Needing to stay strong, feeling like a horrible person. :(

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WLS, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. WLS

    WLS New Member

    I will try to keep this as short as possible:

    Daughter: is 34. Physically disabled (Spina Bifida) but walks with lower leg braces and she has some VERY minor learning disabilities, mainly math and some short term memory issues. If you met her you would never know it. She has an average IQ of 98. She has NOTHING wrong with her that can't be overcome.

    Me: Divorced from 1st hubby (her dad). Widowed from 2nd hubby, 10 years now. I have one son 17.

    My daughter has ALWAYS lived with me. I have supported her 100% all of these years, never asking of her to pay anything to live under my roof, and I don't' make a lot of $. If anything I have paid HER anywhere from 80.00 - 200.00 a month to pick up her brother from school and to give me alone time if I wanted to have guests. She has been collecting SSI since she turned 18. 500.00 a month and now up to 725.00. She has probably worked a total of one year since graduating high school 17 years ago. She tried to take some tech school classes but failed. Not because she can't do it, but because she quits when things get a bit hard. Some of her very first words were "I can't it's to hard, it's not my fault", and to this day that is still her favorite saying. Her failures and her quitting when the going gets rough are ALWAYS someone else's fault. So basically for the past 16 out of 17 years she has sat at home, play video games, surfed the net, watched tv, napped and went downtown to clubs on the weekend. Her only chore was to feed the cat and wash the dishes which usually sat for 2-3 days and half of time I had to do them if I wanted dishes to feed her brother! Her dad bought her a brand new car 3 years ago and she can get around just fine.

    My 2nd husband died 10 years ago and I have had two relationships since then that went south because they could not deal with the fact that she lived with me and basically sponged off of me. In retrospect, I can now understand that.

    I am now finally engaged to a wonderful man and we are getting married sometime in near future. My lease just expired and I have moved in with him. I gave her 8 months notice that this IS going to happen and that when it does she can't under any circumstances come to live with us. Between us we have 3 minor children and they are the priority. Her words at that time were " 8 months is a long time from now". I told her NO it is NOT. You need to get off your butt and get a job and start saving money. She waited until the 5th month to start applying for job that she has NO experience for and of course did not get them. She finally bit the bullet and took a job that she felt was beneath her at 10.00 and hour. Within 2 weeks they moved her up to a trainer (this is a call center) and she told me she is now making 15.00 and hour. I told her I was very proud of her and that one person can easily lived on that I just wish she would have done so sooner as now there are only 30 days left.

    My lease has now expired as of a week ago and I am now living with my fiance. The day we moved out her words to me were " I can't believe you are OK with this". Meaning, leaving her to fend for herself. I told her NO I am not OK with it or happy about it and I am very worried about you, but after 17 years there is NOTHING left I can do for you. You must figure out your life on your own. She then proceeded to say she might have to quit her job because she did not want to give up her 725.00 a month is SSI. I almost lost it, but calmly said, if you prefer to continue to try to live on 8000.00 a year as opposed to 30,000 a year that is your choice. I had sent her room-mate links, couch surf links, posted and add for her looking for a place to stay, sent her emergency shelter links but she never looked into them. I think she never believed my help was over. I had sent her room-mate links, couch surf links, posted and add for her looking for a place to stay, sent her emergency shelter links but she never looked into them. I think she never believed my help to her was over. I never wanted to see her homeless for God's sake but I can't support her anymore, especially when she does NOTHING to help herself and doesn't' feel a bit bad for making my life harder. It is NOT fair to my new soon to be husband I believe very selfish on her part to even consider the idea. She has never even met him or wanted to. (There is a jealousy and threat to her there because of him, life as she knew it is now over).

    As far as I know the first two nights or so she spent in her car. I have not heard from her since. We are going away for a week to the Keys and I feel like I want to extend an olive branch and offer to let her stay here for the week to help her out, but I am also afraid that this will enable her further or that she may not leave once we return. What to do? What to do?

    I am not opposed to helping those in time of need, but I have done so for for 17 years! I have NOT told my finance that she is potentially homeless as he is the type that will say "get her here NOW to stay with us". That is one thing I love about him, his giving nature. He is on many boards including Habitat for Humanity. I hate not telling him but the problem is that, he wont realize once she is here she will never leave.

    Feeling bad, but trying to stay strong. Thoughts shared are appreciated.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome WLS. I'm sorry for the struggles with your daughter. My first response is to NOT allow her to live in your home when you are gone. Once she is in your home, removing her legally can be problematic, but more to the point, you've made your case, which is a good one, stick to it.

