Always At Their Mercy - Nothing is Black and White

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by ChickPea, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. ChickPea

    ChickPea Member

    Feeling frustrated today. It's not been a great week, and as someone posted in another thread - weekends always seem to be worse.

    I'm struggling with this part of detachment:

    * Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life.

    Which is leading me to this:
    * (IN)Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point.

    My daughter blew up at us again and told me to "blank" off, held us hostage in the house while she had the baby in her arms while we repeatedly asked her to leave.

    She had made plans to take the baby today to a friend's house (SAFE plan, I would drop them off and pick them up - she does not take the baby by herself at this time). I confirmed plans twice this morning to make sure they were still on. Five minutes prior to leave time she called my husband and said she wasn't going and would do something else. He told her not to come over, that we would see her later for dinner, but she insisted she was on her way and hung up on him. Minutes later she was at the house.

    It's hard to keep boundaries when we are primary caregivers for the baby right now and not getting along with our daughter. She has been very mean and cold and rude lately, but still expects an open-door policy.

    I feel so much like I'm always at her mercy. She can scream at us, tell us to go blank ourselves, and then be fine the next minute. My stomach is still in knots hours later and I feel flatlined from trying to turn emotions off.
     
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I don't know what to write, Chickpea. Because it will sound as if I don't understand how hard this is. But I do.
    Dear ChickPea. Nobody should cross your threshold against your will. You know this. You have the option of denying her entry.

    What can I write to you that will help?
    Her expectations may be running the show now, but they don't have to.

    Until you set boundaries and maintain them you will be at your daughter's mercy.

    What is the status now of custody? Is this your fear? That she will seize the baby? If she has legal rights this will continue until either you get legal rights, or stop her from terrorizing you. I don't believe she will stop, unless you stop her, or Child Protective Services does. Rather, she will escalate, as she is doing.

    There is no black and white until you make it so.

    You deserve emotional safety. You deserve to have boundaries in your home and around your person. Physical boundaries and emotional ones. The baby does too.

    What do you want to happen? How can we support you?
     
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    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  3. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, Chickpea. I don't understand how hard it is, but I do have friends with grandchildren and I've seen their joy, and I realize they are in a whole different situation from what we would face, if our son fathered a child. I'm so grateful he hasn't (yet, that I know of), because I know we would face many of the issues you are facing.

    Perhaps your daughter is seeking some of the power and/or respect that comes with her role as mother, even though she isn't doing any of the hard lifting that comes with parenting. Our culture honors mothers (at least most of us do, most of the time...not so much around here HAHA). Maybe she expects some of that as her due, or hopes to somehow retain it.

    In many ways you ARE at her mercy, because she IS holding you hostage when she has the baby in her arms. I don't know how you can change that dynamic, when she is being mean and cold and rude and unreasonable.

    Lord knows you are doing enough already and this shouldn't fall on you and your husband too...but do YOU think there are ways to change the dynamic?
     
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  4. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I am not sure what the legal Situation around the baby is. If you are caregiver , I don't understand how your D leaves with the baby, but I agree with what has been said about boundaries .
     
  5. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    I know you said you are afraid to go for legal custody, and both parents would need to be found unfit by a Judge in court. But if she retains legal custody she can run off and take the baby to another country if she likes. Not saying she will, but she has that authority. She has the power. You have none. She never has to let you see that baby. We don't see our grandson as Kay is furious at us. It is very hurtful.

    We have looked into this because our daughter is not a good mother and may lose custody one day.

    God bless you!!!
     
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  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Dear Chickpea

    Your daughter is a marauder. I just looked this word up.

    One who roams from place to place making attacks and raids in search of plunder.

    A marauder is like a pirate, an outlaw, a buccaneer. Somebody who lives outside of the law, and raids. Crosses boundaries, looks for weakness and disadvantage, and terrorizes.

    The question is: What is her booty? What does she seek? What is her plunder?

    She represents sometimes that she wants the baby. (For a visit, for a specific result that she wants, like the apartment.) But does she really? It sounds like she wants the prestige, privileges and power that the baby brings, but has no interest at all (or ability) to deal with the responsibilities of a real baby.

    You are terrified because your daughter chooses to terrify you. This is her MO. This is her aim. She wants to destabilize you and your household because this is how she achieves her power.

    Rapid attack, out of nowhere. Overthrowing rules and mocking them and mocking you. She will continue to up her game. Because this is her game. The baby to her is only a pawn, a chit, an instrument.

