Happy 20th Birthday to my difficult child......

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JKF, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Today is difficult child's 20th birthday. I truly can't believe 20 years have gone by since he was born. Although I was young when I had difficult child, it was a happy time for us. My mom was very active in our lives and absolutely adored difficult child. She has since passed, leaving us with a huge void in our family. I have a lot of mixed emotions today. It's hard to pinpoint exactly how I feel but "empty" pretty much comes to mind when I think of it. I text difficult child Happy Birthday earlier and actually briefly spoke to him as well. I'm not going to see him today which is hard for me. I'm so tempted to drive 10 minutes south and hug my boy and give him a birthday card but I can't. If I do,that will be the first step in breaking the boundaries that I've so carefully set up. He's on his own today but the love is there. I love him with all of my heart and I hope he knows that.
  2. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    Empty is probably the best way to describe it. We just celebrated my difficult child's 19th birthday and I was glad we were together this year. Last year was too tense and angry to be a celebration. It was more of a survival.

    I hope you have a good day and try to remember that someday you may be able to celebrate with him again!
  3. Childofmine

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

    JKF, warm hugs for you especially today.

    Stay busy, and light a candle for difficult child today, and say the Serenity Prayer and write some thoughts down. A birthday present for him from you, to stay away, to continue to give him space and time and distance to chart his own course and take responsibility for himself.

    There is no greater gift, JKF. But it is so so very very hard.

    We are here with you, and we understand. Please keep posting. We are circling the wagons....
  4. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    My difficult child's birthday is in a week and I was thinking about him too. I have only sent him texts for his birthday and Christmas for the last few years.

    Sadly, I don't really have an address and after his con for money, lies, suicide threats, added to having to call the police to get the psycho girlie (that I had met once) to stop harassing me, I really don't feel like sending a gift and I will never send money.

    Deep breaths, focus on the good memories. Do something special for you.
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  5. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Oh JKF, hang in there. I think you are right not to do anything to compromise the position you have taken. I think he knows you love him and in time he will greatly appreciate your giving him the distance he needs to grow into the independent young man you know he can be.
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I like the idea of lighting a candle for your son, JKF. I know how much you love him.

    A special prayer for you, today.

  7. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    This is a bittersweet day. Have a conversation with your mom in your prayers, and ask for help for your son. I always say this around the holidays - It's only one day, tomorrow is another day...It's only one day, I'll get through this...maybe it can help you, too.
  8. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Thank you all so much for your kind words and support. I have read and re-read your replies at least 10 times today. Today was so hard. It crushed my heart to basically ignore difficult child's birthday. Especially his 20th. A new decade for him. It shouldn't have to be like this but it is and it makes me sad.

    I actually spoke to him a couple times today. I tried to encourage him and remind him that his first 20 years are now behind him and it's possible for him to make these next 20 the best of his life. He didn't seem very encouraged by that so I didn't push it. I also spoke with him about his future plans and asked if he was planning on therapy and medication. He said he doesn't know yet. He is totally against therapy but might be willing to take medications. I reminded him that if he wants a relationship with us he needs to do therapy and we would even do it with him if he thought it would help. He said he'd think about it so I left it at that.

    It also made my heart hurt that only 5 or 6 people wished him Happy Birthday on Facebook. It's like no one cares and that to me is the worst. He has no one. He just posted that his day sucked and "here's to another year of living a bittersweet nightmare".

    Anyway - tomorrow's a new day and I look forward to getting past today. One day at a time. One step at a time.

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  9. Childofmine

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

    Oh JKF, I am so sorry for your day and how things are with your son right now. I do know how awful this is to endure, and on their birthday and holidays and special family times, the pain is exquisite. We just wanted so much more for them, at this point. And for us, with them.

    I have had that very same talk with difficult child---aspirational, let's forget about the past, today is a new day, let's go from there, there is so much forgiveness, you can start over again, right now, from this minute forward. Multiple times. It helped me, just to say the words and I have always believed them and still do. Have no idea what the effect of those words is on him, if any.

