In therapy yesterday, we talked about my tendency to empathize with others, even at my own expense; we talked about my need to meet the set of expectations I seem to believe the world has laid out for me; and we talked about how I compartmentalize things, rationalize them, over-intelligence them, as a survival mechanism, to keep myself from getting hurt.
Or something. To put it in English, we were talking about Doug’s mother being selfish, manipulative, and cruel on Thanksgiving. We were talking about how, even after she’d blamed me for the problems she has had with her son for the past 25 years, I am still trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, trying to see things from her side, trying to get Doug to talk to his stepfather to see if there is any way for us to please her. Because family is important, I said.
“But what about your heart?” my therapist asked. “If your poor little heart could talk, what would it say?”
I giggled, then thought for a minute. “I guess it would say… ‘But I didn’t do anything. Why bring me into this?'”
She indicated a photo on the wall above her desk: a shot of the desert landscape, with a young coyote sitting on his haunches, directly in front of the bumper of a parked truck. He is looking up at the truck and smiling sweetly.
“Your heart is so innocent. Like that little guy. Every once in a while, I hear this innocence in you, underneath all the intelligence and the rationalizing. And I wonder what would happen if you let that innocent little girl come to the surface and speak more often.”
Was I hearing this right? Was she actually telling me to get in touch with my inner child?
“Do you draw?” she asked me.
“Um… I could. Not well.”
“Well, if you feel like it, maybe try drawing – don’t think about it, just whatever comes up – or singing, or anything that will help take you out of your mind and your words, to tap into that innocent place. Over the next week, see if you can’t find out what the innocent girl wants. And there’s no right way to do it, there’s no magic formula; just try to get out of your head and see whether anything comes up.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Does that make sense?”
The seed planted right then, and I was already starting to get a glimpse into this inner child’s wish list. And over the past few days, things have kept coming up, although I’m doing no drawing or singing or, I dunno, meditating, to encourage them.
While riding our bikes this morning, Doug, my dad and I started talking about Seattle – airfare is cheap right now – and how we’d like to go visit our “family” up there: the young mother who adopted us the winter after my miscarriage; the supervisor we’d had up there who became one of our best friends in the last few months before we moved home; my dad’s friend, who first felt indebted to us because we’d visited his wife in the hospital a few times, then took us on so many hikes and cooked us so many dinners that we soon became indebted to him and began to view him as actual family. And as I was trying to explain the importance of us going to visit all these people, the little innocent voice inside me piped up, saying, “All our Seattle family – the friends we made together – will be invited to our wedding.”
Because that’s what she wants. Those are her dreams. The innocent little girl inside me still thinks I deserve a chance at happily ever after. She still wants a dream wedding, and a white picket fence, and a family. She still believes all those things are possible for me, and so she’s making plans – drawing up a guest list, choosing colors, thinking of locations – while she waits for the big girl to see it her way.
But the big girl, the adult me, is only too quick to shoot her down.
“I already got my chance,” I told my therapist yesterday, knowing even then what was going to “come up” if I let the innocent part of me speak. “And I blew it. I ruined it for us. I got a big, fancy wedding, and I screwed everything up. I got pregnant, and screwed that up, too, or it screwed me up, maybe; I see it as my karma. I can’t do it all again for the innocent girl, because there’s no innocence left in it. I’ve done it all and ruined it for us already.”
This sucks. Obviously, my ex-husband does not see things this way, as he’s already engaged and most likely planning another big, fancy wedding. And I – the one who had wanted to break up even before the wedding happened, the one who had primarily pushed for a breakup afterwards, as well – can’t seem to reconcile the existence of that marriage with the possibility of a new, happy one. And I can’t seem to reconcile the existence of my lost pregnancy with the possibility of a new, healthy one.
And so I hide from all of it. Here I sit, crying out “no no no no” at the prospect of Doug proposing, because the thought of another wedding gives me panic attacks, because I no longer believe I deserve a fairytale ending. Only – and I think I’ve finally figured out why I’ve been saying no option sits right – the little girl wants that fairytale so badly, that saying “courthouse” or “common-law” makes her cry.
Fuck you, jaded logical-brain. Let the innocent little girl talk. Why don’t I deserve to live happily ever after?
Honestly, haven’t we all suffered enough?