You fill the bill. Then, who am I?


Well-Known Member
I used the expression today, "you fill the bill." It felt just right to say it in this circumstance. I felt compelled to look at the real meaning and origin of the phrase.

First I will note what I wanted to say with the phrase.

I wanted to tell this person that she fit what I needed and wanted. That when I interacted with her I felt complete.

I have several people in my life like this. M is one. He is my principle one.

So this is what I read about "fill the bill" when I googled it:

Originally a “bill” was any piece of writing, especially a legal document (we still speak of bills being introduced into Congress in this sense). More narrowly, it also came to mean a list such as a restaurant “bill of fare” (menu) or an advertisement listing attractions in a theatrical variety show such as might be posted on a “billboard.” In nineteenth-century America, when producers found short acts to supplement the main attractions, nicely filling out an evening’s entertainment, they were said in a rhyming phrase to “fill the bill.” People who associate bills principally with shipping invoices frequently transform this expression, meaning “to meet requirements or desires,” into “fit the bill.” They are thinking of bills as if they were orders, lists of requirements. It is both more logical and more traditional to say “fill the bill.”

I see these elements that make sense to me:

orders or requirements.
meeting expectations and desires.

So I was thinking when I read the origin: What does it say about me?

I mean that this person or that person I have selected completes me, meets completely my desires and expectations at that moment, what can I learn about myself by that choice?

I will speak about M here.

Absolute Integrity *Tell me what you really think, M.
Absolute loyalty
Hard-working and dogged in meeting his goals.
Absolute compassion.
Does not ever hold a grudge. Forgiving to the max.
Always believing in the capacity for change and growth. Even by people who have wronged them.
Always going for the element in the story that gives hope.
Realistic. Not in any way a dreamer. But a believer.
He believes in me.
He believes in my growth.
He believes in my goodness. My capacity to be better. To do better.

Imagine what it feels like to have chosen a person like him as filling the bill.

So what can I infer about myself, by my choice of him, after a lifetime of refusing to choose?

M gives me the hope to believe. Not in myself. But in something beyond myself. I never, ever had this before.

I fear losing him because I fear that I need him to be this person who can believe in something beyond her own efforts, her own integrity. Not to believe in the integrity of others, but in integrity as an absolute. I am thinking Aristotle here who visited us on another thread. He believed in ethics as defining a person, a life.

Like Insane tells herself and us, Aristotle believed that a life, a person could not be understood until the end, the end of the story. She and he warn us, do not write the end of the story. It is hubris, I am seeing.

Maybe that is why I am so interested in the concept of late, of Dying Everyday, which may be the title or portion of one of my next books. I want to reach that space of absolute integrity, oneness, sometimes called flow, everyday. The place that all of religion and spirituality and creativity calls its own.

I want to complete everyday to say goodbye with peace and acceptance and gratefully begin again, from that space. Each new day I am offered.

I am finding such a love for M that I feel inspired to write poetry. So my book may have to wait for a next life.



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I went by where my son is staying leaving a message with the home owner to ask that he call me.

When he called I started off with asking if he wanted to talk about working something out about living in the apartment. We agreed he would call tomorrow and we would talk about it.

I mentioned that we had found his missing ten dollars. He had misplaced it and as much as accused M of being responsible. I mentioned that M had also been troubled because he had asked for 3 quarters from his bag, and scooped out more.

My son said: If you want to demonize me, let's cut this short. Or something like that.

I responded: It is not demonizing you to tell you how something feels about a specific interaction, to hold you responsible so that you can pay attention to and change what you decide needs changing. With communication, is the only way we can learn to do better and for our relationship to be better. Oh. OK. He said.

I feel so much better.

My son is the original "fill the bill." Actually, in my life. When I give up on him, I give up on myself. I give up on my life. When I get back in the ring, I feel life has meaning and my life has purpose. The problem is I hit walls very frequently and very often. And I crash.

How to change? I will try.


New Leaf

Well-Known Member
My son is the original "fill the bill." Actually, in my life. When I give up on him, I give up on myself. I give up on my life. When I get back in the ring, I feel life has meaning and my life has purpose. The problem is I hit walls very frequently and very often. And I crash.
The Sleeping Beauty kiss. Oh what hopes and dreams we held out for our children, and still can, just not the ones we imagined for them, not only because of the choices they are making now, their challenges, but because they must have hopes and dreams of their own.

I don't see this as giving up, just giving in to the reality that our d c's are walking down this different path, one that we had never in our lives thought would be. They are learning, with each step, misstep, fall and getting up, they are learning.
It is so hard to watch.
I liken it to our kids riding tricycles, then bikes with training wheels, then they want the training wheels off.
There is the hesitation, what if they fall?
"I don't want my child to fall and get hurt."
But, that is how they learn to find balance.

