Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Terry-overwhelmed, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

    Hi everyone,
    I am new to this site and this is my first post. I am writing because I want to know when do you stop helping your adult child? It is painful to help and more painful not to help. My son will be 40 in a few months and I have been bailing him out of situations most of his adult life. He has 4 children. One from his first relationship and 3 from his second relationship. 5 1/2 years ago, I received custody of his 3 children due to their mothers drug addiction. They were 2,4 and 5 years old at the time. Their father, my son and their mother broke up 5 years ago. The children would have been in foster care had I not taken them in. Their dad seems unable to hold down a job longer than a few months. Partly because he has back problems and has had two back operations. He does not live with us which includes his kids, his step dad, and myself. He went to jail for 2 years when I first got the children from an incident that happened while he and their mother were still a couple. Taking care of my grandchildren has put a strain on my marriage also. My husband and I are retired and had plans to enjoy our golden years. I didn’t mind taking in my grandkids with the hope that my son would get his life straightened out. He has been out of jail 3 years now and nothing has improved. He says no one is going to hire a felon. He lives with his biological father and his father is getting rid of his apartment and my son has to move out with no where to go. He will be homeless. This is killing me because he cannot move in with me. My husband says we already have 3 dependents, we do not need a 4th. I give him money for food sometimes and am drained from always worrying about him in addition to taking care of his 3 children. When he got out of jail, I helped him straightened out his drivers license, get a car and insurance. I wanted him to start with a fresh slate He does not have a car now because he didnt have money for insurance. I have rules and schedules for my grandkids. My son is more lax and tries to be their friend and not the parent. He thinks nothing of letting them stay up late and eating tons of sweets, etc when they go to his house for an occasional weekend. My husband and I are always the bad guys because we set the rules. Its not easy sometimes. The youngest was just diagnosed with ADHD and can be a handful at times. My son is always making excuses for his life. Shouldn’t he be more concerned with doing the right thing to get his kids back?. I ask him if he is doing any drugs because he always seems tired and depressed. He tells me no that he has nothing to be happy about. He says he is always in pain. He doesn’t go to the doctor because he has no medical insurance and was denied. Right now I am so stressed about this sudden turn of events. He will be homeless soon and it breaks my heart. I know this post is long but there is so much to convey. I haven’t even scratched the surface of the things I helped my son with over the years. I have two other adult children who are productive, responsible adults, thank god! They are tired of bailing out a brother who never seems to learn.
    I just want a life that is less stressful.
    Thanks for any feedback, very much appreciated. As a mother, it is hard not to want to help your child. I know because I am living this nightmare. I take one day at a time because thinking beyond that is too too stressful for me
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Dear Terry
    Many, many felons work. They have to. And they find jobs or start businesses. There is job training, and job finding assistance and there are programs specifically to assist felons return to the workforce. If your son is not working it is because he does not want to work. Many jobs do not do background checks. Your son is pulling your leg.

    If he is depressed there are all kinds of places to get treatment. He has that option.
    Everybody has been in a position where they have to move out and they have nowhere to go.

    What we do is this: we find another place. This is the nature of life. If we have a need, we take care of it. Nobody in life whether people or animals or fish or birds have mothers all of their lives who when their adult offspring has a need in life, fills it. I don't know if you believe in evolution. But how could species have evolved if they were incapable of handling a challenge in life, without their mother?

    I agree with your husband. You should not rescue your son. It is not fair to your husband, to you, to his children who he is neglecting or to him.

    Many of us here are in your situation. Even with mentally ill children. My own son when he was 23 was like your son. Depressed. He had quit his job. He would not do anything to help himself. Not medically. Not work. Not school. Nothing. Eventually I told him he had to leave my home. He couch surfed or was homeless many years. It got worse and worse.

    People in this life have to take responsibility for themselves, to do the right thing. I am not saying that we should not help them. I am saying that the nature of life is that something is required of us. Until our children are willing to accept and to learn that life involves effort and cooperation and self-responsibility, they need to deal themselves with life. They need to face the life that comes to them, if they refuse to do anything. It is not a pretty life, that's for sure. We can't shield them from the consequences of their choices. Nor should we try. That's what I think.

