I think I've Found My People


I've been reading posts all day. My emotions are confusing to me, but when I click on general parenting and general parenting topics are stuff like arrests, I feel relieved. That's what *my* general parenting is like.

I don't feel so much like I can "talk" to my civilian friends right now. I'm toying with the idea of relinquishing my custody to the state. Largely as leverage to get almost-16 year old son to sign on to the rehab where he is now in line for a year-long bed. But, I'm yet entirely certain that I'm not out of my mind.

First, business- I don't get all the abbreviations here. husband is dear husband difficult child seems to have to do with a kid who is acting up?

I'm very angry with the system. I live in a large city, maybe that's part of it but it doesn't know itself, so can direct a person trying to navigate it around. I'm also a little overwhelmed so I need to skip between topics. I'm not in the easy, uber-coherent way right now.

So, I'm trying to force him into rehab. But he mostly just smokes pot. I'm not even positive that he's an addict--I suspect it's more coming from some budding personality problem.

Basics: He's supposed to be in 10th grade. For the last 5 years he has bounced between many therapists and social workers and substance abuse councilors. He gets referred out or stops going frequently. We leave a wake of therapists and mostly well-meaning unhelpful people everywhere we go.

A state-sponsored program wanted me to try homeschooling. Obviously, that wasn't going to work, but I gave an honest go. That's what I do- my best, over and over. And I'm just through at this point. That sounds cruel even to my ears. I really love him, but I cannot keep going.

He got mandated for a bit to an outpatient substance abuse program and they suggested a day treatment program and the day treatment program said, no, he's too risky, he needs inpatient. The first inpatient said no, he's not severe enough. Then the second inpatient, bless them that they listened to me in the end, told me that they couldn't take him because they are voluntary and he doesn't want help. I explained to the them that if they don't offer him a bed and let him refuse it (and I'm not sure he will refuse it because he gets that I am at the end of my rope and the court process we are in now is leave him in jail if he won't go to rehab….) …. I told them that maybe I can get his case fast tracked (I am the complainant) if he doesn't agree to go. And they put him in line for a bed.

So actual progress has been made. Huge progress. What I'm calling progress is shutting down the status quo, which just can't happen fast enough for my liking. I need him out of the house. I missed work over his stuff two half days this week. The week before I actually got to go to work every day. The week before that it was one full day and one half day…. it's unrelenting. There is always a crisis. A new intake for some program that I know damn well isn't going to work but in order to get to the next step we have to give it a go and wait for it to fail.

So, right now he has an intake tomorrow for an after school program. Those people are also supposed to monitor his school attendance, which is interesting because he doesn't even go to school because he is was stuck on the homeschool roster. Now I have a judge behind me a bit and he does mostly comply when it's a judge telling him what to do- so I probably could get him to go with me for a community school - but seeing as how day treatment has just told me that he's too much to go to school at the hospital I sort of fail to see the point in even trying a community school. I know what he needs. I have him in line to receive what he needs. The judge, I assume, probably safely assume, will eventually mandate inpatient but that could take months….. But could get fast tracked once he fails out of the after school program- but that will result in jail.

The things that drive me the craziest is the ping pong between mental health and substance abuse people/places, the fact that, having tried so many things, I often get referrals that send me in circles. Place A sends me to place B, place B sends me to place C and place C sends me to place A….. The fact that there is no way to really know what the consequences of taking legal steps are, because the system doesn't know itself. And plenty of other things too.

His diagnosis's for years have been conduct disorder and cannabis abuse. The doesn't respond to consequences or rewards so I basically can't have rules. He just doesn't do rules. And not for lack of my trying. We are 5 years into this. I also get really mad when some new therapist sees one of his sunny, compliant periods and mistakes that for progress, rather than just a particular moment, to be appreciated for sure, but a particular moment in pattern.

