I should never have come...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by blackgnat, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    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?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    No, you haven't lost your marbles. I think you just saw the light.

    Your Difficult Child already told you he is doing what he wants to do. He wants to abuse drugs and drink and not work. He is living up to what he told you he wanted. He may have played you a bit and said "I want to change" in order to get your heart to sing and for you to do him favors.

    You got a chance to see your Easy Child.

    Perhaps now it is time to go home for good, except for short visits to see Easy Child, and start thinking hard about what YOU want to do. You aren't going to change your Difficult Child. He is where he said he wants to be. I feel like distance helps sometimes.

    I can not totally relate because I never had your experience, but I have had difficulties with two of my adult children during different times and have felt better when they were not living with me. When they were there, I felt it was my responsibility to do something. When they weren't, I didn't worry as much as was able to let them make their own choices without interfering. My daughter did great without me and my son has a good life, even if he still suffers anxiety disorder when under stress. This is actually getting better and, although I never would have predicted this when he was going through his custody battle, we talk almost every day, sometimes twice a day and most of the time it is quite amicable.

    Of course he is in St. Louis. The distance was good for both of us. Now we can be close again, emotionally.

    But I can't fix any of my grown kids troubles and, trust me, even the Easy Child have their issues and I want to make it all better and they don't want me to. They want me to let them handle things themselves.

    It's time for you to have a wonderful rest-of-your-life and not worry so much about your boys. I know, I know. I was VERY codependent on my kids...but I learned to let go when I had to. It's not so hard once you make a life for yourself.

    Wishing you only the best!!!!!
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  3. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    You're being very hard on yourself Gnat. It's not normal, everyday life being away from home and staying in a different place. We all act differently when we're out of our comfort zones. It's a bit like being on vacation, I do things I'd never do at home. It's entirely understandable that you wanted to spend time with Easy Child and Difficult Child. It's a shame that can't be combined, but time spent with several of my kids apart is often better than time spent with them together. I don't think you've gone 50 miles backwards just because you acted differently for a week when you were living in different circumstances. Probably the decision to not take the job and not live in their home town all the time was a good decision. A bit of physical distance helps with the emotional distance. I hope this visit will have been a learning experience. It does seem to have been. Maybe you'll go back home now and find the right road again, but be even stronger for your visit and the experience of opening the door and peeping into the world you know you can't live in full-time.
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  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    This journey is a long long walk in the dark, stumbling along, toward more and more light. This trip was necessary for you to see more light.

    You are seeing more and more clearly. This is actually all good.

    Follow your instincts right now. You need space and distance and time. Make decisions that will give you those things.

    They are going to do what it they do. You can be separate from all of that and still love them.

    Go away from them. Set those physical boundaries so you can find what you need to live a Happy life. Every person's life is their very own, to do with what they will.

    I am learning this truth more and more every day.

    We want to be around healthy people who give and take in mutually respectful relationships. That is hard to accomplish even with our PCs...there is so much history between us. And we have to create new relationships with them as adults and it is new territory for us.

    Friends are so much easier!!

    You have learned so much on this trip BG. Go and get another copy of codependent no more when you can. Read it in earnest. You will value Melody BeAtties very direct and clear language right now. Keep sharing here. You are in a new and very good place. Keep walking forward. There is peace and happiness ahead for you.
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  5. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    It's SO much easier to be strong long-distance. I can be (at times) made of steel when I don't hear from my son at all. I can be strong telling him NO on the phone. But put him in front of me, when he's doing the "I'm so sad no one loves me I have nothing." and I crumble if I'm not very, very careful. Sometimes even then.

    Not that it really matters now since you are leaving soon...but maybe it would help to keep firmly in mind that you are a guest in their home. Would you change important rules in your home for people coming to visit? Well, maybe you would...but should they expect you to?

    Best in this case is to visit Difficult Child elsewhere. Take him to dinner. Go to the park. Short visits may well be better anyway.

    This is sad. I'm so sorry.

    Has it? Maybe you wish you'd have behaved differently...but you KNOW what you did and you recognize that it was enabling. That's something.

    I hope your last day is a good one.
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  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I read somewhere a while back that people fall back into old, familiar roles when they go home for holidays with family. That's why holidays can be so stressful for so many. We forget who we've become outside of our family, and slip right back into old familiar patterns, even the negative ones. Seems to me this is something along those lines, too.

    Take a deep breath. You're ok! Forgive yourself for "slipping," because I think it's perfectly understandable under the circumstances. You recognize what's going on, and that's huge. You've learned something too - you need to keep your distance. I think this means you've have stronger boundaries next time, you'll know what to expect.

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  7. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    It's a journey......not a race.
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  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Just wanted you to know I'm here too blackgnat, reading along and learning. I loved pasa's comment about this being a journey, not a race. That is a good thing for us all to remember. We are doing the best we know, every minute.

    Remember when Albatross posted about all of us being in the rabbit hole, now?

    It is like that, isn't it. Everything so strange, and so hurtful.

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  9. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hey there, thanks for sharing your update.

    Believe it or not you have made progress. You turned down the job because you clearly see that it's not the place for you to be right now.
    You know that it is not healthy for you to be there.

    Don't be so hard on yourself. My Difficult Child is hard to around when he's sober let alone when he's been drinking and drugging.

    This is good. You do need to focus on what it is that you want. Being a "people pleaser" usually just leads to you being a door mat.
    Do what makes you happy!!

    You never need to apologize for the length of a post, that's what this site is for.
    It takes time to work through the feelings and emotions. You are doing well and you will get through this.

    I'm really glad that you are sharing here. We are here for you.

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  10. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I agree with this so much. I can feel great equilibrium from a distance, but even just meeting Difficult Child for lunch (even when things are going WELL!) can knock my feet right out from under me.

    And I sure don't see this as any kind of slip or failure on your part. Think about how that visit would have gone before. You have come such a long way in recognizing what is going on and considering what YOU want and need. Progress, not perfection, as they say.

    Congratulations on the job offer! And good for you for realizing it might not be the best time or place to accept it right now. If you are still looking I am sure there will be plenty of other great opportunities!
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