Q: Masters, my step-daughter, whom I adopted at age two when I married her father, was never very close to me. Her mother didn’t want to have anything to do with her, but for years my daughter hoped that her birth mother would come back into her life. I always encouraged her if that was her desire. I treated her exactly like her half brother and sister but she still held herself aloof from me and thought I treated her siblings differently. A recent reconciliation attempt with her birth mother was a total disaster. For the first time, at the age of 25, she is cuddling up to me on the couch and seeking comfort. Why did we both have to wait so long for this connection? Is it going to last?
A: You have each experienced the traumas of a lifetime in a few short years. Not only will this closeness last but it will expand.
Your step-daughter has self-worth issues, with a strong sense of abandonment powering them. Not only was she seeking to have her birth mother return, but also she was afraid that if she developed a strong attachment to you, you, too, would leave her. When her birth mother still showed no interest in her during her recent contact, she realized that she had been the one who caused her perception of different treatment to develop. She was preventing a feeling of closeness with you and her siblings, making it impossible to console her.
She has learned these lessons of abandonment now and will not have to repeat them. The abandonment had nothing to do with who she was, as she had feared. She is ready to move on, to expand her sense of self not only within your nuclear family, but also within the family she is establishing.
Your lesson as well was to get a sense of who you were within a family because of your dysfunctional birth family. In experiencing the problems with your step-daughter you were able to see some additional problems that families can have, identify them, resolve them, and then let go of their energy.
When souls cling to a lesson or difficulty, they identify with it as their human identity. Something they feel defines who they are. It is very difficult to release the hold that comes with the lesson until you acknowledge that it no longer serves any purpose in your current life. When it is released, you start a new chapter of life wiser and with a clean slate to begin yet another adventure.