Tired of acting, tired of perfect family.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by I don't know, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. I don't know

    I don't know New Member

    I am new to posting but have been reading on this forum for a couple weeks. Or has it been months? I don't know. Since my sister's death in 2012, time stands still some days.
    I have a 29 year old son who has mental illness and learning disabilities. To look at him, you wouldn't know. He managed to buy his own house at 21, even though I tried to talk to the greedy realtor, who told me to bud out. Two years later his house was in foreclosure after he went to jail and lost his job. Since then, he's been to jail numerous times on probation violations. He owes the courts, fines, credit cards etc. He works through temp services until they do background checks and fire him.
    I am tired. Tired of laying awake at night worrying if he is going to be homeless or in jail. Or worse, kill himself. I am tired of being around my perfect family, with their perfect kids. I have a niece who is a nurse at a jail and my son is going to jail! My parents arent judgemental but the rest of my family is. I was the black sheep of the family. Pregnant and not married. They all have good jobs or at least married someone with a good job. I didn't even finish high school. I am an alcoholic, sober for over 20 years, so I should know better than to enable right?
    I have to go to a family reunion this weekend, after my son just told me he is skipping out on probation and heading to Vegas with his dog. He will NOT give up his dog. Said if the car didn't make it, he would make a sign and live under a bridge. He is tired of trying as he put it. A credit card company is garnishing his wages, so he couldn't afford rent on his apartment. I know he'll do it. He went to Florida a couple years ago. He knows he can't live with me. We have let him come home numerous times. He refuses to get on medication and he was caught banging his head up against the wall to "try to knock himself out" because he couldn't sleep the last time he was staying with us.
    I used to hear moms in recovery talking about being enablers to their older kids and I never thought I would be one of them! Why am I so sick?! My own mother watched me walk out the door at 18 and she did no enabling. Went on with her life. Recently she said it was hard but she knew she had no control. I just don't know how to be happy anymore and acting like my heart isn't breaking.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome I don't know. Your story is very much like all of our stories. You are not sick, you are trying to help an adult who does not want to change. Your position is powerless. Stop comparing yourself to your family, The fact that you stopped drinking 20 years ago speaks volumes about your commitment to yourself, your courage, your tenacity, your strength and your character. Stop beating yourself up!

    What we all require around here is truckloads of support. This landscape you're on is treacherous and devastating. Get yourself to an al anon meeting, or a CoDa meeting, or Families anonymous, or private therapy, or NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (you can access them online and they have chapters in many places........they have excellent courses and support for parents) Get some support immediately, so you can begin to detach from your sons choices and start to focus on YOU. You deserve to be happy and to feel peace and joy, you do not deserve to be miserable because of what your son does or doesn't do. The way you can make the leap out of where you are to where you want to be, is by getting support.

    You may want to read the article at the bottom of my post here on detachment. You may want to buy the book, Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie. There is a lot of support for you here and in your life, you just have to look for it and accept it.

    When you're at the family reunion, have a good time. If anyone asks how your son is, simply say, "he's still struggling." That usually makes people stop going any further. Or say, " I prefer not to talk about that now." You have the power to change your perceptions of your role with your son and you don't have to justify it to anyone else. Comparing ourselves to others only causes suffering, whether we come up better or worse, so don't do that to yourself.

    You are very hard on yourself. It's tough not to blame ourselves, but this is not your fault. Your son is a grown man and if he has issues only he can heal them, you can't. The best thing you can do for both of you is to focus all your energies on yourself now, get support, do nurturing, nourishing things for yourself. Make yourself your priority. You have probably never done that, have you? You are the most important person in your universe, your son is in his universe.

    Oh, black sheep in families usually end up being the most interesting people to know. Often they turn into eccentrics, the MOST interesting people. So accept yourself, accept the choices you made in life, they've made you who you are today. Each step along the way was fertile ground for learning and growing...........and now you're here, with us. Welcome. We're a bruised and battered bunch, but we are very loyal to each other..........keep posting it helps. I'm glad you're here.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
  3. I don't know

    I don't know New Member

    Thank you for replying. I need to print the article and hang it right next to my bed. My sponsor, my husband, even my dsd who is a man of few words, tell me that my son's problems aren't my fault. The school psychiatrists sure knew how to blame the parents though!
    I have been doing some reading on this forum. Not sure where but it was asked, what is one thing you were doing to take care of yourself, that you're not doing now? I had quit going to meetings before my sister died. When I read that, it was like my sister was sending me a message that it was time to go back. She shared the black sheep clothing with me...lol. I have been going now for a little over a month. It helps.
    I am going to say what I have said before to family members who ask about my son...if they want to know how he is doing, they should call and ask him.That will end any dicussions! Of course, I perceive things are going to be worse than they end up being. If I go into the reunion seeing what I can add to the day, I am ok. It's just a struggle sometimes to get there. Especially after a day like today.
  4. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    I don't know,
    Welcome! So sorry for the circumstances, but glad you're here. I share the feelings you do about perfect families. I am an overachiever by nature, but my kids are challenging, and everyone else in the family gets to feel proud of their easy, neuro-typical, well behaved children. I feel sorry for myself a lot. But I'm getting better at limiting indulging in those thoughts and gently disciplining myself to focus more on what I can be thankful for.

