Minimize, Deny, and Blame . . . Help Me Process This

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Stress Bunny, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    Some of you may recall that JT text messaged me a number of weeks ago in the middle of the night that he was drunk. He is 20 years old, has had a number of underage drinking-related charges over the past two years, including an arrest and jailing for distributing alcohol to minors. He also smokes, loves his bad-boy, bad-attitude image, and along with being narcissistic, shows very little concern for others/low conscience. I don't know if he is abusing drugs, other than alcohol, but I know he has had multiple prescriptions for pain-killers over the past two years. He is promiscuous and has had at least a half dozen girlfriends in as many months. They drop him in amazingly short time.

    JT has been employed full-time in a very good factory job for over six months and lives on his own, though he is extremely irresponsible with his financial obligations. We have not provided him with any financial support over the past four months. I have posted before about my concerns that he has a personality disorder (anti-social/sociopathic/psychopathic). He also LIES regularly. He lies so much, I think he actually believes what he says. All of these things have made it SO hard to have a decent relationship with him. It is easier to detach, however.

    So, here is a recent text-message exchange with JT:

    JT: I'll be fishing all weekend. If u bring Bubby (our younger son) up with a life jacket I'll take him out with me. I got a new boat and kind of an amazing spot for catfish that he'd love. If it makes you more comfortable, u or dad could come with or grandpa.

    Me: We're not available this weekend. As far as fishing, we could arrange a time in the future for Bubby to fish on shore with you and one or both of your dad and me present.

    JT: OK

    Later . . .

    JT: I'm thinking about grilling at grandma and grandpa's this weekend for them. I don't know if u guys are unavailable for that as well.

    Me: We do have some plans this weekend, although your dad isn't feeling well. We love you and want a good relationship but deserve to be treated with dignity, honesty, and respect. Pretending nothing is wrong isn't helpful. We need you to acknowledge certain issues and work on repairing the relationship. Again, we love you.

    JT: What are the certain issues?

    Me: Example: Texting your mom in the middle of the night that you are drunk.

    JT: It wasn't even me. We were eating at (XYZ Pub & Grill) and (ABC Girlfriend) took my phone.

    Me: All I know is I got a text message in the middle of the night from your phone that said "I'm drunk". Are you denying that you drink?

    JT: No, I'm denying that I sent that message.

    Me: It is not okay with me to receive those sorts of disrespectful text messages.

    JT: I agree.

    Me: That gets in the way of me wanting to be around you. I also don't want to be around a substance abuser. We accept that you can make your own choices but we don't have to associate with it.

    JT: I don't abuse anything. Having a beer is not abusing alcohol. As far as all the other things u think I do, ur wrong. I haven't even taken my pill for like a month.

    Me: The lifestyle choices you've made the past two years have been detrimental to our relationship: drinking, smoking, porn, failure to meet financial obligations, and sleeping with different women, to name a few. We accept you can make these choices, but we don't care to spend time with you while you're living this way. We're not comfortable with it.

    JT: OK

    Me: Is it really?

    JT: What else am I supposed to say to that?

    Me: We're always here when you want to make some positive changes in your life.

    JT: Thanks

    Later . . .

    JT: Sends image of what appears to be a burn on his arm asking if he should go in to Fast Care because he thinks it's infected.

    Me: (No response)

    Maybe this seems like I'm overreacting, but I am stuck on the lies.

    So, JT denied sending me the text message in the middle of the night that he was drunk, claiming his female friend sent it when they were eating at a local pub & grill. Beyond the fact that it makes no sense that someone else would send such a message if he weren't drunk, to his mom, no less, I learned that this pub & grill closes at 9 p.m. I received the text message at midnight on a Saturday night. I am SO sick and tired of the constant LIES. Side note: JT has a history of sending cocky text messages in the middle of the night to both his dad and me. We suspect that he has been drinking on these occasions as well.

    Plus . . . he admits to drinking, which is illegal at his age and has caused him trouble with the law for the past two years, stating that it's no big deal he has a beer now and then.

    As for the pain pills, I have stopped asking about them. I used to worry so much about him taking prescription painkillers. JT is very accident prone, and he has had numerous injuries for which he has received pain pills over the past couple of years. The more I warned him not to take them more than needed or mix them with any other medications, etc., the more he would share with me that he was taking so many of them. It was as if he enjoyed exercising his independence and scaring me in the process.

