I am being an ostrich

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Signorina, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    difficult child is "home" until he "goes back to school" on Friday. Except he is still suspended from school and he is going back to an apartment to room with two losers who are in school and difficult child has no job lined up.

    I stressed to him that I thought it was an unrealistic plan-that perhaps he should stay home & work, pay his rent there but live here and relieve himself of living expenses and continue at his current job . He bristled, said he had a plan and needs to stick with his plan and I dropped it. That was Tuesday.

    Wednesday, we drove together 1-1/2 to and from pc15's fb game and he told me about his desire to get back into school, what he wants to major in, career goals etc. He was as though the last year never happened. Like a kid who has it together. But he is clueless and completely unrealistic. Sure, it *could* work if he were driven, studious, self disciplined. (But even under the best circumstances, his plan is unrealistic.) Plus, he is none of those things. (he was once) And he has a huge burden of tuition, living expenses, a deficient gpa and he is still suspended from school! But I zipped my lip. He talked about other school options, major options. I gave suggestions- he dissed his own school and many suggestions as "too this", "not enough that"- a weird snobbery coming from a kid who failed out! Then he said his Grad school choice would probably be more important. The kid has a 1.4 GPA and 28 credits and has dropped out of school- and is talking as though he is the 3.0 college junior he was supposed to be... Aggghh

    He talked about getting a job at XXXX - in college town fir the year and I told him that they have a strict drug testing policy. He claims to be clean. I don't know

    But we kept the conversation pleasant and mostly light. I did not express my many reservations (been there done that), and I truly enjoyed his company. He was great at the game and with easy child.

    Last night, he came home late from work. I fed him pizza and wings and he told me he had to start making a list of things he needs to get before he goes "back to school" on Friday. I wanted to scream "YOU DONT GO TO SCHOOL" but instead, I rummaged around for some of the things on his list so he wouldn't need to buy them. (toiletries mostly)

    As he ate, he talked about the taxes taken out of his check and I asked him how much Fed & State taxes were being with-held and he showed me his check stub. I explained he would likely be refunded his withholdings at tax tine as he will fall under the limit. In the meantime, I see that he has TAKEN HOME over $4500 this summer yet he has only paid $250 of his past due tuition (2k) which is why he can't enroll this semester. Does that sound like a kid who is motivated to get back into school? Lip still zipped. He did mentioned that he probably won't get a job with XXXX, he hadn't realized they were more than 4 miles away on the highway.(he has no transportation, the cynic in me wonders if it's the drug testing) I wonder to myself why he is going back to college town without any chance of enrolling and with no job. Out loud, I say something supportive.

    He stayed home last night. He, his brothers and I sprawled on the couch together and watched HungerGames and a bit of SNL. The boys ate ice cream and bantered and I took a mental picture of us together and thought "this is what I prayed for, this is what I want." I went to bed and loved listening to them chatting & laughing as I fell asleep.

    Yet, I know these family moments are contingent upon me being an ostrich. And being an ostrich is what got me into this situation. And I know it's wrong. I am playing with fire-trying to be there for the part of him who is my son yet trying not to enable the difficult child. So, I will give him toiletries but I won't pay his tuition or his living expenses while he is gone. I don't know what I am doing. And I am sticking my head in the sand so I can have my family back.
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I totally and completely understand your post. My situation has not been the same as yours but I have had to learn to be an ostrich as part of my survival detachment. It is SO not what I anticipated. For the children (and subsequently for the grandsons) my home was a functioning basically happy house with lots of laughter, loving groans and very rarely slightly elevated voices. Everyone (lots of different personalities, of course) not only expressed their love vocally but frequently with spontaneous hugs. On the rare (very rare, sigh) occasions when a number of them are home I lay in bed grinning and stiflying laughter as I overhear them visiting together after I've hit the hay....it's a blast from the happy past.

