So, here's the letter - Update to she can't hurt me anymore thread

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by flutterby, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    difficult child has revised the letter to make it fit the requirements of the assignment (catching the attention of the reader quickly).

    I feel physically ill. But, here goes: (note: she typed this up on my computer and deleted it, but I guess she didn't think to empty the recycle bin).

    There has been door slamming, there has been yelling and there has been fighting. I should also point out that the vast majority of that has been done by difficult child. The rest of (by the way, Liesel is the main character in the book. A *really* good book, too, if you want to check it out.)
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Your difficult child sounds like Kanga. Honestly, I would try to shrug it off. She's drama-queening. You know that isn't the reality of your family. It doesn't meet her 'mental image' of her as the long suffering princess so she makes it up.

    I know you are hurt and I am sorry you feel bad. But having been there done that with Kanga, it is just one more manipulation (our difficult child's are great at manipulating their version of reality to cast themselves as the star everytime).
  3. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I am getting better at shrugging it off, but this seeing it in black and white and sharing it with other people is still new to me. I'm used to hearing it from her, but not sharing it in writing with others. It just takes it to a whole other level.

    I still need practice at letting it go.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Wow, small world time!

    Just last Sunday (as in a couple of days ago) I was at a Writers Festival and the very first speaker was - Markus Zusak! He's a smart cookie, I've attended a workshop of his before. He writes for children as well as for adults, "The Book Thief" has been very well received internationally and there are deals going on - I think someone said something about a movie deal.

    That said - it's a disturbing story line, it would ring bells with a disturbed teen. I haven't read the book myself yet but because Markus has talked to our writing group a few times, a number of others have read it, plus there was some discussion of the book on Sunday. I do plan to read it. Listening to him speak was fascinating, his mind is constantly flowing with ideas and information.

    Markus used to teach, plus he gives talks to kids at school. He knows kids well and if he got a letter like that he would know it has come from somebody with a warped view of reality.

    The letter actually sounds very much like something either easy child or easy child 2/difficult child 2 would have written at that age. It's a very selfish time for a teenage girl. They really do only see the world in terms of their own wants being all that matters and anyone who doesn't give them free rein is "stifling creativity" and "being mean just because they can". easy child 2/difficult child 2 especially was a shocker - while she was on her honeymoon we found her diary from when she was about 15. If we'd found it then, she'd have been in a psychiatric ward so fast her head would have been spinning. But I wonder - would it have helped if we'd done this? I don't know. I do know that we had a challenging time and sometimes she's still a handful. I have to always be on guard to not buy into her dramas.

    Example: I might say, "Have you rung X yet? You need to get this business sorted out today."
    Her response, "How can I do that? I'm feelnig really sick, all I want to do is sleep, it's not fair, I shouldn't have to do this, I don't want to do it, why are you nagging me, it's not fair..."
    I usually interrupt with, "Hold on. Wait a sec, I'm not nagging. I just asked, that's all. I know it's not fair, but I didn't do this to you, I'm just your mum and I'm just trying to make it easier for you. Now let's start again - what needs to be done, and how can we best do it without it being any harder than it needs to be?"

    If I pull her up before her tantrum gets to self-propelling stage, I have a chance to turn things around. otherwise I walk away until it runs down, then go back to her and try again.

    She's very egocentric. For example at the moment she's really ill, she saw the doctor yesterday and was put onto antibiotics, she's running a fever and has lost her voice. But life is going on and if she wants to fix her finances, she has to jump through certain hoops and has to do it NOW. Nobody will care if she is feeling sick and just wants to sleep. I can sympathise and yes, it is not fair that she can't just go to bed and sleep off this bug, but the paperwork has to be done. There's a few thousand bucks in it for her, if she gets it right.

    What sets easy child 2/difficult child 2 off the most, is when she feels overloaded or when she feels she can't cope with what she's expected to do.

    Another example - two weeks ago on the Saturday morning, I rang to ask her something along the lines of, "Are you going to come over to visit today?" She began to throw a tantrum over the phone about an assignment she had to do, she had to write a 10 minute talk on a specific topic for college and give the talk on Monday night. She was crying hysterically down the phone that she didn't want to do it, it was a stupid assignment, she hated having to give a talk, she would be stupid at it because she knew absolutely nothing about the topic, it was a stupid idea, she wasn't gonig to do it so there, and by this stage she was crying at me, screaming, generally making it sound as if had set the wretched assignment.
    I calmed her down enough to understand what she was saying through the wailing. "What is the topic?"
    "Yeah, real mature. That will get you a pass, for sure. Now remember, I didn't set the assignment, so don't wail at me. If you want me to help you, be nice or I'll hang up. Now I have an idea. Today is the best time for you to make a start on this, because tomorrow your husband has a day off work and you want to spend time with him."

    She began to wail again, "I shouldn't be wasting my time tomorrow doing this stupid assignment, I should be spending it with him!"

