Update: Detachment as Spiritual Practice, and an Update

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by scent of cedar, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I am thinking about detachment as something more than just a thing we need to learn to continue to function when our troubled kids' lives overwhelm us. Though it is an invaluable survival tool for parents in our situations, the practice of detaching from the emotional components of events in our daily lives, too, is totally, awesomely, empowering. (What it feels like to do this is to just sit with, and be vulnerable to, the emotions the situation calls up, without defending. Just see it, just sit with it. Soon enough, you will realize, as Brene Brown suggested in her observations about vulnerability, that you have survived it. You will never see emotions such as shame or anger, or even fear or grief, in the same way, again.) Struggling with detaching from the chaos the kids bring on, I have become more aware of the habitual emotional components of my day to day thoughts, and of how that affects the experience I think I am having.

    So, detachment really is the skill, and the practice, not only of self-awareness, but of choosing the emotional components of our responses. It would seem to be impossible to do that...but, just lately, I am.

    Which brings me to the update part.

    I have been tempted to post about these things, but now that I don't automatically assume responsibility and control (with the do-or-die mindset that attends it) I don't know how I feel. I do know I don't want to be angry or discouraged or frightened or fixated. So far, I have escaped the long-term negative consequences these kinds of events would normally bring. husband and I are aware of the upset, but our reactions have been shallower and shorter-lived.

    So, husband and I are doing better than we would have, had we not developed those detachment skills. But, especially after gathering my thoughts to write this, I see that we have a long way to go. Nonetheless, I am determined to get there, so I am sure that we will.


    difficult child son: 37 years old, now. There has been an unpleasant change in the nature of our interactions with our son. Or, it could be that he hasn't changed, but that I am seeing him and his motivations differently. This change in perception started with a thread MWM posted about abusive adult kids. It is a strange thing, about perception. I never minded anything difficult child son said, because I always believed he was just venting. Like MWM described in dealing with her son, I would reinterpret what he said for him, he would calm down, and all would be well. The part I am figuring out just lately has to do with the kind of help we give his sister, difficult child son's seeming jealousy of that, and difficult child son's blame and hatred of husband and I for the things he lost, for the help he wasn't given, as an adolescent while we were trying to figure out what happened, and what we needed to do, for difficult child daughter. It would turn out that difficult child daughter's problems were the result of misdiagnosed and therefore, mistreated, mental illness.

    You can imagine what life was like for difficult child son during that time.

    But here is the thing I am beginning to see, just lately. difficult child son has always blamed us for the lack of supervision/presence/attention that resulted in his drug use. THAT WAS MY INTERPRETATION OF WHY HE BEGAN USING DRUGS. He just picked that up because it works on me, calling up my own guilt at what might have happened to cause difficult child son to begin using drugs.

    So that is an important point that I only realized just lately.

    Additionally, it never fails that every time we help difficult child daughter, difficult child son presents with a crisis immediately. Here is the thing I am figuring out, today: It isn't jealousy of the help and support we give difficult child daughter and her children (though that is what he presents with), and it isn't that he was treated unfairly while we were distracted by difficult child daughter's problems when he was an adolescent and so, did not give him the help he needed, resulting in his addiction and subsequent really crappy life.


    difficult child son is just echoing my assessment of what happened, and is throwing my own guilty thoughts back at me

    ***This part I added as I was rereading this, prior to posting.****

    It is important to note that difficult child son had been crying about needing money for quite some time. It was easy for me to consider that something he needed to deal with as the man of his own family, and that is what I told him for oh, say the past two months. What I am realizing as I write and reread this is that difficult child son upped his attack after these initial salvos (which would generally have worked) did not work.

    Interesting...and horrifying, to know that about him.


