call from rehab


My son (16) just called me from rehab. He's be there 6 days. I'm crying. Not sure why I feel so heart broken. Something is just kicking in. How I have been feeling is just like there's too much life coming at me, like it all needs to slow down. Like I need a week to lay on my sofa. While I know that a week on my sofa would not be good for me. No part of this this journey is easy. The other version of how I've been feeling is great-- happy, rested. When I saw my therapist he commented that he didn't think I had my head wrapped around exactly how much of a toll gig takes on me. I've been thinking about that a lot. I was just really smiley, relaxed--different, without really knowing why. And none of that fits with what I just said about feeling so desperately like I need a rest…. I've been thinking about how alonon has so much in it about not letting others effect ones well-being…. but that I am very effected-- so I feel like I'm wrong….
And I'm thinking about a spiritual leader I talked to about the situation and his response about 1) boundaries-- if someone is sometimes a abusive they shouldn't be living with you (but he has no kids and doesn't get that that is not the way it rolls with a kid, and that kids aren't so easy to get rid of, even if you try…) and 2) acceptance-- not thinking it's going to be different.

But I feel soooo *safe* in my home tonight. gig hasn't been particularly violent of for a long time but my nervous are somehow just shot…. or there's something wrong with me where I am not the person who lives well in a family-- I need to be alone. I need an ocean of alone time, at least, to make up for all **&^ that I had been through.

So…. he's never called me to chat before-- in his life. In my life. We don't have dinner table conversation-- there is no model to apply. He's very doped up. They have him on (I'm going to misspell of these) seriquil, gabapentan, zoloft, clonidine, and vistaril. I think that's why he wanted to talk to me. It felt a bit awkward to try and have a chat. He's says he feels very anxious in that place and that's why he's on all that…. How can I not just cry? How much is there something wrong? How much does he just want to be numbed, however possible? ……..


one day at a time
Day, I think what you are talking about is the roller coaster of PTSD that many of us believe we have had, after dealing with difficult children for years and years and years. Feeling good, feeling awful, feeling surreal, feeling numb. The horror, the shock, the despair, the deep grief, the anger, the unrelenting nature of it all, and the powerlessness we must finally accept---that we can't do anything about any of it.

I believe all of these feelings are completely normal, and the best thing to do is to just....feel them.

Try hard not to ACT on them. I know they are so uncomfortable, and our usual MO is that we want to DO SOMETHING to stop the bad feelings. But if we can resist, and just feel our feelings, we can start to have major breakthroughs with ourselves.

We have to learn how to wait. Believe me, I used to be the absolute worst in the world at waiting. I loved to take action. Review the options, make a decision....and ACT! I was good at it, too. But not when it came to addiction. But I am also a very slow learner, and I have done it---acted---time and time and time again even after when I told myself I would not. It is very hard to change old habits. It is very hard to live with uncertainty and pain and discomfort. But it can be done.

It is a journey. It is a long, hard journey. Your son is right where he needs to be. He is in the very best place possible and I hope he stays there long enough to get some true help. Try to relax into that reality and turn your focus on yourself for a while.

I am so glad to read that you go to alanon and that you have spiritual direction. Keep on with all of that. You don't have to agree with everything said or discussed---just take what you like and leave the rest, just like on this board.

Every morsel that you expose yourself to is one more tiny step on your journey to recovery from what you have to deal with, with your precious son.

Your son is very young and I hope and pray that he can be helped. My son is now 25, and we are seeing some positive signs here, but I am very cautious about my heart, when it comes to anything concerning him. I have been through five years of absolute H___.

The good side of that is that I have changed a great deal, and I am very grateful for the positive changes in my own life. By that I mean I have worked hard to free myself of the need to control, manage and fix other people---all other people---in my life. I have worked hard on the topic of boundaries. The book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend is a book I read over and over again, and I have shared it with many other people. Also, another book: Codependent No more by Melody Beattie is wonderful. She tells it exactly like it is.

Warm hugs for you today. Please keep us posted. We care here and we get it.


COM, that was so helpful-- the sort of container of understanding: ptsd is what is happening. I've carried that diagnosis for so long that I forget that it's a factor.

