Can't sleep

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by shiela, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. shiela

    shiela Member

    I read and read all the replies that I thankfully received from this wonderful board, yet, I am collapsing from guilt. My son, 33, was granted rehab from state for three weeks, after herion abuse. His history of rehabs and our support afterwards has been over 10 years. I wrote previously about this and have said no this time. But.. He went to a shelter, was offered some advice which he asked to come here and share with us. We agreed. His decision to work and the shelter help him save money for himself and the future of his girlfriend and baby who is in a long term rehab, sounded good. He asked if he could buy flip flops for the shelter shower. His dad took him to Kmart and bought him underwater, socks, razors, the flip flops. They hugged and said they lived one another. We receive ereceipts from Kmart. Twenty minutes after my husband said goodbye to my son, .. My son returned his new belongings. The next day, he sent my husband a text asking if he could come to shower. He was texted back that we knew he returned his personal hygiene belongings and was not welcome back here. No reply and nothing since. I pray for him. We won't help any longer. I hope and pray he can get well, but, I feel he is too deep. I don't know how to separate to even laugh again.
  2. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    I'm so sorry, shiela. Devastating.

    I don't have any words of wisdom as I haven't been in your situation. However, many supportive cyber hugs sent your way.
  3. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Shiela, I am so sorry for your hurt and the ongoing betrayal of your love and support.

    I think it is the very best of us----when we listen to people we love, we take what they say at face value, we believe it, and then we respond with a small act of assistance---like you did when husband took your son to Kmart and bought him those few essentials.

    Then, we learn something new about them and about us if and when they make the choice to do what your son did.

    It is never wrong to do what you did, in terms of the type of person you are and want to be.

    That small act of believing in him was not big enough to do him true harm, and it did allow you to respond in a human way to someone you love.

    I am sorry your son is not ready to live a life of honesty and change. That is what he told you with the thing he did.

    The good news here (if you can find something good in this, and I am working to do that) is that your eyes are opened a little bit more. You can now move forward a little bit on your own road to recovery, grieving and crying and accepting and detaching, once again, a little bit more, from this grown man---this adult---whom you love so very much but who continues to make bad choices for his own life.

    I think with each act like this that our difficult children make, we let them go a little bit more. That is the good part.

    The sad (so sad) part is that they are still not ready for change. When, we ask, will they EVER be ready? We fear never. And we may be right, but Shiela, we don't know.

    God did not give us this ability to know the future, and that is a blessing. It is never too late for someone to change. Never.

    And God can work miracles, and does every day. But, the person has to want it, open himself or herself to it, and work hard.

    Who knows? Maybe this time, very soon, your son will decide that enough is enough. If you and I can stay out of the way of our difficult children and their lives, maybe they will take responsibility, maybe they will see clearly, maybe they will finally be ready to take charge of themselves and live out the lessons we have taught them since they were little.

    I don't know, Shiela. I completely understand because I am and still will be living this same life you are living with my 25-year-old son, who is today in jail for the 8th or 9th time in three years.

    Will he EVER get it? That is the $64,000 question for us all here. I do know this: If he EVER does, it won't be through anything I do or don't do.

    Warm big hugs and love for you today. Please be extra kind to yourself for the next day or two. Get your bearings again. Work for change in your own life---to detach with love, to accept, to find peace and joy and serenity, regardless of what your son decides to do.
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Sheila, COM gave great advice. I can't top it. He probably returned the items to buy drugs. This is part of the drug culture. At any rate, lessons learned are never a waste. Not it's time to take care of yourself and focus on your own happiness. You can not fix your son. He is edging toward middle age. HE needs to take control. YOU need to have a fruitful, happy retirement, even though your son is a mess. Letting go is the key. You may want to join Narc-Anon.
    I mean, you don't HAVE to...but what is the point if you don't? Then EVERYONE will be miserable and your sleepless nights do not help your son one wit. You have nothing to feel guilty about. At your son's age all of his actions are on his own shoulders.

    I offer my layperson's insight to difficult children in general.

