Does it ever happen?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by vivivixx, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. vivivixx

    vivivixx New Member

    Have any of your difficult child's actually made a complete turn around and stayed that way. Is there truly any hope for any of us who deal with this?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yes, my daughter did.

    She started at age 12 using drugs and, according to her, smoked pot, drank, used meth, ADHD medications that she crushed into a pillcrusher and snorted alone and with cocaine, then took downers so she could sleep. She tried HEROIN a few times, which terrifies me, but did NOT get addicted to it, thank God. Once she saw a "friend" with track marks up and down her arms and they made her sick. She thought, "That will be me one day." She tried to quit. Her "friends" wouldn't let her, even threatening her with physical force if she did.

    We didn't know any of this, but we knew she was smoking pot a lot in our house so we finally told her she had to leave when we came home early from a vacation and she was hosting a vibrant pot party with lots of seedy looking people and paraphernalia. She begged us not to do it, but we packed her bags and told her to leave that night. She said she had nowhere to go and we said we didn't care....her young siblings could not see this over and over again. She was unwilling to go to rehab or counseling. We knew she was resourceful and would find somebody to mooch off of. She stole a lot back then too. Forgot that part. There are no homeless shelters around us. She would have to rely on her drug cronies to put her up. It was very frightening for us to do this and we all cried, but she had burned her bridges and even then refused rehab.

    Daughter was lucky. She had a totally straight arrow brother, who adored her at the time (he doesn't anymore, but that's a new thread) and when she called him begging him to help her, he drove all the way up from Illinois to get her, but handed her a list of rules before he took her from us, one being if she even smoked one cigarette in his house, she was out. She went with him with a strict list of rules, no transportation, and he expected her to get a job, pay rent and clean up around the house. He gave her his basement to live in.

    Away from her WIsconsin drug "friends" she quit almost right away, on her own. She got a job at Subway. She walked to and from work and paid rent. Eventually, she was promoted to manager (she is a very smart young woman when not abusing her brain with drugs). She kept the house clean for the guys. She cooked for them. She quit everything, including cigarettes, which she now can't stand to be around. She met her boyfriend that she still has ten years later, she went back to school. She got a job at that college. She got all A's and won a trip to Austria with another group of students who got very high grades. This was related to her major which was Culinary Arts, Pastry Chef. She bought a house with her boyfriend. She turned into, according to her, "a boring housewife, when I'm home." She works six days a week, sometimes ten hours a day.

    She drinks maybe once or twice a year. That's it. She is not in any trouble at all anymore. All her body piercings are gone. She can't have them at work. She is a pastry chef and also teaches Baking I twice a week at the college. Her boyfriend is a computer geek.

    I thought Daughter was going to die or end up in jail. By age seventeen she had been on probation twice, which didn't seem to phaze her, she crept out of her bedroom window to run around town at all hours, she was in a car when a "cohort" robbed a liquor store and was very fortunate not to be charged as an accomplice. She was a mental basketcase. The cops came to our house a lot. She pulled a knife on herself once and put it to her neck. I called 911 and the cops handcuffed her, put her in their car and took her to a psychiatric hospital. I was crying as I hadn't wanted her cuffed, but they said it was for th eir and her protection. She was yelling, "I hate you! I will NEVER speak to you again!" She was there for two weeks. She didn't stop using drugs. While she was gone, we searched her room and found several butcher knives under her mattress. Did I forgot to mention she was also a cutter?

    Do you really think we honestly had any real hope that things would ever change? We didn't. I don't think I slept all night at peace for years.

    Keep the Faith. There is always hope. I never dreamed this particular child would get to where she is now. But it happened. in my opinion the key isn't how many rehabs they go to, although rehab is always a good thing. but it won't keep a person clean. The key is something has to happen (in my daughter's case she decided to start her long road of quitting after she saw her friend with the track marks up and down her arms, but it ook a while for her to do it). Still...that did scare her. The person HAS to want to quit or it won't happen. But it CAN happen if it happened to us.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
  3. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member


    My son did.

