How is my Difficult Child going to survive the winter in Colorado?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by blackgnat, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    And how can I live with the fact that he may not?

    Any experience from the warriors?
  2. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Oh BG, such a worry for you. There must be shelters there in Colorado.
    I have not had experience with it, but saw your post and wanted to check in.
    I am sure others have had this experience and will reply accordingly.
    We have a rainy season here, but not the cold. My d c is out there. They network, homeless do. I know a lot of them resist going to shelters because of the rules. I have encouraged my daughter in the past, to seek treatment, and help, but she has always replied she is not ready.

    One day perhaps.

    You are not alone with your concerns.
    I am sorry I cannot help you with your specific question, but I do care, and know how you feel.

  3. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Thanks, New Leaf-I know you care.

    He called a couple of days ago-has a great sleeping bag and back pack and a ski mask, like a bank robber (don't get me started) and said he has been keeping pretty warm at night. That when he woke up the other morning, he didn't even realize that there was a light frost on his stuff, because he'd been so insulated. That was all I needed to hear.

    But now it looks like it's going to get bad and I just hope he can help himself by trying the shelters or connecting with more of his street community who know places and have resources. I guess time will tell.

    Why these dcs don't choose to be homeless in bloody SoCal or Florida is one of Life's mysteries...
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  4. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Hi Blackgnat,

    Well unfortunately I have experience with just this situation. A couple of years ago my son was homeless in Denver for about 4 months, October thru January. So I totally understand your worries. My son did survive and I will say there are some really good homeless programs in Denver. How old is your son? There is a good program for homeless youth, but also some good programs for adults. My son lost his ID and we were actually able to go online and order another one and have it sent to one of the programs where he was able to go and pick it up. So yes there are ways to survive. If you PM me I can get you the names of the programs I am talking about.
  5. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi BG,

    I can speak from personal experience on this one. My son has survived some harsh winters in Denver and he is not one to go to a shelter. He has lived under a bridge and in abandoned buildings.

    I also worked in downtown Denver for many years and saw the same homeless people daily. I learned quite a bit about how they live and survive. They panhandle and manage to get enough money to eat on. There were times that I and others would buy a couple of hot dogs and a pop from the street vendor and give them to a homeless person. As for shelter, they will find abandoned buildings to sleep in. Of course this isn't ideal but they do manage.

    The Denver Rescue Mission seeks out the homeless and encourages them to go to shelters but many won't go, they prefer to live the way they do. The homeless people actually network together, they learn from each other where to go and how to get help. Being homeless in a big city is better than being homeless in a small town.

    The hardest part is accepting that our adult child chooses to live this way.

    ((HUGS)) to you..........................
  6. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Ohhhh BG that's hard to hear. I have not had contact with my two for just four months now, it's a kind of ignorance is bliss thing for me. My d c's have taken advantage of our home, come around when we are at work and break in through a screen, like that's what all adult children do. Huh.
    I am reminded of your October post, asking if you are dead inside. I think I have hit a numbness like a hard scab over a cut. It doesn't hurt to the touch, you know? Not completely healed but getting there.
    It is hard, what we all go through here. I don't think people really understand unless they have gone through it themselves.
    Just when things seem to be settling, one of my two calls or comes around, and it starts up all over again.
    I hope you are feeling better BG.
    What do you do to replenish yourself?

    Take care
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  7. Childofmine

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

    Hi BG, when the weather starts to change, I know many on this board start thinking about their loved one being out in the cold.

    My Difficult Child was outside for several winters, too, but not in Denver, in the South, but it was very cold many days here as well.

    Tanya gave you important information...I wanted to add to it. My good friend is a priest in a downtown parish and he has worked extensively with homeless people. I remember about two years ago he and I had a long conversation when Difficult Child was homeless, and it gave me new perspective. Like Tanya said, many don't want to go to the shelters due to rules, noise levels, lack of privacy, etc. They would prefer to stay on the street, make it as best they can, and they have a community of people to interact with.

