The problem with not allowing myself to cry for most of my life is that now, when I do allow it, I can’t stop. I purposely didn’t let myself feel. I did deny myself those feelings. Who wants to cry over vulnerability, pain, abandonment, loss, abuse? I’d rather, and I did, push it way down so that I didn’t have to feel emotionally what my body was denying physically.

I had a dream last night. But it was more than a dream. I was listening to myself as a child calling the ski team asking them to please come pick me up for practice. Then I walked down and sat on the dock and waited for them to get me. I would dangle my legs off the dock and watch as they took skier and skier and skier past me. I didn’t wonder until much older why they always made me wait. But they did. I’d sometimes sit there for an hour waiting for them to just pull the boat up and let me jump in.

In the dream though, it was my voice. My child voice that I had forgotten until I heard her speak. So full of hope and joy and anticipation of a good day on the water. I loved the water. I loved skiing and I loved the water. I loved it so much that I ignored the abuse that went on around me every week. Yes, as an adult I understand I was groomed and knew no better and blah blah blah. But I was in as much denial as my family stayed in. Even after I left that house I would take my daughter back to swim in those waters. Something about that lake I loved. I loved it so much I could shove the abuse down and take my daughter and choose to just remember the good. I so much with every fiber of my being wanted JUST TO REMEMBER THE GOOD.

Until I was attacked as an adult and sexually assaulted. I could not stuff it down anymore. It all flooded back full force for years. I remember the first time I really allowed myself to cry over it all. I was on my kitchen floor in my late 30’s. It took 30 years to really cry.

No one wants to believe or hear or understand what I went through growing up. They want to stay in denial which is incredibly invalidating and cruel to me. I’d like to have stayed in denial too but then that would have made me as weak and cowardly as they are.

I knew one day these dreams would come and I have dreaded that day. The repressed memory dreams. The ones that I left during dissociation so that I could cope. THOSE dreams. I dreamed a few nights ago of my mother and my therapist talking about something I’d told my therapist in confidence. When I woke up I felt as betrayed as I’ve always felt but more. I had forgotten what I had told the therapist until that dream. As if what I remember is not enough? I have to see myself as a child, I have to see that hope, I have to see my mother talking to my therapist about things I totally blocked out. It’s so difficult. Do we ever outgrow the need to be comforted and told it will all be ok even though everyone knows it won’t?

There will be no pictures today. There will be no searching for the good. The memories of abuse, lack of protection, and sadness have enveloped me.

I’m crying. And I can’t stop crying. And I will keep crying. My heart is broken. My body is broken. So I am crying. It only makes me feel worse but I am unable to suppress it any longer. That poor little girl that was me. That poor poor little girl. It’s just so unbearably sad.

To feel.

I had a cat named Sam when I was little girl. Sam slept with me every night. He was a beautiful siamese. He became ill and we were told that he wouldn’t live long. I moved his cat litter into my closet so that he wouldn’t have to walk down the long hall if he needed it. One night I found him asleep in his litter box. He was barely able to lift his head. I lifted him out and held him to me. I sobbed uncontrollably as I cradled him. He was suffering and I knew that. As a young child I could feel his suffering. I felt an ache in my chest at such a young age. I didn’t know children could feel so deeply. I remember thinking it wasn’t normal for me to hurt this badly for my cat, and yet I did. Sam passed away. I still remember how that felt. 

We got a new Sam named Sammy or Samantha  for Christmas. Sam, Sammy, Samantha was NOT my Sam. She was a Siamese too but they were not the same. Samantha lived for 21 years(I am not exaggerating, she truly lived that long). Eventually I grew to love her almost just as much as original Sam. She lived long enough for my daughter to meet and fall in love with her. My daughter and I were at my mother’s house on the day that Samantha died. My daughter wanted to see her one last time before she was buried. She pet her head and said soft words to her. My daughter was only around 4 at the time. She picked flowers and put them in with her to be buried with. She then put flowers on her grave. We all were crying and my daughter had a tenderness and calm about saying goodbye to Sam. I’m not saying that Sam’s death didn’t affect her, but she showed such a peace about it. 

I wish I were able to feel such tenderness and peace at the loss of second Sam as my daughter felt. But I felt a deep ache and sorrow similar to how I felt when I was a little girl. I am profoundly affected by the suffering or loss of an animal. My heart is easily broken and it takes a long time to mend. I am affected equally at the suffering of a child. I know it upsets everyone, abuse, loss, suffering, but I  feel such deep pain at these things. The sufferings feel internal to me. Even before I was abused myself as a child, the suffering of other children was almost unbearable to me. I’m not sure why my heart is this way, and in a world full of such suffering, my heart sometimes feels it just won’t survive. 

The good thing about my heart is its ability to love. Because I feel, I can love. My heart is open and in that openness I can experience wholeheartedly the power of unconditional love. It is because I love so intensely that I experience loss so intensely as well. As painful as it can be to feel suffering at such an enormous level I feel fortunate that my heart can then love at an enormous level as well. 

My heart is what led me to do wildlife rescue. It is also what led me to volunteer as a chaplain in nursing homes and with hospice. It makes me fiercely protective of my animals as well as my daughter. My heart is what makes me move an earth worm off the sidewalk so he doesn’t dry out in the sun. My heart makes me chase a tree frog around the house to be able to set him free. It makes me sob at the sight of a bird with an injured wing or a kitten who was dumped on the side of the road. My heart leads me. My heart feels immense love and immense loss. As a little girl I wished I didn’t feel as intensely as I did. I now know that I only feel because of my capacity to love and that is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.