Question For Those Further Down the Path Than Me


My son has only been out of the house for a month. I still believe there is drama yet to come but I feel that I have come far in setting boundaries to protect the family. Does the "self talk" ever go away or become second nature? Example, every morning I have to say to myself "If he comes to the door when I am getting ready for work, I have to say that he can't stay here when no one is home". Or other questions like "If I see him walking the streets looking sad, I have to ignore it" etc. Just wondering if it gets easier. Thanks all!


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Self talk is very helpful right now. So is writing down key responses and putting them on post its where you might need them (near the phone, on your computer)/ Stuff like "that sounds hard." "I'm sorry to hear that." "that must be hard for you" "I'm sure you'll figure it out" "no" "no" "no" "not today" "that sounds rough, but I know you'll figure it out" "no".
It does get easier. Believe it or not, eventually you will get to the point where you have hours and even days without addressing it in your head. You yourself have come through takes time to process and there are different stages. Right now you are vigilant and hyperalert. That is OK. It also ebbs and flows. Its always a set back for me when my son is on the lam, and I know I might see him in town. I relax more when I know he is in jail or hospitalized. Who thought I'd ever say THAT??
Stay close to the board. Post your thoughts. This is the power of the forum
Good luck and holding you in my thoughts today,

so ready to live

Well-Known Member
Hi Catmom. I can't say it better than Echo. The truth is, I still do a lot of self-talk because it decreases my stress to have thought out and rehearsed appropriate responses and actions. So I think through scenarios, "If this happens, I could do this" It makes me feel as if there are truly options, as opposed to "this is being done to me and I don't have any choice". That in itself is empowering, even if I never have to use it. Hold tight, this is so hard, especially at the stage you're at right now. It doesn't always get easier, but you can get better. We're here. Prayers.


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It does getbetter with time. I havent had an up close and personal problem with an adult child for ten or more years. Phone stuff only and, even so, that adult child makes a lot of money now and I dont worry about his safety. I did have one big heartbreaker when a much loved child we adopted at 6 walked out on the family, but that was so long ago and I learned to accept it. He has to do what he wants to do and I am blessed with many others wbo fo want me in their lives, including hub, fouf other kids and grands.

Life can be be very good after time. It is individual. But time is s great healer and gives time for therapy and deep thinking too. I learned i did not deserve his treatment and with time i let it go. I know I did nothong to deserve that shun.

My life is peaceful and full of love.
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Staff member
Echo said it perfectly. Yes, it gets easier, and it ebbs and flows based on circumstances. I keep a journal, and it can be helpful to look back and see how far I've come in dealing with different situations. There's an old AA/Al-Anon saying that helps me a great deal: [focus on] Progress, not Perfection. :)

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
I've been dealing with my son for close to 25 years now. Time definitely helps our coping skills become more fine tuned.
The key for me is to never let my guard down and to keep the boundaries firmly in place.
Self talk is a great tool, I'm glad you are doing that.
So is writing down key responses and putting them on post its where you might need them (near the phone, on your computer)/ Stuff like "that sounds hard." "I'm sorry to hear that." "that must be hard for you" "I'm sure you'll figure it out" "no" "no" "no" "not today" "that sounds rough, but I know you'll figure it out" "no".
Echo is spot on with this. Something about writing it down helps to cement it in your mind.

My son was arrested at the end of November. I have received some letters from him and he is very good at telling me "what I want to hear" or at least what he thinks I want to hear. I'll be honest there was a time that it worked and I believed him, not anymore.
Our adult kids are very good at spinning the "truth" and telling us all the right things. This can be dangerous waters. If I were to believe everything my son tells me I would easily be sucked back into his chaos and drama.
I keep my letters to him pretty generic. I do not offer a lot of details about what goes on in my life. I never tell him about the travels my husband and I do. Learned that lesson years ago when he was in jail a different time. His response was "how dare you go off on a trip while I rot in jail" At the time, this really messed with my mind. I allowed his words to make me feel so guilty. I had nothing to feel guilty about.
I cannot trust my son. It's a sad reality but it keeps me and my mental health safe.

I will always have some hope that "someday" my son and I might have a closer relationship but in order for that to happen he will need to show through his actions, not words, that he has made changes to his life.

I will continue to live my life and do what makes me happy and will never allow the FOG (fear, obligation,guilt) to creep back in.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I talk myself off the cliff a lot. And pray a lot for my son and for my strength.

