Thursday, October 8, 2009

Look In The Mirror

I had to admit to alot tonight. And it kinda sucked. really sucked. But I'm glad to know I can be honest with myself when it's really difficult.
I had a phone session with Susan (T) to discuss the prior post and all my confusing feelings about the situation with JH. Susan asked me what I expected when I made these plans with him and I told her that I expected he would keep his plans with us but, if he found he had to cancel, I expected he would let me know and maybe even take the next step to tell Bianca himself. Susan said that my expectations here were reasonable and JH demonstrated that he could not get out of his own way in this situation. Perhaps he was being naive and didn't think through what the court date would mean to his ability to keep his plans. Clearly he handled it badly in communicating to me what was going on. She said maybe he was even trying to "avoid disappointing" us by not coming out and saying "I can't make it." Man thinking, I guess.
In any case, I talked about Bianca's disappointment and her emotions and how hard it was for me to help her through that. I was angry at him for bringing this into her world that day. "Hey," Susan says....."first of all, disappointment is a human experience and no one can be protected from it. Second, it's YOUR job to think about Bianca's feelings." Ouch. Susan went on to say that she can't speak for what Bianca is feeling but it's important for ME to work through what I am feeling. What AM I feeling? I don't know what is old and what is new. Susan asked did I feel young when feeling those feelings? If you feel young, the feelings are old. Yes, part of me did feel very young, crushed, dismissed, unimportant. Another part of me just felt "Mama Bear" angry and the rest of me felt stupid for setting this up to begin with.
She goes on to say "JH is not her father. He's not YOUR father. He's just a man who had a bad day." The issue was not so much he couldn't go but how he went about it. And there has been this huge expectation backloaded into the mix because of the role "assigned" to him, to be her Godfather. But this is a role and title he ASKED for. Here's what it breaks down to....because of the lack of a father figure, giving him this role now symbolizes something huge. And that gives it enormous power. I want it too much. I need to accept what is. Accepting what is for her really starts with accepting what is for me. JH can't do what he thought he could do and I've now created an inconsistency for her with him. He can't be this powerful emotional presence in her life. He's my friend who visits sometimes. I was not realistic. I didn't keep myself grounded in this. My expectations are so high for anyone involved with her. I feel like a complete and total ass for believing this would work out how I wanted. It seems the harder I try to fill this spot in her life, the more I teach her that people can't be counted on. I've done that to her. That's on me. There is a big trust/distrust issue that comes into play for me anytime a man is involved. Old stuff.
I said to Susan "I see this VOID in her life but the truth is it's MY void and I feel responsible to fill it for her." I guess I don't believe I'm enough for her? You know, I chose this path willingly but naively. I chose to bring her into this world a single Mom. I heard her bio-father's words that he was not going to be involved. Somehow in the back of my head I thought either he would come around or I'd find someone else to be a father for her while she was still a baby. Yes, I chose single motherhood but with a completely unrealistic and idealistic expectation for the future. For someone who has been kicked around as much as I have, I sure have some high-ass, Pollyanna, happy-ending optimism, don't I? I am struggling in accepting what is because it's not what I'd planned. Susan said to me "You have to believe she's going to be okay." Ouch again....I realize now that I *don't* believe she's going to be okay. Because I'm not okay. But by holding onto that, I will make SURE she is not okay. At the very least, I just need to accept that she will have a missing piece but I can't feel guilty for wanting to give her life even though it's not "Perfect". Focus on the joy. I'm dwelling in the pain, it's my pain, not hers but I'm going to project it onto her. Susan says you have to feel it but move through it. Come back to present moment.
I said it's so hard for me to navigate conversations with Bianca when she talks about missing her Daddy or wishing she had a dad or a grandfather. Susan suggested I just say "I understand" and then distract her. I hate doing that because I don't want to seem dismissive. She said it's okay to validate and move on. I help her work through it by not dwelling on it with her. She gave me a couple more suggestions but said this is too heavy a topic for me and I should not engage with Bianca in a discussion unless it's absolutely necessary and driven by her. Even then, if she's struggling, I should have her see a therapist. (The following exchange was serious, but I look back on it, I see where it could come across as harsh if I don't explain that. I was laughing and crying at the same time while talking to her.)
Susan said "You have to stay out of her emotional current! Get on dry land....stay out of it! She's not a 'project' for crying out loud!!" She told me to let her live her life and quit seeing the deficit.
I said "But when I look at her, I see ME."
She said "Then quit looking at her and go look in the mirror for heaven's sake!!!"
Phew....that was an emotionally packed hour. The more I try to make her life "perfect", the worse I screw it up for her. Why can't I just let it be and let her enjoy her life?? By my actions, I keep telling her she's missing something. I tell her I'm not enough; we are not enough. When will I learn my lesson? When will I accept in my heart that things are just as they were meant to be and we have everything we need?? When will I leave my hurts in the past where they belong and quit dragging them into her little world? I feel like such a failure right now. And I can only plead that "Love makes you stupid"....apparently that is true for non-romantic love as well. I love that child so much and I just want her to be happy. But I'm working too hard to make it happen and losing sight of the fact that we have all we need already. I've sure put alot of energy into making a mess of things.


Enola said...

Wow. That was indeed an intense session. I need to re-read your post before I comment in depth but wanted to urge you to visit my blog where you are mentioned.

Ellen said...

Hi Kim,
Your therapist's advice seems very good to me. It's important for us not to project our own feelings onto our children... we must let them have their own feelings...and sometimes we can't make it better for them, but that's the way life is. They will be able to cope in the end.

Good for you for going out and getting such good help.

good luck,

April_optimist said...

You sound like a loving, caring mother. And you sound as if you have a wise therapist. I remember being so worried about my kids when they were growing up. I had to work on me, heal me in order to be able to help them grow up to be healthy and happy adults. Looking back I realize I did much better than I thought I was at the time. I also realize that I made a mistake thinking their father was a better judge of what was good for them because he didn't have an abusive childhood. Now I realize I really could have trusted myself more. I'm guessing you're doing a better job than you think you are with your child.

jumpinginpuddles said...

gosh i think we can all learn bits of things from this post and it will take us a second read to take it all in