Email from difficult child-- do I (how) respond?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by BackintheSaddle, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    Hello all- I got an email from my difficult child (who hasn't been talking to me this week) sent me an email today that I've pasted below (in italics-- copied it directly, no hello or anything)...I need your advice on if/how to respond! the gist of our story culminated on 12/21 when he, my 19yo son, bipolar but refuses to admit it or take medications, came at me, grabbed and shooked me-- I ran outside and called 911 (this was the 4th and final time after several threats to call 911) father came and got him (no arrest) and he's been living in that toxic house ever parents turned on me (never exactly been in my corner anyway) and said I was wrong to call 911, I should let my son back in the house, I provoked him (I asked him to come do some chores outside in a tone of voice he didn't like)...he's been living over there and still expecting me to pay for's taken me awhile but I'm slowly cutting him off...about a week ago, I let him know I'm no longer paying for his truck insurance (he's working, going to community college and I paid for his books-- and if he gets a 3.0-- which he never has before-- I had agreed to pay him the tuition back)...he caused quite a stir by going to my father to ask him to pay for it (the kid has $2000 in savings-- he can pay his insurance) father then sent me a long email on Wednesday, asking what "my intentions are with regard to paying for difficult child's school"...he also put a lot more in that email, has let me know I'm not in his will anymore because of all this, said things about how all of this is my fault (I've been in therapy all my life to get away from them-- he's a dry drunk, my mom is where my difficult child gets his crazy genes from) mother sent me a screaming email (all caps, exclamations) yesterday to tell me to leave them alone, let difficult child be (I wasn't doing anything)...then today, I get this private email from difficult child to me...(I have not told husband yet because I want to think it thru some before hearing him be angry about it)...

    when I first read it, I was impressed by how carefully he says things, somewhat insightful of how I might feel, but basically asking me to apologize for everything I've said and done. Yes, he did 'apologize' for attacking me the following day but it was 'I'm sorry but you provoked me' remorse's enlightening to read because of how he shares his perspective-- is that last paragraph patronizing to you?...then I've read it several times now and don't know how to take it...or how to feel...I responded when I got it (using advice from a thread) to thank him for the message, it was good to hear from him...and that I needed time to think about it before responding but I appreciated him reaching out to me...what do you think?

    I would just like to say, I did say thank you for the books you bought. I made a point in doing so. And I hate the fact that you and dad keep saying "I just need to accept responsibility for my actions." I did. I did for all of them. I apologized exclusively in front of many people crying many times. And many times before and after that. I've accepted I'm no longer welcome at my used to be home. I've accepted that the both of you don't feel the need or want to support me as much or not at all anymore. I've accepted I'm probably not going to have a strong relationship ever with my parents for the rest of my life. All of it is unfortunate, but I accept it. I'm sorry but I really just don't believe that you, mom, have accepted the responsibility of your actions. As well as dad. Like for instance, kicking me out of the house, yes, you have given me a fair warning and I may have deserved it in y'alls eyes, but it hurts a lot more than me grabbing your arms. I promise. And the only sorry I have heard come out of your mouth is "I'm sorry you put yourself in this situation." You've got to realize mom, everybody's not out to get you. I'm not out to get you. I promise you my life and everything I stand for that none of us are out to get you. We just all want peace. Just the same as I'm sure you do. So we all have a common goal, why not work WITH each other, instead of AGAINST each other to obtain it? And I really am trying my best to say this in the most non-offensive way as possible so hopefully you'll listen and not think I'm trying to insult your person, but instead I am reaching at to you as your son. And I will say sorry ahead of time in case anything I have said or am going to say is hurtful, but just know that is not my intention. I think, that one of the next steps that need to be taken is for you to open your mind to every one else's situation and just try to write a letter of apology to everybody. And cover everything that you may or may not have caused. It might not be the most painless thing. But try and be the bigger person. Prove that you are the bigger person. The bigger person doesn't contribute to the argument, but instead finds a means to an end, even if they're not happy with it. Right now based on your emails and texts. It sounds like you feel like you've been painted in the corner. Which it is very possible that I am wrong saying this, so please correct me if so. But if you do feel like that, for one it is understandable, and for two know that nobody is out trying to get you or trying to blame everything on you. I promise you that much. But right now, I really think that everybody on this end just thinks you're incapable of seeing blame on yourself. And I am sorry that is that way, I don't mean that offensively, I truly don't. But why not prove everybody wrong? Or a better question, what would even be the harm in proving us wrong? The only thing that it'd prove is that you are right and we are wrong about you being able to apologize and see the blame in yourself. I know, personally, for me, it would mean the world and give me some sort of glimmer of hope if you could do so. So even if you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for me. I may not deserve it, but I would very much appreciate it. So please just think about what I have said. It would mean a lot.
    On the other subject, why don't we talk about what everyone else has done to offend you. Or to hurt you. Maybe this will help you get out some of your emotions, and anger that you have and possibly even help you do the first favor that I have requested. I am happy to hear it, I just would appreciate it if you would try and communicate it as nice as possibly. And I would also like to give you my input on whatever you have to say if that's alright? So maybe, you can understand better both sides of the story? I would like for you to just let me know what I have done since the 21st and how it offended you. I would also like for you to let me know of what anybody else has done to offend you so I may be enlightened about that as well. I think the key in any kind of problem is 1 gathering as much intel as you can from everybody that you can and begin to devise a solution to the problem based off of the intel. This includes getting to know all sides of the stories and understanding them and even why a person did what they did. And when you understand that, it is much easier not to carry grudges and instead carry understanding and concern with everything that you say. And as long as these emails, just between you and me stay civil, there is a greater possibility that we may fix this strain in our relationship.
    Please give all of this some consideration. I would very much appreciate it. These conversations can just be between me and you if you'd like.
    I love you
    [difficult child]
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My first take on it is that it is a well constructed accusation. I do not know your son nor do I know his way of manipulating nor his way of being honest, but from an outsiders view it sounds arrogant, condescending and blatantly judgmental and blaming of YOU. It also sounds as if he has been coached. Perhaps by your parents. They all have a vested interest in you behaving yourself so you can pay for difficult child's needs so the parents don't and difficult child doesn't. If he is serious about getting together and finding a common ground to discuss the issues, then get a good therapist and the 5 of you sit in a room with a mediator who will not get sucked in to the family dynamic. Frankly it sounds like a thoughtful manipulation.

