I don't understand.
I can see that my daughter is bowed by a weight that she can barely hold. But I can't see or comprehend or help her to carry it.
I can see the struggle as she stands at the threshold, looking through an open door at welcoming hands and faces, and can't move her feet inside.
I can't see or feel or touch the obstacles that she faces.
But I know they're there. Just like I know there's oxygen in her air, that she needs food and water and when she should probably bring a coat, if not wear one; I know that she struggles with something bigger than anything I've had to hold.
And while I can acknowledge her challenge, I can't help. I can't take the weight from her shoulders or bear the burden for her. I'd give her my last crust of bread, throw myself under a train to save her life, and hand over the shoes off my feet without a second thought if it would help. But when it comes to Anxiety, all I can do is watch, and wait, and smile and pretend I don't see the struggle. Because the more I try to help, the heavier her burden becomes.
And in taking the less known route, the one where I acknowledge that the unseen is real and let her bear her burden however it is that the burden is least combersome to her, I take a new weight onto my shoulders. Guilt, that I can't just make it go away. Judgement, because it's a mom's responsibility to fix whatever is wrong. Isolation, because though I've decided to talk about what I see, it still isn't something that polite society discusses. And frustration, because the only thing anyone can say is that she needs help. So I ask and beg and plead, and all I am told is that not everyone is ready to be a parent. That this is something I need to help her with. That it isn't okay for her to struggle. And I pay for these tears, this non-advice, I smile and thank the doctors for what isn't useful. I bow my head and leave the office no richer than when I came in but lacking in hope.
And I turn on the TV or the internet, and I seek more information, and I read and hear and find myself saying that you can't give up. When life gets too big you need to ask for help and keep asking. Talk to your doctor...because although mine doesn't help (and others have told me they have the same experience) some part of me is hopeful that it's an isolated incident. that the lies we perpetually tell ourselves will somehow manifest truth if we just keep repeating the same mantra.
Don't give up.
I can't bear the burden for my daughter. But I can stand with her as she struggles, so maybe she knows she isn't alone. And instead of being ashamed of her inabilities to fit into the normal scheme of things, I can be proud of how hard she tries despite her obstacles that the average person can't hope to understand.
The struggle is real. She is the bravest soul I know, and yet the world may never see how much it takes out of her to show up and stand at the doorway and contemplate walking inside.