is my situation not as serious as most?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Landshark, Jun 3, 2014.

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  1. Landshark

    Landshark New Member

    I am new to this forum, as of yesterday, and I have already derived some comfort from what I am reading.
    My story is this: my difficult child daughter is hitting rock bottom, personally, financially and emotionally. She has always been the outsider, the loner, since middle school. At least that is how it appeared from my point of view. She had friends, but she wasn't one to invite them over nor did she go to their homes. But I digress.

    She left home under unpleasant circumstances and was out of touch for about 7 years. She came back home, lived with me for a couple of years, got a license in cosmetology. She was unable to keep a job in the field and ended up telemarketing for a shady firm. That place closed about a year and a half ago and she spent a year on unemployment. That ended in January. She has been living with a boyfriend so I have not had too much to worry about, except that I wish she was living a 'better' life.

    Now the boyfriend is leaving and that means she will have no one to support her. I have contributed $ and paid bills on and off but I have not been a substantial financial support. With his departure, she is in real trouble. My problem is that she seems unwilling to look for work and that has been true for quite awhile. She appears to do nothing all day long and refuses to take suggestions.

    It should be said that she has lived on the streets before, some time spent in New Orleans and California. She has told tales of soup kitchens, having nowhere to live and nowhere to go. She recently agreed to seek help and is on Prozac. She also recently admitted to cutting, albeit rarely. Her self esteem is at an all time low, I think. She will not have a dialogue with me about her future and she avoids my questions at all costs. Her default reaction to people in general is "they are stupid" and to my questions "I don't know." A relative has said this about her: her goal in life is not to be bothered.

    So as you can see, she is not stealing, not in jail, not hurting me in any physical way. It is the mental toll of "how much do I help, do I just rent her an apartment, what is my role?" She does not drive, does not have any friends, she cannot afford a phone and will soon be all alone once the boyfriend moves out. She has applied for welfare and food stamps. I feel so sorry for her, how her life has turned out. I try to help, scouring the want ads and sending her the links to apply. I take her grocery shopping and ask if she needs anything. Her answer is always "I'm fine" and then I look in her kitchen and there is no food at all.

    I hesitated to write because my story seems so much calmer than most I've read here on this forum. But writing it down has helped immensely.
  2. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    you have come to the right place, and you have as much right to be here, share in the sharing, and read and post as the rest of us.
    You have a grown up "failure to launch" daughter...that is what we all have, and then they fire off in different directions from there.
    I'm sorry about your daughter. That sounds very hard and sad. My son also is not mean, threatening, or demanding (although he has been in jail a few times). He is just....not engaged in the expectations of society, with a cheerful smile and a great ability to avoid. He lives on the street now, has for two years. I was about to post about him (and I too have been hesitant to post lately because of the greater crises on the board) when I read your post.

    ah...that is the crux of it, isn't it?
    Your role is as you wish it to be...nothing more, nothing left. Now is a good time to step back and take a long look at what that wish might be...not the wish where your daughter finally gets up, washes her face, goes out and gets her drivers license and a job and the two of you go to lunch (and she buys). Not that wish...the one where you see her for who she is, and figure out what it means to YOU to be her mom now.

    You don't say how old she is, but quick math makes it sound like late 20's maybe?

    Does she have a diagnosis of any sort? Is she mentally ill? Is she drug addicted? If not the former, why does she deserve welfare and food stamps? Why does she not have the expectation of working for her food and shelter as the rest of us do? Think a bit about that, mom...why is she excused?

    Why doesn't she drive? Why has her life turned out this way?

    Without waiting for the answers, I have to say...her life is this way because she chooses it and the people around her (her boyfriend, and you) have enabled it. She has been able to keep a roof over her head and food on the table because you two have helped. She chooses not to work...that is fine. She knows what she is choosing, she has already been on the street.

    How is this working for you? Are you getting the results you seek?
    I'm guessing the answer to this is no. She is not following the links, and not applying. You are taking time you could put into work, your house, your other loved ones, yourself, or charity...and wasting it. She is not following up. She too, can look at the help wanted pages, believe me. If you stop sending her links it will not change things one tiny bit.

