Many of you look to me for hope and inspiration along your child-rearing journey, and I am such an unlikely repository. Still, I try to carry the light. Can you see? I am standing on my tippee toes holding the torch above my head. I’m holding it high though many times I am standing far below in the shadows. The light can hardly touch me in my own journey.
Projective Identification Is A Thing
The last couple weeks I have been bumbling along the dimly lit path of raising my own adult children from difficult beginnings. Once again, my attempts to help my grown children are being perceived by them as applying unbearable pressure; pressure to be something they are not; pressure to live the way I live. Sometimes I feel side-swiped by projective identification where I am seen as the bad mother who took them against their will, and they experience themselves as unwitting victims of my unreasonable expectations.
Adult Children From Difficult Beginnings
I have struggled with this for the last 3 years in particular, as my children have become adults. My wanting them to finish school; my wanting them to seek work; my wanting them to live in a home; my wanting them to drive safe cars; my wanting them to speak the truth; my wanting them to use my resources to help themselves into independence; all my wanting for them is experienced as stressful and strangely unachievable–the bar is too high. My daughter in anger says, “The more I accept help from you and try to shape my life under your rules the more f***ed my life comes and I will never forgive you….” These words stab at my heart more than any knife she might have wielded. Her way of thinking about me makes my head spin around on my neck. Is she talking about me? Good old codependent mommy, me? And, yes, she surely is.
I tell myself what I often tell you: our children have their own trajectories. No matter how much I try to help, they have their own trajectories. I cannot help them because they want to do it their own way. That way is, in my wizened opinion, the hard way. My children demand they take the hard way no matter how easy I think it could be with my help. Life is just not easy for them. Try as I might, I simply cannot make it otherwise.
Repeat After Me: They Have Trajectories of Their Own
All that is left for me is to accept their decisions. I do not get to help. They require getting the life they want on their own. This is my lesson to learn. They have trajectories of their own. I am scared for them and they have trajectories of their own. Have I repeated that enough so that my own ears can hear? Probably not.
Stay strong, my dear friends, for sometimes the night is long and the horizon seems forever in the distance. Your safety, love, and security are all you really have to offer. Your children have to find their own ways with and sometimes without your help.