Tiptoeing to a new place with difficult child

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I'm taking difficult child to lunch today. difficult child has been respectful. He has been working doing food delivery for a take out shop (we'll see if he still has that job..they usual only last a few weeks).He has not been calling as frequently, and not late at night. I asked him to call me yestarday to confirm today...and he did, and then got off the phone because he knew I was at work.

    All this makes me feel...wow, he is trying! he is doing great!!! which says a lot about perspective, huh? and it says a lot about how muddled I am. I don't want to get sucked into the old habit of smiling and saying "thats great!" when he says he has somewhere (yucky) to stay, and a (below minimum wage short term part time) job, and plans to go back to school, or move to another city, or start a band...but if I don't say what I always said...what do I say? And there is the white elephant of two stints in jail, retail theft, property damage, skipped court dates...total disrespect for our society and our courts...huh. How do we order dessert with that space between us?

    He still essentially lives on the street. He still chooses unstable and drug addicted or using people to hang out with. He still has no plan or desire for self improvement....how do I have lunch with some one like that, who I happen to love, to have a connection with? What is there to say?

    But if I choose those things as topics (poor choices of friends, failure at life, ethical and legal chaos..) well..we all know that that is pointless, a waste of breathe..why have lunch at all?

    I loved Child's car-talk with her son. I'm going to go back and find that post, and try to channel it. I want to be lovingly detached..to radically accept..I want to keep that dumb smile off my face, but also keep some sort of connection between me and my oldest son.

  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Echolette, you have been speaking truth to your son for some time, now.

    He is listening, Echo.

    I have become aware just lately of how I became the kind of mom I am. I stopped telling my kids true things about themselves (or about who I really was) when everything went so wrong.

    Rather than honesty, I chose hope. Chose belief. Chose faith and persistence and positivity.

    But I watched them like hawks, Echo.

    Beneath it all, I so resented who they were, what they had done to my children.

    It hasn't been until just lately that I am figuring out that my children are their own. Not mine. When I am not honest enough to say what I see and what I think about that ~ when I find the bright spot and babble on about that ~ what kind of guidance is that from your own mother? Not good, that's what.
    You are being honest with your son about how you feel about what he does. He is learning to respect you for the person you are. Not just his mom, that person who loves him no matter what. Not just his mom, who defends him even when he is going a wrong way and he knows it.

    This path of detachment, which I leaped at because it was the one thing I had not done yet, is working. It's working for us, and it seems to be helping our kids too, to see something real. They will be angry, they will feel betrayed...but then, it seems like they are beginning to stand up, Echo.

    Nothing else we have done has helped them (or us). I feel so much cleaner when I am not patronizing my kids or fooling myself. If I am a force to be reckoned with instead of a soft place to land...it's beginning to look like they contend with the force and, in standing against it, develop the strength they need to fight for their own lives.

    That is what I think I have been seeing, lately.

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think the best thing to do is to forget about what your son has done in the past or perhaps will do in the future when you are with him. (And hope he didn't come by to get $20 too!). If he is really there just to have a meal with you, I'd try to focus on the NOW and enjoy rather superficial conversation and keep it pleasant. You can't make him get his life together, but you don't have to resent it either. I had to learn this one and it wasn't easy, but when my grown kids do things I don't approve of, I have learned to let go of it. It's not my business and arguing over it won't change anything and for myself being resentful hurts one person...me.

    I would radically accept that this is who your son is in this moment of time and just relax. Letting your mind wander to negative times won't change what happened and can interfere with your current situation (lunch with son) and your own mental health. I am trying very hard at this time to practical "wise mind" and "mindfulness" which you may want to look up on the internet. It is very much about living in the moment and being able to see reality for what it is without passing judgment. This is important in dealing with our difficult children. It's a helpful skill that helps you maintain a difficult relationship with somebody who has disappointed you...and not fume over it. On top of that, it allows you the freedom of mind to let the dinner pass once it is over and to get on with your own life. Here is a good article on Radical Acceptance. If you want to learn about it, you can click on the link :)


    I hope I sounded coherent...lol.

    Disclaimer: Everything I say are my own thoughts and ideas and nobody has to agree with me. They are not attempts to tell you what to do, but just musings.
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  4. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    So we had lunch together. As I had asked, he called me yestarday to confirm. As I had asked, he was waiting for me in a public lobby space near by office.

    I read Child's post of her conversation with her son in the car..and I could see that she mostly just listened, didn't ask questions, didn't talk much.

    She left after 10 minutes, though, and I knew I had an hour.

    But I tried that tack any way...the one I use with his twin sister so easily...the one where I let them talk about who they are, and just prompt them along.

    It isn't as easy with him.

