Adult child stealing

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by gsingjane, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. gsingjane

    gsingjane New Member

    Hi there - thank you for having this board! I have seen this problem described elsewhere on the board, but I didn't want to hijack anyone else's thread, so I thought perhaps this could serve as an introductory post as well. Thanks for reading... like so many stories it's a long one, although I'm condensing it considerably.

    My husband and I have been married for almost 24 years and we have four children, two of each. Our youngest, 14, is at home but the other three are either gone or close to it. The person that I am writing about is our oldest son, 23 years old, "John."

    Even from the earliest times, John was not comfortable being a member of our family. He was snide, and aloof, had a very fuzzy relationship with the truth, and also (again from the early days) felt that if he wanted something, namely and mostly money, he was entitled to it. When John was 13 he was diagnosed with a serious medical problem, and all throughout high school he was on heavy medication. This interfered with his schooling, and he did not get into the college of his dreams. John is quite bright, however.

    John has always been a thief. Money disappeared here on a regular basis. He had counseling (psychiatric and spiritual) for it but it never changed much. So far as we know we are the primary victims, although he has stolen from relatives and friends as well.

    John's stealing increased dramatically when he left for college in 2008. He primarily steals by taking my debit card number and using it to purchase things online; he has also taken checks and forges them; he also creates emergencies that need to be solved with large amounts of immediate cash. I would say that he has taken between $50-200 every week since he's been gone (although sometimes he'll steal a big amount at once, like $2000, and then stay quiet for a few months). He tried (unsuccessfully thank God) to obtain a credit card in his Dad's name and have it sent to him, and he also stole my other son's paycheck and forged it. He has stolen from at least one girlfriend that we know of. He visits my husband's office when he knows my husband won't be there, and riffles through his desk and briefcase looking for checks or financial information.

    Needless to say, we have taken every protective measure possible short of involving the authorities. One of the reasons we have not yet involved the police is because John is actually, genuinely, medically ill. He had a major organ transplant in the summer of 2011. Although we had hoped that this "second chance at life" would cause John to re-think his life, it hasn't done so. We have always been leery of getting John involved with the criminal justice system, because we've been afraid that he might actually die in custody (he is on a rigorous anti-rejection medication schedule and missing even one dose could be fatal). Just as a side note, although I know that very often stealing like this can indicate substance abuse, I don't think it does in John's case - first, because it started so early and second, because, with his medical condition, he's blood-tested almost every week and I know they screen for drugs. Plus, for him taking illegal drugs would put him in the hospital immediately, he's that debilitated.

    Of course, John knows about our concerns for his health, and to a large extent plays on this fear, and our general pity for him and his situation, to continue to steal. That is the only reason he's been in our life as long as he has. He radically increased the pace of his stealing over the past Christmas break (just in the past six weeks, we are down by over $3000) and so, finally, yesterday, we "pulled the plug" and told him that he was no longer part of our family and that he is not to contact us or visit us ever again.

    I'm sick and sad and sorry and guilty and don't know what to do or where to go. I feel like we are the only family ever to have this problem! I feel so ashamed, like we must be to blame for this, while at the same time I know that's not true, either. I do believe that John is a sociopath. The reason we finally cut him off was because we both came to the conclusion that he will not, actually, ever change. He puts up a good front - I think he can "mimic" the emotions of caring and loving very well, but when it comes down to it, it's really all an act. I have held him, sobbing, laying on the couch, and found that at that identical time, he was stealing a debit card number from me. He has repeatedly victimized my husband, even though he knows that my husband is fighting cancer himself and may not even be around all that much longer. In short, I do not think that John really has any feelings for anyone besides himself, although he is very good at appearing as if he did.

    I guess what I need to hear is encouragement to stay strong in keeping John out of our life, and also some assurance that one day I will feel happy again. Will I?
  2. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    It is so very hard, we all on this form can relate to your problems with your son. Mine is 34yo and I feel like I have been going through this forever. Mine started at a very early age and then allowed his friends to steal form me. His is alcohol and drug related.

