Having trouble detaching

Beta

Well-Known Member
I could really use some feedback on how to detach from an adult child with mental issues/addiction. Our son, Josh, 33 yo, is homeless in Phoenix, with no phone, no I.D., and we haven't heard from him in almost three months. Some days I manage to deal with it okay, but then other days I feel like I'm slipping back into a pit of despondency. As a Christian, I know that God is in control; that He loves Josh and wants the best for him; and that only He can do anything more in his life to help. We've done it all; it hasn't worked; and now we CAN'T do anything because we no longer have a way to reach him. (We live in the southeast).
Here's my question: Are there any of you out there who have lost contact with your adult child for a long period of time? How do you deal with the grief and not allow it to overwhelm you?
 

Tiredof33

Active Member
My son was drifting around homeless for about 5 years. He and substance abusing girlfriend moved to Denver, CO because the pot had been legalized. They had drunken brawls and one or the other would be arrested.

I did not know he had moved back closer to me for several years. I'm also in the SE. They were on again off again constantly. Staying with her mother, fighting, arrests, then he was living on the streets. girlfriend and her mother put my son's computer, clothes, all personal things out in the rain. They were all stolen.

The girlfriend started harassing me over the phone, calling 2am, 3am. I had met the woman one time, she wanted money and was always very drunk/drugged. I finally had to call the police and I called her mother (mother worked at the police dept and the police gave me the call number) and said I would press charges. This did stop her from calling me.

The woman posted nasty name calling on FB about me and my daughter. She committed suicide. Her mother told police my son had a suicide pact with her daughter. I was so afraid it was true. Crazy, but this relationship lasted 10 years.

Then, he met another woman living on the streets with 3 children. Hubby and I helped them. It's always money, money, more money. We did it for the kids.

They recently seperated and he has admitted himself to a psychiatric ward 3 times in about 6 weeks.

Now, he has met an ex addict this month, she is the 'one'. She is unemployed and his work has slowed tremendously. He's looking for work and it's still money, money, gimme money.

I'm exhausted. I think it was easier when I wasn't hearing from him. I'm also very stressed.

I know there are food banks, shelters. It's still so very hard. I meditate about twice a day and stay as busy as I can. There is absolutely nothing you can do. Chamomile tea also helps. I hope you can find peace. We have to let them live their lives, there's nothing we can say or do to stop or change them.

Try to detach, it's so very hard. I've had 3 surgeries and have become too old for his addictions and drama.
 
Last edited:

Tiredof33

Active Member
Beta, there's another thing that has helped me. I journal my thoughts, fears, anger. I use nasty words, I let all of my hate at this part of my life spill out on paper. Then, I throw it away. It's for my eyes only.

Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse, no contact from my son or now when he's in a relationship execting me not only to help him, but her as well! My son is 44yo, I'm exhausted and nothing I've tried has helped him.
 

Beta

Well-Known Member
Dear Tireof33,
Wow. You've been at this longer than I have and, from the sound of it, you've been dealing with a lot more drama. I just want to say how sorry I am that you have been and are dealing with so much turmoil. I've been doing a few sessions of counseling recently, and the counselor told me that I have suffered trauma from Josh, kind of a version of PTSD. I knew there was something wrong but I hadn't realized it was that bad. It sounds like you too are traumatized and have developed survival responses to the trauma. I pray that you too will be able to come to a place of peace and acceptance, as I would like to. It's hard to learn not to tie our peace and serenity to the circumstances and actions of our messed up adult kids. As I read your description in your bio, I agree with you--it does still hurt no matter what. My counselor said it will always probably hurt, but the goal is to grieve in a healthy way and come to a place of acceptance.
Sending hugs your way, and so glad you have a supportive husband.
 

Tiredof33

Active Member
I have had some years where I thought my son would finally find a good path he could be comfortable walking in his life.

My son started drugs early. He does have ADHD, didn't fit in at school. He is a huge people pleaser and a huge follower.

