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Old 04-15-2017, 06:34 PM
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Really???

Hi all, long time since I last posted, so here's a brief history. 18 year old stepdaughter (P) has lived with me @ her dad since she was 11. Her mother is A. P had a very difficult early childhood living with her mother, as you would expect. Came to us at 11, started having real issues around 12-13 with self-harming, depression etc. Got her counselling from the get-go, preempting she would suffer, had specialist COA counselling and in later teens was under the Child Psych. Too many issues to go into in detail, but it's safe to say her mother screwed her up.

Recently, over the past year or so, she's been a nightmare. She's drinking (mostly at weekends) smoking pot, is disrespectful and rude. We are a working household (her mother never worked), and have encouraged her to work since she was legally allowed at 14. About six weeks ago she walked out of a weekend job, stating she doesn't want to work for "capitalists" or employers who don't understand her "mental health issues" (by that she means they should understand if she doesn't want to go to work because she's in a bad mood and wants to sleep all day!!). Anyway, I've given her short thrift about her attitude (yes, I do understand some of it is her age), and basically have told her to shape up or ship out. The stress she causes is unbelievable! However, she will regularly break down, and go on and on about her terrible childhood, and how no-one understands what it was like for her etc., how no-one wants to listen and no-one cares. She will go on and on about how her mental health is down to her mother. Just to explain, she spent up until the tail end of last year not seeing her mum, then decided she wanted to - her choice and she was old enough to make it. Contact has been sporadic, but they text regularly. Anyway, the last time she broke down, last week, after she'd been screaming and shouting, swearing and crying about how crap her life was because of her mum for 10 minutes (I had literally just got in from an 8 hour shift), I put up my hand and said "enough! I really don't want to hear this, again! The person you should be screaming & shouting at is your mother, not me!!" I told her to go away out of my sight, which she did. Things were awkward for the next day or so, but settled. Fast forward to Thursday. She goes to see her mum, and I'm really hoping that she'll talk to her, about her childhood etc. But no, apparently they just "hung out" like "friends". Her mother showed her pictures of when she was in REHAB!!!!!! and they bonded over a curry and a GLASS OF WINE!!!!!!! like jeez, what the actual hell!!! Of course, I haven't said anything, and I won't because I just want peace, but she did say that she was "conflicted" about getting another job because, and I quote "you have to understand that for 12 years I was neglected in a house where no-one worked, and it's only been in the last six years that I've lived in a normal working house. So, I'm conflicted with working and not working, and you must understand that". I honestly kid you not, that is what she said.

I'm so sorry for the long post, but I'm feeling pretty cheesed off. Can anyone else see what I'm seeing here? Please!!!
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Old 04-15-2017, 06:53 PM
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Sounds to me like she needs to take her conflicted self elsewhere. A bad childhood only gets you so far. She's been living in a healthy home for almost half her life.

What's dad's position on this? Does he back up your "shape up or ship out" declaration?
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:02 PM
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Ugh. Tough situation. Kids can be pretty manipulative. Sounds like she's working everybody to get what she wants.
What do you want?
Besides peace, I mean.
What does her father have to say about things? Is he supportive of you, or enabling her?
Wouldn't be the first family dynamic to roll that way.
The most straightforward way through, recognizing that it won't be easy, is to make boundaries and stick to them regarding her living at home rent-free.
You are not her concierge., and she is not on permanent vacation.
she needs to work., to be as independent as possible at her age, and to grow and mature into a thinking, empathetic person.
Yep, her mother messed with her.
Many people's parents were disasters. But we can choose not to be defined by our parents' bad choices. That was them, not us.
I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your step-d, or if she would welcome hearing any of this buck- up talk from you, but maybe her dad could have a go?
I hope, at least, that you and he can present a united front as to what you would like from her.
Peace.
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:02 PM
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He stands by me, but she's his daughter & so he's not as hard on her as I am. I'm not even that hard, she's treated exactly how my own kids were treated, but there's no way they would ever have spoken to me the way she has! Personally, I want her out, because I KNOW that she will break down, again and again, and it'll always be the same old "you don't understand, you don't care, I've got mental health issues & you don't want to listen" - gimme a break!! I HAVE listened, and guided, and nurtured and supported, encouraged and done my absolute best for her. But, if she can't, or won't, direct her next outburst at the person who caused all her issues, her new BFF the A, then I don't want to hear another word about it. Had enough 😡
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:04 PM
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Hi Nik, ugh, that sounds so stressful. Does your stepdaughter go to school?

