Last night I couldn’t sleep. For some reason, I kept thinking about a punching bag—one I had beaten for close to 10 minutes straight without a break. When I couldn’t possibly throw another punch, I held the heavy bag. When I say I held it, I mean I flat-out embraced it with every bit of energy I had left. I rested my head on it and sank to the padded floor. My throat was sore, and my voice was hoarse from screaming at the very bag I was now holding. “I hate you” and “What is wrong with you?” were two I remember clearly. But now, as I kneel on the ground, I yell, barely louder than a whisper. My stretched vocal cords strain to communicate my pain: “I shouldn’t have to be here.”
A lot is packed into that phrase, and I dissected it last night sometime between the hours of 1:00am and 4:00am. I didn’t mean I shouldn’t have to be in a padded room with a punching bag, although that was true. I didn’t mean that I shouldn’t be locked up in a hospital trauma unit in Washington D.C. (that part was partially true). I meant I shouldn’t have had to be that angry or hurt. I shouldn’t have had to feel so alone. I shouldn’t have experienced what I did—been doubted, quieted, punished, or shamed because of it.
Do you know what I can’t do at 1:00am when I can’t sleep? Try to fix that scene. Amazingly, I didn’t try to. Instead, I realized I was experiencing the same feelings. The Becks beating the stuffing out of the heavy bag was hurting and afraid. She was a small child throwing a temper tantrum to be noticed and understood. She didn’t know what to do, so she yelled, screamed, hit, and then cried on the floor. She had no idea how profound that moment would be NOW.
Fast forward a bit. It’s 2:00pm. I just got out of bed not that long ago. My head hurts because I haven’t had water or my meds. My eyes are nearly swollen shut. I can’t speak. I just beat the stuffing out of myself and someone else. I didn’t have a heavy bag to hang onto though, so I went to the bathroom and washed my face. I looked up into the only mirror in the house and saw my pupils, almost as small as a pinpoint. I was angry and sneered at the face looking back at me. I whispered, “I don’t see you.” I don’t even know why I said it. The next thing out of my mouth was “you’re old.” Thanks a lot. That was mean. I’m literally 40 years old.
I looked deeper into my eyes, and I saw her—the little girl. She’s the only little girl I see without having ever seen a picture of her. She is beautiful. Her hair is so blond it is almost white. Her eyes are hazel but appear a brilliant blue to match the sky on sunny days. She is about to get into the truck for church on a bitterly cold day. I can’t see her dress, but I know she is wearing one. Her tights and girly shoes give that away. She is wearing a white faux rabbit fur hat, coat, and muff. She smiles.
My 40-year-old face reappears. My skin is broken out and deep wrinkles cascade from the outside of each eye and my mouth. My eyes are bloodshot, and the bags under my eyes are more puffy than normal. My hair, despite trying to fix it, hangs limp on the sides and sticks up on top. I am tempted for a minute to tell that 40-year-old just how much I hate her, and then I realize that the beautiful little girl and the 40-year-old are the same. “So, it is you after all.”
Little Becks doesn’t show herself very often. She has an army of soldiers keeping her in the shadows where she can’t be hurt—where she can stay innocent and unharmed. The 40-year-old wears the scars of both the soldiers and the people they couldn’t quite hold back. I don’t blame them. They have quite literally done everything to keep Little Becks safe. And as I look at the age on the face in the mirror, I see just how exhausted they—the soldiers—are.
“I hear you. I see you. I’ve got this, let me handle it.” I’m not little. I don’t need to throw a tantrum to be heard or seen. I need only to be myself. And just like that, I don’t have to say, “I shouldn’t be here.” I’m not holding onto the punching bag anymore. I am here, in the present, and it isn’t that bad. It’s just another day. Another challenge. Another chance to let self show up.
So, I sit here now with some strong emotions that I refuse to numb or suppress. I look like a hot mess. No, really, I do. But I’m not a hot mess. I’m Becks.
Thank you for the food, water, and space, Tim.
Thank you for the space and for helping your dad, Ian.
Thank you for the call, Michele.
Thank you for enjoying my memes and sharing your own vulnerabilities, Lisa.
Thank you for making the reservation, Yvonne.
Thank you both for being you, Lindsay and Laureen.
Thank you for your patience and acceptance, Dr. C.
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