Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
difficult child daughter is angrier lately. She is making decisions that seem rational until the conversation deepens and the reasoning behind the decisions is exposed.

I have been thinking how to write this post.

I don't know what I need from you.

I need to rethink my way out of denial. I need to see what is happening for what it is. I need to face and accept it until it just is what it is.

So let me post about that, then.

Mental illness. The kind where people can be dangerous. The kind where people are scary to live with; the kind where people might not know what is real from what they imagined. The kind where they justify everything they want by blaming everyone else and employ manipulation which seems subtle until you pull yourself out of denial and see it as the bludgeon it was all along ~ nothing subtle about it.

difficult child daughter is living with her ex-husband and their two sons.

I learned yesterday that she threatened, some time ago, to harm the boys and then herself. So, the ex-husband quit his job at that time to stay home with she and the boys.


I said it.


husband does not know this.

difficult child daughter called yesterday crying about how rotten the lazy ex-husband is, about how she needs to get away, and he shouted that in the background until she admitted it was true.

All we knew at the time it happened is that she wanted him to quit his job. She felt there was wife-swapping, and that there was drug use, and that her ex-husband was looking down on her because of the way everyone was talking about her and I get it now that this was paranoia.

Denial is a strange little duck, isn't it.

I knew, but I didn't know.

husband says "Everything will be fine. Stay out of it."

I feel the husband ~ okay, so here's the rest of it. difficult child daughter was badly beaten a little over a year ago. And the male who beat her is responsible for what he did...but. But my fear is that this man too will be pushed to that point.

There were drugs involved with the other man. There is no drug use with the ex-husband.

I don't want to know this, right?

I just don't want to know.

Writing it out has helped me to face it, to sort of put a fence around it and have a look at what it is.

Is husband correct that we should stay out of it.

The conversation with difficult child daughter yesterday began with accusations about whether I had colluded with ex-husband to keep her children's whereabouts from difficult child daughter.

And I had.

And I said so, which is something difficult child daughter already knew. But she was crying and making everything she had done into her ex-husband's betrayal of her relationship with her kids.

The facts are that difficult child daughter was living with druggies, was living on the streets, was drinking and doing drugs herself by her own choice and even when she had her children with her.

The fact is that I bought the kids underwear and socks.

The fact is that though husband and I were giving money and cosigning and et al, difficult child daughter never had enough money and I get that now all of a sudden.

Denial is a strange, strange little duck.

I am really angry underneath, and I have been trying to forgive it.

To forget these terrible things happened.

But they are happening again, so I need to snap out of it.

Anyway, the upshot of the conversation, spoken in that certain kind of threatening wheedling apologetic (whatever emotion will work?) voice is that the tickets we were thinking about purchasing for both kids and their families to come for a visit in the Spring, when airfare is cheaper are...I have been directed, it has been suggested, guilt and dire consequences, along with the phrase on Facebook this morning that I do not know what she is putting up with, that I would never leave her there, would never expect her to stay there if I did...

The upshot is that I should check for ticket prices for she and the kids for now, and that she will do the same.

She wants to get the kids away from the father.

She has wanted this all along.

Christmas is over.

That is why this is happening, now.




Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Thank you, Guide Me.

I think...let's see what I think. I think difficult child daughter is determined, is bullying the ex-husband who never had to let her come to where he was living with their children but who took her in and gave her this chance.

I know it was always difficult child daughter's intention to get the kids and get away.

I think the ex-husband...I think the ex-husband is defending himself from a woman who knows the ropes to the nth degree, a woman who is very bright, very manipulative, totally goal driven and willing to do or say or use anyone at all to get what she wants.


Now, here is another interesting question: What kind of mother thinks such things about her own child.

I have been reading MWM's posts about the different mental illnesses.

I am wrapped pretty cozily in denial around the actual name of things...but it is a name difficult child daughter was diagnosed with when she was an adolescent.

When she was an adolescent and it was suggested that we might choose not to have her come home again.

