It's been years

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Gran2Angels, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    It's been about 3 years since I first posted here, although I read here almost daily.

    This struggle with the difficult child is relentless. I am so worn down and feel defeated. I don't even have the energy to post everything that is going on.

    I just want to thank everyone for posting their stories, advice and most importantly UNDERSTANDING of one of another. This is the loneliest road and friends/family just do not understand... at all.

    This is the one place I constantly turn to for understanding, compassion, and wisdom. I just wanted to say so today.

  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I think that we often forget that our open hearts and experience sharing helps alot of people who are not actively participating. I'm thankful that you have benefited and hope that you, like me, feel that it is possible to survive with the Board support. Hugs. DDD
  3. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    Yes, the words shared here are often a lifeline for survival. Sometimes that's all I've got... the will for survival. It's all such a struggle, but we hang on.

    Thank you DDD.

    I have updated my signature to reflect current circumstances.
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    You are more than welcome, Gran. Hugs DDD
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    My heart goes out to you. I have a friend who has a son who is likely bipolar. He has multiple children. My friend adopted one of them and has financially cared for many of them. Both her and her husband have high paying professional jobs and it financially broke their backs and spirits.
    When their adopted daughter became a teen, they sent her back to the father (their son) to live with him for summers and whenever he was in better shape. IT was sad on a variety of levels, but she realized that it would break her if she didn't get some relief. Her grand-daughter was showing signs of mental illness as well. Not sure, but I think she also cut back on her financial contributions to the others. She helps, but only when and where she is able and it is appropriate. I think this is probably how we should all look at this very tough situation we find ourselves in. It is good to help out, but it is vital to keep ourselves healthy and our own financial house in order. Praying for your energy, strength, wisdom and peace of mind.
  6. Gran - I am so sorry for what you are going through. I'm sure you love your grandchildren intensely but it must be difficult to raise two of them and reassess your circumstances in life because I'm sure this is not where you planned to be.

    Mentally ill children are so difficult to deal with because reason just doesn't work. My son currently has a diagnosis of depression with a possibility of bipolar. I don't know what it is. Sometimes I think it's mood disorder, sometimes I think it's bipolar. It doesn't matter, it's just hard and sad and frustrating regardless of what 'it' is.

    I'm glad this board has given you understanding and compassion and the strength to keep going. Hugs to you and your grands.
  7. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    Welcometowitsend and Nomad,

    Thank you for your kind words and understanding. I feel at times I just never want to see her again. She has destroyed so much of our lives. She abuses every bit of grace given and then still blames everyone else for her choices and attitude.

    I read on here and there is still so much love and affection type feelings expressed toward your difficult child's. I am sometimes taken back by it. And then ashamed and embarrassed of my own lack there of. I am just void of those feelings for her at this point in time. That in and of itself is another deeply, hurtful part of this. By nature I am loving and kind.

    I will keep walking this out. The two grandchildren that are with me are doing very well. I will hold on to that and pray I can do decent job raising them. They deserve so much more.

  8. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    Do not feel ashamed of your feelings toward your difficult child. It is a form of detachment, in my opinion without it we would go insane! I am also at the same point with my soon to be 35yo difficult child. Regardless of mental illness, drug use, alcohol abuse, I just can't take it any more.

    Mine has been difficult from birth and each year I thought, we are closer to a more responsible, independent person, it never happens. in my opinion the last 2 years have been worse than before.

    He is in a relationship with another full blown difficult child and I had to call the police to stop her harassment. She came after him with a knife, he called police, she is sent to detox, he Baker Acts himself. I spend all of this money, ONCE AGAIN, trying to help him start over, his 2 only easy child friends (sisters) tried to help him also. He's back with girlie. He has cut off all contact with friends and family.

    After I refused to send any more money he threatened suicide and said he would steal and go to prison if I did not help. That finally made me realize this will go on for the rest of our lives if I let it.

    He is a cutter so he very well may commit suicide one day. Detachment and turning over to my HP are a huge help.

    He went NC with me in November, as sad as it is, most days are so much more stress free. It is a parents worse nightmare to have these children. I pray for him daily, I may never hear from my only son again, he is an adult and he has to take responsibility for himself. We deserve a life too, and I wish you peace not guilt.
    (((hugs and prayers for us all)))
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Warm hugs, Gran.
  10. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    Thanks for the support and hugs.

