because you did not want to drink half a bottle of wine before work, stuff yourself with blueberry crumb cake & spaghetti noodles, or dig into your skin with scissors meant for clipping cuticles, you find an empty plastic box, collect a hot glue gun & swarovski crystal rhinestones & ribbon, paper & buttons & feathers, & wander the children’s aisles of k-mart for far too long for the perfect tiny trinket. sunday night, listening to van morrison’s astral weeks on your new stereo, you construct your crisis survival kit of things to ground you when you dissociate & are unable to find your breath: mints, a purple microfiber cloth with a scratch pad, a bottle filled with aromatherapy beads that look like ruby fish eggs & smell like your mother’s home, van morrison’s moondance, & ten rainbow-colored note cards with ten positive affirmations it takes you three days to compile, statements you rummage from various places on the internet because you cannot allow yourself to think the affirmations on your own–crap about “it” not being your fault, you being worthy of love, & your dumb inner child.
when you open the package of your tiniest pet shop toys from k-mart, you do it slowly, carefully, your fingers slow against the smooth plastic of their big bobbling purple heads. you stare at them for a little while, lost in their big, weepy blue eyes, then you wrap them in the microfiber cloth & do not look at or touch them again, wedging them into the corner of your box.
at your next appointment with G, you drag the box along, hiding it in a canvas bag so that no one can see what you’re carrying or ask questions about it, but as you sit in the waiting room, you want people to ask, & you want to tell them, i don’t want to talk about it. G doesn’t ask about the bag when you go into her office & you think maybe she’s mistaken it for an ugly purse, so you say, i brought the box. when you open it, you drop the affirmation cards carelessly on G’s desk, saying, i’m not even looking at these today, & you know you sound like a brat but you don’t care. she picks up the cards & glances through them, reading some aloud, then says, you should be reading these every day until you know them, & i don’t mean just the words. especially today.
but you are already moving on, unfolding the microfiber cloth & setting the littlest pet shop toys on her desk. your voice shakes when you talk about the cloth, its softness & the circle of scratchiness, & then you are moving onto the mints, the smell already rising up at you from the box–
what are these? she asks, & she is touching the mother bear’s ear to turn her by her big fat head, & you shrink. you stare at the bear, at the bear’s stupid baby bear, & you melt into a tidal wave of tears that is not short-lived, controllable, or easily dabbed dry by a kleenex. you know that after this, after this awful display, you can no longer hide behind your intelligence or the number of things cramping your schedule–if i didn’t have it all together, would i be having such smart thoughts? would i be able to do so many things?–because it’s out: no, you don’t “have it all together.”
& so here you are, no longer able to deny the gravity of the “it” that is not your fault, & you are forced to acknowledge the child who hated barbies because of their breasts & stupid panty lines, went with her father every tuesday to piano lessons after school, & was (is) worthy & deserving of love; who grew into a woman who has the right & ability to speak the truth of her abuse & to be heard, understood, believed, & supported; who can get through this; who treats every person she meets with respect, mercy, tolerance, & understanding; who sees the good in herself & others; who is thankful for this day; who will keep no more secrets; whose abusers chose to hurt her, therefore exonerating her from thinking it was her fault, that it doesn’t matter because it is in the past, that she deserves to be punished for what happened to her; who writes these statements on rainbow-colored note cards & hides them for a day when she can stand to look at them, which might be today. you acknowledge her, you allow her to sit beside you. she’s got you in her big weepy blue eyes, & you know now–after this display–that you cannot pretend, ever again, that you chose this, invented this, imagined this.
five days later, you take the cloth from the box, unwrap the littlest pet shop toys. the cool plastic of them tickles your palm; they are the first things you’ve really felt, really touched, all day, & you understand, now, the purpose of this box. & so you lay the baby bear down. slip the pillow under its head, cover it with its little blanket. you let the mother bear stand watch over her. you let her rest. you let her, this time, be safe.