A First Attempt

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by karisma, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. karisma

    karisma Member

    Hi. I have been on this site for about 3 months, rarely posting, but reading every second of free time I have, which actually amounts to about 6 hours a day.

    I read it on the train, walking down the street (walked into a pole the other day lol), during any boring meetings, and all day between the housework (I am a live-in housekeeper/nanny) It helps me feel like I am at the very least not alone in this.

    It has put words to emotions so complex that I could not sort it out in my own head. I copy and paste parts or entire posts I feel are especially poignant or help clarify things I am still unsure of. I copied the letter Echo wrote to her son because it was so moving and I may use it as a template someday.

    I feel like I am reading all of your diaries, prying into the most private pain. Thank you for being here to help me.

    My Difficult Child is 26 and he is bipolar (diagnosed age 3, SSI from age 7 til 18 and medication compliant until age 18) with psychotic features (starting at age 18 when he stopped his medication, also lost his SSI due to non compliance). He also has anosognosia (impaired awareness of his illness and symptoms), even further believing that all the psychiatrists from his youth lied to him about being bipolar, and that his hospitalizations, psychiatric medications, juvenile detention etc etc etc were forced upon him to try to get him to fit into a society that he is too intelligent to fit into --what?

    Please forgive my disjointed writing. I have so many thoughts and emotions about this that I can barely express them at all. I will try to make sense.

    I am often extremely depressed because I feel the impending loss of him acutely.

    I have been crying for weeks

    I don't know if that means death, prison, estrangement, or his illness becoming so bad that he does not know who I am, or thinks I'm an alien or government robot spying on him.

    I have simultaneously been feeling that I essentially have no future at all. I have spent the best years of my life frantically trying to save Difficult Child. As a result, I really have nothing of my own that is important
    I had always planned on turning the focus onto myself once he was ok. I see now that he is unlikely to ever be ok.

    I don't have an SO (they always want to tell me he is out of control - really? I hadn't noticed- and they all try to advise me on what to do to fix him and it just doesn't work)

    I can't have my own place because I can not have him living with me. I think everyone here understands those dynamics

    I do have a good relationship with easy child daughter but she lives out of state. I would love to move there but I feel I can not leave him or my sister (parents long dead).

    I chose him 19 years ago (over my 2 year old daughter because it was clear that my home was not safe for her with him in it and she had another good parent whereas his dad is mentally ill and homeless) and this is the consequence of that choice

    (On a side note, he called me while I was writing this and said " Even if you don't want one, you have a future" Amazing. This type of thing actually happens often. Wow.)

    So I read and read and many things have started to sink in.

    Scent of Cedar * said:
    "These are kids who thrive on the kind of parenting that does not feel loving or generous to us."


    I was probably the very worst kind of mother he could have been born to. He needed an authoritative, detached mom who wouldn't put up with his behavior and had no problem enforcing rules no matter how hard he fought...and oh how very hard he fought.

    Honestly, Difficult Child would have likely fared better with an abusive family. Its like he has an aversion to being loved sometimes

    Once, a long time ago after a particularly bad fight we had on the phone, I was crying and talking about what he had said that had upset me so much or something like that and he said "Christ mother, why don't you just tell me 'F*** You kid' and hang up on me when I'm like that?"

    Because if its our last conversation, I could not live with that. Duh

    Its no longer about what I can or can't live with though is it?
    Difficult Child has several warrants and will be going to jail for a while here soon.

    I had planned to just keep enabling him til then and make these changes upon his release after writing to him and explaining what is going to change and why...but I can't take it any more. No time like the present right?

    I have sent him an email that essentially says:

    You are bipolar.

    You used to know this, but since you no longer take medication, you have developed anosognosia, and you are completely unaware of your psychotic condition.

    Since you do not know anymore, it is my duty to tell you so that you can make informed decisions about your future

    Society agrees that these are highly debilitating conditions and will provide everything you need. All you have to do is apply.

    There is no reason for you to be homeless, hungry, or not have what you need.

    Oh yes there is. My enabling. The little amount of money and food that I provide is keeping you just barely hanging in there, but enough for you not to put any effort forth for yourself.

    I love you and I am weak to your cries for help and have been so scared of losing you that I have helped even though it hasn't helped. Things have become worse for you.

    You are going to die young living in the streets as you are.

