Who is this person that doesn't want me to be happy and live a beautiful life?
I am six years old, sitting on top of my favourite red slide on the playground at my school, when a tall, 40 year old man wearing stripes appears.
He is slightly hunched over, his energy makes me feel sick.
He is an unhappy, aloof man, covered in guilt and shame, with no friends.
He feels bad to be around, he makes me cringe.
This man starts coming everywhere with me, he is very controlling, he says I can't be friends with anyone but him.
He tells me people don't like me, that the other kids don't want to be my friend.
I wish this man would go away, but everywhere I go, there he is, nested, perched on my back.
He torments me, not allowing me to be happy, not letting me enjoy life.
When I become a teen, he makes me do horrible things to myself, he tells me if I hurt myself, other people will like me, so I do.
This man is a shapeshifter, his sleeve filled with manipulative tricks.
As I grow older, his power over me becomes stronger, until eventually he becomes me.
My choice diminished, I do everything he says.
Hidden by him I cannot connect, I cannot love or receive love, I cannot be happy or succeed in anything that would once make me proud.
One day I decide that enough is enough, I remember who I am and I tell the man to please get off my back.
He stands in front of me.
I look up to him and excitedly tell him that today we are leaving this bubble, together, hand in hand, we can be free!
I tell the man that he doesn't need to be afraid anymore, we can be together and that life is supposed to be fun!
I show the man how to be happy, how to dance, how to have friends and how to be brave.
The man, finally at peace, shrinks down and I place him into the pocket that sits at my heart.
Every once in a while, I feel him crawl up and on to my back when he is scared.
He tries to take me over and control me like he used to, wanting me to play small, but now he knows who is boss and I have become the shapeshifter.
Thank you, thank you my demon, for reminded me I have choice.
-Phoebe van der Wart
Dear Reader, Who is this person that doesn't want you to be happy and live a beautiful life?
"Heart Tug" (Hein Koh)