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Things I couldn't have known
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Author Topic: Parenting 2.0 (Or, getting my masters degree in motherhood)  (Read 245 times)
SeekTranquility

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« on: July 01, 2019, 04:07:33 PM »

   I am on a journey that no parent wants to take. It's a journey with a non-distinct beginning and an unknown destination. I could go on and on with metaphors that you've no doubt already heard and probably written yourself about rough seas and calm waters, high mountains and low valleys, proud moments and soul-crushing exchanges. Even though this is my first message board post ever, I know from the book I read, "Walking on Eggshells," that non-BPD's feel and experience all of these same emotions. I don't know anyone with a BPD child, family member, or friend, and it was comforting to me to read in the book many of the same words that have come out of my daughter's mouth because it proved to me that was I was going through was not unique.
   My daughter has a combination of low and high-functioning BPD. She's never been diagnosed and I would never dare confront her with a mental health label, but I have sought help for myself with a therapist and I have read enough to know that she is most definitely BPD. I cannot tell you how many times I had to put that book down because it contained direct quotes and identical scenarios. Her father, my ex-husband, is a narcissist and was verbally abusive toward her. He was the main caregiver at home while I had a successful career. As adults, both of my daughters have shared details of his abuse (both physical and psychological) and I am very sad that I was so clueless and did not step in earlier. I am the daughter of an alcoholic mother and narcissist father, so I didn't see the abnormality of what was going on. It is fascinating to me that my other daughter suffered his abuse and yet is a very strong and self-assured adult (as am I after my tumultuous childhood). I do agree that a biological component is at work, allowing one daughter to move forward in life and the other to dwell in victimhood and self-sabotaging behaviors. I am traveling that long road of self-awareness; trying very hard to understand how all of this came to be, what my role in it is, how not to blame myself (guilt has been a constant companion), and how I can best help both of my daughters go on to lead happy, healthy lives.
   My BPD daughter is 28-years old and is already very successful in her chosen profession. She works hard and earns an impressive salary, however she has interpersonal problems in the workplace and no close friends. She desires community, yet has always had an awkward streak. From early childhood, she was often an "observer" of play rather than an "engager." Her father, who is very social, would berate her about her personality. He couldn't stand that she was not the most popular girl at school. He also wanted her to be athletic like himself, and forced her to play tennis until she graduated high school. These are the things she brings up that define a lousy childhood in her mind. There were many, many great things in her childhood and I have tried to open her to that perspective with photo books and family movies, but the good memories don't stick. Her father is an alcoholic and has anorexia. My daughter also has anorexia, although she does eat enough to look healthy-enough and talks about "feeding" her brain so that she can do her job well. She has attempted suicide once and often threatens it, which is very, very hard on me. She "divorced" her father and legally changed her name when she graduated from college. She "hates" her father, her sister, and almost all other "crazy" family members, so I am the only family member she accepts and tells me often how much she loves me, yet given a trigger the rage and accusations fly with no hope of logic or reasoning entering into the dialogue until the rage episodes subside.
   Because of the suicide attempt, I have spent the past decade as basically her hostage. My stomach aches in anticipation of our next conversation. I never know how it will go. I am working hard now at extracting myself from the bondage and learning how to trust my own take on reality, and how to restore my confidence as a sane woman and caring mother, as well as how to move on in order to enjoy the remainder of my own life. I have a long way to go in setting boundaries. I have a situation right now that I need help with. I planned a trip with her a few months ago that is scheduled for two weeks from now. About a month ago she unleashed fire and fury on me and on her sister. The text messages contain vulgar language that is truly demonic and immensely hurtful and untrue. Her sister especially was wounded by the outburst. I told her that the trip was off. She didn't believe me and then begged for restoration. I told her she needed to get help to control her "anger fits" as I term them, and I needed proof that she was going to get the help. I was waiting for that proof when she faced a sudden crisis at work and said that she couldn't wait for the trip because she needed a break. I was stunned that she didn't get what I expected her to do to earn the trip. Because of all she was going through at that moment at work and how much the trip meant to her, I agreed to let her take the trip. Now, however, the crisis (that turned out to be all drama and no substance) is over and I feel I need to get closure on the text messages. I am frightened to do this because things are so calm right now and I don't want to face another round of bellicose. However, I also feel it is not right that she has this trip when she said the most heinous things to both her sister and to me, and has not apologized. Do I ask that we go over the text messages and get closure before I take her on the trip, thereby risking a complete meltdown, or do I take her on the trip and try to find time while with her to talk about it. Am I enabling her bad behavior because I'm not holding my boundary? Given that she has a real mental disorder, is it ok for me to proceed with the trip and hope that in our leisure time to open lines of communication and progress in an intelligent and systematic way?
   
