After months of silence, email from difficult child's girlfriend arrives today

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SeekingStrength, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    It is a fairly long email, saying gfg33 is ashamed and misses his parents, wants to reach out to us, but is afraid of rejection and judgement. Says he moved back to this state in April and is with her, working full time at a motel front desk and going to school this fall to study to be a paralegal.

    Mostly nice, but a bit judging here and there. husband and I are speechless. Our suspicion is that he wants to ask for money or co-sign for a loan or something.... If past behavior is the best indicator of future performance.....(For those of you who do not know the story, last we heard from gfg33, he was incredibly hateful to us because we would not put him up in a hotel for a few months (after girlfriend moved out-of-state because he was not working and spent his days smoking spice).
    I'll post just a few snippets below so you might pick up on the timbre:

    (Gfg33) and I are doing really well. We are stronger and happier than we’ve ever been. He has grown so much in the last 6 months, into the best version of himself.

    We are financially stable and ridiculously happy.

    The only thing missing is you. His family.

    I don’t know really what to say, and that’s why I haven’t emailed you sooner. I’ve thought about it multiple times, but stopped because I felt there was no point in saying anything, that it wasn’t my place, etc. I won’t pretend I can even begin to try to fix the problems that are going on, but I know that this silent stalemate will certainly not lead to positive results. The relationship can’t heal unless the communication is there. I guess I mainly am writing you to see if you have any desire to have (gfg33) and me in your life. If you do, maybe we can all think together of a way to repair what has been going on these last few months.

    How should we reply? I won't respond today, but maybe something along the lines of, Thank you for your email with updates. Glad to hear you are doing well. If gfg33 finds enough love in his heart for us, we feel certain he will find a way to let us know. Thanks again.

    Of course we love gfg33, and we don't want to ignore this email totally, but we are so guarded after years of turmoil. We guess it is too soon to mention there will be no $$? Reminder: we feel almost certain he has antisocial behavior disorder. husband is suspicious gfg33 is wanting help with tuition.


    Thanks so much,
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Interesting. My first response is suspicion. And, he is 33 years old, it seems odd that his girlfriend would write and not him. It sounds like a prelude to a request for 'something' I agree. If I remember correctly, she is a therapist. I would make my response very brief as you've outlined, I think your response is a good one. After all, this is after 6 months of no contact, his choice, after giving you a rash of bad behavior.

    Seems to me an apology may be in order for you to truly begin to entertain the idea of trusting anything he says. If that came forth, I would feel differently, but this third party email seems inappropriate from her, either she is a major enabler or he is behind all of it as the prerequisite to ask for something. It sounds fishy. Just my two cents.

    After so many years of bad behavior from our kids it's so difficult to trust anything they say isn't it? Trust is earned and trust will take time to rebuild.
  3. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Where are they living? Is it possible to find out if any of this is true, (the job etc), before thinking of a response? With e-mails of course anyone can be anyone too, is this actually his girlfriend contacting you? So sad that we have to be so suspicious.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Color me cynical. He still can not seem to get stable. He just moved to a new state again? And his girlfriend is writing? I would take a cautious approach. "We love and miss you. If you want to have an adult relationship with us, that is fine. That means you support yourself and don't ask us for things an adult should be doing for money for ANY reason or a place to stay. If you want to do that, OF COURSE we'd love to have a relationship with you." Cut off the money train before he approaches it. I would not, in my heart, be embracing this girlfriend. From what I know of her, she seems sneaky and manipulative, like him. I suspect he put her up to this. I wonder how he grew so much in six months. Few people do it without therapy once they are in their 30's and set in their ways.

    If he takes your absolute stance that money or living at home is out, well, then go forward with a healthy dose of cynicism in your mind. If he spazzes or goes silent again, then you have your answer. In so many ways he reminds me of my own son. That is something my son would do...get someone else to write to me because, although he is very verbally abusive when I allow it, he is also basically afraid of people. Especially when he is asking for something he knows we don't want to give. Often he will ask me to call ex for him to try to talk him into giving him some money, which I refuse to do. But he still keeps asking His only relationship with his father has been about the money he could get out of him. He wants other things from me. :)
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  5. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    I can understand the cynicism. On the other hand you are well prepared for it should he start trying to manipulate you. You would easily recognize the signals and you would also be able to easily refuse to play his games.

    in my humble opinion: I would reply to her with something along these lines.

    It is good to hear things are going well for you and difficult child. We are supportive of these positive changes and glad that difficult child is looking to move forward with his life. If difficult child is interested in a healthy relationship with us he is welcome to contact us at any time. Thank you for the update.

    I wouldn't mention the money issue because you might plant a seed with it. Lord only knows what a difficult child can do with a simple seed.
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  6. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I'm calling bs right away. The only thing that's missing is his family??? He would e-mail on his own. How much money do you think he makes at the motel, since April no less? And he is going to school in the fall?Those 2 were probably laughing as she typed all that. They're planting the seed, do you buy this? I am only this cynical because my own difficult child stil lies to us, he has no reason to do that by the way. Your 33 is trying a new tactic. Wish them well, don't engage further. Don't get personal or talk about money. Less is more, the truth will be revealed in time, either way. Don't let yourself be strung along until they drop that bombshell (which is the real reason for the e-mail in my opinion) Keep your back to the wall, use your past experience for guidance. Stay monotone, be aloof, no matter how much you don't want to . Hugs, I get it. Even if it's on the up and up, he has to prove it first.
  7. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Hugs and thanks to all of you. In large part, thanks to this forum, husband and i are so much wiser/stronger now.

    Today husband and i rented a carpet cleaner. We had a busy day. Right before it was my time to take a turn, i read the email from the girlfriend. husband said, No, no. I'll keep cleaning. YOU post to Conduct Disorders and get their input.

