How do I stop feeling guilt and fear?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Acacia, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    My difficult narcissistic son knows how to manipulate and guilt me. I work hard to keep my boundaries, but I still feel like a bad person for keeping them.

    Latest is that his two year old daughter with his ex has been put into foster care again. My son has been in prison since she was born, but wants to parent her and is to be released this spring. He has no money, no place to live, no job, no transportation. I refuse to let him live with me because of how difficult he is: controlling, rigid, verbally abusive.

    I put a little $20 on his account since he is trying to deal with the court. He got upset tonight because I said I won't put $ on every week. He wants to use my address to get out. I have said no, but he still acts as if I never said that. He plans to get a private lawyer, with what? It's hard to talk to someone who is so out of touch with reality, and who is triggered by any disagreement.

    So, I feel like a wus because I feel guilty, I think, because it involves a child. I am afraid of his anger because he is bullying and condescending - then I get afraid. This site has been invaluable to me, but I still have a long way to go. Any advice is welcomed.
  2. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    You are not alone. My son is 18 and has no offspring and I go through the same roller coaster with you.

    Look to your right there I am. And ahead of us I see KSM, RN, Leafy, oh and look more and more and more of my dear supportive friends.

    My answer is simple we don’t. We don’t ever get over the FOG the Fear Obligation and Guilt. We do learn with each other’s support how to mange it, control it and not let it allow us to derail ourselves or enable our loved one. We manage to manage. I bwl I e that this is as good as it gets.

    So as Leafy said is a post the other day. Embrace the emotion feel it and purge it. Doesn’t let it grind you down.

    We survive with the support of each other. Nothing more, and yet nothing greater in all the great wide world.
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  3. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Acacia, I am so sorry for what you are going through.
    I am glad you are resolved that your son will not live with you. It is unacceptable that he mistreats you. I am thinking after reading your post that your sons impending release in spring is frightening. That is hard. Forgive me if I am wrong. I understand, my daughter has loomed over me more than once, and the possibility of her acting on impulse makes me leery of her. Actually, I have encountered menacing moments with both of my daughters. It is scary.
    I don't blame you for feeling this way. He is bullying you.
    Don't cut yourself down for how you feel. We are only human. I have three grands from Tornado and am unable to take care of them. They are with their paternal grandparents. Neither one of their parents are capable or suitable at this time to care for them, they are both out there using drugs. I go through periods of guilt and sadness for my grands and wish life would be better for them. They seem to be okay, and like living where they are at. They have much more stability then before. I hope the same for your granddaughter. How our d cs think that they can care for children, when they are floundering themselves. Unrealistic. My three grands ended up being "cash cows" stamps. It is disgusting to me. But the guilt is unwarranted. These are their children. Their parents are supposed to take responsibility to raise them. Some folks raise their grands, but if one is unable, that is just what is.
    I would be afraid as well, wondering what is down the road when your son gets out of prison. Is there anyone you could speak with about this? I have not dealt with this, so I don't know. But I do understand your fear. He is already ignoring your wishes to not use your address (which is smart, by the way, people use mail to establish residency) and demanding money from you. Are you seeing a therapist? Is there anyone you could speak with confidentially about your concerns? I find that knowledge is power, that is what you need to be... empowered. It is not fair to be held for ransom with your sons demands. There must be someone that can help you walk through this.
    You are not a bad person, Acacia, you are a human being who deserves to be treated kindly. You matter. Your safety and serenity matters. Manipulation and guilting someone into getting what we want is not love, it is abuse.
    You do not deserve to be treated this way.
    I am sorry for your troubles. It is hard enough to deal with the normal stresses in our lives, but this on top of everything is extremely difficult.
    Stay tough and stick to your boundaries. I know there are folks here who have limited calls from jail, until their d cs can speak respectfully with them. I think this is more than reasonable. Your son needs to remember that you are his mother, not someone he can push around and make demands on.
    Unacceptable behavior.
    Please be very kind to yourself and take steps to protect YOU!
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  4. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    So sorry you are going through this with your adult son.

    I have to say this: Mom's are people too!!

    I think that our Difficult Child ren do not really see us as people at times; most of the time.

    I cannot offer any thing more than what these wise and wonderful people have already done but wanted to say you are doing the best you can and not to be hard on yourself. I agree to limit contact and see a therapist if you are able. A therapist that specializes in addiction (not sure if that's your son's problem) helped me set firm boundaries.

  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Acacia.

    I thought I'd try to answer your question: How do I stop feeling guilt and fear?

    Guilt and fear are part of this path. It's inevitable, these are our children, regardless of their age. However, for me, letting go of guilt and fear had more to do with me, rather than my daughter. She was simply being her, as someone said, "it's just another Thursday" for her, while I used to be wringing my hands, losing sleep, sick to my stomach, freaked know how it goes.....

    Once I got the basics down, setting strong UNBREAKABLE, NON NEGOTIABLE, boundaries, I started working on me and how I could navigate this terrain and find some kind of solace and happiness regardless of the choices my daughter was making. It seemed like a very tall order but I was determined. I read a quote by the Dalai Lama which inspired me, "do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace." That became my intention.

