I ask my three-year-old self to show me her home, and she points to the floor beneath the formica-topped table in the kitchen. There, caged within the chrome legs of table and chairs, she is out of the path of adult legs, whose movements are as unpredictable as their moods.
I ask my four-year-old self where she feels safe, and she leads me out the side door, through the rose trellis, into the back garden, where snapdragons grow tall against the brick walls of the house.
Five-year-old me wanders out the back gate and across the farmer’s field, then through the woods, to the rippling waters of a creek.
In my dreams, I am always away from home, and it begs the question: When have I ever felt at home?
Born fifth of six children, raised in a house where alcoholism, and abuse were overshadowed by a terminally ill sister, I seldom felt that I was anything but a burden. I learned the best way to get along was to not need anything, and definitely not to cause a fuss.
I’ve worked through the many layers of childhood in therapy, and would think that much is behind me, except yesterday, in conversation about my mother, who has difficulty speaking up for her needs, my husband mentioned, off-hand, that she, like me, could do with assertiveness training.
Darn. Just when I thought I was getting the knack of it, there is more work to do.
Am I alone in this quest?
(Image my own)