I Wish

There is a part of me that wishes I didn’t have so darned much to offer in this daily email.  I wish my life were smooth as silk and I woke up each morning digging through the reference books for something salient to say that would help you, rather than simply tuning into my own life and drawing from here.  I know this way is more helpful to YOU.  I know it is and that, of course, is why I write it.  I want desperately for my attachment challenged life to have meaning beyond itself…that is the “why” I write this for me.

So many times I have listened to parents lamenting the relentless disappointment that comes with the two step forward, one (or three) step back way our children have of learning. It is so bewildering and yet so much “how it is.”

This week I had such a wonderful all-nighter talk-a-thon with my 17-year-old son that I felt my heart fill with renewed energy and soar.  I know many of your hearts soared with me.   And, I am pleased by that.

Yesterday, “three steps back” arrived in the form of my T-Mobile phone bill.  I discovered $80.00 in gaming money surreptitiously charged to my phone.  Sure wasn’t me.  To his credit, my son did not lie or deny.  He said he felt ashamed and retreated under his bed covers.  Unfortunately, his dysregulation was great, so he skipped his chores, failed to keep a promise, and broke a house rule that day.  When I got home from work last night, he was still under the covers.

An hour later he appeared in my doorway whispering, “I’m sorry.”

Wait for it…

Emotionlessly, “Saying I am sorry won’t fix all of this this time.”

Back under the covers for another day, no doubt.  What in the world would prevent me from saying, “Thank you for the apology honey; let’s talk about it”?   Answer: painful disappointment.

Life is so delicious.  The highs and the lows make it worth living though.  I am still learning to be loving in the face of my own dysregulating emotions.  Upside: I didn’t yell or scold or punish.  I did, in the end, reject him, which shamed and caused his internalized self-hatred to spike through the roof.

Did I really need to do that to him?  Didn’t he punish himself enough already? Wasn’t my own disappointment enough?  Did I really need to rub it in, push away, incur abandonment panic in both directions?

I hope there is something in this tale for YOU.  There is nothing wrong with being accepting when your child has disappointed YOU.  It is okay; it is beautiful; it is forgiving; it is big-hearted; it is the definition love.  And love matters.

Love Matters,
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Ce Eshelman, LMFT

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