I'd like to talk about acceptance

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, May 1, 2014.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    We have a lot of themes on this forum that I can really embrace..detachment, self care, radical acceptance. My problem is with acceptance itself. Radical acceptance I understand to mean accepting my place in the world, the moment as it is. That works often for me, and I work to embrace it even more.
    Sometimes we talk about acceptance in a different way. Child talks about accepting her difficult child as he really as, not judging, not expecting change. Recovering, as I understand her, says the same...acceptance, non-judging, is part of the key. Cedar says to make the message clear that we expect better of them...we raised them to be better than this...and I wobble in the land between.

    difficult child is 20. He has lived, for the better part of 2 years, on the street. For the last few months he has been living under a bridge. He has a job as a bike food delivery guy, part time. He has lost his disability and his foodstamps through failure to follow up. He has lost his case worker, and lost touch with any therapists or psychiatrist. He uses the emergency room for health care, the train station for a bathroom, and charges his phone wherever he can. In the camp under the bridge (which looks like garbage dump) they have wired in electricity and have music, and a space heater (that is a disaster waiting to happen). He is hep C positive.

    I try and mostly succeed not to criticize, judge, or ask questions. When he tells me that he has a goal of getting a shower every day, and that he visits various shelters to do that, I say 'good'. When he says he uses the toilets at the train station, I say "that is resourceful'. When he points out that he has had the same job for two months now, I say "thats great" (instead of...you call that a job????)

    RIght now he is in the hospital being treated for an abscess. On Sunday he called to tell me he wanted to be admitted to a psychiatric ward for a few days, that he didn't feel good (he hasn't taken his medications in months..he is better but far from perfect when he does take them). Yestarday the ER folks tried to get him a psychiatric bed...today he says he doesn't want to go, wants to be outside.

    Fine. His choice.

    But Cedar...I raised him better than this. If I don't set expectations for him, who will?

    I already knew he wouldn't stay. A new young woman (also homeless) on the scene was posting pictures of him in the ER and calling him lilbaby, and commenting on sleeping in his bed in the ER, and how they have a tv and she got to take a shower. He will want to be with her, not in the psychiatric ward.

    When he called to yawm on the phone and tell me he is bored and he doesn't think he wants to stay after all...I said of course it is totally in your control, but on Sunday you told me you weren't feeling well and needed to be admitted. I said you should get care before you find yourself carrying an ax around lower Manhatten again, as happened two years ago (resulting in acute hospitalizaion at the much-storied Bellevue). He said (correctly) those aren't my only choices, mom. And I acknowledged that but also said...you have not taken action. You have told me of plans. You have told me for months you were going to start medications, but not actually done anything to make that happen.

    And then I escalated to...I want to be clear that what you are doing is not OK. Living under a bridge is like being a troll. You offer nothing to society. It is morally and ethically wrong. It is your obligation to take care of yourself, to contribute, to have a roof over your head and to take the medications you need to think clearly. I raised you better than this.

    He was annoyed.

    I was agitated.

    I don't feel better.

    But at least I'm not engaging in a farce.

    Where is the role of acceptance?

    Can anyone talk this through with me?

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Echo, I struggle with this as well and would struggle even more if 36 lived under a bridge. I am appalled that my only biological child, a child I am a part of genetically, can be such a conniving, remorseless, threatening even dangerous young man. HE WAS NOT RAISED THAT WAY. My kids were taught kindness, helping others is a good thing, we cared for sick and homeless animals, violence was reviled. They went to Sunday School and Church. They all turned out non-violent and caring except for him. Right now, for example, he has a new squeeze (God help her and I mean that). He likes her because first of all she makes a lot of money and gives it to him and secondly because she is thin and his ex will be very jealous of her nice body. He said, "If I'm honest, those are the two biggest things." She is crazy about him and wants to move in, which I hope never happens. Trust me, when he talks like that, I wince inside. There are hints that he may have been inappropriate with Julie, but she is unwilling to talk too much about it with me just saying she is over it now and never wants to see him again. There are definites that he broke the law but never got caught. He uses people and the only people I believe he loves at all, and this is only up to his challenged ability to love, are me and his son. This does not mean I can expect him to even call me for mother's day, let alone expect a card and, yes, he does have enough money to send one.

