How Parents Control Adult Children with Money

Coraline (2009)

Have you ever thought,
“My parents wouldn’t care if I were dead.
They would be happy because I cost so much!”?

It is NOT your fault that you think this!
It is based on a Narcissistic Personality Trait called Grooming.

Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.

This is a pattern of behavior that falls under the
“we don’t talk about that” category in our family. My parents have groomed me to be dependent. I am their last child and they want to resent me for taking any of their time/money, but they also need to be needed, to justify their existence. 

Don’t reach for that cheese!

My dad started hounding me about saving money and my money choices when I was about 14. I got my first job at 15, and haven’t stopped working until a month ago. Growing up, if I needed clothes, I had to beg for Mom to drive me to the next town so we could go to JC Penny. Every time it turned into a bi***fest over her trying to control what I buy, and her rule to “only get one thing.” Well, only getting one thing, twice a year doesn’t amount to much to wear at school. I was always forced to piece together some random “family friend’s” hand-me-downs. I was bullied in school for years until I started bullying back. The kids thought it was hilarious I never had any sports bras.

Maybe one day I'll get a sock with colors!

Maybe one day I’ll get a sock with colors!

Anyway. I worked constantly, paid my way through college, I got my Bachelor’s degree. I went hungry, often. I went far away each Summer for work.

They helped me with gas and groceries for the first couple years. They used this tiny connection to emotionally abuse me while I was in college. Dad would nag me about sending him the exact date, time, and amount I had spent, what store, and a “general description of what I’d bought,” for “taxes.”

They gave me the first loan last year when life’s obstacles started literally beating my brains out…I was in too much pain last year to continue my work past mid-September, and my Winter job ($8.50 an hour, son) didn’t start paying me till AFTER CHRISTMAS. So for Sept- Dec I was hungry again. And had NO money for rent. I asked them for help…

                I gotcha where I want ya, and now I’m gonna EAT ya!

They barely gave me enough to get by, held it over my head, hated me for it, etc. But that’s exactly what they wanted, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing – getting by. I hardly made any money this Winter – I missed 2 weeks of work when I was out with severe concussion, displaced vertebrae, and and general unconsciousness. Then the season ended early due to horrid snow conditions.

Last month is the first month I’ve ever surrendered to “quitting.”I had a perfectly good job (except the insanely evil Nboss/don’t get me started on her/I had it under control), but I had to quit because,
GUESS WHAT? I HAVE EPILEPSY. And the seizures didn’t start when I hit my head in December.
They started when I WAS BORN (according to the MRI I got last week).

What happens to people who suddenly find out they’re disabled?

I had to quit my job (my boss would never fire me – she already fired everyone else and I’m all she had left!) The
DMV officially suspended my license due to “uncontrolled lapses in consciousness.” I lucked into
couchsurfing at a buddy’s place for this month only, and afterward I’ll be homeless, like usual. Unless I can round up maybe $2,000 for a first/last/depostit on an apt in town. After that I can get work again.

So I called to tell mom’ndad about ….my life.

Here’s Dad’s responses:

“That sounds really tough, kiddo.”

“Well, we really hope you feel better soon.”

We’ll believe it after you see a specialist.”

“You never ask ME about my prostate!”

“I just don’t have any ideas for you.”

“So you don’t want to drive because you’re scared?”

When I told him I don’t have rent, and want to borrow $2,000, for first/last/deposit, he started complaining about how he “already loaned me $10,000, which he knew he would never see again“. When I told him that wasn’t true, he switched to insisting that if he helped me find a place to live,
I would probably just flake out and move somewhere else (How??? IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ME TO DRIVE).
We argued for a while, and I told him I didn’t want to talk to him again unless there was someone else there, to hear the things he said. So he wrote me this email instead!:

I’m writing an email rather than calling because our calls tend to devolve from conversation to conflict, then we can’t have a rational discussion.

First of all, I was mistaken when I said we loaned you $3,000 last fall [I guess that’s his apology for screaming, “we already loaned you money!”].
The amount was actually $2,000 which you asked for in early September to help pay rent until you started getting paid by the ski area [which didn’t happen until January].
I was recalling an additional $700 that we paid for your rent in February while you were still in college. I don’t think we discussed the $700 as a loan, but it was a gift to help you finish school
[then why bring it up?].

We’re extremely proud of you for completing your degree and appreciate all the hard work that went into it [we will now put a dollar sign on how much we “love” you]: 

So as far as loans go, there is the $5,000 loan from the Alumni Association for college expenses [tuition] which we co-signed and are currently paying off in monthly installments for you and the $2,000 for rent last Fall for a total of $7,000.

