February 22nd, 2013
I was five years old when this happened. A bit of a hazy memory but the effects still as sharp as though it were yesterday. Mom and dad had been divorced most my life, we switched off which bus stop I got off at after kindergarten, based on who’s afternoon it was for me to spend time with. I can’t remember if it was my dad’s turn but the bus rolled out towards the beach, since that’s where he lived.
It was an overcast afternoon, not unlike all afternoons at the beach. A bit foggy, grey, breezy, cold. I hopped out of the bus, excited to see my dad. I was daddy’s little girl after all. A cute little dancing thing, making him proud with my cuteness, constantly.
I walk up to the fence outside the house and it’s locked. I immediately start crying. That feeling of panic washes over me. I try again. Locked. The wind whistles in my ear. Not a neighbor is out to be seen. Not a car passes by. It’s just me, the wind, and a locked gate.
I don’t know how long I stayed in front of that gate trying to see if it was locked, but I eventually started walking down my street. Crying and walking. Crying and walking. No one to save me. Nowhere to go. Hazy in the eyes. Hazy in the sky. Dad wasn’t there. No one was there.
Eventually, a police officer picked me up and somehow I made it to my mom’s house. I have no idea how. It was clear across town and I didn’t know my address or phone number. The rest of the story is completely blocked from my memory.
This memory came to me on Sunday when I was on hour 7 of not getting out of bed for the day. The 18th anniversary of my dad’s death, where all I could do was cry and remember and process and feel the pain of him “leaving.” All I could do was be curious about how this one instance has affected me all these years. What the common themes were, that it invoked. What are the actual messages I’ve been telling myself about men this whole time and how similar were they to things I felt back then.
In my exploration, they were all exactly the same.
No line was drawn between getting off the bus and finding myself up against a locked gate and no dad, dad “leaving me” by dying, and some guy I barely know who isn’t emailing me back in the way I want him to. The pain is the same. The feelings are identical. It might as well be the same exact situation. The amount of intensity I feel and how much I internalize it is exactly the same.
And then I got to thinking how logically, this makes no sense. That one instance that happened to me when I was five years old can stay with me all these years, getting in the way of my relationships. I wonder how many other things in my life are that way? Adopted feelings and ways of reacting and behaving from before I was even conscious enough to know what kind of systems I was creating.
How being left at the bus stop, or in life, by Dad has affected every single relationship I’ve ever had. How can this possibly be? How ridiculous is this? What kind of crazy person turns that one event into an entire belief system about men and love?
And it’s because the five year old mind doesn’t know better. It needs to protect itself against pain and the only way it knows how is to build a system against it.
I think in that moment I learned that you can’t count on men. That they leave you, alone and crying. That they forget about you. And don’t answer the door when you knock. That, after the fact, they apologize and tell you they love you and it won’t happen again, but you’re already damaged and you don’t believe them. So you choose people you know will never leave. Or you leave first. Or you don’t show up at all. You don’t let them get close. You don’t open your heart, you don’t love. Because that way, you’ll never be hurt and you’ll never be left.
That’s a five year old’s logic. But I’ve grown up. And even though, in these moments of tears, where my five year old is still very much alive and kicking, my grown-up heart wants to be seen and loved. Wants someone to look inside all the nooks and crannies, behind every shadow, behind every bandaid, and into the darkness. It wants to be seen. And cradled. It wants to shine light big enough for the world to feel. It wants to sob on the floor and shoot out tears of delight. It wants it all. And it cannot and will not hide anymore.
And this is A Wildheart Life.
Raw. Open. Vulnerable. Strong. Weak. Scared. Brave. Colorful. Dark. Illuminous. Energetic. Still. Radiant.
It’s all of it. Not one thing left out. It gets to be everything because it IS everything. No hiding in this Wildheart Revolution.
Scars on your sleeve. Tears on your face. Heart busted wide open.
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