    DO YOU THINK THIS DOESN'T MAKE ME SICK???? I feel what you feel. Disgust.

    Now in my case, difficult child has been mean all of his life. I mean we are going back to toddlerhood. Once in a very great while I'd see a bit of sweetness in him, but that was the minority even as a toddler. As he grew, it disappeared more and more. I was thinking "antisocial" when he was twelve. So by now I know who and what he is and I accept it. Accepting it, however, does NOT NOT NOT mean I like it. I just know that he is this way and I can't change it and it's pointless to talk to him about it because he won't listen so I don't. I focus on the more positive people in my life. I am deeply regretful that my son is this way, but it is what it is. He is this way. My disapproval won't change him one bit. He will just get more angry. He had therapy from the time he was eight and that didn't change him. He went to therapy on his own in his twenties and I think it helped his anxiety a little, but now he doesn't see anyone and expects me to be his therapist, which I can't and won't take on. He just gets abusive if he doesn't like what I say.

    Accepting doesn't mean liking. Every time the mailman comes to the door, my dogs are going to bark. I don't like when they do that, but I know that they will. It is what it is. (IN the case of the dogs, I am pretty sure I can stop it with a spray bottle of water, but I've been lazy, I admit...lol). Don't you wish we could just spray out difficult children with a spray bottle of water and change their behavior? LOLOL.

    Sometimes ya gotta laff!!!!!

    Hugs and I'm sorry about your hurting mommy heart and I do get what you mean.
  3. Childofmine

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

    Echo I have read your post. You are posing some very important questions. I am going to think hard on this and respond later.

    Hugs to you, my friend. Blessings on your precious difficult child.

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  4. Childofmine

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

    Initial thoughts---I actually kept seeing this question in my mind's eye as a graphic. So I just sat down and drew it. I can't do that here, but I'll try to explain what I drew.

    A stick figure that is a "normal" person. Underneath I wrote "normal goals."

    A stick figure beside that one that is a person with mental illness (I am including addiction here).
    Underneath I wrote "different goals."

    Dissonance that occurs with the "different goals" person: parents, legal system, societal norms/expectations, culture, how to eat, sleep, buy clothes, survive.

    Problem: There is no provision in our society for people who have "different goals." They will always be in conflict and experience dissonance.

    Who is wrong?

    Thought: I don't believe God wants them to live like this but what do I know about how God understands our difficult children?

    Are our difficult children happy? Is being happy a worthy goal for anybody? Is it the only goal? ????

    Is their unhappiness---if they have any----caused by the dissonance or are they wishing for a "normal" life?

    Lucy who posts here says her son lives off the grid in a kind of "survival camp" in Europe. Do we have those here?

    I know our difficult children talk about "plans" like you said, Echo. But is that just for our benefit or do they REALLY want those plans to come to reality?

    I'm just thinking on this. I think it is very much worth thinking about and could lead to some real acceptance. Real acceptance.
  5. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I don't know, Echo. To me acceptance and detachment are hard to untangle from each other. I am not sure complete detachment is something any of us really aspire to, but it would be nice for me to have some underlying peace in the midst of the storms like the one you describe with your difficult child. Expectations and hope are also hard for me to untangle. When does no expectations become no hope? And like you said, when does it all become dishonest? We can't have any acceptance without an honest foundation, I think.

    Years ago I had cancer. When I would go for my chemo treatments I would sit with some people who were afraid their time would soon be up and some who knew it would be up soon without a doubt. They were the most extraordinary people I've ever known. Detached is NOT a word that would apply to them. They were full of passion, authenticity and gratitude and somehow managed to find acceptance without resignation.

    I am not sure how that applies to our difficult children. In a way I feel sometimes like I'm fighting a disease like cancer when it comes to difficult child's bad choices, because as another poster once said, he is part of me. He is in my soul and in my DNA. There is something *not right* at the cellular level. What does it feel like, look like, to accept that?
  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    "I raised him better than this. If I don't set expectations for him, who will?"

