Thinking of cutting off communications with difficult child

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I am wondering about just telling difficult child I don't want to hear from him until he has at least one tiny bit of his life together, or in process. I don't want to hear from him until he at least starts doing all the things he promised me, while he was still in jail, that he would do....get a caseworker restart his medications pay me back. I don't want to hear that he is going to do it...I want him to tell me when they are done.

    But then I do go all crazy when I hear nothing from or about him for 3 or 4 days...I worry he is hurt or dead.

    Have any of you tried just cutting off communication? I don't think he would push back very hard, at least until he needs something from me. Often he just calls to say hi, or tell me he loves me, and because he knows I worry about him after the 3 or 4 day mark...and yet..I don't get any pleasure out of those calls either anymore, now that I am starting to see how much he abuses my relationship with him.

    It was nice while he was in jail to know that I wouldn't run into him with his sleazy "friends" on the street. It might be nice to know that I won't hear from him, that he won't disrupt my day. I never, ever get a call and see that it is from him and think "oh good!" It is more like...sigh. I guess I should pick up.

    I'm wondering what your experiences have been with letting go in that way.
  2. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    It is a hard decision to make. It is even more difficult to do. You might want to start by only accepting so many calls a day or a week. Please consider counseling for yourself or a codependent support group.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    No, I have never done that. However, I cut off the money cold turkey. If they know you mean that, you can sometimes not hear from them until, like you said, they are in need of more money (like they ended up in jail).

    If you want to take a firm stand and feel like you don't want to talk to him though, do it. It should be on your terms now, not his. And try to keep the money in your own pocket.

    Hugs. Try to have a good day. One day at a time...
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    What would happen if you calmly and pleasantly said, every time he did call, exactly what you expected of him? I don't mean just about the latest stuff. I mean, everything. No more empathizing. No more rescuing. What if your conversations were all about your expectations? I did do that with my son. He responded with a spate of verbally abusive behaviors that, finally, tore the blinders away from my eyes ~ and from my heart, too.

    I suppose he must hate me, because he is ashamed, and it's easier and more convenient to blame me for whatever is the matter because that is what I taught him, for all these years, to do. But, however complex the mix of emotions, I would rather know the truth he chooses when the blinders come off. He might have taken it like a man, considered what I said, and gone from there. I just got sick of trying to pretend for and with him that anything he was doing was enough or even, appropriate.

    He was raised better.

    And the healthier I am getting, the more clearly I understand that I deserve better than relationships which consist of people preying on my vulnerabilities. If I want to get better, if I want things to be better, I have to see the things that are wrong, and say so.

    What if, instead of feeling shame or guilt or anger when you saw your son begging on the streets, you had been able to put everything he was doing on him? What if you had said,
    "You're begging on the street?!? What a poor excuse for man! If you insist on acting like someone without a shred of dignity or integrity, at least have the b**** not to do it where I have to see it."

    It wasn't until I was posting the above that I realized your son is probably begging where he is so you will see him, begging.

    What to hey?

    That's a nasty game, isn't it.

    It's like when I was telling my daughter something she didn't want to hear, and she immediately FB pictures of herself right after the beating. Something so wrong there, so manipulative and yet, so disturbing, that we fall right into a trap.


    I am learning, just recently, that it isn't about what the kids do or don't do. It's about acknowledging that we are feeling guilt or shame or anger over what they are doing, and not giving in to our emotions to justify rescuing them.

    Like Recovering tells us, we need to learn to expect to sit with the feelings and not react.

    That's really hard.

    Again just recently, I am beginning to see my own role in all this. I am toying with the notion of believing that if I don't rescue, if I can teach myself that I truly am not responsible for what happens to the kids because I haven't done enough, or given enough, or advised well enough, they will eventually figure it out on their own. I think the next step will be that if they don't figure it out? If the behaviors escalate? I will still be able to remember not to react out of a sense of guilt or shame.

    This is all pretty new to me too, Echolette.

