Independence Day thoughts about difficult child

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This has been a week of stepping further back..........geez, it's so easy now to look back and see how many of those steps back are inherent in this detachment process. I didn't just jump out of my daughter's life, running for the hills, although, God, there were times I wish I could have. Instead it's been this incremental backing out, stepping back, sometimes aghast, horrified, sometimes, relieved, filled with sorrow, sometimes just tired, exhausted and worn out. Sometimes free, liberated and remarkably.............. okay.

    There is an odd order to it all, I can see that now. If love weren't involved, oh how easy to just let go...........but I love her, I want her to be safe, I want her to be happy...........and none of my wants are likely to be complicates it all, brings forth the protectiveness, the desire to help, the deep need to mend and nurture.............

    She called last Friday to ask me to drive her to get paperwork for the insurance, notarized (for her stolen car). You know, I just didn't call back. I reached some point inside me, some critical mass, some newly developed part of me that just said, "enough." It wasn't what the request was, it wasn't too much to ask, it was just the last straw and I knew it. I left my cell phone in my car and forgot about it so the ensuing calls went unanswered. On Monday I went to work barely able to contain this rage I felt, this big, huge angry mass inside of me which felt as if it had crept out of the depth of me, all the years of answering the call of the chaotic lives of those impaired by mental illness..............not just my daughter, my whole family...........

    Fortunately, I did not commit murder, crash my car into a tree, go punch a stranger in the face or kick a dog..............I did all the healthy stuff I've learned to do to be okay. By Tuesday I was okay again, and as I have witnessed before, that anger, that burning, seething rage blows the dust out of the dark corners of denial, or magical thinking, or the places we go to hide from the truth. Clarity comes marching in stating the new reality, "yesterday is over..........this is the way it is now!"

    difficult child calls stating her car has been found and she needs a ride to the police station, blah, blah, hour away, needs it right away, place closes in 2 hours.............blah, blah, blah.............I didn't call back. My SO and granddaughter both must have recognized this as new behavior on my part and both said they would handle this. SO made arrangements to drive difficult child to the police station and to get her phone replacement. He drove over there this morning waited a half an hour and she never came out, no one answered the door or the phone. She called 2 hours later and apologized, she overslept. She has likely missed all the deadlines for getting the car, the insurance, all of it. And, I knew this would be the outcome, it's always the same. She is sliding down the rabbit hole quickly now. And, here's the interesting thing, her slide is directly correlated to my removing myself. As if I had, by sheer force of my will, been holding her up, out of the quicksand, out of the bottom, out of the reach of the darkness..................

    Each step that I've taken back from her life, each step further away from her, she's then stepped closer to the edge, closer to that darkness, the unknown, the uncertainty, the place I have no control. I can look back now and see how predictable it has been, I move back, she moves closer to her bottom. No car, no phone, no money, no friends, moments away from eviction.............she is about to step into her destiny, whatever that is...........and I am not a part of it now, I am for all intents and purposes, out of the game.

    I'm trying to find words for the way this feels to me now, a year and a half later, through the worst nightmare of my life, to "just let go" of my only child, to release her completely to her choices, whatever the reason for them, and allow her fate to engulf her.............I think that holding love in my heart, as well as the complete powerlessness I feel, as well as all the other feelings, anger, sadness, relief, acceptance.............. is what this process demands of us humans, that we can contain all of it, all those feelings in one heart, a mothers (or fathers) heart............contain it all and ......................not go crazy.............still be able to laugh, to live, to respond to life, to engage in the face of (what scent of cedar so aptly said) a personal devastation like no other.

