Broken and despairing. Bereft. No hope left.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    "My son is so self obsessed that I think he thinks he's the only one effected by his situation."

    This is a quote from UK Mommy that to me rings true with my own child in relation to myself and M, with whom I live.

    For the past 9 or 10 months we have been trying, trying to give him a base of operations from which to change. Over and over again we agree upon conditions, which to us, are the basis, but not nearly what he must do to live a responsible life.

    While he does try minimally, it is only that--minimally compliant, occasionally compliant. "Trying" to him requires us to accept whatever he chooses to impose upon us. "I tried." "It was one mistake." "I won't do it again."

    To him, these words are the keys to the kingdom: our privacy, our space, our security, and really, at the end of the day, our integrity. Because we are always in the end the ones that backslide. It is never not, it has never not been his terms, not our own--in our space.

    The specifics of what happened this morning are not important: really, they are trivial and unimportant. It is the fabric of our relationship that is destroyed--not ripped or frayed or stained--but today, it feels rotten.

    And we are responsible. Because from the beginning we set him up: we asked him to be who he is not, who he does not want to be--perhaps, what he cannot be. He does not want to be responsible. He does not want to seek counsel. He does not want to engage fully to cooperate. He does not want to do what he does not want. He does not wand to cede or to concede.

    He wants to take what he can get, and leave the rest messed up and spoiled. He wants to take as much as he can--giving as little as he can. He wants to be the first person to the punch bowl and the first one to bed after the party. To which he brought not one thing at all.

    He wants to engage life like an 8 year old. If he does his chores, he has to be nagged to do them, and then to return to do it better. After 10 times nagging him, they are not really done. All of his SSI he sees as an "allowance." He is a baby. But no longer my own baby.

    When we erupt in frustration and angry his response is that of a child" "That's not fair," he decries. "You are putting me on the street.

    " What about your choices, I ask? Of months and months and months. To deliberately and consciously disregard agreements you made. How is putting you on the street? Me? There are hundreds of communities where your SSI will afford you to rent a room. You have had the opportunity to be at the front of the line for Section 8 housing. The same thing, with Voc Rehab training and job finding assistance. Housing, training, assistance, therapy, have not entered YOUR equation. How am I responsible?"

    But he is right. The setup was flawed from the beginning. To him, by accepting him back, I was accepting responsibility that he continue to be my dependent child. To enable him.

    I am good at seeing the situation of others clearly. My own fabric is rent with contradictions, with flaws and with concealed self-deceptions. Even though at the bottom of it--I want to keep my child alive, by keeping him close to me I am contributing to the very conditions that maintain him incapable to confront himself and his condition, and to deal with it, if he can.

    Our relationship is descending into hatred, and that is what M always feared. I fear my son's conspiracy theories, his mating reptiles and Martians, his rationalizing of hate against my own people--because I hate what it forebodes about his condition and his life to come--which means I will live it with him.

    I seem unable to detach. I did it for awhile, until he showed up at my door 9 or 10 months ago. For some reason, now, I can no longer do it again. I fear.

    I do not like the person I am when he is around me, but I love him, and I love having him close. This is a rotten and unfixable state of affairs. I cannot have it both ways.

    M says: "You decide," if he should leave. "But you accept the consequences. No moping. No crying. No fearfulness about where he is, how he is."

    What a big, big mess.

    Sorry to be so negative. It is what it is.

    Thank you for reading this.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
  2. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    You probably know this better then me considering your profession but what he wants is pretty much what most people want is just its not feasible.
    Too bad he refuses to learn this even after so many consequences this brought. Its not like he was protected from consequences he just never learns from them. So stubborn.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    That is what M says, that at the root of it he does not want to give in, to cede.
    Spell this out for me, A Dad, if you would: are you saying he wants his cake and to eat it too.

    Or he wants control and dominance without responsibility.

    Or that he wants to do what he wants, without consequences.

    Or wanting everything on his own terms, without doing what is necessary either in terms of compromise, effort, planning or work?

    Or something else, that I have missed.

    A Dad: I respect you. What would you do?

    Thank you for your response.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    You could be writing this about us, and Pat.

    The one thing, though - you cannot STOP feeling. You cannot stop crying, or being fearful. Whether the decision is made or not.

    I know that Pat is safe - but I still worry. It manifests itself as anger when I find something else he left behind. But it is worry, and fear.

    You do what you need to do, regardless of what anyone else says. If you do not like who you are - then you must change, or accept not liking yourself.

    It's not easy. It's HARD. Very hard.
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is true.
  6. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Do you still have that house ( or was it an office) that you were fixing up with an eye toward letting him live there? Is that a feasible option at this point, to rent it to him, and getting your privacy and life back? Would that be an option, kind of half way between living with you and living on his own?
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yeah. We do. And it is even closer to occupancy. We had the whole property rewired electrically.

