Mom needs help with detaching from son

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by luane, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. luane

    luane New Member

    Hi, I've been reading your helpful posts all morning and would like to ask a specific question re how much help to give , if any, to my son at this point. I will try to be brief. He's 26, been through rehab several times for pot. He drinks and it causes him to be mean, he's had mental health issues from the pot. He lived outside our home for 1 1/2 years living with creepy drug people, paying cheap rent, barely eating. He has been working for 4 years, but the income is not enough to pay for a decent place here. He bought a car after his broke down and is making huge payments on it (which he has only been able to afford because his aunt and my husband and i have given him free rent the past year). With the car payment and the low amount of money he makes, he really can't afford to live on his own. His aunt took him in for minimal rent for several months and ended up kicking him out because of his bad attitude and general messiness (he was not allowed to drink, etc there). My husband and I (stupidly- it now shows) took him in for the past 6 months. We required him to go to school and not do drugs or drink. His attitude changed from being grateful and kind to being cranky and not helpful, to being mean. He did pass a college class in summer school. I ended up calling the police to get him to leave 2 days ago, because he wouldn't leave on his own when requested, after (possible from drinking) he starting saying cruel things to me. We've had to call the police many times in the past to get him to leave. So now he's gone and sleeping in his car in the 98 degree weather here. He applied , was accepted and is waiting for a grant for community college. He has showed up several times at our house in the past couple days and I have told him we will get a restraining order. Because of the fact that he might have this chance to go to school, and the fact that he actually passed a class - i feel like helping him by paying a couple of hundred per month toward his rent in a sober living home. I want to make it a condition that he 1. live in a sober home. 2. go to school. to get this help (which by the way isn't enough and he probably wouldn't be able to keep up his car payments and eat, even with this money, which will be a hardship for us to come up with). I know this is still helping, enabling , not allowing him to fail and learn, etc. It's just the timing of him getting the school money and the fact that he actually did something good for himself by passing the class. Granted , he was a real ungrateful creep to us and said some horrible things. He tries to blame everything on others, the other times he is so sweet and caring... My husband is tougher(and perhaps smarter than myself) and says to let him fail, loose the car, etc. What do you all think?
    Lasted edited by : Aug 22, 2014
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Hi, Luanne. I'm glad you're here...yet not glad you have to BE here, if you know what I mean. I can feel for your hurting mommy heart.

    Your son is pretty typical for our difficult child children. And you are a typical parent. He does one thing that is good and we blow it up because we need to feel that there is hope. Yet your son is still drinking, which he obviously can not do and function well, and he is still using drugs and you have no idea what he has or is taking. He is apparently not able to get along with anyone he lives with. And the money you are spending on him isn't doing any good.

    If he is like our difficult children in general, he is nice to you when he is getting ready to hit us up for something, like money. They are mean and angry when we say "you're a man now and I'm sure you can take care of yourself. If you can't afford a rental around here, rent a room from somebody or move to another area." That sets them off. You don't have to listen to his my opinion he is too old to be living with you for any reason.

    My very first bit of advice, because you have to start somewhere, is to go to a Twelve Step Program like Al-Anon to help you learn how to cope and have a good life even while your son self-destructs. Most of us are working hard on our own lives because we know that we have 0% control over anyone else, even our adult children. So we are trying to build good lives for ourselves in spite of that fact because we have 100% control over ourselves. We don't have to spend our lives angsting over our grown kids who are not choosing to help themselves. We are mostly trying to take care of ourselves and our loved ones who respect us and treat us well. If you don't like Twelve Step, definitely find yourself a therapist to talk to. It is too hard to do this alone. We tend to enable our children until we are broke and sick without help...and they are no better off than before. You may want to read "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie (this started my trip to good health) as well as Twelve Step or a therapist. Your son is responsible for his crummy life. Has he been in jail? Did you bail him out?

