Not Sure How to Respond

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Hound dog, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I received Katie's letter. I got it in the mail 3 days ago. I haven't responded yet.

    I swear to heaven above, she's got to be borderline.

    Nichole reads me her letters to her for the most part, so I know what they say. (I've not asked her to do this, she just does) The last few were worded such that it sounded to Nichole as if she wanted to talk to me again but was afraid to approach me. So I figured since I'd been thinking about it anyway, it was good timing. Seems in the response she's done an about face. :sigh: Not completely, but enough to put me off a bit.

    I told her it was ok to tell me how she felt, so that part of it is ok. If I ask for it, I can hardly fault the girl for telling me. It's what she's chosen to latch and hold on to that just has me shaking my head.

    I wouldn't have been at all surprised if it had been about the incident surrounding the party, after all......that was what set everything off, so that would've made sense. I could've understood her voicing about the fact I was so hard on her about not attending her dad's funeral, because honestly I was pretty hard on her for that as it really ticked me off.

    But neither of these things were brought up.

    Instead, she chose to remain focused on last summer when I cared for easy child and the boys because of her accident and shattered leg/ankle. Also that we didn't take her coupon shopping with us. I guess for good measure, she tossed in that I never called her or dropped by, which is untrue......but since she didn't answer the phone or the door, I suppose she wouldn't know that.


    She said she knew that easy child had an issue with her when her repeated offers to help were turned down. Uh, no. Her offers were actually appreciated as a pleasant surprise as the younger Katie would not have thought to offer at all. Her repeated offers were turned down because for her to help, I'd have had to make 4 trips across town (how is that helping me by the way?) easy child was in extreme pain for long time, I'm a nurse and katie has no training whatsoever, and that easy child was afraid Katie would bring the kids with her.......which would create a lot of other issues because she didn't want "company" for one thing, afraid of being bumped (her own kids were doing that enough) and her house is TINY. It had nothing to do with the fact that easy child still had buried issues over katie. No easy child wasn't falling all over herself where Katie was concerned, but at that point she was still guardedly trying to see if a relationship was possible. The incident surrounding the party brought her buried feelings over Katie to the surface, I'm not even sure easy child herself knew just how truly enraged she still was at her sister.

    But these things hurt her and "deeply" hurt the kids.

    Now I can see how she might have felt shut out over the turned down offers to help and the shopping thing. (although we did take her a few times when easy child was more up to it) But that phone calls / drop by thing is total bull. Now maybe M turned off the phones or used the minutes or whatever, and maybe they weren't there when I stopped by.......but enough of that and you just stop. There is no point. So how is it MY fault she didn't answer the phone or the door?

    See what I mean? So while I saw a glimmer, obviously there is still a long way to go.

    Katie also said it hurt her so much because she let her "walls" down with me............. Uh, now I'm not trying to be cold hearted here in the least, but if she did, I certainly missed it. In our "conversations" over the past 4 yrs, I've been told very trivial information at best, the one thing much deeper was so obvious I'd deduced long before she said anything, and even that was no big deal. The only thing I can even remotely tag a potential deep dark secret is that M enjoys exposing himself......uh, I think the first online photo of him sort of tipped me off to that one. So, no. The major issue between Katie and the family IS that she won't let down her walls and take active steps to rebuild relationships. We're the ones doing all the work.

    So. Crud. What do I do with that?

    I love this girl as I do my own. I have no problem reaching out to her to pull her back into this family where she belongs. But I am not going to change the person I am to do it, I wouldn't even do that for the bio kids. I am who I am, take it or leave it. I don't play games. I don't do drama. I freely admit when I'm wrong once I realize it and I apologize as needed. But it will be a cold day in hades before I offer up an apology for something that I didn't do, for some slight she's imagined in her borderline mind. It's just not gonna happen.

    Which is why I'm stumped for a response. These issues will have to be addressed simply because she refuses to let them go. She's not going to like what I will tell her either because it's not going to cater to her borderline thinking. If I address it I'll try to choose my words carefully, but I'll tell it like it is. That's just the way I am. I never catered to Nichole's borderline thinking and I'll be darned if I will hers. That doesn't help her, it only re-enforces such thinking.

    On top of this she insists on letters, "at first", until she can trust me again. Uh, I'm going to be honest, that right there majorly ticks me off. Trust me? Seriously?

