Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JKF, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    heart·ache -ˈhärdˌāk/
    noun: heartache; plural noun: heartaches
    -emotional anguish or grief, typically caused by the loss or absence of someone loved.

    That definition pretty much sums up how I've been steadily feeling for the past few months. I know I've updated here and there about my Difficult Child but I haven't touched on the deeper things and feelings that come along with those things.

    Last time I updated, I believe I told you Difficult Child was in the hospital due to a heart issue. I talked to him daily while he was there but I didn't go see him. Most mothers would run to their child's bedside if they had a serious, life threatening illness, but this mother did not. Could not. I just couldn't go see him. I haven't seen him in so long even though he is only 2 towns over. A 20 minute drive maybe. It's not that I don't want to see him. It's just that.....I can't. I can not visit with my homeless son and pretend that everything is ok. I can not sit and eat lunch with him and then drop him off on the street corner or the library and drive away like it's nothing. I used to do those things but I just can not do that any more.

    Difficult Child was released about 2 weeks ago from the hospital. He went back to the streets. Lived in "tent city" for a few weeks with the other homeless people in the area. His 21st birthday came and went. I did not go see him. He sent me a text message, which verged on nasty, but was more because he was hurt. He said that I act like I'm ashamed of him. I act like he is trash. I act like he is no good. And you know what, hearing him actually say those things hit me hard because I DO act like that. I am ashamed of him. I am embarrassed that my 21 year old son is homeless and would rather sit and be lazy and make excuses instead of working to better his life.

    So here we are, mostly caught up, except that I forgot to mention that I received a call from a strange local number yesterday. I answered. It was Difficult Child. Voice panicked, near tears. "Mom, I've been arrested and I need you to bail me out". What?? "Please mom, please. It's only $100. I didn't do anything wrong." I admit, I almost gave in and did it. He almost had me. If the jail would have accepted a debit card over the phone, he would be out of jail and back to his shenanigans as I sit here typing. But they only accept cash and I would have needed to leave my new job early so I could be there before 5 pm. Therefore, I could not bail him out which is a very good thing because he's exactly where he needs to be at the moment. He broke the law (repeatedly) and jail is the consequence of doing so. However, that being said, it doesn't make it hurt any less when I think of my son sitting in the county jail. It breaks my heart. He's called a few times today but I haven't accepted the calls. They are very expensive and I can't afford to waste my money like that. I think his court date is Monday so I'm going to write him a letter tonight and drop it in the mail tomorrow. I will not visit him. Again, I can't. I can't go see my son in jail and sit there and pretend everything is ok. I can't look at him sitting there behind a glass partition in his grey jumpsuit. I CAN'T DO IT!

    It feels like I simultaneously live 2 separate lives. Mom to Difficult Child, the homeless, mentally ill kid who has no ambition to do anything with his life. The mom who allows her son to sleep in a tent in the woods instead of in a safe, secure home. The mom who says no to almost everything he asks for. The mom who won't go see her child when he's in the hospital. The mom who won't spend a measly $100 to bail her son out of jail. Then I'm Mom to Easy Child, my 14 year old, who is an overall good kid with no major issues. That mom is very active in Easy Child's life. That mom spends money on activities for Easy Child and chauffeurs him around here and there and everywhere. That mom makes good dinners, and desserts and keeps her child safe and secure. She even tucks him in every night even though he's almost 15 years old. That mom worries about paper cuts and mosquito bites and can be a bit overbearing at times because she wants to keep her child safe. It's like night and day and it literally drains me at times. And it makes my heart ache because I want so desperately to be the same mom to both of them but I can't. I've tried and it just doesn't work.

    Anyway, thank you my friends for "listening" to me vent tonight. This stuff has been weighing on me heavily and I needed to get it off my chest. Thank god for this forum and everyone here who keeps me going in the right direction. Don't know what I would do without you all........
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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  2. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Oh, JKF. I look for your posts because your son sounds so much like mine.

    I definitely hear you loud and clear.

