A child's smile...

Me when I was around 4 years old.
About one year before it would the first time
I was molested. After that the smiles lessened.
I find no greater joy than a child's pure innocent smile. They glow.

I am especially drawn to a child with a frown.  I love making eye contact with them and then watching that frown turn to a smile.  There's magic then in that smile.

This morning was another journaling workshop. Actually, it is more like a roundtable of discussion. We speak about we've recently have written about - talk about our life experiences - and then listen to each other's feedback.  Naturally, the topic of childhood has come up quite a bit - empowerment comes from taking a good look at our foundations, providing care to the cracks while we keep building on and ourselves, up.

For the past few weeks, we've discussed and have written about ourselves as that child, when our world changed...and where we feel we've lost touch with that child we once were - self-prescribed walls of protection must be addressed. Yes, these discussions are heavy and thought-provoking. So much so that this week I thought I would change it up and turn the topic to happy childhood memories. That is the odd thing about going through any abuse/trauma as a child, you still have fond memories of smiling. The negative memories are interwoven with those positive memories, and sometimes they silence each other. Remembering the good can help you understand the impact of the bad that may have had on you. After all, the key to healing is balance - finding our balance.

Driving home from the workshop I found myself remembering back to the times I was a happy child. It wouldn't take long before I had a discussion in my own head. It was then I realized that in all my happiest childhood memories one emotion/word kept repeating itself...I felt happy because I felt safe.
Chicago, Illinois
The memories I cherish the most are the times my father would make a special day to take me downtown Chicago. We'd wander the Loop... window shopping which was followed by lunch at Berghoff's. Then there were the memories of my father taking me with him for some early morning perch fishing off the pier in Evanston and sometimes down by Montrose Harbor.  I loved sitting there on those rocks, next to my father, watching the sun come up over Lake Michigan. Thinking back I can almost smell that morning air.

The other times were with my Grandma Woywod. Sitting next to her on the Evanston Davis St. bus, wandering downtown Evanston as she ran all her errands. We'd often stop off for lunch at the Woolworth's lunch counter where'd I'd get a grilled cheese and a chocolate shake. In all of those memories, I had a sense of security, I was safe. I was out and experiencing life and I was safe.

Perhaps it was all those great times that helped me to get through my darkest moments.  I told the ladies this morning that I realized something about myself these past weeks and from all those prior discussions. When the childhood trauma happened, the next moment I can remember feeling like I was different from everyone else. That a wall just went up separating myself from others. That wall remained intact for decades and up to the day I decided to tell my story  - reclaim it and own it.  The only times in my childhood that I can remember not having that wall there, were on those special days with my father and grandmother - when I felt safe.

Children smile when they feel safe.

I wasn't quite sure what song video I would end this post with, so, I went on a little search and that is how I ran across this relic. It made me smile.


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