    Tiredof33, Thank you for what you said and for sharing about your situation. I am ashamed because I feel bad that I just want to be as far away from her as possible. Unless of course she was to change. Oh, wouldn't that be great. I think that is the key for me, I know longer have faith that she will change. This just seems to be who she is. I hate it.

    Yesterday was father's day and also the birthday of my 80 year old ex-father in law, that I am still very close to. The two grands, easy child and his daughter and I went to the surprise dinner. My ex-husbands sister-in-law cornered me with a lecture to not give up on difficult child. She just kept saying that to me. That difficult child will make a turn around. I stood there and took it, and simply said thank you. I have no energy to go into it all with her.... like I could lay out the past twelve - thirteen years effectively for her to understand the gravity of all anyway. People were asking where difficult child was staying and how she is doing. The honest answer is the last time I saw her was two weeks ago, on the side of the road with no money, no gas in her disabled car and no where to go. Just pulled over in the grass and mad at the world. I pulled along side and offered to take her for help. She yelled at me saying the only help she needed was a room for the night to shower and sleep (that she had been in her car and hadn't slept for 3 days - which according to a friend, wasn't true), something to eat and some gas and cig money. I told her if I gave her those things, she would just need them again tomorrow - that she needed HELP. She told me where to go. So I rolled up my car window and left her there. Cried all the way back to work, fixed my make-up and went into my office as if at had never happened. I was just dying inside........ BUT of course I didn't tell that little sad story at the party. I just said I hadn't spoke with her and she hadn't seen the kids in a while. I left the party feeling small. Once again. They don't get it.

    As of the past few days she has turned up the home of 82 year old step dad. My sister lives with him and is a care-taker of sorts. She doesn't really want difficult child there but I guess difficult child asked my step dad and he wants to give her a chance. My sister says difficult child sleeps most of the day and up most of the night. I don't like it and don't think she should be there. I am sure it will end badly. I guess my hands are tied.

    Thanks again. This board of experience means the world to me.
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I have to add one thing, Gran. My husband and I are 72 and 80 and due to our earlier choices to protect the grands we are not able to retire and have no money for luxury items. We "were" solidly upper middle class before we made the choices we made. As much as you love the grands.....please find a way to protect your "old age" 'cause it is hell when you have spent your retirement money to support grands and then have to struggle month to month. DDD
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Gran, I can relate to your story in many ways, I have a 40 year old difficult child who acts in a similar way at times, makes bad choices, is not easy to like and I am raising her daughter who is 17. I understand how tired you are and how much it all takes out of you. You also have a few more years of parenting your grandchildren, so you need your best advice to you is to make sure you take care of YOU. After so many years of the trauma and drama of our daughter's lives, it takes a huge toll on us and especially when we are older................then you add in the grandchildren it's A LOT!! It's often too much. So, you MUST make sure you are nourished, cared for, supported and find time to enjoy your life. I sought therapy because that works for me, a support group for grandparents, a group for parents of mentally ill adult children (NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness has great support groups and a lot of information which will be helpful for you), 12 step groups, codependents anonymous, whatever works for you. The main focus must be on YOU, then you can do a better job of caring for the young ones. If you are depleted and exhausted, it doesn't work for you or for anyone. It's a difficult shift to take the focus off of "them" and put it onto US, but it becomes necessary so you don't literally burn out, get PTSD, get depressed or all of the above. Taking care of you is essential.

    You might want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post, it's helpful.

    Good for you for not giving your daughter any money and leaving her on the side of the road, that was her choice not yours. I really get how that made you feel, I've made those same choices and they're treacherous on us, but necessary. Notice that she found others to take care of her. My difficult child often sleeps all day and is up all night is not usually in the picture, they are adept at manipulating others until the "other" is depleted then they move on to the next "other". Little by little I've stepped back, detached and learned to accept what is.........I am powerless to change anything my daughter chooses to do and I refuse to continue to pay for her life, financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It took a lot of help and support to get here, but if I can do it, so can you. It's a process of letting go of all of it, including our dreams for them, what we so wanted their lives to be like. Letting go is hard, so that's where the support comes in, you'll need some form of support to shift over from taking care of all of them, to taking care of you, detaching and accepting and getting your own life back.

