Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by greenstockings, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. Hello, everyone. The journey that landed me here is a long one, as I suspect is the case with most of us. I will try to give the nutshell version.

    I have a 22yo son (difficult child) and an 18yo son (former easy child). difficult child is the result of a brief and tumultuous marriage that occurred when I was 18. I married a guy I'd been with for six months (everyone warned me about him), ran away from home with him, and ended up joining the Navy. I will call this man EX1. EX1 has antisocial tendencies and was diagnosed as bipolar with a paranoid personality. He and I separated when difficult child was 8 months old; EX1 had finally lost his composure and become violent. I was going to a new duty station and I left him behind. Haven't seen him since 1992, although he still bothers me online from time to time (sent me a happy birthday message on Facebook).

    I remarried and along came the next little boy, who was a easy child until recently. I will call his dad EX2. EX2 and I met in the Navy and he adopted difficult child a couple of years after we married. EX1's parental rights were terminated. EX2 and I were married for 12 years. He left me for another woman, finished out his Navy career, and retired a mere 8hrs away by car. He hasn't seen the boys in at least 4 yrs, and has only spoken to them a handful of times. Ignores Xmas, birthdays, etc. I don't know what the heck happened to him. Even my dad liked him, and my dad didn't like any of the guys I dated.

    Anyhoo....I remarried again when the kids were 13 and 10. My husband is a sweet, supportive guy who has always been there for my boys and they have always gotten along, for which I'm grateful.

    difficult child was an angry baby that never stopped crying, a toddler full of rage, and by the time he was of preschool age his dad (EX2) and I were burnt out. We took him to a therapist, did family therapy, etc. difficult child was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. The ODD diagnosis fit, but I've always been skeptical about the ADHD part. We did charts, stickers, therapy, the Feingold diet, medications, etc. Nothing has ever really helped.

    When he was 13 he was diagnosed with sleep disorders, which run in my family. After treatment his mood improved quite a bit, and I sort of thought that maybe his a-hole behavior was due to a decade of sleep deprivation. I might add that he only acts out at home. Every once in a while he'd act up in public or at a friend's house when he was little, but as he got older he reined that in and other people only see a charming, intelligent, lovable guy.

    Fast forward to the adult years....he has had a couple of jobs that last less than two months. He just stops going. He finished one semester at community college. The second semester he stopped going after Spring Break. He has anxiety and suffers from depression. He has been going to a psychiatrist and social worker for the past two years or so, and was taking Prozac. In November we bought a house and moved. He didn't respond very well to that. Packing and unpacking provoked enough anxiety that he simply couldn't (or wouldn't) do it. Since we moved in, he's been sitting in his unpacked room playing video games all hours of the day. He only showers about twice a week and lives in the same clothing for days, hoards dirty dishes and garbage in his room, etc. When I speak to him about his behavior, I'm "overbearing" and "harrassing" him.

    He wanted to go to tractor trailer driving school. He started Dec. 2nd, loved it, and had a panic attack on Dec. 3rd and didn't go back. He was really excited about doing this, so I don't know why he panicked. He's very guarded with his feelings and doesn't talk about them, even to his doctors and therapists. They can't get info from him. I recently discovered that he had not been to see his doctors since July. He'd just been refilling his medications. His medications ran out about a month ago.

    About two weeks ago, I had had it. I told him he needed to get the hell out of our house if he wasn't going to make an effort in life. His reaction was to take his Xmas money to the liquor store and get drunk in his room. I found him asleep with empty bottles of booze, beer, and sleeping aids next to him. I saw it as an opportunity to force him into therapy, so we called 911. After about an hour of cajoling, they took him out of the house by force and he was admitted to the psychiatric ward. When they took him out of here, husband and I went to clean up all the beer bottles and found a 10-inch long kitchen knife by the couch. difficult child managed to convince the doctors that nothing is wrong with him, and was discharged two days ago with no diagnosis, no medications, and a doctor's appointment. He tells me that the knife is because he was feeling unsafe in the new house. His BFF picked him up and he's staying with him for a few days. His BFF is my BFF's son, so this is awkward. He was told he could stay there until Friday. I don't know what he will do after that.

    EX1 tried to scare me with weapons, so that knife was possibly the worst thing we could have found. I feel like history is repeating itself.

    I'm trying to detach, as is my husband, but we don't know if we're doing the right thing. It hurts. A lot.

