Anger versus hurt

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by AmericanGirl, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Last night, difficult child posted the following on FB. "I hate the holidays! It reminds me of the fact I don't have any family and I'll just be alone for them again." <--- HUH?!?!?

    He got responses of people inviting him to have T'gving with them, etc. All these people, of course, have never met me.

    I posted, "Why don't we go to Disney World?" He deleted it.

    One of my closest friends posted, "difficult child, your mother loves you very, very much. She is always thrilled to spend time with you...etc., etc." difficult child removed the entire post.

    It made me really think a lot about why he would post that - so I started writing out my feelings. I sent a longer version of what I've added (below) to my sponsor. He sent me a lot of great helpful ideas and said it helped him think through his own feelings about his addict.

    So, I'm sharing it here in case it helps anyone else and/or anyone has thoughts.

    Today's insight - If I changed my reaction to difficult child's jabs from hurt to anger, I would be more peaceful.

    When I hurt, I try to fix things.
    When I'm angry, I put boundaries in place.
    I need more boundaries.
    How do I stop being hurt?

    I cannot fix him.
    His addiction/disease/whatever belongs to him alone.

    When he was young, I remember creating a consequence for him that I termed, "kicking it out of play." Whenever I set a boundary that he refused to follow, the item in question would disappear. For example, when he refused to stop throwing food waste in his garbage can in his bedroom (and thus attracting ants), I simply got rid of the garbage can. Problem solved.

    Now, I should kick myself out of play. I believe he is discharging his anger on me. If I'm not available, hopefully he will end up processing his anger in an appropriate way. Whether he does or not, I'm in a better place.

    This is HIS LIFE - HIS PATH - not mine.

    While it breaks my heart to see him where he is, I did nothing (either by act and/or failure to act) to create this situation.

    His choices are not my fault nor my responsibility.

    Intellectually, I understand addiction is a disease, it doesn't excuse him from all his behaviors. Last I heard, abusers didn't suffer from a disease. It is becoming clearer to me that his behavior towards me is, at times, abusive.

    I must now take control of my relationship with difficult child. I've allowed him too much control over my decisions and emotions. He often says things to me which I know are attempts to control me. He throws up his chances of relapse and then tries to tie that to my choices in some fashion.

    I understand that I am allowing my fears of his addiction and the possible consequences to make decisions for me.

    Fears won't ever keep him safe. Fears will only hurt me.


    I ended with a list of the things I will do, such as drawing specific boundaries for difficult child, etc.

    The last item was this:

    8. Make a list of positive things I can do whenever I feel hurt, angry and/or afraid.

    Here is part of my sponsor's reply:

    You should have a list of things or even poker chips with fun things written on them, one side should be call me or ###, the other should be something you enjoy. You get the idea, call someone who loves you and thinks you hung the moon, as well as getting a cookie. Nothing can withstand good friends and a cookie.

    Remember no decisions should be made in anger, I feel that a cool off period should be utilized whenever he contacts you.

    We both know that his basic needs are taken care of at the sober house, they are the people that handle this type of addiction daily. We are too damaged to help the addict and help ourselves at the same time. It is too many balls for us to juggle at once. Please take care of yourself and help him as you feel comfortable. But help him for your peace of mind, not for his comfort.

    React for your comfort, not his. I cannot stress this enough.

    Personally, I think his advise was dead-on right.

    We talked a long time tonight about writing out my feelings. I actually went and bought red pens to use in an attempt to process my anger at difficult child. (Makes me think of Taylor's Swift's new song, "Red"

    Just wondering if anyone else has thought about their anger at their difficult child versus their hurt and fear.
  2. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Hi AG,

    In regards to what your sponser wrote...

    "Please take care of yourself and help him as you feel comfortable. But help him for your peace of mind, not for his comfort."

    Reminds me of when my oldest difficult child was threatening suicide, etc. when he was in jail before being transported to prison for theft while he was on Meth. I often left feeling angry, anguished, and used up. I was trying so hard to be a comfort for him and be supportive all the while that he went through these consequences. My deep pain and the tears would often lead to panic attacks.

    I finally talked to my sponser about this and she told me to "Check Your Motives". She told me that I should only go see/give/write etc Oldest difficult child as a GIFT...with NO expectation behind it.