    I wasn't trained in this, I didn't take a class in detachment and get tested and pass............I was thrown into it, basically kicking and screaming, NOT wanting to do it at all................and yet here I am............tragedy could call me up at any time and I'd be in that movie ..........but the odd part is, tragedy finds you whether you have a difficult child or not, it can be seen lurking around all of our I could wait around for tragedy to find me or I could just live in this moment and be okay. Yikes. A year and a half ago, I could not have imagined being able to even breathe with my kid trapped in her choices when I could have pried her free.......You know,........ me,....... super mom,.......... the one who can do anything ........and now I don't answer the phone, I don't call back, I don't respond. I've hung up my super mom cape, found out it was really only made of cotton, it wasn't bullet proof, it didn't have magic powers, I'm without any super powers. Go figure. I'm just a mom. There is really some tangible, poignant, very real sense of relief and liberation to find out just how much I can't do. And, at the same time, how much I can endure and still survive................and be happy too.
  2. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Oh, Recovering.

    I will write more tomorrow. I wanted you to know one of us had read and responded.

  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RE, your journey has been filled for sure. Good for husband and GD for figuring out what might be reasonable that you just
    Good for you for standing your ground.

    Sure a ride to get something accomplished is an easy enough sacrifice. But, when the person does not even respect their ownself enough to be awake to make it kind of makes you a bit....well, batty. Then you have to think about how much you hate being knew this would happen. Or some variation of the story anyway. Glad you get to remove yourself from the situation.
  4. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    It's sort of like being Snoopy, the day he finds out he is not one of the humans, but a dog.

    It would take a time of adjustment for Snoopy, a time when that music they play in the Charlie Brown specials sounds like the prelude to the Phantom of the Opera to Snoopy, before he would realize that being a dog is exactly what he was created to be,

    And then, if he is very lucky, Snoopy might come to know that, terrible as the world is, it would be a much more terrible place, if dogs did not exist, had never been created, never loved a human or chased a ball or did all the things dogs do that make the mornings happy and the nights safe.

    We will have to listen to that Charlie Brown theme song one day, Recovering.

    I will try to find and post a link for you.


    Recovering? I'm so sorry this is happening to you, and to your daughter. Try not to be afraid of it, Recovering. It's as you said: Tragedy DOES find us all. It seems to be part of the human condition. That is a true statement, absolutely. But as you also tell me...we are fortunate that, even in our misfortune, we have the capacity to choose the way we will interpret what is happening to us. While we cannot stop the devastation, we can note the tiniest signals of strength and love and light, and follow those to a destination that at least leaves us standing, functioning. And maybe even, as you said, Recovering...happy.

    That's the goal, right?

    Not to fix or save or even, to console. But to be happy. To reclaim our own capacity for joy. We've learned I think, Recovering, that we cannot pay for our daughters through suffering, ourselves. I swear, those girls would be floating on sunshine, if the grief of a mother could save or change anything.

    I think you are right about rage blowing away denial.

    I read something in a Stephen King book once ~ Misery, I think it was. The main character is in pain. So much pain that he begins to be able to describe it. And he realizes pain comes in waves. It reaches a high point, a place where the pain is so intense it shoots you out of your body. And then, it falls back.

    And then, it rises again, like water at high tide.


    Sweeping away everything in its path.

    When I am in unbearable pain, I remember that imagery, Recovering.

    I think it takes about three days to work through the material burnt out through the rage. I know I will be cleaner, afterword.

    It is still so hard to be present with it.

    Sometimes, it helps me to remember that old saying about the surface of a lake on a clear night.

    You see the moon reflected, perfectly. So white, so huge and full and still....

    And then, a wind comes up, and the reflection is destroyed, the ripples running everywhere.

    When that happens in our lives, we need to look up. See the real moon.

    And realize the real moon is undisturbed, is sailing serenely through the night sky. The stars, burning for millions of years, behind it.

    Here is a quote, for you, Recovering.

    "My dearest Lucy, you have never seen them above you, looking down, con amore, the ancient, all-permitting stars."

  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RE.... Your posts are always so filled with words that touch me so deeply in ways you probably have no clue that they do. Actually both you and Barbara's posts do. I feel so much guilt when I read them. Almost as if I am your child. I want to run to wherever your children are and grab them and shake them, scream at them that they are killing their parents.

