By Grace Waldrip

Once in therapy I had a conversation with my seven year old self.

Not actually of course, but it was a close as humans can get without a technological marvel. Due to the lack of technology to make it truly real, what happened was that I picked out an object to represent young me. I chose a flower from my therapist’s vase. I put it across from me in a chair and attempted a conversation with myself.

I thought it was silly at first, just some more therapy bullshit that’s supposed to fix everything, but I was tired. Putting up a fight takes a lot of energy and I was not able to exert that much. I tried to speak to the flower a little, but it still felt off, so I closed my eyes. I waited a little while, took few breaths, then opened my eyes, and there she was. She was small (I’ve always been tiny), with tan skin from loving the outdoors (now I’m vitamin D deficient), with wild curls (mine are now red from angry, emotional dye jobs), and she was smiling freely (pre-braces) in that way that lights up an entire face and room (I can barely even give 1/6 of that smile on a good day now). She turned to me, and waited for me to speak.

When I eventually got the courage to speak to her, I spoke with so much sadness and guilt. She had so much, a loving family, a bright future, and the drive and joy to change the world. She did not spend days barely being able to get up due to the immense sadness she feels. She was not the one that wished and attempted to starve herself into oblivion. I was the one that made terrible choices, the one that ruined our mental health, our relationship with out body, and our connections with the people that love us.

The flower did not respond, and I did not really expect it to. Yet, I still felt that seven year old me was there and had her arms around me, comforting me. It may have been wishful thinking, but I felt she was absolving me of my guilt, and taking a portion of the blame as well. Her small arms surrounded me, and I felt her presence even after I left the room to go home.
I had never once cried during or after therapy, and yet, right after I got back home, I did. I cannot explain why, but maybe it was letting go of my guilt. Often, we judge ourselves too harshly. I too am guilty of that and carry my judgement with me everywhere I go. Sometimes it is suffocating, and I feel I’m drowning in myself.

I was allowed to take the flower home with me. I kept it in a jar of water in my room until its very last moment of life. It was all withered, dead, but it was still the most beautiful thing to me. Now I keep flowers in my room. I also always look out to the flowers in the garden that I try to help maintain. I’m even planning out what to plant in my family’s garden. I always try to surround myself with life now. During the day, I keep track of all the flowers I see. It may seem small and a little stupid, but it makes me feel a little bit better. And just for a moment, a weight is lifted off of me.

To me, and many others, growing up I was always called special, gifted, etc. and I always took advantage of my youth and the ignorance and inexperience that came with it. I often feel guilt about what I’ve down since I’ve grown up and feel I’ve let my ambitious younger self down. This is about letting go of that guilt and just trying to take each day as it comes.