Unfeeling - normal or bad person?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Hopeful97, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. Hopeful97

    Hopeful97 Active Member

    This is really strange. We spent time with Difficult Child 3 different times over Christmas, we took him out for breakfast, gave him rides to both sides of the family celebrations. He was nice and polite, he thanked us for breakfast and the small gift. Dropped him off after everything was over he gave us big hugs and said I Love You which felt good. I reminded him that we will always love him. He had been contacting us sporadically for a few weeks before Christmas - we helped with food a few times.

    When Difficult Child first left our home in September I had no contact at all for 2 months. After first contact cycle started again (rides, money, food) then the disrespect started - I stopped all contact again. Contact for the holidays. I do not want the cycle to start again and I do not want to enable him anymore so I have stopped all contact again.

    Difficult Child came to front door hubby gave him a ride. Hubby is at different place in this journey with our Difficult Child, he is very supportive of me and does not want Difficult Child in or at the house either. Anyway, I saw Difficult Child walking up the street with someone. When Difficult Child first left emotions were terrible, then when I would see or talk to him I would get very emotional, upset, nauseous, anxious (you name it) a roller coaster of emotion.

    When I saw him today I felt nothing, literally nothing. I did not want to see, talk to or hug him. Does this mean I have become an unfeeling mom/person? Does this mean that I am a mom that does not care? Does this mean that I am a terrible mom? I have felt numb before but this was literally nothing.

    I think there will be times when the emotion will be there - but feeling nothing kind of scares me. Is this successful detattachment? Is this normal? Has this happened to anyone else?

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Standing strong, I think.


  2. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I am not clear on why you stopped all contact this time... Was he disrespectful or was this being just self protective?

    I think those feelings of numbness can be just self protection, kind of an armor we put on because feeling the feelings is just too painful.

    For me also those moments have come when I have been angry and then get some real clarity and know what I have to do..... And so in the moment am just calm and clear. The feelings are there in those times but not at the surface. I don't know if this is what you are experiencing or not.

    The fact is I think given what we all have to deal with..... Some of what we have been through with our children is just plain traumatic.... And numbness can be a reaction to trauma.... Again it is a way to protect ourselves.
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  3. autumnd

    autumnd New Member

    No it is not because you are a unfeeling mom...it is because you are done....you are at the end of your rope with your child...you are drained and exhausted...I totally understand because this is how I feel right now..I was questioning myself the same way as you are ......We should be thankful for this feeling of not thinking with our emotions anymore and can do the right thing for our child....letting go...let them fall....let them suffer the consequences for the life they are living....We cannot stop them until they want to stop and live a better life....and damn it really hurts ...but we have to let them be ......and being a mom this is the hardest thing we will probably have to do in our life time.........Wishing you much strength....
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  4. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Hopeful, on my way out but I wanted to write and let you know, yes, this has happened to me, many times. I do think it is a self protect mode, especially during emotional times like holidays. There is a sense of devastation with this journey we are on. Also, if our d cs have been unkind, hurtful, manipulative, and we are just opening our eyes to the reality of what we have been through, I think it is perfectly normal to feel this. It is akin to a state of shock. When we detach, it is a flood of emotions, it doesn't feel right after all the years of nurturing, then we just kind of slide into enabling without even realizing it.
    I think this is a numbing time too, when the chaos and frenzy of dealing with our d cs, and our intense love for them.
    Our heads are numb, and our hearts are hurt, But the heart is ruling over the head.... we are enmeshed in trying anything and everything to help our d cs from the downhill slide they are on. We are sliding right with them, all tangled up with our hurting hearts, not thinking with our heads.....

    Then BOOM, our heads wake up, and it just doesn't feel right anymore.
    So we figure out, that what we have been doing is not working.

    Then we battle, head and heart.

    Head has to win the battle. It is the right thing to do, to let our D cs test their wings.
    To stop the insanity in our homes, our sanctuary, to stop the disrespect.

    Heart goes numb.

    Protect mode.

    Especially for you, dear. Son has tried everything to try to get you back into enabling him.
    He has been very disrespectful and hurtful, blaming, swearing, tearing at your heartstrings, left and right.
    It is a no wonder you are feeling numb.
    It is another part of the stages of grief I have gone through.
    It will be okay. The feelings will change over time.
    Time heals all wounds.
    It is important to know that what you are feeling is okay.
    It is a process of healing.

    You will be okay, Hopeful.
    You are not an unfeeling person, you just need a reprieve, a break.
    A time to rebuild and strengthen, to breathe.