My therapist said to "live in the moment". I am trying to remember to do that too.

I do think it's an ebb and flow for me also. I'm not sure if the good one is the ebb or the flow....


Active Member
Everything everyone has said rings true for me. Time is a great healer. There is an ebb and flow. Focusing on those who love and respect you...good advice. I don't trust my daughter either. Actions speak louder than words. One day, one moment at a time. I guard my peace. It's become precious to me. What you don't know won't hurt you. Our difficult childre chose their path. Now we can choose ours.


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Does the "self talk" ever go away or become second nature?
My thinking is often different than others'. It could be because my son has a disability. It is not only a question of his choosing to do things in such a way that may hurt me, or undermine himself, fueled by self-will. His judgment can be impaired.

There is the question to what extent I still have a role in supporting him to make better judgments or if this attempt at influence by me is for me, and can in fact, get in the way of his maturation to the extent that he is able. I am inclining to believe the latter, but I am still having this conversation with myself.

That is the nature of my self-talk.
I guard my peace. It's become precious to me. What you don't know won't hurt you. Our difficult childre chose their path. Now we can choose ours.
You have expressed the essence of the question, which I often overlook. The cost to myself,(and to him) when I continue in the mix. And the cost to me, (and to him if I do not.)

There are no clear answers. You have decided to remove yourself (or remove your son) from your environment, and to the extent that you have chosen from your life. You cannot, so far, it seems, remove him from your head. Nor can I with my own son.

For me over a period of almost 6 years I have gone back and forth in terms of where I stand. And depending upon my choices at the time, my stance towards my son has changed completely.

The moral of the story: For me there is no one position that gives me peace of mind. Out of sight, works to an extent for me, but not for my son. He does much better with support, except not good enough. Having him leave is the only real motivator that I have. When it comes to this, it is enormously painful to me; and I believe, difficult for him.

That said, for me, there is no one size fits all. Not for all times, not for all people. Not for us, not for our children, who differ in their attitudes, capacities, degree of cooperation, the extent to which they are self-destructive, defiant or dangerous.

Self-talk is a good thing. About our children, about ourselves, about our relationships. Self-talk raises questions, gives us opportunities to re-assess, makes us stronger, clearer, and surer.

Would I want to be so certain as to admit no doubt? What I want to be so safe and comfortable in my boundaries, that I allow no possibility of reconciliation? My answer for myself, is no.


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Staff member
It get's easier.

For me it's been an incremental climb out of my huge desire to help/fix/enable/love my daughter into a healthy, thriving, safe life.

With the help of many...... professionals and the wonderful warrior parents here on this site and CODA, and a Codependency course lead by therapists, and books, and CD's........ and time......I began letting go.

Each time I made a choice, it changed, I changed. And, then a new issue would arise and I would have to make another choice. Over a few years, the choices got easier. We humans are good at making our present circumstance our new "normal" that new "normal" kept changing and changing. What I couldn't even fathom one month, I was diligently doing the next.

It's the day to day stuff that can get you down, that's where real support comes in. I needed others to tell me I wasn't losing my mind, or being an awful parent, that my guilt was not real, that love didn't mean giving everything you've got to someone who doesn't value what you're giving and that I was going to be okay. It's hard for me to imagine someone going thru what we go thru here, without support of some's the hardest thing any of us will ever support becomes a necessity.

Each step was tough, but I got tougher. Each step hurt, but I got better at feeling the hurt and letting it go. Each step made me angry, but I got good at using the anger to push me forward. Each step forced me to look at detachment, and I got better and better at it......and also realized that detaching from all the drama and conflict changed big hunks of the rest of my life too......and for the better, for the MUCH better. Each step changed my connection with my daughter, and it also changed my connection to myself. Each step was hell....but I began seeing it as a spiritual awakening which could bring peace of mind and acceptance of what is.

I made my intention about finding peace of mind. I knew if I could find even glimpses of that I would be able to survive it......and perhaps even thrive.

Of course I want my daughter to thrive too, to be okay, to be safe, to be a functioning member of society. But, that is not up to me, it is up to her. That took me a few years to get to, but I did. My misery, my suffering, my enabling will not change my daughter, only she can do that. I believed the adage, "pain is inevitable, misery is optional." I made a conscious choice to be happy and peaceful.

In the meantime, life has called me back from the ledge I stood on waiting for her to change......and I'm here to tell you that you can work your way through this maze and come out the other side a whole, healthy and (mostly) joyful, grateful human, in spite of what your difficult child does or doesn't step at a time.


