Saying NO and setting Boundaries

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Tanya M, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Saying "NO" can be uncomfortable and can create feelings of guilt or you feel that the person is going to hate you.
    Saying "YES" when you really don't want to will leave you feeling frustrated, resentful and even angry.
    By not having clear boundaries and being able to say "NO", we are creating a cycle that can be difficult to get out of. We are also causing harm to the relationship and our own well being.
    We cannot allow the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) to rule over our emotions.
    The quotes below speak so much truth.
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  2. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Tanya,
    Thanks for sharing on Saying NO and setting boundaries. I'm doing better but still struggle with the FOG. For instance my 30 yr. old son who lives in his car, does have severe anxiety but isn't working, can't "seem" to find a job (doesn't want a job but would rather have me support him) and blames everything on me and usually vomits on me verbally and has not contacted me for only 2 days and my mind goes in a million different directions worrying. Instead, of taking this brief reprieve I find myself thinking "is he OK"? Has he gone off the deep end and done something to himself (not that he ever has) but he sent me a two line apology e-mail prior to his falling off the edge of the earth two days ago. Telling me he's sorry for everything he's done and he knows he can't ever makeup for it. It didn't sound like a good-bye e-mail but he's not usually "nice" to me so all the committees in my head start up a story! So you see even when I get what I want for my 30 yr. old son to start taking care of himself and not contacting me every single day (multiple times) I have to worry and feel bad. Ugh..
     
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  3. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    So much yes to this! I read everything I could about boundaries and detachment when I first started dealing with my difficult daughter as an adult. It was hard at first- I had ALL the boundaries- but once I figured it out it changed every aspect of my life for the better. I just had never been taught these important self-care skills, and like so many moms I was easily manipulated into guilt and shame. I still struggle every now and then, but overall I'm pretty good at setting and maintaining my own boundaries. It helps me look at situations more objectively and removes some of the emotion that used to catch me up in the past. Boundaries, people- get them, enforce them! You will never regret it.
     
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  4. RN0441

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

    Setting boundaries is one thing but reinforcing them is another!

    With our son home since November of last year, we're finding that we do have to reinforce boundaries on a regular basis. I do not like this since he is 23 and will be 24 soon but he started using at 15 and was sent to another state at 20 for sober living etc. (big fail until he went to a faith based program) so we are trying to find our happy place being a family again.

    I do look forward to the day when he can be out on his own. That way, it's not my problem anymore. Adult children should NOT live at home. For some it is probably good but not mine.

    Thank you for the reminders!
     
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  5. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    Yes, when my daughter briefly moved back in with me some years ago after I had learned to set and maintain boundaries it was very difficult. She attempted to push and manipulate as she had always done, but I held fast. It was what ultimately led to me kicking her out. She refused to comply with the basic rules we agreed upon when she moved in, so she was out. I don't envy you RN, it's so hard having them live with you as adults. Sending you peace!
     
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  6. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    It's a process to get to place of acceptance and to not be in a constant state of worry. I've been where you are. My son had times where he has been downright evil towards me. If I hadn't heard and or read the things he said, I wouldn't have believed that my one and only child could be so hateful towards me. There was a time I was too afraid to tell him no and I let that fear overcome and control me. I wish I would have found this site so many, many years ago. I truly feel had I known just how many other parents were dealing with the same crap and had I been privileged to the sage advice within these pages, I truly feel I could have saved years of worrying and also lots of money.
    One of the hardest but also best things I ever did for myself was to really and truly accept the fact that my son could die and I may not ever know. It's a hard reality but it's just that, a reality that could happen due to the way my son chooses to live. The longest I have gone without hearing anything from my son was over a year.
    I will always love him and I will always hold him in my prayers but gone are the days of allowing him to hold my emotions hostage. My son still wants to blame me and my husband for how screwed up his life is but I'm better equipped now in my response. Now, I tell him, "I have zero power or control over your life. Your life is what it is because of the choices you have made"

    JPG, you will get to a place of peace as long as you work towards that goal.
    I'm so glad you are here with us.
     
