How to detach when grandkids are involved.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by End of our rope, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, one thing somebody taught me a long time ago: It is never good when we are more upset about their situation than they are.

    Right now, today, she is more upset about her situation than you are.

    That is how it should be, and maybe this will be a/the bottom for her, and she will be able to summon the desire, the motivation and the will to start working on her life.

    You are doing the right thing. Hang in there.
     
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Stay the course......
     
  3. So I just finished my first if you loved me you would bail me out of here phone call. First call was all oh please please I will do what ever you say. Tonights call was full of venom. I am not sure this is all worth it.
     
  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, they ramp up and try different tactics with us to get what they want. First they are sweet and beg us. Then they are angry and curse at us. Then they bargain with us. Then they lie to us.

    They are amazingly inventive and manipulative.

    Your daughter is right where she put herself tonight. She is not on the street, breaking the law, stealing from people and taking drugs.

    That is a good thing, End. Jail isn't fun and it is bad, but you know, I've learned that it must not be THAT bad. My son has been there 8 or 9 times in the past four years. One time he even chose jail over the less-restrictive workhouse.

    That said something to me.

    Maybe, just maybe, she will open her eyes wide, have a chance to think, and realize she never wants to go back there again.

    Let her stay, End. She's off the street, and that is a plus.

    You take care of you and your wife and those grandkids. Enjoy this respite. It won't last long enough.

    Hang in there. We know how hard this is.

    If she gets out, the same stuff will start all over again, unless she has a true change of heart and has hit her rock bottom and is ready for hard work and professional treatment. Let the law take its natural course.

    P.S. I hope you and your wife have sought out and found an Al-Anon meeting to start attending. That is the very best thing you can do for yourselves.
     
  5. We have a NAMI course starting in 3 weeks. I do not understand how an AA meeting is going to help me here. I do not have an addiction. I am there to here from people who do?
     
  6. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Al-Anon is for family/friends who have loved ones who are addicts. AA is for the addicts. Totally different groups. Al-Anon is really helpful for many of us, but you have to go five or six times to give it a fair shot and you have to go with an open mind. You will hear some things that are new to you, but the old way hasn't worked...can't hurt to give a new mindset a try.

    You don't have to listen...sort of take what you like here and leave the rest...but I'd not take all of her calls. If you do, don't get into it with her. Listen, say "yes" or "I hear you" but do not overly engage. If she gets abusive, well, I would tell her she has to treat you with respect or you will gently have to hang up until she can speak to you in a calm way. This worked miracles with my abusive son. Now some adult children go silent when boundaries are set down, but that is part of their own dysfunction...they can not take the blame for their behavior and they feel entitled to be taken care of even though they are far beyond the age when a parent normally caretakes even her/his own child. Were you living at Dad and Mom's on their dime at her age and not contributing a thing?Did you talk to them like she talks to you?

    What isn't worth it? Listening to her or having her live with you? Do you want to go back there? She has not changed yet. She is saying that to get you to cave in as you have always done in the past.

    You can choose to do neither. But if you decide to cut back the amount of time you talk to her, that doesn't mean you NEVER speak to her. It means you do when you feel you are strong enough and you limit your time and you set boundaries as to how she is allowed to talk to you.

    If not, you will probably be doing this forever. A good book: "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. It is a religious book, but if you are not religious just skip that part and read the practical tips, which are excellent. A lot of us have read this book.

    I wish you luck, regardless of which path you choose. There ARE parents who feel too much guilt to stop caretaking their adult child and do it until they die, forgoing a life of their own. It's an option, just not one most of us here on this forum have chosen.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  7. I'm sorry I knew what that was I was just seeing it wrong. It is so hard with a type 1 diabetic, cancer survivor, and open heart surgery patient to sometimes be this tough. Yes she has screwed this up major but that part of being a parent, that protect gene that hits me between eyes is really hard to overcome.
     
  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If there is any chance at all for your daughter to grow into a contributing, healthy, functioning adult who takes responsibility for her life, in my opinion, in my experience and everything I've read and heard from all the experts I was privy to, said, YOU have to stop enabling her. YOU have to discontinue the milk train that your daughter had become accustomed to. She is a survivor, she survived all of those illnesses already. She is not a victim, don't treat her as one.