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Swimmy55
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2019, 04:34:32 PM »

Welcome! It seems you are doing a lot now to help yourself understand BPD and are getting therapy for yourself as well.  It appears the dilemma at hand is whether or not you should continue to take her on this trip you had originally planned?    When she unleashed her fury on you a month ago  can you share some of what that was about ?  Was she having a crisis, or was it more "normal drama". Was/is she escalating?  Are you comfortable with the thought of being with her on a vacation? These answers would then lead to my next question of  is the trip for out of the country or on a cruise?  (you/ she may need healthcare/ network/ resources...?)
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FaithHopeLove
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2019, 01:46:33 AM »

Hello SeekingTranquility

I am so sorry for all you are going through with your daughter. You mentioned boundaries a couple of times. Here is a really good article about boundaries. It was eye opening for me to realize boundaries are about us and our values not them.


https://bpdfamily.com/content/setting-boundaries
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SeekTranquility

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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2019, 10:57:23 AM »

   When my daughter rages at me and at her sister, she usually texts disgusting messages. It has happened many times and I now take screen shots of them and keep them in an iPhoto Album. This last time was when I was on a trip with her sister and other family members (she hates it when I spent time with her sister or my husband. She was invited on this trip but because of work could not make it). She had just recently broken up with her boyfriend (her first boyfriend ever). It wasn't the first time she broke up with him and when she broke up with him then, she told him that I made her do it and told him horrible things I said about him, which were all completely fabricated. Her sister showed me an Instagram post from him that suggested they were once again back together. When I texted her about it, she accused me of being obsessed with her love life and said, "You realize you can't have sex with the boyfriend you end up liking right? You seem to be so wrapped up in my significant other that I wonder if the reason is because you can masturbate to who I'm dating." I'm not going to react to that in this post or deny it. It's just a sick, sick message...and when she texts things like that I wonder where my sweet baby girl went and who this new sick person is. I don't recognize her. In the same half hour she texted her sister saying, "You're a piece of low life sh..." and then went on to brag about her big salary and make a mean comment about how little her sister makes. She called her a "trashy cu...t" and a "cu...t b...tch." My reaction was to say that the text messages were beyond anything I had every seen and that I was cancelling the trip I was going to take her on in July. (She only likes to take trips with me alone). When I got home, she and I talked it out. I told her that I needed proof that she would get help for her rage fits. She faked it and make me think she was on that path. Then, on my birthday, she had sent a gift and wanted me to open it with her on FaceTime. That morning, however, I was paying bills and sent her a text asking her if I could take $300 from her bridge account to reimburse me for bedding she purchased and charged to my card. Her reaction was this text: "Your timing is almost sociopath/autistic. I just sent you two gifts worth more than the total. Sure-get the money fast before you run out of money! Maybe sell the gifts at a pawn store if things are getting rough over there." Perhaps my timing was bad. I didn't see the connection between paying bills and opening a gift. I never opened her gifts and she has not inquired about them. That was June 10. THEN, after talking that through and telling her once again that she needs guidance, she reacted very strongly in a phone conversation we had about a date. She was invited to dinner for a second date and she was very excited about this. After a two hour dinner, she then went home. I said, "Sounds like a short date" - OK, maybe that was judgmental. She raged at me on the phone and then texted, "Maybe hire someone to go out and be a slut on my behalf." We talked later and she felt that I was saying that she should go home with him on that second date! No, I explained. I just meant that many times on dates a couple will walk around at look at shop windows, or sit and talk on a park bench...whatever. It would never be in my nature to suggest to one of my daughters to go have sex with someone. I understand now that BPD causes them to project their fears, etc. This is very hard for me. On the one hand, maybe she can't help doing what she's doing and I am the one who needs to learn how not to trigger her responses and also how to protect myself as I've learned in Stop Walking on Eggshells. On the other hand, I've never allowed anyone to speak to me the way she speaks to me when she is enraged. I don't want to tolerate it or have it in my life. When she is not enraged, you would never suspect that there is anything wrong with her. She is very normal and intelligent. When she rages, she is a demon-possessed person and with increasingly sexual language which takes my breath away. The trip coming up is out of the country. It is one week and part of it is to visit their au pair who lives in Belgium, who is recovering from breast cancer. She is like a member of our family and I want to go and show her our support. My daughter is excited to see her au pair again. I'm thinking that if I take her on the trip I will have lots of time to talk with her as we ride the trains of Belgium. However, I still think I need closure, especially with how she hurt her sisters feelings so badly. My stomach literally is in knots just thinking about having the conversation. I have written wise responses on 3X5 cards and I'm practicing my lines Preparing for a conversation with my daughter! This is nuts.
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FaithHopeLove
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2019, 12:14:38 PM »

