The void

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, it's been 5 days since I sincerely expressed my deepest feelings, angers, resentments and concerns to my daughter in a calm, rational and kind way. I said what needed to be said, she heard me. Perhaps that's the first time we've done that in years and years, given so much anger on both sides. I'm not sure I've ever been that honest with her. I think something has shifted for both of us. I have simply let go, I am not asking, controlling, inquiring, nothing. She is staying mostly in the tent, although does join us sometimes for meals. She is very quiet. I am very quiet. Not in the angry truce kind of way, in a new, uncharted territory way. It's a little uncomfortable (just because it's so different) but it feels right. I have a strong intuitive hunch that this has to be like this now, me just surrendering to what is, she in the quiet without having to resist me, or anything. I don't know for sure, but it feels right. It feels like that old adage I've heard about growth, 'as you close one door behind you, and before another door opens, you're in the hallway.' The void. Has anyone experienced anything like this? I'd be interested in your input, as always.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Yup. I went through something similar with Nichole during the time when I was trying to get through to her that other people have the same feelings she does. She had said some really deeply hurtful untrue things when she was in a rage toward me. Normally I could let it roll off my back because I knew it was the rage and she didn't mean a thing that came out of her mouth. (to prevent herself from stepping over into physical violence she strove to hurt with words) But that time.......I dunno.......maybe I wasn't in a good place, maybe it was what she said (probably a combo)......but that was it. I didn't even rebutt. I just withdrew completely. I didn't talk to her. I avoided looking at her. I avoided physical contact with her.

    It only took her long enough to calm down to realize she'd gone too far with me. Nichole always regretted the things that came out of her mouth, the things she could recall saying........often she didn't remember about 80 percent of it, like her mouth got started and took on a life of it's own. She always apologized after. But there is a point where apology is not enough. And this was the moment when we reached this point.

    For a couple of weeks she'd watch me when she thought I wasn't paying attention. (I'm always aware of what is going on around me even when it doesn't look like it) Many times she'd start to speak then swallow her words. She looked so said and miserable. Well, I wasn't feeling peachy keen either.......but I was just well, done with that sort of thing. Her entire life I was her number one advocate, always in her corner. You just don't turn on the sole person who is always in your corner. Know what I mean??

    Finally she just couldn't stand it anymore and she begged me to talk to her and tell her what she did wrong. (yes she knew but this was opening the door to talk about it) So we discussed it calmly. By then enough time had passed the anger was long long gone. She sobbed, I consoled. It was one of the times that helped turn her around. I used it to help her realize that while someone may know she didn't mean what she said when she was raging didn't mean that it didn't still cause pain and anger. That was a huge lesson for her, as that was a hard thing for her to learn.

    I am at this point with Katie. I guess only time will tell if she manages to learn from it. If she doesn't.........then I will remain distant. I really don't expect her to learn. Sad.

  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you HD, that is very helpful to hear. I have a new friend whom I met in my codependency therapy group who called last night and shared some interesting insights with me about my daughter. This new friend has experienced very similar issues as my daughter has and gave me the opportunity to view all of this from a different perspective. She said she had been where my daughter is and there came a moment when, in the quiet place, (where my kid is), she was able to see herself clearly. Without others expectations and control and needs, she began to change. It was the first step in the 'right' direction.

    Last night, my daughter came in for dinner after we had finished, I was upstairs at the time she came in the house so I didn't see her. She left a note for me on the counter which simply said, "thanks for dinner Mom, it was fabulous." That may seem like a small thing, but one thing my daughter has not been able to express, especially to me, is gratitude. That note really touched me. I had said to her this week that one thing she needed to try to grasp was the meaning of appreciation and gratitude, especially towards me. When I said that I really did not expect her to get it, but I said it anyway.

