Hoping my visit isn't taking us all backwards


Active Member
I am in Colorado right now and I have, for the most part, loved what I've seen from both of my boys.

But now I'm starting to feel that my presence here is weakening the situation.

My easy child is so busy with work and school that I'm hardly seeing him. That's good and healthy.

My difficult child-I am seeing all the time. I am taking him to drug tests, tb tests, places where he can fill out job applications, back to the shelter where he sleeps, hanging out at his dad's apartment, etc.

Even HE is saying, "I'm getting soft", because he is not taking the bus and is getting used to having me around for company.

I have only been here 4 days! I am not sure how long to stay because I haven't seen my sons for a year. But I feel that my presence and availability is detrimental to the progress of my difficult child. It's reminding him of how easy life can be with me-always having his needs taken care of...

So I'm thinking that 5 more days at the most is a good balance. I think he learned lots of valuable stuff about himself in jail and now I feel I'm helping to UNDO that! How effed up is THAT?

Does this make sense?

What do you think, guys?


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Well, I agree with your feelings to a degree. When we are all so new at the behavior it is so easy to slip back into old habits. I might even shorten it more then 5 more days if you are already feeling that your presence is undermining the good that your difficult child has accomplished.

Use the rest of your time and money to go do something just for YOU. Go visit a girlfriend or see the Grand Canyon, whatever you want.

I think more importantly, your vacation should not be about taking him to drug tests and to his appointments, it should be about what makes you happy and the things you want to do. Whether you leave or stay, I would practice my boundaries even though you're on vacation, limit the time spent doing for your difficult child, try to have FUN and do what YOU want to do.

Be clear about what it is you want to do, if there is any resentment, or annoyance or irritation I would limit those activities. Use it as an opportunity to practice new behavior, new boundaries, more saying no, doing more for YOU.

Have a good time, don't be a taxi, or a beast of burden, be a playmate and have a good time.


one day at a time
BG, you know what they say about fish and visitors....:cool-little:

Seriously, I agree with RE, practice your good boundaries even while you are there, and it's so easy to go back into old patterns. I do that when I go to my parents' house even now and they are 82 and I'm 57. The parent-child dynamic is hard to break.

But, you can do it by keeping things simple.

Like: Hey tomorrow I'm going to do a girls day all day, so I'll catch you with you for dinner. Have a great day, difficult child!

And then, make yourself absent, no matter where you go or what you do.

Set yourself a boundary for the rest of the visit, like I'm only going to connect with difficult child for breakfast, lunch or dinner every day, nothing more---just 1.5 hours of a visit. Let him do his thing, and you do your thing.

And...maybe 5 more days is too many?

I think his comment about getting soft is important to keep in mind. I know you love seeing him and easy child, but we want our kids to have their own lives and schedules and we just pop in for a bit on their day---not take up their whole day.

SO's parents are here. They got here Wednesday afternoon, flew in from IL, and aren't leaving until Monday afternoon. It's way too long a visit, quite frankly. His stepdad is on oxygen and basically can't do anything that requires more than 20 steps at a time.

They are driving him nuts.

Go do your thing, BG---make it a vacation for YOU, not just a visit-the-kids.

Warm hugs, keep sharing with us. Safe travels.


Active Member
Thanks, ladies.
The trouble is that I don't know anyone here in Colorado. I really don't have a lot of money to spend, either, so I can't go hog wild.
I'm staying at my ex's apartment (easy child lives here also) and difficult child is hanging out here. Normally he doesn't stay long because he doesn't feel welcome (past isssues, which I totally understand) so while my ex and easy child have been working, he has been taking advantage of being in this apartment. He says he loves being able to use the laptop (he could do that at the library) and just being able to hang out and that he knows when I go he can drop by, but not stay.

He also says he will be very lonely when I'm gone because he just wanders around all day-he has to be out of the shelter between 7am and 7pm. I realize that some of this is emotional blackmail because I hate the idea of him being lonely and unfocused. So I'm struggling with the knowledge that he'll be doing that.

But let me just process here-he is theoretically looking for a job. He has put 2 applications in while I've been here. He has TWO felonies, so I don't know how likely anyone is to hire him. Then again there's a call center that has been recommended to him and he hasn't been there yet. He DOES have one friend (from jail) who has a house and I think he sometimes goes there.

If he messes this up he will do 3 years in PRISON. He seriously has been thinking that maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Really. I just am afraid he is losing hope -doesn't have many coping skills, other than diving into the bottle or drugs. I just wish I could infuse some optimism into him.

