After visiting my old room and seeing footage of my mother from a few months before she passed away, and mentally responding with nothing more than a bland “Oh”, I didn’t think there was anything from my youth that could really get a hold on me, anymore. There was nothing else that I could think of, that had some emotional impact on my youth as much as these things did.
I certainly didn’t see it coming when a few days ago, I held my old teddy bear in my hands and its eyes stirred something reaching deep, like a wick pulling things to the surface.
It’s a monkey actually, just about the most asymmetrical little thing you ever slept with. Its hands are off, its ears are misaligned, one eye hangs out and its crooked grin has all but faded completely. I swear to god, it’s like looking into a mirror- Imagine seeing your younger self before you: It’s the exact same sensation.
My mother gave him to me and as a child would, I named him “Tjupie” [CHUP-pee] and we were inseparable ever since. He had a little bed in the corner of my own, and my mother made him wool clothes that he still wears. He has a knot in his tail that “grew in” and behind it, the rubber band of an exploded balloon. He is hand-made and remarkably strong, with real leather and stitching that survived much abuse.
He spent his first night outside my bed when I was 21 and moved out of the parental house. He knows me like none other: He was there waiting for me the first night after being told I wouldn’t see my mother again. He stayed home when I left for boarding school. He watched me fuck my first girlfriend (creepy, now that I look back on it) and the 8.000 times after that, heard the fights inside the house.
All this time, he was there for me. We went through some seriously fucked up times together (I’m sure you had your own, I’m not going to bother and describe) and to squeeze the life out of this inanimate animal brought a comfort nothing else could. Shrinks, stepmothers, girlfriends, no one knows what this monkey knows about life’s pitch black moments, when the world ends at the edge of your bed. There, he would act like a sponge, patiently absorbing hugs, tears and whatever demons loomed over.
Until I felt like I was growing ‘”too old” for him of course, and he ended up in a box.
A friend stayed over a few days back, so she wouldn’t have to walk all the way home on sore feet, to an empty bed, since her boyfriend is gone traveling. As a joke more than anything, I gave her my old teddy bear, knowing he did the part quite well. Immediately after I physically gave it to her, I asked it back and spent the next few minute staring at it with open mouth.
Anyone else would just see a scabby little stuffed monkey, but I can’t even imagine what others will make of it. What I see in its face are decades of the world’s scariest ghosts, because the only times when I really needed him were when I was at my worst.
I noticed him in the double bed last night, which I don’t use. I pulled him with me as I went to sleep, and I have to say: I don’t think I’ll do that ever again. Talk about an evil little thing; Every time I turned around and felt him under my touch, I was that scared little kid again. I think I’m going to return him to my kitchen rack and let him sit there until someone else might need him.
So here’s what I make of it: It seems like I took all that emotional baggage and dealt with it somehow. A lot of it got dumped inside Tjupie’s stuffing, and what was left I probably gave my ex to deal with, and yes I do feel like going on about her yet again, fuck you very much.
Since cramming emotion into something is physically not possible, I somehow have to fit all this inside my psyche, which would mean that there’s a lot that I somehow repressed. To use a technical term, I think I compressed the whole period, flattening peaks and lows, and kind of sterilizing the entirety. By tying large chunks to things like girlfriends and teddy bears and then leaving them behind, I suppose I disconnected from it somehow and it now just sort of lingers below the surface.
Everyone is shaped by his past, there’s no denying that. But it seems like I subconsciously found a way to “move on” somehow, without the conventional years of therapy. The actual result of my past is absorbed in my life today, and its emotional baggage disconnected and repressed. It seems a dangerous thing to do, but in some way, I’m grateful for it.
Not that I had such a bad childhood, mind. I had lots of friends to play with and being raised a catholic, everything was taboo and thus all the more exciting to discover. It’s just that certain things, at certain times, reached the point of desperation and hopelessness, to where you’re pretty much just better off without the emotional memory of them. I’d hate to call them “traumas” because I’m not a psychiatrist, but truth is I like them right were they are: Tied to a monkey’s tail and forgotten in the corner. If that comes at the cost of memories of happier memories, I can live with that- I am doing well enough making new ones.