Don't know if I did the right thing?


my 33 year old difficult child has been in crisis mode for over a year. He's also been homeless for a year now with periods of time when myself or my ex has helped him with by the week motel rentals, etc. I finally said enough and have refused any more financial help because it wasn't helping and was draining us financially. So yesterday he rang my doorbell before 7:30 am wanting to get some clothing and blankets I had stored for him. The day before he had met another homeless person who said he could stay with him in his van if difficult child could find a place for him to park. difficult child tricked his brother into letting him park at his place ( by lying and saying he bought a van to sleep in but didn't have anywhere to park to sleep) omitting the fact that he was exposing his brother and his family to a stranger who no one really knew. Anyway after difficult child showed up Sat morning to get his stuff, he told my husband and I that he was going with the other guy to find work in the next state over. We cautioned him that this man was a stranger and it might not be the safest plan but at 33 he was a man and could make his own decisions. However my husband was smart enough to at least write down the make, model and license plate of the van. After he gathered up all of his belongings he said he would contact us soon to let us know where they ended up. Not even an hour later he called screaming at me that the other homeless man had driven off with all of his belongings including his medications, phone and wallet. He waited while GFG33 had stepped out of the van for a minute then drove off. The police were called and ended up calling me to ask about the belongings difficult child had picked up from my garage. At that time the officer told me that he suspected difficult child of using drugs as he spent over an hour with him taking his report and driving him to the scene, etc. and difficult child exhibited drug like behavior. I told him difficult child was bipolar with anxiety but that I also suspected him of using illegal drugs. The rest of the day was total drama and went down hill very quickly. He blamed everyone but himself. Cried, screamed and begged for us to get him a phone, backpack clothes, drive him around to find the guy so he could get his stuff back, etc. I refused but told him that he had missed a tote of clothes and he still had some clothes he could pick up. I also told him he'd be better off procuring a place to stay and food to eat instead of trying to find his stuff. finally about 6:30 pm he called again and asked me to pick him up at Walmart. I agreed and told him he could come and eat supper and get what clothes he had left. When I picked him up he started in on how I was worthless not to buy him a phone, clothes etc. so on the drive to my house which is only a mile or so from home I'd had enough and told him he wasn't coming in my home. I would bring his clothes out to him and drop him off somewhere else, away from my home. My husband seeing how agitated he was came with me to help keep the peace and watch out for my safety. He asked to be dropped off at a fleabag motel but when we got there he said he couldn't rent a room without his id which had been stolen. I told him I wouldn't use my id but I'd come in and explain the situation with him. As soon as we walked in the desk clerk said he wouldn't rent to him because he had been too much trouble there before. difficult child asked to use my phone to call another motel and got the same result, they wouldn't rent him a room. I then told him he needed to get out it was 8:30 and I had a 12 year old at home that needed us with him. difficult child started the verbal abuse and threatening to call my work ( I work in a school) and tell them I had mental issues and was abusive. He also threatened to call the hospital and police and tell them the same. We had driven to his friends house at this point so my husband and I had enough abuse and we stopped and told him to get out and put his belongings on the sidewalk and drove away. So tonight about 7:00 pm I get a phone call and it was him saying he needed driven to the hospital because the boyfriend of the person he stayed with last night had beat him up and destroyed his belongings and thrown him out on the street. I asked him where he was calling from and why he didn't call the police and or an ambulance. He said he had walked to subway and he didn't want any more trouble as the. Oh friend and 3 of his buddies had jumped him. Now here is the part that I'm not sure if I did the right thing but I knew after last night I didn't have it in me to deal with him again. I told him if we was really injured and in need of treatment to call the police and emergency EMTs and I hung up. I am now suffering huge pangs go guilt and what ifs. What if he is truly severely injured, where can he go, what if he dies on the street because I didn't help when I could have. I just need some peace, but now I'm in for a long night of thinking the worst.

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I feel like I can't take any more of this without losing my own sanity. My husband says that if difficult child was visibly injured in subway and asked for help that someone would help call for help. I'm struggling with detachment vs helping. But also with weighing the cost of my sanity against his well being. I don't think I did justice in my post of how horrible, frightening and exhausting it was dealing with difficult child yesterday. I am not excusing my lack of help tonight but I feel like my own sanity is in question if I would have had to handle any more screaming and threatening behavior today. And since I refused to get him a phone I will be forced to worry until he contacts me. now I am second guessing my every decision.

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Well-Known Member
Welcome to our little corner of the universe but so sorry you had to find us.

It sounds like you have really been through the mill. I dont think there is any more you can do. You cant save your son forever. He has to start taking care of himself. I know you cant help but worry. It is built into our genes.

