Mei An and I came back from Bill's 50th birthday party in a different car from the rest of the family. (I was in mine from the work in SF and we stopped at the beach in Seaside because we were in no hurry to get home.)
It was very fun with her, but I know what some of her struggle is... her mind is having difficulty getting to words and she fears she's going to get passed up in the moment and be interrupted or misunderstood. So she, in great frustration, blows up.
She is just now getting to be able to verbalize that stuff - one positive result of therapy. She and I talked a bit about it while we were on the beach - safe place and nobody to interrupt - and while we drove - again, safe place. I patiently waited while she tried to find words.
While waiting to order in the McDonald's drive through and I asked her for what she wanted to drink, she goes, "You know what my favorite drink is?" I said, "yes, Dr. Pepper", she said "yeah, I want that"... Then she said "Sometimes I say Sprite because we're ordering (as a family - chaos and pressure to hurry up) and I can't say Dr. Pepper so I say 'Sprite' because I can say that".
That was a big snapshot for me of what she deals with all the time.
I know how it is. There's pressure to say a thing and you can't get the words out. Sometimes it's a numbing experience, but the end result is regret. I always think later about what I could have said, or should have said but didn't. The best I can hope for is the chance to re-enter the conversation.
I remember when my dad went into the hospital to get stints put in his heart. I thought at the time that if this didn't go well, there was a lot that I hadn't said to him. No matter how many times I had said "I love you" in the past, all I could think about was the times I didn't. When I talked with him later, I was surprised to hear that he was thinking roughly the same things while he was going in for the procedure and after he came out.
At the time, in the moment, it's a silly feeling. Looking at the person I need to address for whatever reason and nothing of substance makes it out. It's embarrassing. Even recently that feeling Mei An has, utter frustration making it worse as it adds to the pressure of the moment. I want to apologize, or explain myself, but it's now too late. The moment's gone. I've said too little or nothing at all.
Regret is that way I suppose. It has a way of eating you. There's always tomorrow. A new day and all that. Maybe that will be the one. Maybe I'll get it right. If so, I hope it's at a moment as important as an eight year old girl ordering the right soft drink. After all, there really is nothing like a cold Dr. Pepper. Sprite, by comparison is a poor substitute.