How do you let go?  

Friday, May 29, 2009

In a recent conversation with a friend, I found myself suggesting she let go of her daughter. Not to adoption, but rather to life itself. This child is 18 and smart, but for some unknown reason, she clings to excuses rather than the fact that she needs to get out there and make a life for herself.

It is so hard for me to say those words without feeling the pain of surrender. The mother is afraid that her daughter will never forgive her, she will leave and never come back, she will blame the mother for throwing her out instead of standing by her. I understand the mothers feelings, I really do. All too loud and clear comes back the feelings of "she will hate me", "she won't want anything to do with me", "she will never look for me", and it hurts. But there comes a time in every child's life that they need to go. They need to step outside the realm of the family unit, and find out who they are as an individual. Especially if that child's actions or lack of action is causing problems within the family unit.

To listen to her talk on the phone, cry, say she can't live without her daughter in her life, is so familiar, that it almost haunts me. The thought of never seeing her daughter again is what keeps her from taking any kind of real action toward helping her daughter find out who she is and what she's capable of. The fact that the mother herself is an adoptee, complicates the situation even further. Because she was abandoned by her own mother, because she felt alienated herself growing up, she struggles with where to draw the line in regard to her own daughter. I do not disagree with her on this, but feel sometimes the best thing you can do is let go. This child is not an infant, she's by no means helpless. She is "quite" capable of not only functioning on her own, but very possibly becoming an extremely influential member of society, she just needs direction and a chance to spread her wings. She needs to fine tune her passion a bit but who didn't at her age. Passion is what creates influence. If you are not passionate about something, you will never convince anyone of your position on it, and this girl has passion, about a lot of things.

I don't have a crystal ball to prove that the relationship between these two women will survive, but I do have faith that as close as they are to one another, nothing, will stand between them in the long run. I base my opinion on my own relationship with my daughter. We had many obstacles, and still, still, were able to defy all the odds, all the naysayers, all the road blocks and put together a relationship. We did what we needed to do, no matter how painful, and it was painful, but we succeeded, we conquered, and we built a decent life for the two of us.

I know its completely different, as mine and my daughters life started with letting go. I can't help but believe that there comes a time in every parent child relationship that going, and letting go, is the very thing that keeps us together. Some baby birds fly out of the nest, others need a gentle shove, most find their wings. This young lady is so ready to fly, so ready to leave her mark on the world, her fear is of the unknown, and it is stifling her, eating up precious time, robbing her of her place in the universe, and causing very possibly irreparable damage to her family unit.

My problem is finding words that don't sound like an old pro at walking away from your kids. I heard it myself in our conversation, I felt it in the quiet moments when nothing was being said. It rang in my ears, "it was easier for you, you did it at birth". It wasn't easier for me. Nor will it be easy for her. But I can't help but feel that the focus in this situation is on the wrong aspect of it. It feels like the focus in on abandonment instead of succeeding, on being resented instead of helping a child find their way, on giving up on a child instead of that child finding out just how resourceful she really is, on letting go out of love and respect. Not to be confused with "your mother loved you so much she let you go", but rather I have every confidence in you that you will not only succeed, but kick some serious ass in this world, you just need to get out there and do it.

I also felt in those quiet moments on the phone, a new found respect for women who surrendered their children. This is cutting so deep on this mother, that she feels emotions very similar to those of us who never knew how our children were doing. I heard the unasked questions, "is this what your life was like?" "how did you live through this?" We didn't address those issues because this conversation was not about me. But the lines of similarity were there, and it was killing me to relive them again through her.

I will continue to express that the focus should not be abandonment or betrayal, but a normal aspect of life, and hope something hits a cord, that something brings my words into focus. I do fear it coming at the expense of my relationship with this woman. That would be devastating, because she means so very much to me. She is in every sense of the word, like a daughter.

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8 comments: to “ How do you let go?

  • Anonymous
    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 10:49:00 AM PDT  

    My mother is "letting go" of me in just six days.

  • rachael
    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 12:47:00 PM PDT  

    sigh....anyone that bothers to read these comments....this is about me. i am the adoptee and mother that is so desperately clinging to her child.
    lori asked me if my reaction was because of my adoption-i told her i dont know and didnt care-i was not up to psychoanalysing this.

    but what if she is right? is it my own deep seeded fear of abandonment that allowing myself to be my daughters verbal and emotionaly punching bag? hell if i know.

    this will not turn the relationship with lori and i. she was there and i never once CONSIDERED the amount of pain this might put her in. i was hurting and i wanted my momma.
    but i do see now. i did say it was easier for her. what that was about i dont know. wont even defend myself. as soon as those words came out of my mouth i knew it was wrong. but did i apologize? NOPE. too wrapped up in my own garbage to see past the end of my nose.

    on a positive update, daughter and i have been talking-i think we have a game plan. i pray it works. you feel up to elaborating on your situation? i am interested to hear more if you would like to share. maybe you can help me through the child side and i can help you through the parent side. sometimes outsiders are much easier to deal with. there is no emotional baggage from any other history together.

    that goes for anyone. if you have had the same situation please share if you want. maybe NOT feeling so alone can benefit us all.

    lori-i love you....painfully

  • Lori A
    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 4:13:00 PM PDT  

    I'm very glad you called me. It hurt, but my daughter was on the phone sobbing and in pain,. it would hurt any mother. And its not that I don't care about your daughter, you know I do. I just think she see's leaving home as failure for some reason, and you see it as abandoning her. Your not abandoning her. She needs to get out and make a life for herself. You did it, I did it, the rest of your kids are going to do it. We do lots of things in our lives that are scary, we take a deep breath and do it any way. Just like writing this post. Should I have not written it? Maybe, but it's a very important topic. Pushing her out of the nest isn't done to hurt her or abandon her, or because you don't love her. It's to help her grow and stop going insane about not being a functioning human being.

