How do you stop living in fear over what could happen to your difficult child?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by lovemysons, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I just had a fairly enlightening conversation with my mother about my middle son...Young difficult child.

    He is currently in jail for breaking probation (spitting at police felony from 3 plus yrs ago) when he put his fist through the windsheild of his wifes car with the grandbabies in the backseat. He got a "Reckless Child Endangerment" charge for that.

    I have no idea how long young difficult child will be in jail for this probation violation (getting rearrested)...But when he gets out I HAVE to have a PLAN.

    He has tried to commit suicide a few times over the last several yrs.
    He is an alcoholic.
    He has emotional/mental illness issues: anxiety depression and mania.

    I know many of us fear the death or long term incarceration of our difficult child's.
    How do you do what it is necessary to help them have self motivation to care about their lives and begin to move forward and take responsibility for themselves?

    I am tired of living in fear of what might happen to my young difficult child.
    I must help him...REALLY HELP HIM...I MUST stop crippling him and being his crutch for life.

    My other 2 children have moved on...they have distanced themselves in one respect or another from husband and my input at this point. But young difficult child could quite possibly be living with husband and I for life if I do not get over my fears and get on with a plan I can stick with.

    Young difficult child is the father of 2 children with one on the way. He must grow up.
    I must stop being afraid of what will happen if I am not there for him.

  2. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I don't know. I am listening for the answer too. Cause I don't even know where to begin...I really wish I could tie my kid up and lock him in a room somewhere so I know he is safe.
  3. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    I feel your pain. Have you tried Al-Anon? I'm learning, through them and using some books, what I can control and what I can't. There is a freedom in that.

    As for what you can control, you can think about what you can do while difficult child is away to secure you and husband....your health, marriage, finances, home, etc. For me, this means I am planning social activities after difficult child leaves for college next week, have a therapy appointment, an Al-Anon meeting, etc. Plus I am having ADT install a security system soon and finding an attorney to rewrite my will. I need to insure if something happens to me, that difficult child won't get assets to use for his failings.

    I wish I knew how to stop worrying...for me, it is a focus and perspective thing. But, I fail regularly at it.

    Is there ANY other option for difficult child other than your home? Is he on medications? Had a recent evaluation?

    To me...saying no can sometimes be the most loving thing possible.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sweetie, there isn't an easy way. You have to hold fast to the knowledge that continuing to support him financially, let him live with you, let him NOT live with the consequences of his actions, will make this so much worse. You MUST see a therapist to help with the codependency that is so very strong between the 2 of you. You were able to let oldest son go and live his life, you were able to trust that your J was such a strong, smart girl that she could handle her life. But with Middle? You have this block that keeps you from seeing how strong he really is.

    He IS strong enough to make it. I KNOW this like I know my name. You know I met him. You know i like him. He isn't just charismatic, he is an amazing person with an incredible mind. Until now he has not HAD to make it. You have allowed him to remain in a child-like state where you and husband provide for him. He goes and parties and drinks and has kids and a wife and whatever else and then comes home to Mommy when it gets uncomfortable or too real for him to handle.

    I know he has problems. Again, I have seen some and have known you quite a while. He also has the skills to figure out how to handle his problems. It isn't easy or fun to make him go and use them, but if he is EVER going to succeed he MUST go out and start to learn to be independent.

    YOU need to sit down and work out exactly what YOU get out of having him be dependent on you, and of being dependent on him. If nothing else, he fills that need for chaos and drama in your life. we all have it to some degree, but some of us need a lot mroe than others. YOU are getting some payout from him being so dependent. I don't say this to be mean or to say you are not a good mom. You are an amazing mom and your love for all of your kids just is as apparent as your nose or eyes or any other part of you. But you and middle son have this bond that isn't really healthy. He turns to you to fix his life when it isn't your place to do so.

    It will not be easy. It is do-able. You have to FIGHT for him by fighting to NOT help him. So counter0ntuitive and SO against what instinct may tell you. But the bond that you have is crippling him. You provide what he MUST learn to provide for himself.

