Well-Known Member
As the weeks go by, I realize that I'm not really detached...I harbor a hope, nay, a belief, that difficult child will finally GET IT if I can just find the right key, and I was laboring under the delusion that losing me (by going no contact) would surely be it....

Stop harboring hopes of change Echo. Stop believing things about difficult child.

I did see him around the corner the other day...I was on my cell phone, and I saw him turn, walk back, and look at me....I turned away, kept talking, although I lost my train of thought completely, of course. When I turned back he was gone.

Lately my younger two PCs have been running into him more, and they report it with something like horror...along the lines of "mom, I was THIS CLOSE to difficult child on Halloween". Last night they said that they passed him (this close! again) on a street corner, and that he didn't acknowledge them, and they didn't acknowledge him.

How awful is that? I didn't mean to spread hate...if that is what is happening...I meant only to withdraw from the hurtful meaninglessness of our interactions, that were threatening my happiness, or wholeness.

I don't really know if or how to end the no contact. He is clearly the same..on the street, dirty, stringy hair, very skinny. To what end would I open contact? He'll tell me he is applying for jobs, that he is clean, that he is staying with friends who care about him and are helping him stay clean, that he plans to see a case worker, that he wants to restart his medications...all the empty empty empty that he has been saying for three plus years. He either will or won't say that it is hard on the streets, that he is going to train hop to Florida, or Lousiannaa, or Cali (as he persists in calling California). I will be left again off balance, hurting, trying to figure out how to help.

And yet...I caught his eye and turned away. And so did his brothers.

I don't really know where to put that.



Well-Known Member
It's only been 4 months Echo. You have a lot of years of sorrow that you're still dealing with. Maybe one day you'll catch his eye and not turn away. When you're ready.

Don't carry the weight of his brothers' actions. Their relationship with him is their own responsibility. You haven't made them hate him.

I don't really know if or how to end the no contact.

Then leave it in the file marked 'pending' for now.

Thinking of you x


Well-Known Member
Echo, your post made me think, after I also read your son's description in the signature. I am sorry you are hurting now. It is soooo hard.

Does your son really have autism and schizoaffective disorder? I know he's using drugs and that is a horrible thing for his conditions, but how sick is he?Does he see and hear things that are not there? Can he make friends? Do you doubt his diagnosis or believe it? I never read his diagnosis before. Those are pretty significant problems to overcome. Would he agree to a group home for the mentally ill if you offered a kind hand to help him get the mental health care he needs? Obviously, he'd have to detox too...

Trying to think....

Also, it is not your fault that your kids don't want to talk to him. My kids were afraid of my daughter when she took drugs. I think it's normal to back off when you see some strange big person walking near you, even if it's your brother. Yes, it's very sad. I'm so sorry.


Well-Known Member
Then leave it in the file marked 'pending' for now.

I like that.

I think I am rattling around a bit in my own head because of the duration of silence and because it is getting cold here..going to be below freezing on Friday. The darker days make me somber and sad anyway (I actually use a full spectrum light to help with that), and then it is easy to focus those feelings on difficult child.

I'm going to cross the pond in December! I'll be in London for work in a few days.

Thanks for your warm reply,



Well-Known Member
Does your son really have autism and schizoaffective disorder?

I am fond of saying that he has FUBS (effed up brain syndrome). We have a nephew with severe autism (nonverbal at 22), so of course that comes into play. difficult child is a twin, and had developmental issues all along..we were hypervigilant because of nephew, and of course had direct twin comparison. Good gross motor, delayed fine motor, delayed speech, delayed toilet training, therapy for all (except the toilet training...they said when he was 4 1/2 that HE was fine but they wanted to see ME for my anger issues! I was 8 months pregnant with the next one and still changing his diapers, I think it was ok to be mad!)

