Tag Archives: Parenting

Turning the Corner

We seem to have really, genuinely turned the corner at Casa d’ABM! I lowkey had kinda lost hope that we would ever get back to some semblence of normalcy around here after so much drama this year.

And yet we have.

After so many months of festering anger, bickering, fighting, crying and so much more, Hope and I are clawing our way to our version of normal. And it feels so good.

You barely remember how gloriously boring normal is unless you’ve been mired in conflict for so long. I finally feel like I can breathe.

It’s been a few weeks since Hope finally seemed to emotionally regulate. I’m not fooling myself into believing all the angsty, emotional feelings are gone, but it seems she has a much better handle on things these days.

In fact, she recently decided to try out some medication. She hasn’t agreed to therapy yet, but I’m totally gassed up that she was able to decide that she needed some help through medication. I am optimistic that a return to therapy will happen in time.

Moving out has been removed from the discussion now. She’s not ready, not to mention she’s still unemployed. The skill set just isn’t there yet. She’s also been able to better articulate what’s overwhelming her. What I’m trying to say is, I finally see effort from her. That effort is allowing me to stretch a lot more than I’ve been willing to in recent months.

It also means I’m able to make some holiday decisions and move forward with other plans I need to make about 2023. These last few months just made me feel trapped with respect to planning things for next year. I finally feel like I can plan without upsetting her in ways that will set us back.

The big lesson learned: connection. It always comes back to connection. More than anything, Hope wants to feel connected and accepted as she is. I know that there will be more boundary pushing, but I think I’m a bit better equipped to handle it now.

My biggest hope for 2023 at this point is for Hope to fully embrace needing help with some things, that neither of us feel trapped in a toxic cycle, and that we will continue to work to be our version of normal and something akin to happy.

That still feels like a lot to hope for. The pain and trauma of this year are real, and my heart still hurts a lot. But I do have hope for the direction we’re headed in. And for now, that’s a good thing.

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Ugh

Does everything feel hard to you?

Just me? Huh…

Everything is hard.

My respite in the Bahamas was short-lived. I was back in the office last week and feel like I’ve been on the usual rollercoaster ever since.

Hope basically kept the house and Yappy in order while I was away, but something just felt…off when I got home. The energy in the house hasn’t been good since the beginning of the pandemic, but there were all sorts of little things around the house that didn’t seem quite right when I returned. I just let it go and pressed forward because, really, what else am I going to do?

The moving-out deadline looms, and it’s freaking me out. Hope remains unemployed and unmotivated. We are currently in the very slow-moving car crash. Like, you can see it happening. This week the psychiatrist asked if I would be willing to put a pause on things. It was hard, but I said no, not without some kind of effort from Hope.

I take no pleasure in how all of this is shaking out. I’m miserable, totally and utterly miserable. And I’m realizing that everything is just feeling harder and harder to do every single day.

I’m scared that everything is going to fall apart, and that I don’t know how to stop it. I do not believe dropping the step-up or move-out requirement is going to change much at this point. I believe that we both need a lot of help and support, and we’re not getting those needs met. 1) They are hard needs to meet,2) getting the help and support we need is hard to access even with resources and 3) Hope is resistant to help. It’s all making me an increasingly nervous wreck.

I managed to make an appointment with a psychiatrist for me this week. It’s been a while in the making, and now I just have to wait two effing months before I can go. Fun times. I plan to call my own primary care doc by the end of this week to see if I can get another medication bump in the meantime. I am miserable.

Communication in the house is still tip-toe driven. And I’m constantly facing what feels like quiet resistance from Hope. It feels like we are utterly light years away from the close relationship we once had. Occasionally I’ll see glimmers of it, but it’s largely hidden.

I just want to see my daughter fully functional, able to better self-manage, emotionally regulate, and maybe, just maybe happy. I haven’t given up hope and I never will, but it just seems so impossible to achieve at this point. I know this moment will pass, but it would be really nice to know when.


Onward

It’s the day after Labor Day in the US, and that marks the beginning of fall. It’s my least favorite season. I mean, I love the clothing evolution–booties and cozy sweaters–but emotionally it tends to be one of my most challenging times of any year.