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  7. newstart

    newstart Active Member


    Tanya, Just what I needed to read today. Thank you. Because I am a people pleaser I have had a lot of problem saying NO. I do feel better when I say it but not after feeling weird for a while. I have to learn how to get comfortable with the feeling of saying NO and not feeling weird afterwards. This should apply to all areas of our lives.
     
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  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Boundaries are like sunscreen, you need to reapply often! :)
    Had to inject a little humor.

    Taking on a new "habit" is just as hard as breaking one. Setting boundaries was something new to me. I have always been a "people pleaser" and the idea of telling anyone NO, well that was just foreign to me.
    Setting boundaries has not only helped me with my son but with life in general. I still have moments where I fumble though but it's much easier to recover than when I had no boundaries or was first trying to set them.

    RN, I give you credit for letting your son live with you and I truly hope he realizes how lucky he is.
     
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  9. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    :angel: Tanya...thank you for giving me hope that I can be better some day!
     
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Has he applied for SSI? Sometimes it takes more than one application. There are people whose anxiety is so disabling they cannot handle work. My son found a way to apply (successfully) for SSI when I told him to leave home about 7 years ago. I am ambivalent about his not working but I don't get a vote.
     
  11. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    JPG, I love it when Kay does NOT call me. She never texts or calls with good news. It is always poor her, begging and then abuse. Once in a blue moon I also get an apology text. That always scares me. It usually means she will be asking for something shortly. Plus she isnt sorry or she would stop doing what she does. I used to feel like her slave (really) emotionally and monetarily.

    I consider myself a recovering people pleaser. Since Page my niece started using me to help her through her own tough decision, a canceled wedding that is only weeks away., I actually have not exactly told her NO but my hub and I turned off our phones, are not getting involved and are getting out of town Sunday for ay least a week.

    I think we turned a corner and are saying "Enough!"

    I hope you finally get to this point too. I am not worrying that Kay will kill herself anymore. If that is what she wants to do (and I think its bluff to scare us) but she can and will kill herself if she really wants to. I am at a point of acceptance that I am powerless over everyone but myself.
     
  12. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    This sums it up so well and is so true!!!
    If our adult children were really sorry for the choices they make then they would stop or at the very least make true and honest effort to stop. Stopping / breaking any behavior pattern takes concentrated effort and commitment. The same is true for starting a new healthy behavior pattern such as setting boundaries.
     
  13. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    So much this!!! I really want to stress the importance of this site for understanding and support, and here's why. I talked to many of my friends and relatives about my daughter's problems. Most of them had "advice" ("You just need to TELL her!") or asked why I hadn't done this or that. They really cannot understand the issues we face unless they have been there themselves. While they were well meaning I found they were also frequently judgmental or condescending. Struggling with troubled adult children is its own hell as we are so limited in what we can do simply because they are adults. Other people cannot comprehend the lengths we have gone to to try and save our kids. In reality once they are adults the best we can do is save ourselves and hope they come around one day. Coming to this site helped me learn about boundaries and how to maintain them. It also helped me see I'm not a bad mother. I don't have to be consumed by guilt and forever trying to make amends because my daughter has made poor choices in living her life. Those choices are hers, and have nothing to do with me or what kind of mother I am. Every parent makes mistakes and does dumb things, our kids just happen to be struggling. Any other parent could have done exactly the things we did as parents and their kid turns out fine, we aren't so lucky for whatever reason. Those of us here obviously care for and love our children or we would not be here.
     
  14. RN0441

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

    Tanya

    I am like you. Always want to please everyone and make everyone happy so having boundaries with our son has helped me in other aspects of my life as well.

