“What you resist, persists.” --Carl Jung
This quote has been playing in my head for the past few days. I didn't even know where it came from. I am sure I read it in some book or on Twitter at some point in the past few years. It isn't even one I wrote down. (When I went to find it in my quotations database – yes, I am just that geeky – I couldn't find it so I had to turn, gasp!, to the internet.) But I've been playing it like a favorite song in my head this week.
My son is getting better. At least I think he is. He is complaining less about his stomach aches. He is going to school. He is running around more and eating pretty well. He is blaming me for pretty much everything. Have I mentioned the blaming?
I am the pinnacle of all that is wrong with the world right now. I cannot do anything right. If I give him a gift, it is unwanted. If I give him a hug, it is shrugged off. If I make a suggestion, it is rebuffed.
I have tried everything in my mom arsenal. I have tried talking. I have tried asking questions. I have tried doling out consequences. I have tried ignoring. And, yes, I have even tried yelling. All to no avail. I am still to blame for life and everything shitty in it.
It feels like a window into the teenage years.
But this week, this quote has helped me get to a new and different place. A place of not resisting.
When he starts a diatribe about how awful life is and how it is all my fault I do not resist. I don't resist what he is saying; I just listen. I do not resist how he is feeling; I let him feel. I do not resist how I am feeling; I let myself feel.
It's really funny, but I can sense how my not resisting his negative feelings is helping him. I am not sure why. He no longer feels judged? He no longer feels wrong? He feels more free to be himself? But I can feel it working.
And as I think about it, it makes total sense. Life is hard. Bad things happen. Bad feelings come up. As a parent we are so conditioned to keep our children safe. To make them comfortable and happy. To meet their every need and to take care of them. It is hard to realize that as they grow and mature this is no longer our job.
As they grow and mature into pre-teens, teenagers and young adults our job is more to guide than to direct. More to love than to care for. And more to allow than to resist.
My job is changing and I need to change with it. The problems my son is facing and will be facing over the next ten years cannot be fixed with a hug and a band aid. The problems he is facing now are the beginnings of the adult problems he will face for the rest of his life.
If I resist this fact I stunt his growth and I get in his way. If I keep him from feeling the feelings he needs to feel, I keep him from learning the things he need to learn. And that is not my job.
I need to stop resisting the fact that my little boy – my onetime baby – is on his way to somewhere I cannot always go with him. The sooner I do, the better off we'll both be and, hopefully, the closer we will remain.