Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Running red lights...waiting in yellow...and onto green.

I stopped her….for me………

And I shouldn’t have.


Let me explain.

Watermelon, my 9 year old daughter, is the one who shares many of my social anxieties and in her young little life has already experienced full blown panic attacks.

When we go to a party with oodles of kids there – her age….she’s the kid who will stay next to me. Usually grabbing my shirt…so as not to lose me. Or holding my hand. She is the one who will stay in the house if going out means she has to see people she doesn’t know. She is the one who will turn down invitations to things if me and her Dad aren’t going. She will turn down an outstretched hand full of candy if it means she has to reach for it.

As a toddler – my sister, my mother, my brothers, Rambo’s family – not one of them could hold her or she’d scream. Most of the time she wouldn’t bring her head up from our neck to even look at them. It wasn’t making strange – it was way beyond that. Being the mature adults they are – they took it personally and held it against her and me.

They’d ask, “Why won’t she let us hold her or even look at her? Why doesn’t she like us?“

I remember one time my mother and sister had an intervention of sorts…they sat me down to tell me basically I was parenting her wrong. That it was my fault she wouldn’t go to them and didn’t like anyone but me and her dad. And that it was hurting them. Wow. Really?

Her symptoms have improved. Rambo and I have forced her most of her life to step out of her comfort zone.

You must go outside….to see it won’t hurt you.
You must go play with those other little girls….to see it can be fun.
You must go to the party…to see it’s not as bad as it seems.
You must let Grandma hold you…to see she loves you too.
You must let go of me…to see you have the strength to be in this world on your own.

And I’ve seen her change. If I used to ask her to run over to the neighbor’s to get her sister, she’d say no….unless I went with her. When I’d tell her to let go of me and go play with the others, she’d refuse outright.

Now – she runs to the neighbors by herself all the time. She has invited friends over. She has gone to parties.

She is more herself without even knowing it.

But the other day I stopped her from branching out – for me…..because of my fears. And it’s ridiculous.

Now, I’m not actually beating myself up over this though maybe I should be. I did it, it’s over. She doesn’t know what happened. I need to write it out to move on. I recognize it and won’t do it again. I guess I’m just surprised I’m not as “better” as I thought. It’s one of those weird defining moments I think I’ll always remember.

I am completely aware that this seems like not a big deal to most of you. To me, it is. Wrong or right – it just is.

My girls were outside playing. I had known from looking out the window that the neighbor’s cute chick-a-wow-wow (chihauhau) had been out running around. I thought later I’d go out and pet it. I had seen Watermelon over at the neighbor’s before with it – all by herself….another victory as I smiled to myself and went on my way with cleaning.

It got later and I went out to get the girls to bring them in. I met Watermelon in the grass and told her it was time to come in. I said, “Where did the puppy go? I wanted to pet him.”

Watermelon said, “Oh, he’s around the other side of the house with Tim. Let me go get him.” And she starts yelling, “Tttiiiimm!!!”

And I say – “Stop – NO – don’t – forget it. I”ll see him another time.” And my stomach is churning already. I’m panicking. I can’t see the neighbor. I’m not prepared. This is too spontaneous. I can't believe she's running towards him - he's going to see her and then I'll have to talk to him.....and...


She WANTS me to see the puppy so she starts to run towards their house and is still yelling and I say louder, “Watermelon – NOOO – we’re going in. Leave them alone.”

She stops. We go in. My blood pressure returns to normal right before I realize what I just did and what she just did.

First of all – she just sought out an adult….yelled for them…with no fear…….no hesitation….without asking me to go with her.

Second of all – I stopped her….because of my fears…my hesitation…my weakness.

What could have been a moment of victory for her in seeking an adult out with no fear, petting a cute puppy with mom and laughing….was nothing.

I let it be nothing.

Except a moment of clarity. That I have a long ways to go. That little tiny things that are so easy for others are still hard for me. That fear can still rule my actions. That Watermelon has come a long way.

It honestly makes me wonder how many times I’ve “stopped” her from living. And actually I’m not ready to answer that question. I know the answer – and it’s a lot. And I’m not ready to face that guilt just yet or accept it or forgive myself for it. Staying in the house and turning down invitations and being scared to do things without Rambo….well….that affects my girl’s lives too and that’s pretty shameful.

I thought I was further along in this journey until one little thing slaps me back to reality. I will not stop fighting though.

I’ve been stuck at a red stoplight for a long, long time….and recently found my way into the cautious world of yellow….and I swear I’m going to get to green. And I’ll never stop going once I get there.

And Watermelon will be with me in the passenger seat….holding my hand because she loves me….not because she’s scared.


~ Katie ~ said...

I just want to drive to your job, hop out and give you a big 'ol bear hug...

MrsFatass said...

I can't stop doing things like this to my son. And now? He does them to me too. Sometimes.

Sometimes I hate being crazy.

I have a very good friend who I've shared a lot of my crazy secrets with lately. He has heard me rail against it over and over. And he said "You know what? You don't get to just wish you were different. You don't get to just wish for normal. Because you're not. You're special. And you're not special because of your symptoms. You're special despite them."

I think what he means is that our kind of special, Draz, you and me and our kids? Counts double. Because we have to work so hard to get to it.

I'm going with that today. I like it. I'm going to allow people to see how hard I work to get to normal. And I'm going to let the people who love me think I'm brave or special because of it. Wanna join me?

Pamela E. Williams said...

