O wad some Power the giftie give us To see ourselves as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An’ foolish notion To a Louse ……By Robert Burns
Truly, to be able to see through another’s eyes is a gift that heals. The funny bit is that so much of what hurts is worrying about what others think of us or how they see us instead of really looking at what they see.
For much of my reunion with Joy I struggled with my image of myself. I was so stuck on conditioned images I simply could not accept the way Joy saw me. I was locked in illusions of the teenage mother forced relinquishment.
It was incomprehensible to me that she saw herself as unwanted. My lust was so that I couldn’t see her position at all. All I saw was her power to leave me again. She exercised control over her life out of self preservation as she confronted me; her real physical genetic and mysterious mother. I was no longer just some abstract incompetent.
I was a real, tangible, confusing incompetent. People asked me what she wanted, why did she contact me? I hadn’t stopped to question why she contacted me. She told me she wanted medical information which seemed like a nice clean answer. Who wondered what I wanted from contact with her? She was the first to ask me what I wanted, many years into reunion.
Initially I just wanted her in my life. I was desperate to keep in contact with her even though it was fraught with pain and misunderstanding. One of the constants was fear that she would walk out of my life, that I truly wasn’t worthy of her.
That all came to a head about 5 years ago(?). As executor and trustee, I was in possession of a family heirloom with instructions to pass it on to my uncle, the “rightful owner”. But it was something that I wanted for myself and I procrastinated returning it to him, thinking I’d wait until he asked for it.
One night Joy called up and asked me to give it to her. I was surprised and threatened. She stated that she had never asked me for a thing before this. It felt like an ultimatum, as though our relationship rested on whether I turned this item over to her. Essentially all our relationship was for the following year was quarreling while I rested on a two pronged pitchfork. She demanded that I do this one thing for her, or else. There was nothing more to talk about. I felt guilty for hanging onto something that wasn’t mine to begin with. I felt manipulated by her position that the heirloom was more important than our relationship.
I held a position that no material item could resolve the ongoing conflict between us. She claimed it would make her happy. I didn’t trust that it would. Eventually I capitulated.
I didn’t tell her. I just decided to put an end to this particular quarrel and see what happened. It took at least three weeks to get it packaged and posted. I actually expected her to end up angrier than ever.
ETA: When I unpacked the painting I discovered there was a yellowed coat of lacquer over the face that looked heartbreakingly awful. So I took it to a photographer to have it reproduced and color corrected. A beautiful full size copy was made and sent.
I waited another three weeks to hear from her. I didn’t know she was going abroad about that time. So I had three weeks to worry and imagine and wonder what she thought. And wonder why she didn’t respond. When she finally got home and did call me it was almost anticlimactic.
Except she seemed really happy. Grateful even.
I had been ready to cash it all in, give up on our relationship for good, because I didn’t think this family memorabilia could really make an improvement in our lives. It symbolized her control over me and I had enough. I was going to send it to her and walk away, quit trying.
But she was happy. I started to see ME trying to control her, trying to force her to love me the way I wanted her to love me, instead of listening to her.
She invited me to come up for her birthday that spring. I saw the treasure displayed proudly in her living room and it was beautiful. It was a symbol of a new beginning.
It was a start for me to see her for herself, instead of as my long lost baby.