    It sounds like you have been steeped in the challenges of coping with your son's mental health and behaviors for a long time. Others who have not experienced this unique difficulty cannot possibly comprehend the depth and life-altering nature of this situation.

    I am sad to hear about your son's troubles, and I can't help but think that our mental health system is failing on so many levels. He needs help and treatment that he seems incapable of managing on his own, given his learning disabilities. It's heartbreaking. Yet, you have obviously done everything you can, and it is up to him to at least reach out and be receptive to the help he needs.

    As for you, in my humble opinion, you should go to the reunion and hold your head high. Treat yourself to a new outfit, and focus on the people in your family that support you. Value yourself as a unique person with many gifts and talents. Remember that other families often seem to be perfect when in fact they are far from it. Even when families are blessed with great kids, they really can't take credit for that any more than you should feel responsible for your son's mental health and disability issues. They are fortunate and should be thankful though.

    One good thing that you have probably gained from your experience with this is a whole lot of compassion and empathy for others. You have the capacity and deeper sensitivity now to the struggles of others, having experienced your own trials. As you move your focus away from the things you can't control, like your son's choices, to the things you can control, like your choices, maybe you can invest yourself in something that gives you purpose and brings healing. You could volunteer or get involved in an activity or hobby that matters to you.

    Again, welcome! You will find an amazingly terrific group of people here 24/7 who care and listen any time. Please keep posting and let us know how it goes.
  5. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I met a friend yesterday, one of those people with perfect kids. Her son is the same age as mine (27). He's married with 3 kids and has a job as a bus driver that he's had since he was 18. She has always said that he's never caused her any worry or any bother, is a great father, always supported his family and kept a decent home.

    Yesterday she told me that actually he's "got no spark", that she thinks he's miserable and bored, that she wishes he had done something more dynamic with his life and not got married young and had 3 kids etc.

    Whatever else I can say about my son, I could never call him "boring" or say that he "has no spark". Often these family members and other people who have apparently perfect lives, are not all they're made out to be. Don't compare yourself with them. Accept your children for who they are and let go. Find happiness in what is.

    I know it's hard to do this and hard to start looking after yourself, but if you join our group here and keep reading and posting you will find a way to see things differently. We all started out feeling like you do now. I certainly did! My son has been on TV lately, involved in violent scuffles for something he believes in. He looked like someone you might cross the street to avoid. I actually felt strangely proud of him for the first time for ages. Most people who know me in a professional capacity would be totally shocked and disbelieving that this angry hippy is my son. I found that thought quite amusing.
  6. I don't know

    I don't know New Member

    You are all very kind with amazing strength. My son is definitely not boring either. My parents love that he is the only grandchild who will go to their house and talk to them. He has a sensitive side but this side also gets him in trouble. He is a grown man and I hate that I have always put a band aid of financial support and blinders on. I have feared this day for a long time. My son, homeless. Truely homeless. Where he has no ones sofa to sleep on, no money for a motel.
    I have always fed the hungry. I guess because in the back of my mind, I knew my own son could become homeless one day and need a meal or a special dessert to pick him up, if only for a moment.
    He just texted me and told me to have a good time and not think about him because he was staying in the apartment until they kick him out. YES, insanity.
    I want so badly for my outside to match the inside. Outwardly, I manage. I have moments of happiness when I feel blessed to even be walking on this earth. Some of the postings I see on here, my mom could have been the one writing them about me. I should have been dead with the choices I made in my 20s.
    I want to be like my parents. I never thought I would say that!
  7. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I don't know, when I first posted here somebody pointed out that this hellish journey actually makes us better people, and I thought they were crazy.

    The thing is, you don't have to pretend that your heart is not broken. As others would say, lean into it. Acknowledge it, and feel it. You can handle it. Because the first thing that popped into my head when I read your post is, "This is a very strong person." Your mom is right (as moms usually are :calm:). It IS hard. You have NO control. Accept it for what it is. And go from there.

    You have the clarity of seeing your own situation for what it is. You don't have the clarity of seeing others' situations, those that look so "perfect" from our point of view. Believe me, they aren't, despite how resentful I feel when others complain about their children and I bitterly think, "Wanna trade?!" There is no point in comparing your situation to theirs. If they are lucky, they will never have to know the things you know. But if they do, they will be looking to you for strength.
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  8. Childofmine

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

    Welcome I don't know----

    How would you know?

