Transference

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung

My son hurt my feelings last weekend. Deeply.

It’s the first time he has.  During and following the event that lead up to it, I sat in my car, parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot and cried.I was due home but my emotions were running so high, the tears welling up at a furious pace, I felt it unwise to drive. And so I sat and cried and thought about my son, my own childhood, angsty teenage years and more.

I wont go into much detail about the event. I will say that it occurred after my son had spent a week away with his father and brother. He was due to return home to our house the evening this happened and was being difficult about coming home. He wanted to stay longer with his father and his father’s girlfriend. I refused. I missed him. I had dinner and evening plans for him and his brother and I wanted him home (never mind the fact it was technically my custody time).

Situations like this probably happen all the time with divorced and blended families. Transitions are hard for the children particularly a transition that comes at end of a fun vacation.  I was taught all about this in the state mandated parenting education class I attended prior to divorce.  My son was not expressing anything extraordinary.

And yet, for me, it was slaying, crippling really.

For something interfered on the phone line while we were talking. Some filter got placed in between my ears and his mouth. When he uttered he did not want to come home what I heard, again, LOUDLY, was another one of my children not wanting to be with me. I felt his fathers words and influence much like I felt that of my daughters adoptive parent who kept my letters to her hidden from her. Someone was keeping my child from me. My child wanted to be with someone else. My child did not want to come home

I wanted to make it about him, his actions. I wanted to understand his feelings and be supportive, understanding and yet still authoritative. And the entire time I was trying to calmly explain to him why he had to come home, something inside me was clawing at my heart. I felt as if some evil being had reached into my intestines, twisted, yanked and pulled them outside my body. Doubled over due to the pain in my stomach, I leaned my head on the steering wheel and cried.

The sound of his voice faded, my heart ached and I had trouble separating out the words and actions of my first-born child, my daughter, from my first parented child, my son.  The confusion, the soul noise, was deafening and all-consuming. My daughters father’s voice ran through my head from days gone by. “You are punishing me for another mans crimes”. In that moment, daughters father was suggesting that I was being difficult with hm when I really wanted to be difficult with my father.  Twenty four years later, the cycle is at risk of repeating itself. Will I punish one child for the crimes committed against my heart by another child? It was all too much to bear.

And all I could do was cry.

My daughter doesn’t want to know me and my son doesn’t want to come home. Vastly different circumstances yet for me, at that time, it FELT THE SAME.

And it emotionally crippled me.

I sat in the parking lot for almost a half an hour.  During that time it occurred to me (thank goodness) that I could very easily be doubly hurt by son and that was unfair to him. I was at risk, in my opinion, for transference.  I thought about the possibility that sons word triggered not only feelings for him, but feelings for his sister. I felt that his words towards me hurt me but also, in his words, riding in on a few of the consonants he uttered were his sisters words as well.

I could not separate the two.

Thankfully I realized this then, and now, for it is incredibly unfair to my son.  My son is entitled to be angry about his parents divorce, about the transitions, about having to leave  his father and come home to his mother. I get that.

What I don’t get? What I am struggling with?

How do I separate these two children? These circumstances, these similar, yet not, situations? How do I insure that my sons never have to pay for the “crimes” of their sister? How do I fortify myself so that I never feel the need and I am always able to separate my children and see each one as the unique individual he or she is – for both their good and their bad qualities?

This has shaken me. It has shed light onto another part of my wounded soul that I had never seen. I don’t like what I see.

I have since called my therapist.

A Tearful Thank You All

I cannot thank all the commentors on this post enough. It feels good to be understood and validated and loved by both mothers, adoptees and even virtual strangers to me.

I cry as I write this post but for different reasons.

I want to assure all of you that have suggested that it is not me but adoption that I agree with you.  I have for quite some time.  My daughter has chosen not to know ME therefore she cannot reject ME. She has rejected an image, an apparition, a belief system associated with me. She has not rejected ME.

I have known this for several years. I thank my reading and therapy and friends like you for this awareness.

Early in reunion, for a brief period, her rejection of me very much slayed me. It cut to the core of who I was as a person never mind as her mother. It triggered memories of being cast out by my family, of being abandoned and left by her father, of being lied to by the agency. Years ago, it was very difficult to separate me from her and her from adoption and me from adoption. My own self was very unclear.  When she rejected “me”, she unknowingly rejected that 17 year old mother pregnant with her just like everyone else had (including myself, for I had also rejected me). And my trauma, my experience was given the emotional oxegyn it needed to breathe again. And I stumbled, and flailed, trying to separate me now from me then. And I made mistakes. And my marriage was damaged. And I was divorced. And I cried alot (though I cry more these days). And I was confused and angst ridden and I kept it all inside and pretended on the outside that I was okay. I let it eat me alive. I let it tear at my self esteem. I was reliving that trauma all over again only now my daughter was the perpetrator, if even unaware and intended. This time SHE told me I was not worthy to be her mother. This time SHE told me I was a slut and a whore that was not marriage material and that her uber parents were so much better so I should just fuck off and die.  And I almost did. It hurt. It hurt ME.

