Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You know what? My life really sucks right now. Things went back to square one with Chai Tea. Well, no. Worse than that. We have gotten to the point where we cannot communicate with her without a third party present. We've left the ball in her court. Only we are afraid she will never pick up that ball.

One of the reasons I decided to take a "blog break" was that I need to paint Chai Tea's room so that we can move Double Shot into it. His room is off of the family room and is really meant to be an office. The door has glass panels in it and we've had a curtain hanging on the inside of the door for the last 6 years. We had some issues with Double Shot being distracted by the TV during the school year so we decided to move him upstairs. The room has been taped and ready to go but every time I go in to start on it I panic. It was the same when she left. For four months I kept her door shut. I don't know how many times I went in there to try to start packing things up. When I finally did, it took me 2 days and they were two of the worst days I'd had since she left in January. Right now it is still her room. The color is just... her. It won't be her room anymore once I paint it. Once it is painted and Double Shot is moved in... there will really be no place for her here. I don't know why it is so hard. At the same time I never want to live with her again. I need to finish the room so we can move Double Shot in this weekend. School starts on Monday. Every day for over a month I have had this struggle. For me, putting the paint on those walls is shutting a door. And it is a door that must be shut.

I won't share details of exactly what is happening. We are a family with 4 other people besides myself that are affected. One of the things that is good about this blog being anonymous is that, in some ways, I am free to share the heart of things. I've shared a lot on here that is very personal but at the same time, I don't believe I am all that unique. I often wonder how many others there are out there that are like me and really hurting. When I 've shared things before it is because I hoped that it would find someone who can relate and that they can know that they aren't alone. Today... this is just for me. I don't care if anyone can relate or not.

You know... I hated blogging. I thought that it was a waste of time. There were a few blogs I was aware of that I knew the people in real life and what they presented on their blogs was far from reality. It bothered me. I also strongly felt that the computer replaced real life relationships for many and that it wasn't healthy. But then I was home alone all day for the first time in 20 years. My voice prevented me from the normal ways of keeping up with people. I traitorously stepped out of the homeschooling world... and into silence. I did not realize how far we'd gone in surrounding ourselves with almost exclusively Christian homeschoolers... I did not realize that when we stopped homeschooling that only a few would remain friends... I backed into blogging. I had so much fun those three months I had my first blog, Laughing Always Helps. I love to make people laugh. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like everything is really okay. No one knew I had trouble talking. No one knew I was lonely. I got positive feedback. I started to dream and believe that maybe it was possible to still accomplish some of my goals.

One of my biggest fears is that my children will all leave and that I will not be able to get a job and that I'll have to stay at home all alone every day until my husband retires. That I won't be able to make new friends. That I won't have any purpose.

You know, I've gotten a lot of wonderful feedback from y'all. So many have been so nice to compliment me on my attitude and how I've handled things with my voice and my daughter. This blog is much more honest... real... than the other one was but, I still only share what I want to share. Everything I write is honest and how I feel the moment I am writing it. There's a lot I don't write. There are those days where I feel so alone and so sorry for myself that I'm not even really functioning. My husband made me go get on anti-depressants a couple months ago. I've written about how we are working toward a better relationship with our daughter... before I deleted the other blog I wrote about how we will always be waiting for her with our arms open wide. I don't always feel that way. There are days when I am so hurt and so angry over what she has done. This is hard. This is the hardest thing I've ever been through in my life.

It's funny how things you go through change your perspective. I don't sleep well. In fact, the doctor gave me something for that but it doesn't always work. Since January, I often fall asleep readily but then wake up within an hour. I've spent so many nights just going over things. Thinking... thinking... always thinking. I search my mind for every memory. Where did we go wrong? Where did I go wrong? I should have handled this and that situation this other way. I should have been more patient. I should have nipped that in the bud. I should have... should have... should have... Other times I think, I am a good mom. I know I am a good mom. One time not long after she left, I was in Wal-Mart in front of an end cap and I unknowingly said, "I was a good mom!" out loud and then started to cry. There were other people around and it was really embarrassing. I had to leave.

