The Tower

Posted | 12 comments

The Tower

My grandmother bought every copy of Ladies Home JournalWomen’s Day, and Family Circle published during her lifetime. They sat piled in stacks feet high on the radiator in her back hall. When I visited, I made it my business to read each and every one. I methodically went through every magazine page by page noting ads, studying fashion and beauty, considering recipes, and reading every single article without fail.

It was quite an education for a preteen girl to receive. I learned that the feminine hygiene products advertised in the front pages were not really necessary for my feminine hygiene. I learned that married men rarely leave their wives. I leaned how to make curtains, stuffed animals, aprons, table clothes, napkins, and pillows from things as common as bedsheets and dishtowels. I learned that a length of rick-rack was necessary to finish off just about any project. I learned all about the Joys of Jello and family meals that could be prepared with a simple can of creamed soup.

There were also a slew of self-help type articles. After all this was the 1970’s, the Me Decade. Many people were preoccupied with the notion of finding and fixing themselves.  On the pages of those magazines I was introduced for the first time to various forms of therapy, affirmations, and hypnosis. I learned how to do a sun salutation and the “right” way to raise children.

I was particularly intrigue with an article I read on visualization. So, when I returned home, I decided to give it a try. I had no plan. There was no particular thing I was trying to see in my mind’s eye. I just thought it was interesting. In the quiet of my room, I closed my eyes and without thought or effort or direction on my part, I saw myself as I was then, a gawky seventh grader with frizzy hair and thick glasses.

In my mind, I walked over to a little girl who looked to be three, who I immediatley recognized as a younger version of myself. I gently took her by the hand and walked her into a field of tall, soft green grass under a Prussian blue sky. Once we reached the middle of the field, I sat her down. Using large, thick stones, I began to build a tower around her. I kept building this tower until the walls were so high that I needed a ladder to reach them. Higher and higher the walls went, until I felt they were done. Certain that she was safe and secure, I took down the ladder and walked away leaving me, I mean her, there alone.

Over the years, I thought about this event several times. I thought it was an odd thing for a twelve year old to do. I thought it was interesting that I never did any other visualization after that. I thought that maybe somebody should have been paying closer attention to what I was reading. I wondered if the little girl was alright. Then I quickly returned to my life and my strife.

I have two modes: off and on. So a couple of years ago feeling the need to turn off the constant chatter in my head, I decided to give meditation a try. I kept stumbling across mentions of meditation in books and articles I was reading at that time. The benefits being alluded to sounded positive. I figured I had nothing to loose, so why not try.

I found a quiet space in my house, shut the door, got comfortable on the floor, closed my eyes, took a couple of deep breathes, and let my mind go. The first image that popped in my head was the image of that little girl trapped in the tower I built so long ago. Immediately big hot tears started rolling down my cheeks. I wanted to run. I wanted to open my eyes and leave that place of quiet. I knew I couldn’t.  I couldn’t leave because I was her and she was me and I knew, I knew in that moment, that she was dying. I had to get her out.

I forced myself to stay seated and demanded that no matter how uncomfortable I felt I would stick this out. In my mind’s eye, I walked over to the tower and filled to the brim with remorse and regret I picked up the ladder and placed it against the wall. Climbing to the top, I was amazed at just how high of a wall I had built so long ago. The stones were larger then I remembered and colder as well. I slowly began to loosen and pull those huge blocks down one by one.

The little girl, the she that is me, looked up at me eyes filled with love and forgiveness. She looked up at me with no judgement as I pulled and pushed the stones of the tower away. When I finally got to the bottom, I took her in my arms and I held her and I promised that I would take care of her and never leave her alone again.

It’s a promise I have no intention of ever breaking.


  1. wonderful.

  2. What beautiful visuals. Your writing is poetic.

  3. Denise,
    This is such a powerful story. You have told it so well here. What’s so powerful for me here is that the little girl offered love and forgiveness.
    Tabitha 🙂

  4. What a beautiful story! I feel like you’ve been a protector, perhaps unaware of that aspect of yourself at age 12, and later, recognizing a new, more enlightened and informed way of protecting. 🙂

  5. I love this! You write beautifully!

  6. you captured me with every word. Absolutely beautiful.

  7. You are an amazing writer and capture the depth in spirit that many of us fail at putting to words even in our own mind.

  8. Lovely. I enjoyed reading your story.

  9. What an exquisite story, Denise. I am so glad you re-discovered this place in you and returned to it. I think the 12 year was keeping her younger self safe… it sounded like a good idea to me too when I think of what adolescence did to me. Wisdom comes in many guises and different behaviors at different ages.

    Much love! and yes, thank you so much for sharing these deep tales of your Self. A gift!

  10. Denise, from your “on/off” mode to the “constant chatter in your head,” to your Prussian blue sky wall-building, I heard, felt, saw, and commiserated with the little girl and grown-up version of you, grappling with walls and towers. This was a profound and truthful assessment of self-care-taking in progress. Simply excellent.

  11. You move me with your writing. Week after week. Thank you!

  12. Exquisite piece, Denise. The metaphor is very powerful. The writing superb. “The stones were larger then I remembered and colder as well. I slowly began to loosen and pull those huge blocks down one by one.” That is the line that I’ll celebrate with you today.


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