Coping with grief after kicking difficult child out

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by sadandlost, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. sadandlost

    sadandlost New Member

    Greetings fellow parents ("parent-leagues"??). I am new here, having stumbled into this community yesterday out of desperation after years of parenting a difficult child. I posted my first thread (see it here)with the overall story over in General Parenting, but am finding the best fit is here in emeritus.

    6 weeks ago husband and I kicked out difficult child after reaching the end of our collective rope with him. Compared to many of the stories I'm reading here he is not so extreme, but my meddling family has made it much more difficult. I have had to not only kick out difficult child but I've also had to detach (again, but more permanently) from a sister and a stepmother. A person difficult child has thought of as a stepdad (ex boyfriend) since he was little has turned out to be Darth Vader. Lots of betrayal, in addition to difficult child problems.

    Since kicking difficult child out I am struggling with grief and the dreaded unknown of the future. difficult child refuses to talk to me and won't even return texts anymore. I know he is angry, but he as been angry for years. It is years of bad choices that got him into this position, and that is of course what I'm trying to teach him by refusing to tolerate his perpetual defiance and disrespect. I know that at 18 his frontal lobe isn't fully developed yet and is partially why he has turned out this way, in addition to the issues he has from losing his dad at 9 years old. But how can we continue to enable his behavior if he is not willing to own his own stuff and make better choices?

    I guess I'm just wondering about parents who have also had to kick out their adult children, who then cut off communication. How long was it until they recontacted you? What happened that instigated the contact? What kind of trouble did they get into, and how bad was it? Any stories you can share will be so appreciated. I know there is a lot of wisdom here.
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    there is no way for us to predict any one adult child, however I can tell you now, he will get into trouble IN your house as well as OUT of it, and if he's in your house YOU may be part of the trouble, such as stealing or having illegal drugs stashed in your house or his "friends" coming in while you aren't home to help themselves to your belongings.

    What kind of conversations have you been having with your son lately? Has it been about what his plans are, how YOU are doing, normal stuff? Or has it been about how much money you can give him, how he is going to live his life outside the societal norms and how he will not listen to you because it's your fault for (fillin the blanks). If the latter is true, you don't have a relationship anyway. He is verbally abusing you and only talking to you nicely when he wants something. This is common.Often the only time we hear from them is to whine or to ask for money, which they usually use for drugs and not for what they say it is for. It is not the act of making him leave that will anger him in the long run. It is his drug use. If he is moved to quit, I am guessing that is when your relationship will improve.

    Although your frontal lobe may not mature until you are twenty-five, many great young people of eighteen go to college, make good decisions, serve our country, etc. And some difficult children, like mine, are immature way beyond age 25. It is my son's nature to not want to grow up. Heck, I have an eighteen year old that just graduated last Sunday and turned eighteen yesterday and she never breaks the law or parties and is very focused on her future. And I have a twenty-one autistic son who is ready to move out on his own, is doing great, never breaks the law or uses his disability to whine, and both are way, way more mature than my 36 year old child whose limbic brain area has been fully functional for years.

    I am sooooooooooo sorry for your hurting mommy heart. The grieving we feel is like a death, in my opinion. I read grieving books to help me. I also went to twelve step meetings so I could discuss my terrible feelings and my guilt and I had a therapist as well. Use as many resources to take care of yourself as you can and stay away from the toxic people in your life. I am concerned that your ex boyfriend psycho will hurt you. Maybe you should take precautions such as changing locks, getting an alarm system and locking up your money and cards info in a fire box. I don't trust his motives
  3. sadandlost

    sadandlost New Member

    difficult child doesn't engage with me at all. Not even to spew anger at me for kicking him out. I have seen him once in the past 6 weeks, for 5 minutes when I gave him a couple of journals that I had been keeping for him that have a lot of stuff about and by his dad in them. My therapist has advised me to really start talking about his dad to him. But he doesn't seem to want anything relating to truth about his life or any kind of truth. He won't even return texts anymore so I have decided not to try contacting him anymore, until he shows signs of wanting to engage. I don't know where he's staying, whether or not he will actually graduate this month. I know nothing about his life right now.....hence my grief. In some ways it's a relief that he's not here anymore, but the grief overwhelms the relief more often than not.

