Lifetime of Sadness

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Jackievg, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. Jackievg

    Jackievg New Member

    I’m not sure what to expect from sharing my story. I’m just glad I have found this soft place to land. Such familiar stories…mine is a bit different as you will see. It helps to write about it.

    I’ll call my son Mason. He is 53 years old. He attempted suicide at age 38 and carries a bullet in his head one quarter inch from his brain. His problems, behaviors, whatever you want to call them started the day he was born. He came into the world a 4-1/2 pound ball of anger in 1962. His birth was actually three days late. He screamed continuously and didn’t sleep except for one hour a day, in 5-10 minute spurts. You may say “Nah, babies can’t cry 23 hours a day.” Yes, they can, and it was confirmed by pediatric psychologists and my own research. From crying he moved into anger – at everything. He was never a happy child, never smiled. My husband was of no use and would blame Mason’s behaviors on me. I became resentful and very, very tired. While the marriage went on for 28 years, it pretty much ended when Mason was born.

    I would get a pat on the back from the pediatrician with “Now, calm down mother, and everything will be fine.” Clearly, something was desperately wrong but there was no help, just platitudes. When he was seven I took Mason to a child psychologist. With no children of his own, he had no problem with Mason. Of course, his office was filled with wonderful toys and for 45 minutes he gave Mason his full attention. His advice to me was “If your sex life would improve, your renewed contentment would drift down to your child.” No, I’m not kidding, and he knew nothing about my sex life. We didn’t go back. He was the first of several counselors. The one with a brain told me I was wasting my money to bring Mason for counseling because he would not reflect on anything that was said. He thought he could help me to cope, though, so I saw him several times. It did help – for a while. But then, the hopelessness, the not knowing what to do, took over again. This is the short version of a very long story.

    Fast forward to adulthood. Mason is a highly skilled upholsterer. He’s bright, although until I had his intelligence tested as a child, I wondered about that. He rarely is hired because he cannot keep his anger in check. He is homeless, although he’s not exactly on the street. He lives in a 20 foot trailer behind an upholstery shop in an industrial area where he sometimes gets a little work. He berates the homeless people who hang around the area.

    For the past year I have paid $150 for his rent. I pay for his phone. I pay for the honey bucket that sits next to his trailer. He has power but no running water. I send him a $100 money order at the beginning of the month, so I am contributing a total of $400 a month to his sad existence. He hasn’t had a driver’s license for years. He has no ID. He can’t cash a check. He can cash the money order because he’s been going to the same place for years. He gets food stamps. I am willing to do this much, but no more. I’ve told him he is getting part of his inheritance early, and it will be deducted from whatever remains when we are gone. I do this more for me than for him. Making sure he has a place to sleep lets me sleep and keeps me sane. His excellent manipulation skills no longer work, and he knows it. He seems to be somewhat appreciative of this new arrangement, and if he asks for more, which he eventually will, he won’t get it. I would never let him move home to live with me. Once in, how do you get them out?

    Mason doesn’t exist except in some court record because he ran out on a DUI years ago. He did have an ID card at one time. When it came time to renew, he didn’t bother. It was too much trouble to get it. Now, he cannot get an ID card without five pieces of documentation proving who he is. He can’t meet the requirement. He walks or takes the bus. He is unable to think beyond tomorrow and generally has not even a dime to his name – until he gets the next $100 from me or maybe a little work - under the table. He was married once and I am forever grateful that he has no children! I feel for those who must worry about or raise their grandchildren.

    My wonderful husband of 23 years is my rock. He never tells me what I should do except to remind me occasionally that enabling isn’t helping. He tells me that I have the right to be happy. Before I began providing for some of Mason’s specific needs (only cash is the $100), he was right about the enabling. I fell for Mason’s manipulation and would give in when he cried and begged for money. But, the way I’m ‘helping’ now makes sense to me. I am happier, more at peace, and I can sleep. I think of this as progress, at least for me. I’ve learned that trying to help without specific boundaries, set in stone, is an effort in futility.

    After reading so many sad stories, I wonder why anyone wants to have children. I guess it’s because babies are cute, or maybe because we think we are supposed to procreate. But, then that cute baby grows up. Some people luck out, but many of us struggle with difficult adult children, and the guilt is overwhelming. We blame ourselves. It’s hard to think it’s not our fault. Our friends with their perfect children blame us. And, if you’re a mother, you get just about all of the blame.

    These children of ours prey on our guilt and their respect for us flies out the window. The more we give, the more they want. I know people who have diminished their retirement savings to enable useless manipulative adult kids. How sad is that.