He has carried diagnoses of ADD, sensory integration issues, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified, aspergers, autism, adjustment disorder, substance abuse, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective. He does not hear voices, and has had only one true hallucination that I know of. His substance abuse is a secondary diagnosis in my mind, self treatment. He has had therapists, hospitalizations, case workers, been granted SSI, been in job readiness programs for people with name it. Now, at 20, he will have none of it. Won't take his medications, won't consider a group home, prefers to think of himself as an addict trying to recover rather than some one with mental illness who needs to take good care of his brain chemistry...I know where you are going, and I appreciate it...but all the supports we put in place for him have been tossed aside repeatedly...just as the clothes, things, support, and love have been tossed aside. Again and again. It is part of his illness, part of his problem, part of my pain.

Thank you for bending your warmth and your thoughts towards him and me as well.



Well-Known Member
Ah, Echo. So he is truly a drug addict who has other real problems. That must make it so much worse.

His delays sound identical to Sonics.

I wish I had words to make it all better. Obviously, he would qualify for disability and then be able to get services, but he is trying to tell himself he'd rather be a drug addict than have any form of autism or mental illness. I can relate to it. There were times I used to think, "I wish this was due to drugs, not just my own dumb brain." This is not a bad person. This is one who desperately needs help yet our screwed up mental health system will not allow you to get him help or for anyone to do it, for that matter.

Under the circumstances, if this were my child, I would talk to him, but try to keep it short and sweet so that he can't blame you for his life and make you feel guilty. He could be getting help. I know you'd launch yourself to the moon and back for him. I know you'd get him any help he was open to getting. I know you care so much about this young man. I am thinking that if you can possibly plant a seed in his head about hnot being a bad person and that drug addiction is not his core issue, that maybe one day he'd want help and that you would be there all ready to help him with that. Of course, you have probably told him that a million times, but it does make me feel for you. And for him. I do have a great deal of sympathy for a young man who wants so badly to be normal that he'd rather be a drug addict so that he has an excuse for his behavior than to just be himself and have others see that he is different.

I wish I could tell you what to do about it. That part has to come from him. But I sure wish our system wasn't so screwed up that people like your young man do not get the treatment they need from our medical system. It is truly heartwrenching. I am sorry, so sorry. Sending you warmth and strength and support for whatever you decide to do.


Well-Known Member
How awful is that? I didn't mean to spread hate...if that is what is happening...

I don't think that is what's happening, Echo. I truly don't. I think they have the same aversion you do to someone who would steal from his family and try to get them to sell pot for him. It goes against what they hold dearest. It would go against that just as strongly regardless of how you handle your relationship with difficult child.

I tend to agree with Lucy on this one. Reestablishing contact is a "BIG" thing, after 4 months. I wouldn't do it unless/until you were ready and knew why you were doing it. And as you say, right now why would you do so?

I know that dreary weather seems to bring out my feeling and thinking all sorts of "BIG" things as well. If I'm lucky, it just makes me want to take a world-class nap, but sometimes it seems I decide it is a good time to pull the whole world in on top of myself.


Active Member
I do have a great deal of sympathy for a young man who wants so badly to be normal that he'd rather be a drug addict so that he has an excuse for his behavior than to just be himself and have others see that he is different.

I have felt like that about myself


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Staff member
Oh ECHO, I am so sorry. Your heartbreak comes across the page..........and your son is living in the world of his own making.........for better or worse, it is his.

I don't have any answers, these seem to be the kinds of issues which are not definable or able to fit into a category for our brain to wrap itself around..........the great unknown, the great uncertainty, the great big, 'I just don't know.'

You didn't spread hate, geez, you set a boundary, probably the same boundary your other kids needed now too.

As you know, I've been around mental illness my whole life........the level of despairing is one thing, however, the sheer force of our own powerlessness in the face of it is staggering. It has brought me to my knees with the recognition of how little control I have to effect change in the life course of another, no matter who they are.........

.......there is great suffering there.......

Step back from the edge of the cliff.........and then step back appears as if you and your son require more time to be apart.......until the time when some clarity arises within you and the path is once again lit up with that feeling of 'I know what to do now.' Until then, I believe the doubt is something to respect, it means we are not ready yet. Something is brewing and we don't know what it is........but life doesn't stay in one place, it's always moving......... the meantime, hang out in the uncertainty........ refrain........let go..........gratefully, it will pass.

JKF is having a weird night too...........we'll circle our wagons around you two, say prayers, send warm hugs for you both and for your difficult's a strange dance and we all deserve so much compassion and kindness........our kids too.........


