How to know? disengage or help?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JulieAnn, May 20, 2015.

  1. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    Hi there. I’ve been lurking around your forum for about a year now.
    I made my first little comment today. Baby steps….. :)
    You have helped me more than you know and I know now that I’m not alone. You’re all so open and honest about what we’re all going through.

    Ok, here goes. I’m a very private person, so other than my closest friend, no one knows what’s going on.
    My son, 34 y/o. I don’t know what’s wrong or why he is choosing this life. He lives out west - I’m east. 5 years since I’ve seen him. I’m afraid to visit.
    He has either been squatting, living on the street or couch surfing. He says it isn’t drugs, that it’s depression. I don’t buy it.
    He’s always had problems, issues. When he was younger, like 9 through about 14 y/o, we tried several therapists and psychiatrists. Some prescribed anti depressants, some did not. It wouldn’t matter, he wouldn’t take them.

    Last time I saw him, I flew him and his girlfriend out here for his half sister’s college graduation. What a disaster. All they did was sleep, couldn’t manage to be ready on time for anything. I put them in a hotel room and not one day later, it looked like a hurricane had been through it. My parents, his grandparents, were there also. I was embarrassed but kept my cool and tried to work around them.

    I don’t know……I’m so sad that he has such a difficult time. Nothing has ever been easy for him. He grew up with advantages. Not spoiled (well, maybe a little :)) I was a single parent, worked hard, sometimes 2 jobs at a time - I told him that I would put him through college, just don’t waste my money. He never went. I should have pushed harder. He wouldn’t hear of going into the service either…."Oh No! 2 Years is sooo long!!” He left home at 19. Then out west probably 10 years ago. I used to send money when the electricity or water was shut off, a month of rent now and then and more than the occasional car payment. He could never manage to keep a job because he couldn’t get there on time. Over the years he lost his car to repossession, his license due to tickets. He never takes action to fix anything. I sent him 6k last October - He said “Mom, if I only had my driver’s license, I could get a job”. Well, shocker… license. Get’s evicted. It breaks my heart. He called this past Monday “I hurt my leg and I’m going to lose it if I don’t get to the ER. I need you to pay for an extended stay motel”. I didn't believe it, I had to hang up. He was crying and begging - it killed me but I know I have to stop enabling. I just keep seeing my beautiful baby boy.

    I feel so bad. His sister just got her MBA with honors. While she works a full time job!! How do two children with the same upbringing, end up sooo different?!

    So, I guess my question is - how to help if he won’t admit there’s an addiction? I want to search for resources in the city he’s in but I don’t know what resource! I paid his cell phone last week. He only calls when he needs something. When I don’t hear from him, I know things must be sort of ok. He can’t go to a shelter, he has a dog that he’s been carting around. Has had him a long time so I know it would be hard to give him up.

    I have zero answers to this and I hate that. How do you do it? How do you ‘disengage’ or fix it? I’m retired now, so the Mommy Bank is closed.

    Thank you so much.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome JulieAnn. I feel all your words because I have lived them too. When I first came here I couldn't even imagine disengaging from my daughter......and now I have.

    Here is my advice to you. Put your son aside for now, he is obviously making it in the west......and put all and I mean all your efforts into you. Find a therapist, a counselor, a program, a group, someplace you can go for support to learn how to disengage. This does not come naturally nor is it easy. When our kids go off the rails, we are spring loaded to do whatever we can to help. But after awhile, especially when our kids are in their 30's like your son, or in their 40's like my daughter.....there comes a time when we need to let go. I don't mean we don't love them, I mean we stop taking care of them.

    If you haven't already, read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. It's helpful.

    When I made that choice to take care of me and focus on me, everything began to change. It is a process and it takes time, but in time you begin to learn how to make different choices where your son is concerned, how to set the boundaries necessary for your well being and how to step back and feel okay and in fact, positive about your choices.

    Most of us here need help to make these changes. We need that continual support to make lasting changes to step out of the powerlessness of situations we can't control. The suffering is caused by us continuing to struggle against what is. The relief comes when we accept what is. In between that struggle and that relief is a big area of learning.......and we usually need support in getting from point A to point B.

