Excruciatingly Painful Love
I am convinced that mothers are given an invisible cape to take home with their newborn babies. It comes with a matching blindfold and a set of ear plugs.
We use that cape every time our child needs rescuing, no matter how old they become. The blindfold and the earplugs come in handy when we do not want to believe what is happening, when our children make decisions that break our hearts. [ Read: Core of all Relationships is Spiritual ]
So exhausted was I over the past thirteen years, taking my cape on and off, that I may as well have simply left it on. It was used so often that it has rips, tears, and holes. It is frayed and faded. I have put it on in such a hurry, that at times I have had it caught in doors, stuck in my underwear, and wrapped around my neck.
When All Hell Broke Loose
Nearly 13 years ago, my beautiful, athletic, artistic, funny, quick-witted daughter took a very wrong turn in her life. (Out of respect for her story, I choose to call her Jordan). She left her safe, loving suburban life and made her way into a very different lifestyle from the way she was raised. [ Read: An Open Letter From a Single Mother to her Twins Children ]
Three years later, in August of 2004, she was shot by her ex-boyfriend. In a fleeting moment, I was thrust into a world that I never wanted to know. On the eastside of Lake Washington sat our peaceful home in Bellevue, Washington. That day I was on the other side of the lake in Seattle, in the ICU of Harborview Medical Center.
It was surreal. As I waited for Jordan to awake after emergency surgery the night before, memories flooded my mind, and my heart. The past three years had been a far cry from where I thought Jordan’s life would be. The girl that I once quipped would be “the first woman president” was lying in a hospital bed with nearly 50 staples holding her abdomen together, and a 9 mm bullet lodged in her abdominal wall. [ Read: A Letter from A Newly Married Daughter to Her Mother and Father ]
The day that I was certain, would be worst day of my life, was not – by a long shot. In the 10 years since the shooting, Jordan slipped further away. Today she is addicted to heroin.
Excruciatingly Painful Love
As Jordan’s life spun out of control, my heart broke a thousand times. No matter how many times I put on the Supermom Cape, I was powerless to save her from herself. I knew I needed to let her find her own way, but fear gripped me. If I pulled out the safety net, then she might…I could not bear to speak the words. [ Read: The Selfish Mother ]
I know about tough love. Sure, I said no to my children plenty of times. I made my teenagers stay home on a Friday night, because they had not done their chores or acted disrespectfully. Turning my back on my then twenty seven year-old daughter, who may have had nobody left in the world that was willing to go another round with her, was not tough love.
It was excruciatingly painful love.
Loving Myself Enough
When it comes to our children, mothers are willing to do just about anything. We would step in front of a speeding train to save our kids, or go without food to be sure they are fed. It does not matter how old they become, this is a bond like no other. Moms love their children, often too much. [ Read: Relationship Tips for Single Women ]
I finally did it. I took off the Supermom Cape, and put it away. It was so tattered that I really should have tossed it out, but instead I folded it up and tucked it away. I have no plan to get it out again, but somehow I could not get rid of it. There are a lot of memories with that cape, good or bad.
It turns out that the very thing preventing me from taking it off is what eventually caused me to remove it. Love.
My codependency, enabling (and whatever else you might want to throw in there to describe it) behavior was destroying me. And it was not helping Jordan. I took off my Supermom Cape out of love. I love Jordan too much to continue helping her self-destruct. I love her too much to continue controlling her journey, and keeping her from her school of life. [ Read: Diary of a girl. Based on a True Story. ]
Mostly, I found out that I love myself enough.
Written By: Valerie Silveira, a.k.a. Rockin’ Redhead