Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I talked to my daughter yesterday morning. She asked me to check on some things in her car, it looks like quite a few things have been stolen. I was at work when she called and I needed to go, she said she would call when they let them out of their cells, which apparently happens once or twice a day. She didn't call back until this morning. I am still attempting to decipher how the conversation was so different.

    I think the biggest discernible change was my own response to her. I was again in my silent mode. I felt neutral, detached and yet really compassionate and present with her. I did not judge her or ask any questions or make any inquires or feel any negativity towards her. Absent were the recriminations, silent make wrong, resentments, sadness, anger, critical thoughts, really it was so calm......quiet and easy.

    Since her husband committed suicide 14 years ago, she has been on some kind of a dark and intense journey which has kept her very distant from everyone. Our relationship got more and more strained and distant over time. Then when she lost her home a little over 2 years ago, the descent she was in sped up dramatically and she has stayed at the survival level for awhile now. That's when my enabling hit it's peak.

    She and I were very close when she was growing up. But over so much time and so many tragedies in her life, our connection dwindled down to almost nothing in the last year as I learned to set boundaries on her behavior and choices and I found a new way of caring for myself. This morning on the phone was perhaps the first time, for me, that I think I just accepted her the way she is and in that acceptance, what arose for me was compassion for her.

    The entire conversation was so different, for her too, she seemed to be making adjustments to that acceptance, but I don't really know, all I can really know is how I felt and I felt very different. SO and I talked about it afterwards which helped me to better understand what had happened.

    As I've mentioned I'm reading Living Beautifully. She outlines three commitments which are ways of living a spiritual life. The first is committing to not cause harm, "to be fully present, feel your heart and leap." The second is to take care of one another, "beyond our comfort zone, breathing in pain, breathing out relief which is the catalyst for compassion." Using her model in connecting with my daughter in a different way, that first phone call I was practicing the first commitment and I was present and in my heart. Last night I followed the instructions on how to breathe in the pain my daughter is dealing with and breathe out comfort to her. This morning I had a distinct response of deep compassion for her without all of the past story line showing up at all. I had no expectation that anything should change or be different, it just is. It was so profound for me that the level of peace I left that conversation with is still with me.

    It feels like we have separated, she is over there and I am over here and that separation allows me to see her, to be present with her in a way I am not sure I have ever felt before. I don't know if any of this will impact her or not..........but it is very different for me. Perhaps without the past she and I have shared and without the hope for a different future, I landed in the present, I am not sure. I felt a new kindness for her, a softening of my heart, I'm not sure I'm capable of explaining it with words since it was so neutral and yet filled with space and caring at the same time. Whatever it is, it feels good. Today, again I have that deep conviction that she and I are in the absolute right place. I will continue to report on how this develops.

    Oh and by the way, that third commitment (which I haven't gotten to reading yet) is Committing to embrace the world just as it is. I look forward to finding out what that's about.

    My strong commitment from childhood was to heal the dysfunction in my family that gets passed on from generation to generation...........I think my granddaughter is okay, but I thought I had lost my daughter.......I really had given up hope for her..........and the truth is that she may continue down this dark path..........and yet, if I can hold on to this feeling of acceptance for her,then whatever she does, wherever she goes, it will be okay. I don't think acceptance was a component of my own childhood, nor for my parents or my siblings.........from my vantage point right now, that acceptance seems to be the most important thing on this journey.
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  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

  3. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Recovering, you have worked so diligently for this is amazing that the messages and teachings are the same from so many reminds me of labor...breath, allow what is happening, accept it, let it flow through you, don't judge it is scary or wrong or dangerous...let the waves pass and their is a reward (uh, that analogy may fall down when the reward is a difficult child).
    I am glad you had hours of peacefulness, an awareness of the light.

    Your daughters story is so sad. I don't know what happened to her, which sounds like it dated from her husband's suicide, why that entered her into such a dark night, if it did. Somehow her trajectory really catches me, for you, for her. Your summary of your relationship, your reminder that you were so close when she was just brings on an ache of awareness that everything is ephemeral, that we will lose it all, that all we can do is be kind.

