Just sad, difficult child is not growing and I need to let go of thinking "it's a phase"



Remember how I thought difficult child might be seeing the light by working in rural desolate North Dakota alongside the "down on their luck" crowd?

I take it back.

Please bear with me - because I am not sure of how to relate these visits to you all.

He came "home" for the weekend. By "home" I mean he stopped by unannounced on Tuesday and came to lunch with H and me, he came by unannounced on Thursday night and stayed for dinner. He swore he'd be back on Sunday to spend time with us and have a family dinner - and then failed to show up or call. He stopped by unannounced once again today to grab a few things and say goodbye as he heads back to ND.

Let me state a disclaimer - at first glance the below may seem like growth or at least positive news - but it isn't. Both H and I are on the same page - but got there separately. For once, H was up pacing the house because he felt unsettled about difficult child.

difficult child decided to stay in ND until TGiving to make more money. He hates it there. He crowed about "how much better" he is than his coworkers. They're drunks, they have bad teeth, they are uneducated or unsophisticated (my words) or just plain dumb (his word). They don't speak English or they are careless or inept or all of the above. He astounds the Spanish speakers by speaking perfect Spanish when they think he can't understand. Of course, he speaks "proper" Spanish and they do not.(again I am relating what he told us) He & his roomies are living with many mice in their trailer, can't use the oven because of the mice nesting in it. The work is hard and gross and he is eating crap most of the time. There are no women and no peers with similar backgrounds. When I mentioned that I was glad he has E (the student he is working with from home) he told me "E is a tool" - this kid is his ONLY friend there.

Of course I wanted to shake him! How on earth does he think he ended up with perfect teeth and perfect Spanish! He has a home, he has a bed, he has every advantage in the entire world and he has blown them all. He isn't better than his coworkers! He is worse - he HAD options and he willfully squandered every single one. He feels so superior and I can't help but think that is why he is staying.

He won't be home for pc17s senior varsity football season which is OK on one hand but heartbreaking on the other. It was something he promised to his little brother over and over again beginning in 2006.

He managed to break his phone while he was camping for the weekend, so he bought a new phone and switched to his own account - which is probably good - but it means I won't be able to see if he is alive when necessary.

When I asked him if he had a 5 year plan - he told me it was to be retired. HUH?

I asked about short term plans and he gave me the same bulloney about getting back into school. Except this time school was Berkley. He is going to Santa Barbara, going to tech school for a year to establish residency and then transferring to UC Berkley to get his undergrad & graduate degrees. Because he wants to be a world class surfer. Sure.

(FWIW Berkley didn't accept 4 kids with perfect ACT & GPAs from our HS - there is no way in heck a 23 yo who failed out from both a State Uni AND a Community College - would EVER get in. Not a single kid from our HS has ever been accepted)

Later in the conversation, he mentioned going to Colorado State or TCU or another State Uni here. He also mentioned that he may compete on the Snowboard Circuit. And that he was thinking of buying a share in a ski house or a timeshare of his own. And he is buying season passes at a half a dozen local and out of state Ski Hills.

What planet is this difficult child on? I feel myself getting a little riled up as I type this out but truthfully, I am mostly sad. He was so out of touch that it was laughable except that he is my boy and it broke my heart. When he left today, I felt like it could be the last time I see him. I don't know why, but that's how I feel. In a lot of ways, he is breaking ties with us. I think he is running away from himself and he is surrounding himself only with those people whom he feels are beneath him.

His lease on his local apartment ends in 4 weeks and all of the guys are moving on. He should have moved his stuff out but has not. He said his roommate might bring it by - but if not - it's ok if they toss it all.

I am really worried for him and I think we may have lost him for keeps this time.


Well-Known Member
Some people just aren't meant for white picket fences. Having said that they also don't want them. He may just wind up being one of those guys who wonders through life happy as a lark while surviving on very little.

It is time to let go and let him do it.


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Sig I know this is hard and I know it is not what you want for him..... but the good news is he is working, he is supporting himself. I think it is relatively normal for kids this age to distance themselves for awhile from their families as they find their way in life. I think our kids have no idea how hard this is on us.... I know I had no clue how my parents felt as I gained my independence and geez moved across the country.

He is young yet.... and at least he is being productive in his life even if he has a lousy attitude. Life will probably teach him some lessons... and he has a lot of lessons to learn.


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I understand all that - it's just that he was so SMARMY and SMUG. He clearly felt he was so much better than his coworkers which really rubbed me the wrong way. That's not how he was raised and I am ashamed on his behalf.

And this stuff about going to Berkley and buying a share in a ski house, RETIRING at age 27... he just kept going...what planet is he on? Does he really think his dad and I are going to buy his baloney? Who is he trying to impress? He was serious; it was not tongue in check.

It's just been there done that - same lines but different day; and 3 years have passed. He hasn't made any progress from 3 years ago, he hasn't learned, he hasn't grown. It's the same old story about just how smart and in control of his (apparently successful) destiny he is ... and all the while he is going in circles and going nowhere. And he is increasingly turning to younger (more impressionable) friends as his peers have outgrown him.

