Saying no

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    This post was in my in-box this morning from I thought it was a good one and may be helpful to many. I know that I struggled with this mightily. Finally, I realized I was continuing to do things for my son that he should do for himself because it made ME feel better. I had not been willing to bear the pain of stopping and I was still trying to control him and his life by doing everything for him. I had good intentions, of course, but I didn't realize that by taking care of his business I was crippling him. Smothered by love (is how I think about it today). Stopping is so hard. It takes a lot of tries and there are a lot of slips. I think that is okay. We are all just doing the best we can every single day.

    "Early in my grieving process, when I realized my love could not save the ones I love, a stranger handed out a reading at one of the support groups I was in. The printing does not reference an author. It touched me greatly and I kept a copy. Reading it made sense, but I just wasn’t sure I could do it – it seemed counter intuitive to my mother instincts. Here it is reprinted:

    To protect our own integrity and peace of mind, we may have to redefine the word love. Sometimes no is the kindest word we can say to a family member or close friend who’s in serious trouble with alcohol, drugs, or any other ravaging obsession. Their suffering pushes all our “rescue” buttons. What we feel like doing is straightening out their messes and protecting them from farther harm. If we could, we would banish all their miseries with the touch of a magic wand! But we can’t. Often the only thing we can do to help our self-destructive loved ones is to sop helping completely. As hard as it is, and as unnatural as it feels, we may have to make some or all of the following declarations of love if we want to shorten our loved one’s path to the recovery turnoff.

    1. I love you, so I won’t buy your groceries or pay your rent.
    2. I love you, so I won’t loan you money or the uses of my credit.
    3. I love you, so I won’t call in sick for you at work.
    4. I love you, so I won’t cover your bounced check.
    5. I love you, so I won’t let you move in with me.
    6. I love you, so I won’t listen to your excuses or accept your lies.
    7. I love you, so I won’t make your bail.
    If we know down deep that these words need to be spoken we need to practice them until we can get them out. Many recovering people only got turned around because someone loved them enough to give them a cold shoulder instead of a helping hand."
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  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I believe this is true, Child.

    This is my practice regarding our son. For some time before the current open hostility, I had been telling him all the positive things, telling him there would be no more money, telling him he did not need us, that he was more than capable of creating his life to be whatever he wanted it to be.

    The last time he asked for money, husband gave it to him, but told him there would be no more. It was shortly after that when difficult child son became so verbally abusive on FB that even I could not ignore or excuse it.

    He continues to be very angry.

    But, though he did accuse us of being the coldest, most uncaring ex-family he has ever gotten wind of...he has not asked for money since early January.

    I miss him...but the person masquerading as my son is not the son I miss.

    I wholeheartedly agree that "no" can mean I love you more honestly, with less resentment and to better purpose than the sweetest (initiative destroying, self comforting, enabling) yes.

    I feel like this is my son's last chance.

    He has to make it.

    I wish I had done this sooner.

    Nothing, nothing else worked.

  3. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Thank you for posting this COM. It helps me remember that saying NO really is the best thing to do. He's been asking for money for phone minutes, money for food, money to rent a post office box and he even had the nerve to ask for money for a friend so she could pay her probation fine. Of course I said no but the fact that he even asked - especially the last one- blows my mind! I can't understand how or why he can spend every minute of his time lying, scheming and stealing in order to get money but he won't get a JOB. Ugggh!

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  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    I know exactly what you mean JKF. I have done the same with my son. It drove me crazy, all of the asks. Nothing was ever enough, and nothing was ever the "new start" I thought he would make with the boost I gave him.

    Today, we have a fragile peace. He is not asking for anything and I am not offering anything. That means we don't talk much right now but I am feeling good about myself and about him right now. I saw him for 10 minute early Tuesday morning---taking him some mail---and we had a decent, civilized conversation. It was like two adults were talking, being careful with each other.

    We need some silence between us so we can both do the hard work we need to do. I hope he is moving forward, but if he isn't, that is his choice.

    This is the first time in months and months and months (maybe even more than a year, I don't know) that he is not "somewhere" like in rehab or jail that I am actually okay. Usually if he isn't "somewhere" he is driving me crazy with asks.

    This has come after I said "NO" really loudly and really clearly and really directly. I said No to everything. Every. single. thing.
  5. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Oh, Scent. Our path is so similar. Right now, gfg32 is leaving me alone, ONLY because my parents (mid-80's) just sent him $300. In a few days, he will be back. Hateful, blaming, demanding money.

    A few days ago, you posted that you miss your son and I could not relate. Now, i do. Not the human he is now....but, "before"...before gfg32 got so hateful. (and whiney!!)
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It is good to share our strength in this way, good to be reminded why we chose the way we chose. I love the quote about needing the silence between us so both can do the hard work we need to do.

    Very appropriate to me, this morning.

    " we can BOTH do the hard work...."

    I am continually surprised by my own anger, by my arrogance and resentment.

    With every day you are here, Strength, you are changing your mind, enlarging your vision of what is happening with your son and learning about what other, different feeling-responses to the situations your son sets up might be. One day, and I think it will not be too long now, things will just look different. You really won't be able to justify giving him money to throw into that same, dark hole all the money disappears down. The resentment you will feel once you no longer feel responsible for your son's choices (and the consequences he chose right along with them) will become the primary feeling state, even if you do continue to help him.

    But the day will come when, as COM posted, we say NO and, instead of beating ourselves up over it, learn to celebrate it. We learn to choose to celebrate ourselves, to defiantly celebrate our strength and the feeling, finally, of independence from the children who use our love for them to blackmail us with their own well-being.

    What it feels like is being back in my own life. I am not afraid to risk spending my own money because I don't know how much the kids are going to cost.


    It feels so good to know we can plan our financial picture with some accuracy. No more blackmail. No more paying protection money to the racketeering gangster who looks like my son.


    That is a good word.

    I sort of feel like a toddler again.



    That is the sound of freedom.


    And it was the saying "no" that freed me to miss and cherish the son I once had, and to view with utter callousness the person who has taken his place.

    I am his mother.

    I know who my son was raised to be.

    And it isn't the guy in charge, today.
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  7. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member

    Cedar, prayers and hugs for you. You are so right, it goes against our motherly "rescue mode" to say no. That's why it's so hard to do.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have found that No is a complete sentence but it is much easier to do when not living with him. I have found that it comes much easier to think things through and decide if his request is something I am willing to do because I want to not because he begs me. Its much harder to manipulate me when Im not looking at him.
  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    So good to have you back!