    Bottom line: After I attempted to set boundaries and detach in the text message exchange, stating we deserved to be treated with honesty, JT lies to me again (as if he didn't send the "I'm drunk" text message from his own phone)! If I were to confront him about this, he would lie some more, and the new lies would contradict the old ones, but in his world, that is irrelevant. Anything he says in any given moment is the absolute truth simply because he is JT, and JT said it.

    It doesn't phase him that he is causing us and the rest of his family pain and grief. He minimizes the awful things he does and says. He denies the truth when confronted, and he blames others for his actions. He has no moral or ethical values.

    JT will continue to deny his substance abuse, attitude, and behavior problems. He makes zero effort to change anything, because he doesn't acknowledge it exists. He makes it seem as though we're the ones who are crazy making because he isn't drinking too much, abusing pills, or responsible for the text messages that come from his phone, apparently. He just wants to spend time with his brother. Actually, I think he really wanted to show off his boat.

    This is the same person who denied the beer cans in his pick-up truck bed were his and the same person who denied the cigarette butts in his jeans pockets were his.

    WHERE do we go from here? What if JT is not an addict, but just getting drunk now and then? Should we cut off contact as much as possible? Do we continue to try to have periodic conversations for the sake of hope for the future? We have tried so hard and provided JT with many, many opportunities to succeed in life. He has no appreciation and no gratitude at all, and he feels absolutely no sense of obligation to others. I just can't reconcile JT's lifestyle and behaviors with my own moral compass. I don't feel very hopeful. The more I read, the more I realize that JT's remarkably constant personality and behavioral traits are symptoms of a disorder that is resistant to treatment. The substance abuse is only a symptom of the underlying problem.
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I would be extremely leery. All this sudden contact is making me suspicious that he's about to ask you for something big, like to pay for his rent on a house or sign for a car or just letting him come back home.

    I would minimize contact with him and if he asks you a silly question that he can figure out himself, like should he go to immediate care, just text, "I trust you to make your own good decision about that" and then go silent.

    Whether or not he's an addict, he is living a horrible lifestyle and making questionable choices. I'd keep it distant and cool. Remember that he is capable of being charming before he moves in for the kill. Please watch out.
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    My 17 year old son admits to smoking weed. He lies so much that nothing he says can be taken at face value. He has no morals and does not respect the rights of others. He is currently in juvenile prison and doing poorly as far as making any progress in the programs he must take part in. Nothing is his fault.

    I see no point in talking to him about his behavior. It has all been said before and things continued to go down hill. I informed him that I was not going to put money on his books for phone calls. He gets 80 min. a month from the state and that is more than sufficient. His phone calls belly aching about how horrible his life is stress me out.

    We can't dictate how others live their lives, but we are not obligated to participate in their lives. You have told him numerous times what you do not like about his life style. Nothing has changed and you are the only one feeling bad about your relationship with him. you can't change him, but you can make your life better.
  4. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    MWM, great thoughts. I texted him about trusting him to make his own good decision about the burn on his arm. That's another strange thing about JT. He seems to need a lot of attention for that type of thing. Sometimes he shows me the tiniest supposed cuts, so tiny I can barely see, and complains about them profusely. He enjoys any sort of drama, most often self-created.

    JT has already tried to ask us to cosign on a car loan. He actually tried to convince us that co-signing could not leave us on the hook for anything financially; that it was just a signature. We explained over and over to him what co-signing means, and that we would be responsible to pay if he did not. I'm sure he knew exactly what it mean (he's quite bright), but was trying to pull one over on us.

    We have definitely communicated that we will not be assisting him financially in any way any more. We have helped him considerably financially over the past two years, and we're done. Nor may he come back home ever again. He refused to live by simple rules such as leaving cigarettes, lighters, and knives out of the house, no porn, and getting out of bed to attend either work or school, cleaning up after himself, and treating everyone respectfully, etc.

    You bring up a great point about the sudden contact when he's been pretty distant (although I would say it is a mutual distance) lately. I think it is highly likely that he will have some sort of financial crisis pretty soon. Although he makes very good money, he is renting alone, so he has all of the expenses to cover himself, plus we know he is not paying all of his bills. He's been on his own financially for approximately five months, which is beginning to be enough time for him to accumulate additional delinquent bills.

    Since he is currently between girlfriends (no longer with the not-pregnant girlfriend whom he claimed was pregnant about 6 weeks ago, and also no longer with the two girlfriends (one of whom he was engaged to for two weeks after learning the other girlfriend wasn't pregnant after all) since then), he probably has no one left to mooch from. One of the first things he likes to do with new girlfriends is get on their cell phone plans. So, right now, he is on his former fiancee's plan. He has burned bridges in the past by failing to keep up with his promised payments.

    Yes, you're probably right. He is probably just about to ask for money or something else. It is SO hard to realize that there is nothing genuine about his behavior. Everything is a manipulation to get what he wants. He tries to exploit my little hope that maybe things could be wonderful. He knows I want that, so he uses it against me. Of course I would love for all of us to go fishing. I would give anything to be able to trust JT. husband says that's why JT only text messages me and not him; because JT knows my mothers heart is aching, while husband is more easily detached. I've just been burned so many times. He's like a chameleon, shifting colors to suit the background in which he finds himself; shifting morals to suit his wants.

    I will keep my antennae up and alert to looming potential requests for something from us. Sigh . . .
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    It's all my dang reading about antisocial personality disorder...lolol. I thought maybe 36 has it so I did some intensive educating myself o n it and one of the traits is that they don't really have empathy, a conscience or the ability to care about anyone, but they love to put one over on people. They use people for games, to manipulate and know how to be superficially charming by copying other people. But it's not real. Usually when they cozy up to us it is to benefit them.

    I'm not saying JT is antisocial, but like most of the difficult children here, he has traits. Many antisocials also substance abuse so it's not uncommon to see that combination. That's why I told you I sense he is going to ask for a huge favor sometime soon. All of a sudden after being a jerk for how long??? he is making friendly offers. I find it suspicious and from my own experience scary.

    I don't think 36 is antisocial after all I've read. He may be though and just be good at acting like he has a heart at times. That's their ace...pretending for their own benefit. At any rate, he sure doesn't come around unless he is needy, then I can't get him to leave me alone and he needs me to help him solve EVERY little problem, which I refuse to do. But just to be asked such silly questions from somebody his age makes me limit contact.

    I feel for you. Keep your radar up :)
  6. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Hmmm...maybe... *MAYBE* ... he actually just wants to spend time with his family and have them be proud of him for his new boat, etc. I would definitely have my radar on high alert though.

    With what little knowledge I have of the situation, I would say my best case scenario for a conversation like this with my son would be maintaining safe boundaries for myself and the rest of the family, then not engaging in much argument and not telling him again what he already knows.

    I am pretty sure that sometimes I sound to my son like the teacher sounded in the old Charlie Brown cartoons, or that old Gary Larsen "Far Side" cartoon that shows a man talking to his dog about getting into the garbage. The first panel is titled, "What We Say" and shows the man saying, "Ginger, you're a BAD DOG. I told you NO garbage. NO GARBAGE. Shame on you." The second panel is titled "What They Hear" and shows the man saying, "Ginger, blah, blah BLAH. Blah BLAH blah. Blah blah BLAH."

    So in my perfect conversational scenario in my situation, it would go something like this:

    Me: Wow, congrats on the new boat! Sounds like fun, but we do not feel it is safe for Bubby to go out when we know you are still drinking. Maybe another time.

    Me: Sounds like a good time. We do have some plans for this weekend.

    Me: It looks to me like you should probably have it looked at (or) What do you think? (0r) Have you put some XXX on it, etc.

    Beyond that, let him figure it out.
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  7. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    I agree with albatross.

    Not to say that this is all innocent and that difficult child isn't going to rear his ugly head but until then it can be enjoyed. Do you want to miss all the good things because he once was bad? Do you goals or guidelines he must meet before he is acceptable again?

    He seems to be more than willing to bend in order to have contact. He also seems to be initiating that contact and not asking for unreasonable accommodations.

    Here's the deal. Your difficult child is 20. He will most likely drink on occasion. Which is illegal but not at all unusual. He will have some dumb girl or guy he hangs out with who will text something stupid using his phone to start drama. Or he may have done it. I know my difficult child's friends do. He will most likely be in and out of relationships on a regular basis until he decides to settle down. That's normal. His financial instabilities at age 20 are actually normal.

    My point is that since he is a difficult child he may exacerbate all those things by having difficult child friends and making difficult child decisions. But there is no way to know for sure that HE is changing. The cops don't arrest you for doing better. You don't get a gold ribbon for not getting in trouble.

    What you can do is take the positive and leave the bad. Take these positive type requests and show him that when he is good he gets the love he wants. If he is bad he doesn't.