    So, the actual event that led to the latest crisis with difficult child son is that I FB him that he needed to stop whining and get busy with making a life for himself and his family. (Not as baldly as that, of course. There is always alot of "I believe in you, you can and will do it, I am proud of you, blah,blah, blah", in the way I talk to both my kids. But you get the gist.) So, difficult child son, who has not taken our phone calls or responded on FB pretty much since the last time we gave him money ~ which was in October, immediately after we gave difficult child daughter, who had just been released from an unexpected visit to the psychiatric ward courtesy of the police and an ambulance, in which she was placed in restraints for the duration of the trip, money ~ starts in on me about how it is mine and husband's fault that he is where he is in life, and that he needs money. He called me a jerk, said I was a liar because I always say he is where he is because of drug use when everyone knows it's because we were terrible parents, and that I deserted him, turned away from him, and let difficult child daughter keep coming home from treatment and ~ all the traumatic **** that gets me confused and feeling so badly.

    Like I am feeling badly right now, just writing about it. Guilty and weak, and ready, oh so ready, to fix what I did so badly when it was my responsibility to raise him. (Don't worry, you guys. That is the underlying thought pattern that has fueled my responses for all these years. I am seeing, and seeing through them, now.)

    And that is what I finally saw: difficult child son will gladly torture me to get a couple hundred bucks out of me. He will really turn up the heat for a thousand...and to come home, or to get me to take his kids?

    There is no limit to what he will do, to what he has done, in the past.

    And here is another thing I just realized: He pulls that same carp on his sister. He has actually lived with her, drugging and useless the whole time, three times. The last time, he and his whole family moved in with difficult child daughter and her husband and family. It was supposed to be a two week stay during Hurricane Katrina. It turned into something like three months. He got money out of us then, too.

    I see so clearly now what difficult child son has chosen to do with himself, and why.


    But I am only seeing that as I gather my thoughts to post to you.

    In any event, after the jerk/liar/I need money, speed of delivery more important than amount FB interaction, along with a call from a four year old grandson who really barely knows us...I got it. Like MWM, I am in an abusive relationship with my own son that is so much more abusive and destructive than I knew. And I think he might be lying ~ I mean, I think he might KNOW he is lying about why he became an addict, about what kinds of parents we were, about why what happened to him happened to him.

    And it's kind of breaking my heart, to know this.

    So, I am using my detachment skills to just sit with that emotional reality.

    And on to difficult child daughter. But before I do that, I will tell you that we sent difficult child son $250 on one of those Green Dot cards. That was actually more husband than me, who felt that, AS WE WERE SENDING MONEY TO difficult child DAUGHTER, WE SHOULD, IN ALL FAIRNESS, HELP difficult child SON, TOO.

    But I did not stop husband.


    difficult child daughter and her second child, who is now fourteen, moved in with that child's father shortly after she agreed to come in off the streets of the town where she spent the winter homeless last year. (For those who remember, difficult child daughter was on the streets because we would not take THE HOMELESS MAN WHO RAN HER VAN INTO A STONE WALL TRYING TO KILL THEM BOTH into our home. The homeless man was picked up on an attempted vehicular homicide charge, and that is when difficult child agreed to come in off the streets. Blah, blah, blah, and difficult child daughter and her second child moved in with that child's father in September.

    Which cost us $1200 and change. But at least we are not raising our rebellious fourteen year old granddaughter.


    On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the man beat difficult child at a K Mart in their area. Bit her scalp, pulled hair out, beat her and beat her. The police were called, and they left the K Mart together before the police arrived. They went to some friends' house. He proceeded to beat her again. The police were called. He was still beating her when they arrived. He was taken to jail. difficult child is currently in a shelter, with the daughter.

    $250 went into her account yesterday, so she will have gas money to get to the state she lived in before, where the father of difficult child's two sons lives with the children. The fourteen year old will stay with her father's sister in Minnesota.

    I think difficult child daughter, who, some of you may remember, developed a relationship with our neighbor, who was visiting us up North last summer after the death of his wife, is actually planning to grab her sons and head down to our house, here, so she can be with the neighbor. She does not admit that, of course. She is mentally ill, and becomes extremely depressed the second I say anything remotely sensible.

    Well, that's my story.

    Now, you know why I am trying so desperately to get healthy myself. I really do need to get to a place where what my kids do does not affect me in the least.

