Need some inspiration

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gnome
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Need some inspiration

Post by gnome » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:54 am

Going into a rough time with my stepdaughter again. The latest started when she decided to end her relationship with and stop living with her last boyfriend and the father of two of her kids. It wasn't an obviously bad decision, because we knew enough about him--he was so insecure that he obstructed her from self-improvement. My wife witnessed this behavior first-hand. Wouldn't take her to appointments, wouldn't help her get her driver's license, basically got in the way of everything she needed to become in any way independent. They made a deal that he would look after the kids--including one that was not his, for a year and she would move out so that she could "work on herself". It was an official deal, with custody papers and all. This was initially to involve her moving back in with us, getting that drivers' license, getting her GED, basically setting a goal of her eventually being able to have at least joint custody without living with him.

Well, that plan got derailed when she decided instead of living with us, to move in with a new boyfriend a couple of hours away from us. He lives with his family and they were willing to have her move in, so there wasn't much we could say about it, though we warned her that it was likely a mistake to focus on a new relationship instead of self-improvement. She insisted that she could do so even while living with this guy.

It sort of worked for a while. It was honestly seeming to be a better environment--she was encouraged to self-improve, had some access to health care, and was taking some baby steps towards what she needed. We did notice a problem, that they had a lot of relationship drama. He's young and emotionally immature, and they have not really had a meeting of the minds on how to live together--they argue over chores, who needs space, who's not communicating, who's being unreasonable, that sort of thing. 99% of the time the majority of the argument is how one person isn't understanding what the other person is trying to say. "Yeah but when I say that you always...", "Yeah but then you always..." Useless--they're not going to figure out their troubles by sorting out who's failing worst at communication, as if either one would somehow admit to it, and that somehow a solution would spawn from that point.

But it affects us, you know? Like she asks us to come and visit for a week--which we're not thrilled with as neither of them has a vehicle so we have to go get her, bring her home, then bring her back and drive home a week later. That's eight hours of driving total--and even the whole "week" idea was a compromise from when she wanted us to do that in the course of a weekend!

So we have her visit because we were already out that way to see other family, and in the middle of the week she gets into a huge fight with her boyfriend and insists on going back right away. We were sick of the drama anyway so we decided to just do it for the extra few days peace and quiet. We even tried to help them figure out how to communicate with each other better, but really it would likely take a professional counselor, and what are the odds they're willing to do that? Zero.

Things were quiet for a little while. Then we hear she's been asked to leave by her boyfriend's sister (who partly owns the house, along with their mom)-- because they keep arguing over chores. She asked to move back home after all. So we worked it out with the sister that she had an extra month there before moving, so that we could set up to accommodate her--which would involve a current roommate finding another place to live in order to free up a room.

While we're still trying to figure that out, a week later she says she needs to leave right away--that very day--because her boyfriend was abusing her. I won't get into the details, but physical aggression and controlling behavior was involved--not the sort of thing someone would get arrested for, but certainly not acceptable and every bit a reason to leave. We were ready to accept this plan, as any parents would of course be willing to provide safe harbor for their child escaping abuse. The only whiff of trouble was that she described it not as leaving, but as "wanting to clear her head and decide what to do."

Now bear in mind we have in the past been manipulated by her--she has a habit of, whenever someone doesn't cooperate with a proposal, that she describes an emergency that requires them to do it anyway. However, so far as we knew she had never lied to us about being abused. We decided to take it seriously, but to try to forestall any games, at that point I said that if it truly was an emergency and couldn't wait for a weekend, that if it was because she felt unsafe and needed to be removed from the home immediately, that we would still do it, but that it would be for good and we would not bring her back. She assured us that yes, she felt endangered, yes it was an emergency, and yes she was leaving for good.

She was home for a week and a half. She promised her mother they really were broken up, even though she spent every evening on the phone with him. Then we heard that the family was coming to pick her up to "visit" for a week--you know, because she had formed such a strong bond with his mother and his aunt. It was true that she felt close to them--but we had our own ideas about why she wanted to go back. This was confirmed when we found out (due to her confiding in someone else) that she was still "together" with him and planned on continuing the relationship.

