Enemy of the State

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Meghan, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. Meghan

    Meghan New Member

    I have been having problems with my now 21 year old daughter for around 4 years. I'd like to tell everyone the story and hopefully receive some good advice. The situation has taken place over years, so this explanation is rather long, sorry.

    Just over 6 years ago I got divorced. I have two daughters now 21, Shannon, and 18, Shay. My ex was unfaithful and even though I wanted the whole world to know at the time of our divorce, he and I agreed that we would never fully disclose the reason for our divorce. I did not want my kids to think poorly of their father so we came us with a "not so detailed" version of our split to be shared with them and others.

    My daughter Shannon and I were always close during her growing up years, enjoying the same hobbies and interests. Her strengths and weaknesses were also very similar to mine. My youngest daughter was a little more like her dad. My daughters have always been very close with each other, best friends. The bond only tightened with the divorce.

    After the divorce Shannon was very angry with her father and rarely saw him or stayed with him for 3 years. Shay would go and stay with him weekly usually for a night because she didn't like being without Shannon and me. My ex remarried about 10 months after our divorce and this was very difficult for the girls. I was happy that he remarried. I knew that getting married would provide stability for him and eventually the girls if they would want to visit him .
    Both of my daughters went/go to counseling. I think that Shannon's counselor finally convinced her to find peace with her dad. I encouraged it as well. As she started to do this, my younger daughter just followed suit.

    My ex says that he is a born again Christian. I have no problem with this other than over the years he has been and then hasn't been a born again Christian many different times. He is very judgmental and believes that everyone should follow his religion and that he is the authority on all things right and wrong. He always acts very calmly and sort of hypnotically speaks to others.

    We never did before but when Shay became a teenager she and I began to argue. At times she would become super angry and very irrational, not to unlike many teenagers. I would try talking with her because that had always worked with Shannon, but it didn't most of the time with Shay so I had to start punishing her. I used typical punishments depending on the infraction.

    Shay became so upset with me one time when I gave her a punishment that she called her dad and this is where I believe that the problem started. Instead of him talking with me, getting my take on the situation, he listened to her, then told me off. Then, he came and picked her up and took her to his house. She was not punished there but instead told that he knew how she felt when I got angry etc etc....

    Shannon being so close and protective of Shay became just as emotionally charged in these situations seeing that her little sister needed protection from me the person causing her all of this pain. This continued to happen. Shay would get into trouble and many times both my daughters would argue with me and both would leave with their dad. They would return after a few days when things cooled off. I know now that I should have just told them to stay at his house, but honestly at the time I was thinking about what a horrible parent he was and I didn't want them with him, hindsight is 20/20.

    I have now learned that my ex told them that my unfaithfulness ended our marriage, that I had a horrible temper, and that I was a liar. He said that I had been emotionally and verbally abusive to him during our whole marriage. Of course none of this was remotely true. He had his brother, a practicing psychologist, come to his house on multiple occasions to "counsel" the girls on how to handle "my mental health issues", which he gave the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I believe this helped provide validation for anger that Shay felt towards me and maybe even provided a target for their anger caused by the divorce.

    My ex got books from his brother on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and other books of the like and he and Shannon and sometimes Shay read them together. Shannon began talking to her counselor about this and her counselor bought in on the idea as well.

    As time went on my ex used Shannon as Shay's mother. He spoke to her about issues regarding Shay and I excluded me completely. I was told that I "did not act like a mother" so I was not being treated as such. Shannon really came into her own during her senior year of high school so she appeared to everyone as if she had it all together. I believe that she was in a good place, however, it was NOT her job to parent Shay and she was NOT doing a good job of it, after all she was NOT HER MOM.

    As you can imagine I became more and more frustrated. I felt like the Will Smith in the movie, "Enemy of the State" when he is TRYING to tell everyone that he was innocent and EVERYONE collectively believed him to be guilty, no one listened, and almost no one was in a position to help him. I was watching Shay participate in activities that were unsafe and that I knew would only cause more problems for her later. My hands were tied. My ex wouldn't talk to me. I couldn't get counselors to listen and even lawyers didn't know how/where to intervene.

