Looking for connection - my heart hurts so badly... What is okay?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by AKAnnie, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. AKAnnie

    AKAnnie New Member

    Hello! I've been reading through this forum and learning that (1) our family is not alone and (2) tough love is okay - even if it feels like it's killing you. But I'm struggling...and trying to make sense of my emotions. Our family has struggled with our oldest son (19) since he was 12. Prior to puberty - he was brilliant, funny, empathic, giving, sweet, thoughtful, and a leader. Bio-dad is now a recovering alcoholic but has always been, and remains, a deadbeat. Step-dad came into the picture when son was almost 4 years old and step-dad became adoptive dad when son was 15.

    Son began to exhibit academic problems at 12 and at 14 was diagnosed with rather severe ADHD. As junior high and high school progressed, son hung out with other troubled souls, doing drugs, sneaking out at night. His behavior was slowly tearing my marriage apart and the other children were suffering as they watched our family head to the brink of dissolution. After oldest son got in trouble with the law for stealing a computer from a school, we couldn't take it anymore. We had tried 4 different therapists, 2 psychiatrists to manage his medications, countless talks and chances...and we. just. couldn't. anymore. He ended up in a crisis recovery center for two weeks before heading to a military youth academy for 2.5 months. Before he left, we told him that he would need to shape up if he wanted to continue living with us. At this point, we didn't feel safe in our home with him in it - not because he was violent (although we feared he could be) but because of the druggies he was hanging out with and because he was stealing from us to support his habits. He showed no remorse at how the rest of us were struggling and completely disregarded any boundaries we set with him.

    My husband and I continued therapy (as did our two other children) to work through, and recover from, the storm that was our oldest. Our therapist began supporting a tough-love stance and taught us how we were working harder on our son's problems than he was...that we need to interact with our oldest from a place of curious detachment...that we only respond when he reaches out to us. Meanwhile, our oldest was doing really well at the academy with the structure and seemed to be turning things around. After he finished the program, we invited him back to live with us with the conditions that (1) he finish high school and (2) he respected our (few) rules and boundaries. He lived with us for two months before things spiraled out again.

    We placed him in a therapeutic foster care program for troubled young men. It was a home with a trained house mom that housed 5 youths.We thought this would be a good fit because he could finish school and have some accountability measures that weren't coming from us...and we could work on repairing a relationship with him. This lasted two months before he ran away from the house as housemom found he had given alcohol to other youths in the home and told our oldest she was placing him in in-patient care.

    His running away just about killed me I was so scared for him. We placed ads on craigslist trying to find him. We reached out to all his known friends. I tried social media platforms...and nothing. After 6 weeks, we learned he was staying with a friend. This friend's mother thought she could save our oldest. We warned her to be careful and she didn't listen. This arrangement lasted two months more as then she found that our oldest was doing drugs with her son and had stolen from them. She asked us to come pick him up. We did - and drove him straight to a homeless shelter for teens. At this point I was on anti-depressants and felt like maybe I needed a stay in the crisis recovery center...but I couldn't. I still had two younger kids to care for.

    While at the homeless shelter, our oldest continued to do drugs and remained resistant to any therapeutic help. I finally reached out to bio dad to see if D could live with him in Texas. Bio dad came through, we flew D out to Texas, and felt relieved that D was in a safer place. This lasted about 7 months...then D stole bio-dad's card number to buy a one-way ticket to another state to live with a girl he met online.

    This new home arrangement lasted 1.5 months before he was kicked out of that home for sleeping not only with the girl but her sister, too.

    At 19 - he is now homeless and in jail...facing felony charges. According to the arresting officer, he is a one-man crime spree stealing food and clothes, phones, whatever he needs as well as being a sexual predator. Arresting officer said the charges can all be dropped if we transfer him back to our home state. When we mentioned the possibility of our oldest coming back to this state, our 12 year old had a rather PTSD response. He said, "no...no...JUST NO!" That our oldest brings nothing but misery and tears our family apart...then he burst into tears. This is absolutely not normal for our youngest. D is still resistant to any help or therapy. He thinks he has ASPD and I'm beginning to think maybe he's right. Whatever the case may be - he has psychotic episodes...thinks he's God, wants to write a new Bible, is a master manipulator, lies, steals, destroys whatever people are around him...and no remorse. None. We told the arresting officer that D coming back to our home state is not an option...and so he's facing serious criminal charges thousands of miles from home.

