difficult child emails me 2 days after I kicked him out

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WaveringFaith, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Hello friends and fellow parents-- Some of you may know of the difficulties I've had this week with finally having to kick my 20yr difficult child son out on Tuesday of this week. I thought that might be the traumatic event he needed to get his life together, after his violent episode earlier this week (used profanity in my face and threw a chair across the room, not actually putting his hands on me, but I feared he would). He was refusing treatment, basically living as a non-contributing zombie in my home. But Tuesday's episode was the last straw. I kicked him out, it was a sad and angry departure from my home. It was also the longest day in history for me not knowing where he was going with no money or job or friends in this big city.

    Later that same night my mother contacted me that difficult child had arrived at her house, where he's been staying the past couple of days. No contact with him.... until today. He emailed me the following:

    This is a new phone and i dont have your number so im emailing you. I feel horrible for the things i said to you and how i left like it was nothing. I could never have imagined ever treating you like that. I dont want us to be seperated like we have since i left. I was in the wrong to treat you that way. Im here looking for a job in the mall. Im trying to get my life together. I didnt think it would take this long. I just dont want us to be apart. Its already enough on me that ive been unable to be a role model for (10yr easy child son). He deserves and needs one. So im sorry i havent been that. I think its best i stay here until things change, im sorry mom.

    Getting this email from him made me cry. Just hearing from him actually. But I just don't know how to respond. I know that this is the 1st contact after the big event of kicking him out for the first time ever, so I now that how I handle this will set a precedent for all future communication with him. If I sound too happy and eager to hear from him, he may try and swindle his way back home (which I would not allow), but if I sound too harsh, it might discourage him from really trying to get his life together.

    A little background.. Before this whole depression/social anxiety/possible drug-related situation started 2 years ago, we were the best of friends. All through high school, difficult child was one of the most popular students in school, I was always attending assemblies where he was receiving an award, helping me around the house so much, even being supportive during my divorce in 2009 with easy child's dad, and he was basically my little buddy his whole life, I never had to discipline him or yell at him, he was literally the Perfect Child. Until after graduation when he left out of state to attend the college where his dad (and dad's family) lived. He was never close to his dad, only seeing him during the summers of his childhood. Something happened while he was over there. Maybe he got with the wrong crowd, maybe a girl broke his heart, I'll never know. I've tried to pry it out of him to no avail.

    What I'm trying to say is that what happened Tuesday, when he finally had that outburst after being a zombie in my home for almost a whole year, was the worst thing that ever happened in the history of our relationship. He had never said *uck You to me, or shown any slight bit of violence. So that is the background. Now here is his email to me..

    I know i can NOT ever allow him to live in my home again. But I would love to have some type of relationship with him. I just don't know how to handle this, or how to respond. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!!!
  2. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome,

    I read your original post, and it's a heartbreaker. FWIW, you did the only sane and safe thing you could do, not only for you and your younger son, but for difficult child too.

    Now that difficult child has had a bit of time and distance to reflect, it seems like he's genuinely contrite. Many of our difficult children are great manipulators, and know exactly what to say to push our buttons and melt our hearts, they're great players. I have some "scar tissue" around my heart for all the times my difficult child played me, and let me tell you, I take everything with a grain of salt.

    You're under no obligation to respond to his email, but if you want to make contact, perhaps you might answer with something brief, such as, "I love you, and always will. I want you to get the help you need, and am willing to work with you on that when you're sure you're ready."

    My heart goes out to you - I wish you and your family peace and healing.
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  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, I think middle ground is always the best policy. So, not too mushy and certainly not punitive.......but along the lines of.......
    "I appreciate and am relieved to hear from you and that you feel remorse for what happened between us. Thank you for the apology. I love you son, however, for now, I agree that it is best for us to remain apart. Let's put the future on hold and concentrate on you getting yourself together which is what everyone wants. Get a job and get some support for your depression. You cannot be a role model for brother until your life is put back together. I need to take this one step at a time because what happened between us had an impact on me which I have to come to grips with on my own and I need time to do that."

    I don't want to burst the bubble, but over many years I received many emails and had many conversations with my daughter which sounded very much like your son's email. He may be absolutely truthful and will pull his life together immediately...........or like my daughter, he may mean it right now, but there is absolutely no change in behavior. And, she did that many times...............and then I stopped believing.

