My daughter says she hates me, and I don’t blame her. She said that because of her birth parents, she’s scared that something bad is going to happen. Her top three fears are that I’ll do drugs, get divorced, or beat her. I’m always impressed at her self-awareness and her ability to articulate her feelings when we talk about these things. She said she knows these fears are irrational (my word) and that she just hates me in advance, in case any of this happens. Essentially, she’s telling me what I already knew: She has Reactive Attachment Disorder.
What really broke my heart is to hear her say she doesn’t think I like her or love her, and she thinks she’s a bad kid. She says she acts out because she already thinks she’s bad. And I can’t blame her for that either, not completely. In my weakness as a mother, and my frailty as a human being, and under the unbelievable chronic stress of three Reactive Attachment disordered kids, I don’t like her all the time. I can say I love her all the time, if I use M. Scott Peck’s definition that love is the willingness to extend oneself for another person’s well-being. but I don’t act lovingly toward her all the time. In fact, I can be downright short, impatient, and harsh. My mom used to tell me that I was Captain von Trapp without the whistle.
The funny thing is, I’m just as scared of her doing something “bad” to me, like going back to her birth mom. I’m afraid she doesn’t like me or love me. I think I’m a bad mom, and I act out with her in unkindness because I feel like I’ve already lost so why try? I don’t want to get close to her because I’m afraid she’ll hurt me.
So here we are, my daughter and I, each bringing out the worst in each other, each scared of getting hurt and taking it out on each other. The good thing is that we can talk about it. We just had our first “heart-chat” where we talked about all of this. We decided to have a couple of heart-chats a week, where we go somewhere quiet and just talk about how we’re feeling. I’ve always liked her best when we talk one-on-one about real things. It’s the only time I find her to be real, and she is at her best when we talk like this. I’m probably at my best.
I told her I always go back to faith in Heavenly Father, that he put us together for a reason. It’s easy to pick friends you like that are like you. We agreed that she’s a butterfly and I’m a tiger. We wouldn’t be friends if we knew each other at school, but here we are in the same family. So we make each other uncomfortable, but that’s probably on purpose to help us grow. There’s something to be said for being equally yoked in being our worst together, but still being there with each other, still hoping for better and willing to put in the work to get there.
Photo: Donna V.