Put the detachment in motion - and the gaslighting begins.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by mcdonna, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. Snow White

    Snow White Temporarily in the Magic Kingdom

    I did it (although it is not with happiness that I post this). I searched and reviewed so many threads here to put together my email response to daughter, who is demanding a flight back home from Asia. It took me 3 days to put together a solid email that we will not waver from - using many ideas and phrases from all of you (thank you). I set our limits - no more money, no more bail, no flight tickets, no more being the resource person for every crisis, no moving back home unless in treatment.

    Got the email response this morning. As expected, the gaslighting started and an excerpt of it reads (my comments are in red):

    "Love isn't abandonment. Love isn't neglect. Love isn't painful. Love ISN'T ABUSE. You're truly insane. And as many friends have said over the years - you need serious help if you think you've done any form of "parenting" that hasn't left me with severe damage that I'm now being forced to work through - not only in my relationships but in every area of my life (none of these "friends" are giving her money, food, accommodation, jobs, medical care. They buy her alcohol and drugs).

    You sit there and pretend to be the adult but you have abandoned me EVERY SINGLE TIME I have needed something (see next sentence). You send money, AFTER you belittle and complain (I tell her she needs to get a plan and that I am not her personal ATM) towards me. And THEN I don't hear from you for weeks, sometimes months. That's called neglect. Another form of abuse.

    I have seen therapy, thank you very much. And I am dealing with my issues.

    But your idea of love is manipulation and making me believe I'm not worth love.
    I don't want you in my life anymore. I will find a way out of this. But you disgust me.
    Goodbye. And good riddance."

    This is the usual response I receive (flavored with a lot of accusations and foul language which I haven't included here) when I start to stand my ground but this is also where I usually cave in and start having a dialogue with her to get her to see that we love her but not her behaviors, which leads to a tolerable stand-off where daughter gets what she wants and I feel temporarily comforted that she is safe and not raging.

    My question now is: Do I respond at all to her email? Part of me now wants to say to her that if she has "seen therapy and is dealing with her issues", then why has nothing changed? She still has no plan, no job, no money, has escalating violence that recently saw her arrested and in jail for 3 days in a foreign country. Coming home will not not change that.
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I would not respond at all. You already stated your feelings and intentions in the email you sent her. There is nothing more to say.

    If she continues to email or text you with this garbage, block her. There is no reason, since you will not be acting on any of this garbage, to even see it if it upsets you or causes you second thoughts.
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  3. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    If you respond, simply tell her that you love her and believe in her ability to figure out things for herself,and that she is an independent adult.
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  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't respond to it. Less is more. She is very nasty to you...why prolong this dialogue?
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  5. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    Hello Mcdonna,
    You have made a first important start and impact. Stick with it this time. The email from your daughter does not require a response immediately or even at all. Wait several days or weeks. Take one day at a time and the months take care of themselves. I often remind myself to "Slow ... way ... down."
    Not a good idea, in my opinion, to respond with this detail. She already knows this is how you feel. Let this part of you go ... Let go of this part of you that wants to keep holding on with your own opinions, questions, implications, etc. It just fuels her fire and gives her more ammunition. I would not respond back to her with any comments to engage further petty dialogue. It will do no good. This will continue your engagement / not your start at detaching. Your loving detachment (by the way, detachment is a loving thing to do!) is not abandonment. It is giving the other person and yourself the personal freedom for their own lives.

    If you do feel an urgent need to respond to acknowledge your daughter’s email, wait several days, and then limit it to briefly state a one sentence affirmation, such as the following ideas bulleted below, which will not only send her a message of your new resolve, but reinforce your own new mind-set and commitment that you are detaching and are setting her free to spread her own wings.

    I’ve found these very short standard canned response phrases can help. If you absolutely have to respond, it will be sufficient for a short acknowledgement and a verification of your new strong stand. Just send a one sentence reply, such as:
    • I’m sure you will work it out, and figure out a plan for your life.
    • I'm sure you'll find a way to get work and take care of your life. I've got to run - take care!
    • You're a lovely, smart, capable girl; I'm sure you'll figure something out. I’ll keep you in thoughts and prayers. Take care.
    You are not alone. We support you. Stay strong. It is not easy, but gets easier as you keep your stand and see the results. You know you and your daughter cannot continue in the same way any longer.
    This is a new beginning. A new day ... Ka la hou
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    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  6. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi McDonna, Welcome!

    She is claiming that your parenting left her with severe damage, if that were true then why in the world would she reach out to you. She says that she is forced to work through it. Forced by who?
    Here's the thing, no one on this planet had a "perfect" childhood and while it's easy to blame the parents or someone else we all get to be an adult and at that point we get to choose how we will live our lives. You are right, your daughter is gas lighting you. I'm glad you are not buying into it.

    Well Hallelujah!! She says it right here that she's dealing with her own issues. That being said, she has no reason to ask you for anything.

    Here again, she says she will find a way out of her situation. Very typical of a difficult child to say such mean and hurtful things.

    As for you responding to her, if it were me, no way! It would be my guess that she's counting on you responding. It's a game our difficult kids will play; say mean and hurtful things to our parents to make them feel bad and tell them we want nothing to do with them. They are counting on us to feel guilty and worry about not seeing or hearing from them again. They are counting on our emotions to break and then we the parents will give into their demands.

    It's good to distract yourself at times like these. Go out and do something for yourself.

    Let us know how things go.