    Mason is not going to change. He has made poor choices his entire life. I read this recently…”We each create our own destiny. This is not your journey to walk, it’s his. His fate is no more in your hands than mine, as the total stranger I am. Sometimes we have to come to a state of acceptance, prepare ourselves for the worst, and let go of the need to rectify anything.” Tough to do, very tough, but true.

    I have one other child. She is in her 15th year of teaching and has a great life. She and her husband are the lucky ones, and I adore my two ‘perfect’ grandchildren. I guess you’d call me a 50 percenter.
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  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry you have suffered so much and for so long.

    Doing the math, I know you both have to be at the very least 71 and probably older. It is well past your time to parent this almost senior citizen son. I can't tell you what to do, but I sure would not pay anything for a 53 year old who refuses to get his life together. What will he do when you're gone? If you even have money left over to give him, he will blow right through it.

    Your son is not unlucky. He made bad choices and is now getting old and has nothing due to his own choices. Your daughter made GOOD choices and is reaping those rewards and so are you because you have her and her children to love. Please...think about taking care of yourselves now. Taking care of Mason has not helped him. You're right that he is very unlikely to change, but he won't change at all for certain unless you cut off his money supply. Really, he (NOT YOU BUT HE) should be ashamed of himself, taking anything from you at his age.

    Hugs for your hurting heart. Wishing you the willpower to let go and enjoy your retirement in peace.
  3. Jackievg

    Jackievg New Member

  4. Jackievg

    Jackievg New Member

    I appreciate your response. Sometimes I wonder if there are people who cannot, simply cannot, think normally - whatever normal is. Those of us who are 'nomal' cannot get into the heads of those who are not. Mason was always different, could only think of the moment, and I am sure he has a mental disorder of some kind, although nothing was ever diagnosed. Maybe in today's world it would be.

    With the present situation (paying for his trailer, phone, honey bucket) I am so much more content with my life than when I got those phone calls with the crying, begging, etc. This is set in stone and, fortunately, it is not a financial burden. For my peace of mind I am willing to do this, at least for now. Whatever is spent on him will be reduced from his inheritance when we're gone. My husband is younger so Mason has a long wait! In truth, he has tons of health problems, refuses to take care of himself, doesn't care, and will likely not live to be old. I didn't expect him to make it to 30. There were other, less dramatic, suicide attempts.

    There is a long history here. Believe me, he will never change his life. If I cut him off, he would be on the street, he would beg, and he wouldn't last long. He would do nothing to change. That's too much for me to deal with, hence I do what I do - for now.

    I'm new to this site so hope I'm doing it right. I will look up your thread.

    Thank you!
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You're doing it right, and since the money is bringing you peace and not a burden you are certainly taking care of yourself as well as Mason. You seem exceptionally kind and I'm glad you have a husband and a daughter and grands to spoil. Great job!!!!
  6. Hopeful97

    Hopeful97 Active Member


    I am truly sorry for your heartache. I am glad you are finding some type of peace. Your situation is a bit different than mine, just wanted you to know there are others here that understand your pain and the need to find some peace.


  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jackievg, your story is a sad tale, I am sorry for the heartache you've endured. I believe you're making good choices, your boundaries are strong, your intention is clear, you know what you're willing to do and what you're not. I'm sure it was a very long road to get where you are. In a devastating situation, you found a way for your heart to be at peace.

    I understand your pain. I have a 43 year old daughter who is somewhat similar to your son, although I am not actively helping her, I may someday be in your shoes. We have to make choices we can live with and I understand your choices completely.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, it's very helpful. Writing my story here, to others who are on a similar journey, was a big part of my own healing.

    Welcome. You're not alone anymore. I'm glad you're here.
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Jackie

    Welcome. All of us share this in common: our children have suffered and we suffer with them, no matter how old they are. And to one extent or another we blame ourselves. It is an incurable disease. Called life.

    By being together here we understand that life does not choose us to suffer. Although it seems so. Suffering is everywhere. It is not a mark designating our worth. Although it feels so, sometimes, to me.

    I believe that the only way to combat it is to live well. A kind of defiance. Which you are doing.

    I am glad you are here. Keep posting. I am glad we all found each other. It helps. A lot.

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  9. Hopeful97

    Hopeful97 Active Member

    Wow Copabanana, Your words in this post are wise and much needed for a lot of us to hear.

    Thank you warrior mom!

  10. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    You have much resilience and have found a way within this heartbreak to help your son that you can live with. You have a right to set healthy limits and find serenity in your own life. My thoughts are with you.
  11. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    HI J, and welcome to the forum. I admire your resolve and strength, you have done a terrific job of setting boundaries, and taking care of yourself, at the same time.
    I totally agree, keep on keeping, on, and stay with us, we all help each other, fight the good fight! {{{HUGS}}} leafy
  12. Jackiegv

    Jackiegv New Member

    Thank you for your thoughts. It does help to share, doesn't it...
  13. Jackievg

    Jackievg New Member

    Thank you for your comments. I'm glad something I said might be helpful for you and others. I know that reading these stories helps me to understand that I am not alone. I already knew that, of course, but rarely do people share their stories. That's what is so wonderful about this site.

    We often tend to whitewash the problems with our difficult children to avoid the blame that is put upon us by others. We feel enough blame without any help! There is no judgment here with all of you.
  14. Lucyxyz

    Lucyxyz New Member

    I'm living your life. I'm younger, as is my son, but the parallels are there. He's a master manipulator. People that meet him think he's awesome. He lies when ever he speaks and tells them how 'great he's doing in school & how he has all these plans' when the reality is he's dropped out of junior college 5 times and spends his days sleeping and smoking pot.

    His anger is pointed directly at me even though I'm the one that literally did everything for him all his life. He had a girl friend last year. Nice girl from a good family. He was there too much to where they were basically living together as her wealthy parents travelled 90% of the time. His anger started to translate to her and even at her young age, she was smart enough to dump him. So the pattern will continue. The next girl will become the target of his rage etc etc so relationships will fail for him always.

    My husband is the enabler. I told him the other day that if I leave, the anger will then transfer to him so for him to think he's off the hook or somehow the 'good parent' because our sons rage is targeted at me (because I know that without consequences for our actions life is insanity) is a pipe dream He's a pathological liar and a complete narcissist so NOTHING is ever his fault. No matter what he does you are NOT to correct him or get even the slightest bit annoyed at his actions. You are to kiss his ass and praise him for literally sleeping all day and staying out all night. If you don't, it's YOUR fault he's lazy, unmotivated and disrespectful even though he was showered with love and 'things' his entire life. He was our ONLY child so he was our world. If you do brave the occasional 'hey don't do that', he explodes, calls you horrific names and threatens to kill you.

    I appreciated your comment in my 'I'm a failure' post as I no longer love my son. For a mother to say that you have to only imagine what lead up to it. Years and years of horrible, awful actions and words. When you said 'it's okay, what's there to love' a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Thank you so much. To know I'm not alone or a horrible person for saying it out loud means everything.

    I'm so sorry about your situation. Please know that I understand completely what you're going through.
  15. Mamacat

    Mamacat Active Member

    Boy that all sounds slightly familiar. Mine is a 45 year old daughter. She was always finding the perfect work situation. It was going to be so wonderful. Then something would not be to her liking and she would walk away often with very little notice. Once she left a teaching job. Just decided on her way to work that she was quitting, turned the car around, went home, and sent them an email telling them she was quitting. And don't dare question her about her decisions. After she went through lots of money from the sale of a house, her stepdad and I were stepping in help her financially. There were 2 little girls involved. This went on for years. She blamed me, called me malicious. Now she's cut off contact with me because I said no. I'm giving you this long story because ii don't know how I feel about my daughter. I don't like her. I don't know about loving her.
  16. Ironbutterfly

    Ironbutterfly If focused on a single leaf you won't see the tree

    Jackievg, your son and my son could be brothers. My son is mentally challenged from birth, he has lower IQ but high enough to know right from wrong, but also gets taken advantage of from others. He also doesn't have an ID either due to some legal stuff he has to take care of. He doesn't get food stamps because of legal issue. He does get SSDI/SSI and has a payee who is a Pastor and his landlord. Son rents a room in a house from him. He has anger issues, and other diagnoses early on in his childhood and teenage years; he gets easily frustrated and has walked off any job he has had. He does work a few days a week holding a sign on the street for a phone company. I send him food cards, visa gift cards in small amounts to help him out monthly. I do pay his phone bill of 40.00 a month. I had sent him cash for a while, but found out he was using for other things then his basic needs.

    I was his payee for a few years and it almost drove me to insanity. I stopped being his payee and life changed for the better for me.

    I provide for him because of his mentality issues. I have learned how to adjust my financial boundaries over many years. I can sleep at night knowing I provide basic needs help. YOU are doing the right thing so that you can survive in your situation.

    I do think your son never got a correct diagnosis early in life, it is not normal for a baby to cry non stop. He had anger issues from the beginning. Yes he is grown man now and responsible for his decisions in life. But also think he fell through the cracks with being diagnosed early on. Many many years ago, Doctors just didn't know what they know now. ADHD came out around my son's age (he is 36) and now there are so many terms and labels for kids these days.

    In the end, we all have to do what we feel we can live with, whatever gives us peace of mind so that we can enjoy our remaining years on this earth.