Venting, but I need feedback to help grow a spine.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Acacia, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    I have been away from the site for a while because I went out of the country for some respite. I realize that I am lucky to be able to have that option.

    I have grown in so many ways, but I continue on some levels to be enmeshed with my 34-year-old difficult son. He is more like an adolescent than an adult in most areas. He has been out of prison for a year and on Suboxone. Because he has a felony for dealing drugs, employment is difficult.

    He knows how to play on my fears and heartstrings. Although I just retired, I need to be careful with my income, still I decided to cover one month’s rent for a Christmas present. He called tonight, telling me he will use the money to pay a ticket so as not to lose his license. I was not happy to hear this because I don’t believe he can afford a car, and I do not want to put any resources towards this.

    He told me I always spoil the mood, and it shouldn’t matter what the money is going towards. Then, “when you bring the money, I don’t want to visit with you.” Right before that, he asked me to bring him Thanksgiving leftovers. He kept telling me how I always ruin things because I am so tense and not understanding.

    Please, someone give me a reality check. Why do I keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting appreciation? I spent most of the day dealing with the hospital and doctors because my stepdad fell and broke both his hip and shoulder. When I said I had had and a hard day, he said, “I don’t need to hear about your problems.” A sane person would have hung up and said good riddance.

    Venting, but I need feedback to help grow a spine.
     
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  2. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    I've been there many times and could be there tomorrow, too. Some days I wish I could just draw a hard line of NO, but last night my husband pumped some gas into my daughter's car just so we wouldn't have to deal with her screaming and crying at the house.

    As far as your son is concerned... wow a month's rent is quite a gift already! And, of course it matters what it's going towards - it's YOUR money.

    It sounds to me like he's just seeing how much he can pull your strings and make you move. I swear my kid does this at times. She's induced horrid amounts of guilt on me because she is "out of food and is starving" and then I went to her apartment and I could have put together at least 5 decent meals out of what I found.

    I'm sorry he's being insensitive to you right now, especially on a day that was hard for other reasons. You have every right to say no.
     
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  3. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    Sounds so familiar. One thing i learned from others on this forum is if i want to give him something i pay it directly. For the rent i would write a check to the landlord then he can't spend it on something he shouldn't. He didn't like that and would try to say just give me cash and i said i have to put it on a card i don't have cash. I totally agree about the car i don't want to feel responsible for him hurting someone in a car. Another thing i have used to help me is to remind myself what i was doing at his age and that his younger brothers are independent. It was not your choice for him to sell drugs and that making finding a job hard is not your responsibility. Most jails have reentry programs did he take advantage of it? I once googled and found a list of places that will hire ex cons. Ultimately though it is his consequence not yours. We all cave in under certain circumstances forgive yourself and move on. Best of luck
     
  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Acacia

    I'm happy for you that you were able to get a break by leaving the country.

    I would withdraw the offer altogether. Because he has already rejected the terms. I think that would be the best course of action. You offered rent money. He said he didn't want it. That instead he wanted money to pay a ticket. That's a rejection of your terms. I would not engage in further discussion about it. Let him stew in his own juices.

    That said, I want to tell you that there's something that impresses me greatly about your son. His ability to make and to enforce boundaries and to set and enforce his terms:
    He's also very good at protecting his ego, deflecting responsibility, and diminishing you:
    From what I can tell from your post, you have not yet given the money to your son. You are very clear that the money is for one purpose, and one purpose only. To pay rent for one month. That's your position. There's no ambiguity here. Your learning is to hold these boundaries, and to not let him or anybody else break you or beat you down. Let alone insult or berate you.

    Your son does not get to hijack your wishes. This offer of money was for his rent for one month. If he chose to not accept that gift, that's on him. This was your condition. He does not get to nullify your conditions. He can only say no to the gift. He has.

    We could question why you permit him to dominate your relationship, but what would that help? We could also comment that your son is insolent, disrespectful and entitled. But that's besides the point.

    The important thing is to take back your power. You don't have to justify anything. You don't need your son to like what you do. Your only goal is to make sure that your intentions are realized and you and your interests are protected.

    I WOULD NOT GIVE YOUR SON THAT MONEY. If you decide you still wish to pay the rent, you can pay it through paypal directly to the landlord, if you can confirm that indeed a real landlord will get the money.

    All that needs to be said is this: If you would like I will pay one month's rent. I will pay the rent directly to the landlord. And no more. Let me know to whom I send the payment, and the address, if you choose, to accept this gift. And then, verify it. Anything else is not pertinent.

    I would not listen to one thing more from your son. He will insult you. He will berate you. He will try to confuse you and put you down. Because that's his MO. Your job is to not permit this, by any means possible.

