I don't know what to say when I see him

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I've been posting on the general board, and I hope I'm not burning out my welcome, but I have another question...do any of you find you have nothing to say to your kid? In my case I run into him on the streets sometimes. Yestarday I saw him on the street begging. Today I was out running and I saw him. I stopped, we walked together briefly. He said he was going to meet his girlfriend in the park (he was heading out from the place under the bridge where he told me he sleeps). He smelled terrible from a few feet away. My dog was ecstatic to see him, so that was an icebreaker. I asked him how things went in the hospital the other night (he called me from an ER) and he said fine, they had lanced a boil...he asked how far I ran today...and then neither of us had anything to say. I was agitated, angry (I'm not even sure why) grossed out, scared for him, upset, and mad that my run was interrupted. I couldn't think of anything to say that wasn't going to turn into a confrontation. After a 1/2 a block he put his head phones on and said "bye, mommy, I love you" and I said "bye" and ran a different direction.
    I am tired of making small talk with him, filling him on on family, and pretending it is normal to run into your street person son on the street. I am so mad at him (this is new) that I'm afraid I'll burst into a torrent of criticism. And now, at home, I want to cry.
    Any idea on how to handle these run ins?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It IS tough. I would make it short and benign, like the weather or a neighbor's funny antidote...nothing serious. What you want to say, such as, "WHY CAN'T YOU HELP YOURSELF????" is a waste of conversation.

    Sometimes the less we know about them, the easier it is. I did not want to know the details of my daughter's escapades because I couldn't stop her and I'd only worry. Since most of what she said was a lie anyway, conversation was stilted and limited for several years.

    You're doing all you can.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Echolette, please don't worry about "burning out your welcome". The purpose of this board is support. You post all you need to post, that is what we're here for.

    I need to update myself on your other posts. I put in 50 hrs this week nightshift and don't get to read as much as I used to.

    Just from this post alone, I think you handled it beautifully. You didn't ignore him, didn't criticize him or his decisions, didn't try to rescue him, and left the door open for him to feel welcome to approach you, even just casually.

    It is both frustrating and maddening to watch our children make stupid decisions that can place them into harms way when in our eyes "they should know better". It is so hard to watch them take the hard way, sometimes the self destructive way, knowing we can't do anything to stop the train wreck that may be the end result. It makes us angry that they can't see how much their actions are causing us pain.

    For now?? I'd keep the small talk, catching him up on family news. I'd be glad to run into him, regardless of his appearance/body odor.......because the opposite, if you were to stop seeing him (having some knowledge he is alive and well) would likely overwhelm you with worry and fear.

    Your emotions are normal. Find ways to express them instead of stuffing them and having a major explosive moment with difficult child you'll later regret. Come here and vent to your heart's content, find a therapist or friend and talk their ear off, keep a journal. Something. So that when you run into difficult child you can be grateful to see he is ok, make small talk, and keep those lines of communication open.

    Katie spent much of her adult life homeless. So I understand how you're feeling.

  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome to PE! Glad you got your bio all straightened out too.

    I know exactly how you feel, I still have trouble knowing how to relate to my daughter, it is uncomfortable at times, we live in different universes. Those feelings of anger and sadness I think are very common here, we are so conflicted and feel so much and they all come running at us at the same time, it is a difficult set of feelings to wade through. I feel that agitation as well at times.

    It takes time to change our perception of our adult kids into what the reality is versus our hopes and dreams for them as well as our own perception of what is safe, normal and okay. And, whenever there is a mental disorder present, we have to learn how NOT to apply the 'usual, average and normal' to our kids who live in unusual, not average and abnormal lives, the disparities are immense and when you add our parental fears for them and that we have no control...........you are sure to feel agitation.

    We can't change this situation so what we must to is detach from it and learn how to accept it. That is for OUR peace of mind. My brother is schizophrenic and lived on the streets of L.A. for many,many years. Street people have an entire culture we know nothing about. At one point I had him staying with me and he thought the town I lived in was "boring" and he yearned to get back to the streets. I had no context to hold that in. My other brother and I got him a room in one of those flea bag hotels, which he continues to live in to this day, in L.A. We got him on SSI and he lives on that.