    One of two things needs to happen for me to continue to assist you with your immediate needs:

    1) you apply for your benefits ...or

    2) you allow me guardianship to do it for you if you are so incapable as you claim ( I won't even try for this without his complete consent, because its a waste of time otherwise)

    You are, of course, free to ignore this and do as you please, I will love you and be there for you emotionally, as well as support you through any incarceration, but I will withdraw my financial support.

    He has not replied

    We all know what his choice will be

    (For anyone new who doesn't know, he will choose to ignore my email and ramp up his manipulation to get me to continue the enabling)

    I am ready to change now

    I could not have done this without this site
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  2. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi Karisma, I rated your post a winner because of its raw honesty and humility. Honesty and humility are the two most important qualities for them and for us in our/their recovery. Without these two qualities, we don't stand a chance.

    Our own need is what drives our enabling. We are frantic with the need and the love and the fear and the grief. We act and act and act and act...thinking "this time"...but "this time" never comes.

    I watched a documentary on HBO last night on bipolar disorder. It tracked five families who have kids who have bipolar disorder. Have you seen it? It's good.

    This disease is so...what is the word...overwhelming and pervasive. It never stops. I can only imagine your life and his life, and what you have been through. I could talk on and on about the terrible cruelty of this disease for him...and for you..but I would rather focus on you...and the future.

    So...what now? You have reached this apex. It is an important turning point.

    Don't be surprised if you turn back..and if you do, that's okay. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Allow yourself the grace and mercy of being fully human. It's okay not to do this perfectly...we can 't be perfect. All we can do is the best we can do at any given moment. That is what you have done...through your entire past...and that is all you can do...for the future. Allow yourself to be imperfect in this.

    As you work on yourself (for that is what it takes), devote some time every day to you. Whatever that means. Take your own pulse. Do you need a walk, a nap, a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store, lunch with a friend, some new bubble bath? These things seem like trivial things, or even ridiculous, right? But they are kindnesses. We have to start being kind to ourselves, because we have been through so very much. This is the beginning of self-love. Of realizing that we matter. In fact, I call it the 51%/49% rule. I am 51%...my Difficult Child is 49%. I finally flipped those numbers, after a whole lot of time and work and missteps...from 99% and 1%. The moms here get that.

    As you work to change your thinking and your behavior (not your feelings...those don't change for a long time, the fear, the grief, the confusion, the frustration, so expect that), spend time every single day writing a gratitude list. Again, it seems like a very small and somewhat silly thing, doesn't it? Writing down 5 things you are grateful for will change your brain and will change your attitude about your day. Try it. I promise you it works if you work it.

    And then, take small steps with your precious son. Set small boundaries. You don't have to change everything overnight. Just start with small changes. AGain, putting yourself first for a chance. What can you handle? A phone call every other day, or every three days? A visit once a week? Or much less, perhaps at first. I had to really step away from my son for a period of time to get back to level ground, I was so far down. I had to lie down every single day for two hours and sleep and cry and stare at the wall. I did this for months as I worked on myself and worked on my own recovery from enabling.

    Other tools...journaling, counseling, anti depressants, Al-Anon, a sponsor in Al-Anon, reading books like Boundaries and CoDependent No More and Alanon literature...specific tools you can create in your very own toolbox and take them out and use them daily. Schedule and spend 30 minutes a day working on yourself. It is the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. You deserve this. You matter too. In fact, you matter the most.

    As you grow and change, you will realize that you have to let your son go. What does that mean? It doesn't mean being mean or never seeing him or not loving him. It doesn't mean a complete separation forever. It's not a black and white thing. As you are able, you can craft a relationship with him that works for YOU. You can learn how to let him go, to release him to the Universe, to God, to your Higher Power, whatever force you recognize that is greater than yourself.

    You've done all you can do. You have done more than anybody should do. Recognizing we can't fix, manage or control other people...even the precious adult children we gave birth to, and would do anything in the world for...especially them. We have to let them go and learn how to bear that.

    We are here for you. Keep reading this site. This site helps me so much. Writing and reading here, is incredible reinforcement. We're glad you are here and we understand. We really do. Warm hugs.
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  3. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    One quote...it is never too late to do the right thing."

    You have made the right choice. It won't be easy, but it's a start. Hang in there and you have to concentrate on you. You have been on the back burner too long. If you are better, then maybe the vicious circle will slow down... KSM
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  4. rebelson

    rebelson Active Member

    Definitely understand this. He is 26, an adult. When we move them back in, it sets them back immensely. Though I SO wish a holiday visit could happen (years are passing:frown-new:-he is missing out on his siblings growing up), I cringe to even think about having him here and what all would inevitably ensue. This makes me very sad. But, it is what it is.