    I also think my son has undiagnosied mental problems, definitely anti social personality traits. I have come to think of mine as a sociopath too. They are also very manipulative and will use your guilt to their advantage. Regardless what has happened in the past, you are not responsible for the life he is living now. I struggled with the guilt of having a horrible marriage that resulted in my son having a bad homelife.

    My son blames me for all of his problems and conned me out of money for months last year. If I had all of the money (and property) my son and his friends have stolen, including all of the programs and bail money, I could go one a very nice vacation.

    Please take the time to read various posts, and the many books recommended. No parent should have to cut off contact with their child, it is not the 'normal' for parents.

    BUT, many of us have come to the realization that our helping them is only making them worse. They must learn how to take care of themselves.

    I know it is hard, but we are wasy prey, and they will take advantage of us until the bleed us dry and not be bothered at all. I finally called the police to stop his 'wacked out' girl friend's harrassment. I let both of them know that I will press charges if they try to steal from me again. So he threatened suicide, and one day he may actually do it. I just know I can't deal with the threats and blame any longer.

    Be prepared for him to really act out when he knows you are serious!! If you can afford counseling it is a tremendous help. Posting here, even if it is just to vent, helps. I also keep a journal, meditate, exercise, and have many hobbies to keep me busy. It still hurts but I try to turn it over to my HP as much as I can.

    I never in a million years would have believed I would have a child like him and still be going through this so long. They are not your typical child and they are adults now. Regardless of you son's medical issues he is an adult and should be held responsible for his actions.

    (((huggs and blessings for us all)))
  3. gsingjane

    gsingjane New Member

    Thank you for the welcome, Tired! I have a question for you... I have many supportive friends, and I am used to sharing a lot of my problems and issues with them (and they with me, at least I think so). For instance, my friends have really helped me over these past three years that my husband has been struggling with cancer. I feel in so many ways, though, like this problem with John is just too shameful or embarrassing to share. It's like we have this "deep dark secret" that I don't want anyone to know about ... because when someone is a criminal, people always blame the parents. They just always do - like Nancy Lanza, Know what I mean?? Right away, everybody is saying, what did SHE do? It isn't that what John does is on a par with Adam Lanza, I know that, but I also know that people always figure that somehow the parent must be to blame. Do you struggle with that? Do you have people you're close to and do they know? I think in some ways the loneliness is one of the hardest things...

  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    gsingjane, welcome. I'm so sorry you had to seek us out, but I am very glad that you were able to find us. Yes , your story is familiar to us, thankfully we find each other here in the midst of all the chaos our kids bring us. First of all let me support you in throwing the guilt overboard, you didn't create this and you can't control it or change it, only he can and he may not. You may want to read this blurb on sociopaths\\\

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    In addition, you might want to read the article at the bottom of my post on detachment, it's helpful. Yes, I believe you did the right thing, and really, the only thing you could do under the circumstances. Staying strong is what many of us here have to do on a daily basis, so you getting the support you need to do it, becomes a necessity too. If you aren't already, you might consider therapy for you and your husband to learn coping skills, get support for your decision, feel better about yourselves and go on with your lives. I personally needed a lot of support to detach from my daughter.

    Yes, I believe you can be happy again. If you practice detachment you will land in acceptance, understanding that no matter what you do or don't do, you can't control another. All you can do is learn to respond differently and take care of yourself. Acceptance offers more peace of mind and once you attain that, joy once again becomes a part of your life. It's not an easy path, hence the support for you and your family, but learning to focus your attention on yourself and take it off of your son, is a giant step in your own serenity and health.

    You've come to the right place, we certainly understand all your feelings. There is a lot of doubt and fear, the unknown is scary and detaching from our own child is quite difficult, but you can do it, you have to do've made all the right choices thus far, I applaud you for your courage and determination. Your son is a thief and a liar, this is not behavior you would accept from anyone else and you shouldn't accept it from him. I understand your feelings on calling the authorities, but keeping him away from you and your home is a good choice however you do that. At some point, if he does not abide by your wishes you may want to get a restraining order against him to keep him away.