    I am in that place with my difficult child right now. She isn't doing bad things but she is still a difficult child and I have to learn to navigate that. I take the good and don't engage with the bad. I negotiate better terms. One thing I am not doing is jumping in head first. It is going to be a while before that happens but I am teaching her that her good actions get her good results where bad ones get her ignored.

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  8. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Ok here is my take... and my difficult child is very very similar to JT. I think it is important to remember you didnt cause it, you cant cure it and you cant control it! This is so very very true. It sounds like from your interchange that you still are hoping to cure and control his substance abuse. You can't. No matter how much you want to and how hard you try you can't. It really is his decision of whether or not he uses substances. You cant control his lifestyle either... if he wants to be promiscuious, at the age of 20 that really is his business.

    You can set limits and boundaries on what you will and will not do for him. You can set limits and walk away if he treats you badly. You can choose not to let him live with you. You can choose to not give him financial support.

    But do you really want to send the message that you wont have a relationship with him at all if he is using substances? Maybe you do... and that is your choice. However if you are trying to make him choose between you and using substances you will lose. For an addict their most important relationship is with the substance and while they are using you cant compete with that.

    For me with my son, who is very similar to yours, I want to keep the doors to a relationship open. I have several reasons for this... one is for me because I love him and at times still have hope (and at times I dont). The other major reason is that I think for most addicts in recovery one of the things that can make a huge difference in their success is support from family and friends....and so I want to keep that door open for when my son is really ready to take the leap and work hard towards recovery.

    My son is currently in jail and one of the past times he was in jail I realized that the only thing that may keep him from becoming a hardened criminal is the love of his mother... now it may not keep him from that but it may.

    It seems to me from your interchange that JT may be setting you up for a big manipulation, that is totally believable.... but he may also be trying to keep a thread of a relationship because in some part of him that may be important to him. You really dont know either way.

    My son was recently in a treatment program for 6 months... he has been in many (out of state) and this was the longest he lasted and I think part of the reason was he was in the same state as us and we visited him every week.

    So I think it is important to keep the door to a future relationship open, unless doing so is harmful to you because I do think you definitely have to take care of yourself first.

    For me part of detachment has been letting go of control and letting go of the outcome.... it is what it is, what is going to happen is going to happen but I will love him in the process.


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  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    SB, Hi, and I know it's so frustrating to deal with our difficult children and never hear from them what we so want to hear. is what I hear and see in your interchange. He wants to be with family. He's asking to meet with you guys to fish or grill out.

    You have a choice here, SB---you can go and meet with him for a short time or not. Of course, don't let your younger son go alone---you would need to be there.

    The question of whether or not you go comes down to this: Do you want to go, and what will it cost you, emotionally? Perhaps you can go and stay just for a few minutes---30 minutes or 45 minutes. Or shorter if things aren't going well. Or not.

    You may remember that last time difficult child was homeless, I was seeing him for 10 minutes a week, and we were sitting in my car talking for those 10 minutes. It was actually pleasant.

    One thing I would try not to do is continue to point out what he needs to do and how he needs to change. He knows that already. He knows what you think and what you want from him. Believe me, he has not forgotten.

    But----He is doing what he is going to do, for now. Your pointing it out isn't going to change anything.

    And in the back and forth texting, you quickly got sidetracked from the larger issue of his lifestyle and choices, to the text message sent that night. The circular argument started, and there is never a good resolution with the circular argument.

    SB, instead, I would use "I" statements, and set boundaries, like you did.

    "Sorry, we're already busy that day. Thanks for the invite."

    "Your new boat sounds neat. (I know, I know, how in the world can he afford any kind of boat?)"

    "Maybe we can get together and go fishing another time. Tomorrow won't work."


    "Thanks for calling."

    "That sounds interesting."

    Then, if HE wants to push on WHY you can't ever meet with him or what is wrong or why can't I move in again---THEN you can tell him why. You can tell him again.

    Until then, I'd try to keep it simple, keep it encouraging, keep it light, keep it cordial. Just like you would with anybody.

    SB---here is what I see: He's working, he's not living in your house, and you're not giving him any money. He isn't in jail, and he's held down a job for six months. He has a place to live today.

    On some level he is functioning. It's not the way you and I want him to function, but he is functioning.

    This may be how it is for now. Or for a long, long time. Can you accept it? And what does acceptance look like?

    A phone call a week, a text exchange a week, sitting in the car for 10 minutes once a week, going fishing one afternoon?

    That is completely up to you and I would make that all about what I want, not what I think he needs.

