08-03-2019 03:14 PM - last edited on 08-03-2019 05:33 PM by TOM-RO
Hi, I'm new here and actually new to anything like this so my apologies if I don't follow typical format. I'm not really even sure what I'm looking for, but I need to say it to someone so thought I would try here. I'm not from Australia, actually am from the states, but after searching for a good spot for my vent and reading some of your posts I felt this was the best fit.
I'm actually copying this from a journal I just started so please excuse the format. Any words of advice/encouragement would be very much appreciated.
I'm tired. I don't know where to start. How do you care for yourself when you feel broken.. broke down - how do you when everyone around you sucks the life out of you. I love my kids and my husband more then the air I breathe, but I dont know how to give them what they need. I completely understand teenagers do dumb stuff.. I was the queen of it. But the non-stop BS is breaking me down. Let's start with my youngest. She has been to hell and back.. and I've been on that ride right along with her. Being sexually abused at 13 and the years of dealing with the aftermath has taken its tole on her. She went through some pretty heavy depression. We've had her in therapy throughout and have even medicated... even though I'm not a fan of that. She turned to self medicating (marijuana) and at one point attempted suicide. We had her put on a psychiatric hold. Months pass many therapy appointments a high - intensity out patient program. Start feeling like things are going better and we catch her smoking AGAIN. Back and forth again between treatment and therapy. She stays clean and then she doesn't. I punish her but quite obviously not enough. I give in because I just want to see her happy again after years of depression. I want her to have a normal life. But she goes right back. I punish her but then worry about her depression and potentially hurting herself. What do I do? It actually enters my mind just to just let her smoke. Would that be easier, would that solve her anxiety and depression? Or will that lead her down the path of so many others in our family... drug abuse, alchoholism, and/or suicide. I don't want to be trusted with this anymore. I don't want to feel like their lives are in my hands based on how I handle this. And that thought makes me feel like a horrible mom. That and the fact that I just want to run. Then there is my niece. She has been with us off and on for many years. probably since she was about 11 or 12. permanently for the past 3 after my sister suicided. There is alot to talk about with that topic, but I'm not ready for that chapter yet. So back to my niece... We took her from my sister's home once things started getting really bad there. I wanted at first to help get their family in a better place, but it soon became just trying to save her and her brother from it. (He lived with his grandma, who is great, but I have a whole other set of guilt for that). Anyways back to my niece... She basically followed suit with my daughter... started self-medicating, got in trouble, attempted suicide. Went to treatment and now is breaking rules again. Not smoking as far as I know, but drinking and hanging with friends who she is not allowed. They both completely disregard my rules and although they are not disrespectful to my face they will blatently lie right to it. Am I supposed to chalk this up to them being teenagers and ultimately not take it personal? Because I dont think I can do that. How do I not take it personal when I have spent the last 23 years of my life living for them? I had my oldest daughter when I was 16 she became my world and I do not regret it for one second... I don't regret any of them or the sacrifices I've made for them. But I cannot help but feel hurt when they turn around and do this. I'm thankful that my oldest daughter has gotten her life together (she recently completed her bachelors degree and moved to Chicago for a job). She really was easy in comparison, which is saying something considering how old I was when I had her. Don't get me wrong... she had her moments and we DEFINITELY bump heads from time to time, but its not anything out of the ordinary ... I dont think anyway. I really am not sure what ordinary is. Then there's my son, my second oldest. He also was easy in comparison although his temper and outbursts have pushed my limits. He's 18 now and trying to figure out next steps and a big part of me feels like I've let him down because I've been so pre-occupied with the girls. Lot's of guilt there. Then there is my other half, although he has been there through all of this it feels like he has been more of a spectator than a participant or teammate. I have alot of resentment towards him for that and it has severely impacted our marriage. I feel like I have to handle everything in our life. I was the one who went to school so I could get a decent job to support us and while he has always worked it has been for minimal money and also with several layoffs... with me being the one to pickup the slack. It has always felt like no matter how hard I work to get us ahead and in a better spot something happens that drops us back on our behinds. Usually stemming from either something stupid he's done ( tax issues, unnecessary spending, missed bills etc.) or losing his job. And while part of me can't fault him for losing his job, a big part of me does because he could have tried to put himself in a better position to support our family just like I did - but he chose not to. No matter how many times I pleaded with him to go get your GED, go learn a trade, do something... but no, he chose to take the comfortable route and stay in a dying career that barely pays the bills. Now with our entire life in the air I'm left to deal with the kids, provide for everyone, deal with a job that I'm starting to hate while he is home (laid off again) not doing much of anything around the house unless I complain about it, and letting me manage everything with the kids (he does give rides to appointments.. but that's mainly because I got in trouble at work for taking so much time off to do that). This seriously feels like I'm exaggerating, but not even close... I truly wish I was. I'm seriously at a loss. Is this really what my life has amounted to? This is it? What I've worked for? I don't know whether i should laugh or cry.
