"My daughter's a brat, what can I do?"
My name is Suzanne and I live in Australia. I just happened on your web site - although I'm not sure happened is the right word and your comments inspired me to write to you about my own issues, something I ordinarily wouldn't do.
I would really appreciate your thoughts in this.
About 7 1/2 years ago, I found myself approaching 30 and under an incredible amount of pressure to produce off-spring, like it's something I had to do to keep everyone really happy. I had been sacked and thought, oh what the hell there will never be a better time, so I had a daughter.
The birth was traumatic and I rejected breast feeding and I was totally overwhelmed by pain and the anxiety that came from not being prepared for this change of life. I am afraid my daughter and I never bonded and from three weeks of age she was already making it clear she didn't want me too close either. This wasn't a great start and now she is never 7. It has never been easy with us.
The doctor said she isn't ADD or ADHD - that she is at the top end of the temperament scale - demanding attention, histrionics. She is very bright and charming but mostly I just live with a little bitch - 24 carrot gold A-grade. I don't mind telling you that if I had a choice of friends she isn't my type. I thought maybe it would get better but we seem to live in a spiral of aggression and anger and reaction and this is harder with a 2 1/2 year-old brother who is clearly an easier natured person.
Both my husband and I are basically quiet but confident people who together don't possess the amount of ego that Lydia has. But if this sounds strange... I can warm to her in her sleep until those eyes open and what is behind them - well it just seems that nobody is home - rather soulless and like we have never had a real conversation. She talks at people not with them and of course she knows everything about everything.
I know what you said about sometimes our children are reflections of ourselves - good or bad parts - and I wondered if this might be the case. However, if it is simpler and she just hasn't gotten over my original bad times at her birth and if this is impeding our ability to bond then is it too late.
I worry that she is on her way to becoming a typical problem teenager - or can we save this situation?
By the way, this isn't just with me only. I'm the only one who is prepared to go to battle with her. She also pulls this routine with daddy and other close relatives, like she has this need to be needed and rejects that with a need to control and repulse.
Her name is X and her birthday is 23rd September. I am a different mother with my son, and I get on with most people in this world - in fact I have a very successful community life - so I know this is between my daughter and me.
Please excuse this lengthy message, and thank you for reading it. This Internet is an amazing thing but you still offer a bit of your soul every time you instigate contact this way.
Hi - This is your greatest challenge - you are being asked to Love. And Love. And Love. Right now you are in judgment and in fear of your daughter, rather than in Love. She scares you, apparently, but what is really scaring you is not knowing whether you are up to handling this challenge, whether you've got what it takes to Love. You are really scared of yourself and your perceived limitations.
Sometimes it seems as if we have been asked to handle more than we think we can possibly handle. But you haven't been given more than you can handle. You are being asked, your Spirit is asking you, to stretch and stretch and stretch to places, places in your soul, where you haven't gone yet. This is a big one. And X has come to be your greatest teacher. It isn't easy for another soul to play a role for us that is difficult. We can look at them and think, as you have thought, "What a bitch she is". Or, you can look at her and say: "This is a soul who has chosen to come into my life, who is loving me enough to do what no one else is willing to do: to play a really difficult role for me so that I may grow." Don't shoot the messenger, Suzanne. If you do, you will miss out on the greatest opportunity of your life.
The worry here isn't that X will end up a difficult teenager. The concern here is that you will miss out on what you came here to do, and that is grow in Love. You chose to bring in a life, but as you said, it wasn't out of Love. Yes, the energy you were in when you got pregnant, and the energy you were in during your pregnancy and after, affected this child. Now you have a chance to learn what Love really is. My daughter and I had a very similar story. I didn't get pregnant with a what the hell attitude, nor did I get pregnant due to a feeling of pressure, but when she was born and I looked at her, I felt scared. We had a very stormy relationship, I thought she was a very difficult person, and I judged her, and it is one of the greatest regrets of my life that I didn't give her, as a child, what she needed. You can't put it on rewind and love your child again. You can only live with what you have done. But - you can begin to truly Love at any moment. Choosing to Love is a decision. A decision to go beyond a momentary feeling of discomfort... and just Love.
My daughter moved out to live with my parents when she was 13. We were very estranged until she was 17, when I was finally able to begin to truly understand what Love is. Now, of all the people in my life, my love for her, my ability to feel love and treasure another human being, came because of her. When I hold her - it's like nothing else - the love is so sweet and so very, very precious. It fills my heart. And she is continuing to grow into a lovely human being. My daughter taught me how to love, and when I look back, I see a child so strong in Love, it just about breaks my heart to look at it... she was someone who, no matter how tough it got, or how much I pulled away, always called us back to Love one another. She was the one who would mend the broken pieces. It is never too late to Love. The question is, are you choosing to?
X is desperately calling out to you with every apparently egotistical comment or attitude, to be Loved. Every action requires a response of Love. This is a great mantra for you to say a hundred times a day if you need to, to remind yourself how to respond to life. X is doing that for you. You can buy into your fear and judgments, your momentary feelings, or you can buy into what seem like crappy attitudes which really come from her pain and her strategies to protect herself from not feeling loved (a very scary place for a child), or you can see deeper than that and move into Loving her, seeing who she really is, under the hurt.
