Friday, April 4, 2014

How close is too close?

I have always wanted a close family. I didn't have one as a child, so my goal as an adult was to create my own close family. Thus the hubs and 4 kids. I have always wanted my kids to feel like they can talk to me, that I am for them. Nothing shocks me anymore so they know they can tell me anything. I want to be approachable and comforting to them. For the most part that is what we got. Molly tells me A LOT, sometimes I wonder if I should be putting my fingers in my ears and humming to myself....."I can't hear you!" Big brother calls for recipes and dog advice and just to say hi at least once a week. My girl is quiet and doesn't talk to anyone about her most private thoughts, but every now and then, when we are driving in the car together, and I least expect it....she will start to talk...and I listen. Little one is like her big sister....doesn't like to talk a lot or for me to ask questions. When she is ready, she will spill it all out and again, I listen.

Today a friend and I were talking about living with addiction and how I do not have the answers for my girl. The thinking was that if she is turning to me for advice, we both are in dangerous territory...for a couple reasons. 1. I would love to fix everything for her and get it all neatened up into a tidy little package and present it all back to her, ready for her to live it out.....if the truth be told. No matter how much Alanon I have in me, this may always be the deep dark truth about me. Do I act on those wantings and Well, not always. Do they  pollute my words and my actions with my girl.....probably, a little bit. I would love to have the answers for her and she would love for me to have them too. But I don't. 2. If she is turning to me and my vast fountain of wisdom (that contains nothing for her.....because I have never struggled with the issues she struggles with) because that is what is comfortable for her, then maybe I am getting in the way of her seeking answers from people who really could share their wisdom with her. Maybe I am enabling her to stay where she is comfortable vs. seeking help outside of her comfort zone.

I hated this conversation when I was in it. I felt defensive and mad almost. I explained that I have always wanted my kids to be close to me. How do I have a close relationship with my girl, but not let her talk to me about her life? How do I shut that door on this child who I have tried to maintain some form of connection with for so very long?

Then my friend said it....."it might not always be this way." I always forget that! I forget that my girl and I both have a Higher Power that is working on our behalf, that we both have our own programs, that we both have our own journey's, that being close is not the same as being enmeshed. That I can let go and still love her. When she does talk to me, and I would never tell her to stop.....I can listen. I can respond with the thought that I don't have the answers for her, but I am confident in the fact that she knows where to find them and how to apply them in her own personal life. I can step back and love her fully and be close to her while showing her that I can be trusted to not step on her autonomy, on her free will, or the consequences of her choices.

Its a lot of work to learn new ways of relating to one another. A lot of work! But I do think its worth it. It feels better than the old ways that I used to do things.



Hattie Heaton said...

I totally get everything that you just wrote about. There used to be a very wise and wonderful woman in my Al Anon group. Unfortunately, she moved to Florida, but she once told me how she began to deal with that very situation and so now when I am presented with questions from the Son, I try to do as Shirley did. The first thing she would do is ask her child or husband ( both addicts) what ideas they had about how to handle the situation. She would try to draw out more info by asking if why that didn't think that a particular thing would or wouldn't work. She might remind them that they had some really good ideas. Then she'd do what we do in Al Anon by sharing a similar experience, strength and hope without telling them what to do. That way they still came to her and shared but they got some validation and perhaps some confidence about their own ideas. It works for me. I just need to slow down long enough to remember. Instead of looking at it in terms of being there for or not, think about being there for her in a way that shows you value her ideas and one that allows her to assume responsibilities as an adult. You got to start somewhere.....right? Prayers. Hard to switch gears. Also it's like using your faith and saying I know she can. Just an idea.

SoberMomWrites said...

Oh holy cow I so get this! I've been wondering how much of my grown sons' lives I should know, where the boundaries lie, and how much I should/should not be doing for them. I want to be close (which we are) but now that one is living on campus and...gasp...drinking, I'm not sure I want to hear the hangover stories. Kind of like how I don't want to hear about their sex lives. It's just TMI.

Like you said, it's a lot of work figuring out new ways to relate to one another AND break old, ingrained, learned behavior.

Great post my friend...