Newbie here: Bizarre story, struggling and looking for support


New Member
As the screen name implies, I am a sad and lost mother at wit's end. My story is so complicated I don't know how I can make it reasonably intelligible, but will try.

My son's father died when he was 9. There is an ex boyfriend who has been in difficult child's life since 4 and who has infiltrated my entire family as a way to stay connected to me (it is no secret that he has wanted me back all these years). He friended my ex husband and supposedly made a deathbed promise to fill in the role of father, something I have absolutely no evidence for and difficult child's father never talked to me about it. Up until recently I have trusted him, but since I reconnected with my lost love 5 years ago ex boyfriend (as the jilted ex) has acted as a wedge between difficult child and I, and my husband.

difficult child changed after his dad died. He buried his grief and later his extreme defiance surfaced. He has been in counseling off and on but has never been diagnosed with anything in particular. Ever since middle school he has been unmanageable in his ways, although he is not violent or abusive.....just extremely lazy, blaming of others for his problems and behavior, very manipulative and disrespectful. In the past couple of years he has become a pathological liar and drinking (and probably drugs) are a problem. He has been fired from several jobs and he is supposed to graduate from HS this month but he is failing at least 3 classes. Nobody knew what I was dealing with, including ex boyfriend. It was beyond normal. When I remarried, the only person who saw it was husband. I now believe he is undiagnosed ODD. I used to think that was a BS psychobabble thing, but I now believe in it's reality.

My sister and ex boyfriend have meddled in my relationship with difficult child so much that it's become impossible for him to be accountable for his choices. Ex boyfriend became a bigger problem for me after I married husband and it began to surface what a malevolent force he has been in my family. He has interfered in my parenting, lied to me, and my sister has covered up for his lies.

I warned difficult child for 6 months that if his behavior didn't change he would be kicked out. He knew exactly what was expected of him. His final warning came about 6 weeks ago after he came home drunk and broke a window to get into the house, and tried to lie about it. Ex boyfriend, rushing to difficult child's defense, created a scenario where he had difficult child convinced I was stealing his social security money. He came home accusing me of stealing "his" money. That money that we'd been receiving for 9 years was for his care and as long as he was in school I was responsible for him. That's another story altogether....bottom line is that ex boyfriend meddled where he had no business and caused the complete breakdown of my relationship with difficult child. That was 6 weeks ago.

Him coming home and accusing me of stealing his money was the final straw and we kicked him out. He will no longer communicate with me. My therapist believes ex boyfriend is a sociopath. My family is split in 2 with my sister siding with ex boyfriend. Another sister sides with me. I believe that as long as ex boyfriend is still involved in my family I won't be able to have a good relationship with my son. It's like he is on the dark side, being influenced by liars and sociopaths. What can I do except detach?

Any words of wisdom or advice is welcome.


Well-Known Member
I'm sorry you heart is hurting. I think it's time to detach from your family of origin. That doesn't mean never speak to them, unless you want to, but they sound as if they have ALL been very dysfunctional, warring and toxic to you and your son. Sadly, your son is of age and grew up around all this and it is too late for you to legally forbid sister, husband and ex boyfriend from seeing him. You can do that if your child is younger, but now he gets to decide who he hangs around with and, at his age, legally the onus will fall on his shoulders.

Nobody makes one drink or take drugs. He made the decision to do it. If he gets into trouble for it, nobody will be held accountable except him. Hopefully, one day he will see the light and that you were actually the good guy here. But we can not make our difficult children see the light. They have to find out on their own.

Now a word from me, somebody who lived in a warring family that I call The Loonybin because I finally see the characters for what they are. All of them had serious problems and mean streaks. In spite of their little Civil War, you don't have to be involved in it, listen to either side, or hear about it. You can set a strong boundary and say, "I am not getting involved in this. If you speak to me about it, for my mental health, the conversation will be over." I know it DOES affect you, but you don't have to listen to the people who are so eager to enjoy such drama. You can deal with it in therapy with a neutral party or go to Narc-Anon (12 Step has been a Godsend for many of us) or just not answer your phone or involve yourself in family affairs. Your family sounds lethal. You can not heal and be who you really are with them warrning all around you while you try to come to terms with your son's behavior. You don't need all these people on your plate. You have enough.

You should, in my opinion, never speak to ex boyfriend. He is toxic and controlling and evil and sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. Your son may choose to talk to him, but you don't have to, nor do you have to let your son tell you what ex boyfriend said. He is your ex boyfriend. You can choose which DNA relatives you think are worth talking to, which may not be. My own choice would be to avoid talking to anyone who gossips and blows up the family drama. If that is all of them, perhaps you need to take a rest or break. I do not speak to my family of origin. Few are left. All have hurt me terribly and tried to harm my children too, in their own ways.

