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How do you handle the family control freak?

Old 11-08-2010, 04:14 PM
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How do you handle the family control freak?

My daughter is cutting me out of her life because she does not agree with how I treat her sister, the alcoholic.
Their father was an alcoholic but I did not realize it until years after I divorced him.He did his drinking away from home so we never saw him drunk or abusive.He was just mostly absent. The girls were only 5 and 6 .They are now 40, 41. The older one had a drug problem in college until she asked me to help her and we found a treatment center. She was drug free for 20 years. The past 3 year she has had increasing and multiple health problems which cause her to be in constant pain. She also began to drink too much and started to go to AA .She had surgery in July and the bones are not healing, her partner decided after 3 years that she had had enough of the health problem so she stopped the support and locked her out of the apartment. She is in a homeless shelter now. I am going to NYC to try to find a room we can afford to rent for her. She does not want to leave NY She is an artist and she is beginning to find some recognition of her work. I am an artists as well so I know how important that is to her. When she is painting she is at peace.
When I told her sister my plans she got very angry and said she was cutting off contact with the family because I insist on enabling. I don't feel I have a choice . I have no question it is the right thing to do. I have not "bailed her out" ever or helped or enabled her. It is hard enough to have one child in such pain and at the same time have the other child do this emotional blackmail. I believe that the controlling child also has issues of self esteem and insecurity and she deals with that by trying hard to control everything and be perfect and always right. If she were hurting I would be there for her. I have been many times.In the best of times we three have had such fun together and the sisters, though very different loved each other. This split is extra painful right now but I cannot think of anything to do about it.
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:32 PM
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I see this differently than you...

Your other daughter sounds like she has a level of self-awareness, she does not want to participate in her sister's addiction, and is therefore setting a boundary for you and her sister that you don't like. Perhaps you label it emotional blackmail because it feels better to you that way, you list her faults to devalue her opinion, and you can paint her as the bad guy instead of looking at yourself in this.

You are the one getting her an apartment because she does not want to leave New York. Is this not enabling? You are the one trying to arrange this so you will all be like you used to be. Is this not controlling? You are the one listing what is wrong with both or your daughters and speaking nothing about yourself. Is this not focusing on others and not yourself-- another form of controlling?

Get thee to an Al-Anon meeting as quickly as possible. Six different meetings before you decide if it is right for you.

Cyranok

Originally Posted by fullcircle View Post
My daughter is cutting me out of her life because she does not agree with how I treat her sister, the alcoholic.
Their father was an alcoholic but I did not realize it until years after I divorced him.He did his drinking away from home so we never saw him drunk or abusive.He was just mostly absent. The girls were only 5 and 6 .They are now 40, 41. The older one had a drug problem in college until she asked me to help her and we found a treatment center. She was drug free for 20 years. The past 3 year she has had increasing and multiple health problems which cause her to be in constant pain. She also began to drink too much and started to go to AA .She had surgery in July and the bones are not healing, her partner decided after 3 years that she had had enough of the health problem so she stopped the support and locked her out of the apartment. She is in a homeless shelter now. I am going to NYC to try to find a room we can afford to rent for her. She does not want to leave NY She is an artist and she is beginning to find some recognition of her work. I am an artists as well so I know how important that is to her. When she is painting she is at peace.
When I told her sister my plans she got very angry and said she was cutting off contact with the family because I insist on enabling. I don't feel I have a choice . I have no question it is the right thing to do. I have not "bailed her out" ever or helped or enabled her. It is hard enough to have one child in such pain and at the same time have the other child do this emotional blackmail. I believe that the controlling child also has issues of self esteem and insecurity and she deals with that by trying hard to control everything and be perfect and always right. If she were hurting I would be there for her. I have been many times.In the best of times we three have had such fun together and the sisters, though very different loved each other. This split is extra painful right now but I cannot think of anything to do about it.
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:33 PM
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Everyone has to do what they feel is best for their own peace of mind. If your daughter feels she needs to step back and have no contact for a while, that is her decision to make. If you feel you have to go and help take care of your 41 year old daughter, that is your decision to make. You both have the right to do what you are doing.
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Old 11-08-2010, 05:10 PM
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I have been to several Al anon meetings and plan to continue to go.I am doing what I can do for my own peace. I was reacting to the rage I got from my youngest.I thought others might have had similar family problems. Of course, Cyranoak, I can only fix myself and it is best to look there first.I will look carefully at the points you make.Enabling means to me to do something that helps the person continue to drink. From where I am I am doing the opposite of that. I am trying to help her live,literally not to die. Her health situation is so bad she could die from this. She needs to continue to work on her steps as she has . She also needs a roof and a bed.Withholding help with this would be punishment.
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Old 11-08-2010, 05:33 PM
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I mean this gently...What is she controlling? Cutting off contact with you or the family doesn't control anyone else or anything. Just herself really and her own sanity.
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Old 11-08-2010, 05:39 PM
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In retrospect I was somewhat out of line...

