Recovering from our separation takes time. The kids have had different highs and lows the past four months, since we’ve been together again.
They’ve had anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, and insecurity like nothing they’ve had before.
We do the best we can to get through those times by talking about how they are feeling. Often, the way we get there seems kind of roundabout. They will say something or react to something someone says or does, in a way that seems mostly appropriate and obvious. But then, when we begin to talk about it, and dig deeper, I realize there is far more underneath than what is on the surface.
For several weeks, “G”, 13, has been much more insecure and tearful than usual. Whenever I leave, she wants to know where I’m going and when I’ll return. She is clingy and tearful often. She worries I’m going to be in a car accident. She’s afraid I’m going to get cancer and die. She read about bacteria in her science book and is terrified her throat is going to close up. She is having psychosomatic complaints – like stomach pains, breathing problems, rapid heart rate. Sometimes she has looked flushed and glassy-eyed, but had no fever. She cries easily.
She was never like this before our separation.
So I’m doing whatever I can to reassure her. When I leave, I always hug her and tell her goodbye. I give her as much information as she wants about where I’m going and when I’ll be back. I text her (sister) while I’m gone to let her know I’m safe. We have been putting Vicks on her feet at night, and recently got a plug-in for her room, to help her breathe easier. She has a night light by her bed. When she cries – which is almost daily – I hug her and reassure her that she is normal. Her feelings are real. I remind her that she has been through something incredibly traumatic and anyone would feel the way she does. I pray with her and remind her about what is True – and that God is real.
At church when she is crying, because the band and singers are loud and the noise makes her heart speed up, I put my arm around her and hold her close. I whisper into her ear – “It’s going to be ok. You’ll be all right. I’m here. I’m right here.”
Yesterday I looked up “psychosomatic” with her and explained that the emotional trauma she has had is causing physiological symptoms. Her breathing struggles and stomach pains and anxiety episodes are real – but she is not sick, she will not die from them.
Her throat isn’t going to close up from bacteria. I’m not dying of cancer.
No one is going to take her away from me again.
Four months of separation and trauma and pain are going to take a long time to recover from. We’ll get there. It just takes time.