    I grew up able to do a LOT of things my peers couldn't. I cooked, cleaned, did laundry, most tasks involved in running a home by the time I was 14 or 15. NONE of my friends did this stuff, or they were way behind. Heck, my bff from childhood couldn't run the washer until after she was in college for a few months. My mom INSISTED that gfgbro and I BOTH were able to do that stuff. Not just me, both of us. Her mom died when she was a kid and they had a housekeeper who wouldn't take the time to make her learn to do anything. Her dad always wanted a boy and had 3 girls instead and he raised her more like a boy after that. She has described having to call the hotel for help to operate the coffee maker on her honeymoon because NO ONE ever expected her to do it and no one let her learn how. It was too much hassle to let her make mistakes and learn from them. So my mom raised us to do ALL that stuff quite early just in case something happened to her. She wanted us to be prepared to survive in life should she die suddenly. It is NOT the way most of us think, but is IS how I was raised. My kids can do a lot too, because it never occurred to me to NOT have them do all that stuff.

    What would happen to Middle son if you suddenly were not there? I promise that he would survive. It wouldn't be easy, but he CAN do it. He fathered 3 kids now, isn't it time he start acting like a father and not a teenage kid living at home with mom and dad? He is going to spin stories about being hungry and homeless. that is going to hurt and hurt you bad. That is EXACTLY why he will tell you those things. Will they be true? Some, maybe. Not all. He is just very gifted at talking his way into things.

    It is time for him to grow up and for you to face that he isn't fixable BY YOU.

    You keep wanting to FIX him and make him all better and okay. Pretty arrogant, isn't it? I am NOT saying that to be mean or to hurt you. I had to learn it also and it HURT when I first was told that. But it was a hurt I NEEDED to feel to change how I thought and to stop making it okay for Wiz to hurt us. You KNOW how much I love Wiz, and how much it hurt when I had to say he couldn't live with us because it was just too dangerous. I kept him at home with-o intensive treatment far longer than I should have. mostly because I thought I could FIX him.

    the ONLY person who can fix your son is your son. You are just getting into his way. He seems to feel a drive to go down this path and you, sweetie, must let him go ALL the way to the end alone. NOT with-o your love, but with your love being strong enough to let him go and let him learn and grow and fall and fail and succeed and thrive.

    If he keeps coming home to Mommy and Daddy, he will NEVER be the father you much beloved grandbabies need. Focus your energies on them and away from middle son.

    Alabamagirl is right - sometimes saying NO is the most loving response. In this situation, Middle needs to find his own place to stay when he is released. he needs to find his own $$. Every time you give him something you take away something FAR bigger - his self reliance and independence.

    I know you are strong enough to do this. If you can't know that you are strong enough, use my faith IN YOU and IN MIDDLE to lean on until you are. You are BOTH so strong and you CAN handle this.
  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I love you, you know that. Now.....


    He has to help himself. The only plan you can have is how to take care of yourself so you do not get sucked down the same hole he seems to find himself in and so that you are there for your other children. Your family deserves to have a mom who is not constantly consumed with worry over her son who can't seem to figure out how to be a productive member of society.

    This is by far the hardest thing you will have to learn how to do. It takes guts and a lot of ignoring the panic feeling that will come over you in the quiet moments when you think about his future. It takes a support group either from al-anon or family or church friends or here to start learning how to accept the fact that you cannot control him.

    You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it. But you can learn to cope with it.

    I have this hanging on my fridge:

    "We are living the way we choose to live, and they are living the way they choose to live. We didn't make them live this was, they chose it and they are the only ones that can choose to do it differently."

    Some very wise member of this board said that to me when I was in my deepest despair over difficult child living with druggies. I couldn't eat, sleep or ever enjoy life. I finally had to give it up. I had to come to the realization that she may die, that she may never get help, but that I had done all I could and all I could do now was point her in the right direction to help. The rest was up to her. She was drinking, using drugs, living from flop house to flop house, had no job, no money, was stripping in a dance club, was stripping for private poker parties, met guys in the strip club and went to their apartment only to discover they were bad people, was beat up by some punk who told us he now onwed her, it goes on and on.

