New to forum

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Pam Lucas, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. Sttp

    Sttp So much to learn!

    Hello all. I feel like I have known the regular members here on the forum for along time, because I have been reading this forum for about a year. You guys have given me so much comfort over the year.
    I felt like it was time to start posting my story to get some feedback from moms and dads with similar difficult children.
    Here goes I hope it makes sense. My difficult child has been a hard child to raise. Starting around second grade, then middle school came. He developed this strong anger and started pulling away from the family around that time. High School anger continued but drugs and alcohol entered the picture. He had a great girlfriend. Her family and ours has been friends for 3 generations. She was class president, captain of the cheerleaders, strong christian, sweet girl. They dated for 2 years. In his senior year, he decided she was no fun, so he dumped her for the fun girls that liked drugs and alcohol. After that breakup he has gotten worse.
    We kicked him out of the house when he was 18 years, due to not wanting to follow home rules and continuing to do drugs and not go to college.
    He got full time job with ex-girlfriends dad, so we helped him get an apartment, BIG MISTAKE, he lost the job due to drug test. He returned to live with us, stayed about a year, working everyday, but the deal was for him to save money to move out. He was starting to give us problems again, so we ask him how many money he has saved because its time to move out. He had not saves anything, but used it all on drugs. He admitted to using drugs everyday he had been living with us. At that point he packed his stuff and moved out. Fours months goes by, and he calls us crying wanting help for his drug use, but I think it was just to get him out of the mess he was in. However, we got him into an outpatient treatment program, because insurance would only pay for outpatient. If he fells outpatient they will approve inpatient.
    So he has been pretty verbally respectful to us, but he is changing now. He never has been violate to us, but he can be violate in a social setting. However, a month ago he comes home drunk and had taken 12 xanax, had a blackout and busted in the front door. We called the police, which is the first time we had to do that.
    Now, difficult child went to a new year's eve party with his best friend from high school, started drinking alcohol, saw old girlfriend from high school. He left the party without problems, and went back to best friends apartment and destroyed it. Police came, difficult child was in a blackout state, he was taken to jail, 3 charges, and one felony. We picked him up from jail and took him to inpatient treatment. He wanted to go.

    I have been reading your stories and new chaos, but difficult child had not done the violence, jail, blackouts, ect. I thought it might be coming, but was not sure. I guess what I am trying to say is since I have been reading this forum I know whats coming and I can't stop it (him), and he can't or want see it. Most importantly what is it?
    Inpatient treatment will be doing a psychiatric evaluation, so maybe I will get more information to help him/us.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there, friend. I'm sorry you had to read our stories and join our group.

    If you have been reading, then you know we tell all parents that they can not do anything to change their adult child. The adult child has to change on his own and want to change. It will be hard to get an accurate psyche reading on him if he has been doing lots of drugs as they change. My daughter did drugs. She was not pleasant or obedient at the time, but is fine and sweet as sugar now that she has been clean for so long. Most of our kids who use illegal substances or are alcoholics will not take psychiatric medications anyway and they won't work if you aren't sober of all other medication/substances anyway.

    I am probably the blunt member here and I don't mean to be harsh but I know sometimes that makes me come across as harsh. I will try to soften what I mean to say, and please take it with a grain of salt. None of us have an answer for you. Each of us does this our own way and all of our adult kids are different. Some are more motivated than others. Some really have no clue about life, which makes it harder. Some don't want to change. Some only want to change when they get into trouble, then go right back to using as soon as we rescue them. Of this category, to me it sounds like your son is mostly upset because he is now in legal trouble and could end up in prison (I am not sure if this is right. I have no idea what he did or how far the consequences will go).

    You asked what it is. None of us know for sure, but one thing seems pretty certain. He seems to suffer the disease of addiction. That means getting high is more important to him than living a good life or obeying the law or following societal norms. Now, if, as you say, his rebellious, negative behavior started very young, he may have other problems too. I have one difficult child who has always had personality problems and early on he shunned societal norms, however he is getting better. My daughter was sweet as pie until she got caught up in drugs. Her stint ran from age 12 (you read that right) to 19. Before and after that she was a sweetheart and has been clean today and no behavioral or failure-to-launch issues since quitting.

