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.