If there is someone that would be my friend...I would be grateful.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
It seems as if I am learning how to go through the motions of detachment parenting....but the consensus is that I have not yet given up the habit of surrendering my entire emotional space to my son.

I have surrendered my emotional life to playing out reactions not only to what my son does, decides to do or considers doing, but to a generalized fear, preoccupation, dread, and worry about what he could do, what could happen.

It helped me to see it this way: Listen to what your friends whose children are doing well say about their children. See that special glow that comes over them, the pride, the feeling of a job well done.

That is normal.

These parents have never had to learn to dissociate themselves emotionally from their children.

We have. For their survival, and for our own, we have had to learn that really crummy thing. We can name it whatever we want. At bottom, we have had to learn, and to act on, something it is impossible to do. For the sakes of our children, we are doing it.

And for me, for sure, it is a really hard thing.

For my children to be okay, I have to be that mom who does not help, advise, or buy them stuff. I don't get to have a generous spirit toward myself or my children.


Especially given the patterns in my FOO, especially given that I taught myself how to live my life based on not being my mother, this is a kind of spiritual devastation for me.

But it is what it is.

And it seems to be helping. To have taken on this new way of being, I mean. And that is all I know.

Every day, that is all I know.

There are parents who have never had to question themselves and their families and their life choices the way those of us whose children are not doing well have determined to do out of our own senses of honesty and integrity and willingness to question our parenting ~ our basic identities, even. We have not found reliable answers in how we have parented which could explain what happened to our families. We focus and determine to find that wrong thing that we did...but we never can find it.

It wasn't us. We could take responsibility in any of a thousand ways and it would not help our kids.

Our children, whether through some illness or through drug use or addiction or a weird combination of both, are in pretty serious trouble.

And helping turns into the ugliness of enabling.

And it is really hard to cherish ourselves and our people through what feels like a dangerous wilderness place where nothing makes sense.

But you are here with us, now.

Somehow, we get ourselves and one another through the places we cannot stand up through alone.

You can do this, Copa.

At least for now, there is no other choice.

But we are here. We have been where you are.

And we are still standing.



Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Tango, Cedar. But I want to do ballet too: For core strength, balance, flexibility, grace. Sounds like a plan, no? Will let you know more in a bit.

Whoa! I love that. Tango, huh? In a flaring red dress that floats and whirls and shows flashes of thigh. And really high heels.


I love it. I would probably get my dress caught on the rose I would insist on wearing between my teeth.

Probably from the first lesson.

Ha!!! I love this thinking.

Ballet is about core strength and etc too...but more, it was about challenging myself to put myself in a place where I felt foolish. It was about willingly putting myself in a place where I did not know, where I was not doing it well, where I could never win.

Where nothing could be hidden. Not in tights and leotard.

And I loved it.

I still love it.

I seek that feeling every time.

That is what we mean, when we write about leaning in.

There is incredible growth, there.

It is like meeting our fears head on.

And losing.

We become very strong, when we seek out those things that make us uncomfortable.

It has to do with integrity, maybe.

I would love to do tango lessons.

How very cool.

I would like to do belly dancing lessons, too.

I do yoga and Tai Chi these days. I will have to drive across a really scary bridge to take ballet classes where I used to. I might do it. I would be confronting the age thing now, too.

Pretty scary though, to drive across that bridge for it.

I have driven across it for other things, though.



Well-Known Member
Hi Cedar,

I understand that I cannot help my son. I understand that I have to set
firm limits. I think I understand what it is to DO this thing.

What I do not understand is how to feel this thing.

How to not worry night and day. And to not project these worries into the future.

How to not make my life 100 percent about this tragedy because I am sad and depressed all day.

How to deal with my dislike of the person my son has become.

The fear that I will never recover myself or my life, that I will die from this.

That all I will ever again really want to do is to lie in bed. I was a mobile, adventurous and ambitious woman. I live a life largely in bed.

Yes. There is the tango. But it is if I have decided to go to the Amazon in a canoe. That is how hard it is to get there, to sustain it.


Well-Known Member
I do yoga and Tai Chi these days. I will have to drive across a really scary bridge to take ballet classes where I used to. I might do it. I would be confronting the age thing now, too. Pretty scary though, to drive across that bridge for it.

Cedar, you nailed part of it. I have become afraid to drive. I can drive in town. I cannot drive town to town. Tango is over an hour away by freeway. So far M has gone with me...on the train or Greyhound...because he too has become afraid of the freeway.

The freeway would be impossible enough in itself. But where we live there are lots of big rig trucks. There are so many fears. Such panic.