So, now. He's in line for a bed at a place that will keep him about a year, so long as he stays. And, while I totally get my powerlessness, if he doesn't go there he can't stay here. What I am unclear on is time line-- will I give calling children's services to come get him a few months- the course of the court case? Is there actually more than a .0001% chance of him being compliant enough with the after school program that he even makes it through the case?

When I gave myself the day at a time message board name I gave myself the answer. I know what I am going to do tomorrow. Everything gets very convoluted and my thoughts get jumbled when I try to think past tomorrow. I love the "go where it's warm" slogan from alonon. That's the other thing I'm going to just keep doing. I'm not going to talk to people who will judge and shame me…. other than his Dad- and I'm only going to text him. (No, Dad won't take son.)

That's my spew.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Hello dayatatime and welcome to the CD board. You have certainly have had your hands full for a long time. I think you are on the right track.

difficult child stands for Gift from God and we use it somewhat in cheek. Here is a list of acronyms that we use on the board.


Others will come by to say hello and give advice. I don't know much about the court system and how it works with minors. I know that we have members with teenagers who would know more about this.

Keep posting. You will find incredible support and understanding here.



Well-Known Member
Welcome... you have come to the right place. No judgement here as most of us have been there in one form or another. My son sounds a lot like your son only he is now 22.... but we have been dealing with all this since he was 14. He has been in many treatment places... and like you trying to find good treatment for a combination of mental health and substance abuse is difficult and the system of both treatments plus the legal system is do darned flawed and frustrating!!

Finally what caught up and ultimately helped my son was the legal system!! Strange as that is... he spend some time in jail and they finally got him into a long term residential treatment program. They would have had him do outpatient if we had been willing to have him live at home but because of my daughter we would not do that! And I doubt that would have worked as well,

Anyway as you said it is one day at a time and I cannot count on anything but he has been there for 5 months so far and seems to be doing well. So I am currently hopeful (although very cautious with my hope).

So welcome and keep posting here.


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one day at a time
You have found your people, Day. We are your people. So glad you are reading lots of posts. Writing will help you too, so start writing here and on other posts, your thoughts, feelings and ideas. I am sure you have good experience to share.

I am sorry you are not only dealing with your son but the system. It IS too much, and it's clear you need a break. Day, we are only human and we are not superhuman, but dealing with our difficult children requires superhuman everything.

I know I was like the walking dead at one time. I was completely sick and tired, and I mean that literally. That was a good day, looking back. That was the day I decided I could do THIS anymore and something had to change or I was going to lose my own life.

That was the day I started caring about myself as much as I do my son, who is 24.5.

I have been in a living hell with him for the past four+ years. The *fun* began when he went into 7th grade but it was very mild stuff through h.s., and I kept thinking he would grow out of it. He really ramped up (that I saw) when he was 19 to 20, and full-bore for the past few years.

Arrests, jail x ?, rehabs, homeless x 4, kicked out here x ?, kicked out dad's house x 2-3, no friends, no job, no money, no ID, wrecked car, defaulted student loan, multiple fines, misdemeanors, felonies, etc. etc. etc.

This is a kid (man) who had a very good home life, with 2 parents (we are divorced now but that happened in his senior year of h.s.), a brother, an upper middle class family with rules, curfews, dinner on the table, active in church. You name it. He had every opportunity but we expected things from him, a part-time job since he was 16, paying for his own gas and spending money, make good grades, do your homework, etc.

He doesn't like rules.

Today he is homeless and has been for 40+ days in the town right here where I live. He doesn't have a problem, Day. He doesn't need help.

Every day, I give him over to God. And then I give myself over to God. I can't do a thing to help him anymore. I have tried it ALL, over and over and over again. Nothing worked. I see him for about 10 minutes a week. We sit in the car and talk and it's good. He is calm, kind and we hug and say we love each other. He has lots of plans but I don't see them happening.

But you know what? It's none of my business. I spend time on my own recovery every day, in Al-Anon, using the tools, exercise, my faith, this board, etc. I have a plan to do that every day and I do it. That plan is what has saved my sanity and I have a very good life, regardless.

