Looking for some hope

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by hopeforhealing, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. hopeforhealing

    hopeforhealing New Member

    I am so glad to have found this forum. I randomly googled 'son going to jail' and found you. I have been reading some posts for a few days and they have been very helpful, so thank you all so much. So sad that we have to have a forum like this.

    I am looking for some hope for peace for me and a turn-around for my son. He turned 19 yesterday. He has been in trouble off and on since he was 10 years old: intimidation, threats, suspension from school, fleeing from the police in a car when he didn't even have a learner's permit (subsequently hitting a tree head on and totally the vehicle), shoplifting, multiple traffic violations, wrecked another car, had an under-aged drinking party while I was out of town that was advertised on social media (multiple people he didn't even know showed up), and now - felony theft. He stole $7300 from his employer and was arrested last month. I just found out last week, meaning he hid it for a month. He bonded himself out. He was arraigned today and has a pre-indictment hearing tomorrow. I don't know what all of that means, but I am learning.

    After I found out about the arrest inadvertently, he was angry and threatening and ultimately I took out a restraining order. That further angered him. In my state I couldn't kick him out without going through the whole eviction process, but I could get a restraining order. When he left he said it was the last time I would ever see him. After the arraignment today, I don't know if he was taken to jail or if he is staying in the hotel his father has been paying for. (His father lives in another state). He has said he is going to live with his dad.

    I guess I just don't know what to think about all of this. I mean, this kid had it all. Free college education, nice home, food, car. Totally set up for success and he has pi**ed it all away. I am torn between accepting what it is and leaving him alone to figure it out for himself and wanting to help my little boy. I know he isn't still a little boy, but in my heart he still is. I also know that ultimately, in the long run, it would not help him to rescue him. Detaching is so hard. I feel like I'm abandoning him. He seems to not believe I love him unless I am helping him. I don't want him to think I don't love him. I sent him a text message to wish him happy birthday yesterday and he told me not to contact him anymore.

    Ugh! This is so hard. Such anguish. I never thought I'd find myself in this situation, but here I am. Does it get easier?

    Sorry for the rambling. Thank you for reading.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome hopeforhealing..........I'm glad you found us. Detaching from our adult children is a very difficult task. You've arrived at a place where we all know exactly how you are feeling and what you are going through. If you've read our stories then you already know that. You are not alone anymore, if you need us, we are here.

    You may want to read the article at the bottom of my post here on detachment, it is quite helpful. Your son's failure to launch is not your fault nor can you change it. Only he can do that. He is an adult. It's wise for you to have gotten that restraining order. If he wants to live with you anytime in the future, you may want to find out exactly what the eviction laws are so you can do it quickly. It's very important to know exactly what our options are.

    It is very hard and I am so sorry you find yourself in this place. The most important thing we parents of adult kids learn is that the only thing any of us can do is to learn to detach and learn to accept what is. Your son may change, he may not, but your life cannot hinge on his choices, that is what makes us crazy and robs us of peace and joy. In order for you to get your life back on track, YOU have to work on the detachment, it is a great help to us to have a therapist, a counselor, a parent group, a 12 step group, whatever feels right to you, but find someone or someplace to go where you will get heard, receive support, get tools to detach, receive compassion and empathy and learn to put the focus on yourself and take it off of your son.

    The hardest thing for us to learn is that these kids are NOT our sweet babies, they are grown men and women who usually end up hurting us, blaming us, manipulating us, harming us and holding us hostage with their antics. You don't have to put up with that, no one said we parents have to be abused, have to care for someone who is mean to us, disrespects us, or in any way harms us. His life is his. Your life is yours, there comes a time for all of us here, when parenting them comes to an end and loving ourselves becomes more important.

    He asked you to not contact him, I would abide by his wishes, allow him to go to jail or live with his Dad and begin to detach and open the doors to have your own life now. You'e been at this a long time, I'm sure you are depleted, exhausted and just plain worn out. Once you begin to let go, you will likely find you are way more tired then you think, we usually are hyper-vigilant and don't even know it. You will need time to de-stress. Take it now.

    Be kind to yourself. Do comforting, nourishing, nurturing things for yourself every day. Find support for YOU, keep posting, practice detachment and know that you are not alone..............we are here if you need us........
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there, hon, and so sorry for your hurting mommy heart. Believe it or not, the vast majority of this on the forum have gone through what you are, and we are still here and many are thriving. We can not change our adult children, but we can change ourselves and how we respond to them and how much time we spend thinking about their choices. And we certainly don't have to buy into their typical way of turning their bad behavior into being our faults. It is typical of these types of adult children to try to guilt us into continuing to help them remain children, drug addicts, thieves, disrespectful people...you name it. The name of the game to them is "It's your fault that I don't want to be responsible and socially acceptance and you are my mother so you OWE ME to support my whims and needs forever, even though I won't even try to improve myself."