    Most often around here it is NOT our adult kids who change, it is US. We get to a point where spinning around in someone else's hamster wheel is unhealthy and toxic to our well being. Your daughter is completely capable of handling her own life, however, she chooses to be taken care of by you because that's the patterning you and she have developed over a long period of time. Breaking those patterns is extremely challenging and our kids usually bring in major manipulation & guilt to have things remain the way they were. It's very difficult for us parents to see thru the FOG ( FEAR, OBLIGATION AND GUILT) long enough to make a significant shift in these antiquated family strategies that no longer work. You've taken a positive step for YOUR well being and in my way of thinking, it's important to stick to your plan in these beginning stages.

    My daughter is 46 years old and I've been in your one point a number of years ago, we left for Hawaii when my daughter was in one of her homeless phases. It was not easy to do that considering the GUILT. How can I go on vacation when my daughter is homeless, what kind of a person does that? Those thoughts rolled around my head constantly. Like you I was in a fairly new relationship and I did not want to continue my enabling and codependent ways with my daughter. I left some cash on my back patio with the thought that if she called while I was gone, I would tell her to pick up the money which is exactly what happened. But that money allowed me to leave with the thought that I didn't leave her high and dry. I stepped out of my daughter's orbit after many years of enabling her and we are BOTH in much better shape today as a result. She learned not to see me as the default position to help her and I learned to say NO and stick to my commitment to my own well being.

    This is not an easy path, but it is absolutely doable. My life is 1000 times better since I made the choice to step out of my daughter's dramatic and unpredictable life and focus on my own life. And my daughter slowly changed and began being responsible for herself.

    17 years is a very long time to put your own life on hold while you care for a woman who is capable of taking care of herself yet CHOOSES not to. Her choice is not your responsibility. It is hers. You matter too. Your needs and desires and wishes and thoughts and feelings matter. Remember that your daughter is now going to do whatever she believes its going to take to get you back in the place she wants you to will require that you stay strong and keep your resolve. I would encourage you to seek out support in whatever fashion works for you. NAMI (The National Alliance on mental illness)has excellent courses for parents and may be able to offer you resources, information, guidance and support. You can access them online, they have chapters in most cities. Many of us seek out professional help in therapy which I found extremely helpful to learn how to let go and accept what I can't change. You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here and read a book called Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie. Develop a "tool box" of things you can do when your daughter brings her issues to your front door......step back from your initial 'reaction' which is patterned behavior and wait it out while new thoughts emerge in the wait time. Write here while you wait and be open to a new way of responding. Learn how to say NO and stick to it no matter what your daughter says or does.

    You're in the middle of a huge's going to take resolve on your part and for you to face the uncomfortable and fearful belief that you are responsible for your daughters life and without you something dreadful will happen. It takes time to move out of that belief and understand that not only are you NOT responsible for your daughters life, but that in taking that responsibility, neither of you will thrive.

    Go on your vacation, it's time to let go and have a life of your own. Your home is your sanctuary, protect that. You deserve to have a life of your own now. Go take it. And keep posting here, it helps. Sending you big hugs......I know how hard this is....but you can do it. It's time.
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  3. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    You did what we did. My 33 year old daughter AND her husband were largely supported by us until a few years ago. It turned her into a helpless woman who wont barely speak to us because we stopped paying for her life. She hasnt gotten better and now her worthless husband and my precious grandchild live in a very cheap apartment in a dangerous side of town. But we are out of money. We are done.

    Your daughter like mine is capable of working. Your daughter proved it. If she quits the job it is her decision.

