Don’t Throw Me a Pity Party

spring-1569544-1280x960 FreeImages

Image courtesy of freeimages.com/kliverap

I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post. I want to share something that I’m afraid many of you won’t get. Hopefully, I’ll say it in a way you can understand.

Here’s the truth about our situation: I’m not upset, disappointed, sad, or any other negative emotion you might decide I should feel regarding my daughter’s life choices. She started making poor choices in her teen years, straightened up for a while, then headed down this path again. There comes a time when you no longer feel what everyone assumes you should feel. I hit that point many years ago.

You’ve experienced this in your life, too, I bet. For instance…

As a kid, I loved riding my bicycle around the neighborhood.  One year, I fell and scraped up my knee pretty badly. It scabbed over, but before it healed, I fell and scraped it again. And again. And again. I didn’t stop enjoying my bike. I rode it every day, anyway. After awhile, the pain didn’t matter. I’d lived through the scraped up, bloody knee. I’d learned what caused the pain and learned to avoid it. And, the skin on my knee grew tougher in order to protect that part of my body.

That’s what this is like.

You feel scraped up and bloody when bad things start happening in your child’s life. Each time they make a poor decision, it surprises you less. Then one day, you feel no surprise at all. Your heart toughened.  You know this is how it’s going to be. Life goes on and worrying doesn’t change the circumstances.

This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my daughter. I love her, but, in truth, I love the child I raised, not the person she’s become. Every interaction I have with her, now, reinforces this point. Even if she does return to a clean life, she’ll never be the child I knew again.

I’m ok with that.

I don’t spend my days worrying about her. Who has time?

I don’t rethink my parenting skills (we raised four other children who don’t have these issues, after all).

In the early years of my daughter’s troubles with addiction, I prayed a lot for her, passing it on to God, and then I let it go. I hoped for changes in her life, and she did make them for a few years. Then she slipped up, and down this slope she went, again. It’s nothing new. She’s almost thirty-eight. She’s spent most of her adult life on this path. I doubt she’s going to change. For some of you my last statement sounds heartless and un-Christian, but I’ve seen how much this life has a hold on her.

So, what do I feel?

In regards to her: not much.

Her behavior does not rule my moods and attitudes. I’m too busy. Life’s too short. Yes, I pray for her, but  not as much as I used to. God’s given me other responsibilities–my grandchildren. They’re my focus. When I blog about what we’re dealing with, I’m sharing with you in hopes that others going through the same thing will find strength in knowing someone else gets it. Also, I write these posts to make others aware of this situation. I am not alone. Several of my grandchildren’s classmates live with their grandparents instead of their parents. By revealing this reality to you, I hope you will find ways to support these grandparents and their grandchildren, to provide empathy for their struggles.

And that’s a key point to remember: empathize not sympathize.

To express sympathy is to feel sorry for someone. I get a lot of those statements from people online and in my circle of friends. With sympathy, you express how you would feel rather than how they feel. Most people can’t fathom going through this, so your responses tend to be full of sorrow and grief.

To express empathy is to recognize what we’re feeling and acknowledge it. You don’t have to agree with it or feel it, you just acknowledge it. Many people have empathized with me. Some of the most appreciated statements I’ve heard are:

  • Wow. I had my niece with me for an afternoon and was exhausted after a few short hours. (This was one of the first comments I received after revealing this change in our lives. I wanted to hug her right through Facebook.)
  • Heavy sigh my friend…Definitely lifting you up in prayer. (This came from a blogger who is telling the same kind of story after reading my post about the frustration I felt toward my daughter when she started making false promises to my grandchildren.  I knew she couldn’t keep the promises and this woman knew it too.)
  • Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you’re telling your story. (Which is why I’m doing it.)
  • You don’t deserve this. (Yep. Who does?)

Do you see the difference between the statements above and expressions like:

  • “I’m sorry you’re going through this.”
  • “I’m sorry your daughter hasn’t been in touch.”
  • Or with a quiet, sad voice asking, “Have you heard from her?”

