Just musing: Whom do you tell? Friends? Family? No one?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Signorina, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I've talked to mother and emailed my brother. Had to do both sooner rather than later because I was afraid difficult child would hit them up for $.

    I haven't told a soul in real life. I am afraid if I tell it like it is; they will judge difficult child. On the otherhand, I am afraid if I skim over the screaming red flags we saw, they will judge me for over-reacting. Yes, these are my friends, who probably shouldn't and may not actually judge either of us. But I still hold back...

    I have been playing hermit. Not sure I will ever feel like being out and about again. Especially since so many of my friends have kids difficult child's age...and their kids are doing well. Talk naturally turns to our kids and their great plans in life... we all became friends BECAUSE our kids are the same age...so it's not a "my kid is better than your kid brag"; just everyday over lunch discussions like we've had for the past 10 years. I am not sure how long I can hang on to the "yes, he's back at school, I am sure he is doing fine" facade.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Now you'll have to keep in mind that I grew up in a family where mental illness ect is rampant. So my family as a whole takes a different view than most people. To me it's a much healthier view.....and in my opinion tends to education the ignorant.

    If someone asks, I'm honest. I may not go into all the gory details depending on who's doing the asking.

    Why? Because to me it's nothing to be ashamed of. If your child is suffering from mental illness or something else, it's not your fault, so why on earth would you be ashamed? And in my opinion people tend to pick up signals from you and gear their reactions accordingly. So if you're keeping to yourself, secretive, and looking guilty.......they're going to think the worse automatically. They'll read it in your body language subconsciously. But if you talk about it as if it's just like having cancer or some such.....then usually the conversation takes a different spin. (not always, there are judgmental ignorant jerks everywhere)

    Also, I've found this gives me an opportunity to educate other people. Which is always a plus. And sometimes, you may even find support.

    As far as judging our difficult children, people are going to do that regardless.

    Like I said though, this is just me.
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    It really depends on the person.

    Family, who difficult child will likely have to be around, probably should know. Maybe not every single detail, but something. For instance... O is an angel around my parents. Not so much around mother in law and father in law. And she pushes bio's mother around... Bio's mother doesn't get it, she's foreign. mother in law and father in law would try the patience of God himself. But my parents - will go a long way - but will not be pushed around. Ergo, they know the most. sister in law, as well - niece and nephew, not so much.

    My BFFs know, way more than my parents! But... You have to take care of you, and being a hermit doesn't help. Trust me - been there done that - not a good solution.

  4. keista

    keista New Member

    I'm a mixed bag. There are some I tell EVERYTHING to - BFF and older sister. Others, I tell somethings to - Aunt, younger sister and most other ppl. And yet others I pretty much tell nothing to: my Dad - he just does not understand it, new potential friends - I have to learn their mindset first, the kids' father - he NEVER asks about them and if I volunteer it's automatically my fault.

    It depends on several factors:
    Do they need to know? As in you mother and brother.
    How close is your relationship?
    Are they willing/capable of understanding such issues?
  5. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I hear you. My son isn't suffering so much from mental illness as he is from substance abuse. That's where I fear the judgment, I guess. It's like there are 2 schools of thought 1)"Boys will be boys (or kids will be kids) We all did that or worse in college..." or 2) "OMG Signorina's boy is Amy Winehouse and he DEALING drugs" followed by 1) "They are totally over-reacting" or 2)"They let him walk all over them and ignored it too long."

    In my very gray reality he was a good kid who abused substances as a 16yo, got back on track, was physically assaulted his 2nd week of college (last year), nearly lost his sight as a result, and may be suffering from PTSD and/or post concussive syndrome or he could just be a burnout using his injury as an excuse for his amotivation. Or all 3 or none of the above.

    Honestly, those judgments are my own. I am going in circles...
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Let them make their own judgments, or not.

    If they judge YOU for his choices, you don't need them.

    Easy to say, hard to deal with.
  7. AHF

    AHF Member

    The more open I am about these issues, the healthier I feel. Doesn't mean you inflict a depressing story on friends when everyone's having a nice dinner. But if they ask, I say. And if they ask generally, "How are things?" I say things are tough, and--briefly--why. You quickly find out who cares and who would rather not be bothered with bad news.
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Signorina I think if you can truly accept that these are his choices, it will be somewhat easier to deal with other people. Even as a teen, unless you locked him up in a barrel and fed him through a bunghole, you honestly had no real way to keep him away from drugs or alcohol. Even as a minor, it was still his choice.