    I feel for you, I get exactly what this is doing to your life...........take your life back and do it now. Keep walking away. Keep your distance from her dramatic life, from her choices. Face your fears about the worst that could happen and learn to live with that without stepping in to make sure it doesn't happen, it does no good. Take care of YOU. I send you warm hugs and always, wishes for peace..........
  13. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Gran, reading this brought tears to my eyes.

    The most destructive aspect of parenting a difficult child child is what it does to us, inside. In order to walk through what life becomes with a difficult child child, in order for us to function in the world on any level, we need to become people we cannot, deep down, respect. We are secretly ashamed of ourselves when we interact with other parents, when we interact with parents who, though no different than us, have the respect and obedience of their children. Deep down, each of us believes what has happened to our children is somehow our fault. Deep down, each of us believes we should somehow still cherish our difficult child children, still be a source of strength for them, still be a place of safe harbor. We believe that a decent mother, a respectable mother, would truly and completely forgive the difficult child for hurting us, would forgive them for tearing the fabric of our families apart, would forgive them for spurning our values and destroying our lives.

    We need to stop believing these things, Gran.

    But we hold those beliefs so we don't hate the difficult child.

    We believe we are strong enough; we believe can take it.

    But what happens in some little corner of our hearts, is that we turn those feelings on ourselves. Anything, any sacrifice, to protect our children.

    We punish ourselves.

    Decent ourselves, we rail at and batter ourselves for the necessary steps we take simply to stay sane, simply to function, at all; we condemn ourselves because we have had to numb all feeling, for everything, so the horror that lives in our hearts doesn't break through and make us too weak to do what has to be done, next.

    You (and me too, and all of us, here) are living a Holocaust of a whole different kind, Gran. Only, for us, there is not so much as a breath of a rumor that someone will be coming to save us. There are no Allied forces on the way. We walk and live and breathe, sleep and wake up and go about our days in a dissonant kind of Hell we cannot make any sense of.

    There are no rules, here.

    There is no bright new morning.

    And yet, somehow, like the strongest of those taken during the Holocaust, we keep our eyes open, we keep our spirits up; we share what we know, we do what we can; we celebrate any smallest triumph.

    We have great courage, Gran. We have strength undreampt of, when we were young girls.

    husband and I were talking about that, this morning. We have been going through a tough time, just lately.

    We were talking (shouting, actually) about divorce; about just getting the **** out; about being happy, again ~ somewhere, anywhere but here, with anyone but the other guy.

    And we really are at that place.

    It's just too much.

    Too many bad memories, too much loss, too much pain.

    We likened what is happening, what has always been happening, to waking up with your house burning. Emergency mode, no holds barred. Get the kids and get out. Build another house. the house, burning. Over and over and over again Gran, we have all been living lives in which we rebuild, and someone destroys, our house. We grab up the babies and the pets, and build again.

    And again.

    So, once we got that imagery, we took it a little further.

    We realized husband has built an emotional citadel. The only people allowed anywhere near that secret core of who he has had to become to survive this are me, the dog, and the cat. And that worked, for awhile. But what has happened over the years is that the citadel's windows have been cemented over. Even the ventilation shafts have been blocked. He has been hurt too many times. Betrayed, every time he let someone past his guard.

    He is determined no one is going to get in.

    He has become short-tempered. Rageful, even. Has become controlling and distrustful. Has lost faith in himself and in everyone else.

    Except me and the dog.

    (Note I did not mention the cat, here! :O)

    It took us a long time to figure this one out, Gran. I think what is happening to husband is what happens to all of us, in some tucked away corner of our hearts. We build a citadel. A safe place. Somewhere no one else gets to go. Somewhere we can be sweet, and kind. Somewhere we can be vulnerable, and can believe in the good.

    We are all using every survival skill we know just to keep our heads out of the river of **** sailing through life with a difficult child child turns out to be, Gran.

    But we are here.

    Still standing.

    You are raising your grandchildren as best you can, as best you know, because that is the right thing for you, the final bastion of decency you refuse to sacrifice to the morals of your difficult child child.