    My son was like that. He would go into the shelters on the "coldest nights" which was actually the name of the program one of the nonprofits ran. One winter he lived outside a McDonald's in a major city four hours from here for a month (not as cold, it was October) and then for another 10 days over Christmas and New Year's during some of the coldest times. He slept outside next to the HVAC unit and evidently the McDonald's people allowed that/tolerated that and also he could eat there for free/next to free and hang out there.

    I remember being absolutely sick with worry and guilt about him being there, especially at the holidays (but not sick enough to tell him to come here, still) and then I learned...he was sitting in the McDonald's back office smoking bummed cigarettes and using some employee's phone.

    That was a wake up call for me. He is a SURVIVOR in all capital letters.

    The priest talked to me a lot about the network and the services and the community that exists---like an underground economy of sorts---for homeless people.

    That conversation allowed me to step back and let it happen.

    My dear friend's daughter is a social worker in Denver. Her job is to seek out homeless people and try to hep them get access to services. I hear multiple stories all the time from my friend about her daughter's work. It sounds like Denver has many, many services for homeless people.

    Hang in there. It's still hard. We're here for you.
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  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    BG, your son is a SURVIVOR, like many of our kids, he is going to do it HIS way.

    My brother lived on the streets of Los Angeles for years and years and years. He was connected to a large group of homeless folks who to some degree looked out for each other. There is a community within which, they find ways to survive.

    My daughter has spent time being homeless as well.......I spent many a sleepless night during the winter months worrying about her........recently I told her that she is the strongest person I worry about her has subsided now that she has found a relatively safe couch surfing gig.........after so many years of worrying about her, I now see how resourceful, cunning and strong she is, she is a SURVIVOR in every possible way......your son will find a way....... or make a way........

    Sending big hugs BG, this stuff is hard. Hang in there. We're here for you......
  9. Hopeful97

    Hopeful97 Active Member

    Wow thank you I have a little more hope that my husband and I will come through this even though we both feel like we are losing a child.
  10. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member


    I'm so sorry this is happening.

    We are here for you. Please stay with us. We will get through this.

  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It helped me to call the shelter daughter refused to use. They were very nice to me, answering my questions about their rules, and safety and so on. Talking to a real person, learning just what the programs were, knowing there were food kitchens and places for her to get warm clothing ~ that helped us. Still, we could not do it past a certain point. We decided to rent her something cheap until we got home. That is how hard it was, blackgnat, to think about. We learned then that daughter had been blackballed from even the worst dives in the City. Daughter survived temps sometimes as low as thirty to thirty-five below zero with blizzard winds. I agree with the other parents that the homeless form communities of support, and that this is how they survive.

    It was an awful time for us.

    As our Seeking Strength tells us, stay close to the site through this time, blackgnat.

    We will get ourselves and one another through this.

  12. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Thank you all for your sympathetic and supportive replies.

    Tanya and toughlovin, my son is in Boulder but has been in the Denver Rescue Mission before-was even in the New Life program a couple of months ago. "Didn't like it" and didn't want to go back. Part of his reasoning was that when he went out into the alley to smoke, people would be drinking and using and it was too difficult for him to be around that. Hmmm.

    Currently he is not drinking, in regular contact with the Mental Health Partners and his dr, who gives him his medications 3 times a week. Good strategy for him, or he'd take them all at once. But I know he is availing himself of the legal weed and doubtless lots of other illegal substances, too.

    I agree that there are a lot of pretty good resources in the general area he's at. He called yesterday and said his sleeping bag is still working really well but he's not sure what will happen when the snow really starts coming. He apparently has a list of warming shelters for when that happens. He did lose his Illinois ID but seems to be getting stuff without it. (But I would like to pm you about the ID info you mentioned, toughlovin, thanks) You are all so right about the network of resources that the homeless community has and the connections they make. I believe he is a LOT more savvy about living on the streets.