  2. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    thank you for sharing that story with us...the dance of dawning realization foxtrotting with old habit, guilt, thought patterns, fear, denial. Two steps to the left, one back, quick step forward, move slowly around the room.
    Sitting with the grief, the fear, the yuck, makes it so much more bearable. We spend so much energy running and hiding and thinking omg, I can't bear to feel this way, what can I do? movies, drinks, friends, exercise, anything anything anything to avoid just being there with the bad feelings. But letting them wash through us and pass on feels right. I think you are on the right path with that. I think it will help you be the lovely, loving, independent and yet interconnected woman that you are. I think it will help you see your sad sad kids and let them be as they are.
    People told me for years that my difficult child was capable of more than I thought, that he could manage things when he chose to (he always could do whatever he needed to acquire an ipod as a reward, that is for darn sure), that he was manipulative. I thought my sweet sad damaged boy was just clueless, completely incapable of planned behavior. But I think, I am starting to see, I am starting to know, as you are....that that is not correct. That he does things, says things becuase they work with me. Because through years of therapy he has learned what to say. Because he knows that I am sad and guilty, because his twin sister was so easy for me and he was so hard, that I looked at her 5 times as often as I looked at him, talked to her more, smiled at her more because she was knowable and he was not. Because I yelled at him so much as a kid because he just...didn't....get...anything. Was always in the way, always late, always a tantrum, always a toileting accident (yes till age 4 1/2), but never at school, only with me....so many signs of illness, and I knew it then, its just that with my 4 kids and 80 hour a week job and useless cheerful narcissistic ex husband (what is the abbreviation for that, anyway?) I just snapped over and over, and it was always, always at teh difficult child. And then we sent him to military school when he was in 8th grade, trying to give him structure, trying to try something new, since what we were doing wasn't working. My mother said that was mean. She is dead now. I can never explain to her that we were trying so hard, aiming at his long term funciton and happiness, but that I believe now that was a pivotal, terrible mistake. But I also know, believe, that his story was written a long long time ago...before me, even, and that my choices were like pebbles on the windshiled of a speeding car.
    Yes, healthy. Take care of yourself. Let these days and hurts and even joys be there, and inhabit you till they pass. They always do pass, which is the miracle.
    I went to a retreat this summer called the Art of Suffering. It embodied what you are describing. If we embrace suffering, learn how to suffer instead of running away, we suffer much less, and can smile again sooner. No mud no lotus.
    Thank you again for telling your tale, and for your generous support on all these threads.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I love the skill of Wise Mind thinking...it has been invaluable to me while 36 went through his horrendous homicdal/suicidal stint during his custody battle. Without those skills, I think I may have flown out to Missouri, risking my own life, just to hold his hand and cry with him. Here is a link to mindfulness, if anyone is interested. I also meditate, but I can only do it with prompts, so I use YouTube meditation prompting tapes, of which there are plenty. I always feel so relaxed after a session of meditation.

  4. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    In rereading this, I understand that son's escalation was because he was frustrated at the nature of my responses to his repeated requests for money to alleviate his impending starvation-level poverty. He also mentioned not having Christmas money for his kids. I see too that my detachment skills held strong until the attacks became personal. My thought patterns as this was happening were typical of the dynamic in any abusive relationship. I took the blame on myself because he said it.

    Who would know better than my grown child whether he had been parented properly. Obviously, something is badly wrong with him and with his life....

    Developing the strength to combat this stuff is alot like climbing a really high mountain. The air is thinner, near the top, and the climb itself more difficult. Having never climbed to the summit before, we (I) find it hard to believe in myself enough to continue the climb.

    But once we finally make it? The view is very different from here.

    So, this is the lesson we may all take from this experience: The kids' behaviors are going to escalate until they get what they want or, to end the sickness, you end the relationship.

    And this will happen, once you truly begin to detach.

    So, remember what happened to me, and be ready for it.


