What happens after the wars are over?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by recoveringenabler, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    OK, so my difficult child is off in her new world, hopefully pulling it all together. I think she is. Granddaughter is doing very, very well, just had her 16th birthday and couldn't be a happier girl. Sister, whom I raised, who isn't talking to me now, but is doing well in her life nonetheless. Mom, whom I've felt responsible for my entire life is presently living with my one 'normal' brother, after staying with me for two years after her husband died. One by one, over many, many years, all of those I've taken care of and pushed out of the nest or rescued, or enabled, or supported or helped or just plain held up while they were down and out, are all GONE now. I knew this was coming, and really, I thought I would be doing my happy dance all over town! Instead, I find myself tired, irritable, feeling empty and odd. Talked in therapy group about it last night, just felt like crying. What's up with that?

    I don't know, I also have this big urge to move all the furniture around the house, change this little room that Mom slept in, into a room for me. Maybe claiming some space for myself. Feels like a real big transition, not only from going through all of the letting go of my difficult child, but just from all the years of care-giving. Just wading through it, slogging might be a better word, ......talking to my girlfriends, talking to SO, who, gratefully, is always a big support. I believe it's all ultimately positive and healthy, just feeling a tad strange and don't have much extra energy. Happy it's Friday so I can just rest and take it easy for the weekend. Feels empty inside. :sigh:
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    Sounds like empty nest syndrome. You've come to a new place in your life and although you've been wanting it and looking forward to it, it's different, so it takes quite a bit of getting used to.

    Change ALL the furniture around especially if you have the urge to. It will give you a clean slate and a fresh start, and maybe even spawn the ideas of what you will do to fill all your new found free time.
  3. Star*

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

    I don't know if this will be helpful - but this is what I went through after the "war".

    Where there was no turmoil? I created it.
    Where there were no battles of words? I picked and picked until I got a verbal altercation.
    Where there was no stress? I found ways to stress myself.
    Where there was no emotional fall out - I had it because I created turmoil, I got verbal with almost anyone, and I had created my own stressy-hell.
    I saved more pets, because it created more drama too - and actually for someone so solitary and very private and I mean VERY - I found myself trying to give advice to everyone about everything - and it was annoying. You think you're helping -filling a void in your own life and all you're doing is alienating a lot of people and don't realize it. I have had so many bizzare life experiences and so many things go on in my life that exposed me to so much more than I would say most people by anyones count - I just wanted to help. I didn't realize I was a problem junkie.

    Sounds REEEEEEEEEDICULOUS doesn't it? Nope. Sounds N.O.R.M.A.L. in my house - or rather what I was USED to.
    Think about it.

    All these years I had MAJOR stress, anxiety, trauma, and lived a life that few people would ever understand and some wouldn't have survived. I got lucky, I got out. Then I took my son, hid and figured life would be great and it wasn't. It was almost worse without beatings and torture. So the "IT" factor was what I lived on until I had a stroke, and literally driving down the road one day started laughing at a bumper sticker that said (AND I SWEAR IT DID) REAL MEN LOVE CHEESES. It said in actuality Real Men Love Jesus. The laughing like that? Like people you see in insane asylums in the movies all that crazy laughing? You know what that really is? It's the body's way of protecting itself before the cheese really DOES slide off your cracker (right hand up) Because it scared my DF and son SO badly - DF pulled off the side of the road and was about to pull me out of the car and literally slap my face to get me back into reality. There was nothing funny about the bumper sticker. They saw Real Men Love Jesus. I saw Real Men Love Cheeses. I'd been dealing with a son in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) that had just gotten out of a locked psychiatric hospital for six months, and it did no good - and before that about ohhhh I dunno eight others, my son was now a convicted felon for burglary and conspiracy awaiting trial, and in the mean time? We moved him to a boys home, he got his jaw BROKEN in 1/2, he had to have emergency surgery - the place didn't take him to the hospital - they choked him. WE went and got hm, they threatened to sue US...for trying to get the boys name that broke his jaw...the oral surgeon said my son could be MULE lipped for life and we had to by ORDER OF THE STATE take him BACK to the childrens home after he got his medicine and exam.....so yup - driving him back to the place? I literally lost it.

    The next day? I had the therapist appointment, told him what had happened. He explained. I told him when I had the stroke it felt like an out of body experience before I went almost completely to the ground and he described that too. So to recap - I'm having strokes, I'm loosing my mind and my body because of who I am is trying to LAUGH to save my mind. Interesting.