You have to realize that both you and Watermelon are on this journey. Don't beat yourself up because yellow is for caution, take it slow. You will get to green, I know you will.

Just Me said...

I wish we could talk in person. I've been through this...however, my daughter is 27. I'm glad you are proceeding to yellow. It's not a bad place to be.

Amanda said...

I really really enjoy reading your posts! Thank you for sharing your life!

LDswims said...

I think you are right to not beat yourself up about this. It is what it is and you recognize it and that's ginormously huge! That means, to me, that the red light is most definitely in the past. I'm gonna be that person that says you will probably always hesitate and that's ok. That's protection in multiple ways. Sometimes yellow is the best, sometimes green is fun, and sometimes red is necessary. I think you have learned that distinction and that's nothing to beat yourself up over.

And as much as there is all that I just said, sometimes it just isn't in us to talk to the neighbor. Sometimes it's really ok to just want to go inside and get back to what you were doing. "Normal" people do that all the time.

There is no normal, though. We are only normal in our abnormalities.

Jess said...

Oh Draz! ((((hugs))) You can do this. You have come far already. Even with a ways to go, there is light at the end of this tunnel, too.

DB said...

You know my fears & feelings so well - {{{HUGS}}}

Julie, The Accidental Fat Chick said...

Wow, again! I do that same type of thing to my son all of the time... without even realizing it... sometimes because I'm afraid of the action & embarrassingly enough sometimes because I just can't take the idea of having to explain or endure looks from one more person because he is "different." The fact that you realize it says you've come a long ways & will keep going to you blow through green. Loves you. {{HUGS}}

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

I think journeys like yours are developmental in nature. It's like a spiral staircase.

Same place.

Higher up.

You couldn't realize this without working so hard to get this high. And it's a good thing you did because life keeps rolling. You've got this babe.

MandaPanda said...

While I haven't admitted this to people other than saying I can sometimes be very "shy," I know I've done this to my daughter. Kids' birthday parties are the worst for me. Obviously, my daughter would love to go to all of them. So far, I've only allowed it once and it's because my hubby agreed to take her. I get anxious just thinking about having to socialize with the other parents to the point that I don't let her go to these. To a certain extent, I understand what you're saying here. Your journey is really moving along and it's great that you can recognize your weaknesses and work to move past them. Thanks for sharing!

Juli's Journey said...

You totally just described my daughter, Drazil. lol. She is nonstop dancing, singing, and talking at home, but won't leave my side or speak a word in public. She has finally started to come out of her shell. Don't beat yourself up. I think I would have done the same thing.

Building Blocks Bootcamp said...

Your reaction is completely normal. Sometimes it is a mother's intuition and sometimes it is our fear, but it is always normal! The good thing to remember (lol) is that this won't be the last time! Even if you didn't struggle with anxiety etc...this would STILL happen! My girls are 11 and 14 and "Kitty" just went to the Homecoming football game for the first time with a bunch of friends! If I wasn't the picker-upper and dropper-offer of the 6 girls(lol) I might have stopped her.

For me - I wanted to turn back time.

For all of us - this too shall pass...

Read said...

Her victory is no less a victory because she didn't see Tim. Her victory is to be celebrated, perhaps privately just between you and yourself. But she still was ready, willing, and able to seek out an adult without being attached to you. The fact that she didn't actually get to see him, because he went inside or she did, doesn't make her victory any less real!!! So yay Watermelon!

That you still have a ways to go on your journey just makes you human. We all have our things and some of them are bigger than others, but we are all working - one step at a time - to get better at our things. I tell people (even myself) that I just don't like people - that makes it easier for me to say no to going to larger group things. I think it's much more accurate to say people terrify me - at least the ones I don't know. I can fake my way through it if I have to, but man I don't like to have to do that.

You recognized what you did and didn't like it. That's something you have the opportunity to consider and deal with. You can now plan how you might deal with it if you're faced with the same situation in the future and maybe it'll be the same way - maybe you're not ready for that step. So find another that you are ready to take and be happy with that step!

Read said...

OH and I must say - I have done this to my kids many, many times. I hold them back if it means I have to go too - luckily I am married to an extremely social person who just loves people and can talk to anyone at anytime about anything. He has taken the kids to roughly 90% of all birthday parties and other similar outings in their lives and they are now 12 and nearly 10. We deal however we deal.

Cindylew said...

The 2 of you can start teaching each other...I know you think that's not the way it's supposed to be but what is. The best thing for her to witness from you is that you're constantly trying to improve your life and your relationships with your family...and I'm sure she see's that much more often than what you can't put out of your mind from yesterday.
Do better tomorrow...what else can any of us do???

Bonnie said...

At least you recognize what you did and hopefully will do it differently next time.

Band-Babe said...

Talk with her about it? I find myself in situations JUST like THAT... and when I know I'm not handling something well... I acknowledge to them that I recognize it, and wish I could do better, and am trying to do better. They are truth detectors, so they know if I'm being genuine. It let's me be human without guilt, and let's them see it's ok to have issues, it's just how you deal with them... Your girls are lucky to have you... you may not be perfect... but you are amazing...

Dizzy Girl said...

Like you said girl- not a big deal. Recognize it, decide next time to make a different choice if you're not happy with the one you made- then move on. No point in dwelling on the past- you can't change it. Watermelon will forget this incident in a day; you need to forget it too. Not as in- forget it- it doesn't matter. Just as in- you are okay. You're learning. :)