Ending one horrible journey, beginning another.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WaveringFaith, Jul 3, 2014.

  1. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Hello friends. It has been about 6 months since I posted last about my difficult child. I haven't posted or commented, but I assure you I have been logging on each day and taking comfort in the various comments and advice I read. It still makes me sadly surprised just how many of us there are out there, mothers trying to help, support and love our difficult child's. Mine turned 21 since my last post. I see that it must be birthday season for other difficult child's too. I've gone through the same emotions that I've been reading. I can't believe on this milestone birthday, which should be celebrated and welcome, is spent in a horrible place. Realizing our hopes and dreams of that little child we raised, will never be. Today is a tough day, as he has chosen homelessness than to live in my home and get a job and try to work at being better. He has refused all help. It's been a long road.

    Some of you may or may not remember my story. My son seemed to be the poster child of a easy child until about his junior or senior year of high school. I later found out through therapy that he had experimented with mild-altering drugs, which we feel permanently damaged him, as no doctor has ever been able to figure out what is wrong with him. Two years ago he went off to college, took off without warming, there were missing posters of him, he had left all important belongings behind. He showed up 3 days later and to this day has never shared what he did or who he was with. Just showed up dirty and this was the first sign that something was very wrong with him. He eventually came back to his home state to live with me.

    Fast forward two years. He has lived with me, lived with my parents, seen so many therapists, been on a bunch of different medications-all of which he refused to continue past a month each time, turned 21 and that brought on a new problem of drinking alcohol. My poor mom would find empty bottles of rum in his room when he was living with her, eventually got arrested for public intoxication, has started a fist fight at a local bar, then hit and run as he drove away from that bar and hit a parked car. Thank the Lord it wasn't a person. But this was a couple of months ago, then we admitted him in a psychiatric clinic, he went willingly. While in the clinic, he was given 4 ECT (electroshock) therapy sessions. He did this voluntarily, his recent therapist recommended it since he would not respond to traditional treatments. They seemed to help him and he was released 2 weeks later into my care.

    For a little while there, we felt we had finally found our miracle. He was continuing to take the low-dose antidepressant that he had started in the clinic and he was out looking for jobs and being the child I remember him being. My heart was so full of hope, as was my whole family. I did everything I could to encourage this. But slowly, bit by bit the difficult child behaviors began again. He had met a cute girl while in the clinic. No, not the best place to find romance, but he really liked her a lot and I hadn't seen him interact with anyone his age in 2 years, let alone a girl. He had an extra spring in his step. They agreed they would hang out when they got out. They did. But only one time. She picked him up and they shopped around town. When I asked him later how it went, apparently he came on too strong by telling her how much he liked her, etc.. So he was rejected and that was really the beginning of his downward spiral.

    Since then, he has reverted back to the zombie living in my home. Playing video games loudly all night as me and his younger brother try and sleep, sleeping all day, not doing any chores, eating our food, basically mooching in every possible way. He would go pick up job applications occasionally, and actually get called for interviews, but would show up looking dirty and messy hair. It was like he was self-sabotaging.

    I finally decided, after much thought and my hurt heart and also encouragement from family and friends (and reading similar stories on here), that I needed to let him go. He has refused all treatments, is being disrespectful to myself and my home, not wanting to even be a part of this family. So I gave him information to the local homeless shelter and told him he had one week. This must have scared him straight, because he went straight out the door and came back announcing he had gotten a job. I was proud of him, but I could tell he was NOT happy about it. Like I made him do it. Um yes I did!

    He lasted one shift at that restaurant. 4 hours of work. He came back saying he wouldn't be going back, even though they asked him to show up this morning. I reminded him that if he didn't show up for work, then I will enable him no more and he would have to be on his own. Well, this morning came and went and he was still in his bedroom. I decided that was it. I knocked on his door and told him he had until noon. He was mad, throwing things around in there and later a taxi showed up and he was out the door, slamming it so loudly behind him.

    Here is the part that got me questioning it all. After he left, I felt a sense that I was doing the right thing. He had been given chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity. He was using profanity against me recently, so angry, leaving food and trash laying around in spite. And now couldn't muster up the strength to show up at this entry level restaurant job making appetizers.