    I understand all of your feelings, quite a few of my family have mental disorders so I've lived in this world my whole life..............it can make YOU feel crazy. But, really, it's all about learning to be okay inside yourself even though your son is a street person. He is likely way more comfortable within himself with his choices, then you are.

    How to handle the run ins? Tell him the truth. Tell him you are uncomfortable, you don't know how to be with him and you just want to judge his lifestyle because it's scary to you. I've found that just the act of telling the truth eases all of the angst, even though it's weird to say it.

    And, if you want to cry, cry, this is a strange and sad experience, crying is a normal response. And, it also can give you some relief and release as well.

    Go do something kind for yourself now. Go have a manicure or take a lovely long walk. Anything to shift that energy around. Wishing you peace..........
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Echolette, your other post was moved over here to PE.
  6. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Echolette, posting helps so much. Please post as often as you need to. That is why we are here, why we check the site as often as we are able ~ so we can help others as we have been helped, ourselves. There is nothing good or right or easy about loving someone who seems to be self destructing. When that person is your own child, it is impossible to survive it, yourself.

    And yet, somehow, we do.

    I'm so sorry this is happening to you, to your son and to your family, Echolette. I have been where you are. It's horrifying to see it, hellish not to know.

    Our daughter lived on the streets, or with people who horrified us, for the first time when she was 14. There was nothing we could do, no magical phrase that could make her come home. She was in treatment after treatment, in therapy ~ we did everything we knew to change things for her.

    Nothing worked.

    Seeing her unexpectedly was worse than not seeing her at all, sometimes.

    I'm so sorry this is happening.

  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Echolette, if you ever met me or anyone who "knows" me.......you would find out that they have NO idea how deep my pain has been over the years. None. The only exception is the CD family and even then I rarely completely expose how painful it is and has been for me to handle weird turns of events that led me here in the first place. Hugs DDD
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    His being 19 and on the streets, this is probably the right place for you. I haven't a clue what to say to my son either. I'm more happy to deal with him in the abstract. For example, I know that he is now working - finally - and has a beater of a car. He called me a month or so back and told me that he was thinking of quitting his job and going to school through Vocational Rehab. We both have Muscular Dystrophy, but he is on SSI due to emotional problems. He is working as a Security Guard, which I had told him previously would be too physically taxing. He asked me what I thought. I told him that he now has responsibilities; he can't get into school until next term; he should keep working as a Security Guard and if he can get into school then he can maybe get a shift or two a week to supplement that. After all, I reminded him, I worked as a grocery cashier for 8 years and was in great pain every day but I had a family to support and I got decent pay and health insurance. He hmmed and hawed, and I didn't hear from him for a few weeks.

    I had husband call him last week, and he still is working as a Security Guard, I have no clue about school. He still has his car. I'm considering having our old mechanic put some decent tires on his car and getting him a AAA membership. I feel good about being able to consider this. It's the first time in literally decades that I have thought that I could get him a gift that he would really appreciate and need and I would enjoy giving to him. I don't have to send him a money order for $100 and say "he'll do what he'll do, I hope it's not a video game."

    I don't know what your future holds with your son. I'm sorry you have to run into him on the street in such circumstances. That would have kill me at one time. He's doing what he will do, and it has nothing to do with you any more. I personally would have a hard time not ignoring him, but I'm not very good at looking past the hurt. I wish I was different, but I'm not.

    FWIW, I started on the "General" board 11 years ago when M first left home. I haven't posted there but once in 7 - 8 years. M is grown, and I have nothing to say about school or teachers or treatment centers. M is out of our home and we've moved to the other end of the country. husband and I are alone and happy. I can't subject myself to the drama that goes with the childhood/adolescence of a difficult child.