    I have A LOT of experience with mental illness..........and one thing that I have seen is that my siblings, my dad and my daughter are all very, very smart, very high IQ's, very good at getting what they want and extremely manipulative. I have rarely been a match for the ferocity of their brilliance.

    Even though the words in your sons tome seem as if he wants a connection with you, there is some kind of underlying BS which feels off to me. I would proceed with caution because you are outnumbered with the 3 of them and from what you've said, none of them have your back.

    I think the only way I would gather together with him or any of them is with a trained professional who would mediate.

    I'm sorry, that is probably not what you wanted to hear. I could be completely off base here, so as always, go with your own instincts and take what you need from here and leave the rest.
  3. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with the post above. This reminds me greatly of my convos with my mom and my difficult child. I need to do everything to make it right while continuing to support their issues.

    Sent from my iPhone using ConductDisorders
  4. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    Thanks,'re verifying what my feelings are about it too...he is very smart, arrogant, and that one paragraph at the end just really seemed so patronizing...I hadn't thought about him being coached, but you're absolutely right...they all think there's something wrong with me and can make me doubt myself alot (hence the need for years of therapy!) but I know it's not me...not in this situation
  5. jugey

    jugey Active Member

    PASSIVE AGRESSIVE!! First thought for me.
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Your boy certainly has some gall. He is trying to sift blame and turn attention from his wrongdoings. And certainly very passive aggressive. I find it interesting that he doesn't actually name anything you did wrong or what you should apogolise. Just some abstract, more than little, patronising encouragement to think what you have done wrong and apogolise it all (has he or someone who could have had input participated to twelve steps groups by the way, isn't that one of the steps slightly twisted?) It could be interesting to know what he considers your biggest blunders as his mom. We all make mistakes in relationships and parenting and apogolising those is not a bad idea especially if it brings some comfort to the other person, but he isn't actually naming much of the deeds you could maybe apogolise for but just trying to guilt you to admit that you have done everything wrong.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When I read it I thought he was taking something out of the 12 steps and feels you need to make amends. Completely passive aggressive in my eyes. He is taking no responsibility for his part in the whole shebang. There is an undertone of "oh poor me, I will be somewhat of an orphan now". My parents dont love me. Sounds like a line he will tell the world to manipulate them.

    Now I am fairly sarcastic so I might answer him back and list some misdeeds such as using All in laundry instead of Tide. Apologize for that time you had liver even though he doesnt like it, or maybe apologize for making him eat his veggies. Then I would throw in saying your sorry for some of the good things you did for him. Such as...I am so sorry I took you to your sports games and got you pizza on the way home. Im sorry I helped you with your school work.

