Beyond selfish

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Sherril2000, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. Sherril2000

    Sherril2000 Active Member

    Sometimes I really just am so hurt by my son that I don't know where to turn. He called me late last night from the jail. He told me when he gets out he knows he will "just go back to what I was doing before because I'm gong to be a felon and I won't be able to get a job to buy all the things I want." I have offered to pay for him to go to some type of vocational program and assured him if he becomes a good mechanic, or welder... he can still get a job even with a felony. But of course, he tells me he's not interested in going to school. He knows telling me he's "going back to his old ways" upsets me terribly. I ended up in the emergency room this morning with angina. When he wanted to know why I wasn't answering his calls this morning, I told him I was in the ER and he couldn't care less. Told me I "was acting some kind of way" so he would talk to me tomorrow. Just when I dare to hope that he's actually doing better, he always does something to hurt me.
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  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Sherril, I am in a similar situation with my son.

    He seems to know what he does when he hurts me, and I do not believe he says what he does to hurt me, primarily, but still chooses to do it.

    There comes a time when I have to put myself first. I have health issues, too. And it is clear that around my son or embroiled in his issues, I go down hill. Depression is bad enough...but I too get ill. It takes weeks to restore my health after he leaves here.

    I know now that he cannot come home, unless there is a great deal of changing.

    I take phone calls one day at a time. I have very much backed off in getting involved in his choices and plans, or advocating any plan of actions.

    To get there I had to almost not speak at all when he called. Hi, Bye, and maybe one or two other words.

    It has to be faced: If your son wants to deal drugs and to not do one other productive thing, guess who wins?

    As long as you pull his weight, he will think he hurts you, when he does dumb things.

    Perhaps he needs a few more felonies to get the drift. What can you do?

    The only thing you have any control over is yourself. How you choose to handle your own welfare and protect your own health.

    I wish it was different. I can only respond based upon my own experience. Perhaps you will have another outcome. I fear you will not.

    Your son is in charge of himself and his life. Going, by his words, he is choosing. Maybe this is posturing but the only way you can find out is to back away, and let him choose with his feet.

    Keep posting.
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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
  3. Sherril2000

    Sherril2000 Active Member

    Copa you are exactly right. I am not taking his calls for a few days to let him know I'm serious when I say I'm no longer tolerating any of this behavior. He does not appreciate anything I have done for him and it's time I faced reality. Sometimes all the love and support a parent can give is not enough to help. He will have to want better for himself, and I can't make it happen. Backing away is the best thing I can do right now.
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  4. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    How are you feeling today Sherril?

    Sometimes the best way we can love and support our children is to let them deal with it all themselves.
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  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi Sherril I'm sorry for your pain and your extreme distress over his calls and his manipulations. Because that is exactly what they are, and nothing else.

    This is true. We have to stop being their go-to person. We just have to, as hard as it is for us. Right now is hard, too, right? In fact, I learned that what I was doing---enabling and trying to "help" and fix and "make him better"---was much harder than learning how to change myself because that was NEVER going to end, for sure.

    This is the poor me, whiny me, I'll never be able to do anything story. I got that story too. My son is a two-time felon. Today he is working as an electrician apprentice. He started his road back at McDonalds. The reason I know your son is pure manipulation is because in jail they know extremely well who hires felons and who doesn't. They talk about it. His probation officer will give him a list of companies in the area that hire felons, and I've seen that list for my area. It's two pages long, single spaced. So...what he is saying to you just doesn't wash.

    He just wants to complain to Mommy again. He's not ready to change his life, yet. That doesn't mean he won't be, but his jailhouse conversion hasn't occurred. can't make it happen any faster. What you CAN do is stand back and stand down and don't participate in this type of conversation.

    You've already told him you are willing to help him go to school. I told my son that over and over again, too. He just wanted to whine...until he one day didn't want to whine any more. Now, he's figuring out what his pathways are to becoming an electrician and guess what? They don't include me paying for it.

    Again, I call bull hockey on this. He KNOWs this will get to you, that is why he is saying it. It's still playing the victim and manipulating the one I manipulate best: Mom. I know, Sherril, because you are exactly me, about three or four years ago.

    I agree 100 percent. And what does that mean? If you do decide to talk to him, don't engage with this type of back and forth. That is exactly what he wants. If he starts up again, say (mildly with no emotion)...I'm sure you'll figure it out, honey. (repeat, repeat, repeat). Then say, if he keeps on, Oh, I have to go now honey, I have to be somewhere at ___ or someone's at the door. I hope you have a good day and I love you.

    Just keep it positive and don't engage. Don't engage. Don't engage.

    I had all of my possible responses, Sherril, written down on a piece of paper so if he called...and I decided to answer the call...I wouldn't get off track by the things he would say, because if I didn't have it written down, I definitely would get off track. That's how hooked in he and I were.

    I will never forget the day I was at Panera about to have a business meeting and he called. I whipped out my piece of paper and took the call. I kept it short---I had to as I had the meeting, which was great!---and I stuck to my script. He tried everything but I wouldn't play ball. That was huge for me. I wasn't mean and I wasn't mad, I just kept to what I written down on the paper.

