Fighting the Guilt Demons

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JKF, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Hi friends. It's been a while. Things have been relatively quite in Difficult Child land. He's been bouncing back and forth between the shelter, streets, and a shared room since he was kicked out of his paid for room back in May.

    Anyway, he called me Sunday to let me know he'd been admitted to the hospital Saturday night. He was having chest pains and couldn't breathe so he called 911. Apparently he has been diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy which is "a disease in which the heart muscle becomes weakened, stretched, or has another structural problem. It often occurs when the heart cannot pump or function well." They don't know why this happened but it could be for a number of reasons including genetic (my mother had this as well), lifestyle, viral, drug use, or alcohol use.

    I haven't gone to see him (insert guilt demon here) but I have talked to him on the phone numerous times. I asked if he'd allow me to talk to his doctor and supposedly he is signing a release today. They are keeping him until at least Thursday or Friday but I don't know what he'll do after that. He's once again been banned to receive shelter from the two shelters in this county and he's also been banned for qualifying for room and board by the Office of Temporary Assistance. This is because he 100% refuses to follow any rules every time housing is set up for him. He has had at least 5 opportunities in the last 5 months to get it together and numerous opportunities before that. He'll do well at first but always reverts back to his old behaviors (and worse) as soon as he's "settled in".

    Last night while talking to him he started to hint around about needing a place to stay so he can recover. I knew exactly where this was leading and I tried to steer it away but that didn't work. He wants to come stay here. That can never happen. Never. We can't live a normal functioning life if he's here. One of us would have to quit our jobs to stay home with an almost 21 year old (he'll be 21 next wed) to ensure that he didn't rob us blind and use our house as a party house for his friends while we work. We would have to watch him at all times to make sure he doesn't steal while we shower, or go to the bathroom, or step outside to water the garden. We'd have to start sleeping with our doors locked because he becomes psychotic when he's manic. We can not and will not do that. Been there done that MANY times and it's never happening again.

    However, that's easier said then done. I am finding myself struggling with guilt big time especially since he has a legitimate sickness that could lead to death if he doesn't start taking care of himself. So what am I to do? I am at a loss. I'm thinking of contacting the hospital social worker and seeing if they have a discharge plan for homeless people in similar situations. I read online that sometimes the hospital will house them somewhere until they heal. I told Difficult Child last night and he said he didn't want to ask because it's a "waste of his time". I said "Waste of your time?? You're sitting in a hospital bed doing NOTHING. How is trying to find help for yourself a waste of time?" I was pretty disgusted at that point and quickly said good bye. That in itself shows me how unmotivated he is to better his life so I'm asking myself why am I going to once again put energy into doing something for him that he could EASILY do himself?

    Ugh! I'm all over the place with this! Just when I think I can cope with Difficult Child's lifestyle here comes yet another situation that I'm unfamiliar with and don't know how to handle.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Sending gentle hugs.
    We never expected to live in Difficult Child land... and it's still a foreign country to us even if we've spent years there.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    So much to think about. He may not want whatever services can be put in place. I think it will go a very long way in ridding yourself of some of the guilt.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  4. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    ugh. This is about as potentially guilt-causing as anything I've heard of. I hope you most definitely call the social worker to find out what can be done when releasing homeless folks. If you do, please let us know what you learn.

    and it still comes down to what your son is willing to do to help himself. That always seems to be the bottom line. He is the one who blew his chance of ever living in your home. If he had shown just a year of turning his ways around, you might be willing to re-consider, but there is no good recent history. (I am reasoning with myself while typing this).

    Stay extra close to the board.

    • Like Like x 3
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
  5. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Well-Known Member

    Your guilt does not help him. It never does. He has made this bed. I keep going back to thinking what he did to your dad. These are the consequences for the life HE has built for himself. It IS sad, but it is his own doing. If you keep rescuing him, he will never ever learn to stand on his own. I am so sorry for your hurting mommy hoovers BIG time!! (((HUGS)))
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  6. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry about this recent turn of events, JKF.

    It's the social worker's job to place him. I would call her to give some background information.