    Most of our adult children had loving, doted-on childhoods in which we wanted to make sure our children did not experience hardship and we sure wanted to make sure they had all the wonderful lessons and sports activities and dance lessons and college educations and we loved them endless...and we expected, of course, that they'd grow up to appreciate these things. But a difficult child doesn't appreciate it. In fact, he feels entitled to these things and, worse, even if he is acting like a criminal, stealing from you, intimidating you, even shoving or hitting you...he still expects you to let him lay around the house all day, not care if he is high, pay for all his electronics, not "bug" him, and keeping sending him the money. You become "the bank." And sadly for many of us the adult child often does not seem to care much about us or anything except getting his needs met.

    Your son is an adult, just like mine is. When he was a newborn I did not expect to think "One day I may be afraid of him." But I am a realist and I am and he can never live with me again.I enabled his behavior for many years because I felt so sorry for him. God forbid he entertain the thought that I didn't love him, however many of our difficult children (if not most) define love as what we GIVE them, even as they are old enough to take care of themselves. That is wrong and they know darn well how much we love them. They just don't want us to set any boundaries that will cut off their free ride on both living expenses and acceptable behavior. Their reasons why they are behaving so horribly are often "When you and Dad were fighting on my sixth birthday, it screwed me up" or "you got a divorce and it made me depressed so you are to blame for MY behavior." It's insane. At eighteen, they are legally adults and choose their behavior. It is their decision how they behave. It is not our fault. And most of them reject any sort of help anyway, and often they end up having to leave our house both because they refuse to grow up and because they are not safe. Will they become homeless? Many of them choose that rather than to follow rules...our rules, homeless shelter rules, any rules. They think rules don't apply to them and all should always be forgiven because we are the parents. We don't deserve a life beyond parenting them forever.

    Except that we do. You are not your son and he is not you. Even if he chooses a miserable life (in our eyes), YOU didn't choose his life for him and you deserve to be happy, doing things you love with people who respect and appreciate your good heart and make you feel relaxed and serene. Many of us are at a point where our troubled adult kid is our entire life. That's not going to change your son and it will damage you, stress-wide, health-wise, mental health-wise.

    You can change one person...yourself. Not your son. Not in any way. HE has to change himself..so don't waste time trying because it will not work. You can only change how to react to him and he won't like it if you set boundaries so things can get almost dangerous if you draw a line in the sand...so be careful and be safe if you are ready to take your power and your life back.

    Not letting you contact him is the pouting stage. He is furious that you dared to set boundaries. How long it will last is up to him. A break from one another is often a good thing. Certainly you will start to feel more peaceful. I agree with Recovering Enabler that you should be good to yourself and learn detachment skills.

    I am again so sorry for your hurting mommy heart. It gets better when we accept that we can not change our adult children, that they are separate people from us, and when we choose to move on with our life, guilt-free, and with gusto. And it can be done and has been done by so many here. It is a learning curb and not easy, but a good start is to face the person your son really is. That is a very hard thing to do...to admit to ourselves that our adult child is not nice, or is a criminal, or is a drug addict or is all mentioned categories. But it helps to see them straight and to stop making excuses for them.

    In time, he may decide to change with intensive therapy and turn his life around. But it has to be HIS decision or it won't work.

    I wish you a peaceful and serene life in which you start to think about your own needs and what YOU want to do in life and about the people in your life who love you unconditionally.

    Big hugs of understanding.
  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Hope, glad you have found us. My son is 24.5 and your story sounds very similar to mine. My son's rapid descent began about four years ago---he muddled along before then, lazy, didn't try, etc.

    He now has felonies, has been homeless multiple times, in multiple rehabs, lies, steals from us, steals from employers, neighbors, traffic violations. He has been in jail multiple times. We used to hire lawyers and go sit in court. We don't do that anymore. Right now, he is homeless, living on the street and if he is arrested one more time, he goes to prison for four years. And Hope, there is not one thing I can do to change whatever he decides to do.

    The last four years have been a h___ for all of us who love him.

    I used to stand in front of his baby pictures and sob. I have them in frames all over the house, along with my older son's pictures. Just like I'm sure you do.

