Self-Love and Ghosts From the Past

It was Christmas Eve and my husband and I do what all fun loving, party animals do on Christmas Eve. We visited with friends, then came home by 9:00 pm and plopped down in front of the television.

It wasn’t long before I heard my husband’s soft snore and the old holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, began to air. There are many adaptations of this movie and that night, the 1957 black and white rendition featuring Alastair Sim was showing. Now these old movies can be extraordinary in their cheesiness, and this film was no different. If you are in the right mood, there is humor that can be found in how campy this movie is.

You have the serious voice of the man who is narrating, “Ebenezer Scrooge was a miserly man indeed,” and that old school soundtrack that where you hear the choir of violins escalating in pitch to indicate trouble was brewing. This movie is an all-natural cure for insomnia that is more effective than watching the golf channel.

Now have you ever had a dream that was so real, that you were later sure that it must have been?

As I was sitting there watching, I sensed another person was in the room with my husband and I. I turned to the left and looked at the love seat that was between the sofa I was on and the recliner my husband was in and there before me, I had my own Jacob Marley. Only I wasn’t afraid because my ghost wasn’t old and decrepit like Jacob Marley. My ghost was adorable. She was a younger, five year old version of me.

I was really excited. It felt like I had discovered a long lost friend and I was overwhelmed with joy. I went to her, dropped to one knee and took her in my arms and for a minute or two, I just held her. She had a warm welcome smile and all the innocence of youth about her. I had not realized how much I missed her.
“It’s been too long,” the little voice said to me. “Let’s sit and reminisce.”

We took a seat and she had a photo album in her hand. We were both smiling when she opened the first page. There was a picture of me sitting in a swing on the playground by my house in Pennsylvania. I was probably about 4 years old and I was fast asleep in the swing. I remembered begging my mom to push me a little more, and a little more. She pushed that swing until I had fallen asleep then took the picture. This memory made me feel safe and warm.

The next picture was of my fifth birthday party. My mother had made a tiger cake for me and all my friends were there as I was blowing out the candles. I was in my Mary Poppins dress and I remembered feeling very loved.

When we turned the page once more, my smile started to fade. It was my school picture from when I was eight years old. I had gone to a private school that year and although I was what one would call a “major goodie two shoes to the extreme”, one day during this school year, I had been called into the dean’s office and told I was no better than a common harlot because the skirt I was wearing was more than one inch above my knee.

“This is when I first started to believe that there was something wrong with me,” I said flatly.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that and I want to thank you so very much for experiencing that,” said the younger version of me. I looked at her quizzically and she continued. “You see, the reason that felt so uncomfortable and wrong to you is not because you were wrong. You just picked out a cute skirt with no thought of boys at all. What was wrong was the man. He may have devoted his life to God, but he was just a man and he was wrong. Because you allowed us to experience that, we learned that you can’t blindly believe or follow what another says, and trust me, that saved us from many mistakes that would not have been good for us at all.

I felt a little better as she turned another page and revealed a picture of me as a cheerleader in high school. This once more brought up conflicting feelings. I was next to another cheerleader, a girl that threatened to beat me up in eighth grade because she thought her boyfriend liked me. At the time, being bullied seemed like further proof that there was a problem with me so while I try to hold onto the good memories, the feelings that came up from that time period were not good.

A sweet voice broke through my thoughts. “Thank you so very much for allowing us to go through that. We were part of the popular group but I know how alone you always. You never felt like you fit in and I was there to feel how painful that was. Yet it is because of this that you became a leader, thinking on your own and making your own choices. We would have become one of the crowd otherwise, giving in to peer pressure.

She flipped the page once more, showing me a picture of me getting married. I just started laughing. We both did. It could be easy to look at that as a big mistake and something to regret. Especially if you knew how all that turned out. Yet I have my son, who I adore with all my heart. It was easy to look at that “mistake”, my first wedding, as a blessing.

Five year old me looked up at me with bright shining eyes and whispered, “thank you. All the things you have gone through. All the choices you may sometime wish you had not made, they all allowed us to become who we are. You have been braver than you know and smarter than you think. If you ever feel the tug of regret, always remember how much I love and appreciate you and just shout at that stupid old feeling, “Bah Humbug!”

With that the little girl was gone, my husband was still in his chair, which was no longer vibrating and Ebenezer Scrooge was looking quite pale. I reflected for a moment on this dream or vision I had, feeling something new. Feeling a glow of self-love that was stronger than I had ever felt before and I thought isn’t this the best Christmas gift ever?
As I awoke, I felt truly awakened. I realized that the way I thought about my past created my beliefs about myself, my value and my worthiness. I also realized that if I would look back and find the golden nugget in each of the memories that made me currently feel bad about myself, I could use those memories to make me feel good about myself and all I have accomplished. I also realized the importance of forgiving others, and especially myself.

I did fall back asleep and met the ghost of Cassi present and the ghost of Cassi future, and I will share what those dreams taught me in my next blog.

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