Book Review – Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You

Don't Let Your Kids Kill youMy bizarre dreams continue, and I know now that they are directly related to my darling daughter’s current flip out and total departure from reality. Her last text message yesterday of 15 text messages in the space of 5 minutes was. “I HATE MYSELF, I lost my soul, you don’t care, TTYL.” (TTYL = talk to you later) How’s that for a guilt trip? My kneejerk response spoken only in my head was “uh, take 2 valiums and call me in a year, mkay?”

Instead I took the 2 valiums myself and prayed the prayer I always pray. “OK, God, I’m giving her to you… again. I don’t know what to do, please take care of her and help her find her way.” I was crawling out of my skin and briefly considered scheduling an emergency visit with my own psychiatrist.

Then it hit me, it has reached the point in our twisted relationship that I am no longer afraid FOR her, I’m afraid OF her. I mentioned this to Mr. Husband and he said “yea, you’ve reached this point before many times.” It’s funny how I can go into such a major case of denial that I forget this. All it takes is a couple of “normal” phone calls and I think “ah, everything is OK now.” What is really happening is that she’s baiting the hook to reel me in with yet another request for money, help, bail her out, buy something she wants, fix her problem, rescue her from another jam, etc., etc.

So I went on the internet and searched for books to read to help me through this. I found one with the onerous title “Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You.”

Synopsis via Amazon.com: Book Description

Don’t Let You Kids Kill You – Publication Date: August 1, 2007

This is a self-help recovery guide for parents in the devastating situation of realizing that they are powerless to stop their children from self-destruction through drug and/or alcohol abuse. It is dedicated to letting parents know when it is time to start saving themselves from being dragged along to destruction as well, and to providing skills that prevent it. The book relies on spiritual but practical teachings and the message is for parents to attain a healthy balance in their lives through the letting go process. While showing parents how to safely distance themselves from the child’s destructive patterns, it also shows how to recognize and support healthy requests for real help, if and when they come. It includes anecdotes and quotes from parents who have had to cope with kids on drugs and/or alcohol.

This book also applies to parents with kids that have substance abuse problems in tandem with mental illness, which is the case with my daughter. I get so frustrated with her thinking, “If you are so ready and willing to take a pill, shoot, or snort anything that comes your way…why the hell can’t you just pop a few extra pills that will actually help you.

The sad truth here is that street drugs are much easier to get than psychiatric meds. Psych meds required going to a Doctor or clinic which is expensive and also require regularly scheduled follow up visits. In other words it requires responsibility, planning and follow through. Not easy and usually not part of the skill set for a person who has difficulty deciding on which shoe to put on first in the morning.

Another huge problem in the mental health care system is that many Psych doctors and psychologists don’t understand or don’t have the training to help people who have substance abuse and mental illness as co-morbid conditions. Their response is typically, “well, I can’t help you until you stop drinking, using…blah blah blah.” That is probably not going to happen. It’s like telling an injured person “I’m not going to give you anything for the pain until you stop screaming from the pain.”

So I read this book last night and it has helped tremendously, mostly from just knowing that I’m not alone in this never ending nightmare. There are so many parents out there suffering that there are a boat load of books written about it. The biggest take away from the book is that I have told myself, “This is not your fault!” As parents we blame ourselves, our family blames us, society and even the judicial system blames us. There is a law in Oregon state that if a child commits a felony offense, the parent is charged and convicted and pay the consequences for the crimes of the child. How’s that for giving a child a free pass to be as violent and dangerous as they want to be with absolutely no consequences?

My daughter is 42 years old now, so I don’t think I can be legally blamed for her mistakes or actual crimes, but the fear still keeps me up at night and gives me nightmares when I do manage to sleep. There is a broken record in my head that keeps playing the same questions over and over: “Where did I go wrong? What could I have done to prevent this? What did I do? What did I not do?”

One thing the book advises is to try to distance yourself, stand back and view your child as an adult person, not the darling child you gave birth to. If this person engaged in the offensive or violent behaviors and language, abused you physically or emotionally, stole from you, lied to you, and was just in general an all-around looser…Would you accept their behavior, make excuses for their actions, blame yourself, or even associate with them at all? If the person were not your child you wouldn’t even think twice, you’d back the hell off and stay away from them. You would not; give them money, tolerate hysterical phone calls at 3:00 am, believe their lies, bail them out of jail repeatedly, or allow them in your home. And you certainly wouldn’t visit their home, if they have it together enough to have one, without a bodyguard.

So instead of nursing this gaping wound for my child I have to start taking better care of myself. I have to start living my good dreams instead of my nightmares. The stress of not doing so could kill me. And it does kill parents of troubled children on a regular basis via high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, suicide, bleeding ulcers, and other stress related health conditions.

My daughter has threatened me with suicide many times if I did not do what she wanted me to do. Today I accept that as an adult this is her decision to make. But, also, now that she is adult she is responsible for her own life. I am no longer willing to die for her.

What do you think?

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