    There really is no major obstacle to that, except that I need to rent some of it to other renters--my son walks around with a hoody on--looking like some vagrant. Last week he was asked to never again enter a store that he has frequented daily for a year, because his dress (the hoody) frightens and drives away other patrons.

    Of course I can find renters that will tolerate him--but I can barely tolerate him.

    I guess that is because I am his mother and I love him--and I wanted more for him and for myself.

    Thank you so much for your replies, and your wisdom, everybody.
  8. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    My son decided he can get some of that if he lived alone on his own terms and he did, too bad among his terms are very little contact with his parents.
    What can I say I get what you mean its so hard to live with such a person and not way easier to live without the person.
    But I could not complain and worry to be honest I just can not I do not think its possible.
  9. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Oh Copa, I am so, so sorry for what you are going through. I understand this:

    I understand because I'm so good at "Do what I say, not what I do" on this board. Heck, in life. I understand because even when I KNOW that what I'm doing is enabling, I don't seem to be able to not do it. I understand because I want to keep my son close...I want to help him...I want to protect him. I want him to take advantage of opportunities. I want him to take a hand up...not a hand out. I want him to live a good, decent life. I want him to CHANGE! And like your son, he never wanted to do that. He would say he did...but he'd end up hanging out with the same old people and doing exactly the same things, over and over, and not see the consequences looming. When we let him come back there was a list of specific rules; he didn't comply. What he did, he did sparingly or not at all. It wasn't until he exploded that we decided he needed to go again. Or, I should say, I decided. Jabber, I'm sure, was ready long before due to his lack of follow through.

    So this time when he left he went far away and ... he seems to be okay. There have been false starts and there's been some bailing out, but I guess he's living life on his terms. Maybe he'll get tired of living a homeless, meaningless, life and decide to change. But I don't know that he'd ever do that if he really had us readily on hand. Will we still "rescue" him from time to time? Probably. :unsure: But we can't make him change. All the rules in the world won't make him change. Not when he's not willing to change his own mindset.

    A hoodie? o_O Your son is a 20-something Caucasian, isn't he? Perhaps I'm wrong about your ethnicity (because frankly, it doesn't matter one way or another to me) and of course that shouldn't have anything to do with it and it wouldn't to any forward thinking person...but I can't imagine why a guy in a hoodie would be frightening.

    But whatever...Copa, you have to do what you can live with. If you can't live with him, then he needs to get out on his own. Maybe if he does not have a comfortable place to lay his head, he'll finally realize the importance of that section 8 housing and voc rehab, and job assistance? At least he isn't without any income. That puts him in better shape than a lot of people already.

    I'm sorry you are hurting.
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  10. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    We are all guilty of enabling in some way. We all want better for our kids. We want THEM to WANT better for themselves. We may love them to the moon and back but we don't like them.

    All the while questioning every move we make. Is it the right move? Will it even make a difference in the end anyway??

    Someone said it on here before and I have to agree - it is best when adult children do not live with their parents - for many reasons and especially the Difficult Child.

    We have to do what we have to do to live with ourselves too. In the end I just don't know how big of a difference it makes.

    I see that post on Facebook all the time about what a great feeling it is to see how wonderful your adult children have turned out - or something like that. Ya, not so much for everyone.

    Hugs and sorry to hear your pain.
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  11. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    Lil said pretty much what I wanted to say, but better.

    I think it does come to this. WE want our offspring to change. We know what will improve their experiences on earth; unless THEY want to change, it will not happen.

    Hitting our heads against the wall, Wasting our time, Leading a horse to water....

    We know the proverbs, but we love our kids so is difficult to accept.

    Hugs, Copa. You have been such a stalwart rock for me and many others.

    With your son, you may just have to wait this out.

    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Well, here you all described the difference between inner directed and outer directed and to what we attribute our success or our failures. Attribution theory. I cannot remember the specifics.

    Our kids most of them, see themselves as inner directed. In fact, they demand this. They claim their successes: Yes, they rail: I will do it my way. Until it doesn't work. But they externalize their failures-- circumstances, accidents, are responsible. Not them. Others. There is little or no learning if one cannot accept and review ones failures or errors.

    I believe our kids want much of what we want for them: comfort, security, esteem. I just think they see it is the responsibility of others to provide it, or to make it easy for them--and to ensure that they get it whether they do anything, or not. There is a disconnect between their sense of entitlement and their efforts. Over and over again my son does this.

    Because he sees the responsibility as being in others--for him--and himself, as minimally responsible if at all--the situation at its basis stays the same. Today he blamed the cat. Yes. None of this would have happened if not for the cat, Stella.

    My son does sometimes comply. But minimally. And only a minute before midnight when he sees the cost to himself of not complying. He sees not at all, and seems to care even less, what are the effects to anybody else of his choices.

