In response to a comment, I thought I'd reflect on how I seek to balance Daughter's needs while setting limits on her behavior. The first things is recognizing her needs. She needs to know that I am okay and love her. A couple of weeks ago she was calling when I was in the bathroom, getting ready. I didn't answer the phone, and she panicked. She called my cell, the home phone, and the church. She called Sister. When I saw the missed calls and called her back, I could hear the relief in her voice. She had been terrified, thinking something terrible had happened to me. She confessed she'd been thinking about calling 911 to get someone to check on me. She felt a little silly when I told her I'd been in the bathroom and hadn't heard the phone because the exhaust fan and radio were both on. She knew that was my morning routine, but had never considered that would be the reason I hadn't answered the phone. Some mornings I take my cell phone into the bathroom with me, that morning I didn't. She needs the reassurance of a response when she calls. Last night she called during a board meeting. There was a discussion going on, so I answered and said, "I'm in a meeting. Call me after 9:00. Love you. Bye." She never got to say a word. She called after 9:00, and she was fine. Last week she called during a Bible study. I silenced the phone, and then texted, "In Bible study. Call after 8:00." She was fine. When I am thinking ahead, I'll warn her or text her before the event to tell her when I'll be available. I have the first part of my stress test this afternoon, so this morning I told her I was busy all afternoon, and she could call this evening.
Some of her calls are attempts to hook me. I generally refuse to listen to the details and express confidence in her ability to work it out with the appropriate individual-- whether it be the House Manager (as was the case yesterday when she told me a staff member had borrowed her pants) or the staff at her program (when she complained about her schedule). After the call complaining about her program, I received a very demanding text from her. I ignored it. I'd told her what she needed to do, and I wasn't going to get into it with her. I did email her therapist, sharing the text message with her and sharing my concern that Daughter is having a difficult time dealing with all the staff changes going on at her house and her program right now. Therapist will see her today. Last night she reported the staff member had returned her pants. I praised her for dealing with it on her own with House Manager. I have often cut off her complaints and said, "I have confidence in your ability to work this out. I love you and look forward to seeing you ____. I will talk to you _____." I then hang up on her. When she called me last night after my meeting, she apologized for her attitude in the afternoon phone call and for the text. Those apologies led to the conversation about prayer, which she initiated. She was asking me where to look in the Bible for information about prayer, and said she needed to work on prayer. Was she trying to manipulate me? Possibly. I gave her some suggestions. It was a constructive conversation, though, not one in which she was trying to convince me to intervene or come rescue her.
On to her visits with me. I will not deprive her of her church. She lost the privilege of spending Saturday nights with me when she got into food on a visit, so I pick her up on Sunday mornings. Usually I take her back right after lunch. Sunday I let her stay for the nursing home service. Next month she will not be allowed to stay. July I won't be leading it, and we'll see about August. I also will not take choir away from her. Right now she is getting bussed to my home Thursday evening and picked up from my home on Friday morning. I don't want to mess with that schedule, because it makes my life much easier.
This Monday I've invited Sister Best Friend and her husband and Sister and Short Niece to come for a cookout. I haven't decided if I'll let Daughter stay Sunday or arrange for her to come on Monday. I will have to negotiate the terms of that with her. If she comes and is not cooperative, I will take her back, or, if our guests have arrived, I'll simply send her to her room. I've done it in the past, and will do it in the future.
I will never be able to stop all manipulation, abuse, and acting out. I have limited it. Sunday was unusual, because I don't usually spend time with her when she is acting that way. I should have taken her back right after the fellowship meal at the church. I was tired, though, and just wanted to get home and relax before leading the nursing home service.
She is getting better. She is dealing with more issues on her own. There have been more days when her calls are morning and evening, just to check in. Last week her Program Manager left for a new program. She was very attached to the Program Manager. The new House Manager is making a lot of changes, and they are hiring and training a number of new staff members. Those changes are very hard on her. I told her that there will always be turn over in the house staff, and she needs to learn to deal with it and be patient with new staff members as they learn. I'm not surprised that she's regressed as she adjusts to the change. Last night and this morning I heard signs that she is recovering. I'm impressed if she is actually recovering this quickly. Maybe she has listened to me about prayer....