    But when I walked into his room all the panic hit me. I noticed he had left everything behind. His wallet, with his drivers license and ss card in it, the bus pass I had recently got him that had $30 on it still, his atm card, his laptop, his headphones that he would always have on, his phone charger. HIS PHONE CHARGER. That is when it hit me that I would not be hearing from him. Nor would I be able to reach him. His phone would die within a few hours (it had a crappy battery), and how would he be able to call me for help?

    As I snooped around even more to see what clues I could find, or just anything, I noticed a crumpled up piece of paper stuffed into a small compartment of his music amplifier. It said "I can't take this anymore. Please don't come looking for me. I don't want to be found. I love you all. I can't put any of you through anymore".

    I dropped to my knees and cried thinking the absolute worst. I did not know if this was written today, or one of the previous other times I had almost kicked him out. I didn't see a pen in his room, unless he took it with him. He only left with a duffel bag. I guess he only took some clothes, because he absolutely left all other items of importance behind, including toothbrush, etc..

    I am trying not to think the worst. I am hoping he has just chosen to be homeless, rather than to work and follow the rules of living in my home. He has burned the bridge of living at my parent's house. He has no friends or anyone else in this big city since he moved back from college 2 years ago.

    But I must remember: He did this exact same thing 2 years ago while at college. Taking off, leaving all items of importance behind. Like he wanted to worry the world, no cell phone, no ID.

    I want to believe that he will be okay. He is 21, he can obviously put on the charm and get a job or help as he needs it, yet there is truly something wrong with him. The depression, the anti-social behavior that has overcome him the past couple of years. He is ALWAYS saying things like "I just don't want to be alive anymore, it's too much of a struggle".

    I just don't know how to handle this new type of torture. It was one thing to deal with seeing him deteriorate in my house, right before my eyes, to have to be onto him about cleaning or telling him to shower and brush his teeth, but at least he was right here, where I could see that he was alive and well and eating, etc.. Now he is out there, in the big city, no way of communicating with anyone, no money, no vehicle, not even any forms of identification. And that note. I wish I hadn't even been snooping around to find it. I wish I hadn't read those words because then I could still just be thinking he is off living the homeless life, like he always seemed to want to do. And now, as I type this, thunder and lightning have begun. The weather report said we were expecting a bad thunderstorm tonight. Oh great, now I have to worry about that too.

    I don't know how to act or feel right now! My 10 yr old easy child is here, asking me if I'm okay. I tell him yes honey, I'm fine, as I try to wipe the tears before he sees me. Even my dog keeps jumping at every sound and running to the door. I can only say to her "I know, Lily.."
  2. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    That is so awful, Wavering. It is heartbreaking when we know there is something so wrong, but we are powerless to fix it. I'll keep your family in my prayers. I wish there was something more that I could offer. Please know we're here for you.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh boy WaveringFaith, what a story, I am so so sorry. I can hear the anguish and despair and fear in your words, and I think I would be feeling a lot of the same. I don't know what you can do, if anything. I guess if you wanted to call the police and report him to the authorities saying you think he may be suicidal, perhaps they might find him and take him to the hospital or the psychiatric clinic where he was before. However, once he is out, you will be faced with the same thing.

    I can't think of any options for you,other then for you to seek as much help and support for YOU as you can. Have you contacted NAMI? They are the National Alliance on Mental Illness, they can be accessed online and have chapters in many places. They are a very good resource for parents, they offer courses that many here have found very helpful. Families anonymous is another avenue of support many here find solace in. Of course, there is also private therapy and parent support groups. I have found this landscape we are on to be so devastating for us parents that more often then not, we must have some kind of professional support to be able to get through it. Please find some kind of support for yourself, some place you can go to find comfort, understanding, empathy, tools, resources and compassion. Having all of that makes the impossible, possible.

    My heart goes out to you, mental illness does so much harm to families, it hurts a lot. I am so sorry. I have a number of family members who suffer from various forms of mental illness, so I can empathize with your sorrow and fear, it is a terrible thing to stand on the sidelines witnessing someone implode and not be able to do anything to save them. I understand.

    In addition to getting support, do kind and nurturing things for yourself. I have found acupuncture very helpful in stress reduction and helping to feel a sense of balance. Perhaps a massage? Dinner with a good girlfriend who knows how to listen without judging and offering advice? A movie? A long walk? Taking some kind of action is helpful to get our brains on a new track. Going to the gym and working out is also very helpful to change the trajectory of the fears we hold.

