Time to Put My Big Girl Panties On

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Hound dog, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    and admit that I had the wrong idea about Katie........her mindset, at least. Seems my last "gut reaction" was based mainly on fear and pain from the past. But I'm a big girl and I can admit when I am wrong about something. :sigh:

    Katie is a difficult child. There is mental illness going on, severe depression and anxiety that I am certain of, probably something else as well. She has physically abused and neglected Kayla and Alex in the past. She is medically neglecting them now. None of that has changed.

    What has changed is that for the first time I know what is going on in her head and what she is thinking and feeling. In order to clean and decorate I had to sort through their belongings and bag/box up some things that were just in the open so they could be stored in the family room. And I will openly without a guilty conscience admit that I snooped more than just a bit while I was at it. I discovered katie's journal and I read it. My house, my rules. And in my house when it comes to dealing with a difficult child, anything is fair game if it increases my chances of being able to help them.

    The journal was started Aug 4, the day they entered the shelter in St Louis. I was told they were in the shelter in June. So 2 months they spent on the streets of that city. It makes me shudder with both rage and heartache. But I did suspect that, so it didn't come as such a shock.

    What did come as a shock was that Katie's mindset is exactly what comes out of her mouth only more profound. As I read the severe depression/anxiety is obvious, but the hopelessness is overwhelming. Often she talks of wanting to change and trying so hard to change and she just can't figure out what she's doing wrong. She begs God to please take the pain of the migraines away and wonders why she can never seem to find relief from them. A frequent theme is for god to please just take her life to let her join her paternal grandfather and her stillborn son Matthew, and asking god why he took them from her. She did not take mother in law's death well, nor the fact that she never got to say good-bye and that seemed to really bring up the wounds that her grandfather and sons death caused. She talks about Alex's out of control behavior and how neither she nor M can seem to keep him under control, how she has no clue how to parent him as it seems nothing works, and how afraid she is that one day he is going to really hurt someone and it is going to be her fault because she is such a failure as a parent. (hmm that sounds familiar)

    In it too are some horrific stories of that shelter they were in. How they'd take their money if M happened to get lucky and they chose him to do some yard work and such on any given day. How she would pray for him to get work. How they would go hungry sometimes for a couple of days even though everyone was "donating" their foodstamps to the shelter.......

    Then there are the desperate hopes that so and so will come and bring a few donated 2nd hand toys to the kids, or school supplies, or clothing and her gratitude if a person actually came through for them, which many times didn't happen.

    The tone was child like in many ways. Not like M at all, but still that was the tone......like a lost child with no one to turn to who could show them the way. Her entries were all written in the form of prayers. Over and over she kept asking god why he was punishing her. The pain was raw.

    She did however own her own bad choices and decisions. At one point in there they had gotten a decent amount of money and it was just so nice to have money again that she wound up blowing it all and beating herself up for it afterward, realizing how foolish it had been. She actually agonized over whether or not to come here, it it was the right decision. There was no mention of wanting to stay with any of the family, or the expectation of it. Just how badly she missed us and wanted to be with us again.

    She stopped writing in the journal when she came here. There was much more that both broke my heart and helped me to understand her on a level I haven't had since she was about 13.

    It doesn't change anything really except my attitude toward her.......while making me feel like a class A witch with a capitol B for my reaction. She dropped the ball on job hunting and shelter calling, she is now enjoying the natural consequences of those actions. I feel like a witch because as soon as I saw them falling back into old patterns of behavior I shut down out of fear of her running, that "man" she is married to, and the pain of the past when I should have bawled them out and pointed out what they were doing as I would have to any of my other children. Then I assumed the worst. Nichole is not the only one in this family who messes up in a big way when they do it. ugghhh

    Whether my reaction was justified or not makes no difference. Katie is sitting up there in dayton feeling like we pushed her away. Because when I said the second I knew they had no money for motel rent I handed her the number to that shelter I'm not kidding. There was no talk nothing, I just handed her the phone.

    I am not making excuses for her. But I know how debilitating severe depression can be and how it can skew your view of reality. I know how crippling utter hopelessness can be even when you're trying hard to claw your way out of the pit, because every bump in the road seems to you to be another big punch in the gut and makes you sink lower. When you're that overwhelmed it is next to impossible to find your way without someone to help you, to call you on it when you're having a pity party, to support you when you've stopped believing in yourself, to encourage you because it's hard, and to guide you because you've lost your way.