    Karisma, I think this ^^^^ was his reply to your email? Or, maybe not. What do you think?

    Oh please try to make yourself important again. You matter so much. Because it could be years before he is 'ok'. You need to try and find something small. If you love music, spend 10 minutes/day listening to your favorite. And really try to block everything else out during that 10 minutes. Just one example, but this does not have to be some big deal. Something little. For you. :strawberry:

    Yesterday, at the end of my therapy session, my therapist told me 'you need to start doing something daily, for you.' I said 'Ugh, I love running, but when I can, I am too tired or it's too hot!' She said 'do it anyway...run half of what you normally would, but you need something for you.'

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  5. RN0441

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

    I truly felt your pain when I read your post. I am glad this site has helped you (has been a lifesaver for me) and you are setting boundaries now. In truth you are still young and can and should make a life for yourself.

    Oh and wanted to mention SELF-COMPASSION. You have so much compassion for your son, but what about for yourself?

    OMG what a riveting post. That was very touching and applies to me (and so many others here).

    Thank you.
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  6. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    You are right, he may never be ok in the way you would hope but YOU can be ok. It is time for you to focus on yourself. Not only is it ok, it's healthy.

    Karisma, I think every mom here has felt like she was the worst kind of mother ever. I know I have had those feelings. While it's sad, I also think it's very normal for us to feel that way. We love our children and we had hopes and dreams for them that did not come to fruition. We, you, me, all the moms & dads here, are not bad mothers or fathers. The fact that we are on this site seeking help and guidance is proof of the love we have for our children. We have all done the best we could and that is enough. There are never any guarantees about how our kids will turn out. We have no control over the choices they make. We only have control over how we choose to respond and we choose to live our own lives.

    I think you email to him was very well written and from your heart.

    So true but again, we have no control over what they will do. I will never understand why my son chose to live the life of a homeless drifter for several years. Currently he is more stable, he's a pot farmer. When the growing season is over I'm sure he will go back to wondering. I don't like it but I do accept it.

    I used to think this of my son also. I was always worried about him living on the streets, how would he survive, surely he would die. I have come to understand and accept that yes he could die, the fact is, he and so many others that choose this type of life manage to survive quite well. They network and learn from each other. It's not the life I had hoped for my son but those were my dreams and for him.

    This is wonderful. I'm so glad you are here with us. I truly wish I had found this site about 15 years ago. There is something so affirming in knowing that we are not alone in this.

    ((HUGS)) to you.......................
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  7. karisma

    karisma Member

    Thank you so much for all of your input:

    COM, I still have a hard time seeing this but am warming up to the idea. The very idea that I can still have a future, even without him, is barely taking hold. Clearly, it is going to take more effort than I had thought it would.

    I believe I can stay the course. I have been careful not to threaten anything until now because I knew I wasn't going to really follow through if he were to say or do certain things that make me feel very sorry for him.

    (Oh my God, I can't figure out how to insert quotes even though I clearly did it this morning when I started this. What on earth? Must be EOA --Early Onset Alzheimer's)

    KSM - I love that quote - It is never to late to do the right thing.. so true

    Rebelson - You are right. I do matter. My life and future do matter, even if it is without him.

    RN0441 - Compassion for myself. Thank you for bringing that up. I am twisted up on this issue because I was a difficult child adult myself ( I started using drugs at age 27 and put my mother through hell with worrying about me, though I was not mean to her) so I feel that somehow I deserve this. I know its not true but I have put up with way too much because I did it to my mother and have horrible guilt over that.

    Tanya - Yes, they do somehow manage to survive don't they? I need to remember that more. He is unlikely to actually perish here. I am so extremely grateful for the mild winters in Phoenix. I have read so many stories here about parents struggles with Difficult Child in sub zero temps. I don't think I could do it.

    The thing is, lately anyhow, I have been feeling just a tad resentful over my giving for the simple fact that he could easily get back on SSI and have his own money. He received it for 12 years, but he would have to actually go to some appointments, get a new psychiatric evaluation, etc. The whole thing is his resistance to the psychiatric evaluation. First, he won't be honest with them because I think he is embarrassed somehow about his mental condition. The reason Difficult Child sites is that he can't have an SMI label because of his "work" (tertiary circuitry related to quantum mechanics and renewable energy sources - algorithms he has devised etc..) and how this label would ruin his future in this regard - (yeah, so will being dead, homeless, out of your mind....).

