Her presence is just out of reach. I try to access her inside of my head, but I do not know where she is. All I know is that I am waiting for her to come out of hiding, so that I can write down one of her stories.
The little girl inside of me is small, but her story is big. There are lots of feelings. I struggle to access any of them. For either of us.
Wooden words scratch from pen to paper, from paper to laptop, as I hunt. Rote memorization and reiteration of the facts I have always been told are a beginning. They are not enough. The room where she hides is closed and locked. I search for the key.
I am preparing one of the little girl’s stories for the first of four trips to the Allender Center at the Seattle School where I will share it with others. She wants to come along, and I would like that. My fear is that she will not show up when I need her.
This little person is difficult to access and hard to find. The expert hider has gone quiet. When she goes quiet I have to wander around inside and search for her. Why is she so difficult? Why does she need this attention?
Frustrated because it takes time that feels scarce, I force myself to sit quietly and invite her to show up.
She appears after some time and coaxing. We sit together. I listen. I need this from her, her words. I need to trust her, but I do not see how I can. Trust is a precious commodity in my world. I do not have much left, and after listening, I fact check. I just cannot trust her.
The facts check out.
What does the little girl want? What do I want? I think it might be the same thing.
She wants to join me on this trip. She wants to be seen and heard and understood. She wants care and tending. I want a guarantee that she will show up. She cannot promise. I begin to worry and question and doubt.
The intersection of her desire and my demand feels cumbersome. She stands her ground. I give her a choice. Packing her story in my bag, I wrestle with good enough and just let it be.
Come along, Little Girl.
I still wonder, though. Will she be good enough? Her offering feels thin. Her story, not the right one. I place hope in those who will join me in group along with the one who will lead us. I do not even know them, yet. I choose to trust them with her anyway.
In the quiet space where we gather. I sense my turn to share. The little girl nudges me towards my bag, confirming the hunch. I pull her chosen story from its plastic sleeve and wonder what will happen.
Breathing in deeply, exhaling slowly, I begin. When the first word leaves my lips, my hands begin to shake. The room grows cold, and I feel small as the little girl’s story unfolds. She wants to be seen, and is shocked when the eyes in the room see and notice her. They are kind, quiet, and still. There are no demands. There is only love and care and safety.
I look up with tears rolling down my face and dripping from my chin to meet the faces looking back at me. Sacred stillness invites the little girl inside of me from her hiding place. I brought her along with me and gave her the freedom to make a choice. It is time for her to choose.
She shows up and sits down to meet the eyes of those faces who hear and trust and believe her. They see and speak to her, and I hold her close to my heart and thank her for showing up.
She decides to stay awhile.
Julie McClay lives in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley with her high school sweetheart (and husband of 24 years) and 5 of their 8 children. She is learning that while it can be painful to face the past honestly while living in the moment and looking towards the future, it can be healing and lead to the hope of a brighter future. She digs through these thoughts and feelings here.