Pothead Detente, or Simply Defeated?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Mikey, May 21, 2007.

  1. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    So, I guess we're at a standstill now.

    Never had the chance to have the final talk with difficult child. He's never around long enough to talk to. When he is, he's either in the shower, in his room with the door shut, or asleep.

    Things have settled down a bit, and I get the feeling that some new "equalibrium" has been reached (not sure how "equal" it is, though).

    So far, difficult child has been as good as his word: doesn't ask for anything, doesn't participate in anything either. Had the chance to go out with us last night for his brother's graduation dinner, decided instead to spend it with one of the Pothead Posse after eating two packs of Ramen (what sane person could pass up an Old Chicago calzone for Ramen?)

    He's also kept to his end of the "bargain", i.e. what he said he'd do. He doesn't come home stoned (or at least we can't tell if he's stoned when he does get home). He's home by curfew, but not one minute sooner. Until that moment, he's on his own, and does or doesn't answer his phone, depending on his whim.

    He did clean up his room (sort of), and as a result got one clean load of clothes back.

    He's working, and planning on upping his hours so he can pay off his car loan (from me) by the end of summer. Gave me his first paycheck yesterday, and only asked for 17 bucks out of it for gas - then walked away.

    There is no talking. There is no discussion. There is no interaction or connection any more - at least not with me. Once or twice he's trotted out the ghost of the kid he used to be in front of his Mom, but neither of us are biting on that bait any more.

    There is every indication that he is done with this part of his life, and is simply going by the letter of the law until he graduates. Because of this, I expect that there will still be episodes, but rarely will they be bad ones because he doesn't want to lose what little he does have until he's ready. But it's also clear that he intends to follow his own path, whatever that may be.

    It's not my plan, but it seems there isn't much more I can do. I can't force him to act like a member of the family. I can't punish him for simply keeping to himself. I can't make any more "rules", since he's now following the ones we've set out for continued support of living under my roof. Anything more is unrealistic, unenforcable (relatively speaking), and capricious on our part.

    He either will or he won't continue to make improvements in his life, but whatever happens will be on his terms alone. Yes, I could make his life hell to give up drugging, but would that truly work? Or would it simply feed more into the defiance that's pushed him to where he is now?

    I still hear from so many other people what a wonderful, polite, considerate, and hard-working young man he is. And then I wonder where that kid is? All I'm ever allowed to see is an angry, defiant, morose kid who seems to blame us for everything bad in his life, and now thinks of us like "an annoying ex-girlfriend that won't take the hint and go away".

    I get it now. But I also can't think of anything sadder than finally realizing that my son does not consider himself part of this family anymore, nor does he appear to care. He's not the person I'd hoped he would be, nor is he the person I think he could be. But worse than that, he doesn't seem to want to be anything at all. He simply is what he is, by his own choice.

    And I now have to find a way to live with that.

    I don't know if I'd call it acceptance, since I hate to accept the fact of what he is, and the direction he's obviously going in. And I'm forced into the role of spectator and minimal parenting. Guess I'm getting what I wanted, though, right? I wanted him to "make a decision", and whether or not I made him answer me, it's pretty obvious now that he has chosen.

    Peaceful? Pretty much. Sad. You betcha. In an earlier post, I quoted Jack Nicholson from a movie where he has serious mental issues, but asks the woman he loves "what if this is as good as it gets?

    Sadly, I feel that for us, this may be as good as it gets for us and my son, and will end with him leaving the house as soon as he graduates.

    I feel like I'm watching someone with n-stage cancer now. Peaceful, but you know what's going on, and you know what the end result will be. All you can do is watch, and support the other family members as best you can until their loved one is gone from their lives.

    Not hoping for any miracle cures here, just feeling kinda blue today and needed to write.

    Mikey
     
  2. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Oh Mikey.

    Well, at this stage of the game, yeah, it's probably best to just leave things as they are. No point in forcing a discussion just for the sake of having one; it seems the point has been made.

    I am so sorry. This must be very rough for you and wife to watch.

    Continued prayers and good thoughts for your entire family, and please reach out to talk whenever you need to.
     
