I can't take credit for today's post really. It comes from a conversation I had with a mentor, a woman I really look up to. We were having a pretty intense conversation about the personal struggles and pain in our lives (and I know we all have that, on some level) and I expressed my feelings of sadness and fear to her. I felt worn out and broken. Unsure of myself.
Her face grew concerned and she said, "Sometimes you have to take care of the little-girl-Elizabeth, you know? Sometimes you have to comfort the little girl inside of you who can't handle all this really hard stuff. So you put her in a safe place and you tell her that you'll go take care of all the big, scary grown-up stuff and you'll come back. You can help protect that part of you."
I'd honestly never thought of it that way. And maybe it's just one way of looking at the stressful, frightening things we experience but it's certainly been comforting to me. When I feel overwhelmed, I can tell the younger, more vulnerable me that I will be the grown-up and she doesn't need to come along for the hard part. For me, it's become another way to be kind to myself. To keep myself emotionally safe in the worst moments.
All of this reminds me of a prose poem/story I heard a long time ago by Sandra Cisneros called Eleven in which she talks about being eleven. My favorite bit goes like this...
"What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven."