I don’t know if the obsession she’s experiencing at the moment is about getting her own way or whether it’s really about the boy. Maybe it’s a combination of both.
She has issues, to put it mildly. While her obsessions tended to change over time, fulfilling them was always genuinely necessary to preserve her sanity.
I remember when she was little and she just had to have all the shoes in the house paired up and lined against the baseboard of one wall with the toes pointed toward it. There was no pattern in the shoes, just that they had to be lined up.
She was four years old.
I explained that it would probably be better if everyone’s shoes were in her own closet, that way Mommy could get ready for work and Oldest could get ready for school. I asked her if she’d help me put them all back. She did help me, and easily enough. But then a few hours later they’d all be lined up against the wall again. The explanation was repeated, the agreement reached, and the shoes returned. This whole repetitive process lasted several days. Slowly, the obsession with the shoes evolved until she was only lining her own shoes in her own closet. Eventually she forgot about them altogether, and they wound up in a tangled mess like every other young girl’s shoes on the floors of closets everywhere.
Once, for a really long time, she had an obsession with pencils. She just had to have them. One entire dresser drawer was eventually devoted to housing nothing but the slender, graphite filled, and cylindrical slivers of wood. Most were yellow because those were the easiest to collect. But trips to the store and most small gifts for her usually involved at least one. They became outlandish in both color and size. Erasers were never an issue at all.
She was eight years old before we were finally able to empty that drawer and dispose of them all.
I’ve read that Attention Deficit Disorder is a little bit hereditary, and I do remember occasions when I’ve become obsessed with something, but mostly I think I just have an addictive personality. I’ve been addicted to cigarettes since I was fourteen years old, I can get addicted to a computer game like nobody’s business, and activities for me have to be entered into lightly. I once thought it would be neat to make a scrapbook. Hundreds of dollars later I had every imaginable tool used by the most devoted scrap bookers everywhere, and made lots of scrapbooks and mementos. Then the thrill of it quickly waned until I crashed all at once and just stopped doing it. That ride took me through three or four years of constant snapshots and diligently collected pretty paper and ribbon.
I’ve suspected once or twice that I might be bi-polar.
When I stopped smoking for a year I was using an electronic cigarette and collected every flavor that sounded remotely interesting. The interest in the collection wore off when I found the perfect flavor, but eventually I started smoking again. Now I both smoke and vape. I think I’m addicted to both. I’m not smoking three packs a day anymore, but I’m still struggling to keep it under one.
Youngest’s dad was an alcoholic. I’ve cautioned her about the lethal combination of ADD, Alcoholism, and Addictive Personalities. I’ve talked to her about how careful she has to be to avoid self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. I think so far she’s done okay. I know she drinks some, and I’d be stupid to think there wasn’t any pot smoldering in her vicinity. And I can only hope that she’s being careful.
But she’s almost nineteen, so she’s probably not. Nothing I’ve said to her thus far has fallen on receptive ears, so I have no meaningful reason to believe that my wise words of advice will have any positive affect whatsoever.
She was about thirteen when she met the boy. Everyone who knew him said he was bad news. She wouldn’t believe them. She eventually lost friends because of him. He’s also the reason she started shutting me out.
He’s come and gone, weaving himself into and out of her life one crisis at a time, leaving her heartbroken and crushed, only to come back to her and assure her that this time it’s for real. Loving him has left her closed to any good opportunity that might ever come her way.
I thought that it was finally over, that even though she had feelings for him that might never go away, he had at least moved on. He’d found someone else to play with, torture, and maim. But then he reappeared. I didn’t have a clue. I learned after the fact that he was the reason Youngest had packed up and moved out two weeks ago.
She’s insisting that he has to stay with us. She finally told me that through circumstances beyond his control, circumstances that are none of my business, he has nowhere to be. She’s demanding that we give him a place to stay.
We said no.
She doesn’t come home now at night after work, and I’m a little uncertain whether or not she is even still working. I do know that whatever this boy wants, he will manipulate her into providing. I tried to tell her that if he loved her, he wouldn’t want her to give up her home for his sake.
Yesterday she threatened sleeping in her car, with him, in order to provide him shelter, and that if we didn’t let him stay with us, then she wouldn’t come home either. I told her I wouldn’t be harassed, bullied, or manipulated. I reminded her that she could come home any time she wanted, but that where Boy is concerned, the answer is no.
She thinks she’s proving herself to him at all costs so that he’ll finally get it and never leave her again.
Love conquers all, etc.
The only time I hear from her is with an occasional text that demands we let him stay here, and promises that she’ll come home, too, if only we allow him to come with her. Our response has been firm, and her insistence increasingly more hostile. I don’t know why he has no place to go, and apparently I’m not supposed to. Which means it’s probably a pretty grave situation that now involves Youngest.
I don’t think I want to know.
What makes this mother’s heart even more filled with angst is the idea that she might really be sleeping in her car, in parts of town unknown, surrounded by evil and ill will. I have no hope that the boy will protect her. Boy is the reason for all her current troubles. And instead of encouraging her to come home and leaving her alone, he is dragging her down with him.
I talked to a gentlemen I highly admire and respect about a similar situation in his own life. He told me about a son with whom he does not speak. The son had gotten involved with a woman who pulled him into drugs, and the dad told me that it was more than he could bear to watch his son neglect his own children in favor of a drug addict and her children. To be involved with his son meant that the rest of the family, and the quality of his own life, suffered. So while he hated to do it, he felt like he had no choice but to cut the ties.
I don’t know if I’m in the same situation, or if this is the choice I will soon have to make. I hope not. I hope Youngest hasn’t gotten herself involved in something from which she will not be easily extracted. While all the signs are there that she is experiencing an obsession, I’m still not clear on whether the obsession is with the boy or with her own efforts to get us to let him stay here. I’m hoping the fixation is not with something more sinister.
She never did like being told ‘no’. It comforts me to think that this might just be a simple power struggle between two stubborn people. Youngest did inherit my unwillingness to budge.
She may have also inherited my addictive personality, which does provide some room for concern.
Right now she’s addicted to this fight, and while I’m determined to win it, dwelling in my own obsessions over it, I worry about the price of the victory. That boy will not spend one night in my home.
I might just lose my daughter in the process of proving it.
Part of me knows I already have.