How to detach when grandkids are involved.

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

  1. My profession requires me to deal with detail at a level most can't do. No not a nuclear scientist but high level encryption and algorithms. When I try to immerse in a complicated process I am unable to concentrate for more than 5 minutes than I am washed away by all of this. Yes it's early days but it already feels like a lifetime.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    You sound like you are "awfulizing" which you can probably figure out means you constantly think about all the bad things that can, will and are going on. I have done that lots in my life. We used to think it would be a miracle if our son was alive at 21...then we are reaching for 30. Though pretty much now I dont think about that too much.

    I got a lot of practice in stopping those invading thoughts when my middle son went into the Marines. Let me tell ya, that was one of the hardest times of our lives. We worried night and day about him. I used to dream about a big black car driving up to my house and two Marines in dress blues getting out. Thats what happens when they come to tell you your child has died. I found that I had to read everything I could on being in the Marines, I joined parent support boards and I put stickers on my car. My son's father couldnt even watch MASH. Songs sent us into tears. Months then years taught me how to sleep at night and how to live with what is. Even now I get a catch in my throat if I get a phone call from his area code and its not his number. See, he chose a profession pretty much just as dangerous...he works for the sheriff's dept. I guess my boys just enjoy having me
  3. I am always looking a mile down the road. Because I deal with so many related processes in my work I am always looking at how what I do impacts something else.
  4. Well upon so many making the recommendation we attended our first Al-Anon meeting. It just happened to be at our Church home. It was evident after the first couple of folks sharing we saw that we had certainly found the right group. Several shared their own frustrations with their difficult child's. We chose not to share with this group until we have attended another meeting or two. A lot of the sentiments I have read hear were echoed by this group.

    It is clear to me that only I can come to the conclusion that I now have to settle for what this life is going to be not what we worked a lifetime for. My wife's father was an alcoholic and as a young teen she attended meetings and called this time in their lives the happiest. It didn't end well as he took his own life at the age of 42 with an overdose. I never experienced any of this with my family. I have earned what I have in this world by working harder than the next guy. When people would ask me "How did you know you could do that?" I would always answer " I didn't know I couldn't". Well everything I have ever done to try to resolve all of these issues with my difficult child were WRONG! They were never wrong for our GKIDS and I will continue to protect the innocents in all of this but in order to follow this program I must lay down the will fix this.

    My wife told me tonight that I have to find a way to be happy in what this life is now. I am still too much hurt by the impact of my difficult child's actions and disregard for her family. I am angry, I want to lash out and that is not me and I don't know how to get past it.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm so glad you went to the meetings and found it a good experience.

    Being a fixer as you put it has it's own qualities of addiction, it may help you to look at it like your own recovery from the drug of the beginning our brains believe we need to 'fix' to help, to control, to enable, to rescue, it is extremely hard to not run for the drug of 'fixing.'

    It helped me to see it that way too. I had an army of therapists it seems, coaching me along and giving me these tidbits of info which helped so much. Your brain has to recalibrate, out of the ordinary response to the stimulus of your perception of your daughter needing your help. I say perception because it is what has developed between you and she over decades.......she provides the need, you provide the solution. It's going to take time for you to move away from that. Both you and your daughter will have to redefine what it means for you to be her parent now, because it's all changed. You see more of the truth and it's almost impossible to go back to denying it.

    We get cemented in to our roles, our expectations of ourself and cultural expectations of us, the all giving mother, the protector/provider father.............and we come to find out we have clay feet. What an insult to our beliefs about ourselves and the remarkable power we have to fix ANYTHING. I thought by my sheer force of will that I could do anything. Turns out I can't. And, I hadn't really noticed the toll it was taking on me over a long time........the exhaustion, the worry, the fear, the anxiety.......all born out of my own thinking that I could enact change in another, that I could make it happen, that I could control the outcome...........even though the person I was helping, had no desire to change.

    So you and I are like heroin addicts...........there is going to be a withdrawal period and honestly, really sucks. It's really hard. You're describing what all of us who are practicing detachment go through, particularly in the beginning when it's all we can do to get through the day without collapsing from the profound devastation of it all.