If she is not a student there is no reason, IMO, an 18 year old should get to live with you, supported by you, and contribute nothing. Her "conflicted" statement shows her immaturity. If she did not have a free roof over her head I expect the real world would unconflict her in a hurry. Hopefully, anyway.

[QUOTE]and basically have told her to shape up or ship out[/QUOTE

I think this is the right response. Actually, shaping up (being respectful and appreciative) is the least she can do. She should also contribute to your household. If she's busy with school and that limits her time to work that's different but not much.

Where does her dad stand on this?

I'm sorry, this sounds super hard and I know enforcing anything is way easier said than done. But I think your instincts of not tolerating her behavior are dead on.

It's sad she may go down the path her mom went, at least for a while, but as an adult that's her choice to make. Hopefully the counseling and example you provided these past 6 years will resonate and she'll make better choices. Her "bonding" with her mom over wine is unfortunate but kind of understandable.

In the meantime, you and your husband have to decide what you'll tolerate from her and what you'll do to enforce your decisions.

Prayers for strength and wisdom!
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:08 PM
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it is not at all surprising that a child of alcoholism displays these behaviors. that is why we plead here for parents to get OUT of the unhealthy environment, instead of trying to "maintain" a family system.
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Maudcat View Post
Ugh. Tough situation. Kids can be pretty manipulative. Sounds like she's working everybody to get what she wants.
What do you want?
Besides peace, I mean.
What does her father have to say about things? Is he supportive of you, or enabling her?
Wouldn't be the first family dynamic to roll that way.
The most straightforward way through, recognizing that it won't be easy, is to make boundaries and stick to them regarding her living at home rent-free.
You are not her concierge., and she is not on permanent vacation.
she needs to work., to be as independent as possible at her age, and to grow and mature into a thinking, empathetic person.
Yep, her mother messed with her.
Many people's parents were disasters. But we can choose not to be defined by our parents' bad choices. That was them, not us.
I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your step-d, or if she would welcome hearing any of this buck- up talk from you, but maybe her dad could have a go?
I hope, at least, that you and he can present a united front as to what you would like from her.
Peace.
I have given her the buck-up, straight. I've told her that if she doesn't want to work that's her choice, but neither I or her father will give her money (he wholeheartedly agrees with this). She asked me for money for tampons a couple of weeks ago - I said no!! I've told her that whilst her father and I are out working, she will not spend the day in her room, sleeping (apparently going for a walk causes you to be tired enough to sleep for a whole day - who knew!), but she will do the housework. She does do it, well kind of, but not without duress. When she told me she was conflicted, I said "I'll sort your confliction out - if you wanna live here, you work, if you don't wanna work, go back to your mother. Simple". She says she's applied online for jobs, but nothing has come if it. I despair, I really do!
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:24 PM
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[QUOTE=53500;6412581]Hi Nik, ugh, that sounds so stressful. Does your stepdaughter go to school?

If she is not a student there is no reason, IMO, an 18 year old should get to live with you, supported by you, and contribute nothing. Her "conflicted" statement shows her immaturity. If she did not have a free roof over her head I expect the real world would unconflict her in a hurry. Hopefully, anyway.

and basically have told her to shape up or ship out[/QUOTE

I think this is the right response. Actually, shaping up (being respectful and appreciative) is the least she can do. She should also contribute to your household. If she's busy with school and that limits her time to work that's different but not much.

Where does her dad stand on this?

I'm sorry, this sounds super hard and I know enforcing anything is way easier said than done. But I think your instincts of not tolerating her behavior are dead on.

