Last week I shared a photo (see below image on left) of myself at five years old in my new upstairs bedroom. You can see how confident and in charge I was feeling! Today I want to share a different photo, one where the seven year old me looks decidedly less smug and in charge (See image above and on the right).
On the back of today’s picture is my mother’s handwriting indicating this photo was taken at Senator Howard Buck’s home. In addition to Nicky (me), the photo features my 1 year old sister Nina and my 5 month old brother Nolan. Also identified are Linda (4 years) and Michael (5 months) Campbell. I have no memory of them so if either of them is reading this, email me!
When I look at my face in this picture, I imagine thinking: “Why can’t things be way they used to be when Howard (the important government official) and I celebrated our joint birthday without all these other people around?” Mom made it appear significant that he and I were both born on 10/10 and that this was a reason to celebrate.
The way I chose to manage what I felt were massive changes as a girl was to deny and ignore feelings. You can see how I’m doing this if you look closely at my face in the second picture. Little did I know that these unexpressed feelings would not go away. I did not learn how to express them so they were buried.
I did not learn how to have a positive attitude about change when my entire life was upended at age six. The other solution I chose to manage this dilemma was to be a good girl. This method also included stuffing my feelings. Keeping everyone happy. Maybe then things would be like they used to be.
Exacerbated change, like all of us are experiencing now, raises our concerns about health and safety, climate change, and fosters heightened sensitivity as those of us who are white people hear from others that we are not as objective or unique as we thought.
The only thing constant is change so I’m learning in psychoanalysis to notice how I respond to change, then determine whether my response hurts me or helps me.
Does your response to change help you or hurt you?
Please let me know how you are coping! It helps us all to feel not so alone. Thanks for reading and commenting.