    I think once people have had experience with teens, they totally get it. Parents of younger children might or might not. Same with the older generation, although those in their 60's know the lure of drugs due to the Hippie Era so are not as naive as they appear.

    If someone wants to do something bad enough, they'll find a way to do it regardless of what you put into place to prevent it. I think most people understand this, sometimes though we need to remind them.

    When people ask me about katie...........I simply tell them she's in the exact same place she was 10 yrs ago, just spinning her wheels. If they know me well enough, they know exactly what I'm referring to and no more has to be said. If not, I may explain a bit, like with sister in law who was asking............which led to us discussing her granddaughter who has taken a nosedive off the deepend that I've kept my mouth shut about and been worrying over for the past 2 yrs. Gave her someone to unload on who understood.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Interesting question. I've been on the rollercoaster for close to ten years. Only two friends and one relative actually asked "how's easy child/difficult child doing" or "how are you doing". Following the accident and brain surgery all kinds of people asked about him..and us. That's the difference between unacceptable topics and acceptable topics. Geez.

    My close friend who is a Grandma always listened if I needed to talk. She is totally trustworthy. About five years ago her most loved grand was diagnosis's with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Tourette's etc. When we visited (she does not live in town anymore) she apologized to me. Why? Because she never understood before and now she is living the life.

    If it weren't for the Board I would have gone nuts years ago. DDD
  10. Jody

    Jody Active Member

    Please do not isolate yourself. I did that for three years. It is not a healthy way of dealinjg with things, and I know you are probably thinking nothing about this situation is healthy or normal. 4 years ago, I bought a mobile home, so that my difficult child daughter wouldn't tear up someone elses property. I bought it in case she got loud it wasn't as easy for someone to hear the things she said to me. I never let anyone in the house for 3 1/2 years. Once my daughter was in foster care, I had my first friend over. We have been best friends since we were 15 and 17 years old. She cried when I invited her and said I haven't been to your house in over three years. It was a sign I was getting better.

    Tell only the people that you know will be understanding. I do not talk to my Ex about difficult child's issues because he will blame it on my not whooping her enough when she was younger. I just get angry and retreat more. Your son is 19 and he may still turn it around. One day you may have all kinds of wonderful things to say about difficult child. You just never know what's going to happen. Hang in there!!
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The others have given good advice. I will say that you NEED to stop thinking of him as just having sub abuse issues. The assault, nearly losing his vision, has given him PTSD which IS a mental illness. It CAN be treated so that the person can go on to cope well with life. EMDR is the gold standard for treating PTSD and in my opinion your son should now be considered to need dual diagnosis treatment - for the sub abuse and for the PTSD. If anything, the backslide to drugs is a huge sign of how big an impact that attack had on him. You also must not brush off the long term effects of head injury. We are learning more and more about how bad and how long term injury to the head is. I have seen a LOT of the kids that my kids played soccer with in years past who now, thanks to hitting balls off of their heads, have serious problems. Some of these kids were very smart and now have had actual lowered IQ scores because they had so many repetitive head injuries in games and practices and they brushed off the soreness or didn't tell anyone how bad it was or had parents who brushed off their headaches, bruises, etc... These kids played together at ages 6 -11 or so and are now only 16 and are having real, measurable problems learning and functioning. Same is true for many boys who play football. Sports are pushed so much and not letting your team down by saying you are hurt, seeing double, have blurred vision, etc... is a HUGE deal here. I sadly think my daughter was BLESSED to have the ankle and knee problems that first kept her out of soccer at the 12-14yr ages and then also had this bizarre shaking problem that started two yrs ago and no doctor will bother to treat no matter what we do. Those issues, which are awful and I would NEVER have wanted her to have, did have her stop playing soccer right at the age that the coaches here were pushing learning to hit the ball wtih your head and saved her from brain injury. husband thought I really over-reacted when I said that she was NOT going to do headers and I did NOT CARE what the other kids/coaches/fools thought. Now several of the parents have contacted me because they know I know the ins and outs of IEPs and their kids now need them to cope with high school because the brain injuries. Even a MILD brain injury that is not allowed to heal before more injury happens can make a HUGE difference in a person's future.

