She's cut me off, now what?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Shamrock, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Shamrock

    Shamrock New Member

    Hi. I'm new here. It looks like most of you are well acquainted with some shared history. Good to meet you, and thank you for being here.

    I'm a 55 year old mother to a 33 year old single daughter, only child. I divorced her father when she was about 6. We had some tough years but I finally grew up and became a loving and responsible Mom, making amends the best I could for all my shortcomings. My new husband (married 15 years ago) has been very loving and supportive of her, too, and tolerant of her many years of roller coaster emotions with me. We have probably spent around $15k total helping her move, pay bills, travel home and rescue her over the years, plus continuous telephone support. She lives out of state. We're not rich. My husband's own grown daughters of the same age who also live out of state, did not get this type of support. They are married with children and making their own way in life and have good relationships with us.

    Back to my daughter. After years of her problems (always blamed on her childhood) and the guilt I carried for not being the best Mom to her, the time came when I had to tell her she was on her own financially and needed to become more independent. She had a good paying job but because it was a per diem job, she chose to work only enough to get her by. She did not build a savings account. I warned her time and again, she needed to save up money for emergencies. Whenever she came home for the holidays or funerals we bought her ticket. She always made a big deal about how she traveled so far to see everyone, and she felt other family members did not pay enough attention to her when she'd show up once a year or so... and in her telling of how she "sacrificed" to be here, she never acknowledged that it was all expense paid visits.

    Anyway, last summer she got a cavity in her tooth that was bothering her. I told her to get it fixed sooner rather than later and she always put it off. My hard working patient husband was telling me that while he had compassion and love for her, we really weren't helping her grow up to tend to her emergencies. He was starting to feel remiss for all the years we worried about my daughter while ignoring his own. So I started becoming more firm with mine, telling her we couldn't keep rescuing her.

    Here we are, several months ahead and her tooth has disintegrated and others are at risk. I told her that we cannot pay for it this time and that this is just one more example of her expecting us to pick up the pieces. I'm riddled with guilt and empathy for her situation, but remaining firm. She asks me to talk to my brother, her uncle, who is financially well off, and ask him for his help. I do ask him. He says he'll call her, and he never does. I'm guessing it's because he has watched her behavior over the years and does not want to contribute to her sense of entitlement. He is self made and worked hard at many jobs to get where he is and he wants to see her do the same. He feels she needs to learn that living on the edge has been her choice and she should experience the consequences.

    She called me last week and said for me to please call her uncle and insist that he contact her and help her. I told her no, that it was up to her to pursue it from now on and that I am embarrassed to ask my brother to help my able-bodied daughter who habitually falls into financial crisis. I wasn't going to intercede on her behalf any more.

    At that point, she cut me off... said she was done with me and the rest of us. Said she was sick of our family's "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality and that she had been working hard to get her life back on track and couldn't understand how we can't be bothered to help her when her mouth is falling apart. I explained to her that it was she who couldn't be bothered to fix the tooth before it became a big problem but she will hear none of it. She said she feels abused and dismissed by the whole family and that if we want her to be independent, then she'll be independent all right, but it will include never having anything to do with any of us. She is extremely hurtful with lots of name calling and cussing.

    So, here I am, with Christmas coming, feeling like a heel for letting my daughter suffer with her dental problems and being estranged from her, worrying about her, and also feeling incredulous that she can do this. I can't for the life of me ever dream of talking to my own Mom this way (when she was alive)... of punishing her for telling me it was time to grow up.

    I guess my question now is, would anyone else here draw the same line? I understand it's one thing to tell an adult child you're no longer going to pay their phone bill or help with their rent, but do you also tell them you're not going to help them in a medical emergency, too? That's what I'm struggling with... that she's losing her teeth, even if it is by her own poor financial planning. She always resented that I didn't pay for braces when she was younger. We didn't have dental insurance, nor a generous income in those early years and I thought her smile was lovely. When she was older and out of the house, and I started doing better financially, she told me that I owed it to her... that I should pay for her to get braces as an adult because I could afford it better. I sometimes wonder if she's hurting herself to somehow spite me. She has blamed every bad decision on her upbringing. I know people with a lot harder upbringings than she had, who are making their way in life quite well.

    Thanks for letting me type out my thoughts here. It's such a conflicting time and I welcome the insight of someone more seasoned or with a perspective I may not be seeing in my muddled state.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You are exactly right to let her figure out hoe to deal with this dental problem herself. It isn't fair to her to "rescue" her. It just pushes her back down into dependence.

    Yes, she is mad. I don't know if she will come around unless she figures out some financial gain. You owe her NOTHING.

    As a parent you did the best you could with what little you knew. When you knew more you did better. I think Maya Angelou said this and it is very much correct. I am willing to bet that you have never woken up and thought "Hmmm. How can I mess my daughter up today?"

    Yes, you were not perfect. She may not have had braces, or all the stuff that went with them, but she cllearly survived just fine. In many ways her "cutting you off" reminds me of a 4yo who screams they will not ever talk to you again - and comes to you twenty minutes later with a bug bite.

    Concentrate your attentions on your hubby and all the other children and grands that you share. She will do what she will do. Just be sure to not buckly under her pressure. It won't be a favor to either of you.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Maybe she's busy hanging out with my 26 y/o layabout daughter? She's not talking to me either. I didn't plan a big enough Christmas for her.

    I know it's really hard, but this is the best for everyone. You and your husband deserve to have your own lives back, and your daughter deserves whatever life she can carve out for herself too.
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Shamrock, I agree that you need to stand firm. You've taken the first step in establishing your boundaries with your daughter. She's escalating her behaviour in the hope that if she makes you miserable enough you'll cave in and do what she wants you to do.