    I think you sre doing right. You deserve a life and a good partner. Your daughter is old enough and capable enough to live on her own. So is mine. Its very hard but we have decided to let go of our daughter snd hope that God takes care of her. If need be, we will call cps for our grandson. But we wont help Lee or Kay again.Every day we struggle to keep this up but we keep going on. Be well. Trust God.
  4. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    If she does have some mild learning disabilities, she may never be able to have a big corporate job. Obviously, she has succeeded at this job, since she moved up so fast. The spinal bifada may prevent her from working at a job that is physical, so I'm glad she's at a desk job. I think she has underestimated her abilities. I wouldn't be worried about staying on disability if I were her. $30k is still considered poverty level, which is concerning.
  5. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    I agree with everything Recovering Enabler said. WE are the ones who have to change. It is up to our adult children whether they change and improve their lives or not. They are adults- they get to choose. If your daughter was going to become self-sufficient with your help she would have by now. You have gone above and beyond and it is high time you take care of YOU!!! When we first set boundaries our difficult children frequently up the ante. They can't really believe we are going to follow through. I went through it with my daughter probably 8 years ago. It was unbelievably difficult at first because I was so accustomed to focusing my energies on my troubled daughter and bailing her out. In all honesty when we do that when they are adults we are basically reinforcing their idea that they are not capable and can't survive on their own. But they can. Now when my daughter calls with a problem I tell her she's a smart woman and I'm sure she will figure it out. And she always does. Over the past 8 or so years she's straightened out her life. It's not where I would like it to be, but again, it's her life, her choices. She has maintained housing, health insurance and a job for the past 5 years. A year ago she re-enrolled in community college (where she could not finish a semester previously) and made the dean's list both semesters. She starts at the large university in our town in the fall, just 2 weeks after her second daughter is due. If I had continued my enabling ways she never would have done that. I strongly encourage you not to let your daughter stay in your home while you are away. If you do, she likely not leave. It's beyond time for her to figure things. And it's time for you to enjoy your life and be kind to yourself. Sending peace to you.
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  6. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    She doesnt need a corporate job to support herself. She has no kids or anyone to feed and house but herself. Since she is on SSI she has access to a case manager, job training and placement, medical and low income housing. My nephew has an IQ of 70 and lives independently with services. He got an apartment in a better atea than Kay and his rent is only 1/3 of his overall salary, SSI included. His utilities are covered for him. He works as a janitor. He also gets SSI.

    There is no reason your daughter, with proper supports that come wirh SSI, cant live alone and grow up. My nephew makes his bed, cleans, washes clothes and cooks. He is a sweet young man with a few friends. They like videogames too and walking around the mall. They rides bikes everywhere. Your daughter may be able to get assistance for cab rides because of her spinal bifida.

    Your happiness matters.
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  7. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    $30k is considered a living wage for a single person in the US.

    I think that if you allow her to stay in your house it will set her progress back by allowing her to quit her job without consequences. Then you will be back where you started.

    She is just now realizing that you are serious and she must take control of her life. Don’t take that away from her.

    It sounds like she is doing well!
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  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I agree with the others. $15 an hour is a living wage even here in California. Where I live there are many families of multiple people that live on way less than $30,000 a year. Will she be able to go clubbing every weekend? Maybe not. But she has demonstrated that she can do just fine, if she needs to. She has so rapidly acclimated to the job and gotten a promotion, there is every expectation she will do better and better.

    Like the others I think it would be a huge mistake to let her stay at your place while you are gone. You would be undermining her as well as yourself, I believe. Let her be.

    You've done great. It's not easy. But you're doing it.
  9. WLS

    WLS New Member

    Thank you ALL for your thoughts and support. I can't explain how helpful all of your wonderful advice and thoughts are.While I am struggling with feeling bad for her, at the same time I truly have no guilt as I know in heart that I have exhausted anything I can do for her.

    @recoveringenabler - In my move I ran across my copy of Codependent No More and it was one of only ten books I chose to keep! I will be digging it out and re-reading it. It is an excellent read and in my opinion it should be on everyone's must read short list.

    I have decided that she will NOT be staying her this next week while we are away as I agree it may open a bigger can of worms and my good intentions will run amuck.

    I texted her yesterday:
    Me: " I have not heard from you in a while, I hope things are going well for you".
    Her: " I honestly don't know what you expect me say about that".

    I did not reply as I am just trying to stay in contact without offer of assistance or advice. I couldn't even if I wanted to. I have been out of work since February due to an accident. And I am certainly NOT asking my fiance to start paying for her stuff especially when she has not even ever wanted to meet the man! Then at 9:30 last night she texted again......."

    Her: " I am probably going to jail soon as I have nowhere to go and I keep being chased away from every parking lot and if I get caught one more time people will be calling the police to arrest me. Hope this makes you happy, throwing me in the trash.

    I have NOT replied. I am sorry for her situation but it is NOT my problem and I won't fall into the trap of her trying to make me feel guilty. I honestly don't. Do I feel bad for her that she hasn't found her own way, yes. Guilty, NO !

    You all are so awesome and I am so happy to have stumbled upon this forum!

    Thank you, THank YOu, THANK YOU! :)
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    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  10. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    I would myself never text or ask a leading question such as how are you doing. I learned that this is asking for a pity party answer.

    I am more apt to text that I am thinking of her. Right now I am still blocked I think. It has honestly been more peaceful not contacting her. We took a vacation to get away and recover. We extended our vacation.

