It was very peaceful while my son was in jail

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, Sep 2, 2015.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    But he got out yestarday.

    I haven't been on the board much lately (reading but not commenting), so a quick son is 21, has lifelong differences, we aggressively attended to them with therapists, IEPs, and a variety of educational supports culminating in 15 months at at therapeutic boarding school, at 17 he ran away and joined the Occupy Movement, he has had multiple hospitalizations and a few short jail stints and be homeless and drug using on the streets for about 4 years. All that being said..he is a sweet boy with no anger.

    So he was in jail for 5 months. He voluntarily stayed longer than he might have had he fought the charges, because his defender offered him the option of moving his case to the mental health court system, which would place him in "post -release" care. He said he needs help and transitioning, and stable housing..all of this is true.

    So yestarday phase two began..he was moved to an inpatient treatment center. He'll stay there for 3-6 months, then, theoretically, move to a monitored housing setting for two years. In both situations he has to report to court regularly (every few weeks) with a report as to his compliance and progress...missteps will take him back to jail.

    All great!

    I'm not actually worried about him. He will take advantage of this opportunity or he won't. That is out of my control.

    I'm worried about me.

    These 5 months have been very peaceful for me. He calls me once a day for just a few minutes. No drama, no enabling opportunities..

    But he already called me and talked for 20 minutes. And he said "can I ask you a favor", which was basically to buy him a weeks worth of clothes and bring them to him TODAY. He also announced that visiting days are Saturday and Sunday.

    And I found myself sinking into a resentful pit of enabling.

    BUT..happily I told him I probably couldn't get him the clothes today (ha! this is big for me! like any good enabler I would have skipped out of work at lunch, run around like a lunatic, spent money, and brought him clothes by nightfall), and I asked his sizes.

    As I walked to work, I started balancing in my mind the idea of supporting him in his (hoped for) new life by showing support with new clothes...vs going to see him and getting his debit card and taking money out of HIS account for new clothes...vs (COM's favorite)...doing nothing right now.

    I choose nothing.

    But he has already consumed much of my brain for the first part of the day. And in the anxiety I left my cell phone at home when I came to work.

    When I say I am worried about me, I'm worried about the effort it takes to maintain boundaries, about falling into the slough of dealing with him. I'm already floundering a bit in helping my 2 younger boys look at colleges in my single mom mode (their dad moved out of town). So I feel overwhelmed and anxious.

    And those are good days to touch base with you all.

    Any tips or useful mantras appreciated!

  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The only advice I can give is to look after yourself. There is too much on your plate. You can't do it all. Yes, I know. We've all heard that how often before? But it's true. Make sure you take time for YOU. No cell phone interruptions, no thinking about any of the kids, no planning tomorrows lunches. Carve time out of your day for YOU.
  3. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I have been there and I felt the same way.
    It's so easy to slip into old habits and behavior. For both us and our Difficult Child.
    You will set the pace and your son will catch on.
    It just takes time and effort.

    For me, when I finally got to the place I could say "NO", I found sticking to this response worked best, "I'm not able to help you this time" and when my son would ask why I would simply repeat my response. There were times he would get really ugly with me on the phone and I would tell him, "I'm hanging up now" and would.

    By sticking to my guns and using the same response over and over my son learned that I was not going to give in.

    This is not to say that I didn't have to occasional relapse.

    I think too, that it depends on what and why they are asking.

    A few years had gone by and my son had not asked me for anything, well directly anyway. He would call and play the "pity party" part very well, you know "I don't have any money and I'm starving. or Someone stole all my stuff and I don't know what to do" I always knew these were ploys in hopes that I would take pity on him.
    Last year he sent me a message that he needed a favor. I was very hesitant in helping him and that was actually when and why I found this site. The favor he wanted was a copy of his birth cert. because he needed to get a new ID. In years past I have given him multiple copies and being the "responsible" person he is, he lost them, or they were stolen, blah, blah, blah.
    I did not want to help him. I was so irritated that he could not manage to hold onto an important document.
    My husband convinced me that we should do this for him so I did, but, I made it very, very clear to him that was the LAST time I would get a copy for him.

    This is good. It gives you time to really consider if, when, and how much you will "help" him.

    "I'll have to think about it" is also another good line to use when he asks for something.

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  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It will be hard Echo, but if we can see learning to interact with our kids in a healthier way as just how we love them, if we can learn that accepting the challenges for them and for ourselves is just the way ~ maybe, the only way ~ we can create our families successfully, we can do this without the old darknesses and self doubts overwhelming us. Now that we know the parameters of the challenges we face, we can learn to stay steady state in the thick of things. We have all worked very hard, here on the site, to learn how to parent our differently wired children in ways that make sense for them. The problem at the heart of things was never that we were wrong headed parents. The issue turns out to have been that our kids are differently wired.