Active Member
For us it has been more than a year. Maybe someday she will come back and we will get an answer which could explain why she felt that we tried to kill her. It was only a weekend boot camp and to my knowledge (I have been over and over it since she left) no child has ever been molested or killed at the camp.

The camp was nowhere as tough as they are seen in the BBC program "Extreme Brat Camp" a friend linked me to on Youtube the other day. It was coaching. Yes we tricked her into the camp. I understand if she is angry with us for it but to cut us off for more than a year? We have stopped looking for her. She dropped Facebook etc. to make her harder to find. I guess she will find us when she is ready. But it is hard. Very hard!


Well-Known Member
What I'm about to write is not to comment to if or when to try to re-establish a contact, but to how (if you in some point decide that is something you want to do.) And it is of course just one opinion and experience about the subject.

First thing to remember is, that decision to go no-contact is painful. It is that for both parties, but especially to the one who is a subject of no-contact. When other party wants to re-establish the contact, it brings all that hurt back and one has to remember, that it is very possible that the other party is not willing to have contact any more, or not right away or not in the terms that the re-establishing party would want. And that is just something you have to accept.

If your son is open to reconnect if/when you are seeking it, I would try to change those patterns of communication you used to have that were hurtful to you. While it sounds like he wasn't exactly lying when he was talking about jobs, being clean, friends and so on, but it was more wishful thinking or trying to say the right things to please you, it also seems those are not realistic goals in this point of his life in any way. If you decide to re-establish contact in some point, I would advice you to try to accept him like he is at this point. Accept that you can't change him (and no, unfortunately no-contact from your part is likely to change him either) and while there is always hope, right now he is this really messed up street person, who is not willing to look for meaningful help and who is not willing to admit the nature of his issues (and I can kind of understand it, substance abuse is something you recover from and there are all kinds of uplifting stories about it that I'm sure he has heard. Serious mental illness like schizoaffective is not something you recover, you manage it better or worse but that is it. And being on autism spectrum is also not something that will change. Accepting your limitations like that is hard, especially if you're bit borderline and have grown up thinking that you are almost like your peers and maybe, if you just do this or that can be like them. It seems to be bit easier to those whose specialness is so evident from early age, that people around them have been preparing them to 'special living' also in adulthood long before they even hit their teens.) When situation is like this, it is not very useful to try to change someone or even expect that change. It is more about harm reduction than trying to influence to him to change him.

He has been telling you things he daydreams or what he thinks you want to hear or what have been taught him to be a 'right way to talk for person in this situation.' None of it is candid. It could be helpful to both of you and your relationship with each other to change your convo to more real and more meaningful things. That of course isn't pleasant but reality of people like your son just isn't. I was in that situation with my dad once when I was around twenties. His substance abuse issues were totally out of control and he had fallen from the wagon, very bad patch for him. With me he tried to talk about the right things: How he was going to AA (when he was, it was only to get himself audience to feel himself smart, he was in too bad shape to keep up with his usual 'narcissist supply', but from AA he was able to find people to listen him and some of them were easily impressed by his pseudo philosophical deepness he could muster even though he was totally out of it), how he was planning his next exhibition, how his lifestyle was in fact an art project and so on. Instead of contradicting or asking about those or even entertaining the talk about those, I used to just tell him how nice that was and then steered the convo to more real topics like: where did you sleep last night? Was it cold? What have you eaten today? Did you hear this new shelter, soup kitchen, place to get clothes free? Have you tried them already? And so on. I would try to stay on that level. Very matter of fact and everyday topics (for him), that in best case scenario could give him some ideas of more reasonable goals than for example getting a job would be.

