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I miss my daughter
November 7, 2006
10:23 am
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jwt
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Our 25-year-old daughter lives over 1,000 miles away and we haven't seen her in almost a year. Haven't been able to have a civil conversation with her for much longer than that. Her last visit was filled with her anger and our tears.

She moved to Montana two years ago. The weather there is unpredictable this time of year and our car is too old to safely make the trip. Since we couldn't afford to fly her mother and I to Montana, we were going to borrow $800 from our home equity loan to fly her back for Thanksgiving. But, the only arrangements she wants would get her here on Friday evening and fly her out early Saturday morning. She just really doesn't want to see us or talk to us.

I miss her so much. But, somehow, it just doesn't make sense to create more financial hardship and heartache for us from another anger filled visit.

She either can't or won't explain the source of her anger. It's been a part of our relationship since she was at least 16 years old. We are at a total loss about what caused it or how to break through it.

We have also known for a long time that our daughter is less than truthful about what she tells people about herself and about us. Right now for example, she is claiming to her employers that she has a PhD from a college she never attended. We're not even sure that she has a BA degree from the college she did attend. Even though we spent our life savings to finance her education, she would never allow us to see her grades or college status. Nevertheless, she is a very bright girl with an uncanny ability to make people believe her fantasies.

She had what amounted to a nervous breakdown about four years ago. It happened when someone in our town she was conning for financial reasons discovered the web of lies she told them. Only then did these people then contact us and we were astounded by all of the stories she had made up about herself and about us.

We wanted her to stay home to get some help. She wanted no part of living here. She ran back to college without our financial support. She must have taken out some loans because we've had collection agencies contact us trying to track her down. She moved to Montana a little over two years ago and I think she is still running from her problems.

We know she went to a school psychiatrist for a little while when she returned to college after her breakdown. She did allow her psychiatrist to share information with us. He suspected that she might be bipolar. She insisted to him that her problems where physical and not mental. She soon stopped taking medications and going to the doctor.

We know she has been going to counseling in Montana because we pay her insurance co-payments. But, that is all we know about her current counseling.

There is so much more I could say to describe the situation and almost nothing to explain it. Our daughter is our only child. She is in my thoughts throughout each day and always in my prayers. She totally rejects our love and it has truly broken my heart. Unless there is miracle from God or medicine, it will be a sadness I'll carry for the rest of my life.

November 7, 2006
10:49 am
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Jimcy
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jwt - I am sorry you are going through such a difficult time.

I don't know what to tell you to make you feel better, from what I read I can tell how much love you have for your daughter. I am the same age as your daughter and I must tell you that although I take alot of my anger and frustratoin on my mother sometimes, she is my best friend and I love her to death. I never tell my mom that I love her but I hope she knows how much I do. I am sure your daughter loves you too and she is just going through a difficult time and she can't reach to you just yet.

Be strong - everything happens for a reason and she will come back to you.

I'll keep you in my prayers.

November 7, 2006
11:05 am
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lovinglife
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((((jwt))))

November 7, 2006
12:59 pm
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kasie919
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JWT:

Welcome to AAC, Your thread got my attention, I have a 21 year old daughter who is a bit like your daughter, with a few exceptions, we love our childre so very much and are always struggleing to fins out why and what we have done..

My daughter today,sighned custody of her one year old daughter to her step mother, she has decided that she rather party, and have friends, then be responsible for her child, it is literally breaking my heart, she refuses to call me, although i have been paying her cell phone, bill, I will be terminating it tomorrow, i thought maybe she would call me, to discuss, this as an adult, but alas, she hasnt even grown up yet..

My heart reaches out for you and your wife, all i can say is pray for your daughter to be safe and stay somewhat healthy,

blessings, Kasie

November 7, 2006
7:08 pm
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lovetocrochet
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JWT,

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this heartache surrounding your daughter. I doubt this will be of much comfort but if you have absolute conviction that you raised her with the best morals and values that you could provide, then I think you can walk away knowing that you did your job.

It does make it difficult if she's not going to communicate what she's so angry about. It could be it has nothing to do with you and more about how unhappy she is with herself... and that is something you cannot fix.

The ironic thing is, if she does have bipolar, that IS physical in nature. It's a biochemical imbalance.

All I can suggest from here, based on what you've described, is read up on bipolar and see if that describes your daughter. There's also a chance she may be narcissistic, borderline, or something else going on - many personality disorders are originally mistaken for bipolar.

