So guys, I'm in Colorado right now-I combined a visit to see my sons with a job interview. Got the job, but turned it down because I seriously cannot handle the family dynamic. Ex husband and Easy Child live together. Difficult Child is currently out of jail, wandering the streets panhandling during the day and sleeping at night in ex's VW van, which is parked in the apartment complex lot. Actually, since I have been here, he is sleeping in my car, as he is paranoid that the cops will be on the lookout for him in the bus (he was arrested a couple of weeks ago for being drunk and on the premises-both of which are violations of his restraining order) but won't look in the car. As you can see, we are all still HIGHLY dysfunctional. I'm wondering if I have even learned ONE DAMN THING from all my therapy and efforts to detach. Within 36 hours of my arrival here last week, I realized that I had made a mistake in coming and that as soon as I am within spitting distance of Difficult Child, I revert to the old enabler that I've been . VERY disheartening. Difficult Child has, until this evening, been alcohol free and talking the most brilliant game of how something just "snapped" and he knew he didn't want to live like this any more. Time to turn it all around. With ex's help, he decided he'd go to Portland, OR, where there is a huge support network for the homeless. I've been able to have a lot of great conversations with him, because he's been off the booze. Pot, yes, and probably more, but no booze, which is the substance that alters him for the very worst. But there has been such a lot of tension-ex allows Difficult Child to visit sporadically, but when he started showing up frequently and randomly, he decided to put a limit on it. Ex told Difficult Child he could visit on Sunday between 11 and 1 but then he had to leave. Easy Child doesn't want him here at all and ex respected this, as Easy Child pays rent. The first 2 days I got here, Easy Child was working and so the two boys did not cross paths, but Difficult Child then proceeded to make himself thoroughly at home and this angered and infuriated both Easy Child and ex. They did not feel the rules should be changed just because I am visiting. My thought was, "Well, I'm only here for a little while, can't he stay and visit with me?". Of course, he was taking more liberties than he should-staying up and watching videos after I had gone to bed, etc. One night ex told him he couldn't "hang out" and Difficult Child left, almost in tears and feeling very rejected. It really upset me. I think because I have a colossal failure to have boundaries. I mean, it's just ridiculous, how boundaryless I am. I thought I had come such a long way, but I haven't even moved. So it has been a case of me feeling like I have to choose between the boys-if I want to see one, I can't see the other. I have to give equal time to both. Sometimes when Easy Child is gone, Difficult Child is nowhere to be found and the end result is that I am trying to please EVERYONE and am pleasing NO-ONE. I think the problem is also that I'm placing WAY too much importance in my role as a mother. They DON'T need me-I already figured this one out last year, but apparently need to be hit over the head with it until it sinks in. In fact my presence seems to upset the equilibrium of the boundaries they have established and whether I like them or not shouldn't be an issue. Of course, Difficult Child has been using the hell out of me , rides to downtown, rides for his homeless buddy, etc. I HAVE been making him use his food stamps to buy my groceries, so that's been a form of compensation. But the unsettling thing is the uneasy feeling I get when I see that he is quite hard about using me. He has missed two appointments from the Mental Health Department-THOSE are the rides I don't mind giving him- and has avoided the opportunities I offered him to check out rehabs in the area. I didn't see him at all yesterday and just happened to bump into him this afternoon while I was out on a walk. He had broken his sobriety (the booze one, anyway) and was a little belligerent about wanting to drink more. I left him in my car and went up to the apartment for the evening. Knowing what dangers could ensue, I still felt incredibly sad. Here the rest of our fragmented family are upstairs eating dinner and talking and he is alone in the car, half drunk, high on God knows what . My Easy Child persuaded me to stay one more day (against my therapist's wishes-she said I should stay a week, max) so I will. It's very hard to leave him, especially, but also my Difficult Child. I feel I am abandoning them both-this is where I need to work on my role as a mother. Because I don't WANT to be around this chaos and I don't want to witness the resentments and bitterness within the so-called family. I think I'm finally starting to understand the concept of seeing what it is that *I* want. The reality is that I'm not pleasing anyone by trying to please everyone. I forgot to leave my ego at the door. I really had to see this for myself, to understand that I am weak and malleable, that I can't seem to give love without being afraid that I'm going to hurt someone else in the process. And now that Difficult Child is drinking, I want to avoid him and that's NOT a nice way to spend the last day of my visit. I'm SO sorry about the length of this and the rambling nature of this post. It's late here and I am struggling to deal with feelings that are either unfamiliar to me, or that I thought I had conquered. Still have SUCH a long way to go. I thought my visit here would have some kind of healing effect. Yet it has set me back about 50 miles. Can anyone relate to my thought processes here? Or have I finally lost my marbles?