The Little Girl in Me

I’ve been very sad today. I wasn’t sure why, but I think it has something to do with the little girl inside of me. She has taken care of me my entire life. Her tactics and methods were not always approved by others or even myself, but they have kept me alive.

Kimmie (me) realized by around age five, there was no one looking out for her. Her mom gone, her dad a shell, and her stereotypical stepmother were not there for her. Her brother was in the same boat, though much older and biding his time to get out of there. Her sisters, even older, shipped off to a relative, once removed. So she got up by herself (no alarm clock provided), watched TV alone, grabbed her sandwich off the counter, and got herself to Kindergarten. There was the one time when she missed the cue that it was time to go to Kindergarten–kids walking by her window–and she wandered the street scared, crying, unsure of what to do. Her dad showed up in his car, laughing at her tears and hugging her. That was nice. He showed up and did something about it, which was unusual.

This little girl became, or maybe already was, ultra observant. She had to figure out how to get her needs met, how to survive. She had to squelch the fear, loneliness, and feelings of being unloved. The only way she knew how was to escape into books and food. When she was cast into the spidery Michigan basement to sleep at night, she would stay up until all were in bed and stuff bread into her mouth and then sneak back downstairs. Escapism kept her from dwelling on the fact that no one made sure she showered, appropriately dressed, brushed her hair, and she became not only the verbal punching bag of her step-siblings but also of the school. She knew she was not valued or loved. She had to keep her head down and trust no one.

Just read and eat and watch TV. Those were her friends, and it worked. The little girl is now 50. But she is aware she is losing her control over the older Kimberly. That’s right; she even changed what name she goes by. The little girl knows she will have to go to her proper place, Kimberly’s memories, which is where she belongs. She is scared for them–Kimmie and Kimberly. She is scared that the new tactics Kimberly is learning to navigate life will fail, for they are mostly untested. She is sad that she is no longer needed.

Kimmie, this is Kimberly. I love you and am so proud of you for surviving. Thank you for getting me to this point in my life. I see you. I value you. I love you. You did all the hard work, and here I am, three children and two grandchildren later, finally, able to let you rest. I’m finally able to stand up and let my adult self take charge. You have been in charge for so many years out of necessity and then out of habit and fear. Now I say to you, “Your job is over, and you may rest in the love of the Father who created you. Thank you for stepping back to your proper place in my life. I love you.”


My Struggle is Okay

I’ve been struggling this winter, which left me feeling guilty. There are so many people without jobs, wondering where their next meal will come from, wondering when they will be kicked out of their home, and wondering what to do next as they lose their jobs and businesses. My husband and I have our jobs, we can work from home, and can choose to have “contactless delivery.”

I understand financial insecurity; I’ve been homeless. I know how scary it can be and how physically and psychologically harmful it can be to lose your home, sleep outside, and find your next meal. That makes me feel even more guilty for struggling so much.

However, I realize how much sense it makes for me to struggle during this time.

I was known as the box queen when it came to feeding my family. I would make Hamburger Helper, Buy 49 cent burgers and fries from a place long since out of business. I would make anything out of a box and didn’t cook a lot of things from scratch. I didn’t have time. I was a single mom, working full-time. Then I was a married mom, homeschooling, going back to school, and working full-time. My youngest child graduated from high school, I graduated from college, and for the first time in my adult life, I just had to work full-time. I started to learn how to cook at the age of 49. Then the pandemic hit, which gave me even more time as I wasn’t driving everyone to work or college. I tackled more complicated recipes, making them my own.

This mirrored what was happening to me mentally. My entire teen and adult life, I’ve been so busy that I didn’t have time to assess the damage of my traumatic upbringing. With more time on my hands, I’ve had two minutes to think, and that hasn’t always felt good. I started to feel more anxious. Add into that the pandemic, and I had outright anxiety attacks. I started seeing a therapist, which helped somewhat. I’m even contemplating seeing a psychiatrist.

With my family’s struggles with mental health, I’ve become quite an advocate for seeking professional help. Medication, therapy, prayer, they can all tie in together. My mantra is mental health is physical health. Our brains are a physical part of our body. I will say that for everyone else, but I’ve held myself to a different standard. However, with my current struggles, I’ve realized I need to advocate for myself as much as I do for my family members.

All this to say that everyone is struggling in some form. It’s okay to struggle even if someone else “has it worse than you.” No one has a perfect life; we all need Jesus. If you are struggling with mental health, please seek assistance. Start with your doctor, but if you do not have a primary doctor, you can start to find help with these two places:

But most of all, do not keep it inside. Find someone to tell of your struggles. You will find so many people struggling along with you. You are not alone.