tin cans and string for years

Man can­not remake him­self with­out suf­fer­ing, for he is both the mar­ble and the sculp­tor.

—Alexis Carrel

I’ve been dis­cov­er­ing that I don’t know how to take care of myself. Not in a prac­ti­cal, every­day sense, but a cog­ni­tive one. Consistent psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse dur­ing my for­ma­tive years meant I nev­er had the chance to devel­op some impor­tant life skills, like how to nur­ture my emo­tion­al needs, how to make mis­takes, and how to view myself with­out judg­ment. The poi­son was in the wound, you see, and the wound would­n’t heal.

So far I’ve just start­ed rec­og­niz­ing these issues in ther­a­py, and it all makes me feel dam­aged and defec­tive, like­ly why I’ve been hid­ing these parts of my life from oth­ers for so long. But I’ve been hid­ing them from myself most of all. It’s hard to go through the painful but nec­es­sary process of griev­ing when I’m alone; always eas­i­er to ignore things and keep going.

I asked Tiana to help me through this, cause now I know I can’t do it by myself. It was­n’t easy. Even the sim­ple idea of ask­ing for help makes me anx­ious. People who’ve had major roles in my life have hurt me or let me down in a very sig­nif­i­cant way, so trust­ing oth­ers has always been hard, and I’ve avoid­ed being vul­ner­a­ble for so long because of that.

Luckily, Tiana respond­ed the way I need­ed her to, and it’s been a great com­fort to give myself up to some­one I can trust. To be able to cry in front of a per­son with­out feel­ing guilty about my emo­tions or how I’m mak­ing them feel. To be able to talk to some­one who’s recep­tive and atten­tive and gen­tle and car­ing and appre­ci­ates my open­ness as well. To be the lit­tle spoon, cause every­one needs to be held some­times. She lets me let go, and for the first time, I’ve been able to sur­ren­der myself ful­ly and still believe that I’ll be okay. I can sigh with relief instead of sad­ness.

These are still baby steps though, and the whole process is ter­ri­fy­ing. My sense of con­trol is what makes me feel safe, even if it’s detri­men­tal to my growth, and I’m still learn­ing how to give that up. But I tell myself it’s progress nonethe­less, which is what I need now.


  1. This is won­der­ful, if slow, progress.…. When I was 11 I broke down cry­ing on my birth­day in front of my sis­ter, who asked why, com­plete­ly puz­zled. I said that I’d had such a good year that year that I did­n’t want to leave it. I was com­par­ing it to for­mer, much more somber birth­days.
    I could­n’t imag­ine any­thing bet­ter.
    That was dam­age.

    She had the most won­der­ful reas­sur­ing laugh and hug and told me that, no, it was going to be BETTER, and full of things to be sur­prised at and rev­el in. This is the kind of per­son you have and that we all need, so much.

    So very thank­ful for them with­out whom we would­n’t have con­tin­ued. They don’t know how much good they do.

  2. What you’re expe­ri­enc­ing is quite com­plex and some­what con­tra­dict­ing, and can be dif­fi­cult for the aver­age per­son to under­stand. I can only say you’re for­tu­nate enough to have a shoul­der to lean on.

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