In December of last year, just over a month before she left, there was that shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. When we heard the gunman had been homeschooled, his father was a doctor and his mother was in charge of the women's ministry at their church, I thought their family must have been royally screwed up. His father must have never been home. His mother must have cared more about her ministry duties. I don't know how many times in my life that I have judged people by their kids' behavior. Ever since our daughter left the way she did I have thought of the mother of that gunman. My heart breaks for her and the rest of their family. Not only did her son kill others, but he is dead too. I pray for her.

The other night I was listening to a program on Christian talk radio. It was some Family Life Today, or something like that, with Dennis Rainey. They were talking about men/women differences and got into parenting... it might have been one show and then another starting. It was raining so when I pulled into the driveway I decided to listen to the rest of the program. They were talking about gleaning wisdom from parents who've already gone through what you are going through with your kids. They said to look for the parent's who'd been successful... who had kids that turned out... I cried. That would definitely NOT be us.

I know that our kids have their own free will. I know that we are not responsible for the choices they make. I know that we love them and that, while we are in no way perfect, we have done our best in trying to do what is right for them. But... I feel differently so much of the time. If only... if only... if only...

At my core, I am optimistic. At my core, I always hope for the best. It is a fight though. I know that it doesn't matter how many times I get knocked down... that what matters is how many times I get up. I know I will continue to get knocked down and I will continue to get back up but, sometimes I am afraid that there will come a time when I won't. I know enough about myself from the way I do projects that I start out well, falter in the middle, and then finish strong. I keep telling myself that maybe I'm just faltering here. I'm uncertain. I don't know that I can do this. But, I will finish and I will finish strong. I won't know until it is all said and done.


Debra W said...

Oh KJ,

I am so sorry to read that you are feeling so blue. Life tends to slam us hard, even when we are already down, so we must constantly remind ourselves that it IS worth the trouble to fight. I fight to remain happy and strong and resilient everyday. This has been an absolutely trying year for me, as I know it has been for you, but there is a lot of good. Please do not feel guilty about blogging. It is something that can provide an enormous source of comfort and support. Even though we may not personally know each and every person who we come in contact with, there are SO MANY GREAT BLOGGERS out there who offer so much without asking for anything in return. I think that the blogging friendships that we make are just as valid as the "real" ones.

But back to what I was saying. I do understand that it will be very difficult for you to paint your daughter's room, but don't think that by doing that that you are removing her from your family forever. You and I both know, as mothers, that our children will always have a place in our hearts and in our homes. Even if it means a pull-out couch, there will always be room. Your daughter made the choice to leave without consulting you. She is living with her choices, and so, you must go on living your own life. Just know in your heart, that you haven't displaced her, she left. Your son is entitled to a bigger space. He is loyal to your family, and so he deserves to move into a room that is better suited to his needs.

You are dealing with many feelings that are normal for a mom who is felling that "empty-nest" thing. I am going through it, too, as my second daughter is moving into an apartment in a week and starting college. That means only two at home! Not quite empty, but emptier than it has been in 18 years. What I am saying is that you are balling all of your feelings about different situations that are going on in your life, into one big ball. Try to separate things out if you can. Your daughter is one situation. Whether you will be able to find work when all of your kids move out is another. Your feelings about homeschooling are another. Do you see what I am saying? All of those rolled in one(including "what am I going to make for dinner tomorrow night!") equal NO SLEEP!

You CAN do this, you WILL remain strong and you are a good mother! Just cut yourself some slack, my friend! Life is hard, but it can also be joyous. Do something that makes you feel good.

Big hugs,

Laura ~Peach~ said...

Hugs and hugs and prayers...
Love ya Laura

claudia said...