    difficult child cannot get into our house. We made sure of that right away. I had concerns about ex boyfriend and still do......he is a private investigator for a living and I don't put anything past him, including hiring hackers to try to get information. He actually contacted my husband's ex wife to try to dig up dirt on him to make him out to be an abusive parent, but even she wouldn't engage with ex boyfriend, who she finds creepy. I have done everything I can to ostracize him from my family. Some of them get it, and some of them don't. The ones who don't, I don't communicate with. This thing has polarized my entire, already screwed up family.
  4. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Hi Sad and Lost - I found this board much like you did. As way of background - technically, we did not kick our difficult child out. He had a surprisingly mediocre first year away at college. We had a tumultuous summer when he came home but assumed it wasn't unusual. The day before he was meant to leave for his 2nd year, we found out he was using copious amounts & perhaps dealing pot away at school and it was too big to ignore. We told him we could not send him back to school knowing that he was abusing drugs and that we decided he should stay home, get help and go to school locally. We totally did not expect that he would storm out, move out & go back to school anyway. I was heartbroken. It was unfathomable to me that we would ever be estranged from our beloved boy.

    Like your son, my difficult child cut off all communication with us. There were times when I chased him - I was acting like a 13 year old girl with a crush. I stalked his cell phone records and the facebook pages of people he knew. I sent more than one desperate "I love you" text in the middle of the night - often adding "are you OK?" or a plea for him to call or text back. I literally groveled. I posted on this very board begging for a formula to get him back or a way to fix it or someone's insight into what my difficult child would do next. A few posters had difficult child's who wouldn't leave them alone- who wanted to come back home or were calling constantly and otherwise creating havoc - and I was actually JEALOUS of them. It was like my difficult child stopped loving us and I wondered if he ever really had. And losing that love & that bond made me question EVERYTHING in my life.

    I knew I needed to detach and I was told gently and not so gently by my fellow board posters to learn how to do so. Over and over again. My head agreed but yet my heart would find me desperately trying to instigate contact if I hadn't heard from him in a few weeks. My sweet 14 year old son actually texted difficult child of his own accord and said "dude, call mom, she can't stop crying." (And sweet ds still denies instigating that call to this day.)

    I expected things with difficult child to come to a major head - I was literally tensed for that grand moment when there would be some sort of climax and it would turn definitively in one way or the other. I was sure he would come running back to us or descend into drug addiction or get in bad trouble or become desperate or just forget we even existed. It's been nearly 4 years and we haven't had that moment. Now, I know that we never will. He is back in our lives, most often on the fringes and at 22 that's not unusual, so the hurt isn't so acute anymore. We tried to remain neutral, tried to support his positive decisions and ignore the ones we didn't like. It has been a lot of little moments and our relationship is still a work in progress.

    The therapist I saw when I was trying to come to grips with it all gave me the first best piece of advice: "You need to give him the space to miss you." When I was instigating contact, when others in the family were trying to intervene, it actually empowered difficult child's standpoint and gave him the control in our relationship.

    The 2nd best piece of advice was "Do Not Dial Pain" which was a phrase coined by a fellow CD member. In those times of desperation when I reached out to difficult child via phone or text, his response or lack thereof actually made me feel worse instead of better. So I did my best to stop dialing pain and tbh I didn't always succeed.

    I also read Norma Bourland's essay: "Kid’s Bad Decisions Do Not Mean We Are Bad Parents" and it really spoke to me even though my difficult child has never been in the throws of addiction as her son was. She wrote in her journal “Each day I wake feeling an urgent need to do something, and then I realize there’s nothing I can do. The emptiness just has to be” and it resonated with me. I needed to let go of the notion that this was mine to fix.

    Instead, I tried to concentrate on not escalating it. To be honest, the hurt and the pain and grief never went away, but somehow it became less sharp and became a part of me that I got used to.