    That is SWOT's phrase, and has been very helpful to me.

    Where we want to get to with our kids is that we want to love them.

    That has always been what we wanted.

    It is what they wanted, too.

    Before we understood how to differentiate between our kids and ourselves, we were certain the problem was somehow in our parenting. We could never find the wrong thing we were doing, though. (Remember when you first came to us, and I was all over myself that we hadn't put son in military school? And you had done that, and were blaming the heck out of yourself for it?!?)



    We tried to love them and ourselves out of it. Now, we are learning to love them and ourselves while incorporating their differences into the mix. These are kids who thrive on the kind of parenting that does not feel loving or generous to us.

    But we can do this Echo. Now that we know how to hold steady state, now that we know why the old parenting ways could not work with our particular child, now that we know there are answers and that we have support, here on the site, we will be able to bring our families together. It isn't going to look like everybody else's family.

    That's okay.

    It will look like our family.

    And every one of our kids will be included at the heart of that family now, whatever their problems.

    We know how to do that, now. We know we can, as you did Echo, do nothing at all for right now. We know how to identify FOG. That's so big a thing to know. We know it isn't that our child doesn't love us. We know another really important thing: We do love our kids. I wondered sometimes whether I did. I was just so miserable about everything that was happening to all of us though that I figured love had to be in there, somewhere. We know now that, however it looks to someone else, our kids are good kids. We see our families now as loving creations that are coming through incredible challenge.

    That definition we know about our families now means we are coming from a position of strength. In the past, we were coming from confused positions of self blame or blank frustration. Now, we are learning parenting techniques that will help both us, and our differently wired kids, find self acceptance.

    How cool is that?

    And we're doing it, Echo.

    We are still there for our kids.

    Our kids are still finding their ways back to us, too.

    I am so pleased for your child, Echo.

    We are all still right here, on the site, for one another, too. We will be there when the challenges normal for this time of transition arise, for you and for your child. We will be there with you as you and your child create this new reality where the problems are known. It helps me to understand that what we are doing, really, is learning, pretty much by trial and error, how to parent our differently wired kids in ways they respond well to.

    That's an uncomfortable thing, but you can do this so easily, Echo.

    Because you know these things now, everything is going to be different, this time. And whether everything comes up roses or there are challenges, we all are right here for one another.

    It was very nice to see your post, Echo. We have missed you.

  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I have whittled down my participation in phone calls with my son to Hi, Bye and 3 to 4 more words, max. When he calls, I cannot get off the phone quickly enough. To do nothing, is stressful for me.

    Him? He is chatting away.

    A month ago, he could not bear to speak to me. I could not even say um...without him hanging up on me or telling me to f--k myself.

    What I am finding, is that my son wants me to have limits. He wants me to be in control...of myself. Not him. He seems to be relieved that I have set boundaries...with money, help, advice.

    As I have gotten out of the way, he is clearer. Stronger.

    He wants to have me in his life. He needs nothing at all to be loved and accepted by me. He knows already. There is nothing we have to do anymore except be there. All of the other shoulds just get in the way.

    Any way you solve the matter of the clothes, will be fine. It is just noise. Your son knows you love him. All of the rest of it is garbage. He just wants you to be

    He may have habitual dependencies...that are his problem to solve...or not. Not yours.

    Just like whatever is going on in your head and yours to learn from or not.
    I have found that the more attenuated is the contact with my son...the fewer words and deeds on my part...done with less emotion...less motivation, with no goal in sight, the better for him. And for us.

    He knows already I love him. I can rest. And I can remember I love him, too. For now, that is good enough.

    Your son seems to be making a lot of good choices. I am glad for both of you.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Looks like you're bombarded with "opportunities" to grow and learn. All that 'stuff'coming at you. I can relate. Perfect time to take out your tool box ECHO and perhaps add a few extra nurturing things too.

    I found these guys on YouTube called The Honest Guys who do really good guided visualizations. I usually listen to one in the morning, I like them. Here is a link if you want:

    More exercise, more meditation, more prayers, more beauty, more kindness to yourself.....acupuncture, yoga, reflexology, massage, manicures, walks near water, dinner with fun friends..........those are my ways......amp up yours right now and as you regain your balance point, how to respond will be clearer to you.

    I was out of sorts yesterday after work and saw my acupuncturist......I can't even put into words how much better I felt when I left there........and today too.

