Moving toward grief and depression

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Beta, May 19, 2020 at 7:15 AM.

  1. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Last time I posted, I think I mentioned that Josh had told us that he would not be moving with us, which was a disappointing surprise. He told us that he had applied for and was approved for a subsidized apartment in....Phoenix, Arizona! Mind you, he knows no one in Arizona; has no car (yet); no furniture; nothing. He is planning on flying to Phoenix, buying a car, finding a job, etc. etc.

    This is a scheme for disaster, one that will very likely bring him back to where he was when he called us three months ago and told us he had nowhere to go. We have tried to dissuade him from doing this; telling him that being physically close to us and other family members is a good thing; that he needs to take more time to establish a better financial cushion under himself before he goes out on his own; and that moving out to another state, far away from us is basically choosing to separate himself from his family. We also told him that we need his help very soon with loading and moving our stuff and vehicles to the state we are moving to. He was adamant that he would not be going with us.

    I really thought that when he arrived here from Denver that he had learned a lesson about being close to family and the benefit of staying with us long enough to become more stable, but I was wrong. I was hoping that his perspective and his feelings toward us would improve. I've come to realize though that any "niceness" he shows is just a facade; he is still bitter and angry toward us.

    I wrote him a note the other day, telling him how hard the last two years have been, having to go through each day wondering where he was, whether he was eating, whether he was safe, etc. and that it had been really good to go to bed each night these last three months and not wake up in the middle of the night, wondering about these things. I told him that family is one of the most important things in life and that your family makes the difference when you're going through hard times. I also told him that we truly need his help in loading and driving to our new home. Basically, I tried to pour out my heart to him.

    Here's his response via text message:
    "The plan has always been for me to move at the end of May and I'm not moving to *****. Seriously, leave me alone about it. As you have no other better options or ideas, keep your opinions to yourself. Dad can drive with the truck hitched to the U-haul. Why can't you ever be cool about sh*t. You are the ones who move to horrible places, not me; the ones who have f***ed up every place you moved to. I wish things worked out and we could be together as a family but you didn't care enough for your family to stay in the places you moved us to. And then on top of that, you move to places no oe wants to live. Its not my problem. It dragged me down and made my life difficult for so long. But you don't care. You only care about the two of you. It's not my fault."

    As things get closer for him to leave, I find myself moving toward the grief and depression I know will come once he has gone. I have been grateful for these months to have him with us, even as difficult as it is, to be able to have seen him after over two years and to have helped him quite a bit financially. He has been able to accumulate a little bit of money through tax returns and unemployment. My husband worked for a couple of days on his tax returns so that he could get some money that way. If it hadn't been for my husband doing that, he would have just lost that money. He himself was able to file for unemployment, but he would not have been able to do that if he hadn't had a mailing address and bank account with which tax and unemployment payments could be mailed to and/or deposited into; not to mention a quiet, stable environment in which to work on that. If we hadn't paid for a contact eye exam and taken him to the driver's license department, he would not have been able to get his license. So he has benefited from being here; yet is there any gratitude? Now that we need help from him, he is not willing to help us.

    There are two things that discourage me so much: One: That I have a child for whom we have poured so much of ourselves into and yet he cares nothing for us; has no interest in being close to us or in relationship; and is unwilling to help us when we need help. Two: That he is now making plans to go off "half-cocked" as usual, with the usual repercussions, which will eventually affect us once again. We may see him again; we may not; but if we do, it will only be when he is in trouble again. He will not have the money to fly back to where we will be; and we have told him that we may not be in a financial position to fly him back as we did this time. It is so scary to think that he could end up in desperate straits again and we might be unable to do anything.

    This rant is really getting long, so I apologize. I will end by saying that I had some conversation with someone yesterday, a hairstylist. One of her adult sons is living with her and her husband, and she was describing how helpful he had been to them around the house and at their business. He happened to come in at that time and the three of us had some conversation. He was very nice and friendly, and I was struck by what a difference it would be to have a son like that. And I felt shame. And I know many of you have felt the same at times. Not a pleasant thing to experience.