    Finally, my son grew tired of living a degrading and unstable life. He decided to come back home and he is living in a home I own. Since he has been back I have asked him to leave twice because he continues to smoke marijuana on my property, which I won't allow. I have relented quickly and he has come back. We are engaged in an ongoing negotiation process with my son about how we expect him to live. I won't enable him to live badly near me. It's very hard for me. Like you, I love my son very much. I don't want him to suffer. And I am sad and afraid when he is homeless and vulnerable.

    I would not be so sure that your son is not using drugs.

    There is an article on the P.E. Forum about detachment. I think you will find it helpful.

    I think letting your middle aged son to come home, and supporting him as if he is a baby, would be a huge error. I would listen to your husband.

    I am glad you are here. It is a great place for us to be. I hope I was not too direct. I don't know another way to be. Welcome. Take care.
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  3. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

  4. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

    Copabanana. Thank you for responding to my post. You were not too direct at all. I absolutely love straight forward people. I know I don’t think logically when it relates to my children because I think with my heart. I just feel so guilty for not helping my son again. I am sorry you have issues with your son as well. You have helped ease my mind a little and I thank you for that. All I can do is pray that my son finds the right way and that I can live with the choices that he does make. by the way, how old os your son now, if I may ask?
  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    He will be 31 in a month. Hard to believe.

    I think with my heart too. The thing is I have gotten softer and softer. I know it doesn't sound like it, but it is so. I cannot stand it when my son is homeless. I can't. But I feel even more strongly that I am responsible by my own choices to support him to become a good man and to be as functional as he can be. And I am in a tough spot. We don't have other family. When I die, my son will be alone. Absolutely, I need to do whatever I can do to support my son to stand on his own two feet and have better judgement. When I am no longer here. I worry about this terribly.

    My son has not worked for years and years. His lifestyle as homeless has torn him down, given him horrible habits, and degraded him. But he had to get to the point where he was willing to cooperate at least some. To not be so aggressive to me. To obey rules. To recognize that things are required of us in life. And this is why I took the stand that I did. And also because I could not tolerate being around my son. The way he treated me. And how he lived. But none of this has anything to do with love. That book, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. That pretty much sums it up for me.

    Terry. I would love it if you keep posting here. Here is a good way to grow stronger. I know I have. It's not so much getting advice. It's because we get to know each other and each other's children, and we care. And when we write to each other we come to see ourselves in a different way. We come to see ourselves as stronger. We grow.

    Anyway. Take care. You can do this.

    I feel very clear that it is NOT in your son's interest that you rescue him from this. To let him deal with this is the loving thing to do. I know it is hard. But that's what I believe. He can do it. I believe that you should support him to try. If he has a hard time there is support in the community for him. My son for a time lived in a sober living house through the Rescue Mission. For indigent people it was totally free.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
  6. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

    Wow, 31 so you have been dealing with some of the same issues for a long time such as I have. It’s not easy because I keep saying if I just help him with this he will get on the right track but he never does for long. It’s even more difficult now since I have 100 pct. custody of his 3 children and less freedom for myself. My son never once thinks about how taking care of his children has affected my life. I just don’t understand his thinking at all. Thanks for listening.
  7. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    Hi Terry- It is a very difficult road that you are on and we have been there. Starting on the road to self-care and no longer enabling your son is a positive journey, but it is difficult as well. We have all been in the position of enabling our adult children to continue to live their chaotic, irresponsible lives when we try to "help" them. The truth is if our "help" really worked they would have turned things around the first time we tried it. Nothing you do will change your son. He has to want to change himself and his life. When I first detached from my adult daughter it was very difficult for many reasons. One was that all of my energy and time was spent worrying about and trying to "fix" my daughter. When I stopped doing that there was a whole lot of time I didn't know what to do with. Also, my daughter flipped out when I actually began to set and maintain boundaries. She started behaving even worse and would not leave me alone. She called all of my phones repeatedly and when I wouldn't answer she left horrible screaming messages. It was terrible. However, day by day as I began putting my focus where it belonged- on myself!- things got better. I learned how to focus on me and be kind to myself. I found interesting things to do with myself that I really enjoyed. I learned how to be at peace no matter what the situation with my daughter was. I also learned how to love her without agreeing with everything she did. She also started interacting more positively with me over time as I set boundaries with her and learned to keep my mouth shut. If I think she's doing something insane I just don't comment. If she asks for my advice I say something positively neutral like, "You're a smart woman. You'll figure it out." Over the last few years she has improved her life and has been very successful in school, as well as maintaining employment and housing. She just had another baby, which I was not thrilled about, but things seem to be going well there also. I know it's very hard, but you need to let him walk his journey as he sees fit and focus on you. Sending peace your way.
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  8. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Hi Terry and Welcome,

