I feel that I hurt, turned off, scared, dumped (not about her) on my daughter yesterday and she’s either hurt or very turned off. It wasn’t anything devastating, in fact it was expressing myself about my own issues. But she was trying to help and couldn’t and I have no idea about how she actually took it. I wish I had taken a deep breath and made sure I knew how she took it. I have a feeling she somehow ended up feeling guilty about “something”. If I could have a “do over”, I’d have left her after making it clear to her that she had nothing to do with my pain – I think she knows – but I’d feel better had I made that clear. That I didn’t expect her to “fix it”. I feel I left her in my emotional turmoil. She’s in a pretty painful place right now, going througha divorce, and I imagine our experience yesterday left her with some feelings of her own to deal with.
I later texted her – her preferred communication – apologizing for expressing my anger and sadness in a way that I didn’t like. She hasn’t responded.
She’s been in a very fragile state for the last couple of years and I’ve tried to be there for her. I’m already pretty worn out trying to deal with some of my own presently heavy issues that she is not a part of – and still be there for her. I realized recently that I’m feeling a little sad that she doesn’t realize – or at least express – any acknowledgement of what I’ve helped her with during her divorce. It’s clear she’s had a lot of comfort from our talks and being together, a few “A Ha” moments. She invariably attributes these to others. She openly and often expresses gratitude for others who are there for her – and I’m so glad they are. Deeply grateful for the love surrounding her. She invariably attributes one of “our A Ha moments” to someone else when she’s recounting to me.
Is it my Ego? Wanting to feel appreciated some times? Acknowledged? Does it really matter who helps her as long as she grows and finds her way? My egoless self would certainly say that and most of the time I do. While writing this I just realized – I want to know that she feels like my cherished daughter – a special, not to be duplicated relationship, not me as merely a friend.
We’re extremely close but rarely physically affectionate. We’re more best friends than Mother-Daughter. I know that’s appropriate for where we are now but I think I was not a “Mommy” – a consistent safe place – when she was growing up. I still yearn for that feeling between us, even more as I get further away from the time when it was appropriate. It’s loudly missing – and has always been missing. She wasn’t a cuddler, but neither was I. I missed that as a child and I wasn’t even aware of it. I certainly would never have given it to my kids. I was pretty emotionally detached in most ways in the past – from everyone – so that I’m so glad that we’ve been able to sustain the closeness that we have and see it grow as adults. I guess it’s an intense mother-daughter closeness expressed in the best way that we both know how and are comfortable with.
The first time I can remember “feeling” a hug was when my daughter was about five years old. My sister and brother-in-law were visiting us from out of town and just leaving our home. We were in the driveway and my sister hugged me – which she did a lot. All of a sudden I realized that I was being hugged and especially realized that I wasn’t hugging back. I did it awkwardly. It was an emotional milestone in my life that I’ll never forget. That feeling. I had always just stood motionless when anyone hugged me. I got plenty of hugs – from my husband, family, kids – but never felt it until then. That was the beginning of learning to relish hugs. My children were about 5, 10 and 13. I weep for the disconnection I taught them. I wonder what pain and difficulty attaching they have experienced all of these years. I’ve watched them as adults and they’re all very physically and emotionally affectionate and connected with their families but that missing part of their childhood has to have affected them in some pretty deep ways? Maybe they learned what they don’t want to be? I’ll start a conversation with them at an appropriate time and hope for healing where needed. I know from experience that it’s never to late.
Thanks Maya Angelou – once again I say to myself… “When I know better I do better”. That helps. And now I hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every chance I get. And really feel it.
And I’m grateful.