    I think your learning is how to make boundaries in your head and with him so as to not permit him to override you. You know what you want. You know what your limits are. You have complete clarity. For some reason you give him permission and opportunity to verbally beat you up and dominate you. This is not good for you or for him. This is what has to stop. That's your learning. (And mine too.)

    You don't need to insult, berate, put down, demand, coerce, override, which is what he does to you. Giving yourself permission to not communicate with him once he has gone beyond the limit that you've specified, is all that needs to happen. Without justification, apology or explanation. Like everybody here says, No. Is a complete sentence.

    I am glad you came back to the forum. I think you will be able to do this very easily and quickly. The way you laid out the problem so clearly and succinctly demonstrates a great deal of insight. Which will support the people here to coach you to get a handle on this.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  5. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Completely agree with Copa. I would withdraw the offer . Just by making it difficult any joy you would have felt from giving a gift has been eliminated. He has twisted this into a power struggle.

    I am reading a good book: Emotional Blackmail . It is teaching me the dynamics of it and has a homework area to break acting from F.O.G. I will do everything the book suggests because I need to get stronger and better at standing my ground.
     
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  6. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    It is late and I did not read any responses, but this is my feedback. Take what you like and leave the rest. I am so sorry for your pain.

    First of all, it is so important in my opinion for us mothers with addicted children to keep clarity and sanity in our lives. I need outside reinforcement. Both my husband and I go to Al Anon and private therapy. These help so much as far as supporting our decisions about how to handle our adult child. I do not know how anyone in our situation can do this alone and stay consistent and clear-headed and not get guilted into slipping up. If some people can, they are stronger than us.

    Our church family is also very supportive. I strongly suggest looking at resources to help YOU. I am so glad you were able to get away. That helps so much. Distance helps. I feel it is better if we don't live close to them for our sakes and theirs. If we must, vacations are great!

    As for money, we never gave Kay any money. We knew she would not spend it the way we wanted it spent. If you want to pay your son's rent, pay it directly to the landlord. He doesn't need to handle the money. If you give him a gift, the money no longer is yours and he can spend it any way he likes. You can't force him to spend it on a specific thing. Remember....we can not control our 30 year old kids, no matter how young they act. They are legally free to do whatever they want to do with a cash gift. The only way not to help your son do something you don't want him to do is to not give cash.I would buy him groceries and bring them to him or pay for some other necessity again with you handling the cash.

    It is not safe for our addicted kids to have extra cash. Even if they are currently doing better, you never know. Your son doesn't need the temptation of $1500 in his hands for rent. He already told you he will do what he likes. Although I am aware that rudeness is part of addiction, I no longer tolerate that from my daughter. She has cut us off and we will probably not get her a Christmas gift. She will be homeless by then with no address anyway. Her child now lives with my other daughter. We usually gave her gifts that benefited our grandson. I won't help her live a useless, intoxicated and childish lifestyle anymore. I hope I don't sound like a witch. At times I feel like one.

    Going back to real life support, without both Al Anon and our therapist I think my husband and I would slip up and keep enabling our daughter, which is not good for our health or pocketbook and our daughter's motivation to grow up. Our groups and therapists have helped us more than I can explain. I am so very grateful for these resources.

    If God is in your life, lean on Him. Give your child to Him. We did that too. If God is not in your life, lean on whatever makes you strong. It's okay to lean. We all need rocks sometimes.

    I can not tell you how much my heart feels your anguish. I have so been there. I offer my prayers and gentle hugs. Together we can stay strong. May you find peace and happiness even with this horrible elephant in the room.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  7. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Acacia, welcome back. So sorry for your need to be here. I’m glad you were able to get away for respite.
    Your son still tries to establish himself as alpha, while he expects you to cater to him. These adult kids of ours play on our love for them and use it against us. “You are my mother, give me what I want, but don’t tell me what to do.”
    I agree completely. Now my quote thingee isn’t working but I also agree that by engaging with your son, he feels that he can overpower you and berate you. That’s unacceptable Acacia, it’s awful. I think I would hang up. How obnoxious and rude. For some reason, he thinks that works for him.
    I don’t think you are spineless, shell shocked, but not spineless. It’s hard when these kids try to play us. It hurts.
    I’m tired of hurting. Swallowing lumps in my throat. My Rain called and wanted to “borrow” a chainsaw for some side job. I said that I threw the old one away (true) but didn’t offer the one I bought. I would never see it again. I haven’t heard from her since then. I probably sound like a witch too, feel like one as well sometimes. My two are in a place where they don’t give a hoot about their family, myself included. I don’t want to play their game. It hurts too much. I have had the proverbial rug pulled from under me too many times.
    Whatever you decide Acacia, please know you do not deserve to be maltreated and berated by your own son. Especially when you are offering such a generous gift. Stand up for yourself dear sister. You don’t have to stoop to his level. You don’t have to listen to his insults either.
    (((Hugs)))
    Leafy
     