I hate drama now. I can't stand the drama and chaos and never-ending I wants but I don't want to anything myself from difficult children (and others in this world). If that is your schtick, then have at it, but you and I will see each other on a limited basis, friend/difficult child. I'm not into that anymore.

I'm into peace, contentment, serenity, joy and purpose. I love my son very much and that will never change. I am slowly learning how to have a relationship, such as it is, with him. I have to keep good physical distance right now, and then I can be loving and kind, which is what I want to be.

He will get it when he gets it, or he won't. It's his choice and I have learned there is so much help "out there" for people who want it, apart from their parents. But if they don't, there is nothing that will help.

I know your son is a minor and that puts a whole 'nother light on it. I do know that when we are at the end of our ropes, there has to be some relief. You will have to have relief, Day. Your first responsibility is to yourself. If you can't take care of yourself (job, sleep, some peace, etc) something needs to change now so you can.

Then, when you are rested, can think more clearly and can make a plan, you can deal more logically about what to do long-term with your son. Do something to buy that time for you.

You know Al-Anon, your post says, so I hope you are going very frequently right now. There was a time when I went to a meeting every day. My recovery progressed so much faster, the more I worked at it. It takes work and time and commitment to change, for us and for them.

Hugs and peace and rest I wish you today. Please keep coming back. We get it and we care.


Well-Known Member
Hello DAAT. I'm glad you've found this site. It's helped me loads, reading other people's experiences and sharing feelings. I like your forum-name. That's how I feel. I've tried talking to friends about my son too, but I can see the bewilderment in their eyes. They've no idea how to respond and just start talking about their wonderful kids with their normal lives. You don't get that here and it's such a relief. Hope you find some suggestions that help you. :encouragement:

in a daze

Well-Known Member
Hi, DAAT. My God, you've been through the ringer with your son. Support groups are very helpful. It seems you know about Alanon. Do you have a Families Anonymous Group near you? A therapist of your own is very helpful with support and helping you set boundaries...especially an MSW, who are more apt to know about community resources.

I also get really mad when some new therapist sees one of his sunny, compliant periods and mistakes that for progress, rather than just a particular moment, to be appreciated for sure, but a particular moment in pattern.

I can relate. I don't think my son's problems were as bad as yours when he was a juvenile, although they were bad enough. So looking back from age 16, when it started, to age 27, I do remember the feeling of desperation and helplessness...calling the psychiatric doctor's office, could we get an earlier appointment, could he please call us back, changing psychiatrists, changing medications, tutors, neurofeedback, the therapist who made ME feel better but didn't do much for my son, on and on and on...got better after high school, went away to school and did ok until he discovered the wonderful world of drug and alcohol around age 21, downhill from there (see my signature). So I get it about the terrible runaround you've had.

And you are right about the terrible disconnect between SA programs and mental health. My son was in a highly regarded rehab program in Northern Illinois. They gave him some cursory exam on admission and decided he wasn't depressed, even though he's been seeing psychiatrists for years. Really?

Well, he might get better as he gets older. My nephew did. It sounds like you are going to do whatever you need to do to get your son the help he needs. I think you know your boundaries. We are all behind you. Thoughts and good wishes to you as you continue on, one day at a time.