    I guess I'm trying to say all of our adult kids are individual. The drug abuse, however, needs to stop or you will not be able to see the core person behind the drugs. You do not know and may never know the extent of his substance abuse. I was shocked when my daughter told me, after quitting, the stuff she had been using. I mean, she was homeschooled and didn't really have a lot of friends and I didn't realize she was getting high when we were sleeping or climbing out her window and running around town. Once we found out she was still using, after she had said she quit, she was told to leave. Long story, but she quit everything, even cigarettes and has a good life now. She did not go to any rehab, she just left the state and stopped hanging with drug users, got a job, and joined normal society. That is unusual.

    My daughter never even came close to hitting us. But certain drugs CAN create violence. Certain temperaments can too.

    I will tell you what helped me the most when my daughter was using drugs and I was not sure she would live. She looked like a skeleton of herself. I joined Al-Anon and learned coping skills for myself and how to detach with love and I had a support system, which I badly needed. I already had a therapist for mood disorder issues, so I used my therapist as well. All in all, they helped me learn important skills and taught me lessons I had not known, such as we can not control our adult child's addiction.

    I had a necklace at the time which I wore all the time and often touched when I was feeling weak for a moment. On it, it read: "God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I can not change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference."

    I think that little prayer is very wise, even if you are an atheist...just take out t he part about God. It means we can only control our own reactions to others, not them, and we are wise to learn how to do it and what we CAN do. We can change how we respond to our difficult children, but we can not make them work toward recovery. We can set boundaries, such as not allowing them to live at home and cutting off all money unless they try hard in a treatment center, but we can not stop them from finding drugs there and using them and deciding it's better to live on the streets than in our warm houses...if it means quitting.

    But we can live full and happy lives in spite of our adult children's struggles, and most of us on this forum are trying to do that. Some of us have come far in our journey. Some are just beginning.

    Welcome to our family. Others will come along with their feedback for you. by the way, if that is your real name, you may want to change it to protect yourself. You never know who is reading this...nice to "meet" you; sorry I had to.
  3. Sttp

    Sttp So much to learn!

    MidwestMom, Thank you for your advice and personal stories. I have always been interested in your postings. You post sensible information. I like that. I am a no non-sense type of person. I want to say thank you for all your past postings. You will never know the extend of how you have helped me over the many months!! Thanks for taking the time to read my post and responding. Its soooo good to know this forum is here for us all.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sttp, I am so glad I've helped. I had so much pain, I just try to give feedback and hope something takes hold. I am very logical as a person so I guess it probably helps people who think more like I do. I do have a soft heart, but I don't "think" with it, Know what I mean??

    We are here 24/7, 365 days a year. We never close. You can always post and somebody will always be here to help you get through those hard times and cyber-hold your hand :)
  5. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome Sttp. I'm so sorry you are having to deal with a difficult difficult child. Drugs and alcohol can really warp their sense of reality. It sounds as if you have really been there for your difficult child and have tried to help him. It is not uncommon for our difficult child's to beg for help and to promise to change when they are in trouble. I went through that many times with my difficult child. I would help him out and he would be "nice" for a short time then he would "forget" all those promises he made.
    Each one of us is different in that only you can decide when enough is enough. I know if I had this forum 15-20 years ago I could have saved myself years of chaos and grief as I would have detached much sooner.

    MWM does give wonderful advice. I agree with her about joining Al-Anon. You will learn coping skills that will help to deal with what you are going through.

    I'm glad you decided to share your story with us. We are here for you and each other.

  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome STTP. I'm glad you decided to join us. As you have read, you are not alone, there are many of us here with a similar story. It's a tough road.

    MWM has given you good advice. I am a believer in getting as much support as we can. Starting with Al Anon will be very helpful for you. You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. You may also want to read Codependent no More by Melodie Beattie. Any books by Pema Chodron, Brene Brown and Eckhart Tolle have been very helpful to me. Private therapy has helped many of us here. You may also try NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, they have chapters in many cities and offer excellent parent courses. There is much support out there for US.