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There are no clear answers. You have decided to remove yourself (or remove your son) from your environment, and to the extent that you have chosen from your life. You cannot, so far, it seems, remove him from your head. Nor can I with my own son.

OK. It's time to be honest. I have not been able to remove my daughter and granddaughters mind. I think about them all the time.I dream about a Reconciliation. She contacted me recently and told me about needing to save money for a trip to our state for a court date. I didn't offer any and before the sun set that evening, I had been unfriended on fb and I haven't from her since. So for now, it's not happening. But it hurts so bad. I really miss them. I saw a pretty springy wreath she gave me last year and that got the sad feelings going. How can she be so sweet and then be so mean and hurtful? Is she mentally ill? Is she spoiled rotten? I don't understand.


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I think about them all the time. I dream about a Reconciliation.
I think this is normal. Even the mothers here who most clearly express their limits, and acceptance of their children's limits...I feel certain wish for this in their dreams.
So for now, it's not happening. But it hurts so bad. I really miss them.
What kind of person would you be, if you did not? This is your child; your grandchildren.
How can she be so sweet and then be so mean and hurtful? Is she mentally ill? Is she spoiled rotten? I don't understand.
There are two questions embedded here: one how can she be so mean to me? Then, why is she this way, what causes it?

The first, how can she do this: I think people are self-serving. Some more than others. People act to protect themselves, when they fear they have no defenses or boundaries. They act defensively to shield themselves from feeling bad, and bad about themselves. I was one of these people. I still am I think. For sure, my mother was this way and for sure my sister is.

I regret that I am this way, but looking back I think I did the best I could at the time. I suffer greatly because the person who has paid the biggest price is me. I fear your own daughter will suffer too, when she looks back.

In my own case I did not intend to be either mean or hurtful. I am not mean. But I did cause hurt.

But the thing is this: You have the choice of seeing your daughter as intentionally wanting to hurt you--or as protecting herself, because she is limited, and does not feel she has options. Maybe you can find some peace in this. By letting go the idea that she intends that you suffer. That you are hurt does not mean that she intended primarily to cause you hurt.

The second question, why? I am not mentally ill, at least with any serious diagnosis of which I am aware. I was certainly not spoiled rotten. But I distanced myself from my mother, my father and my sister. In each relationship I felt they hurt me. My father came to hate me in the last years of his life; my sister felt I withheld my love for no good reason; my mother (with whom I reconciled) to some extent understood my reasons but still could not face what she had done, that caused me to distance myself.

Even though I had my reasons, good ones, I wish I had found another way. But the bottom line is that I was not strong enough. I did not believe I had the resources to handle these relationships. While I could point to specific qualities (or lacks) in each of these people and relationships, looking back I see the lack was in me.

I wish that by telling you that it is not your fault, I could take away the hurt. But how could that take the pain away? The forgiveness and the acceptance will have to come from you (and me.)


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I realize my daughter's back is against the wall. She's had two abusive relationships and is back with the second one. She seems terrified of not having a man in her life. She has had difficulty keeping a job so money is always an issue for her. I've given lots of money through the years and I want to stop. You're right. She's not mean. It just feels like that to me. I do have compassion for her, but I can't fix it. Thank you for sharing with me. It gave me some insight into how it might be for her.


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She's not mean. It just feels like that to me.
I want you to try to hold onto this distinction, because it will make all of the difference to you. Also this:
I've given lots of money through the years and I want to stop. You're right. She's not mean. It just feels like that to me. I do have compassion for her, but I can't fix it.
You have set a clear and appropriate boundary. You do not want to give more money. You do not want a relationship with her that is founded upon manipulation or even the whiff of buying love and care.

This stance you are taking is for EACH of you: she loves you. And to love herself she needs to step up and do the right thing for herself, for you and for her kids. Because she has chosen to stay in abusive relationships does not mean you are required to support her financially or bail her out.

You are doing right!

I think part of what is bothering you may be guilt. You feel somehow that you are responsible for her being mad or for her difficulty so far making better choices. This was the kind of relationship my mother had with my sister, who milked it for all it was worth.

At the end of my mother's life when my sister felt she had extracted all she could extract, and knew that she would inherit, she completely rejected my mother. This was devastating to my mother, as she died.

My point is this: my sister would have been better served by my mother's clarity that she would not accept bad behavior; and that she would not reward it either.

