“When you really trust someone, you have to be okay with not understanding some things.”

14 Mar

When she’s gone my mind begins to fill up with all the things that can happen, slowly like I’m filling a pitcher from a drowsy tap. Images fill with bruises and indignity, how well do I know this other mother? Where have they been all day? What might be happening-what could be happening, the things I know that DO happen.

It’s not paranoia, not really, despite being impossible to explain to other parents, women and men who didn’t spend their childhood in a currency usually left to adults. In my brain lies a summer I can never leave behind, and it colors everything. I’m not paranoid, knowing that the worst can happen.

Rationally, I know it likely won’t. But it could, it can and I worry for all those reasons, even if it’s buried in my brain somewhere and the other mother laughs when I call and says “Man, don’t WORRY! She’s great!” I can’t tuck her away in my back pocket and hope nothing ever happens. I have to let her free-but that freedom costs. It huddles in the corner and whispers to me about boyfriends, neighbours, people she might meet. It whispers that they could be holding her down right now, taking pictures, ignoring her crying, hurting her.

It whispers of all the horrible things that happened to me, and more. “Be the person your mother wasn’t!” my body shouts, “Make sure she never hurts!” but then she walks in the door, eyes lit with 5 year old joy and frosty air and I know my fears are relatively misplaced, and that people, most people are good people who wouldn’t help someone else abuse a child I know this and try to wear the callous off my heart.

Pregnant I foresaw this. I felt her tiny feet in my ribs and knew that, if a daughter, I would place the little girl I was over top of her-I would make a transparency of my childhood and hover around it, waiting for the chance to erase the potential of what could be. I would protect her from everything that tried to destroy me.

I can’t though, you know? I can’t protect her from the world anymore than I can get North Korea to stop being asshats. She is in the world, on her own terms and while I can still guide and try to shape that world, I cannot prevent the bad things as I could when she was just an infant. That lesson they warn us, as parents that will hurt the most, it hurts doubly, knowing exactly, in technicolor, what terrible things could happen to her.

I might not ever get past it, the tenseness in my chest when she’s not home when she was to be home, the quiet worry when she walks out the door, into the hands of another woman, the possibilities of caution, the frank terror some of this holds for me, trusting someone, not just with me, but with my child, with the creature that turned beneath my heart such a short time ago.

Letting go of this, my worst fear, my scared little girl trying to make sure the worst doesn’t happen to my daughters-it’s a struggle. And maybe I’ll never grow past it and will always freeze up with momentary agony, remembering, wondering.

But maybe not. Maybe she’ll just come home, smelling of smoke and hay and joy, as a kid should.

13 Responses to ““When you really trust someone, you have to be okay with not understanding some things.””

  1. Jaci March 14, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    Aw, mommy anxiety is such a strong emotion! My mother tells me it never truly goes away, only lessens a little bit.

    I’m glad you’re able to put your own childhood aside and just focus on making hers a good one. My own mother was never really able to do that, so it’s good to see you are.

  2. Molly Chase March 14, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    My mother still has it, and I’m 33. I just sort of accept that I’m This Way, and the worry is a permanent condition.

  3. Wife and Mommy March 14, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    If you ever figure out how to get past that anxiety, please let me know how you did it. I struggle with it as well.

    I wanted to drop by to say thank you for your support in my Super Heavy Duty Post. I appreciate it greatly.

  4. Marcy March 15, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    It doesn’t sound pleasant, but it does sound like you have a good grasp both of your own feelings and the actual situation and what it calls for. Good work.

  5. Bon March 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    i think i get it, the balance you’re walking. i respect the self-control it takes, especially when you get those”don’t WORRY” admonitions from those who live in a different internal landscape, or who treat you as if you’re a twit fretting lightly, just a helicopter parent. where i walk similar paths – though we have not yet crossed those threshholds of days at others’ houses – it’s a hard balance to maintain, but i think the healthiest for the kids.

    my mom fretted to no end, terrified of all the things that never happened to me. but while i was busy NOT being hit by a bus, a hell of a lot of other crap happened that i wasn’t even looking for, so busy was i trying to show her that the world wasn’t as scary as she thought.

    my theory – and hope – is to strike the kind of balance you’re talking about here.

  6. Tisha March 16, 2009 at 4:38 am #

    I was sexually abused when I was a little girl.

    I constantly worry about my daughters playing at a friend’s house. I want to be there all the time to protect them and make sure that they don’t go through what I had to go through.

    How do you strike that balance? How do you make sure that you don’t moderate their lives by what happened in yours?

    And more than that, how do you educate them without making them paranoid and scared?

    • thordora March 16, 2009 at 6:39 am #

      That’s exactly what I fight with, everyday-knowing the demons that lurk, but also knowing that you can help guard against them. But not wanting to freak anyone out, not wanting to freak myself out.

      I suppose it would be easier if not for the fact that more of my friends have been abused than not.

      Someone gave me a great way to explain some of it to kids-I tell Vivian that if anyone tells her that she cannot come to me and tell me what happened, that she’s to IMMEDIATELY come to me, that NO ONE should ever ask this of her.

      I thought this was kinda awesome, and wish my mother had said it.

      Still, it’s a balancing act, and one I still haven’t mastered.

  7. Shana March 16, 2009 at 7:50 am #

    Ouch. What’s that about North Korea being asshats? I’d say the vast majority of North Koreans are NOT.

    • thordora March 16, 2009 at 9:29 am #

      I’m kinda referring to the government, not the poor peeps trapped inside…

  8. March March 16, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    I command you for even letting her go without you around, she’s still so little, I know for sure I won’t be able to do it so soon. although I did not go through your experience, my mother made sure she did indeed tell me that bad things could happen, I was never ever allowed to sleep over (she would pick me up no later than 10pm) and most of the time I would only play with daughters of my moms friends or long time school friends. she was that paranoid and I never thought ill of her, although it did not make me happy I understood somewhere in my mind why she did it. but i’m talking of when I was around 8-9, not sure how she handled it before that.

    I worry all the time too thus far, in all the playdates Im around, the only times she’s not with me is when she’s in school. don’t know when I’ll feel comfortable letting her have playdates out of my sight… I’ll host a million times, but it’ll be hard to let go, of course I knwo it’ll happen sometime. but I might do as my mother and set the rule of never sleeping over and never playing at a house in which I don’t know and trust the parents. although I’m well aware the trust is broken.

    its so tricky.
    now you’ve got me thinking…

  9. Tisha March 17, 2009 at 7:58 am #

    My mother did tell me that. Yet I still waited a long time before I told her what was going on. The fact that my abuser was a close family member could have had something to do with my reluctance to tell her.

    I have had that talk with my eldest daughter and added that it doesn’t matter WHO it is… even if it is her granddad or an uncle or even her own father.

    It really makes me sad that I have to have these types of conversations with her and that soon I will have to have the same conversation with her sister.

  10. Sol March 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Thanks thor…


  11. angharad March 22, 2009 at 2:54 am #

    i’m the same – i have really acute separation anxiety. but at the moment my son is really agrophobic so not going anywhere much… this parenting thing is tough at times. good on you for letting her go a little bit even if it costs you.

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