When Will It Be Enough?

By: - April 17, 2012

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I want to read enough, study enough so I can ace parenting. The more I research and give myself; the more Elise pushes back with her emotions. When she says, “Nobody loves me…will you still love me forever…will you be here in the morning,” it feels like failure. It feels like all the work I’ve done and knowledge I’ve gained on attachment and parenting isn’t working. I feel defeated, but I can’t give up. I think maybe the next ten times I say I love you and reassure her of my stability will be enough. But maybe she will come back with her concerns, and it will feel like failure again. I think the feeling of failure stems from the lack of control I feel.

I have been reading Anatomy of the Soul, by Curt Thompson and he has this to say:

We have most valued knowing facts, knowing the ‘truth,’ and knowing that we are right…We have failed to see that this need to be right, to be rationally orderly and correct, subtly but effectively prevents us from the experience of being known, of loving, and being loved, which is the highest call of humanity…Knowing that we are absolutely right about a lot of things is very important to our survival and sense of well-being. That includes knowing or knowing things, about people. And about God. It is not hard to see why we are infatuated with knowing things in this way. It gives us the illusion that we are secure and in charge. We are no longer vulnerable. We believe we are safe, protected, and happy.”

I want to have gotten enough knowledge to handle every situation, to be in control. I want to manage Elise’s emotions in a way that is comfortable and not overwhelming for me – to have things under control, but it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, she just needs to cry every morning for the past 11 months because daddy went to work, and she misses him. Logically, this does not make sense to me; I mean he comes back everyday. So do I teach her to shove her feelings aside because I don’t want to deal with them or do I help her? Obviously, I help her. It is exhausting.

Thompson goes on to say some things about emotion:

  1. Emotion is something that you regulate and that regulates you.
  2. Emotional states are not influenced or created in isolation.
  3. Emotion is not debatable.
  4. While categorical emotions are universal across time, cultures, and gender, primary emotion does not always present itself in the same way.

Or in my words,

  1. I have to pay attention to my emotions and what I’m feeling.
  2. What I’m feeling affects those around me (including Elise).
  3. If Elise has been sad everyday for the past 11 months, then she’s been sad. I can’t argue with her over that.
  4. Elise is not going to express her emotions the same way I would (though that would make things easier for me).

I am still working my way through Anatomy of the Soul, but it is helping me understand myself so that I can better relate and understand Elise. It is exhausting and hard work, but at the end day, I do want to tell her as many times as she needs that, “I love her; I love her forever; And that I will be here in the morning.”

BTW, Curt Thompson (author of Anatomy of the Soul) will be the featured speaker at the 2012 Tapestry Adoption & Foster Care Conference on October 27, 2012.  Be sure to mark your calendars now to join us for this free all-day conference at Irving Bible Church.

Also Found In: A Mother's Heart, Challenges & Issues, Talking About Adoption, Tapestry Blog