    Yes, it is hard to overcome our instincts and particularly in the case of your daughter who has had fragile health. But you do her no favors by giving in to her now. She is where she is because she broke the law. She needs to see that and take that responsibility. It isn't about you and what you did or didn't do, she is doing what our kids do, trying every trick in the book to get you to cave so you will continue giving her what she wants, not what she needs. She needs to grow up. She knows every single button of yours to push, she's an expert at it, she knows how to hurt your heart so you will give her what she wants. She is likely brilliant. And, when the "if you really loved me" stuff stops, you may see a venom the likes of which you have never witnessed before. There are clear stages and predictable responses in our kids after we say no. It's almost scary how alike they all are.

    My daughter's husband committed suicide. My daughter's in-laws blamed her for that. She was taken through hell and back. She has a mental illness of some kind. I thought for many years that all of those things added up to me taking care of her, me paying for everything, taking care of everything for her. That's what a good mother does. She is my only child. She treated me badly. She was entitled. She was selfish and self serving, manipulative, obnoxious and lazy. She did nothing for herself, she was parasitic with me and with others.

    When I went through that program I told you about and first heard about detaching and beginning to let go and live MY life, I thought these people are out of their minds, I felt judgmental of them and in fact, righteous. I arrogantly thought who do they think they are anyway, they have no idea what love is, how a parent feels. But, I started to listen. I started to hear things I was surprised about, I started to see patterns in my relationship with my daughter. I began to see how I presumed a lot, how I thought I knew better then she did, how I stepped in. How many of the times I stepped in for ME so I didn't have to deal with the intense feelings of guilt and sorrow. It was an amazing journey. And, then I began letting go, setting strong boundaries, saying no and putting my focus on ME and taking it off of her. I didn't even think that was an option, that I could actually do that. But I did.

    It began to change, then my daughter went to jail. It was a nightmare. But I didn't bail her out. She went back 3 more times, I never bailed her out. This last time seems to have made the difference. The judge told her one more time, you serve the whole sentence and probation is revoked. I said I was essentially DONE. Then she changed. No more loop holes, we closed them all up. No where to go, No one to help. It was about her all along, she was the only one who could make those changes. I couldn't do it. I couldn't fix her or control her or make her do anything. And, believe me, I tried.

    I see this as an opportunity for all of you. And, it feels really bad for all of you. But if you can hold on, refrain from taking any action, live through the insults and manipulations and blame..............if it gets too much for you, don't go to the jail, don't take the calls. I did that too. She needs to sit and think about this. Not be pulled out of the consequences of her own choices.

    Stay the course. Hold on.
     
  9. So much grief and loss in the last 2 years has taken its toll on me and I am having so much trouble coping with this. I feel so much shame and disappointment in all of this that I am having trouble just functioning. Keeping all of these feelings in check is becoming harder to keep under control. No sleep for a week is surely a contributor but oh the chaos.

    I hear so much of my story in your words that it gives me hope but knowing what is in front of us scares me to death. This loss of innocence for my gkids is something that could have consequences that will take years and years to overcome and maybe not at all. All that we have done has been tempered with the thought that we have to protect them. My difficult child has been secondary in the thought process but the primary recipient as she was the provider for them.

    Today I have to speak to the police which will certainly not be the highlight of my day.
     
  10. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, hang in there. We really do understand what you are going through. The feelings you are feeling are the same feelings we have all felt.

    You can come through this.

    Please, as soon as you can, find the schedule of Al-anon meetings in your community and start going. It's the very best thing you can do for yourself.

    And even if you don't get it at all at first, keep going.
     
  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    EOOR, I so understand those feelings of shame and disappointment. We parents take on the responsibility for our kids and somehow believe WE have the power to fix anything, we just have to find out what that is, we just have to turn over every rock, we just have to write yet another check, we just have to find that magic bullet and then it will all be okay. But, you know what? We don't have that kind of power. We just don't. And that level of powerlessness and loss of control is devastating to us. I think that's where the shame comes in, we have that expectation of ourselves that we can and will move the earth to help our kids, that we actually can do that and we hit the wall and start to realize we can't, oh boy, all those feelings of powerlessness and shame and disappointment come barreling in.

