* This is a marker rendering based on a beautiful photograph of a child . It spoke to a part of me (I’ll refer to as G) that fancies herself a child mermaid. G has stayed young and would not show her face or talk for the longest time. She retreated from the world and lived alone in the sea and at times walked the beach (sometimes she could grow legs). She struggles with profound grief and hopelessness and developed a method for sealing away terrible memories by stuffing them into a huge pirate chest closed with chains and locks and thrown into the deepest part of the ocean. That is her pandora’s box (reference to this blog post). As most who are healing from dissociation know, when you accept and befriend your parts, you will be able to see parallels to ways you live(d) your life. You’ll see that there were always clues to their existence, like a breadcrumb trail to their home in the witches woods, but you were afraid to go too deep into the forest. It takes an effective guide to accompany you on this journey – this is where a therapist or doctor skilled with dissociation can helped you pick up the trail in a safe way. By befriending G, I befriended the part of myself that isolates and disconnects.
I want to interject an aside right now: I know these images and stories are fantastical, and I hesitate to even write them publicly for fear of ridicule. Think of them as metaphors if it helps. But if you deal with a dissociation disorder or know someone who does, I urge you to open your mind to the ingenious ways traumatized minds of children developed to survive threats to their sanity. OK, back to the story.
For me, getting to know G (this part of myself) was very scary. She represents the most suicidal part of my history. She was dangerous. Her danger does not come in violent or aggressive forms but rather, the hardest to deal with: resigned hopelessness. She just wanted to go away, without any pain or violence. She had no fight in her, but rather lived in a self imposed exile from everyone. When G popped up into my consciousness, it was a red alert time.
Now, lest you click away from this post (some probably have), bummed out by the topic, let me tell you that G is much better these days and has grown into a different role. I have courted her slowly and safely. She now comes to her beach often and has grown into a guardian of other hurt parts. Such a young girl herself, yet she tends to a baby she found among the shoreline rocks, a bullied boy (JN) that was a scapegoat for others, S – the young child mistress to her incestuous grandfather, and most recently, G is offering friendship to V, a part that was the extreme SM masochist and sexually exploited young woman in my system. She has moved to a key helper role and she is so sweet, doing so quietly and tenderly. Without noise, fanfare or much talking at all.
I really turned a corner in my work with this part of my wounded self, when she began to allow me to see her face and uttered a few soft spoken words to me. Here is a construction I made about her world; I made it with her directing me. I was only able to get her to look out towards me if she could obstruct her face (in this case with sun glasses and seaweed). But it was huge turning point. The healing that was involved for her to face outward and allow her visage to be seen and to meet eyes with me was so profound, it is one reason the young mermaid on these bookmarks is so special to me.
Helping G look outward, breaking her self imposed isolation has helped me to choose to stop my own profoundly isolating habits. I struggle with loneliness these days and I get down on myself because much of the cause for that is based on my own isolating actions (however motivated by self protection). These days, I am taking more risks to allow others to see me and get to know me. I am bearing the discomfort I feel being social at times when I want to retreat to the familiar solitude of my home. I am choosing venues and people to experiment with laughter, silliness and conversation. And I am reconnecting with friends and some family that I pulled away from in my descent into my difficulties as a young woman. Things are more hopeful these days and I look forward to a life of connectedness. Isolation does not serve me any more and I am leaving it behind. Thank you G, your quiet, small self preservation acts have given me a new lease on life.