I have elected to tell my son to get treatment and be sober before we talk again.

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by kennedyland, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. kennedyland

    kennedyland New Member

    Two weeks ago I left a message on my son's telephone that I didn't want to see him or talk to him until he gets treatment and proves he's working on sobriety. This was the result of 13 - 14 years of trying to work with him to convince him to try to get sober. None of it has ever worked. When he was in high school I spent all of the money I'd saved to put him into college on treatment programs, counseling, a sobriety high school, half-way homes, and so forth. He rejected all of it. Indeed, at the time he said, "When I turn 18 I'm going to do all the drugs I want and you can't stop me." My reply was, "Fine. Then I'm not paying for college until you get sober and have a sponsor." His mother, my ex, had/has a different point of view. She paid for college although he dropped out the first semester. She sent him back two more times and he dropped out both times. He was jailed for possession and we got a lawyer and bailed him out. He's lived in awful apartments, he doesn't wash his clothing, goes from being nice to lethargic, to arrogant, to angry, and back again. He is almost 29 years old. His mom pays his cell phone and health insurance. I refuse to do so. I've done ALANON for over 12 years. I've read books, been to counselors, and I've been as patient as I can be. I've said no to requests for money, for rides, for dozens of things over the years. Two weeks ago I went over to the house where he lives. I could barely get to the house because of the thick ice on the sidewalk. When I got to his bedroom (this was at 11:15 in the morning. He was still in bed.) I could barely open the door. It was trash covering the whole floor. It smelled. He looked a wreck. That was when I snapped. I couldn't do this to myself anymore. I couldn't pretend to put up with these lies, indifference, smells, arrogance, and so forth. He called me back and left a vile text message calling me and my wife every name in the book. I informed his sister and mother what I was doing. His mom never responded. His sister took his side and canceled a visit I was to have that week to see her and my grandson. She has since blocked me and my wife on Facebook and doesn't respond to my messages. She's never had ALANON training or any experience in dealing with this since she has been away for 12 years to college, job, and so forth. I know her response is through ignorance and not clear. However, I am being treated as the problem and he is the little saint. This hurts. This really hurts. I love him. I love her. I just hope there is light at the end of this tunnel. I'm being strong, and hanging in there, but it comes at me in waves. Any thoughts?
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I found out long ago that the person who blows the cover and stops going along with ignoring the elephant in the room is the person who everyone hates. That is because it is easier for them to go along with things as they are than to have to change. As you know from al-anon, if you change so does everyone else have to and that is painful. When one person changes the whole balance of power thing in the family is disrupted.

    Many years ago when I was in my late 20's/early 30's I began getting help for my codependency with my alcoholic father. I was literally disowned by the rest of my family even though they all knew dad was a raging alocholic that made all our lives h*ll. I finally told him he needed help and if he wasn't going to get it I was no longer going to allow him to ruin my life. For the next ten years I had no contact with my parents or sisters, who all continued to endure his craziness as I began the long road to recovery. When my daughter fell victim to the same disease of addiction I knew what would happen if we didn't take the steps to confront it. Fortunately my husband and easy child was on the same page.

    You know that you are doing the right thing. You cannot continue rescuing your son. You can encourage your daughter to attend al-anon or other support groups that will help her understand the role each person plays in a family with addiction. Perhaps she is afraid that if you withdraw your support she will have to provide more. Remember the balance that the family is constantly trying to achieve so when you withdraw they have to fill in.

    If you all would withdraw your support just possibly he would then have to get help.
  3. kennedyland

    kennedyland New Member

    Thank you. When I hear voices like yours, I feel strong.
  4. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    This is a very hard road. Take courage. I know you feel conflicted because you love your son, as well as your daughter, and no one wants to lose the people they love. As Nancy so aptly put it, maybe if everyone withdrew their enabling support, your son may actually have to pull himself together. I'm sure he just hates himself right now, and the cursing thing is just deflection. If you keep strong and lead the way, perhaps everyone else will follow. Perhaps not. If not, at least you have to go on with your life.
  5. Karenvm

    Karenvm Member

    Wow. When I read your story, it is crystal clear to me that you are doing the right thing, and that likely the reason your son got to the age of 29 while acting like he is 15 is probably because of those people who are "on his side". I am years ahead of you, in that my son is just turning 18, but I too, have reached my limit. It is a very sad, very difficult place to be in, but we have to keep our OWN sanity in mind. In my case, I also have to think about the lives of my 9 and 14 year olds as well...having an 18 year old drinking, pot smoking, lying son in the house is not good for them either. As much as it hurts to admit that.

