Car-gone, take me away!

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Hope_Floats, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    I’m not sure that we’re a band of angels here, but I’m about to join your chorus.

    I am aware that there is no answer to this….none at all…..and that sometimes no response, where our difficult children are concerned, is actually the best response of all.

    My 22 year old difficult child (who, like most of yours, only texts or calls when he needs something) texted me that he had rolled his car. It actually used to be my car. The car that I cherished because I had worked hard for it, had paid it off, and it had taken me to and from and through a job that I loved and which had allowed me to pay off debt, pay my bills, and do so with a fair amount of comfort and style, as it was a cute little car with some bells and whistles. By the time he finished with it, it was scratched up, banged up, filthy and trashed inside and out, had a nail in the tire and, now, a roof that’s crushed in by 18 inches and is completely totaled. Of course, “totaled” is an insurance company term that indicates that the damage repair would be more costly than the value of the car, so they pay out the “total”. So that’s not really an accurate term to use here because difficult child did not carry collision insurance on it (only liability, if even his payments were up-to-date on that).

    This was the second car that he’d been given so far in his life. The first one was a high school graduation gift so that he could work and go to school (We gave him a laptop also for graduation. For school.) But when he went away (at my expense) for what was to be a yearlong rehab program on a self-sustaining farm in New Hampshire, we gave that car to a friend (it needed $1000 worth of repair work to be dependable at that point, due to neglect) and promised to help with replacing it after he finished the program. We figured that would be better than having a car sit idle for a year.

    We didn’t realize that within three months of starting the program, difficult child would be “not getting along” with one of the other residents and would put his fist through a wall following an altercation with said resident and break three bones in his hand. This resulted in his being sent home because one requirement of participation in the program is doing actual work on the farm, which he then couldn’t do, and another requirement is journaling and other written assignments, which he also couldn’t do because the injured hand was also his writing hand.

    So…..he came home to live briefly, temporarily with his dad while he recouped and found a job, who then helped him find an apartment to move into, paid his deposit and first month’s rent for him. Then I gave him my cute little car, since I was moving to another country for a few years with my new spouse who is on an expat assignment and no longer needed transportation.

    That, in my opinion, was WAAAAY more generous than we had to be, especially since he had chosen to party his way out of his first semester of college and “just didn’t like” his way out of the second attempt of living at home and going to community college (he actually preferred to live at home and NOT go to school, but I required that he be at least a part-time student if he were going to live with me).

    Of course there’s much more to the “party his way out of his first semester of college” story that would be very familiar to most of you. He has ADD and his high school academics were a bit of a struggle for him, so we were pleasantly surprised when he was accepted to a University, and one with an excellent student support center that specialized in helping students with learning challenges. Halfway through the semester, he started calling at night in tears, having anxiety attacks and saying he was very depressed. I learned that he had stopped going to his appointments at the student support center and was going to parties and drinking, smoking weed, and doing other drugs instead of studying (of course he had lied and told me he went to the library in the evenings, lol). I think the depression and anxiety were partly triggered by some social anxiety and fear of failure at school, but also by his knowledge that he was choosing very poorly and that his behavior was wrong. Way wrong. He wasn’t even TRYING to be successful at school. That just simply wasn’t his goal for being there. It was mine.

    Anyway, at this point I’m pretty sure that he has borderline personality disorder that comes with the anxiety, depression, and substance abuse (pot, the terrifyingly dangerous synthetic pot they call “spice”, intentional overdose of OTC cough medicine, and some experimenting with LSD that I know of – there’s likely more). He probably has some antisocial personality disorder to go along with all of that, based on a few things he has said and done.

    That brings us to where we are today. difficult child’s latest job was as a pizza delivery person. And now he has “totaled” his car. No collision insurance to replace it. I am very grateful that he was miraculously unharmed in the accident. That is no small thing. There is also, however, the “now what”? The “now what?” is that, due to his reckless driving (he flipped and rolled because he was going at an excessively high rate of speed around a curve), he has no car. No transportation to deliver pizzas or go to any other type of job, no transportation to go his therapy appointments with his counselor or to his doctor appointments to manage his medications (for depression and ADD). I don’t think he lives near a bus route. And the “First National Bank of Mom” is closed. Same for Bank of Dad.