    It doesn't seem that Katie dealt with her grandfather's death, which took place when she was 16. Katie's biomom was totally dependent on her dad until the day he died. I hadn't realized until reading the journal that Katie had been as well. She adored her grandpa, but he was sort of an overbearing controlling man......I guess it shouldn't really surprise me. And I know that at that time is when M became her world literally..........to the point where biomom allowed him to move into the home and basically take over. (which we didn't find out until she came here when she was 20) Matthew would have been Darrins age. Evidently she has never moved past his loss either, and losing a child can be utterly devastating.

    So the desire to change is genuine. At least on her part there is no ulterior motive. (no I wouldn't say the same for M) At this age and with her fear of the mental health system, her mindset may be permanent. But I think she came here because she needed a mom. While biomom is not a bad person, she has no maternal skills which is why she called me for every little thing concerning katie.

    So she'll get a mom and all that comes with it. She'll get my shoulder, she'll get support and encouragement, she'll get guidance. I'll show her how to set goals and how to set up steps to meet those goals. I'll teach her to budget. I'll slap her down when she's on a pity party trip, I'll call her on it when I see own patterns surface. I did that when she was 20, but at 20 there was no desire to change, M was her knight in shining armor. I'll even attempt to get her to seek treament to deal with her losses and the depression ect. Either she can or won't do it. I doubt it will take too long to know how serious she is. If the desire isn't real enough to make the needed changes the focus will once again be completely on the grands and removing them from a hopeless situation.

    The other thing that blew my mind was her utter emotional dependence on M. It is all through the journal. I think I get why.......he's been the one constant in her life since her grandpa died, and evidently a really bad constant is better than no constant.

    Her self esteem isn't in the toilet it's in the sewer. She feels like a complete and utter failure, as a person, as a child, a wife, and a mother.

    I'll help, but she still has to do the work. Doing the work, feeling the accomplishments is how you learn to climb out of that hole.

    I found out from Nichole's bff who lives in the HUD apartments they hope to get into that the manager will most likely allow them to fill out the application and submit it even though M still doesn't have his birth certificate, they can bring it in when they get it. Evidently the turn over there is high, so the wait shouldn't be that long. I'm going to encourage her to spend some of her phone minutes each day to call this shelter to check for openings. It's difficult to help her much from this distance even emotionally as her phone minutes are limited and she has to walk to the library (which is some distance) in the weather to communicate by email (dragging Evan along). There they are not getting bus passes and here FRS will transport them for free to interviews, doctor appointments, and even work if they find it. (husband and I will not be toting them around other than to fill in applications and to go to buy food once a week)

    I've given her an assignment to write down the big goals of her life, and for M to separately write down his as well (she's not to help him, I told her as long as he could translate what he writes it's fine...I am used to dealing with Travis afterall) then to write down the steps she thinks it might take to reach each of those big goals. Then we'll go over them and brain storm when she comes to visit. Even if they don't do this, I'm going to talk with them (which means directed mainly at katie). It's time the lines of communication open wide. I have to stop being so darn afraid she's going to run off again, because she can do that anyway, regardless of whether or not I'd do or say what I normally would as a mom.

    My hopes of her changing aren't very high, but I'll give it my best shot to help her.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ok...Baby steps. And Im sending you Cory and Mandy as soon as he gets of probation...lol.
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    may I ask what you were wearing before you had to reach for those "big girl panties" ?
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2010
  4. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    I totally understand your fears and my heart goes out to you Hound - you are one amazing woman!!!!!
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Lisa - after all this - I had a lot of respect for you... Now... Even more. You are such a great Mom. I have no idea how to say it.

    But you know what? You're even more awesome because you can admit that you might have been a little off in your assessment - and correct...

    WOW. I'm just amazed. And a bit jealous! LOL
  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Lisa, I am a big believer that if a child wants to change that I will do what I need to help them. I found that my difficult child can tell you how to do things or state goals but truthfully, doesn't have a clue how to actually accomplish them unless they are written step by step.
    At this point, she is a bad mom, daughter, woman or whatever but that doesn't mean she can't clean up her act. With a safety net of you and husband and your children she can become the woman she wants to be and not just talk about how she failed.
    I don't think your daughter thinks like you or your daughters. Something has impaired her from developing the skills she needs to function better than she is.

