So yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. It happened after another high emotion incident with my teen.
She had been saying she was suicidal so her dad and I contemplated sending her to the hospital. After the last time, I wasn’t overly impressed with that option. It’s basically like an expensive holding area. So I opted to watch her like a hawk, hide all sharp items, and wait until her counseling appointment.
She seemed to lighten up and engage with us the next day so I took her shopping and we were chatting. She also was laughing and playing with her siblings earlier in the day. I asked her if she still felt suicidal and she said more so yesterday.
We went to her counseling. In what I think was an attempt to look sad, she put her hoody on and covered part of her face. Her entire demeanor changed. I went to tell the counselor what was going on. Then my daughter had her session and I waited in the waiting room.
The counselor wanted to speak to me at the end and said, again, she was concerned for her safety and I probably need to send her to the hospital and gave me a pamphlet to a nearby hospitalization program. I said, “so this is what we do? Just keep putting her in the hospital?” Yep. Until she gets better.
From my perspective, all this has done has made things worse. I’m not saying this is true of all kids, but I’m saying it’s true of mine.
This news upset me, of course. I had a few words with her but sat in silence all the way home. It was dejavu. I had done this once before and I wasn’t happy about uprooting my life, her siblings life, and doing this again. Last time was hard enough.
I honestly wanted to smash my car into a tree and do us both a favor.
I went home and I was angry. My husband and I argued. I left the house while he babysat her. She continued with her hoody, sad face.
While I was gone, I realized 2 things:
1. My mental health was suffering because of the stress.
2. I was giving her too many of my emotions, so much so, I had none left for anything or anyone else.
I hate to say it, but I think I’m dealing with an entitled brat.
Over the years, the pattern has been that if I didn’t jump high enough to make her happy, she’d run away, leave suicide notes, cut herself, or generally make everyone else pay. My response has always been to try to fix it. Especially the suicide stuff. And she eats it up.
I’m not saying that she doesn’t have depression and I shouldn’t take it seriously, but the thing she’s always had is me. All of me. My time, my energy, my emotions, and even to some degree my marriage. We fight more than ever about her and how my husband elevates her in our relationship.
I feel at this point someone is gonna give me crap, so let me just say that I have run myself ragged trying to help her and I’ve done everything I was told to get her therapy, put her on meds… The whole gamut of help. This is not my first rodeo.
She refuses to help herself. She refuses meds, eating healthy or eating at all, blames all her problems on depression, refuses to take accountability. I rush in and help her.
But yesterday I said no more. I didn’t tell her that but I told myself that.
I will not be sucked into her emotional vortex.
I will not let my day be ruined by her moods.
I will not put my other kids on the back burner.
If she wants to walk this road again, I will admit her to the hospital for a 72 hour hold but I will not cry, plead, beg, or sit up there coddling her.
I’m done having my emotional state resemble hers.
She will lose her job, her ability to get a license, and will be behind in school. She will not get to enter classes where she could have made friends (something really important to her). She will lose her family relationships to a degree. But she will not find the same amount of emotional energy as last time. I refuse to lose myself and my values to help her. I will still help her, be a good parent, but I will not sacrifice my mental sanity for hers.
I will literally emotionally detach. That doesn’t mean I will be mean, but will treat her like a stranger that I met in a grocery store. I will afford her pleasantries and kindness and help, but I will not be her savior.
Why? This might sound a bit harsh to people reading. But here’s the thing. Yesterday she told us she was mad we controlled her. I only did two things that could be viewed as controlling: took her phone away for a time (she got it back) and told her she couldn’t engage with an unhealthy friendship. Oh I’m so controlling!!
Right after that, she started this downward spiral. When I continued to put my foot down, she brought up suicide. Who is controlling who?
I’m not playing her games but I will get her help. Just don’t expect much from me other than rides and more debt. It’s gonna hurt her more than me when she realizes I won’t play into. The only worry I have is she is good at getting therapists to see me as the bad guy. Last time she convinced them that I was to blame and I had to sit through 45 minutes of them asking questions about my brothers suicide. If she can’t control me, she controls how others see me.
I love my daughter but the past five years have sucked me dry. My other kids have suffered. My marriage has too. My husband said to me last night that she seems to want to tear us apart. She is an emotional vampire. I hate saying that about my own child but she’s learned how to fill her pain by manipulating and attention seeking tactics. I won’t give in to them any longer.
I will only own what is mine. I will not go down like this. I’m important too. I hope someday she realizes that self pity and manipulation never works. But until then, I will protect myself from it all.