10 months later...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LostInTheValley, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. LostInTheValley

    LostInTheValley New Member

    Hi. I found this forum while googling “I kicked my son out.” The comments I’ve seen on other threads were so helpful that I decided to join.

    Here we go:

    My wife and I started fostering a 13-year old when we were both very young (only 9 years apart). He lived with us, and our biological son, for 7 years. He is now 21.

    Things were always difficult with him: explosive and violent behaviors, doing poorly in school, inappropriate behavior with girls. But he and I managed to forge a strong connection. Looking back, I was/am co-dependent.

    I’m not going to list the sacrifices we made for him, but there were a lot. That never mattered to him; all he ever wanted was to find a girl who “loves him unconditionally.”

    Things came to a head about one year ago. He wasn’t going to school, wasn’t working, but did want to come home at 4 am on the weekends after spending the night at his girlfriend’s house (whom he had been dating for 1 month). He was too tired to do anything else except that. I told him that his room would be going to the new baby and that he could sleep in the living room. Later that night, as he was trying to break into his old room, he broke the knob, leaving the baby in a locked room.

    Long story short, we told him he couldn’t live at home anymore. He moved in with his girlfriend’s parents, where he’s living for free, eating for free, and is using their extra car for free. I hear from him every so often. One of the first times, after about 4 months, he emailed me to say that I was right and that I knew him best. I jumped on that email like I had found a pot of gold! But after the crisis was dealt with (the girl apparently had temporarily broken up with him), he stopped being responsive again.

    Most recently, I reached out after not hearing from him since Father’s Day. He basically said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to see me (after we had seen each other on and off in the past year). I responded by saying that I will stay out of his way until I hear from him—and that I wish him the very best.

    I feel like an idiot. Why do I keep trying to reach out to him? The people he’s with now must be doing a good job since he has kept this job for more than 4 months. And he’s obviously secure enough in their relationship that he feels he doesn’t need me.

    I should be happy that I don’t have to deal with him. And much of the time I am. But it’s punctuated by these feelings of...guilt and jealousy. But then I get mad at myself: I don’t want his life, and I certainly don’t want the lives of the people who are enabling him now!

    My wife is incredibly supportive and my little kids are wonderful. I just want to enjoy them without having that other person in the back of my head.

    I’m sure this doesn’t make sense, but thank you for the ear : )
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Welcome, LostintheValley.

    I am confused here. Why are you insulting yourself as "codependent?" To forge a strong connection, to love deeply and forever, how is that a wrong or bad thing?

    And clearly your "son" feels your attachment to him, and relies on it, regardless of where he is or with whom. That attachment may be the ground on which he stands.
    Your boy like many of us has had attachment wounds. You don't describe why he was without a family at age 13. You also don't describe why somebody so young would be motivated to take on such a responsibility as did you and your wife.

    I comment upon this because I adopted a baby who was 22 months who had been abandoned at 2 weeks, and until I found him, raised in a crisis nursery, with no stable attachment figure. I believe I saw myself in him, because of early trauma I had faced as an infant and child. I believe we seek out children and partners to heal, even if we do not realize in fact that we are wounded. We do so subconsciously.

    I fell apart when my son began to push away from me, when to become independent, even rejecting of me, was entirely developmentally appropriate. The most normal thing in the world is trying to branch out into the world to make new independent connections, to find somebody to love and be loved. It is not a rejection of us. Rather, it signifies that we were successful in helping our children to be strong and whole enough to establish themselves independently both emotionally and socially. That your son can do this was due to you and to your wife.

    I believe he will be back. But that is not the essentially important thing I want to say. Are there ways that you need to heal, or seek to heal? Pain is a very powerful teacher. Is this pain you feel, a signal that there is something in your history, in yourself, that needs revisiting?

    I ask because I am asking the same questions of myself. So much of what has caused me distress with my son, has stemmed not from what he did or did not do (and perhaps could not have done) but from pain and limits I have carried for a lifetime. Which I need to heal. Having not a thing in the world to do with my child.

    Take care. Welcome to the forum. I hope you continue to post. It really, really helps.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  3. LostInTheValley

    LostInTheValley New Member

    Thank you, copabanana. I think you’re asking some really good questions; I just don’t know the answer. I can’t remember anything particularly traumatic from my childhood. My parents are still together, and we have a good relationship. I just thought fostering this boy was the right thing to do.

