How does one wake from a nightmare? Hastily, screaming? Groggy, thrashing under the covers? Sadly, eyes tear wet?
Or slowly, sensing the sun and feeling the fresh air as if for the first time after months of dark hibernation. My heart lifts like a hummingbird seeking the clouds.
We have seen Oooda’s graduation accomplished and the awards she earned from her dedicated focus on being her best. Her job training did give her space, and she grew more certain about the divorce despite Scaramouch’s pestering pleas. Oooda found spiritual sisters around her with whom she focused on Father God, gaining wisdom and companionship. (Don’t we all need such in our lives? Healthy spiritual family rippling out from our birth family? Thank you, Father God!) Now Oooda has headed to phase 2 of her new career training.
As to my conflict, I again strive to become ex-mom, choosing which of her matters to continue to manage, which to return to her and at what pace. Seemingly miraculously, Oooda has repeatedly expressed surprising humility and new maturity about shouldering her responsibility for the debts jointly accrued. While we both realize the unfairness of her singular payoff, it seems the best way to put these to rest so that Oooda can clean up her own financial reputation. She came out with her life, she will never get back the money nor possessions she lost, but she’s young enough to rebuild her financial future and to apply these lessons to her relationship future. May my involvement be ever lessening, present while needed but absent as her strength grows. Thus, she assumes responsibility for swimming without me letting her drown.
I am so proud of her, so grateful to have her back. Honestly, I never thought this would happen this soon or with so relatively little consequence – no ER visits, no arrests, no children born into a chaotic, abusive environment.
Oooda may yet stumble into a shade of Scaramouch. Oooda may yet act out of her ODD. But this experience did not kill her – hopefully, it did make her wiser. And, we (dear readers, you and I) have built this literary monument to the victory of Father God, as per Steps 2 and 3:
2. I believe that God, greater than myself and able to open the eyes of the heart, can restore us both to sanity.
3. I turn her will and her life over to the care of God, who is above all, knows all, loves justice, and practices mercy.
Now again, glowing golds, cool blues, and warm greens of the world capture my vision. Again, the warm breezes brush my shoulders and star jasmine tickles my nose. Finally, I feel sunny singing deep within again.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
… a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)
A time for me to return to the writing and photography that fell into the dark vault of the last few months.
And so, I bid you adieu. I have been blessed by your listening and your responding. May you be blessed in your futures.
Maybe, à demain will replace adieu.
Yes, time passes faster than I post. Since my last bit, much has happened. Long story short, Oooda served Scaramouch divorce papers. They had lived apart for months — she still paying off their debts — Scaramouch still verbally taunting her via text and cell.
Scaramouch seems to have retreated to his former home state.
We had time together, Oooda and daXmom, before she closed up this phase of her life. She guided me around her temporary home city, quite beautiful really, in the drizzly north. I saw the sad, chilly hole she’d had to call residence these last months. She introduced me to her co-workers, the ones who’d pegged Scaramouch and told her the treasure of her worth, counteracting the emotional abuse of Scaramouch (Thank you, Father God, for surrounding her with these people). I met, at her insistence, the attorney she’d chosen to be her advocate (thank You, again).
Yet, whenever I offered to let her talk, to feel, to cry, she pulled away to the practical. She has always preferred it so. From a distance, she has written that she is sad, lonely, disappointed in herself and anxious for her future.
This may be when, again, the ODD takes presidence over the DA. I do not know and I will not see — Oooda will be preoccupied and incommunicado for most of the summer due to her job training.
For daXmom, I am again her mom, communicating on Oooda’s behalf in legal and financial matters, picking up loose ends in practical matters, taking time away from my own career development to reduce her stress in her career development, restricting my fun time because she did not restrict her fun time.
Sound conflicted? Of course. But, …
For now, I am choosing to, willing to, make sacrifices for Oooda’s freedom from Scaramouch. I wonder, though, if, like so many other DA victims, she will go back to him in a few months. Or to another too much like him.
So, letters of encouragement, statements of pride in what she’s now trying to do, descriptions of her goals accomplished and visions of goals still just dreams … all these I write to her (instead of blogging to you).
I do imagine a deadline, a graduation date if you will, after which I plan to relinquish these assumed duties on behalf of Oooda. I tell myself that then, she will be more secure about their ending and that then, I will be more focused on my path. I will hope for happy, healthy independence for each of us.
Finally, after so long, the daughter I love has come home for a visit! The joy of that first sight, the clinging of that first hug! Her beautiful eyes and cute new haircut! Oh, how we’d anticipated this trip. And, surprisingly, refreshingly, how she spoke of her longing for freedom from Scaramouch.
We had fun plans: shopping, skiing, pedicures, cooking, baking, church, and seeing aunt, uncle and grandparents. The flowers and trees cooperate, blooming at their peak to dress up our home. Even the weather blesses this trip.
“What is the bright globe in the clouds? Wait, there are no clouds! Just blue sky!” All a contrast to the state she’d flown away from, and a fortuitous heralding to our six days together (one for each month she’d been kept away).
