Staying detached while tethered....

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by RN0441, May 10, 2016.

  1. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    My son is really aggravating me from sober living (1500 miles away at that!) and I just want it to end. He keeps saying he wants to live on his own because the people in his sober house are all "losers".

    I know that he was a "loser" as he calls it when he left our home for rehab 3 months ago. He is now in sober living and working steady 35 hours per week for 6 weeks and I'm pretty sure the only reason he is sober is because he has so much accountability there. He rolls his eyes at the three days he has to go to IOP meetings and doesn't go to NA or AA meetings. Doesn't like to talk in front of groups due to anxiety he says.
    For the most part, he seems to be doing pretty well, likes his job and gets along okay for his first time at being away from home most days.

    He is 20 and so immature.

    The plan is he will live in the step down sober living house after the house he is in now and go to community college while there. Last fall he was in 2 classes and doing well but on a benzo binge when he was at home so we pulled him out and sent him to rehab. So obviously that is some kind of trigger so we just want him to stay in sober living and go to school and see he can do it sober.

    I told him he has not earned living alone and nor can we afford it.

    He also asks to go live in our (now empty) condo 150 miles away from where he is now until school starts. NO NO NO. That is basically a retirement community. He needs to be with his peers whether he likes them or not, whether he talks to them or not. That condo is for US not him. I told him that. We've worked our whole lives for that little piece of the pie. He stayed there last summer for a few weeks and did nothing. We had hoped he'd get a job so we could let him stay but all he did was stay inside there alone and drink anything he could get his hands on.

    Best case scenario is that he stays in step down one year while in community college and then we can see how he is doing then maybe can make a change to share an apartment off campus.

    I feel him breaking me down. NOT that I'll let him do either of the above but just sucking me back into the codependency. I feel I'm thinking about it all the time now and I just hate it. I am trying to be supportive of his sobriety - we both are but maybe I need to cut conversations or texts off when he goes to places I don't want to go.

    Any words of advice?
  2. Praecepta

    Praecepta Member

    I would have told him a LONG time ago that negative comments are NOT ALLOWED IN THIS HOUSE! Also that rolling his eyes is not allowed in this house! That if he has something positive to say, then he is welcome to talk all he wants.

    Other than that, I DO NOT listen to other people's negative comments. I will walk away from them with their mouth still jabbering. Then they stand there with their mouth hanging open (that I would do that). Or I will hang up the phone if a phone call. Not respond if something written is negative. Etc.

    Anyway I have better things to do in my life than to spend my time having another person run me down. If they have good things to say, I am all ears and will spend all day with them.
  3. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    OK so he is doing some good things... The fact that he is working and keeping his job is a big plus. Sounds like so far he has not relapsed. That is all good. The not liking being in a sober living is not really a big surprise as he is living with others and some of them may not be the easiest to get along with. His not going to meetings is a concern.

    So I think for yourself I would write up something for you to remember and be really clear about your limits... And send it to him. Say this is where we are at and what our requirements are and they are not negotiable.

    Then when he complains I would come up with a standard phrase.... I am sorry you are finding it difficult but it is what we are willing to do right now.

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  4. rebelson

    rebelson Active Member

    Just read your newest thread. Wow, you really COULD feel this coming....:eek:

  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This quote, RN, is helping me understand our situation better.

    My son is benefiting from accountability to us but he has not decided to be accountable to himself, when he makes commitments to us. He makes commitments to us to get things he wants. While we are within sight, he more or less maintains them. When we are out of sight, he does not.

    That he is living better with our help is major. But it is wearing us down. The lying. The manipulating. The shirking.

    But of course his demeanor makes sense. When the cat is away, the mouse will play. He has never bought into what we want, our goals. He is invested in his own. What to do?
    I know. As long as we want things for them, we are vulnerable.
    You know I did this with my son and I believe it had very good results.

    I do not see your son's attitudes and behavior as that troubling. As I said in your other thread, he seems to be acting like the big guy. He prefers to think that the only strength and stable ground he has to stand on is through you guys.

