Find The Little Girl by special guest Neringa Bryant

“Here is the question: If you could talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?  What advice, warnings, or encouragement would you give your younger self?”

 

FIND THE LITTLE GIRL

FIND THE LITTLE GIRL INSIDE YOU AND DON’T LET HER GO  If I could step back using a time machine, and face that tall, awkward looking teenager with the strange name, I doubt I would offer her any advice. But I am amazed by what she survived…

Besides, getting any advice would infer that you have freedom.  Freedom wasn’t an option. At least not then. Since you are the only sibling old enough and capable enough to accept any responsibility, you run the household.  Plus, you are your father’s daughter and do as you are told, without question. You are the “good” daughter.

At sixteen, you were allowed to wear eyeliner.  According to your parents—or your father, you are now considered a grown-up. Did I ever feel any other way?  I don’t remember.  But home life changed again. It was the year your mother had a lobotomy.  She was schizophrenic, as was your sister. When mom came home from the hospital, this time, she was very quiet.

The entire house became strangely quiet. Your parents stopped arguing for a while. Even the two younger brothers seemed quiet. But the smoke-filled rooms continued, mom was up to three packs a day now.  You were never sure how much your father smoked; he hid in his home office (working?).  We were not allowed inside.

As you spoke to her, you realized that Mom lost the memories of her past, especially when a plane flew over the house– and there were a lot of planes.  This time, she didn’t hide under the table waiting for the bombs to drop, like the ones that dropped around her in Berlin during the war.

What little responsibilities you didn’t have until that point, are now yours.  Except for one.  Doing the laundry.  You were never allowed to touch the washing machine, after the last time when you broke it.  Even though you didn’t totally believe you were at fault– but nobody listened, nobody cared– you took the blame. Maybe that is why you became a bit of a nerd.  Curiosity still draws you into a world of cables, machines and technology.  You are comfortable there, still are…

At every point in your life, decisions are always made for you; you don’t even get to choose whether you take the business or college course in parochial high school.  You never understood why they chose the college course curriculum for you.  College was never an option.  Typing would certainly have come in handy now. You were never a part of the discussion. It was just decided.

At sixteen, the neighbor downstairs got you a job.  You start gift-wrapping at the iconic Filene’s basement and are quickly promoted to cashier due to your strong math skills.  You are excited about getting out of the house. You are surprised that your father allows it, but now you can pay for your school lunches.

You were always a good girl. You did what you were told to do, without question. And as your days continued to be consumed with school, work, household tasks, meals and food shopping (Dad got a DUI and lost his license for a year), you struggle and fail in social studies schoolwork.  A bad mark brought you punishment, without any insight or understanding. In school, the nun’s constant droning offered no help to any subject matter except math, so you entertain yourself with stories, which lived in your head for years, and still do.  They were your salvation, strength and escape.

As was going to the movies…  When you could, you snuck off on Saturday to the local theater and watched the continuous showing of whatever MGM musical was playing.  For a quarter you watched all day and inadvertently studied the film format.

Heaven.

But more freedom was taken away when you were told to give up your extra study class for two years. They were filled with elocution classes; you never questioned your father’s motive. Your mother didn’t care one way or another. You will surmise later that he didn’t want you to be subject to the racism he was experiencing having a heavy accent.

All I can say is that turning eighteen–on what you briefly consider the worst day of your life–another change takes place.  Your father throws you out of the house, claiming, “You’ve outgrown your use…” You find yourself standing at the bus station, with the clothes on your back, no job, and no place to go.  You make a phone call to a new friend who lives close by and she let’s you stay the night.  In spite of the unknown, it was a day of freedom, and the first of many life-changing adventures–good, bad or otherwise.  You not only survive, you flourish.  City life and a new job with a small paycheck quickly throws you back in the stream of life. Strangely, you don’t break; you gain a sense of humor.

A choice, my choice.

For whatever reason, no matter how many times you are kicked around, you manage to have an optimistic attitude. But, incredible as it seems, you will be constantly criticized for it.  It seems many people feel if you are optimistic, then you lack professionalism.  The good news, due to your pragmatic “childhood” very little intimidates you. Even the man you meet, who truly gets you.  He gets you for 44 years.  And your son, well, let’s just say he is your light…

I don’t want to give much away, because you do enjoy the adventure.  Our reliable “old soul” gives us stability, strength and the edge of persistence.  And yes, you resurrected the child–that little girl we never really got to see often or play with–shortly after that day of liberty.  That little kid continues to spark our curiosity, which drives our creativity and originality.  Oh, and that little girl adds a huge dose of magic (technology) to our spirit and soul.  We learn the importance of fun.  It is what makes us special and gives us that feeling of being alive.

I wouldn’t give up either part of us, even wearing the eyeliner, as I continue to ask questions… I discover that there is very little we can’t overcome.  I love my life so much now and it is because of that lonely girl, she taught me how to live.