My mother's sense of guilt got in the way.

Your obligation as a mother, mine too, is to set examples by our own behavior. By setting boundaries you model strength and moral fiber to your daughter, so that one day she may find that in herself. You do it for yourself, primarily, to have self-respect and self-control. But you do it for her, and for your grandchildren too.


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I happened to wake up and check messages on the site I am addicted to so I didnt read any other responses.

Hon, the pattern is that your daughter is nice when you do what she wants and cruel if you dont sustain her when she demands it. Nothing is more cruel than withholding grandchildren. Nothing. Can you think of anything more cruel? I cant.

Trying to figure out why makes us look to us and wonder if we caused it What did we do?

Nothing. Your daughter follows a classic pattern of a personality disorder. One of the most profound symptoms of borderline, if she has it, is an INABILITY to maintain long term healthy relationships with others.

Eventually she would be ticked off and cut off the person waving her fist, threatening suicide maybe or using drugs. Has she ever had a good long term relationship that she did not end vicuously? Revenge is also a sympom as is intense anger, rage, and for low functioning borderline, an inability to launch and a stubborn refusal to admit they are ever part of the problem.

It is a faulty way of thinking and sort of mentally out there, but they are not able to sustain being nice. They dont recognize gray thinking. It is black and white. In their eyes, a person is all 100% good or all 100% bad and the same person can switch back and forth. But they dont think "everyone has good, bad and mostly neutral traits." Because they cant see the gray. They also refuse to follow rules and wont. Often they liberally pepper their rage with horrible false accusations and tons of disrespectful namecalling and cussing.

It is not possible to maintain a good long term relationship with a bordetline, histronic, narcicist or antisocial person. They lack normal empathy. If you share a loving connection with dear grandchildren, and I believe you that you do, what is more cruel to you and them then to refuse to allow all of you to have a close relationship? She is holding them for ranson. Do this or all three of you suffer. She dies not even seem to have empathy for her own children. They love and miss you too, but she plays them like a yo yo.

Dont overthink your daughter. She has little to no empathy and some people are born this way it seems. I have a son thatll lacks empathy, but not so much he would keep me from my grandson. But it is there. When he speaks about how he has treated certain girlfriends, i know he is emotionally uncaring. He loves me, but has dumped all his siblings, calling them "imports" (they are adopted from various places and all of them are kind and loving. They dont like him so they dont miss him.) But what kind of person calls loving siblings imports? He is 39, not 10.

Throughout the years, my son has always been this way. I noticed this ability toward cruelty way back when he was18 months old when hed hurt other toddlers snd laugh. 18 months. He was in therapy and even in the hospital before 18 and did have anxiety disorder but that isnt it. He fits the criteria for a narcicist or at least has some traits. I keep up with him. If he never let me see my grandson, that would be it. I am going to visit this year. If he even threatened to withhold my grandson...i dont know.

I dont expect my son to suddely be a warm, empathetic person. You should also not expect a change or it will constantly hurt you. You will be supporting your daughter if you want to see your grandchildren. Do so if you want to, but dont expect it to ever be easy to negotiate with your daughter. And if you say "no" she will not be reasonable.

Your daughter is playing a sad, cruel game that serves nobody but herself snd her control and revenge. Dont excuse her because of her silly blurts about what YOU did. Nobody is perfect, but you try to be kind and loving. Thats all anyone can do.

Your daughter is different, darker and self-serving. Often like my son
I get it. Guard your heart. She comes back and is nice only when she wants something. You know this. Handle it any way you feel is best, but dont forget or let your guatd down or your heart will keep breaking. Your kind heart does not deserve to break.

I handle my son differently than my sweet children. I have no choice.

Sending you light, love and hugs Dont forget you are an important, loving soul who deserves respect and self-love. Take care of yourself.

Peace! :)
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Thank you so much cope and swot. I too wake up in the middle of the night and read this forum. It has been a life saverfor me. Yes, I do feel some guilt and with that the feeling that I can do something to makeit better. Several ladies this weekend suggested that I be the positive one and send cards or in some way reach out to her. I'm a little afraid to do that because ii feel like I'm opening the door for more hurt when I don't do what she wants. My greatest concern is my granddaughters. They are living about a thousand miles away. I do send boxes of things for birthdays, Christmas. I'll be getting another box together this week for Easter and a birthday. She does not acknowledge them so I'm hoping they get them.They did get the one I sent for Valentine's because i got to talk to them after that and they told me they had gotten it. Then she got mad again. Because they are so far away I really can't visit especially given the situation with my daughter. I will read and reread what you wrote. I keep wanting to do something to make it better. I will pray for acceptance of what is. She takes care of my granddaughters physically. They are fed and clean. She expresses love for them. But I don't know what their life is like living with the alcoholic abuser and their mother who also uses alcohol and marijuana. You're also right about her relationships. She doesn't seem to have any long-lasting ones. Nor jobs. They all start out wonderfully and then something happens and they end. Thank you again. I am having knee replacement iin a week so I will focus on that and getting stronger.


