Feeling like a terrible mother but....


So my Difficult Child hasn't made any contact with me until last night. She called about 10pm, very happy and bubbly and wanted to tell me about her day. Apparently, she and this guy she's been staying with have been painting houses and doing small repair and remodel jobs She was very excited to have spent the day up on a ladder painting a house and hanging gutters and the guy ( I don't know what to call him) paid her half of the day's pay. She was very clear spoken and for the first time sounded sober but that doesn't really mean anything. She said how appreciative she was of him picking her up on the side of the road two weeks ago and bringing him into his family, gives her shelter, food and basically gives her a life and he didn't even really know her....how dumb does that sound?

I was glad to hear from her, I was glad to hear she's alive and she's okay BUT I am also so disgusted with the fact that she would call me, all happy and giddy with her life I could just scream.

What my H and I gave her wasn't shelter, a life, food, security, love, support, clothing, luxury items, vacations, need I list more? None of that matters...but this guy, he is simply amazing -what a wonderful human being to do all these things for her! Isn't he great? Really?

I guess I'm hateful and probably sound like a terrible mother but I cannot have some chatty, normal-type conversation with my Difficult Child that has caused so much trouble, pain, money and is wanted by the law, a drug user, etc etc.... I know it's her life, she can do what she wants and I want her to do just that but at this point, I'm not ready to have these little friendly chats - not with the person that has literally almost killed me with the years of crap she has doled out. Her complete lack of respect for anyone but herself, her inability or refusal to accept accountability for anything she has done or does do and the lack of regard for the wake of destruction behind her is baffling to me.

Maybe I'll be ready one day but as you can tell, I need some space from her and I don't know how long at this point because I'm just plain mad. I can't even 'fake' on the phone, it makes me sick and annoyed.

My question is, will my unwillingness and inability to have any kind of relationship with her be damaging in the long haul? I know it sounds like I want my cake and eat it too but the truth is, I don't like her right now and I need some real distance - not just lack of seeing her but no phone calls either which she has shown me is completely impossible but I DO want to eventually have a relationship with her after I've gotten over some of this animosity. I know time will heal and fade some of it and one day I hope we can have a relationship but it's going to take time and therapy for me to get there.


My question is, will my unwillingness and inability to have any kind of relationship with her be damaging in the long haul?

No. Do what you need to stay sane. She seems to be managing. Disconnect and disengage. When she's in need, she'd probably make contact again. One day, when she's clean and working a recovery program, you could try again.
Take care.


Well-Known Member
If you cut her off completely now, it will be up to HER whether or not any contact will ever be re-established. I've seen it go either way.
But only you can determine what you can live with and how things affect you now and in the future.


Well-Known Member
Hi WearyMom

This is my take. You are defending yourself.

Last I understood it, there were investigators searching for her....and she is LA, LA, LA, with a new guy? How could that not be crazy making? It is as if she is using you to bear all of the anguish...worry... while she pretends she is in a movie...Who could stand it?

What you feel, I think, is normal in the face of what you have gone through in this past week....Try not to think about the future past today...after all you have NO CONTROL....Let this work itself out. You do not need more to worry about now except taking care of yourself. Take heart that she is safe.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
You can only be true to yourself. You're doing that. Your response is an honest one, perhaps not what any of us would want, but it is what it is.

None of us can promise how the future will unfold, some of our grown kids find ways to blame us for their behavior and choices for decades, others move on and reconnect, still others fall somewhere in between. I can tell you that from my own experience, as I detached and put the focus on myself as I retrained my daughter to respect my boundaries and me, she did change. She changed in direct proportion to the degree that I demanded those changes. And there was a period of time where we were estranged......I think that would almost have to happen so both parties can take time to make the necessary shifts so that a new relationship can occur. It took me time to get over my anger and to begin to see my daughter in a new light and it took time for me to let go of taking all of her choices personally. There is a lot going on while you are detaching, it's like untying a huge, complex knot, pulling one string at a time and then finding the next string and the next.......until the whole thing is untied and you are both free of having lived within the confines of that tight knot.

You are not a terrible mother, you've been at this a long time, you've essentially been through a war and you likely have a form of PTSD, as most of us have after dealing with the level of intensity and drama our kids bring to our doorstep. You need time, time to rest and recuperate and time to keep those boundaries intact and time to make the necessary changes within yourself that dictate a strong internal core which can allow her struggles to NOT be your struggles. It's a tough road with a lot of mine fields ready to blow up at any time. And we all have walked through that mine field and have the scars to prove it.

