Return to Oz

If you ever get a chance to go back and revisit your childhood home, do it. You may not want to go back in case everything has changed too much. Everything has changed – but why does this scare us so much? Do we actually fear how much we have changed? If you get the chance to revisit childhood places, do it. Click your heels together three times, close your eyes and……go!

Take me home


I had the chance to go back. And I was scared. I was asked to perform at the church where I was baptised. I had not set foot or boot inside this church since I was 14 and left the girl guides because the other girls laughed at my unfashionable skirt. (It was loo long and made by my mother.)

My childish self thought this was the reason why those girls didn’t like me but now I see they simply did not like me because I was different. I felt the same, you see, only yesterday in that same church, when I heard a woman criticise the red velvet jacket I was wearing.

Going back helps you to see these things.

Hopefully by midlife you have stopped trying so hard to fit in. Or have you? What else is your childish self still telling you that you believe? She is just a child with childish thinking. It’s time for a new message.

Lend a hand

Hard core

Returning to Oz is hard core recovery. The church was the same, the seats were still hard and wooden and there was the little, battered Brownie flag that I had been so excited to carry just the once when I ‘got bigger.’ On it was inscribed the message that helped mould me into a Good Girl and got me into so much trouble in my relationships – LEND A HAND. I couldn’t help feeling it would have been more useful to have added NOT TO EVERYONE THOUGH. The flag wasn’t big enough but that addition would have saved me a lot of problems in adulthood – and possibly one of my two divorces.

Pick me!

I also remembered this ‘never being chosen’ cycle of my childhood – to carry the flag, to be Mary in the play, to stand up and sing or play. And then I remembered this desperate desire to be chosen, shared by every ugly girl with a brown hair. If only adults could see past the cute blonde girls with the curls and the skirts that fit.

Dear God. Pick me. Edfringe 2015

Pick me! Pick me! I took this voice with me too – into relationships where desperation was the main driver. We all want to be chosen. Take a look at dating sites if you don’t believe me. Pick me! The slogan of my frustrated childhood.

Over the rainbow

Returning to childhood in midlife is very illuminating. It’s harsh lighting and a bare stage. It’s a return to Oz after we found out that the Wizard wasn’t really a wizard.

Wizarding @locqueslaroux @houseofallure

It’s over the rainbow. It’s beyond the yellow brick road. It’s back through the looking glass when we have had our fun.

This thought keeps coming to me throughout the day, ‘Alice is in a place she has never been before.’ And it’s true. Returning to the church hall (built 1975 and still standing) I felt too big now. My child had felt small here. She had found this room too big and huge and imposing and now it wasn’t. But I was always looking up at people. Doing things to persuade them to pick me.

I had been there before – and in a way I hadn’t. Not as the person I have become. Who am I now? Well I silenced the church with my voice. I talked to elderly men who were failing. I ignored unkind comments about my jacket. I stayed to support elderly musicians. I bought my mother a cup of tea. So yes, I lent a hand. But more than that, I felt that I had arrived somewhere new. Alice is somewhere she has never been before. I’ve arrived.

Are you still a child?

The child in me

This isn’t Oz anymore. This is the end of my childhood. It seems a bit late. Have you reached it yet? Do you want to? What awaits? A sense of your own mortality and a compassion for other people – whether they are kind or not. An end to the childish voice that tells you stuff that is decades out of date. Your jacket is fine. You don’t need to be chosen by anyone. The 361 recovery programme can lead you here. Do you really want to be acting like the child who wants to be picked on dating sites? Or do you want to commit time and energy into going back and working out what your legacy is going to be? What are you going to leave? Why are you even here? The 361 recovery programme can help you to mark the end of your childhood and get closure. Believe me, my childhood had darker memories than I am willing to share here. But I returned to this church in glittery red doc martens and I felt bigger than those people who harmed me. I felt I had returned home. The 361 can help you face your childhood ghosts and feel bigger as you start to look at other people from that time on equal terms. Your terms. Find the one. Find your maturity. Find the 361.

Alice Smith 2019

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when I write I am a king. Listen to more at 361 live podcast

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