    While your son is in inpatient, it may be a very good time for you to get the support that you need so that you can learn to detach from your sons choices and accept what you cannot change. Why your son acts in the way he does may be the big unanswered question. We may never find out the "why" of it, but the solution for YOU is likely to be the one to change. Your son is the only one who can make any changes for himself.........or not. You can choose to learn a different way to respond so that you are not dragged around by his behavior and his choices. It is not easy, but it is doable.

    Hang in there, keep posting, get support and be very kind to is a good idea to shift the focus off of your son and put it on YOU........doing that will strengthen you, nourish you and give you the opportunity to be able to make healthy choices for you and for your son. I'm glad you're here with us.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Now that you've posted, you will feel more supported.

    Telling our stories helps us see our own situations more clearly and is as important as the support and validation we give and receive from one another.

    I'm so glad you've joined us.


  8. Sttp

    Sttp So much to learn!

    WMW, Tanya, and Cedar thank you for your support and advice. I thought I was a strong person, but I get weary over time due to difficult child's stuff. I don't know how to not be affected by his bad choices. I don't have a problem detaching physically, but I struggle with the mental worrying, it weights heavy on my heart. If you looked at him, he looks like he's got it all together, but the inside is so screwed up. Its sad..
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sttp, read this. It is about radical acceptance. It is the key to letting go with love and moving on because you accept that what is is and that you can not change it so worrying is a waste of your energy and not a help to your son. Although this article seems to pertain to one who has lost a significant other, this pertains also to our adult children who are struggling. This is how most of us who have made so much progress have learned to do so. We practice radical acceptance AND living in the moment...not the past about what HAS happened (that we can not change) or the future (which is not ours to predict). It is about acceptance and living in the moment and knowing our limitations as to what we can do for other people, even if they are our adult children.

    I hope this launches you to an exploration of mindfulness, which is part of radical acceptance. Nothing on earth has helped me more than this and it makes A LOT of logical sense. Being a logical person, if it did not, it would not have helped me. I have done much work with this, much of it on my own. Dialectal Behavioral Therapy is on the internet and is all about learning mindfulness, radical acceptance, distress tolerance and other skills that make it possible to live a great life in spite of our struggling children. It teaches us how useless it is to be stuck in the past in anger or to want to change anybody or anything. We can only change one Yes, it is hard work, but sooooooooooooo worth it.

    The part I copies is a start.

    Happy reading and much peace and serenity tonight. You will find, once you choose peace, you will probably love it as I do. I threw drama out the window and have experienced little of it in the pat ten years. I have learned how to say "no" to drama and "yes" to peace, harmony and taking the higher road.And for me, somebody who started out with borderline traits years ago, this was some long hike up a very rocky and high mountain. But I took it and feel I have acquired 90% success. If I can do it...anyone can.

    I wish you a fruitful journey :)

    ***We are born into a world that is not of our making. We are given a place to grow up, parents, a family, a home, neighbors, teachers, friends—and an era in which we evolve. We don't get a choice in so much that really counts. Are you good looking, ugly or in the middle? Are you smart, challenged or just different? Are you tall, short—skinny, heavy—charismatic, marginalized—befriended or alone? Are your parents happy or even together? Do you have a brother or sister that you are close to - or are you bullied relentlessly? Are you born into a time of peace or a time of war, a time of impoverishment or a time of plenty, a time of faith or a time of cynicism? If you take a deep breath and look at the circumstances of your early life, you will have to see that the whole project is essentially unfair. Some people are born into riches of all kinds, while others are burdened from the very beginning.

    Then you live your life. You make decisions, meet people, and navigate through school and more. We all try. It is absurd to call people lazy. But some certainly have a harder time than others. With luck, someone loved you. Someone believed in you and in turn, you began to believe in yourself. If you were a more sensitive soul, you may have been injured by the numerous selfish people that you met along the way; and they are everywhere (welcome to the human condition). Some of these wounds can last a lifetime, leaving you feeling stupid, unwanted, second best and so on. If you were what E. James Anthony called The Invulnerable Child, you were able to pull yourself up from nothing and make something of yourself: look at Presidents Clinton and Obama, two men who had weak paternal support and nonetheless, perservered. There are so many stories and your unique life is one of them.