    After it was over - after Dude was gone.....for a couple months it was great. I thought WOW this is nice. The dogs still tiptoed....and skirted the walls - 140 lbs bulldogs and 70 lb pitbulls.....what a shame -= the yelling was too much. And after about three months DF said I was combative. WHAT? I am not. I too rearranged furniture. In my mind? If I moved furniture it gave me a fresh start, my OWN way of seeing MY house. Not memories of THEM in it. So I did....and I liked it clean - I move, I clean - it's clean? No memories - COBWEBS and DIRT - out - FRESH, CLEAN - DO OVER......nice. CLEAN SLATE.

    And that's good - keeps you busy - but what doesn't work is trying to imagine that the stress is just going to disappear, and you're going to be JUST FINE if they leave. It's no different than if you're a victim of domestic violence. A lot of people think if the ABUSER leaves the relationship then it's over. NOT. The abuser leaves the PHYSICAL aspect is over, but the mental scars are there and the brain will try to reroute itself to get back to what it KNOWS - what's FAMILIAR......we like FAMILIAR - we're not so crazy as humans about NEW, UNKNOWN.....even if it's BAD.....that's why so many women STAY in abusive relationships. It's easier to stay in a bad one - that NOT know what's ahead in a good one - that is until she's dead or has had so much of a fill she doesn't CARE what is ahead and finally leaves.

    In this case? You're doing the way right thing. Therapy, group - RECOGNIZING that you are having moments of upset and NOT allowing yourself to get that OVER the edge with the way things were and trying to replace those bad emotions - is really really good.
    The other thought to us is that it's happened SO DOG GONE MANY TIMES - that this could just be our way of defending ourselves.......against - OH GOSH IF IT ALL COMES BACK? I'm prepared - see? I didn't allow myself to get comfy!!! - IN this case - it's the difference between DETACHING from your daughers problems (which you are working on for the first time in your life - CONGRATS) and that's that area of uncomfortable I don't know what this is......and I think I don't want to go back to the old ways - but it's what I knew/know.

    You're a very intuitive woman - What you realize now is what it takes many people years and years or months to figure out and before they know it - they've hurt a lot of things, and others. In my case DF had NO CLUE what the heck....he just knew I needed to talk to someone and called the therapist and said "I have NO idea what's wrong with her - but shes not herself." and RELUCTANTLY - and GRUMPILY I went - and when I got there -I was never ever so glad for him calling - I really needed to figure this out.

    Hope this helps - it may not all pertain to you-----because well, I hope if you see a bumper sticker about Jesus it doesn'tmake you pull off the road in hysterics......but somewhere in all this maybe a small bit of help.

    Hugs & Love
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Star, let me just say this, when I see any post of yours, but in particular, one to me, I get comfy, take a breath and think, I am about to hear some real straight truth, learn something I didn't know, probably laugh out loud, gain insight and end up feeling good. You are such a wonderful gem, thank you for that post.

    You have certainly lived a few lifetimes in this one, and yikes, some of it pretty horrific. Perhaps that's the connection I feel with you, I feel as if I have been in a similar life, just with different horrors. Growing up surrounded by mentally ill people made my childhood unpredictable at best and terrorizing at its worst. Being the oldest put me in the position of being the caregiver for everyone, no small task when you're 3 1/2 and are called upon to grow up and do things way beyond your abilities. That was when my childhood ended. I felt afraid all the time. I was anorexic in my twenties. Fast forward to the early 90's where I lost my home, my career, what money I had, my relationship ended, my Dad died, my animals all died, friends left and I was stranded with NOTHING. As I began to crawl out of that space (5 years) my son in law committed suicide and my daughters life spiraled out of control. I was again asked to step in and take care of everyone. My health failed, I couldn't even get off of the couch I was so exhausted, adrenal fatigue and literal burnout. I went to a support group one night, just seeking a moment of peace, and the first time there I broke down and cried for 2 hours in front of total strangers, that's when I realized, I am in very bad shape. Perhaps, that was my 'Real men love cheese' moment..... I sought a lot of help after that night. For me, that was the closet thing to losing complete control.
    I went to court to get guardianship of my granddaughter and had to fight my own daughter, I didn't have enough money for an attorney so I did it all myself. My (then) husband left me because he didn't want to raise another child. I spent a year in the courts, which was so incredibly stressful and so very sad. My granddaughter acted out for two years while I tried to piece my life back together and my difficult child went further downhill, losing her job and then her home and then, finally her sanity.