    That don't teach that in AA---in Al-Anon we have a lot of "double winners", as they call themselves. They say they find a peace in Al-Anon that they have never known before.

    Please start going to Al-Anon---it's usually right across the hall...so please go. Go to at least six meetings. I believe you will find so much help and support there.

    I have asked my ex-husband---he is in AA---to go to Al-Anon about our son. For so long, he enabled our son, way after I finally stopped (as much as anybody does stop). He couldn't see it because he said on AA helps another AA, and he couldn't see the difference between helping and enabling. Also he had a lot of guilt about being an alcoholic and his son being a drug addict.

    I have supported my ex-husband in stopping enabling as much as I possibly can. To my knowledge, he hasn't gone to Al-Anon and that is okay. That's his decision. He knows it's there.

    But I have also told him that addiction is on BOTH sides of our family. By the grace of God, I'm not an addict or an alcoholic. My grandmother abused prescription drugs and my brother is an active alcoholic today.

    So, hey it's everywhere. There is no point in beating ourselves up over this. It's a DNA, biochemical, brain chemistry thing. It's something nobody wants but some people have to deal with.

    It's what we DO with the problems and issues we have, not that we have them in the first place.

    I am SO glad you are going back to AA---for you. Congratulations for reaching out for help. We all need help, every single one of us.

    Of course you are. It is completely debilitating and exhausting to deal with someone we love so much who is destroying their lives. We can't do it. We have to have help. It is awful to watch.

    Start taking care of YOU. This is a must. You already know this, so start doing it. Small things. Then larger things. Spend time on YOU every single day. You are worth it. It's the 51% rule. You are 1% more important than your son, at least. Start living that way.

    Absolutely! You are not his go-between. He is a grown man. If they have questions, call him. Leave you out of the mix.

    Yes, I used to think there were perfect families and mine was one of them. We did it all by the book, at least on the surface. a full and fun High school life, college grads, great professional jobs, 2 kids, bought our homes, saved our money, progressed in our jobs, went to church every Sunday, volunteered at community organizations, got recognition publicly. All the while my husband was drinking secretly. He was depressed. I became a control freak. I was miserable. He was miserable. We separated and divorced. The perfect family was no more. Then my son started using drugs. More decline for all of us.

    You know what, I don't know---there is no such thing as perfect. We all do the best we can with the situations we are faced with. That is all we CAN do. We have to have a Higher Power---we have to let go---we have to let God. We are powerless but we are not helpless.

    Hold your head up high. You are doing very hard things. You have done them. You are going to be just fine. You need to start valuing YOU. That needs to be your second full time job. Compassion for yourself will turn into compassion for other people, like your son. The work is worth it. believe me, It's worth it.

    I know. Today my 24 (almost 25 in two weeks) year old son is homeless again. It's very sad. It's very hard. It is what it is. He is going to have to inch by inch do the hard work if it is to be done. I can't do it for him.

    He is right. Have a good time. He will have to deal with the consequences of his own decisions and choices.

    Let him go, I don't know. Let him go. You are the new star of your life---you. You deserve it. Pour everything you have into YOU.

    Warm hugs and keep coming back.
  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Welcome, I don't know.


  10. I don't know

    I don't know New Member

    The song Let it Go from Frozen has been in my head today!
    I went to the reunion and then spent 2 days with family.
    The night before leaving, my son called and asked to borrow 20.00. He miraculously (sarcasm) paid his rent with the help of a friend but had no money for gas or lunch at work. I gave it to him. Justified it by telling myself I didn't pay his rent.
    Anyway...I had a good day with my aunts, uncles and cousins. I learned that most families aren't perfect. Just my one sister's family. My other sister also compares herself to them and we both know it's unhealthy! There were a lot of family member's absent from the reunion. My cousin said to me You know our kids, we cant force them....lol.
    Do you all ever feel better when you are far away from your kids? I did! Hate to say that but this is the second time I have been out of town for a couple days and didn't think about his insanity.
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  11. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hi I don't know, I'm glad you had a good day and learned that "most families aren't perfect"! It's good to know that you have more in common with the rest of your family than you thought, and it's just the one sister that makes you feel bad about your life. I've given my son a 20 in the past and then felt terrible that I've gone back on my plan to not give him any money - but what's a 20 between mother and son? Compared with the amount of money I used to pay, for his rent, bills, desperate time before payday, etc, a 20 is nothing. You don't have to justify yourself. You know it's not like it was before.
    Yes sometimes I feel better when I'm away and he's not in my head so much. But I'm fine with seeing him and we can get on with each other, and he can come and stay for a few days as long as he has a wash and doesn't smell too awful and as long as his visits don't become a tiring tirade of political ranting.
  12. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Win, I don't know! So glad you got to enjoy a good day with a little breathing space.