Facing The Future After A Parent-Child Relationship Dissolves

It’s been a couple of weeks since I laid the pajamas on the bed, waiting for Hannah to come home after another stint in jail. She had been incarcerated for three months on drug related charges, theft, and receiving stolen property. While in jail, she was in three fights, one resulting in a battery charge. She is scheduled to go to court on that charge later this week, but for the first time in all her legal troubles, I won’t be at that hearing.

 

I first lost her to mental illness, then to drugs and now to a racist group – into the abyss. She deleted me and other members of our family from her Facebook and the last time I talked to her she hung up on me when I voiced my objection and disappointment on the group of people she’s now associating herself with. I’m stepping aside as her parent. I’m not walking with her on this path.

The breakdown of a parent-child relationship is layered, complicated, hurtful, devastating, emotional, and frightening. I’ve been asked many times, “How do you handle all of this?” The process is similar to any grieving situation where one goes through denial, isolation, anger, helplessness, depression and finally rounding the corner with acceptance. I’ve had years as her parent to vacillate between all of these, so hitting the acceptance step is a relief. There is a weight off my back. I actually feel free to accept the possibilities of a happier future for myself, without the daily struggles of “what if’s and what could have been’s.”

I take solace as a parent that I did everything to help her. I loved and cared for her and was there for her during the good times and the bad. I’m not going to look back to all the struggles we went through, as the past can’t be undone. Honestly, I wouldn’t have done much differently in raising her. The system of mental health failed her, the school system tried their best and she failed them, and now her legal battles are her own and so far she’s failing that system. Unfortunately, I believe, some kids just come into the world struggling and with every option for success at their disposal, choose their own life’s journey. I expected my daughter to grow into a happy, healthy, successful adult. I learned early on that her choices, as much as they baffled me, she was willing to take.

There has been a gradual transition from one image of myself as a mother to another, stronger, postparenthood woman. I’m blessed my marriage, my relationship with my other daughter, my health, and my sanity survived parenting this kid. It has been the worst job in the world. It was the hardest, most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m glad it’s over.

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