    In case your wondering, our youngest son is in Washington state, currently on furlough from his job. Although we are glad he has been able to move to a new place and see something different, it hurts that he too has moved. My husband commented that "he has moved about as far away from us as you can get and still be in the U.S." I don't think it was intentional on his part, but it is true that he has chosen to live away from us, at least for a time. Just makes you wonder though. By the time we move, he will most likely be back at work and probably would not be able to help us with our move. We're pretty much "on our own" in this. When we were younger, we moved by ourselves all the time, but now that we're older, moving washing machines and sofas by ourselves just isn't a good idea.

    Well, thanks for listening to my rant. I know when Josh leaves, I will miss him, and for the life of me, I can't figure out WHY. Maybe I will miss the hope that things will change with him in his perspective toward us and toward his family in general.
  2. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Beta, I understand your concern because our DCs have treated us very badly. I remember Josh's abuse because what you shared was similar to my experience.

    My 41 y.o. Difficult Child is pregnant for the first time. Never thought possible, she is sober and putting the baby first. However, she hasn't been able to support herself, couch to couch, food stamps ... so my mind has visited that place. The baby dad is in the picture, but they are living with his parents.

    I nearly lost myself to the dark abyss last year. All I could allow myself to do was kept in touch by sending a text emoji every couple of weeks to let her know I would be here when SHE takes responsibility. So about 8 weeks ago when I sent a short text, she responded she at the doctor because of bloating. (Knowing her liver was damaged, I was very anxious). She called; the reality was never on my list of possibilities when in such a dark place...

    "Mom, I am pregnant!"

    My point is we simply do not know the future. For this period of time I am chosing to continue to Let go and Let God, accept I can only change me, and I am going to enjoy every moment I can. I feel I can do this because I am better prepared to handle a lot because I have seen how boundaries give me strength.

    I had to get out of her way. I let her use me as a punching bag. It wasnt until I came here that I learned the difference between helping and enabling.

    I dont know how you could better prepare Josh to succeed, if he doesnt, that's up to him, if he does, he learns he can. Maybe he needs to try to prove to himself he can do it.

    I see this as good news. You have raised him to be a responsible adult. Our children live in other states too. We bought a second home back in our hometown to see two of our children and grandkids. Last season, we saw them twice and one grandson not at all.

    All I know for certain is that what we think might happen is driven by emotions, not reality.

    As for help moving, I totally understand. We are in our early 70's. My sister found day help loading in one state and unloading at their destination state. I believe they were recommended by UHaul.

    Keep us posted. I have wondered how things were going. Safe travels.

    "Unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward."
    Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
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  3. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Hi Beta,

    It hurts, I know. I hope you can be super excited about your move and make all sorts of fun plans.

    My guess is the more you pour out your feelings to Josh, the more he will stomp on your heart.

    Maybe buy a nice card that says something about letting him go toward his new life with all the love and best wishes in the world. Put a few $$ in there and stop feeling financial guilt. If he wants to come home, there is no reason for you to pay for his airfare.

    Realize I am speaking only from experience with my Difficult Child. He started out as uncaring, but later moved on to using my vulnerabilities to guilt me. Total gas lighting.

    Today? Although he knows there are no more $$ forthcoming, he still surfaces from time to time with hateful texts/calls. If we had sent Difficult Child $$ over the past years, those would have been squandered and he would not be in a better place because he does not care to do the work. He'd rather blame.

    So, while I cannot stand in your shoes and pretend to know what you should do, that is exactly what I am doing. :p
    Only because this is an exciting (stressful) time and you deserve to focus on you.

    husband and I moved in November. We are also past the age of moving heavy things. We found folks at both ends to move and place our furniture and it was very reasonable! I agree with checking with UHaul, the app Nextdoor if you have it, and the app Thumbtack.... We got three estimates (which varied wildly).