If you don’t recognize the difference, let me help you. Sympathy statements are real downers. They assume I’m moping around under a funk of depression. Empathy statements provide support. They see me where I am.

BUT…If you’ve made sympathy statements to me, please don’t kick  yourself.

You’re in the majority. I just want everyone to understand I’m not in mourning. I’m not hoping for a change. I don’t spend my days grieving. I laugh every single day. I’m not doing what I thought I’d be doing at this point in my life, but who is? Yes, I would love for my daughter to straighten up, but it’s not up to me. It’s not on my shoulders.

I’m too busy and too much a daughter of our Lord to let these things weigh me down.

I want to share information in order to help others deal with this. I love hearing from you. Feel free to ask questions or just say what you’re thinking. The point of this post is to let you off the hook: you don’t have to feel sorry for me. I don’t need a pity party.

Hey, but if you want to throw me a party party, I’m all in. Life’s too short to drag around like the world is ending.

Advertisements

Telling My Story: The Pixel Project

ID-100105038

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few months ago, a writer I admire posted information on Facebook about The Pixel Project. I checked out the site and discovered they are trying to raise awareness of violence against women.

I entered a “contest” called Survivor Stories, and they selected my story of domestic violence to appear on their site on Mother’s Day. Below is the link.

The Survivor Stories Project

Many of you know I started this blog to tell my journey to faith. This included talking about my experience with domestic violence. It happened a lifetime ago, and I’ve conquered that part of my life, but I write this blog to help people going through some of the things I’ve gone through. If you’ve never read the posts about my experience with domestic violence, please check out these tags in the sidebar:  Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Violence. If you’re curious about my whole story, check out this tag: The Journey.

Also, if you use Twitter, searching for #SurvivorStories will bring up some of the other stories told by The Pixel Project.

Thank you for reading. And as always, please feel free to share my posts.  I write them in hopes that they help someone who’s struggling.

What Do We Tell the Addict’s Children?

spring-1569544-1280x960-freeimages.jpg

Image courtesy of freeimages.com/kliverap

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

A few weeks ago, I posted about promises my daughter made to my grandchildren. Promises I doubted she would or could keep. Within a week of that post, she bonded out of the local detention center and broke those promises. Prior to her release, she asked me if we and the children could meet her for dinner once she got out. She assured me she missed her children too much and didn’t want to be without them, anymore. She promised to do whatever it took to get back on track.  I doubted her convictions, but did not turn her down.

She was out for two days before I knew they’d released her. I found out by checking the current inmate info online.

A few days later, Victoria showed me pictures she’d drawn to send to her mother. I admired them but said nothing about her mother’s whereabouts. Victoria hadn’t drawn anything for my daughter in some time. In fact, the more my daughter promised, the more upset my granddaughter became. It hurt knowing her mom was so close to getting out and coming to see her. She missed her too much, so she asked to not speak to her mom on the phone. I honored this request though my daughter didn’t like it.

What do I tell Victoria now? What about Amari who created the fantasy that he was going back to live with his mom?

When it became obvious to Victoria that her mother hadn’t called or been in contact, I told her the truth. “We don’t know where she is. She got out a week ago, and we haven’t heard from her.”

Victoria did not comment. But she spent days working this out in her mind because, a few days later, she announced, “I know why Mommy didn’t call. She doesn’t have a phone.”

This is what children do to protect their own hearts. They rationalize. They make excuses for neglectful parents.

Amari still hasn’t asked. In fact, his behavior has improved since the phone calls stopped.

Jesus told his disciples, we must come to him as little children. Children forgive. They leave their hearts open to the missing parent.

When questioned about forgiveness, Jesus told Peter we must forgive seven times seventy-seven times. Children do that, but some day, if the situation doesn’t change, they’ll stop. That’s the sad part. Hope will die in their hearts if we don’t give them something else to trust in.