I'm in a strange place

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I want to think out loud about something that feels awkward, or maybe even horrible, to say. I'm saying it here because I have always found it so helpful to have you all be honest, to share the things we can't say to others.

    Here is the thing.

    I don't want to hear from difficult child any more. I don't want to hear about him. I don't want to know about him. Its not that I want him to be gone...he just IS gone for me. I don't miss him, worry about him, or wonder about him. I have a vague sense of sadness when I think about him...like I feel for people who are long dead, like my dad, dead 24 years now, like my mom, dead 4 years now. A distant sadness.

    I say this, and I feel it, but there is something under it too...when I tried to tell SO about this strange feeling, I started to cry. And I have a strong drive to go to the local Al Anon program, which I will try this week...so it isn't all resolved and yet...I feel like my love for him is gone. Maybe for good this time.

    It has to do with the hopelessness, the endless cycle of yuckiness, the repeated attempts to go straightgetajobfindaplacetolivestayclean. The repeated hospitalizations, arrests, the repeated thrown out of whatever flophouse he is in ("they are crazy mom"--this after the other version, when he moved in "they are good people, they care about me, they are helping me stay straight, letting me stay without rent because they understand my situation.)

    I. Just.Don't. Care.

    Sometimes I entertain a conversation in my head about what might make me care again...and I think, well, him, clean, (as in soap) and clean (as in drugs) and clear. But that will never ever happen.

    I am down to three kids now. His twin has no twin. He is just gone. And I feel only distant sadness. And some guilt about that.

    Thats it. I wanted to put that out there, to test how it feels to actually say it out loud (you know what I mean--write it publicly).

  2. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    You still love your son Echo. You know you do.

  3. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Echo, Ah.

    I so understand.

    The first thing that comes to mind, reading your post, is this: We can only take so much. Really. What we can bear is finite. I detest that saying: God only gives you as much as you can stand. That is nowhere in the Bible. People say that, not God, not our Higher Power.

    There is such a thing as too much.

    You have been asked to bear too much with difficult child.

    Another thing that comes to mind is SO and all of his own work with families and parents of adult addict children. He worked as a volunteer for a few years, under the supervision of the experts, in a nationally known rehab center near here. This was part of his own recovery from alcoholism.

    He tells me stories about parents who tell their grown addicted children: Don't contact me anymore. And then the parents don't hear from them for years. He tells one story of a couple, a highly intelligent, education, fast track professional couple, who have two grown sons who are addicted to drugs. Finally, finally, the couple told them. Don't come here. Don't call here. We don't want to hear from you anymore.

    There is a cost to this, just as there is a cost to engagement. Just as there is a cost to intermittent contact. Just as there is a benefit and a cost to every choice we make in our lives.

    You are weighing the cost. You are crying because there IS a cost. And with completely letting him go, releasing him to the Universe, to your Higher Power, to the forces of Nature, to the forces out there, is hard, and sad and just so terribly....final.

    But I so understand.

    The lure of being done is so very appealing. I so understand.

    You are where you are today, Echo. You don't have to Decide. You can Lean Into this idea, this feeling, this maybe-decision, for a while, and just feel it and try it on for size.

    Then, you can walk toward it and claim it, or you can say, not now.

    We can only bear so much, Echo. I am here with you. We are here with you. You are not alone in this. Warm, tight hugs.
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  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Echo, in my case, a son DID leave me, but it took several years for me to let go of him. Still, now I automatically tell people I have four children (see my signature). There comes a point when an adult child is so gone, even if he's actually there, that he is gone to us. The person we raised is gone. We move on. I think it's normal.

    Although your son did not technically leave and refuse to contact you, his contact is largely what you can give him or to get him out of trouble, not out of warm mother/son feelings. That, I can imagine, wears thin. It is like close to no relationship at all. Our minds can only take so much, as COM said (her post was excellent).

    If your son ever straightens out and becomes the person you knew when he was growing up, Echo, you will regenerate your motherly feelings fast. As it is, now he is a stranger.

    My adopted son Scott has been gone for so many years I sort of hope I never hear from him again too. What are we going to say to oe another? We missed so much. He was so vile to me and his sister and his half-siblings.He does not treat us like family and I can't think of him as my son any longer. A son is somebody who is in your life. Even 36 loves me and, if anything, contacts me TOO much, but he does act like he is a son. And, with the good and the bad, he is the son I always knew. Scott is a different person from the darling little boy I raised from age six to when he left at about thirty.He is a stranger to me now.