    I am glad I spoke to my son as I did. I am glad I spoke to my daughter as I did too, last Fall. Except that I feel pretty guilty and sorry and horrified, given the outcome.



    Every time I do something so ultimately simple as telling the truth? I come away stronger. Again, I am not saying to blast anyone. I am just saying to state what you expect or observe. I did the same thing with my sister. Just said I wanted her to know I understood her real motives.


    The nature of her response was no different than the nature of the response from my son. Really nasty language, ten different blames for me (laughing at the ridiculousness of my assumption, telling me she was crying, telling me I must have had a stroke, telling me she forgives me, telling me God will heal our relationship because she walks with the Lord (whereas I, of course, am going you-know-where).

    All at once, I could see so clearly that none of it even had anything to do with me.

    Except that it does, and I am the only one who can change it.

    So I am.

    The key seems to be to be sure of our truths, speak them and then, not to react to those feelings of guilty responsibility when the manipulation begins.

    It's really a hard thing to do, a hard thing to sit with. But if anything is ever going to change, we have to change the patterns of the relationship. Once we can see what's wrong (which is the hardest part), then we can decide whether we value the relationship enough to try to change it, or not.

  6. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    Yes, my son went no contact for about a year and now I just get superficial texts. My son was difficult from the time he was born and just got worse each year, the teen years were hell.

    I had him in every program I could and he was court ordered to rehab twice. One he walked out after 9 months (just 3 weeks left to finish) and it was extended for another 3 months.

    My son stole from me and helped his friends completely wipe out my apartment. I retired and moved away and he appeared to be doing better. Then the economy went sour and he was laid off 4 times in one year.

    He was in a turbulent relationship and I met her once, was not impressed! She started texting me for money and how bad a mother I was blah, blah, blah. I was beginning to suspect they were using and drinking a lot. They had a fight and her and the mother put all of his belongings outside and most was stolen. He said he was homeless and couch surfing.

    He had enrolled on college and I was trying to help him finish the semester. I had to call the police to stop the girlfriend's harassment and I found out the truth. He had been enrolled in college, but not for the past 3 months that I had been sending a lot of money for. And he was living with girlfriend and her mother again. They were partying all night with my money and sleeping all day. No one was even looking for work! He was posting very strange messages on FB and leaving weird messages on phones.

    He denied everything and threatened suicide if I did not send money and I replied go to a homeless shelter. I called the police and he told them he was not suicidal. I called suicide hotlines and found centers and clinics in his area and gave them to him. Paid for the first visit myself. He lied and did not show.

    I was so stressed and my health was affected. He actually went no contact with me, to spite me I'm sure. He completely stopped all contact with fam and friends. I used the year to focus on me and my enabling. He contacted me after about a year and he is working now and so far has not asked for money.

    I've accepted my son as he is HOWEVER I will not in any way help him to live this life style. He is still with girlfriend and he text me that he was in a program, then he posts on FB that they were moving to Denver lol! I was very hurt when the lies and conns started all over again and angry with myself for allowing him to treat me that way. He is very manipulative and can look you straight in the eyes and lie!

    Any contact with him leads to manipulation for money, yet they still attend all concerts around. The no contact hurt and I was very sad, fell into a depression, then I decided I have the right to a life, and one that makes me happy! I have learned to detach with love, and realise there is nothing I can do to make him live a life that I want him too.

    I am in no way suggesting you go NC, it is a decision you need to make yourself. For me, it was time well spent and my son is today doing better than he was when I was 'helping'.

    I recommend counseling for everyone with these children. My story confuses people and they think I have stopped loving my son and turned my back on him (I have been told this) but it isn't true, I love him very much, I just finally accepted what I was doing wasn't helping. I pray each day that this will be the day he turns his life around for the better..........
    (((hugs and blessings)))
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm not sure your response to your son has to be as black or white as cutting him off. For me I think it's a step by step different response each time which produces results. Re-training.

