Post difficult child birthday melancholy update.........

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yesterday was my difficult child's 40th birthday. I had invited her to dinner a couple of times and never heard back. I was planning on making her favorite meal, the one she always asked for as a child. When it got to be late afternoon and she had not notified me, I knew she was not going to. My SO and granddaughter and I went out to dinner. It was bittersweet. The Thanksgiving Day good feelings because she showed up without her drama coupled with the no show/ no communication of yesterday, were a sad reminder of the unpredictability of my daughter's life and the impact that has always had on me.

    When I first endeavored down the Codependency recovery path a little over a year ago, I remember thinking to myself, these people are out of their minds to think that a mother can just detach from her child and disconnect in a way that is healthy enough to allow a restful nights sleep, a joyful everyday existence, peace of mind and a generally calm life. I was smug in my analysis of them, my judgements apparent, but I was so exhausted from the trying, the constant roller coaster, the drama, the intensity, the angers and resentments and guilt............I was just too tired to resist. And, little by little I started to listen to what was being said. Really, it went against what I believed motherhood and parenting were went against my natural instincts to protect, nurture, guide, take care of..........It was hard, hard to change my own thinking.

    One class I attended early on was about healthy relationships and the facilitator said "is your serenity impacted by the behavior of those around you?" Duh. Well of course, isn't it supposed to be? Another mother there voiced my incredulous response and angrily debated the (obvious) truth that we mothers were immune from that kind of thinking, you don't just have a happy peaceful life when your child's life is running amok, and furthermore, how dare he insult us with this nonsense. The facilitator, with kind words and lots of encouragement assured us serenity was possible. I sat on the sidelines confused but a small door opened up, could you really have serenity in the midst of so much chaos in your difficult child's life? Yikes. I made that my goal.

    This morning I read this quote, "Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions." Sigh. Yes, I've learned, in likely a very hard way, that that is the truth. For me. I am not presuming to be right nor have any answers for others, this has simply been my path, my road to find peace which is what I really wanted all along. I guess I didn't know it would involve detaching from my daughter and accepting what is. Acceptance is an interesting concept, certainly an argument could ensue about accepting bad behavior and how that is not the right thing to do. But, as I've progressed through this maze, I've come to understand that what it means to me is accepting what I cannot alter, what I have no control over, what I have no power to change. That darn serenity prayer again. But, first I had to identify what I thought I had control over. My difficult child was just under my control simply because she is my offspring, I have rights to the way her life unfolds..............or so I thought. Learning that regardless of what I think of her choices, they are hers to make and it has pretty much nothing to do with me....... was challenging. My parental control was lifted off of me in the last year and after it was gone I realized how incredibly weighty it had become.

    I'm feeling a bit melancholy today, life just isn't always what I want it to be............certainly this strange relationship I have with my daughter isn't what I want it to be, but it is what it is. I can rail against that til the cows come home, and I will experience a lot of pain and suffering if I do, been there done that. This acceptance stuff seeps in a little bit at a time.....each time I sink more comfortably into it, with less damage to myself and a tad more ease and then....... peace of mind arrives........gosh, when I feel that I think to myself, this is the state of mind I want to live in all the time, this is it. All I had to do to gain entry was to let go of my control over almost everything, of the one component of my life that is the most significant, the most valued, the most loved, my own child........ I understand the serenity prayer now, not only words to repeat to myself, but a very real sense of "knowing the difference" between what I can control and what to accept. It's so different from what I formally believed. And, yet if peace is what I am looking for, then the only way to that is acceptance. What a ride......
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    :) and hugs. Its not easy. I guess I had a heads up early since both my parents were such difficult children (my mom is still so, dad is deceased). I can tell you that its not that you are not sad for them. You are just not sad with them. You and have sympathy without empathy. You can understand that their choices are simply that. And in that comes a freedom that is wonderful.
  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hugs and more hugs, first of all. Turning 40 under the best of circumstances is challenging for so many reasons, but for your daughter, well, I'm guessing it may have been a rough day of looking back, sad memories, years of struggles, and maybe thinking forward about what struggles lay ahead. Perhaps she just wanted to blot the day out and not even acknowledge it - for your sake as well as hers. For you, it's bittersweet, you gave birth to her 40 yrs. ago, and everything good and bad that goes with that memory. Then there's your granddaughter, and the complications of that relationship.
    My mentally ill brother turned 60 this year, and his life has been so difficult for the most part since he was about 19. His wife divorced him when he was at his lowest point, and she took off with whatever money they had saved. Although we are a supportive family, and we see him weekly, he cannot live with us, and his life now basically consists of smoking, eating and sleeping, and occasionally talking about cars and music. Very little else, and birthdays and holidays are very, very tough for him and us. He always asks why he was born, what his purpose is, etc. It's tough on all of us. Some days are better than others, but we just have to press on, and find joy and meaning despite our difficulties.
    I commend you for your active pursuit of balance and peace for yourself and for your granddaughter, too. You've learned so much, and you graciously pass it on to us and you offer your kindness and understanding to everyone here. I hope your daughter contacts you soon, and you can enjoy a very special "belated" birthday celebration.
  4. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    RE - I'm sending so many hugs your way! I don't have any magic words of wisdom but I do care and I'm so sorry you're feeling sad today. I hope tomorrow is a better day for you.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    GFGmon is "almost" fifty. It took me until she was 45 to dial back my emotions. It's strange. It is not what I ever wanted. It is, however, what it is. I understand the sadness because so many of us with difficult children survive on optimistic thoughts. I can attest to the fact that you can give birth to, raise and love a difficult child and some are able to accept that you must accept the things you can not change. Some difficult children fall into that category. Be thankful for the nice Thanksgiving and move on, my friend. I really do understand. Hugs DDD
  6. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I'm sorry it's a sad day for you, RE ... sending hugs and good wishes. I hope tomorrow will be better.
  7. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I try to live by the serenity prayer -- have it all over my house as a reminder. It's not always successful in turning my thoughts from "the way things should be or should have been," but it's there to hold on to.