    Warm hugs. I know this is very very hard. We are here for you. Take what you like above, and please, leave the rest.
  10. Woriedmom

    Woriedmom Member

    SB. Your son sounds just like mine regarding his personality and I know I'm new to this forum and probably have no right to say what I'm say when I have.trouble talking to my own difficult child but.sounds to me it.could mdmom says that he is in need of money perhaps a payment on his new boat? I can relate to you on the.level of not.wanting him to come by as if everything is fine when it is not. Does he even feel he.should apologize for not showing respect or.maybe I'm wrong but my son doesn't think he has a.problem and I'm.realizing how.much.he.lies too,like telling me.he.wasn't high when the police gave.him a DUi. I wouldn't know how to act with the situation being such. A mess right. Now. You sound exactly like my husband with 'he.rules under our roof but.there is a huge difference and that is love. Your son knows that you love husband I strongly feel has none for my son. My son feels this way...and does play the guilt trip on me. I would just keep reassuring your son how much you love him .you can always see him at later times.but.I think the whole grilling outside landslides on a boat much.right now. I'm just thinking about my situation.. of course you know your son best.
  11. Woriedmom

    Woriedmom Member

    Oops I meant rides on. The.boat lol
  12. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    The varied responses here reflect my inner world of confusion and mixed emotions in sorting this all out.

    I waffle between complete hurt, disappointment, and anger to the hopefulness that just maybe difficult child will grow up and mature out of this at some point. Navigating contact with him is unbelievably challenging emotionally.

    Lately, I am detesting all of the lies. I hate being lied to, and I know for a fact JT lied about being at the particular pub and grill where he adamantly insisted someone else texted me he was drunk. This is because the text came through at midnight, and the pub closed at 9 p.m. So, obviously, JT is lying about that. He lies constantly, and I can't stand it.

    I appreciate what many of you shared about keeping some sort of contact with JT. I feel SO conflicted.

    I think I am dealing with much more than an addicted adult son. I think I am dealing with layers upon layers of issues. We have the early neglect JT experienced from birth to two in his bio family's home. His bio family has a history of alcohol and drug abuse (and who knows about JT's prenatal exposure), as well as legal problems and domestic violence. There is the adoption and attachment stuff. On top of that, JT has severe ADHD and has always been extremely stubborn, oppositional, and difficult to parent. Then, there is the substance abuse, and also his abnormal, very challenging personality. Who he is does not represent, in the least, anything we have raised him to be. I don't recognize anything in him that honors or respects our role in his life at all, period.

    This isn't a situation where the alcohol abuse is responsible for all of his negative behaviors and traits. On the contrary, I think his alcohol abuse is a symptom of an underlying personality disorder. JT's personality and behavioral traits have been remarkably constant throughout his entire life. The outrageous grandiosity and narcissism, as well as the lack of empathy and emotional attachment, for example, are not new. Even at kindergarten age, JT truly believed he was smarter and more knowledgeable than all of the adults in his life. Most people responded by trying to put him in his place and bring him back to earth, but it never worked.

    I remember looking out the window into our back yard as then 5yo JT played with his brand new toys, including lots of trucks and cars. I was shocked that he was smashing them to bits with a huge rock, enjoying every minute. He eventually ruined every toy he ever owned on purpose. Things were either disassembled, never to be reassembled, or demolished. Someone gave us an outdoor playhouse, and instead of playing in it, JT ripped off all of the shingles. I didn't understand then why he ruined things and never seemed to regret it, but I know now that JT did these things to stimulate himself. I believe he was chronically under-aroused, and destroying things, especially things he wasn't supposed to, was quite thrilling to him; much more thrilling than playing with toys as intended/expected. Getting an adult reaction was also quite thrilling to him.

    Even now, JT remains chronically under-aroused and sensation seeking. As an adult, he copes with this by having sex "with everyone he meets", as his friend put it, using alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, taking risks, behaving badly, and enjoying the negative drama he brings to our family. Also important is the fact that he doesn't modify his behavior in the face of negative consequences. It seems as though there is no learning and no growing going on.

    Honestly, it is hard to tolerate him for more than 15 minutes at a time. Other friends and family feel the same. People tire of his incredibly cocky, arrogant attitude, as well as his knack for using people to get what he wants.

    Finally, he has no respect for the wishes of others. For example, if we were hypothetically to bring Bubby to fish with him and see his new boat, and I requested that JT remove any beer cans or cigarettes and lighters from his boat and gear for Bubby's sake especially, I highly doubt he would do so. In his world, he is entitled to do as he pleases, and he seems completely incapable of grasping that others may hold valid opinions and values that differ from his own.

