Hi everyone. A little background......As many of you know, my daughter is 43 years old and has not been diagnosed, but clearly has some sort of mental illness. Her husband committed suicide 16.5 years ago and after that event, her life went off the rails, she lost her home, her job, her kids and her sanity. She became homeless 5 years ago and has since couch surfed at different places. I raised her daughter from the time she was 11 years old until she left for college 2 years ago. When things got really out of control for me, I got myself in a 2 year codependency course, lead by therapists trained in substance abuse, mental illness and codependency......it changed my life. In May, I left town to go to visit my mother for Mother's Day in North Carolina. My daughter had just gotten out of jail and again had no where to go but where she had been living which had no water, (the well was broken) and the owner of that home is bi-polar and unpredictable. She stayed with me a week, and when confronted with the choice of either leaving my daughter in my home, bringing her back to the place she was staying or canceling my trip.......I opted to go on the trip and take her back to where she was. A tough choice. She is still there today. That choice ushered in more change. When I got back, my daughter was once again charged with a minor offense and the legal system was going after her. Her usual response to this kind of thing is to NOT handle it, in the past she has gone off the radar with a warrant over her head. At that point, I told her she needed to make a different choice and take care of business, face up to it and deal with it. I told her that I was not going to suffer along with her this time, that if she made any other choice but to face this new charge head on, that she could count me out. I was not going through another 2 years of waiting for the police to arrest her, it was just too much. I told her if she chose to go to court and face it that I would help her, I would drive her and stand with her, but if she made the other choice, I would not be available for any help and in fact, I did not even want to know what happened. I told her she created these messes because she didn't handle anything and I was now taking a stand that if she opted to run, that I would disconnect from her except for the most basic relationship, that I had reached critical mass and I could not do it anymore. She chose to face it. We went to court 3 times and the case was dropped to a misdemeanor with some restitution, but no jail time. She faced up to something she usually hides from and the result was a positive one. She gained some strength from that choice. She did the right thing. On one of the drives to court, I ended up sharing with her how it has felt to me to be so worried about her life, I recounted examples of how badly she had treated me years ago when I was simply trying to help her. I told her how much damage that did to me, I told her, in detail and for the first time how much her choices have harmed me. When I glanced over at her in the car, she looked absolutely stricken. I told her that we did not have a "typical" relationship where we go to lunch, go shopping, talk about our dreams, our concerns, sharing our lives........all without drama and intensity. I told her I would have liked that as opposed to the continuing scary dramas she brings to my door. I told her the truth about how much her choices have hurt me. The next day she told me how very sorry she was, how she never knew how much I was impacted by her life. I know that sounds absurd, but having lived with mental illness my entire life, it is not incomprehensible for her to not have the insight and empathy to truly understand how her behavior would impact another. She took it to the next step and contacted her daughter and apologized and asked for forgiveness. I was dumbfounded. So was her daughter who called me and said she felt cautious and I told her my experience with mental illness with my parents and my siblings and that she needed to consider all the factors because a healthy, "normal" relationship may or may not be possible and she needs to know that truth. I trust that she will do what is right for her, she's a smart and perceptive young woman. And, I will always be there for her to discuss this, she can count on me and perhaps one day she can count on her mother. I don't know. Right now we are both approaching this with cautious optimism. Then my daughter continued to let me know how the truth of what I had said was really hard for her to hear and take in, but she was grateful to me. She then posted a long, somewhat odd general apology on Facebook to anyone she may have harmed. Right after that she called and when I answered the phone she said, "Mom, you sound as if you are waiting for me to say something terrible." I told her that I have been trained by experience that when she calls it is usually about the next drama or awful thing I will now be dragged into. She said, "Mom, those days are over." She proved that the following day when she and I went to our chiropractor and she then invited me to lunch! She has NEVER done that. We went to a small town nearby and did a bit of shopping and had lunch. That was the first day in 16.5 years that we enjoyed each other fully, without any drama. She told me she was now going to go to a Psychiatrist to attempt to get a diagnosis which would allow her to apply for disability. I tried to get that started for her 5 years ago, but she treated me badly and did not follow up. Now she is ready to do it. She has a plan. Last year I thought it would be a good idea to take her to my