By K. Hecht, P. Berman & A. Hosack,
Here I am alone in the woods. I can’t get my mind to slow down!! Am I going crazy???
Claire has been wandering around the woods behind the Carsons house. She has finally found a spot that looks like her “special place” with Larry. She is sitting on a blanket with her notepad on her lap, covered in her tears. She is supposed to be writing down her memories of Larry. This is the second day she has done nothing.
At least this time, she didn’t fall asleep on the blanket. She has been trying to write. Memories flood so fast- she will try some deep breathing and try to slow them down. (3-minute pause) Slowly, slowly, so slowly she breathes until finally her brain cooperates and she is thinking one thought at a time.
Okay you aren’t crazy; you can get your mind to slow down. Forgetting Larry is not an option. Deal with it- you’re a mother. You can do anything. (2-minute pause) Start writing already. You gave birth by yourself and survived just fine. You can remember Larry and deal with it.
Claire decides she will just start that first moment when she saw Larry for the first time. She writes, “I was scared at first when he began punching those boys. I didn’t realize he was coming to help me. I don’t know what I thought. Maybe I didn’t think at all. I remember trying to cringe into the wall and become part of it. I watched as he threw the guy who had been holding me against the wall across the corridor. The guy picked himself up and disappeared. Why didn’t I run away? I guess I was so terrified my mind shut down. Then, it happened. The second boy was gone; I don’t even remember how that happened. He had been trying to pull my skirt off and then, he was gone.” (3-minute pause, Claire is wiping tears off her face).
“I must have looked a mess from those boys being so rough. Larry looked at me in this way no one ever looked at me before. Like I counted. Like I wasn’t invisible. He used his hands so gently to adjust my hair and then my clothes. I realized then he wasn’t going to hurt me. He put his arm around me and gave me a gentle hug; I remember letting my head rest briefly on his shoulder.”
Claire was crying again. She laid down on the blanket and just let herself cry for that precious moment when she thought a miracle had occurred. Someone cared about her. She fell asleep, exhausted from crying. Thirty minutes later Mrs. Carson found Claire sleeping peacefully. She had come looking for Claire who had left the house two hours ago. She saw that Claire had filled her notebook with pages of her writing. Mrs. Carson wanted so much to read Claire’s work.
I will not intrude. Claire told me she was going to be writing about Larry. I won’t read it, but I WANT TO!
Mrs. Carson honored Claire’s right to privacy- but it was hard. She whispered Claire’s name. She didn’t want to startle her, but it was time to leave the woods and get ready for Davy who would be coming home soon from Shelly’s house. He was playing with his best friend and would no doubt come home covered in mud and ready to talk to Claire a mile a minute about their make-believe games. Claire had not stirred. Mrs. Carson called out her name twice, not loud but no longer whispering.
Claire stirred and looked up and smiled at Mrs. Carson. “I have had this wonderful dream about Davy. He had been playing a little too roughly on the swings at the park and had fallen off and scratched himself all over his face and arms. I gently adjusted his hair and straightened his clothes. Davy looked up at me and realized he was okay. (1-minute pause) It reminded me so much of a time when Larry had done this for me. (1-minute pause, Claire looked uncertainly at Mrs. Carson) I makes me happy to think I might have learned something good from Larry.”
Mrs. Carson didn’t know what to say so she just smiled and held her hand out to Claire, “our Davy will be coming home soon.” Claire jumped up, grabbed the blanket and took Mrs. Carson’s hand. “Thank you so much for keeping me from missing my little mud monster’s blast back into the house.” They laughed together as they walked back home. Happy together in the moment, both looking forward to Davy coming home.
Claire has good memories of Larry. He did honestly try to be good to Claire. But he did abuse her emotionally and physically many times. It wasn’t easy for Mrs. Carson to give Claire the privacy to work out her own thoughts about Larry. He was like this difficult horrible person who somehow would always be a part of their lives.
Dr. Abigail Brenner provides seven strategies for trying to deal with someone who might be causing you a lot of suffering or pain but who is connected to you in intimate ways like a family member. Would any of these strategies help Claire? Are they only good for non-violent relationships? Decide for yourself by reading her advice at: