Once upon a time in a hot, dry land lived a young girl with beautiful braids in her hair. These braids were neat, tight and straight. It never occurred to this young girl to ask herself if she wanted them or even liked them – it was just a part of her. If it wasn’t braids then it was a bun or even pony tails. It was a rare occasion that her hair was ever left flowing and free.
Each day she sat quietly on the floor as her hair routine took place. Her mom used either a plastic or metal teasing comb which had a pointed handle. It was used to divide the hair into sections. The young girl knew to sit very still (despite how many times it took) to create meticulous straight parts to form the creation of the day. If she squirmed or moved then it wasn’t unusual to be slapped in the head or hear cruel words spoken over her.
Once the style was complete it was a lovely masterpiece. Not one hair was out of place and it would remain that way until the end of the day. It didn’t matter what type of weather she encountered or physical activity took place – nothing could touch her glorious patterned hair.
This little girl also had beautiful dresses and outfits to wear each day. In fact her mom took very special care on what she wore and how she looked. Great pride was taken in how clean and neat and nicely dressed her daughter appeared. So much so that she even sewed beautiful clothes for her daughter to wear. She didn’t even realize how much this little girl loved the clothes that were made for her. Time spent together picking out fabrics, patterns and buttons were special for this young child that one day too soon would come to an end.
She learned very quickly that outward appearances were very important. Sometimes most important. It didn’t matter that she lived a life of pain and torment on the inside – it was perfectly acceptable – as long as everything looked good on the outside.
Once ready for the day she would go outside to look for an exciting adventure. The girl would use her imagination and visit faraway lands, or pretend she was the bionic woman and run as fast as she could down the street. Her favorite though was hunting for buried treasure. She was convinced there was a chest filled with jewels and gold coins somewhere either the front or backyard – and she was determined to find it.
She would play for hours and hours – sometimes with friends – or sometimes alone. It didn’t matter because she just wanted to disconnect from the horror that was her life. She was too young to differentiate between good and bad touch. The love and care that was bestowed on her in the morning for the most part eased the blow of punches and slaps that happened later in the day. She had no clue she was being conditioned to accept any attention paid to her – and accept it as normal. She loved her mother and wanted to be loved in return – so she did her very best to not make her upset.
She looked forward to the end of each day when her hair was loosened and immediately massaged her scalp to help stimulate blood flow and alleviate the ache that was left behind. It just felt sooo good when her hair was allowed to be free and fall naturally.
Years passed and the little girl grew up, and no longer wore braids or pony tails in her hair. It took a long time but one day the hits, slaps and punches finally came to an end. The cruel words and manipulation however did not. Just as she was fooled into thinking that good and bad touch were equal – she was tricked into thinking she had to accept cruel words and manipulation. That any relationship was better than none.
As the girl (now a woman) became healthier and stronger – the truth of their relationship became clear. It felt as though their connection began to crumble but the truth is that it was always on rocky ground. Her eyes opened and saw that love from her mom hurt. This girl also rejected it was okay for her mom to support and defend others who hurt and took advantage of her too. Love didn’t require that she continue to be treated poorly.
It broke her heart when she learned her mom lied and talked about her with others. This girl deeply desired unconditional love and loyalty but only received betrayal and judgment in its place. She cried the day she finally understood to heal she must let go. Their relationship was like the buried treasure and became something they just couldn’t ever find.
Sometimes recovering from abuse can be so confusing because parts of it are wrapped in what appears to be love. After a period of time you don’t know what is good and what is bad. Trying to salvage the good parts can be like picking pieces of rice out of sand. After many attempts you learn it’s actually laborious and futile and healthier to give up.
This girl also realized that somehow her whole life has been one continuous adventure. She has many times visited faraway places, became a super woman though surviving horrible abuse, and she also never stopped searching for buried treasure. It surprised her to find that the treasure was not buried in the ground but deep within her. She is mending the ache and pain that was left behind, and chooses to live each day with her hair flowing and free.