    I was on this site for him, the first time. It was then that I learned (thank you, thank you, everyone who helped me then) whatever survival skills I still have.

    Here is the thing: it was nothing we did. Much of why he decided to move up is because we stopped helping in any but the most extreme situation. He is still pulling himself up ~ but he is drug free, and that made all the difference. Interestingly enough, he continued to bemoan our awful parenting long after he stopped using drugs. They come to believe their own reality. As the drug free years are passing, we are seeing that change. :O)

    I firmly believe that, had I never learned (through the parents here on the site) that:

    1) The problem was difficult child's drug use, not our poor parenting. (Oy vey, the guilt we feel when a child falls into addiction!)
    2) As surely as the problem was difficult child's choice to use drugs, the solution could only be difficult child's choice to stop using them. There was nothing I could do except tell him the truth about his own situation. I had to see that so clearly, before I could tell it to difficult child, though. But once I did? And I was able to tell him, clearly and without guilt? It seemed to take away one of his prime rationalizations for using ~ and totally destroyed any capacity for manipulating us into supporting the addiction.

    So, yes. It can happen. I think it cannot happen until the parents are strong and healthy enough to see the situation clearly themselves.

    Your child's drug use has nothing whatever to do with you, your parenting, your choice of mate or lifestyle. Whatever the reason, the child started using and is now addicted. It will be a hard path back. I say we can best help our children begin clawing their ways up from addiction by getting healthy ourselves, seeing the truth of the problem clearly, and telling that to our children every single time we talk to them. We are their mothers. We know who they were meant to be. We are the only ones who can believe in them, for them, until they are strong enough to believe in themselves, again.

    Never underestimate the power of a mother's (or father's) words.


  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well I would have been considered a difficult child if there was this site when I was a kid. I have a ton of diagnosis's. I was an awful teen that would rival most of the kids on this board. I grew up and once I had kids, I never looked back. I became a law abiding adult. I raised my kids to the best of my ability. Obviously I had difficult child Oh well. Life happens.

    I also have one son who is ADHD and was severely hyperactive as a child. He has grown up to be quite successful in his career as first a Marine and now working for the sheriff's dept in their Animal Control Unit. He is moving up quite quickly and if all goes as they plan in that unit, he most likely will end up as the Captain of that unit when he retires in a few years. Its a job he loves and is good at.

    Its very early days for us to say that our youngest son has actually found his career but it looks like it. He has been moved out of our home for awhile but always worked on and off while being on disability. Now he found a very good job working for a company that services cell phone towers all around the country and he is going to be based out of the NW. He is moving his family there. He has gone off of disability.
  5. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    I think I have been the only one on this board who let their difficult child still live at home during all his craziness (I joined when he was 14). I had to go with my gut feeling that if I gave him time for his emotional age to catch up with his actual age things would work out - I wasn't willing to take the chance of putting him and his crazy self out to the curb. Maybe it was due to me being an X-difficult child and things that would wig out others, I was laid back about. I don't know. And the strange thing is I left home at 17, went 3,500 miles, had no support except for an abusive boyfriend, and had a baby to boot, and I managed to succeed, but saying that, I didn't have alcohol problems or mental health issues that really impacted my life

    I figured there was going to be a lot of drama with him either way. But his mid 20's, he started getting his act together. Has his own computer repair business, works at a full time job as well, and is living on his own and taking care of his business. He drinks way to much, and still is a total pot head, but these are his problems to deal with now and he knows that.

    My eldest is another story. If she told you the sun set in the west, I would have to go outside and check it for myself. Nothing that comes out of her mouth is the truth - personally I think she has some kind of personality disorder. I hung in there with her a few years ago, took her and her kids in when once again she ended up living with someone once again that had a drug problem, and I did get caught up in her drama. She has had years of therapy, nothing that sunk in and nothing that made an impact. I currently have no relationship with her, nor would I ever take her in again. I never felt any fear with my youngest difficult child, but I do with the oldest as I now know what she is capable of.

