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"Welcome to WiseWomenUnite.com -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

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Messages - elsieshaye

Shiny, if you have any specific questions about medium chill or compassionate detachment, please ask them and we'll try our best to answer.  I can describe what they are like for me, if that would help.

Medium chill is a little different for me than compassionate detachment, in that I'll use medium chill on people who don't really matter to me when all is said and done.  Even family.  The goal of medium chill is to simply be as boring and non-reactive as possible.  It's not the silent treatment - I'm not ignoring the person - but any response I do give is as neutral and calm as possible.  Another aspect of it is that not every comment has to have a response.  Sometimes it's equally effective to let a couple of beats pass, so the person's clunker of a comment can just lie there, and then offer a change in subject.   I'm also a big fan of pretending I don't understand hints/subtext, or didn't understand that I've just been insulted:  "That dress makes you look less fat than the one you wore yesterday." gets "Thank you! ::big smile::  Oh, look at the beautiful weather.  Such a pretty sky!" Or: "Oh, my friend's DIL/MIL/cousin is so wonderful - she takes my friend out to dinner every Wednesday." gets a smile and "How lovely!"    The bottom line is that I don't have to defend myself, infer meaning, or argue back.  Poor treatment really doesn't have anything to do with me, and everything to do with the person who gave it, so why should I treat it like it's relevant by responding to it? 

Compassionate detachment to me is very similar, and is aimed at people I care about, where abandoning the relationship completely is not an option I choose to take.  The big difference for me between compassionate detachment and medium chill is that I do initiate some contact, and I do occasionally make statements like "I recognize that you're angry about that, but I won't be shouted at."  But for the most part, I again strive to be consistent, boring and nonreactive when attacked, even though I make slightly more effort to speak my piece in a calm and respectful way.  I hold the relationship loosely, and accept that it might not be what I had planned, but it is what is.   

I'm doing this with my son right now.  He has a drug problem, so in between the large stretches of silence, I'll occasionally get texts or facebook messages that could be from angry DS, or high DS, or needy DS, or sad DS - never sure which.  Some of them, I just let lie there and don't respond to.  Some, I answer the explicit question and ignore the angry subtext (the passive aggressive or mean point behind the question).  Some, I respond to honestly, or with a question.  If it gets too bad, I'll say "I don't want to have this conversation while you're being so aggressive with me.  If you can't be more civil, we need to stop now." and then if it continues I hang up or end the program.  The governing concept here is "I love him, and we both deserve respect."  The governing concept for medium chill, for me, is "not my monkey, not my circus" or "sometimes, people are just weird." 

Don't know if that helped you at all, Shiny, but putting it out there just in case.

OptingOut, I also have a tendency to spend too much time wondering "why?" when it comes to other people's behavior.  At the end of the day, though, for me personally "why" is never especially relevant or helpful.  All I can manage is my own action, and everything else can only be let go for the person who owns it to deal with, or not.  I've got two little signs on my computer:  "Not my monkey, not my circus." and "Sometimes, people are just weird."  I loved people's suggestions of using medium chill.  Another way of looking at it is compassionate detachment.

I don't have good advice about what 3 things, because I'm not sure that what I would want to write to my son is life lessons.  He's racking up his own wisdom, by making his own decisions (good, bad or otherwise), and what was meaningful and true for me may not be so for him.  I guess what I'd most like my own son to know is that I loved him, what my favorite memories of him are, and maybe some of the positive things I never quite got around to saying while I had the time.

Grab Bag / Re: He's here!
April 27, 2014, 09:12:13 am
Sorry I'm so late to this, Pooh but:

Happy New Year, Everyone!
Victoria, I'm sorry that happened, but I think you handled it in the best possible way for you.  He's in his 30s - if he is having health issues, or substance abuse issues, he needs to figure out the help he needs and go get it.   
Quote from: Pooh on January 02, 2014, 06:01:48 amI learned this the hard way in a male-female relationship.  I in no way, shape or form "need" a man to take care of me.  I have always been a very capable, independent woman who can work, take care of the house, including yard work, etc.  What I found out about myself over the years was in knowing that I didn't "need" anyone, I made the other person feel horrible.  It had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn't do it all myself, but I was telling the other person that they were not needed....therefore not wanted (in their head).

