I had all but stopped this blog since I started using Facebook. But with everything happening I need to write it down somewhere.
We have had to partially hospitalize our little girl.
This past August, while I was completing the last week of camp, the volcano of emotions that our daughter had been suppressing erupted, spewing poison on everything in its path. J had spent two nights with some neighbors at their shore house. She was a
little nervous going, but we had assured her that if at any time she
wanted to come home, we were a phone call away. We got the call; DH
went off to pick her up. She entered the car quietly, but as soon as he
pulled away from their shore house, the floodgates opened. By the time
they got home, he called me at camp.
This had come out of nowhere. Since I was working at a therapeutic camp, he brought her to me. I had never seen her like this. She was a wreck and had been sobbing on and off for most of the day. We had her sit down with one of the therapists, who was able to calm her down. By that evening we had brought her to the ER of a large children's hospital.
Her story emerged slowly that day, in bits and pieces, on her bed. She began with little stuff, testing to see my reaction, getting more and more weepy as she went on. Apparently she had been feeling guilt and anxiety for a long time now, and she was panicked at the idea that she may have done something wrong, something so horrible that she would be arrested and sent to jail forever. While away from home she heard on TV about the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. She heard a news reporter mention the discovery of a knife at the scene and began obsessively thinking about the knives at our house and how she could use one to hurt herself. Once she thought it she could not get the idea to stop ping-ponging in her mind, and that terrified her.
I can still see her lying in bed, her face buried in the pillows, crying, peeking up every once in awhile to gauge my reaction. "J, you could never do anything that would make me stop loving you," I explained as calmly as I could. "You could have murdered someone and I would still love you. I might be a little confused, but I would still love you." A tiny giggle emerged from the pillow.
She sat up, took a deep breath, and began talking to me about the guilt that has been gnawing at her. "I have been thinking about things that I have done years ago, things that I now know were wrong, things that might even be illegal." She paused, glancing at my face to make sure I was still okay. I worked to keep my face completely impassive. She continued, "Four years ago (when she was SIX) I did something with a friend and her younger brother that I now know was totally inappropriate. I didn't think it was that bad when we did it, but now I know and I feel so bad and I think if anyone finds out they will arrest me." At this, she threw herself back on the bed, sobbing so loudly that she soon was having trouble breathing. I worked with her to calm her breathing, and soon she was able to whisper this horrible, horrible crime: "We pulled down our pants and looked at each other's private parts."
In other words, they played "doctor," something most kids at that age have done for years. Something so common they have a cute name for it.
I began saying everything I could to assure her that this is normal, this is something most curious kids do. I asked her if they touch each other, and she shook her head. I asked her if it made her feel uncomfortable, and she said not really, but she kind of felt it was wrong. I asked her if it was something she did recently, and she quickly responded no with a shocked tone.
And I told her what she really needed to hear, "I still love you."
After the big secret was told, the others came pouring out. Little ones mostly, things like going along with her friends and not stopping them when they made jokes about another girl. Another that made her begin sobbing again was about a crank call. No, she didn't make a crank call, but she had actually contemplated helping her friend make a crank call. To the library. To ask if they had a book on how to make babies. No one actually made the phone call, but the fear that the security camera at school had recorded this conversation and the police were coming to lock her up was all she could think about. Every time she heard a police siren she tensed up, just knowing that it was coming for her. And she was terrified that a few years from now she would look back at something she was doing now and realize that it was totally wrong and inappropriate.
No matter how much I assured her that all of these things are normal, that she was not a bad person, that I still loved her, didn't matter. She FELT bad, and thought she should die.
That evening we drove her to the ER.