EEEEEEEEEE!!!! (This is, but one, of many fabulous expressions I have come to love and use. I first saw it used by my friend Paula and it made me happy. I love that woman.) What better way to express emotions that go far beyond “excitement”? What words can possibly express joy and excitement and exuberance and that feeling when your throat constricts and tears flood your eyes and there’s that fluttering feeling in your chest that travels up and down as your vision blurs because of the tears? Tears of joy. Tears of overwhelming emotion that are impossible to express, that makes it difficult to breathe. I don’t know of anything I could write here that would sum up what I am feeling. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! ⇐ comes the closest.
Yesterday was our second session with Pascal who is a trained facilitator of more than two decades. Our first session I described ‘here‘. Yesterday’s session took place over Skype. It took us a while to get connected and once we did our connection kept going out on us. At one point during a particularly exciting moment with Emma I squealed in delight, looked over to see Pascal’s expression and was met with a blank screen. We’d lost him again. “NOOOOOOO! I cannot believe you just missed this!” I shouted at the darkened screen while Joe, Emma’s therapist, and Richard laughed. Our excitement was palpable. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.
Two weeks ago we had our first session. It was beyond exciting, but in the interim, between that session and our Skype call yesterday I’ve been filled with anxiety and so have only tried to practice with Emma a couple of times. (For those of you unfamiliar with facilitated communication, it has a complicated history. That history I’ve touched upon ‘here‘ and ‘here‘.) I worried that I would inadvertently push Emma to type something she didn’t intend, I worried that I might betray her, by literally putting words in her mouth. I have never forgotten one of the things Amy Sequenzia said to me regarding FC – that the most important piece was trust. I didn’t want to do anything that would betray that, so I did nothing at all.
The first thing Pascal did was cover some of the basics. We went over different things I could try. We discussed the correct way of providing support firmly enough to ensure that trust, but not so much that it becomes a vise grip or so loosely that it is little more than an irritant. Getting the support right is key and not as easy as it might sound. There is also the resistance piece to all of this and there’s a rhythm that must be achieved as well. The process is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I want to liken it to dancing, not the sort of dancing one does in a mosh pit, but ballroom dancing or learning the mambo, where you have to be in sync with your partner, both with your physical movements, but with your mind as well. I’ve had some wonderful FC advisors (other moms who have generously talked to me and given me tips from their experiences doing FC) and so I remembered some of their suggestions. One, from a new friend, Sheree, told me I need to empty my mind. For anyone familiar with Buddhism this sounds much easier than it actually is. But when I felt myself wanting to push Emma to hit a certain letter on the iPad, I “told on myself” immediately and Pascal would gently advise me.
As our session continued and I became more comfortable, feeling the rhythm and getting the right sense of her, we went beyond Emma typing answers to questions such as, “Where are they ice skating?” after being shown a photograph of ice skaters at the ice rink in Rockefeller Center and her dutifully typing Rockefeller Center (which I don’t mean to sound blasé about because you have no idea how HUGE this was, but it was nothing compared to what happened next!) We moved on to increasingly challenging questions, like “What is the name of the airport we have to fly into before we fly to Granma’s house?” She typed “Denver” and I gasped. *I keep wanting to tell you, to describe to you how massive this is. I want to explain to you that while it may seem small or even utterly unexciting to you, it was beyond exciting for me to see her respond in this way.* I don’t think I’ve ever heard Emma say the word “Denver” before and while this is something she has heard many, many times in her life; it is a place we must fly to several times a year when we go visit Granma, it is not something I expect Emma to utter.
Pascal continued to ask Emma more questions about visiting Granma and then I asked, without really thinking, “What kind of dogs does Granma have?” Emma pointed her index finger and then reached for the “g”. I think I may have held my breath. Waiting. Empty my mind. Wait. And then her finger found the “e” and I let myself take a tiny breath. Keep breathing I told myself. Keep breathing. Quiet mind. Be with her. Let go. Be with her. Open mind. Breathe. And then her finger found the “r” and on we went until she’d written “german shepherds” complete with the “s” at the end because there are two and of course she’s correct and I sat there and stared at those words; the two most beautiful words my daughter has ever typed and I looked at her and pressed my forehead to her cheek. I cannot convey the feelings. Gratitude. Joy, unbelievable joy and something else… something I don’t know that I have the words for. A knowing. That’s all I can say. I deep knowing that this is the right road we’ve taken. We are on the right road. And I exhaled and asked, “Em. What kind of dog is Dozer?” Emma looked at me and said, “Last time.” And I laughed and hugged her and said, “Oh Em. Really? I want to talk to you like this all day!” Emma beamed at me and then she patted my knee. “Okay Em. Last time,” I said. Then she typed, “nufandland.”
*Cannot type through the tears.
Dozer with Emma, who is terrified of dogs and yet…