    I feel terrified even writing this. I can't imagine how it feels to be you. You matter here. Albatross put it better than I do, do you think there are measures that you can take to protect yourselves and the baby? This is the central question here. What do you see as your options?

    Would there be some incentives you could give your daughter where she would voluntarily give you legal custody?

    I don't think anybody could or should live in a situation where they feel helpless to protect themselves from attack, from violation. That is where you find yourselves, it seems, based upon your posts. The feelings you feel are the logical and unavoidable consequence of what your daughter is doing to you. Nobody would feel differently, in your situation. Given this is the case, what are your options? There are options. They might not be perfect or what you desire, but there are choices here.

    Right now you are choosing to pay the bounty. To let her invade when she wants, to terrify you and to dominate. Anybody could understand why you accept this. But her demands are worse and worse. Harder and harder. She is coming into your secure sanctuary. She is wanting to dominate where you live. How much more of this can you stand?

    What can you do to make her stop? That is the question.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  7. ChickPea

    ChickPea Member

    Custody status is my daughter has 100% and we are co-guardians. It is very difficult to gain legal rights if you are not the biological parent in our state, but we are in the process of retaining legal counsel to see if there is any hope.

    Maybe I fear what will happen or escalate if we set more solid boundaries, and what that will push her to do... if our grandchild will be terrorized in the process. That might be part of it. I know that is something that needs to happen, even if it feels unnatural. Easy to see as a no-brainer, harder to apply to real life.

    It was her decision to have baby live with us for his best interests and for his safety from their toxic relationship. Literally one of the BEST decisions she has ever made. We all know that he's better off here right now, but my daughter can't remember that he's better off without seeing her sometimes. I think that's been the most difficult boundary to place.


    I think only a custody placement would change it right now. And I think you're correct about the mother respect. It's hard for her to see him prefer me for comfort.
     
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  8. ChickPea

    ChickPea Member

    Boy did you hit the nail on the head!
    Yes, this has been her "role" for years.

    It's like I have my files organized and she keeps coming in and hiding them, throwing them around, discombobulating them so I can't find them. Obfuscating. I keep putting them back, she keeps messing them up. I can't gain footing. That's how I feel at least.

    In the last couple of years we had gotten much better, and to a place where I felt like we were digging out of years of turmoil. But then the grandchild has come into play and introduced another element. I guess that's what brought me back here. Setting boundaries for myself seems normal (now), but aligning them with how and when she sees her child is my difficulty.

    I meet with a lawyer next week. I feel like we need mediation, but I can't imagine anyone that would be experienced enough to handle it.

    Thanks for the food for thought all. The two lawyers that I've talked to both told us we are in limbo, and it would probably be that way for a couple years. They just don't understand (or know) the full situation. It's not that simple.
     
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  9. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    She's holding you hostage with the baby because she knows your greatest fear is that she will take him. She's using him to manipulate you and you can't let her. My advice: keep a journal of everything she does good or bad, set and enforce boundaries with her. If she takes the baby when you enforce the boundaries call the police if she is high or unstable. If she is neither of these call CPS and they will open a case and determine the best place for the baby. I know it is hard and scary, but you must do these things for your own sake and for the sake of the child. If you keep track of her behaviors, how much she visits the baby, what she buys for the baby, etc. this will help your custody case. She is likely not supporting him at all financially and if she can't provide basics- food, shelter, clothing, medical care- she can't retain custody. Also, keep track of everything you do- what you purchase for the baby, if you take him to medical appointments, etc. You have to step back and look at the situation objectively. Think about what you would tell someone else who is going through the same situation you are, then you must do that. Just because she's your daughter doesn't change anything. She has to respect you and live by the boundaries you set. Good luck!
     
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  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I like everything that Eliza writes. I think if you do these things, every single thing she writes, the recordkeeping, the boundaries, the police, the CPS, you will feel more power and less fear. I know that you are afraid. That you feel that she holds the power. But that is a feeling *as well as a fact. She needs to understand and accept that her behavior has consequences. There are risks for her too. If she pushes the limits, she risks losing her baby altogether.

    She made one good choice, giving you joint guardianship. That means she is capable of making other choices in her interest and that of her child. There has to be on your part, I think, the effort to engage with her on this level. The expectation that she will decide and act responsibly. Right now, your very reasonable expectation is that she will act poorly, badly, irresponsibly--without consideration or care. By setting boundaries with consequences, you invert that. You expect her to be reasonable and responsible. If she is not, it is unacceptable.

