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Am I too 'needy', demanding and difficult?

(92 Posts)
Rowantree Sat 11-Jan-14 13:40:15

Well, maybe I am at times. Those who've read others of my posts will know I suffer from depression and anxiety, with all that encompasses.
What you don't necessarily know is that my father, who was a refugee from Nazi Germany and came to the UK in 1939 via Kindertransport, wrote his life story down for his family, over a period of years. It included translations of letters from my grandparents who were stuck in Germany. It all makes very painful reading and I still can't read it without crying (his parents were murdered at Auschwitz).
My DH and I have done a lot of family history over the years to piece a family tree together, on both sides of the family. Then suddenly our DD2 announced that she and her partner had worked on my father's story and got it published (the self-publishing firm called LULU) but only available to our family to buy. We were surprised and had mixed feelings - pleased they had done it but wished they'd consulted us first as there was a lot we could have added to the book. Still, we said nothing at all about that and I was very positive about the idea. We agreed it was best for my father to see it first before the rest of the family bought a copy.
DD2 told me she had ordered me a copy but please would I say nothing to my father till he'd seen it. My copy duly arrived and I skimmed through it quickly and texted her to let her know I'd had it. I said it looked good and thanked them for their hard work, though there were a few minor quibbles (I KNOW, I KNOW, WHY did I say that???) - the title was printed too high up so it was partly cut off, for instance. I didn't say anything else negative, but that was enough for her to blow up at me. I tried to apologise, said they were really minor points, that I hadn't meant to hurt either of them, that I knew I'd messed up - but to no avail, she said I'd hurt both of them. I was devastated. I said it was the last thing I'd want to do, but she wasn't budging. At that point I foolishly asked her to look back at my first text and said it really wasn't so terrible, and were we back to walking on eggshells again..? That unleashed a furious response from her - 'That's good coming from you - we have to tiptoe around you, spend huge amounts of time worrying what I can and can't say and not arranging things with people just in case it upset you, putting you first....' and so it went on. I felt terrible: so hurt that she felt like that and that I'd hurt her and her partner. I tried to be conciliatory and agreed I wasn't the easiest of people but that I was aware of it and trying to address it....nothing helped.

It's her birthday next weekend - her 30th. I had hoped we'd be able to take them out for lunch as we usually do around her birthday, but she declined the offer (made prior to this episode). I don't know how such a minor thing escalated, by texts, into something as painful as it has. She hasn't mentioned the book since; there was a silence from her for several days afterwards, and DH suggested leaving her to calm down, but I was so upset and I still keep crying - sometimes because I'm angry with myself and sometimes with her, because she didn't accept my apology which was sincerely offered, and then went on to say things she knew would hurt me.

To put this into context, she was diagnosed with Borderline (unstable mood disorder) several years before I was - but the therapy she had was amazing and has helped her turn her life around. Walking on Eggshells is a feature: people who suffer with it can be touchy, irritable, oversensitive - all of which I plead guilty to!

I don't know what to do now. I long to see her and our little granddaughter again - haven't seen them since Boxing day and was really looking forward to seeing them round DD's birthday, but it looks as though that won't happen and I don't want to pressurise her because it would be selfish of me, I know that. They are also in chaos at home because they hope to move soon and on that basis, ordered lots of new furniture which is clogging up the flat. The date has now been put off again. I hope it doesn't all fall through, leaving them with furniture and flooring they can't use!

Just not coping well emotionally right now with lots of things - and I don't know if any of what I am feeling is 'reasonable' or whether it's just me over-reacting yet again :'( I have fallen short yet again of who and what I know I should be. FAIL!

