After a long and stunningly cold few months. After a long bout of being sick and being stuck in the recovery part. After much holiday traveling and my son-in-law doing his own business trekking around the world. After feeling completely non-infectious, could stay awake for more than a few hours and regaining most of my voice, I called my daughter last Thursday to see if their schedule would allow for finally, finally, finally getting together to celebrate Yule.
Son-in-law's schedule needed to be checked, as he was heading out on another out of the country trip and she, my sweet and strange daughter said that she would check all that and get back to me. She mentioned that they might want a nice and quiet last weekend together. Cool. She never called back and I was kind of happy to have more time to myself, as my voice keeps drifting in and out of sounding like a telephone perv.
Saturday night she called and asked me if I was on my way. She meant her house, but had forgotten to let me know. It was 5:30 p.m. and I considered, for a moment, that I would get ready, load all the stuff in the car and come anyway. I thought it was funny, the whole miscommunication thing, and said that we could just reschedule, but she did not. Think it was funny or want to set a different time. She immediately attacked me for forgetting.
I could tell a change in her ranting when she must have remembered that she had forgotten to call me. The conversation devolved into her stressing about just making other arrangements some other time, but not any time soon.
And, as strange and silly as this all was, after she hung up on me, I sat here at my desk, stuck to my seat with a new perspective and understanding of who each of us are, both individually and together.
Whenever there is the least bit of conflict, my default is to assume full responsibility. I shame spiral, settling into my favorite pit of blame, shame and pain, the knowledge that I am incapable of doing the right thing, that my memory is defective, that I always make the wrong choices and decisions and that no matter how much I try, I will never choose the right thing or please anyone.
It is really painful to write that, listen to the words in my head. Know that I will never be good enough or smart enough or worthy of anything but more pain.
Pain is a lure, it takes the place of other feelings, of happiness or joy or even plain old contentment. Pain proves my unworthiness for kindness and respect, much less love.
This behavior is a common response of my daughter's. She is impatient with me almost all of the time. Whenever I am able to be engaging and she seems happy or pleased, I am thrilled. Unfortunately, it is not her ordinary way of being with me. I struggle with being bland around her and there are times when I talk to her about what happened, but she is defensive and the truth is that it is not worth it. This is something else that is one of my deepest pains. I have never told anyone about this because it is a factor of my failure to get along with people, my inability to behave properly. It is a shame that I carry around me, ready at hand, to remind me to be passive and let other people do what they want and behave any way they want with me.
The client who is currently an issue for me is a prime example of how I do not set boundaries with people, especially my clients. I am getting better at this, setting boundaries with a couple of people, but there is so much I still have to do, stopping being subservient to everyone. I think the only equal relationships I have ever had have been with my pets. I provide what they needed and they did the same back to me. I am bigger, have opposable thumbs. can get to the store and buy or make what they need, but there is no inequality in those relationships. I believe that I have always been on the end that receives the most.
It sucks, always has, but it is what I do, or what I hope I did, as in the past. But, that is not the important part.
And, as strange and silly as this all was, after she hung up on me, I
sat here at my desk, stuck to my seat with a new perspective and
understanding of who each of us are, both individually and together.
My behaviors are part of my marriage, to be sure, but I think the seeds of feeling not worthy or important of anything better reach back to my childhood and the abuse that all of us suffered then.
I understand that all of our life experiences factor in to how we live, and respond, all that jazz. But, I never connected how my daughter is with me with how the entire dynamic was in our, her, childhood home.
I am not making excuses, not for my ex or for my daughter and especially not for me. It all was what it was. Simple in the realm where simple lives. But, she does not know how else to be with me. When there is anything more than a trifling trouble, her default is to judge and criticize me. She gets over it quickly and we move on. Whilst it has never been something I would have chosen, it is not so horrible that I would decide to break all contact with her and all the boys.
Except, that is my thought when this happens. I weigh the benefits of being with all of them against the times when she is unkind to me, something that I do not ever do to her. And, I thought about it this time.
I wanted to just let it drop and not try to make amends and just keep my distance until she got over it. And, then I thought, heck, I did not do anything wrong, she forgot to call me to let me know to drive up on Saturday. But, I let it go and called her on Sunday to ask if she wanted to reschedule something for this coming week or wait until daddy returned from his trip. She wants to wait, and that is what we will do.
There was a silence and I decided to fill it. Without thinking about it, I started to talk about how we struggle with things like this, that I understand in a way I have not before and that we are both survivors. She agreed, but her survivorship is partly from her father, but also from me.
I imagine that she feels that I was not proactive enough, not a good enough mother to have been able to fix all of that mess of a childhood for her and family for all of us. I agree. It is all I can do, not being able to go back and do everything differently. I was as good a parent as I could be. It was not enough, but it was all I had, all I could do.
More importantly, when she agrees that we are survivors, she is referring mostly to having survived me. I am not making this more than it actually is. We are still close, even with all of that stuff.
I said that we have come through some of the worst times that people can experience and we are still here and are better people for it. She agreed. It is just that her agreement and nothing else to say means that we have not begun to address, discuss and heal from so many thing. It is my fault that we do not do any of that. I simply cannot, although the time might be quickly approaching when I will not longer be able to avoid having these conversations with her.
I am not blameless. I allowed, heck, I probably fostered this behavior and attitude in her. Some fucked up attempt to keep the peace. I do not know where this is going, but I have new insights about what we are doing, how we are dancing around with this, and how it came to be and, well, the possibilities that might be in our future.
Our future feels tender, perhaps even more vulnerable for both of us. There is the chance that she may ask me questions that I am not willing to answer. My therapist and I have discussed opening up to her and being open to anything she might want to discuss with me. I do not mind talking about my frailties and mistakes, my bad behavior. It is just that there are some things about my life with her father that are not appropriate for a child to know. My guess is that I will resist, if not outright refuse to talk about those things. There are things I have never shared with anyone. My therapist insists that disclosing some of that is essential to my continued healing and recovery, that my fears and the consequences of PTSD will stop holding such power over me. I am not convinced. I do not know how I could ever tell anyone about those things.
I believe that my understanding, the new understanding, is going to make a difference in how I respond to many things. I am full of hope.