Big changes.

decisions

A lot’s been going on in my life lately.    My daughter was supposed to get married last Monday, but the money they’d been saving (about $900) got stolen, and that included the money for her to register and get tags for her new vehicle (she had enough from the insurance to get a 2007 Nissan) and pay for their marriage registration at the courthouse.

She was devastated about the loss (of both the money and the “friend” who stole it from her) but is getting over it now.   Now the date has been changed to Monday the 28th, and they are going to get their marriage registration this week.   I’m as excited as she is.

She has been living with me off and on for…well, forever.   Since she’s become clean from drugs (it’s been a couple of years now) and she’s become more responsible and is working steadily, I actually like this arrangement.    It’s more affordable sharing the expenses with another adult, and I absolutely hate the idea of having to find a roommate (who I may not like) at my age.

My daughter and I are like best friends.   Sometimes our relationship is more like that of close friends than mother and daughter.  I think that’s good.   We just really like each other and I really like her fiance too, and the three of us have a good arrangement here in this two bedroom house in the North Carolina mountains just outside Asheville.

But frankly, the Asheville area, as much as I like it, is becoming ridiculously expensive as more people from other places discover its high quality of life, its natural beauty,  the many outdoor activities available, and its vibrant arts and music scene.  Even the outlying “suburbs” are more than we can reasonably afford.  And we need to move to a bigger place, with 3 bedrooms, not just two.

And why would that be?  Well…because my daughter and her soon to be husband have been stricken with baby fever and  I have a feeling one of the reasons they don’t want to wait any longer to marry is because they want to start a family sometime very soon.  She told me by the end of 2019 they want to start trying.   A few things need to be taken care of first before she can think about getting pregnant, and we definitely want to be in a bigger place first, so the baby has room to grow and we don’t all go insane!

The plan is for the three of us to look for a place together, because frankly, at my age, I don’t want to be living alone.    I’m not sure how much longer I can work full time, and if I cut back to part time hours, which I certainly will need to do at some point, I won’t be able to support myself.  As I don’t own my own home and would have to rent,  it just makes more sense for me to live with them.  Luckily, this is also what they want.  They adore the idea of a live in “Nana” once they start their family.   I rather like that idea myself.  It’s a throwback to the age of extended families, and in these uncertain, dark times, I think extended families may eventually be making a comeback, if they aren’t already.   Our families are going to need to be there for each other more than when Social Security and old age benefits were a certainty and life was just more affordable in general.

It’s funny, because I wasn’t at all excited about becoming someone’s grandma until my daughter started talking about babies all the time.   My first reaction was one of anxiety and near dread. Babies are scary!  They have so many needs.  They’re loud and messy.  So many things can go wrong.  They need so much STUFF:  all kinds of bulky contrivances that take up space and clutter up a small house, not to mention toys and lots and lots of attention.  I also worry about children being raised in such a toxic political environment as we have right now. If it were me contemplating having a child in the age of Trump, I’m not sure I would do it. But then again, I might! For many women, if not most, the urge to reproduce can be overwhelmingly strong, no matter what kind of political environment they live in or how bad things are.

As many mothers of young adult children probably do, I also kept thinking to myself, “She’s too young; she’s not ready.”  But that’s wrong.  She definitely is.  Yes, she’s been through a lot of adversity but has come through it beautifully.  It’s so easy to keep thinking of your child as a child, even when they’re fully grown and capable of making their own decisions.  She’s an almost 26 year old woman and it’s perfectly normal for her to want a family at her age.   And  the more I think about it, the more happy the thought of being someone’s “Nana” makes me.

We’d definitely need three bedrooms and two bathrooms though, and that would be a near impossibility for us if we stayed where we are.    I’m also tired of the ice and snow of winter and want to be somewhere just a little warmer.   The job market here also isn’t the best as it’s mostly service and/or seasonal work.

We briefly considered moving to the Tampa area, because my son lives there.  I do love the idea of the entire family being in the same general area.   But it’s just not practical or very affordable.  I also don’t want to have to deal with my fear of hurricanes every single year.  Even if we lived inland, there’s the risk of tornadoes or very high winds.  So, as much as I’d love living close to the beach, we decided to nix that idea.    Florida’s also way too far from my daughter’s dad, and much as I don’t personally care about that (I don’t speak to him), he lives all alone and she worries about him.  That’s just the kind of person she is, and she wants to live close enough to be able to check up on him frequently.