I want to post so I am posting now, but I have more I want to articulate.... but the gist of it is that it is sinking that it *I* am much better off without my son around. That one is just almost too much to take in.


one day at a time
Day, your real sweet loving son is still there, but he has been hijacked by his disease---addiction and mental illness.

It is very hard to be in a relationship with anyone in active mental illness, including addiction. There is no balanced playing field.
There are three entities in the relationship: You, him and the addiction. For him, the addiction is prime and always will take first place until he is in recovery (if he is an addict).

I think that is another thing we have to learn about and then accept. We still love our sons very much, but we don't like to be around them much because the relationship is not mutually respectful and loving.

There is nothing wrong with our saying that is not okay. To continue, we have to set physical boundaries for ourselves, to see them and talk to them...some...on a limited basis...we don't have to draw a hard line in the sand, but we can experiment with time and space and distance to see what we can tolerate and what works for us.

That is what I have done, over time. I don't need to have my son's lifestyle, decision-making processes, choices and results of those choices in my face all day long every day. If I do, I go nuts. He and I have lived very, very different lives over the past five years.

I have grown to detest drama and rampant chaos and one unsettling event after another. I need peace and contentment and serenity and simple pleasures in my life. He has brought the opposite, like a whirling tornado.

That doesn't mean I don't love him dearly. Day, we can only stand so much. Then, we have to take a break, in order to save ourselves. There is nothing wrong with that. Everybody has limits, even mothers.


I've been at all this for a lot of years. It started with getting away from GIF's Dad, who controlled what I wore, to whom I spoke, what I ate, what music I listened to, etc. GIF was in middle school then and that's when the trouble started with him. I've lost track of time but it's been 5-6 years of more or less constant turmoil. In that I have come to see drama as just boring-- or, when I am at my healthiest that's the way it appears. Right now I suspect I am leaning into it some in the face of the shock-- shock at seeing my therapist and talking about stuff like maybe attending a party! Brave forays into picking up some social life. I have a stable life for the most part. A job. A dog. I call the police when I am mistreated, even by my son.

Codependant No More has done me a lot of good, and I will look into the one on boundaries-- getting some understanding of those has been a game changer, but it's always a process…

I do know how to make hard choices. And I spend a lot of time thinking -- ha!-- I can spot my own error there-- trying to think my way through something that isn't intellectual as much as it is spiritual…. maybe.

Point is that it's hard not to do the black and white.

What happened last time GIF was away for a bit (juvenile detention for violating the limited order of protection that forbids him from behaving in a threatening manner toward me-- then a couple weeks with Dad until CPS shut that down….) (If you saw me you would never in a bazillion years suspect that this is my life….) … so he was away then he was being nice and his Dad was treating him poorly so he came back and my mental health, which had been great when he was away, became scary. Because CPS was already around, with my blessing, my therapist reached out to them to see what they could do-- if they could take him for a while. Somehow it's sinking in just now that I did that-- that it was that bad-- and that couldn't have been more than three/four months ago. They offered a voluntary placement, but I didn't do it in the end bc I thought it would be too dangerous for GIF-- that he'd run away and things would just spiral more. Instead, my medications got switched around, GIF calmed down, I got used to not having the peace I had when he was away….

Shortly after GIF got into a hospital based day treatment program. It was wonderful. He was making friends. (He hadn't been to school for over year, and had no friends). Only, the only thing he knows how to do with friends is get high, so that's what he did. And the program's only rule is don't get high with other kids from here. Programs just push him around so easily. He was out. Because I already have a judge involved (see above mentioned willingness to call the cops)…. he got that he was going to have to go inpatient. So he's there. The clinical rec from day treatment was a year long residential program. He negotiated for a month. I feel very, very, very guilty, but I think I should be interfering, trying to get the month place to discharge him to a year long. I have two avenues-- GIF's probation officer and my therapist. I know the day treatment has already made the year long rec. Because I have the judge in place I might be able to get the year mandated……

It just breaks my heart. Because there is also so much good in him. Because we do sometime get along.

And because, more than anything else, I feel very confused about to what extent it's just really hard to have a kid. Isn't it normal for a kid, particularly a 16 year old, to exert a terrible toll on the well-being of parents?

