My Banging-Around Heart: Growing Up Unseen.
Most of my childhood memories involve me being alone, in an unseen kind of way.
Did you grow up like this? If you did, then you know, both the clawing desperation and detached comfort of being solitary at the same time.
You see, when you grow up unseen, you develop a hole in the place that holds your heart, leaving it to bang around as it does, chaotically. And the pain and anxiety involved in a banging-around heart are the kind of intolerable discomforts that need to go away.
If you grew up lonely, you make the anxiety go away by perfecting and maintaining the status quo. You become fraught to remain compliant, to stay small, to need not and certainly to ask not. You figure out just who and what you need to be because the only thing worse than being unseen is being seen.
And in doing that, your innate essence gets lost, never to realize its precious and matchless beauty, and any rare showings of its authenticity become mistrusted.
As an unseen child, you have an inordinate amount of time to create and explore an inner world of intricate and comforting fantasy to escape the pain of a banging-around heart. In this world, animals and other imaginary beings are your family and they actually touch you, and it doesn’t feel contrived or insincere.
In this world, princes come to your rescue and whisk you away in a perfect pumpkin carriage to make you their best-friend-in-the-whole-world princess.
If you grew up lonely, with the freedoms and pressures of adolescence, you may have learned that there are many other ways to numb your banging-around heart. You likely realized that a benefit of being invisible is that it makes self-medication easy.
No one can smell the alcohol and the reefer; no one can see the cuts — even remarkably when the blood shows up on your clothes like jagged red flags.
By this time you’re already an expert at feeding the desperation for approval. But if you grew up lonely, then you already know this and I need not articulate all the ways you accomplish this.
As an unseen adolescent, your inner fantasy world is still a comforting escape from your banging-around heart, where the boys, who in reality treat you the way your self-abandonment dictates, are actually sweet and say nice things, and don’t run around with other girls knowing you’ll take them back if they act like they care, even just a little.
If you grew up lonely, by the time you are an adult, you have no idea who the fuck you really are. If you’re married, it’s probably to someone who doesn’t see you or who can’t love you because unconsciously, human nature has a funny way of attracting us to what is familiar.
And your self-abandoning desperation for approval has certainly not garnered their respect; personal experience tells me this for certain.
Maybe after all this time, you’ve grown attached to that banging-around pain because it allows you to maintain your attention-seeking in self-pity and victimhood. Ouch, does that resonate?
As an unseen adult, the coping mechanisms you’ve picked up along the way are undoubtedly causing some problems, and even in your fantasy world you cannot stop the pain and anxiety of your banging-around heart. You wouldn’t recognize your essence if it kicked you in the ass, and even if you did, you’d be convinced it’s untrustworthy.
But those are the exact things that you really need — to wake up, kick your own ass and trust it — because believe me when I tell you that no one else is coming to do it. No fantasy, no prince, no partner, no being. And I know this is not easy to accept or execute.
It is terrifying, arduous and painful work to discover, accept, and embrace all of who you really are, to let go of the story of being unseen, and to leave behind the paradoxical safety and comfort zone of your chaotic banging-around pain. It may feel insurmountable or impossible to believe that you can pull this off, but without a doubt, I know you can.
And if you can muster to courage to start — just please start — to work at loving and forgiving yourself a little each day, something amazing begins to happen.
When you rediscover your true essence, perhaps seeing it for the first time, you are able to see the real unique perfection and exquisiteness of who you are, complete with flaws and imperfections, your heart grows.
That hole will always be there, but when you find the courage and you grow your own heart little by little, it fills that space, and it stops hurting in that chaotic, banging-around way.
Linda Blais is a phoenix, made of sun and stardust, doing her best to figure it all out on a perpetual journey of self-discovery and healing. When not working as an educator, she can be found in a journal, a book, a garden, or in her own world. Introspective, empathic and hopelessly romantic, she does her best to be a comrade to a collection of brethren black sheep and a haven for the despairing, the brokenhearted, and the fighters.