Guilt - and getting over it.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Torn and Tired, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. Torn and Tired

    Torn and Tired New Member

    Hi everyone. I am a new parent on here, and I hope some of you will have some insightful experiences to help me with my difficult child.

    difficult child is 20 and has been living in his own apartment (that I cosigned for) for 1.5 years.

    husband (his stepfather) and I found out difficult child was smoking pot from another parent. This was when difficult child was a Jr in HS. His grades had always been acceptable, and he was in the HS band and HS musicals. Seemed to be functioning well, so we had no clue. husband and difficult child have never really gotten along well, as I believe their personalities clash (they are alike in some ways) and difficult child was somewhat disrespectful too. I was not a good disciplinarian and many times let difficult child off the hook for things - I believe part of it is that I was compensating for the divorce and that his father was not very involved in his life. Anyway, in the summer between Jr and Sr year, my husband and I went away for a week to our vacation home over the July 4th holiday. difficult child's use of the car had been taken away because of not respecting curfews, and finding pot in it. The car was in the garage with no insurance on it. We were gone about 24 hours when I got a photo texted to me by easy child of the car parked on the street with the caption "I'm not driving it." I promptly went home to handle. When I got home, there was the odor of pot in the house (I had repeatedly warned difficult child to not get himself kicked out for pot in the house). When difficult child came home that evening, I told him that he was going to have to go live with his father - as I could not continue to allow him to break rules. (I should mention that he also burned numerous holes in his bedroom carpet from smoking hookah in there with same friends).

    difficult child lived with father till October, when his father kicked him out (gave him 1 hour to get everything out). The reason: difficult child would not go to church, and EX did not want a "heathen" living there. difficult child was now 18 in Sr Year. husband said difficult child could not come back to our house, as difficult child was still not behaving right. (we knew there was still pot issues). difficult child went to live with friends, and then eventually moved into a house with some friends. He also worked, and went to school. In May of Sr Year, difficult child had enough of the partying in the house and begged to come home. husband still said no. husband and I got him the apartment, that he now lives in. difficult child has graduated from school, and is working full time, and living in this apartment.

    Current problem:

    difficult child is still not living right. Hanging out with bad company. He is in a band with a buddy and talks about "giving up his apartment to go on tour." Crazy idea. He tried community college - and dropped out in a month. He admits to still smoking pot.
    I got a letter in the mail last week from the apartment complex threatening eviction due to excessive noise between 11pm and 4am, loud music, numerous complaints, and "police action." difficult child claims to be quiet.
    Last night difficult child comes to our home in a big panic, crying. Wants to talk to me - in private. OHNO!!!! He says he has to get out of his apartment immediately because he is afraid for his life. His apartment was broken into 3 times, but nothing stolen. A girl is harrassing him because she paid him back $20 for a loan, but difficult child claims he didn't get it - that it was stolen. He goes to police station for help (weird) and they tell him he is selling drugs so why should they help him now.
    I am trying to protect this child from certain destruction and he is so upset, so I offer him a place to sleep for the night. And maybe more. husband gets wind of this and starts screaming and yelling. husband and difficult child almost come to blows. Police show up.
    Police say difficult child's story is loaded with holes, and it is probably drug money - and that I should be able to see this - and that difficult child is the problem and bringing the problem to my house. husband is crying saying he can't live with difficult child at our house - and that problems follow people, and that we could be having it all here. difficult child leaves and goes home.
    Today - difficult child is calmed down and says he feels better and will "handle things."

    I AM SO GUILT RIDDEN I COULD JUST DIE! My heart is breaking. I want so much to help this boy. He says he wants to go to college and get his life together, and I should be helping him. husband says no way will that happen cause difficult child is STILL not doing right - and if he really wanted to straighten his life out - he would. I feel if I don't help difficult child that I am not being a good mother, - that I am turning my back on him. however, husband says we do enough. we consistently bail him out of trouble - including car problems, and a recent hit and run fender bender that we had to go to car for. husband says difficult child is a problem and we need to stear clear. I just can't. HELP. husband says I am enabling him cause i keep bailing him out all the time. husband says he will leave if difficult child comes home to live. Who do I pick? It's not fair that I have to.

    ME: 53, employed, in college, physically challenged with hip and back stenosis.
    husband: 36, employed (yes, I'm a cougar!), no natural children
    difficult child: 20, male
    easy child: 21, Male, in Sr year of college
    easy child: 28, Male, married, lives in SW (was not always a easy child).
    PCGF: 21, lives at our house (not WITH easy child, but is college student too).
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    T&T, welcome. It sure sounds as if you've come to the right place. I'm sorry though, that you had to even look for us. Your situation is a tough one, but not unlike many of us here who have grown kids who have a serious failure to launch, many due to substance abuse. You may want to also post on the Substance Abuse forum since those parents are quite well versed in all of the ins and outs of those issues. You can just cut and paste your post and put it in SA.