On one hand I have done a brilliant job of putting a lot of stuff in place where I kind of have him cornered (legally, and through family court, not criminal, which a big grace….). If he needs a year, he needs a year. Our insurance will pay for it. But I also think maybe *I* need a year. ……but how can I push my gorgeous, most beautiful thing I've ever seen, little man away like that? Somehow the way through seems to be about trying to hold the threatening, nasty ill person and the other version in my head at the same time. It's the greatest challenge of my life-- not just with him, but with others too. And hold myself well and myself not well together in my head. …...


Well-Known Member
On the question of don't most teens make their parents crazy, the answer is not in that way. No. In fact, I was really interested when I heard an NPR show about teenagers in the U.S. and how only 20% of them really cause serious problems in the family. The stereotypical teen is not an actual typical teen. I'd say lots of teens start to exert independence by putting a lot of stock in their friends, rather than us, and many can be intermittently rude, secrretive, and a little naughty. But most are eager to grow up, go to college or get a full time job, make their way in this world. Most will follow rules, while breaking a few minor ones or a major one maybe once...and they learn from it. Most do not steal, lie constantly, refuse to go to school, demand our money, do serious drugs, run the streets at night, abuse us verbally...all the things a difficult child does because he can.

Many of us have trouble thinking of our growing children as almost adults or adults. We see them as little boys and girls who laid daisies on our table or hugged us just because or who had such a childish sweetness. But if we are on this forum, that little boy or girl is gone and we are dealing with a near adult or adult who is making terrible choices. Mental illness does not cause people to be ill-tempered and mean. Addiction does. A personality disorder does. A bad attitude does. Lots of things do. Unless the child is actually psychotic and is having hallucinations that make him think you are poisoning him, then being nasty to us is a calculated choice. Nobody HAS to be mean because of a mood disorder. I have a mood disorder. It does not cause you to abuse other people.

At any rate, if we are here, we don't have cute, sweet little boys and girls anymore. We are fighting for our sanity because of adult or near adult children are abusive towards us, breaking the law and, to sum it up, causing havoc with our peace of mind and testing our sanity. We come together to be a support system and to offer what has worked for we survived. Most of us here are in various degrees of detachment and are also trying to change how we react to our difficult children when they push our buttons and try to manipulate us. We are learning. We never stop learning, even if we've learned A LOT.

Hugs for your hurting heart. It's not easy at all.
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Well-Known Member
Day you write so beautifully and you have a very good insight that I know you will be ok. It is ok to have all the strong emotions that you are having. For me just saying this stuff out loud helped me. This is sad territory that us parents are going down and they're is no sense in denying that. I'm glad you have your therapist to help guide you but you sound very centered. Stay strong and keep posting. Your feelings help others understand theirs.


Well-Known Member
Day - Ah I totally get what you are going through. One of the things that happened when we had to tell my son he could not live here in anymore is that I got my home as a sanctuary back. I found I really like being at home..... so instead of looking forward to Monday mornings when i had to go to work and get out of the house I cherished my weekends again! It is much easier and more peaceful not having my difficult child here at home! Much more and that i just a fact. Now it has been a few years and my difficult child is now 23 and we would not want him living at home again! I do not want to give up my sanctuary ever again.

As to the question of normal teen and difficulty for parents. I think there is normal conflict and angst with teens and parents...... and then there is difficult child conflict and angst. The degree is so different. I have a younger easy child daughter who is no win college. Yes there were some conflicts and some annoyances etc etc. but we also had a really close relationship through her teen years. We did not have this huge divide, I didnt have to hide my wallet and my car keys, she let me know where she was and when she would be home, I didnt feel a need to invade her privacy just to make sure she was safe. It just was a whole different experience. In fact I really enjoyed her teen years as I watched her blossom and become her own person. She is now in college and I am enjoying our empty nest....but if she needed to live at home again it would not be a problem because she does not mess up my home as a sanctuary.

I have at times talked to other parents of normal teens whose kids are driving them nuts.... and again the level of stuff they are talking about is so minute compared to what we deal with with difficult children..... it just is not the same.

Enjoy (as much as you can) the peace you feel at home right now and do not feel any guilty about it either!! This is a tough ride and so when we get a patch where we know they are safe then take it to recharge for the rough rides that may be ahead.



I needed to hear that reply--that it is not normal for kids to cost parents so much wellbeing.