I apologize. I could have made my point in a different way. You clearly, through my jerkiness, saw what I was saying.

I would clarify only two things-- your other daughter in cutting off contact with you and/or her sister may be doing what she has to do for her own recovery. She may be "controlling what she can." I believe the rage is a separate issue. The other thing is that, for me, I would expand your definition of enabling to include doing anything for somebody that they can do themselves unless they want the help, I can freely and purely give it with no personal agenda, and they are not manipulating me for some reason or another. You, of course, are the arbiter of this for yourself.

And I would ask only this-- is leaving artist daughter in New York the best solution for you? If yes, yes. If no, no.

Take care,

Cyranoak

Originally Posted by fullcircle View Post
I have been to several Al anon meetings and plan to continue to go.I am doing what I can do for my own peace. I was reacting to the rage I got from my youngest.I thought others might have had similar family problems. Of course, Cyranoak, I can only fix myself and it is best to look there first.I will look carefully at the points you make.Enabling means to me to do something that helps the person continue to drink. From where I am I am doing the opposite of that. I am trying to help her live,literally not to die. Her health situation is so bad she could die from this. She needs to continue to work on her steps as she has . She also needs a roof and a bed.Withholding help with this would be punishment.
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Old 11-08-2010, 06:44 PM
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Fullcircle,
Interesting question, brought a lot of thoughts to me.
Something stood out to me. You say her partner locked her out of the apartment because she was tired of the illness. This does not sound complete.
One does not react to someone's ill-health by locking them out.
She may have broken up with her and asked her to move out?
NYC is an expensive place to live. If she insists on staying there for her career but is in a shelter, sounds like her priorities are not quite straight.
Re your other daughter, at 40, this whole thing did not start yesterday. Sometimes the sibs can see what the parents don't. I saw my sister smoking and climbing out the window to meet her boyfriend. They have no idea to this day.
It is said, that "the most powerful person in a house, is the sickest person in it".
Maybe she is sick of playing second fiddle to your eldest.
Having said all that, I am sorry that you are hurting.
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:02 PM
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I guess I am confused in that I don't know if this 41 year old daughter is in recovery and sober, or what?

Even if she is able to get some sort of financial assistance through SSD (which can take years), how can she afford to stay in NYC?

I really don't know what else to say.
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:04 PM
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I have found in the past that when I have decided to take it upon myself to "help" someone else, for all the right reasons and all the best intentions, I never considered that my "help" would then be expected to be permanent. Whenever I have taken on someone else's life decisions (which I have done many times, in many ways) it meant I had to take on their responsibilities too. It's a package deal. I personally have enough on my plate to be running someone else's life too. I can't do both and still have peace and serenity.

Once I make that initial investment, I now know, it is going to snowball into a whole lot more than I originally bargained for. I have learned through over 20 years of trial and error, to really think thru the consequences of my "help." both to me and to the person I think needs me.
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:56 PM
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I did say she is is doing AA and doing the steps. I tried to shorten the story because it would take pages to tell the whole family history . It is not up to me where she lives.She is choosing to try to remain there and I understand why.One reason is that she has a new group of friends in AA .Any other option would also be equally or more difficult. She is supposed to go in for further surgery and her current surgeon has waived her fee.Certain things are going well for her there. She had her first solo show and that is something she has worked for a long time.She has a degenerative disease and so feels the pressure of time .There are other reasons she needs to stay there for now but I don't think I need to explain all of them. Her sister lives 3,000 away and so she does not have much close contact. I don't really have any questions on how I help my daughter in NY. I think I am doing that the very best way I know how. i am going to Al anon, reading the books, cheering with her when she get through an awards luncheon at a wine cellar and manages not to take a drink but to actually speak in public( I wrote about that one before),The thing I really really wanted help with is how do I deal with my other daughter. I was not trying to paint her as the bad one. I think she is as scared inside as her sister but she deals with it differently. She keeps her life in order with very strict regiment. It may work for her life but when she says" If you do this I am out of your life" that is unacceptable to me . I had to say I was really sorry but I was making my own decision so she wrote me a goodby letter. So she is also hurting and I don't know how to help her.
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Old 11-08-2010, 09:20 PM
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Thank you all. I am also taking care of me as much as her when I go to NY. It is something I want to do. She was always the family caretaker, the helpful one. She cleaned house and cooked when I was a single parent. She is a really caring person. I am happy to be able to help her if I possibly can. I haven't done it before. She has taken care of herself all her life with no help from me. Is helping always suspect in AA?
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:55 PM
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yes it is...

