If there is someone that would be my friend...I would be grateful.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son is 26. He is adopted and I met him when he was 22 months old. He was the love of my life. He had been removed from the care of his birth parents at 2 weeks old...estranged from my family....I needed someone to love.

    Yes we had problems along the way, but it was mainly us against the world: to me, it was always the school's fault, not enough support. I did too much for him, I know, and didn't spend enough time insisting that he do chores or do them correctly. As a single mother I was too tired. There was always an excuse.

    But there was always so much love and that seemed to be enough until he hit 15 or 16. He became defiant and more moody and withdrawn. There was no serious trouble. But we were no longer pals. By 18 I was having to push him to do everything: go to college, work, job training. If I didn't push, he pretty much did not leave the house. So, I pushed. He completed a nurse's aid training and worked for a year. By that time we had learned he had been born with chronic hepatitis that had been undiagnosed and our struggles became especially intense because I cared so deeply that he follow through with treatment. Along the way, he had a brain injury. I hired a nurse to watch him after his discharge from the hospital, and within a few days he was riding a bike without a helmet.

    He left his job he says because he could not adjust to the graveyard shift he had volunteered to do. That was 3 and a half years ago. He had started gossiping about me to the neighbors and I was devastated by his disloyalty. We had little positive interaction between us. When he quit the job, I would not allow him to lay around the house. Eventually I kicked him out...and he went to a homeless shelter.

    For more than two years friends of ours in another city gave him a free place to stay, asking for nothing. He worked a little bit, but after he qualified for SSI for mental illness, he did not work at all. He sometimes says he is Bipolar, and other times denies having a mental illness at all. He goes from town to town, looking for places to live cheaply or free. He has been with us off and on the past few months. I kick him out when it gets too bad: he is disrespectful, filthy, lazy. He occupies his time reading about conspiracy theories on the internet or playing his drum. When I kicked him out last month, he slept under a bridge near my house.

    I cannot disengage. I say this because when I do not know where and how he is I am depressed to the point where I do not leave my bed. I feel as if all of my life has been lived poorly, and that any success I have had, and I have had a great deal of success, means nothing. I have lived with a very nice boyfriend for 5 plus years. I am happy with him. He is good to me and wants to help my son. I have a very gratifying career, when I work. But I cannot be happy unless my son is safe, secure and functioning. My son is not safe, secure or functioning. Clearly I cannot control what he chooses to do or how he chooses to live. So I am depressed to the point of not allowing myself to live at all.

    Last week I decided to enroll in online community college classes so that I could support him to study, to do something productive. He went through the motions but it took me 12 hours a day of pushing him to get him to write a one paragraph entry on the internet. I realized he was using "college" to hang out at my house where it is more comfortable, he can eat all through the night, use the computer, and con me. I blew up and he left the house. He cannot understand why I do not allow him to slough off for 3 days in my house and to just catch up and do all the work in an hour. I quit.

    I know he is a man. But, I cannot accept that he live as he does. I know he can choose to live as he wishes. But that he does not live as I need him to live causes me untold grief. That he does not protect his health grieves me to the point of illness. That he does not want more, feels unbearable. I do not know how to live, to go on living....with this situation. Thank you.
     
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You are hurting yourself and not helping him one bit. I am estranged from my crazy family of origin too and have a nice husband now and four grown kids. you can have a good life even if your son chooses not to. I would get yourself into therapy to learn how to both take care of yourself and detach from his choices. You can't control anyone but u. Sounds like u may need an antidepressant. I take one. I'd be honored to be ur friend and have four kids, three adopted. Welcome!
     
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  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your almost instant and totally right on response. I will follow your advise, but this is my question: where do you get the will to have a good life, if your children cannot or will not live well? What do you do with the grief, the guilt, the regret...the horrible sorrow? I feel I failed as a daughter...a sister...now, as a mother....as I am writing this I see that this is pretty deep...as if at the most basic level I feel that my worth depends upon the well-being of others. I have to learn to make my worth and well being independent of everything and everybody outside of myself. And to have the love I give to be pure and unconditional. Of course I knew that before...but this chat has been an opportunity to see it at work now in a deeper way. Whew. Feeling better. Thank you SomewhereOutthere. Very much.
     
