Power struggles

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WiseChoices, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Things are awful between my daughter and I. I no longer recognize the beautiful, sweet young lady she used to be. There is something very very wrong.

    My family, husband included, lived like pigs while I was gone for a month and I cleaned one month worth of dirt in my house today.

    Daughter was nice again last night after I told her I would not do billing or give rides to therapist I will not deal with. She got upset initially which I understand. She made dinner for everyone and acted normally even with me. Husband agreed to take her to pharmacy as she had convinced psychiatrist to change her Prozac to Effexor and after 1-2 weeks or so , she feels it is not working for her and she called the Prozac in. (We have been through these scenarios many times). The pharmacy was closed.

    I reminded her this morning that today was cleaning day and I wanted her to do her part (which takes 10 minutes). She said she was aware of that. Stayed holed up in her room all day. Every time she came out and ate or drank something , she left it out and I reminded to clean up after herself which she reacts grumpily to - at one point throwing a measuring cup past me into the sink filled with water.

    Emerging from room again suddenly pleasant suggesting we play Scrabble later. I said it was a nice idea and maybe we could. (All the while I am cleaning)

    Emerging some time later, she wants to bake for her study group at school and we are out of butter. She says we can buy butter when we go pick up medications. (This means I would pay for butter)

    10 minutes later she comes out again and asks when we will pick up medications. I tell her when she will get her cleaning done, we can go. She says she prefers a less manipulative option. I shut up and continued cleansing. She walked off.

    Comes out again. Speaks to me firmly "Look. I have a lot of school work today and I don't have time to clean right now. If I don't get my medications , I will go into withdrawal." I try to be reasonable and say that she could have just told me that this morning. And I ask at what time it would get done. I say she wants something from me and I want something in return . She rambles on about me not being home this evening (not sure what that has anything to do with anything) and to get her attention, I say her name. She retorts with mine and not in a nice way. I tell her I will only continue to talk when she is calm. She says she is calm and calm and wasn't even yelling. I tell her I don't like her tone and she says I never do and walk off again.

    Everything is a power struggle . Please tell me of you feel I am contributing to power struggle or if I am being unreasonable here. I feel I am being manipulated but also feel confused. Am I being too difficult? Too hard?

    She is acting like an addict in my opinion. They may all be prescribed antidepressants, but she has 4 of them right now including an antihistamine. If she is telling the truth. I don't know whether she got Ativan or not since husband did not check. She is not acting right. Do I ask to see the 4 bottles she got the other day?

    I feel like I am going crazy and that lets me know she is manipulating me and that something is off. Her arm looked like she had reopened some previous cuts while I have been away and it looked very recent - maybe last night. She had been in long sleeves on video chats and when I got home. Today it is short sleeves like she wanted me to see.

    I am starting to feel like I cannot live in the same house with her anymore.
  2. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    So, now, 30 min later she came out and did her chores. Took her 10 min. So the whole thing about school work was b.s. like I thought. She also asked to move the first aid kit into her bathroom "in case she needs a bandaid" (eluding to her cutting!) "since we lock our bedroom now (had to ask she keeps going in without asking taking my clothes and not returning them and going through my pictures etc). I said "sure" ND I am very aware that she using her cutting to get a charge out of me. This is so manipulative and cruel.

    Should I refuse to aid the cutting by refusing band Aids?
  3. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Ok, no Ativan. I am not proud of it but I checked her room when husband took her to pharmacy just now. She is cutting again. So many prescription bottles all lined up in her book shelf . And I did peak into her diary and there is a pot reference so she smoked pot no doubt with her best friend. I had suspected it. And on another page it said I want to drink and get high. She locked her room before she left!
  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    No. That's unnecessary. But why are you buying her personal products? Is she in the position where she has no personal funds? I don't see how somebody her age can operate without an allowance of some sort. But then why would somebody her age have an allowance? She is capable of working.
    I am tired just reading these posts. This is like a fencing match. Why does your daughter have the prerogative to a running commentary of insults of you? You are the parent. You provide her with a home, food, support, money, school...and she feels entitled to monitor and correct your behavior; and does not feel obligated to clean her messes or contribute to the household in any way.