    If Josh had helped you move, he might have been resentful and it could be a hurtful experience. This may the best thing that could happen from the moving angle. It's difficult to watch our grown kids fly, especially when it looks like a very bad plan.

    People say variations of this on the forum quite often and it helps me: It is not our life to live; it's theirs. We need to get out of the way.

    Hang in there!

  4. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    Beta, You have done your absolute best plus so much more. I am so sorry for your intense heartbreak. The disconnect is so painful. I wish you did not have this heavy burden. I wish so much it would smooth out for you.
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  5. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Thank you Blindsided. If I let my emotions run wild, then I am overwhelmed with anxiety and depression; if I trust God to be strong enough and wise enough to control circumstances and to work in Josh's life, then I have some peace and can have some equilibrium.

    That's a good perspective; I had not thought of it that way. We have a good relationship with him, so I will choose to look at it as a positive. He has said that he is open to moving to where we are at some point in the future, so maybe he will be near us one day. And I will keep you all posted. We have a college in our current town so we're hoping to find a couple of students to help with heavy lifting, if we can find some that are still here in July.
    Sometimes this is what happens, and it tends to catch me by surprise. Occasionally, he will surprise me by being somewhat sensitive to how his behavior affects me. Just recently, he said something harsh to me; I didn't respond at all. A few minutes later, he came out of his room and shocked me by apologizing. At other times, he seems totally callous. I just never know how he will respond.

    I like that idea. Thank you.

    Thank you again; I will check all three of these out. Never occurred to me that there might be something with UHaul or an app to consult.

    Thank you NewStart. I know you and everyone on this site is only too acquainted with heartbreak. Burdens shared are burdens that are lightened a bit. May yours be lightened as well.
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  6. MissLulu

    MissLulu Active Member

    Beta, so much of what you say resonates with me. I understand how this feels. Even though I have two other beautiful sons, who I am close to, the pain of rejection from my eldest is so strong. When I do things for my Difficult Child now, I know not to expect gratitude, but somewhere in the back of this tiny brain of mine I must not really "know" because I'm always hurt and disappointed when it doesn't come.

    And this. The shame. I posted about this yesterday on JMom's post. I feel so much shame at my son's choices. He's doing better right now and I know that's a blessing; one that I should be enjoying while I can, but I seem to be unable to fully shake off the shame of what has already happened and the fear of what may still come.

    I don't have any words of wisdom or advice. I want to tell you not to worry about the "what ifs" and to let go of what you cannot control. But that would make me a hypocrite because I struggle with this myself every single day. All I can say is you have my love, my support and my understanding. Whatever happens next we will be here for you.
  7. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Totally. This is the hardest thing to do. It wasnt until my situation got to its lowest point that I truly trusted. It was then a miracle happened.

    I could think of it differently, but what good would that do? Things could change back, but they might not, too. My journey will much better in all my relationships if I chose the latter.

    A couple of saying from my granddad that I remember to this day.

    "You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make 'em drink."

    "Don't borrow tomorrows troubles today, because tommorows will steal the joy from today."

    Praying the glimmers of hope you see provide the wind beneath Josh's wings.

    In healing for all of us Beta
    Last edited: May 20, 2020 at 11:18 AM
  8. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    I'm sorry for your heartache. I often find myself feeling a lot of what you said. I can only suggest you pray for "acceptance". I know for me the knots in my neck are usually due to the fact that things are not turning out as I had planned, wished and hoped for. Accepting "what is" and not forcing our choices and resolutions to the problems is what we need to do. It's not easy and it's something I struggle with daily.

    Here's an excerpt from a prayer on "Surrendering to God" I have...

    "In pain you pray for Me to act in the way you want. You don't turn to Me; instead, you want Me to adapt to your ideas. You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you. Surrender your worries to Him and close the eyes of the soul, turn away from thoughts of tribulation and put yourself in God's care and ask Him to take care of everything."
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  9. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Coming to that point where you accept things "as they are" without putting yourself through the shame and grief of "what could have been," is the hardest thing with kids like ours. I think I will begin praying for that acceptance, even as I pray for God to change him.

