Sick of difficult child using divorce as her excuse...still!

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
It has been 16 years out of difficult child's almost 18 years since I separated from her father, 12 years since the divorce was final. Married to current H almost 11 years.

Today we met with yet another new counselor and once the counselor learned that she comes from a divorced home (nevermind the fact that my H has been her stepdad for the past 11-12 years - her MOST formative), the counselor hones in on that and asks difficult child pointed questions as to whether or not difficult child feels that maybe the reason for her lack of self esteem and bad feelings about herself is related to this divorce, etc. Of course, difficult child, well versed in psychiatrist speak, jumps at this GOLDEN opportunity and says yes, the waterworks begin and the counselor eggs her on to explain why she is so upset and what does difficult child say?? "I wish they never got divorced and I miss them together and I hate my stepdad and I just wish it wasn't the way it is!!" OH MY GOD. She misses us together?? She was 18 months old when we separated - how could she POSSIBLY remember this??

Thankfully, the counselor asked me to explain to difficult child what exactly led to the divorce after first explaining to difficult child that most people get married not expecting a divorce. Well, I should just give my dds' my diaries from back then, so they can just read the heck I lived through. But anyway, I told the entire story - unedited as done in the past for the sake of sparing difficult child and easy child as to what a schmucky person their drug addicted father was back then...the counselor encouraged me to tell the whole story, unedited so I did...and I felt difficult child next to me wanting to defend her father, I felt awful, so I actually did hold some things back - but I think she got the picture and it did help because we talked more all the way back from our appointment. But still, I cannot believe that after 16 years all her hurt and pain over this is still so close to the surface.

However, I am wondering how this is related to her binge drinking and then having suicidal thoughts - maybe this is why I'm not a counselor and why we pay someone to analyze us. Whatever. I am just so annoyed and angry and hurt and upset about this visit. Ugh - what a way to begin, right? Maybe it is good to get all this crud out in the open and start from scratch, I don't know. I know that the counselor is in a facility where there is a psychiatrist on staff, so difficult child's medications will be evaluated as well and they will also do a full evaluation to see if she can get an official diagnosis of bipolar, so those are good things. Just when I was thinking that it was too far to drive, I thought of so many people here who travel hours for a decent psychiatrist!

Anyway, this is more of a vent...but man, how AARRRGGHH.

And then on the way home difficult child says, "I don't know why easy child can get over everything, but I just haven't been able to"...aaah, more mystery. Maybe I will ask easy child how she does it. And the counselor asked that we bring H, exh, and easy child in also! Bwaaahaaaahaaaa, this is just getting too funny. easy child is in VA and hates counselors. H will go and exh? Well, please. I just say, "Please...." what a joke.


Well-Known Member
Oh, dear.
There is absolutely no reason to do therapy by committee. Skip the exH, puh-leese!

You need to focus on exactly what difficult child said; bring it up in the next session as your A-#1 issue: Why easy child can get over things and difficult child can't.
Regardless of the perceived initial catalyst, it's HOW difficult child REACTS TO IT that matters.
Any good therapist will tell you that.
difficult child can start getting over it now. She's definitely old enough to start "work."
Any therapist can bring out the old baggage and tears. A good therapist will give you tools to deal with-what has been dragged out.
by the way, you didn't say whether this is a psychiatrist of psychologist. Psychologists tend to focus on behavior rather than deep digging. I personally like that.
It's hard work but, since, in your signature, you wrote that your difficult child is maturing every day, and is funny and creative, she is quite capable of working on this issue instead of just using it to make herself, and you, miserable. (And forgive me for being so bold, but what you wrote, using words like, "yet another counselor," and "difficult child, well versed in psychiatrist speak.")

She's already on medications, which should help balance out her moods a bit so she can focus on the thought processes behind the emotions.

Good luck!