  8. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Hi Acacia, Welcome back, although I'm sorry you have reason to be here and I'm sorry for the disappointment your son caused when you were looking forward to gifting him with a month's rent coverage. One of the posters here was right--his response decimated any joy you had in doing that. I would just add that I completely agree with what's been said: You're not obligated to just give him the money to use any way he wishes; it is a gift and you have the right to designate how it's used. I would pay the landlord directly. If he refuses to allow you to do that, then I would withdraw it.
    Don't feel guilty about your response--we all struggle with finding the balance between compassion and protecting ourselves from abuse. Our son lives in another state but is very abusive and threatening, unless he needs something. He texted my husband Wednesday night and asked for money for food, saying he was able to pay his rent, but needed food. We were literally traveling to our other son's home and stopped at a Walmart to wire some food money, despite what we have said about sending him money. Did he use it for food? We hope so, but we just couldn't not do it. Were we wrong? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not.
    I too am so tired of hurting. I totally get what you're saying there.
     
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  9. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Acacia

    I remember back a few years ago (when things were not even as bad as they are now with sons) and my oldest son had been mentioning that he wanted a northern face winter jacket. For his birthday I bought him one. I was so excited to see the look on his face. But much to my surprise he screamed at me relentlessly telling me I should have known better that he needed the cash. I was in such shell shock and thought I was a bad person for not having given him cash. How insensitive could I be?!

    My point is they have such a way of manipulating us that we often times can’t see which way is up or down.

    I feel you should pay the rent directly. Besides he says he needs to pay a ticket? What kind of ticket is that which requires potentially a thousand dollars or more?

    Stick to what you know is right and only pay the rent directly or nothing at all.

    Much like my sons I don’t hear any voice of humility or gratitude for what you proposed to do.
     
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  10. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    I asked for feedback and that's what I got - exactly what I need to hear with honesty, compassion, wisdom, strength. Sorry to have not right away, but I was occupied with my 87 year old stepdad who had emergency surgery after breaking both his arm and his hip.

    I don't know how to quote someone else's words, so if someone could direct me to directions about doing that, that would be great.

    So many of you said things I will keep reading to give me clarity and strength. Just to make clear, his portion of the rent is $400. I am not feeling good about myself right now, but still shameful and weak. This has been going on for 20 years with my DS. Even though I enable less, I still fall down. Copa, it's painful to read the truth, and I know what you say is the truth, and I need to hear it, so I am grateful for you saying it straight. The only way I will change is to not stay in denial.

    To JayPee, Beta, New Leaf, Chickpea, Triedntrue, Busynmember, Beta, and WiseChoices your words are encouraging, understanding, and helpful. There's a saying that we make choices based on what we feel, not on what we think. I know that when I enable my son, it's because I don't want to feel the pain of him being homeless, stressed. I want him to do better, so I won't hurt emotionally. It works only momentarily, and as you can see from my original post, sometimes not even momentarily.

    I have attended twelve step for many years, but have lapsed because of my stepdad's care and other things. I will make a point of going back. I believe in a higher power, read, and meditate.

    Thank you again.
     
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  11. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Sorry to hear about your elderly step father’s health concerns. I hope he’s coming along.

    Just remember that there’s no Certificate of Achievement we receive. I think that all of us will be students trying to learn lessons and do the best we can throughout our life and especially with adult children with issues.

    Please be kind to yourself. The last thing you need it to psychologically beat yourself up on top of the other stress you deal with.

    It’s ok if we slide back. I think we all do it. The important thing is to surround yourself with the people and information you know in your gut that you can utilize to continue the course to getting better.

    We will get weak, we may fail but it shouldn’t set us back. We just keep moving forward and as we do we feel and know the right things to do.
     
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  12. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Reading this book"Emotional blackmail" , it has exercises for you to do for a week before you get into the actual strategies of how to not fall prey to emotional blackmail .

    And one of these exercises is to state every day "I can stand it". We think we cannot stand our childrens' addictions, mental health issues, homelessness but the truth is we can. Every day, I also make self affirming statements such as :
    I am strong
    I am capable
    I am courageous
    I speak up for myself
    Etc

    It has helped me. None of my children have ever been homeless, so I don't want to make it sound like you can easily change how you feel about it by repeating affirmations , and I am not trying to make anyone's feelings invalid. If anyone is helped by the above strategies, great!
     
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  13. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    I have put this book on my wish list. It sounds like a good recommendation. thank you!
     
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  14. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Acacia, it sounds like you are where I was when my Difficult Child daughter was your sons age. I eventually found out none of the money I sent her went to what I thought it did. I finally stopped the money train in 2017. I set boundaries. She knows the family will be there to support her wellness journey, but she chooses not to take that option. I live everyday wondering, waiting, but nothing positive happens. It's her choice, certainly not mine. She is now 41. She just called her sister crying and drunk. Her message was on voicemail. It sickens me. All I can say is that since I started enforcingvmy boundaries, I have more peace. I still struggle, especially now, but acceptance that I cant change it helps me.

