I sure am grateful that I love a good challenge–because this new life would be impossible if I didn’t!
The transition of living with Wade and Sammy to living with just Tori has been taking up all my time. Plus, some of my challenges have been so difficult, I wasn’t sure what to write exactly.
First challenge was the house I bought. Lots of problems, all fixable, but taking lots of time and money that I didn’t expect. There have been days when it felt like I was just opening a vein and pouring out dollars. But I can handle it, just takes some Zen-attitude and lots of patience.
Tori, on the other hand, has been quite a handful. Yes, I knew I was taking on a “tween”–and yes, I knew that going into adolescence would be difficult for both of us.
What I didn’t expect was for her to turn on me. I have said all along that this situation is as good for me and my growth as it is for her, yet I have had days when I wasn’t sure I could do it. Doesn’t mean I wanted to give up, I just wasn’t sure what to do!
Thank goodness for Dena, our family therapist at the Momentous Institute. She has been a rock of support and encouragement.
The change in Tori came overnight. One day she was happy and grateful to be here, the next day she was sullen, hateful, angry and wanted to be anywhere but here. I know part of it is grief. I am coming to understand that children deal with grief very differently from adults. There were so many changes over the last year, she really didn’t have the space to process her grief.
Now that she is in a stable, safe and predictable environment, it seems the floodgates have opened for many pent-up emotions. I’m really glad she is expressing them, but when it got directed at me, it was really hard.
I uprooted and changed my whole life to take care of this girl. I can’t expect her to understand what that means entirely–she probably will have many aha moments about it when she’s 35 and trying to work and raise kids. So I don’t expect her to get it. It could be a little of my ego here, we all have that little martyr voice inside that says, “after all I’ve done for you….”
Mostly I have felt sad for us to feel estranged. Right now, we are the primary people here for each other. I don’t want her to not have her feelings. But I have mine too, and they were hurt!
Dena has helped us a lot. We have had two very tough therapy sessions where we both spoke up and said things we didn’t know how to say when we were alone with each other. I didn’t really expect this to happen, but in the second session, just this last week, I found myself telling Tori that I am not going to live like this. I’m just not going to do it.
It felt so great to stand up for myself with her! I told her that I feel a deep responsibility to model behavior to her, and that I won’t let her think that it is all right for her to be so mean to me. (She had hardly spoken to me over the last two weeks, and when she did, it was with angry, accusatory-type language.)
I told her I understood that mothers and daughters fight with each other, but I’m not her mother, I’m someone who has chosen to take care of her and be there for her, and I love myself too much to allow her to treat me in an abusive manner.
I didn’t have a solution, I just knew I couldn’t accept what was happening. Fortunately, Dena helped us negotiate some things. She helped Tori understand that if she wants things from me, permission to go places and do things, then she needs to show me she is willing to be respectful. She explained that if she changed her attitude, she would be much more likely to get what she wants.
I had tried to say the same things to her, but in the context of us working together, she truly heard Dena and made some different choices, almost immediately. By the next day, we were talking again. She wanted some more art supplies, and I took her to the store. She was polite, and I cooperated.
Seems simplistic in the writing of this, but it didn’t feel like it as we were walking through it.
Her big thing is that she wants to color her hair. I really don’t know if that is something advisable for a 12 year old–so I’m taking clues from Dena about it. Her position is that it is very common, and it would be good for Tori to feel she can choose that. But it needs to be contingent on her behavior toward me. If she wants to do it, she needs to show me at least one week of politeness.
So far so good. We still have a few days to go to the next session with Dena, and I’ve told Tori that we will make the decision there. She seems to be able to work with that.
For me, the most important part of this is that I am finding a way to stand up for myself and not walk away from a really tough situation. In my past, I haven’t actually found a man that was worth my effort to do that. Turns out this girl, for me, is definitely worth whatever it takes.