She Who Carried Too Much

By Barbara Christensen - 4:10 PM


She Who Carried Too Much I Mindset Unicorn

Eight ... it is a magical age. I can remember when my daughter was eight. Third grade (when I was eight I would have been in fourth grade) she was happy-go-lucky with her best friend, and her small circle of friends ranging in various ages. We were a part of a district homeschool program, and so we had adventures rather than sitting in boring classes every day. 

Homework was easy to finish when you have an at home student-to-teacher ratio of one. We ventured off with other families to view the salmon, learn about weather tracking, even how garbage gets recycled.  Between offsite field trips, park play dates, and homeschoolers monthly skating get-togethers, we were happy. On the weekends we would drag a begrudgingly tired father out to take a hike, walk the dogs, get ice cream, and make time to connect as a family.

When I was eight my mother was divorced, and my father lived on the other side of the country.  She went to school during the day, and worked the swing shift. Latch key I would walk my little sister with me to school,  often stopping in the drugstore to buy a little penny candy with any change I had found wandering the neighborhood. 

We had twenty-five stray cats, and I would feed them, and there was something comforting about having all of those cats hanging out in our generally empty carport. I  also loved spending time with my dog. I was already broken,  preferring to spend time with the herd of animals. Some of these memories are still blocked out because losing my dog the following year, and having the cats slowly removed was pretty devastating. 

I was already broken. My childhood had existed within the confines of domestic violence,  alcoholism, divorce and abuse. I was looked down upon at school for my odd homemade clothes mixed with my mismatched thrift store finds. We were on free lunch tickets and I often acted out in ways that only a child who has suffered will. I spent a lot of time sitting in the hallway of the school, which was our principals manner of detention. 

Sometimes I would take off on my bike and just ride. I didn't care the destination, just to be free. I knew this sometimes left my little sister alone with the older brothers and their friends,  but I struggled between wanting to protect her and wanting to be eight. The following year we would move and at nine I would have a man expose himself to us while pleasuring himself in front of our new house, and have to get myself and my sister to safety. By then hypervigilance became my normal state of being.

As an adult I feel that eight and nine year old self, and she's tired. I struggle with chronic fatigue and they've discovered that exposure to childhood trauma was associated with a 8-fold increased risk of developing CFS. I am tired for her, because she had to carry so much. And while I sometimes would rather forget (and in some circumstances have forgotten) all that she's been through, I am grateful for her

She who carried too much. She who protected me as strongly and as fiercely as she could. She who still loved and sought love. Somehow I survived that which takes so many others, and yet only because she never gave up. 

I have often been misunderstood by my peers because I stand in a stance of safety first. But I applaud my eight year self because that is how she loved herself, and her little sister, and her dearest friends. She wants for them what she didn't have because she loves them so deeply.  To want to give others those basic needs is an asset. So today I honor her.

She who carried so much, it is time to put the burdens down. You're no longer eight, and you can ask for help without fear of being discovered in the dysfunctional world you grew up in. You grew up, into such a loving and strong person, and now you can rest for a minute. You are loved, and everything is going to be okay. Let go, and release what you no longer have to control. 

Thank you!! Because of you, I am. Because of you, we survived!

Barbara xx

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