Is this another level of letting go?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The holidays are coming soon and I have always invited my difficult child for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, however,this year we have a clear disconnect in place where I've requested she please keep away until she has a job and is in some kind of counseling. That's been working as well as can be expected, I haven't floundered. On occasion we communicate briefly via email, so sometimes I know she is okay. The rest of the time I have no idea what is going on with her. It's been a real practice to just let it all go and not dwell on her and her life, but I've done well with it.

    So here come the holidays. Do I invite her for the holidays? Do they override the disconnect? Her birthday is Dec. 4th, how do I handle that too? I talked to SO and he said, "well maybe by then she will have a job or be in therapy." But, if she isn't, do I leave her out there alone on holidays? Yikes, that hurts my heart a lot. I don't think my SO and granddaughter want her here, although I haven't asked them about their feelings, but it's usually negative. I'll ask them about that. If they don't want her to come over for dinner and be with us for those 3 days, Thanksgiving, her birthday and Christmas, geez, I already feel weird about it. My heart would be very heavy knowing we are all together and inside a circle of love and family and she would be outside and left out. Everyone has abandoned her and I know that isn't my fault nor anything I can do anything about, AND, sometimes it's been because of her own actions, but sometimes it hasn't. I also know she isn't as big of a 'mush head' as me so she doesn't experience things in the same way, she's tougher than I am in that way. Am I exaggerating this? I don't know. Any thoughts? What do you do on holidays with your 'detached' difficult child's? I don't know what to do. Any help or suggestions, experiences, insights or ideas would be appreciated.

    I do really well for the most part and then every once in awhile, this all hits me in a certain way and it just hurts's amazing how deep a mothers love really does go, the depth is incalculable and in these cases, with our difficult child's the sorrow can be harrowing. Sigh.............I know many of you understand this in ways we all wish we didn't. Thanks for being there............
  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Just my opinion - all bets are off on holidays. Do what *you* want to do, with no strings attached, no conditions, and no expectations.

    When thank you was younger, I gave him presents to my heart's content because it wasn't about his behavior or the fact that he wasn't living here - it was that he is my son, I love him, it was the holidays, and I needed to do it, period. Yes, I knew they'd be destroyed in the next rage, and they were, but that wasn't the point.

    When he was living (wherever), after he hit 18, he was invited here for holidays. He showed for some, not for others. But for those single days, I put all the other junk on mute and just savored his presence. I have no idea what he was doing in those dark days - have my suspicions but... for the holidays, it just didn't matter. They were kind of like free pass days.

    And the best part was I think he truly did appreciate being with us on holidays (and it wasn't my cooking!! LOL), regardless of all the other junk that he/we dealt with on the other days of the year.
  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    I can tell you what has been working for us as it pertains to my brother, who is mentally ill and living nearby in an adult home. For whatever reason, my brother doesn't feel comfortable coming over on the holidays when we have a house full of relatives on my husband's side. They all love him, but I think he just can't take the noise, the activity, whatever. What we do is have my bro over for Thanksgiving, let's say, on Friday. I do all the cooking (AGAIN) and it's just the 6 of us. For Christmas, if we have everyone over on the Eve, my bro will come over on Christmas day. In your situation, your SO and granddaughter may want to have a "private", no drama kind of holiday with you. In that case, you can take your daughter out to dinner, or even have her over the house, but make it the day after Thanksgiving, or the day before, same with Christmas. I don't know if that'll be OK with SO and granddaughter, but after all, she is your daughter, and it's natural to want to have her over for the holiday, no matter what your ultimatum has been thus far. I think Thanksgiving and Christmas are free pass days, too.
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RE, it hurts my head too because I'm struggling with what I should do about difficult child and holidays. I agree that all previous requests should be put aside for the holidays. But that still leaves you with whether to invite her or not. I also think you need to do what your heart tells you.

    I do not like the holidays for this very reason, I am torn in many different directions.

  5. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I agree with the others. Call a truce for those days. Call her and tell her you love her and want to spend time with her and that for that time no discussions of the issues. You just want her to know she is loved always. She might not go for it or even understand it, but you made the effort.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I always call truce on holidays if I can. in my opinion if there is one time of the year when someone needs to feel a part of something, it's on their birthday or holidays.

    Perhaps a compromise can be made that will work. You could take difficult child out to dinner for birthday. Maybe come up with something workable for the other holidays. As far as SO and such feel, well......honestly, while I'd take that into consideration, this is my child and they have to understand that as well. Know what I mean??