    My new friend told me that she extricated herself from her family for about 4 weeks, and in that time, unhooked from everything, free floating, she was able to detach from the people around her and find some internal peace. I see parallels in her life story and my daughters. I also see how my incessant control and enabling stilted my kids growth. I say that without all the guilt and responsibility that kept me stuck, only as the truth. My upbringing was quite punitive so I swung to the other extreme and was permissive, both now considered abusive. It seems that in stopping the patterns we have been so entrenched in, we open the door for a different experience, hopefully, a healthy and positive one.

    One thing that has happened for me is that in letting go, I feel peace and openness. Since Monday, this strange journey we're on has taken on a different tone, I don't know where we're going, but we're clearly on our way. My fiancee, my granddaughter and I are all back to our usual calm and peaceful way of being. My daughter is on the periphery, stepping in and out at her discretion, welcomed but with clear boundaries. Time will tell what this all means.

    As always, I appreciate any insights, stories, comments and ideas all of you warriors may share. I can't express enough how important and valuable this forum has been to me. You have all inspired me. I am very grateful. God bless.
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I've never thought of "the void" but even with-o that name it is a valid area for stressful relationships. Really it sounds like the three of you are in a healthy place and perhaps difficult child will observe and learn. I have to say that your granddaughter seems to be quite remarkable. From experience I know how confusing (and sometimes traumatic) it can be for kids, especially teens, to have a Mom that "follows the beat of a different drummer". DDD
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911

    If there had to be a void in our life? Between my son and myself? We put him on a train, and shipped him three states away to live with a 'wonderful' man he felt I had been keeping him from for 15 years on purpose. The 'on purpose' part was correct, but the wonderful part couldn't have been more apart than heaven and hell itself literally; not figuratively. What we feel as parents and adults that is so plain as the writing on the wall or in my case several police reports kept in a box marked the Ahole file - tucked away, hidden in an outbuilding for a day, someday when my son was what I felt mature enough to handle some of the truth - not all of it for fear he would believe me to be a complete idiot for ever tying to stay and make a marriage work - did not have the impact I hoped it would. See children or in my case my child just could not see the point I was trying to make. The man was a hideous monster, the man was a drug addict, the man had been tortuous, abusive, liar, thief - to both of us. Nope - to the child he was still Daddy - Daddy who was waiting, had his son ripped from his arms and was a miserable, shell of a man waiting for his son all.these.years. Yeah -right.

    So despite counseling, therapy, stable home life, providing - everything I did? Trying over and over to do ALL.THE.RIGHT.THINGS. The kid STILL did what he had in his mind to do - all the years he was at home, and up to the day he left. It hurt, it was painful, I was worried sick - because you don't know my x and the deviant things he can do - and yet in some ways despite his leaving - it was a relief. The stress levels in the house didn't immediately level out. It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. The dogs -and I have HUGE, guardian dogs - walked for years with him here due to the yelling - like frightened animals. They finally came out of their shell. The tensions between my fiance and I (DF) slowly came to a point where we were back to a relationship that was like it used to be, not always encompsing Dude. Thehouse itself seemed to breathe easier - I know that sounds odd to some, but with a difficult child in it - I swear the house seems like Karma isn't just sitting on a shelf - but follows you in your car, to work, even to the post office and you can't escape it - because this morning you yelled about stupid stuff to your son - like socks on the floor - and now in the post office you dropped all the mail from work; on the ground in the rain - and you cry. Nothing seems to get it's mess together -ever. And that slowly changes - lifts a cloud so to speak.

