I can't cope

(82 Posts)
Shagmundfreud Tue 23-Apr-13 09:08:09

It all seems to have reached a head for me today. Mentally. I can't stop crying and feel completely hopeless about dd.

She does what she wants and nothing I say makes any difference. She is abusive towards me - physically and emotionally.

This morning I have found that I'm unable to parent my other two children. I feel used up and want to go to bed, pull the duvet over my head and stay there all day.

I just needed to say that.

I agree, absolutely, that the children from neglectful homes are much less likely to behave aggressively or defiantly. At least, anecdotally, it seems that way.

My DS has told us repeatedly that he despises us and yet, in times of trouble, he is straight on the blower to us... The first thing he did when imprisoned was ring mum grin He loves us really and he knows we love him back. He just can't fit in with our way of life.

Maryz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:32:46

It's because they know deep inside that no matter how much we row, or what we say or do, that we love them, and will continue to no matter what.

I think that's why there is more of this behaviour (anecdotally) among teenagers with involved, interested, loving parents.

I suspect few neglected teenagers behave like this. There are few teenagers from aggressive abusive families who would dare to tell their parents to fuck off or take a door off the hinges. They'd be beaten up or chucked out.

Maybe that's where we are going wrong sad. We have made them feel unconditionally loved. But how can that not be a good thing? It's all very confusing.

flow4 Tue 30-Apr-13 18:19:39

That's one of the (many) difficult things: teens seem to bounce back so quickly from incidents that leave us adults wiped out for days or weeks. sad

Toomuchtea Tue 30-Apr-13 16:10:58

Laura I think you have it absolutely there - they know you love them and they use it to hurt you.

Toomuchtea Tue 30-Apr-13 16:08:28

I know you didn't mean that it was easier Flow4 - just at the moment I'm a bit more touchy than I would normally be having had one of DD's big down days yesterday. Today she was up enough to go to school, but I end up feeling absolutely washed out after the previous day's down.

To go back to the teenage thing we have today, it seems just ludicrous to me to make them all stay on till they're 18.

I absolutely agree that modern western teenage life isn't necessarily the best use of some teenagers' energy.

Mine seriously would have loved, and been completely suited for, a nomadic hunters life. He would also have made an excellent warrior (and been a bloody fab Viking beserker grin )

We also got the Insults Which Are Guaranteed To Hurt Parents Therefore Giving Offspring The Chance To Wig Out And Refuse To Cooperate. If we refused to rise to it he would usually get on with the task he was trying to avoid.

DH and I often said that it was like being in an abusive relationship. We loved him dearly and he just used that to hurt us. Unfortunately it isn't a relationship that you can walk away from.

flow4 Tue 30-Apr-13 15:50:51

Spot on, Maryz. That's my experience too.

Maryz Tue 30-Apr-13 15:48:59

I agree about it being a Western problem - but it is also a product of western schooling. ds1 hated school from day 1. I think had he grown up on a farm, doing physical labour from an early age he would have been better off.

ds1 says things like that to me (shit parent etc) and he can turn any argument around so that he can sound perfectly reasonable and leave me a shaking quivering wreck. But it has taken me four years (I must be really thick) to realise that it isn't that he believes it (though he might believe some of it), it's that he knows that if he can push me into a row, he can justify being a shit.

He can justify his own behaviour because I "drove him to it". It is like emotional abuse in a marriage. The abuser can blame the abused, and justify the abuse.

Once I stopped reacting, he gradually gave up. Last week he did his very best for about three days to provoke me into a row. He wanted to be able to justify walking out and not sitting his exams. In the old days, I would have reacted - tried to support, persuade and possibly even force him to go. Last week I listened when I had to and walked away when I could.

He sat the exams confused

flow4 Tue 30-Apr-13 15:40:46

Oops, I didn't refresh before posting... There are lots of other posts in between now. Sorry! blush

I think you are absolutely right about teenage angst being a modern and Western phenomenon. Personally, I think a large part of the problem comes from the fact that society has no use for teenagers: it forces them to passive and useless at exactly the stage of their lives when they have most energy. In most other generations and cultures, teenagers would be working or married or fighting wars... And we expect ours to sit still all day and do things 99% of them don't actually want to do. It's a wonder there's not more rebellion, if you ask me.

flow4 Tue 30-Apr-13 15:32:48

Oh I know, Toomuchtea, I have had clinical depression myself a couple of times, so I know MH problems are nothing to envy... It wasn't a rational response; it was part of the mass of confusion and grief, that's all. I was just desperate for there to be something tangibly wrong, so there could be some reason - so I could make sense of it all...