    I think all of us here who read your post will be able to put ourselves in your shoes and offer you understanding, compassion and empathy. We're here for you WF. If you find it helpful, keep writing down your fears and worries, it helps to get it out and we're here to listen and hold you in our thoughts and our prayers. As we do, we will circle the wagons around you, we will hold you up, you're not alone, we're all here.
  4. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Thank you Calamity and Recovering, for your sweet words of support and comfort. I've had a really good cry, where I prayed that he will be safe and manage somehow.

    It's so weird, when I first looked in his room, I couldn't find his phone charger and that have me a small glimmer of hope thinking "oh, he at least plans to be in tough with the world, he needs to charge his battery". I calmed down a bit, then I noticed it on the floor under a chair. My heart broke all over again and my hope went out the window. So sad he couldn't even give me that small bit of hope. Typical of my difficult child.

    I finally had to tell my mom what happened and she agreed that there is nothing else we can do. Our hearts are broken knowing we couldn't help him. I don't think contacting the authorities would work, he left angry and choosing that rather than put the effort of working. And yes, he would just end up in a psychiatric ward and leave feeling the same. He needs to help himself now.

    My little one needs me and that will keep me going. Thank you so much. I know I'm not alone. I can't control him or the situation. He will do what he wants. I pray The Lord keeps him safe, especially during this flash flood we are experiencing right now.

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    wf please know we are here with you. Yes you are powerless over his life but you are not helpless. There are many tools you can use to help you in living in the land of not knowing.

    At first it is awful, but soon, you can learn to lean into it, instead of resisting it, and there is a growing relief in accepting that we can do no more.

    With a growing acceptance comes waves of sadness and leaning into that grief which also brings healing.

    I am so sorry for where you are with him today. I am praying that this might be a bottom for him and he will get help. If it happens it will very likely come from someone else not you.

    I am praying for you all. Warm hugs and hope.

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  6. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Thank you COM. I feel in my heart it will be okay. Perhaps he does need to hit rock bottom in order to get better. I will look into support groups near me.

    Blessings to you :)

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  7. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    This is my experience. Lean into it and accept it. Look after yourself. You have been trying to help him for a long time, maybe it is time to let him find a way to help himself.

    During dark days my son would often phone me or leave messages full of doom and gloom, saying he couldn't go on, etc. I would spend weeping days and sleepless nights in extreme anxious worry about him and his drama. Then I would hear from one of his siblings or a friend who had seen him and he was fine, bouncing around somewhere laughing and joking with friends. I came to the conclusion that I was his dumping ground for all his angst and that much of his behaviour with me was done for effect. I don't know why. He would throw all his anger, frustration, depression and negativity down the phone to me and that made him feel better I suppose.

    I eventually learned to not take too much notice, to shield myself from the expectation of pity and sympathy and help that he, deliberately or not, elicited in me. He can take care of himself. He needs to do his own thing and take care of himself.

    Try and keep busy, try and be nice to yourself, let the time pass until the hurt becomes a bit less, until you hear that he is ok.

  8. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    LucyJ, thank you.. that really made me feel better. It was a tough night last night. But I prayed and tried to be calm and just know that I did the right thing. I felt like I walked on eggshells for so long because I always wanted to make his home here a happy one, thinking I had magical powers that would lift his depression. He never had to work at anything, and when it got down to the wire where I needed him to take action for himself, he was angry about it.

    Today is Independence Day, how fitting for him. He is finally independent for the first time in his life. He has always either been supported by me, his father, or my parents. Not today. I feel he is okay. I woke up feeling all will be okay, I will focus on me and my little one.

    Thank you so much and may the 4th be with you :)
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  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    He can contact you. I'm sure he knows how to buddy up on the streets and many have cell phones or know how to reach you. He can go to the library and e-mail you if he wants to. If he is punishing you, he won't contact you, but he can if he wants to.

    I agree with the others that you have no control over your son, but you have 100% control over yourself, your reaction to this horrible stress, your ability to seek help and support for yourself, and the ability to give more of yourself to your little child and to YOU and YOUR LIFE. Honestly, difficult children can sap all the air out of the room so that we are good for nothing. But only if we allow them to do it.