Woah! The college loan comes back from the dead to help Dad save face!
The loan is interest-free until I’m able to pay it back, AND you can work with the Alumni Association to pay it back whenever you can; however, he intercepted their communications with me so I never got their letters. He sold his boat when he moved away from our family home (and left me) on the coast BECAUSE HE WOULDN’T HAVE ANY USE FOR IT IN INLAND.
He started paying off the loan without asking me first. Then randomly brought it up on the phone one day, and I said, “Oh, I wish you hadn’t done that.”
He answered, “well, I really believe in that association and think they deserve the money,” and besides “I’m getting payments for the boat anyway.”

He hasn’t mentioned that “loan” in years. But obviously NOW – when I’m suddenly disabled, in pain, homeless, and starving is a good time to decide that I OWE HIM $7,000???? 

Our “conflicts” usually involve me asking for a little bit to get by with, and him demanding several thousand dollars in return. Then I usually bring up that he seemed very pleased to pay over $30,000 to have me committed to a mental institution in 2012 for two months for “being too sad”
(They used my epilepsy symptoms to make me look crazy, and looking crazy for having epilepsy makes you sad).

My dad made over $100,000 yearly before he retired at 55. He’s got two new cars in his 5 car garage, and a NEW motorboat, and a camper-trailer, and a giant 3 bedroom lodge-style home on canyon-front property which he had custom constructed for him – complete with a plasma screen in each room.

I don’t speak to my parents any more.I would rather be homeless.
At least when I sleep outside, nobody judges me. 🙂

Anyway, he wrapped up his (UNWELCOME) email with this loving little quip:

You’ve been critical of the financial support we’ve provided in the past,
so please know that

we’re not trying to force anything on you or make you feel guilty about anything.

We’re making this offer because you’ve asked for it, and because we’re concerned about your health and safety, and we want to help you continue to make progress toward emotional stability and independence. If you’d like to discuss any variation on what we’ve proposed, please send me an email.


Stuff my Mom Says

She’s narcissistic.

And the children of narcissists often feel empty inside. To me, that emptiness is a conditioned expectation of disappointment. When you allow yourself to vulnerable, it’s natural to expect compassion. You get your hopes UP! And they have a loooong way to tumble back down as Mom turns away and ferociously cleans (dismantles) the oven. Too many times we’ve expected compassion, empathy, or validation and been let down. The repercussions of this extend into our adult life; we just cage ourselves up after a while.

Vulnerability is something to extend to people you trust, AND we are supposed to trust our parents, right?


Personality Disorder Mom’s responses to my most vulnerable moments over the years:

When I told my mom I was:

Not doing well in 4th grade: We’ll put you in a Christian school where the teachers can ACTUALLY beat you.
Not doing well in 5th grade: SHOW ME THE BRUISES!
(No, but really, she’s abusing us): don’t get ugly with me!


Not into Jesus: I just can’t let you leave this room until you can convince me that you’re not going to Hell!
*Jesus bonus!*: All my friends at Bible study told me that it’s not you, it’s just Satan.. acting through you.
Threatened by a harem of Mexican middle schoolers: Well if you leave school early, I’ll call the police and they’ll take you to JAIL.
Sad-walking alone at night: I just know you’re having SEX! With BOYS! (I was thirteen)
Lesbian: I just know you’re going to get tortured and killed like that poor boy in Wyoming! 
Breaking up:
I thought you two were going to be together forever!
…..except she said it like this:

We are a co-dependent family! Now depend!

sick for several weeks in college: well then, why are you wasting all your time on the phone telling me about it? You should be doing homework!
nervous about adulthood: how can you expect ME to tell the future?
epileptic: (…) oh right she doesn’t answer the phone since I found that out
angry about being abused at school: you were a difficult child!

We don’t have to stay in that cage. We can look at the walls and decide as adults where they should be.

Myoclonus – This one’s for Mama n’ Pa

Myoclonus isn’t fun, and it isn’t a panic disorder.

Does this look fun to you?

It doesn’t go away on it’s own. The muscle contractions are extremely painful and the stigma and embarrassment almost took my life.

I’ve never met someone else personally who suffers from my condition, but there are a few extremely brave souls on the social media who are speaking out. Connecting with these people, if only through their videos keeps me going right now, keeps me sane. Thank you to the brave women (they’ve all been women…) who’ve posted their stories.

Here are just a couple of those videos:

Living with Myoclonic Dystonia
Link redirects to a brave makeup artist talking about how her condition effects her daily life


Young woman with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy who, like me, wasn’t believed for several years.
She was lucky enough to be diagnosed as a teenager.

A Cry for Help — Open Letter to my Folks

Hi Mom n’ Dad,

It’s been a long, slow weekend.  The total count for seizures Fri-Sun now is about 5 or 6. No matter how hard I try I can’t really remember much of yesterday. I’ve been sleeping a lot, which I suppose is good for me. On Friday I collapsed 3 times, and once this evening. I honestly don’t remember much of yesterday.