    I believe intention is important. My intention was to find that peace. To that end I entered a codependent course thru my HMO which offered me weekly therapy and a weekly support group. In addition I read a lot. Books by Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle & Victor Frankel made a difference for me. Every single day I did something for me. I focused on my needs and my desires.

    Letting go of guilt for me had much to do with an overblown sense of responsibility I had in general in life and especially with my daughter. When our kids are 18 or even 25, it's a bit different, those kids deserve more parental concern, but our kids, over 30, are a bit different. We've already parented them, instilled values and boundaries and love and care and they've not launched for whatever reason. I learned that at least for me, there is an end to parenting.....not an end to loving, or caring, or helping if it's appropriate, but parenting. That's when it turns into enabling for me, when I am doing for them what they need to be doing for themselves.

    So I dug deep and developed a willingness to change, to hear what the experts said, to allow a new way of looking at it. I became willing to change my perception which of course, changes everything. Guilt is a web that goes beyond our kids, if we tend towards feeling guilty when guilt is not appropriate, then WE have an issue and WE can choose to heal it and recover from it. I did.

    Fear for me with my daughter was continual and relentless worry and anxiety which never went daughter made choices which were scary for me. In my therapy I looked at how my worry did nothing for my daughter. How my fear was screwing up my own life. How I had likely spent years in that fear place. I was asked how that was working for me. Well, it wasn't. And, I started to see that.

    Most of my fear was future tripping, worrying about what MIGHT happen if I didn't step in to save the day. I learned from reading Eckhart Tolle books and Pema Chodron books how to stay in the present moment and not lapse into the past and begin tormenting myself with what I SHOULD have done (guilt) or tripping into the future to try to avoid any catastrophe that might be lurking out there (fear). I had done a lot of this throughout my life and as I saw that, it wasn't hard to want to cut it out!

    I learned that grief is a big part of this process, there is a lot to let go of when our kids are troubled. There is a lot of grief. My experience is that grief needs to be expressed. As it is expressed, it dissipates and a new opening occurs.

    I learned to stay in the present moment and not let my mind go down all those scary paths. I did that with meditation and a lot of physical exercise, both excellent ways to calm down and stop the relentless monkey mind which cannot stop over thinking and worrying. I listened to YOUTUBE guided visualizations when my mind would kick in with scary thoughts. Or I would hike. Every time I slipped into guilt or fear, I did something out of my tool box to shift the energy. It worked.

    Over time, as I practiced, it became easier. I also started a gratitude journal. Statistics show that folks who practice gratitude actually change their experience. Instead of continual fear and worry and guilty thoughts, new perceptions started to take root. It's easy to be held hostage by our own thinking.....I learned that I have the power to shift that.

    The most important thing that happened was as I let go of the enabling, the responsibility, the guilt and the fear, I started to accept what is. That is not just a line, accepting what is, is life changing. It began with my daughter and blossomed into my entire life. As Eckhart Tolle says, "When you argue with reality, you suffer." Well, I had been doing a whole lot of arguing and I decided to stop. Once any part of life is accepted, a calm surfaces, a big relief, a sense of all is well. A "space" between those fear thoughts occurs and over time, with practice, you can widen that space.

    This is not easy, it was without a doubt, the hardest thing I have EVER done. But I did it. And others here have done it too. And so can you. I could not have done it without the incredible support I received in my codependency course, in my therapy and here on this forum.
    I needed that support. Frankly, I could not have done this without it.

    As I have mentioned a few times, I see this as a spiritual journey or journey of awareness which offers the potential of giving us the wonderful gift of is full of so much to let go of, learning how to be okay with what shows up in life and accept it, is invaluable. It changes everything.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  6. Sam3

    Sam3 Active Member

    I know this was your personal odyssey but thank you for sharing the steps and the wisdoms that supported them and the evolution. It’s a process, I know, but it’s comforting to see a roadmap to peace that isn’t dependent on the child’s success, but on acceptance.
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  7. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Thank you all for the collective wisdom and kindness you have offered. I am working hard because I know I destroy my health and sanity when I stay in the FOG.

    I do fine in all my other relationships, including teaching high school for 26 years, but I have allow myself to sucked into my two difficult adult children's vortex and to be spit out whenever they choose.

    Yes, I see a therapist, go to Codependents Anonymous, and read Tolle and Chodrin, and they all help a lot. I have PTSD from my own difficult childhood, and even though I am a slow learner, I am getting stronger. I'll keep rereading these posts.
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  8. Sam3

    Sam3 Active Member

    Acacia, I realize you may be further down the road, but I just wanted to inquire about the trauma piece. Have you tried trauma specific therapy? It was an unexpected positive reset for me. There’s a recent thread on EMDR where other people report the same.
  9. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Sam, I have done inner child work, but not EMDR. I have a new therapist who is helping with boundaries, but I think you are right that I should look EMDR in the future. Thanks for the tip.