    You are doing that.

    You are accepting, and being kind TRULY, all the way through, in your spirit.

    Good morning, Recovering.

    We are with you through this, too.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wow, what a powerful post and so wise. I need to buy that book. I think you did great. I was one of your "winner" responses :) I am trying to learn to get to where you are at. I am going to try to do that next time I talk to 36 and he starts whining about his there, but be a distant bystander with a heart that absorbs his pain? Is that the gist of it? I think I really do need the book.

    I am glad you are in a place of peace with the ability to deal with your daughter with both compassion and detachment. I wish you peace and serenity today need that book!!!!
  5. Recovering, i admire the place you are with your detachment and the efforts you have made to reach there.I wish i can say the same but the wisdom that i have gained from you, cedar, mwm and several other members old and new like COM, Echolette e.t.c have helped me get out of bed in the last few days. You guys are awesome and your advice to others have helped me so much. You are an inspiration to me recovering and hopefully in the future i will be able to get where you are.
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  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you MWM, Echo and Havehadenough, I so appreciate your support.

    I've spoken to my daughter a couple of times. I am okay. I continue to see my own signs of recovery and acceptance in this journey. She asked me on Friday night to call a friend of hers on Saturday. I said okay at first but upon further reflection I decided I did not want to do that. When she called on Saturday, I told her I wouldn't be calling her friend, that it didn't feel right. Oddly she accepted my refusal amicably and even more oddly, she then asked me about her daughter's college plans. The evening before I told her we had been working on paperwork for scholarships, so she was inquiring about all of that.

    We spoke in a way we haven't in many, many years. Just chatting about her daughter's plans, what I'm doing, a casual connection. I did not have the old angst I felt when talking to her, I was still in that neutral zone. I continued to feel acceptance of her.

    We found out via the roommate that the police had searched his home and that she cannot return there due to that community having some kind of trespassing order against her now. I am not sure of all the details, but I conveyed all of it to her last night when she called. She now has no home to return to when she eventually gets out. And, there may be more legal repercussions, I am not sure. She has a hearing on Monday.

    She asked me to make another phone call and I said no. I said I would put money on her account and she could make whatever phone calls she wanted, but I was not willing to be involved in any of it accept talking to her. She was initially upset about finding out that she has no home to go to. I was present for that without the feelings of trying to fix it and I told her she was fortunate that for right now, her car is safe, her cats are safe (the roommate said he would take care of them until she got out) her "stuff" is safe, so 'out here' there is nothing to worry about, everything is taken care of as best as can be under the circumstances. There was an unusual lack of drama from her. I think it has something to do with my neutrality and openness........but I am not sure of that. I feel very strong in my own self right now, strong in my convictions of detachment, strong with my boundaries. And, yet, I feel open to her, gentle towards her, compassion and love for her, there is all of this 'space' which surrounds us now, that feels new.

    I am seeing that with each new moment, I can now trust myself to respond appropriately for ME. She requests something and I can consider the request and I can honestly respond from a good place inside more blanket statements from me, just staying in the moment and addressing what's in front of me right now. I think that is my learning curve now. Acceptance, staying in the present moment, telling the truth and keeping myself out of thinking about the outcome at all. It is what it is.

    I don't seem to be getting caught in all the usual 'snags' along the way. That sense of she and I being separate beings remains strong. The feeling of all of us being in the right place remains. I was telling SO last night that separate from the reality of her present predicament, this feels like a deeper opportunity for her and for me to move through what feels like the end of my enabling......... where we are both free to be in our own lives. She has been living in survival mode for so long, being where she is gives her a lot of time to reflect and feel, time one doesn't have when every single day is a fight to survive. She will either take that opportunity or not.............but I am taking my opportunity to show up differently and remain intact.
    Each day is new, each interaction with her is a new opportunity for me to show up, pay attention, tell the truth and let go of the outcome. I am seeing this as a practice.........I am using all the tools I've learned, staying in my center, doing all my self care, placing my daughter in the hands of a higher power and letting go.