    My heart just sinks when I go outside and it's windy and cold and I know that I can be warm and safe when I want to be. Still, always THEIR choice, right?

    He has to go to court on Dec. 23rd and thinks he might have to go back to jail. Says he's not looking forward to that, but as we discussed, it'll be 3 hots and a cot and he is looking forward to be able to watch TV. Expectations seriously lowered, haha. If he goes to jail, it'll be the THIRD year in a row that he has spent Christmas, New Year and his birthday in jail. It'll be his "Golden" birthday on December 27th. Some gold, huh?
  13. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Cedar, I imagine it would be enormously helpful to talk to someone in a shelter-I may well do that...
  14. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Child and RE, I completely concur with you that my son (and most of our dcs) are SURVIVORS.

    This knowledge, given his circumstances, comforts me. And perverse as this sounds, there's some messed up nugget in my brain that is grudgingly respectful of this. Or a little bit in awe of his chutzpah. Or have I lost MY marbles? Can anyone relate?

    Or should I be ashamed, because he's usually scamming someone to get what he needs? Maybe I've been drinking too much of the Kool-Aid.
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    No. We will make it through this in a stronger way if we refuse the negatives we are able to recognize. Your son was raised better than to do what he is doing, but he is choosing to do what he is doing, anyway.

    There is no shame in it, for you. If shame were helpful, if it made us stronger, if it helped us know how to help ourselves or our kids, then we could entertain it. Shame will weaken us, blackgnat. If we can strive for steady state in the face of most things, we will be stronger enough. Daughter's homelessness in winter was one of the hardest things we have faced. Believe your son is resourceful, and that he will survive. In a sense, in that they choose not to use the shelters, they are very much choosing the streets.

    Save calling the shelter for a time when it is cold, and you are more than beside yourself about what to do.

    It is a very hard thing when a child is homeless in Winter.

  16. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    BG, you are in my thoughts and prayers, we are in a tough, tough place.

    I like the encouragement that our d cs are survivors. I do know, if mine were still with me, I may not survive.

    You have not lost your marbles or had too much kool aid.
    I think it is called radical acceptance.

    So we are radical

    1.(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
    1. "a radical overhaul of the existing regulatory framework"
      synonyms: thoroughgoing, thorough, complete, total, comprehensive, exhaustive,sweeping, far-reaching, wide-ranging, extensive,
      "radical reform" across the board,profound, major, stringent, rigorous
    Yup, thats us

  17. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Blizzard in Denver! Haven't heard anything from Difficult Child.

    He called me last night and one minute was talking coherently, the next minute he was talking absolute nonsense. I think he must have been high on something. He was calling from the library and I told him to go get a pen and take a number down. He did this but had no paper. He went to get paper and never came back to the phone...

    And now this. How is anyone just supposed to get on with their bloody LIVES?
  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    There is no way, blackgnat.

    So, we take it one minute at a time. Go to Denver, if you need to. Help him there, if you need to.

    But it would be best for you and for him if he did not come home.

  19. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Hi, Cedar-yep, there's no point in him coming here -CHICAGO!!! WINTER!!!-besides all the other reasons that it would be terrible in every way.

    The blizzard apparently barely touched Boulder, (where he spends most of his time) so that was something to be grateful for. And I feel that he'll find a way to get out of the cold when it does come. I just had to vent at the time.

    I just started a seasonal job in retail-and though I'm retired, I'm still subbing during the day, with Special Education kids (0h, the irony!) . My last post about the blizzard was written after I had just got back from my first 8-4 (school) followed by 5-10 (retail) day. I was dead beat, no inner resources.

    I'm too damn old for this-today I cancelled my sub job and am taking a day for ME and my mental health!
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  20. Childofmine

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

    Job One is taking care of YOU, BG. So glad you are doing that today.

    Our DCs will take care of themselves as they choose to do.