“You know, Noah, when something is making you sad and angry and you keep it inside instead of talking about it…do you know what happens?”
“What, mama?” He looked worried.
“That sadness and anger turns into something like poison.” I widened my eyes.
“Poison?” He looked even more worried.
“Well not like real poison. But poison for your feelings. And that poison may make you do bad things. Like today, you did a bad thing.”
“I don’t want to be bad. I don’t want poison inside me. I’m sorry I was bad today, mama.”
“I know you are. You’re a good boy. And that’s why mama knew that you probably had something inside you that was bothering you.”
He said nothing, but looked down at his socks, he was sitting cross-legged on his bed in front of me. Thinking. Finally, he said, “Mama, I want to talk about something.”
“Okay, let’s talk. What is it that’s making you so sad or angry?”
“I wish you and me and papa were living together again.”
I wanted to disappear. Instead, I grabbed his perfect little hands and said, “That is a beautiful wish. I wish the same thing. But right now that’s not possible and I don’t know if it will ever be possible. Do you understand that?”
“But why not? Because you and papa fight too much?”
“Yes, and the things we fight about are things you will learn about when you’re a little older.”
“Does papa have poison in his feelings?”
I took a second before answering. “Everybody does. It’s ok to. But some people just have more than others.”
“Oh.” His wheels were turning, and they changed course. His shoulders lifted a bit and he cheered up and said, “But if we do ever live together again I want it to be here and not in papa’s house.”
“That’s a good reason. And you know what else? You don’t have to wait until mama asks you, to talk about your feelings..”
“I know. You said that to me a lot of times already.” His sassiness had returned.
“I wanted to say it again. You can talk to me anytime you want.”
“Even when you’re on the toilet?”
“Yes, even then. Anytime.”
“Is the poison out of me now?”
“Well, it’s not real poison. But yes. Do you feel better?”
“Yes, mama. Can I have some milk?”
And we went to get some milk.
This long but much needed talk happened over the summer, months after my husband Davy and I separated.
Some of you who follow me on Twitter may remember that “bad thing” Noah did on this particular summer day. I’d spanked him for it. And I shared that on Twitter, to mixed reactions.
He’d deliberately ignored my warnings, plural, about not shooting the water gun inside the house and he’d gone and done it anyway. This was very unlike Noah. And so I’d spanked him. And I’d felt horrible. But I wouldn’t change the fact that I did.
But I was well-aware that his behavior had to stem from something he was keeping inside.
There are things that I have also been keeping inside. Much of it is confronting and can be considered controversial. But at my own pace I’m grateful to have a voice, here, to share. Baby steps. Because nobody should have to feel isolated and alone.
I see you. I hear you. Thank you.