    There is an old saying about doing something the same way and expecting different results. That's your daughter. She keeps expecting things to change and she makes no effort to make changes. What she's doing isn't working, it hasn't for a long time. She needs a change of scenery, a change of venue. SHE NEEDS TO GO.

    I fail to see why it has to be so perminent with you two. Why does leaving home equate to never seeing one another again? Why is it the end? Okay to a certain extent I understand, maybe, from your perspective, it may be because 28 years WAS a long time. This is not the same. This is normal, kid growing up stuff and as much as she thinks she's a big girl, she's scared shitless and its holding her back and making everyone around her nuts. She's close, but she just won't jump off the deep end of the pool. PUSH HER, she'll swim. She will survive just to spite you. She will work it out. She't too stubborn not to. Besides you have others this is affecting. The last thing you want or need is for all of them to do the exact same thing thinking it's normal.


  • Anonymous
    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 8:19:00 PM PDT  

    I can't say i know what the situation is in the household that you mention, the mother with the 18 yr old daughter, but I really want to ask a stupid question: Why does her daughter *need* to leave home at age 18? Is it the daughter who wishes to leave, or is there a situation happening where the family is not safe with the child at home (such as with severe mental illness or abuse and the child needs alternate housing). Or is it that the daughter MUST attend a certain college in a different locale?

    I'm not getting it -- why does this mother need her daughter to leave the house? Is this a cultural tradition specific to where you live, that a child needs to leave the family home at this young age?

  • rachael
    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 9:28:00 PM PDT daughter must leave home because it is destroying the rest of the family. for over 5 years i have battled to keep her here. to finish education and become an adult like all of did. she wanted to be an adult at 13, and went to far as to make an effort to have me arrested-so she could then be 'free' to do as she pleased. she was willing to say or do anything to be on her own.
    nothing became of her threats, but we have been on edge ever since.

    she treats us all (me, my husband and my other 4 children) like her own personal punching bag. she says anything to wound you, even if there is no reason to. she wants to make others feel terrible about themselves so that she my monopolize the rest of the family. she is not an evil person to the bone-but she can be vindictive and utterly hurtful to whomever is in her path. even if they are her mother or a 6 year old brother.

    when she walks into the house the entire atmosphere changes. you can literally feel it in the air. none of us know when the bomb will drop-we just know it will.

    she is loved, adored even. through all her nastiness we still stand by her and love her. all of us-but now is the time she needs be out on her own. this is what she has wanted for a long time. and i told her when she was 18, she could go. but now that she is of legal age she refuses to spread her wings. but she is still attacking everyone as if we are tieing her down.

    its her time. she can not sit on her hands any longer. no university will touch her. she has quit high school twice and adult education once. she has been arrested and violated probation on 2 occations, served 3 days in jail and is developing an alcohol problem.
    we have tried counseling, tough love and a vast array of other things in an attempt to harness her hostility and get her on the right path. all have failed.

    her brothers and sisters live in total fear of her.
    and she is slowly killing me. i am not exaggerating. she is eating me alive.
    she wants money and power, i am a factory rat that got knocked up in high school. i did what i could-it wasnt perfect-but with 5 children i did what i could.

    there is no traditions or expectations of prestigious colleges. i want my daughter to have a life and if she continues down the path she is on and i live with her-i will always be her crutch. and i believe with all my heart she will be dead or worse within a few short years.

    i can tell you dont agree, but if you only understood what i have been through in the last decade, you might change your mind.
    i support my daughter 100%, but there is only so much i can do before the reigns must be passed to her.
    i cannot and will not be her punching bag any more. physically or emotionally. i need to be a mother to my other children too-and her crushing the entire family at every turn is making that impossible.

    sometime love can not conquer all.

  • Anonymous
    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 10:30:00 PM PDT  

    i'm not saying love can conquer abuse. and i have never said that anyone should put up with being abused. as i stated in my comments, this is a very valid reason to no longer be able to live with a person.

    thank you for explaining your situation. i agree with you -- if this is what she does in your household, she needs to leave.

    has she been screened for borderline personality disorder (or complex trauma -- what many are suspecting BPD to actually be)?

  • rachael
    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 11:19:00 PM PDT  

    actually cedar, yes she has. the doc told me there was nothing wrong with her.

    we are considering getting her stuff in order and enlisting in the navy-maybe the structure there is what she needs.

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 12:13:00 AM PDT  

    can you get a second opinion from another doc?

    different physicians and psychologists can look at the same set of symptoms and give totally different diagnoses, depending on their own personal estimation of the symptoms and interpretation of the DSM.

    "when she walks into the house the entire atmosphere changes. you can literally feel it in the air. none of us know when the bomb will drop-we just know it will."

    have you picked up the book "Walking on Eggshells"? i've heard good things about it.


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