    I wish I could give you a road map of what's next. Hang in there, Take care of you and of your other relationships. Stay busy and do something you love as often as possible. I wish you peace in the days ahead.
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    Lasted edited by : Jun 9, 2014
  5. sadandlost

    sadandlost New Member

    Thank you Sig. Yes, I find myself waiting for that "grand moment." I hadn't considered that, like for you, it might not happen that that is a revelation. But I suppose there is as much good news in that as there is bad news?

    At what point did your son finally reach out and begin contact with you again? Was there a particular reason?
  6. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Well, it was a series of fits and starts and it was us who reached out to him and who continue to do so for the most part.In one of those phonecalls I described above, I asked him about his plans for Thanksgiving. He replied he was coming home. (at this point he was still attending school) here is a link to my actual post about seeing him for the first time since he had stormed out - about 2-1/2 months later:
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    sadandlost, please don't listen to your therapist. Sometimes therapists are more idealistic than realistic. When he wants to talk about his father, and I think the day will come when that happens, he will come to you and ask about him. Trust me, you will hear from him again. He may be ashamed of what he is involved with now so he doesn't want to be reminded that he was raised with your good values and is violating them. Many of our difficult children go on silent sprees and when they come back, sometimes, because of what they want from us, we wish they'd stayed OH, I k now it's not funny, but if you don't laugh you weep and never stop.

    sad, it does not matter if your ex-boyfriend whom I will now refer to as psychiatric, if you don't mind, is ostracized from your family of origin. This is not about them. It's about you, YOUR journey, and all you need is for YOURSELF to cut him out of your life like a bad cancer. If others want to engage him or can't see what he is like, that will be their sorrow in the future as psychopaths WANT something from anyone they are involved in.

    It is kind of scary he is a PI and can actually mess with people's private lives, but, as you found out, not everyone will cooperate with him. I give big kudos to your hubby's ex for refusing to bash him to Psycho.

    Your son is on the very young side of difficult child land and I totally believe that the younger you deal with your difficult children and get tough with them, the more of a chance there is that they will think hard and turn it around. I am everlastingly grateful that I dealt with a daughter who took serious drugs at age eighteen and made her leave. I cried for three straight weeks. I was nonfunctional. Her last words to me were "I WILL HATE YOU FOREVER." But once she talked her a**** brother into taking her into his basement, and trust me he is harsher than us and a very cold person, she moved out of state, spent a lot of time alone, met her boyfriend of now elevin years and gave up the drugs and we are very close. My own opinion, which is probably not shared by everyone, is the younger you show them that they can't count on you to enable illegal or disrespectful or verbally/physically aggressive behavior, the longer they have to think about it before they turn thirty years old and then it is a way of life. I did not deal with my 36 year old early enough and he is still a child in a man's body, not able to make a single decision on his own without Mommy, often abusing Mommy if he doesn't like what I say so we have long periods of silence, which are perpetrated by ME. It alarms me that a 36 year old can need his mother so much. But he isn't nice about needing me. He is often very cruel and, when younger, could get very aggressive. Although we did make him leave, he lived in hotels, paid for by his father, so he never suffered homelessness per se and his dad, my ex, bought a two bedroom condo just so that 36 had a place to stay. It didn't work out well at all for 36. Or for ex as difficult child shoved him around when angry and ex has always had a disease and is frail and NOBODY should push him around let alone a son of his who had a home due to his father's kindness, but such is the mindset of many of our difficult children. They don't see wrong as wrong.

    You need to, in my opinion, respectfully disengage from your family, their opinions, who they like, who they don't like and what they think of you. This is hard to do alone which is why I suggested help.

    My own layperson, non therapist opinion is to not try to talk to your son about anything right now. He is probably in anger mode and will lash out at you and blame you about the irrational. He is not the only child who tragically lost a parent to death and not all of them act out like he is. Your son is unique and his choices, like all our difficult children choices, are his own.

