It's who I am

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Nancy, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have been doing a lot of thinking about why I can't get difficult child out of my mind and why if I do end up falling asleep at night I wake up several times thinking and worrying about her. I am tired of not sleeping and not being able to go through a day without worrying. And then it dawned on's who I am.

    When there is something bothering me I can't sleep until I figure it out, I think about it from every angle and try to find a solution or at least a way to make peace with it. I have been a fixer all my life, when I worked I looked for solutions to problems, always trying to find a better way to do things. I never accepted the "we always did it this way" excuse. When I had an assigment due at work I did it right away and to the best of my ability. I have always been a go getter with a lot of energy and some might say too much energy and a bit too sensitive so that when something bad happened it hurt me deeply.

    I cry at a sad movie and tears come to my eyes when someone tells me of a serious struggle they are going through. When difficult child was in rehab I literally cried every Sunday on family day when we had our group sessions, not just about my difficult child but about others. When I saw another mom cry I would too. I cried at AA meetings when I listened to the leads.

    I have worked hard over the years to not let my worry get the best of me but when it comes to my family it is a losing battle. My mom use to say she knew when something was wrong with us, she could feel it before we told her. I swear I have that same gift.

    And then it hit me......that is not how difficult child is. And so when she was a toddler and got into trouble she didn't care and I fretted. When she went to school and misbehaved and I got a note home I tried to figure out how to fix it and she didn't care. When she had an assignment due I wanted it done right away but she didn't give it a thought, didn't worry about it, didn't care if it was done, had no ability to estimate the amount of time it would take, actually had no interest in it at all. She was able to go to school the day it was due and not care that she was the only one who didn't complete it. But I was home worrying.

    When she began getting into trouble with the police her whole future flashed in front of my eyes. I worried about the choices she was making and what it was going to do to her future. When she got kicked out of college I was sick with worry, When she got fired from all her jobs I was devastated.

    And so now when she finds herself unemployed and having no money she is being true to form, she is not worried and is in fact going out having fun and not caring about how she will pay her bills or eat. She is spending her money on car decals and printing pictures to send this jerk who is suppose to be defending our country but is instead doing drugs 24/7 and complaining about having to actually work.

    A light bulb finally went on in my head.....she is being who she is. Why should I expect her to be any different now than she has been her entire life? And I am being who I am and hard as I try I can't change. We have different value systems and so I'm sure it's just as hard for her to understand why I care about school or jobs or society's rules or the future as it is for me to understand why she doesn't.

    I have to find some way to accept the fact that she doesn't care about the things I care about, and worrying about why she doesn't is not going to change that. I want to sleep at night. Telling me to detach just doesn't work. If I could have done that wouldn't I have done that many many years ago and not gone through all those years of being who I am?

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I used to deal with chronic pain - the physical/neurological kind of pain.
    And I learned an interesting lesson... and it seems to apply to emotional pain as well.

    Once pain exists, it is very difficult to make it go away. You can often keep it from getting worse, maybe take the edge off. But pain, often, does not "go away".

    What I was taught to do was "turn down the volume".
    I could acknowledge the pain, knew what the source was, and then... learned to tell my brain to "put it on mute". Not that it would fully mute. It doesn't. Not ever.
    But... once I figure out how to push it to the background, it didn't intrude on my life so much.

    And then, when GFGland hit us... I had to find ways to do the same.
    The situation isn't so intense now, but... turning down the volume helps preserve sanity.
    I can get all tied up in knots, wake up in the night and... it's either be awake for hours, or turn down the volume. For me, I "park it"... write a wee note that literally says "worry about X in the morning". And then I leave the worry on the nightstand and go back to sleep.

    There's other ways that work, too... you'll have to find what works for you. But... rather than trying to NOT worry, see if there are ways to MANAGE the worry, so it doesn't run/ruin your life.

  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Nancy, I read your post and thought to myself, I could have written that! I am you! And, I've now raised 3 girls, 2 of whom are difficult child's. I had to come to the exact same conclusions as you have. I am a worrier too. But, they aren't. They are different. And expecting them to behave or react or feel what we feel is an exercise in futility.