    And then as YOUR life gets back to quasi-normal? You get messages from your kid - that HIS life is going in the dumper. In our sons case? Literally. This is how his bio-Father was feeding them. He knew a restaurant that threw out food and he would get my son to dumpster dive for food. At first fun - then tedious, then annyoing - flies in Florida are stiff competition for food. He never had to fight flies for food at home. Then he had to endure his bio-Father (Daddy Disney, or daughter) drug habits which after so many years of severe abuse - and I mean severe - he was bringing this into a hovel of a house - around our son. I wouldnt' even allow a six pack of beer in our fridge. DF had to keep it locked in the shop in his mini fridge and when his biker buddies came? Even the empties went in the trash in the shop. No exposure. The language, the bad influences, the late nights? NEVER not once - at daughter's house? Constant - police raids - and eventually - Dude left and slept in parks, under benches, under bridges - was starving. Tried to couch surf, but most of the kids he met had parents who were; while not as bad off - similar and their kids had problems and habits of their own - and Dude wanted NOTHING to do with drugs. He started drinking - and twice ended up in the ER - nearly died both times. He sought help at our insistance, but we never sent him money. He'd call, we'd talk. And you could see and hear that he was beginning to realize - Home, rules, Mom, and Step Dad (DF) wasn't really so bad. He said at one point - I really MISS you Mom, I miss just having a Hot dog, and a bath, and a laugh with you and dad in the den. Then he cried. He was on his own - so alone. HE had NO one. Even my ex's family was so messed up - the WONDERFUL family - that would YOU"LL SEE THEY LOVE ME - THEY'll SUPPORT ME - THEY'll BUY ME STUFF........not once - helped him. Not even with a place to stay. Not once did they even go to the ER - or help him with his alcohol problem. When it all fell apart? When there was absolutely no one? He called us - talked to us and worked it out for himself with NO help -
    He got himself straight - he got himself on a path and we talked for hours. Then we offered to help. He does have issues. He does need continued support, and he does realize that there are things in this world that he can be around,a nd things that he can't be around - but HE had to realize that on his own. He had to make those choices of who he could be around and not - on his own. And he needed to see that in his darkest hour - WHO he could count on - and who would be there to HELP - when his life was on the line and WHO wouldn't answer their cell phone - for love nor money.....whom did he really matter to - for no other reason other than love. ?????? When he knew that? He turned himself around......and we chose to lend a hand. One last time.

    I'm not saying don't love your daughter. I'm just saying for us? It was the hardest thing we ever had to do because YES I did worry I'd get a call in the middle of the night from a person I didn't know or a cop ....that would say "Are you Dudes Mother?" Does he looke like? And some nights I slept with the phone under my pillow on loud and vibrate and other nights - I had to turn it I could finally turn my mind off.....and get some sleep to stop my racing thoughts. I still take welbutrin three times a day to f unction and probably will for a whle. No shame in that. I don't deny that at times I wish I still could talk to my old therapist - but wasnt not really so hip on starting a new counselor - been there done that - but the good news is it's free....and available. And I recommend it for anyone struggling - mostly because my DF is NOT my #O*&#ing buddy - he's my mate and should only hear stuff AFTER I've worked it out. Co workers will eventually fade from you if you constantly drudge up a bad home life - and family will run for the hills - or think you're (makes koo koo swirly sign) if you keep putting up with your kids ka ka......So it's better to talk to someone that can give you impartial feed back - then say I've made a few well-thought out decisions about what to do with CHILD X.

    The void? The Gap - The TOugh love? I think if you stay the course? Get support?Eventually you can close it........but you have to let them see - THEY aren't going to get across the great divide unless they are the ones who realize they dug the trench in the first place. The best way to get them to fill it in - is to let them take the dirt from other places (like friends who dont care) and use it to fill in the space between you now and getting back.

    Hope this helps.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Star, yes, your story helps a lot, thank you for taking the time and the energy to write that whole story down, it was very compelling to read. You did a difficult and wonderful thing by letting your son go, and you got a positive response. I commend you for your courage and your loving commitment. Well done.

    My saga is long and incremental,each step of the way has it's own mine fields. Let me say this first, when my beloved granddaughter came to live with me when she was 11, she spent two years imitating her mothers bad behavior, that's all she knew. After that amount of time, many warnings, many lies, much heartache, therapy, and her insistence that she could always go to her other grandmothers home to live, (who by the way is an extremely unhealthy and controlling, unpleasant woman) I let my granddaughter go to another state and live with them for what turned out to be one year. In that time, my granddaughter had what she described as an epiphany and it changed her life. She asked to come home and on her own had realized that life with me was loving, healthy, appropriate boundaries were set, and she was safe and cared for. She came back a different kid. My letting her go, as you did with your son, precipitated her own learning and taking responsibility, something I could not have taught her. She remains a rather remarkable, insightful, mature, funny, loving young girl with great potential to be everything she desires to be.

