That little girl feels scared. That little girl found refuge in every elementary school classroom.

In third and fourth grade, I had the same teacher because it was a multi-age classroom. There was a rule in the classroom that anyone could go under her desk at any time if they felt they needed a place to hide because something was upsetting. I don’t remember exactly how we were told to use it, but the classroom respected the use of it. I can remember walking into the classroom and wanting to go there. Or when the bell rang, wanting to hide under her desk instead of going home. I didn’t. Usually. I do remember using it a handful of times and crying quietly.

I needed emotionally safe adults in my life, and I found some of that security in my childhood teachers/school staff from 1st through 10th grade. Thank God for them.

The house I grew up in was a corner lot on an acre of land that backed up to a wash. We had free reign of the desert wash and really the whole neighborhood. I used to take a journal and escape to different parts of the wash that created little shelters underneath clusters of Palo Verde and Mesquite trees. Sometimes if I was particularly mad, I would run or bike to the borders of the neighborhood that I knew I wasn’t supposed to cross, but I would go just enough across the border to break a rule without getting in trouble since no one would ever know. Secret journals, secret escapes, secret emotions.

That little girl grounded herself in between Bee Brush and Creosote, careful not to sit on cactus, filtering soft black sand from coarse white sand through her fingers.

The other day I was driving north out of the city toward the mountains and felt an intense need to keep driving until I reached them. Responsibility inhibited the part of me that could be in the wild forever. But there is a reason the mountains pull at my heart and the smell of pine calms my soul. Mother Nature has a way of wrapping her arms around me as I shed tears I don’t think anyone could possibly understand. I used to feel embraced on long runs, finding places to leave the canal path at the edges of train tracks where no one else goes. But I destroyed my body enough that I can’t run that far anymore. I feel trapped in my body and in this place. Mother Nature feels so far away.

Today in therapy tears ran from the palms of my hands covering my eyes and down my forearm while I cried for that little girl. That little girl who didn’t know what was happening–why she felt afraid in her own home, why she felt so sad, out of place, and disgraceful. It was relief I desperately needed, validation I’m holding on to, and real physical safety from mother, that I’m afraid to need so much more of. It feels like a slow leak in a major dam. The water pressure is finally too much to take and my eating disorder is frantically trying to patch up the holes but hearing “You are loved, you are heard, you are seen, you are worthy, you are valuable…” keeps springing more leaks.

Shame is deeply entrenched in the fibers of this body. Some of it I can pinpoint now and say, this is why, but so much more is there without a clear explanation. I honest to God do not know if there’s more. But every time I think I can’t possibly have anything else to work through, my brain decides it’s time to remember something else.

Just hold me, please, while I try so hard to keep walking through this. God, Mother Nature, Husband, Therapy Mom, Anyone Who Recognizes These Blue Eyes Are Holding In A Lot.

Hold me, while I try to hold that little girl.




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