The collapsing is becoming a real issue, and a huge anxiety factor. Before I broke up with my partner, I could usually count on her to catch me. She knew my behavior enough to know when I was going to fall. I don’t typically have them during the day – they’re more common before 8 in the morning and around 8 – 10 at night. But, like the day I was discriminated against in Vicki Fowler’s office, stress can cause them to come on suddenly. Usually when I fall, I start losing muscle control quickly but am able to simply lay on the floor – or the stairs, or whatever. But when I’m outside, or on cement, I tend to fall much harder than I intended to. I remember hitting the cement pretty hard outside Fowler’s office, then crumpling forward but my partner was already there waiting. My head would have smashed into the cement if it weren’t for her.

I know I’m not safe alone any longer. I probably need someone to take care of me, but I can’t imagine who would want to do that. My good friend has offered several times to get an apartment together in town, but there’s hardly any listings and nobody’s taking me seriously because I have absolutely no source of income.

I’m obviously worried about falling and hurting myself. I can always trust my dog to guard me while I’m passed out, but she was forcefully separated from me in the fake Dr.’s office and I can’t afford the cost of getting her registered even as a therapy dog so she can’t go on the city bus. I don’t feel safe going anywhere without her.

I’ve wracked my brain for other options. Dad offered to get me back to the homestead somehow, but I don’t understand how that would help my situation. He said you would try to find an apartment for me to live in alone, but I don’t see how that helps with my falling-while-I’m-alone issue. I guess it’s just a danger I have to face alone from now on.

I’m still waiting on the neurologists to call and make an appointment. All my friends including my buddy whose girlfriend died from my condition, and my house-mate who is a nurse at St. Joseph’s hospital say that Humboldt county is grossly understaffed medically and that’s why it’s almost impossible to get appointments around here. The under-privileged minorities simply aren’t accepted. Fowler started acting stand-offish when I told her my girlfriend was waiting outside (discrimination). I thought it would make her feel more accountable but instead it made her angry, and I was thrown out. It’s been suggested that I move to a bigger city to look for medical help. I’d gladly pick up and move, but how? I can’t drive, and once I got to Santa Rosa or San Francisco I’d be starting from scratch with no money to speak of. I can’t even afford a bus ticket South any more. I spent my last bit of cash today on some food to get me through this week. I don’t think trying to move by bus to a city I’ve never been to in order to wander alone into more medical facilities looking for help is a good idea.

This isn’t something that’s just going to go away if we ignore it. I may have better days and worse days but epilepsy is for life. I’ve stretched my strength, my pain tolerance, and my money as far as it could go. I stayed employed as long as possible and found a place to stay for the month while I figure things out. What I really need now is some support from my family. Friends have offered to lend me money if I run out of food, and more friends have offered to drive me places sometimes, but I don’t think my friends should have to take the role of my parents. If I was having some sort of mental health crisis right now, I think you guys would be jumping to try and help me make a plan to get better. But for some reason this actual physical illness is sortof passing under the radar. Dismissing me with phrases like, “That sounds really rough,” and “we really hope you feel better soon,” and “I’m sure somehow it will work out,” is grossly disrespectful to my condition, my suffering, and the reality of what I’m going through.

I can’t fix this or make it go away. And I’m doing everything right as far as signing up for benefits. I think I may be able to get signed up for food stamps as early as this week, but state disability takes months to go through. I’m sure it won’t pass through by the end of the month. So when September rolls around, I suppose I’ll be homeless. I’ll try to drive my truck somewhere inconspicuous and camp out of it, but the cops are very harsh on people who sleep in their cars, and the discomfort and stress may cause my condition to get dangerously severe.

Should I keep going down this path of signing up for Humboldt County based benefits? Do you really think that living alone in an apartment in your town, which is even more remotely located than mine, is a good idea? You once spent $30,000 on my ‘mental health’ thinking it would fix my brain – but now there’s actually something wrong with my brain and your nonchalance is painful. Why can’t we talk about some kind of plan for my health? What ideas have you had? Have you discussed it at all, or is this another one of those things “we just don’t talk about?” (Quoted from my brother – ‘It’s just not our family’s ‘way’ ‘)

I’m curious to see how soon I’ll get my EEG. Right now it’s the most important thing for me to get, and the best tool they use today to diagnose epilepsy. If they call me soon and my appointment is soon, then it’s probably best for me to stay here long enough to get diagnosed. But if they put me on a waiting list because there’s not enough doctors per patient in this county, I think I should probably try to get somewhere where I can actually get help. I can’t go on living off a can of beans and a spoonful of yogurt a day, collapsing randomly and answering ad after ad on craigslist saying, “I need a place to live – I’m sure some money is coming to me soon.”