    I took the wind out of her sails by agreeing with her. "Exactly. So you're going to start now. But I'm going to help. Now, give me the name of the person and the topic you have to write about."
    She told me. She also had to provide a handout to the class.
    "Now what is it you are really worried about? Are you afraid you won't be able to talk in front of the class? Are you scared that they will think you're stupid and don't know anything? What is the problem?"
    We worked through her fears (those she would admit to) and I got through to her - doing absolutely nothing and getting a zero mark was ther worst possible outcome. making a genuine attempt and standing there frozen was the next worst, but she would at least get some marks for trying and for doing the handout. Anything more than this was a bonus.
    "But I don't know anything about this!" she kept wailing. "We haven't studied this yet!"
    I got through to her - ALL the students have been given topis that haven't yet been studied, so it's a level playing field.

    So I set a limit. Reminded her that even if she read from a script ("But we're not allowed to do that! That's why I'm so upset! I don't know anything about this, I can't speak to a topic I know nothing about..." and she was off again until I blew the ref whistle agian, metaphorically) then she still only needed 1000 words in 12 pt, single-spaced. Two pages. The handout had to be one page max, so her best bet was to:

    1) gather information into document A

    2) draft document B (her lecture notes, what she would speak form and refer back to, a summary of document A)

    3) the handout, a bullet-point document to be primrily a summary of document B.

    So I said to her, "It's now 11 am. I'll call you back at 11.30 pm by which stage I will also have done my own reasearch on tis topic. You say you know nothing - then by comparison, I know even less than nothing, because I'm not even studying this course. But at 11.30 am, you and I will discuss this topic together."

    I actually spent the next 20 minutes replying to a private email from one of our CD members (I told her about this). Then I quickly did some fast reading and began my own version of the three documents, especially the final one-page summary. it really didn't take long. I had found several websites and worked out quickly how to get the best info. Then I rang her back. She had calmed down, she no longer felt overwhelmed, because she had at last made a start.

    A lot of the powerlessness that these kids express, is from feeling overhwlmed and out of control. Because she made a start with me also working alongside (even though we were miles apart physically) easy child 2/difficult child 2 felt a little more in control, enough to begin to overcome her panic. I'd had to stay calm but also firm. At times like tis she wants someone to cradle her and say, "there there, it's OK, you don't have to do it, just ignore it and it will all go away," but that is unhealthy.

    What she did - she turned and faced it. And having made a start, she was able to keep going. I emailed her my own summary, she built on it with her own work. When I saw her next (the day after her talk) she told me she had only got 7 out of 10 and she felt it was unfair. I reminded her that it was a pass, which was more than she would have had if she had continnued to wail and wring her hands.

    It's really exhausting, but maybe it's me and what we've lived with - to us it's normal. I really wish it wasn't, but there it is.

    I'm assuming (and hoping) that easy child 2/difficult child 2 is not at any time out of touch with reality. Her views are certainly distorted sometimes, but she can be brought back into perspective. I can't say that your daughter is like mine - we just can't compare. But when I read your daughter's letter to Markus Zusak, I can hear the same voice of "woe is me, everyone is horrible to me, nobody loves me, I think I'll go and eat worms."

    Did she ever send the letter? Maybe via email on a website? Gee, I wish I'd read this before Sunday, I could have asked him! Maybe not, I suspect he already thought I was a bit weird...

    If you want to get your revenge on your daughter one day (and revenge is a dish best served cold) then keep a copy and show it to her one day. When she has her own 16 year old daughter would be the best time...

  5. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    first, the form - and I know you probably don't want to hear it, but she is a good writer for a 14 year old. She gets her point across clearly. Now as to the content, I'm not too sure I would allow it to upset me so. She is a 14 year old girl who is all about the drama and sees herself as the center of the universe. Everthing that happens, happens to her. Reality is not a word in her world.

    I look back now on some things I wrote in my diary about my mom and I cringe. I know if I read something like that from easy child or difficult child it would hurt my feelings.

    I hate to make little of it, and I'm not trying to make little of your feelings, but don't give her the satisfaction. Chaulk this up to teenage angst. I guarantee, your daughters essay will not be the first her teacher has read that includes "woe is me" as the theme.

  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Marg - She's not actually sending the letter to the author. It's a contest where they have to write a letter to any author, but it is a required assignment. Whether the letter will get forwarded to the author, I don't know, but she didn't provide any contact information for him. I *loved* that book. It's my new favorite book. She got it in the teen section, but I think it's really a stretch to be in the teen section.

    As far as her relating to it the way she says she did....there is no comparison between her life and the character's life. None. She connected with the book - it is her favorite book, too - and she's using it that way.

    As far as pulling her back, I can sometimes do that. I do like you and break it down. Generally, I have her take a break first to work off the frustration, then break it down and make it manageable. Like you, it is my normal. And, yes, it is exhausting.

