Can you forgive him forever?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Smithmom, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Is there a point at which you've just forgiven the behavior so many times that you can't do it anymore?

    My addict son is now 28. From the time he was 2 I was dealing with behavior problems that were not normal. He was a kid, he was an addict and not thinking clearly, i forgave it all every time. He and I were always super bonded. He's apologized many times when sober for the torture he's put me through over the years.

    Now he's 28 and clean. The only excuse left is that he's angry/ frustrated at the world/ being in prison/ losing his best friend and has no one close to vent it on but me. Because I refuse to do what he wants me to do he's disowned me. Only thing in his power to do. He knows better than to think that I'll ever give in. I am an unyielding rock where his behaviors are concerned.

    It's been 3+ mo. Sooner or later he'll contact me. I know that. Could be 5 years or so when he gets out. Who knows? He'll need a lot of help when he gets out. But I am finding it impossible to even consider forgiving this. He knows what he's doing. He's intentionally hurting me. I find no acceptable excuse. He knows I'll always love him. I've always forgiven. So he's counting on it.

    Can you always forgive? Is there a point when they've gone too far? Am I a terrible person if I disown him?
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Smithmom. I speak only for myself. I love my son. Period. But I have a hard time reconciling myself to the person he has become, in some aspects. There are behaviors that I find hard to accept. Very hard.

    I see and experience it differently, what you describe. I do not forgive the behaviors. I could say I forgive him but it is not really that. I think I forgive myself. Because the reality is that there is no behavior that will affect really my love for him. That love is in me. It is woven into my tissues. It is non-contingent. It is unconditional. There could be stuff that he does that kills my soul. That I would find unpardonable. Where he would become a completely different person in my eyes. But I would still love him. Because the love is in me, not in him.

    There is a disconnection between the love and the relationship, that for me, that I am coming to as detachment. The real change does not happen out there, in the world. It is something that happens inside of me. It has not a thing to do with distance, or cutting off, or doing this or that, it has to do with an attitude, and a place that I hold myself...that is detached from results...outside of me.

    What I realize is this could never change. Or it could. But I will continue to be me, the rest of my life, and I want to be as congruent with love and hope as I can be.
    My son hurts me all of the time. But I do not know if his primary aim is to hurt me or that he is retaliating, because he has experienced hurt and discomfort and frustration or rejection as a consequence of some act on my part. Like a defensive volley.

    The thing is these adult children of ours, do not sufficiently see us as separate people. In fact, sometimes I do not think they see us as people. More as objects that give them what they want and need. Much more infantile, than it should be at this age.
    I think it differs person to person. There are parents here who have been hurt and abused so badly by their child that one would hope that they never forgive. But I do not think they see it like that (I am thinking of one parent here.) I see them as having defended themselves (rightfully) to such an extent, that it would not be an easy thing to unpack their hearts. But maybe it would, who knows?

    I think that if your son has hurt you, you need to go about your merry way. He is likely safe where he is. Let him do as he needs to. I do not think you are served by thinking about a response. You can choose to let it all go. It has nothing to do with you or your love. This is all about him. Your love is untouchable, if you choose this way to see it. You own your heart, your generosity, independent of what he does. But will you expose yourself to more hurt? That is the tough one. Do we wait until they show us that we are safe with them? Or do we do the inner work to make ourselves safe?
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  3. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Smithmom, that’s a tough question. I know I came to a point with my ex husband where I had no more forgiveness left to give. I probably forgave way to much for way too long. Could I come to the same place with one of my kids? I don’t know.

    I guess I see two separate things. The act of forgiveness within our hearts, which allows us to move on and find peace. I think I could alway do that. But reestablishing trust and opening myself up to further hurt is something else entirely. I could see a point where I could not do that again. For forever? I don’t know. Forever is a long time. I don’t like to close doors permanently. But I don’t think you’re a bad person for wanting to protect yourself from further hurt.

