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Selma’s Story Time – 8/11/14

She had gotten some sleep, but her mind kept racing. This felt like the right thing to do, but she wasn’t sure what the feelings trapped inside were going to do when they came out.

A couple of months ago, Shelby took her grandma to The Neighborhood Perk, a coffee shop on campus where she frequently studied. The coffee there tasted better than Mrs. Stockton’s day to day coffee, so she picked up a bag to have when guests came over. She started the brewing the coffee to have with Ellen. 

As she placed Marty’s scrapbook on the table in the living room, the door bell rang. Taking a deep breath, she straightened her blouse and went to answer the door.

“Hello Shirley,” said Ellen. “Ellen, it is so good to see you,” Mrs. Stockton said, “please come in.”

Ellen came into the entryway and Mrs. Stockton shut the door behind her. Ellen set her purse down on the table by the door, and reached over and gave Mrs. Stockton a hug. The embrace was comforting for both women.

“I thought that we would get started in the dining room with our coffee and bakery treats and then move into the living room depending on how things were going,” Mrs. Stockton said as she led Ellen towards the dining room. “Just let yourself do what you need to do Shirley,” Ellen replied, “I’m just here to listen and I want you to be comfortable while you share your feelings.” “O.k.,” she replied.

They started by talking about what Ellen’s kids were up to and what Mrs. Stockton’s grandkids were up to, which helped Mrs. Stockton feel more at ease. She felt a little bit strange about starting to share her feelings about communicating with Jerry Givings.

“When do we start talking about how I feel about talking to him?” Mrs. Stockton asked with a very anxious tone to her voice. “Whenever you are ready to,” Ellen responded calmly to help calm her. “I’ve never done this before,” Mrs. Stockton said, “I didn’t know if there was a right way to proceed.” “There’s no set way to do it. Each session is different.”

Mrs. Stockton took a sip of coffee and a deep breath before she started speaking.

“Well, Ed has given me a way to communicate with Jerry Givings, the one who shot Marty.” “What do you want to know from him?” Ellen asked. “If he’s sorry for the pain he has caused me and my family.” “What do you think he’ll say?” “Deep down I think I know.” “What?” “That he doesn’t really care about what he did.” “Will you accept that answer? Or do you want it to be something else?” “It may be hard, but I will have to accept it. I want him to tell me that he didn’t mean to do it so I can forgive him and move on.” “You may have to forgive him, but you don’t have to forget what he did.” “Then it will still be on my mind. How do I move past it then?” “You have to stop making it such a focus in your life.” “I’m reminded every time the news says another cop has been shot.” “The moving on process doesn’t mean you will never think about it again. It just means that you know how to manage it.”

Taking another sip of coffee, she followed with exaggerated deep breath.

“Are you O.K.?” Ellen asked. “I’m feeling a wave of emotions swelling up in me.” “What’s causing it?” Ellen asked, “Just let it out, whatever it is. You are in a safe place and I am here.” “I’m angry at Walter,” she blurted out. “Why are you angry at him?” “He wouldn’t let me talk to someone about how I felt. He wouldn’t let me get mad at Jerry Givings.” “Why didn’t he want you to talk to someone?” “He didn’t want anyone else in our affairs. He didn’t want anyone outside of our family to know that we were hurting. He wanted us to appear as a strong family and not weak.” “Why didn’t you talk to someone in your family? Share with them how you were feeling?” “They didn’t understand. They didn’t just lose a son. And I couldn’t go against my husband’s wishes and talk to someone anyway.” “So, what did you do to deal with the feelings you were having?” “I didn’t know what to do with them. I just stuffed them deep down inside and tried to forget about it. But, I couldn’t forget about Marty.” “There’s nothing wrong with how you handled it. You did what you did with the information you had at the time. And, you are angry about it because you felt held back from what you wanted to do.”

“How do I fix it now?” “You have to forgive yourself for not talking to someone about it then. You are talking to someone now and that’s a great first step.” “Where do I go from here?” “What I would like you to do is sit down and write the e-mail to Jerry. Don’t send it, but just write what you want to say to him. This letter doesn’t have to be well written. It just needs to get all of those feelings out so we can look at them. Think of it like writing in a personal journal.” “What will I do with that?” she said, doubting that this was the right thing to do. “I’m hoping that you will be able to share what you write with me. Then we can talk about it and make a plan for what our next step should be.” “When do I have to have this ready by?” “There is no deadline. Take your time and call me when you are ready to share. I wouldn’t stretch it out for very long though. We have started to touch on somethings already that are on your mind. Once they start to flow, it’s good to just let the walls break down and start the journey to heal.” “This idea kind of scares me.” “Getting the feelings out can be a hard thing to do. But just let them come out. I’ll be a phone call away if this becomes too overwhelming for you.”

They both got up from the dining room table. Mrs. Stockton walked her to the door, knowing that this first step was hard. The second step on this journey may be even harder.

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