    I should also mention that my younger child began to distance himself from us after getting involved with a girl a couple of years ago. I would call him estranged at this point. We haven't heard from him at all since the early part of December, and he has not acknowledged receipt of Xmas gifts, invitations to gatherings, text messages, etc. He was always my little buddy, a mama's boy. I miss him dearly. The girlfriend is the daughter of a former friend of mine. I feel like they might be poisoning his mind against us. He's always been a follower.

    I miss both of my kids. This is not the way I envisioned the empty nest years. I have a poor relationship with my own parents and it's always been a horrible fear of mine that my kids will grow up hating me, and it seems like it's true with at least one of them. difficult child doesn't hate me, but I feel like I've failed him and my heart is just broken right now.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. Also want to add that he disappeared with my car last year for three days. Said he hadn't planned on coming back because he's a liability. Also was removed from the mall by EMTs and security last year for having drank three bottles of Robitussin while in Dave & Buster's. Spent a weekend in the ER/psychiatric. He has been abusing Robitussin off and on all year, and thinks we don't know, but he's not very good about hiding the evidence.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I adopted a six year old and loved him with all my heart, but he decided to leave us. So I sort of "get" it. However, I do have four other kids. This is my talk on things and remember that you should take what you feel is useful and disregard the rest. First of all, I'll leave it to you to decide, but I have a question. Is your son a problem drinker? If so, I wouldn't ever pay for him to drive. If he got into an accident while drunk...and anything happened...and you helped him get behind the wheel by allowing it or paying his insurance...we stopped all that once my daughter clearly was using drugs. But not before she got into her first serious accident. Don't be foolish, like we were. Our drug abusing kids think they are all powerful and do drink and drive. Also, he wants to go to tractor/trailer school? Do you think he should until he stop[s drinking? Do you plan on paying for it? Do you feel he will complete the course and become gainfully employed and drive sober? We parents of difficult children have to think of things other parents don't. And it's sad, but necessary.

    If he drinks a lot, no prescription drugs will help him at all. The alcohol will negate the effects of the prescription drugs. Do you know if he takes any other drugs? Do you suspect?

    Your son is 50% of his bio. dad's DNA, even if he never sees him. Those of us with adopted kids, some who have never laid eyes on their bio. parents, are often shocked, once they meet, to see how much like thier bio. parents they are, even though WE raised them. Biology/genetics is huge. From what I've seen with adopted kids, I've become convinced that biology trumps environment.

    In my opinion, the oldest is way too old to be living at home doing nothing, regardless of any substance abuse (which you may not even know about) or mental illness he may have. At his age, it is up to HIM to get help. If he won't, and he has been dangerous, why would you let him live in your house? My oldest son has made threats to me. Fortunately he lives a few states away. I'd never let him in my house because at any given time, he could actually do what he threatened to do. So we talk on the phone, but I can't say I want to see him or that he can ever again live here. He can't. Fortunately, at least he works and his son is in another state and he won't leave his son. I'm sorry your boy made an either serious or fake suicide attempt, but it was his decision and, if he is inclined to do it agian, you can't stop him. Suicide has always been my biggest fear with my difficult child son, but I can't stop him from doing it if he decides to go there. I don't really think he will. On the other hand, I can stop him from being in my space when he has threatened me. And I do.

    I am also sorry about your other son, but he also made probably a very poor choice. He is gone for a reason. Drugs? Criminality? Maybe he doesn't want you to know what he is up to.

    You do have a blessing and that is your sweet husband. Detaching means you stay out of your difficult children drama, but you take care of yourself as well. Sounds like your husband and yourself can have a wonderful life together. I'm sure you also have other relatives and friends who value you and treat you right, the way you deserve. Hobbies? Groups you are in? You CAN have a wonderful, rich, fulfilling life even while your sons make self-destructive choices.

    If your son were my son he would not be living in my house. Ever. But you have to detach at your own pace and do things your way.

    I am so sorry for your hurting mommy heart. I have had that myself...many times.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  4. Greens, i am not in a position to give advice but wanted to say i am sorry you are going through this. My difficult child will be 22 in 4 months and he too is dragging me through the mad just like your difficult child so i kinda understand. Midwest-mom has given you good points to ponder and she gives practical advice so i wish you the best in this long tumultuous journey.
  5. difficult child has only been drinking (at all) for about 1.5 years. He never experimented with anything as a teen. Then he hit 20 and started drinking socially. I know he has smoked pot here and there, but he's an asthmatic so it hasn't been frequent. Then there was/is the Robitussin. We have told him that he's not helping himself by doing those things, and that they will interfere with his Prozac. He pooh-poohs us as if we are just silly old farts who don't know anything.

    He's not likely to go back to the trucking school because he has no money. Yes, I was going to pay for it initially. He was excited about it and it was the first thing he seemed excited about in years, so I thought that was a good sign.