Do you want us to help with the 3x5 cards?
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2019, 02:21:45 PM »

Seek,
I will be watching for others to advise you on how to respond. I would be so sickened by those texts that I’m not sure I could respond. When I’ve received similar type communication I’ve simply said “I’m choosing not to participate in this type of discussion” and then I fall silent. When it’s been face to face, I usually try to remove myself.  If it’s a text, I’ve told DD ahead of time that I won’t respond to texts that I consider vulgar or intentionally disrespectful (like name calling and cussing). I understand that these pwBPD are ill , but when the very core of my being is attacked and made to feel vile, I’m gonna protect myself. I’m sorry you’ve been on the receiving end of this. Some of us are more sensitive to words than others. I cringe over certain typed words as I’m very visual and put images with words instantaneously. Hugs to you
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Swimmy55
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2019, 02:58:54 PM »

Yes, we'd be happy to help with the cards, good suggestion , FaithHL.

Thank you for the information,Seek Tranquility. The vile talk/rages seem to be standard operating procedure for her then? Or is the verbal aggression getting worse?  What you have written actually triggers me as well.  My son also stated vile things to me and his Grandfather and it kicked up a few notches this past Holiday season of 2018.  I had to cease talking to my son for a week ( easy to do since he isolated)  .   This is pretty much verbal aggression and  abuse directed at you.  At the very least, you   have to lower your expectations on the outcome of the conversation with her, and be ok about not getting closure from her during the trip.  In addition, you may want to have some boundaries in place if / when she starts to spew venom.
 

.  
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2019, 06:10:09 PM »

hi SeekTranquility, i want to join the others and say Welcome

i can hear how much you love your daughter, both of your daughters, and i can hear your pain as well. its so difficult to be on the receiving end of venom from someone with whom you share such a close bond.

a member here once said good boundaries are about having a relationship thats safe, and works. what that means for each of us is unique, and can mean very different things. the journey is learning to find that balance. we dont usually have cooperative partners in our loved ones.

BPD involves a deficit in coping skills, and relationship skills - they dont have adult skills, especially in times of stress, and so the way we can best relate to them, support them, and support ourselves, is not always intuitive.

i think that a confrontation about what she has said, or an ultimatum over the trip, is not likely to play out in the way youre hoping, and that cancelling, while it might head off an outburst, would not be received as a wake up call, but as punishment. when youre dealing with a person who is highly sensitive to perceived criticism, and rebellious in nature, things are more likely to escalate.

