34yo Difficult Child back in area, same ol, same ol

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SeekingStrength, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    Background -for those who do not know me, husband and I have a son who has been difficult since puberty. After finding this forum a couple years ago, husband and I finally stopped enabling. Our, then 32yo, son became irate and sent dozens of hateful emails, text messages, etc. This was almost daily and then down to every few months.

    During the last six months, husband had a fairly nice conversation with him on the phone - not horrible, anyway and we both received a few innocuous texts. Our responses are friendly, albeit short, because we figure he is setting the situation up to ask for $$. So far, he has not asked.

    So....we learned from my brother that Difficult Child bought a bus ticket and is staying with a guy who lives about 15 mi from my parents (about 60 mi from us). husband and I have no plans to contact him, though we did buy him a Christmas card and put $50 in it, should he show up on our doorstep. Now, I totally think we should put the card away for another day. Difficult Child is supposedly in the area for three weeks, then heading back to where he and his girlfriend have been living.

    I just called my parents to wish them a Merry Christmas. They do not celebrate but they are in their 80's and I wanted to let them know they are not forgotten today.

    My dad answers the phone and tells me: they have taken Difficult Child out to eat almost every meal since he has been in the area. Last night it was Burger King. Difficult Child is trying to talk my mom into giving him her minivan. She no longer drives. Difficult Child told my parents that husband and I are alcoholics and that, when he lived with us, we would go out and drink 10-15 beers.

    My dad commented that Difficult Child cannot leave soon enough for him, but that my mom wants Difficult Child to stay in the area.

    This rambling post is just me pouring out my frustration that Difficult Child can still be so mean. husband and i are 62 and 60, so it is not like Difficult Child can hurt our reputations. My dad knows Difficult Child to be dishonest, but he seems to always wonder if there is some truth in what Difficult Child tells them. I did not defend myself on the phone, rather just made some lame jokes about the 10-15 daily beers.

    When I relayed the conversation with husband, his comment was along the lines of, There is no way I can ever have a relationship with Difficult Child as long as continues to be so mean. He acts like a seventh grade girl.

    Thanks for letting me vent on this beautiful Christmas Day. I promise to return to feeling joy.

  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    What a nasty shock.

    No one who has not been through this could possibly understand the multiple levels of betrayal involved.


    Our son did something similar once.

    What he did was wrong on so many levels. That we were confronted with just how far our son had fallen, to have done such a thing, was a betrayal in itself. Once again, we were left without the means to address any of it without making the whole story even uglier than it was. We had learned, by that time, that it was better to do our bleeding in private, and that is what we did. It was shaming. It changed the way those he had spoken to interacted with us for a time. It is still shaming, to know that he did those things. There is a smack of moral depravity in it that shreds the last, lingering threads of hope we did not know we were holding onto.

    What the kids seem never to understand is that the stories that worked when they were teenagers leave them looking not only foolish but morally deficient, when they are in their thirties and still blaming their parents.

    It's a whole new level of embarrassing for everyone involved.

    How awful for all of you. I wonder whether the grandmother will give him the van. I suppose there is a good chance that she will, or son would not still be having dinner with them.

    What a rotten thing to have happened.

    I think there is nothing you can do. Unless the grands are not of sound mind, they have the right to make their own decisions regarding their grandson. The grandson will have put them squarely on the spot, one meal at a time.

    Holding you in my thoughts, Seeking.

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  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Seeking, I am remembering that your parents, particularly your mother, for many years has undermined you and your husband.

    What she is doing now, with your Dad's help, by this past dynamic is made particularly hurtful.

    It is not just helping Son, it is hurtful to you, on her part. It is as if there is a kind of mean and spiteful triangulation going on, where they, your son and your parents, unite against you, telling mean and ugly stories.

    Your son is responsible for his behavior and so are your parents.
    Every single time, every single meal they are compromising themselves.

