Fell off the wagon big time

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Payla, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. Payla

    Payla New Member

    I posted here back in July I think. I had a tough summer "detaching" from my 33 year old son. I have enabled him for years and he is barely working if at all, just failing as an adult in a major way. It is like ground hog day talking to him, which I do A LOT less than I ever did before. He really ramped up the harassment back in the summer and we got into all kinds of extreme measures, including a no trespassing order. He was full on panic because he was facing homelessness. He ended up staying at various places and his grandparents and the harassment subsided. I was in therapy and got a new cell phone number and got my peace back on weekends. He began calling me at work for gas money etc... and I would usually give in, but ended up getting a restraining order. He calls me anyway now, because I dont have the heart to report him; he will possibly get charged with a felony that will go away in 3 months if he stays out of trouble and this I just cant do. ( possession of trace amountof cocaine) I think if he started the crazy stuff again I would have no problem doing it, but a call or two a week has not gotten me to that point. BUT.... I have fallen back into giving him gas money, rent help, etc... I always believe him when he says how close he is to a job, etc... He has major ADD and man he is handicapped from it. Winter is coming and I dread it. I know I need to detach, and I have to some extent. I just need to find the courage to watch him be homeless in the winter possibly, and I dont have it. I always believe and still do, that he may figure out some kind of life for himself with just "one more bit of help from me" Just had to vent. I feel like I failed at something I worked very hard at for a long time in terms of not detaching yet.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Payla, it's a good idea to stop beating yourself up about this. Detachment is a process, up,down, sideways and every other possible way. We go forward, we go backward and each step is very hard, of course you would be torn and feel all the feelings you are feeling, most of us do........perhaps the most important step most of us recognize is we need support to do this, it's very hard to do alone without someone or a group of someones helping you each step of the way. Detaching from our kids in this way goes against too much of our parenting instincts to be able to do this effectively without some kind of support. However, if you keep enabling him, he will stay stuck. Until he has to face the natural consequences of his behavior, he will continue depending upon you for his needs to be met. You've done a good job thus far, so concentrate on the positive steps you've taken which are wonderful. It takes a lot of courage to do what you've done already.

    He may be homeless, that's true, but it also may be his opportunity to WAKE UP and do something for himself. In enabling him you actually rob him of the possibility of finding his own way. I learned in my codependency group that although it feels as if we are helping them for them, in reality we are helping them to avoid the bad feelings we have when we don't help them and all the worry we go through about them. That's a hard pill to swallow I know. I would encourage you to find a lot of support for yourself to get through this, find a therapist, a counselor, a spiritual adviser, a support group, a 12 step group, someplace you can go for YOU. Focus on you now, that's the way to get through this, take the focus off of him and put it on yourself. I know it's hard. Sending you warm wishes for peace and comfort as you travel these challenging paths.
  3. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Thank you so much!!! I was hoping you would reply; your posts helped me so mcuh back in August. I need to put the focus back on this effort for sure! Thanks again.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he is truly disabled, can he not apply for disability and get help from the government rather than you?
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Payla, I just read MWM's response and I thought of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, (you can access their website online). They have chapters all over and offer not only support groups for parents but many different avenues of support for your son. My difficult child has PTSD and serious anxiety issues and I hooked her up with a satellite org. of NAMI here in No.Ca. which was pretty amazing. Because she is an adult, with literally nothing, she qualifies for all their help. Once I helped her to get hooked up with them, it was way easier for me to detach because I honestly felt I had done everything I could, including getting her connected to this org. and after that, it seemed obvious, even to me, that the rest was up to her. Your son may or may not qualify for their help,but it may be worth a phone call or some inquiry on your part to help him get independent. The org. here offered help with housing, food stamps, medicare, medications, therapy, jobs, education, support in getting them disability or social security benefits, it was amazing. I met the psychiatrist my difficult child met with and I was impressed with him. Of course, once I detached, it remains to be seen whether my difficult child actually availed herself to all of that help. She did find a place to live, thankfully, I don't know any other information at this point. Your son has to want that help too, I don't know if he would follow up, you likely have an idea if it would be worth it or not, you know him. In any case, hang in there, take it one step at a time and take care of YOU. (((HUGS)))
  6. elizabrary