    Maybe because of drug abuse, maybe because they have personality disorders, maybe both in some cases, when they suddenly want to see us, it is almost always NOT to reconnect with family. It is usually to make a pitch for us to buy them things or do things for them that they should have been able to do themselves in high school. They don't want to grow up. They do not want to take responsibility. For whatever reason. It doesn't help them when we comply. Just like it doesn't help them when we have no life at all because we are obsessing over them. Only they can help them. Your ruined life does not help them. You don't have to be miserable because your adult child is in trouble. It is a choice all of us make.

    Are you getting any sort of t herapy for yourself? YOU MATTER!

    Do something very nice for yourself today!!!! You are worth it!
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    This is very very true. And it happens over and over again. I am learning that when difficult child writes/calls/texts/shows up, to do nothing, continue to set my boundaries and say little to nothing.

    When he first went to jail, he wrote two long letters within the first four or five days. All asking me to do things---pay fines, hire a lawyer, get him out, because THIS time is the worst...blah blah blah. I did none of it.

    No letters since then. Isn't that interesting?

    I don't send books in jail anymore, don't put money on his account anymore, don't go to court anymore, don't bail him out anymore, don't hire lawyers anymore, don't allow him to come here after he gets out anymore, don't get him an apartment anymore. On and on and on, the things I don't do anymore that I used to do. I have washed his coat lately. I have given him a sandwich lately. I have allowed him to take a shower here lately. I did buy him a six-pack of socks lately.

    I still can get mixed up. That is why I have to keep working on ME---every single day. Every day.

    On one of these threads someone gently took me to task recently about whether to help or not. They thought I should help a bit more. I understand and respect that point of view and I would never believe I know what someone else should or should not do.

    We must be able to live with ourselves.

    That gentle taking to task made me think about difficult child telling me, "Well, Mom, when you first get out of jail, SOMEONE has to help, otherwise, there's no way you can really change because it's so hard to have no job, no money, no place to stay, no car." That stuck with me because it is simply common sense that it would be very, very hard. Would it be impossible, if you really wanted a new life? I don't think it would be impossible, and I have learned that there is lots and lots and lots of help out there for people who are honest and serious.

    And then I read an article in the paper this week about the major city nearby that is working hard to get homeless people into housing and provide lots of support so they can stay there successfully....

    and those three things....were allit took to make me start thinking on the insanity spiral: "Well, if he gets out this time, and doesn't go to prison, maybe I'll just take him to the city nearby and take him to a shelter so he can get all of that support.....or maybe I'll pay for four weeks in a halfway house, because that would give him a start......." And before you know it---as far as I have come and as much as I work on this---I was spiraling into the crazy thinking that I CAN DO SOMETHING TO AFFECT ANOTHER ADULT"S DECISIONS.


    Haven't I already been there and DONE ALL OF THAT? For years and years and years? Yes I have.

    And not one single time did anything I did affect the course my son has decided to take. In fact, for all of my great help, he has only gotten in worse and worse trouble.

    I told the Al-Anon group yesterday about my thinking (above) and how I have to keep working so hard---going back to the first three steps over and over and over again----

    Step One. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (drugs, whatever, life in general, my difficult child, my enabling, my pride, my selfishness, so many things, everything) and that our lives have become unmanageable.

    Step Two. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    Step Three. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

    Step Three is vital, but we have to work Step One and Step Two first...over and over and over. I love Step Three: MADE A DECISION.

    Today I make decisions. I am going to have a good day today. I am going to work toward acceptance. I am not going to answer the phone when difficult child calls from jail because I don't need to talk to him right now. Today I make decisions to make my life better.

    Then, the hard part, to turn our will and our lives over. To just turn it all over. I can't change my difficult child. All of my help and love and support in the world won't do it IF HE DOESN"T TRULY WANT IT.

    I can only manage myself and that is a full time job. So I must, I must, turn it all over. Every day. Multiple times a day.

    I am only human so I fail again and again. I can only do what I can live with. I am working to change ME so I can let go of other people, let them live their own lives without interference from me, and love and support and encourage them regardless.

