Newbie here - long, rambling post

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by mtdenise, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. mtdenise

    mtdenise Member

    I’ve been reading these boards for a couple of months and hoping I wouldn’t have to post. Alas, here I am. Just wanted to start with thanking all of you…your posts and discussions have been very helpful to me, especially knowing that I am not alone in all this. Here’s my story:

    Up until Tuesday, it was my husband, difficult child, and myself living at home. My daughter has an apartment, teaching job, and is in grad school. difficult child’s life started to spiral downward a couple of years ago. In March of this year, I noticed money missing from my wallet. Asked him directly if he took it and he said no. Thought I had lost it somehow. Then I kept noticing that I didn’t have as much money as I thought I did in my wallet and the same thing was happening to my husband. I guess deep down we never want to think our own children would steal from us and we were in denial. We actually set him up one night. My husband put $40 in his wallet when he got home from work. We went on about our evening and a few hours later when he checked, the money was gone. Even with that proof, my difficult child denied taking it…until we told him we KNEW he had taken it. When asked what he needed all this money for (he was working at the time), he just said “stuff.” We asked him about drugs but of course he denied that. Next day he took all his clothes and left while my husband and I were out. He stayed with friends until about June when I found out they had kicked him out too. During this time, he had received a court summons to appear for an accident he had caused (running into a gate at a business or something). He was driving a truck that he never registered and didn’t have insurance on. I was able to track him down by calling people on his phone log (that wasn’t easy as some of them wouldn’t tell me anything…until I threatened to get the cops involved and file a missing person report). So, my difficult child called me, crying, saying he didn’t know what to do, was afraid to call because he didn’t think we wanted to even talk to him. He came home the next day and told us he was taking pain killers, had a gambling problem, and wanted to start over. He had also lost his job in the time that he was on his own due to stealing from the company.

    We thought he had hit rock bottom and was ready to get his life back. We found Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous for him to attend and had him start seeing a therapist. Things seemed to go well for a couple months and he found a job at a new grocery store that opened up. We did notice him starting to revert back to old ways and kept telling him if he had problems he needed to talk with us. He never did. In October I noticed more money missing from my wallet and found out he had zero money in his back account. He lost his job right after that due to being late too many times. He quit going to meetings and therapy. As with many of you, my husband and I started hiding our wallets. On Tuesday, I found out my difficult child had taken some checks out of my checkbook and forged 3 checks for $100 each. That was my final straw and I told him to leave immediately. I’m so tired of the lying (I’m not sure he ever tells the truth about anything…lots of examples which I didn’t get into in this note) and the stealing. I’m heartbroken that my own flesh and blood can so easily steal from us. When I asked him what he needed that money for, we got the “just crap” line again. Upon pressuring him more, he said he owed people money and then named a friend of his. I highly doubt that was the truth. We again asked him about drugs and gambling and he denied it.

    We haven’t heard from him since Tuesday. I have no idea where he is. I canceled his cell phone service about 3 weeks ago as he was never paying me for it. Oh, he is now on probation for stealing from his previous employer and owes over $600 in restitution. It seems the more we tried to help him and come up with solutions the more he spiraled downward. Reading all of your posts has been extremely helpful to me in learning how to detach, kick him out, and let him figure out his own life and problems. I now realize that he was never ready to truly change his life. My husband and I are emotionally drained and now realize we need to take care of US. I have no idea what will happen to my difficult child. I’m assuming he’ll eventually end up in jail or dead. It’s hard and sad to admit that, but I realize that is the life HE chose. He had every advantage growing up. He was involved in sports and scouting, we attended all his events, stressed the importance of school and good friends. He took all our advice and tossed it aside. He always seemed drawn to the losers in school.

    I’m sorry this is so long and somewhat rambling. I’m sure I left out a lot of details, details that would have made this note 5 pages long. It’s just so nice to know I’m not alone and there are people who completely understand what my husband and I are going through and the decisions we have made along the way. Are there any type of support groups that I should look for? I really need to be with others who get it, but have no idea what type of group that would be. Thanks for “listening.”
  2. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    There was nothing long or rambling about your post. Its not easy to put these things into words, especially online. Just seems to make it too.....real. We have had similar issues with our difficult child but without the gambling, or for that matter the working. He turns 20 in a few months and I have more hours on my part time job in the last 4 months that he has in his life.

