And yeah, I know, that's sort of counter productive to detachment. I'm still plenty detached. But I do sit and wonder, think about her........wth is up with her........and every once in a while wonder if I dropped the ball, so to speak. It's not that I think I can "fix" her. I'm pretty darn doubtful she can be helped much at this point. Yet there is this nagging thing that won't leave me alone about her, a "you're missing something important" thing. I have no desire to "fix" anyone. I have more than enough of my own problems to keep my plate totally full. Sometimes I wonder, if because we all got so burned by her a decade ago, if we really just waited for her to be the same way again so that we could maybe say "see! it's the same old same old." A way to keep our distance, to protect ourselves from being hurt like that again. A sort of "we forgive you.....BUT" situation. Always 2nd guessing her motives on everything she said and did. And let's admit it, that's not really how you treat someone you've forgiven. I know you're not supposed to forget. And I do feel that is very important. But you at least need to give the person a fair chance IF you're really going to forgive them. Of course with a difficult child, this sort of thing gets even more complicated depending on what you're dealing with. M I have pegged pretty accurately. He's like reading an open book. He's not, at least from what I know of him at this point, totally evil. (he might be and I just don't know it) But even he has some good points.........few as they are. When thinking about Katie, there are a few scenes that play over and over in my mind. The most prominent one is him sitting at my kitchen table and sharpening his switch blade in front of her and the kids.....the look in his eye when he did it, the unspoken message there. Also the way he hovers around her......it's like he wants to be glued to her hip. How if I picked her up to go somewhere, he just had to come out into the yard every single time to "see her off", often making a huge show of kissing her good-bye. (especially when her dad died) He'd hover when I dropped her off again too. I have more than my fair share of experience with DV to know the signs of an abuser. And heaven knows Katie's self esteem has been in the toilet nearly as long as I've known her, and any will to fight back was dissolved in childhood. Katie tells me her grandfather was super strict and what she described as punishment is actually physical abuse. She adored her grandfather, but she was utterly terrified of the man. It drove M totally bonkers that he couldn't intimidate me whatsoever.....he couldn't even manage to get a reaction out of me. While the kids were here, and later after they moved but hung around quite a bit......I did see katie start back talking him. It shocked me, because seriously........she doesn't do this to anyone, ever, for any reason. I'm pretty certain when we took her on lunch dates it peeved him off in a major way. I know following each one we didn't "see" her for quite a longish time, and messages would be brief. Katie would rarely call me, and never for conversation. It was always emails and fb messages. She rarely said anything of substance. It was 99 percent of the time about the kids, and it repeated itself so much that you almost didn't have to read it. Katie has never once, not a decade ago, not since we've been back in contact, asked me for anything. Ok, there are a few exceptions to that, but in my opinion they're fairly reasonable ones. A ride to IEP meetings or to register the kids for school, some job runs, husband picking them up in cincy when they came on the bus. But she never asked for money. She never asked for anything I bought the kids. Never. She never even asked to stay here when they arrived broke, and tried to hide the fact they were broke and had no where to go. She never asked anything of her siblings either. Now I live by my own moral code, and part of that is giving someone........even a difficult child........a fair shake based on actions, not necessarily the words that come out of their mouth. (because I learned long ago what people say and what they actually do are not always the same thing) And I've had plenty of time to see that I didn't do that with Katie. I *thought* I did, but actually I was reading too much into situations because I simply didn't want to be hurt again. I'm not saying I was totally inaccurate, but still.......for a lot of it, yeah. I'm not saying M's motivations were pure and honest and good, because I know his type and I know the exact opposite is true. His body language is so openly blunt it's just not funny. But to put his motivations onto Katie (guilt by association) is not really fair to do. So maybe she did come here hoping and praying for all the same help she had last time. Is that unreasonable? I can't say I really blame her. And when I make myself think about it.....if she's got even a glimmer of hope of escaping this relationship with M......by now I'm sure she's figured out she can't do it completely alone, she'll need help from other people. (not necessarily family) It's not really unreasonable that she'd want to be close to her family. So, she was probably hoping for an inheritance from mother in law. In all honesty, this doesn't really make her greedy or a vulture either. It wasn't even an unreasonable expectation given that as a child, mother in law spoiled her rotten just as she did the other grandkids.........and up until later years, mother in law had a great deal of money. And I'm certain biomom talked to her about the china and silver that were to be hers someday, and she could just as easily filled her head with assumed cash inheritence as well......as far as biomom was concerned, mother in law was "loaded". Still, she hasn't asked about it. She hasn't even asked about her own china and silver. But outright ask someone for something? No. Even the time I took them food she called asking if they were going to the right food pantry because they received so little food from them, she was hoping there was another M could walk to. She didn't ask me for food, for cash, nothing..........not even to give M a ride to go get the food. If I chose to force myself to re assess the situation/katie objectively (based mostly on her behavior) she's not really asked for a darn thing. Expected might be a different thing completely. But to "expect" certain things from family in my opinion isn't a "wrong" thing necessarily. I wonder if she wasn't expecting us to help her find the courage