I want to try to describe to you what is going on in our house. I had a lovely post last Monday about love on the move in our house. It is. But also, it is hard-won.
Friday afternoon I had my first counseling session. We talked a lot about the adoption and my perfectionism. She suggested some reasoning behind it and I did not connect the dots at all with what she said. But, spending the weekend with it, I see that it’s the truth.
My perfectionism is not so much a need for approval, although I do think that’s a resulting addiction of perfectionism. The perfectionism, at its roots, is a way to avoid negative emotions, both in myself and in others. I will go through hell and high water so you don’t get mad at me or be disappointed in me. I would not know what to do with such emotions.
I do not like feeling angry, out of control, disappointed, or sad. These are not ok emotions, I tell myself. I am a good girl. I will forgive quickly and have patience and move on. So I did the perfect thing, the right thing, instead of the true thing so no one felt anything bad.
This worked out nicely for everyone up until now because when I tried to be perfect, I got good grades, and put others first, and volunteered, and worked extra, and said nice things, and went the extra mile. They were happy, I was happy and we were all good. Except I wasn’t being true to myself. I was doing things I didn’t really want to do. I was angry inside and stuffed it all in because I didn’t know what else to do.
God forbid I would actually say no to a request or confront someone when they did something wrong. That might make them mad and that is not ok at all!
So here comes Jacob. He actually doesn’t care if I’m happy or sad. He has zero filter and enough issues that whatever he is feeling is coming out. There was no more room for me to manage his feelings. I’ve been trying to be a perfect mom with the perfect meal he likes and the perfect clothes and the perfect toys and I’ll be patient and kind and guess what? He still gets mad and frustrated and doesn’t do what I say. This makes me so entirely angry and I’ve been trying to stuff it down, really, but there was no more room for stuffing.
I feel like I’m imploding. My joy is gone. I can’t feel any good because I’m so busy stuffing the bad.
Sunday morning after the 3rd time telling him to do something and him ignoring him, I yelled a guttural yell I have never yelled in my entire life. Frankly, it surprised and scared me.
I’m not exactly proud of yelling, but I am proud for once in my life that the emotions on the inside matched the actions on the outside. At the very least, it was my truth in the moment.
And the big surprise to me was no one hated me the rest of the day. No one turned on me. In fact, everyone got their stuff together for the rest of the day.
I went to bed Sunday night in tears. I was trying to tell Scott all I was seeing—that Jacob is showing me who I really am. How he exhausts me and I’m not really sure I can do it. He tells me of course that I’m being hard on myself, but I feel like I have to be right now because I’m starting to wonder who I really am. And I don’t mean that in a way to say I’m lost and should I really be in this family and am I really Christian? I’m just truly wondering what life would look like if I wasn’t hiding from all the emotions.
I have to learn how to bring my true self to the table, not just with Jacob, but with everyone. I need to learn how to handle all the negative emotions in a healthy manner. I need to learn to feel the emotions first, actually.
I thought when we adopted that we’d be saving a little boy, but as it turns out, I think he’s saving me.