If I could turn back time – an off-the-cuff joint.

“If I could turn back time” isn’t a wish to go back in time. To me, the latter is a jump of some significance – to the third grade or to 1653. The former is usually event-specific – I want a do-over for that one thing.

For instance, I would have held onto my hockey cards from 1982.

My estranged daughter texted me yesterday. I hope I have the right number, my old phone broke. I know you’re still very upset with me, but [my grandson’s] birthday is coming up and I’d like to extend an invitation. Or if you want to avoid seeing me we could arrange a meet-up at another time? There are a few more words, but this is the gist of it.

My first thought was, she’s opening up communication. My second thought was, before a birthday and Christmas? My third thought was, stop being such a bitch. Then I wondered if she was reaching out to the other people she’d cut off. Then I remembered that was not my business. Or is it?

It didn’t take long for anxiety and stressed panic to show up.

I thought about just ignoring it. It was already in my brain, however, so a non-response wasn’t going to save me, and I know how it feels to be ghosted (she said with some degree of smugness).

My first draft was a longish thing talking about her need for counseling. I deleted that. She’s a grownup, and if it sounded patronizing and lecturish to me…

But it’s harder to know what to do when I’m not in fixer mode. My first impulse was to jump on the opening and say “yes, of course, let’s never talk about any of this again.” So I reread some of the things she wrote, some of the exchanges that sent me crashing into a brutal albeit brief depressive episode (nice Michelle, try and get everyone on your side).

Even as I read, my brain is reminding me that she’s a child of trauma. There has been much. She is, however, an adult now and consequences are overdue.

I remind myself of how tense I can be around her, historically, so worried about making her upset or angry with me.

I remind myself that this isn’t the first time she’s cut me out of her life. This isn’t a good pattern for any of us.

I came up with this. It’s not a matter of avoiding you or of being upset. You said a lot of things. You also feel a lot of things. What happened will need to be dealt with. I’m not sure what to do and that’s the honest truth. But I hope you’re well, and that you and [my grandson] are doing well (red heart emoji). Not paraphrased.

I’ve been spiraling ever since. I sent a message to a friend and got a “hooray” with a celebratory emoji back. I suggested my feelings were complicated since she’d accused me of abuse (we had discussed it), and she backtracked, but the seed was planted.

I did it wrong. Did I do it wrong? Should I have ignored the past and said yes to the olive branch? But ghosting all of us hurt my grandson too, and what happens the next time I make her angry? Maybe I am too demanding (and too bold)? My friends seem to think so. They’re not such fans of me learning to say, “no.”

My daughter reaching out has triggered all kinds of things. I have no idea how things will turn out. People are finding it hard to adjust to a me that has boundaries. The temptation to cave is significant.

If I could turn back time, I’d leave that message unread. You don’t have to deal with what doesn’t exist in your world.

I hate being a grown-up.


8 thoughts on “If I could turn back time – an off-the-cuff joint.

  1. Damn, that’s hard, Michelle. I’m so sorry. What I love about what you did is that you went for the long view repair that if done will benefit you all, including your beautiful grandchild for many more years than a quick patch-up.

    But long roads are so hard and I hope that you get enough good signs and support to make it do-able and not so icky feeling. I’m sending all the goodness I can your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We always second-guess ourselves on the path not taken. This is a fool’s errand. Had you not sent a response at all, you’d be spinning out over whether you should have responded to allow a potential pathway forward. You can now only play the cards in your hand—it’s no use wishing for a different hand. Whether you made a mistake or not remains unknown, but you’re allowed to make mistakes. You cannot expect yourself to be perfect with all your emotions, responses, and learning how to assert and protect youself. Humans are messy.

    For what it’s worth (which is nothing, really), I’d have certainly responded, and it would have likely been more strongly worded than your response was. I think you did a beautiful job on the response.

    Maybe take the self-flagellation down a notch or two and show yourself a little grace? I think you deserve it. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this response. I desperately needed to hear it. I really have been spinning. And you’re right – there was no action that wasn’t going to set me off.
      I will try and be kind to myself today.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s hard knowing how to deal with situations like this. On the one hand, it’s an olive branch. On the other hand, you need to have firm boundaries and not sweep things under the rug. I hope things get better between you and your daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

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