    Keep posting, it helps. We get it. Vent all you want. Get yourself some support. Stay strong in your resolve, you're doing the right thing. Many gentle hugs coming your way......................
  5. gsingjane

    gsingjane New Member

    Thank you so much for the warm welcome and the references. I looked at the article about sociopathy, and will also read over your post on detachment. Even at this early point I feel that I have learned a great deal from this website and from the various posts and viewpoints.

    Last night was really, really hard. John called me up, ostensibly to apologize, and the conversation proceeded exactly as it has on so many prior occasions. He started out bellicose and hostile, accusing me of "abusing him" by sending mean emails, and also stating that he had no idea why I would want to permanently sever our relationship "over $40." ($40 is the straw that broke the camel's back, that's all it is.)

    I was actually sort of amazed at how things followed exactly the same pattern; he started by belligerently defending his actions, but moved into a stunned, "how can you do this to me?" mode, then followed by copious weeping and begging. I realized that every conversation we've had about his stealing has followed this identical pattern.

    The new twist this time is that he also mentioned he'd had some medical tests and that he had also wanted to discuss the results with me, but that "now isn't the right time." I asked him outright what he had to say, since I wasn't sure how often we'd be speaking going forward, but he refused to say.

    About an hour later I just lost it; because of John's anti-rejection medications, it's true that one of these days he will probably be diagnosed with cancer, and somehow I just got convicted that's what he had to tell me. I just couldn't stop crying. I finally called my mom, who said - paraphrasing - if it IS cancer, there's really nothing you can do now anyway, and it sounds to me as if he's just trying to manipulate you. And it is certainly true, that many times (although not always), John has raised the "red flag" of his health problems to get out from under the consequences of his thefts.

    Today I am shaken, sad, but continue resolute. I am also very much enmeshed in the process of contemplation and prayer, to figure out what this all means, both now during Lent and going forward.

    Thanks for listening.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning gsingjane. Sounds like a bad night for you. I'm sorry. I think your mother is absolutely correct, your son knows exactly how to manipulate you to get what he wants from you. It may be prudent for you to limit your conversations with him, I have found that the situation will escalate as he realizes you will no longer give in to his demands. Best to keep yourself out of that and very well supported. It is wonderful that you are using contemplation and prayer. Make sure you nurture yourself, keep yourself in supportive environments, take very good care of YOU. It is time to focus your attention on yourself and the rest of your family and take it off of your son. I imagine at this point, he has used up much of the energy and joy of your lives, leaving you depleted and worn out. Don't allow that anymore.

    It is helpful to us to remember you and your story if you put a signature at the bottom of your posts, as you see we have all done. Go up on the right here and click on settings and go to signature.

    This is a challenging path for all of us. It goes against our own beliefs about parenting and what that means. However, enabling him and allowing his bad behavior only robs both of you of a healthy fulfilling life. His choices are his, regardless of his health issues. He is still responsible for his choices. He is an adult. It's good that you saw the predictable script of how he uses you, I had to see that with my daughter as well. It's hard, but that is the truth, we have to face it. You're doing a good job, stay strong, get support, take deep breaths.............many gentle hugs coming your way.........
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi, I am glad to meet you but oh so sorry it had to be on a board for this horrible subject.

    I also have a son who is a thief. I say is because he did steal from me but he hasnt stolen anything since I charged him when he was 21 but to me, he will always be a thief. Slowly I may get to the word was. He is working hard on getting there. He is about to turn 27 and showing major signs of growing up. Thankfully. As Im sure you can imagine, it was horrible to have to charge my own child with forgery but I had to stop him in his tracks. Just like you, I gave him many chances before that and he gave me the same song and dance your son does. My son also has some health issues though not to the degree your son does.