    My gosh, reading your post has given me strength to stay on the path to not enabling that I was struggling with this morning after a phone call from my 30 yr. old homeless son at 8:00 am. (I have a 26 yr. old homeless son who for the moment is couch surfing). He is to put it lightly, verbally abusive towards me when I don't give him what he wants. I've done all those things like, pay security deposits, pay rent, pay for food, pay for gas, buy used cars etc. etc. always thinking that this one next thing I do was going to be the frosting on the cake. That he was going to see the light, get his life in order and become responsible. Unfortunately, this pattern he has of sporadically working and blaming the world and me and his father for his inability to function in society has been going on for ten years or more.

    He has recently said something to me that was "my bottom" so to speak. I blocked him on my cell phone but he'd still get thru with e-mails to my work. Still over the last few weeks his e-mails were horrible to say the least. He finally got a job a few weeks ago and has told me he's not getting paid until the 29th. I recently stopped gassing his vehicle up every four days and so it does pain me as the nights get chillier around here in New England but I'm trying to work through that. This morning he called my work and told me where he's working, it's a food type place and his cloths are getting all dirty. Could I wash them for him until he gets paid this week? It was not easy for me but I just told him, sorry I can't help you. He pleaded a little more and I prayed to God for strength and I made it through.

    It would be so easy for me to pick up the laundry and take care of it so he can look presentable at this job. But the reality is he will lose this job on his own accord if he doesn't show up on time and do the tasks at hand responsibly. In the past, I would have run to his rescue then when I'd get there for some small item like this, there would be other requests. These requests in and of themselves are not always extravagent but HE has to be the one to step up even with all the discomforts he's facing now because of the consequences of his actions and poor choices.

    I'm telling you it was easier detaching when I didn't speak to him for a few weeks,but I am remaining strong. I have to remember this is how he always goes about it. He's intermittently "nice" when I give him money, gas, food, wash his cloths etc. BUT the minute I don't help he is like the devil himself, threatening me physically. He has already once vandalized my 1 yr. old vehicle (this year) by keying it from anger because he thought I purposely locked the car doors so he couldn't get his clean laundry.

    By reading your post it just reminds me that if I don't stay firm I will be doing this until he's 40-50 etc. I have devoured every book I can to help me to get stronger. Try reading some books by Melody Beattie on enabling. For me connecting what God wants for me along with focusing on me was only the only way I began to heal.

    I kept thinking that taking care of myself was selfish. A lot of bad self-talk put me in that mind-set so I suppose it's going to take a while to get better. But I'm on my way.

    What I have learned, for myself, is that none of my detaching and stopping the enabling comes from willpower. Yes, there is self-determination to want to stop feeling the weight of it all on my shoulders but in my eyes, my recovery from all of this has been by God's grace.

    Keep posting. It is therapeutic. You will grow stronger but be patient with yourself and if you slip back, just don't stay there.
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  9. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    JayPee just have to say that I am constantly amazed at the growth you have experienced since coming to this forum! Wow you are giving great advice!!! So very happy for you that you are on the right track. It takes time and it is very very difficult.

    Terry I agree with Copa one million percent and the other posters. Your son has to figure this out. When he even acts like he's going to ask you for something you need to remind him that he is a GROWN man and that he has to figure this out. And don't you feel guilty for ONE second!!!

    It is very generous of you to give up your life to raise his three children. That is enough!!

