how to let go and have a life

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello. I am happy to have found this site. I have a 39 year old daughter whom I have recently thrown out of my life. She has some mental disorder, although never diagnosed, she exhibits signs of bi-polar, perhaps narcissistic disorder, borderline and PTSD, I don't know, what I do know is something is seriously wrong and it has eaten up huge chunks of my life. She is unmanageable, living in her car, unwilling to get help, admit she has a problem or change in any way. I am raising her daughter who is 15. It's been a very long road to get here, much pain and sorrow, the loss of hope and she is never aware of the pain and suffering she leaves in her wake. I am wondering how others deal with letting go of their adult children who wreck havoc in their families lives and can only focus on their own warped and destructive world. I am feeling some peace now that the decision has been made, and in many ways, there seems simply more space in my world, space formerly occupied by the drama and intensity and constant problems my daughter created. I imagine as time goes by, the space will grow and my life will improve in ways I can't imagine right now since the wound is still so new. I've been dealing with my daughters life drama for 20 years and I, at 62 years old, need to move away from all of this and concentrate on my granddaughter, my fiancee and my own life. If anyone has any advice, ideas or their own story to share, I would appreciate any input you all may be willing to share. I already feel the empathy and support from an earlier post, which as you all may understand, is quite an amazing experience, to have others "get" what I am talking about. :smile:
  2. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello and welcome to the PE forum.

    Well, if she is 39 years old and thinks she doesn't have a problem but is living in her car, there's not much you can do. You need to focus on you and your granddaughter now.

    For me, I finally just got fed up with all of the drama and chaos that our difficult child was bringing into our lives and said enough. I also am good at compartmentalizing my life and was able to do my job and enjoy husband and our easy child despite difficult child's problems. My difficult child once said that I was in denial about her problems so I explained how I compartmentalized. I explained it as putting her issues into a box in my brain and closing the lid. I knew the problems were there but I didn't let them spill out into the rest of my life. She actually understood when I explained it like that.

    I don't know if that helps you but you need to let go of her drama. Like you said, it has consumed your life for 20 years. There are some good books on co-dependency. I believe the name of one recommended frequently here is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Another one that sounds good is Setting Boundaries(TM) with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents by Allison Bottke. It has a lot of really good reviews on Amazon.

    Also, keep posting here. You will get a lot of help, advice, and support from others who truly understand what you are going through.

  3. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I don't have any advice except that it is like eating an elephant - one bite at a time. Just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and don't torture yourself by looking back or wondering "what if." You've hung in there a long time and are obviously a good mother to have willingly dealt with this for 20 years before crying "uncle".

  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you, it's very helpful to hear what you all have to say. I am presently in a very structured codependency course through the local HMO, which is a very long process, about a year and a half, group therapy every week, educational classes, books, and having to attend Codependents anonymous 12 step groups. It's helping me to have the strength to keep my commitment to not continue enabling my daughter. I am in need of this support now because it's very difficult to let go of this negative connection with my daughter. I'm used to stepping in to fix everything, pay for everything, find solutions, etc. I've been letting go of her for years now, but only recently got the courage to actually step away. I believe I did the right thing, each day I gain more strength, more conviction and more peace of mind. This forum was a Godsend, it is so helpful to write it down and get feedback and support, I am so grateful to all of you for your willingness to take part in this and be there for others. Thank you! I am fortunate to have a wonderful fiancee who enjoys raising my granddaughter, and a granddaughter who has gone through her own darkness and come out the other side a well adjusted, happy kid who laughs a lot and is completely enjoying being a teenager, exactly where she belongs. Her mother, my daughter, is lost in space, and that is so sad, but I just can't throw myself on the altar of motherhood any longer to save her, she is on her own. I have many good moments, but, every once in awhile, the idea that my kid is out there in the cold night, sleeping in her car, so vulnerable and unsafe and out of options, it takes my breath away and I wonder how I can be happy when she has no life. Mostly, I can move myself out of that thinking, I hope that part subsides soon. It's hard.
    God Bless.......
  5. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Wow, you are certainly doing the things that you need to do to work on your co-dependency issues. I think that is great!!

    Keep posting so we can help support your efforts.

  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You are doing all the right things. It is so hard when we finally have to face the fact that we can't fix out adutl children. We spent all those years doing just that and when they never learn how to do it for themselves, for whatever reason, we get sucked into continuing to enable them because we are afraid to let go. It is terrifying to think of your child alone in the dark and cold. But there comes a time in everyone's life when they have to figure out what help they need and go after it.

    I too just got sick of all the drama our daughter was bringing into our lives. Our whole family was suffering and I found very little to be happy about. Once we finally kicked her out of the house and she began to get her life in order, I was amazed at the transformation it made in me. Now I say I could never ever go back to the way things were for so many years. It was not easy to do and I needed a lot of support, but I am so happy and relieved now and my daughter is making a good attempt at changing her life as well. So who knows, perhaps this is what your daughter needs to reach out and get help.

    I'm glad you can finally concentrate on your happiness, it's time.

