One day a few months ago, I had a terrible fight with my teenage daughter, which resulted in my slapping her. I cried, repulsed by my behavior as she got out of my car and walked to school. It was scary for both of us as I reverted back to "acting like I use to", in her words.
I called my ex- husband. I called our therapist. I emailed my sponsor.
Truth be told, I felt like acting like use to; smothering the anger, fear, and loathing with poison. Instead I requested the sick man's prayer from the ladies on my gratitude list. Took some time to write out my thoughts, and now share those words here to possibly help another mom in recovery. I need to remain diligent about my tendency to enable her behavior, in large part to overcompensate for those old drunk days.
“I’m failing this beautiful girl of mine. This marvelous, amazing gift from God. I’m losing the battle. The emotional warfare is peaking and I pray for strength to set my weapons aside and just embrace her for the wonderful soul that she is.
She can be impossible. Incessant. Indignant.
She is sad. Confused. Angry.
She is beautiful. Insightful. Deep.
So deep. Yet shallow to everything sensory.
What am I supposed to do with this tiny little lady? Her exterior is very much a young woman, blossoming in a stunningly awkward manner. Yet her interior is full of so much angst that I cannot comprehend. At times it is a struggle to engage with her. Her inner angry animal contorts into bitter words and repetitive verbal attacks. A formulation of taunting, teasing, complaining, and relentless refusal to simply live with others. Cohabitation seems not to suit her, yet she is ravenous for attention. Habitually from me. She pushes everyone else away. Her walls are impenetrable.
What is she? Not autistic. Not ADD. Simply impaired in an organic, cognitive situation. There isn't a label for her. I ponder sometimes if she would be easier to accept if there was a diagnosis.
Did she sense my discontent while in the womb? My disease of alcoholism not yet recognized?
I long to fix her. Yet I don’t know how. I wish for others to accept her as she is. Yet can’t expect them to receive her while there isn’t a realistic explanation for her behavior.
I’ve heard it’s bad parenting. Spank it out of her. Be the adult. Simply ignore her. Take away her “things”, reward instead of discipline. Words of advice condensed from every parenting book I have read. The Cliff Notes of parenting, if you will.
My heart breaks rather frequently. With each exasperated sigh I release. With every cerebral scream that I release in my head when she tells me she hates me. Each and every time I pray to find the solution to fill her empty cup with contentment, instead of resentment.
She is a gift.
She is my strength, even when she breaks me. If not for her pushing and challenging me, I wouldn’t have the coping skills that have suited me well in recovery.
If not for her, I wouldn’t have empathy for every other parent who struggles as I do, or in a method which is frequently multiple times worse.
She is my token of God’s love. Her blue eyes twinkle with delight upon holding a kitten. Her contagious laugh can fill a room with glee. While touching is always on her terms, her embrace fills me every time I am blessed with an honest hug.
She is my wonder. Through her I have learned to see beyond the surface. Her senses are preciously keen to sound and scent; forcing me to slow down and inhale as she asks “Do you smell that, what is that smell?” And, “What is that sound? Do you hear that?” Without her reminders I neglect to take the time to realize the obvious; be right here, right now.
I lose my patience. I want her to let me in. Allow me to help. Comfort. Love.
I don’t know if I will ever be allowed into the emotional fortress she has built. I feel as if I am running out of time. Almost on empty. She is a teen. A young lady. She has feelings. She has ideas.
She hurts. A lot.
She sees me now. The rose colored glasses are fogging as she matures; I am becoming transparent. I cannot fake this. I am not capable of deceiving her into thinking I am the best me I can be.
I am sober. I am finding my reality. The smog has been lifted and if I loathe the individual I am with her; how can I expect her to accept me. For on many days, I feel flawed and still fearful…
…of failing her. Failing us. I overcompensate.
The drinking pacified these fears. Soothed, yet never removed. Mollified into a deeper, darker crevasse in my soul. Now dealing with the damage. Past and present. Pain that needs repair. I can only accept, not modify, my shortcomings from days gone by. Use diligence as I set a new healthier normal as we evolve together.
She once asked me “Hey Mom, where did I come from?” Knowing my traditional reply would be “God.”
I asked her, “Why did you pick me as your Mom?”
“You were the only one there…”
So now the task at hand is to be “The only one HERE.”