One step forward

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi everyone. I've been reading all your posts for the last few days, it is always so remarkable to me how similar our feelings. our challenges, our pain, our angers, our issues are........... what a gift it is to know you are all 'out there.'

    My daughter is staying with us now, as I mentioned. She has been doing her very best to honor our boundaries. I am unclear as to where we are going exactly, I am giving this one week at a time. The nurturing mother in me wants to give her a chance to decompress, calm down and feel safe after her ordeal in jail and her homelessness previous to that. She is responding to everything I ask of her without the drama and intensity. She is still who she is, but it's ratcheted down quite a bit. I've been learning a lot in my codependency therapy group about detaching, boundary setting, not asking questions, minding my own business, etc. all the stuff you guys know about. It's hard and can be grueling because I am spring loaded to go down a certain path, trying to control, being an enabler, getting so angry at her, not accepting her for who she is. We have a long history of this cemented behavior and it's tough to break it, but I see us both really trying. I've gotten good at setting boundaries, saying no, and as you know, throwing her out, not posting her bail, detaching. I think we're both critically aware that this is her only option and if we can negotiate this territory we may be able to accomplish some level of healing. I am not in denial, I am aware that this may not work, she may go back to being her old self making horrible choices, living in her car, all of it. But, maybe not.

    I had a long talk with my 15 year old granddaughter (who I am raising) this morning, I told her how this was for me, that I felt I needed to give her mother one more chance and that there were indicators that her mom was able now to take real responsibility for some of her actions (telling me last week that in the last 15 years when she was faced with a choice, she made the wrong choice every time.) As a 15 year old, she is embarrassed because her friends are asking "why is your mom here?" Plus, when I asked my daughter to remove the cat from the bathroom because my fiancee was wheezing with his asthma from the cat, she got a big tent and put it on the porch right outside our living room. So this big green tent is right out the sliding glass doors going out of our living room. My daughter then decided to stay in the tent with her old cat. My granddaughter said, "how do you explain your mother living in a tent outside your grandmothers house?" I told her I knew that was pretty weird, and I could understand how that would be embarrassing and truthfully I had no adult wisdom about how to explain that to her friends. Fortunately, we could laugh about how that really looks, how weird that really is. My fiancee and I went to the beach today and on our way there we really cracked up about how strange that really is! We got out of town and had a nice day. But, the truth is that my daughter is keeping herself contained out there away from the rest of us, respecting the boundary I set when I asked her to please keep her drama, her intensity, whatever would impact our peaceful and calm household, out of our home. She is safe and yet independent, and it seems to be working, odd as it is. I am doing all of this one moment at a time. My daughter has not lived with me since she was 19, (20 years ago) when it seems to me, she really began her strange behavior. I don't know what will happen, how this will go, but what is happening now feels very important and necessary, for me, as well as for my daughter, should she take the opportunity to in some manner change her life. I am not attached to what she does, I am simply willing to give her a chance. It's up to her to use it in a healthy way.

    All of your stories of courage, healing, amazing strength and resilience, love and warrior ways have helped me enormously to be able to make this journey with my daughter, now, at this time. Thank you!
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sometimes a sense of humor is all that saves us! I do feel for your granddaughter as I know how the boys we raised felt about their GFGmom and some of her totally unacceptable choices. Here's hoping that something good comes out of this effort. Sending hugs. DDD
  3. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have developed quite the "gallows" sense of humor over the years. Seeing humor in even the darkest situations is what's gotten me through some tough times, over and over again. My closest friends get this, but others have looked at me like I'm nuts a few times lol. A tent on the porch? Yup that's pretty dang funny in a certain light :)

