Don’t Try So Hard

Our youngest daughter is still living at a community based treatment center. Yesterday we went out for a day pass for lunch and time in the community. To me, if someone truly wants to show change, wouldn’t they be on their best behavior?

Apparently not in the eyes of the young.

When I started conversation, the tone of voice was bitter enough to cut like a knife. It wasn’t that the wording was inappropriate- it was just as if I should know everything that’s going on in her life while she’s at the treatment center. Or possibly she’s punishing me because she believes it’s my fault she’s there- I’m not exactly sure as she’s not very forthcoming with her current feelings about us as a family.

While we were out shopping, she found out my oldest daughter will be shifting her therapy model from an individual therapist to more specialized animal therapy. She found out about this while we were shopping in a local mall. She instantly made it known that this was something she was supposed to participate in- and made my oldest feel bad about her good fortune.

As a result, we instantly ended the visit and went back to the treatment center.

It’s a shame as we are patiently awaiting consistent positive interactions with our youngest- but we wonder if she’s basically thrown in the towel to bother trying. She feels like we’ve given up on her- which we haven’t. So somehow she thinks it’s better to just give up then to forge a new path, look at us in a new light, and do whatever she can to show she wants to be the great young lady I know she can be.

The treatment center gets to see this behavior- to the point where she probably will achieve kid of the week status. She does what she’s told, doesn’t give any back talk to the staff, and keeps her behavior under control. What’s so stressful for her to achieve this same level of respect and responsibility in a family setting?

We spoke on the way back in the car with our oldest about what we can change and what we can’t. We welcome her back to our family with open arms. We want her to acknowledge the struggle and work on improving it. I’m aware of the fact that when you’ve been exposed at an early age to inappropriate ways of handling your anger, it’s difficult to overcome. But, I don’t believe it’s your destiny. I know plenty of people in the world who’ve been brought up in less than ideal circumstances and make successful, happy and safe lives.

Tomorrow will be another day. We probably will receive a phone call from her, as she wants to make sure we are still thinking of her and love her. How can we get the love from a distance to draw us closer when we are all physically together? She has to have the will to want it. Actions speak as loud as words. Eye contact, body language, happiness around us, and expressing your feelings even when you are hurt matter.

If I could give her any advice right now, it would be to not try so hard to force things. Take life as it comes and do what you have to do to rejoin the family. Learn, listen, and then love as you can. The past does not dictate your future- unless you want it to be.

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