Despite my best efforts, I usually succumb to depression by the time winter rolls in. I’m kinda nervous because I know I’m already a bit down, so it’s going to take extra effort and intention not to fall down the rabbit hole.

I kinda chuckle at the irony of needing to fight depression, when the absolutely LAST thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed is to fight anything. It’s just so much easier to lay down into it.

But, I’m pushing forward and creating some things to look forward to and work on.

I relaunched my little crochet Etsy storefront–I sell sweaters, blankets, and other handmade items for dogs/cats. I also do baby blankets on commission as well.

I’ve initiated a modest master bath renovation. I’m costing it out and of course “modest” is really, really subjective. The highlight of the upgrades is an electric bidet on a “comfort height” toilet. Seriously, I’ve had a non-electric one for years and love it, but I DESERVE less of a squat, heated water, and warm air on my aging tushie.

I’ve scheduled a beach trip for next month, and if I can get my Mr. to take a few days off, I’m hoping we can do a long weekend in a glamping situation.

I’m also trying to pull myself together to modestly increase my workouts, schedule massages, and check out a local stretching studio. (If you are on Fitbit, hit me up. I’m all about the weekly challenges!)

I’m trying y’all. I’m doing what I can to keep my head up.

And yet, things still are what they are in terms of the home. I miss the way things were with Hope. I hate that we have this conflict that has cracked us apart. Last week in therapy I started out saying, “Hey, I think I’m doing ok; I seem to have a handle on things.”

Narrator: And then she cried for an hour.

The grief is just overwhelming sometimes. I’m constantly hoping on the 3 days I go into the office, that things will be and feel different at home when I return. They don’t.

I know some of this is growing pains. I know that some of it is the long tenacles of trauma–hers and mine. I know some of this is untreated mental health. I know some of it is both of us being headstrong and deeply, deeply hurt.

I’ve written many times about being a fixer. Daily, I have to talk myself down from *fixing* us. I know that this is something I can’t fix. I know that all the things I would usually do to fix things will not work; they would potentially make things easier in the short term, but I doubt a “fix” would hold more than a few days. I also know that “fixing” things would mean that I would have to go back on my word; I know for a variety of reasons that would not help things in the long haul.

So, while I grieve the loss of the closeness I had with my daughter, I feel helpless too.

I anticipate that the intensity of these feels will only grow the closer we get to the end of the year. I seriously have no idea what will happen to us on New Years 2023. I do not know if Hope will be ready to move out. She has made it clear she doesn’t want to discuss it, so it just looms over us…kind of like a guillotine. And it makes me feel guilty, not because I do not believe the consequences are appropriate. No, I feel guilty because I fear she really isn’t ready and that she is willing failure to prove to both of us that all she’s capable of. I stay researching alternatives, solutions that will head us off to a different resolution.

And yet, I know that the course we are on…is what it is right now. I’m really trying to be helpful, loving, affirming and a believer in her capacity to do great things. I know she can, but I don’t know if she knows she can.

So, another week has passed. There are other updates, but they aren’t mine to share. I can say that I know that Hope has had great opportunities for explanation and healing of past trauma recently. I’m hopeful that seeds are planted and that they will bloom in the coming months. I’m hopeful for the continued sense of peace, or at least detente, in our home. I’m hopeful for a lot right now.

So, for this week, the motto is simply: Onward.


Nothing New

Not much has changed around the house.

Not much has changed between me and Hope. We are polite, sometimes almost close to lovingly so. We might occasionally laugh about something together; I live for those moments. I feel like they give me a peek into the good times. I usually choke back a few tears when we laugh together or she wants to tell me something. We both have some very clear boundaries that we have quietly constructed. I give hers extra wide berth, while she likes to nudge mine just to see how far she can go.

I’m doing more cooking than I have in a long time. I cook on the weekends so there are options until about Thursday. I really cook for Hope. I might get a spoonful or bowl full when I’m cooking, but I generally will have smoothies, cereal, yogurt, bread, etc all week. I am only this week realizing how obsessive I’ve become about this weekend cooking ritual. Clearly some emotional stuff happening there. I also just know that I unconsciously increased the amounts I’m cooking It’s wild.

