She hides under her bed, small and still. It’s not enough to go to her room and slam the door. Her feelings are sorted in a quiet, dark space. “Annie, are you okay?”
The first time she hid I couldn’t find her. I opened her bedroom door and found an empty room, and then a tiny voice, “I just need to be alone.”
“Oh.” I was surprised. “Okay.”
I left, wondering about this new thing. The whole house knew when she was upset. Every step up the stairs loud and defined, Annie always had big feelings packed into a small body. At the age of 2 she hit and pushed when she was angry, no time to explain. Always moving, running, jumping I couldn’t keep up with her. She couldn’t find her words, but she knew exactly what to do with her body. She has become better with words, curious with questions, but her body still takes over. Now, when it’s too much, she retreats.
I was all-in all year and somewhere between summer beginning and ending I got tired. My body broke down. It was too much. I’ve been hiding in this season, my favorite season, when fall steals summer in a burst of red and gold, leaves falling to invite quiet. I am feeling, but unable to find the words. Writing – my fall-back, my go-to, my sanctuary is missing. I’m not under the bed, but I’m guarded. Separating my thoughts. Being thin-skinned in a thick-skinned world.
We admire toughness. The ability to deflect, to be quick with answers. Handle noise and intensity with a smile. To shrug and say so what. We are rated, reviewed and judged, and we’re supposed to be fine with it, welcoming. What happens when you’re not so easygoing? We get hurt, overwhelmed, receive bad news and we must bounce back, and when we can’t, we’re wondering what’s wrong. Thick skin is demanded.
It doesn’t fit.
I have always wanted to be one of those people who lets things slide off her shoulders, cares less. But things get to me and under my skin. I hang on white-knuckled until I’m pried loose. I can do it all until I can’t. Guarded, unguarded…I’m not sure which way to go, but I know armor is heavy. Rather than fight sensitivity, I’ll surrender. Be high-strung and scrappy. I am flaws and failures, honesty and strength. Secure, insecure. There is no right version of me. Of us. Whatever that means. We are two sides, all sides; heart, mind and soul.
I look at Annie – we are more alike than not. I tell her it’s not about being perfect. I know perfect lives vast inside her. “It’s okay to make mistakes. Learn from them and keep going. There is more to you than a mistake.” This isn’t profound, but it’s important for her. As I say these words, this little truth; I take a deep breath. We are doing the best we can with what we have and that has to be enough.
in Rare Bird
This beautiful book is written by Anna Whiston-Donaldson. It is about the life and loss of her beloved son Jack. I’ve been reading Anna’s blog for a long time, learning about her kids and her son who reminded me of mine, so when I received an email from a mutual friend sharing the sad news that she lost her boy to a tragic accident I was shocked, heartbroken. This should not have happened. I have witnessed her survival and strength turn into a book. The book is not trite or happily ever after. It is true and rich and thoughtful. I loved her courage, her incredible ability to write and let the reader in. I couldn’t put Rare Bird down. You can buy it here!