Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm me, you're you

Learning about boundaries has been my cross to bear recently and DJ's recent hospitalization has further highlighted the importance of my really getting where I end and she begins.  I know, many of you are probably very clear on that and I won't get into why I'm not clear on it, but suffice it to say that for years my being enmeshed with my loved ones worked  incredibly well at maintaining familial ties.

That caused, and causes, problems for me and the family member.  I feel responsible when I shouldn't, and I have difficulty letting my kids, in particular, spread their wings.  Let me rephrase, I let them spread their wings and encourage them to do so, but when they invariably crash, as all of us are wont to do, instead of letting them pick themselves up, and brush themselves off and try again, I attempt to do that for them.  Yeah, for those of you lovely people who have been wonderfully supportive by telling me I'm too hard on myself, I can practically hear you thinking, "You're doing it again!"but hear me out because really, I'm understanding the importance of cutting myself a break.

DJ came out the other day with a remark, or remarks, about how she can't be herself around us, etc., etc.  Here's where I have a part in that, and here's where I don't: it's my epiphany, if you will.  Maybe my piece is that my underlying anxiety about my kids' happiness has propelled to jump in when I shouldn't. Maybe I've inadvertently denied them the opportunity to figure out that they can stand up after they've been driven into the ground.  Maybe, even, my underlying aforementioned anxiety is something they sense and feel bad or responsible about and therefore want to avoid the situation by "putting on a front", at least in DJ's case.  Romeo and Goodwrench never put on fronts-they always came right out with what was on their minds.  Maybe my anxiety about their happiness feels like indirect pressure for them.

Conversely, perhaps DJ has also figured out, because she's a teenager, and that species of humanoids love to manipulate their parents, that by blaming us, she can hide behind a mechanism that I may have started, but she is content to use when it allows her to hide from herself.  So, what if I realized that my kids' happiness is not something I have to wallow in or be responsible for, but can simply observe from the sidelines, and assist with when asked?  What if, for my sake, and theirs, I didn't make my happiness contingent on theirs?  Wouldn't that relieve me, and them, of a burden that I never intended to carry or have them carry?  And wouldn't that, then, allow them to figure out what they're made of?

So then, when DJ tries to lay full responsibility of not feeling like she can be herself at home, I can say, "I'm listening, tell me what you mean" while not buying into the idea that if she feels this way, it is all my fault!  I'm willing to accept that I may have been a part of the problem, but this newfound realization makes me know that because she and I are not joined at the hip, and because Bulldog and I have made huge efforts at helping, that this issue might be something she needs to explore within herself; some of which we can help her with by shifting our methods of communication, and much of which she will have to be responsible for by altering her methods of communicating her needs and wants to us, or to anyone, for that matter.

I am not one of those people who think that God creates problems and gives them to people so that they may learn a specific lesson.  If that's your god, you're welcome to keep him.  BUT, I do believe that when tough and painful situations arise, God's love, or the energy in the universe that connects us to each other, (I'm open to any possibility because I don't have the answers, nor do I believe any one group has the answers), works as a tool, or a means of helping us to wrought good from a bad situation.  

Bulldog and I are beat @$$ tired, and wrung out, frustrated and wish we could help DJ, but we're also at a place of acceptance, in a manner of speaking.  And when you're ready to let go, you're ready to grab onto the next hope of possibility.  Now, we'll see how I feel after we see her tonight;  I have to hold tightly to this new perspective.