He has one life long friend that's always there for him. The friend's father is a nasty drug addict, sister is a prostitute having 2 children before age 15. Somehow, the friend was still able to say no to substance abuse and have a good life. I know the friend well, the interesting thing is my son has no contact with this friend when he's using. That's my way of knowing sometimes, lol.

I see you are a pastor's wife so I think you'll understand my views. I believe my son has his own path to follow. He has had many opportunities, he's highly intelligent, people like him, he simply can not handle responsibility. Doesn't want to is more honest.

ADHD makes it hard for the person to 'connect the dots', hard for them to plan, hard for them to understand there will be consequences. My son loves attention and bares his soul to anyone. I'm much more private. His posting pics on FB last month cutting himself makes him the center of attention. Any attention, good or bad, is better than no attention. He's exhausting, lol!

I had hoped his recent relationship would last. He finds these troubled women to 'save', yet it's me that he wants to do the supporting & financial saving!

The last one had 3 children, they were literally living on the street. Hubby and I helped them. A LOT, lol. The oldest graduated high school with honors, finished a chef program with honors, was devestated that he didn't have a food network show the first year. Gave up & is involved in a gang. I saw the indications of substance abuse in him, yet I was still devestated myself.

Hubby & I both grew up dirt poor & try to help others. We have reached an age where we can't & my. It does make me sad that my 44yo just can't get his life on track. It makes me sad knowing he may kill himself & it makes ne sad wondering what will become of him when I'm gone.

He is just found 'the one' & of course shes unemployed & his work has slowed. They're both looking for jobs. SIGH!!

It's never endibg for sure until they want it to end. My son doesn't contact me when he's using. I know from experience if they get in trouble they'll find a way to contact you. No news is good news, lol!
 
Last edited:

Tiredof33

Active Member
The other thing is I have had my in so many programs from a young age. The teachings that you can not talk them into treatment until they want to change is absolutely true. I've been blamed so much for not making my son change. There is nothing you can do. I've also been in counseling and every time his life 'blows up' it snatches me back to fear mode, step one. I hope one day a magic cure will come along.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Are there any of you out there who have lost contact with your adult child for a long period of time? How do you deal with the grief and not allow it to overwhelm you?
Hi Beta. I suffer for you. My son J is 35 now. It's hard for me to believe. I have gone months without contact. It was much harder for me years ago. I have much more frequent contact with him now. In some ways, it is more difficult, up close and personal. I think the key is not the time of out of contact it is acceptance.

We are living nightmares, you and I. And so are our children. And we can't help them. The powerlessness and helplessness is unfathomable. I have long-term friends, of 55 years, and 45 years long friendships. One NEVER asks about my child. The other has learned occasionally to ask. They don't want to go there because who would?

There is an article today in the NYTimes. It's about falling. Opinion | Why My Fall Made Me Feel So Ashamed. I was interested because I keep falling on my face and breaking bones. I have had 6 fractures. This writer fell and had all kinds of feelings of vulnerability but didn't break anything. I am going to go and copy the article or a link to it. But the gist of what I want to say is this: There was the realization on my part that I have deep, deep feelings of pain, fear, depression, loss, ABOUT FALLING. Imagine what we feel about our fallen sons.

I believe WE are traumatized. And what we feel is trauma.

What I am trying to say is that we need to view ourselves, not our sons as the afflicted. We, not they, are in the narrow straits. We, not them need to be rescued. We, not them need to be cared for. Even saved.

I only read this article this morning, but since then I have had a different relationship with my feelings. And a different response to them. I feel them gently. I caress them. I allow myself to rest. I accept myself.

we CAN'T do anything because we no longer have a way to reach him.
The feelings you have are not contingent on anything about Josh. They are contingent on a response from you. You are calling out. The response will come to you.

I am so, so sorry you are suffering. I know you can find peace. I know you will.
 
