The Little White Bear

by Paula Bishop

Huddled, shivering with fear
the pale little animal,
like a small white bear,
hides deep in the darkness
"What are you?" I ask
"Sorrow. Loss. Grief. Pain." comes the reply
Why does he hide?
He crouches, terrified
because before when he tried to emerge
he was pushed back
brutally, suddenly
screamed at
even by me, I realize, as sobs catch in my throat
so he hides
unable to move.
It's okay, little one.
Come out into the light.
I will try to accept you
protect you
He's stopped trembling.
He knows he's being watched, but somehow,
not attacked.
Slowly he unfolds
creeps towards the opening
peeks out into the light.
It's okay. Come on out.
I'm here.
He sniffs the air and comes out
looks around
It's beautiful out here!
The sun is so warm
glancing off my fur.
That's right, little one.
It's okay.
He stands in the light, looks around.
What was I afraid of?
Before it was stormy, and I hid.
Now I think I will sit here in the sun.
After a while of calm peacefulness
He laughs with joy
"I will lie here and grow fat and tan in the sun!" he cries

It all started with anger
feeling it deep down in my throat
and above my heart
cutting off my words
Now that it's safe, I tell him
"I asked the one I loved if he had a partner for the last waltz, and he said with a *look*
'No, but don't ask me for it!'"
"RRROAR!" cries the little white bear
showing pearly white teeth.
"How dare he! What a jerk!
Let me at him--I'll chew on his shirt-tails!"
He is indignant that someone would be so callous.
paternalistic. "superior."
"Don't worry about it," I sooth him.
"He doesn't care, but that's HIS problem, not ours.
Let's forget about him and play instead."
So we romp and cavort, and he gives me snuffly kisses all over my face.
I ride on his back.
He's grown bigger and stronger somehow.
"I love you." I tell him, "I accept you just the way you are."
He sighs with happiness, sinking against me.
"I've waited so long to love you.
So long to not be terrified of you.
It feels good."
I am delirious with happiness ;)


The Little White Bear symbolizes things associated with the inner child--childhood feelings, playfulness, joy of discovery, etc.

The dark hole was hidden parts of myself that I was ignoring/running away from.

The outside landscape symbolizes my mind--it used to be dark and stormy, and now it is much much nicer. I call it the "mental landscape."

I wrote the Little White Bear (and illustrated it) after a trip to the therapist's office, in which she asked, "How are you today?" and I replied, "Angry!" She seized on that immediately, saying, "Where do you feel that anger?" and confused for a moment, I focused in, and found it as sort of a "knot" in between my throat and heart. "Look at that anger," she continued, "what do you see?" To my surprise, I saw a tiny huddled white bear, shivering like crazy--with fear. And the fear came from childhood--this was childhood stuff, feelings, free self expression, playfulness, joy of discovery, etc., that had not been "acceptable" in me as a child, so was therefore pushed back down my throat (the place of expression). My mother had been quite verbally abusive, screaming, throwing things, etc, and we were all quite terrified of her, and the sense I got was it was first HER displeasure that chased "the little white bear" away down into that dark place of hiding. But then, growing into adulthood, the inner critic (who sounded for years just like my mother) took over in critical abuse of free expression, and continued to drive it down. The very act of looking at the white bear and not screaming at it, I think, was bringing consciousness into play. It saw that it was being observed, and not driven away, so tacitly accepted. It stopped shivering and looked alert. My therapist then asked me, "What does he want to do?" "He wants to come back out, into the light." "Well, urge him on," she urged me. I sent thoughts of acceptance and protection towards the bear, and told him to "come out into the light" so as in the poem, he crept up the little hill, not really sure of what he'd find. He was very surprised to find a cheerful, sunny landscape! He didn't just bolt out into it, for he didn't really trust it, at first, but when it held true, after a few minutes, then he relaxed into it. That's when my therapist prompted me to bring up what caused my anger with the little white bear, to see his reaction. To my surprise, I had a new advocate, who spoke in a very childlike way, being from childhood. He followed me all day and into the next, in my imagination, growing bigger all the time. I was having a good bit of "shamanic experiences" at that time, and had many visitors to my imagination, so later, when the inner child came out too, she and the bear played delightfully, being from the same era, as it were (and disproving the notion that the little white bear WAS the inner child).