Need some stiffening of the backbone...or open to opinions of the group

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Echolette, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Difficult Child and I have been floating in a neutral zone. Every week we make a lunch date. Every week he cancels. I have become quite comfortable with this pattern (for those of you who don't know Difficult Child is a mentally ill 21 year old street person,as he has been for 4 years now). I feel like he feels supported by the idea that I will have lunch with him, and the actual event is too stressful for him, so he keeps bailing. I also find it stressful, so am secretly relieved when he postpones...although I would kind of like to see him and talk for a bit. STill, he is so dirty and smelly and awful in appearance that it is hard to figure out where to go that isn't just plain rude for the business or other customers..the more he postpones the more likely we can have lunch on a park bench which would be good.

    Yestarday he called from a jail.

    He was weepy and (his version) wrongly imprisoned. He asked a drunken St. Patrick's Day reveller for a cigarette, and the DSPDR took a swing at him, and now Difficult Child is imprisoned for assault.

    He wanted $2000 bail.

    SOme of you may remember that when he was in jail for a series of minor offenses and mostly for failure to appear in court (Dec 2013) I refused to bail him out (it was December, cold, on the street, and I had a lot of reasons). I did, however, with much consultation from EVERYBODY both virtual and in person, pay his fines so that he wouldn't continually bounce back to jail with every small offense. That was on the order of $1800. HE made up the rules around that...said he would give me his debit card to pay myself back out of his SSI, would go straight to the local program for homeless and get himself on a housing list, a few other things I didn't remember. His dad split it with me, and his only request was that Difficult Child call him from court and let him know how it went.

    You can guess the rest of the story.

    His dad heard from him 3 months later when he called to ask for money.

    I called him after court and he said "MOM!!! its the holidays!! I just want to see my friends!" and didn't hear from him again for 2 months. He of course never paid me back (this wasn't my requirement, it was his volunteering).

    So yestarday...I said absolutely not. I said...remember what happened last time. I will never help you get out of jail again. I hung up when he started pleading (he called at the exact moment that I was hosting a pot luck dinner for my younger sons' wrestling team).

    He called again at midnight. The familiar "this is a call from the (local) prison system. This call will be recorded..." etc. I picked up and said "you should not call me at midnight and I will not pay your bail."

    He asked if he could call me today "just so I have some one to call" which has been a fear of his...last time he was in jail he realized that several of his colleagues (echo laughs here, she thinks she is funny...colleagues...) had no one to call, that they had burned every last bridge.

    I said OK.

    He called his dad and begged for bail, said he could not get a public defender if he was IN jail (what? is that right? doesn't pass the sniff test), and that he was facing 7-9 months. DAd is waffling.

    I will start to waffle too if he sounds miserable enough.

    I don't think I'll waffle so much that I'll pay...but I'll spend a lot of time on the phone with him, let him eat my heart out, talk to his PD....waste my time, fall down the rabbit hole.

    7-9 months. Assault. (he is the gentlest wimpiest ever...I believe that the drunk St. Paddy's person swung at him-lots of staggering puking people on the streets of my fair city yestarday)

    He needs to stay in jail...or not, according to the courts. Right? I need to set some boundaries on the calls. What are those boundaries, anyway? I can feel the fog descending.

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is tough, but I'll give you my thoughts and you can use them or toss them out if they aren't helpful.

    First of all, you know your son best. Does he lie? Ponder that. If he does lie, he may have assaulted the man. On the other hand if he is truly schizoaffective, with the hallucinations and all (you know if you believe this diagnose or not...they get so many diagnoses)...then maybe he doesn't even know what happened. Is he compliant with medications? Drug abusing? Sooooo much to think about.

    If my grown kid had hallucinations...honest and true breaks with reality...I would treat it differently than if he did not, but just had a mood disorder. There is a difference. I have a serious mood disorder, but no hallucinations so I know fantasy from reality. A hallucination seems real to the person. If your son is really that mentally ill that he can't tell fantasy from reality, I may call the PD to ask that he get mental health services rather than jail time...or both, since, sadly, in our country the jails are now often our mental health hospitals. (Very scary show on this on television recently). But if he can get the right medications, that would be good. Meanwhile he'll have his meals and be getting better. Is it really better for him to be out on the streets in his frame of mind? Is it due to his mental illness, which he can't control, or just plain unwillingness to get help, to stop using drugs, or to get a job. I make a distinction between true mental illness that can not be controlled and our Difficult Child who are plain defiant, maybe depressed or even bipolar, but I do not make exceptions unless the adult child hallucinates and has a poor sense of what reality is.