Well-Known Member
I'm sort of in the minority here, but I feel that often therapists hurt more than help, at least traditional therapists (I prefer Cogntive Behavioral Therapy that works on how to deal with life rather than rehashing the past ad nauseum). I never did get helped by sitting and recounting all the ills of my past, in fact it made me feel both validated that I had a right to be angry and it also made me feel hopeless--as if it was written in the clouds somewhere that because "A" happened, I will never be a whole person. Sensitivity to abusive substances, including alcohol, is inherited. More kids of alcoholics substance abuse than those who don't. They also get addicted more quickly and readily. If it were me, and it's your decision, I would want to find a psychologist who focuses more on how to deal with anger and emotions, not one who fixates on the past over and over again, even bringing DEX into the picture. in my opinion that will only cause more unsettled feelings and still not help your child have skills to work on dealing with his emotions. I believe some people ARE more resilient than others and that it's largely genetic, which is why some kids from the same homes and same circumstances react in differing ways to stress. I have adopted kids and as soon as I bring the kids for any help at all, they hone right in on adoption as if it can't be caused by anything else. I find it unhelpful. If you have never looked into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, sort of Common Sense Therapy, maybe you'd want to do that. Even if you want the type of therapy you're getting for your child, if you feel that the particular therapist isn't right for you, I recommend switching until you find one you like. One last question: Is she in AA or in any therapy to address her drinking? I think that may help to focus on this particular behavior. Even if she's not there yet, those organizations address problem drinking and binging is a red flag for alcoholism...


Well-Known Member
difficult child never knew me and her father together. Yet it was brought up in I think every doctor office we ever visited. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but....


I guess it is 'not our place to say what they feel'! OH my difficult child ran with that one!


Well-Known Member
difficult child never knew me and her father together. Yet it was brought up in I think every doctor office we ever visited. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but....


I guess it is 'not our place to say what they feel'! OH my difficult child ran with that one!


Active Member
A few thoughts...

I was watching an episode of Oprah yesterday (please be aware, you could have seen the same episode months ago, or also yesterday) about a program given in a high school. I think it was Challenge Day. Remember, this is a normal, typical high school with the usual collection of gangs, cliques, bullies, victims, difficult children and PCs.

The Challenge was to not only reach out and listen, but also to speak. The program seemed to be well organised in the way they engaged the kids and managed to communicate to ALL of them, how others feel and that when we are most isolated in our own misery, we actually are feeling the same as everybody else has felt, at some time.

My point - easy child probably has her own hurts and miseries. But being a easy child, not only is she expected to deal with it and not be a burden, she probably IS dealing with it better. But she still feels bad.

Our kids isolate themselves the most when they say (even if only to themselves), "NOBODY can understand how I feel."

difficult child probably is genuine when she blames her misery on the divorce. She truly believes that the divorce is the reason. Of course it's most unlikely, but in her mind, what else can it be? To think it could be something else, is to consider that she may have to take some personal responsibility for feeling miserable.

I remember an incident when I was very young. I would have been seven years old, and had been told I would have to leave my small school that I loved, and go to a much bigger school closer to home. I was so sad that I would be missing my friends and have to start over. I moped. I hung around the classroom door and cried. Sometimes when I felt my misery slipping away from me, I sat myself down and really made sure I could get in touch with my impending loss. Whenever some bigger kid came up and said, "Why are you sad?" a tiny part of me inside felt vindicated, I was right to be sad about it and the sympathy was comforting as well as justifying my deliberate misery.
Finally, after a week or more of this, a girl came up to me and said, "You're being really silly! You have to leave at the end of the school year - so make the most of your time here now! Come and have fun with your friends while you can!"

I do winder if difficult child has got herself into the habit of blaming the divorce (which sidetracks the real problems). hey, it's working. Various therapists seem to agree with her. But your revelations maybe showed her a few other things she needed to understand.

But as for easy child not feeling this bad, or being affected this badly - this is a matter of personal choice. difficult child simply has to talk to herself about her own emotional choices. While she may need help to snap out of them, she should at least acknowledge that continuing to feel bad is something she should at least TRY to overcome, and deal with, and move on.

Misery is only a life sentence when we choose it to be.