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They also refuse to follow rules and wont. Often they liberally pepper their rage with horrible false accusations and tons of disrespectful namecalling and cussing.

This happens. She was a teacher and found fault with almost everything at school, often not doing required aspects of the job. (I'm a retired teacher so I knew the things she avoided.) Interestingly, her dad did the same thing. She called me names and used the f word liberally in her conversation, even in front of her daughters when she was fussing at them. My husband, her stepdad was not allowed to take the girls alone or have them sit on his lap. He felt like she thought he was a pervert. Once he tickled her foot and once he touched a frog tatoo on her back. He loves to joke and play. I was right there, but she felt he was inappropriate. I don't know. Maybe he was. But I know him well and he didn't mean anything. If he had I don't think he would have done it with me right there. He really wanted to be a Grandpa. But yet she could take financial help from him with no problem and he was generous. He is now petrified to be around the girls for fear she will accuse him of something. He hasn't seen them in two years. When they lived in driving distance of me, I would go alone to visit them.


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Aw, hon. That was your daughter being deliberately mean again, not your husband. She made him an outsider and did it on purpose. And when you step on her feet, which half the time or most of the time, you didnt mean to do, she punishes you. People like this respond to only one thing (i have known people like this which is why i learned so much about personality disorders). They insist you do their bidding, never accidentally say anything they dont like and do everything they ask you to do. Hearing the word no will trigger cruelty. Yet, as you said, they have no real moral compass. "I dont like him so i wont take his money." Um, theyd take a true predators money if it were offered. They take, take, take and never give without conditions. Not from the goodness of their hearts.

Have you ever read "Walking on Eggshells?" It is all about dealing with a borderline in a loved one. It would spply here even if she has no diagnosis. I dont recall the aithor but if you just put the name into Amazon, the book will come up.

Sad fact: Your granddaugjters are far away and you cant help them. They can and will have to deal with Mom and the men she allows around them. They may not make it completely unscathed, but they will leave one day. Then they can start to build better lives and you can contact them. Yes, you will be old, but you will be able to explain and hug them and let them know you were always loving them. If you have assets, you can leave them for your grandchildren.

I personally would not leave much or anything to Daughter, but thats a gloomy, differrnt topic. And its your decision.

Walk with your chin up today. You did nothing wrong. This is on your daughter. If she is anything like her father, think heredity. The newest research indicates that personality disorders are inherited or part inherited. There is not much you can do about that. My son is a replica of my narcististic father. Its almost scary. It seems his kind, giving, fun childhood did not affect him in a positive way. Yet his siblings are all kind. His diblings dont share his DNA. They are adopted.

Take care of the kind heart of yours.
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Active Member
Swot, I have read Walking on Eggshells. My daughter has not been diagnosed Borderline (BPD), but she definitely has the characteristics.

We have rewritten our will. My granddaughters get her part.


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Mamacat, stay strong. I am so sorry for your pain. We are all in your corner. You are not alone. I have two grands I never met by my son who walked away. I think it is almost better that I never saw them.

In sons case, his wife has much to do with this estrangement, but he was a big boy...around 27. It was his decision to follow her lead. He is now going to be 40 and silence all this time. He has money galore so he doesnt need anything frim us. I think the ones who have money and walk away are less likely to ever come back. They dont need anything from us. Any letters, gifts, etc i sent to try to mend whatever I did (I was never given a reason) were met with silence. So I know how you feel. Took two years of intense therapy to be able to put one foot in front of the other and smile again with a full heart saved me from giving up. I realized i was being selfish, that others loved snd needed me to enjoy life again...that Son is not my whole life. Nobody else is our life.

I had a private ceremony to let him go. Candle and all.

I did actually recover thanks to my dear husband and other children. Do lean on other family and friends eho live you. My life is great. Yours can be too. You just have to allow yourself happiness!!
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