    I guess my thought on this is, who sets expectations for any of us, other than ourselves? OK, my employer has expectations of me, but no one else sets them for me, except me.

    I learned a saying in Al-Anon years ago: "other people do not exist to live up to my expectations." It stuck with me. Parenting a difficult child means adjusting your expectations - and sometimes, letting go of them completely. Sometimes I go the opposite way - for instance I learned to expect Oldest to change jobs every 6 months or so. I stopped fretting when it happened, I squashed the "OMG here we go again" feelings. When she held a job for a year, I was pleasantly surprised.

    Of course we raised them better. But it's "raised," past tense. They're already raised, they're already grown. This is where acceptance happened for me - accepting that my part is done, that any choices my difficult children make now are not mine, no matter how badly I want them to do what I think is best.

    I think MWM hit the nail on the head: "accepting doesn't mean liking." I think too often people think that accepting something is condoning it - not at all. It's just stopping the fight against something that you can't control, and letting go of your expectations.

  7. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Aha! That would be the one thing I haven't tried! MAybe that is the problem....I overlooked a critical maneuver ;)
    MWM I admire your resilience, and always have. Disgust is such a strong word, so hard to live with THAT as how we feel about our kids...and yet he does sometimes disgust me. And even harder to admit, I am sometimes ashamed of or embarassed by him. That feels awful

    I think of difficult child as living off the grid...can you get farther off than living under a bridge? People in cities sometimes squat in abandoned houses...in fact difficult child has been wandering around looking for just such an opportunity.

    Ah, the plans....I would LOVE to know if that is for my benefit (and therefore just a frank lie), a hope, a form of denial, or actually the beginning of a plan. I think I am slowly coming to understand that it is number one. And then we engage in the dance of madness. He tells me his plans...some of them fairly unrealistic, but at least an apparent acknowledgement of wanting to change, to improve his situation. I don't want to crush him, even though the "maybe I'll go back to school and get a phd in psychology" plan, given that he barely got his GED, is a little off. Then he comes up with the basics...he wants a stable place to live, with people who are "doing" something, either following their passion or going to school or working. He wants to take some classes. He wants to hook up with a caseworker, or a psychiatrist, or both. He wants to stay clean. And then..I engage. I start trying to help him follow through..first by the occasional prompt, then, as he appears to make no progress, I start to do things like look up phone numbers and send him links (ugh). I start to get annoyed that nothing is happening. At some point I realize (aha!) that I am putting more effort into it than he is..that is always a grounding moment. And I back away.

    What are those plans, anyway?
    I am sorry to hear that, Alb. It sounds like you learned a lot through what most have been an awful period of your life.

    I like that. I've heard it before but today it landed. My expression "I raised him better" is both a reference to early discussions with Cedar and Child, and also a touchstone for me to remind myself that I didn't create this, didn't make him this way, in fact did everything I could to provide a stable home, early intervention for his weirdnesses, tolerance, understanding, one on one time, support at school, everything. So yes, I do understand that the raising is done. But I still feel like I can raise my flag and say "what you are doing is not right. You know better. I raised you better."
    I'm not sure why but it makes me feel better. Its almost distinct from saying "so now tell me what you are going to do about it"...it is almost my sign off to him...go ahead, do what you do , your (dumb) choices are yours, my part is done, I raised you better.

    But...is it abandoning my role in society to never tell him he is not fulfilling his obligations, his destiny? I told him once that if there were a zombie apocolypse no one would want him in their camp, because he has no skills and no commitment. Weirdly enough that struck him deeply...in the same conversation I asked him about going back to volunteer in a soup kitchen, something he used to do, and told him that I liked him better when he at least volunteered...he told me he liked himself better too. Later both he and his girlfriend of the time told me that that had really hit home. I felt good about that, but of course, here we are 6 months later with no actual result of that.

    still...shouldn't we shine a light on it sometimes?

