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Well, as you know, last month my daughter's former home burned to the ground with everything she owned in it including her car. She literally left with the clothes on her back. I went through my own experience with it, feeling intuitively that I needed to keep my commitment with myself to NOT step in and help. But, man, it wasn't easy. I spent a few days, on and off, going thru that awful stuff of "what kind of a mother would allow her daughter to go thru this mess without any help?" Then I felt judged by a friend who is from a culture which doesn't believe in detachment from one's kids under any sent me in a spin for awhile. All of it was my own internal battle about where that line of demarcation is.....that boundary which is clear and firm which lets us know when to help, when to seems to move around a lot!

But I did find another level of accepting what I cannot control.

I kept refraining, just stepping back, keeping in touch with her but not stepping in. It wasn't easy.......but here's what happened as I kept myself away.
*She contacted her Dad and they are now fostering a relationship which they never had before. They are talking about her visiting him and helping him when he has upcoming surgery.
*She is talking to a friend about traveling to Costa Rica. She wants to travel, something she has never spoken about before.
*She found a really nice place to stay for awhile with some regular, healthy, typical fact a family. Through this family, she has found odd jobs to make money.
*She is figuring out ways to get a car. She's met people who are helping her in various ways to do that.
*She is beginning to accept the loss and in fact, even though I doubt she would admit to this, she appears relieved.
*She called and made arrangements to pay her restitution to the state......something she usually ignores until there are severe consequences. When I asked her if she intends to pay it, she said, "of course."
* Her demeanor is quite different, her responses are more in line with typical responses. She is calm, sturdy, resilient.....she feels to me as if she has begun some new experience of life....I can't put it into words quite yet....but the difference in her is obvious. I think she is feeling her own power now.

I agreed to take her to our acupuncture and chiropractic appointments once a week. That was what felt appropriate for me to do. And, she is so grateful too.

When I stepped out, others stepped in to help.

She has and is going through grief about the losses, which to me feels very important for her. I always felt that she did not grieve the loss of her husband all those years ago, that she may have gotten stuck somehow in the anger phase of grief. I'm a huge believer in feeling our grief and least for me, feeling the grief in life has opened the door for liberation, freedom and joy.....I believe grief can keep us stuck.....expressing it feels healthier and so freeing.

These go rounds with detachment and acceptance feel like life lessons to me. I was confronted with a situation which had a lot of drama (the fire) and the invitation from within me to get in there and help was at times, very, very enticing. But, the deeper part of me knew that it wasn't appropriate to step in and help.....and I knew I had to hold that line.....shaky as that line was. Very often, in the past, I stepped in to lower the intensity and fear I was feeling.......of course to help her as well.....but it would serve to bring the energy down for me so I could be ok. Exactly like an addict needing a fix, I needed to enable. Many say codependency is an addiction and I would tend to agree......recovery is a real bear, but it is doable.

From this vantage point I can see that this detachment/acceptance stuff is incremental, it is a process of letting go......I've been at this for years and this last go around with the fire felt very really feels as if she is now in her own orbit and I am in my own......we are separate. When I was busy being codependent, the lines between she and I were so blurred, I couldn't differentiate between where I ended and where she began......we were enmeshed. It was as if I surgically disconnected us over time.....the scalpel being my love of self and my love for her.....which didn't really feel that way at the time, but feels that way now. So many times I stepped in to save her and I did damage to both of us. Stepping out and pushing her into making her own choices and figuring it out on her own gave her strength, resolve and power.......the power to change her own life without my interference. I believe I was continuing to send her messages that I believed she couldn't do it without me every time I stepped in and enabled....and when I told her I trusted she would figure it out without me, it felt really weird, but.......she did it.

So, in a month we are leaving for Kauai for a month, to rest and check out possible housing and if it is an option to actually move there. I found that after so many years of enabling, and the PTSD that comes along with having a difficult adult child......I need a LONG REST! It's been amazing to have time and space to rest and rejuvenate after such a long haul....and this trip will be the place we love the most on the whole planet.......what a gift.

As I reflect on all of this, it becomes clear to me that, for me, life is about acceptance. Not only with our kids but in every part of our lives. If we can accept what is and not argue with reality and live in this present moment, not the past and not the future..... what we gain is peace of mind and a deep sense of calm and ain't easy, but I'm learning that the results can be profoundly life altering and absolutely life affirming.
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100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

What an uplifting and enlightening post. Although my son has SA issues, this all still applies. He is 22 but I am bound and determined to let him take the reigns of his own life. I have been working on splitting the atom too!

This is in its own way confirms that we are on the right track with our own son. It isn't easy and it's so easy to fall back on old behaviors.

Your one month trip to paradise sounds wonderful. I know you have earned it!


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He is 22 but I am bound and determined to let him take the reigns of his own life.