    You paid his fines and he is now free. What exactly did you expect him to do and what are YOUR responses to what he actually did? Resentment? Anger? Disappointment? Like most of our kids, once they get what they need, they simply continue in their world............but we are wracked with fear and resentment and disappointment. As Cedar mentioned, the tough place to stay is in all of those feelings. And, when the next opportunity to help him arises, what are the feelings that emerge if we don't help? We often step in primarily to make the feelings WE have go away. It's hard to change an automatic response.

    The hard part is responding differently to all the different scenarios that arise. You made a choice to help him and it appears now that he is not going to keep his word. That information will make you stronger the next time he needs help. You will make a different decision at that point. I would tell him how disappointed I feel at his not keeping his side of the bargain you made and how this has made an impact on you and you will not be helping anymore. Each time you respond differently you change the pattern and insist on new behavior. I think it's more a process then cutting someone off completely...........I had to stay in all of those feelings as I went through the process, it was hard, but each step makes you stronger.

    As Cedar mentioned, learning how to stop enabling changes all our relationships...........we change, then everything changes as we see the truth.
  8. goomer

    goomer New Member

    Hi. Yes, difficult child and I are now in radio silence. Have been since August, and for many of the same reasons you site in your OP. It sucks, but there is no other way around a situation that has become untenable. In many ways, your son sounds a lot like difficult child, and for that I am very sorry :(
  9. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    There are so many thoughtful responses to your post. You are raw right now and struggling with being the mom of an adult child who is exhibiting some less than loveable behaviors. We hang onto the visions of our difficult children when they were young, sweet, and innocent. Their world revolved around us. Our words of wisdom and our guidance was welcomed by our children. There was nothing we would not do for our kids. Then they grow up push us away, and begin to live their lives in ways that stab us to the very core. We try to get back to that sweet soft place by continuing to be that parent. We are no longer parenting those children. We must become a different kind of parent and learn to protect our hearts, finances, and sometimes our lives. It is difficult.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I really havent gone completely no contact with my son for any length of time. What I do now is pretty much limit the amount of contact to what I want to have with him. I dont have long conversations on the phone. I dont call him to see how he is doing. I make sure that if I do something for him its something that I really dont mind doing and that I wont feel resentful of if I do.

    I mean I do still love my son so I wouldnt want to never know where he was or what he was up to but I dont need to let him take up every bit of space in my life.
  11. This is my first post here. I've been reading for a couple of days.

    My difficult child has, like many others, been trouble since birth. He is 22, was diagnosed with ADHD/ODD at age 5. I've always been skeptical about the ADHD part, but the ODD part is spot on. Over the past few years I've suspected that he may have a personality disorder, but he is so guarded and unwilling to actually talk to therapists that it's hard to make a diagnosis.

    Anyway...long story short...he was removed from our home last week by EMTs and police, and taken to the ER, where he was admitted to psychiatric. I've spoken to him a couple of times by phone, and he blames me for all his problems. He says I'm overbearing. Everyone I've told this to just looks at me with a puzzled face and then laughs, because I'm one of the least demanding parents in the world.

    I've decided not to call my son anymore. We have told him that he can't come back here to live (his most recent behavior was threatening and scary). He attempts to manipulate me on the phone, which is easy to do because I feel chronically guilty. I figure if he needs us, he knows where we are. I don't know where he will go when they discharge him, which could be any time....could have already happened, actually. I worry about him and love him, but I can't take the stress of dealing with a person who lacks empathy, feels entitled, and blames me for his troubles....all the while refusing to work, study, or even lift a finger to clean up after himself.

    It's been a hard week.
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Greenstockings, welcome. I'm sorry you find yourself in the situation you do with your son. Your story is not unlike many of ours here. You've responded to another's thread and it would be beneficial if you copied the post and created a new thread of your own so folks could respond directly to you.

