092209 post Not My Children’s Friend
I am thinking this morning about disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorders as they exist – in my thinking – at the root of every supposed ‘mental illness’ known to the human species. I believe that as time marches on scientific research is going to find out that what I know at the center of my being is true.
It is the nature of every organism to orient and organize its being around something. I see a massive sunflower field in my mind’s eye. Every single flower in the field turns its head continually from sunrise to sunset, following the rays of the sun. Just as there are plants that organize and orient their existence to sunlight, there are those that have to orient themselves in the shade.
As members of a social species humans are designed to orient themselves first and foremost to other members of their species. This organization and orientation begins with conception. When the optimal patterns do not exist to create optimal orientation and organization as members of our social species, alterations, adaptations and distortions will manifest themselves in the body, including the brain-mind, of every ‘deprived of optimal’ member.
I cannot understand why this fundamental fact seems to be the last one specialists in human beings seem willing to consider. To me, it is first and central. Put any growing sunflower under a closed barrel and watch what happens to it!
Thinking about orientation and organization today has led me to a consideration of how I parented my 3 children differently than how my parents parented me. How did I know what I knew and do what I did? I am not entirely sure what the answer to this question is, but I do know what it seems like to me.
I innately knew, primarily, that I did not want to raise my children the way I was raised – particularly by my mother. Following that, I knew that my intention was to help my children to know exactly who they were as individuals. Next my job was to help them in any way possible to better know who they were, and to be the BEST at being themselves as they possibly could be by the time it was time for them to leave home and enter their own adult lives.
In order to accomplish my above stated mission, I somehow absolutely knew that I was not ever supposed to be my children’s friend. There are lots of words and ideas that could be pasted on top of this most simple concept, but when all is pared away, that is the MEANS by which I was (and my children will agree with me) able to be a nonabusive, successful mother.
My thinking runs up against a fork in the road at this point. On the one hand I want to say that for the 35 years I had a child under the age of 18 in my home, being their mother was the single, most powerful orienting and organizing factor in my life. I did not know this, and my blindness set me up for an absolute and near total collapse of my being once the youngest walked out the door and stepped onto the Greyhound bus that took him off to Air Force boot camp when he was 18.
The other fork in the road of my thinking continues forward with the time that is passing in my life and in my children’s lives. Ultimately today – just at this moment – I am facing a strange version of a fact. Even though my mother appeared to despise me and abused me in one fashion or another for 18 long years – ultimately, she had me in the ‘friendship’ rather than in the daughter-mother role.
We can either hate or love our friends, but in the end we owe them nothing vital. Yet even as they exist separately from ourselves, we can project as much of our own internal messiness onto them as we can get away with. I see that the same problems my mother had with every single other person in her life, she also had with me, even though her troubles with me were on the most extreme end of her relationship continuum because I was the most helpless and vulnerable.
Because she did not make it out of her own early childhood with a strong, clear self, and hence could not possibly have a good relationship with this non existent self, I was simply a projected extension of her inner psychic world. If, as adults, we are anything less than perfectly well adjusted and healthy, every relationship we are likely to have with another adult – FRIEND – can contain within it some degree and version of projection.
Even if we were deprived of the development of a strong, clear and healthy self, we can – down the road – take responsibility for ourselves and begin to realize what projections from within our self we are sending ‘out there’ onto others. We can make a commitment to ‘bringing it all back home’. Piece by piece, bit by bit, we can learn to recognize when we are in the process of participating in a trauma drama with those around us by realizing that what we are seeing ‘out there’ is most often simply a projection of what is messed up within ourselves.
By making that simple decision as a mother to never place my children in a role of friendship with me, I freed myself to be their mother and I freed them to be my children. I understood – and still understand today – that they are completely separate entities from me. They are their own individual selves. They are my children. They are not my friends. They exist within their own boundaries, are sovereigns of their own separate nation of their selfhood. In other words, I bore them into this world, assisted them the best that I could to turn around, take their selfhood and walk away from me, marching off into the future that is their own life.
My mother could not do this. Because of the way her brain-mind worked, she did not have this choice available to her. Her orientation and organization around her family was anything BUT healthy. She spewed out her own psychic traumas and contaminated her relationship with her children — and with everyone else who ever came into range of her. I cannot say that I don’t project out my own trauma ‘issues’ on all kinds of other people in my life. But what matters to me is that I somehow – through a miracle I am MOST GRATEFUL for – am able to spare my children from being included as pawns in my dramas.
In the last analysis, there is nothing in this lifetime that could possibly matter more to me than this. I was able to mother my children. I was able to let them be free to be themselves. I do not today orient or organize my being, my existence, or my life around them.
I continue to have intense and major problems with my own disoriented-disorganized insecure attachment disorder – and with the multiple so-called ‘mental diagnosis’ that originated from the horrible experience of childhood that I had. I do not have a strong and clear self, or a strong and clear connection with my non-self. It’s my job to find my own way, however. It is not the job of my children to parent me.
Today I have a few wonderful friends. I see that the fundamental quality that they share most in common is that they all have a strong, clear sense of their own self – and their connection to their self is a good one. They do not in any way project their ‘garbage’ onto me. We do not, therefore, share any form of trauma drama between us.
I could not and cannot yet say this about the intimate relationship I am trying to emotionally extricate myself from – but I am in the process of learning, learning and learning some more of what I most need to learn for centered calmness to enter my life instead of either joy or suffering connected to this person.
Each day I have to take conscious tiny steps as I try to locate and identify my self, LINDA, as she exists in this body, in this life, in this world. I try to attend to every detail about what she-I orients herself toward and organizes herself-my self around. I doubt that I will ever in my lifetime be able to take for granted what my children fundamentally know – that they ARE a self, that they know who that self is, and that self is absolutely FINE!
By not placing any other relationship construct onto them – including friendship, by allowing them to be ONLY my children, by my being ONLY their mother, I was able to keep my trauma drama propensity away from them. By being ONLY my children’s mother, I was able to provide what they needed to grow up to be ONLY their own individual self. There is nothing more important I could possibly want for each of them.
Yes, I have a great relationship with all my children, but as their mother, not as their friend. This, to me, is what parental love is all about.