    We both refer to this forum as a Godsend.

    RE said, months ago, something along the lines of, If difficult child ever finds goodness and love in him, he will find a way to let you know. That comment knocked me in the head as SO TRUE......and, that has not happened. This email was from girlfriend.

    I will wait a couple days to reply, cc:ing to husband, and incorporating your great advice. Short & concise.

    husband and i realize nothing new & different has happened. Same song, different verse.

    Different tactic, as said above.

    Thanks, again!
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  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    SS you and husband are doing so well with this. The value of waiting. You are doing it and showing it to the rest of us.

    In terms of a response, here is my thought fwiw:

    Thanks for the email. We are glad things are going well for the both of you.

    That's it. One thing we talk about in alanon is: say what you mean but don't say it mean.

    Why? Because you are keeping your side of the street clean and can Look in the mirror and be proud of who you see there.

    Who knows? Maybe there is truth in what she wrote. How much truth? Who knows? Accept it at face value.

    Of course you will be glad always if/when difficult child is doing better and making progress.

    Maybe this is what progress looks and sounds like and how it is delivered.

    The response I would give would be calm, measured, cordial and indicate an openness and a gladness for the info.

    Don't invite a crisis or create one by priming the pump.

    Don't offer a preemptive strike.

    Don't raise issues.

    You got this! You are a role model for the rest of us. Clean that carpet! : )

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
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  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    both of you, good idea just to keep it short and simple without bringing up something to cause drama. What was I thinking????
  10. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    SS, I think this is a very good response, and your reactions to her email are entirely appropriate.

    This is the first thing that hit me in the head while reading your post...isn't one of the steps of any program to ask forgiveness and make amends? I'm not seeing that from him. IN fact..I'm not seeing anything from him. So...proceed with kindness, caution, and as few words as possible.

  11. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Child, I have not master the "don't say it mean". I have tried. When I use a pleasant voice, he does not take me seriously. The same goes for monotone. Most of the time my voice reflects my utter frustration with his total lack of rational thought processing.
  12. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I struggle a LOT with this as well. I don't know why it comes out with difficult child...with almost everyone else I am very good at diplomacy/kindness/not escalating/validation...all that good stuff. I am saddened and disappointed in my own inability to manage "not saying it mean" with difficult child. It happened again just yestarday.

  13. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    me too:sad-very:
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Totally agree with the others. As a side note: This girlfriend is smart. That letter is noticeably well thought out / articulate.
    Hadn't heard that saying before: "Say what you mean, but don't say it mean." Wow, that's another gooood one!
    Sometimes, when I am trying to do that with difficult child, it comes off demeaning. I'm actually boiling inside. And I'm leery of her reaction, because she can go off the deep end at times, rather quickly. So, while I'm trying to speak honestly, but calmly, it comes off strange...sort of like this weird if I'm speaking to a very young child. It is a bit eery and she recognizes it. So, I need to work on that. Better as I detach more and more. I read this book once called "Yes, Your Teen is Crazy" and the author said to speak to your out of control teen like a cop giving a ticket...using the same tone "I'm pulling you over because you were speeding. Here is your ticket." (Ta Da/Boom/No emotion there, and that's good).
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  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You are doing great in taking your time, in reserving the right to think things through, Strength. I think it's a good idea for us to remember how defenseless we were where our kids were concerned, and to give ourselves credit for the progress we have made.

    Whatever your response, I believe this is the first salvo in what is going to be a pretty intense escalation.

    Am I wrong, or was girlfriend planning to move home with her welcoming, all forgiving family the last time she wrote you? And didn't she sort of rub it in about how you should be as loving, kind, and forgiving as her people were going to be to her now that she had somehow accidentally lost her job and blown all her own money?

    Your intuition is right on, Strength. I know how impossibly hard it is to stand up to the kids and even more, to our own selves, in the beginning.

    You two are doing great.


    P.S. Each of the responses you received were good, but I think COM response was strongest.

    Least said, the better.

    I had never heard Recovering's statement about our difficult children finding goodness and love within.

    I really like that. It's beautiful.
  16. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Maybe the girlfriend is reaching out to you because she needs help with him? Maybe she is looking for a way out but feels to guilty to leave just yet and is trying to set him up the best she cans before she darts? Most likely not, but something to think about. Good luck though. Whatever you do, I wouldn't say anything negative. I absolutely love "say what you mean but don't say it mean". Damn, wish I could have thought of that a long time ago. Why can't I be that clever?
  17. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    That is one of husband's suspicions. Sounds like we have many different suspicions! Well, we doooooo.

    I sent the email, as suggested by COM, a few minutes ago. husband and i hope not to hear back anytime soon. We especially don't want an email that re-asks, Do you want us in your lives? Why have you blocked me from Facebook?, etc.

    As you have said, the truth will be known soon enough. Far better for husband and me to sit back and wait. We have nothing to gain from taking the bait, but much to lose.

    We think this is our first test with practicing detachment. The six months where we never heard from difficult child or girlfriend were easier. :distrust:
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Pas: I never use mean and rarely angry. But I do use "firm." Also "confident" even if I'm shaking inside. It's the softness that makes them think they can do whatever they want to us. If we sound confident and firm in my opinion we get the best results and they can't say we were mean to them because you can talk that way and be perfectly pleasant.
  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It was easier, Strength. But you are less vulnerable, now.

    Have you made a list of the things your son will have to have accomplished before you will consider re-engaging?

    Doing that, knowing what we would need to see before we would consider helping gave us the strength to say no to anything less.

    We need a place to stand.

    It is impossible to remain Captain or our own ships without it.