New here and feeling so lost

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by treehugger, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. treehugger

    treehugger New Member

    Where do I even begin? I doubt my story is unique. It seems there are far too many troubled young people these days.

    My story is long so I will try to condense.
    I have a son who is nearly 25 and he is basically homeless for the past month, couch surfing wherever he can stay.

    He has a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from when he was about 10 years old. Started sneaking and drinking at friend's houses I suspect around 14. He is an alcoholic and uses pot. He has 2 felonies and spent a year in jail on alcohol related charges. His father died of cancer when he was 20 years old. I had divorced his father, a mean drunk, a few years earlier and I moved to another country where I still live.

    He was living with his grandmother for awhile and helping her as she has congestive heart failure and had trouble getting around. He seemed to be doing a little better there. They got into an argument and she kicked him out about 2 months ago. He had a lot of money from the accident and blew through it all like water on one big extended party.

    So he went back to the city where he has been staying with the same crowd who do nothing but drink and shoot heroin. He tells me most of his friends won't answer his calls. I wonder why that is?

    He listens to none of my advice. He will call me up all happy saying he had an interview and then a day or two later he'll call me drunk saying he hasn't eaten in days.

    I am really tired of the calls at all hours and he rants and sometimes gets belligerent. I have given him information about shelters and other help but he says he doesn't want to go to a shelter.

    I bought him a cheap cell phone and minutes, a $20 bus pass, some food, soap, deodorant, shampoo, signed him up for food stamps, and an outfit to wear to interviews. I created a resume and he was getting a bunch of calls for interviews that he went to a few and had excuses for not going to the rest. Not enough on the bus pass to go etc.

    I am really not sure what he expects me to do? I have hardly any money myself and I certainly am not giving him any to be used on alcohol and drugs. I know he lies to me and that is unfortunate because I don't know what to believe with him. I told him to make a will work for food sign to panhandle for some money until he can get a job but he won't do that.

    He told me the place he was staying was bad news and he didn't want to stay there anymore. He said he really wanted to leave the state because he is worried that people he testified against would see him around and do something to him. Honestly, I personally would never live in the city he is at now.

    I am to the point where he is nearly 25 and he is an adult and really these problems aren't mine to fix. It is affecting my health and life. I have insomnia and also being woken at all hours of the night to listen to some sob story and he implications he is going to kill himself or go to jail. I am working on a degree which is very intense and I am way behind as i can't concentrate on my work. He seems to think I have no life or somehow I am obligated to take care of him forever.

    My husband says I am way to soft on him. I think I probably am.

    I want to set some strong boundaries with him as in; not to call me in the middle of the night, not to talk to me disrespectfully, don't call when drunk, etc. I am thinking of buying him a bus ticket to where he wants to go, a bus pass for the new city, and a list of resources there and that is it and telling him he has to make his own way.
  2. I hear you Treehugger, but it sounds to me like you know what to do - you just have to do it??? I'm new here too so I don't have alot of advice other than you need to look after yourself first because your son is an adult and should be doing things for himself rather than depending on you. My daughter is also homeless, unemployed and hanging out with the wrong crowd, 28 and still expecting Mommy to cave in when she asks for something. Since she was 15 I've sent her away, she's come back. She's taken off with a loser and called me when she was homeless and hungry. It's so very disrespectful to assume that you have no life, treat you as if everything wrong in their life is your fault and expect you to drop everything to help them, it's about time we stood up for ourselves and said enough is enough! I know, easier said than done.... I'm still looking for help for my situation too, let's work through this together and come out strong!
    Positive thoughts and hopes for a wonderful outcome for you!
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Welcome, treehugger. You have gone past and beyond what any parent could do for an adult, a man. I wouldn't pay for the bus ticket (let him find his own way to get to yet another place to use drugs), but aside from that I believe you are on the right track. These men and women (they are not our little kids anymore) have to decide to change and if they don't decide to change, well, life is very tough if you won't work, use drugs, and break the law. But THEY alone are making the decision to do it and YOU are powerless to stop them. Makes no sense to "help" them self-destruct. Usually any money sent is used for drugs, not the intended purpose anyway.

    Now about YOU. You have a life and should not get ill, either mentally or physically, because of your adult child's terrible choices. As for suicide, I have been on this board for over a decade and can not recall even one adult child actually going through with suicide, although some have tried, some attempts more serious than others. Most just attempts to make us send them money. Once the bank is closed, they tend to get desperate and go to extremes to try to force us to start the money flow again. They don't care if we give them all of our retirement. Most are lacking in empathy, some because of drug use and some because they have always been empathy-challenged. It is time for you to drop the "mommy" role and become a person in your own right...choosing to hang around with loved ones who treat you well.