    Stay STRONG!
    You are doing the right thing, and I bet that in time, your daughter will come around.
  6. ILMS

    ILMS Guest

    My son is only 19, so I am not where you are. But I am more fortunate than you in that everyone is in agreement with what I have done, which is kick my son out of the house and totally refuse to support him in any way until he gets the help he needs. I haven't got to the point where I don't talk to him, but I am sure I will get there if he continues down this road he is on.
  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Yes you are doing the right thing...One thing that some good friends shared with me who have been through all of this is that "we are seeing two different movies, with two different perspectives"...and I think that is often true. So your ex and you are seeing the situation through two different lenses. It is a lot easier when you are seeing the same movie, but just because you are interpreting things differently doesnt really mean that one of you is wrong. Although to be honest I think enabling him the way your x is, is just helping him continue his drug use. on the other hand i am not sure i could cut off all contact with my son bcause iwould worry to much...but then my son is only 21.

  8. kennedyland

    kennedyland New Member

    After 13 years of talking with him, compromising, tip-toeing around issues, confronting issues, using logic, being loving, making suggestions, giving gifts, using tough love, taking him on family vacations, and on and on, I hit a wall. I was trying to understand something for which there is no logical understanding except for one thing - the drugs are guiding his life and his choices. I could keep doing this for another ten years with the hope that he would/will wake up one day and realize the choices he's made are poor, however, the chances of that happening in the context of my drifting along with his addiction problems were nil. As much as I want to take care of him and help him get help and get sober, it's not going to happen until HE makes the decision to get help and to beat this thing. In the end, the only person I can take care of is myself. As long as other people continue to provide band-aids to his problems, and continue to let this whole thing limp along, nothing will change. I can't control their choices or his decisions just like they cannot control mine. I hope he gets help. I hope he pulls it all together and does something constructive with his life. The moment he seeks treatment and shows he is serious about sobriety I'll be there. Until then, however, I can't watch or participate in this crippling behavior. If any of you have a child in their late teens who is going through this, NOW is the time to get tough. Don't go along for years with the hope that that person will wake up as if it was all a bad dream. Get tough, get real, and be strong. My situation has brought me to a very painful but necessary choice. Not letting him talk to me is heart breaking. I really miss him, but it is something I need to do for my own growth and recovery. What puzzled me the most was his sister's cold response to my actions. With Nancy's comments and the comments of others, it is clear that I have upset the apple cart and subsequently, caused everyone to reevaluate their choices of how to respond to him. I hope you never have to get to where I am, but if you do, don't hesitate to do it. Having a little chance is better than no chance.
  9. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I totally agree with you! Alanon really has helped me get to a similar place. I think it really comes down to taking care of yourself and doing and taking the stand that helps you. So if not talking to your son until he is sober and getting help is what is right for you then it is the right thing to do!
    I also think that for many (probably most) addicts nothing really works until they want help and most dont get to the point where they really want help until they get to the point where their lives are not working...and so when we rescue them, help them, save them all we are doing is prolonging that point where they have strong enough motivation to get help.

    Thank you for sharing because it is a good reminder to me that we have been doing the right thing... my son is 21 and we have gotten tough and after many cycles of rehab and leaving etc. we let him be homeless for 5 months which eventually led him back to treatment and he is now living in a sober house. he is having some struggles but is making progress.

    i hope the rest of your family stops enabling your son and he gets help...do realize when that happens that the process of recovery is not a straight line. TL

  10. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I could take what you have said and print it and pass it out to everyone in our parent support group and they would all shake their heads in agreement and paste it on their refrigerators as a daily reminder. Thank you for that.

    "The moment he seeks treatment and shows he is serious about sobriety I'll be there. Until then, however, I can't watch or participate in this crippling behavior."

    This is so true. I once told my daughter that she was killing herself and I could not and would not watch that happen.
  11. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    (Quote) If any of you have a child in their late teens who is going through this, NOW is the time to get tough. Don't go along for years with the hope that that person will wake up as if it was all a bad dream. Get tough, get real, and be strong. My situation has brought me to a very painful but necessary choice. Not letting him talk to me is heart breaking. I really miss him, but it is something I need to do for my own growth and recovery. What puzzled me the most was his sister's cold response to my actions. With Nancy's comments and the comments of others, it is clear that I have upset the apple cart and subsequently, caused everyone to reevaluate their choices of how to respond to him. I hope you never have to get to where I am, but if you do, don't hesitate to do it. Having a little chance is better than no chance.