    As far as support groups, it really depends what you need. We talk to our pastor from time to time although he retires next week so wont have that outlet. We also have access to free counseling through work so when it gets bad we can do that. It offers us 6 sessions per incident with unlimited incidents so works out pretty well. Best thing I have found is just reading through old posts. Also, read the article on detachment, its worth its weight in gold! Good luck and dont be afraid to post on here if you need help! Its done wonders for us! Sorry, by us I mean Lil and I. She is my wife.
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  3. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Yes, we all understand. Check out Families Anonymous. I love going to my FA group.

    You are doing the right thing by not taking him back into your home. I would only help him if he is willing to go to a 28 day program and then to a halfway house. I would not spend tens of thousands of dollars on one because they relapse more than once before they finally get it, if that ever happens. There are some low cost programs out there although they have waiting lists. Don't give him money. Don't bail him out of jail, if he calls.

    How old is your kid?
  4. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    mtdenise, my husband Jabber and I are sitting side by side on our computers...when we really should be working. lol We put our son out in October for stealing from us...nearly $700 cash we'd been saving up all year. We took him into our bedroom where the jar and the remaining $10 or so was laying on the bed, and he said, "Yeah? What's this?" He admitted it only after being threatened with the police. This hadn't been the first time, he'd pawned things last year, and we told him that if so much as a CD went missing we'd call the cops.

    Of course we didn't, but we had him pack his bags and he's been in the homeless shelter ever since. I don't really think even now it's sunk in. It has been hard. Nothing has hurt this much. But we were right. You can't live with someone who steals from you without remorse. Oh...mine says he's sorry...but he said that before, again and again.

    I am so very sorry for what you are going thru, but glad you found this safe place to land.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome, mtdenise. Yes, we're on a tough road here with our kids. I'm sorry you had to go looking for us yet glad you found us and that you're here with us. We do get it.

    You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post. Any books by Melodie Beattie, in particular Codependent no more are excellent, as are books by Pema Chodron, Brene Brown and Eckhart Tolle. I've found the more support we offer ourselves, the better and faster we begin to feel better.

    As others have mentioned 12 step groups are extremely helpful. Al anon, Narc Anon, CoDa and Families Anonymous. Private therapy, parent groups, your minister or clergy, if you dig around a bit, you'll find resources just for YOU. This journey is fraught with many, many mine fields which blow up when we least expect it, so we need to develop tools to help us that we can rely on when the going gets tough. These are our children, no matter how old they are, our natural instincts to protect and nurture need to be altered to learning how to respond differently and very often, how to let to.

    It takes us awhile to get out of our own denial about who our kids are. Of course that would be true, none of us expected our kids to steal from us, lie to us, manipulate us, throw what we've taught them out the window, it takes us time to let that truth in, it is a terrible truth we don't want to face. And, yet, as we learn to face it, with hopefully LOTS of support, we begin to get our lives back and learn to experience joy and peace.

    Everything you've been through with your son has been experienced here by someone, the stories are eerily similar and familiar. Our kids go off the rails for whatever reason and we spend a lot of time in grief, despair, anger, disappointment, resentment, sorrow and disbelief. My advice to you is to seek out professional help, somewhere you can go to express your feelings and develop a plan and learn how to respond differently. I spent two solid years in a Codependency course lead by therapists in a group of parents who had kids just like mine. I saw a therapist weekly, attended 12 step groups, altered my diet, began a self nurturing regiment, made sure I exercised daily and started meditating. As I made the focus on myself, I began to heal, I began to grow, I began to let go of what I cannot control. I nourished my own life and I began to thrive rather than simply survive each encounter created by my daughter.