Although this is the Family of AA people forum, so it's more about Al-Anon folks, and less about AA folks (though they may respond the same way).

One of the primary ways that we control people is by "helping," which is why helping is so suspect. It is also a way to take away somebody else's power and/or responsibility for their own behavior. We are suspicious of it because, at least in my case, helping was how I got what I wanted, how I controlled people, or both. So, without the whole story, people will be very suspicious.

Now that you've shared the whole story, it certainly sounds to me like you have enough recovery to evaluate your response to her needs efffectively, and if it is healthy helping or not. As to the angry daughter, who knows, but I'd encourage you to put your Al-Anon to work there as well. Things will go the way they go.

Good luck. I'm sorry for Artist Daughter's circumstances and wish you both the best.

Cyranoak

Originally Posted by fullcircle View Post
Thank you all. I am also taking care of me as much as her when I go to NY. It is something I want to do. She was always the family caretaker, the helpful one. She cleaned house and cooked when I was a single parent. She is a really caring person. I am happy to be able to help her if I possibly can. I haven't done it before. She has taken care of herself all her life with no help from me. Is helping always suspect in AA?
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:12 AM
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hello full circle-

i find myself wondering why artist daughter's partner would throw her out into the street and why other daughter feels you're enabling.

is there something that her partner and daughter know that you don't?

both of these actions speak volumes. they are very serious actions and not actions that one would take without great reflection.

the burning question is why?

would you consider writing to your daughter and asking her to explain further why she feels your actions are enabling?

from what you've shared, you think your artist daughter is in recovery. your other daughter doesn't seem to agree.

why?

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Old 11-09-2010, 03:27 AM
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I think it's difficult to evaluate the situation from a distance, at least for me, but I'm a newbie to Alanon.
A few things to think about though, is why is your youngest daughter reacting so strongly? If she thought her sister was not being enabled, but only helped temporarily, then why such a strong reaction?
And the partner that kicked your daughter out--why? Why such a strong reaction there?
There's two people that obviously feel that 'helping' is enabling. You have painted a picture (pun intended!) of only helping temporarily, not enabling. Then why do these two other people feel so differently?
Obviously with the partner that kicked her out there are other dynamics at play. Still, was alcohol abuse part of that story? And if she's in AA, wouldn't the partner have then agreed to work with her instead of kicking her out? Seems things were far more out of control than can be seen from a distance.

Your other daughter has reacted so strongly, that I would investigate that further. Try to open communication with her again and really listen to why she feels that strongly that she is not only going to kick her sister out of her life, but her mother.

Warning though. Have you looked at this situation with your daughter in NYC long term? Are you going to be paying her rent/bills for an extended period? I understand this is her first real break with her solo show, and how important that is. But I do know that my brother ended up moving into my mother's house with zero intention of ever financially taking care of himself again. Something to think about is how long you are willing to offer this help. It needs a firm deadline.
Lastly, financials. Can you afford to take care of your artist daughter forever? For 6 months? A year? If you are going to have to suffer to do this, then you are not taking care of you.
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:49 AM
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you accept and respect 1 daughter's decision to live in a place she cannot afford and to ask for your financial help to pursue her career. You stay out of her decisions, and cheer on her triumphs, believe her interpretation of her life, accept, applaud and defend her choices in life even though you would not want to make the same ones.

Can you accept and respect the other daughters decision to live in a way that limits her contact with people whose actions she finds painful? can you accept that she sees things differently (she may have different informaiton as others have stated), and cheer on her triumphs, beleive her interpretation of her life accept, applaud and defend her choices in life even though you would not want to make the same ones?

If not, why?

addicts can be charming beggars can't they? even recovered addicts can bathe you in sunshine, they can be easier to love, with their winning smiles, quirky approach to life, devil-may-care about the boring responsibilities of life than those spiky, rigid, boring, bitter, tried their best to do everything right codies. Perhaps especially when they come back to us, the prodigal child, especially if you already identify more with the former one (the connection of artists).

now I don't feel I have a choice
yes you do, own the choice you are making.

