Transforming Relationships

Johanna, who is my daughter, is the antithesis of me. I have always been the typical clean freak, always. I am also very organized. I needed to be, I was raising a lot of kids. All of those kids had appointments: school, braces, counseling, sports and then us as a family.

Johanna was a different child. She chose to live her life in a tornado, touching everything and anything and never quite understanding boundaries. She never developed a boundary with me, and of course, that responsibility is mine because I named her after me.

She fascinates me, obviously, I write of her often.

Something in me has changed. I’ve learned acceptance. All of the time that I wanted Johanna to change and for all of the time, I wanted her to be like me, were wasted efforts. She is who she is and who she wishes to be. She is perfectly capable of making those decisions.

Her life has been very hard on her. She struggled for more than five years to gain custody of her child. She was relentless. It was more difficult for her because she waits until the last moment to get things done. She gets them done, but often, not on time. It’s been eighteen months since she won custody – and finally – normalcy is returning to her life.

JB Collection

Her car is full of the debris of living. I’ve never seen her drive a clean car. She knows where most things are and she will produce it for you, you just have to ask. In fact, that is the thing with her, you just have to ask. She will give you anything you wish for, if it is within her power. Johanna’s superpower has always been love.

Her mothering is nothing like my own mothering. On one of her trips here to Florida, she told her boys to pack toys in their back packs. She packed everything else for them in the luggage. I know lots of mothers who are much more practical and would not allow kids to pack their own back packs. She believes it fosters independence and also, the kids don’t blame her if something is forgotten. I appreciate how she values independence in her sons. She also spends most of her time with her sons. If she isn’t working, she is with her sons. She requires a great deal from her sons and yet, she requires nothing. She is an unusual mother.

Part of my evolution this year is realizing that because I am frustrated with her, I judge her harshly. I realized that I needed to suspend my judgment of my daughter. I need to let her be who she is without my opinion encroaching into her life.

I wanted to see her, not my opinion of her.

Authenticity suddenly seemed more valuable than ever. I’ve worked hard to stop my own judgments from clouding my relationships. I was hoping that this work would help my relationship with Johanna.

It did. I am surprised at how much removing past emotions changes judgment. When judgment changes, being in the now becomes possible. This is what happened for us. Our relationship transformed.

Intellectually, I know that because people love to be right, they will create beliefs out of bad experiences. If I didn’t have fun at a picnic, I decide that picnics are bad. I may always dislike picnics.

They say that this is a survival mechanism, we have to be able to recognize danger, so our memory tells us what is bad. In this world, the one we live in now, we don’t need the same urgency that we did thousands of years ago. Our need to label what represents danger should not be based experientially. For example, a conman may give you a good experience while stealing your money. This world is so much more complex than the world that gave us fight and flight instincts.

I have to remind myself, that all relationships can have good and bad and bad doesn’t mean that you must condemn or end the relationship.

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