I am the one who must catch all the mess in the bucket.
Literal mess: vomit.
Metaphorical mess: childhood abuse.
I created this SoulCollage card last March. It must have settled into my mind, slowly sinking into my subconsious, sliding this way and that along the pipes until it hit the lock to… well, everything, I think.
One night – I think it may have been in November – I got into bed and picked up my beloved copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves. That in itself was odd, since I typically do not read that late at night – my reading time is while the kids fall asleep. But almost the moment I opened the book, I felt a click in my heart as the information flowed into my conscious mind.
Vomit causes anxiety because I must catch it.
I must be ever vigilant in my vomit-watch, lest some not get caught.
I MUST CONTROL THE CATCHING OF THE VOMIT.
Oh. Ohhhhhh. OH. It is not vomit I must control at all – it is all the horrible things that happened to me when I was small. My childhood me is quite literally surrounded by puke – plastic garbage bags filled with it, tied in knots, stinking of alcohol, filling the bathtub and more.
It is not grown-up me who is trying to control sick – it is eight-year-old me, trying desperately to control anything.
I spent an evening throwing all the most significant memories I have of barf and my mother into a Word document. I woke up the next morning, eyes still puffy, head aching with the hangover of too many tears. Yet, somehow released. A little bit.
Now when the anxiety comes, I take deep breaths and visualize my childhood self being rescued into the loving arms of the woman who saves me. She cradles me in my mother’s stinky old plaid chair – the one her boyfriend pushed her into during a fight. This woman holds me and tells me it’s not my fault, that this is not OK. She convinces me to come with her. I do, but uncertainly. In fact, the first few times I visited this metaphorical place, we did not leave at all. She takes me to a place that is all white, and bathes me in an old claw-footed tub, in a room covered in tiny white tiles. She rubs my back and washes me, bubbles up to my chin. I feel, as a child, sort of numb. I wonder what my mother thinks – but I know that my mother is asleep in her bedroom and doesn’t know I’m gone. I wonder what she will do when she discovers, but that, too, I know – in this symbolic world, she will go back to her drink, and then to her bed, and she will sleep until the end of her life, partly relieved that I am gone so she doesn’t have to see me and feel guilty each day. My Savior Woman dries me off in thick, fluffy, warm, white towels. She tucks me into a bed and covers me in a fat, heavy, white down quilt. The sun shines in the window, cooly, as though on a winter’s day. I sleep.
I don’t know if this Savior of mine is Now-Me, or Mother Mary. I think I want her to be both.