Now we're in the next stage of learning how to be different

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you all for your prayers, ju ju and warm wishes, I so appreciate it and I know it works too!

    So, now difficult child is out of jail and has to live out her old life until she can put together the new one. She is still at the nutty roommates place. I've noticed that with each encounter, we are both trying very hard not to just read from the old script, but to forge new territory. Let me tell you, this is not easy! The pull to rescue her is strong. I'm seeing that when we connect and I hear the details of her present life, which are abhorrent to me,( but where she finds herself after years of making bad choices), I feel anxious because I want to fix it, come up with ideas, options, pay for stuff, take care of it. That is what I would do if it were my life. But, it's not. My therapist told me that I have to be careful to not allow any of my difficult child's toxicity into my life. So, with each phone call or encounter, when difficult child starts to tell me the details of her life, I am saying, "I can't listen to this." And she stops.

    The other night I called her and she was in the middle of a big drama with the roommate. I would have a heart attack if I were in her life, it's so intense and so filled with stress. I won't bore you with the incredible details, it's a melodrama, but she vented for awhile and then I said, "I'm having trouble listening to this, this is where my stress starts to get to be too much." She began using a technique she learned in her class in jail where you change your thinking in the middle of an intense thought. She did it! She began to calm down. I could continue to talk to her since she had calmed down. She was very proud of herself. I told her what a good job she did. And, she has been consistently doing that. When she does that, I can be present with her and we can connect on a more intimate level because we both aren't wound up in our perspective roles, we are letting go of the old behavior we know so well and taking risks with new behavior.

    I recall one of the group therapists telling us that when we step in to rescue them, it is to diminish the stress we are experiencing about their issues. I can see that very clearly now. As I pull myself out of the encounter with her, I feel really weird, shaken, angry, confused and odd. Within a few minutes though, that all settles down and I feel pretty good. I've been rescuing mentally unstable family members since I'm 3 years old, so this may take a bit of time! I feel like these are all tests for both of us to react and respond differently. We're both doing a good job, but it's not easy, it's difficult right in the moment to shift gears, but the payoff once we both do it is really, really good. It makes me feel liberated from the old patterning.

    Right now I vacillate between those two poles, being weird while I set boundaries on not allowing anything in that doesn't feel good and feeling GREAT that I have disconnected in a healthy and positive way. I understand that as time goes on I will get better at this and it will all be a natural response.

    We have the Psychiatrist evaluation on Wed. I hope my difficult child can hang tough with the roommate until all the ducks are in order. Her car is at my mechanics and he is a sweetheart and fixing a list of repairs and just charging for the parts. She will emerge from this experience up to date in her affairs and as I promised her, on level ground. My hope is that the evaluation will give her medications of some kind to calm her brain down and suggest a therapist who specializes in PTSD or whatever issue she is dealing with. She has a really good head start with the techniques she already is using and she can feel the difference when she doesn't let herself go down the usual intense, dramatic, crazy paths. I believe we are on a healthy path now. It will take some time, but we are both learning to navigate this in a much better and healthier way.

    I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. I am taking my life back. We are taking my granddaughter to Kauai in about 3 weeks, which will be a nice rest from all of this stuff. I have these moments of such clarity and peace, it feels good and I look forward to having many more of those.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Wow...I think you are amazing and I would love to hear more on exactly what you are doing. I am trying desperately trying to get to this place with Cory and we have come a long way to it. We dont become nearly as enmeshed anymore in our issues. I do see some major steps forward in his life that I never thought he would take. He plans on going back to school because he realizes he cannot raise a family on disability. He has decided to start dressing in a much nicer way and less like a hip hop gangster with the sagging jeans. He wants khaki's and fitted jeans with nice shirts. Who is this child? He is still working on his language.

    I still have issues trying to help him with things when they get too much for him to with his daughter. I consider this something that also effects me and the rest of our family. My middle son actually made his plans for his two week summer vacation this year to come to see us just so he could see Cory's daughter because he hasnt seen her since she is 4 and now she is 6. They were so close and it has killed him to not see her. We were told she was going to be here for the whole summer for an entire year and then at the last minute the rug was pulled out from under us. That made us furious. All of us. It effected an entire family. I have decided that I will help him with a lawyer to get joint custody and visitation. I wish I had insisted on it years ago. I should have done it years ago. I have an inside tip they may be coming back in December and if they do, those papers will be filled out and ready at the courthouse the second she enrolls those kids in school. I dont care where she lives, if those kids are here, that is their state of residence because this is already her state of residence.
  4. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Wow!! I loved your whole post-but this phrase stands out!!! I am putting it on my journal because wanting to rescue my son is a huge stumbling block for me! Thank you for sharing!
  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You are awesome and you inspire me so much. It's so good to hear that you are taking your life back and looking forward to a wonderful trip with your granddaughter, you so deserve it and she sounds like a lovely young lady. I can hear from your post that you are in a very calm place with everything and have shown me that it is possible to live a happy life without the chaos of our difficult child. You are an amazing woman who has done so much for her family, your support and unconditional love are evident in everything you do.