    I hope you have decades of "happy normal" in your family future. In my heart I truly know what you are feeling. Hugs DDD
  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    There nothing wrong with you being an ostrich in this situation. Honestly what else can you do, demand he acknowledge that he is not a student and this is all a lie? What would that do, just cause a big fight and he will storm out and it will shut the door on any reconciliation. When he gets back to college town and realizes nothing is working out he can make up a story to tell you and come back and hopefully get his life back on track.

    I don't know why our difficult children continue to live a lie. When my difficult child came over the other day she said she has been thinking about going bac to school to be a vet tech. All I could do was say "oh?" She said she had to save money first. Here she is working part time in a bar/restaurant as a hostess making minumum wage and has to pay her rent in two monthly installments, is in debt with her credit card over $1,000 and has collectors after her, hasn;t paid her internet bill in months and it was shut off, don't know how long she will have electricity, has to call us every couple weeks to have us fill her car up with gas, can't afford her car insurance, and is on food stamps. Like you I just put my head in the sand and ignored the obvious. What she doesn't know is that I know she registered for a sugar daddy/sugar baby site where it is more respectful to say you are doing it for tuition money rather than to support your lifestyle of drinking and drugging.

    She also said she was thinking about moving back on this side of town because it's scary where she lives. She knows she has no credit and would never be able to sign a lease after they checked her credit and she has a big dog and cat that apartments won't take. Talk about living in a dream world. I just listened, offered no advice other than to tell her about a place to apply for full time work, and gave no more thought to the fact that she's thinking about going back to school. All a pipe dream or a cover-up.

    Your difficult child is going to do what he wants to do and you are wise to just let that play out. You have left the door to your home open and he knows that.

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I don't know, I have a different perspective. I'm in a therapist run Codependency group in a large HMO Substance Abuse program. I've attended many educational classes and listened to a number of therapists talk and from what I can gather, what you are doing is exactly what they instruct folks to do. It sounds to me as if you've already told him your feelings in the past and that didn't work, he didn't or wouldn't hear you. Your opinions are not what he wants to hear and so you made a choice to keep them to yourself. I don't think you're being an ostrich or you're doing what got you in this situation. He got himself into the situation. Perhaps initially, you didn't want to believe what was going on, but now you know what is going on and you're choosing to stop offering opinions that fall on deaf ears.

    It seems to me that what you've done is stop enabling, stop giving when what you are giving is not wanted or appreciated. I believe what you're doing is accepting the situation and allowing him to make his own choices, no matter how absurd they appear to you. And, in doing so, you give him the space to show up with you. Perhaps, over time, he'll be able to make better choices as he experiences the consequences of his behaviors and in the meantime, you've opened the door for him to be able to talk to you and be with the family. I know I'm on the outside looking in here, you're right there in the battle, but from where I sit, you're doing a really good job.
  5. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    I think you are being hard on yourself. These kids are not all bad all the time. It sounds like he was enjoying this family time-he needed it. His choices and denial are his. He has to figure it out for himself. If he needs to be in college town to finially "grow a brain", so be it. You already have given options and he is bent on this path. How are you an ostrich? What else can you do? It stinks to watch them make bad decisions, but that is learning for our difficult children-the hard way always!!

    You have made him responsible for the tuition debt and that is great. You have not bailed him out and that is great. All you can do is enjoy what you can and watch as they dive off cliffs into shallow water. I know first hand how hard this is. We just ask our higher power for his helping hand. Your a good mom Sig. ((Hugs))
  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I don't think you are being an ostrich at all. An ostrich (or so they say) sticks their head in the sand and has no idea of what is going on. You are being realistic, and you seem to have a good understanding of the situation. All you are doing is keeping your mouth shut and not commenting or giving advice. I think that is the right thing to do at this point. He knows your opinion. What he needs and wants is to have a relationship with you. I think the best you can do right now is keep the strenght of your relationship going, and it seems keeping your mouth shut is the best thing for that. And yeah keep walking that line of notj enabling him.

