Today I realized that I need to change my relationship with my daughter, for the sake of my sanity. She is a junior in high school and she is a top student and violin player. My daughter does her homework and gets amazing grades, so I don’t even have to worry about her academics. She is struggling with the transition to living with my parents and I know the divorce still weighs on her and it may always be something she carries around with her.
I am constantly “making sure” she’s okay; I am always thinking about how to make her life easier. I sometimes answer for her because she does not communicate well. Her father and I are trying to explain to her how confusing and frustrating it is to talk to her. She says she’s different and she is, which is fine because I want her to be herself, but she says she doesn’t understand her thoughts or feelings sometimes and she lives in fear. She does have anxiety and I have guided her through a panic attack once, so I am always worried about upsetting her, but that is coming to an end. I am starting to resent her because of all the “extra” stuff I do to make sure she is “okay.” Ironically, she says I don’t listen to her and I don’t believe her; she feels the opposite of what I am trying to do; I feel like a failure. I buy her her favorite ice cream every week and I think she’ll be happy. Parenting is so hard, but I decided I can no longer be her shadow. It is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. I have to let her just go and live and make choices and live with the consequences of those choices. She’s 16 and she has good, healthy friends; she is an old soul. Her interests are far above the average 16 year old. No social media. She just finished reading War and Peace and we got tickets for the Broadway show this fall. She was happy about that! She loves old stuff; her holiday presents are things like real war love letters, a french pamphlet from a restaurant, Russian cameras and dolls, original books, and antiques. We went to an antique store and she bought a world war 2 ration booklet. In addition, she is writing a book and teaching herself Russian! She even has a teacher from last year guiding her with the book and the teacher plans on helping her get it published. Her skills are off the chart with painting and drawing and photography. I told her she is a creative genius and many creative people seem to have some type of mental issues, myself included. She is fully aware of all the writers and artists who had mental issues. I just recently read that Van Gogh checked himself into an asylum twice! I knew the ear story, but I didn’t know he had bipolar, at least that’s what today’s doctors think.
It’s time for me to stop being her voice box and doing everything for her. What I need to do is focus on the things that are important to her, rather than what I think is important??
Lastly, she doesn’t really like my personality. I am loud and animated because that’s just who I am. I talk to strangers; I celebrate moments with singing or dancing. I feel like she has been stifling me. For example, when we were in NYC to see Halsey, a woman tried to take our cab and I told her she was not getting that cab and the people behind me were like you go girl! Later she tells me that I was loud and embarrassing. I told her that’s who I am. I told her she doesn’t have to like it, but she has to respect me. When we are in the car listening to music I am usually singing and she doesn’t like that, or if we are in a store and a song comes on I like I might start dancing a bit and she doesn’t like that. I feel like she’s suffocating me. When she comes back I am going to tell her I am not going to be different and she doesn’t have to like it, but she can’t tell me what to do; I am in charge of her not the other way around. Yesterday I was frustrated because she didn’t listen and gave me an excuse and I was firm and told her what to do and she cried, but instead of letting her tears get to me, I told her what to do and I walked away. I came back and it was done. This has to end now. When she was a little girl it hurt me to see her cry and I guess this is the teenage version of that hurt. I don’t even know if I am making any sense here. I just know I have to be me and I have to parent her and let her cry and punish her if need be. When I told her to clean her room and she didn’t, I said clean the room now or you’re not going to your friend’s house. I heard it come out of my mouth and I was like whoa…for me to actually follow through with that would have killed me. She cleaned it. One more thing: she constantly gets water on the floor when she showers and I am tired of cleaning it and having sopping wet towels. I showed her several times how to avoid getting water on the floor. Part of the problem is she has hair to her waist, and when she comes out of the shower she lets it drip and hang. All she does is wrap a towel around the bottom of it, and she holds it with her hands and her pajamas get all wet. I bought her a turban and she won’t use it. So her father and I decided this has to end and she puts it in a towel properly or she has to cut it. As I type all this I realize how pathetic I sound; why am I so afraid to let her hurt? I think it’s because I cried every day as a child and I attempted suicide at 14. Oh, and just so you know I did ask her if she wanted to talk to someone about her thoughts and feelings that upset her and she refused to see anyone. So I told her well that’s the only way I know how to help you feel better. I bought her books about divorce 6 years ago; she refused to read them. I bought her books about growing up and being a teenager; she refuses to read them. Also, I feel guilty because she is dealing with my bipolar; having a bipolar parent is very hard on a child. My therapist offered her to come for a session just to tell her what bipolar really is and how it can effect me and my moods, so she would have a better understanding of the illness; she refused.
If anyone has any suggestions or tips I would greatly appreciate it. Please feel free to hit me upside the head if you think that will help!
Thanks for reading this long ass post!