New, family in crisis

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by TAnne, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. TAnne

    TAnne New Member

    Hi everyone, wishing I had stumbled upon this place months and months ago but glad I found it today. I've been reading threads from other parents of adult children and don't feel so utterly alone. I apologize if this post is a discombobulated mess.

    I'm a mom to 3. I'm remarried and my older two children are 21 and 18 from a previous marriage, and a 2 year old with my current husband. The older kids' father has had nothing to do with them since 2012 after he remarried, cleaned out their college funds to buy himself a motorcycle and a bug screen TV, and told them he had a new family now. The middle child (18) has had issues for the past 5 years that have put this family through crisis after crisis, and I'm now reaching the point where I'm just emotionally numb.

    There have been so many suicide threats I've lost count, and numerous involuntary hospitalizations due to this child openly expressing suicidal thoughts to friends and school staff. They may be valid ideations but they've been so numerous that it feels like manipulation. We constantly walk on eggshells not due to any violent tendencies, but because things go wonderfully after each crisis and eventually it all comes crashing down again. So much of their behavior seems to be attention seeking, and when my husband and I don't react the way they want then it tends to cycle again.

    I apologize for the plurals but it's hard to explain without being confusing. The 18 year old was born female. When the behaviors started a few months before 14 (late 2011) and told me she was bisexual. I told her I loved her and accepted her no matter what and she responded by cutting her wrists. Not deeply enough to harm herself but enough to warrant a trip to the first of many, MANY therapists. Then after that crisis, my husband and I decided the entire family needed a fresh start in a new town several states away. She and her dad hatched a plan to move her into his home and threatened legal action if I fought the move. It broke my heart but I told her that if this is what she truly wanted I wasn't going to fight it, and in February 2012 my oldest child, myself, and my husband relocated.

    Not 3 weeks after our relocation she was on the phone crying, telling me she hated it at her dad's house and begged me to send her a plane ticket. I was dead broke after pouring all of my savings into this move and told her I wouldn't be able to for several months. This was met by weeks of emotionally draining calls and veiled suicide threats before I managed to scrape enough cash together to buy her a ticket in May. What followed after her arrival has been a roller coaster of drama followed by a rebound of really good times and supposed progress so I'll abbreviate it:
    -Autumn 2012, she reported a Seroquel overdose to her high school nurse. Spent 9 days in inpatient mental health facility.
    -My pregnancy in 2013 was met with regression and jealousy. Suicidal threats began again and despite receiving outpatient therapy and going to support groups, this year was volatile.
    -2014 Was actually a really good year. She was doing well in school, was active in extracurricular activities, and was working part time. I regained some hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Then there was a backslide at the end of the year.
    2015-Finished junior year barely scraping by, started to slack at work, and did horribly at the start of senior year, not even bothering to show up for some classes. I give the ultimatum since she is in danger of not graduating: get your butt in school and straighten out the grades, or get your GED, get a full time job to support yourself, and move out. Then in a drama-filled family sit down she tells me she's transgendered and identifies as a male. I again say I love HIM no matter what. Hr gets his GED, enrolls in college, and agrees to therapy (agsin-see a pattern?)
    -2016 Fails out of the first semester of college and has 3 ER visits with 2 hospitalizations for suicidal ideation. Throughout all of this we go through hell as a family struggling with the gender transition not because we don't accept it, but because he continues to dress female (clothes, makeup, jewelry) and act female. Even talking about it out of curiosity emits a hostile, defensive reaction. He moves back home, refuses therapy of any kind, but lands a great job and things start to look up again.

    Then last night he says he's going out for an hour to talk to friends because he's "not in a good place" mentally. About 15 minutes after he leaves I send a text saying "Love you" and get no response (not uncommon). 45 minutes after he leaves (9:30 pm) I get a knock on the door from the friend's mom telling me that my child has been transported via law enforcement back to the inpatient mental health facility. I calmly thank her for the information, go back inside, and go to bed.

    I couldn't even will myself to cry. These past 5 years have been my own personal hell and I'm surprised my husband hasn't left me. I'm just numb and all I can think this time is, now what? I woke up this morning to a tear-filled voicemail and all I could do was listen and just hang up. I don't even want to visit him. I'm just so OVER IT and feel like a horrible parent for admitting it.