    My other son dabbles in marijuana but he's living with a bunch of hippies, not criminals. I know the family well. I know there are people here who would say marijuana is a criminal activity, but I don't share that view (and no, I don't use the stuff). He's a nice kid. He just has decided to completely ignore us for some reason.

    Thank you for your responses, ladies. Everyone keeps telling me we're doing the right thing by making him leave, but it doesn't FEEL right. Know what I mean?? He blames us for all his problems, which isn't helping.
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Welcome, greenstockings. I know the pain that brought you to us. I am sorry this is happening, to any of us. I remember being so focused on helping my kids that events in my own life went sort of fuzzy around the edges. I lived like that, with everything but the pain surrounding issues with my kids a numbing, second-tier value, for something like twenty years.

    My kids are both nearing forty, now. I do love them, oh so much. But loving them wasn't working. I tried so hard to learn what detachment was, what it meant, what it looked like, how it felt. During all that time when I just wasn't able to do the harsh things detachment seemed to require, I was understanding. I was kind. I was passing out money and putting up with such inappropriate behavior I can't even believe it, looking back on it, now.

    It is almost like our kids will push and push us, greenstockings, until we finally stand up for ourselves.

    Then, there were some posts, here on the site, from parents who had successfully detached. And not only did the parent find his or her life much improved, but the parent's detachment skills seemed to have helped the child, as well.

    So I was like, on that detachment bandwagon the next day.

    I am in the midst of it. So far? I am stronger. The soft-focus on my own life has changed. I am more present in my life, more aware of my own hopes and expectations and feelings, than I have been for so many years. As I continue to post here, and to read the posts of other successfully detaching parents, I find that my initial reasons for putting detachment behaviors into effect ~ trying something, anything, to help the kids ~ have become less important. I understand in a new way that teaching my kids to consider themselves king of the world was not a good thing. It weakened them, left them feeling entitled, found them looking for excuses instead of working toward solutions. As I separate from them, I expect more from them, and I expect them to do it on their own, and to hurry up about it, too.

    If I am upset with anyone in this whole mess?

    It's my kids, for once.

    Who in the world did they think they were?

    And that is where you are right now with your son, Greenstockings.

    Who in the world does he think he is, doing these things? He surely knows better. He chose to do whatever he did, anyway. He knew it would hurt you.

    He did it, anyway.

    It seems to me that the best way to help our kids IS to detach, is to put them out, is to demand more of and for them. We help them best by modeling healthy boundaries and behaviors. How I missed that for all these years, I don't know. I think I just felt so guilty that the kids' lives were not what we had planned. But here is the thing: I did not do that. Neither did you. You are grieving more and working harder right now than either of your sons is.

    You will come out the other side of this dark place too, greenstockings. However you decide to handle it, we will support you. We have all had to go through all the steps to get to a better place in our relationships with our kids.

    I am not saying that what has happened is our fault. I am saying the kids made bad choices, that they know better, and that we need to hold them accountable if we expect them to get better.

    I don't mean to sound harsh. I know how confused you are right now, how hurtful this whole thing is. We are here because we want to help other parents who find themselves in the very places we fought so hard to get out of with our own kids.

    It might take a little while? But you will get there too, greenstockings.

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  7. Thank you, Cedar. Your post made me cry, but not because it was harsh. It's because it is so true and has been so hard for me to accept. I'm fully aware that a huge part of the issue is that I had emotional needs that were not met growing up, and I always wanted to do better by my kids. Yes, they WERE raised better than this.
  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Beautifully said Cedar. There isn't a thing to add to your post.
  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member



    I was just thinking that you might get away for a little bit, try to get some perspective. Is there a friend you could visit? (Without telling her the real reason ~ this would be a day or two for you to remember what it is like to be just you, cherished and enjoyed by yourself, for yourself, without any mention of your boys.) If not, maybe you could take a weekend away, just treating yourself to dinner, reading a great book, journaling, reading and posting here, thinking what to do next. Before you go, have in mind a plan for what you will do (call the police and press charges against everyone in sight) if the boys party at your house. If you would like to practice your beginning detachment skills, tell them what you will do re: calling in the Law on them if there is one thing out of place and the walk isn't shoveled when you get back.

    That is how it is supposed to be. Our kids are supposed to be a little afraid of us.

    I never wanted my kids to fear me. I lived my life determined not to be my mother. So, you could say we both succeeded admirably in our goals of not doing what was done to us ~ so admirably in fact, that we need to re-establish a certain amount of fear. (Respect is the term we are looking for, here. Right?)