    I WAS NOT emotionally unstable at anytime nor have I ever been in my life, but all of this has taken a toll. I am actually very calm, go with the flow, patient, kind and helpful. After all, not many people can teach children and adults with multiple disabilities for over 25 years. My ex and I broke up because he was unfaithful and that was it, we rarely if ever argued or fought during our 19 years of marriage. I had typical issues with Shay as she became a teenager. I believe that if my ex would have either backed me up when I imposed a punishment or just let me parent at my house and he could have parented at his, none of this would have taken place.

    As the years have gone by my youngest, Shay, and I actually get along quite well. She has seemed to have made it through most all of high school and outgrew the desire to make the poor choices of her earlier days. Any issues that seem to occur happen when Shannon comes home from college. Shannon is a junior in college now majoring in counseling and social work. Most of the time things are calm between us, however, if Shay happens to share even a slight annoyance with me to Shannon, or if Shannon and I don't agree on something... the problems begin again.

    Shannon and I might be in a slight disagreement and she immediately takes the "parent" role over me. I don't want to "parent" her anymore, she is 21, but I don't need her to "parent" me! I do have rules in MY HOME and want them followed when she is at home, there are very few. If Shannon is angry with me she immediately goes into an emotional place telling me all that I have done wrong, sometimes from WAY back. I also get to hear repeatedly that I have a mental illness, Borderline Personality Disorder. Yep....it's STILL being said.

    Last May, right before Shannon came home for summer break I found a paper that she wrote for class on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) with ME as the subject of the paper. We had a long, I thought good discussion, about this and she said that she was wrong and now realized it and wanted to move on. I was SO relieved. Then, while helping her, by her request, with an email issue/book order, I saw an opened email to a professor. (I was NOT trying to read her email I thought the email was the one that she wanted me to read in order to help her to solve the "book" situation) It was only after reading about 3 lines of the email that I realized she was telling this professor about "MY MENTAL ILLNESS" and all that she and her sister have had to endure because of it. I couldn't believe it!

    A few things, firstly, I am not going to pass judgement on anyone suffering from a mental illness, I have spent all of my years as a special education teacher helping children and adults who need intensive assistance. The problem that I have is that I DO NOT HAVE a mental illness, let alone this particular one that does not in the least bit describe me. Secondly, I really don't care what Shannon believes about me at this point. She can think how/what she wants. What I do care about is not being allowed to parent/assist/guide Shay as she transitions from high school into college, this is a very important time in her life. When Shannon is around and sometimes when she is not around, this is a concern, because my input is a source of constant problems. Thirdly, the fact that she is telling EVERYONE who will listen that I have this illness as well as posting it on social media has been a problem with my career advancement and socially in my town. Lastly, I am sad that this is what Shannon's and my relationship has come to, we used to have such wonderful times together.

    I would just like it if Shannon would let me live my life and for her to go and live hers. I have a happy life with lots of friends, wonderful extended family and a serious boyfriend. I have a good job and have had opportunities to advance to great possibilities. Shay will graduate this year, and I will be finished raising my kids. They will be adults. Although, I desire to have close relationships with them I can't control that and can only do my part. I guess at this point I'm not sure if I just continue to wait, pray and hope for things to get better with Shannon? Or is there something I could/should be doing now to help to heal this relationship and my little family? Like I said, I know this is long but if any of you have input that you would like to share I would be appreciative.

    Thanks, Meghan
     
  2. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Hi Meghan,

    Welcome to the forum. I read every word and I can relate to a lot of it. Your daughters have no right to disrespect you and it seems like Shay is a master manipulator and has somehow turned everyone against you. Even if you do have borderline personality disorder, it doesn't give anyone the right to use it against you. Ask yourself this and then ask them this "Do they ever bring up the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) when they are getting their way?" I will bet every last dime I have in my bank account the answer would be NO. I bet you they only bring it up when they are not getting their way. So what does that tell you? It tells you that in this situation, no one say with a straight face that you have BDP and by the way , they sound so foolish saying this because since when did they become doctors? They must think very highly of themselves huh? So ridiculous. I must say, it's really angering me just the thought of these little girls abusing you with this, I could only imagine how you feel. Your daughter Sharron should be ashamed of herself to use her mom in a report for school, even if it were true that you had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). No self respecting young woman would dime her mother out that way and trust me, people will not think highly of her. And she brings up the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) on Facebook? Wow, again, that's crossing all kinds of boundaries and in the end, makes her look bad. You don't talk about your mother that way, period.