    I remember clearly when I started to realize just how much I must have hurt my dad. Not so much my mother because she was the cause of so much of problems but oh my poor father! He was on the sidelines and had to watch just like you. Thankfully I never fell as far as either of your daughters but I could have.

    I so wish I could change things so a different outcome would happen. I often have said my dad lived as long as he did so he could make sure I could make it on my own. I think I can now.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
  6. RE - You are such an inspiration to me. You have been through so much for so long and have learned how to detach and live a healthy life with your SO and your granddaughter.

    Your insight and your wisdom are priceless to me and so many others here.

    Skotti - Your honesty about your former GFGness is a huge help to us here as well. It shows us that our difficult child's can come through the other side, can change their lives.
    Lasted edited by : Jul 10, 2013
  7. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Skotti, going through this with my daughter has taken me so near the edge of ~ I don't know how to describe it. This last business with the kids...I felt a coldness for her I have never felt, before. As time has passed, as my daughter's children have found safe haven, as they seem to have come to terms with what happened, if not why ~ I don't know. I seem to be entering this boundaryless place where there is nothing, no thinnest membrane, separating my daughter from me. Part of this feeling is knowing that I may lose her. In that knowledge, all resentment, all petty misunderstanding, seems to have vanished. Oh, I am still angry/confused/enraged/hopeful/hopeless...but I don't feel guilty, anymore. I don't feel that drive to change her. I can even see where, knowing something was not right with her, knowing something was "wrong" with her brain (as she so often told us)...this move home could even have been a last, maybe courageous, attempt to get with family and be safe ~ to be a safe mother, to become that person we all believed she was.

    It's so sad, Skotti.

    I believe your father must have come to that kind of peace, too. When you really are facing the probable death of your child, all that petty stuff is burnt away. The only thing left then is that you love her. You remember her as an infant, as a young girl. There is a deep, resonant sadness, ~ but all in all, I am so glad I knew my daughter, so glad, so really, truly glad she WAS my daughter, so glad my own life included hers.

    I hope there is comfort for you in those thoughts, Skotti. If something should happen to me before my daughter comes to a place of stability, I would want her to know that she was worth every smallest discomfort, every wallop to the gut, every tear and endless night. I would want her to know that she had been cherished, every second of her life, that I was so glad she came into the world. That I came to realize the pain and rage and shame and fear ~ all that stuff was because I wanted her never to feel a moment's pain.

    Your father loved you. Never doubt it. He would be so happy to know you have come to terms with your challenges, that your life is a happy, fulfilled self-creation.

    He would not want you to experience a moment's pain on his behalf, Skotti.

    That you survived, that you turned things around, that you are happy, would be a celebration for him.

    Celebrate that with him.

    It would mean everything in the world to him, to have known that one day, you would be happy. That you would have children, and grandchildren. He would be so touched that you came to realize how much you loved him.

    He would want you to forgive yourself.

    He would want you to be happy.

    Imagine how you would feel if you could know that one of the children you have loved agonized over the pain she caused you. You would do everything in your power to set that child free.

    I am sure your father would want you to forgive yourself for everything that happened, Skotti.

    That is what I would want, from my daughter.

    Your father loved you so much, Skotti. Remember that, and forgive and cherish yourself, for his sake.

    Lasted edited by : Jul 10, 2013
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Barbara, I do know my dad loved me but I have felt a whole lot of guilt for putting him through what I did. Maybe its because I know what its like from both sides of the coin.

    My dad and I did have several fairly long talks over the years as difficult child 2 was going through his pretty tough years and I apologized many times to him for what I put him through and he always told me it was okay. Things were fine now. He was never a man big on emotions though so it was always dealt with in sort of humorous ways. My dad's father really wasnt in his life much so he didnt know how to father well either. It was a bit strange plus you add in the fact that he was born in the 20's, well we had a big generation gap. I do know though that the week before he died he called me and he was still strong enough to talk to me on the phone. He told me he loved me, he was proud of me and he was so glad he had me for his daughter. He told me I had given him the very best presents he could have ever gotten in the boys and then the great grandchildren.