    Being angry is appropriate EOOR, of course you are angry. In fact, being angry is healthy. She stepped WAY, WAY over the line. The appropriate response to that is anger. And, realistically, you are likely bringing past angers you buried to the forefront now. The anger you likely felt a lot before but were operating out of what you thought you SHOULD be doing as a Dad. Well, here's my advice to you, throw those shoulds overboard right now and focus on what the truth is. Your daughter stole, broke the law, got arrested and is in jail. She already stole from you, but you posed no threat because you imposed no consequences so the ante got upped and now she is facing the result of her actions. As it should be. And you are angry, as you should be and should have been. Anger will clear your head, it'll be crummy ...........but it will help to heal you........and then underneath that will be the sorrow. There's a lot to deal with on this crazy journey.

    Your wife is right. In the middle of all of this, you'll need to find some pleasure, some delight, some laughter and whimsy........the good stuff of life.

    Have your feelings and then when possible, put them aside for a little while and enjoy life.

    Yes, your plans got messed up for your future. So did mine. I put a lot of years into my granddaughter's life as my daughter roamed aimlessly around being a kind of a jerk........I was angry too. And then I got a lot of help. And, then I woke up and realized life was going by no matter what I was up to, I could suffer..........and I did.............or I could find ways to be okay...............and I did.............So can you, EOOR. It's going to take a little time. Make YOUR recovery the most important thing now............go to those groups.........go a lot.

    And remember what Winston Churchill said............

    "if you're going through hell, keep going."
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It helped me to do something physical. In the beginning, I just ran.

    As it went on, I learned a certain amount of immediate release from the feelings you are describing could be found in pounding on and screaming into a sofa cushion or pillow.

    Not very attractive imagery, right?

    Nothing I felt in that time when I began facing the truth about what was happening in my life was very attractive. Nothing about it was acceptable.

    (At this point in Cedar's rant, she hits the wrong key and her post...posts. Oh, for Heaven's sake.)

    Ballet helped me, is what I was going to say. Strenuous, exacting physical and mental activity which can never be mastered.

    Martial arts helped me.

    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  7. Well ballet is out of the question but the pillow pounding is more my speed.

    My therapy for the last few years has been the restoration of antique automobiles. 80 years old and older. I don't even want to get out there and work on any of my current projects. Maybe in time I will but today, now, I don't even have the desire. It is all consuming for me right now.

    The meeting last night was encouraging and disappointing all at the same time. Of a group of 16 only one other couple was our age and everyone else was 10-20 years older and still going through this hell. I cannot fathom still posting here in 10 years. RE is only going to answer my posts for so long before she gets tired of me.:)

    RE you describe me too well. Through force of will I have as you described I have pushed my way from the farm to the boardroom. I have tried to use the same approach with this problem and have failed miserably. This overwhelming sense of failure, this overwhelming sense of doom and the uncertainty of tomorrow are consuming me. I am trying hard to put them aside but they return like waves.

    I am wearing my wife out with this. She is not the talker who needs to verbalize her problems. This board is today my only support. I am looking for another meeting later this week. It did at least help to hear others with the same issues.
  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, keep going to the Al-anon meetings. One reason people go for the rest of their lives is the tremendous joy, peace and serenity the program brings them in all areas of their lives, way beyond their difficult children. I have been going regularly for four years and I honestly do believe I will go for the rest of my life. Right now I go to one meeting a week, sometimes two, and when I am in crisis I go every single day until I get back up on level ground. It's like an instant tonic. It is amazing.

    Also people go to be of service to other people, sharing their experience, strength and hope. On any given day, someone, at least one person, will say something that will really resonate with you when they share. Over time, you will say things that really resonate with them---even from the first time you share---and you will help other people.

    How as NAMI the other night?

    I am a Type A personality. I am a get it done person. I own my own business and I have fully supported myself with a good income for the past 7 years. I am a controller, manager and fixer in the business side of my life. I can make things happen! I do.

    With addiction, I have to bring a wholly different skill set to the mix---one I frankly did not have. I have built one over the past four years, though. I now can accept---most of the time---what living with uncertainty means (an idea I initially HATED) and how freeing it is and can be to live into that notion.