    His dad did ask by text to let him know if he needed any help. The reply: “U said u wanted to help. U can help me look for a car then haha”. Really. Haha. So glad he finds it funny.

    I know that the car inventory is depleted at the banks of Mom and Dad. I know that is the right thing. I also know that you can all feel my pain at knowing that Mr. difficult child’s life just got a WHOLE LOT HARDER and everything in my being wants to at least keep his ship from sinking. He has legal debt, credit card debt, he’s behind on his rent (of course none of that is his fault, as you know), and now this. It just breaks my heart. Sigh.

    So, what’s the answer of what to do? What do you do when the answer is “nothing”? You do…..nothing.

    But you grieve. And you cry. And you keep asking…………why??
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    HI there. I don't know how much I can write. I have to go to work, something most difficult child's find a foreign word:)

    I wouldn't even think about getting him a car. He is intoxicated while he drives. Next time he could be killed or kill someone else. My daughter crashed up three cars and was sued for about $14,000 in one accident. The first car she ruined was ours and we cut off the car. She managed to get to her job at Walmart. God forbid she not work and not have drug money. I give her that much. She always worked as we gave her nothing.

    The second car her brother bought her, although we warned him. *CRACH!* The third car a clueless, druggy friend let her drive and she hurt somebody in that accident.

    When she finally straightened out her life, she moved to another state to live with straight brother who had no problem tossing her to the wolves if she even lit up a cigarette. He forced her to get a job. She did. There was no public transportation in his suburb. She walked to and from, in all kinds of weather. He did not drive her or make it easy on her. She had to clean the house and cook for him and his roommates and she knew he was serious about throwing her out, unlike her softie parents who wavered, so sh e quit...everything, including cigarettes. She was very lonely for a long time, then she met her boyfriend and eleven years later they are still together and living an acceptably good life. I am very pleased. But we did go through hell-o first.

    Our drugged kids find ways to get to parties and to buy drugs. They can find ways to get to work, if they even WANT to work, without owning a car, which, in their lethal hands, is a weapon.

    In our house, my husband and I never even drank, so, yes, we were puzzled when Daughter started doing all sorts of drugs and we didn't even know the extent of how bad it had been until after she quit. She hid it well and did work and manage to go to Beauty School (with A grades) while high as a kite. She says it was cocaine and meth and snorted ADHD drugs, which were crushed in a pillcrusher. Also some over the counter drugs that the kids know how to use to get high. Now there is Spice.There wasn't that at the time...the drug world evolves (sigh).

    Think about putting a kid on possibly meth or coaine or even spice or pot or alcohol behind the wheel of another car. I did.

    If they are motivated enough, they will find a way. If not, we just handed t hem a free car to make it easier for them to get to that next drug party.

    I am sorry you had to join us, but welcome to our nightmare...we do support one another. Most of us are working hard on detachment and being good to ourselves, rather than trying to fix our grown kids. We can only change one person in the wkorld and that is ourselves. Although we can't change our kids, we can certainly change our reactions to their insanity, and thus get peace and move on and have a good life.

    Hugs for your hurting heart. Have to go to work. Try to have a great day, even though your son is again in trouble. Get off the merry-go-round. I like this: "Not my moneky; not my cricus." I probably said it Somebody will correct me.

    Take care. We are all in your corner 100%.
  3. rktman

    rktman New Member

    We too gave our son a former family vehicle (nicer truck with higher miles). Within 18 months, it was in such bad shape that we barely sold it for scrap value.
    He's otherwise "detained" at the moment for stupid actions done with that vehicle.
    Looking back at my situation, it was a mistake to have given him a vehicle without him having to work for it in some way.
    We as parents want to give the best for our kids especially when we cant foresee the living hell these "difficult child"s will put us through (note I hate that term "difficult child", their actions are certainly not a "gift from God", but more of a "curse from hell" most of the times.
    PS, also gave ours a laptop. It was "stolen" within 3 weeks and he dropped out after 4 weeks since he would not attend classes.
  4. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    Thank you MWM for taking the time to reply even as you were dashing off to work. That was a sobering reminder that in those irresponsible hands a car is a lethal weapon. Perhaps it is fortunate that difficult child no longer has that weapon. I now see that as a more positive thing overall.