    Radical Acceptance is a gift—and I want to offer it to you. We must accept what happens to us. That doesn't mean that we like it or that it is fair. Life is not fair. If you are in the midst of a divorce, you gave up so much to make your marriage work. It didn't. If he left you, then you are probably holding a bag of resentment and hurt. If you left him, you've been grieving the loss of your marriage for some time. It is a big loss. We all want to rage at the world, or crawl into a depressed spot when we feel the injustice and randomness of our pain.

    Or perhaps you were traumatized by an accident, an illness, a corrupt business deal, a rapist, the death of a child, Mother Nature. All this happens in this world and it may happen to any of us. As we age we grow wiser as the invincibility of youth is supplanted by the vulnerability of maturity. Kids simply don't know how precious happiness really is. It is a golden moment to be celebrated and cherished. And when you have love, grab it. I often say to my patients, "Grab the good, because the bad will surely find you."

    When injured by others or by circumstance, I encourage you to feel it all; the outrage, the hurt, the questioning of your Maker, the fear of what will be coming next—if anything. This is grief work and it is a necessary part of healing. It is the spiritual equivalent to the body slowly healing a bad wound. It starts off in pain, and then remains tender, and when protected and soothed, a wound eventually heals. And scars are a sign that the body did its job. Grief brings you through pain to disbelief, to anger, to "only ifs" to profound sadness, to loss - and then to acceptance. It gets triggered again and again, like tsunamis of anguish that take you over when you least expect it. But, over time grief does get worked through. The wound heals, even if imperfectly. We are left with acceptance - and I would like to argue - Radical Acceptance. It's a good thing.

    There is something about the human condition in that we tend to hold onto bad memories more than good ones. We have sayings like, bad news travels ten time farther or faster than good news. It is probably evolutionary, because when survival was at stake, ancient homo sapiens had to remember where danger lurked. Their very survival depended on it. So, remembering the bad had value - but in the twenty first century, this quality provides us with too much pain and it is not worth it anymore. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a dramatic example of this biological safety mechanism gone terribly wrong.)

    Radical Acceptance means that you understand that bad things do indeed happen to good people - and all the time. You can stay mired in your sense of injustice and self righteousness. You can develop an entire personality around your victimhood. But what purpose does it provide? An identity fueled by hurt and rage is a soul that is preoccupied by control and not love. You lose a second time because you become a victim of your own victimhood. And, in the worst case, you can become part of the problem. Very often, it was an injured soul or group that hurt you in the first place. A cycle of victims and oppressors does our species little good.

    We must accept. Not in the classic Buddhist sense of non attachment. We should be attached. A wrong is a wrong; and it needs to be righted if possible. But we must start with the understanding that what happened to us is part of the quixotic human condition. From acceptance comes clarity - and from this place, you will be more able to make a difference. If you were married to a narcissistic man, for instance, mourn the loss that you may never have really been loved. Get over it, because you will have to coldly deal with his manipulations—and your outrage will only play into his charismatic hands. If your older sister was preferred by your father because she was beautiful and you were just smart, get over it. Let go. Radically accept your father's stupid (but human) mistake. It cost you. No question. You are angry and perhaps have a chip on your shoulder. Forgive and grieve the father that you wish you had. He was just coarsely human - like most of us. This kind of acceptance is the end stage of healthy grief - it will probably make you easier to live with - and give you much needed peace.

    Radical Acceptance is an evolutionary good - if not a spiritual good as well. Most of us don't have to worry about wild beasts attacking us. We can learn from our misfortunes. We just don't want to be irreparately damaged by them. To accept means to see things clearly. It reinforces the notion not to give a second chance to someone who doesn't deserve it. You don't have to walk around feeling like a victim in order to protect yourself.

    You see, acceptance doesn't mean passivity. It means freedom.