    It is not easy. This is not for the faint-hearted. You can do this. You are demonstrating a persistence that I can really identify with. Turn that persistence onto YOURSELF---instead of your daughter---and start learning a whole new skill set.

    Go to meetings. Read the literature (buy it and read it every day), post here, spend time in silence, start some practices that calm and center you---whatever they are.

    I'm like you---I cannot do mental work when I'm in a tizzy over difficult child. I have to do physical things. I also have to cry and rant and be sad and whatever I am feeling. As a man, I don't know if you're comfortable with "feeling your feelings" (lol) but start doing it. You will be much calmer inside over time if you do.

    I like myself so much better today than I did four years ago. That is the fruit of working a 12-step program. It is so wonderfully amazing.

    Keep going.
  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    One of the most helpful things I read, here on the site, is that our task is to see what is for what it is, AND TO STOP JUDGING ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

    (Sorry for the caps. Posting from my phone. )

    The truth
  10. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Al-Anon saved my sanity and sometimes it still does. Nobody is abusing anything right now. Nobody is breaking the law. But when times are tough with difficult child 36 I still go to remind myself that I can not control him and I don't need to listen to his anger. If I listen, it is my decision.

    I think physical work is a tremendous way to burn off stress. I like to run and work out. I do it to music. May sound dumb, but music always takes my mind off things because I'm running in time to the melody or whatever it is. When things were at their worst, I couldn't concentrate to read a book or watch a movie, but could always force myself to start running and always felt better once I got going. When I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep, I ran in the basement in my

    I did not even state my name for about three meetings at Al-Anon. People seemed older than me too. I was in my 40's when I first started. Some people need it longer, some stick around to help the newcomers, and some never do learn to let go. The younger you are when you start, in my opinion the more hope there is that you can regain your own life. It becomes a self-destructive habit to rescue a grown child.

    I'm really surprised and happy that you did go to a meeting. I thought you were not going to do anything to move forward. Even if you end up not liking Al-Anon, you did try something different. I think you WILL like it. Remember, age means wisdom (not always, but often).
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Okay everyone, now let's see whether I can make this phone work well enough to finish my post.


    Now, where was I?

    I believe I said something about each of the parents here on the site seeming to be people who had overcome some pretty substantial obstacles in their lives.

    We don't seem to be the kind to give up or let something go until we understand and make whatever it was as good as it's going to get. (Witness myself, determinedly working away on this stupid phone. ) The problem is that those same characteristics which have served us so well in every other aspect of our lives are doing us in where our much loved but impossible to parent difficult child kids are concerned. For everyone one of us here, the source of frustration, the thing that is driving us round the bend, is not necessarily the situations we find ourselves in. Heartbreaking as they are, we all seem to have behaved pretty competently all of our lives. When bad things happen, I would guess that we were the ones others tended to turn to, to set things right.

    The thing driving us, and I hear it ringing away in your posts, EOOR, is that nothing, but nothing, works the way It should with difficult child kids.

    We each took the bull right by the horns when things began to go wrong for our kids. We searched our souls, reviewed parenting techniques and learned new ones. We took full responsibility and then some.

    But though those techniques work beautifully with most kids (and in almost every situation we have ever dealt with), tried and true parenting
    techniques don't work with our difficult child kids.

    More later.

    Hit the wrong button, again.

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  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    So, where I was going with all this is that our difficult child kids do seem to respond more positively to the detachment theory of parenting. Detachment parenting is not a way to justify turning a child out or turning him away.

    More than anything else, detached parents not only feel better about themselves, but the difficult child, whose usual games and power plays are, for some reason forever unfathomable to them, no longer working, actually starts to hear what we are saying. They do not like what they hear. We don't often like what we force ourselves to say.

    But putting responsibility squarely where it belongs is the only sure way to change our situations.

    You will come to it too I think, EOOR.

    It took me years. I felt so bad for the kids that I couldn't not help them. I just kept plugging along here on the site, trying to figure out how to survive it.

    And then one day a mom using detachment theory reported some limited success. A few days layer, someone else had some success.

    I was on that detachment bandwagon
    the next day.

    I am still there.

    I think it's the right thing.

    It didn't solve anything to start being honest with my kids, to start saying no more money.

    But it gave my husband and me our self respect back.

