During Lent I realized that somewhere along the way my lifetime of wanting my mother's approval had disappeared. When I read only daughter's words about her visit with youngest son:
"We talked one evening about our mother. He used some of the exact phrasing that I had used in counselling three days before. It was a comfort to us both that we have the same problems with the same woman. It helped us to see that it isn’t in our heads. That the problems are real and solid because someone else felt them too."I wondered if I had only transferred my need for approval from my mother to my children. I can so easily make every thing in life all about me. It takes no effort to do so. I took this latest realization, my musings about wanting my children's approval, to God and ask God to do what I cannot do for myself. I have no control over whether they ever get to the place of being okay with me. But being okay with myself, that is something I desire. As I wrote this all in my journal I ended it by quoting from my big book:
"Selfishness - self centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self seeking, and self pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation. but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt." ~ Alcoholics Anonymous p. 62I went to bed on Holy Thursday unsettled. Trying my best to let go of it all. All the turmoil had me digging deep in various resources to keep my head above water. The scalpel of truth was going to cut even deeper but thank God I didn't know that beforehand.
Dearest one told me the next day (Good Friday)that youngest son had told him that all he wanted from me was to hear me say I was proud of him. That all I seemed to dish out to him was criticism for his choices, nagging him for his lifestyle. I sat there and listened to dearest one and thought to myself, "I can't say it."
"Suffering is a face-to-face encounter with something you don't want to face. It's your resistance against truth. Against reality. Against the very truth that would liberate you if you would only face it. Suffering is nature's attempt to help us face illusions we don't even suspect we harbour." ~ p. 88 in Praying Naked by J. Francis Stroud, S.J.I seemed unable to separate youngest son's choices from himself as a person. The realization was not pretty. Especially since I have no problem doing the separating with other people. I sat there and thought about all the times I have sat in an AA meeting and been amazed at how honest people are and how comfortable they seem with what is. I wanted that. But I didn't know if I had the courage to actually live it. I saw for the first time how important it was for me to simply be where I was at on the journey instead of trying to pretend the truth wasn't the truth.
"It was humbling to admit this to dearest one, it doesn't make me look very good. But it helped him understand why youngest son doesn't feel my support. I told dearest one that until a change happens in my heart there is no point in anything coming from my mouth. I said youngest son would recognize the change in my spirit without me saying a word so that when the time comes for me to say I am proud of him it will ring true. God, what a journey. How hard it is to be willing to face myself. But there really is no other way."