    elizabrary Member

    I've had very similar struggles. It's a daily battle, with some days easier than others. When I feel like I will cave I just don't have contact with-my difficult child. She can call and I won't answer the phone, etc. Sometimes that ramps her up and she calls and screams, curses, etc. Then I just shut off the phone totally. We all have varying degrees of detachment success at various times. Just remember tomorrow is a new day and you can try again! Nobody's perfect and these "kids' would drive the strongest person to the brink of madness. It's amazing any of us are as sane and together as we are!
  7. susieqlandry

    susieqlandry New Member

    Payla I'm so sad for you I too have the give, give, give syndrome through the help of this forum I am going to seek the help I need for once and try to toughen up. Your heart is with your son it's understandable it hurts to say no and live with that decission. He's your son you love him like nothing else in the world but as i live in this situation too I do know it's wrong the behavior is wrong. Until our children learn to consider our feelings we are doing them no good by being there everytime they need something. Please follow the posting advice help yourself so you then can help him better. my thoughts and my prayers are with you both.
  8. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Thank you to all who replied it truly does give you strength to share wit others in similar situations. Can someone tell me what all of the acronyms mean when referring to family members?
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If he is doing cocaine.....your gas money is buying it. Trust me. Stop enabling him!
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    [h=2]Board Abbreviations/Acronyms[/h]

    Most Frequently Used Acronyms on the Board:
    * difficult child is your Difficult Child

    * easy child is (are) your Perfect Child(ren)

    * husband is your Dear Husband

    * wife is your Dear Wife

    * SO is your Significant Other

    * mother in law is your Mother-in-Law

    * father in law is your Father-in-law

    * brother in law is your Brother-in-law

    * sister in law is your Sister-in-law

    * DEX is a Dear EX

    * PP are Perfect Parents who make you nuts because they are always bragging about their wonderful lives, children.

    * Warrior Mom- What most of us are.

    * Warrior Dad- What the others of us are.

    * HMJ Hot Mama Juice-given to us by Wildflowers son- Any liquid beverage that gets you through the day. Liquor is optional.

    * Rhino skin- Stars gift to the board. It's a snappy and stylish little suit you wear to keep yourself from being thin skinned.

    * Rattle Beads Light a candle, Say a prayer, Cross everything - The universal, non-denominational cry for positive thoughts.

    * thank you is Thank You

    * in my opinion is In My Opinion

    * in my humble opinion is In My Humble Opinion

    * been there done that is Been There Done That

    * LOL is Laughing Out Loud

    * ROFL is Rolling On Floor Laughing

    * ROFLMAO is ROFL My A** Off

    * by the way is By The Way

    * NFM is No Further Message

    * O/T or Occupational Therapist (OT) is Off Topic (non-difficult child)

    * Residential Treatment Center (RTC)/Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) is Residential Treatment Center/Facility

    * UP is used in a reply when a post has slipped down the page with few replies. By typing "up" in a reply, the post will go to the top of the page again.


    Department of Juvenile Justice - Department of Juvenile Justice

    within normal limits -within normal limits

    not otherwise specified -not otherwise specified

    SD -school district

    P-DR -psychiatrist(M.D)

    rule out -rule out


    ADD/ADHD ~~ Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder: individuals who have short attention spans because of their inability to concentrate. These individuals also exhibit impulsive actions.

    AGORAPHOBIA-an internal anxiety condition that has become so intense that the suffering individual fears going anywhere or doing anything where these feelings of panic have repeatedly occurred before.

    ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER-This disorder is characterized by a long-standing disregard of other people's rights, often crossing the line and violating those rights.

    ANXIETY ~~ fears that are persistent, overwhelming, and interfere with daily life.

    AS ~~ Asperger's Syndrome: is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by severe and sustaining impairment of social interaction, development of restricted and receptive patterns of behavior, interest or activities. These characteristics result in clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

    AUTISM ~~ difficulties in verbal & nonverbal communication, social interaction and leisure activities. The disorder makes it hard for them to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases aggressive or self-injurious behaviors may present.