Nonu Sat 11-Jan-14 13:44:32

So very sorry to hear of all your troubles !
I am sad for you x

Soutra Sat 11-Jan-14 14:03:18

I am so sorry to hear this. Leaving your feelings aside for a moment - your DD is clearly under a lot of stress and from what you say does not necessarily cope well with it.
I am not blaming you for a moment as she is not a child, but this book, like any creative project is like a baby - criticism is NOT welcome - I would probably have done the same but my sainted MIL would have taken a deep breath and said something like Lovely dear, saving any constructive criticism for later and the other sort for never.
However the damage is done and probably anything you say will be taken amiss and used against you.
So what next? A full apology - making excuses that you are under the weather perhaps? An unconditional offer of help with the move in mond - childminding/storage/washing or ironing?
A text or phone call may not be the best way to start - flowers, a card or letter, keeping it short just sorry for upsetting her, never meant it, but ignore all the hurtful things she said for now they will get you nowhere. Yu may think I am not on your side, believe me I am, but what do you want? Justice? A fair hearing? Or to make up with your daughter. Your choce, I know which I would do if I had my thinking head on and could put the hurt beind me. In answer tioyour question, NO you are not, she is , but you are her Mum so you will forgive her everything. Hope I have not upset you, it is meant kindly flowers

glammanana Sat 11-Jan-14 14:05:31

How sad you must be feeling Rowan is there anyway you can speak to your DDs partner and have a chat with him or is that difficult for you? or even your DH speak to your DD and tell her how upset you are to have had this falling out over something so important with regards to your family,I'm sure she will come around given a wee bit of space and she must be feeling stressed with all that is going on with her impending move (nothing more stressful) I would leave it a little while then write to her rather than text and put your thoughts down on paper for her to read far better than texting which I think is inpersonal when it comes to problems invite her for lunch just the two of you and see how things go,we all say things we wish we could take back and I'm sure she is sorry for what she said to you (they always do ) so take a big breath and leave it a few days and things may get brighter. flowers

Soutra Sat 11-Jan-14 14:07:38

PS your father's story sounds fascinating but I can see how hurtful it could be for you as you are still too close. I have the same or similar problem with the letters my father wrote to my mother over the 12months or so before he could arrange for her to come to the UK from Germany at the end of the war I have them in a box since his death 12 years ago and have not yet made it to the end.

JessM Sat 11-Jan-14 14:14:39

Rowantree it used to be scientific heresy to suggest that stress in a parent or grandparent can affect subsequent generations. Now the science of epigenetics is showing that this can happen in many ways, So perhaps Hitler is to blame for some of your emotional troubles.
Many young adults go through a phase of being angry with their parents - it sometimes comes when they do a bit of "navel gazing" . Remember Phillip Larkin's poem - "They fuck you up your mum and dad" - it expresses that emotion of realising that your problems come from your family background.
Most of them - most of us - get over it. Think of it as a phase, like 2 year old tantrums.
She is obviously stressed right now and maybe needs a break from family dynamics while she deals with the move.
It is hard being the parents of adults sometimes. Do you have a therapist who can help you get past some of your feelings?

Riverwalk Sat 11-Jan-14 14:21:21

Your daughter has a partner, a child, and a house-move to contend with - I think you need to give her some breathing space - it's only a couple of weeks since Boxing Day!

Kiora Sat 11-Jan-14 14:52:09

Honestly I think your overthinking things. I say because I'm in the same place. It's been an awful year and so I have been plunged into a depression. That in turn makes me ponder more and only see the negative aspect of everything. It's such a bleak place to be. These long dark miserable grey days are not helping. I think we should both try to change our thought processes. It's just so hard. I'v just been for a short walk with my husband. It's helped because otherwise I would have been wallowing again. I think your background must have had some affect on feelings of anxiety. My family history isn't as painful as yours but I know that my upbringing, my place in my family have exacerbated my natural anxiety. I know it but how to control it and cope with is a different matter. I suspect that we are both hoping that we will wake up tommorow and be cured. Your not a failure you just love too much and want to make everything right. Your daughter sounds the same. So that's a bit of a clash of personalities. Can your husband have a nice word with her nothing heavy just say it would be nice to see them or offer some help. I hope it won't be long before it's sorted.