    I think this is where I have gotten myself into trouble so many times in the past because I HAVE given "gifts" with an expectation behind them, sigh. That leads to resentment.

    It's hard AG...Of course we want to show/express our love for our children...especially when it looks like their hurting. But unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) they don't necessarily want us to "lift them up" anymore. And our attempts to prove how much we love them...are often met with use/abuse.

    It's so hard to parent a difficult child/addict...for sure!!!
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I needed this right now in the worst possible way.
  4. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Great post AG. My experience is that in many ways Mad is better than Sad. When I am angry it spurs me to action.... spurs me to not enable my difficult child, spurs me to take care of myself, spurs me to move on with my life. When I am feeling sad or hurt I often feel kind of immobilized. It is harder for me to pull myself up when I am feeling so much hurt... and so I am learning to not dwell on the sadness or hurt. I do feel it but I cant stay in that spot for long or it ruins my whole day.

    I have gotten to a place where I am not angry right now either. Of course my difficult child is not lashing out at me right now he is just not communicating much.

    But the focus has to come back on what feels right to you? I now look at the few things I do for my son (like recently getting him a backpack for his birthday) as to how I feel about it. If it makes me feel good, if it gives me some comfort then I do it.... if it doesnt then I don't.

    The other thing I have come to is that I always want to leave the door open, even if it is only a crack. So when my son has been nasty or whatever I may not respond in the moment, but I dont get rigid about it. I will wait a few days and then maybe reach out.

    I think on FB he is doing a poor me thing to his friends, and he is going to delete posts by you that point out to his friends he is not really as bad off as he is making it sound. I think that is less about rejecting you and more about putting out this image to his friends. Why they do that I have no idea but my difficult child has done the same sort of thing. In general I think you are better off private messaging him on FB than putting something on his wall. That way you can say something to him privately that the whole world wont see. It is hard to deal with their anger but that may be part of his process.... I think it is important (and sometimes feels impossible) not to take their anger personally.

  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Very relevant AG. Just last week I led our parent support group on a discussion on anger. It was worried because bringing up this subject just reminded me of all the things I was so angry about and have somehow come to terms with, but it was healing. There was a time when difficult child had just relapsed and was living with her drug friends that I was so angry I couldn't function. My anger was so close to the surface that it erupted anytime and anywhere. I was at the grocery store during this time and saw my neighbor and started to cry telling her the story and asked her to pray for me that God would take away this anger because it was overwhelming me.

    Through my recovery I came to realize that my anger was really fear. I was afraoid that difficult child would never recover, that she would never be able to support herself, that she was making choices with her life that could never be undone, that she would do unspeakable things to support her habit, that her life would be in danger, that she may die, or that I would die and she would have no one left in the world to help her. That made me react with anger as if that anger would cause her to act differetly. It didn't. I was finally able to start releasing some of that anger and accept it for what it was, a manifestation of my fear. It was easier for me to deal with it when I put it in that perspective.

    So it's interesting that for you accepting the anger is more helpful than the hurt and I agree that I had to go through that anger also because the fear at that time would have been even more overwhelming and I wasn't able to deal with it at the time.

    I know how you rmommy heart hurt seeing those fb posts. When my difficult child was living with her drug friends she posted that she now had a new family and that her old family were horrible mosters that kicked her out and that we never loved her or cared about her anyway. I too posted back to her and she deleted it. Fortunately some of her old friends saw it and told her they felt bad for her family because of how she was treating us. Of course it never made an impression on her at the time. I do believe they enjoy having people feel sorry for them.
  6. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    That sums is up beautifully. I am bookmarking your post AG.

    I have never (and never will get over) gotten past the pain of my child rejecting me. Rejecting the life we worked so hard to give him. Rejecting the values we thought we instilled in him. Rejecting HIS FAMILY. To chase what he thinks is freedom...but is really the freedom to use drugs.

    He did it within a month of going away to school. His very first step in independent living was to JUMP (not fall) into this abyss. And it hurts. And when it hurts, I stew and I simmer and it turns into anger. And I am not sure anger is good for me. Because I don't manifest it on difficult child, it usually comes to roost on my H after it has reached the point of boiling over. And I know that's not good either.

