When Fear is the Bus Driver

“Whoa!  That was a fun ride!” she says, facetiously.  I’m sure it won’t be the last time Fear drives this bus.  But, for now, I’m back behind the wheel.  I’ve got to look into getting some seat belts installed on this thing.  The view from the back seat was interesting, but a little blurry because Fear was driving so fast.  That’s probably why I was up the night before last, vomiting.  Fear does that to me.  It’s a lot like car sickness.

This morning is cold, cloudy and rainy.  My mood, however, matches a 75 degree, sunny, windless day.

I’m driving now, and I have my confidence back.  The ride is smoother, more leisurely, and I’m sure we’ll stop for snacks and take in a matinee.

Fear took control of the bus when I lost faith in myself and what I know to be true.

I was silencing my own voice, to better hear what others had to say.  But I forgot that no one knows my kids as well as I do.  No one knows their hurts, their insecurities and their fears like me, because I know how they got them.

Yesterday the counselor told my kids that because they can’t tell her what is wrong, then they obviously have a great relationship with their dad.  She asked them, in front of their dad, what was bothering them.  Mark suggested that he could leave the room so that they would be more comfortable.  In theory, that might sound like a good idea.  But whether he is in the room or not, he will still hear what the kids have to say, and know it comes from them.  In fact, my kids are afraid of being criticized by Mark for saying anything at all.  I know the fear the sets in when they are faced with the possibility of their dad hearing what they don’t like about him.  I thought the counselor saw this in their very first session, with the drawings.

As Will put it, “She lost patience with us when we didn’t tell her exactly how dad hurts our feelings.”  She told them that if all they are complaining about is their dad’s voice, then really there isn’t a problem here.

When they came running to see me in the waiting room, they had those desperate looks in their eyes.  Will was blinking incessantly.  Jenny’s head was bowed.  The session did not go well.  And when we got in the car, Will said, “What kind of counselor expects me to say bad stuff about my dad, IN FRONT OF MY DAD?  Mom, she doesn’t get it.”

That’s not instilling a lot of confidence in me.  I thought she got us.  I thought she understood.

Then two angels came to my rescue.  For a girl who never much believed in such things, I’m ready to start shopping for crystal angels to hang in a sunny window, or from my rear view mirror.  I want to find an angel to hang over our front door.  I know the power of angels.

The first angel lent me her eyes.  She helped me see how I’d forgotten where I was headed.  Her vision clearly showed me that I’d stifled my voice.  She gently reminded me that my true purpose is to advocate for my kids.  She helped me regain my faith in what I know.  She reminded me that I know better than anyone – the counselor, Mark, or even my mom – exactly what is right for my kids.  I have always followed my gut when it comes to my kids.

My gut pointed me in the direction of getting Will’s eyes checked when he was just over two years old.  He’s worn glasses ever since.  My gut told me it wasn’t normal for a five year old to be so tired.  We discovered he had anemia and addressed that issue.  My gut knew Jenny didn’t have an ordinary cold, but a raging case of pneumonia that nearly took her life.  And my gut recognized the second recurrence of pneumonia when she was five.  My instincts have never failed me when it comes to my kids.

But sometimes I listen to others and I forget that.

The second angel called to check in on us.  She had me laughing by the end of our 40 minute catch-up session.  And several times during the call she mentioned something  about how I’m the best mom she knows.  Or, “so-and-so knows her kids almost as well as you do.”  That brought me back to center.  Not because I’m aiming to be the World’s Best Mom.  My center is knowing what’s right and doing what’s right for my kids.

The visits from the angels had the same effect as telling the bus driver to slow down a little bit.

I could catch my breath.

I spent three hours on the internet last night.  The internet seems to be my new oracle.   Have you ever walked through a library or bookstore, not really knowing what you are looking for, and suddenly the ‘right’ book appears?  You may set your bag down on a table, notice a book, thumb through, and it speaks to you.  That’s what the internet has been doing for me lately.

I googled everything I could think of about ‘getting a counselor to see narcissism’; ‘counseling the child of a narcissist’; ‘is there hope in counseling a narcissist’.  I even googled ‘when a counselor is buffaloed by narcissism’.

I was desperate.

Funny thing is, most of the hits that popped up were already highlighted.  I’ve already read this stuff.  I already know this stuff.  I keep going back over the same literature and sites and it all keeps saying the same thing.

Counselors don’t have a lot of experience with narcissism because narcissists don’t go to counselors because there is nothing wrong with a narcissist.

And so I closed my laptop, closed my eyes and asked the universe for a sign.  Before falling asleep, I asked these questions:

  • Please tell me if I am blind to what is really happening.
  • Please tell me, could the counselor be right?
  • Could Mark be a fabulous father with a particularly annoying voice?
  • Could I be misreading all of this?
  • Please give me a sign.


I woke this morning and turned on my laptop.  This is the sign I received.

In my gmail account I saw a heartfelt email from a woman with two young children.  She was asking me if my ex husband had ever shown any indication that he knew his behavior was harmful.  Did my ex ever get a glimpse that he was causing the problems?  Is divorce the best option?  Will he come around?  Should we wait it out?  What about the harms caused to the children during this process?

You might  be thinking that I get these kinds of emails every day.  This is why I know this is a sign.  I set up a gmail account six months ago.  I have a page on my blog where you can write to me and tell me your story.  I recently included a widget on the sidebar to try to get more people to share with me.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I have NEVER gotten an email to that account.  I have a silly virtual post-it-note on my desktop that says, “Check gmail.”  Every morning I look at that and laugh because I never get emails in that account.

Except for THIS morning.

That is my sign.

While I cannot ultimately stop the hurts, I will not put my kids in the position of having anyone suggest that the fault belongs to them.  I  will continue to advocate for my children.

I told Mark than he can talk to the kids on the phone and demonstrate, during several long calls if necessary, that he is working on trying to be the dad they need.  There will be no further visits until the kids see that he is trying.

I told the counselor that there will be no more sessions until the kids feel that their dad wants to work on this relationship with them.

I told my mom that I can take it from here.  She completely understands.

I am driving this bus.

And we are going to see Marmaduke this afternoon.

And that is that.

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  1. What a woman!

  2. Ok, delete my last post. The general is back in charge!

    I’m glad you are following your intuition when it comes to your kids. I’m also glad you do question the universe and I’m gladder still that you get answers that resonate with you.

    I KNOW you and the kids will be fine in the long run. Just remember: In the parade of life, sometimes you have to veer around horsesh*t.

  3. Donna,

    I won’t delete your last comment because it was so damned insightful and full of great stuff. (Unless, of course, you demand that I do so.)

    The bus will be taking us shopping today for taller mud boots for better navigation around all the horse****.

    love you

  4. You are my HERO…I am doing the happy dance after reading this post!

  5. Jennifer,

    Thanks for that.

    I was going to criticize your choice in heroes, but I’m trying to only say positive things about myself. That being said, I’m positive you could find a better hero. ;)

  6. As Kate’s daughter reminds us, “Don’t step in the soft stuff.” I guess where it’s unavoidable, you just need the higher mud boots. Bring ’em on!

  7. Yay you! I was behind in my reading when I commented on your last two posts today. I guess I should have read this first :) So, so glad you’re back on your proverbial feet. This is fabulous. You are fabulous. And it’s amazing how you were able to see the signs telling you what to do (or, really, just telling you that you’ve known what to do all along). You go girl.

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