    Read more: http://www.conductdisorders.com/for...ber-before-we-talk-again-53168/#ixzz2P2ct0c00

    Well said, Kennedy, I couldn't agree more. Giving in to them may feel good in the short term but it allows the situation to go on and on and on...
  12. Detoxcenter

    Detoxcenter New Member

    I read your story, kennedyland, i am definitely supporting you with this. You're a wise man and as far as you told us your side of story, i think you are covered with people who don't want to hear and see truth and who don't want to be responsible. All i want to say is just hold yourself. You are good father and everybody in this forum going to agree with me. Just be patient. It'll eventually come to you. Good luck. Hope to hear from you soon.:mcsmiley1:
  13. kennedyland

    kennedyland New Member

    First, I want to thank everyone for all of all of the wonderful support as I work my way through all of this. Second, I want to give an update on how things are going on.

    I have been sending my son weekly text messages offering encouragement to seek treatment, telling him I miss him, love him, and that I will be right with him the moment he gets treatment and is sober. As far as I know, that situation has not changed, and I don’t expect anything to change because of all the support he gets on the other side of this business from his sister and mother.

    His sister called me about two weeks ago to say she is going to have a baby girl. It was a short, friendly conversation and we simply stuck to that subject. My wife and I sent her, her husband, and her son some gifts of congratulations. I never got a response. I sent her an email telling her we have sold our house and that I love her, but no response.

    I don’t want to get into any sort of argument with her about this or even raise the issue since she is pregnant. She has already told me that if I upset her and she loses the baby, it’s my fault. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 isn’t it? So, I’m simply going to send messages of love, support, and caring to her.

    Oddly, I’m not angry with either of my children (He’s almost 29 and she’s 32). I don’t see the point. They are living their lives and their choices differ from mine, but they’re adults and it’s their journey; just as it is my journey and my choice to cut him off until he seeks help.

    My daughter is making what she sees as a caring choice to stand by her brother. Of course, she lives several hundred miles away and doesn’t see what is really going on. His living conditions, his moods, his stubbornness, and so forth are all pretty much unseen by her. Their mother, my ex, who pays for his cell phone and health insurance, doesn’t see it as enabling and is offended that I say it is. I have a rather sneaky feeling that she is supporting, and even encouraging my daughter’s choice to cut me off.

    To add to that, I have a sister who pays her 35 year old son’s mortgage, drives him around because he lost his drivers license due to a third DWI.

    Plus, my mother continues to support my 52 year old brother who was into meth, currently goes to AA meetings (and then right after the meetings goes out for beers), and always seems to have one crisis after another. He’s always claimed he was innocent in everything – like when he was in jail for cell phone theft, and then another time when he was saying he didn’t realize the woman he was living with was using his apartment for a prostitution ring. (He said it must have happened while he was sleeping.)

    With this kind of situation –backing him up and making me the evil dad – I can’t win. However, I won’t cave in to this nonsense. I love both of my kids and I place my hope in the future.

    Again, thanks to all of you for your support. I won’t pretend that this is easy. It’s very hard. Let me say that again. It’s very hard. But with your support, going to ALANON meetings, the support of my wife, and the strength I can draw from my hard-to-define-faith, I’m going to get through this. With any luck, he’ll get it together and she’ll learn that her choices are, perhaps, not wise. Thanks.
  14. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    When I read your posts, I feel like you are the only person in your family (wife excluded) who is rational - everyone else is rationalizing. I often feel that way too, I'm sure all of us on this board feel that way pretty often, too.
    It's hard, but you're doing amazingly great. Keep it up - we are all here for you.
  15. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I love the strength I see in your postings, Kennedyland.

    There is no easy way to do what parents of children who are self-destructing have to do.

    As Recovering so often says, it is about making right choices and then, taking care with our fragile, transparent, vulnerable selves. We are in such pain, and there is no surcease.

    To all the wonderful advice you have already received, I would add this: There is so much guilt and shame involved when a member of our families is choosing to go a wrong way. If a family is enabled to push responsibility for the addict's path to someone ~ anyone ~ else, they will do so. You can't blame them, really. Helplessly watching the day to day tragedy as someone we love self-destructs takes its toll on our own lives, on our own sanity and self concept. No one willingly accepts responsibility for the addicted family member. If you are feeding, clothing, and counseling him, they don't have to know the horror of it, the day to day, minute to minute futility. If you can turn the sense of betrayal into an understanding of the why behind it, I think it will be easier for you to understand your family's reaction. (This was made crystal clear to me in your daughter's statement that you would be responsible if she were upset and lost the baby. Wow, that was cold. But then...she is afraid, too.)

    It is so hard to work through the bitterness without becoming bitter, ourselves.

    Love yourself, love your family and addicted son. Surviving the horror is what this is about. Salvaging the love you all once felt, remembering and honoring the dreams you all shared before things went wrong, that is what matters.