I wish things were different. I wish Hope truly believed and understood that we are forever. I wish after all these years she could enjoy some peace in permanence. I believe that there were many authentically joyful times, but I also believe her when she says it was fleeting or an act to meet what she thought were my expectations. I wish things were different in so many ways.

In 125 days, everything changes. It may make things horribly worse or it could be the beginning of another beginning for Hope. Only time will tell. I daily caution myself not to think that far out. I know it will zoom here sooner than I’m willing to acknowledge.

I’m keeping the faith that something will change, something will change.

Cheers to the week.


Just Breathe…

Time flies, doesn’t it? Seems like posted more recently, but alas, almost two weeks!

Things are kinda stable right now. I guess.

It’s hard to definitively say that they are because I so traumatized by the events of the last couple of months. It’s hard to buy into the fact that there hasn’t been an eruption in a couple of weeks.

I’ve been trying to resume normal activities, but it’s hard, My anxiety is high. My depression is dark. I’m exhausted, always exhausted. I break out in hives every day because I’m so stressed.

A few posts ago a follower inboxed me to suggest looking into a particular mental health issue. At the time, I just couldn’t because I was so overwhelmed. Ha! I’m still overwhelmed, but it kept swirling in the back of my mind. At the beginning of last week, another mental health provider suggested the same potential diagnosis, and so like the nerd I am, I got to reading.

I devoured websites, podcasts, Instagram, and TikTok accounts. I joined an online FB group for parents. I felt like this information was so helpful in trying to understand what was happening with my daughter. I consulted with Hope’s provider, who said, yeah, she meets the criteria, but he wasn’t ready to diagnose.

For serious?

Oh, ok. I mean, I get it but help me out here dude.

In any case, I know that Hope would reject the diagnosis anyway, so….yeah.

As for me, I’m proceeding with approaches that are consistent with what I’ve read. It’s hard, but I needed some kind of framework to move forward. I’m not *looking* to pathologize my daughter; I’m just really trying to give myself some scaffolding to help me meet her current needs. And after a couple of months of feeling completely lost, information about a possible diagnosis feels like a gotdamn GPS appeared out of thin air.

Hope has been going through a lot. She’s really emotional. She occasionally does things to try to provoke me (So far I’ve successfully kept my cool), but mostly she’s just moving the way she usually does. Of course, all that had me concerned before the summer started. I’m sadly not new to this; I’m true to this.

My family has so many questions:

Why are you sitting down with her to make monthly goals? (Because I do not have a deathwish.)

Should she really go visit her biological family? (I’ve made the primary contact fully aware of the current situation; we’re on the same page and Hope needs all the love and support she can get right now.)

Why doesn’t she have a job? (Because she doesn’t.)

Why isn’t she in school? (Because she isn’t.)

No. No you may not.

It’s honestly my least favorite part about this whole thing. I told my peeps right at the outset, there were going to be decisions that you won’t agree with, decisions that seem tough or harsh, and I don’t want to hear your thoughts on them because you ain’t living 24-7 in this here house. It’s just like biting into a cake that appears to be drizzled with chocolate, but upon tasting you realize it’s really motor oil. Ugh. Just say you love us and send love and chocolate without all the questions.

But, here we are. I’m just trying to be as gracious as possible because without them I would crumble. So, I take the good with the questioning and make it work.

I don’t know what will happen next. I still am reeling from the trauma of it all. My heart hurts because I have new knowledge of what Hope’s thought processes underpin her behavior: It’s fear. It’s always been fear. It might always be fear. I’m consumed with fear as well. I’m just hopeful that at some point I can steer us towards a path that offers us more support.

For now I’m counting breaths and just trying to push forward.


So Many Shoes

Things are mimicking something akin to normal. The time I had away last week was good for me and Hope.

Hope attempted to push some boundaries, and I decided to just give no reaction. One boundary really, really pissed me off, but I just kept those emotions to myself.

It’s been a quiet week.