    Borderline (BPD) ~~ Borderline Personality Disorder: a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affect with marked impulsivity beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.

    Childhood Onset Bipolar Disorder (COBP) ~~ Childhood Onset Bipolar Disorder (Manic/Depression): is a serious but treatable brain disorder characterized by extreme changes in mood, energy and behavior. Symptoms can present in early childhood, adolescence or adulthood.

    CD ~~ Conduct Disorder: a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated.

    DAMP ~~ Deficits in Attention, Motor control and Perception: is differentiated from ADHD by deficits in motor control and perception. It is a narrower diagnosis than ADD.

    DEPRESSION ~~ involves body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself and the way one thinks about things. It is not the same as the passing blues.

    MAJOR DEPRESSION/CLINICAL DEPRESSION: combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, eat, sleep and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such disabling episodes may occur once or more commonly several times in a lifetime.

    DYSTHYMIA: long-term symptoms of depression that do not disable but prevent one from feeling good or functioning well.

    EXECUTIVE FUNCTION DISORDER~~ term used where an affected individual has a problem executing tasks that require order and preparation. That is a function that requires organizational abilities, timing, sequencing, diligence, and attention.

    Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)/Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) ~~ Fetal Alcohol Effect/Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: a known or strongly suspected history of maternal use of alcohol....any amount of alcohol is damaging. Characterized by premature birth, low birth weight (remaining small until puberty), distinctive pattern of facial abnormalities (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)) or not (Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)), some degree of brain damage.

    GID ~~ Gender Identity Disorder: a deviation from the normal pattern of exploring masculine and feminine behaviors. They develop an inflexible, compulsive, persistent and stereotypical pattern.

    Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) ~~ Intermittent Explosive Disorder: characterized by episodes of failure to resist aggressive impulses resulting in serious assaults or destruction of property.

    Learning Disability (LD) ~~ Learning Disabilities: people of generally average to above-average intelligence with-great discrepancies between their abilities and specific areas of difficulty, i.e., reasoning, speaking, writing, reading and math.

    NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) ~~ NonVerbal Learning Disorder: reveals itself in impaired abilities to organize the visual-spacial field, adapt to new or novel situations and/or accurately read nonverbal signals.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ~~ Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: excessive worries, doubts, beliefs or superstitions.

    ODD ~~ Oppositional Defiance Disorder: persistent disobedience and opposition to authority to figures such as parents, teachers or other adults. However, the basic rights of others are still respected and age-appropriate societal rules and behaviors are not violated. Characterized by negative, hostile and defiant behaviors, generally strongest in the home. Before puberty the disorder is more frequently found in males, after puberty the ratio equals out.

    PANDAS ~~ Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder: Associated with-Streptococcal infections...describes a subgroup of children who have either a tic disorder (such as Tourette's) or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and whose tics, obsessions and/or compulsions typically worsen dramatically following strep infections or children who have no prior history who suddenly explode in symptoms after a group A strep infection.

    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) ~~ Pervasive Developmental Disorder: usually evident by age three (3). In general, children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) have difficulty in talking, playing with other children, and relating to others, including family. Characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development ~~ social interaction skills, communication skills, presence of stereotypical behaviors, interests and activities.

    PTSD ~~ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: enduring consequences of traumatic experiences.

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) ~~ Reactive Attachment Disorder: the inability of a child to attach to a primary caregiver and go through the normal development that children go through in order to function in a relationship.

    SCHOOL PHOBIA~~ irrational, persistent fear of going to school...afflicts about 1% of all students at some point in there academic career.

    SCHIZOPHRENIA ~~ affects men and women in equal numbers. Is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech/thinking, catatonia and negative symptoms (social withdrawal, absence of emotion and expression, reduced energy, motivation and activity).

    SCHIZOAFFECTIVE DISORDER~~ Schizoaffective disorder is an illness in which there are both severe mood swings (mania and/or depression), and some of the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Most of the time mania or depression mix with psychotic symptoms, but there must be at least one two-week period in which there are only psychotic symptoms without any symptoms of mania or depression.

    SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER-Medical research reveals seasonal affective disorder, the winter blues, and winter worsening are caused by the decreased exposure to sunlight. During the fall and winter months, less light passes through the eyes which inhibits the release of an important brain chemical, serotonin.

    SEPARATION ANXIETY~~ developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those with whom the individual is attached.

    Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) ~~ Sensory Integration Disorder: the inability of the brain to correctly process information brought in by the brain.

    Tourette's Syndrome ~~ Tourette's Syndrome: neurological disorder characterized by tics ~~ involuntary rapid, sudden movements or vocalizations that occur repeatedly in the same way.

    by Suz​

  11. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Here is a question for all parents going through effort to detach from an adult child: one of tenets of detachment is to not do for someone something they can do for themselves. If mental illness is a factor and they can't do for themselves because of mental illness, are we supposed to detach anyway? This seems really really hard to figure out and somehow a bit wrong.
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes, I agree that it is hard to figure out and it does seem wrong. I can only speak from my own experience and also to what I've read here or listened to in my support group. My difficult child has some severe issues which she has not been willing to acknowledge nor get help for. I have done everything for her and I've done all I know how to do to get her help. After years of that,......... the suffering, disappointment, resentments, angers, sorrow, grief, guilt, all of it.........for me, even though my difficult child has mental issues, I recognized that she has to decide to help herself and I had to stop enabling her. I've read on this site where folks with bi-polar, borderline personality disorder, depression, some pretty severe mental issues have said, "mental illness doesn't give you a pass on personal responsibility."

    I think many of us here struggle with that question. And, we all have to examine within ourselves, what we can live with, what we are willing to do, what we are not willing to do, and to get very clear about that. It takes time, it takes a lot of self searching, it takes love and patience and in my opinion, a lot of support. I sought answers to that question in as many places as I could. In my therapy support group there are a number of us who have adult kids who are mentally ill. It's a heart-breaker for sure. As one woman in my support group earnestly said to the group. "do I take care of my adult son (who is mentally ill) for the rest of my life and give up my life?" I don't know the answer to that for her. I only know what I went through and the choices I made. She's on her own journey of detachment.

    The hardest thing I've ever done, without exception, was to detach from my only child. Nothing ever caused me that much pain. But, over time, I had to look at what her presence, her drama, her world of insanity was doing to me, to my SO, to my granddaughter, to all of us. At what cost do you succumb to the relentless call of the mentally ill? I had to keep asking myself that question. It was slowly draining my life force.

    I read many books, put myself into therapy, attended lots of groups, especially groups which addressed this very thing, where other parents of adult kids were dealing with their various levels of mental illness. I could see and hear the devastation in the parents voices and faces. Each of us made different decisions, there is no right or wrong here. You have to follow your heart, set your own boundaries, live your life with the choices you make. So do I. So does everyone here.

    My brother is a paranoid schizophrenic, my sister is bi-polar with a series of other mental issues, my niece was so violent and did so much damage to my other sister and her other children she had to distance herself from her own child to save her other children. I've lived in this world my whole life and I can tell you there are no answers, no brilliant solutions brought to you by experts or Doctors or anyone. It all rests on you and what you can deal with, what you can live with, what you're willing to do and what you are not willing to do. And once you make those choices, then you have to live with them.

    I think that's why detachment and acceptance takes us so long to wade through, we have to address all of these really hard questions; we have to look deep inside ourselves and ponder very difficult issues. When you're faced with something like a mentally ill adult child, when do you let them go into their own life when they continually make bad choices? What is the distinction between love and enabling when your child is mentally ill? When is the right moment to let go? What if they go to jail? Should you try to gain legal control of their lives to protect them? Do you set them up financially? Do you allow them to live in your home? Do you pick up the pieces of their lives when they make those bad choices? If they refuse medication and continue to act out, do you then continue picking up the pieces of their lives when they have made a choice to stay in the mental state they're in? Are they really responsible for themselves when their brains don't work like yours and mine do? Do you maintain contact when all contact is disrespectful, damaging and perhaps dangerous to you? Do you continue to forgive and enable when they steal and lie and manipulate? These are the questions and many, many more which come up for most of us.