    Perhaps my understanding of this is colored by my experience with my son, but I don't see this getting better under the current conditions.
    This is ridiculous. I would strongly suggest to her that she needs to come up with another lifestyle choice, if her current option does not work for her. And her current option is: you are her slave and whipping boy. And she is the princess on the float, interrupted only by the intervals when she whips you into shape.
    I think you are. But a lot of it is being set up by her. This is her MO. And there's no way around it. You are only playing the only role you are allowed in the current set up.
    I had written a post last night which got erased, where I broached this. I asked why she was no longer living at school and whether you had considered setting a date for her to move out. Right now your daughter gets all of her power through you and through her various symptoms and medications. This is her powerbase. No matter what the downside of her being at school, it seems being home is not good. For you or her. The intensity of the struggle. The fact she does not let up. Her dependency upon you. Which she uses as a weapon. being ill and symptomatic, which she uses as a weapon. How could this be good?

    She is within the age bracket for Job Corps. This is a federally funded jobs program where they house and feed and train young adults vocationally. They are supervised. But it is the real world. They accept people with problems. My son went and he completed the program. I would suggest she return to college or consider a program like Job Corps, or a residential treatment program. I would give her no other option.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  5. RN0441

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

    I am sorry for what you are going through. It is exhausting.

    I get very exhausted at times also by trying to always overthink things. I finally figured out WHY I am always so tired. I live with two men that are very much alike (husband and son). There is a lot of teasing going on back and forth between the two of them and they ask me to be the ref. No thanks.

    I just hired a cleaning service. After living here one year I decided that my time is more valuable than to spend time cleaning. I do work full time also. We have a lot of sand here and the house is perpetually dusty and it's nerve wracking. I also have two small dogs that drag in sand. The cleaning people will come every three weeks (to keep cost down). My son does his own room (not as good as I'd like) but the rest of the house will be cleaned. I can keep up in between. Is this an option for you just to help you de-stress?

    My son was cutting also when he was 15 and it totally freaked me out. He was using drugs at that time. It was a very scary and confusing time for me. He was embarrassed by it also which was kind of ironic. The psychiatrist he was seeing at the time minimized and said "they all do that". I still don't know what he meant to this day. He may have meant people that are using drugs/people that aren't thinking right? I don't know.

    I know you had mentioned on another thread that she doesn't want you in her therapist business but I would demand to know what prescriptions she is taking in MY home. I'm a Natzi when it comes to that sort of thing and I would need to know what is going on. It's easier NOT to fight with her over that but I probably would and it would be a very upsetting situation most definitely. I do not think you would be out of line at all. That is probably where I would start with all of this.
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  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think RN's situation and yours are different. Her son went through an intensive program which was nearly a year long. He committed himself to recovery and he followed through. He transformed himself morally and socially. He matured. He came home humble and focused.

    Your daughter has not engaged in anything similar. She seems to refuse to own up to any responsibility for herself beyond her schoolwork. This is not a criticism. But I don't see your daughter in any way trying to make this work for anybody but herself, according to her (presently) skewed value system, which is to consume medication, seek sympathy and controlling others.

    I would not rule out that she has some kind of substance abuse problem, but I think the main issues here are immaturity, self-indulgence, and seeking power over others in ways that are covert and destructive. This is what has to change. She needs to get into another environment where she can't do this anymore. No other environment besides in your home would accommodate her in the manner she seeks to impose. This to me is what needs to stop. What will give her the incentive and impetus to change while she is at home?

    The horses are already out of the barn. What would rein her in, her caustic and totally disrespectful speech. I went through this too. There is no way my son would have curbed this without having to leave, suffering, and maturing some. He still does it occasionally but nowhere near like in the past.

    Your daughter wants independence. She wants to mature. She is capable. She has great strength. Right now all of this is twisted up like a corkscrew and turned against herself and you. Help her shoot straight. And not at you.
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    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  7. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Even though your daughter is on medication does not negate the fact that she can still manipulate you. Yes, you are most definitely in a power struggle with her. I think it's great that she has some chores. If she is going to live in your home rent free then she needs to do something to aid in the upkeep of the home. This is where clear and defined boundaries are a must. Good for you in standing firm and not giving into her. Always bear in mind that if she can get you to bend to her will just once, she will continue to try and get you to do more and more for her. Your expectation of her doing some cleaning is very reasonable.

