I have to let go..


New Member
Hello Dragonfly,
I am so sorry for your need to be here but glad you found this place. You have been hurting for a very long time. Parts of your story could be mine, a combo of my two wayward daughters, actually.

This was me a few years ago. Deeply entrenched in my daughters choices, miserable and stuck. It’s an awful feeling. The good news is that you are recognizing the toll it is taking on your life. The hard news is that nothing changes, if nothing changes. As parents of addicted, using, possibly dual diagnosis adult children, it is imperative to realize that we cannot and must not base our lives and our physical, mental and spiritual health on their choices and consequences. We have absolutely no control over them. They will do what they will do. Recognizing this helps to be a catalyst for us to change. That is key, knowing we cannot change them, but with work, we can change our reactions, change our behaviors and perception.

Many of us have gone down this road and then some. It is agonizing. I liken it to double drowning, you see some one in trouble in the water and go to save them, they end up using you as a buoy and take you into the deep with them. There were many times when I just could not get a good breath in. Anxiety and stress.

The first step to creating change within yourself is to recognize the problem. Our addicted loved ones know exactly how to hit us at our center, pull at our heartstrings to keep us off balance. We are easily manipulated this way. What helps me find my balance and center is the realization that nothing I have said, done or given my two actually helped them to make better choices. They continued to use drugs and in turn, use me.

There are more folks out there affected by addiction in the family than we realize. In the midst of my anguish, I felt the same way as you do. I was glad that my workmates had happy stories with their adult children, but it just drove the sadness of my kids reality deeper. I was so stuck and attached to the misery of my twos choices and the never ending cycling of drama and chaos. It was eating me alive, too.

So, in other words YOU have hit your rock bottom in trying to cope with this. GOOD. There is no where to go but UP from this.

Addiction is an incredibly selfish beast. It will mow down anyone in its path. That is the insidiousness of it. Knowing this and living it as we have, seeing it for what it is can help us to begin to detach from our loved ones behaviors (and our own reaction and behaviors) and learn how to create healthier habits for ourselves.

It is not possible to help someone who does not want real help. I understand your path, it is similar to mine. Hubs and I “helped” for years because of our grands. Years. I am sure my two have issues with mental health, even moreso due to drug use. I started to wake up to the hard reality and the toll their choices were taking on the family when I found my then teenaged son sobbing uncontrollably on my bed. I couldn’t see my own decline and distress, but that image of him is permanently seared in my brain. No one has the right to take away your peace. No one. Toxic behavior is toxic, even if it comes from our adult children. It is unacceptable.

This is what I hang on to for my two. They have inner light and potential. They are resourceful. I have had to let go of what I call “catastrophic mindset.” It is hard not to imagine the absolute worst case scenario when our adult children are out there doing God only knows what. BUT. It does nothing for us to carry imagery of horrific end results. When my mind drifts there, to the edge of that rabbit hole, I have to pray. I give my two to God. There is no use killing myself with nightmarish thoughts of what could be.

Who knows why our wayward adult kids do what they do? It is absolute insanity the way my two live.
But, I have no control over their choices, worrying and fretting just wears me down. I know how it feels when “that phone call” appears. The sinking heart, churning stomach. The “what now” then the guilt over feeling that way. The guilt over forming the word “NO” hearing it from your mouth, (I actually said no?) then the subsequent reaction, from your kid and the lump in your throat. My Tornado used to ploy me with the “unconditional love” line. Well, love says no. It takes some time to get adjusted to it. We don’t help our adult kids by allowing them to use us. We certainly don’t help ourselves.

You are correct, you cannot keep doing this. Yes, she is all of the above. You need to see this. I am sorry, it hurts. I have to work hard not to fall back into old patterns. Our wayward adult children will continue to use the same tactics that work for them. Seeing the manipulation for what it is, helps us to stop the knee jerk reaction to cave. We need help to see the whole picture, our own involvement and responsibility to take care of ourselves. I found helpers, writing here and getting kind advice from folks who have “been there, done that”, helped, finding mentors in works from philosophers, psychologists, poets, inspirational quotes. One quote that works for me- “What you allow, will continue.”
It has not been a straight line to finding my sanity and grounding. I still have to work hard. What I do know is that I abandoned myself for many, many years in desperation, trying to fix the unfixable. My focus was on the drama and chaos unfolding with my two. I was deeply ingrained.
It feels weird when you first take steps to come out of it. We are so entrenched in the pattern, giving in to our waywards manipulation feels like love. It is not. Overthinking and ruminating on their consequences and what may be, feels like love, it is not. Spiraling downward in the despair feels like love, it is not. Understanding what love truly is, takes work. Love says no, not only to what our addicted adult children’s demands are, but saying no to our own emotional downfall. We have to learn all over again to love ourselves enough to stop spiraling down the rabbit hole with our kids. We cannot control their choices. We cannot stop the madness by allowing ourselves to hit emotional, mental, physical and financial rock bottom and stay there. It takes hard work to switch focus on what you can control, your reactions. It takes a whole lot of self love. Self love is not selfish, it is essential to our being. It is what we wish for our children, that they will take care of themselves and hold themselves in a higher regard, better their lives, make better choices. We can’t do that for them, they have to decide. We can do it for ourselves. We must. It is survival. It is the best way to begin to truly help our kids, by showing them with our own actions that we all must stand up for ourselves.

