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Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Walk on the Happier Side of Memory Lane

Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly sorry for myself, I remember that my past was not all horror and shadows. There have been many fine moments, some of which have defined me as a person. Though my mind generally reverts to painful places, I was reminded a few nights ago that my memories do not have to be centered there.

In my travels through life, I'm learning how to self-soothe after one event or another brings up painful triggers that sometimes incite panic in me. I feel I've grown as a person. The flare ups are minimal now compared to how they used to be. It's not to say that I don't get the attacks anymore, just that I'm finding it easier to pull myself out of the quicksand. I've learned something more important than that, though. I've learned that there's no disgrace when I need help out of it.

My mantra has been and continues to be that those things are in the past. I'm not the same girl. The girl still exists, she's just a woman now. She walks freely through the day, unencumbered, doing what needs to be done, and those things that please her without repercussion if she chooses to deviate her course. I've grown through my writing and through my daily interaction with the outside world.

I have a particular memory that I remember, and I remember it quite often. Especially when I'm a little hard on myself for sometimes needing help.

It was many years ago; I was about 4 years old. It was the year that my father died and my mother moved herself, my sister and I to Martinsville, Indiana. I didn't remember my dad passing. I only remember seeing him one day and not seeing him the next.

We drove by car, carrying only the barest of essentials with us. It was quite an adventure. I remember laying in the small area just beneath the back window (because it was my turn) and watched the sunrise. It felt like the sky was falling down, and at first, it really frightened me. Eventually, I just grew to appreciate the beauty of laying in the back window and watching the sky.

That was the first year I saw snow. We knelt on the sofa and looked out the large window in my aunt's house on Cross Street, with our folded arms on the sofa back, while my cousin did her best to explain what was going on.

We ended up in the kitchen. My aunt took a large metal spatula and scraped it inside the freezer, then put the scrapings inside our hands. We played with the white substance until it melted. When it was light out, we got to go outside. My curiosity satisfied, I saw it for what it was. Cold.

That next spring and summer were quite adventurous. Every day, a new game, a new adventure.

One day, in particular, is etched forever in my mind.

It was just after breakfast. I could already tell the day was going to be on the warm side.

My cousin, my sister and I decided we wanted to play with our Barbies in the treehouse. In order to get there, we would have to ease ourselves down a small ravine, cross a wooden plank that was situated across a small creek, and then make our way back up again. We'd climb the ladder up into the opening, and play all day long on the carpeted floor inside.

It just so happened that on this day, the boys, my cousin's older brothers, and their friends, decided that the girls would not be allowed to play there. My cousin had just helped my little sister across the plank, and I was standing on it, making my way over when one of the boys kicked the plank out from beneath me. They laughed and ran away, presumably back to the treehouse.

My cousin screamed and somehow leaped back to the other side. She yelled at me and told me not to move. My sister was crying on the other side of the creek, and she told her not to move either. She ran back up the other side towards the house.

But I couldn't move if I wanted to. The ground beneath me was eating me up. I was knee-deep in the soft mud, and it felt as if it was sucking me down. First my hips, then my chest all the way up to my armpits.

My aunt came running down with a broom in her hand. I grabbed the broomstick and she yanked me out of the mud, then yelled for the boys. I sat on the creek's edge while she had the boys replace the wooden plank, get my sister back across and then she proceeded to beat the boys with the end of that broom all the way back to the house.

She was crying when she put me into the tub, pulling the muddy clothes from me. She cleaned me up and put me in PJ's. I kept telling her not to cry, that the dirt didn't hurt me.

It wasn't until much, much later that I realized I'd fallen in quicksand. And it was until so much later in my life that I could see the metaphor in the story for what it was.

Everyone needs help at some time in their lives.

Have a great week, everyone!