    I also want to say that at some level, I knew this about my son. I did not want it to be true. I liked to pretend I hadn't lost him. But I did lose him, and he is gone. Probably, forever. And I would rather not have him, than to accept this cheap substitute for a person as the son I raised, and knew, and loved so well.

    Given that I sort of knew this deep down anyway, admitting it is actually incredibly freeing.
  5. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I think the abbreviation you are looking for is: JERK, Echolette. :O)

    Echolette, the one thing we did not try was military school. Just the other night, husband and I were berating ourselves for not having done that. There, we told each other, was the solution, the thing we should have done. The responsible thing we should have made happen, that would have saved his life.

    So, I don't think military school was a mistake, for your son. I don't know what the answer is or how we might have changed the courses of our sons' lives...but you can definitely take yourself off the military school hook, just like now, husband and I will be taking ourselves off the "we should have sent him to military school" hook.

    Thank you for your response, Echolette. That military school thing pierced the last, little piece of responsibility I was tossing around, battering myself with.

  6. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Thank you, MWM. It is true, isn't it, that if we can incorporate both our intellectual and our emotional understandings in a balanced way, we are in that place called "Wise Mind." I like the imagery. I like the idea of calling that place we are trying to get to the "wise mind." That is where I need to be, balanced, serene and accepting, with my senses of humor and self intact. When I go through something like this thing with my son, or with what is coming with our daughter...there is a stuttering, lost part of me that comes to the forefront. Buried pretty deeply after all this time, but when I am hit deeply enough, that is the place I respond from. A guilty place, ringing with recrimination, with self accusation.... A place I have to find my way out of even to think straight.

    And I realize now, a place where echoes of all the other bad things that have ever happened to me have been tucked safely away. Like on that fishing line I posted about awhile back. So, in a strange way, every traumatic thing that happens to us, as we go through this with our kids, or with things at work, or in our primary relationships, is an opportunity to go back and heal the original trauma.

    Wise mind is a very good phrase to remember, and is a strong, positive state of mind to strive for.


    I have been doing cued meditation too, MWM. I become too sad when I meditate on my own, lately. I imagine I am processing alot of the repressed material I have been bringing up to have a look at.

    Cued meditation is amazing.

  7. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I meditate as well...walking meditation is my favorite. I like guided meditation, and even just plain old sitting meditation. I'm not sure if cued is different from guided...I'll look into those resources. I need to say, though, Cedar, that sitting with the feeling of sadness during sitting, unguided or cued meditation is one of the routes to wise mind. It is what we are talking about. Sit with that feeling. Greet it...it is an old friend, you know it well. Say "hello sadness, I see you, I will hold you and take good care of you." Feel where it is in your body. And sit with it till it passes through you. You may find it another tool in the box we all need.
  8. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    And thanks for the 'jerk' comment, that made me laugh out loud! He was just here, taking things from the house again (after 4 years). please. And how funny (guess that isn't exactly the word) that you and your husband have been fixed on military school....me too, as you know, just from the other side. You helped loosed my grip on the self-flagellating instrument for that one.
  9. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Cued meditation, as I understand it, is when there is a subliminal theme beneath the music.

    Oprah and Deepak Chopra are offering a free, 21 day cued meditation right now. I am like, thirteen days behind. I am a little apprehensive about the subliminal stuff, so I am taking that one here and there. I am enjoying, and finding it strengthening. The meditation takes about 15 minutes, maybe 20. There is a place to keep an online journal, too.

    Paranoid me, I am not taking advantage of that.

    I can see where it would be helpful, though.

    You can learn more about it by accessing Oprah's site.

  10. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    So, as I put things away for tonight, I am going to keep that phrase, "wise mind" uppermost in my own mind. That is where I want to be. I might go back, find whatever we said to describe that, and post it on my mirror.

    I did the Oprah/Deepak meditation.

    I did my yoga.

  11. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    This thread has blown me away. So much raw honesty. I appreciate so much what you are sharing and expressing. I wish I could put it all at there so well. How hard this all is. So very hard.
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cedar, your post is so poignant and real, thank you for being you, I do so appreciate you.

