Not the way I wanted her birthday to be

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Nancy, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    difficult child's 21st birthday is Wednesday. Since we paid her rent and gas bill we told her that was her birthday present. But then of course I felt bad that I had nothing to give her on her birthday so I asked if there was something little that she wanted and she said she would really like to get her hair done. So I got a gift certificate to the beauty shop and she is coming over Wednesday. I'm making her an angel food cake with chocolate frosting and grilling steaks out for dinner. husband wil be here for just a few minutes and then has to leave on a business trip so it will just be difficult child, myself and easy child after she gets home from work.

    The kids always got lots of cards and some gift certificates for their birthdays but I don't think any of them are going to send anything since they no longer even ask about her. It hurts but there is nothing I can do about that. I don't even think her grandfather is going to acknowledge it. So it will be a bittersweet day but I'm not sure she will even connect the dots to realize this is of her making.

    I got a call from her today that she could not renew her drivers license because she had an outstanding parking ticket. I was so torn about this but paid it for her online so she could get her license. I am walking a tightrope here between what is enabling and what is helping her get by until her paychecks start coming in. She needs to keep these jobs and she needs her car to get to them.

    Here's the really sad thing. She made a facebook event for her birthday inviting all her friends to a birthday bash starting at 11pm Tuesday and some local bars near her. She has one person that responded that he is coming, and he is an old drinking friend from our high school that she hasn't even seen in years. Of all the drinking/drugging friends she has not one is helping her celebrate her birthday. She seems to have lost all her drinking friends that she was hanging with over the past several months. None of them talk to her anymore and several have defriended her on fb.

    I suspect she will be spending her birthday in a bar alone getting drunk and probably picked up by some jerk. Not the way I wanted to celebrate her 21st.

    I had a very difficult time finding an appropriate birthday card for her and finally found what I think is the perfect sentiment:

    For a Special Daughter
    You'll Always Have My Love

    There are so many gifts
    I want for you on your birthday...

    I'd like to give you the gift of wisdom,
    but that's something
    only passing years can bring.

    I'd like to give you the gift of success,
    but that's something
    that only has true value
    if it's earned.

    I'd like to give you the gift of happiness,
    but the path that leads you there
    is one you must find on your own.

    But there is one gift
    that I can give you today
    that will always be with you--
    and that's my love.
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Nancy, I thought of you this weekend. As we celebrated my difficult children 21st as well. It was Friday. We went out to dinner and I thought of you. You see I felt guilty because I could offer my difficult child her first 'legal' drink at dinner. And I thought of you. And how you would not ever be able to do that. It certainly is a small thing, but I lost so many of those 'normal' moments when difficult child was little, that I thought this one little thing might be a special moment. She declined and did not even want a drink even though it was legal for her that day (she has only had a few drinking moments) and I then thought of you again and how I wished that same moment for you. The turning down the drink that is.

    But, your experience reminded me that offering that drink was not a special moment or a memory to be made. The turning down of the drink is the true proud parent moment. And the memory I will take with me and hopefully be able to always appreciate.

    Yes, certainly your difficult child is not in a good place right now. I get the paying the ticket, but if she loses this job. That has to stop. You can buy new shoes and pay a ticket.....SHE has to keep the job to show her appreciation to you that you did these things. She messes this one need to make it clear you are done helping her. It may not feel like enabling. But, essentially it is enabling the delay in rock bottom.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Nancy, gee, I am so very sorry. I completely understand the tightrope you walk between enabling and helping, I posted about my recent events with my difficult child yesterday, feeling much the same as you. I feel I turned another corner (who knew there were so many of those!) on the detachment/acceptance path, it feels different somehow. I feel your sadness for your difficult child, I feel that way too. It is so sad. The sentiment in the card is lovely and I know that's how you feel, me too. I will say a prayer for you and I and our difficult child's. Hugs to you.......
  4. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Hey Nancy; {{{hugs}}}

    The sentiment in the card made me teary.

    I am struggling like you to resist the urge to try to scoop up my difficult child and "make" him better, To toe the line between being his mother and being his enabler. And I am constantly reminding myself that I can't fix him...

    Ridiculous, isn't it? I've tried to fix him so many times and they've had disastrous, and heartbreaking results. Yet, WANTING TO MAKE HIM WHOLE is my first instinct.