    In this way he forces people in his orbit to defend themselves from him.
    You know, Lil, my son has changed some. But very, very slowly. The working for us, is something. He did stop the marijuana, finally. For a little while. Whether he would have continued abstinence, who knows. Is it abstinence, really, If it is forced? He is not violent anymore and less impulsive. His moods are more stable.

    But the thing is that I recognize that as long as he is near to me, I remain in his own head (and probably In my own), as the responsible one, the driver, the power that he can resist and oppose, and undermine covertly. There was a wonderful book I read many years ago called The powers of the Weak, that spoke about disempowered groups, historically and contemporaneous ones, and how they assert their rights. Very, very sneakily, and destructively. That is my son. Now.

    This is our situation with our kids if we maintain support and proximity. They covertly assert their will to gain what they want-even if it is only to oppose, and prevail--even if it is against their own interests to do so. They want the power that they deserve as autonomous adults. They will subvert us, if necessary to maintain it. Biting the hand that feeds them.

    We as if force them, to assert their power covertly, if we maintain them in this dependent position. I know all of this intellectually. Just, I cannot accept it easily emotionally. There is as if some part of me, still, that would rather destroy us both--rather than let go.

    I do not want to see my son fall. Even if I am the one that contributes to it, apparently.
    In my son's case there is some kind of moral self-abnegation that he is practicing due to the circumstances of his birth and birth parents.

    In this I agree with him: his issues are as much or more spiritual than psychological. But even more so, there is no room for a mother in a spiritual struggle or quest.

    My son has contempt for me. He does not respect me. He mouths respect for M but it is contingent. More and more the resentment is there closer to the surface towards each of us. M is worn out. He used to fight for my son. He is not doing so now. But he wants me to make the decision 100 percent. I am in despair.

    Thank you for your support everybody. We are all of us, it seems, thinking of this in the same way. And yet, I am still uncertain what I will do. I feel so very weak and helpless and defeated.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  13. Maisy

    Maisy Member

    Copa I feel for you so much and I understand. In a very similar situation. Like a black cloud always following us around. Every damn day!
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  14. JaneBetty

    JaneBetty Active Member

    Isn't it funny how we parents hang on to the merest sign of change?

    Just one normal hour in our household would give my husband and I that wonderful feeling of hope, even though the other twenty three hours were mostly intolerable.

    These small moments of hope kept us going for a long while.

    I spent most of the afternoon away from the house today without the slightest anxiety, something that was impossible to do when our daughter lived with us. There was always the nagging certainty that she was making my husband's life miserable.

    Copa, we planned to build a garage apartment for our daughter to live in, because I was sure she needed protection as she continued struggling with mental health issues.

    I'm not sure now that doing so would have facilitated her recovery. She would have brought even more animals into the household, more strange characters nosing around our place, and she would have simply continued being an infant because she was still at home.

    We would have continued to be the people she could safely rage at, because we love her and we were handy targets.

    I wonder if you feel unable NOT to help your son because of your profession? My husband's background is in the medical field. It took him a long time to stop "helping" our daughter. She resented it and it seemed to increase her distrust of us, unfortunately.

    I have to comment on the hoodie issue. There is a person who lives behind me who wears a hoodie. I see this person at a distance most days, and I cannnot make out whether they are a male or female because the hoodie is pulled down so low over their facial features, and this person is as thin as a stick and wears baggy clothing. Personally, I like wearing hoodies and have several, although the ones I have are styled for middle aged women :semi-twins:
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Copa, I'm reading along here too.......there is not much I can add, you are in that really crummy drivers seat we parents often end up in, where wherever you turn, or so it seems, there will be losses, there will be struggles, there will be pain, pain not only for us, but for our kids too....... so where exactly do you drive to? I saw myself driving in circles for a long time, just not knowing what to do.

    You have choices to make.......and only you can make them after you agonize over all the small step at a've done well with that........and we ALL backtrack in this enabling universe. Backwards, sideways and upside down.

    You're doing the best you can right now......I think you might try to acknowledge that, you've made great strides since you've been here......and now you''re at another level of the process, it would be so great if it were linear and clear, but it's all over the map and extremely unclear.....walking through the FOG, blindfolded, shoeless, without a map or a flashlight......only your instincts to guide you. Your instincts are good. You'll find your way to detachment or you'll find a way which works for you......I think you can trust yourself to make the right calls as they come've done that each time.

    In the meantime, my suggestion to you, which is what I have to say to myself a lot, is NOURISH yourself......nurture yourself......When I can accept myself and take care of me, I usually find clarity begins to return and I become equipped to make choices, especially the difficult ones.

