How do you cope?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Concerned Mom & Dad, Nov 18, 2016.

  1. Concerned Mom & Dad

    Concerned Mom & Dad New Member

    I just found this site yesterday and it is a lifeline. I have an 18 year old son who suffers from anxiety and depression. I described his issues in detail in a post yesterday. In the last year he has been in an outpatient program for suicide ideation, fired from his job and arrested for stealing cash from employer, caught shoplifting, fired from another job and, last week received a misdemeanor ticket for cannibas possession. On the good side, he did graduate high school and is seeing a therapist. After reading many of the posts on this forum, I see that many of you have been through much more with your kids. Unfortunately, my husband and I are still in the early stages of this journey and I believe it will get worse before it gets better.

    The purpose of this post is a little selfish. I have been trying to reconcile how to cope personally with our situation. I feel constant stress. I retired recently which helps the overall stress level but I still feel like I'm always waiting for the next shoe to drop. I understand the concept of detaichment but I still feel my son is a child developmentally and it doesn't feel right yet to stop protecting him. On the other hand, we have so little control. We have tried hard to get him into school, to steer him to a good job, productive activities etc but for the most part he chooses the opposite. We do not give him money and are conscious of not being enablers. So here are my questions:

    • How and when do you stop seeing the little boy who once loved you and needed you and start seeing the man?
    • How do you deal with friends and relatives who try to be supportive but don't understand and who are maybe even be judgmental of your parenting.
    • How do you cope with the feeling of failure, no matter how unreasonable that is?
    • When is it right to detach?
    I see many of folks on this forum who have been suffering longer than I have and are still seeking the answers to these questions. I realize there are no easy solutions but would appreciate your wisdom.

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  2. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    You are not alone and everything you are feeling is legit.

    Detachment, to me, is a LIFELONG process and is one that I have certainly NOT mastered, despite the INFINITE wisdom of all the people who post on these forums.

    I am a constant reader of this wisdom, hoping to find something that sticks. Pretty much ALL the advice here is spot on, but DOES IT CHANGE YOU? For me, no, because I keep on effing up. But that never diminishes what the posters have to say. There is so much pain, knowledge, experience, etc , in the posters' expressions, that, if you keep reading, you will surely find some word, phrase, story , that resonates with you. And then you build on that .

    To your point, I have no wisdom. I keep making the same mistakes over again. Most people , even those that I love, are shaking their heads and wondering when I'm gonna "wise up". But they haven't walked in my shoes, so they don't have the right to TELL me what to do. They can make suggestions and be supportive, but they don't know what it's like, so they need to think about what they are saying and who they are saying it too...

    But please, keep reading! You will find a treasure chest of knowledge and a new and different -and HOPEFUL, (sometimes :) information her.

    There's no place like it!
  3. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    There is nothing selfish about trying to reconcile and cope with your situation. It's healthy that you are striving to find some answers in how to deal with all of this.

    My son will be 35 in a couple of months and he still behaves like a 14 year old on so many levels. My son refuses to own the choices that he has made that have led his life down a very difficult road. He wants to blame everyone else. My son is a grown man that has not grown up. Many of the adult difficult children that are discussed here share this trait.
    If our adult difficult children were responsible in that they could truly take care of themselves without chaos, drama, drugs, sponging off mom and dad, etc....... then they wouldn't be adult difficult children, they would be responsible adults and we wouldn't be here discussing them.

    We have no control over what our adult children do. We can suggest and even beg them to behave in a more responsible manner but in the end, they will do as they please.

    1. For me it was coming to the realization that my sweet little boy was gone. The sweetness he once possessed had been replaced with bitterness and anger. While I see him as an adult, I still do not see him as a responsible adult. I will never understand why my son has chosen the lifestyle he has but I have learned to accept it. Accepting it has allowed me to move on with my life.
    2. I found having some "canned answers" worked best for me. When a family member or friend says something like "you should do this or that" you can simply say "thank you for your input, I'll consider it" As for those who choose to pass judgment, there is nothing you can do. You should never have to defend your actions as a parent to anyone, not family or friends. Unless someone has walked in our shoes, lived in our homes and dealt with the chaos our difficult children create, they will never understand.
    3. It's called coming out of the FOG - Fear, Obligation, Guilt. There are no perfect parents, we have all made mistakes but we have also done the best we could. The parents who come to this site are good parents that love their kids. We taught our children right from wrong, we instilled morals and values, we loved them. There comes a point in our children's lives that they start making decisions on their own. We as parents did not fail. There are many stories of adults who were raised in total dysfunction who go on to live very responsible, respectful lives.
    4. Only you can answer that. It took me quite a few years. I probably would have done it sooner had I found this site years ago. My husband and I have given our son more second chances than I can remember. We have set him up in places to live, paid the rent, bought the food, the clothes, paid for everything and all our son had to was get a job. He could get jobs but holding onto them was another story. I had enough "several times" but would get sucked back into his chaotic vortex. Detachment takes time, it's like peeling back the layers of an onion. 2 steps forward, 3 back, 5 steps forward, 1 back and so on. Here is a link to the article on detachment that is at the top of PE forum. It offers some very practical tips on how to detach. Also, detaching does not mean that we stop loving our children, it just means that we will no longer allow them to hold our emotions hostage.
    I'm really glad you found us here.
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  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Even if he is emotionally a person like 12, he is a man, will be treated like one legally and you can't protect him because you have no rights to make decisions for him. I mean, my dad is 92 and acts emotionally 12. That doesn't make either 12.