    So we have been at this impasse for some time

    I know its time to let go....I know I know I know....way past time actually

    I have to be brutally honest here about this issue. I am ashamed to say that somehow, somewhere along the way I became emotionally dependent on how he feels or acts towards me. He is in many ways all I truly have, which is pitiful because I certainly do not have him. "Helping" him has become my life. My self worth is somehow wrapped up here in some twisted way.

    Would I trade never seeing or speaking to him again for him to be happy, or even just ok? In a nanosecond.

    I spoke to him today and asked if he read my email. He said he doesn't have wifi where he is at, so no.

    We ended up arguing and I yelled "NEVER CALL ME AGAIN!!!!" and he hung up.


    Clearly I have a long way to go.
  8. rebelson

    rebelson Active Member

    Why don't you go to my newer thread, "Codependency", in the Parent Emeritus section? It's a 22 minute video. I thought it was quite pertinent to most of us.
  9. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Karisma, I wanted to tell you I am reading along. I have nothing to add but I am getting so much out of your first post, as well as the wise responses you have received.

    Re the email and phone call thing, AARGH! Emotions were high; you put it all out there... and he didn't even get it?!? AARGH!

    Sometimes it feels like trying to float a big balloon, then someone comes along with a sharp pin and...pffffttt.

    Anyway, I don't have much to add, except maybe to tell you about the quotes feature. Under each post, you will see a clickable "quote" and "reply." Quote will add that post to your reply. Or you can highlight the portion of the post you want to quote, then click reply and it will include the highlighted portion in your response.
  10. RN0441

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

    I told my son not to contact me until he is ready to change for real and for good. That lasted a few days. He is in IOP program so he is sober but his thinking and comments still make me crazy and his lack of accepting all the help that is at his fingertips now is completely unacceptable to me. I did get one good report from his therapist BUT I'm keeping it real and not getting optimistic. I've been burned too many times.

    I have said horrible things to my son out of anger and frustration and one so bad I will not even post here. I actually apologized for it because I couldn't live with myself for saying it. Don't beat yourself up.

    I have never had so much love or hate in my heart as when I realized my son was an addict.
  11. Alaska

    Alaska New Member

    Wow. You are me. You described my son exactly except I never knew he was sick I just thought he was difficult. But he is sick and he does not believe it I don't write contact or answer calls from him. He is at the shelter. I want so bad to call and check on him. But he will drag me down. Right now I do not even know if he is alive. I suppose someone would contact me if something happened. I think about him all the time and worry when it rains or when I hear ambulances. Thanks for helping me stay strong everyone
  12. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I totally get why you would feel guilty but that's in the past. It's okay to forgive yourself, in fact it's necessary for you to forgive yourself so that you can move on.
    If your mother is still living and if you haven't done so already, call her and apologize, or writer her letter.
    Just because we have made choices in our own lives that have hurt others does not mean we deserve to be punished.
    Life is tough enough we don't need to add to it by harboring guilt.
    Please, forgive yourself and understand that you do not deserve this.

    Thank you for being so honest. You have nothing to be ashamed about. This is not all uncommon. You simply became co-dependent. The good thing is that you realize it and from there you can start to change. In order for any of us to change we have to change our thinking. It's easier said than done but it can be done.
    One thing that has helped me is to write positive affirmations on sticky notes and put them on my bathroom mirror.
    Read them and re-read them, take them in, believe them.
    Some suggestions: I can rely on myself to be happy and I deserve to be happy
    I will not harbor guilt, I forgive myself
    Also list some things you are grateful for.
    This may feel odd at first but it really does work to help change our thinking.

    ((HUGS)) to you!!!
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  13. karisma

    karisma Member

    Thank you Rebelson, I will check that video out

    Albatross, Thanks for the help with quotes. It turns out I don't have EOA. The "insert quotes" button wasn't there when I was working with the draft. I was seriously worried for my mental state. lol

    RN0441 - Glad I'm not the only one. By that same token, Difficult Child has done things that I am quite sure I would never tell anyone. Yeah, that bad.

    Wow, me too! I worry excessively anyway, but the weather and ambulances take it to the next level for sure.