    This reminds me that I do not want my son that just turned 24 today to live with us any longer than he has to!! He was our former Difficult Child but we set boundaries and got tough - it took MANY years - and now he is finally doing what he needs to do. Oh and this is all by the grace of God and his 13 month faith based program. I would never not give credit where credit is due.

    Terry stay strong and do not even think of doing any more for your son. As Eliz said, it is NOT helping when we do for our adult children what THEY can DO for themselves!
  10. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Terry, I ditto every word from Copa. My daughter is 40. You are at the right place. I have been here since April. Welcone.
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  11. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Every time we do something for someone that they could do for themselves , we strip a little bit of their dignity away from them. While wanting to help, we are diminishing their self-esteem. The message they get is "you are incapable".

    True help is to do something for someone that they cannot do for themselves. Everything else is enabling . And the person at the receiving end while seemingly grateful in the instant they get the hand out, resents us for it and disrespects us because we do not show self respect and also disrespect them by teaching helplessness rather than empowerment.

    I am guilty of it .Helped my son through school with class selections, helping to find work, cleaning his room when he would not. I recently stopped all of it, and he is stepping up now : looking for work, started therapy, trying anti depressant medications again, looking into the exams for grad school, cleaning his room once a month (when prompted : it is my house) , complying with requests for chores around the house like mowing, and participating in cleaning when asked . I no longer ask any questions about work or school. I don't let him use my vehicle but will give him a ride when he asks, I don't step into his room at all, and i stay mostly quiet in conversation since anything I say can trigger an argument .I am happy to have him home for the time being and provide food. I cook a few times a week and leave it on the stove top and family members can help themselves to it when and if they want . When he gets a job, he will pay me rent and we have already had that conversation. When he gets a job, he will also be able to buy my Father's car and have his own transportation, so that is his incentive for getting something going .

    I treat him like a roommate, mostly, with the exception that house rules are not decided together , but by me since I own the home and he does not.
  12. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    RN...Thank you for your words of encouragement! I can "feel" I've grown inside. There's an inner strength I have now and I pray to God will stay with me. I had to get past all the "stuff" my Adult Sons would say to me.'re a bad Mom for not helping, Your worthless, you should never had had kids, you should have left Dad a long time we're all damaged from him... (you get the idea). When you're already vulnerable, as I was, from living with alcoholism on overload and trying to spring back from all that comes with that insanity, it was hard to discount what they were telling me because at some deeper level I felt it was true. I was so shattered.

    I am still picking up the pieces but I want to be better and ultimately the cherry on top of the frosted cake would be that my sons some day might get better. I have realized they will never ever have a chance at getting better if I constantly rescue them from their "problems". Never!
    So I either dig my heels in now and do the "dirty" work on me and can only hope and pray they, at some point down the road, they get better themselves.

    I still am afraid inside a lot of times but I recently read something by Joyce Meyers and she said. "It's ok if your afraid, you can still do "something" while being afraid." She's right.
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  13. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

    I want to thank all you amazing women with your words of wisdom and insight. It’s such a relief to know that other people know what I am going through. Just reading your responses made me all choked up inside. I feel like someone died whenever I think about my son and his choices. I felt relieved when everyone told me that he has to do this himself. Even though it still hurts me to the core that he will be homeless, I know deep down I can’t save him and that he has to save himself. It will be very painful for me not to help him but I know I have to try. One thing thats helps me through the pain is knowing that he is aware how many sacrifices my husband and I have made raising his children and has not once thanked us for making sure all their needs are met. Really he seems more resentful, than grateful. I really try my best to give them a stable home with structure. They are in after school programs, sports, gymnastics, girl scouts, band etc. They go to 3 different schools and their homework is completed as soon as they get home. They have regular check ups and are disciplined when needed. The youngest was born addicted and has some learning disabilities. It’s not always easy because I am older I don’t have the patience I had when my children were young. I know I keep going on about my son but I still can’t wrap my head around his poor choices. I just can’t comprehend anyone who doesn’t give things 110%. I sometimes resent my two other responsible adult children who will not help their brother anymore since they see how much pain it causes me. Their response is “Mom, he is an adult, oh well”. My other children are tired of the strain he has caused on all our lives. If we go to a restaurant everyone knows we will be paying for him. Over the years, I have helped him pay his rent when he had his kids and spouse and was behind, heating bills, paid off traffic tickets, lawyer bills, sent money to jail, moving trucks, clothes, and anything else he may have fallen behind on. I just don’t have the resources anymore. He always has some story. I never know what to believe. He also is a very sweet person at times and other times an uncaring a hole, lol. If I am worried about something with the kids, he downsizes it and makes it seem like its no big deal. Ex- I don’t let them eat food in the bedrooms. He is like “what’s the big deal?” I don’t want bugs in the rooms. There is a kitchen and dining room for that. I could go on. Thank you ladies for being here so I can vent. It is really so helpful.
  14. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...