    There is really nothing you can do but to detach. You can not protect a 30 year old man even if he is emotionally young. He is legally in charge of himself. Trying to save him will only hurt both of you.

    I'm so sorry.​
  5. pacific ocean

    pacific ocean Member

    Hi. I am new here who posted our situation recently. We have a college age Difficult Child (female), 20, whom we adopted as an infant.

    Because she was always a Difficult Child, I worked minimum. But I've realized it wasn't working and now my husband and I had to take a very big step, a detachment. We didn't know how we would start but we have come to the point we should not wait any longer. So I increased my work hours and that seemed to be working okay, less time to think about our Difficult Child. Yes, I still cry occasionally if the baby photos of our Difficult Child came into my sight but I am trying hard to tell myself the detachment is for all of us.

    These are exact questions we had and seeing replies of your thread will be a good reminder for us.

    I feel encouraged.

    It's been very hard, though...
  6. UKMummy

    UKMummy Member

    What I notice most is the number of post from parents that mention mental health issues and also cannabis use. I'm constantly wondering if my son uses cannabis because of his mental Heath issues or if the issues are there because of the cannabis use.
    I don't think I can separate the two. I don't tolerate the cannabis use with my son. When he reaches out my answer is always stop smoking weed. Your life will get better if you stop putting that c**p into your body. He hates that this is always my answer and would rather not speak to me at all right now. I can't sympathise with any situation that he's in because I feel it is all caused fundamentally by cannabis use.
    My advice to you would be to read this posts daily. Post yourself when you feel the need but otherwise read, every day. I cannot tell you the comfort and support I have had from this forum by being on here every day. This site is my medication. The wisdom, kindness and support is priceless. There are some regular members that literally have helped me through horrible times just by reading their words. words that weren't even aimed at me but we can all take something from them because we all know what it is to raise a child that hasn't turned into the person we thought they would. There is no judgement here. Just a whole bunch of hurt parents that love their children so much.
  7. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Welcome to the forum, Concerned Mom and Dad,

    I am so sorry for what you are going through, and we're glad you're here.

    Yes, that is good and especially the fact that he is willing to go to a therapist. My son's rapid descent (also had depression and anxiety) began after he graduated from h.s. In some ways I'm thankful for that, in other ways, he was considered an adult and it made everything much more frustrating for us. It was hard to help, hard to get information, hard to intervene due to his legal adult status and privacy laws. However, I think him being "of age" helped me as I started learning to detach (which took years of enabling first), because I could "rest in the knowledge" that he was considered an adult, even though his emotional maturity was about that of a 14 year old. Like SWOT always says---and this helped me---there are young men and women going to war at age 18.

    Today, I want you to know that my Difficult Child has 2.5 years of steady, forward progress. He is now 27 years old. He works full time plus as an electrician, pays his own bills, was just evaluated at work as "outstanding," is sweet and kind and appreciative.

    But we spent 6 years of pure H_ll with him--- acting awful, mean, hateful, stupid, self-destructive, stealing, lying, high and messed up and drunk, no responsibility for himself, homeless multiple times, in rehab multiple times, in jail multiple times, wouldn't listen or accept help or do anything positive to help himself. He knew it all.

    Things can get really worse before they get better, even after you stop enabling and you create healthy boundaries and you start working on yourself. We never completely broke off communication but there were times I had to set really strong boundaries and only talk to him once a week on a specific day for 10 minutes. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I was very depressed myself for long periods of time.

    Please know that we understand. We can only do the very best we can. When we learn differently and can be ready to change, we will do differently and we will change. We are only human. Also this: One wrong move (or 10) from you will not be "the fatal flaw" that sinks him. You and I aren't that powerful in their lives. We are very important and very influential, but there are many other influences that are greater. This is a key truth that took me a long time to grasp. After all, I am his mother who loves him more than anyone right?

