Dealing with desperation

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Note4u, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. Note4u

    Note4u New Member

    I am new to this site so please let me know if I should be writing this somewhere else. We have a very similar situation. My step-son is 31 years old, and is asking to move in with us until he gets things worked out. Truth is he is being evicted by what was once a friend who he now owes several thousand dollars in back rent. When he was 18 he moved out to live with friends. During that year he got arrested for breaking into cars. We reluctantly bailed him out of jail, paid all of his court costs with the agreement he would pay us back. Never happened. A few months later he used the soft touch on his mom to move in with us because he lost his job. I told him it would be ok if he helped around the house, and make a daily effort to find a new job. Never helped, and lied about job search. So I asked him to leave. At 21 he is back asking to move in again. Things will be different this time. We fell for it figuring a little older, more mature. Wrong! We left him one simple job to do so we could go on vacation. Told him to show us he has grown up. When we returned home the one simple job was not done, and my liquor cabinet was empty. Once again he was told to get out. Now 10 years have passed. He has had 2 cars repossessed, been evicted at least 2 times, fathered a child with a girl that also threw him out. He is not working. Doesn’t have a car. Lies about drinking. Tells you he is trying by seeing a counselor. Happened only once when we took him. So now he is hitting up all the relatives for a place to stay. He tried in December, and everyone said no. Now 3 months later he is asking again this time because his friend gave him 4 days to get out. Too embarrassed, or for fear of hearing rejection he emailed everyone. Promising not to drink, he will find work, he will go to counseling. Desperate times! My wife is teetering with the guilt of abandoning her little boy, but my answer to that is he is not a little boy. It’s time to take charge of his own life, and check himself in to a rehab. What do you think we should do?
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  2. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    I agree with you. He has not shown any signs of trying to improve his life and has basically stolen from you by not repaying you. It is time for him to realize that actions or non actions have consequences. He needs to grow up and take care of his own life. You can't make him go to rehab but if he has to face what his drinking is doing he will hopefully realize what he needs to do . it would not hurt to provide him with local rehabs. There is an article here on detachment try to get your wife to read it and a book called codependent no more by melody beattie. The reason i know this is my son continually borrowed money always with promises anf full proof plans of how he would pay it back. I am talking about tens of thousands of dollars. I have not seen a dime. He is 36 years old. I know that i was not helping him by enabling. Your ss has lost friends and the mother of his child by his behavior as has still not learned. He has not changed his behavior and will not because he has not found his bottom. If you don't change he won't.
  3. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    Until your stepson decides what he wants to do with his life, his behavior is unlikely to change. Ask him if he likes living this way. Apparently, he's not tired of it yet. Ask him what the road blocks are that prevent him from being self sufficient and ask him what emotions he's trying to block out by drinking heavily.
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I left my response pretty sure you saw it.

    Bottom line: He is 31 and needs to sink or swim without his parents. I am sure he can at least flip burgers while he is on his own "finding himself." You don't want him to turn 40 and live in your basement, even.if he doesn't mind having you take care of him until you die....and then what?
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    He is not your wife's "little boy". He is her fully grown adult man of a son. He NEEDS to be on his own, not in your house. He CHOSE to not work, not address whatever problems are going on, not to meet his responsibilities and support himself OR his child.

    Allowing your fully grown stepson to move into your basement will accomplish nothing but problems. It will create havoc in your home and stress in your marriage. Why would you want to do this?

