And then I asked him to stop calling me.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    So you know I haven't spoken to difficult child since he got out of jail. You know that he made me a bunch of promises (and these are not things I extracted, these are things he volunteered) during the conversations that lead up to my paying his fines. I did not pay his bail, but I did pay the fines that allowed him to get out of jail earlier, not need a parole officer, and not have a record. Once he got out of jail he explained his complete lack of follow through on any of his commitments by sayin "its a holiday mom, I just want to be with my friends." and that was that. All those conversations meant nothing. They were hollow, empty, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    He didn't call me for a while after that.

    Then...I didn't want anything to do with him. I heard enough to know he had somewhere to stay. I refused all his calls (he doesn't have a phone, they are always from unknown numbers, but he calls and then doesn't leave a message, and then he immediatelly tries SO from the same phone, so I know it is he). Sometimes SO did pick up, and told him that I was not ready to speak with him. Sometimes SO asked about the status of all his plans and commitments (including his own offer to give me his ATM card so that I could use it to pay myself he put it "you would control my money, mom, till you are paid back), and, hearing repeatdly that he is overdrawn at the bank (he gets monthly SSI checks, he's been telling me he is overdrawn for 6 or 7 months now. Its like a magic excuse. Can that even happen?) , SO tells him that he needs to follow through on the things he said, and that is the end of the conversation.

    I did not answer when he called on his birthday, although I intended to answer...something in me just freezes when I think it is he on the line..I die a small death, and in doing, I keep the status quo...which is...I don't pick up.

    The other night he "drunk called" (or stoned called or altered state called) first me (I didn't pick up) then SO, then his dad at 3 AM. Just to say he missed us, and to ramble about being stoned. His dad said "its selfish to call me at this hour just to chat" and difficult child got hostile.

    So here we are. The calls faded off for a while, then escalated again. SO talks to him almost once/day, which upsets me almost as much as if I were talking to him once a day. I know he and some friends moved to a local cheap hotel, which means he got thrown out of his flophouse. No doubt they will soon get thrown out of hotel too. No doubt that is why he is calling.

    Tonight he called first me (you guessed it, I didn't pick up) and then SO. He asked to come over...SO asked if he had done any of the things he said, or if he had money (yestarday he said he wanted to come over and give me his ATM card). difficult child said no and no. SO said to wait to come over until he could answer yes to at least some of those questions.

    I feel increasingly cornered, sort of trapped by my ringing phone. I still have this intense internal revulsion against answering the phone when he calls. I've never felt it before. I should note that I have seen him a few times during this time...a couple of times begging...once I even approached him and chastised him. A few days ago I saw him smoking in an alley while I was walking home from work. He saw me too.

    So tonight I sent him a FB message...I said..(paraphrase)."It makes me really uncomfortable and unhappy when you call and hang up. It makes me uncomfortable when you call SO as well. Please, after all you have put me through, after all the hurt and abuse and disrespect, have the courtesy to leave me alone and leave me out of your mess right now. I'd love to hear from you when you get yourself together. Mom."

    Thats all. I didn't say "I love you". I don't feel it, it isn't at my lips edge, I can't choke it out. What I feel is...leave me alone. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Go away.

    It didn't make me feel any better to write that, but it did feel like something I needed to do.

    My guess is he will stop calling. He has never been aggressive with me...never demanding or even hostile...just stubbornly, persistently smilingly resistent to living up to any expectations or social norms, and on that path, he has drifted ever lower through the brackets of our society. Unlike a lot of the difficult child's we talk about here, he doesn't really seem to want to live at home, although he would like to come home sometimes. He doesn't ask me for money, although he begs, and knocks on my friends doors, and goes to the restaurants that I frequent, or those run by my friends, and asks for food. He approached a friend of his twin sister's when she was closing out the cash register at the coffee shop where she works and asked her to give him money from the register ("I mean, it isn't even yours, right"). BUt never, or rarely from me. He asked me to pay for his GED, which I did and he passed, and sometimes in the past he has asked me to buy him lunch. He did desperately want me to pay his bail. Once, during the many times he called me while he was in jail, he said "thanks for taking my calls, mom. I really appreciate that you are there for me. A lot of people here have no one." I still don't really understand that. I feel like, by his actions, he is trying to become one of the people who have no one.