The choice is yours. The challenge is from your own soul. My daughter and I are close now. I'm the one she calls any time that she is upset, or happy - often she calls just to touch in, and I make sure that I give her the clearest, kindest, most awesome Love I have to give, so that she knows she is Loved. And I feel great giving that, to be able, finally, to give it. Loving someone who is easy going and good natured is easy. You are being asked to Love beyond where you have yet been able to Love. I hope you will have no regrets. Best wishes,
I added these thoughts:
I've been thinking a lot about your situation with X, perhaps because it parallels my own experience with my daughter in many ways. You mentioned that when a person writes in for advice, as you did, that it can be a bit scary, as you reveal yourself and give a part of yourself away. That was some important information you gave about yourself. It told me that when you share yourself, you feel as if you give yourself away. That you lose power... in effect, that connecting and opening yourself to others is, or can be, therefore, a threatening thing.
It can be difficult and scary to extend oneself, to risk putting oneself out there to others, because we don't know what we'll get back. I think this is a key to your relationship with X. If you have had experiences of putting yourself, your love, your essence out there, and what you got back was being clobbered or intimidated in some way, then you will likely have a fear of not being received. Then it would be a difficult thing to reach out, as you said, especially to someone like X, who seems to be a very different personality (initially, not necessarily different in a bad way - just different) than you are. That would be scary.
What is involved here is the issue of you needing to gain inner strength - the strength to know how to lovingly stand up for yourself, to take care of yourself, while at the same time being able to accept others for who they are. And not be afraid of their power. In other words, it may be that you are being asked to face your fear - the fear of feeling intimidated by others. To know that you are whole enough, to be able to trust in your strength and in your ability to love yourself, to trust who you are. Then you will not be intimidated by the power of others.
When you can do this, and it can often be a lifelong journey to gain this strength and wisdom, you are then able to relate from a calm and loving place. A place where you know how to put out who you are, and speak your truth, without fear of losing yourself, or being shot down, or crushed. I don't know if you felt this way in your life, but often those with gentle, more mellow, non-confrontive personalities do get children (or sometimes it can be a mate - or sometimes a lot of people in your life can feel this way) who are such strong personalities that they force you to grow in inner strength.
You said that when X is asleep, you feel love for her. That is because you feel safe. You are not having to face her power with your own power (or lack of it) to deal with her. You are also truly sensing who she is without her pain and defenses up. She probably has a lot of power, but it has gotten distorted due to what she has experienced. I'm sure that she senses your fear of her from the time she was born, and she does not feel loved. As you mentioned, the whole reason for getting pregnant and what happened afterwards was an experience for you of not feeling your own power. And then of being rejected - unable to breast feed, etc. You had gotten fired from your job; you felt pressured by others to have a child which you gave in to - you went with a oh what the heck attitude - all of this speaks about a person who does not or did not have her own sense of self, or power. So, how surprised are you that the universe gave you a child who also challenges your sense of power?
As long as you have that issue, no matter if it's X or someone else, you will feel intimidated by another in some way. And probably you are angry at yourself for that - you feel less than, and if you don't own that you are angry at yourself, you will find someone else to be angry at - in this case, your daughter. Are you seeing your own anger, and putting it on her? An important question to answer - because when you called her a grade A bitch, you sounded like an angry one yourself - hard to hear, but important, perhaps, for your life, to question it.
X can't talk to people directly, as you said, she speaks at people, because she also is terrified, as you are, of being rejected. You both have the same issue. She can't risk putting out to others and opening up to them - she can't risk not being loved one more time, not heard, or received. She can't risk reaching out for that connection that she needs so badly, and being rejected - in effect, told in so many ways that she isn't worth loving. So she has compensated for this and developed strategies to survive in a world where she doesn't feel loved - she talks louder, is pushier, trying to pretend it doesn't matter. She is isolated within herself, and that is why she can't connect appropriately.
She doesn't know what it feels like to be loved, and that is the soullessness you see in her eyes. It's too painful to try to connect, as she already feels unloved and unappreciated and judged. You said that you don't like who she is - but yes, she is the part of you that you don't have - the part that has power and puts it out there. She deals with feeling unloved and scared by being loud - maybe you dealt with feeling unloved differently, as you are a different personality, but it is the same issue. You are calling her loudness ego - but how would it change your attitude toward her, to value it, and see it as power instead of ego? A power that needs to be lovingly taught, to be refined, and loved for its strength.
Granted she doesn't know how to relate now in a loving way, but this is something perhaps you both came here to learn together. How can she learn this if you don't show her how to love, by loving her? And by truly loving yourself? This is a job you can't get fired from - it's the most important job you'll ever have to do. And in the process of learning to do it well, you gain your own soul.
All of life is how we choose to look at things - that will always change our feelings toward something, or someone. Our own perceptions. Do we see that the glass is half full of water, or half empty? Do you see X as awful, soulless, scary, or fiery, powerful, able to survive despite difficulties?
Well, I wanted to share these thoughts with you. I truly hope this information, these questions, help you. You have taken on a big life lesson - I know that you have the strength to do it well. God bless you as you walk this road.