    I think what you are now feeling is acceptance. That is when it all got a lot easier for me, and we're talking a month ago! It sounds trite but it is what it is, they are who they are. Expecting anything different is just turmoil inside of us that goes nowhere but sleepless nights and disappointment and anger. I believe, (now) that detachment is certainly a part of the road, but, for me? It was acceptance. Once that kicked in, I was able to be around my daughter without the expectations she be any different then she is, and that horrible energy was gone. And, she felt it too, because I wasn't always angry at her for being her! Then she began confiding in me, talking to me, because for the first time, I was listening. And she was listening.

    I am making assumptions here and if it isn't the same, I apologize, but your process is very similar to mine and once I arrived there, it got easier INSIDE ME. Things out there in difficult child land may stay the same, but I felt better. For me, in holding an expectation she was never going to meet was always setting me up for major disappointment and resentment.

    I talked to my therapist about this last week and she said, as parents we have to let go of our dreams for our kids that are based on what WE want for them. She said, it is a monumental process for a parent fraught with numerous potholes which are devastating.

    I think your realization will free you. Not to say you won't worry, but I hope, like me, the worry is much less and manageable rather then the kind that terrorizes you.

    I was just thinking last night, as I was (somewhat) worried about the outcome of my difficult child's latest issue, that this is MY LIFE, and way too much of it has been worrying about what other people are doing or not doing, and since I have no control over it anyway, I may as well enjoy myself until the other shoe actually drops, and THEN move into action if I have to. So, I let it go and had a good night. It's become so much easier to do that now. I hope that is true for you too. I think you had a very important epiphany, and one that will liberate you. Good job.
  4. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest


    I also really related to your post. I am a problem solver and I tend to stew about things until the problem is resolved in some way. The other night I had a lot of problems sleeping because of the news of my difficult child.... and his hanging up on me... and my feeling that i needed to do something. I finally got back to sleep after looking up stuff on the internet and I decided to call him in the morning. Once I talked to him, gave him options I relaxed some. Last night when I talked to him and it sounded like he is going to be discharged and end up back on the street... I had to kind of let go and let it happen.... but I knew my solution at that moment was to back off and so I slept last night.

    Insane has it right part of it is acceptance... and for us it is acceptance that we have done all we can, we can't do anymore... and when it feels like there is something you can do then doing it. So I have been looking at some more info this afternoon and I may call my difficult child again tonight to give him a closer option.... I am doing that because i really think going from detox to the street is a huge I want him to know he has options... but that is ALL I can do and if i do that I will sleep.

    So I don't think the worry ever goes away...but as a problem solver part of it is figuring out what you can help solve and what you can't and when you can't that is the time to let go of trying to solve a problem that is not yours to solve.

  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Recovering, you said it perfectly, that is exactly how I feel. We are the same age and so perhaps it comes with age that we finally figure ourselves out. Your therapist is very wise. I am going to try to start living MY life since I can't change hers.

  6. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi Nancy,
    Beautifully said, and I believe it captures perfectly what most of us deal with. We are "fixers" by nature, and difficult children wouldn't be difficult children if they were fixers. So we're polar opposites in effect. The thing is, we can sort of see around corners by now, but they either can't, or won't - because it's not important enough to them. They are, however, resourceful in areas in which they choose to be resourceful. They just don't channel it into normal, predictable areas, like rent, job security, productive relationships, what will happen TOMORROW when I can't come up with the rent!
    When things fall apart, though, and they always do, are we to just watch? I don't know! You know the expression, " small kids, small problems, big kids, big problems" - well if they don't learn to be fixers for themselves from a young age, and don't think they need fixing, who's going to fix the HUGE problems when the s**t hits the fan, and they haven't got a clue?
    It's a terrible cycle of mess...fix, mess, fix, over and over and over again. We are not Atlas holding the world up on our shoulders. We just can't do that. We help others because we're moms and it's in our DNA to help, love, soothe, comfort. I think at some point, we have to surrender our difficult children to God's providence, knowing that we've done our best, but we're outta ideas at the moment. Surrendering control, even for little things, is hard for me. When husband drives, I'm always telling him to slow down, check your blind spot, get in the middle lane, etc. When I'm on a plane, my hands are clenched, my legs are tense, I just am not comfortable not being in control. Ever imagine how horribly, frustratingly out of control a parent of a terminally ill child feels? I'm guessing that's pretty much the same way you feel right now with your daughter. Every cell in your body wants to fix this thing, and you imagine that if you just concentrate a little harder, with a little more time, you'll figure it out. That's the definition of hope.

