How to deal with guilt tripping


Active Member
Ive reread Recovering enablers article on detachment over and over but the guilt my son’d ex puts on me when i say no is enough to put me in a depression for days going over and over constantly if i was right to say no. Ive been in therapy myself for depersonalization(a type of dissassiciative anxiety disorder) which i know is a response to the stress they put me under, and antinxiety medications. This latest incident is because sometime ago my ex daughter in law’s phone was cut off due to non payment. I paid the bill as she has my 5 grandchildren and needs a phone for emergencies. After she got very angry as Ive supported my son in court in his visitation rights. She refused to pay me back saying its my fault she couldnt pay the phone because I helped her get the phone plan which was clearly unsuitable for her needs. Now she is moving and needs someone with a credit card to book the moving truck. I refused as I was burned once already for a $700 phone bill. Now she says im being childish because she wont be able to move her stuff or all the kids stuff. This is a small example and in itself isnt much but its part of an ongoing pattern of manipulation, guilt tripping, using the kids to obtain my help that has totallly consumed my life for 9 years. Ive come along way as there was a time I couldnt say no but damn she knows how to press my buttons and I end up with being totally unable to take pleasure in anything im doing because of the guilt she throws at me no matter how irrational I know that guilt is.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
A good book for you might be Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie. Unfortunately, the guilting will continue until you say a resounding NO. You're being held hostage by your ex daughter in law's brilliant manipulation tools, your grandkids. She can only do what you will allow. Boundaries are necessary. Most of us need support in learning how to maneuver through the boundary issues because we are spring loaded to want to help/love/support our kids. However, in many cases here, we have to let go of helping them, learn boundaries, learn to say no, no matter how many buttons are pushed..... and find out what it is that WE want.

Your daughter in laws comment about you somehow having responsibility for her moving is ludicrous, you are not being childish, she's being manipulative and entitled. How she has to move is her responsibility not yours. Plus she has shown you that she does not honor agreements.

If you aren't in counseling of some sort I would encourage you to seek that or some kind of supportive environment. This is hard stuff. Guilt is a weapon being used on you to get what another wants, it's abusive. Find support for YOU.


Active Member
Thankyou for the book suggestion, I will definately read it. Ive been in therapy for the depersonaliztion and weve spent alot of time on how and why I end up emeshed with people like this, its not the first time. Ive been through this with my ex husband til I left him, my son til I threw him out and now her. Shes definately the most difficult because of the kids.


Active Member
where are her parents and why isn’t she looking to them for help? Sounds like she knows you feel a sense of responsibility because their father is your son and she is using that to her advantage. You are not responsible to pick up the ball if your son drops it but she knows you will. If anybody should help with phone bills and moving costs it should be him, if he is unable to that doesn’t automatically make it your problem. I am in the process of untangling myself from total enmeshment with my oldest son, fortunately though he has no children. I can see where that would make it a lot harder. I read somewhere that givers need to set limits because takers never do and that is so true. Good luck to you

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Hi Skittles,

I'm so sorry for what you are dealing with. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the term FOG - (fear, obligation, guilt)
I think you are stuck in the FOG but you are at the edge where the light is trying to shine through.

The "MOM" in us always wants to be able to help our kids. It's just part of our DNA. Where this gets warped is when our adult children use our love and our emotions against us.

The biggest thing is you realize you are being manipulated. That in and of itself is huge! Coming out of the FOG does not happen overnight. Learning to say NO and sticking to it is a skill we have to learn. It's not like we are telling a three year old "no, you can't have cookie before dinner". We are telling our adult difficult children NO, we are not going to bail you out, we are not going to rescue you, we are not going to pay your bills, we are not going to make everything in your world okay.

We each come into our own time of letting go. What I can tell you is you will get there! There was a time for me when I was so consumed with guilt I didn't think I would ever get over it. I'm proof that you can. I'm proof that you can go on to live a happy life free from the "mother's guilt"

Our difficult adult children are just that, they are adults. We as their parents are not responsible for them or the choices they make. Instead of taking responsibility for their own lives and actions they want to keep us in the "mom comes to the rescue" role. They are very good at knowing how to push our buttons. They know how to use our emotions against us. Helping them is not "helping" them. They need to learn how to navigate their lives on their own. We as their parents will not be around forever and the sooner they detach from us and we detach from them the better.

YOU MATTER!!! Be good to yourself. Try and do one thing each day that is just for you. Simple things, buy yourself some flowers, take a long bubble bath, rent a movie, feed the ducks at the park, go for a walk, buy an ice cream cone, etc....... anything that is just for YOU. No guilt attached.
You have every right to live your life as you see fit and to be happy.

I'm very glad you found us here. Keep posting and let us know how things are going.