  4. Isla

    Isla New Member

    :staystrong:Oh Copabanana, I so feel for you! It is sooooo hard to accept and it takes a long time to come to terms with. You did your best, your intentions were and are good, but there comes a time you have no choice to respect yourself enough to detach. It takes time so be kind to yourself. Observe the sadness (or whatever your emotion is) and treat it kindly, as you would a friend who felt the same way. Watch the feeling for a while and instead of resisting it, allow it to go by as though you just opened a window. It will linger a while but respect the feeling. Tell yourself you are safe, right now you are safe. Name the feeling, if you name it you can tame it, allow it to be. I wish you the happiness and freedom you deserve.
     
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  5. Childofmine

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

    Welcome Copacabana,we're glad you're here.

    Ah, you ask so many key questions. And you make so many statements..."I cannot disengage"...."I cannot control".

    Please know each one of us has been right where you are. It is part of the same process each person must go through, each enabler, each one of us, in letting go of someone else and their decisions and choices.

    But, you say, there are so many things about him. He may have this, he may have that. We know. We were right there too.

    Some key points:

    1. You and your son are not different from other people and their children. That used to be my first "out", i.e., "we're different."
    2. You have to be sick and tired enough of your current situation to want to change. So will he, if he ever decides to change.
    3. You can't choose another person's timing to change. That is an individual thing.
    4. Once you have the deep, clean and clear desire to change---yourself---you will need a lot of help, support and tools in order to walk the road of change.
    5. Those tools may be: therapy, medication, prayer, meditation, Al-Anon meetings, NAMI meetings, exercise, doing one thing different every single day, buying flowers for your kitchen table and other small kindnesses for yourself, reading books like CoDependent No More, Boundaries and many others, and on and on. I call these things my "toolbox." I call using my tools my "daily practice."
    6. If you are sick and tired enough, and if you begin to assemble and then use a toolbox regularly, you will change. That is the formula for change. "Want to" and "help yourself do it."

    It won't be easy and you will go back to your old behaviors a lot. But, you will start to see differences, very early on. Those differences---you will start to feel better and you will start to think differently---will build on themselves and you will want more of it. The more you work, the more you will change.

    And a byproduct of the change in YOU----will be a CHANCE for him to change also. Again, he will have to be sick and tired of his current life enough first. And then he will have to have a toolbox too, and he will have to use the toolbox.

    I know this sounds simple, but it isn't. It is the hardest work you will ever do in your life---to rebuild yourself and reclaim your life.

    We let go of who we are in order to "save" someone we love so completely. We lose ourselves in our zeal to fix, to manage, to control. And it doesn't work. It never has worked, and it never will work.

    Each person has a choice of what road to walk in life. We choose the road. For years, what you and your son did----I call it a dance---it worked. It worked when he was a little boy. It doesn't work now, now that he is a grown man.

    It's not working for you and it's not working for him.

    Are you sick and tired enough?

    We care here. We get it. We have empathy and compassion for you, and for each other, and most of all, for ourselves. That is what it takes to reclaim your life. You can do it. And we can be one of your tools.

    Warm hugs this morning. We are glad you are here.
     
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  6. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Well-Known Member

    I cannot give better advice than COM. You are very co-dependant. We have all been there!! I strongly advise Al-anon meetings...you cannot change anyone but yourself and by your changing your reactions to him, he may change. But I can guarantee if you don't, he won't. Either way, YOU will be better and that is his best shot at wanting to get better himself...
     
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  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    We are having a good, long look at every one of those questions, here on the site, Copacabana.

    You are here with us, now. This is a good, safe place to heal and to question and grow. For starters, please read the article on detachment pinned to the top of the Parent Emeritus page.

    It is true that, in the beginning, to live with joy and gratitude and intent is impossible when someone we love is self-destructing. Over time, as we acknowledge the pain and the endless, almost sacred horror of the paths our kids are on, we come to a point when we make a choice ~ a cold, hard choice ~ to reclaim our lives, to celebrate all that we do have and to feel gratitude for all of it, right in the face of what feels like failure.

    It is what it is.

    We begin to see that nothing we have done, and no amount of suffering, has changed anything for our kids.

    I am so sorry this is happening to you, and to your son.

    This helped me:

    I learned, here on the site, that genetics seems to play a bigger part in what is happening to our children than parenting.

    I heard so much about enabling I wanted to throw up.

    Seriously.

    But then, one day, I could see what they meant. I began to see how we all had been twisted over the time of the kids' troubles. Once I could see it, I could address it.

    That is the key.

    There is nothing you have to do but read along with us and post and heal.