    Be kind to yourself. Get as much support as you can. Keep posting. Read books. There's another thread here on the PE forum about books we've read, check them out, they help. I'm glad you decided to join us. It's a big step to express yourself here, and a very positive step in your willingness to make the changes necessary for you to have the joy and the peace you deserve. I'm glad you're here.
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  3. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    Oh, thank you so, so much. I'll read the article on detachment and plan on getting the books in the new book list post. I finally see a light.
  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi JulieAnn: I am so glad you decided to post, but so sorry you are going through this. Many of us like you, have adult children that have been or still are in situations as is your son.

    First, the nuts and bolts. With the Affordable Care Act and even before, indigents without medical insurance pay nothing for emergency care in an emergency hospital or hospital where I live.

    I know undocumented people, let alone Citizens who have required extended hospitalization, treatment, even surgery for long term ailments such as cancer, who pay nothing.

    Unfortunately, as you know your son is trying to manipulate you to extract money. As you have faced already that he is likely addicted to drugs, any money you send him supports a drug habit.

    As posted RecoveringEnabler, we need to focus upon our own recovery first. Our sons are adults. We are adults.

    However sad I feel to type these words, our sons will change if and when they choose. We have control only over our own choices.

    We do not need to suffer if our children are not thriving, as if they are toddlers. They are men, who can choose their own destinies, regardless of the limitations they face.

    We have done our job. This does not mean we are deserting them. It means we learn to respect them, by giving them the space to seek solutions for themselves, or not. They decide.
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    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  5. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    You are so wise. Thank you. I thank God and the universe that I found you all. I felt like I was floundering but now, and I'm sure it's probably temporary, but I feel much stronger.
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  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    JulieAnn, what I have found is the strength has been in me all along, but I was not acting or thinking from it.

    What has changed is this: I can choose to calm myself...and find a true voice inside myself or stay in an anxious, guilty or depressed mode. I know this now.

    This is a process. I may sustain it for a few hours or all day, and lose it. But I can get it back. Each time I decide to act from strength, it is easier to do so again.

    As I am living day to day, with the expectation that I can act from strength, I have greater confidence that there will be more and more days, that I feel stronger. I begin to have confidence in the future. I begin to plan for the future. A bright future.

    I catch myself when my thinking starts to get negative, reminding myself that I have the option to choose other, more positive thoughts.

    I know that this must sound abstract and airy fairy. It is not.

    You know how you feel when you hear truly wonderful music that you love? It feels like it fills your whole body and soul. It becomes you and you become it. You may have been sad...seconds before...but you are transformed in an instant.

    We can begin to identify what cues help us access our strength and which diminish it.

    I am becoming brutal about who I allow myself to be with and who I cut out of my life, just like that. As I type this I realize that this is very recent. In the past I was a person who maintained friendships for decades, even though the people treated me badly or did not respect me.

    I am not allowing people to rain on my parade. I stop it NOW. (Or as soon as I catch on.)

    I have bad days. Yes. But I am having better days too. And I have hope. For me.

    (I am finding when I start thinking, obsessing, really, about whether or not there is hope for my son...I feel weak and desperate. Really, if I am honest with myself, my only true and strong feeling for my son is LOVE. Hope is neither here nor there. He gets to decide.)

    I know all this is not easy. I have been depressed. My Mother died. Worries about my son, what I should do, can do, what will happen to him, etc. were consuming me.

    I can say that now I know how to get to the other side. And I know it is in my power to get there.

    The strength JulieAnn is already inside of you. You may not feel it or see it, but it is there. We have lost the habit of trusting that part of us and acting from it. And this we can recover.
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    Last edited: May 20, 2015
  7. Iwantpeace

    Iwantpeace Member

    I need to print this out and put on every room in my house. What you wrote here is a tool in itself. It is so well said, so true about sustaining it sometimes for a few hours and then losing it. It is a constant balancing act for our hearts and minds. I love this....IWP
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  8. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    Copabanana, you write so beautifully. That was so poignant and relatable. You should write a book.