    Many hugs for your hurting mommy heart.
  10. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    WF, I'm so sorry. I could relate to your story in many ways. My sons is your son's age. When his drinking was at its worst, he said many of the kinds of things your son said about not wanting to go on. But he would not show up for counseling appointments and would abuse his medications. What alternatives are left for us at that point?

    The last time I asked my son to move out, he left with no clothes and no belongings. When I went into his room that night to turn off his lamp, he had left a suicide note on his bedside table for me to find.

    At that time, since I was paying for his phone, I could tell it was being used and I knew he left that note, that CRUEL NOTE, just to draw blood because he was mad at us.

    When he left his last rehab, he did not tell us he was leaving. We found out several days later, from a third party, and did not know where he was or even if he was alive for over a month. In that month, I later found out, he moved in with some "friends" and had some very scary times before he realized they weren't really friends worth having.

    But he had to find that out for himself. Nothing we could have said or done could POSSIBLY have made a difference. He had to see it, to live it, for himself. He had to see where that road leads and decide for himself whether or not he wanted to take it.

    In my opinion you could not have let your son continue to live the way he was. You would be doing him, yourself, and your youngest a grave disservice by enabling him to continue his downward spiral. Unless he is inheriting a huge trust fund, he needs to work! And wealthy or not, isolating himself, stewing in anger and taking it out of the rest of you is not acceptable. And if he won't get help, the only thing left is to let him go, to let him see where that road leads.
  11. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    I'm so sorry that you are going through this and I know you feel tortured. From your story I would agree that you have done your best and more to try and save him from himself, but if your difficult child is like mine, he will do what he wants to do WHEN he wants to and not really think of the consequences, or what kind of pain he is inflicting on you.

    Could he have gone to a friend's house? Or to the homeless shelter you told him about? Maybe the leaving without any possessions was just a lack of impulse control, plus a "punishment" for you, for making him try and face his reality?

    Is it possible that he left the essentials behind so that he has an excuse to return home?

    The "not knowing" is so very difficult. Your stomach is in knots and you feel like your bowels are frozen. You can't really relax until you know where they are, what they are doing, if they are safe.

    I am no good at giving advice, as I have felt this way many times and haven't managed to conquer my fears. I can only send you hugs and support. I think Time is the only thing that helps us heal-whether it's them contacting us, or us hearing about them through other people, or that we just get used to that feeling of unease. If we are lucky we can distract ourselves and try to put the focus on others, especially if we have other kids. Often when we DO reconnect with them and hear what they were doing in that period of no contact, we are amazed that they were fine. Not living as WE would, but were able to be resourceful and continue on that strange pretzel-like path that gives them comfort in a way that we don't seem to be able to provide.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and hope you will update and post whatever you are going through. I can't tell you how often I come here for solace and empathy and there are so many experienced posters here who can point us in the right direction and give us hope!
  12. peg2

    peg2 Member

    Wavering Faith, I am going to sit down and pray for my son so I will include you too!! Mine just turned 24 and has been out of my home for 4 yrs. now, had to get a restraining order. I am devastated and my life will never be the same; we each cope in our own way. I retreat within myself and "hide out". Mine is homeless but as someone else said, boy, do they manage to contact you if they need to. Friends phones, their own phones(how do they pay for it?), the library internet. Mine is in the next town over and occasionally texts my oldest son so I know what is going on sometimes. Not pretty and I don't want to hear it.
    I can offer no advice because I see a therapist myself to try and learn how to live life as best I can, but I am not happy and am depressed. See someone yourself because there are an overwhelming number of people going through this. Pray that a miracle will happen and pray for God to watch over him, that's all you can do.
    Stay strong, Peg
  13. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member

    Wavering, I ached as I read your post. There is a pain like no other when you desperately want to pour sense into your child and you realize that you cannot--that they are going to do exactly what they want.

    Powerful words of wisdom & strength here help me face whatever's coming today. May it be so for you. Praying for your difficult child & all of the others, too. And of course, for us parents.
  14. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    MWM, Albatross, Blackgnat, Peg2, Tryagain: All of your words rings so true. I have truly accepted that I have no more control. I might have at one time, but no more. He is legally an adult, he has refused my help, and refuses to follow by the rules of my home. I must let him go.

