Thursday, April 22, 2010

talking to my daughter..and admitting weakness

I had a big long blog last night on my phone while waiting for my daughter's soccer to end - but someone called and the Blogger ap didn't save ANY of I'll start from scratch, it's never as good the second time but bear with me:

I have a 16 year old daughter.  On the way to soccer last night, I struck up a conversation with her starting with "how much do you think I struggle with my weight?"  Her reply floored me.  She said that she noticed that I would get frustrated with my clothes sometimes but otherwise didn't notice much. 

I always figured that everyone could see my addiction, except me.  I've always assumed that it was obvious - like a neon sign flashing over my head.  And although I've have only recently admitted that it IS an addiction - I've always assumed that everyone around me could see that something was WRONG. 
But in hearing her answer - and trying to stand and look from the outside - I'm trying to determine what part of me kept this all so hidden.  And part of my struggle is that I HAVE kept it hidden. 
Utterly confused?  Me too...

So I decided that in order for my daughter to not go down the same path (I see signs but I may be projecting...), I need to be more transparent.  And the idea of that is hard.  Your mom is supposed to be your hero.  She's supposed to be strong and unflappable.  There is no mom-kryptonite - she is all powerful.  And while I haven't lived up to that exactly, yes, I am human, I am scared to death of openly admitting to my daughter that I am imperfect. 

Will she think less of me?  Value me less?  Will my 'confession' cast a shadow of doubt with her and her ability to trust me?  It does for myself. 

Knowing what I know about me, I DO see myself as 'less'.  Less trustworthy, less honest, less dependable.  I have a giant monkey on my back - and sometimes my addiction does take away from what I should be doing/thinking.  I don't always feel like I'm giving 100% when I SHOULD be.  I feel 'less'.

I try and give my children advice based on my experience.  But by experience, I usually mean my successes.  So how do I do that in this case?  I have NOT conquered my addiction.  It still lurks around every corner.  There are still days that it absolutely wins.  And I'm  unsure that I'll ever beat it.  I do not have that confidence.  I will win battles.  I HAVE won battles.  But the war?  It's still raging.  The outcome undecided. 

So how do I tell her about my flaws?  How do I brace myself for that look of hurt and betrayal that I feel is coming? 

But more than that - how do I NOT tell her, warn her, inform her??

She is the 16 year old version of me.  And I see some of the same behaviors that led me to where I am now.  And her father is abusive (but out of her daily life).  And because of that, she has low self esteem.  She has issues of self control around food, she has portion control issues, and she's been hiding some of her eating.  And I did ALL of that. 
The guilt is overwhelming. 

But our relationship is growing - with the help of counseling and lots of talking.  She's growing into a beautiful woman.  And I'm scared that the cloud over my head will be passed on. 
Scared isn't the right word - terrified.  Like seeing the oncoming headlights and not finding my voice. 

But this is important.  And like all things this important, I will do it.  This will be the hardest thing I've ever had to do as a parent.  Admit flaws.  Confess being human.  Reveal the softer side.  And trust that she will not get hurt in the process. 


Drazil said...

Wow - powerful. You are courageous and you can do this...and she'll be a stronger, more confident woman after you talk with her about it. If you don't, you may regret it and you don't want that. She's lucky to have you and to have a mom who sees the signs before it's too late. You should be proud of yourself for being present enough to care and see what she is going through. Good luck.

He Took MY Last Name said...

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than honesty at this point.

Having food issues myself and inheriting them from my mom and poor choices, I know how it feels. But you can help your daughter-and yourself- by being open and honest with her about your issues, and how you want the best for her. Also if she embarks on this healthy journey with you, she not only gets great life lessons but lots of time with you.

When I was 16 (only 7 years ago, mind) I had self esteem issues too. Its part of being a teenager. The best lesson my mom taught me about highschool was "its a world of its own, and once you get past it, then none of it even matters anymore." And its true :)

amandakiska said...

I wrote about concerns about my oldest daughter a while ago. Here's a link if you haven't seen it:

This is such a tough issue. Thanks for sharing how you are handling it.