AA Bombshell


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difficult child called last night distraught, in tears, amp'd up. Can't really blame him --- he unexpectedly ran into one of the abusers (every kind of abuse) from his youth last night at an AA meeting. The worst one -- the one whose actions caused him to be brought into foster care and, ultimately, into our family. difficult child has not seen this person since he was 5, but, as you can imagine, memories and feelings came racing back. He wanted to assault the abuser. difficult child confronted the abuser and "had it out" verbally, but did not assault him. Abuser knew who difficult child was. Abuser said bizarre, nonsense things to difficult child. difficult child was even taken aback by abuser's appearance. difficult child fled, very distressed......wanting to use.

Instead, difficult child called us and begged to come stay with us last night as we are some of the only clean and sober people he knows. We agreed. He did not use last night (that I know of). His emotions were real, understandable, and overwhelming. We had a good night with difficult child last night and he seems better today -- though still all jumbled up inside, saying he's edgy. We're very proud of difficult child for not assaulting the abuser, but leaving. This is NOT difficult child's normal response. This is a huge step in maturity for him.....especially given running into the abuser. And, honestly, we're pretty proud of difficult child's step forward into maturity.

Adding hate to hate doesn't help. Adding crime to crime doesn't help.

Only adding light to dark helps.

We did have a good night last night. difficult child asked to stay a few days (3-4?). We discussed it for hours last night, laying down boundaries for this 3-4 day stay. He agreed to the boundaries. We haven't spent 3-4 days together with difficult child in years (like at least 5 yrs). Not sure how it'll go.

Here's the thing, though...... As much as I'm hoping and gaining some trust back for difficult child, I'm still vigilant and believe only what I see. And, honestly, I'm a little hesitant to have him here for 3-4 days. He's been fine.....IN THE PRESENT. But I have so, so, soooooo many memories of THE PAST. I do not want to recreate old scenarios or patterns. difficult child, husband and I spoke very openly about this all last night. Told him everything I'm telling you all here. He heard us and seemed surprised at the degree of downright PTSD we felt (and, to some degree, still carry in us) that he inflicted on us over the years. Is that legit surprise?

Strange place to be. Hmmmm.... difficult child said he feels conflicted about our relationship. I'd have to say, in fairness, so do husband and I (feel conflicted about difficult child).

We spent all those years hoping for him.
Then we spent all those years erecting HUGE boundaries around us.
Now we still have the boundaries (will always have some), but feel hope creeping in bit by bit.

Feel a little like a blender is mixing all of those emotions together inside me.

Want to retain the best in my humanity, while still promoting the best in difficult child's humanity. difficult child requested to go to a special church thing with us tonight. We go in an hour or so. difficult child requesting to go to church....this is definitely a switch.


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Take it as it comes. The good, bad, and the ugly. You are stronger than you were. You can handle whatever comes next. Prayers for his healing.


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One good night does not mean he changed, although I have no doubt his distress was real. Give him a year before you proclaim he has changed and take your usual precautions if you let him stay. I would advise locking up money, credit cards, and car keys and not leaving him alone in the house. I did not believe my daughter really quit drugs, even though she had, for at least a year. Call it PTSD, but she had quit before and gone back...she had to earn our trust back. Happily, she did and maybe your son will too.

I'd approach this as one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, one second at a time. Whatever happens happens. Do not anticipate too much. Stay in the moment. I think you did the right thing letting him come home that night. However, a person does not change overnight. Be cautious, optimistic, but realistic and I hope the best for your family and your difficult child.

Just don't let down your guard yet. Hugs and crossing fingers, toes and eyes for you :) You are smart, loving and courageous and you can do this.


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Staff member
To run in to his main abuser and responding the way he did, seems like an enormous leap in health and good choices. That leap is new for him so I can understand that he would want to be somewhere he feels relatively safe and loved as he moves through this transition he just made so dramatically into a new response. I get his reasons.

I can also so understand your vacillating between hope and what the past has brought to you. That is very real. It makes sense that you are all conflicted, this is new ground for all of you.