But I didn't believe it then and I am not sure I believe it now...but I do read MWM's postings on mental illnesses pretty avidly and reluctantly and with a kind of sick fascination.


Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I think she wants her life back. I think she is angry that her children were taken from her. I know she feels badly for herself about the things she has lost or the things she has been through and this is a piece of the change that happens in her when she is not thinking right. Self pity or justification is unusual for either of my children. They are willing pretty much to say what they did and say what they want and hate us right out in the open if we don't do it, but they tend not to do wheedling or self pity.

Does she want the kids.

Not when she is like this.

When she is like this, she does not see the kids.

When she is herself, there is no better mother.

Or daughter, really.

When she is like this...when she is like this she should not have the kids and she should be able to see that herself and that is what I am going to tell her.

That if she needs to get away, then she should go.

Without the kids.

And that isn't going to work, either.

What I did tell her is that, especially in one on one relationships, we all have those times when one of us says something the other cannot forgive and things escalate from there. I told her to talk to her husband.

I don't know the dynamic there except I do.

I don't know the abuser there. Except of course I do.

I think I do.

It's a pattern.

I am sure.




Active Member
When she is like this...when she is like this she should not have the kids and she should be able to see that herself and that is what I am going to tell her.

I think that is a good idea, a really good idea. I'Tourette's Syndrome truthful but very loving at the same time. Does her ex husband want her back?


Well-Known Member
Wow, Cedar, what a very painful situation to be in. It really sucks when there are children involved because then they really have a huge manipulation tool to use against you. Yesterday, at my own therapy session we were talking about action of my difficult child daughter who marks highly on the sociopath scale. My therapist suggested by what we were discussing, that there may be borderline features there as well so I just started researching about borderline personality disorder last night, but with my very limited knowledge, (checklist) I would advise you to look into whether your difficult child may have this PD.

Now, here is another interesting question: What kind of mother thinks such things about her own child.
The kind that cares so deeply about their child that they are willing to educate themselves on what may be wrong with their child so that they may respond to that child on the level the child is capable of communicating (or not) on. The kind that also probably doesn't really want to face reality but finds the courage to do so anyway. Even if you were to discover there is something unfix-able with your child, that doesn't mean you don't love them anymore, it just means you have to be careful and again, realistic with yourself about them. If they are mentally ill or personality disordered, you owe it to yourself and your family to do what is safest for everyone involved even if that means shutting her and her ideas down. It also DOES NOT mean that it is your fault. Here are a couple things I posted on other threads: My therapist says that is why having this kind of child is so heartbreaking. You can be the best mom in the world, have done everything humanly possible for our child and because of DNA (or cases of extreme abuse or neglect) they can not receive what we so much want for them. It is a loss of a child but in a whole other way, one that leaves you feeling that someday (wishing on a star..........)

AND: After reading what you are writing here - some kind of explanation screams forth - perhaps your children inherited these awful DNA genes from these repulsive family members. Maybe everything you have been fighting for/against is just born/bred in the child.
I am enjoying reading your stories (not in a morbid way) because it helps to explain more about how dysfunctional DNA runs in families and there is little to nothing we can do about it. These DNA qualities may have not affected you per se, maybe other siblings (my case) is the carrier of the "awful" DNA. Maybe you, like me, are the survivors, able to rise above the craziness going on around you and have STRONG good DNA that allows you to live a normal life. One way to look at is to count your blessings that it is not YOU that has been dealt the hand of this awful DNA (even though you may have had to continue to deal with it through your difficult child) At least you are not a crazy and hurtful human being! Yes, just being forced to survive it is bad enough, but to have the ability to eventually rise above it shows strength of character for sure.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
She is living with the ex husband now, Guide Me. What she wants, what she is trying to justify and get husband and I to support her in doing is taking the boys and leaving the exDH.

And I might think that would be a good idea, except that I believe, I think I believe, difficult child daughter's illness is escalating. In the past, I did not believe she was ill.

I refused to believe she was ill.

But she is ill. That is a piece of what I need to look right straight at this morning.