You also need to decide beforehand how much are you willing to help. And with help I don't mean supporting the change to better, but more about harm reduction approach. While there may be a change in future in some point, or may not, is there things you are comfortable to do to help him stay alive and without serious, permanent injuries? Things you would maybe be willing to do even for total stranger? Maybe buy him some food, or warm sleeping bag or shoes, take him to goodwill to shopping tour, help him with the tent that keeps the worst elements out or what ever it may be. If you believe that when he finds his rock bottom he will make changes, doing things like that of course doesn't make much sense, because they may be considered just things that will postpone that aha moment. But if the hope of that aha moment and turn for better is something you have had to give up with your son, and if you are ready to take a harm reduction mentality (and it is a big change. It is a huge loss to let go of the believe to complete recovery and accept the bad situation as likely long term or permanent and not something likely to change dramatically better in short order), your mindset will change. It doesn't make it any less sad, you will still mourn what will not be, but when you accept what is instead, you slowly learn to deal with what is instead of what you would hope it would be. And from that mindset it makes all the sense in the world to try to ease the suffering of someone you love even though it will not make change them, not make things better in long term or not bring you a happy ending. But it does ease the suffering a bit for now.

By the way, when it comes to your other kids; while they are of course entitled to have their own relationship or lack of it with their brother, I would likely remind them rather strongly, that their brother is no bogyman, not a danger for them and while you don't require them to associate with him, he is still loved by you and it is disrespectful to talk about him like that in front of you. And that little sympathy for those less fortunate than themselves wouldn't do damage to their character.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
As the weeks go by, I realize that I'm not really
detached...I harbor a hope, nay, a belief, that
difficult child will finally GET IT if I can just find the right
key, and I was laboring under the delusion that
losing me (by going no contact) would surely be it....

Stop harboring hopes of change Echo. Stop
believing things about difficult child.

Detachment can mean so many things. For me, to detach means for me to be aware of how I am communicating with myself. We talked on the site once about developing a kind of cold eyed determination to choose to survive this.

Stephen King once described physical pain as coming in waves. At the crest, when his strength was gone, he remembered the tide was soon to go out...and so, he survived. When the tide was out, he marshaled strength and determination to make it through ~ nothing more, just to live through ~ the wave of pain just now cresting on the horizon.

We need to do that, too.

We need to acknowledge and become familiar with and nurture ourselves and our pain and our children and I don't know how to do it, either. But it doesn't matter that I don't know.

The pain is still coming, still cresting or draining away....

What I believe in my secret heart is that parents of difficult child kids mourn as deeply, feel as trapped, try to escape or deny just as fervently, as the parents of children with terminal illnesses. But, awful as it is to say so, our children go on to be terminally ill over and over again. We have no opportunity to process any of it. There is no end point. There are no casseroles or neighbors or family coming round, there is no time of remembrance; there are no pictures we keep lit candles beside, because our children are here, and in danger, and mythologizing and grieving and loving and putting away is not an option. For us, the shame and the shock keep coming.

Remember the Rocky Balboa movies? And Rocky is always getting beat to smithereens but he stays loyal and he stands up and he keeps going?

And no one can really say for sure whether he is stupid or magnificent.

But those movies certainly were popular, which means they are speaking to all of us.

I certainly do feel like I've been popped in the head a couple of times.



For me, detachment means to step away from the heartrending emotional trappings of what is happening, of what has happened. It means doing my best to keep a clear intention, it means speaking clearly, it means believing for the best.

When our children are sick, when they refuse to come home or when we just.can.not have them living at home with us anymore...that is a living hell. All of it, everything about it, is luridly hellish.

And yet, though we grieve impossible pain, we proceed through the days of our lives as though we are not grieving, as though freshly steaming dumps of kinds of grieving we have never even suspected existed are not appearing out of nowhere any time, just any time at all.


To detach, for me, means to navigate a very narrow path that is my sanity, that is my sane response. And just like they say on the old maps written before we knew more about the world and ourselves in it, there are dark, mysterious places here in my heart where I cannot go, alone. "Here there be monsters."

I literally do not know how to incorporate what's happened into my life. I literally do not know how to live with myself given what has happened to all of us.

Detachment, for me, is about detaching from the immediacy of those emotions.

I know what I need to see from difficult child son before I will allow myself to respond openly, freely, from the heart.

I have learned that, here.

I know that I am walking as well as I know how through the wreckage and reparation of difficult child daughter's life.

Between those two things that I know is where I walk a very thin, winding little path that is sanity for me ~ that is sane response, for me.