Does your son get disability? It sounds like he probably should. That might help with some problems. It doesnt make everything perfect though.

Others will be along with their advice. I just wanted to welcome you and let you know you are not alone.


Well-Known Member
If you can get your son on food stamps he can get one of those free phones. They only get 250 minutes and texts a month however you can pay twenty bucks a month for unlimited minutes a month. The phone they get isnt a fancy smart phone so they cant do things like play games on them or watch tv. Also people dont want to buy those


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Staff member
JKW you don't ever have to justify your actions around here. I think you did the only healthy thing you could do, there is only so much of this insane behavior that we can really take. At 33 years old your son is a man, he can get himself on medications, he can get help for himself, but like most of our kids, they prefer the dramatic, traumatic, insane, dangerous lifestyle, the same one which turns our hair grey overnight. You did everything you could and more, you've done enough, Let it go now.

There is no reason to feel guilty, you can let that go too. You've done all you could, there is nothing else you could have done that is a healthy choice. Put it all aside for this evening and take care of YOU now. Tomorrow make yourself the priority, do kind and nurturing things for yourself, just for tonight and tomorrow. Put difficult child aside, make you the focus. Then the day after tomorrow make the same choice once again, each day, make the choice to make yourself the priority, make yourself the focus, do something kind and nourishing for yourself every single day.

Don't answer the phone for a day or two or a week. Don't respond. Make boundaries around his behavior. In particular if he is abusive to you, which he is, hang up or get away from him. You do not deserve that. Don't allow him to treat you with anything but respect. Put boundaries around yourself and your property. He is way too old to be acting like such an ass. Don't allow it.

Take deep breaths and exhale the guilt. Stick to your guns about the phone. Learn how to let go. Don't second guess yourself, you did the right thing. Take care of YOU now. Sending you warm wishes and hugs for your wounded heart..........


Well-Known Member
What could you do by driving him that the paramedics couldn't?

I have a 36 year old difficult child, but he is more episodic. He hasn't been home or gotten money from us for years and he can't live with us again. We want peaceful golden years, not caring for a man like he is still a child. Fortunately for us, he lives two states away and is basically being responsible these days. I do give him emotional support and, of course, my love, but no money and he can be scary so he can't ever live with us again, no matter what.

Your son is nearing middle age and you taught him all he needs to know way before this. I'm sure you did not teach him to hang with druggies and be disrespectful of the law and yourself, but he chose to take your advice and discard it. There is nothing more you can or in my opinion should do for him. It hasn't changed him yet. He doesn't need a "mommy" at his age. He needs to grow up and I feel they don't when we still play the mommy role. They never learn that their behavior and consequences are because of themselves and on them. Your son made a poor choice with that homeless man. It isn't his first bad choice. He keeps making them then expects you to rescue him, which you have done in the past. Also, our adult children in the streets and on drugs do not tell us the real truth. They tell us what they know will soften us up so we'[ll give them things, usually money, which is often not spent the way we want it to be spend and often money we can not afford to give them for our own well being. In the end, nothing changes

Your son has the mindset of most difficult child's, very childish and sometimes filled with "I'm going to get those who cheat me" forgetting their role in these mishaps. Proof of your middle age son's mindset is that he wants YOU to drive around to find this man who he claims stole from him...for what? To beat him up? He isn't going to involve the cops. You can not trust any stories your son tells you while he is on drugs. Not that he was stolen from. Not that he is looking for work. Nothing. My daughter told me, after she quit drugs, "Never trust a drug addict. All they do is lie." I believe her. She was like that when she used drugs.

Your son is probably breaking the law too. He may get money by selling drugs. My daughter claims that if you use, you sell. At any rate, I have volunteered at places that let people come in and take free clothing and other needs, including some food, which is not really hard to find even if you are homeless. I also volunteered at a homeless shelter. As long as you followed their rules you got a yummy church lady's home cooked meal and a place to sleep. Many of our difficult children don't go because they don't want to follow the rules so they are cold and may skip a chance at a good meal, but there are many resources for food.

Until your son decides to get sober, and he has to do this on his own because you can not influence that, he will not have money or a job or a stable life. That goes with taking drugs. If he has other mental health issues, they will get worse while he takes the drugs. And you have 0% control over that, which is scary...but it's true. You have 100% control over your own life and your reactions to your abusive son. He IS abusing youk. Would you listen to lies and abuse about his childhood and how awful you are if they weren't coming from your disturbed, manipulative son? Of course not. What he says about you isn't true and is best discarded and not fueled by a response. The more you respond to it, the more he will do it. I have told 36 that, "If you are not respectful to me when we speak...if you so much as raise your voice or ask for anything" then I will gently hang up." I have. Things are much calmer over the phone now. He either has to abide by the boundaries or I will hang up and not answer for several days. If he threatens suicide, I hang up instantly and call 911. The threats have ceased. He wanted MY attention, not the paramedics. If he had a Facebook, I wouldn't read it when he was angry. I'm not sure I'd pay for a cell phone. Kids on the streets find ways to get in touch with us when they want something...there is always the library for email. I can't say because, unlike some difficult children, he does pay his own bills most of the time. And we never pay them. Sometimes his father does. We are divorced.