    Our kids can be master manipulators with a streak of brilliance..........or they can mean what they say in the moment and forget it the next.............I don't know your son, he really may be sorry and want to change but the truth will be in the doing, not the talking. I think it would be best if for the moment you had little contact.....while you gain strength and he mans up to address life squarely, no more zombie boy...........taking action is what he needs to do and he needs to do it now. You might also make his seeing a therapist and getting on medications or whatever you believe is the solution a part of the negotiation for a relationship with you. You have the power now, not him. He is no longer holding you hostage, you stopped that. And, remember your easy child, he deserves a break too.

    Really think about what you want, what you are willing to do, what you are not, what is negotiable what is not...........write it all down.............take your time, there is no hurry, he is safe, you have peace..........so you have time............you can also consult a therapist and figure out the guidelines with her/him. You can also meet your son down the road with that therapist and negotiate your terms with a mediator who is skilled in this kind of stuff. I would wait. I would be cautious. And, I would be very clear about what I wanted, what I deserve, the respect due to you as his mother..........you have the opportunity to make a difference and change this, you can't change him but you can change the way he has to be around YOU........so figure out what your terms are, what your boundaries are, where your line is, all of it. He is a man now, not your little sidekick and a man is different with his mother............he doesn't harm her, he protects her. You have every right to demand to be treated the way you want to be treated by him and by everyone. Don't settle. Don't cave. Don't give in with this first shot out of the gate, he needs to make amends for how he acted and how he hurt you AND his brother.

    Proceed with caution. You're doing a great job and each step of the way we have to stop and wait............don't respond to anything immediately, you have to allow your enabling brain to settle down. Once you come up with a plan run it by us or a trusted friend to see if there are any holes in your thinking. I did that for months with my SO. And guess what? There were almost always holes in my thinking. Once pointed out I could see them clearly, but left to my own devices, I was blind to it. You are still in the FOG a bit so don't trust your first instincts, they will be your mommy heart responding to your little boy, they won't be accurate...............stay the course.........you're doing great.................(and I know it's tough..............we all know that...........).....HUGS.
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  4. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    I have to say that I would give just about anything to get an email like that from my difficult child, who was kicked out about 6 weeks ago (in a strikingly similar scenario where he's now living with my parents)...he's only apologized to say 'I'm sorry but you provoked me'...your difficult child sounds truly sorry and like all of a sudden he realizes HE needs to change...there is no blame of you in his email-- every thing I've heard from my difficult child blames me and husband for all his problems...that email is a real gift, in my humble opinion...I would definitely reply, thanking him for contacting me, how much I appreciate him taking responsibility for what happened and for changing his life and that yes, you'd like to be in his life (just not living together)-- you can also support him from a distance with encouragement, advice (if he wants it) on getting his life started, and so on.....I would even offer to meet him for breakfast or lunch (just you, not easy child at first) to see him and check in with him about what's happening...I was trying that but it became clear my son was meeting me for the $20 in gas money I promised...once that stopped, so did the meetings...your son sounds more sincere, remorseful, and responsible than mine (19 yo) EVER has...congratulations...I think this is a wonderful turn of events for you and your family and I would embrace the hope that message conveys
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Go slow. Wait. Sleep on it. Let time take its time.

    I hope and pray this is his turnaround. But only time will tell.

    Someone said it already: it's not about the words, it's about the actions. Over time.

    Rest and relax in this moment. Something hopeful has happened. Enjoy this moment, without wanting more.

    Blessings for you all.
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  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    I am glad your son at least wrote you a nice e-mail. Call me cynical, but I'd write a thank you and I hope you can do well, short e-mail back, then sit back and see if he really wants to change. See if he goes for serious help, stops asking everyone for money, and starts working full-time, while paying for his own toys. I forgot if he uses drugs or not, but if so he did not address that or offer rehab.

    I have to agree with Recovering Enabler big time. Our adult kids are consistent in two ways: They are master manipulators and they tend to have personality disorders, which means that what they say one day they can turn around and nullify the next. They also tend to be all words and no actions, especially if they want something from us.

    If he really means he is sorry and wants to become productive, he will do it. My own mom had a saying "actions speak louder than words." I would not get overly excited...our adult kids tend to disappoint us and you still need to go on with your life and build a happy one, whether or not he lives up to his e-mail.

