Tell me how you stay strong


Well-Known Member
I'd love some feedback about how to deal with the voices that start to wear me down. I can state and be very clear with my boundaries: I don't want my verbally abusive daughter to live with me, I will not continue to support her; I do will, and then with a new crisis, I start to weaken. She is very good at playing the victim. She is borderline and no matter how much I do, I am the bad guy. So I start to doubt myself. I say, "her abusive exes are not paying child support, and that's not her fault," so I buy a crib and a stroller because her baby is without. DCYF is investigating her, not about her parenting, but because of the place she is staying, so I lie in bed all night thinking I am an awful person for not taking her in. My rational mind tell me that she won't follow the rules, that she will be verbally abusive, that the stress on my marriage and on me at 64 is too great, but I still beat myself up. How do you/I stay strong and maintain boundaries no matter how hard and painful? Thanks.

A dad

Active Member
HObbies they really keep the mind busy. So for example you like reading well focus on that think about the next book you will read then see others opinion on it join an community and talk abouy the book the charactera.
ON short give the mind somthing else to think.
ITs very efficient.


Well-Known Member
Hi hon.

Borderline is one big drama and full of lies. I find it hard to believe her exes are not paying child support. The court garnishes wages....or any money the person has. Disability. Government money. She probably is getting the money and not spending it on the kids. So she comes to you for extra

For me, therapy helped and I know without a doubt that my nice loved ones need me to be healthy and sane. I need this for myself too. My difficult child has narcisistic traits. If he gets abusive I just wont interact with him. I dont feel guilty. He ignores all sound advice...I wont take the blame for his poor decisions.

Since setting boundaries, his life is still angsty, but he is usually nice to me because he knows i wont talk to him unless he is. I wont allow him to invade in my life or ruin my marriage or my relationships with my other awesome adult kids who prefer I not interact with him at all. They dont. I think we need therapy.. all of us...and to, by our ages (I am 63) get real about our role in our adult offsprings life. We did our jobs. We gave them a good upbringing and good foundations. They ignored them.

To me the 60s are a time of fun, retirement, travel, falling in love with ones partner all over again. We deserve to rest...we did our time. Our adult kids refuse help..well, that is their choice. They need to do life without us. We can not live this life forever; they will be without us one day. And we deserve fabulous golden years. With kind loved ones and friends.

A borderline and a narcicist will only bring grief to us no matter what we do. My son at least will never be homeless, which is fortunate for him because I would never live with him. I have RV travel-the-country plans with husband. Nobody can take that from me.

I can stand strong because of the therapy i had and still access when necessary and just getting dog tired of how my son treats me. If he were not my son I wouldnt want to know him. He is nearing 40. I cant be his mommy anymore. Its not good for me...or him either. It isnt good for him to be allowed to abuse isnt good for my grandson, his son, to hear him cussing me out. So I forbid it for all of us.. and I plan a good future. For me. He has to plan his own future.

You cant save your daughter, who is probably no young kid, and your grandkids may have to live in their paternal can not save them either, although this is hard. But grandparents have no say.

Our adult kids make choices. So do we.o Only you can decide to absolutely put your marriage and life first and to let your daughter do life herself, as she will have to do one day.

Get into therapy, hug your husband, plan your future. Your daughteris not going to change. Neither is my son. But we can change. I did.

Good luck! You deserve a great rest of your life. Boundaries!!
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Well-Known Member
Very generally, I would consider setting boundaries that make sense to you. For example, maybe help your daughter out if you think she legitimately needs food or medical care. Whatever you decide is critical and you can afford.

I too would consider therapy for yourself if you haven't already sought this. Having an adult child like this is extremely challenging.

Take time for yourself and your spouse.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Speaking only for myself, I had to put myself as the priority and seek quite a bit of professional help. I entered into a 2 year long Codependency Course lead by therapists, a private therapist and a group. I was also in CoDa groups. I had to learn what exactly my boundaries were before I learned to enforce them. And I had to learn that I deserved to even have boundaries to enforce since my early learning did not include healthy boundaries.

