Finally, I can vent to someone who will understand

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LostStep-Mom, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. LostStep-Mom

    LostStep-Mom New Member


    I am new to this site. I found you all by googling about adult children and depression. I'm grateful to have found you all and it is so awesome that this place exists. It is a relief to find compassionate and experienced folks at a time when you feel so alone. So...thank you, in advance!

    I have read a whole lot here before creating my account. Although our situations are not identical, the concepts you speak of are all very helpful. Already, I feel I have a tad bit more clarity about what's going on in my household. Naturally, after reading about everyone else's experiences, I would like to give it a shot and share a bit too. Let's see if I can share some of the important details in a brief 'first' post.

    My step-son is 22. Right after high school he went into the military. About one year ago he came home for a visit during the holidays-- or so we thought. But after months of stringing us on with excuses and lies (even after the many times that we confronted him about our doubts), it turned out he was actually kicked out of the military and apparently was so afraid to tell us. How we found out: we dropped him off at the train station to (supposedly) return to duty. We thought perhaps that he actually did have a job to return to despite our disbelief due to many months of excuses and lies. However, he returned a couple days later. He had a breakdown and finally told us that had decided he was going to take his life. He had been sleeping out in the streets and came close to ending his life but could not do it after all. Naturally, after that, we showed him lots of support, love and patience. We assured him that his family was there for him and that he was welcomed home while he 'recovered' and got back on his own feet. We had motivational talks with him but didn't push too hard too soon. We knew he was dealing with a lot within himself that he wasn't ready to address out loud and soon we started noticing signs of depression (sleeping all day, awake all night, not showering, avoiding people, never leaving the house and let alone the couch he sleeps on, etc.). With time and a few chit chats from his dad, he seemed to be feeling a little better. Although, we noticed he was totally avoiding any serious business that needed attention and a lack of effort to plan or even think about his next move. He had shared with us his fear of the real world and it apparently had him so paralyzed as he was totally complacent on our couch. That is, until we literally drove him to the local community college and had him enroll in school and helped him with some paper work to access some money that he didn't have access to so that he could pay for school expenses. Well...this acces to his money eventually became the funding for his now reoccurring weekend binge drinking episodes. Things became so uncomfortable and stressful and even hazardous on the weekends because he would get pretty wasted. Thankfully we have never had to deal with blatant disrespect or aggression or verbal inappropriateness but he would pass out, have slurred speech, loss of balance etc all around his young siblings. We eventually, told him that alcohol and drinking was not allowed in the house. However, he disobeyed the rules and three weekends in a row continued to binge drink. Only on the weekends (that we are aware of). During the week he goes to school and seems to be responsible about school but yet still doesn't do much of anything else with his time. We also had a serious talk with him and communicated new conditions to live with us: therapy (or some time of professional guidance), a job, continue to go to school, and handle some important paper work re military. This was about 3 weeks ago. He has made little to no effort on any of this. His mom told him she could get him a job and he could stay with her but it requires a driver's license and therefore is no longer an option as he refuses to get his license (or is afraid to drive as he puts it). So, we're back at square one. So, today we will have another serious talk. He must show progress on the conditions within the next month and progress must continue or he will need to find another living situation at the end of January. We'll see how it goes but he never has any input and it ends up feeling like us lecturing a teenager, so I don't expect any difference today.

    I have shared the rough and basic details and haven't even addressed the emotional and psychological affect it has had on my husband and myself. We both have tried to maintain our lives separate from our son in order to keep sane and healthy. But it has recently worn me out. At first I was all in, trying to connect with him, checking in, finding resources of various types for him, etc. and he seemed to be at least a little open and willing to help himself. But after we communicated our conditions, it went downhill and he's back to being closed off and giving no effort. This has me fed up. At first, I allowed my concern for his safety and mental wellness, to influence my approach to him with caution (basically not being able to "detach" for several of the common reasons, as you all discuss). But recently I have been feeling more stressed and more avoidant of the simple access of my own house because of him and therefore triggering my own anxiety. It has been an emotional roller coaster as you all know yourselves! I am a bit afraid of the future outcome of our new ultimatum and can't help to think that we are making a damaging decision because I can see his pain and struggle and I feel that deep down inside he wishes things could be different but he's stuck. And you know how painful that is as a parent and how part of me feels like he needs us to keep fighting for him. Ugh!! But he isn't accepting our help and he isnt helping himself, so something needs to change for his wellbeing and ours. I went to a Alanon meeting and will attend a NAMI family support group to help myself and hope our son will find it somewhere deep within himself to seek help too.