Am I on the slippery slope of enmeshment, again?

I really have to sort out my OWN life! I just took early retirement but need to find another job. As I can't be here in Colorado (nowhere to live and it probably would lead to more codependent behavior on my part) I need to get back to Illinois. I feel I'm avoiding MY reality and skewering HIS by hanging around...

Does that sound like it might be the case?


one day at a time
Am I on the slippery slope of enmeshment, again?

It sounds like you are BG. He has to figure it out on his own. Remember? You have been there done that. It didn't work, a million times over. I was told this week by someone in AA who has a ton of sponsees that there are lots of jobs available for felons, but they will have to connect with the people that can direct them to those jobs, like AA folks, shelter navigators, etc. There is a ton of help out there for all kinds of things that our difficult children grapple with, but they have to ask for that help and then they have to follow the advice and follow through.

It cannot happen through us, BG. It's not a good vibe, for a mommy to be trying to facilitate a grown man doing what he needs to do. Not healthy for either of them.

I so understand your fear about him going to prison. My difficult child also has two felonies and if he gets arrested one more time he will have to serve his original sentence which was 4 years.

But we can't do one thing to prevent that, BG. They, and only they, can determine what will happen next.

feel I'm avoiding MY reality and skewering HIS by hanging around...

Yes. Ask yourself: Has the visit gone on long enough? I think that is what you are really saying, but you are reluctant to go.

For today, I think if you have to sit in Starbucks for the afternoon and read a magazine, you need some space and distance from him. And he needs that from you so he can do whatever is next.

Being with him like you are won't keep him straight, BG.

This isn't about spending a lot of money or you having people to hang out with. It's about leaving that apartment, locking the door behind you, heading off to do SOMETHING/ANYTHING on your own, and telling difficult child you'll meet him for dinner.

I know it is hard, and you don't get to see him much, etc., but you are on shaky ground for the both of you and some space, time and distance is always healthy.

Give it a try, just for one day, and see. Warm hugs.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Well, you have little money, the reasons you are staying seem to all be about what you can do for your difficult child and you need to sort out your own life. I would say that you are on that slippery slope.

You staying or you leaving is NOT going to be the deciding factor in your sons future. We parents tend to believe we can make those kinds of differences, but, we can't. Whatever he is going to do, he will do in the next 5 days or in the next year, it won't be about how long Mom stayed.

You don't have a lot of money to spend, so it seems prudent to leave early, spend less in Colorado and use your money for more practical things that are all about what YOU need.

I don't think you are avoiding your reality, exactly, since it is a vacation to see your sons..............however, knowing you need to find another job right now for your own well being and now having said, TWICE that you believe you are "skewering his reality by hanging around" I think your intuition is speaking loudly and you should listen to it. Leave early, focus on your own needs, use your money on yourself.

Weren't you going to go to Australia to live with your best friend? If that is still in the cards, then focus on that future for YOU, you've retired and you know what? This time is all about YOU. YOU. Your sons are all fully formed adults, for better or for worse, and parenting is now officially OVER. It's time for YOU to go have your life and enjoy it.


Well-Known Member
I had an experience yesterday which made me think and I'd like to share it with you, blackgnat. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but maybe it will give you a different perspective.

I was thinking of visiting my easy child for a week or more in August to help with the baby. That means leaving MY home and staying in hers, which is not 100% comfortable for me. I like my own things, my own way of being able to do whatever I like in my home without worrying about others, and I feel odd in even my daughter's house for too long. Then SHE talked to me about how awkward it would be if I stayed too long. Teasingly she said, "I'll tell you when I can't stand you being around anymore." We then grew serious and talked about how shorter visits were better because of the "I need my owns pace" issue and my daughter really wants to do most of what she can for her baby, even if she is very tired. We decided on more, but shorter visits.

I think most adult children and even many adult parents want to have good ongoing relationships with each other, but don't want to smother one another. That made me think about how abnormal it is that 36 would be thrilled if I actually were able to move into his house to take care of everything for him. His thinking is not the norm. I wouldn't do it anyway because he is hard to live with and I have a family here in Wisconsin, but he is the only one out of my children who would really love for me to be around to "mother" him. And he is the unhealthy one.

