It may go against everything you think you've learned about waking up to who we really are Dave, DON'T sit passively - BE THERE fully, not as her 'father', as another full human being.Dave said: As I am editing this post, my daughter just sent me a cellphone photo of a rattlesnake she encountered on her hike, with the comment, "Almost ate me." So I guess she is out there experiencing life while I am sitting at home worried that she has no water and will be seriously lacking salt. But how does a father sit passively and watch her do this to herself?
She's saying 'Dad, look at me!!' Just like a toddler wobbling on two wheels when the trainer wheels come off. She's not a 'depressed teen' she's a fully fledged human being experiencing a wide range of experiences and emotions and learning from them.
How did you get through the first time she fell over? We get a fright, then it settles and we absorb it, grow with it.
Goodness, if it hasn't happened yet the first time a 'true love' breaks her heart it will break your heart in two! It happens!!
My number one suggestion is likely to go counter to what you might think of awake and loving / compassionate to self and other living.Rereading this thread after many days have passed is helpful. The passage above struck home. Jen, my daughter is so angry, we don't have a safe place together anymore. She mopes around, says angry and hurtful things (that thankfully I have learned to let bounce off), and waits for an answer. Right now she is out on a hike in the heat, with no water bottle-this is self-harming behavior consistent with her eating disorder. The bad news goes on and on.smiileyjen101 wrote:
And, if anger erupted so be it, we learned to be each other's 'safe place' where no offence would be taken and held against the other; if frustration at the distance between our reality and expectations exploded, so be it, we cleaned up the mess afterwards; and if tears fell - this was really sweet, really beautiful... we acknowledged them, honoured them, we would say either 'Don't mind me, I'm just 'leaking, it happens' (sh... it happens, often when we would least desire it), or recognise that the dam wall of sorrow was at its breaking point and letting the river of tears flow freely. In time we learn that it won't really drown us, it just feels that way.
I wish we had a safe place together. How can I create that with her again? I am listening more and talking less, but the lack of response from me frustrates her, and nothing I do say helps.
Put another way, how can I help her shed some anger?
Don't let her angry and hurtful expressions 'bounce off' - hold her accountable for them, and test the truth of them with her. Only then will she (and you) be able to accept, change or discard the things she is angry about. A second benefit is that she will stop using you as her refuge tip for her frustrations, and you will be able to stop seeing her as a victim of her life experiences instead of a powerful survivor of them.
It will mean you will both have to step up and be honest with your selves, and with each other. Honesty is the highest form of love.
Anger is merely the natural emotional expression of No Thank You - often with passion. To stop the flow of that passion distorts it - builds it into offence, rage, regret or retribution against self or other/s; or re-routes it in projection and making it a 'flag' that recreates those emotions in some other situation;
or buries it - try burying the wind or the rain and see what happens.
What is it that she's saying No Thank You to?
What might you - if honest - also say No Thank You to?
Beyond the 'No Thank You' when the flow is distorted is expressions of rage, revenge, retribution - that if not accepted (embraced & expressed awarely) can negatively impact on self and/or others. They are expressions of emotional energy usually born of frustration with what is in the distance between our expectations and reality.
If they have not been expressed in the 15 second No Thank You flow we cannot learn from them. If we continually do this we typically shove them into our hearts and/or minds like pebbles in our pockets. Eventually our pockets are full.
It's really helpful to use this analogy as an exercise - sit quietly and 'reach into your pocket' and pull out one pebble at a time (mostly they'll be expectation ~ reality differences) turn them over and put them into three categories - accept, change or discard.
Accept might be acknowledging and coming to peace with it, that no thing could (really) be done differently within our and others' awareness, capacity or willingness at the time. Let the resistance to it go. It is what it is, and there is much peace to be had in accepting it.
Change - realistically action is only within our awareness, capacity and willingness to act. If it could be changed which one is not being employed to its fullest potential - willingness is the hardest one for us to admit to ourselves. If we are unwilling to do something then we are choosing ... then it moves it to the Accept pile.
Discard - sometimes we carry things around that were just a misunderstanding or a difference of perspectives - the toy or attention we didn't get as a child, or negative insults or punishments does not necessarily mean we are not worthy and fine just as we are. Being punished or ridiculed for expressing emotions within our awareness and capacity does not mean we cannot or should not express them.
I used to hold a very strong self belief that I didn't even know I had, and was still impacting on me, until I reached into my pockets and found a pebble with 'you are selfish' for wanting to keep anything nice for you, in it. This self belief came from two incidents with my mum when I was four years old, and looking back at them - she meant no such thing as I believed her words and actions meant about me.
Anyone will benefit from it and likely be amazed at the pebbles we've been carrying around with us.