    I hope we will see more of you here in PE.
  9. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    "people who horrified us" is so right. I can't believe he chooses those people over us. He is endlessly re-engaging with them..he likes to tell me that he has a new friend, that he wants me to meet her, that he considers her is sister (this makes his actual sister insane) or his mother (I thought that was funny and kind of nice that he felt cared for ) or brother. These people of course eventually throw him out or dump him, usually in a matter of many weeks. He doesn't know what real friendship is, just what feels good to him in the moment. He also has a litany of 20 something women who take him to emergency rooms when he has an anxiety attack or an overdose or a suicide attempt. They often call me and tell me about how I need to try harder to understand difficult child, what a good person he is...etc. I kind of appreciate their goodness and dumbness, although sometimes it pisses me off. They too, disappear never to be heard from again after a few weeks. Funny that they feel free to judge me and give me advice, huh!!
    Lasted edited by : Nov 24, 2013
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Echolette, have you attempted to get your son on SSI? He may be eligible for food stamps, medical insurance, etc. It's a limited amount of money, but it may be enough for housing. I believe if someone is homeless, the whole process is quicker too. You may have already mentioned this, but is he supposed to be taking medications and he is non compliant? As I mentioned earlier, once my brother got onto SSI and got a room, he stayed off of the streets and I felt he was safer.

    And, I think our kids hanging out with people who "horrify us" is common as well. My daughter has brought men to our home who appear to have crawled out from under a rock. My SO always says, "they look like they are casing the joint." My granddaughter calls them "hobos." Sigh. I think our kids hang with people they don't feel judged by and our difficult child's behavior is so bizarre that the sorts of "friends" seem to devolve as time goes on. I also think street people and those who are on the fringe of society form a whole "culture" which we are not even aware of.

    People who don't live in the world of difficult child really have no clue whatsoever as to what we all go through with our kids and often they do feel free to judge us based on the prevailing attitude that mothers especially are somehow responsible if our kids go off the rails.
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    RE - "hobos". I always get a smile out of that reference. It actually comes from post Civil War when there just weren't any jobs and the carpet-baggers were rampant. A man would own a hoe. He'd tramp (walk) or ride the rails and do field work. They were "hoe boys" - ie: hobos. If only some of the people our kids bring home were actually hobos. There's no shame in itinerant work. It's a hard life. But to call a "down-and-outer" a "hobo" is kind of an insult to hobos... ;)

    (I love word origins! Can you tell?)
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh Witz, I laughed out loud! You're so right, if ONLY the people our kids brought home were hobos!!! I'm still laughing.............
  13. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I am also sorry you are experiencing this. I know it hurts. Lisa and everyone else too had some really wise words for you.

    That awkward feeling with the man who was once your beloved child is so painful. I think that's what bothered me the most when my relationship w difficult child broke down. I just wanted to scoop him up and hold him close and get thru to him but that was not an option for many reasons- the biggest being that it would have driven him further away.I couldn't fathom that it wasn't an option. I couldn't fathom that he was choosing a squalid apartment over our comfortable warm home. I was so angry and HURT that he was assigning family roles and importance all these people I didn't know or like.

    I had had to keep reminding myself that the awkward small talk was something and that it had to be enough for now. I had to stop myself (usually unsuccessfully) from getting too far ahead and/or over analyzing every word. Seeing him randomly or the occasional phone all had to be enough, I had to will myself to realize that simply knowing he was breathing and that we had even that limited moment of communication was still a foot in the door and it meant that our relationship was not irretrievably gone.

    So let it been enough for now. Keep it short but true and try to leave him with warm words -- more for yourself than for him. It won't always feel so sharp - you will get used to the awkwardness. {hugs}
    Lasted edited by : Nov 24, 2013
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    The reason, in my opinion, that they find people who horrify us is because, sadly, THEY (difficult children) are a lot like those people they befriend. Who else would befriend a drug abuser who can't even act normal enough in his parents house to live there than an extreme difficult child? I don't think it is a personal crusade to scare us. I think this is where they fit in, considering where they are in life.

    I'll never forget when Julie was still using drugs and she brought home this tall, bald kid with tattoos up the wazzu (skulls and stuff) and the deadest eyes you could ever imagine. He looked soulless and he gave me the major creeps. He did not say hello or speak to me or barely move. After she quit drugs, he started stalking her and her friend online. He made some scary threats to come to Chicago and do bad things to her and her friend. Finally, they printed out his e-mails and took them to the police. The police contacted the Wisconsin police and found out that he had just been arrested and thrown in jail up here for some sort of assault. She has never heard from him again nor has her friend.