    I think if we change what we will do for them and they are used to our taking care of them, things do not stay the same. Out kids get mad and seem to often remain entitled. You have to decide if you can do this. Its in my opinion better to reneg now than to drag your SO through her drama. If you are definitely committed to your new happy life, then just do it and realize that with your daughter this is your new normal. It is okay to pick yourself first. Seems as if you are on the right path.
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  11. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    It seems to me she's earning enough money to stay in a motel. Where is her money going? I don't know why she thinks she must sleep in her car. I would be thrilled to death if I were her--suddenly working all these years after thinking she needed disability benefits.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    There are all kinds of abilities. I was born 3 months early. This has affected my nervous system, my ability to bear stress, and in subtle ways, my cognitive abilities and comprehension. My mother had the expectation that I work. I left home very early. There were times when I had nowhere to live. I went to a motel once. I slept on a couch some other times. I stayed in boarding houses. I stayed with friends several other times, paying rent there. I never slept in my car.

    Never one time did I believe my mother had the obligation to house me. I was 12 years younger than your daughter. (There was one exception when I went home to live for one year during the time I was working full time and going to school, the year I was 20.)

    That said, I believe we as parents have a role in supporting our kids to help themselves. You did that. Your daughter has not only gotten a full time job she has been promoted. She has demonstrated her ability to support herself.

    There are weekly and monthly motels. There are apartments to share on Craigslist. In big cities there are rooming houses.

    What is the result your daughter is seeking here? That you return? That you pay for her? I am not exactly clear. I understand she feels abandoned. Abandonment is a feeling as well as a reality. What is she doing to help herself deal with this feeling?

    That said, many people do live in cars for extended period, including my son. I mean, for years and years. We live in a high-cost state where in coastal areas people literally cannot afford rents that are $4000 a month or more. Without drama, people live in cars.

    Most of us are here because we have a hard time accepting how our grown children live.

    I know we would not want this for your daughter, but she has to learn that she, not you, is responsible for living her life.

    Good job, Mom.
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    WLS, the above quote is a typical response when we stop enabling. My daughter said similar things to me and for a long time it worked. When I began not reacting to those manipulations, she stopped using them. It's wonderful that you don't feel any guilt.....guilt is what ties us into the manipulations. Good for you!

    I learned this over time too. It's good advice.

    So true. Acceptance of what we can't change is how we find peace. And when it's our kids, it's one helluva journey.......yet, it is possible. My intention all these years with my daughter has been to find peace of's a work in progress.....thankfully I'm progressing. So are you WLS, good job.
  14. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    Gosh, this forum is so helpful. I hate to sound like a broken record, but.....

    I could have had the same conversation with my own daughter. Good reminder about the leading questions ha ha.

    Right now my daughter (28) is sleeping on a couch with someone I don't know. It's horrible, but it's comforting that she's not on the streets. Amazingly she has not been calling me and blaming me. Today, she's taking responsibility for the fact that she lost her apartment despite overwhelming amounts of enabling by my parents. This doesn't mean that she won't be blaming me tomorrow, But she has moments of clarity where she understands things better. This is only week 1 of being "homeless" for her. It hasn't been easy, but it wasn't easy before either.
  15. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry you're dealing with this, so many of us have been there. I have one suggestion about the texts from her ... when my Oldest used to send similar texts, I'd respond with the phone number to the local homeless intake center. I'd say something like, "I'm sorry you're hurting ... here's the number of a place that may be able to help." (or later, "you know your options, here's the number again.") You may want to think about doing the same if you hear from her again.

    Hang in there.
  16. RN0441

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

    SHE will figure it out!

    Go enjoy your life.
  17. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    This is EXACTLY what my son would do....if there was any communication with him, he might sound semi-fine, not friendly, but not asking for anything, in the first response. Guaranteed, if I didn't nibble, he would come back a few hours later with something very dramatic - always with the aim of getting $$.

    He was about your daughter's age when I found this forum. Forum members would mention a Difficult Child Handbook. I did not get it for awhile, but it sure did not take long before I understood....

    So glad you found this place. Hugs.
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  18. february

    february Member

  19. Dakota

    Dakota New Member

    I’ve stumbled upon this forum after a google
    Search on my daughter chooses to be homeless. This site is awesome! I can see so many things that I as a mom need to stop
    Doing. Thank the good Lord for everyone who writes. I feel so much more at peace knowing I’m not alone. Knowing it’s her choices not mine. Knowing I didn’t screw up as a parent.

    Whoever recommended the book, I’ll buy it and read it. We have started counseling- my daughter (20) goes tomorrow. I am not sure what she’s gonna talk about.

    Thanks again.
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  20. february

    february Member


    My son is applying for SSI, I am glad to hear they can work with SSI and not have to give it up. And they can get help with housing etc.

    I wonder if they can only work a part time due to the benefits?