R&R, or Relapse and Recovery

Did you enjoy my glowing report of the film screening at Rockland Parent Child Center? Well, it was all true! And of course Mamapalooza was fabulous! and Staten Island Film Fest Reloaded was fascinating! Exclamation points are all warranted!!

Here is the back story:

May was a Rough Month.

I must begin with an obvious problem. I admit that I feel happy when people like what I’m saying and agree with me. Yet my mission in life seems to be to speak things that some people don’t want to hear. Yes, you could predict some trouble there. Naturally, I’m working on losing my attachment to self and identity, and when I do, baby, wow, I’ll really be free!

In meantime…my post On Narcissism generated an ongoing stream of hateful comments, which I didn’t post but which nevertheless nibbled away at me. For example, comments like “You should do all your patients a favor by quitting your job and staying home to damage your child full-time” and “your daughter appropriately ignored your tedious self-congratulation” and “you used a bogus interpretation of research on therapy to justify taking your daughter to task for failing to serve your bottomless narcisstic (sic) needs” did end up bouncing around in my head.

Worse, I began to actually try once again to put my child’s needs before mine. (During a month of screenings and email forums and network opportunities, this was particularly challenging.) My daughter, at 11 years, responded sensitively by upping every ante. And is it just my town, or does every school have 6 performances/ceremonies/events that occur in May?
Proud Parents

Well, anyway I tried to do it all, and ended up crabby and miserable, failing to meet either of our needs. It was a rough rough month!

I recovered though. Reality knocked on my door and I let her in. Here’s how it happened:

  • I fell and required medical attention. “Wake up!” Reality said.
  • At a screening, a woman told me that she and her sisters got relief from their childhood misery only when their poor mother was working on an art project. “You aren’t alone,” Reality said.
  • I reread Jessica Benjamin (soon to be reviewed here but in the meantime let me say that she is brilliant and convincing in her argument that the Mother must be more than an object who meets the child needs).
  • After the amazing conversation following the RPCC screening, I rushed to my daughter’s spring concert, caught the end but missed her part. She wept publicly. Wept. Knife through the heart. And here’s where Reality really popped: Several mothers who witnessed the tears did not look at me as if I were a monster. Instead they said, “oh come on, [name of husband] never makes it. At least you had one parent there.”

I empathized with my daughter but I did not apologize. I asked if there was any way I could make her feel better without taking blame. We ended up just holding each other, both a bit sad and angry but close once again. I didn’t put anyone’s needs before anyone else’s. Isn’t it true that we are interconnected? Isn’t it true that all needs co-occur? Isn’t it true that we give what we receive?

If it is, then I can be UnMartyred.

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