  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Jt sounds like you are doing some wonderful things for you and your granddaughter... and even though you cam here for help, it sounds like you know what you have to do already and are doing it. Your posts have been helpful to me as I feel I am in a somewhat similar situation except my son is 20 and drugs is the main issue. However I have to keep letting go because there really is nothing I can do... and I need to keep living my life and enjoying my husband and defiitely enjoying my 16 year old daughter. I have to keep her in my focus.... because she doesn't need a mom who is debilitated by her brothers ridiculous antics. What I am trying to say is reading your story helpe me too.

  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you for your kind words, it is so helpful. I need to hear that I am doing the "right" thing, it's easy to fall into the guilts, the responsibility for my daughter, to see it from the old perspective, that she can't make good choices so therefore I must do it for her. I understand what you are all saying, it is time to let go, she isn't a kid anymore, she'll be 40 this year! Yikes.

    Nancy, it's helpful to hear that your daughter actually started to get it together, of course, that is my greatest wish. But, you know, I also have to accept the idea that she may not get it together, she may really be that bag lady on the side of the road. That's a real leap for me to make in all of this. The other day I was driving through town and saw an older woman pushing a grocery cart on the sidewalk, obviously homeless, and I immediately thought that could be my daughter very soon. We don't have homeless folks in our town (yet) so seeing that was pretty sad on lots of levels, but to think it could be my child was a pretty horrible thought. I know I have to get better at containing those scary thoughts, I think that is my biggest challenge now, to stop "catastrophizing" as a therapist called it, scaring myself with thoughts that are not real, worrying about stuff that hasn't happened yet. It's a real process. Every night before I go to bed, when I look at the ice on the roofs I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, to think of her out there somewhere, wow, who'd have thought it would turn out this way. But, you are all right, I have to concentrate on my granddaughter now, who as I said, is a real delight. She has come along way in letting her mom go, she's done a better job then I have in fact. She told me weeks ago, before I threw my daughter out of our home, that it was time to let go, that I had done enough already. That made me really think about all of it.

    I see it as a process, Signorina said it was taking bites out of an elephant, thanks, that's perfect. I've been taking bites for years, always hoping my daughter would just wake up, but I think that kept me stuck there too, that hope. A few months ago I started thinking, Geez, she may never get it, she may just keep sinking lower and lower, and that was a turning point for me, the death of hope. You always want your kids to be happy and successful and giving up the hope that my daughter would ever get that was pretty tough, but it was also the beginning of the cord being severed.

    And, thanks toughlovin, for saying that my story helps you. Wow, a 20 year old you have to let go of, my heart goes out to you. I guess none of us ever expected that we would be put in the position of keeping our children away from us and our families.

    And, Kathy813, thanks for the book referrals, I read Beattie's book a couple of times, today I'm ordering the other one you mentioned. And, yes, that was helpful to hear about your ability to compartmentalize, I can do that too, I didn't realize that, but you're right, that helps to go on with life. When I leave for work in the morning, I leave home at home, and for the most part, except for when I scare myself with frightening thoughts about what can happen to my daughter, I can put her drama aside. She has been living in chaos and drama for so long, that strategy has been a life saver. But, I never looked at it like that, so thanks.

    One really good thing is that since taking so much of my focus off of my daughter, I can relax more and focus more on my granddaughter. She is in the 10th grade and has a lot of friends and a lot of teenage fun. She is nothing like her mother, thank God, she is really a wonderful 'normal' kid. I've been there for her for her whole life, sort of running interference between she and her mother when she still lived with her mother. I hadn't realized how important that was for her, to always have me there telling her it isn't your fault, your mother is unstable, it's your mothers problem, not yours. Now I can see that allowed her to thrive separately, not blaming herself, as kids will do. Whew. I guess she and I have been dodging bullets for a long time.

    I'm not entirely sure how to keep posting, do I keep writing on this "thread" or start a new one, is there some format I should be following, I've really not participated in anything like this before, so it's all new to me.

    Thank you all for your support, it is very valuable to me and I am wonderfully grateful!!
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I love hearing you talk about your granddaughter. She sounds like a bright and very mature young lady. You sound so positive and really are doing all the right things. It took me a lot longer to focus on what was important in life and start taking charge of my own happiness.

    As far as format you can continue responding to this thread or start a new post if you have a new subject to talk about. You can also respond to other members' posts. You have a lot to add and can help others with your insight.