    I see new meaning in the phrase, 'take it one day at a time'........without focusing on the past or the future, each moment is new, right here in the present moment, it's all okay. Dragging the past along and worrying about the future brought so much pain to this part is new and really, a lot easier too.

    Throughout the day, when I think of her instead of going down the old roads of despair or fear or worry or sorrow or whatever, that thought comes in and then I look around me and realize, okay, in this moment, everything is okay, nothing has changed, I can certainly go down those old paths but I don't think so, I think I'll stay here in this moment and enjoy it. It's working. I think that is as good as it gets.
  7. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    What a healthy and right place to be, RE. That feeling of separateness, that is what has to happen. And when you can practice it, then you feel it, or maybe when you feel it, then you can practice it. Who knows what comes first?

    And it will impact her. And it will impact your relationship, like a rock that is thrown into a pond, and the ripples the rock creates changes all matter and force and light in the pond. One change leads to another change, and then another.

    RE, you are not doing the same thing you have always done. You have changed how you respond to your daughter. And you have grown into that change. It feels natural to you and so you have taken another step forward in your own life.

    You have ended something you practiced for all your life. Now, what is next? It will likely be better as what you are doing now is from a position of peace and love and strength and respect.

    A great practice and I aspire to move to this at some point in the future. It sounds like such rightness.
  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    There is a difference in your writing, Recovering. More a sense of curiosity about the process, and about yourself, than about what will happen next for your child. I remember so well that feeling of FOG, that overwhelming need to concentrate every bit of energy into a whirlwind to save the difficult child ~ and then, watching it all go down the drain.

    Just that.

    Watching it all, everything I'd said or done or thought, in that panicky, FOG place, trickle right down the drain.

    I remember beginning again, from some other direction. So crazed with it, everything so chaotic and pointless and useless.

    Instead of the FOG, you are centered, like the calm in the eye of the storm, Recovering.

    Aware. Sun filled.

    There is blue sky.


    Carrying the quiet with you, in you, part of you.

    So this is what it is to know the opposite of FOG.

    These may be the final steps Recovering, to changing the generational pattern. If you see it in the sense of balance as opposed to the wild swing of yin/yang emotion...ah, of course you do. That is why you titled one of your last posts "A strange balance point."

    An amazing thing to have seen, to have been part of, Recovering. You've described it so beautifully. I can feel what it feels like, too.

  9. Hello RE.

    I just wanted to let you know that I read your recent threads and that although a bit late, I am joining the wagons circling you.

    Reading what you wrote your SO told you regarding "you are not alone anymore, I am here now" brought tears to my eyes as well (as another poster had commented.) Good for you. It is about time that after all of the years of shouldering so much by yourself you have this blessing in your life!!! So touching how you thanked him. Thank him from all of us too. We are glad that he is there for you.

    In many, many, ways your difficult child daughter and my difficult child mother are similar. When my grandmother died 18 years ago my difficult child mother was left without her biggest enabler and because of what went down while grandma was dying and right after the funeral (cops but no arrests) I finally cut her off totally. Interesting thing is that since that time, difficult child mother has found a way all of these years to survive, without support from me or grandma. My sisters still help her a little (both did move out of state to get away from her though in attempt to limit her) but mostly she found ways to get a housing subsidy and other benefits all without working a day in the past 25 years and still being an addict. Although her standard of living is not luxury she has a steady income of social service benefits, decent housing and health insurance.

    Like my difficult child mother, I hope that your daughter will find a way now that the other options are no longer available. Your daughter has had time to fact find by calling you and learning from you what you are willing to do for her. She has had time to learn that the roommate is no longer an option. She has lots of time in jail to think this through. Hopefully, she will have the survival instinct that my difficult child mother had once she knew there was no other option left. Like my mother, all your daughter has to worry about is herself and maybe the cats. Can you imagine just having to worry about only yourself?! Wow, wouldn't that be nice? It was very hard to cut my mother off 100% and there is still conflict with my sisters over this but both my mother and I "benefited" by me making that tough decision just as you and your daughter have both benefited by your tough choices over the past two years. I say "benefited" because there is no denying that these situations are sadly and tragically not the way any of us would want things to be.