    How do you deal with guilt? Not old 'woulda, shoulda, coulda' guilt, but guilt over being happy in the now. I wake up and feel guilty about sleeping in my own bed while he's probably outside somewhere. Going to the grocery store, he's probably hungry. I know deep down that there's nothing I can do about those things. I'm going to try changing the thought pattern as you suggest. I can't control him but I can control my thoughts.

    I'm with you, I don't tolerate negative or toxic friendships anymore. There's enough of that without adding to it on purpose.

    Iwantpeace, I'm with you - printing this out - it is a wonderful tool as you say. Balancing act...exactly.
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  9. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Sorry to be so blunt but the simple fact of the matter is that until someone seeks help they WONT accept it if offered. That goes for addicts, mental disorders, and those that are just wired differently from the main stream society. Your son is 34 years old, a grown man. He should be searching for these resources, not you. He should be paying for the cell phone, not you. Especially since the only reason he uses it to call you is to beg for more. My wife and I are going through similar circumstances with our 19 year old son who has abused drugs, stolen from us, lied to us, and burned every bridge my wife has built for him. Between my experiences with my son and my experiences working for almost a quarter of a century (GOD! Putting it that way makes me feel old!) I have learned that you simply cant help a person who doesn't want that help.

    Seek counseling, seek support groups such as Al Annon or CODA. You have NOTHING to feel guilty about. Our son has tried that but he can be over confident when trying to manipulate his mom. The last time he tried to make her feel guilty about enjoying a meal or sleeping in an actual bed, I forget exactly what it was now, he did it right after REALLY upsetting her. Needless to say it back fired. The point is that you have nothing to feel guilty about with your son any more than you should feel guilty because a child is starving on the other side of the planet. He has made the decisions and committed the acts that have lead him to where he is now, not you. HE has done this to himself. As a parent, you are obligated to raise your children. If they chose to ignore what we have taught them and do things their way, its on them.

    And for the record, yes, its apparently MUCH easier for fathers to detach than for mothers! Just remember, this didn't happen over night so it wont become significantly easier over night either. And by the way, there is a saying on this board you need to remember if someone gives advice that goes against your grain. We are all from different backgrounds and some from different countries. "Take what you want and leave the rest" because what works for me may not work for you.
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  10. Iwantpeace

    Iwantpeace Member

    I too am an extremely private person. Until recently I tried to cover for my Difficult Child son. He did some things to make it impossible for me to hide his actions anymore. I was desperate when I found this site. I still am really but I have been able to find moments of peace that I thought I would never have again. Im so sorry you are in pain. It does feel so bad when we feel guilty about any little pleasure we might find. I just want you to know you are not alone.
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  11. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    Jabberwockey, on the contrary, I appreciate the bluntness. NEED the bluntness. Deep down, I know that you are right. It's fighting the 'Mom' gene that is hard sometimes. You're right, I could go into the office and be the rational, focused hard :censored2:, but when it comes to the's like two different people.

    IWP, Thank you so much. May you find the peace you are searching for.
  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi JulieAnn and welcome to the forum. You will find a lot of good thinking and specific ways and practices to reclaim your life here.

    We do understand. My son is now nearly 26 and the past seven+ years have been really really hard. Right now, for almost a year now, he has made steady progress forward.

    How much of that is because I and my ex-husband (his dad) have been increasingly able to let go of him? I will never know but I suspect it is one contributing factor to his improvement.

    I also think he was "scared straight" by a public defender who felt strongly my son was going to jail/prison for four years last June and told him so. My son told me he lay awake all night long the night before court thinking about that. That didn't happen, in fact they let him go that same day. Since then he has not been arrested (after many arrests, misdemeanors, breaking probation, and two felonies over the past years) once and he has worked, paid nearly all of his bills himself, is sweet and kind, asks for very little from us, and has applied to go back to school in the fall under a state program that may pay for it.

    And I also believe his age is a positive factor in his case. He appears to be finally starting to grow up and he is way behind other 26 year olds in this capacity.

    Has the road back been pretty and all good? No. It is bumpy and confusing and scary to watch still, but I have worked really really hard to adjust my expectations to as close to zero as I can. It has and still does take tremendous work on my part to just. let. go.