    Your letter idea sounds good. You can express your love without offering $$.

    My son is 34 and I agree with what you did, though i understand how painful this is. I really, really do. And, you know, i would have almost given in, too. Absolutely. It is difficult for husband and me to this day - and we have way more experience with this than many on this forum. STILL, it is so hard.

    I truly think you did the right thing. It takes some time (hours, days?) for us to remember....How he got where he is, why we feel like we do. The history, where we tried to help and how it did not help.

    But, at first, our Mommy hearts want to reach out & hug them & "fix" it. And, then we realize we cannot. We truly cannot "fix" anything for our Difficult Child.

    You are on my mind tonight - you and your son.

    Hugs. I hope you have a fun day tomorrow. When i first found this forum, folks kept saying Do something fun- for you. and, that was so difficult to grasp. But, you know, you must. You really must do that.

  3. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Oh JKF, I'm sorry your heart is hurting tonight.

    You are being much, MUCH too hard on yourself. You are leaving out the 2nd half of all of those sentences.

    because when she has allowed him to stay in her safe, secure home he has made it impossible for any of his own family members to feel safe or secure.

    or a measly $1 or a hefty $100,000 because her son repeatedly broke the law and she knows that he is where he needs to be right now, and she knows that bailing him out doesn't solve anything.

    His bad choices have NOTHING to do with you, and it is OK that you don't visit him in jail, or anywhere else, where you are expected to make nice faces and act as if nothing is wrong, not to mention fend off the manipulation.

    You were and are a wise, loving mother to BOTH of your sons. I don't even know you, but I know that much just from following your story.
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  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    JKF I am so sorry this is happening to you and to me too.

    The thing is everything is not OK. To act like it was, you would be lying to yourself and to your child.

    You are his parent. You must take a stand for what is right. He was not raised to live in the street, to treat himself as if he has little value and to permit others to treat him as such, or view him as such.

    You are doing as you must. And it feels horrible. How could it not? Your heart is twisted as if it is outside of you. As if you have heart troubles along with your son.

    I am in the same boat. My son called several days ago. He voluntarily put himself into emergency residential treatment because he could no longer live as he had been. The thing is, I made the mistake of calling HIM the next day. He was miserable, angry.

    Immediately, I felt as if it was my life that was intolerable and me that was horrible.

    I take it out on myself and I fear that you do too.
    Who wouldn't be? But the thing is this: it is not your shame to bear. I think you must take on feelings that more appropriately are his to bear.

    I do this too.

    I feel it is my shame. I take on the shame. I take on his distress. And search for things about me and my life for which I should be punished. I am beginning to think that I do this as a way to have some control in a situation where I have none. I think I try to punish myself and make myself feel horrible in some crazy way, so that the universe might spare my child. Some kind of crazy self-sacrifice because I can do nothing at all to help him.
    You did exactly the right thing. It took courage. The consequences of his lifestyle must accrue to him, not to you. I hope in those circumstances I would have the sense and the courage to do the same.
    I know you do. And I want to be the same Mom to my son, as I was before.

    You do not love one child more than the other. It is the way he is living. The life he is living. The person he is becoming, has become, that you do not like. You know this.

    By acting loveydovey would be as if to lie. As if to consent. As if to approve. And this you cannot do. You have not and you will not.

    However hard it is. Whatever the pain is for you. You are choosing for your son. Do not forget that. It may feel like you are protecting yourself. And you are. But you are choosing for him most of all.

    If you were choosing for yourself only you would take the easy way. You would pay the hundred dollars. It would after all be a small price to pay for peace and to get this problem off your plate.

    But you are strong. You are his mother. You are taking a stand for your son because you love him. And you are doing the right thing.
  5. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    JKF, I just want you to know that what you wrote speaks to all of us...certainly to me. Try to be kind to yourself. It's easy to see you love both your sons and always will.
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  6. allusedup

    allusedup Member

    JFK, I am so sorry you have such heart ache and so sorry for the reason why. Copa and the others nailed it and I certainly agree that you are doing the right thing. You have nothing to feel guilty about. I too, tend to feel guilty most of the time when things go badly, especially where my son is concerned. So I empathize with you and understand completely. I just wanted you to know both you and your son are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong and keep us updated. God bless.
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  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    There are places we follow our kids that change us, forever.