    When I wrote to you about all the terrible feelings this path brings to us, your response was fear of the future and what you will be going through. But it sounds as if you have already been in this nightmare for a long time. What appears to be happening now, and I think happens for all of us, is that you've reached a point where you are realizing the truth of the whole situation, that you cannot continue in this manner, that you are indeed powerless, that you can't throw money at this one and make it go away. Even though this is, in my opinion, the lowest point for you and your wife, it is likely a turning point. Once we hit that wall, and I do recall it quite vividly, you begin to crawl out of it. Fits and starts, ups and downs, it's not a linear path, but once you really see the powerlessness of all of it, that is the beginning of the truth and the beginning of the recognition that what you've been doing is not working and you now have the option of learning a new way.

    I do believe if you got yourself to an Al Anon meeting, or therapy, or a 12 step meeting of some kind where you could listen and possibly release and express and vent, you would be able to empty yourself of some of that internal pressure you're feeling. It is very hard to hold all of that in. That sense of shame is overpowering.

    Here's the bottom line EOOR, YOU DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG. In spite of all your best intentions, your kid went off the rails. THERE ISN'T ANYTHING ELSE YOU COULD HAVE DONE TO PREVENT WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW. It was likely inevitable given your daughter's actions. Now it is up to her, where it not only should be, but was always meant to be. Like me, you will need to step back and allow life to happen to your precious daughter. She is the one who needs to grow wings to fly on her own. You already have your wings and an extra set for her, but she needs to have her own.

    All that agony you're feeling is what we go through when we begin to lose control, when we begin to recognize that we can't control this. It is a very bad feeling in the beginning. I remember that very well.

    Don't worry about the kids. Whatever is happening now is their destiny, their fate. You don't know what this will ultimately mean for them. You don't know the kinds of strengths and the courage they'll develop from this. Life gives us so many big hurts but what we can learn from them defines our character and who we become. My granddaughter's first therapist, when she was 4 years old and her Dad had just killed himself told me, "you never know what is in store for her, perhaps she will be a psychologist who specializes in people dealing with parents who commit suicide." I never forgot that. Fast forward 14 years to the other night talking to my granddaughter about the classes she's taking in college. She says, "I'm taking Psychology, I really like it." I told her what the first therapist said. Her comment was, "Hmmmm, maybe that will be true. I can sort of see that." All through her life she has been the compassionate kid with so much empathy for the plight of others. Other kids sought her out to talk to her because she understood. She developed those traits because of what happened to her. Was it dismal and hard? Sure it was. But she learned something and that something helps others. She developed character born out of hardship. And EOOR, I wanted to save her from that too, I wanted to make her life happy and carefree, but I learned to let go and she's turned out to be a terrific, well adjusted, healthy kid.

    You don't know what your grandkids destiny is. The consequences you speak of now for them, could end up being a strength they develop now, it doesn't have to be all negative.

    I will be thinking of you today, saying a prayer for you and your family. Let us know how it goes with the police. We're circling the wagons around you now...........you're not alone.
     
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  12. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    How old are your grandchildren? It is often not the best way to protect them by keeping them in the dark about what's going on with their mother. They will know that things are not right. It is best to tell them as much of the truth as is appropriate for their age, otherwise they will wonder and worry and make up scenarios themselves. The mother of my ten-year-old step-daughter is an alcoholic with serious mental health issues. She has not seen her since she was a baby and has no memory of her. It might be tempting to pretend that she never existed and to sweep it all under the carpet, but that is not the best thing. We have told her as much of the truth as she is able to understand and we answer any questions about her birth-mother truthfully as they arise.

    Children are surprisingly resilient.
     
  13. Well we are now 6 days in and it has not gotten any easier. She is still in jail and it may be another 5-7 days before she goes before the judge.

