Leanne Chapman

Psychologist

Shedding Skin

I live alone to recover. At times I feel like I’m still there in that old house and any moment she will come roaring through the door, assaulting my senses and my spirit, and I will recoil further into myself. She has been gone from my life for a very long time, and yet I’m still in hiding, mistaking solitude for safety.

I long for peace and quiet without expectations, and yet now I am in a place where I no longer need to tiptoe around for fear of attracting violent rage, where I don’t need to arrange the ornaments a regimented distance from each other, I take no pleasure in it. The pendulum has swung too far. There are no expectations on me at all now. I don’t have to please anyone, not even myself. I don’t have to pick up my clothes or answer the phone or go anywhere I don’t want to go. I don’t need to make small talk or bite my tongue around others because there are no others.

I am free at last, at least I thought I was. I thought this was what freedom looked like.  But this is impoverishment, subsistence. This does not satisfy the huge love and longing I had for life when I first arrived in this world. I want to belong, I want to matter, I want to dance through my days with laughter and companionship and fill my cup with colourful adventure.

This is not that, this is the in-between, where one goes to lick one’s wounds and heal. But you can’t convalesce forever. I have lingered too long, my muscles have grown slack and constricted.  The time has passed for taking stock and rebuilding. Stepping back into the world healed and whole requires trust, not so much of others but of myself.

I never learned to trust myself. I had every decision made for me,  and any I tried to make were deemed wrong and belittled.  They wanted control and they got it, but what a cost to me. I don’t trust this person that I am.

She doesn’t align with what I believe in or the values I hold. She does work I don’t enjoy, dresses in ways I don’t like, and has friends who don’t hold her closely enough. She is not me, she is some hybrid concoction made out of random materials and held together by a string of question-marks.

I don’t like the look or sound of her, she smells strange and tastes funny. She has no wings and can’t fly. How can I love her or trust her as I’m supposed to?

Rehabilitation requires shedding the old skin, becoming naked and vulnerable as I release this creature from the past, the caterpillar whose stories no longer fit, from chains that hem me in and constrict me until I can hardly breathe.

A butterfly is forming and her wings need the light of day so they can harden and become my true skin, one that fits, with colours that look like the me of today, not the embattled one of yesteryear.

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2 Comments

  1. Take off and just fly…….,

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