    I hear you, rktman. Several "stolen" and "lost" things, like an iPod mini, etc., that I'm sure were sold or traded for drugs. When nothing of value was left, I saw a text from a friend advising him to tell his mom that he needed new shoes. Unbelievably deceptive and manipulative they can be.

    Today I got a pedicure, tomorrow I am getting a manicure, and Friday I am having a deep conditioning treatment for my hair. One thing every day to look forward to that takes care of me.
  5. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    It's amazing how fast they can ruin the blessings they have. You are doing the right thing. He needs to figure out how to make this work for himself. He will never appreciate things he doesn't have to earn. difficult child's just don't know how to do that.
  6. hopeandjoy66

    hopeandjoy66 Member

    I am glad your doing something nice for yourself each day. It really does help.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hope, it is so difficult to be on the sidelines while our kids continually blow up their lives. I am so sorry you find yourself there. Yes, most of us have been in your shoes. I'm happy you're getting mani's and pedi's and taking care of you. That is essential I think.

    If you haven't already, you may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. It can be helpful. Also, reading books on codependency like Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie is helpful. Many of us find 12 step groups helpful, or therapy, or a parent group or a course to take at NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I found their parent courses and their support system for us parents very good.

    Whatever you can do to pull yourself away from the constant turmoil that exists for our kids, however you define that for yourself, works. It's hard, no doubt about it, we do suffer in it, but it does get easier as you continue down this path of detachment. You're not alone, you've got a whole tribe of us here..................sending warm hugs and wishes for a day of peace.
  8. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    Thank you all for the encouragement. It really does help. I did read the article on detachment and found it quite eye-opening, thanks. Over the last three years of going through this nightmare (you're right, MWM, that's exactly what it is) I have read Codependent No More, Dr. Cloud's Boundaries, and also, the one that has actually been the most helpful so far for this specific issue, Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke. I would highly recommend that one as well. For a while I also had a phone counselor that I talked to a couple of times a week. I think that saved my life. If any of you are offered that service as a work benefit through EAP (Employee Assistance Plan or Program in the US) you should take advantage of it. Ours offered the typical 6 free in-person counseling sessions per year plus unlimited phone consultations. The phone counselor I had was in a different time zone, so his work hours extended beyond mine. I could talk to him in the evenings after work. He helped me to plan ways to stop enabling, stop trying to control another person, and to take care of myself.

    It's still difficult though, and I guess it just always will be. It's kind of like grieving someone's death, even though they aren't dead. So there's the grief, but no closure. Or maybe it's more like you have a loved one in a coma, and you don't know if they'll ever wake up. You just keep hoping......
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    tThat's so great that you've given yourself all of that support. It does help a lot.

    And, yeah, it is a lot like grieving a death. In fact it is very much like the 5 stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

    When I began this journey my goal was to find peace of mind in the midst of it. I had an inkling, even then, that I wasn't capable of fixing it, or making it any different, so it made sense to attempt to find peace of mind even when life is filled with chaos. It was my intention. I think the ultimate goal is acceptance, when we can land there, peace arrives and it all smoothes out.

    I don't know if you are a fan of Eckhart Tolle, (he wrote The Power of Now) but I have found many of his videos on Youtube and I've been watching them daily for awhile now. His approach and his techniques have worked for me. If you are so inclined, give them a try. It's really helped me to stop the constant mind chatter which in and of itself has an enormous ability to create calm and peacefulness.
  10. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    So it's Halloween, one of the busiest pizza delivery nights of the year, and difficult child is being all pouty and complaining that he can't find anyone to let him borrow their car after he crashed his (you think?) and that nobody is willing to help him (yes, that was aimed at me).

    I am so proud of myself! I told him that just because I wasn't running to rescue or to "fix" things that I knew he was perfectly capable of solving himself, didn't mean I wasn't rooting for him and willing to provide any guidance he wanted, suggest resources, and help him brainstorm if he wanted.

    I didn't fall for the guilt trip. Yay!

    But it still sucks.
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  11. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    Oh and he also said the he felt like he was bothering us, so he would just stay out of everyone's life until he had something good to say.