    My way of not communicating with my son when he is unpleasant is twofold. First, Is simply give myself a break and don't answer. The phone goes off when I go to sleep. Yes, I could maybe have a .1111% chance I'll miss a real emergency, but what can I do about it anyway? I need to sleep. Secondly, and this was surprisingly and pleasantly effective, I got sick and tired of the verbal diarrhea coming out of his mouth and being tossed at me and the loud anger, cuss words, c-word, blame, insults, etc. I finally just stopped caring whether he called me or not and set down some first boundaries. These are my phone rules for my son, who is 36 already and a middle age man and should know better. He lives several states away so I don't see him as much as he calls me for every little thing, but then he abuses me for my answers:

    1. I stopped giving any advice. It's "Uh-huh," "I see" "Yep" "Sounds tough."

    2. If he raises his voice to me, and I mean so much as raises it a little bit, I gently sign off the phone an d won't answer his barrage of calls following that activity. To be fair, I did tell him I was done talking to him if he couldn't treat me the way I treated him and that if he abused me in any way during a conversation, I would hang up. He didn't believe me. He had to believe me. Ditto goes for blaming me for things that happened (or that he wants me to think happened) twenty years ago, if he swears at me or calls me a name (he can swear, but not if it is directed at me). I did not think it would work. I thought he'd stop calling me. Either way, I didn't care. Oh, yeah. If he asks me for a dime that is also grounds for my hanging up. At age 36, with a job and a fairly well off girlfriend, I don't think he needs my money and he is old enough to find a way to make extra money if he has spent all he has, which he often does. Oh, well. The mortgage still must be paid, but I don't have the money to pay for it and I wouldn't pay it even if I did. Time for him to be the man he is or to learn natural consequences.

    Actually he is a momma's boy at heart and needs to call me, but I followed my own boundaries and at this point in time our talks are almost pleasant. If he violates my boundary, I tell him I have to go and I go. But he seems to have learned that I won't put up with his abuse. I put up with it for so long, I am sure he is in shock.

    I have found, from being on this board for so long, that some mothers simply can not handle the notion of letting go of a chld, even one who is 25 or 35. I offer the advice that helped me and hope you move on to have a wonderful rest-of-your-life without living the horrors of your young man's horrors. As for suicide, I have thought a lot about that lately because it is such a big fear of ours. And this is what I came up with. Take what helps you and leave the rest.

    I have known several young people who have taken their lives. Now I am not The World so this is just my experience. The ones who did it were not troublemakers. They shocked their parents and friends who had no idea they were so unhappy. They were not druggies or for lackc of a better word, losers. Some had mental health issues. One had a physical illness (cerebral palsy) and could not handle it anymore and knew he was going to die soon (it was very sad). The kids who had seen him the night before, including his girlfriend, had no idea he was thinking of suicide, but by the way he did it, it was no accident.

    Anyone's adult child or teen can kill themselves, but it is likely that if they really want to do it, they probably aren't going to announce it or use it as a threat. The parents of the small sample I know of had no idea suicide was on the minds of their children/adult children. Can we be sure our adult children won't do it? No. We also can't be sure they won't get killed while driving high (my daughter who once used drugs was in three serious accidents, even after we forbade her from driving our vehicles--she found some very stupid friends who let her use theirs). We can't be sure they won't get hit by a car crossing the street. We can't be sure our wonderful children, who are not problems...well, you know what I mean. I can't even type it. But we can't control life and death and what other people do. And worrying 24/7 doesn't make them any safer. My 36 year old son uses the suicide card to try to get his way, but I handle it now by calling 911. He has stopped doing it as he really didn't want that sort of attention. He just wanted me to do what he wanted me to do.

    We all take our own journey. Some mothers can never do the walk they must to heal themselves and feel that their children, no matter how old, are their identity; their life. That leads to madness, in my opinion, and helps nobody. I hope you choose a saner walk and it sounds like you are on the right track.

    Hugs for your hurting mommy heart and please update us.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I believe that may be a good choice for you.


    Welcome. I'm sorry your son is putting you through the dramas he creates and lives. Your story is not unlike many of ours. It is a hurtful experience to say the least, to watch our so loved adult kids make poor choices because of substance abuse. It is in fact, devastating.

    You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post. You may also want to read the book Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie. Both are very good resources.

    From this point on, it is about YOU. Take the focus you've now had on your son and place it on yourself. You are the one who can change your responses and your perspective. He may or he may not, but you can't wait for him to change, you have to do it and you have to do it now. Your insomnia and upsets about his life will diminish greatly or disappear once you begin focusing on yourself and getting support for YOU. Most if not all of us here require some kind of outside support in order to survive this and begin to thrive. Any 12 step group such as Al anon, Narc anon, Families anonymous, or private therapy or counseling of any kind will help you to learn tools, get understanding and empathy, give you a place to vent and emote and offer you a new perspective. Once you begin that process, a lot will change for you. The key is to take the focus off of them and place it on ourselves with as much support as you can muster.