08-05-2019 12:14 PM
Welcome to ReachOut - I'm so glad you stumbled upon the forums. I'm sure you'll find this to be a very supportive community of parents who can relate to many of the challenges you've raised in your post. Firstly, I wanted to say thank you for being so honest and open about the pressure you're feeling.
It's easy for me to see why you're feeling distressed. You seem to be carrying to whole family and doing your absolute best. The challenges you've needed to face particularly with your youngest daughter and niece definitely sounds like something you could use some support with. It sounds like getting your husband on the same page would alleviate some of the immense pressure you're describing. Do you think getting someone to support you as well as your husband could help?
Managing a whole family is never easy at the best of times but I just wanted to point out all of the strength you have to carry your children through trauma, bring financial stability to the household and support your wider family in taking in your niece.
08-05-2019 02:43 PM
08-05-2019 04:01 PM - edited 08-05-2019 04:02 PM
No need for an apology - I'm glad you had a place to unload in your time of need.
I hope you continue to visit ReachOut forums in the future and are able to connect with the other parents here.
08-07-2019 07:24 PM
08-09-2019 10:33 AM
Oh my @MomTo3Plus you sound worn out! It is so overwhelming when we feel this isolated in parenting and adulting.
Teens are tricky and so varied in their outlooks, however, it sounds like you have done everything in your power to help yours. I'm not sure what support there is in the States, but if the girls are still attending school, there might be more support available to them that is also age appropriate.
I know you needed to vent and this is a safe place to do that. I wonder what you and the rest of your family are doing for joy. It doesn't have to be much. I personally would kill for an uninterrupted bath...Also, you might find it helps to do some things together - not necessarily fun - that can build positive relationships. For us it is cooking. I hate cooking but the kids all help and whinge and share while they do it. Another is the grocery shopping. They now love knowing what is in the house to eat. Sometimes I ask them to read aloud from what they are reading, even school assigned books. Funny, they still like to be read to at times. I found with the depression giving space was very important but maintaining family participation also helped. By keeping a routine with clear expectations it helped get them out of their funk. Even if they felt like #$%*/ .I think doing something for just you is really important at the moment. You can't keep supporting them if you are so drained. Also it is very important to model self care to your kids.
Now the tough love side of me is coming out so feel free to skip this paragraph
I sometimes pull out the 'rights and responsibilities and needs and wants' chat. We need the basics of food, shelter, clothing and love. And just the basics of those - not the latest fashion etc. Anything on top of that is a bonus. So I go through the list of extras that they get like data/wifi, phone, fashion, own bedroom, food treats/ take away, sleep overs, netflix, pets, transport, sport, music lessons etc. and ask what they do and how they behave to deserve these things. We expect courtesy, hygiene, best effort in classes, chores, kindness, fitness etc. I am prepared to remove or deny the 'wants' from their life. This has included the bedroom door if necessary (the threat was enough because they believe me). They tried to argue that data was essential for school so I countered with rationed data for homework only. Any money they make is theirs but they are reluctant to spend on data etc. When they do follow family values and expectations, they are showered with love etc. We do make it worthwhile. So maybe it would be helpful to strip them back to basics. This includes hubby if he isn't earning or caring. Where are they getting the money from to buy drugs? How are they contacting the supplier? When are they able to meet them or arrange delivery? (of course I wouldn't want to remove things if it means they turn to a life of crime to get things). You could store all unnecessary clothing, furnishings, accessories from the house for a while. Sometimes getting back to bare basics actually helps lift our moods and simplifies our lives.
