I was originally going to title this SAFETY but I am not sure that it is the best descriptor for how I am feeling.
I spent the weekend with a lovely three-year-old who is full of life, wonder, and hope. She processes her raw emotions for the most part before they spill out, though, at times, they slip out in their messiness.
I was amazed by her ability to soothe, express and protect herself. She made up songs to help her understand what was going on around her. She talked through her thoughts, but they were already packaged into her way of making sense of the world.
Still, one of her coping mechanisms was to share her thoughts.
I noted her desire to be self-sufficient. It was a little like looking in the mirror. I felt a twinge of hypocrisy as I explained to her that sometimes it was okay to ask for help rather than struggle.
We examined how it might heighten the anxiety to try to resolve a challenge by ourselves when we could just ask for help. By the end of the weekend, she was not so reticent about telling me what I could do to help – or when she needed me to keep her company.
As she watched me pack, her little eyes darted back and forth from her things to my things. She acknowledged that now she had become so comfortable with my presence, she was going to miss me.
My visceral response to her was such that whenever I put her for a nap or to sleep, I dissolved into tears.
My first inclination was to understand the reaction as safety. Far enough from home, I could do more than just look at my emotions, I could feel them. The frustration, the helplessness, the fear and the sadness spilled out over and over again.
I was happy to be alone, tied to the house as she slept peacefully.
I can't say that I processed any of those just emotions.
I was happy, so to speak, to just release. Instead of thorns pricking me whenever I came near, the feelings became a salty river washing out and away from me.
Now as I come to the close of that time with Princess A., I realize that it was not just "safety" that allowed the feelings to emerge.
I have been feeling so stretched that any movement would tear me from my moorings. I wondered if I was even still grounded to anything at all.
My body, even post massage, testifies to the taut, stiff, tense sensations.
I need to stretch and I can't at home.
The therapist has been pushing me to think about what I need and how I can get it.
My friends, too, have been suggesting I move or remove myself from the tension. I become paralyzed, deer in the headlights, in the midst of the chaos of home when it comes to my own needs/safety. I move into fix-it-mode for everyone else. They sense my can do it spirit and ask for more. I don't suggest I need replenishment and neither do they.
This is not a long term solution … neither are vacations. Real life needs to be more balanced.
I hope that realization will help move me to resolution. We'll see…