Goodbye, Mary Jane!

MaryJane1I have been holding onto this since the age of four. After a pretty emotional EFT session to release this episode which has not exactly been serving me over the vast number of years since it occurred, I bid a teary goodbye to the baby doll that I loved so dearly as a child, Mary Jane.

Mary Jane was a beloved companion and friend. After being the first and only child for two years of my life and having become quite accustomed to it, I was now sharing the spotlight with a younger brother. As you can imagine, he got the lion share of attention during that time. As a four-year-old, it is difficult if not impossible to process what it means to be abruptly usurped. For years, I had the recurring fantasy of being an only child. This fantasy persisted even after siblings two and three arrived and for many years thereafter.

Mary Jane was a lifeline though I could not have articulated it at the time. In hindsight, I can now see all that I could not then but the one thing I did know was that Mary Jane meant the world to me.

As you might imagine, this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

One afternoon, just before my brother’s nap, he commandeered my Mary Jane. To this day, I do not know why. I have no recollection of him eyeing her up before, waiting to exploit her. Nor can I prove that what happened next was an act of jealousy over the one thing I loved best that perhaps took too much attention away from him. My brother did go on to have a thing about dolls for a while until the phase eventually passed so maybe it was as simple as my brother liked dolls. Nevertheless, on that fateful afternoon, he desperately wanted to nap with my Mary Jane. My mother thought this cute. I am sure that she believed it was a fair exchange for getting my brother down. I am sure that she needed the break too. She handed him my doll over the rail of his crib as I was begging her not to. I was crying and pleading to please not let him have my doll. I sensed danger, don’t ask me how. I just knew it was the wrong thing to do. Mary Jane was my responsibility. It was my job to keep her safe. My mother wouldn’t listen. She said it would be fine. She seemed not to see or hear me at all.

In the end, I failed to protect Mary Jane. When my brother awoke from his nap, she had become collateral damage. He somehow managed to destroy her, ripping the stuffing from her plump little body, a vicious attack from a self-centered two-year-old with a lack of regard for anyone else. I am not sure how he managed the strength to penetrate the flesh of my precious baby to find her vulnerable center and expose it so cruelly. I realized in that moment that my previous instincts were dead on. I felt this coming and my own mother refused to heed my warning, placing my brother’s wants before my need to save my best friend.

I blamed her, the mother who would not listen and thought she knew best. I hated her for discounting my own primal gut instinct and putting her own needs before them. I remember that she was dutifully apologetic and tried her best to sew Mary Jane back together. She even gave her a haircut because some of her hair was pulled out as well but it was too little, too late. Mary Jane was never the same after that and neither was I. That afternoon profoundly changed us both and we both so totally unprepared for it. Soon after the incident, I turned my back on Mary Jane. The reminder of what happened when I looked at her was too much to bear. I am not sure what happened to her after that but I am pretty sure that my mother threw her away. That pain was never reconciled.

For decades, the incident haunted me. I never said goodbye to Mary Jane but I refused to let her go. My shame over what happened kept her alive in my body and mind. How could I reject her just because she was broken? She was still my beautiful Mary Jane despite the trauma. Why did I turn my back on her and what kind of person did that make me? I also never forgave the mother who would not honor my own gut instinct and instead waved me off as a silly child. How many times do we do this to children, misguidedly thinking that we know best? For years, I chose to place all the blame on someone else but I eventually chose to face my own culpability.

Until now I never even voiced the pain behind it all and what it has meant for me. I have held onto at times excruciating pain in my body that had no obvious origin. With the help of EFT, a type of tapping meditation that falls under the realm of energy psychology, I set out to release the emotions connected with this experience and all the somatic manifestations that went along with it. The first thing that came up was my resistance to releasing it. This story was a big part of my identity and I was afraid of who I would be without it. I kept tapping through it because I knew that the price of holding onto it was far greater than letting go. I forgave my mother and brother for their parts in the incident and I took responsibility for my choosing to let it affect me all these years. Most of all, I said a proper goodbye to Mary Jane, the doll I loved so dearly who once upon a time, was such an important part of my life. There were more tears than I care to admit along with some embarrassment about crying over something that happened so long ago but it doesn’t matter how old the hurt is, it can still be released, even years later.

Published in That Odd Mom

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