    The only thing to do is when your youngest is finished HS, I would say bye bye Charlie to both of them! I would make them regret the day the decided to team up against you like this, especially the youngest. You are going to have to be very tough and not allow them back into your lives until they plead and grovel for your forgiveness, and even then I would consider shutting the door right in their faces one last time. None of this will work though if you are even remotely soft. What they did to you WAS and IS a big deal. Telling everyone you have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? This is not a game. How dare they. I'm sorry for being harsh, but someone has to. I truly feel bad for you. It's not right. Prayers are with you through this hard time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, Meagan. I am sorry you are going through this. I am not going to judge anyone here, but I can tell you that your ex is using something called gaslighting. Do you know what that is? It is when somebody continuously makes a person out to be something they are not; distorts reality. In this case he has invented a mental illness that is probably closer to what HE has...some sort of personality disorder that is classic in people who lie and cheat. Very sadly, he got your oldest daughter to believe the gaslighting.

    I have been around the block with dysfunction and this is what I would do if it were me.

    First of all, I would start going low contact with the oldest daughter. You can not control what she does. You have 0% control over anybody except yourself and your daughter and your ex are abusing you. Actually, you need to decide how much you want to talk to your daughter right now. Sometimes a disconnect for a while, with you acting reasonable and calm every time you do talk, can give the other person time to think over what is real and what is fake. At any rate, you can not stop her from thinking you have this disorder, even though you don't. I am really finding it abusive that she would put this on the social media and upset your career. That says more about her than you. And I think more than a few people probably realize this.

    I would continue to foster a good relationship with your younger daughter, changing the topic if she brings up her older sister's opinions. A good answer to both girls when they say you have borderline is to calmly respond (and I do mean calmly) "I have never been diagnosed with that, but I can't stop you from thinking what you think. If you think I have red hair, which I don't, I can't stop you from thinking that either. So I guess we will agree to disagree" and change the subject, even though I know it is killing you inside that they have this misconception about you due to dad's gaslighting and manipulation. In time, I suspect both young ladies will figure him out.

    Until/unless they do get it right, and figure they are being tricked, you have 100% control over your own life. That's the good news :) You can nurture your positive relationships and it sounds like you have so many good people who love and appreciate the real you and not some made up fictional character. If you had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), you would not have so many stable relationships in your life. You can calmly point that out to your girls once or twice. I would not push it. I say this as somebody who has borderline traits and has worked very hard to eliminate them when I can and to correct the mistake when I slide. You are fine and if it were me, I'd spend my days with those who know it, loving them and loving myself. This does not mean you have to not love your daughters, but if they hurt you, it isn't a bad idea to keep contact to a tolerable minimum. You can not make either of them change nor can you stop older one from influencing younger one or ex from being probably the narcissistic man that he is.

    This is a maddening problem I have heard about from others who have had dysfunctional ex's and they manage to turn it all on their wives or sometimes the other way around. It is unfortunate, but it does happen. What can you do? Enjoy your life and see what the future has in store for you and the girls. Focus on the "now" and don't worry about the future or ruminate about the past or wonder what you did wrong, if you think you did something wrong because you didn't.

    Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Enjoy it with those who really KNOW you...and take it slow, cautious, and easy, and one day at a time with your daughters. You can set boundaries too, such as this one:

    You: Oldest, I know you think I have borderline PD, but I choose not to discuss that with you anymore. Therefore if you bring it up, I will have to gently hang up the phone until we can discuss another topic. (If she is with you, you can amend this to "I will have to take a walk" or "you will have to leave for a while."

    Expect her to retaliate, even saying that is a borderline trait, or that biased Uncle Blah Blah diagnosed you then make good on your promise. It is not a threat. It is a way to protect your feelings. You two really have nothing to say to each other about this topic anymore anyway, so I'd put a boundary up and ban it from your interactions.

