I’m filled with negative emotion. I think it’s anger but I’m not 100% sure. There’s a good amount of resentment, guilt, shame and fear in there too.
The source of all these emotions?
After her play therapy session last week, the therapist sat us both down to talk. It seems “the mess” is making it “hard for her to think”.
“The mess,” it transpires is her little brother and me. His screaming, spitting and hitting are, admittedly, getting a bit much for all so I get that one. He’s also three months into toilet training and still won’t poo on the toilet so yes, literal mess on that one. My handling of him is how I’m contributing to “the mess”. In exasperation, I’ve been shouting and storming off a fair amount. My 66 days of meditation experiment clearly hasn’t healed all – though I have 42 days left so I’m not losing hope yet.
It seems she has also expressed to the therapist that she “parents” Mini. In our feedback session, the therapist looks pointedly at me and says “so mum will look after Mini because it’s not your job, is it?”
This was the trigger. I was livid. How DARE she?
When Maxi ‘parent’s Mini, she instigates it. She gets in my way, undermines me and infuriates me. I try to be understanding because her early years in her birth home made those behaviours natural for her. She’s particularly prone to do it when she feels things are running out of control. She does it as a means of seeking approval and as a means of restoring order.
I thought I was handling things fairly well but clearly not and the sense of failure despite massive effort was too much for me. The interaction with the therapist triggered feelings I haven’t experienced since childhood – a brutal sense of unfairness that no matter what I do or how hard I try, nothing will ever be good enough. Nothing will ever work.
Last week, I wrote about how uncovering these feelings was a great first step. I was pleased to have experienced them and took the experience as a great sign of moving forwards in my efforts to grow my understanding of my emotions and the emotions of others.
However, all I’ve done since then is behave like a petulant child. I’ve allowed those emotions to give me licence to give up. Why? Because it was SO MUCH EASIER.
Overcoming a perceived slight takes work. It requires you to accept the injustice and take responsibility for the improvement. It’s not something I did as a child and having childhood feelings triggered made me behave in similar ways to when I was young.
But I’m a parent now. An adoptive parent – which means the bond is not biological and is never something that can be taken for granted. Not that it should be taken for granted in any family but in our family, it’s something that takes conscious work and effort.
When Maxi and I get disconnected because of events like this, a chasm appears, so wide I wonder whether we’ll ever find our way back. I feel as though her birth mother occupies that space and I wonder how often she sits, thinking “I wish I was with my old mum.”
The best way for us to find our way back to each other is to play but, for me, that comes with a good deal of anxiety. Her play style is usually either detached or hysterical and I find it stressful.
This week, I didn’t feel like going through it and, of course, it’s half term so there are full days to fill, not just a couple of hours in the afternoon. None of us is having a great time right now.
It’s time to practice what I preach. It’s time to do the work. These emotions and this experience have been incredibly valuable in showing me a pattern I have lived multiple times over during my life. I gave up and forgave myself my bad behaviour when I felt wronged in some way but this time, I am the parent. I am the parent to two children who haven’t had people show them what it means to be a good one.
It’s time to do the work.