  7. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    I get sooooo much from your sharing! THANKS!!
  8. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Sig - I have been thinking about your post.... and I really need to respond. I think you are taking your difficult children actions very personally which I totally understand, but i think his actions are much less about rejecting you than trying to find and explore his own path. This is a normal part of growing up and separating from parents, and I see it in my easy child daughter and you probably see it in your easy child son.

    The problem is our difficult children do it in such dramatic self destructive ways that it drives us crazy with worry, where as we can probably look at the ways are PCs separate with a sense of humor. Yet in many ways it is a similar process, only our difficult children are doing things that we really disagree with or disapprove of.

    My son is homeless and I believe living by panhandling. The idea of living on the street begging goes against everything I was brought up with, and the values I brought him up with. I believe in working hard and moving forward in life, not depending on handouts, and doing nothing but getting high. And yet for now this is what he is doing. It feels crazy to me. Yet I am not taking it personally (any more). It is his life and his choice and those choices have little to do with me (except that I wont give him money to live that life). He is not thinking about rejecting me to do what he is doing. I dont think your son is either... he is living the life he wants for now and any behavior that is rejecting of you is because he thinks by behaving that way he can manipulate you into getting something he wants, or he is lying to protect himself from your disapproval.

    I think you will feel more peace if you can find a way to let go of this feeling of rejection. I firmly believe that as he finds his own way he will come back to you, and I think you want to leave the door open to him when that happens.

  9. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Well, TL - point taken. On the surface. Because he has - in a sense - returned to us. We are his official "hometown" crash pad. He was here for 3 weeks over the summer, for a week in September, for 3 weeks in October and returns "sometime this weekend" for (I think) the duration thru the holidays.

    I am not defending myself. Please -- I need you to understand that.

    I am just showing you my secret self. You'd never know it if you met me.

    On the outside, I am going with the flow. Letting it all roll. Oh - "have fun, difficult child." "Text us when you get to (wherever it is you are going, a concert, North Dakota, Mars)" "Text us when you leave(for the next place)" "Text us when you get to the (next place)" I can almost recite the phrases to detach in order. "How nice!" "I am so sorry to hear that" (in response to "I am short on cash") "I hope that works out for you" (in response to I can't enroll because I am still in arrears; leading to "I am underpaid")and my latest; "It sounds like you have a plan"... He wants us to be proud of him. He talks the talk. He just won't walk the walk.

    What I want to shout at the top of my lungs is "YOU IDIOT, do you think we're stupid?" "How's that pot working out for you?"; "The shortest distance from point A to Point B is a straight line!" ... which of course leads back to "What the heck are you smoking...?" (please know I don't shout it, I swallow it)

    So, I won't be at peace until he is safe and sound and on planet Earth both physically and metaphorically. And apparently, that won't be anytime soon. He is feeding us a line of bull. I am pretty sure of it. I am not sure if he is trying to kid us or trying to kid himself. But those odd weeks he is sleeping under my roof? I know he is safe and sound. Those other weeks when he texts me to let me know he has "arrived or "just left" wherever the heck it is he is going? I know he is not fleeing us in fury. And somehow I am treading the rough water glad I am not (no longer?) drowning. I know what I had 2.5 years ago. I know what I had 1 year ago. And tonight, I know he is heading back to us thru a patchwork of rides and buses. Not the life I imagined for him. Not the life his easy child brother is leading - easy child's plane tickets are in hand for the holidays; his mid term grades a solid 3.0 . difficult child is so far away from the way we raised him, unrecognizable from the person he was for 18.5 years. But yet he is so much closer to us than he was just 6 months ago.

    So, today's unease is preferable to the terror and FEAR I had not too long ago. Yet, unease is a long way from peace. I fear I am ostriching or treading water but I know that unease is better than isolation. Inside - as a parent - I feel like a fraud. If I saw you at the grocery store, I'd tell you that difficult child is just sowing his oats, living the life. I'd smile as I shrug my shoulders; and I would look to the heavens in a "who knows?, "boys will be boys" gesture. But since I won't see you in the grocery store, I will admit HERE that I am terrified and hurt by the life he has chosen to live. It is completely foreign to the way he was raised and to the boy he once was. And I struggle to understand how or why he has chosen such a long, hard, rocky, STUPID road.

