Some changes look negative on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge. –Eckhart Tolle
After my first year at PSU, Tracie, and Kelly, ages eighteen and fourteen, come to Portland to live with me. This development offers me another opportunity to practice my parenting skills face-to-face.
Tracie had dropped out of her freshman year from Boise State University, dumping a track scholarship, and Dave called to inform me he is sending Kelly to me with the expectation that I ‘fix’ her. “She’s running with the wrong bunch of kids, they’re into drugs, and who knows what else. She’s skipping school, and she won’t listen to me.” Without a pause, he continues, “Stefanie is doing fine, but wants to come to Portland during the summer break. I’ll call to make the necessary plans in early May.”
Abandonment runs in our family. I can see that now. My father was abandoned by a depressed, unloving mother; he then abandons his son Wally, my half-brother, via alcoholism, and Wally’s mother abandons him through death. My mother abandons me, twice: first, metaphorically to God, then psychologically by seeming to be unavailable to my growing-up needs. I abandon my children by physically leaving them, and Dave, unwittingly, abandons them by marrying another and redirecting a lot of his attentions away from them, toward his new wife and her children. I am well aware my daughters have not gone unscathed through my family’s string of discards.
Long before my mind is aware of it, the desire to break this damaging cycle is sensed by my soul (spirit). This yearning is so deep within, I can barely identify it. The wounds caused by my leaving needed to heal. I wanted my girls to have what I didn’t—a truly nurturing mother. This visceral understanding eventually became the taproot connecting me to my childhood.
I start slowly, so slowly that one would barely notice. Without a playbook, I need to write my own moves. Understanding it and knowing how to correct it don’t line up easily so I do what I’d always done: march forth with dogged intention, but without a plan.
I add the first few ingredients for my new recipe:
one tablespoon of purpose
half a cup of confidence
a dash of grit.
The makings seem compatible, yet not quite ready for blending. I cover the bowl with a soft muslin cloth of hope, and store it safely in the pantry of my heart to protect it from the rain.
What I came to realize is:
- I had to let go of the guilt and shame that fed my Denial. This is a large order and it takes me nearly three and a half decades.
Stay tuned. Next episode: A New Playbook