    The first thing that popped into my mind was that statement I've read often by Buddha, "the cause of all suffering is our attachments." Even our attachments, perhaps especially our attachments to our kids and how their lives should be. Sigh. So, yes, I do agree that this path we are on here is a spiritual practice. Somehow, without my memory of it, I signed on the dotted line for the PHD program of detachment, the Navy Seal program, the one which either takes you to acceptance ..........or to hell.........maybe that's what we all share here, particularly on the PE forum where we've run through our best parenting years and come to the end game empty handed.

    Cedar, I do recall in the not so distant past, where I came face to face with the reality of who my daughter is............as the steps in detachment go, this may be right at the top as the hardest........it just insults our parental perceptions with such a magnitude that, at least for me, it left me with even more of a broken heart. This was a reality I did NOT want to face. But..............face it we must. Because it is the turning point, it is the nadir point, from here I believe, we begin the ascent out of the snake pit. And, very importantly, we stop allowing another to abuse us, use us, manipulate us or in any way treat us in a fashion which is not kind and respectful. For, now we know the truth and once known, we can't continue lying to ourselves and making nice..............

    I think you've paid enough Cedar, enough time, enough energy, enough life force and certainly, enough money. Our kids are masters at knowing how to manipulate funds out of us, don't do it. Don't let your son abuse you with his insults when he doesn't get his way...........with each payment I think you wound yourself..................paying your abuser..........

    Your daughter's adventures are unfortunate and I hope she doesn't drag the children around with her. My heart hurts for you Cedar, these are terrible circumstances and yet, I really believe that you can detach to the point where what your kids do doesn't harm you and you don't feel compelled to pay for their choices.

    I believe that you Cedar, MWM, Echolette, myself and probably ALL of the parents on the PE forum have done ENOUGH..........in fact, I would venture to day that we have all done WAY TOO MUCH. We turn over every rock with the hopes that this one, this event, this check I write, this cash I give, this bill I pay, this whatever that I do, will stop the runaway train that has become my child's life. But it doesn't stop, it continues. It continues because we are not the ones who should be doing anything, they are ADULTS, their life is up to them. Not us.

    This is where "our stuff" comes in to play, our guilt, our fear, our not enoughness, our perfectionism, our control, our attachments, all of it. I do really believe that as we approach our own issues that the truth of who our kids are surfaces and we understand that we do not deserve this treatment, this abuse, this manipulation and we stop it. I think then our kids have a chance to find their own way, even if it is kicking and screaming and hating us big time.....................and if they don't and some disaster befalls them, it is because of their choices, not ours.

    Declare to yourself and to your husband that you have done enough, you have done everything you can and now you are resigning from the parental post.

    I feel protective of you and want to say, how dare he treat you that way? How dare your daughter allow her daughter to witness the hell she lives in and plot to steal her sons away from their dad? Geez.

    I agree with Echolette to allow the sadness to come out, however it does.

    It is interesting that all of us here meditate.............it's a good thing.

    For most of my life I've been on a spiritual path and yet this last 2 years of being in the trenches with my daughter and having to find my way out..........having to learn how to love myself and accept what is .............and to let my illusions of control over not only my daughter, but almost every facet of my life go.............has placed me as close to peace as I've ever been................so yes, I do agree that this is a spiritual practice..........

    Hold true to yourself Cedar, let the tears flow, that is the release..............and let us know how you are doing tomorrow. I am sending you truckloads of empathy, understanding and love..............many BIG hugs to you my friend...........
  13. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I didn't mean to make you feel badly for me, Recovering. I'm okay, really. I remember how I felt about those FB comments your daughter sent. Probably this is the same thing? Something you can see that I am still defended against.

    Though I did spend a rough day or two when he first posted those things to me. On the other hand, he has never made a secret of what he believes about his life, about what he believes he was entitled to and did not get, or did not get enough of, or about us. It was the name calling and the hatred in it that took me aback. I think I believed that, somewhere inside, he knew the truth I know about why he is where he is in his life, and just didn't want to admit it.

