Blob” from that old movie? Do you remember the nights when we were awake in the middle of the night and scared? “The Blob” was coming after us. I still don’t like that thing. Sometimes I think it’s still going to come and get me and eat me up, but it’s scarier now, ‘cause I’m alone. You aren’t there with me to be scared together anymore. Why do you want to be scared alone? I think the same things you think. I have the same images in my head that you have. I’m so sad and so frightened of what I see in my head, and no one is around to talk to about them. You don’t talk about them with me.
You forget! You forget that we used to be scared of them together. We’ve always been able to see the bad things in the darkness that no one else could see. We had those bad OCD thoughts that played like movies in our heads and wouldn’t stop. They’d make us cry. But, at least we had each other. We would hide together. We’d cry together. But, now you hide and cry alone. Those thoughts go through my head too, you know. I want to tell the therapist lady. Since you don’t talk to me about it anymore, then I want to talk to her. But, you won’t let me. Every time I start to tell her about the thoughts, you stop me. You only talk about some of them. You only let me talk about a few too, but not all of them. You’re so afraid, but won’t talk to me, or her, or anyone about it.
I hate you sometimes. You think you have to do everything alone. You always have. You hid stuff all the time when you were little. You wouldn’t tell people those thoughts and feelings, but at least you talked to me. At least you played with me. At least we could have our make-believe and I wasn’t so alone. I see you still have a fantasy world. You go into it a lot, but you don’t invite me. Why not? You used to bring me into that world in your head when you were little, but now you go alone. You’ve left me behind. You’ve abandoned me and it makes me hate you! You shouldn’t have done that. You shouldn’t have left me. I see you still feeling the way you did as a kid. I see you thinking those thoughts that you did as a kid, but now they’re even worse. You act as if I don’t exist anymore. That lady knows I exist. She tells you that I exist, and you see it too when you’re talking to her. That’s why I sit next to you, but once you leave her office, you push me away again. You always hurt me like that.
Those We’re Scary Times
You can stick up for me now too, but you don’t! You don’t stick up for me against that family member. He hurts me every time he calls. But, you don’t care. You just care about yourself. You just listen to each and every message that he leaves for you, and you get sad, angry and upset, and then you push it all away. But, it scares me. It scares me just as it did you, when you were a kid.
But, back then you couldn’t do anything. You were only thirteen. We’d just stand there together and take it. He’d be dumping his hot, beer-infested breath all over us, while we were backed into that corner of our bedroom, where we couldn’t move. He was a grown man and stood right over us. Mommy and Daddy were sound asleep and he knew it. He would tell us about things that happened in that place he went to. Awful things. You were only thirteen and hadn’t even heard and learned about most of the stuff he was telling you about before. He would also talk about his bad relationship issues, and talk badly about our daddy and call him horrible names and make us cry.
Then, there were the times where, just like when we were even younger, he’d talk about us being too close to Mommy and how we shouldn’t be that close to her. He would tell us that she’s going to die someday, so we need to get used to being away from her. He didn’t care if we were little kids and crying. After he would leave the room, we would be all by ourselves. But, he’d first always make sure we knew he loved us. We’d have to actually say that we knew he loved us, or he would get that mad, scary and ugly look on his face, back us into the corner again, and he wouldn’t leave. When he did finally exit, he’d shut the door, leaving his drunken vomit of words lying all over the room.
And, even when we weren’t home, he’d manage to invade our personal space. Do you remember the time when Mommy, Daddy, you and me went away for the weekend and when we came back home there was a ring-sized dent in the drywall in our room? After getting into a fight with his girlfriend, he was in our room and he threw our stuff all over the floor in anger. He punched the wall with his fist, and then left everything a mess. I know you remember that, ‘cause you still keep that dent in the wall hidden from everyone’s view to this day. Even you can’t bear to look at it, ‘cause it makes you feel just as angry as you did that day when you first came home and found it. He never respected your space, though. He proved that time and time again, even when you were minding your own 13-year-old business. Watching your favorite TV show and he shut it off in the middle of it, because you weren’t paying attention to his usual curse-saturated language about his girlfriend. He began cursing at you because you wanted to watch your show and weren’t listening to his rant.
They Don’t Get It
Most people just don’t understand. I remember when you told our cousin a few years ago about not wanting to be around this family member when he was drunk. That cousin just told you that you were wrong. He said that you shouldn’t be like that ‘cause we’re family. He made you feel like you were a horrible person. He didn’t understand, like so many don’t. After all, it wasn’t them in that bedroom when they were thirteen. It wasn’t them heating his food in the middle of the night so that he would get some food in that beer-filled stomach. It wasn’t them cleaning up after him, when he’d pass out mid-meal. They didn’t deal with his nighttime drunken monologues. They didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to find him drunk and standing at the foot of our bed, just staring at us while we slept.
I know you love him, though; that you just don’t like the drunken person that comes out with the alcohol. He’s such a good and loving person while sober. He’s a good human being, but changes when he drinks. I know that’s why you’ve never even had your first drink. It’s why you’re afraid of alcohol and what it will do to you. You love him dearly, though. You worry about him all of the time. You wish you could help him, and it pains you to know that he feels alone at times. You know what thoughts go through someone’s mind when they feel alone and hopeless, and you worry that those same thoughts are going through his mind. That’s why you listen to his drunken messages to this day. You listen due to the “what if”. You worry that he’s calling you for help. You might have to help him, if God-forbid that message ever comes someday. And, you know it will kill you, if you later find out that you missed that message due to choosing not to listen to it. You love him and don’t want to lose him.
So, What Happened?
I should stop now. I can see that I’m upsetting you. But, let me ask you one more question, first. Do you remember when we were 4-years-old and we told Mommy that we were never going to grow up? I still remember that. She does too. We were standing in front of her and Daddy’s full-length mirror and looking at our reflection. Mommy was making the bed and we told her we were never going to grow up. So, what happened? I kept my end of the bargain, but you didn’t. I saw my best friend just pick up and leave as the years took hold of her. I guess that I understand, though. I know you didn’t have control over that. I have news for you, though. You’ve never really left me behind completely. You can’t, ‘cause I’m a part of you. I’m inside of you, but a part that you seem to hide away. The bipolar, anxiety and OCD have been hurting me too, you know. You shouldn’t be so selfish. You should talk to me, and let me express myself, because I understand you. I am you.
You’ve already realized that, though, haven’t you? No matter what, you will never lose me. You can’t. I’ll be with you until the day you die. Whether or not you talk to me during that time, or let me express myself in your writing is up to you. But, just so you know, I’ll always be here waiting with my cardboard box and stick, and singing, “It’s A Small World”. I’ll always exist inside of you. And, if you look close enough while viewing your reflection in the mirror, then you’ll see me. I’m that little girl who fades in and out of the image before you.
Well, thanks for listening, Summer. Please consider being my friend again.
Your Inner Child