    You get the drift.
  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I think your parents are using difficult child to trample all over you. In their secret hearts, they are holding celebrations around the fire. Who would have thought they would ever legitimately have you back in their power this way? And they do have you in their power, and they are pulling out all the stops, and they sound like terrible people.

    A good father would be helping you understand your son and would be helping your son understand and love his mother, not threatening to disinherit you.

    A good mother would be helping the father to see that restoring her daughter's relationship with her son was the right thing for the whole family.

    Your parents have done just the opposite.

    This hurt belongs to them. The pain they knowingly cause has nothing to do with your son.
    Try to be so very careful to draw that line between who your difficult child is and how your parents are using him.

    He is no more safe with them than you ever were.

    Whether you tell us or not, can you consider the part your parents may have played in the development of this situation between you and your son? My family of origin is toxic, too. I don't know why or how, but they can reach right in and twist things into such ugliness. Please don't let them do that to the relationship between you and your child.

    Life is challenging enough, relationship is challenging enough for all of us. Toxic family of origin issues will reach through the generations to destroy us and our children.

    Your parents are behind this, somehow. Behind the emotions that resulted in the initial disrespect your son showed you, I mean.

    Toxic is toxic.

    Don't let it come between you and your son.

    Don't let them win.

    My advice, however you can do it, is to get your son away from them for his own safety. You are his mother. You and your son will never resolve this situation effectively with your parents in there holding their stupid toxicity convention.

    This is your son.

    He is reaching out to you.

    Whatever you think of the tone of the letter, if you can respond honestly, with warmth and love, but have a responsibility to him and to yourself to do that.

    This is your son.

    What would be the best possible outcome? Would it be that your son be home again and the problems between you resolved? Then go for that with all your heart. I love it that you welcomed his effort beautifully and told him you would need time to respond.

    We all want to be respected. There was respect, welcome, and love for your son in your initial response. There was respect and cherishing for yourself there, too.

    While his request is a little clumsy, a little one sided? He is reaching out to you. He loves you, and is telling you so as best he can. He is asking you to be honest. He is covering his hurt with over-intellectualization. I too see your parents' input. But who cares about them?

    Who cares about your parents. They only have the power you give them. You are all grown up now and they are irrelevant.

    They are irrelevant and they hate that.

    Be honest with your son.

    But be honest about the things that matter. Nothing to do with your parents matters. What matters is the relationship between you and your son, and that you do everything in your power to put it back together.

    If you are considering therapy?

    Go as a family. That means NOT YOUR PARENTS. You see who your parents are in the choices they are making. You need to be able to do that, BITS. You need to see them so clearly. They are toxic. I would be willing to bet they are behind this whole thing with your difficult child. Not the letter, the situation itself. Sly little comments, made to undermine the mother's authority, emotional state, whatever.

    That is how my family of origin is, too. To this day. I will make a separate post. We can talk about family of origin issues. Your parents are at the heart of this, I would bet my boots.

    Never indicate that you suspect this. Keep everything open and aboveboard between yourself, your son, and your husband. No mention of your parents to your son. No mention of your parents, at all. They are, from this second, irrelevant.

    If anyone owes anyone an apology, it is your parents. That is who I hear speaking when I read your son's email.

    Don't let them win, BITS.

    My advice is to respond to your son out of love, out of a spirit of hope that everything can be figured out and put back together.

    Part of honesty, part of loving, part of putting relationships back together is acknowledging our hurt, our anger and frustration.

    But more than anything, it is loving ourselves and our people.

    I am so happy and proud for you that your son is reaching out so beautifully. This is your opportunity to come together again as a family. Remember gratitude, remember what it is to be healthy and happy and oh, so fortunate, and try for that with all your heart.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hmmmmmm. He is gently threatening you. "Either apologize for throwing me out, although I assaulted you, or we have no chance for a relationship." I just don't see him as trying to reach out to you. I see him more as trying to manipulate you and make you feel very guilty. Of course, you can always tell him you will meet him for breakfast once a week again, but NO MONEY exchanged. That will let you know if he is sincere about your relationship or if he just wants the perks of the money back. It's not a hard test!