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  7. jude-in-nj

    jude-in-nj Member

    I would not respond.. But if you do I would keep it short and I wouldn't bother addressing any of her accusations.
  8. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    She pushes y o ur buttons...even though you know this you have fed into it.

    Guess what, no more! Your love you offer is help through treatment...she doesn't want it.

    You have been strong..be good to yourself.
  9. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I agree with the others. You don't want to go back and forth engaging her in any way. She knows in the past she can behave like this and you send money. That's why she's going to write those things. It's not working now so she may even up her game and send you worse emails, waiting for you to cave in and send her money. You're helping her now, she can, will, and has to, figure out things herself. Be strong, she'll get there and come back to you.
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  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with everyone, don't respond.

    "this is also where I usually cave in and start having a dialogue with her to get her to see that we love her but not her behaviors, which leads to a tolerable stand-off where daughter gets what she wants and I feel temporarily comforted that she is safe and not raging."

    That's your pattern with your daughter, she knows it too, so she will be expecting that response from you.......this is the next step in detaching, do not respond to nasty communications......REFRAIN. And, keep on refraining. She will likely contact you once she realizes the pattern no longer works and it may get even nastier as she has to confront her own consequences. Stay strong. Keep posting.......you're doing well and often it doesn't feel very good as you change your own behavior. Hang in there.....
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  11. Snow White

    Snow White Temporarily in the Magic Kingdom

    I do not know how to thank all of you for your responses. Husband and I tried to keep busy yesterday. Our son and his good friend were replacing our roof this weekend. We did the 'ground work & cleanup work. Took my mom grocery shopping. Had a nice BBQ dinner and then went to watch son play hockey (plays on a 'beer league' team with my brother). Part of me felt "guilty" that we enjoyed a nice evening but at the same time, we found some happiness and satisfaction in that we are getting things done around the house/yard that have been neglected because of daughter's dramas.

    I know it's going to get worse - daughter is not going to easily take "NO" for an answer. I will do my best to see this through, using the tools you have advised.

    Thanks for the 'lifeline'...it is really needed!
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  12. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    Keep strong...you deserve to have good days, normal dinners and joy!
  13. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    An adult does not have the right to make demands regardless of who they are. You did your job. She needs to do hers.
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  14. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I agree with the others. In my opinion, she is just baiting you. A response will only give her grounds for debate. Plus, as an adult, if she can't talk to you respectfully it doesn't even warrant a response. I agree with the others too in that you will probably see her ramping up before she quits.

    What you are doing is very, very hard so hang in there. You're doing great!
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  15. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Well at least you daughter tries to manipulate you my son say ok and still does what he wants.
    No arguing or nothing he agrees with me so he can get me of his back and does what he wants. Less stressful but still the same result nothing.
  16. RN0441

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


    I agree with the others. I wouldn't answer her.

    I don't know how long you've been dealing with this with her, but I know I'm going on six years with my son - different but similar and sad to say but more often than not I'm beginning to wish he'd just go away.

    It's just exhausting. Our adult "children" need to live their own lives and quit the demands, manipulation and suckling.
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  17. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    Along with the others, I agree you are doing the right thing.

    The excerpts from the email sound so much like my Difficult Child. Oh my goodness. Just like him. and, yes he definitely ramped it up once he could tell his dad and I weren't contributing another penny. He warned us that an email was going out to EVERYBODY telling them what rotten folks we were--and sure enough one soon followed. He sent it to my mother, his father's sister, acquaintances. It was just nuts.

    Folks here urged me to do something for husband and myself each and every day. That advice helped us a lot. It gets much easier with time.

    Your daughter is expecting you to crumble. She will likely keep jabbing, trying to hit a vulnerable spot...something/anything to make you teeter.

    People here joked that if my Difficult Child would spend as much time working on himself as he did crafting hateful emails, he could have been enjoying a good life.

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  18. worried sick mother

    worried sick mother Active Member

    I agree with everyone, do not respond. Remember the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. You've changed this time so hopefully you will get different results with your daughter. Stay strong!!!
  19. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    What an ugly series of messages from your adult daughter. People do not have the right to lash out that way.
    I agree that disengaging and not responding is the healthiest thing to do here, especially as you have gone round this wheel before and know how it goes (you placate and persuade, she softens, you give her what she wants and all is off crisis mode till next time the wheel turns).
    My initial reaction was to flash back to when my daughter (NOT my Difficult Child, although she had a good run at competing for that role) accused me in a teenage fight with me of being toxic. It took the wind right out of me..I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. Somehow I managed to respond with "if that is true then your best hope of a good life is to figure out how to not let my toxicity poison you. Your happiness lies in your own hands."
    I still think that is true. When our Difficult Child's start blaming us for ruining our lives, that is a place to go to. If we are toxic, if we ruined them, then their path is to find a way to protect themselves from us as best they can. Good luck with that.
    My second reaction is that you might do what I often do, which is hit delete. If you feel you need a copy to refer to, print it and hide it so you can't pore over it. I delete all kinds of unpleasant things from my text and phone. I don't like to see it there. I don't like it to catch my eye when I'm looking at something else. I like deleting it. Try it!
    My third reaction..you are strong and brave and doing really really well. And you got some great advice. Hold firm. See where this goes. There is a lot of time for it to play out. You do NOT need to respond to her in anyway.
    Good luck, I will hold you in my heart and head.
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  20. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    I know your post is several months old. How did you make out. We are on the verge of having our Difficult Child leave our home and know we will have to wade through the same guilt and accusations.