    This will take courage and resolve. You will be afraid. I would be too. But you are afraid now. And this way is not working. She is rewarded by bad behavior. This is why she is doing worse and worse things, without stop....

    I don't know if the correct thing to do is wait for a mediator or not. Or wait to see and discuss this with the lawyer or not. But there have to be ground rules for her. Right now it is 100 percent your responsibility with zero accountability for her. In turn for your responsibility she can take over your home, household, emotional lives, sense of integrity and everything else. This is wrong on so many levels.

    I would try to think of some basic needs for you, for your home, for your family, with the baby. That are inviolable. And I would think about, in advance, what you will do if each of these are breached. Maybe use this thread or another to hash them out with us. Maybe, if you want, you can discuss it with the attorney.

    You do have power here. And she does have responsibility. The question is how to put this in place.
     
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  11. Chasejazz

    Chasejazz Member

    I wrote that weekends are the worst.
    I'm not quite sure why. For some reason I feel like I'm going to get leveled in a sneak attack. Weird!

    As far as your daughter, I don't know.
    My kids act like they want to punish me.
    They hurt themselves with their choices, and try to bring me into it the tiniest of bits so they can dump the blame of their failures on me.
    Failed marriages. Bankruptcies. Lost apartments and cars. You name it.
    The anger, the arguments were outlandish.
    I used to cry openly, I would sob, and they would leave just the room or the house as if victorious.
    There is not, for me, a surefire way to start rebuilding.
    But I have to start by totally letting go.
    I am divorced and poured my life into my family for nearly 40 years, so there is a lot of living for me to learn.
    It's lonely right now, but perhaps not forever, and at least it's safe.

    I hope you find peace.

    "...Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation." - Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
     
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  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I don't see how a mediator will help if one party does not negotiate in good faith, feel that she is responsible to make and meet commitments and does not hold herself responsible to meet normal and expected boundaries.

    Yet, I think any experienced mediator could do this. She is not hard to understand. It is just that you are cowed and afraid of her. You feel she has got all of the power, because she has taken it. Oh wow. I'm so mad at her.

    The key to any agreement will be limits and boundaries and expectations and consequences, What will happen if she does not hold to them. I mean, serious consequences. Like the agreement that she will forfeit legal custody (if that's doable in your state.) Because if she does not follow through and adhere to agreements with respect to her child with you...how is it reasonable to expect that she will do so if she is solely responsible?

    I would not enter mediation with her unless there are real teeth to an agreement. What would you have to gain? You are complying with all of your responsibilities. Why give her standing if she's acting so badly?

    You matter here. Not just your grandson. Not just your daughter. You. That's what worries me here. She needs to begin to respect you, your life and your home, and to think about the welfare of her child. If she abuses you too badly, who ultimately is she hurting? She's hurting her child, and herself. How foolish she is, or out of control. She risks killing the goose who is laying the golden eggs.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  13. ChickPea

    ChickPea Member

    Ack. Kind of teary here. I don't know why it is so hard to kind of take your own advice (as someone said I should look at what I'd tell a friend in the same situation), but... alas it is. Thank you all for being candid, thoughtful, and supportive.

    We have been keeping track of things, thank goodness. I write short notes in my journal, just to make sure I can keep things straight with the chaos. Fantastic recommendation.

    Yesterday we met her on neutral grounds and talked and I did explain to her that this wasn't working for me, that we could turn him over to her (and she would likely be found unfit), or we could continue supporting her in keeping him safe and allowing her the time she needed to get her stuff together. I told her that I need to be able to work a few hours substituting this week, and I don't need her to question it or stop by or stir things up for me.

    She knows it is not reasonable to think that she could fully care for him right now.

    She responded with "I want to see my child, I don't care about you." But today she didn't come by. Today was OK. We will see how the rest of the week goes.

    I need some progress from her, some normalcy in my own life. If she violates this request (to allow me to call some shots and make my own decisions), I do need to come back with something. Not sure what that will be right now.

    Excellent point. Yes, this is very true. I need to explain this to her again and again. She thinks we're against her and trusts no one. I think that's the alcohol/pot/coke talking.
     