    When our kids don't launch in the usual ways, we can get wrapped around a pole trying to fix them. The guilt, fear, sorrow, resentment, frustration, anger and judgements we go through can be overwhelming. It takes time to let go. It takes time to detach. It takes time to accept the things you CANNOT change. It takes time to let go of trying to parent an adult child who refuses to change and learn a new way to parent with boundaries and refusing to allow their behavior to impact our lives.

    I'm glad you found us. Keep posting, it helps. We're here and we understand what you are going through. Hang in there. It WILL get better. Get yourself some support.
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  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi Tree, and I am sorry. Your son sounds very much like my son in terms of his behavior. In terms of his interaction with you, we were at the same point months ago until I started putting much firmer boundaries in place. Doing that is going to help you a lot.

    Yes, I would sit down and write out a list of what you want your interactions to be with your son. What you will do. What you will not do. Keep it short---you don't have to spell every single thing out today. It could be something like this:

    1. Please call me once a week at 5 p.m. on Thursdays. We'll talk for 10 minutes. If you call at any other time I will let the call go to voice mail. If you talk disrespectfully to me on the Thursday call, I will hang up.

    2. I will buy you a bus ticket to ___ today. I will also buy you a bus pass once you get there. I will email you a list of the homeless shelters and programs available there.

    3. I love you son. Your life is up to you. I will be glad to have a pleasant call with you once a week and I will always wish you the best and hope you find what you are looking for. I am not going to give you any more money at all. You're on your own. Good luck.


    Depending on what he does with this you can provide more boundaries to him. I have had to tell my son: do not come to my house without an invitation. If you do, I will call the police. I will get a restraining order against you.

    That has stopped the 3 a.m. pounding on the door when he gets out of jail.

    On suicide threats: I believe in taking every single threat seriously. And what I mean by that is this: I will either drive directly to where he is after he threatens suicide OR I will call the police and tell them where he is. Threatening suicide and committing suicide is against the law (thankfully). I have told my son this: Every single time you threaten suicide I will call the police. That has really stopped/cut down on the threats. I don't believe my son has any intention of committing suicide. As my exhusband/his father said recently: He thinks too much of himself to do that. However, I will always take it seriously.

    Warm hugs and welcome. Keep reading the site, and start working on YOU. It's time for your life. Your son will have to make his own way in the world. Sad but true.
  6. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    Welcome I haven't been posting much lately between appointments and being sick; there just haven't been enough hours in the day. The other moms here have given you good advise, it seems all of our adult kids needs some boundaries and limit setting. For me my friends have more problems respecting boundaries then my kids.

    One boundary that has helped me immensely is to declare to the world don't dial my phone # from 10PM-10AM, the only exception is a hospital looking for me as next of kin so they can authorize medical treatment... everyone else can wait until I've had my coffee and got my eyes open.

    Without strict solid boundaries people treat you like a doormat and they will pound you into the dust. Sending hugs and positive energy

  7. treehugger

    treehugger New Member

    Thank you all so much for your replies and support. It really means a lot to be a part of a group that understands.
  8. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Welcome Tree. Have you had a chance to think about the responses? I'm curious if you are able to move forward or still feel stuck.

    Meanwhile, on the sharing front...

    Wait, are you writing about my difficult child or yours? This is exactly what mine does. so many cheerful calls starting with "good news, mom! I got a job" (this usually means he got an interview and expects to get the job, or he went to an interview and they told him they would call him....sigh)'

    Followed by an admission to a psychiatric ward a few days later.

    Shelters are yucky. My difficult child won't go either. But that is his choice. There is a place with a bed for him, he knows it, your difficult child knows it, and that is the end of our role here.

    Good list! You can rest easy that YOU HAVE DONE ALL YOU CAN OR SHOULD AND NOW IT IS TIME TO STOP! It is right there in black and white. You are spending way more effort and anxiety on his life than he is...that is a red flag of dysfunction. Stop now. You putting more effort in will not change things. Only difficult child putting effort in will change things now.

    Exactly. What MWM said. They make us sad by calling and complaining about their bad lives, cause life IS hard living on the street. It is. But look back at all you offered him...he clearly likes SOMETHING about his life, because that is truly the only reason people do things..because they get something out of it. He is choosing this. If you work so hard to try to protect him from his choices, he'll never get to the point of understanding that his life will only change if he works at it.

    Let him be an adult now. Let him learn. It is a long hard process for those of us on the sidelines (and yes parents are on the sidelines of adult children, easy child or difficult child). It is his life now.

    Good lucky, Mom. It is so hard. But we are here to listen and support.

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