    There's a lot more in between but I would be here for weeks writing it all down. My therapist (I've had 20 years of therapy)told me that the more she knows me, the more she finds out how traumatizing my life has been. She said something the other night about how codependents are motivated by fear and when they find themselves happy, they are internally waiting for the other shoe to drop. Along with what you said, this is all making a bit more sense to me. I have been systematically making every attempt to have a different, more peaceful life. My SO coming along and just being the nicest guy in the world and loving and supporting me, has helped enormously. My granddaughter getting over her rebellion and punishing me for her mother's deeds, has ended and she is now a delight. (Lots of drama, therapists, sorrows and pain through all of that.) I have a whole new life and I've gone through a lot of letting go, especially recently, of my only child. That really was the final piece for me, of the old life of caregiver to all. So, you're right, everything you said is right. The other night I had this formless but distinct feeling of something inside me which needed to get out, and I just started sobbing and sobbing, I had no real sadness, it was a release. A big release. That fear that I've been motivated by my entire life feels as if it's oozing out of me daily. It feels creepy sometimes. Fortunately, I'm not taking it out on others (been there done that) so I won't have to add lots of apologizing to my plate. I guess I just have to ride this one out until I feel more like myself. It so helps to talk about it, in therapy, with my SO, here. Whatever this phase is, it beats the h#@ll out of the process of detachment!!

    Thanks Star, as always you pinpoint it all with your laser-like ability to hone in on the issues and express it with clarity, compassion and humor.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Star put it very very well. I'm not sure I can really add much. Except that I gain "insight" in some of the oddest most unbelievable places sometimes.

    I have literally spent my lifetime caring for someone else. I was still a child (15) when I got my nurses aide certificate. It wasn't a month after that when I began caring for the grandmother that raised me who was dying of cancer.........while I worked at the local hospital and went to school full time. I didn't resent caring for her. Of course I'd care for her, she'd cared for me when I needed her most. And I'd promised her. She wasn't the only one I cared for. I cared for every stray that came within a 100 yards of me. (but this I've done since a very small child) I cared for nieces and nephews and gave them that special "go to" person for unconditional love, affection, and trust while they struggled with life with their very difficult child parents. Then I met husband.....and thought Here is my Happy Ever After, and I moved away from home. But husband was 16 yrs my senior (not that it made a bit of difference to US) which meant his parents were already in their 70's when we married. And so on top of mothering my own babies......going through the trauma that was Travis' birth......my kidney disease.........it still wasn't long before I was caring for father in law. First because of his heart attack. A short while later due to cancer. While I did not physically care for him, I was mother in law's support person. I often relieved her. Because I was also trained as a nurse before leaving HS, I was her information source on anything medical and I gave her and father in law much needed advice. After father in law passed I thought ok now I can focus on my difficult children........... Uh, not really. I spent most of my married life helping mother in law in one way or another as well. Of course intermingled in all this was difficult child katie & husband's ex (who called me constantly for parenting advice) ...... Years pass and mother in law is frail, Nichole is a 14 yr old plunging off the deep end, Travis is going blind...husband has lost his job..........Oh, I forgot all the difficult child friends of the kids that I "mothered" throughout the years too. Takes a few years to get Nichole through her crisis and birth of Aubrey, see Travis manage to graduate HS and then have a stroke........yup onto that rollercoaster, then we found out he has the blood disorder....I try to find ME at this point because I've reached the breaking point.......go back to school.........mother in law's health deteriorates which means amped up care......I have a heart attack.......mother in law goes straight downhill (not surprising by this time she's like 93 or so) I'm trying to help BFF get into rehab and off drugs...........lose bff......lose mother in law.......manage to graduate........katie drops on me again with the whole family........easy child nearly destroys her leg in a car accident and I spend a whole summer caring for her and the boys........and then the big giant whammo...........husband has a heart attack and dies on me. (I am sure I missed many high points here)

    Katie started her drama and I dismissed her from my life for now. Nichole is stable and there is no drama there. easy child is of course healed and all is well. Travis will always be a difficult child but is doing fine. The past 7 months since husband's passing has been the QUIETEST in my entire life. No joke. (my mom made the outrageous drama in my childhood) There is no drama. There is no crisis. (except of course dealing with the grief) And it's like I checked out, a lot more than I ever imagined. Now I watch easy child's boys.......but please, that takes no real effort, they're good boys.