  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I think you are doing the right thing. What would be the point of arguing about it? His lies are not endangering you - you have not allowed yourself to be used/abused/ or drawn into the drama...so, in my humble opinion, you are doing exactly what you should be doing...
  8. princess

    princess New Member

    Hi I think you did and said the right things. Some of the stuff you said I could so relate to this past weekend my difficult child stayed home with us the whole weekend had dinner with us we went to breakfast this morning there was no yelling-husband and him even talked like they used to-husband and him have not been getting along at all. He returns to school tommorrow has his classes and college job and is "supposed" to work at friend's restaurant also. I don't think he smoked pot this weekend because his low life friends were not around one of them is going to a trade school out of town and I think the other one is on the run from his drug dealer I think he owes him lots of money. My son still has a few low life friends he hangs with but these two he does whatever they do. I am sure they will be back in town these two have gone before and returned and my son goes right back to them...as you are I thought this whole weekend maybe I have my son back but I don't think I can count on it.
  9. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest


    You are doing the right things - protecting your younger kids while not enabling your difficult child.

    Remember - there isn't a manual for difficult children. We have to make decisions as we go.

    I'm glad you had some peaceful times. I understand about how they say things and you think, "Are you kidding me?!?" but instead say, "Really..." It it as if reality isn't a part of the plan.

    My difficult child actually tried to call numerous high schools last Sunday morning. Why? Because he wanted to set up a time so he can come and speak with the students as he can explain to them what happens if they use drugs. I wanted to say "The schools are closed on Sunday morning. Besides, you have maybe two weeks clean again, no job, and a warrant...do you really think you are the best role model????" Instead, I said nothing.

    On Tuesday, mine actually tried to open a discussion about me sending him to a private college. Tuition is $40K. Yeah, right....as soon as my head falls off, I'll be writing that check.

    Guess ours are cut from the same cloth?

    Maybe you can pipe in some nice music so you can have something to listen to in the sand. Hang in there.....you are doing great!
  10. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Sig, It is totally Ok to enjoy pleasant moments with our difficult children. Not bringing up things that will spoil a good moment is not puttin your head in the sand it is detachment. You do not condone his past actions or current lifestyle by not commenting on them because all that has been said and he knows where you stand. What you describe is acceptance and detachment. Good job! RM
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Sig... add me to the chorus of "you're not being an ostrich". What you ARE doing? Is laying tiny building blocks for the future. You are not driving him away... he is making his own choices. You are still there for him - on some level. If he wants to have a relationship with you in the long run, he can. You haven't destroyed it in the short run.

    Even if it feels artificial now, I think you're on the right track. Some day when difficult child gets HIS head out of the sand and gets "real", he will know that you've been there all along. And can still reach out, can still on some level "come home".
  12. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Hi there Sig,
    I too think you are handling the situation with your son best you can.
    Sometimes when we prod and ask questions...all we get are "good answers" at best, lies at worst.
    It is up to your difficult child to see what does and does not work...to have a reality check and re-evalute for himself the pro's and con's.
    You are letting your difficult child own his own, so to speak.
    While at the same time...You cherish the relationship he has with his brothers and you have let him know that he is welcomed at home.

    I just know one of these days your son will step up and be the man you raised him to be! I have alot of faith in the outcome for your family.

  13. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    I know how hard it is to suppress the impulse to give difficult child an earful of reality. It makes me feel fake and phoney to nod and smile and shut my mouth when I want to tell him "like it is." It feels so wrong to me to do that, because then I think I'm "enabling" his magical thinking by not being direct. I have a mentally ill brother and I've had to talk to him like that almost all my life, and my difficult child is not mentally ill, and it just irks the heck out of me to have to use the same tactics with him. I know where you're coming from. Hugs.
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I think of it as superficial "stranger" conversations. Nothing in depth. Alot of "oh, really" "maybe" "I see" "interesting". etc. Even though I thoroughly miss the trusting bonds of family...it's not hard to just "be polite". Sigh. DDD
  15. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    CJ, I understand completely. I want to be logical and simple and rational - I cannot stand doing things the hard way so this drives me wacko.

