My Daughter My Self

I haven’t paid attention to my blog in a very long time since all I seem to do lately is write about addiction all day every day.  I’ve been neglecting so many parts of my life that are evolving around me spinning faster and faster as I get older and older.  I preach constantly to mothers about how important self-care is and that we must do things for ourselves that make us feel good without feeling guilty about doing them.  It’s easy to talk about but sometimes it’s not so easy to do.  I recently was consumed with helping people who in the end didn’t really want help.  I ended up working harder on their “stuff” than they did and this put me right back in to that dark co dependent state of mind where I ended up being really sick.  Again.  Physically, emotionally and spiritually.  It didn’t take my sons addiction for me to fully understand what co-dependency was.  It took a few mothers who pushed me back in to being “that” kind of woman which made me finally realize what it actually means.  Whatever and however it happened, it was really bad.  Everyone who cares about me saw it happening but knowing how stubborn I am they let me ride the unhealthy wave until I crashed and burned all on my own.  And now…….I finally get it.  And now I know that I will hopefully never ever go back to that place again no matter how angry someone gets with me for not participating in their own sickness.

Once I started to come out of this mess, I shed the anger, amped up the good karma and jumped in the car with my husband Michael embarking on a mid life cross- country trip. Never once looking in the rearview mirror, never feeling guilty and totally focused on the final destination to my happy place.  The place I don’t get to be very often because I’m a big baby and hate to fly.  I’m not afraid of something happening, I just don’t like being squished in between hundreds of strangers knowing that there is no escape.  Claustrophobia has crept in to my dna make up along with other new and uncomfortable feelings as I get older.  I wasn’t sure how this 5 day journey would turn out being with only my husband and wondering what the hell we would talk about for 5 days straight all alone in the car.  I prepared for the trip with lots of downloaded podcasts and an awesome playlist mixing his Allman brothers, Grateful Dead music with my Adele and Pink songs intertwined.  The journey turned out to be epic.  From the truck stop diners in Kansas to the Bellagio in Vegas.  From staying with and dining with my best friends kids in Colorado to driving through the most majestic sites that you’d never experience through a little window on a plane, to meeting amazing people (and dogs) at every stop along the way.  What a great way to experience America.  And doing it with my best friend, my husband, was one of the happiest times we’ve had in a long time.  It doesn’t matter after being married for so long if you have nothing to talk about.  All that mattered was that we were together and I was on my way to my happy place.  I was on my way to spend time with my daughter Alex. 

Alex.  My daughter.  My self.

Maybe if she lived closer to me and we saw each other all the time, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to actually “see” her for who she has become. It’s difficult with the time difference and the fact that I am asleep before she even gets out of work everyday to talk as much as I’d like to.  This is the reason I drop a call no matter who it’s with if her number pops up on her way to work.  I could be on with the Publishers Clearing House guy saying he was on his way over with balloons and a check and I would still hang up to talk to my daughter.  Okay maybe not him but everyone else, yes.  I walk down the city streets and see mothers and daughters together and I cry.  I hear them fighting with each other at the table next to me at dinner and I cry.  It’s quite the unexplainable phenomenon happening to me. The older I get, the more I want to be with my daughter.  Don’t get me wrong.  I looove my son and I loooove my husband but this relationship is comparable to none.

I knew from when she was a little girl, and convinced that she was Dorothy, that one day she would find her way to OZ.  When she beat up a little boy in elementary school for pulling her hair, I felt secure knowing that through life, she would take shit from no one.  When she was sad, I was sad but when she smiled my world was a happy place. I watched her graduate and go to a college that wasn’t her first choice.  She knew where she wanted to be and had a plan so she worked as hard as she could and transferred to that school the following September.  She was in Boston and was a car ride away, which was more than awesome.  I can remember moving her in to her Boston apartment and when I drove away I was a little jealous.  I admit it. I felt as if I was leaving a little bit of my younger self behind in that brownstone and driving an older version of myself back to a home that was going to be very quiet with her gone.

I can also remember the day she told us that she was doing an internship in California and that she wanted to move to the west coast.  I knew I couldn’t be mad at her and could only be mad at myself for being afraid to fly.  I can only recall a few other times when I felt as sad as I did that day.  But how could I be mad at her? She knew what she wanted to do and no one was going to stop her.

She was just like me.

Our time together in California was filled with epic mother daughter time.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be that way if we lived in the same city. Maybe its because I knew our time together was limited and therefor steered clear of any arguments.  We threw out most of her furniture and redid her apartment.  She took me on a wine tasting safari in Malibu and we hung out with an awesome giraffe. We were up all night one time worrying about the baby coyote that was crying for its mother. ( I snuck out looking for it when she fell asleep of course.) We spent lots of time with family and friends and made new memories.  I bought her a keurig and some new mugs so we could sit together in the morning having our coffee while solving life’s problems.  It’s times like this when life crisscrosses over and a daughter becomes your best girlfriend.

This is when I would look at her and see myself.  This is when I would look at her, really look at her and see my own mother. Although my mother passed away when Alex was only 6 years old, the bond between them was stronger than anything I had ever seen.  I would watch her now, every day getting ready for work as she would pick out something of my mothers to wear. Whether it was a silk scarf or a ring or a bracelet, she always has something of my moms with her and on her.  This is something that I have never done but have started to do since I’ve returned home.

My mother      my self     my daughter   

My daughter is tough but sweet and as smart and loyal as a lab.  She has always known what she wants and doesn’t take no for an answer.  She is the greatest friend that anyone could ever ask for and I am so lucky that she is my girl.  She is thoughtful and funny and takes good care of her mind body and soul.  She did not get that from me.  She’s learned that on her own and now she’s teaching me things that I never took the time to figure out for myself.  She has watched me for a long time but now I am watching her and I don’t even think she knows it.

She stuck by her brother through his addiction and guides me now through his recovery.  She has so much clarity at times when my actions are clouded by emotions and has the good sense to set me straight.  She was neglected through those years by me when I was so focused on my sons illness but told me on this trip something that made my heart explode.  She told me that from all the bad that happened, much good came out it.  Besides her brother’s recovery, the way I parent has totally changed for the better.  I don’t tell her what to do anymore.  I just listen.  I don’t try to fix anything for her either. I let her figure it out.

Our children are watching us. Life throws many struggles in our paths and we cant fix a problem for our children every time they have one. The greatest gift we can give them is to teach them to struggle well.  I know my daughter can struggle on her own now.  I’ve watched her do it and have seen her end up on the other side of that struggle.  I’m so proud of who she is and can’t wait to see where she goes on this journey through life.

She is becoming me and I am becoming more like her.

Facing my fears one at a time now. My fear of flying is not as great as the thought of not being to see my son or daughter whenever I want to.  This is why I threw my car on a flatbed and got on a plane last week to fly home.  I’ll wait another few years to do that cross-country drive again for fun. But there’s no way I’m waiting that long to wake up and have coffee with my little girl ever again.

I love you Alex.  Always be true to yourself because you are worth it.


P.S.  I’m still waiting for my car