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  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Gosh. Your great love for her oozes out here. Your appreciation of her vulnerability. In spite of how she treats you. Oh how I hope that she is someday able to see what a great gift you are giving her and your grandson. I admire you so very much. I feel like I've been hard on you. I don't mean it. It's just that I feel your pain, and the little bit I feel, I can't stand!!
     
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  15. Chasejazz

    Chasejazz Member

    Those days when your heart is breaking.

    My therapist told me that I'm not broken, just fragile.

    I think we all are in here. Fragile.

    I hope you can get rest, ChickPea.
    The sun will rise tomorrow.
    We will see what it brings.
    Goodnight and hugs.
     
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  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This was such a brilliant and kind way to handle it, by telling her the truth. Now I'm, starting to feel bad for her.

    She must know. The comment about she doesn't care about you, she just wants to see her baby. There's so much pain in that. I can see why you're holding back. She's your girl. Oh. How hard this is.

    Tell us about your grandson. I bet he's adorable.
     
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  17. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    CP..
    I don't know a lot about this matter but maybe when meeting with the lawyers there could be some boundaries set up for your mental health and well being. Could it be possible that it is at least stipulated that when your daughter meets up with her son that it is with a "third party" and not in your home and scheduled times? From my point of view that is part of what violates your "space". You are not only dealing with whatever personality/mood/irritation she is feeling when she pops in but you're also dealing with her taking charge of your home-your boundaries. If she was to meet with a third party it would remove you from whatever she is going through that day and also as mentioned if not in your home also disconnects you further for your own healing and well-being. It would allow you to detach a bit more. Detachment is not necessarily a boundary to keep others out but rather it allows "us" to realize what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for us.

    I'm wondering if maybe a lot of what your daughter exhibits is similar to what I know an alcoholic exhibits (even when they get sober). There's a lot of guilt, anger and grief. Anger can show it's ugly face in a lot of different ways. It could likely be when your daughter is like this that she is really grieving for herself (similar to how most of us have to grieve the loss of what we hoped would have been with our Adult Children who are addicted, mentally ill and/or both) and she's dissapointed in herself but tries to divert her feelings by creating chaos ..similar to the alcoholic with her bad mood, bad temper etc.

    I'm not sure if this helps but I'll pray some kind of healthy boundaries can be set up for you.
     
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  18. ChickPea

    ChickPea Member

    You're sweet. And don't worry about being hard on me. I appreciate all thoughts and feedback. It's all good. ❤️

    He is awesome and very loved! He's doing everything a baby should be doing; a very extremely happy child (happier than my own were, I think). Which makes it all more bittersweet, I guess.

    Yes, it helps, thank you. As much as I feel like having a catfight with her, or shunning her, or ignoring her... I do love her, and I do think that somewhere in there is a good person. I'm not sure if she has the capability to dig inside and find that person now or possibly ever, however. She has been so stuck in her criminal, pathological thinking and substance abuse (since she was early teens) that I do believe it would take her some very intense behavioral counseling, drugs, and hard(hardhard) work on her part to be able to remain steady and productive without terrorizing the people around her.

    You are right - she diverts the extreme pain she is having. When she's in a moment of lucidity, she tells me her regrets, and she admits her mind is a tangled mash of issues and thoughts she'd rather not think about. Her poor choices have left a lot of scars on herself and the people around her, however. And she continues with those choices. But the other great spans of time are filled with trickery, diversions, blabla... and they are horrifically toxic to the people around her and agonizingly unbearable.

    Very sad.

    When she was pregnant, she was sober for the most part, and was more enjoyable to be around. I had a bit of hope (or I tricked myself into hoping, don't know). But she still exhibited similar behaviors (dry drunk).

    You guys are reminding me that I can not change her behaviors, predict the future, or change the past. I can only set my own boundaries and control my own actions in the here and now. I very much appreciate that. I just pray and hope that this little person is put in the position to have the best chance in having a good life.
     
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  19. DaisyC1234

    DaisyC1234 New Member

    I really love this ! I wrote it on a post it note and keep it in my purse.
     
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  20. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Addiction will do that to a person: they will run on a hundred fears, self-delusion, self-centeredness, and self-pity. Alcoholics/addicts , wet or dry, will employ cognitive distortions and act out with irritability, restlessness, and discontedness. It's also amazing what the 12 steps can do, the change they can bring to a person once the drug induced fog lifts and the program starts to take hold .I pray that your daughter will find Recovery.
     
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