I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I was still small. The memory I am a bout to share happened definitely some years before my 10th birthday. I can’t remember exactly what had happened either or why I was upset, but I remember I was and I also remember that my inner turmoil had carried on for some days. By this point you must be wondering why I’ve chosen to tell a story which facts I do not seem to have in a straightforward manner. The answer is simple: because I remember how I felt.
Let´s go back to the story. As a result of my sadness, I spoke to one of the significant adults in my life about whatever it was that was occurring. Their answer -slight grunt included- went somewhere along the lines of “well, this can´t continue, something needs to be done and we need you to help us out with it”. I distinctly remember the tone of voice in which this was said to me and the expression on the person´s face, maybe the words weren’t exactly as I phrased them here, but I vividly remember the emotional tone of the whole interaction. One could argue the message in itself was good because after all, the adult in question was letting me know they were going to help me, but I remember feeling tense, worried and a little overwhelmed. I thought to myself “uh oh, this person is stressed and worried now and its because of me”. Having thought about this scene several times and years after, I was able to clarify something I was experiencing and didn’t quite know how to articulate at the time my foggy memory occurred: I felt as if there was a sense of urgency being conveyed to me, as if I need to “get well fast”, but no such words where actually used. It was as if there was no space for what I was feeling, and even though I know that this adult was well intentioned and that I mattered to them, this action-oriented problem-solving approach was short of a very crucial step that should have preceded it: emotional validation