    My point I guess is that for 7 months, and more intensely for the past 2 wks since I seem to have checked back IN.......I'm like Now What?? I've been having some pretty heavy soul searching going on. Like why am I still here? My kids are raised and they're doing well. mother in law and husband are gone. There is really no one left to take care of........Ok, yeah I still have furbabies but that is so routine and Nichole took Betsy who was causing tension with Molly so even that is gone now. And now it's like I have no purpose.

    I went through this is a very much smaller scale when I had my empty nest. It didn't bother me much. I was in school and I had grandkids to spoil.....husband and I had plans for the future.......

    I read a Robert Heinlein book just for fun about some kid who wants to go to the moon, enters a soap contest to win a trip, winds up with an old spacesuit instead.......and then goes on the adventure of a lifetime and meets......."the mother thing". An alien life form that positively reeks of everything it is to be a Mother. And I laughed, and thought to myself........That's what I am. A Mother thing. lol But it showed me why I was so lost. I had no one really to take care of anymore. Actually for 7 mos, those I'd cared for were actually caring for ME.

    Now I haven't done like Star and tried to create drama subconsciously. (at least I don't think I have, I may be wrong) But everyone reacts differently. I do know that because despite all my medical training that I feel like I utterly let husband down when he needed me most.........that I nearly stopped trying to help anyone with anything. Over the months I have gradually come back from that but I still tend to be cautious when it comes to medical advice.

    What next? It's still the BIG question. There is still a part of me that is waiting for the next shoe to fall......the next crisis. Maybe that will always be there. But now I'm planning, or trying to plan, my life without having to plan it around a ton of people. It's strange and new. Decisions I make now are just for me. And that feels weird. But I'll get used to it. And honestly? I LOVE that, at least for now, the crisis and drama is gone.!!!

    So maybe........we just learn to enjoy it.:bigsmile:
  6. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    You guys are SO strong; you didn't sign up for any of the stuff you went through, but you've dealt with it. Sometimes successfully, sometimes, not so much. You've learned a great deal, and still had a big enough heart to help others, and as Star mentioned recently, prayed for others even though your dinner was getting cold. You lend support here, even though you're going thru very challenging times in your own lives. I'm simply gobsmacked at your generosity and humility and your abiding gratitude. You haven't become mean or jaded or vengeful or resentful, even though you have every right to be, considering what's been visited upon you. You've grown wise. You're quietly strong and not self-righteous. If there's ever a next time that you think you're losing it (and I hope there isn't), pls. remember that you're an inspiration to a lot of people you don't even see.
  7. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Yes, it's definitely similar to an empty nest type of feeling.

    DO change the furniture around.

    DO something for yourself, something that creates a space for you, that makes your home, ALL YOURS.

    Do try to remind yourself of things you did 'before'...things you maybe haven't done in a long time. See if they speak to your soul, make you feel lighter inside and, if so, explore further.

    It's like waking up after a 20 year nap! Big hugs!
  8. Star*

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

    Welcome - If anything I ever say helps? I'm happier than you know.
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What next? It's still the BIG question. There is still a part of me that is waiting for the next shoe to fall......the next crisis. Maybe that will always be there. But now I'm planning, or trying to plan, my life without having to plan it around a ton of people. It's strange and new. Decisions I make now are just for me. And that feels weird. But I'll get used to it. And honestly? I LOVE that, at least for now, the crisis and drama is gone.!!!

    So maybe........we just learn to enjoy it.:bigsmile:

    Thanks Hound Dog, you've been through your share of life too, a lot of stuff, yikes. I'm with you, just enjoy it now, it is liberating isn't it? I am beginning to have glimpses of freedom along with the strange feelings. A whole new life. Wow.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lisa...I know what you need to do! It struck me out of the blue when reading your reply. You need to be a foster mother. Even if its only an emergency foster mother, but I would lay betting odds you would be a fantastic foster mom. As you put it, you are a Mother Thing.
  11. Star*

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

    OMG JANET - THAT IS AN AWESOME idea. SHe's like the MOST Mothering person - even if she thinks she's so army tank tough about Katie (and she is - just in a postitive way) - I tried to talk DF into that and he is SO battle weary after Dude, Steven and all that life - he said NO WAY - I'm considering doing respite.....but with five bulldogs - there's no way our application would ever get approved.