KatyK Sat 11-Jan-14 14:55:06

I agree with JessM it is hard being the parents of adults. I have realised lately that most of the difficulties I have had with my DD have been down to me, still treating her as 'my child' when she is in her 40s. I thought we were close (that's how I saw it, she probably never did) so I have 'struck out' at being left out and sidelined (as I see it). I'm just glad I saw sense and backed off before there was a major fall out.

Aka Sat 11-Jan-14 15:22:51

I think you know you shouldn't have pointed out those few 'minor quibbles'. Least said soonest mended perhaps?

Aka Sat 11-Jan-14 15:30:40

PS Why don't you forget all about what has happened and give your DD a ring to see if there's anything you can do to help with their move? Offer to store some extra furniture, look after your GD on the day, etc..

Rowantree Sat 11-Jan-14 16:26:39

Have just read all the helpful replies - and they are ALL helpful, so very many thanks. I know I do 'overthink' things, Kiora, you are right. And I also suspect that my family history has a part to play in the way I respond: my father never knew what it was to grow up in a stable family as it was torn from him so young ( as it was his sisters and so many others during that terrible time). My mother's background was unstable too: her own mother died when my mother was 2. She was born in Canada. Her father was unable to look after her and sent her to England to live with her grandmother in St Helens, Lancashire. Not one family member was prepared to help care for my mother. She only saw her father again once before he died - when she was 13. She remained bitter and deeply affected till her death.
I have grown up with this, but then so have so many others, and they haven't let it affect them. I didn't think it had affected me so deeply, but yes, it has - does that make me weak? I have tried so hard NOT to affect my own children; I grew up with a lot of guilt, and my teenage and early adult years were traumatic in many ways I don't want to go into now. Suffice it to say that I determined that I would bring up my own daughters NOT to feel guilt, and to seek their own lives freely, to go for what inspired and excited THEM in life rather than seeking to please us, their parents.
Because DD2 was born with a rare syndrome it meant that journey was rather more tricky for us, but we did our best, making plenty of mistakes along the way. We've always been open, we talk a lot, I have many times apologised for mistakes I have made while they were growing up, taken responsibility for them and they have forgiven me.
However....DD2 and I still have a rocky journey. Her mental health has always been precarious; I can't ever get past the horror of nearly losing her to at least two serious suicide attempts as a teenager, as she battled with anxiety, depression, awful bullying at school because of her disability, major surgery, self harm....we blamed ourselves, thinking we hadn't loved her enough ( though from the word go, when she was born, I loved her and thought that love would be enough to protect her from the world and the difficulties she would encounter. Naive or what - of course it wasn't enough! We never wasted any opportunity though to make sure she KNEW she was loved unconditionally, just as her elder sister was and is. I didn't want DD2 ever to be in any doubt about that. However, that's probably led to me 'stifling' her rather as she grew older (in my own defence, I was frightened by the suicide attempts as anyone would be, and probably hovered too much....and the natural gnawing of the umbilical cord that all children do as they grow older was rather painful in her case.

None of that excuses how I am now - I HAVE to overcome it somehow, and I don't want to grow older being a pain in the backside to my children, or to other family members for that matter. !'m 60 now: can you teach an old dog new tricks? Can the old dog teach itself new tricks? 'Cos the therapy ain't helping, and the drugs don't work....!

Soutra, Glammanana, Jess, Riverwalk and others....we did offer help and have done since, but it's been turned down, though I think we're probably still 'on' for moving day! I do like the idea of writing, maybe a card. Texts are always tricky to get right. She doesn't like talking on the phone and in any case tends to get irritable then too.
Kiora, I recognise the mood slump thing. We have guests for dinner this evening, otherwise I'd have dragged DH out somewhere for the day. I do find it helps as a distraction for a while, from the spiralling thoughts. You are right: we both realise the WHY, but it's HOW to change things, isn't it? That's the difficult bit.
MY DH has suggested I leave it for a while and then he will contact her and offer our help and/or birthday lunch. Sometimes she responds better to him (though not always).
KAtyK, your words made me think too - though I am aware of trying NOT to treat her as a child, it might not be apparent to her. H'mmm....!
Soutra - you are right: what I want is to make up with my daughter, to be forgiven. So I must put aside the hurt. I don't want her to feel more guilt! I had apologised fully, but the more I said, the less she wanted to hear. I guess she wasn't ready to forgive me. I am planning to send her flowers for her birthday, and a card, as we are unlikely to see her for a while. And you have not upset me: your words, as those of the others, were wise and balanced and made so much sense. I have much to think about. I still feel very sad, but though I can't change how I feel, I CAN do something about how I act.

