If there is someone that would be my friend...I would be grateful.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
When you folks speak about detaching, it is hard for me to understand what that would be.

@recoveringenabler has posted the following at the top of the Parent Emeritus forum. I have copied it here for you.
I suggest you print it out and study it as there is a lot of information here but it's good information.

What is detachment?
Detachment is the:
* Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves.
* Holding back from the need to rescue, save or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional or irrational.
* Giving another person "the space" to be herself.
* Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people.
* Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place or thing.
* 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.
* Establishing of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence.
* Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering.
* Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing or controlling.
* Placing of all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life.
* 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.
* Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them.
* Ability to allow people to be who they "really are" rather than who you "want them to be."
* Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.

What are the negative effects not detaching?
If you are unable to detach from people, places or things, then you:
* Will have people, places or things which become over-dependent on you.
* Run the risk of being manipulated to do things for people, at places or with things which you do not really want to do.
* Can become an obsessive "fix it" who needs to fix everything you perceive to be imperfect.
* Run the risk of performing tasks because of the intimidation you experience from people, places or things.
* Will most probably become powerless in the face of the demands of the people, places or things whom you have given the power to control you.
* Will be blind to the reality that the people, places or things which control you are the uncontrollables and unchangeables you need to let go of if you are to become a fully healthy, coping individual.
* Will be easily influenced by the perception of helplessness which these people, places or things project.
* Might become caught up with your idealistic need to make everything perfect for people, places or things important to you even if it means your own life becomes unhealthy.
* Run the risk of becoming out of control of yourself and experience greater low self-esteem as a result.
* Will most probably put off making a decision and following through on it, if you rationally recognize your relationship with a person, place or thing is unhealthy and the only recourse left is to get out of the relationship.
* Will be so driven by guilt and emotional dependence that the sickness in the relationship will worsen.
* Run the risk of losing your autonomy and independence and derive your value or worth solely from the unhealthy relationship you continue in with the unhealthy person, place or thing.

How is detachment a control issue?
Detachment is a control issue because:
* It is a way of de-powering the external "locus of control" issues in your life and a way to strengthen your internal "locus of control."
* If you are not able to detach emotionally or physically from a person, place or thing, then you are either profoundly under its control or it is under your control.
* The ability to "keep distance" emotionally or physically requires self-control and the inability to do so is a sign that you are "out of control."
* If you are not able to detach from another person, place or thing, you might be powerless over this behavior which is beyond your personal control.
* You might be mesmerized, brainwashed or psychically in a trance when you are in the presence of someone from whom you cannot detach.
* You might feel intimidated or coerced to stay deeply attached with someone for fear of great harm to yourself or that person if you don't remain so deeply involved.
* You might be an addicted caretaker, fixer or rescuer who cannot let go of a person, place or thing you believe cannot care for itself.
* You might be so manipulated by another's con, "helplessness," overdependency or "hooks" that you cannot leave them to solve their own problems.
* If you do not detach from people, places or things, you could be so busy trying to "control" them that you completely divert your attention from yourself and your own needs.
* By being "selfless" and "centered" on other people, you are really a controller trying to fix them to meet the image of your ideal for them.
* Although you will still have feelings for those persons, places and things from which you have become detached, you will have given them the freedom to become what they will be on their own merit, power, control and responsibility.
* It allows every person, place or thing with which you become involved to feel the sense of personal responsibility to become a unique, independent and autonomous being with no fear of retribution or rebuke if they don't please you by what they become.

What irrational thinking leads to an inability to detach?
* If you should stop being involved, what will they do without you?
* They need you and that is enough to justify your continued involvement.
* What if they commit suicide because of your detachment? You must stay involved to avoid this.
* You would feel so guilty if anything bad should happen to them after you reduced your involvement with them.
* They are absolutely dependent on you at this point and to back off now would be a crime.
* You need them as much as they need you.
* You can't control yourself because everyday you promise yourself "today is the day" you will detach your feelings but you feel driven to them and their needs.
* They have so many problems, they need you.
* Being detached seems so cold and aloof. You can't be that way when you love and care for a person. It's either 100 percent all the way or no way at all.
* If you should let go of this relationship too soon, the other might change to be like the fantasy or dream you want them to be.
* How can being detached from them help them? It seems like you should do more to help them.
* Detachment sounds so final. It sounds so distant and non-reachable. You could never allow yourself to have a relationship where there is so much emotional distance between you and others. It seems so unnatural.
* You never want anybody in a relationship to be emotionally detached from you so why would you think it a good thing to do for others?
* The family that plays together stays together. It's all for one and one for all. Never do anything without including the significant others in your life.
* If one hurts in the system, we all hurt. You do not have a good relationship with others unless you share in their pain, hurt, suffering, problems and troubles.
* When they are in "trouble," how can you ignore their "pleas" for help? It seems cruel and inhuman.
* When you see people in trouble, confused and hurting, you must always get involved and try to help them solve the problems.
* When you meet people who are "helpless," you must step in to give them assistance, advice, support and direction.
* You should never question the costs, be they material, emotional or physical, when another is in dire need of help.
* You would rather forgo all the pleasures of this world in order to assist others to be happy and successful.
* You can never "give too much" when it comes to providing emotional support, comforting and care of those whom you love and cherish.
* No matter how badly your loved ones hurt and abuse you, you must always be forgiving and continue to extend your hand in help and support.
* Tough love is a cruel, inhuman and anti-loving philosophy of dealing with the troubled people in our lives and you should instead love them more when they are in trouble since "love" is the answer to all problems.

Read more: http://www.conductdisorders.com/community/threads/article-on-detachment.53639/#ixzz3XEgQWhtM
 
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ForeverSpring

Well-Known Member
Well, I can't beat the post above mine, no way. RE has it down pat. But I will put in my .02 and you can take it or leave it. Maybe something in it strikes a chord, maybe not.

Detaching to me is to distance yourself from the drama...of ANY toxic person, and yes that can be a beloved son, a mother, a sisster, a brother, a once dear friend...you don't help them by playing into their drama or games or by trying to fix adults. You learn to emotionally detach by stopping the obessing for one. No FB spying :) You don't pay the bills for an adult. That is also detaching and making your grown child grow up. Most adults do not have daddy and mommy paying for their toys or their mortgage or rent or anything...most adults want to BE adults. Some need a push. This is helpful to them, not hurtful. You also probably need therapy to help you learn how to cope with your adult child's decision not to do life your way. The truth is, our adult children do not have to adapt our values, morals, religions, social norms or be like us in any way. It is their choice. If something is intolerable to you, you set down a boundary.

"You may not visit my house with anything illegal on you or when you are high or I will not let you in."

"If you steal, I will call the police so please don't let that happen because I'd hate to do it. But I would."

"If you are rude to me, I will not read your texts or talk to you on the phone. I will gently hang up or leave my phone in a drawer and we can try again another time when you are calmer."