    I am not a big fan of writing back and forth. I like talking better. I think you get more to the truth. My answer would be, "Thank you for your thoughts. I am not sorry I made you leave after you got violent, but I appreciate your apology. If you want help, I will help you find it and then you can go yourself, since you are now an adult." Short, short, short. The less put in writing, the better.

    I would close the loophole right then and there. He isn't coming home and you aren't sorry for protecting yourself from him. One of the posters said "The gall!" I forgot who. Whoever said it, I agree.

    He is manipulating you into feeling guilty and giving him back his money, but, if you do, nothing will change.

    Your parents are irrelevant. They seem very dysfunctional. I would put them on "ignore."
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
  10. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    thanks all for replying and helping me thinking it through...I'm not planning to reply AT ALL for a while, want to really think about it...I'm off to learn restorative yoga this morning in a private lesson!!...focusing on me and husband this weekend (I hope) ---we had a date last night! and I sent him the message so he's in the loop too (and mad as hell at difficult child's arrogance!-- he sees my parent's in the response like you guys pointed out)...thanks and keep the advice coming as you have have all helped me so much in this journey
  11. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    If you want to have any kind of extended conversation with your son, use a mediator therapist in a neutral setting.

    in my opinion I would not interact with your parents at all about your son or anything else related to you/them right now. You have enough to deal with.

    What they do with or for your son is between them and has nothing to do with you.

    My son wrote me several long emails like this one some years ago. I would get really involved back with long emails. It was a big waste of time and energy and changed nothing that I can see.

    It is not what people say. It is what they do.

    We can all be sorry for mistakes we make and making amends for our wrongs is good for us and for our loved ones.

    A sincere apology just takes a very few words. It doesn't have to be convoluted and tied to a bunch of other stuff.

    Keep it simple. Keep it simple.

    The less you say and the less you do is better for everybody.

    Also continue to wait. Things have a way of moving without our involvement if we will give them a chance to do so.

    Remember: you can not control these people or what they do next. You can only control yourself and what you will say or do next.

    So take your time and be thoughtful before you speak or act.

    Sent from my iPhone using ConductDisorders
  12. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    I would send dad an email along the lines of "since you've disinherited me just put my inheritance toward his schooling if you like"

    to mom bounce back her email with the phone # for the mental health hotline (she'll get the idea)

    to son an email thanking him for taking the time to write and then (what janet said) apologize for buying crunchy instead of creamy peanut butter, and add "I apologize for not putting you in your place when you first changed from my sweet boy into a teenager who felt entitled to grab me and shake my fillings loose"

    You deserve to be safe & happy in your home, you don't deserve someone disrespecting you or putting their hands on you without an invitation. I have a disc out of place in my back if someone shook me? I'd probably be laid up in bed for a week.

  13. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    PLease ignore the emails from your parents. They are just the venting of frustrated dysfunctional folks. Leave them alone, don't escalate, don't engage.
    As for your son...I agree with the gang...very very manipulative, very nastily blaming of you, suggesting that you have all kinds of awful subterranean defects that he is gently willing to help you uncover.
    Give me a frieking break.
    After you have a chance to think it over...maybe a very simple, short reply. You can thank him for the thoughtful email. Tell him you would like to talk things over with him at some point in the future, when he has gotten his life together and you've both had time to think through this period. Then tell him you love him and sign off.

    I wouldn't engage or escalate any of the conversations.

    I'm sorry you are in the thick of it like this....I will say, though, time never hurt anything. He will need time away from your protective cloak to get better, or declare himself. You need time away from him to figure out who you are. Take your time. DOn't engage in back and forth and arguments. You are doing fine, right now, today.

  14. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    After you have a chance to think it over...maybe a very simple, short reply. You can thank him for the thoughtful email. Tell him you would like to talk things over with him at some point in the future, when he has gotten his life together and you've both had time to think through this period. Then tell him you love him and sign off.

    Read more: child-do-i-how-respond.56370/#ixzz2sIYgAHUr

    I like Echolette's thought above. Keep it at the 40,000-foot level instead of responding to each thing/anything that he said specifically.

    I hope you are able to start seeing the benefit of detaching a little bit. Once you are able to see some good healthy space between you and your son, and some time goes by, you will experience more and more peace, calm and serenity, regardless of what he is doing.

    Just keep moving forward, even if it's inch by inch.

