I’ve posted parts of this before, but I’m kind of wondering what to do at this point. Apologies if this looks like a long post of self-pity.
Yesterday, after church (I managed to calm a screaming 2-year-old. Yay!) Spouse and I went for a mallwalk (she’s got a sun allergy, and so mallwalking is a weekend thing for her) and we got to talking. She’s sounding...depressed...I don’t think clinically, but she’s pretty down. She was talking about how many of the things that have traditionally given her joy are now causing her dread. She’s always been very active in the Mormon church (LDS) and used to find great joy in temple attendance, etc. Now she dreads it. She says a large part of it has to do with the church’s policies toward LGBTQ people, including three of our kids, the fact that nobody else in the family is active in the church (I limit my activity to working in the nursery, and all 4 kids have departed, which I think is probably good for each of them).
A big part of it is Child (20, identifies as female, AMAB). Child dropped out of all her college classes, and was ejected from the dorms last week, so she’s at home. Apparently she wasn’t attending classes anyway, just spending all of her time in her dorm room playing video games. She has announced that she has three distinct personalities, each with its own name (they appear to operate on a one per day basis), and that for that reason her girlfriend broke up with her. She spends the entire day in her room. She insists that she wants to attend a very small school in Vermont next semester that will be foldede into a Boston-based school at the end of this school year. This means that we will be co-signing an $8,000+ loan.
On announcing her personalities, she insisted that each needed its own wardrobe, none of which matched with her present one, resulting a $200 bill for clothes that Spouse mentioned to me just yesterday.
One of the things that Child has been into his having her hair cut and colored for (what I consider to be) an exorbitant amount each month. Spouse has of course been paying for this, we paid for FFS for Child, we paid for the semester she just blew off, Spouse drives her (several hours each month) to a specialist for hair removal preparatory to SRS (which we believe will be covered by our insurance—FFS was not). So yesterday she decided to completely shave her head. Spouse can barely bring herself to look at Child.
Spouse is getting burned out. Child has decided that I am not to speak to her and she doesn’t speak to me (none of the three personalities, which Child refers to as “the collective”). I am a child abuser (there was a particular incident, that I am not proud of, when Child, then 10 or 11, referred to the dinner Spouse had made as “fucking shit,” and I lost my temper and spanked her). End of story.
Spouse has been trying to be a one-person support system for Child. I think having Child out of the house in a dorm had made a huge difference for her—I know that it made the house feel much more relaxed for me. Now she’s home until mid-January at least. $8,000 may well be worth it, but Spouse and I are both approaching retirement (I’m nearly 62, Spouse is 57). She sees money issues, support issues, and after the haircut yesterday, is practically convinced that Child is “just crazy.”
I see things a little differently. I think that Child is engaging in manipulation to avoid responsibility and to get what she wants. Who wouldn’t love spending all their time playing games and having their needs catered to? I think that she’s managed to manipulate Spouse into a truly massive guilt trip. We have two other children (No.s 1 and 2) who have transitioned gender, so it’s not that per se—while those transitions were emotionally wrenching, Spouse has been able to deal with those. But Child (who like Spouse is a youngest) is just a full-time job. And, frankly, I have trouble seeing Child as anything other than a parasite. That’s my problem, and I generally keep that opinion to myself, but I don’t want her living with us. It makes me feel uncomfortable, and it’s killing Spouse. The room that usually has a Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving is filled with the contents of Child’s dorm room, and there’s no sign of Christmas, most joyous of Spouse’s holidays, in sight.
I guess what I’m asking is whether anyone has suggestions for what I can do for Spouse to help. I suggested to her yesterday that she needed to KonMari her life a bit. She’s not going to leave the church, and I don’t think she should, but she needs time for herself to be herself. I told her that if she needed me to back off, I would.
I’m hoping our trip to Portugal in January will help, but I have this huge fear that Child will pull some kind of crisis the day before we leave.
I feel like the opening lines of Anna Karenina here. Take into account that I am unreliable narrator w/r/t Child—gods help me, I love her because she is our child, but I can barely stand her.
Friends, please help.