I'm so disappointed in my 20 year & cannot even speak to him...help!!!!

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by DT121, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. DT121

    DT121 New Member

    My 20 year old son began his 'bad decision tour' about 2 years ago. It started with smoking pot, experimenting with OTC drugs, and a very damaged girlfriend. His father & I are divorced and although I cannot be sure, I recall his personality shift beginning with his father confessing childhood trauma & neglect he had had (my ex-husband, not my son) as a child. My ex also after our divorce began drinking/doing drugs & was arrested and was in rehab several times- yes my son was aware of all of this. I think I should point out that my son & my ex do not have a relationship at this time. I am remarried to a wonderful man who my son is very close to & will usually go to him for advice rather than me. I'll try and be brief & specific in my situation. My son had a full schlorship based on his grades & ACT scores to a state school; he failed out by not going to classes- this was not a big deal to him. My son's girlfriend OD'd on Xanax & we told him she was no longer allowed in our home; he said ok then I'm moving out. We have given him many job opportunities with our business; he would always have something to complain about & would tell us a few times a week he was so depressed & He decided to move to another city with his girlfriend & find a job & hang out with his friends ( he said being with his friends was the only thing that made him happy) by the way: he never found a job. He & his girlfriend broke up about 10x during about a 2 month span, each time he called crying, saying he wanted to move back home to figure things out. On 3 occasions he called & said he wanted to die; to only the next day, say he didn't mean it. We offered him help, by paying for a therapist & we said he was always welcome in our home & of course we would always help him- we love him dearly. After several failed attempts to make his flight back home, he finally arrived on September 01, 2012. So, he's been here for 2 months and has been really good, like the kid I use to know; until tonight. He found a job right away & was very excited about it. He opened a bank account and had a plan for saving money to get a car & to beable to go back to school & move out. I even told him 3 days ago how proud I was of him- I think I jinxed it. He called a few hours ago from his job in tears saying it was too much for him to handle & he quit. I asked him if he had a plan & he said to find a job asap....I wonder what will be different about the next job, or the one after that? This job was within walking distance of our home and with having only 1 car at the moment this was ideal. I checked the cell phone bill online and discovered he has been calling & texting his girlfriend-that he broke up with-several times everyday. So, I am sitting up at 2:00am trying to figure what I did wrong, and now how do I fix this or is that even possible? He is causing so much stress and heartbreak to our family. I'm afraid my marriage is in jeopardy and the welfare of my son is in jeopardy and my emotional health as well. He has refused all forms of therapy or counseling. I know he needs a swift kick in the a**. The last 2 years of his BS has left me exhausted & sadly not wanting him around. How sad that I do not want to see or talk to my own child? I know that most people would say- kick him out. My biggest fear & I'm sure he knows it, is what if he snaps and does something really stupid- I couldn't live with myself; but I cannot live like this either. by the way: he father is no help in any of this, so I feel all of the burden. Any advice or guidance would be great....
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    DT welcome. I'm sorry you're going through this with your son, you're in a tough place. Many of us here deal with this exact kind of situation with our adult children. Has your son been evaluated for any mental/emotional issues by a professional?

    Some kids have a very difficult time with the transition from childhood to adulthood. Your son is in that age group and it appears he is having a difficult time coping with life, the girlfriend issues, school, a job. He also is abusing drugs which makes everything much more difficult. You may want to post over in Substance abuse as well for others to offer support.

    For most of us, there comes a time when all we can do is begin detaching from our adult children. We've tried everything and we end up doing more for them then they do for themselves. It's not easy, but it becomes necessary. For you and your husband, I would suggest finding support, either through therapy, 12 step groups such as Al anon or codependency groups or any parent group which you can find which addresses what you're dealing with. You will need some help finding your way through this maze, it's really hard on us parents. Keep posting here as well, it helps a lot and you'll get support from others in the same boat.

    I understand your heartache and how your son is impacting you and your husband and your relationship. Many of us feel that we don't want to see or talk to our kids, it is very sad and it's almost common around here.

    I'm getting ready to go to work now, I just wanted to welcome you and tell you that you've come to the right place. Below is a very good article on detachment you might want to read and share with your husband.

