They have had a position for a program manager open for over a year; at no time did they even remotely consider that I would be happy and willing to work for them. They never considered that, for me, working for them would be the very likely best possible way to show them how much I care about them, their growth and success, and in very particular, that I could see my daughter achieve and attain all the things I ever wanted for her, ever hoped for her, and many I could not conceive of due to my own, unfortunate experiences.
I did not approve of the match, but since it was made anyway, I have accepted it in the spirit it was done… just as she has the right to choose for herself, I have the right to disapprove. I do not have to be accepting of someone who is so very, very clearly unaccepting of me, nor do I have to submit to treatment that makes that mindset and motivation toward me intrusive and negative.
It was my own naiveté that continued to think it possible to have any beneficial, positive relationship given the complete lack of care, empathy, honesty, or openness with which she has consistently treated me since the age of 14.
Just as it was my own naiveté that continued to think it possible that my daughter could conceive that I wanted to be present for the birth of my only grandchildren. Or at her marriage. Or pretty much anywhere in her life other than conveniently boxed and stored for access by telephone or email, but rarely anything more than the most superficially fleeting “drive-bys”.
Am I angry? A little. But I think I am by far the more bitter, hurt, and sad. I cannot but admit that, here, now, today, had I known the things I would endure, I would have chosen to place her by adoption than spend my blood, life, and all my energy. BUT… you must realize, this is said after 16 years of waiting only to have her say to my face that I’m not good enough, not proper enough, not trustworthy enough to be accepted in her life.
The irony of her plaint that I am not more giving is a profound thing.
Imagine, if you will, a vacuum-extracted bag in which I once floated; the contents were myself and my own life’s energy, made of the twin fuels of intention and tenacity. I had very little more “for myself”, until very, very recently in life. I was ok with it – mostly because I kind of had to be, but also because I understood that it would be impossible to move through it to any potentially “better future” if I allowed myself to be mired by the emotions of it all.
I suppose I understood that I have the ability to be consciously directive and that, when I am consistent within myself about it all (honest in ways that never truly exist outside the human mind), I have the power to choose my path.
It is possible for me to love my daughter dearly and still disapprove of her choice of life partner.
It is possible for me to love my grandchildren dearly and still disapprove of their father.
It is possible for me to keep my boundaries and still have a beneficial and positive relationship with my daughter.
It is possible, through empathy and decorum, to perhaps even come to a different perspective about my son-in-law, in the fullness of time.
But I owe no one a guarantee and anyone who would ask it of me had better be offering their own in exchange (which, clearly, is not and will never happen).
When a relationship gets so thorny and impossible that leaving it behind is the only way to get relief, only a fool would insist on being naive.
I am so very many things, most of them decidedly unpopular with “the world” it seems.
But a fool?
Buddhism calls the themes of this particular briar-patch the “three poisons”: ignorance, attachment, and aversion.
All persons involved have their own, carefully cultivated ignorances.
All persons involved have their own, carefully nourished attachments.
All persons involved have their own, carefully protected aversions.
When we are unable to align these in mutually beneficial, positive, and nourishing ways, these poisons are nourished and suffering is ever and only the result.
Perhaps if one is realized enough, one can navigate such circumstances and situations skillfully. But I am definitely and most decidedly not realized enough, not skillful enough.
Further, in the name of what caring, empathy, honesty, and openness I profess to her and my grandchildren, right alongside what care, empathy, honesty, and openness I cannot profess to her husband, I must also accept and admit that I am unable to figure out a way to align that COULD be mutually beneficial, positive, and nourishing for ALL INVOLVED.
Which, ironically simplistically, means that in my pursuit of it, I am only creating suffering for everyone involved…. And who knows how many others indirectly, or how far afield karmic-ly.
Which brings me once again to the Buddhist parable of the hand in which rests the bird’s egg…. How easy to destroy?! How impossible to repair?! Given such choices, how could any justify doing anything other than nothing?!
Nothing is the hardest thing to do.
See? It’s paradoxical… the ultimate koan.
Peace. Joy. Contentment. Be.