    I've gone back over every fb message I sent the girl, just to be certain of what I'd said because with my memory and what was going on at the time......well, yeah. While I didn't pull punches and was bluntly honest, it was not really that bad. Good grief, easy child and Nichole have been reamed much much worse over much lesser things. So I sit here wondering what I supposedly did that caused her not to trust me. Was it that I stuck up for her kids? Her? Or was it that I told her how I felt when she made up a bogus excuse to not go to her dad's funeral or the party? Because that is it. I had no way of knowing Nichole and easy child were blasting her via fb, (and they were brutally honest with her to put it mildly) I didn't find out about that until long after they'd already done it. Not that I have any control over what they do anyway.

    Again we're back to circumstances and our feelings ect don't seem to matter. Well, I'm sorry but they do matter and we're as entitled to them as she is to hers. She has no idea what was going on with the rest of the family during that time because she'd deliberately isolated herself. Nor does she seem to care.

    This is tough to get around. Maybe we won't.

    If the girl truly has been going to a therapist over these past few months, either the therapist needs fired or Katie is not paying attention except to what she wants to hear.

    The only thing I know to do is work up a rough draft and let it sit for a few days while looking at it occasionally to revise and reword and hope some wise things pop into my head somewhere along the way. I am not smothered in the grief anymore and the anger this mess caused is no longer there but still it IS frustrating she can't get past this stupidity of last summer when that had nothing to do with what happened.

    by the's odd but I can sort of hear husband in the background telling me to pull out that Jewish mother guilt talent I have and use it. He always said it amazed him at how perfectly I did it when I am not even remotely Jewish. LOL

    I guess I can still joke, so it must not be that bad. ugh

    If you wise women have any insights to offer...........go for it, please. I can use all I can get.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Oh, Lisa.
    There are SO many variables... which of course isn't unusual for estranged family members.

    The biggest challenge is to be true to yourself, while trying to see where her feelings are coming from.
    The little stuff IS what usually trips up these situations.
    And none of it is actually little. Each one will be it's own "iceberg".

    I'm not in your shoes. But... gut feel? (I'm thinking out loud here, so by the time I get to the bottom, the first points might make less sense... )

    Only tackle ONE issue at a time, and pick carefully.
    See if there is a way to walk the edges, try and define the surface issue, and then drill a wee bit.
    Like... the whole calls/visits thing.
    It's probably easier to deal with... because you DID try. She may have no idea how often you tried. It is easy to see where the reality (no calls/visits) can hurt, but no hurt was intended. You didn't want to push too far, didn't want to set things off on a wrong foot for other reasons. Neither side was wrong. The communication just fell "between the cracks", and it's time to re-build the bridge (even if it's just a brick at a time, or even Celtic haggis-hurling-style communication <wink>).

    In some ways, the shopping/couponing thing hangs off the communication issue. If you can't communicate, how can you include? Is she easy to include, or a total pain? If it works not bad, then there's ways to rebuild that, too.

    Those are logical. I can see both sides. Neither side is intentional. And both of these issues really only involve the two of you. Any communication issues with her sisters is between her and the sisters... not a reflection of you.

    Which, if I've followed the issues correctly, leaves just one... the whole caregiver-for-easy child issue.
    This is harder. Because it really isn't YOUR issue. It's easy child's issue. You did whatever you could for easy child, and followed her wishes and comfort level. You were the logical care-giver, on many fronts. And any even-halfway-easy child-kid would know that. But a difficult child... doesn't see things that way. They really don't understand the difference between their skills and your skills - and trying to explain that gets taken as a put-down. They really don't understand the cost-benefit analysis either - and trying to explain that gets taken as a put-down. And on it goes. Know what I mean?? This is a ticking bomb. You don't have enough bridges built yet to deal with it.

    Maybe on this one, you need to side-step. She gave you an "out" to do so. She wants to keep it to letters for now. Not a bad idea, really. Both of you have time then to think and write and re-think and re-write. Keeps the baggage more in the background. She puts the "trust" thing on your side of the equation, but really, that's difficult child-speak for not really trusting themselves. Don't take it personal, but look for the tiny thread of wisdom. And then... explain that the whole easy child/caregiver issue isn't really something you can deal with on paper right now?