    Learning detachment has also helped me greatly. I have had a very off and on relationship with my older/only sister that used to pain me greatly but now I can handle it. It amazes me to be honest. Right now we don't have a relationship at all (her doing) and I am okay with it and thankful that I don't have to deal with her drama.

    He is lucky but he is our youngest and our only child together. As long as he is moving forward in his life we will let him stay with us. He is in training for a career in welding right now and once he has money coming in he knows he is on his own.

    I am happy that things are going well in our family and he is better than I have ever seen him since this all started. Better but certainly not perfect. I am a perfectionist with him and that is not even realistic.
     
  15. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    "I don't have to be consumed by guilt and forever trying to make amends because my daughter has made poor choices in living her life.[/QUOTE]

    This quote above from elizabrary is exactly where I'm striving to get to!

    You women are full of so much wisdom from the battles you have gone through. I'd like to bottle it up and take it with me so that whenever I need a dose, it's right there. I feel empowered listening to your stories that are different but the same as mine.

    It's funny busymember that you say Kay only calls with bad news becaue I agree, if there's an apology I'm holding my breath because I'm likely going to get hit upside the head with something any minute.

    So this son, has never applied to SSI (yet) but most everything I suggest falls on deaf ears (food assistance, job fairs and agencies etc.). My other son did apply earlier this year but then dropped the ball because paperwork came in for him that he needed to reply to at the address his mail was going to and because he's homeless and didn't collect his mail in a timely manner, they closed the case. When I recently found out, I told him he needs to follow up and have it re-opened. It's so frustrating because he hasn't and this could be a source of income to help him out in his homelessness. The problem is that right now as I work on not enabling him financially, my ex-husband has taken over that role. So until the "ex" gets tired of enabling and my younger son has no money, he's not going to work on the SSI. :*(
     
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  16. 200Meters

    200Meters A real bustard

    Setting boundaries (which are necessary & good) is one thing. Having our children respect the boundaries we set is something else entirely.
     
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  17. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    One of my favorite lines I've heard from people was "How can you allow your son to be homeless" That used to really bother me and add to the guilt I carried. Once I gained strength, clarity and boundaries, if someone said this to me, instead of trying to defend myself, I would say "My son is an adult, I have no control over how HE chooses to live his life and he chooses to be homeless"
    I have also learned over the years to gauge who I can trust sharing my story with. When I meet people for the first time there is always that question "do you have children", I reply, yes, one son. "Oh, and what does he do?" I reply, lives his life the best he can. If people keep asking questions I will usually just change the subject. I am not willing to put myself in a situation where I am the topic of gossip for someone or to listen to their unsolicited advice.
     
  18. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    My son has no respect for our boundaries and that's okay, it's his choice. The boundaries my husband and I have are in place to keep us safe and to not lose our sanity.
    My son uses very foul language and he knows that I do not and do not want to hear it. On the rare occasion I talk to him, if he starts using foul language I give him one warning. If he says it again, I just hang up. My son knows what behavior I will not accept but that's not going to change him and that's okay. I wouldn't want my son to change for me, I would only want him to change for himself.
     
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  19. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    I have to tell you Tanya, you're a better person than I am. Years ago when my granddaughter was a baby I was at a work function chatting with several people. There was one woman in the group that I didn't work with much and she wasn't my favorite. My granddaughter's father abused my daughter and at one point kidnapped the baby, so was court ordered to have supervised visitation with a court supervisor only. It was obvious that my coworker had heard something about the mess going on because she asked if my granddaughter saw her father. That pissed me off so much that I told the entire story in excruciating detail to her and everyone standing there. They were all struck speechless and I bet that petty b*tch never asked rude questions like that again. It gave me a weird kind of satisfaction.
     
  20. Thank you for sharing this Tanya! I am very new to this forum and am seeing the value of people sharing.

    I have just this past week, set firm boundaries with my adult daughter for the first time in her life. In the past, I have always been an enabler and a door mat for her to spew forth her attitude on. I am working on maintaining this new boundary.