When our children are small and through their teens we are always available to help. To Protect. To Save. But what happens when an adult child makes mistakes? How far should we go to save them? What if they keep making the same mistakes over and over? Does it depend on the age? Do we stop helping at 18, 20, 25, 30?
I know what to do when someone has a drug or alcohol problem that they refuse to give up. As hard as it is you have to cut them off. You have to be wary. And you have to know that as an adult they can't really be helped until they want to be saved. For real. But what if the issue is just bad judgment in general? How long do you help someone who sabotages their life every time they get it together?
A week ago last Saturday Middlest called me in the middle of the night sobbing her eyes out. Her words were, "Why are you always right?" She wanted to come home. And what did we do? We got in the car and drove 12 hours in one day to bring her back. We knew she was in a bad situation but she made her choice and there wasn't much we could do. During the time she was gone she glossed over what was going on and continued to sound positive. This guy was straightening up. He had a job. They were getting married. She was having a baby. Everything was going to be fine. She was sure of it.
When we got her home the truth came out. He never quit drinking at all. Her bank account was cleaned out. During a short time they had stayed in a hotel and he was stealing her cash and going out to drink. His behavior was becoming scary. He lost two jobs in two weeks and had found a pretty decent one so she was giving him another chance. And. He chose to drink again. This was another chance after he already had become physical with her and shoved her against a wall. They were living in a dilapidated trailer with holes in the walls and no heat or air and no stove. They had no money. They had no transportation. They didn't have enough food. Luckily his family helped out a little with that so she didn't starve. She has been having spotting and cramping all along. But you see, she wanted this so bad. She thought she could save him. She thought she could save the situation. She thought she could fix the first mistake she made by compounding the mistakes and that she could make it work. Because she was living in a dream world of hope. And it wasn't real. And when the world came crashing down all she wanted was the life she had carelessly discarded and lost to come back. It doesn't happen quite that way. But we can't leave our child in danger and so we saved her. Again. She is home, and not out of state which is a relief. There will be no wedding to this creep and for that we are thankful. We will be looking over our shoulders for awhile and that is frightening. we don't know what he will do next. We all just hope he chooses to move on. And there will be no child. Middlest has cystic ovaries. She has had problems since she was about 16. She was drinking and smoking during the first few weeks before she found out. She was malnourished and she was under an incredible amount of stress dealing with this guys very serious problems and trying to make this work and keep an upbeat front for us. She has had a miscarriage. My heart breaks for her because she had allowed herself that little light of hope for the sake of this. It chokes me to say the words 'for the best', but it truly is. I tell her it will be ok. She worries because this problem in our family leads to early hysterectomies. I had mine when I was 31. My sister was in her early twenties and as a result is childless. She's afraid she won't be able to have children. But I tell her someday it will happen. One way or another the little boy she wishes for will be hers when the time is right and she is truly ready and able. For now she needs to do some healing and start over-again.
Middlest has a 'guy problem'. As many years as I've told her to respect and depend on herself first and be the center of her own life first she has continued to fall in this trap. She has walked flat away from some terrific young men and been drawn instead to the damaged and damaging. Middlest is a young woman of faith. She's my only daughter that goes to church of her own free will. And she wants to love and take care of these broken people. It is a disastrous tendency. I've told her, "make it your career, don't make it your personal life." So far she hasn't learned. I'm hoping now that she finally has.
Which leaves us in this position. A 20 year old penniless unemployed daughter becoming dependent on us again. We don't mind if she lives with us forever if she's making the most of her life. We've told her that many times. She's an incredibly bright, talented, and lovely girl. She's sabotaged her schooling, her jobs and her personal life over and over again. For the time being we have told her that she's basically 13 around here for now. Her lack of judgment and discernment shows a person whose maturity is far from her age. We can't trust her. We can't believe anything she says. Just like an addict she has to surrender control to us for the time being. We have made it clear that we will always be there for her. But we can't save her from herself anymore. We can't clean up her messes any longer. We are helping her start over and when she is on her feet and her decisions are hers she is on her own.
For 26 years 'All I Ever Wanted' was for my daughters to have 'All They Ever Wanted.'
What I've learned as a parent is that 'All They Ever Wanted' is not always what is best for them. The choices they make have a hand in it. So I revise that. All I want for my daughters is 'what is best for them'. At least I learned something along the way.
I didn't know I could ever grieve again the way I have over the past month. The worst moment of all was this. It had been ten years since I felt that hopeless. God came real close to going over that line of what I can handle, but I'm sure he's a little distracted these days with the big picture, and in the end he gave me 'All I Wanted'. Which was for all this to just disappear and things be the way they were before. And weirdly, that is close to where they are today. Our anxiety is still a little high because we can't be sure it's entirely over but basically my house has returned to functioning as it did exactly one month ago. Two of my adult daughters are on the balcony belting the song:
I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today."
Like waking up from a nightmare.
I don't want to be sad and angry here ever again.
I've been staying away from blogging while I gather the pieces of myself back together. I'm back.
And to begin I have listed what I am thinking about today on my other blog if you care to peek:
Little things that get me through and that I am thankful for.
Thank you for being there for me dear cyber friends. There are some things you can't share in the real world when you are the kind of person that doesn't want to sob in front of people and doesn't want them to try to touch and console you because it just makes it worse. Just letting me know you're out there somewhere helped me through : )
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