Friday, August 23, 2013

I Don't Know How I'm Supposed to Feel

My friend's sixteen-year old daughter is missing.  She left a note.  She ran away.  But they suspect she was lured away by predator she met on the internet.  It's been a week.

It's such a horrific thing.  My heart is aching for my friend and her family.  I pray for her safe return multiple times a day.

And I feel guilty that I still worry about my own problems.

Big problems like my husband being out of work for a couple of months, with no real prospects on the horizon.  Little problems like my sadness that my son will probably get very little playing time this season of football.  And in between problems like the messy house and my lack of energy or motivation to do anything about it; the medical bills that just keep coming; trying to help manage my husband's depression.

Whenever I get stressed about money and trying to meet all our obligations, I remind myself that my children are safe.  When I notice the signs of depression in myself, I track each of my children in my mind and know where each of them is.  I am so grateful for this.  My children are my life.  I can't imagine the heartache my friend is feeling or how unimportant those other things would be to me if I didn't know where my child was.  What right do I have to worry about the stupid things in my life when she is going through something like this?

I know I need to do things to help myself, to care for my family.  But I find myself checking on her status several times a day to see if there's news.  Sometimes every half hour.  Sometimes I feel guilty that I am so worried about her and her family and not spending enough time worrying about my own family.  What right do I have to neglect my family and our problems by spending so much mental and emotional energy on my friend's family?

I spent years being numb.  Not feeling much of anything.  Most of that comes from a childhood where feelings were not acceptable.

I still have difficulty identifying my feelings.

And sometimes I think I'm feeling everything, like in Harry Potter when Hermione is explaining to Ron and Harry how Cho Chang is feeling.  Ron thinks no one could possibly be feeling all those things at once.  But we can.

I'm feeling sad and scared for my friend.  I'm feeling sad and scared for myself.  I'm feeling blessed.  I'm feeling irritated and disappointed.  I'm even feeling content sometimes.

But I'm judging those feelings.  I'm judging myself for feeling all of these things.  Like I am bad because I'm not feeling what I should be feeling -- whatever that is.

I know I shouldn't.  I know I should experience the feelings and try to see what they are teaching me or just acknowledge them or just let them pass by unnoticed.  I wish I could stop judging them and just feel.

I tell myself that I am not a bad person because I am worried about my own life, even simple things that won't matter in a month.  It's okay to be happy.  It's okay to cry.  It's even okay to be numb for a while.

Now that I've said it, I'm going to work on believing it.  My feelings are mine.  And they aren't right or wrong.  They just are.


Update:  My friend's daughter has been found and is safe and back with her family.


Heather Jo Anderson said...

I get fixated on cases about missing girls. I think partly because I have a daughter, partly because of some of my life experiences, including having friends who disappeared when I was a teenager. I can easily end up in a frozen state at the edge of a precipice. Nothing will get done around the house, I will spend all my time checking the news and I will lose track of people who matter in my life no matter that this horrible situation is happening. I think these other feelings you are having is life's way of reminding you that it needs to go on and that you need to step away from that frozen cliff. It's not a helpful place to be and your friend's daughter won't be returned sooner because you are there. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and with you and yours.

Birdie said...

Your second to last paragraph is right. There is nothing right or wrong with feelings. The biggest thing I have learned it to just feel them and acknowledge them for what they are. Your friend's daughter is missing but you are also worried about your own family as well. You are all entitled to feel more than one emotion at a time. For instance, when my mom was dying I was praying for a miracle but at the same time wishing she would die and just get it over with. It was too much for her, my dad and me. It was all so conflicting! And then I felt bad for feeling anything other than sadness after she died.
Emotions are all at once sticky and slippery. Just accept them and they will likely pass more quickly. (Probably on to something else just as difficult!)

Dawnelle said...

Robin, you can't take responsibility for someone else's life. You feel compassion for your friend. You are worried about her daughter. That's appropriate. But you're not God. You don't have control over her situation, pain, resolution of her problem. Your trials are for you, and no matter the size, they are enough for you. Don't go borrowing someone else's because they won't fit!

Bonnie said...

Sometimes we just hang on. We are so quick to try to figure things out when we're in it. Sometimes the moment is too much to figure out. God gets that. The timeline is long for figuring out.

Bintu @ Recipes From A Pantry said...

Good news about your friends daughter. Having children of my own I can both sympathise with what they must have felt and with what you are feeling.Thanks for visiting me via SITS

Bev Feldman said...

The thing about feelings is we're allowed to have them. There is never a "right" or "wrong" way to feel, which is something I have had to remind myself sometimes. I also completely understand with how you feel about your own concerns in comparison to what your friend's family must have been going through. While it's good to have perspective, again I think we shouldn't feel that we have to justify how we feel about our problems, even if they aren't as seemingly big as someone else's (again, something I also personally struggle with!) I'm glad your friend's daughter was found, I can only imagine what they must have been going through.

Mothering From Scratch said...

{Melinda} My heart aches for your friend. I can't imagine. There are so many sad and tragic things happening all around us. It's hard sometimes to take it all in and to give each one the prayer and priority it deserves in our minds and hearts -- impossible really. It does keep things in perspective. I worry about the superficial less and less as our world gets more and more messed up. People matter. Not much else. But yet we have to concentrate on finances and just all the things involved in keeping life going. It is overwhelming. I completely understand. Praying for your friend and her family right now. <3

Rachel Cotterill said...

Feelings are what they are. Even the guilt, the self-judgement, all that stuff - it just is. You can't throw a switch and stop feeling it.

And your heart has space for your family and your friends' families, so I don't think you need to 'ration' your love and concern or worry about whether you're worrying about the right things.

I just try to remind myself that worrying doesn't actually do anything. So I try to feel the stress and then let it go... easier said than done! :)

And I was so relieved to see your update that your friend's daughter is home safely.

Anonymous said...

Miss Robin, your feelings are so raw and beautifully explained. I would saw this: each person's life experience is so different ...and, even though your friend's missing daughter is tremendously distressing, that does not invalidate your feelings about your own family situations. Judging yourself in such a harsh way, as if somehow your problems or stresses are trivial because someone else has it worse, only serves to make you feel even worse.
Your feelings are valid, but you're also keeping your head above water and moving forward just a little bit each day. It sounds like you are an amazingly supportive wife and mother who takes her role in her family very matter what else is going on in the world. I commend that and it warms me.
Stopping by from SITS
Heather @

AiringMyDirtyLaundry said...

How frightening. I am so glad to see that the daughter was found.

Tina said...

So glad your friends daughter has been found. Sometimes the hardest thing is knowing you are okay to express how you are feeling. Having suffered from depression I found it difficult to do that after spending a long time bottling up my feelings, not talking etc for fear that I had no right to feel the way I did.

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

I had been hearing all about this on my FB feed. So glad she was found safe. Thanks for visiting on my SITS day.

AJ said...

I'm so glad she has been found! And just because other people's problems (seem) are more serious, doesn't mean you can't worry about yours!

AJ | TheAJMinute

Melissa G. said...

So grateful that your friend's daughter was found.