And fwiw, I think DS did have some MH issues, and he did get a CAMHS referral and had some counselling from a charity; but he didn't reach the threshold for formal support, and was anyway unwilling. sad Still, whatever was going on inside his head was no more than very many people deal with, without behaving the way he did, so no reason. And I wanted a reason... So round I went, getting desperate...

Mine would make a great hunter and he would probably enjoy it grin

Seriously though, I have no advice for you because I am probably the world's worst mother but please listen to Mary and Flow, et al.

I wish ten years ago, I'd had some sensible friends like the clever women on here, because I have spent so much time trying to force/persuade/cajole my DS into changing with minimal effect.

It has taken me ten years and thousands of hours (not to mention pounds), and enough tears to refloat the Titanic and I have achieved nothing with him.

If we had detached, sought some help for him and taken better care of ourselves, we might not be the washed out wrecks that we are today.

You do need to grieve for her - she was your little girl and now she has changed, along with all that stuff you thought she would have in her life. It wasn't until last year that DH and I really let go of our DS and properly mourned him. And it feels better now.

Toomuchtea Tue 30-Apr-13 15:12:07

Shag, they will say absolutely anything, anything at all if they think it will get at you. I am amazed at how vicious they can be, In a weird sort of way they are engaged with you, because they must spend some mental energy thinking what they can say that will really get you going.

You make a very good point about how they'd be regarded in developing countries, or even here not so long ago. I remember reading somewhere that the concept of a teenager was a relatively recent one, starting in the 1950s, and that before that you moved from child to adult without much in between.

Shagmundfreud Tue 30-Apr-13 14:50:57

Toomuch - 66.6 percent of my children (2 out of 3) have been referred to CAMHS. DS has ASD. DD for family therapy with us (starts in a fortnight woo hoo! - so sad I am grasping at that as a beacon of hope sad). DD likes to remind me that two of my children have been referred to CAMHS. She believes it is a result my shit parenting. Because good parents don't have autistic children apparently. Oh, and their teenagers behave themselves. hmm

I was thinking about how it might be in developing countries where a teenage child stealing from parents, damaging the house, not contributing to the household through domestic work within the home or paid work outside the home could not be tolerated. Basically because of the danger it would bring to everyone else within the family unit, when the unit is only teetering on the edge of economic vibility to start with. Surely hideously lazy teenagers are largely a modern Western phenomena? What happens in these countries when teens act up? They get beaten - literally - to within an inch of their lives? Or sold into indentured labour? Or just taken and left somewhere far away from home. I suppose if I was living in rural Afghanistan dd would be married by now, and probably have 2 kids (she's 13...). And it would be her mil beating her and threatening to set fire to her if she didn't do as she was told......

Maryz Tue 30-Apr-13 14:24:19

<whispers very quietly while touching wood>

ds finished his course this week, is speaking politely to me, and even said thanks for something I bought him (toiletries) today.

This time four years ago (at 15), he was a serious addict of all sorts of drugs, been kicked out of school, smashed up the house on a daily basis, told me how shit I was and how much he hated me on a daily basis, stole everything we put down and was in debt to the tune of hundreds of euro to the local drug dealer.

We are not out of the woods, the grief and worry is still there, I don't like to even think about who he is hanging around with or where he goes, but life is (most of the time) pretty bearable.

I never thought it would ever get better but (touch wood, cross all digits), it might.

shag i really feel for you.

I can only second all the advice you have already had, at one point last year I had the router, mobile phone chargers and 2 laptops in the boot of my car and a bolt on my door.

I refused to get into any discussion about why she wasnt allowed to use the internet, why she couldnt be on the phone til 4am, why she should not have to go to school, why she wasnt allowed to go to the park at 1.30am (even though she climbed out of her window and went anyway) When she started ranting and raving I used to sing a song in my head.

Things came to a head when she went into school and said we had been beating her. Social services got involved and from there we managed to access family therapy. And I realised that I needed counselling as well because I was not coping.

TBH there is less screaming and threatening and she does go to school. But she still tries to sneak out of the house, she is still posting pics of herself on the internet looking like a wannabe porn star and still not doing as much schoolwork as she should be.

<holds hands>

I pray it gets better as she gets older. That a light goes on for her because nothing I say makes the slightest difference.

Toomuchtea Tue 30-Apr-13 14:11:07

Oh gosh, don't envy those whose DC have children with mental health problems, because both of mine have, and one still is and I can absolutely empathise with your shit mother feelings Shag. I see the raised eyebrows of friends, and hear them say, "oh, didn't DS go to CAMHS too?" Yes, I have a 100% sending my children to CAMHS record.

I would second what everyone else has said of trying to detach, though it does feel almost impossible when it's what you think about all day, every day, and possibly even dream about.

Maryz Tue 30-Apr-13 14:02:23

You are grieving Shag.

