The other day I was cleaning my garage and discovered a box of old clothes and toys from my childhood.
This is the box every adult is bestowed by their mother when they move into their first house—“Here, now this can take up space in your garage, kiddo!”
A container cluttered full of fabric, paper and rubber soled memories of firsts: first shoes, first finger paintings, first onesies, first bottles, first dance recital costumes.
Deep beneath the layers of nostalgia, I found my first codependence, my blankie—tattered strings of yarn faded white, pink and blue. The knots I had built like a sailor in the faux satin border. I cradled it, wrapped the silky knots around my fingers just as I had done as a girl, and I kissed it to my nose. The smell, a potpourri of popcorn, vanilla and baby powder still discernible below the dust and 26 years of imprisonment in a plastic Tupperware container.
For a few minutes, I was harnessed within the safety of the tethered relationship I had with this ‘shmata’ (as my grandmother would say in Yiddish). It was my first crutch; my armor to hide behind when I felt threatened or compromised.
As I stood there, making out with my memory, I remembered how I broke up with my blankie for good.
I was seven years old. My father and I traveled to California to spend the weekend on our sailboat. When we arrived, I realized I had forgotten my beloved shmata. I was devastated.
I tried using the musty scent of the wool blanket on my berth to soothe my grief; it didn’t help. I sucked my middle and ring finger as I did when I held my blankie close every night; it didn’t help either.
I ached for it, and then, something happened. I woke up one morning and I forgot about it. I didn’t need it anymore. I was okay.
I realized I had no control if the boogie monster attacked me with or without it. I didn’t need it, I just needed myself.
Despite my insurmountable courage, I still get scared of the uncharted waters that consistently beckon me to sail in a new direction. Although I know, all I need is me, I crave a blankie in the times when life crests and the winds gusts.
When I feel uneasy or I sense a lack of control, I yearn for a sheath of protection and support.
Sometimes, I find my blankie in a person made of chenille, who cloaks me with warmth and covers me in familiarity. In my yoga practice, as it exhales the fear from my mind and calms my trepidation. Or, in a book, a teacher, or the advice from a friend who nurtures the unsettling feeling in my gut.
I snuggle in close, as I inhale the comfort right out of them. Yet, I know that no one nor any thing can make me feel safe and secure—only I can.
I am my own blankie.
However, I have come to expect the strong current of humanness that overwhelms my heart and always tries to sweep me away.
I accept that I will always have the desire to pacify the pangs of fear that attempt to consume my belly, steal my hunger and ravage my mind.
I’ve learned to allow myself to cuddle without clinging for dear life. I appreciate the comfort these connections offer, yet I am extremely careful not to attach to their illusive refuge.
A blankie never lasts forever; we outgrow it. Inevitably, we leave our blankie, our people, our things behind because we acknowledge the truth—we only have ourselves.
We must learn how to cope and self soothe in the storm of uncertainty and change, that is life.
When we decide to rest within ourselves, we discover we hold the greatest power there is—the invincible power of choice.
I left my blankie at home that day by choice; I didn’t forget it. Until yesterday, 26 years later, I hadn’t seen it or needed its salvation.
It is a myth we need people or objects to make us feel as if we have control over our lives. We don’t have any control, we never have and we never will.
All we have is choice.
I always have a choice in everything I do. Choice prevails over control.
I’ve made a choice, the most important choice. I don’t need a person to be my blankie, because I am my person. I was at seven and I am now at 33.
As I placed my blankie back into the coffin of the past, my daughter asked, “That was your blankie? It’s just like mine, huh?”
I replied, “Yes, just like yours.”
One day, she won’t need hers either, and maybe she will learn earlier than I did: blankie or no blankie, she is all she will ever need, just her and her freedom of choice.