For most children, childhood is a magical time where anything is possible. From pirates, unicorns, and Santa Claus, to Mom not noticing the clothes and toys shoved under the bed, anything can happen. Dreams are reality waiting to happen and summer days are filled with jumping on the trampoline and running through sprinklers.
For these children, growing up means letting go of Santa and the Tooth Fairy, but still holding on to the hope that Mom won’t notice the mess under the bed. Dreams are whittled back into “goals”, but still doable. Summers morph into a break from school and hanging out looking for cute guys (or girls), while hanging with the guys, or giggling with girl-friends. Mostly, growing up is exciting and fun.
These things are not the norm for every child. For some instead of pirates and unicorns, their days are filled with terrible villians and nightmares. Their foes that are all the more terrible because they are real, and they bear the name “parents”. Their nights are filled with loneliness. Confusion and fear fills their days and reaches into the center of their soul.
For them, growing up means instead of hiding clothes under the bed, they push memories far into the recesses of the mind, for that is the only way to survive. Coming-of-age means learning to live The Lie of Normalcy, smiling on the outside, while awash with pain inside. I wish I didn’t know that pain; I wish no child did.
For children with magical childhoods growing into adulthood with all its hurts and bitter realities can be a jolt. This is the stuff coming-of-age stories are made of. However, for children whose lives were waking nightmares, growing up can be a release, like Tinkerbell’s fairy dust that allows one to fly.
Flying is not easy. There are some falls, some bumps, some harsh winds that force you back, but if they persist, they can soar. I can soar too.
For me, to soar means I must first feel the pain that I once repressed. Once I feel it and mourn it, then I am finally able let it go. As I am able work free of that old pain, I feel myself lifting off the ground. The more I am able to heal from the past, the more I can trust the love offered me in the present, love from my husband, my children, and my friends. This love brings magic into my life and bathes me in moon beams.
I cannot stay in the air forever though; landing is necessary. Eating and sleeping are required. Landing can be hazardous. Old memories resurface, pain ignites, but the new memories of flying are still alive as well. Like a clumsy bird that needs a running take off, I work through the pain and once again lift off.
While soaring, I can see others who are wounded. I stop and visit them. I can’t teach them to fly. No one can teach another person to fly. The fairy dust must come from within. However, I can sit with them, and listen to their stories. I can let them know that I care. If they ask I will share my story. I will tell them how I learned to fly. Someday, when they are ready, they will fly too. Like a flock of geese we will fly together, taking turns being in the lead, calling out encouragement to each other. Most importantly, we will not be not be alone, we will face our fears and we will soar!
Through breaking free of the pain and learning to fly, we create magic. The magic that we missed as children, but revel in now: our own magical healing place, our own Neverland.