    So, while some parents of adult addicts may have genuine reason to hope for a positive relationship in substance abuse recovery with their children, I wonder what my chances are for that. It seems like the odds are against it. I don't know how to be with JT. Whenever I see him, I just end up feeling SO bad. It's like an emotional slap in the face every time. Why do I feel so obligated and guilt-ridden while he carries on boisterously? Why do I suffer the sleepless nights and sick feeling in my stomach while he drinks and smokes and parties? Why?

    Does JT want a true, healthy relationship with us? I don't know. I really don't. Manipulation is certainly not out of the question, as he has manipulated in the recent past this way. For example, JT brown-nosed his grandparents by asking to go to church with them (after months of not attending), only to then expect his grandmother to wash all of his dirty clothes while he worked on projects in their garage after church. He has manipulated many of his girlfriends as well, and they caught on fast, in every case.

    My eyes are wide open, and I have no illusions.

    My feelings are ambiguous. I am a deeply caring, sensitive person, and that part of who I am wants to rise above and continue to love this person who does not love me back. The only positive things I can say I enjoy about JT's personality are his intelligence and his sense of humor. Beyond that, I can't stand his attitude or his behaviors. I don't know how to really visit with him or what detaching with love really looks like. I am in pieces over this.
  13. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    SB---think on these things.

    1. There is absolutely no way to know about any co-occurring disorder until the addiction is treated. I have heard many people say, time and again, that all of the negative behavior disappears when the person is in recovery, truly in recovery.

    So, there is no point wasting your time and energy trying to figure that out. If he ever does go to rehab, this would be the time to bring this up, your questions about a co-occurring disorder.

    Believe me. Believe me, SB, I have lain awake for hours and hours trying to understand and figure the very same thing out. Maybe difficult child is really mentally ill and THAT's why he uses. Blah Blah Blah.

    To what end? All of my brilliant "figuring out" didn't do one thing to change anything. I kept thinking, if only, if only I could get him to the RIGHT kind of help....blah blah blah.

    Again, me, trying to manage HIM.

    It doesn't matter, SB. It really doesn't.


    2. Drug addicts lie. That is what they do. It is part of the disease. I also am sickened at the lies. I can't tolerate the idea that he thinks I'm so stupid that I believe the bs. But SB, that's just it.

    He doesn't think. He is in the grip of a terrible disease, and one of the characteristics of that disease is lying. And manipulation. And grandiosity. And immature thinking.

    It's the disease, SB. It's not him, It's the disease.

    So...again...what is the point? What is the point of wasting your precious energy and your precious talent and your precious time stewing over something you can't. do. one. thing. about?

    If only we could understand....I know, I know. been there done that. Waste of time. Waste of time, SB.

    3. It's not about you. His disease is not aimed at you or about you. It's about him. You are just caught in the crossfire because you love him and you are trying to have a relationship with him. That is why some people take a break from their difficult children. That is why Echo stopped seeing difficult child for a time. Sometimes their disease is just too much for us. It's too painful. It's too hard.

    The answer to that is limits. Limits of your time communicating with him and seeing him. Keep it small. See what you can tolerate, if anything. Test out some boundaries. Write them down, and test them. Then change them---see what works for YOU. That is about you, SB.


    I say this compassionately and warmly and from having been right where you are, and sometimes, I can go back there again, but thankfully, only for a brief time.

    You are in a phase of this journey, SB. Keep on truckin' (phrase borrowed from the 70s, lol). Keep moving forward. Keep working on you. Writing down your thoughts like you did above---that is healing, that is therapeutic. Get it all out there, no matter how it sounds. It helps.

    Now, today, fill your mind with new thinking. Fill your time with new ways of living. Scrub the kitchen floor on your hands and knees if you have to. Read Beverly Conyers book ---- just finished it. It's one mom's journey and living with what we are all living with, and how to move forward.
  14. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    It is difficult and painful to have a relationship with someone who challenges every belief we have. My conversations with my son are much different now that we don't talk everyday. I talk about the fur babies and my progress at the gym. He gives me workout tips and advice on how to train my naughty Gizmo. The conversations are light. If he starts to whine, it is time to hang up.
  15. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    SB.... I also believe my son has some major underlying issues that complicate the substance abuse issues... or the substance abuse complicates the underlying issues. I do think my son has some kind of personality disorder and I have come to realize that probably wont change, at least not any time soon. He also lies lies lies so I cant really believe anything he says. That breaks my heart because honesty in a relationship is very important to me.... I would not have a relationship with anyone else who likes to me like my son does. So now I take what he says with a grain of salt. I know better than to believe him.