    I agree with the responses, as usual. Wishing you well, glad you are here, and hoping you got some information you can use for you.
     
  15. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Things went from bad to worse. I planned to see my DS toda, so I drove with Thanksgiving leftovers the hour and a half to where he lives.

    I hoped to explain my position on what I am willing to help with. He shut me down even before I could get a full sentence out of my mouth. I have not seen him this agitated for a very long time. Blamed me for his having a bad weekend, his being mean to his girlfriend, started blaming me for everything, and telling me how he is going to let everyone know how bad I am. Said he cut me out of his life for three years, and did I not want to see him for the rest of his life? I said, "If this is how you are going to treat me then yes." That triggered him to a whole other level of saying what an awful person I am and to not contact him anymore, and that if I came back he would slit my tires. I left immediately.

    I don't know if he is using again although he says he is clean. I do know that he is stressed to the max. No excuse for that behavior. He yelled that spending $2,000 on him a year should be no big deal. I didn't respond.
    I don't plan to respond to any calls/texts. I feel shell-shocked and don't want this kind of behavior in my life. Went to a 12 step meeting tonight and will find more this week.

    Both my DS and daughter blame me for every bad thing in their life. I am willing to own my mistakes, but my extended family, therapist, and friends say they are so off the mark. My other adult son is incredibly kind and says he learned that growing up because he did not want to be mean like his older stepsister and stepbrother.
     
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  16. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I am so sorry your son was verbally abusive to you after you drove 1.5 hours to see him and bring him Thanksgiving leftovers which was so kind of you. I can see how shaken up you must be from that encounter.

    You know you don't owe your grown son anything. You know you did the best you could do when you raised him, and that is accusations are ploys to get what he wants. He is emotionally blackmailing you. You deserve to have loving , supportive relationships in your life. He is projecting his negative feelings onto you and using blame so he doesn't have to take a look at himself.

    This hurts so much. All you can do is take care of you, focus on you, and take your power back.
     
  17. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Acacia, how awful for you! To have taken the time and care you did, and to be treated that way. I'm sorry. I know how hurtful that is.
    As we were driving to Thanksgiving with our youngest son Wednesday night, who lives in another state, our oldest, DS, texted my husband and asked for money for food. We stopped at a Walmart and wired money. He said thank you and was nice to my husband for about three days, although he is currently ignoring me.
    But this evening, when we asked him (once again) to come home for Christmas and be with family, he immediately started ranting about how he won't see us because we refuse to help him get a car, etc., etc. It didn't take long for him to circle back around. It hurts though, even though it's not a surprise. I'm tired of hurting, so I feel for you.
     
  18. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    Oh, please don't go to his place again. His threat is dangerous. Whether he is using or not, and he probably won't tell you if he is, he is acting mean and threatening. For years we have not seen Kay other than in public places that are crowded with people. For safety reasons. Be safe.

    I am glad you have a kind son. You know then what a normal adult is like. You do not have to explain yourself or own anything to your drug addict son. He is not clear headed and will only throw anything rational that you say back in your face. You owe him nothing while he behaves like this. Your love from a distance and prayers are all you can offer him right now.

    You are clearly a loving person and your son is an adult. He is the only person responsible for his life choices. Nobody else. He blames you because it makes him feel better, but his words are untrue. Don't give his false accusations an answer. He won't listen anyway. And you don't need to respond to lies.

    This also goes for your daughter.

    Please remember than addiction is an illness that affects every aspect of the addicts life, even if he is currently not using. Addicts have personality problems and need therapy. This includes sober addicts....they are still addicts.

    Please take good care of yourself and maybe try to focus on your kind loved ones and friends, your hobbies, the things you love to do and if God is in your life lean on Him. It is okay to lean. Maybe it's time to put yourself first.

    I send you blessings and hugs.
     
  19. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Thank God for this site, and Busy and Wise thank you for the kindness and understanding offered by you and other members. Blindsided, I am sorry about your 41 year old daughter and the uncertainty and sorrow that is a result of her choices. Beta, under your profice, you mention the "grief of lost potential and dream" - how true!

    I woke up this morning at 4 and couldn't get the tape of my visit to stop playing its endless loop. Worst, was that I keep looking for what I did 'wrong' as though I must be perfect and never say or do anything to stand up for myself. This is old childhood stuff that has and still is taking a lifetime to undo. Trying to be gentle with myself, but I see starkly my own failure to love myself enough to say enough.
     
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  20. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    You did not do anything wrong . Accept that you handled it as well as you could with the tools you have today. Praise yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for how well you handled a situation that is difficult and challenging at best. Never critisize yourself. Sending love.