    To live my own life, offer support, love and encouragement, but to maintain good physical and emotional boundaries from him and his life.

    I don't need to know all about his daily business. I don't need to approve/disapprove of his girlfriend (who stabbed him last summer) and lives with him now. I don't need to ask whether he is using birth control or not (same girlfriend had a miscarriage a few months back). I don't need to ask why he hasn't applied for better jobs (our area is booming and he could make more money other places right now). This is none of my business.

    You ask about guilt. Intellectually you may realize that you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it (Al-Anon calls these the Three Cs), but what about your feelings? You feel guilty. If only....Maybe if I had...what if....all of those 1000s of decisions you made for him and about him when he was growing up. JulieAnn, I imagine you did the best you could. It wasn't perfect but you gave it all you had. Most of us did and still do. Mothers and sons are the toughest possible combination, my husband says (who has worked with many parents and their drug-addicted or alcoholic offspring).

    Guilt is just a feeling. That's all it is. And JulieAnn, we also learn in Al-Anon that....feelings aren't facts. Study on that for a while. I know when I heard it for the first time, I rejected those three words completely and immediately. Well of course my feeling is my feeling, and I know I have it, because I feel it must be true.

    The way to deal with guilt, I have learned, is to first acknowledge that it's just a feeling. Feel it. Don't push it away. Accept it for what it is. not act on it. Wait. Most of us, we feel a feeling like guilt or shame or fear, and it's so awful, so overpowering, that we MUST do something, anything, very quickly, so it will stop. So....we take action. We DO SOMETHING. I used to be the best doer for four states around (lol). You couldn't outdo me, JulieAnn. I saw a problem, I looked at the possible solutions, picked one, and whambam, I acted. I did something. Took care of it!!! Felt better. Problem solved.

    Until I met the 40-foot-tall monster called my ex-husband's alcoholism and then my precious son's drug addiction. Doesn't work. And then I had to face myself and start dealing with my own inadequacies---strong me who couldn't fix this one---and that led to a great deal of work and soul-searching and recognition of my own character defects, and then developing tools to work on those and to live a healthier emotional life, which allows other people the dignity and respect to live their own lives, and make their own mistakes without my interference, and learn their own lessons and to grow into adulthood.

    We have to disconnect our feelings from our actions, and we have to learn what to DO WITH THOSE FEELINGS that are so awful. We have to invite them in for coffee or tea or lunch or a visit, sit with them, feel them, let them flow through us, realize they will not kill us, and then let them go. We have to wait. We have to let time go by before we can quietly, calmly, rationally ask ourselves if there is any factual basis at all in our feelings, which we have now processed, and then we can see if there is any kind of action that is reasonable to take. I like to use that word reasonable---with myself a lot. Is what I am thinking reasonable? Is what I would like to do reasonable? Often the answer is no.

    You haven't asked about shame, but they often go hand in hand. Being with other people who talk about their grown children's accomplishments, and we have little to nothing to say.

    JulieAnn, the first step toward dealing with all of this is...just like our precious adult children...WANTING to deal with it. Realizing there is a better way to live, and then being willing to do the work to get there.

    It is a daily practice. That is what it takes, to really change, and it takes time. Be patient with yourself. This forum can be a great tool. Use it.

    We're glad you're here.
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  13. Iwantpeace

    Iwantpeace Member

    Childofmine, That was beautiful!!
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  14. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    Thank you so much for that COM. That was wonderful. Also very happy for you that your son is doing so well!!! That's so encouraging. It CAN happen. I may never know it but I have hope.

    And you're so right, I am Ms. Fixit too. Have a problem? There's a solution! I don't have one to this and that's what is so difficult for me.

    The shame? Oh, absolutely. Most know about my daughter and her accomplishments but hardly anyone even knows I have a son. He was handsome, funny, struggled in school but nothing we couldn't deal with. Now - his teeth are a mess, he's bloated, tattoo's all over the place and sullen. For a type A parent, it's an extremely difficult truth to realize that I can't make it right.