    Other than continuing to read here, greenstockings, I don't think there is anything you have to do. Change will happen for you over time, just like it (finally) did for me. It isn't that we were inattentive or neglectful mothers. The problem can be that we were over-attentive, over-present; that we took our happiness from making our families happy. I have noticed that those moms who are so strong and capable, and whose kids never seem to do anything wrong...those moms were selfish moms. Their kids were crazy little addendums to their lives, instead of the redemptive factor, the primary value, the vehicle of salvation.

    When I think about my abuser now...that is the sin I cannot forgive. That I had been so hurt that, though I put everything I knew into my parenting ~ into my life, really ~ it was still the all-powerful abuser I was interacting with, the abuser I was defying, the abuser I was running away from and acting against.

    My kids deserved more. I deserved more, and I'm claiming that right, now. They deserved a mom who was actually in her own life. A mom who had rights, who made demands, who was real on every level, not some perfect little shell of a mom who could never be strong enough to trust.

    That's where we are trying to get to, greenstockings. (That is where I am trying to get to. I see everything through my own story. That is part of the value of this site. Each of us tells her own story. We take what applies and leave the rest.)

    Now that I can finally see my story, that is.


    Hooray for me!

    We are trying to be more like those moms. Easy, self-centered, happy people who teach their kids to be easy, self-centered, happy people.

    Enjoying our kids for who they are, not for how perfect they are. (It occurs to me that raising perfect kids would have validated my life ~ would have given purpose to my having lived, defying my abuser's intent. And now that I know better, even this late in the day, I am going to change that pattern just as determinedly as, believing it was the right way, I created it. Turns out we are incredibly stronger than we knew, all along. Good. Then we will be able to change the story for our families, even this late in the day.)

    And when the kids do something crummy (as every human being does, even us, from time to time) then we are going to say so and move on. The kids are supposed to respect us and take care of business, not come crying to us.

    We (you) are going to tell your boys this is a new day. You don't have to be nasty. This is for their own good. We don't want sons dependent on mama. We want strong man-sons. What we've been doing hasn't worked. Detachment can work, does change the dynamic. Again, there really is nothing you need to do right now. Thinking differently, reading here, posting when you can, will create the change that needs to happen, next.

    My goodness but I'm full of...advice, this morning.


  10. I wouldn't mind getting away, but it's going to have to wait. I'm starting a new job and will be having minor surgery in a few weeks. Anyway, my boys are not in the house. difficult child was made to leave, and my younger son lives with his girlfriend's family. I haven't spoken to difficult child in several days. He just hurls blame at me when I reach out to him, so I am leaving him alone. My other son has estranged himself from us.

    I don't have any friends who don't know what's going on in my life. husband and I are doing better the past few days; neither of us is as depressed as we were last week when everything really erupted.

    Thank you for your thoughts.
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That's wonderful news, greenstockings. That is what all of this is about: reclaiming our lives, being healthy and happy.

    Congratulations on the new job! That must feel pretty good. Wishing well on the surgery, too. Check in when you can, and let us know how you all are doing, okay?

  12. My husband and I are good people. We work hard, volunteer, and have bent over backwards for the kids. We do not deserve to be treated the way we have been.

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  13. I don't know how to maintain relations through all of this. Do I wait to see if they call us? Do I drop occasional messages just to say "I love you"? Do I try to forget about them, live my life, and see what happens? What do I do with their things that are still in my house (of which there is a lot). difficult child is technically homeless right now, though he is staying with friends at the moment. The thought of that....he's homeless....freaks me out. All he has with him are three changes of clothes, his winter boots/hat/coat, a couple of sweatshirts, his wallet with maybe $150 in it, phone, and toothbrush.

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  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you can pack up the clothes and put them in the garage so they are out of your home. MANY of our kids here couch surf or choose homelessness as opposed to living within rules or guidelines, usually their choice. They are remarkably resourceful. There are always shelters in your area. As many here can attest to, leaving him the occasional I love you messages while you disengage from him, seems to be the consensus on how to respond in these circumstances. We don't just move on from our kids..............we learn how to detach from their choices and their chosen lifestyles...........it's a process and it isn't easy, usually we require professional support to navigate this new territory. None of us know how to do this initially, we learn to develop new responses and slowly WE change those responses and then everything begins to change. Generally speaking our kids don't change, WE do. Once we do, then they often change too. Hang tough, as our kids understand that we are not going to succumb to their manipulations, lies and threats, they stop them. It's a process. In the meantime, be very kind to yourself.
  15. aud

    aud Member


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