    Hang in there, this too shall pass and you will find your you always have......
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
    • List
  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you everybody.
    You know, RE, for the longest time we have wanted to leave our town and go East and just be young travelers again, trying out someplace new. We would still keep our property here so we could come back, without losses.

    What has stopped us is: I was in bed!! And now we have been fixing the other property which goes on and on and on. But we are close! Maybe not weeks, but 2 or 3 months. The idea I had in the back of my mind is I would leave my son with the animals. Which on the face of it, is kind of nutty, because so many of our issues with him involve his letting the animals destroy everything, no matter what we ask. (Not to mention the last time we came back when he took care of the animals, we had some new ones--maggots all over the floor!)

    But this would we one way that I could conceive of letting him stay for a bit longer--he has said his intent is not to stay long term. He says he has a plan. He wants to stay and take it "day by day." I asked, what does a day do? It all starts with a day at a time, he said.

    I mean, the worst that could happen is the house is destroyed.
    You are right. But on the other hand, I feel like why is it me who has to make them. It is his life. Is this not what is the unifying and central problem for each of us and all of us?

    That the force us to make impossible decisions. Sophie's Choice decisions. Arm or leg decisions. I do not want to decide in a way that will hurt him and myself.

    I want it to be purely decide for me. For the good of myself and M. Which is to get out of Dodge. Quickly.
    Yes. I can see how this is so. I am letting myself drown again. I have to find a way to find my footing and stabilize.

    Thank you RE. Thank you everybody: Lil, dame, Maisy, Seeking, A Dad, Apple, Annie, everybody. Thank you very much.
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is what happens to me, too. Anger masks fear, and powerlessness, I think.
    This is very wise, Annie. I will ponder it. Thank you.
    I asked M about this and this was his reply:

    Remember, there is only a toilet. We ripped out the tub and shower. He would have nowhere to bathe. If we let him stay there before the bathroom is remodeled, he could call the authorities on us for being slumlords and providing inadequate housing.

    On the positive side, I think I told you we had an electrician rewire the whole property. There is a separate apartment above the garage that is still quite trashed (as in abused) but it does have a shower and working plumbing. I would hate for my son to be there--because while not unsafe, it is dirty and destroyed. but I will ask M about that. I do not know if I even what that for my son. But that is really the issue, is it not? It is about for my son wants for himself, and sets about to get.

    Thank you very much.
  18. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Don't have time to write a proper reply but I just want to tell you how deeply I feel your painn and am with you in spirit, sending some courage and strength through the air waves.

    Will try and impart some "wisdom" of my own (don't really have any, as my situation is a sh!t storm) later , but I just want to let you know that you are being thought of and prayed for and we're all holding you up in our hearts...
  19. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    You know what I have been thinking about in regards to this subject of our Difficult Child not making changes also is that our Difficult Child think that they will live forever. I remember feeling that way when I was young. That life just goes on forever and there is plenty of time to change, straighten up, whatever! I personally was not on the path of destruction but you know what I mean.

    There is no urgency. There is no rush. What's the big deal right??

    It is a very immature way of looking at the world and looking at life but I'd bet money that why we look for such complex reasoning for why they do what they do, this could be a big part of it!
  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I love this idea Copa, it is for YOU........when I read it I felt excited for you.....a new adventure with just you and've been through the ringer......I say, go for it! Now that my daughter is on a better path and my granddaughter is on her own, my husband and I are looking at options like yours. It is exciting and fun to talk about ideas and make plans.

    If your son only wants to stay with you short term, he may be on his own by the time you leave......

    Well if it were me, I would not have a good time on my adventure if I felt my home may be being destroyed........and the apartment with no shower doesn't sound viable, however, your mention of the room above the garage actually sounds like a place your son could fix up on his own and not be in the main house. I don't know if you could lock up the main house while you are gone and only allow him in the garage apartment, but if you could, at least your mind would be at ease while you are gone. It may also be prudent for your well being to have someone else care for the animals since history has shown your son to be irresponsible in that area. You might employ a house/pet sitter so that someone will be at your home keeping it safe. I would cover all the bases and make sure your son is restricted so your property and belongings and pets are safe.

    I meant the choice to detach from your son, that is the only choice we can really take care of our needs FIRST.

    That's the choice! Go for it!

    It sounds to me as if you are on a threshold, ready to leap into the unknown in your own life but hindered by your love, devotion and sense of responsibility of your son. I can so relate to that. I am now very close to being able to move freely about the universe because I have done everything possible to liberate myself from the jaws of daughter will be completing a 5 year legal hassle in 8 days which is the final stop to her complete independence.....I have diligently worked to support her through this time, because she began helping herself and doing the right thing ......she and I are both excited to begin our separate journeys now....

    It sounds to me as if you have a plan, it's just figuring out how to make it happen so that you can leave feeling good......I'm excited for both of us Copa, in our 60's planning our next's time.....:)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016