Daughter has been with Boyfriend now for three weeks. This is the longest she has been able to maintain a relationship with a male. She tends to decide the guy is abusive and panic; a remnant from the abuse she suffered in her birth family. I talked to her therapist this morning about whether it was time to grant them more freedom. We decided that I would know when the time is right, and that as long as she continues to come and check in with me several times over the course of a 90 minute date, she still needs me close at hand setting clear boundaries.
Boyfriend thinks they should be able to have dates more often than once a week. They really don’t see that much of each other at the workshop, softball practice, and games, so they need more time together. At least, that’s their argument. Daughter is both excited and terrified by this request for more time. As I listened to her go between insisting they needed more time together and thinking that she should just break up with him now, I realized just how terrified she is.
I told her that I would consider their request on a case by case basis. One minute that was fine and fair, the next I was being too hard on them, and then she wasn’t sure she could handle the extra time. It is interesting to watch her struggle with this. There was a time when the entire struggle would have been internal, and I would have had to guess at what was going on and why she was acting out. Now, though, she talks about it and I can literally see her struggle with this. She storms off ranting, and then quickly comes back apologizing. She wants to quit and her life sucks, and then she’s asking if they can go to dinner and a movie.
It’s exhausting to watch, and it must be even harder to live. I feel sorry for Boyfriend, because I’m sure at some point he’ll be on the receiving end of some of this, and he’ll have no idea what prompted it or what he did wrong. He won’t have done anything wrong, of course. It was her birth family who did things that were terribly wrong to a toddler over 18 years ago.
The thing that has always impressed me about Daughter, though, is her refusal to give up. She will announce she can’t do something and storm off, but she is quickly back determined to try again. I admire her courage and determination. I don’t know how long this particular relationship will last. I do know, though, that it is another step on her journey of healing.