I read constantly, books like Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie, Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron (and all her other books too!), I read books by Eckhart Tolle about living in the present moment. I meditated. I hiked. I changed my diet eliminating sugar, dairy and meat. I knew, left to my own devices I would not have the wherewithal to change on my own. I had to be in environments where I was coached in new ways of thinking, where I was called on my "faulty thinking," where I could see more than 2 options (because there are many options and seeing only two is a setup for failure) I listened to folks further along the road. I wrote on this board daily and got incredible support. I questioned my long held beliefs with a new willingness to change them to include myself. I looked at my fears and examined them truthfully and with professional help. I stopped feeling as if everything was my fault and my responsibility. I made my well being and my peace of mind the priority. I learned ways to wait, to REFRAIN from responding to my daughters many dramas and requests. And, in that space of refraining, it would give me just enough time to take a breath and realize I do not have to participate in this dialogue, I can remove myself. That in itself was a new thought. I believed where my child was concerned, that I could not in any way shape or form,turn my back on her. But, I learned that I wasn't turning my back on her, I was setting boundaries and taking care of myself. I learned to let go of black and white thinking, either/or thinking.....I learned to explore options I had cast aside before.....I learned to be open minded and listen to different ways of thinking and being.... I learned to step back and NOT respond to every request that came down the pike. I learned new techniques for detaching with love and accepting what I cannot change. I stopped blaming myself for what happened to my daughter. I slowly let the guilt go. It does reappear on occasion, but I have tools that I have learned that get me back to center.

For me, it was a journey of letting go of pretty much most of my beliefs and ideas about parenting, love, giving and helping. And then I had to learn a very different way.

This is "hard and painful." It is the nature of the beast, these are our children, the people we would give our lives for, it is very painful to be on the sidelines watching their lives blow up, watching them make poor choices which continually put them in harms way. And even harder to allow them to handle the consequences of their own behavior and choices.

It is odd, as some have mentioned, for us to be the ones who change, but very often, our kids don't or won't change and we can't make them change, so what is the alternative? We are powerless to change them or anyone.......the only true power we have is to change ourselves and the way we respond. The way I did that was to enter an intense program which I looked at like a rehab for Codependents/enablers/rescuers and Mothers of difficult adult kids...I needed my internal structure to be evaluated by professionals in therapy and I needed someone to correct any thinking that was not working for me or my daughter. It was an eye opening experience to say the least. But as I opened to a new way and learned to put the focus on me and what I wanted and needed, honestly, the rest began to smooth out. It wasn't easy and it wasn't quick because there was a lot for me to learn, but I had a huge commitment to change because I was suffering all the time, there was no let up. It was like a drug addict who reaches her bottom, I reached my bottom and I became willing to do whatever it took to change. And the irony is, whatever it took meant learning to love and accept myself and to develop tools to be able to thrive, as opposed to simply surviving.

