She Wants To Break Me

The social worker said, “She wants to break you.”  She, being my daughter.

The reasons why there is a social worker in my house are beyond what I feel like writing about now.  But know that it was my reaching out for help, not a protective services situation.   My daughter is struggling with anger and depression and literally ran  — I mean ran  from traditional counseling.  You haven’t lived until you’ve chased a child around a therapist’s office, but I digress.  Consequently, I sought another route which brings professionals to the house.

Over the years I had done what I was supposed to do.   I told the children what they needed to know about the separation and divorce and move based on their age and capacity to understand.   I did not talk about the legal aspects of it.   The children never knew that I suffered through  dealing with various court filings (actually for me I was usually responding to my husband’s filings) and court appearances.   They don’t know about the financial and professional ruin and my poor health.     They were too little, it was appropriate to shield them.    The younger ones don’t seem to remember my good old-fashioned nervous breakdown and years, literally  —  years of tears.   I suppose that’s good.  I know it’s good.  When my children are grown and thinking back  on their childhood and mother I don’t want them to  recall an image of me lying on the  kitchen floor sobbing.  That’s not cool.

She has stated that her  misery is because we moved from the big marital home in the nice neighborhood, but I think it’s more.   I agree, she wants to break me.   I believe she thinks any appearance of strength or acceptance on my part somehow negates her feelings of loss.  The more comfortable I get with leaving the old life — the old house, the more miserable she seems.

What she doesn’t know is that I’m already broken, I broke down long ago, my loss was substantial.  For the last few years I’ve just been in survival and repair mode, with medications and counseling as needed, along with a fair amount of carpentry.   As the children have gotten older I’ve enhanced explanations  and have told them they can ask me anything and I will respond (age appropriately). I’ve explained why we had to move, and why we moved to where we are now . . . but she’s too young and too miserable right now to hear it.

Still, she is old enough to know that  our move to a much smaller house in a poor neighborhood is not merely a new adventure; she can see that we have taken a step down, socio-economically.  She also knows that her Dad also has a new life —  with new people  in it — and that’s just the way it is.

But, without acceptance of it all, it stinks.

Plus, my daughter is savvy, suspicious, practical and depressed enough to outright reject the “positive spin” talk.  I’ve tried.  She’ll need a different angle.  She’s a lot like me that way.

And let’s face it, misery loves company, and she wants me to be miserable and angry, too.  (I am, but I try not to show it.)

Though I’m thankful she feels comfortable enough with me to express  her feelings, especially since she is uncomfortable with her Dad,  I still want to (but won’t) say,

Don’t break me, girl.  You need me, more than you know.   I’m all you got.   I am not invincible.  I am human, even though I am your  mother.  Don’t break me.  Please. I’ve been broken before, you don’t remember — but it ain’t pretty.

So when I recently tweeted, “I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry”  after the heart wrenching session with my daughter and the social worker, it was because it hurt me to my soul and I feared that if I cried I would never stop.   I know, sounds overly dramatic, but sometimes . . . it is.

Just Me With . . .  some struggles.

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11 responses

  1. Why won’t you say that in italics? Maybe she would respond if she knew the depth of your past and present pain. Hold her and cry if you feel like it when you say it. Your bravery (not really) has made you seem unfazed by the whole ordeal she went through. I think she thinks she alone is bearing the burden for the family.

    My daughter, harried, overworked, underemployed, and drowing in debt after her divorce, told her 16-yr-old son to please stop whatever because all “this” was hard on her. He retorted, “You know, this is really hard on me too. Did you ever think of that?” He was just sassing her when she told him to stop whatever, not doing anything illegal or untoward. I think both of them “confessing” was good for them.

    She may be one of these children who thinks she is responsible and is bearing guilt. See, you are paying someone, and I, so disinterested a party, has all the answers.

    Really, sometimes lots of crying as you hold a child works. I don’t mean fake a cry, just let out your feelings. Are you going to fire me and not allow me to advise you?

    I have been through the rage of a child who ran away from home when a sitter was here while I worked. The sitter finally told me that he was so sweet until his father called and upset him by telling how wrong I was to get the divorce and told my son all sorts of nasty things about me.