Sometimes my own spiritual ideals get in the way. First, that was a spiritual misunderstanding manifesting as a total lack of boundaries. Now I can guilt myself with ideals about how I might just accept the facts and carry on-- not let the external throw off my internal wellbeing. Seeing myself flourish in difficult child's absence is a lesson that he was interfering with my wellbeing. I don't want to interpret as a failure of my own, but it's really, really hard.

TL! I worked freelance forever and just got a regular job a year ago. I hadn't even connected that him being away is TOTALLY related my sudden lack of eagerness to leave the house and go to work… why the thoughts that going back to freelance are popping up.

I won't make make any sudden moves, and but…. wow.

I asked one friend who has a easy child (only child, like mine) if she thought it was normal for all kids to cost wellbeing and she said yes. Her problems don't compare in magnitude to mine, but her suffering does. If pain is only pain and suffering is just fighting pain, not accepting…. if she could except more--cause less drama herself-- then it seems like I should be able to too. I've tried again and again and I've done plenty of good, largely by protecting boundaries… but here I am, happier with him away from me.

I talked to another friend with 2 PCs and she told me how sad she was that her kids were growing up. I can't wrap my head around that. 17 months until he's 18. Though I have learned from reading around here
that that also means the last 17 months I have a strong say. …..I worry, though, that he has prolonged his childhood by being so far behind in school. I would love to see him get a regular high school diploma, but that would take another 3 1/2 years…. that 17 months suddenly becomes well over 40 months. This is again where with a year long break, maybe I could make it through. I laugh, Nancy, every time I read the thing about how I sound centered. Thank you, but centered is just one of many states of my mind:)

This is the thing: from the time difficult child was (born?) my reaction was that I was so glad that I didn't know what having a kid was like because if I knew, there's NO WAY I would have had one…. but I'm so glad to have him, so I'm glad I didn't know. But other people had kids then thought it was a good idea to have more. I was baffled.

Having had that experience, and feeling the toll from round about day one-- that's where I tend to think I am the problem. Maybe I caused him into that role. Certainly, being raised in a marriage as unhealthy as mine was was a factor-- and a factor in why I found it so difficult to have a child from day one….

That's all stuff that I will keep sitting with for the foreseeable future. What remains on the plate now is now.

I got another call. difficult child was with the MD, they were altering his medications again-- adding a muscle relaxant. He said he didn't feel as doped up as he did when he first started the Seroquel, and he sounded less doped up. He went in saying that the first thing he was going to do when he got home is smoke a blunt. On the phone he told me that time was going quickly and he was enjoying his sobriety. That phrase "enjoying sobriety" sounded like such a canned line that he had taken in and meant, but like it wasn't really him and I don't trust it. So I asked, so are you still planning on getting high when you get out? He said no and, again, at the moment he said it I'm sure he meant it.

My take away from the conversation was that maybe I should give him another chance. He went the rehab once before but it was too close to the house and there was less pressure from the judge so he just ran away and came home (I perceive him as a boomerang). He was at the last one less than 12 hours. So this is the first time he's really been and maybe it's helping him.

When I shared the conversation with the friend with 2 PCs she took away--maybe he needs to stay for a very long time. I just waiver between giving him another chance at home and letting him fail out of that or pushing for the year long now….. and just because I push doesn't mean I will get it….

I will say though that that is all in the back of my mind. I had a peaceful, meditative day. I continue to feel myself unwind into the peace and feel fearful about getting too unwound then difficult child coming back. Sort of like, maybe it's safer not to see peace until I can have it.


So, while difficult child has sounded positive in every other call I have gotten, tonight, he was his old manipulative self. ….but maybe he really is being abused in the rehab….

He started the conversation saying that I had to give him permission to leave early, he was giving me a chance, otherwise I would ruin his life. He is planning on getting himself kicked out of the program this evening. He says he's keeps getting beat up (he has never been in a fight in his life). He says he can barely open an elbow from a previous injury, that he had to spend a day in "protective custody" with the adults, while they could get rid of the people who hurt him. He said the fights are ongoing and started 5 days ago, but the last time I talked to him was less than 5 days ago and he didn't mention anything-- he said time was going quickly and he was enjoying his sobriety.

None of that is going to work on me-- I told him that if he chooses to get himself kicked out (sounded like he planned on assaulting someone) that was his choice, and that if he gets kicked out he is definitely going to a longer term place. He said his plan was that he would just get himself kicked out of that one and the next one and the next one and it was all my fault. I told him that his behavior is totally his choice and I didn't have anything to do with it.