    If there were some magic pill, some magic something, that would make things right again, we would all do that in a minute. There is no such thing, yet. Maybe one day, there will be. But for now, we do the best we can, the best we know.

    We survive it. We find joy in the little things, and that helps us to be stronger.

    Your posts have helped me to be stronger. They have helped me to understand the reactions of my own family with a little more clarity, and have enabled me to forgive with a little more generous heart.

    That is the path we need to visualize, so we can remain true to ourselves while loving and coping with the horror of a child's self-destruction.

    Good job, kennedyland.

  16. kennedyland

    kennedyland New Member

    To continue this drama......... I've had a minor "breakthrough". A few minutes ago (around 6 a.m.) my son sent me a text. This is the first communication from him since this started and he sent that insult-filled text a few weeks ago when I told him I would not talk with him or see him until he got treatment and got off drugs. The message read, and I'll paraphrase, "Why don't you apologize and admit you are wrong and that this is all your wife's (his stepmother's) idea. I'm afraid that if one of us dies this will ruin things for us. I can't sleep thinking about all of this." This is interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all, he's never up at six in the morning. Second, he's deflecting the problem and assigning blame to my wife. Third, he wants me to admit I'm the one in error so he can continue his lifestyle with both rationalization and justification that none of this is his problem. My wife and I are moving away in about two months, and I think that weighs on him. So what do I do next? I'm going to stand my ground and not see him until he gets treatment. Do I send a text as I do each week telling him I love him, miss him, and that I will see him once he's seriously in a treatment program and sober? Do I write a long letter? I do want to let him know that my wife is not the person who started any of this. Any suggestions? Clearly, he's deflecting and trying to resolve this without dealing with his problems. Any ideas are welcome.
  17. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I think its important to continue to let him know you love him. I think you should probably keep your response fairly short...you don't want to get into a lengthy discussion or argument. You also don't want this to be a powere struggle. I am currently listening to "Clean" by David Sheff. You might want to find this book....I haven't finished it yet but it talks a lot about these issues.

  18. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with TL. Tell him you love him and you do not want to have a relationship with him but that he has a drug/alcohol problem and has for years and that he needs to address.

    At some point you may have to give up on his getting help, there are millions of addicts out there who do not get sober. I don't mean to suggest you allow him back into your life to disrupt it, but if he is clean and sober when he is around you, you may have to accept that, without enabling.

    My daughter is still drinking. Is she an alcoholic? I believe she is because of her genetic background and the fact that she began drinking at 14 and was never able to stop once she started. Can she get along in society without crashing, I don't know. Her birthmother has even with her drinking problem. What I do know is I now have a decent relationship with her but I will not help her if she gets into trouble because of her drinking and I'm through trying to force her into treatment. We went that route just like you and it didn't work. As long as she isn;t drinking when she's around me she can come over and I will help her when she is doing the right things.

    You may have to come to that point in your life. However do not allow him to pull you into his drama.
  19. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    As usual, you have a good head on your shoulders.

    I think he's finally having some moments of clarity. That's why it's so great that you kept texting him that you love him and want what's best for him. Do the same - stand firm - say that you love him, and the offer still stands. Keep it short and sweet.

    There are cracks in his armor. Be patient. He may hurl more insults at you...just keep your cool. You're doing so great.
  20. kennedyland

    kennedyland New Member

    Well, I wrote a short text to him just as several of you, and my wife, advised. Excellent advice. I said I love him, that the moment he gets treatment and is clean I'll be there, and that this was all my idea and he shouldn't blame my wife (his stepmom). I said I have faith he can do this.
    He responded with a pretty awful text. Highlights (or perhaps Lowlights) include his charge that I depend on his mom (my ex) to supply money to him (he's almost 29....Isn't that his job?) That my moving away is abandoning him because he has so many problems, and on and on. Frankly, I started to skim the text message. What would I gain from being ****ed like that? I won't respond for a couple of days, and when I do I'll just continue to say, "I love you" and encourage him to be strong and to beat this thing. I keep the belief that it is the disease of drug addiction that is speaking to me and not him. Also, let's face it, it's been a pretty awful day. It's snowing! April 18 and there is a snowstorm going on outside! AND I got a parking ticket because I didn't see that little sign saying,"No parking on this block on Thursday, April 18." The good news? Someone I haven't seen in a while said, "Wow, you look great! Have you lost weight?" (I have.) So what the hell, my son thinks I'm a total dork, it's a snow storm, I got a ticket, but I look pretty darn good! By the way, you guys are great. Thanks for being here, it means a lot.