ALICE AND A WEDNESDAY

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I was born on a Wednesday and you know the poem about the days of the week? Well, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” It was my mother who told me that when I was a kid. And growing up I was. Full of woe. No one was more woeful than I. I felt like an alien on this planet and didn’t know where to turn. My parents just thought I was a drama queen-my mother actually believed I was just a good actress and phony-and so they didn’t “get” me and were no help at all. In fact their attitudes made things worse for me. The one place a child expects to find solace and safety is in one’s parents and I never had that. I felt abandoned from a very early age. And like an oddball. Children desperately want to belong somewhere-anywhere-and I never fit in. In later life I came to appreciate all those qualities in me that made me unique, but as a child they were an impediment.  So feelings of isolation and depression descended upon me very young.

I spent a lot of time in solitude and had a rich fantasy life. I called it “pretending” and I thought there was absolutely something wrong with me for my need for it. It was my first addiction and I needed a fix several times a day. My fantasies were mostly scenarios where I got a lot of attention from older people and felt very safe. I always felt exposed and in danger, but in my fantasies I was taken care of and loved unconditionally. I could trust. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? I felt joy in my pretending. I never felt it in my life. That  is woe. And I had it in spades.

Years later, when I was in my 40’s, I saw what  great parents my sister and her husband were and I so envied their children. They could trust that they were supported emotionally and when they got scared there was a place to go. When I got scared as a kid, I was always sent back to my room, always dismissed, left to sit alone in my fears. It took me a very long time to trust anyone and I learned very well how to keep secrets. My mental illness was a secret for a very long time. I am still learning how to trust. I was taught that to survive one must hide one’s truth. Being authentic is now another lesson for me to learn. But I am learning. And I am no longer stuck in Wednesdays.

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