    One of the most adult things I learned was realizing when I was wrong, admitting it to myself and those around me and apologizing or change my behavior. It's incredibly freeing isn't it? Good for you for finding a reason to reach out. You know she is going to let you down and slide backwards over and over but if she makes baby steps forward each time, then that's progress. As you say, you are used to Travis. It takes a lot of repetition to move those icebergs.
    Have a wonderful holiday with your family and I hope those kids start to see signs of stability in the new year.
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Fran I believe the same. in my opinion it's my job as a mother. If the desire is there, I've got to try.

    When you said she doesn't think like my other daughters you definitely hit the nail on the head. In many ways her thought processes are very similar of both Travis and husband. Not as bad as Travis in some ways, far more severe than husband in many. And due to my background I know it's going to make me look a tad stupid but until you wrote that it had never occured to me that Katie might be on the spectrum as well, I know she has many of the traits. But when I think autism, I tend to think in the male sense as it is seen far more often in males.......so while I recognized the traits it just really didn't occur to me it might be possible. But it does guide me in that I won't be able to just spell it out for her like I do for easy child and Nichole because it will probably go right over her head. I'm going to have to approach it more the way I do for Travis with lots of explaining and re-enforcement, probably a lot of pushing to get her to try to do things she's afraid to do with lots of praise if she is able to do those things.

    As long as she's willing to do the work, I'm willing to help and be there for her. I figured having her state her goals and steps to meet them was a good place to start. It will let me see how realistic they are, and maybe what skills she is lacking completely. I told her I want M to do his separately for that reason. I'm going to keep them separate, but maybe use a combined set for them as a couple. Because as Katie (hopefully) meets her goals and steps, I hope to give her a tangible picture of M's abilities or lack there of. She's not functioned very well these past 10 yrs, but even given that she has functioned better than she believes she has. I want her to see that, I think it's important for her to learn to focus on the positives and let go of the negatives.

    My focus is not on M really at all. Given his IQ and low level of development and age, not to mention his background, he doesn't have the ability to change in any real sense, although he might gain a few new skills. (miracles have been known to happen) I did tell her she needs to stop filling out his applications for him. She can and should help him, but stop doing it for him completely. If you don't use a skill you don't get better at it. I told her he has to have some ability to read in order to use the computer. Time he man up and start using it, practicing, improving if possible. She needs to stop being the only "grown up" in this relationship and he needs to take on some responsibility and work as her partner. And that doesn't mean just watching the kids and cooking for her. Ehhh we'll see. They've been together a very long time, the patterns of behavior in their relationship are set pretty much in stone. But maybe it will spark her to look at him more realistically.

    Even if she's not on the spectrum...........approaching this as if she is may be a sound way of going about it, if for no other reason it will increase my patience threshold a bit. lol
  8. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Lisa, don't beat yourself up for misjudging her motives. I think you made the same assumptions that any of us would have made, given the circumstances. So instead of being manipulative and looking for a free ride out of laziness, she really IS totally clueless and has no earthly idea how to assume adult responsibilities and properly take care of her family. But the result is the same - right now neither one of them is capable of acting as a mature adult or being any kind of a responsible parent to those children. She seems to be stuck in a child-like mentality where she has never learned to be self-reliant, like a child who finds herself with three slightly younger children to care for and has no idea how to do that. So, like a child, she sits paralyzed and scared and waits for some "adult" to take care of them all and provide the things that they need.

    We all, when our children were younger, tried to ease them in to the skills that they needed to know to function as adults. We hoped to teach them to be loving, responsible parents themselves through our good example. We tried to teach them a solid work ethic, that there is no such thing as a "free lunch", that they could accomplish anything if they were willing to work for it. When they were older and wanted a part time job, we helped them with job applications, and clued them in on how to get and keep a job. And we taught them (or tried to, anyway) how to be responsible with their finances, how to budget their money and how to handle a bank account. And gradually they became capable of functioning as independent adults, making their way in the world without us. Somehow, Katie either missed all of this, or it didn't "stick".