    I'm rambling now, thinking him over, thinking about his fairly gentle choice to just...refuse. REfuse to participate, refuse to do his part, refuse to do school work, refuse to go to work, refuse to clean up after himslef, refuse to tell the truth EVER, refuse to stop stealing from his siblings, refuse to come home, refuse refuse refuse.

    I guess I am at the point of refusing too. It doesn't feel good. But it feels necessary. And better than some of the other choices, where I chose the Charlie Brown kicking the football move yet again. I just can't do that anymore.
  2. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Oh Echo. Even when we don't talk to them, they are still THERE. With their hangup phone calls, with their talking to others near to us, with all of these strings still attached, paying us back, not paying us back. Them---with their requests, like the GED or a ride to get a job, or a new cord for their computer so they can look for halfway houses.

    They have us right where they want us, or even if not RIGHT WHERE, they still have us.

    I so get the not wanting to take his calls. So, if you did, let's play the movie. Is there anything to be accomplished on the call? That is a question I ask periodically when I'm deciding whether or not I will take calls.

    Not taking calls is a relatively new thing for me---just a few months. I remember when I first had the thought---such a shock it was---that I could let his calls go to vm. That is when he still had a phone. Then it was texting my phone from his computer---actually a more distant way to communicate, better. Then came the days of 262 texts in one day, less the next, then more another day. Just periods and question marks.

    Then I got mad.

    A while back, some of my family members had given me money for him. I was holding it for when he needed deposits on an apartment etc. For when he was ready to start on a better path.

    That money weighed one thousand pounds. I had somebody else's money who was homeless. The burden of that money taught me never to do that again.

    And so we go. We learn slowly, slowly, what we can do, what we will do, and what we still just have to do, for right now.

    We can only do what we can live with. I see you walking that narrow ledge of trying to figure that out.

    It takes so much, so much out of us. And it never stops. That is why the quick cutoff, no communication, feels so desirable, even as we fear it and dread it. It would bring some relief, at least for a while. It would be clean and swift and without all of this endless back and forth, what is the right thing to do, woulda, shoulda, coulda.

    THEY have put us here. They have pushed us into the corner you describe and our faces are pressed against the hard wall so that we can barely breathe, but STILL, still, we still want to be in the same room at least, with our sons and daughters who we love so much.

    I don't know how to do this either. Some here are doing it, and I understand they, too, have gotten here one step, one inch at a time. This goes against everything. This is so unnatural.

    Good for you that you sent the facebook message. That helps, stating your truth. Setting the boundary again. You did it kindly and clearly. My son has never been aggressive either, not hostile or violent. He pushes hard to get what he wants---really, really hard, but when I say no, he drops it...until the next time or the next thing he comes up with.

    I also understand about the bewilderment we feel at their refusal you talk about. Refuse to participate in society. Just won't. That is not what they saw, that is not what we taught them. How do people just check out, do nothing, contribute nothing, expect other people to make their very lives happen for them? That is an impossible situation, and no good, no good, comes from it. We see that with our difficult children, why don't they see it?

    I don't know the answer here. I feel your pain, profoundly. I so understand your grief, your despair and your anger. Remember Echo, you only do what you feel is right. That is your decision and your choice. And you can change your mind at any time.

    You are right to do what you decide to do, for now.

    Just for today. Just for today. Hugs, and prayers and love and compassion flowing from me to you. I am praying for you and your precious son. There can always be a miracle, Echo. Look how much WE have changed.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh Echolette, I am so very sorry. I understand that place you find yourself in now and I know how much it hurts to be there.............I'm glad you wrote your feelings down so we can offer you some comfort through this.............

    It's so good that you are not Charlie Brown anymore, kicking that football. That is a huge, huge step, to take ourselves out of the game. Unfortunately it doesn't feel very good though. I know.