I read all your posts RN and you are a master spiritual warrior....I am often in awe of how you go thru this stuff and continue to hold your ground. Bravo. And, believe me, I know how desperately difficult it is too.

I have been working on splitting the atom too!

If we get together with the rest of the crew here, we could split the atom, no problem!


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Fantastic post! It's wonderful that your daughter has managed to handle this really trying time and come out on top of it all. It's so hard to step back, to step away, when they face losses and obstacles in their lives and so easy to handle things for them. You've done an excellent job of remaining in firm boundaries, and it sounds like she's done so well! Bravo to you both!

Enjoy your trip!

pigless in VA

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RE, if I could fit the word "acceptance" on a license plate, I would do it. I did have another one of my favorite words on a plate for awhile "ineffable." That didn't turn out well.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
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As always RE, your posts are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing this with us.

When I stepped out, others stepped in to help.
This short simple sentence is filled with so much truth. I have found this with my son in those times he has reached out to me in a desperate state. When I stand firm and "step out" of it there is always someone who has stepped in to help him. I believe much of this is because of my saying no to him that it has challenged him to reach out to others. In the end he has managed to get through his "desperate state" just fine.

The story of your daughter and the fire makes me think of the Phoenix rising to a new life from the ashes.
That is my hope for your daughter, that after this she will rise to a new life for herself. A healthy meaningful life.

How wonderful that you will get away for a month in Kauai. Sounds heavenly!!

Wishing you safe travels and a time of respite.


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What an uplifting and inspirational post! Like Tanya said, a phoenix rising from the ashes. That's a beautiful image.

I hope you and hubs have a wonderful trip to Kauai, and I hope your daughter follows through with visiting Costa Rica.
World travelers!


Long road but the path ahead holds hope.
From this vantage point I can see that this detachment/acceptance stuff is incremental, it is a process of letting go......I've been at this for years and this last go around with the fire felt very

Wow!! My head and heart are so where you are. Detachment and acceptance. I am getting better at the detachment. But I am still in a very juvenile state when it comes to the acceptance.

No truer words can be said. It is a process and like many other processes our human spirit faces, it is a continuum. I need to learn to step back and see the progress I am making vs judging myself a failure for sliding back on the continuum. All still so Fresh and new as I have only been active in my recovery for a few moths now.

I have copied quotes from your post RA as they really touched my heart and encouraged me. Made me cry a little too.

I so hope you enjoy your time away in that Little slice of Heaven!

You are gracious and kind to share your knowledge so beautifully.


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I have found that the less I do for my daughter the more she does for herself. I am glad that your daughter is handling this herself. It will make her so much stronger in the end.



Roll With It
I am so glad your daughter is making such positive steps forward. I hope she does make that trip to Costa Rica and that you enjoy your trip also.

I often suggest grief counseling to people after a loss, especially a traumatic one. I get funny looks sometimes. People don't like to talk about death in our culture unless it is some crime drama on tv. They don't realize how crippling it can be to not fully deal with a death in your life. I went for grief counseling in college after a friend committed suicide. It rocked my world in a horrible way and I really had no coping skills. I was lucky that my college had programs to help and I knew how to find them. Several people in my group were just then dealing with deaths that had happened years or decades before. What most people don't realize is that most funeral homes offer some sort of grief counseling or will know where it can be found. It can be a major help, but people think that talking about it is strange or wrong in some way.

I think that by standing back and sending the message that you thought she was strong enough to figure this all out, you empowered her. It was a big enough crisis that the community rallied around her and she got just enough support to move her along, but not enough to keep her stuck. It seems like it would be sort of like the psychological and emotional equivalent to the shock they give you to restart your heart in a cardiac emergency in the ER. It jolted her out of her pattern and got her moving in a new way, thinking and feeling in a new way. This let her realize that she could cope and move on, and that there was support out there, that she could make support.

As awful as the fire was, and I would NEVER wish that on anyone, maybe it wasn't all bad. The firefighters here look at the wildfires that burn up acres of brush and trees as not all bad. They do clear things out for new growth, and that does have some positive aspects. It seems your daughter's fire was the same. Good for her and you! I hope you find a new relationship with her that is strong and positive in the coming months and years.


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Acceptance is the key to sobriety and I think we parents need to learn it, too. I complimented my daughter the other day about how calm she is all of the time. When I get frustrated about a traffic jam, my daughter just laughs and says there is nothing we can do about it. When I asked her how she does it, she told me that it was part of the twelve steps to not get upset about things she has no control over. She said if she couldn't do that, she would be high all of the time.

I thought about it later and realized it was something I had to work on, too. I let little things upset me rather than let them go. Parents of troubled loved ones need to learn to accept the fact that they can't change their children or control their bad choices.

Once I learned to accept that, my life truly changed for the better. Coincidently or not, so did my daughter's life.