    Hugs and love for that hurting mommy heart that still beats...but with so much pain.
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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014
  8. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    sadandlost glad you found us but sorry you needed to. my only advise is like on an airplane when the oxygen masks drop you have to put your own on first so you can assist others.

    this means you need to take care of yourself right now drink water, eat proper, exercise and if available to you recommend grief counseling for yourself. allow yourself to process the loss of the relationship with your son.

    i don't know how long before your son decides to make contact just know the odds are in your favor, most of the time they do make contact eventually. unfortunately it's usually for bail, hunger sometimes gets them in also... depends on in your area soup kitchen available or not. eventually they usually make contact.

    i'm speaking as a 50yo former difficult child who got kicked out at 17yo, though sometimes just think of myself as a difficult child with seniority. all 3 of my kids are still living with me, but in my son's case it's a question of who's watching who? guess we all have our jobs here.

    sending you hugs and peaceful thoughts

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  9. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    HI Sad,

    I know all too well the cycles of grief, fear, guilt, second-guessing and resolve that go along with detaching from a difficult child, especially when getting him out of the home. My difficult child is 20, and has been living either on the street or couch surfing for the most part since he was 17. He has occasionally come home briefly, with the hope that a stable environment will help him work things out...but it never works. Grief, guilt, second-guessing, fear.

    In there sometimes, though, is a little glimmer of freedom, and hope. For yourself. I hope you can see that little glimmer. If you do...blow on it a bit, like an ember. It will get stronger, and as it (and you) get stronger, those other feelings diminish.

    Your difficult child is off now on a big adventure of independence, rage, and "angry young man" ness. Several of us have had our difficult children tell us that they see their lives out of the home that way...a big adventure, sticking it to the man, living off their own resilience, making their own way without compromise, etc etc. They think they are cool rebels.

    He is probably in the middle of that now, feeling victorious (and angry) with each new day as he finds ways to live out from under your expectations.

    I'd be surprised if you don't hear from him, but of course can't guarantee that, and can't know when. My difficult child always pops up again eventually. Unlike some, he is actually pretty sweet and clueless, and although yes he shows up when he needs something, he also shows up because he loves me and misses me.

    Its been a long road.

    Your life, your happiness, you wholeness can't hinge on whether and when he contacts you again.

    You will need to build your resilience. Some of us do that with 12 step programs, NAMI or nar anon or families anon. Some with our own therapists. Some with meditation, embracing religion or philosophy, and a lot of us do a LOT of reading. We can make some recommendations if you'd like...books about difficult children, books about our own role as enablers or co-dependents, books about living through awful things...they all help. And so does posting. And crying sometimes. And exercise and sleep and spending time with people who love you while NOT talking about difficult child...little steps. You will get through this.

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  10. sadandlost

    sadandlost New Member

    Thank you to everyone who contributed their thoughts. I think the hardest thing is not to equate my son's bad decisions with my ability as a mom.

    I was dealt a very tough hand. I played it the best I could. I don't know what I could've done differently. Parenthood seems to be a a series of decisions where you have to balance your needs against the needs of your child, and the two may be diametrically opposed. Sometimes I put my well being above my son's so that I could survive, under very difficult circumstances. My survival and thriving would mean my son would have a better chance at thriving, or so I thought. Was I a terrible mother for that?

    Is what we do as parents ever good enough for our kids?

    And what role does validating a kid's pain play? At what point do we expect a kid to take responsibility for the way their life is turning out, versus validating their "reality", even if based on memories or perceptions that aren't true, or weren't reality?
  11. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    This is not about your parenting. Many of us have more than one kid; one is fine and one is a mess. We raised them the same. It is more, I believe, about their inherent temperament. I would not waste time figuring out "why." At his age, "why" is because he wants to do it. If he wants to explore this is more detail and get his life together, there is county based therapy which is very cheap or free and usually they take Medicaid. At his age, it is on him.

    There are some horrible parents out there who raise some pretty good kids. Did you ever read "A Child Called It?" The kid was severely abused, almost killed by his mother and clueless father, and starved. He joined the military and now goes around helping other abused children.