    Take to you today.
  15. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    Hello Everyone-- thought it was time to give you an update...your responses have helped so much so keep them coming...I've been doing a lot to take care of myself -- reading, yoga, taking time for myself...and it's really making a difference...I read and reread that message from difficult child and it really is a great illustration of what a mean brat he's grown into...he never takes responsibility for his own actions and then turns around the story of what happened so that his version sometimes doesn't even make sense but he states it as though there's no doubt his truth is THE truth...

    after the initial flurry of emails with my parents early last week, I and my husband set up our emails so that they are blocked!...that felt good...I even changed my main email so that the one I'm using all the time (and attached now to this web-site) is one they don't have...they have disinherited me twice now...after 3 years of not speaking for the 1st time, I tried to let the past go (and was put back in the will-- yippee) but now they are just so toxic and horrid, just mean people, that I hereby disinherit them!...;-)...I love the response that suggested that I tell my Dad (if I ever talk to him again) to use my inheritance to pay for difficult child's college...and I also really hadn't wanted to believe it but think it's quite likely that they have been slowly turning difficult child against me...the main thing in the last 2-3 years (since we tried to mend fences with them) that bugs my husband is how much our difficult child has begun to act like my father (yells at people, tells them what to do/controlling, manipulates when doesn't get his way, is always right, never ever ever apologizes)...and husband is was probably better to not have them in our lives and never allow them back in but I knew it broke difficult child's heart when they cut him off with me and I wanted to allow him to have that back in his father has always adored difficult child, difficult child can do no wrong...maybe that's all he needs now (plus, my dad is wealthy so difficult child will be set for life)

    So, I responded finally to difficult child today...short, telling him thanks for the message, that I'd thought about it alot and really believe that we need to have a mediator present to talk about what happened and begin to mend our relationship (lots of what you all advised)...I didn't offer to have breakfast yet because I wasn't sure I want to see him depended on his response...the first response was this (and yes, he did ask us to see a/his therapist before the big event but we had already decided we weren't going back to her-- she was great when he was little, but let him walk all over us and her during sessions nin the past year)...

    See all of what you said just sounds hypocritical to me. You said the guy specializes in family therapy. And therapy is general is about having a mediator. And I BEGGED and PLEADED with y'all for AT LEAST a month to go see one. But all I got was yelled at and told no. Then when I say I don't want to go, and I have legitimate reasons for it. I get a nasty email saying I have to save up to start paying for insurance and how I don't care about our relationship. It's not right. And it's not fair. I would like at least an apology. If not helping me out to afford stuff so I can put myself through school successfully and have time to meet you and go to the therapist. If neither, whatever. I just don't see why I'm trying to fix this relationship if that's the case.

    we emailed a bit more back and forth but ended basically like above....he's just going to let me know when he can make time for me...AND he said enough to make it clear that his interest in having breakfast was for the money...he felt like I had decided to stop paying for his insurance BECAUSE he refused to go to therapy but I clarified that no, that was directly related to how he'd been treating me, that he attacked me, verbally abused me, and so on and that I'd been thinking about it all along and had just decided...they had nothing to do with each other...but boy, that makes me feel like I'm nothing to him...

    Today, in many ways, confirmed that I need to keep working to detach and his emails back and forth feels like it helped me to let go, maybe just a little bit...I love the little boy he once was but it's really hard to even like this young man and he's just not willing/ready to change...I guess it will take more than separating from us for him to realize it's him that needs to do the bulk of changing...
  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, I would hold out for the mediator and perhaps give it some time..............a break from all the drama and continuing emails. Often our kids can do the constant manipulating and negotiating and acting like a prosecuting attorney and I don't know about you, but I can't do that for long, it completely wears me out.

    If your parents are wealthy and your dad worships difficult child, then difficult child's college and future are pretty much assured, so why worry? Allow them to live in the dysfunction together and you step out. They are using you as the scapegoat for their toxicity so if you exit out of it, they will need to find someone else to blame, usually it will be one of the three of them...............if your difficult child is acting like your Dad, then he will treat you the way they have.............and you're right, they have probably shared all of their opinions of you with him to convince him of their "rightness."

    My detachment from my difficult child was actually quite linear, going from not responding to the relentless not responding to the relentless phone calls, to not responding at all. We do that as we get comfortable with the process and work through our guilt, resentment, anger, sorrow, dreams for them, fear for them and when we really see how they manipulate us and how they offer us very little except their negative opinions of us.

    It hurts to realize that when we stop giving so much to them, in many cases, our value to them diminishes rapidly. I rarely see or hear from my daughter anymore, which is sad to me when I put any thought in to it, when I stopped enabling her, she pretty much stopped contacting me. That was at times hard to take and hurt me.........but as I progressed through, I realized it's another thing I cannot control nor can I change that..........sad as it is, it is what it is. I am powerless to shift that.

