Today, a Reader asks Jeanne a question about a relationship.
I have a question about relationship. I thought I was doing OK at letting go of my ex, the father of my 10 year-old girl. But recently all my sadness and anger about our unsuccessful relationship, and particularly my unfulfilled desire to raise our daughter together, has been coming to the surface.
He lives on the other side of the country and wants to come visit over the Christmas holiday with his new girlfriend and is asking me to accommodate them in the guestroom of the co-housing community where I live, which is basically an extension of my home. I am considering instead seeing if they can stay at a neighbor’s who will be gone for the holiday so I do not have to interact much and at the same time allow my daughter to spend time with them in their own space.
Bottom line, I am experiencing turmoil, jealousy, and self-doubt at the choices I have been making and as a result I feel stuck and have not been moving forward in many ways: romantically, financially, and professionally.
This man has many wonderful qualities, but I did not feel treated with respect as a loving partner. I felt he was always pushing me away and having conditions set upon how to be together. I too recognize that I could have let down my pride and tried harder to meet some of his needs.
Part of me knows there are lessons to be learned and having this new situation is an opportunity for growth. But these base feelings keep coming up, like he’s on his best behavior with his girlfriend because he doesn’t have to work out the kind of challenges that came up with me.
It feels like he’s been resentful towards me since I was pregnant, and the only thing that could have changed that would have been if I’d had or made a lot of money to quell his financial fears.
I love being a mom, and I also know that my daughter needs her Dad. I can’t just bail, and I don’t really want to, but this is uncomfortable. How can I see the higher truth in all of this?
My Dearest Virginia, this is a very sticky situation and I see that you are faced with much turmoil regarding your own feelings and the respect you have for the father of your daughter. It is not quite clear that he sees you in quite the same light that you see him. I detect a slight arrogance that underlies his usual presentation and this aspect is the grit that causes you to reject his presence in your life. Does that ring true?
Underneath your respect is also a request for him to grow up and be an adult, equally respectful of you, as you raise your daughter much of the time alone. How can you resolve within your self your own issues of feeling abandoned by this man who now seeks to parade in front of you? You must side with your daughter on this in order to maintain your adult self, your adult behavior, and your adult presence.
You are clearly being shown that, as you say, your desire to raise your child together with this man will go unfulfilled. Can you accept that is how it will be, for all three of you, not just you? Such is the truth and it is true not only for you, but for him and your child as well. It cannot be denied. I do not say, “Make the best of it,” for that is an old adage, but what I do suggest is that you turn to your daughter and ask her how she feels about this. What would she like to do with the situation that is now being presented? Ask her if she does indeed want to spend time alone with her Dad, or does she wish you to also be present?
I pose the possibility for the sake of the authenticity of her feelings. Then I ask that you have a conversation with your inner child and ask her if she can handle whatever answer your daughter requests. It is my contention that you may not fully appreciate the position that your daughter is putting your inner child in, until you go deeply to that inner child and find out what she is feeling. Does that make sense to you?
I find that no matter what the resolution of your difficulty may be, so will you be faced with feelings of guilt, sadness, and fear that no matter what you want will go unfulfilled. Reject not the position you are placed in now. Reserve time for inner work in order to find balance in this tricky situation. Your calm and centered self, with an ear to your little girl, both your young daughter and your inner girl, will offer you the truths you need in order to more fully accept, but also understand your situation.
What then do you do with all of the answers you receive? For they will at first appear to simply add to the dilemma, but I suggest that if you release control of the situation so will it resolve as it should. Your attempts to figure it all out ahead of time, to control the placement of all the players in the field, does not allow for progress to be made. And progress is what you must look forward to in order for this situation to evolve.
This is a good time to let the pieces fall where they will, to throw them into the air, relinquishing your desire to manipulate all the feelings that are emerging as you plan this event. Remind your self often that you are doing this for your daughter’s sake. You are not doing this for a get-together with your ex, as you call him. Nor are you doing this under false pretenses to bring you together as a family. It is clearly shown that there is no prospect for such a future, and this truth must you accept, though it hurts you deeply and bothers you no end that your daughter must live apart from this father who feels his duty, but not to your standards.
Release him from your expectations, My Dear, and see what happens. But you must do some inner work on your self in order to reach a place of gracious detachment, a detachment free of judgment, resentment, and jealously. This is not an easy thing to do, but you have some time to throw up your arms, releasing all the pieces of the puzzle to fall where they may. Then focus on the wants and desires of your daughter, for her sake alone, without your own agenda or need to push away your own feelings.
In order to reach a place of gracious detachment must you allow your self to be vulnerable, to experience the little girl in your self, in order to better understand the feelings your own stoic little daughter must also deal with. You must own your own feelings; not as regards your ex, but as regards your own process of recapitulation. Only in confronting the self will you be able to release your issues regarding this man who so obviously needs and wants connection with his daughter.
Your place must be one of calm reserve, resolution, and quiet, as you allow the two of them to experience time together. But you must not send them off to each other burdened with a package that belongs to you alone. Remove your feelings about this man from their meeting. I realize this is quite a challenge, as you have spelled our quite clearly what your expectations have been. And you do truly desire, as you state, for them to spend time in their own space. This space may not be a literal space, but a space cleaned of the issues you and this man carry together.
If you, on your part, sweep out your turmoil, your jealousy, and your self-doubt regarding this man; achieving a place of resolution that involves gracious and mature detachment; so will you eventually find that the debris, the grit that has formed into quite a big chunk of resentment between you, will break apart into quite a lot of tiny dust particles that will simply blow away on the wind as you make the choice to clean house.
You ask for the higher truth in this situation, but really what you must find is the inner truth of your little girl self, who asks you to resolve issues of the past still causing trouble and turmoil in your life. It is too easy to simply say, “Get over it,” or “Move on,” My Dear One. This is a process that will indeed require quite a lot of house cleaning, inner housework, so to speak. I know you will have quite a time releasing all that you hold inside you, for you think of your self as strong, capable, and powerful, as you have had to take charge and live a life with your daughter that did not fulfill your dreams. But in releasing old dreams, in allowing your self to release your inner child to feel what she must and truly desires to feel, so will you find your true power. And it will not be a firmly controlled power, or a well thought out ahead of time power, but it will be a soft yet mighty strength, a beautifully gracious caring that will allow your inner child to accept her true energetic self, anointing the grown up Virginia with the truth of who she really is and needs to be in the future.
I hope that I have offered you some good advice as you allow your self to go forward without fear into this holiday time. I do recommend that you listen quite closely to what is being spoken by your inner child and by your young daughter. Listen with your heart. Release it from your firm grasp so that it is not squeezed and held back from expression of truth. Your little inner girl would like you to let your heart be free to really feel and hear what she has to say, but this will not happen until you release your fist and all that you hold so tightly packaged in it. Let it all fly free, My Dear One.
Open your fist and fling free your clutter and turmoil, allowing the little ones to speak their truths. You may not know at all what they truly feel, though you think you do. But those are just old ideas that have clearly proven too old-fashioned to work in this new and changing world. It is time to transform, My Dear Virginia, and allow your truths to be released, freed, and changed into a new you.