Rather then agree to 3-4 days, why not agree to today, each day, or not. Agree to sit down each day and talk about what is real and what you are willing to do and what you expect from one another.

Change is good and change has stress in it. Your son is likely reeling from the meeting and from his response. You are kind of in the some place, change.

While you're going through this, take care of yourself, change is good, change is stressful, both are true at the same time. Be kind to yourself.

What he did is something to be proud of. How you are responding is healthy. Good job.

in a daze

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Does he have a sponsor? Where is he living now? Does he have a therapist?

The poor guy. Good for him that he didn't go out and use. I'm sure he wanted to strangle the guy, but refrained. He's growing emotionally, HM. It's sometimes one step forward and two steps backward, but sounds promising nevertheless. Take comfort in that. But stay in the here and now like MWM say.


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Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. Many good insights and ideas in there. Will keep them all in mind and use whichever ones are merited on whichever day they're merited. I'm definitely conflicted and my emotions rotate, clash, and blend together from hour-to-hour sometimes with him. My vigilance is never down. My heart is open to being open....buuuuut.... reminds me of classic Star Trek......... "Red alert! Red Alert! Deflector shields up!" :D

It reminded me of a moment we had when he was 12 and fell down on our living room floor suddenly in a fetal position wailing in tears, "It hurts! I have a hole so deep nothing can fill it!" All I could was lay down on the floor with him, hold him, rock with him and cry with him. I am very emotionally knitted together.....and I mean that in a good way. I care deeply and wholeheartedly. And it has been a parenting experience of going TOTALLY against my nature by erecting massive protective boundaries around my heart. Not my nature. I am blessed with many deep, life-long relationships. I usually do relationships pretty darned well. But this difficult child of ours.........damn. Sometimes we connect so deeply and I feel him waaaaay down in my soul. And then, at other times, I'm quite certain the pod people have seized him and are holding him captive on the mothership while his clone romps around down here smashing everything to bits.


Tonight at church was interesting. He said he enjoyed it and wanted to go back. Will see what happens. Part of church tonight had a guy from AA talking about how he'd been clean for just over 3 years. difficult child now has 45 days under his sober belt.

While at church, I got to thinking about MY tools (not HIS tools, nor HIS responses). Just MY tools. What can I do to empower ME, so that no matter what happens, I remain intact. A hefty, overflowing, rotating toolbox comes in mighty handy. So I took a quick inventory of MY tools. I actually have many tools in MY box. Some of them I haven't used in ages (more than a year) because difficult child was absent so long. But I got to remembering them and began dusting them off in my mind. Time to use them now! Regardless of difficult child, I should use them now, anyway.....when I'M feeling conflicted. That part of MY life is MY recovery. :) Free Will.

Yes, difficult child has a sponsor. And he's got a good one --- Mark makes him report in daily for 90 days. He's been with Mark for about 2 weeks and likes him. We just dropped him at an AA meeting right now (a different location than last night).

difficult child does NOT have a home right now. He is couch-surfing. He is on the list for transitional clean & sober housing, awaiting an opening. And, no, don't worry..........as has been the case for 8 years, difficult child will NOT be living with us.

Thank you all SO much for your kind, caring, WISE words! Believe me, I'll re-read all of your thoughts several times to make sure I didn't miss anyone's thoughts. I appreciate ALL of your words! Keep 'em comin' and thank you all, so much, for your heart-felt and brain-felt support!

Will keep y'all posted. I feel like Lewis and Clark forging a new trail across the West. You know, no real clue where I'm going, but well aware there could be sudden cliffs appearing out of nowhere. Not, not, NOT my plan to drop off the edge! But thank you all for strategically placing warning signs along the way, just in case! LOL!


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PS -- Writing to you all made me realize I was too vague in something to difficult child. He did request 3-4 days. We did say, "Ok." But 3-4 is too squishy. Didn't notice that 'til I wrote it to you all. We have now clarified that it's THREE days (no chance of FOUR). And reiterated that first sign of problem (raising his voice to us or refusing our house rules), he is out. Reminded him that we've done it many times before, we won't hesitate to do it again if needed.

