Dazed & Confused

I need help with several things concerning my son:

1. Figuring out what is wrong with him.
2. Having the right words to use when we talk.
3. Getting him to go to a counselor.

The first step, though, is figuring out what to do next with him, since he has once again shut me out with rude language. "Do not reach out to me, even on social media. I hate you, you f#%!ing witch!" So, my dilemma is to honor that until he comes around (IF he comes around) or reaching out like normal, apologizing, and starting the cycle again....

He alternates between calling me multiple times a day (6-12 or more) venting and complaining, because the smallest things send him into a tailspin and shutting me out completely. I am his cheerleader. He often says things like "I wish I had never been born", "I feel empty"....This is why I always make myself available to talk. I always mention that he could benefit from a counselor, and he always says, "I will NEVER get help!" I tell him that he is being unfair to me, because he is using me as his counselor and then getting angry when I say the wrong thing, because I talk as his Mom and not a counselor. Anyway, every conversation I have to walk on eggshells, because he sets off easily. When that happens (about every couple of months), he says things like "It's on now" and "I will never forget this." Then he ends up cursing and telling me he never wants to speak to me again! (Usually with lots of f*#! Yous and calling me the worst mother, etc. )

In the past, I have always waited a week or two to let him cool down, and then I reach out. I have to do lots of talking and saying I am sorry for hurting his feelings for it to get back on track. (Even though what I did wrong in his MIND was something like: Tell him I have to hang up now because I am meeting a friend for dinner or when asked how to handle a situation not answer with what HE wants to hear). I feel like POSSIBLY if I follow through and honor his wish to not communicate with him any longer, in the absence of his only support system, he will get some professional help. I worry, of course, that he won't do that, and he will get worse and worse.

What should I do? He is a 29 year old college graduate with a full time job supporting himself, but privately he is so sad and miserable with really no friends. He is competitive with everyone and he feels like everyone "disrespects" him, so this makes it hard to keep friends. He spends every minute after work running, working out, and playing his guitar, which sound like great hobbies, but they are not hobbies but more sources of stress. If he can't run the 20 miles he planned to do, he beats himself up. He will do 400 pull-ups until his hands are bleeding. If he posts a music video and not enough people "like" it, he feels like a failure. Everything he does is to "prove" himself.

He feels it began in high school when he was bullied by his lifelong friends. Then he went to college with big plans to study medicine. When he couldn't make the 4.0 necessary for this, he shifted gears and cannot come to terms with this. He constantly says he wants to "make us proud", and his Dad and I tell him we ARE proud! We just can't wait for the day He feels proud!

Every family gathering is tense with him because he gets his feelings hurt so easily. If he calls and I am with my grandkids (age 4 and 1), he gets jealous. It is all about him all the time! I guess if I knew what we were dealing with, I would know how to handle it better. I have been treating it like depression, but sometimes I am not sure.

He is super handsome, physically fit, athletic, wonderful at his job, and hilariously funny (used to be; rarely now—these days intense is a better descriptor), but he feels worthless all the time.

This was long winded. Sorry! Any advice would be great! Thanks in advance!


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What a thorough post! I will get back to you tomorrow but I want to say one thing now. There is an old movie, "The Graduate" that came out in maybe 1967 that has a famous phrase: "plastics." It comes from a conversation in the movie where the man said to Dustin Hoffman "plastics" as the answer to life.

With your son I would say this word as the answer to everything: boundaries. Your son is abusing you because you allow it. There is an article on the P.E forum on detachment. That will help you understand what I mean.

First your son is almost middle age. He is the only one who can solve his problems and he is the one responsible to do so. He and only he can define what are his problems. There is very little we as mothers can do to incentivize or motivate our adult sons to change if they do not take responsibility to do so. I know, I have tried over and over again. It does not work.

Welcome. I am glad you are here. Others will come along soon. I think they will tell you to focus on yourself, your well-being, and doing what allows you to focus on your own needs and interests. Take care.
Thank you for your reply! I read the article on detachment, and it really struck a chord! I know I need to do this. I have a question, though. Does this mean full break of contact?


