If you were to tell my story as the tale of a hurt, lost, abandoned little girl and the smart, tough person who took care of her, you wouldn’t be that far off.
Very, very early, I learned to use my brain to be functional in the room while I found scraps to feed my heart. I learned to be eccentric, iconoclastic and weird to get away with both feeding and concealing my feminine heart.
The girl inside is profoundly isolated, lonely and battered. Protector, well, they do their best to help, just like they worked so hard to assist everyone that she loved.
That relationship has come to an impasse. Protector is too used up and girl, well, she doesn’t know how to be in the world.
People tell me to get help. But finding more coping strategies isn’t really useful for me, which is why a number of therapists have told me that they don’t know how they can help, because strategies are what they offer. They know how to help people be functional, but they don’t know how to navigate a lifetime of pain.
Emotional programs that are supposed to take you back to your inner child, to a time before you were so pounded down don’t work either. Going back, they find a girl who is so battered and isolated that she is almost impossible to help.
After decades, her protector knows a suspect promise at a glance and doesn’t want her hurt again. That is lovely and protective, but it is also limiting and isolating, as any woman protected by someone who loves her knows.
Everybody needs salvation, needs someone to see them, know them, love them and save them from being cast apart. As much as we have to save ourselves, without the milk of human kindness, that shit is kind of impossible.
I live on bubbles of emotion, stored decades ago and replayed time and time again. There is no new fuel and no hope of any. That means I don’t move forward, because there is no reward out there to justify the costs.
I know that there is no real binary, no real disconnection between her and the protector. They are just parts of me, connected and seamless. Every woman has a smart mind and a tender soul, has a balance between hard and soft in her life.
The difference with me is how those two parts were forced to develop in the world. One part had to get very very strong while the other was starved for light & heat, withering away in the darkness.
I need my heart. Just toughening up won’t cut it anymore, and I don’t want to go searching for other people to take care of, searching for more reasons to try and satisfy myself with only serving the happiness of others.
That heart is the heart of a child who has been hidden too long, surviving on scraps. It isn’t the heart of a mature woman, laced with connections and affirmation, with visibility and rewards.
Doing well at protecting a tender, lost heart with a big, tough mind is a good thing. I can be proud of what I have done. I have coping strategies out the wazoo, am able to help others in living in the world with their own wounds.
But there is only so far anyone can go with a lost and broken heart.