    But it is a lonely thing, to never be able to be vulnerable, to never allow ourselves to be open; to keep the barriers up so we never feel the sweetness of honest curiosity or feel we deserve the warmth of the sun.

    And that's what I have to say about that, about you and me and all of us here, Gran, this morning.

    Rage is a constant for us, Gran. We guard against it. We function.

    Where is joy for us, I wonder?

    How could we ever be vulnerable enough again, to allow that same joy we all felt as young girls?

  14. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    You are living a life of raw courage, Gran.

    I am sorry this is happening to you. I really am. It's happening to me, too. I don't know what to do, either.

    But I DO know the sister-in-law was trying to give you something to hope for.

    It hurts to be patronized. I sometimes feel like saying, "Look, you stupid biatch, if there were any way I could give up on difficult child and still be able to look at myself in the mirror the next morning, I would have done it! And if I ever figure out just how to "give up" on difficult child? I'm going to do it so fast you won't even have time to blink, you sanctimonious so and so!"


    But I would never say that, of course.

    Scent of Cedar slinks away.

  15. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    Recovering and Scent of Cedar,

    Your replies have touched deep within my darkened heart. I don't even have words. Except to say...

    You get it. You get it. You get it. Somebody is speaking directly to ME and knows. I hate it that you know, I really do. But just that you do, has opened a landslide of tears. I am just overcome. You both, well all of the replies on this thread, you all just say things so clearly, so honest and direct of what we have been trudging through. Your words are just so deeply intimate to me, I can't explain it in a way to bring the true meaning, not the way I want to. I just don't have the gift of expressing it well - my instincts are to type and type raw, angry, disgusting feelings of the past years of the mess. Just anger. And more anger. Of all the money down a black hole to help difficult child. All the hours, days, weeks, years... year after year trying to make "it" right. Being there for her. Loving and encouraging her. Giving opportunity after opportunity. Showing grace. Forgiving her, offense after offense after offense. All for nothing. Just a black hole.

    DDD, Thank you... I want to respond to your advise as well. The money decisions hover right now. difficult child floats around doing nothing. NOTHING. I am paying $200 a week for childcare...etc, etc... I am considering withdrawing some of my very modest retirement savings just to survive the summer. I know these decisions will cause me more grief later, but what else to do? Today is here and it is needed. When you look back, do you think you could have done it different?

    I have to get it together and get to the ball field with the kids. I will read this again later to really process and respond.

    Thanks for the hugs, support and wisdom. Thank you all.
  16. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Gran, 211 is a nation-wide social services hotline. If there is a program in your area, if there is help for grandparents in your situation, they will know and refer you to that number.

    Also, I think there is a program for grandparents to "foster" their own grandchildren. You would receive the same amount of money it would cost your state for your grandchildren to be in foster care. If you Google your county name and "social services," you can then find numbers for your area. Call someone there and ask what help is available to a grandparent raising her grandchildren because their mother is incapacitated. You are a wonderful woman Gran, to have decided to raise your grandchildren. That you need help to do that is nothing to be ashamed of. If there are no answers from these suggestions, post your questions regarding how to find financial help for raising your grands on Watercooler. (Another area of this site.) Your post will be seen by more people. They will have other suggestions for you.

  17. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Sometimes? Even when Recovering isn't writing to me, I like to highlight the parts I need.

    Thank you, Recovering.

    Again! :O)
  18. Gran - I think your feelings towards your difficult child are perfectly normal. Yes I love my son, yes I still want to help him, yes I still (not always) feel affection and sympathy towards him. He's only 17. We've only been doing this with him for a couple of years. Ok, he was not the easiest kid but certainly not the most difficult until he hit 15.

    You've been on this road for a long time and your daughter has probably taken advantage of your kindness, lied and abused you for most of that time. Not to mention that she has stolen your retirement from you and given you two more children to raise. I am sure that you don't begrudge raising your grandchildren and that you love them and parent them well. But this is not what you had planned for this time in your life and that must be so hard. I know that you are 10 years older than me and my husband and I have such great plans for 10 years down the road. Our house will be paid for, we won't have to work as hard, we can take more vacations, we can hopefully focus on ourselves. I think I might be angry and resentful if I had that long term dream pulled out from underneath me.

