On Saturday morning, I woke up struggling with a range of emotions. The third grader in me felt vulnerable and needy and frightened after last week’s therapy session. She was hurt that E had forgotten what happened to her. She was shocked at how hot and electric and alive the memory felt for her when it came up in the session. Her head was full of “I’m so bad…” She wanted to reach for E but at the same time wasn’t sure if that was a safe thing to do.
I tried to call up what E and I had talked about the day before, what we had talked about a hundred times before. I am not only that third grader. I am also the Wise Woman, who is capable of caring for the girl and willing to do it.
So what would the Wise Woman do?
Well, who know if this is actually something wise to do, but this is what the Wise Woman did. She texted E, who she knew was at the beach with her husband for the weekend.
Hi. I hope the beach is wonderful. I’m feeling a bit guilty to disturb you. And yet…
Some young part of me has become very unsettled about Wednesday’s session. “Why wouldn’t she remember? Doesn’t it matter? Maybe I don’t matter. I don’t matter to E. I’m not important. Of course i’m not important, because after all, I’m dirty and bad and unbearable…” etc.
Wise Woman comes, hand on her heart, “Oh little one, it is so scary and painful to feel you don’t matter, to feel someone you love doesn’t care for you. I can tell you it isn’t true. But I can see you doubt me too. Shall I ask E for some reassurance? Yes, it’s risky–but I trust her, and I’ll take that risk. Yes, it’s interrupting her weekend at the beach. We can apologize for that and trust that she meant it when she said we could text, when she said she wanted to help in the moment.”
“Dear little one, I see how you feel scared and wounded. And it sucks, I know. Let’s have some tea, and I’ll text E. And I’ll hod you close to me, caring for you, knowing she may not be checking her phone and that a delayed response doesn’t mean anything either way.”
Phew! World’s longest text.
I received a reply about an hour later.
Dear Wise Woman, Thank you so much for caring so gently and respectfully for that scared little one. I like how trusting she is of you by sharing her stories of distrust and fear. Looks like she is fully trusting you these days. You’re a good mom to her.
Of course I care deeply for that girl, too. I want her to know I adore her and do not see her as dirty. Never have. Never will. She is precious, even in her fear and distrust. She longs to be loved. I’m glad she has both of us reassuring her of her value. Hold her tight.
Future apology accepted.
It’s a kind message, loving, but I can’t take it in. All I can feel is the “future apology accepted.” And even though it’s sent with an emoticon, and even though I know she is trying for a light touch at the end, and even though I know tone in texting is a bitch, what I feel is:
- Yes, you definitely owe me an apology.
- Because you are disturbing me.
- Because for god’s sake, I am not at your beck and call.
- You are being insufferable.
- Can you just lighten up a bit and get over yourself?!?
It’s hard to look at those statements, to know they are irrational and not what she said, and yet to admit: that’s what I feel she was communicating. I know that’s part of the conversation we’ll need to have this evening (Monday).
I didn’t answer her text, not even with the short thank-you it deserved. If I answered, I’d need to say, no, that doesn’t feel right. And I didn’t want to increase the need to apologize by really getting into it by text. It would set us both up for frustration. It needs to wait for an in-person conversation. One that I’m not sure how to start. One that I’m afraid to start. But I will, I will do it somehow. That’s the Wise Woman’s obligation to the girl.