    I don't have the answers. In my head; I know Wend is right, I reread the "how to stop enabling" primer twice this week...and it makes sense for everyone but me. (snort, I am being sarcastic, I could tell a hundred people to apply it, but balk on trying it myself, I know I am a hypocrite)

    I don't want to be "that" (militant, non enabling?) mother. Yet, I don't want to be the mother I am right now either. What I really want is to be the mother of 3 healthy pcs. And that's not in the cards. So, I am here. I get it. I am holding your hand, and struggling by your side. And right now I am feeling like I have to put my need/desire to be a MOTHER to my difficult child ABOVE whatever "may be technically best" for difficult child.

    Please know I don't mean to hijack your post or make it about me. I just sense that we are struggling with the same things lately. I am weary of all this. And starting to feel like I am 100 years old. And Wend, I am not picking you either; I know you are right. But I am struggling with doing what's right for difficult child and what's right for me. (Within reason of course.)
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Sig... You may be many things, but "hypocrite" isn't one of them. A hypocrite preaches at others (and no, you don't do that, not around here anyway...!), with absolutely no intention of ever practicing it themselves. You have intentions, you know somehow that you have to find your way forward... you just haven't found the path that works for you yet. So, drop THAT label. Now. You're just like the rest of us... sharing what we know, even if it's things that we haven't proven for ourselves but have seen work for others.

    Nancy... I love that card. It's a really appropriate message.
  6. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    What a perfect card. It is very kind of you to have her over for her 21st b/day and bake a cake and grill the steaks. It's good to leave the door open...who knows? This birthday (this year) may hold a revelation for her. Since her facebook invitation thing is not exactly brimming with RSVPs, maybe she's going to realize that people are going to move past her, and she will not want to continue being so blind.
    I do believe that good always conquers evil. It may take some more time, but keep on praying. She's young and immature. It'll take her longer to "get it" but I'm sure she will get it after all.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sig we are struggling with what is right for us and our difficult child's and there are no easy answers.

    difficult child got her ticket downtown when she went for her interview with her employer. Our downtown parking is ridiculous., she had to use a meter and it expired because she was in longer than she thought. I made her send me a picture of the ticket and I verified this info. She wasn't out drinking or somewhere she shouldn't be. If I didn't pay the ticket and she couldn't renew her license she wouldn't be able to work and right now she is working two jobs and staying out of trouble. If she had gotten a DUI or underage drinking ticket that would have been different. Like I say I am struggling with how far to help her when she is trying to do the right thing.

    I am not going to make her stop drinking, only she can do that. And she is not going to do that right now. She just turned 21 and she needs to feel that she has had all the fun that all her peers are having. Until she experiences that and probably the consequences of that nothing will change. It is really naive of us to think she is going to stop at this point in her life. If her drinking interferes with her job and she gets fired it is on her.

    And so I need to do what I feel is right at the time. I am hoping that she is learning some of the life lessons that she is confronted with. It's all I can do.

    BW thanks for thinking of me on your difficult child's special day and you should be so proud of her. I am hurting that I can't share her right of passage.

  8. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    That's kinda where I am too. Let's face it - NONE of this feels right - so we do our best. And when they make good choices we fan those flickers into flames hoping they will be the choices that take hold.
  9. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member


    The choices are difficult. You are supporting the glimmers of hope knowing that your daughter will hopefully continue to grow and develop. All these decisions are so hard. Too bad she can't just come and spend Tuesday night with your family. I hope she comes for her birthday dinner.

    There is such a difficult balance, letting them learn the hard way without totally destroying themselves. We face that with my eldest son, trying to get him to take responsibility for himself.

    hugs to you..
  10. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest


    Loved the card!!! May have to find that one when my difficult child turns 21 in October!!! And I totally understand and relate to where you are. It is a tightrope we all walk.... because we want to show them we love them, desperately want them to believe it and so it is really hard to turn our back on them. And I think making her dinner and a birthday cake on her birthday is totally appropriate and is not enabling... it is showing that you love her, want to celebrate her birthday and I think it is important to keep the door open and also to let them know we love them even if we don't love their behavior.

    And I get paying the ticket too.... I could totally see doing that. I think that is on that fine line but you do want to keep supporting the positive steps she is taking... and you paid it directly and did not give her the money to do it.

    I am with you all the way.... and will send an update on my difficult child in a separate post.

  11. pinevalley

    pinevalley Member

    Nancy: You found the perfect card for your difficult child! I am so glad that she is coming to your house tomorrow night for dinner with you. She still wants to have a relationship with you, and that is really important.