    Thanks for letting me unload.
  2. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Wow... I don't have any suggestions at this point, but to take care of yourself, your child and spouse... KSM
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Are you in therapy for yourself ( you really could use face time support.
  4. T Rene'

    T Rene' Member

    I am new to this site .. I have read & watched for mths now in hopes that I cld find some-kind of relief :( I finally joined because I have gotten to the point that you are at .. Almost hopeless in my Sons case ! This place helps me a lot just to get it out .. So I want you to know that you are Not alone ! My son also puts me thru our own Hell ! It breaks my heart Everyday . He has also had a very long struggle begging his Dad to be there for him , to the point of many lies to just get the luv & attention from a Dad That really never gave a crap ! That in turn has caused many issues in our lives , now he is 28 & threatens himself to the point I cringe when the phone rings ( Soo Scared ) Im like you I luv mine dearly but at the same time dont him around me right now because of all the Stress & Drama ... Im am in the process of detaching right now ( after calling law several times for wellness cks) I have done everythg in my power to help him , just to be made out to be the bad one :( I pray for you thru all of this ... The best of luck to you & your family ! I cant explain all my pain .. It wld take days ... BUT I DO KNOW WE DO NOT DESERVE TO FEEL THIS WAY .. Take care of you & the ones that have respect for you ... (Im Taking my own advice as well)
  5. TAnne

    TAnne New Member

    Thanks for the replies. I'm not I'm therapy but talked to my employer this morning about using my employee assistance counseling benefits and am waiting to get that set up so I have someone to talk to. Haven't heard anything from the facility but he's 18 so I don't expect to. I'm just overwhelmed.
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  6. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    Take care of yourself. It's good your child is there. I have seen so much lately about gender identity and it has to be so tough for someone that age going through that. You do need professional help I'd say - for yourself too!

    My son is a mess and he had two loving parents so don't blame it on that. They always look for something/someone to blame.
  7. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    No blame, you have done everything a parent can do. It's ok to love them and not like them...I'm there.

    I'm not a professional .. but I wouldn't respond. He's take that. Lucky your not in our state...18 is still a juvenile!

    Tough stuff. No drugs involved I makes it much more complicated.

    Focus on you, hugs
  8. TAnne

    TAnne New Member

    No drugs. I'm actually a registered nurse so that was my first worry, but they've done a drug screen with every hospitalization and they've all come back negative. Thank you all so much, you have no idea how much I appreciate the support.
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome TAnne. I'm so very sorry for your struggles with your adult child. You sure have been through the wringer. I understand how you are overwhelmed.......the situation is completely overwhelming.

    As others have mentioned, it's important, as we've all learned here, to begin to focus your attention on yourself's wonderful that you're getting yourself into therapy, it so helps to have someone to talk to. I'm not suggesting that your child is mentally ill, but he does have "issues" and there is an organization called NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, who you can find online and they have chapters in many cities. They are a very good resource for parents, with excellent support groups for parents. They may be able to steer you in the direction of a support group for parents with transgender kids. You may also try doing a bit of research online to find a support system for parents of transgender kids, since you'll be dealing with issues that are different than addiction or mental illness.

    When our kids go off the rails, for whatever reason, we parents often go off with them for awhile, until we get ourselves back on a sturdy and healthy track. To get back on track,we often need a very good support system. I entered into a 2 year course on codependency with private therapy and group therapy, along with attending 12 step groups and hanging out on this forum A LOT.......and it all worked to help me to pull myself together and begin the process of detaching from my adult daughter so that I could find peace of mind and let go and accept what is. It was certainly a process and I could not have accomplished it without a lot of support.

    You're dealing with a lot now and in my opinion, it is very important to take very good care of yourself and of course, your other children too. Remember to cover the basics, good nutritional meals, proper sleep, exercise and don't forget to nurture yourself with things that make you happy, walking in the woods, lunch with girlfriends, dates with your husband, manicures, whatever brings you joy and peace. It is so easy to forget that we as parents matter too, we have needs too, and we need to laugh and enjoy life too. Do whatever brings that smile to your face and joy to your heart.