    It sounds as if he has a drinking problem. It would be good for both you and his mother to attend Alanon meetings. Addiction/alcoholism changes everyone in the family, not just the person consuming the alcohol. It would help your wife eventually see that she isn't helping him if she contributes to his drinking by letting him stay in the basement. If Alanon isn't a good fit, then a private therapist with experience in substance abuse and codependency would be a good thing. It can be a big help to have that type of focused support as you go through this.
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  6. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Note4u and welcome to the forum. This is tough stuff to go through for a mom, our adult d cs know just how to tug at our heart strings. Actions speak louder than words and at 31, from what you have posted (I bet there is much more to the history) your stepson has a recurring theme, much like many of our grown kids here. Drinking, partying, couch surfing, “failure to launch”. Wanting to continue as is, not wanting the consequences, shirking responsibility, expecting others to “rescue” him when dire straits hit the fan.
    Unfortunately, the writing is pretty much on the wall. Same ole, same ole. Promises to change, to find work.
    Many of us have found that once we open that door, their stuff moves in, again, and I mean their stuff, the whole lock stock and barrel of behaviors and excuses. Then, you are left with drama and turmoil in your home and stuck with an unmovable 31 year old man who feels entitled to your stuff and it just never ends.
    They have to learn somehow, and I have found with my two, they don’t budge from the crazy they live when they come home. They may hide it for a bit, then it all escalates and just infects everyone.
    So, what to do?
    I have found that love says no. It’s not easy to do, because there is all of this grief attached to our flailing adult kids choices. We wonder where we went wrong, what if we helped one more time, it may be different? Then there is the whole worry about them being homeless, hungry and cold and they just want us to believe that all of that is our fault, because we said no.
    It’s not true. They grew up and made choices that led them to be where they are at. It’s not our fault, we didn’t cause it, and can’t control it.
    The hard part is, you sound like you know this, but have to convince your wife. Is she open to attending Alanon? Is she open to counseling?
    Having face to face with someone who understands the difficulties of this journey helps us to make informed decisions. To stop going with our wounded, emotion driven hearts, to think things through and understand what is really helpful to our adult kids who have not been successful at “adulting”.
    We are not experts here, just parents who have been through similar experiences. We can share our stories and give you advice, take what works for you, and leave the rest. Everyone has to do what they can live with, and still look ourselves in the mirror.
    The thing is, what is really helping? Because that is all that we really want for our adult kids, to want real help, to stop drifting in stagnation, to be responsible, self sufficient.
    My two have asked to come home, I stopped saying yes, because I love them dearly and know by experience that they don’t get help living in my home. It is not a healthy situation for any of us. Truthfully, they have not found their potential yet, they are out there drifting. That is on them. They have to decide how they want to live, figure out if the choices they make and resulting consequences
    works for them.
    It is not how I would have them live, but it is not up to me. They made that perfectly clear, every time they came back through the revolving door, I thought it would help them, they just cycled further down the rabbit hole, and took us along for the hell ride.
    I can’t and won’t live with that in my home. Yes, it is difficult knowing they are out there doing God only knows what. They are 29 and 38. Old enough to know better, to do better, but they choose to live as they do. Suggestions of rehab were met with disgust. So I did what I had to do. I said no, you can’t come home. That was not easy, but I knew from years of allowing them to come home that they were not going to choose differently living with me. It ended up being an opportunity for them to keep doing what they do, under my roof, free and clear, food, shelter, no responsibility, respect for us or themselves.
    If you are going to take a chance and let your step son move in, make a contract and stipulations. Research rehabs, and see where he is at with that. If he stubbornly refuses, that is a huge clue on his intentions.
    It is hard when as a couple, this presents itself. It takes a toll on a relationship when one partner has a different viewpoint than the other. We all have our opinions and understanding. I was more ready than my husband to stop the insanity. In his culture, you don’t deny your kids. His cousins are in their 80s and have a 50 year old meth addicted son living with them.
    I couldn’t see myself, or my two, continuing down that pathway.
    So, I had to switch my focus, from being their delusional “rescuer”, to understanding that they didn’t want to stop drugging, they just wanted a comfortable place to stay while they partied. I had to and continue to work really hard building myself up to understand that, and to be able to live my life, no matter what their choices are. I have been around the block enough, so to speak, to know this.
    Enough to know that if they really want to change, they won’t come to me, they will go to rehab. I have to keep working on myself, strengthen myself to be able to live with the understanding that as long as my two are choosing drugs, nothing else matters to them. I think for alcoholics it is the same. Nothing else matters, but the next drink. They won’t stop, until they are truly ready to.
    I have come to the realization, that I would give anything for them to choose differently, but it matters not.
    It is up to them to want to live differently.
    The hard part for you, is to be able to come to an understanding with your wife. I found this site when I decided that I had enough and needed to change something, that something was my reaction to what was going on with my two. It was hard, being the “tough” one. I read as much as I could and posted here to get all of those feelings out, to know I wasn’t alone and to get stronger. Hubs was already dealing with ill health, he wasn’t a talker, not open to counseling or meetings.
    Whatever the decision is, I encourage you to learn as much as you can, to keep posting and encourage your wife to get help too. This is really hard on parents, even though our kids are not kids anymore. All we want, is for our kids to thrive, to be productive, to find their potential. When they don’t , it is a really hard thing to watch and let their consequences hit them. It hurts. We go through our own hell with them, trying to make sense of it all. Really and truly, it makes no sense. It is such a waste of body, spirit and mind.
    I understand the frustration and dealing with desperation. I have found that my journey with my two has switched from trying to rescue them from their choices and despairing over their lifestyle, to focusing on the one thing I can change, my reaction. I have given them back to God. They were only on loan to me in the first place. I did the best job I could raising them. They are not children, they are adults. When I find myself saddened, I pray. I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole of despair again. My sinking along with them, does nothing to change their choices, and robs me of my joy, my peace.
    Switching focus and working on self care is not selfish. It is imperative to our own well being. It is what we wish for our beloveds, to take care of themselves. We won’t be around forever to pick up the pieces for them. If we keep picking up the pieces, how will they ever learn? Sorry, I am “preaching to the choir” you already know this. I hope your wife will see this, as it seems your stepson has run out of options with friends and family, he is once more trying to wiggle his way to your home.
    Nothing changes, if nothing changes.
    I hope you are both able to come to an understanding of what to do.
    Welcome to the forum, Note4u. Please know that you are not alone. Keep posting and let us know how you are doing.
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  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Beautifully stated usual. Thank you.
  8. GStorm