I did not exactly choose this path Echo, and neither did you choose your path. But for us, those narrow, winding little paths are where we can be quiet, are where we can think and be honest and consider and make choices in this unbelievable, trickster kind of place the world seems to have become.

I am grateful for that little space, Echo.

So grateful.

And thank heaven we have the site and one another. This is where we can come to rediscover that sane, twisting little path again, when we have been pushed to the ground.


Regarding being so hard on yourself for loving him, for believing in him, for believing in anything at all...I always do say I have been a fool for lesser things than to believe in all of us.

And I do believe in us.

I don't know why this is happening, but I read once something to the effect that "at the touch of eternity" all would be revealed, and we would understand.

And when I am helpless before the hugeness of what I've lost, choosing to believe that, though I sure can't figure it out, there is some purpose here that is not malevolent helps me.

And that is really the only thing that helps me, when the days are very bad.


I always do say it is never, ever wrong to love our children or to hope for them or to believe that somehow, some way, these things can turn around. That is where the balancing point is, I think. I (and you do too) am very consciously balancing between loving and guilt and responsibility and frustration. There is no role model for us, there is no one who can mentor or really, even console us.

We have to be our own best mothers, now. Somehow, we have to teach ourselves how to do this. Maybe, gracefully, over time, or at least, with courage.

It helps me to remember that my intention is to love, and to forgive myself.

Some days, when things have gone very wrong, it is impossible to do that and still carry a tune. (Woody Allen said something similar, once ~ about it being impossible to contemplate one's own mortality and still carry a tune.)


But I am serious in a way, because unlike those parents for whom there comes an end...we have to go on with our lives like none of this is happening. We have to proceed over the days and months and years as though nothing is wrong!

And we are somehow supposed to muster the generosity to celebrate the lovely families and the accomplishments of others...and the miracle is that somehow, we do that.

We do that.

We are amazing people, but we don't even care about that. To us, the wonder of our courage and our strength and our pain is just what happened, next.


I try to be very aware when I am hating, when I am angry, because at the heart of it, it becomes a way for me to punish myself.

I know better.

I know no one is going to like that I said that.

But it is true, and I do have to be very careful with myself, not to despise myself for failing, or for the suffering of my children.

That is what I meant by forgiving myself.

Forgive yourself too, Echo.

Forgiving ourselves carries such depth of blessing and compassion and strength.

That is what detachment means to me. I must watch the emotions so closely, because the sadness of it, and the guilt of it, and the plain, stupid loss of it, can be overwhelming.

But it is what it is.

And yet...I caught his eye and turned away. And so did his brothers.
I don't really know where to put that.

I'm so sorry, Echo.




Well-Known Member
I'm going to cross the pond in December! I'll be in London for work in a few days.
I'll be in London this weekend and again in December. Maybe we'll pass each other in the street or sit opposite each other in the tube. How strange is that! I'll keep a look out for an amusing woman with an american accent, optional underwear and a heavy burden of sorrow. You can keep a look out for a petite redhead with a welsh accent and an identical burden of sorrow.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
For us it has been more than a year. Maybe
someday she will come back and we will get an
answer which could explain why she felt that we
tried to kill her.

Yes we tricked her into the camp. I
understand if she is angry with us for it but to cut us off for more than a year? We have stopped
looking for her. She dropped Facebook etc. to
make her harder to find.

I am sorry, lucedaleblessed.

We had one child we found treatment after treatment center for, some of the treatments months long.

She made bad friends, learned terrible things.

We had one child (a son) we did the opposite for. No treatment, kept him, other than family therapy, far away from any of that. With him, we used tough love. It was a new theory, back then. There were books written about the glowing success of it and blah, blah.

That backfired, too.

The only thing we didn't do was military school or a boy's camp somewhere. So, for years and years, we sort of beat ourselves up for not doing that.

And then?

One of the moms here came to us, posting about her guilt for having placed her son in just such a place!

(And I do remember that it was you, Echo.)

There is no answer about why these terrible things have happened to us, and to our children.

Forgive yourself, lucedaleblessed. Make an intention to forgive yourself. If you can do it, love your child and your husband and yourself and believe for the best, for the very best.


Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I'll keep a look out for an amusing woman with an american accent, optional underwear and a heavy burden of sorrow. You can keep a look out for a petite redhead with a welsh accent and an identical burden of sorrow.

Optional underwear.

That will be our Echo, alright.




Well-Known Member
Oh no, I wrote a long post using all your quotes and it disappeared! I will try to the meantime, piecing together all your comments was a really good exercise for me, both growing and calming. I hope you all can feel the value of what you've said and done. I'll be back.

It said I wrote over 10,000 characters! That isn't possible, is it?


Well-Known Member
I have no contact with either of my kids, and the 3,000 miles between us makes it unlikely that we would ever run into each other. I've had a lot of time to detach. I broke with no strings attached with L. After all we went through with her for her to tell me that I was "never much of a mother" to her and that her pediatrician was going to be her "Mother of the Bride" I figure that she cut those ties. She did approach me about a year after we moved and asked for a sample of my DNA to help possibly (and only possibly) reduce the likelihood that her AI baby wouldn't have muscular dystrophy. I told her to never contact me again. If I were to see her on the street I would not acknowledge her. If she were to speak to me I would not hear it. She's poison and she will never have a part in my life again.

It's different with M. All those years we didn't hear from him, we still made sure he had a phone to be in contact. He never asked us for anything but pipe dreams, so we never acquiesced, but we did offer him sensible advice, which he never took. When we moved his fiance asked us what he could expect from us, as though we were dying. I gave him the few boxes of his things that we still had. Somehow he expected bedroom furniture that we had gotten rid of years ago and household items we were taking with us. Anyway, we did keep in touch. When I went home to visit I'd see him - not that it was easy. I knew he was seeing my parents, and that my dad was ill and tried to do what I could to make those visits more pleasant for all. "Try cribbage, he likes that."

Then I got that awful letter from my father in the Autumn of 2013 telling me that he had made sure that I wouldn't receive anything from him or my mom's estate, and "As always, we love you." husband and I both told M that when he died M had to be the one to tell us because it wouldn't be fair to let a non-family member break the news to me. On father's day this year my dad died and no one told me. I got an email from my childhood babysitter several days later. I got a card from my niece's mother in law a few days after that - I've never met her or my niece's husband. That was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back.

I called M and asked him why he wouldn't have told me, and he said, "Grandpa told me he didn't want you to know." I told him, "He's dead. He wouldn't know. You promised us you wouldn't do this. What did you think you were going to say to me when I found out that you didn't tell us?" "I don't know." He went on to tell me that "Maybe Grandpa sent you that letter just to cover his bases so that he could be sure that you knew what he wanted." More like that he wanted to know that he had hurt me, and actually had so little faith in the afterlife that he had to do it before he died. At that point I told him goodbye and hung up.

In August, on M's B-day I sent him a card and told him that I love him and that I know that he is a good man and not a little boy anymore. His choice to consciously hurt me for my father was a poor one and I can't subject myself to someone who would do that. I invited him to be a part of our lives when he can make better choices and we can trust him more. He's not a little boy, he's a married man and we are no longer obligated to him. But in all of his adult life both his father and I have apologized for our parental shortcomings, although none of them were conscious decisions to be bad parents. We were all in a terribly sad place with no help, is all. He apologized to his dad for assaulting him, but never apologized to me for anything he did - the stealing, the destruction of my personal belongings, the scaring me to death with my butcher's knife - none of it.

To not tell me my father had died knowing that it was done just to hurt me was done as a man, not as a boy. As a man he can apologize, and as a woman I can forgive whether he does or not. I do, but I won't put myself in that position with him again. If I saw him on the street I would say "hello". I might even ask how he was in the same way I might ask a neighbor. He knows where I stand. I don't hate him, and he's not unwelcome in our lives forever. He's just unwelcome to be a manipulative hateful hurtful person in our lives.

From that point of view, I hope that the next time you see your difficult child on the street you will have the strength to keep walking towards him, make eye contact, and say "hello". From there perhaps you can work on broadening your boundaries with him. Never having contact with your children again is a lonely thing.