It's likely your daughter will be arrested soon and will have to deal with her choices. That will be the time for you to recover. In the meantime, realize that your feeling like a terrible mother is a common response here........we're all doing the best we know how..... when we know better, we do better. That's all any of us can do.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
My question is, will my unwillingness and inability to have any kind of relationship with her be damaging in the long haul?
Weary, you have this backwards. Your daughters actions towards you and your husband clearly indicated HER unwillingness and inability to have a relationship with the two of you.
You my dear friend have done nothing but go out of your way to try and help her. It's her choices that have caused the damage in the relationship and your anger is warranted.
I think it's good to feel the anger, however do not hold on to it for too long because it can be very damaging.
I held so much anger towards my son and it started to shade my world, my attitude towards everything became dark. I didn't realize all that anger was holding me and my emotions hostage. Once I forgave my son my attitude towards life became better.
Don't confuse forgiveness with forgetting. I have not forgotten all the chaos my son inflicted upon my life but I will not allow the anger I felt towards him to have control over me.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
First, you are NOT a terrible mother. So just get that out of your head right now :)

My question is, will my unwillingness and inability to have any kind of relationship with her be damaging in the long haul?

I don't believe so. But, you will find a different kind of relationship with her, one you can live with.

I know so well that dance of crisis one day, happy go lucky the next. It IS maddening! But in a way, that dance has helped me - because I [slowly] learned not to panic when a crisis does arise. There is no point in throwing myself into a panic over something that may well be completely out of my kid's mind in 24 hours. Sometimes I have to check myself, but for the most part I've gotten pretty good at this.

Like RE, the more I kept firm boundaries in place, the more my Oldest respected those boundaries. I changed, and she changed. Her life is still in a cycle of chaos, but it's controlled chaos, for the most part - and she doesn't involve me in that cycle much any more. It's hard work though, and takes time. But it does work.

You're doing great -- just from your posts in the past few weeks, I can see real progress in your thinking about all this .. so give yourself a pat on the back for that. And a margarita or something :)

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
My question is, will my unwillingness and inability to have any kind of relationship with her be damaging in the long haul?

No. It is best to be honest about how you feel. She knows she has disappointed you. She has disappointed herself, too.

You can both love her and be upset about the way you have been treated. She knows this already, and may be putting a happier face on things for your sake. (And for her own sake, in your eyes.) That you are angry does not mean you don't love her. If you didn't care about the relationship between the two of you, you would be done, and none of this would matter.

Your honesty with her now will be a sane place for her when the time of choice comes, again. She will trust you more fully if you can find the words to speak honestly to her, now.

Figure out your own feelings, first.

You are her mother and whether you think she is listening or not, what you say matters very much.

Of course she is happier that she has somewhere to live and some money than she would be if she did not have those things. But the truth is, she should be mending her fences and preparing for her future, not conducting her affairs by the seat of her pants and calling that good enough.

None of us knows how to do this "right". The only thing we can do is try really hard to advise our kids correctly about the things that matter. If you believe drug use is at the heart of this, stress the seriousness of her situation and offer treatment. Offer consolation for what has happened, for what she has lost since the drug use began. Tell her you know she is strong enough to turn this around, but that it is going to be hard for her. Tell her you are not going to sugar coat anything by pretending what is happening to her now is okay.

I think that is the source of your anger.

Are you feeling that you have to take the tone of the conversation from her, pretending to go along with her bright and happy when you know she is in danger?

Then that is what you have to figure out some way to tell her. Choose your words carefully. Remember the outcome we want here is a strong, unbroken child able to walk away from this thing that is getting its hooks into her.

Addiction is insidious.

Maybe I'll be ready one day but as you can tell, I need some space from her and I don't know how long at this point because I'm just plain mad. I can't even 'fake' on the phone, it makes me sick and annoyed.

I think pretending what is happening isn't happening is at the heart of your anger. It helped me to remind myself that there is no villain, here. My child was in danger and I needed to stand up, but I kept ~ I didn't realize how deadly serious it was going to get.

It gets really serious, really fast. Not to scare you, but you need to fight for her now, while she can hear you, with everything you know. If I am remembering correctly, you recently learned for certain that drug use is happening.

From what you now know with certainty, you can understand very clearly why your child's behavior changed when it did change.

So that is the true thing you know.

Drug use is destroying her, and she has to stop. Whether she does or does not have somewhere to stay today is not an issue. I would be angry, too. It's like watching your child commit suicide and all she wants to talk about is the weather while she makes you watch her deepen the cut.

Whether she is using the drugs at someone else's house while she gets a few bucks to paint something is not going to make you feel better. You don't have to pretend with her that what she is doing is okay as long as she is not doing it at your house.

I think that is what is making you mad.

If your daughter explodes at you for drawing a line and refusing to budge, you will at least know you have told her the truth.

That is cold comfort.

But when we love someone who is self destructing, that is what we have to do, whether we like how that makes us feel or whether we wish things were different or not.

I feel badly for you. This is all so impossibly hard. Figuring out the correct response when there isn't one is hard, too. That is why telling the truth is best. Choose your words carefully, say what you know you mean to say, and take the leap.

There are no magic words that are going to make this stop. But the words you do say can give her an honest place from which to assess her position and make a different decision at some point.

My son was addicted.

He put it behind him so many times.

Then, one time, he didn't use again.

There is no simple solution.

No money without treatment or counseling or whatever you decide would most help her is a good line to draw in the sand. When we knew what it would have to look like before we did help, it was easier to say no.

It was still traumatic, saying no.

I am sorry this is happening.

Last edited:


one day at a time
Weary, one thing is that the relationship we have with our very sick kids is lopsided. It's not a normal, collegial back and forth. Remember you are mommy and she calls when she's scared and sick and when things take an upturn. We just want our mommy to know. This is not connected at all to you and your husband and all you have done for her. This is, as always, all about her.

Your feelings are normal. My best advice is so severely limit contact but when you do talk, fake it til you make it: be polite and cordial like you would with anymore. Maintain emotional distance. Don't react and engage. Keep it short.

I had to write down all I was willing to say and whip it out because I couldn't do what I just wrote above on the spot.

Like they say in alanon...say what you mean but don't say it mean.

I found that in order to do that I had to keep it short, have a script and keep it infrequent.

Your relationship down the road will be just fine.

Hugs. This is hard.


Well-Known Member
I think the putting you through Hades and then calling up to have a nice chat is due to a lack of insight and empathy on her part. I've experienced the same thing.

The same lack of insight that leads them to make such foolish choices also causes them to not be able to look back and realize their choices caused the situation. They see it as events happening to them with themselves as the victim. So they have no remorse either.

I think the best advice is what's already been said- keep it civil, keep it short and be noncommittal.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Plus the fact that many of our kids do not "future think" they are only in the present moment with no relationship with tomorrow, plans, priorities, etc., or yesterday. Their brains work in an entirely different way. Yesterday is forgotten and tomorrow doesn't exist.


Well-Known Member
Hi Weary, coming in a bit late on this, I'm sorry.

LIke many others, I have had the same experience, and the same reaction.

One day when he called to chat, I said "it makes me feel very uncomfortable to be having this pleasant chitchat when I know that you are out on the street, begging, stealing, living under a bridge and using drugs. That conflict causes me a lot of stress. I need to take care of myself, so I don't want to have this kind of conversation any more."

Somewhat to my surprise, since part of his issue is being on the autism spectrum, he got it. Right away. That, at least, has never been an issue since (plenty of other things are). We do talk now, 4 minutes a day. He calls me from jail. We talk about real issues (what his understanding is of how he got there), and also lighter talk (how he likes the books I've sent him, odds and ends of what goes on in jail and what is going on in the life of the family). But it feels more honest now.

I'm glad I said it. It felt like a huge relief in that moment. Even if he had hung up and never spoken to me again I think I would be glad. It is its own form of gaslighting, when they call and chatter about how great life is. Anything that undermines your own sense of reality is bad for you. And you, Weary, are working on you now.

Good luck. These are hard days. I hope it gets better for you.



An update.....my Difficult Child has been quiet the past several days until last night.

I had a very pleasant few days of what strangely felt like what might be normalcy....I think. =)

She called from a different phone number than usual but one that seemed familiar. Turns out, she left the apartment she was living at with the guy that picked up her on the road to go with a previous 'friend' that is a known gang member and drug 'runner' (as she calls it). As best I can tell he is given a bulk amount of drugs and he has to go and deliver it to various smaller dealers. At least, that's what my Difficult Child told me when she was home the last time. Nonetheless, she is back with him because she says the guy that she was staying with starting hitting her and calling her names when she would want him to take her to go get drugs. This other guy always has drugs so I figure that's why she had him come and get her.

The guy she was staying with was at work when she left and he contacted me by text last night when he got home and saw she was gone. He indicated that they had gotten into an argument because he would not help her get drugs and she freaked out. Now, I know this guy is a stranger but I have to say it sounds pretty darn accurate knowing my daughter's past behavior.

I only figured out who she was with after we hung up and I saw that number in my call list from weeks ago. When I asked her where she was going, she said with some friends and wouldn't tell me where - which is fine - I don't care at this point - just seems silly to be so secretive. Anyway, the guy she left said she was worth helping and he did the best he could and would have her back if she changes her mind. Whatever..

Today, she calls me, crying, saying the guy she went with is trying to pimp her out - which he loudly disagreed with in the background while we were on the phone. She said she has no where to go. I told her I was sorry, that I couldn't help her. I did tell her that the previous guy said he would gladly have her back if she changed her mind - she said she was glad to hear that because she has no where to go. She asked for his number so I gave it to her and we ended the call.

In the past I would have panicked and begged her to just come home - with my new found understanding I didn't panic, rather, I stayed the course, remained calm and let it be. I'm good with the way I handled it but I'm not feeling very good about her situation. As I wrote this update, she called again and said she is down to selling herself to get money to get a room somewhere so she can sleep. I told her I'm sorry again and she said she hopes one day we can be a family again.

Breaks my heart...

She knows she can't come home. We have been warned about not allowing her to stay in our home because she has active arrest warrants. We have to report her location if we know where she is. That's on top of the drug use, lies, stealing, etc - I can't do it again.

I will pray for the best and for her safety but I'm feeling pretty rotten now - I hate this.


one day at a time
Weary mom, I am sorry. Do you know enough to about her location to let the police know where she is? Is this something you would be able to do? In my situation, I came to believe jail was a safer place than many others my son was in. We are here for you no matter what.


Well-Known Member
I agree with Childofmine. If you have any idea where she is, I think it's best to call the police and tell them. I know I had said to stay out of it...but if it is now a matter of she lives with a drug runner or becomes a prostitute, jail is a better option. She doesn't ever have to know you are the one that told them where she was.

I'm so very sorry this is happening to you.


I have been thinking about how I can get her arrested today because as you have said, jail would be safer than prostituting or running with a drug dealer but I only have the guy's phone number and they don't have a place they are staying that I know of. My daughter knows I would have her arrested if I knew where she was so she won't tell me but will call me wanting help and to cry about her situation. They guy she is with, I don't know if he would help me get her picked up or not - knowing his type (drug dealer) he would tell her and the whole thing would blow up.

It's so frustrating. I even told her today that jail would give her a place to live and a chance to get sober and get her issues with the law taken care of and behind her eventually but she thinks that is ridiculous and told me she is NOT going to jail.

There is also the angle that she is telling me that to get help - she's lied to me before to get help so why would this be different? She sounded genuine but heck even I can put on an act if I needed to...

It's very sad, but at this point, I'm just praying that they get pulled over or otherwise get in trouble with the law and will go to jail that way. So sad that she is making such horrible choices but then calling me with the bad situation she is in as if I can help her. In my clean and sober mind, I would be opting for jail because it's a roof, meals that I don't have to scrounge for or miss and a chance to stop me from myself...but that's a 'normal' mind thinking, not something my daughter is doing right now.

Gonna need a hot soak in the tub tonight - I can feel the tension creeping up my back already!


Well-Known Member
As I wrote this update, she called again and said she is down to selling herself to get money to get a room somewhere so she can sleep.

So...I've thought about this some more. What, exactly, was she trying to do by telling you this? Did she ask for money or something? If she won't tell you where she is, you can't be expected to get her a hotel room. Do you have a way to give her money, like putting it in an account she has access to? Because really, if not, what did she gain?

You gave her the other guys number - the one who said he'd take her back. Why can't she go there? There have to be some kind of shelters in your area, isn't there? Why can't she go there? For that matter, it's not winter anymore, is sleeping outside worse that hooking? I kind of don't think so. Men wouldn't call their mom's saying they were going to sell their bodies, they'd just sleep outside.

I think she's playing on the worst fear for a mother/woman. Trying to get something from you by making her situation sound dire.


Well-Known Member
So...I've thought about this some more. What, exactly, was she trying to do by telling you this? Did she ask for money or something?

I think she's playing on the worst fear for a mother/woman. Trying to get something from you by making her situation sound dire.

What if what she is after is a pound of flesh? She knows that Weary cannot help her. She knows she has nowhere to go. She may have a few moves left...but she knows she is near the end of line.

You know how everything is always our fault? And none of it is theirs. You did this to me Mom. You could have helped me but you don't want to. Bang, goes the phone. Externalize what she is feeling. Who better to target? Mom.

I see a glimmer of hope here. She knows she is running out of steam. I would not be surprised if she soon has contact with the police.

Weary, we are with you.