Letting difficult child go.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by W247, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. W247

    W247 New Member

    Hi all, here's my story:

    I just found this forum after searching all over the internet, trying to find out how to cope with walking away from an adult child. So I m new here.
    My difficult child will be 23yo this year. Four months ago she was married, has two kids, a home, a car, a job. AS of this weekend, she is homeless, no job, no car, no husband, and will soon lose custody of her kids but is pregnant with her boyfriend's child.

    2 years ago she was diagnosed as BiPolar (BP), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and has always been a chronic liar. She has refused to get treated. Her 4 year marriage has been rocky from the start, with multiple affairs and financial woes. This recent episode started in April when her husband found out that she was communicating with old boyfriend's on the internet. He had enough and told her to leave. This began the worse descent she has ever had into this illness. She hooked up with a guy who has fed into her disease to use her and manipulate her. She pawned all her stuff to give him money so that he can continue his habit. This is when she stopped seeing her kids, stopped paying her bills, lost her job andbecame homeless. We spent two months trying to talk her into coming home so that we can get her cleaned up and out of that lifestyle, so that she can see her kids and get her life back on track. We could never get her alone without the boyfriend being there. It finally took my husband and her Ex-husband going over to where she was and physically dragging her home with a warning to the boyfriend not to get in touch with her. This lasted for about 2.5 weeks while she tried to repair the relationship with her Ex-husband. It didn't work out and she ended up on our doorstep this last Thursday, pregnant with the now EX-boyfriend's child. We brought her in, grateful that she came home, sat her down, made a plan for her life which included going back to school and staying home. We were going to take care of all her expenses, the one thing we specified she could not do was to get into contact with the EX-boyfriend. This lasted for exactly one night. She was off to "visit friends" and we have not seen her since.

    What I wrote above is more of a clinical "this is what happened" post. It really doesn't represent all the heartbreak, tears and sleepless nights. This doesn't include me battling for her life and reputation with people that don't understand mental illness. Those people that called her horrible names to my face while I was screaming "but that's my baby girl! She is sick don't you understand!" . On the flipside I am getting yelled at for not "fighting for her" anymore. I feel like I am being ripped into two.

    But to my horror, I just walked away from her. I can't take the stress and worry anymore, battling for her life when it is the life that she keeps pulling herself too. I know this isn't the life she wants, she just cant seem to get herself to a place where she can get some "fresh air" and breath. I can't handle the questions from my grandbabies when they are asking me why Mommy hasn't come to see them yet. My 4 yo grandson was in tears when he realized that mommy wasn't coming to see him. It is heartbreaking. I feel like I had to make the choice to save my grand kids FROM their mother,my daughter. This is not the little girl I raised. It's horribly tragic.

    My heart aches every moment of the day. It's only been two days since she walked away and we let her go.

    How do you get through this kind of pain and still try to live day to day?
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    W247, I am so, so sorry. I'm glad you found us, we are a group of parents who know how you feel. I personally know exactly the heartbreak you speak of and I know others will be along who also know and understand how you feel. Hang in there. Keep posting.

    You made the only choice left to you. When our adult kids do not want help there is nothing we can do. You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post. In my opinion, having gone through this treacherous landscape, you will need professional help, a therapist, a group, someone or someones who will guide you, support you, hold you up and give you the tools you need. You may want to get in touch with NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. You can access then online, they have chapters everywhere and they can help. They have parent groups and will be able to give you much needed information and support. I myself got into a year and a half long codependency program through a large HMO where I got private therapy and got into a group of other parents who had kids who are mentally ill. It was all a lifesaver to me. I needed all of that support to navigate myself through the hardest thing I've ever had to do. You CAN find a way to live with this. But, you will need help.

    It is tragic, that's a perfect way to put it. The problem for us parents is that we are powerless to change another or make choices for them, only they can make those changes. It is a process. Detachment is something which goes against our parental instincts to protect, nurture, support, love and take care of. However, our kids put us on a different planet, one where all the rules are different and it takes time and a commitment to shift our beliefs and our understanding so that we can not only survive but thrive as well. All you can do is learn to respond differently to your daughter's choices, to accept what you cannot change, to find some peace in the midst of all of the chaos of someone else's choices, to recognize your powerlessness and find a way to live your own life with joy. I know now that probably seems like a tall order, but it is possible.

    Begin to focus on YOU. Take care of YOU. Focus on your grand-babies and your husband. You deserve a healthy, peaceful life. At this point it's going to be up to you to achieve that by the detachment process you've already begun. Keep posting, we can be here to support you as you go through this, we 'get it.' I'm glad you found us. Keep posting. I wish you peace.
  3. W247

    W247 New Member

    Thank you for the article, it was very helpful.