But I’m still so incredibly anxious. My partner got to see the full scope of my anxiety in the last week. It’s good he’s a calming presence because I can only imagine he was a bit like, whoa!

For her part, Hope was just…something like normal?

No.

No really.

I got home to a totally different person.

So, yeah. It’s fine. We’re fine. It’s fine.

Narrator: It isn’t fine, tho.

I’m kind of having a mini-meltdown every day because I’m so traumatized by the last few months that I am unable to cope with this sudden change.

It’s like, if you were to see life in a mirror. It’s all the same, right? Wrong, everything is there and totally backwards.

That’s what I feel like I’m experiencing right now.

I swear I felt like there was a possibility that she might disappear while I was gone, and I’d never see or hear from her again. It was that fraught in our home.

I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but the energy is way off.

I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but I’m waiting for another shoe to drop on what feels like conjoined octopi. #somanyfeet #somanyshoes #somanydropping

My nerves are bad y’all. My muscles feel like rubber bands. My shoulders could double as earlobes. And those neck muscles that run behind the ear down the neck? They just ache.

But I’m working on keeping it all together. My gut tells me I can’t afford to have my own emotional meltdown at the moment.

Beyond my own reactions to this chapter, I worry incessantly about Hope I have no idea how she’s experiencing all this, how it feels for her. It’s disorienting to me, so I imagine it must be really hard for her to navigate all her feelings and behaviors.

I’m hopeful that this period of peace is long and settles into an authentic peace.

Hopeful. It’s also feels naively ridiculous because I *know* there is a shoe dropping somewhere in a forest right now. I might not hear it or see it, but I know that ripple will hit our doorstep at some point.

I really hope things get better, that she has the opportunity to make different choices, and to learn to give herself some love and help. I hope she chooses to find support in health ways, with healthy people.

I’m just so worried.

In other news, the one steady freddy in the house is Yappy. He was pretty freaked out by a few significant episodes over these last few weeks, but he’s the most resilient of all of us. He just serves up unconditional love all the time. He is more bonded with me, but he always makes time to see about Hope, napping in her room and getting super excided when she comes home or out of the bathroom (yeah, the bathroom. He’s got terrible separation anxiety.) He’s been a common focus the whole time, so Hope and I do have that.


The Wild Fire Continues

I wish I could say things are improving at Casa d’ABM, but alas things continue to decline.

In our most recent episode, I had to lay down a consequence that I wish wasn’t necessary. I knew it would be devastating. I knew it would feel like rejection for my daughter. I knew it would likely damage our relationship, hopefully only temporarily.

I consulted with medical and mental health professionals beforehand.

Of all the things Hope and I have been through, this is without question the most difficult, the most hurtful, the most damaging, and just the most heartbreaking.

I feel helpless.

I feel rejected.

I hurt so bad that it physically hurts.

I can’t fix anything.

And so I just have to keep going.

I know that Hope feels all this too, probably more and probably even more intensely, if that’s possible.

These next few months will be so hard. I don’t know what to expect. I have no template, no guideposts.

I have a great support team at the ready. I have resources that could be used to ease things, but it would be like papering over the challenges. We have the support of our family and friends.

And yet, I know that both of us feel very alone.

There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently over the last few months, but I don’t know if it would change our outcomes. I saw this collision coming, and it always seemed unavoidable. I did my best. I’m trying to play the long game.

I love Hope. I want her to be safe. I wish she could be happy; she’s told me before that she’s had moments of happiness, but generally it’s never been a persistent state. I want her to have the life she deserves, which is more than I could ever dream of. She deserves the universe.

I’ve learned these last few months that she doesn’t believe she deserves that. I’ve learned that her belief in our permanence as a family was always questionable. I’ve learned that she sees herself as broken beyond repair. I’ve learned that despite everything, she doesn’t believe she is worthy.

These revelations are just devastating on so many levels. I thought I knew how she was really doing. I thought I had created space for her healing somewhat. I thought if nothing, she knew I was her forever ride or die, even if I had to allow her to feel the full impact of consequences for her behavior. I also naively thought we had sidestepped so many challenges other families had experienced.