    We're here for you. Hugs this morning.
  8. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    We all struggle with how to handle our own feeling s on a daily basis. Then you throw other people's judgement, feelings, and suggestions in... And it's not easy.

    I simply give people as little info as Possible.... it's just plain no ones business.

    I go thru days where I cry out of sadness, frustration... And even joy.

    I'm not sure about weed actually causing mental illness.. I think it's a self medicator that makes them believe it's soothing, until for some it isn't and down the road they go.

    I still see the loving boy... He still is, we have never seen agression or hate. But, I can. No longer mother a child... I have to step back and remember he is 20. He lives with us.. And we are on a road of repair.

    Your not alone.. Or son has a journey in front of him, but we do too.... And he is not in the middle of ours...

    Your not alone... And there is no quick fix.. Darn!
  9. Concerned Mom & Dad

    Concerned Mom & Dad New Member

    Thank you all for your responses. I have read all of your postes several times and will take your advice to heart.
  10. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    Yes, so true. This forum is daily therapy and encouragement. We are all in this together. It is a great relief to know we are not alone, and that there is no condemnation of ourselves. Thank you to everyone for all the wise input and sharing comfort.
    Stay with us Concerned Mom&Dad. One day at a time.
  11. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I recall that our son, who is actually NOT our problem child, went through a very tumultuous time at ages 17 and 18. He is doing very well today, but we incorporated a lot of therapy and tough love.

    Our daughter is the difficult child and went through multiple difficult periods, but those years were also most unpleasant.

    Periodically, in order to cope with our Difficult Child, my husband and I saw a therapist, NOT due to marriage difficulties, but in order to discuss various strategies because caring for an emotionally or mentally ill individual is profoundly draining.

    I also saw a therapist privately off and on.

    My husband and I learned to take little mini vacations. They were life savers!!!!!!

    You asked specifically:

    • How and when do you stop seeing the little boy who once loved you and needed you and start seeing the man?
    • How do you deal with friends and relatives who try to be supportive but don't understand and who are maybe even be judgmental of your parenting.
    • How do you cope with the feeling of failure, no matter how unreasonable that is?
    • When is it right to detach?

    1. With our daughter, I think I had to grieve that LOSS that she was not the person I had hoped she would be. It's a little different in our situation, because she has been ill since childhood. But, I think no matter how you look at it, it's a loss, there is grieving process, an awareness of reality and a push to go forward.
    2. OMG! RE: friends/relatives/judgment. Age old important questions. This usually takes time. For a very long time time, the way we "handled it," is that we had several levels of information we put out there. We told extremely close friends the truth (one or two people), most people a cleaned up version, and some people either nothing or what they absolutely HAD to know. Not too many judged. In due time, we discovered that people down the road realized that their judgement of us was foolish and needed to be suspended.
    3. I still sometimes feel like a failure...but rarely. My husband often reminds me that we did the best we could and that our daughter would like be far worse off had we not done the very best we could. I do feel like there were times we put in 110% and I can tell you from personal experience it is dangerous to one's well being to put 110% into anything!!!!
    4. I started to detach somewhat when my child turned 18, but more fully when she turned 21. I felt that I should consider being more present in her life since she had / has special needs. But ,the bottom line is detachment is more than that. It is about letting her make her own decisions and letting her be accountable for those decisions and removing my psyche from all of that baggage. I still have my moments...but it is significantly better. I think it's almost always the right time to detach, especially once they turn 18.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    What a brilliant post, Nomad.

    This is the only piece of your post I am turning around in my head. I have had a difficult time with detaching, for so many reasons. I know I am better than I was, but by the same token, I am again very, very involved in how my son is living his life. After a significant period of time where I detached objectively and physically--very little contact, no searching for him, no calling him, when he called--I would not talk--you know he has been home for most of the past 10 months.

    And if anything, I re-attached. And I recognize that the detaching I did, in the way I did it for many years--was really running away.

    Nowadays, I want to support my son. And even though it is extremely difficult on M and myself, harder on him of late--we do not see ourselves as pulling back.

    But I am changing, and we are changing our game plan. I have gotten beyond much of my anger, and I am able to be more loving, and rooted in my love for my son. More humble--I am. More able to spell out conditions and boundaries, from a neutral not defensive and demanding space.

    And M is becoming the bad cop. He now sees that both of us cannot cede at the same time. That my son sees this as weakness, as an opportunity. One of us has to be tough, demanding, and borderline rejecting--or my son will eat us up alive.

