“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it yourself.” –Gilda, the good witch
There’s no place like home… There's no place like home...
What if I never knew of my home. Orphaned at a day or two old.
I had homes I stayed in. The first foster mother named me “Amy.” The next home I was “Jo Anna”
Home, in my mind’s eye was an idea. A fantasy. A dream. A place of make believe. A fairy tale I clung onto both in my heart and in my mind.
I would one day reach as long as I stayed on that yellow brick road. Trusting a center in me to listen to, to find my way.
A belief, a faith, I carried as real as whatever name I was called at my current residence.
I would find it one day…
In the meantime, I would pretend what my home was like. Imagining who the players were. The characters I would encounter. I had an imaginary sister and an imaginary baby brother. They would accompany me in whatever I was doing in play or life. Swimming in the pool, riding a bike, climbing up a tree. I would read to them on the grass.
That place of make believe in my mind was my made up home. My safety net, I shared with them.
At night when it would get too quiet or too dark, as I laid trembling under my covers with my sheets as my only shield from the monsters in the closet or the Boogie man lurking underneath my bed, I would refocus my fears. Going into my safe home in my mind…
I would pretend my imaginary brother and sister were lying next to me.
I would picture how his little face would show more fear than mine. How he would shiver needing help. I would bravely take off my sheets and tuck his imaginary body safely within them to make him feel better, safe and warm. I would whisper that “he would be ok. That I was here. That he would never be alone.”
I would take care of him and protect him the only way a big sister could in the night.
Transitioning that fear and focus became how I would cope with my own.
I would pretend to teach him how to scrub in the bath or brush his teeth in the mirror.
Imagining his little 3-year-old body standing next to my 5-year-old one in the reflection.
I was learning how to take care of myself by taking care of him.
Doing for both of us what I desperately wanted and wished for. Further deepening that place in my mind…
I stayed with different families. Different characters. Different villains. I had met acquaintances, trolls, fairies, friends who didn’t know better or past their own circumstances, their own walks of life, their own experiences or their own wounds.
Some who were caring and kind, others who lacked things, or saw their own limitations. Who craved the missing parts of themselves. All doing the best they could with what they had while searching.
I began to recognize if they were missing a brain to think, or a heart to have compassion or the courage to continue.
I learned from those people so I could be a better role model to my imaginary little sister and brother.
So, I could hang onto that love I had inside, think through any situation, have the courage to get educated and carry us out. Into a world that may have disregarded us, but into a world we were worthy of. A world we would one day get to...
Knowing not to make too many enemies along the way. Avoid the trolls, listen to the fairies. Dodge certain road blocks or groups. And never allowing any to stop me skipping on. Brick by brick. Clicking my sparkling red shoes down that yellow brick.
I took my imaginary siblings into other homes where bad witches, dark wizards and big bad wolves existed. Baring their teeth, cooking potions in their caldrons. Breathing in the smoke and fumes of their concoctions. Life becoming unpredictable. Clouding my vision of that yellow brick road.
But I always had my imaginary sister and baby brother in that sacred place in my mind. Imagining how I would get him out. Where I would get them food. How I would hide and shield them from the unknowns and dark forces. The vapors, the spells. How I would get back onto that road. Taking care of them became my escape plan.
And I found us back on that yellow road. Trudging brick by brick. Holding his imaginary hand in my mind’s eyes along the way. Hearing my sister’s imaginary footsteps trail closely behind.
I got an education. I saved money. I got us our own place. I got us our own home.
Building it perfectly on the side of that yellow road. Stationed safely far enough away from the bad guys with views of the magical forest and all the possibilities at our finger tips. Now that we were safely on our own.
Looking at the world in a new light, now that we got out. So much to experience, so much to learn. I got comfortable. I got to celebrate the fruits of our labor. But I also knew it was not time to stop truckin’.
A nagging feeling remained that I had yet to reach that destination I longed for. I hadn’t made it “home” … yet.
This wasn’t the end of the road. Just a nice place to rest. I still had further to go on this journey… My imaginary siblings and me.
From the view of my new home… I could see the yellow brick road carried on, up hills and mountains, and into the far distance.
I couldn’t stop… yet.
I began looking for my birth family. Hitting road block after road block along the way. Encountering ogres and gnomes telling me I had to stop. There was no way forward.
A gust of wind floated through the magical forest all around me. Echoing against my ear, “Keep going.”
Carrying the dream in my heart, I thought of a way past them, through trick or plan. I found the courage to continue as goblins told me it was impossible. That inner voice told my red shoes to keep stepping. Around, past... sometimes through...
Until I met a fairy godmother, or an aunt, through DNA testing. Who told me I did have a family. A family who had searched for me my whole life. My parents married after giving me up... and had two more children. Meaning I had two FULL siblings. A sister.... and a little brother.
The road beneath my feet glowed and hummed with a buzz. The magical wind blew through the branches and the trees harder. Against my face and through my hair. The wind curling around my body and pushing my red sparkling shoe one yellow brick further.
My pretend becoming real. I had found my family.
My heart stopped for the slightest moment. The forest vanished around me for a split second. Times stood still.
All that remained was me and the yellow brick road beneath my feet. Shining, glowing, buzzing, warm underneath my sparkling red shoes.
Remembering, honoring, thanking, that little voice inside that told me to stay on this road. To just keep going…
Flowers began to slowly sprout and bloom along the path. The sun lit up the darkness, turning the sky a bright blue. Birds sang, leaves danced, Oz came to life around me.
Those characters I met along the way were all part of this journey. Keeping the heart beating inside me, keeping me thinking how to get through, summoning the courage to continue on this yellow brick. To keep me on my red sparkling toes. Stepping no matter what, not wanting to be swallowed by the forest along the way.
When I finally talked to my brother for the first time that sacred imaginary place in my head became real.
My fantasy became a reality. I found my way through an unknown forest, past the villains and characters. Through the make believe and fear.
Sometimes by caring for my imaginary sister and brother. Sometimes, that caring, carrying me. But I made it. To the end of that road.
Hearing the good witch's words echoing in the breeze... "You always had the power, my dear… You just had to learn it yourself."
Realizing, I had it along … I just had to keep going... the way the inner voice told me.