    Its a hard call, and I guess it is down to how much you can personally handle but at some point their life is their own to own. I figure at 43 this year my eldest is never going to get a clue as she still has a love of drama.

  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Vivi, you've received some terrific responses to your inquiry. There is always hope for them and for us.

    There are stories all over this board and some who have graduated from this board whose kids are doing well in the world. And, it seems to me that the parents who continue to post here fairly regularly are learning their own tools to wade through in a healthier and all around better way for themselves. In the time I've been here, I see many improvements and more peaceful environments in the midst of some of the chaos that our kids present us with. It's clearly a process for us parents, it doesn't happen overnight, we have to learn how to live in a healthy way in this new landscape our kids have chosen. It takes time and energy and commitment, but it can be done.

    My daughter is still 'out there' in her own universe, the jury is still out on her...............however, I am in a MUCH, MUCH better place. I began taking the focus off of her and putting it on me and little by little that, along with therapy, groups, books, friends and this board, I gained clarity, peace of mind, joy and I learned how NOT to allow my daughter's choices to negatively impact my life.

    Hang in there. Keep posting. Find support for yourself. Read books. There is light at the end of the tunnel, really there is.
  7. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I am tempted to say that it will not until they get off the drugs. I saw my difficult child for a little over a year clean and sober, he was a completely different person, I actually looked forward to his calls. My difficult child has low self esteem and I suspect some personality problems, these are only magnified by the drugs and alcohol. He has lied profusely from the time he could talk. His and girlie's homeless conn last year to get money from me hurt very much. I was jumping through hoops for over 4 months to get money to him so he could eat and stay in school to get a job. The elaborate stories he told me about sleeping in the woods and going to friends to shower and change for classes, how his professor knew of his situation and admired him for being on the Dean's List were lies and made me realize my son has zero concern for me when he is using. The scary part is some of the traits he had before he started using.

    He went NC with me, but I refuse to have a child threaten me with suicide when I say I can't give him money. I also know that my son quit his job to go to school full time. I am completely baffled by his thinking. My difficult child was verbally abusive at a young age too. Any attempt to make my difficult child obey the house rules only made him more defiant. My difficult child has unresolved issues with me and would never open up in counseling. I wish i had a penny for the numerous times I have asked him to go to counseling. He doesn't!

    If we lived close to each other I know he would be breaking in and stealing from me. I never give up hope, and I pray for him daily. I also know that I can not live with his drama and stress. Now that he is with girlie it has increased. After he went NC with me I have no idea where he is ( I wasn't absolutely sure before) he stopped having contact with other family members years ago. The few cousins he kept in contact through FB were angry due to the things he was posting. He was getting really weird and the language was offensive. I love my son and always will - he is an adult now and he has to find his own way.

    Now, the reason I say I was tempted to say about the drugs is I have difficult child's in my family that I am positive do not use drugs or alcohol. My 53yo sister has been married 3 times and all of them were not motivated to work. She stayed home and told me about 10 years ago that if she worked he would only spend it gambling and drinking. HELLO, it's called separate banking accounts. He passed away 6 years ago and we all gave her money to help her until she found a job. She immediately went out on trips, bought a Wii and games, spent the money quickly.

    My mother paid $1000 for her to take a child care cert program to keep her job. She was to reimburse her and never did. She quit that job about 6 months later and went to work in our prison, she was fired less than a year later for bringing in Christmas cards to a prisoner, and other items off and on. Sounds big hearted BUT they have to watch an hour long film during orientation about how manipulative these guys are and in their opinion (wardens) if they can talk you into bring in one item they can talk you into other things. They are told upfront that they will be fired and can have charges brought against them. The prison system takes this very seriously.