I could go on about tough love forever but will leave it here because I don't think your emotionally ready or strong enough at the moment.
Get yourself strong and then the family. If you fall apart what will happen to them, sweetness. You have been so kind and giving to others, now it's time for you. Please take care of yourself. Give us more details if you think it would help. Sending hugs and positive thoughts your way.
08-09-2019 03:06 PM
08-09-2019 03:11 PM
08-09-2019 04:49 PM
@MomTo3Plus it really sounds like you have tried all reasonable things. Sometimes there is little we can do. Maybe just wait it out.
The cannabis use is a concern for you and I agree. It can be a problem for mental health sufferers even though so many people will tell us it is harmless. I wonder if it works. I would love to know if it is a momentary relief or longer lasting. Maybe that is a way to talk about it with the girls. Are they getting value for money? Is it just an excuse to use? Are they just using it in the short term? Are there going to be long term benefits? It's so easy as a teens to only act in the moment. Maybe that is something they could consider.
As for joy, I encourage you to simplify it even more. Nothing that costs money or exorbitant amounts of time.Even stuff that you can do at home if they are suffering from depression. Board/card games, formal dinner at home (they can design the menu), we have white (choose a colour) food nights where we can only eat food of certain colour. Picnic on the floor. Stargazing etc. Things that can be done in the spur of the moment. This might also relieve the stress of you trying to organise everything.
09-03-2019 04:17 PM
You sure have lots on your plate!! Running flat out to keep up. What leaps off the page to me is that you are an excellent parent - no truly - coz you CARE. I think the first thing that you are doing right is journaling. It is such a relief at times to let it all out, even to a book.
I think that your teens know that they have a top parent too. In my family I had similar issues with my younger 2 - I have helped raise 5 - depression, anxiety self harm, alcohol abuse but no other drugs (that I know of anyway). The really good news is that mine grew out of it with appropriate help. Kids, especially those feeling disconnected or a bit out of life, will always push the boundaries and coz they live with you they know exactly how to push all of your buttons. Reading your litany of disaster makes me grateful that my problems were way less.
What I think would be good for you to try is show the teens unconditional love first and foremost. Expect to be sorely tested while they convince themselves that you're for real here. This does NOT mean stop being their parent and in charge of the household. Not for a moment allow them to think that. How I have tried it over the years is to tell them often that you love them to the max and tell them this when you have had rule breaches too. It is difficult and enormously frustrating when they simply don't get it that their behaviour like drugs etc has long term consequences. To answer your question, I truly believe that it is not a personal thing against you, I think it is an attempt to push back at an unfair world by pushing someone safe that they can trust and whose love they are certain of - you.
About your husband, yes I think he could help more but, and a big but, you must explain to him how you're feeling about running the household and that you need his help. It may be that he thinks you're doing a bloody good job and it's best to stay out of your way and allow you to do things. I'd suggest making a quiet time when you can talk, and make the subjects and time known in advance to him so he's not surprised or feeling ambushed. Then try very hard to stick to "I messages" wherever possible. That means say things like I need..., I don't understand..., I have a problem with..., you get the idea I hope. I messages tend to be non confronting and easier for the recipient to deal with. Avoid "you messages" which are almost invariably taken to be critical or very critical of the other person. The bad news is that is is hard to not get a little bit accusatory - avoid that if you can. When I have had such situations I have written on a piece of paper, to which I refer, the items to be discussed coz it is so easy to include lots of other things while you're at it. Avoid this!
Now this post is a bit late on this subject but I hope it's still relevant and that things for you are on the improve. Remember that in various degrees almost all of us here have been there and done that so you are among friends. Don't lose sight of the fact that I am not any sort of medical person so my advice is just my own thinking on what has worked for me.