We also considered just moving to a different part of North Carolina, but other cities are just as expensive as Asheville (or more so), and I don’t want to live in the boondocks either,  where houses may be cheap but would be so far away from any city and we’d all still have to deal with the ice and snow and the long driving distances to and from a job every winter.

So I began to consider the idea of starting over in South Carolina.  But not too far into South Carolina.  We still want to be near the mountains, so we can come back here whenever we want, and my daughter can still visit her father here.   Codependent or not, she worries about him and loves him, and he has no one left but her.

boilingsprings

Scene from Boiling Springs, SC

So we began to look at Boiling Springs, SC.   It’s a suburb of Spartanburg, a fairly large city with many more employment opportunities than Asheville has.   Boiling Springs is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and you can actually see the mountains to the north.  The area isn’t completely flat like most of South Carolina.  It’s hilly, but doesn’t have the steep and sometimes scary almost vertical slopes you find farther north.   There are hiking trails and other things to do, and it’s also about an hour closer to the beach (one thing I hate about living here is being so far from any coastline).

Best of all, the school district has been rated #1 in South Carolina, and for my daughter and her soon to be husband, that’s important to them.   Boiling Springs is a little more expensive than neighboring areas in South Carolina, but it’s still a lot cheaper than where we are now, and it’s near everything we’d need or want:  she’s close enough to her dad to visit frequently, we’re still less than an hour away from Asheville and its environs, and we’d be living almost in Spartanburg.

We can definitely afford to do this, but change is hard.   I’ve been living in this area since 1993 and have grown attached to it.  I also hate the idea of having to get things like my car registration changed.   Then there’s dealing with the movers.  And the expense.  And the credit checks.  And the deciding what to throw away, give away, sell, and keep.  All those things are a pain and they can be frustrating.  No doubt about it, moving is always stressful, even if you’re only moving next door!

But I think the time has come, and I think all  three of us will be happy and I think it will be a good place for my possible future “grandbaby” to grow up.   SO in a few weeks, we’re taking a short drive down to Boiling Springs to get a better idea of what living there would actually be like, and how affordable it really is.   Maybe we’ll even look at some houses and apartments.

There’s one more good reason to move. My landlord is selling this property (though I’ve been assured there’s no need to worry about moving right away), so I think it’s best we just find a new place, in a brand new environment that will be a positive one and less expensive for all of us.

My kids escaped cluster B hell.

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I’ve lived a harder life than most people.   All my life, I’ve been surrounded by Cluster B people and many of them had substance abuse issues too (alcoholism and drug addiction are closely correlated with Cluster B personality disorders).

I was raised by a somatic narcissist mother and a covert narcissist/borderline father.   Both were alcoholics.  I never knew my half-brother and sisters, who were not raised by my parents after I was born.   My grandparents all died when I was still young, but from all the accounts I’ve heard, they were also all Cluster B or codependent in a cluster B marriage   In 1986, I married a malignant narcissist/sociopath (also an alcoholic and drug addict) and was the codependent victim in that relationship until just three years ago.    Surrounded by so many cluster B people, it was almost inevitable I would develop a cluster B disorder myself (as well as severe C-PTSD) and so I did.   I almost became an alcoholic myself.   Our extended family is fragmented and shattered, with various factions scattered across almost every part of the United States.  I’m not close to any of them.   Some of them I have never met and probably never will.

Somehow, the family mental illness appears to have skipped over both my children.  My daughter, who is 23, was a difficult teenager, frequently in trouble.  For a few years she hated me and sided with her dad (she was his golden child and he frequently tried to use her as a pawn against me).  Due to her problems in school and at home, she was diagnosed with several things, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) which often becomes a cluster B disorder in adulthood.   But she never did and during the last two years, has shown she has a lot of empathy for others and is also finally making some good life choices.    My son, 25 now, never seemed much at risk; he was his father’s scapegoat and a target of bullying as a child (much like I was),  yet he seems to have escaped having even Complex PTSD. His worst problem is he’s very obsessive-compulsive and has anxiety issues (don’t we all?) Of course, they are both young,and sometimes symptoms of BPD or NPD don’t really manifest until later, but as far as I can tell, they both seem free of those disorders.   If either of them does become Cluster B,  it would break my heart because I don’t think I could bring myself to go No Contact with them.   But I don’t think that’s going to happen.