    But my son seems to be responding to my humility and greater stability and my willingness to give up power and control while I maintain boundaries and conditions.

    It is complex. Everybody else says it, but I will say it too. This is not easy.
  13. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    You've received very good advice on everything but thought I'd add my two cents in on this one. This was a HUGE problem for my wife. She still has difficulty reconciling who our son is versus who she expected him to be. But what has helped her start that journey, helped her start seeing the man instead of the child, was to remove the pictures of him from his childhood. Not destroyed, just taken off display, especially at work. When you look at them every day, it makes it difficult to remember that's not who they are anymore.
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    The part of Nomad's post about this was too difficult and painful for me to think about and more difficult still to comment upon.

    While I never had specific and spoken expectations for my son--except the elephant in the living room, which of course, is a huge and presumptuous expectation. But I had defined myself entirely through college (looking back, a crime against myself, really--because at the core of me, I had talents in art and dance--but did not have the confidence to embrace and live from and through this, that is, to define myself.

    And now that I think about it, what my son is doing here through his travails is defining himself...and I am hysterical with fear, not faith, that he will work through eventually his false steps and his own limits, to find and to be in the world who he is.

    Something that I am only now really, in the past decade having the confidence and knowledge of reality, to do.

    So I will say now, after writing this post, that the bearing of what we bear, and the coping with it, in retrospective is largely for me now, a spiritual endeavor to learn to live from the core of me, my true life and self, whatever that will come to be manifested, and to express that and work from that.

    Back to the difficult question, the reality of the man compared to the baby boy. My own child was an angel in appearance and in his soul. An exquisitely beautiful and kind-hearted child. Honey blonde curls. He could have been in a fresco. And into adulthood he was gorgeous.

    Now he walks our city face and head covered with a hoody well over his eyes. He is consumed with hatred of how he looks and who he is at his core.

    While appearance is not the important thing, it is something concrete and always there--cannot be hidden, really. But my own son has the need to obliterate himself, to some extent or another.

    Words I used earlier in the post: to manifest, to live from the core self, to express g-dliness, through g-d given talents and an intrinsic love and ardor--and played out by my son as self-hatred and self-negation.

    So, there I said the worst of it. The hardest kernel inside of it. I heard a word the other day, in relation to my own struggle. The word: containership.

    That my struggle now was something about the persona that is big enough and powerful enough to take in what I may now be. That my own suffering and struggle now, was one not so much of the manifesting but one more of packaging.

    I am assuming here, because the conversation in which the word containership was used, was cut short, but I will continue musing what might have been the conversation, had it continued.

    Each of us has an essence, a spirit, a soul--each with highly personal meanings, whether we use those words or not. Me? Almost never did I conceive of myself in such a way, except tangentially, like "no spirit" or "high spirits."

    But our exterior personas and our appearances are containers for our spirits, souls, personalities, temperaments, essences, etc.

    And those latter things are who we are. The elements that are contained by our names, and our physiques and our faces, and our styles, and our personas--which change throughout our lives, until they are put to rest, through death.

    So what I am getting at here is those babies were really souls, spirits, on their life journeys, even then. While it can be said by others (not me) that they were never really ours (just loaners, from G-d), that is not the case for me. My baby and child was my own true love. And is still that.

    What has shifted is his own ability and right to determine containership. And he has made such very, very limited and very, very marked, in the sense of stigmatizing. And while I focus on what this mean, why, how come, who's responsibility, what can be done, changed, stopped...what is happening here in my and by him is a working out of a life on his own terms. He is literally living by working out in the depths of him, who he is spiritually, the quality of his soul, the essential struggle and meaning that defines his life and will define him with purpose and integrity.

    This is soul work. And if I write it out like this, I respect it.

    Those photos captured a moment of time, and a moment of the heart. The baby photos. On the way to a life lived. There was never the presumption by any of us that we could define a spirit or a soul of an adult person.

    When written like that we recoil from this.

    Ladies and gentleman. More and more I realize that our work on CD is a way to talk about our own deepest yearnings and our own deepest sense of who we are and have been and want to be.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I cope by always remembering that even our own kids are not us and likely will not share all of our wants and needs and do not come to us to please our needs. I was always good with this and let my kids develop their own ways.

    My one son who is not nice and abusive is a bitter pill, and I don't accept his behavior, but I can't change him so I acknowledge the truth of this and do not allow it to dominate my life.

    I do feel having three other loving kids and a great husband helps me accept, however I never did have strong preconceived notions of how any of my kids should turn out. I accept any normal, nice person and am blessed to not feel that my kids are successful, say, only if they finish college or make lots of money.