    That's a good thing, I suppose, and should have made me happy.

    But, as he probably intended, it made me sad.
  12. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    They're world champions at manipulation HF.
    Yes, no doubt sadness was what he intended.
    But a break from his self-pity and 'not my fault' attitude will be good for you. The sadness retreats with a bit of distance and a chance to see things from a clearer perspective away from the manipulation.
    The "now what" is his problem, not yours.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Don't be too sad. Think about it. Does he ever have anything good to say or does he just call you to try to get something from you and to tell you either the truth or lies about his horrible life...and how he "can't" make it better?

    Sometimes a break lets you see things clearly.
  14. rktman

    rktman New Member

    LucyJ hit the nail on the head, be prepared for more manipulation when you stop bailing them out. It could get as bad as threats to harm themselves, etc.
    I don't have a good answer but it is a problem they have created, not you. Unfortunately, too many burned bridges make an island.
  15. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    Now that the holidays are upon us, life tends to get a little more interesting, doesn't it? difficult child has made good so far on his statement that he would "stay out of everyone's lives until he has something good to say" that he made on Halloween when he was having trouble getting someone to loan him a car to deliver pizzas that night after he had totaled the car that I had given him. His boss told him a couple of days later that if didn't have a car by the next day, don't bother coming in. Of course that meant that he no longer had a job, because he has no money, horrible credit (that's what happens when you don't pay your bills), and neither parent is willing to co-sign for a car. So any job he gets now has to be within walking distance (he doesn't currently live on a bus route) or have a schedule that is opposite his girlfriend, so maybe he can borrow HER car (she couldn't loan hers on Halloween because she delivers pizza too). We left him angry that "no-one wants to help me", and with encouragement that he could figure this out.

    Only trouble is, next week I will be visiting the area in which he finds himself, currently in North Carolina, and then will be travelling to Tennessee for our annual family Thanksgiving dinner. The family has been asking if he and his brother (former difficult child now easy child, living in Alabama) are coming. easy child is coming. Don't know about difficult child. Haven't hear from him, of course.

    I would like to see him. I would like to offer means by which he can come for Thanksgiving and spend time with his cousins and grandmother, etc. But I mostly would like to spend some time with him. I haven't seen him since July, when I paid his gas money to come to Tennessee to visit with me and his grandmother while I was there.

    At 22, he is legally a man, but inside he is still half-boy, half-man, and struggling terribly with Borderline Personality Disorder, which I now understand is a living hell. I'm in the middle of reading Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Keep Out-of-Control Emotions from Destroying Your Relationship by Shari Manning, PhD., which has been very enlightening and facilitated a more compassionate outlook from me and has introduced me to some new tools for interacting with him. I see now that so many of the things I have done and said to try to help, which would be appropriate for someone who process things normally, are just the opposite of what he needs to hear to keep his emotions from becoming "dysregulated".

    So....bottom line.....yes, I am getting to my point...... I need to reach out to him in the next day or so to see if he is interested in 1) Seeing me at all next week (I could come to his apartment to pick him up), and/or 2) coming to Thanksgiving dinner (I am willing to pay the girlfriend gas money to drive him and she's welcome to come as well - or I can transport him myself - or I can get a bus ticket from NC to TN if someone can get him to a bus station).

    Just hoping that, as I keep the firm boundary of not rescuing in place (he's having a hard time adjusting to that), I am able to have an interaction with him that doesn't make things worse (he says all I do is yell at him - and lately, I think he's right, because I have gotten so frustrated with his choices). I MUST stay calm. Zen calm. Wish me luck!
  16. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    If it was me...and I realize my situation is different...I would probably call him/text him and ask if he wants to go to grandma's. I would make it clear that IF he wants you to pick him up, it would be a pleasant visit and not change a thing. Someone (Cedar?) suggested the holiday be like the Christmas truce during WWII, where for one night the British and Germans set aside their differences, but everything went back to normal the next day. When making holiday plans with my son, I asked if he knew the story, and when he did I explained that would be our holiday. No rehashing old problems. If he's willing, I see no reason to not take him if he wants to go and the family wants to see him.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he has borderline and is not seeking the right kind of therapy, such as dialectal behavioral therapy which is awesome for borderlines, then you can not guarantee he is going to be able to control his behavior on the holidays, even if he agrees to it.Borderlines literally change emotions minute to minute. This is a treatable disorder. I have traits and have worked very hard on them and have good relationships with my hubby and kids and don't go borderline on them. But if you ask your son, and if that's what you want to do you should do it, do not expect him to necessarily be able to act the way you want him to.