It's sad she may go down the path her mom went, at least for a while, but as an adult that's her choice to make. Hopefully the counseling and example you provided these past 6 years will resonate and she'll make better choices. Her "bonding" with her mom over wine is unfortunate but kind of understandable.

In the meantime, you and your husband have to decide what you'll tolerate from her and what you'll do to enforce your decisions.

Prayers for strength and wisdom!
Thank you 🙏 She is at college, 12 hours a week over 3 days, and we give her travel money as it's 12 miles away, other than that we don't give her anything. Her mother never once offered any financial help over the years we've had her, and forgot birthdays etc., but for 2 weeks in the trot, after she turned 18, sent her money in the post, with a promise it would be weekly. Of course it hasn't been weekly, but it's irked my husband & I that her being given money (it's not a huge amount, but is enough for her to buy pot) now she's turned 18 is pretty lame, and in some ways she (mother) is enabling her to not work. I'm actually quite pleased it hasn't continued, because she needs to learn that if you want anything in this life you have to earn it!

I do point out to her that for 6 years she's lived in a normal environment, and have told her she can't change the past, but can either choose to continue living in it or move on, but she always answers that with "I can't, it's in my head all the time, it makes me not want to be alive (she'll say this quite often, and it's when she says it that my husband starts siding with her - he's scared, I get that totally, but it's not a genuine threat - its manipulation), which is another time I say "go and tell this to your mother!!!". I honestly truly believe that if she did have it all out with her mum, she would actually feel better for it, but she's said that she can't speak to her mum about it because she's still trying to get better (since when is an alcoholic who still drinks trying to get better!). I don't care what affect it has on her mother, she needs to hear it and deserves the full-on, sweary onslaught I have to endure!
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:25 PM
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Nix, probably the best option would be for her to move out. Give her some time in the real world and chances are she'll eventually ask to move back home, which is reasonable at 18, if you're contributing. This would allow you to set the conditions in consultation with her.

I went through a similar process when my daughter was 18 and temporarily out of work. Angry words didn't help - there needs to be a basic change of attitude which making it on her own will help provide. My daughter started working, still didn't contribute, but eventually I sat her down and asked her what she thought was fair.
She came up with a very reasonable plan and pretty much stuck to it.

She's throwing her disturbed childhood at you, but apart from that she's not much different to the entitled sections of teenage population. They're not all like that, just a section of the possibly less mature, but they do grow out of it and often become hard working members of society.

I did
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:33 PM
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NikNox...does she plan to go to university? What are her dreams....her goals for her life?

The almost always are drinking /smoking more that the adults around them suspect.....do you think she might be depressed, also.....
what are the chances of .....
At her age, it is true that age, it is true that the pituitary secrets more melatonin than any other time in life,,,and, teens are very, very, sleepy in the mornings if they don't get a good amount of sleep (and if they are doing alcohol/drugs, also....wellll....
However, no one her age should be sleeping all day unless something is going on....
she is at the time of her l ife where the dependence/independence conflict usually takes center stage.....
does she already have a therapist or counselor....
What about having a few sessions with the counselor as a family, together ...so the whole picture can be discussed in a mature, calm, supportive way...?
(She is less likely to be rude in that kind of setting).....

The are just some of my thinking, out loud, on the subject......
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Old 04-16-2017, 01:06 AM
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Hi nixnox

Firstly I'm sorry for both you and your husband and also for your stepdaughter. You all are suffering through this period together. You and your husband care deeply but the stress is mounting.

I hear some pain and anger in P that she is not able to process yet and she is approaching adulthood without the emotional tools she needs to cope for herself. Cutting is a serious sign of mental health issues, let's hope that's in the past. It seems the counseling to date has not been as effective as hoped. I would think a teenager with counseling would have a springboard to approach life a little better than she is. She sounds like a tantrum is her "talking".

Her bio mother should not be a leader figure in her life until her bio mom displays different although P is 18 already. I believe P could end up abusing substances with her biological mom around her. Even is its indirectly.