    The truth is I’m already wearing a lot of armor with my two difficult ones. I have no real expectations for them anymore. That limits my ability to be hurt By them. I don’t trust them enough to have them stay with me. I have no particular expectations that they will contact me (except when they want something), zero expectations that I will ever be able to lean on them for any kind of support, no expectation that they will remember my birthday or otherwise do anything for me. I know they lie to me, to get things from me or to avoid my disappointment. But they don’t realize I am beyond the ability to be disappointed, because I have no expectations to disappoint. What is is. Is this unconditional love and forgiveness? Or just giving up? I think maybe the latter. We have reached a point where forgiveness is irrelevant.

    I love my kids and always will. If there are things within my power to do for them that I think have a snowball’s Chance in hell of helping, I will continue to do them. But my heart is guarded from them now. It’s one more piece of my sadness. There is a distance between us that I don’t know how to close.
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  4. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Thanks. I need to re- read and digest.
  5. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    I love him. That's not the question. Its been 3 mo and I feel like I'm at my end. I can't see this going on further and then one day he contacts me and says I'm sorry. And I say that's OK? No not OK. He's too old. Sober and knows what he's doing. Call it extortion. That's really what it is. Its not for money its for a name. But its still extortion. If I wont give it to him we don't have a relationship. So that's what how important I am to him?
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I have hope for C. But I wonder if that is because you say that what I write about my son, very aptly describes C.

    But independent of that, I do have hope for C. He sounds like such a sweet and good man. How could it be that there would not be hope for him?
    But you have not used the word hope. You use a better word expectations. Which is a different thing. Maybe I am in the same place with my own son. Hope without expectations.

    My own son told me he would call me back on Saturday, but I realize it was his way to get off the phone. I did text him to let him know that our plan to meet next Saturday would work. He did not respond to the texts.

    I am left with a little bit of fear. There is so much need on my part. Maybe he is holding back because of his strong need, as well.

    Where I really need to be, is in myself. Recognizing yet again that I cannot control the result. I can only be the best me that I can muster up.
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    If I look at it from his point of view, I could see feeling if she loved me, she would want me to be happy. She would care how I feel.

    I am not saying that this is justified. I am only saying that this is one way that he could justify his stance.

    I can guess how painful this is.

    But why do you have to go there, to escalate it? When you first started posting about this you described yourself in terms that were very strong, and that you would hold the line. Where is that resolve now? It is not that I am saying you are folding on your boundary, but you seem to be folding into yourself, collapsing in a way that is more characteristic of ME, not you.

    You do not have to go there. You know you are right. He does not have to admit defeat. Nor do you. Let him be. Let him spin it how he wants. You spin it how you want. You can do that. And hold your ground. He loves you with all his heart. Love does not go away that easy between a parent and a child. Let him stew. It is his confusion and pain. You don't have to own it.

    I just would feel sad if you escalated this even in your heart, especially in your heart--if you do not need to.
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    He feels like he :censored2:ed up his life. Somebody has to hold the bag. Who better than his mother, who has always been there for him, and always will be. I am calling your bluff.

    Life is not fair. You're right. But you did not hold on so long, alone, and get to this place, to say, Oh. I'm done. I'm out of here. No way.

    What he is doing is an age old strategy of triangulation, and you are odd man out. He wants you to hold the icky feelings. The result is mean and cruel. But I do not believe he is aware of how mean it is. He is too caught up in himself.
  9. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    You're right in a lot of ways.

    Fundamentally I'm not collapsing. I'm not giving him the name. I don't think he sees it as making him happy. I think he sees her as someone he wants to blame. If he hadn't been drug exposed in utero.... Thus the anger he wants to vent at her and consequences to her be darned...He doesn't care. If he destroys her life and her relationships with her kids and family so what? He doesn't see that I don't want him to burn that bridge. I want him to be more mature. He won't listen to me explain her position he's not going to listen to her. So turn the anger on me. Am I supposed to accept this assignment of anger for where his life is and has been? For how long?

    I do believe he knows how mean this is and how much it hurts me. Unlike others here I have opened up my emotions to him when he has had periods of sobriety (in jail). That's part of why we're so close. But it means he knows how to really hurt me. That's not easy to do given all I've been through. But he took the next step too which is to try to alienate my middle son from me. He's successfully doing that. He can't get at my youngest, my autistic one. But I have no doubt he'd try if he could.get at him.

