Our life with our daughter has entered a new phase and I’m having to make some major life changes to deal with it. While it is one thing to recognize that one has made a bad choice, it is another thing entirely to recognize it and continue to do it. While she has disappointed us in the past, and I have been furious with her before, never until now have I been ashamed of her.
My first reaction was to think about how to get her out of the situation she is in. Then as I thought back over her past life choices, I realized that she would just do it again. Her behaviour will not change without some kind of life-altering event, and if we are there to fix her problems, that will never happen. No, the best thing I can do for her is to let her muddle through on her own and set firm boundaries for our relationship.
For the moment, she’s not allowed at our house unless it is scheduled. She’s an adult with her own apartment (or she may possibly be living with someone else; we’re not sure), and it’s time we set a boundary regarding when she can come over. She would usually come by after work every night then sit here and watch tv until 4am. I would usually stay up with her which screwed with my sleep schedule. It also screwed with the dogs’ sleep, surprisingly enough. Now, she has to plan a visit like a normal person and it has to be during normal waking hours, with a set beginning and end time. Oddly enough, without the cat getting fed the extra six hours a day, he’s lost some much needed weight, as have the dogs.
I’ve agreed to continue to pay for her phone as long as she texts me every night to let me know she’s home. While she may or may not actually be home, it at least gives me a reassurance that she’s still alive for that current 24 hours. While she’s furious at me, I’ve been getting the single word, “home” with no punctuation or niceties. That’s perfectly fine. It meets the minimum requirements and I can live with that.
We will pay for school for at least the first two semesters, as remuneration for her old car that we sort of took over. While it isn’t as much money as what she put into the car, it is more money than she would get selling it.
Her current relationship partner is not allowed in our home, ever. We are extremely liberal people, and would not care the color, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity of someone she might date, so you can imagine how truly awful this person is. However, no matter what we say, she does not see it and “we just don’t understand.” Oh to be 22 and know and be right about EVERYTHING.
I’ve had to place her in the “outer circle,” which is the circle of people that I don’t mind spending time with but that I don’t trust. In other words, all conversation is light and meaningless, but still fun. Part of my boundary work is creating these relationship circles. It feels odd to have boundaries. I’m not used to them at all, but they really work to keep me from getting dragged into crap that I can’t do anything about.
My therapist and I agreed that I should attend some Al-Anon meetings so I can work on the three Cs; I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. While my daughter is angry and hurt that I refuse to be dragged into her mess, I think in the end she will be glad that she won’t have to listen to my constant snarking and complaining about her choices. Even if we only talk about the weather, I will not make comments about her life choices.
At the moment, she’s acting like a petulant brat, but that’s to be expected. Considering that she’s 22 and it’s “her life” and she can “do what she wants,” she’s still a child in almost every way. Hopefully after life kicks her in the ass a few times, she’ll turn into a human being. I figure it should take another ten years or so. She’s a late bloomer. I know that she will have to hit the rock bottom of her life before she makes positive changes. She’ll get there much faster if I’m not there with a ladder, trying to save her along the way.
I’ve lived my entire parental life with the one question of “What would my mother do?” and then I do the opposite. My mother would fix it and make my life a living hell while reminding me constantly of my mistakes. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to fix it. I don’t want to constantly remind her of her mistakes either. Her mistakes are just that; HERS.
Meanwhile, I will live MY life, which is the only thing I can control. We are here for her when she is truly ready for help; the kind of help that will make a permanent change, not just the help that gets her from one mess to the next. I love her unconditionally, but that does not mean that I have to love her behaviour. There is no, “I’ll only love you if…” It is, “I love you, but I cannot do ‘x’ while you continue to do ‘y’.” And that is OK.