Runaway Child, Running Wild …

This is part four of an exploration into how I navigated a recent difficult period. The first in this series is, Distorted Nostalgia.

girl in pink

"Runaway child, running wild …
Better go back home … where you belong …"

Temptations, 1969

From my journal …

My niece, wearing a pink outfit, is throwing up and running away ... from me. She has a bruise on her forehead. We were traveling together, and at some point she returns from the bathroom without her jacket – also pink. When I inquire, she said that she had thrown up. “On your jacket?” “Yes.”

Later she is upset at losing all that was in the jacket pockets – especially a photo of a young boy. The photo had been worn and creased, but it was all she had left and now it was gone.

At a restaurant, the staff helps her to escape. At first I say fine and leave. But at home I looked over all I had acquired for her. They were all inappropriate for a fun loving child. They were weights and tools wrapped up to look like gifts. I realized that I wanted her back so I went back and demanded her return.

I sit with the first message from this dream. My child self is not happy with what I have been feeding her (throwing up) and giving her (weights and tools). She was mad about what she had to give up and finally ran away. And I was fine with it until I looked at what I had been offering her. Then I realized what I had done and what she really meant to me.

The second message in this dream was where she chooses to run away -- a place filled with food. Aha! My runaway child is placating herself with food.

There is definitely a pattern here. My fire self, [the one who interrupts my quiet moments with the flame of anxiety and tension] is overbearing and pushy. My water self is rebellious and running wild. Ai yi yi, something has to give.

They are each overreacting, one to fear, the other to hunger. My fire self takes over at the first sign of chaos, loss of control and stress. I am afraid of losing ground to the chaos, the ten thousand things of life that haunts introverts like myself.

And whenever I succumb to the fear, a second reaction spills out due to my hunger for life itself. My water side rebels and starts me to binging to compensate – as if there will never be a chance again … to enjoy life.

Ah! The message of the dream I ignored comes dancing back before my eyes. I do not want to lose any more time, I feel like I have given up so much already, I do not want to miss out on the passion of living in the moment, not again, not anymore. I have been so sick for so long, enough with all this working hard all the damn time. And it does feel like a family curse, now that I think of it.

I sit with these realizations as tears well up and fall to my journal obscuring the words. When I can talk, I say out loud, “Please don’t leave me again … we will get through this together … I promise.”

Next … a dialogue … finally

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