    I literally think about him every waking moment. I used to think that this was abnormal until I read an article called
    Mothers' everyday experiences of having an adult child who suffers from long-term mental illness. It states:

    "A content analysis resulted in one main theme: My adult child who is struggling with mental illness is always on my mind"


    Tanya, no, my mother died in 2009. I was her caretaker for the last 9 months of her life. She died from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) from smoking 3 packs of ciggs a day for 40 years. She never did quit smoking. I took good care of her and sacrificed some things to do so. Doing this alleviated some of my guilt.

    Yes. Most certainly. I am emotionally dependent how he is doing as well as how he feels towards me. This really has to change completely because although he loves me, I do think it is a good possibility that he may go through a period, possibly forever, where he rejects me and doesn't speak to me at all.

    Thank you to everyone for the replies.

  14. Alaska

    Alaska New Member

    I have to say that I do have a wonderful husband. Great step kids, a great career, and a beautiful home since I left my ex 4 years ago after 20 years of marriage. Unfortunately I struggle every day with the quilt of the wonderful life I have found while my son is sick and homeless. The resentment he feels is obvious when I was still communicating. My older son has left threats against my new family and myself. He is 32 and not doing much better than the 26 yr old. They blame me. It hurts. I believe this is because there father is a pot head and pretty sure that
    He is bi-polar and it was hard for me to live with him. Really hard on the kids. They were so happy when I left (they were already adults). But they just thought it would be easier to manipulate me. And they did for awhile. But now my new husband encourages me to dis associate and they are angry.
  15. rebelson

    rebelson Active Member

    Regarding him pulling away from you, try to not take this personally as this might be a good thing and exactly what he needs to do. I was told that many addicts in their 20s still haven't detached from their mother.

    Until this is successfully accomplished by them, they can and will remain stuck at their current & stunted emotional level. This is usually many, many years behind.

    For instance, in my opinion, the current age of emotional maturity for my almost 24yo son, is maybe 16-17.

    He even recently, made a joke & was giggling, that he has "mommy issues". This was not and is not funny to me.

    I want him to be completely free of mommy issues for his own future happiness. If for him to accomplish this means that I don't hear from him for months, even longer, but it helps him to move forward in sobriety, I would take that in a nano second...as someone said.

    All I want is for him to be "happy", whatever that word means for him.
  16. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    It sounds to me like your son might be schizophrenic or schizoaffective rather than straight bipolar. He's definitely got some delusional thinking going on.

    I am sorry you are dealing with this. Short of obtaining guardianship, which likely won't happen if he doesn't consent, I don't know what to advise.

    Thankfully, other than spending 3 nights sleeping in my car years ago, I have no experience with homelessness beyond some couch-surfing in my much younger days.
  17. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    The resentment he feels is his alone to own. There was a time that I too struggled with "how can I be happy when my son's life is spiraling out of control" Our lives should not be put on hold just because our adult children are having issues.
    I remember when I decided that I was going to live my life and seek happiness regardless of my son's chaos. I shared with my son that hubby and I were going to the Caribbean for a vacation. His response was something to the effect of "fine, go off and have a good time while I rot here in jail" Oh he was resentful alright. I let it bother me for a little bit and my husband set me straight. I have worked hard all my life, I follow the rules, go to work everyday, pay my bills, etc..... I deserve to take a vacation any time I choose and if my son doesn't like it, well that's his to own. I will not allow his pity party's to draw me into those feelings of guilt.
    My son is miserable and he wants me to be miserable with him. I refuse. I will continue to live my life to fullest. I also do not tell my son if hubby and I are vacationing as it really is none of his business.

    Silly Alaska, of course they blame you - it's right there in the Adult Difficult Child handbook on page 87 "BLAME YOUR MOTHER"
    Seriously, they blame us because then they don't have to own up to and take responsibility for the poor choices they have made.
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  18. RN0441

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


    My son just pulled that with me. We went to a concert with friends and he texted saying "glad you're out having a good time while I'm in here" (here being IOP). That used to bother me and I felt guilty but not any longer. I told him that we work hard and yes, we are enjoying ourselves as much as we can!! It really is an amazing gift when you can see it for what it really is.

    When he stops blaming us and laying on the guilt trip, I'll know he's ready to change.

    Your husband is smart;)
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  19. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    RN, if you think about it, that's a really strange thought process. What does your "having fun" have to do with him not having fun at his age?
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    There are young adults the ages of our kids with cancer who are also not out having fun. And they in no way did anything to deserve it.

    I get so tired of hearing that their life is the worst life ever.