Otherwise, the best thing you can do for her is - pardon my language - let her fall on her ass. You and your wife still need to practice self-preservation. If that means turning her into the authorities for her activities, cutting off the purse strings and making her support herself via an honest living, or shunning contact until she gets it, then so be it...

But you have done everything already apparently to prove you love her and are there for her, and she's just thrown it all back in your face. You need to think of protecting yourselves in all this now, and yes maybe what I've said sounds harsh but sometimes being tough IS the most loving thing you can do.

November 8, 2006
6:36 am
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jwt
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Thanks you to everyone who responded. It’s very hard to talk about this with friends and family who all pretend to have perfect relationships with their children.

I do have faith in God and believe that everything does happen for a reason. It’s so hard sometimes to see that reason and it’s becoming even harder to believe that our daughter will eventually come back to us.

My wife and I are not perfect people. We’re humans with human faults. I’m sure there were situations where what we said to her and what we did could have seemed hypocritical to her. Nevertheless, we did our best to raise our daughter with good morals and values. I can remember the importance we stressed about the need to be truthful. I sometimes wonder if that is not connected somehow to her long habit of not telling the truth.

It was suggested that we could walk away knowing that we did the best job we could. Just walking away from her is something I cannot seem to do. There is so very little that I can do to change the situation. Maybe she is just using us to pay her medical bills or to be a target for her frustrations. But, it’s very hard for me to just turn my back on our only child who is struggling with her life.

When we have been able to get our daughter to talk about her unhappiness, her explanations are vague and unconnected. She says that she wasn’t happy with us even as a small child. We would nag her too much about cleaning up her room and didn’t value her interests and accomplishments. We did nag her a lot about the incredible mess she left in her wake… it was WAY beyond normal and would often trash the entire house. Sometimes it seemed that she was doing it as a way to rebel. And, she has told us on more than one occasion not to think that we were so important that we were the cause of her unhappiness.

We know that bipolar is physical in nature. When our daughter says that her problems are physical she is talking about something very physical like a brain tumor. She has struggled for many years with headaches. When she had her breakdown, she had told the other family that she had a brain tumor and only had a few weeks to live. Since she had also told them that we had completely abandoned her on her deathbed, they were in the process of making funeral arrangements for her. The story was so fantastic that they began to check into it and discovered that none of it was true.

We have read up on all sorts of physical and psychological conditions trying to figure out what’s going on with our daughter. A lot of things seem to appear as possibilities. But, we are not professionals in the field and really have no clue what the real problem is. That’s why we are more than happy to pay the co-payments for her visits to the psychiatrist. We just hope that she is telling him the truth and not just spinning some story to him. She has an amazing ability to be a very convincing liar.

Maybe it is wrong but we have been careful not to increase the pressure on her. For example, we have not assisted the collection agencies efforts … mostly because we just didn’t like the agencies‘ sleazy tactics. We have also not contacted her employers to expose her real educational background. Again, maybe that’s wrong. But, we believe these types of things would further enrage her against us and definitely contribute to her “falling on her ass.” And, we are VERY afraid of what she might do to herself if her world all came crashing down around her again.

November 8, 2006
8:57 am
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Wow, jwt, I'm so sorry you have had to deal with such catastrophic behavior.

She sounds like she is a very very good liar!! I can see how much worry and stress you are under. I wonder if you both went (or just you) to a family? counselor (pastor? someone?) you might be able to get some tools to better deal with her when you DO get some opportunities.

Do you look up and read on the internet about bi-polar? There are so many sites now. And people who have been close to (parents who have tried to raise) young people with this problem.

One of our sons hooked up with a gf a few years ago who was bipolar. They were going to go on a trip together, and she disappeared on him a few days beforehand -- very bizarre and no one seemed to know where she went!

When she re-surfaced, he never continued the relationship. She had suddenly gone off with an old bf, realized her mistake afterwards, and wanted to go back to the way it had been.

THE BIZARRE part, to me, was a phone call from her father to US. He had called our son as well. He was pretty much pleading with our son, and then asking US to "talk" to him, to take his daughter back, to give her a second chance. He was trying to explain to us what bi-polar was like. We felt so sad. He knew how messed up things were with her and he just loved her and wanted her to have a good life. And our son saw how messed up it really was and sort of saved himself and got away from her because he knew he could not help and it would only be miserable.