    Hugs and have a wonderful time,
  6. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    You definitely hit the nail on the head when you wrote about rescuing them to relieve our stress. To me, that's the definition of motherhood up to age 18 or so, if you have a easy child. With difficult children, it's just so hard, but when I read your posts, I feel enlightened! YOU should become a therapist...LOL.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you everyone for your kind replies. I feel as if I am in the middle of my own addiction process, addicted to rescuing! Last night as I was reading posts on this site, my difficult child's roommate called to let me know that she had just given my difficult child 30 days notice to leave. I have no idea why she called me, but I managed to get off the phone quickly, she is very toxic. The urge to call my difficult child and find out what happened and then of course be pulled into the drama and have to use all my strength to pull out, was so STRONG. I resisted. I managed to get to bed without calling. Got up this morning thinking about her and still haven't called. Whew!

    This is what I do everyday now. Don't act the way I used to act, don't do what I used to do, don't do what comes naturally. I have to fight my own reactions. I'm noticing that the thoughts I have are often about my difficult child, just this ruminating about her life and how I could help, or what she could do, or how it should go, yikes, it's like a loop I get in and have trouble getting out of. So, now I'm noticing the thoughts and forcing myself to think of something else. A good example of this is the other day I was thinking about buying my granddaughter a car, which is something we're all talking about doing now that she drives. So, the next thought I have is, Gee, difficult child is going to need a car................and I begin thinking about the ins and outs of that. But, I caught myself and thought, wait a minute, why don't I think about buying myself something, or just thinking about me. It reminded me of my last private therapy session where I was telling her about how I added up all the money I spent on difficult child in the last 6 months. It is substantial. She said, "if you had that money to spend on you what would you spend it on?" Gee, it was fun to think about that, I came up with cool stuff I could have purchased or weekend jaunts, or just what I could have done. I'm so spring loaded to help, to rescue, to think of the needs of others. So, since then I've been watching those thoughts and when I find myself ruminating about difficult child's life, I go do something, change the scenery, think different thoughts, pull myself away from thinking about difficult child and think about me, or fun stuff, or going shopping, anything really. I know that repetitive thoughts create patterns in the brain and if you think about something all the time, your brain begins to naturally go down those paths. Well, I also know you can change that, so I am training my brain to go down a different path now. It's not easy. It's like a run-a-way train in my brain!

    I am noticing that it is getting easier though. It's a real effort now, but having had so much therapy, I also know that's the way change happens. At first it's a new thought you have to give attention to, you have to make an effort to shift the thinking. But, one day, lo and behold, you aren't doing that anymore, you are naturally in the new way of thinking. Yikes. This one is a big one for me. It's not only shifting my internal focus from my difficult child to myself, it's shifting my thinking in general from so many years of rescuing those unstable folks, it's become a pattern now, my brain goes down that same tried and true path. I've got my machete in hand, arduously forging a new path through this dense forest in my brain. Geez, this is hard work! The other part of it is that once I do that, it's as if it takes my brain a few minutes to calm down and refocus. I saw this yesterday when difficult child called me right before I left the house for work. I had to limit the interaction because it was becoming stressful to listen. I got off the phone and left feeling so strange, agitated, foggy, on shaky ground. It's a 10 minute drive to work and once I got there, I felt fine. In fact, more then fine, because I saw that I made a change in the behavior and felt good about it. I went on with my day and didn't think about difficult child for quite a long time. It seems in changing the behaviors, the brain needs a few minutes to reboot, and in that time I have to hold on and not respond in the old way. But, it passes quickly.

    This has been a lot of work for me. Not only just dealing with the endless angst of having a mentally ill daughter, but to find my way through all of it so that my life is not overtaken completely by the mental illness. There are so many feelings to work through, guilt, sorrow, resentment, anger, disappointment, it's such a strange process. However, with a lot of support, AND a very strong commitment to change it, AND my daughter's new found ability to somewhat control her thinking, I believe I can have peace, joy and a life free of drama. I feel very grateful right now.
  8. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RE you write so elequently. So muchof what you said I have found myself doing lately but could never put it into the words you did. For example I saw a facebook post my daughter made asking if anyone had air conditioning because her apartment was ungodly hot. The temp here as been 95-100 for over a week. I resisted calling her and inviting her over to spend the day. She knows we have air conditioning and if she doesn't chose to come over I'm not going to poke a sleeping bear. I felt bad for a few minutes that she is livingin those conditions but then forced myself to think of other things and the feeling passed.

    It does get easier every day and the longer that time passes the more determined I am to never again allow myself to get wrapped up in her drama or jeopardise my health and happiness. When I do talk to her I find myself stopping in the middle of a word so I don't ask something I don't want to know. And we too have added up what we spent on trying to get her help and realized husband could have retired by now and we could be enjoying ourselves. We are your age and are starting to have some health concerns and I want some good years to enjoy each other.

    You have come so far and I am so proud of you.