I would love to just drive onto the freeway and just do it. But I am terribly afraid of merging. And bridges and overpasses, too.

This is helpful, Cedar. If I could just get up out of the bed and go somewhere...that I wanted to go....I think I would do it. There is nowhere here to go.

I spoke to an old friend I met when I was 21 and have not seen in close to 40 years. She said,"the thing I remember most about you is how fun you are. *FUN????, you always went places...new places...new things...and had fun. Laughing. Everything I ever did with you seemed like I was doing it for the first time...You were always open...exploring...."

I squawked with disbelief. NOOOOO WAAAAY. This person does not exist. This person has been in bed for almost two years.

Afraid and sad. *When this woman heard my voice on the phone message I left. She had fear for me. I sounded to her OLD and desperate.
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Well-Known Member
Take your fears and your ambitions and discuss with your therapist, who can help you come up with a plan. Fear is often addressed by desensitization - not just jumping into the deep end, but working toward it in logical fashion.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
For me Copa, it was a cold, steely eyed decision. What I was doing was not working. I could not see a way to go.

So I didn't go anywhere.

I decided to survive it. My mind set changed from "I can do this." to "I don't know." I don't know how to do this. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to talk to either of my children and I know nothing, anymore, about my own life, either.

I became intimately familiar with my own suffering.

I learned how to suffer with intent, with dignity, with acceptance. I learned to be almost in awe of my own strength.

That is my safe harbor against the future. Whatever it is, I will be able to be present to it. Fear will be there. I am familiar with my fear. It can be safely discounted.

I learned that on Child of Mine's High Chair Tyrants thread.

I learned it reading Richard Rohr on my Facebook.

I knew nothing about anything. I stopped pretending I did.

Ours (mine, and my family's) is an ugly story.

The only thing I did know was that what I was doing wasn't working. Areas of vulnerability stretching back to childhood trauma were cracking wide open and I don't know that I was even technically sane, anymore. That is why I post so much about my own childhood, here on this site created for another purpose. It was as though every trauma with my kids got attached, somehow, to every unresolved trauma in my lifetime.

I was so hurt, Copa.

I was so freaking hurt, and so clueless, and so lost in it. The part of me that was for public consumption was carrying on flawlessly Copa, but I was falling apart inside.

I described it once like this: Pulling up a fishing line, hand over hand. There seemed to be no bottom to this body of water. The darker and colder and deeper the water got, the stranger the things encrusted to my fishing line were.

Finally, the encrustations were unrecognizable, and horrifying in some wordless way.

We have no choice Copa.

For those of us whose kids are in trouble, and who have had traumatic pasts they have been strong enough to function in spite of...every lesson we taught ourselves about our worlds, about how to function through loving and kindness and believing in the good ~ all that stuff, everything we have created ourselves to be, everything we believe in with all our hearts...all that stuff is the wrong way to help an addicted or mentally ill child.

My life focus became very small, infinitesimally small.

My kids.

That is where I was real.

Everything else is just what else I do.

We have to be very strong, Copa. More than almost anyone you will meet.

I made a toolbox, as Child of Mine suggests.

I learned to take time, to not be overwhelmed when I could not see or breathe, when I was in the FOG Recovering Enabler posted about for us.

Those were the two things.

An agnostic from the word go, I began listening to Joel Osteen. He is like the best, most positive therapist/cheerleader that ever happened.

He helped me.

For you, it may be something different.

You will find it.

Pema Chodron, Oprah Super Soul Sunday. (Where they talk about this stuff all the time: how to survive it). Viktor Frankl, Elie Weisel, Etty Hilesum. Brene Brown, Anne Rice, Anne Lamott. Richard Rohr ~ again and again and again, Richard Rohr.

Charles Williams. Descent Into Hell, The Greater Trumps.

Joseph Campbell.

Eckhart Tolle

Maya Angelou. Forever, Maya Angelou.

I began a quote box. I keep them on lined index cards. When I am in the FOG, when I literally cannot think or sleep or know what to do, I go through my quotes. That helps me. That is why I post them here so often.

It helps me to give to someone else what I know helped me.

During the worst of it (And I have two children, and grands ~ and that is a whole new vulnerability, and there are too many now, and D H and I are in the culmination of our lives, not the beginning.) I began studying mysticism. Not magic or any of that, but the mystics in every religion, the deep stuff, the agape stuff. From that, I took a kind of comfort in understanding that maybe none of us knows, but that there seems to be a purpose. A purpose I cannot see, because I am living this one, short lifetime. But if I could draw back, if I could track the patterns...it could be that it would make sense.

