I have given this a lot of thought (I based a multiple prize-winning book on this concept) and also read, and re-read your comments.
A few things, in the FWIW column. First, I have a friend in her 70s who, last Christmas, was telling me about how broken-hearted she was because her daughter, one of two kids, takes after her dad. This means she’s critical, judgmental, and tends to go after her mother. Her mom, my best friend, spent all her adult years being VERY close to her mother and had many hopes of being close to her own daughter. The son is an absolute prince, the daughter, a princess in a less-than-attractive way. However, and this is what always gives me hope: last year, to the genuine disappointment of all of us, the daughter and her husband split. This year, they divorced. When I last spoke to my friend, this same daughter, who isn’t accustomed to failure, has spent a great deal of time with her mother, sharing things they’ve never shared. As you can well imagine, my friend is torn between being deeply grateful and sad, but above all, she’s got a relationship with her daughter now. This does not mean by any stretch that this will happen for you, but just last Christmas my buddy had all but given up on any chance of this happening.
My point is that we don’t know what we don’t know. And it’s remarkable how life events can shift people in varying ways.
The other piece that comes up for me is that people-no matter who they are- have to evolve, as you say, mature enough to face their own demons. Vast numbers of folks never get there. As another Medium.com writer said quite accurately those who get addicted stop maturing, stop growing up. They stay at the age where they began the addiction. While he was referring to substance abuse, I would expand that a bit and point out that-and again to your point-that the addiction to being right about how the mess in their lives is someone else’s fault is just as stunting as substance abuse. Once that position gets laid in stone, it takes a massive life event to blast someone out of the concrete they buried themselves in.
It’s our job, like it or not, and this is the tough part, is to embrace those circumstances that we draw to ourselves. This is a bitch. It sucks. But we do that. And in the process of owning that those circumstances are ours, then we can choose how to feel, what to do about it (as in, build a loving network of friends, for example) and own our own results. That’s emotional maturity. Those who bank on victimhood live horrific lives, but that’s what they choose. Owning our shit is immensely powerful. Victimhood sucks the lifeblood out of our own veins and of those around us.
Sometimes when the shit hits the fan, or I have lost someone I love, or I’ve had to face down a situation that is brutally difficult, I grill myself on this. You drew it to yourself. You chose to experience this. OK? Got that? Now what’s the gift in this? That’s incredibly hard. However on the other side of those questions lies freedom from blame, freedom from excuses, freedom from frustration. We are indeed in charge of how we choose to feel, choose to perceive, choose to live. When we choose that, nobody has power over us. When we blame people, they have complete control over our life quality. It’s like handing over our lives to someone (who usually doesn’t want it) on a platter. Then, when stuff isn’t perfect, by God it’s HER fault. Or DAD’S fault. Or my ex’s fault. Poor pitiful me I have no responsibility here.
Um yah we do. That’s why we were given freedom of choice, and free will. We can choose. Nobody said that building character was going to be easy. That’s why I admire what you’ve done: you set clear boundaries to protect yourself and you surrounded yourself with friends. That’s powerful. AND it sets an example for your kids, although they aren’t ready to see it.
Again this is for what it’s worth. All I know is that when I choose to embrace my circumstances as my own, and that everything is unfolding as it should, and that those things I want may not be what I need, then I can relax a bit. That’s the definition of faith in my book. There are Forces at work here that I have no clue about. I believe we always get what we need. Perhaps not on our time, but on the Universe’s time, for others, it’s on God’s time. Doesn’t matter. What is important is that we tap into the latent courage that we all have to deal with the disappointments that are inevitable, the hurts that leave us wounded, and those familial barbs that sliced us to the bone. All we can do is our level best.
And may I correct you here?You’re not trying. You’re doing. And that makes all the difference. Acknowledgment begins with the person we wake up to see every day in the mirror. That conversation is uber critical- what you say to YOU every single day. You need YOU to provide love, comfort, care, and validation. That’s where it begins. That’s the most sacred relationship we have. There is a spark of the sacred in all of us, and you see it in your face every single day. That cannot be diminished. And in my book, it’s eternal. this is our ulimate journey, to learn to give ourselves what we think we need from others. Then we give that love to others. Those that can, receive and reciprocate. Not all will. That’s the way of it.
Remember to give yourself credit for all the work you’ve done. Your kids have chosen a path. You’ve no control over that at this point. What you can control is how you choose to see your own inherent value whether or not they choose to have a relationship with you. If you’ve got a circle of loving friends, what that tells me is that you’re a loving person. I’d say that’s pretty damned good.