It is just like a bereavement, this watching your child desperately try to destroy themselves and you.

For me anyway, I went through the grief in very much similar stages as if someone had died - because the child I thought I had did seem to have died. I was grieving the past, and I was dreading the future because it was going to be a future without the son I thought I had. So I went through the disbelief, the anger, the depression, all the stages of grief I guess I'm now at acceptance.

Which felt like "giving up" for a long time, but I have now come to terms with it (most of the time anyway). I still get great patches of resentment anger, as well as days where I cry a lot for the child ds was and the adult I thought he would become sad.

flow4 Tue 30-Apr-13 12:27:16

Yes. I absolutely know what you mean Shag.

I have sometimes read other people's posts where they reveal that their DC has mental health problems, or a learning disability, or ASD, or is adopted, and I have felt a little twinge (not-very-gloriously) of envy that they had some excuse for their DC's twattish behaviour, while I had none.

I can remember posting previously about my grief (here and here ) and feeling like I was going through a bereavement.

I feared that my DS had damaged my (once enormous) love for him so badly that I would never be able to love him again. All I can tell you, a year on from the worst times, is that my love for his is still damaged, but I can now see glimpses of 'my' son - he is still there under all the shit, and there have been a few occasions recently when I have actually felt able to hug him again.

You don't have to come to terms with it, I don't think. You have to endure it, very like a bereavement: wallowing and howling for a while, then making yourself do normal, every-day things, and looking after yourself, and painting on that smile... Until one day you'll find not just pretending any more.

Shagmundfreud Tue 30-Apr-13 12:01:22

Thanks all. Flow I have read your comments on the other thread and they are very helpful. smile

But I'm struggling with feeling WORN OUT with all this, despite taking some time out for myself (I can do this when dc's are at school). My heart feels really heavy.

No matter how many books I read or how much I know about brain changes in adolescence, I still can't seem to get my head around the fact that DD is deliberately destroying our happiness as a family because she wants to. She isn't ill. She isn't damaged. She has been loved all her life by lots and lots of good people. She is healthy, clever, has friends, has a nice home and yet, and yet, and yet.... all she wants to do is make a normal, happy family life impossible for us. I'm really aware that life is short, that illness can take any of us at any time, that we deserve and should strive to be happy. I lost my dad a few years ago, but I still have the rest of my family, my health (sort of), DH. We are solvent. We have a secure home. We have NOTHING to stop us from being happy - except dd, who is doing all she can to make life unbearable.

If she was anorexic, lonely, had ASD, was depressed, had learning difficulties or a developmental disorder I could understand her having a massive struggle to cope with growing up, and would accept what's going on as unavoidable fall-out. But she's none of these things. When she's allowed to do whatever she wants she is actually very high spirited. Happy. Every single confrontation and crisis that we've had to deal with has arisen because she WON'T DO ANYTHING SHE DOESN'T WANT TO DO. And when she is thwarted in doing what she wants to do, she becomes malicious, vindictive, violent. She is also frighteningly manipulative.

How do you mentally deal with someone you love behaving towards you - for years - in a way which is stupid, abusive and cruel? Sorry to be saying all this - I know that anyone who has struggled with a really difficult teen has had to come to terms with this aspect of the experience. But I can't come to terms with it at the moment. Neither can DH. I don't know if either of us ever will.

I feel like I'm experiencing a sort of bereavement.

flow4 Mon 29-Apr-13 23:07:10

Shag, it's grim. Monday mornings have always been a particular flash-point for us too. I have lost count of the number of days DS has failed or refused to get up, and 2 of the 3 occasions when I have called 999 were Mon mornings when I tried to get him up. Even two years down the line he still struggles - he didn't make it to college this morning - but at least now he's 18 that's not my responsibility, so I try a few times, then give up.

Your DD is being horrible like this for two reasons, I think. Firstly, because it gets to you, and mothers are a convenient scapegoat for every teen. hmm sad Secondly, being appallingly horrible to you, her mum, is a way for her to trick herself into thinking she doesn't need you any more, while in fact staying emotionally close. It's how some teens seem to need to handle (or at least begin) the process of separation and growing up. hmm It is hard because it feels so very personal, but really it isn't. It also hurts a lot because 'your little baby', whom you have loved so much, is rejecting you.

I found it helped to think that if my DS didn't actually love me, deep down, however well he hid it, then he wouldn't bother putting so much effort into being horrible to me. hmm

The old 'detach, detach, detach' advice is really good, if you can manage it.

I started to write more, but in fact I have already said what I was about to say in a post to Ghosts on this thread , made on/at Tue 08-Jan-13 10:18:23. Have a read... smile

Mintyy Mon 29-Apr-13 17:24:19

Oh gosh, I do sympathise. I was going to say the same as Mary. Make it impossible for her to use the internet at home and remove any "treats" or particularly appealing food from the kitchen, get in the car and go out and give yourself a break from it all.