    Ouch, right?

    Nothing else has worked, Recovering. This is worth a shot. I just didn't expect the hatred.


    Here is something good for you to know: I considered the good, healthy changes in your daughter's life as your detachment process progressed when assessing this latest business with difficult child son. As I've processed what is really going on here, I think I see that maybe it is his belief in my belief system that is keeping him stuck. Those beliefs keep him focused on what is behind him, keep him feeling he's been cheated, maybe. If I'd just said, "Quit acting like a jerk." all those years ago, maybe that would have been better than trying to justify or explain away why he was acting like a jerk, why he got into drugs and etc. But whatever it is or was then, it is what it is, now.

    Just like it is for all of us, here on the site, the rotten things the kids do and say is hurtful. But we have all, every one of us, been through worse.

    The worst times are when we are still so innocent that we can be betrayed.

    It is just the way we thought it would be Recovering, when we first started trying to figure out how we were going to survive this: Our determined intent to see the end goal more clearly, and to make it through to the other side without hurting or hating anyone ~ especially, not ourselves, seems to be working. There is no right way to do this ~ not that I have been able to find, anyway. But what there is, is a way to survive it with our hearts and our hopes and our intentions, for our kids and for ourselves, intact.

    And that is an amazing thing to know.

    The way I am beginning to see it is that, as hard as we've fought for our kids ~ and everyone who searched until she found this site, who read until she found it worthwhile enough to post her own story, who stuck around afterwords to help the next mom or dad ~ every one of us here has fought for, and lost, a thing that meant more to her (or to him) than her own life.

    But we never gave up, Recovering. We never really give up on our kids, either. I don't see detaching as a way to stop caring about them, as a way to stop trying to help the kids. I see it as a way to survive something so painful that we might lose our own lives to depression or hopelessness or fear of incompetence or any of the thousand other things we might come to believe about ourselves because we could not save our children.

    I really liked MWM's "Wise Mind" concept. That says where we need to be and how that looks and feels so clearly. And I still find the Osteen materials incredibly meaningful.

    Brene Brown's concepts of shame, and of vulnerability, and of healing have shown us how to do it.

    Think of all the ways we have found, here on the site, to keep ourselves sane, to keep stable, to keep standing, Recovering. In so many ways, we are participating in a living miracle, sharing what we learn, surrounding one another with strength and compassion, telling one another hard truths.

    We are doing so well, Recovering.


    This, too: It's a genetic thing, an instinctual thing, I am so sure they will find, to keep parenting until your child is independent of you. So, we all need to stop berating ourselves because we haven't been able to turn away from our kids, however old they are. We are human. We chose love over indifference, chose love over resentment, chose love over hatred.

    And truly, any of those other choices would have seen us free of our kids. And maybe, that will still be the end result.

    So, we are in a strange place where nothing works as it should, where doing what feels right is the wrong thing, where we don't know how to act or react, where right and wrong literally have no meaning. But look at all of us here, Recovering! We are carving that path, maybe setting that new path for those who will come after us, showing them as we learn it ourselves, how to survive it, how to claim lives rich and full, whatever we have lost, whatever we are facing.

    I think we are amazing.

    It's good to remind ourselves of that, because so much of the time, being us really does suck.




    Your description of our journey was so real it caught my breath, Recovering.

    But you know, I don't know that we are here at the end line empty-handed. We are who we are, we have what we have, what has happened has happened; every experience has found us digging deeper for solutions and for survival, until we've been forced right out of victim mode and into other, different definitions of both those terms. We don't have what we worked for or what we wanted Recovering, that is true. But at the end of the day...I don't know. How does that old saying go? Something about only an empty vessel can be filled? Or, that only the empty vessel has promise or potential?

    Something like that.

    And I think we talked before about the way the Japanese mend their broken pottery with gold, to highlight the breaking and the increased strength indicated by the mend, by the beauty of the scar, indicating healing and survival.

    That thought isn't so clear to me right now. But that is the answering imagery I am seeing.