It doesnt anymore. Not ME.  These days the me inside me is aware that I am a good person, a loving person, a person that could have been an amazing mother had she been given the chance.  How do I know this? Becuase I am this today.  I have two boys that I parent who do need me, who are permitted to love me, who dont have the luxury of two mothers who love them as my daughter does.  I see my mothering ability in their successes, in their smiles, in their honor student grades, in their gentle sibling chiding of each other. I see it in the gifts they get me and the hand made cards they make for me. I hear it in my oldest sons voice when he prods me why I am quiet. I hear it in their deep belly laughter. I also have a partner now that pretty much worships me. I don’t mean that in a conceited or arrogant way. He might not. But I FEEL worshiped. And that counts. Hugely.

He regularly, openly, freely, tells me of all the good things in me, he tells me what a good mother I am, he tells me how amazed he is by me, my heart, my logic, my mind, my love, my ever changing hair colors and over abundance of expensive handbags, and jewelry and accessories. He gets me. Life is good. It is good to be “gotten”.

I am confident I am not this way due to losing her. I am the same person I was at 17 – at the core. I am a decent, honorable, honest person. I work hard at a very good paying job just like I did when I was 17 and working full time and attending school full time. I care for children well not because I was caring for them since I was twelve years old (three for that matter). I am not drug or alcohol addicted. Seriously, the worst thing I can say about myself is that I am overweight.

I could have been a good mother to her. I just figured this out and believed it way too late.

What her behavior does do it make me deeply sad. As one of her mothers, all I want is to know she is alive and well. I want to converse. I want to hear her laugh. I want to hear of her rewards and recognitions in life. I want to compliment on her photography and tell her the latest shade of red she has chosen for her hair is abfab. I don’t want her to call me Mommy and I don’t want to shower her with 24 years of gifts. I don’t want to discredit her parents, take away her adoptive mothers status as her mother, yet she wants to do that to me. She doesn’t seem to understand that by erasing me she also erases her adoptive mother, the woman who is only a mother BECAUSE OF ME. I just want to be acknowledged that I exist and be treated with respect as a person –  not her mother.

And maybe therein lies the rub. I am her mother and I am not expecting to be treated as such so why should she?

Its a confusing tangled mess. But I assure you, that me, I, at the core, am going to be okay. And I have many of you to thank for that.

Much love.

Suz

Paper Cuts on My Heart

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”  ~Ansel Adams

Did you have a nice Christmas holiday?

Mine was okay. Not good. Not bad but this is the usual with me. The ambivalence comes from the frenetic nature of it all and that I am easily overstimulated which turns into irritability as I fail at my attempts to handle the frenzy.

My fiance overindulged me with many lovely gifts. He presented me with new pandora beads, my tiffany perfume, candles, mugs, necklaces from Brighton (actually from my sons but purchased by my fiance). It was very touching to me. Its been years since someone bought me so many gifts and particularly such thoughtful ones. The best gift he gave me this year is without question himself, our love, our engagement. He makes my world a better place.

My sons were relatively pleased with their Santa stash with my oldest sons ipod touch being the biggest hit. Our family time was limited due to having to get my sons from their father (divorce and shared custody wreaks havoc with holidays), spend a few hours with my extended family and then drive an hour back home to celebrate with my fiances sons (see previous note on divorce and custody). Crazed. Good but crazed. And mostly good.

I took lots of pictures as I always do. I am the family photographer/historian. I enjoy it. For the most part.

"All" The Grankids

The picture to the left (click to make larger)  kills me every year. My mother will scream above the crowd. Beckoning to all (?) her grandchildren to line up for the yearly photo op and then she will call for me.

And I will go, dutifully, even somewhat gleefully and take the photo of most of the grandchildren.

One is always missing.

This is never lost on me and for seconds, sometimes minutes, I must pause and collect myself. For taking a picture of all the grandkids minus one slices a paper cut  in my heart. I will wince quietly, gasp for air, and shoot away.

One is always missing.

(Photo has been blurred to protect the privacy of the individuals. The goofy looking visible one is my youngest son. Cameras to him equal the best time to make to most peculiar face possible).