    Sending you a big hug ECHO. xoxoxox
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  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    When my son seemed to no longer prosper and to be happy with me or my love, I became angry. He still did not prosper. I became angrier and more defensive. I could not understand why.

    At the heart of it, I felt that his state was a reflection of my own. That if it did not feel good to me to be his mother, I was not a good mother. And if he was hostile, I did not deserve his love. All of the hardness between us became a confirmation of everything in me and my life that had been hard. When he did not mirror back to me, a child that had a good mother.
    In the past few months I was able to say to my son, that I had gone off the deep end for years.

    He asked me, "why did you do that?" Because I love you, and I wanted you to be OK.
    All of the time, that is all I ever wanted. I had always accepted that he needed services in school, etc. What had changed was that when he was 16 and after, when he floundered I felt not a good mother. That he no longer loved me.

    I could no longer love myself.

    Now that there are boundaries I can remember he loves me and I love him. That was all I ever needed.
    He is strong enough and so am I. Even when he is not. I will try to remember that my love and my devotion made him so. I can take pride. He is mine again and that is enough. I am OK.
    It is only about the connection. After all.
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    Last edited: Sep 2, 2015
  8. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    yes, yes and yes again to the above. I have wondered how you were doing so often and have missed your presence on this forum.

    This sounds good, Echo. What your son has ahead of him and how determined you are to avoid enabling. I would expect it to be a bit rocky here and there, but now he has other support and you have the knowledge that you can and should only help when it feels right.
  9. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hi Echo

    This reminds me of a song...

    'Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
    Now it seems as though they're here to stay...Now I need a place to hide away'

    I got home from a peaceful far-away holiday in Ireland at 3 a.m. yesterday. The light was flashing on my answerphone. One message from my son, depressed, life's too hard, etc, etc. One message from my mother's man-friend, he'd found her collapsed on the kitchen floor and had phoned an ambulance.


    This morning I checked on here to catch up and saw your post.
    Maybe we both need a time-machine and then we could repeatedly go back to the day before yesterday and never have to face what comes next.

    My cat's happy though. She's been following me around and sitting on my lap in case I disappear again. She wouldn't want me to get a time-machine.

    So, what now?
    Take a deep breath, do some yoga, make a pot of tea, face what comes next. It all passes. Things will be different again by this time next month. They always are. It might be tempting to go backwards, but then who knows what else is around the corner?

    Take a deep breath Echo, do some yoga, make a pot of tea in a proper teapot, face the next instalment and wait and see what happens.

    We've done it plenty of times already haven't we? What's the worst that could happen? Probably nothing worse than we've already got through.

    And yes... doing nothing is the most productive thing that you could do.

  10. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Glad to hear from you, Echo!

    It's great that your son is voluntarily putting himself in a program. It sounds like a great opportunity for him!

    Keep posting, Echo, when you can.

    We all want to know how you are doing.

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  11. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Thank you to everyone for responding. Each answer helped me in processing this change in status.

    He didn't call back and I didn't go buy anything.

    This morning as I was washing my face and hurriedly putting on my make up for work (this is a very short event for me...I am missing the "make yourself pretty" gene") my phone rang, from the same number as yestarday, and my blood pressure shot up, because I was already late, already rushing.

    And I realized...I don't have to answer. This isn't a good time for me.

    Its funny that that is a big deal..because I often choose to not answer my phone...whether calls from him or from anyone else. If it isn't convenient for me...I don't pick up. But somehow right now I am in a new and agitated place...I felt I HAD to answer, and that made me defensive and irritable.

    But I don't. And I didn't. He'll call later. If it is convenient, I'll pick up.

    The issue of the clothes is, for now, on hold in my mind.

    Simple and yet true...funny that we have to be reminded.

    yes, that is just what I am afraid of, and just what I am doing. And trying to not do. But I can FEEL that I am there.

    Cedar, I can't tell you how many times this memory has been a touchdown in my survival. I tell it to others, I laugh about it myself, I hold it close.

    This is very true. Learning to love them. I'm afraid this kind of parenting doesn't feel loving or generous to them either...that is a hard thing. But I do know that it is better for them.

    Thats OK. We are way cooler.

    Yes. I remember the theme of empowering them, showing them that we believed in their abilities to figure it out. That seems very very important to me. My SO sometimes points out that it is simply amazing that my son has survived on streets all this time...I mean...who has the wherewithalto do that?

    Thank you for this. It is very heartwarming to have my old friends welcome me back.

    Yes, I've been at a place for a while now (and I can see that you too are in the same place) where my work is about what is going on in MY head and heart..not his. My work is mine, and his is his.