    I think you cutting ties with your son is a good thing for you to do. I think its healthy for you. He needs to learn to stand on his own two feet. He cannot continue to use you as his own personal ATM machine. You might want to do what I did after my son stole my checks. I changed all my account information and I shredded all the checks I had left and the bank stopped payment on all the checks left in the book that was stolen. I would also have any credit card companies that you have accounts with change those account numbers and put passwords on those accounts so that no charges can be made without that password. They can flag your accounts so that if someone tries to make a charge over the phone and they cant answer that password, the charge will be denied. Also set up flags on your credit reports so you know if someone tries to open new accounts. You might want to think about that service on TV. I cant think of the name right now but its the one that slams bars down in front of the teller at the bank. Im sure you know what I mean.

    It is hard when you are trying to save your identity from your own child.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    I've never seen any post with a child who both has a terrible behavioral problem and such an incredibly serious medical concern. I'll be honest...I am not sure I could just let him twirl in the wind if his life is in danger. I have no idea what I'd do, but I know I'd be thinking about that aspect with every move I made. Not that you haven't gotten excellent advice. I would normally give the same advice. Just that my mommy heart is crying for you since your child is so ill and I can't get past that part. But the others are right. He doesn't seem concerned about his own health, except to exploit it with you, and it's chilling that he is not concerned for his father. I do think, in spite of it all, the advice to cut ties is the right thing to do, since you can't help John anymore. He does have antisocial traits and I don't think that is treatable.

    Whatever you decide to do, you have our collective support. Gentle hugs and BE SURE to do nice things for yourself and your husband AND your other children...enjoy those who can and do appreciate you and don't 100% focus on this child. Maybe a good therapist could help you through all of this. With the focus on those who are kind to you and with a therapist helping you deal with difficult child...yes, you can and should be happy again. Or rather you will learn to be happy in spite of difficult child, regardless of the path his life takes. His actions and illness are out of your control and you have so many others who need you and I'm sure you have interests, hobbies and things you do for enjoyment too (maybe not enough)! DO THEM :)
  9. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    You asked about sharing my problems with my son. Many of us have had this same discussion. I was blamed for my son's behavior by the schools, police, and the legal system. I can't tell you how many times I was told, 'you have a serious problem, you need to get your out of control son under control.'


    I had my son in as many programs as I could starting at a young age. He would not cooperate in counseling, and was court ordered to rehab twice. I was also a single parent without child support, or moral support.

    It is embarrassing to have a child that blatantly disrespects you regardless where you are and who is around. I was tired of spending my vacation days and weekends visiting a son that just starts all over again as soon as he is on the streets again. My son's many times in jail were bragging rights.

    We just had a 39yo drug addict go on a burglary spree that ending in high speed chases ending in another state. He had stolen and crashed about 5 vehicles including a police car. I can't tell you how many people were blaming all of this on his parents, no one ever loved him blah...blah...blah... I hope that one day the rest of the world will understand that there is nothing you can do to turn these people around when they don't want their lives turned around!

    I discussed my son with a therapist, his sister, and my husband of 13 years. My husband is not emotionally attached so he helps me stay focused on the problem without falling apart emotionally. I do not discuss him with other members of my family because many would think I was abandoning him. It's bad enough when he gets high and posts suicidal threats on FB and other nasty posts to family members. Then EVERYONE feels obligated to call me and let me know. Exactly what they think I can do about it is beyond me.

    I was very despondent about my son for many years. I came home one day and my complete home, including clothes, was stolen. Then the last conn for money and the harrassment by his girlfriend. They had a fight and she came after him with a knife and she was sent to detox and he Baker Acted himself. I spend a lot of money then helping him relocate and look for a new job. And now, they're back together! He lies about it and now says I was harrassing her. This was the time I drew the line in the sand and said, 'NO MORE'.

