The heart of a difficult child mom

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Steely, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    We are all in the most precarious of relationships and situations being a mom of difficult children.

    In life, if people cuss at us, or hit us, or destroy things, we simply walk away. We tell them that we will not tolerate their invasion of our boundaries, our integrity, or our bodies, and we leave. Sometimes it is a lover, that tears our heart apart as we walk away. However, usually, it is someone we are ready to never see again. The anger is precise, clear, and delineating.

    With our children, it is ever so complicated. Especially when we can see they are ill. We all tolerate the abuse a difficult child brings, because they are our children, our loves, our singular focus as a mom to raise, teach, and mentor. We will not walk away, because we are moms. It is intrinsically wired within us to protect our cubs at all costs.

    But what about our hearts? What does enduring this abuse do to our souls after time? It obviously damages us, destroys part of us, and causes scars deep within our psyche. Yet, they are our children. We endure, we persevere, we believe, we hope, we pray.

    I realized this weekend being with difficult child, that although I love him with every bit of my heart, and I have missed him/miss him deeply ~ there is part of me that is still angry at him. He was beautiful in our time together. Respectful, polite, conscientious, and full of love towards me. It had been 6 months since I had seen him ~ and yet I was at times irritable, annoyed. I was deeply conflicted because some part of me wanted to tell him how badly he hurt me ~ and yet there was part of me that just really wanted to let it all go.

    How do we forgive our children for acts of violence or abuse towards us, when we would not forgive any other person in our life? Whether we like it or not, our soul holds onto the abuse, no matter who that person is. And as much as we want to let it go, it has scarred our hearts. That seems unbelievably sad to me. I want to start anew, and rekindled with difficult child. I want a do over in our life together. I do not want to have to have baggage ~ and yet, is there another way?

    True love is supposed to be acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be. How is one supposed to accomplish that without
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    ((HUGS)) Steely, I don't have advice on this. As you know, I'm going thru something similar. I just wanted to let you know that I completely understand. To me, it isn't just about forgiving my son, it is about still trying to parent him by letting him know that this is not acceptable and if it's any other human being someday in the future, he probably won't even have a single chance of getting that relationship back or forgiveness from the person or the system. He does have that with me, but it isn't a blanket "forgive and forget" situation. I simply cannot send him that message because violence would likely occur again and I don't want my son to grow up abusing others. And I don't want him spending the rest of his life in prison because he killed me. But, just as I'll always be the parent who wants to teach him the right thing and protect him from his own bad tendencies, I will also always love him with every breath and bone I have and deep in my heart, I do forgive him. In spite of scars and a heartbreak that may never go away.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    you have very good questions here. I think it has to be different for each one of us, partly depending on what the beloved difficult child did to us.

    Being able to recognize the anger and acknowledge it is a major step. Many people will not do that.

    Part of the forgiveness process is related to whatever makes you forget all the pain of pregnancy and labor and delivery. Whatever mental/emotional mechanism lets you forget the agony of childbirth so that you think doing it again is a good idea surely is at play in the process of forgiving our difficult children for the scars they have caused.

    I know it took a LOT of soul searching and therapy and just plain hard work for me to forgive Wiz. But I HAVE, and it is an amazingly freeing feeling.

    You are already partway down the path, and with the inner strength and grace you have shown throughout your ordeals of the last few years you will find your way through the anger to forgiveness.

    I can honestly say I was a very good part of the way to forgiving my gfgbro for all the things he did to me and then he started in on my children. ALL that anger came rushing back to give me more fuel to protect my babies. I am still struggling back down that path. I honestly think if it were not for my parents I wouldn't bother. There is just not enough external reward for all the pain of having him in our lives. BUT I know that there are INTERNAL rewards I will get for forgiving him and moving on past the rage.