    I am really bad about doing just this very thing. I think I/we mistakenly believe that worrying will somehow change the outcome or at least mitigate it so it "softens the blow."

    Thanks again for all of you who chimed in to respond. Posting is so helpful because I think it helps us "feel" our feelings, which I think helps temper them a bit so they're not so overwhelming, and helps us sort things in our mind and gain some perspective. The behaviors of our Difficult Child's and the things they say can be so mind blowing at times that it's good to work through it with others who can see what might not be obvious to us.
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This has been the story of my life with my son.

    I have come to the conclusion that the only person I can change is myself. I can change my thoughts, my perspective, my expectations and my behavior. I cannot influence my son. I cannot make him want more. I cannot make him value stability. I can't make him take care of his health. I can't make him think in a way that is reality-based. I can't make him plan and to see the consequences of what he chooses. I can't make him want to be near me, in a way that is loving and caring.

    Nor can you do those things. We have each of us tried and tried and tried. I believe it's enough trying. And I believe with all of my heart it's enough suffering.

    We don't know the destiny G-d has in mind for us. We don't know the real meaning of what befalls us. You know this.

    I would say let Josh go. Take him at his word. the Maya Angelou saying, paraphrased, When somebody tells you who he is, believe him.

    Who cares if our sons are selfish jerks? They have to care. Our caring about it, does nothing at all. Let's give them to G-d.

    What other way is there really that works?

    The hardest thing for me is that my son has stopped his antivirals. Really, really, really I have to turn this over to G-d. There comes a time when we need to decide to save and protect ourselves. This is the time, I believe. I am sorry, Beta, this is so very hard. It's hard for me too. But we are doing this.
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  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Dear Beta

    I was thinking some more about you and Josh *and myself, while out shopping.

    I want to make a couple of points. I have been quite sad lately about my son, and resentful and angry too. My mood worsened when he could not be bothered to call on Mother's Day, which should have been no surprise, as he's NEVER CALLED or sent a card on ANY HOLIDAY or my birthday, since grade school.

    My resentment has a lot to do with HOW MUCH I HAVE SUFFERED FOR HIM and near him, and the lack of reciprocity or acknowledgement on his part. The fact he doesn't give a :censored2:. My resentment like yours is also related to the fact that over and over again I put myself out, to shelter him, take him in, support him, and then he just left putting himself at risk, yet again.

    That he has stopped the antivirals for his liver that he NEEDS to live, just stomps out my heart. How many more caps do I need to express how badly I feel?

    All of that said, this is what I want to say to you, to us.

    First, I will speak to you. It's easier. Sorry. Your resentment is your problem, not Josh's. That you don't like how he chooses to live is your issue too. That he makes choices you believe are poor, too, is your problem to solve, and to not put on him. That you believe he's making a serious error of judgment moving to Denver, too, is your issue.

    That our children do not measure up to what we would have wanted is our issue. That we worry night and day also is our problem. That we do not like the men they have become, as well, rests on our shoulders.

    Josh and my son are only required to take responsibility for their choices and to solve their own problems. They are not responsible to make us happy, to lessen our fear, to reassure us, or to love us.

    And we are responsible to learn to handle all of that, even if it brings about for us extreme suffering and even threatens to topple our lives.

    My son is not even responsible to stay healthy or alive in order to protect me. That was not part of the bargain, when I adopted him. I signed on only to love and to protect and care for him until he was legal age, and afterward to the extent that he would accept and needed my help.

    Both Josh and my son are deciding they don't want what we're offering. Or maybe more accurately they want what they want when they want it. But they are both completely clear that they don't view us as having one iota of a right to ask anything from them. Not love. Not help. Not reciprocity. Not respect. Not appreciation or consideration or anything else.