    You inspire me! You are a strong woman, who is kind and giving. Don't forget that. When our Adult children fail, we often take it as "our" failure and we carry that guilt because we all know we weren't perfect at one point or another and easily blame ourselves for their inability to thrive, no matter what age they are.

    You sound like you know how to keep boundaries with the kids not eating in their rooms, you make sure their homework is done and that they have friends and activities to be involved with. Maybe try to use that same inner feeling you use to establish those boundaries with your Adult Son. Know that it's in his best interest to take care of himself.

    Someone told me on this forum that my son(s) were like my addiction. They were right. So, with regards to that, I recently read something that said, "You can starve an addiction to death simply by not feeding it". For me, I can starve my addiction of enabling, feeding, rescuing and fixing my homeless son(s) problems by detachment. Setting boundaries, so they aren't begging me every day to do for them. The more they hear "no" (it takes time), the less they ask. The less they ask, the more time is allows my compulsive fix it behavior to get better as I get stronger and stronger and work on myself which also helps me not to think about their "discomfort and needs" 24/7. I've mentioned, I'm "afraid" a lot of the time and my stomach is anxious sometimes but we can still do something even if we are afraid.

    You mentioned that you feel like someone has died whenever you think about your son's choices. In my opinion, I think it's important we do grieve. Grieve the loss of which you always wished you had with your son. If you knew someone who physically lost a loved one, you wouldn't tell them to hold in their grief. Yours is just as real. It's ok to feel it. Allow yourself a time limit to cry but don't cry forever because you will have no recovery. It will be like opening a new wound every day.

    Sending prayers...
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  15. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    If he applies for disability he will probably have to get an attorney to get approved. Most states will deny it three times. It's a three year process.
  16. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

    Good to know, thank you
  17. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

  18. Terry-overwhelmed

    Terry-overwhelmed New Member

    It’s not just the loss of my son that I once knew that I grieve for..... It’s also my grandkids, who I love dearly, missing out on their Dad who they once knew. I really don’t know how I am going to not help him when he becomes homeless. How do I explain to my grandkids who are age 7,9 and 10 that their father can’t live with us and has to live on the streets? I really don’t think they will understand! They love him so much and are happy when they are with him. He is like a kid with them sometimes. My grandkids already feel different then the other kids because they don’t have their mother in their lives. I am getting anxiety just thinking about it. Why does it seem like so many of our children cannot manage or function in this world today? I just don’t remember this being a problem when I was growing up.
  19. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    This was hard to read and you got really good advice. These people are great and wise.

    My daughter is 33 and going nowhere fast. On the verge of homelessness. One child. I am not going to give up my golden years to raise my grndchild nor has he been taken away from his parents yet. But even if her father and I felt up to raising Jaden, and we don't, the child will only be around 10 when we are 70. We want him in a stable home, not one where he could suddenly be homeless at any time if we can't care for him. My other daughter would raise him. We are older and NEED this time and maybe we are selfish, but we did everything for Kay, gave her our entire life, and it did no good. We are done. We wont be here forever to buy her out of being homeless.

    Please don't resent your two achieving kids. Instead, enjoy them. I have two high achievers who are also done helping Kay. They encourage us daily that we are doing the right thing by detaching from Kay. We lean on them. They are good people who know that helping Kay doesn't help her at all. They suffered as we spent all their youth on their sister. And yet they are good people and still love us. I don't want them to help Kay. What is helping anyway?With Kay helping doesn't help. She just demands more and not nicely. I don't want my nice kids involved.. please don't resent your nice kids for not playing.