So, I was able to let go of my anger at the unfairness of it.

And my guilt.

D H told me once that I needed to forgive...myself.


That was huge.

It was as if I believed that if I punished myself enough, if I gave up enough, if I sacrificed those things that mattered so deeply to me...then I could pay all of our ways out.

Here is a quote for you Copa, from Charles Williams.

"Sybil remembered the crucifixions of her past, and by each of them, where she herself hung and screamed and writhed, she saw the golden halo and the hands of the Fool holding and easing her, and heard his voice murmuring peace."

Charles Williams
The Greater Trumps

"As his family disintegrated around him....

The flares of emotional pain faded to a dull, manageable ache, the surges of anger became soft waves of sorrow, and he was able to turn, for the first time, toward the loss, rather than away from it.

And then, finally, to move on, marked by loss but not defined by it."

Michael Koryta
The Prophet

"Accept ~ then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.... This will miraculously transform your life."

Eckhart Tolle

"Surviving means being born over and over."

Erica Jong

"Whenever we do focus on them, the effect is always the same. We become passive and confused, and we don't think for ourselves, which is exactly what we must do."

Anne Rice

And finally, this. As I let go of that external locus of control, as I begin finding safe harbor only here, inside me, this helps me. There are so many people in our lives who will not like losing their control over us. It feels really crummy to be judged and found wanting, to be accused of things that we now refuse to twist facts around to "understand" for the sake of relationship.

It is what it is.

It is what it looks like.

Believe them, the first time they tell you who they are.

I have been a fool for lesser things all my life. By choice. Now, I am being a fool for lesser things, for me.

Anyway, here it is:

"Not to blame
not to strike.
To sleep, and sit

I don't know where I got that. Martial arts somewhere, from the tone of it.

Okay. So here is one more, Copa. At first, for years, I believed it to mean that I would hold faith that we would all recover ourselves ~ that my kids would be fine, that my family would be whole. Now, I see it as a tool for acceptance.

It means nothing, and it means everything.

I might even put it back at the bottoms of my posts, again.

I had it there for awhile. Then, I lost faith in pretty much everything that was holding me up. Now, I see faith itself as something other than I had known it to be. There seems to be no bargaining with it. I suppose I hold faith now that there is purpose.

Whether I see it or not, it is what it is.

Lately, I have been able to cherish so much being alive in the world. Just being a living being, feeling and seeing and knowing all these things that will never hold still.

"Faith is not, contrary to the usual ideas, something that turns out right or wrong, like a gambler's bet. It is an act, an intention, a project; something that makes you, in leaping into the future, go so far, far ahead that you shoot clean out of Time and right into Eternity, which is not the end of Time or unending time, but timelessness, that old, Eternal Now.



Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I am going to figure out how to post a photo of that painting I bought, Copa.
If I could just get up out of the bed and go somewhere

Small steps.

Expect self sabotage. Part of us is learning we are stronger than we knew. She is afraid we will do a wrong thing and the world will come crashing down on us again.

And it will.

But we will be stronger enough, when it does. Until it happens. Until that thing happens that we cannot do.

But we do that, too.

You are stronger than you know or can believe.

Small steps, Copa.

I had this on my fridge for the longest time, back in the beginning. Can't believe I forgot to include Dr. Seuss in my famous quotes list.

Add him, okay?

Very much, there is wisdom in Dr. Seuss, for me. I am not so choosy, anymore, about where my strength comes from. There are no atheists, in foxholes.

I'm so sorry this is happening to you too, Copa.

"Your brains in your head
your feets in your shoes.
You can go
any direction you choose."

That is the direct Seuss quote. I added this, for the one I kept on the fridge:

Your brains in your head
your feets in your shoes.
Your hands in your pockets
you got nothing to lose.

You can go
any direction you choose.

There is nothing simple or easy or okay about watching our lives crash down around our ears. Coming back from it is hard. It requires strength we don't believe we have.

So create it. Behave as if. Go to the tango lesson, though you will not want to and what you want doesn't matter.

Do it.


Here is one more quote. I have so many quotes written down in my quote box. I wish I could share them all with you. But here is the thing: My quotes don't matter. Find those that describe your own situation to you.

Small steps, Copa. With our families in the positions they are, it is a hard truth that we truly do have nothing to lose.

Thus, and to that exact degree, we are free of fear.