  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    At one time I facilitated support groups for folks who were dying. I think I learned the most about living from those people. I think without any doubt, that accepting death has to be at the top of the list of what we have no control over and what we have to accept. I observed that those who made that transition to acceptance have a totally different experience then those who did not. It is a futile, unrelenting struggle to continue to attempt to change something we cannot change and it causes massive amounts of suffering.

    I agree with CiV and MWM that it has nothing to do with what WE like or dislike or expect or don't expect, it is completely about letting go of anything that we can't control. Having expectations that don't get met creates disappointment and heartache. Makes more sense to me to give up the expectation. I am not talking about a 16 year old, I am talking about adults.

    So much of it, for me, has been about letting go of my judgment, my opinions about what is right and what is wrong............... how do I get to decide that for another human being? They may have a fate that I cannot possibly understand or know about...................their 'soul growth' is personal between them and their higher power, I am not privy to that. I may not like what my daughter is doing, but it is her right to do her life as she pleases and my opinion of that really doesn't matter. All I can do is set boundaries around the behavior that harms me and make that clear.

    From that point I started to realize that misery is optional. I have no control over any of it, so why allow it to ruin my life, or even my moments.......................that was a choice I made. And, sometimes I have to decide that again.

    I don't think acceptance is an easy thing to do. I think, at least for me, that I have to continue to make that choice. And, I do. Because it eliminates my suffering over something I have no control over. Underneath the control we believe we have, is our fear. Fear is what keeps us stuck, in my opinion. For me, it turns out to be about trust. Trust in life. Trust that whatever happens, it is fate, or destiny or the will of God, or whatever you want to name it, but it is out of my hands ........ it is a Universal tapestry of which we are all a part and for me, my daughter has her own unique thread in that tapestry. I don't get to judge that thread, or expect it to be like my thread or have any qualities other then it's own. All I can do is accept that it is present and it is doing exactly what it is meant to do.
  9. Childofmine

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

    Leaving the emotion out of it for a minute...

    If they like their life, and we don't.....and they're okay with their life, and we aren't....and it is their life, and it's not our life...

    then....is it our business what they don't or don't do?

    If the above is true, then is our only decision....how much involvement we have with someone whose lifestyle, behavior and values is hard for us to fathom and be around?

    Is this detachment? Is this acceptance?

    What am I missing here?
  10. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Is acceptance about facing reality?
    I no longer kid myself that my son is just going through a phase, will grow out of it, will miraculously suddenly get a job and a place to live.
    I no longer think that things will be better/different/easier tomorrow.
    This is his life, and my life, that's it, just get on with it.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    First of all, great posts. I am chuckling about the question "do kids live off the grid in the US?" My guess is very few. When do American kids have any passion about world issues? When did they start to care about things like the enviroment or enough to protest anything other than the farce of the small big city protests in parks about the upper 1%. That turned out to be mostly rich kids who wanted drugs and sex. American kids have no passion about life outside their own, especially difficult children. The last time American kids had any passion the way they do in Europe was during the Nam war and a lot of that was because THEIR butts were on the line, so to speak. So I would say most homeless difficult children in the US have no goals other than to get drugs and to spit in society's eye, but not to make it a better place...only because they don't do rules and too bad if you don't like it.

    Thanks for the inadvertent laugh.

    Back to acceptance. I don't think it is about anyone except ourselves. For those of us with older difficult children who are already creeping up and beyond twenty-five to thirty, clearly only something profound in their lives will make them change and it isn't going to be if we let down our standards in our minds about how we feel about their lifestyles. I see acceptance very simply: just knowing that right now it is what it is..he is what he is. With my acceptance came any lingering longing for a big change. If it happens, I'll be one happy mom, but I no longer think it will. Rather than depressing me, it has made my life more peaceful. I stop looking for hope for change in every good day difficult child has, and he does have his good days, even good weeks. Then he implodes and I know it is going to happen and how *I* will handle it when it does happen.

    I use my acceptance for the positives too though.