___________________________________________________© 2012 Neringa Bryant

Find the Little Girl by Neringa Bryant

Neringa Bryant

Neringa Bryant’s Bio:  Neringa Bryant is a Writer, Producer, and Director. Her work includes:  2011, co-writer of a romantic suspense titled, Blood Oil; 2010, Writer, Producer & Director of a kid’s short, Who Murdered Mr. Wrinkles (in post-production).; 2008, Co-writer on Pear Me Up, Buttercup, winner of Best Direction, for the Providence 48 Hour Film Festival produced by Goldilocks Production; Neringa has written over 8 screenplays and produced and wrote Eternal Embrace, winner of 1999 Zoe Film Festival, Best Romantic Film on filmfilm.com produced by Unicorn Shadow Production, her signatory companyShe has worked on ten films in various capacity of co-writer and/or crew. Surrendered Spirit, pilot for a television series titled, The Rogues. won first place in Share the Dream (RWA) contest; 2000-2004 Unit Production Manager, of Shadow Glories (aka The Fight) winner of numerous awards produced by Hamzeh Mystique Films, film sold to Mainline. For more information visit her website.

Comments

  1. Neringa, what a lovely, sad, and yet life-affirming post! Thank God that you were brave enough and tenacious enough to not only survive but to go on to build a wonderful life. I’ve always considered you a lovely and unique woman and now I have just an inkling of what has made you the way you are. What an inspiring story!

  2. What a wonderful, touching and inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Hugz!

  3. Jennifer and Christina,
    Thank you for you very kind and generous words, each of you have your own special gifts, your own magic. Jennifer, I’ve seen yours. Please celebrate every day and remember the little girl inside each one of you.
    Thanks…

  4. Wow, Neringa! You’ve climbed some real mountains in your time–and you turned out beautiful.
    In spite of your life’s challenges or because of it–you’ve become the gorgeous wonderful woman you are and so I’m glad!
    With much fondness,
    Stephanie

  5. Elizabeth says:

    A long, hard, beautiful journey. So glad you made it, Neringa. So glad you enjoyed the adventure.

  6. I feel similar to Neringa. My mother had severe PTSD from WWII, and I did a lot of care-taking before and after my parents’ divorce. Still there was much love in our home, and exposure to the arts which made me the person I am today. Perhaps that’s why I am an optimist too! Thank you for this essay.

  7. Neringa, I didn’t know some of what you’ve experienced, but I can see every step has brought you to the now. You constantly amaze me. You constantly delight me. I’m honored to be a friend!

    Light,
    Nancy Haddock

  8. Neringa, You had a wonderful, amazing story. You are continually an inspiration to me. I am also honored to be considered your friend.

  9. Neringa, I’m so glad to meet you through this post. It’s a wonderful, inspiring story of inner strength, determination, and prevailing over painful circumstances; it’s the kind of story than lingers in one’s mind.

  10. Neringa, your story made me smile, broke my heart, and affirmed my sense you are one incredible lady. Strong, lovely, still filled with the sense of wonder, which I also know you’ll never lose. I’m honored to be your friend, and frankly, can’t wait to see Disneyland through your eyes 🙂

  11. Stephanie, Elizabeth, Erica, Nancy, Lyn, Lucille & LA, I am humbled by your responses and thrilled by your remarks… You get it. At my age now, I see too many women retiring from life, their dream, their hopes. I don’t have a bucket list, I have a bucket book. The little girl in me has to be fed, not forgotten.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, you’ve all made my day.

  12. Middleboro Kathy says:

    Neringa, I found your story sad but true and inspiring. I remember most of it because I was there by your side.Hopefully I will still be there with you for more of the good stuff!

  13. Ladies,
    Thank you for your touching and heartwarming replies. I am honored to be your friends, and to those who see me as an inspiration, my heart and soul are warmed.

    Hey, M-K… many, many years… we did go through it together, and still you share my path.

    Thanks,
    Neringa

  14. Neringa–

    You’ve always amazed me with your work ethic and creativity; now I know where that optimism comes from. I am so pleased to have met you–through our mutual love of movies–and pleased to have partied with both the little girl and the vibrant woman! Thank you for sharing your 16-year-old self with us.

    Victoria–

  15. I hear you. It’s strange that some families can be like that. But you’ve endured and come out the other end stronger. Plus you’re beautiful in person and spirit. You deserve only the best.

  16. Bettyboop says:

    You are the best. I’m so glad I know you. And to know you is to love you. You are an amazing women with all you have accomplished and all you are planning to accomplish. YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!!!!

  17. Donna,
    I consider you to be my southern fried, sassy friend. You bring chaos to quiet, tempest waves to peace and deep plunging laughs to me and everyone around you… and, damn– I love your pocket books! I wouldn’t want to know you any other way. Thanks for being my friend for over 15 years.

  18. Bettyboop,
    Being your friend, for only a short time, I have found that nobody does it better, faster, louder and with totally a huge heart as much as you do… And, wow can you pick out a pair of long pants for me!!!! You do have talent!!!

  19. Potent stuff! Moved.

  20. Neringa,

    You are such a strong woman with a positive force that shines brightly. Thanks for the inspiring post.

    Love you!

    Sophia

  21. Courtney, Sofia, it is not strength, I realized it was about growth and a lesson or lessons — learning… Inspiration comes from the friends who surround you. You must take every trip and/or fall through life and grow, otherwise staying in your comfort zone can stifle you… Thank you so much for your comments…. if I can offer you any light… I am humbled!

    Neringa

  22. Always inspiring. Hugs.

  23. Your positive outlook, energy, and get ‘er done attitude are inspiring! I’m so lucky to call you my friend!

    Light,
    Nancy

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