    Coming here to this forum and finally 'coming out' of stalking mode has brought so many positives to my thought process. Self love is not always an easy lesson learned. I think that is so helpful when you suggest to feel the feelings in regards to my son, then let them go. That is the hard part for me. "What! not act on them?? No way!!" Well, now I have so many more weapons in my arsenal thanks to you all. Truly, thank you.
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  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    JulieAnn, you know how you feel dread in the seconds before you really wake up? You have vague thoughts of your son...with the feeling of worry and alarm...but most of all fear...that you need to do something....

    That is how I woke up. I hurt all over.

    My next thoughts were: I will always be like this. I might never get better. I will always be in physical pain.


    Thoughts are actual processes, just like any other process in the physical world. We can shape our thoughts to a large extent.

    I am at the beginning, in terms of how to do it, but I am getting the concept.

    Our brains are like computers (computers are like our brains?) Our memory is filled with all of the bytes of information with which we have filled it in the past, shaped by our experience and habits, the the software, so to speak.

    It is a process of deciding what information and practices we now want to choose to substitute.

    With respect to my waking dread: How my day proceeds is to some extent my choice. I do not need to succumb to my fear if I choose not to.

    I can challenge those thoughts, see that I am trying to scare myself. ALWAYS and NEVER when they refer to feelings are always suspicious characters. I tell myself that. Already I feel better.

    I calm down pretty quickly.

    I stumble down the hall to the kitchen and living room. Should I weigh myself or not? I have been trying to lose weight....I have yielded to "the fog," these past 9 days and chosen to not weigh myself.

    I chose to weigh myself. I have gained 2.5 pounds. Victory, I tell myself. Why, victory???

    I have confronted my fear, and I have taken control. I will be conscious. I do not have to live in the fog. I can choose to curb my eating. To write down what I eat. Exercise. Be conscious. The process with our thinking is no different.

    I am borrowing the concept "fog" from ScentofCedar, I think. I don't remember the book from which she learned it.

    The way I understand "fog" is kind of like the feeling with which I woke up. It is an amorphous,gauzy thing that distorts my understanding of where I am, and what is going on. It lingers in the air. I feel no control. I cannot see clearly. I cannot see where I am going. I just feel scared. I feel dread and fear.

    Sometimes we choose the fog. It feels preferable to be in the fog than in clear skies. We choose it when we fear seeing, fear knowing. I have lived in the fog for many, many months now. I am strong enough to seek clear skies.

    A number of members have very generously shared the books and concepts that have helped them. A few that come to mind right now are ChildofMine, ScentofCedar and RecoveringEnabler.

    JulieAnn, this way of thinking is a bad habit that can be changed. There are reasons that we hang onto the kind of guilt that seems so strong and persistent as to have the power to stop us, limit us, define us.

    Some of us are looking at the patterns we learned in our families. We post about that.

    But other things, too, influence the choice to cling to and live with limits. We sometimes believe in magic...that if we suffer...we can bargain for our child. Some of us post about this, too.

    There is a lot going on here on this board: coping, understanding, examining, analyzing, exploring. A lot of work is going on.

    JulieAnn, I do not want to be rude, here. But what in the world does your sleep and bed have to do with your son's? He is no longer an no longer responsible for buying his crib, putting on his sleepers.

    There is the magical belief that some of us mothers have, I among them.

    We believe falsely that:

    that will restore them to well-being, and I will do it and do it and never stop doing so that my child will be safe and happy.

    While heroic and admirable of us, and eminently self-sacrificing, there is no way that our suffering can change anything whatsoever about the circumstances that our adult children are choosing.

    Your suffering does not work to change things for your adult child. It does not work. Your suffering only makes you suffer. Nothing more.

    Yes, JulieAnn, you are exactly right. You know it, I know it. But sometimes, we need each other to remember.