    When you say, "they can't do for themselves" I think you have to define what it means that someone can't do for themselves. Is it bad choices, or are they in a psychotic state where they are perhaps hearing voices and incapable of coherent thinking? There is a vast distance between those two poles and each would require a different outlook and solution and a different detachment path.

    Another issue I think is important to acknowledge is what level of possible codependency on the part of the parent might play an important role in keeping a negative connection thriving. I had to look at that within myself, take apart some old beliefs that no longer worked and heal parts of me that had nothing to do with my difficult child, but were ways I kept the unhealthy connection with her in place. As I began understanding my own issues, not only did my relationship with my difficult child change, but I was simply not willing to put up with the way she treated me, regardless of mental illness, I deserved better than that. I learned how to set strict boundaries around her behavior.

    It was complicated and required me to really show up and address many hard issue about myself, my own needs and desires and what love, parenting, letting go, acceptance, judgment, control, being 'right', forgiveness and autonomy all meant to me. It's certainly a journey not one of us would choose, it's filled with many mine fields which blow up when you least expect them to and it hurts like the dickens too.

    BUT, you can get to the other side, you really can. And, then you can breathe once again. The choices are behind you, the most difficult stuff has been decided and you move on and live..............and occasionally fall down...................and go forward again.............and find your own life.
  13. Payla

    Payla New Member

    thank you. You said it so incredibly well. I appreciate the time you take in your posts. I will retread several times.
  14. Payla

    Payla New Member

    I listened to too many voicemails at work yesterday and today, and was almost sucked back into the madness. I feel pretty bad and nervous about what is going to happen. My son is so disfunctional, living with drug addicts, may be one himself again, and calls me asking how to get out of his situation, he is desperate, etc... I have enough detachment to not be as upset as I was in past, and I do not want to rescue him. But Im so tired of it all and afraid of facing a winter in this small town with him spiraling downward to who knows what. At least I did one thing for detachment today: I put a cloth over my phone screen at work so I can't see his voice mails or calls coming in. (i turned ringer off months ago. ) My plan is to report him if the desperation causes him to ramp up the calls. (we have a restraining order.) This is surreal. I new he was irresponsible and immature but it has gone to a whole other level. I may have a son who is homeless. A lot to absorb and deal with while working and carrying on!
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know how you feel. If it feels right, you could get a list of the local homeless shelters and send him the list, if you haven't done that already. And National Alliance on Mental Illness www.nami.org., they have a listing on their site for the homeless. Our local Social Services has emergency housing for the homeless, plus food stamps and medical insurance. He has to apply and show up. My difficult child took years to make one appointment, so I don't know how much initiative your son has.

    Or, you can simply stop responding and let him find his own way. You may be at that point and then it would be imperative to let go now. As many parents have realized, our difficult child's are remarkably resourceful when we stop enabling them. I'm sorry Payla, I know how hard it is. As long as he believes you'll respond, he will keep trying, so perhaps the best bet is to stop responding and let him find his own way. ((HUGS)))
  16. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Thank you Recovering. Small steps... it does feel right today to not respond. He told me things a mother should not know about her adult children. That is my fault for listening to it and I and am not going to listen to it anymore. I don't deserve that.
  17. Payla

    Payla New Member

    How do you get your profile on your posts?
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Look up to the upper right corner to where it says settings. Click on it. When you get in, look on the left to find signature, click on it and then fill it in. It will appear at the bottom of all your posts.

    Heading out the door from my office now, will be out of touch for awhile, back later.................by the way, you're doing a great job!
  19. Payla

    Payla New Member

    I am ignoring calls and voice mails at the number my son calls me at (work). Pretty bad night laying awake wondering what will become of him. I am praying for strength!
  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I so know how you feel, I spent many a sleepless night worrying about my daughter too. The serenity prayer helps. You're doing a great job of detaching, hang in there. It does get better, really! I sleep through the night now and hardly ever spend nights worrying. It gets easier every day until one day your life is the main focus, not your difficult child's. (((hugs)))