    GStorm Becoming Independent

  9. GStorm

    GStorm Becoming Independent

    Wonderfully stated. I am with you all the way!!!
  10. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    New Leaf you are amazing and poetic and you speak the truth and you cover every single base! Amazing.

    Note4U please let your wife read this and the others posts and maybe she will start to think differently. These are parents that have been there and done that.
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  11. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    New Leaf, Outstanding advice. I can read the pain and extreme experience in your post. It takes so much strength to tolerate one out of control person and you have two. Thank you for pouring your heart out and sharing the absolute truth.
  12. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    I had a discussion in my head as I drove to work, it was the title to your post that triggered my pondering, and memories flooding in about past experiences with my two. It becomes a level of PTSD after dealing with this for so many years.

    I said the word silently in my mind, slowly, desperation.

    It is a terrible place to be. It can be altogether contagious as our loved ones go through troublesome times, like quicksand, we find ourselves just.....sinking emotionally along with them.
    Then I was thinking on all of those times, some “emergency” occurred and we would spring into action to fix whatever for one or both of our two, dropping everything and rearranging our lives and home for them to “recover” hopefully rebuild, renew, do something different.
    It was if their desperation became ours, our responsibility. They would settle in, the emergency was over, they found an answer for them, continued drugging, and the desperation they brought was shifted over to us.
    It eeked out of my pores......I sweat, cried and bled their desperation.

    Desperation is described in the dictionary, as
    “A state of despair, typically one that results in rash or extreme behavior.”
    Yup, that was us.
    That feeling of helplessness, that we had to do something. We had to fix this.
    My two, and most addicts, are very manipulative and clever at whipping other people into a frenzy over their current dramatic event, then when “rescued” it was just another Tuesday for them.
    The desperation long gone, as they settled in and quickly resumed partying, and left me quaking and depleted, a mere shell of myself.

    I wore their desperation so many, many times.

    It became my own.

    That is the machinations of having addicted loved ones, that we are more affected by their choices than they are.
    As I read the definition this morning
    “Desperation results in rash, or extreme behavior.”
    I began to see again that correlation between an addicts intense need to “feed the beast” stopping at nothing to satisfy that unsatiable need to be high.
    Stepping on the hearts of loved ones, stealing, lying.
    Intertwined in all of that, was our desperation that they be well.
    Rearranging our home, hiding our cash and valuables. Putting keyed locks on our interior doors. Locking our wallets in our cars.

    It was insane.

    Rash and extreme behavior, on both ends, them and us.

    Looking back, the sane and rational thing to do (which I am training for constantly now) was, and still is to put up Star Trekkian force fields against that desperation, not absorb it as my own.

    Looking at them and saying resolutely and firmly,
    “You are old enough, and quite capable to take care of yourself, if you choose to.
    I have faith that you can.”