    I don't mean to be a pollyanna
  10. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Hey Sig, this is all a process. I have absolutely no doubt that on the outside you are loving, appropriate and supportive of your difficult child!! I have always gotten that from your posts. I really was referring to the inside stuff.. that feeling of rejection, that lack of peace, that feeling you will never feel at peace while your difficult child is not doing well and is not safe.

    Believe me I have been exactly in the place you are talking about. I guess though that our situations are a little different. I have been going through this since my difficult child was 14 and he is now 21. My difficult child has always been a difficult child. So I have had a lot more time to go through this process. I always felt happier and better when my son was in treatment and I knew he was safe and he has had a lot of treatment... and has left a lot of treatment.

    Luckily I found a wonderful parents alanon support group that has helped me a lot in the last couple of years. One thing I have realized is that my son may never recover, he may never be safe.... and really I cannot wait any longer to live my life and to be happy myself and to find some peace..... because if I just keep waiting for him to get better to feel peace, I may never feel peace and may never feel happiness! That is the hard reality I am living with.

    All of this has gotten me to a different place. Believe me I still worry about him, I still check FB multiple times a day to see if there is any message from him to me or to anyone. I find it hard not even knowing for sure he is alive... and when I see a message it helps me feel better. Right now I am in that tough spot of seeing nothing for days and I dont know where he is, what he is doing or if he is even alive. I have to work not to let my imagination run away with me and take me down a very dark alley of despair.

    BUT I have realized that the kid has now been on the streets for 2 and a half months... he has learned how to survive with no help from us (except for the backpack). He knows we love him and he is choosing not to get help or get into recovery. That is his choice and I can do nothing about it. I have done absolutely everything i can at this point and it really is up to him. He knows we love him and he knows he can call us. I am not angry anymore although at times i shake my head at his stupidity... and I dont understand why he does the things he does or makes the choices he makes.
    It really just is what it is.

    And through all this I am letting go. As I said somewhere else I have no idea what the outcome will be. I sure hope it is a good one but I am no longer fantasizing about it one way or the other.

    It wasnt all that long ago that I felt I could be ok but I could not be happy as long as he was in trouble. Now I am finding happieness and some peace... not total peace I will admit. But I am enjoying my life again, I am enjoying this time with my easy child, I am enjoying time with friends and with husband.... i once again feel that skip in my step and feel joy.
    I feel all these things even though my son is across the country, homeless and panhandling and using who knows what kinds of drugs. I no longer take his actions personally.... they are not a reflection of me or even how he feels about me. They are because of his own demons which I did not cause... and he is the one who has to find his way out.

  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Reading this thread has triggered a retrospective of easy child/difficult child morphed into difficult child. Just like the addiction experts say about the addict I believe the parents are fluid as well. It may be that we are fluid to assure our survival and hope that, in turn, it indirectly influences our difficult children.

    I have found this year that I very rarely fear for difficult child's safety. We do have a closer than usual relationship and I have been spared demonstrations of anger or emotional attack (with one exception emotionally). We see each other almost every day and it is standard for him to give me a hug or tell me he loves matter who is around, lol.

    on the other hand I still can't truly wrap my head around who he is compared to who I anticipated him to be. I don't allow myself to dwell on it because I know I have alot to be grateful for but...maybe it's just the "snob" in me that makes me shake my head when I realize that his SO is someone I would never seek to be around, his friends are almost all unemployed and surviving on the system etc. etc. I'm thankful he is no longer an active alcoholic. But he is a daily pot smoker...or evidently nightly smoker BUT "only at home". Goodness Gracious.

    I've done a good job of detaching and I'm proud of that but it's fluid. Sometimes I just don't do as well as others. I am thankful that we have each other in the SA forum. This is the only place I just write freely what I'm thinking and it does alleviate alot of stress. DDD
  12. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    I am thankful for this forum and for all of you. We need and deserve a soft place to fall and friends who listen, share and support.

    Al-anon has been a lifeline to me. Through its teachings, I understand my serenity depends only upon MY actions. difficult child cannot take it, only I can give it away. I'm not perfect at it but, am getting better all the time.