    Control, is tough to do, I think, because after all, we are humans. But we can, I believe, come to challenge our thoughts, dialog with them and learn alternatives that are infinitely kinder and realer than those we have been battering ourselves with.
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  16. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi JulieAnn, welcome to our group. I'm so glad you decided to post and share your story. We are all here for you and each other.
    Your son is a year older than mine. They are not children anymore, they are grown men.
    One thing that helped me to start detaching is to picture my son in my mind as an adult not my "baby" or "sweet little boy"
    When we think of them as "a child" we by default as mothers go into "protection - mommy's going to make it all better" mode.
    They are adults, we can't make it better for them. We do not have that kind of power. If it helps put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that says "my son is an adult, he's resonsible for his own choices"

    You had mentioned that you sent him 6K. I'm also glad you said you have stopped sending money. One thing I have learned in dealing with my son is no amount of money will fix their problems.

    I had a similar desperate plea from son once time. He claimed he had cut his leg really bad and wanted my sisters phone # (she's a nurse) so he could get some antibiotics. I told him no, that she has no access to antibiotics that a Dr. has to write a prescription and if his leg was that bad he needed to go to an ER. Funny how the next day he posted on FB that he was going for a long hike in the mountains. Guess his leg had a miraculous healing.

    Oh the "Mother's Guilt" there's nothing like it. Because our Difficult Child have not "launched" into being responsible adults we feel we must have done something wrong. To compound this our Difficult Child continue to display their helplessness to us. We continue to see them as "our little baby" so we are compelled to help them. The more we help them the needier they become. We get stuck in that cycle. If we start to pull back our help they will often respond with blaming us, or threats of harming themselves, or threats of starving, or freezing, claims that we were never there for them, etc.......and the guilt compounds because we have convinced ourselves that we must have done something wrong.
    There is no such thing as a perfect parent, we have all made mistakes along the way but we have done the very best we could to raise our children and that is enough. We first loved them, we fed them, clothed them, checked the closet for monsters, comforted them when they were sick, helped with homework, taught them right from wrong, etc.......
    Know in your heart that you have done everything you could for your son. You went above and beyond, there is nothing more you can do.
    It's ok to move on and live your life for yourself. It's ok to be happy and do fun things. It's ok to let go of your son. It's not only ok but it's a healthy thing to do for yourself and your son.

    Work on accepting that your son is living the life he chose and the consequences to his choices are just that, his.

    Start doing nice things for yourself. Simple things. Buy yourself some flowers, take a bubble bath, rent some movies you have always wanted to see. Be good to yourself, IT'S OK!!!!

    There are many of us here that used to think it was not possible to enjoy life, to detach from our Difficult Child but we have done it and you can too.

    Stay close to this site, keep posting, keep reading others stories. Create your "Toolbox" (thanks Childofmine) find the things that will help you cope, keep them in your toolbox and use them.

    I'm so glad you are here. Because you finally shared you are already starting process of detaching.

    ((HUGS)) to you......................
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I understand, I have been there, too. I am so sorry for the pain and the isolation and the hurt of it.

    You have had to be very strong.

    You did the right thing.

    It is better for us when we are not alone with it. I am glad you posted, glad you found the site.

    Welcome, JulieAnn.


    This helps me: There is a difference between guilt and intense sorrow. As Jabber noted, we can feel sorrow about those little kids we don't know who are suffering or who don't have enough to eat or any of those other terrible things that are happening in faraway places in the world. We can donate money or time, we can do what we can. Our understanding that they are out there somewhere doesn't change, but we can know we have done what we could, that we have done those things our consciences tell us are the right things to do, and then, we can let go. We can go to dinner, or relish clean sheets and fresh coffee and be so grateful for what we have. With our children, sorrow and guilt become confused. We cannot see our way through that because we see our babies too, in our minds, when we think of our grown children. That our babies, those children of our hearts, are vulnerable ~ even though we get it, intellectually, that our children are grown men and women ~ that is where the guilt part comes in, I think.

    We are their mothers. We are the mother of that little boy who was our son and whatever he looks like now, my child is in trouble. He needs help; he is floundering and I will find a way, some way, to save him.

    He, my child, needs me.

    And he does, actually. But not in the way that I think; not in the way I believed I could help him. And even though over such a long time, over the years of mounting defense after defense, my sacrifice of time and money and head room somehow not only did not save him but somehow made everything impossibly worse, I still think I have to do something.

    He is still in so troubled and dangerous a place.

    And there is no answer to that one. There just isn't. My heart and my head are two different parts of me.