    It is a choice our adult children make and a lot of their choice has to do with attitude and their personality. difficult children tend to like being rebels and not fit into societal norms. If they choose that route, they are going to have problems, but not because WE did anything to make them choose to do what they do.
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  12. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    It is likely he will contact you again in some point, but it is impossible to know, when that point will be and what are his goals for that contact. So better to be prepared to many different possibilities.

    I'm sure this is very hard time also for him and he has lot of figuring out to do. If I understood correctly, this ex-boyfriend has been part of his life his whole life as he remembers it. And has been his constant father figure during those years. It took you, with much more experience and life wisdom, this long to come to conclusion that something is wonky in this guy and he may be psychopath. Figuring that out will be very hard for your son too. Of course if he truly is a psychopath, he will sooner or later screw also your son over and then he will know. But unfortunately there is about nothing you can do to make him believe it before that even if he does contact you again. From his point of view ex-boyfriend is dear and important person who has been there for him.

    And while your husband is amazing step-dad and you have known him a long time, for your son he is a stranger who came to his life during his teen years and changed everything. Teens most often don't take a new step parent well. It doesn't help how great they are, teens just don't want a new parent into their lives at that point. Often that too gets better when they grow up.

    Your son has lots of maturing and figuring out to do and best thing you can do in the meanwhile is take a good care of yourself. And when he does contact again, don't try to push your truth to him. His memories and understanding of them is likely to be different and that will not change just because you say so. No more than your understanding and memories wouldn't change, if he for example would call you and tell how great guy your ex-boyfriend is. But yes, it is likely that at some point he wants to speak more about his dad with you and that is a good thing. He will never have a chance to know his dad from adult perspective, only thing he can do is listen you and others who knew him.

    But things like this take time. Sometimes lots of time. In the meanwhile, try to be nice to yourself and enjoy your life.
  13. sadandlost

    sadandlost New Member

    This makes so much sense to me. And in a way that is not a bad thing, that he is trying to strike out on his own. Maybe the anger is just the motivation he needs to make it happen. I don't know. This is a kid who has always been pretty independent. He always loved spending the night at friends houses, even at 3. He's kind of a social butterfly. He's disrespectful, deeply self-centered, incredibly argumentative, ungrateful and lazy but deep down, he is a sweet and very smart kid.

    Sooner or later he is gonna have to learn that what he gets out of life is roughly equal to what he puts into it. That the world doesn't owe him anything. Resilience is a good thing and he will have to learn to be resourceful, and hopefully it won't involve doing illegal or immoral things. I suppose this is what worries me the most, besides getting lost in addiction, which I believe he is very suseptible to.

    I just now got a phone call that a friend of mine's daughter died last night from a blood infection. 19 or 20 years old, she was a drug addict that my friend kicked out of the home before she was 18. In and out of rehab, never really pulled it together. The illness she that killed her was a result of her drug use. This is so close to home for me, it scary.

    We live in a very upscale, high socioeconomic community but our kids are dying at alarming rates because of drugs. It's truly the scourge of our generations.
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  14. jean777

    jean777 New Member

    can someone please tell me what forms I need to fill out to remove my adult daughter from my home. (eviction process). My story is so similar to the ones posted, it breaks my heart to be in the same position. Having to kick someone out I've raised and loved.
  15. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Jean, I'm sorry you had to find this site but glad you did. You will find great advice and support on this site.

    I am not sure of what the process is to evict an adult child and it may vary from state to state. I do know there are others here that can advise you.

    I suggest you start a new thread, you will get more responses.

    You are not alone.
  16. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I just want to add my experience with kicking out my son. There wasn't a form I had to fill out, I went to the police and filed a restraining order. They granted it right away while I was there. He was 18, he didn't want to do anything resembling work and he stole from us...anything he could, he didn't even deny it when confronted, it was funny to him. It was our fault for leaving things all the things in the house!

    Without writing a whole book here, we didn't talk to him, he tried.... because he thought it was just a little "time out" and he could go back to being his same old difficult child self. Once he realized he was totally on his own he stepped it up, got a job and lived in a bed-bug infested rooming house near the job. He saved him money and got a car, and an apartment and he slowly kept bettering himself. This couldn't have happened when he was in our house, we were more than enabling him, we were DISABLING him.