    And that's their right. But the thing is, we have to catch a clue. If we remain with open arms and open hearts and open houses, we are responsible for our own confusion, heartache and resentment. And we are responsible to clean up the mess. Not them.

    You have choices here. Josh has made his choices. Actually, I think the plan to move to a subsidized apartment sounds exciting for him, and even sound. If it's subsidized there is likely a caseworker involved and conditions. I wish my son would do that. Josh is close to 30. It's time to set up an independent living situation, especially if there is support involved.

    It's your choice if you continue to clean up his messes, on his terms, pay for his flight to come home, and to fix his problems. You don't have to do this. You have chosen too. You may decide to do that again, but that's not on Josh. Even if he asks for help. You have a right to state (or not) that if he decides to move far away, the revolving door is locked, and there's no return and no assistance, if that's a direction you want to go. But all of the choices here are yours.

    You have real power here, if you choose it. You are not his victim, as I am not my son's. I am the victim of my failure to set boundaries and make and put into effect clear choices about how I want to live, as a person and a mother. It's not my son's fault that I was unclear, inconsistent, confused, ambivalent, abdicated my responsibility and threw away my power. Those were choices I made because I could not until very lately see with clarity my true situation.

    Josh does not want what you're selling. He's making it as clear as day. If you begin to listen to him, your suffering will soon lessen. I believe that. Love, Copa
    Last edited: May 21, 2020 at 8:58 PM
  12. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Whoa! Very powerful; this is in the vein of the posts I read when I first found this forum. This was the nature of the input that changed husband's and my way of thinking and got us on a much healthier & happier path. Although, I am do not remember ever seeing it worded so well.

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  13. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    So sorry for your agony. I think that you have gotten great advice and I think that Copa's post is the most passionate toward saving YOUR heart.

    You are such a kind person and your heart has hurt so much for your son.

    I do not think you can fix him and I do hope that somehow you can let him live his own life as this seems like what he desperately wants to do, without causing yourself so much agony.

    This is so very very hard and I will continue to pray for you and others on this board - as well as myself and my own family.

  14. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    As I read your posts, my heart just bled for you, for the hurt and disappointment and anxiety that you live with and are trying to move away from. Our circumstances are similar enough that as you wrote about your feelings, it's like looking at myself from the outside; which is a good thing because it helps me see things in a different way. I agree, we ALL have suffered enough. I think there must be something about our generation that allows this much suffering. What I mean is, I don't think our parents and grandparents would have put up with half of what most of us have taken from our kids, and maybe there's something about that that we can take away for ourselves.

    I'm so sorry for your son not acknowledging Mother's Day, and for all of the moms here who have children who didn't acknowledge it either. Josh made only one off-hand comment as I was taking him to the store. It was so clearly an afterthought on his part that it was meaningless to me.

    This is the hard truth. But it is also what makes it possible to be free from the suffering they bring to our lives. Separating out what are OUR issues and what are THEIRS. I need to get this through my head---Josh is not responsible for how I feel or responsible to make me happy. The only thing I think kids are responsible for is to treat their parents with respect and honor; and I say this because the Bible says this ("Honor your father and your mother."). To treat parents with disrespect and dishonor is a very serious thing in the eyes of God.

    This is true. But it perplexes me that there are human beings who can be the recipients of great love and kindness and yet who feel no need to return that love and kindness. But there it is.

    I agree. I need to take responsibility for myself--my feelings and my life--and not put those on him. I need to stop looking at my son as someone who MAKES me feel a certain way or fails to meet my dreams and expectations. I'm the one who has to deal with those.
    Josh hasn't said anything the last few days about his move, and we're not asking, but we're assuming the plan to fly to Phoenix is still on. I have decided that if he goes, I will take the suggestion of SeekingStrength and give him a little card that wishes him well, with a small gift of money for eating while traveling, and send him on his way. I will not be initiating contact with him. I told my husband that if he wants to stay in contact (and I hope that he does), that I'm going to allow him to take the lead on that. As has been said, he has shown us "who he is" and we need to "believe" him by allowing him to have whatever he wants--contact or no contact, but it is of his choosing. I don't want to intrude anymore in his life. That's pretty much the way he views me.