Setting boundaries is often seen as controlling by the person who is actually trying hard to control YOU. But it's protecting yourself. And you have to. No matter what happens to your son, you are still here, a seperate person with other loved ones who care a lot about your well being, and you should care about your well being too.

I found it helps (and I am going through a different type of family detachmnet now) to stay busy and do fun things and listen to crazy old music and talk to my loving spouse and to just get my mind off of it. Is it possible? YES!!!! But you have to make sure you keep yourself busy and not go back to spying or obsessing over yoru child. The fact is, HE is the only one who can change himself and sometimes our adult children DO change when WE stop enabling them. It happened to my precious, beloved daughter who once did drugs. I detached...she quit. Not even cigarettes anymore. A great mther. Yes, it can happen to your son. Do I know for sure? Nobody can predict the future of our children. The seemingly very best of them can have life changing things halppen to them. We only have now. The past is over. The future is yet to come. Living in the present is really nice and easy to do once you practice. It is called Mindfulness. I highly recommend reading up on it. Right now, dring this difficult time for me (and it has been difficult) I am focusing on my homey apartment, the lavender incense (no, I don't smoke pot...lol), my furry, loving doggies, my husbands arms, the music in the background, friendly phone calls from two of my kids, Skyping my granddaughter...what is happening IN THE NOW.
Now is all we have.

Many of us have had to do the walk of detachment, some of us have detached from many people successfully and have good lives. Sometimes detachment no longer is necessary too, especially with adult kids. It is always more peaceful when you focus on the present instead of fretting over the past (which can't be changed) and the future (which we ca't predict). I do think about hte past a lot and how I got to where I am today, but when I am having trouble in my life and negative thinking, I try hard to not go back there. It doesn't bother me when I am doing well, but it can when I'm not. Try to stay HERE. You can't even begin to know what the future will hold. Life is full of some wonderful surprises if we go with the flow. I never expected my life to be so darn drama-free, peaceful, and happy, yet it is. Yours can be too in time. .

We are here for you when you fall. 24/7. 365 days a year.

Hang tough. This is a bad time for you, but you can learn how to deal with it. Please get therapy ASAP!!! Hugs!!!
 
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Isla

New Member
I can admit that I wish I had a child who loved me.

Isla, where does all the love go, now? It is like an energy, a force that has no place to go, or does it? Is that part of the healing? By airing and showing the wounds and damage and loving each other's sorrowful heart's ....we heal ourselves?

Big hugs sent across the ocean to you, Isla, from Susan.
Hi Susan, I wish I could make sense of all of it and I guess that's the problem, trying to rationalise the irrational. Where does the love go? Nowhere I suspect. You keep loving, you just don't express it in trying to make things different from how they are, but that's not helpful is it. I guess also expressing the sorrow in our hearts to those who have felt the same sorrow, won't alone heal us.
I can admit that I wish I had a child who loved me.

Isla, where does all the love go, now? It is like an energy, a force that has no place to go, or does it? Is that part of the healing? By airing and showing the wounds and damage and loving each other's sorrowful heart's ....we heal ourselves?

Big hugs sent across the ocean to you, Isla, from Susan.

Do you recall the feeling you had the very first time you saw your son? I was only 21 when my daughter was born and that magical experience of feeling "pure love" took me by surprise. I had never felt so alive, I could not believe anyone could feel such a bond. It was more natural than breathing, it woke me up "spiritually". I knew my life purpose was to devote my life to my daughter and do everything humanly possible to give her all the tools, and gentle guidance to help her discover her full potential. I did not want her to be a "little me", I wanted her to become all SHE could be. I knew innately I was meant to love her unconditionally (I read a lot of M Scott-Peck and Gerry Jampolski in those days). The thing is I just had not considered that I had actually placed "conditions" on that unconditional love. What I had wished for would turn out (at least for now) to be far from MY ideal for her.

My daughter has asked me so many times to be out of her life. She would never give me a reason so I stopped reasoning. The day I honoured her wish was the day I realised how much I truly do love her. I struggle with it every day, but deep down inside I know I am doing the right thing by her. It's not comfortable though is it?

It seems likely my granddaughter will also no longer be the huge part of my life that she has been, and I must say I find that possibility unbearable. Where do I put that love? When I think of the moments which touched my soul. The best protection is to train my brain not to allow my mind to get too carried away and the hardest lesson of all is accepting, what will be, will be.

Søren Kierkegaard's quote has always rung true to me, that being; "Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward"


 
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Isla

New Member
There is real freedom in detaching, in letting go. It's an awkward feeling at first but little by little as you detach more and more you start to find yourself again and that is a good place to be

:beautifulthing:The good times will stay in our hearts forever and we are so blessed to have known that very special mother's love
 

Isla

New Member
Well, I can't beat the post above mine, no way. RE has it down pat. But I will put in my .02 and you can take it or leave it. Maybe something in it strikes a chord, maybe not.

Detaching to me is to distance yourself from the drama...of ANY toxic person, and yes that can be a beloved son, a mother, a sisster, a brother, a once dear friend...you don't help them by playing into their drama or games or by trying to fix adults. You learn to emotionally detach by stopping the obessing for one. No FB spying :) You don't pay the bills for an adult. That is also detaching and making your grown child grow up. Most adults do not have daddy and mommy paying for their toys or their mortgage or rent or anything...most adults want to BE adults. Some need a push. This is helpful to them, not hurtful. You also probably need therapy to help you learn how to cope with your adult child's decision not to do life your way. The truth is, our adult children do not have to adapt our values, morals, religions, social norms or be like us in any way. It is their choice. If something is intolerable to you, you set down a boundary.

"You may not visit my house with anything illegal on you or when you are high or I will not let you in."

"If you steal, I will call the police so please don't let that happen because I'd hate to do it. But I would."

"If you are rude to me, I will not read your texts or talk to you on the phone. I will gently hang up or leave my phone in a drawer and we can try again another time when you are calmer."

Setting boundaries is often seen as controlling by the person who is actually trying hard to control YOU. But it's protecting yourself. And you have to. No matter what happens to your son, you are still here, a seperate person with other loved ones who care a lot about your well being, and you should care about your well being too.

I found it helps (and I am going through a different type of family detachmnet now) to stay busy and do fun things and listen to crazy old music and talk to my loving spouse and to just get my mind off of it. Is it possible? YES!!!! But you have to make sure you keep yourself busy and not go back to spying or obsessing over yoru child. The fact is, HE is the only one who can change himself and sometimes our adult children DO change when WE stop enabling them. It happened to my precious, beloved daughter who once did drugs. I detached...she quit. Not even cigarettes anymore. A great mther. Yes, it can happen to your son. Do I know for sure? Nobody can predict the future of our children. The seemingly very best of them can have life changing things halppen to them. We only have now. The past is over. The future is yet to come. Living in the present is really nice and easy to do once you practice. It is called Mindfulness. I highly recommend reading up on it. Right now, dring this difficult time for me (and it has been difficult) I am focusing on my homey apartment, the lavender incense (no, I don't smoke pot...lol), my furry, loving doggies, my husbands arms, the music in the background, friendly phone calls from two of my kids, Skyping my granddaughter...what is happening IN THE NOW.
Now is all we have.