    I can't do it any more, I'm exhausted! It's still hard and some days more than others, but there are also very good, peaceful days now. I do honestly think my son does still have a lot of anger and blames me for all of his problems. I helped him find therapist in his area nd he just lied and said he was going, I know he is not. Mine refuses to do anything to help himself.

    When you reach the point that you just can't take it any more you will know it and you will draw the line.

    This is a great free online book written by a family therapist about her son. It, along with other books, has helped me.

    (((huggs and blessings)))
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes when my youngest son particularly was younger we had a few family members who tended to think we were a bit lax with him. Especially his father's family. Most of that has changed now that they have a few difficult child's of their own. Tony's sister was one of the worst critics and now she is taking care of one of her grandson's and he is Cory on steroids. He makes Cory look like an angel. We just sit back and smirk. What is that old saying when someone says "my child will never behave like that?" Never say I was very lucky in that my father and step-mom always backed us up completely in everything we ever had to do with Cory. They never blamed us, at least as far as I know. If they did, it wasnt to our faces. They always made sure they sent him cards and even came down from time to time to see him if he was in a long term placement.
  11. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    First let me say welcome to the board. You have a very hard situation with a son who has such severe medical problems but who is abusive towards you also. I too think he uses his health to manipulate the situation. Sadly I agree that he most likely won't change. You cannot allow him to continue to steal from you and you do not want to call in the judicial system. So, the only thing you can do is sever your contact with him and secure yor home, possesions and credit.

    As for your other question:

    I do not share my son's story or problems with anyone anymore. When he broke my ribs in an angry outburst my own sister said well maybe he was just...blablabla. I called her out on it and she recanted but she only seemed to have sympathy for him.

    I continued to help my son after that attack I just would not let him live under my roof. He has assaulted others since then and is currently in prison for it but I still feel like my own family blames me for not being able to fix him. If you can't trust your family how do you trust that society will treat you wih compassion?

    The only people I talk to about my difficult child are husband, one of my daughters and the kind people on this board. I have lost too many "friends" over the years who were judging me if I did something to help him and others who judged me for not helping him. The history didn't matter. didn't matter that husband and I spent thousands and thousands of dollars on legal fees and treatment programs etc. It didn't matter that he stole from us, verbally abused us, beat both husband and me, slandered me to the point where I had people calling my house and cursing at me from their cars as they drove past. It didnt matter that I was still trying to rehabilitate him after all that... I was still judged. We parents of difficult children are in a loose loose situation. I learned not to trust most people and to keep it light with friends and extended family. My tales of angst are reserved for this board and safe people of whom there are very very few.

    I adopted a child no one else wanted who turned out to be a sociopath and there is little to no compassion for me or my family. I have paid for it with my health, my family happiness, my finances, and saddest of trusting and open heart. -RM
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  12. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    I also struggle about if I should tell certain people about my difficult child. These are friends who I have not seen in a long time and whose contact is limited to a phone call once or twice a year and a Christmas card. I feel funny hiding the truth, but then again feel it's a violation of his privacy. I don't know how to handle it when they ask about him.

    I believe that much of a wayward child's behavior is driven by their genetic makeup, and no much can be done about that. My nephew was a major difficult child, and is now doing well. He has a beautiful girlfriend who is a college graduate and a steady job in a union trade. At one point during his late childhood and adolescence, he was banned from our house because of his abusive behavior towards my future difficult child/son, his cousin. In and out of jail and the psychiatric ward. I kind of remember being judgemental and blaming my brother, who didn't spend a lot of quality time with the kids, leaving it to his wife. Their marriage was kind of rocky during this time. It was when they stopped bailing him out of jail, paying his fines and feeding him that he gradually stopped his difficult child behaviors and turned it around.

    I have no such illusions about my son. Never in a million years would I have thought that my nephew would turn out better than my son. It has made me humble and less judgmental. I believe we have all done the best we could under trying and very difficult circunstances. As many of the parents of the board can attest, the results of detaching and not enabling bad behavior do not always result in the desired outcome. However, the alternative is worse. Continuing to enable our wayward sons and daughters can and will result in emotional, physical and financial ruin of the enabling parents, while the difficult child's behavior stays the same or gets even worse with time. In order to have any chance of saving them, we must detach, withdraw support, and let them be who they want to be if they choose not to respect our boundaries or live up to our standards.

