Some time ago I had a dream about a person who once meant very much to me. This person had a history very similar to my own but she had already made far more progress on the road I’m currently travelling on. I always used to look up to her because I could never imagine getting to the place where she was – in so many matters. To this day I am grateful for the time she gave me.
My dream reminded me of something she always said. She believed in a kind of karma in the same life. I can’t remember the exact words but it was something like “For all the shit we’ve gone through we deserve a future twice as awesome. And we will get it.” She really believed that some sort of fairness would grant us a reward for all the dark things in our lives and she never doubted that she deserved beautiful things to happen.
Now I don’t know if I can also believe that but I have to think abou these words quite often anyway. Who knows, maybe she was right and I’m allowed to harvest all the fruits that the hard things in my past made grow. Maybe these fruits are going to be sweet and beautiful. It’s worth a try.
But that also means I have to do something I’ve always admired about this person: I have to stop relativizing my past. By that I don’t mean that I’m going to stand there and wail because I had such a hard childhood, no! That is definitely not going to happen – nothing is worse than self-pity. But maybe I have to stop telling myself and others that “stuff just happens” and that “we all have a cross to bear” when the truth is that I know I’ve beared a cross some adults wouldn’t want to bear a long time ago.
So I go into the bathroom and stand in front of my mirror. And I start talking. Very calmly I talk about all the illness in my family – mentally and physically and all the guilt that you’re burdened with if you’re born into such a set of relatives. I talk about a light-heartedness I’ve never known because something was always hard and about what it feels like to be thrown into a world that doesn’t understand what it’s like to never be carefree. I talk about how my world was torn apart into many little planets and how I learned to float in space. Although I’ve always longed for gravitation I never had a home on any of these planets – always just a guest, always a little strange, always a little misunderstood. After some time I stopped believing in a planet where I would be just right. I talk about my travels – there were cold planets and also ones that were like magnets that didn’t let you leave, even if you wanted to. There were planets where I was obliged to spend time even when everyone there made it clear that I wasn’t welcome. Of course there also were beautiful planets but I couldn’t stay on them either because I felt like the ugly ones had tainted something inside me that I wasn’t allowed to bring to the bright places. Then there were planets where neither my body nor my thoughts actually belonged to me, although they say that thoughts are always free.
My therapist has many names for the things that happened on these planets: There are terms like “emotional neglect”, “lack of validation”, “bullying”, she even said the word “abuse”. I don’t like these words. They sound way too agitated. They don’t match my floating travels between all these worlds. And also not the tiredness that comes with them.
My reflection looks at me and waits for me to continue. So I talk about the astronaut symptoms that came flying towards me amidst the stars. It’s so abstract. When I look at a nine-year-old child I can’t imagine how they’re supposed to cope with the mortal fear of a panic attack but I know I coped with it. It’s equally difficult to look at young teenagers – it makes me sad to know that I’m definitely not the only person that age who truly wanted to die. On the other hand it’s not surprising that a child would be scared out in the black vastness of space or that you would just want it to be over when you haven’t found a place to land in a very long time. It’s not surprising that I started to simply let the stars float past me and that it often made me angry to be out there on my own. My reflection is still looking at me and asks about black holes. Because they also exist in space and I often feared being swallowed by them. Until I discovered that it’s enough to pay a toll in order to get past them. That I had to spill my own blood for that toll didn’t seem like that biggest problem.
While I’m talking about my travels I start feeling sad and angry and I feel that it hurts. But there is also a feeling that tells my I just have to go over my travel story often enough until it will just be a simple story some day. And above all I feel a huge gratefulness – after all I didn’t cope with these things just like that.
So I make my reflection smile by talking about the warm planets that welcomed me with hot chocolate and cookies. About the space stations that offered me a place to rest and about all the beautiful places I’ve seen during my travels. I talk about friendly earthlings who supported me although they didn’t always understand my language and about the love that kept my engine going somehow. Gratefully I tell my reflection about how lucky I am to be able to afford therapy that helps me with settling in on the planet I chose. The beautiful things, the lovely people and my own fighting spirit are still here although I don’t have to float in space anymore.
Maybe I just advanced strength as a child which I can now recharge as an adult. Maybe I will travel again but voluntarily and with a map that warns me about black holes before I have to pay a toll. Maybe I will have other astronauts as company so that I won’t be alone if I encounter yet another unfriendly planet. And maybe the person from my dream was right back then when we talked about the future a lifetimo ago…