    So take care of yourself... and follow your heart. If you want contact with your son, then have contact. If you need a break from him then take a break. You dont have to see him to keep the door open, just take care not to slam it shut.

    Dont discuss or debate or argue with him about his substance use. It will do no good, make no difference and just get in the way of your relationshp. You know he has a substance abuse problem... he is in denial and at some point he may get out of denial but it wont be because of anything you say. My son finally recently admitted (after I asked) that yes he has a substance abuse problem.... but I that didnt come from anything I said.

    I think if your son keeps up doing the things he is doing he will end up in jail at some point. And to be honest that might be good for him. I know that sounds awful but really jail is a very humbling experience. It is the one thing that seems to make an impact on my son because he really hates hates hates being in jail.... and usually after he is in jail he does well for awhile when they get into him into a program. The problem is after a while he seems to forget the consequence of jail.


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  16. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My daughter, too, has underlying mental health issues. We have heard many, many different diagnoses over the years but I believe she has borderline personality disorder.

    The thing is, both my counselor and her counselor have said that the borderline alone is not enough to keep her from being an functional adult albeit with some issues. It is the addiction piece that is keeping her from being able to live a functional, independent, adult life.

    My difficult child readily acknowledges that she is an addict but just doesn't seem to want to do the work it would take to get clean and sober. It is much easier for her to blame the mental illness component and want people to take care of her while she does whatever she wants to do.

    So for my mental health, I have chosen to set strict boundaries where I can't be manipulated or lied to which means I have very little contact with her. It has taken me years to get here, though, and I still love her very much.

    I have told her that when she is a clean and sober independent adult, I would love to reestablish closer ties but I have to see it in action . . . not words. Her words don't mean anything to me anymore.

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  17. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    COM, I worry that this isn't just the substance abuse since the behaviors and attitudes have been present from the beginning. In fact, JT's defiant childhood behavior was so bad that we felt his teens were actually better years overall. Yet, you're 100% correct that all my figuring makes zero difference anyway. I guess I am trying to know the future, i.e. What is going to happen? How is this going to turn out? If I could know this, then I could do the right thing now.

    I am learning the difference between a rule ("you" statements) and a boundary ("I" statements), and this is helpful to me in defining what is and what is not okay for ME to endure and expose myself to. In terms of a visit, let's say a short fishing activity, I could set a boundary that I am not willing to have Bubby exposed to reminders of JT's drinking, smoking, and negative lifestyle habits etc., including beer cans/bottles, cigarettes, lighters, guns, and large knives. If these items are strewn about, we will not be staying, as I am not comfortable with Bubby seeing all that stuff. In terms of conversation, I can choose not to engage in any circular arguments or bragging/boasting, or negative put-downs, etc. Instead of telling JT that he cannot talk to me that way (rule), I would say that I am not willing to spend time in the presence of someone who berates me in any way, and then I would leave (boundary). I do feel empowered (for once) by this, so a BRIEF visit may be possible under the right circumstances.

    Yes it is! I am struggling with this the most. Were JT not my son I would want nothing to do with him. Everything he says and does conflicts with my values it seems. And I feel guilty for feeling this way. It seems so unnatural for a parent to feel this way, and also so unnatural for an adult child to behave this way.

    I actually hope he does end up in jail. We regret having bailed him out the last time he was arrested. No more bail-outs, only natural consequences for the choices. I often wonder if his extreme arrogance would tone down a notch if he were jailed again and not spared the consequences. Last time, when we bailed him out, instead of feeling remorseful or having a wake-up call, he simply said, "I could have beat that rap!" Wow, I am so impressed!

    I am glad to hear you still feel love for your daughter. I am blinded by my anger and hurt right now. Maybe detaching will actually give me the respite I need so I can get to the place where you are. I need a break from the drama and verbal taunts and arguments. It is SO draining and SO pointless too. Parents are supposed to be a huge influence in their children's lives, and I honestly feel as though I have had (and continue to have) no influence whatsoever on JT's life. In fact, he lives in complete opposition to anything I have ever valued. It's hard to see any good in him at all. And this is what despairs me most. So, guess I am not so detached after all, because I still feel that so deeply. Paradoxically, if I can just step off the ledge and let go of the outcome, my feet will touch the ground, and hopefully, I can love from a distance.
  18. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I have found that when I am angry it is easier to detach so the fact that you are angry right now is a good thing! I understand the feelings about him not following any of your values.... I feel that way too, although I no longer feel guilty for feeling that way. He is who is and now he is an adult, his life is up to him.