as i said, you need a relationship thats safe and works, and thats a journey, and a series of trials and errors, but there are ways. using the communication tools, for example, in times of calm (when your daughter may be more receptive...it sounds like after she self soothes and cools off, that the two of you are better able to discuss where each other are coming from), to communicate your hurts can be very effective, although realistic expectations are important: there will be outbursts. ideally, they will be less frequent, shorter in duration, and you will have the tools to better weather them. another is to calmly step away from the conversation (a healthy time out) when things have broken down to the point of no return. there are many more. when we are in Wisemind (problem solving mode), solutions become clearer.

https://bpdfamily.com/content/triggering-and-mindfulness-and-wise-mind

what do you think?
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     and I think it's gonna be all right; yeah; the worst is over now; the mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball…
SeekTranquility

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« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2019, 10:23:50 AM »

Thank you all for your responses. This is so meaningful to me as I have no one to talk to about this. My own parents, her grandparents, routinely say that I need to let her "go her own way" and live my own life. It's so funny - They care really only about me, their daughter. I care so much about my daughter and not as much about myself. I can see the steep steps of progressing generations at play. My husband is very supportive but I don't want to wear him out. I also don't want to wear out my friends.

I asked my daughter to talk with me on the phone about the text messages (she lives in another state). I told her that I needed peace of mind and closure on it. I used the language I have learned in the book - and that I have placed on my 3X5 cards (and yes, I would welcome help with that). She was shocked that I brought this subject back up (she's always shocked when I bring up a past incident. With her, once she has vomited out the bile, she feels better and perhaps thinks all is well because she feels better. She seems completely out of touch with what anyone else is feeling, especially me whom she is closest to). She then messaged me this morning telling me to cancel the trip because "these texts have made me think that this trip is going to be too toxic for me." That, of course, is especially hilarious in a very sad way to me since I am thinking the same exact thing! In any case, I am going to practice my conversation with her with my husband, pray, and then just see what happens. If she cancels, I think I will feel relieved! I've never traveled alone and I think I might like that and find it empowering. That idea alone gives me strength to keep my boundaries. I'm not desperate to make it work. I do want to live a healthy, happy life, and I will do it with or without her. I've now spent a decade trying to understand what was happening and then what to do about it. I know that I will keep on trying because unlike what my parents say to me, I know that they would never give up on me, and I will never give up on her. I realize now that I have to untangle myself. I've been so afraid that if I do, she will go through with one of her threats to kill herself, etc. But, as in the book, if it's going to happen, it will happen. I really am powerless to save her, so I need to "let go and let God" as they say in al anon. I wish there were a support group for us to attend!
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PeaceMom
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« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2019, 11:23:00 AM »

Seek,
Your backup plan to travel alone sounds viable and empowering. Will you really do it? You might come back refreshed and energized in your Wisemind. Travel always gives me a fresh perspective and clarity. I love it.
Reading about your DD spewing her venom then being “over it” makes me think of my DD. When she feels compelled to speak her mind, there is no stopping her. She could literally clamp her own hand over her mouth, but the words would still pour out. she was always an interrupter from an early age. Wondering if that is common in PWBPD? It makes me think of one with Tourette’s Syndrome -they cannot control the words they speak.
I suppose it’s a neurological brain wiring thing.
I feel like more and more research may expose more about BPD in the future. In the meantime, keep us posted on travel plans.
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« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2019, 11:47:18 AM »