    I accept that I got very lucky and married a great guy who will never leave us, loves us, and is a great father and hubby and who I love dearly. He has a great heart. I accept that Julie overcame a horrid younger years to become a very special and wonderful young woman and that her SO and her actually grew up together. It was neat to watch it. I accept that Sonic has defied every doctor of his very early years and has a life and a job and friends and is a neat, neat young man whom everyone loves. Best of all, he is happy. I accept that Jumper is an exceptional young adult for too many reasons to name. I accept that I had to work extra hard, and still do, to accomplish what some people can do without thinking, but I also accept how hard I worked to give myself the good life I have.

    Acceptance is accepting the good and the bad.
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  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I know it sounds harsh COM, and for our mother's hearts it can be a devastating blow........there is so much to let go of to get there.......but yes, I think that is exactly what it is. Somewhere between the ages of 20 and perhaps 25 or maybe 30, our influence or control over their lives is over. We can certainly keep on keeping on, but to what end? We all have to make the decision to let go or not, to detach or not, to accept or not, it is wholly our individual choice. At some point it ALL goes into their court.

    I believe that to be true as well.

    I always love my daughter and wish her well. That is all I can do.
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I wish I could say that I knew the answer to this. I don't have a clue. Part of me wants to say that while we know that you feel it is wrong for him to live under a bridge and not participate in society it's also his choice and it's what he is able to do so "who are we to judge?"; and part of me wants to say "I wish we could all find a way to make the years of hell go away."

    I think - for myself & M, anyway - that deep down I still wish he was 3 years old and I could do something different to make him more self-assured and confident. That's fantasy thinking. It's a problem with my own perception that makes me wish he would change, and in fact it's quite selfish of me to feel that somehow he has to live his life to my standards, but I do. It's what makes it so hard to talk to him. That's on me. And he's a man now, so the problem there is really about my perception of him rather than how he lives his life.

    I was brought up in a very dogmatic home that taught guilt over all else. "Born into sin and never attaining grace." Worse yet I was a girl and girls who act out are never forgiven. I have a hard time getting away from the guilt of not raising a happy young man. I look back now and I see all of the kisses and hugs and encouragement that I didn't give that I should have. Things were so terribly bad for us when he was born and for the first few years of his life. I never let myself get close to him. Of course that regret is futile. There were reasons that things happened as they did. Were they good ones? I don't know, but I didn't have the capacity then to live my life differently.

    We used to encourage M when he was young to find something he liked to do. Later we would warn him that he would end up on the street and unemployable. He'd never choose anything. All through HS no matter who asked, "I want to be a pirate or a gangster." It's like trying to figure out the butterfly effect. Which flutter of the wing caused the hurricane that is M? We'll never know.

    I think you're on the right track. It's acceptance of yourself. The die has been cast with your son, and you did the best you could with what you had available to you at the time. I think that the only thing we can do is to not judge ourselves too harshly and to know that there are people in the world who don't judge us harshly, either.
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  14. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I struggle with this on a daily basis. My son is so far from what society calls acceptable. He struggles with his ethnic identity ( he is bi-racial). He struggles with wanting to please me, but does not seem to be able to maintain normalcy for any length of time. I suspect that his trying to be what I wanted has caused him to suffer on a deeper level.

    He may never be able to fit into mainstream living. It makes me sad to think that he will always have to have other people in charge of his life. He is in jail and still bucking the system. I hope he can find his niche.

    All any of us want is for our children to be safe, loved, and have a purpose. We can love them. As adults, the rest is up to them.
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    The answer is a developing compassion ~ for your child, and for yourself. In the end, that will be the answer. You don't need to strive for it Echo ~ the pain you feel is the vehicle.

    It helped me to understand that there is nothing I have to do.

    There is nothing I can do.

    It is what it is. I can choose to be kind. That's pretty much it.