I texted his PO and will have him call up there tomorrow to get a clearer idea of what's going on--I'm going to try and delegate and that stay as far out of it as possible. But, yes, I feel upset. I feel concerned for his safety. I feel furious at him. When the phone rang I did not really want to talk to him, but I answered. If adults from the facility are calling I want to talk to them…. So I don't know if just not answering is a great plan….

I feel disturbed, my peace is disrupted (but I am responsible for my peace…) and I feel angry and futile.

And, I don't know there discharge protocol. Like, do I need to lock up jewelry and cash that I have been leaving out in case he is just here when I get home? Can I refuse to take him back? And if I can, is doing so really merited, and if it is can I stomach it?

His behavior really does have nothing to do with me. He is from a less tough background that many of the people he's with and his social skills are poor, so it wouldn't surprise me--or, I do assume that there is at least a grain of truth to what he is saying about being bullied…. But he is bullying me when he starts in with a demand, telling me that I have to do something I don't want to do or he's going to bring suffering. Grrrr.

I really don't want to talk to him. But I don't have the heart to tell them that he's not allowed to call me.

We are now on day 10 and I continue to feel myself settling. The settling keeps getting deeper so I don't know how far it goes. I don't know what *I* am like, without this huge constant stressor. And I'm annoyed.


Well-Known Member
I think you are being manipulated. And I don't think he's ready to quit if he is talking about smoking a blunt when he gets home. And it's abusive bullying to threaten you, yes.

If you think he might be getting bullied, call staff and ask if they have cameras in the place. If so, have them check. If not, have them check his body for bruises and other marks of physical bullying. I know that when I had a foster child in residential, they had cameras running all over 24/7. He may just be saying that to soften up your mommy heart. They are good at that. Be sure to have them check and ex-ray that elbow.

When I had my first child, he was a terror, so I decided to adopt my other My family tree's DNA leaves a lot to be desired. It pretty much worked. Although one of them did do drugs for five years in high school, she really straightened out and quit and has been straight for ten years now and is doing well. I wanted other kids, just not kids who were like my first. I knew that all kids were not like him and I hoped to have some easy child kids. It worked, but I so know how you you felt with your child.

I not only was happy when difficult child left, I made him leave and he can never live with us again. We get along fine as long as he's in another state and I can hang up on him if he gets verbally abusive. When my daughter was using drugs I had to make her leave too, but, under the drug use, she was such a sweet and good person, I cried for three weeks. I cried when my autistic son, who is high functioning and whom everyone loves to death, moved to an apartment a few blocks away. I cried my eyes out when my youngest, my great easy child who has given both my husband and myself tons and tons of pleasure, moved to college.

My autistic son Sonic and Jumper, my easy child, never gave us a lick of trouble in their lives.

difficult child was a chronic problem starting in toddlerhood and it is a real wonder that I ever wanted to attempt raising another child, but I'm glad I did.

Even though my PCs are wonderful, I am happy with an empty nest. Living with grown kids can be stressful, if only because of the crowding and mess. Living with a grown difficult child, unless you live in a mansion and can hide a lot, is a little bit like torture. You always feel as if you are walking on eggshells. You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If you give him another change, do it with your eyes wide open. Look for signs of recurrent drug abuse. Does he steal? If so, lock everything up so he can't. Cut off the money (my opinion) and make him work. And I"ll cross my fingers, eyes and toes for you. My daughter quit drugs and your son can too. But he has to WANT to quit. That's the key.

Don't lose your peace of mind. It's your house. If you find he doesn't like your rules, you have all the power. You can tell him to get clean and come back when he is. Take a deep breath, but he will have to prove his sobriety to you. You are the one in control here.
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Yeah, 16. That is the whole crux of the matter.

The place called me back and apparently, some kick dumped a bowl of cereal on his head the other day then he stood, as if to slug the kid, (though assault is not my difficult child's way-- this would have been the first time), but the kid's friend got him first-- hit him the jaw. The place should have called me. But I really don't mind that they didn't--I'm happy to be left alone.

The 2 kids involved got kicked out.