I think when we hold on so tightly to outcome, it is as if we have removed the training wheels, but still hold on to the bike, running along side of them. We become exhausted and weary, because we cannot keep up, they are going faster, and we are afraid of them falling.

We base our own happiness on them not falling, when they do, that is when we begin to die inside and lose ourselves. So we fight and hang on even tighter to what we have hoped all our mothering and love would produce.

All of the love and childhood experiences are in your son.
He is a part of you, just as you are a part of him.

The story remains unwritten.

I know it is oh so hard Copa, when the kids are near, going down this bumpy path on their symbolic bikes, and we have front row seats.
Each fall, cut and scrape, bruise becomes our own.

I think when our lives are so intertwined with our d cs, that we feel every repercussion of their choices, their falls, they know this.

We have taken their consequences, we feel to the core of us the desperation that is theirs.
We make it ours.
We take the beating.

I have come to believe that as my children have struggled and I took on the remorse, guilt, sadness, despair, they began to see this as my "owning" their choices and the results.

"I am this way because of you."
That is what Tornado shouted at me.
Rain, also, puts the blame on me.

For a time, I took the blame as my own.
My "bill" was filled with bitterness and grief, guilt and longing for a do over.
Their "bill" was filled with partying and going off the rails, and they didn't have to worry, because they gave me their burden, and consciously, then subconsciously, I carried it.

I do believe, when we decide to find our own purpose and meaning and show by our actions how to do this, the kids may wake up.

Fill the bill.
Our own.

I have not given up on them, I have given in to the fact, the reality that their life is their own, they need to fill their bill, and I need to fill mine.

I don't as yet know how this is working for them, because I have not seen or spoken with them for quite some time. Tornado-six months. Rain, well you know our last encounter was very ugly.

I can only give them to God, and hope that each choice they make, each experience, each crash and fall, they learn from it and decide to make better choices.

I do know that I have a life to live. It is hard to live, constantly fretting and worrying, stressing on terrible outcome.

It is different for me Copa, I have my young son to raise, so am able to focus on him, too. This helped me tremendously to pivot, and let go and let God.

In this, I have backup.

For you, with one child, it must be so very hard.

I am sorry if I am writing preachy, I write to myself as much as I do to you. Maybe even more so. In this I am being selfish, I am sorry.

But, when I read this, I thought to myself "My goodness, what does she mean "who am I?" I thought this, because in this short span of "knowing" you over cyber space, I have come to think of you as incredibly gifted, kind and loving. I do so marvel at your posts.

You fill the bill, Copa. To have a man like M, who you describe as a good and kind man full of integrity, to have such a man love you, says a lot about YOU.

To look towards this goodness in people and describe it as filling the bill, says a lot about you.

Because you fill the bill, too.

In all of your posts and responses, I must say dear friend, you have filled the bill for me.

I know that you are in a tough spot with your son near, it is a whole different ballgame. You have grown so much, discovered so much in these past few months, taught me so much. You will figure this out.

I am sorry, I have gone off on a different tangent about filling the bill.

I think with you and M, helping each other navigate these waters, communicating and working together, you will be fine.

Your son has a great mentor in M.

I am thinking he has yet to open his heart to really and truly know this, but his eyes are open, and he is watching.

Prayers for peace of mind and heart.
For you, M and your son, and for us all.



Well-Known Member
When I give up on him, I give up on myself. I give up on my life.

The problem is I hit walls very frequently and very often. And I crash.

I think in my case, my fear is not about my son as much as it is about myself. And my relationship with my father. My father left when I was 8. I loved him very much.

His life after that was a long decline. My life after that until I left home was very hard. I had nobody who put me first. I was very alone.

Five or six years before my father's death I decided to not have contact with him. I felt degraded by him and his living circumstances. What he had become. Who he had become. I felt that I could not be the person who was in me to be with him in my life. It was not a difficult decision to make. But it was a difficult decision to live. I did not miss him. But I think I felt horrified at some level I did not understand that my life required such bitter choices.

"You fill the bill. Then who am I?"

The person those who fill the bill choose, and find value in, and come to love.
You see, almost all of my life, I think I felt defined by the chaos of my family. I did not realize until these last few seconds the meaning of this thread to me. My father's name was Bill. I do believe in Freudian theory in these regards. That our consciousness is a tip of the iceberg. Can you believe I did not make the connection until this minute?

So, I felt defined by my first "bill" who I can barely even bear to think about. Then who am I? if my father leaves me, abandons me, degrades me, slanders me?

