I knew that I really hated some child parts, but I didn’t realize quite how much I hated the ten-year-old until Sunday. If I had compassion for her, the whole experience would have broken my heart. Instead, it left me feeling haunted and incredibly anxious.
Allow me to set the stage: We had a terrible night with the little one on Saturday night. Baby screamed for hours. My eyes were killing me on Sunday morning because I have a bad habit of never taking my contacts out. So I finally caved and put my glasses on. Baby and I were sick with some sinus junk, so we were both pretty puny. Morning sickness with baby number two was terrible on Sunday, and it was incredibly difficult to imagine standing at the bathroom counter to wash my face, let alone do the whole girly make-up, hair thing. I also hadn’t plucked or waxed my eyebrows in a long time, well, because I have an infant, and for some reason, early pregnancy seems to preclude eyebrow care.
In spite of the adversity, there I stood, at the bathroom counter. I glanced in the mirror, and to my horror, my ten-year-old self stared back at me. That girl, with the glasses, the bushy eyebrows, the tired eyes, and the crazy frizzy hair. I felt like I was in a horror movie. I was torn. I wanted to scream and run out of the bathroom away from that horrible girl, but I knew that she was me and would follow me, so I had to stay and fix it. I had to stay in front of the mirror and kill her. I frantically straightened my hair. The ten-year-old has no idea what straight hair is like. She doesn’t own a flat iron. I had to use the mirror, but my stomach lurched every time that I looked into it. Morning sickness and flashbacks DO NOT go well together. The flat iron process took too long, and once my hair was unequivocally straightened, the ten-year-old was still there staring at me. Still shaking, I took out the makeup. The child was still three years away from make-up. So I tried to paint over her face, desperately wiping her out. I finally was able to see a semblance of adult me in the mirror, so I quickly fled the bathroom, to get as far away from that mirror as possible. For the rest of the day, I was haunted by that ten-year-old.
Cognitively I know that she’s just a traumatized little kid. Emotionally, I feel repulsed by her. I feel so disgusted with her and shaming of her. The thing about my ten-year-old is that she is the manifestation of all of the socially “unacceptable” symptoms of the trauma. She is severely OCD, dissociative, anxious, depressed. She predated the anorexia, which became the phenomenon that consumed all of the other symptoms. With the anorexia, I felt that I had successfully killed the child parts. Now that I am no longer symptomatic with the anorexia, those children are rearing their heads again. And they have stories that I don’t want to hear.
So maybe next time, instead of painting the children away, or flat ironing them out of existence, I can have a conversation with them. They have a right to be heard. So next time the ten-year-old greets me in the mirror with her sad, exhausted, anxious eyes, I will try to honor her.