    I know how hard it is. My son did this about me. A little bit with family but mostly with neighbors. It was ugly. I was pilloried. Still, I do not talk with almost anybody on my block even though almost all of the original people are gone. The memory of it is not.

    Your mother knows what she is doing, I think. Your son is just being who he has been for years now. He is acting a jerk, yes. But your mother and father should not be listening to his gossip. They should not listen. That they are is a betrayal that you do not deserve, never deserved.

    I am glad for you that for some months your son has behaved civilly in the few contacts there have been.

    Your mother and father should never have told you about the gossip. What was the need? You are adults. Professional people, retired or not. What you choose to do or not to do is your business. They should have considered the source. That you guys are the topic at hand is laughable given how your son has chosen to live his life. That your parents listened and even told you is another betrayal, in my mind, that you do not deserve. Never deserved.'

    This story is not a new one. Nor has it happened, just to you. As Cedar points out.
    I am sorry.

    I wish these things had not happened to all of us. They are the worst hurts. Because of the love. This is very rocky ground that love must travel. But it does.

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  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Regardless of how betrayed you feel, or it is, you can't control your parents. There is just no way to control them. Best to go on with your own life and forget about it the best you can't because fighting over it with them will not change their minds (or mother's mind), and will only cause hard feelings. You all don't need that. Don't let him take all the oxygen out of your life. Be good to yourself.

    I'm sorry this has been done to you, but realize it is out of your control and try to enjoy your life anyway.
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  5. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Thank you Scent, Copa and SWOT,

    Each of your responses helped and each of you said some things that I needed to hear....as I knew would happen when I posted this. :):)

    husband, our two younger adult kids and I went out for Chinese food and then a movie. Before leaving the house, husband and I had a short conversation about how surprised we are that each and every time stuff like this happens, we feel stung and hurt for a while. Not for long any more - not like in the old days when we ruminated over Difficult Child's and other family members' words and responses.

    Just the fact that it bothers us at all. Because Difficult Child and my parents have been at this for such a long time.

    Exactly. Thank you for putting it down where I can read what I already knew. It felt great, by the way!

    Thanks again. You folks always fill me when I feel drained.

  6. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Seeking just wanted to let you know I echo the sentiments posted. I am so sorry for your heart ache.
    I do not know why your Mom or Dad would even give any validity to your sons statements.
    It is hurtful.
    Prayers for peace of mind and heart for you
  7. Seeking Peace

    Seeking Peace Member

    SS, it is so true. No matter how often our Difficult Child says and does those things, it stings. It seems so hateful and it hurts deeply. My daughter has done that to us for years now. Oftentimes right in front of me via text while sitting across the table from me allowing me to think we were REALLY connecting and having a great day! I will never understand it, or feel like I can have a truly close relationship with her while that continues. We post about it because it hurts. In defense we try to blow it off, but it still hurts.

    I've teeter tottered between desperately wanting any relationship with my daughter at the expense of accepting the abuse to thinking if THAT is what a relationship is with her, than I'd rather not have any relationship.

    I'm sorry you are going through this...It stings more when your own parents are involved...been there too.

    But WE are all here! WE all know what's real. ((Hugs)) for your hurting heart.
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  8. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hi SS, it's nice to read a post of yours, even though it's a sad one. It seems like quite a while since we had detailed updates on your troubles.

    You knew that things were too good to be true, and that there was some negativitity hiding under the charade of improvement with your son. So maybe that makes it easier to deal with the sting.

    Your parents will deal with him in their own way. It sounds as if your father has the measure of things.

    I hope you managed to have a pleasant Christmas despite your son's mad stories. I hope 2016 brings peace.

    LucyJ x
  9. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    It is like 7th-grade girl stuff, isn't it? I think some people just continue to thrive on that sort of tearing-down, alliance-building drama. And it IS so very...MEAN.

    I think no matter how much evidence piles up, grandparents hold out that shred of hope just as much, or more, than we parents do. This was supposed to be the FUN part for them! A hard thing to give up on. And so sad when our own children see that as something to be manipulated.