    I'd let him know about dialectal behavioral therapy too. I'll send you a link about it. Thanks to DBT, borderline is no longer forever or something you can't change. But it does take hard work. This is an article about it from The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, which advocates for patients and their caregivers. I am also going to send you the link to a book about a young woman who had borderline and was cured. She did not use DBT therapy, but her therapy was very intensive yet very successful. I read her book a few times. Back to DBT, it is used for lots of disorders now and focuses on mindfulness, distress tolerance, and coping skills. I think it's the best therapy evah!!!!! Here ya go:
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    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  18. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    Thank you, Lil and MWM, for your kind and thoughtful replies.

    I did text him to see if 1) he wanted to go to grandma's house for the family Thanksgiving dinner and 2) I could visit with him when we are in NC. I told him I could pick him up and we could go somewhere if he'd like (I offered that because to my knowledge, he still doesn't have a car) and I told him that I miss him.

    He texted back that he was going to another state to see his girlfriend's grandmother. He thereby answered question number 1 and ignored question number 2. I just responded with an "OK".

    I'm relieved, actually that 1) he responded, 2) he responded civilly, 3) that he isn't coming to Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family because now I don't have to worry about everyone walking on eggshells not to set off a major depressive episode that ends with his feeling suicidal because of some perceived rejection/judgement/comparison to someone or everyone else in the family's lives not being a train wreck like his is at the moment, and 4) that he has somewhere else to go that apparently feels safe for him, emotionally.

    I'm disappointed, though, that he ignored question number 2. I guess he's still hurt and angry that I didn't come to the rescue this time. Hopefully time will heal that. In the meantime, I'm reading voraciously to try to understand better how he processes things differently than the rest of us and how to, when he's ready to talk to me again, communicate in a way that helps him to better regulate his emotions (as well as how to better regulate my own).

    Thank you MWM for the links. Much appreciated. I actually don't know if he has been officially diagnosed with Borderline (BPD), because he has been being treated both medically and with counseling for depression and anxiety but I kept running into the Borderline (BPD) diagnosis here, and, noticing that my son seemed to have a lot in common with those folks, I got curious and did some research. I found that in the 9 areas, 5 of which someone needs to show challenges with in order carry that diagnosis, I could think of specific things that he has said and/or done that illustrate challenges in ALL NINE of them. Then when I read my first book which described the different challenges and behaviors that people may display who struggle with that particular mood disorder, I thought that the authors must know my son. They must have been following him around! It was eery. But it was also such a relief, because I KNEW that there were so many things that he does, says, and feels, that don't make sense to me and don't seem to fit the classic depressive or simply anxious states. And that worried me. I couldn't figure out what was going on, but hoped his therapist could. Now I think that everything fits in that pattern and that I have a new perspective and understanding of where those over-analyzing and over-reactive, emotionally volatile, destructive and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors come from. So....I'm still reading everything I can get my hands on, and will definitely be getting the book that you recommended.

    I don't know if he's doing DBT, but from what few things I've gleaned from him about what in his therapy is helping (Goal-setting and some relaxation exercise that the therapist recorded for him because it was really helping him to calm himself down), they sound like the mindfulness and distress tolerance as well as the self-validation pieces of DBT, so I'm hopeful. I don't know who his therapist is, or even where he's getting it, since I don't live near him right now, and it's going through his step-mother's insurance. I was planning to talk to him about it when I saw him, but since he's not really talking to me right now, that will have to come a little later, I guess. In the meantime, I'll just keep learning as much about it as I can myself.

    On a positive note, he texted me on his own, the very next day, to let me know that he is going to apply to school soon. I told him that I was glad to hear that, and that I would love to hear more about it. He said he would update me. I felt very encouraged about that - both the goal and the communication of it.

    There is hope. :)