    Of course that is not true. He is demonstrating that he can stand alone and survive. Living and working independently. But he does not want to. That is the key, I think. He seems to prefer living off your dime and calling the shots.

    I think that you need to move way out of it. Let him be. Let him decide when and under what terms to return to college. Let him pay for it. Let him find a place to live and pay for it. Let him be responsible for his sobriety and to earn it. It seems very clear to me looking at your kid, what needs to happen.

    He seems capable and competent. Nothing you say indicates any mental illness. I would back out of the enmeshment, and let him be self-determining. That is what I think.

    Now in my own situation I am less clear because at 27 years old my son has not been able to get a stable living situation. He did hold a job for 15 months but really is not motivated to hold a job anymore. Pushing him out, he will be homeless again. Yet, I asked him to leave by today because he is not conforming to commitments he made to me and to us.

    It seems clearer after writing this. Living with us or on our dime, they need to be accountable to our terms. Living independently, they can be accountable to themselves and for themselves. We need to respect that. With your son, I would keep the boundaries firm.
    Last edited: May 10, 2016
  6. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    I am hesitant to reply, but I have been down this road too many times, so here goes, I hope you don't think some of it is unkind, but I am going to try to be honest.

    Your son isn't "there" yet. He hasn't accepted that he is an addict, which is why he is holding himself in higher esteem than his peers. I think, also, and I'm sorry, but you need to look at your own feelings and behaviors in this. You call his drug use a "binge,' and have justified it based on depression/anxiety diagnosis. I'm not sure that either of you see him as an addict.

    It sounds to me as if he is truly just going through the motions in order to avoid consequences or get the things he wants. It doesn't appear that he has internalized anything, and, truthfully, there is nothing that you can do to facilitate that. That is something that he will have to come to on his own.

    He won't go to AA/NA because he doesn't see himself and an addict and feels he doesn't belong with "those people."
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I also noticed the binge word and wondered what it meant. He sounds like an addict and binging is addictive behavior, although he may always be high on something without your knowing it. Addicts keep secrets well and. No, we can't always tell when they are high. I hate telling you yhis, but I learned from experience, unfortunately.
  8. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Yes yes you are all right. I don't see it as harsh. I'm putting it all out there for discussion.

    The reason why I do see them as binges is because he'll go six months sober but really not moving out of the same place (no job, no friends, etc.) so to me it is binging isn't it?

    I do think he is an addict. He isn't just doing drugs years at a time, all the time with a few days here and there clean like it seems is the I don't know what it's called.

    My son cannot hide when he's using. He steals from us, pulls away and changes immediately. Over the years we KNOW when he is using. He doesn't even try to hide his tracks.

    That's why I thought it's best if I pull away and let his dad handle him. He's not as emotional as I am about it all. He sees things in such a better perspective than I do.
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I found your post, Sister, very helpful.

    I agree with you. My son shows many of the same attitudes as does RN's. He feels superior to other addicts, and does not believe treatment pertains to him.

    It is easy for me to see that RN's son benefits from distance and having to work this out for himself. I believe as long as they stay in the picture, he will use his parents and use them to not take responsibility for himself and his choices.

    It is harder to know about my son who is 27, and who has never demonstrated the capacity to live other than as a couch surfer or homeless. I think he uses marijuana because he has poor judgment. I do not think he is homeless or a coach surfer because he uses marijuana. I think my son is more limited than is RN's.

    Thank you for your post.
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    RN. That is what we have done with my own son. M is handling him most of the time but is burning out.

    You did not ask me but I believe your son has shown that he can handle himself and live independently. I believe that even though your husband is less emotional your son will still try to manage and outdo him. It confuses things.

    Would you be willing to let him be? You have paid for the sober living for a certain period and let him do the rest? Finding an apartment. Going to AA or NA meetings as he chooses. Going to school, if he wants. Working.