    I know your son isn't listening to you. But you need to keep in mind that there is more going on than choosing to use/deal drugs. I am NOT saying that you did the wrong thing cutting him off totally - you did what needed to be done for him and for your other kids. But you also need to work on changing your thinking from being a burnout or choosing to be a slacker to thinking that this is likely his dysfunctional way of handling the PTSD and brain injury. I have spoken with quite a few PTs and neuros and while many would brush off various sports injuries like headers - when shown how fast the ball is usually traveling and the force of the impact with the ball, they ALL say that their own kids would not be doing that because it causes lasting brain injuries. So as you try to steer him toward help, include help for the PTSD and encourage him to see a neuro if there are signs of problems from the head injury.

    You can google EMDR to find out more about it, including therapists who are certified in his area and in yours.
  12. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Susie-I really appreciate your heartfelt advice. We've had consults with 3 neuros-one at the time of the injury, another 3 months later (when he came home for tgiving) and his therapist obtained his hospital records, and later record and consulted with another neuro. No neuro damage was found-though post concussive syndrome could explain the rough grades. (So could screwed up priorities.) However, Short & LT memory tested high percentile. I'm the one who grasped the idea of PTSD, however he exhibits no sign of trauma and his avoidance is directed solely at his parent's expectations and apparently studying requirements. Unfortunately, since he is 19 I have no access to his future medical records nor can I call his therapist (who was as open with us as possible).

    The more I learn about his extracurriculars, the more I have to accept that this was very much a choice-including the situation that led to the assault. And that he would rather be a follower than a leader. He's latched on to a boy from hometown who has that scary combo of checked out but indulgent parents, lots of spending money, and enough intelligence to not have to work hard at anything. Thanks to this boy's prolific twitter postings & urban dictionary, I've expanded my vocabulary to include wake and bake, sesh, hot box, skeet, and way too much more. Regardless of who/what brought difficult child to these choices -they are his choices. And his thinking is mighty clear when he is doing as he pleases.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I hadn't realized that you had checked the neuro problems so thoroughly. I also realize completely that he is choosing to act the way he is. Some of it still could be ptsd, it is a very strange thing to ahve. I don't thin there is anything more that you can/should do for him, esp as he seems compelled to do what he wants.

    I am sure you are right in this. And right in that his actions are going to have consequences no matter what, so all you can do is wait for those consequences to jump up an dbite him in the tushie. I do think that if/when he agrees to go to a rehab that he shoudl find a dual diagnosis one.
  14. elizabrary

    elizabrary Member

    I used to hide it from everyone, but not anymore. If someone asks about Kat, depending upon how well they know us, I tell them the truth- from just generally to very specific. What I've found is that Kat hates that- she doesn't want me to "tell everyone her business." So I tell her if she doesn't like it then she shouldn't be doing things she embarrassed for people to hear about. I can't lie- I do take some pleasure in this. I have also quit giving a darn about what people think, and to my face at least, they are generally sympathetic and supportive. I'm sure they talk all kinds of sh*t behind my back, but I just figure if they're so busy talking about me they really need to get a more interesting life of their own.

    And a short story about this- a woman I work with (not closely, but we do interact) must have heard the gory details when Kat's baby daddy grabbed KK and ran off with her- all the police intervention, abuse, court hearings, blah, blah, blah, so at a company picnic I had KK with me and she said, "What about this little one? Does she see her daddy?" So I decided- lady you want to hear the story, here it is. And I told her in detail every single horrible thing that had happened in front of about 5 other co-workers (most of whom already knew the story anyway). She and her husband stood there with frozen smiles on their faces not knowing what to even say to me. I bet she never asks another person a snide question again! :)
  15. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    So what do they call you in Mexico? Adios?....Just a little sad humor there but then again if our lives you have to take it where you can get it.

    You know I have lived a life and a 1/2. Maybe two...no; just one, but if a life were gauged by the shear weight of bull**** you could pack into one tiny life? I think I'd put myself down for a three ton life....just from my former marriage alone. And wasn't he a peach?! No....not really. More like a rotten apple. Apple is too kind, more like a watermelon that sat out in the sun and got too ripe and sprouted little fuzzy mold or something then tried to be a man. (thinks a moment) Onion - maybe he's an onion. Fruit of some sort to be sure. Festering, smelly - OKAY then......back to your question.