    A big, round, empty bowl, of the kind they use to make that beautiful ringing tone ~ not a gonging, but that long ringing when they circle the pestle around and around the empty gold, bronze or silver bowl.

  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was responding to your comments about your sons attack at you, his hurtful comments to you, his escalating negative behavior to you.............I think for me, one of the gems along the way is the compassion I began to have for myself, it came in waves and sometimes made me cry because I hadn't really yet begun to see how much bad behavior I had put up with............once I began seeing that and stopping it, that compassion for myself grew. I think you are involved in that same process. I would be interested to hear how you are seeing that. So, perhaps I am responding to your initial post with more compassion for you then you presently have for yourself, I am not sure.

    Like your son, my daughter maintained her remarkable entitlement and you may recall, that strange post she made on FB about mothers should put their children above their own needs. After all of that, I think what happened is she finally became aware that I just wasn't there anymore for money, blame, victimization, manipulation, any of it. Although I was available in a somewhat remote way, I did not enable her at all. She began to miss me. And, then yesterday, after spending Thanksgiving with all of us, she posted on FB that she had the best Thanksgiving because she was aware of how "blessed" she is to have us love her. She was grateful and appreciative. She learned, on some level, to be able to "see' me separate from her own childish needs and wants. She went on with that, but that is the gist of it. I can't recall ever hearing my daughter comment on being grateful, appreciative or in any way thankful for anything she had in her life.........ever............she always pointed out what I hadn't supplied her with, even if she had every possible thing in the world, she would find the one thing I didn't give her and then harp on that for YEARS. My point here is that while we are busy enabling them, they are busy never learning anything about gratitude or appreciation. If you had told me a year ago that my daughter would have posted anything remotely like that anywhere, I would have laughed and said, "you don't know my daughter." If you stop giving to your son, someday he may find himself feeling grateful for you.

    My comment about coming to the end game empty handed meant landing here, as parents of adults having used up all of our parental offerings. However, we are at the beginning of our own path, now free to move ahead without the shackles of responsibilities for another's path.

    I agree that detachment is NOT to stop caring .....................and yet to clarify it for me, I really had to reach a point where I was willing to walk completely away. I think, for me, that willingness was very important because it framed the whole thing differently, there really was a limit to what I was willing to allow......even with my only child.

    And, in terms of continuing to "help" the kids, that is a slippery slope for me, because the difference between enabling and helping is so remarkably small that it is a distinction easy to miss. My helping of my daughter really became almost non-existent. I had to ride that razor sharp edge of "yes I am here for you, but I really am not willing to do anything for you unless you start to do something for yourself." For me, going over a certain line I drew which for me delineated the enabling vs. loving kindness line, was unhealthy and I avoided it. I had to be continually reminded of that line though, which all those therapists and parents in the program I was in did for me. That FOG which we go into when our kids need something and we have the ability to provide it for them, was just way too powerful for me and I needed A LOT of support not to succumb to it.

    I also have to say that there was a time where I did give up on my daughter, I really thought it was over between us, that we would eventually just drift into no relationship at all............I had to accept that as reality because in many ways, it was. For me, I think the idea of 'never giving up on them" ties me to a lifetime of possible enabling..............that "never" word or even the 'always' word are words I try to avoid. Perhaps I might have said, "I am hopeful that things may change", but the truth is I did give up. I think that surrender of control,that giving up, is part of detaching as well...............I raised the white flag at one point and really said, "I am now done." At that point, it was all up to my daughter and she was either going to show up or not. It really still can go either way too.

    I do wholeheartedly agree that all of us here, every one of us, is amazing.............we get up every day and engage in whatever it takes to love our kids and yet learn how to let them go at the same time...........
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    About meditation: I like when somebody, in a soothing voice, guides me. That way I can shut my eyes if I like. That helps me focus.
  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM, do you have a favorite guided meditation you can share with us? And, can we access it online?
  17. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I am thinking you are right, Recovering.

    It's hard for me to see what I don't want to see; easier to turn it into something else, or to distract myself, altogether.