On one hand - I want to call his bluff or roll my eyes. On the other hand, he is my boy and I am really worried about what this all means. I am scared for him; I wonder if he could be delusional or if this is part of a mental illness or if he is using additional drugs. His eyes are not clear, Know what I mean?? I also wonder if his grandiosity stems from drug dealing activity.

His life is far from productive, Right now - he has the clothes on his back and whatever work clothes are in the mouse infested trailer in ND or left behind in his room here. I am sure whatever clothes and furnishings were in his apartment will be left behind for good. The clothes he was wearing the past days clearly had seen much better days. His shoes had holes as did his shorts. I just need to accept the unacceptable.


Well-Known Member
Sometimes accepting it is all you can do. The smug part would make me angry too. All the lies would drive me nuts. But maybe in his mind they are all valid options.

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I get it Sig... if I was in your shoes I am sure I would feel exactly the same way. And it is pretty scary if his smugness comes from drug dealing. Do you think he is drug dealing at this point?

It is all a matter of perspective.... from my shoes I would be happy if my difficult child was working in any kind of honest job, supporting himself even in a mice infested trailer. Better than where he is now.


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Sadly, I suspect he is. Hopefully "just" marijuana - but who knows. I am 99.9% sure he was dealing when this all started 3 years ago and that's why he was unexpected & adamantly against staying home for a semester. I suspect he never stopped selling. I never saw any evidence in our house - but that would explain him getting a secret apartment less than 6 months after moving "home."

When I saw him last Wednesday - he asked if he could port his cell number his own account with Verizon because they have much better service in ND. His roommate piped in to say "huh?" - that he has great reception with AT & T - our current provider. So he was clearly lying about needing to switch solely for improved reception and he shot dagger eyes at the roommate.

He also could get a big pay bump with a CDL - but a CDL requires drug testing. It's the second time he has declined to obtain a CDL in return for more pay.

It all adds up - Know what I mean??


Well-Known Member
My daughter told me if you use drugs you sell them. It shouldn't have shocked me, but it did. It may just be dealing to your friends, but it's apparently part of the culture. She could not have been big time as she did not have a lot of money. Many difficult children who seem not to work, but have money anyway are actually probably selling drugs and maybe stealing and selling hot items. I knew a couple who did this (daughter and her felon boyfriend of a friend of mine). They cleaned up because they also got food cards, Medicaid and disability.Grandma also gave them money too because she was terrified they'd take the grandchildren and she preferred they all lived with her than the grands be in the care of two drug addicts. In the end, daughter and felon WERE kicked out, but grandkids stayed...not sure where it went after that.

Your son sounds unrealistic, but hey he'll find out for himself that it isn't going to happen. The magical thinking of our difficult children is nothing less than amazing.

I am so very sorry for your hurting mommy heart. You never know...reality may smack him in the face and make him accept the real world one day. It has happened. Until then, be good to yourself and your jmore realistic loved ones.


one day at a time
Oh Sig, on the one hand I am very sorry you've had the week you have had with difficult child, and on the other hand, perhaps it is good to see him in the clear light of day.

Right now, he is what you see. This is exactly who he is. Don't forget it. It will help you continue to stop enabling, detach with love and accept him right now today for just who he is.

It doesn't mean this is who he will always be. Things change. People change. He is only 22---he is still very immature and if he's been using drugs for years, like my son has, his development is completely arrested---back to when he started using. Is he acting about like a 14-year-old? That's because maturity-wise, that is where he still is.

He hasn't made any progress from 3 years ago, he hasn't learned, he hasn't grown.

Addiction arrests development. That is a huge factor. As our kids' friends grow up, move on and build a life, they leave their substance-abusing friends way, way behind. They will not grow until they arrest their addiction and move into recovery. Just stopping the drug or alcohol use isn't enough. They have to start recovering.

Behaviors of addiction

I think this is true stuff. Read about how they act when they are addicted. We will see our children there.

Warm hugs to you. Right now, he is working somewhere far, far away. You can't know the future, Sig. Let him go, for now.

Focus on yourself and your family. As someone else said today, Our parenting days are done.

Stress Bunny

Active Member

Just wanted to say that I completely get the exasperation with difficult child and his gradiose thinking.

My difficult child, JT, is the same way. He has made ridiculous claims such as:
  • He was going to be an underwater welder and become rich in five years, though he had already flunked out of college because he couldn't discipline himself to even show up for his classes, much less pass them.
  • He is the best (fill in the blank) his supervisor has ever seen in the history of the company after just weeks on the job.
  • He could design a car for the highway that would run on lemon juice and get rich.
  • He knew more in fifth grade about algebra, than his mother, who has a masters degree in the financial field.
  • He could build a house by himself after one summer working on a construction crew.
  • He knew how to fly airplanes, though he never had any training.
And the list goes on and on! You get the idea!

Has your son always had grandiosity? I know JT has, from early childhood. So, in my difficult child's case anyway, it was present prior to his using alcohol or drugs.

I do think this type of thinking is an important clue. In JT's case, I believe he has a personality disorder of some sort. He is NOT bi-polar, although grandiosity is a symptom of that.

You could try bringing your difficult child back to earth, bursting his bubble, taking him down a notch, or putting him in his place, but these tactics probably won't work. I know because I tried them all!

Sadly, even natural consequences don't seem to change this type of thinking. That's why I think in my son's case it is a disorder of some sort. It's quite constant and noticeably abnormal in comparison to healthy people.

I am learning more and more that I can't fix my difficult child's issues. I want to, but I can't. You will benefit from letting your son go and bringing your attention back to taking extra good care of yourself. Hopefully your son will find his purpose in life and recover from his substance abuse issues. You can't control that though. This path we're on is a hard one. I'm sorry you are going through this.


Well-Known Member
Sig, for some reason your son gives me the feeling there is hope for him. If you had known me as a teen or early adult you would have thought I was disaster with a capital D. Now I dont believe I was ever addicted to anything because there was never a problem for me when I knew I had to grow up and put away my toys as I like to put it. I dont even think I had ever heard of rehab...lol. I just knew that once kids came into the picture my days of partying were over.

I do have many regrets about what could have been. I threw away so many opportunities. I sometimes wonder where and who I would be right now if I had made better decisions. Namely kept my legs closed! Then again, I wouldnt have the boys that I love dearly which means I wouldnt have my beloved grandchildren. It is probably a sure bet I wouldnt have met a man who would have been as loyal to me as Tony has been considering all my health problems.

Its entirely possible that your son may not end up being what you had hoped for but he could get tired of what he is doing now and go back to some sort of school and have a good life.

Calamity Jane

Well-Known Member
Ugh, he's just not LEARNING anything, Sig. Sometimes, when I would talk to difficult child at the height of our troubles, I'd just want to shake my head and say, "Who ARE you??"

Is it a defense mechanism because he sees his brothers and his peers moving on in life? The contempt for his coworkers, in his current chosen occupation, by the way, is very disappointing, and I'm sure you didn't raise him that way. The probable dealing is problematic. He's become a risk taker in an occupation where risk does not lead to reward, at least, not for long. Perhaps he just keeps mentioning going back to school because he thinks it mollifies you in some way, that makes him more acceptable. I don't know if he has any intention of ever going back.

You have already raised him, Sig, you've done your job. He seems to be a survivor, and nobody's fool. He sees this current job as a means to an end, but we know that there are folks who spend a lifetime working sh!%%* jobs and even those sh!%%8 jobs dry out when you can no longer pull your weight. It is a shame to have an intellect and squander it, but that's his gift to do what he wishes with it. He is on his own journey now, and the fact is, you can't save him and you can't stop him. That's frustrating and there's not a doggone thing you can do about it, but accept it. At least you and husband are on the same page. We're all in the same boat, in one degree or another. I know where you're coming from - ((((hugs)))).


Thank you everyone for your words. Maybe it's just whacky 47 year old hormones - but somehow the deep & sharp "ache" just hit me again yesterday and doesn't seem to want to go away.

Honestly, I am worried about his well-being and now he is too far away & literally disconnected for me to have any sense of his well being. I have this awful feeling like we may never see him again. I really doubt he will come home for Thanksgiving as he promised and even if he does - I picture us milling around and not making plans and wondering if he will show. And so long as he is thinking of coming home - I won't make other plans because I know I won't take the chance that we could miss seeing him. At least not at this stage...

I hate this.


Well-Known Member
Ditto on the ridiculous claims my difficult child made during her lost years. I use to get so upset when she would tell us her plans and my husband had to kick me under the table and later remind me that it was all talk and wouldn't happen, and it didn't.

Sig I had this mental picture in my head when you described your difficult child's experience about a show I saw on TV recently about a logger who was recruiting people to go to North Dakota to work and he would go into bars and have meetings and get guys to sign up. Most had very few teeth and were interesting characters. The show followed them to North Dakota where they met up with other recruits from across the country and showed how they lived in cabins with no heat, etc etc.

Everytime my difficult child took more clothes or possessions from our house to her newest living accomodations I felt sad, remembering when we bought the clothes, the times she wore them, the hopes I had at the time, and knowing that I would never see them again, they would be ruined, left behind, given away or stolen. Some things I held back, hid in my closet for safekeeping just in case. So I understand your sadness. You are not ready Occupational Therapist (OT) let go or give up, I get that. I hope you never have to. I hope that he does come around and even if he doesn't come back to the way things were before he at least wants to have a connection to the family finds a path that will allow him to lead a productive life.


Well-Known Member
I hear you saying he hates it there. Those people are scumbags. That might be the motivating thing he needs to do right by himself. It is sinking in for him, he wants a better life. He has to do it himself. I have faith in him for the long run. He is honestly supporting himself, he's working. This isn't the path you had in mind but he still can be ok. hugs.