Is this something that you shouldn't do

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by tryingtobestrong, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. So, my son should be 60 days sober this weekend. I want to ask him if he will get a token at AA for that but I fear asking. I feel my counselor would say do not ask because I am not supposed to ask if he relapses. I am not supposed to mention his recovery...
    He has not text me since Monday. He had a birthday this week and totally has not made any contact other then sending me a receipt via email on Wed. evening.
    There has not been a thank you for his gifts, a thank you for the happy birthday text, a reply to any email or text message I have sent.
    He didn't even acknowledge my parents gift to him.
    I fear the worst.
    He was good last weekend so I am not sure what took place. Not even sure if he went to his IOP last evening.
    I know I have to put the focus on me but it is so hard
  2. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Yes, its very hard. But it is the only thing you can do. Do something nice for yourself. I've been focusing on volunteer work for people I can help. People who do appreciate what I do. I've been trying new recipes. I can't help my son at all. But I can help me which I can do by helping others. Do it for yourself, for religion, for any reason. But keep your mind and body busy.
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  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am in pretty much the same spot as you but my son as far as I know is not sober and is not in any type of program.

    I am in the same spot as you in that: he cut off contact with me, I am afraid, and I have no control. I was pretty despondent for a few weeks, more or less non-functioning, but I am better since yesterday.

    I do not know what changed for me, but it might have been the recognition that this is not about them. It may feel like it is about what they are doing or not doing; what can happen or might happen. But while this might be my focus, it is not what it is about.

    It is about separation. And when they are adults separation is not only healthy; it is essential for normal functioning. For my son to function as an adult, and for me to function as a whole person, who takes responsibility for her own pain and anxiety and does not require an adjunct to carry it--I need to separate. Which to me means, to let him live his own life and to tolerate what that would be. It would be to have the confidence in myself that I can (learn to) let my son carry his own pain. I do not have to carry it for him. And that I would tolerate that.

    But the default me, has had a hard time letting go. And he has had a hard time letting me go. And that becomes a feedback loop.

    I do not remember how old your son is, but I think he is an adult.

    For your son to separate, I think it would be okay that he not contact you for a time. And it is okay that he not acknowledge gifts. He is going through a lot.

    I do not believe he is responsible to keep you okay, to reassure you. Just as my own son is not responsible to keep me okay. I am responsible for all of that (even though I do not feel this way.)

    I write this to let you know that you can have some space. You can give him some space and by that you can grant yourself the great gift of breathing, and finding your own safety in yourself. (Forgive me for sounding like I know anything. I just learned this yesterday.)

    I cannot tell you how much better I feel than I did (yesterday). And I hope you can let go a little bit too. We need to learn to trust these guys. Learn to trust ourselves. Learn to trust life. There is every reason to have hope.
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    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
  4. Thank you for your replies. He did not go to IOP on Thursday night. I guess I will see if he goes on Monday night.
    He had asked last week if my parents would still help him with his cc bills even though he didn't do sober living. They did say they would help with a little but wanted to make the check directly to the company. After I sent that email, it seems that is when he became angry. Not sure if it is because he feels we don't trust him but that is what seems to be the cut off.
    Oh, well, until he needs us again I guess he is pulling away.
    I have to move on and trust him and trust God. Like you said, let go and live my life. Give him space.
    It is just so hard if an emergency pops up to get to him being so far away.
  5. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Might I suggest that bailing him out of emergencies, his credit cards and the rest of life isn't going to help. Yes I'm a staunch proponent of tough love and it hasn't worked for my son. But he has learned to handle his own emergencies, finances, legal trouble, etc. He doesn't come to me for those things because he's an adult.

    What if no one pays his credit cards? They'll be cut off and? ...he won't be able to get a cash advance for his next fix? He'll have to declare bankruptcy? I just don't understand the concern.

    If he has an emergency and you can't get there who suffers? Him or you? There are social services, charities and an IOP program set up there to help him. Is your concern really about him?

    Please re-read what Copa said about separation and detaching. He's an adult. Are you sure you're treating him like one? Are you giving him room to grow? Failure is part of growing. Bankruptcy is failure and brings about growth.
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  6. I don’t know what u mean when u asked is my concern really about him.. he lives alone over 1000 miles away. He has no family. Few friends. Suffers from extreme depression.
    I just worry. I don’t understand what happened from Monday to now. I didn’t do anything to deserve no replies to 2 text messages in 5 days. I get that he needs space to grow. I am not smothering him. He could at least thank his grandparents for their birthday gift.
    Paying off his debt was never going to happen. They just offered a small amount to help.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Trying, you did nothing wrong, hon. Nothing.

