Today is my daughter’s 16th birthday. For reasons of her own, she hasn’t been living with me since January and as of mid August is no longer communicating with me.
For the last 8 years I have baked her a birthday cake, which we would eat for breakfast as a special treat, and cupcakes for her to take to school or cadets. It felt very odd this week not to bake those cakes. So today when I was struggling with the reality of where we are, as opposed to my hopes and dreams of where we would be when I adopted her 8 years ago, I decided to bake some cupcakes anyway.
Ironically, while I’m a fantastic baker I’m still learning how to adjust my baking to Canadian ingredients having moved here from England 13 years ago. Additionally, as I’ve also moved almost every year I have had a new oven to deal with each time. This year was the first year, since immigrating to Canada, that I have a gas oven again which I greatly prefer over electric. As a result of the different ingredients and ovens, and my desire to do something different each year, almost every one of her birthday cakes had to be baked twice.
This year was no exception. The cupcakes looked perfect, just slightly undercooked so I put them back in the oven for another minute or two. I mis-timed it. They turned into something more closely resembling very badly made butter tarts!
This year, I didn’t start over. There was little point. There’s nobody to give them to and it had taken everything out of me to make the dozen that I had. At least I didn’t have the 4 dozen to make that I usually do!
The exercise of making them though helped me through the day. I may not be able to celebrate with her in person, but I was still able to have part of what had become a tradition for me surrounding her birthday.
Maybe, I subconsciously deliberately let the cakes go to far? I’ve not had anything else over-cook since having my gas oven so the timing of this was definitely ironic at least.
I don’t know.
What I do know is that her choices have led us to a position where I have no control, and that there is nothing I can do about it, even before I got sick, let alone now.
So the mantra for my life has become…
“It is what it is”
I also have to frequently remind myself of the Three C’s from Al Anon:
Accepting this has been exceptionally hard for me. I’ve always believed that I could achieve anything if I just worked hard enough. For the most part, that has worked out extremely well for me.
However, I can’t change other people. Regardless of how much effort I put in.
I can only change my reaction to them and how they act.
So I’m practising radical acceptance. Accepting something doesn’t mean condoning it, or agreeing with it. It just means that I have stopped fighting it.
I’ve stopped fighting the fact that my daughter is not with me for her 16th birthday. That the hopes and dreams I had for this day are nothing like the reality.
I’ve stopped fighting her choices. While I understand that Reactive Attachment Disorder is most likely driving her choices and behaviour it doesn’t change the consequences of the decisions and actions she has taken. She may be a minor still, but she is very smart and has understood consequences and sequencing as long as I have known her.
I hope, and pray, that there is an opportunity for us to rebuild a relationship in the future. For despite it all, she is my daughter and I love her, always and forever.
In the meantime I’m accepting how sick I am. That living inside my own home, rarely able to go out, is my new reality. I’m learning to make the most of it. It may take me all week to do it – but the main living areas of my home will be clean at one point in that week (well, the dog hair will be swept up, the laundry done, and the dust wiped away at least – probably not at the same time!).
If all I can do, is take care of myself then that is what I will do. My personality is such that when I do something I do it to the very best of my ability. It’s time to apply that trait to this situation.
So I will continue to try to keep to a routine, to eat as healthily as I can, to make sure that Kai gets trained as much as I can manage, that he and Molly get exercised even if only on the doggy treadmill, and that I work on increasing the amount of time that I exercise each day.
Talking of which, I am up to 10 minutes of active exercise on the Wii!! Though my weight is still going up and not down. I hate the side effects of steroids!
Regardless, it’s time for me to go and do today’s exercises. While I step, hula hoop or slalom, my mantra will be running through my head….
It is what it is.