I am trying to help her live,literally not to die
.

erm, perhaps, it reads more like you are trying to maintain her choice to stay in NY to further her career, be near firends in AA in a way that will not impact her health. That is a vastly different thing.

f course rage directed at you is unnaceptable, however understandable, can you understand why other daughter might feel enraged? or in pain? I can imagine an enormous amount of pain is needed to cut off contact with her family. If you can't recognise this, why can you understand artists daughter's feelings, but not other daughter's? She is allowed to feel and express anger, and to seperate herself from behaviour she believes is toxic or is painful for her, whatever your feelings about that.

I would express to her that you love her, can see that she is angry and are sad that she feels she needs to distance herself, but respect that she needs to do this, and will, always hold hope and love for her. I would say that are happy with your decisions as they currently stand towards artist daughter, and you do not feel you have to explain or defend them. However if she wants to discuss anything, your door/ear/heart is always open.
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Old 11-09-2010, 05:50 AM
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The thing I really really wanted help with is how do I deal with my other daughter.
Here is what I would try to do. Please take what you like and leave the rest.
1. Expect the best possible motivations in others. For example, try not to think of her as someone who "is controlling" or "is manipulative." Try instead to just see the human side of her, not the "my daughter" side of her. Just see her as the individual that she is. Take yourself and the other daughter out of the equation and what do you have left?
2. Be kind enough to leave her out of any news reports regarding her sister. She doesn't want to hear it. Allow her to receive information when SHE wants to receive the information. That is, don't tell her anything until she asks, and then limit your response to only what she asked for.

Please take care of yourself. I am so glad you are going to Al-Anon. Thank you for your posts. They are helping me deal with my alcoholic father and brother, and other addicted brother, all of whom are struggling at the moment. You have no idea how much your sharing is helping me.
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:22 AM
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Ok to answer the question of why she was kicked out, the partner also has an abuse problem although it was more drugs plus alcohol. She is a highly functioning abuser and thinks drinking is part of having fun.She was against AA and she found someone who was "more fun".
The suggestion that was helpful is not telling the other daughter anything . She always asks and wants updates. Too late for me to do that though.The controlling label comes from long history. When she comes for a visit she plans everything for the entire family from menus to activities for everyone and what her nephews should wear and how they should cut their hair. If she wants a picnic the sun had better shine or she will throw a tantrum. Everyone (extended family,cousins, etc) gets stressed when a visit is planned.The family here says let her go, she only causes stress and strain.I have already lost a child from a car accident. I don't want to lose her this way.
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:57 AM
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Fullcircle, when a person needs to plan and control like that, they are struggling with life. They are trying to prevent stress and chaos and pain. It is typical of ACOAs. Is your daughter an ACOA? Are you asking how to control her? How to change her? Or How to accept her? Your statement "Too late"-what does that tell you about your own self? Try to focus on you, your thoughts, your feelings, your behaviors. Because you are the only one in your family who you can control.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:12 AM
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i interpreted jent's suggestion to not give her information about artist daughter not to mean to ice her out. i feel jen suggested that to protect the daughter. many times, people will give me information about xABF and i really am trying my best to remain no contact with him. it hurts me and sets me back, however well-meaning the people are.

i agree that controlling daughter is showing symptoms of being the adult child of an alcoholic. you stated that her father was an alcoholic.

is it possible that controlling daughter is struggling due to her father's and sister's substance abuse and just wants to protect herself and establish healthy boundaries?
just because artist daughter has begun her recovery, does not mean there will not be relapses. perhaps controlling daughter simply needs some space from all of it?

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Old 11-09-2010, 07:39 AM
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I am so sorry that you are dealing with the problems that arise in a family when their is alcohol or substance abuse involved. Add to that physical ailments and it makes it even tougher.

My daughter also limited her contact with her brother (the A in our lives) and with me for a while. She simply couldn't handle his alcoholism/addiction or my enabling. It hurt me but I can't discount that it must have hurt her very badly as well. It's ok if she needed a little room to put things in perspective and her distancing herself from the situation was good for her (and for me). She was not asking me to "choose" between them--she was simply taking care of herself first. I am so proud of her for choosing what was healthier for HER.

She is still very much a part of my life but I have changed ME. I try not to talk about her brother unless she asks. When I'm with her, SHE is my focus. I have no expectation of her relationship with her brother because it belongs to them. She needed some space and I gave it to her without struggle. It's turned out ok. She and I are still close and her brother isn't in the middle of our relationship.

You know your situation better than anyone else here does. The balance between enabling and supporting someone in sobriety can sometimes be very tricky. If you are embracing the things you have learned (or are learning in Alanon), you will be able to recognize the difference and take corrective measures if you find yourself enabling.

I have to admit that others around me recognized my enabling behaviors long before I did. I'm sure it drove them nuts.

I'll keep you and both of your dear daughters in my prayers.

gentle hugs
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