A Pain No Greater … part one

by Lana Bardot

*originally written March 14, 2011

It’s been a long, struggling weekend. I just signed off with a loved one after failing miserably to explain why the emotions I’ve had inside me have been storming with an intensity that even left me somewhat bewildered. Frustrated and emotionally drained, I smoked my last cigarette of the night and headed to bed. Searching for the comfort and safety of sleep, my mind began to run a million miles a minute and the tears just began to flow uncontrollably. The more I tried to shut my thoughts out, the more I tried to stop crying … the more intense they came. I laid in bed confused and hurting, wanting nothing more then to have someone recognize my pain and simply just hold me. But there was no one there. No arms to wrap around me, no lips to kiss my forehead, nobody to just hold me tight all night long and whisper that everything was going to be okay as I drifted to sleep in their arms.

I was left with nothing but my thoughts and tears. I knew that one of us was going to give sooner than the other, fortunately, it was me. I stopped trying to fight them and began to truly listen as my mind processed my thoughts and emotions, and it was only then that my tears stopped to fall and realization sank in. It was completely lost on me all weekend long and I took it out on someone else because I didn’t know how to deal with it. The truth is, I didn’t even know what it was, or more importantly, where it all came from. It’s amazing what the stillness of the night can open your eyes to if you are brave enough to face it.

It was last Thursday, half way through the one of the vote-off episodes of American Idol, season 10, that my 8 year old daughter came to me and wanted to talk about her father. It took me by surprise, because, this had never been a topic she felt open enough to discuss, let alone bring up on her own. She had always asked her questions at random times and quickly closed the door when she got an answer that seemed good enough for her. In some way I was thankful, because I had never felt truly equipped enough to talk in depth with her about the abusive nature of her father … my husband. (I realize now, how naive of me that was, but, we will get to that soon enough.) We started slow and easy. She led and I followed. She asked her simple questions and I answered them as best as I could with love and honesty.

It wasn’t until she told me with tears welled up in her gorgeous big brown eyes and her precious voice cracking, “I feel humiliated to show my emotions … I am suppose to be strong,” that I knew that this was going to be a much deeper conversation than I had initially expected.

~ 2:42 A.M., my mind is calm, the tears are gone … I can finally rest. I will continue this tomorrow. ~

I held my daughter’s hand and brought her to my bathroom. It’s always been my safe refuge, my place to be alone, free from distractions and just the freedom of silence to keep me company. I sat on the stool of my dresser as she stood in front of me. Her eyes were staring into mine, and for the first time, she opened the doors wide open to her heart and showed me all the pain she’s been keeping hidden from the world, and from me. My heart shattered into a million pieces in that moment. I was filled with every emotion in the book, but my pain had to wait. She needed me more than anything else in the world right then, and I had to be with her.

I pulled her tight into my arms and told her softly, “You just worry about being a kid and having fun, sweetheart. Let, mommy, worry about all the grown up stuff. That’s my job.”

She began to open up to me in a way she never has before. Sharing with me, in her 8-year-old language, all the thoughts and questions she couldn’t process and answer, trying desperately to understand why this had happened to us, to her. Her eyes were begging me for answers that I didn’t have. She wanted to know why her father was bad, wanted to know if all men were bad.

Helpless to give her an answer that she could understand, I told her as best I could, “Maybe your father was just like a cookie that wasn’t made with the right ingredients. You know how some taste so yummy, and some don’t? Maybe he was made with eggplant instead of chocolate chips.” At that point, I saw the light come shining back in her eyes and we both let out a little giggle at the ridiculous image of men dressed as chocolate chip and eggplant cookies.

“Sweetheart, I know it’s hard for you to understand, but, not all men are like your father. I know you are so angry at him, and it’s okay to be angry, but, you can’t be angry at all the men in the world. They didn’t do anything to hurt you.”

“You mean it’s like when I get mad at everyone, it could just be that I’m mad at dad?”

“Yes, sweetie, that’s it. And I know that you also have a hard time just playing and having fun because you are so mad at him. You know when you let your anger stop you from doing things you love and should be doing, it only hurts you more.”

“What do you mean? How can it hurt me?”

“Imagine all the anger and hurt you feel because of your father is like a balloon that you bring with you always. You know, like the ones that float and have a string that you hold?”

My daughter nods her head and I can see her imagination running wild in her eyes.

“Now, can you imagine what it might be like to get caught in the rain while still holding that balloon? How would you keep it from getting wet, when the wind is blowing it around? Or what if you were going to go play in a jungle gym, do you think you could manage to bring it with you through all the tunnels?”

Understanding slipped into her eyes, “Nah ah … that would be hard.”

“But here’s where it get’s a little scary, sweetie. If you were to bring it to bed with you, the string could wrap around your neck and hurt you. That’s kind of what all the anger and hurt you feel for your father is doing to you. You have to find a way to let it go so it doesn’t hurt you, just like you would have to let the balloon go flying up into the sky so that in doesn’t get in the way of you having fun and enjoying your only job in the world.”

“I have a job, mommy?”

“Of course you do, silly!” I said as I pulled her in tight to me, “Your job is to just be a kid and find ways to have fun.”

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4 Comments to “A Pain No Greater … part one”

  1. What an amazing example you are. Thank you so much. This post has been pressed on my blog.

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