  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I haven't excluded my difficult children from holiday celebrations, even when things were at their worst. I couldn't bring myself to do that, personally -- but you have to decide what you can live with for your own situation. I just sort of prepare myself for the day, resolve to detach if moodiness strikes, and have a plan to get a difficult child out of there if things turn too sour (someone to give a ride home, or a pre-planned, calmly detached speech of "I think it's time for you to go"). Luckily no *major* drama has ever erupted, just minor stuff.

    I keep my expectations low, and accept that our holidays are "different" than other families. Our holidays will never be Normal Rockwell ones. It may seem like a lousy way to approach a holiday, but it's how I've learned to adjust over the years. I ignore as much of the snippiness as I can, if and when it erupts, and during the day just remind myself that it will all be over in a few hours. Over the years it's gotten better, and some holidays have even been actually pleasant. In recent years, since Oldest has no drivers' license or car, I've encouraged her to bring a friend to dinner -- selfishly so that I don't have to pick her up and drive her home. It also helps to have another person as a buffer. She's the one that is always the most unpredictable, her moods can change SO quickly -- but they're less likely to if she has a friend there.

    All that said, a lot of this has to do with the fact that it's just me and my girls (and now my grandkids). I have no other family (except my brother, who's in CA and that's a whole other story). If I excluded my difficult children from holidays as part of my detachment ...meh, it would be even more depressing than dealing with their difficult child-ness :)
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well I was the difficult child so I guess I was the one being excluded and it really hurt me bad, I can tell you that. I have tears in my eyes as Im writing this so take what I am saying as a menopausal woman whose daddy has been dead two years now and I miss him like crazy and this stuff really hurts.

    When my Dad married his second wife her family became their family...I was the difficult child even though she had a bipolar youngest son living at home with them. I was pretty much excluded from everything. Oh my dad would come see me from time to time and if we went up to visit him he would allow us to come in the house, they would feed us a meal, if we wanted to stay over for a night he would get me a motel but we couldnt stay at the house. I think we spent the night at his house maybe 5 times in all the years my kids were growing up and trust me, my kids were on their best behavior when they were there.

    So her kids got my dad and step-mom for every major holiday (actually every holiday) and if I wanted to be around for a holiday I had to do it the week before or the week after. It was hard to explain to my kids but I did. Kinda luckily I just told them we did the real days with my mom and then we had it again with my dad. Funny because my mom was my abuser. Sigh. No wonder I am so F'ed up.

    Now with my kids, I dont leave anyone out but Jamie actually does have to make some choices because he is married. He goes to his wifes father's house for Thanksgiving and will come down her sometime around Xmas. Hopefully during Xmas week since his dtr is in school now but he isnt sure about his schedule. We are the home everyone can come to now because Cory is here with 2 kids here with 2 different families. I cant ask those 2 different families to let us just take the kids away up to VA for Xmas every year. Nor would I after the last fiasco. I imagine from now on, we will just go see everyone at Cory's! What a concept. Something I never thought I would see. Cory throws some wonderful family meals. I think he has taken over the torch.
  9. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Like Janet, I have been the excluded one even though I'm not a difficult child (most of the time.) And that hurts like hades. It doesn't matter that you are an adult. It doesn't even matter that you have a family of your own. It doesn't matter that relationship is rocky at best. To be excluded by a parent simply hurts. I don't want to say that to make you feel guilty if you decide that it is best not to invite your daughter. But it is the truth and something you may want to take into account.

    I also get that your granddaughter may well say, and think, she doesn't want her mother around. She has been hurt by her a lot. But do also remember that she is a teen and isn't yet able to make informed adult decisions on things. She may think she doesn't want anything to do with her mother. But she is still her mother and making her persona non grata by you can feel like it reflects to herself. Or she could feel guilty that her mother is excluded because of her feelings. Dysfunctional relationships between a parent and a child are always so complex, so full of hidden mines that it is almost impossible to navigate.

    I'm sorry if I came off as offensive, that wasn't my intention at all. This is difficult choice and I can see good reasons to decide in many different ways, but do remember that it is not your job to teach her any more. You don't have to stay consistent to teach her a lesson. You made a rule about no contact in this situation and if you want to, you have a right call it a truce for holidays, if you so wish.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My response is a little "off the wall". Sorry 'bout that. I have decided to announce that 2012 TDay is the last that I am hosting. Come or don't come...I'll love you either way...BUT I've been doing holidays for over fifty years and starting in 2013 I am going to learn how to focus on DDD.