You have so written my story! Not in so many words, but in so many thoughts. I am there with you, feeling your pain, what if-ing your what if's. Dang! We are going through much the same things. I do not know the details of the rift between you and your daughter, but there was a rift between me and my daughter. She is my youngest. My heart broke every morning I woke up and remembered she wasn't here. I quit eating right, I quit sleeping, I quit caring about much other than just getting through the days.
Then she came back. Her better friends convinced her that she needed to patch it up with me, because if something happened to either one of us, she would regret not taking those first steps at reconciliation. I was ecstatic! Now, again something has happened. She is not here again. It wasn't her or me that caused this separation, but an entirely different circumstance. (Which I cannot write about at this time) Again, my heart is broken, again, I am not eating right, I am not sleeping and I only care for the days to go by so I can go and visit her.
Let's be strong for each other. Let's be there for the kids we have that are with us and let's not forget that it is okay to be angry and frustrated, and tired and scared and lonely. Because it is what we are and there is nothing that we can do but feel it and get it out there. Just know in your heart that your daughter loves you, even though she may not want to admit it. She is probably thinking about you more than she will ever admit too. And things WILL change some day. Not in the time we have decided, but in God's time he has set for us. There is a reason for this, I know, my daughter in all her 21 years of wisdom told me so.
I am sorry I have gone on and on...and I hope I make some sense, cause lately I find myself making less and less of it.

AmusedMomma said...

Hugs and prayers!

Flea said...

CB, you ARE a good mom. You are honest with yourself. I assume you're honest with your family.

I watched my aunt and uncle as they homeschooled their three kids all the way through. They're now in phases of college and marriage. The oldest has been rather reluctant to have a relationship with his parents since leaving for college, with it really only getting worse with time. Years now.

What I've seen happen has been scary and beautiful. My cousin still is somewhat distant, but I've seen my uncle - very OCD personality, child of a raging alcoholic - change. It took his son leaving them to wake him up. I'm not saying that you need a wake up. One of the things my aunt has come to grips with is that her son is an individual and an adult. But my uncle? A wonderfully changed man. Maybe not "worth" losing his son to the degree he has, but changes worth celebrating.

He confesses the sins of his parenting to his children. It's made a difference with the other two. It's been fuel for the oldest. Gets thrown in his face when he even breathes wrong. But my uncle now knows better who he is, what he is. And my rebellious cousin (child of a different aunt) has been surprised by the change. One step closer, for her, to seeing a person transformed by Christ.

I don't know what I'm saying. Just telling you my story. I appreciate your story. I sense it coming to me soon. I can see my kids all developing strong personalities and sometimes it's tempting to hold them back, to control how they develop. It's painful to watch them live with the consequences of their decisions. Sometimes it's even painful to watch my husband try to keep them from those consequences (he's much better about that now).

I wish I were there to hug you, to go to Starbucks with you, to sit in silence and read (I love silence). Consider me your cyber friend. (((HUGS)))

Deborah said...

Oh CB, I don't think you really expect or need a response...sometimes we just need to vent. You know I've been there, with all the what if's, so I'll leave it at that.
I recently read a book called, "When I Lay My Isaac Down" What a heart wrenching read that was....but I recommend it.
I also wanted to let you know, that your post confirmed my post for tomorrow. I've done alot of writing that touches on this subject...it's great therapy...and much cheaper too!
Praying for you~~~Deb

Kathy said...

Reading, thinking about you, and wanting to send you encouraging words. You know that old saying, 'when one door closes, another one opens'? How many times I've heard that, or thought it, always followed by my thought that 'dang' I still wanted the old door.

MUD said...

One time a nephew announced that he was bored. My mother said, "No, you are boring and I'm not going to let it change me." That woman just smiled at life and moved on smartly. Go buy a Lottery Ticket and spend a few minutes thinking about all the things you could change in your life. Rule number 1 in life is that Life Isn't Fair. But it beats the alternative. I'm not sure that I am capable of having thoughts that some day don't spill out in my blog. Smile and make the bastards wonder what you have been up to. MUD

Sheri said...

I was glad, and sad, to read your openness about how you are feeling.

My brother and I are both adopted (different biological parents). We were both raised in the same house, same rules, same things. My parents are fantastic parents. However, kids have the agency to choose. I chose to (for the most part) follow the rules, to do what was expected. Brad, not so much. It wasn't a matter of good vs. bad parenting, just the choices the children made. Mom says that even today, she thinks, "Could've, should've, would've", but you can't live like that. I'll pray that your daughter realizes the treasure she has at home . . .and works on mending fences!