    Try to do something nice for YOU tonight.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  3. luane

    luane New Member

    Dear Midwest, Thank you so much for the reply. You are absolutely right about all of it, especially the being nice part, usually now just when he's received something or wants something. I am here spending my birthday reading forums and looking up homeless shelters, in full repair mode for him. The worst part is when your hopes go up.I stopped having to take Xanax every night (after 2 years )only after he'd been home with us for a few months, clean of drugs and alcohol, and going to school. Then, boom! He's back at something and it's ruined my happiness again. I had gone to Al-anon in the past and found it very helpful. I will be looking up the meeting time again today. You guys are great out there, and it has helped my soul to see those of you who are able to pick your lives out of your children's and be happy.
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  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You are going through a lot, luane. I had to throw my son out when he physically threatened me. He cornered me and raised his fist. I had a twelve year old at home who saw it and was screaming. I didn't even call the cops. Where I am today, I would have. I did tell him to leave and he left, never thinking I'd let him really go. I was too afraid to let him back as I was divorced and living alone with my other teen son (who always acted oblivious) and my younger daughter who was terrified of him. I found out later he'd been terrorizing her while I'd been at work too. Nice.

    On this forum, we all have some battle scars. I like to try to help the younger moms not make the same mistakes I made. In the end, I never did fix anything...I couldn't do it...can't fix another. And I now believe nobody has the right to abuse me...not my mother, not my brother, not my sister, not my BFF, not my child. Nobody. And I also don't feel I have to support my grown kids. They have had every advantage while growing up and were given attention, love and the tools to become grown ups. We did it by sacrificing our own desires for them. We did it without regret,so that they could become responsible adults. One of mine still has chosen not to grow up anyway. That's on him, in my opinion. Not sacrificing for a man of 36. Fortunately for me, they all do work, even my biggest difficult child has a good job, but he can still almost drive me out of my mind and I have to still go back to my training from Twelve Step and use my skills to detach when he gets abusive.

    There are wiser women than me here. Listen to Child of Mine, Scnet of Cedar, Damnit Janet, Recovering Enabler, Echo, so many great warrior moms with so many battle scars, yet are living life...I owe so much to all of them. They are a great bunch. This forum is wonderful. I truly love them all.
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  5. luane

    luane New Member

    Thanks so much, I am taking strength from your words and theirs. I actually made my decision today, now, to just STOP, with the planning, fixing, everything. I know it will be up and down, but, it feels better to have made a decision. Take care!!!
  6. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi Luane and welcome. I so understand what you wrote above, the back and the forth of it, you want to help someone who MAY be on the cusp of a good move for himself, but you know that you've done things before like this and there was virtually no return at all.

    Let me say something that might surprise you: I don't think it matters one way or the other, right now, whether you agree to pay the $200 a month and make those stipulations...or not.

    If you are not yet ready to stop, and you really want to do this hopes it is the turning point, then do it.

    Here is the really important thing: As you are doing it----whatever you decide to do for him----at the same time, begin a concerted effort to work on YOU. You matter. You are truly, right now, the main one who matters. You have done and done and done for him, and today he is 26.

    When is he going to start taking responsibility for himself? The answer: he will have a chance, a real chance, to start that process---his own work, on him, like you will be doing, on you----once you stop.

    That is what I believe today. At the same time, today my difficult child called, and said this: Mom, I have a job interview tomorrow morning at 10. Can you take me to the interview and bring me some clothes to wear?

    Luane, if he actually gets a job any time soon, it will be the first job he has had in nearly 16 months.

    I am thanking God today that I am going out of town for a girls' weekend tomorrow morning. I can't take him to the interview, and that is the truth.

    I did agree to take him some clothes and give him $2 for a bus pass tonight. And then, Luane, I actually ironed the clothes.

    I am telling you these bare-faced truths because I also believe this: we can only do what we can live with.

    In the past 10 days or so, I've gotten too involved again in my son's life. I have allowed the "creep" of his calls, and his needs, and his improved thinking and improved talk, get to me. I have allowed hope, a little hope, to grow into more hope, only to be dashed by the appearance of the new girlfriend (not good) and then to be uplifted again by the job interview.

    The roller coaster. It is exhausting, it is not a way to live, and I don't like it one bit. I am so very tired of it. I want to get off, but it never stops.

    Because, Luane, He does seem a bit different right now---a bit better--and believe me, I am parsing his tone, his words, his expressions, to see if it's again all a big lie...or not. I am peering closely at his face, watching his yawns, his eye contact, Luane. I am too involved with him and what he is going to do or is not going to do.

    I have to create more distance. I have to get out of his way. I have to get out of my own way. I have to turn my focus back on myself, and away from him---a grown man---and allow him, let him, do whatever he is going to do WITH HIS OWN LIFE.

    However ugly it is.