Many of us have had to do the walk of detachment, some of us have detached from many people successfully and have good lives. Sometimes detachment no longer is necessary too, especially with adult kids. It is always more peaceful when you focus on the present instead of fretting over the past (which can't be changed) and the future (which we ca't predict). I do think about hte past a lot and how I got to where I am today, but when I am having trouble in my life and negative thinking, I try hard to not go back there. It doesn't bother me when I am doing well, but it can when I'm not. Try to stay HERE. You can't even begin to know what the future will hold. Life is full of some wonderful surprises if we go with the flow. I never expected my life to be so darn drama-free, peaceful, and happy, yet it is. Yours can be too in time. .

We are here for you when you fall. 24/7. 365 days a year.

Hang tough. This is a bad time for you, but you can learn how to deal with it. Please get therapy ASAP!!! Hugs!!!

:youreright:I just LOVE what you wrote!!! Distance yourself from the drama, have enough sense of self respect to set boundaries (YOU ARE SOOOO RIGHT!!) live in the Now, it's the only reality, the past has gone the future is the next Now. Keep busy, live, love, enjoy life. We're here to experience, why not experience all the abundance on offer, have gratitude for all that is and not be dragged down by those who can't or won't see it. Love to you SomewhereOutThere - HUGS!
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Cedar,
Again I read your beautifully wise words and felt such peace. Thank you.
Susan

We are having a good, long look at every one of those questions, here on the site, Copacabana.

You are here with us, now. This is a good, safe place to heal and to question and grow. For starters, please read the article on detachment pinned to the top of the Parent Emeritus page.

It is true that, in the beginning, to live with joy and gratitude and intent is impossible when someone we love is self-destructing. Over time, as we acknowledge the pain and the endless, almost sacred horror of the paths our kids are on, we come to a point when we make a choice ~ a cold, hard choice ~ to reclaim our lives, to celebrate all that we do have and to feel gratitude for all of it, right in the face of what feels like failure.

It is what it is.

We begin to see that nothing we have done, and no amount of suffering, has changed anything for our kids.

I am so sorry this is happening to you, and to your son.

This helped me:

I learned, here on the site, that genetics seems to play a bigger part in what is happening to our children than parenting.

I heard so much about enabling I wanted to throw up.

Seriously.

But then, one day, I could see what they meant. I began to see how we all had been twisted over the time of the kids' troubles. Once I could see it, I could address it.

That is the key.

There is nothing you have to do but read along with us and post and heal.

I think we begin healing by reclaiming our own breath, our own silence, just for a few minutes at a time.

If we can do that, then we can remember what it is to feel happy, and to be present.

Then, let that quiet spread into the rest of your life.

To sit quietly while the sun rises, or to take just a minute to look up at the stars...those are the places where I find that I can be present, places where I can not think or worry, just for those few minutes.

That is a beginning.

And then, just like in that Dr. Seuss book about the places you will go?

Your healing journey will begin, and you life will become your own again, filled with cherishings and laughter and the choice to be kind.

Welcome! I am so happy you found us.

Cedar
 

Childofmine

one day at a time
When you folks speak about detaching, it is hard for me to understand what that would be.

The post we have here that Tanya added above is excellent. I remember reading it over and over again and printing it out when I first got here.

Another tool for learning how to detach is Al-Anon. I first heard the term there: detachment with love.

It's not a cold or angry "thing", or a punitive or miserly attitude. It is simply quietly and calmly taking big giant steps back to our own lives, without fanfare.

We say they don't call us, so good. That is a first tiny step. Instead of worrying and being upset about them not contacting us, we breathe a sigh of relief. This is a blessing in disguise.

And then we use that time---that time when we are not hearing from them---to turn away from the bright focus on them and turn that bright focus onto ourselves.

Gradually, we relax into that space and time when we are able to go for several days...or a week...or two...without hearing from them. We don't know what they are doing, and we hope they are okay, but we just release them to our Higher Power...or to the Universe...or to Mother Nature...and we hope and pray and trust that they will be okay.

We start to understand...and really claim this knowledge..that our best efforts haven't changed anything. We lean into that knowledge instead of trying even harder to change them. We just....finally....accept that our love, our relentless persistence and our knowledge of "what is right even if they don't know what is right" will never get us what we want...which is their wholeness and happiness.

This is a tough one---letting go, really letting go.

Because most of us have never admitted that we can't make something happen. I know I didn't admit that for years. Why would I? That was WHO I was. That was a very foundational part of me. And to admit I couldn't make something happen, particularly something this important...was beyond me for a long long time.

Detachment with love is a process. I am still working on that process. I will work on it for the rest of my life, from all people, places and things. Today I see it very differently. I see it as healthy boundaries, with my difficult child, with my easy child, with my husband, with my friends, with my clients...on and on. I need to give other people the respect and dignity to live their own lives without my interference.

It doesn't mean I don't care deeply and love them dearly. I wish them every good thing in life. I also realize the definition of "every good thing in life" is theirs to write, not mine. And theirs to work for, not mine to work for.

It is a glorious blessing to move into this state of being. It is worth the work, believe me. Today, having just glimpsed parts of what this can really mean, I want more and more of it.
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I met him when he was 22 months old. He was the love of my life.

I understand this.

There is such joy in caring for and living with a child.

It is a wonderful thing, to cherish those times before we knew what was coming. There is strength for us, there. For myself, I believe there is a genetic imperative in moms to mother the child until, in the normal course of events, the "child" finds that confining and rebels. Our difficult child children seem "differently wired" as one of our moms here describes it. The love that was once given so freely is used to manipulate us. If we continue in the same patterns with our differently wired children that other, more fortunate parents can continue with impunity and even, pride, our differently wired children will destroy both them and ourselves.

So, we need to find another way to parent our differently wired kids.

The jury is still out, but detachment parenting seems to encourage the kids to grow into the men and women we raised them to be.

Detachment parenting is more difficult. The concept is counter-intuitive. The feelings that would have poured out into the world, and into our children, as love with a normally developing child now roll back onto us like toxic clouds.

We blame ourselves, and we condemn ourselves. We search so desperately for how to address whatever is happening this time correctly.

None of that works.

There was a mom here with us once whose child beat her to the point she had bleeding in her brain and yet she took him back home. By the time she found this site, that brain bleed was just something she mentioned in passing, because worse things were happening to her, and to her son, by then.

That is why we seem so hard sometimes, here on the site.

Like you, we have been so deeply hurt Copacabana, and have had to become very strong.