    Exhales.......(pauses for dramatic effect) (howd that work?) Anyway....I think back about all the people that I used to have in my life with their so-called perfect children. WHAT A LAUGH. First there is no such thing as perfect. It's a facade. There is a perception of perfect and yes LORD do I understand what you THINK is the wonderland of the lunch table talk. "Well my so is having trouble with the SATs and we're going to have to cut back on our third vacation this year and I'm not going to be able to get a new car until October. It's tough." and I hear this while I'm choking down yet another PBnJ from week old bread from the food bank I ran and got on yesterdays lunch 1/2 hour in my 21 year old rather dependable car without air conditioning...while talking to my son on my $11.00 Walmart junk phone who is having yet another "CRISIS" about his life that I can not possibly solve - but you know what? It's my life, I have a car, I have a phone, I have a job after a year and a half, I have a sandwhich, and I can talk to this son. The others are dead.

    So back to perception......My not so perfect life includes a son that has done some very not so perfect things......things that by MOST peoples standards would leave them not wanting to stand next to him, or wanting thier children to even play with him (and that's happened too) or wanting me to really REALLY not be a part of their cliquey world although to my face they play nicey nice and pretend that I BELONG in with their crowd and could be with their type at any time and it made me wonder over the years - WHAT MAKES you think YOU belong with ME? I'd welcome almost anyone to sit and talk with me - and I raised my son to be the same way. I like that we're friendly and helpful, and non-prejudicial, but admit that we're prejudiced and think that anyone that says they aren't is basically a liar - people like their own kind plain and simple but what is your own kind? I raised my son to not have a KIND. I'm the same way to a point.....I don't like people that think they're better. So yeah I'm prejudiced.

    As far as having to tell people all our business or warn EVERYONE about my son. The people that do not like him don't need a warning from me. The people that like him and he screws over? Aren't going to like him - that's nothing to do with me and no reflection on my part - that's his bad. The people that would hold that against me? Need their head examined. I raised my son to be a good person. Where he goes from there? On him. Would I warn anyone? No. People will make their own minds up no matter what YOU say about someone. You could tell me that Judy over there is a jerk. I may like Judy and she may be just the nicest person on earth for me. You tell me she's a jerk - she ends up nice.....now whose the jerk? Know what I mean??

    As far as people who have NOT stayed around in your life BECAUSE of things your son has done.....well I'd actually thank your son. Those were not real friends or true friends anyway. Why would you want them around? I have told people for years - my son cut a lot of fakers from the herd.....and I'm thankful for it. His accuracy rate is 100%. What a waste of time THAT would have been to play nice with fakers all those years to find out I had a knife in my back anyway after all? Saved me......all I can say.

    As far as the ones he hurt? It only took them once on getting burnt - and well - none hold it against me. They know me, my character, and that I raised a child who had issues. I don't say illness, or problems anymore. I just say he has things he is working through and hope someday he's the guy that I KNOW he can be. Until then - he's his own person making his own choices and if they are poor choices? Then yup....name someone who hasn't make a poor choice growing up.....hope he learns from it - moves on from there and continues to grow up to make better ones - I'm too old, too tired and too detached to be involved in things that don't make me happy.

    That INCLUDES - people that want to sit around and put down my son -------so if you got taken in --------I'm sorry but my best advice is to not have anything to do with him, and leave me out of it.

    Oh and as far as the lunch table talk? I have So many interests.........Those that tend to want to talk ONLY about their CHILDREN......??????? I usually will ask "SO do you have ANY other hobbies OTHER than your children? I never hear you talk about reading or pets, or going out with your husband or things you enjoy doing for YOURSELF.....just.......the kids." and try to get the hyper focus off children.....

    Or I'm famous for saying "OOOOOOOOOOOOO KAY well today I thought we could talk about FLOWERS.........or BOOKS...........OR clothes.......lipstick............weather........" I need just ONE day where we are NOT talking about KIDS.........NEED A BREAK FROM KIDS........