    I can understand your anguish and guilt. Nothing is more difficult then having to detach from our children, it causes us immeasurable pain..............however, having said that, I think you do need to detach from your difficult child, it sounds as if you are enabling him. You've done everything for him including setting him up in an apartment you pay for. Many of our difficult child's don't begin to move into their own lives until we let go and let them. I know personally how hard that is to do, however, by enabling him you rob him of the opportunity to not only suffer natural consequences for his behavior, you rob him of the opportunity to handle his own life thereby gaining the adult strength and pride to make good choices. He is 20 years old, he is an adult.

    You might want to read the blurb on detachment at the bottom of my page also might want to get yourself into a support system where you can begin to learn how to unhook yourself from the sense of parental responsibility and guilt you feel towards your son so that you and your husband can find some peace and learn how to set boundaries that work for YOU and your husband. Your son sounds as if he is holding you hostage with his behavior and you are allowing it. I know that sounds harsh, and I'm sorry to even say it, but you are asking us for our take on this and that is mine. I needed help, professional help, to detach from my grown daughter, it's really hard to advice is to find yourself a therapist, a parent support group, go to 12 step groups designed for parents of kids who abuse drugs, do some research and find help for YOU. Your son may not change, but you can change your responses to him so that you are taking care of you and your marriage. You've done enough for your difficult child, it sounds like it's time to do something for YOU. We as parents need to identify what we can and cannot live with and then set those boundaries with our difficult child's with the full knowledge that if those boundaries are not adhered to, there will be consequences. And, then you need to stand behind the consequences you set. As I said, you may need professional help to do all of that, it's a process, it takes time, commitment and it's not easy. Don't let your difficult child come between you and your husband. I wish you peace. Keep posting, it helps. Get yourself some support. Stay strong. We get it. (((HUGS)))
  3. Torn and Tired

    Torn and Tired New Member

    Dear Recovering,
    THank you so much for your reply. Finding this group is my first step at getting help. You have offered very valuable advice. When I talk to many of my co-workers or friends, they think differently. They've never had to put out a child. I can see in their eyes that they don't agree with this - and they have trouble offering any words of encouragement. TO find people who have been there done that is great - and I appreciate that there is no judgement here on this DB.

    I do agree I need to detach. I am finding this extremely painful and I do think I might find therapy helpful.

    I also suspect that my son may be bipolar, depressed or something akin to this. He may even need rehab. But I can't make those decisions for him, can I?

    Thank you! I WILL keep reading....
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    T&T, finding this group is a very clear step in the right direction, it was for me too. And, it does provide an opportunity to listen to and vent to others who are in the same boat. Other parents really have no clue what we go through and what this is about. They are usually never put in the unenviable position of having to detach from their children, so getting those "knowing looks" from others with judgement in their tone is something many of us know a lot about. Don't let it deter you, you're simply on a different path and now you are with us a bunch of wounded warrior parents doing the best we can under pretty horrible conditions...............but there is hope. It's a process of learning a whole new way of dealing with your adult children, it is not linear nor is it a step by step process which you can study and master, it's too filled with emotional responses from our hearts that feel as if we will break from the pain............but we don't..........we carry on.............we learn how to do it, for our kids and for ourselves. The one person who will likely judge you the harshest is you, measuring yourself with your own former definition of parenting that you now have to throw overboard and learn a new way. The old way doesn't work. Your suspicion that your son is bipolar or depressed likely has some truth to it, you as his mom will know that more then anyone, we know when our kids need help. However, he may not own that, he may not seek help, he may not do anything to help himself, particularly if you have enabled him up until this point. HE has to make those choices for himself. What you can do is seek that help for yourself and your husband. Learn how to set those boundaries, set a united front with your husband, learn how to take care of YOU, learn how to let go of the guilt and responsibility, learn to detach and learn to accept what is. It's tough, but with help and your own commitment, you can do it. We're here to support you and encourage you so keep talking, keep venting and take very good care of yourself. You've joined the ranks of the Warrior Moms, perhaps you didn't really want to join, neither did I, but here we are..................many hugs for you..............
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am sorry for your hurting mommy heart. We have tough choices with these kids.

    I agree with your husband. He is 'outside' meaning not difficult children parent, so he does not truly understand your side of this either.

