What have we learned to help us cope, to make us stronger?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by scent of cedar, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I know that each of us has developed coping skills. It will be so good for all of us to learn how the others of us are getting through this. Which are the tools we have found work, for us? Given that our goal is to be healthy, happy again, strong again...what are we doing that is working?

    I started on a different thread, this morning.

    Here are mine:

    Joel Osteen stuff. Pretty much anything he writes. Details about why are on the other post. Basically, he helps me redefine my response. This makes me stronger, happier, more hopeful.

    Dean Martin music.

    Roy Oribson music.

    Adelle's music.

    Frankl's Mankind's Search for Meaning.

  2. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I forgot the most important stuff.

    Back when all this started happening?

    I went into therapy.

    I went back to school. Took a degree (*** Laude). EDIT: Oh, for goodness' sake. Who knew that was a bad word?


    Took ballet classes.

    And the most important thing of all, the thing that made a difference for me ~ I became a Hospice volunteer.

    Later, I became an RN Nurse Volunteer at a free clinic, too.


    THAT'S the thing that made the difference.

    You are so there to help someone else that you forget, for a little while, who you feel you have become when your family isn't working right.

    I am waiting to hear when I am to begin volunteering at one of the hospitals near here, now. Application is in.

  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Interesting thread Barbara, thank you, as always, for your insight and thoughts.........

    This entire situation with my difficult child has taken me to the limits of my own abilities, to the absolute border of my sanity and my heart's ability to absorb pain, so I understand what this process of detachment and acceptance does to us. What it has also done is to push me to understand much more fully, how my own issues, my own hurts and expectations, my own fears and shortcomings, my own disappointments and sorrows ..........have an enormous impact on my parenting of my difficult child and how I respond to her and the choices I make about her. I think aside from all the remarkable pain in losing a child to her own darkness, is separating myself and my "stuff" from my ability to parent my difficult child in a healthy way. So, for me, first I had to really uncover my own darkness in order to effectively deal with hers. This has not been easy.

    With difficult children, over time the focus gradually shifts from a normal, healthy balance to an almost complete focus on to them. That complete focus for most of us, including me for sure, becomes extremely challenging to now ride that very thin line of enabling and rescuing and healthy loving parenting, in other words, it becomes an unhealthy situation, not only for us, but for our difficult child's too. Some innate balance has shifted in the big picture and the lack of that balance point disrupts everything. All those expectations we have, all of that help and trying to fix it that we do, sends a very clear message that we believe that our difficult child's are not okay and cannot handle their own lives..................they can then become professional victims. Even if they are mentally challenged, this message is clear. How to define what our part is in all of this, without our GUILT, without our ANGERS, without our NEEDS to have them be okay so we can eliminate the shame of believing somehow this is our fault and their successes mean we are successful and their failures mean we are failures. We have to separate from them, we have to learn the boundary between where we leave off and they begin, we are not joined to them, they are separate human beings.............they have their own destiny, their own fate.......

    Trying to draw some kind of line in the sand, when to step in, when to step back has been a difficult path............only now, with the help of a lot of therapy about my own issues do I see that once my own enabling tendencies were (for the most part) banished from my thinking, it was then that those choices of when to step in and when not to, began to become much, much clearer. Those choices were shrouded in my own "stuff" my own NEED to rescue my difficult child out of my own FEAR. Once my issues calmed down some, that fog cleared and I could see more truth, I could see myself being manipulated, I could see the power I gave my difficult child to continue to use me to keep herself stuck in her own victim stance. I could see, very clearly, that all of my suffering did not change anything at all. My misery did not impact difficult child, I now see that that misery is indeed, as the saying goes, optional. I also have begun to love and accept my self more deeply so that my life has become more enriched.

    I work on making a different choice every day, training myself to bring myself back to that balance point. Learning to accept what I cannot change, like the serenity prayer states, that acceptance, is what brings peace. That peace the spiritual books talk about, the peace beyond all understanding............... Buddha claimed our greatest source of suffering is our attachments.............what greater attachment do we have then with our children..............if one can learn to accept, to let go, to find peace in a horrific, crazy, upside down world like the one we all live in, then truly, you are walking on a spiritual path, learning to find compassion, peace, grace, understanding and love in the midst of tragedy.