    Here's my thought process - if I tell him it won't work, then he is mad at me. Therefore, he won't deal with his issues cause he is mad at me - not at him. Trying to insure all he has to deal with are the things he chose to create in his life. If his plan fails (and it will) then hopefully, my name isn't anywhere near it and HE will know it was HIS decision.

    Does that make sense? I struggle with it daily.
  16. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Yes, I'm starting to realize that! As Dr. Phil says, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?"
  17. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest


    Well put. I once quoted that to difficult child. No more.... :-X

    Dr. Phil took that from a Course in Miracles. It is an awesome book.
  18. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Signorina, I don't think you're being an ostrich at all. I think you're handling things very well...not enabling bad behaviour or poor choicees, but still letting difficult child know that you love him and keeping the door open.

    I've been following your story and that of the other SA posters for a long time, but I've hesitated to weigh in until now because I haven't walked in the shoes of a parent trying to live with and help an addicted child. Still, I think my perspective might be helpful from the point of view of a fiercely independent child who from birth needed to "Do It Myself!".

    I am now, and have always been, fiercely independent. I have a burning need to do things for myself, figure out my own path. Partly due to Aspergers, which means that the world doesn't always quite make sense to me, and partly due to a kinaesthetic learning style, which means that I learn best by hands-on experience. I have to touch it, manipulate it, live it, in order to learn it.

    What that often boils down to is that I have to go through it myself and learn the hard way. Just hearing someone else tell me doesn't help me to learn it. In fact, it can be frustrating, because I don't yet have a way of interpreting the input, so it comes across as just static and noise. It doesn't make sense, and I don't understand why someone is telling me this stuff. Until I've lived and learned, I don't know how to categorize or use the information I'm being give. Once I've learned the lesson the hard way, all of a sudden the advice makes sense. I now have a way to categorize the information that's being given to me, so I can make sense of it and use it. It acts as reinforcement to my own lesson, learned from experience.

    As a teen, I was always just on the edge of being a full-blown difficult child. I danced along the cliff-edge, but kept just far enough back from it that I wouldn't fall over. Why? My parents just weren't capable of looking after me, so they left me to my own devices. I had all the stuff a teenage girl could possibly want and then some, but they were never THERE. My mother wanted to connect, and used to try to involve herself in my life, but with her mental illnesses I was more often than not in the parental role. And my father had no time for a daughter -- I was a little insect, to be swatted away when I buzzed too loudly or got too close.

    But fending for myself was the making of me. I had to learn the lessons of self-sufficiency, and responsibility, and vulnerability and strength, how to cook and clean, do laundry and pay bills, stay sober at the party so that I wouldn't get into crazy situations I couldn't handle, how to say no to cigarettes so I could afford groceries...all that stuff that most kids can learn by being taught.

    So...I guess in my rambling way, I'm suggesting that you continue to hang back. Your difficult child knows you love him, unconditionally and without question. Now, you've got to show him that you love him enough to let him go. Let him go make a mess and clean it up. Give him the time and space to miss you. He will, and then he'll be back.

  19. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I am divorced from the King of the Ostrichs (Ostrichi?) and, believe me, you don't even come close. Many have pointed this out already: saying something about his lying about school would be - at this point - a waste of energy, time and sanity.

    difficult children live on a different planet. What works with PCs ...what worked with us as teens and young adults ...does not work with difficult children. Pointing out a lie to a difficult child does not cause the difficult child to assess his/her life and vow not to lie. Pointing out a lie to a difficult child causes the difficult child to regard us as though we have two heads, somehow blame us for the lie, then blissfully go on with life.

    What you are doing with your son is giving him the opportunity to live in your world for awhile. You're giving him the chance to enjoy his family. This will stay with him.

    Enjoy those moments and keep the Serenity Prayer close to your heart at all times.