    I think that letting go of outcome of any other person is mandatory for us to be happy. I cope this way with my kids. I still wish vaguely that my son was nicer, but I won't let it ruin my life.

    Hugs and lots of love.
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  16. Mamacat

    Mamacat Active Member

    I opened "the Language of Letting Go" this morning accidentally to the page for Dec. 5. My eyes fell on the title Difficult People. I think it's very appropriate for the discussion here and if it's OK, I'd like to share it.

    Few things can make us crazier than expecting something from someone who has nothing to give. Few things can frustrate us more than trying to make a person someone he or she isn't; we feel crazy when we try to pretend that person is someone he or she is not. We may have spent years negotiating with reality concerning particular people from our past and our present. We may have spent years trying toget someone to love us in a certain way, when that person cannot or will not.

    It is time to let it go. It is time to let him or her go. That doesn't mean we can't love that person anymore. It means that we will feel the immense relief that comes when we stop denying reality and begin accepting. We release that person to be who he or she actually is. We stop trying to make that person be someone he or she is not. We deal with our feelings and walk away from the destructive system.

    We learn to love and care differently iin a way that takes reality into account.

    We enter into a relationship with that person on new terms--taking ourselves and our needs into account. If a person is addicted to alcohol, other drugs, misery, or other people, we let go of his or her addiction; we take our hands off it. We give him or her life back. And we, in the process, are given our life and freedom in return.

    We stop letting what we are not getting from that person control us. We take responsibility for our life. We go ahead with the process of loving and taking care of ourselves.

    We decide how we want to interact with that person, taking reality and our own best interests into account. We get angry, we feel hurt, but we land in a place of forgiveness. We set him or her free, and we become set free from bondage.

    This is the heart of detaching in love.

    Today I will work at detaching in love from troublesome people in my life. I will strive to accept reality in my relationships. I will give myself permission to take care of myself in my relationships., with emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual freedom for both people as my goal.

    In my heart, it was no accident that I opened to the wrong day. I hope this brings some peace and acceptance. We all deserve a rest. May your Thanksgiving week be filled with all good things.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Mamacat, that is stated brilliantly.

    Those who can not let go of how our loved ones should be, as opposed to the reality of accepting who they are, past and present posters, seem to be the ones who can't move on. If one can't say to oneself,"I have no control over ABC, but I am happy with myself and have to stop trying to control ABC" one can die miserably. And the loved one has not benefited from our nagging or out misery.

    It is a big lose/lose for them...npne of us need to suffer. I hope nobody here suffers forever.
  18. Snow White

    Snow White Temporarily in the Magic Kingdom

    Welcome, Concerned. I'm just trying to catch up on posts from the weekend. You've already received such great responses (and resource material). I've learned that there are no 'wrong' feelings when it comes to dealing with our children. We don't always approach things from the same angle or at the same time.

    We've been working with our daughter's mental health issues since very early childhood. She's had the best resources/treatment possible but once she hit 18 years of age, she walked away from all the mental health services she was entitled to. At that point, we had to make the decision to not allow her to live in our home anymore. But we continued to support (enable) her for 7 years, rationalizing that each support of her "dramas" would be the last one and that she would figure things out. I came back to this site recently and have finally conceded that we need to detach in order live with some sanity.

    • I don't travel back to the past as much anymore. My daughter's behaviour is angry, devious and malicious - so much so that the little girl I cuddled in a rocking chair doesn't exist anymore. She is making adult decisions and I am powerless to intervene.
    • I think we've all encountered the friends & relatives who don't understand and/or are judgmental. We keep things pretty close to the heart when it comes to discussing details about our daughter. We have a small family to begin with, so that helps. Our immediate circle of friends is well-acquainted with our circumstances and have never judged us to our face.
    • I'm still trying to get over the feeling of failure. That is probably the reason it has taken so long to detach. Fear, obligation and guilt are huge barriers that we all need to move past. Posting here and reading others' posts is so helpful to me. There is no judgment - just solid advice and big shoulders to lean on!
    • Only you will know when it is right to detach - and it might not happen all at once...everyone approaches it from their comfort level. I have tried to detach before, only to backslide because of F.O.G. It's like quitting an addiction for me. The first few times is tough but then I see the difference in my daughter's response and I know that it is having a positive effect. The world hasn't come crashing down on daughter's world. In fact, she is managing quite well without my enabling.
    Your son is seeing a therapist and I think that's great! My daughter won't. My husband and I are going to go for therapy - perhaps that is something that would help you and your husband??

    {Hugs to you}