I think it wouldn't be a bad idea for you to think about how long you want to stay and when you want to return home, to your own domain, and continue to let difficult child deal with his life. There are places where felons can go to find jobs. I am not sure where. Maybe he can ask his parole officer. That will look/sound good for him too...he is being serious about work. If you want to stay, stay but hold back on the mothering. But it is your life, not your kid's lives, and you stay as long or as short as you like.

Hugs and good luck! :)


Active Member
Thanks for sharing that, MWM! I do agree that shorter visits are better-I probably should have left yesterday as I am becoming hyper aware that I'm starting to get on their nerves and vice-versa. They just need to get on with their own lives and me being here is producing some feelings of guilt, I think, like "Well, I want to do my own thing, but Mom is here, so we need to spend the time with her..." I have even had two fights with easy child and we don't normally do that, so to me I have reached the point where I feel FINE about going!

Of course, the goodbyes will be hard, as they always are, but that's just part of life. I am much more detached than I was this time last year, when I brought difficult child out here. Of course, his future is just as uncertain, but the authorities have quite a tight rein on him so he has a lot to lose.

I saw flashes of the old him yesterday, when he got a letter from court telling him he had to pay a fine for one of his misdeamenors. He was raging and ugly and foul mouthed and grouchy on the ride back to the shelter and was really saying some horrible things. I decided that I am absolutely NOT interested in hearing and seeing that kind of behavior. Then when I got back to the apartment, easy child and I had our fight and I thought, "well THiS cements it". I do NOT belong in this environment. I had thoughts of moving out here for a while, just so I could be near them (I know, right?) but it's really NOT appropriate, especially at this formative stage of their adult lives.

difficult child has handed in two applications and has two more to fill out but I highly doubt he will. I believe you are right about getting help with jobs from his probation officer-he is also part of a community services program where they help them with that kind of thing. I'm just not sure that he wants to work, despite his assurances to the contrary. The PO helped him to fill out his SSI form today and I'm sure he'd be over the moon if he could live off THAT money.

I met the difficult child's ex girlfriend's mother (that takes some figuring out!) yesterday for coffee. I wanted to meet her and thank her in person for all she has done for difficult child. We had a nice chat and discovered some things we hadn't known about the situation. One of those things is that difficult child and girlfriend are back in touch, though neither of us is supposed to know about this. Neither of them has revealed this to their mothers (i.e. us!)and difficult child has resolutely denied that he has contacted her or seen her. To me, no surprises there. It's something about going back to the source-I KNEW he would do it. But I have no control over that. Or anything else, for that matter.

The thing is, we talked yesterday and she wants to meet me again, without difficult child knowing. I agreed, but I have no idea why she feels a second meeting is necessary. To me, we said everything we needed to say. I feel that she is very much like me, an enabler, but I feel I am further on in the process of detachment. Certainly not there yet and I would certainly slip back if I were to remain or relocate here to Colorado.

The ONLY reason I'm staying is that PCs best friend, whom I had lunch with the other day, wants me to meet his mother as he feels we would get along famously. He invited us for dinner but the only time he can do it is tomorrow evening. Being a people pleaser, I said yes, but what I REALLY want to do is leave here tomorrow morning at about 6am and begin my arduous journey back to Illinois.

I know this part of myself is just trying to please easy child and I wonder if I have the backbone to say I've changed my mind...I cleaned his bathroom and did some laundry yesterday and just thought "OMG, all I'm doing here is trying to prove that I AM a good mother and am overcompensating for the fact that I heaped all my attention on the problems of difficult child while they were growing up and easy child had to kinda follow along..."



one day at a time
Oh BG, I know you are enjoying seeing them both, even though. I'm sorry they are being bratty and difficult child-like, but it will make it easier for you to go back home.

I'm just not sure that he wants to work, despite his assurances to the contrary.

I firmly believe 100 percent that our difficult children can get a job----today----if they want one. I have never seen so many help wanted signs in my life. I know my difficult child has two felonies----but I have been told by multiple people that there are many jobs for felons but you have to ask questions, work through other people who know what companies hire (like shelters, AA people, etc) but it can be done for sure.

My difficult child has been on the street for nearly a month and still has no job and no place to live. This is his choice and his decision, and I'm not going to talk about it with him, really, except to make polite noises about it if the subject comes up. I have no tolerance for any of the excuses.

People basically do exactly what they want to do.

Let us know what you decide to do next, and how the trip home is for you.

You're starting another chapter in your life---and that chapter is titled: All about ME!

:):):) Make it a very loooooonnnnnnggggg chapter! You deserve all of the good things, BG.