    Today I am exhausted. Last night was another intense episode with her, and my extended family ( my parents and sisters who live out of state). It seems that I am caught in the middle of "Not doing enought for her and just thinking about myself" and "you need to protect yourself and the grandbabies from her right now, she is not thinking straight". All of this ending in an over the phone screaming match with my mother. I am going to look into NAMI to see if they have a chapter here where I live. husband has been a rock, but is also starting to go through depression through this all.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. My very first bit of advice is to stop talking to your immediate family about this adult child. They will think what they like and do what they want and give a lot of clueless and unhelpful advice, but it should not influence what you do. If you need a total break from all of them for a while, I suggest it. They are not in my opinion giving you good feedback. I'm so sorry. Family can be great or our worst enemy, but we can tune them out when we have to. Also, the grandbabies have their father. They are not your legal responsibility. Unless you plan on suing Dad for custody, they are HIS to care for. Now onto your daughter...

    What you're going through is very painful and I sort of have a hands on take of this because I was diagnosed with both bipolar and I know I have had at least some borderline traits, not extreme as your daughter, but I know how the moodswings go. So maybe I have a tougher outlook on how you can help her.

    Sounds like an enmeshed family with everyone in everyone's business and nobody afraid not to tell you what you SHOULD do to make you feel guilty. Mom may need to be put on the backburner for a while. She sounds like she is very stressful to you and you don't need that. You SHOULD be thinking about yourself. More about this later, but that' s not a bad thing. It's a good thing.

    First of all, my parents didn't help me and it hurt at the time, but it was so much better for me that I was on my own. Because I knew they would not be there, I made a very strong effort to get better. Your daughter is no longer your baby. I know she will always be your baby to you because I have four kids myself, but she is a young woman and mental illness is NO BLATANT excuse to go on the internet, have affairs, leave your kids, get involved with really nasty men and ruin your life. I am left to assume that she is not in treatment, which is HER responsibility and is probably not on medications, which is HER decision, and is probably using recreational drugs, which she can decide is not a good idea and stop.

    Your daughter is not a victim. She is refusing to help herself and she knows you will take care of her like she is a small child because you feel sorry for her. But think about what she is doing to her kids? You can not make her get her life together just by bringing her home. She has to decide to get her own life together. Mom, as we all had to learn, you can only control one person on earth and that is yourself. You have no legal rights to her and if/when she decides to run off and see the bad boyfriend(s) again, t here is nothing you can do to stop her.But you CAN refuse to let her come back home and allow her to experience homelessness so that maybe things will become so uncomfortable for her that she DOES get help. She needs that motivation and only SHE can get that motivation...nobody can give it to her.

    Borderline is a very hard disorder to reign under control. It is also possible to do it with DBT therapy, hard work, and introspection. SHE has to do the hard work. You can't help her. You can't do anything about it. I can not tell you how hard I worked at it and how many self-help books and groups I went to on top of listening to my psychiatrist and monitoring my own behavior. I never drank or took drugs because I knew it was bad for somebody with mental illness to even go there once. I had kids to raise and I never left them or threatened to leave them. I did not cheat on my spouse. That doesn't mean I never got angry or acted out, but it got better with time as I was determined to get better.

    You are under the false impression that you can help your daughter. You can only help yourself. If it is a stressor to have daughter at home perhaps she should not be there. If she is abusive to you again perhaps she needs to go it alone. Everyone has his/her own answer. in my opinion the more you baby her and deny that she can actually do much to make her life a good one, the more she will play up to it. Borderlines are big manipulators and will take a mile if you give them an inch.

    I am glad your in therapy. I hope the focus is not on your daughter, but is on YOU and how YOU can live a good, rich, fruitful life in spite of having a wayward daughter. It is not easy, but with time and good help and support it is doable. Detachment is possible and gets easier with time. I hope you can go there and help yourself.

    Hugs and post as often as you like. We are here for you.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know how hard it is. Others who aren't right there in the thick of it often have many opinions and judgments,however, without being in the trenches with you, they really don't know what it's like for you. Many of us have felt very alone through these ordeals. I'm sorry you are experiencing all of this chaos. Unfortunately, it often accompanies mental illness. Find support for yourself and your husband, this takes an enormous toll on us and you'll need that support to get back your lives in a healthy way. I really am sorry, I so know how you feel and I am sending you hugs and warm wishes that your path gets easier and much, much more peaceful.
  6. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    A warm welcome, W247.

    The only thing I have to add to the wonderful advice you have already been given is for you and husband to make a conscious effort to create a space in each day to relax and to reconnect with each other. Knowing you are going to reconnect with husband in a good way at the end of the day will give both of you the strength to get through the rest of it.

    I fully agree about limiting extended family involvement.

    I am so sorry this is happening.

  7. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member

    Hugs from me, too. I just got off the phone with my difficult child daughter, 20, BiPolar (BP) who lives in her fantasy world. It is almost cruel, when she has been stable for a while, being so sweet and then it hurts all over again when reality comes crashing down and I remember all the goals and dreams I had for her. I wish I didn't have a heart sometimes. Then it couldn't get broken over and over again. Know that you do have company in your sorrow and disappointment over your daughter. This forum is the only place I can go and know that everyone reading what I write really, really does understand.
  8. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I'm so sorry this is happening, W247. I don't know where the strength to survive it comes from.

    But I do know that you will survive it.

    The horror of what is happening, the futility of watching things get worse than you could ever imagine, no matter what you try or how hard you work or how much you spend or what sacrifice you are willing to make is indescribable.