She comes from addiction background and she is displaying addict like behavior in a sense of blaming, diverting, entitlement and inability to manage her emotional state effectively.

She will not change, she has no reason too. The talking is just that to her, talking. In one ear out the other and she still has a warm bed and full tummy everyday. She just has to display behavior when pressed a bit. All else is sorted for her. Because we show love but they see advantage.

Why not have a mini intervention style meeting with her but speaking out of love and togetherness more than "you outta or else" . She is old enough that the consequence is on her and she can ultimately move out if it doesn't work for you.

You and your husband must be a united front at all times with this - very important. She will play dad against mom if she sees a gap and derail her consequences. Say she is welcome to continue to stay in your home granted she follows the list of changes you require. Make clear HER behavior and choices is changing the relantionship and it is getting unbearable and unacceptable. Create a crises for her to change.

Put the ball in her court but in a way she is grasping the whole situation not just her parents are kicking her out. Give her a copy of the requirements and let her sign it so she has black and white copy that it really happened. Also make clear on the paper that if she doesn't change e.g you will start moving her out, take back her phone, no more petrol money, change the locks etc I.e the consequences. She will not be part of your lives UNTIL she had changed. You will pack up her things and keep it wherever you choose outside the home for her to collect when she sorted her living arrangements out. And stick to it. Parents want so bad to show love but we often need to show love by letting the real world do its work not just talking about it hoping they catch the drift.

This will also set the tone to her if she ever started drugs (the possibility in her history is high) what she can expect from your home.

Let me know what you honestly think of this suggestion. I have not been in this situation myself so feedback from your point of view would be interesting.

Best of luck.
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Old 04-16-2017, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Tjunction View Post
Hi nixnox

Firstly I'm sorry for both you and your husband and also for your stepdaughter. You all are suffering through this period together. You and your husband care deeply but the stress is mounting.

I hear some pain and anger in P that she is not able to process yet and she is approaching adulthood without the emotional tools she needs to cope for herself. Cutting is a serious sign of mental health issues, let's hope that's in the past. It seems the counseling to date has not been as effective as hoped. I would think a teenager with counseling would have a springboard to approach life a little better than she is. She sounds like a tantrum is her "talking".

*** thank you, I'm going to respond paragraph by paragraph, so I can remember what you've said 😊 She doesn't "cut" as such, it's more superficial scratches, but of course when we first discovered it we were horrified and scared. She was undergoing weekly counselling for 4 years, so we made sure her counsellor was aware. As for the effectiveness of the counselling, I'm not sure P actually wanted it to work - at least that's what I think now. She will tell anyone and everyone that she has "mental health issues" and was "in counselling for years", which by itself I find quite odd (her telling everyone). It's almost like she wallows in it, uses it as a tool to get out of things (an example - she has a half brother who lives with his dad, and it was his 13th birthday in Feb. I asked her if she'd sent him a card, and her reply was "no, because I have mental health issues". How do you even respond to that! She apparently drinks because of her MH issues, and smoking pot is the "only" thing that allows her to escape the reality of her childhood - I am well aware that these excuses for drinking and taking drugs are signs of substance abuse and possibly future addiction, but if this is pointed out to her, her usual response is "oh great, so you think I'm gonna turn into my mother!" ***

Her bio mother should not be a leader figure in her life until her bio mom displays different although P is 18 already. I believe P could end up abusing substances with her biological mom around her. Even is its indirectly.

*** I believe this too. When we first found out she smoked tobacco, she'd seen her mum and said "mum let me smoke in front of her". We didn't, as she was 14 when she started, and there was no way we wanted to see her smoking. Following her outing with mum last week, them drinking wine, it wouldn't surprise me if her mum let her smoke pot in front of her too (mum also smokes it), so I think they could abuse substances together! But what can we do? She's 18, and we can't stop her seeing her mother ***
She comes from addiction background and she is displaying addict like behavior in a sense of blaming, diverting, entitlement and inability to manage her emotional state effectively.