    So Luane, go back to Al-Anon. Post here. Read Melody Beattie's book. Take a walk. Take a nap. Take a break.

    It's the 51% rule. You are at least 1% more important than he is. In the Big Scheme of Life, it's not going to matter, truly, one way or the other if you give him $200 a month for a while to see what he can do and what will happen.

    With or without you, he will either start on a better path, or he won't.

    It gets back to us. We have to do what we have to do. May we all have the strength and courage to create more space, more time, more distance....and turn our tremendous energy back on ourselves and our lives. We deserve it. We really do.

    Glad you are here. We get it. We get you. Please continue sharing and posting. It helps us all.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Luane, welcome. MWM and COM have offered you very sound advice, they know, we know, I know what you are going through because we've been there or are there with you.

    A therapist told me once that one indicator to help guide you when you are first learning to differentiate between enabling and loving kindness is that with loving kindness you usually feel good, with enabling you usually feel resentment and you feel bad. That helped me. It's hard to figure out sometimes and as COM mentioned, in the big picture, we all go up and down and back and forth and all over the map for awhile until we get our bearings on this new path. If you decide to help your son, then go with that plan, if you don't, then...........well, you don't.

    There is no right or wrong here, you do what feels right to you. And, tomorrow if that changes, we can always change our mind, nothing is etched in stone, there are no detachment "rules".............we're parents, we love these kids............we do the best we can and when we find a better way to do it, we do that.

    You may want to read the article at the bottom of my post here on detachment. It may give you some insight.

    This is a process, it takes time and a commitment on your part to stop the runaway train of helping our kids when they are not willing to change. We can't make them change so it becomes crazy making for us and keeps us in the hamster wheel of insanity. Remember the definition of insanity, "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

    Get yourself some real support. Be kind to yourself. Put the focus on YOU instead of your son. Make sure you get your needs met. We stay so long at the difficult child party, we forget to nourish our own lives. Take care of YOU now..............wishing you peace..........
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  8. luane

    luane New Member

    Thank you so much for sharing those details. It is indeed the hope that brings us up and dumps us down so horribly. I guess no one can ever really give up on someone they love. And I am starting to realize how they learn to manipulate us. I truly hope your son goes to the interview, even just an interview is a start. My girlfriend, whose daughter was homeless for a while , told me today she also believes I must stop. Her daughter checked herself into a mental hospital, and the doctors said she needed to leave because she wasn't sick enough, and my friend had the strength to just let her go, she did not bring her back home. She said it was the most difficult decision she'd ever made, but today her daughter is responsible, not perfect, but holding her own.. She also told me to lower my expectations for him. I have been hanging on to these high hopes for school and a normal life for him, perhaps that will not be his life, and I must let go.But , I am still wondering regarding a little monthly help. It seems that It would be a quick pass or fail. He either cleans up and goes to school or not. So thank you for your wise thoughts , it gives me some perspective and things to consider. Enjoy your girls weekend!
  9. luane

    luane New Member

    Dear recovering, That is very good reasoning re the feeling good from the kindness vs bad. I just mentioned that to my husband and we agree it's a good indicator. I feel no resentment with the idea of helping for a couple of months. He will be the one to pass or fail. My commitment now must be to stop when I know it isn't working, and let the chips fall where they may after. I printed out the detachment article and will read it again . Thank you. so much!
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  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Luane, I'm in CA. too, northern CA., many of the members are in different time zones so it gets quiet at night around here. (just so you know)

    And if you are going to stick around for awhile (which I hope you do, it is a terrific place to get support and feel heard) please put in a signature at the bottom of your post. You can do that by clicking on your screen name up at the upper right, find signature, click on it, write it, SAVE it and then we will be able to recall your story without having to go back through the posts trying to remember.

    You've got a good open mind, willing to change and alter your thinking, that is a wonderful asset in this crazy world we live in. Your willingness to try different methods and be open to new ways will help you a lot.