    Your son knows that a loving note to you plus taking responsibility (in words at least) will soften your heart. See if he backs it up with real action. I don't want you to be disappointed. It is unusual for our kids to see the light that quickly and suddenly turn it all around. It takes time, often therapy, and always hard work.

    This is a great step on his part, but don't forget about YOU and don't let your guard down so far that your heart can be broken all over again. It has happened to me. I want you to be more prepared for a possible disappointment than I was. It took my daughter many promises before she finally did it, and when she did do it, she didn't tell anybody about it until after she had detoxed and had done most of the hard work. In other words, once she stopped making promises and acted in her own best interests, without expecting kudos from us, that's when she finally did it...and it was not quick or easy. One way you will know he is serious is that he will drop his dysfunctional friends. I knew my daughter was serious when she spent many months alone rather than find knew drug partners to hang around with. She was very lonely a nd we talked on the phone a lot (she was in another state), but she was determined not to hang around with "losers" anymore and said she would rather be lonely. She had no car, but walked back and forth to work, even in the rain and bad weather. She was staying with her very strict, straight-arrow, you-can't-mess-up-even-once older brother and she cleaned and cooked for him and his roommates (actually they all took turns). She totally changed her lifestyle. But, again, she had to go through a lot before she could actually do it...or was serious about doing it.

    Hugs and lots and lots of good vibes in your direction.
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    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  7. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    I don't know your son and his behavioral patterns (I have read your recent posts so know what happened for him to have to leave)...I agree totally with MWM that if it's a pattern for him to do this just to wiggle his way back into your life and heart, you should be very cautious in how you respond...if it was my difficult child who responded like that, I'd not believe he meant it because he has never taken responsibility for his actions and I would know he was out to get something...I was struck by your difficult child's email that he wasn't asking you for a thing other than forgiveness...he wasn't asking to come back home, he just wanted you to know he's sorry...has a pattern like this happened in the past where he gets in a situation like this and then manipulates you to give him back what you took away (in this case, your house)..your signature says he's clinical depressed and refuses help-- is now the time that you can help him get it as a step in supporting him in turning his life around?
    It never hurts to process things though...everyone here is right about that...move slowly and purposefully, processing all the things from his past to figure out whether he's likely manipulating you or really ready to change...I for one would like to believe it's a sincere message and you're in for some hopeful signs in the days to come...take care of yourself...all this back and forth makes it much more stressful and hard to cope with so be sure you're doing things to nuture yourself through this
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  8. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you got a conciliatory email from your difficult child, even if it is unclear if he means it. I think COM's advice was spot on...be glad the doors of communication may be open. Take no urgent action. Take a day or two to respond, then repond with love and caution, understanding that his promises and plan really mean nothing (I'm going to get a job), on the other hand nothing happens without a plan, and saying he is going to do something is better than insisting he is fine as is.
    I will say my son smiled and told me earnestly for YEARS that he was going to get a job/get clean/finish school. Pretty much every time we spoke. I believed him 999 times. He actually did get a lot of short term jobs, from which he usually got fired after a month or so for his inability to consistently show up to work. Each job I rejoiced with him. It took me 999 times to realize that the words, whether backed with real intent or not, mean nothing.
    Be cautious here. Don't applaud words. Don't answer too fast. But your son is early in the game, he hasn't been a mess his whole life like so many of ours have...I would keep a loving door open. He hasn't asked you for anyting. Don't offer anything. Just let him know you love him, and you are glad he is safe , and you are glad to hear he is thinking of ways to do better....or something like that. I hope that is the right message. I don't know for sure.
    My thoughts and heart are with you, though, that I do know for sure.
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  9. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    My friends, thank you all for your advice. I think each of your responses provide me with a valuable piece of information that will help me here. I have not yet responded, I might this evening after I get home from work. I will proceed with caution, not being too overly excited, but appreciating that he reached out to me, apologized for his actions, and "appears" to have a plan to get a job and straighten up. I do know that he is being very sincere. We've never had this type of trauma between us, the past couple of years since he started going downhill, he mainly just laid around and did nothing, never tried to look for work, playing up the mental illness role, trying a couple of doctors/anti depressants, but never sticking to any of them more than a month to see if they would actually have worked. So, my frustration has been building on how to help get him on his feet. Only in recent weeks have I really gotten upset because he had an opportunity for a great job with health insurance and great hours, but he blew off the safety training class and never returned the employer's calls. He was already practically hired! This is what set the past week's events in motion. I got more and more upset and he did too, and that led to the outburst. I am not in any way taking the blame, he knows what he did was terrible.