I'm going to meditate, and hope I can feel a little less like a wrung-out dishrag afterwards!


rockgran Sat 11-Jan-14 17:24:45

"A parent's place is in the wrong", I think.
Even as someone who had a perfectly loving and stress free childhood I would say that the relationship you have with your child is always "eggshell-like". My sister (same upbringing) has similar views.
I think you are trying to analyze your dreadful family experiences and blame them for everything when in fact you would probably still have some of these problems whatever the history.
Adult children have a love-hate relationship with their parents. We embarrass them, drive them mad, worry them and suffocate them - but at the same time we give them stability, unconditional love and endless support.
I am so sorry for your terrible background but try not to let it impinge on your current situation. Give your daughter time and space, be cheerful, loving and agreeable when you do have contact with her and just let it blow over.
I hope I don't sound as if I am making it too simple. I have sometimes felt terribly hurt by some thoughtless act or word but I pretend I did not notice and it comes right eventually. Least said, soonest mended.

petra Sat 11-Jan-14 17:31:28

Oh dear, Rowantree. It will pass. I have been in your situation so many times that I'm getting used to dealing with it. Our trouble ( DD & myself) is that I say things that I think are quite normal and my DD has always been someone who says exactly what she thinks to whoever and wherever.

Example. Xmas Eve. All of us in the lounge, friends of theirs as well. She says: we are thinking of getting a new settee. I say: another settee? ( they do seem to change them a lot) well, that done it. "what do you mean, what's it got to do with you, d you know how much we pay for them, and on and on.
You can imagine the faces on the other guests.
I am used to it. I don't retaliate, it only feeds the monster, as I say. And then I leave. We let the dust settle and it's back to normal.

KatyK Sat 11-Jan-14 17:58:23

Rowan - I am just trying more to think of how my DD sees things and not see it all from my own perspective. I think I am guilty of seeing her as a child, which obviously she is not but I also think we should be able to put our point of view across without fear of a falling out. It's SO difficult. She has always come to me with problems or asked for my opinion but now she can sort them out for herself and doesn't ask, I feel slightly lost. My problem not hers. She is a good person who has made a good life for herself and her family despite life not always being easy for her. I hope things work out for you.

BlueBelle Sat 11-Jan-14 18:02:23

I can relate to a lot you say Rowan. you are not alone I annoy my children it feels all the time I love them to bits but always feel on the back foot Whenever I ring my youngest I vow to agree with all she says to say noting out of turn to keep it light and enjoyable but every time something pops out of my mouth that she considers criticism or negative and then I stew until the next time we speak usually once a week I overthink and blame my big mouth I did it yesterday when she said they were going to get a puppy they already have a dog and two cats she works long hours away from home and I don't think its fair on the animals and of course I said something stupid like 'have you really thought this through who's going to walk it when you're at work 12 hours' the minute the words came out I wanted to grab them back and say 'oh lovely' There was a stony silence and I quickly changed the conversation but there was a frosty front to the rest of the chat which ended soon afterwards

Oh course they can say hurtful things to me but I don't expect they waste a second worrying so why do we worry so much

Iam64 Sat 11-Jan-14 18:04:14

Rowantree, so sorry to hear about this incident with your daughter. Meditation sounds like a good plan. Have you had a discussion with the counsellor about the fact you don't feel it's helping. I do hope that given a bit of space, and a warm approach from you will give your daughter time to reflect on how upset she felt, and to meet you half way.