Before we found out for sure, we tried to argue with her about visiting. If it was so unsafe that we needed to rush out in the middle of the week to bring her home, why was it OK now? She had no answer, except to insist that the abuse happened. Then after they came and got her, we found out the truth.

We're angry and feel manipulated and used. She may have been lying about what he did, but I consider it far more likely (and more in character with her past behavior) that it happened just the way she said, but it was only an emergency to her when she wanted to make us do something without her having to wait for it, and stopped being an emergency when it was no longer convenient for her. Basically, she may have told us the truth about what he did, but she was lying to us about having any intention of ending things. It's also possible it's part of a game of home-surfing, switching situations when she gets too much heat about moving things along with medical stuff, schooling, employment, and so forth.

She's coming back tomorrow, and we plan to confront her. We're telling her that we will still allow her to leave the abuse by staying here, but only if she stops visiting there and works on her plans. I don't much like it, because I've often heard that relying heavily on "tough love" with an abuse victim generally makes things worse by continuing their isolation--but if we allow her to play these games and be deceptive in order to manipulate us, isn't that just accepting abuse from her? I'm emotionally wrenched because I would rather just support her need to leave a bad situation, but she isn't letting that happen without taking advantage of us.
"If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight! Sun Tzu said that, and I'd say he knows a little bit more about fighting than you do, pal, because he invented it, and then he perfected it so that no living man could best him in the ring of honor. Then, he used his fight money to buy two of every animal on earth, and then he herded them onto a boat, and then he beat the crap out of every single one. And from that day forward any time a bunch of animals are together in one place it's called a zoo! (Beat) Unless it's a farm!"
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Re: Need some inspiration

Post by Cloverlief » Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:13 am

That is a tough situation. It can feel like abandoning your child, but it sounds like this young lady has some problems that she is not dealing with.

I would recommend that in the future, if she wants you to pick her up in the middle of the week, that you tell her that you are unable to do so, but will be there on the Weekend. Or offer to purchase her a bus ticket to get home (you purchase, do not give her the money.) If she insists that she is in danger, encourage her to call the police and have a list of women's shelter's local to her available that she can contact them.

Remind her that she is always welcome home, but she will have to do some of the work to get there, such as taking a bus.
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Re: Need some inspiration

Post by Pyrrho » Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:17 am

It is difficult, but if she is an adult, she is responsible for her decisions and actions, not you. You have the right to set appropriate limits for yourselves.

If alcohol abuse is involved, try Al-Anon. It might not be for you, but then again, it may help you.
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Re: Need some inspiration

Post by xouper » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:05 pm

gnome wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:54 am
Need some inspiration . . .
That's quite a story. I feel your pain.

I'm not clear what kind of inspiration you were looking for.

Whatever you decide to do, it's probably the right thing. I have no advice, but will this do:

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Re: Need some inspiration

Post by gnome » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:35 pm

Thanks, all--I appreciate the advice and kind words :) And I think I'm doubting my resolve less this morning now that I've slept on it.

In response to a comment above--there appears to be no substance abuse of any kind involved in this situation--so that's at least one thing that isn't complicating it.
"If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight! Sun Tzu said that, and I'd say he knows a little bit more about fighting than you do, pal, because he invented it, and then he perfected it so that no living man could best him in the ring of honor. Then, he used his fight money to buy two of every animal on earth, and then he herded them onto a boat, and then he beat the crap out of every single one. And from that day forward any time a bunch of animals are together in one place it's called a zoo! (Beat) Unless it's a farm!"
--Soldier, TF2

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Re: Need some inspiration

Post by Witness » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:37 am

You have my sympathy, gnome. Won't give advice as:
1. it's dangerous;
2. one never sees things the same way from the inside as from the outside;
3. my patience is short so I tend to be a hardliner (i. e. an asshole) in relational matters.

:|