Last edited:

Crayola14

New Member
I think you have done everything you can for Josh, based on your posts over the last few years. As you know, adopted children can be very challenging and hard to understand. You may not know anything about his biological parents. He may have inherited some of his mindset and behavior from one or both of them. Mental illness can curse generation after generation of family. Someone mentioned nature over nurture a few years ago. Nature seems to win most of the time.
 

Beta

Well-Known Member
Beta, there's another thing that has helped me. I journal my thoughts, fears, anger. I use nasty words, I let all of my hate at this part of my life spill out on paper. Then, I throw it away. It's for my eyes only.

Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse, no contact from my son or now when he's in a relationship execting me not only to help him, but her as well! My son is 44yo, I'm exhausted and nothing I've tried has helped him.
Tiredof33,
I apologize for being so long to get back to you. I've just started a new job and have been working. I agree with you--we are the ones who have been traumatized and beaten down by our children. As I read your words, I could hear the exhaustion and grief in them, and I am so sorry for you as well for what you have suffered. I have done some journaling from time to time, and it does help to release the feelings of grief and isolation. I know what you mean about friends not bringing it up. Most of the people I go to church with are younger, 30's to 40's with young children. It kind of hurts to see them in a season of life I was once in and one in which I felt so much optimism about the future. I'm sad and, to some extent, will always be, but I sense myself coming more and more to terms with the possibility that we may never see or hear from Josh again. It is a possibility I can do nothing about, other than pray that God will work in his life. I appreciate your feedback though--it helps to hear the words, "It's not your fault. You've done all that you could have done." I think all of us on this site have done that, or we wouldn't be here.
 

Beta

Well-Known Member
I think you have done everything you can for Josh, based on your posts over the last few years. As you know, adopted children can be very challenging and hard to understand. You may not know anything about his biological parents. He may have inherited some of his mindset and behavior from one or both of them. Mental illness can curse generation after generation of family. Someone mentioned nature over nurture a few years ago. Nature seems to win most of the time.
Hi Crayola14,
Thank you for saying that. I never get tired of hearing that I've done all I can because I still need to believe it.
Yes, I think you are right about adopted kids. From what I've read, it seems like there is a higher incidence of mental illness and addictive behaviors with adopted kids. His biological mother actually told me just before her passing in 2018 that she was bipolar. I used to think that love and care for someone would overcome any potential problems, but I don't believe that anymore. Sometimes genetics are just too strong I guess.
 

Beta

Well-Known Member
Hi Beta. I suffer for you. My son J is 35 now. It's hard for me to believe. I have gone months without contact. It was much harder for me years ago. I have much more frequent contact with him now. In some ways, it is more difficult, up close and personal. I think the key is not the time of out of contact it is acceptance.

We are living nightmares, you and I. And so are our children. And we can't help them. The powerlessness and helplessness is unfathomable. I have long-term friends, of 55 years, and 45 years long friendships. One NEVER asks about my child. The other has learned occasionally to ask. They don't want to go there because who would?

There is an article today in the NYTimes. It's about falling. Opinion | Why My Fall Made Me Feel So Ashamed. I was interested because I keep falling on my face and breaking bones. I have had 6 fractures. This writer fell and had all kinds of feelings of vulnerability but didn't break anything. I am going to go and copy the article or a link to it. But the gist of what I want to say is this: There was the realization on my part that I have deep, deep feelings of pain, fear, depression, loss, ABOUT FALLING. Imagine what we feel about our fallen sons.

I believe WE are traumatized. And what we feel is trauma.

What I am trying to say is that we need to view ourselves, not our sons as the afflicted. We, not they, are in the narrow straits. We, not them need to be rescued. We, not them need to be cared for. Even saved.

I only read this article this morning, but since then I have had a different relationship with my feelings. And a different response to them. I feel them gently. I caress them. I allow myself to rest. I accept myself.


The feelings you have are not contingent on anything about Josh. They are contingent on a response from you. You are calling out. The response will come to you.

