i had some anxious moments today, as my family arrived home.
not anxious that they’d been away - but anxious that we have to separate.
i am used to being close. to playing with the kids, to sharing space.
so being in the same home but totally separate - that feels really hard.
i suddenly had litres more empathy for those who are fully alone right now.
even in the country - i can at least watch them vaguely raking
or fighting over who will ride in the fisher price car.
or expertly driving the riding lawn mower as if it was an ATV.
and i already learned a lesson today (one of many, i imagine, throughout this time).
about being heard. about listening.
my niece, she’s 8, feels things VERY deeply.
and when they got home - she LOST it.
she REALLY wants a dog. desperately. with every fibre of her being.
and she was screaming - because SHE CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT!
and, i mean, i think we all know the feeling right now.
i know my mind had been spinning and scrolling all morning.
i wasn’t screaming on the outside but on the inside
i was losing it - as happens often these days.
anyway - i imagine she was losing it because she was just in a car for more
than 24 hours with her (annoying) brothers and exhausted parents.
she’s tired and hungry and anxious - for holidays cut short - for a world
that is changing in ways she can’t begin to understand but can sense deeply.
while she was screaming - i couldn’t go to console her.
i can’t go near her.
(which sucks - but i realize is minor in the greater scheme of things)
as she ran to her bedroom and slammed the door,
i started to knock from the other side of the wall…
and she knocked back
so i knocked back
just as LOUDLY.
and she pounded back…
and i banged my fist against the wall
and… on and on it went….
i started to try to make patterns,
or imitate her rhythm.
she started to copy me.
we began to mirror each other.
and slowly - i shifted the pattern…
knocking lighter, quieter.
and she began to copy.
until our knocks became almost delicate,
it just felt so evident, in that moment
that all she wanted was to be heard.
and i mean,
we all just want to be heard.
we want to be mirrored.
i know that theoretically - i’ve studied it for years.
but i’ve never realized it so viscerally.
in the mirror, as we feel heard,
we can also begin to mirror back whoever we are with
and our energy (slowly) begins to shift
and if the energy we are absorbing is calm and grounded,
we also begin to feel more calm and grounded.
it works both ways.
we feel heard,
and we also hear,
and then mirroring these new emotions,
slowly shifts how we feel.
this was a strong reminder too that
if all i see is fear and negativity,
that is what i will absorb and project.
she calmed enough for her to run off
to find the morse code sheets
(we’ve done this before - but never out of the same necessity)
and then we began the painstaking process of communicating through morse code.
if you’re never tried it:
morse code (especially with an 8 year old),
is not easy.
it requires patience, careful attention, and repetition.
again - exactly what we need to feel seen and heard and understood.
our first draft was like a word jumble…
until we slowly learned the technique.
she would tap a letter from her side,
i would repeat what i had heard in taps
and she would confirm.
it was like we were saying over and over:
“do you understand me?”
“yes i understand you”
which is what we are all asking for….
what we are all seeking as we scroll social media,
or send texts or call our friends.
we want someone to show that they get it,
that they feel the same way…
and we also want someone to help us shift
how we feel.
and, i know this is also internal work,
to learn to offer this gift to ourselves
(and practices like this one shared by Elizabeth Gilbert help)
but, this is also collective work.
of slowly, patiently (and often painstakingly)
“i hear you. i see you. i understand what you are going through.”
and, there is so much beauty in this time.
this time of tumult and uncertainty.
there is beauty in the solidarity we experience…
in the kindness we are witnessing locally and around the world.
i live out in the country right now
so had been feeling quite distant from the ‘real world’
and scrolling online has been my way of feeling
“connected” - even though it mostly leaves me more anxious.
but, while i was focusing on morse code,
i couldn’t think about anything else -
it took my full attention.
she took my full attention.
i know, rationally, that mindfulness is so important -
but it feels really hard to meditate right now or
to slow or focus my mind.
but, the struggle to communicate in dots and dashes
eased my mind for the first time in days.
and, for a few minutes,
it also offered her a brief reprieve from
all that was on her mind
(of course, she did tap “i want a dog”
so it wasn’t TOO far from her mind...
but still, it was a moment!)
and, in the coming weeks and days…
i pray you notice the beautiful moments
the moment of connection, of mutual understanding.
because, while all is not light and joy right now,
those things will never leave.
and we must choose to focus on them,
and practice focusing our minds.
because it is hella hard right now.
but we’re in this together,
even from inside these walls.
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