    I'm glad you're here with us, you're not alone........we understand how difficult it is.....keep posting, it really helps......sending you a big hug.......
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  10. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    TAnne, despite being close friends with a trans-woman, I don't know enough about the process. I can tell you that your daughter will not pass the intensive psychological screening involved in actually transitioning.

    It's very discombulating, especially as a parent, I should think. I my case it was rather awkward as my trans friend was also my very first BOYfriend.

    She has been very helpful in helping me understand her world and her experiences and we now joke about our highschool days.

    She could be 'gender-queer', or could just be so mixed up that right now she doesn't know her actual identity.

    It's going to take some serious psychology work to help her, and until she does that, you're gonna be dealing with the same old stuff.
  11. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I just want to say, I think you did the right thing here. I think you have done the right thing, the best any of us could, all along. And you are doing the right thing by joining us here.

    Because what RE says

    is so true. You must, you may, you can, take care of yourself. Especially now with your lovely troubled boy in the hospital. I remember when my son was in the psychiatric ward for the first or second of many boyfriend at the time, now my long time signicant other, said "I know this is hard to believe, but now is the time for you to relax and rest and take care of yourself. He is being taken care of by other people now. He is safe." I was like WHAAAT??? MY BABY IS IN THE CRAZY HOUSE!!! HOW CAN I RELAX? but now I know that he is right. My baby went from many episodes in the crazy house to many episodes in jail, and you know what? that is when I can relax, rest my mind, go for a run without wondering if that guy sleeping on the flattened cardboard box up ahead is my son, if that late night phone call is the hospital or the police. Those thoughts and worries are for another time. For now, he is being taken care of and you can really focus on building your own strength and resilience and beauty and power back.

    You have a lot on your plate. So does he. I think you have the will to come out the other side of this. Stay with us. We will walk with you on this journey.

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  12. TAnne

    TAnne New Member

    RecoveringEnabler, I definitely think there's some underlying mental illness with her, at the very least some depression coupled with some narcissistic tendencies. I've wondered at times if she could be bipolar. I've been pushing the therapy route for years but it's been a battle, and she's very intelligent so many times she sees it as a game of manipulation. I definitely need help. I've centered my life around this child instead of taking care of me, and it's time for her to take responsibility for herself.

    GoingNorth, while I fully support her identification as a male if that's TRULY what she wants, often I question whether it's the real thing or if it's just more attention seeking behaviors. She dresses and acts female, but if someone uses a female pronoun when referring to her or accidentally calls her by her birth name (which is still her legal name) then the gloves are off. It's almost used as a tool to lash out at people and an excuse to be hateful towards others. I've tried to explain that it's hard for family and friends who have identified her as female for 18 years to switch without making a mistake and there's not even a shred of understanding-that person is dubbed an insensitive bigot until she finds someone else to be angry with or she wants something (money, favors, etc). I even took her out to buy a more masculine wardrobe after the big coming out to show my support, and not one article of clothing has been touched in the last 6 months.
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    TAnne, my daughter is 43 and has yet to get a diagnosis, although recently she's decided (on her own, without me literally pulling her into the office!!!) to go to a Psychiatrist. I suspect bi-polar with my daughter as well. I have a number of mentally ill relatives and not one of them willingly sought help. And, yes, often they are quite brilliant, however, still disturbed on a number of levels. Your suspicions may indeed be real, and the truth is you may never know.......hence, getting the support for you.

    I contacted NAMI and was so grateful for the level of support I received from them. I found an office near us and a social worker there really took an interest in my daughter. They have a support system for parents that really is stellar, I would support you into looking into it. Once there, I was amazed at the level of support for not only my daughter but for me too.

    TAnne, we're human, not super heroes, we burn out, we are exhausted, we're resentful, angry, filled with grief and often guilt.....we need support......we need a place to go to feel safe and talk about our feelings, our needs, our own traumas as a result of having a child who for whatever reason, goes off the rails.

    There's an article at the bottom of my post here on detachment, you may find it helpful. It's a challenging path to detach from the behaviors, choices and dramas our children bring to our door, however, often, that is exactly what we have to do, not only for ourselves, but for them as well. Many of us gain some solace from the serenity prayer......