This board is a very safe place to vent about your son. Why don't you tell us what is going on? Do understand that the majority do think that your son's behavior is his decision, thus his fault. Life throws us many curveballs. Few kids have stellar childhoods or perfect families. 50% of all marriages end in divorce so at leat half the kids are faced with two families, siblings, half-siblings, stepparents, visiting here, there and everywhere. Some of our kids have been sexually abused. Some have seen death, as your son did.

Not every child who saw a tragedy or lived a hard life is a problem and can't get his footing. Do not make excuses for your son's behavior. Tell him you know he can do well in society and do not enable him. It does not sound like you are.

It is hard enough to kick out a child (I know this first hand) let alone deal with family drama. I'd let yourself mourn and heal from your decision and talk to us or, again, a therapist or 12 step group or all three, bu t I seriously would not be spending much time with the family. Not in any way. They sound like they are enjoying this drama and perhaps this is how your family has always operated. Mine sort of did and until I let it person at a time...I was as screwed up as they were. Please take good care of YOU. YOU matter a great deal. YOU need to take very good care of YOU. Pamper and spoil yourself during this difficult time.

Do explain two things though, please, so we have a better handle on the siutaion. How did an ex-boyfriend meddle in your parenting? In some way, you must have allowed it (I am not criticizing you because most of us who are here started out very afraid to speak up for ourselves). I am just curious as to how he got such a foothold in your parenting and life. Same with Sissy. How did sh e get such a strong foothole into your life? Are they bossy control freaks who scared you so you thought their criticism of you was right and you had to let them in?

Lock your door. Change the lock first. Don't let either in again. Agree that ex boyfriend sounds like a sociopath. I understand perfectly what the social security was for. Your son was out of line to dare accuse you of stealing his money.

Until your son sees he (son) has a drug problem and is causing problems, you will not be able to have a good relationship with him. It is hard to have any relationship with somebody who is into the drug scene. His challenge is to quit using drugs and alcohol and to get a job or go to college and join society. He is choosing to hang around with dark people. They can't make him do anything. He is willingly choosing their "wisdom" and very dark companion, which is typical of a difficult child. But it is his own decision to embrace them.
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New Member
Do explain two things though, please, so we have a better handle on the siutaion. How did an ex-boyfriend meddle in your parenting? In some way, you must have allowed it (I am not criticizing you because most of us who are here started out very afraid to speak up for ourselves). I am just curious as to how he got such a foothold in your parenting and life. Same with Sissy. How did sh e get such a strong foothole into your life? Are they bossy control freaks who scared you so you thought their criticism of you was right and you had to let them in?

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, MWM.


New Member
Oops......still getting to know this system!

Anyway, to answer your question about how I allowed the interference from ex boyfriend. It goes back to this alleged deathbed promise he made to difficult child's father to step in to be the father figure. At the time I just accepted it as truth (that it really happened), and so did the rest of my family. All thought it was noble. No one thought to question it (I now have reason to doubt that it really happened). So I accepted it and relied on him and his influence with difficult child (who loves him) when I needed it. I sent difficult child to stay with him during summer breaks. Ex boyfriend came to visit when we lived far away. He has done many good things over the years. He became a problem after I got involved with my lost love (LL, now husband) after a 26 year absence. LL was at the time married but getting a divorce. Ex boyfriend began poisoning the waters to difficult child about my relationship with LL with judgements based on him being married and whatever else. No one in my family thought my relationship with LL would work out. But we have an amazing partnership, a rock solid relationship, and I have let it be known that nothing will get in the way of that. Ex boyfriend obviously has a problem with that, and I think difficult child resents it also.

My sister also appears to resent it. Her issues, I believe, are deep seated childhood resentments. She is exceedingly competitive and is constantly trying to prove herself better at everything, including parenting. Because she is a better mother than me (she thinks), she puts herself in a position to be a hero to difficult child, just like Ex boyfriend does. She has everything I don't have, except the awesome marriage. One day last summer she went off on a rant, in front of both of our kids, about what a terrible mother I was because I wanted Ex boyfriend out of my life. In her and the family's view, husband and I should just be OK with an ex boyfriend hanging around. It was truly hideous. It was in difficult child's favor, of course, because he doesn't have to be accountable for his ongoing bad behavior, which nobody else had to live with.

I have been down this road before with the sister. She has pulled some really nasty stuff, not just with me but with our mother and my other sister. Neither of us want anything to do with her anymore. All the trust has been exhausted, never to return. Too much damage over the years.

As for ex boyfriend, he took difficult child to the SS office which is how the story of the money being "stolen" got concocted. If my son had any questions about the money all he had to do was ask me. Instead, he was manipulated by ex boyfriend. I blame ex boyfriend for this, but difficult child had his part to play. You don't just go around accusing your mother of stealing from you without at least a conversation about it. He should know better.