    Sharon, she is a very good writer, especially when she can write creatively without having to fill certain requirements as taught in 9th grade English. She expresses herself very well and is very articulate. This letter was also heavily edited. She worked on the form with her PCA. What I read originally was much worse. I wish this was just teen angst. According to therapist and what I live with, it's in another ballpark.
  7. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    Dear Flutter,
    Having a wife and child with BiPolar (BP) has shown me that thier own personal view of how things are and how thing are, are colored every time from thier own perspective. Not how things are, but how they suppose them to be. They always see everyone against them, or accusing them, or blaming them as being unjustly accused. Maybe it is a bit of paranoia, I am not sure.

    I know that with my son that since he has began his medications that his perception is much closer to reality. He is able to see his actions and the results of his words or actions affecting others. It was always someone elses fault when something happened at school or at home.

    wife still has trouble with this, though she might be a hair better. She sees herself as the only one working long hours, the only one worrying over bills, the only one spending time with the kids, etc... Her perception concerning me is always colored by a different perception than reality. That bothers me, and for years it infurated me that I was always to blame for everything and she always come out smelling like a rose. Regardless of the situation, she was always the good guy doing the right thing, when in reality she was most likely to have started something, to have said something wrong, to have made the mistake, etc.. Nowing that with BiPolar (BP) that this seems to be a trait that they have, does help mentally on how I see it, though it does not help enough on how I feel it.

    We just have to learn to let it roll off of us. We know we do our best, and try our hardest. That is just the facts regardless of how difficult child see them.

    Soft and gentle hugs and a big rose
  8. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Ahhhhh, Heather. I've gotten letters of this type from kt & they would tear my heart in two.

    I had to be reminded by psychiatrist & therapist that kt's thinking/thought processes can & does get very distorted; her memories of situations can be very different from reality. And, like Sharon, the things I wrote weren't very complimentary to my family.

    Saying that, I'd do my best to not take this personally. You should do the same. I refuse to take on another person's (especially my children's) negative comments, opinions, judgements, etc of me or the way I run my life, my household or raise said children.
  9. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Wow. I can see how that would definitly send me off at some level. I do think it is written very well. I think your difficult child could benefit from a special out of school writing program. She is gifted and has a budding talent there. However, I'm glad you see the forest for the trees when reading it. Our kids can have some messed up ideas and perspectives. Self preservation? I don't know??!!

    difficult child used to feel this way too. He didn't write it out, but he'd spout it to counsellors, doctors, teachers, myself, family and friends. And he believed it! He truly did!! It was so bizarre to me. His perspective was so off base! And yes, it hurt me more often than not. He matured and took his head out of his behind and now he laughs at how he used to see his life and how he felt so hard done by while ignoring his own actions. He has apologized umpteen times for those years of his life. I hope the same happens with your difficult child.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I agree with her getting some writing tuition and being encouraged to write. It can be a good safety valve for frustrations (real or imagined) as well as the level of emotion she is expressing, would be a great tool in crafting a story.

    A writing group not far from where we live is being run by a woman with unmedicated bipolar. I stay away from that group personally, but I have friends involved in it and I see the regular emailed newsletters. She's a dynamo, gets a great deal done and is greatly valued by the people in her area.

    I personally avoid that group because when I met this woman, once, I sensed hostility directed at me, possibly because there was something about me that riled her. I have the choice to keep my distance andso I do. I did offer to help with her group at one point (she had sent out an email asking for help with a quick task that I could do but not many other people at that time could) and got no response, so I took that as my message. But that is a separate issue, I know this woman seems to be working well as a team with a lot of very competent people and doing a great job. She is also a prolific author of mainstream-published childrens' books. And yes, she also knows Markus Zusak well!

    Your daughter is a good age to begin a writing career NOW. She doesn't need a good grasp of reality to do so. What she would benefit from, is a mentor. A teacher, a therapist, a neighbour, a friend. Even the police - at the writing workshop I was at over the weekend, another author talked about how she asked the police for help in getting research information for her crime writing. She says she doesn't write about crime, she writes about the people who are affected by crime. She started as a total novice and lerned a grat deal. But I could tell just listening to her that she began with a great deal of raw talent and deep understanding of human nature. Working on back story of a book, a scene or the characters is important. A vast amount of writing and research has to happen for every single page of the eventual published material.

    I would be finding out if there is a writing class in your area that she could join. A lot of these are free or cost only a few dollars a time (to cover tea, coffee and maybe a small amount towards the hire of the room). I would avoid any that ask for hundreds of dollars unless it's for a weekend workshop. The best thing is a small group of like-minded people wanting to support one another in their writing endeavours. Also look for writing competitions (short story or poetry) for her to enter. There are often competitions for children which aren't as well publicised and so if there is a comp with only 20 entries, say, she has a greater chance of her work doing well.

    Giving her an expressive outlet could reduce her tension and anxiety, could make her a little nicer to know.

    it isn't a cure, but the woman I mentioned lives for her writing and makes a good living from it. She's married with kids and is very open about hr bipolar diagnosis, she says she's learned to harness the manic phase to get a lot of work done, although her husband has to watch her and remind her when she's beginning to lose her grip on reality too much.

    (I hate to think what she was like in her teens!)