Ashely was one who came from stubborn genes. She was the first to object as soon as anyone would offer her suggestions, or tell her she needed to do something. As a seasoned woman reaching toward the age of fourty, she often wondered why she was so aggressive and in opposition to anyone telling her anything. But normally she was just reactive and so these thoughts were fleeting. But one day, as she was engaged in a lock down conversation that both sides were unrelenting, the friend of Ashley's said to her, "Why do you feel the need to defend yourself all the time? What's wrong with listening to what someone else has to say?"
These words resonated with Ashely, and even though she huffed and stormed off, not willing to engage the friend any further, seeing as how things had reached an impasse, later that evening as Ashely tried to sleep, she found herself tossing and turning. Her friends words resonated in her ears, like echoes in a cave that wouldn't stop. Finally feeling that it was impossible to get some rest, Ashely gave up.
As she sat at her small two-person table, drinking chamomile tea, she ruminated over why this question bothered her so much. And in that moment, she allowed the question to sink past the surface. It went deep within her core and made roots right around her heart. Ashely looked down to see tears dripping into her tea. She gasped with surprise as she didn't realize she was crying until just then. First anger bubbled under her skin, then frustration, finally sadness hit her like a blow to the gut. Ashely realized in this moment that she had felt like she needed to defend herself for along time. She thought and thought, trying to figure out the source of this behavior. As she dug in deeper, and deeper, more feelings began to drift to the surface. Ashely wondered why all this time had passed, that it was now, that these stupid feelings were appearing.
It was in that moment she heard a small child's voice say "All I want is to feel safe". These words startled Ashely but they felt real, and resonated within her being. Sobs forced their way from her mouth as she realized that what she was feeling lead all the way back to her childhood. Her nose burned as old suppressed emotions dripped from her eyes. These feelings, she remembered them now. And she knew that it was something to do with her mother, but she wasn't quite sure what.
Emotionally worn out, Ashley retired to bed, and cried herself to sleep as she felt overwhelmed by it all. The next morning, Ashely knew the one person would could help her figure this out. She called her older brother, who was ten years her senior. On the call after small talk for a few moments, Ashley felt her impatience grow and blurted out the question. "Was mom a good mom when I was little?"
At first there was silence on the phone. And then her brother spoke, "Mom was depressed when you were little. She and dad were always fighting and I don't think she was there for you the way you needed." Hearing his words caused a pang of sadness within Ashley. She felt bad for herself, and also her mother. Fearing that she would break down, she told her brother she had to go and would call him later. Her voice cracked as she said goodbye.
Ashely sat on her bed and tried hard to remember aspects to her childhood. But there were so many blanks. She realized that she must have felt a need to protect herself and so she built a wall around not letting anyone in for fear of them hurting her just like she felt her mom had. This explained why to this day Ashely was so combative and wouldn't let others tell her anything. Ashley knew what she needed to do. She felt that the only way she could get rid of all these emotions that she seemed to have forgotten about was to acknowledge them so that she could move on. They had not served her until now in any way but to cause her more pain and anguish from the countless arguments she'd had over the years when anyone tried to tell her anything.
Her only recourse was to sit and write it all out. And as she did, she cried, but by the time she finish the letter, Ashely felt herself sigh, and a great burden was lifted from her chest. She took the letter out back and burned it. Vowing to herself that she would honor that small child within her, and be better about letting others in. Knowing that her strength was not in shutting people out. But in knowing that she could protect herself and still allow others in and to be of help to her.
Ashely learned that she is like most people, that we all have an inner child that went through some level of darkness. And that the most important thing is not to ignore that child within, but to honor them, hold them close to us, listen to what they tell us, for as Ashley saw, they have powerful, healing messages, that can help us in our lives. She saw that holding on to her feelings and pushing them inside only caused her pain and misery. And she knew that the path to feeling happy and fulfilled, was being able to acknowledge those feelings, honor those feelings and find a positive solution forward.