    I don't know... just rambling, maybe something will help...
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    It may be very difficult, or plain impossible, to get her understand. But maybe you have to try because who you are? To stay true to yourself.

    And there are things you can be sorry for. You can be sorry, she feels this way. You can admit that it is sensitive situation and it is easy to misunderstand things in both parties. That you are sorry, if you have made her feel unloved, excluded, whatever. That was not your intention. You can be sorry that your communication is not working as well as you would hope for. As InsaneCdn suggested, it may be good idea to point out, that you did call and drop by, but she wasn't home and you didn't want to appear too pushy.

    When people are unsure about themselves and conditioned to feel excluded, they certainly will find signs that others are doing so. With her, I think it's given she would be looking for those signs and she can find them easily. You can not change that. You can tell her, that your actions were not meant to exclude her and you can offer to discuss with her how you could communicate more clearly in future and avoid these misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Only way I can see this to really change is that you are able to mend the relationship back to the point there you do interact regularly and you can show her different. She will still likely misunderstand , but if you try to be very clear and open with matters, it may help her see, that you mean what you say. They are themselves so good at wiggling words they don't trust a word from someone else. Constant showing may work better (if they are ready to understand anything.)

    Of course she is trying to hand off her own feelings of guilt, being a failure, making wrong choices to something you made her feel. But that is something she has to work with her therapist (if she has one.) If she has Borderline (BPD), you have to remember that even with therapy, the progression is very slow. And sometimes things never change (I have given up hope when it comes to my dad and I believe he has Borderline (BPD)) and you just have to decide which kind of relationship you are ready to have with that troubled individual.

    With my dad I have learned I can be sorry he feels this or that way, even if I'm not sorry for what I did. And being very clear and consistent is the only thing that works even a little. And not involving myself with drama. Of course my relationship with my dad is not a success story so you may want to skip my advice on this ;)
  4. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    She lives in her fantasy land, one where you come crawling to her and say you're sorrry for everything you have no business being sorry for! The opposite is true, you did try to help, (they don't answer the door and how is that your fault?). This is the general theme of the letter, where you backpedal and say how you DID help, easy child was recovering and heck no could Katie bring her 3 kids and "help". That's wouldn't be helping. You don't need to explain anything to her, she twists it around and it's fact to her. Hound, it's not being worth upset over, you'll write it all up and she'll disect every little thing "proving" she was somehow slighted. You have better things to do with your time. Did she thank you for all the help you did give? Did she say how much she misses and loves you? Does she want a good relationship with you? Or does she just want to place blame on you and make you feel bad? You did plenty, stuff that comes from the heart. What comes your way from HER heart?
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Katie is choosing a topic that she feels ready to face. I bet once she works through this one, she will continue to open other topics one at a time.

    When she states not knowing if she can trust you, she is asking that you only say things she wants to hear which oh course you can not guarantee. You will say what you see and it is up to her to take it as your view. It is herself she is not sure she can trust. Stay true to what you want to say. You have given it straight to her from day one. She expects it and would be confused if you actually did start saying what she wants to hear. She is looking for your wisdom yet she is unsure of how she herself will react. She wants to be grown up and be able to have a mature conversation with you but that is a little scary for her. She doesn't know if she really can without stepping back into a child's response.

    Putting things in a written communication can be helpful, however, when two people are ready to face an issue that has caused a riff in their relationship, a face to face at a neutral place (quiet corner of a resturaunt) can be more healing. Agree to address only one situation. Choose the situation that seems the easiest for both of you to talk about. I would go with the one she feels she is ready to face.

    Take it slow and continue to tread carefully. I hope this is a beginning of good things for you both.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I am not giving suggestions but I will toss out an idea. Letters are difficult because the receiver usually can find "something" that causes a trigger if they are looking for one. Some years ago I posted in great detail how my "favorite easy child son" cut off all contact with me after receiving a letter. Three or four years passed before I was able to speak to him, assured him I truly had no idea what had offended him and asked him to please spend one hour with me. During that hour it was quickly identified that he thought this one sentence indicated that he was not a good father to his son. Nothing could have been further from the truth and I "almost" couldn't even see how he had read my words to indicate that. Sigh. The years of misplaced anger actually has eliminated our close bond although we get along fine when together. Sad.