Thank you so much for responding right away like that, Guide Me.

I've gone from not even wanting to think the word to admitting what I think I know about what is happening.

Other questions now will have to do with how we want this to look as and when it resolves. I am going to think about that a little bit.

When I have it, then I will know what to say. difficult child daughter will listen to me, I think.

I wonder which medications she is on. That is a good question. Maybe she hasn't been taking them.

How could I have forgotten to ask that question.

It's a hard thing, to make ourselves look something like this squarely in the eyes.

I think I am okay, now.

Thank you, Guide Me.



Active Member
No problem, Cedar. The questions I was asking you were actually me just trying to get to know you and your situation being as I don't know your story that well. There were no hidden agenda's behind them with some hidden epiphany's behind them, lol. I just sincerely don't know your difficult child story too well (other than your signature) and was curious. It's always hard to accept mental health issues. How you feel about the realization of your daughters is how I felt about the realization of my own back a few year ago. I know the shock of it all and sometimes the shock continues years later. I struggle bad with paranoia. Paranoia is one of my strongest bipolar symptoms. Some of the paranoia is justified, most is not and it's hard, so very hard, to tell the difference. The point is, I struggle with paranoia very badly and kind of related to your daughter when you said she was struggling with paranoid thoughts. However, by the grace of God, I can keep it at bay from letting it damage my life in any real significant way. It's just suffering with it silently that is so painful. I'll be praying for you Cedar.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
The kind that also probably doesn't really want to face reality but finds the courage to do so anyway.

Well, thanks, 2m2r.

That feels really nice.

, it just means you have to be careful and
again, realistic with yourself about them.


It is a loss of a child but in a whole other way, one that leaves you feeling that someday (wishing on a star..........)

Oh, yes.

husband says, "This isn't the first time they have been through this kind of thing. There is nothing you need to do. Let them figure it out on their own."

He is probably right.



Well-Known Member
Oh, Cedar. I really feel for you.

Does it help if you change the focus from difficult child to the kids? What is best for those kids? Not likely best to be with difficult child who isn't stable due to mental illness...


Well-Known Member
There was so much I should address, but I'm going to stick to two things. Other's are much better qualified to address other issues.
difficult child daughter was badly beaten a little over a year ago. And the male who beat her is responsible for what he did...but. But my fear is that this man too will be pushed to that point.

If this is not a man who abuses women, he will not be "pushed" to that point. The fact is, my ex, who was NOT a nice guy, never laid a hand on me in anger. He was abusive mentally, emotionally, and even threw things, but he never hit me. I even slapped him right across the face once when he was drunk and belligerent and I threw an iron at his head once (he called another woman and told her he loved her right in front of me - unwise when a woman has a iron sitting next to her. Luckily I throw like a girl). No one in my life has EVER made me that angry - it was NOT a good marriage - but he never hit me. If your daughter's ex is not an abuser, she won't turn him into one.

What she wants, what she is trying to justify and get husband and I to support her in doing is taking the boys and leaving the exDH.

Cedar, it's the lawyer in me, but my first thought was, "Who has custody of these kids?" Some court order must exist. If it's him, her taking them and not going back is a crime.

If it's her...well, sadly that is a different story and maybe one he needs to address.

I am so sorry you are dealing with this.
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Well-Known Member
husband says, "This isn't the first time they have been through this kind of thing. There is nothing you need to do. Let them figure it out on their own."
He is probably right.

The thing here is: in how bad place your daughter is right now mentally? And is it getting worse? How desperate she may come and how desperate measures she may then try? Does she look the best of her children or are children something she sees as part of her or her right to have?

I'm asking these questions because within couple months there has been two awful tragedies with mothers who are mentally ill in my neck of woods. Other one killed her kids and herself and tried to kill/hurt her husband and few strangers. They were not physically hurt, but this woman made it sure the father did see his children die and would blame himself as much as possible. That one was about jealousy, wanting to control the husband and feeling herself slighted. She is dead, so no psychological evaluation for her, but it seemed she had at least some traits if narcissistic personality disorder.