    If this making distance is hard for you, why? What about it do you feel is wrong or difficult and why?
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Dads seem to think that it's just a matter of what approach is used, and it's "simple". Except... it isn't. So they burn out, just like we do. OH.
  12. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    Yes we pay for the sober living but he is working and doing his own thing at sober living. Doing just enough to get by which he feels is "doing good" and "that's all he needs" and yes if he doesn't shape up or pretend to (not what we want of course) he will probably be released by them. I have never insisted he go to NA or AA because he didn't feel that was for him and I honestly don't care what he has to do to be sober. I have left that up to the experts.

    After today's call his dad told him we are holding car and school at bay right now. It's an old car but runs and it was to use to get to school. My husband is a lot tougher and less emotional (almost too much at times) than I am (and cheap! LOL) so I feel pretty good leaving the decisions up to him for now.

    My son didn't call me back after he knew I talked to therapist and after he talked to his dad so he knows I'm upset.
  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I agree.
    I agree.
    Well put.
    Yes. I had not looked at it like this. Humanizing isn't it?
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    RN. I did not mean to even imply that you were driving the recovery decisions. i know you are not. What I meant is that there is a next step for you and your son.

    And that is that he emancipate and take responsibility for all of his decisions and maintaining his own welfare. Sometimes our children drive us to places we had not intended to go nor wanted to go. I see your son's situation as this.

    He by his decisions and attitudes seems to be saying I will drive my own car (metaphorically) on my own terms where and when I want. I will use your resources (condo, money) in the way I choose. I will conform on the face of things, but I determine my attitudes and my being. Not you or anybody.

    That I see as your son's current place. Because he has demonstrated he can do all of this independently, sustaining himself, he has in effect emancipated as an adult.

    I do not want to be insensitive or rude but I see you and your husband as wanting to keep the role of parents of a child. While your son has not arrived at the attitudes and taken on the real sense of adult responsibility of an adult, he is walking the walk both in his actions and his attitudes. This is a good thing.

    It seems like you are not accepting this, and still seem to want to drive him in the ways that you want him to go. I feel this because I do it to with my own son. The messiness in our situation is that my son does not see to have the capacity that does your son, and he is older. 27.

    There is writing on the wall. Your son will do what he wants when he wants. You cannot control what he thinks and what he internalizes. You cannot make him commit to recovery or one other thing. He is independent in everything, except that he chooses to want to use you and to take advantage of what you can give him. The thing is, he does not benefit as a person by your allowing yourselves to be manipulated.

    There is a time to give up the active parental role of responsibility over and for somebody....and the illusion of influence. Because that is all that there is. An illusion.

    I have been frank with you. I would appreciate an equally frank and honest appraisal of where you see that I am at. The only way I can learn and change is with feedback.

    It is hard to find the right balance between honesty and support.
    Last edited: May 10, 2016
  15. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    I don't mean to be unkind, really. This is a situation that I am familiar with, and I am also in groups that will call out behavior. Sometimes it seems harsh, but sometimes we need our eyes opened.

    RN, honestly, I wouldn't call it "binges" I would call it "relapses."

    I have seen this attitude a lot with addicts and families of addicts where they feel that they aren't "really" addicts because they use prescription medications, not street drugs, or because they haven't had the legal complications many of our addicts have.

    This is a discussion I have with my sister. It's about her kids. I have told her, and my line in the sand is very firm, that she cannot have any contact with the kids unless she is sober, and since I am NA hardass by sober I don't mean not just using, that isn't sobriety, but actively sober as in clean and actively involved in her recovery for at least a year.

    I think, and I am sorry, but I think that you need support also. I think al-anon or Nar-anon is a good place to start. I also think that you need to get very tough. I know I have said this before, but I would sell the car. Use it to recoup some of the funds you have laid out. Having that car will cause nothing but problems, believe me. Not to mention, Dog forbid, he use it under the influence and your name is on the title.

    I also think that offering to pay for any type of housing other than sober living is a mistake. If he wants to live on his own let him pay for it.

    I'm on the fence about school.