    Meanwhile - dad and I are s.u.f.f.e.r.i.n.g. If he is truly mentally ill - and at this point we don't doubt that - what is our responsibility to him? How do we advocate for him when he can't advocate for himself? Do we just stay away and let the chips fall where they may? Dad thinks jail is the best place for him right now as (1) he'd be "safe," (2) other people are safe from him, (3) he can get the help he needs. I hear that...and I understand that...but my heart - it hurts. When is it better to think that your kid is better off in jail?

    I feel so depressed and like a failure. Rationally, I know I've tried hard, we all have...but my heart...I grieve as though my son has died. MY son...my sweet little boy is dead along with all my hopes and dreams for him...and all I have left is a shell of a man that looks like my son but isn't.

    Thanks for any help and insight you guys might offer.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, ok, ok. Breathe. And welcome. Your son can easily advocate for himself. He can easily walk into a county mental health clinic. That's all he needs to do...make an appointment. Therapist will help him. YOU can't help him at all or advocate for him as he is a 19 year old man and you have no legal power over him anymore. Give up the ideas that you can advocate and that he can't. Won't maybe, but he can. So both thoughts are wrong. Drop the guilt!

    First and foremost you did nothing to cause your son to be this way. Did you hold him down and shoot drugs into him? Do drugs in front of him? Steal? Have sex in pure view? Spend time in jail? No, you set a good example. DNA is huge with behavior. Does your ex show similar traits? In his DNA, which can not be changed, oldest is 50% his biolgocal father's DNA. We can hope to put a damper on a bad deck of DNA cards, but we cant wipe it out. I have three adopted angels and adopted a monster who we loved, but he was a sexual predator and as soon as we found out he hurt the youngest kids he was gone. The youngest ones needed protection from him, like the child your son sexually harmed does. Ours got residential treatment until he was 18, never came back, and I don't know much about him anymore. I don't want to. Sexually acting out even once, even in our children, is a scary deal breaker in our family. I am sure your son traumatized his sister and brother. I say no to ever letting him live with you again, or his siblings could turn into the same mess your oldest is. in my opinion you can't sacrifice your entire family for a child who does drugs, steals, is a sexual predator (even if you get a lawyer to drop the charges, he still did it) and your son has no remorse. Neither did ours. He was a scary kid. So is yours. Now...

    Your other two are nice kids? Then you did not, by your parenting, cause oldest to go off the rails. He just did. I think you got good advice from Counselor. This young man has been offered much sanctuary, but he can not maintain normal decent behavior. Anywhere. With anyone. He just eont conform. And he doesnt want to explore therapy. I do not know if he has ASPD. He sounds like it right now. Did he always lack remorse? Some people have no remorse or empathy. Some seem to be born lacking empathy. They don't understand it. This makes them dangerous. They don't feel guilt or sadness when others hurt. They often hurt animals too or like fire or poop and per inappropriately when little. But not always.

    I know you love your son, but you love your husband and other kids too. Don't put them through his scary stuff again. At least in jail your son can not take drugs. When he gets out, do not take him back. Do not bail him out. He is safer for now where he is. Once he gets out, he is crafty. He will find ways to get shelter, food, clothes, etc. even if he has to steal and lie. You can always wife him small items (never give a drug addict cash or anything valuable or these will go to buying drugs only). There are shelters, pantries, food cards, welfare, etc. He will be good at tapping into every resource. He takes good care of him, even if he has to steal and he steals even with a roof over his head so homelessness won't change that. He steals regardless.

    To my way of thinking, you can not save him, but you can save the rest of the family, including yourself. That you can do. Or you can bring him back, he will continue on, and everyone will be destroyed because he will not change with no evidence he even cares about changing. And he could molest again. Good possibility in fact. Maybe not sister. Maybe a cousin of neighbor.

    I hope you can stand strong. Love and hugs! This is very hard, but....to me there is no way to safely bring him home. Ever.

    P.s.--psychotic episodes could be drugs, like meth.
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    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    AKAnnie, welcome. I'm so sorry you continue to go thru heartache around your oldest son. Your story is not uncommon, you've come to the right place. As you can see, you are not alone.

    Yes, we parents do an enormous amount of suffering when our adult troubled kids go off the rails, for whatever reason. It appears you've made excellent choices in detaching from your son's behaviors, choices and lifestyle, it is not easy. Our parent hearts are devastated by what we can't control, by the sheer powerlessness of it all, watching our hopes and dreams for our precious kids go up in smoke by their own choices, dealing with our own deep grief, sorrow, guilt, anger, resentments and fear.....it's almost too much to cope with.

