I have been in therapy for several years, and when I began, was well able to recount horror stories from my childhood, but through a filter of sorts, the safe haze of dissociation, which had served me well as a little girl. I am grateful for that safe haven, but as we know, that kind of haze doesn’t forever protect us. At some point it no longer serves us. The numbness in my spirit ever present as I began to walk through life as an adult became maddening, a silent scream that echoes through corridors of places within that were at once familiar and unknown to me.
When I was 9 years old, I remember vividly a “dream” in which I died. It was a night that my stepfather was in the next room beating my mother, and I was lying so still even my breath barely made my chest move. There was always a silence that fell after he had beaten her. In that silence, I waited. In the silence, I imagined he had killed her, and that he would come to kill me. Often he did come to my room, sometimes to punish me, sometimes to touch me. The night I was sure I had died, I was waiting. I saw myself floating away, a small girl in a white dress, with tears that flowed down her cheeks that I could almost feel on my own face. Hot, fat tears that seemed they could flood my room but dissipated before hitting the floor. She looked at me and I felt her anguish as she slowly shook her head. She didn’t speak to me, but her eyes kept flowing with those tears and bore into mine and I knew she was telling me that she died, and couldn’t come back ever again. I am not sure at what point she was no longer me, but when I finally was aware of the footsteps coming down the hall and my bedroom door opening, she was gone.
I now know that she lives in a white room, where she sits, facing a white wall, a pure, lovely little girl, who only glances over her shoulder when her door opens. She believes she is dead. She is one of many little girls in white rooms who exist…where? In my mind, my spirit, as a part of my soul? I became aware of each of them at different times as I began walking through the stories of my childhood and connecting to them, the little girls who carried the burden of the pain, terror, shame, rage, of those times until they couldn’t any more, and they left.
During an EMDR session, I often walk down the white corridor and somehow know which door to open for the little girl I need to help me tell the story through her eyes. I know that these little girls are me, the parts of me who couldn’t stay. They absorbed all the pain they could, and took their leave, to stay within those rooms, white, pure, safe. The work that I do in this healing journey is to connect to them, see them, hear them, and do my best to assure them each that they are safe, and that I honor them, and will keep them safe.
Some of the doors will have to stay shut, as I tuck them each back in and leave them, but some have been left ajar for me, and some of them now have windows and sunlight streaming through, which is promising. It is my hope that one day soon, after I’ve met them all, that all of the doors will remain open, and the little girls in white will be free.