We all are doing the best we know.

I cannot disengage. I say this because when I do not know where and how he is I am depressed to the point where I do not leave my bed. I feel as if all of my life has been lived poorly, and that any success I have had, and I have had a great deal of success, means nothing.

This is how I felt, too. When other parents here on the site posted to me, I could not understand what they meant.

Codependent did not resonate with me. It still does not resonate with me. For some of us, that term "codependent" was the term that set us free. Somehow, some of us have seen ourselves and our children there.

I don't.

That is my child.

Period.

Anyone may call me any name that they like.

Show me the beef, as they say. Show me something that works, and I will consider any term you like.

Detachment parenting helps me. It seems to be helping my children and grands. But the jury is still out.

I see the pride my friends take in their children. I see the way they love themselves more, think more highly of themselves, because their children are successful.

That is what moms do.

But our children are self-destructing, Copacabana. Continuing to mother them as though it were not dangerous, to them, and to us, can kill us.

I can admit that I wish I had a child who loved me.

This is the secret hurt, the thing impossible to believe, in my own heart, too.

Ouch.

I conclude that whether they love me or not doesn't matter. I am their mother. (Or, their grandmother.) I will behave toward them and myself in the best way I know or can learn. Again, detachment parenting, for our ill or addicted kids, seems to make them stronger, more self reliant.

So I am right on board with that.

If I need a hit of mother love, I remember what we had when they were my children, before these terrible things happened to all of us.

And that makes me happy, to think about those times. And it makes me very sad, too.

It is what it is.

I have learned to take my happiness where I find it and to be grateful I have anything, at all.

That is how bad this has been.

Isla, where does all the love go, now? It is like an energy, a force that has no place to go, or does it? Is that part of the healing? By airing and showing the wounds and damage and loving each other's sorrowful heart's ....we heal ourselves?

Like any powerful force, the love is there, unchanged. In it's power, it can destroy both us and our children.

That is how I see it.

I needed to learn a different way of interacting with my kids because what I was doing was not working. This is what I learned: It is not that I was doing anything that was wrong or that was right. It is the situation that is bad. Not the child. Not the parent.

And yet, like any energy, the power that is love can turn destructive, can be twisted into an ugly parody of itself.

I think that is where I am in my story, as I try to make sense of what happened to all of us. I find myself thinking "Ours is an ugly story."

And it undeniably is.

But it is our story.

We will, or we will fail to, find a way to celebrate our lives though that is the truth at the heart of things.

I am so sorry this happened to you, too.

The truth is, our adult children do not have to adapt our values, morals, religions, social norms or be like us in any way. It is their choice. If something is intolerable to you, you set down a boundary.

This comforts me.

It addresses the shame we might feel in what the kids do.

Good one, SOT.

The fact is, HE is the only one who can change himself and sometimes our adult children DO change when WE stop enabling them.

True.

And it was when I realized that that I changed the way I interacted with my kids. And it was so freaking hard, Copacabana. The guilt and shame of it, of not helping, the horrible consequences that sure enough did happen ~ ew.

But today, things are better.

It worked, for me to tell the kids they could do it, they are strong enough, that I love and believe in them that much.

I said the words detachment parenting, and they hated it and I hated it more but I had this site, and we got me through it.

And things are better, today.

So, here is how I see it: For my children's sakes, I can not ever slip back in to being that mom I always wanted to be. If I love them, the right way to love them looks just like this.

And they are getting stronger.

And all I can know to comfort myself when people judge me, or when something bad happens and I don't do the expected things, or even when the kids judge me, is to remember that loving them the way that made me happy did not help the kids.

I am glad, for those who judge me, that they have not been where I have been, and that they do not know what I know.

It is very lonely, to be this kind of mom.

But I will not go back to the other way of loving them.

With all my heart, I will try not to do that.

Here is a story for you, Copacabana. There was a mom on our site who put her addicted child onto the streets. She stuck to her guns...and her son was killed.

The woman had another child.

A son.

He began using. He developed an addiction.

She put him out, too.

She got it on so deep a level that we cannot do the work of recovery for them. We love them too much to see them suffer. What happens is that we begin enabling, instead. Enabling twists everything and makes it ugly. Somewhere down the line, we find ourselves allowing things we would never have condoned and thinking that is normal.

Addiction is an ugly disease.

It is terminal.

This woman's son lived, Copacabana.

He lived, he got himself cleaned up, and then, and only then, did she take him back in.

She is not here on the site with us, anymore.

But I take such courage from her story, when I waver.

It is not the child that is wrong. It is not the parent. It is the illness, or the addiction, that is wrong. We have to look at that one straight on and commit to finding the best response to our impossibly, unbelievably ugly situations.

Once we do?

We have to figure out how to live with and learn to love ourselves again.

It is very hard.

***

This is getting so long, but there are two other things I would have you know.

The first is a concept Child of Mine gave us. She named it "toolbox". Into our imaginary toolboxes go every helpful thing we know or can learn. Every strengthening thing we run across, every goal, every "I know I can do this." When we are hit by the FOG (another helpful concept, this one from Recovering Enabler) we may not be able to think through the hurt of it, but we can remember our toolbox and go there for strength.

That concept has been invaluable to me. Both concepts, actually. FOG is when we are popped into PTSD mode and literally, cannot think. It is good to name the state of mind when it is happening to us.

Knowing that concept, knowing that those feelings, that shocked numb mindset, will pass, is a survival tool.

The second thing I would suggest for you Copacabana is to find Child of Mine's Highchair Tyrants thread. The concept of suffering is addressed beautifully, there, and of learning how to suffer through what we can learn from the Mary.

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle helped me learn to separate myself from my suffering, to see it as something separate and therefore, survivable.

And this, always this. This is what I learned of love from my children, Copacabana. And if we were able to take the long view, the view it would require immortality to believe in, perhaps there is purpose here somewhere, after all, and we are engaged, with our children, in something indescribably correct.

Or maybe, there is no meaning to any of it but the one we bring.


Cedar
 

Echolette

Well-Known Member
I was able to have my one beautiful son and enjoyed those good years so much and I will always cherish those memories.

Tanya,

I love this. I try to live this way. It helps. I have wonderful memories of my son's childhood. I am grateful for that.

My sister's marriage ended in horrible betrayal and ugly divorce. Yet she says "I was loved. I knew love. I am grateful for that."

Copa,

your suffering is not helping your son. I sometimes think we hope at some level that if we martyr ourselves somehow that will be accepted as an offering by some higher being and that our Difficult Child's will get well.

It doesn't happen that way.

your suffering is not helping your son.

It is hurting you, though, and it is hurting your boyfriend, and it is hurting your community, and it is hurting your work place.

Try the things people are suggesting here. One new thing each day. We know how much you love your son.

oh, my son lived under a bridge too, a mile from my house, on and off for two years. Eventually he got thrown out. By the other bridge dwellers. Really. You can't make this stuff up.