    But there is detachment parenting. To me, that means learning how to honor our emotions and rationally understand why we must do what we are doing in refusing money or a place to live or another driver's license or vehicle.

    Or even so much as a sandwich.

    Which makes me hate myself, of course. Which makes me leap in to save him again but this time, the person I am really saving is me. I cannot face myself, knowing I turned away. But before I know it, I am right back where I started except I have less money and less time and no energy.

    And no son.


    And there again, this theory of detachment parenting, which is what finally helped me help my children stand up and save themselves, can help us survive not helping.


    So, it helps me to envision the adult male my son is. Bearded, now. Loud when he talks and when he laughs, like a man is. Then, somewhere in the heart of me, I can separate the man who is my son from the baby who was the child of my dreams, and of my heart.

    And I know that sounds all hokey and mushy, but the thing is, it's true.

    Normal moms never have to make that distinction between their babies grown into men and their baby *** separation point *** their grown man son who is so troubled. But helping turns into enabling, and that is such an ugly part of our stories, here. What we know, and what you already know, is that the one person who could help your son is your son.

    If you could do this for him, if you could love him out of it, he would already be healthy and independently strong.

    But what do we do with the guilt? That happens to me, too. When I go shopping, when I have special food, when I am warm and one or the other of my children may not be. This is what I think I know about that: There is a difference between guilt and deep sorrow. Someone I love is in trouble. That is very true. But it is also true that there is no sacrifice I could make that can help him.

    And that is all I know about that. We cannot ignore the feelings. They are very intense.
    But we can honor and understand them. We can bless ourselves for our courage, and for the depth of our love and decide we are going to get through this somehow.

    We decide to survive. And that is an intellectual decision that our hearts don't get and so, we repeat the phrases that comfort and strengthen us and we survive it, that one time. And that gives us strength to survive what feels like guilt or heartlessness or something awful, the next time it has at us. We choose to care for ourselves in the best ways we can know of for today, for this one, little minute. We can expect the bad feelings, we can welcome them and soothe ourselves through them because this is a very hard situation we are living. Every single day, we are living with knowledge too awful to put away from us and too awful to ignore and we don't know how to do this.

    But here we all are.

    Together, each of us will have strength or understanding for the others when that is what we need, and we will do the same for them, when their time comes.

    I am so glad you were able to find the site, and that you decided to post in.

    You are here with us, now.

    Here is a concept for you. This is from Child of Mine. The concept is a tool box where we keep all the tools, all the things we have learned or taken comfort in, readily accessible to us when we are in that lost, little place where we feel overwhelmed.

    That helped me, too.

    My toolbox.


    One more thing. In my toolbox too is the concept of how to suffer with strength and dignity and acceptance. I learned that on Child of Mine's Highchair Tyrants thread, here on this site. It had to do with the suffering of the Mary. If you google paintings of the Mary, look into the eyes.

    That is how to accept it, and make it real, and nothing more.
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    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  18. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    Geez Cedar, I couldn't have expressed the feelings any better. It's not hokey or mushy at All. It is what it is. It's almost as if all that I'm doing is helping lessen my guilt and grief when I would send him money or pay a bill. So, logically, it's really sort of a selfish response. It's not for's for me. They don't care, they don't see beyond their immediate needs.

    Tool box. Great idea. So many great tools available. How silly and ridiculous to think I was alone.

    Thank you so much.
  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You didn't know.

    When we know better, we do better, just like Maya Angelou writes for us.

    You are not silly or ridiculous. You are a woman whose beloved is in deep, deep trouble.

    No one knows how to do this, Julie Ann. But we do know that when we know better, we will do better. And just that one little thing can save our lives, can get us through it, can help us be stronger enough.


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  20. JulieAnn

    JulieAnn Member

    I now wish I had begun this journey long ago instead of trying to play Mommy Fix It. Maybe he'd have 'gotten' it by now. But I guess that's another regret and I don't have room for any more.

    Nope, you're so right. Suffering only makes me suffer. Really counterproductive.

    Thank you so much. There's so much here, so much to learn. You are all wonderful, gems of people.