    So your son would be difficult for me to figure out, unlike my own kids were. I would need to figure out if he was in this world or living in another one. That's how I would make my decision. If I thought my adult child were "insane" I would do what I could, knowing that it's not much. If he was just acting like a victim and refusing any help, then I would keep refusing to enable him. I would talk to him on the phone, but no money.

    The last consideration I think that should always be a matter of importance is if you can afford to help him. To be honest, we'd have to max out a credit card to pay that much bail. We live paycheck to paycheck with no savings. So, for us it is not possible to help much. If helping out puts you and the rest of your family in hardship, I think you should take that into serious consideration. Some people have plenty of money and some have very little and beg, borrow or steal to save their grown kids. I am against that. You can only do what you can do.

    Your son is very complicated and I feel for your hurting heart. There is no reason to do anything right this minute. You can think about it more before doing anything. Hugs!!!
  3. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    he doesn't hallucinate, or at least he didn't used to . He has used drugs for so long now (everything he can get his hands on including heroin) that his brain seems more fried, so who knows no...he is hard to understand on the phone because he mumbles now. He does not take his medications. He has lost touch with the mental health system. If I make him appointments he will not show up. Sometimes he finds his own therapist for brief periods, mostly he uses the emergency rooms for care.

    He is bipolar and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Schizoaffective..maybe..he is quite unhinged from reality, but he doesn't hallucinate. He knows better. He knows what is right and wrong.

    He didn't attack that guy. But he might have been too persistent, stood too close, touched him on the arm, and pissed him off.

    We could pay the bail (but not the whole amount if he understanding is that this is the 10% but we are liable for the whole thing if he doesn't show up). I would feel it but it wouldn't be crippling.

    IF the PD contacts me I might petition for some kind of mental health...I don't know what that would be, but I know he is better when he is clean and on medications.

    I'm pretty sure he can do better than he is choosing to do.

    And yes, my heart is hurting today.

    Thank you for your always thoughtful response, MWM, I value and appreciate it.

  4. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    The boundaries are whatever you want to do.
    The boundaries aren't what everyone else tells you to do, or what the text books tell you to do.

    The facts of the case. Were there any witnesses? Was he arrested and not the other person because he's the one that's dirty and smelly? Or was he arrested and not the other person because that was fair?


    Do you think the drugs came after the disillusionment with modern life, or the other way around?

    Is the mental illness a symptom of, or response to, his view of the world? Or was it there before?

    I'm really trying to understand my own son better. I haven't got any answers sorry, only questions.

    (I get the lunch on a bench, it's far less stressful. It's a lunch that's about you and him, not a lunch that's about the perceptions and opinions of the other people in a cafe. He obviously need to know that you are there, even if he can't cope with living up to what he maybe sees are your expectations for a civilised meeting. He's aware of his own limitations.)

    It's so hard.
    I feel like crying for him... and you.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Echo, thanks.

    I feel so bad that your son has damaged himself with the drugs. I honestly wonder if staying clean in jail and at least giving his poor brain a rest from drugs is best for now? It is, of course, your decision, but he needs to get healthy...he won't be healthy on the streets. And even if you took him in (I know you won't) he will not stay inside and heal. He will go out and stay sick. I'm so sorry he is making a decision to damage himself. It hurts just to hear about it. This is not what we wanted when we had our babies and I wish I could give you a real life hug right now.

    If you go to Al-Anon, this is a good time for a meeting maybe?? If not, a good time to see a therapist?? You have got to take care of yourself right now. You have many other loved ones who need you to be the strong healthy you that you can and have usually been. And you need to be there for yourself too. Don't be rash. Be good to yourself.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Do your jails actually have any kind of services for mentally ill? If there are, and if he is even reasonably safe there (I mean, unfortunately people like him are targets everywhere, including jails) he is better off than at streets. He may not be willing to cooperate with any treatment, but at least he is stuck where he is. And sometimes good things can come out from even less than voluntary treatment.