Should always be crystal clear with boundaries. 3-4 was too vague. Glad I wrote here because I missed that before (and so did husband).

As for next week or anything future, we are going day to day. Some asked that and I forgot to answer.

Wish us luck and thanks, again!


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Staff member
Being crystal clear with our boundaries makes everyone, including our difficult child's, feel safe. Sounds to me like you covered all the bases. And, well too.


Active Member
That's what happens when you try to recover, the devil throws things in your way to prevent you from healing. difficult child running into his abuser at an AA meeting is the work of the devil right there. What is one of the worst thing that could possibly happen? That would be it. I'll tell ya, I am not that strong, if I were a drug addict, that's all it would take for me to go into a spiral downward. That's some heavy stuff right there.


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Ach, that really is some tough luck! Glad he handled it that well on the spot. Unfortunately I wouldn't be too hopeful of him getting through this without the relapse. He is very new to the sobriety and this is a major stressor. Simply huge deal however you put it. And the effects of something like that tend to linger for the long time, that simply is how the trauma and it's after effects work.

Good news is, that even if he relapses, it is not the end of the world. Relapses are part of the process and one learns from them.

He seems to be in process of trying to obtain suitable housing solution for himself, but maybe you could help him to look other possible accessible services for him. Are there mental health clinics or things like that where he could find someone he could talk about this experience and how to handle the thoughts and feelings it causes in him? It is a major issue and likely not something he has gotten tools to deal with in rehab or self-help group. In my experience addicts or people with mental health issues are often not too equipped to deal with the hassle it takes for them to access the services they need and what are available for them. While they are often very crafty in finding a dealer etc. finding the services aimed to help them seems to be totally different deal. And while not letting one's hopes too high, helping with that legwork is often something we can do to our loved ones to help them have a fighting chance, even if it doesn't pan out that time.


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That's what happens when you try to recover, the devil throws things in your way to prevent you from healing. difficult child running into his abuser at an AA meeting is the work of the devil right there. What is one of the worst thing that could possibly happen? That would be it. I'll tell ya, I am not that strong, if I were a drug addict, that's all it would take for me to go into a spiral downward. That's some heavy stuff right there.
GM, hon (I call everyone hon and hope you don't get offended :))...yes, life is tough and things happen when we are trying our best. I believe they are tests and that we can learn from them. Trust me, I have had to fight hard challenges on top of trying to stay healthy and not let my latent mental illness overtake me. It can be done and make us stronger. You can face your challenges too, I promise. They may seem overwhelming at the time, but even so you can actually turn them into a positive. I am sorry to hijack this thread, but I just don't want to see GM feel that every time you try to do better, something impossible to overcome is thrown in your way. If you look at it that way, it can be that way. But it doesn't have to be thought of like that. You can do this!!! You can learn from the difficulties life throws at you. This very unfortunate happening difficult child encountered can teach him a lesson and he can overcome it, even if it causes a relapse in the short term. And who knows? Maybe it won't!!!

Take each chapter of your life and realize it is just a chapter. I like the saying "This too shall pass." Time is a great healer.

GM, you are stronger than you think you are and we are here to remind you of that.


one day at a time
Rather then agree to 3-4 days, why not agree to today, each day, or not. Agree to sit down each day and talk about what is real and what you are willing to do and what you expect from one another.

Great advice, and it sounds like you are working hard to contain the "3 or 4 days" discussion.

45 days sober is great. I see from your signature he is 24. That is neither a baby or a grown man, especially if he has abused drugs (which stops development) and in our culture today, even with PCs, it takes so much longer for boys, especially it seems, to grow up.

And it sounds like that was a tough experience. Very tough.

But....he still has to do this himself. All on his own, so he can learn that he CAN do things on his own and he doesn't have to have Mommy and Daddy with him to navigate the world.

I have truly come to believe that while I can encourage, support and provide a meal or two along the way, it is not going to be me, his dad or his brother, or his extended family, who walks beside him on the journey to becoming a contributing, stable adult.

There is too much stuff, too much baggage, too much history, too much emotion, for either of us to navigate the normal ups and downs in a healthy way.

I can't do it, and he can't do it.

