Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Acts of Contrition

Energetic.  Care free.  Adventurous.  Positive.  Glass half full kinda girl.

This is how I would describe L.

But not lately.

Although really good at hiding it, when alone with her immediate family, she has started showing a weakness and the weight of it all has made her start to crack.

The irony?

I didn't even know the weight was there.

I have mentioned before that I am a worrier.  I was born that way and can honestly not remember a time when I wasn't worried about something.


I have actually had moments where I stopped myself because I felt "too free" and made myself remember what it was I should be worried about.

B takes after me.

But L?

She takes after her daddy.  They are the exact same - which is the exact opposite of me.

Or so I thought.

Without warning, or apparent cause, L has started coming to me with "confessions".  At first I wrote it off as being something that stuck with her in Sunday school and that she was just clearing her conscience.

But that was three weeks ago.

Now I am worried, and it isn't because of what she is confessing.

I am worried because first thing in the morning, first thing after school and continuing through most waking moments, she will come to me and tell me something that she has done wrong.


In the third grade sense.

"Momma, one time, I ran away from a boy at recess because I didn't want to play with him."

"Momma, one time I went to the nurses office not because I was sick, but because I wanted to come home to you."

"One time I told Brooke that I ran faster than her."

"One time when Londyn was working on his paper I ruffled his hair."

"One time someone in the bathroom took a long time and I thought to myself, 'They are taking a LONG time!' but I didn't say it out loud.  I promise."

And the kicker?

The worrying about things that you didn't do, but might have, or could have done.

(For those of you that don't have issues with anxiety, you will have NO idea what I am talking about.  My sister and I SO get this and have joked before that we could take a lie detector test for something that we DID NOT do, and fail.  Because, you know, what if.....)

As an example, lately, among all the other things, she is preoccupied with the thought of possibly cheating.  Every night she will say, "While I was doing my work I looked around and I saw a paper.  I didn't cheat and I didn't write down the answer, but I looked at the paper!"

I can see the physical toll all of this self-imposed guilt is having on her.  I have carried it myself.

She has went as far as telling her teacher.  Her teacher, at one point, laughed and said, "I know that you aren't copying off of {so and so} because YOU make better grades than they do."

I, too, remember the need to purge myself of everything I had done wrong in order to make sure that those around me stayed around me and didn't take off running. I wanted them to know the whole story....and I worried that once they knew it, they would leave.  Still, they HAD to know.  Ignorance was not an option.

But this is not L.

This is not her personality.

She takes everything in stride and measures it with reason. 

In fact, the other night, B said, "I don't know what is wrong with L.  I try to comfort her."  At six years old he recognized that this was not normal.  I pulled him to me, hugged him and laughed as I said, "She's not our worrier!"

His little hand formed a fist with the thumb pointing back at his chest, and with a sheepish smile he said, "yeah...that's me."

And up until that point it had been.  But now we are experiencing role reversal and to be honest, I am at a loss.

I have reassured her numerous times that NO matter WHAT she tells me, that these truths remain:

I will love her.
Steven will love her.
God will love her.


But three weeks of constant reassuring is taking its toll on both of us.  She is so tired and when I look at her.... really look at her... I can see it and I will say, "Are you just completely worn out with it all?" and it is then that the tears come as she hugs my legs.

The grief of her having to experience this same hell that I have experienced physically hurts me, but at the same time I am equally frustrated that my words are having no impact at calming her fears.

I have tried to find if something bigger is buried deep within.  I don't know what it is or what it would be and I hope there isn't.   Maybe it's a phase.  A stage.  

But still.  It was a stage that I have yet to move completely out of and am, seemingly, completely inadequate in helping her.

I need something.

L needs something.

And I will be the first to admit that I don't know what it is.

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