With each new therapist for my difficult child 1 she would have to "work through" her father's death (he died when she was 8). It was frustrating to me because her problems started when she was about 3 yrs old--before her dad was sick and 5 yrs before he died. The therapists always seemed to latch on to this as the reason for all her problems. I guess I got pretty callous because I would tell her to get on with her life, got tired of her using her dad's death as an excuse and also as a way to avoid other things she needed to work on. She also would complain that she just didn't know why she couldn't get over it when both her brother and sister seemed to be able to. I don't mean to minimize the effect of his death on her but she sure milked it for all it was worth and the therapists didn't seem to see beyond it.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
Well, thank you everyone for your responses - each and everyone of you made great points - thoughts, in fact, that I've been mulling over in my own head.

difficult child had a cognitive therapist and once the therapist got difficult child on the right track, difficult child refused to see the therapist again. She doesn't WANT things to get better it seems. It SEEMS as if she enjoys being stuck in the mud. As long as she has this great excuse to be stuck and miserable, she is resistent to move or change her behavior or patterns of thinking about everything else. It's easier for her in the short term, but in the long term I fear her life with be mired in turmoil and grief.

I am wanting to speak with the counselor and make sure she knows that I don't want to waste another 3 years in counseling so difficult child can reinforce her skewed ideas about what exh and I would have been like had we never divorced! I want this counselor to act as more of a life coach for difficult child - teach her how to cope better, let go of old hurts, anger and resentment so she can be FREE to live her life, make decisions for herself and be happy.

I too must seem callous, but even in front of the counselor yesterday I said, "difficult child couldn't possibly remember what we were like together as she was only 18 months old when we separated. And, if seems to me that she's fixated on what she fantasizes what our family would have been. And I think easy child made a choice to accept her relationship with her father as is and get on with HER life." I just think about my life growing up and how totally dysfunctional it was - but at some point you stop dwelling on it and make a decision to make your own life. I know those types of choices come with maturity and life experience, but I still cannot get over this - that difficult child is still whining about something that happened so long ago when she was so young and since then her life has been so great in so many ways. She's enjoying the wallowing and that just irks me to no end.

Should I call the counselor and maybe have a chat with her? Or should I wait to voice my concerns and thoughts next week in our next session?


Active Member
ant tried the divorce excuse for a while. I told him I had to make decisions that were best for me and he cannot choose my partner. as a courtesy to him, I will also not choose his partner for him.

he hasnt mentioned it since.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
ant tried the divorce excuse for a while. I told him I had to make decisions that were best for me and he cannot choose my partner. as a courtesy to him, I will also not choose his partner for him. he hasnt mentioned it since.

Hahaha - what an awesome response. In front of the counselor I explained to difficult child that I made my choices based on what I thought was healthiest for me and both daughter's way back then and every day since. I reminded her that she and her sister were very vocal about wanting H as their stepdad (he and I were not seriously thinking marriage until they brought it up). I also told her that I hope she never has to make those difficult choices and my goal was by ensuring she grew up in a healthy loving environment, she wouldn't. However, if she does, I am confident she will do what's best for all, not one.

She said something about me giving up on her father because he was a pot and cokehead but sticking with current H while he worked on his 'alcohol problem'. I kind of jumped on that by stating that the difference was that H and I still share a lot of love, he is a good provider (hence the fact I don't have to hit up the church soup kitchen to feed my daughters like I did back then) and he's a good honest man who puts his family first. I finished by also stating that my marriage is none of her business and that one day when she is in an adult relationship she too will see that there are certain levels of compromises based on other things that each person brings to that relationship. She shut up and the counselor was shaking her head yes, in agreement with me.

I'm sorry, but I do not feel that any one of us has to explain our marital (or the like) relationship to our kids. I think we've always explained everything to them that now they think they are privy to everything in our life! Well, NO.


Active Member
Jo, I fully agree with you. You said exactly what I would have said - "I don't have to explain to you, but I will - I made the choices I made, they are my choices and I had my reasons, which included your welfare. Don't criticise what you can't possible understand - yet, Hopefully, thanks to my choices, you won't have to go through what I have."

As for contacting the therapist - if what you said didn't make any difference, then calling between sessions certainly won't help, it would only make thigns worse. And if the therapist still hasn't quite "got it", you can always have tat talk after the next session.