Have you ever gone to a twelve step meeting or found a therapist just for you, to help you cope with your son's dysfunction while also living a good life yourself? It can be done. It often is a work in process, but you have been doing this long enough, in my opinion, and your son isn't any better off for it. Do you have other loved ones who need you to be a healthy and stress-free you? Have you thought about the fact t hat you are important and deserve peace and serenity, even if your grown son is not choosing it for himself? Therapy and Twelve Step is in my opinion the way to go.

Do you want to be eighty years old and still chasing around with your sixty year old son, still playing into his drama, wasting all those years?

Some parents choose to do this.

Most of us here on the forum have chosen to detach with love and have a good life. We can help you with that. We can not help you fix your son. Nor can you fix him.

Hugs for your hurting heart.
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one day at a time
God bless you, JCW. What an incredible day you had. It sounds awful. And you know what, in between the lines, I can hear and read that you are so ready to be done with all of this insanity. You are so sick and tired.

Your son is 33 years old. If not now, then when?

Truly, really. You have done and done and done, and he is still doing exactly what he wants to do.

We all do exactly what we want to do. I firmly believe that.

Your son is continuing to make choices not to take his medication and do what the medical professionals recommend for the disease that he has. Until he is completely sick and tired of living the life he is living, he will keep on doing what he is doing.

There is not one single thing you can do to speed his bottom up.

The drama was very high, and I am hoping that through all of the events that you describe, not only are you reaching a new bottom yourself, resulting in a foundational desire to work very hard to let go of him, work on yourself, and learn even more about stopping enabling, practicing detachment with love and accepting reality---what is---but that he is moving toward a true bottom for himself.

You are absolutely entitled to live your own life. I am sure you love your son very much, but the Mommy days are over. It's time for him to live his own life on his own terms and via his own resources, whatever those are.

Yes, there will be new things that cause you to question all of this, and at times, you may want and need to step in again.

In my endless quest to manage my difficult child and prepare myself for all kinds of horrors (so I could control it, of course), I have played many, many movies in my mind. He's sick. He's hurt. He contracts a chronic disease that is curable or incurable. He contracts an acute disease that is curable or incurable. He gets someone pregnant. He gets married. He leaves the town/city/state/country legally or illegally. I don't know where he is. I don't hear from him for a day/a week/a month/a year/the rest of my life. He dies. He dies alone. He dies a horrible death. He lies somewhere hurt for days/weeks/months.

On and on and on. I tortured myself with these thoughts and fears. I'm sure most of us on this board have done the same.

Some/part/any/all of this may happen. Some of it has happened, when he got stabbed almost 10 days ago. Now what do I do? What is the right thing to do? What is the only thing to do? What would God want me to do? What would counselors/psychiatrists/psychologists/addiction specialists say to do?

On and on and on.

We torture ourselves obsessively, endlessly with our fears and our need to project and figure out and prepare for the future.

But we can't. It is impossible.

The only thing we can really do, is to decide what we will do---just for today. The day after he was stabbed, I decided I could not turn my back right now. I had to provide shelter and food for a while. I tried to keep it simple. Not to get all twisted up with lots of details, requirements and logistics. It's hard.

I'll do _______ only if he does _________. I can play that game too.

Today, now, soon it will be time to decide how to stop the help I have been giving. I have no idea how to do it and what it will look like. I am working hard, to live just for today. To decide what I can and will do, for today.

We are here for you. You have every right to decide what you will do with your own life, no matter what ANYBODY else in the world thinks. Only you know your own limits. This is about you right now, not him.

When you are flooded with emotion, try hard not to act. Try hard not to do one single thing, for a while, for a few hours or even a day or two. Just let the flood come, feel it, and then, it will subside. Then you can think about what you will do and what you will not do, just for today.

Keep sharing. We get it. We also respect every adult's right to do exactly what he or she thinks is best for them, and then, to change her/his mind at any point. That is the adult prerogative we have.

Praying for you and your son today.