    Things like:

    I'm sure you'll figure it out.

    I bet that was hard.

    I love you.

    I'm sorry, honey.




    Well, tomorrow should be better.

    Sherril, I promise you, if it wasn't written down there, I didn't say it.

    That was a huge turning point for me.

    Give it a try and see what happens. It puts you back in the driver's seat instead of him. It keeps you from getting engaged and riding the merry-go-round over and over and over again, getting nowhere. It will help to keep you out of the ER and on the road to your own life.

    He is going to do what he is going to do...until he and only he decides to stop. I learned that 100 percent.

    In the meantime, while you are waiting on him to finally get it, focus on you and rebuilding a great life for yourself, aside from him. You can do it. It is possible, regardless of what he does or does not do.

    Warm hugs this morning.
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  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    He sure knows how to push the right buttons, doesn't he? They can be such masters at that.

    This is going to sound unusual, but I've come to believe that hope can be an enemy when it comes to learning to detach. Before you hit me over the head, I'm not saying things are hopeless -- because they're not. Case in point: Last night my Youngest texted me "I hope you know how wonderful you are." Ten years ago, she was just out of residential treatment for out of control Bipolar behavior, and went right back to skipping school , getting caught smoking pot in the school parking lot, disappearing on the weekends, drinking, putting Lord knows what up her nose, and blaming me for all her problems. All my hope of change while she was in RT was smashed -- especially when she dropped out of high school the next spring. But today, she just blows me away with her maturity, her true gratitude towards me, and her ever-increasing responsible self.

    That fall after her residential treatment was one of many turning points for me. I truly had done everything possible to help her, and it didn't work. I was done hoping for better, hope wasn't helping me. I had to just deal with what was right there in front of me, on any particular day, and not think about the future at all (good or bad). I didn't dare "hope" for anything, because there was just no telling what the future held. If she had a good day, a goood week, I had to take it as it was .. a good day or week. Not go down that 'OMG she's changing! YAY!" road because I inevitably was disappointed. And in the same way, I had to not think about the bad days as the end of the world. They were bad days, bad weeks, but were no predictor of the future. I also had to learn not to take it all pesonally -- these were HER choices, not mine. I did everything I could. I gave her the right tools. She just chose not to use them. And the consequences were hers, not mine. So I learned to say many of the things CoM listed above .. and it helped.

    This is truly what Al-Anon (and AA) means when they say, "one day at a time." So, I believe now that while we certainly 'hope" things will change, we have to learn to stop putting so much invstment in that hope .. let it go. Not give up, mind you, but just let go. If you believe in a higher power, put it in their hands. Someone once gave me the image of wrapping my Youngest in her childhood "blankie," and handing her over to God to take care of. That helped me a great deal on some very rough nights.

    Hugs to you. Please take care of yourself.
  7. Sherril2000

    Sherril2000 Active Member

    Thank you all so much. Nlj I'm definitely feeling much better this morning. Child of Mine I can't tell you how much I appreciate your words of wisdom. Sometimes I get so tangled up in his problems, and fall back into the web of his manipulations. I'm so happy to hear your son figured things out and is going to be an electrician. That's just what I keep hoping will someday happen for mine too. I know that he will have to make that happen though. For now, I'm backing off and not taking calls from him. It's time for him to think things through. When I do talk to him again, I'm going to respond just as you suggested. Nothing negative, but no enabling. I can do this!
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  8. UpandDown

    UpandDown Active Member

    Crazyin Va and ChildofMine, this is such great advice. I have to come here and read it over and over again in many different posts to remember to use it. My son is famous for baiting me into conversations that are filled with verbal abuse and insults when he is struggling. It seems to be his coping mechanism. The conversation usually begins with telling me how bad his anxiety is and how its all my fault. How such and such happened. I tend to get sucked right in and will try to explain logically to him that I have taken him to the dr, etc etc. and advocated for him to get medication that will help him. That we going to therapy. That he needs to practice the techniques given and that I will help him. All the logical loving caring statements I can think of. But slowly the conversation turns to how I took his only drug that works away (weed) and leave him with no choice but to die. Of course I get sucked in 100% and on and on the conversation goes. That he wants me to die and how happy he will be when I do. Conversation(ie him screaming, cussing) usually ends with how I have emotionally abused him his whole life, because I have made him to feel something is wrong with him. (Because we have sought help since he was young) I get left in his disastrous wake and feel so sad and helpless that I can't pull it together for my other children. I cry and cry and run through all the horrible fears in my mind. What if he kills him self, what if he never finds peace, what if he treats his future girlfriend/wife this way. Last night I laid in bed and just prayed for sleep to come so I could start a new day. I could hear him out in the family room, laughing talking having a great time. It was over for him and all was fine. Yet I was in despair and traumatized and so very sad. Today is a new day and I have come to this site to read your words and remind myself that I need to NOT engage. I need to avoid all conversations with him that are "bait". That I need to repeat over and over to myself that he does not want answers from me. I will repeat oh, I love you, really, wow. Last week I had told the family therapist that I was not participating in the sessions with him anymore because he was abusive and not productive. I told my husband he has to be the one driving my son to his therapy sessions because the drive to or from is almost always filled with abuse and these type of conversations. I am slowly putting up my boundaries. Its just that it is against everything I know with parenting a "normal" child.