acupuncturist and chiropractor since she suffers from severe back pain (from the stress of living the way she does) and general anxiety. Both agreed to see her for a very reduced fee (which she pays). Both of them told me last week that my daughter is doing much, much better. The Chiropractor told me that now that her health issues are being relieved, she can "make better choices." And she is. She stopped drinking coffee and soda. She has begun to address getting her car fixed so she can get a job and move out of where she is. When I see her, she is calm and never discusses the parts of her life that cause me stress. She is more positive, calmer and appears to be on a new path to move ahead with her life. The bitterness that used to be on her face......is gone......she laughs easily, her entire face has shifted back to how she looked before her husband died. Some of these changes had begun to happen about 2 years ago, right after I graduated from that codependency course and I began making big strides in detaching and accepting what is. It's been incremental, it's been a process, it's taken time and effort and a commitment to not enable, to not step in and help. It's been hard. But there's been continual progress. Honestly, I had accepted the way it was, I had placed many strict boundaries around her behaviors, I had learned how to actually enjoy my life even when her life was a shambles, I had detached from her in almost every way and I had found peace in the middle of the hurricane........I had really not expected anything to be any different than it had been.........and now it is. For whatever reason, it appears as if she woke up from the nightmare and is making strides to change it. My granddaughter is doing extremely well. At 20 years old she's taken control of her life. She has moved into adulthood and I am now simply her touchstone.......I had a bit of sorrow about letting go, but this is what she is supposed to be doing now.......this is healthy and positive. I retired in December of last year and I now understand why everyone told me to NOT make any life changes before a year, this process has it's ups and downs. I felt a good amount of grief which I think is linked to not only retirement, but letting go of parenting my granddaughter and the rather large shift with my daughter. Even though these are all things I wanted, they are also big changes and with changes like these, there is grief, a letting go of what was. I've gone through a real emptiness, a sense of not knowing who I am and what I'm supposed to do now. Fortunately, I've moved through those stages and am now feeling quite good. Hopeful, open to new possibilities, ready to fill up the emptiness with what I love. I began a new dietary regiment which has worked out very well. We are essentially vegans, no animal products. We do not eat any sugar, dairy or gluten. We exercise and hike a lot. I've always been a sort of health nut and I used to think "when I have the time, I really want to devote myself to creating a very healthy lifestyle with a clean diet, proper exercise, meditation, yoga, all the things I know that promote health." And, I'm doing it!! I've done a lot of research lately on "clean healthy living" and I find it fun to implement my new ideas. If anyone is interested in finding out about a whole foods, plant based diet, a good place to start is the documentary Forks over Knives which you can view on Netflix. It's very good and offers a lot of information. I'm so enjoying creating this new lifestyle! With my granddaughter happily on her life journey, my daughter managing her own life in productive and healthy ways and all the time I now have to do what I really want to do........I feel a ton of gratitude. There were whole years where I thought the pain and the suffering would never let up, where I thought I could not go on for one more minute, where the sense of powerlessness and fear was so great that I was withering underneath it all.......but it did change. The major shift was making the decision to detach from my daughter .........I needed a village to help me do that, it was the hardest thing I have EVER, EVER had to do. I thought it would annihilate me for sure.......instead, it opened up new doors ..........and as I let go, she stepped up to the plate......each and every time I let go, she shifted her stance and took hold of her life. Every small and large step back that I took, she responded in kind by stepping up. I don't know that that works all the time, but it worked for me and all those therapists in the codependency course told me that they had seen that same scenario unfold in the same way in almost every case with mental illness and substance abuse. And, it cannot be overstated that it is the hardest thing for any parent to do. My story is not unlike many of yours with adult kids who've gone off the rails......I chose to go about detaching, letting go, accepting, recognizing my extreme powerlessness in being able to control or change anything about anyone else's life......it sure isn't easy, in fact, it's extremely difficult, which is why I always advocate getting professional help, a therapist, a support group, NAMI, 12 step groups, whatever and wherever you can go to get help. In my opinion, this is almost impossible to do without A LOT of help. As parents we are spring loaded to continue to try to help our kids, but with some of our kids, that help is detrimental to them and to us. I feel very fortunate that I found the help I needed to make the changes I did. I am so grateful to have landed in this new place.......Now it's time for me to have my own life.........stay tuned.