  15. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Oops, pushed the post button by mistake. I was going to say, RN0441, that I appreciate your kindness and prayers.
  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Beta
    Yes. We have no control over how somebody treats us, and if we've kept our side of the aisle clean, no responsibility either. If our children disrespect us, they are responsible for the consequences of that decision. My son will always be my son, but if he is not acting as a child acts towards a parent, he's made that choice, and I need to draw the line that much clearer.

    This is painful, yes. But the thing is, does not G-d have a plan about who we are to become? We had our own needs and ideas about motherhood, about connection and how our children would thrive and flourish in our care. They did for a long time, only to stall. They stalled because of their age, and they stalled because of past experiences and influences that we did not control and could not. They stalled because of their own choices and responses to the world and to challenges they faced. But they are men now. Their mothers no longer create the containers for their lives and life experience. These men determine this themselves.

    I study with a Rabbi in Jerusalem. It's a great privilege. In italics these are his words:

    We will realize that God had something completely different in mind for our life than what we had imagined. Something that is grander and loftier, yet more subtle and refined.

    As mothers we have our own ideas about who we are and what we want our children to become. We have values and we have ideals that we strive to fulfill. But we have entered a new iteration of the world here. Where the old ideas and needs of motherhood no longer work for us or for our sons.

    We are at a choice point here, where our consciousness has to change, because it is in conflict with the reality we face. We don't have to make our children "bad" or "wrong." We can only decide to open to the new present that G-d has provided us. If we continue insisting that we want what we wanted, don't we become like our children? Is it not kind of like throwing a fit? G-d, give me the son I wanted and needed!! Now!! (That's me speaking, not you.) Let's give our sons to G-d who's got infinitely more patience.

    It takes inner strength and courage to open to this new reality, as you are, Beta. I admire you greatly. No less for your great love and loyalty to Josh, than for your spiritual openness to turn to a new way, to embrace uncertainty and possibility. Because that's what you are doing. Maybe I am, too. Love, Copa
    Last edited: May 22, 2020 at 8:02 PM
  17. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Don't admire me. I don't deserve anybody's admiration.
    Just got home from worship service a little while ago, and within minutes, I was feeling anything but "great love and loyalty" toward Josh. He was cooking in the kitchen and was so obnoxious and rude, it really "pushed my buttons." I let him destroy the peace and joy I arrived home with. Yesterday, I took him shopping so he could buy some shoes and clothing he wanted and needed (His money, not ours) . Not one word of appreciation I need to remember moments like this when I fool myself into thinking after he leaves that I miss him. He leaves next Sunday. Right now, I'm feeling relieved that he will be gone. I think I tend to live with an illusion of what I think he is; it's only at times like yesterday and today that I see who he really is.
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Dear Beta: Nobody is all good or all bad. We have the choice to respond to our own failings with compassion, and the choice to rise above. And we could and should I would argue aspire to do the same for others. Every single time when you calm down, and the hurt recedes, you find that higher part of yourself, and you find compassion for Josh. Josh is a mixed bag. You are too. I am too.
    Our illusions of who are children are or could be cause us untold pain, because we have no control. We can't reach into their brain to propel them to choose well. But what we can do is center ourselves in our own heart, where we do have control

    I don't admire your reactivity, just as I don't admire my own. What I do admire is how you choose over and over again to respond to Josh based upon love, responsibility, heart and openness. No matter how he has hurt you, you rise above.

    I am not saying that having Josh up close and personal is the best thing for either him or you. What I am trying to say here is that you are inspired to be the best Beta, the best mother that you can be. You keep returning to this place. And this is what I admire.

    Please Beta, don't be so hard on you for your humanity and vulnerability and hope.