The Real Me
Hold on to this advice.
I found this online. I think its beautifully written advice...for some reason I think im going to keep this...I may need it one day.
Someone asked "sometimes I feel like I hate my child...I feel so bad about it" etc etc. This person responded with the following:
I think I understand what many of you are struggling with - fundamentally loving (in the sense of worrying about her well-being) but generally not liking or respecting your child's actions and suspecting that if she was a stranger you met on the street, you wouldn't even like her!
I was young when I had my daughter, and it was a struggle every month for us to get by. I was under a tremendous amount of stress just to provide for us, and was not always as attentive as I might have been. Fortunately for me, she was generally an easy child until she was about 11.
My daughter is over 30 now. In retrospect, some of the symptoms mentioned in this series of posts are familiar. She stole food. She ate it in her bed at night and hid the wrappers between the wall and the bed. She was either unwilling or unable to clean her room or organize anything unless was standing there telling her what to do with each item. In fact, she still is like that - and now I think she is actually a hoarder.
By the time she was fifteen, I thought I hated her. She was sleeping around, refusing to take care of herself, lying, stealing, skipping school. I couldn't wait for her to finish high school. She was a decent-enough student, but she was extremely passive - e.g., I filled out her college application - but once admitted, she did go and she actually finished a bachelor's degree.
After college, though, she has never gotten on with her life. It was as if, without the structure of school, she is unable to figure things out for herself. She married - and divorced (without kids, thank God) - and has gone from one lousy job to another (usually getting fired for being unreliable or untrustworthy). As a result, she has one disaster after another, and though she is quick to call for cash (which I am increasingly unwilling to give), she never otherwise picks up the phone. When I call her, she either ignores my calls or screams at me, telling me that I am waking her up (10AM, noon, 3PM, whenever I call, it is the wrong time).
With all of our ups and downs, with all of the disappointment I feel in her (FOR HER), I love her, but it's a complicated love. It doesn't feel like that warm rush of affection one has with some people. It's like a gnawing, breathless, burning anxiety that is a hair's breadth from rage.
I can feel tenderness for her when we are apart, but in her company, I don't feel tenderness or compassion, I see how she sabotages herself, and I feel panic (but I hold my tongue, because to do otherwise precipitates a fight...).
A therapist once pointed out to me that people smother tender feelings with anger out of self-protection, particularly when the person they love is self-injurious. Being the parent of a dysfunctional child is one of the most painful double-binds imaginable. With one hand, you want to hold on for dear life, but with the other, you want to smack the crap out of them.
But eventually, we just get tired, and that - in my case has become depression, avoidance, anxiety ... you name it. You care more for your daughter's well-being than any person alive, and she's jeopardizing it. Of course you're pissed!
Maybe if you can think that your anger is really just panic, shame (toward whatever part of yourself that you blame for the outcome - your parenting, your genes, your decisions, your finances, etc.) and FEAR, you can find a way to forgive yourself and her? Fear, shame and anger is a spiraling cycle that will only harm you both unless you get a grip on it.
I wish you peace and I hope that as she grows up, you will be able to reach some philosophical peace.
She likely won't be the daughter you hoped she would be when they first laid her in your arms, and maybe she won't even be a successful or even a happy person, but maybe you can love her and hang onto her anyway, and if so, I hope you will consider that some kind of accomplishment.