Letting Go Of Balloons

CJR - 1968.2

This little girl follows me around quite a lot.  She’s been doing it for a while now.  The image of her is purposely very small. Not to make you squint but to remind both you and I, how small (and precious) she is.  Behind her, you can see there is a man in a suit.  That man was her favourite person in the world back then, and was her father. The picture is part of a complete family photo.  I’ve removed them because the little girl is my focus for now.

I find it helpful to have this image in my mind because that little girl is me.  That little girl grew to become me, but she’s still a very big part of who I am.  If you like, she is my representation of my inner child, and it is my job to protect her, and ensure that her needs are met.  Having a photo of her helps me to remember that she is not as grown up as I am, that she is vulnerable, and that her needs are very important to me.  Actually she’s much like me, because she is me.

Usually photos of her, at that age, show her with a doll in her hand because her dolls were her world.  This was part of a formal family portrait and it seems she had to put the doll down for the photograph to be taken.  I suspect she might have not felt quite as sure of herself without the doll, but standing in front of her Dad would have made up for that.

This little girl took her cues from her parents.  They taught her how to behave, and how to live in this somewhat scary world.  One thing she learnt early on in life, is that when you are lucky enough to be given a balloon, then you have to hold on tight.  The balloon on the end of a piece of string was a pretty exciting thing to have, and she was taught that if she let go of the string then the balloon would be gone for ever, and “that would be it“.  There was no chance of getting another balloon.  Obviously then she clung onto the balloon, knowing that it was indeed a one-off treasure.

Balloons for me are still something precious.  Something that means a lot to me.  They’re important, but sometimes most of the balloons I have been holding lately have been things of which I really had little control.  I might be holding the string but I have little, to no control of what happens to them.  And that’s really tough.

This week I have been holding onto some balloons.  All with strings attached.  Some of them are perhaps not even my balloons to hold, but for a number of reasons, I have them, and I am concerned for their wellbeing. These balloons were a number of unrelated issues in my life that have been causing me a mixture of pain, stress and worry.  That’s as far as I’m going to go in describing what the balloons are.  Because I blog in my own name it is important to me that I respect other people in my life, who probably don’t want me blogging specifically about them.  I hope you can understand this.

It’s when I am in this boat that sometimes contributes to me finding myself getting depressed.  I want control over my life, and mostly I do have it, but other people’s issues and situations might be of concern (and worry) to me and I can’t do much about that.  I don’t think I am anymore of a control freak than most of us, but it is hard to be concerned about something precious which I have no control of.  The control is either in someone else’s hands, or something that there is just nothing that can be done to get control.

As that little girl above, I was taught to hang onto precious things tight.  If I let go of the balloon, I was told it will blow away, and not only will I have lost my balloon, but I won’t be able to make sure the balloon is okay, and doesn’t burst.

What was so wrong if my balloon did blow away?  I might not have it, but someone else might find it and be able to enjoy it.  Or perhaps the balloon could just be free to go where the wind blows it.  I guess my parents wanted me to take care of my possessions.  A balloon was  a treat, so should be looked after.  But I never learnt that sometimes it is best for both me, and the balloon, if I let it go.

Image credit: Jane Lee Logan. Used with permission.

I’m learning, painfully, that sometimes I have to let things go.  As much as I might want them, maybe they’re just not mine to have.   I can’t control the outcome of everything, and sometimes even, the outcome for me might be better than I imagined if I just let it be.

Today the balloons I refer to represent both people and thoughts.  They’re not just one balloon but interestingly (because I never got a whole bunch when I was that little girl) many.  Sometimes that’s what life is like.  Inside there is a fistful of balloons waiting for me to just let it all go.

One thing this little girl did learn…


When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

When I was young, I fell in love
I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows, day after day
Here’s what my sweetheart said.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich
I tell them tenderly.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

 – Doris Day


20 thoughts on “Letting Go Of Balloons

  1. John Richardson

    Hope keeps us fluffy! And, that’s a balloon we never have to let go of. You should write poetry Cate, you have the heart of a poet. Loved this post!

  2. I’m not sure if other people feel the same, but whenever I look at old pics, I have no recognition of myself. Perhaps this has something to do with dissociation from childhood or maybe everyone feels the same. Seeing your pic and post just made me realise that.

    I understand why you cannot say too much about what each balloon contains, but I do appreciate how this might ‘set you free’

    A lovely post, Cate!

