I am a newbie here, and really need support right now.
This past year has been hell -- it started in late January 2014 with my daughter's suicide attempt, and since then, this past year she has been hospitalized 4 times. In the course of one year much has been revealed, but also I am also at this point questioning a lot of what she has said (or implied). Before this year, she was (or at least appeared to be) a healthy, cheerful girl with good grades, lots of friends, involved in many activities in school, well-liked and talented. I believed that she and I had a good relationship, and she also had a close and wonderful relationship with her father. I was the breadwinner, supporting them both, which meant that I was away a lot of the time, but I was usually home every evening except for the times when I had to travel (occasional weekends or long weekends and sometimes for weeks in the summer), and when I was here we seemed a happy family unit. I always prided myself that he was a great dad -- so that even though my relationship with him deteriorated over the 28 years we were together, it seemed I had chosen a good guy to be a father at least. She seemed okay overall, except that she has suffered from anxiety since she was little -- maybe since she was 5 or so. So many nights I held her while she cried but was unable or unwilling to explain what was going on and why she was upset.
In March 2013, I left my husband and our divorce was finalized this past summer -- he is a narcissist who was making me miserable with the complete lack of intimacy (it was like we were roommates rather than partners, although we managed the home and raising our daughter amicably enough) -- but there was no violence or physical abuse. He is a depressed man who cannot love another, I believe (although he seems devoted to our daughter), and I knew he would never nourish me the way an intimate partnership should be nourishing. It was an amicable breakup, and from when I left in March 2013 until March 2014 my daughter was going back and forth between our 2 homes. That seemed to be going okay -- she didn't seem to have a whole lot of trouble adjusting to the separation. She seemed mostly concerned about having to move her stuff between the 2 houses. At least that is what she talked about when I discussed the situation with her.
But this past year I have felt blindsided -- the suicide attempt, then learning she is bulimic, and a cutter. Then she accused my ex of years of sexual and physical abuse (although she told a counselor, not me). I NEVER saw any evidence of this -- if I had thought for a minute that something was going on, I would have removed both she and myself from that house. I would have been relieved to have a reason to leave -- I stayed for too long to try and hold things together, in large part because of her. DCFS investigated, but closed the case due to its being "unfounded" (i.e. not enough evidence to bring a case). Of course, my ex denies it and has said she has borderline personality disorder (the symptoms of which actually describe him as much as her). I came to believe her at one point, and told her I believe her (mostly because it explains a lot -- like her anxiety attacks, her inability to explain why she was anxious, and her acting out behavior). She refuses to see him at all, and he has not pushed the issue.
In the past three months I have learned that she was doing drugs -- smoking weed almost daily (!) but not in our house, and occasionally tripping on cough syrup -- and then most recently, shoplifting and prostituting herself. It is hard for me to believe that I didn't learn about these things sooner -- how could I have been so blind? But honestly, she put up a good facade. After the suicide attempt and a lot of chaos and drama last Spring, she SEEMED to be doing okay and seemed relatively happy, even at the beginning of this school year. And I am not an "absent" parent. I am here with her every day (I have had to cut back significantly on my work travel, since I am now a single mom). And she has been in counseling. So each revelation has been a surprise, although at this point not much can surprise me anymore. As soon as I learned about the prostitution, I called the police and they conducted a sting investigation -- now there are 3 of my daughter's "clients" on trial for soliciting prostitution, and in one case, a charge of prostitution with a minor. This was one of a few guys she brought to OUR HOUSE (!) -- and this in a year when I have had a sabbatical from work and have not been away from home more than a few hours at a time. Luckily, she was only able to prostitute herself for about 3 weeks before I found out. I know this from looking at her email, where I found her original craiglist ad (!) and hundreds of responses from potential "clients."
I also have learned that she is a pathological liar, mostly by monitoring her Facebook chats (which I started after the suicide attempt, although I am still reluctant to do this and don't do it that often). In these chats, she has been telling her close friend complete falsehoods about me -- that I hit her or abuse her, that I drink, that I encourage my boyfriend to beat her and throw her in her room (!), that I make comments about how fat she is -- none of this is true. And she has lied about all sorts of things, many of which are trivial (like whether or not she had made her lunch for the next day, or met her teacher in the morning like she was supposed to, etc), but many of which are dangerous, like the stuff about me and my boyfriend, who is a sweetheart. Because he and I got together shortly before she started having these issues, we have a policy that she and he are never alone together. He stays with us a few nights of the week, but does not live here. He is also not a US citizen, and I did not want to jeopardize his ability to stay here and finish his graduate studies -- because from the start of these troubles, it has been hard to believe her story. And especially now that I know she lies regularly. And this pathological lying throws her entire story into doubt. Right now I am really unsure what to believe, although I don't tell her that, because I have been told that in order to heal, she needs an adult caregiver who believes her.
In the past few months, we have had a lot of drama around her hospitalizations and her extreme anger at me -- for "sending her away" and for not knowing about the abuse. For about one week she was throwing SCREAMING temper tantrums, lying on the floor in a fetal position, etc. She hit me twice. I am learning how to set better boundaries, be clearer and firmer about my expectations, and have been much more cautious about her electronics usage (she just recently got a phone again after I gave the police her old one for their investigation -- but she has never and will not have a smart phone -- and I am still withholding her computer and limiting her iPod use). She has been in counseling now for more than a year, but she is still not forthcoming about very much, and goes because she has to, not because she wants to.
Right now I am not sure how to handle the lying, which seems the most problematic aspect of the situation currently, because it could jeopardize my custody of her. But also because she is saying terrible things about me and my boyfriend. She is working to pull up her grades, which have slipped significantly in the past year, and she seems to be making an honest effort. She seems to have stopped the drug use (fingers crossed, no evidence, and I have been vigilant). And in the past few weeks the drama has subsided enough that it almost feels like the situation is getting back to "normal." But I know this is a situation that will need years of work.
I try to celebrate the small victories -- like her finishing up her incomplete classes from last semester (when she was hospitalized for drug abuse and cutting and the prostitution), and the fact that the drama has subsided significantly after I learned how to set better boundaries for what I was willing to put up with. But I still feel trapped and absorbed by all of this.
I haven't yet read too much of this forum, so I look forward to hearing about how others have dealt with situations like this, and I am grateful to have found this outlet. I have good friends and a supportive family, but even so I have felt rather isolated. I would appreciate any advice. anything. Overall, I am exhausted and discouraged.