So who would be surprised that I felt deep inside me that I was defective?
I think when we hold on so tightly to outcome, it is as if we have removed the training wheels, but still hold on to the bike, running along side of them.
You see, while I tried to do this, I do not believe the fear was about my son. It was about my father and myself.

That if my son self-destructed, it would be me that did so with him. As it was with my father. Even though I was not defined by my father, I was defined in myself, by myself in relation to him.
Does this feeling have to do with telling the end of the story Copa, when you don't know it yet?
I think the end of the story in my life was always degradation and betrayal and loss. That that end was always what I fought to resist.

When my son skirts degradation in his life, I feel desperately that my own feared outcome will come as a result. I feel that the only way to deal with it was as I did with my father. Renunciation. Actually, maybe my father felt shunned but my intention was not to act against in him but to save myself.

I am seeing that by staying in the game with my son I am offered the opportunity to put to rest if I can, these demons in myself. My son is not my father. First of all, they are direct opposites. My son is a good person. There is nobody that can say anything different. Even me.

I think, actually know, that on a feeling state I never moved far beyond that child who was left. Who played in the street not wanting to go home. That pretty, sweet young woman who sat next to her father on a barstool.

When I fear my son is going down I watch with horror. I am appalled . I try to run. In this I abandon my child, refusing to engage with my own demons which I have made central in our relationship, even though all but I are long dead.

This is an appointment with hope.

My son grew up knowing with the deepest of certainties that he filled the bill for his mother who loved him with all her heart and soul no matter what. Now, as he describes it, he feels demonized by that very same mother. He knows it is not him. I believe he is well-mothered enough to not desert himself. But I have deserted him because I have deserted myself--running away from my father and the fear and heartache of the past.

But this is an appointment with love, too. I loved my father and he loved me. Maybe I can find a way to resurrect it.

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Well-Known Member
orders or requirements.
meeting expectations and desires
If I was chosen to be loved by a father who self-destructed, and could not, would not save him, what does that make me?

I know that my adopted my son is connected in my mind to the life and death of my father. And my relation with him.

It was after I learned of his death four or five years before, and grieving his death, that I decided to adopt. Remember, please, the circumstances of my son's birth parents.

I always knew that in part I was trying to come to grips with my own life, as all mothers try to do through their love of their children.

So what is at risk of falling apart is this grand narrative of redemption through loving my son. You see, the story was, that through my love and care he was supposed to thrive and rise. Not return to the degradation of his parents, and I with him to the degradation of my own.

So there is the opportunity for individuation and self-definition here. His both from the story of his parents and from the fantasies I placed upon him. My own self-definition based upon my own life and achievements, and not that of my parents. Particularly, my father.



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So what is at risk of falling apart is this grand narrative of redemption through loving my son. You see, the story was, that through my love and care he was supposed to thrive and rise. Not return to the degradation of his parents, and I with him to the degradation of my own.
Gently, gently I say, Copa, that having any child, no matter how, is usually because we want to love and nurture a child. Some people think about the outcome, but if we allow that to become a definition of us, we are in trouble as is our child, especially an adopted child, yes ESPECIALLY, because they come with different genes, interests, skills, deficits and their own brand of greatness as all human beings have some greatness. But if we think we can love our children, even non-adopted ones, into successful, thriving adults, well, we can't. And we are not them, adopted or biological. They are their own selves and we are our own selves. Ditto for our parents. If we become enmeshed in other people, and judge ourselves by what they do, we will never know who WE are. WE are unique, and separate from every single other person on God's earth. I do believe in God. There is nobody who reflects us. They reflect themselves. We reflect us.

My mother, as is old hat, was horrible to me from my birth ("I held you my arms and felt nothing, absolutely noth8ing") to totally disinheriting me in her death. Pretty awful, huh? But never once did I think, "She was awful so I must be awful." As damaged as I was, and as a young woman I was DAMAGED, it never occurred to me that her deeds made ME the same. I just chose to be a different person to my own kids and I know. I also did not have lofty expectations. "My son has had the best education and I love him so he should be a doctor."

The truth is my one DNA child, Bart, is brilliant and could have done college and beyond easily. But he had inherited a very bad form of anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) during his college years and had to drop out and even go on disability for a few years. Later, he picked himself up, and is now at a college level job making a very nice six figure college level salary. But he could have done better if he had not gotten ill at a bad time. In fact, he had to work his way up from a very average job to get where he is at. I am so proud of him, but I was proud of his accomplishments before he made a lot of money. The fact is, he has to share much of it with his ex wife and his lawyer. We are very close, but he is not me and I am not him, even though I carried him in my own body for nine months.

My other three were adopted. I am very connected to them, and very proud of them. I am proud of my Pastry Chef with her beautiful baby, my autistic son who showed all the professionals that they don't know squat about potential and my Jumper who is going into law enforcement. None of them finished a four year college. I do not care. None of us should put expectations on our children in order for us to feel good. It's too hard on us. It is too hard on them.

