My Hopes, Memories and Dreams

The Jam Sandwich

lunch boxSitting next to Georgie on the orange painted timber bench, I squinted through the door way of the shelter shed into the piercingly bright summer sun.  It lit up the asphalt of the school yard beyond, then hitting the tar like a yo-yo, bounced off again transforming into a thick steamy haze. I watched the pairs of black school shoes trimmed by white ankle length socks scuttling back and forth outside the door. In the shadows of the steamy haze, they soon morphed to a blur of black and white carried along by skinny limbs; and suddenly I found myself a spectator to a herd of zebras passing by. I chuckled inside at my cleverness as I eased my back into the gray concrete wall, allowing the cold hard surface to permeate through my cotton school dress. I was in no particular hurry to get outside and play, so the school rule that lunch must be eaten in the undercover area before going out into the scorching heat, was one I could be grateful for.

Peering into my plastic lunch box I poked dismissively at the cling-wrap that had already unfurled itself in disgust from two pieces of white bread slapped around bits of soggy lettuce and tomato. To merely look at the slathering of butter that oozed forth from the sandwich and slid insidiously onto the plastic, made me feel nauseous. I glanced into Georgie’s lunch box on the bench beside me and settled on a neat looking jam sandwich, lovingly cut into four equal triangles. I snatched it and ran. Before she even knew what was happening I’d stuffed it into my mouth until I was almost gagging. Jam never tasted so good. The thrill was infectious and I continued this pattern at lunch times sporadically throughout coming weeks until one day Georgie’s mother confronted me in the playground after school. Needless to say I was so mortified that I never did it again.

Over the years the recollection of this behaviour has confused and embarrassed me to the extent that it is not a memory I whip out to display on the mantle at Christmas. Some say ‘time heals all wounds’. It takes more than time to heal a broken spirit. The journey of healing and understanding is long and arduous, but mine has now enabled me to take that school girl by the hand, sit her down under the sparking lights of the pine tree and tell her it is ok and there is nothing to be forgiven for or embarrassed about. Caressing her with loving words that tickle like a string of tinsel placed around her neck, I am thrilled to see a giggle arise from within her at the silly side of it all. I am proud that my understanding can release her of the guilt and enable her understanding that it wasn’t the sandwich she really desired…she would have been content with the crumbs. Oh to have had a taste of just one or two of those  emotional crumbs of warm and loving regard from a mother to her daughter, that spilled from Georgie’s lunch box !  Yet despite gobbling up a whole jam sandwich in seconds, there she sat on those hot summer days still feeling the emptiness inside, deprived of the love and affection that carefully prepared jam sandwich so intrinsically represented.

For such a brief episode from childhood to sink so deeply into my sense of self that it required a considerable process of peeling back the layers to absolve, simply highlights the divisive impact of emotional trauma on a child’s sense of self-worth. With all the might of an insidious tumour, the patterns of emotional neglect eat away at the cells of thoughts and feelings that make up the very core of the child’s wholeness. It leads to disintegration of the self involving intense terror and trauma that is often only subconsciously realised. In adulthood it is often replaced by confusion and utter desperation that requires a deep well of loving understanding to slowly be re-built into the centre of self. I emphasise that it needs to be re-built as this well of pure love and acceptance is gifted to us all on our entry to this life, but sadly for many it is cruelly raided by those who lack the fortitude to find more loving ways to replenish their own.



9 responses

  1. Playing around with FB and there you are almost immediately after posting. You should wrap this in xmas paper and send it to Georgie with a loaf of white bread and a jar of jam. What a present that would make. More amazed and amazing with every additional story you write. The beautiful new BD photo matches your heading in that the light is captured on your face as on the face of the mountain. See how far you’ve climbed in a couple of months?

    November 13, 2009 at 7:19 pm

  2. Thanks Sara, and gaining strength with every step.

    November 13, 2009 at 11:36 pm

  3. Michelle McCarthy

    My dearest friend I have taken one look at the new photo of you and it made my heart soar!! You look so beautiful and dare I say, almost childlike. That is the most gorgeous photo I think I have ever seen xxx. Another beautiful piece of writing, it really is my favourite way to bring a smile to my day I feel connected to you through your written word and wish you werent so far away. I send you a huge hug!!

    November 14, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    • Hello lovely lady. Thanks for leaving a comment ! Oh and thank you for the lovely compliments. Why does this country have to be so ENORMOUS…and costly to travel across ? I would be there in a second otherwise ! I can’t wait for the day we live in the same town. I have a sense by then we will be so fed up with all this distance we will be content to live next door to eachother ! Wouldn’t that be fun ? Imagine the wine nights ! Chat soon oxoxoxoxo

      November 14, 2009 at 11:13 pm

  4. blissbait

    oh golly moses!
    i have those stories as well…
    cynthia was mine

    I can SO empathize. Sigh. I send Cynthia (and my young self) much love….ahhh. Amazing what we carry and carry and carry…well after we understand the ‘why’s.

    Thank You and Cheers and Namaste. 🙂

    November 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    • Hey Bliss. I’m happy my little story struck a chord. And it’s comforting to know we are not alone in our disquiet with these memories that linger. I like Sara’s suggestion of sending Georgie a loaf of bread and jam and a copy of this post…but am afraid I have no idea where she is these days.

      Hope you have had a lovely weekend,


      November 14, 2009 at 11:17 pm

  5. Sharie

    Colleen, I feel for you as a child hungering for love more than a jelly sandwich. If I had been Georgie’s mother, I would have handled it a little differently. I would have simply given Georgie two sandwiches so my child could give the gift of sharing and you could receive the gift of love. Wouldn’t that have been a lovely ending to that episode? When my girls were small, I always brought extras to events. For kids like you and me. Love, Sharie

    November 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

  6. Colleen,
    Oh, how your stories tighten my chest and how I wish I could give little Colleen a great, big bear hug. Someday you and her will be one and all I can say is, “Look out world, cuz the girls are together!”
    Keep up your great work.

    December 14, 2009 at 3:39 am

  7. Pingback: 2010 in review « Reflections of Me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s