    I can totally understand when you say that this is not the way you expected to celebrate her 21st birthday. Most young adults are excited to turn 21, because this is the day that they can go into a bar and drink alcohol legally. It must be especially difficult for addicts like your daughter (and my son), because they should Never experience ordering and drinking alcohol legally like everyone else can. I know that your difficult child is not ready to admit that she has a problem with drinking yet, but I am really hoping that she will get tired of the way that she is living and realize that she needs to make a change.

    I will be thinking of you tomorrow night, and I am sending my best wishes to you for a peaceful evening with your difficult child.
  12. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest


    The card is perfect. Occasions are so bittersweet with difficult children.....

    Mine turns 19 in a couple of weeks. Don't know what we are doing or when yet...he needs o get his work schedule.

    My card to him.... three favorite words

    Inside...that's my son. Happy birthday.

    Glad to hear that things are calmer and you have managed to forge a line of communication...
  13. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Another here that LOVES the card! I think it says to difficult child that she can/is capable of giving these things...Wisdom, Success, Happiness to herself. It is so hard I know, for me and others here, to differentiate between "Love" and giving.
    I have often equated the two as one in the same. But they are not when it comes to our difficult child alcoholic/addicts. As we all have heard...Enabling kills.
    Yet I don't think paying the ticket was enabling the difficult child is working. She is trying to be a productive member of society in that regard.

    I hope your difficult child's birthday party at your home is pleasant and happy.
    I understand how it is bittersweet too. We want to have "normal milestones" with them. Sharing a drink on a 21st birthday would seem totally appropriate in most cases...but not with our difficult child's. Maybe you could make difficult child a "virgin" coctail of sorts, smile. I dunno...just thinking, maybe I'm wrong, maybe that's silly.

    I hope difficult child will not "celebrate" her birthday with "friends" tonight in a negative way.
    I hope she will grow into the person that you know she can be someday...the one you never give up on and continue to believe in.

    with love and care,
  14. Ephchap

    Ephchap Active Member

    Nancy, pass the hankies. Yes, your card made me weep - for your difficult child, and for all of our difficult child's. It says it so well. We do love them with our heart and soul, which is why it hurts so much when we see them self-destructing.

    I'm so sorry for you that her milestone birthday won't be as you hoped. Hopefully she will "get it", but when in difficult child mode, it's doubtful. :( Hugs to you; I know this breaks your heart.

  15. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I know how hard these milestones can be. Having her over for dinner is a great solution and, of course, I love the card!
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was also thinking about your daughter this week because I can never forget her since we have birthdays in common in the family. Keyana wont be here but I hope we can call her to wish her a Happy Birthday. I hope you have a nice day with your daughter.
  17. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi, Nancy. The card is perfect. Today is her birthday, right? I hope your dinner goes well and you can spend some special time together even if it not what you wish it could be. She is still so young. I may be a Pollyanna but I've said it before and I'll say it again . . . I still believe in my heart that your difficult child is going to turn this around someday.

    Don't forget . . . my difficult child just turned 27 and I am just starting to believe she may really be on the right road this time. There is always hope.

  18. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yep today is her birthday. D-Day! And par for the course only one family member of all our extended family sent her a card. My dad, her grandfather, didn't even acknowledge it. I guess they have all written her off. I feel bad for her and I'm not sure what to say about the fact that none of her family cares anymore but it is what it is.

    She's coming over around 3:30 because husband has to go out of town and he will have a few minutes to see her before he goes. I made the cake and bought her some flowers and we will have dinner when easy child comes. We will make the best of it.

  19. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    How did it go, Nancy?
  20. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for asking dash. It went well. She looked good. When husband got home we lit her cake and she opened her gift card. She really liked the flowers and I think she was genuinely happy with the gift card to get her hair done. When husband left I took her to the grocery store to buy her some groceries and came home and when easy child got here we made steaks and had dinner. She seemed relaxed and there was no tension. Of course I don't ask much, I have learned to take her on her terms and if she is pleasant to us and staying out of trouble I don't ask for trouble. Quite a change from before for me, but then my expectations have been lowered quite a bit.

    I'm still a bit upset than none of the family sent a card and after 30+ years of sending cards, presents and money to all their kids I think it's time to stop. I'm sure it hurt her but she didn't say anything.