    Yes, you will walk the hard road with him. What more can we offer, JKF? He won't have to do it alone. I think you are doing what you must do right now, and how hard it is, but I am glad you talked with him today.

    You know, it is so freaking sad how reduced their lives are. To a single backpack. To a pair of very dusty Nikes. To three pairs of shorts, four boxers, four pairs of socks and three t-shirts, because there is no room to carry any more with them in a backpack.

    To basically no one and nothing. They have put themselves here, we all know that, but it is still hard to watch and to know.

    We, most of us here, we are so blessed by so much, even with the hard burden of our difficult children. I can't believe all that I have. SO and I were talking about that tonight, how his grandparents lived on a farm, had very little money, grew their own food, farmed, were very good and simple people. He worked all summer for them and they gave him $200 at the end of the summer and he was thrilled.

    We talked about how our kids aren't like that today. They have had so much more, they expect so much more, and they don't know enough about that kind of hard work.

    I don't know, JKF. I don't know the answers here. I only know that you have been there and done that, and you are working hard to walk a new way. What else can you do? I don't think anything.

    This walk is so very hard, but please know that you are not alone here. We are walking it with you, praying all the way for each other and for all of our difficult children, that they will have a spiritual awakening and relinquish their solitary life, ask for help, take the help, work the help, and turn and walk in a brand new direction.

    We are walking in a new direction for us, and we are creating that space and time and distance for something new to happen.

    I pray that it will. Warm hugs for you. You are a true warrior Mom.
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  10. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Beautifully said COM. I sincerely cherish your replies. Your words really hit home and I find myself reading your replies over and over again. Thank you!

    You're right - it's so sad that they diminish themselves down to nothing more than a backpack they can carry. And I look around and I am surrounded by more stuff than I'll ever need. Yet I can't offer any of that to my child because he'll take that as forgiveness and things will never change. How very sad. Ugggh!

    My very best friend who's known difficult child since birth just called and is bringing him a birthday pizza dinner at the train station right now. She said it will kill her to leave him there but she wants to make sure he gets a hug on his 20th birthday from someone who loves him. She knows I can't do it right now and she is so understanding about that so she is doing it for me and I can never thank her enough. She's getting her masters degree in social work and works with kids like difficult child everyday but this situation with difficult child is particularly emotional for her and really hits home so for her to go makes my heart swell with such gratitude. I just love her so much and I will certainly rest easier knowing that at least one good thing happened to him today.

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  11. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hi JKF

    I'm so glad that you got to speak to your son today, and I'm so glad that you have a close friend who understands. Pizza on a train station sounds a bit mad as a birthday treat. My son would say "cool!". He would tell you that "stuff" is just "stuff", with his usual cynical view of modern life. He gets it that your son just needs a backpack, that's all my son needs. He would say that you just need to know that you have people in your life who love you, even if you can't see them on your birthday. (He'd probably then continue into a political rant about the commercialisation of everything and how we are forced to spend money on bits of cardboard with cheesy verses and other un-needed "stuff" just for the benefit of big companies who exploit our need to spend money on birthdays).

    You have to smile a bit don't you? How did we give birth to these people?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  12. Childofmine

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

    JKF, what a blessing that your dear friend did this. We need each other so much, and when good friends come through for us like that, well, there are no words for our gratitude.

    There will be "stars in her crown" in heaven. I think one thing we CAN do, in time, is to be that friend for someone else's kid---not our own.

    If I thought I could bear it, right now, I would start volunteering at a homeless shelter or program (not one my son goes to, lol)!!!

    In time, I believe I could be a very good volunteer for a program like that. been there done that.

    Through service to others, we can heal ourselves. I believe that.

    So glad today is the day after your difficult child's birthday! FYI---My son's birthday is July 27---he will be 25. Who even knows what that day will be like?

    I do think I am going to open a savings account and put what I would normally give him in there, and start doing that at Christmas too (if nothing changes).