    But yes, I feel that I want to escalate it. Because I want to end the pain. Every day with no contact is pain. If I end it then I can grieve and end the pain. It can't come back day after day. I'm not waiting for the contact in one, two or 5 years. Not waiting for the release date when he calls and says I need help and oh yea I'm sorry.
  10. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Copa, you mentioned something that would kill your soul. That you would find unpardonable. That's what this is to me.

    I lost everything for my kids, for him in particular. My career, my money, my home, my town, my state, every professional contact I had, my identity as a professional, a contributing member of society, a member of the middle class, a woman of competence. My depression overcame me. But this was my choice. I chose my kids over everything. By my definition my kids are all I have. He is taking that away. So yes, you could say he's taking my soul in some sense. And he knows it.

    I'm religious so definition of soul may be different to me.
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Smithmom. I seems you are too like me for your own good.
    I had forgotten the particulars. This is just like my son. Except his parents died. So there is nobody to go after. Except me.
    No. But it is up to you not him whether or not you accept it. It's like hot potato. If you don't catch it, it passes you by. Don't accept it.
    This is vicious and horrible.
    This is a fantasy. Unfortunately you are thinking like me, here. It does not work. The only end to the pain is in you. Not be ending it, by disowning him or closing the door forever. This is both an illusion and rigid and it will fly back into your face.

    For me, I feel greater peace since I reached out to my son. Yes. I am sad and fearful that one, I am opening the door to more conflict and worry. And two, that he will reject me, because I am not acceding to 100 percent of what he wants, on his terms. I am worried that he will punish me. Because I drew a boundary. I doubt myself because I fear I was wrong to hold him accountable. In other words, I get wobbly and abandon myself.

    To me, a strong me, would love him, open the door, hold my boundaries, communicate my boundaries, and be open to the possibility of change and growth for the both of us.

    For you right now, it is harder, because he is closing the door and recruiting allies, which is very mean. In time, when his strategy does not work, he will reach out to you. I am certain of it. The timeframe, I do not know.

    Your challenge, is to NOT ABANDON YOURSELF. And to draw an arbitrary line in the sand is to abandon yourself. You would not serve yourself by this, I am convinced.

    When I kicked out my son 4 months ago, after the crisis abated, for a month I felt relief. I felt stronger. But after a month, I died inside.

    I think I can live with the current risks, which would be he rejects my overtures, because he recognizes this will not work, his coming back, because he cannot secure one hundred percent what he wants, now, and any less is insufficient. Or it could be that he knows like your own son does that he gains power by not giving me what he knows I want and need, which is him. That he is served by my great need of him. And it is a waiting game. That eventually my craving for the drug, will propel me to collapse into myself, and settle on his terms.

    Which is very like what your son is doing.

    But why do we have to go there? We love them. They love us. Why can't we let them be, and try to nurture ourselves from a position of strength and self-acceptance, and let them stew in their juices? I mean they are the ones in jeopardy, not us.

    The question is why do we go to agony? For each of us, the answer is both the same and different. But I believe it is knowable.
  12. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    There's probably another component here which is that my finances have changed substantially. I'm collecting retirement. Its not that I'm rich. Its that I can afford a car, find doctors, afford medicines and not have to live some place I hate because its all I can afford. I feel like I am getting my life back in some ways. After all these years. I'm moving forward with plans for my kids when I'm gone. And while I'm anticipating a happy life he's trying to ruin it.
  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I see it differently.

    You GAVE everything for your kids.

    Giving is a choice. Losing is not. You chose. It was not that you deserved to lose everything. It is that you were willing to put it all on the line for love. To me, that makes you a great hero, and that you won at life. You won the lottery. How many people get to live lives of such great courage and heart that they put it all on the line...for something as noble as great love.

    You did not do this for a result. You did it because that is who you are. You defined yourself greatly, and you won. No matter what happens, you achieved greatness in spirit and in your soul. In the spiritual tradition I follow we live in order to heal our souls. And not only that we through our lives can choose to live in such a way that returns light to the Divine, through living well.