    He is still working as a delivery boy. He had the same job last fall but quit...I asked about that and he said he had never gotten a day off, and that he was shaping up that way again, but that he had brought in a friend and they had agreed to hire the friend as well so he wouldn't have to work every day...thus today off (if this is true).

    He said he is happier there because he used to sit around waiting for deliveries, but now he fills the time with restocking and cleaning up and doing dishes. He said that the owners appreciate that and that feels good. He says he is happier now that he is working.

    He talked about his SSI, about having lost his ID, about having lost his foodstamps and having to reapply. He said he was going to try to get into Covenant House (which I thought was for under 18 but he said no...and, for something new and different, I didn't argue). He talked about his living situation under the bridge. I asked about a few of his more dubious friends, including his recent ex girlfriend, last seen when she physically attacked him from behind while he was on the street...I asked about his dog, who he had put in a shelter. (the dog has since been adopted, or so difficult child tells me).

    He said he feels better, that the job makes him feel like he has possibilities. I said I was never really sure how he felt, and didn't know that he felt bad before. We talked about whether he likes to spend time with "us" meaning family, and he said yes, as long as he isn't being yelled at and AS LONG AS HE IS DOING WELL.

    In the end I told him that I am always available to help him when he is in a place of helping himself. I said I knew he could figure it out. He asked how he seemed to me, if he seemed to be doing better...I said that he seemed clearer in the head. And I said "you have told me often before about plans that you didn't follow through with, so I don't get too excited about plans. I want to be hopeful but I don't want to be stupid. But your thinking is good, and I'm glad you have a job.

    I'm exhausted.

    It took so much focus to not criticize, bring up the past, or make helpful suggestions. At times it took a lot to not throw open the mommy doors and offer him money food, clothes, and a long weekend with us (we are going to the mountains). I didn't do any of those things.

    I think it felt good to him. It felt hard, sad, but right to me.

    So that is where we are. Detaching with love. Radical accepantance. Effortful relationships. I don't know what all else, but I know for sure you all helped me get here.

  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    You did great echo! I will write more later. Go take a big long delicious nap. You earned it! Hugs and blessings and clear skies with sunshine in those mountains as you head there today...
  6. Echo, i second what COM said, you did a great job. Your son seems like he is craving your approval and acceptance. What he said about being yelled at reminds me of what my difficult child often says. That i don't commend him when he does something good and that all i do is yell - which is not true.

    I understand the sorrow and sadness that you feel when you think about the wasted family opportunities that your difficult child is missing. Before my son went to jail, i was planning a family vacation for him and me for march so you can see how that turned out. But your son seem to be making some small positive changes and i am glad you two had a pleasant time echo.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You did a wonderful job ECHO. And, I know it was hard on you. Yes, take a nap, it is exhausting to stop the runaway train of our mothering/enabling and begin building a new way. You made an astounding effort for a long time......pat yourself on the back and celebrate this win. Rest. Sending warm, caring thoughts with a big ATTAGIRL!
  8. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I love this. I find the bright spot and babble on about a lot of things...I'm doing it right now with SO...but seeing it and knowing it I can shut it down faster, see it as false...yes, I"m sure it was confusing to the kids growing up...they must have thought I was dim witted sometimes! And then later confusing to their sense of self.

    that is always sad for me. My son has missed a lot..he is missing in pictures of so many family events, even from when they were all in high school and middle school. Just today I told him about an upcoming trip that every one but he will be on..all three of his siblings including his twin , SO, his daughter and sister...a big memory making trip. When difficult child was living with me briefly in the fall after a stint in jail I thought...gosh, maybe I should be planning to include him...but then he packed his bags at 10 pm one night and left, and then he was in jail, and then he was avoiding me and I was detaching from him...and here we are. Another family event lost to him, lost to me. He seemed a little chastened, a little sorry, especially when he heard his twin would be there...but I think he understood. I did tell him about the decision process in the fall...it is just sad.

    MWM, he didn't ask for anything ! :)

  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I am so glad your lunch with him went well, Echo! I just love it when I see my kids. I love the smell and the feel of them, and it makes me so happy. He sounds like he is doing pretty well. Working, doing more than asked, enjoying keeping busy.

    It must have felt so good to see him.


    It's funny how we come to care about the kids on this site. I had to go back and check to see how old this son of yours is.

    I am really happy this lunch happened.

  10. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Echo, I am glad your lunch went well and I have learned so much from your example and the posts here. Your difficult child and my difficult child sound a lot alike.
  11. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    They are our babies no matter how old they are and no matter their circumstances. Hugs for your mommy heart.
  12. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member

    You are so strong. I agree, give yourself a pat on the back. And a hug from me :)