    I am really, really sorry a good person like you has to go through this with her daughter(s), but I would take the high road, not attack, not overinteract with Daughter #1 right now, and fall forward into the arms of those who love and appreciate you and have a blast with all your wonderful friends. You are a worthwhile person and should love yourself and not allow anyone, even your grown children, to abuse you. Sad thing is, it is your ex who is sick, but your oldest at least chooses to believe his lies. But you can't control it, unfortunately.

    Hugs and hoping you enjoy your life. Keep posting. It helps :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Meghan,

    Welcome. The first thing I noticed reading your story is that you and your ex agreed to not tell your daughters the truth behind your divorce. This was a big red flag for me. As unpleasant as it may have been your daughters should have been told the truth and it should have been from their father. They didn't need all the gory details but they should have been told. Hind sight is 20/20.

    It also occurred to me that your ex may be operating out of fear and that is what has led him to as MWM put it so well, "gaslighting" you. What better way to not have his daughters find out the truth than to shift attention towards you.

    I agree with MWM in that you should keep low contact with your oldest daughter and the topic of you being Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is off limits.

    You sound like you have a very good life and a good grip on what is going on. It's hard to watch our children grow away from us. They make their own choices and we have no control over that.

    Wishing you peace.
     
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Meghan, welcome. I'm sorry you're experiencing these issues. I agree with what the others have said. We are powerless to change another's point of view. It is sad that your husband has done what he has done. You are a victim of abuse. It certainly appears as if you are in a lose/lose with your daughter.

    You might attempt to tell your daughter that what she believes about who you are is NOT who you are and since you cannot make any kind of difference in what she perceives, you find it too painful to continue the way things are. And, then set whatever boundaries feel appropriate to you. Take care of yourself.

    When you are dealing with someone who insists on their reality over yours, after awhile it becomes a futile "game" where all you are doing is defending yourself against false accusations.

    Have you considered perhaps having a third party, a therapist, counselor, a minister, someone who is impartial who could mediate between your daughters and you? Maybe that would provide some boundaries between the 3 of you which might support a different point of view and offer ways in which you all might reach a more truthful bridge to connect on.

    You might enjoy reading the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here, it may be helpful for you.

    It's hard to move on, but sometimes others don't see us for who we really are and all we can do is let go and learn to accept what is.
     
  6. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I experienced this with my first husband. He did and does live in his own version of reality.

    Not telling your girls the true reason for the divorce was very convenient for him wasn't it? That's typical of manipulative people who don't want to take responsibility and want to hide their unacceptable behaviour so that they can then create, or maintain, their 'nice person' charade. With hindsight it would have been better to be truthful at the time, but we all do things that we would change with hindsight.

    You can tell your daughters the truth now, but you can't force them to believe it. Teenage girls are difficult at the best of times and falling out with mothers is par for the course. Maybe you should concentrate on living your own life and let them launch into adulthood. I found that engaging with the gaslighting was pointless. I found that it got a bit scary being dragged into someone else's parallel universe actually. You can begin to doubt your own sanity.

    Yes, don't play their game. State your facts and leave it at that.

    How great! Enjoy your life Meghan, and if your daughters want to be part of it as respectful loving adults then fine, but don't engage with all this nonsense.
     
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  7. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    I want to be clear with my intention of this statement ^: ceasing all communication until they realize how wrong they were for abusing you this way.
     
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't think it is helpful to teach people lessons that way. It hurts everyone. I've been on the receiving end of that. There is no point in "I won't talk to you until you think the way I want. You will rue the day..." That will only close the door and lead them to think that their father is right (well, more than they already do). It is hard for others to see their abuse or their behavior the way we see it.

    in my opinion I think it's better just to move on while engaging in therapy so we have a go-to person for help in the situation. You don't have to go no contact, although you can, but you don't have to be that blatant about it. I like the Nike commercial "Just Do It." Yes, I love my little sayings ;) Just because others hurt you, I don't feel it is useful to deliberately try to hurt them back for any reason. I don't think that helps us move on and it makes it hard for the other person to ever say "I'm sorry" if the person is so inclined. Don't validate the gaslighting by being the person ex told them you are, so to speak.

    RE, I think you nailed it again. There is nothing anyone can do about it. Just move on with therapy.
     
