This past week in church the topic was Emotional Health and my husband and I gave each other a knowing look when Pastor said "Some of us have small emotions and some of us have big emotions" (paraphrased). Our daughter has big emotions....BIG emotions.
If that's her SPD or her personality, I don't know. All I know is that she needs to get a light coat of teflon if she's gonna get through this world in one piece. So we work on it. So very hard. We have social stories, role playing, games, you tube videos... you name it, we do it. (We got our own mini PT/OT office in our living room... dining room... school room....Ok let's be honest. HOUSE!)
Yesterday was gonna be a big one. Out the door at 8:30, home at 5 kinda day. No nap. Lots of activity. I was ready for it. I wanted to make sure she was. As we drove we had one of our many "Mommy Talks".
Me: "OK, babe. Now if you're having a rough time with someone what do you do?"
Her: "Talk to them first and then go get an adult to help if it doesn't work."
Me: "Good! Now what do you say?"
Her: " 'That's OK. I don't care.' and then walk away."
The floor fell out from under me. "It's OK."?! Why was it OK? It's OK for one's feelings to be hurt? It's OK for someone to say or do something mean to you personally and just walk away? This wasn't new advice. This was the advice I was given as a child. "Just walk away." but how many hurts from my own childhood am I still carrying with me today? Too many to count. No. For some reason I knew this was another one of those moments that would make or break the woman my little one was meant to be.
Me "NO. That's NOT what you say."
Her: -stunned silence-
Me: "No. Your feelings are important and matter. You should be able to share with someone when they hurt your feelings in a kind way: '_______, I want to be friends with you but when you do that it hurts my feelings. Can you please stop?' Let's practice it."
And we did. Once we were done and the script was in her brain she popped her thumb in her mouth and started tearing up.
Me: "Baby, what's wrong?"
Her: "You listened to me. You heard me."
Then I started tearing up. She just needed someone to hear her. To tell her her feelings matter. To help her express her feelings in a calm, safe way. That she was important. That her feelings were valid and deserved to be heard and accounted for.
We're still working on it but now we have a better starting point.
The last few weeks I've been dealing with horrid migraines. They usually hit right before dinner time and have me going to bed as soon as the plates are cleared up leaving my husband and daughter to fend for themselves all evening long. I try everything. I drink tons of water throughout the day, make sure I wear my glasses all. the. time, getting massages from my husband (the kind that don't go anywhere), I've been eating better, organizing my life a little better, setting more boundaries so I don't get overwhelmed and making sure I get bible time in every day.
Nothing was working.
So last night, after my busy day, when I got hit with a doozy of a migraine I just laid in the dark of my bedroom and prayed. "God, please take this away. Take away the strobing pain, the nausea, the everything."
He said, "Why are you getting migraines all of a sudden?"
"I doesn't matter, just make them go away."
And in all His infinite fatherly wisdom He spoke "It DOES matter."
It was clear as day now. My migraines have been appearing every 2-3 days since I received an email One laced with guilt and accusations and passive aggression. I had grabbed onto a ball of pain, curled up around it and held it close to my chest, curling up into a fetal position, wrapped around the small ball of ugly... letting it weigh me down and refusing to let it go.
I was saying "That's OK. I don't care." and trying to walk away.
As only He can, He spoke gently to me using my own words that I spoke to my daughter only hours earlier "No. Your feelings are important and matter. You should be able to share with someone when they hurt your feelings in a kind way: '_______, I want to be friends with you but when you do that it hurts my feelings. Can you please stop?' Let's practice it."
And I wept. Because I needed someone to listen to me. To hear me. He did. The one who holds every atom on Earth together stopped everything to not only listen to me... but hear me.
I sat down this morning to deal with the email. I wrote something kind but making sure my feelings were clear and would not be lost in translation. I'm hoping for a migraine free-day, we shall see... but at least I know I was heard. Maybe not by the recipient of the email but at least by the God of the universe.
Along with this sweet little five year old, 30-something me is learning my feelings matter. They are important and valid and deserved to be heard and accounted for.
And because I am the Queen of Quantifying (according to my husband):
-I am completely aware of when my child does a wrong. She is not some tragic victim in the world. She can be just as snarky and mean as the next kid. I know.
-I am not a PT or an OT... There are years of training and practice going into those fields of which I have none. Please don't think I claim to be one. I -heart- PTs and OTs!