It may hurt, but it’s great when an adult child of ours does tell us something that is bothering them about us. It’s our time to listen and be willing to really hear. Can you imagine what it would have felt like if our parents could have done this. Or, maybe they have and you had the good feeling of release that “your” truth is out in the open and you are not a child to this person anymore but on equal footing. This truth telling can help your child to truly feel adult and help her/him on his way. Also, it can help you grow closer to your offspring. You hear, you understand, you say you’re sorry for their pain (since you don’t want your grown child to carry a wound within). This is the listening and understanding phase.
The next step may be in several weeks or years. You need to wait until your sure your adult child has been heard. You need to ask if there is anything else they need to tell you. We were all imperfect parents and really just had to be “good enough” but the adult child doesn’t always know this. Once you understand though and they know it, they will move closer to saying that I love you and you were good enough and I am ok too. Good enough, a human who makes mistakes. Us both, human.
It took me eight times to tell my mother how I felt about being slapped and other hurtful things that happened in my childhood. She came to see me and her grandchild once a year and each time we had a “little talk” about half way through her trip. I talked to her half way through her trip so we could have some chance of normalizing. One time she hit me, one time she fainted, the other six times she was hurt and mad. Somehow, we got through it enough for me to feel good about speaking up (I couldn’t help or fix her reaction) and being the adult that spoke in defense of the once child.)
I realized in the telling and in her reaction that she still didn’t understand about me separating from her, just as I wouldn’t fully understand during my son’s teenage years in the early ’80’s She thought that I was being disrespectful and didn’t understand I had feelings and needs different from hers. I got that in this process and felt sad for both of us. Somehow, the anger was drained out in this realization.
She is now in her 90’s and still doesn’t understand what I was trying to say and is glad my sister and brother never “did that to her” and I understand now. Sometimes I want to tell my brother and sister about separating but I mind my own business. Telling them won’t do anything. Sometimes I want to explain to her but it won’t do any good. I let it go and let my relationship with her be a supportive one for her as she ages. I am actually grateful that she finally “let it go” and we can be sweet to each other. She showed she loved me by “letting it go” and I know it must have been hard without understanding.
So we are two adults in our aging process and I feel content with our relationship. She is feisty and brave and vigorous, in her own way. Her mind is sharp and she wants to continue to live, even as she gets frail. She looks forward to my calls several times a week and the packages of readings I send weekly. My sister is five minutes away and happy to look after her.
Blessed be. Psychology and spirituality come together in wonderful ways. More later. I’d love to hear your separation stories. Would love to read some memoirs about this. Not an easy process but a must!!