    Ok, so then her mother, who has been essentially lost in space for 20 years, resurfaces after a number of years of estrangement. She is homeless. Then she gets arrested. In an effort to give her one more chance I offered her a place to decompress and hopefully begin to make better choices. That was 3 1/2 weeks ago. Along the way, I enrolled, (in November, when I could see this was heating up), in a very intense, year to two year long codependency therapy program where you meet once a week for group therapy and educational classes, along with CoDa meetings and private therapy. It has been amazingly helpful.

    My daughter exhibits signs of bi-polar, narcissism, borderline, post traumatic stress, depression and maybe more, mental illness runs in my family, father, sister, brother, niece, nephew, all diagnosed. I have set such stringent boundaries for my daughter because she really doesn't understand anything else, it has been difficult. We set a date for her to leave for March 1st. I am getting good at the boundary setting and detaching from her strange life of simply becoming accustomed to the next lowest rung of human existence. I've gone through all the worry, fear, anxiety, anger, distress, embarrassment, shame, resentment, you name it, I've felt it, and for 20years. The other day we, (my granddaughter, daughter, fiancee and myself) had a family meeting. It went great. Everyone expressed how they felt, mostly about my daughters presence. My granddaughter was brilliant, she said everything to her mother about what she was feeling, my favorite being, "I'm 15 and I make better choices then you do." And, my other favorite, "you need to elevate your standards, in life and in people." When it was over, my granddaughter confided in me that she had said everything to her mom that she ever wanted to say. That is very freeing and she felt good, I acknowledged her for her courage and communication. She really is an amazing kid.

    I felt similar and told my daughter how I felt. My fiancee said one thing, and that was to keep her "friends" these low life guys who look like drugged street people away from our home, he felt protective towards all the women in the house. She said she understood. The next morning we spotted a bike on the front lawn, one of these creeps had stayed the night in the tent with her, the very one my fiancee had asked her to keep away. She had some lame excuse, all of which didn't fly, we said she had to leave by Sat. now. We had another meeting with her, just my fiancee and I, and I really said, not in anger, but in a very clear voice, how I interpreted her behavior and how it impacted me and how I was finished having it impact me. She looked stricken. Usually she is defensive and arrogant, makes it clear that what you say is really not that valuable. We took the house key saying she had made it very clear to us that we cannot trust her. I guess I never said that to her before, she appeared visibly shaken by it too. I said, you can stay in the tent and use the bathroom and eat when we are home and can let you in. Last night I told her she could come in now and eat something and use the bathroom about 4 times between 7 and 10. She kept saying she would come in and then didn't, she was likely sleeping, she does a lot of that. At 10 I said, we're going to bed now. By 10:15 I heard nothing so I turned out all the lights and went upstairs to bed. So she had no food and no bathroom facilities all night. This is all very different for me. My fiancee and I were talking about this, and it's wonderful that he can see all of it, usually I've been alone and it's impossible to describe it to someone else, it's very, very bizarre behavior. I was telling him that for most of my daughters adult life it felt like I was without power somehow, that she had it all. Now, that has shifted, for the first time in my life with her as an adult, I have the power and I know it and so does she. Her behavior does not dictate my life, my home, nothing, I just contain her more and more until she is hardly there. This feels very, very healthy.

    After my granddaughter told her mother all her feelings, and then the following day, after I did that, I began feeling that this time with my daughter spending with us, is less about her and more about my granddaughter and I. It seems she and I have completed something with my daughter, detached, disconnected, moved on. I love my daughter, but I cannot be a part of her disastrous life. I am still willing to give her the next two weeks, since we said we would, but I have little hope that anything will change.