    This is not about you.

    Addicts can be fine for a while then slip. It is part of recovery. If he slid thats why he didnt answer. Drugs also take away social graces and that could be why he didnt thank grandparents. If he is still sober, and hopefully he is, it takes time for the addicted brain to heal to normal.

    Think about these things.

    Who choose for him to live 1000 miles away? Probably him. What can you do in an emergency?


    He would have to get professional help, call 911. As parents we think we can make everything better and maybe if they were ten years old we could. But youre dealing with adult issues here and only medical people can help even if you lived next door. Our presence doesn't solve emergencies of adult magnitude.

    I totally agree that nobody needs to pay his cc bills, car payments, rent etc .He was sober for 60 days and still may be. He can work. Depression, next to anxiety, is a very common mental health disorder (I had very bad depression for a few decades) and people who have it work and it is also very treatable. Is he helping himself feel better? Therapy? Legal medication? Nope. And you couldnt force that even if you lived next door.

    He doesnt want his family near him. Many adults who love their parents as your son loves you, live across the country. As Moms we miss them dearly, but they make their choices. Your son's reasons for moving so far may be bad reasons such as he doesnt want you to know when he is off the rails. Or a girl. Or pot is legal there. Whatever it is, he wants to be where he is or he would come back. Or beg to come back.

    Please try to remember that your son is a grown man (not that sweet little boy,) and needs and wants to take care of himself. Or try to. And this is very normal!

    If you believe in a higher power, it helps to give your loved ones over to something much bigger than yourself. I dont think I could have done life without that. If you dont believe in a higher power, there is still a strength in yourself, a higher self, that can lead you and help you cope. Believe that you can stand this and that you have done all you can to give your son the awesome foundation he needs if he chooses to tap into it.

    I hope you hear something soon. Whatever you ultimately decide to do is okay and supported by all of us.Just please be well and try to take care of YOU. Yes, it is hard but we can try. Please try.

    Love and light!
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  8. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Trying, my heart goes out to you. It is so hard to wonder and worry and not know what’s going on with them. Mine are only 40 minutes away In the city but it often feels like it may as well be a thousand miles. I don’t know where either of them are staying right now. Their cell phones are often off because they do the prepaid minutes and often run out. Even if they are on, they often don’t return my texts or calls. I don’t hear from them unless they want something. If there was an emergency, I would have no idea where to find them.

    I agree with others here that it’s better to stop bailing them out from self-created problems. My two difficult ones will never have credit. They can’t even manage a bank account - they inevitably overdraft, get into a spiraling negative balance, and finally just walk away from the whole mess. I used to try to help them out. I finally realized the more money I threw at them the more trouble they got themselves into. At least now they’ll never have giant credit card debt, because no bank is going to offer them credit.

    I sincerely hope your son is still sober and just too caught up in his own journey right now to think about niceties like thank yous. I’ve learned not to expect too much from mine in that department. My mom and stepdad have decided not to send any more gifts since they are rarely acknowledged, and I dont blame them one bit - natural consequence there. But to be honest they are so caught up in themselves and day to day survival I’m not sure they notice. They don’t participate much with extended family anymore.

    On rare occasions when I do offer to help with something, I also want to pay the company or creditor directly. If this makes them mad, with mine I’m fairly sure it means they wanted the cash for something else. I have no idea if that’s the case with your son or not, but I wouldn’t budge on this one.

    It is really hard to know they are suffering. I know you think the distance makes it harder, but the truth is there are things we can’t help them with even if we are in the same house. Depression is a lonely road, whether you’re actually alone or surrounded by people. In some ways, having the distance may be good. It forces him to stand up and take responsibility for his own dad day life. Those choices are his to make, no matter how close or far he is.

    I hope you are taking care of yourself. Be extra kind to yourself right now. Hugs.
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Of course your concern is about him.

    I think what smithmom means is something else:

    I think that I experience my son's distress and circumstances in terms of my own pain.

    I need him to be OK so that I can feel OK.

    His well-being is important in itself, in that I love him. But I identify with him. And this is not good.