    If he leaves, it's on him. Maybe the seriousness of this new diagnosis will change his attitude.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is a tough place to be. My oldest has a chronic illness and while it's a legitimate, dangerous illness if untreated, I've also seen her milk it for all it's worth, especially when she's flaring and in and out of the hospital. I know first hand how difficult that makes it to maintain boundaries. Not the same as a heart condition at all, but - confusing and guilt-inducing just the same.

    I completely understand and support your decision not to let him stay with you. I agree, call that hospital social worker.

    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  8. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Agh...that just...s+#&*cks!!
    I am with Patriotsgirl..I remember the almost exquisite cruelty with which he treated your dad. Your description of feeling that you would have to be vigilant less he steal from you while you are IN THE SHOWER is very telling.
    Do not let the social worker think for one second that you are responsible for this adult man. In fact I'm not even sure you should contact him/her. Hospitals are not allowed to discharge people 'to the street'. If he needs a monitored setting the social worker will have to keep him till they find him one. If he is more well than that..well..he will have to monitor his own medications. I doubt you could do that for him even if he lived in your home..right? He will eat as he pleases and live as he pleases and take his medications if and when it pleases him. Being at your home won't change that.
    Protect yourself and your husband, JKF. You know the answer. It is hard and sad but true. He can save himself. You cannot save him, but you can drown trying. Please don't do that (I know you aren't contemplating it right now, but I feel the need to say it anyway because this situation is so awful..see my opening sentence.
    You are not his disease and you are not his cure. This is often true of our more typical kids as well as our dcs.
    Ps my spider sense tells me this is drug induced, which is probably the most common cause BY FAR of cardiomyopathy in his demographic.
    Good luck, JKF. We are here with you.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    JKF, ugh. I am so sorry about this. I can so understand your confusion right now.

    I have often thought that the worst thing for me and Difficult Child would be (has been) him getting sick or hurt and then...what is my role?

    Last summer when he got stabbed by the girlfriend we put him up in a motel for a few weeks. Emphasis on motel, not hotel. He had been homeless at the time and he was released from the hospital to wherever...not to my house. Not to his dad's house. They said he had to have antibiotics, etc., and if he didn't and didn't take care of himself he might not regain full use of his arm.

    I was confused. I sat in the car and cried and cried, and then I called his dad (my ex-husband) and we formulated the plan to put him up in the motel---at first we got a "nicer" one and then we ended up getting others for longer periods of time. I think by the time it was said and done, we paid for between three and four weeks for him. Plus got him some food, etc. He didn't have a car, and couldn't ride his bike for a long time, so we got him some bus passes and he walked.

    Then slowly he started riding his bike, and he was back homeless again.

    It was hard to know what to do, but one thing I knew, he couldn't come and stay at my house. It felt harsh at the time and I guess it IS harsh, but it's reality. Reality is what I am trying to deal with, and do it in a kind and honest way.

    I love my son, but....

    I am sorry about your son's diagnosis. I think his comment about resources for himself was very telling. As usual, they want us to pick up their slack.

    Many of us have learned the hard way that if we do...then we have two very dysfunctional situations and people on our hands, instead of one.

    I don't know if it's right or wrong in the final analysis, but I do know that today, I'm 51% and he's 49%. That is a good measure and visual for me to hold on to, perhaps it will help you too.

    People act, and then they have to accept the consequences of their actions.

    Last night my Difficult Child was told that their hours at work are being cut back to 8 hours a day (instead of 10). He texted me and called me multiple times last night talking about getting a new job, i.e., I can't afford to work here anymore. I responded "Okay." Then he wanted to know if I know of any jobs. I said "Tons of companies are hiring." Then he wanted to know who, and did I know anybody, etc. I was going to girls night out and I put my phone up, only to see that he kept on calling and texting. Shades of the past.
    Then he called again last night at 10:30 long after I was in bed, and my phone was charging in the kitchen.

    I haven't called him back or texted him back again. If he wants to find a new job, he can have at it. That's his gig, not mine.

    Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Even when they are doing better, we still have to be vigilant. Ugh.