    Maybe having a firm set of "rules" with a timeline is what you need to do, such as what you absolutely will or won't pay for and what level of sobriety has to be met in order to achieve that. Like I would say, "If you maintain a job and stay clean for a year we will pay for 2 community college classes a semester, but you have to pass them with C or better." or some such thing that works for you.

    I think that you also need to be firm about consequences of relapse or leaving the program or not committing to the program.
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  16. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Copa and Sisters:

    Kind of responding to both posts because they are somewhat entwined and in no particular order.

    I agree - we only will pay for sober living period. And we have never implied to him that we'd pay for anything else. We did think we could reevaluate after one year to see where he is mentally/emotionally.

    I feel that we would pay for one semester of community college while he is in sober living IF we feel that is the right thing to do in another 2 months or around the time he needs to enroll. Hoping that by him being in sober living he will have the accountability needed to SEE he can do it sober like he sees he can do work sober. Of course if this is not successful we are back at square one. But then at least we'll know.

    He has a 504 Plan for his anxiety. He has an above average IQ I was told during testing; so no serious mental health issues but obviously something is wrong and maybe it's just addiction. He's not off the charts smart or anything.

    Sisters they were relapses. I'll agree with you on that. My mother was a binge drinker so that is kind of where I got that word I guess. She was an alcoholic but did it in binges.

    I guess the reason why we are handling him the way we are while there is because this is our first go at this and we are doing the best we can/what we think is the right thing. Everyone says be supportive of their sobriety and he is sober for a little over 3 months and doing better than he has in five years. That said there are things he could be doing better at as previously stated. I am not thinking he is doing this to piss us off but maybe he thinks he IS doing what we want and/or doesn't understand how to do what we want. I don't know.

    I don't really see him as independent because we are paying for his housing. To me independence is us not giving him any funding but only emotional support. He is very sly and manipulative. He is pushing buttons to see "what door may open" with us but so far no doors are opening. It was a wake up call for me when he told his therapist "my parents will figure it out". It's like he's throwing :censored2: on the wall to see what sticks.

    I truly appreciate your honesty and support. I am trying to figure this all out.
  17. rebelson

    rebelson Active Member

    I don't think that your terms were crazy unattainable or over the top, at all. He seems to be slowly defaulting on the requirements that you set for him (2 that you've mentioned, college course, mj).

    They bite themselves in the butt! Son had it made with us. He broke our FEW rules over & over. We made him go.

    Then, he REALLY had it made with his paternal Grammy. He broke HER (very) few rules over & over. She made him go.

    They must learn how to do this on their own, then. Your son had a very good opportunity with your rental offer.

    It seems he is in a power struggle with you & he's not ready to give in, yet.
  18. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    We should make signs and protest: We deserve new kids, we deserve new kids, we deserve new kids!

    Wouldn't we make some over the top parents to some great kids! :roflmao:
  19. rebelson

    rebelson Active Member


    I don't know if you meant this, but I don't think that IQ and mental health rule each other out. In fact, many ppl whom are BRILLIANT, with an off the chart IQ, have one or multiple mental health diagnoses.

    Many homeless ppl have off the chart high IQ's. And a mental health diagnosis.

    I'm so sry you're going through this.
  20. Roxona

    Roxona Active Member

    RN, your son and mine are one in the same, except in some ways I wish he was in living sober and not at home! J doesn't like NA because he doesn't want to listen to all the "losers" beat a dead horse about their "sorry lives". ...Yet, that is exactly what I get to hear on an almost daily basis here with him at home. The negativity is so thick you can cut it with a knife. I do exactly was Praecepta does...I listen for five minutes, offer my sympathies, tell him I love him and I hope he has a better day, and walk away...or tell him I need to get into the shower or I need to run some errands. If I don't, I'll get sucked into hours and hours of nonstop negative nonsense and then spend the rest of the day stewing in my son's misery.

    My advice is simple (well at least for me)...stand by your boundaries and limit your contact with him. If he starts off on a negative tangent, tell him you will talk to him later when he is feeling more positive.