My daughter's notion that her sister's death was somehow 'personal' was another such misunderstanding and a very hardened pebble in her pocket. Some things just happen and no amount of logic or reasoning can satisfy all the questions and 'what if's' and 'if only's' within us. When she had reached her full capacity in this misunderstanding it broke - it broke and all the BS 'should' and 'should not' false expectations flowed out like a sewer. These break through moments are never reached by avoidance or suppression, one has to be willing to stand in the flow of it.
Your daughter will have many such pebbles that are misunderstandings or conflicting and pendulum swinging emotions and beliefs about where and when it's okay to express them. In some ways she already does feel safe with you, even if she is not expressing her anger 'positively' - it's you that doesn't feel safe in expressing your own anger or emotions with her. Living awarely does not mean turning life, or your self down. It just means responding to things with awareness.
Again in Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross' book Death is of vital importance, the discussion on allowing the flowing of natural emotions assisting in not distorting them, is really helpful. For those who bury their 'no thank you' angers they build up and explode or roll into tight knots in our bodies and minds - imagine someone with emotional constipation - it's debilitating. She used to have a room full of mattresses and pillows and big sticks and she'd provoke some of her clients like an emotional laxative and send them to the pillow room to scream and bash to their hearts content - until their body and mind were free from all the built up anger (pebbles) that had not been expressed.
I tend to express mine verbally, so I tended to RARRRGHGGHGHGHGH! Loud. Then I'd sit down and write - I have a shite load of journals I should probably destroy sometime and sent quite a few 'strong' emails & letters that effectively say 'No Thank You.' and highlight possibly unconsidered consequences of others' actions.
My daughter tends to express hers physically, so we set up a punching bag that she could bash to her heart's (exhausted) content. Initially, I must warn, like riding a horse that's been unridden for awhile it can be a wild and scary ride. When my daughter first started punching the bag she did it until her knuckles (even inside boxing gloves) were bruised and raw. Like lancing a boil there was a lot of frustration needing to come out.
From what you've said she wants you to turn up, not to behave as if nothing is being said, as if nothing is upsetting you (or that it doesn't matter) - it clearly is upsetting you. Honesty is the highest form of love. In some ways honestly expressing anger can be a little like riding that horse that hasn't been ridden for awhile (or ever), it's electrically charged and if it isn't exercised freely and often it can come out like the bolting horse.
So leave room and express the No Thank You's the big and the little ones. Show her that it's okay to do so, and there are ways to do it that does no harm to others. If my daughter was being hurtful in frustration I would just say 'Ouch' and it was totally natural for my hand to flow protectively over my heart. She learned to say, I'm just venting, don't mind me. (as in it's not personal, it's not about you - it's just me venting).
It acknowledged my pain, it let her know that her behaviours were having an impact on me, that I actually was present with her, even if I didn't know what to do (or even if I should / could do anything) for her.
(sorry for taking liberty on my impressions... I 'think' I've been there, but I may be overstepping in perspective)
You'd be going through this - (struggle between independent & dependent) with or without her mother's death, but a few things happen with such an experience - one, what is there to fear now? The 'worst' has already happened. She's learned at a critical age for her emotional development and independent identity, that life really is impermanent and humans are not the be all and end all of the universe, we matter as much, and are as much a part of nature as anything else. That's why she can be grateful for what she has, but that nothing really matters.
I'd call that honest, not depressed. It's based on realism. Sure the idealist in us wants to sugar coat it and make it prettier than it really is - the balance is not by being at either end of the swinging between realism & idealism, it's in the middle, it's both, not either or. Our natural state is in the middle with 'relative' trips to positive and negative. What is relative for one, again is within their own awareness, capacity and willingness.
So I'd tell her, (and you) it both does and it doesn't matter - equally, and in different moments we are anywhere from extreme does matter, to extreme doesn't matter. Not one without the other. It does and doesn't matter. And sometimes when we're on one side of a situation we may not know that it does or doesn't matter for others, or in other ways.
She's expressing one extreme in frustration, and another in 'depression' and in the middle, she's grateful. We all go through the middle (balance) to get to the other side.
So she's not a 'depressed teen' she's a teen (a person growing their wings) who experiences depression.
We can choose to abdicate our awareness and swing between the does-doesn't matter either way. In some ways the notion of pretending that something doesn't affect us - the letting hurtful things 'bounce off' is also towards an extreme of 'doesn't matter', and obviously it is over something that does matter, to her. Hence the distance at that time between the two of you.
She's actually learned that we, not one of us, is CEO of the universe. That life is unpredictable and not always fair, or as we would hope it to be - and even with that, here we are.
She's lost her Mum, she's lost her innocence and naivety,the lack of response from me frustrates her
she wants her Dad back....."and waits for an answer".
The answer may not be the Dad you once were - you are as changed by your experiences as she is by hers. She needs to know who you are now too.
A conversation might be an honest one about what has changed. Not just in your grief, but in her growing up in a turbulent time, your swinging between your realities and your expectations.
Let her in and renegotiate the boundaries and the dynamics of your relationship.