    Hang in there and keep us posted. We're here for you no matter what you decide to do. Warm hugs.
  10. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Yes and this is what is keeping me from moving forward and "saving" him. We have been through this same thing thousands of times. Well, not with this particular health issue but it's still the same song and dance. It goes a little something like this - Something happens, suddenly it's an emergency, he thinks he's finally "got me" to the point where I'll have to give in, I don't give in but instead offer options on how he can help himself, he says no, says it's a waste of time, gets angry at me, blames me for his life, says hurtful things, I give in and call whoever and try to get him help, I spend hours of my time setting up services, he decides he doesn't want help after all, goes off with his friends to do what he wants, doesn't call unless it's an emergency, and REPEAT!

    You're right. The only thing that has ever slightly helped is me stepping back and forcing him to handle his issues on his own. I'm glad you remember so clearly what he did to my dad because, although I haven't forgotten and never will, time has faded my memory just a wee bit. Thank you for refreshing my memory because that was THE deciding factor that made me step back and out of his life at the time. And he hasn't changed. I'm just not around him enough for it to be a constant reminder.

    Yes - Difficult Child will steal from us even if we are in the same room. I remember one time he pretended he was looking for a pen and took a bunch of gift cards that we were saving. We were right there in the same room with him watching TV. It wasn't until later, when I went to use the gift cards, that we found out he took them. He swore up and down it wasn't him. He would NEVER do that. How DARE we blame him? Another time he waited until we were asleep and stole my husband's debit card out of his wallet, wrote down the number and passed it out to all of his delinquent friends. They spent thousands on video game systems and games. Again, it wasn't him. How could we think that? What kind of parents are we that we would think that about our child? Those are just two minor examples out of the hundreds of times he's done similar things. And it wasn't just us. He stole (still steals) from EVERYONE. Family members, friends, strangers. No one is safe......

    I decided not to call. I left it up to him to tell the dr and social worker if he wants me involved. So far no one has called so I'm figuring he hasn't signed any releases. That's fine. It's his decision.

    Yes Echo.....I definitely know the answer. Thank you so much for gently reminding me.

    COM! I couldn't agree more. Setting boundaries is the only way to go but why is it so darn hard sometimes?!?! lol

    Anyway, all of that being said, I love my son! Very much! And I want more than anything for him to be ok but it's up to him to take care of himself. I can't keep holding his hand and walking him through life and fixing everything for him. Even though he had a big medical scare, he needs to realize that it's still up to him to change his situation. All I can do is offer love and emotional support right now. I enjoy talking to him when he's not cursing me out and blaming me for all of the wrongs in his life. There are times when we get along beautifully and laugh more than we fight and I cherish those times.

    Thank you all for walking me through this latest drama today. I really don't know what I would do without you all!
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  11. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    What are you supposed to do??? Nothing. He is about to turn 21 and is a grown man. Let him take care of it. A legitimate sickness that could lead to death if HE (notice the emphasis here?) doesn't take care of himself. You've said yourself that he WILL steal from you if you let him in your home. You've said yourself that you CAN'T trust him in your home. And while he may have inherited this condition genetically, its fairly obvious from what I've read that HE has caused it to be worse with the lifestyle he chooses to live.

    I'm glad to hear that you didn't call the hospitals social worker. He doesn't need his hand held, he needs to man up and take care of himself. Granted, these facts don't make it suck any less for you but its what you need to do.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    JKF, you've been through the mill with your son as your father has. It is unfortunate he got sick. It is inevitable that all drug using/addicted adults will eventually get sick, and the only people who can stop the illnesses are the afflicted person. He is dangerous to you and to everyone...and he is the one who needs to take care of his condition, which includes stopping the drug abuse.

    Please don't bring him home. If you want to feel better, rent him a cheap motel room for a month only which gives him time to heal and rest. Do not expect him to respect the room and he may get kicked out, but then at least you did the max that you could. I might have done something like that if it had come up.

    That is not going back on your word, if you choose to do it. Just be prepared that he may not last t here without getting tossed. But then you tried. And do not consider it if it will make your finances tight.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  13. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hugs to you JKF. As much as it hurts you have to do what is best for you. There are many people who are alone and have serious illness that they have to deal with all on their own. Your son will also have to learn how to deal with this on his own.
    It's no surprise that he has reached out to you looking for a place to stay. That would make it very easy for him. I'm sorry that he is experiencing this but it's his life, his health and he will need to learn how to manage it. Even if you were to let him come stay in your home at some point he would need to take responsibility for his health and life, you would only be putting off what needs to happen.
    As for talking to a social worker, great idea. I would make it very clear to the social worker that your home is NOT an option.
    You have nothing to feel guilty about. Having him in your home would do nothing but cause you stress and you do not need that.
    Let your son know you love him and affirm to him that he can figure this out on his own.