    His background is more complicated: abusive stepdad, alcoholic mother, and much more.

    I read the detachment article at the top of this forum, and it was uncanny: I say so many of those things to myself. I need to let go. Like you said, he needs to live his life.
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  4. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    I have an adopted son who I also adopted when he was 13. It was a long haul and still is because of the abuse and neglect he suffered throughout his life. Likely the same thing is going on with your foster son, which is why he's so desperate to find a girl to love him unconditionally. That trauma never really goes away and I know my son avoids dealing with it like the plague. I also wanted to mention that he's likely "behaving" for his girlfriend's family because he is insecure with them. He knows you will love him no matter what. He is unsure where he stands with these people so he is using all his energy to try and impress them and make them accept him. I would suggest you pull back and let him figure things out. Try and turn your focus on yourself and do things that make you happy. When you have some space from him it's easier to be more objective and see the relationship more clearly. Also, when you are able to be more relaxed about your relationship with him it makes communication easier and things will settle down. I have taken several communication breaks from my daughter and they have really helped. It doesn't have to be forever. Sending you peace.
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  5. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...


    A lot of us struggle with the FOG “fear obligation and guilt”. As parents we tend to second guess if we’ve made the right decisions but I will agree with Copa that it sounds like you’ve done some things right here raising your son.

    I find that we don’t always have the quick answers right away but this forum allows us the ability to work through and have others share their experience wisdom and strength and sometimes “often times” for myself gives me a lot to work on because I can see from their postings that they’re at a healthier place than me and makes me aspire to get there too.

    Keep posting and again... Welcome
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  6. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    Hey Welcome.

    Maybe you're getting co-dependancy and detachment blurred up a little bit, as it sounds like some of the detachment pieces resonated for you?

    I know I struggled, like you, with my mind always being on my Difficult Child (Difficult Child), when I should be enjoying my other children. I needed to allow myself to let go of that... kind of rewire my brain and force it at times. I still have a hard time with that and my Difficult Child is almost 30 years old now. I wasn't able to achieve 100% success, but I really worked hard to peel my thoughts away from what she was doing, how she was feeling, etc. and enjoy my other kids as much as I could. It was hard. Part of it was that guilt that someone else mentioned. Part of it was normal (my daughter has done some scary stuff), and part of it was habit (it became so normal to be on pins and needles).

    Please try to find a way to be present and enjoy the time with the rest of your family. Time slips by fast.
  7. LostInTheValley

    LostInTheValley New Member

    Thank you, all. I really appreciate your responses. Most of all, it makes me feel less alone. And less like a screw-up. You’re all so strong that it gives me hope. Even though it’s a daily struggle, I can do it.

    I do think I’ve conflated co-dependence and the precursor to detachment. The detachment article was very “me,” and so I had assumed that meant I was co-dependent. Nomenclature aside, I was very enmeshed with my son’s life, and that wasn’t healthy.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever see or hear from him again. But that’s okay. I wish him the best, and I’m still able to live a happy and productive life despite the uncertainty. My “weakness” in that I worry about him just makes me...a decent human.

    It’s good to know that I’m not alone.
  8. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    You did nothing wrong.

    By age 13 a person's inner values and personally are basically formed and hard to change. You didn't have him for the formative years and he may have serious bonding issues too. None of this happened on your watch. So you can grieve, but please don't feel guilty. Much happened to him way before you knew him.

    Prayers for you and him.
  9. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Something I read recently... " We are addicted to certainty. We would rather be certain we are miserable than risk being happy and satisfied."

    Sometimes, for myself I borrow worrying and fret because that's what is familiar to me. It's a lot of work to change that mindset and realize that I am not responsible for my adult sons any longer. I often ask myself, "how will they have a happy life if I'm not in the middle of it making all their decisions and picking them up when they screw up?" The truth is I don't have (nor do I want any longer) the control over their lives and I never did.

    Making changes for ourselves is scary and uncomfortable at times. It feels easier just staying in our worry and misery. But the truth is that once we step out of our "comfort zone" we realize it wasn't really very comfortable after all and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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  10. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Prayers. It is heartbreaking when those we love decide to live in a way that is destructive to themselves and the people who love them.