    You do know my stance about concept of enabling, but in this, even I wouldn't pay bail money. However I probably would look to if there are services and if something could be done for him to receive them...
  7. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I can't know the facts of the case. What he tells me is meaningless. I don't know if the other guy was arrested. My guess is the other guy was a college student or visitor to town who came in to party for St Patricks Day (it is UNBELIEVABLE the number of green garbed babbling drunken falling in the street fools who show up, usually in groups) and had friends and also looked better. That is my prejudice. Difficult Child is timid, and afraid of physical pain. He would not have started a fight.

    I think the drugs were a way of fitting in with people who didn't judge him or push him, and that later they became a kind of self medication because if he sobers up and looks at who he is and where his choices have lead him it is too awful to endure. I also think he likes the self-identification of being a heroin addict more than being a "retard" or "weirdo" or any other derotory term he might have heard back in school.

    He was never right, developmental delayed, socially clueless. Pervasive Developmental Delay was the diagnosis that fit him best. Bipolar didn't come in till high school..I thought he just "cracked uner pressure" if there is such athing, but his shrink was quite sure, and said he had been wondering about hypomania for a while. IN fairness I am probably at least dysthymic, his twin and my sister both suffer from depression, and my dad was probably (undiagnosed) bipolar in some pretty spectalar ways (did I tell you about the time he bought a back hoe? please note we do not live on a farm or do construction of any kind)

    Yes, Lucy, he is. When he is clear he is clear about that, and it is very sad. Once he told me that he was going to hitch hike to Florida, because there are more people like him there...I said what do you mean? and he said "you know..people who aren't all there."

    I"m sorry I made you feel like crying, but honestly it makes me feel less lonely, so thank you!

    Yes. Thank you for reminding me of that. I forget sometimes. I can even take a rest from thinking about it.

    Yes. He has always done that. He has always gone out and stayed sick. Always.

    He is actually usually quite cooperative, because he doesn't like confrontation. He'll take his medications and string beads and go to music therapy with the best of them. He is quite sweetly compliant. It just stops at the door of the Institution of the Day. The only place he isn't compliant is at home...and even there he is quiet, not overt about it. So 7-9 months on medications (if they provide that) would be very helpful. And if not...7-9 months off drugs, as MWM points out, would be good.

    I'm starting to think my role is to push on the mental health front if and when he gets a PD.

    I don't know what is possible there.

    I don't feel like calling in my PD resources yet again, but I may get there...

  8. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    First and foremost - Big hugs for your hurting heart. I feel so badly for what you are going through.

    It doesn't pass the sniff test because it isn't true. In fact, a public defender is more likely to refuse to represent someone who is out on bail...the thinking is, if you can get someone to post bail, they should be paying for an attorney instead. Now as I always say, states differ, but that's my experience. A person who is indigent, and in jail awaiting trial, always has the right to a public defender.

    County jails generally don't have much for mental health...but at least he has a roof, food, and no drugs.

    Stay strong Echo. We're here for you.
  9. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    That is really helpful, Lil, thank you. I passed it along to his dad as well.
  10. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I should say, if it's municipal, it's possible they won't represent him...but a judge should appoint someone to do so in that case. As they say, if you are facing jail time, "you have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, one will be provided for you."

    And remember - different states, different rules to some extent.
  11. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Just stopping in. Dunno. Mods, if not, delete it please.
  13. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    That must have been very, very hard, and even more so if he was aware that other members of his family were achieving and he was 'different'. He doesn't sound like the sort of person who gets angry about things, so I suppose the bottling-up, if he did that, had to burst out somewhere.

    That's so sad. Was the Occupy phase because he believed in it, or because he wanted to find a group, who didn't know anything about him, where he could fit in? Of course, sometimes a person may not know much about a cause, but can become enthused and on-board when more is known, once they are part of it. (That's been happening to me recently!). The Occupy group had a high opinion of him didn't they? Or were accepting of him as he was. I wonder what alternative qualities he has been hiding from you.