    This is what you have done. Forget about all the stupid and trivial stuff of the ego, which is where I have hung out (unfortunately) in my life. My only real achievement was loving my son. Loving is an action verb and it is not contingent on the action or reciprocity of the object.

    Do you regret your choices, really? Would you have been capable of choosing otherwise?

    Don't think I don't fall into the same morass. I was feeling the same way, to an extent. I did cut off my son. And when I did I felt that my whole life did not have meaning. And when he did not thrive, I felt, too that it was all for naught. But now I am trying to own that I did not do it for a result. I loved. And I love. And that is the important thing.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  14. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    I see that you're probably right. That I have this la la land world of happiness I hope for which cannot be. That trying to cut out the cancer won't make it go away. I haven't attempted to contact him other than to try to pass on that message about an inmate in trouble. Which is where the second son came in. I asked him to pass the message to my son and he got nasty with me telling me that he sides with my first "but won't get in the middle" huh? My second has his own list of issues. Logic and reason are not strengths. And he proceeded to harangue me as only ADHD can about my position re this name.

    I hear you. I'll hang in. Probably be feeling the same and ready to break my resolution again. Only way I can see to alleviate the pain. But yes, right now I can't see how I can forgive and forget this. But maybe some day... Thanks as always...
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I have to go to sleep but this is addictive. I will say goodbye after this post.

    What is this? Do you feel guilty enjoying your life and being secure, when he is not? Why? (It takes one to know one.)

    Of course you deserve a satisfying, secure and comfortable life of dignity. I do too.

    This is the question that I struggle with. How can I prosper, when he is on the street? I couldn't. But now I found some strength in myself, that I did not know before. I see that if I make a boundary, and then in my heart, hold onto hope, I can begin to nurture myself.

    I studied a tiny bit of Kabbalah and I wish I knew more. There is the concept of gevurah. Boundaries. (I am not so good with boundaries.) So. I fell apart when I made a boundary. But the thing I wish I could remember right is that boundaries free us up so that we can achieve something even greater, and stronger and more beautiful. They help us manifest goodness in a stronger and more essential way. What I am trying to say, is that I feel that now. I feel more able to deal with the risk, to hold the risk. And that is a good thing. I will, unfortunately for me, go to try to find that concept. But I will not get back to you tonight.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Kabbala #12: Chesed and Gevurah: The Two Sided Approach

    That's a link that talks about the interaction of boundaries, gevurah, with kindness which is chesed. I did not have a chance to read much of it, but wanted to at least take a stab at explaining what I meant. Have a good night, smithmom.
  17. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Just to clarify. Yes, it was my knowing decision to given up everything for my kids. My oldest gets it. My second doesn't. To the second it was about my depression which is about weakness. Like I said, logic and reason not strengths.

    But for me it was about God and religion. I prayed for a child promising God that I would give up my life for that child. I repeated that promise when the minister who did adoptions handed the oldest to me. To me I kept to my prayer, my promise to God. Yes, its who I am. But whenever I questioned it, as each piece of my life fell away or therapist said he'd never change, that it wouldn't get better, I went back to that promise.
  18. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    I will read it.

    Thanks again. Good night.
  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    You misunderstood me. I did not mean you were collapsing in your boundary, which is giving him the name. I meant that you were collapsing inside of yourself, because of the chasm that has opened up. What that chasm is, you need to fill in. But I believe you fell in it for a little while and now you are climbing out.
  20. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    That's a really hard question. I wonder if it is somehow different with addiction vs. mental illness...although the two can be co-mingled. With our daughter, who is mentally ill, I try to look at it without emotion as much as possible. I set boundaries all over the place. This largely takes the emotion out of it. Some things, I just can not and will not tolerate. Sadly, she tries to break the boundaries relatively often. But, I do see her making efforts and there are improvements. Also, if the behavior is causing you harm, it might be that at some point, you have to remove yourself. I personally am not sure if "forgive" is necessarily at play. It's confusing for me too. Wishing you well. These things can be so difficult.