  8. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    It is very hard (((RC))) I need to get busy myself today to take my mind off things. My 25yo nephew is in the hospital with the flu and it made me think if anything happened to my difficult child I would not even know it. Not a good place to be.

    So I am getting my thinking back to his choices, his life. I am heading to the gym to exercise and take care of ME, something I can control. I hope you have a great day!
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    So much growth......cant wait til the difficult children have thes ah ha moments! What a joy that will be to watch.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you all for your responses. You all helped me, it's a calming salve to a hurting heart to have others who really understand.

    My difficult child's birthday came and went. Now that I'm over here on the other side, I see that it sort of ended up being a positive for me since I saw how I am not on the roller coaster anymore, I still feel a tad sad at times, but I am not flying high and then dropping off a cliff each time there is a shift in her behavior. This is a much healthier response for me.

    Yesterday she called and apologized for not responding to me about my invitation to her to come for dinner on her birthday..........still very different behavior from the person who has shown up many hours late or not at all for over a decade and not thought anything of it..........she has just not considered other people's feelings for a very long time. She told me she's had the flu since Monday. In the real world I would not think that a good excuse for not making a simple phone call to decline an offer. However, in my difficult child's world, where others have simply been props for her to rail against, this is a major improvement! She apologized a couple of times as I sat on the other end of the phone smiling.............thinking to myself, geez, she really is respecting all the boundaries I set up AND I am hanging onto neutrality (for the most part) HOWEVER she shows up. This may be as good as it gets! And, you know what? It's okay.

    Last night I was thinking to myself, she has lost everything in her life in the last almost 13 years and remarkably she has managed to live for the last 3 years without her own home nor a job. She has used her wits and her odd belief structure and found a place for herself with minimal responsibility and very little overhead. Is it the life I want or even understand? No. But, she managed somehow. I guess for the first time I saw some positives, separate from what I would certainly judge as a pretty yucky existence, she has remained true to her own set of beliefs of freedom and comfort. The therapist told me the other night that what she saw is me having developed compassion for my difficult child, along with acceptance. Another group member pointed out that I am no longer angry either. I hadn't thought about that, but when I look back a little I can recall feeling mostly judgement, a lot of criticism, disdain and certainly much anger and resentment too. It's true, I don't feel any of that anymore. One of the group members said, "I guess compassion replaced judgment." I'm still mulling all of that makes me think of something I read about how circumstances can remain the same, however, if there is a slight perceptual shift, it feels as if everything dramatically changed............

    As CJ mentioned, we have to "press on and find joy and meaning despite our difficulties," and last night, as my granddaughter was downstairs with her boyfriend playing Wii and laughing, SO and I upstairs watching a documentary....looking forward to getting the house ready for Christmas and realizing my difficult child is tucked away in her own odd little world, there is really a lot to be grateful for............putting my focus there is a good thing........