    GOOD!! You have every right to check her room. It's your house not hers. She is simply borrowing the bedroom while she stays in YOUR home.

    Again, your daughter is an adult and you are allowing her to stay in your home. She really has no expectation of privacy. Considering what she has put you through, I understand why you peeked at the diary. However, you can never let on to her that you did that and I don't think I would make a habit of it.
    Now, you say she locked her room before leaving. The only way I would allow an adult child to lock a room in my house is if they were paying rent and abiding by all house rules.
    When and where did the lock on the room she's staying in come into play?
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  8. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    Do you think she might do better living on campus? If you believe she's cutting just to get at you, that must be very hurtful. Maybe a 3-day hold would show her that cutting is not a game. Maybe then her medication would be adjusted and the doctors could convince her to see a different therapist.

    It's interesting how almost nobody was a cutter when we were in school. Now, it seems so widespread.
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  9. louise2350

    louise2350 Member

    Good luck, Wise - I've been down this road before with my d.d. in her teens - it's so stressful. Maybe you could work something out where she can live away from home. It would probably do her some good learning to live on her own and she'd appreciate you more. Thank God I never went through this with my other two daughters. Take care of yourself.
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  10. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    She has never worked, is 100% dependent upon us. While I was away, she did one of my jobs for me and I paid her $20 per each (4x). She is vaping now (again her best friend does) and bought that. I will not give her an allowance at her age. She is 21. She can work. I do agree that I need to stop paying for personal items except the bare neccessities. I need to start saying no. She goes shopping with me every week and it's always "can I have this" . I will need to start saying that until I get some respect , the answer is no.

    Husband does not want to send her back to dorms. It is so expensive. She is finishing up her degree. Next semester is her last. Husband thinks with tough love we can "break her" (his words). He suggested mentioning to her that I would like her to live elsewhere and he thinks that might wake her up a little .
  11. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I don't work much outside of my home, so o would not hire a cleaning lady right now, but I will hire one the next time I go on my trip (in 6 months) and have her come clean while I am away. Hub just whines how much work there is when I am gone, so I will just set it up and pay for it before I go. That way I come home to a clean home.

    The cutting is horrible. I sympathize so much with any parent who has had to see their child do that.i agree the mental health profession has very weird ideas in terms of cutting. My daugthers psychiatric only asked her whether she was sterilizing the equipment not come up with tips how to resist the urge. It is interesting because my daughter has quit cutting several times and it seems easy for her to Do. She is very strong willed. She had stopped for months before I left. She knows how awful it is for me and always makes sure I know when she is doing that again.this time I will not say a single word about it. I have become numb to her. She is not even reaching my heart anymore.
  12. RN0441

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

    Yes I had to harden my heart in so many ways toward our son and I do hate that but it was something I had to do.

    I think it's very odd that the professionals think it's "normal". I'm glad to hear that our doctor was not the only one. I know my best friend's daughter did it for a while when she was young and was suicidal and now she is a married, VERY well adjusted RN at a major Chicago hospital making a boatload of money. You'd never suspect she was not always 100% together.....so that gives me hope I guess that these kids can turn it around.

    We always question if we are doing the right thing parenting wise. That is what makes me exhausted. I mull over it all in my head. It's almost like adult onset ADD. Funny but not funny.
  13. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    She just started locking it some months ago when she was cutting. I told her I did not want her door locked and she stopped locking it but now after my trip, she started locking again.

    I will not make it a habit to look at her diary.it told me what I suspected that she smokes pot now after telling me for years that she would never do drugs. And now it's already morphed to "I want to drink and get high". I figured her best friend was into it. We have a mission here in town and I need to contact them to know what to do in case I need to drop either one of my kids off there.

