Today, I waited at reception to collect Emily from the unit. I should have known all was not well when a nurse met me instead.
Emily was very upset on the ward and was insisting she wasn't going to school. The nurse took me to a room on the ward and brought Emily in. She was shaking and tear stained. I'm ashamed to say my first thought was, 'oh for goodness sake, it's only an hour!' but I knew I couldn't. The nurse left us alone while she tried to find a therapist.
Emily continued to shake, cry and chew at her clothing. I began speaking to her, asking what was wrong. All she could tell me was that she couln't go, she'd do it next week instead.
As we spoke I could feel something rising in me. I recognised it as rage, but borne of frustration, not hate. I wanted to run away, I could see no answer, no path for us to take. To me right there, my mind told me that if she couldn't do this, then all was lost.
I fought with my inner voice and began to speak again.
I told her there were no expectations on her other than to be in the classroom.
I told her she was protected, the teacher knew the situation and the bullies went to another school. I told her she would feel proud of herself for going.
I told her I would be waiting like last week.
I told her to shut out all those negative voices in her head, to reach inside and grab hold of those hidden strengths, that I knew she had, and to tell herself she could do it and she had her tangle and time out card if it got too much.
I guess something I said must have worked, as I'm now sat at school while she is in her lesson.
The hour is not yet up, but I'm keeping everything crossed. As I reflect I realised something. In that room earlier today, we were both fragmenting, blowing everything up out of recognition, but we also started to put the pieces back together.
Maybe we will both always 'fragment' but if we can begin to understand that it leads to rebuilding, it might make the road a little less rocky