    You are taking care of YOU, that is very important and you are doing it.

    In my opinion, you are building a new pathway, taking care of you, putting what you need first, above your difficult child.............and that does feel pretty weird for awhile.

    I hope your young difficult child turns his life around. He is young, he may get to be a little older and that part of his brain which hasn't developed yet and which controls the recognition of consequences, may develop and he may be okay. Without you suffering through it of course........

    I have been at this strange process for about 14 years on and off now................since my son in law committed suicide and everything in my daughter's life blew up. I truly hope your outcome is different then mine............but in the event that you too are confronted with a grown child who, as you put it, "refuses" to be a part of the world in which you and me and most of the world lives thing that helped me was to begin to recognize that this was not only a choice my daughter was making, it was a lifestyle she wanted to live in............she perceives her lifestyle as being free, she sees herself as liberated from the working drones, her self perception, skewered as I may judge it to be, is the way she sees life............the choices she makes now, which, believe me, if I gave it any thought at all, I could judge it clear to the next universe................but that judgement brought on so much more suffering, so much more pain for me.............I had to stop being embarrassed by her actions............I had to stop criticizing her choices, stop blaming her, stop resenting her, stop all of the negative feelings I was having pretty much all the time................and ECHO, I know that's a big tall order when it's your kid doing all of this. I know.

    That's where the spiritual path I mentioned on another thread came in. That concept of not judging and not comparing............detaching from the outcome..........looking at it as she has her own path, she has her own lessons, it doesn't have anything to do with me anymore............she is an adult...............choosing to live as she lives............And, ECHO, I know your son is only 20, but he made a clear choice to stay on the streets, to live a very unusual brother (who is schizophrenic) lived on the streets of L.A. for years and years...........he told me that there is a whole community of folks out there.............who choose to live that was remarkable to me............he had a whole family who would help him, but he didn't ask, he stayed 'out there'. He felt accepted 'out there'............he never felt accepted anywhere but 'out there.' That still makes me sad to remember that about him.

    I don't know if this is helping or not, I hope so. The only thing you can do is to work on YOU, to look at your suffering over him and try with an open heart to find the places in yourself which are still expecting or needing him to show up a different way then he have to look at those and let those go.............he is not who you want him to be, he is who he is..............all you can do is create those boundaries around the behaviors which harm you............and continue to love him without the judgement, without the comparisons to others, those will harm you. And, ECHO, I do know how hard this is, I do. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life. And, it's one step at a time too, one pretty tiny step at a time as a matter of fact. You are where you are, today that is the way it is............with each little let go, with each step, with each level of acceptance we muster up, we feel better about ourselves and then about difficult child too.

    It's hard to keep that distance, but I think if that feels right to you to do, then it is the right thing for you to do. I think we need that distance to make the changes in us that are necessary so that we can learn to live in peace even though our kids have made choices which we may never understand or condone...........but we have to grab our own lives and continue to live too. While you are keeping away, I believe your brain and your heart are 're calibrating' .............your brain is building new neuropathways............the old ones cause pain, so new ones need to be takes time...............there are many tears and much wringing of the hands..........your heart needs to mend some, to shed the part which used to believe you could fix anything in regard to your children. You can't fix this.

    Hang in there ECHO, we continue to circle the wagons around you..............sending you gentle hugs and many wishes and prayers for your peace to shine through your pain..............
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  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Echo, Child and Recovering have given such great advice and support. I love this site.

    It doesn't feel much like it, I know, but by refusing his calls, you are engaging in the kinds of behaviors that will help your son see things more clearly. If you take his calls now, you are condoning years of betrayal to come, years of forgiveness "just this once" (more), and ultimately, total lack of respect for self or mom.

    You have to stay the course, Echo.

    That your son continues to call, that you refuse to take the calls, is the one honest piece of relationship left between you and your son.

    That, and that you confronted him at the restaurant where he was begging.

    I liked your courage in having done that so much that I told my husband about it.

    I wish I had known to approach the problem this way when my kids were young enough for it to matter. This is what that mom would do, Echolette, that mom I am always talking about. She would not even consider speaking to her son until he had met the rules she put in place for the sake of her son's own integrity.