    I am right there with you, holding your hand across cyber space.
    You will be alright. We both will.


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  5. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong" way to feel. Anyone who judges your feelings has never had the kind of Difficult Child those of us here have and cannot understand the storm of emotions they put us through. For me, realization has threw me into a grief process that has cycled many times - anger, resentment, shock, denial, bargaining...and acceptance.

    Most of the time I feel anxious, nervous, and fearful every time I speak to or interact with Difficult Child. I feel like interactions are emotional land mines that are invisible to me and the wrong look, phrase, or gesture will cause an explosion. I always feel relief when it is over. Does that make me a bad parent? No - I have just taken enough abuse to know what to expect if I am not very, very careful - and may get anyway even with all of my tip toeing.

    I question every word that comes out of DCs mouth, looking for lies and manipulations, attempts at guilt, or contradictions. I evaluation whether the "I love you" is valid or a set up for a request later or an "understood obligation" I was accidentally trapped into. Does that make me a bad parent? No, just a trained one.

    I often feel deep sadness, worry, guilt, desperation, hopelessness and self-doubt. I mourn the loss of the child I once had and the potential that has been thrown to the wayside. I feel completely disconnected from this person she has become, and I feel like she is a stranger to me. Does that make me a bad parent? No. She IS a stranger to me, and one of her own creation through her past and continued choices.

    The few, few times I feel numb, I welcome. I wish they would come more often. Does that make me a bad parent? No, just an exhausted one that instead of being trapped in the storm of negative emotions that keep me locked in place and unable to (at times) function in the rest of my own life would rather feel nothing at all.
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  6. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    You’ve reached a good point of detachment. It is normal to have a lack of "feeling" when we get this point. Our hearts have been broken so many times by our difficult child that our hearts develop a callous. It's a way to protect us.

    I had a similar moment when I realized that I was losing any emotional feeling for my son. As he was moving out from our home, he reached to hug me and I did not want to even hug him back. It was a strange feeling to realize I felt differently, that I really felt like I did not want to even see my son anymore, that I no longer really even cared what was going to happen to him when he left my home (And at that initial moment, I thought, “I don’t like to feel this way about my own son, but I just do not like the person he is now. I don't want to be around him or think about him.”) I did not like feeling this way about my own son. This was not like me. And it made me wonder, how could a mother feel this way, and will this feeling ever change back.

    It’s now been almost a couple of months since I felt that initial realization, and I have since had very limited contact and communication with my son since then. Since he’s not been around, I think of him even less, and realize that the only way I will probably ever have the loving, concerned, close or friendly feelings for him again, is if he himself steps forward to want to reconnect with us and have some sort of closer connection. Since we stopped enabling him and asked him to leave our home, I guess he knows there is not much for him to use us for anymore, so he does not come around or want to have much contact.

    For me, this detachment and “not feeling” anymore is a good progress for me right now. I needed to let go of my emotions, fears, expectations, and “feeling” regarding him. I needed to get him out of our house and forget about him and stop enabling him.

    Now, when it’s necessary to communicate, I try just to be matter of fact and keep to the facts and information, and not bring any feeling / emotions (good or bad) into it. He mentioned recently to me (with a tiny hint of friendly manner) to “call me sometime, mom.” He seems to want others to keep up a contact with him, but he never initiates a social / cordial call to us on his own (unless maybe for something he wants . Same old ...) Hmmm?

    Sometimes I do catch myself wondering if he is alive and where he is and what he is doing, but I have released a feeling of worry or concern about it. It is what it is.
    My sentiments exactly. Don't worry. This feeling of "unfeeling" is normal. You are going to be alright.
    It's all good. Take care. ~ Kalahou
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
  7. Coping11

    Coping11 New Member

    I think many parents whose children are as difficult as many of ours suffer from a form of PTSD. Just being so afraid and stressed all the time, going through this emotional rollercoaster, takes its toll.
    And I can fully understand how, eventually, parents stop feeling, or at least restrain their feeling, so they won't get hurt all over again.
  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi Hopeful97, welcome to the forum.

    Looking back and looking at how I am feeling right now with Difficult Child, I have had different periods of feeling intensely about him and his situation(s), and then going numb...back and forth...depending on circumstances, for a long long time. Some of the intense feelings were deep grief, fear/terror, despair, shame, guilt, anger, frustration, impatience. The grieving lasted a long time, and slowly subsided over a long period of time. I would "go numb" for periods. It was an up and down cycle for years. He would be in jail, homeless, on drugs/high, and I would cycle up and down, but if I stand back and look at it all, the ups and downs got less intense and the peaks and valleys were still peaks and valleys but not so sharp.