    Read some posts here on the PE forum, I think you'll find solace............. and realize that you're not alone anymore.........glad you're here.....
  11. luane

    luane New Member

    Thanks so much for the kind words. It makes me feel better. Take care.
  12. luane

    luane New Member

    I finally made the decision to offer to help my son with a bit of money to help with rent if he went to a sober living home I approved of, and went to school. I also invited him by email to join my husband and myself in a church based recovery program. Not only did he show up uninvited after I told him to stay away, but he has decided to move back in with truly horrible people who don't care about him and make him stay in their broken down laundry room. Needless to say the church program is out. I am so tired of him making the stupidist, impulsive, horrible decisions over and over again. He came by here very angry and my easy child, who had stopped by, said he smelled beer on his breath, after difficult child told him he had no money even for gas..his uncle died of alcoholism and his cousin died of drugs. All these years I've kept thinking it was just a pot problem and that he would grow out of it. Apparently those 6 months of sobriety at my house just finally got him to rebel against all of it and now he will be back with those people, barely eating , barely surviving, drinking , doing drugs of whatever type. I fear that he will, never, ever figure it out and he will turn into (already well on his way) the kind of person me and my entire family wouldn't ever want to be around. It is so sad as he has been given brains, good looks, loving family and he is throwing it away to live alone, without all the good things in life, love , happiness... He doesn't even have good friends or a girlfriend. I am sorry , I am going on and on, but it is so dang SAD! I guess he needs to hit bottom, I just fear, as I'm sure you all do, what that bottom may be..I know he will come knocking on my door probably in horrible shape and I must have the strength to turn him away...
  13. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry, luane. This is pretty typical. Never offer anything because they won't follow through on it. He's doesn't care about the environment he lives in now. He just wants drugs. Religion? He isn't ready. I would not push any agenda on him right now...not a sober house or any religion and I would not help him out. You will end up throwing your money to the wind. He is not ready to quit.

    The truth is, you don't know if he was sober for six months either. I thought my daughter was sober many times when she wasn't. We don't know what goes on with our adult kids when the lights are out, we're asleep, and they are so darn sneaky. All of us want to believe "it's only pot" not that pot is a good thing, but it won't kill them. But it's usually more once they are acting this badly.

    From my days with my daughter, I know one important way to know if you son/daughter is sober is that they will stop associating with drug users once they are. Drug users hang with users. Sober people are usually not interested in friends who abuse drugs.

    I'm sure this hurts badly, but it won't surprise you so much the next time and the next time until/unless he decides he's had enough and honestly asks you if you will help him quit. Now my daughter just quit. She didn't tell anyone. She told me she was afraid she couldn't do it so she told nobody before the fact and she did it alone (with her boyfriend) but no rehab. Rehab can be helpful and thoughtful. Your son is aware that he does not wish to quit yet. He does not want to go to college. That is your dream for him...I'd shelve it unless he quits and then wants to go and finds a way to do it on his own. My daughter, after she quit using and was living with her boyfriend, got a loan and went back to school. SHE paid for it. It was part of her growth toward adulthood. It isn't fair to us or to them to not allow them to grow up, even if it's harder for some adults to BE adults than other ones. And we have to accept them honestly, for whom they are, not for whom we wish they would be. That's true even for PCs...we can't control another's life because of how we want it to be. Luane our adult children, even those who seem to depend on our $$$, do not want to be told where to live, what to do, what path to take, etc. and usually they won't listen, especially if they are rebellious, like your son. I would stop telling him where he should go. If he finds any sober house, I'd embrace it and cross my fingers. Let him succeed or fail on his own. Anyhow, that is my opinion.

    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014
  14. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I unfortunately know just what you mean when you talk about how very sad it is. I think the same thing about my son. It is so very, very sad. I see less and less of "my son" in there. I just keep hoping that one day the blinders will come off and he will stop destroying himself.
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    There are so many disappointments for us. I'm sorry you just hit another one. Bad choices are one of the hallmarks of our kids, bad choices they usually take no responsibility for. Drugs and alcohol take over our kids until they are often unrecognizable to us. It is very sad. Mental Illness does the same thing.

    Luane, while your son is out there making his poor choices, take the time to get yourself as much support as you can. It'll help you to cope and to learn tools to use to keep yourself in as good a shape as you can while you're going through this.