    It is like when he was a little boy in time out. It would have been easier for you to have let him out, to have let the time out be over. You left him there for his sake. It is the same thing, here. Your son knows the minimum of what he needs to do to have relationship with you. In a way, his calling without having done that is a test, Echo.

    I wish I could know words to help you heal and make you so strong. These kids seem to want to wear us down for the pleasure of seeing us powerless. Eventually, we compromise, because we love them, and so desperately want them to be okay.

    You are strong enough to do this, Echo. Most importantly, you are strong enough to do this without bitterness.

    You are strong enough to do this Echo, without bitterness or anger.

    You cannot control one thing this son you love so much does or does not do. His life is on his timetable, now. But you can interact with him as necessary without growing bitter, without growing of a thick, horny shell for protection, without need of a place to hide.

    It won't be easy Echo, but you can do that.

    I am sorry, I know it's not enough, but given that this is the path your son least you do have us.

    I am working so hard on trying to see things that way. That I am surviving the things my child chose against everything I did to create a different reality for him or her.

    So, I am so glad to have this site. I think I am actually getting in touch with that anger I have been so careful not to see where my kids are concerned. It's horrifying how much of it there is. You need to keep your anger focused where it belongs too, Echo. It's in a mother's nature to take the brunt of the responsibility for what her child does.

    We need to be so careful to make that line of separation, to acknowledge anger without falling prey to it. Nothing the kids are doing makes sense; none of their values look remotely like anything we taught them about life, or about themselves ~ or, about us.

    But that doesn't mean we need to change to accommodate their values. You are right. Your son is wrong.

    This is the hard time.

    It will pass.

  5. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Child, thank you for that image..that works for me..that is what I see all of us doing. And the image of having my face pressed against the wall, suffocating. Even in his absence I feel that. It is amazing, isn't it? I gave him so much control.

    I am trying to make this about me now. My path to being more whole. My path towards letting go, of him, of me, of SO, of my other kids, of craving and of fear. I can see that he is a sticking place...a big one! My sister used to tell me that the path to greater intimacy (she was talking about relationships with her husband, but it is true of relationships with ourselves as well) is guarded by dragons...that passing through the gate to the next level is terrifying, dangerous, full of flames and roaring. I think that is true. I think that is where I am now. I think I will grow from this.

    Recovering, thank you for your often repeated lesson of this...Child, Cedar, you have said it too. It is true. difficult child likes his life (mostly) he is proud of his resourcefulness, proud of his lack of needs, proud of not taking from me. He was proud when he was living in one of the city parks in a tent. He has turned down my offer to buy him food more than once (although believe me he has often asked me for food, money, tickets (to rock concerts! what?) as well..this is not a pure stand he takes. But Recoverings daughter and brother, difficult child...likes his life better his way. I get that now (sometimes). On the other hand, sometimes he calls me with his voice breaking and says "mom, things haven't been going well" and then he tells me about all the lies he told me so I would think he was managing well...oh wait...which are the lies? I can never tell. But the fear and grief in his voice at those times is heartbreaking.

    I guess I would do well to remember...fear and grief are part of life. My sweet protected teenage boys feel it, safe in my house. My independent college daughter feels it (mom I am so sad, Ryan broke up with me, I wish you were here...). I feel it. Maybe I react to proufoundly when he expresses it because it seems so....hopeless. Like he is confessing what I already knew...but..maybe it is just the same kind of grief, the parcel of life. It just seems more AWFUL coming from him. I haven't had that thought before...I am going to try to hang on to it.

    Like your brother, Recovering, I do think he feels better "out there" than he does at my house (ha! I didn't call it home!). Part of my work is to understand and really feel that that is so, and that honestly, that is probably forever. It has been 2 1/2 years now.

    Right. I may print that and post it on my wall today. That is my work now. It will help me with the anger, and, I hope, also the despair. It will help me to let go.

