The other day my daughter (8) had been complaining of a poorly tummy all weekend, so we kept her off school on the Monday and took her to the doctor. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong and called her a puzzle. On Tuesday she got up and ready for school and all was fine. Until I told her to get her shoes on. She started whining that her tummy was sore – worse than it was before. I told her she couldn’t keep missing school or she’d end up going back a year. She cried and said her tummy was sore. I told her if she stayed home she’d have to spend the day in bed. No technology. She said she wanted to do that.
And then I knew something more was wrong than just her tummy.
“Is there a reason you don’t want to go to school?” the hubby asked.
“I am scared of X who is really mean to me. He shoves me around”
And there it was. The reason for the sore tummy.
My daughter doesn’t worry what people say. She knows everyone is screwed up and she knows she can’t read minds. She’s pretty resilient and one of the happiest kids that I have ever met. But that doesn’t work so well when someone is being physical with you. So we headed up to school and spoke to the head who was extremely supportive and told her she should never feel scared at school. School was for having fun. She made sure my daughter understood she could talk to any of us if she was ever worried.
Since then we’ve had no problems. She is my happy little girl again who loves school.
What I couldn’t understand is why she didn’t tell me or the hubby that she was worried about this? We talk about everything (or so I thought). She had kept this in her head and it had become something bad enough to start taking a physical toll.
In our house, because of my childhood experiences, we have a rule which is no secrets. There is no good reason to keep a secret. We can do surprises (secret with a known end date!) but not secrets. So we talk about everything. And yet, she had kept this to herself.
In 2015 I took my abuser to court for historical abuse. When I was talking to the police in the run up to the trial I mentioned that I told my best friend what had happened when I was 16. I didn’t think she believed me. We stopped being friends and I hadn’t been in touch with her since we were at school together. But the police tracked her down and as soon as she took the call she knew what it was about. She remembered it well. She also remembered a bunch of other stuff I had told her, that I didn’t remember. She had felt guilty her whole life for not acting on what I told her. I had no idea. I was amazed. And over the last couple of years, as I’ve re-connected with old school friends, it became clear that they knew too.
I had no idea. I thought it was only me. I thought I made it all up. I thought I was making a big deal out of nothing. Other people knew stuff and I had no idea. I would *never* have spoken to them about it. Like my daughter didn’t tell me what was going on with the older boy at school. It would have made such a difference to know I wasn’t alone. Just having someone who listened.
So my point is, keeping stuff in your head, doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t make it go away. It makes it bigger. Because it occupies all the space. It becomes your reality. Talking about it, opens that space up. It allows you to expand your reality and share it with others. Which makes it all look different. Just talking can be enough to help you see a different perspective, and a different perspective can make you feel less alone, less different, less broken.
So don’t worry what people think – you can’t read minds and they can’t read yours.
Talk. Talk to a friend on Facebook through messenger if that’s easier, write an email, tweet it, pick up the phone, send a text message.
I know any of my friends would listen to me if I needed it. It might surprise you who is listening. And if you really truly believe that you know absolutely no one. If there is absolutely no one that you can message, then contact the Samaritans using the details in the image on this post. They are really really good at listening.
You are not alone. Ever. No matter what you think. The thoughts in your head are not real. They are a factor of right now, and right now always changes. See, it just changed again…and again…and again…