Parenting brings obstacles and challenges like none that we've ever dealt with before. My first was when my son was born. He was the most difficult baby I'd ever come across, and I got to be with him all the time. I remember how defeated and discouraged I was, and how I thought to myself, "I can't do this. I can't parent this child, make him happy, stay sane. I don't even want to". I didn't know how I was going to get through his infancy and this obstacle felt like the greatest obstacle of my life.
We got through it, I got through it. Time passed and allowed me to forget the depth of the struggle so that when the next challenge arose, that one felt like a new biggest and worst. The new challenge was now the thing that was going to end all civilized thought in my head. Again, we got through. Time and again, challenges, the biggest and worst, have arisen. Each time I have thought, "How? What am I supposed to do with this? Help! Please!" And, time and again, we've made it. Help has been there, time has eased wounds and ironed wrinkles. Knowing all that, I'm still not sure this time. I've reached my biggest and worst. This feels like it.
My daughter, the sweet, caring, quirky girl that she is, is sad. She's riddled with anxiety about school and friends. She's rekindled her previous preoccupation with death (she struggled a lot with this after her grandpa died). My sensitive girl that won't even let us kill an insect in our home has taken to trying to cut herself.* She did this in the past once or twice and has started again. It is all superficial and experimental, but scary to me none the less (which she says is not an attempt to hurt herself, or to kill herself, but, a way to release anxiety and pain). My daughter does not feel like she fits in, has the typical tweenage self-esteem issues, and has misplaced her usual joy for a somber existence of hiding behind her hair and expressing all of her feelings with a shrug of her shoulders.
This is a punch to the gut. All of us watch our happy toddlers diddling with their toys and have visions of their futures. When they play with their dolls we think, oh, what a great parents they will be! Or, when they help around the house because they love sweeping, we feel pride that they will be orderly and clean. When they play doctor we imagine them as real doctors, saving lives and making an impact. You get the point. We never look at them as they giggle and play and think, oh, what a depressed and withdrawn teenager they will be! I sure hope they make it to adulthood after they experiment with _________. But, that is where my head is now. I see her, my daughter who truly was going to change the world, and I wonder, will she be there to change it herself, or will it be the memory of her that changes it? How awful and morbid, I know. But, it's my biggest and worst.
I hope this is a phase. I hope that she is taking a little seed of normal adolescent sadness and blowing it out of proportion. I hope this is all show. How do I know? I don't. All that I can do is take this seriously and protect her and love her completely. I can hold on to her everyday and let her know just how big a piece of my heart she holds. I can tell her over and over how empty I would be with out her, how much her pain pains me, and that I will do anything and everything I can to get her through this.
There it is. It's all out there. I need help to help her. If you have ideas or prayers, I will gladly accept both.
*I really wrestled with sharing this. She's my child and I want to respect her privacy, and, there is a lot of judgement that comes with having a child that does this. Judgement on her, judgement on us. However, I want to help her. I cannot help her if the pain is hidden. And, I need help of my own to be able to be there for her.