    I believe you've made the correct choice given the background you've explained. You must keep your other children and your family safe. However, even when we make the "right" choice around here, it often feels terrible. I'm sorry.

    What many of us here have learned is that we are the ones who do the heavy lifting of change. We have to learn how to respond to very different parent/kid issues which is not easy when our natural tendency is to protect, nurture, love and keep our kids safe. To that end, I would strongly recommend family therapy so you can all learn to cope with the issues a troubled kid brings to a family. You might consider contacting NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.....they have wonderful parent courses many of us here have taken. You can access them online. They may be able to offer you guidance, information, support, and resources for you and for your son. Many here find solace and comfort in 12 step groups such as Families Anonymous, Al Anon and Narc Anon. It may also be helpful to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. A good book many of us have read is Codependent no More by Melodie Beattie.

    Feeling depressed and like a failure is often how we parents react to this tsunami of chaos, fear and uncertainty in our adult kids lives. However, you didn't create this, you can't fix it and you can't control it. The powerlessness/fear of that in regards to our children is pretty overwhelming......we usually need professional support to override that powerlessness/fear, and find ways to set our boundaries and detach enough from their behaviors and choices to find peacefulness and joy in our own lives. I understand at this stage how absurd that can sound when your child is struggling, however, our depression, our worry, our fear, our loss of sleep, our devastation does nothing to help the situation, it only serves to ruin our own lives. Getting help for ourselves offers us balance, insight, tools, support, guidance, information, a place to deal with our profound grief and the strength and courage to walk thru this maze of hurts and find our way. Once you begin to feel better, you can continue to make healthy choices, find meaning in those choices and learn to accept what you cannot change.

    This is not an easy path. I know. Keep posting, sharing our story is healing and others will offer you support and compassion.....you will feel much less alone.....find as much support as you can......find ways to nurture and nourish yourself, put yourself and your other children as your priority....I'm glad you found us.....you are not alone.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have to apologize. I still have PTSD over the child we had who was a predator. I still stand by my advice, but in my panic I forgot to say what RE did. Get help. Al Anon is good. NAMI is good. Private therapy with the right person for your family is priceless.

    We can't change them, but we can learn coping skills and have a mentor for us to help us do what we must.

    You in no way caused this, I repeat. This is out of your hands, but my family did get therapy, pulled more tightly together and the rest of us did well and are very close. This can pull you apart or bond you. Please don't fall apart. It will not help your son if the rest of you don't make it. Get help. Please.
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  5. AKAnnie

    AKAnnie New Member

    SomewhereOutThere and recoveringenabler...I read your responses and it felt like clinging to wisdom and comfort. Thank you for your encouragement. I feel like I am in a room with girlfriends that GET it...and I don't think I have ever felt that during this long journey. D is not a "young child" molester (that we know of)... As far as we know and according to the arresting officer, he preys on young teen girls (15/16/17) that have their own emotional issues to get what he needs/wants. Food, clothes, phones, sex, etc. It doesn't make it better AT ALL...it's just a different facet of a terrible path...and it doesn't mean his depravity won't shift and change at some point. :(

    I am just so grateful to have stumbled on this forum. What a blessing...
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Still....Minors? He could get into serious trouble, especially if he gropes and it is unwanted.

    At any rate, I try to share what I have gone through and see on the forums (been here over ten years). So many helped me in my worse hours of need. I try to give back. Experience helps!

    We are glad you came here: )
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  7. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    Welcome AKAnnie

    You are so not alone. Your story and mine have a number or parallels. We have had our son arrested Several times. He is now 18 and is facing adult charges. He has an opportunity to go to rehab and if he does well may have the charges dismissed.

    I could have sworn my son had MH issues and it was the DRUGS.

    You have gotten some excellent advice. So know you didn’t Cause this you can not Cure this nor can you Control this.

    I tend to agree with your husband that Jail is a good place for him. They will evaluate him and also he will have help and programs in jail. His choices his consequences. Our hearts get dragged through the ringer.

    Be kind and good to yourself and focus on rebuilding your family.
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  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi AKAnnie and welcome to our little corner of the world. I'm so glad you found us here. You will find much needed support and wisdom on these pages.

    Your story is a familiar one. Your son sounds much like my son. Read my signature.

    I know how your heart is breaking, I've been there and what I can tell you is you can get through this. It's not an easy journey dealing with an adult difficult child but you are not alone, we are here for you.