    Stay with us, read and post. There are answers...they are seldom the ones we want to hear.

    Here is a question for you, EOOR. If your child continues to use her physical or emotional state to justify unethical behavior. ..who is going to help her, and what is going to happen to her, once you are gone?

    Oh hallelujah everyone.

    I have reached the end of this post.


    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I had to smile EOOR, in keeping with my usual M.O., like yourself and many of us here, I just don't give will have to throw me overboard with the shoulds I told you about............I'm not a quitter!!! (As evidenced by my 41 year old daughter having the longest childhood in history!!)

    We've all 'failed miserably'. Each of us, as Cedar described, diligently turning over every boulder, looking in every corner, being superman and superwoman..........except we didn't realize we were operating in a completely different universe where all the rules we knew didn't apply.

    I too, like you and COM and Cedar and her husband, have a remarkable will, amazing tenacity, SUPER powers to move through every obstacle before me/us...........except this.............and therein lies some of the horror of it all, that we CAN'T FIX THIS. Our own sense of self is assaulted. Our belief that we can control our own kingdom........blown to smithereens.

    That's why it helps to get support. It's not just about our kids. It's about us. And our inability to let go, to let go of control. The fear that can set in underneath that understanding is pretty profound...........this chaos and uncertainty puts us in the sphere of mere mortals who don't have any control over their lives. Well, you know what I've discovered EOOR?...........that control was an illusion. We never really had that control. We just thought we did. And this illusionectomy is amazingly painful and it takes us awhile to recoup.

    I can identify strongly with that statement having felt all of that in the beginning myself. When we have been attached to our ability to control, the loss of that control leaves you feeling all of that..........the failure, doom and uncertainty..........we can't fix it, if we could, we would have.

    Hang in there EOOR, it's a process, it takes time, it's an inch forward sometimes and then we fall into the abyss again. Man it's hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I imagine, as a man, without the same cultural freedoms to cry, express and talk to your "girlfriends" about it, you may have a tendency to bottle this up. DON'T do that EOOR, that is not healthy, nor productive. Doing it here will help, but some kind of face time out there in the real world is going to help a lot Al Anon, or NAMI or in private therapy, whatever you choose, just use it to express what you're's too much to bear's staggering in it's intensity and magnitude, you MUST express that OUT of you.

    If you can't find a convenient Al Anon meeting, you can go to a CoDa meeting, which is codependents anonymous. I went to those in the beginning. I drove 45 minutes sometimes to attend those meetings, some later in the night, I didn't care what I had to do, as long as I could be SOMEWHERE where SOMEONE understood or could listen, or I felt was almost desperate at times. There is also Families Anonymous and Narc Anon. Do whatever you have to do EOOR to take care of YOU. That will ease the pain a lot and in my opinion, shorten the process considerably. The more supportive environments you place yourself in, the better you will feel. And the sooner you will feel better. I am so glad you are seeking that out.

    Even if you can just go out the front door and take a walk for over 11 minutes, that will shift your brain onto a new track. I hike a lot. Limit sugar and alcohol, eat well, get enough sleep, run, play tennis, get out in nature. Take care of you. It's been quite the lesson for me to take the focus off of my daughter and place it on myself.............we matter too EOOR, we matter too.

    I'm here for you EOOR, you're not alone, COM, Cedar, MWM, Janet, the whole gang is here for you..........we know what this is like, we're living it too...........we're an odd tribe of ex enablers, old control junkies, multi tasking academy award winning fixers and wounded and exhausted warriors, just trying to love our troubled kids............and let them go into their own destiny, without us holding them up's a helluva ride we didn't choose to get on, but here we are.................all we can do is learn to accept it.
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  14. Well I am back. After all of the Al Anon meetings I have come to that point. I can either be right or I can be happy! What a hell of a conclusion. I HAVE TO CHANGE MY LIFE!!!!! Only by letting her by be a screw up and walking away and saying it's not my problem can I be happy?? What other facet of our lives does this logic apply.

    I have found a great group and have found comfort in hearing the trials and horror stories of other parents but I am still so far behind the 8 ball in this process that I don't see any light. I find comfort in the readings and sharing but when hit with the revelation of choosing happy or my own values I am at a crossroads.