    If you back down now, she won't take you seriously the next time you try to draw the line, and it will be even harder.

    Check our archives for threads on detachment. There is some really great information about not getting drawn in to our difficult children's crises, while still loving them.

    I also read a book years ago called How to Deal with Emotionally Explosive People, by Bernstein. It gave me concrete strategies about what to say and not say, do and not do, when dealing with my difficult child's rages and manipulation. You might find some helpful information in it too.

    Welcome to our little corner. You've found a good place here.

  5. linda lou

    linda lou New Member

    I can recommend a couple of books.
    1. "Stop Walking on Eggshells" is about taking your life back. It describes borderline personality disorders and how we are pulled into the lunacy. We have to take our lives back.
    2. "Codependent No More" which is about loving someone with alcoholism, but the principles apply to what we are dealing with as well. Of particular interest is the chapter on detachment. I read it tonight and it calmed me down.

    Not getting sucked in, not beating ourselves for our past mistakes, learning to live our own healthy lives ... is a process. Please STOP SUPPORTING HER. We have not done them any favors by supporting them.

    My son has cut me off as well. It is heartbreaking, I know.
    Lots of love and hugs. Let me know what you think.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.

    I agree with your husband. She is 33 years old and will never grow up or hit rock bottom and get help if you keep supporting her. What will she do when you're gone?

    I think she sounds like she may have borderline personality disorder. Here's a link. I totally agree with reading the suggested books and I'll add one. If she cuts you off, that is typical for borderline when they don't get their way. Not saying she has it for sure, the symptoms and be the judge...she is way too old for you to pay her way. If my 32 year old asked me to pay for his teeth, regardless of how bad they were (and they're bad in her case because she waited) I would just tell him to find a free clinic or save up. in my opinion by continuing to support her, you enable her. If you give into her emotional blackmail, she will just cut you off cold again, when you do something shes doesn't like. She needs a lot of help, but YOU can't give her what she needs.She needs serious therapy. (((Hugs))). Hang in there.
  7. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    another vote for "Codependant No More".

    I work with many adults who did not have the chance as kids to have braces and other dental work done. I've seen adults in the 50s finally get braces. Because they finally have a job that has benefits. I've seen others with dentures because they just couldn't afford dental care. It happens.

    You can't change the past, you can only direct the future. I"m sorry she seems stuck in the past. It's NOT your fault, but even if it is, so? At 33 she's had almost as much time as an adult to "make up" for whatever you did or didn't do for her as a child.

    As hard as it is, stick to your guns. I'm betting she'll "come back" as soon as she needs something.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    As the others said, stand firm. You are doing the right thing.

    Both me and my SO Tony have a mouth full of teeth problems. We would never dream of going to parents for help. Him because he has no parents alive but even if they were, well, it just wouldnt even cross his mind and me because, even though I am borderline, I know my father would laugh at me! Well maybe he wouldnt but it would embarrass me so badly to ask him that I wouldnt dream of it. I am old enough that I shouldnt have to ask my parents for help anymore. It is one thing for a 20 year old to ask for help, another thing for a 33 year old to ask for help.

    She can go to dental schools at major universities if she is low income and try to get help that way.
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Please do continue to stay strong no matter what she threatens. It is by being tough with her that you are being the best mom to her. She needs you to be strong and tough. She must face natural consequences and discover how to support her self.
    If she manages to get her teeth done you can be proud, she can be proud. She will know she can do it on her own. She needs to know that.

    Let her threaten not speaking to you anymore. She may keep it up for a bit. She will be back. It has happened a hundred times on this site.
  10. ML

    ML Guest

    I don't have anything to add except I agree with what everyone has said. I know it's hard and I would just encourage you to forgive yourself for not being perfect. Maybe if you can't stop blaming yourself, she will too. I'm sorry for your pain. I'm very glad you found us too. Love, ML
  11. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Dental care IS expensive and even if you have dental ins, it doesn't cover much if you need any kind of work done.

    But, dental schools are an option. If she's Medicaid eligible, Medicaid covers dental costs.

    I have VA and Medicare and I have to pay for my own dental work. Speaking from bitter experience,m dental problems don't go away on their own; they get worse.

    You have NO obligation to pay for your daughter's dental work. If the tooth needs to be extracted, that is less than 200 dollars in most areas. If infection has spread to other teeth and the jawbone, treating it can get very expensive.

    I am dealing with this right now. I've got a treatment plan worked out with my dentist where we do so much work per month and I pay for that work as I go.

    If she has decent credit, there are even specialty finance companies that will finance dental work while charging little to no interest.
  12. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    I know that my own mother harbors a lot of guilt about the childhood that my siblings and I endured. None of us were ever taken to the dentist, not once.
    When I was eight and my top front tooth began to grow behind its corresponding baby tooth, my Dad's answer was to yank out my baby tooth with a pair of plyers. I was terrified and it hurt!

    At what point do you allow her to be a grown up? I would say now is a very good time. I highly doubt she is going to cut you off; it is most likely a manipulation tactic with your guilt used as the weapon.

    Okay, so you weren't a great Mom in her younger years, you acknowledge that. However, you are not obligated to fix things for her. If you truly WANTED to help her simply because YOU wanted to, that is another matter. I know that my Mom has had to silently suffer when one of us kids made a bad choice in the past. She wanted to jump in and rescue us, but knew that as a parent it was not in our best interest. We had to learn to stand on our own and she saw us in some supremely awful predicaments.

    The holidays seem to intensify the behavior and guilt.