Posted by: Marie | November 7, 2012

(744) One tough conversation – Part 5 of 5

Post #744
[Private journal entry written on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 11:30pm about a conversation between clients and me – continued from previous post]

—————-

Jane: We’ve been trying to figure out where she might have gotten the idea . . . you said that she said Keith “threw her against the wall”. We don’t use that kind of language in our home . . . not even in jest. But, she could have picked it up at school or watching a movie . . . Harry Potter throws bad guys against the wall . . . maybe she picked it up from there . . .

Me: That seems like a good guess . . . and the movie wouldn’t give her any indication of how that would compare to a real-life experience of being thrown against a wall. She wouldn’t understand how big of deal it is to accuse her dad of that.

Jane: No, she wouldn’t . . . but, when she began to understand how much pain her actions had caused the two of us, she became VERY remorseful. She cried . . . and put her arms around Keith’s neck and asked him to please forgive her. So, this experience will encourage her to be more aware that her behavior has consequences – that the world doesn’t revolve around her.

Me: True . . . she does need to learn that at some point . . . but, let’s not forget that she’s just a little girl. We shouldn’t expect her to fully understand the impact of her words and her behavior. We can’t place adult expectations upon her – her command of language is very limited at this age.

Photo by Martin Chen

Jane: That’s true.

So . . . what would you like for Bailey to learn from this experience?

Me: I would like for her to know that it is okay to ask for help – and that she won’t be punished if her method of asking for help isn’t the most appropriate. She not going to know the best way to handle difficult situations . . . she needs to know she is free to ask for help in any way she feels comfortable doing it.

Jane: But, she needs to understand there are consequences to telling an untruth.

Me: I agree . . . but I don’t want her to think she has lost the right to ask for help in the future – should she ever really need it – just because she cried “wolf” this time.

Jane: Of course.

Me: Let me check in with you guys . . . how are you feeling about everything, now that we’ve had this conversation?

Jane: I think I can speak for both of us . . . this has been a very painful experience . . . our emotions are still very raw. But, I think this conversation will help move us through the hurt. It has been very enlightening.

Me: I wish I could ease some of your pain by apologizing. I’m sad that things unfolded the way they did. But, I can’t apologize for the choices I made because I would make the same choices if I had to do it again. My choices were consistent with my ongoing commitment to help any child I have reason to believe might be experiencing abuse.

If I would have known then what I know now about how the investigation would turn out and how this conversation would unfold, I would have been able to make different choices. But, I didn’t have the benefit of that insight. So, I had to take the path I took.

Jane: I understand.

Let me check-in with you . . . how are you feeling about all of this? You’ve been struggling with your tears the entire time.

Me: I don’t expect you to understand why this is so emotional for me . . . it really has nothing to do with your family and this situation. I’m emotional because this experience is stirring up memories of my own childhood experiences of abuse.

My history is causing me to be emotional during our meeting tonight – which is something I wish were not the case. But, my history also causes me to be very protective of children who need to be protected – which is a very good thing. I guess I have to take the ugly with the good.

So, to answer your question . . . I’m feeling much better now than I was a few hours ago. This has been a healing conversation for me, too. Thank you for that.

Jane: You are very welcome.

Me: I suppose, before we part ways tonight, we should talk about how we are going to move forward from here. I don’t expect you to continue a relationship with me, but I’m willing to do that if it makes sense.

Jane: Through this conversation, it has become clear to me that you care very deeply for our children. You are willing to do whatever you have to do in order to protect them, despite the cost to you.

We want people like that in our children’s lives – I’m thinking that our children would benefit from a continued relationship with you.

I think it is very important the Bailey not receive the message that she is being punished for lying by being denied a relationship with you. I don’t want her to think that people disappear from her life whenever she makes a mistake. So, I would like for you to stay in her life, at least for a while, in some capacity, even if that is not as her piano teacher.

Me: That sounds like a good plan to me!

Jane: If it is agreeable with you, let’s move forward in this way . . .

Let’s plan on Jacob and I continuing lessons. Bailey has often stated that she “hates” piano lessons; yet, after all of this happened, she indicated to me that she still wants to take lessons. So, I’m not sure what’s going on with her . . . I need some time to figure that out with her.

I’d like to skip the lessons we have scheduled for tomorrow – the emotional uproar has really sucked the energy out of us. We need some time to get things settled down. I’ll call you yet this weekend with some decisions and we can then figure out the details.

Me: I’m onboard with that – it will give us an opportunity to work out the kinks in our scheduling. Let’s plan that way.

———————

And that brought us to the end of our meeting. I blew my nose one last time and took a deep breath. We wished each other a goodnight and I quietly slipped back out the door into the winter night air.


Responses

  1. Although that was a tough conversation, I think it turned out as well as it possibly could have. I’ll be interested to see whether your involvement with the family continued.

    • Hey, David –

      I was surprised at how calm the conversation was . . . I never felt attacked even though they shared their real feelings with me. I was glad I talked to them.

      – Marie

  2. That would have taken me a while to recover from. It seemed to work out very well though.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I was very emotional that evening and into the next day, but over I felt a sense of relief . . . I had an easier time having the conversation than reporting the disclosure!

      – Marie

  3. Hi Marie,

    I think you have a lot to be proud of in yourself, in your dedication to protect children, in reporting what was disclosed to you, in dealing with the aftermath of reporting, and in the way you went to this family discussion afterward. It all shows a lot of bravery in your actions and words. That is rare. Good for you.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

    • Thank you, Kate, for your kind acknowledgement. It is so important that our kids are protected as much as possible.


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