"Marsha Jacobson does parents a great favor."
The Inspiration Behind “Boom… Boom… Boom…”
August 6th, 2009 ¦ Marsha Jacobson -
Five years ago, my daughter and I had a day that changed both our lives.
The day was warm and we were well into summer, my favorite season. It was a day like any other. In fact better because I was lunching out with friends. My daughter Gabi, who was 4 years old at the time, had a friend over and she happily kissed me goodbye. She was really comfortable with her nanny, who had taken care of her since she was just a few months old.
A few hours later, I was driving home with my friend after lunch when she turned to me and asked, “Do you want to go shopping?”
I’ve thought many times about that moment because as someone who rarely turns down an invitation to shop, I did that day. For some reason I wanted to go home and said so.
As I walked into my house, the first thing I heard were my daughter’s screams. I opened the back door and collided with her. I asked, “Gabi, what’s wrong? Are you girls fighting? Where’s Nanny?”
“She’s in the pool!” she screamed.
The next twenty minutes felt like hours and it felt like time stood still. In fact, time simply became unimportant. I peered over our deck and saw the nanny lying at the bottom of the pool. It is this image that stays with me. For months afterwards, it would pop into my head unexpectedly and hold me prisoner to a crippling anxiety.
That day I discovered how I act in a crisis.
Throwing off clothing as I ran, I dived into the pool and somehow found the strength to drag the nanny’s lifeless, water-logged body to the side of the pool and onto the ledge. Her face was blue and her eyes were glazed. I began to perform CPR. Between breaths I pleaded with her to breathe.
And she finally did.
During the chaos, I sent Gabi four houses down the road to get my friend. That I sent my four year old daughter to do this, weighed on me for a long time. By the time that they both returned, the nanny was breathing and now with another adult present, I called 911.
Gabi’s nanny made a full recovery and was celebrating her birthday four days later. Gabi and I on the other hand had only begun our journey of recovery and discovery. I cried many tears that year and I like to think now that each one cleansed some little part of me.
Surprisingly, Gabi had no issues with swimming after the event but was left with a debilitating separation anxiety which affected so many many areas of her young life. She stopped going to friend’s houses and birthday parties. She became terrified whenever I went out the house. She had problems going to sleep at night and wouldn’t have anyone other than my husband or I take care of her.
She also hated us leaving her at school and we began receiving calls regularly from the school office with requests from Gabi to pick her up as she wasn’t feeling well. She also had no desire to talk about the incident. We eventually realized that we needed help.
We tried a few different therapists, which really didn’t seem to help at all. Then one day a mother at Gabi’s school referred me to Jennifer Kolari, calling her a “miracle worker.” I was definitely ready for a miracle and contacted Jennifer.
She was more than that. She blew life again into Gabi and me. We both loved her and Gabi loved going to her. I am happy to say that today, at 9 years old, Gabi is a happy little girl. When I felt that Gabi was going to be ok, I began to focus on myself.
I discovered that trauma or not, everyone can benefit from therapy. One of the things that I felt compelled to do was write. I wrote all the time. I wrote about my childhood, my experiences and my feelings. I would highly recommend writing to anyone who wants to process their feelings and live a positive life.
Somewhere along the way I began writing about parenting and parenting anxious children. I have four children and they have all had their fair share of anxiety. They are fine with me sharing this because we all feel that anxiety, depression and any other mind/body related illness is nothing to be ashamed of. We see it as a strength to admit to our feelings in an open and accepting way.
And so, together with my background in Clinical Psychology, being a parent and my life experiences I felt well prepared to write “Boom… Boom… Boom…” and so I did!
This book is the first of what I call the Feel Ease Series. I’ve begun working on the next one. It’s entitled “Seven of Everything” and will be a story about separation anxiety.
For a year after the incident I was not capable of clear thought. I felt like it was the worst day of my life and nothing good would ever come of it.
I now know that often the best things arise from the very worst.