to finally escape M, to actually make that new life she dreams of. And she might not even know what she expected, but when you look at where they were at in Mo, she had pretty much nowhere to go but UP. Now I'll grant you, I can in no way "fix" this for her. And if that is what subconsciously she was expecting, then she's out of luck. And we've had to drag most social interaction out of her......which is one of the reasons we got fed up, because she never instigated social interaction, we always had to do it, often unsuccessfully. If I stop trying to read motives into her actions and just look at Katie as Katie........even the social interaction thing is in character. Biomom discouraged any real social interaction Katie might have with other people growing up, and in many ways isolated her so that Katie would basically only have her to care about. Biomom's biggest fear has always been losing Katie. The only time Katie showed any rise in self esteem and self confidence was during summers where she stayed with us extended periods of time. And the change in her was so drastic that a close friend of her biomom (katie refers to her and grandma/biomom thinks of her as a surrogate mother) really tried hard for the longest time to get us to sue for custody of Katie. Katie herself has told me that all during her childhood biomom would tell her that we really didn't love her or want her to come visit, blah blah blah. In fact, she still tells her this. It's the insecurity thing. Katie told me years ago she felt "abandoned" by us when her grandfather died and her mom basically checked out for a year (this is when M latched on to her). But as an adult she does intellectually understand that we had no knowledge of what was going on at that time because they'd cut off the phone and we had no way to reach her. So there is a "trust" issue that has been going on for many years. And a "do they really love me" issue. And I'm sure that is only complicating things. Honestly? This whole situation is complicated. I'm not saying Katie isn't guilty of certain actions/in actions by any means. She is after all, a difficult child. She has her issues and there are plenty of them. I can come up with 3 easy dxes for her off the top of my head. Borderline personality disorder (minus the anger, but I see much of what I went through with Nichole going on here, or maybe the anger is vented on the kids.....I dunno) Anxiety which is pretty severe. And depression which probably stems from many different sources and is fueled by the first two. Take these 3 dxes and add in a DV relationship that started at age 14........And you get a pretty messed up lost person. A person who, in many ways, never had anyone standing in her corner. No, I"m not making excuses. I know I've tried to help. But 10 yrs ago I didn't know how to help the right way, I was trying to "rescue", to fix it for her, when I didn't quite realize just how deep the problem went. Even then, I read more into actions than I probably should. Yes, I her apartment reeked of meth, no doubt. But I don't know that she ever did meth. It could've easily just have been M. It's M with all the symptoms / signs of a meth user.......the teeth, the gauntness, yadda yadda. Yep Katie is thin where weight used to be a major issue, granted.....but that could have other causes with nothing at all to do with drug use.....such as lack of eating due to lack of money, depression blah blah blah. (Know what I mean??) I've only had one time when I strongly suspected she was under the influence of something, when she had a car accident, but obviously the police/ER staff didn't suspect anything or find anything in blood tests if they tested her. Yes, I did see her be abusive/neglectful to kayla. But there could be an explanation for that as well........and I obviously didn't respond correctly to the situation. (not taking blame, stating a fact) Could have easily been postpartum depression, stress (and she was under a lot of stress/fear during that time believing M a major threat and he would find her) any number of things. Not excusing that behavior by any means, it's not excusable. Just trying to look at it more objectively. The "dropping" Alex on his head repeatedly. This might have been just plain abuse. This might have been M abusing too........and all those weird phone calls over it might have been her way of crying out for help. OR could have been something to do with a deeper mental illness, postpartum depression again. Dunno. But that never made any sense. Who "drops" their newborn on their head repeatedly then calls someone (me) to tell me about it each and every single time?? But I know now that biomom and M were both working hard on convincing her I was trying to take custody of Kayla and Alex, and that was one of the reasons she ran. Under those circumstances............her running, doesn't seem that unreasonable a reaction. Why? Because I'd have done the same thing. This time? We didn't do much better, either, did we? Nope, it wasn't all our fault. Some had to do with circumstances, such as her having to go to the dayton shelter. But a lot of how we responded to her was based on that past hurt. And I'm not proud to say we weren't exactly fair to the girl. M's motivations came across loud and clear. But we don't know, and based on her actions, we have no reason to believe that those are Katie's motivations. In all honesty, her behavior coincides with someone in a DV relationship as a victim. She has the "victim mentality" because she IS a victim. She responded when we reached out to her, but she couldn't / wouldn't reach out on her own. (borderline/dv thing) When Nichole read her the riot act prior to husband's heart attack, she withdrew.........and I'm betting with the hope we'd follow and pull her back. With the excuse for the halloween party, same deal, we were to prove how much we cared. She withdrew because her only (in her eyes, reinforced by biomom and probably M) tie to us was gone. So she pulled back first, to reduce the hurt, from what she viewed as inevitable. And of course it couldn't just be that simple.......because there was also M pulling his photo stunt yadda yadda stirring that pot up but good to re alienate her from the family again. And so once again.........Katie "seems" to have no one in her corner except M. Just how M wants it to be, to keep the cycle of abuse and control going. Maybe I'm wrong again about the DV, but honestly? It's just too out there, too typical, too in the pattern to believe it's not a major factor. I get