    Thank you! Thank you for reminding me.
  9. Sherril2000

    Sherril2000 Active Member

    CrazyinVa, I'm just now reading your response. I'm in total agreement with you about hope. Every time I dare to hope he's doing better, I just get pulled back into the manipulation again. I love the idea of "wrapping him a childhood blank i.e. And turning him over to God." I'm going to remember that when I'm at my lowest, it will give me comfort. I'm learning. UpandDown, God bless you. I'm so sorry for the verbal abuse your son is inflicting. You have every right to put up boundaries and withdraw from therapy if he's just using it to inflict more abuse on you. It's hard I know, because all this goes against what we know as "good parenting" with our other "less difficult" children. Don't give him the opportunity to pull you in to those conversations. You don't deserve that. The real problem with my own son is that he can be so sweet and lovable, that I "dare to hope", and the cycle repeats itself. I'm doing just what Child of Mine suggested. I love the responses she scripted for conversations with her son. Positive, but in no way enabling. You're right. Today is a new day and it's time for me to make permanent changes.
  10. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    My step-son is the same way, Sherril.

    Yesterday hubby called him to discuss something of importance to his grandparents. Difficult Child's response?

    "So what? F this! I don't care. I'm busy. The game comes on in an hour."

    I thought he was doing somewhat better, but I realize that just because he has a job and is not in jail, he is still the same.
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  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Oh Sherril, I do hope you are doing better today.

    I'm so sorry you had to listen to that from your son but I am not surprised by what he said. My son used to tell me very similar things. The old pity party that no one is going to hire a felon, blah, blah, blah. I learned that he would "use" it as an excuse to try and get out of finding a job.

    My son has had several jobs, unfortunately he chose to quit them because of other excuses. One job he had was working in the warehouse for a furniture store, his starting wage was $15.00 an hour. He quit that one because he said the owner had no clue how to run a business. The man has been in business for 40 years, I think he's doing something right.

    There are plenty of places that will hire.

    Do your best to just let his rants go in one ear and out the other. He's miserable and misery loves company so he's trying to invite you along.

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  12. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    So true!! This is why I allow myself 1% hope.
    I will always have hope that someday my son will make better choices but I do not allow myself to dwell on that hope.
    If it happens, great! If it doesn't, great!
    Our DCs will live their lives the way they want to regardless of how it affects us or anyone else.
  13. jude-in-nj

    jude-in-nj Member

    Sherril.... Oh the guilt game I know it too well.
    I have chosen to take calls from my son when *I* want to... Not when he tells me. Thanks to this forum I have gotten a lot stronger.
    It sounds like you are doing everything right.
  14. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    oh boy. This rings a bell with me. When my Difficult Child got out of prison (1 felony and many misdemeanors), it took him several months to find a job. Then, he found one with a bookstore (small chain), then a chain restaurant - not fast food, then a smaller discount store....

    Point was, he did finally start finding work, and sometimes these places did background checks.

    After the restaurant job, he began quitting the jobs like in the old days. If he wasn't perfectly happy with the position, he would quit - or get fired because, i.e. he did not think showing up on time was that important, etc.

    Now, about 8 years out of incarceration, he is playing that felony card again. Although, he has had several jobs between then and now.

    Basically, husband and i are convinced he is lazy. We already knew he did not understand why somebody else should get to make rules he had to follow. :(
  15. My Life

    My Life New Member

    I so understand those phone calls. When the phone rings I'm wondering who is calling with their life issues. I have had both my sons 31 & 29 visit the Jail house, my younger son is felon and still on probation. My oldest is homeless as we speak and just got out of jail this week for not being responsible and paying the ticket he got Sine they graduated their lives have been roller coaster. My youngest got married and moved west and still his issues and decision making ended up in our house. My husband is prior military and he doesn't have any sympathy for them, the boys always call my phone and would stress me out. One day I woke up and said no more! I've been sick, walking the floors and they could care less. I have good days and bad days, but I am better then I was. I'm telling my oldest he needs to find him place, if it be shelter or where ever it just won't be my house. Of course yes I thought I would pay for a a place for him to stay since it getting cold soon but my husband said it's time for me to enjoy my life and let our sons learn about their choices. He's (oldest) even been kicked out of shelters because he says he wants some privacy. So self centered!! But my heat aches, as his mother. I know it's time for him and his brother to pull their own wagons. Youngest has 3 kids and the alone is another chapter.
  16. Sherril2000

    Sherril2000 Active Member

    I'm so sorry. I don't know why our difficult children continue to make their lives (and ours) so hard. My son is the same way, doesn't feel rules apply to him. He worked one day in the kitchen at the jail & quit. He did call me, though, and told me he was sorry I had to work two jobs and 12 hour shifts. Said now he knows what it's like to work 10 hours standing on his feet all day. Lol! I told him he needs to get some type of training, because he definitely doesn't like manual labor!