    I need him to be OK so that I can feel OK about myself. So that I believe I have been a good mother and a good person, and to feel I have lived a good life, with a good result. In that sense I am dependent upon him. And this is not good for him or for me.

    On a deeper level I am trying to ward off feelings that I am not OK. These are my own feelings to own.

    On some level when he is out there I feel I am at risk. That I am damaged. If he is in distress and when he says he is damaged and he will never get better and does not protect himself, I panic because this triggers my own fears of these very same things in myself, that I have run from for almost all of my life.

    If I try to make this go away, by seeing it as about my son, I am taking away my son's opportunity to learn his own life and truth. I am also handling my own pain in such a way that I can never understand it and deal with it. It is a lose-lose.

    What smithmom is trying to say is this: to be whole, autonomous, authentic and independent people we have to feel, to carry our own pain and deal with it. As mothers we tend to get very enmeshed with our children. This is a reality. A fact of life. Not a judgement. What detachment means is recognizing that we can little by little begin to own and to claim our selves that have been lost in relationship.

    There is great opportunity in understanding parenting in this way. Because it gives us control over our own lives. And it gives our children, the responsibility and control over their own. Nobody is criticizing here.
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  10. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Not to hijack this thread, but Copa, your post rocked my world. Especially this: "To feel I have been a good mother and a good person, and have lived a good life, WITH A GOOD RESULT." Wow. That sums it all up for me. Many facets to wanting a good outcome, which is probably the basis for the story I continue to tell myself, regardless of what is happening around me. I see what I want to see, to protect my version of the story.

    Sorry for the interlude but had to thank Copa for that post.

    Trying, we all understand how hard it is to watch them struggle. I'm so sorry for your son's pain. I hope he comes to a place of honesty and vulnerability so he can work with his therapists, instead of living in his self-imposed guilt and shame. But I do agree that until he does, he needs to stop burdening you with his self-harm. You can't do anything about it when you are thousands of miles away and he rejects your advice.
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  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Forgive the lecture, here. I am lecturing myself. (Please feel free to skip to 3rd paragraph.)

    I am thinking a lot about stories I tell myself and stories I do not want to accept. I think that is what is called denial. We are geared up as human to make stories about our perceptions, largely in terms of cause and effect. These stories get reified, that is they achieve a life and power and luster of their own. And then, in turn, these stories (which in themselves are just that, stories, have power to shape other stories, our own and those of others).

    Lots of times there is what is called misattribution. We make up stories or embellish them to account for our feelings, or events that impinge upon them. We make false assumptions. We attribute cause where there is none.

    I am wondering as I write this how much about my life, each of our lives is real. And how much is just a conglomeration of stories I have taken on to account for what I have felt and what has happened to me. I have big stories about what I have done. I like those stories. They are about conquering and surviving and mastering and moving and achieving.

    But I am seeing that there are other stories that are not so pleasant that rear their heads and want to be heard: isolation, fear, helplessness, terror, incapacity. I find that these suppressed and difficult stories come up around my son.

    If I cannot control his story. Or do something to respond in a way that there is a happy ending or a hope of one, the noxious feelings seep or surge out. I am trying to integrate the two polarities of experience as I get old but it seems sometimes that I cannot do it fast enough to keep up. There was a movie once called I am Dancing as Fast as I can.
    This is my experience in a nutshell. He was not thousands of miles away. He was a 55 minute walk or a 25 minute bus ride or a 12 minute drive. He did not want what I was selling. Never. But I needed my story to be true. And if it was not true, I still wanted my story to win. It was a battle of stories. His won. Duh.

    In fact not only did his story win, his story conquered my own story of winning and surviving and heroism. My winner story cannot absorb all of this pain, defeat, sorrow, fear. It has no spaces for these words. Back to the drawing board.

    So what to do. I am trying to learn to experience my life in discrete moments, to not craft my experience into a narrative. I hate it. Because the stories have been my safe space and now there is no place to hide. But I think other people are able to do this. They meditate. They pray. They go to the gym. They dance. They cook and clean. They watch movies and do needlework. They run and they hike. They have lunch with friends. They talk on the phone. They dig down deep and they inhabit their lives and themselves rather than escape to stories.

    My problem (one of them) is that I locate myself in my son. I experience his distress as my own. So the issue first is getting myself back into me. This is a whole lot of work.

    Thank you Albatross.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018