    If you've reached this far in my post, thank you for reading! :) This simple act of sharing in a safe place with such empathetic people, is a much needed and appreciated release. I welcome whatever comments or advice you want to share. But mainly, I just thank you for listening!
  2. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome @LostStep-Mom. I am so sorry you are struggling with such a complicated situation with your step son. You have proven how much you care and are willing to help. This young man is an adult and is ultimately responsible for his own choices. If he isn't willing to help himself that is not your fault.

    While you are navigating your way through your parenting journey with this young man I just want to remind you to make sure to take good care of yourself. Your life and well being important too.

    I just wanted to let you know that I have read your post and wanted to offer you my support. Hopefully some other members will come along.

    Hang in there.
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  3. LostStep-Mom

    LostStep-Mom New Member

  4. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

    @LostStep-Mom I hear you. You are not alone. I also had a very difficult parenting journey with my child when she was a young adult. Although my parenting journey has been different than yours I do relate to your bewilderment and hopelessness. Your life matters too.
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  5. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    LostStep-Mom, You have found a safe place to reap a harvest of comfort, insight and wisdom from the folks here who all understand too well what you are experiencing. While each situation is so unique, common threads run throughout the various tapestries of the lives shared here. I’m sure it was by divine providence that I found this place a little more than a month ago, just in the nick of time to save my sanity. I only posted one thread back in September and received much support. I was away from my son and home situation on a trip but am now returned this week and preparing the steps for action for my son to leave our house. It is the only way. We have only enabled him to allow him here, all the time thinking we were helping, but indeed contributing to the enabling.

    I come here to the forum site everyday for reinforcement and clarity. How thankful I am for this group. Stay with us and garner peace and strength. Believe me, we all relate to everything you have shared, the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual struggles that just do not seem to get better, until we detach and take care of ourselves and realize our adult children must find their way. Your son is still so young, so I feel your pain in being fearful and concerned for him. My son is 36, a grown man, and I still feel as you summarized it so well .. It has been an emotional roller coaster as you all know yourselves! I am a bit afraid of the future outcome of our new ultimatum and can't help to think that we are making a damaging decision because I can see his pain and struggle and I feel that deep down inside he wishes things could be different but he's stuck. And you know how painful that is as a parent and how part of me feels like he needs us to keep fighting for him. Ugh!! But he isn't accepting our help and he isnt helping himself, so something needs to change for his wellbeing and ours….

    I’m thankful you found us. I know you are already relieved to have shared your situation and can start detaching. It is such a relief to be here with others who experientially really know what is happening. Bless you and keep posting. Others will also be along to support and uplift. Stay with us and keep posting. It helps.
  6. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Sorry about you step-son in the end you can not do nothing. But I do see some hope for him for now as he goes to college and refused top take his license which is a good thing because from what I saw that difficult child is not ready to drive and I lets say get a little mad when people let their difficult child who has certain issues drive a car.
    He is not the only one on the road and I lost to many people I cared about to bad driving and what he did shows he has some maturity in him. I am glad that I saw someone who admited he is not ready to drive afraid in my opinion meaning that.
  7. LostStep-Mom

    LostStep-Mom New Member

    Thanks for sharing @A dad! First, I'm sorry for your losses. It is especially sad because it sounds like they coukd have maybe been prevented as you mentioned they were because of bad driving.

    You know...I have to be honest and say that I have not thought of his refusal to obtain his license as a "good" thing. You're right...given his recent abuse and lack of responsibility in regards to drinking, it's probably best that he does not have the privelage of driving. It's too bad he has to skip over a job opportunity but hopefully another will present itself soon.
  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi LostStep-Mom and welcome to the forum. I read your story a couple of times, and it resonates with me, as it is very similar to my son's story.