    A second answer is to recognize that you suffer, that you are suffering. It is a strangeness that every spiritual tradition teaches that suffering opens the spirit. (COM's thread on Highchair Tyrants is relevant here, Echo. The discussion revolves around suffering, and the growth that seems to attend it.) If that is true, and I am coming to believe that it is, then there is purpose to everything that is happening. There are times when I can just glimpse the multi-generational complexity of my own situation, times when, as that poem says, "the Earth turns, singing".

    That matters. That there is purpose in it.

    If you look back Echo, you will see that there seem to be levels of acceptance that we sort of fall through. Acceptance of ourselves, of our children, of our situations. You have fallen through many levels already. Suffering, the emotional charge of suffering, seems to be the harbinger of that falling through to the next layer of consciousness, or spirituality. That sounds so woo-woo. Maybe, I mean personal depth, that capacity for empathy, for compassion.


    I think we never do accept it, Echo.

    But we choose to survive it.

    I was either depressed or fixated on whatever latest cure I'd found for so long ~ for years, Echo. I continued to function, I had highs and lows, I thought I was doing alright, given my situation. But I wasn't, Echo. Changing any of it was the result of that decision I made, that conscious choice, cold and certain, to survive.

    When I feel badly, I work very hard to figure out what the heck it is, this time. I try to hear it, feel it, and put a space around it through meditation. I understand the concept of letting the story I tell myself about what has happened, about what is happening, overtake me. I am vigilant about that. When I recognize hatred or judgment or rage (and believe me, I do), I devote full attention to the feeling. (I have no choice. I sound like I'm patting myself on the back here. No. I get so powerless over every single thing I cannot do other than to pay attention. It is like what you are going through, now.) Either the overwhelming pain of it will dissolve (and it is generally into a deeper acceptance, a kind of compassion for everyone involved) or I fall into something I can only describe as forgiveness.

    And when that happens, everything changes.

    There is a sort of resolution, a feeling of breath and open.

    And then I understand that is why the emotion, that particular thought or energy pattern, existed in the first place.

    Which is that concept of purpose, the spiritual purpose of suffering that I was telling you about earlier.

    That is what I mean when I say I had decided, coldly and clearly, to survive. That is my intention. It was like I said yes to it, Echo. Yes, to accepting what has happened without trying to judge or change or pretty it up. Yes, to accepting it and surviving it and reclaiming my life, and my identity with every joy, every smallest nuance of pleasure or pain intact.

    It is like living with eyes open.

    There are so many horrible things to acknowledge.

    It is right to honor the sincerity of our feelings, whatever they are.

    I think we do come to a place where we are no longer so shocked that nothing changed for the better. It is like everyone says, Echo. We cannot change what is. But we can select our response to it.

    Viktor Frankl. If you haven't read him yet Echo, read him.

    This is a great thread.

  16. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I am struggling with the question of whether there is a global right and wrong. I am struggling with a feeling of disgust and despair, with the feeling that he is just a waste, and that that redounds to me. I am pretty good at detaching from the responsibility for him (he doesn't ask me for much anyway, so I don't have the struggle I see in some many other threads of having to refuse requests) . I can't seem to end the judgment. I realized through some of Child's posts that I hadn't really accepted, I was just waiting, more patiently, in a quieter, deeper place, than I was before.

    This is a theme in my life. I think if I model good behavior, if I do and do and do and make no demands, the people around me will suddenly recognize their shortcomings and how they are letting me down. When that fails, after enough time of being patient...I explode under some point of minimal provocation, and all the suppressed irritation/anger hidden under the quiet patience pours out. This of course is crazy-making for the people around me, bad for me ex-marriage, destructive to all of my children. It took me a great shrink and 50 years of life to cotton on to that one..

    I digress a bit here but I would say the same thing occured when I embraced meditation and tiptoed towards practicing buddhism...I thought if I practiced loving kindness and nonjudfment and nonattachment that everyone around me would do the same...I would get quite irritated to find that although I had forgiven THEM (sort of) they had not had the same graciousness of spirit to forgive ME> hahahah. so many layers of learing.

    but....can we still turn away from badness? from bad behavior anywhere? if we don't call it out does that mean we condone it? what if no one ever calls anything out? where is the line? He is still in my circle, in my community if you will...aren't we supposed to try to help our community be the best they can? I still talk with my other kids about right and wrong, about paths towards better ways of being...do I drop him out of that loop? and if so, what do I say when he talks about using drugs, or stealing food, or tapping into some one else's electric system, or begging? I guess that is almost the crux of the crisis for me...what do I say then?

