‘Picture yourself as a little girl…How would you treat that little girl?...Would you starve her?…Hurt her?’ How many times have I heard therapists ask me that question? Too many. Far far too many.
I know how that scenario is supposed to play out. ‘I would never starve that little girl - She didn’t do anything wrong – she deserves better.’ And then the therapist says something sickeningly sweet about how I am that little girl and I don’t deserve the pain I put myself through…I need to start treating myself like I would treat ‘Little Amber’. Time after time I’ve sat and smiled through that little exercise and pretended like it was some sort of enlightening experience. Time after time I’ve bull shitted my way through that conversation because the real answer makes me sound somewhat pathological. What kind of person doesn’t want to nurture a sweet little child? Me. I’m that person.
The last time a therapist asked me the dreaded question, I was sick enough of the whole charade to answer with some sort of honesty. ‘I hate that girl. That girl is evil. I want to starve her and torture her and make her disappear.’ Insert look of horror from therapist here. ‘Little Amber? Picture 4 or 5 year old little Amber. You’d hurt that innocent little girl?’ Yes. Yes I would. First of all, I hate, hate HATE the phrase ‘Little Amber’. I want to obliterate ‘Little Amber’. The term itself makes my skin crawl. Second, that ‘little girl’ wasn’t so innocent. Third, I have so much disgust for that girl that I don’t want to acknowledge she even existed.
I don’t like kids in general. Not as in, ‘I’m not really the mommy type’ (which, as a side note, I most definitely am not). No, I look at most children and see something small, dirty and needy – oh so needy. I look at children and berate myself for ever having been one, as if there were any other alternatives. The thought of anyone bathing me, taking care of me, touching me, or talking to me with those damn cooing noises sends feelings of absolute revulsion though my body. I wish more than anything that I could erase that vulnerable, chubby, disgusting, naked child - and anything to do with her.
So, anyone need a babysitter?!
I do actually have a couple friends with kids whom I’ve grown fairly fond of. Mostly because I can see the joy they bring those friends. I’m not completely cold hearted (and for the record, would never ever hurt a child). But I’m also fairly certain this isn’t a ‘normal’ response. I hope for the sake of all the kids out there that this isn’t a normal response!
Therapists over the course of time have asked me, ‘What happened to that child?…Who hurt that little child?’ Once I get over the initial internal cringing at the reference to me being 'that child', I get frustrated. I get frustrated at the calm, soothing tone. I get frustrated because I don’t want to be coddled or treated like I’m weak or sensitive - I just want somebody to understand…I want somebody to ‘get it’. I’ve built up walls around that despicable child and then dug a mote just to be safe. I don’t want anyone knowing that part of me ever existed. I don’t want to have needed anyone or anything. But apparently that’s not serving me so well in my current life.
I want to know that someday maybe I’ll be able to lower my walls just enough to let someone in…that I won’t be forever trapped alone in a place that no one can get to. I want to know (and believe) that I’m allowed to need, and even more so, to want things like food, or water, or sleep - and to know that wanting those things doesn’t make me a horrible or weak person. I want to know (and believe) that it’s okay to want to feel cared for by others. I want to know that someday I might be okay with being just a little bit vulnerable.