    A tall order, but it IS Possible to make ongoing progress on this work, and through it all, to discover a life that is joyful, peaceful, serene and wonderful most of the time. I am profoundly grateful for the path that others have shown me and I am going to work on it for the rest of my life.
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  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    But Shiela, in this terrible place where we are with our kids...that was not much to pay for what you have learned about where your son is with his addiction.

    Addiction is the wrongness here Shiela. Not you or husband, and not even your son. We parents have to be wiser and stronger than we ever knew we could be, when our children are caught in addiction.

    You and husband did the right thing. You love your child. You want him to do well.

    But you cannot do this for him.

    I am sorry this happened, Shiela. But it taught you a necessary lesson. You will be stronger, next time.

    It helped us Shiela, to figure out what we would need to see before we would help. We decided we needed to see that the child had a goal he had already made progress toward. That is how you will know when and whether to help. Knowing when we will help gives us firm ground to stand on when we refuse to help.

    And boy, we need that.

    What we learned is that if the child is on the right path? He will not need our help.

    It gets to be about the choice to survive it, Shiela. It is a choice. COM posts about her toolbox, about the tools she knows will help her stay strong and steady. I like that analogy. We are in the middle of something that really can destroy us. Something that may destroy our child, whatever we do. It is impossible to face that stuff. But we don't get to opt out.

    So, if we are going to make it Shiela, we have to choose health, we have to work toward happiness, we have to be constantly aware of the pain of it, and we need to take measures to reclaim our lives and our joy in our marriages and in each other.

    We aren't going to make it otherwise. And then? The addiction that is destroying our children destroys us, too.

    Fight it, Shiela.

    What are your tools?



  7. Annie2007

    Annie2007 Member

    I like that...the addiction that is destroying my son could very well destroy me. I am trying not to let that happen.

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  8. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I volunteered at a homeless shelter where everyone who walked in got a home cooked meal by some very good cookin' Church ladies and had a thick mattress and blankets and pillows and a community room and people to talk to. They got free coats and gloves a nd hats. They also had the chance to work with social workers who knew how they could get help. We set up job interviews. We had more connections of to start living a productive life then most parents do and we were eager and willing to help anyone who wanted the help.

    Most never showed up for any of the appointments set for them...refused the job interviews, turned down the appointments for food/housing/welfare/job training/rehab...they simply did not want to stop using drugs. Most had also done the rounds in their family. First, they burned their parents to the ground and were thrown out of that home, then relatives and friends would step up and eventually see what Dad and Mom did the "you're OUT" deed. They could not stay in rentals or motels that others paid for because they'd use drugs/party/vandalize...they almost chose to stay on the streets.

    Some had little kids.

    You can get help if you want it. It's there. You don't need Dad and Mom's money to get your life together. In fact, I don't know anyone on this board ever who has had that method work. It is up to the individual drug user/mentally ill person/personality disordered adult/whatever our adult children is 100% up to them to change. And there is help if you want it, no matter where you live, even if not ESPECIALLY on the streets.

    We do not have to hand over our retirement for our adult children to see that light bulb and finally do the hard work to better their lives.
  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    difficult child daughter was homeless last year. MWM is right. Many who are homeless have been evicted from apartments and/or blacklisted from even the worst dives in town because of their lifestyles.

    We tried to get difficult child daughter to come home, but she would not leave the streets because we would not take her current lover in, too. (!) When he was jailed for attempted vehicular homicide (of her), then difficult child daughter came in off the streets.

    None of this is easy ~ not for us, and not for our kids. But until the kids decide to change, nothing you can do is going to change it. For me, detachment has been about detaching from the hopelessness, from the stupid desperation, of the way I feel about where my kids are in their lives. Once I can step away from the emotions, I can see what to do.

    Again, detachment.

    Then, with the emotions understood and that emotional charge that leads us into the FOG defused a little, I can understand there is nothing I can do.

    I need to, and you do too Shiela, try to be kinder to ourselves.

    That's all.

    Kinder to ourselves.

    Forgive ourselves, and be kinder to ourselves.

  10. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I think everything MWM posted here is vital for us to know and understand as we work hard on our own recovery from enabling, and turn our focus on ourselves instead of our adult children. These are golden words. These are write-me-down words.

