Nobody keeps baby in the corner…

Our little family has changed a lot in the last two years as well. We added Georgia to our family. Del and I struggled in our marriage as we tried to figure out how to go from two people to four (I highly recommend marriage therapy). We left our church of 10 years, and are working to settle into a new church family. My mother and father-in-law moved to be closer to us, and I have never felt more consistent love from my family.

Yet inside of my body I feel so incredibly lost. Someone at work told me they were going to start looking for a new job. When they told me that it caused a spark inside of me that is gradually turning into a brush fire. I applied to a different job within the same company and start next week. When I told my boss that I was quitting my job she asked me why. I told her, “because I haven’t thought about myself in the last four years.” It hasn’t been four years, it’s been 35. Without consciously realizing it, most of the moves I made were to keep myself safe from others.

My childhood was hard. Most days we didn’t know what it was going to be like when he came home. Would he come home with a new movie and we’d get to watch something Disney on VHS? Or would he come home screaming and yelling at us? I quickly learned that the easiest way to survive was to be perfect. It’s hard to be mad at a little girl when she’s getting straight A’s, running lots of clubs, and getting a master’s degree in her twenties. I did it all so he would love me, but he hasn’t called me to check in since… I can’t remember when? It turns out when people are screaming at you it’s really about their pain and not the things you were doing. Why am I living this life pleasing people who don’t care if I’m happy?

I’m trying to figure out what my happy is. I bought a singing bowl in Ann Arbor to practice meditation. Del and I are going to Utah on a spiritual retreat in September. I’m going to try a pottery class in a few months. I’ve been completely changing how I style my hair every single day.

It turns out the little girl who is scared and hiding never fully got to come out. She was trapped in the corner just trying not to get yelled at. I’m trying to let her out more and more and see what she wants to do. Today, she wanted to write this and so I did.


In kindergarten we had a special speaker come in to talk to us about good and bad touching. We were told to just say no, and that if an adult touched us in a bad spot to tell our parents or someone we trusted. At five I remember thinking, “But, they’re adults.” Although I could not vocalize it then, I remember knowing that older people have more power. What our kindergarten teacher did not know, was that I was already a victim of an adult’s power move.

Instead of leaving the talk feeling safe I remember feeling guilty. Perhaps if I had said no that would have worked? Perhaps if I had just told an adult sooner that would have done something. At five, I knew power, and guilt, and that sometimes evil people win – and there is nothing we can do about it.

I started seeing a counselor two months ago. Since having Carly I have been having panic attacks at work and at home. I will get an email, my heart will start racing, and a panic attack begins. I had one last week driving to work when I got stuck in traffic, and I had another two days ago when my husband tried to help me when I was cooking.

Post traumatic stress disorder.

My entire life I assumed I was a naturally anxious person, and felt bad about my reactions to every day scenarios. I thought I was weak for my little freak outs. I get up at 5am, never miss a day of working out, chart my day religiously, and organize my world to a meticulous degree.

Having a baby has a way of throwing off your game. I knew going into parenthood I would need to get better at adapting to the unexpected. My friends kindly joke that I’m going to have to learn to be better at letting go of my plans (they’re right).

But let’s be fair here.

Some people get the glorious luxury of traveling through most of their lives thinking the world is a safe place. Many people get to go to age thirty before they find out about things that go bump in the night.

I was five. What they stole from me was more than innocence. They stole, for the rest of my life, that feeling of safety that allows most people to float through the world with a deep sense of trust that everything will be ok.

For the last 20+ years I have not operated in the mind set of “everything will be ok.” I operate in the mindset of “Have a back-up plan for your back-up plan.” In my patterns and plans I have found safety. I use to feel like a terrible person for being so well planned. Friends are comfortable with adapting and going with the flow. When others change plans on me it sends my heart racing.

But how could my heart not race? There was a time when the world was safe, and that was unfairly stolen. Not knowing what else to do, my beautiful and adaptive mind created a universe where I could live safely. My spreadsheets kept me warm at night. My charts tucked me into bed. When I look back at what I created without knowing why, I stand in awe of myself.

But then – Carly happened.

I look at Carly and see the world as it should be. Her world is safe, everything is new, and no one wants to hurt her. Seeing lights turn on is a magical event that for which we should charge admission. I want to be better, so Carly can keep seeing the world in a safe way that I can hardly remember experiencing. My old patterns (sigh) – I’m working to let them go.

I am trying to plan less, and be more free. I am trying to adapt when all I want to do is hide in the closet, because no one can hurt me when the doors close. Life does not exist in the dark where no one can hurt us. Life exists where there is light. Slowly but surely, I’m flicking the switches to turn the light back on. And I have sweet little Carly for showing me that everything will be ok.

Give me grace to get there. Help me to trust that this world can be safe.