    You sound like you are doing great, learning and growing from this latest experience but I am sorry that you are going through this. Being that you are a fellow "meat in the mental illness/difficult child generational sandwich" sufferer as I am, I want to scream to the universe: "Enough already! RE has had enough of this! Leave her alone!" Surely there are some other aspects of your life you can work on and learn from right?

    Hang in there. You rock.

  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Has daughter been released, Recovering?

  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning everyone. Thank you for your support.

    I've been looking into that question feels like the final chapter in my book of enabling. I am not sure what the new book will be entitled..........I'm hoping something like The adventures of RE on her quest for joy, peace, travel, laughter, good food and fun! In 6 months my granddaughter will be off to college. My working days are leaning more and more into retirement...........change is definitely afoot.

    Seems somehow all appropriate now, all the pieces falling into place. Letting my granddaughter go is a process, but it's the normal trajectory of a child growing into adulthood and the parent slowly but effectively, letting go. My daughter will be in jail for 60 days, so from the arrest it looks like she will be out on April 23. That timing feels right to me, for ME to get comfortable and better at this separation and for her, well, for her to do whatever she does.......I have no more illusions that she will change, if she does, she does, if she doesn't, she doesn't. But, that timing will allow me to strengthen my new SELF and when she gets out, I imagine I will be in a good place to wish her well on her journey, with both of us knowing, she is now on it without me.

    Thank you for that FHW, I have often said those exact words, ENOUGH already! It's good to see you! It feels as if I am sweeping out the final remnants of the old family more sandwich, just me alone as the main course...........

    There is this odd freedom with my daughter tucked away in jail. All of the worrisome components, her cats, her car, her stuff..........all taken care of. Her basic needs covered and she is 'relatively' safe. There is NOTHING for me to do or think about now. In an odd way, I am free, perhaps a training ground of what is to come when she gets out. But, for now, I can empty my brain of any nagging thoughts about her and simply be in my own life. The remaining cords of our negative connection are being broken.

    I feel hopeful. For me. I feel as if the world is opening up...........after being closed down in my focus on my daughter, my mother, my granddaughter, my sister...........that focus on the "other" prevented me from really seeing.............seeing what is really out there........right in front of me...........

    I had a bad day yesterday. Not really about my daughter, just a pile of stuff that encircled me as the day wore on until I got home and just collapsed. I was reading my new favorite book, Living Beautifully about how to go into the feelings without a story line, without any interpretations or words attached to the feelings......she said it was a practice to use everything as a means of 'awakening', of being in the present moment, of coming to grips with the impermanence and chaos and uncertainty of life.............this seems important to me right now........I feel as if I am learning something so valuable about living, about being human, about living in that uncertainty without control, without my story, without fear.............and actually being okay.

    The odd thing is that I would not have been able to see any of this if I hadn't gone through all of this detachment and acceptance with my entire family............I'm not quite in a feeling of gratitude about all that pain yet, but it feels as if I am headed in everything else, one step at a tiny step..........I am grateful today though, grateful for the remarkable ability we humans have to change. Amazing.
  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Recovering.

    Holding you in my thoughts.


    If I knew how to post the picture of the bald woman meditating beneath the moon and the sun, I would post it for you, now.

    If you look at it now, you will feel the wordless strength of it.
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Sometimes, there just isn't anything to say.

    One of the ladies in my Tai Chi class lives in chronic, increasing pain. She says so little about it. It came up naturally enough, yesterday. The Tai Chi instructor said nothing. Met her eyes. Held her suffering.

    It is what it is.

    It is never going to be alright.

    His eyes-on acceptance of her pain and her situation was a true mark of respect, an acknowledgment of her pain, and of her courage.

    It was beautiful, Recovering.