    I think we begin healing by reclaiming our own breath, our own silence, just for a few minutes at a time.

    If we can do that, then we can remember what it is to feel happy, and to be present.

    Then, let that quiet spread into the rest of your life.

    To sit quietly while the sun rises, or to take just a minute to look up at the stars...those are the places where I find that I can be present, places where I can not think or worry, just for those few minutes.

    That is a beginning.

    And then, just like in that Dr. Seuss book about the places you will go?

    Your healing journey will begin, and you life will become your own again, filled with cherishings and laughter and the choice to be kind.

    Welcome! I am so happy you found us.

    Cedar
     
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  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi and thank you Patriotsgirl. I appreciate, really, your response. I will begin to go to Al anon meetings. I keep wanting to say, but do they understand how much I love him? And I know that you all do.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Isla Thank you for caring. I know all you write is so right. But I panic. I feel desperate. I know it does not work, what I am doing, but the alternative? To let him fall...perhaps die....to accept this....I know that all my efforts are for me, not for him, to save me from the horror of his loss...or the loss of a dream....your words calm me....let it be.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Childofmine

    This part of what you write (below), in particular, touches me, but has made it all so hard: What you call 'the dance" was our love....I do not know (yet) how to love him in another way...that is appropriate...without enabling or anger. I look forward to learning. Thank you.

    Each person has a choice of what road to walk in life. We choose the road. For years, what you and your son did----I call it a dance---it worked. It worked when he was a little boy. It doesn't work now, now that he is a grown man.
     
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Cedar, what you write is so beautiful, loving, kind and right. As soon as I get home I will read and reread until I am happy. I feel I have my map.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  12. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Copabanana,

    Welcome! I'm glad you found us and I'm so sorry your heart is so heavy.

    It's obvious you love your son very much but no matter how much you love your son, you can't love the problems away. If that were possible then none of us would be here on this forum.

    You have identified so much in this statement. You have a deep rooted co-dependent relationship with your son. There are many aspects to being in a co-dependent relationship.
    I cannot disengage. I say this because when I do not know where and how he is I am depressed to the point where I do not leave my bed.
    Your son is a 26 year old man. It is unhealthy and unrealistic for you to know where and how he is doing at all times. You are relying on his well being to dictate whether or not you are happy.
    Co-dependent aspect:
    Poor boundaries.Boundaries are sort of an imaginary line between you and others. It divides up what’s yours and somebody else’s, and that applies not only to your body, money, and belongings, but also to your feelings, thoughts and needs. That’s especially where codependents get into trouble. They have blurry or weak boundaries. They feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems

    I feel as if all of my life has been lived poorly, and that any success I have had, and I have had a great deal of success, means nothing.
    You acknowledge that you have had success in your life yet you diminish that because you are putting your son ahead of yourself.
    Co-dependent aspect:

    Caretaking. Another effect of poor boundaries is that if someone else has a problem, you want to help them to the point that you give up yourself. It’s natural to feel empathy and sympathy for someone, but codependents start putting other people ahead of themselves.
    I cannot be happy unless my son is safe, secure and functioning. My son is not safe, secure or functioning.
    Co-dependent aspect:
    Control.Control helps codependents feel safe and secure. Everyone needs some control over events in their life. You wouldn’t want to live in constant uncertainty and chaos, but for codependents, control limits their ability to take risks and share their feelings. Codependents also need to control those close to them, because they need other people to behave in a certain way to feel okay.

    Clearly I cannot control what he chooses to do or how he chooses to live. So I am depressed to the point of not allowing myself to live at all
    You are correct, you cannot control how he chooses to live, however you CAN choose how you live.

    While this forum has many people who will be here for you to help and support you I cannot stress enough that you should also seek out a counselor that can help you understand better the dynamics of a co-dependent relationship and also how to set healthy boundaries.

    I am glad you reached out, that's a big first step.

    Keep posting, we are here for you and care about you.

    ((HUGS))..............
     
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  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the straight talk Tanya, especially for the HUGS and this (I had been thinking...do these mothers not know how much I love him?)

    "no matter how much you love your son, you can't love the problems away. If that were possible then none of us would be here on this forum."
     
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    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  14. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Trust me, we all know how much you love your son. You will not find one member of this forum that does not love their child to the moon and back. That's what makes it hurt so much, that's what makes it so hard to detach.

