Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Separation Anxiety

I remember the first time Evie walked away from me to do a gymnastics end-of-the-year performance. She was 3 or 4 and I was wringing my hands. I couldn't believe that she was going to do something in a big arena, separate from me, with a lot of people she didn't know.
Wasn't she amazing?
Wasn't she something else?
Wasn't she howling in tears?
I think there may have been some muted screaming...

But she wouldn't stop.

My husband was sweating and Colleen was in distress. I handed over Brendan and went to the edge of the mat and said, "Evie, come here."
She kept doing donkey kicks while crying.
"Evie! Ev, come here!"
She shook her head no and kept on kicking.
"Ev. Ev. Ev. Evelyn get off the mat."

She wouldn't. She finished the whole routine she was supposed to do while sobbing.
I couldn't believe it.
I was amazed.
I was embarrassed.
I was flustered.
Mainly, though, I was amazed.

We went out for pizza after, her color back to normal and my husband breathing again, and I said, "Evie, why didn't you stop? If you were so upset, why would you stay?"

I don't remember her response. I know she shrugged. And I figure her answer was somewhere along the lines of, "because it was what I was supposed to do". Which is a shocker because she won't do things just because she is supposed to or has been asked to.

Well, maybe she will when asked by others, other than me or her siblings.
Maybe she will when it is hers and she wants to go through it. When she has put it to herself.

Five years later, I have had this girl leave my side repeatedly to compete in gymnastics meets. She can't be stopped. Our time together in general is limited. I leave her at 7:45am when I go to work. I leave her at 4pm when she goes into the gym for 3-4 hour practices, 4 days a week. We are quite good at being separated, but there is something about when she walks across some foreign gym's mats, away from me, that makes her seem small. Makes me feel small.

Makes me miss her.

All the time now she is encountering new skills she must practice and master in order to excel and strengthen her routines. Things that I call, "nuts", and some of which she calls, "easy".
Lately, she has encountered new skills that have frightened her.
And she just can't shake it.

And when she cries at practice out of frustration, I don't go to her, though I feel the wind of my heart's rush to meet her.
And when she cries at the meets from a missed chance, I'm not allowed to go to her.
Which is good, I suppose.
But very, very hard.
Very hard.
And when she is struggling, she won't ask for help.
She won't really talk about it unless she is fit to burst with the stress of it all.
Then she howls it.

I can't tell if she hears my advice- I know little of gymnastics, but I am pretty good at stress and fear in general. I don't know if she hears the dharma talks on the way to the gym, though I know she is listening, and I know she knows I put them on for her as much as me.

Anything my husband and I say to her she responds with, "I know."
Does she REALLY know?
Did her saying she knew dismiss what I said?
Should I just shut the hell up?
I probably should shut the hell up.

Do I reach her?
Does she feel me with her when in distress?
Does she know I would spot her and buoy her all through her practices and meets if I could?
Does she know that I well up when she wells up?
That I cry when she beams?
That I am speechless with her every success because they are hers?
Just hers.
So separate from me.

I am now waiting to hear if she mastered a skill tonight. If she recaptured another skill that she lost in all her fear and worry.
I'm in this moment before my husband brings her home and she can fill me in.
I'm in this moment of wondering how her meet will go in a few days with all these flusters and flips and frustrations.
I keep repeating the word that I left her with today: Yatha-bhuta. Reality as it is.
I hug her when I say it.
She shrugs when she says it back.
It is what it is.
But it is so big because it is hers
and it is separate from me.
As it should be.