And yet, here we are, in a place having the experience that I tried my best to prevent.

Trauma is a whole bitch.

I believe Hope and I will get through this. I know the relationship will probably look so different in the future—though right now, my priority is to maintain any connection she will agree to. I believe she will go on to have a good life after this chapter. But right now, we are in the chapter that has all of the conflict, all of the sadness, all of the brokenness, all of the devastation.

Our home is currently not an oasis for either of us.

This weekend I’m away on business. I was excused from the trip, given all that is going on at home. I chose to go in order to give both of us a bit of space and time to just breathe without being on top of one another. We’re just doing “proof of life” communications at the moment.

Please continue to keep us, especially my beautiful girl, in your positive thoughts and prayers if you’re into that kind of thing. We need every shred of positive energy we can gather.


Front Row Center

We are in week 2 post-traumatic event.

I’m still a whole wreck. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, exhausted, and scared.

Hope is moving like I’m nuts, and she’s a-ok.

Narrator: No one in the house is really ok, not even close.

Ugh.

I’m the eldest child. I’m a fixer. You give me a problem, and I will come up with a range of solutions. I’m even creative with it.

I have nothing. No solutions, much less a range of them.

Nothing.

I have to wait this out.

I have a front row, center seat in this major Broadway drama. And it is a serious drama. I’m on the edge of my seat because it’s a psychological thriller, and I’m scared to death.

I must wait Hope out until she’s ready to deal with her stuff. That could be a long time, especially since she’s discovered her new superpower of saying “No,” adult style.

And I do believe it’s theatre. I believe that we desperately need the help of a team of professionals. I also believe it will be a while before we get there. We are nowhere near rock bottom yet. That said, I’m seriously a wreck. I’m worried. I’m anxious. I’m depressed—like sad and exhausted depressed.

So, for now, I will focus on propping myself up. I have a number of crochet projects underway; I’m working on building up a bit of inventory for my little floundering Etsy store (Doggy/Kitty sweaters and such). I have a business trip soon and my beau will be joining me. I’m looking at travel packages for what I plan to be an epic trip to Egypt next year.

I have no idea how many acts this drama has, but I’ll just keep sitting here, waiting for the cue for audience participation.

Break=a-leg, Hope. Break-a-leg.

(Thank you all so much for your support re: my last post. Much appreciated.)


Letting Go of the Wheel

This last week has been incredibly difficult. Without revealing too much, Hope and I had a substantial blowout, and her reaction to it set off a series of events that just have created what feels like a drama cycle that will never end.

Basically life is a shit show.

I have so many emotions. I ended up having 2 therapy sessions just so I could process my own shit after last weekend. Yesterday I realized that a lot of what I have been feeling can be best described as grief.

Grief is hella messy and can be an amalgamation of so many other feelings.

I am sad. I’m furious. I have regret. I have love. I care. I feel fragile. I am confused. I’m just a mess.

And despite her protests, so is Hope.

Although I’ve just tried to put on a brave face this week, the truth is I really am a mess.

One of the only things I can do is to let go, and my natural instinct is to coddle her, draw her close, hug her, care for her, and smooth the path for her; I’ve come to the chapter in parenting when I have to stop some of that. I have to let go of the wheel and let her drive.

At the moment it appears that she might purposely drive it into a ditch just to prove that she can, but she has to drive herself.

It’s hard. It hurts.

I’m here to catch her if she falls, but having to actually allow her to fall is so hard. So much of this life has been helping her progress towards adulthood and making it as smooth a process as possible. I feel like I failed.

I know I didn’t, but it really feels like I did.

You know those new NASA pictures, I want that for Hope.

Hope, I think, is just glad that she didn’t age out of foster care. It’s almost like this is a delayed reaction to coming of age. Also, it’s like she never allowed herself to dream or think about what she might want to do in this life.

Trauma is a bitch. Trauma did this.

I don’t know what the future holds for Hope and me. Things are serious enough that I’m considering ending our online story because it’s just too hard to write about. I have about 5 different versions of this post and none of them, not even this one, adequately captures my feelings and experiences of the last week.