    Part of loving our children is loving them enough to let them go and we also need to love ourselves enough to take our lives back.

    It is not an easy process to detach but it is a necessary for both our children and ourselves.

    I have been in that very dark place of despair. I am proof that you can survive this and go on to live a very happy life.

    Hang in there!!!
     
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  15. Isla

    Isla New Member

    Dear Susan, I have a sister who has 2 adult sons (lol, obviously my nephews ☺️). The eldest (33) has always been "difficult" but very clever (so much potential). He now lives on the streets. I don't even think he does drugs, just chose to opt out of society. Her other boy (30) has always had a lovely temperament. My sister has always told me if it were not for her younger son she would go crazy thinking she had failed her eldest. She brought both boys up the same way. So to answer your question, I don't know if it's harder with having an only child, but I can admit that I wish I had a child who loved me. I would love to be able to wrap my arms around you and say it's ok, we are safe and understood in this forum. Susan, if it helps an iota, I know how much it hurts - BIG BIG hugs Susan!
     
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  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I can admit that I wish I had a child who loved me.

    Isla, where does all the love go, now? It is like an energy, a force that has no place to go, or does it? Is that part of the healing? By airing and showing the wounds and damage and loving each other's sorrowful heart's ....we heal ourselves?

    Big hugs sent across the ocean to you, Isla.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  17. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Welcome. I'm so sorry you are hurting so very badly. Detaching is so very difficult. Therapy or group mtgs. can definitely help. Our adopted Difficult Child is on disability and we have learned to detach to a large extent and this has helped tremendously. I fully admit, having a spouse has helped...so please consider getting support. Few fully grasp how very tough this is. Fortunately, our Difficult Child is not as sarcastic as before and is more respectful. She has tried to get PT work, but has not been successful. I'm currently hurting (see my current post re un gratefulness) and am in a sad state myself. So, I will see my former therapist for a few visits. Support is vital.detach, detach, detach! You can only do so much. You can't control another...only yourself, your reactions and actions. Be well, be happy, be strong. Blessings.
     
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  18. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I used to wonder this myself as I too have only one child. Here's how I look at it, I was able to have my one beautiful son and enjoyed those good years so much and I will always cherish those memories. While it's sad that he chose a life that was so far from what I had hoped for him, I still know a mothers love and that is very special. My heart goes out to women who will never know what a mothers love is. There are so many woman who would love to have a child but for whatever reason they cannot have one of their own, or adopt.

    It's true that my son and I do not have a close relationship but that doesn't make me love him any less. Yes, it's also true that he has caused me more heartache than anyone should go through but I still love him, he's still my son and I will take that over never knowing what it's like to have a mothers love.

    Those woman who will never know a mothers love manage to go on and live their lives to the fullest.

    It's up to each one of us to decide how we will live our lives. For me, I'm going to be 52 this year, I've wasted enough years worrying and trying to make things better for my son. His life choice is just that, his and his alone. My life choice is mine and I choose to live whatever years I have left doing things that bring me joy.

    There is real freedom in detaching, in letting go. It's an awkward feeling at first but little by little as you detach more and more you start to find yourself again and that is a good place to be.
     
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  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    You are so right. We did not ask to be Mothers for the rewards...it was to be a mother...in whatever way we were chosen to do so. Our obligation is to live up to this obligation as it unfolds, until we die. There are no promises, just obligations.

    When you folks speak about detaching, it is hard for me to understand what that would be. The only thing I can think of is the ability to sustain something good for myself...and see it to the end, without letting myself shut down in response to the drama around me. Thank you, Tanya.
     
  20. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Copa....what you just said is wonderful. Personally I think that (sustaining something good for yourself until the end) is a VERY large part of detaching. I think it goes further into letting all the baggage, dysfunction and overall crxp go emotionally etc....so not letting it drain us, bother us, depress us etc. so along with continue on, moving forward, setting and attaining our own goals even with our Difficult Child being Difficult Child, it is not letting their behaviors/problems burden us emotionally and so forth. This is probably the final step and super hard. I am usually good with it, but have my bad days. You didn't cause your Difficult Child to be a Difficult Child. You went above and beyond to give him a wonderful start in life. You believed in him and helped him. You corrected where you may have made mistakes and gently encouraged him to go forward. When that didn't work, you pushed harder. But, as we have all learned here, you can't do the work for him. He's an adult and he makes his own choices. We have to make our personal choice to move forward.
     
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