I walk my son to his preschool class and sign him in. I have something pink and important in my hand, and I need to show his teacher....outside, privately. Of course she needs to tell the substitute for the day, as the head teacher is gone. The sub turns out to be one of the parents in the school.
They all pat me lovingly, knowingly.
I see a mom - a friend of mine. I try to explain quickly, cryptically, haltingly...
I ask that mom not to hug me so hard on the left side, please.
I tell the teachers what they need to know.
And I walk away feeling utterly humiliated, through no fault of theirs at all.
I walk my daughter's lunch to her room, hunched over. I didn't mean to interrupt the class. The teacher comes out to pat my arm and tell me to take good care of myself. She is 28.
I walk up the hill to the principal's office. She wants to see me. Soon. Am I in trouble? No, I am not. But she wasn't there yesterday - the first day I had to call the school and tell them. I assured them that my daughter was not hurt. She still asked to see me.
I walk into the office and the secretary quickly and carefully interrupts the principal's meeting; she has been waiting for me. The other member of the meeting (and another parent in this small mountain community) swiftly leaves the principal's office, making room for both me and my burden in one subtle nod.
I feel guilt, shame, humiliation.
I don't know.
Because they know. They know what happened. They know it happened.
I don't know why I feel like a victim, but I do.
I share my story with the principal, someone I respect greatly and have come to adore.
She does not make me feel like a victim - the farthest thing from that - but I take note of how I am feeling during this process. While she is grounding me, I still feel stupid and embarrassed.
Everyone around me is supporting me and I feel humiliated.
Clearly this is my problem.