    I vowed I was going to continue living and put my faith in the rock bottom theory.

    (((((Many hugs)))))

  6. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I understand Signorina. I guess mine is locked up and safe...but still I don't know what the future holds.

    Nice to meet you AlabamaGirl.
    I have tried Al Anon but it's been a number of years. Plus while I was there (long story short) I had a psychotic breakdown. It was all "spiritually based" breakdown if you will: G-d talking to me, hearing people at AA saying things they weren't, Demon look in their eyes, etc. I know I have mental illness and that the pyschotic breakdown was brought upon by bipolar mania: no sleep or food for days, but still I have not been to regular meetings since this happend to me. by the way my oldest difficult child was in prison at that time. I have a VERY hard time when my difficult child's are locked up.
    Good for you for taking care of number one...I need to do this as well.
    No, young difficult child is not on any medications at this time. He abuses pills. Was involved with pain killers for heart condition then came a back condition, now strickly alcohol as I think medicaid got wind of his sub abuse for the pain killers.
    Young difficult child, when hospitalised, only tells them of depression and anxiety...not the whole picture. He gets rxd benzos and antidepressants which I think only make his Bipolar worse. He was dxd Bipolar at age 14 but seems to reject the evidence, notion, that this is his condition. I think it scares him to think he has Bipolar Disorder (like me).
    I hope that saying no will prove to be a loving/progressive act if this is what it comes down to.

    I just spoke with my daughter in law a short while ago. Young difficult child called her today with a prepaid account of some kind. She spoke with him about 15 mins. He told her that he thinks his probation is being revoked and that he may spend a year in jail...but she said she did not understand him well that their connection was not good. He also told her to thank me for the money I sent for commisary and letter and picture of his children. He said Christmas was very lonely and that he especially missed his kids. She also said that young difficult child told her that he is tired of alcohol.
    I reminded daughter in law that these are HIS consequences...that we all tried to prevent anything bad from happening with young difficult child but could not. Was a run-away-train.

    Thanks you two for the care. I have to start believing in my young difficult child.
    I know I know I KNOW that my actions must say to him that I don't believe he can do it or that he is incompetant. But I have been afraid...afraid that he will kill himself or do something again to wind up in jail longer (if we kick him out) etc.
    I have got to stop letting fear dictate my behavior towards young difficult child.
    I so want him to become a productive citizen, a really good providing father/husband, and mostly sober. Not just "dry" but really sober...leaning on a power greater than himself to help him through each day. I can't even give him G-d though. Young difficult child's last discussion of G-d lead me to believe that he believes in Cosmic Evolution (whatever the heck that is/roll eyes) rather than G-d.

  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Hugs, LMS. You know that I know exactly what you're feeling. You also know deep in your heart that you can not continue on as you have's not healthy for you and even worse, it is unhealthy for him.

    I'm sure I sound like "the pot calling the kettle black" because we have not forced difficult child#1 out of our home. There are a few differences between your son and ours. Ours is still hoping that he will get approved for his Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) disability (no, we don't think so but the attorneys and GFGmom encourage him to believe he will get a retroactive check after his next hearing). As a result of that factor he "knows" that it is best for him not to get a job or relocate. I'm eager for that hearing to be scheduled. Once that occurs he will be out on his or lose.

    The biggest problem that I see for both of them is that they are losing their self identity and surely their self confidence. Living with family as peers are moving on has to erode the maturing process that all of us have to experience in order to feel like an adult. Whether the main issue is mental health, addiction, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)'s, or general issues they have to own it and do their best. I know you have tried programs when he was younger, you've tried medications with-o compliance, you've tried almost everything.