It sounds like you have done all you know how to do to help her. I wish I could help. I know how much you love her. All you can do is continue to love her and try hard not to enable the wrong behaviors. She could end up in bancrupcy, in jail, in hospital....do you know how you want to handle some of those things? Being able to love her and accept that you cannot have it the way we all would want is hard, but I think it is possible to get to that stage of acceptance and faith.

I'll be praying for your family.

November 9, 2006
6:22 am
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jwt
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Thank you for your prayers. I do believe they help. And, I have enough faith to believe that God has a plan for all of us … even if we don’t understand the plan or would have chosen the plan.
I went to counseling a few years ago to help me deal with this and some other problems in my life. I’m sorry to say that I was not particularly impressed with the experience. Nevertheless, I haven’t written off the value of counseling. My wife and I are of different faiths. She keeps telling me good things about her priest. For the past year, I have been asking her to make an appointment for us to talk with him about this situation … she keeps saying that she will but never does.
I have done a lot of reading on the internet about bipolar disorder and even posted to a parents support forum for a while. Her symptoms point to so many things and I’m not sure that she is really or exclusively bipolar.
Yes, I realize that our daughter could end up in bankruptcy, jail or the hospital. No, I really don’t know specifically how I handle those situations. I hope that she or someone will tell us if anything like that happens to her. All I know for sure is that I would want to go there and do whatever I could to help her.
Acceptance is hard for me in this situation. On an intellectual level, I know there is very little I can do given the distance and lack of communication. But, my heart keeps pushing me to find a solution.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the definition of stupid … when you keep doing things the same way and expecting different results. A couple of nights ago, my wife said that we should stop sending our daughter birthday and Christmas presents. I don’t know if her intent is to get our daughters attention or to show her how tough we are or what. Our daughter only grudgingly acknowledges our birthdays and hasn’t sent us a card or given us a present for any occasion in many years. Nevertheless, I just can’t ignore our daughter on her birthday or Christmas. I know I won’t stop sending presents … maybe more for me than our daughter. I don’t want our daughter to think that we are retaliating for her indifference. And, I feel the need to continue to show our daughter, even in this small material way, that we care about her and love her no matter what. Maybe I’m just stupid.

November 9, 2006
10:01 am
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lovetocrochet
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Is there a reason you can't schedule an appointment to see the priest yourself? Priests normally don't limit their ministry services to Catholics only... they're just there to serve in God's name no matter who you are. If you're not comfortable with this, is there a pastor/minister in your own denomination you can talk to? Or ask one of your churches for a referral to a counselor they recommend?

I know it's difficult, but you really are going to have to let her go. Nothing is set in stone... the reason I suggested letting her fall on her behind is because sometimes that's the ONLY way someone like this learns to get back up and act like an adult.

Go pick up your Bible and read about the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). His father had to LET HIM GO and let him make his own mistakes, deal with his own consequences, before he reformed. He did NOT interfere in all those years his son went out, blew his inheritance and squandered himself down to the level of eating pig scraps. He welcomed his son back with open arms when his son was ready to humble himself, but NO SOONER.

I think there's a lot to be said for that. Christ made it clear this is a parable about how God operates... and we are supposed to love as God does. That includes letting our children go and make their own mistakes, and also not forgiving them unless they repent when they are acting like sociopaths without remorse.

To be blunt... I think you're being too nice and you could risk making things worse both for her and yourself. In a way you allow yourself to continue to be used and abused as long as you keep "reaching out" to her like you do... and she knows it. Don't think she doesn't. Someone as adept at lying and wiggling out of situations as you describe is also excellent at manipulating anyone and everyone... including her own parents.

I say this as a mother of a teenager who has made my experiences in parenthood interesting to say the least at times. I have had to be tough and let her go. As we speak she lives in another state with her father.

During her preteens she became violent - she'd had a history of aggression but it really went sky-high around that time. She threatened to kill people (including me and my husband - we had to lock our door at night), tried to kill my cat, physically assaulted classmates and teachers. People wanted to blame it on her autism, on my remarrying, you name it. But nobody would offer solutions, just pointing fingers or coddling her.

The bottom line: She still is responsible for her behavior. She is very high functioning and intelligent and she knows right from wrong. She just simply felt she didn't have to follow the rules and knew how to bend things because she saw that it worked.

It took her father a while to get it. Not until she went to live with him did he see that she did know how to lie and manipulate. Until then he thought everyone was just picking on his poor disabled daughter... then she started doling it out to him and he got the shock of his life.

