That Time I Lost It Over Eve Not Texting Me Back
Okay, Susan from the Pacific Northwest, if you're still around I am bowing to your superior luminary prowess and I have ordered some hopefully-bright-enough bulbs for the new fixture. Will report back.
Today for your viewing pleasure, we have The Mystery of the Missing Daughter.
When Angus moved away, I was sad but I didn't worry about him much. He was ready to go, he settled in well, I heard from him once a week or so, and that was fine. Eve, on the other hand, FaceTimes me most days and has since she's been away, which is great. I usually let her call me when she has time because she has a busier schedule. This has the bonus effect of not letting me think "why isn't she calling/texting me back?", and inferring that it's because she's sick or injured or dead, which I almost never do, but when I do, I do it hard. Because I'm used to talking to her every day, if a day goes by and I DON'T hear from her, sometimes I wonder why. Even with Angus, once in a while - when he and his girlfriend broke up, I felt bad that he felt bad, but I also felt bad that I had no one to text "hey sweetie, is my son alive?" when he didn't get back to me for a day or so and my serenity went walkabout.
So a few weeks into the term, Eve was supposed to do a digital/media detox for a class, for twenty-four hours. This didn't just mean no screens - it meant no reading. She didn't even know if she could go to the cafeteria because there would be signs there, or how she would know what time it was. I said that sounded extreme, and she should just do whatever worked for her. She was planning to start at seven on a Saturday night and try to go for as long as she could. I was out for dinner with a group on the Saturday night when she tried to FaceTime me, so I went out to the parking lot to talk to her and say goodnight.
The next night at around seven, I texted her and said "hey baby! Did you do it? Whether you did it or not, I love you."
Fifteen minutes later I texted "Can you text me that you're alive when you can because I thought you'd be back on by now." Then I went to get Matt to talk me down. He said "she's fine, she's with her friends or doing homework, do not text her again".
Which, yeah, fine, very sensible. Except no, not fine, not sensible, she was going to be desperate to get back on her phone even if she was with friends or doing homework, and when she turned her phone back on she would see my text so WHY WASN'T SHE SEEING MY TEXT.
I texted her "I'm sorry. This is the bad part of being so connected. I feel like I should be able to contact you instantly. Okay. You're fine. I'm fine." But I wasn't fine. I was in an extreme spiral of "she should be back on her phone why isn't she back on her phone if something went wrong someone would call me right, maybe they're about to call me right now, maybe she went for a walk in the woods to digitally detox and broke her leg, it's past twenty-four hours, how could she have her phone off for MORE than twenty-four hours". I tried to convince myself that everything was fine, then I didn't want to convince myself that everything was fine, because it's generally when everything is fine that you get blindsided by bad stuff. Finally I messaged Jody (HI JODY) and she talked me down a little more because sometimes you need to hear something from someone other than your husband. But I still wasn't okay.
A few minutes later, Matt came upstairs and said he wanted to make it clear that he wasn't totally sanguine over the fact that we couldn't reach her either. I appreciated both the effort to reassure me and the admission that I wasn't the only one overreacting.
I had taken my phone off silent mode, and it pinged several times with messages from people that I briefly loathed completely unfairly, simply by virtue of the fact that they weren't my daughter.
And then of course it pinged again and it was Eve and she said "omg I'm so sorry I'm fine. I started at like 8 last night and people convinced me not to cheat so I just got out". And I apologized for completely squandering my chance to handle the situation with any semblance of grace and restraint, and she texted "You've been so chill the last few weeks, I didn't know you would even worry" and I said "I WAS FAKING IT". And then she called me and she had had the most fabulous day with a group of other students doing the detox -- they walked to the Botanical Gardens and played volleyball, then walked back to campus and played ultimate frisbee, and she'd petted a really cute dog and done thirty thousand steps and couldn't feel her feet and everything was great.
There are no big lessons here. Sometimes bad shit happens. Sometimes I worry about things I can't control. Worrying doesn't make bad shit not happen, but I can't just not worry. But I don't worry all the time, and I haven't flipped out since, so one freak-out every ten weeks or so isn't totally unmanageable. Also, my daughter managed to keep her phone totally off for MORE than twenty-four hours.
|Soothing picture of calm waters|