    Thank you, Recovering. It is much riskier to slap than to kiss. I appreciate your honesty.

    It's a process. I am further along than I was, yesterday.

  18. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Thank you for standing in the fray for me, Recovering.

    I am trying.

    I just don't want to see it.

    Boy, do I not want to see it.

  19. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    You were responding to my son's abusive behaviors for me, Recovering. A correct response for me would be anger, too. If I can see it, I can get there.

    Thank you, Recovering.


    Compassion: I can see how bad it is, and feel compassion for husband and I through your postings, Recovering. For me and for husband in our real lives though...I don't know. We are in such a mess of responsibility and anger and shame and just plain at the end of our ropeness. Compassion for ourselves feels like weakness. It feels more like self pity than compassion, so we try to stay away from that altogether, and focus on the problem at hand.

    I will think some more about that. I agree that acknowledging what we have been through, what it has cost, and what the results have been...this is the key to change.


    "The difference between enabling and helping is so remarkably small that it is a distinction easy to miss."

    "Yes I am here for you but I am not willing to do anything for you unless you start doing something for yourself."

    I hear what you are saying. Maybe you are right, and it is time for us to find outside help with drawing and believing in that line.

    You are absolutely right about the FOG.


    It is so hard to see those true things, Recovering. After last winter, after the repeated betrayals, after we hadn't seen or heard from difficult child daughter for so long ~ and once the kids were safe...we were closer then to healthy than we are now, after seeing her, after helping her.

    I can remember searching for her on the streets last summer. Man, that sucked.

    I remember husband's face, after he saw the wrecked van.


    That diagnosis of mental illness leaves us feeling she is not responsible. What we really feel is guilty that we did not take both difficult child and our granddaughter in. The secret at the heart of this is that we didn't want to then, and we don't want to, now.

    Money is replaceable. Time is not.

    Drinking and or drugging, mental illness diagnosis or not, is a betrayal. A betrayal of husband and I, and of her daughter. I am sure about the drinking, because she was drunk when she called to tell us about the beatings. The people she was with were drunk, too.

    Man, it was hard to spit that part out.

    And she mentioned a bottle of Amaretto, and said something about buying it because the male involved was already drunk and he insisted, so she might as well have what she wanted.

    It's just all so shocking, so sordid and disgusting and I don't even want to know any of it. If only we'd taken her in. But if we had...there is the neighbor. The neighbor who will take her in, who will give her a job...who hasn't a clue, and who thinks he is helping her, like every man always does, until he finds himself totally screwed.

    What I should feel is angry ~ ragingly angry.

    But instead, I feel that if we had taken her in, this would not have happened. Like Echolette and the military school, in a way. They did require that of their son, and blame themselves for it. We did not require it, and blame ourselves for that. This is the same thing.

    But I am clinging to every smallest possibility, believing every rationalization I can come up with, to make this something that isn't so stupidly, pointlessly, endlessly ugly. On top of all the other ugliness. On top of arriving at the end game empty handed..... First, as an adolescent and now, finally, as a parent. Hate to give up on that dream, Recovering.

    But it didn't happen. Not for me as a child, and not for me and husband as parents.

    "Once I began seeing it and stopping it, that compassion for myself grew."

    I have been believing I could believe it better, believe it whole and perfect, believe both kids into the fine people it never occurred to me they would not grow up to be.


    Your analogy about the snake pit hit a little too close to home, Recovering.

    Thank you. You are right about the honest slap.

    There is just so much I refuse to see.

    But it is what it is, and I am trying.

    You are right too, about establishing appropriate, inviolate defenses. It is what it is. The one area husband and I allow compassion for ourselves and each other is in acknowledging how good it must feel to have what we see everyone around us sharing with their adult kids. It's like a puzzle we don't understand.

    "How did this happen?" keeps us trying to figure out how to fix it.


    All this stuff is a little too personal, a little too vulnerable. I am going to post it anyway, though. There have to be other parents out there going through something similar.


    This site is anonymous.

  20. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member


    I would like you to post the meditation, too.