    We are here to listen and to empathize. Most of us understand. We are holding your hand.
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  5. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I understand. I really do. I was thinking about this last week when my son turned 18. I asked him to please not sign the waiver that allows his case manager to tell me his every poor choice. I don't want to hear about them anymore. I dread Wed. and Sat. because he calls and I have nothing to say to him. Truthfully, if he were not my child, I would not want anything to do with him period. There is nothing left of the sweet kid he used to be.

    Can this change? I don't know. I will continue to pray for him as I do for all lost souls. It sound so cold.
  6. PennyFromTheBlock

    PennyFromTheBlock Active Member


    What you are feeling is normal. It is what it is- as was stated- you've hit that limit. No more to give. You mourn what COULD HAVE BEEN, rather than WHAT IS - this is why I think you cry.

    But when their drama becomes overwhelming.....too much......then sometimes being done is more for our own sanity than anything else.

    I've not heard from my difficult child since last sunday.

    I've not tried to call him or text him. I assume that since police haven't come to find me for something, then nothing terrible has happened.

    It's against what we think about mom's to say we just aren't concerned about it.

    It is what it is.

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  7. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    I made up a prayer that I say sometimes.

    Dear God , I place M in your hands. Be by his side as he (whatever he's doing daily) Help him to (whatever he's struggling with).

    But maybe saying it everyday would not be good for you, would keep the focus on him when it should be on you. Maybe saying it once and then releasing him to the universe would be better.

    I so totally get the feeling of wanting to be done with it and get on with your life.

    I think these ups and downs, feeling optimistic and hopeful followed by crushing disappointment, is very bad for our mental health. And so you need to do whatever you need to do to maintain your sanity.

    You've done so much for him already, Echo!
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  8. Annie2007

    Annie2007 Member

    I so understand how you feel. I have never admitted to anyone those feelings about my son. I just don't know him anymore. I do not even remember the last time I saw him. Over a year? He is my only child. So very sad.

  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Trust yourself now, Echo.

    Each way you might choose to be to survive this intact can be met and welcomed with openness and courage.

    You are beautiful.

    This is a thing you will work your way through. A good thing Echo, a healing place. Accept it so you can incorporate the feelings and move through them.

    At the end of everything?

    Is always the same thing.

    Here is something I read this morning.

    "Do not ever again give another person the power to give and take away love from you."

    The wording is a little clumsy, but the sentiment is so perfectly right.

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  10. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I think it's normal. Perhaps it is a natural outgrowth of major detachment. You still love him, but don't want him in your life as he is ... with these issues and aren't waiting for him to change. It is what it is. It might not be that you don't care, more that you fully accept that you don't have a choice in the matter. He does, but won't or can't change and might not. And there is only so much you can take or should take. Enough. Life moves on.

    It reminds me a little of something that haunted me today. A friend who had a mentally ill sister. We would share stories as her sister was much like my difficult child. One day, her sister died of a heart problem. My friend was upset for a day or two and then was basically fine. I was taken aback by that. She said I should understand the reality of the situation. Weird, odd, difficult, hits you in the gut...but sadly, I do understand. And I think I understand your post too.
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  11. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I have never been to that point, though I have certainly contemplated being at that point many times. I have so craved that certainty, of saying I will not be vulnerable anymore, I will just seal that door shut permanently. There is a point, I think, where we realize that person we pictured relating to one day isn't coming back, and we don't want to continue to pretend anymore. I think I do understand that feeling, and I do think it is ok to try that on, to see if it feels right and true. All we have, really, is what is true.
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  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    You are not alone. There have been times when I actually thought it would be so much easier for me if Cory was dead than to have to go on with the idiocy that life was with him in it. There was just so much trauma and drama.

    Towards the last few months before we moved out and the first several months after we moved in here I refused to even speak to him. My oldest son and even his father tried to force the issue with me. I would slam the phone down, refuse to talk, walk out of rooms, leave the house. I had stated my conditions about what it would take for me to begin talking to him again and I wasnt budging. It wasnt that I was mad, I was disappointed and I was just so done with me being the one trying so hard to fix things. I was done. I had no interest in yelling at him, telling him what to do or any of that sort of thing. I knew he knew. I didnt need to tell him. I also didnt want to hear about him. Slowly I have started talking to him for short periods of time. mostly when I take him to our psychiatrist appts. I have only been back to our other house 3 times since we left. Tony goes almost every weekend. Personally I think we are sending mixed messages but I cant do anything about that.