    Cedar, thank you for that validation. That is so correct, so true...and such a startling thought to me!!! I always drift towards seeing difficult child as clueless, sad and wounded and confused when I turn away. I feel tears well up even as I type that...I so don't want him to feel sad and wounded...but you are right!!! Of COURSE he knows the minimum of what he needs to do! and that doesn't include daily hang up calls.

    Yes, that is what we are all trying to do. Survive that reality. Not drown in grief or fear or anger or whatever our emotional modality is (all of them, probably). Not lose our own sweet days in obsessing and perseverating and trying to manage and control. Finding joy, finding peace, preserving love--for difficult child and for all the innocent others around.

    Child, Recovering, kind sisters on this awful journey. I can see you putting your thoughts out there , thinking as you write "maybe this way of saying it will land? maybe this phrase will sooth her, help her see a new way, make her feel better" I can see you reflecting on your own lives, and sharing with such generosity, so I never feel like the pitiful "oh poor Echo" loser, but a woman in the company of other seekers. I love other seekers.

  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Echo, you've already received so many wonderful words of wisdom, that I don't really feel I can add value by adding to them.

    The only thing I think I can add is validation. My difficult child was on a sad-mad-bad road for a very long time. During those dark years, I simply stopped having anything to do with him. I didn't phone or take his calls, ignored text messages, didn't visit, absented myself from the house when he visited, forbade any overnight get the idea. I think my total absence finally lit a fire in his head -- if you want mom in your life, you had better adhere to her standards of how to treat her, how to treat your siblings, how to behave under her roof. What he gets up to in the world is his affair. Occasionally, when he asks, I offer advice of the "Well, I would handle it this way, but you're a resourceful fellow and you'll figure it out" (Many times I skip the "I would handle it..." part).

    Slowly, very slowly, we are rebuilding our relationship. As adults. It will likely take years and years (if ever) before we're as close as we used to be, but at least he's in my life now and I'm in his.

    I froze him out for nearly 5 years to get to that point. It was so very hard, but it got easier with each passing day. And letting him back in after that absence has been easier too.

    Many gentle hugs, my friend, as you walk this path.
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  7. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    validation helps. Some one who has walked a similar path helps. I feel weird about refusing it is something I have to fact, other than SO, the forum is the only place I've said it "out loud". So hearing that others have made the same choice, that it played out over years, that you survived...that is very helpful.

    Validation is the key word in so many ways. Our difficult child's refuse to validate us...often we are people who have contributed to that in other relationships in our lives, where we move, invisible, helpful, superior in our lack of neediness...unseen. Being seen and being validated is crucial to our sense of selves, and we have either thrown it away with both hands, or allowed people to invalidate our sense of selves...especially our difficult children.

    So thank you, Trinity, for giving me that.

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  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Echo, how are you doing?

  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Seeing them as grown men instead of precious chubby babies in all of their pictures all over our houses...that is another step we have to take on this journey. When we see that, instead of the men (yes, men!! at least chronologically) they are, we are NOT seeing clearly. We are not looking at what is.

    When we are in a weaker state, for whatever reason, tired, sad, scared, too cold outside, whatever, we revert back to our old ways. Habit.

    When we have our stuff together and have had a better night's sleep, and the sun is shining, and one or two other things are going well, we can dig deep and look hard at reality. We are then ready for change. It takes a lot of resources to change, and we can't expect ourselves to be taking steps forward every single day. We have to rest in our change for a while, then we can be ready to move forward again.

    Yes, that is so, so, soooooooo hard. It goes again our mommy hearts. It goes against our DNA.

    I am thinking seriously of not being here Friday night, Echo. I have been reading that idea from several and today it came to me that that idea is a real possiblity and something to consider. I called my older son who will be here and suggested he stay somewhere else---gave him a couple of ideas.

    I will put my son's things out on the front porch, along with a blanket, and I will not be here. Dealing with it all in the clear light of day---if necessary---on Saturday will be vastly preferable. Much better for me.

    Just moving toward that idea, I am feeling even more relief and the rightness of it. I would never have thought of it without this site. I would have thought I HAVE to be here and I would just have to take the hit.