    God grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    Hang in there.......
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  14. TAnne

    TAnne New Member

    Thanks so much for the suggestions and additional resources!

    Just an update, she called me from the facility and it was a rough 25 minutes that consisted of every manipulative trick she has under her belt. She blamed me for her problems, then blamed her friends, became indignant that I didn't plan to visit, guilt tripped me for not delivering additional clothing yet, etc. I've been reading a lot of the other threads throughout the day because I knew this was coming, and I'm proud to say that despite having to stop and breathe each time I started to feed into her drama, for the most part I checked my anger and tried to objectively make observations. I was really surprised to see how angry she was that I wasn't dropping everything to rush to the hospital. It really opened my eyes to the level of dysfunction I think our whole family is dealing with. So thank you all SO much.
  15. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    TAnne, did your son show any signs or ever indicate that he wasn't happy with his genetic gender as a child.? From what my transgender friend told me, she knew from toddler hood that she was a woman, no matter how her body was made. She has transitioned surgically as well, not all transgender people do.

    This is starting to sound a little odd to me. I would do everything you can to get him into a therapist specializing in gender identity issues. Meanwhile, despite how he chooses to dress, use his preferred pronouns. That's just common courtesy.

    Though I once wrote for a LGBTQ newsletter in Chicago a longtime ago, I'm a cisgender female so cannot know what it feels like to be trans. I'm a bit butch and according to various tests, I "think like a man" as opposed to thinking like a woman...whatever that means.

    Your best chance of finding a therapist as well as medical help is to get in touch with the LGBTQ community in your area. They likely have a community website or newsletter.

    You will likely find resources there. Do not come off like you want to change your son. You will be cut dead. Rather phrase this as wanting him to be happy and comfortable in his life.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What is cisgender?
  17. jetsam

    jetsam Active Member

    wow! love them and not like them, yes i must say that at least once a week! my husbands favorite is What did we do growing up that was so bad that we should be punished this way! Know we can't blame ourselves but i also know its very hard not to. I grew up pretty normal, no daily crisis, loving hardworking parents who loved each other...Yet both my children have their issues .I Continue to try to detach (as a matter of fact i copied the article from this site today) and took the copy to the gym and kept reading it while on the treadmill lol. I Know on a rational level this is what must be done in order to get relief and to get my life back. I am 59 and know that life doesn't last forever so I'm gonna try to LIVE while I still have time, because for the last 20 years i guess i have only been existing. We all need to get our lives back and I don't see any other way to do this than detach.. love and let be
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  18. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    cis means mentally feeling that one's genetic gender matches one's mental/emotional gender. I always think of it as meaning 'Comfortable. In. Skin.

    So, I a cis-woman because I was born a genetic female and I identify as a female. My husband was a cis-male because he was born a genetic male and identified as a male.
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  19. TAnne

    TAnne New Member

    GoingNorth, I want to change the manipulative behaviors but I know I can't. I don't care about the gender preference and never have, but as far as showing a male gender preference there was never any indication. From the age of two it was always coordinating shoes (often fancy and very feminine), clothes, and accessories at her insistence, even up to senior homecoming. This has all been out of the blue. I do always use the preferred pronouns when she's around, but my brain has a hard time adjusting to the transition as a whole when there's no evidence to back up the claim. It's like a defense mechanism for my psyche when I'm waiting for the next big dramatic revelation, not to mention I've always been more analytical as a healthcare professional and something just isn't adding up.
  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    TAnne, you did well with the phone call with your daughter. I thought I'd mention that when we stop enabling them, they usually up the ante pretty dramatically, the manipulations, the aggression, the anger and the entitlement come barreling can be ugly. Just remember it is a process, either she will ultimately settle down and accept your new boundaries, or she will not, either way, you will feel a whole lot better.

    When I first began recognizing that I was the one allowing this behavior, it was a revelation......and I got my own power back as I began setting strong boundaries around unacceptable behavior. Remember that we are treated the way we allow ourselves to be treated. Don't allow your daughter to treat you with disrespect.

    You did really well!!!
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