A few thoughts on detachment, from the difficult child side of the fence. It's a GOOD THING!

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by trinityroyal, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello everyone,

    I haven't been around much lately, and I feel as though I've been neglecting old and dear friends. I know that, of anyone, this group -- this place -- will understand.

    Anyway, I've had a bit of time today to read and catch up on everyone's news. After reading so many poignant stories of struggles with detachment, I just thought I'd weigh in with the following thoughts. I hope they help, but please feel free to cherry-pick, or ignore completely. Whatever works best under your particular circumstances.

    I am a near-miss difficult child. Aspie, undiagnosed until adulthood, with moods so volatile they could probably qualify as bi-polar II if I were going through the teenage years nowadays. Anorexia, bulimia, heavy drinking. Cutting. Ditching school, roaming the streets of the big city where I grew up and still live now. I can be manipulative, incredibly manipulative.

    I could have gone far, far off the rails, and become any one of your children -- with the struggles they're dealing with, and the fallout you are all dealing with.

    Many factors diverted me from that path, but the biggest of them was: Neglectful Parents. I was an accident, a second child who came along a mere 12-months after the long awaited, long hoped for boy. A girl, no less. A shadow figure. There were times when I was out all night, other times when I was gone for days -- my parents never noticed I was gone. Times when I was in terrible trouble, when I knew that I couldn't breathe a word to my parents, let alone ask them for help.

    What it all taught me was: I'd better smarten up and become human in a hurry, if I wanted to go on to live the wonderful life I'd always dreamed of.
    No one was going to bail me out.
    No one was going to come rescue me.
    No one even knew that I was gone.

    I learned to take responsibility for myself when I knew that no one else was going to do it for me.

    I know that your situations are different than mine was. You all love your children with all your heart -- that's loud and clear from your posts. I think the detachment is also a sign of that love, that you love them enough to let them fly, or fall, on their own terms.

    I cleaned up my act, and now have a wonderful life to show for it. I don't know what's in store for your difficult children, but detaching from them can only help them to find it.

    Many gentle hugs to all of you,
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Trinity, you sweetheart, thank you so much for posting the "other side of the fence" of detachment. We don't hear too much about that.............it was very good for me to hear..........it can be such a challenge to be "us" here ............and to let go, no matter how old our kids are is..........well............devastating. Thanks.............. I could feel a little tug let go after reading your post............(smile..........)
  3. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your "truth". I so hope and pray that young difficult child will learn to fly...as I do for so many of our children.

    And hugs to you my friend. I know I still struggle with pain and resentment from being neglected myself as a child.
  4. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    hmm...that is a very good point. I forget sometimes that I was a difficult child...smoking pot every day before school in 8th grade, pregnant in 9th (and again 1t 19), promiscuous, reckless, drunk into stupor, speed till my nose bled, dated a coke dealer , bulemic, suicide attempt in college, dropped out, went back...depressed and angry...and then at some point in my late 20's I kind of ...got it. That I am responsible for other people, lots of other people, family, friends, strangers. That my choices matter. That I am obliged to do my best.
    I will say that my parents had no active role in that transformation. They had along ago benignly faded into the background, and did not manage my life at all.
    So...that is interesting to remember.

    and yet...I also do not think that it will work out for all of our difficult child's. In fact, one of the dumber things people can say is "I'm sure it will all work out" or I'm sure he will find himself" or other optimistic platitudes that have no role in my life.

    So I don't know.

    But I do know I had to fix myself or not get fixed. And the same is true for our difficult children/
  5. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Well-Known Member

    I was a major difficult child growing up. My parents didn't care - heck, my parents would buy alcohol for us! I cut school ALL the time to stay home and do drugs. I ended up dropping out at 16. I tried out to be a stripper when I was just 16 years old (couldn't figure out how to get a fake ID so I went back at 18 and danced for years). I had my daughter when I was 19 and slowed down some, but was a single mom working in strip club living with my mother - I still partied. And then I met my husband (who was also a difficult child), got married and had our son. Life changed drastically after that - we were a family unit and working hard to provide for our children. There was no major catalyst for change - like Echolette - I just got it in my 20's...my husband, too - never got in any more trouble after we got together. I wish I could say that having difficult child made me grow up, and it did some, but having a family is what made all the difference.

    Thankfully, my daughter really "got it" when she gave birth and was sent back to jail without her baby. It was devastating and painful, but it made her stop dead in her tracks and jump onto the right path. I am SO proud of her now. SO proud of the woman she is becoming. She is an inspiration to so many people now. She tells me there is NOTHING I could have said or done to make her change - she didn't want to change at the time.