    The only answer I can come up with is, either go insane, or leave it at God's feet. Do what you can, have a clear conscience, and let God be in charge of the rest. It sounds trite, but I can't think of anything else to do.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hear you Calamity. That's why I do so much to support myself with prayer, meditation, therapy, groups, acupuncture, massage, etc. all things that calm me down, de-stress me and help me to understand that I really have no control over anything, except me and my reactions to things.

    Awhile ago I watched a TV program on folks who live to be 100 and what the characteristics of these centenarians are. The number one, which also impacts the quality of their lives, is their reaction to life's stressors, in other words acceptance of what is. I use every single opportunity I can to do that everyday. As humans, control is a huge issue, but there is so little we can actually control. My reaction to life is about it, so that's where I focus my attention and get all the help I can to do it! It takes a freaking' village.
  8. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    That was beautifully written Nancy and although my difficult child is only 12, I can relate to your feelings on so many levels ... This forum is just a wonderful group to be a part of ... Shelly
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I agree Nancy. It was really beautifully written and obviously from the heart. I am coping with "who I am" versus "who he is" right now. I've already disengaged from GFGmom because we are not similar and do not have the same values. Now my former "easy child/difficult child" is choosing to live a different life with an older woman who is from a lower socio-economic group. I'm so thankful that I don't have to worry about him being dead or arrested on a daily basis but..this is a big transition for me. I'm working on it. It is SO not who "I am" but if he needs that type of companion to feel better about himself ?? I'm still trying to wrap my arms around it and be thankful but it's difficult. DDD
    I think you "nailed it" in your description. Hugs
  10. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Nancy, I too am a worryer by nature. I still find myself runnning through the list of "what ifs' from time to time but I do not do it anywhere as much or as long as I have in the past. Accepting that they are who they are, is a huge part of moving on. Accepting that you cannot fix or change them is huge also but neither makes you stop worrying. Even preparing yourself for the ultimate horror doesn't stop the worry. Somehow we have to learn how to not feed the worry. How not to catastrocize every slip and stumble or set back. We need too acknowledge the fears and then be able to put them aside. I have used visualization with some success. when I am worried or anxious I close my eyes and focus in on what is bothering me. If it is something I can resolve I do it. If it is not in my realm of possible I put it in an imaginary box at my feet. When I am done looking at all my worries, I imagine that I put that box on a shelf in the closet and close the door. Then I go about my regular activities. I learned this method at a group I used to attend. -RM
  11. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Nancy I have so much I want to write and yet I don't think I can do it justice on my phone. You described me and how I feel 95%. The only place we differ...and it's just a tiny that my need to be prepared and "do something" doesn't stem from worry. It's actually how I avoid worry. I like having my "t's" crossed and my "i's" dotted just in case...and I want a contingency plan and I always want to "hit the ground running. "

    My mom is a hand wringer and an awfuliser. My dad set out to teach me to make a good informed decision without looking back but also to know my stuff and be prepared. And to be able to take a different route(or a restart) if it didn't work out. An a, a b, and a c plan and then go for it. But to make a choice instead of hemming and hawing and getting stuck. Can you tell that my dad was my greatest roll model?

    It's why I am here. I get that I can't do anything. "Each day I wake up with the desperate need to do something...and realize there is nothing I can do; the emptiness just has to be..."

    But should the time come when I get the opportunity to do something-a tiny glimmer of opportunity--I want to be prepared. And you guys are my guidance.

    And the wannabe overachiever inside me knows I must detach, can't fix this, yada yada yada-and being here helps me accomplish that. At least it's something to do.

    And when I do dwell, get scared, freak out, ache, hurt, and WORRY-I lean on you all instead of internalizing it. Or worse, trying to change HIM. Love you guys
  12. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This moment came for me when my difficult child looksed at me and asked, "Why are you always trying to change me? Why can't you just let me be who I am?".

    That was the moment everything changed for us and things got much, much better. I was not trying to change her in my mind, I was just trying to parent her. But, I guess I was trying to make her me.
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    HUGS, Nancy. I can relate to much of what you said too. Especially the being extra sensitive to things, waking at of things. I know your post goes far beyond that, and I love your insight into how it applies to difficult child.