Hi Seek:  As I read on this site, I feel almost a severe sadness, because these pwBPD all have some very common and "typical" things they come with.  Unable to take responsibility for their actions, behaviors, words is one.  Unable to have a therapeutic discussion that will lead to resolution (often this is for the benefit and at the request of those of us who have been their victim when they lose it and tell us, out loud, what they think of while we are all thinking we're all doing ok).....these venemous things come out and we realize that all along, while the "picture" of us with them looks pretty good...we've been getting along, having an enjoyable relationship for a few days, then, all of a sudden, they spill it and we realize that all along, their mind has been in the worst place, and their imaginations of reality are so disgusting and horrible.
Last week my daughter's shoulder was hurting her a lot. She has torn it, had it surgically repaired, went into rages immediately after surgery, came down a flight of stairs on it, and we all know it didn't heal properly, if at all.  Anyway, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to help her with the pain.  I mixed essential oils, read articles....the whole nine.  On Saturday, I massaged it, and really worked hard to work out some of the knots in her back and around the shoulder, hoping this would help (overall) some of the pain she was feeling.  The whole time, I told her what i was doing and kept saying "if I'm going too deep, please tell me and I will lighten up.  This isn't supposed to feel good, getting out knots usually doesn't, but we don't want pain, we seek relief in these knotted muscles."  My hands are full of arthritis, so doing this was at my own demise....my hands hurt for the next day or two, but my goal was to help my daughter. 
The next day, she started venomous rages at me over something really silly.  She escalated immediately, and I was shocked beyond words when she accused that I even tried to manipulate her into letting me massage her shoulder so that I could physically hurt her.  She had plenty to say on the subject, but I was so distressed that she said it....I am still distressed that she would say it, but much more that in her mind, she is thinking like this. 
So much comes out when they escalate, and we always realize that they never have this "happy warm fuzzy loving feeling" that we all want to have and seek to have in our mutual relationships with others.  This is just a fact.....Our perception of things going well when things are calm and peaceful is nothing like theirs.  Things are never like that.....because in their minds, they are in a very different place than we are, at all times.

So, I really wonder as I write this.....what is a "good place relationship wise" to be in their minds?  If they never feel the love between us that the rest of us feel with others in relationships....what is our goal to give them the best payoff they could have in interpersonal relationships?  I have done a poor job phrasing the question....but what I want to know is....what makes them "happy?"......they always think horribly, no matter how good we try to be with them.....or how much we do for them....and at any moment, any little thing can set them off and we can all hear what they've really been thinking during what we would try to call "good times....when things were good between us"......
So, what would be their ideal??? Anyone?
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SeekTranquility

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« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2019, 12:32:55 PM »

LoveOnTheRocks, your post brings tears to my throat. What a loving mother you are! Look at all you do- rubbing essential oils into your daughter's arm knowing full well the pain it will bring you the next day. You do it because you love your daughter, not because you want some sort of reward or accolades, and yet when she goes into a rage fit, it is so heartbreaking to discover that she hasn't assigned special meaning to your efforts and in fact, blames you for things beyond your control or completely out of sync with reality. That is my story too, and it appears everyone else's who deals with a BPD child.

I re-read all of the posts today more carefully and intentionally, and clicked on the Mindful WiseMind. What I read there is what I am trying to accomplish. I practice Mindfulness mixed in with prayer for my daughters every day. I also go on long walks and journal wise responses to my one daughter's rage fits. One person asked if her vile language is getting worse and the answer is that it is! Also, the sexual content including the worst words possible as listed in a prior post, are not words ever used in the household that she grew up in. I don't use those words. It astounds me that she does, although as I've said, when she spews the vile words at me it doesn't seem human. She seems truly demon-possessed. I know you know what I mean.

I realize it is probably unrealistic to get closure on her most recent hateful texts and that canceling her trip with me would be seen as punishment and would not "open her eyes" to her behavior and elicit any desired change. I think I still want to tell her how, after all the time that has passed, that her texts still sting and that I really do need for her to take some responsibility (even if it is a small fraction). I need her to apologize to her sister. What she said to her is monstrous. Her sister knows she is ill, but when words like that are hurled at you by a sibling...I can't even imagine one of my sisters saying anything close to that to me! I hope she can do that. If she cancels or rages at me so that I cancel her ticket, I think that is the way to go. I don't feel right about taking her to Amsterdam and all over Belgium with that death energy between us. If we can work something out, then I will tell her ahead of time what the boundaries are and I also will get a second hotel room throughout the trip so I will have a place to go if things get rough. If they get rough, it will be the last trip I ever take her on until she gets better. By doing all of this I am incorporating many of the thoughts and ideas in the posts that I have received. Thank you do much!