After that he began to really push for her to be held accountable and for her to get the services she needed to turn her around. He also has had more clout in the school system, etc. than I did just because he's much better at being pushy so he's better at getting results.

It's not easy, it's downright painful, it's taken a lot of time and work, and there's many times I've wondered if I really screwed up! I also think there are some things I could have done differently for sure, I have not been the perfect mother by far. But for what it's worth she and I have both learned about ourselves and each other through it all and I think our relationship is slowly rebuilding into something better.

Anyway, sorry to ramble. Just wanted to share my experiences in this area and provide you with some things to consider.

November 10, 2006
7:55 am
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jwt
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Your comments were very insightful lovetocrochet. I’ve heard many of the same things from the one friend that I talk to about this problem and who has been there for me through the entire experience. It also sounds like you have learned a lot from your own experiences.

Sure, I could call the priest. But, I don’t know him and have no real reason to think he would be more help than the other two counselors I’ve seen. I won’t say that they were totally useless, but I really wasn’t all that impressed with what they had to offer.

You say that I need to let my daughter go. In reality, she has let us go. Our only real involvement in her life is paying the co-payment for her psychiatrist. I’m not going to stop doing that because it maybe offers the best opportunity for her to work though her problems and to get herself straightened out. I’m just concerned that she is spinning a tale to her doctor too. I saw her do it to a counselor right after her breakdown. She is VERY good at it and the counselor bought into it hook line and sinker.

Yes, I do want to continue to send her birthday and Christmas presents. I don’t enjoy the communication we have with her because she is so disrespectful and rude. Nevertheless, my wife tries to call her at least once a month to hear her voice and assure us that she is still alive. I would guess that you’re suggesting that we stop sending her anything and stop trying to contact her?

Other than the contacts I’ve mentioned, we have absolutely no influence on the direction of her life. I do have very mixed feelings about her falling on her ass. On the one hand, I know she needs to hit bottom before she will ever try to turn her life around. She has seen her world shattered before when everyone who trusted her discovered that she was lying about everything. Her mother and I were the only two adults in her life who knew about her lies and didn’t turn our backs on her. She handled the situation by running away, fabricating a new fantasy and lying her way into a new situation. I think she would do the same thing again unless she hit absolute TOTAL bottom. If she ever found herself in a situation where she didn’t have the option to run and lie, I’m really afraid that she is capable of committing suicide.

It’s interesting that you would bring up the Bible story about the prodigal son. Our daughter mentioned that story to us during her last visit and sees the parallels to her own life. I don’t disagree with that comparison. But, I think there is a difference between forgiveness and slamming the door in her face. I want our daughter to know that we still care about her and want her to get herself straightened out. I really wonder if the prodigal son would have returned home if he thought his father had no feelings for him at all?

My friend and you are in agreement about our daughter abusing us. My friend said the same thing earlier this week. However we have seen too much and have been lied to too many times. I think that even she knows that she can’t “play” us like she does the people who don’t know the real her. And, I think that is the reason she has cut off just about all contact with us. We are no longer of any particular use to her.

Maybe we are being too nice to her. I suppose we could increase our involvement in her life by contacting her employer, her doctor, her creditors and people in her community and exposing her past and her lies. But, I really don’t want to become her tormentor and really don’t think that the prodigal son’s father tried to do that either. I think she is going to have to take the responsibility for her own mistakes rather than us doing something that would give her an opportunity to blame us for her failure.

Thanks for your insights and challenging me to think about what we’re doing. It’s helped me think about some aspects of the situation that I have never before really considered. That’s why I decided to post here in the first place.

November 10, 2006
8:31 am
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There are some other things about the situation with our daughter that really bother me.

When I’m talking to someone who doesn’t know about our daughter’s problems, they will occasionally ask about her. I will give them a brief cheerful description of what she’s doing in Montana. But, I don’t think I’m hiding my stress very well and I know my explanation must sound a little odd. No one ever asks for more information. I think they know that something is wrong and just don’t want to know.

I’m very uncomfortable discussing our daughter with friends or family who do know about the problem. They always act so concerned. I don’t want their pity and feel that it is really none of their business. And, sometimes I think I see a look on their face … almost an accusatory look … like we must have done something to cause this. Either way, I feel like a total failure.

When I’m in a social situation and hear people talk about their family and their children, it makes me very sad. A loving family is something that we want so very much and it’s something that we will probably never have.

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