    I hope you can find what you need to help you on this journey.
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Steely - I think we can forgive but it takes a conscious will to do so. My difficult child left 9 years ago and I was *so* angry that first year he was gone. Angry at him for his behaviors and what he put the family through, but also just angry at fate that our family had yet another challenge. Weekends were disrupted for everyone because of visits to Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Life wasn't normal because he wasn't home. And all the junk that took place before he left... well, it was really really bad, Steely, for everyone.

    After he'd been gone about a year, I just let it go. It was a choice of mine. I think it was just time to, you know? It was a weight and it was unhealthy and nothing good or therapeutic was going to come of it. He will *never* understand or be able to properly apologize - how do you apologize for stuff like that? It's over.

    I still get aggravated with his junk sometimes. It just plain old ticks me off. But I don't think I've been as flat out angry with him as I was then.

    But, I do have to say, damage has been done. I don't trust him. Ever. I don't believe a word out of his mouth. It's unfair to him and maybe something I will choose to work on down the road but right now? My priority is to protect the rest of us first. I love him - I love when he visits, I love talking with him, I miss him and I wish things could be different but... there is self-protection going on here. I'm constantly on guard for signs of the old difficult child. I ask *nothing* of him. I expect nothing of him.

    We don't get a do-over and we don't get to start anew with our kids. We can only go on from here. I hope that someday I will get to let my guard down with difficult child but I'm not there yet. The best I can offer him is my love and support (with very strict boundaries), and my best effort at forgiving for past acts. But I can't forget them, at least in the sense that my guard is up with him.

    Hope that makes sense - and it's just my perspective on it.
  5. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Sue, I think you are right. Perhaps our guard will never be down, completely. We have been conditioned to deflect the abuse. Maybe I just need to tell difficult child that I am defensive and irritable because of the past - instead of pretending like everything is fine, just because he is fine (at this moment).

    However, it seems like that would crush him - because he is trying so hard right now. He is trying with every ounce of his soul to make his life work - that it seems almost cruel for me to come in and remind him that I will never feel peace around him because of all the past inflictions he has caused.
  6. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Steely - I think you are absolutely right on. Now is not the time to share with- difficult child your feelings (in my humble opinion anyway - you could probably find a gazillion therapists who would disagree, LOL). The way I see it with- my difficult child, there isn't anything in the world he could do that would reassure me or make me feel 100% safe. So that makes it my problem, not his. He can't fix it and it seems to me to not be right, while he's trying to get his act together (well, kinda anyway ;) ), to share my feelings. His self-esteem is already in the tank and he's far harder on himself than anyone else, has every past bad act cataloged and memorized, stuff I've honestly completely forgotten. In my case, I just don't see that it would solve anything, and it would probably just make things worse since my difficult child is teetering on the edge of major depression most of the time these days. He needs to work on his stuff, I need to work on mine, and someday maybe it will be more comfortable.

    And while I can't see myself feeling 100% safe with- him, I don't think I would say I "never" will, because - who knows? Maybe someday I will. Just not today.

    You know, you really nailed it there. "Just because he's fine (at the moment)". I remember coming to the board a very long time ago moaning because difficult child's stable hours/days/occasionally weeks were so much harder on me than when he was unstable. For the most part, you know what you get with unstable difficult children. I got really good at expecting the unbelievable from him. But those stable periods just completely unnerved me because I knew it wouldn't last. While he had a pretty consistent pattern of falling apart every 3 months, I couldn't predict it to the day and the longer he was stable, the more anxious I got, just waiting for that anvil to come falling out of the sky to clobber us all again. For me, I think part of my caution now ties into how things used to be, just waiting for the bottom to fall out again. It doesn't happen anywhere near as often as it used to but anticipation is a real bear.

    PTSD you think? :)
  7. Jungleland

    Jungleland Welcome to my jungle!


    ((((HUGS)))) I get it, completely. Even though we are not quite where you are, I struggle daily with my hurting mom heart. I will post my own vent a little later, oy vey!!!!!