Hugs to you, mama of the hurting heart. We are here for you and for each other.

Echolette
 

magz sara

New Member
My son is 26. He is adopted and I met him when he was 22 months old. He was the love of my life. He had been removed from the care of his birth parents at 2 weeks old...estranged from my family....I needed someone to love.

Yes we had problems along the way, but it was mainly us against the world: to me, it was always the school's fault, not enough support. I did too much for him, I know, and didn't spend enough time insisting that he do chores or do them correctly. As a single mother I was too tired. There was always an excuse.

But there was always so much love and that seemed to be enough until he hit 15 or 16. He became defiant and more moody and withdrawn. There was no serious trouble. But we were no longer pals. By 18 I was having to push him to do everything: go to college, work, job training. If I didn't push, he pretty much did not leave the house. So, I pushed. He completed a nurse's aid training and worked for a year. By that time we had learned he had been born with chronic hepatitis that had been undiagnosed and our struggles became especially intense because I cared so deeply that he follow through with treatment. Along the way, he had a brain injury. I hired a nurse to watch him after his discharge from the hospital, and within a few days he was riding a bike without a helmet.

He left his job he says because he could not adjust to the graveyard shift he had volunteered to do. That was 3 and a half years ago. He had started gossiping about me to the neighbors and I was devastated by his disloyalty. We had little positive interaction between us. When he quit the job, I would not allow him to lay around the house. Eventually I kicked him out...and he went to a homeless shelter.

For more than two years friends of ours in another city gave him a free place to stay, asking for nothing. He worked a little bit, but after he qualified for SSI for mental illness, he did not work at all. He sometimes says he is Bipolar, and other times denies having a mental illness at all. He goes from town to town, looking for places to live cheaply or free. He has been with us off and on the past few months. I kick him out when it gets too bad: he is disrespectful, filthy, lazy. He occupies his time reading about conspiracy theories on the internet or playing his drum. When I kicked him out last month, he slept under a bridge near my house.

I cannot disengage. I say this because when I do not know where and how he is I am depressed to the point where I do not leave my bed. I feel as if all of my life has been lived poorly, and that any success I have had, and I have had a great deal of success, means nothing. I have lived with a very nice boyfriend for 5 plus years. I am happy with him. He is good to me and wants to help my son. I have a very gratifying career, when I work. But I cannot be happy unless my son is safe, secure and functioning. My son is not safe, secure or functioning. Clearly I cannot control what he chooses to do or how he chooses to live. So I am depressed to the point of not allowing myself to live at all.

Last week I decided to enroll in online community college classes so that I could support him to study, to do something productive. He went through the motions but it took me 12 hours a day of pushing him to get him to write a one paragraph entry on the internet. I realized he was using "college" to hang out at my house where it is more comfortable, he can eat all through the night, use the computer, and con me. I blew up and he left the house. He cannot understand why I do not allow him to slough off for 3 days in my house and to just catch up and do all the work in an hour. I quit.

I know he is a man. But, I cannot accept that he live as he does. I know he can choose to live as he wishes. But that he does not live as I need him to live causes me untold grief. That he does not protect his health grieves me to the point of illness. That he does not want more, feels unbearable. I do not know how to live, to go on living....with this situation. Thank you.




It's highly likely he inherited a mental disorder from one or other or both parents. This is set in stone so cannot be changed. What you and many other parents of these dysfunctional children must do to save your sanity is learn about Anti Social Personality Disorder/ Psychopathy. It is the hardest thing in this world to accept that someone you love and have invested so heavily in has in fact been born without a conscience but it happens. (it affects 1:25 of the population). I'll recommend a facebook page called Psychopathfree and also read The Sociopath Next Door by DR Martha Stout.. I will guarantee that by this time next year you will be an expert on this inherited disorder and will save yourself so much grief ..Take care.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Thank you all. Cedar, thank you so much for your care, support, and great wisdom (and Hallelujah). I love that song, and had not heard KD Lang sing it. Sublime. I want to tell you that things are way better (in 3 days...how is this possible?)

My son helped extricate us from the school commitment. I am finding that if I back off, he steps forward--calmer, more of a man, more level headed. He so wants me to calm down. Cedar, I really hear what you are saying. If the love is not working...how can it really be love? My love for so long has been a selfish love, bitter and rage-full that I was not getting what I needed, how I needed it. How loving and maternal is that? Not at all. I will learn to learn to sit quiet, and wait, and take responsibility to meet my own needs. Thank you all.
 
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Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I am finding that if I back off, he steps forward--calmer, more of a man, more level headed.

I am so glad. We found that, too. But because we had enabled for so long, the relationship with our children grew into a twisted thing. There was love there, but it was encrusted with resentment, hard as stone. When you get down to it, the kids' resentment had to do with who they had become, rewarded for begging and hatred and disrespect instead of for standing up to the consequences of their choices and moving through them.

Those were such desperate times, for all of us.

And I think it might be true too that though we resented the money, time, effort, and horrible pain of it, we took a martyr's (again twisted) perpetual victim kind of pleasure in those roles of savior.

Twisted, encrusted with resentment, hard as stone.

It was such a sad and lonely time, so painful. But nothing like what was coming.

Ew.

But see how beautifully we are all coming through it because we were able to see a way out, to find a little emotional wiggle room and a breath of fresh air.

I wonder whether this is true, or whether this is just how I am putting this away. I still feel physically sick when I remember what it was like, going through it.

*

Maybe it is true that, as long as we were there in the background functioning as a safety net no matter how bad it got, the kids' felt they would not be hurt even if they did fall. But that is a very different thing to believe about yourself than believing you are taking your own risks and plotting your own path and that you are strong and wise enough to survive it on your own.

The difference there would be fear; maybe, a twisted version of locus of control, too.

The absolute lack of judgment, the absolute refusal to judge ~ that is part of this healing, too.

I wish, for their sakes and my own, that I'd let them take their consequences the first time. Well, I did do that, at first, when I was stronger. It seemed that as the paths the kids took got more twisted, I lost my strength, somewhere.

I have been a long time coming back.

But at least I am in that emotional head space, now.

Someone well on her way to healing posted once that the pain was like the painting "The Scream". She knew it was there in her heart. But it was not the only thing, there in her heart. It was a simply true thing, something horrifying, and nothing more. I think she described it as a part of her life, but not the defining factor. I have never forgotten that. As I approach a place of balance with all that has happened, I feel myself developing that ability to see it, to see and know fully what happened and how it happened, and to let that be just what it is. I am letting go of a kind of all-encompassing guilt, and of the fear, that fear of inadequacy, that attends it. I know what I did. I am addressing it, now that I know.

I had an abusive childhood too, and intended to be the mother I wish I'd had. Turns out it is the reason behind things that matters more than the action taken, sometimes. There are no purer, more strengthening phrases perhaps, than "I believe in you, You got this, I know you can do this. I love you, and I want to know what happens. I know you can do this."