    Well, after all my ramblings, what has helped me the most has been discovering myself, putting the focus on me and from that vantage point making better decisions. Secondly, I now look at this as a spiritual path, one that some of us, (probably most of us here) are engaged in to learn this thing called acceptance........I see that as a distinct and clear journey our kids pushed us onto, however, it is separate from our kids (in my opinion) it's about how we can learn, as Frankl does in his book, a deeper and more meaningful understanding of love, compassion, forgiveness and.............acceptance.
  4. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Beautifully written, Recovering.

    Thank you.

    I like what you said about "balance point." I like what you said about putting the focus on yourself. I think we have all met women who seem so strong, so healthy and happy and calm and centered, and wish we could be more like that. I know I have.

    I must still be too enmeshed with difficult child to feel the balance point. But I will look for it, now, when things seem overwhelming.

    I agree with what you said about the Buddhist teachings about attachment. I wonder if what they meant was attachment to who we think we are or should be? Not so much an attachment to wealth, as an attachment to the idea that we are worthier if we have wealth ~ that we need to be someone else, and are not enough, in ourselves; not so much an attachment to our children, but to that idea that we are worthier if our children have met or exceeded societal expectations ~ which would mean we have done well (as opposed to failing, to not being bright or healthy enough) to parent, at all.

    I'm getting in too deep for myself, here.

    What an interesting concept though Recovering, about the role my own fear of failure, my own certainty that I have failed, plays in the demand to punish myself with depression. Or unhealthy food. None of which is going to change anything for difficult child, at all. Or...okay, here is an example. When I go shopping, I invariably throw myself into some kind of horrible state of guilt over what I am not buying for anyone else.

    It happens every time. Like a panic attack, almost, except that I am very clear about not feeling that I deserve to be shopping for things for myself.

    I can do like, underwear and shampoo. Nail polish? Not so good. Makeup? Total meltdown. Something nice to wear? Not as bad, but definitely there. I always attribute it to all the choices.

    Or something.

    I will have to take a closer look at that.

    Interesting post, Recovering.

    Lots to think about.

  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Barbara, talking with you like this makes me feel as if I am looking into a mirror, I can see a reflection of myself in your thoughts and feelings. Your innocent honesty about your feelings makes my own journey much clearer to me, I see how hard I've been on myself, how much I expected of myself, how much I blamed myself.................don't do it, your depression will last if you do. You didn't do anything wrong. You did the best you could. In my opinion, you are indeed punishing yourself for imagined wrong doings because you didn't live up to your own expectations of what a perfect mother is. Good Lord, I'll bet that bar was set so high Mother Teresa couldn't touch it!

    I think we have those absurd expectations of ourselves to fill our own sense of not feeling good enough. If we excel 'out there' at something, it will mask the shame, the inadequacy, the lack of value, the imperfect nature of ourselves that we feel inside..............yikes. It's not real, it's an inside job. That was what I meant earlier in having to find my own darkness, discover my own wounds, for if we do that we then throw this attachment to being perfect parents overboard and just be people, flawed, imperfect, wounded, everyday normal people.

    If we have a flawed kid, a kid who doesn't live up to societies determination of success, we don't go before the tribunal and get cast out of paradise permanently............we don't get shot at dawn.......we just get to be, to recognize that life is imperfect, that we all make messes, that mistakes are part of the human experience and we are human too.........there doesn't have to be someone to blame, we get to 'self correct' and address options for change, we don't have to beat ourselves up about it....... no one gets out alive anyway so we may as well lighten up.

    If you give up the internal need to fill up all your wounds with perfection, you can then go buy yourself whatever you want, you can laugh uproariously even when things aren't all that okay............the need to punish yourself will diminish if not disappear and you can just breathe easily without a list of stuff to do before you can relax and enjoy yourself. Life is not meant to be about paying a huge price for our (perceived) mistakes, it's meant to be lived and enjoyed. Addiction to perfection. It's a killer.
  6. judi

    judi Active Member

    Wow....needed this....
  7. Barbara and RE - You two are so wise and have learned so much from your experiences. It is wonderful that you both share so much with the rest of us.

    What have I learned? (Not really coping strategies but these things have made me stronger)

    To expect that I will have good days and bad days. And sometimes my bad emotional days come when things are good. I have a tendency to be able to hold things together when things are in a crisis mode or really difficult and then when things are calm and good I have my moment where I fall apart. (I had one of these just last week. I cried all day. Just had to let it go...then I took a nap. And things with difficult child have been good lately)

    To come here for support and information. This board has been so invaluable to me!