    Then take a deep, deep breath.

    Despair/ air.
    That is my answer to that lonely sinking place I can go to, if I let myself go there.
    Just stop Leafy.
    Pray. Think. Breathe.


    The definition of despair is “the complete loss or absence of hope.”

    Hope is my lifeline.Where there is life, there is hope. I place my faith in prayer and hope that my two will see their light and potential.

    I just know that I am not the one to “fix” them.
    I know too, that I can’t put my life on hold waiting for them to get better.

    They have got to want that for themselves.

    Thank you to anyone following along on this soliloquy.
    The musings of a Mom, weary of grieving over something I have absolutely no control over.

    Please forgive my rambling, Note4u, your title struck a chord with me, on how many, many times I have been in that desolate place over my two.
    I don’t want to go there anymore.
    It is too hard.
    I hope you or your wife don’t allow yourselves to be there along with your stepson. Don’t allow him to drop his desperation at your doorstep.
    It is his consequence for his choices, not your cross to bare.
    Please find time to be kind to yourselves, to seek help, to create healthy boundaries for your hearts and home.
    Ps to RE, thank you so much for your kind words. You have to know how much I have learned from you and your quest to live in gratitude. Everyone else here has offered so much support as well and I am extremely thankful
    Note4u, this is a good place to sort all of this out.
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  13. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome to our little corner of the world. I'm glad you found us here. Within these pages are years of sage advice from battle weary parents.
    The others that have posted have given you great advice.
    At 31 we would like to think a person would be responsible for themselves. When it comes to our adult difficult children it's a different world for sure.
    There is a fine line between helping and enabling. Helping is when the other person is truly working at getting their life together and they just need a little bit here and there, they also are humbled and grateful. Enabling is doing for someone that which they should be doing for themselves. Enabling is a very unhealthy thing to do. When we enable we deprive the person of their own growing pains. It is through life's struggles that we grow and mature.
    I totally get it and I know how hard it can be. My son is currently in prison, before that he was homeless. I have had him contact me telling me that I needed to help him or he would starve to death. Yes, it tore me up but I had to be strong and tell him no! I told him to get to a shelter and they would help him. My son has begged many times over the years for help. I spent many of them enabling him. The only thing that accomplished was draining my energy and bank account.
    I finally had to come to a place of acceptance that my son was going to live his life on his terms and I could no longer be there to rescue him when times got tough. I looked years down the road and did not want to see myself at 80 with a 60 year old son still begging for help.
    I do hope you will share all these posts with your wife. I think it will help her to know there are many mothers out here that have struggled with the heartache and guilt. I hope she can see there is a place beyond that. I hope she can see it's okay to tell him no.
    Give him names and numbers of shelters. Tell him you love him but he needs to figure it out on his own.
    Ultimately you can only do what you can live with. None of this is easy.
    Please let us know how things go. We care!!
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  14. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Note4U. Glad you found us, and sorry you and your wife are once again in the wringer because of your stepson's bad choices.

    As I read your summary of what has happened, I wonder what will be different *this* time if you let him move back in with you.

    He hasn't stopped drinking, hasn't gotten a job, hasn't made any move toward paying his debts, hasn't set an appointment with the counselor. He must have known this day was coming, and he could have been proactive about at least SOME of the things he promised before he asked for help once again. I think your expectation that he go to detox is very reasonable.

    I also wonder why he waited until the last minute to ask for help. Many of our difficult children do so because they know that an urgent situation is more likely to lead to us giving in, again playing into our fear, obligation, and guilt.
    It's beyond horrible to imagine our own child with no place to lay his head, and they count on that. It sounds like your stepson is counting on it now.

    We let our son move back home on a "pinky-swear" more times than I want to count. Each time we did so, his drinking and drug use and the fallout from it escalated. Why wouldn't it? Why would he ever get sober, when he could get as high as he wanted, with no consequences, in comfort?

    It took us a long time to realize that our "help" was not helping, and in fact was preventing him from facing the truth about his situation.

    The help our alcoholic/addict children want is usually not the help they need. It is very hard for parents to give children with substance abuse issues the help they need. We are much too close, much too driven to protect them.
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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  15. Awakening1990

    Awakening1990 Member