    When I was trying to get pregnant with difficult child, I told God I knew any child He sent me would always belong to Him but would be entrusted to me to raise. I think God is holding me to that promise.

    So...if difficult child wants to be stupid, me coming along for the ride helps no one. I'm trying to stay as far out of it as possible. I have his Facebook feed hidden, friends know it and will alert me if there is a post I need to act upon. My cell stays quiet if he calls or texts ... Now I don't jump when the phone rings. He can get through, but I only see it when I pick up my phone. I'm trying hard to only contact him every few days and to keep it light. Hard? Yes but then I remember 'don't dial pain' and I put the phone down.

    Interesting that more activities and friends have found their way into my life since difficult child went to rehab. As a divorced woman without much family (who aren't addicts), I was afraid I would be lonely at ths stage. Sure, that happens sometimes, but all in all it has been much better than I could have dreamed.

    NONE of this means I don't love my son with all my heart. I do. I also love myself. I figure I am much better off detaching in love and trying to live my life than anything else I can imagine.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    AG it really does like you have come a very long way. I'm so happy that you are no longer living in that God awful "state of alert" anticipating/fearing the ringing of the phone, a knock on the door, the sound of a siren. So many of us have lived that way for years and watched our own physical and mental/emotional health slide down the tube. You are in a much healthier place and I am very glad. Hugs DDD
  14. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ditto what DDD said. The wonderful thing about this forum and al-anon and any of the support groups out there is we get to see everyday the transformation that happens when we get healthier, when we stop living for others and start living for ourselves. It doesn't mean we love our difficult children any less. It just means that we are taking care of ourselves. Like they say in my support group...miracles happen here every day!
  15. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I have my days where I feel sorry for myself - after my easy child/difficult child turned easy child grew (got scared out of) the drug phase I actually thought my difficult child from birth would too.

    My sister said he put me through hell and I agree. I was not able to have children after my first (surprise!) and after a large family of sisters I wanted a boy desperately. Raising a demading child on my own while working was difficult to say the least. He is so much like his father it is scary - nature or nuture - I am not sure - may be both. I had to work to get us out of poverty and he has said he raised himself many times - may be I would have been better off to have gone on welfare. I have a gut feeling that he would only find another excuse for his life style.

    I am dissappointed in his life choices - but I accept that they are MY expectations for his life, and not his. My son seems to not be able to get his life stable, in fact it just contiues to get worse! He is 34 and thinks I should write him a check when ever he texts. He does not call - he could collect - so there is no excuse. I really have no idea where he is and apparently he wants it that way.

    When my difficult child was 14 he was panhandling and living in the woods. He does not want that life style - but he still wants to use drugs, alcohol, and attend every concert he can. He also plans to get his 4 year degree, the fact that he has no means of support has not occured to him.

    I am not sure if my son has mental problems from years of drug and alcohol abuse (at a very early age) or it is simply he is still abusing that makes him act and think the way he does. He is extremely immature and lives in the moment with no thought of the future. He has had many chances and is very intelligent, but is and always has been a follower. He has only had a few easy child friends and they don't stay around long.

    I tried the optimistic, so glad to hear from you, look how far you have come in the year, ignore the fact that you never call holidays and do not know when my birthday is. It hasn't worked and he isn't trying to get his life under control.

    I have no idea what will become of my son's life, I do know that he will not contact me in any way if I do not give him money. I may never hear from my son again, he is on a dangerous road, and I feel he is getting to the age where he came to the crossroads and took the wrong path and can't find his way to a safer path. It was always so sad to see the older men in rehab complaing that their families did not want any contact with them. They don't understand how draining it is for your life to revolve around their drug use.

    I am so working on acceptance, living in the moment, thankful for the wonderful things I have in my life, there are so many. It is sad for me to finally accept I can not help him, but I have a life too, and until he gets 'clean and sober' I don't think he will be around very much. His addicition has taken control again, I pray for him, and go on with my life.

    Peace for us all.
  16. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I am struggling with all of this right now. I find each of your posts to be insightful and from the heart. I pray each day that I can detach from my sons behavior and poor choices.
  17. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    This is exactly what I am striving for. You are my role model in detachment AG!!! Don't dial pain - I sooooo need to remember that one....