Hope and I have had a lovely holiday break. I have really, really worked hard to use this time to focus on attachment, since it is something we’ve struggled with so much this fall. We did fun things, we watched movies, we went to the gym together. We made sure that we did our little family’s made up traditions (and now that we’ve done them 2 years in a row, they are *officially* traditions!). For New Years we had a 3 hour dance party using YouTube videos from songs we like.
I managed to keep my cool except for two times. It’s been a good two weeks.
Like a lot of people, I am really reflective during this time of the year. I work on my vision board, set goals (not really resolutions), and figure out what to keep and what to keep.
At the risk of sounding hard on myself, I really, really, have a lot of room for improvement on this parenting thing. I’m a bit of a hot head. I also neglected myself a bit this year on the self-care tip. What can I say, it’s easy to get sucked into the daily routine of life. When I’m run down, I’m tired, I get sad, then resentful, then suspicious and it’s all downhill from there.
Last night at our fancy NYE dinner, I asked Hope to list all the good things that happened in 2015; her initial response was that more bad things happened than good things. Hope always defaults to the negative, so I insisted that we spend some time reflecting on our happy times. The list ended up being pretty long, and it was a fun exercise.
Then I asked her about those negative things. When she rattled off her list, I quickly realized that most of the negative things were about our relationship and our struggles. It was tough to hear, and it was heartbreaking to know how much I contributed to her struggles. Some of it is just regular teen stuff, but other stuff…well it’s trauma stuff, it’s attachment stuff, it’s love stuff.
And it’s hard to overcome barriers to success with Hope because she sees the world through a One and Done kind of lens. If she tries and fails, she concludes that it can’t be done. Failure is terrifying, and when failure is scary, just trying becomes a set up to fail. So, I have to drag her kicking and screaming to try anything new, even things that will make life for us better. Risk for Hope never seems to mean possible reward.
We talked about what we wanted to be different in 2016. She didn’t want to list anything because, well, in her mind it wouldn’t make a difference. Weren’t we already trying? Hadn’t we already failed? Couldn’t we just resign ourselves that our current state was our permanent state? According to her calculus, this less than desirable state is better than previous states, so while it’s not great, it’s too risky to attempt to make it better.
But we will improve. This is a journey. There is a lot of building that has to happen here; a lot that can and will happen here. At this point, I just want to prove her wrong; I want to show her that our life together can and will continue to improve. I just have to help her continue to stretch her ability to trust that the world won’t end after a few setbacks.
And so we begin 2016 with a new mission: continuous improvement. We will just keep pushing forward. She will learn to do her own hair and to do a proper smokey eye. I will practice better self-care and work on decluttering the house. We will focus on attachment and loving one another. We will learn to trust each other. We will learn to try without fear. We will stumble, and sometimes we will fail, but we will learn to always just try to push towards personal and family improvement.
2016 will be our Year of The Try.