    1. I’ve been thinking about that recognition of ourselves. For a while now, and as a result of therapy, I have chosen to see pictures of me as a child as someone separate from who I am today. I did it because I could show that child more compassion than I could feel for myself now. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to combine the two again.

  3. Gosh, Cate, what you say sounds simple enough, but it feels weird that my brain just isn’t calculating. I’ve never been able to combine the pics of the child and myself, but thought everyone was like this.

    Today, I plan to write something about my relationship with dissociation. If it’s okay by you, I’d like to tag this post.

  4. Go for it. Of course you need to consider that maybe I’m the odd one out here. Now that is highly likely. Perhaps what you’re doing is perfectly normal (dare I say it?). I’m off to read your post.

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  6. So funny! I was just listening to Que Sera, Sera, 10 minutes before I found this post. I remember the lesson of losing my balloon. Another interesting fact is that I too have a picture of my little girl on my blog. She is so important because she was still untouched by the world when the photo was taken. I grieve the loss of her innocence. She was so sweet and happy.

    One thing I’m struggling with right now is the fear of putting my story all out there in the public eye, but unlike you, I have decided to go all in and talk about people, places and events. Sure, I’ll change names and things, but when it comes to my mother there really isn’t another name for that. I’ve been a prisoner of hiding for so long and to be honest, after putting everything I have into building good healthy relationships with my family, I’m still off to the side in every sense. What do I have to lose? Nothing because no one is standing here working to keep a relationship with me.

    I need to take care of me first. I have lived in the fear of what people would think for 42 of 47 years of life. It’s time to come out of the shadow for me. Do you ever feel that respecting others who were responsible for your pain and sadness is loyalty undeserved? I do, but I seem to remember learning somewhere that people like me are conditioned to give loyalty to our abusers.

    My dad always said, “What! Are you writing a book?” Well yes dad, and I’m not going to leave that chapter out!!!!!

    PS thank you for inspiring my post today. 🙂

    1. It’s a really hard one when it comes to identifying people and places. I published a book back in 2009. You’ll find the link on the right of my blog screen, to download it free, if you are interested. My family actually coped with it really well, although I think that even though I had told them lots there were still surprises. It’s hard with naming parents though, because you can’t change ‘mum’ to anything else. I guess that’s why I choose not to write about my relationship with my mother (my father has died now) out of respect for her. But that’s my choice and it’s one we all have to make individually. I hope you can work out what is right for you.

      And inspiring your post today? Wow! I love it when I inspire someone to write. Thank you so much for telling me. I’m heading there to have a read. 🙂

    2. Cassie, I can’t find the right link for your post from today. Am I right in thinking you have two blogs? Not sure which I want. Would you mind giving me the link to the right place. Thanks. 🙂

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  8. Linda Morse


    I can’t tell you how timely and meaningful this post is to me at this very moment. You have put into words things that I’ve been desperately trying to work through. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve posted most of it (with credit given to you) on my FB page, with a picture of the little girl that follows me around.

    Thank you for your courage, and for allowing yourself to be publicly vulnerable. You are helping many people to realize they are not alone in their boats.

    Lots of love,

    1. Hi Linda, Thanks so much for your comments. They means a very great deal to me. Yes, of course that is fine that you have shared my words. Thank you for the credit. I hope you can find your way through the difficult time you are facing. ❤ Cate

  9. Well, this is odd. I seem to remember reading this post but I can see that I had not “liked” it nor I commented on it.

    Last year was such a roller coaster for me…

    My mother used to sing that song for me (in Spanish, of course). Also, that song is tied to a painful memory from when I was in 2nd grade (6 years old), a memory that has nothing to do with my mother but sadly enough, pretty soon after that… well, that’s a post on itself. Perhaps I didn’t comment on this one, because of all the triggers it has for me.

    I too loved balloons. I too, had to learn to let go. I too, have a picture just like yours, with my father in it.

    That little girl still follows me around everywhere. Or rather, I follow that little girl, trying to catch up with her.

    All that is to say, I know the pain. I know for sure that my pain is not the same as yours and even though nobody but you know your pain, I feel for you and I wish you don’t hurt anymore

    1. Thanks. I think that whether that little girl follows us or we follow her, it is a very good thing to have in our lives. Maybe that is good that comes from pain. I wonder that because I think most people are unaware of that little girl. I think that in that sense we are lucky.

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