There is a little girl in white who sits in one of the white rooms along the corridor, hands tightly balled into little fists. So much anguish being released into those hands, with the nails digging into her skin leaving half moon marks that hurt in a satisfying way, as she clenches and unclenches them. She is seven years old, and I only recently discovered her, that tiny version of me with the reddish brown curls that fell into her brown eyes because she was usually looking down, playing with paper dolls and singing songs with nonsense words, which she knew never mattered because nobody heard her songs anyway. That’s how I see her, in that room. I feel her with me more lately, and I have noticed, as I wake often through the night, that my own hands are clenched into fists while I sleep, making half moon marks in my skin. My forearms ache through the day, and it reminds me.
I found her when I was walking through the story of my day in court in one of my EMDR sesssions. She helped me remember playing with my paper dolls. I loved them. I played with them every chance I got, and used them to act out all the dreams and fantasies I had, and to make everything else in that world disappear. The day after I had to let the five year old take my favorite one, I sat on the living room floor, playing with the only girl paper doll I had left. I wanted the doll to sit on a little chair I’d made out of a tissue box, and tried gently to bend her stiff legs so she could. I wasn’t trying to break her. I just wanted her to be able to sit. Mom saw me doing that and grabbed the doll out of my hands and ripped her in two, saying, “You destroy every goddamn thing I give you.” I hadn’t remembered that before, and as I did, I felt a sadness wash over me that made me remember how alone and ashamed I felt, all the time, as a seven year old. I was the one ashamed, because I simply didn’t understand that bending my paper doll’s legs wasn’t the right thing to do, and I no longer had any girl paper dolls, only boys. Nobody ever bought me any more, and I never really wanted to play with the boy ones, because I couldn’t pretend I was any of them, so I never played with paper dolls again after that day. I miss them.
My seven year old girl in white also helped me remember the day she left me. I’ve always been confused about where I was sitting when my mother was driving me back home to live with Bruce again after court that day. I sometimes saw myself sitting on back seat next to my Barbie doll. But, sometimes, I pictured myself on the floorboard of the backseat curled up in a ball.
During my session, after I said, in my mother’s voice, “We are going to have to be extra nice to him, especially you, because you hurt him the most,” a long, anguished wail came out of me, and I saw her, my little seven year old in white, on the floorboard, and I cried with her, my entire body seized with her pain, hot tears flowing, fists clenched, curled into a ball, crying, over and over and over, “I don’t want to go home, I don’t want to go home, I don’t want to go home…” She knew that every bit of hope was gone, that nobody was ever going to help, and had the innate sense that things would get worse, and she simply could not live knowing those things.