I may have mentioned this to you already, but a good quote that helped me is: "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." We have the power to choose.
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Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Well here's my 2 cents worth.
Successfully detaching from our adult children's chaotic lives takes time. It's not something that can be done overnight. It starts with one small step of realizing that you do need to detach.
I think it's very important to listen to the logical part us and not just listen to our hearts.
My son has been causing chaos in my life since he was a young teen. During the time I was dealing with his truancy from school, running away, lying and stealing, I was diagnosed with cancer.
My oncologist was a gem! He knew all the ugly stuff that I was having to deal with concerning my son. He stressed to me over and over how I needed to learn how to control the stress in my life. He reminded me that stress is very bad for our physical health. His words have stuck with me for the past 24 years.
I learned that I needed to put myself first. If we don't take care of ourselves then we are in no condition to take care of others.
I was given a 50/50 chance of survival. I decided that however much time I was allowed to have on this earth needed to matter. I found that exercise was a great stress reliever. I also started seeking out things that I enjoyed, making floral arrangements, taking bike rides, going for drives on a Sunday afternoon, rummaging through antique stores. I started taking care of me. I started putting myself first for a change. Again, this didn't happen overnight, it was a process. Finding "me", acknowledging that I matter has helped so much. I think as parents, especially mothers, it's easy to lose our identities. We are little Johnny or Susie's mom. Taking back our lives and our identities is crucial in detaching.
I have also learned when it comes to my son, I need to listen to my logic not my heart.
One of the first things I did to help myself when the "guilt" would set in was to stop seeing my son as my little boy. When we see our adult children as little children it's so very easy to slip into "mommy mode" and think that we have to make everything okay for them. I started seeing my son as the grown man he was.
I changed the way I saw my relationship with him. I'm his mother I am not his rescuer. I nurtured him when he was young, I taught him right from wrong, I instilled a strong work ethic. I had envisioned a certain life for him. It was my vision, not his. I had to accept that he was choosing to live a life that I didn't want for him.
Now, when he reaches out to me wanting something, I remind myself of all the past pain, chaos and drama. I remind myself of all the money I have spent trying to help him. I remind myself that I have been down this road too many times with him and nothing I have done for him has ever resulted in him making better choices. I remind myself that I do not have to get sucked into his chaos and drama. With that, I am able to let it go. I do not hold onto guilt and I do not allow him to place guilt on me. When he asks for something I simply tell him no. I do not engage in conversation with him about my decision. I do not owe him an explanation.

She is very good at playing the victim.
Every difficult adult child is very good at playing the victim. My son can put on one heck of a pity party.
Remember, they do this on purpose. They are counting on us to feel sorry for them.

She is borderline and no matter how much I do, I am the bad guy.
After all the time I have spent on this forum, I wonder if my son is also borderline. My son is the same way, no matter how much I do for him it's not enough. Around 10 years ago when my son was being released from prison, I flew out to the state he was in, flew him back to the town I live in. I knew there was no way he could live with us so my husband and I purchased a house for him to live in. It was a foreclosure and needed lots of work which my husband and I did. The house turned out really nice if I do say so myself. Our son didn't want to live there while we did the renovations. He was living there rent free, we bought his groceries, clothes, cell phone, and it wasn't good enough.

Nothing we do will ever be good enough. So the simple truth is, we stop doing for them. Let them do for themselves. If they suffer from their own choices that's on them not us.

Hang in there.


Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone for your heartfelt feedback. I will reread it as often as I need to. A couple of clarifications: my daughter is 36. Right now my daughter is not getting child support because one ex who is an addict works under the table and the other is the one she just left and the court did not set a date until August. He will have to pay, but it will be miniscule because he is underemployed and has three other children.
For me, I have been in Codependents Anonymous for almost two decades, I do go to therapy, and I read a lot. I also listen to webinars from McLean hospital on mental illness. Here's the thing: I know I am the one who has to do differently because I know, at least for now, she will not. I think because I have PTSD and have been a 'fixer' from childhood, this is an arduous, anguish filled journey for me. I am making progress, but I am a slow learner. Again, appreciation to all.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Here's the thing: I know I am the one who has to do differently because I know, at least for now, she will not. I think because I have PTSD and have been a 'fixer' from childhood, this is an arduous, anguish filled journey for me. I am making progress, but I am a slow learner.
I think the biggest step for any of us is the acknowledgement that we need to do things differently. Once we are aware that we cannot change them but change our responses to them, we have stepped onto the right path. The journey may be a long one but being on the right path is huge. There are times we will come to a fork in the path and we have to stop, re-evaluate and continue on. Sometimes we take the wrong fork and go down that path a little ways and we come to an off ramp that gets us back on the right path.

I've been dealing with my son for over 20 years now and while I have detached I still find those forks in the path. Anytime he has a "crisis" that he thinks I can somehow fix, I have to pause and think. Most times I can let it go pretty quickly, other times like most recently when he sent us the letter from prison asking for $200.00 I really became angry. I also felt sorry for him and the mommy heart wanted to help but the logical person said NO WAY!! I imagine this is just how it will be and that's okay because I'm okay.

The best thing we can do is to live our lives the best we can. By us staying strong and not giving into our difficult children we are really helping them as they will learn how to handle life on their own.