Monday, March 19, 2012

Exclusive ownership.

One week ago, before any of the recent crisis with my loved one kicked into high gear, Sean and I had a huge fight.

Over the course of our ensuing "discussion" I complained that he didn't acknowledge how stressful and physically painful our adoption process has become for me. I ranted for minutes at a time about all that *I* have done to prepare (y'all knew that would come up again, right?), all the stress that *I* experience each morning as I fret over whether or not our EP will be submitted, all the fears *I* have about YH's future if he doesn't receive intervention/therapies during this critical age window...

And when the rant was done I sat seething waiting for him to apologize, to bend over backwards to soothe me.

And instead he said "You can't even acknowledge that this is painful for ME TOO."


He's right. I was so wrapped up in my own pain that his pain didn't even register with me. I felt like I had exclusive ownership of the pain associated with YH and our adoption. I felt I had earned this ownership through the copious amount of worrying and energy I've devoted to the adoption over the last 14 months. I desperately wanted someone else (ie: Sean) to help me carry the burden of this pain and worry yet I was unwilling to give him the emotional space to do so.

It was a good reminder and much needed BEFORE my loved one's relapse set off a storm of dysfunctional behavior amongst those of us who love him/her.

When you carry shame or guilt about your loved one's addiction it is easy to succumb to a victim mentality. It is easy to let the feelings of guilt overwhelm you to the point where you can't let anyone else in. The pain is yours and yours only. No one else could possibly understand HOW MUCH this hurts you and so you nurture your pain and cradle it and bury it underground with you. And you definitely don't let anyone else near you to share the burden.

And when somebody else tries to lay claim to the pain, this pain that you have EARNED with your tears and worries, you get MAD. And you fight it--you try to assert your ownership claim with snaps and snarls until everyone else just LEAVES YOU ALONE.

And they will leave you alone. A lack of empathy or understanding, a practice of hoarding pain, is a surefire way to drive people from you. It will be just you and your pain, feeding off of one another in your fortress of despair.

I'm not going to let that happen to me. I'm not going to let the pain win. It needs to be brought into the sunlight. It needs to be talked about and passed around so that my friends and family can say "Let me help you with that". And as it gets passed around it will lose its power. And it may still be there, but it won't control me.

I want my kids, especially my daughter, to see that you can be sad and angry and that is ok. But you work through it, and you find a way to live in spite of the pain. You do not let the pain stand between you and LOVE.

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