A long hard week with my difficult child

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Jun 9, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    So, after violating her probation, she is being kept in the county jail until the next court date on Monday. Her car was impounded. My SO and I talked extensively about what to do. It's new for me to have someone who knows the whole story and has lived some of it with me, to talk to about what to do. It was invaluable to get his thoughts and opinions especially since he is not entrenched in a codependent experience with my difficult child, he is neutral. I have made all the decisions alone for my difficult child's entire life so that part was really good.

    We found out that once a car is impounded, aside from the daily charges, a lien is placed on the vehicle and after 40 days and thousands of dollars the car is auctioned off. At that point, if the vehicle does not bring in enough money to pay for the impound charges, a lien is placed on the owners license and until that charge is paid, the owner cannot renew the license. In addition, the police left difficult child's purse, phone, some jewelry, her wallet and all her personal belongings in the car.

    I talked to my granddaughter about it and asked what she thought I should do. She thought about it and said, "I usually tell you to let Mom alone and don't help her, but this time I think you should help her."

    I talked to my difficult child and we said we didn't know if we were going to help or not, we were thinking it through. She was hysterical and trying to come up with how she could pay for some of it. The first day we drove all over the county trying to get the proper paperwork which was made monstrously difficult because I am not the owner of the car, and all of the officials who could have helped us, would only give us one small piece of the puzzle and at the next stop we would be met with, "oh no, you didn't do this, and you need that, so you have to go back to _______" Over and over again. One part of the justice system does not connect with any other part and the people you deal with treat you the same exact way the inmates are treated. It was horrible and monumentally frustrating. It could all have been easy, but because no one would help us or give us the information we needed, it was very, very difficult.

    When we left the impound lot for the second time being told we had the wrong paperwork I just broke down crying and couldn't stop. The stress, frustration level, worry, anger, disgust at the way we were being treated, got to me and I just couldn't take one more moment of it. We then drove an hour to find out that now we had the right paperwork but my difficult child''s registration had expired and she had not renewed it so we couldn't get it out. One of many examples of my difficult child's inability to take care of her responsibilities.

    The third day we went to the DMV, paid for the registration, went to the jail, got the paperwork, went to the Sheriff's office, paid for the release, went to the impound lot and paid for the car. $913 including the portion I paid towards her rent so she wouldn't be evicted.

    Through all of this difficult child did not know what was happening, she could only call once per day and I wasn't always available to talk.She was sitting in jail not knowing if we had gotten the car or not. When we did finally connect, I told her I would help her under one condition that she had to agree with. And that is, from this point on, I would not respond to ANY drama, crisis, problems or anything other then 3 things, 1. to let me know she had a job, 2. to let me know she was in therapy and 3. if she was calling to take me out to lunch (a nod to just having a normal connection) I told her she had to recognize that had I not stepped in , she would get out of jail with the clothes on her back, no home, no car, no purse, no phone, nothing. And, from now on I will not be drawn into her drama and her life lived from crisis to crisis. I said unless she is getting in touch with me for those 3 things, I will hang up the phone and not be part of the newest drama, no matter what it is. I said, "if you are in jail, if you are on the street, if you are homeless living under a bridge, I will not respond to you. If you want help, get a job, get into therapy and then I will show up, in the absence of that, do not involve me in your life."

    I had therapy on Thursday evening. It was helpful to talk about it and get positive feedback which felt supportive and acknowledging given the difficult situation. My difficult child is mentally ill which is what has kept me always trying to ride that line between enabling and helping. She just doesn't have the capabilities to make healthy life choices which keep her safe. I have stepped in a number of times in the last 6 months ever since she became homeless, which has been a scary place for me. But, I am finished stepping in now, mental illness or not. In therapy I learned that since I've been taking care of mentally ill people all my life (parents, sister, brother, daughter) it is simply something I just do. But now the impact on my life is so grand that I have to stop to save myself, my SO and my granddaughter from the relentless insanity. I did not cause this, I cannot fix this, I am powerless.

    I told my SO that it's like my daughter is in a boat which has lots of holes in it and she is drowning. I am busy trying to fill up all the holes to keep her from drowning. Then he said, "yeah, and she is busy making new holes." Wow. That image really got to me because that is exactly what is happening. There is no end to it. There are always new holes.

    I am exhausted from all of this. I am depleted and don't have any energy left. In addition, my granddaughter had her 4 wisdom teeth extracted on Tuesday, right in the middle of my difficult child's drama, and she has been in considerable discomfort and is very unhappy right now. So I am worried about her too. It's just taken me out.

    Thanks for listening. Any words of wisdom? I'm all ears. I think my ears are all that's left working.
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm sending supportive hugs your way. I do understand how the cycle can just keep going and keep going and abnormal starts to be seen as normal. Fingers crossed that you are comfortable with the lines you have drawn. From sad experience I can attest to the fact that a whole lifetime can be sacraficed be daily choices and then whammo you realize tht your life is actually coming to an end and you won't have time to live it because you've been living the difficult child's life. Hugs DDD
  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi RE,
    Wow, what a week! First of all, I hope your granddaughter is feeling better - 4 wisdom teeth extractions are so hard...I've known of people getting 2 out, then healing, then the other 2 out, but never 4 at once! yeesh. I'm sorry she's uncomfortable.

    Now to your difficult child. What you wrote about having to care for so many mentally ill and needy people who make more "holes in their boat" than you can keep up with, is similar to my life growing up. It's always something or someone, particularly my mentally ill brother (I'm his only sibling) and his issues. Fortunately, he lives in an adult home about 15 mins. from my house now, so I don't have to worry so much about him being homeless, but he never eats the food they provide, he calls me about 5x a day, and when he runs out of cigarettes or money, he gets panicky and doesn't stop harassing me till I drive over there and give him money and cigarettes. He is so ill he is unable to work, and he smokes so much that his health is otherwise impacted from it as well.