    His car is parked in an enclosed fenced area now here in my neighborhood. It was a very nice Camry that was purchased used for him---very clean and in perfect shape. He and I searched for it together---I really enjoyed doing that with him.

    You should see it now. Cigarette burns in the seats, completely trashed out, wrecked multiple times, filthy, tons of debris in it. I used to stand there and look at that car and sob. It was a metaphor for my son's life---once bright and filled with every opportunity---now completely trashed.

    Both of my sons had every opportunity---just like you say your son has had. My older son graduated from college with a degree in Math and now has a Master's in Math. He is engaged. He teaches high school math right now. He is a great young man. My younger son, my difficult child (Gift from God), had those same opportunities. He had parents who would have supported him through college so he would have no student loans like many others do. He is very smart so could have done anything he wanted to do. He is tall, handsome, has a great smile (produced with thousands of dollars of braces), sweet, a bit shy. And he is a drug addict.

    Hope, you will have to go through the process. You just will. It is natural to feel all that you are feeling right now.

    You "should" not feel one way or another. You feel what you feel and that is true. You will need to cry, rage, grieve, lie there, go numb, be frantic, be obsessed, try anything, try everything, talk to a million people to find an answer....on and on. We all did those things. We were nearly insane with it.

    Your only decision is this: Am I going to act on what I feel?

    Sometimes you will because every cell in your body is pushing you hard to DO SOMETHING. You just can't "not do it." Whatever it is.

    I've been there too. And that's okay too. You can only do the very best you can every day and you are the only person who knows what that is.

    I will tell you this. If your son is abusing substances, there is nothing in this world that you can do that will cause him to stop unless and until he is ready to stop. NOTHING. Hear me: NOTHING.

    There is no combination of words or actions you can come up with. Read Melody Beattie's book Codependent No More, page 72 where she spells out---it is great reading---all of the things we do to get them to stop.

    And the more you can stop, the closer he may be to changing. I say "may" because even though I have stopped, my son is still doing the same things he has done for the past four years. But things ARE different, because I am different, and finally, he may have a real chance because I'm not interfering with the natural consequences of his decisions any more. Finally.

    Okay, if you're still with me at this point (and you may be saying, well my situation is different. If you are, I get that. I know. I said that too. For years.)---but if you're still with me, you may be saying:

    Well, what CAN I do? I have to do SOMETHING. This is the most painful and awful thing I have ever been involved in.

    Here is what you can do, Hope. You can work on yourself. You can turn your energy on YOU.

    You can find an Al-Anon meeting in your town right now today. You can go to that meeting and sit and listen. You can purchase the literature. You can talk to one or two people after the meeting. You can share if you want to. You don't have to.

    Then you can go back again and again and again. You can read the books---there are many great Al-Anon books. I have every single one of them. I have read them over and over and I still do today. I have read David Sheff's Clean. You can read his son Nik Sheff's two books. You can ready Beattie's other books.

    Maybe you have already started doing these things. If so, you're on your way already.

    Then, over time, you can get a sponsor in AlAnon. The purpose of that is to have somebody to spill it all out to. And she will give you clear, good, honest feedback. She will walk with you in person and on the phone through your pain.

    You can come to this site and post and read. There are other sites on the Web like this. Another is adultchildaddict.com.

    Hope, as you work hard, as you grow and change, you will start feeling periods of peace, contentment, calm and serenity whether or not your precious son is still out of control or not. I promise you this. If you work hard, you will get results.

    It won't be easy and it won't come quickly. We are mommies in our DNA and the hardest relationship in this situation is mother/son, so I've been told. A mother will still be standing for her son when everybody else is way past done. I know I was. He is my baby. Except he's not.

    You can also be kind to yourself, doing nice things for YOU like bubble baths, exercise, meditation, yoga, prayer, church---whatever works for you and whatever you like to do that makes you feel taken care of.

    You can write to other people like I am doing right now for you. This helps me because it affirms what I have learned. Hope, I have learned this inch by inch over the years. Today, I focus most of my energy on myself. I am always available to my son IF he truly wants to change. I have not cut off all contact, but i have severely limited the contact. I have had to.

    Hope, I feel deeply for you. I hope your son isn't an addict or alcoholic and can get faster help that helps him turn his life around faster.

    But Hope, he is an adult and it truly is up to him. Only he can live his life.

    But if not, you need to have a plan for YOU. Hang in there Hope. We get it here. We have been there and done that and we are still surviving. In fact, most days I am a very happy person. I love my son very much and I pray for a miracle. And while I am still hoping and praying for that, I am going to live my own life that I am very grateful for.
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