There is a story: A woman pirate, fierce and beautiful and wild as could be. Her child is kidnapped. Black Bart or Methamphetamine Markus pulls the boy to the front of the ship where his mother can see and threatens to hang him from the yardarm. The mother throws up her skirts and howls: "Go ahead. I can make another."

And so, the boy was saved.

We laugh about our pirate skirts, here on the site.

But we are deadly serious.

Well, I am.


Now I forgot the quote I was going to send you.



Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I would love to just drive onto the freeway and just do it. But I am terribly afraid of merging. And bridges and overpasses, too.

So, here is my driving across the bridge story: A huge, old, rattling white semi. I pass him. Don't want him anywhere near me when I am driving the bridge. I get onto the freaking bridge and what should pull up on my left side, just barely out of the periphery of my vision, but that stupid white semi.

He was there, just out of my range of vision, through the whole crossing.

I was driving a convertible.

Windy, noisy, wild ride in the best of times.

And there I was, driving the bridge with that rattling old semi just behind and out of my range of vision.

I realized afterword that I had dreamed it before it happened.

I continued to cross the bridge. I had made a commitment to do something that required refresher classes. There were like, five refresher classes. None of the other bridge drives were as scary as that first one.

Man, it sucked.


Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
What I do not understand is how to feel this thing.

This helped me.

Go online. Find paintings of the Mary, from the Birth through the crucifixion.

Study the eyes.

That is how to learn how to do this thing, how to accept what is, and what cannot be bargained with or escaped, and what may be.

There was nothing else.

You are very right. It is not about ending it. It is about meeting it head on, eyes open, no pretending there is meaning in it.

It is what it is.

The only thing you get to choose is your response.



Well-Known Member
I know this is an old-ish thread, but I was feeling a bit lonely and pensive tonight, and I looked for a thread that would be thoughtful, that would be working on US more than on our Difficult Child's...and I found it here. So rich. It brought back such warm memories of key steps in my own recovery, in watching the recovery of RE, of Cedar, of COM...unfolding miraculously in front of me. What I remember is the focus of the other members on the board when that process was happening, a sort of midwifery, a protection of the emerging ..what is the term? chrysallis? or is it pupa? I like chrysallis better...

anyway, thank you for this wonderful thread.

and now, better late than never, I'll add my thoughs.

If the love is not working...how can it really be love?

yes, this is true IN ALL RELATIONSHIPS. Thich Nhat Hahn has a wonderful essay on this...if we insist on loving as we wish to love, what is that? It can be as simple as giving the same flowers that aren't wanted, or cooking the same meal that isn't wished for...it is a weird form of abuse cloaked as love. I have been the recipient of that, and so could recognize it right away when I read his essay...but seeing myself as the perpetuator of that was so very much harder.

it might be true too that though we resented the money, time, effort, and horrible pain of it, we took a martyr's (again twisted) perpetual victim kind of pleasure in those roles of savior.

yes, of course we resented. How could we not? I am sorry sometimes that my "normal" kids know that I resented them too...but Difficult Child...yes, the martyr's role. I embraced it.

I found myself wanting to tell him about my son...as if this...more than anything else in my life defines me.

My sister has a very very severely autistic son. He is nonverbal and minimally toilet trained at 23. Unfortunately, he is also SEVEN FEET TALL. And obese. She lives alone with him. No one will help care for him. Her life is consumed by him. I once managed to wrestle her away by persuading her to go to volunteer work in Chiapas with me...(I knew she wouldn't just go to a spa, some how I knew she would go somewhere scary and uncomfortable, but at least she would get away). She asked me to tell no one about her son...she wanted to be free to be just herself. We were not there for 24 hours before I overheard her explaining about him. She didn't know how to live without being his mom. She couldn't breathe that way. I remembered that always. I try to not let my breath be dependent on any one identity, although I teeter always with my children...and even, oddly with my ex (married 25 years).

I do not know the steps to take from here....so I will play Hallelujah by KD yet again.

This is always a good solution to that problem! Thank you, Cedar, for introducing Hallelujah to the board!

I think it was not displacement. I think it was grief, and I think it was real, and I think honoring that was the one way I could truly heal.

Cedar, I borrowed your candle tradition. I believe in honoring grief. I married into a jewish family, and I think the traditions around death..the days of sitting shiva, the rent clothing, the black ribbon...they are crucial to our recovery. We honor our dead, and our losses. I love the fact that you set a place for your son, Cedar.

How to deal with my dislike of the person my son has become.