Thanks to all who have read, posted and prayed. It means so much to be heard. Hopefully I am a little more coherent today. Yesterday I was so overwhelmed by stress and emotion, it was difficult to write a coherent sentence. I appreciate the support, advice and comfort offered. As I have started pulling back and trying to put my own well being first, the behavior of difficult child seems to be increasingly worsening. I know that he will continue to escalate and that the mental illness and addiction will only get worse the longer they both go untreated. What I continue to struggle with, even with the support of counseling and a 12 step program is how to remain loving toward my son, without enabling. The sad thing is I can see the truth, which is he is not a person who I would ever associate with if he was not my son. He is definitely not the person he was raised to be, and over the last year has changed into some who is unrecognizable. Sometimes I want nothing more than to walk away from his drama (and him) forever and never look back. I know he lies constantly and I am unable to really trust anything he tells me. I'm sure he is getting money illegally by stealing and probably selling drugs. It makes me sick to think of that but it is a very strong possibility. He doesn't work (is too manic and unpredictable to be employable). He refuses to follow through with applying for disability even though I am pretty sure he would qualify, so his money has to be coming from somewhere. I can see the cold hard facts and still I struggle with the fact that I have 2 sons who are lost to me and are living a life I find incomprehensible. It was my middle son's 31st birthday yesterday on top of everything else going on with difficult child 33. My middle difficult child son has been a difficult child since 7 and has caused so much heartache that there isn't enough time or room to explain it all. He is an addict who last year decided to burglarize our home while we were on vacation, steal our identities , rack up thousands of fraudulent credit card charges, tried to obtain a duplicate copy of my husbands drivers license which caused us an incredible amount of stress trying to clean up the mess and ended up costing us over $25,000 last year. I haven't seen or heard from him since I confronted him in jail last October (he was in for an unrelated drug charge even though I tried to prosecute for his crime against us the detective said there wasn't enough evidence. So yesterday was just TOO MUCH for me to handle I guess. We all have a stress breaking point and I guess mine was yesterday. I think I didn't want to face the fact that I have another son who is lost to me and that is why I have enabled and fought against walking away from him too. Thanks for being a place where I can unload some of this without feeling judged as parent who has massively failed two of her 3 children. I just don't have many people in my life that understand what I am dealing with or have any experience in common. You all are such a godsend!

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Well-Known Member
JCW, I am so sorry for the horrible time you have had. It sounds like you have done enough, more than enough, many many many times over. It sounds like you have been a loving, dutiful mother who has tried to help your sons remedy some bad choices they have made. They are grown men now, and their bad choices are theirs alone.


Well-Known Member
JCW -- I can relate soooo relate. We've had to do similar. The injury story would be particularly difficult, indeed. Haven't had to do that one yet (knock wood). But I have had to boot him out of my car when he was raging, threatening and homeless.....and it was snowing outside. That one was tough! And I felt all the same feelings you expressed.

But I have to agree with what many have expressed will, most likely, sadly, continue. At age 33 there's a pretty clear pattern here. If he were THAT bad, someone else would most likely call paramedics for him (even without his permission).

Let me just validate you literally here.... Not only your feelings, but your actions. You have repeatedly shown up, helped, strategized, fed, clothed, prayed for, cared for, etc. And it sounds like you've done it very well! From what I read, you've done a fantastic job of doing what you can.

Sometimes the sad truth is that not much can be done --- especially if they don't want to change. So hard on mothers' hearts! But reality is reality.

Our difficult child just will NOT give up what he perceives as his freedom. Sadly, he perpetuates his own "life prison" as it limits his life severely -- both in quality and quantity. I don't know your difficult child, so don't wish to speak out of turn. But his story just sounds entirely too familiar.

Lastly, it's monumentally sad that our difficult child's either don't have sanity (whatever the reasons -- medically or voluntarily). But we can choose to preserve what we have of our sanity. And though it will always hurt, I believe much healing can still be found.

We support you!


Your story could have been written by me. My 33 year old son is bipolar and an addict. I have been through just about all you described and more. He does get disability but claims he is dropping it because he does not trust the government. He now is homeless 3700 miles away. I have not heard from him in over a week. Last call was collect as he says his phone is broken. He will not go to a shelter. Tonight I go to bed as I have for the last couple of years not knowing where he is. Is he ok, in jail or hospital. I go crazy when I don't hear from him, yet can't take it when he does call. He is very abusive. He is my only child. Keep writing. It helps all of us and there are a lot of caring people with good advice here. Bless you.



Wow, so much wisdom and support here. I am so thankful to each and everyone of you that took the time to respond to my post. It is truly amazing to me that even though you are each going through trials and tribulations of your own, you have taken time from your life to help and support me.

I am praying for all the mothers and children on this site tonight and wishing all of you comfort and happiness in the days to come.

I prayed and study my literature today and got into a better state of mind. With a little time and distance it is easier to breathe and let go and let God.

I ran across this quote today and found it very helpful to me, I hope others may find it inspiring too.

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet.”

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