  9. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Hey MWM, how are you?

    I thought I saw you said something about "attack" (I can't find it now) and I thought you said that in regards to my statement that I just quoted in the comment before, so I wanted to make sure I made clear what I meant by that statement. In no way, shape or form meant to seek vengeance of any kind. I meant completely with drawling herself out of her daughters life which is more than enough to teach them a lesson of what they are doing to her. These girls need their mother more than they could ever know and will one day be very sorry for doing something so cruel to her. Anyway, like I said, I just wanted to make my original statement understood and not mistaken.
     
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Morning, Earlybird :)

    Maybe they will, maybe not. Honestly, to this day, my family of origin is a collective mess and nobody thinks he/she did anything wrong. I feel like I live in some sort of fantasy world when it comes to them. I was always the only one who saw everyone's dysfunction, including my own. To this day, my father, my brother and my sister think the family wasn't all "that bad." Um, really???? And my mother never changed her mind about me and when she withdrew herself from me because of what she felt I did wrong (long story there), it gave me room and space to see that I did not need her abuse in my life. On the other hand, sometimes, especially when a parent has actually been nice, it CAN turn things around. It is very hard to predict human nature. I give up trying. I can only predict myself (sigh).

    My hope is that all of our kids learn how much we loved them in spite of our mistakes. Or their fantasies about us, which we can not control. But, in the end, I hope all of us, earlybirds included :), learn to love ourselves and enjoy our lives in spite of what other people may think of us, even our beloved grown children.

    Ok, now I need that first cuppa ;)
     
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  11. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Yes, it seems that we are the forum's morning birds lately. Hey , that's what's so great about this board, is that they always have someone on call, especially you MWM, I'm sure you have helped many, even the people who just read and never post.

    I think I may have a cup of coffee. Long day ahead of me today.
     
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Have a good day :)
     
  13. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Hi, Meghan!

    Sorry, I come little late to this, but maybe you are still on board.

    I'm really sorry you are going through this with your children. Alienation of children, even when they are already almost grown up, is unfortunately way too common in divorces. Having to prove oneself to be right and ex-spouse in wrong and using kids in it is just nasty. And it is unfortunate that your ex has found such a perfect weapon for it. What you are experiencing is just why personality disorders, and laymen 'diagnosing' them to their (former) loved ones or family members, are such a hot topic currently.

    There is absolutely no way to defend yourself, when someone decides to slap you with personality disorder. Whatever you say or do can, and will, be looked through personality disorder lens, that makes everything, even most ordinary or even extraordinary kind or generous actions or words, look ugly. If you deny having a personality disorder, it is simply a proof you have it. If you are angry about being accused of having one, it is a proof and makes you dangerous. If you are calm, it is a proof and tells you are cold, callous and psychopathic. If you are nice, you are manipulating, if you are irritated you are in 'narcissistic rage', if people around you think you are a nice person, it is superficial charmingness and a proof of you being totally rotten and so on.

    Of course now that people are dropping those personality disorder allegations left and right many people have gotten bit more cynical, when they hear someone telling how their ex (or mother or father or adult kid) is with personality disorder, but unfortunately many will believe even most insane accusations or at least think that even if it is totally true, there has to be something in it, because other party is making those accusations. If you have been in same community longer time, your previous good reputation will likely protect you some, because so many are throwing those laymen diagnosis of personality disorders around that many have started to think them as a joke, but unfortunately you daughters are likely to believe quite strongly to it. And there really isn't any effective way to defend yourself.

    When they grow up little more, they are more likely to look back more independently and hopefully break out of the web of lies your ex has weaved for them. Till that you of course have every right to draw boundaries at what topics you will and won't discuss with them and how you allow them to treat you. I would not discuss with them at least about personality disorders, their father or what he thinks or anything related to him. I have to say I do not know your laws when it comes to slander and things like that, but it could maybe scare your daughters a bit and make them consider what kind of malicious and non-factual gossip they want to spread out, if you would tell them that you are considering consulting a lawyer regarding their uncle and his actions as medical professional and practises of ethical commission in his field and asking advice about defamation laws due to this untrue rumours concerning your medical situation.
     
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