    I have done that.

    When they are little, we are sure they did nothing wrong. We celebrate and defend and believe in them with with everything in us. Now we know they did do wrong; now we know the miracle is that they were not picked up, sooner. It isn't the cost of the bail. We don't pay bail or take collect calls from jail because the words the kids say when they are caught are different than the words they say when they are free.

    We cannot enable, and we do not get to cheat.

    We can only say, "I love you." That is the only true thing we know.

    It feels awful but I believe you are handling this well. Gratitude for the good things can help us stay steady state. Especially when these kinds of questions come up, it is a good thing to list five things for which we are grateful.

    That helped me.

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  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JKF, your heartache is the heartache we all feel. It is the heartache we learn to live with. I am so sorry.
    Sending you a warm, caring hug......
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  9. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    And this is as it should be, even if your difficult child wasn't difficult. At different points in a persons life, their parents, especially their mother, act differently towards them. Treat them differently. At 14 I needed my parents physical support and protection. At 21 I needed my parents emotional support and the knowledge that if it got too bad, they would provide a safe harbor for me to retreat to in order to regroup. We cannot stay in that safe harbor for all of our lives. First, the simple fact of the matter is that our parents wont be around forever. They will die, just like everybody else. Second, we learn by failing. We fail in relationships in High School so we are better equipped to be a proper husband or wife later on in life. We fail at so many different things on a daily basis so, when that or something similar happens again, we can do better! Our difficult children want to stay in that safe harbor, away from the possibility of failing because we are doing for them. But, as we all know, we do them no favors by allowing this. Do we, as adults still go running back there sometimes? Hell Yes!! What do you think I did after realizing our son had pawned my guitars? I called mom and dad because it was something far enough outside my comfort zone to not just be scary, but terrifying! Fortunately, they had a bit of experience with that but even if they hadn't they would have been there just to provide moral support.

    Your 21 year old is an adult and needs to learn and the only way to do that is to make mistakes. Let him. Don't protect him from the consequences of those mistakes, and don't put on that happy face and act like everything is all right when you're around him. It isn't and he shouldn't think it is. Be that safe harbor for your 14 year old but as they grown, block them from time to time. Let them fall. They may get a bit bruised along the way but they will learn not to run to you for every little thing. Then you will know that when they call you later looking for that safe harbor, that it is needed, not just wanted.
  10. Childofmine

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

    JKF thank you for sharing your heart with us. You know we do understand. Because we have spent nights, the dark nights of the soul, with the same thoughts and feelings and deep heartache. You are not alone JKF. We are here.

    Please know and please remember that you are not the one who can help him right now. In fact, I came to believe that I was actually bad for him and my engagement with him was a detriment and I still believe it was.

    There is help for him out there from many places. He has to want it. For your sake and for his I hope that day comes soon.

    We're here for you. All the time.
  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    ((HUGS)) to you..........

    It's very normal to feel this way and it takes time to get to where you don't. I've been there. What helped me work through it was understanding the reason I felt ashamed. I took to much responsibility for how my son turned out, I took his poor choices that led to failures, arrests and homelessness as a reflection on me and how I raised him. That big question "what did I do that was so wrong", I had to really look back over the years and what I found was this, I was a good mother, not perfect but good, I loved my son, I was there for him, I gave him stability and security, I taught him right from wrong, he wanted for nothing. My son didn't turn out the way he did because of anything I did or did not do. Bottom line, my son has a mind of his own, he has free will and with that he has made his own choices and those choices have led him to where he is, homeless. When I allowed myself to really resonate on these facts I was able to let go of the shame. As for what others think when they learn my son's story, I really don't care as their opinion of me does not matter. The opinions I value are only from people who truly know me.