I hope and pray that my two see their light and potential. The consequences they have reaped in my opinion are beyond rock bottom, like journey to the center of the earth. Ugh is right.

You are right, Dragonfly, you cannot have someone disrespect the sanctity of your home and destroy your peace of mind. We hid our stuff too, after things went missing. My young son said it perfectly. “Mom, why do we have people (his older sisters) living with us that we can’t trust?”

Realizing is the first step. Work to fix it. Yourself, I mean. How many years I wasted trying to fix my two. It was not my job and nothing I did worked. Guilt is something to work hard on, it keeps us entrenched in enabling. These are her choices, her consequences, not yours. There is an acronym for the feelings we have with our addicted adult children- Fear-Obligation-Guilt. This combination keeps us in the game. We all made mistakes as parents. My kids would tell me it’s my fault they are the way they are. I was afraid if I stopped “helping”-what would happen to my grands? I felt obliged to help them, guilt that I caused their issues, guilt that I had a roof over my head. The list goes on. FOG is an accurate description of what happens to us emotionally and mentally trying to control an outcome we have no control over. We desperately want our kids to make better choices, the FOG blinds us into thinking that we can do something to fix them. It’s not up to us, it is up to them.

Prayer has helped me tremendously. Giving our addicted children to God is not a cop out. I began to recognize that the problem was way over my head, way too much for me to handle and that I had tried about everything to my own demise and detriment. I would wake up early before work and go walking and pray daily not only for my two daughters, but for God to give me the strength to get through the day. I believe the movement of walking helped me too. Creating a routine of healthy habits helps to lift ourselves up out of the fog.

My dear Dragonfly, how I know how this feels. Worst case scenarios spinning in your head and heart does absolutely nothing for your daughter, and will drive you into an early grave. Circular thinking, ruminating over what ifs, are all part of our own illness in living with the reality of addicted loved ones. Stop. Breathe. Pray. Find ways to fix your mindset. It takes work to change life patterns. You have begun the journey by recognizing the truths of your relationship with your daughter. If, we can call it a relationship. We can love our wayward children without taking the consequences of their choices as our own. Our hearts can be treacherous in having us believe that we have to be entrenched and enmeshed, depressed and distraught in the madness of their lives. We begin to feel that there is no way to find joy unless our kids are doing well. There is no good to come of two people drowning in the quicksand. You have taken the first important step, seeing things for what they are. The next is to find ways to disentangle yourself from your daughters choices. She will do as she wishes. What do you want for yourself? I have come to realize that I wasted many years wishing for an outcome, more than my two. I still have hope for them, but they need to take responsibility for their future. It is as if my investing all my energy into their consequences, took away their capability to pull up. Now, I see that not only my surviving this, but striving and thriving is the best way to show them that they can too. You can. You are worth the effort. You have value. Your peace of mind and heart is important.

Twenty years is a long hard road. You are waking up and seeing the toll it has taken on you. You are the captain of your ship, your daughter of her own. She sails into the storm, you do not need to follow her. That is not love. Love says no, I will not go into deep despair over something I have no control over. No, I will not fund your bad habits, no, you cannot use me, disrespect me, or trample on me. I love you. But no. There are limits and boundaries for everyone. We must draw a line in the sand and not allow others to steal our peace. Even if it is our own beloveds.
This is hard, but self preservation is crucial to our own well being. Find ways to work on you. Find ways to build yourself up. It will not get easier as you make changes. It feels foreign. We have been trained by our adult kids to follow them into the rabbit hole. We are more easily manipulated when we are dazed and confused. Allowing our kids to manipulate us does nothing to help them see their reality. In order to stand strong, we must rebuild our foundation, see our weak points and fortify ourselves. I truly believe this is the best way to “help” our waywards. We are their first teachers, teach your daughter to love herself by setting boundaries and getting back your self worth. You have already proven your strength by surviving twenty years of insanity. You are the only one who can stop the crazy in your life. That doesn’t depend on whether your daughter wakes up or not, it depends on you opening your own eyes, seeing the road you have gone down, knowing that is hasn’t helped your daughter and it will be the death of you if you continue as is. She will not change unless she wants to. But, you can change your own emotional response and find your center.
You are so worth the effort.
New Leaf
Your reply is everything I need to be reminded of right now - wisdom born out of experience - thank you so very much!

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Hi Moonscape,
Your reply is everything I need to be reminded of right now - wisdom born out of experience - thank you so very much!
Thank you for your kindness. Not so wise all the time, I have to remind myself constantly to stay the course. I am very thankful for everyone on this site that helped me. We are all on a tough journey, having a place to write and receive loving feedback has been a Godsend. If you feel compelled to share your story, there are many kind folks here to help you.
Take care