    I believe that your difficult child has to know that when he is released he has to go to a halfway house and work on his issues. He doesn't have to do that because he's not welcome in your home. He has to "bite the bullet" and voluntarily sign in to a program that requires work, following rules and learning how to live independently of parents and his own family. If I were you I would begin to compile a list of placement options for him. He has time to think in jail with-o too many interruptions. Personally I think if you take living at home off the table he "may" come to realize that the ball is in his park and it's now or never.

    Basically that is what our plan is for difficult child#1. We are in a holding pattern due to the disability issue and we are thankful that he is (to the best of our knowledge) no longer using drugs. He is a drunk but he very very rarely comes home drunk. He sleeps over at someone else's house and he does not drive. Those, we know, are baby steps. on the other hand I have reached a level of detachment that of course is based on the Serenity Prayer. We can not control their choices and they are the ones who have to pay the consequences of poor ones. Truth be told I miss his company when he is not at home. BUT I'm ready to let him try his wings. I hope you can find peace with your choices too. Hugs DDD
  8. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Oh Susie, Susie, Susie...You know me well.
    It is arrogance. I knew this once before (through AA and Al Anon). I am trying to "save" to "rescue" to "cure" to "fix" arent' I? I am not G-d. Dangit.
    Thank you for believing in us and letting me lean on you until I can get strong enough to fully believe that difficult child can, that he and only he, can.

    So right you are. I cannot help him. My mother tried to tell me this morning that if young difficult child ever succeeds in killing himself that it will purely be by accident. That his previous "suicide attempts" have been crys's for help...No doubt he is crying trying to be the man that I won't let him be (tears).
    This is really going to be very hard. I want my young difficult child to be okay so badly.

    Thank you,
  9. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    To answer the title question, according to my Dad one doesn't stop worrying about your kid(s). That's all I've got. *hugs*
  10. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    No, you do not stop worring but you can stop enabling and obsessing. LMS you have come a long way over the years. You have made good progress. You just need to keep plugging away taking care of yourself. Getting out having fun and no tletting the "stinking thinking" get control of your thoughts again. It is always one day at a time. I understand your reluctance for the al-Anon meetings because of the association with your psycotic break but how about trying CODA? Do you get therapy for your MI? You could address these issues there also.
  11. buddy

    buddy New Member

    You are very brave to look at all of this so honestly. It is inspiring. HUGS for all you are going through.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Ditto, RM...

    The fear doesn't go away - not in my experience, anyway.
    But... we don't have to let the fear drive OUR choices, attitudes and behaviors...

    I think its the title of a book, but I'm learning to like it: "Feel the fear and do it anyway" - its not about recklessness, but about getting on with life.
  13. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    T - I don't think we ever stop living in fear. Depending on the parent, there's fear even with- the easy child's. I can only tell you that in my experience, when I made peace with the fact that I had done everything I knew to do and that I could do no more, I was able to coexist with the fear. I gotta tell you, I had it all planned out, how we were going to handle the logistics of one of us having to go up to the city to identify thank you's body. Morbid, but my worst fear, and one that I thought was not out of the realm of possible during those dark couple of years after he hit 18. But there was absolutely positively nothing more I could do. thank you had to figure it out, *if* he was ever going to figure it out. I could not think of anything more to get him pointed in the right direction.

    I think the hardest thing I've ever done was tell him he couldn't come home when he hit 18 and had no where to go. He hadn't done anything for himself, hadn't prepared, hadn't finished school or gotten a job, was drugging and generally falling apart, yet was still blaming everyone else for his quality of life. I still think my decision was based more in selfishness than anything else, but I simply could *not* go back to living that way, and certainly couldn't put the younger sibs back into that fire.

    I did backslide and asked him to come home after about 8 months, but he made that easy - wasn't ready to give up his "family" (street kids in the city) nor ready to stop the drugs. He left after a haircut and 36 hours.

    We all want our kids to be okay. But if our wanting it was enough to "fix" our difficult children, we wouldn't still be here. They have to want it, and some of our kids have to really hit rock bottom like none of us could even imagine before they can start wanting it too.