Give difficult child a chance to get to like this therapist, before she discovers she might have to actually change her way of thinking. If this new therapist HAS understood, then difficult child will immediately refuse this one too, for some spurious reason, before she has a chance to say, "I like her," while still feeling 'safe' from having to take personal responsibility.

I know this is going to sound naive, but why does it make any difference if she refuses to cooperate with the therapist? Can't you insist? She's not my kid so I don't know how things are - my kids may simply be more cooperative about this - but with a few things, we've laid down the law with our kids - "Do what we say, or leave." Of course we do listen and support, but if we REALLY want them to stick at something and they say they refuse, we have in the past given them the ultimatum - "If you quit that course/refuse to help with chores you will not be housed or fed here."
When they finished school we gave them another ultimatum - "either study, or get a job." A volunteer job was permissible and part-time study also. The course really didn't matter - easy child 2/difficult child 2 studied French.

Of course, some kids simply won't respond to something like this - my best friend has a daughter who I know would never have stood for this (pity, she's definitely difficult child although her mother can't see it). I love my friend to bits and her daughter too (who is almost 30) but you can never tell this girl anything. I stopped trying years ago.

Good luck. I hope things work out for her this time.


hearts and roses

Mind Reader
I know this is going to sound naive, but why does it make any difference if she refuses to cooperate with the therapist? Can't you insist? She's not my kid so I don't know how things are - my kids may simply be more cooperative about this - but with a few things, we've laid down the law with our kids - "Do what we say, or leave." Of course, some kids simply won't respond to something like this Good luck. I hope things work out for her this time. Marg

Thanks Marg. We have insisted she continue to go, and in this case in particular, she hasn't had a choice in the matter. Right now, she does like this new therapist and I do too. It just irks me the way some counselors latch onto the first thing they can and think that is the root of all the issues - urg, but I've already stated this.

The thing that's difficult, or annoying, about her seeing a counselor she doesn't want to see is that it helps no one. It's a waste of my money and our time - the counselors, mine, and difficult child's. If she's simply going so she can say, "look, I am going, see??" but not talking or thinking anything through, thereby not improving or learning anything new, such as how to COPE, then it's useless in my opinion. We've seen several counselors over the years and there was only ONE who connected with difficult child. We all connected with this woman, she was awesome and just knew exactly what to say or do and how to guide, etc. But, alas, this wonderful magical woman has retired to FL and it's been a gamble ever since.

I think this new counselor may be a good one. I think you're correct - difficult child needs to like her and feel safe with her, so I will let things lie and see how it goes. Thanks for that reminder.



Active Member
It IS annoying when counsellors take the easy road, I do understand. Back when I was desperately trying to deal with my own PTSD, the shrink I saw was insistent EVERY symptom of mine had a purely emotional basis. Because my PTSD was significantly the result of BIG problems surrounding difficult child 3's birth (plus other issues), the shrink seemed to insist that EVERYTHING going wrong for me was also connected.
While still in hospital, I found I liked the muesli made by the hospital dietician, so I asked for the recipe before I went home. I searched for ingredients, made it up and enjoyed it at home too (it had a lot of wheatgerm, bran, rolled oats and walnuts in it - very healthy). Because I would be up at all sorts of weird hours feeding difficult child 3, I would eat a bowl of my special muesli, even at 3 am, or 4 pm - whenever.
Then I developed what I thought was a gastric bug - I stopped the muesli because I also had to stop milk while I was sick with belly aches and diarrhoea. After a week I would begin to feel better but as soon as I went back to milk (on the muesli) I would get sick again. So I thought maybe the gastric bug had lost me my milk tolerance (loss of lactose-digesting bugs in the GI tract). So I bought yogurt - no problems. Milk in coffee - that was OK too. But it seemed to be the muesli that was the problem.
And it was at THAT point that the shrink insisted that I really didn't have an intolerance to one of the muesli ingredients (therefore, stop looking) - no, clearly it was part of the emotional reaction and rejection of the problems associated with the birth of difficult child 3.
He was most adamant.

I eventually stopped seeing him (when it became clear he thought I was a waste of space - some people have SERIOUS problems; and when I realised I was not getting the help I needed from him, but from others instead).

