I'm not in contact with my estranged daughter. Or maybe better said, she's not in contact with me. I do reach out occasionally. She doesn't respond.
The other day something came up that had to be addressed. Fortunately, she did reply.
It wasn't easy.
There's a lot of hurt.
There are a lot of things I want to say. I want the old her back. My mind tells me that she's in there somewhere. That if I can find the "right" words to say, I'll be able to tap into that part of her.
I want to try and convince her. I want to control the situation. My mind tells me that having her back means I'll feel better, my family will be whole again.
I want to tell her how hurt I am: "What she's done." As though she should feel my pain. And have compassion, maybe even a change of heart.
Of course intellectually I know that's not the way this works. Nothing I say will bring my daughter back. She has to decide, on her own, that she wants a relationship.
We know this is true because we've probably all been in situations that someone else tried to control. Or have had the experience of someone trying to manipulate us. It doesn't feel great. Coercion doesn't contribute to a mutually respectful and loving relationship.
I do have hope for a healthy relationship with my daughter someday. I don't know if it's possible or if she will ever share that desire.
Either way, my job is to become the person I want to be. Not just in words, but in practice.
As I texted back and forth with my daughter, I had thoughts, some of which weren't great, about what was being said. I'd write a frenzied reply and then with better judgement, delete.
I took a step back and thought about who I want to be in this situation - as a person, as her mom.
The truth is, I don't want to be a reactive person. Even though some part of my brain thinks it will make me feel better, and maybe it would give me a temporary release, I don't want to put my pain on my daughter. I love her. I don't want to be a mom who shames her.
I want to be steady. Calm. Not overly dramatic or self-righteous. I want to be relaxed. Strong.
I want to show all my kids, and myself, that I've got this. That I know and accept that my hurt is mine to deal with. My mind is mine to manage.
Easy to say, right? In moments when all the feelings come up, much harder to do. To see straight. And that's why it's important to pre-plan.
Choose and commit to your guiding principles.
Ask yourself who you want to be. How you want to show up. Not just with your estranged young adult, with whom you may not have contact, but in all relationships. And with your estranged child, should something change or come up.
Practice. I can say I want to be steady and reliable, but without practice and reminders, we forget, we don't follow through.
On some level it would have been satisfying to give in and react the other day. To take the bait my mind was offering to temporarily feel better by telling her how offended and hurt I am.
And had I listened, I'm sure I'd be agonizing over it today. And knowing me, I'd still be thinking about it tomorrow, next week, next month!
Instead, I can let it be.
I represented myself in a way that I'm proud of. Not perfectly, but I believe to be calm and fair.
I didn't try to change anything. I felt acceptance. I saw progress. Today, I'm at peace.
Live forward being who you choose to be, moms.
Want help figuring out exactly who you do want to be in this? It's not always as straight-forward as it sounds, and I'm here to help. I offer a free session to get you started - let's talk!