I recently put together a montage of pictures of her from childhood and all of the mother-daughter shots showing affection between us. This girl, awkwardly social from the beginning, was a stellar student and graduated from Ivy League Schools including law school. She has every advantage in life. She is also very attractive (although too skinny because of her eating disorder). She was a nationally ranked junior tennis player. She is working for one of the top law firms internationally. She should be so happy and yet she is the most miserable person I have ever known. You would think with all of that intelligence that she would say, "You know what? I'm tired of being miserable. I will do anything it takes to be happy." But it's the opposite. Everyone else is to blame. She's probably narcissistic as well. Her dad is, and has anorexia, as I have mentioned. He's not borderline, though, at least he doesn't fit the standards in the book as my daughter does.

We want so much for our kids to be happy! I feel so bad when I read how BPD is caused by bad parenting. It's taken me years now to come full circle and believe once more that I was a good parent. She beat me down that far to where I just didn't know and started apologizing for anything and everything, which just made it worse. On this site I am reading the words of all of these good parents and I think, it's not fair! It wasn't suppose to turn out this way. I want to go on mother-daughter trips, to laugh and grow closer to both of my daughters. I do need to accept the reality of what can and cannot be at this moment in time. I must "lower" my expectations. That sounds negative, but I think it is the most positive way of adjusting my thinking, to free myself of impossible expectations.
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« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2019, 01:20:54 PM »

LOTR- you have expressed something I’ve noticed for years, but haven’t been able to articulate. When are they truly relaxed, peaceful, content and in harmony with those around them and the world. I’ve not seen it much. My DD worked with horses as her P.E. During high school for a year. It seemed to empower her a bit until she could no longer get along with the other teenage workers and was Edged out. 
I mentioned this in an earlier post. I have one acquaintance who is a very successful author. She has BPD and says she always felt odd, confrontational and just OFF, until she became this noted author. Everything feel in to place for her once her career blossomed. She advises everyone w/BPD to find something meaningful even if it’s volunteering and pour yourself into it.
Her identity now comes from her career vs her emotional and social struggles. I’m hoping my DD finds her thing!
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« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2019, 01:32:29 PM »

Seek,
It is amazing to read about your DD and her accomplishments.I’ve started with the old posts6 years ago on the last page of this blog and have been reading thru to learn as much as possible. It appears your DD may be in the very small percentage of extremely highly functioning pwBPD.  I see why life with her would be so very confusing. To have that type of academic, intellectual and career success is incredible for anyone. It seems nearly impossible to be so emotionally immature and impulsive. I just read a study that showed that those with low IQs and high emotional intelligence fare better than those with high IQs and low emotional intelligence. This didn’t surprise me at all, but it was interesting to see it quantified. My DD lives with this reality daily. It leaves me wondering if those who are highly functioning actually have more control over their interactions with others than the low functioning ones. I wonder if we have any psychiatrists or psychologists with us that could explain?

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« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2019, 06:20:21 PM »

PeaceMom, thank you for your interesting thoughts on the subject. Your story about your daughter brings back memories. My DD (I don't know what this stands for. Could it be diagnosed daughter? My daughter is not diagnosed) was fine in high school - always awkward socially, but fine. She has friends from high school and is in charge of her class reunion. She says that her favorite time in life was when she was in high school. This will sound like something out of left field, but she was also a cheerleader for one year. She rehearsed for the tryouts day and night, day and night, and made it. She is a super-achiever when she puts her mind to something. She had some sort of emotional breakdown her first semester in college and (I didn't know it at the time) started cutting. She begged to come home. It was at that point that I really noticed how mean she was getting toward other people. I won't go into details, but I thought it was a phase and that she would snap out of it. She didn't and it just kept getting worse. She poured herself into her studies and graduated summa cum laude. She is now pouring herself into her position at this large law firm and literally working 24/7. She once told me that when a teacher gave her an "A" in school it felt like a "birthday present." She fantasized about being teacher's pet. I think since she couldn't make friends easily, that this was her way of feeling ok.

I am letting her come with me on the trip. We had a very long conversation on the phone and, maybe it's co-dependence, but I still love my daughter and I am hoping that we will have lots of time to talk, and that this will give her a much needed break from work. I have secured separate hotel rooms so I will have an escape if needed. Well see... I hope she does find happiness down the road, like your author friend. That is my dream and my prayer. Thank you!
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