Being an empathetic person has its benefits and drawbacks. One thing we tend to have issues with is boundaries- knowing where we end and the other person begins is a blurry line for us. We not only can sense what other people feel, we tend to take responsibility for their lives more than is healthy for either of us. Couple that with being a parent and it leads to difficult situations. Our children are literally parts of ourselves, detached in space but still genetically linked. Bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. Then, they become adults and what are we supposed to do? We can’t watch them suffer, but we can’t live their lives for them. All we can do is offer our advice, sit back and hope they’ll take it.
A couple of weeks ago Kayla was getting a little overwhelmed with the stress we’re all dealing with now. First, I am SO proud of Kayla I can’t put it into words. As difficult as this has been for Tywana and me, it has to be worse for Kayla. She was closer to Shayna. Coming here when Shayna isn’t here has got to be even harder for her than it is for us. She doesn’t have the experience we have. She’s dealing with becoming an adult, going to school, dealing with roommate issues, the pressures of an incredibly tough major and the passing of her best friend/sister. Anyone going through that and functioning at any kind of level at 19 years old is to be applauded. But, I knew she was having a particularly rough couple of days so I offered her some help. Kayla has only done a little counseling. Some here, some at school. She would not meet with the family counselor Tywana and I met with. She doesn’t read the books we read or listen to the Podcasts. When discussing school a few weeks ago she had told me about the stress of the grades. She said she loves learning, but she doesn’t like the pressure of the grades. In my studies, I came across a program, a workbook and video series on grief. So, I sat down with her and told her how proud I am of her, told her I am here for her to talk whenever she wants. There is a fine line between offering help to her and pushing too hard. I’m normally pretty good at reading people, especially Kayla. I told her that I had come across this course on grief that I think might be good for her. It’s an opportunity for her to study something that will be directly applicable to her life and with no pressure of grades. I mentioned she told me she likes that. I looked at her face and listened to her voice for signs to see whether she was just saying what she thought I wanted to hear or if she was really interested. She told me she was interested and seemed to be sincere. Normally, I can tell. I told her I would order it for her and I did.
I ordered the book and it came in. It sat for a while. I told Tywana about it. She and Kayla agreed to do it together. More time went by. It still sat. I then mentioned to Kayla “You have tomorrow off. It’s time to sit down with the course and get started.” That’s when she finally told me “I don’t want to do it.”
OK. I can accept that. I have no choice but to accept it. Kayla is an “adult” now. She has to deal with things her own way. The way Tywana and I are getting through this is working for us. For us, grief is hard work. In fact the course combines a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach with a continuing bonds outlook, but one of the things the creator of the course said is you only get out of CBT what you put into it. In other words, it’s work. What I have to accept though is while that’s a very helpful approach for me right now, it’s not the approach for everyone. Maybe it’ll be for Kayla later, maybe not. It’s not my decision to make. That’s a hard lesson for a parent to learn.