    One day, I may be able to give that money to him.

    Hugs for you today!
  13. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    This helped me tremendously yesterday CJ! I kept thinking it's only one day. It's only one day. It really helped so much! And I did have a prayer conversation with my mom - as I do often - and the only thing I ever ask her for is to look over difficult child and keep him safe. That's all I want.

    Lucy - my friend said he was quite upbeat and was laughing because she even brought him a cupcake from the convenience store and a candle and she, alone, sang Happy Birthday to him at the train station at 11 pm. He said "OMG - how ghetto is this" but he said it jokingly and they both had a good laugh. She sent me a couple of pictures, and while it was difficult for me to look at them, I forced myself to really look. It was heartbreaking but at the same time it comforted me greatly knowing that he got to have at least one positive birthday experience no matter how crazy it was!

    Yes COM - she's amazing. I am forever grateful that she understands this situation and is there to help me at times like this. She said when she was there last night 2 cops actually approached them and asked what they were doing. She said obviously they were curious because it was quite the sight. My 20 year old, mentally ill, homeless difficult child and my 37 year old well dressed, social worker, bff sitting there at the train station enjoying pizza and birthday cupcakes at 11 pm. She said she went over and spoke with the officers privately and gave them a bit of a background. One officer asked if he was mentally ill and she told him yes, and he said his son is too, with bipolar, so he understands. They said they would be keeping an eye on him to make sure he's ok and no one bothers him. That helps me feel a little bit better.

    ME TOO! I am SO glad!
  14. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    Hi JKF I'm so glad that yesterday is over with and your friend was able to celebrate with pizza & cupcake so he didn't feel alone; she truly is an angel in training and a true friend.

    Angel's 20th birthday is coming up in a couple weeks and I can't help but wonder how 20 years feels like its been 100+ years yet gone by in the blink of an eye at the same time.

    Sending hugs and positive energy
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is regarding how happy your son seemed to be, which brings up something that puzzles us eternally but seems to be common with our kids. While we cry that all they have is a backpack, no future that will sustain them, and are not being responsible and may even be on drugs, they often, many of them, are not miserable. They are ok with living that type of life.

    I recently read a biography written by a young adult who CHOSE to be homeless for over a year. He was also on drugs. He had been told to leave his grandparent's house due to legal trouble. He had a rather upbeat year, although he had to eat at a MIssion that he didn't like because they made the people who were getting a meal sit and listen to a preacher. Cry me a river. Their place; their rules. But he did it until he was late one night and then he was tossed out for being late. They don't tolerate much. He found other places to feed him and was never hungry. He set up a tent in a place he called Tent City and warmed himself with fire. He developed strong friendhips with other homeless people. They helped each other find places to eat, smoke cigarettes (God forbid they not smoke), get the drugs and find the charities that handed out blankets and coats and other stuff. He spent some time in jail for mouthing off to a cop who was trying to make his little band move and was not unhappy in jail at all. He was glad to leave, but it didn't scare him in the least. He had friends there. He did not feel like killing himself.

    After he got out of jail, he went and found another tent city and ingratiated himself with the people there and got close to a few other misfits. Finally, his sister kept bugging him to live with her. He would go to the library and e-mail her and they'd go back and forth. He kept turning her down. He didn't want to do "the family thing" again. So again it was his choice. But eventually he figured it was time to go live with her and her husband. He did not talk about changing his drug use or lifestyle, but he did go and he claimed it was the year he found himself, whatever that means.

    The last he writes about is saying good-bye to people he knows he's never going to see again as his sister lives in another state. He does not offer anything about what happened once he left.

    As I read the book, I wondered how many of our kids have his attitude, while the parents are freaking out, so unhappy and so worried.

    I think some of our kids are ok with being homeless if it means that having a home requires joining society, following rules, and answering to other people. And I do think some are suffering, more because of their drug use than being homeless. But I really think maybe your son is ok with his life. If he was upbeat and smiley...that doesn't sound like he is depressed. He probably knows a lot of people on the streets, but they wouldn't have access to Facebook so he wouldn't get many happy birthdays.