  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Reluctantly, I think I have to access that you and your wife have
    completed the killer course entitled Detachment 101. Not one
    single person wants to matriculate with that Major but most of us
    have tearfully found that like Orientation...it's necessary.

    It is aok to hope and pray for a miracle. It is healthy to move
    on without anticipating that joyful event. Hugs. DDD
     
  4. KFld

    KFld New Member

    I wouldn't get to down on thinking this is how things will always be. With time and maturity and hopefully someday, the end of his pot smoking, things could change. My difficult child hated doing anything with family. He didn't coldly detatch himself from us, just hated eating with us, doing anywhere with us, etc. but now that he's clean, living on his own and becoming a healthy happy productive part of society, he actually likes to come to dinner and once again partipate in family functions. Your son is still very young and has many decisions to make in his life. I think he's still trying to test you and see how long you will actually allow him to not be involved with the family as long as he's following the rules. He probably feels if he treats you this way long enough, you won't be able to stand it and you will be the one giving in. Prove him wrong and eventually he will be the one who won't be able to stand it and will come crawling back to you guys. I can almost guarantee it. He's still playing the game and wondering who's going to win.

    You and wife have come very far. Keep it going. You are both doing great!!
     
  5. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    Re: <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I think he's still trying to test you and see how long you will actually allow him to not be involved with the family as long as he's following the rules. He probably feels if he treats you this way long enough, you won't be able to stand it and you will be the one giving in.</div></div>

    I agree (I think), but I'm not sure I follow you. He's been invited to participate, but declined. The choice to shun us was his. I'm not sure what else he thinks we'll do to him if he continues this course of action.

    And I don't understand this seething, burning anger in him. We've already given up so much - what else could he possibly want? The only thing left is what he KNOWS he won't get - acceptance and approval of his current life choices. Won't happen, never will.

    I will acknowledge his ability (and soon, his right) to choose his own life path. But I don't have to like it, condone it, support or enable it. And if forcing us to fully accept his life choices is his goal, then we are, indeed, at a stalemate.

    And if this is detachment, then it sucks (but I guess it's better than what was there before).

    One thing I think, though: detachment is probably a good for this situation. It may, in fact, be the only thing left to us to keep our family from imploding. But when someone is actively trying to separate himself from you, detachment can easily erode into apathy, dislike, and even hate. That's the battle I'm fighting - to keep my emotions from eroding any further than they already have. It hurts, but I can't let it get any worse. I will NOT give him any reason to self-justify or validate his actions.

    So here I am, detatched but still fighting the internal struggle. I'm sure just about everyone here understands that feeling. Everyone but me - until now.

    Mikey
     
  6. KFld

    KFld New Member

    What I'm trying to say is he probably figures eventually you will start doing more for him, like paying for things you used to, or giving into things that you put into place because you won't be able to stand the way he's treating you. He probably thinks you'll start sucking up to him eventually. Just let it play out and see what happens.

    Detatchment is very difficult but you have to do it to protect your own heart and the rest of your family. I know it doesn't always feel like you, but you are doing a great job.
     
  7. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Well, Mikey, he probably doesn't much like himself at this point, and it's much easier to aim that dislike in your and your wife's direction than at himself, because looking at himself would mean that he has to change.

    Also, if he feels that you and your wife have over-controlled him (as my son feels about his dad and me, and he's right...) this may simply be his way of detaching from that.

    Just my 2 cents, judging from my own son, as your son and mine are about the same age, and sound quite alike in many ways.
     
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Also, if he feels that you and your wife have over-controlled him (as my son feels about his dad and me, and he's right...) this may simply be his way of detaching from that.</div></div>

    That's the way he's acting, but I don't know why. When he was younger, he was a competitive gymnast, and spent nearly every day in the gym after school. We never made him go, and always told him when it wasn't fun any more that he should quit.

    He did it until early 8th grade, when he stopped because he was too tall and his back hurt every day. That was also about the time he started to have real problems with ADD and homework. But other than trying to keep him focused on school, it's almost the exact opposite: we were completely clueless, and he had our complete trust and the freedom to hang around his "friends" (now known as the Pothead Posse) without much intervention from us.

