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Our Relationship Is Damaged

Bougainvillea floating on water

Bambi1 recently removed some of her Loved One’s phone service, and now she’s dealing with the repercussions. Her LO is furious and not responding to any communications. Worrying about the damage to their relationship, she writes in…

How ironic to see this posting today. Over the weekend, I contacted my 20 year old daughter’s friends, blocked the majority of them, shut down her texting and data, but left the phone open for her to be able to call out in the case she needs help. We have been dealing with this for since she was 16 years old. We also sent her to another school based off of the same behaviors as this reading. I pay for her phone and was so angered because she wouldn't take my calls or text me. I get so frustrated and feel so angry by the disrespect. She is on her phone 24/7 and she can't respect the fact we pay for her phone. Well long story short, she is furious, her friends were rude, they blocked me. My daughter blocked me. I am not strong enough to shut it down completely. I'm scared. Now I'm texting her and apologizing after reading this. I don't know if she is even seeing the texts. They show delivered but she is not responding. When I call, it’s clear she blocked me. I clearly violated the boundaries and now damaged our relationship more. I'm beside myself. Sick to my stomach, the anxiety is unbearable. She has now got suspended for a week from her college program, esthetician school. No show at class, no accountability or responsibility at calling in. We pay for her phone, car, school, clothes, gas, etc. What I struggle with is I know she is hurting. Taking her phone and car could manifest the drug use. I don't know what to do. Meeting with my therapist on Thursday. My husband has checked out. We have done everything humanely possible to provide her with the resources to better her life.

The phone can be such a tug of war between family members. Please do not think or worry that taking the phone or the car from your daughter “could manifest the drug use.” Addiction doesn’t work like that. You felt disrespected because your daughter was ignoring your calls and texts. I think many would have the same reaction.

We still aren’t sure what is going on with your daughter. Her behavior continues to cause concern, but is it drugs and/or something more than just an entitled young woman who doesn’t show respect and appreciation for her family?

You are providing your daughter many important resources. Does each of these serve to help her advance in life or do they end up being used to aggravate the drug/entitled behavior? That’s the bigger and harder question to answer.

When a parent provides support to a young person it should boost them up and help further their progress. For instance, subsidizing a young person’s rent when they first leave home should help them save a little money to buy a car, which furthers their independence and ability to perhaps get a better job. When you do the same for a young person who’s struggling and isn’t working to resolve the cause for the struggles, the resources get put into the service of the struggle. So, in this example, the rent money saved is used to purchase drugs, nothing ends up being saved, and no car is purchased.

As the parent, everything you provide needs to be seen through this lens. This isn’t easy to do. Drug addiction is a moving target. It creeps up on the family and the Loved One. Our site can help you look at what is going on with a little more objectivity.

Perhaps you daughter can pay for her own phone. Perhaps you ignore her disrespect and stop trying to engage with her. You’ve been down that road so many times before, and you know that it doesn’t serve to strengthen your relationship. Let her know you feel something is very wrong and that you are there to help with services when she is willing. Stay open to her. Don’t take her bad behavior personally. Your daughter knows how to upset you. Don’t let her do it. That is the part you can control with all of this.

We are here to show you the changes you can make, and to also help you see what is not within your control. It’s understandable to feel torn apart by those things we can’t control, but in this community, you are amongst others who are also working through this. Instead of letting these things tear you up, we suggest you focus on what you can do.

This includes the way we listen to our Loved Ones (with openness and empathy), how we talk to them (keeping it light, staying “out of the weeds”), and how we react to their behavior. See Learning Module 4 for a nice reminder about some of these strategies. Focusing on what we can do may also involve setting real boundaries that we are able to uphold (for everyone’s sake), using the reward/ chill model to reinforce sobriety, and being mindful of what rewards are offered in the first place. Rewards that are difficult to remove are general discouraged, because it can become so complicated so quickly when they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

It’s good that you are going to meet with your therapist. You definitely need this kind of neutral support to help you through these painful, hard feelings. This goes right along with another aspect of what we can control: taking care of ourselves. Remember to revisit Learning Module 7 to help find ways to reel yourself in when negative thinking takes over. Either way, consider waiting to reach out to your daughter – by text or otherwise – until you are less in the throes of fear and anxiety. It’s already hard to communicate with a Loved One who is not receptive – being in this state makes it extra challenging.

In the meantime, find a way to be gentle, compassionate, and even forgiving with yourself. Don’t assume responsibility for all of the choices that she is making – whether you take away rewards or not. You have enough to manage without taking this on. Keep leaning on all the supports you have to help you feel calm enough to face things anew.

Thank you for sharing this with us. It is raw and painful, but we’re glad to be a safe space in which you can share of this process. We send you peace and strength.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)