    Is she incredibly skinny, like, starving?

    If this new or is this her way?

    If not...she is telling you who she is and what she does and doesn't want. She doesn't want you to buy her food. She doesn't want you to send her ads.

    And you can't make her rise to the occasion.

    You asked if you should pay rent....I guess I would ask you what end? Do you think if you pay rent she will get better? Do you think eventually she will choose to get a job and pay her own rent? Or do you think that when the time comes that you get tired of it, or spent down, that she will still not be working? Is this a bridge with an end in sight?

    If not, I would say...bite the bullet now and let her be on her own.

    Or you will be in the same place in 5 years, and so will she.

    The only way for her to learn to manage the world is to....have to manage the world.

    The only way for you to help her is to get yourself out of the middle of that task.

    I say this like it is is not. Our hearts ache, we feel sad and guilty and annoyed and upset. But none of those feelings, and few or none of our actions, will help our difficult child's. Only they can help themselves.

    Good luck to you. Of course you have a right to post. We will be right here for you.

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  3. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Stazard and welcome. It sounds like you have been sheltered from difficult child problems since she had a boyfriend who took care of her. Now, she will probably turn to you and you need to prepare a response.

    It would help to know how old she is since that might change my advice. If she is in her mid to late twenties or older, I would say to stop all help and let her figure this out. She will have no reason to try to take care of herself if you rush in and rescue her now.

    I had to learn this the hard way. After years of helping our daughter and fixing things for her, I finally learned to set boundaries and let her figure things out on her own.

    I won't pretend that it will be easy but she if she has food stamps and welfare she won't starve. I have also heard that there are government programs for phones. You only get a few minutes per month but at least she can use it when applying for jobs.

    She has lived on the streets and survived. It is up to her if this is the life she wants for she wants to make changes.

  4. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    It sounds as if your daughter is suffering from depression. I would think that her life experiences have contributed to this. I think if I was in her situation I would also be depressed. From years of trying to help my son, I would say that there is not really anything you can do, as she has to want to seek help herself and it is really positive that she has done this and has started taking Prozac. I think you have to give this time to begin working and time for whoever she is seeing for help to begin to make a difference. You must not blame yourself or torture yourself with 'what-ifs'. I think if you support her financially etc then she will be less likely to take action herself to improve her situation. I know it is really hard as a mother to do this. For my son, the worst thing I did was to enable him to not have to work and to not have to get up and go out and sort himself out. One of the worst things for depression is to stay in and do nothing all day. I hope that the treatment she has started will lead to an improvement in her state of mind. You can be there for her, but not do things for her. If you pay her rent and buy her food and allow her to "not be bothered", then things will not change. You have to use some tough love.

    All our stories are different. All our worry and stress and sadness is individual. My son isn't in jail or taking drugs. It doesn't mean his situation causes me less anguish than someone whose child is both of these things. I hope you find some helpful peace and strength from both posting here and reading here. We're not experts and we're not comparing or judging stories. We're just sharing experiences in the hope of somehow being able to figure this all out.
  5. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    i'm so glad you found us but sorry you needed to, your concerns about your daughter are very valid. i agree with all my heart what the other posters have said, if you rent her apartment she will never learn how to take care of her needs and be able to stand on her own two feet. if she is totally dependent on you what happens to her if something happens to you? God forbid

    not sure if you are in the united states or not but if so give her the phone number for community mental health and urge her to get a case opened with them. they not only can help with treatment and medications but have programs to help with housing, job hunts, have life skill coaches, can even provide her with transportation or bus passes to get to the services she needs.

    if she is employable they will help her get employment, if not they will help her apply for long term assistance; most welfare programs only go for a couple years then they cut you off. welfare is temporary the rest of her life is not a temporary situation. she needs a hand up not a hand out at this point.

    thank you for posting and sharing with us - that's what we are here for, i'll pray for both of you

  6. Landshark

    Landshark New Member

    Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. For those of you have asked, she is almost 33 yrs old. And yes, we are in the US. I have no clue about mental health services such as some of you have mentioned. That information gives me hope and will perhaps give her the same hope.
  7. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I have a 50ish step brother that would never work a day in his life, he is not depressed, or on drugs, just not motivated to do anything with his life. He also has a BA that he went to school for about 10 years full time so he didn't have to work. As long as he was in school mommy paid all expenses. He was really close to graduating and decided to change majors. He is also a loner and most people think he is just plain weird! Very immature to boot, he is growing is hair long 'cause long hair is a 'chic magnet', his words lol!

