Miss Yin, now a big nine-year-old, has cherished her blankie since she was a baby, or more particularly, since we gave it to her on the day we adopted her, when she was almost 13 months old. She clung onto it for dear life.
She snuggled into it for warmth, for softness, a sense of comfort, security – like all babies do. Perhaps in her baby psyche this much-loved blankie also represented something else – the safe sensation she’d felt in her mother’s womb, the mother who was lost to her when she was days old, or the familiarity of another blanket she’d cuddled into, slept with, while being cared for by her foster mother, who was lost to her too when we adopted her. So much loss in such a short life.
In her cot, Miss Yin would lie on top of her blankie, a scrunched up mound of pink fluff, her little bottom stuck up in the air in a classic child’s pose. Sometimes I’d watch surreptitiously while she slept, sighing deeply and silently from the edge of her room, lest I disturb the serenity of her pink paradise of butterflies and sparkling walls. She would not be constricted by any other bedding, nor was she ever really interested in any soft toy. Just her and her beloved blankie. Even now she shuns a pillow to nestle into the still-softness of that much-washed blanket.
When she has sleep-overs with friends she says that having her blankie is like having her family with her – I love that she misses us. Between her blankie, the mattress on the floor in our bedroom that gets regular use, and her routine of sleeping with me when Mr Yang is on nightshift (I love that too), Miss Yin has clung onto her need for security even as she is starting to assert her independence (or at least the attitude to go with it!). No doubt she’ll give me ATTITUDE at some point for posting this.
So shock horror when we left said blankie at my sister’s house. We’d driven for about twenty minutes when we realised we’d left it behind, so we could have turned back. But we talked to Miss Yin and we agreed that she would be alright – at least until the next time she saw her cousins, who live almost two hours away. We knew there was always the option of my sister mailing the blanket to us in the meantime if the separation was too hard to bear.
But we also saw it as an important step – our little girl was growing up. Back home she slept on the mattress on the floor and snuggled into my soft bathrobe for comfort for the first two nights. Then we said that she should be OK to sleep in her room (well I did, her Dad is a bigger softie than her blankie). But she was alright. Another step. I suspect that Miss Yin will still cling onto her blankie (once she gets it back) for a little while longer and that’s really OK. Maybe she’ll keep it forever.
Miss Yin’s blankie represents a refuge for her and that’s fine. But too often we cling onto our fears to provide a false sense of security, instead of acting on our dreams. We use our fears to maintain the status quo, to excuse our inaction, to settle for the safety of an unhappy now rather than take a risk on a happier tomorrow.
We will only ever be insecure when we cling to our fears. Facing change, deciding to change, will deliver us true sanctuary. Fear only serves us in those rare instants when we must to decide to fight or flee. But when we carry our fears around with us all the time they burden us, unbalance us.
We have to go out of our comfort zones to change – but there is cold comfort in cuddling up to fear. It’s OK, natural, to be afraid sometimes. What isn’t good is to stay afraid. It’s normal, natural to seek comfort – what isn’t comfortable is making our bed out of fear and lying in it.
So cling to the consolation of family and friends, the security of the familiar – just don’t let familiar fears hold you back.
I’d love to hear any thoughts on conquering fears and the things that you thought were providing security when really they were holding you back.
Please comment below and share the love with your friends (not the fear)!