    I will work on my "script" email tonight, making sure to keep it short and sweet, and making sure that he knows he needs to stay away and get it together, but I love him and support him getting on his feet. That's really all I can say. Also, my parents emailed me last night that difficult child got dressed up and went to 2 job interviews and has been on their computer constantly applying online for jobs. I hope he gets one of them and can prove to me and my family that he means business.

    Thank you everyone, Hugs!
  10. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    You know, he is smart to know he needs to stay away for now. That line could be read as punitive or manipulative, but I don't think so. I think he needs to be out of the place of bad patterns. ONe of the half-way houses my son was in, half way across the state, said to me that he couldn't come home again...ever. Because the place they failed before is the place they are most likely to fail again. I was horrified, but I will say over the years that looks kind of true. YOur son is a little different, since he has a histroy of success in your house and the failure patterns are more recent. But RIGHT NOW, int he place he is in in his head, and where you are in your relationship...changing venues is really smart and good for both of you, and it gives me some hope (and comfort for your aching heart) that he recognizes that.
    Thanks for the update.
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  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just sending good thoughts as you continue down this winding road................thinking of you..........
  12. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Thank you Recovering :) Today was a calm day. The first in a long time. It was a manageable combination of a little anxiety and a little peace.

  13. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member

    Wavering faith- I am thinking about you and pray for peace and comfort for you. I hope you will post how things are going for you today. I think that you have a good plan formulated for how you will respond to the email. Just take it one step at a time. I also want to add that I cannot stress enough the importance of psychiatric help for your son. It has been a lifeline for both of my children. Yes, both. As I read your posts, I realized that your difficult child actually has done not only some of the things my daughter has, but also has things in common with my other adult child -because of the depression/anxiety factor. Besides my daughter (who is the one I post about on here), I have a "combo" easy child/difficult child son as well who is in his mid 20s and has suffered with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder since his freshman year in college. Like your difficult child, he was a wonderful little boy and teen. But once the depression hit, it really changed and crippled him, resulting in him being unable to finish coursework and failing classes that he could have easily done with one hand tied behind his back. Having an excellent psychiatrist has been crucial. My daughter has the same psychiatrist and although things are far from perfect, she is relatively stable right now and I am able to have some peace and stability in my life as well. So stay strong. The advice on this forum is excellent and will give you strength to do the things you need to do.
  14. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Thank you TryAgain.. It is so difficult trying to love and help them, when we don't know how to. I just posted an update about my difficult child. I'm confused by his sudden improvement, I have a lot of question in my head. But I want to believe good things can happen. Your difficult child sounds just like how my difficult child has been living. Detaching is what has helped me cope and move on. And a very hectic and consuming job, which I never thought I would be so thankful for.

    Thank you for checking on me.. I am glad you are having some calm and peace in your life right now, and sounds like your daughter is on her way. Is your difficult child son in your care now? I pray he will find peace and stability also. We have been given such a challenge in having children with these issues. But we are strong and we have each other.

  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think that the letter is a good "jumping off" point for everyone. That doesn't mean you let him move back home. That means he's starting to see reality, and people aren't knocking down his door to get him to come work for them.

    Are your parents willing to keep him until he gets a job and maybe some housing assistance? It won't kill him to share an apartment with someone. He can call Volunteers of America, Salvation Army, Goodwill, a local church program. There are any number of places that help him get job assistance and housing assistance at his age.

    I have to tell you, the letter he sent is one that some of us will never receive. I think that's hopeful on his part. I think it's probably manipulative to an extent, but it doesn't really change anything other than you got his attention and he realizes he has to make some changes. He has not made those changes - yet. It wouldn't be happening in my house, but you two are the ones making the decisions for yourselves. Keeping your 10yr easy child in mind, your difficult child would never be welcome to live in my home again, because he'd either be keep on keepin' on, or getting his act together and moving back with mom and little brother would be unnecessary.
  16. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    Well said witzend.. It's definitely not the resolution of anything, but it's a good starting point for him. I just hope he continues on this positive momentum. Only time will tell. I will keep on keepin on!

    Thank you so much.. :)