    This speaks volumes of what kind of chaos you and your family have lived through. I'm so glad that you will not participate in him being transferred back to your home state.

    This is something I am very familiar with. My son has been in jail/prison several times. He is currently serving a 2 yr sentence for assault with a deadly weapon (knife). This happened in another state. There is absolutely nothing I can do for him, just as there is nothing you can do for your son.
    Our difficult adult children make poor choices and there are real life consequences to those choices. Sure, we could intervene and try to make things better for them but that does not help them, it only makes us the parent feel like we have some control. We as parents have zero control over what our difficult adult children do. We do however have control over how we choose to respond.
    From what you have shared it sounds like you have done all you can to try and help your son. My husband and I also went through many counselors, diversion programs, group homes, etc...... I get it.
    I wish I had found this site when my son was the age your son is. I could have saved myself years of grief and guilt, not to mention then of thousands of dollars. My son is a master manipulator and was very good at getting me to feel guilty telling me that his childhood was horrible and it was my fault that his life was out of control. When we get lost in the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) we are at the mercy of their demands. You are coming out of the FOG.

    Be prepared for your son to reach out to you wanting you to put money on his account in jail. Be prepared for him to tell you they don't feed him enough, they don't give him soap to wash with, they don't give him shoes, etc....... I've heard many lies from son. All my son wanted was money to make his time in jail easier. It was a way for him to purchase things to use "money" in jail to get other things. I also will no longer accept calls from my son while he's in jail. The only way we communicate is through letters.

    As much as this hurts, it's a very healthy thing to do. I too grieved the loss of my sweet little boy. Yes, the hopes and dreams too.
    One thing that has really helped me was to see my son for who he really was, a grown man, not my sweet little boy.
    I was able to finally let go. I came out of the FOG. I used to have so much fear worrying about my son being on the streets, being homeless. I felt obligated to continue to help him. The guilt fed the fear and obligation. I learned that my son was able to manage on his own without my help. I learned that my helping was actually enabling and was doing more harm than good. I let go. I learned to accept the life he chooses to live. With acceptance came a freedom and with that freedom I was able to start taking my life back.

    None of this is easy. We are all part of a club no one wants join.

    The best thing you can do is take good care of yourself. Find little things each day that bring you joy. Make sure you are taking time just for you. It's so easy to be the caregiver for everyone else and to neglect ourselves. Even if it's only 5, 10, 15 minutes a day, take time just for you. Be good to yourself.

    ((HUGS)) to you.......................
  9. AKAnnie

    AKAnnie New Member

    Just curious... How did you find out it was drugs and not a MH issue? My husband and I have been chatting about how we should finally have a baseline for what's going on from his being clean while in jail. Is this how you found out what was happening with your son?
  10. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    Yes when he doesn’t not use all of his irradic and psychotic behaviours dissipate. He does suffer from social anxiety. But there is no underlying MH issue apparent when he is off drugs. Just manipulative drug behaviour. He derided in jail. Was like a mad man through his detox and perfectly normal afterwards.
  11. AKAnnie

    AKAnnie New Member

    Tanya...thank you for taking the time to respond. Your wisdom...and experience...it's such a blessing to our family because even though we are trying our best to detach - we sometimes get lost in the "how" of how to do it...how to maintain that detachment. Your knowledge of what to expect from our son while he's in jail (the calls/requests for money) haven't happened yet but I'm sure they're coming...and I like the idea of setting a boundary that we only communicate via letters. I feel ignorant asking this...but does the jail provide envelopes and stamps...or is that something we have to provide?

    I have never heard of FOG before this forum...but it's a perfect description. I am overwhelmed with gratitude - for this forum, for all my battle-hardened sisters and brothers willing to share hard-won comfort and wisdom to us newer members of this terrible club. I'm just so grateful... Thank you...
  12. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    Sorry does not typo
  13. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    AK Annie
    I have to tell you our sones behaviour was so irradic and off the wall that even as a nurse being told his behaviour was most likely drug related; I could have sworn he had MH issues.

    We had him going to a family therapist when his troubling behaviour began and he had full comprehensive testing done with now signs of any issues. Also our therapist reminded us that his erratic behaviour was not president before his drug use began. There are many studies that prove drug use can cause psychotic behaviours, this included pot. No diagnosis is made for MH disorders unless a person is clear of all drugs for a min period of 3 months. My son often tries to convince people that he has many ailments that no prescription drug can help him overcome. Surprise surprise only pot helps him. When I explain to him pot used medicinally for the ailments he claims to have ishigg in CBD and and has often no THC he continues to justify his need for pot. And of course pot is new the reason he can’t get out of bed, make effort to do well in school or maintain a job.