    So, I have to agree - there is truly nothing we can do but take care of ourselves...
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    RE, I'm so glad you found my thoughts helpful. I was a bit afraid I'd be rubbing salt in raw wounds, but I hoped you'd all find comfort in it.

    Tammy, I keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers frequently. I too hope your difficult child finds his place in the world, and learns to be happy. Society doesn't seem to teach us that happiness, like any other achievement, is a skill that needs constant practice. I hope he finds his path.

    Echolette, first off, Welcome. I've seen a few of your posts. So glad you found us, but sorry for the issues that brought you here. I agree that not every difficult child finds a way out. I have long chains of mental illness and alcoholism on both sides of my family. I think about my Great-Uncle, who was so drunk one night during the rainy season that he walked over a bridge -- that had been washed away in the storms -- and drowned. There are others, but his story is the most vivid for me. The hardest part with my own difficult child is holding back and letting him fail, and try again, and fail again. Knowing that it's the only way he'll learn, just as it was the only way I learned. He's a hard-head just like his mother. Hopefully, he'll find happiness too, just like his mom did.

    PG, you reminded me of something. I remember the absences so vividly, but often forget the enabling. My mother, a difficult child in her own right, helped me to forge the paperwork to get a fake ID in my teens. Not that I needed one. When I was 14 I could walk into any liquor store in town and not get "carded". Older kids used to send me to buy their alcohol for them, because they would always get caught. Funny...the day I turned legal age, I started getting carded EVERYWHERE. The library, if I was checking something out that didn't come from the children's section. Restricted movies. Very strange...But yeah. A mom who helped me to get a fake ID, so that, as she put it, I could "have a social life". Maybe that's why I'm such a goody two-shoes straight arrow these days. I want my kids to think that rebelling means wearing your top button undone underneath your tie.

    Hugs to all of you.

  7. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Trinity, you just can't know what it meant to read this.

    I am struggling so hard to see a different way, and every smallest change has been a battle of pretty much epic proportions. I was in one of those kinds of struggles today regarding that whole offering grown kids a home if they need and want it thing because of a conversation I had with my daughter.

    I just can't tell you how much your honesty, and the incredible honesty of those who responded with their own stories means to me. People CAN make it. It IS all about choices.

    Thank you, thank you. Until I read this? I thought I had resolved the whole letting grown kids move in with their families without an end date thing. I realize now, feeling that little "pop" Recovering described, that I hadn't.

    Thank you, Trinity.

    Clarity is so hard to come by.

  8. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    My easy child turned difficult child, scared back to easy child after jail time and almost prison, told me once that there was nothing I could have done to prevent her drug use and self destruct.

    I didn't have the guilt with her like I did with my son difficult child. He was born a difficult child and started using drugs, alcohol, and acting out at a very early age. It was bragging rights each time he was arrested, sent to jail, etc. One of his sort of friends and another friend stole a parents car, robbed a home and stole a gun. When the police stopped them the sort of friend said, 'I can't take this any more' and aimed under his chin and pulled the trigger. My son only bragged that they were looking for him and couldn't find him (to joy ride with them and rob the home). My son stole so much from me and helped his friends steal from me.

    There is so much more, we all know the song, it's just sometimes a different tune. But I finally said no more and meant it, even with threats of suicide. I read everything I could find and I spent the year focusing on ME.

    Thank you Trinity for posting, so many I have talked to are afraid of how they will be treated by friends and family if they detach. I was treated badly at some meetings when I disclosed my son had gone no contact and I wasn't looking for him. Some of my family was outraged, the only support I had was my husband (came into the family after difficult child was an adult so he is not emotionally attached) and my daughter.

    Learning to detach and let my son live his life and 'reap what he sows' helped me tremendously and he has a job and says he is in rehab. Could be a lie, he can look you right in the eyes and spin elaborate tales, or could be a fresh start for him. Either way it's his choice.

    My daughter told me a few months ago, she hopes he will get it together to enjoy some of his life. He is almost middle aged and still pretty immature.

    A close family member is struggling to get their difficult child son to 'launch into life' (28). He still lives at home and they took his truck away 'cause they are making the payments. So what is he getting for Christmas, a new TV for his room, LOL. Bless them!

    It's hard to step back and not enable and it does appear to be mean from someones eyes not familiar with the situation, but I wished I had learned to detach much sooner than I did.

    Blessings for us all, and it's great to hear from the difficult child's that made it!
  9. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    I can't thank you enough for sharing this with us! It's late, I'm fried and probably wouldn't make much sense if I wrote much now. However, I couldn't go to sleep without letting you know how much this thread means to me. I'm so glad you're here! SFR