    I am sorry for YOUR hurting heart and for the dreams you want for him that he may or may not someday attain and share. One thing for sure...all of our difficult children are a different brand of person from what is considered the norm. Hopefully, the younger ones (and the older ones too) will grow up. 36 is better than he used to be. Of cousre, he is sneaky and could be breaking the law and not getting caught, but at least he is able to learn consequences now. There was a time that setting boundaries about how he had to talk to me would have not worked. Now it has.

    There is hope for any of our grown kids who care about us deep inside...to at least have a relationship with us, even if their lifestyles make us curl up inside.

    I hope this made sense. I'm in a very "thinking hard" mood since my granddaughter was born. I think about the world she will grow up in. It is both easier and harder than our world was in my opinion.
  16. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    MWM, that was an amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing that.

    JKF, your friend sounds like a real gem. So glad she was able to do that, for both of you.
  17. Childofmine

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

    I have been starting to realize this is a truth for the past few weeks. I do know that this is often said in Al-Anon: Something is backward when I'm upset about his life more than he is.

    It is almost impossible for us to fathom that lifestyle being "okay". I think that is where the real disconnect is.

    While I never want anyone to go hungry, it has occurred to me multiple times over the past few weeks that all of this "help" out there for our difficult children may help keep them homeless and unrecovered. Well-meaning people, churches, nonprofits, shelters, etc.---the six pages of resources I found in my difficult child's backpack----there are so many resources for our difficult children.

    Are there too many?

    I do think we don't get it at all, and we stay all twisted up when many of them are okay with their lives. Or at least it isn't just awful like we make it out to be.

    I wish we could be a fly on the wall for one day. I think we would all rest easier at night, perhaps.
  18. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Yes COM I so agree with this. My son is happier than me. I couldn't live his life, but I do get that it seems to suit him, and he's comfortable in his rags, and I've embraced his need to rage at society and go his own way and squat in a derelict farmhouse and live off the land and from food wasted in supermarket dumpsters. I think he would be a bit shocked if he knew how awful I thought it was. He thinks it's fine, great, ethical, an 'awesome' way to live.
  19. Childofmine

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

    Lucy, maybe through this awful journey, we can learn to accept more fully ALL people who do not think, look like and act like we do.

    Maybe that is a silver lining from all of this. I know that one of my character defects is judging other people. I don't want to be like that.

    Maybe this is a path to learning a new way to be.

    I just want peace, contentment, serenity. That is what I want. I want to live the next 30 years enjoying life, enjoying people, enjoying the simple things of life. I want to live and let live. I want to live in the moment. I want to be thankful. I want to keep it simple.

    I feel like I have once again moved forward somehow, someway. Like RE said to me last week, when I was crumbling, this is another passage on the journey. I believe she was right. I had to go backward to start to go forward again.

    I am continuing to work on radical acceptance. That is the pathway for me, next, I believe.

    Enjoy the weekend---I know you aren't celebrating the Fourth in England (lol! shades of history) but we're all about red, white and blue around here this weekend. We're doing the distinctively American things of going to the lake, cooking out hamburgers and hot dogs, and just relaxing this weekend.

    Warm hugs, Lucy, to you across the Pond!
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  20. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Ha! no, we celebrate March 1st here in Wales, St David's Day, as anti-English in its sentiment as the origins of July 4th. Actually my mother is Argentinian (more recent anti-British history), what a mixture I am! My son is a 'citizen of the earth' apparently (lol), so it doesn't matter that he's part Welsh, part Irish, part Argentinian, part English and part 'bonkers' (as H would say).

    4th July, St David's Day, birthdays, etc ... All these special occasions are difficult when there's someone missing. JKF, I hope you have a happy Independence Day and that it isn't another sad day for you so close after difficult child's birthday.