    I thought it was brilliant to give your difficult child the 3 scenarios for which you will accept her calls. If she is able to work and get therapy on her own, then she should do so. The real question is...is she? We kept pressuring my brother to basically live at a higher level than he was capable, and he finally had a complete breakdown, and hasn't worked since (almost 22 years ago). He desperately wants to move in with husband and me, but that is totally out of the question right now...just seeing him for 6 hours once a week is so draining, that the idea of him living with-us makes me itch. I love him, but I cannot do that to my family. So I hear you, loud and clear. What you did this past week is exceptional, but caring for and "saving" a mentally ill person from their poor choices is like changing deck chairs on the Titanic.

    I get to the same point with my brother, and I swear "no mas!" but I am always guilted out into breaking my own vows. For now, I take it one day at a time. If your difficult child is higher functioning, then I think the boundaries you have set are totally and completely reasonable and you are right to set those boundaries for the preservation of your own sanity. You don't need much in the way of wise advice, because you are the wise one, in my opinion!
  4. You must be exhausted. Hope that you get a bit of rest soon.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    First of all....DDD, your posts are really starting to worry me!

    RE, you are a real inspiration as far as being a warrior mom. You have been through so much, done so much, and keep working on trying to figure out just where to draw the line. I do think you made a good decision. Personally I think that was a steep punishment by the cops. I can understand impounding the car but to attach the license as well, I would have done what you did too. However I do agree with what you told her next. Only the good stuff from now on. No more problems. It does get tiring.
  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think your line in the sand is drawn and there is no advice to be given. You just need to believe in it so you follow through with it. For you, so and granddaughter. Period.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Ditto, Wend. DDD
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sorry, Janet. No melodrama intended. My point was, simply, that weeks, months, years and decades can literally slip by due to the focus given to difficult child's. If at some point you don't draw a line in the sand then a lifetime can be absorbed by repeated attempts to help another live their life productively. DDD
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning,
    Thank you for your replies, I always appreciate other parents insights and support. I feel better today.

    DDD, thank you for your care, you're absolutely right, I do hear you and I understand.

    CJ, I'm sorry you have a similar experience with your brother, mental illness impacts the entire family in such dramatic and unpredictable ways. "Changing deck chairs on the Titanic" is perfect, that is precisely what it's like. It certainly is a good thing that your brother is in an adult home, I wish my difficult child was in something like that. Thank you for your support about my 3 scenarios, difficult child sure forces one to think and think of new and improved tactics to set boundaries. To answer your questions, I think my granddaughter turned the corner on the pain. Her wisdom teeth were so badly impacted the Dentist did extensive surgery cutting the bone, so I understand why she was in so much pain. I get distressed when a child is in pain, I feel so helpless to make it go away. Is my difficult child capable of working? I am not sure anymore. She has deteriorated mentally in recent years, it seems like she goes deeper and deeper into darkness. I am just not certain of what her capabilities are.

    FHW, I rested well yesterday and feel quite a bit better today, thanks.

    Janet, thanks for your kindness, I appreciate your comments. I also believe this punishment was beyond the crime. But, I also understand that small town police know all the offenders and keep a close eye on them, they are re-arrested over and over again on minor charges which we read in the local paper all the time. In addition to just being the way it is, it's a great source of revenue for quite a lot of people. My difficult child will have a large price she will owe when she does get out.

    BW- thanks. Yup, follow through is the key now.

    Update-- my difficult child called yesterday at the height of my weariness and extreme fatigue. She was very upset about the impact her life is having on me, she could hear it in my voice which was at that point, barely a whisper, I was just completely depleted. She kept saying she was so sorry that she had caused so much stress and pain for me. I was very quiet. She said she had been worried about me because of the impending surgery for the hernia at the end of this month and now she could hear how stressed out I have been. She said, "Mom, I will do anything you want me to to stop causing this stress for you." I said, "then go to the therapists I found and get yourself evaluated so we can find out what is going on and correct it." She said she would. She was crying and very upset and she sounded sincere in that moment. I have asked her for 12 years for this and this is the first time she not only did not argue vehemently against it, but in fact, agreed. She sounded like she had reached some point of surrender to this whole mess. I don't know. I am not jumping for joy because she has to get out first and then she has to actually go for the evaluation and anything can happen in between. I hope she does this, I told her if she does, I will walk through the whole process with her. But if not, it will be my 3 scenarios back in place. One way or the other, the era of insanity, for me, is over.

    My therapist told me the other night that with each level of detaching and accepting, there is another level of grief. I cried a lot yesterday, I didn't think there were any more tears left to cry, but it is just so, so sad, such a wasted life, a life stuck in such darkness and pain and I am completely powerless to fix it.

    Well, now I have to do what we all do, put one foot in front of the other and motor on. We'll know tomorrow if difficult child gets out or not. It's a beautiful day today, SO and I are going for a long walk soon. That'll help.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Glad you feel a little better RE. That car stuff was excessive. I know even getting my car when it was towed after a snow storm made me lose my mind! Sorting thru all of that stuff? I would have done it too, but it would have wiped me out. I can only imagine.

    I think your limits were perfect. If it was me, this would be my bottom, but for so many difficult child's even jail isn't a bottom. I hope she maintains her line of thinking and does follow through with the suggestions you gave.

    HUGs and prayers for you and your family. Sounds like SO is a keeper....