    Your mom couldn't fix you, mine sure as heck couldn't fix me. We had to figure it out. And so do our kids. As long as you leave the option open of him living with- you forever, you're giving him an excuse for *not* owning his own life. He's a husband, a father, an adult. It's time for him to step up.

    It's excruciating to watch them stumble and be in pain, and it's incredibly hard not to want to pick them up when they're still making the same bad choices, but I think we *have* to just step back and let them get up on their own. And when they do? I'm all for helping them then, as long as they keep heading in the right direction.

    Hang tough. Hugs to you.
  14. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree, I don't think the fear ever goes away. As well as difficult child is doing, every time the phone rings and we see difficult child's number on the caller ID husband and I groan and when we answer it we ask her what's wrong. When I call him at work he immediately asks me what's wrong. I'm not sure we will ever not worry about her future. I will always feel that she is one step away from disaster.

  15. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I don't think you are the "pot calling the kettle black". I think you are protective of your difficult child son for good reason! What he experienced must have scared you to death! If I were in your shoes I am quite sure I would want to be as supportive.
    My son...did not have the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He just is moving like a turtle through life...has been in no hurry at all in recent years to grow up! Honestly, after he got kicked out of the Army I think he lost his motivation to move forward. I think he has been afraid that he will "fail" again.
    I agree with you and Susie that It is time for me to investigate half-way houses and alternative living arrangements when he is released from Jail.
    Today I will call his probation officer and try to get some info from her on what to expect far as release time period. I will also discuss half-way houses with her and see if she has anything to offer.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. Smile. So you have been watching me through the years huh? I'm glad you see progress. Truth be told I am scared. But I need to be more afraid of not doing anything. Of not helping young difficult child to become (as Susie put it) self reliant and independent. G-d forbid his children have to grow up visiting him at jails...or worse burying him.
    I have to trust in my Higher Power and believe that young difficult child can do this. It is time...for both of us.
    I think your suggestion of a codependency group for me is a good one and I may look into that sometime soon.

    You are one strong lady! I don't think it was selfish of you at all...I think it was self preservation. And...No doubt your difficult child saw this in you! You were a great example of how to survive and push onward trusting that your difficult child COULD do it too! Thank you for the hope.

    Truth be told I am scared to death! I am walking into a dark unknown with young difficult child. I have no idea what will happen, what he will do next, if he will make it.
    But I have to put on a "brave face" and at least pretend in front of him that I think all will be fine...that he can do this. I also know that there are No Guarantees. But what I am doing have not working. My mother also told me that he could kill himself anywhere, at our home while I am at "the casino" or at a homeless shelter or the streets. That I have no control over this.
    I cannot let fear rule the day in our lives forever. Young difficult child surely suffers from my lack of faith in front of him. This is going to be hard for me, very hard. I will lean on you all to get through this. I will listen to your examples with your own difficult child's and I will keep trying to learn to let go and trust that we will all make it to the other side of this "unknown".

    Thank you all for the support, the encouragement, the words of wisdom. Thank you for just taking the time to care. This board is a mother's heart saver.

  16. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I was reading this thread whilst feeling sorry for myself & this miserable situation so many of us share...

    I realize that we we all got clobbered when we were supposed to be in the home stretch of parenting. These were supposed to be the days when the sleepless nights of babydom, the neverending scout meetings, the worries of car keys, grades, broken curfews, broken hearts, etc gave way to pride in our adult kids and a sigh of relief that we were done raising them.

    Who'dda thunk? I'm at the goal line and worried & tormented 1000x more than I was when difficult child was a tantrum throwing tot. Never dawned on me that we could sink so suddenly when we were almost there.
  17. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hear you Sig. It made me so sad watching other people celebrate the milestones of their young adult children's lives, graduating from high school, prom, going off to college, getting involved in good college activities, having fun, building relationships and a future for themselves. The kids difficult child graduated high school with have just started their junior year in college, One more year and they will be out in the world hopefully with good job prospects and a bright future. Mine will still be struggling just to get by and not relapsing.

