husband and I are still going to marriage counseling to work on communication problems, but not very often. Yesterday we were talking about our coping mechanisms when confronted with problems. I worry, and husband withdraws. When I was really bad off, I used to withdraw beyond the worry, so every time I went too far with the worry, I would withdraw. I spent a lot of time sad and worried and angry because L's dad and stepmonster constantly baited me with problems. That was about them. For about 6 years I fell for it and said "I can't do this anymore, I can't play games just to see my daughter" and everyone told me "you can, you have to." Eventually, it dawned on me that they actually needed me, too, because that was how they got every other weekend free. I realized I had power over them. I said "If you ever accuse me of abusing my daughter again, or deny me visitation, I won't come get her ever again and I won't go to court to fight it." It never happened again. husband and I went to a funeral of an old friend, C, this weekend. Thirty years ago she had been married to a man, and then divorced after years of drinking and abuse. He was a drunk and abusive before he married her, and she was going to save him. He showed her his worst side. She eventually divorced him. She felt like she had failed. A couple of years after their divorce, he stopped drinking. He got a job in the field that he had his Masters in, and was eventually a specialist in his field that was called on for especially difficult problems. She couldn't save him. I don't know how he pulled his act together, but it wasn't her and it couldn't happen until she stopped trying. When M was at home, we had international students stay with us for 3 - 4 week periods. It was hard work, but we enjoyed it. After M left home, we decided that we would like to offer our home to students for full school years. We had a young girl, K, from Korea stay with us. She seemed happy to be here and we were happy to have her. At first. In February she got mad at me for asking her to help me clean the house one day. Long story short, she started smoking in her room in her closet, sneaking out of the house, and drinking. There was lots of lying. We tried and tried to help her. We were so worried that she would have trouble attaining her goal and graduating high school and getting into a prestigious American college. It got worse and worse. We tried therapy. A big No No in Korean culture. We tried to engage her, talk with her teachers, etc. All she wanted to do was stay in her room. In June we told her that when school was out she couldn't stay with us anymore. She was thrilled. She lasted in the next home for about 6 weeks. The truth of the matter was she was a kid who was away from home and wanted to be a kid, not graduate high school and get into a prestigious American college. That was her parents dream. It was also her problem, and we couldn't save her. husband and I talked about these things yesterday. husband is learning how important it is that he doesn't cope with everything by withdrawing into his World of Warcraft game - a highly addictive substance, by the way. I'm learning to let things go and not worry and obsess - another highly addictive substance. When we were talking about K, therapist asked if we remembered why we gave up. I told him "She needed help, but I couldn't help her. Maybe we were keeping her from moving on to the person who was able to help her." husband turned to me and said "That's really right on. Like C and her husband. She couldn't help him or save him. It wasn't until he got away from her that he was able to make a better life for himself" - how ever it was that he did it. I don't usually write long notes to you, because lots of people do. You say you understand, and then you do what you would have anyway. The long notes make you feel better, and you actually feel like you know the right thing to do. Then you use that advice to justify what you would have done in any case, because you feel smarter and more able to deal with it. I usually write you short notes, because I think you get muddled up in the reasons people give you, and don't hear the advice. So I write you short notes. Then there are a few people who tell me I'm mean and superior. I'm not superior, and I'm not trying to be mean. I'm just trying to give you advice without letting you get mixed up with the reasons. This time I have given you three reasons, and now I hope you will also listen to the advice. You like "What if" a lot. So I will pose it in the form of "What if?" What if there is someone out there who is the person who will help your son get off of drugs, stay out of jail, and get a job, and he never meets them because you keep trying to save him and keep him from them? You've been doing this drug/violence/theft/jail dance with your son for nearly ten years now. Isn't it time for you to step aside and let the person who can help him have a chance? Maybe you are the one who is killing him because he can't meet the right person, go to the right halfway house, attend the right meeting, because you won't let him go. Without the reasoning, it's pretty harsh. With the reasoning, it makes sense. Go to an Al-Anon meeting today.