    This is very true and helpful. He does know I love him. SOmetimes his requests are just flyers...he would much rather I do not do them, if they are going to agitate me. He's just asking...nothing wrong with that. I need to remember that.

    We have very similar toolboxes! I spent last evening and this early morning on my rooftop, which is a container garden in full, end of summer, luxurious, overgrown bloom. Set against the city skyline it is very very beautiful to me. I'm not sure why I ever leave it. And I pulled out a randomly chosen Pema Chodron book again.

    Thank you for this warm welcome!!!! It is really nice to be among friends.

    That made me laugh out loud.

    You know, this is something. I get a lot of joy from my animals, and the more so when they are happy. I often have a little parade of two big dogs and a tiny cat walking with me from room to room...they walk single file, and I find it very charming. Sometimes they race each other up the stairs at bedtime, when they array themselves around my room. Joy in animals. More beauty. Make some tea (coffee). These are part of the tool box.

    Yes, this is definitely a thing to remember. I only rarely keep a journal, but when I do I am often amazed to be reminded of where I was last month, or last year...sometimes I am amazed at how I have failed to make progress, and sometimes I am amazed at how far I've come. It is a similar "tool" to remembering that it is possible to do nothing...everything will be different in a month.

    Thank you, Apple. Part of this journey for all of us is keeping shame or embarassment at bay. Sometimes its hard to admit to struggling. This is a safe place (see mission statement), and your welcome makes it the more so.

    Visiting hours are on the weekends, apparently. If he isn't in blackout I do think I will go see him. I haven't seen him since before he went to jail 5 months ago. He tells me he was 135 pounds when he went to jail, and is 185 now (staying off drugs will do that). He is 5'11, so that 135 would have upset me. His public defender tells me he looks very hipster and handsome (!!!). It would be nice to see him, especially if he isn't smelly and street....

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  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    My dear friend Echo...thanks for this update. I'm just catching up with the thread. are grabbing onto this transition and righting yourself. The changes in their status affect the changes in our status. When they shift, we shift. I think that is natural with our DCs and trying to figure out where we stand and what is next.

    I'm SO GLAD you had these past five months and settled into those months.

    Now, the next chapter. You're already not reacting and not answering the phone if it doesn't work for you, and getting on with your life under this new scenario. Give yourself some grace and mercy to be a little rattled...your own recovery "genes" are kicking in already and you're adjusting.

    I love choosing nothing as an option. Before all of THIS, I had no idea that was an option in the my all.

    Today, I know that doing absolutely nothing about any situation is an option for me. What a gift!

    Irony of leaving your cell at home yesterday...the Universe protecting you.

    I'm so thankful that he is somewhere good now. That he can be helped if he is ready to be helped. I love that he has gained weight, my Difficult Child did too, after he stopped using---was super skinny for a while, that is one key indicator---now he is normal weight for him.

    I am hoping and praying right now that your Difficult Child will settle into HIS new transition and right his own may take a few days or more for him, too.

    We are not so and them.

    Warm hugs today, friend.
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  13. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Echo, I feel you growing stronger and more centered. It is a new day and a new game. You set the rules. He can play by those rules.....or game over.
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  14. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    So I went to see him yestarday at the residential treatment center. He'll be there for 4-6 months. It's a pretty grim hospital setting in a lousy neighborhood, but it's not jail. He seemed very happy to see me, and I was happy to see him. In the end I asked his brothers to look in their closets for clothes his size that they no longer wear. We ended up with a few things in every category he asked for. I also have him $50 for toiletries and things. We looked at some family pictures on my phone, he described the routine as he understands it, and we caught up some. He looked very clear, in the framework of pervasive developmental delay but drug free and on mess for his schizoaffective disorder. When they announced that they were going outside for cigarettes he kind of tossed me out!! That is very typical of his odd social behavior.
    All in all it was ok..not too stressful, good to make contact.
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  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    LOLOLOL! Me too! Oh, thanks for the laugh. It's Sunday yet I have to work and I need a wake-me-up.

    Echo, you are doing great. I don't answer my phone at bad times either if it is Bart. I love Bart but I know his calls are usually not urgent and can wait. Sometimes I even text, "Bad time. Call you later." But that's only if I have time.

    Well, now I'm going off to work, having already spent my 5-10 minutes on my "make-yourself-pretty" routine.

    Have a great day. You are a pro and you know what to do which is fair to your son and good for yourself. Again, thanks for the laugh.
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  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You really rock. I'm so glad you had a good visit and could handle any stress well.