Other mother killed just her kids and then called her husband to tell what she had done. She didn't hurt herself or outsiders. She had had onset of bipolar disorder few years earlier and made a total life style change from business world to being a wellness instructor after that (she turned to Buddhist, became yoga instructor, worked as an alternative therapist and mindfulness instructor.) Her motivation is apparently more about feeling that she wasn't good enough mother, so she waited till husband left her alone with the kids for couple hours and killed them after planning it few weeks. She was treated for bipolar, but medications didn't work too well for her all the time.

These are both morbid stories and ones no one ever can imagine could happen to their loved ones, however troubled they are, but these are stories that do happen, every day around the globe. If you have reason to fear her children would not be safe with her in all circumstances, when it is not something you can just bow out and let them figure out.

Sorry for being this blunt.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
So, this is what is happening. I was popped into the FOG when I learned about the threats difficult child daughter made regarding harming the kids and then herself. This is the piece I would not let myself see and yet, could not leave alone.

But that is the horror in the dark that I was whistling my way past.


The last time difficult child was acting so strangely, we went South anyway, leaving difficult child daughter alone with her kids. husband take on it at that time was that once I was no longer there to take care of everyone, difficult child daughter would step into the mother role I had pretty much usurped.

So, that made sense to me.

(If it were up to me, no one would ever have to do anything for themselves because I would just get in there and do it for them.

This is actually true.)

But oh, boy, is that not what happened. Almost the instant we were gone (and difficult child daughter called to verify that we were actually down the road a piece, though we only put that part together later), difficult child began moving really bad people in.

We stopped hearing from her so much.

Denial played its part there, too. What we did hear, what we did see posted on FB, seemed to indicate that, except for moving one bad person in and quitting her job like, two minutes after we left town, things were fine at difficult child's house.

But that wasn't true.

So, though I did have the police do a safety check, and though I did know something wasn't right...I did not really know something was wrong, either. We had family check on difficult child daughter and the kids twice. Again, something strange, so many things just not right, but nothing concrete.

I considered calling social services regarding the kids, but decided against it.

And learned later that I should have. But it was too late, then.

So that is a piece of what is happening today. I don't want to be a day late and a dollar short again ~ especially knowing the real situation surrounding why the husband quit his job, and why he refuses to look for work, now.

It feels like I should go there, should take my daughter in hand, should protect her and the kids and the husband.

And that is what I need to stop. Those feelings.

That is my issue.

I am thinking myself into distraction. That's a choice. I will consciously make a different choice. I read last night that the way to do it is to yield. Not so much to let go (they boomerang back, those worrisome thoughts), but to yield to the joy underlying all things.

So I am going to hold that imagery. Open, and yield to the joy underlying all things.

Which is true, actually.


The difference this time is that there is an adult male who is neither a druggie nor an addict living with difficult child daughter. Those are his kids. He will do what he has to to protect them.

I can, and should, do as husband suggests.

But I know another really scary secret thing about difficult child daughter and the way her mind works.

And that is preying on my mind, too.

This is the FOG.

Nothing is real until it is real. It is the dread we felt at what happened last time that is driving these feelings.

So, that is a place for me to touch ground and stand up.

It's a choice.



Well-Known Member
I mentioned borderline, again because bells were ringing when I read your post. Here is a link to the borderline personality disorder but remember any mental diagnosis can co-habitate with signs of as is say, Bi-polar with Borderline features:

"Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships."
"Most people who have borderline personality disorder suffer from:
  • Problems with regulating emotions and thoughts
  • Impulsive and reckless behavior
  • Unstable relationships with other people.
People with this disorder also have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders, along with self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides.