    Hugs to you and all us moms, fighting the good warrior mom fight!
  8. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    So well worded Steely. I'm near tears reading this. Sending gentle hugs your way.
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911

    True love doesn't mean you keep taking and taking and taking abuse and never heal your soul. That's not love - that is abuse. True love is different for every person. For me it was the ability to figure out that it's okay to be myself, okay to be imperfect, okay to mess up, okay to be laughed at and that I did a dang good job to raise a child WHO without any of my help would be dead, in jail or in a gang - (still dead in my opinion)

    True love for me was acceptance of who I am, and wanting to do better for myself and those around me. To be the best I could be it meant that I had to admit my shortcomings - deal with them and move on. Basically true love was forgiving myself for not being as perfect as I wanted to be and not finding fault with everything everyone else did that fell short of MY expectations - including my son.

    Hugs - Sounds like you're writing again! Clearing out the old "warehoused" thoughts - good job kiddo!
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Steely, all we really want is for our children to be safe and happy. The more you see that in your difficult child the less you will hold onto this 'baggage'. I totally understand the abuse by one's own child. While mine never actually struck me, I for sure felt abused in the relationship. I still do now and then, although nothing like the past.
    Every time I see something good in my difficult child I am so grateful for it that I leave a bit of the hurt behind.

    I will probably never let my guard down. I can imagine in 10 years being a bit stressed anticipating difficult child bringing her kids over for a visit. It might be my life forever. I have accepted that - as long as my difficult child is safe and happy.
  11. The words and the actions hurt more than I can ever say. Even though I see the danger and the harm that holding onto anger brings; I can't seem to help it.

    That's when I find myself going back and remembering what my Father taught me. I have never met anyone who could love without judging like he did. There were no do-overs, it was only going forward - and the words that you said yesterday, they really were forgotten. Do something wrong, he wanted to know what you were going to do fix it - and when you did - he was there every step of the way.

    May I somehow become a little more like him everyday. This is what I want my family to see from me.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Steely, Star, Busywend, Sue and all,
    beautiful thread, heartfelt.
    I agree, don't say anything to your son right now, Steely, in regard to the hurt. It's way too early for that. And he's still a kid.
    You will heal. It takes a long, long time. This is still very fresh.
    I am thrilled that you and your son have gotten this far. Your note gives me hope and peace.
    I wish all that is good for both of you, and hope for continued success.
  13. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Steely this thread made me cry. I think you've put into words what every difficult child mom feels. You've such a way with words!!
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2009
  14. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Steely ~ forgiveness may be a long time coming. It would be no different if you were to be abused by a parent or a spouse.

    When my tweedles (especially wm) were physically abusive toward me I felt the same hate, the same anger & fear that I would have felt if it were my husband. I hated that fear in myself.

    Saying that, I can forgive the actions of my children. Whether my children apologize or not for their abuses I can forgive the actions. The intent behind those actions is another story at this time of my life.

    Like others here, I doubt I will ever "trust" being alone with wm. With kt, of late, it's more the verbal abuse. And the intent behind it. I struggle to accept "mental illness" when it is so clearly, so blatantly said with malice & knowledge of the hurt it will inflict. The immediate apology & goofy smile afterward tells me this.

    I continue to see a therapist; kt & wm continue to learn (daily) that words & actions may be forgiven but seldom are forgotten, especially if it's of a negative content.
  15. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Steely... Wow... You do have a way with words. I'm still struggling - the right now is not so bad, difficult child 1 is being very good (at home), things are working out to some extent, and I feel like at any second the ice will crack and I will plunge back into the icy water of another explosion. But you're right. I have a lot of residual anger for some of the things difficult child 1 has done to me (and husband, and difficult child 2) in the last couple of years. There have been times I just wanted to send her back to her biomom. I could never allow that - I know she needs to be away from the man her mother chose over her - I love her too much. But sometimes...