Rowantree Sat 11-Jan-14 18:42:35

I am feeling a little less sad now I've meditated. And re-reading all the wise posts here is very empowering, so thank you all! I need to re-think my strategy with DD2, though it's easy to get it wrong (I do frequently!). DD1 is a different kettle of fish: it's easy to discuss things with her without her flying off the handle. If she does get irritated, she does so firmly and kindly, but makes her point clear. With DD2 I'm always on one side or 'tother of the line, but usually on the wrong side!
KatyK - I can see your point and feel the same: 'my problem, not hers'....I don't want to make my issues spill over. I need to learn how to deal with them better. And keep my mouth shut more often!
Bluebelle and Petra - can relate there too - how many times have I wanted to take back words said too quickly and inadvisedly! I am a little better than I was though - I'd thought our relationship had improved a lot after a family 'meeting' about Boundaries (!) in a restaurant, when GD was a couple of months old. I'd hoped to see our GD more often than DD2 had envisaged - problems arose, we met for lunch with both DDs, discussed it, I shed some tears, but we all left feeling progress had been made.
Unfortunately the path of progress ain't always smooth. One step forward, two steps back...or sometimes vice versa....

Iam64- I am 9 months into some horrible therapy programme that my psychiatrist thought would be good for me. I have another 9 months to go. It's two days a week. Most of the other patients have been in-patients or have self-harmed (I have neither) so I feel guilty that I appear to function better than some of them, whose lives are very difficult - whereas my life is NOT difficult at the moment - it was, but I coped far better then! Sod's law, really.... but despite fantasising about letting rip at DD2 for being hurtful, I will put that firmly where it should be, and Do the Right Thing - be calm, measured, loving and warm. I know I will feel all the better for that.

I am amazed and delighted at how wise and compassionate most Gransnetters are, and how supportive of each other. It makes me feel so much less alone with my feelings. I hope others feel similarly smile

Nonu Sat 11-Jan-14 18:54:04

Hello Rownatree , you talk of yor psychiatrist , is that on the N.h.s. or a private one ?

Soutra Sat 11-Jan-14 19:03:57

Strategies to avoid saying what you think (i.e. the wrong thing)
(Pause) ...lovely!
(Pause) that's interesting
(Pause ...that's a new idea
(Pause) ...tell me more about it.....
Or any combination of the above.
The Pause is to enable you to readjust your features if in her company into an interested maybe quizzical encouraging smile - if you can make something like this your first reaction, it gives you time to work out what the hell to say next. Maybe I am a wimp, but I tend to say what I think they will want to hear - i.e approval - they are adults and I think I can remember only too well my own mother's instinctively negative reaction to anything new.

Rowantree Sat 11-Jan-14 19:15:12

Soutra, thank you - your suggestions made me giggle, but are excellent ideas and I will definitely practise them smile Like you, I can recall my mother's negativity - and experience my MIL's regularly!
Nonu: it's NHS, definitely. Couldn't afford to go private! He's a nice guy, he listens, he makes me feel as if I have something important to say, but on his own admission he's limited. Psychiatrists these days really only prescribe and refer on :/

Nonu Sat 11-Jan-14 19:33:01

x to you * ROWAN*

Winefride Sat 11-Jan-14 20:20:31

Don't often write a post but read and have learnt so much from gransneters tears . So much wisdom and experience. It is so hard to always stand back and think before we speak . One wonders why should we always be the ones to hold back but if we love our children we will always do this and maybe our sons and daughters will learn from us and treat their own children with the same tolerance and respect. (Just re read and noticed the word tears automatically put in for gransneters ) how profound!!

JessM Sat 11-Jan-14 20:24:03

Nice soutra - i get into trouble for not responding appropriately to various cataclysmic utterances

Soutra Sat 11-Jan-14 21:52:22

To be serious for a minute- our DC are adults and do not need our permission or even approval. So if we want them to share their hopes and plans I think we do need to curb any natural instinctive reservations. We may not agree but that does not mean we are automatically right.