Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Watching in Silence and Self-Doubt

Back in the day.... back when I was younger, had more energy, and was incredibly naive, I had a lot of faith in my interpersonal skills. I believed that there was nobody who I couldn't connect with -- that I could reconcile relationships and work through anything with any human being out there. But in the last few years I have met several people (not my children -- but people they know) who simply will not and cannot see life from another point of view. I have tried to communicate with them to no avail. It is possible that having one of my children in the middle of our relationships, skewing their thinking with attachment disordered accusations and manipulative lies, has made it more difficult, but part of it is just who they are... both my kids and the people they play.

Having been so out of energy the last few weeks I haven't been able to even think about a lot of the things going on in our family. I go from day to day on auto-pilot, barely able to focus on the few tasks that I must do in order to keep up with my work life and leaving most of the parenting in Bart's capable hands. So the stress of watching in silence and the shadows of self-doubt haven't been there.

But this morning I woke up an hour earlier than planned feeling fairly rested and started to stew. A few of the situations in my kids' lives kept coming to my mind and I realized that the greatest amount of stress is in the form of NOT speaking my mind.

I went round and around in my head about a couple emails that I want to write, but when I got to the end I realized that they would not do any good whatsoever. They would simply make things worse or at best do NOTHING at all. And I have learned not to invest emotional energy or time into something that isn't going to make a difference.

And so I ended wondering if maybe the hardest thing about the transition to adulthood for my kids is just watching in silence as they make huge irreversible mistakes. Warning them does no good -- I've been trying to teach them and show them the way for years. Reasoning with them doesn't work either. Sometimes even their own bad experiences don't help them learn.

I'm not intending to be negative here, just trying to process my own thoughts. Which is better? To express myself and be ignored or to keep my mouth shut? The results are the same, but which is better for me?

Bart and I were talking last night about the shame involved when adult children make poor choices that are dishonoring to us -- not just moral choices, but the things they say about us. It's very hard to pour your life into someone who not only rejects you (hopefully temporarily) but walks away with negative things to say about you as a person.

Another very difficult thing for me to get used to is self-doubt. It's not something I'm accustomed to or comfortable with. I have spent my life a very secure person, confident that I am doing the right thing and was always a person who lived without regrets.

But now, watching our kids enter adulthood, I have tons of self-doubt. What if I would have handled things differently? Is it my fault -- my parenting style -- that pushed them away? What if we would have had the tools that are now available and had practiced them -- would things be better for them and for us now?

Don't worry -- I'm not despairing ... or regretting our choices. I still know that our kids are better off than they would have been without us. I know that I did my best. But the "what ifs" sometimes plague me (when I have enough energy to let them. ;-) Had I known then what I know now about brain trauma and attachment and FASD, would my kids lives be different? But I didn't and there is no way to know for sure. So I hum along with Lonestar....
I try not to think about what might have been
'Cause that was then and we have taken different roads
We can't go back again there's no use giving in
And there's no way to know what might have been

Would love to hear your thoughts as to what you have found is best: Does it work best not to invest emotional energy in repeating yourself to someone who refuses to get it -- or to not invest emotional energy in keeping your mouth shut.

But even though I have all this to grapple with, I still love my kids fiercely and am convinced that, even with everything that has happened, I would have been lest satisfied with an "ordinary life."


Barb said...

Oh.My.Gosh. This is exactly how I am feeling today. I have to go to court with the one that has rejected us. And it is so hard to not say anything that will only set him off or to get sucked into the drama that he creates. But I will go. And I will distance myself in the hope that I will be able to return home without any more doubt than I already feel.

AnnMarie said...

I think there's a 3rd option (or more): Say it, but say it to someone else. Or write it in a letter/blog post/email that you never send or post (or send to someone else who won't talk about it). These can get it off your chest and you feel you've been heard by someone.

FosterAbba said...

I think, overall, it's better to disengage and not waste your emotional energy on trying to make kids listen when they simply won't get it. You posed a great question, and I blogged about it myself.

Angela said...

Made me think about God and mankind
Guess God doesn't self doubt but must know how much better life could be for us if we accepted his help

Lisa said...

I agree with AnnMarie on that point. It makes me even more frustrated when I pour my heart out to someone - letting myself be completely open and vulnerable about my feelings regarding a situation, only to have them ignore me or worse yet, mock my efforts. I tended to obsess on the "what ifs" until recently. I was so angry that the services I believed would have helped a few of my kids do not exist in our city/state. I was just furious that all of my efforts were in vain. Then I realized that in our particular case, my son was actively unwilling to participate in any type of therapy we provided. He was more than content to sabotage any and all attempts we made to make his life better, and ultimately, we had no control over what he takes out of his years with us. We were doing all the work, he was sitting back being miserable. You do what you can do and hope that life teaches them what they refused to learn from you - and that you both survive it.

DynamicDuo said...

For us the hardest part was remembering it's not about us. Its about them. Choosing to be a parent means you have to step aside from your individual needs/wants your kids come first. Its hard, frustrating, hurtful and somedays simply insane. I don't know that we could have made it this far doing it any differently.
In the end our kids will do as they will with what they have learned and absorbed, each will take what they have and use it their own way. We won't approve, or agree, at some point we have to acknowledge that they will do as they choose and there is little if anything we can do about it.