How do we go about honoring those mentors who have played a powerful role in our lives?
And what happens when we learn to more deeply honor ourselves?
THE ASSIGNMENT: LOOKING AT ABANDONMENT ISSUES THROUGH A NEW LENS
To prepare for this song, Dawn and I talked for a good little while. She was effusive about the many ways in which her therapist, Sandra, had taught her to more deeply understand and listen to herself, and to strengthen her own vision of what might be possible for her in her life. She shared openly with me, deeply, as well, about many of the painful hurts from her past. You can't begin to know, until you have walked a mile in my shoes, how honored and astonished I feel when someone who I have only just recently met feels close enough to me, through my music, to share from the deepest places within themselves, about their hurts and their joys. I listened to Dawn's story and found myself in tears. Her story is private, but I can say this: I wish no child ever had to go through what Dawn has gone through. And I wish that every child who has faced a childhood as painful and confusing as hers must have been, could be as resourceful as she has been in stepping forward, finding help, and learning to speak her own truths. As Dawn talked about her childhood, she shared that, in order to get through a lot of the pain back then, she used to "go away" within herself. And suddenly it hit me: Perhaps her fears about abandonment now were traumatic for her precisely because of the way that, as a child, she taught her self to "go away." And while it saved her life, in a way, back then, those same coping mechanism of "going away" might be causing her to abandon herself repeatedly, now, whenever she felt pain or discomfort. What would it sound like, we asked, if she was able to give a different message to herself, when she was hurting or in pain or afraid? And thus, the song "Little Secret" was born.
By Anna Huckabee Tull
You let me in on a little secret
You kept telling it till I started to
Wonder if maybe someday I'd believe it
You said I deserve to open up
To love this life and feel love
And I believe it could be true
Because of all the things I'm learning when I'm learning with you
Who I have been for myself in moments when I have been hurt
And who I'm learning to be, for me
I am strong enough to share the way I feel
I am brave enough now to learn to let myself heal
And I am trusting enough to believe you when you say
I will not leave, I will not walk
I am right here believing in you, and I will not stop
I will not desert you or turn away
I am here for you, by your side and I will stay
So now I will let you in on a little secret
It's one you kept whispering and now
I see what it means when I dare to believe it
I do deserve to open up
To be here for myself and to feel that love
And now I see how that is true
How I can be here for me the way I learned to from you
And in those moments when I hurt
Now I can say to myself
I will not leave, I will not walk
I am right here believing in me, and I will not stop
I will not desert myself or turn away
I am here for me, and I will stay
(c) 2008 Anna Huckabee Tull
When Dawn first heard the song, she was nearly speechless. I could hear the emotion in her voice as she struggled to respond, on the phone. She emailed me later, feeling a little more composed, to say, "Every time I am at the computer I am playing the song. And when I am going about my day, I am hearing it in my head." And then, tellingly, because there is so much compassion in Dawn, she added, "I hope and pray that this song will help others too." Nonetheless, Dawn was nervous about sharing the song with Sandra. Dawn would often ask Sandra if she was going to "walk away," because of her fears of abandonment. This led to a homework assignment from Sandra, for Dawn to, "come up with a song about me not walking away." But what had started off as a silly idea in session had turned into a full-scale, studio-recorded composition that sprang from words and thoughts from deep within Dawn's painful past, and sang her forward, straight into a most optimistic and resilient picture of a possible future, all the while acknowledging Sandra's incredible role in this transition. Sharing the song marked a new point of strength in Dawn's life. And, as it happened, receiving it turned out to be nothing short of a transforming event for Sandra, too. Dawn did summon her courage, and share the song. And afterward Sandra wrote to introduce herself to me and to say,
"I was extremely humbled, speechless, emotional, and 'blown away' by the song. Dawn is one of the most incredible people I have worked with. She continues to move forward, fight, feel, and believe in the process against all things (fear) that tell her, "Don't do it!" So many people would have 'given up' long ago, considering the pain and trauma she has experienced in her life. I wish I could put into words what I feel when I sit with her, and hear her story, and feel her pain, and look at her with disbelieving eyes, wondering how she has continued to strive for all these years. I feel humbled by her because she has chosen me. I sit in the room and listen, and I am let in on her secrets...that she has held for so long...that have crippled her...that she is finally letting go of...so that she can grow and become the beautiful woman that she is. Dawn has so much to give others."
Anna Huckabee Tull is an award-winning Singer-Songwriter with five national CD releases to her credit, including the recently-released "Every Day" a collection of songs exploring the relationships between parents and children, young and old. Anna is also a Psychologist and Life Coach, with a Master's Degree in Spiritual Psychology and Applied Psychology. [More about Anna]. She lives in Somerville, Mass with her family. The piano and backing vocals you hear here are done by lifelong friend and fellow composer/performer/associate professor in social work, Lori Holleran Steiker. She happened to be in town, so I brought her along to the studio so she could take a peek and watch me and Eric record this guitar-based song. In a playful moment, Lori stepped up to the piano and...my jaw dropped. She spontaneously had created the most perfect piano part for this song! Lori and I used to play "studio" together in 4th grade. And suddenly, here we were, all grown up and making magic, together, FOR REAL! I am reminded again of the wonders of what it means to truly, meaningfully, connect with another, in a way that can be shared with the world. Eric Kilburn once again masterfully engineered and performed on acoustic guitar, as he so often does! Thank you for all you do, over and over again, Eric!