    On top of that the strain on my wife and I is testing our marriage of 38 years. She has fully adopted this "it's not our problem" and is concentrating on the gkids. I am not there and don't know if I will ever be. It put us at a confrontation level that we have never experienced.

    Asking me to compromise my values goes against all of what is me. That is what accepting the right or happy argument means to me. I am going to take a break from everyone tomorrow and take a nice drive to get my thoughts somewhere else.
  15. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You aren't compromising your values. None of us are. We are just accepting that we can't change another person or that person's values and moving on because we know that. Your values are diffrent than your daughter's values. You don't have to like her values, but you can't spend your whole life trying to change hers because it doesn't work.

    I actually find this logical and my old way of thinking illogical. What do your wife and you fight over? She is focusing on the grandkids, who are innocent. To me, as a mom, it makes sorry this has been hard for you. It is hard for all of us, trust me. None of us like to see our grown children acting in ways that are so alien to our ways of thinking. Yet none of us can make it any different.

    It is what it is. This actually applies to every aspect of our lives. We can not change what happens to us, what others who are not in our family do, certain things that happen at work, getting sicknesses...we have to accept what we can't change. Or we can choose the insanity of fighting something we can not change. It's like trying to force nature to give us a nice day when it is raining. It can't be done.
  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm here EOOR! Just checked and there you were.........

    Gee, I'm sorry you're having a hard time.....

    Well, I see your point.

    But, here's another curve ball..........a hundred years ago in one of my many therapy sessions the therapist told me this, "when you only see two choices in any situation, you are not seeing the whole picture, you're stuck in an either/or mess where your mind can't grasp a way out."

    I think sometimes those kinds of statements, about being right or being happy, although truthful in some measure, are simplistic and don't allow for all of our feelings and reduce a complex situation in to a sound bite. I don't believe it's either/or in the way you're perceiving it. I think the main crux of the issue for us parents is that we have to come to the enormous realization that we cannot control the choices of our kids. We have to let go. Whether we are happy about that or not is not relevant now, whether we are right is not relevant, what is relevant is the understanding that we have to let go.

    I don't believe your values have to be compromised either. When you cannot help someone, when that someone is not willing to help themselves, the loving thing to do is to let go and allow that person to face the consequences of their choices.

    It sounds more to me like you are not interpreting the words and phrases the same way your wife is. Our perceptions of what is right and wrong, our definitions of words and our beliefs about values, about what is right and what is wrong is all based on our experience and our an intense drama such as you are involved, all of those perceptions and definitions and beliefs come flying out of their dormancy and wreck havoc. What may be prudent is for you and your wife to find someone to mediate, to be able to help the two of you really be able to see and hear what the other is saying so that you can again form a united front where your daughter is concerned. Don't allow your marriage to be yet another casualty of your daughter's dramas.

    This stuff is so hard EOOR. It blows up all of our perceptions of parenting, of right and wrong, of everything you are talking about. But we can survive this, we can move beyond it. Go take your drive, I must have driven thousands of miles while my daughter was in the worst place, blow out the thoughts in your mind, get out of clarity.

    We're all still here if you need to vent. I'm sorry EOOR, I really do know how incredibly hard this is. Hang in there......
  17. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Hi EOOR, long time no see. Can you provide us an update from the last time you posted in August, when she was in jail? I searched and searched, but I could not find an update. If there is one and I missed it, I apologize.
  18. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    And also, I am so sorry the marriage is strained right now. Maybe, just maybe, your wife feels like you are taking on the burden which allows her to think and care about other things more freely? Let's say she didn't have you, for whatever reason, to care so much and be the primary care taker of difficult child, maybe she be just as stressed, concerned and miserable about it as you are right now about it. I am not saying that she's not any of these things, but obviously you are feeling it more than her, you're not giving up like you feel that she has. Maybe she just feels like you got it all in check as much as it can be.
  19. Sure we left her in jail for 2 weeks. Upon the advice of the attorney we posted bail and she was released. No trial and she and the kids are still in our home. People she stole from have moved out of town and dropped charges but state has not. Got her attention with the 2 weeks in jail but she has not found a job and is only doing what she has to around the house.
  20. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Are things any better at all?