    You have a dilemma on your hands, Jane. Assuming your son is not self supporting, you may still have to be in contact with him in order to buy his medications and pay for his medical care. This makes detaching a balancing act. If my son refuses to go to after care, I plan to do just that, and no more.

  13. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    A long time ago, when my difficult child was small, I worked with a lady raising a 100% difficult child son. When I listened to her stories about him and her forcing him out of the house, I thought she was so uncaring and mean.

    My brother in law also told me, before his 100% difficult child was born, if he had my difficult child to raise he could straighten him out.

    The rest of the world raising children that go through the adolescent rebellions can not understand how nothing seems to get through to a true 100% difficult child.

    It has also made me less judgemental of others opinions, I just ignore them. Until they have walked in our shoes they just don't get it. Neither did I!
  14. gsingjane

    gsingjane New Member

    Oh my goodness, thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for the lovely and supportive and kind and understanding words. I finally feel like I am someplace where people understand! And for once in my life aren't judging!!!

    Our situation with John, in terms of his medical care, is that he is on my husband's health plan. John is now 23 and as most of you probably already know, with health care reform he can stay on the plan until he's 26. However, because my husband has a small firm and it isn't an incredibly generous plan, John's health care does involve substantial co-pays and deductibles. Generally speaking, those bills come to the house in John's name alone, and we had previously paid them as part of caring for him. I don't know whether we should continue to pay them. (Just to add a side note, John finished 2.5 years of college and in so doing incurred $36K in student loan debt, to which I am co-signed. We do make those monthly payments because I am co-signed, although John has a few other loans in his sole name, which he does not pay and which I have stopped paying). Between the student loan payments and the medical bills, including a very high payment for his anti-rejection medications, just those items alone are approximately $1500/month. You can see why it brought us such grief when John insisted on stealing substantial sums from us in addition.

    I am also wondering, how do you guys grapple with the concept of "forever"? My mother seems to think that I can make the decision that John should not be in my life anymore, "for good." Is that really what people do? No matter how much the person changes, there is never any going back? I guess I have a really, really hard time right now with the idea that this could be "the end." I do understand we have to get off this ill merry-go-round we've been on the past five years. I understand that we can no longer have this incredibly rapid cycle of "bad behavior, punishment, forgiveness, reconciliation, bad behavior." I understand that is a co-dependent way of relating to John, and that we have to stop it. But, really, to never speak to him again? No matter what?

    I very much appreciate the person who asked about my other hobbies and interests. I am very fortunate in that I've been able to be home with the kids since John was 10, although in the past few years I've returned to working part-time from home. I am very active in my church, sing in the choir, I am a long-time Scout leader, and my particular hobbies are reading, running, hiking, camping and backpacking. I have the not-so-secret ambition to one day thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (I've done 3 states already but only for a week at a time). And that's me!

    Thanks again for all your wonderful welcomes and words of support. If you knew how many times I have read and re-read each post!
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am very happy that you're here Jane, you've found a home here with us, a tribe of weary, wounded parents who keep each other sane in the insane world of our difficult child's. No judgment here, only compassion, empathy, understanding and broad shoulders to offer hugs.

    So, my first response to your post is that nothing is forever, I don't agree at all with your mother's assessment. We learn to take it one moment at a time, and in this moment right now, we set boundaries, we get real clear on what we can do and what we can't, what we're willing to do and what we're not. In your case, which is somewhat unique because of your sons health issues, it may take a bit more creative thinking, but the bottom line is the same, you don't put up with bad behavior that does not respect you.