    Hang in there and keep posting. (((HUGS))))


  3. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Hi DT,
    Your post resonated with me. I have been going through these types of antics, ups and downs, promising times, bad times, with my 33 year old son since he was 18. I always believed things would change; he would mature, take responsibility, get a grip on his life. But it hasn't happened. Sadly, he has gone downhill in past several years and is just about homeless now. He has ADHD and is extremely impulsive and imature. He has been addicted to pain killers, gotten off them twice, and maybe is doing drugs again, I don't know. The crisis now is that I am detaching and it is extremely hard for him and me. Awful. I love him dearly, but I do know with all my heart this is the right thing to do for him and me. I have been in therapy and to a 12 step program to help me with detaching. This sight is very supportive also. Let me be the ghost from the future and give you some advise; every person and situation is different, and we have no way of knowing how things will turn out, but one thing is for sure: My enabling DID NOT HELP HIM. It was a huge force in keeping him stuck. Now we are going through such pain watching him flail, and just praying that he gets to the point where he seeks some help and uses some of his own capabiities and inner resources to pull himself together. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. I love him and this is his life.
  4. DT121

    DT121 New Member

    Hi Payla,

    Thank you for your reply- it's very comforting to know I am not the only one going through this. Your story is very sad also, but I have to admit, I do not think I could be as strong as you for as long as you've been :( It's very easy to fall into the trap of blaming myself and having a pity party, even though I know those feelings do not help. I've read a lot about enabling & detaching and believe you 100% about that not helping, but it sure is easy to do & so hard to stop. I love my son madly, but I don't like him and haven't for the last 2 years- it makes me so sad to say that. I believe he is still smoking pot and wouldn't be surprised if he was doing other drugs. One of MY biggest issues is, I would know kind of what to do if this 'boy-man' was the person I knew for 18 years, but this person isn't him- this person is a stranger. My husband, although very supportive to me & my son has said enough is enough & I agree. We are giving him & us some space today, since this just happened & then give a deadline to follow through with his promises. And the hardest part of all- for me to follow through with what I said would be the consequences if he doesn't do his part. I can say I've been through some trying times in my life, but this is by far the hardest & most heartbreaking. I'll keep a good thought for you and your son.
  5. DT121

    DT121 New Member

    Hi recoveringenabler,

    Thank you for your reply. No he has never been evaluated; we have encouraged it, but he always says he knows how to play their game & would say what they want to hear. In his own mind, he of course, is smarter than everyone else, even doctors! I read the article you attached and it is very good information-Thank You! The most difficult part for me is knowing how to follow those steps? It all sounds great, but I'm confused about how to put the steps into action. I know what it needs to be done, for his sake & mine, but it's very hard & I'm full of fear. I know it sounds silly, but I only had 1 child, so all my eggs are in one basket- I had one chance to have a great kid/young adult and I somehow blew it. I don't have fall-back kids to make myself feel better about my parenting :) This was it & I feel I failed. I believe he knows I feel this way, so he uses it to his advantage. My husband & I are giving him & us space today, since it just happened- but then we are giving him a deadline to follow through on his promises. Then the hardest part- me keeping my word about what will happen if he doesn't. I never thought it would be this hard- I jokingly tell my parents that they told me I should have children children were wonderful to pull me into their parenthood misery! Thank You again for your words of support- it really does help.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, and I'm sorry it has come to this. But why do you feel his bad choices as a young adult are your fault? Did you teach him to do drugs? I doubt it. He has made this decision on his own and it is obviously messing him up. But you didn't cause it. And you can't stop it because he is of legal age and there is only one person who can stop him: That is him. Could he maybe be manipulating you when he threatens to harm himself?

    For your own sake, I highly recommend joining N/A (narcotics anonymous) so that you can talk to other people in your boat.

    I had a daughter who got messed up in drugs too but she quit. But she WANTED to quit. You need to forget the guilt...you are doing more for him than he deserves. And you can't make him stop, but you don't have to enable him by giving him money and luxuries while he is living a life that could destroy him. Why make doing dangerous things easy for him?

    Keep us posted. We all care about what happens to you and your son.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi DT. Yes, I know it all (detaching) sounds great, but how do you do it when you love your son so much and he's your only child.................I know how you feel exactly. I only have one child too, and we are presently estranged. I came on this board in January in precisely the same place you find yourself in, all the same fears and feelings, I know just what you are saying. I felt I blew it too and had all the guilt that goes along with that belief.