    To listen to the professionals when they give me advice. They do not know my child but they have dealt with so many families going through crisis and so many difficult child's that they likely know more than I do and I need to respect that. So I need to take that information in, let it sit with me, ask if I can do what they are suggesting, am I ready for it?, am I able to hold that line?, and then knowing my son.... is that truly what he needs based on his personality and who I know him to be deep down inside?

    To seek that professional help whether it's a support group, therapy or classes.

    I've learned that it's ok to live a normal life, it's ok to go on in the midst of the chaos and pain that difficult child can create, it's ok to laugh, it's ok to have a calm, peaceful, anger free day. I've learned that I have the right to take that for myself, easy child and husband. That we deserve to have happiness despite that fact that difficult child is not happy and not well. So, I make that choice to do that.

    Meditation helps, exercise helps, getting enough sleep helps, sometimes just losing myself and zoning out on pinterest or watching tv helps too. :)

  8. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Remember when I posted about watching Beverly Hills Housewives for hours on end?!?


    Lordy, to be Lisa!!!
  9. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Welcome? Thank you for saying I am wise. I don't feel so wise. I feel like we are all coping with impossible situations. Our children are in trouble. We try to understand how to help them. Really, nothing we do seems to help them see that better way they could surely walk if they chose to.

    So, we are left, alone and really lonely for that child to be okay. That is what we are so isolated in. That loneliness. We wish for our children to come back from the edge. They don't. We are left with trying to understand how to survive what has happened to us, to our kids, to our extended families. There is no solution, really. We see our own lives wasted on regret, on adjusting to shocking things we never saw coming.

    One day, we decide to seek out ways we can live healthy, happy lives.

    We are living in grief.

    The way we need to go is to claim happiness. To do that, we have to feel better about ourselves than we have, when we've blamed ourselves for our children's pain and confusion.

    It's really so hard.

    But it is what it is.

    We chose the role of mothers. Now, we have to choose a path that will bring us happiness as mothers, though our children are in pain. It's hard to separate their pain from our interpretation of pain. Someone told me once that if my child was not happy doing what he was doing, he would do something else.

    I'm thinking about that, and about the right we all have to choose the paths we will walk. Maybe it's true that there is some divine purpose at work here that we cannot see.

    That thought comforts me, sometimes.

    If that could be true, then my correct path would be to accept that and cherish my own life, my own time. Joy is different than happiness. Joy is the concept I am thinking so much about, these days. Happiness depends on events. Joy is who we are, or can become. Something to do with acceptance, something to do with gratitude.

    And we all have so much to be grateful for.

    Loving our troubled kids is just part of our story.

    Whether we lose our own lives to the tragedy is up to us.

    At least, that's what I have to say, this morning.

  10. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member

    I have learned that, if I feel myself plummeting down into that abyss swirling with unrealistic expectations for myself and my children, to come here and to read the wise words from everyone. It truly has a calming effect on me. As cruel as our pain is, there is some kind of synergy here that makes the sum of all of our experiences into a rather hallowed place to go...a refuge. ((HUGS)) to all and Carpe Diem!
  11. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    This is beautiful, tryagain.

    Carpe that Diem, for sure!

  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I get so much inspiration from people here. I do tend to cycle worse when things are going badly. That cycle tends to be down too.

    Happily my psychiatrist has decided I have ADHD and put me on stims! Im thinking I really might since the stims dont keep me from sleeping ... lol. Or maybe Im too big for the dose!

    I have always felt guilty especially about my youngest. I put a ton of blame on my shoulders based on some medical issues that happened before he was born. Also he is pretty much my male twin. I would say mini me but he is taller...lol. It also seems like the genetics played a cruel joke.

    I worked hard in therapy to overcome this but its never actually gone away. Also doesnt help I lost access to therapy at a really bad time in my life. Im in the process of finding another person to help me now. I have high hopes that this will work out for me. As is probably obvious, talking really helps me.
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think that for now, the thing that helps me most is knowing that I have too few days left in my life to waste them worrying about fixing anyone other than myself. And while I am concerned about being right with myself, I do not worry about it.

    Letting go of the anxiety - the letting one of the juggling balls fall - is really difficult and takes a concerted effort. But I know that when I obsess about what my kids or siblings or parents or friends/acquaintances are doing or thinking, I'm stealing precious time from myself that could be spent enjoying all of the good things that I have, and I am not fixing any of those other things because I can't control them. I choose happiness. Life is too short to waste the rest of it worrying about people who don't worry about me.