Maybe I am going to add: "Tell me what you learned."

I am learning how to be quiet, how not to know a darn thing. Because, as it turns out, I don't know.

Letting go of that need to know is amazingly freeing.

Maybe that is what happened to us, to our family, I mean. It seems like that is what happened. Once we could get a toehold on this whole detachment thing, things started getting better for us right away, too.

It was an emotionally healthier place to be, and our hearts and those inside places where we had been so sad began to heal just that quickly.

It was still a hard thing, because I had a thousand reasons why I should help. It turned out that there were real reasons to help ~ real discomforts that we smoothed over for the kids...but it was also true that every time the kids turned to me instead of themselves, and every time I said yes instead of "I believe in you", I was weakening them.

I think that is true. It is easier for me to say "no" now, but it is still a very, very hard thing to not help. It is hard because I need to face my mother down, and I need to face down that terrible fear that I am becoming her when I take an action that seems cruel or manipulative. This mindset makes it hard for me to set and keep standards. When someone needs just about anything, I want to help. I do not want someone to be alone or afraid or ashamed. Again, "You can do this." is beginning to seem like the best response possible for anything that comes up in life.

It is good advice for ourselves, too.

So for me, a big part of healing what was happening to my family was doing the hard work of confronting not just what happened to me, but determinedly barreling through the levels of emotional recovery to a place of integrity.

It is what it is.

That is integrity.

No excuses, and no need of them.

:O)

Cedar
 

blackgnat

Active Member
Cedar, I'm the mom with the bleeding brain-I look back and see that Life was HELL and Home was TORTURE. And I was just so deluded and in profound denial and lost and terrified, that I didn't know which way to turn.
So I let it continue, because I thought my "love" would save us.

What a difficult and heartbreaking journey we go through and what an enormous sacrifice we have to make, to extricate ourselves from this. We get pushed to the point of insanity and have to decide-"It's you or ME, kid, and I can't have it be you anymore". That's possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but his manipulation and bullying and sadism was sending me to an early grave via an overindulgence of alcohol. I just wanted to escape reality, leave my brain on the kitchen counter and run screaming down the street.

Something I will never go back to.

Sorry, I think I highjacked this thread with my ramblings-just saw myself in your comment and wanted to let you know that, like the cockroach after the nuclear holocaust, I'm still around :)
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Sorry, I think I highjacked this thread with my ramblings-just saw myself in your comment and wanted to let you know that, like the cockroach after the nuclear holocaust, I'm still around :)

No one here would ever view you as a cockroach, blackgnat. I am so glad to see you, and to know you are doing well. I think we all learn from whatever direction the threads go.

I am glad you posted in.

I would say butterfly or dragonfly (my personal favorite) not cockroach, blackgnat. You are changing, growing, expanding into someone stronger. Each of us has to exhaust herself before she becomes desperate enough to take the leap into detachment parenting.

Blackgnat?

Know that you are cherished.

I am so pleased you chose to go to Australia.

:O)

What a difficult and heartbreaking journey we go through and what an enormous sacrifice we have to make, to extricate ourselves from this. We get pushed to the point of insanity and have to decide-"It's you or ME, kid, and I can't have it be you anymore". That's possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but his manipulation and bullying and sadism was sending me to an early grave via an overindulgence of alcohol. I just wanted to escape reality, leave my brain on the kitchen counter and run screaming down the street.

I see it a little differently. It isn't so much you or me kid, for me. It is...it's like trusting them with their own lives. It's like believing they can do it. It puts me in a place where I have no value, to turn things over to the kids.

No money. No moving home. No accepting verbal or emotional abuse. (Or physical abuse, for sure.) I can see how that would happen though, blackgnat. My son has pushed those edges with me. The look in his eyes.... I didn't know what to do with it. Not at all. But D H ran his own son right out of here without ever knowing about that time.

He still doesn't know.

What I am saying is that I could have been you, blackgnat.

No shame. Not for you, and not for me.

It is what it is. We did the best we knew and three steps beyond even that. But addiction is an ugly, destructive thing, and our children are caught in it.

Anyway, once I started saying no, things got way worse for a while, there. (D H always said no. But I always said yes. So it was a huge surprise when I started saying no and I meant it.)

But when they foundered and then, found their wings that was their pride, their strength, not mine.

It has been disconcerting to not be the go to mom. Especially disconcerting to me, because of the way I grew up. So, I had to grow through that part.

I think I am doing okay with how to keep going through this. I really am trying very hard to do the hardest thing, to remember to lean in, as Brene Brown writes. A big part of my healing has been to hold an intention of treating myself "kinder". Not kind. That would be a place I could judge myself when I fall back into old patterns of thinking or seeing. Only "kinder".

***

There was a certain kind of payoff in the victim role, in the role of poor me, maybe. It wasn't that way at first. Everything gets all twisted, when we are caught up in enabling. I was relating to my children the best I knew, I was trying really hard to do what was best for them...but I was really relating to the addiction. And that is an ugly thing, addiction.

Ha! I forgot where I was going with this.

In any event, you are a butterfly or a dragonfly blackgnat, not a cockroach.

I got such a kick out of your writing that you wanted to leave your brain on the kitchen counter!

:hugs:

And I was just so deluded and in profound denial and lost and terrified, that I didn't know which way to turn.
So I let it continue, because I thought my "love" would save us.

Me, too. But you know what else I see, for both of us? Courage. Determination. Total commitment.

And I think love still is saving all of us. We cared enough about our children and ourselves to stay open, to keep searching, and to change when we believed there was a valid reason to do so.

How fortunate we have been, to have loved like that.

I am thinking about your comment about love saving our families. I think that is still true. I know a lady who tells this story about group therapy at a rehab facility: One of the people in treatment began blaming his mother for something. It wasn't even anything that bad. The counselor jumped right down that person's throat because once the kids are no longer using, they cannot believe their good fortune in having had parents who continued to love them. The counselor broke the person right there. The person admitted he was using, again.

I have never forgotten that story.

As I am pulling myself back together, I remind myself all the time that it wasn't me who was bad. Even in my enabling, it was not me who was bad. It was not either of my children who were bad.

It was the situation, it was the addiction.

That was the bad thing.

And here we all are, and I am glad you are back. Very happy to know you are doing well, blackgnat.

Cedar
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
It seems as if I am learning how to go through the motions of detachment parenting....but the consensus is that I have not yet given up the habit of surrendering my entire emotional space to my son.

I have surrendered my emotional life to playing out reactions not only to what my son does, decides to do or considers doing, but to a generalized fear, preoccupation, dread, and worry about what he could do, what could happen.

As bad or worse I have yielded my identity to his.