So yes, difficult child has made his choices which got him kicked out. But of course I feel terribly guilty and wonder if I did the right thing. I just don't know what else I could've done. It was untenable. The tension we lived with couldn't continue. I fear for him. He is so immature in so many ways, I can't imagine him taking care of himself for long. The SS money runs out next month and then he'll have.....what? To make matters worse, he works for ex boyfriend as a process server (a very scummy job, in my opinion). Knowing my son, I can't imagine that working out well for ex boyfriend. We are hoping that relationship will self-destruct on its own now that ex boyfriend is in the position of having an ODD kid working for him.


Well-Known Member
Ok, ok, ok, ok. Wow. What a mess.

First of all, who is "we?" Is it your husband and you or your entire family? I ask because he is YOUR son and the rest of your family should not even be involved in this. If they are, I strongly suggest not discussing it with them AT ALL. An enmeshed family is seldom a healthy one. This is YOUR adult child. They raised their own kids and bet you didn't tell them your opinion of everything. That is, frankly, not their business.

Secondly, about the death bed promise.

A death bed promise, if it happened (let's pretend for argument's sake that it DID happen) is a very dramatic thing. We watch it in movies and plays and hear it in songs. The actual true cold reality of them are that the person who asked for the promise is dead. Now if you believe in life after death, like I do, then your boy's father is slapping himself silly because he now knows he made a horrible decision and wants you to get out of it ASAP. The truth is, death bed promises do not have to be honored if they are not working out for you. It sounds like this guy should have been tossed a long time ago, but you were enmeshed in your family and it seems like they wanted him there, for whatever reason. But the only one...the ONLY one who has to decide if he is there or not for a minor YOU. Tune out the family rantings. Make your own decisions. Unfortunately, now he has power over your son. You can not control that (nor do you have to talk about it with anyone) and you can hope the day will come when your son sees him for who he is. There are no guarantees, but if he is a sociopath, eventually he is going to try to screw over your son for his own benefit, like he does everyone else. Maybe he wanted your son to give him a cut of his SS. At any rate, as you said, it is running out.

If you tossed your son out, he must have been horrible to live with. Most of us have gotten to that point. We didn't want to do it, we felt guilty, but our mental and physical health were at stake and often they stole from us, used illegal drugs in the house, broke our precious items in anger, even came at us in a violent way, almost always dumped verbal vomit all over us, spewing the abuse. It is our house/our rules. Your son can decide to get a job. He can apply for Welfare. He can get on food stamps. If he is willing to be sober when he goes, there are soup kitchens where church ladies often do the cooking (I volunteered at one...delicious food) and he can get put on a list for low income housing. There are ways to get help. Now whether he wants it or not is the question. THAT is up to him. You can't do anything to help him once he is eighteen. He has to apply on his own.

I strongly suggest that you join us on the Parent Emeritus forum as we are all going through the same stuff, or else we did at one time. This forum is great, but it's basically for minor children, which is way different than adult children. Legally it's a different ball of wax. We'd be honored to have you join us over there and you'd get many more responses from some very wise and uber experienced ladies. And they would tell you to concentrate on the people in your life who are kind and loving to you and who appreciate your good heart, like your husband. Do nice things together. Reconnect. difficult child doesn't have to like him. He's not married to him. Do not feel guilty because you did all you could before making him leave and he was defying every rule you ever set down, no matter how reasonable, right? Did he ever do any chores?

Hang in there and maybe see you on Parent Emeritus.


New Member
The "we" I referred to is my husband and I. difficult child wanted to be on his own, based on his choices. Welcome to adulthood, dude.

I have checked out the Emeritus section and found some good threads there. I will definitely post some more there. I sure appreciate the community here. Thanks MWM, for your attention. :smug:


Well-Known Member
Welcome to the board but I am so sorry you had to find us under such difficult times. You will find a great group of parents here who have walked more than a mile in the same shoes as you have. There isn’t much that we haven’t heard, experienced or had happen to us so nothing shocks us anymore. You are now among friends who will gather you into our fold.

Now I will warn you that because we all have been through the wringer with our difficult child's (the problem children who brought us here) we can some times be pretty blunt and tell it like it like it is. That comes from years of dealing with our kids, schools, the police and other various agencies we have all had the pleasure of being involved with. It does get old after awhile as Im sure your you know.

Please take this time to let us know as much as you can about your difficult child. Has he/she ever been diagnosed with any mental health issues and if so when and where? Are they compliant with whatever mental health programs are supposed to be in place if any?

How about substance abuse? If so, what type and when did it start? That can play a part in a downward spiral if your child was fairly okay and suddenly turned into the devil himself.

Whatever the case, we are happy to have you. I also urge you to join us for some talk that isn’t all difficult child related in the Watercooler forum.