I am so, so sorry you are suffering. I know you can find peace. I know you will.
Copa,
I apologize for being so long in getting a response back to you. I was actually hoping you would chime in when I wrote, because you have such good insight and have helped me and others on this site many times. I just realized that I confused some of what you said and what Tiredof33 said and attributed some of your comments to her. Anyway, reading through your post again, it makes me sad that you have longterm friends who aren't usually or ever able to help bear the burden of sadness. It compounds the grief with loneliness and isolation.
Yes, all of us who have adult children like these have been traumatized. I just never put two and two together on that until someone pointed it out to me recently, and it was like an "ah ha" moment, and I realized, "That's why I feel and react the way I do." I think it's actually called something like "Complex PTSD." I can understand what you mean about having contact being harder in some ways. Everyday, I go to the Maricopa Sheriff's Office website and check to see if Josh has been arrested. I look through the mugshots, and I wonder if I would even be able to recognize him if he were there because of the drugs/alcohol and homelessness. Part of me hopes to find him there and part of me is relieved that he is not there-yet. He's actually been cited several times over the last few months for shoplifting and possessing drug paraphernalia but never taken into custody. The only reason I know that is because I have called the missing person's department and they have updated me on incidents he has been involved in. But there has been nothing on him since early September. I think this would be easier to accept if I knew without any doubt that going no contact with us is truly his choice. That he wants nothing to do with us. It would hurt but I could accept it easier than wondering if he WOULD contact us if he could or that he is silent because of shame.
I am sorry for YOUR suffering too. I can sense your deep love for your son, and I'm sorry that you are going through this.
 

Nomad

Well-Known Member
Staff member
"Are there any of you out there who have lost contact with your adult child for a long period of time? How do you deal with the grief and not allow it to overwhelm you?"

I can't 100 percent answer this because I have not gone "no contact" for any long period of time. In her own way, I suppose, our daughter is attached to us. It's not particularly healthy and its, as it is for all of us, rather complicated and very often strained.

But, I have by and large become detached. In my case, it involved a few things. I think starting with an incident that forced my eyes open. I realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that there wasn't anything I could do to change the situation. I had given it 100-110 percent and that extra 10 percent just about did me in. So, for me, it started with that realization.

Additionally, as I hinted at about the 10 percent...I realized that not only were my efforts futile, but it was hurting me tremendously Physically, emotionally and in every way. This is the worst situation anyone could ever be in.

Lastly, I found my faith a balm. I recall years ago speaking with a young alcoholic with three DUI's. Frankly, I was very worried about his future. But, one day he said to me, that he thinks that only a higher power can help him at this point. He was willing to get counseling and to try his best (terrific signs) BUT, he also felt that what lied ahead was going to be sooo difficult, he needed help from Above. Hmmm. It stuck with me. And, although I had turned to God, many times (more like begging for help to be honest), this time things were different. I was humble. I was "spent." I had acceptance. I just wanted to some peace. Some wisdom. The ability to disengage from the madness. And, lo and behold....it happened.

Today, our daughter lives in another state. She stays at a hotel. Years ago, I would of thought this as a negative. Today, not so much. We help her minimally. She wants to see a therapist, and we help her get to and from those appointments and to pay for them. IF we help her in any way, it usually involves something medical. I'm ok with this limited contact and this limited help. There is almost no more grief. Almost no more pain. It just is. And, I've moved on...exploring hobbies and praying often.

My prayer for you is that you get some relief from this horrible grief you are experiencing and are able to detach from this madness. I might also add that for a short period of time we went to Families Anonymous and this was a very nice support group of people in very similar situations. All the best.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
My experience is very like Nomad's. I will add a little bit.
All of life on this earth is transitory.
We are not promised a rose garden.
Our children are borrowed from G-d.
If we open our eyes, we see suffering all around us. Why should we be exempt? Why should our children?
My bridge teacher's young son has autism and doesn't speak. My close friend's son in law just died of brain cancer. At 30. Why should I be exempt from suffering?
Each of us, including our children, has lessons to live here on Earth. This is the work of their lives, just as we have our own work to do.
Some of our work is handling being parents. And letting our children do their work.
The lives of the greatest spiritual figures involved great suffering and loss. Some people do not make it through.
But it's impossible to know at this point what the ending will be.
This is where faith comes in. And prayer. And hope. And posting.
 