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Does this mean full break of contact?
Not at all. It is different for each of us. To me it means living from respect for ourselves and our adult children, the bottom line that in our presence they respect themselves and us by their actions and words(because we will not tolerate otherwise. (If they choose to not do this, they need to leave.) I am a work in progress. And so is my son. But I am learning to accept that his life is his own business, not mine.

Right now my 28 year old son is asleep in the other side of the house. I feel content he is near me and that I know he is safe and happy for right now. I am learning to live with honoring that he knows the best for himself, and I can and must trust him to do it. By doing this, I trust myself. That does not mean that I can impose my sense of what is best and what he needs, which I do all the time. But I am wrong when I do this. And he is telling me so. Good for him.
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Welcome BrokenheartedMum,

You have found a safe place to start on a new journey to your own peace in your situation.

When I finally reached the point where I recognized the need for detachment, and made a decision to act to stop enabling, I felt peace in little by little increments, over the last almost 2 years since I found this forum. I knew detachment and stopping the enabling was the only way, as you have stated you realize after reading and processing the detachment article. Article on Detachment
I didn’t know what would happen to my son, and I had a lot of FOG (fear, obligation, guilt), but I knew the situation could not stay the way it was. Our family's situation with my difficult child son (mid 30s) was intolerable and it was bad for my health and attitude. It was feeling so resentful and almost hateful. This kind of situation was not good for either me and husband nor for our son.

It sounds like you have come a long way in now recognizing the need for detachment and it sounds like you want to take action towards detachment. At this site, you know you are not alone in this process.
I read the article on detachment, and it really struck a chord! I know I need to do this. I have a question, though. Does this mean full break of contact?
Detachment does not mean breaking off all contact. We still love our children. Detachment with love doesn't mean anything "mean” or unkind, it just means standing back from a distance and watching the life of someone we love, without interference, and without trying to "fix" anything. Detaching does not mean you are turning your back on your son. It means you are stepping back, setting clear boundaries and limiting engagement, etc. so he can move on with his life the way he will. Both you and he are better off.

Every day that I visit this site, whether or not I post anything, I always learn something and strengthen my clarity, understanding, peace, thankfulness, etc. This is a safe place and I am glad you found us here. It is a relief to share with people who understand and to know you are not alone.

This whole forum, and the many stories of deliverance here as well as stories of learning to make it through each day, one day at a time, seems to come around to this – that the only way to find peace for both ourselves and our difficult children is through the process of really understanding and implementing detachment. It’s usually the first thing we introduce newcomers to read about and learn.

Detachment includes the following:

· Full acceptance of our adult difficult children for who they are ~ It’s not our approval of their behavior, not pride in their intellect or accomplishments, but our releasing them and giving them their right to be free to be who they are because they are adults, and because we are powerless to fix or control them. Any attempt “to fix” or “make better” only brings misery.

· Detachment from the outcome – detachment from the result of their choices (even destructive choices, which we may initially see as betrayal, or painful) that these difficult children make in their lives. Detachment from the outcome is releasing our own desires ... releasing our attachment to the likes and comforts we know or wish for ... detaching from and releasing fear and insecurity of what may happen ... and realizing that it will be what it will be, and we will survive and handle it.

· The (Detachment) process is designed to be healing (not hurtful.) Wounds can remain painful as they are in the initial healing process, but the design is to HEAL / to relieve ~ not hurt.

· Only if we resist, keep fighting it, feel victimized, want to stay in control, remain enabling, keep opening the boundary gates, keep in the "rinse / repeat" pattern .... then yes, it does keeps hurting ~ over and over ~ until we learn what we need to.

I must cut short now, as I have to go out, but others will come along shortly and give more insight and wisdom in your situation. Stay with us here, and read the others’ threads for much guidance, support, and understanding. I will follow along with your thread.

Take care. Finding us here is a great new beginning.
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Your 29 year old son sounds like my 39 year old son, although son never tells me his problems are my fault. He does complain and can get abusive if i let him. He also used to make suicide threats.