    I am seeing courage in so many guises, now. A kind of tenderness is awakening in me, for all of us, whether I know the story or not.

    I wonder whether the same thing will happen, with joy?

    I would like that!



    I watched the sun rise, this morning.

    Sea birds were calling.

    It took such a long time, to break over the horizon, Recovering.
  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks Cedar. I understand what you are saying. Being fully present with another is a remarkable and very tender and beautiful experience. It does not require words.

    There was a time in my life where I volunteered to work with people who were dying. Even though it could be looked at as depressing and sad, and of course, it was probably where I learned the most about living. Facing death I think really places you right in the present moment without any BS to cloud your view..........people can get REAL. Sitting with death like that brought the preciousness of living home to me in a very profound way.

    I can recall this one very young man, 28 years old, days away from his final moments. I asked him if his dying had taught him anything. He said, "yes, it's taught me to be with people who love me the way I want to be loved." That comment impacted me and I never forgot it. As the layers of life start to dissolve as we start passing from life, love is what seems to be uppermost on people's minds. I learned so much from all of those folks making their final journey. It also gave me some insights into how to be present because often, people didn't want to chat, they simply wanted my presence, for me to be fully there with them.

    It was so fascinating to me as I watched relatives and friends show up and their discomfort and uneasiness was so evident.........I watched the dying person search for that presence and so often be disappointed while the visitor was so distraught or fearful or whatever, but rarely were they present.

    That's the presence I am attempting to bring to the connection with my daughter. It's hard to do too. But, like everything else, it's a practice. If you think about it, can't you really tell when someone is NOT present with you? And, think about when you really do feel that presence and how much that means and how much it changes the dynamic of the connection.

    I think when I was in enabling mode, I was not at all present, I was operating out of what I either thought I should be doing, or out of fear, or my own 'stuff' but I was not present. I think that also has to do with having the capacity to be in the present moment and not in the past or in the future or worried or constantly ruminating, or allowing our minds to hold court in our heads judging and continually evaluating and analyzing, geez, it's exhausting!

    Yeah Cedar, I think being fully present is an art, a skill which, at least for me, deserves attention and practice.
  15. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    That is a beautiful legacy that kid left behind. I like that a lot. Thich Nhat Hahn talks about giving the love that is wanted...he uses the example of giving flowers every day to some one you love who doesn't like is not what they need, not what will make them feel loved and seen. You have to find the thing that will make them feel loved. And that is found in time, in being with, in acknowledging who there are, in their weakness, in their pain, in their loss.

    One of the worst things people could say to me as difficult child was growing up (always off kilter) was...I am sure it will be fine. I'm sure he has a gift or a talent that will out, and he'll be great. Or variations on that theme.

    CAuse here is the was never going to be fine, and definitely not great. And so those empty words robbed me of my loss, of my dignity (with the best possible intention). They robbed me of my experience.

    As with your dying boy, Recovering...he had to be allowed to be dying. People who were afraid of that, or pretended otherwise, were not welcome in his final, sweet, limited hours. I get that.

    It won't be all right, my friends, REcovering, Cedar, Child, Seeking, all of will just be. And we are here for each other for that.

  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is beautiful, Echo.

    I am wondering about these kinds of things, lately. There is strength in hope...but the line between hope, between the belief that strengthens and the tumble into denial that destroys, is such a fine one.

    I am still so surprised that I never minded how my son treated me. I never took him seriously, never granted him the respect of replying honestly to his increasingly abusive behaviors, denigrating both him and myself.

    I am shocked to know this.

    As you have noted about the death in Recovering's story, and about the pain of being unheard in your own...what we need, what will heal and strengthen us is not hope, but a living witness.

    Hope, we can figure out how to do for ourselves.

    I read something once that went something like this: "Which of us is so unimportant that what passes between us has no meaning?"

  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Here is a strange thing: I was talking to my daughter last night. She was all into mushrooms ~ how they grow, which are poisonous, what the amino acid structure is and how it differs from the amino acid structure of almost all other life forms.

    It was like talking to my real daughter, again.