    I know this is hard BITS, but stay the course, you are doing a good job negotiating this landscape.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Our difficult children do make us feel insignificant to them. You know what? WE ARE. It's not personal. They are usually me-centric and NOBODY is important to them unless they are getting money from the person. And if the money is ever cut off between your son and his grandparents, they will be NOTHING to him too. He will pout and disappear on them as easily as you. Right now, they are the ones giving him money, so they matter. You don't.

    I'm a little "iffy" on the mediator as I have found psychologists to be ridiculously and almost laughably liberal, even when it comes to our totally grown kids. Some truly think we owe them our lives for giving birth to them. So be careful who you choose to do this. Your son needs to hear, from a professional, non-emotionally-involved person, that he is too old to be expecting Mom and Dad to fund him and that attacking you was a plan old one-way wrong. There is no "they provoked me." Does that mean your son can rape a young woman who is dressed provocatively because "she provoked me?" He really has to learn that he has the option of walking away and that if he does not the responsibility is his and his alone.

    If the grands are rich and willing to pay for his stuff, which he will probably not use the way they want him to, you have no control over that and it has nothing to do with you.

    You parents sound like two pieces of work. Good for you for blocking their e-mails. Our DNA members in my opinion need to respect us to be in our lives otherwise they become toxic and are no more a part of our loving support system than a stranger. My family to me are those who care about me and respect me, not who I am linked to genetically. In fact, my three most precious, loving children are all adopted and I'd easily walk through fire for every single one. DNA doesn't mean squat if your DNAers treat you like garbage.

    We are here for you. You've come so far already.

    Big huggles :)
  18. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Oh, yes, the prosecuting attorney-without-a-law-degree talk. Oh, yes.

    It is exhausting and one of the key attributes of a difficult child. My son is an expert at it. He just talks me to tired, and then I am speechless and he wins. My ex-husband (now a recovering alcoholic) used to do the same thing.

    There is an Al-Anon brochure called "The Merry Go Round of Denial." When I first saw that piece of literature I knew I was at the right place. I used to be completely bewildered and broken by our roundabout conversations. They were totally insane. I could never talk about any kind of problem, be it the car is making a funny noise, the dryer won't work, can we paint the bathroom. Toward the last few years of our marriage, I simply paid to have work done around the house and didn't even mention anything to my husband. I kept any conversations to the most superficial levels---we were virtual polite strangers.

    He could handle NO stress at all as his disease progressed and anything outside of going to work and putting on a mask outside our home to the rest of the world was stressful to him. I got to the point I would completely physically tense up when he walked in the door. My stomach would roll. I could barely stand to be in the same room with him. My body could not do, any more, what my mind had told my entire self I had to do for the sake of the family: Stay.

    My son does the same thing if you cross him, or engage in any type of real discussion with him about anything significant.

    It is a dance that just goes in circles and goes nowhere. Pretty soon, you are dizzy from the twirling around and you can't even remember how the conversation started.

    This characteristic is one of the ones I most detest. There is no relationship with this kind of battering, insulting, circular conversation. At some point you just have to stop. There is no reason, no logic, no way to keep to the topic and get anywhere.

    It is so comforting to realize this is part of the disease.
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  19. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Childofmine, your post is's not only with alcoholics, my Dad could do that and would do that at any given was like listening to a long, ugly diatribe at every dinner of my young life. My daughter would wear me out with head would be spinning and my eyes rolling back in my head and I would say, "OK, OK, whatever" when she was a I look at that as abuse. My Dad, my daughter and others use that verbal, blaming, scary, intellectual toxic dumping as another form of manipulation and to bolster their belief in their superiority over others, when in reality all it is is another fear tactic to keep those around them in line and doing what they want. It took me a long time to see that since I grew up with the same kind of insanity. Now my radar is acute for that and I don't enter in to any of those kind of circular, destructive tirades.
  20. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    One of my friends in Al-Anon says this when the conversation starts going in a bad way:

    Can we pause? I would like to have this conversation later.

    I have this on one of my talking points sheets for use with my difficult child. I haven't tried it yet but he says it stops the talk in its tracks. If it doesn't, you just repeat it.

    It's respectful, it's kind, it's benign and it's firm. And it does the all-important thing: buy time.

    I'm going to have this at the ready and I'll let you all know how it goes once I use it.