    Your son's story does If it is drug do not want to be around that!

    Hugs! I know it is hard to do....but he is choosing his lifestyles....and it comes with natural consequences....
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm really sorry you are going through this. I do want to tell you that my daughter, who was once VERY involved with drugs, told me that if you use drugs you also sell them. It is understood. Also, your son may be using a lot more than pot. My daughter also was hunted by some "bad" kids she owed money to...drug money. Eventually we kicked her out and she went her out of state to her brother's and she straightened out, but it was a bad stretch before that and the reason that people were after her was indeed drugs.
    Our kids often make promises. I'd let him home after he kept those promises. I understand the hurt in your mommy heart and your desire to protect your son, but unless he is ready to totally renounced drugs and live a straight life, you can not help him. Only he can help himself.
    I don't think it is worth it to ruin your marriage since your son has not proven anything to anyone, but whatever you decide to do, all of us will support your decision.
    I suggest going to Narc-Anon. It will give you real time support. I do think you are dealing with more than just pot here.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sending support your way. I have been there done that with a "new" stepDad AND again twenty years later with an "experienced" stepDad! son and subsequently OUR grandson traveled this road. I can't tell you what THE answer is for your situation because we each have to "man up" according what's going on. I am sorry that you are facing these choices and know from my heart that they are not easy. I know how I decided to handle the issues but you, and only you, can decide which course is best. Hugs DDD
  8. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Welcome - we all very much understand where you are. My husband has also said on many occasions that he cannot live with difficult child and if I ever had her move back here, he would leave. It is awful to hear that. Like a stab in the heart and you feel it is not fair. You brought this person into the world - how could you let them fall?

    Truth is, you have to. My husband was right and yours is, too. difficult child caused so much turmoil in our home it affected everyone - even our younger easy child. Our home was miserable and I never looked forward to coming home. Now it is peaceful and happy. I worry about difficult child all of the time, don't get me wrong. It hurts my mommy heart like nothing else. But she is the master of her destiny and no one can change anything but her.

    You cannot save him. The more you save him, the more you pushing bottom down even further. And he has to hit bottom. It has to get so bad for them that THEY want change. And they have to want it much more than you.

    (((HUGS))) you came to the right place for support...
  9. Torn and Tired

    Torn and Tired New Member

    Thank you for your support - and all the kind words. I realize that I have enabled the difficult child and certainly didn't realize I was pushing the bottom down further. What a beautiful analogy. It really hit home! Right now, things have diffused. husband has calmed down and difficult child texted me that "he is handling everything." I'm not sure what that means - but it sounds good. It is very hard to detach. I never thought of myself as that kind of parent - but boy, am I. I'm like a blanket, and I realize that difficult child is only going to do things on his time...not mine. My heart does hurt - and I do worry. But I will learn.
    THank you all.

    ME: 53, employed, in college, physically challenged with hip and back stenosis.
    husband: 36, employed (yes, I'm a cougar!), no natural children
    difficult child: 20, male
    easy child: 21, Male, in Sr year of college
    easy child: 28, Male, married, lives in SW (was not always a easy child).
    PCGF: 21, lives at our house (not WITH easy child, but is college student too).
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    T&T welcome, I'm glad you found us.

    You are right, in many ways you're enabling difficult children behavior to continue. Why are you bailing him out of trouble? He's a grown adult. How is he supposed to learn there are consequences to the decisions and actions of an adult if you're not allowing that to happen? Simple. He's not learning. Therein lies your problem. He continues to make bad choices and you continue to bail him out except for a place to live. He's just spinning his wheels and making a deeper hole to climb out of.

    I understand the desire to support and help your child and to be a good parent. I understand the worry that he is throwing his life away, and the maternal need to attempt to prevent that. However you can't prevent that from happening. Only difficult child can make choices that will put his life back on track. He's not going to make those choices (no real reason to do so) as long as he has no incentive to do so. (such as facing those natural consequences head on alone)

    As parents of adult children we have to learn where to draw the line and when to step back and say "it's your life, I can't live it for you." We have to learn to accept the bad choices, the screw ups, along with the good choices and the successes. Life is a learning process. We don't enter this world knowing how to walk or talk ect; and we don't enter the adult world a fully functioning adult with all the wisdom and skills we need either. We make bad choices and we stumble and fall flat on our faces until we learn and do better.

    Learning to detach from the lives of our adult children is a process for us, but one that is well worth it in the end. Just as we let them stumble and fall in order to learn to walk, we have to let them stumble and fall to learn to navigate adulthood. Not easy, but necessary.