Play Me

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.

Under a dark moon,  I finished some spiritual  work with a friend but in the process of saying goodnight, she pulled up a very old fear of mine. It was a simple phrase that I was not expecting and a feeling that I’m desperately trying to track back to its origins and slay.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

“Good night, Hon,” she said in her usual sweet way. “I really enjoyed playing with you.”

Such an innocent comment, but it stopped me in my

tracks.  She must have sensed it because she went on to explain that  doing this type of work with me feels like playing to her. It does to me, too, and I’ve used that verb quite  a bit  to  describe  how  I feel  about  new  spiritual learning experiences.  They’re fun and it’s almost like being a little kid again.

But somehow  the  word  play conjures  up something

else and I’m not quite sure why and why now.

Perhaps the connotation is fresh on my mind because earlier  in  the  evening,  we  talked  about  how  we  both sensed that a friend of mine is being played.  He’s going through a terribly  hard time right now, but  he’s  deter- mined to break free of it.  We talked about the sense that there  is someone playing him, messing with him, doing little things that could take away his dream and his livelihood, but that he will be successful in breaking free. We talked about the flourishing of  his dream and the prosperity and abundance that will come much more quickly than he thinks.  It is, in so many ways for him, a repeat of his previous year.  It’s the lessons all over again, but this time instead of running away, he will find success.

I hope.

Somehow with the worry and annoyance on my mind that he’s being played, the verb simply stands out in my mind and triggers old fears. I can say it’s a trust issue, in- security, but if I could track down its beginning, perhaps I could get rid of it.

I’m afraid of being played. There. I admit it. There have  been too many times in my adult life when I have been played and played  with, led on, manipulated, hurt, all for someone else’s entertainment or  their gain. And just when I think  I can trust again,  I get that niggling doubt that once again I’m going to be wrong about where I put my faith.

I can trace my fear of being “played with” back to my teen years, back to those mean-girls days when I was fodder for the popular kids who were bored and enjoyed activities that were the moral equivalent of pulling the wings off of a butterfly and dropping the poor thing into an ant bed to watch it writhe.

I can  go  further back  and  then  I hit  a veil.  I was maybe 6 years old, no more  then 7.  Perhaps  younger than that, and I can’t remember the exactness of it but I do remember different adults playing with me, telling me my worst nightmares,  inventing terrible things and traumatizing me.  Not my parents but other relatives.  Older ones who took great pleasure in seeing me frightened and then held my fear up to each other and laughed.

And I would cry for hours,  and my mother  would scold my torturers,  and all they would answer was, “We was jes’ playin’ with her.”

As a grownup, it’s easy to look back and see how pathetic my persecutors were.  It’s also easy to see how con- trolling and manipulating people are who try to play with my friend or me, for that matter, and  how  it’s all about power and control and putting someone in a position so they could be used later for personal gain.

Just because I see it, doesn’t make it go away, and it doesn’t make it right either.