    He used alcohol plus prescription pills for a long time, and all it brought him was more and more trouble. There are just certain people who can't use substances, and my son is one of them. His dad and I are divorced and he was like a ping-pong ball back and forth between us for a while. I had prayed that he WOULD go into the military---hoping that could fix him---but he never did. In the end, I had to draw very very strong boundaries---anything less was just asking for continuous harassment from him---kick him out, at times limit phone calls and texts to once a week at a particular time (he would text and call me relentlessly once I started setting more and more boundaries with him), and limit face to face visits. At one point I told him if he came to my house without an invitation, I would call the police and get a restraining order.

    You can see how far down things can go. With addiction we are no match. Addiction will mow down everything in its path. It takes no prisoners.

    I offered my son every kind of help known to man, therapists, rehab, psychiatrists, 12-step. He threatened suicide multiple times and every time I would call the police and he would go to the ER to be evaluated (a good thing). Once they sent him to the state hospital for about five days. Then he was back out again, back to doing the same things over and over and over. It was insanity.

    I started going to Al-Anon because I was going out of my mind and I had to have help. There is no logic or reason or common sense to any of this. They will do the absolute worst thing for themselves, and they will do it again and again and again. You can't stop it, you can't reason with it, and in the end, you have to save yourself.

    People who don't want treatment and won't help themselves can't be helped by anybody else. That is a bare fact.

    I tried for years and years to get through to my son. I am one of the most persistent people in the world (hopefully in a good way most of the time). Finally I had to get on my knees and admit and accept I had met my match and it was the 40 foot tall monster called addiction.

    I had to save myself. I love my son very very much, just like all parents love their kids. He had a very good upbringing with all the trappings, if you know what I mean. That doesn't matter.

    You are in a tough place because you are a step-parent. It sounds like you have hung in there so well with your husband, and have tried and tried to help your step-son. I take my hat off to you, because I can't imagine putting up with what our DCs so and not being their lifelong parent. It's too much for us even.

    There is no magic answer here. Once you and your husband are sick and tired enough of the behavior, you will have to set boundaries and then you will have to learn to stick to them. That's the hard part when you love someone because it's "in us" to give people we love 1000 chances. We want to believe them. In the end, their behavior is the true measurement of everything.

    It doesn't matter what his diagnosis is at this point. He is a binge drinker and that is a huge problem. My ex-husband was a very high functioning alcoholic (his word, not mine), a binge drinker who performed very well until he binge-drank and it wasn't even every weekend. He finally stopped drinking, went to rehab and goes to AA still today. But alcohol wrecked our marriage. You can't have a relationship with someone, anyone, whose #1 love is alcohol (or pot or pills or heroin or whatever it is). It just doesn't work.

    I would recommend some books to you and your husband: CoDependent No More by Melody Beattie, Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend, any/all Al-Anon literature. I would recommend you and your husband go to Al-Anon meetings in your area---they are free, they last one hour, and I will tell you without hesitation that Al-Anon not only saved my sanity but working the program has made me a much healthier and better person. I can't say enough good things about Al-Anon.

    Please keep sharing here. We know how hard and bewildering this is. I hope it is of some comfort for you to know that the patterns are basically the same. The details are different, but we have all walked virtually the same path. I wish love saved people, but it doesn't. In the end, they have to decide to save themselves first---and the day they do, that is when we can step in with support.

    Warm hugs.
  9. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi LostStep-Mom,
    So glad you have found us. Sorry for your circumstances, this is a rough road to be on, many here, as you know, have been through similar situations. A huge theme rings true through all of the stories, the unbelievable heartache of the journey.

    It sounds as if you folks are taking steps to give your step-son his wings. That is good. It takes a while of trial and error, before we realize our helping is not helping.
    Yes, the hubs and I have been here, too. Trying, trying to help, but the unpredictable, outrageous behavior patterns of adult D c's wreak havoc on a household.