    If I were you, I would talk to my husband, figure out very clearly what you feel good about helping with. There may be a monetary amount which you can deal with and feels okay to you..........I wouldn't pay his student loans, that's his. However, you might decide to help him financially with the medical bills. But, you may not too, no judgment, I think it all depends on what you feel good about. One line that helps me is that 'loving kindness feels good and enabling feels bad.' With enabling there is often resentment. Examine your willingness or lack of willingness, be honest with yourself and then communicate that to your son. Let him know exactly what you plan to do and then, and this is the important part, STICK TO IT. If you don't he will manipulate you. You have to be absolutely clear about your boundaries, these kids have a sixth sense for weakness so if you flounder, he'll be right there with the next set of manipulations. You may even begin a weaning program, you pay X amount now, which decreases each month by so much with the end result being in a year, (or whenever) he is solely responsible for his own finances. It's really all up to you. For some of us, the best we can hope for with our kids is healthy dependence, which is often related to mental illness where they really do not have the ability to develop life skills. Your son sounds as if he has all the life skills but uses his illness as a crutch to stay dependent on you. You likely have already done this, but an honest conversation with your sons primary Doctor to assess just what his limitations are, what his abilities are may be prudent. I don't know if you can do that at his age, but I would try to get as much information as I could about exactly where he is medically so I know what my options are and I can act accordingly. He can easily manipulate you with fear. And, the truth is that no matter what you do or don't do, he may suffer medical consequences that no one can help him with, and unfortunately, that is something you will have to address. Many of us here have to look at the fact that our kids may die, or something horrible may happen to them when we are not holding them up and taking care of them...........and that's true, they may awful a thought as that is, facing it is the truth, facing it and dealing with it will free you to make the choices NOW which need to be made and will keep you strong when he uses that exact fear within you as his ammunition to get what he wants from you. It's a slippery slope we parents find ourselves on, I do know how crummy that all feels, believe me, I had to face all of that with my daughter too, and it is a "personal devastation" as one wise mother here said, a personal devastation like nothing your heart ever thought it could bear. I don't mean to sound so dramatic, but this stuff hurts and I don't want you to believe that one of us here ever cruised though this without enormous fear and doubt.
    Stealing and treating you with no respect is not okay by any stretch of the imagination. You have to separate his behavior from his illness. He is sick, okay, but that gives no one license to treat others badly, he gets no pass on that. Keeping him at a distance seems appropriate. Decide how much you want to talk to him on the phone too. If it is so upsetting to you, then limit it to what YOU WANT and need. What you want, not him. He will drain you and disrupt your home and peace, so remember that and act accordingly. You've seen him go through the script, you know the outcome, so what you can do is respond differently.

    Responding differently may take some work, you and your son are in a deep pattern of behavior and it's tough to stop those. But, if you stop, he has no choice but to stop too. Once one person stops playing the game, the game ends. You have the power to stop it by simply not playing. You may need support to do that because your mothers heart will run interference and create doubts and fears in your mind which will hurt your heart and keep you stuck. That's where the support comes in, a therapist, a counselor, a parent group, some place you can go to learn new ways to respond, tools to keep you on track, ways to be able to see the antics for what they are, and separate them from the truth. It's difficult because as you now know for certain, this is not a normal landscape we all find ourselves on, this is a kind of hell that defies reason and our instincts, it pushes us to make decisions we're not prepared for but must make anyway, it makes our hearts hurt in ways that are unimaginable.................and yet we forge through and we find our way...............You've got to make yourself and the rest of your family your priority now, you've got to learn to focus on yourself and detach from your sons chaos. Or you will go down the rabbit hole with him. If at some point he respects your boundaries, respects you, you can allow him back in accordingly, all dependent on his behavior, he gets better, he is included in your family, if not, he isn't.

    No one said this would be easy or quick, but one thing is for sure, you can't continue living the way you have been. Remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. That's insanity. Sanity is finding a way through which will create peace. I'm glad you're here, I hope you keep posting and I send you truckloads of hugs and warm wishes for you to find your serenity.