According to the DSM, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a person must show an enduring pattern of behavior that includes at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme reactions—including panic, depression, rage, or frantic actions—to abandonment, whether real or perceived
  • A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values, or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality.
Seemingly mundane events may trigger symptoms. For example, people with borderline personality disorder may feel angry and distressed over minor separations—such as vacations, business trips, or sudden changes of plans—from people to whom they feel close. Studies show that people with this disorder may see anger in an emotionally neutral face5 and have a stronger reaction to words with negative meanings than people who do not have the disorder.6


Well-Known Member
So are you saying you are hurting because these are not your bio grand-kids so you can't have a say in their future? And you are worrying about what/how she will react if he just decides to take his kids and move on?

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
"Who has custody of these kids?"

They have joint custody, Lil.

On the abuser issue...I just don't know what to think.

I can't think it right now. I have little flashes of PTSD over what happened ~ over what happened last year, especially.

For those who don't know, difficult child daughter was beaten, a little over one year ago now, and left for dead. She did suffer brain damage, but has made a remarkable recovery.

Truly, a remarkable recovery.

But there are places I cannot think past, now. Too much unresolved emotion. So I have to write through it if I want to get through it.

Thanks to each of you who have responded.

The male was sentenced, I think it was early in December, to four years in Federal prison and two in tribal prison in relation to the beating.

It's all pretty messed up.

The male who beat her is the father of our fifteen year old granddaughter.

And I just get all spacey and overwhelmed when I think about it too much.

Really, like physically ill.

If you have reason to fear her children would not
be safe with her in all circumstances, when it is not something you can just bow out and let them figure out.

This is exactly right, SuZir. No worries on the being blunt part. These are the thoughts circling through my head, too. But I think I have been able to process it through writing it out here on the site. I think the risk is minimal. Possible, but minimal. It is the underlying anger, the whiny justification, even the trying to draw me into it, the determination to see things as targeted and unfair to her...there is something very wrong about the way that feels.

So are you saying you are hurting because these are not your bio grand-kids so you can't have a say in their future? And you are worrying about what/how she will react if he just decides to take his kids and move on?

No, Suzir was right. I am worried for the kids and the husband, too.

These are my biological grands.

If he were to take the kids and bring them to safety, I would be happy he had done so. There were very good reasons I did not want my daughter to know where her children were, at one point in her life.


Again, thanks to all who have responded.

It's a process.


Well-Known Member
Cedar, my beloved comrade (can't think of a better word for us) first of all I want you know I have not had a chance to read any other responses. I just got in from a few hours of work and then shopping and had to carry in some groceries in weather that froze my hands through my heavy gloves. So maybe my brain is also frozen and perhaps I'm not thinking at my best now. I will tell you my thoughts, my friend, and you decide if what I say is valid or not. As you should carefully think over every response and how it is relevant and possible to your situation...

Oh, the gaslighting we put up with!!! Don't we? It makes me us not trust what we hear. Or believe what we hear.

Ok, my first thought is to stay out of it. Seriously. Stay out. Don't bring her home. Her husband sounds like he is looking after the kids. Now if you feel the kids are not safe, shut your eyes and call CPS on your daughter. Chances are sh e will not get into trouble because of just words, as chilling as they were. But maybe they will watch her and she will be more inclined to calm down, knowing she may be under watch. If she says it again, call CPS again. You do not have to be directly involved to take care of your grands. And how could you protect your daughter from assault? Is she never going to leave your house? My kids were assaulted under my watch. And any man can break into your house, assault her and you too. We are not so young and strong anymore. Do you have a gun? Do you sleep with one under your pillow? How will you protect them?

Remember w hen 37 said if I did something he did not like, he would come up to Wisconsin and shoot us? I had to assess the reality of that. With my logical mind, I thought, "He's unstable, but he has never even laid a finger on a gun and is phobic about traveling. He won't do it. But, God, it is c hilling that he even said it." We've talked about that now. In the heat of the moment, who knows what a difficult child will do?