    My sister in law took the kids to her home for the weekend to give them some distractions from all of this. What we don't know of course is just exactly what is next. While we can use what we have read here to gauge others experiences our own we know will be different. That makes the coming days very scary for us. We have found a local Al-Anon meeting and that is scheduled for Wednesday.

    These waves of emotions that just keep crashing over me are so hard to weather. I move two steps forward and get swept back 4. I plan on working in the yard today to keep my mind somewhere else.
     
  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The uncertainty is difficult. It seems to be one of the components of this journey, to be able to withstand the level of uncertainty we all live in, and find ways to cope and in fact, thrive within it. Rarely do we know what is next. That's why learning ways to detach makes sense, so we are not continuously being dragged through life by another's choices. Yes, it can be scary. I am glad you'll be attending an Al-Anon meeting. Keep going a few times, give it a chance. I believe you mentioned NAMI as well, that's good, put yourself in as many supportive atmospheres as you can.

    I think we can all relate to the waves of emotion you speak of and going ahead and being swept back. I think with some support, those waves get a bit smaller and we aren't crashing into shore continuously. Working in the yard is an excellent plan. Doing something physical helps to bring our minds back to a more neutral place and of course, brings in endorphins. You may want to continue with that plan every day, it helps a lot to keep busy and to keep up with exercise.

    You may want to plan to get out of town with your wife too. As I mentioned before, my husband and I did that every Saturday and it was extremely helpful for our sanity and our relationship. I live about an hour from the ocean and that was our usual destination. There's something healing and soothing about seeing the vastness of the Pacific ocean, smelling the salty sea air, walking along the beach and letting all those emotions from the week dissipate into that vastness. I think the woods would serve that same purpose, or the mountains, some part of nature you can immerse yourself in.

    We all develop a particular "tool box" of things that help us to stay balanced and healthy in the midst of these dramas with our kids. Support, exercise, physical work, getting out of town, prayer, meditation, yoga, reading books relevant to this path....... for me acupuncture significantly helps reduce stress, whatever you find that helps you to stay centered and feeling better. Don't forget the basics too, eating a healthy diet, sleeping well, being with friends, remembering to laugh and have some enjoyment of life, it can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves, which actually becomes one of the most important factors along the way.

    I hope you can find a way to get some enjoyment out of today and all the coming days...............
     
  15. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, I do all of my own yard work---I call it "weed therapy." It helps me have tangible accomplishments quickly, makes me sweaty and tired, and gets me outside. Could I hire some of it out to be done? yes, but why deprive myself of an instant way---right outside my front door---of getting my head back on straight?

    I also exercise five mornings a week---I run (okay, slow jogging! Lol) and I lift weights. It gets my day started off right and oxygen to the brain.

    I go to at least one Al-Anon meeting a week. When I'm in "crisis mode" over my son, I go every day to a meeting. Meetings work wonders for me.

    I have learned to live with a lot of uncertainty. I used to HATE not knowing and not being able to control a situation. In fact, I would quickly identify my options, make a decision and TAKE ACTION. That made ME feel better.

    That was my MO for all of my life until I met the 40-foot-tall monster called addiction--first in my husband of 29 years and then in my son. There is no fixing, managing, controlling or problem-solving Addiction. Not going to happen.

    For the first time in my life, I had truly met my match, and it took me to my knees.

    I had no idea how to deal with my own life on a daily basis anymore. Everything looked bleak and awful and I was in a constant frenzy of upset, grief, anger, despair, helplessness and fear.

    What would happen to my marriage?

    What would happen to my precious son?

    End, over the past 7 or 8 years, I have learned so much about life and about myself. I am still learning how to live in today, and live with, and ACCEPT, that all of life is uncertain. And that I can't control it. And that I have to let it go, and that I have to accept people just as they are.

    It has been the hardest work of my life, and it still continues.

    So, know that we are here with you. We get it. Sadly we really do. We know how hard it is, and I read your posts with understanding, empathy and compassion. Been there and done that!

    There is hope, however. There is hope as you start to do things---deliberate things---to take care of yourself and your own emotional and mental state.