    Well, I don't HAVE to take the hit, Echo. I can protect myself. You don't have to take the hit. You can protect yourself.

    That is what we are doing, and that is very healthy behavior.

    Yay us!
  10. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Cedar, Child, thank you for checking in...I actually feel better. difficult child hasn't tried to reach me in 5 days...nor has he called SO. In the past I would have started flipping out...usually 3 days was my limit for starting to panic, is he dead, hurt, unconscious, beaten up, lying under a bridge (none of these things have ever happened). should I call emergency rooms, police, his friends (when he was 17 I would call police). Once in one of these episodes my SO went out in the night like a cat burgler, with black clothes, a flashlight, and a gun, and searched all the sites...under the bridge, in the park. He walked down alleys, and tried back doors. He actually jumped over a chain link fence and found the back door to an apartment building in a very nice neighborhood open...went up the unheated fire steps...and found a bunch of blankets, mattresses....and the cupcakes from my youngest son's bar mitvah, which had happened jsut a few days earlier. difficult child hadn't come to the bar mitvah, although he had said he would (actually SO went out on the streets searching for him then too....tried to lasso him in but failed). difficult child and a bunch of other people were living in the stairwell of a fancy apartment building, 10 blocks from my house. By choice.

    So I knew he was alive.

    As I write I realize I don't really appreciate SO enough..but that is another story.

    The point is..I feel lighter, freer. I would NEVER have felt that way in difficult child's complete absence before. Even in his absence I had to control the frequency of acceptable contact. I had my own internal rules that I applied. Now..even though we have 12 inches of snow and freezing rain, even though it is February, even though I have reason to believe that he is not in any kind of stable is OK. It has to be OK.

    One of my younger sons asked me the other day if I was OK, if something had happened to difficult child. I said I am feeling down, but no, nothing has changed. To which he replied...that is even sadder. It means he affects you all the time.

    That gave me some food for thought.

    So today is sooooo sunny! SO gave me helium balloons, one tied to my coffee cup. The perfect, lighthearted valentines gift. I have another day of relief under my belt.

    I wish the same for all of you, my friends.

    Thank you for checking on me.
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I wish we could check on you in person, Echo. Like a neighborhood watch or something. Just for an instant, just to really be there, warm and breathing and able to feel what you feel because we have been there, too.

    I love the Valentine's balloon on your coffee cup. That's perfect!
    I hope the coffee was delicious, too.

    I love coffee.

    Your SO is very brave, to have gone into the homeless areas like that. He must love you, and difficult child, very much. It made me sad, to read about the cupcakes.

    My daughter was homeless last winter, Echo. She lived through twenty and thirty below zero nights, and survived a three day blizzard. She called, crying and cold, just before the blizzard hit. She wanted a hotel room. Said her feet were freezing. We said no. She kept calling and we turned off the phone. The next morning, we felt so strung out we decided we would detach after we got home, and pay for a room for her, for now. Turned out she had been blacklisted. There was nothing we could do.

    The homeless people...I don't know how they do it. But mostly, they do manage to form little communities. Our daughter said they check on each other, note who is missing, search until they find him or her.

    I hope this helps, Echo. Last winter was such a desperate time for us. Between the violence and the drinking, the drug use and the cold, we were sure she was going to die. She was in Intensive Care twice last winter, once or twice, last summer. One of those times was from the accident. The other three were drug or alcohol overdoses.

    She came through it, Echo.

    She sounds like such a hardened, terrible person. She isn't, Echo. She's alot like me. She has four kids. It's heartbreaking. Two and years ago at this time, she was an excellent math teacher, committed to and so caring of, her students.

    These things helped me:

    It helped me to envision her in the palms of God's hands. It helped me to repeat the Serenity Prayer, especially when I had trouble sleeping. It helped me to know there was a shelter available, and that she could have gone there, but refused. It helped me to post here...but mostly, nothing helped.

    I made it through, Echo. You will make it through this terrible, rotten, stinking, pointless, stupid time, too.

    I'm so sorry this happened to you, Echo.