    It sounds as if you've reached a point where you know different choices have to be made for your well being. That's good. It can be difficult to uphold those new choices in the face of our guilt and our kids manipulations. It is always a positive idea to get yourself as much support as you possibly can. Perhaps you already have that, but if you don't, it is SO important and helpful for us to have a therapist, a counselor, a parent support group,a 12 step group, a NAMI parent course, (National Alliance on Mental Illness)............someplace we can go to feel heard, seen, supported and also given the tools, understanding and help so that we can make the changes necessary so we do not enable our kids thereby crippling them by not allowing them to face the consequences of their usually poor choices.

    Our kids usually blame us and to some degree many of us take that on because of our guilt............but it's our kids who make the bad choices, not us.

    I'm glad you found us and I hope you keep posting because it helps to be with others who've been in your shoes. It helps us if you can put a signature at the bottom of your posts so we can recognize you and recall your story so we can better support you. Wishing you peace.
  13. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    In our Nami Family-to-Family course, we were told it was perfectly okay to say to our loved one that we needed a break from their chaos. We have to protect our own health and mental well-being.

    I have learned to tell my difficult child that I feel overwhelmed by her issues and need to take a little break and that we can talk again on such and such date. At first, I would just tell her that I was taking a break and had to block her text messages and send her phone calls to voicemail. Now, she actually takes it well and gives me some space without me having to do that. Of course, the longest I've done this is about a week but it is amazing how much it helps.

    It has also forced her to be more self-reliant.

  14. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    These are all helpful responses. Somewhat to my chagrin (chagrin at oneself is good sometimes, forces a rueful smile!) the choice has been out of my hands. He has not contacted me since the day he got out of jail 5 days ago, when he told me he would do all the things he promised "Thursday". I assume he feels at least a little uncomfortable or ashamed, or maybe I am just not in the picture for him at any case, this has turned into a case of "you can't fire me I quit.".
    Kathy, I like your approach. If he does call me and I am still in this place of turmoil about him, I will let him know that I am hurt and disappointed, and that I need a break. I think setting a deadline for the end of the break seems humane and like solid parenting.
    Thank you all again.
  15. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    an update...although I thought after reading all your posts, and also talking it through with my SO, that it wouldn't be viable for me to have no contact, that I would suffer too much, I find that day by day I refuse contact. He calls...I don't pick up. I can't make myself. I have a revulsion against contact. He sometimes calls my SO, who takes the calls, often in front of me, and I am relieved, resentful, excited, curious, angry. I am relieved to know that for another day he is alive. I am resentful that he intruded in my day (and annoyed with SO for taking the call). I am excited because engaging is esciting, like stepping up to the batters box again. I am curious and demand to know from SO what they talked about, how he sounds, why he called, where he is living (this of course would be no data, since he lies about everything). And I am angry because I am still in this place.
    Most of all, though, I am interested at my own ferocious compulsion to protect myself from direct contact. It reminds me of the primitive brain reflex against poison...animals will NOT eat something that has once made them vomit. We have that reaction too...once when I was little I got a GI virus, and the last thing I ate before I got sick was spaghetti...I couldn't make myself eat it for years, my brain and stomach screamed against it in self protection. Chemotherapy patiens sometimes throw up at the door of the chemo suite, before the drugs are even infused. I feel like that. I feel like he has been poison, and my psyche screams against ingesting any more.
    It surprises me every day.
    Yestarday he saw that I was on facebook, and messaged me. Hi mom. How are you today.
    I didn't respond.
    I can't.
    I can't talk to him again now that I am so acutely aware that most of what he has said to me for the last 8 years was a lie, or an assertion or pretence of convenience. I don't know who he is. There is no there there.
    I have to figure out how to deal with that before I allow contact again.
    Meanwhile, if he actually GOES to the caseworker, starts work on housing, gets a shrink takes his medications, and makes a payment on the $1800 he owes me for paying his restitution and getting out of jail....well then, of course we'll talke!!! He just has to be who he says he is.
    I ran into old friends on the street the other day-- parents from difficult child and his twin sister's preschool days. They asked about each of my other 3 kids by name, and told me about theirs. They didn't ask about difficult child and I didn't mention him. They must have seen him around, or heard, or maybe he called them and asked for money (he has been known to do that). Or maybe they saw him begging. I pretended he doesn't exist and so did that. That felt both very wrong, and also OK. I'm tired of talking about him.
    Thats all.
  16. aud