  14. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Oh JFK, I'm so sorry to hear it. As hard as it is to keep boundaries in place when they are healthy, when they are ill? Knowing the right thing to do and doing it is two different things. But, as everyone has said, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Big hugs...and hang in there.
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I would add that we need to be exquisitely aware of our difficult child willingness to use mother love to manipulate us shamelessly. Almost, with malice aforethought it sometimes seems. Especially if this condition is chronic or will worsen over time, it will be best for you to declare a firm boundary around these issues now. As Echo notes, the social worker is there to assist with what is needed without becoming personally involved.

    When something like this happens, when the danger that might happen becomes the thing that did happen, every alarm starts shrieking and we are popped into FOG. This was a huge event for you, JKF. You handled it well.

    I am glad you did not call the social worker.

    That must have been very hard.

    We are still getting that acid-bath feeling from our daughter about how we could be so heartless as to not take her in after she was hurt. This coldness on our parts will get to be part of the story of "The way they are is why this happened ~ when I was hurt/sick/homeless/poor they didn't care."

    It is hurtful to hear those kinds of things, and to know the kids believe what they tell themselves about us.

    Very hurtful; that is why I liked it so much when you posted that you loved him and enjoyed him and laughed with him alot.

    Those are the things that matter.

    Holding a good thought for every one of us, this morning.

    It is amazing how many folds and complexities and gradations of love and hate and love again there are in our relationships with our kids.

    I think you are handling something really hard very well, JKF.

    • Like Like x 3
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I hope that if/when the hospital social worker calls you, you can hold your resolve and NOT help her help him. You may want to put a note to yourself by the phone and wherever you sit/stand as you talk on the phone to people. It should remind you that it does absolutely nothing positive when you do more to help someone than they will do to help themselves.

    Your son's response told you that he will absolutely NOT avail himself of any help in a useful manner. While I hope and pray that he wises up before his heart fails, it is not something that I can control,or that you can control, or that even he can control. He can do the most to try to control it, but he isn't going to. That says a whole lot.

    If you find a place for him, even now with this illness, it will set up or maintain a pattern where he goes to the hospital for a serious problem, gets help from you, and the abuses it to the absolute maximum amount possible - an amount far greater than any of us can imagine. If you leave him to his own devices and the not so tender care of the rest of the world, he may actually have to face and cope with reality.

    Your helping him doesn't actually help him. BUT if very limited short term help makes YOUR heart feel a little better and you are at a point here you need that, then go and do it.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I hope I did not sound flippant or offhand about helping your son to make your heart feel better. In my very opinionated opinion, there is nothing wrong if you want to give limited short term help (with boundaries of course-boundaries that YOU choose), and it helps you heart not hurt so very badly every moment or even every day, then you should go ahead and help.

    I mean this sincerely. Helping our DCs sometimes has to be about us when we know that they won't help themselves but we are hurting badly over them.

  18. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Oh JKF, I'm so sorry to read about this. I don't have anything to add to the great advice above. You have nothing to feel guilty about, and you know that if you "help" him it will be opening the door to high-level misery for you. You KNOW that, because he hasn't changed. I agree with SWOT that there is a good chance his cardiomyopathy is a consequence of drug use that likely continues, but even taking that out of the equation, if he won't take steps to help himself, what good would it do for you to take the first step for him?
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  19. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    I don't think you sounded flippant or offhand at all Susie. I 100% agree with you. Now that I've had a few days to process this situation I've decided not to step in and do anything. There's nothing I can do. He has to do it for himself.

    You have all given me great strength and resolve to keep my boundaries firmly in place. I can't thank you enough for that.
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  20. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    JKF, you present to all of us an amazing example of the power of waiting.

    You waited, and you decided to do nothing.

    Both take incredible maturity and self control.

    Kudos to you. We know how hard it is to do what you have done here.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 2
    • List