Uggghhhh, this is something I struggle with as well, Pooh.  Definitely guilty of communicating that.  I tried to be better about it with the last guy, but unfortunately he had some baggage around that too.  He wanted to be needed, but not too much!  And what exactly "too much" meant was very unclear to both of us!  Apparently, it was ok if he volunteered to do something he wanted to do for me (whether I really wanted it or not), but it was not ok for me to ask for help.  It definitely reinforced my reluctance to ask for help, because the "rules" were so murky.  And I didn't feel comfortable asking him to be more explicit about what his boundaries were.  Things to work on the next time!
This year, a friend invited me about a month in advance to stay at her place for Christmas.  Haven't spent a holiday with DS in several years, and he lives a few hundred miles away, so didn't even think twice before saying yes.  Found out through the grapevine that he was going to be visiting me over Christmas.  He hadn't actually talked to me about it at all.  Briefly debated letting him come up, only to find me not at home, but then decided that was more of a consequence than I could really live with (since it's winter, and he can't afford a hotel).  I emailed him and let him know "a little bird" told me about his plans, and how I'd be sorry to miss him because I was going to be out of town for a few days, but hoped he'd have fun with his friends and I'd hopefully see him another time.  Apparently, he was only coming up to see me, so didn't make the trip (as far as I know - entirely possible he was lying to me for effect and still came up - not my concern either way).  We had a pleasant exchange of a few emails, and then I went to have fun.  Didn't actually think of him beyond sending him a "Merry Christmas" text the day of, which he replied to.  So much better than the last couple of years!  It's so much better dealing with holidays on my own terms, and planning my own fun.  Life's too short to be dependent on other people for your happiness, KWIM?
Grab Bag / Re: Second Annual WWU Imaginary Holiday Cruise
December 28, 2013, 06:34:27 pm
Go, Luise!
Quote from: Pooh on December 10, 2013, 06:16:02 am
I think one of the biggest life's lessons I learned was that no one is responsible for my happiness but myself.

This was a huge lesson for me as well, Pooh, and I'm still learning it.  Your point about expectations is a good reminder for me as well - no matter how reasonable I think I'm being, if I let myself fall into the thinking error of believing that my preferences and beliefs are a mandate for anyone else, I damage relationships.  The trick for me is always catching myself in the act - by definition, preferences and beliefs are slippery things and try to evade examination.

Grab Bag / Re: Second Annual WWU Imaginary Holiday Cruise
December 09, 2013, 02:40:34 pm
I've booked my pet-friendly suite with the big windows and four story cat trees, so the kitties will enjoy the cruise too.  So glad they opened the cashmere-for-99-cents-per-pound yarn shop in the gift area and then sent me all those gift cards!  Can't wait to sit in my favorite deck chair sipping something frozen and yummy while crocheting, people watching and reading!
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Transitions
December 08, 2013, 05:34:04 pm
I divorced just over 15 years ago, and it took me a long time to recover.  In great part that was because my son was small when the marriage ended, and we had joint custody of him, so lots and lots of opportunities to keep tormenting and punishing me for leaving, often using our son as a weapon.  Once my son was old enough to no longer be used like that, and I was able to step away from my ex-h completely, it was much easier for me to find my feet.  But, boy, there were some very painful times, and my son did spend time taking his father's side and blaming me for the divorce.  I knew for myself that I had done what I needed to do for my own survival, and eventually I came to a place where I understood that my son's responses to it (especially as an adult) had a lot more to do with him and his needs than it had to do with me. 

I second what several people have said, that our well-being isn't paramount in our children's minds.  Not saying it should be, because I believe my emotional well-being is my responsibility and nobody else's, but it does mean that I can't look to my son to be positive or even neutral, because he is reacting to his own stuff and simply can't see me as a separate person independent of all of that.  I also noticed, in my son's case, that he was pretty caught up in identifying with his father, and acted as though he felt he needed to "stick up for" his father to me.  There wasn't a whole lot I could do about that, except just try to take care of myself and build a support network for myself that didn't include him.  I definitely sympathize with what you were saying about losing friends - same thing happened to me.  It's hard and unfair, and it hurts.

I'm sorry that you're hurting.  It sounds to me like you're doing some very good things for yourself, like counseling, and starting your own household.  Sending you lots of love and support. 
Grandchildren / Re: Another Grandbaby on the way :)
December 08, 2013, 05:15:10 pm
Woo Hoo, Pooh!!! :D  Congratulations!!!
Lauren,  I know for myself that when I focus on other people (why they're doing what they're doing, what I can do to "make" them do it differently, what their actions may "mean", etc.) that I make myself utterly miserable.  My son has estranged himself from several people in the family, including me, his father, and his aunt.  There are a number of reasons for this, including a drug problem, but the bottom line is that he's an adult and can set the parameters of his own life even if they don't include me.  I'm also an adult, and (as Luise says) I was a complete person before I had my son, and I'm still a complete person now that he's grown and flown.  Doesn't mean I always know what to do with myself, but over the past couple of years, I've really come to appreciate being able to live my life on my own terms, and not just in relation to his needs / preferences / actions. 

Some questions I found useful when I was faced with the idea of not having contact with my son:  What do you think about the idea of just stepping back from him completely for a little while and focusing on yourself and your life as a person separate from motherhood?  If you thought you might want to do that, what do you think it might look like for you?  Is there something you've always wanted to do that you thought might be too time consuming or take you away from your mom role or from being available to visit / call your son regularly?  What is it about not visiting him that fills you with such panic?  (Panic was true for me as well, and I had to really examine what it was that I thought would happen to me, and to him, if I wasn't in contact with him.)
Yay, Freespirit!  I'm so glad it went well!