    The pain and confusion in the eyes of our betrayed grandchildren, unspeakable.

    But it is what it is.

    We have to survive it. We don't get to choose.

    Something similar is happening to us. When it began, we were traumatized, horrified, literally could not stop thinking and rethinking how to help, what to do, how to make all this stop and put things back together the way they were. Among the survival skills we have learned through this horrible time is that, while we cannot control anything having to do with our daughter...we can choose how we define and understand what is happening. We can walk through whatever this is consciously.

    Once our grandchildren are safe, we can choose our emotional reactions to whatever it is that is going to happen next, to our daughters.

    It doesn't sound like much, but it makes all the difference in the world.

    Right now, right this minute, that knowledge, that discipline, is what is saving and preserving my outlook, my marriage, and my life. That ability to choose the tenor of my emotional response to the horror of what is still happening is what enables husband and I to ferret out and negate the resentment we feel at the futility, the stupidity and waste, the pain this past year has brought us all.

    It is what has given us the strength to cope with knowing our homeless, drunken, drug-addled daughter was being savagely beaten...and there was nothing, absolutely nothing, we could do but prepare ourselves to lose her.

    Right now, today? There have been some hopeful changes. Our heads are still spinning ~ but in the opposite direction.

    None of this is easy. There just don't seem to be any right answers. We don't want to enable. We don't want to be lied to. We can't turn away.

    Winter is coming.

    Somehow, we have to stand up through all this, and not lose our own emotional lives to our daughter's illness.

    There have been times during this past year when it felt like we had been physically battered.

    And we had.

    But we were doing it to ourselves.

    We were exhausted, depressed, angry, hopeful, crushed, and terrified by turn. In our minds and hearts, we lost the right to live our time, to claim joy or peace or rest. To understand our daughter was lying to us, was manipulating us ~ the taste of that betrayal left us feeling like the stupidest, most ineffectual people. It was worse, to hear the pain and confusion in her voice, to catch a glimpse of the true horror this all meant for her on those rare occasions when a flash of the truth of what was happening in her brain would come through.

    It is like living a nightmare.

    But we're still standing.

  9. elliedeb

    elliedeb New Member

    hi w247, so sorry you are going through this, and i am glad you have found this site. There is very little i can add to what has already been said by others. Our stories are not the same, but but i can see some clear similarities, and can relate to some of what you have said, especially all the heartbreak, tears and sleepless nights i too am a newbie here, and have received some incredible support and sound advice in such a short time. i know the advice i have received here is good advice, because if i was being asked what to do, i would give that same advice. all I can add is keep strong, keep posting and accept the support this site has to offer.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hey w247, welcome to our little corner of the internet. I have a lot of empathy for you because I know how hard it is to handle difficult children when other people want to stick their noses in.

    I can also understand because I have been your daughter. Oh I didnt do the exact same things but I have done many things that I regret very badly now. I am also bipolar and borderline. I wasnt diagnosed until my late 30's but after doing a whole lot of research I know I have had this since I was a child. However I didnt have a clue why I was acting so idiotic when I was younger. My current hubby used to think I had the worlds worst case of PMS because I might have one good week a month and the rest of the time I was horrible to live with. Thankfully he hung in there but Im sure a good share of the time was only because of our kids.

    Your daughter is only 23 and that is very young. A person's frontal lobe isnt even done growing until they are around 25 or so. Dont give up on her eventually coming around. It does get tiring to live the life of an unmedicated and untreated person with these diagnosis. One day she may wake up and realize she needs help.

    None of this is your fault and you truly cannot fix it for her. I also have kids with differing issues and so many times I have wished I could stick a band aid on them and fix all their problems for them but this is something we just cant fix alone. To those friends and family who think you are doing something wrong, well they havent been there and its easy to talk a good game. I have a good example of that. My step-mom used to brag about her grandson who was just a few years younger than my boys. Oh he was so perfect compared to my little hellions. Well I hadnt seen him in quite a few years when things started creeping into conversations. He wasnt doing as well in school when he got into high school. There was talk that he might not even graduate on time! Oh my was that an embarrassment...lol.

    A few years later my dad died and this grandson came to the wake with a couple of his friends and they reeked of pot. His mother and grandmother just pretended they didnt notice. On the other hand, me and my boys were laughing on the inside because Mr. Perfect had fallen from his throne.

    I guess what Im trying to say is that people who give all that advice and think that their kids are doing so well that they should be experts at telling you what to do, may end up with a big surprise one day. Life happens. What you need to do now is deal with this problem. Figure out what you are willing to put up with and what you arent. In my opinion this line will be drawn again and again. I have come to realize I can never say never with my kids. Sometimes you have to change expectations and that is okay. I cant even tell you how many times we have had to adjust our expectations with our kids.

    Right now is probably the worst time for you because this all came to a head pretty fast. The idea of therapy is a great one if you can find one who understands what we go through.

    I really do wish you the best.
  11. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    As hard as it is, you have to stop involving the other family members. This is ur cross to bear....their not in the thick of it. Cant possibly be capable of being/been wher u are in the process. Do what you know in your heart is right. Protect those babies from as much heartache as you can. Hugs!