    Yeah - I'm that blunt.

    and believe it or not - most times OTHER women in the lunchroom would chime in HAPPILY........about flowers, books.......sports, weather........fashion.........cars.........because there are more of us than there are of THEM.

    Hasta la vista baby
  16. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Everyone-THANK YOU. I can't believe I feel so at home (safe and comfort) at a site I found less than a well ago. Thank you for "getting it" without having to explain. And i am so grateful for the wonderful advice given freely and wisely and without judgment.

    I never thought I could be so thrown off course by my son's actions. It never entered my mind that he would turn his back on us. I feel like I woke up in strange cafeteria on my first day of school! Thanks for giving me a seat at your table. I wish I had homemade cookies to share! XXOO
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    ........(passes a brownie) my MOm packed egg salad. wanna trade.
  18. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    For the most part, I'm with AFH on this. The more open I am, the more free I feel. The exceptions are casual community/friends/acquaintances. For these people, I have a boilerplate response when they ask about difficult child (usually their kids are high achievers, and they just don't get that it could be different....they don't ean any harm) I say "Oh, she's working on finding herself" that's usually enough.

    The hardest part of having a difficult child is learning to accept; to love what IS. They have their own minds and we don't always love what they do, but we love them.

    Be honest where you feel safe, and careful where you don't.

  19. MaggieDawn70

    MaggieDawn70 New Member

    I only discuss my difficult child with my husband/difficult child's stepdad and some to my mom. I am a really private person and not one to share much. I've allowed the situation to turn me into a bit of a hermit, I wouldn't recommend it. Some people have better luck in sharing that kind of info with others and I'm not one to take chances with disclosure. To give you an idea, my in-laws, step kids, and my own dad have absolutely no clue what my difficult child has done over the last 6-7+ years. I've gotten good at compartmentalization and responding "she's fine" when anyone asks. Most who know me, they know I'm not a big talker anyway and they don't get pushy with the questions.

    I've been burned a couple of times, back when my difficult child first began behaving badly. I was a little more open then and did try talking about the situation with a couple different folks. I got the judgment/parental criticism and that was enough for me. My ex, difficult child's bio dad, he feels the same way I do but is more isolated than I am; he's also single and lives alone. He has been depressed for years and has a serious drinking problem. Neither one of us has dealt with this really well but his situation is much worse than mine, it's sad. His family turned on him too, as difficult child pulled a lot of her "stunts" around them.

    My ex and me are the poster children for what NOT to do. A good support system is important and my ex does not have one at all, mine is pretty limited.
  20. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I am a pretty open person and so over the years have been pretty open about the issues. When my son was 15 we sent him to a TBS out of state... i was honest with people who asked about that. When he came home the first year he did well and all was good. Then things fell apart. So with friends I have been open and honest and what I have found is people tell you all sorts of things they don't tell other people. Many people have had someone close to them have a substance abuse problem for example. For the most part I have gotten sympathy and support. I will say I am less open with the parents of my sons classmates. I haven't been real comfortable with that group of people for years because of feelings of judgement when my son was young..... so sometimes if asked where he is going to school or whatever i will say "Oh he is off finding himself". I don't necessarily say he is in jail, or rehab or like at the moment in a psychiatric unit. We had parents night at school for my daughter last year when my son was in jail and i practiced before hand what i would say to acquaintances I might run into... However most of those people are only people I would run into somewhere, they are not people in my day to day life. People I see regularly know.... those at work, church, friends etc. I just find it easier becuase truth be told this affects me and how i am doing and where I am at. We are a little less open with my IL's but even they know at this point.

    What I have found for the most part is that people are sympathetic, supportive and know we have done everything we could possibly do. Do they judge me in private... maybe but i don't care anymore. As someone said once "What other people think about me is really none of my business"!!!

    I will say though that although most people in my RL are sympathetic and understanding and supportive they don't always really understand. Often they want to help find solutions... or they feel bad for everything we have gone through. So it has been a great relief to find this board and others who really know what it is like... and I have also found a fabulous parents alanon group and that has been a huge huge help to me. It has been such a relief to meet other people who really understand, who are also good caring parents, and who have kids who are really messed up anyways.

    Do what feels right to you and comfortable for you. People may surprise you and it may just be a relief to not have to try and keep a good face all the time.