    When I finally got up there to see him two days before he died, the last words he spoke to me were "I love you" and he kissed me on the cheek. easy child 2 had seen him about a week and a half before that and had spoken alone to him to have his last words with him and my dad had told him to make sure his father knew that my dad was so happy with how my husbannd had taken care of us all these years. You didnt get a better stamp of approval than that from my dad.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
  9. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I wanted to add husband's take on difficult child daughter. Initially, he was so disgusted with what we learned she was doing ~ and the number and varieties of the whos she was doing it with. Here is a thing that happened. So, there had been multiple men "living" with difficult child. There would be huge fights (involving police) and the person would leave or be thrown out by someone bigger. Well, anyway. So, husband said, "I am so sick of those blankety blank blanks! I never want to hear another thing about another blankety blank blank again!"

    difficult child's response?

    "But Dad ~ the one I was talking about was black!"

    I mean, do you see the mental disconnect, there?!?

    We would be, like, "She said what? She said WHAT?!?"

    He was so shamed, so outraged, that his daughter was not who he had raised her to believe herself to be ~ whatever color the almost-too-numerous to count men were.

    But as we have gone through these months, Skotti, it was husband who came to a place to stand, first. Here is the thing. He is disgusted by difficult child's behavior? But he just snarls, "She MUST be nuts. That's my daughter."


    End of discussion.


    End of discussion.

    That's my daughter.

    I'm sure your father felt the same.

    Lasted edited by : Jul 10, 2013
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks everyone. I am always comforted by your responses.

    Barbara, you were right about the three days......... after the rage burns out the dust in the corners of our hearts and minds............I am feeling so much better these last couple of days..........this morning I made a conscious decision to be completely engaged in life, in the moment, in joy...........I had a bit of a slow start, but as the day progressed, I noticed I got very involved in the day. I was especially happy to be digging in the dirt, playing in the garden, replanting some plants and flowers...........for many hours.

    I realized for the last year and a half, I did minimal gardening, just enough to keep everything alive, today it was very different, like it used to be, me happily out there in the hot sun, not thinking, not worrying, not picturing my difficult child in some dismal was WONDERFUL!! That anger I felt the other day blew me into a new zone, a much clearer space, void of much difficult child clutter, it feels a lot better here. A piece of me that's been lost in space, lost in difficult child land.........has come back to me, I can actually feel it.........I didn't even realize that piece was gone until it came's energy, it's being more alive and available for's presence in makes me really happy to write that right now...........

    Thanks Skotti, listening to you speak about your Dad and your present feelings is very soothing, I appreciate your honesty so much. I wish I could change the outcome too..........

    WTW, thank you. You and I are soul sisters on this is Barbara........... as are many of us....... our hearts connected in ways which are really indescribable and yet, so very real......... perhaps it's the depth of pain which unites us, the deep understanding of the love for our children, and the magnitude of the heartbreak ....... that only another mother experiencing this could fathom.........

    Busywend, thanks for "getting it" and cheering me on, it's always so good to have cheerleaders on the sidelines as we wade through all of this 'stuff.'

    You've all kept me buoyed above the dark, raging waters of the despair inherent in detachment...........I am wildly grateful for all of you.........and wildly grateful to be alive and kicking, not just surviving...........not just treading water............not waiting for the other shoe to drop........... but feeling pretty good ...........even though nothing has really changed for my difficult child.............. everything has changed for me................. today was a very good day. Big smile.
    Lasted edited by : Jul 10, 2013
  11. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Ha! :O)

    I can't wait until I get this detached!!!

    I DO know what you mean Recovering, about not knowing a piece of ourselves has been missing until it is back.

    And we do only seem to get those pieces back after that time of darkness.

    What a wonderful thing to read, this morning. :O)

    I am very happy for you!