She nods, appearing thoughtful
“You seem frustrated.”
The little cartoon mom says to her little cartoon daughter.
The black and white illustrations are popping out of the pages.
Heck yeah I am, I think to myself,
Because the skill didn’t work.
The New York Times’ bestseller parenting book got it wrong.
“Say it with a word”
“Describe the feeling with word”
That’s how you “validate someone’s feelings”
…Unless they don’t know how they’re feeling.
Then you’re just playing a guessing game
Which is more confusing for your kids, than for you.
But it’s ok, because all they need to feel validated is that one word
To know, that with one word, you understand exactly how they’re feeling.
“It’s okay to be confused,”
He says tenderly as tears roll down my face
Still pushing his way
Assuring me everything will be ok, that he’s not going anywhere.
I don’t know what I was feeling in that moment
But it wasn’t confusion.
I knew I didn’t want this.
Or so I thought.
See, because, somehow he knew
He’d convinced me
That he knew me better than I knew myself
He knew how I was feeling when I didn’t.
I thought I was feeling scared, lonely,
Lonely even when I was with him,
Sad, angry, hurt…
But none of those were convenient for him.
Confusion was convenient.
It put me exactly where he wanted me
Turning to him to tell me how I felt
Since I didn’t know
And I was scared to voice how I felt
Yes, I was confused about what word to attach to it
How to sum up my feelings in one word.
He was so convincing
That he actually was right.
Maybe I was confused.
I still am.
Jekyll and Hyde lived in one body
And I was trying to tease them apart.
It’s all so hazy,
Thinking about how I saw it unfold
Verses how he wanted me to see it unfold
But in the heat of the confusing moment
Of one thing I was sure –
My feelings were not validated.