    Let there be a blessing for us all to be free to see the world as it is, with its dangers—and its gifts. Grieving our losses is only a first step towards the wisdom of enjoying what is to be enjoyed. Most of us have blessings if only we permit ourselves to see them. Ironically, as we shed our expectations we become lighter and more open to every moment that we live.

    Grab the good when it comes by. The bad will find you where you are.

    It is the way of things.


    © Mark R Banschick, MD
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Note: As a student and believer of much of Buddhism, I'm not so sure attachment is good. I can love my daughter to pieces without being attached at her hip, for example. Still working on that one. At any rate, I'm positive that radical acceptance is the only way to be happy and content and to let go of what hurts you so that YOU benefit. Radical acceptance is not to let others get away with hurting you, whether it is your great aunt Nellie, your mother, you abusive father or your own adult child who does abuse you and disappoints. It is about accepting them, which makes it easy to not be so emotionally tied to them. They are as they were made to be and we can let go of how they behave. To me, the winner is us...if we choose revenge or anger or constant stress and rumination over how to fix a person, the loser is always us.

    I'm going to post the way I now think about other people in order to let go of them emotionally and, yes, I do meditation exercises too, which have helped.

    Aunt Nellie is always sticking her nose in my business and talking about me to others. I find out. I have a choice. I can heave anger in my bosom and yell at her or hold t he anger in OR I can take a deep breath and think, "Of course Aunt Nellie did that. It's the way she is. Why am I susprised? If I want to interact with her at all, this is what she will do. There is no point getting all upse baout this since I know how s he is. Maybe I will think about not having so much time with Aunt Nellie. If necessary I will decide not to see her at all, but not as a punishment to her. As a healing device for ME. And I don't need to be angry now. She is who she is. I accept it."

    Ok, so our child. Our adult child calls us all sorts of names and blames us for his cruddy life. How can we think about HIM or HER? I have done this. I can't believe how successful it has been for me, but it has also helped HIM. I do not know if it will always help the adult child, but once MY son realized he had lost the control to upset me, he backed off and now is nice to me 80% of the time. It is quite pleasant.

    This is what I decided to think regarding him.

    "I accept that he can be very mean and abusive and manipulative especially when under pressure. And, although he mostly does this when he is in crisis, I am a valuable and worthwhile person who has done all I can for him all of his life. It is not ok to abuse me just because he is having a hard time. I choose not to allow his abuse, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. I choose to tell him that if he raises his voice at me, cusses at me, calls me a name, or blames me for his own problems, even from the past, I will gently hang up the phone until we can have a more mature to adult. I will act on what I tell him. If I have to hang up one hundred times before he gets it, I will. If I have to hang up sometimes all of our lives, I will do so. My own physical and mental health are precious to me, and I am no good to myself or my loved ones if I allow others to stomp all over me. So I am going to take care of myself. In the bargain, maybe I will live longer so that I can be there longer for my son when he is being reasonable and needs me, which does happen. Plus I want to dance at my granddaughter's wedding. I won't be able to do that unless I detach with love and love myself as I do my children. I will not take his words personally if I hear them, because I know he is just that way under pressure, but that doesn't make me have to hear him either."

    And so I did it.

    How I think now. "Not taking on their emotions is possible. Not reacting back in kind makes me feel like I saved myself a lot of energy. Not believing his words when angry or refusing to hear them has made me feel good about myself, like I finally matter to me. And he seems to respect me more, which is an odd side effect of it. I know what he is like. But I can choose how to respond to his behavior. I have 100% power over myself. I feel good about how I have taken back my power yet still not completely cut off my son. I think I'll go watch a great movie with my beloved, kind husband."
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well said MWM.
  12. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Hugs, Sttp.

    Want you to know I am reading and feeling for you. So glad you found this forum and I hope you stick with these fine folks. Post often. It certainly helps.
  13. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Welcome, STTP. Sorry you had to find us but so glad you did and so glad you shared your story with us. Posting really helps. We share a lot of the same sad and frustrating experiences with our adult children. I don't know what I'd do without the support I get from this wonderful place.