    LISA ......????????? JANETs idea rocks!!!!!! What about it?
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yeah we would never get approved either and I dont think I would want to anyway. I really dont like kids. I know, throw tomatoes at me. LOL
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Well............I've wanted to foster for many many years. Not your average kid, or even your average foster kid, but special needs kids that are hard to place. I came awfully close once, I mean the lady I talked to about it was practically jumping up and down with excitement. Disabled kids can be very hard to place due to the level of care.

    But it is something to think about. I'm somewhat battle weary myself.....so I would have to really think about the pros and cons of such a choice. And then IF I think I could still consider doing such a thing....I'd have to talk to Them and get the lowdown and then think about it some more. I'm not afraid of the hard work or the fact that I'd be once again battling the schools ect over IEPs........It's that I'd get attached, I mean really attached. And I'd have to really think if I could handle it and detach if a child in my care was returned to an abusive/neglectful parent......because we ALL know that it happens far far more than it ever should. Once they were in my care any amount of time, they'd be my kids.......and no one messes with my kids. (husband had visions of me literally hunting down abusive/neglectful parents lol )

    So..........hmmm. Thanks for reminding me of that. I haven't thought about it in quite a while. :)

    But first, I've got to be able to support myself. And that is what I'm working on right now. Step by step......I'll get it all together eventually.
  14. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Lisa - we have a foster program here for kids in medical need. Something I really considered doing when we bought this house - but we've been reeling from crisis to crisis and the idea of adding an innocent and ill child to our house of crazy - just doesn't seem right. But it might be perfect for you. Do you live near a major medical (children's) hospital? The program in our city is for kids who need ongoing medical support/treatment but whose families live far from the facilities or in unsuitable housing and are unable to relocate. The kids HAVE families who love them but can't stay with them/care for them while they undergo outpatient treatment. I thought that would be perfect for us - would keep us from getting parentally attached considering that the kids had families who loved them. We were also considering becoming emergency placement foster parents. Temporary placements -from a few nights to 6 weeks until more permanent foster homes could be found or until the kids are placed with family members. Again, that seemed it would help circumvent getting too attached.
    Mu aunt was a foster parent for years - 6 or 7 - and really inspired me. She is still in touch with all of her foster kids.
    Quietly - I might add - it MAY also be an answer to your budget woes...
  15. keista

    keista New Member

    Lisa you could be even more specialized, like the foster mom that Onyxx went to. So giving a kid back up to bad parents wouldn't be an issue since that wasn't the issue to begin with.
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Lisa -
    Friends of ours were fosters for years and years. And they only took two kinds of cases... but because they were willing to take those kinds of cases, they were never asked to do the others.
    1) Children from stable but remote homes, who need access to "services". Either developmentally or medically special needs. (your nursing training helps on this one!) You get the same kid back on a scheduled basis. For example, if the kid needs a couple years of interventions, the kid would live with you, but return to the parents for all the school breaks. A kid who needs cancer treatment for 6 weeks every 4 months... that kind of thing.
    2) Children who are "permanent wards of the state" but not available for adoption - there is no option for the original family to take them back. Usually, these are very young (pre-school to Gr 3, but not babies usually), and have issues/challenges/dxes. Our friends did not take Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) kids, for example - "not their specialty" - but they did take Downs and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These are long-term placements, often until adulthood if possible. You become essentially a "paid parent".
    3) Adoption-ready newborns - this doesn't happen as often now, with more open and partial-open adoptions. But... in these cases, the baby goes to foster for 30-60 days, so that the relinquishment paperwork can be finalized and the time-limits for appeal expire. Then you hand off to the adoptive parents.

    (Ok, so I can't count. The first 2 is what they did for the last 15 years... before that, they did 1 & 3)
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes I was thinking more of the emergency foster placements so you wouldnt get attached. That is when they need a foster parent in the middle of the night or something and you only have them for a few days to a few weeks and then they are off to a new foster home. And yes, it would help with your financial woes.

    But if you became a therapeutic foster parent, that would be a good thing too. I think you could handle that too.