The Four of Us
In writing out that title, I had an odd feeling because my family is now just four and I didn’t put that together until right now. I love symbolism, so who knows.
In my mind there’s a forest. It isn’t a scary forest, but very reminiscent of the one that grew next to the vacation place my parents had in Northern Michigan. It wasn’t big enough to get lost in. A quick way out was available on all four sides, but it was big enough that you could lose sight of my parent’s house and my uncle’s house if you walked into the middle. It was thick enough that the light changed and sounds muffled. It was undisturbed enough that it had that good, loamy smell of old leaf rot (which reminds me of books, so it’s one of my top favorite smells). The sunlight dapples through the leaves, but it is cooler and darker. It’s a little wild, but it feels safe.
That’s the forest in my mind.
In the forest, there’s a little river. It’s not very deep or very wide, but it moves swift enough to safely take a little boat or canoe downstream, out of sight, in just a few minutes. The banks are easy to walk down, if you need to get into the water and cat tails grow along the banks.
Over the little river, there is stone bridge. It is wide. The stones are old and a little mossy here and there. There aren’t any walls or barricades along the sides. You can sit on the edge of the bridge and swing your feet and watch the water and the world float by. The bridge is cool to the touch, but the sun comes in and leaves warm spots so you can sit with your head thrown back and let the sun shine on your face.
The bridge came to me when I started meditating. The instruction was to let your thoughts slip away. They may have suggested the boat, but in any case the visualization worked for me. As I meditated, I imagined my thoughts as passing under bridge in little row boats and canoes. I could see the thoughts, but they never stayed long as they were carried away by the current. I can’t see them if I look behind me. Maybe there is a wall back there. Once the thoughts slip into the safe, cool darkness of the bridge, they’ve moved on.
There are four of us on the bridge; me, the little one, the addict and the angry one.
Me is me. She is me without the wounded inner child and the codependency and the anger and sorrow. She comforts the little one. She comforts all of them, actually, but sometimes she tells the addict and the angry one to knock it off. She knows what we (the four of us in concert) should be doing and if she can find enough quiet, she knows where we are heading.
The little one is the child. She has tried to run the show for a long time. A lot of my behaviors are tactics and techniques the child came up with long ago, but that I’m still trying to use. She’s scared a lot, the child is, and I often think about her sitting on my lap. I rock her like I did my girls when they were small enough to fit. I comfort her as best as I can. Sometimes, I get annoyed with her and I have to be harsh. I am not sure if the little one and I can ever become one, but I think I may be able to help her grow up and feel loved and safe.
The addict can’t stop thinking about Big Daddy. She rants and raves when I close off contact. She’s the reason why I block and hide and step as far back as I can. She pushes on the body to feel physical things when she is missing Big Daddy. I get hot. I get anxious. The back of my neck tingles and burns. My stomach aches. My heart races. My chest is weighed down with the actual heaviness of longing. She takes over the control panel and I fixate and have trouble doing what I need to do. I feel as though addict and I can one day become one, once I have healed her wounds.
And then there is Anger. She lays coiled in wait. She is angry at everyone. She is angry at me and the addict and the little one. She is angry at Big Daddy. She is angry at the therapist. She is angry at the dogs and the weather and Donald Trump and anything you can think of. She’s mad that we are out of ice and she’s mad that the dishwasher is broken and she’s mad that someone has to take the trash out. Sometimes, she just screams. She kicks the bridge. She throws things around. Sometimes, Addict joins her. I hope that Anger will go away. That she will join Addict and me and be whole and healed with us. That there is a way for her to release her anger and find peace.
Sometimes, I picture Big Daddy on the bridge with us. It is quiet. Twilight. Somehow I’m standing on something that brings us face to face and our foreheads are pressed together and we are breathing each other in and out. His beard is gone and he is as the man I remember. The little one holds his hand. Addict and Anger are quiet. I open my eyes and tell him that he can’t stay with us. He already knows that. I kiss his forehead or his cheek. I take him by the hand and walk him down the bank to the boat that is waiting for him. I tell him I love him, but he can’t stay here and while he usually doesn’t speak, I know that he knows that.
I climb the bank again and sit with the other three, we dangle our feet over the side. Big Daddy waves once as he disappears safely underneath the bridge. I turn around to try and watch him go, but he’s already gone from sight.
And then there we are, the little one, the angry one, the addict and me. The little one crawls into my lap. Addict rests her head on my shoulder. Anger crouches behind us and gathers us up in a hug. We look forward toward peace as Big Daddy drifts peacefully along behind us.