    The roller coaster is horrendous. I remember avoiding going home, too. It is like an invasion has hit your house, it is no longer a place of security. Lost- this is unacceptable, you know. Your home is your castle.
    So true. The article on detachment at the top of PE page is very, very helpful. Your stepson is young. Sometimes that keeps us wanting to help, but as someone who took way too long to detach, I feel it is better to do so, as soon as this type of behavior exhibits itself, to save your stepson and your family a ton of grief. It becomes a drama go round of crazy. The more you help, the deeper they decline, the more you help, the more they resent you for it. The disrespect becomes more blatant, as I am sure you have read, you begin to find things go missing. Lying, stealing, blame seeking, the list goes on.

    Before you know it, you realize the most precious things have been stolen from you, time and peace of mind. No one, no one, is worth that loss.
    True, very, very true. I miss my two d c's, not who they are now, who they were.
    I simply cannot have a relationship with them, too destructive for me.
    Very solid advice. I have decided that by detaching from my two, I am helping them the most. At home, the destruction just continues, and we go down with them.

    By detaching and focusing on building ourselves up, we are not being selfish. We are showing our children that self respect is so very important.

    I hope you continue to share here, and reap the benefit of experience on this site. It has helped me tremendously.

    Please take good care of yourself.

    When our adult children make terrible choices and live in our homes, the focus is on them, trying to fix them. They have to want to fix themselves.

    Take good care of yourself, LostStep-Mom, you have value, a future and a life of your own to live to the fullest.

  10. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome LSM,

    I am so glad you found us and thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry for what you are experiencing with your step son. He is truly blessed that you care so much about him.
    It's a difficult journey dealing with an adult child that has issues gaining control over their life but you are not alone.

    I remember these feelings all to well. Each day when I was driving home from work I would be about a mile from my house and the anxiety would start. As soon as I turned onto my street I would get a sick feeling in my stomach because I never knew what I would find when I got home. Many times I would walk into my house to find my son had ransacked it, he was always looking for money to steal.
    This is no way to live. Our homes are supposed to be our sanctuary, a place of peace where we can recharge.

    This is understandable. We have all been there. I have learned that no amount of my worrying will change a thing. I had to think of the worst possible thing that could happen to my son which was him dying, either from an OD or suicide, or someone taking him out. Once I accepted this, I mean really accepted that this could happen I was able to let go of the worry.
    You see, my husband and I have done everything we can for our son. We have afforded him numerous opportunities to get his life on track, to be a productive member of society. The problem was, he didn't want to be that. He and many of the adult children of parents on this site are going to live their lives the way they want to. Our input and influence do not register with them.
    I'll admit, it's a very hard truth to swallow, that we have no control over our adult children and the choices they make.
    For myself, I know that my husband and I did everything we could to try and help our son, but again, he didn't want it. There was a period of time that I played the "what if" game, what if we had done this or that, then maybe........................
    I had to let it go. I had to accept that we had done all we could, there was no more.
    I had to take my life back.

    I'm glad you are seeking out ways to learn how to cope and deal with what you are going through. The most important thing is that you are taking care of yourself. Take time to be good to yourself. It's also important to take time just for you and hubby. My husband and I used to take long drives on the weekend. Just get in the car and go. We had one rule, no discussing our son or his issues.

    I'm glad you are here with us. Please keep us posted as to how things are going.

    ((HUGS)) to you......................
  11. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome, Lost

    Does your step-son qualify for any services through the military like counseling or a medical work-up?

    Was he serving in Afghanistan or other war-zone?

    Does he have any military contacts he can talk with?

    I am just wondering if he has PTSD/depression/mental health problems associated with his military service?
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  12. LostStep-Mom

    LostStep-Mom New Member

    Thank you for sharing @Kalahou!

    We have only enabled him to allow him here, all the time thinking we were helping, but indeed contributing to the enabling.

    Yes, I began to realize that there is a very thin (and confusing) line between helping and enabling; especially if they aren't trying to help themselves.

    I’m thankful you found us. I know you are already relieved to have shared your situation and can start detaching. It is such a relief to be here with others who experientially really know what is happening. Bless you and keep posting. Others will also be along to support and uplift. Stay with us and keep posting. It helps.

    I am thankful too. You all are so knowledgable and passionate and I know it's because of your own painful journey. Thank you for the encouragement and guidance!
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