Karen Deborah said...

I'm feelin it, just can sit down right there and wallow around. I have never found an answer, but the if only'd,guilty's and questioning my own part could make for a good suicide case.can't go there, literally I CAN NOT. I do onot induldge in those lines of thinking because it's always the same, /i beat myself near to death; there is no one esle present to share the grief. As much as it hurts, paint the room. Ball cry wail each stroke if you have to but get it done. when it's over you will have moved on and released some of these feelings. It is going to make a statment to J too. Sorry kj, so sorry. it hurts and theres no getting out of that.

Alison said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you right now, and have been. I think your feelings are completely normal and applaud your honesty in this post. I hope you have found some peace in the writing. Time is the ultimate healer and I think healing comes in stages, when we are ready for each stage, we get strength from within.

Please take care my friend.

Junebug said...

I'm sorry I haven't read this sooner but I haven't been reading blogs much lately. I hear ya and that comment in Wal-Mart, gosh. Whew! An evangelist said to us in church Sunday, something like this, "Don't pray for things to go away but pray that you get through it." God will see you through it all. He will.

Brenda said...

(((((((((((hugs)))))))))) I so wish I could sit and have a cup of coffee with you in real life and talk. You are a wonderful person and I hate to see you hurting. You are also strong and you will get through this and we will get to read it in your blog. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

Becky said...

You know, most of the time, I am high-fiving the Christian radio shows.

This time, not so much.

I don't think you can glean too much about child rearing from other "successful" parents.

First of all, as many people have already said, kids have a free will.

They are not robots and we cannot program them to be who we want them to be. We can pray.

I realize that what we model can be picked up by the kids, but why is it that it is most often the "bad" that is picked up?

I don't believe (much) in comparing kids. Seriously. I have 7...and they are all soooooooo
different. I have the same rules for all, the same love for all, and the same resources for all.

Some of my kids are inherently happy and grateful and quick to comply, and some are not. Sometimes they morph from good to bad or vice versa.

Brain chemistry, hormones, and the like, differ from child to child.

Comparing mom A's kids to mom B's kids and deciphering who has done the better job is WRONG!

God knows who he wants to place in what family...and He doesn't make any mistakes...so you and your daughter are right where God wants the both of you.

I think successful parenting is so much more than how a kid turns out, because who is to say when a kid is "done" cooking?

My step-sister was late to rebel...making irreversible choices later in her life. If you had looked at her when she married, or had her first child, you might have said..."Wow, what a good person or mom or wife she turned out to be."

I don't think that God is finished with her yet. And I don't think we can ever say that someone was a successful parent by the way their kids turned out. Period.

Some of it is just playing the had you are dealt.

Sorry to be so long winded...but I really want you to look to Jesus and to His standards of loving and forgiving...and not to comparing...because even though Christians are well-meaning...they are still in the world...and that is not who or where we get our value from! :)

God Bless,
The Maid

Angela said...

I just want to cry. Ok, I have tears in my eyes. Sweet sweet Sister, I'm leaning on God SO much because I KNOW we are SUCH mess. Feelings of failure, well just total dsyfunction in my family's lives can really make me crumble. I can't count the times I've cried out to God,,'what's the purpose in this, our lives are such a mess God, bla bla bla" I didn't say bla bla bla,,but it went on that same pattern. God keeps telling me not to compare myself to what I see and read on the blogs, or the books I read, or the radio programs and tv shows I read (Christian ones), because instead of encouraging me, I just feel even more of a mess. Like, 'my goodness gracious, these people would think we are terrible Christians, I allow my children to do this and that, I smoke ciggies, and can curse at times, etc.". God says to me,,your mess Angela is becoming your message of MY power and glory in your lives. Righteous Buzz,,YOUR MESS is a message of God's power and glory revealed. Your blog is touching hearts, minds, and letting other's know,,,it's ok, it's ok to be honest about who you really are, not placing yourself in a box, or revealing only the good side,,BUT the bad and the ugly! I love you, don't even 'know' you, but my heart thanks God for His leading me here,,(through Karen's blog)..
SIGH...I just finished sighing,,lol