*** so true. She did have a period of DBT (dialectal behavioural therapy) to try to get her to recognise and change her behaviours. Her psychologist believed that she was unable to regulate her emotions because she'd had to grow up so quickly, which makes sense, but it didn't help really ***

She will not change, she has no reason too. The talking is just that to her, talking. In one ear out the other and she still has a warm bed and full tummy everyday. She just has to display behavior when pressed a bit. All else is sorted for her. Because we show love but they see advantage.

*** no, I don't believe she will change either. She's got everyone where she wants them - all she has to do (as far as her dad is concerned) is play the suicide card and it all goes back her way. He does see this, but obviously is scared to risk pushing her ***

Why not have a mini intervention style meeting with her but speaking out of love and togetherness more than "you outta or else" . She is old enough that the consequence is on her and she can ultimately move out if it doesn't work for you.

*** we've done this, so have her paternal grandparents, and she will go along with what you say, but nearly always says she can't help it because of her MH issues - it's her most regularly played card ***

You and your husband must be a united front at all times with this - very important. She will play dad against mom if she sees a gap and derail her consequences. Say she is welcome to continue to stay in your home granted she follows the list of changes you require. Make clear HER behavior and choices is changing the relantionship and it is getting unbearable and unacceptable. Create a crises for her to change.

Put the ball in her court but in a way she is grasping the whole situation not just her parents are kicking her out. Give her a copy of the requirements and let her sign it so she has black and white copy that it really happened. Also make clear on the paper that if she doesn't change e.g you will start moving her out, take back her phone, no more petrol money, change the locks etc I.e the consequences. She will not be part of your lives UNTIL she had changed. You will pack up her things and keep it wherever you choose outside the home for her to collect when she sorted her living arrangements out. And stick to it. Parents want so bad to show love but we often need to show love by letting the real world do its work not just talking about it hoping they catch the drift.

*** yep, done all this, apart from a written agreement. I believe in tough love, and am a fan of the "short, sharp shock" and would be able to put her stuff out and literally throw her out - it is getting to that point! ***

This will also set the tone to her if she ever started drugs (the possibility in her history is high) what she can expect from your home.

Let me know what you honestly think of this suggestion. I have not been in this situation myself so feedback from your point of view would be interesting.

*** you've hit the nail on the head, with all of it. Thank you 😊 ***

Best of luck.
Thank you, I think we need it 😕
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Old 04-16-2017, 06:54 AM
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NikNox....I agree that the above post by Tjunction is very well thought out.....
It would seem that...that approach would make it less than just a "battleground"....
I would only suggest to pull some professionals to help you, if you can....
For us parents, our fear and anger can get in the way, and make us feel "helpless" to know what to do with confidence and calm.....
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Old 04-16-2017, 07:12 AM
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NikNox- I feel for you! I agree with Tjunction. We had to have a "family intervention" at our house with our 2 daughters, 19 & 25. Youngest unemployed at the time, oldest moved back here with her 3 yr old to go back to college. My husband and I both work long hours and felt they were both taking advantage of the home situation. No laundry done, meals cooked, house cleaning, etc. We tried to make it clear to them that what we did for them, we did because we loved them and NOT because we owed them anything. With four adults in the house, we expected them to act like it or move on and see how that worked somewhere else. It did get better.
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Old 04-16-2017, 07:26 AM
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Hi

I would suggest looking into how to handle the suicide threats that involves outside resources that are trained to deal with such threats. Us everyday are not skilled enough if you ask me and its serious situation when it happens.

Do it before you reach "intervention point". She will feel threatened and overwhelmed and try which ever action she feels works best to gain control again.