    I did end up hearing from him over the weekend, a text saying he was at the local homeless shelter. He was acting very sorry that he left the way he did and that he knows he worried us. Part of me was relieved just to know he was okay, but sad that he has confirmed he is choosing this life for himself. I can only "lean into it" as COM suggests. The past few days have been horrible, but I am accepting this situation and I hope each day will get a little easier.

    I'm still holding out hope that perhaps this will snap him back to reality and force him to make some positive changes. It's just so very heartbreaking that he doesn't want to live by society's rules, or even mine, which I don't even ask for much.

    Thank you all, your comments and advice have TRULY made a difference. I found a local NAMI group and I plan to start attending, just to have a local group that can offer support. This is so tough, and of course dealing with all the other stuff in life, my other child, job, other responsibilities. I realize I really do need to take better care of myself, my little one needs me.

    God bless..
  15. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    WF, you are seeing progress in him already. Keep doing what you are doing. Keep putting your energy into making YOUR life better, and what may happen is that you are creating some space, and an opening for him to step up.

    He is not on the street. That is good. He is acting sorry. That is good. This is significant progress, already.

    So, don't rush in to rescue him as hard as it may be. You are doing great---you are in some very, very hard days as you are trying to "make a break" with your old behavior. It isn't easy, and that is why you must have support and new thinking pouring into your brain. Read, write, meditate, pray, go to meetings. This is creating new ways of thinking within you.

    Your son is 21. That is a grown man. Keep leaning into that knowledge. I know he isn't mature, isn't capable, isn't ready. But he never will be unless he starts somewhere. That is happening right now, WF.

    Hang in there. Lean in. Lean into any hard circumstances in your life. It is a change in attitude, and it does change whatever is happening.

    (Here is a minor example): Today, I drove a SUV pulling jetskis back from the lake. I have never driven a car pulling anything before. I wasn't sure I could do it. It felt like the skis were too wide for the road. But I decided I was going to do it---lake is 1.5 hours away. We had some very narrow roads with construction and those concrete barriers right beside the car for a long way. I had cars behind me. I kept checking my rearview mirrors. I could feel myself tense up, my stomach knotted, I was gripping the wheel, and constantly checking the mirrors. I was resisting and tightening up to the whole experience, just trying to "get through it."
    Then I remembered: Lean in. Lean in to whatever is hard, to whatever is scary, to whatever is sad, to whatever is upsetting. Just lean into it. Accept it. Embrace it. Feel it. Live it. Once I did that, I started to relax. It was a conscious command I gave myself: Lean in. Quit fighting this. Just embrace it. And I did, and it got a lot better. By the time we got him, I was really okay. I had done great. I did it.

    I am learning to Lean In to many hard things in life---small like driving back from the lake and big, like learning to accept difficult child. This is a very different way of thinking and behaving for me. Like they say in Al-Anon, it is a changed attitude from me. Changing our attitudes is a tremendous first step in being so much happier.

    WF, keep talking to us, and keep your plans to create a support system for yourself. I am praying for you, for difficult child and for easy child.

    Good things are ahead.
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  16. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Wonderfully put, COM. And that example you gave put me on the edge of my seat. It is so similiar to the anxiety we feel with the difficult child's and the not knowing. Each day passed has gotten a little better as I am forced to accept the circumstances. It's just so hard when I picture him just a few years ago, so happy and carefree, not with all these issues. I have to believe all this is happening for a reason. But in the meantime, I will lean into it and try and find peace.

    It does sound a little positive so far, like perhaps it took him being on the streets to realize he had no other options. He has squandered all of the resources and options provided to him by all of us. Maybe that's what it took for him to wake up. Thank you for the prayers and advice. They mean so much. :) I will pray for your situation too. I truly feel we each have a plan and this is just part of it.
  17. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    WF, sometimes the things we say around here sound very strange if they are taken out of context. Here's another one: I was so happy when I read that your son texted you from the homeless shelter!

    He is safe, he is looking around (and maybe ahead a little bit) and realizing you mean it when you say his life is his to live now. I am hoping he will see this as a new beginning.

    It sounds to me like you have given your oldest and your youngest a wonderful, memorable, vivid example of the faith and expectation you have in them to be capable and responsible in the face of their challenges.
  18. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Albatross that made me laugh! It's funny because it made me happy to know he was at a homeless shelter too! Oh the roller coaster of emotions with our difficult child's and the things we end up celebrating. Thank you for chiming in, you made me smile :)