That was very very hard for me. I had about a year (witnessed here on the forum) when I. Hated. Him. I unleashed it all. I couldn't stand his smile. I hated what he had become. I immediately became a strident shrew when he spoke to me. It was so ugly, and yet it had to happen. It had to pass through me. I let it pass through me, Copa, and now it is gone. That is true of so much badness and sadness...let those feelings have their process, their moment in the sun. They will pass more quickly that way than if you fight them. Thich Nhat Hahn says that if we learn to suffer well we suffer less...we can allow suffering, allow it to be what it is...don't fight it. And it will pass. I promise. I know this to be true.

I have so many quotes written down in my quote box. I wish I could share them all with you.

Cedar I love your quotes. You forgot the one from Hamlet, which brought me so much comfort my first dark winter here....something like "for this respite, much thanks, for it is cold and I am weary of heart." or something like that. I love that quote. It made me feel so much less alone.

The mother throws up her skirts and howls: "Go ahead. I can make another."

No comment!

Good night to all of you now, my lady pirates and friends, and those gentlemen pirates who are out there on the forum or sleeping beside those who are, and sharing the lives of Difficult Child's. Sleep well. We fight a good fight.




Well-Known Member
here I am also--re-seeing this thread--because Echo posted to it.

And, it brings back so many memories of the wonderful folks' words on here and how many times I have pondered, how did someone I love so much become my enemy? (because, right at this moment, that is where I am, although that may not be the case tomorrow or next month),

And, Copa, I sure hope you know I am your friend!

Smiling, with tear-filled eyes. This forum does just that. It brings husband and me such strength, while experiencing hurt and angst for each other. Love & pain, hope & hurt, all wrapped together.

P.S. I ain't making another!!!!



Well-Known Member
Seeking, it is always great to hear from you. You are one of the ones I watched grope their way towards healing. You and Headlights and, I am reminded by today's post, JKF. Copa...we are you peers, your friends and colleagues here. In Haiti we talk about 'accompagnateurs'...some one will not just do for you, but will walk with you, accompany you for as long as you need, however long that may be, or however often you need it. We on the board are each other's accompagnateurs.


If focused on a single leaf you won't see the tree
I can admit that I wish I had a child who loved me.

Isla, where does all the love go, now? It is like an energy, a force that has no place to go, or does it? Is that part of the healing? By airing and showing the wounds and damage and loving each other's sorrowful heart's ....we heal ourselves?

It goes to you dear COPA. First rule is to love and accept ourselves, warts, failures, lost dreams, woulda, coulda, shoulda's. You have a wonderful boyfriend of 5 years who wants to help your son. You have had a great career. Turn the worried energy about your son into your boyfriend, your life. Go on a vacation, get a massage, live life before it's too late.

You said you feel like a failure as a sister, daughter and now a Mother. I think everyone of us has failed in some aspect of those titles. My sister got mad at me and didn't talk to me for 7 years. I regret not spending more time with my Mom before she died when I was 24. She had 6 weeks to live when diagnosed with breast cancer. I was pregnant and due in a month with second son- was dealing with first son(Difficult Child), his issues, was stressed and worried. I failed in not spending time with my grandmother who raised me before she died. I was busy raising my family and lived one state over from her and made excuses to not go see her. I felt I failed with Difficult Child at some point looking back on decisions I made with him. I made the decisions at that time that I thought was best for him and the rest of my family. Right or wrong, decisions were made. I woke up one day and said no more am I going to beat myself up over all these things. I let go of the guilt. Until you are ready to do so- you won't be able to move forward with your life.

I had a horrific childhood, sister and I placed in an orphanage, lot of damage done to us in many ways. But I was so blessed to have grandparents who wanted us, raised us, gave up their golden years to give us a better life. Because of the bad childhood I was given a gift later in life to have a good life. I am so blessed. That is what I focus on.

I focus on the positives in my life. I have my health, good job, husband that adores me, two other children that have made good lives for themselves and we have a good relationship. I have 3 healthy grand-babies that I adore.

I too was trapped with the what if for my Difficult Child. I have dedicated years to trying to make up for mistakes and giving him one more chance, losing sleep on ideas, what if I try this or that. Quite frankly it's exhausting. I woke up one day and said OMG, I am so miserable, losing sleep, sick with worry and stress and son has not a care in the world that he is making the bad decisions he does. Being homeless, doing drugs, landing in jail for various reasons.

THEY DON'T LOSE SLEEP OVER WHAT THEY DO TO US. I learned to let go- not let my life revolve around his.

YOU have to let this go- enjoy life while you can. Wouldn't it be sad 10,20 years from now and looking back at your life you find yourself at the same point you are today? Think about that.