I’m headed off to go see a friend for a bit because I need to get out of the house. Send Hope lots of good energy and positive vibes. We need them, but she needs them more.


I’m Trying

Last weekend Hope turned the magical age of 21. We were supposed to go to NYC to celebrate, but sadly, she got really sick, and we had to cancel. I hope we can go later this summer.

The good news: she didn’t have COVID.

The bad news: we don’t exactly know what she has. I suspect it was a case of the flu.

I can say that it was super gross. And when Hope gets sick, she really gets sick and she really gets dramatic.

I wish I could say that I turn into this mushy mom figure when she is sick, but I do not. Don’t get me wrong, I do what I can—try to get her to eat, to shower, to rest, manage symptoms, etc. But that sit at the bedside, Flo Nightingale stuff…no.

I’ll even admit that I struggle with leaning into the mushy mom troupe. I’m not that chick. I go into non-emotional mode because it’s a problem to be managed and/or fixed.

My ability to compartmentalize emotion is a handy skill in my line of work where a DEI professional being hyper emotional is just not going to work.

That skill for momming is problematic because Hope thinks I don’t care.

Additionally, Hope’s penchant for dramatizing her ailments has me usually thinking she’s crying wolf. There were times when we were regulars at the Patient First (after several expensive trips to the ER where NOTHING WAS WRONG! Some of Hope’s emotional challenges manifest psychosomatically, which really complicates things).

I absolutely do care, and I’ve improved in doing mushy stuff over the years. Sadly I think I’ve lost some of that ground though.  

I think I’ve backslid recently because the last 2.5 years have been exhausting in dealing with some of Hope’s shenanigans. Without telling all of our business there was a whole host of bad 19-20-something decisions that resulted in some unfortunate entanglements, health issues, law enforcement engagement, and more.

It’s a wonder I have anyblack hair left on my head. I don’t have much, and I figure in the next year to 18 months I will be completely grey at this rate.

During the height of our COVID drama I had to put my emotions on the shelf to just get through it. I just put those mushy feelings away and went about navigating us out of the dark forest.

Now, I’m realizing some of those emotions are kind of stuck on the shelf.

I’m exhausted.

My sisters and I left home at 18 and never returned to live at home—this being 20+ living at home is foreign to me. Sister K also has a 20-something living at home, and frankly, she’s as baffled as I am, just with a lot more emotion.

I find myself frustrated that Hope is chronologically 21 and emotionally 14, 15 at most. Bridging all that goes between those numbers is…a lot. It’s like she wants to go clubbing and she wants me to fix her baby food all at the same time. It’s dizzying, and I worry often that I just can’t do it. I do not have any effing idea how to parent through this. It’s like an uncontrollable roller coaster.

I know that I have unrealistic expectations; I’ve been spending the last few weeks of therapy really trying to get my brain on the same page as my parenting realities. When Hope actually was 14 and 15, I felt like I could really manage things better. At 21 she has access to sooooooo much more than I think she’s ready for, and the stakes seem so much higher and riskier. More than anything I want to protect her.

I also want to protect me.

I really feel somewhat powerless, and I don’t like the feeling. It’s not that I want to control her every move. On the contrary, I want her to be autonomous, to be free, but the trouble that she can get into feels so much more dangerous and life altering at this point. I hate rules, but I had to institute some this year because of poor decision making. Poor decisions at 14 and at 21…both are unpleasant, and both can have long consequences. But the reality is that I made it through the age 14, emotionally 7 period of poor decisions. Living through age 21, but emotionally 14 poor decisions feel a lot different.

To be truthful, Hope is a “good” kid, but she has triggers that just make her spiral and reliably do dumb shit.

And I’m older now. I don’t feel quite so resilient. I’m tired and a bit worn down. Worrying feels different. It’s exhausting.

My therapist gave me some homework and good friends have suggested I need some respite. Both are right. I’m working hard and will be trying to make some plans to get away.

I know Hope is also struggling and it is painful to know that I am not currently able to meet her where she is.

I’m trying, but it’s really hard. I am trying and I’ll keep trying tho.


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