There was a little girl whose world was full of holes.
Big ones. Small ones. Ones that only tripped up her foot. A bit like gnarled tree roots. She fell. Maybe she scraped he knee, but she got straight back up. Then there were other holes. Nasty ones with sharp teeth and big jaws that sucked her in and swallowed her up. Sink holes.
Other people did not see the holes in her world. They told her to smile. What was she afraid of? What could possibly happen? But the little girl knew. She was afraid of her holes. Scared that she wouldn't see them. Or that someone would say something, or do something that would push her into a hole. Or that she would see the hole, but only when it was too late and she was already falling.
There was no sun at the bottom of those holes. It was so dark the girl could not even see herself. She could hear things. Like her Mummy screaming. Or feel things. Things that hurt. But she was lost in her hole. Lost, even to herself.
Those holes scared the little girl so much she started pretending that bad things weren't happening. She told herself to pretend to be someone else. She got very good at that game. Very good indeed. Then, even if she was in a sinkhole, it wasn’t as scary.
For a while that was okay. All the bad wolf holes were covered over by splitting off in her imagination. For a while she was not scared.
Days passed into years and Little Girl became a woman, as all little girls do.
The Sink Holes started appearing again. No matter how hard the woman tried not to think about sad things, or tell herself that she did matter and that her life was important, a great sadness grew inside her. At times the sadness was so crushing it made her numb, or it made her thoughts so zippy she couldn’t get anything done. Mostly, it made her cry. The ground beneath her feet got soggy. Holes opened up. The longer the sadness cried in her the deeper the hole she fell into.
These holes began to scare the woman. She worried about not being able to get out. Not ever. And having to live her life out at the bottom of a hole, which would be dank and cold. And very, very lonely.
One day she got brave. Or perhaps the woman was more scared of the Sink Holes than she was of telling someone about them. So she told her Sink Hole stories until there were no more words.
The Listener was very good. She saw the holes. The big ones and the small ones. Together, the woman and the Listener, started talking about how to fill the hole in. How to build bridges. How to tell other people in her life about the holes. How to make paths. Safe paths. Paths that curved around Sink Holes. The woman still fell. But she was not alone. The Listener sat by the edge of those holes until the woman worked out how to climb up again.
Nowadays the woman is still scared of holes. It's becoming a healthy fear. One she uses to be prepared for sadness when it cries inside her.
Maybe one day there won't be holes. But until then the woman knows she is not alone. She climbs. She talks. And she writes.
Written by: Tabitha Bird Used with permission.
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