    SS, it is very good to hear from you. I am glad you and husband are well and I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas. We skip the gifts and do the movie and dinner thing too -- this year skipping dinner because we went overboard on the popcorn!
  10. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Isn't this a wonderful family to be a part of? I love it that everyone understands everyone else. There isn't even one person on this forum who could possibly feel lonely and alone in our daily lives. Every single time I start to cave or am overwhelmed with all I've put myself through, financially and emotionally and physically, I can come here and feel the love of understanding. SS, we are family and everyone on this forum gets it. Be strong, no matter how difficult it is.
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  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think that parents do not give up. They continue to try to rein us in and to discipline us...not to make us better...(while they may try to justify it this way) but to work out their own problems...the same ones they saddled on us when we were young. It is the nature of things.
    I think it is more that parents (grandparents) hold onto their sense that we (their children) do not get it, have done it wrong...and that they could do it better.

    My mother was always supportive (when she talked to me). But as she got very old, and her health caused her brain to slip, she slipped when talking to me, thinking I was my sister.

    She said something like: "She lets him do whatever he wants. She does everything for him." *Talking about my son and I.

    My mother was not sufficiently involved with my son to deal with him directly, as in your case, Seeking. But she had her ideas. Why did she not try to give me the strength to do the right thing, earlier, with my son? Instead of talking behind my back, to my sister?

    These things are complicated. I had to do everything for myself. Educate myself. Teach myself. House and clothe and feed myself. From 18 on, with a respite when I was 20.

    As I write thus I think there is a dishonesty that permeates the generations, about us. That we may have to always keep in mind. It is a twisted, insidious thing, how love can exist, does exist in these weeds.

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  12. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Oh my! Mine sure do and I thought they were the only ones. This evening, I plan to drink wine and think about what you said.

    You guys are so warm and accepting and strengthening and just so very wise.

    My brother and I texted this afternoon. Brother said that our dad really wants Difficult Child to be gone. My mom paid money on Difficult Child's credit card so he could get a hotel room tonight. My brother commented that our mom wants to prove I am wrong to have stopped helping Difficult Child. Whether he knows that or is guessing, it popped into my head when I read Copa's words.

    I had planned to take my parents out to eat this Wed., but am 99% sure I will re-schedule. Surely, he will soon move back to the area he has been living with girlfriend. The on/off girlfriend seems to be off again ; thus, he is not being supported and hitting up other folks, i.e. 80+yo grandparents.

    Thanks again, each of you.

    It just goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on :groan:
  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member


    You are really out of this, Seeking Strength. It is between them.

  14. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I think you are very smart to keep your guard up. My son has also reached out twice in the past month. My husband has talked to him, I have not as I'm just not ready to go there. He told my husband how sorry he is for all the hurt he has caused me. Maybe it's true, maybe not but like you I'm erring on the side of caution as I wonder if he's just "buttering" us up so we will let our guard down.

    And here's your proof that he is still trying to manipulate. I do hope your parents do not give him the minivan.

    More manipulation for sure. I'm so sorry he is doing this, it's very mean.

    I hope your dad can convince your mom. I hope they have not allowed him into their home as I would be worried about him getting personal information such as SS#'s or credit card info.

    This is just so sad but I totally understand. As I said before, my son has reached out and appears to be remorseful but then again, I don't know what he say's behind my back to others.

    I've always believed in "actions speak louder than words" and I know for me it would take my son years of exhibiting responsible behaviors before I would ever believe he has really changed.

    Sending you warm hugs!!!

    Here's to a New Year and may it be filled with many good things for you!!
  15. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    We are so very far away from my folks so this has not been an issue, I thank God for that. Mom is in her 80's and wanted to reach out to my eldest through Facebook. I nipped that one in the bud. My eldest is anything but herself, and the values we raised her with. I think she could very easily manipulate my Mom, at her advanced age and tender heart.
    I know SS, there is more history to your FOO, and I am so sorry for the pain of it. It is awful, to think our adult children can try to ruin our reputations with our families. I know my two are out there weaving confabulated stories of their "horrible" upbringing.