    And like a vulnerable child, she becomes dependent on someone else to look out for her and to provide emotional support, which is why she clings to M. She is stuck in the mindset of a 12-13 year old child! In my opinion, M has aleady progressed as far as he's ever going to! He is not mentally or emotionally capable of being anything other than what he is now - a hot-headed "child" in an adults body, the loose cannon she has chained herself to. With Katie, it would take a lot of time and a lot of patience, but you might be able to backtrack with her and try to teach her some of these adult life skills from the very beginning, like you would with a young child, and whether she acted upon it would be up to her. But still, the dependence on M would be detracting from what she's learning and tripping her up. And he may not want to see her functioning as a responsible adult because then she wouldn't need him any more and would soon cast him aside!

    The "self confidence" thing is the key. I used to work with a girl who was very much like Katie in many ways. This girl is very bright, very capable, holds an extremely responsible job, and has always been a wonderful mother to her two children. But her self-esteem is almost non-existent. She thinks of herself as stupid and incapable of making intelligent decisions about her own life. She has always had to have someone to lean on, someone to tell her what to do and to run her life for her because she doesn't think she's capable of doing it herself. She was raised by very rigid, domineering, unyielding (and I think abusive) parents and learned to defer to them in everything, no matter what she thought herself. She thought they always knew better and she really belived that. When she got married the first time she transferred that dependence to her husband, no matter how outrageous his behavior became, and deferred to him in everything. When they divorced, she remarried and transferred that dependence to the second husband, who was even worse but she was so dependent on him to take charge of her life, she would not leave him. When that marriage ended, she found someone else, someone her parents didn't agree with, and actually lost custody of her daughter rather than give this person up. She was THAT terrified of being on her own and THAT insecure in her capability to live on her own and manage her own life. She is in her forties now and has never, even once, not even for a single day, lived independently without some other dominating person to lean on! It's a very difficult, almost impossible thing to overcome.
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    You are sure the diary isn't a plant? You are sure this all isn't an elaborate scheme? You are sure she is wanting to change? Then my first suggestion would be she get into and continue to attend therapy with a qualified therapist AND have yours and your family support. My thoughts are such that if she is truly ready to be helped? Her attitude will be - WHATEVER it takes Mom. That would be as much as she is able to do with a team of help.

    I'm not discounting your big girl panties, or your heart. I AM however always going to look out for YOU, my friend - as the skeptic - maybe because even with my own kid despite the desperate attempts at change I've hoped for? I'm still jaded, and that color scheme keeps ME from being too hurt - and I wouldn't want it for you too.

    Of course, you always have my best and my love -
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Yeah. I know how difficult it can be to overcome. Biomom is that way. The only rebellious thing she ever did was up and marry husband out of the blue.........she transferred her utter dependence to husband (totally bad idea in more ways than one lol as he was no better than she was). The moment that didn't work out she was back with daddy, who controlled and dominated her even in adulthood to the extent of deciding if the woman could or could not date. ugh He wasn't a bad guy, I met him a few times. I know he loved them but he was in total control.

    And I know that Katie may not be able to throw off that dependency. The hope I have is that actually though she has been doing independent things all along, I just don't think she realizes it due to her extremely low self esteem. M can't fill the role her grandpa did other than emotional support. I peeked at a resume she had in there for him.............he goes to work for about 2 months every 2-3 yrs if not longer. So he's not even been supporting them financially. I hope to guide her into seeing that. And I hope with family support and love, the emotional dependency on him will decrease to the point where she can let him go. That's what I hope for, not holding high hopes because she's been with him since 14 and intensely since 16, that's an awful long time to be that dependent on someone and to let them go. And yeah, she can always latch it on to the next guy. ugh

    It's going to be tough. Katie has never held a job, other than the bob evan's job where she met M at 14. The rest she'd show up the first day and quit. That was here 10 yrs ago when welfare forced her to work to get her monthly check.

    She's got a very long road ahead of her.
  11. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Bought you a thong..........hot pink.. white ostrich feathers...with rhinestones.......Thought those were pretty "big girl"
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Big hugs, Lisa.
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    OUCH! Starbie those rhinestones HURT! Was that karma for something?? :rofl: :rofl: :groan:
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Rhinestones said B.G.P. lol.......