    He is very different than my other children, who appreciate all we do and always try to better themselves anyway. Slowly as he improved his life, he came back into the fold of the family. This only took about 2 years. My husband got him a position in his union after seeing difficult child become responsible. husband couldn't do that for him until difficult child actually was responsible. He's now 27, married to a wonderful woman, has 2 kids and thanks me for the tough love wake-up call. difficult child and husband are working together right this moment.

    Most relatives thought, and still think, we were the most awful, horrible parents on earth! (My sister in law's brother is 50 and still lives at home with his mommy by the way) They just didn't know the horror that had become so normal. There would be no end to it. I stand by doing that, it's a foul situation all the way around, it's not easy. You have to do what you can live with.
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  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jean777, the eviction process varies in each state. I am in California and it is a 30 day process. You can do a Google search on how to evict an adult child from your home in your state and that should give you the appropriate information.

    You've responded to an old thread. You may want to post your own thread, you will receive more support that way.

    Evicting your own child is difficult. But sometimes absolutely necessary and the only choice left to you. I hope you are receiving support for your decision. Hang in there. You're not alone.
  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I love this.

    I am detaching from my cast-of-Star-Wars-villains family of origin, too.

    There is something hilarious about picturing my family in that bar scene from the first movie.



    We must have the same son.

    Another mom told me once that a counselor told her that the difficult child only stops being angry when he or she has stopped using and can see clearly again.

    That is one way counselors know whether a client is using or not. Those still using blame their parents.

    We would never know, with difficult child son. He would just pop in. One time, he popped in for two weeks...with two children, a significant other, and a dog.
    We just looked up one day and there they all were.


    This was true for us, too.


    So hurtfully true.

    Me, too. I don't have research to back this up, but I believe certain drugs affect the victim's ability to feel empathy.

    That must be a very lonely, frightening way to feel.

    It is.

    I have found that any vulnerability on my part encourages toxic people to take advantage in ways impossible for them when I was healthy and centered and strong.

    And they do it, too.




    Losing a child (as, in one way or another, we all have here) does change everything we thought we knew, does change who we believed we were.

    I love this.

    I will read this today.

    Thank you for posting.

    Great point. Something for all of us to remember.

    I agree.



    You were a good mom for that. It is impossible to see where our difficult child child is in his life and feel we parented well. Just as it is impossible to see a successful child and feel we parented badly, even if we did.

    It is a hard thing, to find our centers, to come to believe in ourselves again.

    But we do.

  19. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I kicked my son out more than three years ago and he has not been back here to live. He is now 25.

    Grief is a natural part of this whole thing and my best Advice is to understand that, own it, feel it, walk through it, get help for it and you will come out on the other side of it one day.

    At times it hurt so much I thought I would die. I so wanted to say never mind, just come back and slowly I realized it was my own pain, fear and guilt I could not handle.

    I began using lots of tools to help myself cope and I slowly got better.

    It was hard to reconcile my deep pain with the reality of his behavior and understand that even if I caved yet again and he came back home, things would be the same---awful---and even worse---coming home would hurt him and his chance to change even more. Finally understanding that I am worth and entitled to peace, joy and serenity in my own life plus that my son is responsible for his own choices decisions and actions and his own life---and what that really means---gave me more strength of purpose to stay the course. But it was still really hard. Really hard.

    We have been conditioned not to want to feel any pain or discomfort and to somehow stop it immediately. That doesn't work on this journey.

    In fact one of the key new lessons we have to learn here is to allow pain that may not diminish for weeks months even years and how to learn to live with uncertainty. Most people in this world do not ever have to learn this and that is where the real joy can come for us---in learning this incredibly valuable new way of living.

    We have to keep on walking through the pain to get to the other side---where there is peace, serenity and joy, regardless of what our difficult children do or do not do.

    It seems impossible but it is not. It takes hard work, time and faith in something greater than ourselves.
  20. jean777

    jean777 New Member

    Your responses and story are make me feel a little less alone and therefore stronger in my resolve.