When I was a kid and my parents fought I used to stay in the room with them, panicked and afraid to be with them but also to leave them. My older brother would leave the house at the first sign of tension but somehow I needed to stay. To witness? To protect? To calm them? To clean up after? All of those are theories well dissected in many therapy rooms. What I know is that there was some strange kind of loyalty and inability to leave. As I return to that scene now—and visualize the very young child I was then—I wish for a woman to come and escort me out.
This week I realized that through recovery and therapy I have become the kind of woman that I wished for then. Now I can go into that room and take that child out of there. I can say to her, “Come with me, I can take care of you” and I can say to them, “Sorry, I’m taking her out of here.”
I can return to that childhood house in my imagination and show her, “See these are my car keys and this is my checkbook, and see this card: I am 55 years old, with a job and money and friends and all kinds of resources and you are coming to live with me now.”
When I get scared or think I am stuck in some situation today I say to myself, “Nope, you don’t have to stay; I can take her out of there”.