I sometimes hate cell phones, hate text message capability.
His first contact, she told me, came while she was in the plane. Blaming her for getting arrested for a ticket before he’d even met her, in a state she’d never visited, and for which he’d never appeared as ordered. She told him that it was not her responsibility, that she’d already paid several of his tickets during their marriage, that if he really wanted her to believe he was really trying to grow up he’d take care of it himself.
“Mom,” she asked me, “did I do the right thing?” His mom paid his bail.
Their relationship, she said, includes the laundry list of ills (DA), verbal diatribes, emotional manipulation, threats against her pet, his inability to hold a job, his damage to dwellings, his constant text-tracking of her, his stealing of her things to get money for his pleasures.
She also told me of physical separation and of divorce papers not yet sent.
We had a great afternoon before she went to see some college friends, spending the night at one of their old haunts, then joining their morning workout class. We had another great afternoon on our deck, talking about skiing, her town and job and exciting future in a new endeavor (really a prior goal, almost destroyed five months ago, now resurrected in even better shape!). We began baking and cooking.
His second attack began then, constant text buzzes, more trouble initiated by Scaramouch’s actions and left for Oooda to resolve. And finally, Oooda blew up at us for something from the past. ODD was back. The yelling. The crying. The driving off. Her attempts to conduct the fight with me via text messages.
I am grateful for the parenting program and the Steps of X. One email back to her (I sometimes love smartphones, love that email can be read – and saved): I would not attempt dialogue via text or email, but tomorrow, when calm, we would sit for adult, face-to-face discussion of her accusation.
Fast forward, (church, lunch, aunt, uncle, grandparents, and snow gear). The tension and pain underlie the happy greetings and catch-up chat.
Oooda picked the scab on her emotional, infected wound in last night’s blow up, and now we must try to clean and dress it.
I barely speak one sentence before the Oooda resumes the old ODD behaviors. I pray to stay with the parenting approach. Remember, remember: stay calm, stay focused on the objective business and not distracted by emotions, avoid faulty logic, avoid blame, discover the genuine trigger, get to goals and actions. I’ve reviewed the note cards, I’ve prepared my script.
This bumpy attempt at getting heard came to no conclusion or agreement. Oooda interrupted and yelled, but then she stopped herself more quickly. I nearly got sidetracked into her rudeness and side issues, but I kept coming back to the script. All in all, this went better than the evening before.
I took a long walk, crying, glad to see none of the neighbors. I went home to dive into a hobby that I love and am receiving some recognition for. I thanked God for the Bible verse sent to me that morning, the one I’d chanted to myself during the long draining hours: “‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’”
In walked Oooda, quietly she laid down on the old sofa – snuggling into its worn and warm upholstery, cream, beige, green and blue, nearly as old as she is, bearing the scratch marks of two playful kitties.
All her fiery infection drained, she spoke quietly, tears flowing. I scribbled a couple of her points to come back to after she finished talking. When I eventually spoke, she listened. I think – hope and pray - she actually understood my actions that she’d been so angry about earlier.
She still resisted the tools available to her for her internal issues (Oppositional). And, surprise, surprise, still talked about possible reconciliation with persistent, intrusive, abusive, charmingly conniving Scaramouch (Defiant).
The last 30 hours have drained us all. No one has the energy to ski. Who knows what other of our happy visit the con-artist will disrupt (Disorder).
I did laugh last night before going to bed - at the last Tweet I read: aptronym: “an amusingly appropriate name” for a person.
I don’t seem to know the answer … my dreams have not come true.
My dreams never became goals, let alone realities or accomplishments, because I was always stopped from pursuing my interests.
(Did you notice the passive voice there? My word processing program did. “Passive what?” you ask. “I was always stopped.” I didn’t perform the stopping – someone else did.
(Active voice challenges me to write, “X stopped me from pursuing my interests.” Guess I must determine X.)
Who stopped me? At first, it was my own mother, whose home-bound inertia set the tone for me to imitate. All her active encouragement went to a sibling and sibling’s activities, while she decreed that I had to stay home to prevent intruders. Hence, by high school, I no longer joined clubs or sports or made friends or social plans. Alone I sat, doing schoolwork, viewing life in books or on TV. Bored, silent, and encapsulated, I waited for my 18th birthday when I could and would leave and live.
Eighteen came, and I left. I felt no passion to direct me, knew no personally defined major, career, or lifestyle, just the numb need to leave. After a few years of college, drifting from major to minor, elective to elective, room to house, boyfriend to live-in, I married and helped him pursue his dreams.
(Slightly more active voice here challenges me to recognize, “I stopped myself from pursuing my interests.”)
Passively fast-forward two decades: a career by default, Oooda by blessing (subsequently, helping her pursue her goals), a divorce by alcoholism, and …
I completely lost my identity. For a time, I felt as invisible as the wind, as bland as white bread, as shapeless as water taking on whatever boundaries its container sets, with goals as blurred as a foggy light at the dim end of a long, winding tunnel. (Yes, the mixed-up, rambling metaphors tell a tale, hear?)