    Your troubled son is 40 already. He was in jail so he did some crime against society. His ex is an addict. From reading it is hard for me to believe that he doesn't abuse some substance. He had back surgery. Was he given pain killers? Opiads? Does he drink too much? Smoke pot all day? Cough syrup? ADHD medications? All this is often abused. Then they steal to have money to buy it and cant pass drug tests for jobs, if they even want to work. Many don't try to work.

    There is a reason why your son is in such a bad way. The most common reason is drugs, including legal drugs. Whatever the reason, your other kids have good lives, kids, jobs, they are not obligated to look after their 40 year old brother. He needs to turn his life around on his own. Or not. Its 100 percent on him, as it is with Kay. We spent most of our time and money on her with no difference.

    Please enjoy and love your other kids. They are doing right in my opinion by not "helping"their brother. They should not. We should not in my opinion.

    Have you seen a therapist?

    If God is in your life, as He is in mine, give your son to God. You have done all you can. i recommend Al Anon highly even if you are not sure about substance abuse. The 12 Steps help anyone dealing with a person who is beloved who won't live life normally and whom we keep trying to help. It is enabling to do anything for them that they can do themselves. It makes them more helpless.

    I am so sorry for your pain
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    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  20. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    Hi Terry-overwhelmed, You truly have your hands full and your innocent grandchildren are very lucky to have you. I have been where you are except I did not have grandchildren. My daughter kept making medical reasons as the reason she would not take wings and fly right. I was a sucker for that for many years. The waste of money I have spend on her in unbelievable. There was such an unbalanced feeling to my relationship with her, me giving 200% and her not giving anything but taking more. The more I gave the more she took. I worried about her 24/7. She made up all kinds of medical problems, YES, MADE UP. She made up problems because she knew it would effect my heart and I would keep supporting her. I was always overwhelmed with worry for her and her future. I remember clearly one day when I bought her food and clothes and she talked very abusive to me.. Something snapped in my head and my inner voice said 'Stop the abuse to you NOW' Right then and there I decided the best course of action for me was to cut her off, meaning not saying a word to her, stopping all money flowing to her, not answering the phone or door when she came over. I imagined a huge heave ho like I pushed her out of the nest and did not ask her but told her to fly. I did this for 3 months. After 3 months I noticed a much better difference and the abuse was cut by 75%. She instinctively knew I had the strength to do that and it changed her in a big way. She did not have a choice to keep sucking me dry, the bank of mom had ended. I must admit that doing this was a bit harder than burying my son but I knew that her self made madness had to end. I simply could not live with that type of abuse and Lord knows I had put up with it for many, many years. I just could not continue with what I was doing because I thought I was helping but in reality I was keeping her stuck, way stuck. She actually needed to suffer hard so she could learn how to grow up. She needed to experience deep down hardship to be able to pull up. She wallowed in hardship and I looked the other way, hardest thing I ever did but the best thing I ever did too. You have to have she balls of steel to be able to do this. I prayed deeply for God to guide me and guide me to do something that will work. My life with my daughter is by NO means easy now but better than years before. She knows that bank of mom is closed. She knows she has to be gainfully employed or else she is back to living in poverty. My daughter has many problems along with borderline/bipolar, TMJ, and other kind of weird disorders.

    I still buy her things but it is when I want to and when she has shown good behavior. I see that she is trying to balance the relationship and she buys me things here and there or sends nice emails and texts. I thought I would never get to a place where I felt there was balance. But I knew she would not change and it had to be me to make the changes. My daughter was damaging my health and I had to remember I still was a daughter to my parents, sibling to my siblings, friend to my friends and I like to volunteer for different things and all that was taken from worry over her. She was ripping me off, stealing my life and filling it with junk decisions, junk people and junk living. I pulled out and away. BEST decision ever, hardest decision ever. I pray for you. I pray for your strength and for God's sake I pray your son will take wings and grow up.
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