    So she went back to her old child care job and lasted a month. She was accused by another employee of talking about her so she got angry and quit. Her 35yo unemplyed still sleeps on the sofa, his is a difficult child but also uses. My other sister says she will support them until said sister can get training for another job. in my opinion my sister is being used, I keep my opiniins to myself as they only start a family fuss and get my mother upset.

    Another difficult child (no drugs or alcohol) aunt (by marraige thank heavens) has been banned from the pizza shop and showed her butt at a doctor's office and they called the police. She is late 70s and just get worse each year!

    So, I guess the point I'm trying to get to through the ramblings lol, in my opinion they have problems that the drugs and aclohol amplify - but they may still be difficult children after they are clean and sober. It also seems that age magnifies mental health issues.

    BUT I never give up hope - I send out love to the person, earth, and the universe each day!

    (((huggs and blessing for us all)))
  8. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    My nephew was, in a way, a worse difficult child than my son. Hyperactive and and destructive as a child. Then as a teenager of course he became even worse. Taking and dealing drugs. Violent, abusive toward his siblings. In and out of the psychiatric ward and jail. When he got into a fight and was hit in the head with a metal pipe, which resulted in his having a metal plate placed in his skull he slowly started to change. Parents never kicked him out but he would live in the basement and they stopped feeding him. He got a job, started taking classes to become a boiler engineer like his dad (blue collar union occupation) met a girlfriend (beautiful and college educated). He moved out with her and they are now engaged.

    So there you have it. My nephew was actually banned from our house for a few years, as he would always try to beat up my son. And now the tables have turned and he is stable and functioning well, while my son...well, you can read his recent history in my signature below.

    My son is presently living in a very structured dual diagnosis halfway house/partial program. He has been there for 2 weeks and will most likely be there a year as he hopefully transitions to the three quarter house and then to independent living. We have spoken to his counselor who says he has been compliant and cooperative so far. This program is the best chance he has to prepare for independence, and if he is even capable of that only time will tell. I do know that our standing firm and telling him that coming back was not an option got him there.

    I hope these stories help you keep your spirits up, even a little bit.
  9. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I agree that most difficult children, whether using or not, refuse to take responsibility until they are forced to. In my sister's case all uf us but the one that is supporting her have said she has to learn to take care of herself. The sister supporting her has gone so far as to buy her a brand new car. I wish she had bought one for me lol!

    There were many times in my 33 year career with AT&T that I wanted to walk away and not look back. I'm sure every working person feels that way sometimes. The difficult child in them seems to make it OK to expect other people to support them. They live for the moment with no concern for the future. I have serious concerns about my difficult child son, difficult child nephew, and difficult child sister.

    in my opinion, unless a person is disabled there is no excuse for not supporting yourself. From what I have seen in the difficult children that I know it doesn't bother them to be takers. If it does they are hiding it very well!
  10. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I felt it was important to add that difficult child took his ideas about poor parenting being the reason he chose to use drugs I just could not get past the idea that somehow, everything bad that ever happened to either of my kids was my fault. I was in therapy for a very long time and never managed to shake that belief that my poor parenting was the ultimate cause of difficult child's problems. I spent years and lots of money trying to find whatever it was so that I could fix it. Not that I was a perfect parent? (There are no perfect parents.) But I did not indicate to my child that addiction was a desirable lifestyle choice.

    Neither did any of the parents here, or they would not be here.

    It is very important for parents to understand that the kids will take their cues about where their problems (and solutions) have or will come from, from us. If we take responsibility, then we will be the ones who have to fix it. If we can see clearly that we taught them better AND TELL THEM THAT (this is true, or you wouldn't be on the site to begin with) then the problem, and the strength and desire to find a solution, are put back into the difficult child's hands.

    I forgot that part, about difficult child's turn around. I had seen my way clear to understanding he HAD been raised better than to do what he was doing, and to tell difficult child that in no uncertain terms.

    That's a really important piece. I'm glad I remembered that.