    It was only AFTER he "came clean" that we went a little nuts, and gave him any reason whatsoever to think we're over-controlling him. We did, but it was because of HIS actions. To this day, if he'd not told us what was happening, and didn't exhibit any more "signs" now than he did then, we still wouldn't have a clue, and he'd still have his little private pothead life all to himself.

    wife thinks that he 'fessed up from a guilty conscience, actually convinced himself for the first few weeks afterwards that he wanted help, and that we over-reacted and lost our chance when he shut down. It's been a battle of wills ever since.

    If anything, he probably regrets every day ever telling us the truth. If he's angry with himself about anything, it's probably for not realizing how gullible and naive we were, and that his momentary loss of reason in confessing was not worth following year of misery on his part (he's even said this). Funny how everyone else's feelings, desires, and concerns don't enter into his equations.

    But then again, he's an addict.

    :rolleyes:

    Mikey
     
  9. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    I remember feeling the way you do Mikey. It's not a fun place. Your thoughts are constantly on what did you all do or should do or should have done. What did difficult child do or didn't do or should or should not have done.

    It will get better. It may get worse first,...but it will get better. Just don't play into his hand and stand your ground. Don't get sucked into having a discussion and keep the consistency.

    difficult child 2 turns 20 this year. There is a huge difference in him. He is his own man, but he also enjoys being with the family. Not too too much, but he always comes to family gatherings. It does get better. They do remember what you taught them. They just need time to put it into action.

    Is he going to be the college bound kid who's life you'd just like to live over again? nope, that's why you are here. That's why we are all here.

    Disappointing does so little to describe how I feel. Robbed, violated, cheated are more like it. The reasons....to many to name and too few to define. It is what it is.
     
  10. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Just don't play into his hand and stand your ground. Don't get sucked into having a discussion and keep the consistency.</div></div>

    It shouldn't be hard to keep the consistency, since the current answer to the question that started this thread is "I feel defeated". The future, while not a particularly happy one for us, is at least clearer and easier to understand now. And other than keeping the drama from hurting my other two kids, life with the beast (I won't call him my son any more) is pretty much on cruise control now.

    After thinking about it all afternoon, I've come to the conclusion that I am where I am not from grand understanding of the situation, not from some wellspring of insight I've gained, or any resolution I've made to draw and hold the line here, and go no farther.

    It's not detachment, nor is it the first steps of recovery from any 12-step program. It is simply weary acceptance that things are the way they are. I wanted to believe that "my son", the kid I knew before he told us what was going on, was still alive somewhere in that head of his. And somehow - through love, through patience, through tough decisions and therapy and anything else I could muster I was going to support that spark of goodness in him and help it grow.

    If I could just get that spark to rekindle, maybe it would start to burn brighter again and chase away some of the darker shadows that had come into my son's life and obscurred him from our view. But what I thought was a spark were the dying embers of a long gone fire. Breathing on it may make it glow for a second, but it won't come back to life - at least not from anything I will or won't do.

    So, now I accept what simply is. His life is his own. While he chooses to live it under my roof, he will abide by the rules I put in place for the good of all the family. When he's old enough, he will find his own way into the world and I will bid the shell that was once my son goodbye, and hope that he makes it through life well enough to fill that shell with something positive and good. I just don't think that will happen while he's here.

    Robbed, cheated, violated. I understand. But right now all I feel is defeated. He will do what he will, and I will be a spectator to his rise or fall. That would be hard enough for any parent with a "normal" easy child kid. For us parents of difficult child's, it's a truly horrible future milestone, and I dread it's coming. But, I accept it as well, and life will go on. I just wish it would go on with the son I used to know, but it won't.

    But, life <u>will</u> go on.

    Mikey
     
  11. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Mikey, my husband I've been down where you are right now, feeling hopeless and "defeated."

    But, please don't give up. My son was the beast you call your son and then some...due to pot combined with his impulsive nature added to the natural process of a 17-year-old beginning to separate from parents.

    My once sweet, funny, loving little boy became a monster we didn't recognize who quite matter-of-factly admitted that he was going to smoke pot no matter what we said or thought, so we should "just live with it."

    We ended up laying down the law in regard to what could or could not go on in our home, the only thing we had any control over, and let him go. He spent all of last summer pushing every limit he could. We went through the MOST miserable period of our lives over those couple of months as a result.