    She gets into things where she has to know everything about whatever it is. I was into mushrooms myself, once. They are the strangest things! And we had one of those conversations where the time flies. As I shifted back into mother mode, the mood changed. Neither of us wanted to go there. difficult child dutifully reported the results of the latest tests and etc.

    I was so conscious of the shift.

    So conscious of the who I am with her when I am her mother.

    I have not reached any conclusions about this. But then, there were your and Echo's posts.

    This all has something to do with presence and hope and the off-putting that enabling is. But then, moms do become authority figures while our children are young. We are their biggest cheerleaders. It is our job to believe they can do it. The process is supposed to work that, as the kids get stronger, we let that go. As we age, the authority shifts over to the younger, stronger kids, as they come to care for us and eventually, to watch over our deaths.

    And, like Forrest Gump...that's all I know about that.

  18. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Wow. I have been thinking about your post a lot today. Glad you said it.
  19. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Beautifully said Echo and Cedar.

    That is so true. When others offer those platitudes, certainly not intending to harm.........but nevertheless, they are not only not hearing you, they are in essence denying your reality and making it clear they will not be present for whatever pain or loss you are attempting to feel.

    As a sensitive child growing up, both of my parents, in their own mental illness and incapacity to be present for themselves, consistently denied my feelings and replaced them with their own very skewered growing self interpreted those messages as there was something inherently wrong with me.

    Our collective lack of presence, in my opinion, does enormous damage.

    I believe that being fully present is a very healthy way to be........enabling, in my opinion, is a part of the "fixed or inauthentic self" which is not operating out of sincere emotions which are then expressed easily and truthfully, it is a model created in fear and cemented in, within which we cannot be real, we are caricatures of whatever role we designed to play many cases, our interpretation of the "perfect mother"...............the all knowing, always loving, always understanding, always nurturing, always available not at all real or realistic.

    I think hope is a positive until a certain point is reached......then letting go is in attempting to resuscitate someone back to life, after awhile you have to let go. There isn't anything else to do, the person has died. You can hope all you want for a different outcome, but the end has arrived. That is the point we all wrestle with, when is that point? How do you know you reached it? Did you go over it and not know it? Could you have done more? Should you continue to do more?

    These are extremely difficult questions and when you apply it to our's no wonder we hold on so long. I think that's also the difference in the younger kids and many of our older kids here.......when they are younger hope is a definite positive........and a parent most likely should hold on tightly to that hope.............but at a certain point, which is not at all clear, that hope turns into a negative, it becomes stagnant, no actions occur, it becomes a poisoned pond due to no movement. And, even then we hold out hope. We are amazing creatures in our ability to hope.

    But, for me, and I think I have the oldest kid here, hope had to go. For the parents of the younger ones, that could sound horrible, abhorrent and cruel............. and about a year and a half ago, I felt that too. Hope can be a double edged sword. I had to go through hell to find that out.

    On a lighter note, I am feeling pretty good. We are all settling into this new "normal." I have another 6 or 7 weeks of this and then there will be more changes. She found out a lot of her stuff was actually taken by the police and they have it for that is a relief, she thought it was stolen. There is also some discrepancy with the statements about a no trespassing order in the complex she was living I am not sure what the actual truth is. In most ways I don't need to know anyway............She called me at work today and I voiced my reluctance in doing a lot this go round.......I am keeping my involvement at a real minimum now which feels appropriate. As we often say here, it is what it is. And, I am in a good place.

    If you feel up to it, perhaps say a prayer for my daughter........she could sure use some guidance and a new path lit up for her..........praying is what I do most for her now..........thank you.
  20. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I will pray for your daughter, Recovering,today and going forward.

    the Buddhist prayer of loving kindness (metta)

    May she feel safe.
    May she feel loved.
    May she feel joy.
    May she feel whole.
    May she know peace.

    and the Jewish version...Mi shebeirach...for those in need of healing, we pray for the renewal of body, the renewal of spirit.

    and the Quakers at my sons' school....we will hold her, and you, in the light.