Tonight I watched an amazing movie with my 15 year old daughter. The “boys” have left for a Father-Son retreat so we have decided to have a fun mother-daughter night full of lattes, ice cream, Panda Express, and, of course…chick flicks! We watched, among other movies, The Vow, a movie about commitment, marriage, and love. The movie follows a married couple through their courtship and marriage, as well as an accident that erases the wife’s memory of any of their time together. With her only memories dating back to the beginning of college, she finds it too difficult to go back to their old life. Instead, she returns to the last season of life she remembers, trying to rebuild her life and figure out who she is.
It took some time tonight to recognize why I felt sad when it finished. After hugging my daughter goodnight, I spent time in contemplation and realized that tonight I was the woman in the story. While I haven’t been in an accident, I still feel like trauma has erased my memory of who I really am. In many ways, I feel like her, trying to put back the pieces. What was I like before all of this happened? I think I used to be fun and laugh a lot, even though at times I only see fleeting glimpses of that girl. I used to love art and music before my energy level plummeted too low to enjoy such things. I’m pretty sure I could relax and let go of things much easier, too. I used to be (or at least feel) more loving. And I’m pretty sure I did NOT have this much grey hair or this many wrinkles on my face!
Remembering who we are sans children can be so important. While wounded children complicate this matter, we still must provide ourselves with the time and space to remember those things we like to do and who we truly are on the inside. If we center our lives entirely on our children, we lose part of ourselves in the process. For those of us parenting RAD children, we begin to allow THEIR issues to define us and we cease being as effective at pulling them out of their hurt and rage.
Tonight I also realized how far my daughter has come. There was a time when her pathology made it not so fun to be around her. Now I’m beginning to see this amazing young woman who, while she still deals with issues, has come far in her healing process and has become a joy to spend time with. Having a break from our most severe child has been able to give me a little bit of perspective on just how much she has changed and how much I’ve been allowing our most wounded child to create an atmosphere of stress in our house. And I’ve decided that I’m done living in stress and allowing his constant games to drain our families emotional resources.
Time to get back to taking better care of myself so I can get back into the game of helping him heal, rather than letting his hurt and rage control our lives. Boy, I wish this was easier!
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