"That's a lot easier said than done," Jill said. She reminded me that the "little me" each of us carries inside is that part that split off when we were very young due to a trauma, real or imagined. A trauma in which some part(s) of our core truth were labeled inferior, shameful, or just plain wrong.
"Little Will has spent a long time in the wilderness of your psyche," Jill said. "He's lonely. He's hungry. He’s scared. And he’s been that way for years. Getting to know him will require building trust, being patient and offering unconditional love."
I asked Jill where to begin.
"When I want to get to know some part of Little Jill, I see myself sitting in a rocker, gently moving back and forth. It's the way I used to calm my son when he was a baby. Quietly rocking. Back and forth. Until he was settled and felt safe. That's how I invite Little Jill. I offer her a place of love, stillness and peace. And when she's ready, she crawls up and shares whatever she is ready to share."
"Create such a space for Little Will," Jill said.
"But I've never had a rocking chair in my life," I responded, feeling a bit like Charlie Brown.
Jill chuckled (more Peppermint Patty than Lucy). "That's ok, be creative. The Universe likes creativity. Maybe a room…”
That was it. Yes, a room. And I knew precisely which one.
It was the bedroom my grandparents made for me when they left Dallas to return to Riverside, California in 1975. The room that looked out on the orange and lemon trees Granddaddy had planted. The room I first saw when I visited Gran and Granddaddy, all on my own, for their first Christmas in their new house. The room I visited only once before Granddaddy died of a sudden heart attack only three weeks after I returned home to Dallas.
I loved that room. I loved it because, at least for one visit, the grandfather I adored was right down the hall.
I loved it because, unlike my room back home, there were no monsters in the closet.
I loved it because, unlike my room back home, I was never sick in it.
And I loved that room because it had a small ceramic frog that sat on my bedside table. He was a silly frog with a silly grin, put there by my grandmother that first night in their home, my room. “Welcome Willo!” read the note under him.
Small, silly frog. Two words.
Sometimes in life it really is the little things, isn’t it? That bring stillness, love and peace.
It was attention to the little things that guided me in the late fall of 2006 as I set about creating my room from 1975. I put the twin bed against the wall so Little Will would feel secure. I opened the closet doors so he could see there were no monsters. I emptied the dresser drawers in case he wanted to stay for awhile. I turned on the bedside light so he could see. And, finally, I put the frog on the table so Little Will would know he was loved.
I told Gran and Granddaddy what I had done and why. And I waited. Every day, after I said my hellos to the Universe, I’d go down the hall of my grandparents’ 1975 house, turn left at the end and peek into the room.
Empty. Light on. No one home.
Until one day, as I made my way down the hall, I saw Gran standing at her bedroom door and Granddaddy shaving in his bathroom. He winked at me as I passed. Looking into the room, I saw Little Will, feet swinging off the side of the bed. He was holding the frog in both hands.
There was a, I’m not sure what, about Little Will. It wasn’t sadness. But it was something. Something that a little boy shouldn’t carry.
I walked in, closed the door and sat down on the bed. Without saying a word or even looking up, Little Will hopped off. I followed.
He reached to open the bedroom door. As he did, we stared out not at my grandparents’ hallway, but my childhood backyard on Lake Haven Drive. Hand in hand, we walked out between the switch bush and the crabapple tree.
So it began. The adventure of getting to know Little Will. And me.