    I think we go through stages about what we can deal with. If at this point you simply cant deal with even thinking about him, thats fine.
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  13. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    Your sharing of how you feel right now, not caring to see your difficult child again....well, I feel that about my difficult child.

    Nomad's post summed up what husband and I talk about quite often. We do not care to see difficult child right now, like he is, how he currently feels about us. A lot would have to change. We never intend to go down that path again.

    But, husband and i do hope and wait, hope and wait. (I just finished Count of Monte Cristo and those two words are significant in the last few pages. They continue to roll around in my thoughts when I ruminate about problems).
  14. hopeandjoy66

    hopeandjoy66 Member

    Echo, although our difficult child is not my son but my husbands. I also completely get it.Maybe not to the point of a mom and son. I finally gave up on my mom 4 years ago. I was no longer willing to talk to her or see her anymore just to get the verbal and emotional abuse. It affects me my children and my new husband. I was tired of the turmoil she had me in. I always talked to her hoping for the mother that never was to be. Like going to a coke machine and expecting pepsi. Just doesn't happen. The guilt was bad at first until a therapist said don't let her and this guilt eat up time where it could be filled with the joy of living each moment. It makes me a little sad when I think of what could have been, but a relationship is with two people giving love to each other. Not a one way street.
    My husbands mom and dad, a long time ago was raising two foster teens after raising 5 of her own children. They were always in trouble with the law and alcohol/drugs. They did the best that they could and had there hearts broken many times. The last time she saw one of them they asked for a loan. She gave it to them and never saw them again. Only hearing this or that about there where abouts. When dad died last year, I received a message from both. Asking if i was married to husband. Which I was. Their foster brother. One of mom and dads children.They had seen the obit in the paper about dad dieing and gave us there condolences. After passing on this message I looked them up on FB and found out both of the foster kids appeared to have there life straighten around to some degree. I told husband's mom this and she was so pleased to see this and know that they are living a life that is likely their kind of normal. She didn't expect to have a relationship with them, but was just happy for them.
    Echo, maybe this will be you one day.You may find out that difficult child has made an okay life for himself in his own way, and that he may one day contact you to start that finally relatively healthy relationship or maybe he won't . But if he does,. it is a bonus. If not, you haven't put a lifetime of energy into someone who doesn't want a healthy loving relationship with you. Some times expecting nothing is the best. Big hugs for sharing this out loud, many of us think a long these lines.
  15. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Your responses gave me a lot to think about. I must say, the recognition and "allowing" that came from all of you was very buoying. The responses also gave me some insight into my own reactions...so thank you all, Lucy, Child, MWM, Pasajes, Sweetmama, In a daze, Cedar, Annie, Albie, Dammit, and Seeking (nice to see you again!)

    Lucy, I love your loving heart, but in all honesty...I am not sure this is true.

    You know, there was no one drama. It was the water torture that did it. In the fall I think my detachment (and my engagement with the board) came with his second jail term, or right before it when it became obvious he had learned nothing from his first stint in jail..somehow I always thought that jail would be the magic "hitting of rock bottom" we all think about hope for and dread as the turning point. The fact that it wasn't was hard to swallow.

    But nothing dramatic happened this time. I just wore right through. I have a couple of pretty but cheap cotton skirts I wear in the summer instead of jeans...and they are wearing through. They aren't splitting at the seams or zippers..they are just threadbare in places. I am threadbare.

    Yes, I have thought that for a long time. It is so much easier to deal with definites...I hear over and over on the forum people wondering if it wouldn't be easier if they were just dead (I suspect it would not be, but who knows). We are not given to have definites here. I am going to go back and find Pema Chodron's book on "living beautifully with uncertainty" or something like that...that might help.

    This is true. And helpful. One day at a time. I don't have to commit to a lifetime of this posture.

    and that, and all the versions of that that follow from others, is everything.

    That is part of it. I see that he is a stranger. I don't love any strangers, I don't miss them or worry about them. And somehow my son has become a stranger. Its partly because he lies to me about every little thing...how he feels, where he is going, what he does, what his plans are. EVery little thing. So there is no way to know him. There is no there there. He is a stranger to me now.

    Thank you for the embracing warmth.

    Thank you. This helps so much.

    No. There is nothing left. I kid myself when I think I see it. He knows I was looking for it, too, and he uses that. People have been telling me for years that he is manipulative, and I flat out thought they were wrong..but I see now that he uses my memory of that sweet boy to manipulate me by pulling up his shadow sometimes.

