Recently my husband and I took E and her sister A to the grocery store. These two love to go grocery shopping. Pushing the cart gives them a thrill like no other. It takes us twice as long, but they love it so much and we get a kick out of watching them. The giggles make is so worth the extra time.
Once we were done and the groceries were in the car, my husband left to put the cart away and I went to put the girls in the car. A and I walked to one side of the car and E started to go to the other. I didn’t like that, so I asked her to come over to my side to get in. She is our question girl. There is not a thing that I can say that will not elicit a “why” from her.
Me- I would just feel better.
E- Is it because you don’t want the bad guy to get me?
Me- I definitely do not want the bad guy to get you.
Sometimes I choose to elaborate and tell her she is safe or that I will protect her. It depends on the situation. We were loading up which isn’t all that conducive to long conversations and she didn’t seem to be agitated or afraid, so I didn’t say much.
We all get in including my husband and are getting ready to head home when E says,
Mom, do you remember when the bad guy took your money and pushed you to the ground?
Me- Yes, I do.
E- I used to have bad dreams about that, but it is hard for me to remember it now.
Me- It is?
E- Yeah. I am thinking, but I can remember if he grabbed your arm to push you down or even how much money he took(she never knew how much money he took, so I am not sure where that came from). Do you think it is ok that I can’t remember?
Me- Yes, I think it is fine. I think you are doing great.
Before I could say anything more she asked if she could open up the small bag of chips we bought the girls for a treat and then she started to sign to A. She had moved on, so, so did I.
I am not a psychologist and I am not saying that how we handled things was right or wrong or that anybody else should do things the same, but I was very happy to have that conversation with E. I am happy that she is starting to forget.
We do not talk much about the March incident in our house. The younger kids, A and H, probably are not even aware that it happened. When I got my gun, I never sat down and said, Mom was attacked, so she got a gun. I just brought it home like I would anything else and we started to teach them about gun safety etc. For them, it is just a part of their life. Of course, E is aware of what happened and for a while we spent a great deal of time talking about it. Always initiated and directed by her.
Daily she talked about being afraid, she had nightmares, would crawl into bed with us or her sister. She was obsessed with being safe and drew picture after picture of the bad guy, but eventually she talked about it less, the nightmares became fewer and fewer until the totally disappeared. She started to get her joy and carefree-ness back and we just moved on. I think the fact that she isn’t dwelling on it and is starting to forget the details is a good sign. I think the fact that she feels comfortable to talk about it with me and tell me how she feels is an excellent sign.
I don’t know what the future holds. I do not know if something will spark a memory that causes her to remember something. I don’t know if something will cause her to revisit the ugliness of that day or if for her, it is in the past. All I know is that today she is doing better. She is healing in a way that is healthy. In a way that is helping her to not only feel safer and happier, but in a way that she IS safer and happier.
As time has passed and she has grown stronger, I have breathed a little easier and slept a little better. I forgave myself a while ago for the mistakes I made that day. I had too. A guilt ridden mommy is not a very good mommy at all, but I will admit seeing her healing has added a level of peace in my heart that I am beyond thankful for.