I think this is the incident that changed his perspective and, obviously, it's not cool. He was bullied. The place did take action-- had my kid checked medically and expelled the 2 other kids….

My difficult child has put himself into that situation. He's put himself in a place where stuff like this happens. Is it ok, no, but it's not within my control, and I am not going to try and fix it by letting him leave.

The woman I spoke to tad me she felt threatened by my kid (as he had been threatening me on the phone-- she shut the call down), that he doesn't do rules, and it is likely that he did somehow instigate the incident… I don't want to be victim-blaming with him, and he is in the role of the victimized, but I have to assume he did contribute.

Apparently, they are also having trouble with him requesting to see the MD, I just found out. He always wants new medications or the change medications…. he loves doctors and drugs and hospitals…. we go to the ER all the freaking time-- because I can't quite deny him medical attention and I never know if it's a for real thing…. And that frustrating bit where he is 16, so I have to stop my life and go with him…

But they say the MD can't keep seeing him everyday.

Clearly everything is about the spiral. The director is supposed to call me tomorrow. I left word that I don't want him back. And that when they do discharge him, I want him discharged to a longer term placement. In a way, I am grateful to have a difficult, manipulative, bullying encounter with difficult child on the phone because it made it easy to make the request for the long term placement.

What I suspect is about to happen is a lot of discharges until he ends up in a place that can handle conduct disorder. This is old mental health vs substance problem. I don't think substance treatment is going to work because he is too…. difficult child, and there's other stuff that has to be dealt with. If I just basically do what he says and ask nothing of him, we can get along at home, but that is not a solution.

We were getting a long for a couple months before he left. I had my head buried in work, was eating microwave or take-out… functioning, but now I can cook because I have clean kitchen and the mental space to prepare food myself. I've gotten exercise, taken time for meditation. Somehow, now, it looks like my behavior indicates that life wasn't so great even when we were doing ok.

I think now I need to put on my seatbelt and wait for thing to get worse.
I do think he will get himself expelled. They told me that they won't do it without warning me in advance, which is good to know.

I would be sleepy by now if I hadn't had this upset…. I wish I was sleepy.


More on how that played out--

I got a call the next day from the director of the program and my difficult child (on speaker phone). There were mixed messages.

They were sort of trying to enlist me to persuade difficult child to stay… but difficult child was asking to go, if I would let him. I said no. There was a lot sort-of-yelling. The director was trying to convince difficult child that he plays a role in what he experiences…. that he has accountability. There was massive friction all around. It went on for half an hour, at least. Then the director took him to lunch and called me later.

That conversation, and both really, seemed really and mostly to be about trying to persuade me to come get him, let him sign out against medical advice. That is a confusing thing for me. They say he shouldn't go, but were trying to convince me that I might have to come get him. I said that if he was going to leave early it was CPS that was going to come get him-- I'm not doing it. I'm taking him back early. And the director was telling me about difficult child being disruptive on the floor, a trouble for other kids, and that they couldn't handle. I said, and you think I can? And he was like-- well, he's your responsibility. And then saying that if I don't come get him that it is neglect-- like that is some big scary thing… but I told that I'm not afraid. CPS is fine with me. I can't handle him. …..I mean, really, they are an *institution* and they are saying that he's too much for them-- yet their solution is *me*-- a single mother just trying to get my stuff together and working, and working to achieve a stable life.

I found the conversation very upsetting. Luckily, I only had a few hours I had to manage myself before getting to my therapist. Then I ate a pint of ice cream, slept 11 hours, and, gradually, today been able to get calm-ish again.

I have to keep plugging away at the IEP…

Frustration that the day treatment place was supposed to leave me the paperwork to pick up… paperwork I've been trying to get from them well over a month… and I've been very clear that I need a psychiatric-- not a psychiatric-social…. but they left me a freaking psychiatric-social.

Meanwhile, rehab is making me paperwork I can use too. And tomorrow morning I'm going to another hospital were we've been to the psychiatric ER a few times to get paperwork from them.

When I talked to rehab today they said difficult child has totally turned around-- like a different kid, they are all amazed. He's fine and great now. When I need from their MD is a psychiatric with axis 1 diagnosis (other than conduct disorder)…. so I pointed out that the night/day thing screams axis 1.

Feeling like the call Sunday night just sucked me into a vortex. It's now Tuesday evening and I'm now emerging.