    Do you ever write those things out in a journal or type them on a word doctor or anything? When I can't sleep I do that and I have found my brain does calm. I suppose I keep waking and thinking of it because I worry I will forget a detail or when I write it out, even if i am exhausted and dont feel like it, it really does allow me to let it go. I am not a big journaling kind of person but in this case, it does work for me.
  14. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    You know I have been thinking about this.... and I can accept my difficult child for who he is.... you know the fact that he is impulsive, doesn't always think ahead, maybe doesn't worry (although in fact I think he is rather anxious but he worries about the wrong things), volatile etc. So I can accept things that seem to be part of his personality.

    What I have such a hard time with is what seems to be his values. He does not seem to have the values we brought him up with....he did when he was young I think. And of course this is an age old issue of parents and children when their values are different.... but when I was young I saw people who had differing values from their parents and we were talking more about political values... and you know I could easily live with my son having different political beliefs than I do....... but it is more about the values of what is right and wrong and how you treat people. How can it be ok to steal from others, to treat others with so little respect etc? I am not sure I can ever really accept that... and I guess my secret hope is that if he ever gets clean and gets his life together (which of course is a huge IF) that he will somehow get back to the values he was brought up with.... but I don't know it may be too late for that even if he gets clean.

  15. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    WOW - does this thread hit home. I am most definitely a fixer. In every area of my life, I am a fixer. Maybe that is why we are all here? All fixers desperate to fix something we cannot fix? This post really made me think, Nancy. Thank you for posting this. I read it on my phone at the end of the work day yesterday and I believe it helped me last night with my difficult child. Though, it is SO hard not to lecture them and try to mold them how you want them to be. I realize I have been trying to make her just like me. I have not accepted her for who she is and I am constantly trying to change her.
    So I guess I need to figure out how to support her and be there for her and yet, not try to change her. That is a tough one...
  16. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    TL I wish I had the hope that if my difficult child got clean her values would come back. Truth is she never had the same values we did. She never got the lessons we tried to teach, both by word and example. For me this is part of the reason why it's so hard to accept, she is who she is and who she has been from very early on. I don't like it, most of the time I don't like her. I don't like the things she does or the way she treats people or the lies she tells or the things she steals or the laws she breaks, etc, etc. And that is so hard to finally accept. She will never be the person I wish she would be. And even if she got off drugs I don't think she would ever develop the value system that we hold dear.

    I love her but I don't like the person she is and that hurts so darn much, and it is so hard to say out loud.

    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
  17. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    This is not directed at anyone who replied in this thread. I guess it's directed at my difficult child and all the well meaning people who give me the "boys will be boys, he'll grow out of it, just a phase" stuff.

    I love my son unconditionally. That will never change. I will never accept drug use, active addiction, illegal activity, sloth, or dishonesty. Never ever, never never never. The lifestyle he has chosen along those lines is completely unacceptable and I will not support it in any fashion. And I will never stop wanting/praying/hoping he will change.

    I can accept him being whomever he chooses to be. So long as that person is living honestly and is a good man. Dr, lawyer, garbage man, pizza maker, lawn boy, bus boy; straight, gay, long hair, short hair, married single whatever. I don't care. Support yourself legitimately, life life above board, be kind and I will accept whomever you choose to be.
  18. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sig I swear you are my inner voice. I cannot and will not ever accept difficult child as an addict, liar, thief, cheater, low life, etc. So if acceptance means that I will fail. I too will never stop hoping and praying that she turns it around but I can't change my value system.

  19. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Nancy, I think accepting the active addiction and dishonesty IS failure. To me, finding that acceptable means I have failed as a decent human being. Sure, I will love him (from a distance) FOREVER despite it. But I will NEVER find it acceptable. And honestly, trying to find a way to live with it and look beyond it was my downfall.

    I found more empowerment in acknowledging that I couldn't accept it and in labeling the behavior WRONG.

    Evil triumphs when good men stand idle.

    That doesn't mean I will kidnap him like I wish I could. But it means I will never pretend his chosen life is ok with me.
  20. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Gosh, I hope my post did not come across as accepting the drug behavior. I will never accept that.