    When she is found by her old "friends" via FaceBook, it turns out they are all just out of jail, going to jail, or on parole and almost all have multiple kids from multiple people(poor things). She tells me that only one of her old friends straightened out her act, besides herself. My daughter wants nothing to do with them now. But when she was using, she didn't even realize these kids were off the rails. Drugs twist your mind, I guess. You will know your adult child is on his/her way to a better life when he/she dumps the dysfunctional "friends."

    "Birds of a feather stick together." My mama said it and she was right!
  15. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    He is on SSI, gets about $500/month and also about $200 /month in the equivalent of food stamps. Usually when I ask about it he says he blew it all on a binge. Which makes me really really mad. When I see him begging I want to ask him to hold a sign that says "I already blew $700 of your tax dollars, please give me change". Of course I have no idea if that is true...he may have lost the SSI by failing to follow-up, , he may have gotten ripped off by 'friends'--he hates to admit to me that he has done something dumb, or been taken advantage of by these people he insists are friends. That part is very sad..he actually thinks they value him for himself, and they never do.
    I do not ever let him have people in the house. I would not be able to sleep if they had even been there once. There are times I coudn't sleep with him loose in the house...I've locked him into the front foyer with a pillow and blanket, and locked him into a room. That, of course, does not go well...although he did stay in the foyer for 2 or 3 weeks once. That sucked.
    I can't tell you how much it helps me to hear you all having such similar experiences. It is kind of amazing that some one so off track apparently is on another well-trodden track!
    I love word origins too.
    and...yes, it is importnt to me that he feel that I love him. Right now I can't get that across...I am just o angry and upset it pours out of my pores when I have contact with him. I'm working on it.
  16. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I want to add that these practical suggestions (like SSI) are very helpful...I always worry that there is an unturned stone, some way of getting him housing that he would be ok with, for example. So please don't hesitate to check and be sure I've done what I can for him.
    My ex husband took him to a diner for breakfast today, along with the girlfriend. ITs surprising because ex was just awful at dealing with difficult child's differences for about 18 years...but its good too, better late than never. He said that they are full on street people, that he cried when he left breakfast, and that they seem very happy together.
  17. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    This story just confirms my gut feeling of not letting him have friends in the house!! I just think his judgement is sooo bad, and his desire to be a good friend to them soooo high, that he would easily let them rob us/have access to the house/party, whatever. Not to hurt me....just because he is clueless.
  18. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I don't know if I suggested it before or not but Volunteers of America often have low cost housing as well as other support programs. DDD
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    He should qualify for Housing. I believe homeless people are put at the top of the list.
  20. Scott_G

    Scott_G Member

    I think it's even truer the older they get. When they are young, it's easier for them to find a couch to crash on and people to hang out with who are semi-normal. But as the years progress, the "normal" people get on with their lives and want less and less to do with people who they see as losers. I mean what wife of a 30 something year old man would let one of her husbands drugg addicted buddies crash on their couch indefinitely. My 31 year old son is currently dating a 20 year old girl. Now it's not that I think there is anything wrong with the age difference, it's just that in my sons case I think that there is no normal woman of a more appropriate age for him that would want anything to do with him. Those women aren't looking for a bad boy that will bring them excitement, they are looking for a stable man that can be a good husband, father, and provider. My son currently can be none of those, in fact he has absolutely nothing going for him. He's got no money, no car, no permanant job, and he's living in a basement where he doesn't even have his own room. His only posessions in life are literally the clothes on his back. So a 20 year old heroin addict (who acts more like she's 15 just like he does) is simply a perfect girlfiend for him at his state in life. Sadly though, for as broke as he is, I feel that she is kind of using him as a sugar daddy in a way. For a while when they were living together, he worked and she didn't. He was (maybe still is) paying her cell phone bill. He was always crying about being broke, then one day they show up at our house and she's showing my wife the new pair of shoes he just bought her. He probably buys the drugs for both of them as well. At least he's getting laid I guess. The relationship seems kind of typical of young female drug addicts to me. They use sex to get older men to give them money and buy them things. I bet if either of them were sober, they would want nothing to do with the other.