I feel as though if I pay attention, the Universe sets tests in front of me as soon as I begin working on any sort of self improvement.
I’m someone who gets caught up in herself and her own superiority when left unchecked. I’d like to believe that as soon as I identify an area of improvement, then I’ve probably already kicked it. The Universe (thanks Ophelia for the term I use to describe “the Great Good Big Thing” which moves things in my world) keeps me humble when I most need it.
Yesterday I passed a test. yay!
My daughter’s father arrived to drop her off. Showing up with them unexpectedly was his long-term girlfriend and her daughter, same age as mine. He took off to chat with one of The Uncles (I’m living with them till we find a new place to live), the girls ran off to play with the horse and goats…squealing the whole way. I was left facing her. Sigh.
I’ve been challenged by this family. Sadly, part of it is my own sense of superiority. I, of course, parent better, clean better, dress better, watch better television programs. (wink!) They’ve been together for years, which is really good. The girls have battled each other fiercely as sisters will do. But let me emphasize FIERCELY. It’s been hard to watch. Both of them were only children till the blended family. Both of them have parents who struggle with living free of addictions. I have tried to deal the best I can with the stories I’ve heard that aren’t AWFUL, just…. not up to my standards.
It was with relief that a little over a year ago my daughter’s father told me they weren’t dating anymore, and were living separately. Unfortunately, it had to do with her continuing battle with addiction, and their joint decision about what was best for the girls. She took herself off to get well, her daughter went to live with relatives, and my little girl and her dad moved to Portland.
I was bummed that she was having such a hard time, but the unloving side of me was grateful. If this is what it takes to get my daughter out of the environment I didn’t like, then I was grateful for however it happened. I embraced the change in their status too quickly. I stopped sending duplicate gifts and cards to both girls immediately, and just communicated with my own. I stopped asking about how they were doing. Thinking back, I realize just how mean that was. Whatever I think of the other half of that family, my girl thinks they are “another mom” and “sister.” It was mean to disrespect my daughter in that way.
Like I said in my previous post, I chose Portland for its size. I also wanted to be on the West Coast, and in the Pacific Northwest. San Fran and Seattle are too big, Portland works. My daughter’s father graduated from Humboldt State University last spring. He thought if I was going to move to Portland when I graduated, then he would move there too. He needed to live in a bigger town to have better chances for employment anyway. I am really thrilled that we are all together in the same place again. I can’t stand being this close to him, but I’m getting better about it. But since we are forced to share our wonderful daughter with each other, it does make it much easier to live close to each other.
(whoo. this is getting long. I guess a story has to be longer when a potential reader has no idea about any of the background)
Six months ago, he told me with excitement about how she and her daughter are moving to Portland too! By this time, they were completely out of my mind. I blew up at him. Attacked him, attacked their relationship, just fumed and told him he wasn’t thinking of our daughter’s best interests. And he said basically, they are a family, they love each other, they are trying to work through their challenges, and I had better get used to it.
Oh. good answer. I guess it really isn’t up to me, eh?
So… I’ve been working on a shift in perception. She is a really really sweet person. Beautiful and caring (she’s a nurse). I personally have never never had substance abuse issues. I’m too much of a control freak to ever let chemicals invade my person too much so that my brain can’t be in charge. I recently “quit” smoking because I had gone from one cigarette a day to two a day, and I felt like it was become entirely too excessive. So anyway, I don’t get people who DO have substance issues. I just do not understand it. It scares the bejeebers out of me, and as soon as I discover someone is using… my gut reaction is to high-tail it far, far away as quickly as possible. (which is why I’m no longer married to him)
So how can I be loving and accepting of one who scares me so much? I don’t know her. We’ve barely spoken. We give friendly greetings and hugs and light banter whenever the situation calls for it, but it has not been enough for me to relax about her.
Well…anyhow, the girls collected eggs from the chickens, the guys eventually wandered back, and she and I wrapped up the conversation we had been having for nearly 40 minutes. It’s probably the most I’ve ever talked with her. We mostly talked about our girls. I noticed a couple of times how she stated an opinion, and then -almost imperceptibly- glanced at me for fear of what my reaction would be. Shit. She’s scared of me too. What the heck is that all about?
My girl stayed by my side with giant hugs and kisses (don’t you just LOVE that? 🙂 ), and the rest of them began heading for the car. I told her it was good to see her, and before I knew what I was saying, I blurted out: “I’m really glad you’ll be moving to Portland.” As I was saying it, one of my committee members (my committee is the group of personalities who live in my head giving unsolicited advice) began scolding me and told me not to say anything that wasn’t true. So I double-checked the sincerity factor. Yes, I really did mean it! And I finished the sentence.
It would be good to have her here. My girl feels such a loss without her sister, and her dad feels incomplete without his girlfriend. I can’t believe it! I wasn’t even paying attention and I’ve been changing my perspective all this time. Whew!
My path to higher consciousness began only about 8 years ago. It was approximately 1999, maybe 2000 before I pulled out my dark, medieval world and began to grow. (remember Ophelia?) What a relief to discover that this stuff does get easier to do with time and tenacity.
Comment from the old blog:
Oh my gosh, what a wonderful post my friend! We so need more parents talking about bringing consciousness into family dynamics, to support each other in the process. It’s where the funkiest, ugliest fears in our lives come out to play but it’s usually relegated to the sidelines in public discussion.
And I love getting a deeper peak into your current world and process. I hope you keep blogging, at least occasionally. : )