    I have an advantage you don't, though. I can walk away. I'm not a biological parent. I can say f*** it all and leave. Somehow I think knowing this, that I have that option, makes me more able to stay and see this through. Real mothers do whatever they have to, to make their children safe. ...But as I said, I have a choice that you do not.

    My grandmother said to me once, "hope for the best...prepare for the worst." I keep reminding myself of this each time something happens with my kids.

    And by the way - the OWH quote on your signature says it all.

  16. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I'm struggling with this as well. I still have a lot of anger to and about Kanga. Beside the abuse she heaped on us, I don't like who she is choosing to become. I really miss our family therapist. Since she has moved away I haven't had the energy to find a new one but I really need to at least find a therapist for me.
  17. compassion

    compassion Member

    I am so there!!! There is so much anger but where I am at today is largely anger at the illness. I am greivng big time. So is husband, and so is difficult child.
    We are definely experincing PSTD. husband and I see theraist weekly and it helps us deal with the stress/the realites.
    Forgivenessa nd trust take a very long time. My difficult child is still quite ill/unstable but getting more stable. I ttolay relate to how hard it can be inthe stable times. I do know though that very firm boundaris are essential. For an example, I willnot promise she can come home until I see in HER actions (not words) that she is albe to not run, rage storm on me, steal, etc.for6 weeks.
    It is sitll very recent for us: we are still dealing with creditors from her stealing thousands when in manic state, sealign with her hopitalzaion currently.
    Al-anon, Nami, theapy, my religious practices help me. I try to seprate the illness from her (not alwsy easy). I am enforcing boundaries with her and saying I messages.
    I have safe peopoe I can express my anger to. I try not to react to her . I cannot reason with her illness. I do love her but the boundaries have to be so very tight.
    My heart is actaully full of joy the more I can detach and accept her illness. I canlove her while putting the family's safety and comapssion for the family as a top priorty.
    I am trying to stay as present and postive in my contact with her as possible. Comapssion
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member can get past this.

    Last fall before I got sick....I was so angry at Cory. When he was in jail I didnt want to see him, talk to him, look at him...even think about him. I was just angry and beyond hope of him ever changing my mind about him. I told his PO to do what he wanted to do with him because I never wanted to lay eyes on him again.

    Within two weeks of Cory getting out of jail he moved out of my house and into this raggedy old trailer. I was beyond thrilled. I didnt go see him, I just wanted him gone. I didnt want anything to do with him. Again...I was MAD! He had used and abused us too long. I wouldnt even talk to him at all. we all know, at the end of October someone decided to show my family that we werent acting quite right. I ended up in the hospital and almost died. That shook us all up and it really turned everything around. Cory had to go almost two months without Momma to do everything for him plus he had to see me almost dead. That scared him. I learned that I really do love him..flaws and all but that I dont have to be there for him all the time. He really can do for himself.

    I dont trust him completely. I still keep things under lock and key when he is around. I dont worry as much though. He is so much better.
  19. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You know the thing is - is that more than anything I want to be past this. I almost refuse to think about any of the bad things or abuse that has occurred. I don't want it in my soul. Yet when I am around him, no matter how much I do not think about it, accept it, or forgive it - that little kernel of fear and resentment is still there.

    Presently I feel like I am denying my reality, because I feel guilty about accepting the anger I truly do have. I want everything to be perfect, still - and not admit anything ever happened to me.
    Yet when I am present with him, I still feel it in the pit of my stomach.

    Like Linda said - the reality is - is that being abused by our kids is NO different than being abused by anyone else. It still does the same damage to our psyche, whether we want it to our not. The more complicated piece is that they are our children - that is the burden only we carry as moms of difficult children. Few can imagine, let alone identify.

    I do not think it is about choosing to forgive, or choosing to accept, because in theory I do. It is about reckoning with our souls, and emotions. They are the ones that do not forgive. Our evolved minds want to forgive, because they are our kids, and they are sick - but our inner core - is still traumatized, scared, and little.