For someone with abandonment issues, going through such a situation is like going to emotional graduate school!
These are some things I've learned:
- I can't make an adult do what I want her to do, even if I think it's the absolute right thing.
- Working myself into a tizzy doesn't mean I'll get the results I anticipated.
- Life doesn't stop when a loved one gets sick.
- This is not the time to run out of vitamins.
- Superwoman is not an effective role for extended periods of time.
- No matter how independent I've been, there are times when a team works much better.
The biggest thing I've learned, however, (which has freed me in a way I can't describe) is that I don't have the power to decide another's fate. For most of my life I have operated under the illusion that if I figure things out and do the right things, then I will somehow make a difference in the outcomes of others.
Abandonment issues usually start when we are children, when we felt if we had done things differently, we would have held onto something. Or we felt if we could get control of things and/or people, we would be okay. People with abandonment issues, therefore, go through life trying to orchestrate circumstances in an infinite number of right ways to get the right responses. We make the best cheerleaders, gophers, hand maids, martyrs, etc. It's often a thankless task, and one can easily lose oneself in the process.
Why is it thankless? Why is this way of being in the world not a good thing?
Because everyone has his or her own vision, needs, strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and desires. People have their lives and circumstances, and they don't belong to us. Many of us who've had abandonment issues are codependent-- which means we see ourselves as a solution even when we aren't. Our inner need to keep everyone safe, well, secure, etc., colors our ability to see the boundaries between ourselves and others. We jump into overdrive trying to make things work. We can miss all the signposts along the way.
What are the signposts?
- We simply aren't in other folks' immune systems.
- We don't control their intrinsic motivation.
- We are not privy to their emotional radar.
- We have no ability to see their lives from their unique perspective.
This crisis of being with my mother during this illness has taught me volumes. I am now much freer psychologically because I'm more in touch with where my power begins and ends. I am released from a fear that I haven't done enough to make things turn out the way I want/need them to. I've learned to let life be-- knowing I'm not the one holding things in balance. There is a freedom in being willing to admit that I sometimes don't know what to do, and that sometimes there is nothing to be done. There is freedom in knowing that sometimes I just have to watch and wait.
It's a new and different perspective for the formerly codependent, abandonment guru.