I love my son so much, and the Mommy days are over. However, he does need help, support and assistance, and you know what---he is finding that, through other people.

He is somehow making his own way...today. Today is all we have, and today is all they have.

Sure, you want to embrace him after that tough confrontation at AA. And you are careful and cautious, that is good. My best thought for you----and for him----is the shorter, the better.

The Mommy days are over. Warm hugs. I hope it all goes okay, whatever you do.


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Everyone -- Wow! Such great comments, insights, ideas and sentiments you post! Thanks so much!

GM -- That's exactly what someone else told difficult child -- someone who is clean. It seemed to help difficult child to shift the blame away from himself re: the abuser. That was good. And GM? I'm with MWM on this......... P4 gladly reminded me at the beginning of this thread.... We're stronger than we think we are! AND WE ARE! All of us! :)

Boundaries -- Yep, yep, and yep! I needed to be reminded of that last night and you all did it wonderfully for me here. Thanks!

SuZir --- So true, what you wrote of what tools are in difficult child's toolbox for navigating life. Not many. And many of those tools he did choose to use were very much on the wrong track. It's a learning curve for all of us. I think we're all trying to figure out how much trust we have for each other. Some moments contain more trust than others. It's a long process. And, honestly? I think it's supposed to be a long process. It's better if it's a long process. Better for everyone.

Yes, we have fortunate assistance from a handful of friends who are very "plugged in" to "the system" and are helping us with options. Waiting to hear on a specific housing option later today. Fingers crossed. He is couch-surfing, but with only 2 others and they are both clean and sober (we know them). They are the ones who verified the truth of the AA story -- that difficult child did, in fact, run into abuser and walk away (more like "ran", they said).

We helped difficult child write up a resume (pretty easy, actually, as there's not much to tell). Surprisingly, difficult child used it and got himself a seasonal job at Hickory Farms at the Mall (starting today). Also, at church last night they said there was "Man Church" (big crowd of guys all wear their football jerseys to church and on a giant screen they all watch Monday Night Football together and grunt into unison! LOLOL!). Anyway, difficult child wants to go. It's a GREAT opportunity for him to meet a big pile of clean and sober men in healthy activity. So, between him working today and Man Church, difficult child will not be here all day or evening.

Day 1 (yesterday), survived. Day 2 (today), should be easy as he won't be here until 9 p.m. Day 3 (tomorrow) will hopefully be survived, also. Funny to look at it that way, but you all know what I'm saying!

CoM --- Exactly! The "Mommy" days are over! Yesterday I also told difficult child that even Peter Pan has to grow up. Now is the time. He didn't like that very much. Oh, well..........facts are facts. But at least he didn't explode. He just left the room. That works for me. And who knows? Maybe that nudged Peter Pan into getting the job. Hopefully it'll also nudge Peter Pan into actually showing up for said job.

Lastly, difficult child said it was a "blessing straight from God" that someone he knew from elementary school (my very close friend's son) contacted him out of the blue to go ride go-karts. difficult child was thrilled! I absolutely LOVE this particular guy (my friend's son) and he is well away of difficult child's difficulties.

Side Note (just because I it makes me feel good to remember it......USE EVERY FEEL "FEEL GOOD" TOOL, RIGHT? LET NO "FEEL GOOD" TOOL GO UNUSED!) ----- When difficult child and this other kid were 13, we had a large group of us drive out to our property deep in the woods for some motorcycling, ATV'ing, and swimming in the lake. Well, actually we were supposed to be there to burn slash piles, but we played a lot more than we worked. Ha! Precious family time because we didn't have very many happy difficult child times (I know you all can relate). So.....we SAVORED those good days at the property. On the way back it was me and 3 13-yo boys driving back in my car. difficult child got upset about something (you all know the drill) and when we pulled over, difficult child ran directly into the highway in a frenzy. Ask me if I 'bout had a coronary! Anyway, it was a power duel over food and, well, I'm the adult so it's gonna go my way. Eventually it did, but it took about 45-min to settle down. The other boys just watched in horror. BUT.......every single one of those boys was an "old soul" in the best ways. EVERY single one of them went out of their way to help me (and, in the long run, difficult child). We knew these boys VERY WELL (they were like "second sons" to us) and came with us often --- motorcycles, skiing/snowboarding, swimming, fishing, etc. We even all did a giant whipped cream pie fight together (really....got nearly 50 of us for it and it was a BLAST!).

