Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dark skies

She's a worrier, has been since forever and enough so that I've talked to her pediatrician about it and he says just talk to her, just keep on talking to her.

But sometimes she won't talk.

At the beginning of the summer we were driving one morning with the windows down. Her sister was eating a granola bar and impulsively, in the way two-year-olds are impulsive, she threw the wrapper out the window. E began to cry.

But that's litter! The police will be mad at us! You have to go back and get it!

I explained to her that I couldn't stop the car in the middle of the road. I told her about street cleaners. She stopped crying.

I thought it was enough.

We had a tornado warning today. Watch and wait is the protocol, right? Try to carry on, but watch. Be prepared to shelter if necessary.


A month into summer she sobbed deep moaning tears as I turned out her lights at bedtime. She wanted to know when the police were coming to take me to jail.

For the littered granola wrapper.

Today: I don't know what was wrong. She can't tell me.

I think I let a worry stay inside me too long and it got tangly and now it's sticking to other worries and I can't get this one out and now they're all tangly together and sitting in my belly and I can't get any of them out and now I feel very sad and I don't even know which one is why.

I'm watching intently, but I don't know what I'm looking for.

There was the time when I was just not much older than she is now and one of the McLeod boys was bullying me on the playground and I don't remember what he did but I remember he told me not to tell my mom or he'd do something worse, even though I don't remember what the worse was, and I got so tangly in my belly that I couldn't let the sad out, either, and so I punched my brother as hard as I could because I was so corkscrewed with small-body-big-emotion anxiety that my worries came out of me sideways, through my fist.

I know she holds her worries close because they scare her. And I understand her words, even as I know that she's stronger than I was and it's not helping her now, because she's more in control of herself than I was, and she knows she can't let her worries out in a way like that and she's holding tight so they don't explode outward with shrapnel.

We took a long walk. We walked away from school and work. We climbed the steps of the parking garage. We sat in its shade. I don't know if this is the shelter she needs. I don't know how to help her untangle her knots.

CAUTION: FEELINGS IN MIRROR MAY BE LARGER THAN THEY APPEAR

The tornado didn't touch down by us today but there were heavy rains and we had a wild thunderstorm yesterday and one in the early hours of the day before that and the radar shows we'll have another one tomorrow and it's August in the mid-Atlantic so I'm sure there's a long string of dark, rumbly storms approaching us and my first baby, she's upset and can't tell me why.


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Edited to add: this post was spotlighted as Blogher's Voice of the Week, which is humbling and wonderful. And although E spent most of that evening and night crying, she was her usual cheerful self the next morning. We still don't know what was wrong. I still watch, waiting for the tangles to hurt again. Pin It

11 comments:

This Heavenly Life said...

First, I'm hurting for your little girl. Poor thing. To be feeling such anxiety at such a young age, and to have it take such precedence in her everyday life...poor thing.

But Second: Wow. She's so in tune to her feelings that she can explain them to you -- even if she doesn't know what's causing them -- with such depth of understanding...I'm amazed at her knowledge of herself. I think she'll be okay :)

But I'm praying that she (and you) can find ways to manage the anxiety in the meantime. I sound like a broken record, but...poor thing.

Ninotchka said...

Oh, boy can I ever relate. I drown in Elle's worries and tears. She's my soulful moaner. She will just sob and sob and I'll talk and soothe and it's exhausting and heartbreaking and then she snaps out of it and is perfectly fine until the next time. It's been a while since she's done this. I hope she's outgrowing it.

Laura said...

I was like this and I probably still am I've just learned to live with it. You're doing the right thing. Your there for her and even at her young age she knows that she can come to you when she's ready. I told my parents things I should have as a child much to late. Just watch and ask because you can't see what's inside if they learn to hide it. Your a great mom and she'll grow pass the worries.

SmartBear said...

Oh, dear... It's so hard to hear their pain. Comforting her is the best that you can do. Often times, people try to rationalize things too much...make the worries go away. I have to tell you thought that you must be doing an awesome job with her on her communication skills. For her to be able to spell it out for you like that is really a good thing. I know that doesn't make you feel better, but...Learning to cope with feelings that are hard is part of growing up. With your help, she will find things to do that help her to relax and relieve some of those worries.
All the best, (and banishing all tornados)
Tina

thepsychobabble said...

Anxiety is awful at any age:(

MojoMama said...

As much as I feel overwhelmed by my son's Aspergers, and all the things that come with it, I can't imagine having to help calm and shoulder the anxiety of a child. You are incredible to be able to handle that.

lu said...

I am so sorry you are going through that. You will be on my mind.
Thank you for linking up with BlogHer@Home

Michele said...

I agree with This Heavenly Life in that it's great that your daughter is in tune with her feelings (as hard as it much be for you to comfort her). It is rare to find that. Most kids would have a hard time just expressing themselves. I think the only thing you can do is continue to listen and she'll let you know if she needs more support.

Jeanine said...

Poor thing! I feel for her.

My son gets anxious, too, and I don't always know it. Sometimes, he tells me much later and I ache for him carrying it all by himself.

We have talked about ways of dealing with fear and anxiety. I'm a healing practitioner who has taught him everything I know. And still, I know he gets anxious, too.

Jeanine

Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points said...

I saw your post at BlogHer today and just needed to read.

What an ache you must be feeling right now.

Although I have not read the book myself, some close friends have and I wondered if there might be some suggestions in it for you, it's called "The Highly Sensitive Person," and there's a follow-up called "The HIghly Sensitive Child" by Elaine Aron. I tend to approach these sorts of books cautiously, but some people I respect quite a bit have found some help there.

Fingers crossed for your girl.

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

You've done a wonderful job putting the experience into words for her. Just being there for her to talk to when she's able must be such a comfort to her now and in the future. Best of luck!