As for mental illness...I talk mostly about personality disorders, which I have read up on for years and years. I'm not a professional, but I do think our adult difficult children seem more personality disordered than classically mentally ill...the type that may greatly improve with medication and therapy. Personality disordered adults do not believe they are different in a bad way, usually have no desire to change, and blame the world for their problems, not themselves. They are hard to treat and almost never get over their problems. Many are absolutely Oscar Level actors and actresses w hen they want us to do something for them. On top of that, they are the best liars on earth. And they will lie to scare us so that they can get their way. Their bottom line is always getting their own way. Since they tend to be empathy-challenged, often they have no problem gaslighting us or lying to us or stealing from us or making up stories to get a means to an end. Even though we are their parents, they do not know how to feel love the way most people do. Some can't feel it at all. Some a little. But their own needs come first. Always.Medication doesn't really help a personality disorder.

At your daughter's age, even with the horrible trauma she suffered, I would let her figure it out if it were me. My own daughter, God help her, was violently raped and assaulted at age eight. The man was never found, long story. She is doing well now, as you know, but that is part of her past. I do not and never did want to let that issue define her. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about such a little girl being raped by a grown man, drunk, disconnected. She felt shame. She didn't tell us because the man told her it was her fault, nobody would believe her, and he'd kill her entire family if he found out she'd told anyone. We found out when she was fourteen and finally blurted it out. In her case, she really is not a liar and I believe her. I know it happened. It makes me more protective of both of my daughters, spite of how diligent I becamse after learning this, the child we adopted molested Sonic and Jumper. I feel like a big fat loser when I think about that. I can not baby them because of guilt. That is no gift to them.

In your post, it sounded more like your daughter was being the abuser than the ex (again, my brain is frozen. Maybe I read it wrong).

Do you want your daughter's world in your world again? Neither of us are young chickens anymore and both of us want to enjoy every single day.

You have a hard decision to make. Nobody can make it for you. But I know you'll think it over hard and make the right choice for you. You seem to mull things over, like I do. You know better than to act impulsively.

Remember, nothing has to be decided right now. You have lots of time. Do it in your own time frame, whatever that is.

And remember to respect your own serenity and peace and that of your husband's.

I've learned to make no decision quickly anymore. And I've heard to think with my brain, not my heart. Heart decisions are usually not logical or workable and end poorly.

Take care and keep posting. I'll read the other responses after some hot coffee, which has my name on it!
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Well-Known Member
They have joint custody, Lil.

There are many types of joint custody and they differ a bit state to state but generally there is joint legal (where the parents have to make child-rearing decisions like school/doctor/daycare/sports together) and joint physical (where the kids go back and forth between the parents homes). Joint physical is what most people mean by "joint custody". The order should state where the kids are to live, which parent has them when.

Regardless of whether it's "one week with mom/one week with dad", or "mom has them except dad gets every other weekend and six weeks in the summer", dad has rights. If mom takes them and doesn't give them back for the scheduled visits, most states consider that a crime and dad can press charges. At a minimum, almost all states would consider it contempt and grounds for change of custody, restricting mom to visits only.

Now, if she's not in her right mind, if she's to the point where she doesn't care about the consequences, it doesn't matter. But the fact is if she runs with them, she could lose them.

Whether that fear would make her more likely to do something rash, as opposed to less likely? Well, that is an issue to consider.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Lil and MWM.

I don't know the details on custody Lil, only that they have joint custody. I think he did not have to bring them to Minnesota when difficult child daughter moved home two years ago, but he did. It was the following December that he came to visit the kids for Christmas in Minnesota and walked into a nightmare. He took all three kids with him. Two are his biological children (little boys) and one was difficult child's then 12 year old daughter from (PTSD blank here) the father who beat difficult child daughter last winter.

What is happening to me is PTSD related. I realized this afternoon that the vulnerability of my grandchildren, thinking about how scary it must be for them to hear all this between their parents, is calling up family of origin issues too.

It's like a PTSD triple decker sandwich.

I am better, now. I am off to Tai Chi.

Again, thank you so much to each of you.

MWM, you are right on so many levels. I do have time. If it had been difficult child daughter who told me about the threat, I....

PTSD block.



Really, I am better. Thanks, guys.