    Somewhat to my surprise, because I thought I was past all that, this made me cry. I guess I really haven't been able to forgive myself, or to stop grieving or regretting.

    I hear you, I see this. I forget this sometimes. The pain, and most especially ALLOWING the pain, is the vehicle. Thank you.

    My older sister once told me, of her marriage and of relationships, that the gateway to the next level of intimacy is guarded by dragons, and that sometimes horrible fights and conflicts lead the way to a new depth of closeness and understanding. That resonated with me, and I found it to be true. I have not thought of it with suffering in general, though...I feel hopeful about this...I feel that it is as true as the dragons.

    choosing for myself to survive it. Trying to remember those rules...honestly I do best when I am quite significantly separated from him. HE does not feel best that way...and I feel for his vulnerability when he loses me. so that is where the dance begins. In fact, playing back what has happened here... I went no contact with him for two months, and I felt pretty good by the end...good enough to let him in a little. Then a little became more, I saw him once for lunch and before I knew it he was calling me at least once a day, often more, asking at each call what time he could call the next day, so I started feeling boxed in. He started coming over on the weekends...I tried to make it work for me by multitasking (sure, sweetie, lets meet and walk the dogs together) and I asked him to do small things around the house...but really I was feeling squeezed and oppressed, and feeling guilty about feeling that way because really, what is a phone call? I can't give THAT to one of my kids, especially the most vulnerable of all of them? so then, when we had more contact, I started thinking he might change (I started doing that without realizing it) and getting a little frustrated at his failure to follow up on his plans, and a little frustrated with his choices (taking a week off from work) and failures (losing his SSI and food stamps) and then it kind of hit the fan when he refused his opportunity for a psychiatric tune up even though a few days before he had felt he needed one....

    so I can track the story.

    and it starts with too much contact.

    just that is helpful.

    I compromised my own ability to survive.

    that is it. Thats what the previous paragraph is. It is such an important exercise..."how did I get here AGAIN"
    And I have not meditated in while.

    I will

    I was really hoping this would be a useful thread for me as well as for others. I'm glad it is working out!
  17. Childofmine

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

    Last night SO and I talked for over an hour about this. He has worked in the recovery community himself with a lot of parents. I told him about this thread, about my struggling to get a grasp on this, about your story, Echo and some of the stories and wisdom and work others are also doing here. About the fact that I have been still waiting for change. About the futility of that, and the damage it does to me.

    My question was this: can acceptance and hope live at the same address? I believe the answer is no.

    The core of who I am is a very positive, anything-can-happen, miracles-do-happen, glass-half-full way of looking at the world. It's a good way to be until it becomes a bad way to be. A pollyanna way to be. I define that as not accepting reality. And that is what I have been doing---not accepting reality.

    I am through thinking he is going to change.

    That doesn't mean he won't, and I realize that.

    Another question posed here: Should we challenge our difficult children to aspire to something greater? I believe the answer is no.

    We already did that. We did it all their lives, as their parents. That was our job. Now they are grown people, and we are still trying to teach them the lessons of childhood. Enough already. They know the choices they have. They don't want to choose the way we want them to choose.

    I think continuing to tell them these "truths" is continuing to have expectations.

    That time is over, folks.

    Another: What, then, are we to do?

    What works for us. Figuring out what that is, and then working toward it.

    On Wednesday morning, very early as I was driving to exercise---about 6 a.m., I passed a sober living house that I pass every day. In front of it were three police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck. I said a prayer as I was going by there. It shook me up.

    This morning, in the paper, there is an obituary of a 24 year old young man, with the same first name as my son. I read it, and at the end of it they are asking for memorials in lieu of flowers to be sent to this sober living house.