She may be thriving on all the drama and fuss she causes so think of her as having an enormous toddler tantrum and ignore as much as you possibly can. But do quietly let her know that if she ever attacks you or a sibling then you will be calling the police.

With regard to school (I remember from another thread which school your dd goes to) could you keep a brief diary describing your efforts each morning to get your dd to school (along with timings and all her excuses for not going) which will be useful if school want to take things further.

I really think you must detach as much as you possibly can. Don't let her affect you so deeply (easier said than done, I really do know).

Maryz Mon 29-Apr-13 15:19:30

Take the laptop, take the router, and go out for tea. Go somewhere nice. Make sure she has no access to the internet

And when you go back, just ignore her, pretend she is a very irritating lodger that you can't actually be rude to, but who you have no emotional attachment to at all.

You need (you and dh) to get your strength, to come up with a plan for your survival, quite apart from her. So that may mean removing a lot of things that make life nice for her, but in a detached way - Why has she got ds's laptop? That and all your valuables should be locked away, either in your bedroom (which if things carry on might have to have a bolt) or in the car, or in someone else's house.

It may be no harm for your dh to crack. It was only when dh finally cracked under the pressure that we were able to formulate a plan that made family life bearable. Yes, it did isolate ds, but he was isolated anyway. We started back to family meals (without him); when he was particularly awful we would go out. We removed valuables and luxuries when we weren't there. I even stored nice food in my locked bedroom blush.

It was awful for about a month, and then as we stopped engaging with him, he gradually stopped trying to wind us up, and it all got more peaceful. Not pleasant, but more peaceful.

Also, you need a counsellor to talk to you and dh. Someone you can bat ideas off and say what you really feel (even if that is occasionally "I wish she was dead" or "I wish I was dead"). Someone to take the emotion out of the management.

I am so sorry for you both. You are under so much strain. I have nothing to offer you but best wishes.

I gave up trying to get my DS to school eventually after many scenes like you had this morning. Controversially, I actually lied to the school and pretended he was ill, rather than get myself into trouble, but the fact is, I couldn't physically get him there.

Shagmundfreud Mon 29-Apr-13 14:59:58

Hi all. Well, Monday morning and things have plumbed the depths again, after a not so bad weekend. Not so bad because dd was occupied with a sleepover (friend round on Friday) and again on Saturday (went to same friend's house to stay). She was nice on Thursday night (apart from casually locking me out the house while I was gardening for no other reason than she felt like it, and for laughingly asking me 'do you think you're having a breakdown?'). She apologised later in the evening and asked me to help her with her English homework. First work she's done at home in a while. Weeks I think. I now realise that this was preparation for her asking if she could have a friend round on Friday and to go out on Saturday. If she'd not made an effort to behave in a reasonable way I would have said 'no' to a sleepover because of her awful, awful behaviour at the beginning of the week. Predicably she went right back to being her normal self by Sunday afternoon (after I'd said 'no to her going out again to a friend's house).

So this morning she was rude when I was trying to get her up for school, and then decided to wash her hair at 8pm exactly at the point that she was supposed to be leaving the house. DH was at home today because we were expecting a visit from a builder to discuss work on the house. We took the boys to school together, and when we got back at 9.20am dd was still here, roaming around the house. DH lost the plot a bit - starting off telling her to go to school, ended up repeating it x 1000, getting more and more frustrated and angry. She said she wouldn't go because she couldn't find her hairbrush and because I wouldn't help her with her eye-liner (I don't think she's ever asked me to do this before). DH found her hairbrush under a massive pile of crap in her room and in frustration made a move to brush her hair for her. Her hair was in a ponytail. She then became hysterical, told us both to fuck off, shredded all her school books, and said point blank that she wasn't going to school.

DH was in tears. sad

I can't remember the last time he cried. Can't believe she's reduced such a strong, kind man, who has been so loving and patient, and has really tried to make time for her and be positive, to such a state.

She's hidden/thrown out a full week's worth of packed lunches that I made for the boys which I'd left in the bottom of the fridge. She's sitting down in the kitchen now, eating her way through the contents of the fridge, watching tv on DS's lap top, and being flippant.

Honestly I don't know what to think or feel. I am devastated to see DH in such a state. He's been an absolute rock through all of the last two years of hateful behaviour from DD.

What do we do? What can I say to him?

flow4 Mon 29-Apr-13 11:31:06

Hi Maryz, I'm trying to buy a house --and not go insane in the process-! shock confused

How's things today, Shag? How has the weekend been?

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