Acacia

Well-Known Member
I could really use some feedback on how to detach from an adult child with mental issues/addiction. Our son, Josh, 33 yo, is homeless in Phoenix, with no phone, no I.D., and we haven't heard from him in almost three months. Some days I manage to deal with it okay, but then other days I feel like I'm slipping back into a pit of despondency. As a Christian, I know that God is in control; that He loves Josh and wants the best for him; and that only He can do anything more in his life to help. We've done it all; it hasn't worked; and now we CAN'T do anything because we no longer have a way to reach him. (We live in the southeast).
Here's my question: Are there any of you out there who have lost contact with your adult child for a long period of time? How do you deal with the grief and not allow it to overwhelm you?
My 43 year old daughter with mental health/addiction issues cut me out of her life. I love her and always will, but because I chose to stop enabling, she wants nothing to do with me. Twelve step, prayer, and choosing to be grateful for the blessings I do have help me to move on, but I think the grief will always be there for me. You have done everything you can as you said, just as I have. I believe God wants me to be happy, so I try.
 

Beta

Well-Known Member
I agree with you both. The grief never totally goes away. Some days, I do pretty well. Other days, I feel like I can't stand one more minute of not knowing if he's dead or alive. I pray a lot, and I trust that God is in control and that He's working, even though I can't see from my perspective.
There IS a lot of suffering in the world right now, and Copa, you are right--why should we or our children be exempt? I have a lot to be thankful for, and I do see God's goodness in my life in other ways. One day at a time I guess.
 

dragonfly57

New Member
Beta, there's another thing that has helped me. I journal my thoughts, fears, anger. I use nasty words, I let all of my hate at this part of my life spill out on paper. Then, I throw it away. It's for my eyes only.

Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse, no contact from my son or now when he's in a relationship execting me not only to help him, but her as well! My son is 44yo, I'm exhausted and nothing I've tried has helped him.
Yes, some days you're ok and then other days you're despondent. This is grief with no closure as we deal with uncertainty everyday. The things that help me is I pray everyday for the strength to let go and let God work in my daughter’s life. Finding this form has been extremely helpful for me. When I am at a low ebb I will visit and read posts and know I am not alone. Writing my thoughts and feelings is a good release. Just keeping very busy alleviates anxiety, even if it is just housework while listening to music. I have learned to practice self care without the guilt because I have another child and she needs me as well. When I spend time with her I do not think or talk about my daughter with addiction/mental health issues. Hope this helps. Hugs to you.
 

dandelion

New Member
Hi, Beta. I am so sorry to hear you are going through this.

As someone who has been estranged/mostly no contact with my 22 year old son for over four years now, I can say that the grief is always present. In the beginning, it was all I could feel or see or think about. The four years prior to my son turning 18 were hell in our home, and he wouldn’t accept help. His criminal and violent behavior escalated quickly during this time. The only way I have of contacting my son now is via Instagram, and he doesn’t always respond.

What has helped me be able to keep going is making my life bigger than it was when I was playing ‘detective’ and being on call for whatever crisis my son was in (often arrested for robbery) during his teen years. It took a few years for me to get my adrenaline levels and nervous system under control. I already had CPTSD from childhood and this experience made it so much worse.

Some tools that have been helpful have been somatic/polyvagal therapy, having a therapist who understands trauma and personality disorders, finding ways to get back into my body instead of my lizard brain (swimming, restorative yoga), and 12-step groups for codependency.

By learning to take care of yourself, the grief may be lighter to carry over time. I hope this will be true for you.
 
Top