    This is what runs through our heads in the dark night of the soul, it is the Parade of the Terribles that haunts our sleep, and occupies our minds all day long as we sift back and forth, trying to determine what in the world we can try that we haven't tried before, because our best efforts, our profound love, our common sense, our money, our on-our-knees prayers, our incredible persistence, pastors, ministers, well-meaning friends, district attorneys who are in our bible study who have reached out, lawyer friends who have represented difficult child multiple times.......everything in the world.....every possible resource we can muster.....nothing has worked.


    There must be something, right? We just haven't found it yet. If we can only think hard enough, pray hard enough, read enough books, talk to enough people, surely there is at least one more thing we can try. Maybe that one more thing will work this time. Maybe NOW he/she is ready. Maybe we go through it all again because before, they weren't ready, and now they might be. In fact, they said they are so it must be true. And the merry-go-round goes round and round, never getting anywhere, and we completely lose ourselves and we are practically insane with it all.

    For many of us---those of us from Missouri who can't believe what other people say, we have to learn it for ourselves---it is vital that we understand what MWM posted above. We need to do whatever it takes---the homework in our own communities, if necessary---in order to understand that there are incredible resources---completely apart from us---in this world to help people. We don't have to do a single thing. We need, if we are from Missouri, to make our own lists of resources, to visit the shelters and programs in our communities, to get a copy of what our difficult children have been given, time and time again. I found an Excel spreadsheet in my son's backpack when I picked it up from jail the last time he was arrested. It was about six pages long. It had every resource listed in our town of 110,000 people----food, shelter, job help, housing help, clothing, food stamps, you name it. There were spaces beside each listing of what and who and where and how for the person to take notes, to write down comments, to keep a record. The Excel sheets were crumpled, and they were completely blank.

    Do you know what those crumpled sheets of paper said to me? They spoke a thousand words.

    Then----then-----we can say to ourselves, and we can begin to truly believe it: It's not going to ever happen through something I do or don't do.

    If it is to happen, in our lifetimes, it is going to be because our adult child wanted it more than anything he or she has ever wanted in their lives, and it's going to come through other people.

    It is going to come when he has the guts, the persistence, the will, the desire, the courage to change and that Excel spreadsheet will be completely covered with checkmarks and phone numbers and appointment dates. It will be used.

    This is vital for us who are continuing to hurt and suffer and try for years and years and years. We must find a way to stop this insanity because if we don't, we are going to lose our own lives right along with our difficult children, and really, what is the point in that? It is not going to stop them or save them. It is just going to destroy us, along with them.

    Addiction, the family disease.
  11. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Thanks, COM. It was eye-opening and this was before my daughter was using drugs. I never thought any of my kids ever WOULD use drugs, since we had set such a good example...hahahahaha. Silly me. Jokes on me.

    The two difficult children I know of here on CD who actually did stop using drugs and are living productive lives did not quit due to parental intervention or even rehabs. My own daughter detoxed in her a****hole brother's basement (this is Scott who has all the compassion of a rock and probably no idea what was happening in his basement). She did it alone. She did not tell anyone about it until after and she had been clean for a few months. Her lightbulb moment was when she moved to brother's basement, knowing he would throw her out if she even lit up a cigarette, and realized that his controlling, restrictive enviroment at least allowed her to be free of her crazy druggy life...she did not want to built another crazy druggy life and she quit.

    The other difficult child who quit was pregnant and in jail an d quit. I assume it was because of her beloved child, but that doesn't stop all difficult children. Something had to have gone off in her head too...some lightbulb...and she also was not living at home.

    But of course plenty are on the streets and DON'T have a lightbulb moment. Many of our clients, as we called them at the homeless shelter, had been coming for years and years and some were middle aged, some were elderly. All had addiction. None were there because they were down on their luck. I assume if anyone just down on luck became homeless and had no family to help the family would ask for assistance and follow the rules so they could stay until better arrangements could be found. Our difficult children don't want to follow any rules. Unless we don't attach any behavioral strings to their behavior, they reject help. Often they abuse us if we set a boundary or walk out of an expensive rehab that we funded or trash an apartment we paid for (and probably signed for so we are culpable for the destruction).