    There is great help here. You are not alone. To whatever degree you want to participate, we are available. We are all here in the same boat. Welcome.
  6. mtdenise

    mtdenise Member

    Thanks all for the warm welcome. My difficult child is 23. Lil and Jabberwockey, I have to say your story hit really close to home with me when I first found this site. Your posts and everyone's responses have helped so much. Thanks recoveringenabler for the book recommendations and thanks everyone for letting me know where to begin looking for support. This board is wonderful. I'm going to read and re-read all your replies.
  7. mtdenise

    mtdenise Member

    Here's a question for you all. How do you deal with "how's your son doing" questions? I was at my Jazzercise class this morning and a woman I knew from when our kids were in school was there. She asked how the family was. I just said fine and quickly asked about hers and heard about her 3 easy child's. I then chatted about my daughter and my husband. Left out my son completely. If she had asked directly about him, I'm not sure what I would have said. How do you handle this? I get so angry at my difficult child for putting me in these awkward situations.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It's nobody's business but yours. I'd just say, "Fine" and move on. If somebody asks directly you can also say, "Good" or "I'd rather not share that. So how is you daughter, XXXX?" If they are REALLY persistent, after you sent a message that you don't wish to discuss it, I'd say, "I'm in a hurry and late for an appointment. Talk to you later" and leave. People are nosey and people gossip. Never give away anything you don't want to spread. You don't owe a neighbor or even a family member any information about your son.
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  9. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I think "trying to find his place in this world", "has been struggling a bit with starting independent life" or "*rolling your eyes* I really don't know; kids these days..." are good ways to get out of those questions. People who have some manners, leave it to that. And your son's struggles are not really their business.

    If I could, I would use one of those. Mine unfortunately took that option out of my hands ending up to front page of our country's biggest tabloid with his stealing ways (also due gambling addiction), so everyone I know knows about that part of his issues. Luckily most of the rest is not quite that public information. But because they already know some, I usually go with "day at the time" or if something is going better in his life at that moment I mention that and that difficult child is enjoying that. Also "in city X, playing his sport" (could be; 'looking for work', 'working in X', 'sorting things out', whatever somewhat true) works well. Short, impersonal but true(ish.)

    If someone is impolite enough not leave it to that, I change topic and if that doesn't help, simply stare them down. My kid may have issues but I'm not a entertainment number for people looking for scandal or making themselves feel better.
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  10. mtdenise

    mtdenise Member

    Great responses. Hoping my difficult child can keep his problems from going public, but he's already on probation and it's hard to imagine he's not going to slip up again. Hopefully if that happens it won't be major and end up in the paper. My husband is beside himself because they share the same name, except the middle names are different.

    I still haven't heard from my difficult child since Tuesday. He left with one small bag of some clothes. He was supposed to come back on Thursday to take the rest of his belongings and pay us back the money he recently stole (we knew that wasn't going to happen). I'm tempted to text him and tell him to come get all his stuff, but I don't want to make the first move. He must be managing somehow. I'm also tempted to just bag up his clothes and put it on our porch.
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I like this. Responsibility for the things that are happening on the difficult child, and a correct interpretation of what it is so many people are really after when they ask.


  12. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    One thing though; not at all every people who asks is malicious or even just nosy. Of course if they do not know your son has had issues and they ask, they are just polite, and even if they know about his issues, it would be rather impolite to pretend he doesn't exist and only ask about your other kid. But after you answer, people who have manners do follow your lead and let the topic be, if you answer something vague.

    As said, all of our acquaintances know about some of my son's issues, but of course most of them are not malicious when they ask about him. And when they are not, I of course try to be polite too and even give them some (positive, neutral) information I don't mind to give and my son wouldn't mind them to know. I also have to say, I would never had guessed how many of my acquaintances have been affected one way or another by gambling addiction and issues. If your son's issues ever end up to some more public forum, you will likely notice that many people you know, have loved ones with gambling or drug issues they have never shared with you before.
  13. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Those who don't need to know I simply tell them I'd rather not talk about it. Those who are in the know to some degree or another, I remind them that if they don't want the truth then don't ask. If I don't feel like talking about it, I politely tell them that. If they want to get pushy at that point I start becoming....more insistent....until they get they finally get the hint or I get tired of the game and just walk away. But then, I've also been told that I can be excessively blunt when I don't want to discuss something.
  14. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Last night I saw a former church member who had some previous idea of what was going on with him...(this is one of those absolutely "perfect" families that you'd just love to hate but they are actually awesome people on top of being perfect). She, of course, asked how my son was doing. I just kind of rolled my eyes and said, "Eh." She pushed a little..."Now you were having some concerns before..." So I said, "Well, we kicked him out and he's been in a homeless shelter since October."

    That pretty much shut her up.