smothered in red flags from M, Katie, AND the kids. If it weren't for husband's death, I'd probably have really seen this ages ago. I was beginning to right before his heart attack. It was one of the reasons that Halloween party idea started. I'd decided to do more active things to build a real tangible relationship with Katie, despite M's efforts to keep it from happening. If Katie is an addict, abusive parent..........whatever, those things will come to light on their own. You can't hide them forever if that is the case. Having 9 months out of the situation again has given me a different perspective on it. It's given me time, without an emotional connection, to review it and my own responses more objectively. I'm not saying she's the innocent "victim" and we're to blame by any means. I'm just saying I believe I read more into what was going on as far as Katie, than what probably was actually going on because it allowed me to keep her at arms length in order to protect my heart. I saw clearly M's motivations, and assumed they were also Katie's. Which is wrong. Dv situation or not. So. Being a person who is not afraid to admit when they've screwed up, I think I can swallow my pride and stop waiting for an "adult" apology I'm never going to get. I'm, in many ways, not dealing with an adult. I'm dealing with a 14 yr old girl inside a 32 yr old woman's body. So it's not really "fair" of me to always expect her responses to be on an adult level. She's really never had a chance to be an "adult" in any real sense of the word. First controlled by her grandfather and mother, then mostly by M with biomom tearing her down for basically the same reason M was doing it. She's stuck in victim mode because she doesn't know how to get out of it. It's been the vast majority of her life. I think her desire to escape it is real. BUT she doesn't know how.......and fear of the unknown is crippling her.......with some pretty huge doubts of her ability......and probably some pretty huge fears of what M would do should she try to end the relationship. I can't fix it. I really don't even think at this point I can "help" her per se. I could show her some of that "unconditional" love we non difficult child moms are so good at though. I could work harder at building a real tangible honest relationship with her.......regardless of M's attempts to prevent it. I could give her someone she can honestly actually count on, no matter how tough things get. I can't do it for her in any form. But I can give her encouragement and support, help her build up her faith in herself, learn to recognize her ability, fuel that desire for a better life, believe in her when she doubts herself. I can allow those grandkids to know what family does, what it really means. They are, after all, the innocent in all this. It's easier (in a matter of speaking) to throw up your hands and give up on someone to protect yourself, in many situations it's even a reasonable solution. Katie's situation though, is really not that serious to warrant such action. It's not like I'm going to go broke throwing money at her, or like I'm going to beg her to move in with me or something along those lines. I learned those lessons the hard way. So the only thing I'm investing is my time and my heart. I know DV situations can be really tough to leave, for many many different reasons. The main one being fear. Another one is that the abuser usually makes the victim feel at fault. I've seen it within my own family. And I spent literally months living in a DV shelter (for a different reason, but they felt it a good idea given the circumstances), months talking to the victims who came and went, months in the same therapy sessions listening to the stories of their lives and how their abusers kept them under control, mentally, physically, emotionally........I saw women who returned and one or two who lost their lives due to it........I saw some leave, go back, and leave again......I saw success stories. But what I saw mainly was brainwashing that is really hard to undo. It can be done, but it's a slow process because victims over the course of time are literally taught not to trust another living human being... Another thing I saw was the younger the abuser got a hold of his victim, the harder it was for that victim to break free. I also know that often the victim's family start placing blame on the victim due to unknown background manipulations that are going on, and because the victim just won't leave. I have no intentions of "helping" or "fixing" or whatever with Katie's situation. Shoot, even if I wanted to, I wouldn't be of much help.....I'm just barely surviving myself and only strict money management skills are keeping afloat, so no real threat of her "taking advantage". I just feel like it's more than high time I gave the girl a break and gave her a fair chance at building a real relationship. Not because I want to be near the kids. But because I want a relationship with Katie, if that is possible. The grandkids are an added bonus, so to speak. I will work hard on trying not to read things into her behavior and take it as I see it at face value. She might prove me totally wrong. And well, honestly.........that's ok. Because I'll know I gave her an honest chance. I don't know a fraction of what Katie has lived through or what her experiences have been because she has never trusted me enough to tell me. But the fraction I do know is those she cares about always playing manipulative head games with her in order to control her. In that context, her behavior doesn't seem quite so odd. I don't want to control her. I just want to love her and see her happy. So I"m going to write her and we'll see what happens. If she rejects me, then I gave it a shot. I lose nothing by trying. I can detach from the M situation. If I feel the kids are in danger, I'll make reports to proper authorities and let it go, as obviously talking to her about it has no real effect. But I feel like I up and abandoned the kid when she really needed me. And that just will not sit well no matter how I try to justify it as detachment. Right after husband's death.....yes, I needed time away from her drama to heal. Now? Now I'm "me" again and there is no excuse. I'm a mom, but I'm also just another lowly human being doing my best to travel the right path down life's often confusing road. I make mistakes (usually huge ones) but I also take responsibility for them and try to correct them when I realize what I've done. It will be what it will be. I only have control over so much.