Dear Copa, you are not in any way your mother, your father or your son. You are yourself. Your son is himself, independent of you. Your success as a kind and loving person has already been achieved and does not depend upon what your son accomplishes or even how he feels about you. When we have children, we do not get them with guarantees. Again, I feel this is especially true of our adopted children who are raised by us but may react to our values and teachings in unexpected ways because they do not inherit from us. Do I wish I'd just given birth to all my kids then? NO NO NO NO NO! I can't imagine life without my Princess and her little princess or my hero (my Sonic who is so beloved by all, especially me) or my wonderful, delightful Jumper. It is ok that they have their own genetics. They were made perfect. I would not trade any of them for ten biological children. And in some ways, through their own DNA and maybe a tad environment, they are like me, especially Princess. But our differences are BEAUTIFUL. We were all meant to be different. And we are a tight knit little least, I feel close as toast to all of them and would easily take a bullet for any of them because I have a mother's protective heart.

But I don't believe they have to be any certain way for ME to be considered ok. I hope I'm not just rambling. I hope somebody gets me...I can be very bad at explaining myself. I mean that what our parents do, what our kids do, do NOT mean WE are either better or worse than the person who we already are. Their behavior...they own it. We own ours.

At the same time, I am neither a better or worse person because of anything they have done or not done. We are seperate people, moreso now than before because they are adults.

Copa, you need not connect yourself to another person. You are yourself, the only you in the world, and thank goodness for that and for your presence on this earth.
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Well-Known Member
"You fill the bill. Then who am I?"

The person those who fill the bill choose, and find value in, and come to love.
My Dad was the original "Bill". That was his name. That somebody like him chose me, came to define me to myself as dirt. That is the truth. There is somebody else here on the site who I do not remember right now, who battles this. This is a common self-accusation of somebody who feels at fault for how they were treated by others.

If I fill the "bill" of somebody who hurts me, does not protect me, or leaves me? What does that make me?

If I am a parent of a child who does not thrive, what does that make me?

This is the choice point for me. I write this not to assert that I am as I feel. I write to give myself the choice to be different.



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You were a good mother but he wont or cant thrive. That makes you a loving woman who did her best. Not all children chose to or can thrive. Unless we deliberately contributed to limiting their education or safety, it is not a part of our identity in a negative way.
Youve been not addressing my posts so perhaps I have somehow offended you. If so, I am sorry. It was not deliberate and im not sure what I said wrong. But i will further refrain from posting to you. My parting words though is I hope you learn not to tie your worthiness to anyone else because you are wonderful. Nobody elses actions can take that away from you. Nobody.
With love and good wishes.


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Youve been not addressing my posts so perhaps I have somehow offended you.
Serenity, I am not offended. And it is not even that we think differently, at least in this: I was a good-enough mother and I would benefit by separating my own self-esteem from outcomes that I do not control. That my son suffered blows from life that did not come from me, and I did everything within my power to remediate them, and to provide the possibility of a good outcome.

We have seen here on the board that children, even those who have not experienced what my son did, do not always thrive even when the conditions to do so, were present.

It is that we think differently about the remedy, you and I, the course to find self-acceptance and peace. I think we think differently about the nature of change and what propels it. This is an honest difference: Note the radical differences in psychotherapeutic approaches, dynamic, somatic, existential, expressive, cognitive, behavior to name a few.

I believe that exploring what I think and feel, and coming to understand it will free me. That was the basis of my participating in FOO, and it continues to motivate me. I believe one has to recognize false beliefs before one can come to have new ones. This process requires work and working through. That is what I do here.

CD is a work place for me. I do not post to be right. I post to see right.

You, I think, may believe my posting is wrong-headed and possibly even self-indulgent. You see what I write as an expression of wrong thinking, which if corrected, would free me.

I require a process to do this. CD is my process.

I see my wrong thinking as a means of self-understanding. Not just what to correct, but to know who I am, have been, and want to be. I free myself as I acknowledge my wrong-headedness. My wrongness illuminates who I am as much or more than my rightness.

I believe the source of my own power comes from my self-deceptions that are uncovered, illuminated and seen. I believe I am not different than other parents here. By understanding myself in my mistakes, errors, and perceived failings I come to understand other mothers as well. And I believe I come to know more about life itself. My own, especially.

I believe this practice has been helpful and constructive.

I believe more is learned by errors than by rightness or success. I understand you do not want me to feel bad or to torture myself. For that I am grateful. I am not offended by your caring. I am grateful for it.

Maybe I will soon come to a place where I can let it all go. I am not there yet.

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