Since then, I've finally found I have a problem with rolled oats. After taking a break for years, I went back to eating muesli - husband's brand. My GI problems came back. At first I thought it was gluten, so I switched to gluten-free muesli. THAT was no go. Finally, while eating some Anzac biscuits (Aussie biscuits made with rolled oats), it became glaringly obvious. I probably sensitised an already touchy immune system, by eating so much of the stuff back when difficult child 3 was born. I had a few allergic reactions also back then, associated with taking antibiotics for mastitis. I've noticed that in me allergic reactions tend to develop in groups.

So not only is porridge (and muesli, no matter how tasty) off my menu, so is any psychiatrist who assumes that only THEIR profession has the answers.

Jo, I don't know if this would be pushing your daughter too far, but in response to your statement: "It's a waste of my money and our time - the counselors, mine, and difficult child's. If she's simply going so she can say, "look, I am going, see??" but not talking or thinking anything through, thereby not improving or learning anything new, such as how to COPE, then it's useless in my opinion."

I would be insisting that "cooperation" means at least talking to the counsellor. Simply sitting there in a sullen mood is not cooperation. And it would be "cooperate or leave" if I thought it would work.

And if she chose to leave - support the move away from home, make it clear she's welcome to visit any time but independence means just that - financially - unless she's prepared to live by house rules. Drop round for dinner, honey, bring your washing home and do it yourself in our laundry, honey, until you get your own washing machine, but until you're prepared to act like a responsible adult you won't be seen as one nor given the status of one. And taking responsibility for your own emotional health is a big part of this.
A counsellor that someone else is paying for, is a huge bonus. At some stage in her life she must realise this. If, for some LOGICAL reason, she can explain why she doesn't open up, you can negotiate this. But refusal to treat what is an obvious problem - unacceptable. Nobody should choose to go through life as an unhappy person. She is clearly unhappy, if she keeps telling every new counsellor how the divorce has upset her. So clearly, she needs to work this out. When she can CONVINCE you that she is no longer unhappy, then therapy can stop. But continuing to live in denial over it - her life will never move forward and she will always run away from confrontations and stressors, rather than face them with courage - and win through.

I had to push easy child 2/difficult child 2 this hard for a while, when she failed to cooperate with her counsellor. She wasn't being stubborn, it was more that she found it difficult to open up. So I talked to the counsellor over the phone and explained my concerns, that easy child 2/difficult child 2 had difficulty in understanding herself sufficiently to be open and honest; I also would 'tip her off' about any explosions we had, and my overall concerns of easy child 2/difficult child 2's inability to discuss things without becoming emotional. As a result, the counsellor was able to finally draw her out with honesty, which meant easy child 2/difficult child 2 was better able to recognise her own problems and bring them up herself, which has meant tat now therapy has stopped, the benefits are still continuing.
She has a long way to go, but has made amazing progress.

I wish I'd had that therapist instead of my idiot shrink.


hearts and roses

Mind Reader
Marg, what an awful experience with the meusli - difficult child, we have discovered, has a severe allergy to cherries!! She was covered in massive hives all over her body Wednesday night. I gave her benedryl but in the AM they were back again. Her DR is taking care of it, but how scary. She even wrote us a script for an EPI pen in case difficult child unknowingly comes in contact with cherries. Wow.

You were wise to dump that counselor - After the fact, it makes you wonder why you hung in so long, doesn't it?

At this point, difficult child knows and understands that in order for her to FEEL better and have a more positive outlook on her life, SHE HAS TO DO THE THERAPY, whether that means just talking, or planning, or putting something into action. You know, it's still new right now, so she is being very cooperative. We shall see. Her mode of operation has always been to be cooperative while she sits in the 'hotseat' and once the heat dies down and our lives get calmer and back to normal...that's when she acts up again. So, although it is tiring to constantly be 'on it', for now that's what we have to do. But it's me, not H, and so I'm exhausted much of the time.

I am leaving for the weekend to go spend some time with a girlfriend at her lakehouse (well, lake camper!) and difficult child is going to her dad's till Monday, so perhaps we will both get some much needed R & R. I know I am looking forward to it!

Thanks for conversing with me about this Marg - it really helps to talk it out.