    My mother married his dad after I had left home and I try to carry on any sort of conversation just to be polite. I started to lose patience when he told me a few years ago at Thanksgiving that he wasn't interested in working and didn't feel as that was a problem since he is the only child with both sides of parents. I took that conversation to mean he is going to 'wait them out' until the insurance money rolls in lol!

    His mother pays for all his dentist and other medical bills. She recently purchased a home in Daytona Beach and wants him live in it to house watch, she will be paying all expenses. THEN she bought a him BMW 'cause she didn't want the neighbors to see his trashy car in her driveway.

    He hasn't moved yet 'cause he is still trying to decide if he wants the responsibility of the upkeep of a home lol! He says he also doesn't think he can tolerate her when she visits from Germany.

    I feel sorry for him because everyone avoids him, but I can only stand him in short spurts. It is really difficult to figure out why people are not motivated to take care of themselves.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Drugs usually. If she's out of touch for that long, I'm betting drugs were or are in the picture. Since she was out of touch you don't really know what was going on all those years. Whatever it was, SHE made the decision to live that life. She is too old to legitimately blame anyone else for that.

    There is nothing anyone can do to force a 33 year old to seek help. There is nothing anyone but the person herself can do to take care of herself. If she wants to feel better badly enough, there are resources out there she can use.

    I hope one day she takes the time to love herself and solve her problems. But I haven't seen any examples of adults being able to fix adults. It wasn't very nice of her to stay out of touch for seven years either.

    Why can't she support herself?

    Ok, say she can't or won't. There is welfare, small efficiency studio apartments, food programs and Medicaid. Guess she can apply for them. Of course, getting a job would be best, but often our difficult children tend to not want to ever grow up or play by the rules and want Dad and Mom to support and care for them all their lives. I wonder what they will do when we are gone, if we don't force them to find their own strengths...

    I don't know much about your story so there isn't much to say good to yourself and don't let your daughter's woes ruin YOUR life or deplete you both emotionally and physically. There must be others who love you dearly and want you to be the best YOU both for yourself and them. It is amazing how one difficult child can ruin us completely and for everyone (including ourselves)...but only if we allow it. Please don't.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    I just want to say it out straight. I just don't like people like this. I just don't have any interest in being around people whose only topic of interest is themselves.

    Usually, they make no sense when they talk, they just rant, they have no idea how the world really works, they just complain endlessly and they contribute nothing that I can see. I just don't want to be around people like that. They are boring. They have no real interests or goals. They have nothing to talk about. Their world is very small.

    Yes, that is all the time I want to spend with someone like that and truly, if I didn't love him (my son) I would really not want to spend even that amount of time.

    Why would I (or we)? Don't we want to be around people who are interesting, give as much as they take, are our co-equal, have something to say, are doing something interesting, are making things happen?

    May I am just judgmental (I am, I know that already) here, but that's just my gospel truth.
  10. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The level of mental health services vary by state. You could contact a local NAMI chapter and see what is available in your area. Your daughter would still have to want the help.

    RE found all sorts of mental health services for her daughter who was in similar circumstances to your daughter and even set up an appointment but her daughter didn't show up for the appointment.

    You can only do so much and then it is up to them.

  11. Landshark

    Landshark New Member

    So much advice from this forum and from my friends has a common thread, take care of yourself. And yet, I can't abandon my daughter right now, when she is going to be alone for the first time in a very long time.
    She finally agreed to talk to someone (only once, but it was a positive experience) and to take Prozac.
    I feel certain she is not on drugs and I could be deluding myself. Once again, I say that she is not in jail, not selling herself, not hurting anyone but herself. I don't think I can detach at this crucial juncture, instead I want to try to spend time with her, small amounts, no smothering, no questioning. Me, Polyanna? Maybe.
    I am so fearful of her being homeless, rational fear or not, it doesn't matter right now. Yes, she has been homeless, but always as part of a couple. She has never fended entirely for herself.
    And I know, I am still not allowing her to do so.
    Why is this so hard?
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  12. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    She's 33. You have to let go. Not let go of being her mother, but let go of being her mommy.