    Sending hugs and caring thoughts, we really do know how you feel..........
  16. luane

    luane New Member

    Dear Midwest, Albatross, and Recovering, Thank you for your insight. I agree , who really knows if he was sober, or just pretending for us.
    . We forced him into rehab 3 times when younger for pot. (who knows what else). And you are right about hanging out with friends who aren't sober. That makes perfect sense. Even if you have to be alone, if you truly want to be sober you are not going to waste your time with druggies...I am so glad your daughter quit, and her own too, Midwest. What a wonderful thing. I hope and pray that my son will see the light before he it too old to make something of himself. But, then again, you hear of older people making the change as well. We must never give up hope. My girlfriend, who is very religious, says she sees people completely change that she would never believe it could happen to, through some faith based sober programs. We all are aware of that. I'm not super religious, but that possibility is always out there, Albatross, and perhaps will turn our sons back into the people we used to know. And Recovering, thanks for reminding me of the support idea. Unfortunately, there is no longer an Alanon in my area. There might be something similar ,something about codependency somewhat close. Ill check further. I am starting painting classes at the local college three nights a week, which will help take my mind off my son somewhat. I will also rely on reading these posts, which will be a big help. Every time I read them I find a little bit more strength- the common sense you all share is so wonderful and I so appreciate you taking the time to reply. Take care all of you. Thanks for being there.
  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    CoDa, (codependents anonymous) is helpful, I went to those groups too. The more support you avail yourself to, the better you will feel, this path can be pretty treacherous for us parents. Great about the painting classes, that will help a lot. I've gone for acupuncture a lot, it really helps with stress relief.

    Since you are also in CA. you might be interested in a program through the largest HMO in CA., if you are a member, it offers a really great substance abuse program for the users and a wonderful codependency program for the family. I went through that program in No. CA. and it changed my life. If you belong to this HMO, you might look in to it. If you don't know which HMO I'm talking about, PM me and I'll tell you.
  18. luane

    luane New Member

    Dear Recovering. I think I read previously what you said about the HMO. Apparently I'm too lamo/tired to firgure out how to PM you, but I am a member. I actually looked it up yesterday and they had no programs anywhere near me. I'll call and verify that though, because it doenst make sense thay woukdnt have it in Orange County,thanks.
  19. luane

    luane New Member

    Hi, I have been reading along on these boards every day or so and they are comforting. Today has been a rough one for me, though. My son choose to live in his car, rather than take us up on the offer of rental assistance in a sober living home. His choice and another stupid one. So he's been getting by living in his car the past month and staying away as we threatened to get a restraining order. Now we have a heat wave , it's 104 today and will be for the next 3 days. So he calls me and tells me he's going to get heat stroke and wants to park in our driveway (which would be broiling as well). I had to tell him no, then he asks if he can pick up a shirt, so my husband says to take it outside for him. Well he pulls up in his car while I'm outside and starts in by saying he almost crashed his car and died this morning because of no sleep (he works nights). His eyes are so red and he looks terrible and I just told him to go to a mall. It just kills me that he is too stupid (?!) to find a place cool, to do something smart. I told him to rent a room somewhere and he says he has no money. I know these are his choices, his bad decisions...but I just worry that he'll get heat stroke. This is so difficult to deal with...
  20. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Luane, to get a bigger response, you may want to start a new thread. This one is awfully old.

    Luane, your son will not get heat stroke. He knows that malls and the library have air conditioning. He probably knows where the water is to catch a breeze and to jump in. You know he is using drugs, which is why his eyes are red. If he almost got into an accident, which is questionable, it could be due to drug use. Actually certain drugs stop you from being able to sleep. My daughter seemed to never sleep when she was doing uppers and meth, although, at the time, I did not know that this was why. She sometimes slept all day because she took barbituates to let her sleep and night was more fun to be awake than day. She also worked, but spent all her extra money on drugs.

    He did not take you up on the rental assistance/sober house because he doesn't want to quit using whatever he's using. He'd rather be homeless and high. When he is ready, he will come to you sincerely looking for help or he will get it himself and shock you, which is what happened to us. Nobody on drugs makes good decisions and it is hard for us to see. I know first hand. But drugs also cause our beloved adult children to steal from us, abuse us, sometimes even physically assault us. They are impossible to live with and they won't accept help.

    I just wanted to tell you that I hear you and wish things were different and hope they do change in the future. Also, wanted to remind you that your son is NOT stupid. He's a drug user, but he knows, as all people on the street do, where the air conditioning is, where the food is, where the shelter is, where the help is...and he is probably cool most of the time, even in this heatwave. Our difficult children know how to tug at the heartstrings and make us believe that they are too helpless to take care of themselves, but they take care of themselves in their own ways and we can't help them if they don't want to be helped.

    Hugs tonight and I hope you can find some peace.