To quote Erma Bombeck

“Family – The Ties that Bind…and Gag!”

This was seriously light-hearted book, among several, about “normal” family dysfunction, and I enjoyed her writing and humor immensely, but didn’t relate to much of it, based on my own personal experience.I don’t really remember anything about this book, other than it was one of several that I read by Ms. Bombeck in the late 1980’s – early 1990’s when I was struggling to be a single parent and figure out how to not screw my child(ren) up as badly as I had been.  EPIC FAIL!!! To utilize today’s gaming vernacular ~ my efforts to do better by my two oldest children than had been done by me, has been less than successful.

I remember being interviewed as a teen mom graduating from a specialized high school for teen mothers and being asked what my definition of success was.  At that time, I only had one child, and believed I would have been successful if, when he reached the age of independence, he was further ahead in his ability to make good, healthy decisions and choices in his life.  I had this idealized hope and belief that knowing how I didn’t want to raise my son, and later my oldest daughter, meant that I knew how I wanted to raise them.  Being a single mom at 19, with determination, and no one other than myself to count on, I thought I had the answers and KNEW what was wrong with everyone else and the world around me.  I didn’t realize how deeply broken and wounded I was inside of my own mind, spirit, and emotions.  It was a major set-up for failure.

Today, my son informed me that he feels like I’m lying when I tell him I love him and my daughter says she knows I love her but that my priorities are wrong.  He’s 25 and she’s 18.  It breaks my heart.  I KNOW how much I love them as much as I KNOW that my codependence/relationship addiction, depression, and likely attachment disorder from early childhood, have contributed to my self & life destructive choices and have brought me to the point where I am struggling to do different and better for their little sister, who just turned 3, and still caught in the cycles that have shredded the relationships in my family for multiple generations.

Every day it is a struggle to get out of bed and go to work.  It is a struggle to be a positive and interactive parent for the youngest child.  I constantly feel like life should be over for me and that no matter what I think, say, or do, I’m condemned to repeat the same freaking mistakes over and over again and will eventually lose the love and respect of this precious little girl who loves me unconditionally.  I battle with trying to say and do the things that will show her my love and care for her, including my desire to have her grow up in relationship with her father and an intact family – which is something I’ve never known and neither have any members of my family of origin. Right now, all I can see is the destruction and damage in the lives of my two oldest children, our bent and broken relationships, and the never-ending tension/conflict in my relationship with the father of my youngest child.

In the midst of all of this, I’m trying to hold onto the biblical promise in Jeremiah 29:11 – New International Version (©1984) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Lord, help me believe that there is a hope and a future for myself and for my children.

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