    A lot of us have been mommies when we should have been mothers. We get how hard this is.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You may not want her to be homeless, but this is about her, not you. She chose to live on the streets before and was ok with it. She never did get herself in a good place and she could have.

    Where did she go for seven years? She survived without you for so long. I think it is probably a given she has gotten into a lot of bad stuff that you don't know about and probably never will. This is not just about depression because depression is common and most depressed people still work and don't wander around the country with probably toxic partners. It is honestly very hard for me to believe she lived a clean life, didn't steal, didn't use drugs, wasn't in trouble, nothing for seven whole years as she lived homeless across the country. It really just doesn't work that way. Logic says she had to survive outside the lines of normal society. I am certainly not sure, and am not trying to hurt you, but I don't think you really know your daughter. There is nothing you can do for her at age 33. She is hitting middle age. Do you want to be 80 and still supporting a 60 year old daughter because she can't take care of herself? She has made the choices she made. It is on her. You have no reason to feel sorry for her since she has done nothing to help herself. At her age, it is on her to do it, not you. My guess is she is better off alone than her boyfriend of choice as a normal functional boyfriend, who is not on drugs or doing illegal stuff, would not want to live the lifestyle they lived. They were in their 30's. The older they get being helpless, the less the chances are that they will ever take care of themselves.

    It is your decision, but you will not help or change her one bit by enabling her to have someone else always taking care of her. I hope you live a long, long time and are in great health, but all of us must die. Our adult children will have to then survive on their own. They need to be ready.

    Hugs for your hurting mommy heart.
  14. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I don't think anyone is saying to cut off all ties. We are saying...don't pay her rent. Don't buy her food. You can help her find mental health support, food stamps, all that...point the direction and step out of the way. She HAS to figure stuff out herself. Babysitting a 33 year old (and as MWM pointed out, she was on her own for 7 years!) is not good for her in the long or even medium run. ITs as though you carried your baby all the time because you didn't want them to get hurt by they can never possibly learn to walk.

    But by all means stay in loving touch with her, no one (I don't think) is telling you you have to close the door. That is s different choice, under different circumstances, that some of us feel we have to make. It doesn't sound like you are there at all, nor would we push you to be.

    Hugs today.. Its hard.

  15. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    You don't have to defend your choices to us. You are the one who knows yourself, your daughter, your situation and your goals in this situation best, not some strangers in Internet. There are no laws that say you have to do this or that, when it comes to your adult loved one. You can cut them off, you can keep some communication open, but practise what many call detaching or not enabling, or you can decide to help more. No one knows what works best for you or your daughter. Your best hunch is most likely the most reliable source of information.

    Many tend to think that what worked for them or what they like to do is the best method for all. And we have a tendency to see parallels to our own experiences in other people situations (for example I tend to wonder when I read certain type of crime news if it had to do with compulsive gambling and gambling debts.) We see or hear about certain type of behaviour and we look it through the glasses of our own experience. If we look it through the classes of drug abuse, we believe it is about drugs, if we see it through glasses of certain type of mental or neurological disorder, we tend to see signs of those and so on. However we certainly do not have a big picture. You are the one who has the best understanding of what the big picture could be in your situation, so go with you own hunch about things.