Now, I am not quite so infinitely adrift. I’ve made some conscious choices: leaving my career-by-default (untimely so, but I had no recession-heralding crystal ball) and taking part-time jobs in diverse fields; not performing some chores just because I don’t want to and learning new skills just because I do want to; not contacting some people because they drain me and calling other people because they energize me.
I’m beginning to listen when my inner voice protests that something bores me, to depart when I feel my gut tighten because something displeases me, to lose my awareness of time when an endeavor captivates me, and to savor my heart’s song when my achievement fulfills me.
I’m starting to think of fun as equally important to responsibility in the grand scheme of life.
I’m changing my mantra from what I do to what I enjoy, when meeting people for the first time.
Still, where does this all go? Where do I want this to go?
“You got to have a dream … If you don’t have a dream, how you gon-na make a dream come true?” (“Happy Talk,” South Pacific).
I want to synthesize these new insights into a cohesive, coherent direction, a career ambition, a planned-for vacation. I want my life to be more deliberate.
It is up to me:
What’s my Goal?
What Plan of Action will I work to achieve it?
What will my progress look like?
When will I evaluate my Plan of Action?
If my Plan of Action is working, what will I do then?
If my Plan of Action is not working, what change will I make?
Perhaps the I so many times sounds selfish. For now, I accept that on the way to identifying my dream and then working its metamorphosis into a goal.
This is a portion of the journey of the Steps:
8. I am making a list of all goals I have abandoned and commit anew to pursuing the ones most valuable.
11. I seek through prayer and reading to improve my conscious contact with God, praying for knowledge of God’s will for my goals and the power to carry them out.
12. Seeing a path toward personal awakening of joyful self, healthy boundaries, and compassionate purpose, I share this journey with other parents of ODD and/or DA and ask their support in grateful community.
I just read (for the third time) the following article How to Use Humor to Defuse Fights with Your Child.
Some of my main points to remember from that article:
“Learn to laugh at yourself. … This is also something that we can model for our kids. … to refrain from taking themselves so seriously all the time … By doing this, you’re literally showing your child how to ‘laugh it off.’
“A question that can help your child: ‘Wow, why are we arguing about something so small?’ … lightens the mood … gives some objectivity and perspective. … You can calm things down by saying, ‘Okay, this is silly, huh? …’ That way, you are modeling to your child how to change the mood and put things into perspective.
“Focus on your child’s strengths. … a son who would argue and argue, no matter what was at stake … always had to have the last word … was exhausting …. ‘Man, someday he’s going to make a really good lawyer. I can just see him up there arguing in front of a judge. And the judge is going to say, “Oh my Lord, enough already!”‘” The mom didn’t share this with her son in that moment—he would have gotten defensive and angry—but it helped her put his behavior into perspective and have a moment of private amusement…
Ask a question that could help me: “‘Will this matter in a few months or years?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ you can probably let it go after you address the situation … recognize that it might be funny later on. It’s good if you can say to yourself, ‘Someday, we’re going to look back on this and laugh.’
“Use laughter to connect with other parents. … it can be so helpful…. normalizes things, releases tension … lightens the load … in the movie Steel Magnolias, Dolly Parton’s character says it so well: ‘Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.’
“The point is, sometimes it’s good to just walk away. … stepping back and … looking at everything from an outside perspective. … finding the humor in the situation ‘saved me on many, many occasions.’
Right now this feels so important — Oooda flies in next week. Increasingly this last month, Oooda has been on an emotional seesaw, divorce or reconciliation. I must keep my cool. Scaramouch has raided her savings again (while on a trip to his old home state as he has said he’s leaving her). Things may be coming to their next crisis, or he may be plying his manipulations again.
These are the times when the ODD fights flare up between Oooda and me.
I am her mother — I have wisdom for my daughter. She is an adult — she can think for herself. I am her mother — I know how to navigate Class 5 rapids. She is an adult — she holds the rudder of her canoe even in the whitewater of life.
So, with a foot in two canoes, ODD and DA, I pray to stay afloat. I look forward to hugging Oooda. I want to focus on the good in her life and the good in our relationship.
But I know from past experience that she will ask what to do about the DA, and then ODD argue from her pain and stress and, yes, humiliation at finding herself in this situation. I want to believe that some tiny bit of humor can make us laugh, at ourselves, at our micro focus, at something, anything silly outside of ourselves.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
If necessary, I pray for the presence of mind in either of us to step away to see the snow on the mountains or smell the carnations in the vase.
1 The LORD is her shepherd; I’ll try not to worry.
2 You give me Your peace, not the world’s peace. You lead me through Your word, promising, and fulfilling.
3 You ease my anguish. And, You lead her in the lessons of righteousness for Your name’s sake.
4 Yea, though she walk through the Valley of the Offspring of Abuse, I will remain in prayer, for You watch over her — Your angels and Your family, they comfort us.
5 You prepare a hedge around her in the land of her enemies. You anoint her actions with grace; her spirit grows resilient.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall she find in the future days of her life, and we will reconcile in the house of the LORD for ever.