ADRENALINE-LACED BULLET

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You wish you were different, but you can’t be. You never will be. You will just always be a shadow of the past. Watching over your shoulder. Distrustful of everyone. Wondering when the danger will come into your back yard, into your home, into your life.
When it will sneak between your shoulder blades and sink into your stomach.

When it will derail your life.

When that family friend will cross the line. When your own flesh and blood will. When someone you’ve placed your trust in—that person you least suspect—will crush life as you know it.

When we were kids, my dad asked, “Is there anything you need to talk about?” In fact, we’re all grown and he still asks. Over the years, the deep inflection in his voice and the concern covering every feature of his face has changed very little.

It took me until my early twenties to understand what he meant. That this was no easy question to ask, but one he felt was important.

You know why. Of course you do. Because nobody asked him until it was too late.

It took me until my thirties—and the birth of my daughter—to feel the crippling paralyzation that sentence embodied for him—and for so many parents.

We aren’t asking our kids if they need to talk about their typical day at school. Sure, we want to hear that too. What we want to know—what we can’t stand to know AND not know is far deeper and darker. It has the power to change everything.

Has some hurt you? Has someone done something you didn’t like? Has someone crossed the line? Getting those answers is such a delicate matter. Kids are young and impressionable. One wrongly worded question can change an answer drastically. It can open that huge Pandora’s box and ruin innocent lives on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

So we find a way to pose the question that sticks to the middle ground but leaves no argument on where we stand with our children. Let’s face it. We want to be the hero. When they are little that’s how they see us.

The infallible hero who always has the answers and never fails.

We know that changes with time. We go from hero to embarrassing, to annoying AND embarrassing, to slightly knowledgeable and so on until we go back to hero status in a whole new light. It all starts somewhere.

Is there anything you need to talk about?

I hope and pray the answer is always no. Not because you feel you can’t trust, but because you simply have nothing to give in response to that deep question.

I asked it for the first time. I asked it in gut-wrenching misery while feeling as if I might die from the unknown. Feeling as if I might lose my mind in an explosion of epic proportions. Feeling as if I’d failed. Hurting, bleeding inside for all those kids—people—who’ve been wronged. So wronged they sometimes don’t even realize they’ve been hit by an adrenaline-laced bullet.

We don’t know we’re bleeding. We think we’ve escaped. We think everything will be fine. All the while we are holding our chests. We feel the warmth seep between our fingers, the heavy throb of blood bringing gush after gush. And for a minute we’re comforted. We refuse the bandage—maybe we’ve never been offered one. Maybe we have, but the application was stilted by our need to control something that was never really ours to control.

Is there anything you need to talk about?

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My dad, my husband and the Extremely Cute Toddler (ECT) in November 2015

Rachel is a military wife and the mother of the Extremely Cute Toddler (ECT). When she’s not working in the healthcare field you can find her writing irresistible fiction and having imaginary conversations with the characters she’s created. She’s lived all over the United States and currently calls California home–bring on the sunshine!

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