    Really, I kind of wish I'd been nicer. She's just a terrific person, but I was in no mood. lol
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I say, "she's still struggling." Rarely do folks ask beyond that.
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  16. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    My response has always been, " I will be sure to tell him that you asked about him. I know he will be delighted that you cared enough to ask."
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  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Haha. So am I. Short and sweet.
    Even if somebody really cares and wants to know, to me the less said the better as people talk. I still like not giving anything away, even "he's struggling." That offers up the other person to say, "How so?" I just like the simple "I'd rather not discuss it right now" or "good" whether it's good or horrible. I have learned not to respond with anything openended. And I've been burned telling people stuff that they exaggerated and spread...people I thought I could trust. (Actually I'm more blunt on paper than in real life. I have a very logical mind and basically write how I see it, in a logical way. I am more a logical than emotional thinker.)

    Suz, you have my sincere sympathy on the horrible Paparazzi. I refuse to read those papers and consider them trash. And that's the blunt ;) truth. Seriously, what a way to make a living...trying to ruin people's lives.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  18. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    Aaah, the dreaded question, "How is your son doing?" I hate that simple question sooo much!! There were some great responses here already. If my son is doing anything positive at the time, I will answer with that, i.e., "Oh, he's working part-time with my husband right now." If not, I will say something like, "He's trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life." Most people won't push for more information. My sister, who lives about 5 hours away, would often press me for more information. She would ask things like, "So what does he do all day??" My last response to that (when he had a phone), was, "Here, let me give you his number, so you can call or text him and ask. I'm sure he'd love to hear from you!" Funny, she never made that call..... :/
  19. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    :)Hi MTDenise, welcome to the group.

    I am so glad you found this as there really is years of life experience here on these pages. I so wish I could have found something like this years ago. My difficult child will be 34 next month. My husband and I have been dealing with his poor life choices for 20 years. It truly is gut wrenching when you find out your own child is stealing from you and lying. I got to the point with my difficult child that if his lips were moving, he was lying.

    You sound like you have a really good grip on what you need to do in that you are detaching and focusing on yourself. I can tell you that difficult child's can be very cunning in how they try to manipulate to get what they want so just be on guard for that. Mine has used the threat of suicide before in hopes that I would cave in and give him money.

    Love this response!!

    Yes, that is the most awkward question to be asked. There is some great advice here of things you could say. Ultimately you need to be comfortable with what ever your response will be. For me, it depends on whom I'm talking to as to how I will respond. People that are close to me know the truth. When I meet someone new and they ask if I have any children I say yes, I have one son and three grandchildren and I go into how much I adore my grandchildren. I have been asked where does your son and daughter in-law live to which I respond they are divorced and my daughter in-law and grandchildren live in XXXX. I have never had anyone get too nosy but if that ever happens I will have no problem telling them it's something I do not care to discuss with them.

    Again, welcome. I'm glad you found us but sorry you had to.

    Hugs to you.
  20. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    I agree that this is the simplest way to get the point across, just say fine and move on to asking about their kids. Most people, (even the nosy, gossipy ones) are more than willing to brag about their own brood if given half a chance.
    Glad you have found the board here - nice that it is open 24/7.
    My daughter has also stolen for me and personally, I find stealing from one's parents as the ultimate act of betrayal. I wonder how (and why) we can go on trusting them while we shake our heads, knowing the truth. We would never, ever allow another known thief to have access to our money/things again but somehow we do and then we are surprised when they steal from us again? They feel entitled and we are left feeling "where did I go wrong". It really is a moral problem with them and in my opinion one that is unfix-able. But boy do we manage to try and control "how we can keep them from stealing from us again". Yet we know the outcome - just as your son found another way when you started hiding the cash, he moved onto the checkbook.
    Also you may want to put a freeze on your credit so that son can not open credit in your husbands name since they share a similar one. We did that ourselves years ago. Think of it like this, if they go through your things looking for money they probably have had access to your SS cards as well & enough info to be able to do this. Putting credit freeze in place prevents anyone from opening credit in your name & for those of us with difficult child's it makes it so "the system" has to bring charges instead of us. Where I live seniors pay nothing and under 65 it is a one fee of $15 per each persons credit for each of the big three. Then there is a small fee if you need to open it to open credit for yourself.