    Even many true sufferers of MH disorders and substance abuse have far fewer symptoms and issues when they are free from illegal drugs.

    I do not know about your prison systems. But ours are well equipped with medical, MH and addiction support services. Ther are also ways to access illicit drugs. It all comes down to a matter of choice.

    In my province in Canada we do not have court mandated rehab. We were very fortunate to have the courts allow for my sons release to attend a long term intensive rehab program. If he does not go or does not stay in the program he will be sentenced and go to prison. Choices are his to make.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  14. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Writing materials, stamps, envelopes, etc., have to be purchased. I am not sure if stamps are marked up or not, but other items at commissary can cost considerably more than they do at retail "on the outside". Basic necessities like prison uniform, soap, toothpaste, etc, are provided, but that's about it.
  15. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    In Ontario in Canada they are provided with 2 stamps, envelopes and sheets writing paper each week.
  16. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Oh. That's nice. In the US, in general, they are provided with a jumpsuit, socks, some sort of basic footwear/underwear, toothpaste,toothbrush, soap, and sometimes shampoo, and that's it. Anything else has to be purchased.
  17. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    It depends on the facility and state. The best thing to do is call the D.O.C of the state he is in. If you know what facility he will be in call them. You can find quite a bit of information on the internet, you can get the phone numbers you need. In fact, that's how I found out this last time that my son had been arrested. I knew the name of the town he was in and found out what county it's in. I went to the county website, went to courts, then found public access case lookup. The icing on the cake was when I Googled my son's name and the name of the town and found a video that was done by the police drone tracking him down and arresting him. Oh that was a special day. o_O

    It's better to get the information directly from the D.O.C. They will tell you what you can and cannot send. There are some prisons in the country that will not accept letters it has to be a plain white postcard.
    Many facilities offer jobs inmates can do to earn money. It's usually not a lot of money but it's something.

    You and your husband will have to decide what you are comfortable with. The first few times my son was in jail we did put money on his books, more than we should have. We were naive and believed what he was telling us.

    Something to remember, jail is not supposed to be easy or fun and it's not our sweet little ones that are there, it our grown adult difficult children.

    I'm so glad you are here with us.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  18. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry. This sounds hideous.
    I thought of two things...first off, often "bad ADHD," ends up being bipolar disorder. And untreated, it very often can lead to poor decision making, mood swings, hyper sexuality and drug or alcohol abuse.
    Something to think about because if on the right medication especially with a little stability and therapy, maybe he could do better.
    Of course, the other thing to watch out for is actual drug usage/abuse and ideally he should be tested regularly.
    Does he have the option of going to a mental health facility?
    This is where he belongs.
    Consider therapy for yourself at least short term.This is not your fault. Also, groups like Families Anonymous can be very supportive....getting local input , comraderie and ideas. Blessings.
  19. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    My son was released in his prison garb he has insisted on keeping it. I hate seeing it and the shoes are so cheap the wreak of rubber odour. I threw them out. Heck he is never home to notice they are gone anyway. We gave him zip when he was in jail and said if he went to prison to expect he same. You can’t gain any favour if you have zip in the commesary.
  20. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    My husband went to jail twice, once when he got scooped up counterprotesting a Neo-nazi march in Skokie, IL. I bailed him out and the charges (disorderly conduct) were dropped. The other time, was for resisting arrest after illegally parking a taxi. I let him sit in Milwaukee county jail over Memorial Day weekend. He was NOT happy. His clothing and possessions were taken from him, and he was issued the items I mentioned above. After he was arraigned on Tuesday afternoon, and released on his own recognizance, his clothing and possessions were returned to him, with the exception of the cash he'd been carrying: he was given a county check for the amount of that cash. His clothing was rather ripped and bloodstained, as was his face and torso, as husband had a big mouth on him in those days and got himself rather thoroughly "tuned up" by the Milwaukee arresting officers. He was contrite by the time I picked him up, and basically got a suspended 6 months sentence, which charges dropped if he stood out of trouble for a year. Getting a couple of nightsticks in the kidneys and over the head, and the Army finally taught him to keep his mouth shut. I was angry that the police had beaten him, on the one hand, but on the other hand, if he'd kept his smart mouth shut, he'd have gotten a ticket and missed a fare.