    Is your husband connected enough to help her through this phase? I forget. Maybe you can appeal to his sense of allowing a child to grow up broken by the actions of the divorce.

    Good luck from my heart, soul, and experience.

    1. Thank you. I do not appear unfazed. I don’t try to be a model of a happy divorce. This has all been very, very difficult and it shows. She’s seen me cry, she’s seen my anger, exhaustion and frustration with current conditions, she knows I go to counseling, have taken meds, been in the hospital, she knows I hate our current neighborhood. We talked about my tears about moving, we did the other day. The reason why I don’t say what’s in the italics is because I don’t want her to feel responsible for me. I don’t want to put that on her. I know how hard it is on her. I tell her that as well. And yes, she’s made me cry. And I’ve told her how much it hurts to see her hurting so much and I just want her to feel better, and find what it will take for that, even though we can never move back to our old house. My point in not crying that day, was that I have suffered from severe, major, episodic depression and I need to be able to function. I need to acknowledge and deal with my child’s depression without ingesting it and adding it to mine. I already feel like a loser, failure, and I already hate my life and have little hope, I’m working on that. Hearing it from my child echoed back to me, is hard for me, because, I’m sensitive, not that strong and I’m exhausted and I’m a wreck. I am, however, off of the kitchen floor and I don’t want to go back there, which is a huge step for me.

      Still, as a mother, I hate to see my child in pain. I want to take that pain away somehow. We both have to look for ways to alleviate our pain. And we have to allow ourselves to be okay with a new life, even though we had little choice in the matter. We can’t go back.

  2. I understand now. Actually, I probably knew all you told me from reading your whole blog and forgot. I know about the feeling a failure part. And, I understand about how you feel when a child hurts. I really do. Your story makes me so sad for all you have to go through and then still function all day. Mostly, it makes me sad that your child cannot move through and not be so sad and angry with the unfairness of it all. Life ain’t fair. …no consolation for the hurting child.

  3. I believe you are stronger than you think. Sensitive is a good thing! I do know what you mean. Some days, especially in the past, I have felt fragile.

  4. I’ve discovered is that children learn how to react to new situations by watching their parents. If you tell your children that divorce is horrible and their lives are ruined and their family is broken, they believe you. If you tell them this is very hard, but not impossible and that your family is still whole and will survive this just the same, they believe that too. I wonder what her father is telling her?

    1. I don’t know what her dad says about the divorce. My guess is nothing much, he’s moved on. We’ve moved on too, but my daughter wants her old house back, in her old neighborhood and is probably also reacting to her Dad’s marriage and the fact that suddenly their time with him is different now that he has a wife — new people, new places, less time with his family of origin, more time with hers, etc. I’ve been working to make our new home as nice as I can, but I realize now that until she can accept that we can’t go back to our old house and that’s okay, all the coats of paint, new appliances, landscaping and rearranging won’t matter. She had visited our old neighborhood recently and that was just too much for her I think. Our new neighborhood isn’t as nice, our house is about a third of the size, or less. But the bedroom situation is the same, schools are the same — I think I’ve done pretty well at trying to keep stability as much as I could. But, it is a change. She’s not an idiot. She knows it’s a change. We’re on the other side of the tracks now. She’s been in a much better mood these last few days though. Thanks for reading.

  5. Hi Sweetie – I don’t know you, but I do know how it feels to be in this struggle. You are stronger than you realize, and it will be OK. I’ve been on the floor this past year, and was scared, but finally got the kind of therapeutic help my daughter needed. We’re functioning on another level now, not without challenges, but I’m finally in charge again. You can do this.
    xxoo

  6. Kids . . a tough gig. Teenagers without a huge support system and cooperation from the other parent . . . feels like impossible sometimes. I know it doesn’t help now, but my daughter went through a lot of shit. One day, years after she had left home, I got an e-mail. She thanked me and told me I was the reason she was succeeding in life. Its a long wait, but it will come so long as you love them and do what’s right for them even when they don’t see it that way.

    Hang in ther.

  7. […] like to hear about it or talk about it.  I sometimes refer to this kid as The Angry Child, i.e. She Wants To Break Me, but she’s been so much better these days.  She really has.  As luck would have it, as I […]

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