I decided i deserve to be treated well. I have three other adult children and none of them abuse me...ever...and they have nothing to do with this son and dont think I should either. I do by phone, but if he says anything abusive, i now disconnect the call instantly and put in place three days for him yo cool off. I will not answer the phone or texts for three days if he abuses me.

He has learned to mostly not abuse me. He knows I mean business.

29 can become 39. There is no excuse for a loving mother to listen to abuse from her own son and I refuse. I wont allow that tupe of disrespect just because he does poorly under stress. There is no excuse for abuse. None. Not to me.

I also called 911 each time he threatened suicide. He stopped and has yet to ever make even a bogus suicide attempt.

We need yo stop seeing our adult sons as cute little boys. They are men and need to act like men. If a husband treated you like your son, would you tolerate it? This is domestic abuse. Spouse or son, it is still abuse.It is up to you if you feel you deserve it, but I cant see that we help grown adult children by allowing them to treat us like their verbal slaves. I dont care if he is upset. He can get professional help. If not, that is on our son's shoulders, i think my son is partly a narcissist. Both sons are way old enough to get help. We are not psychiatrists. There is nothing we can do to hrlp them. They have to do it. We can only help one person on earth....ourselves. Nobody else.

Anyhow...this is my way of dealing with it.

Blessings !!
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These replies have all spoken to my heart! It just feels so good to hear from others going through similar things. Even my husband is little support, because he doesn't like to talk about it.

I have a very basic question. It has been one week since his awful text. I have had no contact. Do I wait for him to reach out? In the past I have reached out after a couple of weeks, and it gets smoothed over, but with no apology on his part. I know this is not OK.


Dear Brokenhearted: Welcome to our site. My thought is that you wait for him to initiate contact. Its okay for him to know that he has overstepped your boundaries this time, and for a long time and come to the realization that its not all about him all of the time. You are a loving mother with feelings. Its time he recognizes that. You do not deserve to be treated as a doormat. People treat us the way we allow them to. Perhaps start by being more loving toward yourself...you don't deserve to be treated this way. Once he sees a change in you chances are he will make some changes himself...all in a good way. Hugs and sorry for the pain this is causing you. Been there,done that and still have recurrences but life is much better once I started to call the boundaries and learn to love me!
Thank you so much! I look forward to the day when I can feel "wiser now"!
This group is going to be life changing for me. I am so happy to have support and feedback! Thank you all so much!


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Welcome Brokenhearted

Glad you found us but sorry you have to be here! I think that another option you may consider is maybe seeing a therapist for yourself also to help you work through this if you are unable to do this on your own.

My son is much younger than yours and we have different issues than you do, but it has helped me create clear and healthy boundaries with him. It's really good for him AND you! You sound like a lovely person and loving mother and you don't deserve this treatment.

Good luck!


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I think we have twins...lol.

My son doesnt seem to understand that I have a busy life and a husband and other kids, friends, a job, hobbies etc. As soon as I answer the phone he starts talking about himself. No "hello." No "how are you" just talking about himself from the last time we spoke.

He is much better with the abuse since I started refusing to listen. But he still talks mostly about himself.


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I have a very basic question. It has been one week since his awful text. I have had no contact. Do I wait for him to reach out? In the past I have reached out after a couple of weeks, and it gets smoothed over, but with no apology on his part. I know this is not OK.
On another thread, 30 Year Old BiPolar Daughter Going Downhill, @Denise2017 asked the same question:
I do have a question- if I don't hear from the difficult child for a week or so is it ok to connect by text for example? Or better to maintain distance?
I posted a response on the other thread. Here is some of my response to Denise , pasted below, in case you do not see it on on the other thread.

Everyone’s situation and relationship with their difficult child is different. In my opinion, I would NOT reach out to him. Why would you reach out? To do what? A week is a very short span. Give it time and patience (I know this is hard to do, but enjoy the peace and freedom from needing to immediately deal with drama. ) Right now tell yourself " There is nothing I need to do right now." I often think that with difficult children “No news is good news.” Start to let it go... to let her go…to let old patterns go. This is a necessary loss.