I think a lot of things led to my kids never developing cluster B disorders (or at least not seeming to), not least of which was pure luck.     I think they knew that as disordered as I was and as hobbled as I was as their mother due to my codependent nature, my love for both of them was the real thing.     Although I wasn’t protective enough when they were children; now I find I’m almost overprotective, even though they are adults.   It’s as if I’ve been trying to make things up to them.  I think educating them about NPD (they both know their father has it), narcissism in general, and other cluster B disorders,  and how they affected our family and its dynamics, have helped them to understand why their father and I acted the way we did.

My son may have escaped having these disorders because during his last year of high school (2009 and 2010), he lived for several months with the family of a friend of his, whose mother was a police officer and an excellent mother to her own sons.  This wasn’t a “foster child” situation; it was my son’s choice.   He told me he could no longer tolerate the toxic dynamics at our home and this officer’s family cared about him as if he were one of their own.   Since he was almost ready to graduate I didn’t see a problem with him staying there for awhile, though I did feel hurt and missed him a lot.   I could see that it would benefit him, even as sick as I was at that time.  I knew that this was a good family who would set a good example for my son.

My life has been difficult in almost every way one can imagine, but I feel so grateful that I have a great relationship with both my children now that they are adults.   Both of them recognize their dad as an abuser, and think I was the better parent.  My daughter liked her status as her dad’s favorite, and felt like she was required to “hate” me and now feels bad about that.  I told her not to feel guilty, because what he did to her was also a form of abuse.   As for my son, we’ve always been close.  I feel like these two young people would both be good friends of mine even if they weren’t my own children.   I love them, but I also LIKE them.   I’m so proud of them both.

22 things loving families don’t do.

dontdothis

  1. They don’t favor one child over another.
  2. They don’t give their children “mixed” or conflicting messages.
  3. They don’t teach their children that only material things or financial success have value and denigrate qualities like compassion, empathy, and love as “weaknesses.”
  4. They don’t disinherit their own children.  If an adult child is irresponsible with finances, they set up a trust or distribute it as income or through someone else who is trustworthy.  But they don’t disown.  That’s nothing but a slap in the face.
  5. They don’t reward a child and then punish them for the same thing later.
  6. They don’t threaten a child with “reform school,” being given up for adoption, etc.
  7. They don’t squelch, punish or discourage the honest expression of emotion, even if it’s negative.
  8. They don’t belittle a child’s talents or accomplishments
  9. They don’t tell their child they are “perfect,” especially for things they didn’t have to work toward (looks, intelligence, etc.)
  10. They never tell their child they are a “loser,” “will never accomplish anything,” are “hopeless,” “crazy,” “made bad life choices,” etc.
  11. They don’t listen to a child or adult child’s difficulty in some life situation and then tell them or imply that it’s all their own fault they got into that situation.
  12. They don’t tell an adult child they don’t have time to listen to their problems.
  13. They don’t judge you and tell you you brought those problems on yourself.
  14. They will always be there for you when you need them.  Even adults sometimes need the support of their families (emotional or financial) when life goes badly.  Families are forever, or they should be.
  15. They don’t blame you for not being successful in life if they never provided the emotional and financial resources for you to ever become successful.
  16. They forgive.  They don’t hold grudges.
  17. There are always second chances.
  18. They don’t badmouth you to other relatives, especially where there is no chance of you being able to defend yourself.
  19. They don’t tell you to check into a shelter or a convent when you are threatened with homelessness (that actually happened to me), ESPECIALLY when there are children involved.
  20. They don’t demean and belittle the poor in front of you, saying things like “the poor make their own choices and they deserve their poverty” when they know YOU are poor and there is no intention to give you a hand up.
  21. They don’t send commercialized, phony platitudes about positive thinking such as “inspirational” cards and memes (of the sort that appear in office cubicles) if there is no intention of trying to offer help to a child in any other way.
  22. They don’t throw or give away family mementos and pictures that may mean something to a child or can make an adult child still feel a sense of rootedness.  I have reason to believe my mother threw away all the old family photos of me and other things that meant something to me when I was young.