Reclaiming Self: Where Have Your Lost Selves Gone Hiding?

In our journey to becoming an adult, there are often parts of our self that we hide or put away. Perhaps this will sound familiar to you. There was that teacher who told you that you couldn’t write. Or the music teacher who said you couldn’t sing. The relative who stated that little girls don’t play football with the boys. Or the father who said boys don’t take ballet lessons. Maybe you had a parent who gave that look which said it was not okay to express your creative self in art; you should be an accountant instead. Often our child self responds to these insults by hiding or denying these precious parts of ourselves.

Here is a beautiful, moving poem about reclaiming self, written by my writer and singer friend, Flossie O’Leary. Read it slowly, taking it all in; and see what stirs in you. I share my experience of her writing below.

Reclaiming Self

Flossie O’Leary

In a recurring dream, he slices my gut
Bleeding, my creativity and confidence.
While in the waking world I shout women’s strength,
When I’m the only one I need to convince.

During high school I fill a thick burlap bag
with the parts of me I judged and disowned.
My writing teacher whispers, “Not good enough.”
A mean glare screams, “She can’t sing.”
I bend down to stuff Singer and Writer into my bag.

For years I drag this brown bag around
hiding its frumpy tattered shame
wincing from the lower back pain
that I believe I must bear.

It is not until my 30’s, while singing in the car
that a friend compliments my voice. Hmm.
Hiking I croon Landslide and Annie’s Song.
I’m invited to join a choir and realize, “I’m a singer.”
Singer squints as she climbs out the bag.

Just as a dream evaporates as we wake to a new day,
I hear the voices of poems, long locked away,
I follow them into the pink bedroom of my youth
where they invite me to come in and play.

For six long years I nurse this frail inner voice.
at poetry retreats that tone awareness and craft.
At a workshop I shake hands with a stranger,
and state, for the first time, “I am a writer.”
Singer unties the knotted burlap string,
Gingerly grasps the translucent blue-veined hand,
and helps Writer crawl out the bag, and stand.

Out Jumps Biker Chic – My Afternoon in the Dirt.

Here is who I let climb out of my burlap bag that Flossie speaks of in her poem. On a recent Saturday, I met Pat Jacques, motorcycle instructor with ADV Women, for a private dirt bike lesson. I hadn’t ridden a motorcycle in over 25 years. It was an afternoon of mud, thrills and motorcycle joy in the dirt. Taking a lesson with Pat allowed me to pull out that grinning tomboy, adventure loving woman once again. I am so glad she is still here! Perhaps there is some hidden some part of you that was shoved away because of shame, ridicule and self-doubt. She is still there waiting to be claimed.

How have you discovered some lost part of your amazing self?

You can contact Flossie O’Leary at: [email protected]

You can contact Pat Jacques of ADV women at

Christine J. Harris, M.S., L.M.F.T., C.B.T.

Christine J. Harris, M.S., L.M.F.T., C.B.T.

Christine Harris is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Bioenergetic Therapist in Littleton, Colorado. Her specialty is embracing all of you: body, mind, and spirit in the therapy process. She has extensive post-graduate training in Bioenergetic Psychotherapy, a body-centered form of counseling. Contact her about your life’s adventures, misadventures, and desire for a more vibrant life. Email: [email protected] Phone: 720-727-2500.


  1. Tamara Suttle on October 15, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Love the photo, love the story, and love how you connected the poem to your own story!

    • Christine J. Harris on October 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks Tamara. I love Flossie’s image of the burlap bag. It brought tears to my eyes when I first read it.

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