Things have been a little rough for my girl lately. She’s 13 and as if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s been having a hard time with someone very important in her life. I’ve watched her struggle for a year or more with how to deal with it. I’ve listened to her express sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, and hope. I’ve seen the result of her efforts backfire, and I’ve witnessed her making hard choices.
Because it’s a situation in which I can’t totally intervene, I’ve tried to give her the tools to deal with it. I’ve suggested ways to approach the problem, encouraged her to set boundaries and ask for what she wants. I tried to offer ways she might handle the potential reaction of the individual.
But neither of us expected the response she got. And then I watched my little girl cry, heartbroken that someone she adores appeared to be turning his back on her.
What an age to learn that lesson. To learn that the people we love are sometimes incapable of loving us back in the way we need. To learn that someone you thought you could count on can’t actually be counted on. To learn that expectations are a heartbreaking thing to have.
It’s painful to watch your child learn life’s hard lessons, isn’t it? But I gotta say, I am incredibly proud of my girl and how she handled herself. She expressed herself articulately, she asked for what she needed, and she offered a possible solution to the problem. She avoided speaking in absolutes, and she tried to “meet halfway”, asking for a little time to work things out, together. And I’m sorry to say that the recipient’s response was no where on the scale of empathetic or compassionate, leaving little room for a productive conversation.
My girl has persevered, with lots of talking and encouragement, because I believe this relationship should be saved if at all possible. I don’t want her to look back and regret a rash decision – but she’s been done about 100 times.
I have to admit that one of my fatal flaws is that I give too many chances, I allow for too much, I keep searching for that good I know is there. I keep hoping that thread I’m holding on to will be enough, and that at any minute, the realization will dawn on the object of my hope ~ and they will see! At last, they will realize and the light will get in and we can have a break through and everything will be okay!
And while in this case I am still holding on to hope for her that things can and will get better…well, sometimes you have to let go of people who don’t have the capacity to love. Or, at least they don’t have the capacity to love you.
This is someone who does, indeed, love her. But I need my girl to know that this says nothing about her worth, or rather a lack of it. This is just a person who is operating at capacity – he is loving her the way he is able to. It’s her choice now to accept that or not. And that’s a brutal lesson for a thirteen year old, isn’t it.
Recently, and directly related to this situation, I made the decision to let go of someone who once mattered very much to me. In fact this woman was very important to me and I loved her a lot. But the simplest way to say why I let her go is that she didn’t have room for me in her heart, and that was no longer okay with me. I will always be appreciative for the relationship we once had – or that I thought we had – but our time is done. And that’s okay. When it’s time to let go and you do, it’s an incredible gift to yourself.
Wisdom comes from experience, and when you allow yourself to learn from your past, you get a lot better at walking away from things no longer meant for you. I’ve never been terribly good at this. I sometimes SUCK at it. But the past two years have given me lots of opportunity for practice – and realizing I can actually disengage from toxic people rather than continue to place myself in their path has been freeing. Kind of like this:
I don’t know how my daughter is so wise without the benefit of experience. Then again, plenty of people have a lifetime of experience, yet no wisdom. There have been big lessons for our little family of three in all this, and I am learning as much from them as they are from me. What I do know is that I’m not worried about my kids and who they are becoming. I’m proud of them, I respect them, I believe in them and I trust them to trust themselves.
What I also know is that I am right where I am supposed to be.