    It's interesting because her best friend's Mom also smokes pot for her Chrons and she has been on Prozac for her entire adult life. The Mom started giving her daughter her Prozac when daughter felt depressed. And the therapist my daughter likes also smokes pot. Daughter has always said she felt more at home with her best friends family than with us .
  14. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Not bad idea. It might come to that. I did tell her before I left when she threatened me with suicide that I would call 911 if she threatened tayt again. I said I take it very seriously.
  15. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    Wise, she is living with you so I am sure that makes a difference, but I would not get that involved in my daughter's mental health care or medications if this were me. I know myself. I would think that In the end, once she is out of the house, your daughter will take benzos if she wants. She may even rebel against your wishes just to spite you and hide her benzo bottle and take it. Benzos are cheap.

    On the other hand, I have no first hand experience. Kay refused all therapy and drove her own car. I never paid for therapy or had to drive her places.

    Okay, so we stupidly bought her cars....not smart at all, in retrospect. But at least we were not overly involved in every aspect of her life. And that was good since she was making both of us sick. Literally. The housing and cars cost us so much and made her more entitled, but we did get a break from her! And we needed one. If she had lived with us, I don't know if either of us would still be alive.

    It is not really in my or my husband's nature to respond to nastiness so we would probably ignore nasty retorts. I know we did with Kay. Doesn't mean it didn't hurt, but it didn't give her ammo to add to her nastiness. I believe that less is more. Kay never heard smart advice anyway.

    If there is any way to get her out of the house, maybe that would be best? I would have hated being Kay's jailer and Target of abuse.

    Wise, pray a lot and work on the steps. I go back to Step 3 a lot! Hugs and do take care of yourself. Please don't let this child affect your health. Remember that God is watching all of you.
  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    While I was out doing an errand, I thought of your situation. I wondered if I was remiss, in not supporting you just to ignore her. I think I didn't because I didn't believe it would work. I don't believe you can make somebody treat you as you deserve. It has to be voluntary. I think we can set limits over how much we expose ourselves to hurt or mistreatment. But I don't believe we can change people who have no incentive to change. But as I thought longer about this, I am feeling differently.

    First, let me get this out of the way. The hard part here is that we are their parents and we have a desire to help them and to insulate them from harm. So we subject ourselves to their misbehavior. Until we stop.

    If you withhold support or help to her...to motivate her to change how she treats you she would be right to say you're manipulating, I think.

    I can see your situation. If there is only one more semester it makes sense to just hold your breath and get through it, knowing that you will shortly have more wiggle room after she completes college. This is a goal that is important to you. And why shoot yourselves in the foot, by moving her out and having to pay $15,000 more or whatever the dorm would cost.

    So. Thinking this through maybe your best bet is to think of this in terms of your goals and what you need. And try to ignore her. It sounds like your priority is that she finish school. It sounds like you need less conflict. It sounds like you need to feel you're acting from integrity. What if you keep this simple and pare down your needs to this?

    I think the fewer things there are to fight about the better. If she fights you about money, and this is a source of conflict, could you see your way through to giving her an allowance, just for these next 6 months? That would cover her transportation, co-pays, personal products, etc. What I hate is the constant badgering and blaming and begging. Or is there somebody (besides you and your husband) who could dispense the money, if she is irresponsible?

    I just don't see her right now getting a job just because you insist. She will fight you. She will drag her feet. She will insult you. She will sabotage. Do you really need this battle, if it's a question of months before she finishes school? Maybe the most realistic goal right now is that things calm down, and that people put their long knives away. You are in the home stretch.

    I think I would also try to minimize conflict about the therapist. Let her do whatever she wants. Just let go. Say to yourself, 'ho hum," this is boring me.

    There used to be an intervention in psychotherapy called "strategic" what was just letting go. Think of two people holding two sides of a long rope, each pulling in different directions. And then one of them lets go. What happens? Without the resistance from the other person pulling, the lone rope puller falls down on their behind. They lose the possibility of the "win." And fall all over themselves. This is what I would try to do with daughter. Let her fighting you result in her falling down on her butt, so that she gets her own attention. And you? Put down your end of the rope. The psychologists got this principle from martial arts. The idea of using your opponent's own force against him. But harnessing it for your own aims.