    As all of us here come to realize, this detachment stuff is a process, it takes time because along the way we have to change our thinking considerably and shift our beliefs about parenting and love and what that means. Once our kids turn into difficult child's (what we call our challenging kids here, 'gifts from God.') our lives turn upside down. All bets are off. Everything you thought was going to happen, all ways you used to act and respond are now completely different and it all demands huge changes. It's a step by step process, ..........you've recognized you can't go on like this. I would say that's probably the first step. Then you realize the toll it's taken on you and your family and now you don't even like your own kid (always love them, but their behaviors force a different perception to form).............. Then you realize you can't live with them. Sounds like that's where you are.

    For me it was all about setting boundaries, strict and unbreakable ones, forcing you to get real about exactly what you're willing to accept and what you're not. Because this kid isn't playing by the usual rules, you have to change how you respond. That takes effort, support and time. As he acts badly, you will need to look at each action and make a boundary about it. After awhile, those boundaries add up and you've tripped over a new way of being. Along the way you have sleepless nights worrying. I felt a lot of guilt and anger, fear and sorrow. It went on for months. It was hard and painful, I won't sugarcoat this, you're in a tough place. I got a lot of support.......therapy, a therapist run support group, 12 step codependency groups, I read a lot of books and thankfully, I found this site and received so much really good support from other parents who've been in the same place.

    Not one of us knew how to do this until we arrived where you find yourself, so you're not alone, and like us, you'll find your way along this crooked, mostly dark and sometimes very scary path. Scary because it's the unknown, it's our child, we love them and we don't know what to do. My suggestion to everyone is to get as much support as you can, look under every rock to find help in whatever way you can, read books, talk to other parents, find support groups because this whole process goes against all your parental instincts to care for, to love, to protect, to nurture, to help.............doing all of that can turn into enabling with our difficult child's and stops them from making their own choices and suffering the natural consequences of their behavior. We have to learn to love them in different, more detached ways.

    You didn't fail. You did the best you knew how. Sometimes we do all the right things and our kids still turn out to be a challenge. Stopping your guilt will be very helpful for you to make healthy choices where you don't get pulled back into his manipulations. It's hard, I know, to stop blaming yourself, but stop blaming yourself! As you go through this, you will make choices to take care of you,......... we focus on our children for so long and then at a point, we have to stop and put the focus back on ourselves so that they can be free to be adults. Sounds easy, but it's hard. And, just so you know, detaching from my daughter, my difficult child, was the single most difficult and painful thing I've ever done in my entire life. When I look back I wonder how I even got through it, but I did. You will too. Just take it one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. Get yourself LOTS of support. Post here as often as you need to. Read books on adult children and how to detach from them, there are plenty of them around. Recite the serenity prayer. Pray. Do a lot of nice, nurturing things for yourself. Spend time in nature, take walks, meditate, take baths, go out with your girlfriends and laugh. Always laugh, that helps a lot. Sending you gentle hugs for your hurting mother's heart and prayers that you find your way through this and find peace once again...............
  8. DT121

    DT121 New Member

    Hi, Thank you for your reply. It's very encouraging to hear some children can straighten themselves out- how great for your daughter & you! I thought about your question and you know maybe it's safer to blame myself because then I would beable to figure what caused it- I know that sounds bizarre. If this is all him, then how do I know what caused his personality & behavior switch? I realize this sounds like I'm trying to take control of a situation that isn't able to be controlled- not by me anyway. I know I need to step back, but it seems like I'm giving up on him if I do that. This was so much easier when he was 8 and would cry if he thought he disappointed me :) I realize I need to accept that I am still a good parent even if I don't/can't rescue him over every single thing and that if I did I would be causing more harm to him. It's so much easier for me to write what I need to do, than actually do it :)
  9. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    DT, welcome and you are definitely not alone. I too really recommnd an alanon parents group, the one i found helped me a great deal. As they say in alanon you didnt cause it, you cant control it, and you cant cure it. It is a process to get to this point but i have realized that i cannot save my son, he has to save himself. All i can do is to contine to let him know i love him but at the same time not enable his drug use in any way.

    My son is currently across the country homeless, on his own doing who knows what. My only contact with him is through FB. We have helped him many times to get treatment and the last time he walked out. He knows we love him and will support him getting help but he has to do the work, and unless he is ready to do that he is on his own.

    I have been thriugh the feelings you are going through, the sleeplessnes, the deserate need to help, the obswive worry, the constant focus on your son. I am learning to detach and live and enjoy my own life...i cannot let his bad decisions ruin my life...but it is most definitely a process to get to this place.

    Keep coming here for support, many of us truly understand....and do what you can to take care of and support your marriage....your son is now and adult and needs to find his own way.