    aud Member

    What did your son do for you to have him taken away

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  17. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    I'm just now joining this post and find it interesting because so many of you do have what sounds like regular communication FROM your difficult child....mine NEVER contacts me...since he assaulted me on 12/21, he text me one time right after to find out what I was still going to pay for...he never sends a text or email just to check in...he's living with my parents (whom I'm not in communication with at all) so I know he's safe...I saw on another thread about how awful you can feel if you DON'T worry about that-- what kind of parent does that (was what the post said)? I really don't worry about his safety-- he doesn't use substances (yet and hopefully never) so I'm sure it'd be different if he did....and he lives by routine so I pretty much know his schedule any given day...if I want to think about it...I don't know that he's texted me in years unless he wanted something...can't think of a time...he's so self-centered, he never wants to know about me or my day, it's always about him and his troubles...I told him today (via email) that I'm not paying for his truck insurance anymore and haven't heard back...made me so nervous to tell him because if we had been in constant contact, I would have gotten repeated texts of how awful a mother I am...but today, nothing...if there's contact anymore, it's me contacting him and yet he's the reason for the status of our 'relationship' now...I guess I just wanted to say that I envy those of you who have at least some reaching out from your difficult child (when it's not wanting money)...maybe that's something I can hope for in the future...;-)
  18. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I did not have him taken away (although when he was younger we did have him escorted to a wilderness treatment center). He was living at home and was a junior in a high school for kids with a variety of social and learning disorders...he had more and more troulbe and eventually stopped going just at the end of his junior year. He worked a variety of under the counter jobs, then the Occupy movement started, and he joined htem...first hanging out with them, then spending the night, then he moved out. That was over two years ago and he hasn't lived at home...of his own volition...since. He's had some psychiatric hosptiatlizations (6 weeks in Bellevue when he briefly travelled to NY to join Occupy there) and multiple shorter ones. He's slept on friends couches, on their rooftops, in their cars, on the street. We got him a bed at Covenenatn House for a while, but he kept breaking curfew so they threw him out. He stayed with me for short periods, and his dad the same...but eventually balked either at having a curfew or some other relatively minor rule. He left us, and eventually we locked the door. We didn't have him taken away.

    and BITS...I do realize I am glad/lucky he calls. I have an internal clock whose alarm goes off if I don't hear from him or hear of him or see facebook activity for four days...I become convinced he is dead, start wondering how to search hostpitals or morgues and basically go crazy. So as much as I can't deal with talking to him right now, I'm glad SO takes that on...which we both acknowledge he does for me, so I know that difficult child is alive.
  19. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    BITS, I rarely see my daughter, she doesn't call anymore, she will message me on FB. We don't have any kind of meaningful relationship because at this point in time, my daughter is stuck in survival mode which takes up all of her time. She's been there for a long time. I know she is walking around on the planet when I see FB activity. She will go long periods of time with no contact. She has no concept of time or responsibility to others.......for the most part I have accepted it the way it is. Do I wish it were different? Absolutely. Can I change it? Absolutely not. Oddly, I am used to it now. It gets easier as time goes on..........
  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Really my son is too attached to me. I always said that we never managed to cut the cord. It was somewhat the same for my son who managed to leave home in the natural way. (he joined the Marines at 18) Right after middle son got to his station he tended to call us at least every other day but now as the years have gone by, he calls less. One would think I would worry terribly because his job is fairly dangerous but I dont. I figure I will hear something immediately should something happen to him.

    I have worried more if my difficult child doesnt contact me at times. Other times I take it as a break. Since he is back living with me I wish I didnt have as much Maybe that will soon happen because we are going to flee and leave the two boys who cant seem to make it on their own with our trailer. I know that is an awful way to do things but I am actually looking forward to it!