Who Can I Trust? - Chapter 2
We are playing with starlights in the house. I feel really excited and want to hold the starlight. My sister is holding it and it looks beautiful as the sparks fly everywhere. While she is handing me the sparkler my sister drops the lighted hot burning starlight on my bare foot and I see the skin open and peel back. I hear the hiss of burning flesh and smell it. I can't move I am glued to the spot. I am in shock and someone takes the starlight off my foot. For what seems like one full year that foot is dressed and cleaned on a daily basis by my mother. I get to have my mother all to myself for this time every day as she tends the wound.
Could this be how the "I" in some people creates injury in order to receive the love they experienced as a result of being injured in the past? Though it was an excruciatingly painful experience to have my dressings changed everyday I looked forward to the dressing of the wound by my mother
I am terrified because it is my turn to have my nails cut and my mother shouts at me to remain still. It is painful and she is losing patience as I keep pulling my hand back. I'm afraid and I am crying. She pulls my hand roughly her face looks angry. She cut my finger right up under the nail of the fourth finger of my left hand. I am about 3 years old.
All through my childhood every time someone went to cut my nails that finger seems to have had a mind of its own. That finger seemed to behave differently and pulls away. I have to learn to overcome the "I" that lives in that finger. It is like wrestling a wild animal.
Even as an adult "I" won't let anyone go near that finger and I am very careful when cutting that nail in particular. The problem of the nails being cut by adults was solved when I started biting my nails and kept doing so until I was about 10 years old.
This is one of the reasons I now believe that my body has a separate mind. There resides in me perhaps a number of I's?
It is morning and I am in a big bed and my father and mother are preparing to leave. I have wrapped myself in a cloth like Hercules who I am pretending to be. I am under the covers and it feels safe to do my pretend games under the covers. Then I hear her voice and I am scared. The old Chinese lady has come to look after me. She is so sweet to my parents and though I try to beg them not to leave me with her I don’t know how to explain how terrified I am. I am also worried about telling them too much in front of this woman because she will make me suffer later. They leave and she says things to me that make me feel dirty. She is saying things of a sexual nature and though I don’t understand the words I feel what she means and I am so frightened of her. I am about three years old.
Nobody can hear me. I seem to resign myself to the belief that I am not listened to. I does not come first. Grown ups have more important things to do than listen to the worries and fears of children. If they stop to listen they will be late for something more important. I begins to make decisions about self that have far reaching consequences than I could ever have imagined.
There are often times when I feel frustrated and say the words "Nobody listens to me." "Am I speaking Chinese here?" "Why won't you listen to me?" The frustration I feel nowadays when this feeling is triggered is more intense than the feeling I had as a child but then again perhaps the layers of frustration over the years have served to intensify the feeling or maybe there is no connection and I am imagining a connection.
I am standing in line and watching the Chinese woman take my brother, a baby aged about one year old, by the legs and dipping him head first into a barrel of water. He is screaming and she seems to be enjoying it. This is a daily ritual and is supposed to be our afternoon bath. I am terrified but there is no escape and I try to turn off the fear and accept it when my turn comes. I can’t breathe and I gasp for air as she lifts me out of the water before ducking me in a again. I am about four years old. My brother is a baby and my sisters are aged 2 and 3 years old.
I am in the orphanage called Goldenbridge in Ireland run by the Sisters of Mercy. My mother left us here so she could concentrate on finishing her nursing so she could get a job to support us.
I am standing in line for a shower. I am terrified of the water but once again there is no escape. It is my turn I so get under and I gasp for breath until I am allowed out of the shower. I think to myself that I must somehow learn to overcome this fear. I am about six years old.
Right up till my late teens, I felt as if I was drowning every time I even had a shower. I used to gasp for breath every time I put my head under the shower to rinse my hair. I used to watch my little brother gasping for breath as he was made shower in that orphanage and as I waited my turn and heard the carer yelling at him to stop being so stupid I knew it would be my turn next. "I" begins to accept that there is no escape. Pain and suffering are what "I" must get used to as nobody is listening and nobody cares. Just get on with it and stop being a " big girl's blouse"!
This fear taught me how to deal with fear. I learned to turn off fear by imagining a switch in my mind that I pressed whenever i needed to set fear aside. I see fear as a very important emotion in that it is a protective mechanism but once I make the decision on how to react to the situation causing the fear it is best to turn off what is now a distraction and do what I have decided to do.
A very valuable lesson that is with me to this day and has served me many times.
These snap shots from the past are real. They are snap shots that emerge when I least expect it. They are but a few of the many photos that inhabit "I". I still don't know what "I" is but by showing people these photos I feel that maybe "I" is finally being heard. Maybe someone who reads this may look again at a child with that worried look on his face and ask, "Is everything OK?" And actually stop to listen. I needed someone to ask me that all important question. But now I am asking and "I" is listening intently.
I have deliberately dropped the comment box from this hub because listening requires no comment.