Paying rent is essential for her for many reasons:
- She learns an adult independent living skill (paying rent is something she'll pretty much be doing the rest of her life).
- If she has more than $2000, (including property/ assets), she LOSES her SSI, including Medicaid. Since her medications alone are almost $2K a month, that cannot be an option.
- She NEEDS something to spend her money on, besides junk food and stuff from Amazon.
What seems so obvious to most people that it doesn't even need to be said (like don't create a giant health hazard in the space we used to call your bedroom...), must be spelled out to Kitty, with uber detailed rules and restrictions. This is because Kitty lives in a black and white world, distorted though it might be by her warped perception of reality. Without clear, well-stated, consistently enforced rules (preferably written), Kitty feels that everyone is just "picking on her" and she assumes the rules are not real.
She doesn't understand how others just intuitively know and understand the rules and then make a conscious choice to follow them or not (of course, not everyone is able to make this conscious decision every time). She doesn't understand that most people realize that deciding not to follow the rules means accepting the possible consequences.
Kitty will probably never be happy about rules and expectations, especially when others tell her she "should not" have to have any. It is also very difficult for her comply (due to her issues and developmental age). We know that, but it's not a good reason to chuck the rules entirely. We just have to approach teaching her the rules very differently than other kids, and lower our expectations. She needs to know it's not OK to call me a "bi$%#" or kick holes in the wall, but I'm not going to give her the same consequences that I would for a child who is neurotypical.
Basically we're stuck between a rock and a hard place, but at least if we have clear, written rules, especially if we have her written agreement, then at least it's a little easier to justify what are really very reasonable expectations. The bible and our justice system, both have exceedingly complex rules and expectations, no one is able to comply perfectly. We don't expect her to be able to follow this agreement to the letter, but we do expect her to try.
Kitty is planning on running away to live with birth family so she doesn't have to be held accountable. She believes that living with biomom and her sisters will be just like her distorted memories of her childhood (cheesecake for breakfast, little sisters who obey her every whim, having no rules or expectations, snow and cool weather all the time...). Most importantly, like Bear, Kitty believes that she will be leaving all her troubles/ issues behind. She doesn't understand/ believe that they will go with her.
Part of me wants her to go. I don't know if she can learn from this if things go badly, but if she can, then maybe she'll realize that not only are the structure and rules we have here are a good thing for her, but maybe she'll realize we're not enforcing them just to be mean. I know that none of us wants to have to continue to live with things the way they are now.
I know that for awhile, she's right; she will be "fine." She will squash down her anxiety and her issues so no one sees them. She doesn't trust others enough to see that she's not perfect (for fear they will realize she is "bad" and "unlovable" and reject/ abandon her). Just like at school she will put all her energy into hiding her anxiety and "being good." My fear is what always happens eventually (especially with all these major life changes and added anxiety) - the stress gets to her and she snaps. The last couple of times each led to years of hospitalizations and residential treatment centers.
Now that Kitty's an adult, her dysregulation will lead to a lot different outcomes than before. She has more control now, but the consequences would be much more severe if she becomes unstable (Ex. There would be young children in the home who could be hurt or endangered. She'd have to go to ADULT treatment centers and ADULT jail. She could lose her job, place to live, credit history, endanger others around her, and/or worst of all, feel abandoned and rejected again).
We've succumbed to the pressure to give Kitty her freedoms and privileges, despite our belief that she's not ready... and every time she proves us right. Lately we've stepped back and just let her go - we've not enforcing any consequences for her actions. She's stayed out until the wee hours of the morning (missing meds, not feeding the poor dogs), purchased and eaten so much junk food I'm surprised she's not more sick than she is, not told us where she is or will be, driven and almost wrecked a car, dressed "inappropriately," broken her new iPhone... Ironically she's still mad at us for "not allowing her to be an adult" (can you say, "distorted perception of reality"?!).
Kitty treats us like dirt, but then demands we do favors for her (take her places, fill out all the massive amounts of documentation, give her stuff...). She has no clue that the only reason we tolerate the nasty, surly attitudes and behaviors (although we have set limits!) is because we love her, but not everyone will tolerate this behavior or know how to help her regulate again.
So we continue to live in this weird no man's land. Where she resents us because somehow it's our fault that she's still having to live here when she wants to go to a "better place," even though it's not us that is stopping her (is due to lack of funds to move, doctor appointments, therapist's concern that if she's triggered she won't be able to come home, no SSI yet...). She is refusing to meet any adult rules and responsibilities, yet is mad at us for the guilt she feels for not following the rules. She is still terrified and overwhelmed by the changes leaving will bring, and she's mad at us for not helping her make the transitions. I'm trying not to burn bridges with her so that she will feel that she can come home when she's ready.
I want her to go, to bring a little peace to the family (and the ability to celebrate life's joys - like Bob going to college - without having to think, how can we lessen the impact on Kitty?), but I don't want her to become unstable and need hospitalization or worse.
I wish I thought that the boarder agreement or "house rules" would solve every thing, but I know it won't. All I can hope for is that it might help a little and will tide us over until she leaves.