Letting Go

12 Jan

Three years could be added to my life span if I added up the hours and words spent listening and getting involved with my daughter’s dramas; reminding her that her choices stem from the sexual abuse, that she doesn’t deserve abuse; that counseling could help her heal; that possibilities await her that don’t include prison, jail, poverty, physical and mental abuse, victimization, crisis and just surviving. My heart bleeds each time I hear about incidents of psychical abuse or mental abuse or her belongings lost, thrown out, broken, or set on a porch in black plastic bags by an abuser. Then, the rush to save her rises up in me quickly.

Kristie does what she knows best—surviving. Creating drama and crisis is comfortable, safe, familiar and she trust it and knows how to navigate this land. It fuels her, makes her feel alive, gives her energy, raises adrenaline, feeds the victim role, heightens feelings and provides a distraction from her buried pain.

My head knows better. I’ve traveled down this hopeless road, chalking up hundred of miles, yet, my heart rush up to overrule my head. For many years I’ve learned about setting boundaries and letting go of the outcome; how to resist getting hooked into her crisis and drama. Progress comes in tiny increments. I learned to recognize what pulls me in, when the hook is big and bad, embedding itself deeper into my fear, and reels me in. Maybe it’s a situation scarier than anything I’ve heard or a situation that breaks my heart again or a situation that reeks of imminent danger or taps into a secret place of guilt. Maybe I’ve had a hard day or maybe I’m tired or maybe I’m missing her or maybe I believe something I say can make a difference this time. The right circumstances and I’m racing toward the cliff and diving off head first.

The conversation starts with something disarming, “Hi Mom, whatcha doing?” I reply. Swiftly, the topic changes and I’m caught in an avalanche, caught in its grip, headed downhill at an alarming speed.

My hope is to recognize the signs before I get hooked or in the middle of getting hooked or right afterwards; anything that will scream DANGER before I’m sucked in. The signs I’m hooked are my neck muscles feel like rocks, a searing headache develops, my heart is racing, my fear is escalating, agitation envelops me and a big red flashing sign says hang up. Do I? No! Then I switch to scrambling for ideas on how to fix it. I search for anything I can say that will change the situation—get her to call the police on an abuser, get her to leave this psycho guy, take action to protect herself. I repeat the familiar mantra hoping to get her to take one step to help herself. It’s my choice to engage or distance myself from the drama.

How do I know when I’ve allowed myself to get hooked? I hang up and feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. I want to call someone and recount the horror. I pace, I pick up, I chew my nails, I’m terrified, I can’t sleep, I rage, I repeat the scene over and over in my head. I feel hopeless, discouraged and scared.

When the awareness hits me that she didn’t take one step to help herself and I want therapy and change for her more than she wants it for herself—I got hooked. Maybe, two days later (or more) after nightmares, headaches, obsessing, stressing, the ah hah moment strikes—snap. Oh yes, I got hooked. Duh! How in the heck did that happen, again? I thought I was doing so much better. I was. But, I’m not perfect at it. Will I ever be? There’s always hope. Until then, I remind myself about the triggers and live with my imperfections. I’m hard on myself because I’m aware of the red flags and then, whammy, I let myself get hooked again. In those instances, I don’t beat up and already bruised soul. I’m gentle to myself, I embrace myself, I’m kind to myself, I honor my efforts and, most importantly, I forgive myself. When your child has been incested and you witness ways it’s damaged her, it’s just so darn hard.

I’ve rehearsed and said “Kristie I don’t want to talk about fill in a name. I feel powerless to help you. There’s nothing I can do. What do you want to do? I know you’ll figure it out when you’re ready.” Sometimes I change the subject to something she enjoys or loves, like movies, sometimes achieving successful. In those instances I feel I’ve claimed my power. The flip side is the guilt, hopelessness, sadness set in as well.

How to let go and set boundaries? Not simple. Each step has been hard won. I tried taking a giant step and failed. I resorted to baby steps and practice, practice, practice. Drama queens in all walks of life provide opportunities to hone your skills.

I have no idea where it ends for me. Kristie continually reminds me I’m powerless over the outcome and I remind myself. I strive to get better at letting go. I can’t save her from abuse, pain or maybe even death. How do you live with that? I don’t know. No matter what I do, it’s difficult, painful, agonizing, stressful, sad, and breaks my heart. For me, I have to walk through those feelings and trust that in a day, week or month, I will come out the other side stronger, that a part of me healed and then reclaim my power with her. Most importantly, I remember that I couldn’t have changed the outcome regardless of what I said or did. An ample number of psycho dudes are out there along with an endless pool of dramas to create.

I remember to be proud of myself, complement myself, love myself, appreciate myself, recognize how hard it is and that I’m doing the best I can do. I’m always grateful that I didn’t let myself drown with her.

One day I know that she will choose to help herself. My dream for her is out there.

Loving Kristie comes easy. It’s the rest that hard.