    We are glad to have you here.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks Nancy, yes, my granddaughter is a gift to me. When I see her laughing with her friends it brings all of it into perspective for me, her joy is the salve that heals my heart. I feel very bonded to her, different then with my daughter, even when my daughter was sort of sane. I can't explain it really, just a deep connection with her, she and I are a lot alike, and I love that she is compassionate towards her mother, she can see the damaged soul her mom is and she can put aside the abuse she suffered at her mothers hands, and still feel empathy. I am very proud of her. And, it helps heal my own feelings of guilt that I couldn't raise a healthy child, even though I know that it isn't my fault. To see my granddaughter thriving and planning for college, planning a future, it makes me feel so good about myself, that I can contribute to her life. I think I blamed myself for so long about my daughter, thinking if I could just do more, give more, do something more, she would be okay. But, I had to give up that expedition, it's useless. Thank you for your comments, it really helps.
  11. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    hello and welcome. I too had to put my adult child out of my home. Actually two of them. One is doing fairly well while the other is not getting it and revolves in and out of prison. He lived on the streets for a while and I too worried when it was cold or if he had enough to eat. It took a while to realize that my efforts to help him were futile as long as he would not help himself. It is hard to learn how to not enable especially when there is mental illness involved. Finally after a horrible dark time, that only my little grandchildren saved me from ( they were my only bright spot a true becon in the storm), I was able to let go and start to live again. You are indeed doing all the right things. Recovering from co-dependancy is a process that evolves one day at a time. I am glad your grand daughter is doing well in spite of all she has endured. I am also gald you have each other.
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you for your kind and compassionate words, it means a lot to me. I am so sorry about your issues with your children. Yes, it is very hard not to enable when they are mentally unstable. I'm glad you got through the dark times with your grandbabies help, they truly are beacons of light. I can see how it is one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. With all the support I have here with all of you, with CoDa, my Codependency group, my therapist, my best girlfriends, my fiancee, and my granddaughter, I can wade through the stormy sea and not drown in all the difficult feelings. Isn't it remarkable how humans can endure so much pain and still motor on? We are very strong indeed. And, yes, my granddaughter and I have each other, we are aware of the preciousness of that. Staying in gratitude helps me, even when I can't always see what there is to be grateful for through the pain of losing my daughter. I guess the key is to accept what is. That's my goal right now.
  13. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome. It sounds like you are involved in a great program, I'm so glad. I had to put my Oldest out at 19, so I have some personal experience with this as well. She's managed to find places to live, and has held jobs, so that's something. She did live in her car for a couple days once, but ultimately she's proven to be a survivor. I'm facing the possibility of having to say "no" to my Youngest and grandchildren living with me ... so I'm not out of the woods yet. And, I watched my parents struggle with my oldest brother's untreated mental illness, and put him in and our of their household for years, when finally at age 40 he was kicked out for good (well, almost.. he showed up on my elderly mom's doorstep after my dad died... and I had to deal with kicking him out on her behalf). My brother has been homeless for many many years. I have no contact with him, except when he pops up on on the internet occasionally (via libraries, I assume).

    The bottom line is, you're not alone. So many of us here understand. Another book I can recommend, since you mentioned the possibility of borderline, is "The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder" by Randi Kreger. It's a follow-up to the successful book "Stop Walking on Eggshells," and is in my opinion an even better book.

    Hugs. Your granddaughter is lucky to have you.
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I am so very sorry. It sounds like you have already made up your mind and have listed EXCELLENT reasons for your decision. You have done your best. Additionally, she is in her THIRTIES, you have had 20 years of losses and sorrows, you are 62 years old, are raising her daughter, have a fiancee, are desirous of your own life (rightly so) and perhaps most of all, your daughter is NOT willing to admit she has a problem, is NOT willing to get help or to make any personal efforts to get better and here is the icing on the cake: you said she is unaware of the pain and suffering she leaves behind. This is a NO WIN SITUATION if there ever was one.
    Right now your responsibility is to yourself (#1), your grandchild and to your fiancee. Period. 20 years is enough time for your daughter to show some improvement. If you wish, periodically, IF and only if it is SAFE, you can steer her to the right mental health services. But, best for you to DETACH and stay out of her life. If (and that is a big 'if') at some point down the road she decides to get healthier, tries hard and gets treatment, perhaps you can resume SOME interaction. But for now, I would leave it in the hands of your Higher Power. Good that you are reading these wonderful books! Know in your heart that you did your best and move forward. Here is a good link to read over:

    Developing Detachment | LIVESTRONG.COM
  15. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I like your advice, mine is 33 with the 37 yo girlfriend from hell. I told difficult child that she certainly made sure she burned her bridges with his family. It is sad that I had to call the police to stops her nasty calls and emails, but they have stopped!!!!!

    I can not understand the attraction, but I have only seen her dark side, hopefull she is not always like that. Anyway she is not welcome in my home, I forgive her but never have to see or speak to her again.

    So sorry anyone has to go through this for so long, I thought after the teens, maybe even twenties difficult child would change. Now I'm beginning to think he will always be this way. Very sad but I have to accept it and remind myself of the blessings in my life.

    I agree you are a saint and loving person. Your gand is very lucky to have you.

    Blessings to us all!

  16. richardluthar

    richardluthar New Member

    They was Thank you for your kind words, it is so helpful in life. we get sucked into continuing to enable them because we are afraid to let go, because she doesn't need a mom who is debilitated by her brothers ridiculous antics. you can finally concentrate on your happiness.
  17. Bean

    Bean Member

    I'm working on this as well. My daughter is 20, and though I have hope for brighter days, I know the reality is that this could go on for years and years. That alone has put me in a place where I have been working hard to separate myself from the toxic behaviors and drama situations. It is not easy, and is a daily battle.