    However, because of his court-ordered stint in a group home where drug/alcohol counseling, anger management, life skills, etc. are a mandatory part of his day, we've seen a HUGE change in him. Of course, this is probably largely because he's drug free.

    According to our psychotherapist, the Catch 22 is that, while kids our son's age are using drugs, they aren't able to do the maturing and emotional growing that are so important at this time in their lives, and they get further and further behind in that regard, which leads them to use more and more drugs.

    Is there any way you could send your son to some sort of reform-type school such as those in Utah where he'd receive counseling for drugs and whatever other emotional issues he has going on? You said he wouldn't go voluntarily, but, since he's still a minor, would it be possible to send him involuntarily?

     
  12. TYLERFAN

    TYLERFAN New Member

    Mikey:

    Please don't give up. My difficult child was one of the worst her shrink ever saw....didn't want a thing to do with me or my family for years while living in my house and not living in my house. She is a recovering drug addict with a baby I am raising. She now, at 21, desires to have a family. Things are farrrrrrr from perfect, BUT...she has come back around to a place of "detante" for her family and me.
    I haven't been here in awhile as things have been nuts.....but things have been better. I always thought my child wouldn't live this long.......Let him be for now,Mikey...He'll probably come back around one day. Best Wishes :warrior:

    Melissa
     
  13. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    And if this is detachment, then it sucks (but I guess it's better than what was there before).

    Yep,it sucks. But it is better than feeling angry and betrayed everytime you look at them. Mine is still smoking--I know it, husband knows it, and tomorrow, if she does her job right, his probation officier will know it. He is doing the bare minimum to live at home. He has almost completed the 20 hours of work he has to do to get his diploma. He is attending NA meetings every night. He is not in contact with his loser friends (at least I don't think so).
    What bothers me in that we are not just dealing with a substance abuse problem here. We also have major mental health issues to deal with. I am trying to let him work through the beauracracy that is our gov't, but he is not emotionally or socially mature enough to handle it. Life with a stoner difficult child is not easy. But that which does not kill us, makes us stronger---and now I am Wonder Woman!!!
     
  14. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    Meant to post earlier on this thread. I know how you feel (people say that, but on this board you know they really mean it).

    I do think there's a very good chance your boy will eventually grow out of all this. I think your and your wife's detaching will help. But it sure does suck not knowing how it's going to turn out.
     
  15. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I agree with the other posters.

    Do not confuse detatching with giving up hope. Tough love is still love.

    What you are accepting is how things are for NOW. Nobody has any idea what will happen down the line.

    You are doing great.
     
  16. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">However, because of his court-ordered stint in a group home where drug/alcohol counseling, anger management, life skills, etc. are a mandatory part of his day, we've seen a HUGE change in him.</div></div>

    If only it were that easy for us. Here in podunk, pot is so rampant that the cops won't even bother you unless you have more than they think you need for your own use. Since the beast mooches from others, he never has any on him any more, and doesn't do anything else (that I know of) that would get the police involved - much as I may secretly wish that to happen &lt;sigh&gt;.

    At this point, losing his freedom and gaining a new roommate named "Bubba" who thinks he has pretty teeth may be the only thing to scare him into a different view of life. But I don't think that'll happen any time soon. If anything, he's toning down his usage so that it doesn't bother anyone but us.
    :grrr:

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">...the Catch 22 is that, while kids our son's age are using drugs, they aren't able to do the maturing and emotional growing that are so important at this time in their lives, and they get further and further behind in that regard, which leads them to use more and more drugs.</div></div>
    Same thing said by his therapist. If they start using when they're 14 (like the beast did), then they stay 14 emotionally as long as they're using. And I believe it, because when I have to deal with him it's like dealing with your typical, self-centered, oblivious-to-real-life young teen.

    The only thing that's saved his skinny rear is that even at that age, he had some pretty impressive skills he could use in both athletics and the arts. Even though he hasn't lifted a finger in three years to improve himself, he's still far ahead of his peers in the arts. So he has something he can fall back on, if needed. His health has gone south, so athletics is out. And when someone spoon-feeds him his schoolwork (like he gets at the alt. ed. program), he's still capable of making A's in hard subjects.