    It hurts, but I know the truth, and the reason behind all of it. If they have someone to blame, they do not have to look at themselves in the mirror and accept responsibility for their choices. With me, it is my two, trying to drive the wedge between hubs and I. He has finally seemed to figure out the game of it (fingers and toes crossed). So, I do know the pain of this, not with my parents, with my hubs. Things are a bit better, with no contact....(their choice, not ours, they are punishing us....um kind of works out as a good break time for us -you know?)

    You know who you are, and your strength rings loudly through your posts.
    My heart goes out to you.
    Keep your chin up dear.
    A New Year is coming......sigh.

    Yes it does, most certainly, never ending......... but I have to tell you, this song popped into my head reading this......

    Think I will put on some Sinatra.......

    Hang in there love, hold onto that husband of yours and do something special for you guys......
  16. Acacia

    Acacia New Member

    Dear Seeking,

    There is so much validation, support, and compassion to be found in this forum for those of us who are hurting. I can totally relate to having a difficult child who has been difficult since puberty and who continues to try to intimidate, manipulate, etc. My son is 30 and is currently incarcerated, but will be released this spring. I have worked hard at detaching because the help I have given has, for the most part, been misused or enabled my son to keep on the same dysfunctional path. It has been both a relief and a heartbreak to step back. It is wonderful not to have to deal constantly with the FOG (fear, obligation, and guilt) but it is also not in my nature as a mother not to help, so that hurts. I am very apprehensive about his release. He called to ask if he can live with my husband and me, and I had to say no for so many reasons, but I am sure he will try to pressure us in other ways. To me you are behaving in ways that are healthy, responsible, and understandable. It never feels good have someone try to undermine other's faith is us. It is perfectly understandable to not want to have contact with someone who is mean even if that person is our child. I have come to value kindness more than anything else in the world, and I am learning to value myself enough to not participate in any relationships who do not value it as much. ( By the way I am a 62 year old high school teacher).
  17. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Thank you. :)

    husband and I, along with DB and sister in law and nephew, took my parents out for lunch. It was nice enough. Neither fights nor brawls, lol.

    After we dropped my parents off at their house, husband and I stopped at a McDonald's for coffee. As we approached the building, husband was talking to some guy standing just outside the door. It took a few seconds to realize it was our Difficult Child.

    He never made eye contact with me. He asked husband, Did you just happen to stop by? husband answered in the affirmative and Difficult Child responded with Cool.

    Next thing we knew, Difficult Child was pulling out of the parking lot in......my mother's mini-van.

    Difficult Child and I never even made eye contact, although I said Hi, Difficult Child. It took a couple hours for me to recoup. Kept reminding myself that nothing had changed. It was just that I saw my son, who I birthed and loved and read to, etc. And, I had laid eyes on him. That was the only difference. I saw him today. He looked a little poor, but not hungry.

    It took me back, but it is okay. Looking forward to 2016 and very grateful for our group.

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  18. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Seeking, I just wanted to check in and tell you, I have been at this juncture, as far as seeing my eldest, and not even recognizing her. It is a shock, that is for sure.
    She will speak with my hubs, look him in the eye, but not me. It is hard. I am sorry you have gone through this, too.
    I guess this is just a part of all of this, it sure takes some getting used to. The pain seems to lessen a bit each time.
    It still hits home hard. SIGH.
    I am glad you are ok and looking ahead to a brighter 2016.
    We are going to be okay, one day at a time...I too, am grateful for our group.
    Take good care of yourself.
  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    There is too much pain for us.

    How are you doing, Seeking?

  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm reading along SS and sending warm hugs.......seeing your son so unexpectedly must have been jarring, I hope you've recovered and that you and your husband are back on track and enjoying life.....