    My son just called from jail. He has been violated on his probation as expected. His hearing on that violation is May 15. He is wheeling and dealing (in his mind) about how he can reduce the sentence, and wondering how many days already served will count, and wanting to know if I will come there and put money on his account so he can buy deodorant and will I see about his driver's license so he doesn't have to pay $6K to get it back at some point. Wheeling and dealing. Mind going 1000 miles a minute figuring out his next move.

    He thinks he may serve 14 months (have no idea where he gets these amounts of time). I said I thought you have four years. Yes, but they reduce the sentence and then time served. Blah blah blah. All he is doing is calculating how he can "get out of" or "reduce" what is happening.

    He wanted to talk about the police report and what the charges were for his shoplifting in this 5-minute phone call. I stopped him. I told him I didn't want to hear any of it, and that it doesn't matter anyway. I said I believe what is in the police report.

    I kept talking and I said, I don't expect you to change anymore. I am realizing that you must like the life you are living and I am accepting that it's not likely to change. I am telling you this for me. I am glad you called, because I was going to ask you not to come to my house if you get out of jail. I want you to know if that if you do come, I will call the police.

    I said I am really tired of all of this. I have to life my own life. I'd like to keep in touch by writing letters now and then. I love you and that will never change.

    The time was up, and he said I'll try to call you back. He did, and I put the call to voice mail, accidentally. Then I burst out laughing at myself, realizing the irony. The right thing happened and I did not answer the second call. But accidentally.

    So.................the pieces of this are coming together for me. This thread, the young man sadly dying this week, the call from jail, the conversation last night with SO.

    None of this is coincidence. This is Holy Coincidence and I am going to take all of these separate things and make something good of them.

    Once my final is over, I am going to get a new sponsor in Al-Anon and I am going to continue working on my fourth step. I am going to go to some Nar-Anon meetings.

    I am going to keep using my other trusted tried and true tools in my toolbox, including this site.

    I am still moving forward, thankfully. Thanks to all of you, and hugs and blessings on this beautiful day.
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am so not good at this but the idea that acceptance and hope cant live inside of us at the same time doesnt quite fit with me. With all my boys I have accepted who and what they are but I always also hope that things can be different, better, easier for all of them. I think parents want their kids to have an easy and good life. Or at least that is something I have always thought I should think...probably because my mother literally prayed every day that I would fall flat on my face and be miserable. I dont wish that for any of my kids and right now, I might be justified in thinking that about my youngest.

    Right now I am not at all happy with youngest. His father and I have made our displeasure well known to him. When he tells me he is trying to do something positive I nod and tell him I am glad he is working towards something but I dont attempt to do anything for him. One thing I have had to really work on though is separating helping him with doing things for his youngest daughter. His father and I get into a bunch of arguments over that.

    I dont know, Im rambling...lol
  19. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    at least the answer for me is "no."

    My mother, who believed in optimism as a state to chose, used to exhort us "be a pollyanna!". I may have carried that too far.

    Thank you for the clear sightedness of that statement. I believe you are correct, for they very succinct, fantastic statement you make below.

    Amen, sister.

    Ah, the biblical crux of it. And so we go, back to our toolboxes, our self care, our self acceptance, everything everyone has said on this thread. Let go let go let go and work on myself.

    I hesitated to engage in this part of the conversation, because caring about their wheeling and dealing is part of what sets me off on a toxic spiral...but yes, that is SOOOOO AGGRAVATING! They know it all...

    I need to say this to him.

    and this.

    Thank you, Child. This was extraordinarily helpful to me.
    Thank you, MWM, Albie, Recovering, Witzend (great to see you again!), Cedar, Pasa....thank you for engaging and helping me think through this.

  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hope and acceptance are like apples and oranges.

    The emotion of hope is in the future. It is not about today and what is. it is about what may be later on.

    Acceptance is strictly in the here and now and about this moment.

    So you can have both, but, if you do, they work against one another.

    I like acceptance better because I prefer not to live in the future, which I have no knowledge of. Everyone deals with these emotions in different ways.