    But regardless of whatever (stagnant) skills he may have, he's still a 14YO in a near-18YO body, who wants the bennies of an 18YO but still wants to act like a 14YO. Not news to anyone here, just talking out loud (as usual). But my epiphany was that as long as he was still using, had a bed, three meals a day, health insurance, and the security of four walls around him, he may never progress beyond that 14YO mentality.

    Which means he may have to leave the house, as soon as it's legal, to learn. And that was the final realization that scared me - having a 14YO difficult child thrust into the world, unprepared, but unable to live at home any more. One of his current "friends" in the Pothead Posse just got that as his graduation present - two suitcases, 200 dollars, the title to his car, and an escort out the door. According to the mother of another member of the posse, next year her kid may not even have a week after his graduation day to start his new life somewhere else.

    Argh! Why does it have to be this way?

    Mikey
     
  17. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">...I always thought my child wouldn't live this long....</div></div>
    That must be a common thought of parents of difficult child's. My wife has said for over a year that she dreads getting "the call". "Your son has been in an accident", "Your son died from a drug overdose", "Your son is in custody for &lt;insert favorite substance abuser crime here&gt;", etc...

    It's a source of constant low-level stress. It never goes away. And for someone like me - strong type-A italian male, it was enough to push me into daily anxiety attacks. Now I take medications to keep that from happening. My poor beloved wife simply started escaping into sleep anytime she could - not that it was ever very restful. She, too, now has her little twice-a-day helpers for depression.

    So now we're both drugged up legally to deal with the stress of our son's illegal drug problem - how's that for irony?
    :hammer:

    And to be honest, as difficult child's go, the beast doesn't cause near the problems and heartache that other parents on CD have had inflicted on them. As traumatic as our current situation is, I don't know how others with more serious issues (and consequences) make it through the day.

    So yes, I'm intimately familiar with the feeling you describe, as I'm sure most of the rest of us are. Yet another wonderful aspect of emotionaly "retarded" difficult child's who only consider themselves when they're weighing consequences (if they even bother to think that much before they up and do something..)

    &lt;deep breath&gt; - &lt;one foot in front of the other&gt; - &lt;now the next foot&gt; - &lt;repeat&gt;.....

    Mikey

     
  18. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    A couple of parents have gotten "the" ultimate call. Our hearts
    break for them. We got a 3 AM call saying our boy fell three
    floors off a balcony, landed on his head and was being airlifted
    to the nearest Trauma hospital...two hours away.

    None of us can prevent "the call" as the behaviors are totally
    completely out of our control and it is not physically or legally
    possible to keep our kids locked in our homes. Even though we
    are truly under daily stress and in emotional pain...we do thank
    God that our son "could" eventually end up OK. on the other hand even though
    we practice detachment and repeat the Serenity Prayer, the sense
    of loss prevades our daily life.

    "Why does it have to be this way?" There is no answer to that question within the mortal experience. We focus on the Serenity
    Prayer.........and try to believe that God has a plan. DDD

     
  19. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">...on the other hand even though we practice detachment and repeat the Serenity Prayer, the sense of loss prevades our daily life.</div></div>
    This, too, I understand. Not in the way you've experienced it, but in the last few days I've finally accepted that the son I knew is gone, never to return. And I grieve for that loss. In a way, maybe I always knew this to be true, and suffered all the more for failing to acknowledge it. For me, too, it's an all day, every day weight on my soul that only gets worse as the reality of the situation becomes clearer.

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">"Why does it have to be this way?" There is no answer to that question within the mortal experience. We focus on the Serenity Prayer.........and try to believe that God has a plan.</div></div>
    I sure hope so. You'd think that after being sober for over 15 years, and being in several different 12-step programs that I'd understand this. But like my son, I guess at the time I was dealing with my issues, as I thought they affected me - not other people. Maybe you never really know what the first three steps really mean until you have to re-learn them as the observer, not the abuser.

    Not as far along the path as I thought I was. But at least now I have a better understanding of how far I have to go.

    Mikey
     
  20. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    silence is golden. he is pouting. ramen noodles are a treat in prison. so much so that ant cannot stomach them at all anymore.

    let your son grow thru this time. he will always be your son. sometimes they have to pull away from us to appreciate us. this is not forever.
     
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