It’s a bad situation, and one I think I’ve dealt with pretty maturely on my own so far. I know you guys have been on vacation and that this is all hitting you pretty fast, but honestly I’ve been having seizures since this past winter. I think I’ve waited long enough for you guys to come around and believe that this is serious. Let’s please talk. Please help me figure something out. I’m not being immature in asking my parents to be somewhat supportive of me as I come to terms with having a long-term and life-threatening condition.

love you,

Dear Mom and Dad from a Psycho-anarchist

Dear Mom and Dad,

This experience I’ve gone through with Sapphira has lit up the sleeping half of my brain which is the “I” when I say “I love myself.” The objective observer who sees through all the jibberjabber which creates a gaping space between the world and that which resonates from a pure place. “I” see. Who I was and who I want to be and who you were too. When I was 11 you were scared, embarassed, maybe? When I was 13 you were exhausted, infuriated, frustrated. When I was 15 I was asleep, I don’t remember who we were. Wen I was 17 and I overdosed on those over-the-counters I was too afraid to see you as anything but impending punishment. I do think displays of punishment were favored over displays of love in our family. When I was 11 I was probably already emotionally unstable. And then I was subjected to trauma, to abuse, screaming, being pushed around. All in the name of God. So I rejected god and everyone who sided with him. Sometimes, on the trampoline, I’d say, “If God doesn’t help me do this flip, he’s not real!” And he never did. And he never helped me escape that asylum of mental torture, not even when I begged my mother – someone I was afraid of – to please help me. “Please help me, she abuses us.”

“Show me the bruises.”

Which I couldn’t. There weren’t any on me that day. You raised your voice after, told me not to take any ugly tones with you, and stormed off.  That is when god, my mother, my father, and myself abandoned me. They haven’t been reintroduced in years.

I still don’t believe in god. I never did. Not for one second. I just wanted to be a part of the so-called community my brothers were in. The youth groups, and church events. They all had friends and I had none. And I thought it was probably because they believed in god and I didn’t. But I think I may have been a pretty weird kid: obsessed with suicide. Bullied in school. I had no one.

I forgive you for not believing me, for making me feel bad about coming to you, my mother, for help when I was 11 years old and being verbally, emotionally and physically abused by a school teacher. I forgive you for sending me back there for another year after that. Mr. Barnes was a much nicer teacher, and we spent more time with him that year. I don’t think about those days very much or the years after them when I was getting in all those fights in school. I remember some really bad things happening, but I just remembered them recently and want to talk to a counselor about it before I talk to anyone else. I’m not sure how to make that happen, though.


I’m sorry for being so angry and so hostile all those years. I remember Dad took me on a nice walk out to the Lake in CC, and how nice it was being with him and he said, “Are you just always angry?” I didn’t even realize I was being aggressive. I wish you had called me out on it more often, but in a gentle way. That’s what my relationship with Sapphira is based on, brutal honesty but gently and with compassion. Please try to understand that I feel let down emotionally because you failed to help me see the extent of my disorder, my behavior, and how it was hurting you. I also know that there was a lot of fear, that I would explode, but is that a reason to just back down and give up? I’m your daughter! How afraid of me are you? I am not a monster. I’m not all-powerful. You give me too much power when you act afraid of me. When you won’t discuss things that bother me or embarrass you. When you say “I don’t want to talk about this right now.” I don’t think it’s wrong of me to ask you to just talk to me. Stop avoiding.

I think it’s time this family had some real dialogue about what has happened in my life and in yours too. I feel like so many of the things that I feel are part of my core personality are swept under the rug and taboo topics to avoid. I know that my temper has been a limiting factor in the past but I promise you it won’t be in the future. I don’t know how much time I have left to spend with my parents and I value our visits so much, I want to make sure everything is right between us before anything happens that takes away from what we have.

We are a remarkable family. My parents have been active, married and happy for so many years and I have slowly come to understand that that is a very rare and beautiful thing. To be clear, some bad things happened when I was a child, as they have in many people’s childhoods, but my parents gave me every opportunity they could. And I have plenty of happy memories to drown out the bad ones.

Mom and Dad, I hope you know that I love you both so much and appreciate everything you’ve done for me and forgive you for everything you didn’t have the knowledge or means to give me. I’m doing the best I can to make this life livable again and the month I spent living in Paggy was instrumental in my slow transition into recovery. My ultimate goal is to be mentally healthy and stable enough to help other people who have Bipolar Disorder. My experience helping my friend Sapphira felt as if I was looking back at a past version of myself, guiding me when I had no one else. And I think she sees my life here with Kylah and on the River as her future, an inspiration. Just like being gay, this illness I have isn’t a death sentence. In a way it’s become a passion and an area of strength and hopefully soon, community.



“I love you for the hardest mile we walked together,”  -Andrea Gibson