If he does not connect with you for some very long time, and you really must contact, limit a very short text to say something like ~ “Haven’t heard from you. Glad you are working things out.” Then realize that he may or may not respond. If no response, then accept that. If he then replies with more drama, thinking you want to start up the old dynamics, you can choose to not reply.

There are often posts on the threads of “things to say” to your difficult child if, for some reason, you feel you really need to answer his phone call or text, etc. It’s recommended to keep a list handy of these quick responses, to remind you to stay calm and disconnect soon / to keep it short and cordial. You don’t need to elaborate on any of the replies. Just the quick answer, with the purpose of quickly ending the way the conversation is going. With each new response back from him, you can answer with a different short phrase.

I found it empowering just to have a list handy of things to say, each time I saw my son's name come up on the phone or text.

There is a very old thread (List of things to say when detaching), which brainstormed some ideas. Here’s the link to it, if you'd like to check it out > List of things to say when detaching

Here are a few handy phrases: taken from that thread:

"Well, I'm sure you'll work it out."

"That sounds interesting."

"Good for you, honey!"

"How are you handling that?"

"That must make you feel good." / "That must make you feel bad."

"I'll need to talk to your dad about that."

"I don't have an answer right now. I'll do some research, if I have time ."

"Sorry, I'm on my way out the door right now and can't talk!"

"I need some time to think about that. I'll get back to you." (then no need to get back or very much later.)

"What's your opinion?" “I see”

"I'm sorry, honey." “You’ll figure it out.”

"Gotta go now. Things to do "
As soon as anything turns ugly, you can immediately cease the conversation. Learning these new ways is not easy, but you will begin to feel liberated and build your confidence. We are all in this together.


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If you reaching out involves you having to apologize and beg forgiveness for him abusing you, then it's a no brainer that you shouldn't do it. The other posters have given you wise counsel already.

Detachment doesn't mean no contact, but the only options are not
1. Being his punching bag that he takes his frustrations with his life out on or
2. No contact.

There is a middle way where you have boundaries around how you will allow yourself to be treated. You decide what those are. A basic one should be, if he uses foul language, the next thing he hears is you hanging up.
Anyway, every conversation I have to walk on eggshells, because he sets off easily. When that happens (about every couple of months), he says things like "It's on now" and "I will never forget this." Then he ends up cursing and telling me he never wants to speak to me again! (Usually with lots of f*#! Yous and calling me the worst mother, etc. )
This is not OK. By putting up with this, you are telling him it is OK to treat you like this. If he wants to have a relationship with you, it has to be based on respect. If he asks your opinion on something, tell him your opinion. If he doesn't like it, that's his business. Would you let other people call you up and curse at you? If not, then why are you letting your son do it?
I need help with several things concerning my son:

1. Figuring out what is wrong with him.
2. Having the right words to use when we talk.
3. Getting him to go to a counselor

I think maybe you're putting too much on your own shoulders. For
1. it's not up to you to diagnose him. You're not a psychiatrist. He's 29 years old, so you can't make him seek professional help. All you can do is figure out how you are going to respond to his behaviors.
2. This is where you do have power. Sometimes the right words are, "Goodbye, we'll talk later when you can be respectful"
3. You can't do this. You can suggest it, but you can't make him to do anything. Realizing this is a big part of detachment. He's free to be his own person. But you're also free to allow as much or as little of his behavior into your life as you want.
It has been 3 weeks and I need to reach out to my son, because we will all be together for my father-in-law's birthday. I want to smooth things over before we are together. But I want to do this without my apologizing. I have some things on paper that I want to say which I think might be a good start, such as "I've missed talking to you, but I was honoring your request. I hope enough time has passed that we can talk it out." I plan to tell him that I will be happy to talk to him but that I will not be his punching bag. I also have my own life and I will not always answer the phone if I am unavailable to talk.

I am just wondering if anyone has any feedback before I call him. I am nervous because I want to end this cycle we have been on....


