Over an eight-year time span, I unpacked secrets hidden deep in my mind. Some secrets were repressed and some were just sitting in storage, never meant to be unpacked to see the light of day. But for me, I had to make the choice to face, process, accept, and resolve my past so I could continue to heal.
Throughout those eight years, I had given my therapist many, many things that I had saved from my childhood. Some of the items were pictures, a baggie of dirt, rocks, pieces of jewelry, gifts that identified places I had been, and a wooden baseball bat.
I saved all these things because I thought they were proof of what happened to me. I thought they were my smoking guns. My therapist described them as my breadcrumbs. He believed I unconsciously (and consciously) kept these mementos to help lead me back to my repressed past. When I would bring my “breadcrumbs” to him we would talk about them in detail. I got to a point with each one that I no longer needed them in my house.
One day I brought him a heavy, professional grade bat that had been in my childhood home since the 70’s. This bat was my protection against the people I thought would come for me in the middle of the night. From the time I was young and for many decades since then, that bat lay under my bed.
The day I brought the bat to my therapist’s office I felt ready to relinquish it. I knew I had to learn to trust that I was safe in my home from past perpetrators. We talked a lot about the bat, and that day, feeling extreme anxiety, I left it with him and successfully learned how to fall asleep without that professional Brooks Robinson bat under my bed.
That was four years ago…
Last night I met with my former therapist for a quick post-therapeutic check-in. After 8 1/2 years of intense therapy, I still reach out from time to time. When we met he said, “I have something for you.” He handed me a piece of that old bat that he has sculpted into a wonderful and practical piece of art.
I was stunned! I just assumed he got rid of it. I didn’t think I would ever see any of my breadcrumbs again. They had met their purpose. I was able to give them to someone who completely “witnessed” my story and taught me the tools to feel safe.
Also, one day after giving him the last of my hidden items, (not the bat) he said, calmy but very assured, “There is your smoking gun.” That was the moment I felt free from needing anything to prove the what, where, who and how of my past.
Even though I felt immense relief when I gave up my squirreled away mementos, there were a couple of items that I still thought about every now and then. The things that I felt had empowered me. The bat was definitely one of them. I knew I needed to give these things up to release the hold they had on me, and their association with the past, but every now and then I had a bit of nostalgia for some of the things that helped me feel safe.
Holding this beautiful piece of polished wood in my hand yesterday I felt so many emotions. I felt cared about, I felt a safe connection to someone who knows my whole story, I felt elated that I could see this transformed bat for its new purpose, and I felt a little like I got a piece of my warrior super-power armor back. I don’t need it to protect me any longer, but it’s a wonderful feeling to look back with pride for how far I’ve come and to also acknowledge all the fabulous ways my mind helped me create a sense of safety during decades of living in fear.
From a hurt child’s object of protection into a practical piece of art, my professional Brookes Robinson wooden bat will continue to provide me with a sense of peace.
Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph