Gaslighting or Our Fault?


Well-Known Member
Son is on 2 years' probation and is required to pay court costs at $50 per month. He is in a residential rehab and is required to pay his room and board from his earnings and has been "in the hole" until today, when he received $55. We have visited him each weekend the last couple of weeks and asked him how he was doing with his required community service, court costs, etc. He said the first payment would be late but "should be ok." I asked, "SHOULD be ok, or WILL be ok?" Son: "WILL be ok."

Thursday a letter to son arrived in the mail, delayed because it was forwarded from our old address. It looked like a form letter but said that he had until Monday to pay the entire amount of court costs owed or make payment arrangements. Hubs put it aside because he figured it was a form letter sent to everyone, son had made payment arrangements, so it was under control.

So...(shockingly, I know!!!) son evidently didn't have it under control. He blew a gasket when we gave him the letter today and asked why we held onto it until today, when he can't do anything over the weekend. He fears that he will be sent to prison for defaulting on his payment arrangements. (He just assumed he could make the first payment late, rather than discussing it with anyone.)

He screamed and ranted and threatened to leave rehab because he "never gets any support" from us.

I finally talked him into begrudgingly sending a $50 money order from his spending money to the court, and I paid for priority mail and told him to change the address on file because I don't want to be in the middle of it anymore, then make sure he makes his payments timely.

Hubs is rarely angry enough to retreat into silence. He was still as a stone for the drive back to rehab, where son told us he's going on one last bender before he goes back to prison and it's on us, then slammed the car door. Since then he has been texting repeatedly, accusing us of being careless and unfeeling and even deliberately sabotaging him.

Needless to say, phone is turned off. questions are

1. Other than getting them his 1st payment ASAP and calling his PO, is there anything else he needs to do?

2. It's under my this partially on us?


Well-Known Member
Thursday was two days ago. Were you supposed to make an extra trip to deliver a letter, especially since Son said he had the payments taken care of?

I would say it's on him, not you and your husband. He assumed. He was wrong. He needs to check with his PO to find out what his next steps are.

You were generous to pay for overnight postage.


Roll With It
Complete and TOTAL Gaslighting! His total overreaction shows it!! The more they act like 2 yo children, the more they are in the wrong.

He knew he owed this $$. He knew the terms and due dates. You waited 2 days, not 2 weeks or months. You gave it to him at the first available opportunity. You asked him repeatedly if he was on the right side of this situation.

HE always said yes. He could have told you he was behind, that he was late with a payment, that he wasn't sure. Or he could have been a grownup and contacted his PO and asked what to do BEFORE it became a problem.

He CHOSE to assume it was no big deal and then to rage and blame y'all. It is time to toss this situation back in his lap. You were very kind to pay priority mail for him, but this is NOT your problem. It just really isn't. Even if he goes on a bender, it is still not your problem.

You NEED to let this be HIS problem, and let the consequences be HIS consequences. You cannot fix this, and assuming the consequences for him won't help him because he won't learn anything. I watched my parents go through this, and learn this, and it is so very hard. In the long run, I hope your son can and will grow up and figure out his sobriety and get his act together. In the meantime, don't fall for the gaslighting garbage. Let him figure out how to fix his problems. When he asks why you won't fix them (support him whatever), tell him it is because you know he is strong enough to figure it out himself!


absolutely agree with the others. He is gaslighting you and using FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) to get to you. Time he learns that he needs to take control of HIS life. Hw dare he put this on you!!!! If this were me I would step way back for a while and find some peace and calm . Let him figure things out. You and Hubby deserve it. Hugs


He knew he owed. They have 30days to know.

It is also up to him to get a receipt from payment, it is important to keep all of them until probation is fulfilled.d

I hope mine is doing it, he made a folder for them before he left.

It's hard to watch them implode...but it is also up to him to have his mail's called adulting.

Rest and breathe:)

so ready to live

Well-Known Member
Oh Albie. This is so not on you! I feel very defensive of you and hubs at this point.
Even the comment about one final bender, so foolish and so out of your control. So, he texts repeatedly, laying all responsibility on you...again...for his actions and also threatens you with the final bender garbage. Priceless.
If this were me I would step way back for a while and find some peace and calm
No truer words ever spoken. I would retreat, not just to save you, but to put a boundary up that says "you can't treat me this way and expect my visits, texts, calls".
Many times, I suppose it softens it but we tell our son the truth-we can't take his drama, his mess. We tell him we are going to counseling and al-anon and we are tired. So tired. To ourselves we say we are accepting that this will not, maybe never be, a normal relationship. We have to believe and prepare for that. We cannot live "in it" without losing our sanity, our marriage, our health. So instead of just him going down the tubes, we go also...not right. This is all so hard. Prayers for clarity of thought for you. You'll get through this. We are warrior moms...


Active Member
Gaslighting. It's always OUR fault. You are not to blame in the least. If anything, he should have been reaching out "hey, have y'all gotten any mail from ____________ for me?" to stay on top of it.


Well-Known Member
Thank you, ladies. So glad to have you guys to confirm my instincts.

He's been given our suggestions on how to handle it, and we are out of it now.

I don't know why it continues to shock me, but he can be so short-sighted and immature for his age. His biggest point of contention was that we cancelled our nice plans for the day and took him back to rehab. Like that's his main worry?!


Well-Known Member
I am getting those calls and texts from my son. It is all my fault that he is not allowed to come back to my house. It's never about him and what he does. He just does not want to take responsibilty for himself. He wants to have a place to live while he continues to do what he wants to do. He is an adult (so he claims) and can do what he wants and then is shocked when there are consequences.


Well-Known Member
I might point out, he had until Monday (today) to 1) pay or 2) make payment arrangements. Which means he could have called Monday, today, to make payment arrangements, though it sounds like he already HAS made payment arrangements, since he is paying $50 per month.

He paid. He's not going back to jail when he paid and you even paid to overnight it. Could you have called him and told him? Maybe. But even then, he had time to call today and none of it matters, because HE SENT IT. It's paid. He needs to get his head out of his ass and see that it's done. No harm, no foul. YOU certainly didn't do anything to be berated about.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Ugh so annoying! These man children are all the same aren't they?

My son hadn't called for a few days after leaving sober living and totaling his car after a few initial calls. He is back in rehab (or should I call it his hotel). My husband had told him he was more than upset with him about what he had done and son did apologize sincerely and then we did not hear anything for several days. I had hopes that maybe he was finally realizing drugs are not okay and being sober for 3 months is not all that is expected of him.

Well he called yesterday and talked to his dad about coming home and how things will be different. NOPE NOPE NOPE. His dad did put it all back on him and said he needed to write down his goals/plans on one side of a sheet of paper and on the other side write down the things he has done to impede reaching his goals and read it to him.

I thought this was pretty good considering he does not have this forum to look at to get ideas! I told him next time son talks about coming home to tell him it will not be discussed and cut the call short. He agreed.

Albie do not listen to this BS. I know when you're in the thick of it you can't think straight but we can all see it. You guys are fantastic parents and don't doubt that for one minute! This is on your son.
This is all his fault not yours at all. He needs to start reaping the repercussions of his actions. I would of been so upset, after you helped him, saying he was going on a bender before going to jail. Total disrespect for your caring and helping by the tone of his texts.

Please let his next payment go if he uses his money for other things. This cycle of making you feel guilty, pushing your emotional buttons works for him every time. Hard as it is, please stop.

My daughter made a decision to not follow our house rules and is living in a homeless shelter. It was so hard at first, I cried my eyes out. But now, a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I can live in my own home without fear that she will kill us in the middle of the night. She made the right decision....for me.



Well-Known Member
Got to admit, it seems like the best thing that happened was when my son's license expired and he couldn't get another ID in Colorado since he didn't have an address. That meant he couldn't pick up moneygrams or Western Union and I couldn't send him any money or buy him anything for in-store pickup. He was well and truly cut off. After a while, a weight lifted off my shoulders too. He didn't call and ask anymore. And guess what? He didn't die! As a matter of fact, he now has a job and a place to live. So...I guess this "let them figure it out" thing, works.

Big Hugs Albie. We're all with you! :group-hug:


Long road but the path ahead holds hope.
It so hard on us. To then it's just another day. No thought for anyone but themselves. I was so worried because my son is 2 months shy of 18. I now know another 2 years of his actions would not change anything.


Well-Known Member
Got to admit, it seems like the best thing that happened was when my son's license expired and he couldn't get another ID in Colorado since he didn't have an address. ... As a matter of fact, he now has a job and a place to live. So...I guess this "let them figure it out" thing, works.

I should probably point out - that just happened in APRIL! I can't believe it was only April. It seems like a long time ago to it's been this way for ages, but it's only been 4 months. The last thing I did was buy him a ticket to where he now lives on Greyhound, because they'd let him pick up the ticket with a password, instead of an ID. That was the week following Mother's day. Not that long ago.

So knock on wood. Sometimes things change fast. Sometimes they change for the better. I'm still hanging on to the hope the better lasts a while.

Hopefully Albie - after the dust settles, this scare will make things change in your son's case too - for the better.
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Well-Known Member
Thanks, guys.

Lil, I hope you are right. He was scared enough to call his PO and the clerk of court--twice. Scared is good!

They are sending him a new payment agreement, since he missed the deadline for the first payment. Lucky him.

He also forgot to include the service fee, so the first payment won't be applied anyway.

And his driver license will be suspended for missing the deadline the first time.

So I confirmed that he changed his address and knows the amount of the payment and when payments are due..and of course was met with irritation that I would even ask.


But we're officially out of the court costs drama.

Now we're on to more horribles -- they talk about Jesus a lot at his (faith-based) rehab (DUH!) the residents (also potentially facing prison) are intimidating (DUH!), his roommate stole his earphones and won't give them back (REALLY?!)

Sigh. OK...deep breath...try to remember he's been medicating his emotional challenges for 10 years so maybe he's in a blizzard right now.

So I told him I'm sure he'll figure it out, then turned off my phone.

We'll see how Saturday goes. If it's another kvetching session we will probably be taking a hiatus for a bit.

Thanks for grounding me again, guys.
Wow, he is just pulling all your heart out, piece by piece...telling you of everything that's going wrong. This so takes me back to my daughter and now that I am removed from the situation I can clearly see what I did wrong by coming to the rescue for every little thing. Amazing.

Good for you to turn off your phone! :) That takes a ton of strength to do but, it's the right thing to do.

Hoping for positive outcome on Saturday. :)