    With respect to the allowance. I am not saying it's right for her to get an allowance from you if she is capable of working. But if she has to ask you for every single thing, that's a lot of conflict. For you. And she is doing not one thing to make this easier. Every single request she uses to beat you up. I don't think it is wrong to think about your needs here. How you can make this easier for you?

    You are no longer parenting a young child here who you can teach and shape and reinforce. She is an adult and she is responsible for herself, or should be. I am contradicting myself here. Because I am a firm believer that we never lose the obligation as parents to model morality and integrity. But I think we need to be realists, too. And not go down with the ship. Your daughter seems dead bent, in winning on every point. It's like hand to hand combat. Sometimes we have to pick our battles. And that that is the lesson and principle we impart to our child. It's not surrender. It's wisdom.

    This is what I mean:
    I would keep your eyes on the ball, and not get distracted by her. You gain nothing by getting into it with her. You can't change her. Control her or cure her. (Smile.) I would think about what makes this easier and more tolerable for you. This is not only self-preservation. It's modeling boundaries to her by not engaging with her in a destructive tit for tat. Because she's not open to your communication either by word or deed. She is engaging only for combat. That's what I think.

    I do think you should not compromise in ways where you would compromise your deepest values. That's for sure. I think it makes sense to identify what those inviolable values would be. But I don't think these should be about controlling her behavior. Nor do I think it should be about power and authority. I agree with you. It's about your integrity. Not about her.​
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  17. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    On cutting, my very best friend, who would be well into her 60s were she still alive, used to cut. Badly. She needed serious therapy to quit. She isn't the only cutter I know of from my day. There was no internet or understanding of mental health. Nobody heard of cutting then... or domestic abuse or child abuse. But they all happened. How much happened is a guess.

    Things are more out there now.

    My friend had also been sexually abused by family and beaten up by her mother. And nobody intervened or even knew. That was in the 1960s. Just because bad things were not biroadcast, and people kept atrocities to themselves, does not mean these things are new. I don't believe any of this is new. It's just out there now for all to see, read and talk about. There is less shame or blaming of the victim or sick person now.

    Blessings to all.
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    So. With her money she gets to buy her recreational drugs. And your hard-earned money goes to pay for essentials, including her personal items, and copays.

    This is like my son last month. I knew he didn't have the money to pay for food for the month, so I said, OK. For this month don't pay me rent. Because I hate the begging that goes on when he doesn't have money. So. What does he do? Buys marijuana with this windfall, without recognizing or uncaring that it was my money he was using, to buy it.

    We are not going to change this type of behavior. But we can learn from it. I am rethinking what I wrote above, where I went against what I believe and suggested an allowance to minimize conflict. I want you to have a moment's peace. But how could you live with this? That she would use your money to support a vaping habit. Honestly. I seldom am without words. But I have none here.

    I guess it's too close to home.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  19. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I agree with this ! Ignore the nastiness and keep restating my boundary ."I will take you to the pharmacy when the chores are done". I will stay completely out of her business. I will no longer ask any questions and I will not initiate conversation. My friend did this with her daughter when daughter was very disrespectful to her , and it worked like a charm. I will not ask to spend any time and will go shopping by myself as much as possible (this week she has a psychiatric appointment again and I shop that day and we live 20 miles from stores. Every time she wants a favor, there will be an equal request from me.
  20. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I think we can only learn to enforce our own boundaries. The rent is due. It is a requirement to live here. I think I have to let them practice real life as much as possible while still living at home .If you don't pay rent to a landlord, you lose your place.

    I have told my daughter that I would sigh my car over to her when she graduates. We did the same for son (who of course messed up this deal for himself). She will need to pay for the title transfer, gas, insurance, and repairs .I am hoping this will give her incentive to get a job while doing all online classes next semester. And once she has her degree, I already told her I would not be paying for medications anymore.

    I have taken back by car and my rule that nobody drives my car but me. This severely limits her with places to go and the way she is treating me,I won't give any rides other than to psychiatric and school. I am hoping that these measures will all let her see that working is inevitable.

    I think you are right about trying to force her to change towards me. I can't change anyone. So rather than saying I won't pay for anything until I get some respect, I will just say no. She will figure it out. No is a complete sentence and I will start making use of it.
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