    One day at a time. I think you've got your priorities straight, and your supports are in place. You've got great communication with your granddaughter, and that's so important. Keep up the good work, mama bear.
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for the support, I need it to get through this. Yes, funny it is, and you're both right, it helps so much to laugh at it all. I just managed to get myself through a sticky moment. As I progress through what my therapist calls, codependent recovery, many old feelings that I perhaps did not allow myself to feel when I was simply accommodating the needs of others, are surfacing. I just had the yuckiest couple of hours of these intense feelings of anger and feeling trapped come up. Fortunately for me, I know enough not to flip out, much as I wanted to start screaming and really, leave the house and hop on a plane to ANYWHERE! I told my fiancee that I was leaving the house for awhile to get some fresh air and get out, I asked him if he wanted to come and drive around with me. He agreed and we left. I vented to the poor guy for an hour. Then I dropped him off and went out again and drove around by myself. I just kept thinking of all the times I have put the needs of others ahead of my own. My daughter is having a hard time because tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of her husbands death (suicide) and my granddaughter was giving me excuses for some bad grades that she got, and I just felt as if there was no air to breathe in the room. I left. I was really churning inside, I felt very angry, but also as if there is no where to go, a bad place for me to be, I don't like feeling as if I am in a box and can't get out. I came back home and it occurred to me that the box I am in is one I put myself in by trying to make everyone around me happy, trying to meet everyone's needs, keeping my fiancee breathing freely (the darn cats) keeping my granddaughter from being embarrassed by her mothers tent-living and odd behavior, trying to heal this mess with my daughter so we can find some middle ground to stand on, it's exhausting!!! So, I didn't know what to do, so I just showed up in front of my daughter and told her exactly how I was feeling. I said, "I've worked really hard to have a calm, peaceful and happy life and the choices you've made for the last 20years have continually interrupted that." When she began explaining her choices and justifying her behavior, I just cut her off and said, "right now, this is about me, I am talking about how I feel." I said, "your life is so full of drama, intensity and bad choices that there has never been any room for how I feel, and I am a person and I have feelings and you need to hear them." I wouldn't allow her to speak. I said my peace. Then I went to my granddaughters room and said a minor version of the same thing, saying, "I understand how you feel, you explained yourself, now this is how I feel." Whew. I have usually been very quiet and allowed myself to be overrun with my daughter's dramatic life and of course, teenagers my nature are self absorbed to some degree and live in their own orbit not really noticing the adults around them. Well, everyone noticed me tonight! I was calm and communicated clearly and with compassion, but I was direct and firm. If I am going to survive this adventure with my daughter staying here and my granddaughter living here, I am going to have to show up in a completely different way. I see that now. No more leaning in the direction of everyone else's needs, I have to lean into my own and verbalize them, clearly. This recovery stuff is grueling. I can see progress, I really can, but breaking these patterns is tough. It's like stopping a runaway train while trying to build new tracks which are made out of twigs!! I am tired a lot from having to really think each situation through because I am really not reacting in the way I used to, but the new behavior is not right there automatically showing up, so in that lag time I am grasping in the air for new ways of reacting and sometimes there's nothing there but empty space!! And, I am also having old angers and feelings bubble up at times, which are not really appropriate to the present moment, old stuff surfacing and then dissipating. I think this is all ultimately REALLY TERRIFIC, it's healing these patterns and behaviors that don't work anymore, for any of us. but it's really challenging to go through too. Sigh. I feel very tired. This is hard work. I believe in my heart that there is a reason for this, that all that I am doing now will lead somewhere different for all of us. I did see two very different people in front of me as I was asserting myself, they were really listening and both were quiet. There was no drama. Maybe for the moment, that's as good as it gets. Well, if anyone has any thoughts, insights, stories or their own experience with their own changes, I'm all ears. Thanks for listening...........
  5. pinevalley

    pinevalley Member

    I commend you for asserting yourself, and telling your daughter and granddaughter exactly how you feel. I'm sure that it wasn't easy to speak like that, but it was necessary for your own emotional health. It sounds extremely stressful to have to balance between the trauma of your daughter's life and the needs of the special teenager that you are raising. You are doing the very best that you can in a stressful situation, and you should be proud of your progress so far. Sending good wishes to you for peaceful days ahead....
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    PV-Thank you so much, it helps to have you understand.
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Bravo! It must have felt very freeing to finally say exactly what you felt, at a time and place of your choosing. I've been able to express my feelings before, but it always seems to come in the middle of a dramatic scene, which makes it much less effective, I think. I like your way :) The fact that they actually listened to you, is great.

    You're right, recovery from codependency is grueling work. It's a process, and it's constant. I know for myself that I've gotten much better than I was years ago, but old habits die hard, as they say.