    As far as jail that I think is a huge wake up call. I think they think jail is not so bad, I can do it, no big deal, until they spend time there. I know my difficult child recently told us quite clearly the rules in jail, meaning the rules of the inmates. Lol. He has figured out how to survive there but man he is following those rules!! Too bad he has such trouble on the outside but hopefully he will learn. He keeps telling us they are all criminals.... ha ha of course they are that is why they are there!!

    So jail is no picnic, it is survivable but it is not a good experience and definitely puts them in their place.


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  19. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Stress I didn't read all the replies because I am rushed right now but your son sounds so much like my daughter. When she was growing up I was convinced she had a personalit disorder. She didn't seem attached to us at all, or any of her possessions. She went out of her way to do mean things to us, even pouring liquid soap all over the bathroom floor and calling me in that she needed me and when I came running I fell on the ceramic tile. I cried and cried and was really hurt and she just sat int he tub with a smirk on her face. She would attach herself to other adults as if she was saying she cared about them more than us.

    My difficult child was drinking and smoking pot all through high school even though she got in trouble numerous times with the court, even spent a weekend in juvenile detention. She got kicked out of college in her second month and was arrested for shoplifting. After the rehab, sober houses, homelessness, living on her own, losing jobs, saying she hated us and wanted to find her birthmother, and telling us numerous times she was not an addict but just liked to drink like all young people, she is now working at a job full time, lives with her boyfriend and cares for his 5 year old daughter in a very loving and responsible way. I am amazed at how responsible she has become. She now tells me she doesn't consider herself ever being an addict but admits she drank very irresponsibly and realizes pot only got her tin trouble.

    The best thing is that she now wants to have a relationship with us and her sister. I never turn down an opportunity to see her as long as she is being respectful. In the past I did not like or agree with her values or life style. She worked for a short time in a strip club (thankfully said she hated it), picked up guys in bars and took them to her apartment, posted awful pictures on facebook of her drunk or high. But as long as she was not drunk or high and was dressed appropriately I was happy to see her. It was very important for me to maintain a relationship with her in hopes that when she did straighten out we had that connection.

    I certainly understand putting up boundaries and would never suggest doing anything against your values but I had to learn that my daughter's values and mine were very different and I had to learn how to accept her on different terms and not judge. Of course that meant that she had to be responsible and take care of herself.

    You have to do what you feel comfortable with, I have just found that closing my eyes to some things helped a lot. Once he turns 21 the drinking is legal. If he is not an alcoholic let's hope he learns how to drink responsibly.
  20. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    That's good to know. I suspect that despite JT's overconfident image, he would hate being in jail for any length of time. If it does happen again, he may be more likely to learn from his mistakes.

    Your story about your adopted daughter is amazing. The childhood behavior you described conveys the unbelievably challenging attachment issues so many adoptive children exhibit. Her turnaround is remarkable, and as an adoptive mom, I will keep it close to my heart because it does give me hope.

    Not judging, now that is a challenge. I think I'm judging JT like crazy. I am so disappointed in him! He has wasted so many opportunities, not to mention his abilities. I think he is too young to realize that these opportunities he throws away may never present themselves again. I also feel upset that he disrespects us every chance he gets.

    My husband is completely fed up with JT and wants nothing at all to do with him unless and until he straightens out his life. husband finds JT to be the biggest jerk ever, and I can't argue with that because he is a jerk. Who wants to be around a jerk? I feel guilty for these thoughts about our own son. But after all of these years of going through this, trying so hard to be the parents he needed, we are depleted, beaten down, and weary. We have neglected caring for ourselves and our own needs.

    Right now, I think I need a break from JT and his world. Maybe in a month or two I will feel up to setting up a short in-person visit somewhere. I have not really wanted to see him at all because every time I do, it takes me a long while to recover. He is really antagonistic and unlikeable, especially if he doesn't get what he wants. The comments here have led me to reconsider, but with mindfulness about boundaries. I think I can do that. I know my husband is not ready at this time, but he won't object to my wanting to see JT. We also need to be very careful about protecting Bubby, our younger boy, whom is doing pretty well overall with his Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).