    I told her yesterday that I had talked to a therapist about her actions last year and was told that my daughter had no ability to "future think," and I explained to her how this is one of the many things which keeps her stuck in not handling her life, then creating a drama which she drags others into and then on to the next drama. I said, I no longer respond to your dramas, and what's happened is you have now started to connect with the lowest life forms around who will tolerate you. That is how I see it, unpleasant as that is.

    Each day I get better and better at setting boundaries around her behavior and detaching from her. My guess is that in 2 weeks she will go off to live in her car and then be re- arrested for vagrancy and returned to jail where I imagine she will live in and out of for the rest of her life. The difference for me is that this stay with us has driven the point home that there is nothing I can do, I didn't cause it, I can't control it, I can't fix it, it's not my fault and it's her life. I hope and believe that when she leaves, my granddaughter and I will be free. There is nothing more I can do, this was the last shot I was/am willing to give her and it doesn't look good for any change happening. But, the big change is in me, I've changed in huge ways. It's a gift to have my fiancee there acknowledging those changes all the time, he is a gem and was willing to go through all of this with me, so that I could detach and move on, and with his love and his support, and the support of the therapists in the program, my friends and all of you, who REALLY get it, I have been able to move through this and move out of it.

    I loved the part in your story where your son comes to realize the truth of who really loves him and then he changed, that's beautiful. That's what happened with my granddaughter and I am so grateful for that. I am not sure my own child can make that leap, she has two weeks to begin to see the truth, or not.

    Thank you Star for your words and your support. I'm happy that your son turned it around for himself, it's good to hear that.
    God Bless.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Dear Recovered -

    In your words - I am going to copy nearly word for word parts of how you describe your description of your daughters life and your attitude towards it. Your words were absolutely brilliantly written, and understandably simple to the point that I often convolute in explaination when talking to my son because I tend to get emotional regarding his biofather. But truer words have never been used to describe the life of an addict in my opinion. The depth, the level, the choices - and yet you mentioned nothing about her leaving behind her child. The child just says it so clearly - I'm making better choices than you. What an astounding witness to verbalize to your very own parent. And still - the parent just continues on with her life. Utterly, completely, blows my mind not just with your daughter - but with my ex as well.

    Believe me, I'm very much over the hurt and pain it caused me, and it took a little longer to rid myself of the pain it continued to cause my child - but old feelings were drudged up once again, when he went seeking him out, and his family and got smacked right in the face with a big wad of nothing again. The anger, the rage - all right there and this time no one at all to help him deal with it. My ex even tried to kill my son with a baseball bat - his own son, after NOT seeing him for 15 years. Once again he chose his drugs, and his druggie dregs of humanity over his child. He's in prison now, and will like you suspect of your daughter continue to do so, and my fiance has been along for the ride as well - supporting, loving, not liking much of it, any of it - lol - but still here. Bless him - he's a good man. Bless yours he sounds like a keeper too.

    Thank you for your words as well. You're correct I think this is probably the ONLY place in the world that "gets" us, and our kids and for all of this I am ever thankful. Your granddaughter sounds like one remarkable kid. I think she gets it from her Grammy!
    God Bless you as well - he does our house ever single day!
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I too have never heard of "the void," or hallway...but think I've experienced something sort of like with my difficult child.
    I always heard the expression (can't remember the exact words) go that when you close one door, the other one opens. However, this idea of the "hallway," sounds appropriate and interesting. I haven't experienced anything like this exactly. However, I think in a weird way, I'm in something vaguely like this now with my difficult child (it did not go down like your situation though). She is going through a bit of a maturity, quiet "phase" and this IS RARE and I am MOST grateful. Anyway, it makes sense that there could be some "process" time going on right about now. Ditto to 3D's post for me. Fingers crossed that out from this will come an open door (or at least a window!) And by the way, very glad to hear that you have detached/let go and feel PEACE!!! What a huge blessing!!!