If she reaches a point and mentions suicide, your next calm step is to dial the number of the professional and take plan from there. The plan you, husband and professional put in place for that moment. If she doesn't then great! One step in right direction.
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dandylion View Post
NikNox....I agree that the above post by Tjunction is very well thought out.....
It would seem that...that approach would make it less than just a "battleground"....
I would only suggest to pull some professionals to help you, if you can....
For us parents, our fear and anger can get in the way, and make us feel "helpless" to know what to do with confidence and calm.....
As she is now 18, seeking professional help is kind of down to her. The only thing we could do in such a situation is call the Crisis Team who work out of hours too. However, it's an attention seeking tactic, I think, because she always uses it whenever she's run out of reasons/excuses why she shouldn't give up pot, get a job, stop getting paralytic, help around the house or accept that she really does need to let go of those early years. It comes out far too easily for someone who is actively suicidal. She knows that as soon as she says it, her dad instantly changes tack. I do get why he does that, I really do, but I can see how she manipulates him. He's recently been in hospital following complications after an operation. I was working, travelling to see him every day, trying to keep the house going etc. He was in for a total of 10 days and she came to see him once. She got so drunk the night before (she was drinking in a bar on her own) we had to stop 4 times for her to throw up! I was so angry with her, and when my husband found out, so was he, but she won him round with "I'm so sorry dad but you have to understand that my mental health is so bad at the moment, so I had to go block it out". That manipulation again!! I saw right through her though, and she did get told when we got home. I told her she was selfish and inconsiderate, and should be ashamed of herself 😡
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:17 AM
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NikNox.....what about getting some professional support for you and your husband, as to how to navigate this difficult situation.....
It could help a lot.....
I am sure that you two are suffering as much as she is....
As provoking as she is...she is suffering and confused and out of control....
The whole family is hurting...lots of family dynamics going on.....a lot of boundary issues.....
I think you really need to get a plan, now,,,because, as things are going, it is likely to get worse before it gets better....
This does seem to be beyond the usual parent/child skirmishes, for this age....
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:23 AM
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What if she tried AlAnon...? The crux seems to be that she hasn't dealt with her issues with her qualifier. Which, she oddly seems to be following with her own behavior...

Sorry... (((hugs)))
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:45 AM
  # 19 (permalink)  
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Hey NikNox -- if I can gently advise something, try to let go of this expectation/desire that if she would just scream out her issues directly to her mother it would somehow relieve things for everyone. You'll just make yourself nutty with it.

For one thing, she won't be doing that any time soon, no matter how many times you tell her she should. She has clearly not truly accepted her mother for what she is, what she isn't, and what she never will be. She is still trying to win her love and attention because that is one hole that can never be filled by anyone or anything else, and for many of us, that hole is the basis of our own self-worth. Six years of a functional environment is not enough to counter twelve years of having it drilled home in every moment that she is not good enough to be loved and cared for by her own mother the way a mother is supposed to do.

Now, that doesn't negate the good you've done or the difference you have made -- I'm merely saying that one time of having it out with Mum directly isn't going to fix that. It will take a lifetime of learning to accept and understand that she deserves and is worthy of love DESPITE the fact that the one person who is supposed to do that unconditionally, didn't. It starts with acceptance, and she isn't ready or mature enough to do that. So she is going to keep trying to emulate Mum, be "friends" with Mum, and get her validation that way. Meanwhile, she is going to keep lashing out and using you because you are perceived as a safe place to release all that hurt and anger.

That doesn't mean that you have to live with it, of course, and I think the sooner you and your husband can agree to release her into her own care despite the potential consequences, the sooner she will decide that the pain of trying the same thing over and over again with no result is less than the pain of trying something new. Right now you're all stuck in a cycle. If you want peace, someone has to break that cycle, and it isn't going to be her.

I know this is very frustrating for you, and I'm sorry. Having grown up with an alcoholic mother and a severely codependent father, I am not making excuses for her behavior, just warning you that this is not a knot that will be untangled easily or quickly. Facing the truth of a mother's limitations, and really learning to believe that it wasn't your fault that she couldn't love you and care for you the way you needed, is a lifelong journey.
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:45 AM
  # 20 (permalink)  
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You could explain to her that you will take all threats of suicide seriously, and that means calling 911 (or I guess it's 999 in the UK?) so she can be properly evaluated and treated.

My guess is that you will have to call it exactly ONCE and she won't play that particular card again. If you do it consistently, you will be addressing any actual danger she may be in without allowing yourselves to be manipulated.
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