    Yes, this is partly right. It has been a long long process of letting go of what could have been. I see now that he has very few options, really maybe none, to have a good life now. So I am out of "what could have beens". No more yearning for that...maybe that is part of why I feel so empty.

    This has helped me before...as did Cedar's image of lighting a white candle, which I did a few times over the winter...I guess... for the most part..for now...I just don't care.


    It is very (sadly) wonderful that so many of you understand. My friends and siblings cannot possibly understand. I can't even say it to them.

    This feels very authentic to me.

    Right, as with Cedar...this feels true. He is a stranger. I am threadbare. It is like a wintery wood.

    I almost hate to think this might be temporary, although there is relief in that too..I'd like to think maybe I have closed the door on all that struggle and grieving. But yes, you are right...I may circly through another gyre, another stage. That is helpful in its own way.

    This is my truth too. A lot would have to change. I can't even define what, but I'll know it if I see it. But I won't see it.

    I told Child in a different post..I feel a bit like Rhett Butler...I really think that Scarlett just completely burnt him out till his feelings for her were cold ash, not even sorrow, not even grief or loss. I think he was sorry his grand passion was over, and he felt a bit sorry for her too. but he was done. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

    But I'll go to Nar Anon anyway, to find what comfort I may and to learn more about myself and how I walk through this world. As in the post MWM started about our own roles in this...I too have been ill, or at least askew, and probably not only in my role with difficult child. Maybe that is his legacy to me...to learn how to be my healthiest in my other relationships.

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  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    As I let go of family of origin issues, the place I found to stand had nothing much to do with their badness or shortcomings. I did need to plumb the depths of this or that incident for residual anger. But there came a day when I understood that the problem there, the ultimate, rock bottom toxicity, had nothing to do with them and everything to do with who I had to be to have them in my life.

    And all at once, with that realization, I was able to love and let go.

    Could something similar be happening with you, Echo?

    Suddenly, I could see the patterns, the payoffs, the hurt and confusion.

    But I didn't want to be that person, anymore.

    Not even for them, though I love them so much.

  17. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think this is the beginning of acceptance -- and healthy detachment. It's like hitting our own "bottom." It doesn't feel "normal" to us as parents, and I don't think anyone but another difficult child parent can really understand it or relate to it. But I personally think it's healthy in its own way, and very normal in our situations. It's a new place to start from, to learn to build a different type of "relationship" with our child. It's scary, and painful, but necessary for our own sanity and healing.
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  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Echo, each of us is different, and I can't really know your heart in this. But it is my experience that, however sullen, overwhelming, all encompassing, my resentment and disgust, love for my child surprises and entraps me.

    It must be bottomless or something.

    On another post today, we discussed that breaking point, different but equally devastating for each parent, that our difficult children bring us to.

    So I don't know where I'm going with this.

    I just know those two things seem inescapably true to me.

    I keep finding, at the unknowable bottom, those same two things.

    And each time, I have less defense.

    But there was a time when I realized none of that resentment stuff mattered after all.

    And I was free.

    And everything looked different.

    Trust yourself, Echo.

    You are enough, and more than enough.

    It's a journey you determined to embark on.

    How does that go?

    "All will be well, and all manner of things will be well."

    A female Christian mystic said that, thousands of years ago.

    It's still true, today.

  19. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    There may be an element of this here...who I have to be is some one who gives more than she has to give in order to have difficult child in my life. Often he doesn't even ask for stuff...I guess I can rephrase and say...I tolerate and accommodate more than I have in me to do so. I use up all my reserves just putting up with his presence..and then I get irritable and snappy with my pcs, with my SO, with my dogs. It has always been so. He has always been the straw that broke the camels back. When he was little, it just was a thing to be dealt with. Now that he is grown, a parasite on society, a slug on the earth, begging, pissing in the words, sleeping amid trash, smelly, begging, taking handouts WITH NO EARTHLY DESIRE OR INTENT TO DO ANYTHING ELSE...and, when he has doubt or fear about his choices, he quells them with whatever drug is handly, with the drug addled assurances of his street friends, who will move on soon enough..next train, next flophouse, next arrest. A society of transient blots just like him.

    But I digress. Now that he is grown, and is a person I cannot like, I cannot tolerate even slightly having my emotional resources drained. So yes, to some extent, it is about the person I have to be to have him around.

    That is a good thought, Cedar. If he were tolerable, would it be better? But what sane soul would tolerate him? Even the bridge dwellers rejected him.
  20. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    and the quote from Hamlet you post from time to time. I love those. They are amazingly comforting.