    I am so glad to hear that you are planning on an Al-Anon meeting. End, when you go, open your mind and just listen. Then go back, no matter what. Go at least six times before you decide if Al-Anon is right for you.

    Believe me, I didn't get it at all at first. Today, I count 12-step work as one of the greatest blessings of my life.

    Have a good day today, and enjoy the outdoors.
     
  16. Today we find ourselves trying to figure out just what purpose more jail does. For our own good we contacted a criminal attorney just to find out what's next. His recommendation was to get her out and then deal with the problem from the outside. Of course he is trying to generate revenue so we understand that. Because of no past records of any kind other than speeding tickets he thinks that being out gives him a better bargaining position. What has been the experience of those here??

    She has a car which she could put up for bond she just hasn't figured that out yet and we haven't offered up the suggestion. We have our first visit tonight so hopefully we can get through that.
     
  17. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Yes, parasites feeding on human misery has been my experience of British legal solicitors. You may want to give them a specific job to complete, but don't ask their advice as it will not be impartial, they are out to make as much money out of you as possible so will suggest the option that will achieve that and will drag things out in order to increase their fee. Are there any impartial, independent legal advice services in the US?
     
  18. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Gosh I haven't read all the comments but I am so sorry for your position. I too know a mother who is not a good person, but somehow, somehow, all of her kids believe she is the best thing since sliced bread. So not only does she make everyone else's life miserable, steals from them and uses them, she also gets to enjoy the love and respect from all four of her kids. I still scratch my head at this and can not figure out for the life of me how she was able to do this and I hear I suffer with a daughter who annihilates me almost on a daily basis. This woman I am speaking of also use to rub it into my face too. I can write a whole book about this horrid woman and her equally narcissistic kids.
     
  19. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    LucyJ, um, they all want to make money. Some are ethical though and others are not. It's hard to know who is and is not unless you are connected to somebody in the legal field who IS ethical. My son learned about the difference in attorneys while going through his custody battle with his ex. His attorney worked her tail off for him because his case was huge and she got so much money...every e-mail or phone call was over a hundred bucks...but she got the job done. Ex's attorney charged just as much, but was not as invested in the outcome of his client's case. Most attorneys turned her down and said she HAD no case, but hers said he'd take it. He made a lot and did very little to help her, although she basically had no case anyway...if anyone hires an attorney for any reason, do your homework first. Just like in any profession, there are good ones and not-so-good ones. A good attorney will cost you. My ex paid almost $50K for 36's attorney, but it went on almost a year. But she was top notch. I suspect ex spent almost as much and lost.
     
  20. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    And just to touch on mental illness. I have extreme bipolar and PTSD. I was bullied and sexually molested through out my childhood. I tried drugs like every other normal teenager but at about 17, I chose to stop all of that. I have not done any drugs since, not that I did them a lot anyway. I never drink. I don't steal and have never stolen from my parents or any other family member. The only time I got arrested is because my brother who is very abusive, punched me in my legs, called to police on me and got his wife to lie and said I attacked them after I was trying to save HIS WIFE from him because he beat the crap out of her. How horrible and low do you think I felt that after trying to save his wife from him hitting her, she turned on me because she was scared of him and wanted to please him and LIED to the cops to protect her man? How awful was it that I was in jail for trying to do the right thing and never have done anything illegal in my whole life? I was 29 years old when that happened! I have learned to stay away from these very toxic and abusive people. Very awful. I was always proud of my clean record and my brother destroyed it. My brother is a drug dealer, abuser, bully, and has broken so many laws and not once has he ever got caught or went to jail, but me, ME, I went to jail. You have no idea....

    Sorry, sometimes when you start a story, you can't stop. My point is, I have all these problems mentally and physically and I just never chose to make it worst with drugs or stealing from other people. Please don't let her past problems be an excuse. I know it's so hard as a parent. I would be upset too if my daughter went to jail. But don't bail her out, you will only cause more problems for her, because guess what, when you're out on bail and you just mess up one time, JUST ONE TIME, she will get into loads more trouble! She has proven she can't be trusted and if you bail her out , oh my god, you are going to seal the deal that she will never get better! Please, please.