    Don't beat yourself up. You get up every day with the intention of doing the best that you can. And by the way? I can have some very angry and unking feelings towards my difficult child. I am sometimes shocked at what comes out of my mouth when I talk to husband about him.
  19. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    Thank you all for the replies. I have been on here and read them, more than once.

    I tried calling the 211 National hotline number. A recording comes on about it being a disconnected number.

    I did call and talk with foster care and social services. Since I received custody via a lawyer and not through foster care, there is no assistance available. They told me there is something called kinship care. Apparently we don't qualify for that either as a) both parents are not dead b) a case of neglect is not on file with our state's cabinet.

    She had neglected their dental care. My grandson's 4 front molars were in really bad shape. My daughter knew he had these but she didn't do anything about it. It took us 3 months of dental appointments to take care of these problems. We have one more crown to go and he will be good until December. And the medical card doesn't pay for the crowns, at the tune of $700 each.

    So the expenses this year have been right at ten thousand. My emergency savings is down to nothing. That is why I will have to take out retirement.

    I keep telling myself the good things, that the kids are safe. They are doing well and now they smile a lot. They are both only on their one add medication, a lower dose at that, are very stable. My grandson did not have to have his front permanent molars pulled, which he was evidently months away from not being able to save them, even with root canals. He's twelve. They are doing sports and involved in life again.

    But I am still angry at my daughter and I have to find a way to move past it. Bitterness is not a nice quality. :(

    As far back as three years ago we tried to get the state involved and get them taken from her or the situation addressed. I wrote about it briefly here at one time. My daughter is very pretty and dresses well (used to any way.... these past 6 months I've noticed her appearance is really starting to show the wear and tear of her lifestyle). She also can turn on the charm and tell a sad story, sweet charm or tears or whatever she has to do to get out of a jam. It has worked for her. The kids were having a terrible time at school back then and it was an absolute nightmare. Social service really was no help at all. They would show up and talk to her a bit, and like magic... all was well and no case opened. The school counseler wouldn't talk to me due to privacy laws and one even told me in no uncertain terms that my daughter presents well and she has talked to her about the kids. Just flat wouldn't talk to me. They were both put on plans at school to help them. Upped their ADD medicine and put my granddaughter on some other medicine at night. It gave her nightmares and she hated taking it. My grandson had constant stomach aches and didn't eat much, lost weight, all because of this higher dose of medicine. I wasn't allowed to go to Dr. visit's or do anything to say what I was seeing at home even though I had them A LOT. To top it all off, my daughter ended up with more assistance money. This was all three years ago.

    I don't know how it is with social services in your areas, but it seems around here these workers are either overwhelmed and let some things slide because these cases aren't the worst and they are doing the best they can maybe? Or if they just see so much they get hardened to it all and if the children are half-way functioning, well then, they just go ahead and deem it ok? I don't know. It has angered me over the years.

    But anyway, what happened this time after months of weird behavior, leaving them with whomever when she did have them, keeping them out late on school nights, late to school or not taking them at all when she did have them, etc... was when she was kicked out of her last place, called me to come and get them, then did not even so much as call to check on them for 5 weeks. She didn't even get their stuff out of the trailer they were living in. She took her clothes, the big screen tv and toilets. Just left the rest and dropped out of sight. My son and I went and got their bikes, clothes and very personal belongings. I went to a lawyer I had talked to about trying to get them in the past and she now is the time. I had to pay for everything and it was $3,000 to start it and double that and more by the time it was over. My daughter ended up signing a joint custody with me being primary to avoid a case being opened. The family court judge and my attrny advised me that this was the best and fastest way to end it and keep them safe. So that's how I got "legal" custody earlier this year. Their mother is entitled to the visitation schedule but she doesn't act on it.

    I guess it works out different for everyone. It would be nice to have some help, especially childcare. It is very expensive, as you know.

    Any advise is appreciated. I may be slow to respond, as we are still in ball season are doing games most nights. But I do read your responses and thank you so much. Your support and understanding is more than I can say.
  20. Gran2Angels

    Gran2Angels Member

    She didn't take the toilets. :groan:

    Meant to say toiletries. She took all the shampoo, toothpaste, etc. BUT if she could have sold them and knew how to take them.... she might have considered taking the toilets too. :)