I am trying to go back to dancing and found a good teacher. I found myself wanting to tell him about my son...as if this...more than anything else in my life defines me. No other attribute. No other competency. No other achievement defines me now, except for my son.

As if nothing else defines me except what? The vulnerability of my child. My failing to protect or adequately rear my child.

For a long while after my Mother's death....her life and death defined me. Now my son.

I came home this morning to a message on the machine. I pressed play. The mechanical voice said my mother's name, first and last. For a second I prayed it would be a message from her. (From the grave? What was I thinking?) It was a credit bureau...seeking payment for a debt. My mother's identity and mine, were both stolen at the time of her death.)

Identity theft. My identity has been stolen. I have given it away.

A therapist I talked to asked me if this could be a displacement. That is, am I using this preoccupation with my son in order to avoid dealing with some other concern in my life.

I answered, I believe I would be happy IF NOT FOR THIS. And it is this potential for happiness, so close, that I cannot tolerate. My default in my family is to not claim the space of contentment, enough, satisfaction....because others better need it, or worse still, demand it...and it is my role to give up myself...so that they might live.

I do not know the steps to take from here....so I will play Hallelujah by KD yet again.
 
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recoveringenabler

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Copa, I've been reading along. You've been given beautiful, poignant and very real support......the warrior's are circling their wagons around you.

I identify with everything you've said in this thread......I too have been defined by being the mother of a troubled child.....and before that defined by being the daughter of mentally ill parents.........it's been a life's work to redefine myself. I've had many years of therapy, but the 2 years I spent in a Codependency program, working with a private therapist and a group therapist was what changed everything for me. I look at that now as the codependency part was the root of all of it. My daughter's troubled life brought me there and my own willingness to stop the suffering kept me there and the peace I began to find made me want to continue until I "got it."

Your statement "my default in my family is to not claim the space of contentment, enough, satisfaction.....because others better need it, or worse still, demand it....and it is my role to give up myself.....so that they might live." Well, I could have written that a few years ago. My therapist nailed it when she said to me, "you absorb the deficiencies of others." At my expense, in spades.

To learn how to detach, to find peace, to accept what is, to be in this moment in time and really live it, in my opinion takes work on our part........we have to learn to recognize where our kids end and we begin........there is a clear demarcation mark, we are separate entities, and it is imperative to know that demarcation mark. I had to spend close to 2 years in this program because frankly I was not only tied up in knots around my daughter, but I had a pretty big judgement about anyone who could possibly detach from their own child. That judgement kept me stuck. I had to let that one go. I had to let go of a lot. A whole lot. Codependency is a killer, it takes your life away in bits and pieces.......I feel so fortunate that I found this program, because even though I resisted it to the max in the beginning, even though it meant I had to change, even though I had to give up my false persona of the all giving saint, even though it hurt like the dickens, I was just not willing to suffer anymore, I wanted out and I wanted peace. I became willing to do whatever it took and I did do whatever it took. Now, 3 1/2 years after the darkest times, I am okay. I am thriving. I am peaceful and I have joy.

No one is more surprised than me. If you want to do this thing, than do it. Your intention to change will bring you in the healers, teachers, therapists, courses, books, whatever it is that you need. I made peace of mind my intention. That's what I got. I had to walk through my own "stuff" and surrender to what is.

Here are some books which helped me: The gifts of imperfection by Brene Brown; Comfortable with Uncertainty, Living Beautifully, The places that scare you, & When things fall apart by Pema Chodron; Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and The power of Now and the New Earth by Ekchart Tolle.

This is hard stuff. Be very kind to yourself. We're all here if you need us. You're not alone.
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I am trying to go back to dancing and found a good teacher.

Ballet?

I took ballet lessons for years and years. I love it. I grew strong there, and learned there is integrity in sweat and in effort, and real beauty in strength. This is great! I am so happy for you.

A great place to begin recovering yourself.

Woot!

I found myself wanting to tell him about my son...as if this...more than anything else in my life defines me. No other attribute. No other competency. No other achievement defines me now, except for my son.

That happened to me.

I needed to recreate myself. That is the only way to do it, I think. Create a new competency.

As many times as it takes.

Even volunteering in the Gallery was begun to create a new competency, to create a new, untouched facet of self.

I am so glad to know you have begun this recovery of self. I make it a practice to stay very silent regarding where I have been, in my life. The pain and the shame and the continual fixation stay at home. I post here. Only those who know me very well know about my children.

I do that for myself, so I can be strong.

My failing to protect or adequately rear my child.

I felt that way, too. But as I read here on the site, I was struck by how identically the kids behave once they start using.

That was my first step toward healing the shame of it. I am still dancing around the anger in it, around the betrayal of what has happened. I think it is a good, healthy thing to acknowledge the anger, but I am trying to let go of that.

There is strength in it though, so I am circling that idea of anger and betrayal. My secret plan? Is to take it out on my sister.

:O)

I am serious. If she makes good on her threat to come here and confront me about not taking care of my mother, I am going to...I'm going to do something.

For a long while after my Mother's death....her life and death defined me. Now my son.

Then this is where you begin to work.

Identity theft. My identity has been stolen. I have given it away.

It was a persona you gave away. It is time for you to be real.

A therapist I talked to asked me if this could be a displacement. That is, am I using this preoccupation with my son in order to avoid dealing with some other concern in my life.

Ritual helps me. I made a talisman for my son, and for my mother. The talisman for my mother (we have been at outs before) was just something I cherished. I kept it in a jewelry box, safe and precious. For my son, I wrapped the talisman first in cotton, and then in different colored cloths.

Then, I put it in a jewelry box, too.

Then, I put it in a special drawer, where it was safe.

During the time I was not seeing my son, and didn't even know where he was, I would take the talisman out, unwrap it, and cry or rage or remember or pray or whatever overwhelming thing it was that I needed to address to externalize the emotion.

I felt closer to him, when I did that. I remembered I loved him, when I did that. Then, I would put it safely away.

Another thing I did was to light a white candle for him.

I still put those electric white candles in my windows at Christmas. I know where he is now, but I think I might be doing it for all the moms who don't know where their kids are.

I never forget what it was like, not to know.

I would also set a secret place for him at the Holidays. It was too hard for me to do a holiday with him missing from the table. (I have a thing with dinner, I guess.) Anyway, I would set the place setting for him in my bedroom and then, close the door. No one else would know about that place setting. I knew, though. It was ~ I don't know what it was, but it helped me.

I think it was not displacement. I think it was grief, and I think it was real, and I think honoring that was the one way I could truly heal.

I never understand, even now, when I am through the worst of it, those people who behave as though losing our children as we have means nothing.

It means everything, to me.

I believe I would be happy IF NOT FOR THIS. And it is this potential for happiness, so close, that I cannot tolerate.

That could be. Only you could say. But I say that we are grieving something very real. Regret for all that might have been, for everything that was so close we could touch it.