    Holidays are unusual events and for 50 plus years I have put out the effort to make it a lovely family occasion. Two years ago or so I realized it honestly does not mean the same thing to the children/grandchildren that it does to me. This year is it. Very interestingly my #1 easy child daughter opted to support her husband's choice to go to his Mom's. I am not whining about it but Easter was never important in my mind, Christmas was awesome until the difficult child grandsons were grown, Thanksgiving has always been BIG to me. This November is it. It's possible that I am the only one who "gets" that this is "big". It is what it is and on that holiday I would welcome every family member no matter how extended they may be, lol. I think it is another sign of the changes in the world. I cherish "the children's tables" and the decorations, and the aromas, and eating stuff nobody likes like rutabagas because they are part of TDay. Last year I bough pies from the pie store. YUK! I like my pies better. on the other hand, most of the people just shot on the Rediwhip and didn't give a rats. Whine. in my humble opinion IF difficult child's are not blitzed to the max they shouldghet "one more year" of family holiday celebrations. You never know what sticks in their minds, lol. DDD
  11. Star*

    Star* call 911

    RA =

    I followed the advice of the "professionals" for years and was hard as a rock when it came to the holidays. I treated every holiday as if it were 'any other day'. Now what I have is an album and a child (left living) that is bitter, and resentful of HOlidays and gets moody, SAD and hates but secretly in his heart LOVES and misses the fact that due to his behavior he missed out on all the family holiday gatherings. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Birthdays,......I didn't do it to hurt him.......I did it in hopes that as he grew? He would recognize that these were special family days. It hurts me to even write about it now.
    I LOVE FAMILY. I love traditions.......and yet most of my traditions ar memories. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of decorations......none of which have seen sunlight for years. Along with my eyes - on my kids for one reason or another.....behavior, death, warrants....jail. And after a period of time I think part of me TRYS to do the things that help others and then the other part of me is human and gets bitter and gets angry and gets jealous when I see "A FAMILY" having their fun time, craft time - CHristmasy time-----together time-----and it's just jealousy. Because I wish it could be MY normal family. But its not meant to be for whatever reason. And it's just me, and the dogs ----once again. Watching tv........and hopefully getting cards in the decorations, and maybe a hamburger. It's been that way for years. Helping others at a mission......or passing out blankets to homeless because - my son was once that way. I mean whatever it takes to get through it.

    SO I would say to you.......DO what makes your heart GLAD. If you enjoy having her there? Set limits and time and take lots of pictures fo rmemories........and go for it. If it would make you more sad ? Grab the dog and go to Burger King - I know for a fact they are
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you for your responses, it means a lot to me. You all pretty much mirrored all the various thoughts going through my head and heart. I would have been a miserable Mom on any of the holidays without my difficult child there. I did talk to my granddaughter, I was honest and shared how I truly felt and she agreed that we couldn't leave her Mom out. She is such a compassionate kid, I was proud of her for that reaction. My SO will (almost!) always do what he believes makes me happy, so we all ended up being in agreement. I will invite my daughter and I hope she comes.

    I put the same question out to my support group. They had pretty much the same responses as you all did. When i expressed my concerns for my granddaughter, the therapist commented that as she grows up, she will be dealing with her Mom without me there in the middle protecting her all the time and she will need to negotiate that territory alone. I thought that was a good point. The therapist also mentioned that since I have not seen my difficult child in quite awhile and I had so dramatically changed our relationship and was not enabling her anymore, that there was a possibility that my difficult child might surprise me and show up in a different and perhaps healthier way. I don't expect that, but as she said, it could happen.

    It makes a big difference to share my dilemmas here and in my support group to get feedback and support when I am stymied about what to do. You all have similar feelings and provide me with so much food for thought. I was saddened to hear Janet and SuZir share their experiences of being left out, and Star's memories of being alone on the holidays, those stories hurt my heart to think of ANYONE alone on a holiday, that has got to feel just horrible. And, DDD, you rock, 50 years is enough. SuZir, I wasn't offended by anything you said, I always appreciate your honest input, you made excellent points, as everyone did. Thank you all.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RE...I wasnt exactly alone, I did have my kids and that is why I always made such a huge thing about Xmas with my kids. Well it was sorta huge. I managed to get my kids a ton of toys somehow even if it was because my dad sent me money to buy them toys (which my step-mom told Jamie about when he was an adult and that ticked Jamie off to no end). When my kids were young I could put some fairly inexpensive toys on layaway and get a lot of them for boys and they were thrilled.

    Then on Xmas day Tony would cook and I would hide in my room because I dont handle holidays well simply because of the bipolar. We didnt know what the issue was for years though. We thought I had extremely bad PMS 3 weeks out of the