It's one of these boys who contacted difficult child yesterday. difficult child is right....it is a "blessing straight from God" that this guy called (who is still just a terrific guy!). I suspect my great friend may have nudged her son to call. But he's just the right guy to call and difficult child knows it and said so.

Thanks for listening to my little reminiscing about those boys and how they helped with difficult child (rare fun days of clean and sober for difficult child, too! He was already using at age 13). We had SO much fun with these boys and I am SO grateful one of them has re-entered difficult child's life!

Honestly, I think the power of recalling FUN events is one of our most empowering "feel good" tools in our box. FUN rocks! FUN is important! FUN is endorphins! FUN is a peacemaker. FUN is.......well.....FUN!

We all struggle so much with our difficult child's and it's some h-e-a-v-y stuff. We deserve FUN wherever we can find it and as often as we can find it!

Maaaan, how I appreciate this forum where I can spill my heart, strategize, reminisce, share and get such great support and ideas (you all have such GREAT ideas.....I am using many of them!)!

Thank you all!

PS ----- We still like using lockboxes here. Also, husband suggested that we get massages often for relaxation (there's a massage school nearby that does 'em for half price).

Using boundaries to lessen unhealthy matter. Using tools to increase what's healthy matters, too. :)


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Geez........ I never realize how wordy I am until I see the big ol' post afterward. Read it all as you feel inclined (or not). I just appreciate the opportunity to express and I appreciate all of you! :D


Active Member
I'll agree with many of the others here - it wasn't a curse, it was a test. And he passed that test.

I'll get a tiny bit philosophical here. The avatar I use is Set (or Seth, or Sutekh, depending on your historical sources) teaching archery to one of the pharaohs.

Set's "job" (the aspect he is "neter" or divine teacher of) is the expanding of boundaries. They may be personal or material, but when you have pushed your limits further and have grown as a person, and become aware of that growth and change, you have experienced or undergone a phenomenon they called "khefer" (or Xeper in the older Greek translations - the letters chi, phi, rho.) If you become aware of that change, and embrace it as a new state of being, you can continue that growth.

(They even had a neter of the state of being itself, the dung beetle - named Khefri. Struggling to grow sometimes beyond my limitations often feels like I'm pushing a ball of dung bigger than I am, so I'd say the metaphor's pretty good. :) )

It isn't easy seeing that one has changed, especially as it brings into focus what one used to be. You can't know where you're going without knowing where you've been, and in my mind that makes a relapse even more likely (she says, eating old easter candy at 9:30am!) because it's easier to make yourself numb to the negative than embrace it as past and walk towards growth, pushing that d*mned ball of poo all the way.

And the secret? Inside that ball of poo is an egg, that can hatch into a new person, the one I can become that is a little better than the one I was.

OK, all done philosophy class. Back to the chocolate. :)


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Nerfherder --- I LOVE your post! Love, love, love it! And, please, I thrive in the philosophical ether....continue wading into it whenever you feel inclined. Please always feel free to share!
In fact, I'm gonna tell difficult child what you said. He will LOVE it, also. Not sure he'll grasp it the same way I do (and, hey, you probably grasp it a lot better than I do), but he will love the imagery.


Active Member
Thank you, HM. I'm pulling a little out of an extended period of despair, and struggling - not simply to remember what I have from my teachers, but remembering how to use what they passed onto me. Soon I'll only be pushing one ball instead of two, but that one ball has a flat spot like those old Big Wheel trikes after a year of use, and kinda hard to get it rolling again


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Nerfherder -- Sounds like a Sisyphus kind of boulder-rolling. Hard work! But glad to see you pulling out of your extended period of despair. Those are jagged times, indeed. I'm glad you're here and I'm glad we've connected! All my best to you today for a refreshing day. :D