And then, we reached for it, claimed it as our own ~ and watched it crumble and catch the wind.

Gone; all gone.

Of course we are sad.

In other countries, they wear a black armband, or shave their heads, or cover their mirrors ~ there are other things too that people do to help us mark the time so we will know it is okay to grieve, and when we will know it is time to begin putting distance between ourselves and our grief.

Others know to treat us gently.

We do not have that here for those who are grieving a death in the family, and we certainly do not have that, here or anywhere I don't think, for those grieving the living, protracted Hell of losing a child to addiction or mental illness.

It will take you some time to begin coming back. I began it watching the sun rise. Ten minutes; fresh, hot coffee with cream. No thought. No intention. Listen to the wind and listen to the birds and then, go about your day.

It is an honor to see it, to be part of it.

That is how I began to heal.

That, and ballet.

Cedar

In the Gallery where I volunteer? I bought a painting that describes the feel of "Halleluiah" perfectly.

I will try to post it here, for all of us.
 
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Childofmine

one day at a time
Copa, I am reading along here as well.

A few thoughts. Yesterday I was in an Al-Anon meeting of just five people. It turned out to be a wonderful hour.

We read yesterday's one-pager from the book Courage to Change. But it was the sharing that was so helpful, healing and instructive.

We talked about the people we are and have been. For me, I have always been a super achiever. I could do just about anything, and I prided myself on knowing that about myself. Just do it. Just be persistent. It works in just about every situation in life.

I also felt I was a pretty good person. I did what I was supposed to do, for the most part. I thought I had it all together.

My mother---reminds me of what you said above---was very instrumental in my life. My mother is a great mom. I am the oldest of four, one who was born with a genetic birth defect, which ultimately defined our family. She died when she was 23. I became a super achiever very early on. My parents needed me to be that, and I was.

After I got married at age 23 and moved 8 hours away from my family (mother), it was very hard for me. I had not detached from my mother. If my mother said blue was the best color for a living room, I wanted to paint my walls blue. To heck with what my husband said. I remained homesick for my mother for many years.

I have been successful in my life in many arenas. I know how to do that. But it hasn't been until the last 8 or 9 years that I have started to really grow up.

I hooked my happiness way too much to others' happiness. If they were happy, I could be happy, but not until. I was always "helping" other people when they faced hard times. I have a lot of friends, and they would come to me with their problems. I would help "solve" them, cut to the chase. I was good at it. One time a good friend told me: You're always around when things are bad, but not so much when things are good.

I was in so much denial and blindness about myself I thought that was a compliment.

I had have a lot of therapy over the years. Marriage and individual. Therapy has helped me a lot.

But it hasn't been as helpful as Al-Anon has, for me. In Al-Anon I have learned what it is to be a more complete person in my own right, and I have learned how to unhook from other people.

This is not about love at all. I love my family intensely. And today, I can so much better accept them for who they are, which started with accepting myself for who I am. I am not perfect, and I make lots of mistakes. I used to not be able to be wrong. I couldn't stand to be wrong. If I was wrong (a lot of course) I would just change the situation so I wasn't wrong, with my words. I could not accept that I was wrong, because I thought that meant I was bad.

We talked about all of these types of things in the Al-Anon meeting yesterday. This is the genesis of healing, for me. Being able to say honestly and openly that I am a work in progress. I am a human being who makes lots of mistakes, and I will continue to make lots of mistakes. That working on myself is a full time job, leaving me no time for part time jobs working on other people. It's truly none of my business.

Now, Copa, this has been a long time coming, and early on, there were many ideas and principles shared in Al-Anon that I couldn't see or grasp. So, being who I am, I rejected them. I thought I knew better.

But as I came to see that the way I had been doing things was not working at all, and I was willing to openly look at that (again, admitting I was wrong, a new concept for me), and being so so so sick and tired, I became willing to change-----over a long period of time, this happened, not quickly at all. In fact, the first "time" I was in Al-Anon, I went for 18 months regularly, but as soon as my husband and I separated and divorced due primarily to his alcoholism, I stopped going. I had kind of embraced the program, but not really, looking back.

Fast forward to when my son's problems became so apparent and chaos and drama and awfulness all around, I knew right where to go---back to Al-Anon. I was ready this time. I was truly ready to change.

This stuff is hard. This stuff requires the kind of honesty I never knew about, and that many people can't tolerate. It requires looking closely at ourselves, at our full makeup, at who we are, how we "operate" and what's behind all of that. Why do we do and say the things we do and say? What is this all about?

Copa, I am so profoundly grateful today that something drove me into Al-Anon. It is a program for the millennium. It is the most wonderfully simple and simply wonderful concept(s) I have ever heard of. There are so many layers to it, and we "get it when we get it." We can't get all of it at once, there is no way to do that.

We get it in God's time, not our time.

You sound a lot like me. It is simply the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, to let my son go. And Copa, I sure have not done that perfectly at all. I have had many fits and starts, and one step forward and three backward, and there were times I could barely function, with the grief, pain, fear, confusion, desperate love...most of all the fear...that consumed me about him. We do so many things out of fear.

Today, I am still very much a work in progress. I make lots of mistakes and I always will. Today, it is much easier for me to look at myself honestly, face myself, admit when I'm wrong and apologize. It's not fatal to make a mistake.

We are here for you. Please...be gentle and kind with yourself. You are doing, and you have been doing, the very best you could do. We all are. There is no list of "shoulds" here. We try to share our experience, strength and hope, and then respect you---this is all about boundaries---and your decisions.

You are the only one who knows the situation you're in. You can only do what you can live with. We understand that. We care, and we get it, and we are glad you're here.

Warm hugs. Hang in there.
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
So, does anyone know: If I "image" to a photograph stored on my computer, will that mean my anonymity is blown?

I remained homesick for my mother for many years.

I love this. I am still homesick for my mother. But I have been homesick for her to be my mother. Even this minute, when I think about the internal stuff, I can touch the craziness that happens when our mothers are terrifying, unpredictable people who hate us. Or themselves. Or whatever it is that we see in our mother's eyes when we are little, and bad things are happening.

To ourselves, or to those we are supposed to protect.

It's a pretty big deal, to understand how weirdly out of balance everything was.

I love hearing about your mom, COM.

When I hear these kinds of stories, then I can know how it would have felt. I think we have to learn what it was that was not there for us before we can move beyond what did happen to us, instead. It helps me know what the emotional tone of that good mother would have been. Then, I can know how to do that now in re-mothering myself.

I think that is true.

***

So, could someone tell me how to post a picture stored in my Picassa to this site? Is it to hit "image" and then, post the jpg identity?

Cedar

I used to not be able to be wrong. I couldn't stand to be wrong. If I was wrong (a lot of course) I would just change the situation so I wasn't wrong, with my words. I could not accept that I was wrong, because I thought that meant I was bad.

Me, too.

That is a very good definition of perfectionism.
 
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