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I would think hard about whether to talk to him because he is unlikely to be nice unless you are willing to do what he wants. I learned not to treat myself with disrespect. What do you want to get out of this talk? Are you likely to achieve this?

Most of these adult children who bring us here have abused us and wrongfully blamed us for everything bad in their lives. Do you think this son is capable of being reasonable and nice and concillatory? His past behavior gives you that answer.

If he is only nice to you if you do what he demands, do you feel he will honestly change how he behaves by your kind desire to put water under the bridge? He said terrible things to you. Is he willing to apologize or is it just you? I would ask for an apology.

He sounds very childish and, yes, like many of our adult children he serms....mean. He is 29. Time to act at least like a normal twelve year old. Can he stop the emotional abuse? Will he?

I believe most extermely demanding and difficlt adult offspring see our backing down as a sign of weakness that they can exploit. Nice adult kids who are reasonable do not bring us here. Your son sounds very capable of more abuse.

Having said that, you know your son best. Only you know if he is capable of being civil to you even if you dont do what he asks of you. The decision in my opinion should be based on his personality. Talking nicely doesnt work well or get us to where we want to be with many of our difficult loved ones. In fact they use it against us alot.

To reconcile if were me (and I demanded this of my difficult adult child) his part would have to be zero abuse of me on the phone, in texts, and on social media. I will not engage him at all if he is in any way abusive. He knows this and has backed down. A lot.

I would have a lot of trouble embracing my son if he wrote on social media what your son did unless he apoligized sincerely.

Your son working out so much may be a sign of body dysmorphia...kind oflike female anorexia. Maybe he is narcicistic and can not do anything except use people. This will make him toxic to everyone he knows. Even our adult children can commit verbal and physical abuse. Most adult kids of almost 30 do not beat up on Mom because they are unhappy. This is domestic abuse. What if your spouse spoke to you like him?

It is not your fault your son wont see a counsellor. My son uses me as one too but I limit how much i talk to him and one abusive word and i hang up and make him wait three days before i will answer his calls. I do not reach out to him after he is abusive and if he calls he must apoligize to talk to be allowed to talk to me. He is much nicer to me now that I wont take much crapola from him. Much. And it is on my terms. I feel more empowered than when I just took it.

What do you think your son will do if you offer that dialogue you suggested or set a boundary of zero tolerance toward abuse of you, verbal or otherwise? Have you tried it before?Why hasnt HE reached out? So much to think about in my opinion...good luck!
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You made many good points, and I think I agree with you. My husband advised me to just hug him and act like nothing is wrong at the family function. This will be hard for me, because I imagine he will be like a mannequin when I hug him, and it will be difficult not to react.

How did you get to the point to where you are now with your child? I won't be able to let him know my boundaries until he talks to me. I feel like everyone is right, though. He owe me an apology for his language, for sure.


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Honestly, if my son hadnt wanted to talk to me when he was at his worst i would have let it be and been relieved. Now my son never demanded I give him anything and had never called me the "c" word. I would have been so shocked and insulted by that vulgar term I would have hung up on HIM and not spoken to him until I was over it. And my son WANTS to talk to me, mostly sbout himself.
I am a sounding board. Sometimes I dont like that role and dont answer when he calls. He is inconsiderate about the time he calls and it is always the same monologue conversation...about his woes. Never, "What are you up to, Mom? You doing ok?"

The love from my husband and other three adult kids help me. They cant stand their brother. He has nothing to do with them and they are glad. He has abused them all. My youngest has heard him over the cell phone when he is yelling at me and told me I should never talk to him again. I do. He is my son. But he has to be nice to me or I wont talk to him. My other kids are right. I dont deserve abuse. I dont put up with it from anyone else and he cant do it either.For tje most part, he doesnt. But he is all about himself. Never talks about anyone but himself. He is narcicistic (my opinion) much like my father. I believe he inherited it.

My other kids are adopted and not a part of my family DNA, thankfully. They are all sweet, caring, and just amazing.
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