    The numerous times my son was locked up I told him he could only call every two weeks because of the calls were expensive. He would try but as soon as I heard the "you have a collect call from a CO correctional facility" I would hang up. Good for you for not answering.

    Ok, you did not allow your son to sleep in a tent in the woods, that's his choice. If you did allow him in your safe and secure home, it wouldn't be safe or secure anymore. Your son should not put you the position to have to say no, he should be taking care of himself. Even if the bail was only $10.00 it's not your responsibility. He did something wrong and got caught, the consequences are his and his alone. Again, he should not put in that position.

    You are the same mom that did these things for D C.

    Remember, we call them Difficult Child for a reason. These children that we love so dearly have made choices to live their lives in ways that we the parents will never understand.

    For myself, I have come to accept that my 33 year old son is not going to live what I consider a conventional life. I don't like it but I accept it. I have my own life to live and I'm not getting any younger so I will not give any more time to worrying and wondering where my son is or what he's doing. He touches base with me every few months and for that I'm grateful.

    You are the mother of two sons. You love them both and that love is constant it does not change but what did change was your son and that changed the dynamics of your relationship with him.

    He is no longer your little boy, he's an adult. His life, his choices, his consequences.

    All you can do is love him. When he calls and asks for something continue to tell him no and affirm to him that he can figure it out on his own.
  12. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My heart breaks with yours -- I'm so sorry, JKF. I'm glad you came here to vent. Others have said everything I'm thinking, much more eloquently than I could have. We all get it. Hugs to you.
  13. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I"m glad Seeking answered you...I sometimes confused your sons stories, so it feels right that she can chime in and empathize.

    I can empathize too. My own heart lurched in my throat when I read what you wrote, because I so clearly remember my son's desperation, and his heartbreaking disbelief when I wouldn't post bail.

    That was three imprisonments ago.

    This time he pleaded even harder, and for more days, because this time he is in the hoosegow for several months at least.

    One night he called and told me he'd been raped.

    You know what? I don't believe him. I think he made that up, coldheartedly, believing that that would be the thing that would upset me so much that I would do anything to get him out of there.

    I didn't believe him.

    In fact, it hardened my resolve. His cries for help didn't land on my heart any more.

    And you know what else? He's been in that prison for 4 months now. He never mentions his claim of rape. We talk for 5 minutes most days...I send him books from time to time, and recently sent him 30 dollars on his commissary to buy a radio...he listens to the baseball games. It feels fine. But I very clearly remember the feeling of falling into a deep well when that sound of fear in my son's voice came over the phone.

    It'll be OK, JKF. It will be as it must be. You have done so very very well.

    I've been ashamed of my son too. And I may well be again. I've wondered about the generosity of my love for my younger boys in contrast to Difficult Child...and then I remember playing air guitar with him in the living room, and all the basketball games together...we had full season tickets for heaven's sake. I loved him and love him still. I know you do too.

    Hugs to you,

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  14. Freedom08

    Freedom08 Member

    I'm so sorry you have to be here but I found myself nodding my head reading your post . I could have written it word for word . I have a 19 year old and 14 year old and I feel like I have failed my older one and have been a different parent to my younger child. It's a journey but one thing that has helped me this week is focusing on my 14 year old, myself and my parents. Distraction does wonders but being completely present and not letting my mind wander has been what has made the biggest difference for me.

    I'm so sorry you are in so much pain. Gentle hugs
  15. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Next time, tell him you are going to call the institution and inform them of this claim. There is a Federal act called PREA, the Prison Rape Elimination Act. He would be immediately placed in segregation pending investigation. And when its discovered that they are under investigation for lying? Well, our investigators are only required to see the offenders once every 90 days and if they think they are lying or withholding information, they wait till near the end of the 90 days. In the best of facilities, Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) aint no fun!
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  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    JKF, I am so sorry. I hear you. Heartbreaking.
    And then the prison rape guilt thing on top of it. You don't know whether to believe him.
    My heart breaks for you.