    We can't change other people, we can only change our own behaviour and see, if other person changes their behaviour in response for that. For some people cutting off gives a swift kick to the bottom they needed and they take inventive to better their lives, with some, it only makes things deteriorate faster. For some lots of hand holding and helping makes them achieve small steps forward and towards independence, for some that just keeps them stagnant. Catch 22 is that you don't know beforehand how it will go and will never know if different type of behaviour from your part would have given a better response. But because you are the one who will be living with those choices, those doubts, those shoulda, coulda, wouldas it is best to do what you feel is the right (or least wrong) thing to do.
  16. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Totally agree with Suzir!
  17. layne

    layne Member

    I tend to have a soft spot for your daughter after reading this story. Sometimes it's really not difficult child fault to be in the position they are in and I believe this is one of the rare cases. Please allow her to stay with you. It's so hard for a woman to make it on her own in this cold world and all by themselves. It's impossible.
  18. Crying Uncle

    Crying Uncle New Member

    Full disclaimer, I am related to the original poster. Have been seeking solace on the boards. Wanted to thank everyone even though replies vary greatly. It's very rewarding to know others out there want to help and care for the well being of people they don't even know. Reassuring.
  19. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Stazerd, gentle hugs to you today. Most of us come to this board because we are completely spent. We have tried it all, and nothing has worked. We have given and given and given and in many cases, like mine, our difficult child is even worse.

    Here, and in other places, like Al-Anon, we finally see a light after so much darkness for so very long. That light is stop what you are doing, and here, go this way instead. Give this path a try. And here is how I have walked this path, we hear, from our friends here on this board.

    We can choose the new path or we can stay on the same path we are on. That is always our choice and our right. You can take what you like and leave the rest. You don't have to do a single thing we mention and like Suzir said, only you know your situation. Only you know what you can live with, today. I respect that.

    Many of us, just like our drug-addicted children/adults, are completely sick and tired or being sick and tired when we come here. We are ready, we are reaching, we are anxious for a new way to live our own lives.

    And as we listen and learn and work, we start to feel better, many of us. I don't know about you, but I am sick to death of being miserable all of the time because of my son's life choices. I have a great, wonderful, blessed life, apart from his effect on me.

    And I honestly, truly, do believe here today, that there is not one single solitary thing I can do or not do that will change the course of what he decides to do.

    Based on that belief, I am working toward a new life. I still love him so much, please know that. We are the same here, with that love, I believe.

    But we may have different ways of behaving and that is perfectly fine.

    Big warm hugs to you today. We are here for you, and we will keep telling you the best truth we can---that we know and understand---always with compassion, respect and understanding. Take what you like and leave the rest.
  20. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Strictly speaking this is not exactly true. This board is not only about adult, addicted children. And I'm sure most people in early childhood zone have not tried it all or are sick and tired with how their kids make them feel. While board has lately been dominated by topics about adult substance abusers this is much boarder board than that. And dominating topics tend to come and go. I suspect it has lots to do with Google offering you fresh topics when you try to google something, because it feels that there are long periods when every new member has a toddler with aspie type issues, or 19 year old with failure to launch or 10 year old with IEP troubles. Lately it has been homeless adults with substance abuse issues. And for some reason many active members with younger kids or kids with neurological challenges have stopped writing lately so if you only look for recent topics, this may seem like substance abuse board. However many of us do have other issues with our kids. That colours those glasses I was talking about too.

    Especially when dealing with life long difficult child you of course have time to try this and that. Many have. Some end up to the situation there you have nothing else to do but let go. Many find answers and help along the way and things may get better. But most certainly are not in the place to let go when they come to this board.

    I for example was a long time lurker before signing up. I first found this board when my difficult child was a younger teen by googling conduct disorder and parent support. Before finding this place I was a long time member with local board for parents of ADHD, aspie, mentally ill or developmentally disabled kids, but wanted to find something outside of our area to protect difficult child's identity. That came especially crucial few years later when difficult child's issues ended up to media. difficult child's issues since have included also compulsive gambling, but for him it is just a symptom of other issues and not even the main one. And while he was at least in verge of diagnosis of conduct disorder in one point, that either has not ended up his main issue and he is also part of that majority who recovers from conduct disorder without it evolving to for example personality disorder.

    What I'm trying to say, both we and our kids have very varying backgrounds and histories here. Neither are our goals necessary the same (for example I'm at the mind that I have enough time to be serene in my grave, serenity or loosing attachment to full life with ups and downs and strong negative and positive feelings is not a goal for me.) When we decide what we do, we have to do so from where we stand, not from the point of view of other person with other goals, experiences and history.

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