    I don't have any experience of drugs in my family, other than cannabis (I'll be shot down saying that now), so I don't have anything knowledgable to say. It's a shame that he seems to have used drugs as a way of not dealing with everything else though. Maybe that has to be the first thing to stop, no idea how, and then rip everything up and completely rewrite the book of your relationship with him.

    That's not helpful is it. I feel exhausted at the thought if it. Is it worth the effort? For me it would be.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  14. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    It was for me I think MWM. I've read it. It was very interesting and relevant. Thanks.
  15. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    As my SO would say....yes.

    He was attracted to Occupy for its antiestablishment tone. I don't think he really understood the fact when I would visit him there and he would start talking about this or that protest, if I probed at all he usually asked some one else to explain it to me. He used pat phrases and stereotypical explanations. But he loved it, and participated diligently in the community, becoming part of the clean up committee, the music committee, and anything else about Life at Occupy. People there went out of their way to tell me that they liked him, and sometimes to reassure me (without my asking) that they were watching out for him, and he was a good kid. I would say they were accepting of him, and he felt part of something bigger, and he didn't feel stressed or anxious.

    I think it is out of my hands for now. My ex did some digging and found that he is up on 3 felony charges from 2 different events...robbery, assault, and terroristic threats. Of course charges make everything sound terrible, or maybe he was terrible. But he is afraid, and if post bail he will bolt, and he will continue this life and its downward slide. The only thing is to leave it in the hands of the law and higher powers. We did talk about hiring a lawyer for him, but really, I don't think it best that he get out , and in the US that would be thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars.

    I am going to be supportive by phone, and will consider visiting him (I've never done that). But I'm not going to intervene in the trajectory of events. If his PD contacts me (and I will encourage him to let him or her do so) I'll see if there is any possibility of commitment to a psychiatric hospital instead of jail, or at least psychiatric care in jail. It would be great if he could restart his medications, although I suspect that the fact that he isn't on them now will be a problem.

  16. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Sending all my spare strength and hugs to you (and him) while it is out of your hands. I know it's not enough.
  17. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    And then, sadly, he called me and cried on the phone. He said he is facing as much as two years. He said he can't do it. He said he needs help. He said he knew he messed up last time, that he is ready for a new start, but mostly he sobbed and said I need help I need help I need help and this is not the place to get it.

    There wasn't much for me to say. I said I wouldn't pay bail. I said I knew he has a public defender. I said he could call me whenever he wants. I said he should try to make the best of this time, and that the new start would have to happen after he served his time.

    He begged me to not give him a definite "no" on bail, but I did anyway.

    It was awful. The time on the call ran out while he was still sobbing.

    I only hope that no mom and no son ever ever ever has to go through this again for the rest of recorded history.
  18. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Echo, your son is where he needs to be. He is manipulating you with a chilling sophistication frightening in its intentional cruelty. You do not know your child, Echo. You know your love for your child. Just as my love for my children blinds me, so does your love for this child blind you however you think you feel about him.

    You need to leave the phone home and go to dinner with your S.O. No more communication with this son for tonight.


    Tomorrow, one call. As soon as he starts tormenting you, you need to end the conversation Echo or you will not survive this intact.

    You need to walk or run or pound sofa pillows and scream into them until the sound of his voice in your head is quiet.

    It gets to be about survival, Echo.

    You need to decide, right now, right this minute, to do what is necessary to survive this.

    It will not be easy, pleasant, or in any way rewarding. But you will live, and you will remain present to the pain, and you will be fine. You are stronger than you know. It has been a long time, and you have forgotten.

    Cherish your strength, Echo.

    Nothing else is going to get you through this.

    Radical acceptance. Brene Brown ~ lean into it. Eckhardt Tolle: Every moment is exactly as you called it into being. Radical acceptance.

    The suffering of the Mary.

    Read about the suffering of the Mary on COM's Highchair Tyrants thread.

    You can do this.

    Your child is where he needs to be. He is there because that is the judgment that has been made by those who know. You are his mother. You will love him whatever happens because you have no choice.

    That is alright. This is not about love. This is about survival.

    You can do this.

  20. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Echo, I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. The tears would get me every time, and I can really feel your empathy with your son while still needing to keep boundaries in place. It just seems to be such a strange way of thinking when we have to say "no" although the emotions are wanting us to say "yes" and to try to fix things. Sending hugs your way.