Thank you, to everyone. I adore the difficult child term- that nails it exactly- all the turmoil and that fact that my boy remains the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes. Keeping us both healthy and pushing us both toward increasingly healthier bodies, minds, and behaviors is my warrior path. I'm a little frustrated with Al-onon lately, but I still go a bit and my sponsor has yet to kick me to the curb, though I've barely moved along on step work for about a year. I have also worked intensively with my own therapist for many years. In parenting issues though, I can still feel a little isolated. And tentative about speaking. A couple weeks ago a friend was trying to talk to me about her kid's screen time being too much (at a couple hours a day)- I just find increasingly that I can't relate. Sometimes there's a touch of compare and despair, but it's deeper than that. Today a friend's son suddenly decided he wanted to play me something on the piano- in the past he's been shy about that. I got a little teary- he was so connected to something so beautiful- or just connected to and invested in ANYTHING, had worked so determinedly and accomplished… So there's this slight shadow of self-pity, but the bigger picture is just accessing my own sadness. I find I have become a little numb. My own path has taken me from extreme passivity to needing to step up my sensitivity, watch the harshness of my boundaries. From my point of view at this moment I am the sort of person who will call the cops on her own son at the drop of a hat. But that thought is distorted, it's always hard- I never know when to do it. His room is way better than mine and I'm daydreaming about what it be like when he's away and I can take his space over, which is a metaphor and a literal plan. He needed that big room when he was little because it was where he had room to play with friends, then he had the room and I didn't want to kick him out of it. The evening after court (Wednesday) he was a major difficult child, but from then on he's been a easy child. I think he relaxes, knowing his back is against the wall- I've got him- can hold him up and in- and the fact that I need to use the legal system to do that- to make that safe container where he is not the one in control is unfortunate but I feel very, very lucky that I have been brave enough to take those actions. He's decided to try new medications- went and got them on his own- is making effort- actually sought out help. It is always possible that I am erring on the side of over-vigilance - that he get it now - but I'm still not going to let him go into a lower level of care than he and *I* need. Seriously, some respite, please. And it's ok that *I* have needs. I, too, am a human being. And the actions I'm taking are not selfish because they are exactly the same actions I'd do it I only wanted to do what is best for him. It's very good for me to read the stories of adult children still dating out. On one hand, it's sad and I am very sorry that anyone else has had this path, but on the other, it affirms my faith that taking strong action now is a very good idea. Everyone's stories have a blurred, and I kind of like it that way- to me, that's the spirituality inherent in anonymity. But a couple stories about difficult children making promises to seek help at critical junctures then not following though… I know about this little flash of apparent light in difficult children sudden PCness. That's where I feel harsh and black belty at the same time- I'm not giving this flash of compliance time to fail- I've got him good and cornered right now with the perfect storm of MH and SA referrals to long term treatment coupled with the light of (what I am expecting, but who knows) what is to come from the judge (mandating of the level of care I'm seeking)…. On the day of difficult children 16th birthday our paperwork will be processed and he will eligible to grab a bed. We are celebrating today- just the two of us, the dog, a cake, and a pay-per-view (or whatever they call it these days) movie. Because come the day of his birthday he could be gone- just in time to get him out of the house before he does something dumb after having reached the age at which he would be legally accountable as an adult. It's a plan, but a day at a time. Thoughts linger about the course of action that I will choose should he choose not to sign the papers, but I can just label those as worry thoughts and let them go. I've done my homework- know what my options are.

Toughlovin, I had already recognized elements of the dynamics at play in my relationship with kiddo while reading some of your other posts. Childofmine, I'm right there with you on gratitudes for my bottoms- that's always when my life changes. And I, too, am *so* over drama. It bores me (though I can still pick the narcissist out of any crowd- I just look for the one I find attractive). My son says he'll choose homelessness, and I have no idea how I'd stomach that if it comes to that. I pray that I will never find out. You're right- there's tons of help for people who want it. I've had a lot of help from various social services and my life is transformed. There's a Rilke poem:

Archaic Torso of Apollo
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

I think all the time: I have changed my life.

And, now, I can be grateful that my son had severe enough problems erupt early enough that I can intervene, though it's a pain for me, I can take it.

:)This is what I'm like then I'm not fraught- as I was when I first posted. My thoughts flow nicely, not like shard of a broken mirror.:)

Anonymously yours,


Well-Known Member
I swear I responded to your post, lol, BUT where to heck is it? Welcome is the short response. You've found YOUR people and we are glad to have you but sad you need to join our ranks. Hugs. DDD