    The numb times were good for me, but they scared me too. I didn't know what they meant, and I didn't know what that meant I had become or turned into.

    I think it is about survival. I have learned that all people do what they have to do to survive---that is a primal need---them and us. We adjust to survive.

    I believe what you and I and the others on this forum go through is the deepest kind of fear and pain. I have lost a sibling and that was awful, but this was much much worse. It wasn't final, and it seemed go on and on and on for years. It DID go on for years.

    Today, my peaks and valleys with him are still there but the hills are very gentle rolling hills. I can step back and have a bigger perspective about what is going on with him. My son is doing much better, but there are still pitfalls. He was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis C and has some medical problems that need attention and he has no health insurance. I am trying hard to stand back from that and allow him to do the work of truly becoming an adult which means dealing with the reality of his own decisions and experiencing the consequences of his past and current actions. That is still hard to do sometimes, but I have learned the hard hard way how necessary it is for him and for me. I have come to believe that standing back and allowing him to learn how to become an adult---giving him the space and time to do that---is the highest and best love I can offer him.

    So...all that to say...I think you are experiencing the very real feelings that you need to experience today in order to survive.

    And...feelings aren't facts. Feel your feelings, but don't feel like you have to act---do anything at all---due to them. Just let them come, flow through you, sit with them for hours or a day or two, let them come and then let them go...and see what happens next. Disconnect feelings from actions as much as you possibly can (this is a process).

    Keep posting here as much as you would like. We get it and we care.

    Hugs today!
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  9. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    You are beginning to see your Difficult Child as a separate entity. A person in his own right. A young man who needs to figure out his own life separate from yours. You are no longer "mommy" the caretaker/ nurturer, but "mother" a person who can be supportive of his efforts to grow and mature, allowing him to fly from the nest.

    This is a good place to be.
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  10. Hopeful97

    Hopeful97 Active Member

    Thank you all for your feedback. Your words have helped tremendously. I kind of get it that this is part of the cycle and there will be cycles of emotion to go through in regards to my Difficult Child

    It has only been since September since Difficult Child was no longer living with us, maybe part of the reason I am cycling through some things so fast is because of all the stuff that went on in our home before Difficult Child left: verbal abuse on a regular basis just about daily, stealing anything and everything, lying, threatening harm to us and the house.

    The emotions are definitely there as I found out today - Difficult Child called we did not answer - Difficult Child came to house hubby and 1st born talked to Difficult Child gave him some food, Difficult Child wanted to see me, I talked to him, he told me he loved me gave me a hug and left. All took place outside and last only a few minutes. I came back in and was already crying, 1st born just put me in a huge hug pointed out that Difficult Child told him he had place to go today to stay warm.

    It is what it is - I am beginning to see that as you all have said the roller coaster eventually begins to slow a bit and the sharp edges become a little softer - it hasn't happened yet, but I have been going through emotional cycles so to speak just as I have been reading about on this site.

    Thank you all so much for your caring and support.


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  11. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    Yes Hopeful, emotions will come and go. They are still there. Shedding tears and more tears will happen on occasion. However, I have come to understand that often the tears are not really for my son’s life that I was shedding tears, not so much for “his” loss, but for my own loss, mourning our own losses with the realization that our own expectations, hopes and dreams for them will likely never be realized. It’s all part of the grieving process and stages to work through. This is a necessary loss to work through.

    Slow down and breathe. You are alright - hold your detachment boundaries. Just think if you caved, you would only again feel resentment, frustration, helplessness, anger (at yourself? at him?) As you said, you do not want to re-start the cycle.

    Today (Jan. 1st Happy New Year) is the start of a new time, a new era, a new year / a new day. ~ Ka la hou.
  12. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    It will be okay Hopeful. It is far better your son learns early on, that you will not stand to be disrespected and mistreated. It sounds like he is starting to get this message, only time and action will tell. Hopefully, he will get to a place where he is working and providing for himself.
    It is hard when our kids mistreat us, harder still, when they come around and give hugs and " I love you". They sure know how to tug at our heartstrings. You are doing good Hopeful, stay strong and firm. Will be praying for us all that our kids get it and work towards a better 2016.

    ((( hugs)))