    I too thought when we got to this point we would be home free. Now my husband has to work much longer than either of us ever hoped just to pay off the bills we are left with because of her and to save enough to live on later. My friends are buying retirement houses and traveling. Until this year we couldn't even go out to dinner and leave difficult child in our home alone.

  18. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I hear you both...Nancy and Signorina.

    Apparently we are supposed to become the "richer" (wiser) crowd in other ways huh, sigh.
    Maybe this will all make sense someday.

  19. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    LMS and all,

    Well this thread is very appropos to me right now as I am right in that spot at this moment. My son will be homeless today on some beach down south. I know without a doubt if he does not come to some epiphany and really get help in some significant way he will end up dead or in jail. At this point jail is sounding pretty good Occupational Therapist (OT) me. I realize I can handle jail. I tear up and my heart drops and I start to lose it a bit when I think about him dying, either by his own hand or by someone elses. I try to remind myself that he has shown in the past a pretty good survival instinct and right now I kind of have to trust that will win out. And if the worst does happen I just have to know I am a survivor and I will get through it somehow.

    I do think that fear of them dying often keeps us wanting to rescue him... it is what makes me want to rescue him. I can understand letting him come live at home to avoid that worse possible scenario. However it is crystal clear to me that at this point rescuing him will not help him. He has hit bottom before and sought help... unfortunately I also think he takes the easy way out. The guy at the first sober house told me... drug addicts always take the easy way out. So I think my son has sought treatment as a way to avoid jail and to avoid being homeless which all made him really miserable... but I am not sure he really made the connection to his actions and jail and/or being homeless. I have to to let him make those connections which may mean letting him live on the streets. If he can come to me and get a solution he will do it. He did have a text convo with me yesterday but it ended after I told him to call the Salvation Army. I think he got I am not rescuing him this time and so the communication stopped. I suspect I will hear from him sometime today when he really has no place to go. And that will be really hard and really awful on me.

    I have today off work so I slept in thinking I better sleep when I know he still has a bed....

    So I am rambling a bit... in answer to your question. I don't think the fear goes away and can be excrutiating but I think the key is to find a way for it not to be debilitating. So for me I have decided I am not going to let my son ruin MY life. He may ruin his own and that will make me incredibly sad but it does not have to ruin my life. I am trying not to think about the worst scenarios because that doesn't help me. I know I have absolutely done all that I can to help him and more... it really is up to him. I can't help him get it together. I can't make him get it. I can't make him turn his life around. It has to come from him. He has to be the one to find the help he needs. And I have to let him find his way without me.

    I am comforted by the fact that I know he will call us if he is in real trouble... it will be because he needs something but he will call. And I am going to try to assume no news is good news when we don't hear from him. I am obsessing a little but I am not letting it completely take over my life.

    Alanon has been a huge help to me. I can undersand your resistance to going back but you are in a different place now, the people there will be different than before. I would not be where I am right now without alanon.... before I Was completely obsessed and possessed with his issues. I have realized I have to go on with my life.

  20. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Wow, Nancy. I really like that. It's so true and sums things up perfectly.

    LMS ~ A counselor once told asked me what my greatest fear was if we kicked difficult child out. I said I was afraid she would die. The counselor replied, "Well, there is a chance that could happen. But if you took the chance and she got better, would it have been worth the risk?"

    Just providing a difficult child a roof over their head doesn't stop their reckless behavior. A former student of mine died a year ago at the age of 26. She was in a horrible car accident that killed her and the driver she was with as well as the driver of the car they hit head on. It was later found that the student and her friend were high on crack and alcohol. She was still living at home at the time. She had started drinking in high school.

    in my humble opinion, It's time to stand your ground and insist on a half-way house or rehab when he is released from jail. Is there any chance he could be court ordered to a half-way house? Most of the people in the half-way house where my difficult child is living are there on a court order. That way he would have to go and couldn't blame you.