By Caysee Davis
A grief counselor once painted a picture for me.
“There is a little girl inside who is hurting, and wanting to be taken care of. She feels robbed of her childhood; she had to grow up way too fast. She’s sitting there on that curb with her arms crossed and she isn’t moving. It’s storming, cars are rushing by splashing mud all over her, and she isn’t budging. She’s waiting on that corner and she’s mad.”
That little girl is still there. Sometimes I meet her on that curb and tell her to come inside for a while. I don’t meet her there as often as I should.
I see her there now. She’s crying and I’m crying and we both just need some love.
Do you want to come sit on my bed for a while and share the sweatshirt sleeves? We can wipe the tears as they fall and the snot as it streams steady down our chins.
Grief is hard.
I grieve for the father who called me baby girl. The one who vanished at age 3 and left only skewed ideas of love and family and relationships. People leave. No one stays together. Love doesn’t last. Who left that little girl on the corner, cold, and wet, and muddy, left her like unwanted damaged goods only to be thrown in the back room and never seen again. Who left a little girl wondering what it was about her that wasn’t good enough. Worthy enough to make him stay.
That little girl moved on to a tiny apartments across the country at age 6 and watched her mother move on to Miller Lite.
I remember standing next to her hospital room knocking on the wall. My uncle knocking back because my mother was too weak. I never understood why they wouldn’t let me see her. Flash forward 7 years and I now understand why. After 2 more moves, nights of hearing my mothers boyfriend throwing her against the closet, more depression and eventually liver failure, I walk into her room as a 14 year old girl in the ICU and see a woman with yellowish skin, arms and legs small enough to fit in baby gap clothes, a stomach as round and protruding as a woman’s in her 3rd trimester, feet as swollen as balloon animals, and tubes, wires, drains attached to almost every foot of her body. That was my mother.
During and after her first hospital stay, my relatives told me things they meant for encouragement but unintentionally set me up for later extreme self-worth issues, like, “she’s staying strong for you,” “you’re the reason she’s getting better,” “she survived this because of how much she loves you!” But after the second hospital stay 7 years later, after she died, why wasn’t I enough this time? Why wasn’t I enough to make her stay strong, to make her fight more, this time? It led me back to that little girl on the curb who was wondering the same thing about her father. Why wasn’t she enough?
7 years, 15 days, a few hours later here we are and tears are still flowing and that little girl is still mad and waiting for someone to take care of her. A lot has happened in those seven years. One of them I spent in an emotionally abusive relationship, one spent wanting to die, one spent at house parties. The rest and the in-between I’ve learned and grown and blossomed. I can see the beauty now when I look hard enough.
I’m fighting the everyday battle of grief and the lies that say I’m not worthy staying for, that I’m to blame for all that’s happened. Not believing I’m good enough is a slippery slope that leads to relational issues that I’ve had to battle as well. Thankfully with a loving man beside me.
The beauty in all of this is each and every one of us gets to direct our own path. I choose my life. And I choose to overcome these thoughts of not being worthy so that I can let myself be fully loved. So when someone says I’m good enough, I believe it. So when someone says I’m not good enough, it doesn’t even phase me. So when I look in the mirror I love who I see. The process hasn’t ended and I’m not sure when or if it ever fully does but I do know it’s just one day at a time, one less negative thought, one less hour of feeling unworthy, that’s what growing looks like. And I’m growing towards love.