    So I might suggest that your response be short and simple. Perhaps (1) thanks for reaching out (2) I really regret that we have been miscommunicating and (3) do you think we'd both feel better if we let the past be the past and instead get caught up on where we both are now and how we can better share? Then chit chat as you feel appropriate. The beginning of school? The new teachers? Whatever?

    I do think rehashing what has been rehashed before could just lead to further issues. You don't know what exactly she hopes to hear and you don't know what she thinks you've said. It's beyond tricky. Good luck. DDD
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think both Insane and DDD have the right idea. If Katie truly has borderline you are never going to get through to her with the steps you did with Nichole simply because she isnt Nichole and you dont have the same relationship with her that you had with Nichole. You have to realize that. You didnt raise her constantly. That is sad.

    I would start the way Insane said. Things she can latch onto and feel vindicated in and you can apologize for real. I realize she only wants letters at this point but they can be so misinterpreted. I think you said you have a camera on your computer. Tape your talks to Katie on a DVD and send those to her. I would bet my right arm they have some sort of DVD player. Either on a computer or for the TV. If she wants to write you back after she sees you in person on the DVD, fine and dandy. You can also include a part at the end where you say hello to the grand kids. She can choose to let them see that or not. I would play a small amount of music or Barney before you talk to the grandkids so has the chance to say, look Gramma sent you a DVD and not a letter to her first. No need to put kids into adult stuff.

    That is my take on it. I know one thing that I wish all my life was that my mom had told was that she simply sorry for what she had done. I waited until the day she died for that apology to come and it never came. Heck, the last 5 years she never even knew she had a baby. She completely denied that. I still have times I wish she could do it from the grave. We found a really nice blue and white urn for her ashes and smiled as we got it thinking that she would love it so much because she collected Blue Willow dishes.
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I've been coming in and reading the responses and am thankful I didn't rush into giving her a response.

    You guys are pretty amazing and have given me much to think about.

    I think choosing things I can actually apologize for is a good idea. I never meant to make her feel like she was being pushed aside, I can apologize for that. I think that is where the real hurt lies.

    She's told me several times that biomom would tell her constantly growing up that we didn't love her and didn't want her in our lives. I don't have any trouble believing that, biomom is a very insecure person herself and her biggest fear has been losing Kaite. So I guess if I make myself think of it that way, it makes sense she picked what she did to latch on to.

    I'll have to keep in mind that biomom is right there probably still telling her that, while M is telling her that as well to keep her isolated.

    When a situation gets uncomfortable for her, she just stops communicating. I don't know how much patience I'll have with that either.

    No I don't have the relationship I have with Nichole with Katie. Katie as an adult is basically a stranger to me, and I'm majorly handicapped by it.

    I'll take my time writing my response letter.

    Janet, I won't do a dvd. But I will write to her for now even though it ticks me off for multiple reasons. I won't keep it up for long though because the risk is just too high for misinterpretation. That has been the problem all along, on both sides. At some point she's either going to have to be willing to pick up the phone or go to lunch with me. She's going to have to do some of the work involved with this too, or it's not going to work at all. I don't see myself still communicating with her by letter 11 months from now........that's just not going to happen. I'm not a letter writer, and post Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I'm really not a letter writer. That's why I hated only being able to communicate with her via fb.

    Nichole has been at this for 10 months and can't get past the casual way one might talk to a stranger. It's frustrating, and at times it feels downright pointless. And she's about to give up. Kayla texted Nichole by accident the other day trying to text a friend. (guess what, she has a cell phone too omg) When Nichole responded........Kayla called her back. The call disturbed Nichole. Kayla has been at a friends house the entire summer. The kids Kayla told Nichole she was hanging with and what they not a good group of kids, they come from major difficult child families and odds are high they're major difficult children themselves. (alcohol, drugs, sex, and petty crimes) Nichole had seen before because she's friends with Kayla on her secret fb page. Not a bit secret as I'm the one who found it cuz she posted on her old fb page. (lol) She had warned katie who Kayla is hanging with and that it's downright dangerous without constant supervision at best........and she's been flat out ignored. Nichole says she won't bother to tell her anything like that again. Last night Nichole told me she's about to give up, it's like talking to a wall. I told her to hang on a bit longer.

    in my opinion casual is better than nothing. It at least keeps her in contact with the family.:sigh:
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Lisa - you are 100% right on that one. Unless the relationship is downright toxic, it's better to stay in contact.