    The common thread I noticed with the homeless people who would come to sleep at our shelter was substance abuse and a total unwillingness to get clean. Now it's not like they whispered secrets into our ears. Street folks are very private. But you could tell by red eyes, behavior, and the little they did say to us or one another that this was what was going on. Sometimes we'd hear them talking in the community room about where to get drugs or what drugs to get. And where they could hang out during the day (the library was a big draw). At night, a different church had a hot, delicious meal and a thick mattress and blankets every nigiht. We gave them vouchers to use the train. Trust me, nobody else got free train vouchers...the train was expensive. They would definitely go place to place to get the meal. We even packed a sandwich for lunch. We gave them warm clothing for free. Most were satisfied with that type of life as long as they could keep using drugs. Some disappeared forever. Some came every week. It taught me a lot.

    This, by the way, was not in an inner city. This was a very VERY elite community in the Chicago suburbs where you really don't SEE the homeless and if you didn't work at the shelter you may not believe there WERE homeless. These people were the sons and daughters of successful people who probably did all that we did and are/were probably also just as heartbroken as us.
  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Last time, when difficult child first got out of jail and was back at the day shelter and the Salvation Army---in our town they go back and forth between the two---he said this:

    Wow Mom, it's a lot of the same people who were here before. I can't believe these same people are still here.

    Like he was.


    I sadly believe he is one of those people you described above. I really wonder if this is just going to be his life from now on.

    That is an idea I am trying to hold constant, along with my prayer that a miracle does happen.

    The long, long road to acceptance. I am walking it step by step, MWM.
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    None of us know how to separate Sheila, we all have to learn how. That's what we are all doing here, we're in varying stages of that separation and in varying stages of learning to laugh again. Everyone has offered you good advice and support, it will be helpful for you to recognize that you are not alone, you can always come here and receive the empathy, compassion and understanding that often, we can't get in the other areas of our lives. It takes being on this path to understand the gravity and the heartbreak.

    Sheila, take a step back from your sons life and make a choice to begin to focus on what your needs are. We become so embroiled in the drama of our kids lives that it takes our own lives over and we aren't aware of exactly how much we've actually lost. We've lost our joy, our peace, our sense of safety and our well being. We have to reclaim all of that. We do that incrementally. First we set those boundaries around our kids behaviors, then we access what it is going to take to bring ourselves back to LIFE.

    It takes a commitment and an intention to put yourself and your needs as the priority, but once you do that, the road will become clearer for you. Make sure you and your husband are receiving some kind of support, professional therapy, Families anonymous, al-anon, CoDa, whatever works for you, it's too hard to do alone. Small things like taking a walk, journaling, meditating, lunch with friends.......... choosing joy, choosing life, choosing peace..............little by little making each day about YOU and what it is YOU want and need. As you return to your own life, the decisions you've made with your son, will become more comfortable and it will be easier for you to sustain.

    It's a process. It takes time. We have to re-educate ourselves to step back from parenting and step into being people with our own lives to live, our lives are as precious and valuable as our kids and we must honor that.

    With boundaries intact and a strong sense of self, we are then capable of laughter............of letting go.............of accepting what is........

    One step at a time Sheila, that's how we get to peace of mind.
  14. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I know this is an older thread but like to go through them for tidbits. I saw this and felt compelled to respond to it. I have worked in Corrections for 22 years and can tell you for a fact that even with family support, it can be very difficult for someone getting out of prison to get their life straight. Some inmates are difficult child's and some have simply made poor choices that they are recovering from even while incarcerated. Its fairly easy to tell the difference as the difficult child's are the ones who come back to prison over and over. The fact of the matter is that while it can be extremely difficult for someone being release from prison who has no support system waiting on them it it is NOT impossible. Yes, it will involve a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, this is something that our difficult child's actively avoid. Yes, it will take a lot of perseverance as convicted felons face many more obstacles than most people do. The thing is, there are resources out there! Their case workers in prison have access to a wealth of information and resources to help them when they are released. I know this for a fact because Im a case worker. All they have to do is put out the effort, ask for the information, and keep trying. Not something our difficult child's are know for doing though.